Archive for December, 2011

Reader’s Forum – December 19, 2011

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – What to Do for your Cold and/or Flu? Samuel wrote:

I write to comment after reading Lynne Tatum’s article of Ziegler, December 5, 2011, titled “What Do You Do for Your Cold and/or Flu?”, where she talked about the various medications she used in the course of treating her cold. I believe in spending money on good food, eating healthy, no matter how the food may taste, smell, feel, or sound, than spending money on good medicines. “Positively draconian” as the remedy suggested to Lynne Tatum by her aunt may be, science has proven countless times that pepper can serve as a good and natural remedy for colds, the flu, sore throats and even irritations. She (Lynne Tatum) even testified to this truth by saying that the black pepper concoction did help to some extent but she couldn’t continue with its administration every night.

Well, I think rather waiting for a cold to strike before seeking a solution, we can do better by preventing ourselves; besides, “prevention is better than cure.” This prevention method can be achieved by including some quantity of natural pepper regularly in our meals.

If life must be lived to the fullest, I think we should be willing to make some sacrifices, no matter how discomforting, unpleasurable or negative they may be to us. Life is not all sugar and spice, and all things nice, but also Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails!
For more information on the pepper-remedy visit www.jcrows.com/cayenne.html or simply google for the benefits of pepper; you’ll be amazed what you’ll discover about pepper!
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In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Black Friday is a Joke, Alison wrote:

I agree with you that Black Friday has gone too far! I am a traditionalist too, who believes Thanksgiving should be a family day. I am 21 years old and enjoy having the latest technology, but I have never wanted anything bad enough to camp out in front of a store to get in at midnight. For the sake of the poor store employees who make minimum wage yet must leave their families to work the store, it makes me sad how many people cannot wait.

The only shopping I generally enjoy on Black Friday is shopping for the perfect family Christmas tree at our local tree farm. This year, my parents made a bit of an exception as they wanted to take advantage of a sale at the Apple store to get me an iPad, but I will never do that again. Even in the evening when we went, the store was so crowded and noisy that I couldn’t hear the voiceover when the store worker tried to demonstrate it for me and I didn’t get the personal attention that I probably could have gotten on a less busy day. Bargains are nice, but not always worth joining the frenzy.
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In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Black Friday is a Joke, Karen wrote:

I liked Bob Branco’s comments about black Friday what a farce it has become. It is sad we are imparting the wrong values to children that shopping is more important than spending valuable time with family.

People do not realize that if you really want to save money on gifts that you can wait until the week or even a few days before Christmas. One year my husband shopped for me on Christmas Eve day. Almost everything he bought me was half the original price. The waffle sandwich maker was $30, not forty dollars. The Jeanne Natae and Wind song were a half off at the Walgreen drug store. So if people really want to save money wait until Christmas week to buy gifts. After Christmas sales are great, as well, and often everything is over half off and you can buy wrapping paper and such too.

So these are a few suggestions on how people can save and not rush out on Black Friday. It used to be a pleasant day to do shopping but not now.
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Shelley McMullen wrote in to say:

I know before I submit this that it may produce a lot of controversy among Ziegler readers. These are issues that have concerned me for a very long time so I feel compelled to address them!

First let me state that I have been a dog guide user since May of 1975 which is over half of my life. For me, having a dog as a guide has enhanced my independence more than I can ever explain! Furthermore, over the years my dogs have been my best friends and have been wonderful companions who have loved me unconditionally when I haven’t always been lovable. They have accompanied me to work where they have patiently and quietly remained obedient all day long. My dogs over the years have been loyal and have forgiven me when I didn’t feel well enough to go for a walk.

When I think about all these dogs give up in order to become guides and faithful companions it almost makes me cry. I am so filled with emotion and gratitude for the dogs, their puppy raisers, trainers, and all of the schools who train them.

Now to the heart of the matter. When I received my first dog in May of 1975 my class was told that the dogs are taught to work for us because they want to please us and want to keep us safe. However, within probably the last 10 years many of the dog guide schools including the one that my dogs are from has started using treats for the purpose of weaning the dog from its trainer and for encouraging the dog to work for the blind student. I abide by this rule when I am in training, but honestly have to say that the rule no longer applies once I return home with my dog. I don’t want my dog to work for food. Besides it may not always be convenient to pull a treat from one’s pocket. It concerns me that students feed their dogs treats in public. To me the messages that are being sent to the general public are confusing and misleading in situations such as I have mentioned.

I understand that students of the recent past may like this method of training, because that is all they are familiar with. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned verbal and physical praise?

Secondly many of the schools are using less and less leash corrections as a part of training. Keep in mind that every dog and the amount of correction it requires is different. For those of you who don’t know a leash correction is a quick snap of the leash which is attached to the dog’s collar to reprimand the dog for something that it has done that is wrong. The correction does not hurt the dog, it simply startles the dog temporarily and helps the dog to refocus on its work. Schools are now verbally correcting more, and implementing the use of the gentle leader, a type of head collar instead. This I agree is an effective tool in some situations, but does not replace a quick well-timed leash correction. To me correcting is just like anything else. It requires good common sense and appropriate timing.
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In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Accessible Christmas Gifts, Barbara Mattson wrote:

According to the emails I’ve been receiving from Long’s Electronics, they are out of business.

Health and Science – 17 Year Old Girl Invents Nanoparticle That Kills Cancer

I don’t know about you, but when I was 17 years old, I was worried about the next test coming up and wondering if the girl who sat in front of me in English class liked me or not. It’s a good thing some other 17 year olds are doing something exceedingly more productive.

Angela Zhang from Cupertino, California just won a one hundred thousand dollar grand prize at the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology for designing an “image-guided, photo-thermal controlled drug releasing multifunctional nanosystem for the treatment of cancer stem cells.” When I was 17, I made a nice drawing of a tree once.

That design title in and of itself is impressive, but the purpose behind it is revolutionary and may mean huge things for cancer treatment. Her design is an improvement on current cancer treatments because it delivers drugs directly into tumor cells without affecting the healthy cells surrounding them. This new nanoparticle is also able to be activated by a laser, offering doctors a means to control when, where, and how drugs are deployed into a patient.

When asked why she decided to focus on cancer treatment, she spoke about the deaths of her grandfather and great-grandfather. “I asked, ‘Why does this happen? Why does cancer cause death? What are we doing to fix this and what can I do to help?’ she said.

While her invention won’t be ready to use in actual patients for a little while, to make room for testing, it is already being called the “Swiss army knife of cancer treatments” because of the vast array of uses it may bring to the table.

While many people may question the actions of younger generations, young people like Angela–who put over 1,000 hours into this project–should serve as a beacon of hope that there are those who have chosen to focus on the serious issues that affect all of us in order to advance medical technology and treatment. With innovations in nanotechnology happening all the time, it will be interesting to see what will come out next that will change the world of tomorrow.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP27e6b4fd88bf44e49660ba127407d5f4.html

Op Ed With Bob Branco – Separating Work and the Family

Most of you know that I am vocal about modern society and how it has affected our old school way of thinking.

Last night, I attended a softball rules committee meeting. As you know, a meeting–by definition–is important, and when we sit in on a meeting, we’re supposed to pay close attention to what’s going on in order to resolve problems and establish new policies. Well, the chairperson of the meeting decided to bring her 3-year-old, her 10-year-old and her 12-year-old daughters. Just for giggles, I dare you to assure me that if I bring a 3, 10, and 12 year old to a meeting, that we’re going to accomplish a lot.

Last night, while the chairperson was speaking, there were numerous occasions when she was interrupted by one of her kids about homework, food, or going to the bathroom. Before I continue, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me. Not only do I love children, but I know these particular kids pretty well. This is not about the kids. It’s about parents making plans. It’s not even about last night. I find that in general, in today’s society, more and more parents feel that they can take their children to their jobs, to meetings, and to whatever else.

While the meeting affected me personally and spawned the topic of this article, there are other situations where distractions can be much more disruptive. I’ve known personal care attendants who have brought their children to the client’s house quite often. I’ve heard cases where the PCA is trying to work on the client, but is distracted by the child. Of course the parent is going to be distracted by the child, though. Several years ago, a woman came to the house to give me a haircut. She brought her little daughter with her. The child had a serious ear ache, and her mother was so distracted by the situation that she left a big pile of hair on the floor after my haircut. Before parents go to work, they should have their children settled. To me, a job is a job. You can’t bring your child into the operating room if you’re a surgeon. You can’t bring your child to a law office if you’re the secretary, you can’t bring your child to the restaurant if you’re the short order cook, you can’t bring your child to the insurance office while you are the insurance adjuster, and you can’t bring your child to your bank teller’s job while you handle millions of dollars behind a desk all day long. So why do people who perform personal care justify bringing their children to the job when the object of distraction is evident?

Your thoughts are welcome in the Readers’ Forum.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Five Non-traditional Ways to Give and Celebrate During the Holidays

Persistent online radio and TV ads entice Americans to buy gifts from November to Christmas day. In 2011, many consumers are tuning out this constant advertising, wishing for a simpler, more meaningful holiday season.

Here are five suggestions for bringing joy and meaning back to Christmas as we knew it.

1. Bake or cook many of your gifts. This is a great way to surprise friends and family with your favorite recipes. My grandson always requests my oatmeal cookies, which he has loved since childhood. At our Christmas celebrations on Marden Street in Fitchburg, everyone went home laden with gifts which included peanut butter chocolate chip and oat meal cookies, home-made rolls, brownies, and fudge. Friends and family will love the thought, creativity, and time put in to preparing these unique gifts.

2 Treat friends or family members out to a meal at their favorite restaurant. With packed schedules and our trying economy, this will be truly welcome.

3 If you are good at crafts, sewing, knitting, or making potpourri are all gifts that will be cherished for years. One Christmas, a friend gave me a lovely well-made button on towel that often hangs on the handle of my refrigerator door. I use it to dry my hands and often think of the time she took to make this for me. I have a hand-made floral-scented cotton potpourri in my bureau drawer. The woman who made it has a beautiful garden and she patiently dries flowers and herbs during the summer to make gifts for Christmas. I admire blind or sighted friends who knit scarves, hats, gloves, or afghans. These items are welcome during our cold New England winters.

4. This is a perfect time to call or visit our relatives, family, and friends. It is fun catching up on our lives and laughing while we share cherished memories and create new ones. In 2010, I enjoyed spending time with my step-daughter and her family in Northern Maine. The week flew by as we chatted, shared meals, and exchanged gifts

5. A Braille labeled movie, CD, or cassette is a treat to a blind friend on Christmas morning. If you can purchase a Braille book it will be cherished for many years. My 46-year-old copy of Easy Ways to Delicious meals by Campbell’s soup may still be in my cook book collection.

No matter what you celebrate during this holiday season, I wish all of you a fun-filled time with family and friends.

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – My Audio

Ever-searching for the perfect sound experience, I’ve recently gone through yet another audio arrangement. In that vein, I was prompted to think about the multitude of boom-boxes, bookshelf stereos and speakers I’ve listened to through the years. I’m very pleased with my current audio equipment, but there might be some additions in the coming months.

I once owned a bookshelf stereo called an iSymphony. I thought it the most advanced all-in-one unit as it not only had a radio, CD player and iPod dock but ports for a USB flash drive and an SD card. Now if only speech had been included. I learned to operate it by sound and by seeing the little lights that indicated which component was in use. You might be wondering about the audio quality of the iSymphony. It was quite good but something went awry with the speakers and I could no longer abide listening to the unit.

Have you noticed that you can barely purchase a system without the ubiquitous iPod docking station? At least that’s the annoyance I had to endure when shopping at RadioShack. I have taken to making certain that when I shop online I’m only buying speakers these days. I know the sound I want and am only satisfied once it’s been achieved.

Now, let’s talk about the sought-after Bose Wave Music System that I purchased from the venerable David Venable on QVC. I gladly gave it to my sister. Why, you ask? It did not possess the sound that I cherish. There were crisp highs and a thumping base, but no mid-range. Additionally, I was never able to successfully connect my mp3 players to it. I am hoping that perhaps the Bose sound has improved over time. I, however, have moved on to my favorite sound source, the truly mighty products from Altec-Lansing. Before I leave Bose, though, they must be commended for their payment plans and accessible remote controls. I’m very glad it’s getting some use rather than sitting silent and forlorn on my bookshelf.

Many years ago a wise salesperson recommended the incredible Altec-Lansing products to me. With a few audio detours, I’ve always come back to the warm, rich, powerful sound of their audio gear. How pleased I was to find a set of outstanding speakers with a stand-alone woofer for under $50 at www.amazon.com. I’m currently hearing my JAWS screen reader through them and am eager to return to listening to my extensive holiday music collection. I’ll enjoy many hours of listening pleasure if I don’t manage to poke my finger through the thin covering over the speaker grill.

I wish you all peace, joy and the most stellar listening experience possible this holiday season.

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Does Rudolph Promote Bullying?

I hate singing, “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer!” I hate it because I never seem to get right the sequence in which the reindeer names occur. Not to be a total “bah humbug,” though, I will add that I have always enjoyed the song’s happy ending, and will sing it cheerfully if asked.

As most of you probably know, Rudolph is also a movie–with George May having written the story in 1939 and the movie first airing in 1964. Having not seen the movie since grade school, I have no opinion about it, but George Giulianni certainly does. This author, licensed psychologist and special education professor at Long Island University C.W. Post campus says that Rudolph sends the wrong message to children by promoting bullying.

“Rudolph is treated very, very badly, and this should never happen,” Giulianni asserts. Dr. Giulianni further makes his case by stating that the movie promotes not only bullying but also exclusion, favoritism, hypocrisy, manipulation, rejection and sexism.

During a debate on Fox and Friends, Giulianni says, “At the very beginning of the movie, Rudolph is rejected by Donner, his father, because Rudolph was born with the disability of having a nose that shone red.”

“Sexism,” Giulianni continues “is shown when Hermey, one of the elves, wants to become a dentist but is told that he can’t because elves are permitted only to make toys. And not just toys, but perfect toys, with any toy that is less than perfect being labeled a “misfit,”–a word used 27 times in this less than an hour long film. Imperfect toys are sent to a far-off island, never to be loved by a little girl or boy.”

“How would you feel,” Giulianni asks “if your child’s teacher sent him or her home for being different and told the rest of the class that they were never to play with your child!” Host Carlson ended this Fox and Friends debate by exclaiming, “It’s just a cartoon!”

Cartoon or not, Giulianni feels so strongly about this that he has even written a book entitled, “No More Bullies At the North Pole.” Giulianni rewrites this classic by having Mrs. Claus–called “Mama” in the original movie–point out Santa’s bad behavior immediately. She does this by mentioning ten things that are wrong at the North Pole and then goes about correcting them. The ending in this revision, geared toward elementary school children, is happy, but without Rudolph having to perform an extraordinary feat to be accepted. (“No More Bullies At the North Pole” can be downloaded as an E-book from www.allaboutbullying.com).

Just as Fox’s Gretchen Carlson wasn’t convinced by Giulianni’s argument, neither is Dr. Paul Friday of Pittsburgh’s Shadyside Psychological Services. In fact, Friday describes Rudolph’s story as “innocent and nice.”

“To take this story and make it into something with psychological or sociological pathology…I think Dr. Giulianni has too much time on his hands,” Dr. Friday concluded.

Let me know in Reader’s Forum if you think Rudolph sends the wrong message to children, especially when it comes to accepting classmates with disabilities. If you attended a school for the blind or deaf/blind, did bullying take place there?

Sources: www.allaboutbullying.com, www.bullyingintheworkplace.org, cbs/pittsburgh.com, google.com, huffingtonpost.com, syracuse.com and the TV show Fox and Friends.

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – The Cyber- Saga Continues

A few months ago I did the unthinkable, upgrading my home computer from Windows XP to Windows 7 and from JAWS 10 to JAWS 13. Having switched from a desktop unit to a laptop years ago, I once again ordered a Dell product, going for an Inspiron with a 15” display and built-in full bodied speakers that amaze me with clear, powerful sound.

The trouble began when JAWS kept freezing, skipping, and plain just not performing. The technical assistance from Freedom Scientific was not helpful and I felt they watched the clock every time I called. An email did not improve troubleshooting attempts, either. I then received the patch and proceeded to upgrade and it crashed my computer. By this time, I’d been without a reliable computer for over a month and was significantly behind in meeting many deadlines, including writing features for the Ziegler.

Then, one day last week I received an email from Serotech stating that they were discounting the price of System Access Mobile, another popular screen reading program equal to JAWS. After talking with a great salesperson, I took the deal and have been using it for a few weeks.

The installation was simple, the basic commands are the same and the few I need to remember will not impede my progress or the usability of the product. The only drawback is the speaking voices, but I’m getting used to them and plan to purchase the Natural speech package sometime after the holidays.

So, I’m trying to catch up and hope my experience lends a bit of caution when we upgrade. While I wanted it to go smoothly, it didn’t and it challenged my ability to improvise, adapt and overcome.

What have been your experiences with upgrading your hardware and software? Tell us in the Reader’s forum.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Zoomtext 10 Overview: Part 1

A few weeks ago, Ai Squared released Zoomtext version 10. You can purchase Zoomtext Magnifier, which will give you all of the magnification and screen enhancements. If you need all of these enhancements and more, you can purchase Zoomtext Magnifier/Reader, which will give you the ability to also use a host of screen reading features. New in Zoomtext ten, is the ability to connect and use an HD Webcam to act as a CCTV. This will work if you use the magnifier or the magnifier/reader version of Zoomtext.

After starting the software, the Zoomtext Control Panel appears on the screen. There is a menu bar containing all of the options you may choose. If you go to the left side of the Control Panel, you will notice the Zoomtext logo. To the right of this logo there are three buttons labeled as follows–Magnifier, Reader and Tools. These buttons can be clicked with the mouse, which then causes several buttons to be displayed under one of these three main buttons. For example, if you click the magnifier button, then under the magnifier button you will see the following choices–Power, Type, Color, Pointer, Curser, Fonts, Desktop, Web and Text. These are all of the options you can change under the Magnifier button. If you click on the Reader button, the options will then change to Rate, Typing, Mouse, Verbos, App. Reader, Doc Reader, Zones and Speak it.

Zoomtext can be adjusted with the use of a mouse or by learning keyboard shortcuts. In either case, the manual is well written and gives you step by step instructions for learning to use the many features of Zoomtext. If you have a hard copy of the manual, note that it is written in large print and for each tool mentioned, a color photo is provided to show you the tool next to its description. The range of magnification that you can use with Zoomtext is from 1x to 36x. Even if you were to put the magnification all the way up to 36x, the display you see is still crisp and clear. You can have Zoomtext magnify the entire screen or you can have it magnify portions of the screen. This is useful for those who have loss of vision in a particular field of their eye. For example, you could have Zoomtext only magnify the left portion of the screen. This would be helpful for someone who only had usable vision out of the left portion of their left eye.
Stay tuned for the next article which will discuss more features found in Zoomtext.

Feature Writer John Christie – Inexpensive Gift Giving Ideas for Blind Consumers

It’s that time of year when gift giving is brought into the spotlight. Hopefully, the following gift giving ideas will assist you in obtaining gifts for that hard to get person.

For that blind cook on your list, you might want to get Braille Measuring Cups and Braille Measuring spoons. These can be purchased from Specialty Adaptations. The cups cost $17.99 and the measuring spoons cost $12.99.

The Orbit iBill Reader, which can be purchased from Independent Living Aids for $99, can read all denominations of U.S. Bills. In addition, you get free shipping on this item.

Blind Bargains is another good site where you might find a bargain. Just go to www.blindbargains.com and either look around or subscribe to the blind bargains email list. For instance, I found a Pac Mate and Braille Display for a very reasonable price.

If you’re looking for a Digital Voice Recorder without all the bells and whistles, you may want to get the one manufactured by The American Printing House for the Blind. The Wilson Digital Voice Recorder, Version 3 cost $34.95 and is an easy to use digital voice recorder. The device can record up to 12 hours of voice messages. In addition, you can download your messages to your computer using the included USB cable.

The National Braille Press has some great gift ideas as far as books are concerned. For instance, they have a book called George Foreman’s Indoor Grilling Made Easy for $19.95. They also have a book called “Getting Started with the iPhone An Introduction for Blind Users” in various formats for $18. In addition, they also have books for children as well as a book For the Month Club for children. You can browse their bookstore for more information at http://www.nbp.org/

NBP also has other great gift ideas besides books. They have a Dr. Seuss Wall Calendar for $13.99. This Print/Braille calendar has quotes from Dr. Seuss’s books. It also has the dates and days in Print/braille. This calendar always sells out, so purchase it soon. For other gift ideas from NBP, you can download their catalog on their web site at the website mentioned above.

If you own an Apple device and are blind or know someone who is blind that owns one, a tactile screen protector may be just what Santa could order. These Protectors enhance the accessibility of Apple Devices. These make the on screen keyboard accessible. These devices can be purchased from either AT Guys or Solona. Solona also offers iPad Protectors with full Braille labeling for the on screen keyboard.

These are just a few gift ideas that can be purchased for either yourself or another blind person. In coming up with these ideas, the goal was to keep the price down so that the average person could purchase these products.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – The Tandem Ride of a Lifetime

In 2009, Christi Bruchok and Tauru Chaw rode across the country on a tandem bike. This may not sound so amazing, until you realize that both of them are visually impaired. After making that trek they decided to make their next tandem adventure even bigger. Last week, they flew to Argentina, and for the next 18 months, they’ll be riding from Argentina to Alaska. The journey will be 16,000 miles, and along the way they’ll be visiting schools for the blind to inspire children to believe that anything is possible.

The goal of the journey is primarily to raise awareness, but it is also a fundraiser for the couple’s chosen charity. Christi and Tauru have decided to support Research to Prevent Blindness, a small non-profit that spends 90% of their funds on research. You can give to RPB by visiting the support section of their website.

As they were preparing to set off on their journey last week, they hit a slight hurdle. The airline they were using to get to Argentina decided not to allow them to put their tandem on the plane even though they had called and cleared it with the airline before arriving at the airport. Thankfully, though, they were able to send it using UPS and the airline is reimbursing them for the cost of shipping the bike. They’re currently in Buenos Aires and hope to start their long journey north next week.

Please visit their website to follow their journey: http://www.twoblindtoride.org