Archive for June, 2012

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – What To Do When Henry Hudson is Bowling

Summer is now upon us and along with fun outdoor activities come the threat of some serious weather at times. Thunderstorms especially have frightened me since I was a child. Scary as they may be, I have learned to cope with them and take several precautions to make sure I’m prepared.

I remember camping in the Berkshires during the summer of 1957 and, my dad was always good at distracting me from my fear of storms. On a Thursday afternoon, as thunder and rain cut our swimming time short, my dad teased my brother and me by saying “Henry Hudson was bowling in heaven.” This eased my fear as we tried to dodge the rain drops on our way back to the camp site.

As an adult, I began finding my own ways to cope with thunderstorms. While my father’s humor helped when I was younger, preparedness and preparation would serve as a good distraction in my later years. I would run around closing windows and unplugging unnecessary appliances to be sure that my home stayed dry and certain electronics wouldn’t be destroyed if there was a sudden power surge.

One Friday evening in June of 1991 there was violent thunderstorm in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Marshall and his daughter Pam loved the flashes of lightning and dramatic crashes of thunder. I decided to be brave and joined them in our partially enclosed breezeway. As I heard the heart stopping violent crashes of thunder, I clung to Marshall and thought, “I must be crazy to be out in this storm with them.” As I grew more accustomed to my closer-than-normal interaction with the storm, I went towards our metal screen door was about to touch the handle when a crash of thunder sent me running back to them. I think that, maybe, fate intervened to save me from potential danger on that stormy evening. Marshall always thought I was over-cautious, but advice from NOAA weather and several horror stories have proven me right more often than not.

When I became a widow, I found sure-fire ways of coping with these storms. I always shut off my computer, take out the window fan, and shut windows. I will also not use a landline phone, wash dishes or clothing, and do not cook or use the microwave during a storm.

NOAA weather warns, “If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.” Do not wash dishes or clothing, or shower during a storm. Lightning can travel through pipes and water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Close windows, and when appropriate, turn on air conditioning to stay comfortable. Shut off and unplug desktop computers and avoid corded phones until the storm passes. Most importantly, if you are outdoors swimming or barbecuing or doing other activities, go inside when storms threaten your area.

Since many of us do not have sight to sense approaching storms, there are some ways to tell when one is on its way. First, the air is often very still with oppressive humidity. If the wind ever picks up drastically, a storm will approach your area soon. Increased static on the AM band is one more way you can know that lightning is in your area, as well.

If you like these storms, then spring and summer is the prime time for them all across the country. But no matter where you stand on them, take precautions when they come–they can save your life, electronic equipment, and property.

Letter from the Editor – June 25, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had a nice weekend and have been able to get out and enjoy the summer weather. If it’s anything like what we’re experiencing here, though, you’ll have to enjoy it between thunder storms.

Just one quick announcement before we dive into this week’s content. Next week the magazine will be published on Monday as normal. I’ve gotten some emails from curious readers who were wondering if we would be closed for the holiday week, but since the Fourth of July is on Wednesday, it will not disrupt the magazine. That said, the following week, the magazine will be sent out on Tuesday, July 10, as I will be away that Monday.

That should cover everything for now. Take care, have a wonderful week, and as always, thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Ross Hammond, Editor

Recipe of the Week – Hawaiian Baked Beans and Franks

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

A perfect side for your next barbeque.

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cans baked beans (16 ounces)
1 package frankfurters, cut into 1-inch pieces (16ounces)
1-1/2 cups drained, crushed pineapple
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons Splenda brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Catsup
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Directions:

Combine all ingredients; stir well.

Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes.

Note:

You can substitute mild or hot links for the franks if you want to spice it up a bit

Reader’s Forum for the Week of June 18, 2012

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

In response to Contributor Robert Kingett – Making YouTube Work for You: Part 1 and 2, Mina wrote:

It’s actually not hard to use at all if you use NVDA. I have had no issues with YouTube. Additionally, there are two accessible websites that allow you to use YouTube in a more accessible fashion. I will list them here for you:

http://tube.majestyc.net/ and http://povidi.com/yourtube/

But I still thank the writer for letting us know that certain operations are easier to do on the mobile YouTube website. I do hope the writer will give NVDA a spin on YouTube. The buttons are all labeled. What might not be realized is that some screen readers cannot handle HTML 5 or the scripts do not reflect YouTube’s change to HTML 5. I like it a lot better than Flash.

Here is a tip for NVDA users. If you want to control the volume of the video, simply change modes with NVDA and Space Bar. Then, use your up and down arrows to adjust the volume.

If you have NVDA and never figured out how to do anything on YouTube for the videos, here is what you do.

1. Navigate down to “loading”.
2. Press the Space Bar to make it load and play.
3. Down arrow into “embedded” something. Press Space Bar to enter it. Wait a moment for it to load the HTML 5 controls. After that, you should start hearing them read out all the buttons. Use the arrows or whatever navigation you like to check out each button. Use the Space Bar to toggle it.

3. If you need to access other tabs while it plays or anything else in the page or you want to close the tab, you get out of the focus by using NVDA and control and Space Bar. You will then hear the title bar being read. That is your cue to do what you want. To re-enter the video if you had left the tab up, just arrow down to the embedded controls again and press Space Bar. The focus locks into that again for you.

I know this is not a full tutorial, but I hope it helps someone.
##
In response to Contributor Robert Kingett – Making YouTube Work for You: Part 1 and 2, Chela wrote:

In response to the two part YouTube article, there is another alternative called the basic html-5 version of YouTube, which you have to opt into every time you have a browser upgrade, so, for more info, go to http://www.youtube.com/html5 and follow the simple directions.
##
In response to Contributor Robert Kingett – Making YouTube Work for You: Part 1 and 2, Gerardo wrote:

Wow, what a great learning experience from reading the two YouTube articles! I especially really liked the http://www.povidi.com/yourtube/ site. Being the type of person I am, I like to have an idea of how long a video lasts, especially documentaries and others. Great work! Looking forward to more articles on how to better use these types of things.
##
In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Let’s Go Back to Old School Baseball, Charles wrote:

I’m in total agreement with Bob! I get furious when managers take a pitcher out in the sixth or seventh inning when they’re pitching a shutout, or are leading by, let’s say, 2 runs, and a runner gets on base with two outs, only to bring in a relief pitcher who strikes out the last batter, and then you see a different pitcher in the next inning? They’re wasting pitchers! I also am in total agreement with Bob about making these millionaire players take care of themselves, follow a training schedule that is laid down in advance, or they don’t play. They, just like we, should be expected to do as the boss says, or get out. And this includes the use of illegal drugs and steroids, including alcohol!

I would also like to see the designated hitter rule done away with. Let the American League pitchers bat just like everyone else, and add the strategy of whether to take a pitcher out and be pinch hit for in a critical situation. Let the managers actually manage. But that’s another whole can of worms.

Baseball should be played the way it used to be: Outdoors, on God’s green Earth and grass, under God’s weather, during the day, not at night!
##
In response to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Christine Ha Shows Gordon Ramsey How It’s Done, Bill wrote:

In response to the Christine Ha article on cooking, I am a good cook for a guy, or so I have been told. I have cooked a lot of things like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I also make desserts. I am not brave enough to try bread, but I might get up the courage to take the plunge.

Bill Meinecke
Virginia Beach, Virginia
##
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Who Do You Trust – A Story of Broken Trust, Theft, and Recovery: Parts 1 and 2, Michael wrote:

I had an experience with a cleaner who robed me of money and peace of mind in 1993. I was living alone in Albany, NY and had about six months of successful working with this person, when several checks were written and my signature forged. I talked with my family, got the police involved, and forced restitution.
##
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Who Do You Trust – A Story of Broken Trust, Theft, and Recovery: Parts 1 and 2, Gerald wrote:

In response to Karen Crowder’s article, “Who Do You Trust?” I was the victim two years ago of an unscrupulous home care aide who took advantage of my blindness to rob me of cash and personal property. We had an acrimonious relationship right from the start, and I was forced to fire her after three months of service. On her last day of work, she raced out of my home early in the morning, and it was not until a few hours later that I discovered that about $125 in cash along with some jewelry and a clock radio were missing.

I immediately called the agency that sent her and reported the theft, and their personnel manager promised to speak to her and find out what happened. Not surprisingly, the aide claimed to him that she had not stolen anything, and so he insisted that I must be mistaken about the sudden disappearance of the missing items. I told him that I was certain that the aide had stolen the items, and that I expected an appropriate adjustment to my final bill as compensation, since I was paying for the services of the aide out of my own pocket.

When the agency sent me the final bill with a note that they expected it to be paid in full, I called the personnel manager and told him that I would report his agency to the state Attorney General’s office if they persisted in trying to collect the full amount of the bill because, as far as I was concerned, the aide had not been properly screened. Needless to say, I went ahead and paid the final bill after deducting the cost of the stolen items and never heard from the agency again.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult or impossible to determine in advance whether a home care agency is reliable and trustworthy, especially if you are engaging their services on your own.

Sincerely,
Gerald Levy
##
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Who Do You Trust – A Story of Broken Trust, Theft, and Recovery: Parts 1 and 2, Leol wrote:

Oh yes! I too have had my share of broken trust, theft, and yes, once being reimbursed for a stolen item. Despite the numerous amounts of agencies and aids I have changed over the past four years when I began receiving the service, the problem still continues to date.

It seems to me that it’s a cultural thing in this profession. No one seems to be able to do anything about it or just don’t care about the population they are being paid to serve.

I once reported it to my precinct, but they too told me they can’t do anything about that without factual evidence. They suggested that I should change the agency or have the aide replaced. I have done both on numerous occasions. Another suggestion is that I should try installing cameras in the apartment, which I have not tried yet, so I don’t know how effective that will be.

One thought came to my mind–how about having dogs train to detect theft so when one tries to leave with your belongings, the dog will alert you and some type of action should put in place to be taken. After all, these highly intelligent animals have already been trained to detect all sort of things, couldn’t they be trained to do this as well? Just an idea.

Leol Williams from Brooklyn, NY
##
Barbara Mattson wrote in to say:

Responding to the editor’s previous request for experiences from parents of blind children, I asked my mom to write something on the topic. She’s been slow at it, but I believe it caused her to remember what it was like for her to leave me at the school for the blind every Sunday. I believe this because of the recent event I relate below.

Mom was dropping me off at my condo after we’d been grocery shopping and she got out of the car to help me unload my drinks even though I told her I could get everything OK.

After I’d set all my drinks on the porch, we hugged, and when we separated she said, “I love you.” My face must have shown surprise because I confess that I don’t remember Mom, nor any of us for that matter, ever saying, “I love you,” to each other.

I said, “I love you too,” and went on to observe that I have regularly told some of my aunts and even friends that I love them, but never my family.

Mom said, “There were so many times when I was leaving you at the school, and I wanted to hug you and tell you I loved you, but I was afraid I’d cry and that would make you cry. I would see other tearful parents and their crying children, and I didn’t want that.”

For several years, I’ve been writing a fictitious story of my life from various points of view. It wasn’t until I wrote about being left at the school on Sunday, that I began to see how hard it must have been for my parents to leave their first born in a place full of strangers, walk away, and not come back until Friday.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Proposed Hugging Ban in School

With everything going on in this country right now which affects us as a human race, you would think that the law makers would devote all of their time to fixing these problems. Well, I guess some lawmakers are bored stiff. I recently heard about a city with a school system that wants to ban hugging in class, and if they’re not successful at banning hugs altogether, they want to limit the length of time you hug someone. So, in other words, if I go to that school and decide to hug my classmate, someone has to stand behind us with a stop watch. I thought, according to psychologists, it’s very healthy and beneficial to hug someone. I guess this particular school system would prefer that you wait until you get home.

Can legislators please stop being so picky? I can’t wait to find out the school system’s reason for wanting to prohibit hugging in class. This is going to be outrageous–I know it!

Some people believe that the reason why this particular school system wants to ban hugging is because of fear that the hugging will lead to more intimate activities. I am willing to guarantee these school officials that preventing hugging in class won’t stop anything that the kids may want to do later. I attended Perkins School for the Blind, which is a private school. Most of the students lived on campus, so their activities were monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, either by the principal, the study hall supervisor, the house parent, the dean, etc. While I was a student, you could not kiss or hold anyone’s hand without being punished, yet several girls ended up pregnant anyway. If this happens at a private school where no one goes home all week, how can anyone think that they can control behavior at a public school, where kids only spend several hours before going home? Are these school officials next going to suggest that the students don’t hug after school either in case something more intimate happens?

It’s also been suggested that the proposed hugging ban will prevent the display of emotion between students. If that’s true, I have a question for these school officials. Have they turned on the television lately or listened to today’s music? Every other television channel shows couples who are extremely intimate, most of whom have very little clothing on. A great deal of the lyrics of today’s music encourages sexual activity. How can a lawmaker expect to compete with what society is offering the kids outside of school? The problem does not originate in class; it’s a social issue that needs to be addressed on a more general level. If I go to a public school and restrain myself from hugging my classmate all day, doesn’t anyone realize that if I wanted, I will try to make up for it when I go home? The only part of a student’s life that these officials want to control is six hours per day. There are 18 other hours in the day for kids to do things and, as I said, if girls were getting pregnant at a residential private school, despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to kiss or hold hands with boys, then how can a law which stops hugging for six hours a day do much at all?

The best way to teach a student about hugging, intimacy, and sex, is to have the proper education, either in school or at home. I am very proud to say that I received a quality education on this subject in the eighth grade, and I learned my lessons very, very well. Constant communication with a child about this subject is very beneficial, because now we’re talking about how the child spends their life, not just a few hours a day in class.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The History of Father’s Day

The first Father’s Day celebration was held in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908, in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal church. Grace Golden Clay was still mourning the tragic death of her father, who had perished in the December1907 Monongah mining disaster, which killed 367 men. 250 fathers perished, leaving 1,000 children fatherless. This service was held to remember her dad and everyone else who had died. Grace Golden Clay was a quiet woman who did not promote this celebration as Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington would a couple of years later in 1910.

Sonora Dodd, born in Arkansas, honored her father William Jackson with a Father’s Day service at the YMCA on June 19, 1910. It was her wish that her father be remembered as a Civil War veteran and a single parent who raised his six children all alone.

Sonora began promoting the celebration of Father’s Day as a nationally-recognized holiday, but it failed to gain the speedy momentum that Mother’s Day had enjoyed. She promoted the day until the early 1920s when her studies at the Chicago Art Institute took more of her time and attention.

The idea of Father’s Day did not fade in to complete obscurity, though, and in the1930s, trade groups and the New York Father’s Day council would not let the idea die. They promoted the selling of ties, smoking paraphernalia, Father’s Day cards, toiletries and shaving products, and other items to give Dad on Father’s day.

Years later in 1957, Margaret Chase, a U.S. Senator from Maine, would shame congress by accusing them of” ignoring fathers for forty years.” In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson finally recognized it as a holiday, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a national holiday.

According to Wikipedia Father’s Day has had less commercial success than Mother’s Day. We honor our dads with sporting events, grooming or electronic gadgets, a quiet meal at home, or taking him out to dinner.

In most of the Western world, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. We are one of the only countries who celebrate it as a national holiday. In countries like Italy and Portugal, it is celebrated on March 19, on the feast of Saint Josephin Lebanon, and Egypt’s Father’s Day is celebrated June 21, the first day of summer. The global celebration of Father’s Day continues to vary with Russia, where it is celebrated on February 23. Other countries will celebrate it anywhere from May to November.

When I was younger, we honored our dad by giving him gifts for himself for our home. We would also either have a dinner or barbecue, depending on the weather, showing our love and appreciation.

How have Ziegler readers honored their dad? Tell us about it in the Reader’s Forum.

Source: www.wikipedia.org

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Verona on the Boardwalk

The first time I worked with Verona on a boardwalk was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We stayed at one of the hotels there and after checking in, set out to find a nearby delicatessen. Within minutes, Verona figured out that she needed to stay in the center of the wide expanse to avoid foot traffic in both directions. After a few blocks, I noticed she was slanted and I asked my husband to follow us and tell me what was happening. He dropped back and after a short time, he caught up with us.

“She’s walking funny. I think the boards are slanted and she won’t step in the cracks.”
We both stopped and started laughing. I never thought of that. It must seem very odd to a dog that the slanted, herring bone patterned boards could be not only confusing but also feel strange; after all, she was doing it in bare feet.

We hupped up and finally found our shop, and then headed back to the hotel. By the time we returned, Verona wasn’t walking funny anymore and had apparently gotten accustomed to the strange walkway pattern she had encountered.

When I first began training with Verona, I didn’t understand the feelings conveyed through the harness handle. Now, thanks to a few years of experience, I know them well. For example, I know when there is another dog around just from the way she prances and pulls. I know if there are birds distracting her, too, as she drops her head and jerks left or right. I know her side-to-side shuffle to warn me not to take another step or I’ll be sorry. I learned that one the hard way when I didn’t stop and slammed my right knee into a low, concrete bench. I know the hard, frantic pull telling me she has to relieve herself. Best of all, I know the tail wagging, jaunty, and endearing pull telling me she sees a loved one. How she manages to walk and wag still mystifies me.

We’ve been back to the boardwalk once more since that first time and she seemed to remember those strange boards, because she was no longer walking funny, and in fact, appears to love to strut out in the fresh sea air and sunshine.

What’s your favorite place to go with your guide dog? Tell us in the next Reader’s forum.

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – From Humble Beginnings

In January 1950, Pilot Dogs, Inc. was chartered as a nonprofit, the foundation having been laid by Stanley Doran, vision impaired since the 7th grade; Charles W. Medick, the father of a blind child; and Everett R. Steece, an administrator for what was then called Services for the Blind in Ohio. Bishop Bernard J. Sheil from Chicago, IL took an interest in the new school, as did Henry Staffel, President of Perk Foods, who provided significant financial support. Mr. Staffel set up a program in which Returning Veterans Brand Dog Food labels were collected, with prime collections having been done by the Illinois American Legion Auxiliary. The return of 850,000 labels generated an annual income of $60,000 for Pilot.

From its humble beginning of training four students in 1950, Pilot now trains over 150 people each year, and has matched over 5,000 guide dog teams at their Columbus, OH facility.

In 1960, Lions Clyde R. Tipton and Dwight Swepston from the Tri-Village Club presented a motion at the state convention of the Ohio Lions to adopt Pilot Dogs as a state project. With the passage of that motion and permission from Lions International, Pilot is now called, “Lions Pilot Dogs.” Over 500 clubs now give to Lions Pilot, and it is this type of support which enables the school to provide services at no cost to its students. These services include: round trip transportation, a month of training, and each student having a private room and the Pilot Dog.

Some of the breeds that Pilot uses are: Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and standard poodles. Though trainers try their best to match prospective guide dog users with their preferred breeds, the main criterion trainers use is the type of dog they feel will best meet a student’s needs. Another positive aspect of Pilot’s training is that they keep their classes small to provide more individualized support.

To complete an application or for more information, visit www.pilotdogs.org; write to 625 West Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215; call 1-614-221-6367; or fax 1-614-221-1577.

Did any of you attend Pilot? If so, feel free to share your experience in Readers Forum.

Source: www.pilotdogs.org

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – iPhone App Updates

On the heels of Apple’s exciting news regarding iOS 6, I thought I’d offer a list of apps which I’ve recently purchased that have made my iPhone a thing of fun and productive beauty. During the past two weeks I’ve been absolutely app-crazy. I would read a Tweet about an app; open www.applevis.com (an informative source for reviews, podcasts, and more); install the app and pronounce it worthy or not. Be warned: All apps are not free.

Not a fan of Facebook, I do have an account and check it sporadically to see what my “friends” are up to. So it was with great hopefulness that I installed two apps–VoiceBook and Focus for Facebook. It took some time before I got the hang of working with VoiceBook, as you need to perform a one-finger swipe to move through the status updates. While it is a text-based site that does the job, I still found the swiping a bit cumbersome. Focus for Facebook, however, is an app that reminds me more of my Twitter apps, in that my friends are in a friendly list which can be navigated very easily with a three-finger swipe up or down. I have not yet posted on Focus for Facebook, but its easy interface just might cause me to face it more often.

For those of us who do not have the incredible (or frustrating) Siri, we must content ourselves with finding apps that at least come close to her magical powers. The Voice Dictation app (not to be confused with the Dragon Dictation app) does the trick for me. Open the app, double-tap on the screen to begin your recording, and double-tap to stop it. It’s that easy. I have turned recording sounds on for my convenience. Once done, you will be prompted as to the action you would like to take with your recording. You can edit the text, send it as a text message, e-mail, it, send it to Facebook or Twitter, and save it to the popular online storage service known as DropBox if you so desire.

Speaking of DropBox, I am absolutely in love with an app called DropVox, with a “V.” This little gem allows me to create recordings that are immediately saved to my DropBox account. All I needed to do was provide my DropBox username and password (these days known as my credentials), start recording, and it is magically whisked there. I’ve been recording my contracted Braille lessons using the app and find it an indispensable learning tool.

The acquisition of these apps has facilitated my learning to move them around from screen to screen. My home screen bears little resemblance to the original layout, but it suits my needs just fine–for now!

More amazing apps to come in an upcoming piece. Stay tuned!

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Turning Sign Language into Speech

Imagine living in a world where a very small part of the population could understand your way of communicating. This is the world that the deaf live in. They are able to communicate with each other and those who know sign language, but they’re cut off from communicating with much of society. A team of engineers at the University of Houston is on a quest to change this, and they’ve recently developed a prototype device that turns sign language into speech and speech into sign.

The handheld device consists of a built-in microphone, sound board, camera, and monitor. When the device is put on a table, the deaf person can begin to sign. The camera films the person signing and then those images are translated into speech. Since the device also has a built in microphone, someone who doesn’t know sign language can talk into the device and it will then translate that into virtual sign language on the monitor for the deaf person.

During the development, the team reached out to the deaf community to find out what would work best for them. They said that the hardest part was compiling all of the signs. As a result, each sign has an average of 200 to 300 images associated with it. Their goal is to be as accurate in their interpretation of the person signing as possible and so a thorough catalog is necessary.

The doors that this kind of device would open could be endless. For one thing, it could be used as an alternative to paid interpreters, or as a backup plan when an interpreter isn’t available.
The device is just a prototype right now, but hopefully it will turn into a product that can be purchased in the near future.

One person who I spoke with mentioned that the team is considering a mobile app platform, which would likely be a better solution than an external device. With the advances in camera sensors and mobile computing power, this would be a great portable option. Either way, it’s very exciting.

I myself don’t know sign language and would really like to be able to converse with members of the deaf community without struggling over our barriers of them not hearing and me not seeing.

Source: http://zeenews.india.com/business/news/technology/soon-device-to-translate-sign-language-into-audible-words_779393.html