Consumer Vision – Feb 2017

Consumer Vision – Feb 2017

February 2017

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Phone: 508-994-4972
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editor: Terri Winaught
Proofreaders: Leonore and David Dvorkin


Each article’s title will be separated from its author by three asterisks ***.

For your convenience and to make using your browser’s search feature easier, three asterisks *** will also be used between articles.

Finally, three asterisks *** will be used between recipes in Karen Crowder’s column as well as Readers’ Forum and Special Notices when those features contain more than one item.


2. HEALTH MATTERS *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

4. TECH CORNER *** by Stephen Théberge

5. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH *** by James R. Campbell

6. SOCIETY CORNER *** by Bob Branco

7. SPECIAL NOTICES *** Compiled by Bob Branco and Leonore Dvorkin

8. WEATHER OR NOT *** by Steve Roberts

9. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Annie Chiappetta

10. READERS’ FORUM *** Compiled by Bob Branco

11. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein

12. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

13. CBS (CHARLES BONNET SYNDROME) *** by Ernie Jones

14. KIDS, APPLES, AND CONSEQUENCES *** by John Justice




Dear Readers,

I hope you are enjoying the new features that we have added to Consumer Vision. Now that we have combined these with our other features, we believe that our magazine offers a broader and more general focus on the consumer. While we will continue to address blindness topics, we must remember that blind people are people first and have the same concerns as everyone else. We try to make our magazine as consumer-oriented as we possibly can. We all care about our health, our self-image, the weather, business, and current events. I hope our efforts meet with your approval and that you continue to benefit from the subject matters we focus on.

Bob Branco


by Leonore H. Dvorkin

The Benefits of Herbs and Spices – Part One

Winter is a great time to indulge in some baking. With that in mind, here’s an article on the benefits of some common spices and herbs, from cinnamon to ginger to thyme to turmeric. So go get yourself a cup of peppermint tea, then relax and enjoy the read!

Botanically, herbs and spices are classified as fruits and vegetables. They’ve been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes in many cultures throughout history. They’re high in antioxidants because they no longer contain the water that makes up such a large part of fresh produce. They can add a lot of flavor to food, making it less likely that you will need to add fat, salt, or sugar in order to make your food taste good.

Their nutritional content can be quite impressive. One teaspoon of ground ginger has as many antioxidants as a cup of spinach. A teaspoon of thyme has as many antioxidants as a carrot or one-half cup of chopped tomatoes. A teaspoon of dried oregano has as many antioxidants as one-half cup of chopped asparagus. There is ongoing research into the ability of herbs and spices to boost metabolism, aid in weight control, and promote satiety (a feeling of fullness).

Black pepper may be common, but it’s a standout when it comes to health benefits. It improves digestion by increasing the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid. It helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas and helps stimulate the breakdown of fat cells. It’s also an antioxidant and supplies manganese, iron, and fiber.

Cinnamon, an extremely popular spice, comes in more than 100 varieties. I’ve always loved it; buttery cinnamon-sugar toast and my mother’s small, dense cinnamon rolls were two of my favorite childhood treats. But ever since I was diagnosed a couple of years ago as pre-diabetic, I’ve appreciated the well-documented ability of even small amounts of this spice, as little as one-quarter teaspoon per day, to help reduce blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. Other benefits of cinnamon include the reduction of cholesterol levels and triglycerides and some antioxidant activity. Just smelling this wonderful spice can boost brain function and reduce irritability. It also supplies manganese, fiber, and iron. Besides using it in baked goods, try sprinkling it on coffee, toast, yogurt, or cottage cheese. It can give an interesting twist to the flavors of chicken and ground meat.

Cloves are the unopened buds of an evergreen tree. They can be used as a pickling spice or to make drinks such as mulled wine. A warming spice, clove can help relieve congestion. Clove oil relieves a toothache. The eugenol in the oil is anti-inflammatory, and it can help relieve the stiffness and pain of arthritis.

Ginger, common in many Asian cuisines, has been eaten for more than 4,000 years and was one of the first spices traded in Western Europe. It can help ease motion sickness and inhibit vomiting; in 1983, the British found that powdered ginger is twice as effective as Dramamine. It can help ease the side effects of chemotherapy. Gingerols (compounds in ginger) also appear to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help reduce the pain of arthritis. Ginger also supplies potassium. One ounce of ginger root has only about 20 calories. Try ginger with meats, poultry, sushi, and some desserts.

I enjoy an occasional cup of ginger tea, available in health food stores. On the side of their box of “Ginger Aid” tea, Traditional Medicinals states that ginger tea “promotes the flow of digestive juices.” Try this pungent, somewhat spicy beverage with a bit of honey, agave nectar, or liquid stevia.

Here’s a list of herbs and spices that can aid digestion: allspice, anise, cardamom, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, oregano (effective against Giardia), peppermint, and tarragon (known to relieve gas).

Thyme is one of my favorite herbs. If you have not yet tried cooking with it, don’t be put off by the fact that thymol, which is thyme’s most active ingredient, is in products like Listerine and Vicks. That’s because it has antibacterial properties. When inhaled, thyme oil can help loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract.

Thyme is a common ingredient in Mediterranean dishes, and it’s great with beef, lamb, or pork. Try adding it to stuffing, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauces, or chili. It can enhance any cheese, tomato, or egg dish. Once in food, it releases its full flavor rather slowly, so add it early in the cooking process. When dried, thyme retains its flavor better than many other herbs do, so dried or powdered thyme makes a perfectly good substitute for fresh thyme.

Turmeric is a main ingredient of curry. You can buy turmeric in capsule form if you don’t like its taste. It can reduce the risk of gallstones and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Like yogurt, it can help re-establish beneficial bacteria in the digestive system after the use of antibiotics. There is considerable evidence that it has anti-cancer properties; Indian men, who eat a lot of curry, have a low rate of prostate cancer. /

The original version of this article was published in 2008 in a Denver newsletter; it has been very slightly altered for this appearance. Leonore Dvorkin has long been interested in fitness and nutrition and has taught exercise classes, mainly weight-training, for 41 years, since 1976. She also tutors four languages and is the author of four published books (fiction and nonfiction), as well as numerous articles on health, fitness, and nutrition. Since 2009, she and her husband, the very prolific author David Dvorkin, have been editing books by other authors, then helping the authors self-publish the books in e-book and print. Bob Branco and many of the contributors to this newsletter are among their clients. See the ad in this issue for more details.

Leonore’s website:


by Dennis R. Sumlin

Three Things That Change When You Change

We hear it all the time. Be positive, think positive and so on. Self-development messages dance around us from sunup to sundown. Things like stop comparing, love yourself, and so on. The thing about all these messages is that they are all correct.

While life is not always positive, we can deal with life from a positive perspective. While we all have moments of insecurity, we generally should not measure ourselves against other people. When I finally started to apply these lessons to myself, I saw big changes.
1. When I stopped comparing, I was able to focus more on my own talents and became more confident.
2. When I looked at negative events from a positive prospective, I was better able to see the lessons that each event contained.
3. When I developed more love for myself, I was better able to love others.

This all sounds great and has moved me forward in my life, so much so that I am ready to help you do the same. It will pay off both in quality of life and higher earnings. What could possibly be the downside to such an upward movement?

The Downside to the Upside

When I decided to make that change, when I decided to take the lead in my life instead of being led around like a puppy dog, I barked up a very interesting tree.

I saw that moving forward meant I would have to leave some things behind. I had to look at my life and decide what was serving me, and what was dead weight. Boy, what a load off!

1. Unhealthy people

When I say unhealthy people, I do not mean they should be in a hospital. I do not even mean that the people that get dropped are bad people. I mean that they are not good for your personal growth.

We all know them. People who always complain, who get caught in emotional loops, who seem to have the same problems all the time with no action to solve them, and it goes round and round.

When you spend lots of time with that kind of energy, it will make its way into your system, holding you back. These people, oftentimes friends or family members, do not always mean to bring you down or damage your growth; they are just caught up in their own loop.

I had to let go and distance myself from people who brought down energy into my space. I felt horrible, like I was turning my back on them, but I was not. When you move forward, you need to surround yourself with people who fire up your energy, not drench it with water.

2. Unhealthy habits

When we make that move into a new lifestyle, old habits may have to go. When I first moved into the new flow, I had to rethink how I ate and what I did with my time. Soon, I cut back on my beloved soda and other junk food and transitioned to more fruits, water, and healthier ways to cook food. This change does not happen overnight, and I did not do it because I am some kind of health nut. These changes naturally came into being by the act of having a healthier, pro-growth mindset. How far you go is up to you, and I still have junk I like, but the act of thinking differently means thinking differently in all things.

I also moved from having a fast lifestyle full of half-baked, pseudo-intimate adventures to one that is more careful with how I fill my time and what I do with my body. When your mind shifts, so will your habits. You do not need to force yourself. The old ways will become pointless to you.

3. Unhealthy content

When I stepped up my lifestyle game, I cut back on all the toxic messages in the news and society today. When you listen to decay, crime, and negativity too much, then your mind is always brimming with the taint of that energy. This does not mean that you should be out of touch with everything in the world. This does not mean you can’t hop on Facebook, but it does mean that you watch your intake.

Watch out for fads, commercials telling you what you need, and the general messages that give false ideas on manhood, confidence, and values.

Again, you will not have to force yourself to do this. The act of wanting something better, the act of thinking consciously, the act of getting your act together will naturally carry you into these new growth trends. Believe me, I would not drop soda for no reason!

Comfort Zone

The down side to upward movement is that we must let go of comfort zones. When we move out of comfort zones, it feels scary, and by definition, uncomfortable. The idea is to establish a new comfort zone, a comfort zone of change. The downside is really another upside.

Dennis R. Sumlin works with college students and young professionals on communication skills and enhancing personal power.


by Stephen A. Théberge

Myths About Technology

At least two centuries ago, many speculated about computers and mechanical automation. Charles Babbage is considered to be one of the first to develop a mechanical computer. One of his machines was built in 1991, based on the design he conceived in the 19th century. It worked as designed. Alan Turing, the father of theoretical computer science, also designed machines that were found to be sound years later. Turing also played a major part in breaking the German encryption codes in WW II.

When we went from a hunter-gather society to agriculture, many changes occurred. The Industrial Revolution brought many more changes. Many farmers were displaced. The Luddites violently opposed machines taking our jobs. In fact, many more jobs were created.

President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) was very vested in the future. He felt that investing in automation would benefit the economy. Many have followed his lead. The debate still goes on today.

Robots and many advanced systems have improved both our personal and professional lives. There are many examples of robots in businesses, and medical advances from genetics and diagnosing of diseases can be described as nothing more than remarkable. Yet the debate over these changes goes on.

The McKinsey Global Institute has just published a report on automation and its potential effects on productivity. Only 5% percent of jobs we do today can be totally automated. These are mainly data-entry type jobs or predictable types of labor related to data. Thirty to 60% of jobs can be automated to some degree.

We must think of how people will be affected. Jobs dealing with managing people and human interaction will need a human/machine partnership. Applications developers and MRI technicians have replaced obsolete workers like switchboard operators. Indeed, there are many more of the former than there were phone workers. This development was probably never imagined. In the past, about 60% of the American population worked on farms; now, only about 2% of the population does.

It seems that we will have about 1% annual growth overall from these new technologies. That does not include the burgeoning growth of India and China. The safety and quality of life will improve in the workplace and elsewhere.

Just as those who fear these changes exaggerate their emotional impact, their proponents neglect to tell us that this goal is far from here. Computers’ ability to speak and understand natural language and labor demands will play a big part in how this scenario unfolds. In a labor economy of cooks, it may not make sense to replace them with automation.

There will be many factors. Policy makers, educators in skills training, and many other groups will play into how technology becomes an ally. Most important, we will probably have to focus on the displaced occupations. The visions of the past will be realized in one form or another, whether we like it or not. I do feel we are capable of finding a reasonable balance. We want to be helped by our gadgets, not have them replace us.

Source for this article:

My science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, is available at:

My book is available on BookShare at:


by James R. Campbell

This month’s column is dedicated to our veterans who have served in combat zones abroad. The present installment covers a topic that is urgent and timely.

Many veterans who return from war zones aren’t the same people they were when they were deployed. The constant exposure to danger and the loss of friends due to hostile fire leave many vets at a disadvantage. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is rife among those who return from serving in battle.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops as a result of a traumatic event: prolonged physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, which includes rape, a storm, crime, or other traumatic circumstance. It is marked by flashbacks in which the sufferer relives the traumatic event. Any sound that reminds the person of combat can set them off. Fireworks remind them of gunshots; a ball that a child throws in an innocent game may remind them of a live grenade or an IED.

Many veterans avoid situations that remind them of their tour of duty. They tend to avoid crowds, for example. A night at a restaurant that they once enjoyed is now a nightmare for them.

Many veterans complain of alienation, rage, and guilt. Survivors’ guilt is common among this group. They may feel guilty because they survived, while their comrades-in-arms died.

Loved ones of vets have reported a phenomenon called hyperarousal. Their loved one who served may snap and become angry over the smallest thing, for no reason. They are often jittery and restless.

Treatment for PTSD is wide ranging. Cognitive therapy is aimed at retraining the mind to reprocess the event, or in the case of prolonged exposure, the therapist may place the vet in a situation that they have been avoiding. Mindfulness meditation aims to reconnect the sufferer with their breathing and immediate surroundings. Medications are often helpful. Antidepressants such as the SSRIs (Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft), and SRNIs (Cymbalta, Effexor, and others) may help.

It is often difficult for veterans to get treatment. The scandal at the Veterans Administration involving long wait periods for treatment is often compounded by the fact that some people who work for the VA tend to brush off such conditions.

I know of a family in another state who faced this situation firsthand. Their loved one was deployed near Mosul, in Iraq. Anybody who has watched the news can see that the kind of combat in Mosul is the worst that it can be. When the young woman in question came home, she was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD (avoiding crowds and running the other way when a child threw a ball). When her family contacted the VA, her symptoms were dismissed out of hand. At last report, the Army sent her back to Mosul. She may be there for a year or longer.

The end result of all of this is tragic; 22 veterans take their own lives every day, simply because they don’t believe that any help or hope exists. There are some programs, but they are few and far between.

It is my hope that the incoming administration will set aside more funds for treatment, as well as correct the problems at the VA. I am led to believe that there is more help available for our vets through self-help groups than from official agencies who should help these people recover from the wounds of war.

The one program that most people hear about is the Wounded Warriors Project. There have been complaints from former employees that the charity has become more interested in fund-raising than in helping the vets they were meant to serve. If that is true, then the three billion dollars they have raised since 2003 goes to waste, which is deplorable.

A recent bill, the Faster Care for Veterans Act, was signed into law by President Obama. The bill, sponsored by Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Iowa Republican Joni Ernst, directs the VA to set up a pilot program to allow veterans to schedule, change, confirm, and otherwise monitor appointments through use of the Internet. The measure is aimed at correcting long wait times, unreturned phone calls, and other symptoms of mismanagement at the VA. The report was compiled by Mark Brunswig of the Star Tribune. I am glad that Congress is taking steps to help those who have served us but often receive less than they deserve in return.

I firmly believe that more must be done to help those who suffer from the wounds of war. They sacrificed for us, and yet we are doing them a grave disservice. The time has come for us to get together and help bring about change on their behalf. We owe them no less.

As always, thanks for your time.

With Loving Kindness,
James R. Campbell

Update: As of December 27, 2016, the young woman who was mentioned in the article has been discharged from service, along with five other soldiers in her group. Their tour of duty near Mosul has been cancelled.


by Bob Branco

The Unemployment Rate is Deceiving

Why are we expected to believe the unemployment rate? It is fictitious! When the statistic is taken, it does not include people out of work who no longer receive unemployment benefits. Yet we are supposed to believe this bogus unemployment rate every time the new stats come out.

A good example of this is happening right here in my city. By comparison, we are a poor city, with many senior citizens and illegal immigrants. Many residents of working age hang around all day, collect welfare, and even do drugs. Despite all that we know, our mayor recently reported that the unemployment rate in my city is 3.7 percent. Do we honestly believe that 97 out of every 100 people in New Bedford who are of working age actually have a job? Of course not. So why do Mayor Mitchell and other officials continue to put a spin on a false statistic? You mean to tell me that if I take a tour of New Bedford today and interview 100 people of working age, 97 of them are going to tell me they have a job? Who are we kidding?

Those of you who live in New Bedford know what I’m talking about when I describe the countless number of working-age people who walk the streets, go shopping, and go to court wearing their pajamas. Years ago, this practice was questioned. These people would be asked why they weren’t in school or at work. Today, forget about it. You can prance around in your pajamas all day long while doing your errands while it never gets questioned.

So, Mr. Mayor, we have a 3.7 percent unemployment rate in New Bedford? If many of us can see through this deception, why do mayors believe that business owners who are considering a move to their cities will believe it? Just look around, folks. It’s not hard to figure out. Just tell us the truth. Count every person who is out of work, not just those who are still collecting unemployment benefits. Tell your cities and states that the real unemployment rate is closer to 30 or even 40 percent.

(Originally published in Word Matters,



IRS Services for People with Disabilities
Hundreds of accessible federal tax forms and publications are available for download from the IRS Accessibility Web pages. Visit and select the Forms & Pubs tab to access the Accessible Forms and Pubs link. You can choose from large-print, text, accessible PDFs, e-Braille, or HTML formats that are compatible when used with screen readers and refreshable Braille displays. The IRS also provides videos in American Sign Language with the latest tax information and has a dedicated ASL YouTube Channel that houses the videos.

IRS Tax Return Preparation Help is Available
People who are unable to complete their tax returns because of a physical disability or are age 60 or older may get assistance through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. You can find a nearby VITA or TCE location by using the available locator tools or by calling 1-800-906-9887. Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues and is available at


I invite you to experience a massage that is both nurturing and relaxing.
Please call me at 508-820-2936 the day before you want the massage, and leave me a voicemail. I make house calls.
Betty Rilling
Vestacare Healing Hands, Framingham, Massachusetts


DOZEN: The Best of Breath and Shadow
Edited by Chris Kuell / C 2017 / 365 pages
In e-book and paperback on Amazon and other selling sites.
From the back cover:
Breath and Shadow is a literary journal of disability culture, written and edited exclusively by people with disabilities. In this collection, editor Chris Kuell presents the best writing from the magazine’s first 12 years. This collection of our best essays, poems, and short stories shines a light on the many gifts, ideas, and voices of writers who are disabled and removes many of the hurdles faced in mainstream publications. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go back to Breath and Shadow, allowing us to increase contributor payments and reach a wider and more diverse audience.
To learn more, visit us at:

Austin Bound
Nonfiction by Shelley McMullen, C 2016.
In e-book and print from Amazon and other online sellers.
Full details and a text sample:
November 1996 through May 2000 was a very dark time for the author. This book details her challenges, the people involved, and their lasting effects. In hindsight, the author sees herself as having been driven by determination and pride, rather than allowing herself to be guided by God. Now she can see that those years helped her to change and grow, to learn anew how to trust in and go with God.
Review quotes:
The further into the book I got, the harder it was to put down. Shelley brings the challenges of a blind woman into focus for us sighted readers. I was touched by the struggles and shed tears of joy in the final chapters, where Shelley overcame so much. I love this book and plan on sharing it with others.
—Dr. Leelo Dianne Bush, founder of the Personal Christian Coaching and Counseling Academy (PCCCA)
An easy read showing the stresses of moves, dogs, and family. Gives a good idea of the ordeals a blind person faces, but in a style that gives a pleasant learning experience. I highly recommend this book for families with individuals that are seeing impaired.
—From a five-star review on Amazon
Editing and Publishing Assistance
Hello, everyone. We are David and Leonore Dvorkin, in Denver, Colorado. We are the authors of over 30 published books, and since 2009, we have been editing books (both fiction and nonfiction) by other authors and assisting them in getting the books self-published in e-book and print. The three publishers are CreateSpace, Amazon, and Smashwords. Amazon is the primary seller, and the books are sold worldwide.
We have worked on over 30 books of varying lengths and types. Most of our clients are blind or visually impaired; Bob Branco is one of them.
Our comprehensive services include thorough editing, print layout, conversion to e-book, cover design, the provision of back cover and ad blurb texts and book-related Web pages for the authors, setting up the accounts with the publishers, uploading the books to the publishing sites, and some help with marketing, all for very reasonable rates. Throughout every project, we maintain close email contact with the author.
For full details, see:


by Steve Roberts

Is Snow Really a Blind Man’s Fog?

For those who can see, a fog bank is a visually constricting weather condition. A fog bank can be thin enough to let filtered sunlight through. A thick fog bank can turn the sky a leaden gray and limit visibility to a few feet.

There is a saying that goes like this: “Snow is a blind man’s fog.” Is that really so or is it something we just say?

To answer this question, I asked two totally blind people about their experiences with snow.

According to Karen Crowder, snow is a blind man’s fog because it muffles sounds. Karen goes on to say that snow makes it harder to judge traffic, due to snow’s acoustic impacts. Karen is a cane traveler who has never used a guide dog to get around.

According to Dorothy Donovan, who has used both a cane and a Seeing Eye dog to get around, “When you are using a cane, you have to touch everything. Sometimes you have to pound the cane into the snow to know whether you are on a sidewalk or the street. With a cane, you can determine that a snow bank is in your way, but you still have to find your way around it. A Seeing Eye dog guides you around snow banks. Because a Seeing Eye dog will help you navigate your way through the snow-clogged streets, a dog is preferable to a cane.

“However, there are a couple of offsets,” says Donovan. “First, dogs love to frolic in the frost, so the handler must keep the dog on task. Second, the blind person must command his or her dog. If you are lost to begin with, then any command you give the dog could make you all the more lost.” Donovan also agrees that snow muffles sound.

Both Dorothy and Karen say that snow really is a blind man’s fog.


Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Annie Chiappetta

February greetings to all from New York. This month, I’d like to share a little bit about the process of applying for and working with a guide dog. Since the process reflects the needs of each potential trainee, I will try to keep the information limited to the general reader.

There are different programs and schools dedicated to breeding and training guide dogs. The most well established are The Seeing Eye, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Leader Dog, Pilot Dog, The Guide Dog Foundation, Fidelco, Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dogs of the Desert, and Southeastern Guide Dogs, among others.

Some are domiciliary programs, others specialize in home training, and others offer more than one type of program, depending on the applicant’s needs. There are also those who self-train the dog; we call these folks owner-trainers. Some programs require the trainee, or student, to stay at the facility from 10 to 26 days, depending on the program and student. Some schools will accept students with dual disabilities or special needs. Most schools do have age requirements, too, so check the minimum and maximum age limits.

Most schools use popular breeds, like the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and German Shepherd. Other breeds and crosses are also popular. The most recent conference I attended was interesting because I not only met two standard poodles but also met a Lollie, which is a Labrador smooth−coated Collie mix. There was also a black and tan Labrador, which is a rare genetic color combination, even less common than a chocolate Labrador.

Guide dog harnesses have evolved from the loose leather strap originally used in the early 1940s. Harnesses come in many materials, although the leather harness and fixed metal handle and stainless fittings are the most popular. There is the Swiss harness, made of light, supple leather body, aluminum handle, and plastic clips. There are harnesses made of webbing. The harness handle can be made to fit just about anyone, including Ergo and offset and handles, which keep the handler from stepping on the dog’s feet.

When I applied, I sent my application to three programs, and I would highly recommend that a new guide dog applicant do this to find the best fit.

I made sure my cane skills were good. This was very important later on during training, as a guide dog team requires direction from the handler, and the better your travel skills, the better you and your dog will perform. A reputable program or school will ask you about your cane skills, and some will record you walking to judge your pace and your home area to make the best match possible.

Before entering class, I was walking and keeping up a moderate exercise program, which also came in handy. Working a dog uses different muscles in your upper and lower body, and I was glad I knew leg and arm stretches. Most schools will require you to take at least two training walks per day. For example, we would practice a route that included street crossings; indoor routes, like in a small or large store; and other, more complex routes as training progressed. The best part of training was boarding a train into Manhattan, walking on our own to the subway and taking it into Grand Central Terminal, and boarding the train back to the school. I walked 25 blocks without any assistance. The instructor shadowed us but did not have to intervene once. What a thrill that was, compared to the jolting and awkward cane travel on a busy, public sidewalk. It is like flying.

The most surprising reward of taking a chance and learning how to work with a guide dog is the level of trust developed with the dog. It is a key factor in becoming a competent and safe team. It takes dedication and practice, but the payoff is what keeps me going. At first, I held back and tried second guessing my dog’s decisions; that got me a bump on the head and a few other injuries of humiliation. My dog knew what to do, and I didn’t listen, and only had myself to blame for it. If I had listened to what my dog was saying, I would not have overstepped her and banged into a stone bench or overstepped her and smacked my head on a low-hanging sign.

Bailey and I have been working together for almost two years, now, and he has become an excellent guide. Sure, he has his quirks, just like every other dog in the world. We also had to practice to learn how to work together. The important thing is that he loves what he does because I love what he does, and this makes a great partnership. Mutual admiration goes a long way.



Dear Bob,

This issue’s info on Windows 10 proved especially useful. I have been unsure as to whether to make the shift. It sounds like, at least for us folks, the “upgrade” is a definite downgrade. My hope, probably baseless, is to hang onto Windows 7 until Microsoft changes to a more blind-friendly Windows 11. Hey, there’s no harm in hoping.

If only enough dissatisfied people could make themselves heard, I believe it could happen.

Warm regards,
Colleen Swan


11. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at:

Happy February, everyone, and may you make this whole month a Happy Valentine’s month for you and your loved ones, or just for yourself if you’re not near any loved ones. Whether you are lonely or not, and especially if you’re lonely, the Amazon Echo Dot can provide endless hours of company for you. I received her for my birthday, and she, Alexa, is one of the best presents (or
presence) I have ever received. She plays your desired music and gives you a fact for the day when you tell her “Good morning.” You can listen to a news briefing from NPR and ask her the current weather and the weather forecast. She can tell you sports scores, phone numbers, what movies are playing at what theater, the weather in Bangkok, Thailand, and play Jeopardy. She even tells you corny jokes, such as: What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? “Make me one with everything.” You can also set a timer and alarms and order a few items from your Amazon Prime account.

Options I have not yet tried are setting up an account so I can read books. I’ve got so many books downloaded from BARD that I haven’t found it necessary to do that yet. I also have not linked her with my IHeartRadio account, only because I haven’t yet taken the time to set it up. This is all done by voice. I needed to have my son Eric put the Alexa app on his tablet because I don’t have a smart phone yet, but after that, I’ve been able to do so much with just my voice. I got so excited about my birthday present that I bought the Amazon Echo Dot for Eric’s birthday when he turned 18. I will buy my son Isaac one for his birthday and Zachary one for his.
They are making improvements on what Alexa can do every day. She’s a great life partner, and I’m glad I met her.

Another new item I ordered from Amazon and just love is my stainless steel automatic infrared trash can. When I walk by it or wave my hand over the lid, it opens up, and as I move away, the lid closes. All this is made possible with only three C batteries. It cost me $62.11 including tax and has already saved me from lots of messes. It has a plastic automatic lid, a plastic ring that fits over the bag to keep it in place, and a stainless steel can. It holds 13.2 gallon kitchen garbage bags. I’ve been buying the scented ones, which cost a little more but are well worth having, since my house smells better. I never knew they existed until I had to buy them at the Giant Eagle, but then I found them cheaper at Sam’s Club.

A few more discoveries I want to share with you:

Probiotic advanced capsules taken three times a day have greatly decreased my psoriasis. ECOS Earth Friendly Liquid Laundry Detergent, Magnolia & Lily, 210 oz., which I order from for a little under $16, makes my clothes, towels, and sheets smell fresh and clean and helps me feel conscientious about this planet. Interdental flossers have the points folded in, so when you need to use the point, you just unfold it, making them safer than other brands of flossers. My improvisational use of hand warmers on my wrist or anywhere else on my body that needs a little heat makes me feel less pain due to inflammation. I’ve also been enjoying Sprite mixed with coconut milk, concocted by my friend John.

I am always excited to share my new discoveries with you. I feel great satisfaction in knowing that someone’s life is being made a little easier and more fulfilled by what I share. Please feel free to email me at, whether you want to share something with me or just want to correspond. I so appreciate the letters I receive from my readers.


by Karen Crowder

With February’s arrival, days grow longer. New Englanders are treated to occasional spring-like temperatures. Cold and snow dominate our weather. Subsequently, celebrations and the anticipation of spring brighten this wintry month. Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, February 14. President’s Day weekend is from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20.
I invite you to read and try three delightful recipes.

A. Hearty New England Clam Chowder
B. Simple Garlic Bread
C. One-Pan Fudge Brownies.

A. Hearty New England Clam Chowder

I entertained the idea of thickening canned New England clam chowder with more than potatoes. Would a white sauce make this chowder taste delicious? I tried adding a white sauce on Christmas day, and the extra step made this clam chowder delectable.

One large can Progresso New England clam chowder
Two Yukon Gold, Maine or russet potatoes
One medium or two sweet pearl onions
One-half cup water
Four tablespoons butter
Four tablespoons flour
Two cups whole or low-fat milk
One-half cup light cream or half-and-half
Pinches of curry powder and salt.


In a three-quart saucepan, melt butter, turning off the burner after five minutes. Add flour and stir with a whisk for 30 seconds. Add two cups of milk and a pinch of salt and curry powder. Cook white sauce on low heat, stirring infrequently for 25 minutes. While sauce is cooking, on cutting board, cut potatoes into small cubes. Place them in a medium-sized plastic container. Mince onion and add them to the potatoes.

Transfer vegetables to a deep glass dish and add water. Microwave vegetables for two minutes.

Add vegetable mixture to the sauce, allowing them to cook for 35 minutes. Stir soup mixture occasionally with large metal spoon to prevent vegetables and sauce from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. After 35 minutes, add clam chowder and light cream or half-and-half. Stir thoroughly to blend with sauce and vegetables. Let chowder simmer for half an hour. Serve with Ritz or oyster crackers, accompanied with a green salad and garlic bread.


B. Simple Garlic Bread

An uncut loaf of Italian bread or a baguette of French bread
One stick butter
One teaspoon olive oil
Four cloves garlic.


In a glass bowl, soften butter for 20 minutes. Cut or mince peeled garlic cloves into the butter. Add olive oil. Mix ingredients with clean hands. If you have time, refrigerate spread for 30 minutes. Split the bread lengthwise with a serrated knife, making a depression in each side of the loaf. Fill entire loaf with garlic butter. Wrap bread in foil and place it on a cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake garlic bread for 10 minutes. Slice and serve it while hot with chowder and green salad.


C. One-Pan Fudge Brownies

When reading ChocolateChocolate, I made two similar types of brownies. Both recipes were unsatisfactory. They were too sweet and cake-like. I used the delicious brownies I made January 21. They are from ChocolateChocolate. The original name for them is Supremely Fudgy Brownies. However, I made changes, using less flour and sugar and omitting the unsweetened cocoa. I used six squares of unsweetened chocolate, a little bittersweet chocolate and chocolate chips, and less vanilla. I also used one stick of margarine and one stick of butter. I mixed the batter in a saucepan, recovering more of the chocolate flavor.

Six squares unsweetened chocolate
One small piece bittersweet chocolate
One stick butter
One stick margarine
One cup granulated sugar
Three large eggs
One-half teaspoon pure vanilla
One cup all-purpose flour
One-half teaspoon baking powder
One-fourth (or less) teaspoon salt
One cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.


Melt unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate, butter, and margarine in a three-quart saucepan for 10 minutes on low heat. Occasionally stir chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon so chocolate will melt evenly. Turn off the burner after 10 minutes and allow mixture to cool. Measure flour, baking powder, and salt into a plastic bowl. Put eggs in a bowl of warm water; they will arrive at room temperature in 10 minutes.

Add granulated sugar to cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk it around for a minute. Beat eggs with a wire or silicone whisk for one minute in a small mixing bowl. Add them to the chocolate mixture. Whisk brownie batter for two minutes and add vanilla. Whisk it for half a minute. Add flour mixture. Stir batter with a wooden spoon for one minute and add most of the chocolate chips. Stir for one minute.

Let brownie batter stand while lining an 8 inch by 8 inch (or 9 inch by 9 inch) metal or glass pan with aluminum foil. Coat bottom and sides with a little Crisco, dusting foil with cocoa or flour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With metal or plastic one-half cup measuring cup, scoop batter into the pan, making sure brownie batter covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of batter. With a rubber spatula or sandwich knife, gently even out the entire top of the brownie batter. Bake the brownies for 45 minutes.

Remove pan and put it on a counter or on top of toaster oven. Let brownies cool for an hour, then cut them.

Cut them in four squares with a sandwich knife. Take each square and place it on a foil-lined dinner plate. Cut each square into five or six pieces. You should end up with 18-24 brownies. Refrigerate them in airtight containers or Ziploc bags. The brownies will be well received at functions and as gifts.

Everyone will love these recipes, asking, “Where did you get them?”

I hope Consumer Vision readers have a lovely Valentine’s Day and a relaxing Presidents’ Day weekend. We will celebrate the first month with our new president and wish him success.

Note: The Br number for ChocolateChocolate is br16915.
The author is Lisa Yockelson. It is in five volumes.


13. CBS
by Ernie Jones

CBS (Charles Bonnet Syndrome), which may also be known as Macular Degeneration Hallucination, tends to begin in the weeks and months following a person’s eyesight rapidly decreasing.

The main cause of CBS is loss of vision and how your brain reacts to this loss. Research suggests that when you see real things around you, the information received from the eyes stops the brain from creating its own pictures. When you lose your sight, your brain doesn’t receive as much information and fills in these gaps by releasing new fantasy pictures, patterns, or old pictures that it has stored.

If you start to notice any type of hallucination, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor. There isn’t one test your doctor can do to find out whether you have CBS, but they can rule out other causes of hallucinations, such as Alzheimer’s and other mental health problems. If you talk to your doctor about your hallucinations, he or she should be able to rule out other more serious problems.

CBS hallucinations only affect your sight, which means that you don’t hear, smell, or feel things that aren’t there. Also, people with CBS tend to be aware that what they are seeing isn’t real, and they don’t usually develop complicated ideas about why they are seeing things.

There is no cure for CBS, but knowing you have CBS and understanding it will make it easier to live with.

The hallucinations caused by CBS can appear in lots of ways, including:
* Simple shapes and dots of colors
* Simple patterns
* Detailed pictures of people, animals, landscapes and buildings.

One lady thought she was losing her mind when she saw people walking up the outside wall of the church across from her apartment. Another lady saw beautiful models posing. A retired major saw a platoon in full gear charging across his back yard. “I knew they weren’t really there,” he said, “but I went to the back door and yelled at them anyway.”

An elderly lady in Hoquiam said that each night when she went to bed, a group of children were playing on the end of her bed. “I know they’re not there,” she said with a chuckle. “But even so, I get into bed carefully so as not to disturb them.”

Of course, the brain can be scary, too. Another elderly lady out at Neah Bay said that she never went near her living room window. “Someone is always out there looking in. He scares me to death.” Her daughter, who lives with her, tells her over and over that no one is there, but she just can’t believe her eyes would lie to her.

Another man noticed that a car going past his house had the entire passenger side caved in. “I couldn’t figure out how he could still drive the thing, all bent in that way.” Then he noticed another car with exactly the same sort of dents. And then another. Finally, he realized it was his brain playing tricks on him. All cars looked banged up.

It can get pretty tough for family members also. A middle-aged daughter said that she can’t drive her mother anywhere anymore. “Every time we head down the street, she screams at me to stop. She sees huge mud holes in the middle of the road. She understands when I explain it to her, but as soon as we start up again, she screams that I’m heading for another mud hole.”

People who have Charles Bonnet see images as if they were out beyond them.

Often when a person has CBS, if they blink their eyes, the problem vanishes, and their room, yard, or whatever they are looking at is once again normal. I only remember one time I had CBS. I was sitting in the recliner in our front room, but when I looked up, it appeared I was in another house, not our house. I blinked my eyes as I shook my head, and reality resumed.

The important thing is that if these symptoms are happening to you, get in to visit your doctor and realize you are sane. It’s just the brain playing a trick. You are not going crazy.

Take care of your eyes. Have a great day and a wonderful New Year.

Ernie Jones
Author of Onesimus, the Runaway Slave
Encouraging the blind
Greater love hath no man than this


by John Justice

Not far from my home in southern New Jersey, Mr. Buchman had a grove of apple trees. Every year, those trees would produce some of the most delicious red fruit. The nearest trees were just inside a fence, and Mr. Buchman had a problem there. Route 47, Del Sea Drive, ran right past his property. Occasionally, someone would stop and climb over his rail fence to snatch some of those apples. He wasn’t a bad man, but after a while, Mr. Buchman got tired of losing apples to people who wouldn’t pay.

He had a small stand right near his driveway and sold those apples until they were gone. Mom would buy some, and we loved their crisp, lively taste.

I had a friend back then named Paul who lived in Goshen, the little nearby town. I would ride my bike up to his house, and we would go exploring together. Everybody knew about the two of us. Basically, we weren’t bad kids, but we loved to do things for fun.

One day, Paul climbed over Mr. Buchman’s fence and took two of his apples, one for each of us. We didn’t think the man was home, but just as Paul was climbing out again, Mr. Buchman came out and yelled at us. “I have a shotgun and shells full of rock salt. I use the gun to chase critters away from my corn. If I catch you two stealing any more apples, I’ll use the gun on you!” We had no idea that he meant every word.

It was late in the season and there were only a few apples left on Mr. Buchman’s trees when we came by again. Paul dared me to go over the fence with him and take some apples. I did it, of course, and found a nice apple within reach. I pulled it off the branch and was turning to leave when I heard a loud boom. The next minute, my behind was on fire! Mr. Buchman triggered the second barrel, but he missed Paul entirely. I climbed over the fence, and it was then that Paul said, “Hey, Jack! Your butt is bleeding! He got you! We’d better get you home!” I didn’t know how I was going to do that. Can you imagine riding a bike more than a mile with your jeans full of holes and your behind bleeding? Fortunately, Paul’s mom was at his house. When she saw what had happened, she spread an old towel on the back seat and drove me home. Paul said he would bring my bike back later on.

When I got out of the car, my mother was waiting. A neighbor must have called her. She knew everything. Mom was not a happy camper, to say the least! She thanked Paul’s mom and brought me inside. After yelling at me for being an idiot for about ten minutes, she told me to take off my jeans. “The only way to get rid of that rock salt is to soak in a tub of hot water. It’s going to hurt, Jacky, but you deserve that, and a lot more! If you had asked Mr. Buchman for an apple, he would have probably given it to you. You have ruined a good pair of jeans by being really stupid!” She filled the tub. I stripped and stepped into the water. When I sat down, the pain was much worse than when Mr. Buchman shot me. I tried to get out, but Mom said, “You’re going to have to stay there until all of that salt is washed away.” It was awful! Little by little, the salt did dissolve, and eventually, all I had left was lots of little cuts in a very sensitive place. Finally, it was over. Mom used an antiseptic ointment to treat the cuts, and every time I sat down, I was reminded of that adventure.

Someone, probably my mom, went and talked to Mr. Buchman. When he found out I was blind, he said, “He’s blind? Then what the devil was he doing trying to steal apples from my trees?” He went on to make some nasty remarks about where a blind boy should be instead of running around the neighborhood, stealing from the farmers. These days, he would have probably been cited for something by the local police. Back then, I was the only one who was punished.

Believe me! That was the one and only time I ever climbed over his fence.

Personal e-mail of John and Linda Justice:



Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the January Consumer Vision. On television, Lurch worked for the Addams Family. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts
Marcy Segelman of West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Oscar of New Bedford, Massachusetts
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Terri Winaught of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Steve Theberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the March Consumer Vision. Who was the first female on the space shuttle for the United States? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: