Here we are again! Ready for another month, and another most awesome edition of the Blind Perspective.
Enjoy everyone, and if you do make sure to let the magazine owner/creator know. Be sure to let her know from where you heard of her.
Thanks for reading.
Welcome to The Blind Perspective
Volume 3 Issue 3
Table of Contents
Greetings from the Editor
Sponsor of the Month
Movers & Shakers
Feel, Look, and be Better
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Make Your Money Work
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
APPetizers: Byte size tidbits to help master your iDevice
the Rotating Trio; The WindBag
Riddle & Brain Buster
The Blind Perspective Newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, NVDA, or Window Eyes, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you are wanting to skip back simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H. If one of the links do not work for you just copy and paste it in to your browser and it should work.
If you have any trouble reading this copy you can go to Click Here it will take You to the read the current newsletter
Greetings from the Editor
By Karen Santiago
Welcome to March and the changing of the seasons! Whether it is turning to fall or spring in your neck of the woods, I hope you continue to read The Blind Perspective.
Wishing all of our Irish readers, and those who are Irish for a day, a very Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you!
I was approached by someone asking me about the International Perspective as it relates to the United States. After some discussion, I realized that states vary in what services and equipment they provide, availability of blind and guide dog schools, and many other factors blind people are faced with. Therefore, I have decided to welcome those from different states to submit an article about life in their state as a blind person. If you do not want to write the article, I can interview you and write it up for you. If interested, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy reading this month’s newsletter!
At a Glance: Out-Of-Sight, Douglas Sidialo, Kenya, Posture, Books, Braille Documents, IRA & ISA, Crafting Website, Poem, iOS Ads, iPhone Games, Irish Recipes, Riddle & Brain Buster!!!
Sponsor of the Month
Come Join Us at Out-Of-Sight.net
Join a Free voice chat Community on the Web!
Hey Folks! Would you like to have lots of fun and meet other blind or visually impaired individuals from across the country and around the world? Do you like challenging games, old time radio, adaptive cooking techniques, a book club, chess instruction, product presentations, Bible Study, iPhone classes, Python Programming class, real time technical assistance with your computer, a talent showcase, and lots and lots more? If this is what you are looking for, join us at, Out-Of-Sight! We offer over 40 different Chat Rooms with something for everyone! This site is made up of the most friendly and courteous folks you are likely to meet on the net!
The Out-Of-Sight community is made up of a set of free voice chat rooms that are extremely user friendly, and all you need is a microphone to get started! To become a member and join our Out-Of-Sight free chat community go to the website, at, www.out-of-sight.net
If you have any questions or need assistance logging in, please contact, email@example.com
We hope to see you soon! “Catch the vision–it’s Out of Sight!”
Movers & Shakers
By Douglas Sidialo
I was recently contacted by DOUGLAS SIDIALO of Kenya. He asked if he could share a brief bio of himself. So read below to get a glimpse of his situation, accomplishments, and willingness and desire to help and motivate others. There are other links provided to learn more about this inspiring man.
Despite losing sight as a result of the devastating US embassy bombing in Kenya on August, 7, 1998, Douglas has picked up the pieces and bounced back to life with resounding courage and strength to become a great inspiration to a lot of people on this planet earth.
Douglas served as President of the Kenya National Paralympics Committee witnessing athletes with disabilities break barriers in their lives to become national heroes and celebrities in the World of sports. This has lifted them from ashes to become self-sufficient giving them a great sense of empowerment and high self-esteem. His lean Team of 13 athletes bagged 5 gold, 4 Silver and 4 Bronze medals for Kenya in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Games. One of the most remarkable athlete in these Sports showbiz bagged Kenya 3 Gold medals and went on to be named as the 2009 United Nations Personality of the Year and UNDP, MDG Ambassador.
To set the pace for the Paralympics Games, Douglas received the honors to light the Olympic torch, racing to glory in the 2008 Paralympics torch relay on the outskirts of Beijing a night before the official opening of the World largest disability Sports extravaganza. Douglas has gone on to confront overwhelming challenges to become one of the most accomplished blind adventurers in the world, and has never let his blindness interfere with his passion for an exciting and inspirational journey.
Douglas is believed to be the first blind African to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – Uhuru Peak, 5,895 meters above sea level in September, 2005. From January to May, 2007, he went on a bicycle marathon across Africa from North to the South, through 10 countries, on the Tour D’Afrique (riding from Cairo to Cape Town), successfully completing 12,000 Kilometers in 95 days, setting a World record for others to break! Ultimately, he went on for the second Year to complete the 2016 Old Mutual Joberg 2 C 900 Kilometers in over 9 days MTB stage race from Johannesburg to Durban. Moreover, Douglas has done 3 cycling majors on the slopes of Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley and this include: SC Rift Valley Odyssey: Laikipia Extreme Challenge and Fly 540, Mount Kenya 10to 4 Mountain Bike Challenge, a race in which Douglas and his talented partner John were involved in a grissly bike crash in 2015 and sustained life threatening head injuries losing consciousness and had to be rushed by helicopter to Nanyuki Cottage hospital for emergency treatment.
Douglas has exemplified the spirit of servant leadership, holding various community positions over time. These include President of the Kenya National Paralympics Committee, Board member of the National Council for People with Disabilities , United Nations Habitat Goodwill Ambassador for Safer Cities. Currently, he is serving as a Founder and Board member of Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa whose key objective is to unlock the potential of blind and Visually Impaired children for independent living through Braille literacy and appropriate Technology.
Douglas as a motivational speaker has inspired thousands of people around the world, by sharing his positive message of overcoming adversity through his profound resilience, determination and boundless confidence. Douglas’s presentations engage and inspire audiences by capturing lessons from his life experiences and adventures around the World. His illustrious speaking enterprise has spanned through Africa, Asia and the USA, delivering his sparkling and unique message focusing on: Triumph over adversity, unleashing Your True Potential by harnessing the power of adversity, Every cloud has a silver lining and our every endeavour to achieve our dreams to institutions such as United Nations, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Standard Chartered Bank, Old Mutual Africa, World Agro-Forestry Research Centre, Universities, Non Profit and Religious Organizations.
Douglas keynote message resonate on the fact that we all have challenges that want to knock us flat to our backs but we can confront those challenges head on breaking them and living a life full of purpose. His inspiration story has been widely covered and has featured on Top World TV channels and magazines. Clearly Douglas’ accomplishments demonstrates that one does not need to have perfect eyesight to have an extra-ordinary Vision.
Go to Douglas Sidialo’s website at: www.sidialo.com, where you can learn more about him, and about two books that illustrate his story.
When Blood and Tears United a Country
This book humanizes the bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya by highlighting Individual stories of families affected by the Bombing. In this book Douglas’ story is told about his lifelong journey towards healing.
The story about Douglas’ journey through tragedy. Douglas tells his story: how he has risen above the ordinary to promote peace through speaking engagements, writing, and sporting adventures.
To read Douglas’ lifestyle story go to: mobile.nation.co.ke
By Paul Mugambi, Kenya
A bit about Kenya:
Kenya is located in East Africa on the equator. It shares boarders with Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda. It also has 250 miles of coastline on the Indian Ocean. Kenya is named after Mount Kenya, the tallest mountain in the country. Kenya is a developing country, although more than half of its population lives in poverty. The Capital, and largest city is Nairobi. The two official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili, although a variety of languages are spoken in various other parts of the country. Kenya features many wildlife reserves, making safaris a popular attraction for tourists.
Schools for the Blind:
Kenya has several schools for people with disabilities, including many specialized schools for those who are blind or have low vision. These primary and secondary schools are residential. These are government schools, managed by Boards of Governors.
Fee payments are very poor. Local communities support the schools with gifts of food. Individual sponsorships are taking into consideration, based on visual impairment. Many children at these schools are older because of delays in commencing school. Such reasons could be due to hospitalization or if eye problems occurred later in their childhood.
The Thika School for the Blind which consist of a primary and secondary school, has a student enrollment of around 250. The school offers all the courses needed in order for the students to gain independence. Many of these students excel in sports and music. Some students have gone on to compete in Para-olympics. All the teachers and staff are professionally trained to deliver their duties with ethics and they have unconditional love for children.
Thika High School is one of a few High Schools for blind children in East and Central Africa. The school follows the standard High School curriculum leading to the Kenya Certificate in Secondary Education.
Some of the schools also have large computer libraries which are accessible to all the students. Some schools consist of students from very poor families and others students have been abandoned due to their disability. Such schools depend upon well-wishers, including Ministry of Education for support. Even with these challenges, the school’s focuses on producing competent and independent individuals.
Students with low vision would be more apt to enter into a “regular” school since there is no accommodations made for blind students.
Braille & mobility:
Braille is taught within these schools for the blind. Study books and examinations are transcribed into Braille.
Typically, students who enter the schools for the blind have not had any previous experience with a white cane. They are given their first cane upon entering school. However, there is no formal training in the use of the cane. Students learn mobility skills mainly from other older, more experienced students, or on their own.
Blind students do attend Universities, although the number is not very high. Blind students do receive some assistance with their materials. However, they pay for college the same way as their sighted peers; scholarships, financial aid, loans, etc.
Kenya Paralympic Sports: is an organization that runs sports for persons with physical and visual disabilities. They participate in a variety of sports both recreationally and competitively.
Kenya Sport Association for the Visually Impaired: plans and manages games and sports for persons with visual impairments in the country. Some sports that blind and visually impaired people participate in include judo, goalball, swimming, soccer, 5 ring ball, and bowling.
Some of the schools for the blind offer vocational courses. They include sewing and knitting for the ladies and leather craft and shoe making for the men. Other than this, there are no other job training programs.
There is no separate form of transportation for people with disabilities. Blind/visually impaired people ride the city bus and taxis just like sighted people, and with no reduced fare.
Navigating the streets in Kenya are not blind friendly. There are no curb cuts or tactile strips at intersections. Nor are there any pedestrian audible signals or braille at intersections. The best way to get around is with the white cane and asking others for assistance.
Other than on a few elevators, there is no braille in the public. Documents from various businesses are not provided in braille format.
There are no guide dog schools or guide dogs used in Kenya.
Blind individuals receive a white cane and a tax exemption. In order to receive any governmental assistance an individual must be severely disabled, and blindness does not qualify.
*National Council for Persons with Disabilities: To promote and protect equalization of opportunities and realization of human rights for people with disabilities to live decent lives.
*Society of Professionals with Visual Disabilities (SOPVID): a society that brings together blind professionals in order to find solutions on technological issues and hold discussions on matters specific to their professions and how best technology can be used to enhance their experiences.
*Kenya Society for the Blind: To enhance the prevention of blindness, increase access to services and equalization of opportunities for visually impaired persons, through: enabling programs, capacity building, networking, partnership and influencing change.
Some of the programs they have include; education, rehabilitation, awareness, eye care, and advocacy.
*Kenya Institute for the Blind (K.I.B) was registered as a National Braille Resource Centre for the Blind Persons by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology in February 2004. K.I.B strives to assist the Government of Kenya to fulfill the National Objectives such as Education for All in all activities.
The following are the major objectives of the Institute:
1. Establish and manage a Braille printing press to produce learning, teaching and leisure reading materials.
2. Establish and manage a library of reading materials and recordings for the visually impaired persons.
3. Produce large print materials for persons with low vision.
4. Teach Braille reading and writing skills to persons living or working with blind persons.
5. Offer rehabilitation services to persons with visual impairments.
*Braille Library Services:
A national Braille library, the only one of its kind in the country. This library offers services to primary, secondary, tertiary institutions and the general public braille readers. Currently, it has in stock about five thousand (5000) different titles covering all levels of education and various disciplines. Most of these books are produced at the institutes Braille printing press. Others are donations from abroad. Lending and borrowing can be done through Post Office.
*Rehabilitation and in-service Services:
Blind persons are trained in Braille reading and writing skills. Sighted persons are also trained in Braille reading and writing skills if they request for use in their work with the blind. Newly blinded persons. e.g. Bomb Blast Victims are trained in writing and reading Braille as well as orientation and mobility.
1. Brailling and debrailling examination scripts for colleges offering special education
2. Thermoforming services
3. Repair and maintenance of brailling equipment’s
4. Book/documents binding services
5. Cutting and distribution of braille papers
Paul believes that the majority of people in Kenya do not understand the blind. He added that people don’t recognize the difficulties blind people face. The top three things that Paul would like to see available for the blind are:
1. To have more adaptive technology training
2. training in orientation and mobility, and accessible transport
3. establishment of a blind center for excellence, where blind persons can be trained to be independent
Paul is a strong advocate for persons with disabilities. His work has earned him the following accolades:
*2015 Disability Activist of the year
*July 2014: Life time achievement award Winner ANNUAL DISABILITY ADVOCACY RIGHTS & AWARDS
*August 2013: Awarded “Champion of disability advocacy in the emergency response, by CBM International
Please check out the links below to learn more about Paul, and the great work he has done on behalf of persons with disabilities.
Feel, Look, and be Better
By Ken Roche RMT
Get your head right!
We are talking about posture this month, but I think get your head right is also a good slogan to express how learning and adopting the ABC’s (Applied Biomechanical Concepts) for self care and repair starts with a mental desire. They require conscious effort to consistently and persistently apply over time. However, if you learn how to effectively manage muscle/tendon, ligament or joint conditions by limiting negative habits while increasing positive influences to stimulate growth and guide healing, you can reproduce successful physical development, rehabilitation and maintenance everywhere in the body regardless of your current condition and future goals.
When postural muscles are not consciously used/activated to stabilise vertebrae and balance the head, which weighs some 12 lbs, 5.44 kg, it is allowed to slip forward where gravity can pull it down. It is suggested that every inch/ 2.54 cm, the head is forward of the ideal shoulder back alignment, as measured by the opening to the ear canal and called anterior head carriage. Adds 10 lbs/4.54 kg of constant pressure to the muscle/tendon, ligaments and joint surfaces of the neck and shoulders, continuing down the kinetic chain. As gravity pulls the head, muscles of the skull and upper neck (capital portion of paraspinal extensors and levator Scapulae) increase passive tension through their attachments to the shoulder blades, mid and low back, which are common areas for people to complain about; “carrying stress” or “knots”. Unfortunately, this forward and downward lean is continued down the body. As shoulders protract forward, the rib cage is depressed resulting in shallower breathing and rounding of the mid back (hyper kyphosis).
Sedentary lifestyles that include sitting too long, and too often leads to chronically shortened hip flexors. This combined with not using stomach muscles to stabilize the core and extending the knees more than necessary allows the pelvis to tilt forward and downward, further exaggerating low back extension (hyperlordosis) and the passive low back and hip extensor muscle hyper tonicity already mentioned.
The combined effects from above result in increased weight being loaded on the front of the feet. The three arched system of the foot is designed to be dynamically spring activated shock absorbers as part of the weight distribution and propulsion system. They are not intended for continuously sustaining static loads for prolonged periods of time as they are far too often used. There are several aspects that contribute to the “growing” concern of being out of balanced alignment and feeling the increasing effects of gravity as you literally struggle to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders over time.
As always, the body goes through “specific adaption to imposed demand” as it is used in it’s environment (SAID principle). Therefore, as the imposed demand of passively hanging on muscle/tendons without actively contracting them, the body starts laying down denser scar type connective tissue (collagen) toughening tendons in a lengthened position to help absorb the strain. conversely muscle/tendons on the shortened side of any exaggerated curvature slowly “creep” shorter and shorter over time, increasingly becoming resistant to stretch, which is known as “contracture. Along with this, comes the possibility that muscles of the lower neck (Anterior and mid scalene) and chest (pectoralis minor) can “creep” short enough to create, or contribute to, nerve compression resulting in pain, tingling, numbness and/or weakness of the arm and hand in a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Similarly, small muscles at the base of the skull (sub occipital) shorten, tighten and can potentially cause or contribute to various types of headaches.
Bone structure also changes with consistent influance over long periods of time. as the head goes forward and rocks upward effectively increasing the natural extension curvature of the cervical spine a lot of pressure is put on each of the two back joints of the vertebra (facet joints). Typically, this occurs in the mid vertebra, C3 and C4, which is often a site for diagnosed degenerative joint disease. Unfortunately, the “disease” title can give people an incorrect idea that the condition’s cause and future progression is out of their control. In fact, development of dense bone under the worn out cartilage is a direct result of excessive weight bearing movement created by adopting a posture like anterior head carriage. In addition, rocking back of one vertebrae on another, hyperextension, in this area of the neck causes a narrowing of the intervertebral foramina, which is a channel created when one vertebrae sits on another allowing nerves to enter and exit the spine. Narrowing of this channel gives opportunity for nerve compression/pinch and can lead or contribute to neurological symptoms similar to those previously described as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Mean while in the mid back where the spine is rounding forward, excessive pressure is placed on the front of the vertebral bodies which is a concern with advancing osteoporosis. As bones become brittle fractures may develop as the vertebral body collapses into itself; worsening the anterior head carriage and all the above potential symptoms. Anterior head carriage is just one static postural possibility and every activity has ideal and less than ideal postures associated, which are snap shots in time demonstrating how the body is acting and reacting to the physics involved. Regardless, in all cases, the body’s adaptive processes will be similar to the described just based on different specific influences.
Typically head and shoulders back, arms/elbows forward and knees bent athletic stances are better for acting with and against gravity. however, this anterior head carriage is way more common even though it is a significant negative growth influance for the body. So why do we commit to mindless poor sitting, standing and moving postures? Being easy or because it feels good seems to be silly answers considering the very real likely hood of them making us feel, move and even look terrible after years. There is no counter argument for it being easy because the easiest thing you can ever do is give in to gravity. But a little here and a little there, gravity will pull you down, physically and mentally if you let it. Using its challenge to develop postural muscles can be consciously difficult, but reversing its effects can be very mentally, physically and even financially challenging with progressive disability leading to therapy and/or surgery; the longer it’s left to grow and solidify.
However, we should be encouraged by the fact that negative effects can be avoided and even reversed with consistent effort over enough time. Because the body changes its adaption to every imposed demand; the sooner you start working on improving how you stand and move against gravity the sooner you will start to feel, look and be better.
I know this article may be difficult to read and understand so once you finish, I suggest you read it again sooner than later, especially if you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned. Next time through, keep in mind what you have learned about adaptive processes and the following corrective posturing to curve negative influences and stimulate positive growth.
Start by getting your head right. Tuck the chin straight back as it pivots down so the jaw slides flat, like a glider chair. Tuck back again, but now rotate, slowly look to one side then the other. Think about keeping the chin tucked back behind a shirt or blouse collar. Similarly, start chin tuck straight back before looking up. In all cases, insure extension or rotation of all seven vertebrae occurs in order from largest to smallest. You can do these actions separately as slow repetitive moving exercises or hold contraction/stretch for 6-8 seconds at either end of the range. Either way, feel and sustain any gentle stretch and contraction sensations as you go. You can tuck your chin and resist backwards against: your pillow morning and night. An appropriately held towel behind the mid skull after your shower, a car’s head rest or even your hands in various positions with three sets of ten repetitions at least 3 times per day. However, considering we are talking about postural and biomechanical re-education you really should consciously adopt these movement concepts in all daily activities. From time to time throughout the day, remember to tuck the chin back, squeeze your shoulder blades together or back and down for 6-8 seconds each. Just a little here and there, more often than not stabilize your posture and movements with stomach muscles. Be sure to bend your knees whenever you can, not too much, but enough to maintain a more dynamically proactive posture. Continue opposing negative growth by actively contracting or stretching into ranges you go less often and get ready for spring activities now by starting to mimic actions necessary.
As mentioned, training and re-educating improved posture and movement patterns requires a committed conscious effort. So reading these articles again and again will get your head right and help you feel, look and be better!
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton
Hi Ho Book Lovers!
This month’s article is full of several things of interest to all readers. So, let’s get right to it. I was flipping through most recent books added to BARD and actually squealed in delight when I saw the following book was available. I have read this one and all of Lawrence Anthony’s’ books after enjoying this one so much. All of his books are true. I found them to be wildly entertaining, touching, and beautifully written. His passion for the animals, the land and his fight to save the environment is on every page. I highly recommend anything written by Lawrence Anthony.
The Elephant Whisperer, My Life with the Herd in the African Wild
Written by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
Reading time: 13 hours and 9 minutes
Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2014
When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of “rogue” wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd’s last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn’t take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.
The Elephant Whisperer is a heartwarming, exciting, funny, and sometimes sad account of Anthony’s experiences with these huge yet sympathetic creatures. Set against the background of life on an African game reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, it is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.
Speaking of the Audies, the nominees for this year have been released. You can find them on Audible or on Audio File Magazine.
Two great recommendations from readers. From Morey in Wisconsin; The Making of The African Queen or how I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and nearly lost my mind
Written by Katharine Hepburn
A very interesting little book.
From Mike in North Carolina: Three by Tennessee; Three classic plays by Tennessee Williams
You can never go wrong with Tennessee. Thanks for the suggestions guys!
Noir: Black in French. Also acquainted with dark films. In this case, it’s associated with hardboiled crime
short stories. This month’s selection is Chicago Noir. First let me tell you a bit about this wonderful series of books. Akashic noir is an independent publisher that has a line of area specific short stories. BARD has over 70 of their titles, they include Haiti Noir, Dublin Noir, Baltimore Noir, Richmond Noir, Prison Noir and many more worldwide locations. All of these stories are set in that city, country, or situations. . From a wide variety of mystery writers and edited by some of our favorite authors, these books bring the dirty, often twisted tales right to your neighborhood. I am using the Chicago Noir title as an example of this great collection of books.
Edited by Neal Pollack
Reading time: 9 hours and 9 minutes
Eighteen short mystery stories set in Chicago. In “Goodnight Chicago and Amen” a man newly released from prison is hired to kill a cop but is double-crossed. In “Marty’s Drink or Die Club” a bartender learns about the existence of a strange bunch of alcoholics.
Chicago’s literature has rarely concerned itself with the vagaries of the upper and upper-middle classes. The city’s best writers—Nelson Algren, James Farrell, Studs Terkel, Richard Wright, and so on—have traditionally used working people as their palette. They accurately captured the rough streets and random cruelty of urban life, but for people living in Chicago, their stories meant something more. They shaped the way Chicagoans think about themselves, and about Chicago.
Check out the full line of these well-crafted books.
Until next month, Happy Reading,
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni
Hello and welcome back! We are now on the home stretch for the arrival of spring in North America. I can almost hear the birds chirping. I would like to thank in particular Deborah, Sandra, and Lillian for taking the time to write and share their kind words about The Blind Perspective and specifically, The Braille Highway. I can only speak for myself, I truly enjoy receiving emails from you, the readers. This month’s article I urge you to please write back with what you would do if faced with the situation I present below. As always, email me using the address noted at the top of this article.
As you all know I am a braille reader. When I am able to receive my monthly invoices in braille, I automatically jump at the opportunity. I am fortunate enough to receive 4 different monthly statements in alternative format, that being braille. I will not be naming the companies/organization’s. It seems very apparent to me that 2 of the documents are being out sourced to a braille production company. While the other 2 are being produced in braille in house.
I can see many arguments going without sourcing the work both good and bad. It seems to me that I usually receive the statements either 1 or 2 days before the due date. Then, many times I receive it after the actual due date. I am not penalized since my payments are preauthorized and taken from my bank account every month. It is great to be able to make sure that the charges are correct and that I am not being falsely charged. I have let the companies know about the statements arriving too close to the due date, or even after. Currently, my statements are now coming in a timelier fashion. The braille is UEB and it is very obvious that braille readers or braille professionals are producing it. The formatting is perfect and proper spacing is being followed, which makes reading it and finding the important information quite easy.
Now switching to the in house produced braille statements. The first thing that screams up at me when I begin reading is the formatting. A total mess and lots of blank spacing on the right hand side of the page. They use the big braille paper, the 11” x by 11.5”, which allows for 40 characters per line. Also keep in mind that the statement comes in uncontracted braille to accommodate all braille readers. My mailing address would be able to fit on one line of braille but the last word is placed on the next line all by itself. Many times when the dollar amount is the last item on the line it is placed by its self on the next line. Since UEB has been passed as the code that is being used here in North America, one would expect especially with it being over a year ago when it was put in to law, that most folks would make the switch. This is not the case with 2 separate companies that provide braille statements that are producing it in house. Since I have been reading braille for a long time, I have no problem figuring out what is being written and the different dollar signs used in the 2 codes.
I want to make clear that I really appreciate these companies taking the time and money to offer their statements in braille. This appreciation I have is what keeps me from complaining. I was having lunch with a blind friend at the end of February and he is of the mind set that I should complain. I am now stuck whether to stay silent and simply appreciate the efforts being made by these companies to provide me my statements in braille. On the other hand, should I inform them of the errors and hopefully they will remedy the situation. The real nice thing I find with having the braille copy is now it arrives to me way in advance of the due date. Also if I am needing to go back and search for something in particular, I usually can find it in a few quick moments on the page or by flipping and finding the correct page.
I would appreciate your feedback and your comments regarding this matter. It is a tightrope of sorts we are walking. Since these companies are making the effort to provide the statements in braille, I do appreciate it. However, on the other hand, it does get a bit annoying with the scattered format.
Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. I look forward to talking with you again in April.
Make Your Money Work
By Munawar Bijani
Last month, we discussed stock markets and learned how we can begin investing in them to grow our money. But, it sounds too good to be true, right? Think about it: we find out what companies are doing well, invest in them, and become billionaires. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was actually how things work? Well, they don’t, and here’s why.
If you grow your money in the stock market by using a company like Robinhood or Interactive Brokers, the money you gain is called capital gain. And, as with everything else, the government will want a chunk of it! When you file your taxes and you have “realized capital gains,” meaning you’ve sold off your stock and have pocketed the profit, the money you earned is taxable income. You’ll have to report the gain on your tax form. “So Munawar, let me get this straight. I take my hard-earned cash, invest it by doing research, make some money…and some of that money gets stolen?” Yup.
“But…” Yeah, it really does work like that, no matter how many ifs, ands or buts you put on it. However, as with almost everything else, there are ways around this tax. See? You can play the game, too, and I’ll show you how! Best of all, the methods we’ll talk about are completely legal.
The answer to the stealing issue boils down to three letters. If you’re in the U.S., your three letters are IRA. In the U.K., your three letters are ISA.
IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account, and ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. Wow, why did we in the U.S. have to throw the word “retirement” in there? That’s, like, for old people, isn’t it? Not necessarily. Let me explain.
An IRA is an account that you put money into. You can open one as long as you have taxable income. Notice I didn’t mention an age here. That’s because you can start as early as you want. The money that goes into your IRA is taxable, but the money that grows in your IRA is not taxable, meaning that your money grows without being stolen– um–I mean, without being taxed. This is one type of IRA called a Roth IRA. The other IRA is called a Traditional IRA, where it’s the opposite. The money you put into the IRA is not taxed, but when you draw from the account, that money you take out is taxable. Generally, we prefer Roth IRA’s over Traditional IRA’s because we expect tax rates to increase, not decrease. So it’s better to pay tax now rather than thirty years into the future when you’ve got grandkids running around your recently-cleaned house, and you’re trying your best not to yell at them, because, well, grandparents aren’t supposed to get mad at their grandkids and all that.
You won’t be able to open a Roth IRA if you make more than $132,000 a year. For a Traditional IRA, there is no income limit. Also, the maximum you can contribute to an IRA is $5,500 a year. This is across all IRA’s you hold. So if you have one Traditional and one Roth IRA, you can’t put $5,500 into each IRA; although that would be nice, Uncle Sam is afraid it’d make things too easy for us if he lets us do that.
An ISA is similar to a Roth IRA in that you don’t pay tax on gains. There are various types of ISA’s, though, and instead of going through them all, I’ll give you a web address where you can learn more. www.moneysavingexpert.com
The short version to this website is that you can open a cash ISA or a stocks and shares ISA. A cash ISA is a savings account where the interest you earn is not taxable. A stocks and shares ISA is the U.K. version of a Roth IRA: you invest the money you put into this account, and any gains you earn are not taxed. The limit to the yearly contribution to an ISA is £15,240.
This is all dandy if I tell you these things, but it won’t help if you don’t know how to open one of these accounts. It’s theoretical knowledge until we make it practical, isn’t it?
So, let’s get started! A word of caution before we move on. You cannot invest in a Roth IRA if you don’t have taxable income; you will fund it using “after-tax income,” meaning that if your income is made solely of government benefits, you cannot open an IRA. The same goes for an ISA. You are not allowed to fund it from untaxed income.
For an IRA, today’s approach is to open a Roth IRA. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to open an automated investment account. In this account, your money is invested for you, for a small fee (and by “small,” I mean small.) Go to: wlth.fr/1S7AAfJ
and you can get started opening your Roth IRA. You need a minimum deposit of $500 to open the account. The link I provided will give you up to $15,000 managed with no fee; but, if you’d rather take the fee, you can go directly to www.wealthfront.com
and… well…pay a fee.
Wealthfront takes your money and invests it for you in a diversified manner. All you have to do is put it in, and watch it grow (yes, it really is that simple!)
In the U.K., you can use Nutmeg: www.nutmeg.com
They do what Wealthfront advertises: automated investing. Their fee is 0.75% per year, which is almost nothing for small-time investors. They will guide you through the process of setting up an ISA through a brief survey that will determine your risk tolerance. Then, you begin putting money into the ISA and watch it grow. Sorry guys, no referral link for this one!
There are other ways to open IRA’s and ISA’s, but to keep things simple, automated investing is all we’ll cover. For those of you who are interested, you can open an IRA using Vanguard or any number of other firms. Be aware though that you will trade in these accounts just like we discussed last month. So, for a small fee, why not have someone do it for you?
We’ve now completed our discussion of investing. You can take a deep breath now, because starting next month, we’ll get back to the normal people stuff that we all love: credit cards.
We covered IRA’s and ISA’s in this article. We discovered why it’s important to put your money into one of these accounts, and discussed the tax breaks associated with them. Next month, we’ll look at how we’re doing with our plastics.
If you have any comments on this article, you can Email me at my address above.
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe
It would seem that those of us who like to craft are always looking for new ideas and inspiration. Access to computers, smart phones and the Internet have helped a lot to put us in touch with others who are eager to share their ideas, and knowledge to inspire us and help us along our crafting journey. However, the Internet is such a large space with so much information, it is often hard to sift through it all and find the useful things you are looking for.
So, for this month I thought I’d share a specific craft site with you all, explaining some of its features and how I use it, for those who might like to browse for new craft projects and ideas on their own. I also include two easy projects from the site as examples at the end of this article.
Keep in mind that you might have to do some things a little differently, depending on the device, platform and screen-reader you are using to access the Internet. I am just explaining the very basics of the site itself from the point of view of someone using a Windows operating system and an Internet browser on a PC or laptop.
Favecrafts, at: www.favecrafts.com
, is a site with a large amount of step by step tutorials, craft articles and ideas, free craft ebooks and more.
After typing in the above address, either type a word into the search box, or you could choose a category and find all the tutorials listed under e.g. knitting or green crafts.
The site is set up so that, on each page there are different sections, all defined by their own headings. The most important ones are the projects, or posts, listed under heading level 4. When you enter on a specific post, a new page will open. To go to the contents of the post, just press the shortcut key for heading level 1.
To read another post, just return to the list of projects. Below the list of posts on each page, you will also find some page numbers which will allow you to navigate to the next or previous pages using the tab key.
Some of the projects have step-by-step instructions right on the site itself, while, for others, you are directed to another blog or site.
You may register with the site for free, which will enable you to save all your favorite crafts in one place, add personal notes to crafts, comment on others’ crafts and more. You could also sign up for e-mail newsletters from the site.
I end with two small projects from the abovementioned site, just to give you an idea of what to expect (see sources at the end of this article).
The first is a No Sew Tea Cup Pin Cushion by Olivia from Hopeful Honey. If you are making this gift for someone that rather drinks coffee, I am sure a special mug will be just as cute as a teacup.
Teacup or coffee mug [use a cup left over from a set or look for interesting mugs at thrift stores]
10 inch x 10 inch [25cm x 25cm] piece of fabric Stuffing Rubber band or hair band
1. Gather all your supplies together before starting.
2. Lay your piece of fabric on a flat surface with the pretty side down.
3. Take a good handful of stuffing and place it in the center of the fabric.
4. Slowly and carefully take each corner of the fabric and bring it together, making sure that the stuffing is in the middle.
5. Taking the rubber/hair band in your hand, wrap it tightly around the top of the ball of stuffing. Check to make sure that no stuffing is showing before placing the rubber/hair band side down into your cup.
Secondly, I thought to share another simple yarn craft, described as a traditional craft from the Huichol Indians of Mexico.
God’s Eyes are fun crafts and fairly easy for kids to make. You will only need two craft or popsicle sticks, glue, scissors and yarn in several colors.
Glue the craft sticks together at the center to make a cross or plus sign.
Take your first color of yarn and wrap it over and around one stick, then over and around the next stick and so on. Keep going around in a circle, adding layers of your yarn color. When you are satisfied with the size of your woven “eye,” switch colors.
Simply cut the yarn off from the skein and tie a new color onto the old yarn with a tight knot. Keep wrapping.
Change colors once or twice more and tie a knot to finish.
By Cheryl Spencer
Normally, I write about some gadget I have seen or heard about, but this month I am going to stray a bit and shine my spotlight on one of the members of the I Access iPhone users group I attend. Let me introduce you to Don Arsenault a friend of mine. he retired from the IRS about a year ago and turned poet. He read one of his works for us at the last meeting and graciously agreed to let me share it with you.
Goal Train poem
By Don Arsenault
What was now is, and what is once was.
Why we are the way we are, well it’s just because
Hap-hazard happenstances brought on by a certain set of circumstances
Along with our proclivity for seruptitious serendipity
And Vola, there you are
A super star
On the stage of life for all to see
But are we to be merely not to be?
No! We have a nobler mission
Inspired by an inner vision
Like a conductor on a train rolling down the track
Always going forward while constantly looking back
My goal is to find a word that rhymes with orange.
I’ve been told that my quest is an impossibility
With no chance of success or tranquility
However, I vow to persue my dream
Through valleys low or pastures green
Come what may I shall persevere
For I feel I am very near
I am confident in my ability
Though at times I question my stability
Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a tightrope
But through it all I refuse to lose hope
As I sway from Side-to-side as if I’m on an invisible door hinge.
Hmmm: (orange door hinge)
It is time for celebration
I have reached my destination
When on my face you see a smerk
It’s because I got close enough for government work
And now before I head off to the stockyard
I’ll find something else that’s equally as hard
Dare I ask the same of you?
Chugga chugga chugga chugga chu,,chu,,chu.
APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice
By Darrin Cheney firstname.lastname@example.org
Dealing with Those Pesky Ads in iOS
It was my turn to cook dinner, so I hopped online and searched for a savory “Peppered-Beef” recipe. Google found me a great site that gave me a list of ingredients and simple cooking instructions. An ad appeared for a store where I could buy the ingredients on sale. Then, there were ads for Olive Oil, Jello, and a local car dealership. I even had an ad for a gift that I researched on Amazon.com last Christmas. It took forever for VO to read the web page and to navigate through each ad. Where are these ads coming from and how can I control them?
Website design companies are adding advertisements to their web pages to generate more revenue. Apple, Google, and others are using your data to target these ads in websites you visit, apps you download, and news you read online. This data is collected and stored on your device. Many users like having “personalized” ads and services, whereas others want more privacy and fewer ads. Here are some ways you can control what you see.
Block the Ads:
Use the “Reader” feature in Safari to limit clutter on a web page. Flick-left of the Address bar and double-tap on the reader button to activate it. When available, the Reader will block most of the ads and some of the images. In iOS 10, Apple introduced new low-vision settings. You can learn more at:
An “Ad Blocker” is a third-party app or widget that interacts with Safari and other apps on your iOS device to limit what ads appear based upon your preferences. The Ad Blocker can block unwanted ads, remove annoying pop-ups in apps, and even speed up your Internet connection. Check out these two websites for more information:
Limit or Control The Ads:
Apple wants to give you” the best” advertising experience by using your AppStore search history or Apple News reading history to provide you with “Interest-Based” advertisements. After many user complaints, Apple added a feature to “limit” these ads. This article will describe the process:
“Ads by Google” allows companies to advertise their products on the websites you visit. If you have a Google account or GMail address, the videos you watch on YouTube, Websites you visit, Google Internet searches, etc., are tracked to better provide you with content recommendations. These ads are personalized with this information. You can log into your Google account and tweak your Ads Settings. This article will explain the process:
I struggle with how much personal information I am willing to give in order to receive interest-based ads, services, and products. The ad with my recipe ingredients and sale flyer was helpful, but do I want an ad for every item I shop for on Amazon.com? The key is to learn how to configure your device for how you want to use it. Start with using the Reader feature. Then look into limiting ads by Apple and Google. Finally, consider making a note of what settings you change and when.
iDevices are wonderful tools to gather information online. it’s challenging and frustrating to navigate these websites when the extra “noise” of advertisements and images get in the way of the message. With the tools mentioned above, you can decide what data to share and what clutter you wish to receive.
The Rotating Trio: The WindBag
The iPhone will provide loads of gaming possibilities, when on the go or at home. Here are just a few. I will give some that aren’t the really common ones such as versions of Blackjack, slot machines and other casino type games, card games and the like. Well, maybe one card game, because it isn’t found very frequently.
How about a racing game? Audio Relay Racer costs about $15 from the app store. Using ear buds or a headset, you choose from 9 different cars that have different handling and acceleration characteristics. You can drive on 5 road courses in 10 countries around the world, for a total of 50 different tracks. There are different modes of play. You steer the car by tilting your iPhone to the left or right when you are warned, verbally, of an upcoming turn. Hit the gas or the brakes with finger gestures. Don’t get careless, or you’ll damage the car. If you damage it too much, you’re finished before reaching the finish line. The sounds are very good, and you can spend a few minutes or hours with this game.
In a previous article, I discussed chess apps, one of which will adjust its playing strength to yours, so I won’t review Shredder Chess here. However, there is an app if you cannot find anyone for a good game of cribbage. You play against the iPhone. It will keep the score and move the pegs. Just as in the real game, you are dealt 6 cards, and so is the computer opponent. Decide what to put into the crib depending on which of you will be getting it, then play your cards one by one. What makes this game more interesting is that as your skill improves, so will the skill of the computer opponent, from beginner level through expert level. If this app isn’t a free one, it only costs a couple of bucks, so its worth the money. Look in the app store for cribbage pro.
With Saint Patrick’s Day in 17 days, I thought I would share a couple of recipes from my dear, and longtime Irish friend. You will find the start and end of what could be a great Saint Patty’s Day dinner. You just have to include the corn beef and cabbage to make it complete!
Irish Potato Soup
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 leeks, sliced
5 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 (14.5ounce) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Toppings: shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped fresh chives
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; stir in onion and leeks
Cover and cook 20 minutes
Stir in potato; cover and cook 15 minutes
Stir in broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil
Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender
Remove from heat, and cool slightly
Process soup in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. return to saucepan and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
Serve with desired toppings
Note: You could also puree the soup directly in the pot (when cooled) with a hand or immersion blender
Tip: You could add another cooked potato that has been diced, for added texture.
Irish Lemon Pudding
For the Crust
½ cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt
Pour in the melted butter and pull everything together with a wooden spoon
Use your hands to completely incorporate all the bits and form a ball
The dough will be smooth, soft, and pliable
Press it into the bottom and up the sides of an 8 or 9″ tart pan (a springform pan is fine)
Cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and prick it all over with a fork
Bake for 10 minutes and then set aside while you prepare the filling
For the Irish Lemon Pudding
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, whites and yolks divided
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
½ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ cups milk
Whipped cream and sprinkles to top
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar
Add the egg yolks and beat until fluffy
Place the egg whites in a medium bowl (one large enough that you can get the beaters of a hand mixer in it)
To the butter, sugar, and yolks add the lemon zest and juice, beat until smooth
Add the flour and mix until just combined
Slowly pour in the milk and mix completely, the batter will be liquidy with bubbles appearing at the edges of the bowl
Using the whisk attachments for your hand mixer (or an incredible amount of elbow grease) beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, they will look like meringue
Fold the whites into the batter, you might not be able to fold it all in without it looking clumpy and lumpy; it’s ok! You want those fluffy egg whites to stay that way.
Pour the batter into the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes
Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired
Can be served warm or cold.
Note: The crust will come together quickly but does need to chill for about 30 minutes before baking. Be sure you allow yourself time for that or make the crust ahead of time.
Riddle & Brain Buster
By Alex Smart
Everyone has it and no one can lose it, what is it?
Answer to February’s riddle
What belongs to you, but is used more by others?
Name a familiar game with four letters, switch the order of the last two letters, and you will get the name of a completely different game. Hint: One of the games is played indoors, while the other is played outdoors. What is it?
Answers to February’s brain buster
*You woke me up to serve the navy men rum, said Sam Groggily.
*I’ll make you Folger’s coffee right away, said Sam Instantly
*Let’s get this no good model T started, said Sam crankily
*Let every lady now touch her partner, said Sam Gently
*I hereby give everyone one thousand dollars, said Sam Grandly
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