Welcome to The Blind Perspective

Welcome to The Blind Perspective

June 2017
Volume 3 Issue 6

Table of Contents

Greetings from the Editor
Sponsor of the Month
Movers & Shakers
International Perspective
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Make Your Money Work
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
Spencer’s Spotlight
Computer Tech101
the Rotating Trio: WindBag
Cooking Concoctions
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

Hello Subscribers!
We all here at The Blind Perspective hope you are enjoying reading the newsletter each and every month. As always, be sure to send us your opinions, suggestions, comments, and questions.

Here is some exciting news to share about The Blind Perspective! We now have and audio format of the newsletter. I would like to introduce you to our newest member of The Blind pperspective, Teddy, our audio technician. He has worked hard in creating this new and fantastic edition of the newsletter. Should you have any questions for Teddy you can email him at: Teddy@theblindperspective.com
This audio version will be available monthly on the website. We are currently working with other venues to host our new audio format. For our debut you can Click Here to Listen to the June 2017 Audio Copy Volume 3 Issue #6

Next month Munawar will be closing up his Financial series. I, along with many of you have learned a great deal more about finance. What I have enjoyed most about his articles is how he takes what can be a complex topic and simplifies it. In addition, I love the humor he also sneaks into his articles. Munawar says he will be back once he comes up with another financial topic to write about. I would just like to say thank you Munawar for your informative and entertaining articles!

the International Perspective segment will be taking a break for a couple of months. However, if you would like to be interviewed, or write up your own article, email me at: Karen@theblindperspective.com

Be sure to check out our sponsor of the month. They have great informative podcasts on a variety of topics dealing with assistive technology. Not too long ago they conducted an interview with our very own author of The Braille Highway, Nat Armeni. The direct link to that podcast is: at-banter-podcast-epsiode-48

At A Glance: Podcasts, Krafters Korner, Louisiana, Hips & Legs, Books, Baseball, & Availability, Tactile Invention, Hidden Fees, Friendship Bracelet, Keyboard, Favorites, Grilling, Risotto, Riddle & Brain Buster.

Sponsor of the Month

The A T Banter Podcast

A T Banter is a weekly podcast featuring a balanced and entertaining look at Assistive Technology and the people who use it, with insights and discussions from varied technology specialists and those in the community.

Find us at: www.atbanter.com

Twitter: at_banter

Facebook: atbanter

Movers & Shakers

The NFB Krafters Division
By Cathy Flesher

The NFB Krafters Divisions’ goal is to share our love of crafts with other visually impaired and blind persons. In 2008, our first and current president Joyce Kane had the thought that she would like to get to know others who were blind or visually impaired so she could learn from others and share her own knowledge about crafts. The group is affectionately known as krafters Korner, the K’s in the name reflecting the group founder’s last name.

First, a listserv was created, where crafters from all around the country and later those from other countries as well, began to share just how it was they were able to make the crafts they could. It is a busy list to this day, and topics focus on a wide variety of crafts.

If you are interested in joining our list, go to sign up at: www.krafterskorner.org/listserv/

Krafters Korner offers craft lovers another way to connect with one another through our Monday night chats, held every Monday via conference call. Each week features a different craft-related topic where one person hosts the chat and others join in to ask questions and/or share. Anyone is welcome to join our chats, which are held at 8:30 PM eastern time.

Simply call 605 475 4000, Participant Access Code 966659#.

Joining the NFB Krafters Division allows a visually impaired or blind person to take advantage of the many classes we offer taught by and for our members. Over the past four years, we have offered over 60 classes per year to our paid members. Membership is only $20 per year, beginning in July. Once you are a member, you can take as many of the classes offered, as you would like. We offer both conference call as well as email classes. Some of the many crafts covered in our past and current classes include: knitting, crocheting, loom knitting, beading and jewelry-making, soap making, macramé, latch hooking, kumihimo, origami, safety pin beading, sewing by hand and by machine, quilting, plastic canvas, and crafts for the holidays. If you are interested in trying a class before joining the division, you can try your first class free.

To sign up for a free class or to look at the full list of past classes taught: go to: www.krafterskorner.org/classes/

Click on the archive class’s link for a list of past classes. Click on the current class’s link to get a list of classes currently being offered for sign up. Click on the class of your choice and use the sign up form at the bottom of the page to join the class. All information you will need for that class including date, time and supply list are listed on each class page.

By the way, Krafters Korner will be selling hand-made braille greeting cards with tactile pictures on them at the NFB convention. Please stop by our table in the exhibit hall on Tuesday or Wednesday to see the cards and to ask us any questions you may have about our group.

In summary, I have been a member of Krafters Korner for over 5 years and I simply love the group. I have learned so very much from others, learned to make things I never believed I could, and just as enjoyable is teaching others what I have learned myself. Our motto is: Krafters Korner is for everyone and everyone makes KraftersKorner what it is.”

International Perspective

By David Faucheux: Louisiana
Author of Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile

I live in Lafayette, Louisiana. This city of nearly 128,000 is located in the heart of Acadiana. Acadiana or L’Acadiane is the official name given to the French Louisiana region that is home to a large Francophone population. Many are of Acadian descent and are now identified as Cajun. Of the 64 parishes that make up the state of Louisiana, 22 named parishes and other parishes of similar cultural environment make up this intrastate region. Louisiana has parishes where the other 49 states have counties.

Acadiana consists mainly of low gentle hills in the north section and dry land prairies, with marshes and bayous (creeks) in the south closer to the coast. The wetlands increase in frequency in and around the Calcasieu River, Atchafalaya Basin, and the Mississippi River Delta. rice and sugarcane are grown here.

Acadiana, as defined by the Louisiana legislature, refers to the area that stretches from just west of New Orleans to the Texas border along the Gulf of Mexico coast, and about 100 miles inland, comprising a land area of 14,574.1 square miles with a population of over 1.3 million. The climate is humid, subtropical with long hot summers and mild winters.

Tourists love to visit because of our many music festivals, unique cuisine, mild winters, Mardi Gras celebrations, outdoor pursuits, and friendly people.

Schools for the Blind:
There is a residential school for the blind in Baton Rouge but mine was the last generation that had to go there to be educated. Today, most students are mainstreamed at local schools with resource teachers visiting to teach braille and travel skills.

University Education:
Universities have Disabled Student Services that assist students in locating materials in usable formats or provide readers who can produce usable materials. I was disappointed when I attended graduate school to obtain a Master’s of Library and Information Science because I felt unwelcome. I thought in the late 1990s as the Internet was taking off that it would be an ideal time to obtain this degree and pursue a career in this field. There were issues of accessibility regarding technology and LRS did not back me up as they felt the issues were ADA-related. I felt their influence would be greater than mine because they paid the tuition of about a thousand students to the university I was attending. Money usually talks. LRS chose to remain silent. Blindness consumer organizations were uninterested as well.

Athletic Organizations:
As far as I know, there are no state-run sports programs for blind individuals. Schools may have programs for their students, but other than that, I am not certain. I have heard that New Orleans has had some activities, but nothing on a regular basis as of this writing. my knowledge the several Rehab centers in the state do not sponsor tandem biking or such activities.

Vocational Training:
Job training is provided by the several Rehab centers located in the state. Friends of mine feel, and I do as well, that job training has not prepared many blind Louisianans for gainful employment. Something is somehow broken in the state. I do not have Department of Labor statistics, but I have spoken to friends who have spent years looking for jobs. I have found the agencies that contract with Louisiana Rehabilitative Services (LRS) to assist in finding jobs for clients to be ill-informed and under-prepared.

Lafayette has a paratransit service. One can schedule a ride up to two weeks ahead and the fare is $1.50 or if you buy a book of tickets, it’s $1.25. There are public city buses with a reduced fare. I rarely ride the city buses as attempting to transfer downtown is nightmarish. There needs to be more work done with accessibility.
Uber and Lyft are now in Lafayette. Blind friends tell me they have found them to be excellent, superior to the local cabs which can be sketchy.

Getting Around:
*There are several audible traffic signals, not as many as might be. There are also curb cuts (though those always confuse me).
*I don’t know whether or not there is braille signage on street signs. There is some braille in the public. Chain restaurants have braille menus and elevators have braille.

Guide Dog School:
We have no guide dog schools in Louisiana and I suspect it’s not hugely popular here. I once owned a dog and had to advocate on several occasions. I’d prefer not to deal with this stress anymore as I am older and not in the best of health.

As far as benefits, we have the standard Federal benefits of SSI or SSDI. I understand local Lions Clubs have assisted people with the purchase of equipment.

Reading Service:
Talking books are provided free of charge by the State Library of Louisiana Talking Books and Braille Library which mails them out from Baton Rouge. Digital books can also be downloaded from BARD. The distribution of braille books has been outsourced to the Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled for over a decade now.

Blind Organizations:
Louisiana has both state and local chapters of the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind.
In addition, there is a statewide organization, Affiliated Blind of Louisiana or ABL. ABL has no national presence. ABL provides the kinds of services found in most rehab centers for the blind, such as adaptive technology training, cane travel, home and personal management, and braille.

Final Thoughts:
I hesitate to write the following: I feel that blind people are not quite accepted in my community. No one is mean or disrespectful, but we are not equal. I have often felt like I move on a parallel track to sighted people: not quite of their world, in their world, but not quite of it! I know the community, this entire region, which prides itself on its generosity and caring, could do better, if only it knew better. This would take a major effort. Let me close with a letter from my soon-to-be-published journal: Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile.

This bit is from a letter to the editor of AccessWorld, a monthly technology newsletter.
Dear Editor:
I was impressed with Deborah Armstrong’s thoughts in the Letters to the Editor section of the May issue. She has made very cogent points that are not always addressed. Financing models would make some of this adaptive technology affordable. We can’t all get rehab to underwrite our tech needs, and sometimes, rehab doesn’t understand our needs and will believe any sighted tech vendor’s suggestions about how you don’t need quite so much RAM, or this brand is just as good as that one, and when your system crashes, somehow it’s your fault. Could there not be an effort to research and collect best–practices of rehab centers? Surely some states must have respectable job placement rates for their blind client’s post–ADA. Clients could be interviewed after attending a center or working with a technology vendor to learn which providers are good and which are in it more for the money.

I suppose to sum up, I just would like there to be safe travel means, decent jobs, and acceptance where I live.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Well summer is upon us in the northern hemisphere, and it is time to shed those extra layers of clothes and show some skin. So, we need to tone up those hips and leg muscles. And, for those of you in the southern hemisphere these exercises will help you to get fit and ready to show off your legs when the warm weather returns.

Below you will be introduced to four hip and leg exercises. You can do these exercises with your body weight, with dumbbells, or with resistance bands.

Exercise #1: Squats
In my opinion this is one of the best functional exercises you can do for yourself. We are constantly getting up from our chairs, couch, and toilet seat. And we are routinely squatting down to pick or lift up things. The stronger your hips and legs are the easier it is to get up from your sitting position.

Starting Position: Stand with feet hips width apart, stomach slightly contracted and tucked in, shoulders back, and head facing straight ahead, not looking down or up.

*With your hands at your sides, pretend you are going to sit down, and make sure you stick your butt out as you lower your hips to a sitting position
*Try to hold the sitting position for a few seconds before returning to the original standing position
Note: Remember to keep your knees soft or slightly bent, never lock your knees.
Repeat this exercise 15 to 25 reps, or whatever you can do.

Exercise #2: Step ups
This is another good functional exercise. We all need to climb stairs, so this is an excellent form of exercise to strengthen your hips, legs and heart muscles. This is a good cardiovascular exercise. So, let’s kill 2 birds with one stone.

I used to watch Jack Lalanne and he did this with a chair. I recommend not to do this; the chair is too high and unstable. I recommend using your stairs, an exercise platform if you have one, or a stable foot stool.

Assume the starting position as described above.
Using stairs:
*Start with your right foot and lift it up to either the first or second step. If climbing to the second step is too much, just go to the first step.
*Once your right foot is planted on that step, lift your left foot and knee up to your hip level and return left foot to the floor.
*Return your right foot back to the floor, and to the starting position.
Repeat it again for 15 reps and switch legs.
*Start with your left foot and lift it up to either the first or second step.
*Once your left foot is planted on that step, lift your right foot and knee up to your hip level and return right foot to the floor.
*Return your left foot back to the floor, and to the starting position.
Repeat it again for 15 reps
Notes: You can do this all on right side for 15 reps and then left side for 15 reps, or you can alternate legs. Up with the right foot and down for one rep, then change to your left foot for one rep, and continue in this manner.
A good reason I prefer to use the stairs, is because there is a railing should you need it to help with balance.

Exercise #3: Bridging
Ladies if you want buns of steel, I recommend you do this exercise.
Get Ready: Get on the floor and lay on your back. I recommend using an exercise mat or carpeting to do this exercise. You can do this on a hardwood floor, but it will be a bit uncomfortable. Your choice.

Starting Position: While on your back have your feet flat on the floor and hip width apart, both knees bent at 90 degrees, abdomen slightly contracted or tight, and head facing straight towards the ceiling, and your arms to your side, with hands flat on the floor.

*Simply lift your butt off the floor and hold for a count of 5
*Return to starting position and repeat for 25 reps
You can have fun with bridging, because you can lift your butt off the floor and hold for one minute and then do 15 reps.

Advanced Bridging: One legged bridging
*Starting Position: Left foot flat on the floor with left knee bent at 90 degrees, right leg straight and about 3 inches off the floor
*Lift your butt off the floor for a count of 2, and do 15 reps
Repeat with your left leg slightly off the floor
So, go for the burn!

Exercise #4: Wall Squats
You will need an empty wall for this exercise.
Starting Position: Your head and back should be flat against the wall, stomach slightly tucked in, knees slightly bent, feet hip width apart, and about 2 feet out from the wall, and hands at your sides.
*Slide your upper torso and butt down the wall to a sitting position and hold for 30 seconds or 1 minute
*Slide back up to the original position
Note: This is a form of isometric exercise, meaning no joint movements.
If you do these 4 exercises, I guarantee you will see results, stronger hips and legs, and better posture.

Health Tip:
Aerobics/cardiovascular exercise burn calories, whereas resistant or weight training burns fat. So, I recommend combining cardio and resistant training to lose weight and bodyfat.

You know those infomercials that sell you those exercise contraptions or videos? Well I would love to hear your success or horror stories. Was it a good product or was it a waste of time and money? Email me at my address above.
Good luck and get moving!!!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Hi Ho Book lovers!
I hope this newsletter finds all of you healthy and happy. I have 2 fantastic books for your consideration and a seasonal short story collection. In addition, there is a recommendation from a reader and I answer a very important question. So, off we go….

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A true Story
Written by Douglas Preston
Reading time: 10 hours and 31 minutes
A 500-year-old legend. An ancient curse. A stunning medical mystery. And a pioneering journey into the unknown heart of the world’s densest jungle.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God – but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, best-selling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley, ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.

Venturing into this raw, treacherous, but breathtakingly beautiful wilderness to confirm the discovery, Preston and the team battled torrential rains, quickmud, disease-carrying insects, jaguars, and deadly snakes. But it wasn’t until they returned that tragedy struck: Preston and others found they had contracted in the ruins a horrifying, sometimes lethal – and incurable – disease.

Suspenseful and shocking, filled with colorful history, hair-raising adventure, and dramatic twists of fortune, The Lost City of the Monkey God is the absolutely true, eyewitness account of one of the great discoveries of the 21st century.

My comments; I love Preston’s fiction writing, but his nonfiction is even better, because it’s true and it’s first hand. I was turned on to his nonfiction when I read Dinosaurs in the Attic, An excursion into the American Museum of Natural History; DB25292. A wonderful book. Monkey God is fantastic, filled with adventure, mystery and new scientific discoveries. Preston has also written for National Geographic; he is one great writer!

News of The World
Written by Paulette Jiles
Reading time: 6 hours and 16 minutes
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember – strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become – in the eyes of the law – a kidnapper himself.
Some violence and some strong language.

My comments: I loved this book! If you are from Texas, I urge you to read this one. It tells a lot of state history. It’s a powerful story told in a touching way.

Play Ball! It’s baseball time, so how about some baseball short story collections? I can recommend the following 2 books.

The Heavenly World Series; Timeless Baseball Fiction
Written by Frank O’Rourke
Reading time: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Eighteen stories, written in the 1940s and 1950s, vividly portray baseball from the turn of the century to the fifties. These tales show O’Rourke’s fictional heroes competing alongside such baseball greats as Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Leo Durocher while confronting the limitations of injury, age, and ambition.

The Essential W. P. Kinsella
Written by W. P. Kinsella
Reading time: 15 hours and 22 minutes Thirty-one stories spanning the career of Kinsella, best known for his humorous baseball stories. Stories range from the fantastical to the mundane, with baseball certainly well represented. Includes “Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa,” the basis of the film Field of Dreams.
Some strong language.

Morey writes to recommend:
One for the Road: Hitchhiking through the Australian Outback
Written by: Tony Horowitz
Tells the story of a newspaper man who gets the urge to find out. what it is like in the rough world of Central Australia. Meets the people, mostly all drunks, tries to learn their life styles, not much of anything, and learns how to enjoy the “Pubs” all along the roads. This is basically how they travel, from Pub to Pub, and do it again.

Meets other hitch-hikers, strange characters, and tries to find out their life styles, which is not much of anything.

Finds a secret, but not-so-secret US Communications Community, which patrols the skies over Australia for electronic chatter from other countries.

Book is 8 hours long, a bit of humor, drinking, a little fishing, and other things. Not a bad read if you want to find out about real people, and ways of life.

Thanks, Morey, great review!

Kerri from British Columbia writes to ask about the DB numbers and the availability of the books I write about. The DB numbers are the library call numbers for the Library of Congress or BARD. Most of the books I write about are available on audible as well as in the U. S. and BARD. I wish I had a way to check if the books are available in Canada or other countries. At this point, I just don’t. I am sorry and if anyone can shed light on how to source other avenues, I’d love to learn. I’m not a daisy or book share user either. I’m sorry, I wish I had access to all of these, but the audio book world is growing so fast, I’m sure you can find a book somewhere.

Remember, The Audis are announced the first of June, so we’ll be watching out for those winners. No matter where in the world you are, no matter what format you choose, read on my friends!

Until next time, Happy reading,
Carla jo

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

Hello and welcome to the June article. It totally blows me away the creative, innovated, and determined mines some college students have. This article is about six such undergrad students from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

These six engineering students, all women, Participated in the 15-hour long MakeMIT Hackathon event last February. Their motivating team name was Team 100% Enthusiasm. Well they certainly needed that enthusiasm in order to get them to submit their working gadget in on time.

Through all the changes of deciding what to create, and the problems with the different components needed to produce their prototype, they persevered. These young women had just created the first ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. They called it Tactile, and they won first prize. Now, isn’t that something!

Some Facts:
*Approximately 1.3 million Americans are legally blind, though millions more live with a visual disability.
*At the end of 2015, an estimated 61,739 students were reported as legally blind.
*Globally, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have low vision.
*Only about an estimated 10% of blind children learn braille.
*Up to 70% of blind people are unemployed.
One more interesting fact; 80 percent of blind people who are employed have something in common: They can all read Braille.

Even though these sound like large numbers, the blind community is relatively small. And, unfortunately assistive devices for the blind are pricey, since there is not a high demand. In addition, braille displays have not changed much throughout the last thirty years.

These women wanted to create something that would be life changing for the blind community. In their brief time of research, they were astonished to learn how much braille devices cost, from /$3,500 up to $15,000. Their minds were set on making an affordable, life changing device for the blind community.

Now, over a year later, the women refer to themselves as Team Tactile. They are making strides with their invention in terms of accessibility. Tactile is proposed to be the size of a candy bar with 36 cells, and to sell for an estimated price of $100.00!

Here’s how it works:
*Slide the device over printed text (a book, menu, or even a packaging label).
*The camera captures images of the words and sends them to a microcontroller, which then performs text recognition.
*then that information, via an electromagnetic activation mechanism, moves the pins up and down at the top of the device, translating the text into Braille.
*The Braille characters physically refresh as they scroll through sections of text.

Team Tactile members are: Chandani Doshi, Jialin Shi, Bonnie Wang, Charlene Xia, Tania Yu and Grace Li.

These women are not only trying to help the blind community but they want to be an inspiration for young girls. Their message is if you are interested in engineering or science, go for it!

Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. If you would like to contact me, do so at my email address located above. Keep safe, and I’ll will speak with you again in July!

Make Your Money Work

By Munawar Bijani

By now we’ve done all the hard work in terms of credit such as calculating interest payment and having that totally awkward conversation that goes something like “My child needs a credit card!” “Ok, but don’t help them!” “Why?” “Because…because…because…well, they could get you into a lot of trouble!”

So, what’s next? Well, there’s one more thing you have to be aware of when it comes to credit cards, and that’s “hidden” fees. A hidden fee is when you get charged a fee and weren’t aware of the fee’s existence. For example, you could call a convenience fee a hidden fee, if it wasn’t made clear to you that you’d be paying this fee until it’s too late.

Creditors LOVE hidden fees! They’re depending on you to not read the credit agreement and just click “I agree.” But if there’s one agreement you should read, it’s the agreement the credit card company makes you sign before they give you a credit card. In the agreement, you’ll be told about every fee they could potentially charge you. We’ll discuss a few of them here.

The first fee you should be aware of is the late payment fee. If you miss a payment, three things will happen: First, you’ll get charged for missing that payment. Second, your creditor will report to the credit bureaus that you’ve missed a payment. Finally, depending on your payment agreement, the creditor might hike your interest rate. So, instead of paying 13.2% APR, you’ll now pay 29.99% APR. And, yes, they’re within their legal rights to do all three things, so don’t miss a payment!

The next fee to be aware of is the “over limit” fee. Some creditors allow you to draw over your limit without rejecting the charge. For example, if you currently have a balance of $1,000 on your card and your credit line is $1,000, the logical thing that should happen is that the next time you charge something, it will be declined by the credit card company, correct? Be aware that in many cases this is not true; they’ll happily let the payment process, and then charge you an over limit fee. This is a fee you pay for every charge over your credit line. Now, eventually they will decline payments, but they give you some “breathing room” before they freeze your card.

By now you’re going “Ok, this makes sense. I’m late, I get punished. I overdraw, I get punished. Fair enough.” Aha! But all is not logical in the credit world! The final fee I want to bring to your attention is the annual fee. The annual fee is a fee you get charged to…wait for it…keep waiting…wait a little longer…keep the card open! Yes– you get charged just for holding the card! If there’s anything you must pay attention to, it’s this final fee. Some credit cards have an “annual fee” listed. As soon as you open a card with an annual fee and your first-year elapses, you’ll see a fee charged to your account. And every year after that, you’ll see the fee reappear. They’re taking money from you because they granted you the right to borrow money if you need it!

Also, with annual fees, you get charged the fee whether or not you use the card in a given year. Remember back to last month where we did all those fancy calculations and came up with how much we’ll pay in interest at the end of the month, and concluded that if you pay off your balance, the interest charge is $0? Well, that’s not the case here. The annual fee is a flat fee which you pay whether you like it or not, and it has no formula where if you work the numbers right, the fee will go down. Nope. If you have an annual fee, you’re stuck with it until you close your credit card.

So, don’t ever open a card with an annual fee! There are plenty of cards to choose from, and though the creditors might make it seem like their cards with the annual fees are the best ones to have, chances are they’re not the best ones to have. You can find many cards with no annual fees. Filter your search to only show you cards with no annual fees and you’ll be good to go!

In essence, the smart card shopper looks for no annual fees, a low interest rate, and (though it’s pushing it a little) a card that declines any further transactions if you’re over the limit and doesn’t charge you over-limit fees. Of course, you shouldn’t go over your limit in the first place… “But Munawar, the significant others and things…you know…” Yeah yeah. I get it. Impress them all you want, but if you’re trying to get money out of them, the best way to do it is to swipe your card and fake-panic when the message “DECLINED” flashes across the terminal. (No no, don’t really use that as your tactic, okay? This is a financial series, not a “How to con your significant other” series.)

We discussed some fees with credit cards and how to avoid them. We also specified how to be smart when shopping for a credit card. Next month, we’ll review everything we’ve talked about since there’s been so much information, and then we’ll bring this series to a close.

If you have any comments on this article, you can Email me at my address above.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

Hello again to all crafters,
Building on the theme for last month, I again share a craft that may be classified by some as a camp craft. However, this little project can be done at any time by anyone, for fun outdoors or indoors on a rainy afternoon.

It is a simple yarn craft that involves two people and a little teamwork. It is one of the easiest ways to create friendship bracelets, necklaces or key chains using only some leftover yarn.

You will need:
Yarn (one or more colors of any texture, weight or thickness)

Step 1: First, choose three colors of yarn.
Step 2: Cut the yarn strands to the same length. A general rule of thumb is to start with yarn three times as long as you want your finished necklace or bracelet to be. Remember, once it’s done you can always go shorter, but you can’t go longer!
Step 3: Now this is where you will need the help of a friend. Each of you take an end of the yarn trio. Back up until the yarn is taut.
Step 4: Now start twisting, each of you in the opposite direction of the other (one twists to their right, the other to their left). Keep twisting until the whole piece is so twisted, it’ll start bunching up if you don’t stop.
Step 5: Keeping hold of the ends, start walking toward each other. Grab the length of yarn at more or less the midpoint and hand your end to your friend.
Step 6: Pull taut and then let go of your end of the yarn. The yarn will start to twist around itself, creating a lovely braided cord. Let it twist all the way up.
Step 7: Smooth out the yarn twist a little if necessary.
Step 8: Tie off the loose ends and then tie around your neck or arm.
Step 9: If it’s too long, tie a knot at the place you want it to end, then cut above that knot.

Apart from creating simple bracelets or necklaces, twisted strands can be used as hair ties, for yarn art, to embellish gifts, belts, key chains, ties for knitted items and more.

Until next time, best wishes and happy crafting!


Spencer’s Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

Hi folks,
well, back to the techy stuff. I attended our last I Access meeting a couple of weeks ago and part of the meeting consist of a show and tell session. This is when we all take turns asking a question, sharing a tip or trick, or showing off a new gadget or toy we have acquired.

This brings me to the spotlight gadget of the month. it is a taDaaaa, an Omoton Bluetooth keyboard. I hear you, what’s ALL THE FUSS? Well, this keyboard is lightweight, sexy, slim and has a tactile on off switch. There is also a pairing button you can actually feel. It works well with iDevices and will pair up with other devices as well. Another thing I especially like is that it takes 2 triple A batteries as opposed to having to be recharged.

So, I can still hear you muttering, well, big deal, and that brings me to the big deal. Yes, it is a big deal, the price is what I call a deal! On Amazon, it has a $13.99 price tag. I couldn’t pass on a deal like that so I ordered one for myself and have since ordered a few more to give as gifts. I highly recommend it!

I have had other keyboards, but found it difficult to turn them on and off. However, with this one I just push the switch on and off. I love this keyboard!

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan

First of all, I’d like to thank Karen, aka, Madam Editor, for helping out with last time’s column. It was a good idea and I’m appreciative of her thinking of it.

What I’d like to do is to expand just a little on what she wrote. In addition to sorting one’s Favorites in Internet Explorer, there is an additional way to group one’s Bookmarks.

What I’m talking about is using folders. This is really no different than using them anywhere else to group like items. For example, you can group together a particular Author’s books, in order to make it a little less cumbersome than looking at a long list and choosing what you want.

It’s a very simple procedure to add a folder. You simply choose Add Folder from the Favorites menu and then type in the name. After that, you can use Organize Favorites, from the same Favorites menu, to cut and paste Bookmarks into the appropriate place. Although Internet Explorer uses the term, and menu choice, Favorites, the Correct term, which Firefox uses, by the way, is BookMarks. I’m not sure why they’re called that but the term is correct.

Perhaps Microsoft just didn’t want to step on any Copyright toes or get sued again, like Apple tried to do back in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s or, maybe, they thought it would make things easier for users; I don’t know. In any case, they really are correctly termed Bookmarks.

I would recommend, when you’re finished, to sort the entries as Karen described last time so that things will be in the right order instead of the order in which they were entered.

After you’re done with this, when you access The Favorites Menu, just choose the folder in question and it will show a sub-menu of the Bookmarks in it. I would, however, suggest that you use folders when you have 2 or more items of like type. For example, I have a folder set up for Amazon that has the main Amazon site, the Screen Reader version, and Amazon Smile in it. Because you can get to a folder or Bookmark by hitting the first letter, I just hit the letter A and then using the arrow keys select the one I want.

It’s up to you how you group things together. I would recommend trying to be as unique as possible when choosing folder names so that it doesn’t get confusing later.

Just for thoroughness’ sake, there is one other way to add folders, edit Bookmarks, and place already set up Bookmarks in folders. You can use the Windows Explorer. Under the Folder Documents and Settings, there is a folder that has all the defaults you use in Windows. This folder may be “All Users”, “Default User”, or whatever name you log in with when starting Windows. On my computer, it’s my first name. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I enter the Windows Explorer it goes to the Start menu folder and I then just have to Up-Arrow a few times to get to the correct folder. Under the folder where your defaults are, is a folder called “Favorites”. In this folder are ALL your Bookmarks and any folders you’ve set up. Just as with any other files, you can rename, cut and paste, edit and delete, etc. I find this easier to do if I’m moving a bunch of files around or renaming some things.

As with everything else, it’s up to you which way to go about it; there’s no one right way. However, I would recommend, as I did above, that you do a Sort when you’re done so that things will be where you expect them to be.

Anyway, my thanks again to Karen and I hope you found this “expansion” helpful. Should you have further questions about this or general questions, please feel free to E-mail me at my address above. I will always reply to a message, even if it’s to say that I don’t know the answer.
Happy Computing!

The Rotating Trio: the WindBag

By Blowhard
Don’t Cook in the Kitchen

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that summer is here in the United States. So is the hot weather. Cooking will heat up the kitchen, which is connected to the rest of the house, thus, cooking in the kitchen might give you a hot house. Here’s how to almost cure the problem. Ever tried grilling or barbecuing?

And yes, those moving on to winter in the southern hemisphere can also barbecue. I know people in the cold northeast that barbecue all winter long. Just as long as you clear the area and keep your grill and area clean and safe., you can do it.

The term “barbecue” comes from a French word that means to cook slowly. It has become synonymous with outdoor cooking in America. Not many utensils are needed, either. When cooking outdoors, you should have a set of tongs or a hinged double spatula for turning food, a set of oven mitts if you have to handle hot foods, and be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy for safety. Of course, keep the barbecue, smoker, or grill away from grass or shrubbery that can catch fire. A patio is great for a grilling area, as long as it is away from the house. Backyard barbecues for family, friends, and or neighbors is great summer fun.

Grills come in all varieties, sizes, and prices. An indoor electric grill, such as a George Forman, cooks both sides of the food at the same time, so no flipping of the food is necessary. Some have temperature controls that are either the turning of a knob or digital temperature controls that beep as you raise or lower the setting. Some have timers. Some have larger cooking areas. The prices range from about 40 dollars up to a few hundred, depending on what you want. These have a nonstick coating, and take about 5 minutes to reach the desired temperature. They are great for blind people to use and don’t heat up the kitchen all that much.

You can get grills that use a bottle of propane that range from about 50 dollars to over 1,000 dollars, again, depending on the desired features. Some are tabletop models, while others are like the stove in your kitchen. They have 4 stovetop burners, a conventional oven, and a smoker. Some can be used at tailgate parties. These commercial units are towed behind your vehicle. For home use, if you don’t want to risk running out of fuel in the middle of your cooking, you can hook them directly to a gas main. The advantage of a gas grill is that it reaches the desired heat very quickly, just as your stovetop does. They also lose the heat just as quickly when you shut them off. The temperature is set just as on your conventional gas stove.

A charcoal grill gives that great “outdoor flavor” that a lot of people associate with barbecue. Lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes used to be a problem for blind people. However, they are much easier to use than they used to be. You can get bags of charcoal that you just put into the charcoal bin, unopened, light the bag, then wait until the desired heat is achieved. The temperature is controlled by opening or closing vents that allow or restrict the air flow to the fire. It does take a while for the charcoal to be ready to use, so keep this in mind. Again, these range in price from a 30-dollar tabletop model to commercial units that can cost over 600 dollars. Smokers that use charcoal are also available.

When using a smoker, different wood chunks will give your food a different flavor. For example, apple wood gives a lighter and sweeter smoke flavor, while mesquite or hickory will give a heavier, more smoky taste. Also, if you use large chunks of wood, they will burn longer than wood chips. Chips burn quickly and produce smoke quickly. They are good for smoking steaks, hotdogs, or any meat that will only be in the smoker or on the grill for a very short time. Use large wood chunks or blocks when smoking hams, pork shoulder, brisket or other large pieces of meat for hours.

Finally, outdoor electric grills can range from about 40 dollars on up. These include smokers. They reach the desired temperature within about 15 minutes, and, in my opinion, are the best choice for a blind person. Sometimes, there is no temperature setting. Just plug it in and wait. If you are using a smoker, there is no need to turn the food. There is nothing better than a home smoked ham, and I have been known to smoke about 30 pounds of boneless hams within about 4 hours. Then I cut them with an electric meat slicer and store in ziplock bags in the freezer. Also, I can, in about 15 minutes, grill or smoke, within an hour, 60 Polish sausages or hotdogs at once for a Church cookout during the summer.

So, check at places like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, even Sam’s Club, or a business especially for getting barbecue equipment and advice. Get a grill or barbecue, and keep the kitchen cool and the taste buds happy this summer!

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

I have a friend who enjoys eating Risotto, and many different types. So, I thought I give it a try. I found out that there are in fact quite a variety of Risotto recipes out there. So, I experimented with some, and came up with the recipe below. I hope you like it!

Lemony Shrimp Risotto
Yield: 4 servings

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large clove garlic, smashed, peeled, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (about 6 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
Zest of 1 large lemon
3 cups arugula

*Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat
*Add the shrimp and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes
*Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the shrimp and juices to a bowl to cool
*Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan
*Add the onions. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes
*Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds
*Add the rice and stir until well coated and translucent in spots, about 2 minutes
*Add the wine, cook until the wine is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes
*Add the broth, lemon juice, zest, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
*Increase the heat and bring to a boil, stirring often
*Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the rice is just tender but still has some bite, and the risotto is creamy, stirring often, 13 to 14 minutes
*Mix in the arugula, and stir until the arugula wilts, about 30 seconds
*Add the shrimp. Mix in additional broth if needed, 1/4 cup at a time, until the risotto is creamy
*Spoon the risotto into 4 shallow soup bowls and serve!

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, with some adaptations.

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


What loses its head in the morning but gets it back at night?

Answer to May’s riddle
No sooner spoken than broken…what is it?

Brain Buster

Sign Language
Imagine a neon sign with the word restaurant lit up. However, some of the letters are burnt out. So the remaining letters in order, but not necessarily consecutively spell everyday words. Answer the following clues for these words.
Example: Beginning: Start

*Payment to a landlord:
*Gone with the Wind plantation:
*Small pie:
*Talk loudly and angrily:
*Make, as money:
*To hinder the normal growth or progress:
*It’s observed from an observatory:
*Tease cruelly:
*Jacob’s twin in the bible:
*Brand of plastic wrap:
*Smallest of the litter:

Answers to May’s Brain Busters
What two article of apparel have names that are anagrams of each other? Hint: the items in part, cover the same part of the body.

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