Welcome to The Blind Perspective

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February 2018
Volume 4 Issue 2

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
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
Spencer’s Spotlight
Computer Tech101
A Time to Plant
Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
the Rotating Trio: Potpourri
Readers Perspective
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster
Letter to the Editor

Navigation

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Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Hello readers!
I hope the beginning of 2018 is going well for you. I have to once again praise all of the writers for The Blind Perspective Newsletter for their wonderful articles this month.

The segment, Seeing the World Differently, by Lois Strachan debuts below. Please email the authors and let them know what you think about their articles, or send in your suggestions, comments, and questions.

We received a great deal of feedback regarding our dining out situation in our newly added segment, Reader’s Perspective. We have posed another situation for you to send in your personal experiences and comments. If you have a question or situation to pose to the readers please email them as well.

At A Glance: Canasstech, Harbolt Company, Malaysia, Stability Ball, Comfort, Jeremy, Towels, Memories, Icons, Plant Needs, Why travel, plastic, Dining Out & Disclosure, Breads, Riddle, Brain Buster, & Letter!

Sponsor of the Month

Canadian Assistive Technology, New Company Old Friends

Canadian Assistive Technology is Canada’s newest assistive technology company, featuring products from Ablenet, Accessibyte, Dancing Dots, Dolphin, Duxbury, Enhanced Vision Systems, Eschenbach, Hartgen, HIMS, Humanware, IRTI, KNFB, LVI, OrCam and VFO as well as computers and computer peripherals.

Although the company is new, the principal staff is not. Steve Barclay and Ryan Fleury have a combined 48 man-years of experience in assistive technology.

We back everything we sell with a lifetime toll-free support line to help you when help is needed.

Steve and Ryan are only a phone call or email away. Contact us at 1-844-795-8324 or email us at: Steve@canasstech.com

Ryan@canasstech.com

Visit our website at: www.canasstech.com

New products are being added to the website daily as we continue to build our online presence.
We also partner with Rick Chant at Chaos Technical Services to provide in-Canada service for much of the hardware we sell.
Join us as we work to build the most responsive and progressive assistive technology company in the country!
Mention this ad and get 5% off your next assistive technology purchase.
Also check out our Gently Used Equipment marketplace online at: https://canasstech.com/collections

This is a place where people can list their used equipment and find great deals on used and demo equipment. If you have something you’d like to sell, please contact us to have it added to the site.

Movers & Shakers

Harbolt Company
By Karen Santiago
Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Harbolt of the Harbolt Company. This business was created in 2014 by the Harbolt family. Currently, Brent is the CEO, and manages just about all aspects of the business.

Initially Brent was selling a variety of items to other people on the side, just for fun. Then, as more and more people began to ask Brent to find or get them something, things started to snowball. Brent decided to create the Harbolt company in order to offer items and special products at great prices to the public.

Brent, a blind individual himself, started the business with the intent to be for both the sighted and visually impaired community. Sighted individuals can visit the website and see pictures of all the products that are available. However, about 99 percent of his customers are visually impaired. Brent does not focus on blind specific items. He takes everyday items, makes sure that they are all accessible, and then post them on the website.

A wonderful feature that Brent has, and receives positive feedback for is his recordings. Brent is very proud to offer recorded audio descriptions for all items that he has for sale. These audio recordings are placed on the web site for listening at one’s convenience. They can also be downloaded to a computer in order to have them so you can come back later and listen.

I met Brent at a convention last summer. This is just one of his ways of introducing the public to the variety of products they carry. Their products can also be viewed via Facebook, the website and through an email newsletter that you can sign up for directly on the web site. They do not have a catalogue as their products are constantly changing.

The items that The Harbolt Company offers are affordable because they do not pay retail. Therefore, they pass the savings on to their customers. They accept most major credit cards, PayPal, and phone orders. Also offered is a layaway option with no fees if paid in full in thirty days. How nice!

For those living in the continental United States there is a flat shipping rate of seven dollars for the first item, and an additional three dollar shipping rate for each additional item within the order. The Harbolt Company ships to Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and many other countries as well.

Brent purchases products from suppliers that he has built relationships with over the years. Brent has a product request form on the website for customers looking for specific items. All one needs to do is complete the form, and Brent will look for it. If he finds it, he will contact the customer and discuss the details and whether or not to purchase it for them. He has some longtime customers that continually are looking for certain items that they want or collect, and Brent will search for them.

The Harbolt Company carries many electronic products, and a variety of other items. Brent says the best thing to do is check the website weekly since the inventory changes so often. Many items are limited in the quantity available. They even have an “only one left” category, so if you want it, better grab it quick!

There are some items that they do continue to keep in stock. For example, the 15,000 mAh accessible portable battery and the reversible micro USB cable. The battery charger can give you nearly seven charges for your iPhone before you need to recharge the battery itself. This battery gives you tones and vibrations to inform you of how much battery is left. It has two reversible USB ports, allowing you to charge two devices at the same time. When the battery starts to run low it will begin to beep. The cost for this product is 89 dollars and 99 cents plus shipping. The reversible micro USB cable is very convenient since it does not matter which way you plug it in, either way will work! The same holds true for the USB side, either way will work. This cable comes in two sizes; 4-foot for 16 dollars and 99 cents, and 6-foot for 21 dollars and 99 cents plus shipping.

The Harbolt Company has a newsletter list which you can subscribe to via their website. Once signed up, you will receive a daily email that will include featured deals of the day at a special price. Those on this list, now at 500, will also receive announcements of new products, featured deals for the day, new features to the website, and any contest that they may be running.

Brent is offering our readers five dollars off their first purchase using coupon code movers5, and this is good until April 1, 2018!

Contact:
Website:
HarboltCompany.com

Email:
Sales@HarboltCompany.com

Phone number:
(405) 633-2572

International Perspective

Malaysia
By Karen Santiago as told by Chee Chau
Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com

A bit about Malaysia:
Malaysia is a multicultural country located in southeast Asia. Its borders are Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, & Brunei.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. In comparison, its size is a bit larger than New Mexico. The population of Malaysia is estimated at 30.3 million. The official language is Malay, however, English is taught in the schools, and is often used as the business language.

There are coastal plains that rise up to hills and mountains. The climate is tropical and rainy. Tourism is popular, as visitors engage in hiking, scuba diving, and relaxing on the many beaches. A must see site is Petronas twin towers (1483 feet), the tallest twin skyscraper in the world. These buildings are joined together by a sky bridge at levels 41, which is 558 feet off the ground. The world’s largest cave chamber, by area is in Gunung Mulu National Park.

School:
In 1953 Princess Elizabeth opened the first residential school for the blind in Johor Bahru, simply called Princess Elizabeth. Students attended this school from grade one through grade 6, to receive their primary education. Basic braille was taught here, however, mobility was not. Students just had to feel their way around.
As for recreation activities, there was a school band, and some sports played. However, these two areas did not provide any formal training. Chee joined the school band playing the keyboard. He stated that it was like a free for all, if you wanted to play, you could, but there were no proper instructions.
Chee attended his secondary education at an integrated public school. It wasn’t until seventh grade when he received his first cane. However, mobility instructors were scarce and Chee learned to navigate the school mainly through his peers.
Braille textbooks were not common while Chee attended his secondary education. He had to rely on his brailled notes, and the occasional audio cassette with class information. Chee said when he was in his final year of secondary education, only two of his 9 courses had the textbooks in braille. He was quite unhappy and discouraged with the shortage of accessible braille textbooks. He created three course braille textbooks based on the notes he compiled. Therefore, the next blind student could have five accessible textbooks, as opposed to just two.
After secondary school, many blind students are encouraged to attend the training center. Here, students are basically told what to do, whether to be trained as a massage therapist or a phone operator. Chee went on to say that he has heard firsthand accounts that the training is less than adequate.

University:
Chee wanted to continue to study, and in the field of music. While attending a college fair he applied to a local college. He was accepted, however, when he informed them that he was blind, the college withdrew his application based on not being able to accommodate his needs.
That however, did not stop Chee. He applied at a college in Singapore, and there too, they never had a blind student attend. But, this college was willing to give Chee a 6 month trial period. I am happy to say that things did work out, and Chee received a degree in music.

Technology:
There is very little assistance with accessible technology for the blind. Blind students may receive their first version of Jaws, but with little training. Any subsequent upgrade is the individual’s responsibility. Chee added that the process of upgrading is very time consuming, and not as easy as one would think.
Blind individuals can receive the white cane at a reduced cost, or free.

Accessibility
Transportation:
Blind people can receive discounted rates on transportation. However, it depends on which company one uses. Discounts range from 30 percent to 50 percent off. There is no reduced fare if using the cab service.
There are audible announcements on trains, although they can be very long, hard to hear, or not enough information is given.
There are some volunteer organizations that will provide free transportation for the blind. This service is limited, as it is based on the number of volunteers and their availability.

Walking:
There are very little walking accessibility features in Malaysia. Only in a few areas are there curb cuts and guide tracks (tactile strips), and these are not always positioned correctly. Audible pedestrian signals have been placed by blind organizations, and where the population of blind people is thought to be numerous.

Braille:
The only places where braille is seen is on restroom doors and in lifts (elevators).

Guide Dogs:
There are no guide dog schools in Malaysia. There are only three malls, of many that will permit dogs inside. Access to public buildings is not currently a law in Malaysia. Although one can have a guide dog in Malaysia, it is very difficult due to limited access.

Reading service:
Malaysia does have a reading service but it has a limited supply of materials and is very slow. Individuals can request a braille book or talking book, but it can take quite some time before receiving it. One can ask that a document be read and recorded for them. However, the process is so slow that by the time it is done, you probably don’t need it.

Benefits:
If one is disabled and meets the income guidelines, then a monthly check is granted. Chee added that the monetary value is not much.

Blind Organizations:
Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) mission is to empower persons with visual impairment by providing them with services & opportunities for greater participation, involvement and integration into society as well as to promote prevention of blindness.
Some of the services they provide include:
*Vocational Training: provide rehabilitation & vocational training.
*Counseling
*Orientation and Mobility
*Resource centre for information technology *Training in adaptive equipment / devices
*Sports & Recreation: to organize and provide sporting events and recreational activities for the visually impaired.

National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM): objectives include the introduction and progressive improvement of policies and implementation of services governing the education, rehabilitation, employment, and general welfare of the blind and the prevention of blindness in Malaysia.

Final thoughts:
Chee believes two important things need to happen, and they go hand in hand. First, the blind community in Malaysia needs to advocate more for themselves. This means asking for assistance when needed; don’t assume sighted people know what you need or don’t need. Secondly, he feels that blind instructors need to be more educated in teaching and working with the blind community. These instructors need to make appropriate recommendations, suggestions, and prepare blind individuals with the skills and tools they need for home and work. One more thing chee added is educating the sighted society. Let them know such things as blind people can do things, don’t automatically feel sorry for them, and most importantly, treat the blind equally.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely
Dan@TheBlindPerspective.com

Welcome back to Exercise Does A Body Good. This month I am focusing on Stability Ball Training.
What is stability ball training?
The stability ball (also called an exercise ball, Swiss ball, or physioball) is a simple yet versatile piece of training equipment that you can use to train your whole body with fun and innovative moves. Stability ball training is effective in building balance, stability, and pillar strength. I love working with my stability ball, I incorporate the exercise ball with circuit training and planking. I will cover the basic chest, back, legs, and abdomen strengthening exercises.

For the chest, you can do push ups, and there are 2 ways to perform them with the stability ball:
First, both hands on the ball shoulder width apart and feet placed on the floor hips width apart.
Secondly, is the reverse position, feet on the ball and hands on the floor.

For the back, you can do the superman exercise:
Lean on the ball with your abdomen, and lift both hands and feet simultaneously, and hold for a count of 1 or 2. This requires balance and practice, good luck with it.

For lower back and legs:
Straight Leg Bridging:
Lie on the floor with feet on the ball and legs straight, then lift your butt off the floor. Go back down to the floor, and repeat.

Bent Knee Bridging:
Lie on the floor, feet on the ball, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and lift your butt off the floor. Lower your butt back down to the ground and repeat.

Leg Curls:
Lie on the floor, feet on the ball with legs straight, and butt up in the air. Bending your knees, roll the ball until your knees are at 90 degrees. Roll the ball back to the beginning position, and repeat.
For the ladies who want buns of steel, I recommend 15 reps of straight leg bridging, 15 reps of bent knees bridging, and 15 reps of leg curls, in a row until you reach 45 reps.

Abdomen exercise: There are so many ways to work your abdomen, such as crunches, full sit ups, and planking.
Crunch Sit up:
Start with feet on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees, back lying on the ball, and hands behind head, or crossed over your chest. Curl your head and shoulders off the ball until you feel a contraction in your abdomen. Then return to the starting position and repeat.

Full Sit Up:
Begin in the same starting position as the crunch sit up. Curl up until you are in a sitting position on the ball. Curl backdown to the starting position, and repeat.

Planking; can be done two ways:
1. Start with feet on the ball and hands on the floor, then plank.
2. Start with hands on the ball and feet on the floor, and plank.
Remember there are 2 forms of planking; push up or forearm.

I could go on and on about what exercises you can do with a swiss ball, but my editor will kill me. Editor’s note: Just the opposite, you have convinced me to purchase one. Therefore, I need more stability ball exercises!

If you want to develop core strength and balance then a stability ball is the way to go. I recommend wearing sneakers when exercising with a stability ball.
If you decide to get an exercise ball, what size should you get?
45-cm ball if you are between 4 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet tall.
55-cm ball if you are between 5 feet to 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
65-cm ball if you are between 5 feet, 6 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches tall.
If your height exceeds 6 feet, 2 inches tall, opt for a 75-cm ball

If you have any questions or comments about stability balls, send me an email. You can find stability balls on Amazon, PerformBetter.com, and other online stores. Depending on the size and durability, the stability balls can range from 28 dollars to 50 dollars.

Health Tip:
With winter here in America, Canada, and other parts of the world, there is snow. And with that comes, shoveling to do!
Here are some things to do to avoid injuring your back and shoulders.
*Warm up before shoveling.
*Keep your knees slightly bent.
*Lift the snow with your legs and hips.
*Never twist your back when throwing the snow off the shovel.
*Keep one hand near the blade of the shovel and the other near the handle.
*Lastly, buy an ergonomic shovel.
Some shovels are adjustable and some have a curve built in the handle.
Editor’s note: My dear friend Cheryl (from Florida) sent me the best shovel ever. It actually has two handles, creating less pressure on my back and shoulders!
Happy shoveling!
Until next time, exercise does a body good!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton
CarlaJo@TheBlindPerspective.com

Hello book lovers,
I find myself in a bit of a pickle this month. I haven’t read anything of particular note lately and so I want to write about comfort books. It is cold here in Northeast Texas and I’ve been in a bit of a funky mood. I want to snuggle in with an old friend, several old friends, books, comfort books.

I automatically went to the Harry Potter books written by J. K. Rowling, The Chronicles of Saint Mary’s by Jodi Taylor and The Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon for my comfort books.

I asked several friends what their go to books are and now I have some new books on my to be read list. Here are just a few of the great comments I received;
The Mitford series by Jan Karon
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Hope was Here by Joan Bauer
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. 1
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
The Sweet Potato Queen books by Jill Conner Browne
The Lord of the Rings books by J. R. R. Tolkien
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Thrush Green books by Miss Read
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

my go to read is the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, makes me laugh every time, especially if I'm glum or depressed.

Harold Robbins
John Grisham,
Lisa Scottilini,
any book written about the life and times of Jackie Kennedy.
Lucas Davenport
Virgil Flowers
Jack Reacher
Joe Grey
Homemade mac and cheese and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There's no place like home

And to sum it all up perfectly, a note from my friend Victoria.
I don't think I would answer this way except just a couple of hours ago I said to myself that it felt so comfortable to be reading a John Sandford book. I love all his series and have been reading them since 1989. And, you know me, Carla, there are different kinds of comfort. Like mashed potatoes and gravy vs. pizza; a great detective story vs. a Christian novel.

Oh, how true, chocolate, pizza, Mary’s homemade mac and cheese and so many more comforts we run to in times of feeling low. What are your go to books? Or your comfort foods? I love to have an audio book going and get in my kitchen and cook.

Next month we’ll be back to our book reviews, there are so many great new releases right now!
Happy reading, Carla jo

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni
Nat@TheBlindPerspective.com

Happy February! Remember to send your special valentine if he or she is a braille reader, a love note in braille. I received some get-well cards not too long ago and it was such a heartwarming experience for me. I was in contact with a fellow blind person and as per usual I promoted The Blind Perspective and, the Braille Highway. After speaking several times, I asked Jeremy if he would be interested in filling out a little Q and A piece and, he agreed. So if you are interested in doing the same or have any future article suggestions feel free to email me at the address mentioned at the top of this segment.

Read on to see what Jeremy has to say.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
I currently reside in Surrey British Columbia but I was born in Ontario Canada. I lost most of my sight when I was 37 due to glaucoma. However, I still have some light perception in both eyes. I learned the basic grade one braille when I was 39. And, just about three years ago, at 42 I learned grade two braille through the (CNIB) The Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

Q: Did you learn UEB and if so when and where?
Yes, I took the Transitioning to Unified English Braille course from the Hadley Institute for the Blind, just last year.

Q: When you produce braille, what methods do you use?
For small jobs on the go, I use my slate and stylus. For quick notes or taking down phone numbers, I use my Perkins braille writer. If I am producing a large list or needing to braille out some instructions, I use my Versapoint embosser.

Q: When you read braille, what format do you prefer?
I usually read hard paper copies.

Q: Do you use braille at home and/ or work?
I use braille both at home and for work. I take phone messages for several real estate agents and relay them via email or text messages. I use my braille writer to take these messages, then I forward them appropriately.

Q: Give a detailed description of how braille impacts your life.
I am a labelling nut. I put braille labels on everything including my music and movie collections, even my wife's collections. All my external drives, clothing, important documents, and tools are labeled. I have important phone numbers, addresses, and passwords all written out in braille.
I seem to learn new tasks easier when I read the instructions in braille over and over again, rather than listening to it either with my speech on my computer or an audio copy of the instructions. At work, it is much easier to braille phone numbers, names, and messages, in order to relay accurate information to the appropriate agent.

Q: Do you notice braille within your city?
Yes, I live in an apartment building and the doors are appropriately brailled with apartment numbers. The elevators have the floor numbers and words such as open, close and alarm brailled out. In addition, each floor has a panel just outside the elevator with a raised number, and the floor number in braille.
Many restaurants we go to have braille menus. I have attended different public exhibits and they provide descriptions in braille.

Q: Do you have any braille games?
I have both regular playing cards and a deck of Uno playing cards. My Monopoly and Scrabble games are the braille versions. I have a tactile Backgammon game, and the instructions came in braille since it was purchased at the CNIB gift store. I also have many other games that I made accessible with some sighted assistance.

Q: As a braille user, what would you say to a blind person who does not know braille, in order for them to learn it?
It is an amazing thing to be able to decide you want to play a particular CD and you can find it all on your own. Same thing applies with knowing what colour shirt I have chosen to wear. It is mind blowing how many times there is no sighted help and I would wait until someone came home and that made me feel so helpless. I have the instructions on my oatmeal so that I can make it along with other simple foods. I also have the recipe for making rice crispy treats brailled out for the occasions when I have a craving for something sweet.
My self-confidents has greatly increased simply by learning braille. Learning braille will open up so many doors and so many opportunities for you. I am a firm believer that the more we know the more we are worth.

Q: Do you have any cute or novel story to relay that someone has done with braille.
My wife for my 40th birthday went on the internet and looked up the dot sequences to make braille letters. She glued little pebble sized noodles onto strips of paper with 2, 3, and 5 word messages. She placed these messages throughout the house, knowing I would find them. That really made my birthday extra special.

Q: do you have any final thoughts to share?
I really think that braille to a blind person is equivalent to print to a sighted person. Learning braille has truly opened many doors and has increased my self-confidents to a level that I never thought I would reach.
Thank you so much Jeremy for answering my questions!

Braille readers do it with feeling! Complement your life with braille. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life! Speak with you again in March.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe
Lindy@TheBlindPerspective.com

Welcome to all to another Kaleidoscope of Crafts!
Many people like to do crafts or DIY projects to solve some kind of problem they are having. Often it may be something small but that may be occurring on a daily basis.

Our craft for this month is an effort to solve just one such problem that most of us may have faced at one time or another: constantly finding kitchen towels on the floor where they have been deposited by inquisitive toddlers, mischievous dogs or cats, or careless humans passing by, or even worse, finding many more or less clean towels strewn all over the kitchen after someone has prepared a meal, instead of only one or two dirty towels you were expecting.

You've guessed it, the solution is the hanging, no slip, stay put kitchen towel. It turns out that there are quite a few options for how to turn these floating fabrics into pretty, practical helpers in the kitchen.

These include adding snaps, buttons, Velcro strips, fabric ties and the list goes on. I have experimented a little and have come up with two very simple versions for taming the traveling towels, the low sew and no sew methods. You can use both methods for a falling or wandering guest towel in the bathroom too. And, for both methods, instead of ribbon, you could use any other type of cord like silk, cotton or thin leather. Alternatively, add a personal touch with crocheted, braided or knitted ties or even cord.

Before describing the first method, I would like to encourage those who want to skip this part to consider trying it out. The sewing is minimal and will be hidden in any case, so if you have been wanting to try working with needle and thread, this may be your chance. If it is your first time trying, don't hesitate to ask for help. It is by no means easy to work with a needle and thin thread that keeps on slipping and sliding. There are various devices and techniques to work with needle and thread without the benefit of good eyesight, but this might be an article in itself for another time. Consider using embroidery thread that is thicker than ordinary thread.

For the first method, you will need:
1 rectangular kitchen towel
2 pieces of matching or contrasting ribbon or cord, each 20 inches or 50 cm long
Thread, embroidery thread or thin cotton yarn
Needle with an eye large enough to accommodate the thread you have chosen
Scissors
2 Safety pins

Instructions:
Step 1: Place your kitchen towel on a clean, flat surface with the short ends at the top and bottom and with the right side of the towel (if it has one) facing away from you.

Step 2: Fold up the bottom edge of the towel to meet the top. You will have a two-layered rectangle.

Step 3: Now, fold the top layer only of the towel back down to meet the bottom edge. You will now have three layers of fabric at the bottom and one layer making up the top part of the rectangle. The fold line you can feel running from left to right at the center of your fabric will be a guide for where you will sew on your ribbon or cord. Place a safety pin on the left and right of the towel, just below this fold line, through all three layers of fabric to keep the folded towel in place while you work.
Note that your ties will not be attached at the horizontal center of the towel, but more towards the top of the towel, so that, when it is hanging, most of the front of the towel will hang while the shorter part of the towel will be at the back of the rail. This ensures that a large part of the towel is available for use.

Step 4: Find the center of the first piece of ribbon and sew it to the left side of the towel, just above the fold line you created in Step 3 and just inside the side seam of the towel. You are sewing it to one layer of fabric only. Try to work as neat as possible, bringing the thread from behind the towel, catching the ribbon or cord in the process and pulling all the way through. Then insert the needle again as close to the previous stitch as possible and pull towards the back of the towel again. Do this a few times until you feel that the ribbon or cord is securely sewed to the towel.

Step 5: Repeat on the right side of your towel, also sewing on the second ribbon or cord just above the fold line as you did in the previous step. Try to make sure the two ties are placed straight across from each other as far as possible.

Step 6: Lastly, remove the two pins on the left and right side of the towel.

How to use:
Flip your towel over so the right, pretty side is facing you with the short ends at the top and bottom. The ties you have attached should be at the back and towards the top of the towel. Drape the towel over a rail or the oven handle, ensuring that the ribbon or cord hangs down at the back of the rail.

You now have two choices for tying your towel:
Wrap the ties around the towel, crossing them at the back and tie into a pretty bow at the front, or take the left piece and tie securely into a bow around the handle of the oven, repeating on the right side.

The first type of tie will gather the towel together just beneath the rail while the second way of tying will let the towel hang straight.

Now for the second method.
For those who want a quick fix, no sew solution, we will turn to one of those household items we often take for granted; the rubber band, or if, for some reason, you can't find one in your entire house, as often happens with these kinds of household items, a pipe cleaner or a clean hairband will do the trick just as well.

Drape your towel over the rail on the oven door so most of it is hanging in the front, with only about a third of the towel hanging at the back of the rail.
Gather both ends of the towel with one hand just below the rail and slip your rubber band around the towel with the other.
You could use a matching color if preferred, e.g. if your towel is white and red, a red rubber band or pipe cleaner should look pretty.
Alternatively, cover the rubber band with some ribbon or cord that matches or contrasts with the colors of your towel.
Tie the ribbon or cord into a nice bow and arrange the towel so it hangs straight. It is sure to stay put. When it is time for washing, simply remove your bow and rubber band and your towel is ready for washing.

Until next month, happy crafting to all!

Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer
Cheryl@TheBlindPerspective.com

This month's focus will be on your memories. Do you have a box or drawer or maybe even a trunk of cassettes stored away full of your music memories? Maybe like me you have family recordings of gatherings or special events you would like to preserve. Well, I have a boat load of cassettes in my closet just waiting for me to find a way of transferring the information into a modern format.

A few years ago, my husband had given me a cassette to SD card recorder. It works fine but is just a little complicated. So recently, a friend of mine had received one from her son. It is a small cassette to mp3 converter that runs off batteries, or can be powered via USB. That got me looking on my go to place for shopping. yes, you guessed it, Amazon. After all, if it is not on Amazon, it probably does not exist.

I must not be the only one wanting to convert my cassettes to mp3 format, because on Amazon there is a plethora of choices in the cassette to mp3 converters. The one I selected is the Feir Cassette converter. It is a portable mp3 stereo USB cassette digital tape music player to mp3 format with headphones, no pc required. The price at the time of this writing is 32 dollars and 99 cents, with free shipping for prime members. There are converters available that cost less, so you can select the one suited to your needs and your wallet.

This unit is pretty straightforward, place the cassette in, plug in a USB flash drive (capable to hold up to a 32gb flash drive), or you can even plug in a USB adapter to sd card and record on an sd card. Press the play and the recording begins. There are also controls located on the back of the unit to stop or pause the recording. Earbuds come with the unit but I prefer to use headphones for a better listening experience so, you can monitor the recording in real time. It is a pretty nice unit. I love the portability.

So, no more wondering if you are ever going to be able to listen to your old cassettes again, the solution is only a converter away. Enjoy your memories!

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan
Jim@TheBlindPerspective.com

What I thought I’d talk about is icons on the desktop versus other methods to launch programs; particularly if your screen reader or magnifier decides to shut down with little to no warning. I had a couple of instances recently where I went to use the computer and either there was no magnification/color inversion or no speech so that’s kind of what drove my thought process here.

When you install most programs, be it JAWS, ZoomText, MVDA, etc., the installation software, in most cases, puts an icon on your desktop. In addition to this, there is also “All Programs” on the Start menu as well as any programs you have “pinned” to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. In case you don’t know what the last thing I mentioned is, with Windows 7-64 bit and higher, you can “pin” any program to the taskbar at the bottom so that you simply need click on it once to launch the program. This could be Windows or Internet Explorer, the calculator from the Accessories menu, or, really, any programs you want. In case you are wondering what version of Windows you have you simply need go to the Control Panel, double-click on “System” and it will be there on the first screen.

The drawback to using either the Start menu or pinned programs is that it isn’t as easy to go directly to a particular program as the Icons on the Desktop, also “known” by some as the “Main screen” or “Startup screen”. Anyway, icons on the Desktop can be accessed by clicking somewhere on the Desktop screen and then typing the first letter of what you want. If there is more than one program with that first letter, it will cycle through them with each key press of the letter in question. For example, on my Desktop, I have Databases, which holds shortcuts to the various databases I use and Dropbox. So, if I hit the letter “D”, it first goes to “Databases” and then to “Dropbox” if I press the “D” again. As you can see, knowing your “position” on screen isn’t as necessary as the other two methods where you kind of need to know your starting position to know what sequence to hit the arrow and/or Tab keys in to get to where you want.

Keeping this in mind, if your screen reader or magnifier goes down, you can simply click on the Desktop and hit the first letter as many times as necessary to get to the program in question and then simply press Enter to run the program. I have Icons on my Desktop for JAWS and Zoomtext Fusion, as well as Zoomtext. So, I click on the Desktop and hit the letter “j” for JAWS and run it. After it Starts, I can then go back to the Desktop and press “Z” a couple of times to get to Zoomtext Fusion and have the benefit of the jaws speech to make sure I’m on the right icon. This saves a shutdown and restart and can be most helpful if it happens while you’re in the middle of something. However, if you know either the order the programs are pinned at the bottom or what key sequences are needed to use the Start menu, those are perfectly fine to use too; I’m just going for easy here.

Should you have any further questions about this or any other topic, please send me an E-mail and I’ll do my best to answer the question. I’d also dearly love some topic ideas. In Any case, Happy New Year to those who celebrate it and Happy Computing!

A Time To Plant

By Sue Brasel
Sue@TheBlindPerspective.com

What is needed to be able to grow plants? Decide what you would like to grow, then consider good locations for that type of plant.
Most vegetables need full sunlight. There are some plants that prefer shade. Some plants, such as elephant ears, appear different depending on whether they grow in the sun (black leaves) or in the shade (green leaves). Your plant might need some sun, some shade.

What space do you have for a garden? If you want plants in containers, think about where the containers will be placed. Containers can go on flat surfaces like patios or tables. Plants grow, so consider the size of a full-grown plant for your location. You may need to start a tiny plant in a small container, then repot it into a larger container later. Will it still fit in your desired location?

Do you want containers that hang? Will hooks need to be mounted to walls or ceilings? Make sure the wall/ceiling structure can handle the weight of your plant(s), the container(s), and water. If you are a renter, you may need to get permission to hang plants.

Do you want your plants growing indoors or outdoors? Plants freshen the environmental pollution in your house or apartment and may require artificial lighting. Outdoor plants can either grow in containers or be planted directly into the ground.

Do you have pets? Curious cats like to investigate places to dig. Dogs might want to chew plant greenery. Know whether your choice of plant(s) is safe for your animals.

Location is important for growing conditions like lighting and for the amount of space you can put plant(s) in. Consider their area such as on a flat surface, in the ground, or hanging in a container as they take up space! Outdoor plants do well in their native environment, but tender varieties may make good houseplants, especially in the winter. Houseplants may help purify the house atmosphere. Consider pet safety. There are many reasons to find an ideal location for your plant(s). You may think of some I did not even mention!

Now, it is “thyme” for me to get back to my garden!

The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently

By Lois Strachan
Lois@TheBlindPerspective.com

“You can’t see! Why on earth would you want to travel?”

I can’t tell you how often I’ve been asked that question since losing my sight 25 years ago. People, both sighted and visually impaired, often struggle to understand why I love travelling, let alone how it can be done.

In these articles, which will be published every second month, I’d like to answer some of the many questions about travelling as a blind or visually-impaired person, try to provide helpful ideas on how to overcome some of the more challenging aspects of getting out into the vast, wonderful wide world, and share a few of my personal travel stories. I’d also love to hear from you so please feel free to contact me with some of your questions or experiences of travel.

Which brings me back to my question, why should we, as blind and visually impaired people, move outside our comfort zones and head off to see the world in our own unique way? There are many reasons to travel, whether for business or pleasure, to spend time with family and friends, to experience new places, or revisit places that are meaningful to us as individuals. Just as our reasons may differ, so too may the tips and tricks we use when we travel, so let’s share some of our best practices to help make travel more fun for us all.

The main reasons I love travelling, both in my home country (South Africa) and overseas, are that I love the experience of immersing myself in different places and cultures using the senses I do have, hearing the sounds of different peoples, the scents and tastes of different foods from those I am normally exposed to, and gaining a sense of a place, whether it’s an ancient ruin in Athens, Greece, clambering around the Battleship New Jersey in Philadelphia, or feeling the vast expanse of the sky from the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. I learn new things every time I travel, not only about different cities and nations, but about my own sense of myself and my sense of independence.

I know travel isn’t for everyone but I hope my articles will empower a few people with not only the desire to travel but also some practical suggestions of how to do so.
Till next time… happy travels!

The Rotating Trio: Potpourri

BySuzy B
Suzy@TheBlindPerspective.com
As I belatedly put away my Christmas decorations, my dependency on plastic became apparent. My small Christmas tree and lit baskets are each covered with a garbage bag, sealed up, and ready for the next year. Making decorating and storage a cinch, yes, the cinch bags work best. These bags are the ones with the easy to use drawstring.

Then there are the plastic Zip Locs which are a must for me. The 1 gallon ones work well for such things as opened packages of bacon, head lettuce, and other veggies that need to be sealed up but easily accessible. If the package has been open, and no easy way of resealing is possible, Zip Loc to the rescue. Cookies, crackers, cereal or chips, yes it works. The chip clips which many people have and I seem to lose easily can be replaced with wooden clothes pins. No, I have no clothes line, but remember how ours worked. The pins are handy for many things, like closing packages and the bags inside the cereal and other boxes. Many dollar stores carry both the chip clips and packages of clothes pins.

Now, for another type of plastic, well, not really. I think plastic when thinking of gift cards, but this one is sent via email, that is the Uber Eats Gift Card. Recently we found this a way to help with one staying at the hospital with a family member. So, hopefully you can use this tip for someone when they are in another city or state and you have felt unable to help in any way.

this service enables you to have one, or more meals delivered to you from participating restaurants. You can also download their app from the app store or google play. You can find out more about this at their website: www.ubereats.com

Until next time, Happy New Year, and enjoy the Perks of Plastic.

Reader's Perspective

ReadersPerspective@The Blind Perspective.com

Thanks to all of those who replied to our dining out situation. Here are some of the responses we received.

Abbie from Wyoming writes:
“In a situation where a server asks a person I'm with what I want to eat, I would speak up, answering the question as if the server had asked me in the first place.”

Ann’s experience and comments:
The scenario you mentioned is one that has happened to me all my life, so here’s how I deal with it. Server: “What would she like?” Partner: “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask her.” Me, immediately: I put on my biggest smile and face the server. “I would like the grilled chicken plate, but first, I’d like a glass of iced tea and a glass of water.” “This usually breaks the cycle, but if she comes back and asks my partner again a question meant to address my desires, I just put that big old smile on and answer her. The smile is so important. This server is not an idiot, not mean or cruel, just uneducated in how to deal with blind guests. I need not make her feel bad, or feel stupid. My job is to kindly and firmly educate her, and to be consistent in how I deliver that education. I often tell the server my name so that when they come to the table they can call me by name so I know who they are talking to.”

Brian’s remarks:
“It's not a big deal for me sometimes I will let someone do this but other times I will say what I will have. If they are busy it's faster for one person to just give the server our orders then to each person give their own orders. The thing that is a bigger deal is when servers don't tell you when your food is there then they ask you how is your food.”

Here is Karen’s response:
If it is my husband and I, he turns to me and asks what I would like. I speak up then. If there are others present either as well or instead, I speak up and often just a little bit louder than normal and say what I would like. I do try to keep a friendly tone in my voice. Their ignorance is not a reason for me being disrespectful.

Tiffany’s reply:
“My answer won’t be the approved one, I’m sure, but tough cookies. I have found that no matter how many times you ask your family and friends not to answer back for you, they’ll do it anyway, so as not to make a scene. Grrr. The devil in me says “If what I say has to be translated so the waitress can understand it, I ought to answer in another language.” But the good girl in me always wins out. I look at the waitress, say what it is I want, and my friend or family translates anyway. Fortunately, I don’t go out much, and really don’t miss all that. I must say, when I was out computer shopping last month, I got lucky twice in a row and had clerks who spoke directly to me.”

Amy had this to say:
“I just say what I would like when they ask me. Usually, that does the trick. But, even if they continue to ask the sighted person, I just continue to answer for myself.”

This month’s question; When do you disclose your disability when job seeking? Please email your responses and experiences to the address above.

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine
Maxine@TheBlindPerspective.com

This recipe comes from my dear friend, Helen, whom I have known since high school. She now resides in Athens, Greece.
Traditional Greek Pita Bread
Makes: 8 pita rounds

Ingredients:
1 cup hot water but not boiling
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:
1. Mix the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer (a large bowl will also work if you do not have a mixer), and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
2. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil.
3. If using a stand mixer attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed for 8 minutes, adding more flour until you have a smooth dough.
4. If using your hands sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It's better to use too little flour than too much.
5. Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and brush it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it's doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
6. At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.
7. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk.
8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick. Lift and turn the dough frequently as you roll to make sure the dough isn't sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
9. Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Drizzle a little oil in the pan and wipe off the excess.
10. Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until bubbles start to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn't or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel.
11. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

Note:
These are best eaten fresh, but will keep in a ziplock bag for a few days or in the freezer.
you can use whole wheat flour, but the bread will be denser.

Reader, Agnes of Norway submitted the following recipe. This is a typical hearty Norwegian bread, with a crispy outer crust and a soft and moist inside.
Sunnmorsbrod
Makes: 3 loaves

Ingredients:
1 packet dry fast rising yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
5 cups lukewarm water
3 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup or light syrup
1 TBSP salt
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup rye flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
4 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. Pour the yeast, water, oil, sugar and maple syrup into a bowl of a stand mixer.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the rye and whole wheat flours, oats and salt and let sit for about 15 minutes. Then add the all-purpose flour.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and with a dough hook, start kneading the dough for about 10 minutes.
4. Pour the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface, divide in three equal pieces and roll out to loaves.
5. Place in three 2-quart loaf pans (or you can just place them in free form on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
6. Cover with a towel and place in a slightly warm area for about 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the top of the loaves with melted butter, and bake for about 45 minutes.
8. Let cool on a rack but not too long, because warm bread and butter is the BEST!

Note: You can freeze any loaves you do not eat.

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart
Alex@TheBlindPerspective.com

Riddle

Do rabbits use combs?

Answer to the January Riddle
What starts with “P” and ends with “E” and has more than 1000 letters?
Post Office

Brain Buster

Guys
Rearrange the letters in the word perpetual to form two boys names, one with five letters, and the other with four letters. What are they?

Answers to the January Brain Buster
Change one letter in each of the words below to come up with a name of a color.
*while: white
*veal: teal
*ember: amber
*blank: black
*blur: blue
*pine: pink
*moral: coral
*bellow: yellow
*blown: brown
*grange: orange
*tray: gray
*state: slate

Letter to the Editor

By Karen Santiago
Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com

Jeffrey's question posed last month was. "Could The Blind Perspective Newsletter be available in braille?" We received only a handful of replies in favor of the braille option. Since the demand is very low, we are going to put this issue on the back burner for now.
If you have any thoughts, opinions, or questions you would like to ask me, just send me an email to my address above.
Thanks, Karen

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