The Consumer Vision

            January/February 2012

Address: 359 Coggeshall St.:Street>, New Bedford:City>, MA:State>  02746:PostalCode>:address>

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Email Address: bobbranco93@gmail.com

Web Site: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

CD Production: Allen Hensel

CD Reader: Bob Zeida

Email Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Board of Directors: Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Bob Hachey, Allen Hensel and Alan Soule

*****

Table of Contents:

News From the Publisher

Red Light Means Danger

Coastline Elderly Nutrition News: Steps to a Heart-Healthier YOU!

Facing Challenges and Paddling for a Cause: A Series, Part II

Chris’s Untimely Death

Blind Versus Sighted Worlds, Action and Reaction

An Insult to Basketball Fans

The Greyhound: A Dog of a Way to Get Around

Ask Allen

Ask Robert

Notices From Our Readers

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

*****

            News From the Publisher

At this time, Consumer Vision has temporarily suspended the Braille, large-print, small-print, and cassette formats due to a lack of funding.  Though the magazine is being read throughout the United States, as well as overseas, there isn’t enough of a circulation to justify businesses making investments in advertising. Another problem is that we can not find the appropriate grant which fits Consumer Vision’s theme. The good news is that we are now working closely with a local magazine called “New Bedford Guide.” As a part of our cross promotion with that organization, we may receive several thousand new Consumer Vision subscribers, because New Bedford Guide has an additional data base through a web site, which they can use to refer people to Consumer Vision’s web site. If Consumer Vision has thousands of potential subscribers, advertisers may think twice about investing their money. Consumer Vision is always accepting donations. If you wish to contribute, please send your check to Consumer Vision, c/o Bob Branco, 359 Coggeshall St.:Street>, New Bedford:City>, MA:State>  02746:PostalCode>:address>.

In order to cover costs, I have figured out a way to resume the services I just mentioned, but would need cooperation from people who prefer those formats. We are going to charge $10 per issue, and $60 for the year. For those who wish to receive the magazine on cassette, being that we shuttle cassettes back and forth, and where there is a cost for recording and copying, I will charge a $5 fee per issue, and a $30 annual fee. I also need to raise the Braille fee from $6 to $10 per issue, so that we can cover the cost of Braille production.

We would like to make Consumer Vision as accessible to as many readers as possible, but with the costs facing us, I need to implement the plan I just explained. I would like to thank all of you who enjoy the magazine, and we hope that we will continue to provide you with information that is beneficial to all of us.

Recently, I met with Mike Sylvia, director of the online New Bedford Guide. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss my writing abilities, as I am looking for more writing jobs for pay. I brought some copies of the Consumer Vision for Mr. Sylvia to look at.

It looks like I will be writing for New Bedford Guide, while at the same time Mr. Sylvia will refer the members of his web site data base to Consumer Vision, which is on my own web site. There are potentially several thousand new Consumer Vision subscribers from his data base. I believe this deal works out for all concerned. I will even go so far as to put information about New Bedford Guide on the Consumer Vision web site, and I'm hoping that my web site designer, JS Web solutions, will allow me to promote their business through New Bedford Guide’s data base. So, in a sense, it's a three-prong cross promotion: JS Web Solutions, Consumer Vision, and New Bedford:City>:place> Guide, that is, if all parties are agreeable.

Our cook book, "What We Love to Eat," is now available in accessible formats, and sells for $10. Proceeds from the book will go to expand Consumer Vision's operations. The feature about this book that makes it different than the others is that all the recipes, like Yummy Microwave Fudge, Cheesy Cauliflower Bake, Easy Mushroom Omelet, and many other tried-and-true others, were submitted by blind people across the country. If you'd like to place your order, please email me at bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

Bob Branco  

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Red Light Means Danger

by John Justice  

Each time a visually impaired pedestrian takes to the street, he or she is trusting to the skill and experience which has been accumulated for years. Most sighted walkers don’t think about what might come out of an intersecting driveway or where the next crack in the sidewalk is located. But for the blind, a careless person can often become a danger to himself or to others. A guide dog will help since their canine instinct and training only adds to the blind traveler’s own skill. 

However, in recent years, each visually impaired person is playing in a rigged game. The odds against him or her worsen with each and every day. What is it that makes today’s driver think that red lights are for someone else, not him or her? Running a red light was something that was done only by accident or necessity until quite recently. The situation has become so bad that some cities have implemented “red light cameras” which take pictures of vehicles breaking the law and send traffic citations directly to the owner. But why now? What has happened to the inherent courtesy and care that we all used to count on? 

Our research tells us that there are several reasons for this dangerous change in the way people drive. The primary problem is traffic itself. There are many more vehicles on the road today than there were when the first guide dogs were trained and released. For the motorist, more traffic means a higher probability of being hit by another vehicle.  With the cost of car repairs today, it is no surprise that the driver will do anything within his power to “get there in one piece” and that means running red lights when the necessity arises. In fact, living our every-day lives requires a great deal more concentration and creates much more stress and tension. Today’s vehicles are faster and more powerful than those made even ten years ago. The recent development of “hybrid” vehicles adds an additional element of danger.  The cars are practically silent when operating at slower speeds. Even the tires used on cars and trucks of this type are designed to move over the pavement with very little road noise. As a result, a blind pedestrian waiting for a light to change might be struck down by a hybrid car which has violated driving regulations.  

Unfortunately, our ability as drivers has not grown with the improvement of the average car. The fact is that people take many more chances now than they have in the past. Drivers seem to think that they have charmed lives in which things happen to other people, not them. That same kind of feeling of entitlement shows its ugly head in the attitude of many drivers. “Let the other guy wait, I’m in a hurry!”  “I can run this light. There’s never anyone on that side street.” The expressions captured on driver’s faces when an accident does occur are almost comical in their intensity. “This isn’t supposed to happen to me! What went wrong? Can I put the blame on someone else?”

Traffic engineers have recently introduced a process which is supposed to eliminate clogging of vehicles at intersections where a red light stops cars in one direction. The driver, under set conditions, can continue through the red and turn right. The argument was that this would relieve the congestion and that vehicles moving into the opposing traffic could easily and quickly insert themselves into the flow. All of this is true as far as it goes but no one considers the pedestrian trying to cross that same street. If the person on foot happens to be blind, the difficulty is multiplied. Normally, a visually impaired walker is trained to listen to the traffic passing and to move with the vehicles traveling in the same direction as he is, or coming toward him. This was a safe and relatively simple approach until “right turn on red” was introduced. Now, no matter which corner he chooses, the blind traveler might be subjected to unexpected cars or trucks moving right into his supposedly safe walking area. He or she has no way to know when this will happen. In a situation like this, the hybrid vehicle becomes a silent menace. The laws in Pennsylvania:place>:State> clearly state that the pedestrian has the right of way in every case. But who would win an argument like that when the driver has several tons of equipment on his side? What’s more, the blind pedestrian can’t see the license number and won’t be able to report an infraction, which is the only way to deal with violations of this kind. If a policeman sees someone risking the life of a walking citizen by turning into him, a ticket can be written immediately. The charge is reckless driving and it carries a hefty fine. But how many times is that going to happen?  If you think the driver doesn’t realize that the person is blind or physically challenged, think again, dear reader. This “me first at all costs” generation will and often does take advantage of the person’s blindness. That same kind of individual will cut in front of a blind customer in a long line or speed up to make sure that he is served before the woman in a wheelchair can reach the counter.  For those who believe that this can’t happen, you must consider how society has changed in recent years. The observations used as examples are based on personal experience.

What can we do as blind pedestrians to protect ourselves against this menace? Whenever possible, avoid busy streets. If your state has the right-turn-on-red provision in its traffic ordinances, try to find a corner where that isn’t permitted. Most of all, be alert at all times. Courtesy on the road is dead. Don’t become another traffic statistic.       

John and Linda Justice

With guide dogs Jake and Zachary

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Coastline Elderly Nutrition News

            Kimberly Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN

            Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.

Steps to a Heart-Healthier YOU!

Most of us know that heart disease is the #1 killer in both men and women, but did you know that 80% of all heart disease is preventable?  That means there are daily lifestyle changes that can make a huge impact on your heart.

1.     Know your numbers!

–       Cholesterol - < 200 mg/dL

–       HDL—60 or higher mg/dL

–       LDL—under 100 mg/dL

•        Your triglycerides—under 150

•        Your blood pressure—Less than 120/80

•        Fasting blood glucose—less than 100 mg/dL

2.     Maintain a healthy weight

By losing even 5% of your body weight, you will improve your health and lower all of the levels mentioned in #1.

3.     Stay physically active

·        Do moderate-to-intense cardio 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week AND

·        Do 8-10 strength-training exercises, 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, twice/week

4.     Manage stress

·        Identify the stressor first

·        Do one thing at a time

·        Learn to take a break

·        Ask for help when you need it

5.     Do not smoke

6.     Do not drink alcohol excessively

Drinking more than three drinks/day has a detrimental effect on the heart

7.     Eat heart-healthy foods

·        Decrease calories if you need to lose weight

·        Limit trans- and saturated fat (dairy, meat, processed foods) and aim for healthy fats (fish, nuts, oil, etc.)

·        Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates (baked goods, white bread, etc.)

·        Decrease sodium and add foods with potassium (fruits & veggies)

·        Increase fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains)

Source: RD411.com and American Heart Association

Coastline Elderly Nutrition News

Contact me with any questions at (508) 999-6400 x194 or

email: ksferreira@coastlineelderly.org

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Facing Challenges and Paddling for a Cause: A Series, Part II

by Jose Tamayo  

I continue with my fight to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. My paddling event will continue. I am in the preparation stages and will be moving forward with an impressive 65 miles of paddling on the Peace River in Florida:State>, United States:country-region>:place>. The number 65 is a number that marks a tremendous achievement in the history of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; it marks the desire of a mother searching for support to find a cure for her three sons who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.   Mary G. Weiss was a volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Mary had three sons and in her desperation one night in 1965, she was writing letters to gain support to help researchers find a cure for CF. Her four-year-old son had overheard his mother make several calls. He was sure that he knew his mother was working for 65 Roses; the mother was struck by a wave of emotions as she hugged her son and told him that, “Yes, I am working for 65 Roses.” Since then, children of all ages have used the term “65 Roses” to refer to the condition.

The Rose is an ancient symbol of love. The 65 miles I am paddling will mark yet another milestone in my support of this wonderful foundation and its aim to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. The significance of this event is as I mentioned in part 1 of my series: I am a blind father working hard and diligently to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, a horrendous condition that inflicts many children and adults today.  

We are preparing to begin the new Great Strides fund raiser. We are only days away from beginning a journey which will culminate at the Miami:PlaceName> Lakes:PlaceType>:place>, Florida, walk in the first quarter of next year. My plans are to begin the largest and most significant fund raiser that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has seen in a long time – a blind man paddling 65 miles for this wonderful cause. 

The Great Strides walk will take place on the last Saturday of April 2012. Fund raising for this event began in early November 2011. The paddling event will begin at the Fort Mead Recreational area. My partner and I will paddle for at least five hours on the first day and camp out on the west side of the river. Our plans are to Microblog and take videos as we move along the river. Our audio recorders will also be catching almost every part of this trip. On the second day, we are moving toward the Zolfo Springs area.

Here are the details of this wonderful and challenging trip.  

Days 1 and 2: Start off at Fort Mead US 98 Bridge – At Ft. Meade Recreational Park (one mile east of US 17 off US 98, 67 miles north of Arcadia). Paddle about five hours starting in the early morning.  The reason for paddling five hours is because I want to ensure that I paddle the 67 miles I need for my goal since the bridge is 67 miles from my destination. This will take me about 15 miles south of Fort Mead, leaving about 10 miles for Day 2. On day 2, we will paddle until we have paddled the remaining 10 miles (about four to five hours). This will take us to Night 2, which will be the second night sleeping alone. 

Day 3: Paddle until we arrive at Zolfo Springs (Pioneer:PlaceName> Park:PlaceType>:place> / Boat Ramp – From Wauchula, head south on US 17 to SR 64 in Zolfo Springs. Turn right [west] on SR 64 and look for park and boat ramp. This ramp is located 37 miles north of Arcadia:place>:City>). We will be met by a group of paddlers that will join us on our journey. Hopefully, there will be a larger group to encourage us onward.

The paddling on this day will be for about five or six hours until we arrive at the bridge following the Zolfo:PlaceName> Springs:PlaceType> Bridge:PlaceType>:place>. We will find a suitable camp site and remain there over night. 

Day 4:  Pick up camp and move toward Gardner Boat Ramp (Gardner Boat Ramp – Take US 17 13 miles south of Zolfo Springs.  Turn right on River Road:address>:Street>, go 1.5 miles to boat ramp.). At the Gardner:place>:City> ramp, we will pick up supplies, if needed, and spend about 1.5 hours there. Hopefully, there will be a group to continue to encourage us onward. 

We continue paddling for about another two hours until we reach the Brownville:PlaceName> Park:PlaceType> bridge (Brownville Park – From Arcadia:City>, take US:place>:country-region> 17 north approximately four miles to Brownville Street:address>:Street>. Take a left [west] and proceed 1.5 miles to entrance.). We camp out overnight right before the bridge. 

Day 5: There are about three more hours before we reach our destination, Canoe Safari located in Arcadia:City>, Florida:State>:place>. This is where we end our journey. 

It is my desire to make this trip a story of two parallels: (1) a father who wants to find a cure for his daughter; and (2) a man with no sight paddling a river filled with many species of wildlife. I have never had fear of the unknown nor have I ever had fear to face life head on. My friends and family know that I always do what I set my mind to and I accomplish my goals without hurting anyone. I humbly ask for sponsorship throughout my trip. The contributions will go directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The foundation has pledged to use at least 90 cents out of each dollar to fund research for a cure to Cystic Fibrosis. I have pledged to raise as much awareness and funding for such research. My hope is that you will consider that my plans are to show that anything is possible. I also want to let our community know that becoming discouraged is completely normal since we are human beings. Getting up and moving forward is what becomes the hardest to do. Allow me to show you that life is full of beauty even when one can’t see the beauty. Having no sight does not mean that there is no vision. Vision comes from deep within oneself when one has realized there is so much beauty in the world. Having a condition is difficult and challenging. Don’t we all have some type of challenge which we must battle with every day? 

Call us in the U.S.:place>:country-region> at 305-771-1584 to encourage us onward. www.paddleforcf.com.  

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Chris’s Untimely Death

by Steve Brown

Today, television ads assault the viewer with how much “compensation” mothers can receive by linking modern mental malpractice to birth abnormalities. This article will attempt to focus on pre- and post-difficulties experienced 40 to 60 years ago to a particular individual and his mother.

Phyllis, my subject’s mother, experienced difficulties in her first trimester. She was often just plane sick — a young, nervous, and uneasy mother. To compensate, tranquilizers were taken, and possibly an early antidepressant. (What went on during the birthing process, I have chosen to omit.)

Phyllis’s first marriage did not last beyond Chris’s eighth birthday. Starting in Trinity School (N.Y.C.) for two years, Chris went on to Portsmouth Abbey, a prestigious boarding school in Rhode Island:place>:State>. Although not an academic star, Chris did quite well there, distinguishing himself in sports by being elected the captain of his cross country squad.

After graduating, Chris attended Beloit:place>:City> for less than a year. There was some indication that sixties drug experimentation may have triggered a lasting change in his behavior.

Soon, Chris began to wander — first to the west coast, then here and there. Eventually, he came back to New York City:place>:City>, and for a time drove a cab there. Erratic housing arrangements ensued with his being frequently evicted because of his drinking, uniquely styled because of his particular condition. Curiously enough, he led a relatively charmed life there. He had the ultimate protection living near the Hell’s Angels headquarters!

After a while, Chris became a latter day “beatnick” going “on the road” internationally several times — twice to Morocco:country-region> and Spain:place>:country-region>.  However, it must be noted that this man had some financial assistance from somewhat bewildered parents. From his mid-thirties on, his employment became spotty.

His wanderlust subsiding, Chris went back to school and made Dean’s List at Manhattan:PlaceName> College:PlaceType>:place>. During the late eighties, with parental assistance, his poetry was published in two editions of “New Voices American.”

In 2000, Chris had a shift in interest, taking six courses for a certificate in international studies. He applied to graduate school but was totally unwilling (or able) to accept that you must have a Bachelor’s degree! It was during this time I came to know him personally.

Chris looked like a six-foot-two version of Icabod Crane of Washington Irving fame, a long, gaunt and (I must say it!) homely face on top of a gangly frame. He never kept his appearance up, particularly his hair. When drunk, he was “the headless horseman.” Then he would call friends and relatives and indulge in loud and unpleasant harangues.

But for all this, I feel a loss. Chris was always charming and engaging when sober. Children loved him. In today’s dog-eat-dog world, we need poets as never before. No other man has ever come up to me, kissed my fingertips and said, “I greet you as an old Jewish gentlemen.”

During the last years of his life, Chris became less publicly active, having to be supported by SSI for his “nervous condition.” In August, he fell dead in front of the New Jersey:place>:State> Library where he did his writing. He was 57.

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Blind Versus Sighted Worlds, Action and Reaction

by John Justice 

What do you call this ever-present reaction we get from the sighted whenever we join them? Some might call it shame. Others think of it as resentment or perhaps some level of discomfort. Whatever label we choose to put on the thing, it is there.  Any blind person who tells me that he or she doesn't feel this is either completely out of touch with reality or a much stronger and less sensitive person than I am. 

I have been in the public in one way or another for my entire life. No matter where I went or what I was doing, there were always those who became uncomfortable when I arrived. The reaction comes in many forms from the outright hostility showed by some religious organizations to much more subtle responses which have to be considered and then recognized.   

Once, a long time ago, I was chastised by an elderly woman who proceeded to tell me that I was blind because I was being punished for some past wrong. She told me in no uncertain terms that God had visited his wrath upon me by making me blind and allowing me to suffer. Before her relatives pulled her away, she told me that I should go home and never show my face again in their church. "Who needs to be reminded of the wages of sin?" That was an extreme case but I'd be willing to bet that there are others who feel more or less the same way. Am I resentful and bitter? Not really. Do I get angry when something like this happens? Oh yeah! Big time!  

Let's put this thing on the table once and for all. We didn't ask for blindness or for any other physical impairment. If we had a choice, I'm sure that most of us would rather not fight our way through life like this. To have someone feel uncomfortable when we're near is based on quite a few different responses in my view. First of all, when we appear, we remind the sighted people that life and physical well-being are a very delicate and precious thing. Some will actually feel guilty because they're sighted and we're not. Others, like that old witch, will get angry because, just by being there, we tell them that their carefully set-up defenses aren't working. The real world breaks right in on them and we are the proof. All of their prayers and preparations against the unhappiness of life is for nothing when we bring our obvious blindness into their midst. I can almost hear some of them saying, "Why does he or she have to do this? Why can't the blind person go away and leave us to live our lives without this kind of reminder that, but for the grace ofGod, it could be one of us?"  

This is the part of life which makes me so angry. The only being on earth or in heaven who can help us is God the Father. Yet when we try to approach Him in his house of worship, others would prevent this from happening. When we go to a church, the people tend to move away from us as if we had Leprosy. Some of them, subconsciously or intentionally, feel that our ailment might be catching in some obscure and ridiculous way. My wife Linda thinks that some sighted people avoid us because we might impose our needs on them by asking for help. By rendering assistance, they might have to take a moment or two out of their busy existence to help us, God forbid. We do crash right into their comfort zones in so many ways. 

The term "they" is of course, a shrieking generality. Fortunately, there are exceptions to this reaction. If there weren't, we would never get any help, ever. But the fact is, people, these are exceptions.  Why shouldn't it be the rule? Unfortunately, we are exceptions in our own right. When sighted people get together, their sight is what is sometimes called a non-relative factor.  That means that sight, as a consideration in a group of sighted people, isn't an issue. They are left with other reasons to single out people. They might be too fat, too tall, too young or too old. And then there is the one thing which really can make a difference. “Oh My God! That woman has black skin!” Isn't that ridiculous? To us it is because for us, the color of someone's skin doesn't mean a thing. For us, what a person looks like might have some effect on how we accept them but, unless there are other discerning elements, we might not even know that a person has a different color.   

The hurt caused by ignorant people is like a flood washing away homes and farms. It has no specific target in mind yet it destroys lives and kills without compunction. The prejudice we have all experienced isn't personal. At least it doesn't start out that way. But does that matter when you are the one getting hurt? Not a bit, eh? When it's you that is being avoided or you that isn't accepted or you that is being ignored, it hurts just as badly as if that person had singled you out for the treatment. How I wish people understood that. Every single day we live, we try to deal with being blind or handicapped. Some of us do it quite well but, deep down inside, we are breakable. It doesn't take much to smash through that shell we have tried to grow around our feelings. Yet it happens time and time again. All of us must find the good in our lives and cherish it beyond any hurt or anger we might feel.  In spite of what they think or how we are treated, we have every right to be here and to go and do exactly what we want. I say and loudly with my fist raised high, "to hell with you who fear or resent me!"  

When we meet someone who does try to help, even then, there are variations on the theme. All of us, at one time or another, have met up with "Doris Do Good”! A person like this will give aid because it makes the person feel superior or gives her a special emotional high.  Doris Do Good will often be quite a benefit but her interest doesn't last long. There is also the "Curious George" type of person who appears out of nowhere to lend a hand. Curious George wants to find out what it's like to be a blind person or ride around in a wheelchair. Once his craving for information has been satisfied, Curious George will follow Doris Do Good into the sunset.  

When we meet a person who really does want to help because they try to understand, we must treasure that person beyond all measure. For rare is he that offers aid because it is needed and for no other reason.   

How do we tell these different people apart? The only thing that separates people into the categories described here is what they do and how they do it. The fact is, we do need help from time to time. Most of us will try as hard as we can to avoid asking for assistance. Even though everyone needs help at one time or another, when we ask for it, the issue immediately becomes blind-related. We are blind, therefore we need the help. Someone else who is sighted might ask for the same assistance and I'll bet you that the person giving aid would find some way to categorize the supplicant. "Oh he wants help because he's lazy, or poor, or stupid. She wants help because her mother never taught her right from wrong or her husband is mean and beats her regularly." Any time help is requested, there is always that risk.  Needing help makes you unique and subject to possible negative reaction.   

Why do people act that way? It hasn't always been that way, has it? The fact is that the public has learned about us to some extent. With technology and changes in laws, we can do a lot more than we could before. Fifty years ago, no one really expected anything from a blind person. If they did achieve notoriety it was considered a miracle. Today, we do things that people don't understand. There are always going to be the ones who resent our rights and would prefer that we were shut away somewhere. The average person lives a life which is much more centered around him or herself. Life moves so quickly that each person has to take what he needs before someone else does. As blind people, we are still here. But asking for help has changed. A sighted person does resent anything which interferes with his carefully organized existence. We, as blind people, don't fit into that plan.  Naturally, since we are different, we are resented by some, tolerated by others and ignored by most.  

Being blind gives us rights and responsibilities. We have the right to access and to fair consideration for a job. But we have the responsibility to do everything we can to maintain our independence.  We have the right to information in alternative forms such as Braille, recorded material or the Internet. But we have the responsibility to make the best possible use of those things. It is our responsibility to learn as much as we can about anything that can help us. Most of these rights look good on paper but are often nowhere near the ideal. When something we are entitled to falls short, we have the responsibility to address the problem and try to make it work.   

But when it comes to the way people react to us, our only responsibility is to make sure that we don't add to the problem by showing our resentment or challenging those who hurt us. Someone once said that an explanation is far better than a confrontation. There are times when I wonder about that. Sometimes, the only option we have is to call someone out when they deliberately go out of their way to cause us discomfort or pain. The sad part of it is that most people don't know that they are creating a problem. They simply don't care enough to understand. The final analysis is this. We do not have a responsibility to teach the world the difference between right and wrong. We can only touch those within our immediate reach. One blind person isn't going to affect society as a whole. But if we present a common goal, an agreed reaction to the public's action toward us, we might be able to make things change. 

If we discard blindness as a discerning factor, we are all individuals with differing life styles, levels of experience and yes, varying levels of ability. The fact is that not all blind people are created equal. In spite of the public's apparent viewpoint, we don't all fit into the same handy box. The world around us is a sighted one.  We all know that so well. We owe it to ourselves to make the best of what talents and abilities we have. If we as blind people want a better world, we're going to have to go out there and build it. The rest of humanity doesn't have the time or the inclination to do it for us. Our government has tried to level the playing field by creating legislation which should protect us against unfair treatment.  Unfortunately, like all good intentions, the Americans with Disabilities Act has been distorted, diluted and countermanded to such an extent that it is, in many cases, completely ignored. Better legal minds will tell you that the law was flawed from the very beginning. Any old and wise grandmother will tell you that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. We can't hide behind that law. We must use it when we can, and ignoring obvious cases in which our rights are violated is the worst thing we can do. The law does not address the shame we feel when people avoid us because we are blind. We take that kind of treatment very personally. In my opinion, we must confront it personally as well. This isn't an easy thing to do. As individuals who happen to be blind, each of us must find a way to use our own talents and abilities to fight this insidious plague. Whatever you do my friends, whether young or old, male or female, American or foreign, don't ever give up and go home. Nothing has ever been accomplished by doing nothing. 

Thank you all for listening.        

John and Linda Justice

With guide dogs Jake and Zachary

| Table of Contents |

*****

An Insult to Basketball Fans

by Bob Branco

We live in tough times. Many of us make just enough to put food on the table and pay our bills. Most of you would agree as to how extremely difficult this is. When we are not paying our bills or managing our limited funds, many of us like to enjoy recreation and sports, such as basketball. I am a Boston Celtics fan and, at this time every year, I look forward to listening to the play-by-play as the Celtics try to win another championship. However, I take issue with the owners of the National Basketball League's teams who actually have the nerve to sit in a room and argue over millions of dollars, while we, the average consumers, can only dream about having that kind of money. Being that these owners can't agree on a fat salary, they have decided to take the joy of basketball away from us for a while.

What crazy times we live in! Many of us are afraid to ask our boss for a small raise, while people in professional sports not only demand millions, but go on strike if they don't get their way. Haven't these basketball owners, or the owners of any other sports teams, realized that we, the fans, support them financially? If I own a sports team, and if I am not satisfied with the percentage of revenue that goes into my pocket, the first thing I'm going to realize is that if I don't keep my mouth shut and cause a lock-out, fans won't pay me. Isn't it better to accept an eight-digit figure that you're not happy with rather than no figure at all?

A solution to this problem should be a general boycott of basketball, but of course, we all know that won't happen. It took a few years after the baseball strike of 1994, but many stadiums were sold out in 2011. I just don't think it's fair that while I struggle to make ends meet, and while I deserve to listen to basketball games as some kind of reward for how I care for myself, I need to be denied that privilege because the big wheels can't decide whether they are happy with fifty-million dollars or a hundred-million dollars. Hey, give me what you're not happy with. I'll gladly take it, and give it to my family and friends so they could make ends meet a lot easier.

Your thoughts are welcome.

*****

| Table of Contents |

            The Greyhound: A Dog of a Way to Get Around

            by John Justice

It was summer in New York:place>:State> and very hot. I was on my way home and would be taking the Greyhound to Atlantic City:City>:place>, where I would change to a local bus for my trip to Stone Harbor:City>, New Jersey:State>:place>. When I heard the doors squeak open and the driver announce the Atlantic City:place>:City> bus, I stood, opened my folding cane and grabbed my suitcase. The driver came up to me, took my case and offered his arm. He seemed friendly enough and we were talking about traveling in the summer in and around New York:State>:place>. As I climbed the steps and headed down the aisle, the driver told me that one seat had more room. “It’s where the emergency exit is,” he explained. I found the seat and settled in. It was then that the leopard changed his spots. 

“It’s a good thing you don’t have one of those smelly dogs. I don’t like dogs on my bus and if I had my way, none of them would be allowed to ride. But the rules say I have to let those eye dogs on board, whether I like it or not,” he growled. I gave him my ticket and then the man turned away to begin processing the other passengers. I was furious! Who the heck did this dyed-in-the-wool jerk think he was complaining about guide dogs? It wasn’t his bus. He just drove it after all. In fact, I was between guide dogs at that time, waiting for the day to come when I would go back to school for my next one. He had picked the wrong guy to share that information with.

The bus made its way through the Lincoln Tunnel and was soon roaring out into New Jersey:State>:place>. This was the local rather than the express so people got on and off from time to time. It was in a rather long stretch of highway that I got my idea. I can imitate a barking puppy or small dog rather well. There was no one sitting near me so I put my head down and barked a couple of times. That driver pulled the bus off of the road and started patrolling the aisle, looking for the dog. He went all the way to the back, then made his way back up. As he passed me, he asked if I had heard a dog barking. “Yeah, I did. But I’m not sure where it came from,” I responded. My seat was the only one that didn’t have a luggage rack over it. So he didn’t think twice about me having a dog. Where would I put it? Finally, after grumbling to himself, he went back up front, strapped in and pulled back onto the highway. As soon as the bus reached cruising speed, I barked again. After a moment or two, the driver pulled over a second time.  “Alright,” he yelled. “This bus isn’t moving until that dog is off of it!”  We sat there for almost ten minutes. I wasn’t sure how the other passengers were taking this situation. No one got up and presented the dog. The driver must have looked at the dashboard clock and realized that he would be off schedule if he didn’t get moving. I could hear him using four-letter words as he pulled the bus into traffic.

When we reached Atlantic City:place>:City>, I picked up my case, opened my cane and made my way toward the exit. “Have a good day, Sir,” I said. As I hit the bottom step, I made one more parting remark. I barked loudly. I heard him exclaim, “What the hell!”  He came out of that bus and followed me out into the lobby. “Hey! Why did you do that? You could have made me late and held up everything,” he asked. The guy was steaming so I didn’t pull any more tricks. “I use guide dogs. I’m waiting for a new one now. Our dogs have just as much right on that bus as anyone else,” I said. “I hope I don’t have trouble with you when I do ride next time with my new one.” 

About a month later, I was back at the same Port Authority Terminal. But this time, I had Star, my German Shepherd with me. The gates opened and someone announced the Atlantic City:City>:place> trip. I got up, picked up my case and Star led me toward the bus. I came up the steps but no one was sitting in the driver’s seat. So I put my ticket in my breast pocket and sat down in the same seat. A few minutes later, a driver I didn’t know came on board and made his way down the aisle collecting tickets from the passengers who were already on board. He returned to the front of the bus and then apologized for the delay. “We had a driver scheduled to take this route who refused to drive it because one of the passengers has a Seeing Eye dog. The dispatcher had to find a last-minute replacement and that was me. We’ll be getting under way now.” I sat back in my seat and wondered if that was the same driver. Did he see me with Star in the waiting area? And I wondered what happens when someone refuses to take an assigned route. Later, as I was exiting the vehicle, I asked the driver what would happen in a situation like that. At first, he didn’t want to tell me, but finally he responded briefly. “If a driver refuses a route for any reason, he is sent home and a review is scheduled. If he has a good reason for not taking the assignment, then that’s the end of the matter. If the board finds that he doesn’t have a good reason, he could be disciplined or even dismissed. That isn’t for everyone to know, sir. I’m telling you because the driver saw you and flatly refused to drive the bus with you on it.” 

I wonder what happened to that driver. I have heard of people not liking dogs but to risk your job over something like that doesn’t make sense.

John and Linda Justice

With guide dogs Jake and Zachary

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Ask Allen

Allen Hensel of Milford, Massachusetts has a vast amount of knowledge about gadgets, and would like to answer your questions about many of these products in the Consumer Vision.

Allen knows about Rechargeable batteries of all types, MP3 players and peripherals, GPS devices, digital cameras, backup drives, flash- or thumb-drives, portable radios including HD, LED lights including flashlights, power mats, computer mice and keyboards.

Basically, Allen will offer shopping or practical application advice on any small portable gadget that one might want information for. He does a lot of comparative research and would be happy to do it for others.  Besides, he loves to learn new things anyway so why not put that learning to good use.

If you have any questions for Allen, please email them to me and I will forward them. Your questions, as well as Allen's answers, will appear in his column in the Consumer Vision.

            Question: Hello, I have been looking for a stand-alone digital multi-track recorder that's accessible for a blind person for my music.  If there is one out there somewhere, I'd like to hear about it.

Don Hansen

            Question: I've got a question for Alan. I just ordered a device from the Vermont Country Store, based on the fact that it was listed in the Braille Forum. It's a piece of software and hardware designed to convert cassette tapes into a digital format automatically. This was only $39.95. With shipping it came to $47 and change. Has Alan had any experience with any of these conversion-type devices? I tried a turntable/software a few years ago that was supposed to convert vinyl to digital. Unfortunately, it didn't work at all with Jaws, the speech program I use. Hopefully, I'm not wandering down that same inaccessible road.

Rob Stemple

            Answer: Rob, any audio-file editing and encoding program including freeware such as Audacity will do an adequate job at converting an audio signal from your sound card (input) to your desired digital format with clean up. Any external device with left- and right-channel audio out to your computer's audio in via a cord and adaptors (if necessary), along with a decent software editing program, will work under (user) normal conditions.

You may wish to look at possible compatibility issues between JAWS and the software editing and encoding program that you are using.

It's possible that the device you have ordered may be okay.

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Ask Robert

Robert Pacheco of Swansea, Massachusetts, has been a computer operator most of his life, and is quite familiar with adaptive computers for persons with disabilities, as well as any other general information about computers.

            Question: Hi Robert Pacheco. I can't pay. I have multiple players, and converters, including (unfortunately) iTunes for my iPod.  Many times I have trouble getting the files to play. Often I get a message, especially from Media Player, saying I don't have the proper codack. I've uploaded all kinds of software and am still having a lot of trouble. Any help will be appreciated. I seem to have the sound track to my life with the music on that unit. Although I do prefer albums, if there's nothing else, an MP3 will do.

Mary Ann 

            Answer: Have you ever tried YouTube? They have millions of music files. 

            Response to the Answer: Robert, sorry, I wasn't clear. I can locate songs through YouTube, but can't always get the files on my external file to play because some are in iTunes, and others in Media Player (and some flak files too). I've downloaded several converters and codacs, but often the computer won't play a file, or will only play a disc 1 song at a time.  Putting music on the iPod, that's another nightmare. For iTunes they talk about "drop and drag" for playlists. I can cut and paste, but that doesn't work the same. If you have time to write, or contact me off list since this is loaded with questions, that's cool – whatever's good for you.

Many thanks,

Mary, the terminal computer child

            Answer: Hi Mary, When you are on YouTube, just type the name of the song. One space in between each word. If you know the singer or group just put one space and don’t use “caps” and don’t use the “the” word, only if it is in the middle of the title. I hope this helps.

            Question: Hi, Bob. I have some questions for Robert, your computer man.

1. Is an MP3 player Jaws-friendly?

2. How do the blind use a shopping cart on line? I do fine until I get to submit or download.

3. How do the blind pay bills on line?

You'll be sorry you showed me that computer man. I am full of questions all the time.

Your friend,

Patty O'Brien 

            Answer: Hello Patty,

1. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of "Jaws" but I know what it’s for.

2. Online shopping carts are used to keep track of products you want to buy. If you have a good screen-reader you should be ok. A suggestion, slow the reader down.

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Notices From Our Readers

I am starting up a group for blind and visually impaired singles to interact, share ideas and get to know one another, and would welcome readers from this magazine who belong to this category. If you wish to join EnableLove, please email me at adrijana.prokopenko at gmail.com, and feel free to share some info about yourself including gender, age, occupation, hobbies and interests. Or visit www.enablelove.com, which is blind-friendly, fully accessible and easy to use with speech programs.  Looking forward to your feedback!

| Table of Contents |

*****

            Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the September/October Consumer Vision. Mike Collins operated the command module during Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon in 1969.  Congratulations to the following winners:

Jan Colby of Brockton:City>, Massachusetts:State>:place>

Mark Benson of Wichita:City>, Kansas:State>:place>

Joe Machisi of Lynn:City>, Massachusetts:State>:place>

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City:City>, Oklahoma:State>:place>

And now, here is your trivia question for the January-February 2012 Consumer Vision:

Which two of Santa’s reindeer are the German words for thunder and lightning?

If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

| Table of Contents |