April 2018

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746

Phone: 508-994-4972

Email address:


Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin


In this Table of Contents, each article title will be separated from its author by three asterisks ***

Three asterisks *** will also be placed before and after each article, both to separate them and for ease of location. To make searching even easier, each article is also preceded by a number.

In columns like Karen Crowder's recipes, Readers' Forum, and Special Notices, letters will be used to separate items, starting with A, B, C, etc., depending on the number of items.


2. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

3. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

4. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Three Ways to Connect to Your Soul and Sidestep the Ego *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

5. TECH CORNER: Jesters and Gestures—Our Virtual World *** by Stephen Théberge

6. SOCIETY'S TRENDS: How to Prevent Mass Shootings *** by Bob Branco

7. WEATHER OR NOT: Nor'easters and Spring Floods; Heavy Rains and Melting Snow *** by Steve Roberts

8. SPECIAL NOTICES: Braille Calendars and Two New Books *** Book ads submitted by Leonore H. Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services

9. THE HANDLER'S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

10. TURNING POINT: A Human Library Event *** by Terri Winaught

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

12. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

13. BUT WHAT IF? *** by John and Linda Justice

14. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH: Passover *** by Marcy J. Segelman




It is easy to make sure that your submitted articles do not exceed the 1,000-word limit. In a Word file, simply write your article, minus any heading or information at the end about yourself. Make sure the word count is 1,000 words or fewer. The computer will give you the count. Only then should you add a heading, your name as the author, and any concluding information about yourself, such as any background information about yourself or your email or website URL.

Thank you.

Bob Branco, Publisher

Leonore H. Dvorkin, Proofreader and Secondary Editor



by Terri Winaught

Hello, Consumer Vision Readers.

As I listened to recent news stories about dog mishaps involving United Airlines, I thought of contributors Ann Chiappetta and John Justice, since both have guide dogs. Boy! I thought. I'll bet they hope never to fly with United anytime soon, if ever.

I say that because earlier this month, in just a matter of days, one 10-month-old puppy died as a result of a flight attendant's insistence that the dog be placed in an overhead compartment. The next mishap involved two dogs being switched as a result of a mixup. As a result, the dog that was to have gone to Kansas was instead flown to Japan, and the one that was to have gone to Japan went to Kansas. To United's credit, the dog that was mistakenly flown to Japan was transported back first class and at no charge. That was certainly the least they could have done.

Finally, regarding dog scenarios, I must admit with embarrassment that I have forgotten the third mishap, but I think that United is implementing procedures to keep such misfortunes from occurring moving forward.

I'd be interested in hearing not only from our writers who travel with guide dogs, but also from our readers regarding their overall treatment by airlines.

On a different note and though not recently, publisher Bob Branco has written editorials in which he explained his reason for opposing driverless cars being on the road. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the recent tragedy in Tempe, Arizona only served to further cement Bob's views. Specifically, a 49-year-old woman was crossing a road on a recent Sunday evening when she was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber, even though there was a person in the car.

As a result, Uber has suspended use of its automated cars in Tempe. In addition, the tech giant has also not renewed their contracts in San Francisco, with the result that there are currently no driverless Uber vehicles In California. Although Uber has also been experimenting with driverless cars in Pittsburgh, where I live, and in Toronto, Canada, their use has been suspended in those areas, too, according to an ABC News report aired on March 28. Google, however, is continuing to use and expand their driverless fleet by using technologies developed and provided by Waymo, a company with whom Google partners.

Given the recent tragedy in Arizona, I am surprised that any company would continue to use and expand this technology pending further investigation and the implementation of more rigorous safety procedures. What do the rest of you think, though, especially any of you who are National Federation of the Blind (NFB) members who may be familiar with that organization's work with a Virginia-based university on driverless cars?

Finally, yet another current and disturbing news item is the shooting of an unarmed black male in Sacramento, California. This 22-year-old father of two wasn't just shot. He was shot 20 times, and in his grandmother's back yard.

While some of you may be tired not only of hearing about these incidents but also of the protests they generate, I think it behooves us as persons who are blind or have impaired vision to care even more than the general population. I feel this way because of the indomitable courage and resilience it took to experience and endure the Civil Rights struggle that began in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger. (Before Rosa's courageous stance, which resulted in a bus boycott until Montgomery's buses were integrated, Claudette Colvin, who is much less known, also refused to vacate her seat earlier in 1955.)

The vicious beatings of Freedom Riders in the South and the frenzied riots after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on April 4, 1968 transitioned into the Women's Movement of the 1970s. 1981 having been designated The Year of the Disabled, and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990, should show us, also being a minority, just how much we owe our brothers and sisters of color. Again and as always, I will be interested in readers' feedback.

To conclude, I never want to forget to thank former editor Janet Marcley; Chris, our previous proofreader; Bob Branco, publisher; Leonore Dvorkin, secondary editor and proofreader; David Dvorkin, formatter; all of our writers; and all of our readers, without whom Consumer Vision couldn't have expanded to its current status as a monthly publication available via email, on the Internet, on CD, in print, and in braille.

To offer your comments, feedback, and suggestions, you are always welcome to reach out to me as follows: 412-263-2022, home; 412-808-5656, cell;; in braille sent to 915 Penn Ave., Apt. 307, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; or in the Readers' Forum of this magazine.

If you celebrate Easter, Happy Easter! If you celebrate Passover, may that be a fulfilling series of festivities. And if you celebrate no holidays, Happy Spring!


Terri Winaught


3. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use (for April 2018)

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

Hello again, everyone. I hope you will find this collection of health news items of interest and use.

1. "Premature hearts less able to cope with exercise"

British Heart Foundation / EurekAlert, 3/19/18

This is of interest to me, because I was born three months premature on May 5, 1946, weighing just 2 lbs. 11 oz. I also try hard to stay fit, although I do more exercise with weights than aerobic exercise. Perhaps this helps explain why I enjoy aerobic exercise less than I enjoy weight training. However, I do walk and use an exercise bike, and I used to swim regularly.

Here is a summary of the article:

People born prematurely are more likely to suffer heart failure as adults. Also, during exercise, the more prematurely a person was born, the lower the capacity of the heart to pump blood. The hearts of those born prematurely are less able to increase the heart rate and the stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped out by the left ventricle.

Global rates of prematurity are from 5 to 18%, depending on the country. It's 8% in the U.K.

Information from other sources: The rate of prematurity is 10% in the U.S., and that is rising. Cuts to Medicaid are expected to make the situation worse.

A concluding personal note: I teach exercise classes four hours a week, and I'm a firm believer in combining resistance exercise (weight training), some form of aerobic exercise, and stretching. They are all valuable. I also believe that you should emphasize the form of exercise that feels best to you. Listen to your body; it's very wise.

2. "Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease"

British Journal of Nutrition / EurekAlert, 3/19/18

After the somewhat negative news above, here is some good news. Once again, this has personal relevance for me and my husband, David. He is now 74 and very fit, thanks mainly to heavy, regular weight training. Over a year ago, his doctor recommended a certain modified fasting diet known as the Five-Two Diet. Dr. Hedberg said that many of his patients had lost a lot of weight on it. David and I tried it for a while and also lost weight, but then backslid. This spring, we are trying it again.

The concept is very simple. You eat normally (although not lots of junk, I hope) five days a week. That is, you take in your normal number of calories on those five days. Two days a week, but not on consecutive days, you consume only about 600 calories per day. Our semi-fasting days are Monday and Friday, as I teach my exercise classes on Tuesday and Thursday and need plenty of energy for those.

Our foods on the semi-fasting days are mainly fresh or frozen vegetables with no butter, fresh fruits, and small amounts of low-fat protein sources, such as roasted chicken. Even normally, we don't drink alcohol, fruit juices, or soft drinks, and we eat almost no sweets, so there's no sacrifice there. However, we do normally eat bread, nuts, cheese, and eggs, so we eat none of those foods on Monday or Friday. On the semi-fasting days, we feel lighter (of course) but also clearer-headed, better able to focus. It's both pleasant and fascinating.

The conclusion of this study was that such a diet helps clear fat from the blood more quickly after meals compared to diets that limit calories every day. The Five-Two diet also lowered the participants' systolic blood pressure by about 9%. Such a reduction reduces pressure on arteries, potentially lessening the danger of heart attacks and strokes.

The male and female subjects in the British study were able to lose an average of 5% of their body weight in two months. That's an impressive but safe rate of weight loss; for me, that would be 9 lbs. in two months. While I will be happy if I can lose even two pounds per month, the Five-Two diet feels fine to both of us, and we intend to stick with it. I'll report later on my success—which I am determined to have! :-)

3. "Mediterranean diet is linked to higher muscle mass, bone density after menopause"

The Endocrine Society / Reported by EurekAlert, 3/18/18

For the February 2018 Consumer Vision, I wrote about the benefits and components of the Mediterranean diet. It consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, seeds, olive oil, lots of fish, and low amounts of saturated fat, dairy products, and red meat. Red wine is permitted in small amounts, although I avoid that because I'm a breast cancer survivor, and alcohol is a known risk factor for breast cancer.

This diet is well known for its overall health benefits, lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and some other chronic diseases. However, a new study done in Brazil found that it also increases bone density and muscle mass after menopause. Menopause speeds up the loss of bone mass, which can lead to osteoporosis and broken bones. Menopause and aging also reduce muscle mass. These conditions are major contributors to reduced quality of life and higher death rates.

The study found that the more closely the post-menopausal women adhered to the Mediterranean diet, the higher their bone mineral density as measured at the lumbar spine and the greater their muscle mass. This was true regardless of whether the women had had hormone therapy or smoked, and it was independent of their current levels of physical activity.

4. "The ocean can make you sick." and The Week magazine, 3/23/18

Hmm. Maybe lacking an ocean here in Colorado is not so bad after all!—Nineteen studies of 120,000 people showed that those who swim in the ocean are 77% more likely to develop an earache, 44% more likely to have diarrhea, and at 29% greater risk for a gastrointestinal infection. The problems are due to fecal bacteria, agricultural runoff, sewage, and other waste matter.

About the author:

Besides being an award-winning exercise instructor, Leonore H. Dvorkin is an author, editor, and language tutor. She and her husband, the prolific author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since the fall of 1971. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this April 9. Together, they run DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. Several of the contributors to this magazine, including Bob Branco, are among their 35-plus clients, most of whom are blind or visually impaired. They invite you to visit any of their websites for further information.

Leonore's website is


DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services:

David Dvorkin's website:

David's email:



Three Ways to Connect to Your Soul and Sidestep the Ego

by Dennis R. Sumlin

As humans, we have a lot in common. As individuals, we are very different. As humans, we are all one. As individuals, we are vibrating at different frequencies. We are spiritual beings having an earthly experience. There are many lessons to learn in this life, and we have a guide to help us through it if we will tap into it.

The fact that our true selves are our spirit should make it easy to listen to what our spirit, or soul, is saying. We would be able to hear it if it weren't for that loud dude in front of the soul called ego. The ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider as self. It's your mask: the face you show to the world, your outward earthly titles, such as boyfriend, son, father, coworker. When somebody has a big ego, it usually means that he is full of himself.

In astrology, the ego self is symbolized by the sun. It shines bright, styling and profiling. The question is: Does the ego make a good guide? If one is ruled by the ego all the time, what choices will he make?

Dancing with the Ego

When the ego is running the show, you place value on external things. You base your self-worth on material phenomena and social standing.

If you find yourself thinking about the same thing over and over, replaying past slights and hurts, peek-a-boo. If you find that you are ruled by fear or anxiety, or you talk down to yourself (e.g., I am no good, I am a failure, I am ugly, I suck in bed, etc.), guess who's talking? If you depend on your place in the social system to make you feel worthy, or you get offended too quickly, that is another clue.

We all have an ego to one degree or another. That is okay, it is our conscious mind, but we do not have to listen to it all the time. Even though it feels like us, it is not the true essence. Like many men, I let the ego dance a little too long at times. I worried about what people thought about my being non-muscular, I measured my worth based on other people's view about my formal education level, I did not fully open up due to fear of judgment, and other self-limiting zingers. Who needs that?

Tapping into Your Soul

The other choice we can make is to lean into our true selves. Lean into our soul, or spirit, our essence. Remember, we are spirits having a human experience, and our soul is always with us, because it is us. This means that we are worthy because we are alive, not based on earthly wealth, having a girlfriend, a PhD, or anything else. The soul is underneath all the masks and layers that we show to the world. The ego is surface and outward-based, while the soul is deep inside and inward-centered.

When your soul is behind the wheel, you feel and follow your gut feelings and intuitions; you love and value yourself totally; your passions, goals and ideas are something you feel deep within; and you are not controlled by external things like social expectations. You will notice more synchronicities, and you can enter a state of flow when involved with one of your deep passions.

The Feeling of the Soul

Many of us have had moments when we lived from our soul, even for a few minutes. It is a tough thing to do. It is hard to cut through all the noise, ignore the ego, listen to that inner voice, and then live from there. Holistic spirituality is how I live, and I have been able to move more in alignment to my soul.

I accept myself more.

I am able to see, and then align myself to more synchronicities.

I am calmer.

I am less affected by other people's energy.

My mind is quieter.

There will always be a back and forth for many of us, but we can get closer and closer.

1. Practice Gratitude

We connect to our soul by being grateful for everything we have in this moment. From the time you wake up until the time the day ends, there are a quintillion things to give thanks for.

2. Meditate

Meditation is a surefire way to allow a space to connect with our soul.

Find a quiet spot.

Sit or lie comfortably.

Breathe in slowly through your nose all the way down to your belly, and then slowly let it go through your mouth.

Focus on your breath.

Feel your feelings without judgment.

Start out with ten minutes the first time.

3. Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal is another solid way to tune into your soul energy. This is not just a regular journal; this is a soul journal. With some good, deep prompts, you can let your soul speak the answer.

How do I feel in my own body?

What is one thing I need to know about myself?

What is one thing that is stopping me from moving forward?

Spirit Energy

Things do not happen overnight, and you cannot rush the universe, but it is worth it to connect with yourself. As somebody who understands the challenge of soul alignment, I can help you start this journey. When you connect to who you really are, you will feel calmer, get more of what you want, have better sex, enjoy the little things, live with lower stress, and much, much more.



Jesters and Gestures—Our Virtual World

by Stephen Théberge

Whether we use a smart phone, computer, or tablet, the world is really a virtual place. Most of our relationships are conducted this way. Some people prefer to do everything online. People who have never met physically can accomplish so much online.

I have never met Leonore and David Dvorkin. Everything connected with my book was done via email. I've talked to Leonore by phone, but have never had the pleasure of hearing David's voice. So many personal and professional relationships are conducted in this manner.

I have a very good business relationship with somebody who found my profile on Linkedin. This site is all about finding business connections. Luckily, I can now test websites from home for profit.

I think what cements long distance relationships is an actual phone call. Nowadays, people like to see each other, so they might use FaceTime or Skype. Even courts can do things electronically. It seems we don't have to do much of anything physically in person anymore.

One could say that modern social media and the proliferation of smart phones are responsible. This is a fact, but we've been virtual ever since the radio and phone were invented. I could have insisted on having my debut on WARA radio for my book interview over the phone. I like that the host was more old school and preferred to have a live body in the studio.

I was probably more nervous in person, but I've done phone interviews and was just as nervous. It seems that we could be losing out on the face-to-face skills. I have some people I call and they can "multitask" and do stuff like looking on Facebook.

I've said jokingly that I was a Facebook addict. I do a lot on it, but have come to realize many patterns. Many people will like a post I put up just because they recognize my name. There is such a plethora of posts out there. I've done it myself. I may not be reading them all thoroughly, but if it's my sister or a close friend, I'll automatically hit the like button.

I wonder how many posts I've had out there that were glossed over. We almost have to operate this way. The solution would be to limit how many friends and follows we have. If somebody has over five hundred friends, there is no way they could read all the posts unless they were there all day. I pledge to never have more than one hundred friends. That is way too many.

Another annoying habit people have is the copy-and-paste curse. I've seen somebody send an email, then post on Facebook, then like the exact same article. To make matters worse, they'll put it on their blog, post about this fact, and then email. It is saturation city.

I think that is why advertising is so annoying. There is so much repetition. It's bad enough to read the same old stale posts of our friends, let alone having to wade through sales pitches.

I may be a big critic of these practices. It is probably not possible to be objective about myself. Of course, we all hope we are really cool and not annoying anybody online with the same Groundhog Day posts. Realistically, I doubt I am above this behavior.

I also realize that we are not going back to the "good old days," either. We can argue about it on different levels. Could we really take the technology challenge and not use it for a week? Well, if my boss gave me websites to test for accessibility, I couldn't meet the challenge. After all, I have a bad habit. I like to eat, and if I could have food without paying money for it, I'd oblige.

The debacle with Facebook and data breaches is another reminder that we are always being compromised. I support any initiatives and laws, but the fact is that human nature being what it is, greed can't be solved by technology. The availability of technology makes it easier for unscrupulous people to profit from our information. Some people might protest Facebook, but most people will continue as if nothing has happened.

It's kind of sad when you hear that kids don't play outside anymore. We knew it was time to go home without phones and reminders. It is kind of scary when you see a bunch of kids get out of school and text each other. Even though they are in the same physical space, do they prefer technology over actual conversation? Are social media making us bad spellers and writers?

We never really thought of the telephone in the old days as a virtual form of social media. Even the chat lines never were thought of that way. Yet, it is virtual as well. I don't think FaceTime or any particular form of communication is bad or good. Indeed, I've met many people online that I've never met in person. We feel, especially on the chat lines, that we are almost family.

Follow me on twitter at @speechfb

Read and post on my writer's blog:

Check out my book page for information about my coming-of-age science fiction novel, The MetSche Message:

Watch my YouTube channel, with many blindness related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts.



How to Prevent Mass Shootings

by Bob Branco

Every time a mass shooting takes place in this country, there is always a debate about how to protect ourselves from further violence. As I present both sides to this intriguing discussion, along with my own personal thoughts, I want to make it clear that there is no easy solution. All we can do is use logic and do the best we can.

One proposal is that we arm all the teachers in the classroom. The idea is that if a mass shooter comes into the class, a teacher can take out her weapon and try to fight him. First of all, I would never deprive a teacher of her right to bring a gun into the classroom if she chooses to do that. She may feel safer that way. However, I wonder if a mandate to put guns in the teachers' hands would really work. Look at it this way. You are asking teachers to use their handguns to fight against an AR-15 assault rifle. It might work, but as far as I know, David only beat Goliath once. I never owned an assault rifle, but I know this much. An assault rifle shoots off dozens of rounds in a minute. Many teachers never spent time in the military, but even with service experience, how much time do you think they would have to try to use their handguns in defense of all those automatic bullets flying around? The teachers might as well get their own assault weapons.

This leads me to my big question. Why does the general public have access to assault weapons? For now, let's leave mental illness out of it, because my focus is on that big question. Adam Lanza, the young man who went on a shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook school, obtained an assault weapon from his mother. Though Lanza committed a heinous crime, please tell me why his mother needs to own an assault weapon. Does she even know how to use one properly? It's like owning a cannon or a bomb. As far as I'm concerned, the only people who should have access to assault weapons are those with licenses to carry them, such as military personnel. Furthermore, we should be forced to take a test before thinking about such weapons.

A national sporting goods chain had the right idea. After the recent mass shooting at a Florida school, Dick's Sporting Goods stopped selling assault weapons. Good for them. I admire their proactive stance. Am I saying that the decision by Dick's to stop the sale of assault weapons will completely end mass shootings? As I said at the beginning of this article, there are no easy solutions. However, wouldn't you rather keep assault weapons out of as many hands as possible rather than add more guns to the schools, especially if most of those guns are inferior to those used by mass shooters?

Several years ago, a student at a local high school got mad at his teacher and threw a chair at her. What if the teacher had had a gun, and what if the student had known where that gun was? I don't think I need to explain the potential for more serious violence in this case. As you know, many kids outsmart their own teachers.

In closing, allow me to reassure everyone that I don't have all the answers. I am merely  providing logic where I feel it should be placed. We could bring mental illness into this discussion if we want, but if we take all assault weapons away from the general public's access, we are also attempting to take them away from those with mental illnesses, as those people are part of the general public. As for age limits, it doesn't matter to me if someone is 18, 21, or 95. No assault weapon for that person unless he is certified to carry one at his job or any other activity requiring such a weapon.

I'm sure that not everyone will agree with my opinions, but while the authorities attempt to solve this complicated problem, the rest of us can only speculate about what the right solution should be.

Bob blogs at



Nor'easters and Spring Floods; Heavy Rains and Melting Snow

by Steve Roberts

A snowpack can harbor a truly vast quantity of water. When that snowpack melts, it can release lots of water into the environment. Melting snow can release lots of water into the regional river system but very rarely causes massive river flooding.

In order to get a massive river flood, you have to have heavy rain coincide with actively melting snow. Let's say that a snowpack has three to four inches of water locked away within it, and a nor'easter drops another four inches of rain. The combined volume of water from both snowmelt and rainfall is the net hydrologic impact. The net hydrologic impact is the combined measure of snowmelt and rainfall expressed in rainfall equivalent terms. This storm's net hydrologic impact is six to eight inches. That much water would result in flooding under any circumstances.

Spring Nor'easters Can Stall Out

A nor'easter that forms in the winter will often race up the East Coast of the United States. This is because air flows are much more vigorous during the winter. In the winter, a storm will travel at a rate of 500-600 miles a day. During the summer, a storm will travel at a speed of 200-300 miles a day. As we transition from winter to summer, air flows slow down.

The slower moving nor'easters of spring are more apt to stall out than the speed demons of winter. If a nor'easter stalls out, it can hang around for three or four days, perhaps longer. The nor'easters that hang around for many days can cause widespread river flooding, owing to their persistent heavy rains. A nor'easter that persists for several days can easily drop three to six inches of rain. There are some long-duration nor'easters that have dropped as much as five to ten inches of rain. There are nor'easters that can dump that much rain in a day or two.

Tropically Connected Nor'easters

A strong nor'easter will dump steady, heavy rain over a vast area. Gardeners and farmers often call this a soaking rain. Meteorologists refer to this as moderately heavy rain. Moderately heavy rain falls at rates ranging from one quarter inch to one half inch per hour. Steady, heavy rain can cause moderate to major river flooding should it persist for a long enough period of time.

When a nor'easter has a tropical connection, it will produce moderately heavy rain that is frequently punctuated by torrentially heavy rain. Have you ever seen a storm that produced steady, heavy rain that was punctuated by torrentially heavy downpours, drenched your location for five to ten minutes, and then passed, permitting the resumption of moderately heavy rain? The storm responsible for that moderately heavy to torrentially heavy rain may have had a connection to the tropics.

How does a nor'easter get a tropical connection? The nor'easters that develop in April and May can be fed by atmospheric rivers. These channels of water vapor can feed a nor'easter lots of moisture that can be rained out of the atmosphere. These nor'easters can produce moderately heavy rain punctuated by torrentially heavy downpours that would do a summertime cloudburst proud. A tropically connected nor'easter can dump as much as five to ten inches of rain in a day. A nor'easter dumped eight to twelve inches of rain on Southern New England on October 20, 1996. On June 8, 1998, a nor'easter dumped six to twelve inches of rain in the same area. Both were tropically connected nor'easters. In the western United States, atmospheric rivers occur from October to March. In the central and eastern U.S., atmospheric rivers occur from April to October.

Multiple Successive Nor'easters

This March has featured four nor'easters. Why have we had so many nor'easters over the last month? There has been a ridge in the West and a trough in the East. This pattern has been locked into place due to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). When the NAO is positive, there is a strong Bermuda/Azores high and a strong Icelandic high up in the North Atlantic. This results in a flat flow that is not conducive to storms.

When the NAO is negative, there is a huge high up by Greenland. That causes a ridge to form out in the Atlantic. This ridge has a corresponding trough in the eastern United States. This trough allows for the development of storms along the Gulf Coast that run up the Atlantic Coast of the U.S. That is why the weather has been so active this March.

If this pattern had set up when it was warmer, then we would have had a series of storms producing river flooding. With little time between storms, rivers flood to increasing extents with the passage of each storm. Multiple successive nor'easters have the potential to threaten the Northeast U.S. with round after round of severe river flooding. This is particularly true of storms that happen in rapid succession.



A. Braille Calendars

I am making some braille calendars to help people. What is different about them is that they are brailled on larger braille pages, and there is also space on each page to make your own notes and mark possible events so that you remember them, just as people do on print calendars. They are also good to help children and adults practice braille and learn how to use calendars. Teachers and parents can also create tactile drawings and other activities that they can stick or draw on the pages.

These calendars are brailled with a brailler. The price will be determined by talking to each interested customer first and finding out how much they can afford to pay. I will also braille recipes, words of songs, poems, stories, and other things that are not copyrighted, except computer and music braille. Whatever money I get will be used to help me attend the NFB convention and help others in some way. If anyone is interested, please private message me or email me at:

B. The Mystery of America: What I Learned and Love About This Country

Nonfiction by Jalil Mortazavi, C 2018 / 181 pages in print

Edited and formatted by David and Leonore Dvorkin, DLD Books (

In e-book ($3.99) and print ($11.95) on Amazon and other online buying sites.

The e-book is text-to-speech enabled.

Full details, cover, buying links, and free text preview:

Jalil Mortazavi was born in Iran in 1955. In 1976, he came to America, where a series of operations failed to restore his sight. With much help and kindness from others, plus plenty of hard work, he learned English, attained university degrees in communications and counseling psychology, and gained diverse work experience, including in the theatre and radio and as a court interpreter. Eventually, he also married and had a child; his young daughter, Diana, is pictured on the cover of the book with him. Today he works as a freelance journalist based in Boston.

Mr. Mortazavi has written this book out of gratitude to all those who assisted him and showed him such kindness, as well as to the country that became his new home. In it, he attempts to identify and then define the various elements of American society that he sees as unique and of special value. He calls those, collectively, the mystery of America. With joy, humor, and unfailing positivity, he paints a picture of America that we can all hope is at least part of our reality, as well as an ideal.

His previously published book is From Iran to America: Changes, Choices, and Challenges (C 2013). Details are on the author's website, linked to above.

C. The Paddy Stories: Book Two

Fiction by John Justice, C 2018 / 332 pages in print

In e-book ($4.99) and print ($15.95) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online booksellers.

Cover, free text preview, author bio, buying links, and more:

Oakland, California – the 1950s

From the protected environment of California School for the Blind, Pat Chandler enters an ordinary public high school, where he and his blind friend Carlos are a tiny minority. How will the teachers and other students treat them? Most of them have never met a blind person before.

For Pat and Carlos, challenges of this type are nothing new. Fortunately, Pat has Lucy Candelaria beside him. Her love and support, along with his own strength and determination, will give him the help he needs to succeed. In young Becky Simonson, Carlos finds a friend and loving companion as well. As time passes, they all develop new maturity and deserved self–confidence.

Naturally, as Pat grows into young adulthood, the issues he faces become more complex. The Paddy Stories: Book One featured the journey of the orphaned boy from Philadelphia to California, then his new life with Doreen and Bob Chandler, the loving aunt and uncle who adopted him. Book Two is filled with much hard work, a few confrontations, and many accomplishments for the young characters and their elders. Whatever the challenge, be it moving, remodeling, starting a business, or rescuing an abused classmate, they meet it with courage, creativity, and mutual support.

Throughout the book, music is central to the main characters' lives. Pat, Lucy, and Carlos gain  fulfillment and fame as the musical group "The Miracle." The beautiful piano on the cover is the same model featured in Chapter 9. There could be no better symbol of the art that brings Pat and his friends so much joy—and will for the rest of their lives.      

John Justice is also the author of the following three books:

It's Still Christmas (fiction, C 2015) 

The Paddy Stories: Book One (fiction, C 2016)

Love Letters in the Grand: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Big-City Piano Tuner (nonfiction, C 2017)

Full details are on his website. See the URL above. 

John's books were edited and formatted by David and Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services:  They also designed the covers.



Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Hello, readers. It is finally spring, and thanks to Daylight Saving Time, my dogs are confused about what time the kibble feast begins. Thankfully, dogs are experts at adapting. Another week, and all will be well.

Speaking of time, I often wonder how dogs interpret time. Is it set only by feeding times, or do dogs possess a highly developed body clock? We humans take our time cues from a highly advanced episodic time framework, which is one of the most unique characteristics of being human. Experts say that dogs have also developed a similar type of episodic time framework. Another cool fact is a dog's unique circadian rhythm. Humans tend to sleep in longer periods and mostly at night. Dogs, on the other paw, tend to sleep in shorter, more frequent periods during the day and at night. How cool is that?

Experts say that a dog keeping track of the time is also behaviorally focused, like knowing the kibble feast will begin soon after the sun is up and the birds begin chirping. My dogs know that after the 7 a.m. bus passes by, it's time to eat, and they become restless. This is an example of pattern recognition, and the canine is an expert at interpreting patterns and making associations. For instance, we pick up the leash and the dog goes to the door, connecting the object to the result, getting to go for a walk.

Patterning is a very useful tool for any working dog team. Guide dogs learn routes and destinations along the routes. One of the best tasks is being able to target the hotel room door or knowing just where the coffee shop is. I taught my dog a route from the office to the bank, and to the sandwich shop and back to the office. Once a dog learns a route and it is used frequently, one phrase will get you there.

I think animals have a deeper connection to time, and we could learn a thing or two about being reliable and punctual, especially when it involves tasty tidbits.

The article I referenced is

Ann Chiappetta, M.S. is an independent author and consultant. Her two books are Upwelling: Poems and Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust. They are in e-book and print on Amazon and other online buying sites. If you like, use the handy buying links on . Ann's personal website is

Follow Ann's blog:

Facebook: Annie Chiappetta 

Twitter: Anniedungarees

LinkedIn: Ann Chiappetta Iona College

Instagram: annie_bird_c



A Human Library Event

by Terri Winaught

In my May 2017 column, I introduced the Human Library by explaining that it was formed in Denmark in 2000, the purpose being to encourage youth to talk with each other as a way to stem gang violence. Although quelling youth violence was the initial focus, it has taken a different turn in Pittsburgh, where it is part of a nonprofit called the Consumer Health Coalition. The focus here is what it is like to navigate the behavioral health system, with the goals of breaking down stigma and promoting an empathic understanding of mental health issues.

On March 12, I used the Human Library storytelling framework to share my story. To do that, I started by coming up with an opener designed to introduce the theme and grab the listeners' attention. Since I entitled my presentation "People Like Me," I began by sharing that my favorite expression for people I like, love, and appreciate is, "You should be cloned!" I then shared the fact that in 1984, when I was in a Pittsburgh hospital's psych unit, I had a psychiatrist who sure didn't want more than one of me. In fact, my doctor informed me, "People like you shouldn't have children. Instead, they should get their tubes tied." Not knowing if this practitioner was referring to my blindness, my mental illness, or both, I asked what he meant. He quickly explained that he was referring to my serious mental illness, his philosophy being that people with mental issues should get their tubes tied so that they can't have children.

Since the next aspect of the Human Library storytelling framework is to share what makes one's story unique, I said that my combination of blindness and mental illness lent a different perspective on and perception of my situation. This meant that I shared not only my mental health struggle, but also what it is like to hear statements like, "You don't sound blind over the phone," and to be asked questions like, "Do blind people have sex like everyone else?"

I concluded by sharing how important my spirituality—specifically, my faith in Jesus Christ as a Savior—has been in my recovery, along with the therapy that transformed me from a person with angry, manipulative behaviors at my worst to a person who has had no hospitalizations since 1988 and who now works as a Mental Health Peer, sharing my lived experience and modeling recovery.

My final statement encouraged people to realize that recovery is possible, even from serious mental illness, and not to be afraid to make friends with people like me.

To learn more about the Human Library, visit To learn more about the Consumer Health Coalition, the Pittsburgh organization that spearheads the Human Library in Pittsburgh, go to and follow the links to the Human Library.

As always, I am eager to share your recovery story with the utmost respect and dignity, including the option to share anonymously. If this is a possibility you'd like to explore, please reach out to me as follows:

Home: 412-263-2022

Cell: 412-808-5656


Or write in braille to 915 Penn Ave., Apt. 307

Pittsburgh, PA 15222


11. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)

by Penny Fleckenstein


It is 4 a.m. I woke up at 2 a.m. and felt this urge to go downstairs and eat an apple. But then I took time to think. I thought, "If I go down and grab an apple, will I want more?" I wondered if I was really hungry. I decided to stay upstairs and fill my water. I've been reading, writing, and drinking water for the last two hours. I feel full and satisfied. I feel rejuvenated after journaling. I feel so proud of myself. How freeing it feels to not give into a whim. I took time to think and feel all my negative and positive feelings.

I have come to this point in my life through many hours of reading self-help books, taking online programs (such as How to Love Yourself, by Gay Hendricks, and Rori Raye's Complete Collection), Dr. Phil, and now, finally, joining a First Place 4 Health group. We women gather once a week for a health-related Bible study. I joined last year. So far, I've participated in Taste for Truth, Freedom from Emotional Eating, and now Lose It for Life. We pray for each other, support each other in our health goals, and walk together on occasion. At the completion of each course, we celebrate with a healthy meal and cooking demonstrations at a member's home. At our last celebration, we enjoyed cream of broccoli soup with Tastefully Simple bread, chicken lettuce wraps, and homemade yogurt with peach preserves and granola. We had some absolutely delicious rosé wine to accompany our meal. What a fantastic time of fellowship!

What I didn't know till just a couple of weeks ago is that First Place 4 Health is national. There are Christian women and men from all different denominations. I've been blessed by Matthew West's song "Mended." It's been an opportunity to learn, converse, study, and pray. It's dealing with more than weight loss. It's about helping with life, pain, difficulties, and my walk with God.

One difficulty I encountered this past week was during the Pittsburgh Friendship Group activity Mall Walk and Talk. I was shocked to learn that my bank had moved out of the mall. Banking I had counted on doing before 10:30 had to be postponed till I was at my home branch. When I got to my branch, I asked why I hadn't been informed of the move. I was told it wasn't my home branch. Although I was anxious about the delay in my deposit all day, it worked out.

During lunch, I sat across from Sylvia. She showed me an app called Pet to Give. Twice a day, the app opens. I petted a cat, which purred. You can choose to pet a dog or a bunny. The app donates food to animal rescue shelters.

This got me thinking about an app called Wellcoin. By making healthy choices, you can earn Wellcoins to receive gift cards. It doesn't have good reviews, and I haven't tried it myself. I do have a friend whose teenage son is quite successful with it.

My son Isaac has been working for Wag in Chicago, which is like Uber for dogs. When you want your dog walked, you send a request, and someone will come to walk your dog. You pay through the app. Isaac really enjoys being a dog walker and participating in Wag. If you're interested in having your dog walked by using Isaac's promo code, you get $25 off, and he can receive $50 for referring you. I imagine the rate varies depending on the city you're in.

Isaac walks dogs in Chicago, where he attends Moody Bible Institute.

May this spring give you many appealing opportunities to blossom. Many blessings to you!



by Karen Crowder

April arrives with a promise of warmer weather and longer days. With rising temperatures come the greening of lawns and the flowering of crocuses, forsythias, daffodils, and tulips. Across New England, fresh strawberries and asparagus are available in supermarkets.

In 2018, Easter is on April 1, which is also April Fool's Day. In the Catholic Church, the Easter season continues for 50 days. The season of Passover ends on April 10. Patriot's Day, the Boston Marathon, and a Red Sox game are on April 16.

Easter dinners are festive family celebrations, with delicious ham dinners and light desserts. During Passover, there are delicious side dishes, such as Filled Matzo Meal Pancakes.


A. Easter Maple Ham

B. Plain Breakfast Muffins

C. Filled Matzo Meal Pancakes

A. Easter Maple Ham

My late husband, Marshall, loved ham with mashed potatoes and vegetables on Easter Sunday. Since he did not care for pineapple, I created a recipe using maple syrup as one of the main ingredients.


One seven-pound spiral ham

Three-fourths cup orange juice

One-half cup real maple syrup

One-half teaspoon mustard

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

One teaspoon powdered cloves

One-fourth cup brown sugar

One-fourth teaspoon cinnamon

Note: Often a packet comes with the spiral ham with the spices and sugar in it.


1. In a 13x9 inch pan or deep roasting pan, measure out orange juice, maple syrup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Put the ham bone-side down on a rack, if you have one. Marinate it for 45 minutes.

2. Turn ham over and marinate the other side, with spirals in the marinade, for 45 minutes.

3. Turn ham over again and measure out the dry ingredients over the ham spirals.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

5. Cook ham for one hour and 20 minutes on bottom rack. If it is not done yet, cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and optional creamed onions. Bread or hot  rolls are delicious with the meal. I always served a light dessert of brownies or strawberry shortcake. Leftovers and homemade cookies always went home with my stepdaughters and their kids. Use leftover ham in sandwiches, fried for breakfast, in green pea soup, or for ham and cheese soup.

B. Plain Breakfast Muffins

This recipe is in memory of my friend Marion. We had these muffins one Easter Sunday at her home in Townsend, along with traditional blueberry coffee cake, for breakfast. She said, "These are delicious." Perkins often made plain muffins. I found a similar recipe in the 1979 Fannie Farmer cookbook


Two cups all-purpose flour

Three teaspoons baking powder

One-fourth teaspoon salt

Four to six tablespoons granulated sugar

Two eggs

One and one-quarter cup milk

Five tablespoons butter (not margarine)


1. In a large mixing bowl, put all dry ingredients. Stir to aerate them with a whisk for 30 seconds.

2. In a small mixing bowl, measure milk, room-temperature eggs, and melted, cooled butter.

3. Mix for two minutes with a wire or silicone whisk.

4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Mix muffin batter for two minutes. It should be smooth, but don't worry about a few lumps.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 to 16 muffin pan cups with Crisco. Pour one-third cup of batter into each cup. Sprinkle optional sugar over the top of each muffin.

6. Bake muffins for 35 minutes. With pans on the counter, take muffins out and turn them over.

Let them cool or serve them hot. If you are not serving them right away, put them in Ziploc bags and refrigerate them. Heat muffins for 10 minutes in a toaster oven at 350 degrees. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 20 seconds in a microwave oven. Serve them with butter.

C. Filled Matzo Meal Pancakes

This is a delicious meal often served during Passover. I am sure new Consumer Vision readers will enjoy it. This recipe was submitted in 2017 by Marcy Segelman, one of our columnists.


Five potatoes, cooked

One cup matzo meal

Three eggs

Two teaspoons salt

One-fourth teaspoon pepper

One-half pound boiled beef, chopped

One-half pound beef liver, optional


1. Peel and mash the cooked, hot potatoes. Add matzo meal, eggs, and seasonings. Make a soft dough and divide into ten pieces.

2. Mix beef and season to taste.

3. Roll out pieces of dough. Cover each piece with a spoonful of meat mixture. Fold dough over filling. Press edges together firmly. Fry until golden brown on each side for three to five minutes in peanut oil.

Makes seven to ten servings. Eat for breakfast or as a side dish.

I wish all Consumer Vision readers a happy April. For those who celebrate Easter or Passover, may these days be special after the cold, snowy winter we have had in the Midwest and Northeast.

Let us pray for a peaceful, trusting America.



by John and Linda Justice

Throughout our lives, we have had to make choices in every respect with our visual impairment in mind. Since we do this without thinking, it isn't something we dwell on. But what if we had grown up with perfect vision? How would our lives be different? The fact is, like it or not, we are different people because of our blindness.

For those who are blind at birth or at a very young age, schooling becomes the first challenge for parents. Some children were ripped from their family environments and sent hundreds of miles away to live in strange, restricted surroundings. Others experienced something called "mainstreaming," which involved sending them to public or private schools while providing specialized training based on their blindness. In either case, our impressions of the world around us were altered by a lack of visual perception. For normally sighted children, the only decision might involve sending them to a private or public school. No specialized training would be required in either case.

From the very beginning, we had to make choices about our careers based on what we could do as blind people. Personal strengths and talents were also included in that decision, but our choices were restricted by our acceptance, as visually impaired, by our chosen working environment. As a result, our choices were limited. Blindness compelled us to make career decisions we might not have made as perfectly sighted people.

But what if we had both had perfect vision?

John wanted to enter the military and follow in the footsteps of his ancestors. When he was drafted, he went to the recruitment office, hoping that there might be a way he could still serve. He wanted to be a radio operator, which wasn't a combat-based position. His blindness precluded his acceptance into the military in any capacity, and he moved on to other pursuits. As a perfectly sighted draftee, where would he be now, after 55 years?

Linda's dream was broadcasting. As anyone can tell you, a broadcaster has to start in small markets and work her way up to larger stations. Without sight, her inability to drive and operate now outdated equipment made it difficult for her to find any work at all. In many cases, she was rejected out of hand by management who couldn't imagine her working the station alone. But, like John, she refused to give up and tried other positions that would make the best use of her abilities. If she had had perfect vision, where would Linda be now, after 35 years?

Life is made up of many decisions. Everyone, blind or not, is a product of those choices. Where would John be now? Would he have met Linda? Would he still be living in the Philadelphia area? Would he have become a musician and then a piano tuner? Would Linda have ever gone to Little Rock, Arkansas? Would she have ever met John? Would she have stayed in broadcasting? There's an old saying that seems to fit this situation: "Life is like a river. You either move with the flow or drown." We're both still swimming along together.

John and Linda Justice

With guide dogs Edwin and Calypso

Personal e-mail:

John is the author of four published books. Three are fiction, and one is nonfiction. His fourth book, The Paddy Stories: Book Two, has just been published. For details, see letter C above under Special Notices and his book-related website:




by Marcy J. Segelman

Shalom to everyone. This is a special time. It is not often that Passover and Easter occur at the same time. This year, Passover begins at sundown on March 30, 2018 (5778 in the Jewish calendar) and continues through April 7. Passover is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. It commemorates the biblical story of the Exodus, when the Hebrew slaves were released from bondage in Egypt. Called "Pesach" in Hebrew, Passover is a celebration of freedom and is celebrated for seven days in Israel and for eight days in the Diaspora (outside of Israel).

The Passover Seder

Each year, the Jewish people retell the Passover story by reading the Haggadah. This takes place during the Passover seder, which is a service held in the home as part of the Passover celebration. It is observed on the first night of Passover, and in some homes, on the second night as well. The word "seder" literally means "order" in Hebrew. The name comes from the fact that there are 15 parts of the ritual service. I myself do two seders.

At the seder, it is traditional for every person to see himself or herself as if he or she were going out to Egypt. Being with our ancestors, we recount the Jewish people's descent into Egypt and recall their suffering and persecution. We are with them as G-d sends the Ten Plagues to punish Pharaoh and his nation, and we follow along as they leave Egypt and cross the Sea of Reeds. We witness the miraculous hand of G-d as the waters part to allow the Israelites to pass to freedom. On the table is a seder plate with six symbolic foods to remember our slavery and freedom.

In some homes, the cup of Miriam is also used; that's a new tradition. The cup is passed around the table and filled with water to symbol hope. At least, this is what the female leader said. I know there is more, so I'll find out.


One of the most significant observances related to Passover involves avoiding chametz (leaven) throughout the holiday. This commemorates the fact that the Israelites leaving Egypt were in a hurry and did not have time to let their bread rise. Eating matzo and other unleavened foods is also a symbolic way of removing the "puffiness" (arrogance, pride) from our souls.

I hope you enjoyed the above.


Marcy J. Segelman



Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the March Consumer Vision. The author of the book Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining (C 1997) was Judge Judy Sheindlin. Congratulations to the following winners:

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Daryl Darnell of Urbana, Illinois

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Robert Feinstein of Brooklyn, New York

Jean Marcley of Brenda, Arizona

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Amy Stefanik of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Steve Théberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

Barbara Zuwala of Rock Island, Illinois

And now, here is your trivia question for this month's Consumer Vision. On the television series Leave it to Beaver, what was the name of the cat that kept coming back to the Cleaver household because Beaver continued to feed him? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.