December 2017

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

Phone: 508 994 4972



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.

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



3. HEALTH MATTERS: Why Greek Yogurt is Bad for the Environment *** by Leonore Dvorkin

4. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: The Essay of Trust, the Sacred Investment *** by Dennis R. Sumlin.

5. TECH CORNER: The Ghost of Christmas Past: History of Technology Stocking Stuffer Wish Lists *** by Stephen Andre Théberge

6. THE MOUNT EVEREST OF EQUALITY: The Legacy of Accessible Prescription Labeling *** by Brian J. Coppola

7. WEATHER OR NOT: Nor'easters, Ice Storms, Blizzards and Floods *** by Steve Roberts

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

9. TURNING POINT: Part Two of Mental Health First Aid *** by Terri Winaught


10. SPECIAL NOTICES: The Demmies: A Novel, by Ann K. Parsons *** submitted by Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books

11. READERS'FORUM *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco

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

13. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder.

14. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH *** by Marcy Segelman





Hello, Consumer Vision Readers.

As always, I hope that this letter finds you doing well. I especially hope that our U.S. readers had a blessed Thanksgiving, with a lot for which to feel thankful.

As I now look forward to the Christmas Hanukkah Kwanzaa holiday season, there is much to which I am looking forward.

As someone who sings in a Catholic church choir, I will be singing during Sunday Mass, leading the singing at the Christmas Eve Vigil service, at Midnight Mass, and at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Christmas morning. Since I would also like to lead carol singing at at least one and preferably two Christmas dinners, I just hope I'll have voice left for prayer and praise through song.

If any of you will be just as busy celebrating holiday traditions, here's hoping your time will be festive and sacred.

On a different note, I hope you will continue to give feedback on what is good about Consumer Vision and what you'd like to see improved. For example, a reader recently gave feedback on how she'd like to see headings used and formatted differently to make searching easier. Though I can't promise to implement the recommended changes, I shared and discussed them with publisher Bob Branco, proofreader Leonore Dvorkin, and formatter David Dvorkin.

Some time ago, another reader asked for more independent living items. To try and incorporate that as an improvement, I emailed a former rehabilitation teacher with no success. If any of you would still like more independent living submissions, let me know and I will gladly reach out again.

To contact me with feedback, comments and suggestions, my home number is 412 263 2022, and my cell, which you can call or text, is 412 209 9818. Finally, if you prefer email correspondence, that address is

To conclude, I would like to thank everyone whose hard work and creative efforts not only make Consumer Vision possible, but also keep this monthly magazine growing and improving.

Thanks for reading with me. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, I wish you joy and peace, along with my interest in reading any celebratory notes you'd like to share.


Terri Winaught



For this month's edition of Consumer Vision, there were two articles submitted that were taken verbatim and in their entirety from other publications. According to Fair Use laws, this is not permitted, even with full attribution. You may of course review or summarize an article, and you may paraphrase parts of it. You may quote short parts of it. But you cannot copy the entire article and submit it for publication elsewhere, even if you say who the author is and where and when it was published.

For more details, see this article on the Fair Use rule:

Please note that the music industry is even stricter. You may not quote even one line from a song without written permission from the publishers of the song. We know this from previous research that we have had to do in connection with our editing work. We are DLD Books:



Why Greek Yogurt is Bad for the Environment

by Leonore Dvorkin

Copyright December 5, 2017

You have probably heard or read many enthusiastic promotions of Greek (often called Greek style) yogurt. Many news sources seem to be touting it as some kind of superfood, with the implication that it is far superior to regular yogurt which is not really true, as you will see. 

It's been known for a few years, now, that the product has its dark side. That is, its production is very harmful to the environment. Here, I have set out to summarize some of the nutritional information I found online and some of the information on the product's downside.

In an article called  5 Benefits of Greek Yogurt (and how it compares to regular yogurt), by Helen West, RD, on 2/8/17 for Healthline Newsletter and Authority Nutrition, I found the following information. Greek yogurt is higher in calories, fat, and protein than regular yogurt. It's lower in carbs, but slightly lower in calcium. It also contains less lactose. Both types contain similar amounts of Vitamins A and B12, and both types contain probiotics, which are good for gut health. So, obviously, both types of yogurt are good for you.

The surging popularity of Greek yogurt seems to be based mainly on the fact that it's higher in protein than the regular type. Yet most Americans get plenty of protein in their diets, with some saying that the average American consumes too much protein. I'm sure that I get plenty, as I eat pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, assorted nuts and nut butters, beans, and many dairy products, including milk, regular yogurt, butter, and kefir. I also use whey powder that is sweetened with stevia. Thus I do not need and am not interested in a product that offers me few advantages over regular yogurt and is terrible for the environment. In addition, it's almost twice as expensive as regular yogurt.

Now I will explain the title of this article and tell you what I prefer to eat.

To make Greek yogurt, the whey is strained out of it. Whey is the watery part of milk. The result is a product that tastes much like regular yogurt but is thicker and creamier. Whether one likes or dislikes that texture is a matter of personal taste. I much prefer the thinner, soupy (pourable) texture of an Australian style yogurt called Wallaby. I love the deliciously tart, plain lowfat variety. One cup of that contains 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, only 125 mg of sodium, and an impressive 11 grams of protein. I most often eat about one half cup of it at a time, often adding to it a handful of mixed nuts, perhaps some chopped fresh fruit, a sprinkling of cinnamon (that helps lower blood sugar), and a dash of vanilla extract. If I want any sweetener, I add a few drops of liquid stevia, Stevita brand.

I read several articles on Greek yogurt's downside. One was called  Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt's Dark Side, by Justin Elliott, 5/22/13, for Modern Farmer. He tells us that for every three or four ounces of milk, companies can produce only one ounce of Greek yogurt. The rest becomes acid whey. This cannot just be dumped, because when whey decomposes, it's toxic to the environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers and destroying aquatic life over large areas.

What to do with the tens of millions of gallons of whey that are produced every year? It can be mixed with silage and fed to cows, but too much is not good for them, as it upsets their digestive systems. It can be mixed with manure and used as fertilizer, but the run off is acidic. It can even be converted to biogas for electricity, but the set ups for that cost millions of dollars each, thus are out of reach for small farm operations. This article concludes with one yogurt producer saying,  If we can figure out how to handle acid whey, we'll become a hero. Personally, I'm not waiting for that. Instead, I'm doing my small part by refusing to buy Greek yogurt and by informing others of its dangers.

Another article I read was  4 Ways Greek Yogurt is Destroying Our Planet, by Abigail Geer, 3/25/14, for One Green Planet. She also tells of incidents of illegal whey dumping and the resulting death of plants and fish; over 5,000 fish were killed along just 1.5 miles of an Ohio creek in 2008 due to an acid whey dump. She talks about farmers buying the whey to mix into feed for animals and into fertilizer for the land, but this increases the overall acidity of the farms, and the dangerous run off washes into waterways.

A third article I read was  There's a Downside to All that Greek Yogurt You're Eating, by Matt Smith, 3/13/15, for VICE News. He informs us that acid whey has a pH comparable to tomato juice, wine, or acid rain. (Other articles I read referred to acid whey as  the new acid rain. ) For every 7,000 gallons of milk used to produce Greek yogurt, as much as 4,900 gallons of acid whey are produced.

Smith points out that acid whey, which often rises to the top of a container of regular yogurt before it's opened, is far from toxic. It's tart, but it won't burn your tongue, and it's high in protein and calcium. When I open my container of Wallaby yogurt, there is always some liquid on the top. I've never tasted just it, but rather stir it into the container. That must be what adds some of the tartness that I like.

There is much more information online on this topic; the above is just a tiny taste, as it were. I hope you will do your own investigating. Just Google  why Greek yogurt is bad for the environment, and numerous articles will come right up. Then the decision as to what to buy and eat is your own. //

About the Author

Leonore H. Dvorkin is a regular contributor to this newsletter, as well as its proofreader and secondary editor. She is the author of four published books, both fiction and nonfiction, plus numerous articles, mainly on the topics of health, nutrition, and fitness. She is an award winning weight training instructor and has taught weight training since 1976. She also works as a tutor of Spanish and German, teaching in her home and via Skype for $20 per hour for a private lesson. Her website is .

Since 2009, Leonore and her husband, the prolific author David Dvorkin, have been editing books by other authors and preparing those books for publication in e book and print formats. Most of their clients are blind or visually impaired; Bob Branco and many of the past and present contributors to this newsletter are among them. David and Leonore's business is now DLD Books: .

Leonore's email is . She welcomes your questions or comments on anything she writes or inquiries regarding her services.



Three: The Essay of Trust, the Sacred Investment

by Dennis R. Sumlin

To trust is to rely on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing. Trust is one of the most sacred of values. When we trust somebody, we are open to them. We are confident that this person will keep our secrets, be respectful with our emotions, and show unwavering loyalty.

It can take a long, long time to be able to trust another person. Trust is built over time, through life's ups and downs. Some people are able to establish unbreakable trust bonds, while others find it difficult to trust anybody.

The Dynamics of Trust

When that sacred bond of trust is broken, the connection between the people involved is in great danger. A string of trust violations from multiple people can leave you jaded and feeling lonely. Rebuilding such a bond is hard, and in some cases, impossible.

How can you build trust with another person? How do you go about showing that you can be endowed with that kind of investment?

1. Be honest. Your word needs to be your bond. You earn trust when nobody can doubt your word.

2. Be reliable. Trust is built when people know that they can rely on each other. Honor your commitments, and walk how you talk.

3. Show respect. Everybody wants to be respected. Don't run your mouth, pass gossip, or become overly judgmental.

Now, here is the burning question. Do you trust yourself?

Yes, as important as it is for you to have somebody whom you can trust, it is doubly important for you to trust in yourself. The lack of trust in yourself is a sign of earthquake like consequences. The honor you give others should be the same honor you give yourself. If trust is important for you, then kick your self trust game up a few thousand notches.

If you place trust in others but not yourself, are you saying that you are not a person? Are you saying that you are not worthy? Stop it!

Establishing Self Trust

1. Keep promises to yourself. Just as you would keep your word to your brother, girlfriend, or best friend, keep your word to yourself.

2. Don't be a quitter. Do not give up on yourself. If you fail at something, try again. If you need to learn a skill, learn it! Be there for yourself. Don't turn your back!

3. Stay self aware. Learn who you are. Look at yourself from the outside, and understand what makes you who you are.

There is nothing wrong with being a copycat. All the things that you bless your friends with, mirror it back to yourself. If you can't even trust yourself, then do you really trust others?

Building self trust can be hard. You may want to check out my coaching program to help you: . Or get a friend to give you some input. However you do it, give yourself that sacred honor of trust.



The Ghost of Christmas Past: History of Technology Stocking Stuffer Wish Lists

by Stephen Andre Théberge

In June, Verizon had a deal for the iPhone 7 that I couldn't pass up. There were two years to pay for it, with no interest. After two years, I can trade in my phone for an upgrade. Of course, the phone won't be worth much then.

I got it in time for the Perkins Annual Alumni Weekend. It was then that my  addiction to social media began. Besides the many entertaining things I can do with it, I have found it very useful on the job. I will probably write a future article devoted to the iPhone.

For me, Alumni Weekend and Christmas are the major highlights of my year. I get to see old friends in June, and in December, I get to see family. We don't emphasize presents so much anymore. I did feel that my iPhone was an early Christmas present to myself.

I have been thinking of what kinds of technology we've wished for since I was born in 1963. Okay, so now you all know how old I am. Not a spring chicken. In my nearly 55 years, a lot of changes have occurred. It seems we were satisfied with the simpler things. Indeed, in comparison to today, technology was much simpler.

The biggest technologies when I was growing up were radio and television. I never wanted my own TV set, as watching television was a social event. We'd all gather around and enjoy shows on the limited channels. I missed old time radio, but it was a treat to listen to all kinds of programs.

In the early '70s, I got a transistor radio for Christmas. That was the height of my stocking stuffer wishes. My parents finally agreed to get a color TV. I got the sense that, just as today, people got the latest and greatest to keep up with the Joneses.

Just as today, the radio I got had its downside. I used to listen to Mystery Theater on it in bed at Perkins School. Many people got caught and were probably punished. I cleverly had my earphone plugged in and lay on that side so they wouldn't see what I was doing.

Another milestone came at Christmas of 1976. Not only did we get a white Christmas, where the snow started when we were opening our gifts, but I got a calculator. I no doubt talked about it all year to my parents. I had learned to use an abacus to do math. People used to argue about whether it was a calculator. If you don't know how to use an abacus or a calculator, for that matter it is useless. However, you don't have to do the math with a calculator. An abacus requires conscious thought. It is a low tech device.

Early on, we had a very simple video game on a black-and-white TV. I guess my limited sight prevented me from becoming a video game junkie. I did play from time to time. By the late '70s, video arcades were the rage. I used to love playing a driving game. You'd actually sit down and have a steering wheel and gas pedal. You had to avoid obstacles. When my brother took me to a  lot to drive a real car and I almost hit a tree, I realized that there probably was a good reason I couldn't get a driver's license.

By the early '80s, rudiments of personal computers were about. My dad got me a Sinclair computer, if I recall the name correctly. The keyboard and screen were so small, I couldn't see using it. I always dreamed of personal computers for Christmas. They were relatively expensive, so it never materialized. It was worth waiting until 1987 when I had my first job to get one.

I think the only common wish-list items that are still the same are the big items. People always want new cars, televisions, washers, dryers, and those luxury items. Of course, all these items have changed form. We used to turn knobs. After a while, they were push buttons. Now, the rage is touch screen. For the blind and visually impaired, the device needs to talk. There are many more talking items out there, now. just had two relevant podcasts that are archived. Many companies for the blind had all kinds of technology.

The choice of items we wanted Santa to put in our stockings or under the tree was very limited, yet we were happy with them. It's not only that we want a new smartphone, but we have so many choices, now. We are even brand loyal. Never get into an argument with a Samsung phone user if you have an iPhone. My brother told me on Thanksgiving,  iPhones suck. I have never used a Samsung, and I have heard that they are accessible for the blind, but the general consensus is that the iPhone is more so. That will have to be taken up in another article.

I have compared the past to now in other articles. The holidays are still a special time. I kind of like going retro. I like the old music, movies, and shows that celebrate the season. It is always time for family and friends.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, season's greetings, and anything else I might have forgotten. Regardless of what you do or don't do this time of year, good health and happiness to all.

Follow me on twitter at @speechfb  Since my article last month, I have over 700 followers.

Read and post on my writer's blog:

Check out my coming of age science fiction book, The MetSche Message. For full details, see my book-related Web page:

Watch my YouTube channel for many blindness-related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts:



The Legacy of Accessible Prescription Labeling

by Brian J. Coppola

The letter below is a note that I put into the box with a demonstration unit of the first Scriptalk patient reader that allowed the blind to read prescription labeling. This was in the early 2000s, as I began my journey toward getting a law passed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to mandate that health insurance companies that have prescription coverage in their policies must cover the cost of medically necessary devices able to read aloud information contained on a prescription label for those who were blind or visually impaired.

Although I did not invent either of the first two devices that did this, Scriptalk and the Talking RX digital recording devices, it was then"Senator Steven A. Baddour, of Methuen, Massachusetts and I who spearheaded the legislative effort to make the above"mentioned a mandated health insurance benefit by law.

The first few times, the bill was stuck in the Joint Committee on Financial Services, where it was stonewalled. During the 2007 2008 legislative session, the Bay State Council of the Blind was able to get together a cost analysis to show the committee that providing this mandated coverage was more cost"effective than paying for the costs of unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations that resulted from blind people being unable to read medication labeling and making mistakes with medication compliant regimens. Mistakes sometimes resulted in hospital visits, long-term care, or even death. Even the old ways of managing medications became ineffective, thus leading to the evolution of technology like the Scriptalk, the Talking Pill Minder, and the Talking RX.

While there was a resolution put forward in a convention held by the Bay State Council of the Blind to advocate for this type of legislation, there was also something of a blame game going on, such as blaming the insurance company lobbyists. But, on the other hand, I also found out through my own encounters on this journey that the blind community in and of itself did not have any interest in advocating for legislation of this sort. The general attitude from them was either  I have a visiting nurse who can do this for me or  I have family members who can do this for me.

I encountered this attitude on the part of a blind woman who had something happen to her due to a medication mix"up, one that landed her in the hospital on two occasions. She had episodes of going psychotic because of the medication mix up and was hospitalized once for three weeks and another time for one week. I met her at a blind camp in upstate New York. She told me her story as I was giving a talk on the legislation. I tried to get her to come forward to talk to the legislature about her situation. At times she was willing and said that she would help because people could die. But then she said,  Oh, I have my mother doing this for me. Just as people with vision take for granted that they are going to have their sight, some people in the disability community also take for granted that mommy and daddy or the visiting nurse will always be there, or even that the PCA is going to be there. But just as technology can fail, visiting nurses, PCAs, and mommy and daddy can make mistakes, or something happens to them so that they end up not being around. Therefore, it is very important for disabled persons, including the blind, to learn to be as independent as possible.

Here is the note that I referred to above.

Dear Mr. Phil Raystrict and Mr. David Raystrict, CEO and Vice CEO of En Vision America,

As I return the demonstration model of the first"ever model of the Scriptalk machine to you, I hope that you will consider getting it working again. It is my hope that someday, I will hear on the news that it has been placed into the Smithsonian Museum for the rest of society to get a glimpse of history on how the movement for blind people to be able to safely and independently read prescription medication labels has evolved over the past two decades.

This piece of work would be a treasure for future generations of children, grandchildren, and even newly blind children to get a look at in such a national museum.

I hope that you will give the idea some serious consideration.

With warm regards,

Brian J. Coppola

400 Merrimack Street, Methuen, Mass 01844 5802

978"702 9403



Nor'easters, Blizzards, Ice Storms, and Floods

by Steve Roberts

To most people, a nor'easter is a huge winter storm that brings great snows to the Middle Atlantic and northeast United States. A nor'easter is a chameleon of a maelstrom. A nor'easter can be anything from the remnants of a hurricane to a storm called a winter hurricane, or wintercane.

Though nor'easters are storms that are native to the North Atlantic, many nor'easters owe their birth to conditions in the Pacific. Systems that come into the Pacific Northwest can reorganize off the Atlantic Coast of the United States, impacting the Middle Atlantic as nor'easters. A low in the central United States reaches the Appalachian Mountains and hands its energy over to a secondary low pressure center east of North Carolina. Cold air from Canada and warm air from the Gulf of Mexico conspire to form this low pressure center. As the low moves north, it intensifies.

The impact a nor'easter has is determined by the track it takes along the coast. An inside runner tracks to the west of the big cities, causing warm air to work in from the Atlantic Ocean. These storms impact the big cities and their northwest suburbs with cold rain. Some in meteorology refer to these as sou'easters.

A coastal hugger is a nor'easter that tracks over the big cities. Storms that track in this way will produce heavy rain on the coast and great snows just a few miles inland. Twenty miles can mean the difference between bone chilling rain and a foot or more of snow. These can be some of our most impactful nor'easters because of the diversity of impacts that they deliver.

The outside runner, otherwise referred to as a classic nor'easter, tracks to the east of the big cities. Storms that track in this way will produce very heavy snow from the mountains to the coast. These storm systems can produce a widespread deposit of one foot or more of snow, closing activities throughout the region.

Nor'easters can cause blizzards. When a southern stream system over Texas merges with a northern stream system, like an Alberta clipper, the result can be bomb-o-genesis. These bomb cyclones can produce snowfall of one to two inches per hour, whipped around by winds of 35 50 mph or greater. There are bomb cyclones that are fiercer than that. Bomb cyclones are responsible for the lion's share of blizzards in the Northeast.

Ice storms can be a result of nor'easters. If you get cold rain falling into a layer of subfreezing air, the result can be freezing rain. Freezing rain, if it persists, can result in an ice storm. Ice storms have the potential to plunge millions of people into darkness as the ice weighs on power lines.

Nor'easters can produce widespread, catastrophic floods. If a rain bearing nor'easter sits on top of your area for three or four days, the result can be river flooding. Nor'easters that stall can produce three to six inches of rain or more. If a nor'easter has a tropical hookup, then that nor'easter will produce a lot of rain owing to moderately heavy rainfall that is punctuated by torrentially heavy downpours. If that nor'easter coincides with the rapid meltdown of a deep and expansive snow pack, then you can get epic flooding, as you have water coming from two separate sources.

If a nor'easter produces five inches of rain, and the snow pack releases five inches of water, then you have ten inches of water. The combined impact of melt water from snow and rainfall can result in a net hydrologic impact that is comparable to a foot or more of rainfall, assuming six to eight inches of rain with six to eight inches of liquid equivalent in the snow pack. Nor'easters have produced the biggest blizzards, ice storms, and floods the northeastern United States has ever seen.



Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Hello, readers.

This month, I'd like to share a little bit more about the process of being matched with a guide dog. Anthropologists tell us that early man and dog met tens of thousands of years ago out of mutual need. Since that time, the two have developed a bond unrivaled by any other animal and human partnership.

The matching process which occurs for guide dog teams is based on the science of both human and canine behaviors, but also has something else that I like to refer to as magic. The professional instructors keep this close to the chest, and I wouldn't ask them to divulge any more of it than is necessary for the unindoctrinated to understand. I mean, who wants to give away a process that's been working for close to 100 years and probably longer? Just imagine the sheep herders of the distant past and how their dogs worked with them and protected them from predators. This was a partnership formed of mutuality and need. The ultimate working relationship is, of course, the military handler and dog, where the team risks injury or worse each time they take point on patrol.

Getting back to less perilous situations, in guide and service dog terms, the magic of the match has been a mystery. I've heard instructors explain it many times, and yet there is a part of the process which defies explanation. The concrete side of the matching process has been explored and recorded in journals and scores of conversations during panel discussions. The subject is also popular when working a new dog or in the quieter, more convivial moments when getting to know a new dog. The ever elusive question is, why did they match me with this dog? Being blind is part of it. The loss of vision makes the first step possible. Moving on, it's not just about how fast one walks, the location and regular routes taken, and geographical challenges like transit centers, street crossings, etc. It is more than this. It is a judgment call based on the information we provide to the instructors, both verbally and non verbally. It is developed during daily obedience practice, training walks, settling down for dinner, and play time. Each handler has many of the same requirements but most likely an equal share of unique requirements, as well. I am not an instructor, nor do I profess to know how to evaluate a person's needs in terms of a guide dog. I do know, however, what I've observed from over ten years of being among other handlers and instructors. I can only express how my needs were met and how my new dog has been a great match.

Moreover, instructors listen to our hopes and dreams, not just what we need at the time. They see our potential with each training walk. Instructors witness transformations and the rise of confidence. When it is all completed, the beauty of a good match is the result. How can one explain it? Simply put, it is magic.

Here's to acknowledging the time and dedication of the individuals who help make the magic happen and letting them know I won't give away the secret. :-)

May you and your family have a bountiful Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season.

Author Ann Chiappetta & Guide Dog Bailey

Purchase my new book, FOLLOW YOUR DOG: A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST, at  or learn more about me by going to

FOLLOW YOUR DOG is available in e-book ($3.99) and print ($11.95) from Amazon and multiple other online sellers. The e-book is text-to-speech enabled. 



Part Two of Mental Health First Aid

by Terri Winaught

The focus of this additional article on Mental Health First Aid provides information on what Mental Health First Aiders learn and what makes receiving this training so important.


To recap, I mentioned in my initial submission that Mental Health First Aiders are neither therapists nor diagnosticians. Rather, they are caring individuals who use their training to give support to someone experiencing a mental health crisis until professional help arrives, if needed, or until the natural supports of family and friends are available.

This eight hour training is facilitated by instructors who have received extensive, intensive training and certification. Although I have never been told whether these experienced trainers volunteer or get paid, I have taken Mental Health First Aid several times, and it has always been free.

One national organization through which individuals can be trained is the National Alliance for Mental Illness, more frequently referred to as NAMI. To learn more about NAMI, including their free training opportunities, visit If you live in Southwestern Pennsylvania, you can also phone 412 366 3788 or visit An additional website on which training opportunities and locations are listed is:


By becoming a Certified Mental Health First Aider, you will learn how parents can explain mental illness to their children, how to recognize the possibility that someone might be experiencing a crisis, and how to respond to a crisis by assessing for risk of harm or suicide, listening non"judgmentally, giving support and reassurance, encouraging a person to access professional help if needed, and encouraging the use of natural supports like family and friends. This formula for intervening in a crisis is known as ALGEE.

In addition to this evidence based and interactive training, trainees also receive a manual and a Where To Call directory. Because I have always been given the above mentioned resources in standard print, I do not know if they are available in accessible formats. Though I have asked several times, none of the instructors had an answer. That being the case, I will continue to research the accessibility aspect, which I consider vitally important.


A Connecticut police officer shared on that he was skeptical when he first heard about Mental Health First Aid. After one of his officers was able to use his training to calm a youth who was lunging at officers and wielding a knife, he was convinced that Mental Health First Aid saves lives.

Yet another testimony to this life saving skill set was shared by a woman who used her training to save a distraught individual who was trying to jump off a New York City subway platform.

Still another life was saved when a police officer rescued from an icy pond a 56 year old woman who wanted to commit suicide because she was so devastated by a recent divorce. It is worth noting here that someone in the United States attempts suicide every 12.5 seconds, with 30,000 Americans succeeding annually at this most severe manifestation of depression.

Since Mental Health First Aid, which was developed by two nurses in Australia in 2000 and brought to the United States in 2008, 13 million Americans have completed this life saving training.

If you'd like to add yourself to that impressive list, contact your local NAMI chapter, or



A. The Demmies: A Novel

A new book by Ann K. Parsons, C 2017

In e-book ($3.99) and print ($17.95) from Amazon and multiple other online sellers.

The e-book is text-to-speech enabled. The print book is 446 pages long.

Full details and handy buying links:

Please note: If you go right to Amazon to get the book, rather than using the buying link on the author's website, which is given just above, type in  The Demmies in quotation marks. Otherwise, you will probably get directed to the series of Dummies how-to books.


The demmies were the public's darlings, but they led a double life. By day, they posed for pictures, were guests on TV shows, and helped to increase knowledge about genetic engineering by taking part in scientific experiments. By night, they faced Dr. Albert Lud's unauthorized experiments and his torture.

Was there something better for the genetically engineered, foot-high humans? Could they escape? If they did, could they find food, shelter, and freedom from the ogre who tormented them? Could they trust any of the "big folk" to help them? These were some of the questions that kept Alex Kenyon awake at night.

His daughter Ruth wondered what made a human being. Was it size? Was it intelligence? Was it belief in God? What made her know she was a human being, even though only nine inches tall?

This is the story of how Alex's and Ruth's questions are answered.

B. A nice price reduction:

DLD Books is announcing a price reduction for The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse, by Susan Bourrie. The e-book and the print edition have each been reduced in price by $1.00. The new prices are $2.99 for the e-book and $6.95 for the print edition. Both versions are for sale on Amazon and multiple other online buying sites.

For full details of this charming, Christmas-themed book for children, plus a free 10% text preview, see:  

C. A seasonal bargain:

Between now and January 7, David L. Faucheux is offering $2.00 off the price of the e-book version of his fabulously informative first book. Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile is over 500 pages long in print. It's packed with personal details, fascinating facts of many sorts, and over 200 brief book reviews. Get the e-book now for only $2.99! For full details and a free 10% text preview, see:   



I am writing in response to Steve Théberge's column about Twitter. I agree that advertising is saturating our lives, and unless you have the big bucks to pay for it, you are lost in the shuffle. It doesn't matter what the product is. We are surrounded by ads. Not only do I hear commercials between innings of a Red Sox baseball game, but the announcers are now required to advertise during the inning. Some pitching changes, trips to home plate, and other parts of the play by play are now sponsored.

I relate Twitter to Internet Radio. With Twitter, it is very difficult for you to corner the market when it is shared by millions of others. It is also hard to take control of the Internet Radio market because thousands upon thousands of people are trying to share an infinite amount of cyberspace. Let me put it this way. If there are 5 million people trying to share 5 trillion cookies, how can you corner the cookie market as an individual? It is called saturation.

Steve is correct. How many people who advertise on social media are really successful?

Bob Branco


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

by Penny Fleckenstein

This year, we were spoiled by a lingering October summer, and now it is November. We've been plummeted into winter weather with an extremely cold and windy Halloween, and just recently, there was snow. No accumulation as of yet, but winter is definitely here. I can feel the bitterness in the air. What a difference one month makes! Here we are in the midst of the holiday season, with Christmas quickly approaching.

This Thanksgiving was the most organized, smoothest Thanksgiving I've ever experienced in my household. Thanksgiving donations of food and time helped immensely. Ahead of time, we cooked real mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spiedie sauce, and vegetable stock made in the pressure cooker. We bought a huge pumpkin pie from Sam's Club for $5.98, saving us money, time, and labor. The only glitches were that our turkey wasn't completely thawed and I forgot to buy French fried onions for the green bean casserole. All went smoothly, and turkey, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, turkey gravy, vegetarian gravy, and tofu spiedies made it to the dinner table on time. My daughter, Penny; her husband, Jordan; my grandson, Alex; my sons Isaac and Eric, and I enjoyed the day and the meal. My guide dog, Bryanna, and my daughter's dog, Dobby, chewed on bully sticks (bull penises) while we ate and drank. For beverages, we had apple cider and Welch's grape and cherry juice. We were too full to drink the blueberry wine I had purchased for the occasion. We might drink it at Christmas.

Clean"up went fairly well. For heavy"duty dirty, as in cleaning up after a big meal, I get out the Fabuloso spray and washcloths.

For lighter duty, I bought e cloths from, which sanitize and clean with just hot water. Each cloth is labeled. I bought the starter kit, which has a cloth for the kitchen, stovetop, all purpose, bathroom, dusting, glass, and two polishing cloths with which you dry the surfaces after washing them with hot water. In my next Frontier order, I have an e cloth mop, two mopheads, and two more starter kits. I am so excited to be able to live more of a chemical"free life. It'll save me money and time. Currently, I have an O"Cedar mop with two washable mopheads. I am excited to finally be able to do a lot of my cleaning with just water. It has been my dream for years.

There is a brand of cloths made by Norwex that are more expensive and do a better job than e cloths. However, for the price difference, I decided to try e cloths first. Later, I will purchase Norwex cloths. I have a tendency to lean towards the best, but I also like the best for the price.

One of the things I do, which I probably have never mentioned because it's so natural for me, is I carry around a container of hot water that I dump and refill as needed. I use the water in this container to wipe my surfaces off and to clean the refrigerator. I am rarely without this container of hot water, which I replenish often. I believe good cleaning means plenty of fresh, clean, hot water. I don't consider an item clean until it feels nice and smooth. Most of the time, it takes more than a quick once"over to clean a surface thoroughly. I finish by drying.

My dishwasher wasn't getting my dishes clean. It befuddled me since we had just gotten it in July. I changed my settings from normal wash to heavy wash and added steam. I now have perfectly clean dishes all the time. The cycle takes four and a half hours. It is worth it.

I go to a women's Bible Study named One Healthy Place. We are doing Lose It for Life, by Steve Arterburn, which is available on In its pages, it suggests we think about the food and drink we're about to eat or drink before we consume it. I was really hungry for a chocolate bar, so before I ate it, I asked Zachary to read the label to me. I wanted to make sure it was the kind of chocolate bar I was craving. It was a bar of soap from a hotel. I'm glad I thought about what I wanted to eat before I ate it. I told Zachary's dad about the mistake I had avoided, and he admitted to me that he was ready to eat my dishwasher tablets before Zachary stopped him.

Thank you to Jens Naumann from Namibia and Susan Jones for their kind letters. Hearing from my readers gives me so much joy. May all of you be filled with joy this Holiday season and have a Merry Christmas.

Emails are welcome:

Feel free to check out my blog:



by Karen Crowder

As December arrives, there is a feeling of excitement everywhere. Christmas music plays in stores and on radio stations. Hanukah and Christmas decorations are on display in many homes, stores, and churches. In 2017, Advent begins on December 3; Christmas Day is on Monday, December 25; Hanukah begins on December 13 and ends on December 20. Some older traditions honor the winter solstice on December 21. At parties and family gatherings, people make and share favorite recipes. Enjoy making and sharing these four recipes.

Proofreader's note:  Crock-Pot is a brand name, thus spelled with a capital C and a capital P here, and hyphenated. It is the original slow cooker.


A. Holiday Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff

B. Quick Cranberry Orange Relish

C. Seafood Newburg

D. Delicious Sour Cream Corn Muffins

A. Holiday Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff

The ideas for this recipe come from the Braille Rival Crock-Pot Cookbook and other out of print Braille cookbooks. I have changed this recipe, adding more vegetables, curry powder, and olive oil.

It was the night before Christmas Eve 1995. Our stepdaughters and grandkids were coming to our home Christmas Eve. I prepared Crock Pot beef stroganoff, which was delicious and easy to serve. When I came home from church asking if everyone wanted to eat before opening gifts, the resounding request from the kids was,  Presents! Everyone enjoyed the delicious stroganoff.


Two pounds stew beef

Two eight ounce containers fresh mushrooms

Five or six cloves garlic

Two medium onions

Two tablespoons olive oil

One stick butter

One"fourth cup flour

One"fourth teaspoon salt

One"half teaspoon allspice

One"fourth teaspoon curry powder

One tablespoon catsup

One teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Optional soy sauce

Two 10 ounce cans condensed mushroom soup

One 16 ounce container full"fat sour cream.


1. In five quart Crock-Pot, put one"half stick butter and one tablespoon olive oil. Melt butter and olive oil on low for 15 minutes.

2. Rinse mushrooms and break them into small pieces into clean glass or plastic container. Add mushrooms to Crock Pot.

3. Slice peeled garlic and onion in rinsed bowl. Add them to Crock-Pot. Allow vegetables to sauté on high for half an hour, then turn to low and allow vegetables to cook for 30 minutes.

4. While vegetables are cooking, melt butter and one tablespoon olive oil in 10 12 inch frying pan.

5. Rinse stew beef and cut into small cubes on wooden or plastic cutting board.

6. In another bowl, put one"half cup flour, one teaspoon allspice, and one"fourth teaspoon salt.

7. Briefly mix dry ingredients with a fork. Coat beef cubes, putting beef in hot frying pan. Cook beef on all sides until browned, turning with metal food turner. This procedure may take twenty minutes.

8. With a metal slotted spoon, place all beef in large glass or plastic container.

9. Add beef, two cans mushroom soup, one-fourth cup cold water with remaining flour, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and optional soy sauce to Crock Pot. Stir everything with metal stirring spoon.

10. Allow stroganoff to simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 hours on low heat. Uncover Crock Pot occasionally and stir the contents.

11. Add sour cream two hours before serving time and cook on high for 20 minutes.

12. Cook one bag Success rice and pour it over stroganoff. Blending it allows meal to simmer.

Keep covered until serving time. This meal will serve six to eight people. There may be enough for another meal.

B. Quick Cranberry Relish

This recipe is from a leaf from our table. It is easy to make.


One 12 ounce jar orange marmalade

One pound cranberries


1. Chop cranberries in chopper or food processor.

2. Mix cranberries with orange marmalade in stainless steel mixing bowl with plastic or wooden spoon.

3. Put relish in glass jars, cover, and refrigerate.

You can easily double this recipe. This relish makes a lovely gift. It is a nice accompaniment to chicken or turkey. Use within one and a half weeks.

C. Seafood Newburg

This recipe is similar to the lobster Newburg recipe I gave in one of my first columns. Lobster is expensive, but this seafood Newburg costs less and is delicious and easy to prepare.


Two cans crab meat

One container sea or bay scallops

Four tablespoons butter

Four tablespoons flour

Two cups milk

One cup light cream

Dashes of curry powder and nutmeg

Wine or sherry, optional.


1. Melt butter in a three"quart saucepan. Add flour, blending mixture with a wire whisk.

2. Turn off heat and add milk.

3. Cook sauce. It will thicken in 25 minutes.

4. Rinse and sauté scallops in two tablespoons of butter. Sauté for ten minutes on low heat.

5. Add cream and spices to thickened sauce. Cook for ten minutes; add scallops and crab meat.

6. Simmer until serving time.

Serve Seafood Newburg over rice or buttered toast. This makes a lovely Christmas Day meal with a light dessert.

D. Delicious Sour Cream Corn Muffins

I got this recipe from Cook's Illustrated Classic Recipes.


One and one"half cups flour

One and one"half cups yellow corn meal

One and one"half teaspoons baking powder

One teaspoon baking soda

One"fourth teaspoon salt

One"half cup sugar

One stick butter

Three"fourths cup sour cream

Three fourths to one cup milk

Two eggs.


1. Bring eggs to room temperature. Break them into a large mixing bowl. Beat them for sixty seconds with wire or silicone whisk.

2. Add sugar and beat for one minute. Add sour cream and whisk again for one minute. Add flour, cornmeal mixture, and milk. Stir with a wooden spoon. Add cooled melted butter. Mix for two minutes, until the batter is smooth.

3. Grease two 12 cup nonstick muffin pans, greasing them lightly with Crisco shortening. Scoop out batter with a one"third cup measuring cup into muffin pans.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake muffins on lowest rack of oven for 30 minutes. You will have 16"19 muffins.

Remove them using thin knife if necessary. They are delicious on Christmas morning with scrambled eggs, bacon, and hot coffee.

December is one month when everyday realities vanish and a sense of kindness and charity invade our world. I wish all Consumer Vision readers a blessed and joyful holiday season. Let us pray for a peaceful, civil, kind America.



by Marcy Segelman

Shalom to everyone. I want to talk about Hanukkah, also spelled Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

All Jewish holidays go from sunset to nightfall. Chanukah is an eight"day festival that starts at nightfall on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev.

Many non Jews think of Chanukah as the Jewish Christmas, but in reality it is not. Chanukah celebrates the victory of a revolution against the suppression of Judaism.

History of Chanukah

When Alexander the Great ruled, he let the people in his empire practice their own religions. More than a century later, Antiochus IV, one of Alexander's successors, came to power and began a large"scale suppression of Judaism. He placed a Hellenist priest in the temple and ordered mass scale murder of Jews. He also desecrated the temple by sacrificing pigs on the altar. These acts of brutality aroused resistance. There were two major groups who opposed the autocratic rule of Antiochus IV: a group led by Mattathias and his son Judah Maccabee, and a group known as the Chasidim, the forerunners of the Pharisees. Both groups drew large numbers of supporters.

In response, Antiochus IV sent out a large army to wipe out all the Jews. After a long and bitter war, victory came for the Jews in 165 BC. The temple was rededicated, a new altar was built, and a festival was instituted by Judah Maccabee. The festival was meant to celebrate the rededication of the temple, not the victory in the war. Jews do not typically glorify war.

The celebrations were to last for eight days. Olive oil was used in an eternal flame in the Temple, but there was only enough oil to burn for one day. Instead, the oil burned for eight days. Hence the eight day festival also celebrates the miracle of the oil.

Chanukah Traditions, Customs, and Activities

The celebration of Chanukah involves the lighting of candles in a special candelabrum called a menorah. The menorah contains eight candles, plus one special candle, called a shammus, which is placed on a higher level than the others. The shammus is used to light the other candles. On the first day, the first candle on the right is lit. On the second day, the first and second candles on the right are lit. And so on throughout the eight days.

If Chanukah happens to fall on the Sabbath, one must first light the Chanukah candles and then the Shabbat candle.

Nowadays, the celebration also includes gift giving. In addition, people recite holy music and play games.

Who should do the lighting? EVERYBODY!

Chanukah is best shared with family. All members of the family should be present at the lighting of the candles. All generations and all genders should be encouraged to purchase, prepare, and light their own menorah. In my family, when someone goes off to college, they take with them Sabbath candles and a menorah to start their own tradition.

I have many friends that I have made over the years from school and stay connected with by means of a wonderful system called a phone chat. I now have a large family to share my holidays with.

The Dreidel

It has long been a custom for children and adults to play the game of dreidel on Chanukah. The dreidel is a four sided top, each side being marked with a Hebrew letter.

In Israel, where the original miracle occurred, the four Hebrew letters are nun, gimmel, heh, and peh. Those are the initial letters of the words in the sentence  Nes gadol hayah poh,  A great miracle happened here.

Outside Israel, the letter peh is replaced by the letter shin to represent the sentence  Nes gadol hayah sham,  A great miracle happened there.

A theory as to the origin of this game is that it dates from the time of the Roman persecution, when the study of the Torah was banned. Groups of Jews would meet, at great danger to themselves, to study the Torah. At the approach of a Roman legionnaire, out would come the dreidels, and the group would pretend that they'd been playing an innocent game.

The Food

Chanukah foods are mostly fried. The main traditional food is a kind of pancake made of grated potatoes, called a potato latke. Some people add other ingredients. Fried vegetables are also popular.

The big tradition to bring to a home for a gift is donuts, because they are fried and most of the time filled with jellies.

My friend Lisa and I watch movies and order Chinese.

I hope that whatever you celebrate, you have a wonderful holiday season, and Shalom to all.



by Karen Crowder

I would like to introduce three retailers where I have successfully shopped during the holiday season. Contact information is provided after my comments.

In 1993 and 1997, I bought gifts from MaxiAids in New York. They are one of the largest sellers of products for the blind and those with other disabilities. You will find something for every budget.

In 1994, I heard about lock-lid saucepans. They are easy to use. You can successfully boil pasta, potatoes, and rice, and it can double as a great saucepan for soup or chowders. Make sure the cover is on securely when draining the water for pasta, potatoes, rice, or eggs. I learned this lesson when pasta flew out of the pan while I was draining it. I bought two of these pans in 1994, one for our family and another as a gift. I still have mine. I use it often to make macaroni and cheese and to boil eggs for creamed eggs and egg salad. I also use it to prepare Success rice and pasta, or to boil potatoes when making mashed potatoes.

In 1997, I was determined to buy an accessible chess set for my husband, Marshall. I bought a wooden chess set from MaxiAids. I secretly hid it in the closet designated for gifts. Marshall was happy with this Christmas gift. We spent many hours learning the game. He was always a better player than I was.

I found the delightful company Makes Scents, located in Columbia, Missouri. I found them on the Internet when searching for places to buy lilac and other single"note scents. They have friendly customer service and have many single"note fragrances, such as honeysuckle, tea rose, clean rain, sandalwood, and many other scents. They custom"scent all their products from cologne to shampoo and foaming hand wash. Their products are accessible for blind customers. They braille label all the products you purchase   even fragrance samples. I have bought lilac gift sets for a friend for Christmas. The products are reasonably priced and the salespeople will spend time helping you find the right gift. They sell all their scents in travel sizes. 

One store you may have never thought of as a place for Christmas shopping is the Dollar Tree chain. They are reminiscent of five and dime stores. Everything is just a dollar. I like buying wrapping paper, tissue, Scotch tape, and packing tape and ribbons for Christmas. You can find nice coffee mugs, Coke glasses, and paper plates and cups. One useful thing I found there is a hanging hamper. It is a thin cloth that hangs over my bathroom door.

Here are the contact phone numbers and websites for these three retailers.


Phone: 1 800 522 6294


Makes Scents

Phone: 1 800 250 2290

Dollar Tree

Phone: 1 343 5719

This number is in Fitchburg, MA.

Proofreader's note:  The only national number I found was 1-877-530-TREE, which is 1-877-530-8733. 



Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the November 2017 Consumer Vision. The largest desert in the world is the Sahara Desert. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Cleora Boyd of Fort Worth, Texas

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

And now, here is your trivia question for December. Who was President Nixon's chief council during the Watergate era? If you know the answer, please email or call 508 994 4972.