February 2016


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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Email address:


Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader: Leonore Dvorkin,



Editor's note: Three asterisks *** will be used in this Table of Contents to separate article titles from the names of their authors.

So that you can more easily find only those items you want to read, three asterisks *** will also be placed between each article.


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

THE ALBATROSS AND THE CRUCIBLE *** by James R. Campbell, Copyright January 9, 2016


EMAILING TIPS *** by Bob Branco

WHAT GRINDS YOUR GEARS? *** Compiled by Bob Branco and contributed to by Terri Winaught

SPEAKER'S BUREAU: The Talk of the Towns *** by Stephen Dubi

TOO MANY LAWSUITS *** by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters:

THE PURPOSE OF SETTING GOALS *** by James R. Campbell (Copyright December 31, 2015)

RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder (with recipes she obtained from various books and to which she made modifications)

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

SPECIAL NOTICES *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco


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


SNOWY, QUIET SUCCESS *** by Patty Fletcher


TRIVIA CONTEST *** by Bob Branco (Winners from last month, and this month's question, submitted by Terri Winaught)





Dear Readers,


My first comment is especially directed to those of you who live in or near Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Washington, DC, and parts of Western Pennsylvania. Readers in the above-mentioned regions of the United States were hit really hard by the recent “Blizzard of 2016.” My hope and prayer are that you are well on the way to digging yourselves out and now able to be out and about. As strange as I am—and I admit to being quite the eccentric—this winter so far has been even stranger than I am.

From not-so-warm weather to a very warm welcome: I was deeply touched by the article by Erin Fernandes in the January 2016 issue, in which she chronicled her struggles with eating disorders, the self-esteem problems associated with them, strokes, and the rehabilitation challenges they can cause. Welcome, Erin, and I look forward to hearing much more from you. You are an excellent writer who does a great job conveying what you want your readers to know and understand.

I also congratulate regular contributor Ernie Jones, whose article on canes and guide dogs was so excellent that a reader contacted me to say that your article, Ernie, was her favorite.

Other accomplished and skilled writers—Susan Bourrie, Bob Branco, Karen Crowder, Leonore Dvorkin, John Justice, and Lynda Lambert—also treated Consumer Vision readers to tantalizing morsels of their excellent writing.

As always, February's Consumer Vision is full of creative writing, which I hope you will all enjoy. In this issue, you will find articles about guide dogs; information about two books that were edited by our more-than-capable proofreader, Leonore Dvorkin; issues in “What Grinds Your Gears,” on which you are encouraged to comment; Special Notices; Readers' Forum; and an intriguing trivia contest question in honor of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. His birthday was in January, and February is Black History Month.

Take care and be safe as we continue to navigate winter's unpredictability. And thanks for reading with me.



Terri Winaught, Editor




by James R. Campbell

© January 9, 2016


On Thursday, I had a conversation with my friend Kathyann from New York City. She had just scheduled an MRI for that afternoon. Her doctor finally ordered it in light of trouble she has using her right shoulder and arm. The problem stems from an injury she sustained when she was struck by an automobile on December 10, 2008.


The receptionist who worked at the facility where the MRI was scheduled asked Kathyann for her insurance information. She was able to give her one number, but she couldn't provide her with the other number.

"Do you have a sighted person who can read the number for you?”


My friend was very annoyed. Why should she risk the prospect of identity theft by having someone she doesn't know read the number to her? Then, there is the basic principle that we as blind persons should not be in a position which requires this kind of help. 


This leads us to the obvious solution; this information should be made available in Braille. The fault rests solely with the insurance companies and the Social Security Administration.


This dilemma is another albatross we wear around our necks, another crucible we go through because the information is not available to us in a format we can use. Much has been made of the fact that other minorities get their information printed in their native language. This produces resentment toward these minorities among the blind. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that privileges are granted to other minorities at the expense of the blind. The insurance companies and the Social Security Administration are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act because this information is not available in Braille.


According to information provided by the National Federation of the Blind, over 70% of blind adults are unemployed. The figure goes higher when we consider those who are underemployed, eking out a living at the mercy of sheltered shops. I am posing a question that I have pondered for years: “Why doesn't the government hire those of us who know Braille and have computer skills to provide this information in Braille for the blind in a timely manner?”


The government will tell you that it is a matter of the lack of money. The funds are there; the problem lies in the waste of our tax dollars.


Example: The government wastes billions of dollars every year buying oil from foreign countries. These governments are not friendly toward us; much of this money eventually winds up in the hands of the Islamic State or other terrorist organizations who harbor enmity and designs against America.


If we took the $100 billion that we promised Iran and used it to hire the blind for a program that would provide this invaluable information instead, what kind of program would we have? I would greatly appreciate hearing from other readers who might be interested in responding to this question.


Many blind persons get insulted when someone asks them if they have sighted help to read this information to them. There is no need for the risk of identity theft, let alone the insult to the dignity of the blind that is posed by the present state of affairs. The insurance companies and the federal government would do well to hire the blind in order to make this information available to us. It is up to us as blind persons to make our wishes known if we have any hope of changing our current situation. If and when we do, this will mark another success in our movement toward equal treatment as first class citizens. 

Proofreader's comment:

There would also appear to be a big need for instruction in Braille. Steve Dubin, in his article below (“Speaker's Bureau”), says that less than 5% of the blind can read Braille. 




by John Justice


A new guide dog's tendency to be drawn to another household member is something which must be recognized and handled on an individual basis.  There are some people who just naturally draw animals to them. There can be many reasons for this, including hormones, personal odor, body language, and so on. The problem does exist. Here are some suggestions which might help to clarify and rectify the situation. 

1. Dogs are a lot smarter than we realize.  When you have two people who are easily accessible, and one imposes conditions which are not natural, such as training and behavioral modification, many intelligent dogs, regardless of breed or sex, will tend to be drawn to the partner who doesn't “make them do things.” This is a natural response. Dogs are like kids. Kids will tend to get closer to the parent who doesn't make them obey house rules.

2. Early adjustment for a new dog is critical, especially with these shorter programs. The schools expect the well-trained human to make whatever adjustments are necessary to continue the dog's basic training.  Since dog response is based on developing a level of respect for his or her owner, outside interference should be discouraged until the bonding process between the new dog and his human is complete. There are many documented instances in which this sensible practice was not followed, and the dog became attached to someone who was not the intended partner. There's no doubt about this. The difference may be how much impact the new human partner has on the dog.  If you have a student who is laid back and doesn't exercise the dog or interact with it, incorrect bonding is almost inevitable if the other human provides the attention and interaction the dog needs.

3. This entire issue occurs in different ways for each dog. For some dogs, working in harness and behaving with their partner while still being able to love and play with another human is just part of life. For other dogs, there can be confusion and even misdirection if enough counter influence is imposed. There was one sad case in which a guide dog became so misdirected that she had to be retired. That is, in all likelihood, an example of the worst type of effect that incorrect bonding can create.

4. A human partner can, without intentionally doing so, create confusion or misdirection during the bonding process.  Playing with a new dog is fun. If the human partner is not a guide dog handler, they may not seriously grasp the negative impact that too much attention can have on a newly joined dog and human team. I believe that the key is observation and immediate corrective action where necessary.  Flexibility is the key element, here, since all dogs are individuals. “If you see something, do something.”  If you notice that your new dog is tending to spend more time with your partner, to the point that the dog excludes you, it is time to take action. Remember, your personal observations are based on years of experience with guide dogs. Your gut reaction is, in all likelihood, a subconscious response to what you perceive as something going off onto the wrong track. Let your experience be your guide in a situation like this. Once you have confirmed that there is an issue, take the necessary steps to correct it. 

A.  Explain the situation to your human partner and tell him or her what will have to be done.

B.  Set the new guidelines and operating procedures and make them clear to your partner.

C.  Take action to discourage the dog's misdirection while, at the same time, encouraging him or her to spend more time with you. 

D. Exercise your dog by going on brief walks or practicing obedience training.

E. Stick to your guns! This new regimen may impose additional strain on everyone, dog and human. Don't give up!  Remember, your new guide dog's primary purpose is to take care of you.  Anything else is secondary in nature.







by Bob Branco


How many times have you received an email where you have to scroll down dozens of times in order to get to the body of the letter? This is because the email is being circulated to groups of people whose email addresses are on the “To” line. I'm sure that many of you find this very annoying. Well, I have a solution for you. To avoid this tedious scrolling, and to also avoid exposure of other people's email addresses, the best thing to do when emailing a group of people is to put your name on the “To” line, and then put the list of email addresses from your group on the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) line. When you do this, nobody will read the email addresses of everyone else in the group, only yours, the sender.


You must also bear in mind that when email addresses are being circulated due to the amount of times an email is being forwarded without the use of Blind Carbon Copy, companies may obtain these addresses and try to sell them to scammers.  Before I discovered Blind Carbon Copy, some people told me to remove them from my mailing list because they didn't want their email addresses exposed. Frankly, I don't blame them. There is too much private data out there for other people to see and to use against us. I'm sure that many of you have received emails from unexpected sources, and then you wonder why that happened. Well, it's possible that someone exposed your email address without the use of Blind Carbon Copy, and it got forwarded to dozens of other people. The more exposure your email address has, the more likely it will go to companies that you don't want to hear from.


If everyone used Blind Carbon Copy, there would be no more unnecessary exposure of email addresses, and much less risk of us being tracked down by scammers.





Hi, Bob,

On several TV stations, I hear an ad about the important work of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). While I find this group a worthwhile endeavor to support, it really grinds my gears when the spokesperson says, “Visit our website, or call the number on your screen,” while failing to read that number aloud. What do other people think about this?

Terri Winaught,

Pittsburgh, PA




The Talk of the Towns

by Steve Dubin


Talking Information Center Announces Speaker's Bureau


MARSHFIELD, MA: The award-winning Talking Information Center (TIC), a non-profit reading service located in Marshfield, Massachusetts, which broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to thousands of print and visually impaired listeners, has recently established a Speaker's Bureau.


James Bunnell, TIC's newly appointed Executive Director, along with several volunteer ambassadors, are available to speak about a wide range of topics to various audiences, from business and fraternal organizations to civic groups. Potential topics include:


The Talk of the Towns

Less than five percent of people who are blind can read Braille. Thus, TIC, serving the entire Bay State and its border states, is crucial to its audience. The numerous reasons why vision and print impaired people need a special radio station and the type of timely content that TIC delivers that is not otherwise available to the sight impaired are discussed.


Shifting demographics

In addition to programs for the print and visually impaired, TIC sees an enormous need to expand programming and distribution to the rapidly growing senior and veteran populations. Baby boomers are graying and in need of new services. According to Bunnell, "Approximately 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the U.S., and in Massachusetts, 34 percent of people with disabilities are 65 and older." Military veterans are seeking more programs that have a "veteran's voice.” TIC is developing new programming to engage, entertain, and enlighten their growing audience of boomers and veterans.


Listeners celebrate over 35 years

TIC recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. More than 20,000 listeners statewide and beyond appreciate the TIC link to the world. And there is a broader audience waiting to be reached.  It is estimated that 150,000 people in Massachusetts are unable to read the printed word. The vision impaired face challenges of literacy, maintaining independence, unemployment (70 percent), and paralyzing isolation. Two out of three aging Americans confront vision loss. Others who experience vision problems are living with AIDS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, paralysis, and other physical ailments that make it difficult to hold a publication or turn its pages. TIC continues to reach out to engage more of those who can benefit from the service.


Volunteers get the word out

With a rigorous 24/7 schedule, a modest budget, and only five full time staff, TIC has hundreds of volunteers who tirelessly assist with programming as readers and engineers. Thoroughly trained to provide the best possible production, volunteers range in age and profession and serve from studios and affiliate stations. Each region has a variety of compelling stories about volunteers and what inspires them to shed light for others.


Our mission

"Our mission is to broadcast information to inspire, motivate, and empower the print impaired community. With the growing number of seniors and veterans seeking informational, entertaining broadcasts that just aren't available elsewhere, we're developing programming specific to these new audiences," noted Bunnell.


Volunteer Ambassadors Needed

TIC is currently seeking additional volunteers to serve on their speakers' bureau. Volunteer ambassadors would be responsible for attending senior fairs and fraternal organization meetings, and actively seeking additional opportunities to speak on TIC's behalf.


To arrange a speaking engagement or to learn more about becoming a TIC volunteer ambassador, contact James Bunnell at 800-696-9505.


About TIC

The Talking Information Center (TIC), a non-profit reading service located in Marshfield, MA, broadcasts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to visually impaired and print-handicapped listeners, including those suffering from AIDS, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, paralysis or other physical illness that makes holding a publication or turning pages impossible. TIC programming may be accessed by specially tuned radio receivers or via live audio stream on the TIC website,


In 1977, Ed Perry, the founder of radio station WATD-FM in Marshfield, MA, donated his Subsidiary Carrier Authorization signal for use as the first radio reading service in New England. Now reaching 25,000 listeners, TIC broadcasts newspapers, magazines, books, and special consumer information on subjects including medical and stock market updates, jobs, sports, supermarket specials, voting guides, community newspapers, and television programs. TIC also broadcasts cultural programming, including old-time radio drama, theater, and poetry.


TIC is a proud member of the International Association of Audible Information Services (IAAIS), and is also the hub of the Massachusetts Reading Network, broadcasting to all of Massachusetts as well as southern New Hampshire and Connecticut. Operating similarly to other broadcast networks, TIC has affiliates throughout the state of Massachusetts that provide inserts of local news and information that is of interest to listeners in their area.


TIC is located at 130 Enterprise Drive (P.O. Box 519), in Marshfield, MA 02050. For more information, visit or call 800-696-9505.

Steven V. Dubin


18 Main Street, Extension, Suite 409

Brewster Park Building (Café Strega is below.)

Plymouth, MA  02360

Direct Land Line - (781) 582-1061

Mobile - (781) 864-1837

Email -


 Helping small business discover the pipeline to new business.




by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters,


One of the reasons why we have become such a politically correct society is because there are too many people suing other people unnecessarily. This causes fear in the hearts of business owners, town officials, the medical profession, and many other aspects of life. We can't turn around without wondering if we did something wrong or hurt someone.


Years ago, it was so easy for me to plan outings and other recreational activities. The paperwork was simple, and the cost was minimal. In the present, it is quite difficult to plan an activity because everyone is concerned about liability. Organizations who work hard to raise money have to spend most of it on insurance policies in order to protect cities and towns from being sued. What is someone falls? What if the hamburger makes you sick? What if a man accidently bumps into a woman and touches her? There is so much fear out there that I wonder how long we will have successful recreational activities in this country.


In some schools, children are not allowed to play tag any more during recess because administrators are afraid that the kids are going to get hurt. If you are a child, you can't show affection toward another child for fear that you will be charged with sexual harassment. No one is allowed to be themselves anymore.


I think I have come up with a solution to the overabundance of lawsuits. If lawyers would stop accepting cases that appear to be ridiculous on the surface, then perhaps we could relax a lot more easily. God knows how busy lawyers are to begin with because of all the other legal problems we face, meaning that they wouldn't have time for nonsense. If a woman spills a cup of McDonald's hot coffee on her lap, which causes her legs to burn, it's not McDonald's fault

if she decided to put the cup between her legs in the first place. Lawyers should be intelligent enough to realize how ridiculous such a lawsuit is; but all it takes is one lawyer to file it, and this country will continue to be afraid of almost everything.


If this trend continues, law enforcement, the military, and other protective services will become so watered down that the United States will be regarded as vulnerable. Is this what we want? I say no.

Proofreader's note:

To read a short, clear article about the notorious McDonald's hot coffee case, go to:

One detail from the article: From 1982 to 1992, more than 700 people were burned by scalding hot McDonald's coffee, including children and infants.




by James R. Campbell

© December 31, 2015


The clock will strike midnight, as it always does during a 24-hour period, and when it does, it will mark the beginning of yet another day.


But there is more significance to the passage of this day than most; when today ends at midnight, we will have seen the end of this year and all that it holds, good and bad.


What have we done with this year? How many of us have made New Year's resolutions, only to break them, as one breaks off a piece of peanut brittle? The answer, most likely, is not encouraging.

Let me pose this question: How many of us have established goals for this year?


What is the difference between a goal and a resolution? There is a great deal of disparity between the two.


A resolution is a promise we make at the beginning of the year: losing weight, saving more money, making amends with family, getting more exercise; these are resolutions that we make at the first of the year. As I have said, most of these usually get a few days' use, and then they are forgotten, as if they were tossed in the trash like broken toys from a child's last Christmas.


A goal, on the other hand, is a stated game plan that leads us to an objective we would like to accomplish for the year. A goal involves a series of steps that we must take in order to get to the objective.


When I set a goal to get more exercise during 2015, I wondered how I would accomplish this feat. Walking up and down the block is quite different than walking up and down the alleys on my street, as I used to do. Thankfully, my friend would come and get me and take me to the nearby gym; it is within walking distance of my home. The walk, in and of itself, was refreshing and very badly needed. When we got to the gym, I rode the stationary bike, usually for 25 minutes. Then he took me to an ab burning machine; this was good to work with. He was always careful with what we did, so as not to reinjure the right arm. I always stressed to him that I wanted him to do something while I was there, so as not to deprive him.


Another goal that I made this year was to collect at least a few of my essays and stories on a thumb drive. I have 39 saved, and I have a few more in the documents folder.


When you set a goal, work toward it slowly, in small steps, in small increments. Take your time, but be persistent. Set aside time to work on it during the week. This is the approach that I have used with my writing project.           


A goal gives a person a purpose; those of us who wake up with a purpose and a mission to fill in life are happier in the long run than those who don't. This leads to a healthier life as well.


My brother-in-law suffered an aortic rupture just before Christmas, and then suffered a massive stroke. He is in very critical condition. The doctor told my oldest niece that he would be confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life. Dear told her that whether he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair depended on him. If he sets the goal that he wants to be up and around, he can do it. The work will be hard, I have no doubt, but he can do it. The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. A goal like this would give him something to look forward to.


When I came home from rehab last year, I was still using the walker the hospital gave me to get around. The Permian Basin Poetry Society was holding a major event in September, an event that I wanted to attend very badly. In order to go to the event, I set the goal of walking without the walker and quad cane by September 27th. With help from Teresa, the physical therapist, I was able to extend the goal by over a month. Even though I was unable to attend the event due to problems related to UTIs, I still accomplished something that I wanted for myself.


Sometimes it is helpful to share your goal with a partner or trusted friend; they can help you stay on the course you have set. Goals are a great asset, but they involve a process and steady work.


I have set two goals for 2016 so far. One is the completion of a fresh poetry collection, and the other is a major project called The Days of Bryan County. I am hopeful that I can get it done this coming year. The way I have mapped it out is as a Truman Capote-style autobiographical novel based on summer vacations in Southeast Oklahoma. I am writing this manuscript so my family can have it; I hope the recording library of West Texas can do it for me.


Visualizing the end result of a goal is useful; often, during meditation sessions, I will visualize the steps needed to achieve the set objective. Take small steps; don't take on too much at one time. But be persistent; anything that is accomplished with little effort is easily destroyed. Once you have won a hard-fought battle in an effort to achieve a goal, nobody can take that away. It is yours, forever. It is something that you can take pride in, and the effort will be well worth it in the long run.




by Karen Crowder


In New England, the month of February can bring cold, snowy days. However, toward the end of the month, hints of spring begin arriving. We may hear a few songbirds and have noticeably longer and warmer days. There are Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day weekend. This February stands out, with an extra day because of Leap Year. Ash Wednesday falls on February 10th, signifying the beginning of Lent.

This column features soup, two chowders, popovers, and a fudge recipe.


Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup

Quick New England Clam Chowder

Delicious Fish Chowder

Good Popovers

Stovetop Chocolate Fudge



Homemade Chicken and Rice Soup

I started preparing this soup in the ‘90s, inspired while reading The Soup Cookbook in Braille. It should be available at your regional library. The book was published in the early 1970s.


I made changes, adding more vegetables, frozen corn, and rice. My husband always requested it when he had a cold or on cold evenings.



Two large, boned chicken breasts

Six and one half cups cold water

A pinch each of garlic powder, tarragon, dill, dried chives, curry powder, thyme, and a dash of salt 

A bag of frozen corn

One medium onion

Two cloves garlic

One box whole mushrooms

A bag of “Success” brand rice

One tablespoon butter or margarine



In a Dutch oven, cook frozen chicken in water with spices for one and a half to two hours on low to medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, melt butter and break mushrooms into small pieces; mince onion and garlic. Let vegetables cook for 20 minutes, then transfer vegetable mixture to another glass or plastic container.

Cook rice in boiling water for 11 minutes.

With oven mitts, take Dutch oven to a sink. With a slotted spoon, place chicken breasts in another glass or plastic dish. Discard skin and break up chicken, discarding skin and bones. Put chicken pieces back into chicken broth.

Add vegetables, rice, and frozen corn, plus additional garlic powder, chives, curry, thyme, and a little salt.

Cover and allow soup to simmer on low heat for an hour. 

Serve soup with biscuits or rolls. This soup will disappear with a hungry family.



Quick New England Clam Chowder


I began making this several years ago, and the addition of potatoes and onion made the canned chowder taste nearly homemade.



One can of New England clam chowder. Hearty Progresso is good.

One Maine or Yukon Gold potato

One-half onion, minced

One six-ounce can minced clams

One can milk

One-half can light cream or half-and-half

Two tablespoons butter or margarine

An optional one-quarter cup sour cream

A dash of curry


Melt one tablespoon butter in a saucepan, then sauté the onion for 5 to 10 minutes.

Cut potato into small pieces, then place in pan. 

Add one half cup water.

Let potatoes cook for 35 minutes. 

Open can of clam chowder and the can of clams. Add soup and clam juice to potato/onion mixture.

Stir, letting soup cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

Add milk, cream, and clams, continuing to cook for 20 minutes. Add curry and optional sour cream. Serve hot chowder with oyster crackers or Ritz crackers, accompanied with hot rolls or French bread.


Delicious Fish Chowder

This recipe originally came from New England Cookery, published by the National Braille Press and compiled by the Massachusetts chapters of the NFB in 1982.


On a cold February evening or during Lent, fish chowder makes a delicious meal. It became a favorite chowder in our home even when entertaining company.



Five or six cups water

Four to five potatoes

One medium onion, chopped

Four slices bacon (optional)

One tablespoon butter

Two cups milk, plus two cups light cream or half-and-half

One and a half pounds cod, haddock, or flounder

Ritz crackers (optional)


 If using bacon, microwave it for 80 seconds.

In a large Dutch oven, break it up.

Add one tablespoon butter and the chopped onion to the pan. Stir and sauté for five minutes over low heat. 

Add water. Cut potatoes into small pieces, then add them to the water and cook on medium heat for 45 minutes.

Add fish and cook for 20 minutes.

Add milk and cream or half-and-half, adding a pinch of curry powder and thyme.

If you want thicker chowder, add 12 crushed Ritz crackers.

Allow chowder to simmer until serving time.

A pat of butter gives this chowder a richer flavor.

Rolls, cornbread, or popovers make lovely accompaniments.



Good Popovers

Popovers have a reputation for being difficult to make. I found a terrific recipe in Cooking Illustrated Classic Recipes. However, I have changed and adapted the recipe, allowing the popovers to cook for a longer time at a lower heat. I allow the mixture to stand longer, further developing the gluten. They are delicious with coffee or chowder.



Two cups flour

Two cups whole milk

Four large eggs

Two tablespoons butter

One-half teaspoon salt



 In large mixing bowl, beat eggs for two minutes with a silicone-covered wire whisk.

Add milk and beat for another minute.

In another bowl, measure out flour and add salt. Stir with wire whisk for a few seconds.

Microwave butter in a small custard cup for 30 seconds. Allow it to cool. 

Add flour to the milk and egg mixture. Stir with wooden spoon for a minute. Add butter, stirring again for a minute.

Let mixture sit for 40 minutes. This helps the gluten develop. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

With solid Crisco or canola oil, grease muffin tins that will hold a total of 20 or 24 muffins.

A small amount of grease is enough.

With a one-half cup measure, measure the batter into each cup.

Put both pans on the bottom or middle rack of oven and let popovers cook for 35 minutes.

Take them from the oven, and with a knife, go around each pan, releasing the puffy, muffin-like creations.

They are delicious with butter. A festive touch is created by making a sundae with vanilla or chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Store popovers in plastic Ziploc bags in the refrigerator.

When my friend was here during Christmas, the popovers I had baked disappeared in no time!

Proofreader's note, which I hope will be of interest:

Ziploc bags are a staple in most kitchens, and have been for many years. I happen to have been the English tutor of the woman who was responsible for introducing Ziploc bags to Japan back when she worked for Dow Japan. She received an award for that. Her name is Teruko Ochiai, and she lives in Tokyo. I tutored her for several years when she was studying international business here in Denver at the University of Colorado. She and I are still friends, and I work with her via Skype and email. Besides being an editor and author, I tutor Spanish, German, and ESL (English as a Second Language), now working almost exclusively at home. 

Leonore Dvorkin, 



Stovetop Fudge


What is more delicious on Valentine's Day than fudge? I got the original recipe from Death by Chocolate. Order it from your regional library in Braille. I made changes, adding more cocoa and using a little less sugar, and using chocolate chips instead of nuts. Around Valentine's Day, this makes a lovely treat for your sweetheart.



Two and one quarter to two and a half cups sugar

One and one half cups unsweetened cocoa

One quarter teaspoon salt

One cup whole milk

One teaspoon or less of water

Four to six tablespoons butter

One quarter teaspoon vanilla

Nuts (optional)

One half cup mini or regular chocolate chips



Brush the bottom and sides of a large three-quart saucepan with water. This helps the fudge mixture stick less to the pan.

Put dry ingredients into the pan. Stir with wire whisk, aerating the mixture.

Add milk.

On low heat, start stirring mixture with plastic, metal, or wooden spoon. Time this for 40 minutes.

Fill a small bowl half full of water. Refrigerate. This is vital for testing the correct consistency of the fudge.

After 20 minutes, the fudge mixture will start to boil.

Take water out of the refrigerator. After five minutes, put a little mixture on a spoon and into the cold water. If there is a slightly firm mass, it is not time to remove fudge from the stove.

After two to three minutes, test the mixture again. If it is firmer, remove fudge from the stove. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate bits. Beat fast with spoon for a few minutes.

Let fudge sit, cooling, for 15 minutes.

Beat, then stir. Fudge mixture should now be more difficult to stir.

Line a 7 by 11 inch pan with tinfoil, and grease the foil liberally with butter or margarine.

Put the fudge in the greased pan, measuring it out with a one-half cup measure.

Refrigerate fudge for six to eight hours.

It will be delicious, well worth the time, love, and effort you spent making it.

I hope all Consumer Vision readers enjoy this column. 



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

by Penny Fleckenstein


Eight days ago, I went to my primary care doctor. He recommended that I get the flu vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine. I consented to the pneumonia one, figuring that it might help me avoid being very sick this winter. I've been sick since, and mulling what went wrong. I bought a big pack of tissues from Sam's Club, but other than that, I did nothing to prepare for being sick. It is bound to happen one of these days, so I do need to be more prepared.

I've sent out people to buy me Airborne Chewable Tablets, which I say are pretty tasty, as well as Sucrets and Mucinex. As for the Airborne Chewable Tablets, this is my first time using this product. I told my friend Beth yesterday that chewable anything works for me. I'd probably eat chewable poison. She laughed and promised to write that one down just in case. I made the mistake of not telling the man that I wanted the Mucinex pills, not the liquid cough syrup, which I feel tastes quite disgusting. It also upsets my stomach.

From now on, I plan to keep my supplies stocked: a filter for the humidifier so I can use it, Airborne Chewable Tablets to take regularly in order to boost the immune system, Sucrets, eye ointment which I'll keep in the box with my eye drops, nasal spray, and, of course, tissues. Don't forget the garbage bag by my bed. There's a lot of work to being sick. I even took advantage of my pharmacy's delivery service.

All this being sick has given me plenty of time to browse I had no clue that there is a book written by Pope Francis or a compilation of Christmas stories written by the same women who wrote Mary Poppins. Adding to my Wish List is easy and takes very little focus. No advanced comprehension skills necessary!


And, oh, did I mention, even the computers get sick? So, be careful what you open, what you download, and make sure you're using an antivirus. Ray from the Desktop Doctors uses the free AVG. I know someone whose computer got hit hard with the cryptowall virus. What happened was that when he opened an email or downloaded something, the virus encrypted his files. When he went to open them up, they were empty. He got an email which stated that his computer files had been encrypted, and, if he wanted them back, to pay them $750 and they would give him the key to unlock the files. The FBI recommends that you do not pay the ransom. Instead, back up your files regularly and pay for someone to remove the virus. I would expect that if you don't pay the ransom, your machine will not be attacked again. These cyber criminals live in a foreign country, so there is nothing our country can do to prevent the crimes or to prosecute. The criminals have made over $350 million so far.


Speaking of ransom, there are people calling around pretending that they're collecting money for the IRS and threatening jail if you do not pay. Please do not pay. The real IRS does not operate this way.


Another mistake I made was when I went downtown on the 1st of January with plans to go to two restaurants for my birthday with some of my children. I did not check beforehand if the restaurants would be open, and they weren't. I ended up spending an awful lot of money on a meal I wouldn't have chosen for my birthday at a place that was having difficulty dealing with the crowd and the loss of a store manager. However, the food was delicious, and the workers were very courteous. Next time I'll know that the places I wanted to go to are not open on the 1st. It did turn out to be a fantastic birthday, and I am wiser now because of the experience. I had to spend that extravagant amount of money to remind myself not to go downtown on the 1st of January next year.


Here's wishing you a very Happy Valentine's Day and hoping that the restaurant of your choice is open for your Valentine's Day celebration. To avoid the crowd, I elect to go to lunch or dinner before or after the special day if at all possible.

Proofreader's notes:

I know someone who did not have her files backed up, and when she changed to Windows 10, she lost ALL of her files. Absolutely everything is gone, and she can't get it back. I can hardly imagine how awful that would be. So please back those files up, folks!

My husband and I love a product called “Emergen-C” to help us ward off or cure colds. It's in the form of a powder in little one-serving packets, and it comes in several flavors. I like the lemon-lime, and David likes the orange. It fizzes when you first put it into a glass of water, and it tastes great. It's loaded with B vitamins and Vitamin C. If we feel the least bit under the weather, we have a serving at night and are fine the next day. We have not had any colds at all in over two years. Also, we never skip the yearly flu vaccine. It is free with Medicare. In over 15 years of getting the shots, we have never had either the flu or a bad reaction to the shot.    





Hello, everyone.

I wanted to share with you a terrific source of information that is absolutely free, and can help you to develop the skills you need to become more independent and self-sufficient.

This is a series of videos that clearly and specifically explain the non-visual alternative skills that can allow you to function effectively, efficiently, and safely without relying on vision. This means that if you do not have vision you can count on, or simply do not have eyesight at all, you can begin to develop the sort of skills that will improve the quality of your life.

Although this series was developed for older individuals experiencing vision loss, these techniques work for adults of any age.

This video series was developed and produced by the Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It is provided here for use by any blind adult seeking to improve personal skills. Please watch the introduction, and then select the links provided on the website to watch the other audio-described videos, which are divided into specific skill areas. Please use the link provided below.



My Home Away from Home: Life at Perkins School for the Blind

C 2013 by Robert T. Branco

From the ages of 12 to 19, the author attended a school for the blind. He tells about life in the "cottages," academics, sports, field trips, vocational training, and more. He had good and bad teachers, followed wise rules and absurd ones, met good friends and bullies, and welcomed administrative changes. Perkins educated him very well; this book will surely educate and entertain many others.

$12 paperback, $4.99 e-book

Review quote on Amazon, from Lawrence Gorin: “Interesting book. My brother is blind and uses the book library from Perkins. Wanted to know more about this amazing institution.”

From the editor, Leonore Dvorkin, January 2016: “The text of this book was recently modified with a few changes and corrections submitted by the author. From here on out, any copies that are purchased from Amazon and other selling sites will contain those changes.”

For full information on this book and the three others by the same author, plus handy buying links, go to:

A book about life at another school for the blind is A Few Moments in Time, C 2011 by Howard A. Geltman. Details:

Leonore edited Howard Geltman's book as well. Most of her editing clients are blind, and many have written autobiographies. More such books are coming in 2016.




by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters,


Despite the fact that we all grew up listening to many broadcast radio stations, which appeal to tens of thousands of listeners, there is a definite trend toward Internet radio. I do not understand this trend. Though Internet radio is a fascinating hobby, allowing you to create your own broadcasting environment, based on how much money you can invest, the fact is that you have a lot of hard work ahead of you.


In order for people to listen to your Internet radio station, you practically have to tell each person about it. If you are lucky enough to have 20 people listening to your station as opposed to hundreds of thousands of people listening to regular broadcast radio, you then have to hope that a company will invest in your station, hoping that all 20 listeners will buy that company's product.


The other problem with Internet radio is the infinite amount of competition. Let's face it. There is too much Internet out there for these types of radio stations to share. How can you attract listeners to your Internet radio station if there are thousands of other people trying to do what you do?


I've heard that someday, Internet radio will take over the airwaves, replacing regular broadcast radio. I hope that's not true. Advertisers won't invest in something where listeners have too many choices because of the infinite amount of Internet being shared. They would much rather invest in a station that automatically has an established market of hundreds of thousands of listeners. I know I would.


Two years ago, I was paid by the owner of an Internet radio station to be his sales representative. My job was to sell advertising. At the time, this station had only two listeners. How could I possibly sell the concept of this station to a business owner if I told him that only two people listened? After all, as a businessman, he wanted to know how many people listened.


I would like to know exactly what the economic advantages are if Internet radio takes over the airwaves. I am at a total loss.





Sue Bourrie sure hit the nail on the head about this technology. I'm very disappointed in the Hims company; they make the Hims Braille Sense U2 Mini. The manual is not what it could be, and there are no cool tutorials on YouTube. Some apps are needlessly complicated, with many edit boxes and such to use. I'm getting old and this having to jump, seal-like, through ever-changing adaptive tech hoops, is wearing in the extreme.


This Jens Naumann sounds a trip. Africa. I'd be scared to just take off and go to Africa. I'd catch an amoeba and die, I just know it.

I should dash for now.


P.S. All this talk about being a blind achiever is good and I applaud it, but I have had to learn that my days of even dreaming about achievement might be done. There are health reasons and just exhaustion and fatigue—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical—plus geographical concerns.




Hi, Bob,

Here are the address, website, and phone number for the National Braille Press out of Boston

that makes Braille manuals for the iPhone, etc.

It also makes other books of interest.

Mailing address:

88 Saint Stephen Street    Boston, MA    02115-4312

Phone: 1-888-965-8965                   



I hope this will help that lady about iPhones, as well as many others.


Peace to you from Jesus Christ,





by John Justice


From my early days, I have always been fascinated by recording audio and experimenting with creating sound effects. For me, buying a cheap, battery-powered reel-to-reel tape recorder was more important than spending money on other toys in the same price range. 

When I met my wife, Linda, I couldn't believe that she had been doing the same silly things I did with audio.  She created a DJ called Miniature Minnie and recorded a whole radio program, introducing each song in a voice at double the normal recording speed. She borrowed her grandfather's walkie talkie and broadcast her shows to someone else who had the receiver, about a mile away.  She would hold down the Talk button with a big rubber band and clothes pins.

I went into the woods with my portable recorder and tried to capture animal sounds. I recorded the passing trains about a quarter mile away and liked nothing better than capturing the sound of construction equipment.

The recording of audio has changed through the years.  As time passed, records were produced which could allow the consumer to hear his favorite performer at home. The original records were glass disks, layered in a wax-like material which would allow the music to be burned onto them. It was believed that a disk would have to operate at 78 revolutions per minute (RPM). At that time, this was probably true. As the technology developed, good sound could be produced on records operating at 33 and a third RPM, and this allowed for much more material to be loaded onto one single disk. 

A record was designed which operated at 45 RPM. To enhance portability, that record was smaller in size. In order to prevent these records from being played at the wrong speed, the central aperture was made much larger. When stereo was introduced, many 45 records with relatively good sound were produced. The entertainment centers of those days were sold with built-in turntables which could operate at any of the three speeds. Our home was always filled with music. 

I was always fascinated by recording equipment of any kind. When my family brought home a new music system, I learned how to operate it as quickly as possible. At Christmastime or on my birthday, I would almost always receive a card which would talk or play music. I remember one particularly interesting card which had a long cord fitted to its center. If you placed your nails on the cord and pulled it between them, a voice would say, “Happy Birthday!” That was a form of audio recording called “wire recording.” 

My parents became involved with my sound and audio hobby and found some really incredible samples of audio recorders. They would scour yard sales and auctions for me.  I was able to touch and experiment with many kinds of recording equipment.

One day, Dad brought home two wooden cabinets. They contained an Edison Transcriber and a matching cylinder cleaning device. This machine had a small horn, mounted on a flexible tube, which was the rudimentary microphone. Recordings were made on wax cylinders. The same machine would play back those recordings through a large brass speaker horn mounted on top of the machine. Apparently, the machine was used to record dictations and a secretary would play them back and type the letters. Once the work was done, she would prepare the wax cylinder by running it through the cleaning device. A sharp blade would shave off just enough of the wax surface to make the cylinder usable once more.  

But how was this done? Recordings were made originally by allowing a sharp stylus to vibrate within a specified limit, while cutting a groove in the surface at the same time. That same process was used to “transcribe” soft vinyl disks, wax cylinders, and specially prepared wire.  When a disk is played, the needle vibrates, responding to the grooves already cut into the surface. Those vibrations were transmitted through a device called a “transducer” to the machine's audio circuit.  The transducer operated in a manner similar to a standard microphone.

The development of recording tape introduced a whole new world of possibilities. Thousands of ferrous oxide particles were placed on a piece of recording tape. Instead of cutting grooves in a surface, the tape recording head would shift these particles magnetically and create the same results. The playback head would respond to the patterns in those particles and generate a signal which was translated into sound. But now, those magnetically charged particles could be restored to their normal positions by erasing the tape, a process which restored the magnetized particles to their original positions. This was a fantastic improvement. The same tape could be used again and again, at least for a while. Original recorders used tape which was at least a quarter inch wide. It was possible to make a recording with the tape going in one direction and then reverse the tape and record different information on the other side.  Developing a way to keep those tiny particles in place was a tremendous advance for its day. 

The recording and playback heads were quite thin, especially in machines which used quarter- inch tape. This kind of device was not practical for use in a moving car. However, radio stations developed machines which played cartridges. The cartridge could be removed or exchanged with relative ease.  The tape was mounted in a continuous loop.  As a commercial announcement was played, the tape would cycle back to the beginning again and be ready for the next use. 

Engineers decided to put that looped tape cartridge into a completely new type of device, and the eight-track tape player was born. In order to provide as much music in a single cartridge as possible, a system was created which imposed eight recording tracks on a single quarter-inch tape. The playback head was designed so that it would move precisely from one recording track to another. Initially, these recordings were monaural, meaning that you heard all of the music at one time.  The introduction of stereo recordings presented a real challenge for eight-track players.  Each recording was now actually two tracks operating simultaneously and providing different sound. The result was that instruments or singers could be heard in different places within the stereo field. This made a recording sound even more like a live performance.

As time passed, the technology was improved and the sound quality became better. The recordings were crisp and clean. The placement of the instruments was precise. But, at best, the eight-track player using quarter-inch tape was cumbersome. Each cartridge measured about seven inches in length and was four inches across. The housing was more than half an inch thick. A collection of cartridges would take up a great deal of room. The continuous loop design would eventually wear or become entangled.  Once that happened, the eight-track tape was no longer usable.

Finally, a newer and smaller playback cartridge was developed and the cassette tape was introduced. Unlike the eight-track players, this newer technology used two separate reels, mounted in a single plastic case. The tape used was one eighth of an inch wide. The length of tape was limited, but it could be easily reversed and additional music could be recorded in the opposite direction. Some cassette players could automatically change direction when the first side ended. Since the recording heads had already been miniaturized, this new development was welcomed by the consumer. In fact, cassette tapes are still being used today by many people throughout the world. Technological innovations like the compact disc (the CD), have left that particular phase of development far behind, but the consumer can't alter the contents of a CD in any way. 

The introduction of personal computers gave the individual the ability to create his or her own discs, including personally chosen musical selections. A CD is produced by having a laser device burn grooves onto a disc. The player will then read and translate those tracks into recorded music or audio books. It is still possible to feel the freedom of creating your own personal discs by using various types of software.

Today, digital recorders are available which can produce excellent quality. A device which is smaller than a cassette can make stereo recordings at any location. The completed files can then be transferred to a personal computer for editing or stored on a compact disc.

Technology will continue to develop, and I can't wait to see what happens next. It gives me great pleasure to know that I can still go outside and record a new sound for my collection. For Linda and me, recording audio will always be a part of our lives.      







by Patty L. Fletcher


It's a snowy, quiet morning here in The Campbell Kingdom. I have enjoyed a walk with my pup, a great couple of phone conversations, some fabulous Facebook chats, and some awesome coffee. I am enjoying the slowdown in the midweek hustle, and am glad to have an excuse to stay in sweats and footies. It is an awesome day, and although it makes me just a tad bit nervous for it to snow, due to all the troubles I had last year as a result of not having a good planning and support system, I am aware that this year, I have more reliable persons within my life. People around me are more stable and able to help, and will do so if I ask. Now to just get over having trouble asking. LOL!

In the meantime, I hope to proof my second book, he Raw Truth: Campbell's Rambles, Book Two, and do some polishing of it. I am going to pray for a donor who will assist me with the payment for publishing this second book, and then I am going to pray that the publishing and sale of the second book will pay off my original editor. I am going to believe in my faith, and in Mother Father God to provide, and I am going to truly see miracles in my life, and today is the day to begin. Blessings to all this day!

Patty L. Fletcher

Author of Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life

Motivational Speaker and Nonprofit Consultant

Now Offering Live, Phone, and Internet Services





by John Justice


Although this incident occurred long ago, I still can't believe how lucky I was. Things could have gone very badly for me and my guide dog. I think my guardian angel was with me.

I climbed off of the train at the Smithtown Station on Long Island. In my right hand, I had my piano tuning kit. I held onto the harness of my female Shepherd guide dog, Star. I had been given good directions by my customer, so I started off along the first road. Suddenly, without warning, a large dog was jumping onto my Star. He or she wasn't fooling around. I dropped Star's harness but retained the leash. Star was holding her own, but she was getting hurt, and I wasn't about to put up with that. I always wore knee-high boots with my service uniform, so I waded in and kicked the two combatants apart. 

Star moved immediately, but Rover wasn't taking no for an answer. He came back, and this time, he was after me. An average toolkit weighs about 20 pounds. The dog was growling, snarling, and biting my boots and pants. I brought the kit down onto his head with quite a bit of arm muscle behind it.  My aim was dead on. I heard the kit hit Rover right on the noggin. He yelped and backed off. 

It was then that someone came out of the garage and grabbed Rover by the collar. The man's language was colorful, to say the least. “This [expletive deleted] mutt is more ------- trouble than he's worth! Oh, Christ, are you okay? I have no idea how he got out of that pen! Oh—your dog is bleeding! He chewed her ear pretty badly!”

The man got a towel and cleaned up Star's ear. Rover's canine tooth had gone right through the flap. The bleeding slowed and then stopped completely. The man wiped away the blood, and Star was okay. But I could feel her tension. Her head kept turning from side to side. She stood there, tense and wired, waiting for that monster to come back. 

The dog was a 90-pound Bull Mastiff.  Yes, his name was Rover. By the time I used my kit on him, the man, Randy, was already there and just waiting for the chance to jump in. Randy told me that I had hit that dog right on the top of his skull. Rover wasn't expecting that. He jumped back, way out of reach. Randy said that Rover looked as if he had given up the idea of beating up on Star. It was easy enough for Rover to be caught.  Randy put him on a towing chain and fastened the other end to a heavy steel beam.

When I came back later that day, I could hear Rover raising a fuss, but he never got close to us again. He was barking and snarling. The sound made my blood run cold. I could hear him hitting the end of that chain and struggling to get free.  

Star had that mark on her right ear for the rest of her life. That, my friends, is why I go a bit ballistic when I hear about someone's dog being attacked. Think about that for a moment. This dog remained on the ground. Can you imagine what might have happened if he had jumped up at me? In any situation like that, a loose dog is much more agile than a human, especially someone who can't see where the attack will come from.  We are equipped with hands, feet, and a much better brain than the average dog, but any defensive effort must be based on knowing where to concentrate our responses. 

Why, in Heaven's name, should we be placed in that kind of dangerous situation? There are laws designed to protect innocent people from unwarranted attacks by loose dogs. Unfortunately, many law enforcement personnel do not take these issues seriously. I firmly believe that it is our responsibility to explain the unique circumstances under which we must travel. A seriously injured guide dog could render us helpless in a place far from home. A vicious dog can inflict injury to us as well as to our guides. We must address this problem directly before one of us or one of our guide dogs is hurt or killed.   









Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the January 2016 Consumer Vision. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo. Congratulations to the following winners:


Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Terri Winaught of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida


And now, here is your trivia question for the February 2016 Consumer Vision. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't have the name “Martin Luther” until the age of two, after visiting Germany with his father. What was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first name at birth? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.


A concluding note from the proofreader, Leonore Dvorkin:

As before, I would like to say that if anyone is unhappy with the very light editing that I have done on these pieces, or if I have made a mistake of any kind, please contact me directly, and I will be happy to provide a correction in next month's issue.

Happy February to all of you! I rather like February, partly because several of my family members were born in this month. Our son, one of his first cousins, and my paternal grandfather were all born on February 28th.  Daniel, who is our only child, will turn 47 this month.

Leonore Dvorkin, Denver, Colorado

Home phone: 303-985-2327