THE CONSUMER VISION

February 2019

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

Phone: 508-994-4972

Email Address: bobbranco93@gmail.com

Website: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editors: David and Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin

TABLE OF CONTENTS

In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser's search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or undoable with asterisks, please let us know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let us know what works best, and we'll do our best to accommodate.

In columns like Special Notices, Readers' Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, etc.—are used to separate items.

1. HEALTH MATTERS: A Clutter-Clearing Tip, Adding Healthy Years to Your Life, and More *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

2. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Four Quick Tips To Gallop Toward Your Goals *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

3. TECH CORNER: Mindless Minutiae: Social Media Saturation *** by Stephen Théberge

4. COMMON CORE: A THREAT TO QUALITY EDUCATION *** by Bob Branco

5. VICIOUS CIRCLE *** by James R. Campbell

6. WEATHER OR NOT: Snow Bomb or Nor'easter? A Snow Bomb in Popular Culture *** by Steve Roberts

7. READERS' FORUM

8. AUTOMATION IN SERVICE ELIMINATES THE HUMAN TOUCH *** by Bob Branco

9. SPECIAL NOTICES

10. AUTHORS' CORNER

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

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

13. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST (plus an historical note from editor Leonore Dvorkin)

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1. HEALTH MATTERS

A Clutter-Clearing Tip, Adding Healthy Years to Your Life, and More

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com

1. An Easy-to-Apply Clutter-Clearing Tip

Most of us know how good it feels to get rid of any kind of unneeded, unwanted STUFF: clothes, books, papers, abandoned projects, or anything else that's weighing us down. So I was glad to read the following tip. It said to use the last 15 minutes of every day, before you start getting ready for bed, for tidying. In my case, that's roughly from 9:45 to 10:00 p.m., and what I most need to work on is dealing with paper clutter. My progress is slow but steady, and my relief and optimism are increasing as the piles of paper are diminishing. So I hope you'll give this method a try! You may be surprised by how quickly it can become a habit, and then even something that you look forward to every evening.

2. From January 19, 2019:

We were gratified to hear on the radio tonight that a British (?) study showed that weight training does the most for one's mood, more than aerobic exercise. But my husband and I knew that already. David much prefers weight training to aerobic exercise, although he does both. I prefer the weight training, too, and have taught it for almost 43 years, since the summer of 1976. Now I will pump that iron with even more enthusiasm than before!

3. From the January/February 2019 Issue of the AARP Bulletin:

"Ninety-nine Ways to Add Healthy Years to Your Life"

This was a five-page article, so of course I have to list only brief excerpts from it here. But I hope that what I've chosen will be of interest and some use to you.

- Have your doctor monitor your blood pressure and your A1C.

- Lots of belly fat is dangerous. Your waist circumference should be less than half your height.

- People with insurance show slower health declines.

- Seeing a dentist at least twice a year lowers your risk of mortality from all causes from 30-50%.

- Screenings are important! Recommended are colonoscopy, mammogram, and screenings for hepatitis C, skin cancer, and prostate cancer.

- Get plenty of sleep, seven to nine hours per night. But more than ten hours per night is too much.

- Sarcopenia is age-related muscle loss. Maintain muscle as you age to combat chronic inflammation and to lower your risk of disease. Stay strong with resistance exercise, such as weight training, plus lean protein.

- Resistance training and calcium lower the risk of weak bones.

- Over decades, many studies have shown Mediterranean diet to be the healthiest. The diet de-emphasizes red meat. It's rich in vegetables, fruit, fish (fresh or canned), poultry, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and healthy oils, such as olive oil or avocado oil. (We mix those two.) Avocado itself could ward off metabolic syndrome and belly fat. There is plenty of information on this diet online.

- Cut meat, add beans. As I've mentioned before, the nurse who taught the class I took on eating with diabetes strongly recommended beans. All types are good. Canned beans are fine; just rinse them well to cut the salt.

- Increased tea consumption has been linked with lower inflammation levels. All types of real tea are good: black, green, white, and oolong. I wrote about oolong tea and its many benefits last month. I have used and recommend Foojoy China Classic Oolong. It's rather like a light black tea. You can get 100 tea bags of this tasty tea for only $7 from Amazon. I sometimes add a bit of liquid stevia for sweetness, but you should drink oolong tea without milk.

- Cultivate positive relationships in your life, but ditch the negative ones. The latter can be very hard to do, but I know the benefits of this. Note: Our editing client Ann Chiappetta will have a third book out soon: collected poems and essays. One powerful essay has to do with breaking off a toxic relationship. It really spoke to me.

- If you are a caregiver for another person, be sure to give yourself care, too. "Caregiver strain" can shorten your own life.

- Texting while driving is inherently dangerous, but even more so for older drivers. Just don't do it! My husband and I once witnessed a young woman texting while she was trying to enter the Interstate. It was amazing and horrifying.

- Interesting: Lots of fatal crashes occur at intersections, especially when left turns are involved. So pay extra attention in those situations.

- Try to avoid people with head colds, and wash your hands often. And please do not skip the annual flu vaccine! Medicare covers the cost, as do most other insurance plans. There is an extra-strong vaccine for seniors. My husband and I have been getting annual flu shots every year for at least 15 years, with no bad side effects and good protection. Over 80,000 Americans died from the flu in 2018. One of them was a conservative anti-vaxxer, seemingly healthy and only 26 years old. So don't be a statistic; get that yearly shot!

- Ride in the back of the plane. Most airline fatalities occur during final approach and landing. Those in the rear third of the plane have the highest survival rate.

- About 80% of people who died in boating accidents would have been saved if they'd been wearing a life jacket.

- Define what drives you. Purposeful people live longer than their counterparts. (I'm nearing 73. My three at-home jobs, editing books, teaching exercise classes, and tutoring languages, give me purpose and joy and contribute significantly to our total income. I can only hope and assume that the varied work will also extend my life.)

- Reading books helps you live longer, regardless of gender, education, or general health.

- Get out in nature as often as you can. Even a local park can be beneficial. Nature therapy, what the Japanese call "forest bathing," relieves stress and improves immune system function.

About the Author

Leonore H. Dvorkin and her husband, the prolific author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. Their son, Daniel, is a Ph.D. biomedical researcher. David is a retired computer programmer and technical writer, and Leonore is self-employed as a language tutor, exercise class instructor, and book editor. Since 2009, David and Leonore have been running DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. They provide comprehensive editing, formatting, and other services, all at very reasonable rates, to authors who wish to have their books self-published in e-book and print from Amazon and Smashwords. The books are then marketed worldwide, mainly via Amazon. At least 75% of their clients are blind or visually impaired. They are currently accepting book projects for 2019.

Full details of their book services are here: http://www.dldbooks.com/

Leonore Dvorkin's website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/

David Dvorkin's website: http://www.dvorkin.com/

***

2. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF

Four Quick Tips To Gallop Toward Your Goals

by Dennis R. Sumlin

www.CoreConfidenceLife.com

Well....what is a goal? A goal is an aim or object toward which an endeavor is directed, an end point. In other words, a goal is the place where you want to end up.

It's important to have both short-term and long-term goals in order to have a happy and prosperous life.

Goals come in all types: relationship goals, work goals, health goals, family goals, and so on. There are also self-development goals: gaining self-confidence, lowering anxiety, and being more comfortable with yourself. As a coach, I'm able to help you achieve your public speaking and communication goals, but the following tips will help you with any goal.

Step 1. Check the goal. Is this a goal that you passionately want, or is this a goal that you are pursuing because somebody else wants you to? Check that goal!

Step 2. Start from the results. What do you want to have? Where do you want to go? How do you want to feel? When you start from the results, it's much easier to fill in the blanks in between. When you know the results you want, the path becomes clearer.

Step 3. Fill in the blanks. This is a very important step that a lot of people overlook. Write things down. When you write things down, you bring your thoughts into the material world, and you are able to construct a coherent road to your goals. Remember, write things down!

Step 4. Get up off your couch! You could have the best plan in the world to achieve the most successful goals you can think of, but none of it will mean a hill of beans if you don't get up off your hindquarters and gallop toward the finish line.

With these four steps, you can set and reach any goals you choose. To sum up: Make sure they are the goals you want, know where you want to end up, document your ideas and progress, and take action.

You can get the audio version of this and other quick tip articles by going to the "Downloadable Courses" page on www.CoreConfidenceLife.com .

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3. TECH CORNER

Mindless Minutiae: Social Media Saturation

by Stephen Théberge

Lately, I have been increasingly annoyed by all the things I encounter on social media. Not only do I feel I have too many applications, but the few I use regularly seem to increasingly be a waste of time.

The time I spend on Facebook, for example, seems to be a predictable walk. Only rarely do I find a gem in all those posts. I generally don't tie myself to my laptop when using Facebook. It's even more annoying to see posts in seemingly random order. I am sure the developers of the iPhone app have their reasons for how the posts are presented.

Just when it seems I'm all caught up on my posts on Facebook, I am quickly disappointed. I'll be reading posts from eight o'clock last night, say, when I'm catching up in the morning. I am then bombarded by posts from a few minutes to a few hours ago. I see no end to the posts in sight. Even worse is when it mixes in messages from a few days ago. I may or may not remember reading them before, but it is just drudgery.

Then there are those sponsored posts—or I should say, advertisements. I have actually run a few minor campaigns to promote my book, but I have realized that the only way to have people notice you is to have a continuous bombardment of posts, which I cannot afford. Besides, most people would probably be as annoyed as I am to see the same advertisement over and over again. It is very rare that I actually engage and check out an ad on Facebook.

I do like the real news I get from the BBC or other reputable news agencies. We get our news quickly and don't have to wait, as we did in the old days. I do think that this can be a negative aspect as well. We are constantly attaching ourselves to a phone or computer to stay connected.

I used to think that email was superior; I grew up with that in the late '80s and early '90s. Most people, however, use email to bombard us with ads or useless information. Spam blocking and other methods can be helpful. My Earthlink email is the best solution. Anybody that is not in my address book is tagged, and the mail will not be delivered until I tell the system to add the user and send me the email. It's easier to weed most people out and let the rare exception through the system. I don't know why other providers can't do this to control email. I suspect they profit from having junk sent, as there are many companies that charge to send mass emails.

I've discussed this before. We are creatures of habit. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. Our posts are generally predictable. Most people on Facebook really don't care that I'm on the train on my way to work in Boston. People don't really care that I'm at my local restaurant eating dinner. Yet we still fall into this habit.

The people who will like our Facebook posts are the ones we expect to do so. Surprises are rare. This is the reason I've made an effort to change my behavior on all social media, especially Facebook, as I use it the most.

I find that sharing links—or, more specifically, interesting information—is the most valuable asset of social media. People may not care, but at least I'm not ranting. Most people like to learn new things.

I often post information and links to promote my two books. I know it's really saturated on Facebook. I've had five free e-books to give away since last August. I've given three away as of this reading. The free places where authors can promote their books are saturated to a point where nobody really cares. I can attest to this fact. I simply don't have time to check out all the books that are promoted on these pages. There are some who spend hours looking at videos and all kinds of diversions. I simply don't have enough hours in a day to look at all the stuff that's out there.

On Facebook, I've posted YouTube videos I've made. I am sometimes successful. I can see a few likes on the video, but when I check YouTube, I realize that nobody actually watched it. Very few people took the time. I suspect they value their time as much as I do mine.

I will not deny that social media has a place, although I think its position is overrated. When I'm going through the same predictable posts, I have my doubts.

Maybe we all should take the one-week challenge. That is, take the decade you were born, and don't use any technology that wasn't available at that time. I suppose you could make a few exceptions, such as rotary phones in my case, but the point is to not be dependent on technology.

I doubt that this article will change anything in a big way. My intent was only to bring awareness to the issue. Being cognizant of our habits will help us change some of them. Personally, I don't want to be a slave to technology.

I would like to wish all of you a belated happy new year, as I didn't have an article last month. Well, Chinese New Year is—or was, depending on when this issue of Consumer Vision is released—on February 5th.

Follow me on twitter at

@speechfb

Read and post on my writer's blog, http://blinderwriterweb.wordpress.com

Check out the Web page for my coming of age science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, and its sequel, The MetSche Maelstrom: http://www.dldbooks.com/stephentheberge/

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

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQbs0c1vLDuYmb08okZSk8g/videos

***

4. COMMON CORE: A THREAT TO QUALITY EDUCATION

by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)

Several years ago, someone decided that one size should fit all when it comes to education. As a result, Common Core was established. Common Core is a unified educational system designed to educate children equally throughout the United States. This sounds good on the surface, because it's important to educate every child. However, school administrators and other educational leaders need to stop assuming that one size fits all when creating beneficial programs. To me, this is the lazy way out. There should be more of a thought process. Otherwise, just leave things alone.

When I was in school many years ago, I enjoyed learning. I was better at some subjects than others, but I saw nothing wrong with how we were taught. It worked, and I'd like to think I'm a better person because of the quality of education I received. When we occasionally took the achievement tests and scholastic aptitude tests, I understood their purpose. It was a way to let school systems and colleges know where you stood intellectually. If you were a child with learning challenges, the school curriculum was structured according to your individual needs.

In spite of this terrific educational structure that I grew up with, someone decided to mess it up.

I know a mother who can't help her young daughter with math because her daughter is studying Common Core. It's not the math that's the problem; it's the way Common Core teaches it. Why should we complicate something that was already established as an easier learning process?

Instead of watering down education, school administrators should pay more attention to courses that are no longer emphasized as much, such as civics, history, government, and other important subjects that will help produce good citizens and leaders. Furthermore, let's not smother these kids with continuous standardized testing. Let each child learn on his own merit. What works for one child may not work for another.

Several states are attempting to vote Common Core out of their schools as part of a referendum. I sincerely hope they are successful.

About the Author

Robert T. Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is the author of five self-published books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, has written columns for local and international organizations, and publishes a monthly online newsletter, The Consumer Vision. Bob's website, with full information about his books, is http://www.dldbooks.com/robertbranco/.

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5. VICIOUS CIRCLE

by James R. Campbell

Ten years ago, a Harlem activist, Tarana Burke, founded the #Me Too movement as a social campaign to support survivors of sexual abuse. At the time, she had no idea what would become of the platform she launched.

In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano posted on the movement's website about the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Weinstein, a Hollywood film producer, was arrested and charged in connection with the abuse of a number of women. The media pounced on the story, and the result was all too predictable. The movement mushroomed far beyond anything that the original founder envisioned.

While there is a great need for a platform for those who have been subjected to sexual assault, there are those who have taken the campaign entirely too far. When it gets to a point that a man can't show any affection toward women or concern for their welfare for fear of being labeled, we have arrived at a place where grave and permanent harm is done on an enormous scale.

Many factors are at work here. The fact that women who have endured years of suffering or humiliation at the hands of rapists and predators have been dismissed shows the need for online support. In cases such as these, that support is long overdue. Note the case of the gymnasts who were the victims of the demented pedophile Larry Nassar, who is serving an extended prison term for his crimes. Then there's the case of the Baylor fraternity president who didn't receive any prison time for raping a girl two years earlier. This sort of thing happens far too often, and it isn't enough to simply make light of it.

But the unfortunate fact is this: There are those among us who use the #Me Too movement as a tool for making frivolous and false allegations against innocent people. An example of this sort of behavior is that of a spurned girlfriend, or a minor who gets pregnant and blames someone for sexual assault in order to cover up her conduct. The famous case of Gary Dodson comes to mind. He was falsely imprisoned for rape after an accusation was made by a girl who became pregnant. Dodson got a lucky break when his accuser recanted her testimony after a spiritual conversion.

The media plays a big part in the proliferation of the movement and its momentum in the wrong direction. Some women use the movement to get the attention they desire. Their mindset can be summed up as follows: If I level a charge against my boss or some other man and go online, I will get my 15 minutes of fame. Even if some reporter doesn't pick up the story, there is no doubt that it will make the rounds on social media. The end result is the same: An innocent person is placed in a position where their reputation and good name are permanently damaged. Events like these only serve to further erode trust in our society. That we can ill afford.

The dynamic of abuse in and of itself presents a barrier to trust. How does a woman who has been demeaned, threatened, shamed, and physically battered by a partner learn to trust the good man who wants to be a part of her life? I have seen it happen before in my family. There are those who recover, with a great deal of effort that, more often than not, requires outside help. There are others, however, who are permanently altered by what they have been put through. These are the people that many feminist groups play to. The outcome is that many women don't believe that they need men in their lives—a tragic situation for all involved.

Personally, I believe in a woman's right to make a living. My cherished aunt taught school for 38 years, and at 85, still dreams of returning to her daycare job after she recovers from her broken hip. She took care of my grandmother, did the chores that she had to do, and helped me. Today, she is still single, as she has been all her life.

But when it gets to the point that a girl decides that she doesn't need men in her life, that's different. Everyone suffers. The women who lob false accusations don't stop to realize that their behavior hurts their cause. The dreadful result is this: When a woman comes forward with a valid claim of harassment or abuse, she isn't believed, in part because of the false allegations of others. This is a slippery slope that seems to have no end.

Baptist pastor John Piper believes that the problem, in large part, is due to a cultural shift. He believes, as I do, that women need a certain degree of care that only men can provide. Today, relationships are defined by competency rather than deeper spiritual needs. Much, if not most, of the shift has emerged due to the women's movement begun by Betty Friedan and others. What has transpired is the complete disruption of the greater natural order, and we all pay the price, even though many in the feminist camp don't agree.

Many men may opt to remain single, largely due to fear of being falsely labeled for frivolous reasons. We may wind up with a society where our pets and technology become our main source of comfort. If not for our furry friends, our health would suffer, in light of what medical science has learned about the beneficial effects of touch on physical health and immune functioning. People who have physical contact with others have better resistance to illness, as demonstrated by increased numbers of white blood cells. It is probable that oxytocin plays a part in this. Oxytocin has been demonstrated to boost the function of the immune system. Oxytocin is released during episodes of touching, such as between mothers and infants, but the same effect is seen in adults. These findings should give some hint as to how dangerous life can become without the contact we need. Taken to extremes, the #MeToo movement poses such a threat.

We have been bombarded with stories of the rich and powerful—e.g., famous athletes, producers, and politicians—who get away with nefarious sexual conduct. The present trend may well be a backlash against this very tendency on the part of those who protect the powerful male athlete in order to save themselves at any cost. In the Larry Nassar case, these efforts failed abysmally, as they should have. The correction is far too little too late for the many girls who were his victims.

The opinions expressed here are my own; I am speaking from the perspective of someone who is imbued with the belief that women are our most valuable resource. We would do well to see it that way. Women are equals, not to be viewed as idiots and children, as they once were. They have their place, and have made great contributions, but many among their own ranks have forgotten, in the case of those who file false charges against men for reasons that don't carry any validity. I am certain that many who don't concur would accuse me of being patriarchal and only out for my own interests. To those who feel that way, let me say this. I would hate for you to live through what we have been through because of domestic abuse in our family, although many of you most likely have done just that. Let me say to you: I am truly sorry, and only wish that I could be of some help.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell

Campbelljamesr1968@gmail.com.

***

6. WEATHER OR NOT

Snow Bomb or Nor'easter? A Snow Bomb in Popular Culture

by Steve Roberts

On January 4, 2018, a huge ocean storm detonated in the waters off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. This was a particularly powerful bomb cyclone that, at its peak, had a minimum central pressure of 950 millibars. The Weather Channel named this truly great tempest Winter Storm Grayson. The news of Grayson's status as a bomb cyclone spread like wildfire through social media. Ever since Grayson, the term "bomb" or "bomb cyclone" has been in popular use.

The prediction of a big East Coast storm gets the people in social media all jazzed up about the possibility of a big snow bomb. You can have a huge East Coast snowstorm that is not a bomb cyclone. Some of these storms are fierce nor'easters that feature the heavy snow and high winds of a bomb.

Nor'easters Can Be Big Snow Storms, Too

A nor'easter can gradually evolve into a gale center. A low that forms over the Panhandle of Texas can strengthen as it steams along the Gulf Coast. Once the low finds its way to Jacksonville, Florida, it can be a powerful area of low pressure. By the time that storm reaches New England, it can go on to be a rather strong gale center.

If a nor'easter gets blocked by an area of high pressure, there will be high winds as a result. This is due to the fact that there is a gradient—in other words, a pressure contrast—between the blocking high and the nearby low. Under the right conditions, a nor'easter can produce heavy snow and high winds similar to those produced in snow bombs.

What's the Difference Between a Snow Bomb and a Nor'easter?

A bomb develops when a potent but moisture-starved energy center traveling along the polar branch of the jet stream links up with the moisture-rich air flow of the subtropical branch of the jet stream. When this linkup takes place, that little energy center will bomb out! This can happen with Alberta clippers or upper-level lows, which often traverse the polar branch of the jet stream.

If that clipper or upper-level low links up with a low that is traveling along the subtropical branch of the jet stream, then a truly massive bomb will detonate. The storms that form in this way often go on to become our greatest snow bombs. In order for a storm to be classified as a bomb cyclone, its central pressure must fall by at least 24 millibars in a 24-hour period of time.

A nor'easter forms when a primary low in the Ohio Valley hands its energy over to a secondary area of low pressure to the east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. That low then takes over and becomes a nor'easter. Under the right conditions, these storms can produce a foot or more of snow in the Northeast. These are technically referred to as Miller B nor'easters because the primary low, Storm A, hands its energy over to the secondary storm, Storm B.

A storm that forms down in the Gulf of Mexico will run up the Atlantic Coast as a nor'easter. These are called Miller A nor'easters, as there is only one area of low pressure. The Superstorm of '93 was a Miller A nor'easter. Storms that form in the Texas Panhandle are also Miller A storms that can go on to be strong nor'easters.

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7. READERS' FORUM

Hi, Bob.

I fully agree with your analysis on transgender education in schools. As I stated in my book Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention, schools are attempting to take control of our children and take the responsibility for parenting away from the parents. This issue is just the latest one that raises its communistic head, which is terrifying by itself.

Hillary Clinton, back in the 1990s, suggested this course of action: to allow the schools to co-opt the parents' responsibility in teaching children right from wrong. That in and of itself is wrong because, as you said, not everyone is the same and everyone is different, no matter how much people want to say otherwise. "It takes a village to raise a child," but only if that village is of one mind, one vision, and only one ideology.

I appreciate people like you speaking out in such a public forum to state this view. I would like to repost that on my personal Facebook page if you wouldn't mind—with full attribution, of course.

Thanks again, and keep up the great work.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Sollars

Visit my book-related website: http://www.dldbooks.com/robertsollars/

***

8. AUTOMATION IN SERVICE ELIMINATES THE HUMAN TOUCH

by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)

While checking out at a local Walmart recently, I learned that they have a self-service machine that helps customers pay for their merchandise without the benefit of human assistance. My initial reaction was that more jobs will be replaced by automation, which can potentially hurt our economy. What else can I think? If we are encouraged to use self-service checkout machines, who needs a cashier?

Here's the other concern I have. As this form of technology becomes more readily available to consumers, they will be expected to use it. Well, one size does not fit all. While some of us are very good at operating self-checkout machines, many of us are not. Quite often, it takes longer to use automated checkout than it does to get help from a cashier.

I heard that many stores are getting rid of cashiers in favor of automation. How does that make sense? How can every shopper be forced to use automation, just because it's so wonderful? Not all of us are technological experts. We are human beings, some of whom have more knowledge than others. You can't throw the entire human race into a field of automation and expect everyone to succeed. Like it or not, we still need the human touch.

Many McDonald's franchises are replacing food servers with computers. Customers are now expected to order their fast food by pressing buttons. I've heard nothing but complaints about this. At one of our local McDonald's, customers are walking out because they can't handle the automation. Does McDonald's really believe that it should downsize their payroll? I thought McDonald's had a gold mine of success because of its popularity. Yet they want to automate.

Personally, I don't know how to operate a self-service checkout machine or an automated food service computer. Frankly, I don't want to. If mistakes are going to be made, let the employees make them.

Recently, I was at a local bank when one of the tellers announced that their computers were down, causing a work stoppage until everything was up and running. Customers had to wait and waste valuable time.

With the rapid evolution of technology and how much it appears to be necessary in life, I would hate to see what would happen if there were cyber terrorism or a short circuit in a main electrical grid. Has anyone thought of the consequences of such a possibility, if we are forced to put our paper and pencils away in favor of automation? I don't know if many people realize these consequences because of all of this technological dependence and fascination. Society really needs to pay more attention.

About the Author

Robert T. Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is the author of five self-published books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, has written columns for local and international organizations, and publishes a monthly online newsletter, The Consumer Vision. Bob's website, with full information about his books, is http://www.dldbooks.com/robertbranco/.

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9. SPECIAL NOTICES

A. There's a new talk show being broadcast on a number of commercial radio stations. It's "Blind and Beyond Radio," and it's on live every Sunday evening. It's also syndicated to other stations around the country and podcast on its website. They're always looking for people and groups to sponsor the show. Here's the website:

https://www.blindandbeyondradioshow.org/

B. The time is right to join Out-Of-Sight!

We are a group of blind, fun-loving, congenial, and interesting people from all over the world who use our screenreaders and microphones to play games, chat, learn, and socialize on our own internet TEAMtalk server. We have a full schedule of activities every day and evening, and you can drop in whenever you wish. We display our musical talents and play music in our music rooms. You can get help with your computer, your iPhone, your cooking, and your chess game, or you can simply have fun! We also have a book discussion group and Bible groups. There is no end to the stimulation, excitement, and camaraderie you will experience. To join us and receive your materials, simply send your real name, a preferred nickname, if any, your email address, and your phone number to oosnhq@gmail.com. We sum it up by saying: "Catch the vision—it's Out of Sight!"

***

10. AUTHORS' CORNER

News from Leonore Dvorkin of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services

http://www.dldbooks.com/

1. Book Prices in Australia

A client of ours recently had the distressing experience of finding out that his book, which costs under $10 here in the U.S., is considerably more expensive if ordered from Amazon in Australia. He found that out because an Australian friend wanted to order his book. The experience had the unfortunate effect of souring our client on Amazon overall.

Looking up the prices and doing currency conversions with online charts, I carefully compared Amazon prices for his book in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, and Australia. All the prices were within small amounts of one another except for the Australian price; that was the only notable outlier. Thus one can see that the problem is with Australia, not with Amazon itself. Other things that I saw online indicated that book prices are high in Australia in general. However, comparing prices for another book by another client in several different countries, including Australia, I found the price for the book to be only a small amount higher there. So exactly what happened with our client's book, I do not know.

My advice to anyone who runs into a similar problem is this: You can always send your acquaintance a copy of your book that you have purchased at your low author's price (usually about a third of the list price here) and then have that person reimburse you for the price of the book plus postage. The post office has thin but very stiff cardboard envelopes that can safely hold and transport books of various sizes. Or your acquaintance can buy the e-book. No postage is required with that, of course!

What I don't want is for anyone to be down on Amazon for self-publishing. Amazon KDP for print and Amazon for Kindle are the giants in the room; no one else can touch them for marketing reach and sales. We have been editing books by other authors since 2009, and about 95% of their hundreds of sales have been from Amazon, about 50% print and 50% e-book. Amazon KDP does a beautiful job of physical book production, and those who have Amazon Prime, as we do, get their books in two or three days after ordering with free shipping.

So thanks to all our clients who continue to trust us and Amazon to serve you well. We look forward to getting out at least another nine or ten books in 2019. We have already received three new files to work on, with more promised.

2. DLD Books: Sales in December 2018

We are delighted to report that there were at least 89 sales of books by our clients in December alone. Note that this number does not include the numbers for clients whose sales we cannot see for a variety of reasons, and neither does it include the many books that we know some people sold in person, when they had reading and signing events. Some clients have reported selling 15 copies or more at such events. So congratulations to all! Keep up the good work and your innovative and inspiring self-marketing efforts.

3. In my health article this month, I mentioned clutter-clearing: how hard it is to get rid of stuff and how good it feels to do so. This topic reminded me of how large a part STUFF plays in a client's outstanding book about moving her mother, who was in her mid-90s at the time, into assisted living, as well as about their former life together and the author's own blindness. The title is The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter's Memoir, by Mary Hiland (C 2017). It's in paperback and e-book from Amazon and other sellers. In the front of the book are five pages of thoughtful advance reviews of the book from health care professionals and other authors.

To read about the book and the author, go here: http://www.dldbooks.com/maryhiland/

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11. THE HANDLER'S CORNER

Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Recently, thanks to the Perkins Library, my dog-related memoir, Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust, was recorded for the Library of Congress Braille and Recorded Books program, often referred to as BARD. The catalog number is DBC11582.

It was so powerful that I dropped all my other tasks that night and listened to it on my iPhone. It was like a dream come true. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment and will treasure it forever.

Will I write a second book about my life with my guide dogs? I hope so. This time, I hope to highlight the therapeutic benefit of my dogs in the counseling room, and other rewarding experiences.

Until next time, keeping reading, and wags to the fur faces. My books can be found on www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ 

My third book, a collection of poems and essays, will be published in March of this year.

Blog: www.thought-wheel.com

Go to www.annchiappetta for more about me and what I do.

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

by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com

Email: goodthaimom@gmail.com

With the advent of my birthday and the new year, I found myself contemplating the development of the new me for 2019. I want to make positive changes. Each year, I commit to a theme that turns my life around. This year, I will do my best to treat others without cruelty, stretch my mind, and improve my digestive health. I began with a colonoscopy.

Being a diet-controlled diabetic, I've had great fear of fasting. I was concerned I might not survive this ordeal. Before I consented, I spoke with the gastroenterologist, who believed there wouldn't be a problem if I could book the first available one, at 7 a.m.

My first shock was refraining from eating seeds and nuts for a week before the procedure. I said to the lady who phoned to give me my instructions, "But that's what I live on!"

She assured me that I would survive. She said, "You'll like this so much, you'll want to do it again."

Suffice it to say, I wanted nuts and seeds for the next week, strawberries on my birthday cheesecake, sesame seeds in my rice, honey roasted peanuts, and bread.

My son, Isaac, said, "Bread, Mom? Do we have any bread without seeds in the house?"

"Never mind," I sighed. Ah, well, I was doing this for my health, right?

Isaac helped me figure out what I wanted from the store on fasting day, the day before the big procedure. A was allowed only clear liquids and the GoLYTELY. I was told I could have broth and Jell-O, but those are far from being vegetarian. I settled on lemon-lime Gatorade, apple juice, ginger ale, fruit juice Popsicle bars, unsweetened hot tea, and water. I'd drink the GoLYTELY in two separate sessions, one at noon, drinking eight ounces every ten minutes. My next session, I started at 8 p.m. I only needed to drink half the gallon jug. I allowed my grateful friend to drink the rest of it the next day. I felt relieved I didn't need the whole amount.

I was put to sleep for the procedure itself. My emergency alert button was activated, and while I was peacefully asleep, the medics came to my house. I had put it in the bag with my clothes and purse. I'll have to be more conscientious in the future. Next time, I'll give it to my friend. When the procedure was over, my doctor told me I have a very boring colon, and she had removed one polyp. I was given two granola bars and a juice pouch. My friend and driver had to sign the discharge papers, which irritated me because I felt good. I did not feel my judgment was impaired at all. Then off we went to Sam's Club, where I bought a Cuisinart four-slice Belgian waffle maker for $40. It makes four square waffles at once. I was sad because before Christmas, it was $29. I wanted it badly, though, so I paid the full price.

When I got home, I felt alert and excited. Isaac made waffles with strawberry syrup, plus scrambled eggs with onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar cheese. So delicious! Later that day, I sent Zachary to the store to buy coconut cream popsicle fruit bars, which I couldn't have the day before due to their dairy content.

My results came back a few days later. No problems, and no colonoscopy for 10 more years. Peace of mind—a wonderful way to start the new year.

By taking care of the physical, I've been able to improve my mental health. I wanted to find ways to improve my mind, so I downloaded DB28542, The Lively Mind: How To Enjoy Life By Becoming More Mentally Alert, by Jules Z. Willing. I used the BARD Mobile app and read it on my iPad. Within seconds, an audiobook is downloaded and ready for me to read.

In this book, Jules Willing gives practical advice on ways to keep your mind active and fit, your life more interesting and exciting, and to live more fully. A lot of the suggestions I already follow, such as reading multiple books at a time, writing down my thoughts, and pondering a lot of intriguing questions.

I noticed some of my inflexibility and decided to read DB83113, Over The Top And Back: The Autobiography, by Tom Jones. Often one chooses a book because they are familiar with the person the book is about. I was totally unfamiliar with the music of Tom Jones. While reading this autobiography, which is a beautiful love story, I listened to some of his music on my Amazon Echo Dot. I am so enthralled by his music. I feel refreshed because of my new discovery.

Besides my discovery of Tom Jones, I've discovered http://zellepay.com . It allows transfers from one participating bank to another participating bank for free on your bank's app. Within five minutes, my daughter in Columbus, Ohio, was able to deposit money from her account at a different bank to my account in Pittsburgh.

My last piece of good news is that I now remember how to knit. I was so traumatized by my move that I forgot how to knit. Several times in the past few months, I have picked up my needles and yarn. I couldn't wind my brain around it. I couldn't seem to overcome my mental block. But two weeks ago, I picked up my needles and yarn again. It all came back to me. I remember almost everything about knitting. What hope this has given me!

May you also have feelings of hope as the experiences of reading, discovering, and overcoming overtake you. Please email your experiences to me, so I can share them with the rest of our readers.

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13. RECIPE COLUMN

by Karen Crowder

When the month of February arrives, Americans begin to anticipate spring. There are warmer, longer days, and the snow we get in New England melts faster. There are two special days: Valentine's Day is Thursday, February 14, and President's Day is Monday, February 18.

Winter is the season to try new comfort food recipes. I present two easy, delicious supper recipes and a candy recipe fit for Valentine's Day or a birthday.

Contents

A. Stovetop Creamed Tuna and Rice

B. Easy Chicken Rice Soup

C. Yummy Stovetop Fudge

A. Stovetop Creamed Tuna and Rice

My friend Jenny visited me during the holidays. On Thursday, December 20, I prepared this nutritious supper. We loved it. I hope readers try it.

Ingredients

One-half stick butter

Four tablespoons all-purpose flour

Two cups milk

Two six-ounce cans tuna

Two mushrooms

Two small pearl onions

Two slices American cheese

Pinches of curry powder and salt.

Directions

1. In a double boiler or saucepan, melt butter. After five minutes, add flour, stirring ingredients with a whisk for one minute.

2. Add milk and spices. Whisk on low heat until sauce is smooth. Stir sauce infrequently for 25-30 minutes.

3. While sauce is cooking, microwave vegetables in glass dish with a little olive oil for 60 seconds and set aside. Fill a lock-lid saucepan half full of water. Add salt; it will help the rice cook faster. Let water come almost to a boil; this will take about 10 minutes. Add one closed bag of Success rice to the water. Cook the rice for 11 minutes.

4. After draining rice, open bag with a scissors or a knife and put it into a plastic container with a little butter. Stir it around and add to thickened sauce Add tuna and American cheese.

5. Stir all ingredients together and simmer dish until serving time.

A green salad and light dessert are good accompaniments. Everyone will love it and ask where you got the recipe.

B. Easy Chicken Rice Soup

This light meal is good on a rainy or snowy afternoon, especially if you're not feeling well.

Ingredients

Four mushrooms

Three small onions

One half red bell pepper

Olive oil

One teaspoon butter

One can chicken rice soup

One soup can milk

One half can half-and-half or light cream

One half can water.

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, melt butter with olive oil for three minutes. Break up all vegetables and sauté them for 20 minutes.

2. Add chicken rice soup, milk, cream, half-and-half, and dashes of garlic powder and curry.

3. Stir soup for one minute. Let soup simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Serve this light meal with salad and rolls or biscuits

C. Yummy Stovetop Fudge

I began making this fudge recipe in the late 1990s after reading the book Death by Chocolate. It took time and was a success. After several sequential failures with this recipe, I learned you must be patient and not hurry its development. Do not be discouraged if you don't succeed the first time. It also makes exceptional fudge sauce. This fudge takes time to prepare. The compliments you receive make the time and effort worthwhile. Changes I have made are using more unsweetened cocoa, adding bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate, and using more butter.

This is a very old recipe. It's a delicious treat for Valentine's Day, birthdays, or holidays.

Ingredients

One and one-half cups unsweetened cocoa; Hershey's is good.

Two and one-fourth cups granulated sugar

One cup milk

One-fourth teaspoon salt

Six tablespoons or three-fourths stick butter

Two ounces broken-up bittersweet chocolate; Ghirardelli's 72% cocoa bar is best.

One cup Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips

One teaspoon real vanilla

One teaspoon water.

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, put cocoa, water, sugar, and salt. Stir these ingredients around for 30 seconds with a spoon. Add milk and stir again.

2. Cook fudge mixture on low to medium heat, stirring constantly, for 35 minutes. Fill a glass bowl with water and ice. After 30 minutes, begin testing the fudge. Dip a spoon into it and put the spoon in the cold water. If it forms a soft mass, it's not ready to be removed from the stove. After two minutes, test again, and if a semi-soft mass forms, stir for one minute. Test again. If the mass is harder, turn off the heat, removing the pan from the stove.

3. Immediately add broken-up bittersweet chocolate, butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and vanilla. Beat mixture vigorously for several minutes. Let fudge stand for 10-15 minutes and beat again. Let it stand for ten minutes and beat. If it's difficult to stir, line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper or foil. Grease it with butter. Scoop fudge with a one-half cup measure into the pan, covering it with plastic wrap.

4. Refrigerate fudge for 8 to 10 hours.

5. Cut into squares with a serrated knife. I use a short sandwich knife. You will have approximately 24 to 30 squares. Store in a plastic airtight container. Line it first with parchment paper or plastic wrap.

Refrigerated, the fudge will keep for two weeks. With a hungry family, it will disappear fast.

Note: Fudge is a tricky candy to make. Do not attempt to make it in humid, warm weather; it will be too soft. Ideal weather for making fudge is a dry summer day or a cool to cold day. Winter is ideal for making fudge because it's delicious on a cold day.

I hope everyone enjoys these recipes. I am happy that the partial government shutdown is over and we can celebrate the Super Bowl and upcoming holidays. I hope that our government starts learning the art of compromise. Let readers pray for a happy, successful, and unifying 2019.

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14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the January Consumer Vision. On Sunday, July 20, 1969, man landed on the moon for the first time. Congratulations to the following winners:

Roanna Bacchus of Oviedo, Florida

Debi Chatfield of Sun Lakes, Arizona

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Nancy Hays of Oakville, Connecticut

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Robert Sollars of Tempe, Arizona

Steve Theberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

A note from editor Leonore Dvorkin: 

My husband, David Dvorkin, worked for NASA from 1967 to 1971. Thus he worked on five of the Apollo moon-landing missions. At the time, he was mainly a mathematician, doing navigation error analysis. In college, he had studied math, physics, and astronomy. Needless to say, that was an exciting time in our lives. We were married in Houston, Texas, on April 9, 1968, and our only child, Daniel, was born on February 28, 1969. He was almost five months old when his daddy helped put men on the moon.  

And now, here is your question for the February Consumer Vision. What television commercial advertisement included the phrase, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing"? If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.