THE CONSUMER VISION
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Publisher: Bob Branco
Editors for this edition: David and Leonore Dvorkin
(The regular editor is Terri Winaught.)
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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 me 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 me know what works best, and I will do my best to accommodate. – Terri Winaught
In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet are used to separate items.
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Happy New Year, everyone, and I hope you had a good holiday season! It’s traditional to wish others health, happiness, and prosperity for the new year, and that’s exactly what I’m wishing you, the readers of Consumer Vision.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my past health-related articles. Many of them, like this one, have been simple compilations of recent health news tidbits. Others have been more in-depth reports on the benefits of certain items or classes of foods, such as apples, nuts, teas, or spices. For 2019, I plan to continue in the same vein.
This month, most of the articles I summarize are from the excellent site EurekAlert, “The Global Source for Science News.” You can find it here if you wish to follow it yourself: https://www.eurekalert.org/
Below, I give the title of each article, its release date, and a brief summary of it. Some of the summaries are preceded by my personal comments, which are in parentheses.
The compound called GA-Hecate also acts on bacteria, fungi, and cancer cells and will be tested against Zika and yellow fever viruses. It was synthesized by researchers in Brazil. The compound is highly selective, meaning it attacks the virus rather than the host cells. It will probably be about another eight years before the drug can come to market.
(This is further evidence that overweight is very far from being just a question of aesthetics.)
From the article: Overweight and obesity have been linked to an increased risk of 13 cancers: of the breast, colon, uterus, esophagus, gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovaries, pancreas, stomach, and thyroid, as well as meningioma (a type of brain cancer) and multiple myeloma. More recently, overweight has been labeled a probable cause of advanced prostate cancer, as well as cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx.
(This gives an interesting additional reason to try reducing your intake of carbohydrates. But other studies have warned against an extreme reduction of carbs.)
The study showed that low-carb diets can improve blood flow in as little as four weeks. This is a finding that may help pre-diabetic women reduce their risk for heart disease through a low-carb diet. As women age, their blood vessels stiffen more than men’s, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease. In the four-week study at the University of Missouri-Columbia, the men lost more weight than the women did, but the women showed blood flow improvements, while the men did not.
(I have glaucoma, currently well-controlled with medicated drops, brand name Combigan.)
While medical marijuana is commonly proposed to treat glaucoma, a study from Indiana University has found that CBD, which is increasingly marketed to consumers in oils, gummies, and creams, appears to worsen the primary underpinning of glaucoma: a rise in pressure inside the eye. THC, the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, lowers pressure in the eye, but CBD in combination with THC blocks this effect. The study suggests the need to understand more about the potential undesirable side effects of CBD, especially due to its use in children. It has been approved in many states as a treatment for conditions such as pediatric epilepsy.
(As I have often noted, I’ve been teaching weight training classes since 1976. I’m currently 72, and my current students range in age from 67 to 84. The oldest woman, who has been my student for at least 10 years, has commented on how much better shape she is in than the vast majority of her contemporaries, and how much she appreciates all that weight training has done for her.)
The loss of muscle mass and strength is one of the “forgotten” risk factors in cardiovascular health. Yet it can be corrected with a strength training program, even in elderly individuals. The authors of the paper say that it is high time that physical exercise be regarded as a medicine for treating cardiovascular diseases. Also, once one becomes accustomed to it, the amount and intensity of physical exercise can be increased.
This was from a Korean study. Compared with continual smokers, long-term quitters and never smokers had 14% and 19% lower risks for dementia, respectively. Never-smokers had an 18% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. The study included 46,140 men aged 60 years or older in a Korean health screening program, conducted from 2002 to 2013.
Green tea has often been touted as an aid to weight loss, but effective amounts may cause stomach distress. Oolong tea, a mild black tea which should be consumed without milk, speeds slimming as well as or even better than green tea does. Japanese researchers found that just one cup of oolong tea boosts metabolism by 20% for two hours—nearly twice as much as three strong cups of green tea. Oolong also promotes the burning of belly fat. Researchers found that just 8 ounces of oolong tea with a fatty meal cuts fat absorption by 50%. The tea also reduces hunger for up to 24 hours and lowers LDL, the “bad” cholesterol. Other claimed benefits are improved digestion, the curbing of blue moods, increased energy, eased aches, and curbed belly bloat. The recommendation is to sip two to four mugs daily. Pour 6-8 ounces of boiling water over each tea bag and let it steep for two full minutes. / Asian markets carry oolong (sometimes called wulong) tea bags for very reasonable prices. Or go to a health food store. Triple Leaf is one good brand.
About the Author
Leonore Dvorkin and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. Leonore is self-employed as a book editor, a language tutor, and an exercise instructor. She is the author of four published books and many articles; the articles are primarily on the subjects of health, nutrition, and exercise. In 1977, she won a state-wide award from the YWCA for her exercise program, which emphasizes weight training.
Since 2009, David and Leonore have been running DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. They pride themselves on providing excellent, comprehensive services at very reasonable rates. Most of their more than 40 clients are blind or visually impaired.
Leonore and David invite you to visit any of the following websites for more details.
Leonore Dvorkin: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
David Dvorkin: http://www.dvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: http://www.dldbooks.com/
by Dennis R. Sumlin
“Just be honest.” That’s what they say, but is it really that easy? How many people can handle pure honesty? How many people can deliver it in a way that is direct but tactful? Honesty is one of my central values, and this essay takes a look at it.
As you read this, ask yourself: How honest are you? Are you just as honest with yourself as with others? How can you be more honest?
The Frankness of Honesty
To be honest is to be truthful, sincere, and frank in everything you do. One who is honest is also considerate. The act of sincere honesty does not seek to harm. It seeks to set free, and the art of honesty is delivering it in the most compassionate terms. Whether the truth is cheerful or challenging, I believe one should take care, be direct, and balance it with tact.
The Strength of the Double Edge
The strength of honesty is when we are honest with ourselves. We cannot be truly honest and genuine with others without first being truthful with ourselves. The mission of honesty can be a hard one. It requires that we look at ourselves, clearly identify the person in the mirror, and then own what we find.
Honesty requires the drive to find it. The truth seeker seeks it inside and out. It requires openness, acceptance, and humbleness. Without these elements, we would run from ourselves, live double lives, and hurt others. We must live in honesty as well as speak it.
When we live each day in an honesty lifestyle, we live with self-respect, lower stress, and better relationships with others. We build trust, consistency, and happiness, among other benefits.
Things To Remember When Building an Honesty Lifestyle
The idea of white lies is a lie.
The main thing I would like to communicate is that there is no such thing as a white lie. Many people argue this point. To most people, a white lie is small, insignificant, or inconsequential.
However, if we are to build an honesty lifestyle, understanding that a lie is a lie is crucial.
While telling so-called white lies does not, overall, make you a bad person, the challenge of being authentic means that you hold yourself to the standards of your best self and use tact in your honesty. For example, the tried and true question, “Honey, do I look good in this dress?” does not have to end up in a “Yes, dear” if the real answer is no. Reframe it to, “I think you would look even better in the blue dress with the pink cats clawing at each other down the sides.”
Yes, like all of us, I have lied. I have told lies that to me seemed small, or to get myself out of an uncomfortable situation, but being proactive about living an honesty lifestyle is more in line with my authentic spirit.
Three Ways To Start Being Honest with Yourself
In order to be honest with ourselves, we must be willing to look at the hard truths about ourselves, both good and bad.
On my road to authentic personhood, I had to face the reality of how my ego controlled my personality, how I was playing the main role in limiting my social life, and other honkers. I also had to look at my talents and be real about what I could and could not do.
Remember, this is not an excuse for you to lapse into judging yourself. This is so you can objectively look at yourself and move forward with that knowledge.
I want to see you be brave!
Nobody wants to make mistakes, but we all do. We need to go ahead and just get over the fact that we all make them. The best use of a mistake is to learn from it, then apply the lesson. This can only happen if we are honest about what the mistakes are in the first place.
I made a mistake by worrying what people thought about me. I make mistakes when I over-commit to too many projects. What can I learn from that?
Go ahead, try it.
It makes us feel good to know that we know what we are doing or saying, but sometimes, we do not know. Being honest with ourselves means that we accept what we know and know what we don’t know. Then we get to choose whether we learn new things, or say screw it!
This is not a fault-finding mission. This is looking at our full selves. Then we can be honest with others.
Three Ways To Be Honest with Others
You first must be honest with yourself (see above) before you can be honest with others.
One of the main reasons why we lie is because we think we have to be somebody different. I once had a friend who lied about different things in his life: how many kids he had, how far he had got in the entertainment business, and so on. He was not a bad person by any means, but he felt that he had not done enough with his life. This feeling caused shame, so he boosted his life up to be more of what he wished.
The truth was that people liked him for himself. You do not need to be anybody but you. You do not have to have a better life than the dude that scored with 17 chicks in your 10th-grade class. You just have to be you. Share things about you that reflect who you are, what you love, where you want to go, and what you like on your pizza.
Sometimes we lie to specific people or about very specific things while otherwise being an honest person.
To lean more into an honesty lifestyle, figure out why you feel the need to lie to this particular person. Do you feel that they can be judgmental? That they can’t keep a secret? If that’s the case, don’t lie; just don’t tell them information that they will use for nonproductive purposes.
If it’s an issue you lie about, what may be the reason? Was it traumatic? Is it something you feel ashamed of? If so, remember, you don’t have to tell people anything you don’t want to. Also, you can work to resolve the guilt or shame around it.
Leaning more into honesty is challenging, but you can meet the challenge if you want to. Let’s see if we can work together!
by James R. Campbell
One of the most pressing challenges facing our nation today is the opiate abuse epidemic. There seems to be no escape from its lethal grasp. In 2017, over 60,000 people died in the U.S. from drug abuse, the great majority of them from overdoses of opiates.
There are myriad factors that inflame the crisis we are facing. These include, but are not limited to, the availability of heroin, overprescribing by doctors, the influx of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs from foreign countries, and the lack of quality treatment for addicts and their families.
One prominent and often overlooked part of the issue is undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. The unfortunate fact is this: The prevalence of mental disorders in the United States is far greater than we know. Nobody has an adequate estimate as to the numbers of undiagnosed and untreated individuals who suffer daily from symptoms of one sort or another. It is no wonder that many of these people turn to street drugs to numb the torment they are going through. Their reality is far too painful for them to live in, and they seek an altered reality through chemicals.
We see this most often with veterans who have returned from war. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, an under-diagnosed and under-treated anxiety disorder that often leaves its sufferers with flashbacks of traumatic events, nightmares, and overwhelming feelings of alienation, rage, or guilt. Suicide rates among those who are afflicted with it are very high. It is my opinion that many more turn to drugs to relieve the emotional pain.
When you add the number of abused women and children, those living in unstable families, and the genetic predisposition to alcohol and drug abuse, you get some idea of the magnitude of what we are facing. The numbers don’t hold out much hope that things will get any better. Many people who can’t deal with their personal demons turn to drugs in a misguided effort to rein in the despair they experience on a daily basis.
Another entirely overlooked aspect of the problem stems from the undesirable side effects of the medicines used to treat major mental illness. These range from the impotence caused by SSRIs and other related drugs, (Zoloft, Prozac, Cymbalta, others), to the debilitating movement disfigurement known as tardive dyskinesia that is a prominent side effect of antipsychotic drugs used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
I myself have had experience with the first generation of these drugs. The doctors once gave them to me for treatment of anxiety, and most recently, I took chlorpromazine (Thorazine) for uncontrollable hiccups that came about as a result of an infection in 2014. My friends noticed the change in me. The Thorazine shuffle was the way they referred to it. And chlorpromazine isn’t the worst offender in the first generation drugs that we have. If you listen to the list of side effects for the newer medications like Latuda and Abilify that are prescribed today, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that we are worse off today, despite the decades of research and development that went into the deployment of the new antipsychotics that are now the mainstay of treatment.
The side effects are so bad that many patients don’t stay on their medicine, and the vicious circle is reinforced once again. Many patients would rather use heroin or some synthetic opiate than stick with a drug such as Latuda because of the side effects. Given those circumstances, it’s not a far stretch of the imagination to see how we got here in the first place. When you stop and look at the numbers, you get sick.
And if you think for one minute that it can’t touch your family, think again. Several of my friends have lost family and friends to the scourge of opiates. Factor in those who have relatives waiting for liver transplants because of the damage from these drugs, and the extent of the crisis becomes all too apparent.
President Trump has made the opiate abuse pandemic a national cause. He is allocating more money for treatment, has increased drug enforcement efforts, and has proposed capital punishment for high level drug traffickers who bring tons of this poison into our country.
All of these measures are good ones—except for the death penalty. I believe people like the ones we are dealing with don’t want to serve life in maximum-security federal prisons. That being said, this would be a more fitting punishment.
Some think it would be a good idea to have dope dealers attend the funerals of their victims or pay for liver transplants. The problem is that profit kills conscience. Anyone who sells drugs to make a living doesn’t realize that they are destroying their own lives and those of others. They don’t care! As long as they can make money from the misery of their customers, that’s all that counts.
I don’t know how many dual diagnosis and treatment centers we have, but we need more. These places treat the addiction and the underlying illness that has led to it. They also provide treatment for the entire family. When a family deals with an addict, the whole family unit is drawn into a web of desperation that is all too common in our society.
By far the best method of combating the present situation is prevention. Parents should talk to their children about drugs early and often. Education concerning what is available to our kids is ongoing. Until recently, nobody had heard of carfentanyl, or bath salt. Those who ruin lives for profit will do anything to make a quick buck. Wait another five years, if not sooner, and the picture will change.
What attracts most people to a substance such as fentanyl, let alone heroin or oxycontin? It’s a one-hit hook. It seems like an easy out for a child who is abused or a vet with PTSD. They forget their problems for a while. They make the same choice over again, and we see the end result.
We must provide our children with stable, loving environments, complete with the necessary boundaries to safeguard them from the very real danger outlined here. We need to give them reasons to say yes to a better life than that offered by the dealers, or they may not have a life at all. Many don’t, and that is a tragedy that we can do something about if we pull together.
As always, thanks for your time.
With Loving Kindness,
James R. Campbell
by Bruce Atchison
News Hour: Family thanks Good Samaritans for help with wheelchair on snow-covered street
An Edmonton family is sharing a kind gesture that happened last week when they were on their way home from school. As Julia Wong reports, two strangers stepped up to help a six-year-old boy in a wheelchair.
Matthew Gessner has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair to get around. On Friday, snow blanketed the Edmonton area, making it difficult for Matthew to wheel home from school.
Mom Shannon Ranger said the one-kilometer walk typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes, but the snowfall hampered the walk.
“The thickness of the snow and the wetness of it caused it to be almost impossible,” she said.
Ranger said she tried to push Matthew through the snow, but his wheelchair kept getting stuck.
A man nearby came with a shovel to create a path on the sidewalk, she said, then a couple blocks later, another man offered to help the group get Matthew home.
The two men picked up Matthew and his wheelchair, together weighing roughly 90 pounds, and carried him approximately 300 meters back to the family’s house.
“I had never experienced anything like that before,” Ranger said.
“The fact the people even noticed us blew me away. I was very appreciative and I don’t even know how to begin to thank them for what they’ve done.”
Ranger said the men didn’t give their names or exchange any information but she is thankful for their help.
“The Good Samaritan and the positivity they brought out to show humanity is still good,” she said.
“It doesn’t take very much to show that you care. It doesn’t take very much to just do something to help somebody else. It could change their entire day or week or, for that matter, year.”
Ranger said Matthew was amazed by the encounter and could not stop talking about it the rest of the night.
“I said thank you because it was actually very nice of them, what they did,” Matthew said.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
by Bob Branco
(Originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
News says that at schools in a particular city in the UK, children will be taught that all genders can have periods as part of new sex education lessons—a victory for transgender rights campaigners. The Brighton & Hove City Council is opening the door for eight-year-olds to fully understand the menstruation process, no matter what gender they are. There will even be menstruation kits in boys’ as well as girls’ restrooms.
I don’t understand why someone thinks it’s so important to force the subject of gender identity on impressionable young children. Most of these children understand who they are, yet society wants to attempt to make all sizes fit one.
First, I know that there are transgender people. Most of them are full-grown adults who waited until they were old enough to pursue this course of action. Second graders are too young to know if they should change genders, so why force them to understand gender identity prematurely?
There is more to this new trend, but I will assume you get the idea. While it’s important for adolescents to know about periods and menstruation as a physical characteristic, I don’t feel that school systems or any other organizations should attempt to force this on very young children until they are ready to ask about it. When I was eight, I didn’t need to see a menstruation kit near my urinal in order to learn what it was, whether I was curious or not. If I really wanted to know, I’d ask someone. Boys knew their role, and girls knew theirs.
If we encountered people from the LBGT community, we learned to understand their beliefs and respect them for who they were. If I had the desire to be gay, lesbian or transgender, I’d make my own decision when it felt appropriate for me, and only me. Furthermore, if young children are too ashamed to ask what menstruation is or the type of products associated with it, their parents can discuss it with them privately. Why should private issues in the home always be brought into the school systems? Don’t teachers have enough to do already? As society evolves, teachers are assuming the roles of social worker, counselor, babysitter, and referee, which take away more time from the actual job of educating.
The school system I referred to also wants to establish the use of non-gender uniforms because they would make all children inclusive. I don’t know about you, but when I was a boy in school, I felt very much inclusive. Can’t we stop coming up with all of this analysis of gender identity and just focus on traditional education? Leave the personal issues where they belong, in the home.
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
by Steve Roberts
A nor’easter is called a nor’easter for two reasons: 1) It travels in a northeasterly direction along the East Coast of the United States. 2) These storms hit the northeast coast with winds that come out of the northeast.
A nor’easter can be anything from the remnants of a hurricane to a storm called a winter hurricane, or wintercane for short. A nor’easter can produce blizzards, ice storms, and floods. How can one storm be so many things to the people who incur its wrath?
From the Remnants of a Hurricane to a Winter Hurricane
In the months of August and September, hurricanes can ride up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Some of these storms maintain their hurricane status. Then there are hurricanes that become mid-latitude cyclones, due to the fact that they have lost their tropical characteristics. These storms then become gale centers and impact the Northeast as nor’easters. These storms can produce heavy rain and high winds over a vast area.
During the month of October, a dying hurricane can give its moisture to a developing area of non-tropical low pressure, giving that low added intensity in the process. These storms can go on to be truly powerful nor’easters. These storms have produced heavy rain, high winds, and even snow.
Once we get into the month of November, nor’easters can become bomb cyclones. A bomb forms when an energetic jet stream disturbance in the polar or northern branch of the jet stream flow links up with moisture that is being carried along by the subtropical or southern branch of the jet stream. Where these flows link up, a bomb will detonate. A typical bomb cyclone will produce one- to two-inch-an-hour snow that is whipped around by winds of 35-50 mph. These storms will leave a foot or more of snow in their wake.
The biggest bombs are called wintercanes, which is short for winter hurricanes. These storms can dump snow at rates of two to four inches an hour, whipped around by winds that frequently gust to hurricane force. These tempests will often leave feet of snow in their wake.
Blizzards, Ice Storms, and Floods
A nor’easter that bombs out will overspread the people and places along its path with blizzard conditions. A blizzard occurs when snow is falling or blowing enough to limit visibility to a quarter of a mile or less with coinciding winds of 35 mph. These conditions must be met for a minimum of three hours.
A nor’easter can produce an ice storm. If the rain falls into a shallow layer of subfreezing air, that liquid rain will freeze on contact with power lines, pavement, and other subfreezing surfaces.
A nor’easter can cause floods. The heavy rain produced by a nor’easter can melt snow, thus compounding the impact of heavily falling rain. Three inches of rain coupled with four inches of melt water from snow can result in severe flooding. This is how a nor’easter is a chameleon of a maelstrom.
Here is some exciting news from Christine McDonald, author of the gritty autobiography Cry Purple. She sent this notice to Leonore Dvorkin in late December 2018.
Cry Purple, The Movie, is now a registered film in process on IMDb, and the screenplay was just approved and registered with the International Screenwriters’ Association. This will be a feature film. Huge announcements about it are coming in January.
Christine McDonald’s website is here: http://www.dldbooks.com/cmcdonald/
There you will find full information about her bestselling autobiography, Cry Purple (2014), and about her second book, The Same Kind of Human (2016).
Christine is a client of DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, http://www.dldbooks.com/
Leonore Dvorkin edited Cry Purple.
HOMECOMING: A MEMOIR
by David C. Russell / C 2018
In paperback ($7.50) and e-book ($2.99) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
Cover, synopsis, author bio, free text sample, buying links, and contact information: https://www.dldbooks.com/davidrussell/
From the Book
Home for me is a memorized address, dorm room, apartment, premises with floor type identified by my feet, brand loyalties, local radio stations, siblings, and more.
Most young adults leave the physical premises of home. The memories and mementos of home accompany us to new dwellings, spaces, and addresses called home. Thus possessions come with us on the journey. They can be things like brand loyalties, day planners, CD or DVD collections, inner desires for peace and quiet, or some party atmosphere that contributes to our personality.
I am sharing some of my journey, based on my recollection of things that have accompanied me as I have created numerous new homes over this lifetime. I believe home includes our heritage, roots, and evolving faith practices.
We live in a society noted for mobility and change. Our current routines may be temporary but lead to new adventures and people who come onto the stage of our journey. My advice is: Pray to God for strength, welcome new acquaintances, and be flexible. While trust is not a blank check and must be earned, start small and go from there.
About the Author
David C. Russell has been blind from infancy. He and his wife, Sherry, have two children and two grandchildren and reside in Michigan. Professionally, David is a short story writer, a pianist specializing in adult contemporary music, and formerly a music therapist and medical transcriptionist. His previous published writings include a novella and stories in several anthologies. Details are on his website, linked to above.
Comments on the book from a reader:
The cover is so beautiful! Certainly, if I were walking through a bookstore and saw that cover, I would pick up the book and page through it curiously. But I did also enjoy reading it. I liked that it was short enough to read in an afternoon, but that it was comprehensive enough to tell a great story about an amazing journey from birth to senior citizenship. The inclusion of the photos of David was very nice, and I felt gave the story extra life. I enjoyed his voice in the story and the things he chose to add here and there that really helped us get a glimpse into a sightless life. I was left with a sense of mystery and wonder, having read all about his journey and still not quite understanding how he did it, so the ending chapters on his faith were even more relevant and touching; I enjoyed them very much. I felt that it all went to speak about how his life is, how his mind works, and how it all works out. I am very pleased to own the book.
Holly Isle, 12/30/18
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
Blessings and warmest greetings to you all this holiday season. The fur faces are excited to discover what gifts we have for them under our Christmas tree. It’s usually something good to eat or play with, wink.
I want to share a poem by a good friend, Janine Stanley, found on http://www.dogingtonpost.com/twas-the-night-before-christmas-guide-dogs-edition/
‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Copyright 1996 by Jenine Stanley
‘Twas the night before Christmas and the kennels were still,
with most dogs now asleep having eaten their fill.
The Labradors sprawled out, quite snug in their beds,
while visions of ANYTHING edible danced in their heads.
And the Goldens and Shepherds curled up on the floor,
some twitched in their sleep and some even did snore.
The dog food was stacked in the feed room with care,
in hopes that a trainer soon would be there.
On the window ledge, one of the kennel cats lay,
surveying the lawn at the end of this day.
Something was different, that little cat knew.
Tonight, something would happen, it had to be true.
For that day as the workers had left to go home,
They’d wished Merry Christmas! before starting to roam.
The dogs had noticed it too during this past week’s walks,
the trainers seemed just that much happier and eager to talk.
In the mall where they worked through the maze of people and stores,
there were decorations and music and distractions galore!
Most dogs pranced along without worry or fear,
but some balked at the man on the sleigh and those fake-looking deer.
The cat was almost asleep when he first heard the sound,
a whoosh through the air and a jingle around.
It reminded him of a dog’s collar when the animal shook,
but this sound kept on growing. He’d better go look.
From the ceiling there came a faint sort of thunk,
as the kennel cat climbed to the highest pile of junk.
Once before people had worked on the roof,
and come down through the trap door to a chorus of “Woooof!”
But the dogs still were quiet, all sleeping so sound,
as this man dressed in red made his way right on down.
He patted the cat as he climbed past his spot,
then made his way right to the trainers’ coffee pot.
A Shepherd sat up, not fully awake,
then a Golden followed her with a mighty loud shake.
That did it! All the dogs sprang to life with loud noise.
In spite of the din, the old man kept his poise.
He filled the pot full and it started to brew,
then he pulled up a chair and took in the view.
Dogs all around him, so carefully bred,
he knew well their jobs, the blind people they led.
Some had stopped barking and looked at him now,
while others delighted in their own deafening howl.
Laying a finger in front of his lips,
the jolly old man silenced the excitable yips.
“You all may not know me, but I’m Santa Claus,”
the old man smiled and took a short pause,
While he filled up his mug with hot liquid and cream,
“I’ve always wanted to stop here. It’s been one of my dreams.”
The cat had climbed down and was exploring Santa’s sack.
“Yes, little kitty, that’s an empty pack.”
Santa smiled as he drank and looked at those eyes,
deep brown ones and gold ones held wide in surprise.
Some of these dogs,
he’d seen just last year.
He’d seen the effects of a pup on the tree,
but now they were here at the school, just waiting to be.
“I didn’t bring you presents or bones just to chew.
I’ll tell you something better, what you are going to do.”
“You all will work hard and the trainers will share,
both praise and correction, gentle and fair.”
“You’ll go lots of places and face big scary things.
You’ll ride buses and subways and hear fire sirens ring.”
“Cars will drive at you but you will stand strong,
not moving into danger, not moving toward wrong.”
“And then just when you think that this trainer’s the best,
the kindest, and funnest person, toss away all the rest,”
“That trainer will begin to ignore you and give you away,
handing your leash over despite your dismay.”
“Now the person who pets you and feeds you will be a blind person.
That’s a person who can’t see.”
“This man or this woman may see just a tad,
but their view’s missing parts or the focus is bad.”
“So you, well trained dogs, will act as their eyes.
You will work as a team and discover the size”
“Of this great world we live in, because you will go
a million new places with this person, you know.”
Santa sipped at his coffee and looked over the brood,
knowing what he had to say next might sound kind of rude.
“Not all of you will make it and become canine guides.
Your time here isn’t wasted though. You won’t be cast aside.”
“Some of you will be drug dogs and some will find bombs.
Some will become pets in a home with a dad and a mom.”
“All these things are important. People wait on long lists,
to receive such good dogs as you, the school folks insist.”
The last drop of coffee had gone into his cup
as Santa turned, smiling at each wide-eyed pup.
“The best gift of all is to give something back.
That’s why there’s nothing for you all inside of my pack.”
Draining his mug, Santa went to each pen,
and petted and scratched each dog again and again.
“Now next year and many more years after that,
you all will give gifts wherever you’re at.”
“You might lick a hand that’s had a bad day,
Or notice a car and step out of the way.”
“You might help catch a crook or discover some loot,
Or just bring some joy to a tired old man in a funny red suit.”
“Your master will love you and treat you with care.
In return, your training and trust will always be there.”
After the last dog had been petted and soothed,
Santa put away the coffee pot and made ready to move.
Up the ladder he rose to the door high above,
with a smile and a wave as he slipped on his gloves.
And all the dog ears were pricked as he disappeared out of sight.
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”
Find me: www.annchiappetta.com
For book buying and other writing by Ann Chiappetta, go to www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/
My two books thus far are Upwelling: Poems and Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust. A third book is coming in 2019.
by Penny Fleckenstein
Who blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
Email me at: email@example.com
How fascinating! Here we are in a brand new year with so much to be grateful for. In the beginning of 2018, I joined Goodreads, http://www.goodreads.com. I set my goal of reading 50 books in the year. I have exceeded that goal, having read some of the books accidentally. One of my accidental reads is a book called The Art Of Possibility: Transforming Professional And Personal Life, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. Benjamin is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, and his wife Rosamund runs a family therapy practice. I recommend the audiobook, which I downloaded from http://www.audible.com. For $16 a month, I can download one book a month. For $23, I can download two books a month. I’m in my fourth reading of this book using my Amazon Echo Dot device and starting to implement these practices in my life. What a big difference these practices have already made! This is the best self-help book I have ever read.
One of the benefits of an Audible membership is that if you purchase a book you don’t like, you can call them or go on the website and exchange books. You always have access to your audible library.
Goodreads is a great way of finding book recommendations, knowing what your friends are reading, reviewing books, and charting your progress. It’s Facebook for readers and authors. I find the iPhone app fairly easy to use. I have my son Eric search for and download apps on my iPhone and iPad. Just yesterday, I had him download the Xfinity app. Now I can watch my recordings of Dr. Oz and other shows while I’m away from my television. I’m so excited about this because for the first time, I can listen to my Amazon Echo Dot or watch TV while I sit at the table cutting up fruits and vegetables.
One of my favorite Christmas gifts is the third-generation Echo Dot. The speaker is amazing, increasing the sound quality tremendously. I hear wonderful sounds I never heard while listening to my second generation Echo Dot.
Another item I’ve acquired is a Panasonic 5 handset phone from Sam’s Club for $100. After three or four years, my old Panasonic phones were not working so well. I love this new model because the receivers tell me in a lady’s voice, “Low battery, low battery, low battery.”
I called my friend Andrea. She got a call on the other line. She said, “If it’s a telemarketer, it only rings once or twice, and they’re gone.”
“How do you do that?” I asked, and she handed the phone to her husband Ray. Here’s how he explained it to me:
Go to: http://connect.xfinity.com. Sign into your account and go to the link called Block telemarketers with Nomorobo.
It really works! My telemarketing calls have significantly decreased.
May these tips be helpful in the new year. May blessings, prosperity, peace, joy, and love be abundant in your life. Please write to me and let me know about you and any tips you would like to share with other readers.
by Marcy J. Segelman
Shalom! It is hard to believe that the year is over. 2018 was a very difficult year for a lot of us because of medical or financial problems, loss of loved ones, or family situations.
I always say that I have a double New Year—the regular New Year and the Jewish New Year. It seems that we always feel great around the holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving and going into Christmas, Chanukah, and other holidays. Bless us all for our individual holidays. We all have our rituals for our holidays of thanks.
We tend to be busy this time of the year. I find it so strange that Christmas comes the same time every year, December 25, but people wait for the very last minute. On the other hand, I know a family in which the grandmother waits a few weeks after Christmas and starts shopping already for the following year. Gee, I think that’s nuts. But in one way I guess it can be good. You can buy everything and put it in a safe place till next year. It does sound good for someone who can keep the gifts straight and not overdo it.
There’s a coffee shop where a lot of us gather. It’s like Cheers: Everyone knows everyone. We talk and joke. On Monday, we have prayer night with Lynn. On Tuesday, football picks with Tom if it’s that time of year; otherwise we have Farkle. Wednesdays, music with Tom. Thursday, Bible study. Every other Friday, Joanie has books and more. Bob has many things as well, and Steve and I have trivia. It’s a family atmosphere. We bring together a family of all faiths, and we learn from one another. We know each other, and we have a close bond.
Let’s get back to what I was talking about at the beginning. We all have traditions and rituals and beliefs, but deep down, we all want to have one thing at the end of the day, and that is peace, health, food, just enough money to keep afloat, the ability to put food on the table without wondering if we’ll make it till next month. But it always seems that when this special time of year comes, there is one thing we all do have as a common denominator, and that is we want peace and for the next generation to have no war, no hunger, no arguing about who is better. We need to work together as one.
Sometimes you don’t get things right. Maybe you just won’t get it the first time or even the next dozen times, but it’s okay because whatever the mistakes are, G-D will forgive you as long as you forgive yourself or the other person, and you work with Him or each other. So this is why we all come together to help one another out. Whatever you are, we are friends. We’re a family. Yes, we’re of different backgrounds, even from different countries. At the end of the day, there is not one of us who would not come to the aid of one who needed support. So, my friends, this is my prayer wish for us in the Jewish High Holidays. On Rosh Hashanah we open the gates, and on Yom Kippur we close the gates. So I want to say as we close the gates to 2018 and we welcome the new year, 2019, let us say Happy New Year, and a healthy one as well. As we say on Rosh Hashanah, L’Shana Tova, to a good year.
Marcy J. Segelman
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the December Consumer Vision. The number of birthdays that a human being has in a lifetime is one. We are born once, and then we celebrate our birthday every year. Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts
And now, here is your trivia question for the January 2019 edition. What historical event took place on Sunday, July 20, 1969? If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-994-4972.