The Consumer Vision

January/February, 2014

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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Web Site:

Email Address:

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

CD Production: Bob Zeida

CD Reader: Bob Zeida

Email Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

Board of Directors: Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Bob Hachey, Allen Hensel, Alan Soule and Gail Teixeira

Note: For searching purposes, three asterisks (***) have been inserted just before the beginning of each new article or section.

Table of Contents

A Notice from the Publisher

New DOT Rules Make Flying Easier for Passengers withDisabilities

We Can't Even Show Affection

My Christmas-Related Rant

Are We Hooked on the Computer?

Dangers of After-Hours Doctor Calls

Black Friday is a Joke

Recollections of Three Cold Winters

The Moby Dick Marathon

Coastline Elderly Nutrition News: Soups On!

Special Notices

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

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A Notice from the Publisher

Dear Readers,

When submitting correspondence to Consumer Vision, please send your emails to I only use the G-mail account for sending the magazine to you, because Verizon treats it as spam material. As a result, I very rarely check the G-mail account between publications. I enjoy reading your comments, so again, please send all correspondence to my Verizon account.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Bob Branco

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New DOT Rules Make Flying Easier for Passengers with Disabilities  

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), in its ongoing effort to ensure equal access to air transportation for all travelers, is requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities. In addition, DOT will allow airlines to choose between stowing wheelchairs in a cabin compartment on new aircraft or strapping them to a row of seats, an option that will ensure that two manual, folding wheelchairs can be transported at a time. 

The new rules are part of DOT's continuing implementation of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. 

"All air travelers should be treated fairly when they fly, regardless of any disabilities they may have," said Secretary Foxx. "These new rules build on our past work in ensuring that our air transportation system is accessible for everyone, while balancing both airlines' and passengers' need for flexibility."     

Under the new websites-and-kiosks rule, covered airlines are required within two years to make pages of their websites that contain core travel information and services accessible to persons with disabilities, and to make all of their web pages accessible within three years.

Websites are required to meet the standards for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The requirement applies to U.S. and foreign airlines with websites marketing air transportation to U.S. consumers for travel within, to or from the United States.  

The rule also requires ticket agents to disclose and offer web-based discount fares to customers unable to use their sites due to a disability starting within 180 days after the rule's effective date.

Airlines are already required to provide equivalent service for consumers who are unable to use inaccessible websites. Under the new rule, airlines must also offer equivalent service to passengers with disabilities who are unable to use their websites even if the websites meet the WCAG accessibility standards. 

In addition, any automated kiosks installed at U.S. airports for services -- such as printing boarding passes and baggage tags -- must be accessible to passengers with disabilities until at least 25 percent of all kiosks at each airport location are accessible. Even if no new kiosks are installed, 25 percent of kiosks at each airport location must be accessible within 10 years. The standards for accessible kiosks are based on those set by the U.S. Department of Justice for ATM and fare machines in its 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act rule as well as the Section 508 standards for self-contained closed products, such as copiers. 

DOT's wheelchair rule provides airlines with more flexibility because it permits airlines to transport passenger wheelchairs by strapping them across a row of seats using a strap kit that complies with applicable safety standards, in addition to stowing them in a closet or similar compartment. In 2008, DOT issued a rule prohibiting airlines from using the seat-strapping method on new aircraft as an alternative to stowing the manual wheelchair in a closet or similar compartment. In that same rule, DOT allowed the use of a seat-strapping method on existing aircraft. Based on a fuller evaluation of the costs and benefits, DOT has now revised its position to also allow the use of seat-strapping on new aircraft subject to certain conditions.  For example, if an airline chooses to use the seat-strapping method to stow a wheelchair, it must transport two wheelchairs in the cabin if requested unless stowing the second wheelchair would displace other passengers. 

If an airline chooses to use a closet to stow a wheelchair, then it will still be required to stow only one wheelchair in the cabin. However, in this case it must install a sign or placard prominently on the closet indicating that a wheelchair and other assistive devices are to be stowed in this area with priority over other items brought onto the aircraft by other passengers or crew, including crew luggage.     

The rule on accessible websites and kiosks is available on the Internet at, docket DOT-OST-2011-0177. In addition to accepting public comments on the web-and-kiosk rule through this website, the Department partnered with Cornell University's eRulemaking Initiative (CeRI), Regulation Room, designed to improve the public's ability to understand and participate in the rulemaking process. A goal of the CeRI team is to make Regulation Room as accessible to as many users as possible. This partnership supports President Obama's open-government initiative. The final rule on wheelchairs is available at the same website at docket DOT-OST-2011-0098.  



Mark Adreon

Program and Employment Specialist  

3411 South Alaska St.

Seattle, WA  98118


Check our web site at  

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We Can't Even Show Affection

by Bob Branco

Recently, in a Colorado school system, a 6-year-old boy was suspended from school because he kissed a little girl's hand. At first, they wanted to charge the boy with sexual harassment, but later they downgraded it to inappropriate behavior. Imagine that -- a poor little boy charged with sexual harassment.

Even if a 6-year-old knows that his behavior is inappropriate, he is supposed to have parents who can talk with him about it. In this case, I don't think that this child behaved inappropriately at all. I think he kissed the girl's hand because it was a friendly, affectionate act of kindness. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being kind and showing affection. In fact, I think this world needs more of it.

There are times when I don't understand school suspensions. Is school a privilege that should be taken away? I thought punishment meant that you couldn't watch television, play sports or hang around with your friends. Since when is taking away your education a form of punishment when a principal punishes kids for skipping school on purpose?

To get back to the original subject, I have witnessed several incidents in my life where people kissed someone else's hand. Sometimes it happens in hospitals or during religious events. This does not constitute sexual harassment. These are affectionate gestures. In a hospital, a loved one may be trying to nurture a patient back to health spiritually by kissing his hand.

In second grade, I kissed a little girl on the cheek once. I don't know -- it might have been her birthday or the beginning of a long vacation when I wouldn't be seeing her for a while. I knew why I did it, she knew why I did it, my teacher knew why I did it and my mother knew why I did it. It was a form of affection, not sexual harassment. If I did something wrong in school, and if my teacher told my parents about it, my parents would talk to me, and the matter would be done with.

Today, I sometimes hug little children because they need a hug or because it makes them happy. There is no underlying reason for this; it is something I was brought up to do, and I know my parents always had the best of intentions when raising me to do the right thing. So as a result of some individuals who practice bad sexual behavior, we, the moral ones, have to be deprived of our character. School principals, psychologists, the police, and other authority figures have enough to worry about where the bad behavior is concerned without looking for it in people who don't intend to do it, especially little, innocent boys who can't even comprehend what I just wrote about.

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My Christmas-Related Rant

by Jim Eccles

It sounds odd, but, in my personal experience, one of the hardest things for a blind person to do completely successfully is to receive packages resulting from family Christmas and birthday gifts purchased online and received at home -- particularly if the shipper involved is United Parcel Service (UPS).

The problem is an otherwise quite reasonable company policy: make each delivery in the fewest possible seconds, allowing for the highest number of package deliveries during each UPS driver's shift. Unfortunately, when a totally blind recipient is involved, delivery-completion reliability should trump speed; but how would a particular driver even know that this special-case situation exists in any particular, individual package-delivery transaction?

I ponder this question each time there is the short, sharp, harried knock on my door, knowing full well that, no matter how near to our front door I have stationed myself in anticipation of taking receipt of this all-important holiday gift, all I will hear, once I frantically open the outside door as quickly as possible, is that confounded truck, driving away; and where the devil is that ostensibly delivered package located now anyway, on the front deck, below the porch steps, just above our sidewalk steps . . . where?

What is needful in the shipping-request portion of the online order form is a data field that says "recipient must receive delivered items directly from the delivery person --YES/NO"

Unless they know that there is a need for altering their standard operating procedure, it is never, ever going to happen.

Now I wonder how the blind and low-vision community could effect this all-important, occasional change in online ordering and individual shipping instructions?

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Are We Hooked on the Computer?

by Bob Branco

I wonder what would happen if, God forbid, a company's entire computer system crashed, making it unusable for hours. Would any of the clerks, secretaries or customer service workers ever think to go back to using paper on a temporary basis just so that they can continue to earn their pay during this crisis?

The reason I am bringing this up is because I recently went to a facility that required me to pay a co-payment for services. I paid it in cash, and the clerk offered to give me a receipt. Being that her computer was temporarily out of service, she told me that it would take a while before the receipt was printed. Wouldn't she had been better off if she simply wrote the receipt with a pen, gave it to me, and moved on with her day? Why do we all have to wait for a computer to work even though we were all taught how to write? I'm sure that in one of her drawers she has a stack of paper and a bunch of pens. Problem solved!

I love computers, and I am glad that I own one. Computers make life a whole lot easier. However, if one breaks down on the job, the staff should be willing to revert to the old ways temporarily, just so that customers can be properly served. Why should I have waited 30 minutes for a printed receipt when I could have been given a handwritten one in 30 seconds? What's wrong with that?

Your thoughts are welcome.

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Dangers of After-Hours Doctor Calls

sent by Michelle Thompson

Unfortunately, physicians are challenged these days by how to use technology to their advantage and not let it work against them. There are well-established trends happening every day that can cause harm to a physician’s practice and to the patient. For example, "after hours" Medicine is being fielded by operators who answer the calls after being instructed how to “triage” patient care, but who are not qualified or prepared to do. This puts both the physician and the patient at risk.  

Most of these phone conversations, where there is medical care being delivered, go undocumented and may lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings.  Physicians and live operators should be held accountable after hours to the same standard as physicians and their office staff are during regular office hours. 

“Doctor shopping” is also a trend that many who are addicted to pain pills try by calling answering services for doctors to get prescriptions. This wastes the physician’s time without technology showing if the caller is an active patient.

How can these dilemmas be solved? Doctors need to use technology to their advantage, and one physician took matters into his hands by creating MedXCom -- a Medical Answering Service that can be viewed as providing "Virtual House Calls.” Below is more information on MedXCom; please let us know if you are interested in interviewing the physician founder or a physician who uses the system.


Michelle Thompson


MedXCom does the following for the physician:

1. Automatically views the caller’s personal health profile before taking the call via the MedXCom App -- avoids medical mistakes, drug seekers, etc.

2. Records and archives all calls made into or out of the system (23 years)

3. Securely messaging patients from the App

4. Securely receiving images from the patient (may be very useful in postoperative situations)

5.  Managing call routing rules directly from the practice’s MedXCom web portal or mobile device to never miss a call

6. Listen to messages from any phone or through your practice’s MedXCom web portal or directly via the app

7. Patients can have access to recorded phone conversations -- patients may need to hear the instructions more than once!

CWR Partners, 11 Robert Toner Blvd Suite 5 Box 154, North Attleboro, MA 02760 United States

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Black Friday is a Joke

by Bob Branco

Thanksgiving is a holiday for families. As a traditionalist, and as someone who believes in the meaning of Thanksgiving, it is important for friends and loved ones to bond together, and to give thanks for what they have. While the tradition still exists, it is in direct competition with anxious shoppers who prefer to leave their Thanksgiving dinners in order to camp out in front of stores, waiting for them to open at Midnight. Have we become too much of a commercial society? Do people need that 42-inch television more than dinner with their loved ones?

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, isn't worth the aggravation. It's gotten to the point where shoppers have used pepper spray in order to cut through lines to get to the item of their choice. People have died as a result of violent behavior from anxious shoppers who only think of themselves.

Business owners should realize the trend that's developing as more and more people want to take advantage of Black Friday. These owners should have several bargain days, giving shoppers a choice as to when to make their purchases. Furthermore, no store should open at midnight.

We need to preserve family tradition as much as possible. If I arranged a Thanksgiving dinner, and before the turkey is carved, one of my relatives announces that she can't stay for dinner because she has to go wait in line for 10 hours in order to buy a smart phone, I would not take it very well. Before any of us should be thankful for our cell phones, IPods and television sets, we should remind ourselves to be thankful for our health, our loved ones, and the happiness we are blessed with. I believe that it's the stability, the security, and the blessing of family and relationships that help make us better human beings.

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Recollections of Three Cold Winters

by Karen Crowder

On January 8, 2014, bone-chilling temperatures are felt across the U.S. Many of us may remember bitterly cold winters in New England. Here are recollections of three winters, 1976/1977, 1993/1994, and 2008/2009.   


In early December 1976, I was wearing a winter coat, hat, boots and gloves when venturing outdoors. This was because of unseasonably cold weather. I remember December 13, 1976, feeling biting cold winds while walking four short blocks from my parent's house to wait for the Weymouth Landing bus to Quincy.   On the radio, I had heard temperatures would fall on this already frigid Monday morning.  I was also tired. I had stayed up late Sunday night. I had finished a term paper for my psychology class.

As I walked toward what was then Quincy Junior College, I felt the increasingly bitter cold wind. Although tired, I engaged the class's attention on my term paper, which was about the study of dreams.  After English labs, a student gave me a ride to my house in Weymouth. I appreciated his kind gesture on this wintry afternoon. That night was biting cold, with temperatures going to zero or below across New England.  The extreme cold reminded me of a December in 1962 when another bitter cold gripped New England in the middle of the month. We were now used to milder Decembers. Were we returning to "old-fashioned winters?"

In mid January, on a cold Monday, my Mom and I got haircuts and briefly went shopping. The temperature, which was already cold, kept falling throughout that day. We were grateful to be back in our warm home where I stayed for days since I was on college break. The extreme cold snap lasted throughout the rest of the month.  In late January, Jenny and I spent a weekend at my parent's house. Saturday afternoon we were riding with a blind man who had CP and his assistant, talking and listening to the radio. The commentator said "it's struggling to reach thirty today."  I sighed, wondering when this cold weather would end. By late February, it began to warm up, with everyone hoping for an early spring. In early March we reveled in warm sunshine and balmy temperatures in the sixties.  This was a treat after a brutally cold, if short, winter.   


On Christmas day 1993, insidious cold temperatures gripped New England. The day after Christmas I went shopping with a volunteer from the Mass Association for the blind. What was I thinking going out in the bone-chilling weather to look for after-Christmas bargains and stock up for our annual New Year's Eve party?  After the large January storm following New Year's, unimaginably chilling temperatures set in for the remainder of January. In north central Massachusetts, nighttime temperatures were five degrees or below. We ordered pizza one cold night in mid January.  Marshall and I looked at our talking thermometer. We were shocked. Could the temperature be twenty below zero? 

Unlike the snow in 1977, storms accompanied frigid temperatures throughout January and early February.  By mid February, with temperatures in the fifties, we opened windows throughout our home. We thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air, which held the promise of  spring. By late March, warmer weather began returning to New England.


By early December 2008, everyone was bundled up in winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves because of unseasonably cold weather.  On December 6, smiling, I went to Boston and Quincy for Christmas parties and visits with friends. We stayed up talking Sunday night wishing we could live in the south, escaping cold winters. By Monday morning, when traveling to Leominster, I felt the unwelcome chill of an early winter.  In north central Massachusetts, we had a bad ice storm on December 11/12. The weight of the ice knocked down limbs, trees and power lines in the Fitchburg-Leominster area. Although our complex remained without power for just a day, many homes were without it for weeks. We had two snowstorms before Christmas and one before New Year's.

In January, everyone commented about the snow and cold. We had not seen such unrelenting cold and snow in decades.  On January 16, I almost did not see my homemaker because below-zero temperatures made it nearly impossible for her to start her car.  Yet I was delighted when my cousin and her husband paid me a visit that cold afternoon. My cousin gave me an appropriate gift -- a whole-body fleece-type lounging suit. That weekend we had a huge snowstorm.  I hoped to attend an annual dinner for blind adults in Cambridge on Martin Luther King Day. However, Monday morning, when I called our cab company, they were not able to make the 7:20 train from Leominster to Boston.  There had been weather advisories Sunday night, and streets were still covered with snow.  Like the winter of 1994, we had no January thaw. 

By February 11 temperatures reach sixty. Would we have an early spring? Unlike the winters of 1977 and 1994, cold and snow returned in early March. We finally experienced warmer temperatures by mid March.   

With cold temperatures and snowstorms last December, as well as bitter cold then and in early January, are we seeing a repeat of the winter of 2009 or 1994? This is anyone's guess. By early March; I hope we see temperatures in the fifties/sixties. Part 2 will focus on my recollections of the springs/summers of 1977, 1994, and 2009.            


1976/1977 temperatures from the old;

1993/94 all from Noah weather;

2008/09 information is from radio and TV information and Noah weather.

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The Moby Dick Marathon

by Bob Branco

During the first weekend after New Year's Day, Moby Dick, the famous novel by Herman Melville, is read in its entirety at the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The reading lasts approximately 25 hours while dozens of volunteers read different sections of the book. Anyone can sign up to participate in this marathon, including city councilors, the mayor, business executives, police officers, and anyone else who wants to read aloud before an audience.

Last year, I was asked to read a portion of Moby Dick at the 2013 Marathon. I gladly accepted the offer, and became the first blind person ever to participate. I read part of Chapter 10 in front of a podium, using a Braille copy of Moby Dick that was obtained for me. I felt honored that city officials asked me to be part of this annual community event. Though I was the first blind person to get involved, I was satisfied just to be there at all, and not because of my blindness.

Yesterday, I read at the Moby Dick marathon once again, and the experience was just as rewarding.

As I left the Whaling Museum yesterday, I was stopped by a newspaper reporter who asked me many questions about blindness and Braille. Although this reporter was there to cover the Marathon, he immediately changed his focus to me when he discovered that I am blind. This does not surprise me. Whether we like it or not, we make sighted people curious.

I hope that my experience as a blind person contributing to a municipal event will inspire other blind people to get involved with their own community. I know that some of you already do that, but there may be others who need a little incentive.

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Coastline Elderly Nutrition News

From the desk of Jamie Buccheri, RD, LDN

Soup's On!

Is there anything more comforting than enjoying big bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day while warming your toes by the fire?

Soup can easily turn into a fast, healthy and hearty meal. There aren't many foods more versatile than soup -- not to mention soup is one of the easiest ways to get an extra serving of veggies in for the day.  You can make a large batch and enjoy it as leftovers, store it in the refrigerator for up to four days or break it down into smaller batches and freeze it for a quick meal at a later date. Also, making soup at home rather than using canned soups is a great way to cut down on salt in your diet, as canned soups can have upwards of 2,000 mgs per can!

Below are a few food safety tips you'll want to remember when making your soup:

* A large pot of soup can take up to 24 hours to cool down to the proper temperature -- so always break your soup down into smaller portions

* Never leave soup sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours

* When reheating, heat the soup until it is steaming and hot throughout, and reaches      165 degrees.

Try the delicious recipe below!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (yields 6 servings)


1-1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 sliced carrots

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 diced potatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 chopped onions

2 cups water

1 sliced celery stalk

1 teaspoon or 1 cube low-sodium beef bouillon

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 finely chopped garlic cloves

Add herbs as desired: bay leaf, basil, oregano, paprika, black pepper, etc.

1. Place meat in slow cooker.

2. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and pour over meat; stir to coat.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix.

4. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or HIGH for 4 to 6 hours.

Stir stew thoroughly before serving. If using bay leaf, discard before serving.

*Feel free to add any of your favorite vegetables to the stew as well!

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Special Notices

1.Announcing “Leonore’s List” -- a new advertising platform for the blind and otherwise disabled. Coming January 15, 2014:

This is a new and unique website created by Leonore and David Dvorkin, of Denver, Colorado. Leonore and David are authors, editors, and book producers who already have seven blind authors among their many editing clients. 

Beginning January 15, LEONORE'S LIST will start running ads that are exclusively from and for the communities of the blind and otherwise disabled.  

Ad categories will include employment (with ads from both employment providers and seekers), products, services, companies that cater to the blind and otherwise disabled, aid organizations, accessible housing, communications, and publications.

Ads may be placed by individuals, organizations, or companies. The person, organization, or company placing the ad assumes all liability.

Suggested word length: 50 to 100 words. Every word counts. A phone number, an email address, or a URL (a website address) will each count as one word.  

Cost: only 15 cents per word for an ad that will run for three months. Prepayment for six months or a year is welcome. Pay by check, money order, or PayPal. The PayPal address is Full details, terms, etc. will all be on the website

Be among the first to have your ad appear! Beginning any time, send ad text to Your ad will begin running when payment is received. 

Send any correspondence relating to the site to   

Beginning January 15, Leonore and David will welcome your help in spreading that URL around. (books, articles, language services, publishing help, and more)

2.Wheels of Life is an internet radio station based out of Fall River, Massachusetts, but obviously heard around the world.  The station offers good music, talk shows, interview shows, a sports show and opinion pod casts.  For more information, please check out

3.I am starting an electronic magazine for people who would like to become or find new penpals. If you would like to receive it regularly or would like to submit a penpal ad for yourself or someone else, feel free to do so at: You could let others know your name, age, location, hobbies and interests and the kind of penpal you are looking for.

4.Visit the hottest, most happening place around on the web, where the blind community will be inspired and entertained!

It's the and it's a great place to learn, laugh, chat and make long-lasting friendships with people from around the world. There is always someone to greet you with a friendly smile, night and day. It's totally free! Come and try out our awesome stereo-music rooms, trivia games, Chess Chats; act in one of our Mystery Plays. Share your talent with us, receive I-Phone Lessons and updates. We offer tutorials on an array of programs; we have over 600 described movies for you to listen to at your convenience. Revisit a classic-described TV show such as Leave it to Beaver and Mash, or just come on in and join us for an interactive chat, and a whole lot more!

It's totally accessible and easy to use.

For more info, please Visit us at It's the site where our members matter the most!

5.Louisiana School for Blind & Visually Impaired Alumni Association

P. O. Box 663, Shreveport, LA. 71162

November 4, 2013    

Hello Fellow Alumni,

I trust that you and your family are well and getting ready for the holiday season.

Another year has passed, we are excited about the upcoming reunion,  which is scheduled for June 13th, 14th and 15th, 2014, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the Crowne Plaza. The Crowne Plaza is located at 4728 Constitution Avenue near the intersection of I-10 and College Drive. To make reservations for this great event you can call 225/930-0130 or make reservations online at If making reservations online use the three digits code SBV. Reservations and registration fees are due on or before May 14th 2014.

The room rate for this reunion is only $107.35 per night (which includes tax). For two nights the room rate will be $214.70. Registration fees are only $50 plus. If you have not paid your dues for 2013 it is $10/year. Check in time at the Crowne Plaza is 3:00pm. We are working on tours to Southern University and the Light House for the Blind. This event will be a separate price from the registration fees. We will provide more information as time approaches.

We look forward to seeing you in 2014 at the next reunion. 

Best regards,

Shirley Barber Colbert, President

P. S. we will have raffle tickets in January 2014  

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Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the November/December Consumer Vision.

The term “Deep Six It” means to throw something away.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Phyllis Stevens of Johnson City, Tennessee

Dan Germano of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Karen Santiago of Worcester, Massachusetts

Mark Benson of Wichita, Kansas

Barbara Duford of Beverly, Massachusetts

Patty O’Brien of Braintree, Massachusetts

David Baharian of Quincy, Massachusetts

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

And now, here is your trivia question for the January/February Consumer Vision.

Name the seven continents on Earth.

If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.