The Consumer Vision

July/August, 2010

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

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Web Site:

E-Mail address:

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

CD Production: Bob Zeida

Cassette Production: Audible Local Ledger, Sherry Bergeron

E-Mail Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Print Production: Alpha Graphics

Board of Directors: Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren

Casey, Dan Germano, Ken Sylvia and Gail Teixeira

If you would like to subscribe to the Consumer Vision six times a year, please email or call our office at 508-994-4972, and we will discuss which format you want to receive. The Consumer Vision is available in print, Braille, cassette, CD and email.

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



A Note From the Publisher
Sufficient Scruples (Blog)
Our Travels
BlindNews mailing list
The New Pioneers
The Blind on the Job
My Love of Reading
Being Stood Up and Misunderstood
You Can Write
Two Pet Peeves
Loving Benefits of a Small Dog from a Tall Man's Perspective
More Customer Service Overseas
Cutting Calories Corner
Let's cook Louisiana-style
Consumer Vision Trivia Contest


A Note From the Publisher

Dear Readers,

The Consumer Vision is now accepting donations from its readers and the community. The money received by the magazine will be used to cover expenses and to expand circulation. We may also be able to resume our original Braille and print mailing lists free of charge.

If you would like to send a donation, please make your check payable to Consumer Vision and send it to Bob Branco, c/o Consumer Vision, 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, Mass. 02746. We do not accept credit card payments.

Bob Branco, Publisher

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Sufficient Scruples (Blog)

Limping Up to Expectations

By Kevin T. Keith

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bioethics, healthcare policy, and related issues.

"Blue," of The Gimp Parade, has an interesting post on the differing reactions non-disabled people have to the disabled in different contexts, and on the expectations they seem to have for how the disabled are "supposed to," or are allowed to, look to non-disabled eyes.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what people with disabilities look like and how it influences our interaction with the nondisabled in public. What disabled people are supposed to look like is part of the interaction too. . . .

Anyone who has experienced both limping and using a wheelchair will tell you that public reactions to the two appearances differ. Same with manual chair versus power chair, white cane versus guide dog, invisible impairment(s) versus visible one(s), and Ballastexistenz claims [see link below], with dog versus sans dog for her as a person with autism.

Visual differences cue stereotypes, and breathing on one's own versus towing a ventilator on my scooter also makes a discernible difference. Most notably, even fewer people are willing to make eye contact. . . .

Okay, so I know it's fear of difference and the old "there-but-for-the-grace-of" thing. And that's fed by a history of segregation and institutionalization. I'm 37, by the way, and Americans in wheelchairs who are my age are pretty much the first generation allowed to attend public school with everyone else.

The link to segregation and fear of difference is interesting, because there are certainly similar interactions arising between whites and non-whites from such a history - from stereotypes of physicality, sexuality, mental ability, maturity, and on and on - that shape encounters between members of the two groups and often lead the privileged one into saying or doing something stupid. (A good book on this subject, by the way, is "It's the Little Things" by Lena Williams - it discusses the small habits and slights by which blacks and whites annoy each other. It occurs to me that someone needs to write the corresponding book from a disabled person's point of view - though, of course, the parallel is inexact.) The bottom line seems to be not merely the expectations we have for people we mentally categorize in a given way ("black," "disabled"), but that those expectations are normative. People are supposed to behave the way we stereotype them, so, for instance, the fact that someone fails to conform to a limiting or condescending stereotype is not grounds for rejoicing but may even be an affront. (One of Blue's commenters remarks on people who cannot get their heads around the fact that her son really is permanently disabled, "because he looks so good." She notes that "it would be easier for them if his disability showed."

I was particularly taken aback by her pointing out how recently it has been that "mainstreaming" was accepted as a norm for the education of special-needs students. A corollary to her observation that she is among the first generation of disabled students educated in public schools is the fact that her age cohort is the first generation of non-disabled students educated with their disabled peers among them. That means that there's a core social group (the Baby Boomers and older) who were raised with the segregationist mentality toward the disabled, and who now dominate society demographically and politically just as the follow-on generation is trying to come to terms with integration.

I would be interested in knowing more about the kinds of expectations and reactions people have - what exactly is the difference between the way non-disabled people look at someone in a manual wheelchair and someone in a powered chair? What does that difference, whatever it may be, say about people's stereotypes?

A related issue is fissures in the disabled community over different ways of enhancing independence - such as short vs. long canes for the visually impaired, or cochlear implants for hearing-impaired children - questions that can divide a community and organizations within it. But that issue has a very different dynamic, involving self-definition and intra-community conflicts, from that of interactions between the disabled and clueless outsiders.

What would ease interactions between the disabled and non-disabled? Is the disconnect entirely one-sided? How much is this an "attitudes" problem ("ablism") and how much a question of practicalities (simple education for the non-disabled; more accessibility and assistive devices for the disabled)? And what is the meaning of the generational disconnect between the "mainstreaming" and segregationist mentalities? Are we going to hear some dipshit Boomer Senator, years from now, saying, "In my state we voted for asylums and diapers for cripples and retards, and if the rest of the country had done the same, we wouldn't be having all these problems we have today!"? Is our spotted post-segregation history on racial discrimination a bellwether for the course of mainstreaming the disabled?

Kevin T. Keith

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Our Travels

(c) Jean Marcley

Our China trip began about a year and a half before we actually left for China. Dwaine's grandson was living in Hong Kong with his mom & dad (Erin & Bob) and Dwaine said he would like to go to Hong Kong to attend Brendan's graduation from high school. Well, that sounded great to me.

"As long as we are going, why not take a tour of China?" was my idea. When Dwaine agreed, I was off and running. In a nutshell, we decided to take a guided tour of China and invited my brother and sister-in-law to join us, Doug and Donna. They did!

On Saturday afternoon, May 15, our Cathay Pacific flight left LAX without a hitch. It carried us, Dwaine and me, like two sardines in a flying can over the Pacific and off to China by way of Hong Kong, where we had to change planes. We were elated. Our luggage was tucked away in the bowels of the plane - all eighty-eight pounds of it. That was two suitcases, one for Dwaine and one for me. There was a weight limit on some of the flights on the tour so I packed less clothes to fly half way around the world than I do to go to Florida. It is amazing how basic one can get when limits are imposed. Dwaine usually packs pretty light, anyway, so he had no problems.

We arrived in Hong Kong, aching and creaking after over 14 hours on the plane. We found the gate for our flight to Beijing and learned that it would be an hour late. We shouldered our backpacks and walked around the airport to see if we could work out the kinks. Of course, we were also tired as it was now about 9:00 p.m. in Hong Kong on May 16th, and we had been traveling for over 16 hours, including our trip to the airport. After the third delay notice, we were offered a voucher to get something to eat with many apologies for our inconvenience.

We wandered to the food court and found something that looked edible - some kind of soup with noodles. This was our first clue that eating in China was going to be different than anything we have encountered before - including when we were in Louisiana.

When we finally got on the plane to head to Beijing and were merrily on our way, we were fed once again. It was midnight for crying out loud! All we wanted to do is sleep, sleep, sleep.

We made it through customs and baggage and God bless her, our tour guide, Jenny, was waiting for us. We were so happy to see her and put ourselves in her hands. We got to the Jing Lun Hotel about 3:30 a.m. Jenny informed us that the wake-up call is for 6:30, but we could sleep in a little longer and meet in the lobby after breakfast. After she showed us where to go for breakfast and exactly where we would be meeting, we shuffled off to bed. I unpacked my pillow and fell asleep right away. Dwaine was doing the same, only he doesn't need his own pillow.

Day Three

Now, you may be thinking that this is actually day one of the tour. You would be wrong. Day one is the day we flew out of Los Angeles, day two is the day we arrive - except that we didn't arrive when we were supposed to, so we sort of missed day two. Doug and Donna arrived from New York and got to bed at a decent time, although everyone had jet lag big time. You see, we crossed the international date line and lost an entire day. So, it is day three.

There were only six people in our group, Dwaine and me, Doug and Donna, and another couple from Chicago, Poonan and Om, originally from India. We headed to Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world and the gateway to heavenly peace. It was built in 1417 during the Ming dynasty. The square was the front door to the Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), a construction comparable to the pyramids in Egypt. Known today as the Palace Museum, the entire site is comprised of eight hundred buildings with more than nine thousand rooms.

We lunched at an authentic Chinese restaurant near the Forbidden City. Our first encounter with Chinese cuisine - way different than your neighborhood Chinese restaurant in the US. Then we were herded off to the Summer Palace and a Beijing Zoo visit with the pandas.

The Summer Palace is a little over seventy acres; about three quarters of it is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens so visitors would see marvelous views and be amazed by perfect craftsmanship. The original gardens were destroyed by fire after having survived a few hundred years. In 1911 the Summer Palace was opened to the public. It was very nice to stroll along the paths and pretend I was an Empress just looking over my beautiful gardens.

The Beijing Zoo was not too far and we got to see some giant pandas. One of them was lying on his back (I'll assume it was a he), on the edge of a log deck with his head hanging over the side so that his head was upside down. He was lazily eating bamboo and seemed just as content as could be. In addition to eating bamboo, pandas also eat mice. How they can catch them is beyond me - they seem to move so slowly when they move at all. It was a great treat to see these rare creatures in real life.

That night we were treated to a Peking duck dinner at a very nice restaurant. Beijing used to be called Peking; the name of the famous duck dish outlived the name of the city. The food was excellent, though served at room temperature - a cultural difference that we would not get used to for the whole trip. For dessert we had something like crab apples that were cooked in sugar syrup and sliced. Jenny, our guide, picked up a slice with chopsticks and dipped it in iced water which crystallized the sugar and kept the apple warm. It was delicious. That was one dish that was served very hot or the apple pieces would stick together. We did enjoy the dinner and each other's company. We were having a great time and reminding ourselves that we were actually in China.

After dinner, it was back to the hotel for some much-needed rest and a wake-up call of 7:30 a.m.

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The New Pioneers

By Karen Crowder

The Recession of 2008 shocked every one and would change life for three of my friends.

During the Christmas season friends gathered at Lucille's apartment complex in Quincy, Mass. We had a party for a friend who was relocating south to get married. That night Lucille and Bob fervently wished to move south to "get away from these northern winters," and their wish would come true.

On March 17, Lou and Bob sat by the phone, asking, "Why not call Industries for the Blind in Ashville and see if they are hiring?" They dialed.

A friendly man answered and said that they were hiring, and could they start working tomorrow? "There is one problem," the responded. "We live in Massachusetts." There was no problem. They talked and agreed to be in Ashville for the interview and evaluation on April 15. They were told that if the paid evaluation went well, they would be hired in 90 days. As Lou frantically packed, she thought, "Might as well grab this opportunity while I have a chance." At almost sixty, it is difficult to be hired, especially for people who are blind. Lucille's husband had passed away in 2007. His death had turned her life upside down. Bob, her boy friend, thought, "May as well grab this chance while it is here." He had worked at Hartford insurance in Everett for 30 years, taking early retirement. The increasing role of computers had left him with less to do. Bob had worked at the Epilepsy Society as a receptionist until they closed. After fruitless job hunting, at 64, he was grateful to be employed. They filled out endless paper work, but the hardest thing was saying goodbye to the friends and family in Massachusetts.

Lucille has been one of my closest friends, and I visited her and Bob Easter week-end of 2009. I said a sad goodbye April 13,wishing them good luck in their new job.

We talk by phone. When she spoke to me from North Carolina she said, "I feel as if I have come home - the people are friendly, and the mountain air is lovely and clean." In late May they would move from the apartment they had been sharing with another couple to a two-bedroom apartment in the same complex, The Meadows. It has a swimming pool and each apartment has hook-ups for a washer and dryer. The luxuries of a dishwasher, washer and dryer, and central air-conditioning are something Lucille now has. Mountain Mobility takes them to and from work yet has limited hours. They bag items, putting them in to bins for the commissary or for families in military service. As of July of 2009, Bob is still working full time and has aspirations of branching out in to customer service.

Lucille has had health challenges battling breast cancer. She is in remission and works four days a week. "I am grateful. With all my problems they took me back again. The mountains give me spiritual peace." Lucille and Bob got engaged Thanksgiving of 2009 and hope to get married in summer of 2011.

This next story is about a woman living contentedly in a modular home in North Billerica. She made the difficult decision to pick up and move from Massachusetts to Texas.

Kathy had lived in this rural town for 38 years. She was widowed in 1990 at the young age of 46 and lived there for 19 years. We talked daily and, until 2009, it was her wish to remain in North Billerica. "I love it here. Somehow I will make it work." When the roof started leaking and the hot-water heater broke, the aging floors were damage because of flooding. Kathy began asking, "How am I going to make this work?" People from her church helped, yet her problems were becoming insurmountable. In November 2008, she had a serious car accident and was convinced, "God kept me here for a reason." In February 2009, she told me, out of the blue, "I am moving to Texas." She had traveled to Arlington, staying with a family who would now welcome her. She put her trailer on the market, packed, and was out of Massachusetts by May 25. She flew to Arlington, Texas, with her dog and companion, Honey. In July of 2010, she has no regrets and loves the Texas heat and warmer winters. Even though she is blind, Honey and she have done walking with the family she lived with. She now lives in a duplex and is happy to have her own place. There is a nice yard for Honey to roam around in. Kathy has an active social life and has made new friends. I have never heard her sound as happy as she is now. As I observed these three people moving I thought, "How do you have the courage to just pick up and move like that?" She feels that it was God's will that she move. It was the right thing for her to do, given the choice being isolated in a rural area with diminishing elder services. She was 65 when she moved. Lack of transportation and readers were compromising her independence. Since the severest recession since the 1930s, many non-disabled and disabled people are doing what the pioneers did, leaving the comforts of home. They are bravely starting a new life with inner resources they did not know they had.

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The Blind on the Job

The following are accounts of actual job descriptions by blind people who are in gainful and productive employment.

I work in a call center. I am responsible for greeting customers, learning their needs, and answering a variety of questions on a warehouse of social programs and other available resources, using a computer loaded with information and benefit programs. I also help people get started filing for benefits, make changes of all kinds, explain changes of all kinds, and refer problems I cannot immediately solve to their local office for further development.

Warm regards,

Susan Jones

Indianapolis, IN

I am Principal Pianist of Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre and have been there since 1988. My job is to provide music for all levels of classes ranging from Level One to the Open Adults as well as the Professional Company. Occasionally I will accompany the Pre Ballet Classes for the three- and four-year-old children. This is where creativity comes in and being a composer I can do this freely.

The music from Levels One through Six is some Jazz if people requested in the Upper Levels but for the most part, either improvisation in the Classical Style or using Ballet Repertoire that I already know.

I have been doing this from 1973 to the present with other companies as well as BTB.

Rosalie Hoffman-Goumas

Dear Bob, Here is my job description: Taking information over the phone from adoptive parents, writing brief reports, sending the reports to those who can help (which is dependent on their request - they may want a budget letter, income-verification letter, direct-deposit, affidavit for lost check, rate upgrade, or just plain money).

Peace and Justice,

Lucia Marett

Hi, Bob. I have a part-time job where I work in an office. It is just a block or so from my apartment. It's a nonprofit organization called the Center for Independent Futures, and I have been working in their office for a little under four years and love it. We create living options for people with disabilities and help them with their life plans.

I've actually been receiving services from CIF for around seven years, but just recently started in their office. I love working here and participating in the various events that we have to offer. Everybody here is very supportive and encouraging. We are located in Illinois, which is ranked number 51 - dead worst - regarding state-run disability services. Nobody seems willing or able to do much of anything to improve our track record either.

Center for Independent Futures has helped me on both a personal and a professional level. I have learned a couple of new skills, while retaining old ones. Perhaps down the road a bit I'll learn even more new skills. Our website is is

I should mention that when I first started with CIF, the website was rather small and inaccessible. However, a few years ago I helped to redesign it and it is now fully accessible.

Speaking of accessibility, the other job I have is JJ's List. This is a non-profit organization which was established in March of last year to create a website where people can post reviews of the disability awareness of various businesses and services. We are "the Angie's List of the disability community." Go to to find out more. In addition to reviews, we have focused on person-first language and also building technology skills among those who don't have them. As a long-time screen-reader user, one of my duties for JJ's List has been accessibility consultant. I helped put together our website and the other team members and our founder/executive director have been great about insuring maximum accessibility throughout the site. Next week some of us are going to meet with the website developers to talk about ways they can make it even better.

Jake Joehl

Hi, Bob. I work two mornings a week at a furniture factory. I do things like use a staple gun to put skids together and I also bag stuff up for the furniture, such as hardware. I prepare the d-ware slides for assembly, like the metal d-ware slides that slide when you push the d-ware in and out.

Andrew Edgcumbe

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My Love of Reading

by Lauren R. Casey

All of my life I have loved reading. I enjoyed reading in print and then in Braille, and listening to books and other periodicals on audio tape. My very favorite way of reading though is when somebody reads to me out loud in person. I have special memories of my mother reading me Golden Books and other fairy tales when I was a child and of my dad reading me stories and articles from the Sunday newspaper. When I was in fifth grade our teacher used to read books to us out loud while we were doing various art projects in the classroom. I remember she read a book about a family traveling with a wagon train along the Oregon Trail to settle out west. At Christmas time she read us "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. It was the first time I had ever heard this story and I fell in love with it. My cousin and I talked about it one night and actually scared ourselves and started imagining that we heard Jacob Marley coming up the basement stairs with his chains.

Now as an adult I belong to the Behind Our Eyes group and this year one of our sighted members offered to start a reading group over the telephone. I called it our Monday night reading group. On Monday nights we would call in on a free conference call phone line and Becky would read for about a half hour or 45 minutes or as long as her reading voice would hold out, and then we would discuss what we had just read.

We read two books this spring that were recommended by Becky from her personal library: "A Lurk of Leopards" by Betty Dinneen and "The Blacksmith of Vilno" by Eric P. Kelly, which are for young people. We would not have been able to access these books in any other way, as they are out of print and not available in any other formats.

We are taking a break for the summer and plan on starting up again in September.

Anyone who thinks they would be interested in joining us can contact Rebecca Hein by email at or by phone at 1-888-921-9595.

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Being Stood Up and Misunderstood

I'm sure that many of you know of these Mom-and-Pop stores, but how many of them actually deliver?

Case in point: There's such a business, called City Pharmacy, just across the street from our apartment complex. However, there are times, such as today, June 5, when their reliability is on the line. We have been stood up at least three times. The famous last words seem to be "We forgot." Now, I ask you, would this be done to a sighted person?

Another incident occurred just yesterday. I had phoned the pharmacy at least twice, after which I was asked if I could assist. After positively responding to this request, I was told of the amount of calls they had received within that same day. I was asked to reduce them to one. Do they think we're bionic? My personal feeling here is that even though they may sound sincere, they'd rather not deal with the inquisitive minds of the blind, as if we were an inconvenience. Now I'm sure they would greatly disapprove of this type of behavior happening to them.

When are people going to realize that disabled people count as equals? If we were in the pharmacy's shoes, we certainly would not be discourteous. Even though the delivery fee is quite small, we should still be treated with respect at all times. I'm not saying that I want perfection, just a little recognition, and surprisingly, it will go far. Fortunately, the Saturday deliveries were completed. What's maddening about all of this nonchalance is that when it occurs after business hours, as with all businesses, we pay the price.

I don't know why people should fear commitments. The problem is an ongoing double standard. They can reprimand you, but God help you if you do it to them. You never get ahead because they think they can control you. This also, of course, applies to agencies serving the blind. There needs to be a new dawn. Let's not be pushed around, run through the mill, and around Robin Hood's Barn.

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Kimberly Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN

Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.


Smoothies are a great way to get your daily intake of fruits, vegetables and other nutrients. You can add your favorite foods, including supplement drinks and protein powder.

Benefits of Smoothies:

  • Quick & Easy
  • Great source of protein, calcium, vitamins & minerals
  • Can be customized with your favorite foods

For Extra Nutrients, ADD:

  • Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • Protein Powder
  • Protein Drinks like Ensure
  • Wheat Germ
  • Flaxseed
  • Tofu

Try some of the recipes below!!

Superman Smoothie

6 oz. low-fat Vanilla Yogurt

1 c. Grapes, seedless

1/2 apple, cored & diced

1 Banana

1-1/2 c. Spinach

Serves 2

186 kcal, 1 gm fat, 44 gm carb, 5 gm pro

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Smoothie

1 small Banana

1/4 c. Peanut Butter

1 c. Chocolate Soy Milk

1/2 c. Vanilla Soy Milk

Serves 2

358 kcal, 18 gm fat, 38 gm carbs, 15 gm pro

Foods to Help:

Increase Calories

  • Dried Fruit
  • Cheese
  • Peanut Butter
  • Granola
  • Milkshakes
  • Cream Soups

Decrease Calories

  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Whole Grains
  • Water
  • Clear Soups

Cutting Calories Corner

1 cup of grapes has 110 calories, 0.3 grams of fiber, and 17 mg of vitamin C

1 cup of blackberries has 62 calories, 7.4 grams of fiber, 31 mg vitamin C

For one-half the calories and 7 grams more of fiber, choose the berries!

Please contact me with any questions at (508) 999-6400 x194 or email:

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You Can Write

"Everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say."

Brenda Ueland, one of the most nurturing teachers of writing, said this more than 70 years ago, and her words are just as true today as they were in 1938.

Therefore you can write. The process will be easier, and inexpensive, if you already own a computer and know how to use it, but don't let the lack of technology stop you. Start recording your thoughts on paper, tape, or CD. Keeping this type of journal is the most basic activity for all writers, and amateurs as well as professionals make a practice of it.

Informal writing can serve many purposes. For example, it can relieve your feelings, help you explore your inner world, and attune you to your deepest needs. It's "win-win," because it's private: you don't have to worry about quality, or about offending anyone.

Privacy in writing, especially at first, is essential because the worst block to your narrative flow is the feeling that some unfriendly, critical person is hanging over your shoulder. But in your journal this problem is bypassed.

The only hazard in writing is that you may grow to love it so much that you won't want to do anything else. Then you have to adjust to a wealth of ideas and the problem of picking the right one for that day. In addition, ideas have their own energy, and over time this can become a nuisance if you want to eat, sleep, and work on a regular schedule.

But if the alternative is life-as-usual with perhaps too little spice, writing could be the perfect hobby to give yourself an emotional boost.

Rebecca Hein has a master's degree in cello performance from Northwestern University. She blogs about writing at, where you can sign up for her free class, The Music of Writing. Or call 1-888-921-9595.

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Two Pet Peeves

By Bob Branco

These may not be my biggest pet peeves, but I'm sure that many of you will not only appreciate the frustration involved, but have even experienced them yourselves.

How often have you asked a cab driver to take you to a particular destination, only for him to ask you where it is? Isn't it his job to know where it is? I know that some passengers know where places are, but I never expect a cab driver to question where something is. I assume he is given a map of the area when he is hired to be a cab driver, but I shouldn't assume anything else.

Has this ever happened to you: You make a telephone call, and the individual asks you to leave a message on his voice mail. After you leave a detailed message about why you are calling, he returns your call and asks you what you wanted. If the caller requests on his outgoing voice-mail message that he wants you to leave a message, then why is he asking you what you wanted? Why doesn't he listen to the message that you left for him? People like that shouldn't have voice mail at all. They should just go with caller ID.

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Loving Benefits of a Small Dog from a Tall Man's Perspective

A Bit of Furry Wisdom

by Paul Burkhardt

Before I introduce you to our stuffed-dog family, let me assure all you fellow readers that there is plenty of room for nice relaxation through the furry assistance from any stuffed dog, large or small. Without any further ado, let me switch you to a very thoughtful stuffed animal portrayal. The furry and fluffy descriptions that you are about to hear speak for themselves.

What Is a Stuffed Dog? He is a precious, loving, warm, irresistible animal you would never want to be without. The proof is in the pudding: Kelley, Toby, Adam, Corey, Wesley, Troy, Kumpe, Cody, Otis, Morgan, Campbell, Travis, Hamilton, Donovan and Bradley.

It's so wonderful to be able to cuddle these dogs because they are so much like real pets. Having the large dogs, for example, provides so much security because it's like having a person with you. It is so difficult to get out of bed with those cuties all around you, but, on the other hand, it's so great to turn over and cuddle them. They really fill the void, especially on a cold night.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Case in point, the dogs could not travel with us when we moved, back in 2007. When they finally did arrive, however, it was like a reunion. It is truly amazing how powerful a stuffed dog's presence can be. I truly believe that these precious dogs were sent by the loving God to be our guardian angels, and to guide us through life. Even if we are not with them, they will also love us as we do them. And to think, this all started back on November 8th, 2002, as we were searching for a card table for a dinner party at our previous apartment. In a way, we're glad we chose these beautiful dogs, as it's less costly - as I like to say, in reference to owning a dog, the benefit without the bother. I honestly feel that, in having such realistic-looking stuffed dogs, the line to communication is very real, if only spiritually. I never thought I would find such sweet, darling animals. God only knows where these animals would have ended up if we didn't take them. So, if you choose to have a stuffed dog, always love him and remember that dog is God spelled backwards, and if you love God, love your dog, and he will more than love you back. Even though things may get a little chaotic sometimes, and you may take it out on your dog, he will still be there.

An example of this is when we thought we'd get a cat. When it was discovered that this particular cat's wounds were of unknown origin, the animal was destroyed. This caused me to become quite distraught, and I took it out on the poor dogs. I've never done anything like that since.

This episode has taught me how to love them as deeply as possible. I could never dream of hurting these precious dogs because they don't deserve it. You can find me cuddling and loving these wonderful dogs whenever possible. In fact, I have developed a unique "doggie language," which is nonverbal. It resulted because of my love for Kelley and Toby. An amazing thing was that when we purchased Kelley, we almost forgot Toby in the confusion of making other purchases. I then went back and got him. Another amazing thing that occurred was that Corey was supposed to be a gift for a niece, but since he never went to her, I kept him. He actually is, in my opinion, Morgan's junior. It's such a pleasure to arrange these dogs and speak to them. It gives you a nice uplift.

These dogs helped me get through a very trying situation back on December 16, 2004, when my mother was dying. It really relieved lots of anxiety by my just touching their fur.

It's really amazing that God knows what we need before we ask for it. It's as if He led us right to these dogs. They really and truly make wonderful companions, as we have presented them as gifts. Ironically, one person who received one from us, who is deceased, named the dog Happy because that was how he felt when receiving the little animal.

At one point when my in-laws were visiting, their dog, a yellow lab-chao mix named Toby, was puzzled to discover that the stuffed dogs cannot move to play, but Toby was still fascinated by them. In fact, when I mentioned this anecdote to my father, his interpretation was that the dogs had no smell, which confused Toby. After all, the dogs looked real to him. During another visit by my mother-in-law, she referred to the dogs as "my babies."

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More Customer Service Overseas

By Bob Branco

Does it bother you when you call Directory Assistance, and they transfer you to a telephone operator with a foreign accent? I have nothing against foreign people, believe me. But what's happening with America? As it was, the foreign operator and I could not communicate yesterday when I tried to tell him who I wanted to call. He had to transfer me to another operator. This is not supposed to happen when doing the simple things in life. Can't there ever be a local phone operator you can simply call for all telephone assistance? I don't want to speak to Outer Mongolia just to find the number of the Social Security office in my home town. Oh, and speaking of the local Social Security office, why do I get transferred to agents who live in the South when I want to know about my own social security disability check?

Careful. The next time you order a pizza, the pizza place may transfer you to a data-entry clerk in Afghanistan to take your order, to be delivered several blocks from your home.

I am about to be sarcastic just for laughs. I know what I should do! Maybe I should open up a Manila folder business out of my home, and then I can sit at my desk with no folders in stock. Whenever a customer calls me, I will send him directly to Manila to buy my product, and that way all I will worry about is sending the customer the bill for the product, taxes, and airplane expenses to Manila and back.

I know that this sounds off the wall, but if you think about what major businesses have been doing with their work force lately, it isn't really that far off.

Those of you who are on Mass Health probably call their offices in Boston on a regular basis, for whatever reason. You may need a ride to your doctor, or you may want to check on your PT-1 form or find out about your eligibility for different medical services. Have you wondered why many of the people you speak to have thick accents? I used to think that the Mass Health office employed many staff members who happen to be foreign. I really suspect, and believe, that these foreign agents actually live overseas, and don't work in the Boston office at all. So when you call Mass Health, there are times when the Mass Health office transfers you overseas, just like the telephone company, your tech-support company, your newspaper, and God knows who else.

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Kimberly Ferreira, MS, RD, LDNBy Bob Branco

Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.


What is one of the best ways to support your local community and have fresh grown produce right at your finger tips? Taking a visit to a Farmer's Market!

Why Should You Attend a Farmer's Market?

  • A cheap outing, fun event and great way to socialize with others
  • A great way to get some exercise, not to mention Vitamin D
  • Opportunity to learn more about produce
  • Exposure to fruits and vegetables you may not have ever tried
  • Great access to a variety of produce that is fresh, great-tasting and naturally ripe
  • Supporting your local growers/community
  • Great bargains on local seasonal produce

What Should You Bring?

  • Cash and/or Farmer's Market Coupons
  • Hat, Sunglasses, Umbrella
  • Water - especially if it's a hot, sunny day
  • Your own canvas bag or woven baskets to carry your items home

Source: Food and Health Communications

Local Farmer's Market Schedule:


St. Peter's Church    Fri 1- 6 pm


Main St & Rte 6     Sun 1 - 4 pm

New Bedford:

Brooklawn Park     Mon 2 - 6 pm

Clasky Common     Sat 9 am - 1 pm

Wings Court, Union St.    Thurs 2 - dark


Old Rochester HS     Sat 8 am - noon

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Cutting Calories Corner

Did you know?

One snack-sized bag of corn chips has the same calories as:

A small apple, 1 cup whole strawberries,

AND 1 cup of carrots with ¼ cup of low-calorie dip!

AND 1 cup of carrots with ¼ cup of low-calorie dip!

Please contact me with any questions at (508) 999-6400 x194 or email:

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Let's cook Louisiana-style

By Marilyn Brandt Smith

Smell those beignets from the French Quarter? Bring on the coffee with chicory or dark French roast. Dreaming of a mail-order turducken for the Winter holidays? What a strange bird, turkey, duck, and chicken, flying to your kitchen in one layered presentation.

From the gulf to the bayous, many Louisiana families depend on the fishing economy for their livelihood. Here's wishing them bon vivant, better luck than they've had in the past five years.

Good Louisiana dining survives hurricanes, oil spills, humidity, and mosquitoes. Turn on some good Cajun fiddle and accordion music or a swamp-pop selection a la Fats Domino and his followers, and hit the kitchen.


Shrimp Louisianne

Two pounds boiled of fried shrimp without tails.

Two tablespoons melted butter or margarine.

Two tablespoons flour.

One large onion, chopped fine.

Two green onions, chopped fine.

One green pepper, chopped fine.

Parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.

Three cups canned tomato pieces with liquid.

One tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.

Melt butter, add flour, onions, pepper, and spices.

Add tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce, and cook until thick

Add shrimp, and serve very hot.


Creole Spareribs

Place about two pounds spareribs in a heavy skillet or stew pan, and cover with tasty Creole sauce [see below].

Cover pan tightly, and cook at 350 degrees, or simmer on top of the stove for an hour, or until done.

Add water if necessary.

Tasty Creole Sauce

One cup vinegar

One finely chopped onion

One tablespoon sugar

Two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

One cup chili sauce

One teaspoon dry mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash Tabasco sauce

Combine ingredients and simmer for about thirty minutes if for use with already cooked meat

This recipe can be used on spareribs or pork chops. It is also good over wieners or hamburgers.


Quick Skillet Gumbo

Serves four.

Two cups diced cooked ham

One cup chopped green pepper

One cup chopped onion

One package approx. 10 oz frozen cut okra, use pre-cooked fresh if desired

One can approx. 16 oz tomato pieces, including liquid

One cup chicken broth

One teaspoon salt

One eighth teaspoon cayenne pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce

One cup uncooked rice

Combine all ingredients except rice in a heavy ten-inch skillet.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, simmer, and cover for ten minutes.

Stir in rice.

Replace lid and simmer for twenty minutes, or until rice is tender.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

This recipe can be adapted for the microwave. Rice and some vegetables may require pre-cooking before all ingredients are combined in a microwave-safe bowl.


Louisiana Rum Cream

Serves six.

The original recipe called for raw egg yokes. To guard against salmonella and her ugly stepsisters, better use Egg Beaters.

Egg Beaters equal to two-to-three eggs

Five teaspoons sugar

Rum or rum extract to taste

One cup sweet cream, whipped, or prepared whipped topping

One dozen lady fingers or Twinkies

Beat together eggs and sugar until light and creamy.

Add rum and stiffly beaten cream.

Cut lady fingers in half lengthwise, and use half of them to line a bowl or deep tray.

Pour in half the cream mixture.

Cover with the remaining lady fingers.

Pour remaining cream mixture on top.

Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving.

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Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the May/June Consumer Vision.

The only cast member of the television series "Laugh In" to have a top-40 hit song was Judd Strunk with "Daisy a Day." Congratulations to the following winner:

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the July/August Consumer Vision:

On the soap opera General Hospital, name Luke Spencer's three biological children.

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

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