June 2017

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

Phone: 508-994-4972



Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin


Each article's title will be separated from its author by three asterisks ***.

For your convenience and to make using your browser's search feature easier, three asterisks *** will also be used between articles.

Finally, three asterisks *** will be used between recipes in Karen Crowder's column as well as Readers' Forum and Special Notices when those features contain more than one item. Items in those columns are preceded by the letters A, B, C, etc., depending on the number of items in the column.

1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught

2. HEALTH MATTERS: Herbal Teas: Benefits and Cautions *** by Leonore Dvorkin

3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF *** by Dennis R. Sumlin

4. THIS CLOUD HAS NO SILVER LINING *** by Stephen Théberge

5. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH *** by James R. Campbell

6. HOW THE GOVERNMENT RUNS OUR PARENTS *** by Bob Branco (originally

published in Word Matters,

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

8. WEATHER OR NOT: The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Is Looking Increasingly Active *** by Steve Roberts

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

10. TURNING POINT: HUMAN LIBRARY *** by Terri Winaught

11. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually-impaired People Are Important, too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein

12. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

13. WHAT I HEAR *** by Patty L. Fletcher

14. A PIANO TAKES A CRUISE *** by John Justice

15. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST: Answer to Last Month's Question, Winners, and This Month's Question *** Compiled by Bob Branco



Hello, Consumer Vision Readers.

When  Obamacare (former President Obama's healthcare plan) was passed and implemented, many saw it as a long-overdue initiative. Others, however, had nothing but criticism, and like-minded politicians kept trying to repeal it.

Though unsuccessful in that endeavor when Barack Obama was president, the American Healthcare Act which would repeal Obamacare recently passed in the House of Representatives. This bill is now moving on to the Senate, where a 13-person committee has been established to develop their own version of the American Healthcare Act.

While former President Obama's healthcare plan certainly had its flaws, I'm concerned that this new plan will eliminate Medicaid as we know it, including there being no Medicaid expansion. Even worse, I'm concerned about what could happen to persons with pre-existing conditions. For example, Usher's Syndrome is a congenital syndrome that causes both blindness and deafness. That syndrome being congenital, I'm thinking that it would be a  pre-existing condition, with specialized services that individuals with this syndrome might need not being covered. I'm hoping that whatever healthcare legislation passes, persons with pre-existing conditions won't have to choose between cost-prohibitive premiums or having no healthcare.

To end on a more positive note, President Trump was given royal treatment when touching down in Saudi Arabia; he will be welcomed with open arms in Israel, and Pope Francis is willing to listen to what President Trump will say at their meeting at the Vatican. My prayer and my hope are that the President's visits to faith traditions, countries, and continents will be the salve that begins to heal this country's wounds of hate speech and division.

Thanks always for reading with me, and just as much for giving feedback by phoning 412-263-2022; phoning or texting 412-209-9818, or emailing:

Terri Winaught, Editor


2. HEALTH MATTERS: Herbal Teas: Benefits and Cautions

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

Website: / Email:

Note: The original version of this article was published in a Denver newsletter in 2008. It has been slightly altered for this appearance.

A newcomer to the wide world of herbal teas might find a perusal of the large selection in any health food store or even the smaller selection in the average supermarket a rather bewildering experience. All the boxes are so beautiful! And they all promise such wondrous health benefits!

But the variety is dizzying. What to buy, what to try? And how to know whether there are any hidden dangers lurking in those colorful little boxes? I'll give you a few suggestions here, listing both the benefits and possible dangers of some of the most popular types of herbal tea.

Herbal  teas are actually herbal infusions or tisanes. Tisane is derived from a Greek word meaning a drink made from pearl barley. An herbal  tea is not true tea, but rather an herbal infusion made from anything other than the leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis). It can be made by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds, or roots, then letting the mixture steep for a few minutes, then draining off the hot liquid. But in this modern day and age, with so many delectable varieties packaged in handy, sanitary teabags and sold for relatively little money, most city-dwellers prefer to buy their herbal teas in stores or online.

There are herbal teas that are mixtures of as many as a dozen or more different ingredients. Some that I have in my kitchen right now are Celestial Seasonings'  Tension Tamer (with 13 ingredients, including peppermint, chamomile, licorice root, and Vitamins B6 and B12); the same company's  Mandarin Orange Spice (with 11 ingredients, including orange peel, hibiscus, rose hips, and coriander); and TAZO's  Wild Sweet Orange (with 13 ingredients, including lemongrass, blackberry leaves, rose hips, spearmint, rose petals, and orange essence).

In my opinion, these are all delicious mixtures, but you might be happier and possibly safer if you first try herbal mixtures that consist of fewer ingredients. Adverse reactions to some of the components of mixtures are certainly not unknown. Especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking prescription medications, or have known allergies to certain foods or plants, caution and consultation with a physician or pharmacist are advised. Obviously, it's much easier to research the possible side effects of a single ingredient, such as the chamomile in Traditional Medicinals'  Organic Chamomile, or the four ingredients in the same company's delicious  Ginger Aid mixture, than it is to seek out the effects of a dozen or more ingredients.

Traditional Medicinals is a company that practices responsible marketing. I buy their teas at a local health food store. A side panel of the box clearly states that you should not use chamomile tea if you have known allergies to plants of the Asteraceae (daisy) family, such as blessed thistle, echinacea, safflower, or yarrow. That's because chamomile is closely related to ragweed. It can cause violent reactions in hay fever sufferers, up to and including anaphylactic shock and death!

However, for most people, very popular chamomile tea is soothing to both the digestion and the nerves. It is a natural sedative and can help relieve anxiety and insomnia. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. It can help relieve cramps. An exfoliating paste for sensitive skin can be made by mixing the tea with powdered milk. Use cooled chamomile tea bags to make a compress to treat skin irritations and even burns. Reduce puffiness and eye strain by relaxing with cooled teabags over your eyelids.

Ginger tea can help relieve feelings of nausea. Thus it's popular with pregnant women who are suffering from morning sickness and also with travelers who are prone to motion sickness. I like Traditional Medicinals'  Ginger Aid, which also contains blackberry leaf, stevia leaf, and lemon myrtle leaf. The spiciness of the ginger can be softened a bit by adding a small amount of honey to your cup.

Peppermint is another extremely popular herbal tea. Some sources claim that it can relieve stress even better than chamomile. It soothes the stomach after meals, freshens the breath, and also has cooling properties. A peppermint tea blend that I like is TAZO's  Refresh. Besides peppermint, it contains spearmint and tarragon. Sometimes I prepare an extra-large mug of hot water and put into it one bag of  Refresh and one bag of TAZO's  Zen tea. The latter is a delicious green tea which is flavored with lemon verbena, spearmint, and lemongrass. (Lemongrass also has a calming effect.)  Zen is the most popular tea that I serve to my many language students.

I ran across one mention of rosemary tea as a remedy for headaches. If you are prone to headaches, it's worth a try. Again, a bit of honey can relieve any bitterness.

If you have a sore throat or a cough, give one of the popular throat-soothing mixtures a try. Traditional Medicinals'  Throat Coat is marvelous! Some of its ingredients are licorice root, slippery elm bark, marshmallow root, and sweet orange peel.

Obviously, this short article barely scratches the surface of the very broad topic of herbal teas. I hope you'll do some online research of your own, and then embark on a delicious voyage of discovery. /

Leonore H. Dvorkin lives in Denver, Colorado, where she tutors three languages and teaches weight training classes (exercises with weights). She is the author of four published books and many articles. Since 2009, she and her author husband, David Dvorkin, have been editing books by other authors. Many of the readers of and contributors to this newsletter, including Bob Branco, are among their many clients, most of whom are blind or visually impaired. Thus far, David and Leonore have edited and produced over 40 books by others. Full details of Leonore's publications and services are at Information about DLD Books is at



by Dennis R. Sumlin

Last month, I began looking at the top five articles on the site We started at number five, but this month, I will bring you the number three most popular article. Just mixing it up a little. Enjoy, and share with friends.

Number 3

Essay of respect. Go do it to yourself!!


Respect is an esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability. When we show respect, we become supportive, understanding, and generous in thought. We give a person that we respect the benefit of the doubt when they show human faults, and when we respect beliefs and traditions, we hold them up as a model.

The magic about the art of respect is the mirror effect. When we do not respect ourselves, we cannot truly respect others. The same support, understanding, and honor we give others should also be given to ourselves. When the object of our respect is attacked, we can become offended; so should we be offended at a lack of respect for ourselves.

Self"respect prompts us to look at ourselves in a new and positive light. It allows us to see ourselves in realistic terms and assess ourselves fairly. It allows us to look at our work and hold it up as a symbol of personal achievement. It gets us to forgive our own human failings and look at the bigger picture.

Without respect for self and others, we fall victim to a distorted view of the world. It sends us into a lifestyle of self"judgment, causes us to cut down others publicly or privately, to deface or defame things, and it serves as a breakdown in how we move through the world.

Healthy respect causes us to love, protect, and cherish ourselves. It generates good feelings in others and promotes social cohesion.

Support your own respect

When you respect yourself, you will act in a manner that will get others to do the same. You will take actions to support self-respect. When you support your own respect, you will not be with lovers or others that treat you badly or people who doubt your abilities. You will not think that other people's lives are better than yours, or want something because you think you should. You respect the life you have, and work to make it work for you.

You do not settle. You learn to love yourself, you show yourself compassion, and you surround yourself with positive people. You speak of yourself in a positive way that honors who you are.

Ponder this: How far along are you on the path of personal respect?



by Stephen Théberge

The classic Outer Limits series was remade in the late 20th century. One of the episodes had every person in the world equipped with a chip implant in their brains. This device allowed everyone to have instant access to the entire world's information. Anything you learned would also be part of the  stream.

Naturally, in good sci-fi fashion, things go wrong. A virus invades the stream, rendering it useless. One man's brain, due to damage, could not have the chip. He read books, and with his knowledge, he helped fix things. Yes, nobody read books, since the  stream did everything.

So, the stream on the TV show was the Internet. Nobody needed phones, tablets, or computers. They were all using chip implants. The real message I got out of it was trusting technology to the point of not worrying about its negative impact. I use the term  cloud in a generalized representation of the Internet. Any information that you share over the Internet or get online is the cloud. The cloud is the universe of information that doesn't exist on your devices, but is  out there. One computer magazine writer used to say, in the '80s,  See you on the bit stream.

One frustration is that if you are using a service that lots of people use, the designers may not have given enough bandwidth to have it work properly when lots of people use it. I think Amazon has miscalculated the number of Alexa users that are out there. Sometimes you have a really tough time getting your message to her. I've had Alexa come up with things I never said. It was so far off, I can only think the program in the cloud that does voice recognition is overloaded. Perhaps, although I doubt it, Amazon makes Alexa temperamental on purpose.

The Echo devices are very rudimentary computers. They listen for the wake word, either  Alexa or  Echo. Then they connect to the Internet to understand what you said. The only things in my Echo that are not in the cloud are the timers and alarms. Even they can't be set without online assistance. One time, my timer went off, and I deliberately broke off the Internet connection. I couldn't even stop the timer beep without being in the cloud. The Echo was good at remembering my alarm when I unplugged it, but without a connection, that alarm would not stop on my command.

The trend is being sold to us to move everything away from our devices and put them out there. I use Carbonite to back up my computer. It was a lot easier to get my old stuff back when I got my new PC. Yet I am dependent on the cloud. If the service is down, or a hack hits them, I have no way to get things back. So I don't worry about it. Like everybody else, I have chosen convenience over control. An external drive would not ensure that I am safer than the cloud. I had a lot of data over decades lost to a drive that died.

We can't go back to the time before everything everybody did was connected. We have a lot of advantages in terms of getting information quickly. We don't have to rely so much on the old sources of media to wait for our information. There was something to be said for waiting for the evening paper or the weekly installment of your favorite television show. We got our instant gratification wishes granted. The tradeoff is that we have to be ever so vigilant in trusting the information. We certainly always had to be skeptics, but with more places to get information, critical thinking is even more important now.

We can't rely on the cloud to make us more intelligent. All it can do is give and take data from us, whether that is on Facebook or Google. I fear that good old common sense has gone the way of the old reel-to-reel tape recorders.

We have seen the beginnings of that Outer Limits TV episode. When hackers bombard the Internet with a bunch of overloads, we all suffer the effects. It seems that we don't even have to wait for the hackers. The developers must be very insecure, or arrogant, as they are always  changing the way the interfaces work. Once we get used to things, they make changes.

Some changes are supposed to make our lives better. Sometimes that is the case. The developers probably change things to keep up their skills. I think they feel that as long as they have people using their stuff, they really don't give too much thought to ease of use. That seems to be a side effect of our times as well. People love to complain about what is wrong with the technology, but nobody is ready to boycott it. /

Stephen A. Théberge is the author of the science fiction novel The MetSche Message (C 2016). For full details, see his website:



by James R. Campbell

Last week, there was another death that was attributed to a police officer's abuse of power. A teen named Jordan Edwards was shot while driving away from a party that was under investigation for underage drinking. The officer who pulled the trigger now faces murder charges in connection with the incident.

In Chicago, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., two cops were ambushed in their cruiser by someone armed with an assault rifle. Yet another all"too"common event in our troubled times.

Tensions between law enforcement and minority communities have escalated since August of 2014. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, set in motion what amounts to an undeclared war between law enforcement and those who oppose them. In some cases, the men behind the badge have abused their authority. The end result is simple: Minorities feel they are under threat from those who have taken an oath to protect and serve. In their eyes, every encounter with an officer poses potential harm to life and limb. They have armed themselves accordingly; a recent news story on Fox News advised that gangs in Chicago were in possession of weapons that could pierce body armor. And so the arms race escalates at a fever pitch.

There are officers who wear the uniform proudly, who would give their lives in service. The media could help us a great deal if they would broadcast more of their stories. It is no exaggeration to say that the average person who lives his life does so without any recognition for their work. They don't want it; they do what they do out of kindness. Last Christmas, police officers in Durant, Oklahoma, gave free turkeys and hams to families that they stopped at random. In Midland, Texas, cops took a group of disadvantaged children on a shopping trip. I have no doubt that countless acts of this kind were the norm, not the exception during the 2016 holiday season.

When I was growing up, one thing that was drilled into me at an early age by my dad was that the police were your friends, and that they could be depended on to help you if you were in trouble. Often, this means that the villain goes to jail, while the hero goes free. It doesn't help when our culture encourages and glorifies resistance to authority, specifically the men and women in blue.

There are many crooked cops who make the profession look bad. Those people are more culpable than the rest of society. They took a charge to protect us, and in some cases, they prey upon us instead. They are no different from the rest of us. They should be held to a higher standard when the laws are violated.

When a cop stops you, don't resist; that is the worst thing you can do. Comply first, and if you feel that you have been mistreated, go through the proper legal channels. They do exist. It isn't worth risking jail time for resisting an officer. May we remember that they are there to protect us from crime, and most of them do a good job. It pays for all of us to look for stories of cops who help others, as reminders of the good that still exists in our world.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell



by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters,

The other evening, while listening to a national talk show, I heard a rather disturbing story about a school teacher in Ohio. Apparently, one of her students was out of control, so she recommended to his parents that he receive behavior medication. The parents, who know their kid better than anybody else, told the teacher that he didn't need to be medicated. As a result of the parents' refusal to follow the teacher's recommendation, their son was taken away from them by Child Protective Services. So here we go again. Government is interfering with our lives.

I have no problem with this particular teacher suggesting medication for her student, but it's just an opinion. She is not a doctor or psychologist. She has no business interfering with parental rights unless she has concrete proof that something wrong is going on in the home. Unless I hear otherwise, I will assume that these parents are well-informed about these situations and know what they're doing for their son. However, as a result of Big Brother stepping in, the child is now a ward of a protective agency.

When will government stop running our lives, and what caused this trend in the first place? In other words, when did government stop trusting how the average citizen functions in our society no matter what the circumstances are? We could be talking about behavior in school, the food we eat, what we smoke and drink, etc. It doesn't matter. It's all the same concept.

There are times when some children need medication, but I believe that the suggestion to medicate is completely out of control. If teachers continue to insist on medicating their students, and if enough parents fight these recommendations, government agencies who protect children won't know where to put all these kids that they are so willing to displace from their homes.

There are many reasons why kids misbehave in class. It doesn't always mean that they need a pill shoved in their mouths or a needle stuck in their arms. It's quite possible that some of these kids are simply unruly. /

Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations. Bob's website is:

He blogs at, where you can subscribe.



A. Bob Branco has his own blog. To read his articles, please subscribe at You will also be receiving Bob's various podcasts, including Branco Bites, In Perspective, and an interview program. Branco Bites is a program where Bob offers a brief commentary about a trend in society or a current news item. In Perspective is a dialog between Bob and his long-time friend Al Hensel, where they discuss sports, science, blindness issues, weather, politics, and other informative topics. The new interview program, which doesn't have a name, yet, will be a show on which Bob interviews inspirational people who contribute a lot to society and to their community.


B. Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile

Nonfiction by David L. Faucheux (C 2017)

What the book is about:

Friends and family. Restaurants and recipes. Hobbies and history. TV programs the author loved when he could still see and music he enjoys. The schools he attended and the two degrees he attained. The career that eluded him and the physical problems that challenge him. And books, books, books: over 230 of them quoted from or reviewed. All in all, an astonishing work of erudition and remembrance.

This 510-page book was published in e-book and print on June 3 and 4, 2017. It was edited and produced by Leonore and David Dvorkin, of DLD Books. The beautiful cover, handy buying links, text preview, and the author's bio are all on his website:

E-book: $4.99 / Paperback: $19.95.

Available from CreateSpace, Amazon, and Smashwords.

David L. Faucheux lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, and holds an M.A. degree in Library and Information Science. He will be the guest on Branco Broadcast on June 5, 2017. The telephone conference call is at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Mountain, and 4:00 p.m. Pacific time. To participate, call in a few minutes before the start of the program, so as not to miss anything. The phone number is 712-832-8294, then pass code 514295. If you are not speaking, please mute your phone by hitting 4 star. That reduces background noises and distractions. David will talk about his book, how it was edited and published, and how he plans to market it. We hope that some of you can join us!  


8. WEATHER OR NOT: The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is Looking Increasingly Active

by Steve Roberts

In March and early April, it seemed that the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season would be less active than normal due to the predicted onset of El Niño during the late summer and early fall. During El Niño, there are strong upper westerly winds that blow across the tropical Atlantic. These upper level westerly winds create what is called wind shear, which cuts the tops off the thunderstorms that otherwise would go on to form tropical storms and hurricanes.

All of this began to change in early May, when the seasonal climatology began to change. First, the likelihood of El Niño decreased, which made an active season more likely. Second, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic took a sizeable upward jump, which is more conducive to the development of tropical cyclones.

Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist with the Weather Company, said that a less likely El Niño and a warmer Atlantic sea surface compelled us to amend the seasonal forecast from 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes to 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. Crawford goes on to say that dynamic models are becoming increasingly bullish on an active Atlantic hurricane season. When this is combined with the forecast of increasing Atlantic temperatures, we may have to revise this forecast further in the June update.

Though the number of predicted storms is likely to increase in subsequent forecasts, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that all it takes is one hurricane to have great impact. So be prepared. /

Steven P. Roberts is the author of two books: The Whys and Whats of Weather (nonfiction, C 2014) and the novel The Great Winter Hurricane (C 2015). For full details, see his website:


9. THE HANDLER'S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, MS

Hello readers, I hope all is well and that the June graduates are celebrating and looking forward to the future.

Speaking of graduates, did you know that some guide dog schools in the United States host a graduation ceremony once a team has successfully completed training?

There are many firsts when matched with a new guide dog. Arriving home to experience them is just the beginning. Some new handlers live alone, while others must introduce the new dog to family and other pets. Some new handlers will be bringing a new dog to a college campus or workplace, while others will be working a new dog to and from appointments and social activities for themselves and their children. The new dog will adjust in a reasonable period of time, and soon the handler will feel as if the dog had always been there to guide and lead them upon a path of teamwork and confidence. One day, when the handler has to leave the dog behind for a short period of time say, for a medical procedure requiring anesthesia the handler will feel she's missing something. When she returns home, both she and the dog will rejoice that they are together again. This is what we call a bonding. It's a mutual trust, and it's very rewarding.

One day, maybe during a routine route or errand, the dog will save the handler's life. Yes, reader, because the dog sees itself as a part of a team, it will not only react in an action of self-preservation, but it will also include the handler and protect them as well. It could be to warn the handler from stepping out into oncoming traffic or into a hole in the sidewalk, or avoiding an overhead obstacle that would injure the handler.

Over the years, my guide dogs have prevented me from being injured many times. Each time it happens, I become emotional with relief. I tell my dogs how much I appreciate them and know at some level it is meaningful to my dogs. It's always been a wish to be able to read a dog's mind, if only for a moment. But I will have to accept that a tail wag and a lick means the dog is saying,  You're welcome, or some canine equivalent. As long as we take care of one another, I believe we are both going to be satisfied.

Here is a poem about the first continuing education seminar hosted by Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Westchester County, New York.

A Weekend to Remember

by Ann Chiappetta M.S. © April 21-23, 2017

Tribute to the First Annual Guiding Eyes Continuing Education Seminar

Like many ideas, it began years ago

abstracts based upon the past

concepts blossoming from a common passion.

It was a new idea, unique and untried;

For some, the challenge instilled apprehension

Perhaps a reason for hesitation

Or for decisions being delayed

For a time, hope came second

As it happened,

Voices united, attitudes changed

Wishes became goals, then actions

The desire to gather together

was no longer waylaid

Human hearts made it happen

To honor interspecies relationships

The most powerful relationship of all

The spirit of canine propelled us

To the meeting place.

To 3 days of inspiration

36 hours of memories

And laughs to last a lifetime.

Exuberant Labradors

Stoic and steady German Shepherds

80 teams

30 instructors and staff

40 puppy raisers and volunteers

And really good food

Cumulated in achieving

cooperation totaling 150%

And energy that could not be measured

A coming together

as vibrant as Woodstock but

Not as muddy.

There were dog tangles

Reunions and tears,

Obedience practice, play time

And challenges including

A hotel that seemed to be built like a corkscrew.

Faces split in smiles lasting hours

Full hearts sharing meals

Imagine a ballroom lined with

Classroom-style tables

A person sits in each chair facing the podium

Beneath each place lies a dog, quiet

Or silent, asleep or awake

Snoring or dreaming

Licking a paw

And these canines

Our eyes

Our joy

Our inspiration

Our independence

Our family

Our reason for being who we are

And the reason why we were all there

Elicits an inner glow, a sense of pride

Or accomplishment, or purpose

We know intimately how well

These dogs gave us the ability to soar

not for only 3 days or 36 hours

but continually.

Our dogs connect us, bonding hearts and minds

Later, after the reunion

In the afterglow

We will draw upon the link

Recall the shared experience

And, with humble words, thank our dogs.

Ann Chiappetta, MS, is a writer and poet. Her first poetry collection, UPWELLING: POEMS

(C 2016), can be purchased by directing your browser to

The book is available in e-book and print from Amazon, Smashwords, and several other sellers.

Ann's blog posts can be read by going to



by Terri Winaught

In May's column, I provided biographical data about Pat Degan, discussed May being Mental Health Awareness Month, and mentioned that I would talk in June's column about the concept of a Human Library. The focus of this month's column will be what a Human Library is and its purpose.

Human Library

Though I had never heard of a Human Library until recently, it has existed since 2000.

According to Wikipedia, the Human Library was established in the year 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as an international movement. The purpose of this concept was and remains using dialogue to stamp out stigma and address prejudice relative to populations who have often been marginalized by differences such as disability, refugee status, homelessness, and gender issues. How this concept was developed and implemented can be found at

Although the rollout of the Human Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was scheduled for May 10, 2017, that rollout has been postponed until July of this year. When the rollout takes place, its focus will be primarily on problems navigating the behavioral health system and the stigma associated with mental health diagnoses.

To show how stigmatizing behavioral health issues can be, I will entitle my story  People Like Me. In that presentation and the dialogue to follow, I will be discussing and taking questions about what it felt like to be told what I previously shared with Consumer Vision readers, that a psychiatrist said to me during a 1984 hospitalization,  People like you shouldn't have children! People with mental illness should get their tubes tied! (It will be interesting to see how the audience receives that experience, the types of attitudes audience members express, and the nature of questions directed to me.)

To conclude with an acknowledgement received in May and which I am proud of, an award is presented every May at a mental health conference called The Day of Self-Discovery. In memory of mental health advocate Joyce King, this annual award recognizes everyday people whose impact on the behavioral health system is considered significant. Though I was the runner-up rather than the primary recipient, I am proud even to have been nominated, let alone to have come in as runner-up.

Do any of you have similar awards in your communities? If you do, have you ever been nominated for your community's award? If so, I'd love to hear about and congratulate your accomplishment, so always feel free to reach out to me. Home: 412-263-2022. Cell: 412-209-9818. Email: 


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

by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at

As I write, it's Memorial Day weekend, which a lot of people consider the beginning of summer. I have yet to buy sandals for my son, Zachary, nor do I have money to take advantage of the tremendous Memorial Day sales.

Maybe the 4th of July sales will be better. Once, on July 2, I paid $200 for a brand new desktop computer that normally sold for over $600. I was blessed to be in the right place at the right time looking for the exact thing that was on sale. It was the old model and Best Buy had to make room for the next model. There were only three desktops, and I was able to snag one of them.

One of the summer mistakes I have made is buying a too-small air conditioner for the room I was cooling. It's so easy to do. By measuring the square footage of the room, you will be assured of buying the air conditioner you need. I'm glad that I discovered this mistake early in the season. Now my bedroom is a good temperature, and the air conditioner comes with a remote. Have your air conditioner cool a closed area, and clean out the filters every month. It has been my experience and I've gathered from what I've read that individual window units are more effective than portable units.

This May, my son, Zachary, performed in the Sandwich Festival, which is a fundraiser for Rox. Rox is an organization that provides free music lessons to children whose families can't afford them. Zachary plays the drums for one of the bands. It was a total surprise to me that I had never heard of the Sandwich Festival, which has been held near me every year for the last few years.

For $35, a person can sample all different kinds of sandwiches from the Pittsburgh Northside restaurants. For 10 days every May, people vote for their favorite sandwiches. It was a wonderful evening, with the band Mainstream Rock's concert, the different Rox bands performing, sandwiches, onion rings, and beer. I mention this not because I want to brag about my son performing, but to say that some of the best events are fundraisers: places you can go to have a great time and/or make connections. Besides that, it always feels good to support a cause. Once, I went to a teddy bear auction. Although I couldn't afford any of the bears, I had a great time feeling them. My daughter and I enjoyed the day immensely.

I know how difficult it is to troll the Internet, and truthfully there are times when Amazon's Echo Dot, Alexa, Siri, or Google do not have the answer, or they're not available to you. Feel free to call the library. The reference librarians are still available to answer your questions. One day I was in that situation, and my friend called the library to get the phone number I needed. I had forgotten about the library, even though in high school, I relied on them quite heavily. I'm sure they would be delighted to tell you of fundraisers and festivals in your area. Just ask. Also ask about activities and events the library is hosting. I've attended Toastmasters, gone to aromatherapy sessions, watched movies, and made flowers out of plastic grocery bags and other items. I've also bought some used DVDs and CDs for not much money.

I appreciate your correspondence with me at:

Keep the letters coming. If you have any tips to contribute, please send them my way. Have a happy, blessed, organized, healthy, and fun summer.



by Karen Crowder

June comes, and with it, the delightful arrival of another summer. This month is festive, with weddings and high school and college graduations. In 2017, Flag Day is on June 14, Father's Day is June 18, and summer begins around June 21. In late June, Harbor Fest celebrations begin in Boston, with historical reenactments before July festivities. In the Northeast, the weather is very warm, and beaches, lakes, and ponds open. Everyone is going to ice cream and roadside stands that are open during another summer. Roses and honeysuckle bloom, as do lavender, chives, and rosemary. You can buy locally grown asparagus, peas, strawberries and rhubarb at local supermarkets.

The June column has four recipes, all of which are simple to prepare.


A. Easy Seafood Salad

B. Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

C. Chocolate Pudding Cookies

D. Delicious Iced Coffee

A. Easy Seafood Salad

You can purchase already prepared seafood salad in local supermarkets from the deli, but why not prepare it yourself?



One four ounce container plain seafood

Two small or one medium onion

Two spoonfuls of mayonnaise

Two spoonfuls of sweet or dill relish, optional

Dashes of dill, salt, and curry powder.


1. After opening up the seafood, rinse the small blocks of seafood with cold water under a faucet.

2. With a fork, break up the seafood in a small stainless steel mixing bowl.

3. Add onions and stir.

4. Add mayonnaise, relish, and seasonings and stir with a plastic or metal stirring spoon.

5. Refrigerate salad in mixing bowl until serving time.

6. When making a sandwich, put a small amount of butter on rolls or bread. Toast them for two minutes. Put one or two slices of American or cheddar cheese on bread or rolls, then add seafood salad.

7. Alternatively, top tossed salad with seafood salad, croutons, and optional dressing.

If there is leftover seafood salad, place it in an airtight container. Refrigerate it, eating the seafood salad within three days.



B. Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

I learned how to make this easy casserole in 1973 at Lions World. I often made it at home and once as a potluck dish. This recipe is from A Leaf from Our Table. The Chicago Catholic Guild published this braille two"volume cookbook in 1970. I have changed it, adding mushrooms, optional onion, and milk, and using less cheese. It's easy to make and is a delicious, comforting meal on a cool, rainy June night.


One 6-ounce can tuna

One can condensed low"sodium mushroom soup

One four"ounce can mushrooms

One soup can milk

One and one"half cups elbow macaroni

Two slices American cheese

Very small onion, optional

One-half cup prepared unseasoned bread crumbs

2-4 tablespoons butter

Curry powder and dill, both optional.


1. In a three-quart casserole, put soup, milk, and tuna. Stir for a minute.

2. Prepare macaroni, cooking it in boiling water in a saucepan for 7 to 10 minutes.

3. Drain and cool it, adding macaroni to the casserole.

4. Add mushrooms, spices, chopped onion, and broken"up cheese.

5. Stir casserole for a minute with a plastic or metal stirring spoon.

6. In a 6-inch skillet, melt butter. After five minutes, add breadcrumbs.

7. On low heat, let them brown, stirring them occasionally with a metal spoon for five minutes. 8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread cooled buttered crumbs over the top of the tuna casserole. 9. Bake casserole on bottom rack of an oven for 40 minutes.

Serve immediately. This makes a lovely light supper with tossed salad. If you double the recipe, it makes a lovely potluck dish. Your guests will be asking for this delicious recipe.


C. Chocolate Pudding Cookies

I made this recipe for the first time in Home Economics class during my sophomore year. This recipe can be found in the Bisquick cookbook, which may still be available from Home Readers.

I made these cookies in 2002, just after moving into Liberty Place. I was attending a baby shower, and the chocolate pudding cookies were my contribution.


Three-fourths cup Bisquick

One package instant chocolate pudding

One"fourth cup vegetable oil

One egg


Granulated sugar.


1. Put Bisquick, chocolate pudding, and vegetable oil in a medium mixing bowl. Beat egg lightly in another bowl and add it. Stir ingredients together with a plastic or wooden spoon. This takes less than two minutes; all the ingredients immediately blend.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Put small balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. In one bowl, put some water. In another bowl, put one-fourth cup granulated sugar.

5. Using a drinking glass, dip bottom of the glass in water, then sugar, and gently flatten each cookie with this glaze. Repeat this procedure with each cookie.

6. Bake pudding cookies for 8 minutes. This makes 36 to 40 cookies.

They will disappear. You can also make these cookies with lemon or vanilla pudding. They are delicious as a light dessert at gatherings or a barbecue. Kids will have fun helping you make this easy recipe. Your guests will want this recipe.


 4. Delicious Iced Coffee

 Why go out every day spending money on iced coffee when you can make it at home?


Eight to ten small ice cubes

Refrigerated coffee


Cream or half-and-half

One or two tablespoons or packets of sugar or stevia.


1. Put already brewed coffee in an airtight plastic pitcher in the refrigerator.

2. After several hours, put ice cubes in a 16-ounce glass. Pour until the glass is almost three-fourths full.

3. Add milk, half-and-half, or light cream, plus sweetener to your taste.

4. Stir coffee with a spoon and serve in the morning or as an afternoon or evening beverage. It can be accompanied with English muffins, cookies, or a plain doughnut.

Bags of ice cubes can be purchased at a convenience store or supermarket or at some drugstores.

I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this recipe column. I wish everyone a healthy, happy summer. Let us hope and pray for a civil, peaceful world.




by Patty L. Fletcher

Good evening, Campbellsworld visitors!!! I hope you've had a great day, or at least a pretty okay one. Here in the Campbell Kingdom, I'm still puny, as my daddy says. I'm working on not letting it get me down.

This evening, I've just been hanging out. Just finished a really great book series. I'll write about it at a later time, but I want to talk about one thing that I began to take note of while reading this  book.

Noises. In this series there were lots of descriptions of battles. Hand-to-hand combat. Descriptions of bodies being ripped apart. Descriptions of explosions, and what the Earth itself sounded like when an earthquake or volcano erupted. I began to take random moments out of my day, turn everything off radio, phone, computer, book, everything to just listen. Listen while I sat in the bathroom taking my morning necessary. Sitting in a tub of warm water. Lying in my bed late at night. Sitting in my favorite spot in the living room early in the morning, sometimes with windows open, and sometimes not.

You'd be amazed at the different sounds I heard. I heard sounds people make when they do things I bet they don't even know they make. I've heard noises from my own self I did not realize I was making. Taking the time to really listen to myself and what is around me has been awesome. It can at times be sad as well. Sometimes I accidentally overhear snippets of conversation as people are walking down the street, to or from their cars, etc. Sometimes the things I hear are nothing, sometimes they're funny, and sometimes they're sad. Sad because I don't think any of us, me included, think nearly enough about the things we say or the way that we say them. Sometimes I think people, me included, get so caught up in what they're doing, feeling, thinking, that the moment they're in takes the brunt of the bad from whatever else is going on. Being over-stimulated, however, is in my opinion no excuse. I have challenged myself, and am hopeful that I am up to this challenge.

I have yet again committed myself to the Four Agreements.

* Be impeccable with your word.* Don't assume anything.* Don't take anything personally.* Always do your best.

Then I'm going to take it one step further. I'm going to challenge myself to be...* Impeccable with my Actions and Reactions.* My Thoughts and Hidden Feelings.

I really do wish to be a better person. I've been laughed at for saying that, in fact, in the not-so-distant past. However, my reaction, once again, was wrong. I did better than before at handling it. I am hopeful that this time around taught me even more about how I don't want to do it in the future, if there is one where this issue is concerned, and I can almost be sure there will be. It is going to be of no matter. In this challenge, I am going to be victorious. No, I won't be perfect at it. No one is ever so. I am however, going to get better at it.

I hope you'll go along with me on this journey and take the challenge in some form in your own life.

Until next time, this is Patty, and King Campbell Lee, the best friend a redneck girl from Tennessee ever had, saying...May harmony find you, and blessid be. /

Patty L. Fletcher is the author of Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (C 2014). For full details, see her website: 



by John Justice

Have you ever been on a cruise and listened to a pianist playing in one of the lounges? Did you ever wonder how those instruments were serviced? Let me share this adventure with you.

Mrs. Rogers called me into her office one morning.

 Jack, I need your help. We just received a call from the entertainment director on a cruise ship. The SS Hibernia is docked here in New York. They want one of our tuners to check out the piano and tune it. The only thing is, how are you going to find your way onto that dock and locate the right ship?

That did present some real challenges. Then I had an idea, a really sneaky idea.

 I wonder if one of the crewmen could meet me at the cab stand and direct me to the ship. In that way, I can get there without any problem.

Mrs. Rogers chuckled.  You know, I'll bet that those men and women do that all the time for every service company. How else would the ship get things like food, booze, paper supplies, and so on? I'll ask.

Sure enough, the cruise director made the arrangements. As soon as I got out of the cab, a young lady was waiting. She sounded like Julie Andrews, and I was in love immediately. Verna was a bit hesitant around Star, but my old girl made her welcome by wagging that tail and smiling in her usual fashion. Verna took my arm and guided me. All the time, I was worried about hitting her with my tool case. But we managed just fine.

It was about 10:00 a.m. when I reached the lounge. The place was as silent as a church. There were no passengers onboard at that time. The piano was neatly fitted into a bar. All I had to do was lift the bar off the grand, but I never got the chance. Two crewmen lifted the cover and put it up against the wall.

Let me describe that cover. All around the piano was a Formica bar with brass rails, a nice footrail, and even leather armrests. The grand's original cover had been removed. The designers built an enclosure that had a cloth backing and beautifully designed wooden grill. There were signs everywhere saying,  Do not place glasses on the piano grillwork! Once the cover was removed, the rest of the bar was still there, but the grand, without its cover, was completely accessible.

I went to work and soon had it tuned. But there was one key that just didn't feel right. When I pressed it, the mechanism would hesitate, then continue. I stood to look for help. Verna was there. I explained that I needed to remove the action and work on it. Verna and her partners put a couple of tables together, and once I removed the action, they placed it onto the tables. I took that thing apart and removed the offending key. As soon as I did, something fell onto the table top. I lifted the action, and there was a gasp of surprise from Verna. Her hand darted into the small space, and I lowered the action again. She showed me a small guitar pick. It had fallen onto the keyboard and disappeared between two of the neighboring keys. I was relieved, to say the least.

When the action was replaced and the piano was reassembled, it played beautifully. Those crazy kids clapped and cheered.

The crewmen arrived and carefully put the cover back in place. I sat down and played a couple of tunes. I was really enjoying myself, and I liked the crew.

The cruise director came in and thanked me for an excellent piece of work. Then the captain arrived.  Mr. Justice, we'd like to invite you to share lunch with us. I was delighted and honored. We moved from the lounge into the captain's dining room. I had braised steak, oven roasted potatoes, and green beans. I hate green beans, but I ate every single one of them.

The captain described the Hibernia to me.  She's one of the grand old ladies. Her decks are real teak, her cabins are far too large, and her engines are getting a bit tired. She's not one of the largest vessels afloat. Her maximum capacity is about a thousand passengers. Ships like the Hibernia aren't built any longer. The cost would be prohibitive. Like me, she's past her prime, but still full of pep.

Verna escorted me back to the cab stand and made sure I found waiting transportation. As she helped me find the door, she kissed my cheek.  We were all worried about the piano, Jack. That piano has given many of our guests happy hours. To think that a guitar pick created all that mischief. We enjoyed your company and we're glad to have met you. She bent down and patted Star one last time.

During that time, my faithful old friend had lain down against the wall and snoozed. But when the time came to leave, she was ready. For Star, I think that the SS Hibernia was just another hotel. /

John and Linda Justice

with guide dogs Edwin and Calypso

Personal e-mail: 

John Justice is the author of two books, both fiction. Those are It's Still Christmas (C 2015) and The Paddy Stories: Book One (C 2016). For full details, see his website: 

John continues to write and will have two more books out later this year or in 2018.   


15. Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the May 2017 Consumer Vision. The pop singer whose hits included Eat It, I'm Fat, and Like a Surgeon was Weird Al Yankovic. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

David Faucheux of Lafayette, Louisiana

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Cleora Boyd of Fort Worth, Texas

Brian Sackrider of Fort Huron, Michigan

Amy Stefanik of New Bedford, Massachusetts

Abbie Taylor of Sheridan, Wyoming

Alan Dicey of Plantation, Florida

And now, here is your trivia question for the June 2017 Consumer Vision. In music, what is known as the 88? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.