October 2017

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

Phone: 508-994-4972



Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Second Editor and Formatter: David Dvorkin

Third Editor: Leonore Dvorkin


In this Table of Contents, you will find the title of each article separated from the name if its author by three asterisks ***. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used throughout this magazine to separate articles.

In columns like Karen Crowder's recipes, Readers'Forum, and Special Notices, items will be separated by letters starting with A and continuing with B, C, etc., depending on the number of items in the column.

Finally, if you have trouble using your screen reader, magnifier, word processing program, or any aspect of your access technology deciphering asterisks, please let me know what would work better for you. If I have the ability to implement an alternative or can be taught how to do so, I am happy to give it a try, since I don't want anyone to feel excluded or have difficulty reading this top-quality magazine.

Note: Terri Winaught sent no Letter from the Editor this month.


1. HEALTH MATTERS: Little Steps to Big Changes *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

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

3. TECH CORNER: Confessions of a Facebook Addict *** by Stephen Théberge

4. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: An Epic Deluge *** by James R. Campbell

5. SOCIETY'S TRENDS: Should Marriage Be Privatized? *** by Bob Branco


7. WEATHER OR NOT: Superstorms and Climate Change: A Broader Perspective *** by Steve Roberts

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


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

11. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder


13. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH *** by Marcy Segelman

14. MY THOUGHTS ABOUT JOB FAIRS, Part 2 *** by Cleora Boyd

15. OCTOBER BREEZES *** by Karen Crowder





Little Steps to Big Changes

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

 Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604-531 BC)

Most of us have heard this wise saying. It means, of course, that no matter how large, complex, or daunting the task, to get it done, we have to start somewhere. No matter how small that first step may be, if we just keep going, we will reach our goal at last.

I've been putting that philosophy into action, lately, in ways that I've never employed before and with success that I've never had before. If any of what I have to say below can help you in any way, then my reward will be even larger than the better health and greater equanimity that I've been enjoying, all thanks to my new determination, planning, and self-discipline.

I'm 71 years old and my husband, David, will turn 74 on October 8. Yet we continue to work hard at a variety of jobs. We are currently self-employed, so we can work as much or as little as we like. We are fortunate to be able to do almost all of our work here at home.

I've had two main jobs for decades: tutoring four languages (Spanish, German, English, and some French) and teaching exercise classes (weight training and calisthenics). In addition, David and I are both much-published authors. Since 2009, we've been editing books by other authors and then helping the authors to self-publish the books in e-book and print. We are now DLD Books: David continues to do a lot of writing of his own; he is currently working on his 28th book.

Lest you think that we are models of productivity and organization, I need to confess that, like most people, we struggle daily with prioritizing tasks and then getting them all done. We have a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on one-quarter acre of land. While we have no children, grandchildren, or even pets here at home, and we hire help with the yard, we still have the house to run and maintain. Given that my students and exercise class attendees are in and out of the house almost every day of the week, the place has to be kept reasonably neat and clean at all times. Anything else would look quite unprofessional and would no doubt be very off-putting.

David does all the grocery shopping, runs almost all the errands, does most of the food preparation, and pays all the bills, in addition to doing some of the housework: helping with laundry and dishwashing (we have no dishwasher), changing the bed, and doing the vacuuming. But much remains for me to do.

Lately, I've been thinking hard about the six main categories that my tasks and goals fall into: doing housework, doing clutter-clearing, editing, teaching languages (or at least reading some of one of them each day), exercising (that's taken care of if I have classes scheduled), and emailing. That last is a given, as I receive and send many emails every day. My current goal is to do at least a little bit of work every day in each of these categories. I sometimes have to teach for several hours in one day, and I sometimes exercise for more than two hours in one day, so those are also givens. But the others? Uh, not so much.

Can you guess which one is the hardest for me? Yep, it's the clutter-clearing. We've lived in this same house for 46 years, and we both lead very paper-intensive lives. We also have way too many books: more than 20 large bookcases of them. I'm sorry that we ever bought so many books, as we will surely never read them all. But the paper clutter is the worst: piled on our desks, thrown into boxes, stuffed into several filing cabinets you name it. And it drives me nuts.

At various times in the past, I've hired a friend to help me with some of this. Mary is experienced, efficient, and ruthless, and has been a very big help. But of course she does not work for free, and I'm now into saving as much money as I can. Also, why should I hire her to do what I'm quite capable of doing on my own?

About a week ago, I decided to employ a new method for slaying or at least wounding the big, bad Paper Dragon. The box of clutter to be sorted through and dealt with is in the dining room. Our recycling wastebasket is in the kitchen. There are 12 moderate-length paces between the two. Normally when clutter-clearing, I move the wastebasket into the dining room and stand there and sort and toss. But then it came to me. Why not walk to the wastebasket, throw a piece of paper away, and walk back, doing this for every single item? Each trip takes only a few seconds, but it gives me physical exercise and is actually kind of fun. In addition, it's proving to be highly motivating.

Oddly and wonderfully, that motivation is spreading to all my other areas of obligation. That is, I'm finding myself more willing and able to work at everything else I listed above. I'm pleased with my progress, have gained more self-respect, and have earned admiration and thanks from David. So it's all good, very good indeed. My current goal is to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day on each of these tasks unless I'm sick or otherwise prevented from working. So far, so good!

Your obligations and goals are your own, of course, but I hope that these suggestions can be of use to you. I encourage you to make your own list of tasks and then find a way of adding some physical motion and some fun to at least one of them, as I did with the clutter-clearing. Then perhaps the benefits will radiate out from there just as they did, so mysteriously and wonderfully, for me. I wish you the best!





by Dennis R. Sumlin

Staying positive and dealing with depression and other funky feelings can be hard. In my post  Five Paths to Positivity, I shared some methods to fly from the funk, and now I thought I would drop some more depression defenders on you. I love these, and they really help, and I will tell you my favorite one later.

1. Tomorrow is coming

No matter what happens today, remember, there is always tomorrow. Yes, that is a cliché, but it is true. All we really have is the current moment, so tomorrow will be a brand new set of moments you can build on. Tomorrow means that we have a chance to improve whatever went wrong today. In order to look forward, we must accept what was and move to new opportunities.

Understanding this has helped me put mistakes behind me and make peace with the day. On days when I felt as though I did not give the greatest speech, I think,  I should have said this, I should not have said that in that way, I could have made a stronger point on that, and blah, blah. In the end, tomorrow comes, and another chance to do it better. Even with larger and heavier problems, the power of tomorrow allows you to move through solutions and turn things around day by day.

2. I have done this before

If you are reading this, most likely you have been on the earth long enough to have gone through more than one period of hard times. When in the middle of a problem, or when feeling depressed, remember that you have weathered tough times before. Whatever your scars were, you still made it to the next day. That being the case, what's different about this one?

You can draw strength from that fact. Draw on the energy that you used to move you through the last one. Picture yourself on the other side of this challenge, look back, and say,  Wow!

When I was a homeless 22-year-old, of course it was not easy, but I had gone through things before. By that time, I had been through a parent's death, some medical stuff, and some social rejection, so I could make it through the homeless thing. Often, we underestimate our willpower, but when we are in the thick of things, just recall that willpower.

3. The 360 view

This one is my favorite one, and it is the one that helps me fight the funk the quickest. When you are moving through a tough time or just feeling depressed, step back and take a global, 360-degree view of your life. Ask yourself,  Other than this challenge, what else is going on in my life? This question causes gratitude energy to flood your mind.

As a beginning entrepreneur, there were times when the income was not what I wanted it to be, and while having adequate money is important, it was not the only thing going on in my life. While the money may have been slacking a little, I had other things, such as& ..

" My own place

" A warm bed

" Great supportive friends

" Money already in the bank

" That new business lead

" Another Toastmasters award

" Chocolate cake

I also think about&

" The fact that I look good

" My nice clothes

" My strong will

This gives me a wider window to assess my current conditions. This does not mean that I can remain stationary, but it does help to fight off the D Bug. There is never a wrong time to take a 360.

4. Staying strong

The struggle is real, and we need to be armed with the latest in anti-depression weaponry. You are in control of how you frame things and what aspect of the picture you dwell on. You can use these tips, download a course, work with me one-on-one, or all of the above, but like me, I am sure you want to eclipse depression. Stay strong!



Confessions of a Facebook Addict

by Stephen Théberge

I use the term addict tongue in cheek, but I feel we should all look at our social media habits. When I first went on FB, I thought people posted way too much material. Much of it seemed trivial. I often reacted by thinking stuff like, Who cares if you like that? You're eating at a restaurant with a friend? So what?

Here I was in deep denial. I thought my posts were interesting. My drug of choice on Facebook is the  like. What a thrill! It is so rewarding to have people like, and even better share, a post you put up. This causes a pattern of posting more, and searching for a like, just as a drug addict looks for cocaine.

Well, the  like was only a gateway drug. Now I have moved on to bigger and better highs. Lately, I have been taking to going live. Oh, what a thrill it is to share so many aspects of my life. People can see me on my job as I ride around the streets of the Boston area.

I have fallen into a deeply addictive pattern. I  check in at the Attleboro train station. Then, I do a short clip of being on the rails as I leave. Often, I will put a few clips of myself on the job. Inevitably, I do a short video of my return trip. To top it off, I check into my beloved Morin's Restaurant.

This behavior raises the question,  Is this harmless, or do we have a problem? In my own defense, I make these videos only available to my friends on Facebook. If I push my book, I'll make that a public post, so anyone can see it.

How do we define a problem? It is surely a matter of opinion. My sister feels that I shouldn't be doing posts like that on Facebook. Other people find no problem. The people who like these facets of my life would not have an issue with it.

I find that most people on FB seem to be creatures of habit. One can predict which friends will produce which kinds of posts. Even looking into my history of what I've put up there, my patterns are very predictable, almost robotic. It's funny how I can read stuff from one person and feel it is redundant. Surely, my posts appear that way to others.

So, as in the 12-step programs for addicts, do I go to Step 1 and admit I have a problem? Do I join a Facebook addicts group? Yes, they actually have them. I am not ready for that step. I've heard that people can be addicted to anything. I knew a boy in school who could be described as being addicted to television. When he wasn't allowed to watch TV, or couldn't, he became very upset. It could be described as withdrawal.

The difference, if FB is addictive, is that drug users hurt themselves and those around them. The only investment I make to use FB is to pay for my internet. If a junkie could pay a flat fee every month and use as much as they wanted, the price would probably be a lot more drug overdoses.

FB addiction only has one real downside, which is a toll on the user. I suppose the people that see the posts can get annoyed, but they can unfollow me and not see them anymore. So, what I really lose is that my time is not being used very efficiently. I do take time out. My dad used to call it electronic peace.

One thing that a lot of people don't think about is that FB and other social media have, for whatever reason, replaced the old ways of communication. I have only real friends and relatives on Facebook. Some people have thousands of  friends. I can keep in contact with people over great distances.

In the old days, we could go for months without being in touch with one another. Phone calls cost money, so that wasn't common. A long-distance call was rare, and a treasure. Nowadays, instantaneous back-and-forth is the norm. If my friend isn't on FB when I am, it feels like an eternity when they get back to me.

Last month, I talked about checking email twice a day at most. I relish the days when the rare communiqué was a treat, just like waiting a week for a new episode of a favorite show. We don't have to accept the way things are today. I do think it is hard to go back.

I saw a post on FB that asked if we could go without technology for a week. Surely it can be done. I stated that I'd need a reason to do so. As my iPhone is almost a pocket computer, I actually get a lot of use out of it at work. I use GPS, check when the next bus is coming, and learn what bus stops are around. When I have downtime at work, I go on FB and tell people what I am doing. So I can either twiddle my thumbs or flick around the screen and update my status on FB and look for that big  like.

I would be interested in what others think. Oh, by the way, I'm on other social media platforms as well. When I get addicted to these, I'll let you know. Shirley, I can't be serious. Well, I am, but don't call me Shirley again.

Read and post on my writer's blog.

Check out my science fiction book page for my book The MetSche Message.

Watch my Youtube channel. There are many blindness-related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts.



An Epic Deluge

by James R. Campbell

© August 29, 2017

(Originally published in Word Matters,

Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast early on the morning of August 26, 2017. The storm was a Category 4, with wind speeds near 130 miles an hour. Those wind speeds are capable of a great deal of damage to anything in their path. I am sure that tremendous destruction was wreaked by the winds that accompanied Harvey as it came ashore.

But the most outstanding feature of the storm has been the rain. Houston alone has received an estimated 40 inches. Other cities along the coast have sustained devastating losses as a result.

Fortunately, the death toll has been blessedly low. At last report, 14 people have lost their lives. By contrast, 1800 died during Hurricane Katrina. The cost to homeowners in the affected region is at least $30 billion, and that doesn't begin to include the businesses, infrastructure, and the refineries. Gas prices are rising accordingly because production has been cut.

Unlike Katrina, state and national resources are mobilized. At the helm of this effort is Texas governor Gregg Abbot. He is doing everything he can to provide for those in need, and other cities have stepped up to the plate. Governor Abbot has mobilized the Texas National Guard to assist in rescue efforts, as well as providing emergency supplies for the victims.

President Trump is on his way to Texas. FEMA is working at breakneck speed to tend to the disaster zone.

Ordinary people are coming forward to rescue others who are stranded on rooftops and in vehicles. People are using wading pools and inner tubes as rafts in order to navigate the rising flood waters. Harvey is moving back into the Gulf and is expected to double back toward Texas and Louisiana, bringing more rain with the risk of even more flooding. It will take years to rebuild. Many who live in the area will now decide to move out. No one can blame these people. They may find it emotionally draining to remain where they are, or they may feel safer leaving the coast after this event.

Looking ahead, the problems in rebuilding are humongous. The risks are many, both in the short and long term. Debris with nails, broken glass, downed power lines, and deadly bacteria that can cause illness or increase the death rate are obvious concerns. Another difficulty is posed by alligators and venomous snakes. There are at least 600,000 gators in Texas, possibly more. Most of these are migrating from the wild, as are the venomous snakes. Thanks to the flood, these reptiles, like their human counterparts, are looking for an escape that will bring them to dry land. Wildlife experts advise that people not bother the gators and snakes, who will not react unless they feel threatened.

A long-term problem that must be considered: black mold. It grows on cellulose. Cellulose is a main component of many building materials sheetrock and drywall, for instance. If the temperature is right and there is ample water and a growing medium, it will proliferate without much trouble. The symptoms of exposure: internal bleeding from the respiratory tract and prolonged respiratory and neurological issues that can result in permanent damage. The looming misfortune is that there is an unprecedented prospect for a much higher than expected rise in the rate of contamination from black mold.

I have watched countless news feeds about the disaster. My prayer is that, one, the victims will recover to the extent that they can under the circumstances, and, two, that we never forget the good that has come from this tragic event, which will alter the lives of those in its path forever. In that the storm has brought strangers together, some good has come from it. We need each other in good times and bad, regardless of the weather.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell



Should Marriage Be Privatized?

by Bob Branco

(Originally published in Word Matters,

For a long time, couples who want to get married in this country have been required to obtain a state marriage license. This policy has been in effect since the establishment of the marriage tax. Prior to that, marriage was privatized. I recently found out that Rand Paul would like to

privatize marriage once again. Given that I have no opinion either way about how marriage licenses should be issued, I think I can talk about this objectively.

We are reminded time and time again that we should separate church from state, even though the government doesn't practice what is being preached. If church and state were meant to be separated, then marriage should be privatized. I feel that if the government is not involved in the marriage process, there will be less scrutiny on people who are questioned about why they want to marry, such as gay people. They could do what they want without official government records that could be challenged eventually by organizations who want to overrule existing laws. Furthermore, the government penalizes couples receiving a federal subsidy if they decide to get married. I have been battling with legislators to change existing laws which support this marriage penalty.

On the other hand, I can understand why the government should be involved in the marriage process. In certain situations, it is important to know that marriage is a public record. I will give a few examples: taxes, wills, real estate laws, displaced children, etc. Public knowledge goes a long way toward solving legal matters in these areas, especially when this public knowledge is supported by state or federal laws. Religious groups that don't believe in gay marriage would have more power. People who try to have multiple spouses would be caught much faster.

While the jury is still out about my own position regarding the privatization of marriage, I wish Rand Paul the best of luck with his proposal. I believe it's been well thought out and deserves a lot of serious consideration. Before the marriage tax, I don't believe there were any obstacles concerning marriage, though people might tell us that life was much simpler back then. To that point, I will say that life is much more complicated today because the government makes it so.

About the Author

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



Weighing Things Up, Book Two: More Essays on Trends, Technology, and Present-Day Society

by Robert T. Branco

C 2017 / 263 pages / In print ($12.95) and e-book ($3.99) from Amazon and other online sellers.

Edited by Leonore H. Dvorkin of DLD Books

Like Bob Branco's first book of essays, Weighing Things Up (2014), this book, his fifth, consists of more than 100 short essays. Many of them were previously published in magazines or on Ernest Dempsey's blog, Word Matters. The categories are general social issues, government and politics, blindness and disability, education, science and technology, employment, medical issues and concerns, and sports. Editor's notes give links to articles that provide additional information and sometimes present an opposing view.

Full details, cover photo, text sample, and buying links:


The Interactive Christian Community is a site that allows blind Christians to host and participate through events on teamtalk and get access to more features on the Net. Events include Bible studies, prayer, music, and other events. If you wish to register, the link is:


About In Perspective:

There are several ways for you to listen to my new podcast, In Perspective, with Bob Branco and Al Hensel. The show is available on C Joy Internet Radio every Tuesday from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Just go to and hit  Listen Live, or use your Alexa device to play C Joy Internet Radio on Tune-In.

Another way for you to listen to In Perspective is through the Massachusetts Radio Reading Service. If you have a receiver and live in the metropolitan Boston area, you can hear the show every Tuesday from 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. If you live outside the metropolitan Boston area, you can call 712-832-7025 and hear In Perspective.

You can also listen to In Perspective on Radio Perkins every Sunday from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Users of Alexa can listen to Radio Perkins by simply saying,  Alexa, play Radio Perkins.

For owners of the Victor Stream, Radio Perkins can be heard on that device. The live stream can be heard on the Perkins Radio page at After reaching the page, choose the appropriate link for your preferred player.

I also have a list of subscribers to whom I send In Perspective as a link. If you would like to be one of those subscribers, please let me know and I will add you to the mailing list.

Bob Branco



Note: All the books listed below are for sale in e-book and print from Amazon and multiple other online sellers. See the authors'websites for cover photos, book details, text previews, author bios, and handy buying links. Links to the authors'websites are below, in the ads.

1. Christmas on Valley View Farm

C 2012 by Brian Nash

This third story in the Valley View Farm series, suitable for children 9 to 12, has everything a young reader could desire. Christmas is coming, and Daniel Riggs is dreaming of what might be in store. But a kidnapper has plans for Daniel's feline friend Midnight. Helped by the talkative farm animals, Daniel faces a bloodthirsty panther and rides a thrilling ghost train, then revels in holiday magic. Review quote:  Like a great story told to friends next to a crackling fire over several nights, this book will stay with you long after you read it.  Reginald George, on Amazon

Details of this and Brian's five other books for children and adults:

2. It's Still Christmas

C 2015 by John Justice

Once getting by financially, the Gleasons have become homeless and close to hopeless. But their faith in God and His mercy has never wavered. Now Christmas is close, and their lives are about to undergo a drastic change. The lifesaving aid they give to a stranger, an elderly Jewish widower, is soon repaid in ways they could never have imagined. Enjoy this touching story of mingled hearts, trust, and faiths.

John Justice is also the author of The Paddy Stories: Book One, C 2016. His book about his adventures and misadventures as a big-city piano tuner, Love Letters in the Grand, will be published in October 2017, and The Paddy Stories: Book Two will be published sometime in 2018.

Full details:

3. The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse

C 2016 by Susan Bourrie

For Pre-K through 4th Grade and children of all ages.

Celebrate the Christmas season with the lovable and hardworking Mistletoe Mouse. After he befriends Molly Dolly, a doll who is left behind on Christmas Eve by Santa's elves because they did not have her ready in time to go on Santa's sleigh, the pair join forces and, with the help of an express reindeer, work to make terrible Christmases terrific.

Whether he is dangling from a tree, covered with seaweed, confronting a stranger, or scampering through a skyscraper, Mistletoe Mouse tackles every Christmastime surprise and challenge with energy and imagination.

More than 30 years in the making, The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse is a traditional and wholesome tale that is sure to please children of all ages.


4. The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

C 2016 by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

To celebrate holiday reading, author Alice Jane-Marie Massa invites you to join her on a snowy, imaginary carriage ride featuring her holiday memoirs, short stories, and poetry.

Spanning from Thanksgiving through the new year, this collection includes her remembrances of Hoosier holidays in the 1950s and 1960s.  The Christmas Carriage (set in Milwaukee) and  The Puppies of New Year's Eve, along with stories about a military family, two holiday weddings, and a homeless person, will warm your heart this winter. From  Zoe's Christmas Eve to  Snow Dancers, Alice's poetry provides merry and memorable reading for both adults and children.

This book is one you will want to wrap as a holiday gift, as well as a book that you will want to keep beside your chair while you settle into the sparkle and joy of this holiday season.




Superstorms and Climate Change: A Broader Perspective

by Steve Roberts

It has been five years since Superstorm Sandy assaulted the United States. In the five years since Sandy, there has been a whole plethora of articles about Superstorm Sandy and climate change. There have been many arguments raised in support of more superstorms like Sandy in coming decades.

As the Earth warms, the oceans will also heat up. This will allow hurricanes to form later in the Atlantic hurricane season. With the increasingly wavy jet stream, those late-season hurricanes will have more troughs to interact with. As Bradley Horton from the Columbia University Center for Climate Research Systems said in a NOVA program called  Inside the Megastorm :  There is a lot of evidence to suggest that if you slow the jet stream, you will get a wavy jet stream of the type that makes it easier for storms like Sandy to move to the west rather than go out to sea.

Though this may seem like a slam dunk for a future with more Superstorm Sandys, it is by no means so. Most climate models tell us that in a warmer world, there will be fewer hurricanes, but those that do develop will be stronger. That means that there will be fewer hurricanes to interact with the greater number of troughs that develop within the atmosphere.

A study done by Elizabeth Barnes of Colorado State University says that in a warmer world, the jet stream will push poleward, sending Sandy-like superstorms out into the Atlantic toward Europe and not bothering the United States at all. With fewer hurricanes and an air flow that would take storms away from the United States, you might think that climate change will protect us from superstorms like Sandy.

There may be good reason to fear a return of storms like Sandy over the next few decades. We are still in the throes of the hurricane boom cycle that started in 1995. This active cycle could persist for 15-20 more years.

The month of October is a climatologically conducive month for the development of storms like Sandy. First, there is a secondary peak in Atlantic hurricane activity that takes place in the middle and later portions of the month.

Second, there is a great increase in the amount of blocking that occurs during the month of October. This has been increased all the more by climate change.

There may be good reason to believe that there could be at least one more tempest like Superstorm Sandy over the next 20-30 years.

For those of you who are in search of the next Frankenstorm, I daresay that you are on the hunt for the wrong monster. Over the last decade, the jet stream has become increasingly wavy. The troughs that form within our wavy jet stream have spawned many powerful storms along the East Coast. Some of these storms have produced historic snows along much of the Eastern Seaboard.

These are indicators of a climate favoring the Superstorm of  93, not Superstorm Sandy. Perhaps the question we should all be asking is this: Could climate change bring us tempests like the Superstorm of 93?



Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Hello, readers and fur faces. I hope your summer has been full of warm, sunny days and cool nights.

As I write this, we are experiencing the tail end of Hurricane Jose. The rain and wind are supposed to last until tomorrow evening. Watching the survivors of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and other storms to come, I am most affected by the people who must abandon their animals to save their own lives or take chances with their own lives to stay with their pets. Our 13-year-old Beagle mix is a Hurricane Katrina rescue from the high kill shelters in Georgia. Since then, we donate whatever we can to the organization, knowing that each time a natural disaster occurs, the organization will do what is required to help lost and traumatized animals. I also do my best to ignore the heart-wrenching commercials and mailings, discarding them in the dustbin. I am satisfied with giving to local animal rescue organizations.

Okay, stepping down from the soapbox, I wanted to touch upon the retirement of a guide dog, and more specifically, a handler's first guide dog. Recently, I have been in touch with a few friends who are thinking about retiring their first guide dog. Having gone through it in 2015, I feel inspired to share some thoughts about the transition.

First, the dog, in many cases, will give signals or try to let you know that guiding work is not for them anymore. This excludes obvious instances such as medical retirements, like cancer and other injuries or illnesses. It's critical that as a handler, one does not take this personally and is open to these signals. Our dogs are loving, loyal, constant partners, and we owe them the very same consideration when they present retiring behaviors.

The transition from the first dog can be especially emotionally consuming; the first dog symbolizes a partnership and increase of independence and feelings and emotions many handlers say are just too intense to describe. Being in denial about it is natural but also potentially harmful to both you and your dog's mental and physical health.

Some dogs begin to tremble on the bus. Some dogs begin to miss steps, curbs, other simple tasks associated with commands. Some dogs begin to defecate or urinate while in harness. Some, when called to work, hide or ignore the call. Some show psychosomatic illnesses, like bowel issues, sour breath, and flatulence, all indicators of stress and age. Signs can come into play when your dog is approaching age 8 or 10; it depends on the dog.

It is our job, as the human part of the team, to be aware and take care of our canine partners, no matter how hard it is for us. Sounds harsh, but it is the one part of being a service dog handler and guide dog user that makes us who we are. We make the choice to put our feelings aside and do what is right for the dog's health and welfare.

My retired dog used to come to the harness a year after she had retired and I called my second dog to me to go to work. Now, she is 11 and has no interest in working. Did it break my heart when she stood watching us leave? Of course. In my heart, though, I knew I did the right thing, and now she is happy and enjoying her life as a house dog. So, folks, honor your dog and stay tuned for the next article about transitioning to dog two.

Ann Chiappetta, M.S., is a poet, author, and consultant. Her first poetry collection, Upwelling: Poems, is available in e-book and print from .  Her memoir, Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust, is scheduled for release in November 2017. Go to to read Ann's blog.



I must respectfully disagree with the letter last month regarding blind volunteers. I feel a lot of assumptions were made in Peter's portrayal of blind people being victims. There is a different way to look at it.

Volunteerism is rewarding for all involved. It doesn't matter if one is blind or not. People choose to give of themselves, not expecting monetary reward. Besides doing it to assist, it is a rewarding feeling to know you are aiding, and many people feel they are practicing a long-standing religious standard of helping their neighbors.

I know of nobody who would willingly be  exploited. I do take Peter's point of being compensated for our work. If indeed we are doing a job, one should get fair pay. Rather than attacking those who recruit volunteers, I think Peter should have taken issue with the loophole in the law that allows people with disabilities to get less than minimum wage in a workshop.

Stephen Théberge


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

by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at

How I wish that life were frustration free. Free from depression, anxiety, fear, pain, and relationship problems. Unfortunately, I can't do that for myself or do it for you, but I do hope that the tips I bring to you each month have a positive impact on your life, making it more fun, joyful, and productive. Simplifying life can certainly make it feel like less of a chore and more of a life.

Since 2013, I've been involved in a major Penny Renovation. In the past four years, I've attained my third guide dog, made new friends, participated in regular activities and regular exercise, have worked towards becoming a vegan, and learned to love myself.

Before 2013, I worked on different aspects of my life couponing, bouts of exercise, positive affirmations, quitting a juice habit and then a soda habit, and getting out of unhealthy relationships. I took little steps and criticized myself for not doing better.

But sometimes my life is so busy, and I'm so busy living life. Problems overwhelm me, and I forget about me. When I focus on myself, I see and feel the most improvement.

How I kicked the soda habit:

I grew up drinking soda all the time. One day, while we were in Indonesia, my parents decided to stop ordering soda for us. My sister and I were forced to drink iced tea with no sugar and to drink water. We put up such a fuss that our parents soon relented and let us drink soda again. It was not our idea, so we rebelled. I love iced tea and water, and I did back then, but I resented having my soda taken away from me. I was clearly addicted.

In my teens, I decided that soda wasn't good for me. I changed over to fruit juice. When I went to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and was told that orange juice was strictly for diabetics, I complained to the nurse and said that being a vegetarian, I needed the fruit juice to get my nutrients. I was permitted to drink juice for every meal. I still drank soda, but not as much as when I was a child. I increased my water consumption when I noticed I was getting dehydrated. When I experience extreme dehydration, it sounds like my voice is bouncing around my head and my ears feel clogged.

At the ACB Convention in 2003, I met a man who doesn't drink any soda at all. I was amazed. I found it difficult to wrap my head around that concept, but I thought I would make an attempt. I went on a juice and soda fast for a month. I drank only water. When the month was over, I tried drinking soda and juice again. They were sickeningly sweet. Now I drink one soda a month, and juice no more than once a day. I enjoy an occasional piece of baklava and use agave nectar to sweeten my fruit smoothies, which I limit to once a week. I love water now. It has become my favorite beverage.

If you're struggling with quitting a bad habit, knowing that you want to but somehow being unable to bring yourself to do so, here are some things to think about.

I asked myself,  Do I want to be healthier? Do I want someone else to tell me what to do? What to drink and eat? And then,  Can I live without soda (put bad habit here) in my life?

I had to convince myself that yes, I can. I had to find an alternative by drinking water, tea, lemonade, mint water, orange water, etc. I felt great anxiety. To think that I would never be able to have soda again! But soda wasn't going anywhere. I am in control, and I can make the choice to drink whatever I want. I just don't find it appealing anymore. I don't buy it as frequently, and I don't miss it just as I don't miss red meat or watching television.

Part of what has helped me to eat and drink healthier was an article I read on the internet. I was looking for vegan alternatives to candy for Halloween, and I happened upon an article. The author said that all of our childhood, we're rewarded with candy and sweets and salty snacks. We've been told that they are goodies, when really they are baddies. If sweet treats, soda, and salty snacks are unhealthy for us, we need to think of them as baddies. Goodies would be fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

This perspective has helped immensely, giving me a feeling of empowerment and the ability to make good decisions most of the time. I can't wait to eat that vegan chocolate cake in my refrigerator in my bedroom! Oh, my gosh, the icing and cake are so amazingly delicious. ...  I mean, I'll have a little piece later when I have some with Zachary. It will taste even better then because I will be sharing my time with him.

Please email me at: if you have tips to share, comments, or just want to share your journey with me. I'm always happy to hear from you.

A comment from Leonore Dvorkin:

Yes, this can be done! David and I do not drink any alcohol, soft drinks or juices at all, except a little V-8 juice for me, as that is vegetable juice, not fruit juice, which is sweeter. Nor do we drink lemonade. We drink unsweetened, mainly hot black tea with 2% milk (no sugar or artificial sweeteners for us) and lots of water. David drinks one cup of instant coffee per day; I do not drink coffee, as it can bother the eyes of those with glaucoma. So I agree with Penny. Think of the goodies as baddies, and then make those changes. Your health will be much better for it. 



by Karen Crowder

When doing the final revision for the October recipe column on September 28, temperatures are still in the 70s. We will have our first chilly autumn nights this weekend in North Central Massachusetts. Temperatures will be in the low to mid-40s. By mid-October, the leaves are turning and tourists visit New England, enjoying the autumn foliage. There are three special days: Columbus Day, October 9; White Cane Safety Day, October 15; and Halloween, October 31. There is an abundance of apples, pumpkins, and cranberries in New England supermarkets. I hope these four delicious recipes will tempt your family and friends.

Yummy Microwave Fudge was one of the recipes I published in Bob Branco's cookbook, What We Love to Eat. The cookbook is still available in Braille, on CD, and in print. New England Apple Crisp is from New England Cookery, published by the NFB of Massachusetts in 1982. It may be out of print.


A. Baked Flounder

B. Oven Baked Fries

C. New England Apple Crisp

D. Yummy Microwave Fudge

A. Baked Flounder

My late husband, Marshall, introduced me to flounder, which has a mild, delicate flavor. Flounder can be fried and is wonderful in fish chowder.


One pound flounder fillets

Three tablespoons butter

Dashes of curry powder, lemon juice, and optional garlic powder


1. Rinse flounder fillets and place them in a buttered 8 x8 metal or Pyrex pan.

2. Place butter, spices, and lemon juice in a small glass bowl. Place small bowl in microwave oven and cook for 40 seconds. Stir sauce with a spoon, pouring it over the top of the flounder fillets.

3. Bake flounder at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

4. Serve with broccoli oven baked fries or a lovely green salad.

B. Oven Baked Fries

I got the idea for this recipe from the 1979 Fannie Farmer cookbook. I have changed this recipe, lowering the oven temperature, using less butter, and mixing it with canola oil.


Four large Maine Yukon or russet potatoes

Cold water

Two tablespoons canola oil

Two tablespoons butter


1. On cutting board, cut each potato into four wedges. Cut each wedge into 10 oblong strips. Note: Cut off the ends of the potatoes where the eyes are. Put cut potatoes into a large plastic container.

2. Dump cut potatoes into a saucepan half filled with cold water. Let potatoes sit for 30 minutes. Drain potatoes thoroughly and put them in another plastic container in a small bowl.

3. Heat butter with canola oil in microwave for 25 seconds.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put each slice of potato in the canola-butter mixture. Place on jellyroll pan. Cover all sliced potatoes with any extra butter-oil mixture.

5. Bake fries for 32-35 minutes.

6. Serve hot with baked flounder or other fish.

Note: You will not mind making these often. Your family and guests will request them, as my husband and guests did.

C. New England Apple Crisp

This is an easy dessert to prepare on a cool October evening. Golden Delicious and Macintosh apples are good to use in this recipe.


Five apples

One-fourth cup water

Two tablespoons sugar

One teaspoon cinnamon


One-half cup flour

Four tablespoons butter

One-third cup brown sugar

One"eighth teaspoon salt

One-fourth teaspoon nutmeg

One-fourth teaspoon cinnamon


1. Place cored and sliced apples in an 8 x8 baking pan. Add two tablespoons sugar and one teaspoon cinnamon. Add water.

2. Mix dry ingredients. Blend butter in with clean hands until mixture is well blended. Spread over apples.

3. Preheat oven to 350degrees. Bake apple crisp for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned.

4. Serve in bowls with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Note: I have changed some of the wording in the recipe, adding more cinnamon to the apple water mixture and more butter to the topping.

D. Yummy Microwave Fudge

I submitted this recipe in the December 2015 recipe column. It bears repeating as a delicious Halloween treat. This recipe was emailed to me in 2004. It was also published in the Out of Sight cookbook published by the Central Maryland chapter of the American Council for the Blind in 2007. I made changes, adding more cocoa and chocolate chips instead of nuts and unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate.


One and one-half cups unsweetened cocoa

One pound box or bag confectioner's sugar

Three sticks real butter, no substitutions

One-fourth teaspoon salt

One square unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate

One 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate bits; Nestlé® is best

One teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a large glass casserole dish, put cocoa, confectioner's sugar, and salt. Stir for 30 seconds with a fork, and add butter and chocolate.

2. Place casserole dish in microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

3. Put hot casserole dish on the counter and stir fudge for 30 seconds with a wooden spoon. Add chocolate chips and vanilla.

4. Microwave fudge on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

5. On the counter, mix fudge. It hardens in minutes.

6. Line a 7 x11 glass pan with foil or plastic wrap. Grease it with margarine. With a half measuring cup, measure out fudge and place it in the pan.

7. Refrigerate fudge, allowing it to chill for six to eight hours.

This fudge is irresistible. It disappears in days. Note: This fudge is welcomed at birthday, potluck, and holiday parties.

Let us pray for a lovely autumn and a happier, less divided country.



by John Justice

The advantages of working at home, for a visually impaired person, are numerous.





There are many considerations that impact a visually impaired applicant. But the primary concern is finding a potential employer who will see past your blindness and take your independent skills and experience seriously. This article will attempt to provide you with the information you need to successfully search for a position with a company that offers work-at-home positions.

Finding a position

There are many companies that offer their services. Almost all of them are internet-based, and the positions they offer require a relatively high skill level.

Purchasing a paid subscription for a job search company like Flexjobs ( is a good investment. The representatives often give a paying participant much more effort than is devoted to someone using the service without charge. The Flexjobs site sorts positions based on the information in your profile. You can contact their customer service line for questions or assistance. You are provided with a list of possible positions, and you can choose the ones that seem best, based on your personal preference. The companies that advertise on a site like this have personnel devoted to sorting through the applications. Their primary concern is that the applicant has the ability to work within their environment, using their proprietary software. That software may or may not be compatible with screen readers.

Amazon, for example, is hiring as many as 50,000 workers. Some of these positions are indeed work from home. However, as a customer service worker, you must be able to navigate Amazon's massive online site. There is a great deal of textual content, but the primary focus is graphic in nature. The Amazon customer can see the items on screen and make a choice, based on what is shown there. As visually impaired candidates, we are already at a tremendous disadvantage because we literally can't see the graphic depictions. As a customer service representative, we are considered the experts, with the ability to handle the website more efficiently than an ordinary Amazon customer. Although there may be other positions offered by Amazon, working on the front line and supporting website users would be difficult, if not impossible.

The example shown above is used to make an important point. What, precisely, would a customer service candidate be expected to do? There are many positions available that do not present the challenges demonstrated by the Amazon example. Here are a few possible avenues that can be pursued by a blind applicant.




These are examples only. All of these positions, without exception, require that the applicant be able to use a computer effectively and provide customer service.

Applying for a job

Keep in mind that hundreds of applicants will be trying for any position you might find with an organization. But here is a rule of thumb you can use. If you can navigate the application screens using your screen reader, then the chance that the working environment is compatible with a screen reader is better than average.

Before applying for any position, learn as much as you can about the services you will be expected to provide. If you have previous customer service experience, that increases your chances of being considered.

This is a very important point. At this stage, your visual impairment cannot be considered as a decisive factor. You are, for all intents and purposes, just another candidate applying for the position. If you are contacted for an interview, then and only then should your blindness be mentioned.

In an honest and fair world, your visual impairment should not be an issue. If you are working from home, blindness shouldn't be a factor at all, as long as you can perform the essential duties of the position. To be quite frank, none of these organizations are going to give you a chance because you are blind. The opposite is more likely. As much as you can, you should avoid mentioning your visual impairment unless it is absolutely necessary.

Searching online for a work-at-home position is time consuming, difficult, and incredibly frustrating. But the potential is there. There are companies offering positions of this type every day. But be very careful to choose only those that offer the work-at-home option. Nothing is more disappointing than being contacted by a potential employer who wants you to move hundreds of miles away and work in their customer service call center.

Jobs posted on these online sites have a very short window of opportunity. There are so many applicants that the positions are filled quickly. There are times when you complete an application, only to find that the position is no longer available. The old adage  Strike while the iron is hot couldn't be more appropriate when job hunting. The only successful plan of action is one in which you keep on trying without pause until a suitable position is found.

Doing it right is your responsibility. Take your time. Do everything you are required to do. Only you can make a success of finding this kind of position.

John and Linda Justice

With guide dogs Edwin and Calypso

Personal e-mail:



by Marcy Segelman

L'shana Tovah (sweet good year)!

I was sitting in the synagogue listening to Rabbi Penzner telling about her sister's daughter's wedding in Israel. We have family, and some live very far away. Some people have no family left. I know what that is like. My family at one time was large, with a lot of great-aunts and great-uncles, as well as many cousins.

Temple Hillel B'nai Torah, known as HBT for short, is seen by most of its members as their second home, or home away from home. This has to do with its community of people, as well as its commitments. We have many groups in the family. If one is sick, he or she can look for a ride. If, God forbid, there is a death, Rabbi Penzner is right there. The congregation pulls together to help that family. They will make dinner for the family or will form a minyan. (A minyan is the quorum required to hold a service. It consists of 10 people, men and women. In Orthodox Judaism, women aren't counted, and it has to be 10 men.)

Here at this second home, the rabbi is the head. We gather and we become one, and with this we can help each other out. There is one thing I have learned by coming to HBT, and that is to join in and participate. Do a lot of first things and do not worry if you have trouble with things. I feel I can do anything with help. On September 21, 2017, I was given a chance to do the reading of Shacharit (morning service) for Rosh Hashanah before Avinu Malkeinu ( Our Father, Our King, a prayer read during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur).

This is what I read.

Loving father, infinite power, gentle, forgiving, lofty, inscrutable Avinu Malkeinu. Compassionate mother, omnipotent lord, comforting presence, fathomless mystery, Avinu Malkeinu. Our rock and redeemer, life of the universe, close to us always, impossibly far, Avinu Malkeinu. Embracing, confounding, accepting our frailty, decreeing our end, Avinu Malkeinu. None of these are true, none of these are you, yet we stand as those before us have stood. Summoned to judgment, longing for love, Avinu Malkeinu. May these words be a bridge. They come from our hearts. May they lead us to you.

I leave this with you on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. It is a joy to have a place to call a second home and a large family that is extended to all. Who says family has to be blood related? Again to all, L'shana tovah! Let us be healthy and kind to one and all.



by Cleora Boyd

The visually impaired person has another problem. They probably have no idea what they will need in order to do the job because they have never done it, and neither does the employer.

This is a major problem. When a company decides they would like to extend job opportunities to people with any kind of disability, this is the main question. What kind of equipment, accommodations, etc. are going to be needed? Many employers are under the misconception that they will need to assign a person to be responsible for taking the visually impaired person to the bathroom and other activities around the job site. While going to the bathroom is not a big deal, the company may need to assign someone to make sure the visually impaired person can get out of the building safely in case of a fire or other emergency.

I said at the beginning that help is needed on both sides.

The employee needs to be sure he is applying for a job he has the skills to fill. Don't expect the employer to figure out what job you can do for him. Know what kind of equipment will be needed, and be prepared to offer solutions to the employer for how the workplace can be set up to accommodate your needs. This is a tricky one. Every visually impaired person is different as to what they may need. For some, a magnification program is sufficient. For others, a braille display for their computer and/or a speech program is required. What about the effect of a screen reader on other employees or customers in the area? Is anything that will be heard confidential? Will a chattering computer be disruptive to the work area? Who is going to provide this special equipment? Will the local VR pay for it, or will the employer be expected to buy it? Does the prospective employee have their own equipment? Is it possible to work from home? If they work from home, how will they get support from fellow employees if they need it?

To try to sum up: Prospective employers must first make the decision to be receptive to hiring those individuals with disabilities. They need to think honestly about what kinds of jobs they have that would be suitable for someone with a visual impairment. Perhaps they could visit with a local commission for the blind or vocational rehab organization, or go to a seminar, such as the one to which my friend at the commission made presentations.

Here is another thorn. In my experience, the local commission or other blind organizations frequently have no clue, especially if they are government funded. This is a serious drawback for any visually impaired person hoping to enter the work force. So, what to do?

Be sure you have a skill to offer and can do it as well as a sighted person in that position if provided the appropriate equipment. Go to an employer that is at least receptive to hiring a visually impaired person and is willing, if they haven't already, to provide what you need to do the job.

The employer doesn't owe you a job because you are blind, black, Hispanic, developmentally challenged, deaf, in a wheelchair, or have some other perceived disadvantage. All of this said, there is still the perception on the part of many interviewers that regardless of company policy, they personally don't want to deal with the issue. In this case, I'm not sure what you can do other than shake the dust off your feet and try somewhere else.

One thing that might help educate prospective employers is to actually see a visually impaired person doing the type of job they need a person for, or a similar job. When a person who is deaf or developmentally challenged or who has another type of disability applies, the employer has an idea of what would be needed to make the job accessible for that person. When people who have never seen a visually impaired person work with a computer see me working with mine for the first time, they are amazed. This might go a long way toward putting the employer at ease and making them feel more secure about offering a job to a visually impaired person. I know the Lighthouse for the Blind here often invites employers in to see their facility and see people doing some kind of job at the Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the jobs are not typically the kinds of thing an employer would need someone to do.

Going to a accessibility fair where they can see visually impaired people demonstrating the accessibility tools; seeing a visually impaired receptionist at the front desk answering the phone, typing up memos, and doing other typical secretarial chores; seeing a blind switchboard operator dealing with calls with the same speed and efficiency as the other operators in the pool; seeing a blind programmer busily writing a program with the same ability as other programmers; and seeing a blind person do other jobs with the same competence as their sighted colleagues would help to put the employer at ease and gain confidence that hiring someone with a visual impairment is just good business, not an act of charity.

In one case I have heard of, I think it was NFB that offered to pay a blind person's salary for six months if the company would give the person a chance. This led not only to that person securing the job permanently, but to other visually impaired and disabled people being employed later.



by Karen Crowder

Early October sun

Dances across

Leaf-strewn sidewalks

Summer-like breezes still

Blow across

Green branches

Asters, mums, and late roses flourish

Apples and pumpkins wait

For eager hands to pick

Halloween is four weeks away

Children dream of carving


Eating roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

Tasting fresh apple cider

With crisp doughnuts

Guessing what costume to wear

Nighttime breezes grow colder by


Sweaters and jackets replace

Shorts tops and light jackets,

Heat has been turned on

By October 18,

When temperatures reach a chilly 30 degrees

Here in New England and the Midwest,

Chowders and soups replace

Salads or cold sandwiches,

Hot casseroles and meatloaf

Replace lighter rice or tuna dishes,

The smell of home- baked rolls,

Muffins, cookies, and breads,

Remind us the holidays are coming soon,



Here is the answer to the trivia question asked in the September Consumer Vision. The singer who sang  Rainy Night in Georgia was Brook Benton. Congratulations to the following winners:

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Roanna Bacchus of Orlando, Florida

Lora Leggett of Clinton Township, Michigan

To hear a live performance of this great song by Mr. Benton, go here:

And now, here is your trivia question for October. On the television series Leave It to Beaver, which one of the following animals was not one of Beaver's pets: alligator, rabbit, burro, or parakeet? If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.