October 2018

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

Phone: 508–994–4972

Email Address:


Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Terri Winaught

Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin

Formatter: David Dvorkin


In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser’s search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or undoable with asterisks, please let me know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let me know what works best, and I will do my best to accommodate you.

In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, I will use letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, etc.) to separate items.

  1. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught
  1. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
  1. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Six Quotes to Keep You Confident *** by Dennis R. Sumlin
  1. TECH CORNER: The Pitfalls of Software Upgrades *** by Stephen Théberge
  1. WHY VOTE IN MIDTERM ELECTIONS? *** by Karen Crowder
  1. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Our Irrational Society *** by James R. Campbell
  1. A TRIBUTE TO MY DEAR STEPMOTHER (1937–2018) *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
  1. TEACHING TOLERANCE *** by Marcia J. Wick, The Write Sisters

Inserted after this article is an important note on the required limit on the length of articles

  1. A RESPONSE TO MARCIA WICK’S ARTICLE *** by Robert Sollars
  1. WEATHER OR NOT: Indian Summer: A Warm Season Swan Song *** by Steve Roberts
  1. HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
  1. TURNING POINT: Celebrating Recovery *** by Terri Winaught
  1. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
  1. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder



Dear Consumer Vision Readers,

Once again, there is so much going on in the news that I hardly know where to begin, so I’ll start by expressing compassion and condolences to all who lost family members and other loved ones as a result of Hurricane Florence.

Since I think it is even harder for persons with unique abilities to weather natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms, I’d like to hear from readers who were in Florence’s path.

To say more about Florence, it is often said that each cloud has a silver lining, and that there are people out there who are given lemons and make lemonade. Well, I heard a perfect example of this on ABC World News Tonight. Though I am unsure where in the Carolinas four–year–old Florence lives, I think what she is doing to provide relief is just too precious. Her response to sharing her name with a hurricane has been going door–to–door and collecting donations. As word of this young child’s generous spirit spread, donations began pouring in from all over the country. What a beautiful testament to the best that people can be.

On another tragic note, though, from Gadsden, South Carolina, how heartbreaking that the search in a deeply wooded area for a six–year–old who was on the autism spectrum ended in recovering his body rather than the hoped–for rescue of a child still living. As someone who has two grown children, I couldn’t imagine losing them, especially if foul play was involved (and Gadsden authorities have not yet ruled out foul play).

Although I was also going to comment on the September 27 daylong hearing of Judge Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice, I think that the news has been so saturated with that issue that I will forego comments, other than to agree with senators on both sides of the aisle: It takes a lot of courage to tell the whole world about an emotionally traumatic event like sexual abuse.

Now to conclude as I always do, I want to thank Bob Branco, Publisher; Leonore Dvorkin, Proofreader and Secondary Editor; David Dvorkin, Formatter; our gifted writers, who always use their creative talents to share a wealth of information; and certainly you, our faithful national and international readers, without whom this magazine couldn’t and wouldn’t be the amazing publication it is.

To contact me with comments, feedback, or suggestions:

Phone 412–263–2022, home

412–595–6187, cell


Or find and friend me on Facebook.

You are just as welcome to send braille or cassette correspondence to:

915 Penn Ave., Apt. 307

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Thanks for reading with me. Stay well, and enjoy all of the beauty that fall with its multicolored foliage has to offer.

Terri Winaught,

Consumer Vision Editor



  1. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use

by Leonore H. Dvorkin

  1. Items from THE WEEK Magazine
  1. New Advice on Car Seats (9/21/18)

Children should be placed in rear–facing car seats until they reach the maximum height and weight (usually about 40 lbs.) listed on the seats. This is usually well beyond the second birthday. This gives their heads, necks, and spines more time to develop, helping to reduce the chance of injury or death in case of a crash.

  1. The Decline of the Coal Industry (9/21/18)

Today, only 53,000 Americans work in coal mining—fewer than in bowling alleys or nail salons. The effects of coal pollution kill about 7,500 Americans per year. Burning coal releases many toxic substances into the air, including mercury, lead, and sulfur dioxide. Inhaled, these contribute to asthma, heart problems, and cancer. The pollutants also settle in the oceans, making coal a major contributor to toxic mercury in seafood. Fortunately, the demand for coal has plummeted in recent years as the demand for natural gas, wind power, and solar power has soared. More than 260,000 Americans already work in the solar power industry. Since President Trump was elected, 36 coal–fired plants have been retired, and 30 more have announced they will close. There are efforts to retrain coal workers for jobs in renewable energy or other industries, and many renewable–energy companies pay for retraining.

  1. Items from NUTRITION ACTION Health Letter
  1. Magnesium and Diabetes (December 2017)

This comes from a study of 200,000 men and women for 28 years. Those consuming the most magnesium from food and supplements had a 15% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the least. Magnesium–rich foods include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, and beans. From another article in the same issue: Be sure to eat well–cooked beans. Canned beans are already cooked and are quite safe. If you are cooking dry beans, soak them in water for at least five hours. Pour off the water, then boil the beans briskly in fresh water for at least 10 minutes. Then finish cooking them on the stove or in a slow cooker.

  1. Prunes for Bones (December 2017)

Almost everyone knows that prunes can aid digestion, helping to keep you regular, but they may have the surprising further effect of benefitting bones. The polyphenols in them do this. Two studies showed that post–menopausal women who ate 6 to 12 prunes a day lost less bone after six months or a year than those who got dried apples or no fruit at all.

  1. Vegetables and Breast Cancer (September 2018)

This comes from a study of 182,000 women whose diets and health were tracked for 24 years. Those who reported eating more than 5.5 servings of vegetables and fruit (not fruit juice) per day had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate no more than 2.5 servings a day. Cruciferous, yellow–orange, and leafy green vegetables appear to be the most protective. Those include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, winter squash, and lettuce. Diets that are rich in fresh fruits and vegetables are also linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

  1. Items from the October 2018 issue of Consumer Reports ON HEALTH Magazine

I am becoming fonder and fonder of this magazine, with each issue only 12 pages long. It features unfussy graphics, neatly laid–out articles, a print size that is not too small for my aging eyes, useful information, and a concluding Q & A section. Twelve issues are just $24. To subscribe, go to .

  1. The Many Benefits of Beans

Besides being inexpensive and readily available, beans are full of nutrients, including copper, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, protein, and fiber. Eating them regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. (When I took a class on the management of diabetes, the nurse conducting the class strongly recommended the consumption of beans.) They are both a vegetable and a protein source. They also contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that helps increase the good bacteria in the gut and may help control inflammation, reduce the risk of colon cancer, and increase feelings of satiety (fullness).

You should aim for a variety of beans. Great Northern and navy beans have more calcium. Adzukis, garbanzos (chickpeas), and lima beans are high in iron. Red and black varieties of beans are rich in antioxidants.

Surprisingly, they can help with weight loss. This may be due to how they increase the sense of fullness and modulate blood sugar levels. They also help cut cholesterol, due to their soluble fiber.

While canned beans contain the same nutrients as the beans you cook at home, they can contain added salt. If you want to cut back on salt, opt for lower–salt varieties or rinse canned beans before you use them. (I do that all the time.) This reduces sodium by 25 to 40%.

Solving the dreaded gas problem: This is usually worse during the first week of daily consumption of one–half cup of beans. After that, the problem lessens. Tips: Increase your bean consumption gradually. Drink plenty of water to help the fiber move through you faster. Make sure to soak beans before cooking them. (See above, under Magnesium and Diabetes.) Or you can use products such as Beano, which contain gas–busting enzymes.

  1. Healthy Up Your Home for Winter

Here in Denver, it’s now dipping down into the 50s and even the 40s at night. We recently had a furnace check, and all is well. Here are some good tips from ON HEALTH.

Be sure to have a yearly furnace check from a professional.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and CO detectors.

Make sure that any space heater has safety features, such as a switch that turns it off if it’s tipped over.

To reduce indoor pollution, do not burn candles, and ban indoor smoking.

Store harsh chemicals like solvents, glues, and pesticides away from living areas.

About the Author

Leonore H. Dvorkin works as a foreign language tutor, exercise instructor, book editor, and author. She and her husband, the prolific author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. Leonore is the author of four published books (both fiction and nonfiction) and numerous published articles; most of the articles are on health, nutrition, and fitness. David Dvorkin is the author of 28 published books and numerous published articles.

Since 2009, David and Leonore have been running DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services, helping authors get their books published in e–book and print formats, then sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major selling sites. They offer highly professional and comprehensive services at very reasonable rates. Most of their editing clients are blind or visually impaired.

Leonore welcomes questions and comments from readers. Her email is:

For more information, please visit any of these websites:

Leonore Dvorkin:

David Dvorkin:

DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services:



  1. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Six Quotes to Keep You Confident

by Dennis R. Sumlin

I am sure you have seen lots of quotes by famous people. There is always a happiness, confidence, will power, discipline, or achievement quote being hurled at us. Well, don’t duck now. I have more for you. I picked these quotes because they stand out to me and drive the meaning of my coaching work. These quotes come from the Famous Quotes Fun Pack, which you can download for free.

“I have failed over and over again. That is why I succeed.”—Michael Jordan

This quote brings home the fact that there is nothing to fear from failure. First, when you fail, that means you were doing something, and you can use that so–called failure to learn how to do it better.

Years ago, when I first entered Toastmasters, even though I had done voice acting before that, starting to give actual speeches was something I had to get used to. My first few speeches sounded like a heap of scattered thoughts. It was not until my fifth speech that I was starting to get the hang of it—which of course reminds me of that speech contest where I flopped. However, if it weren’t for those flops, mistakes, and failures, I would not be the speaker and speaking coach I am today. There are plenty of quotes that communicate this point. I just happen to like this one.

“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.”—Donald Trump

Yes, I know, Trump is a controversial name for some, but he said this before he became the 45th president. I like his quote because it is very matter–of–fact about success. We all think. Think about all the time you spend thinking about things that do not get you closer to your goals. The quote challenges us to use our thoughts to support our goals. We all think, and as long as we are thinking, why spend time filling our heads with gossip, negative self–talk, judging others, and so on?

We could be thinking about the next project we are going to launch, the next client we are going to coach, or the next time we will try to run for president. It can be a battle to minimize negative talk and other toxins, but as long as we are thinking—well, you know the rest.

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.”—William B. Sprague

This is one of my favorites. Often, many of us wait for good opportunities to come to us. We want to get lucky. We want the universe to synchronize with our wishes. This quote tells us that the old mindset will keep us moving slowly. Instead of waiting for the right time, instead of waiting for that perfect moment or lucky stroke, go out and create your own opportunities.

Make that iron hot by striking! Why wait for that perfect moment? NOW is that perfect moment! There was no perfect time to launch my business. Yes, I needed to be competent in the areas that I teach and coach, and yes, I needed to have at least some idea of who I am serving, but really, once I had that basic understanding, then what?

When, oh when is that “perfect time”? Ask yourself: When is the perfect time to write your book, to ask that chick out, to start hitting the gym? Don’t wait till there is an open door. Design and build your own door. Then open that motherfucker!

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”—Theodore Roosevelt

A great quote from my favorite president. This quote leaves no excuses for anybody. It lets us know that we can make our mark at any moment, using what we already have. If you want to build your business, don’t worry about the other dude who has it already. Start from where you are and go from there.

Children are very good at this. They get creative about how to get things done. When I was a kid, I was into creating my own audio drama skits on cassette tapes. Remember those? I didn’t have sound effects for cars and trains and other everyday noises of life, so I went out with a tape recorder and captured them myself. I went into the subway nearest my house and recorded the train so I could have the effect.

Don’t let anything stop you. If you are disabled, use your other abilities. If you need a computer but can’t afford one, head to the nearest library. There is almost never a time that you can’t do something in the direction of your goals. Yes, some people have it tougher than others. Everyone’s road is different, but that shouldn’t stop you from making your way toward your dreams.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”—Will Rogers

This is another one of my favorites. This one is great because it breaks things down into components.

  1. Find out what your gifts and passions are.
  2. Do the appropriate work, education, etc. to sharpen your craft.
  3. Set measurable goals.
  4. Take action on your plans.

It’s that last one that is the key. You may know what you are good at. You may know the causes you care about. You may have a background in your chosen field. But nothing will happen if you don’t take action.

It was not enough that I had a good speaking voice. It was not enough that I wanted to speak/entertain. It was not even enough to get training. Action completes the circle. Negative self–talk, second guessing yourself, and waiting for that nonexistent perfect time can stop you from taking action. Stop the stoppers! The right track means nothing if your train is still in the station.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”—Mahatma Gandhi

I saved the best for last. I think of this as the cornerstone of my coaching work. Happiness is not something that you find. Nobody can give it to you. Others can be the icing on top, but happiness must start with you. You have the choice to step into happiness. This quote boils down to integrity, self–awareness, and consistency.

I was not walking in happiness when I was second–guessing myself and wanted to be one of the cool dudes instead of being myself. I was not walking in integrative happiness when I would put aside my wants and needs to take care of somebody else. Even though I have never been much into lying, I was not walking in true happiness when I would downplay myself to avoid imagined conflict.

If you are not happy with who you are, it will be hard to fully relax into that energy. If you want to find happiness, decide right now that you are going to go for it.

If you have bouts of low self–esteem, lack of confidence, and second–guessing syndrome, and you are sick of it screwing you and slowing you down, I can help connect you to that energy. Let’s talk about a more confident, powerful you!



  1. TECH CORNER: The Pitfalls of Software Upgrades

by Stephen Théberge

Recently, my Firefox browser kept upgrading itself automatically. The new version was not accessible with my screen reader setup. Fortunately, I could uninstall it and reinstall the older version, which I had kept. I was able to find out from someone how to not have Firefox automatically upgrade itself. Now it only reminds me that an update is available.

I generally try to avoid talking about issues that affect the blind and visually impaired specifically, but I think this is a special case. Software updates can drastically impact our productivity. I do recall a sighted person who was drastically affected by a Skype update, but generally, most people are not as inconvenienced as we are. After all, if our screen readers don’t work, we are like fish out of water.

I understand that the Firefox update would work fine if I had JAWS 2018 as my screen reader. I now use Windows 10 with JAWS 18. It is certain that in the future, we will all be forced to update our software because at some point the older stuff won’t work. I actually know someone who is using a really old computer with DOS, an ancient operating system. They are content with just email. They can’t do anything else online.

I was reluctant to upgrade to IOS 12 on my iPhone 7, but many assured me that it would be a smooth transition. I would recommend updating as soon as possible, if only to have a more secure system. Many times, the software updates are specifically targeted to system security and don’t affect any other part of the system.

Generally, I feel Apple is more geared to the blind and visually impaired than is Microsoft, but that’s comparing apples and oranges, or I should say iDevices and PCs. The iPhone and PC are  very different from one another. Each can do things that the other can’t do. Sometimes a PC is the answer, while at other times an iPhone or other such device will be sufficient.

Many have asked, “Why would anybody pay $1,200 for a phone?” If you are blind or visually impaired, you can get a smaller screen, maybe for under a thousand dollars. Most of us won’t need a larger screen if we are using voiceover to have elements spoken to us. At least we don’t have to pay extra for this accessibility feature.

A decent PC will probably be in that same price range. Assuming a state agency will buy JAWS for another thousand dollars, you might be fine. Yet it seems a shame to me that Microsoft doesn’t have such a feature built in. The narrator program comes nowhere near the functionality of a screen reader. NVDA is a free screen reader, and a separate article comparing JAWS and NVDA would be needed. They are very similar in some ways, but very different in others.

It’s true that many people and groups collaborate to keep access technology as up to date as possible. Some have stated that Apple, Microsoft, and others don’t care about our issues. That often seems to be the case, but everybody complains when changes are made. As these changes affect us more, we are understandably more upset.

The fact is that often updates are bug fixes made to accommodate us later. We are probably not front and center on the developers’ radar. However, I think things are getting better. I have used both Microsoft and Apple hotlines, which can help us troubleshoot issues related to accessibility. There is room for improvement on both sides, but generally, I feel we are much better off than we were even five years ago.

The last issue on updating our systems is the eating away of memory. My first computer had 16 kilobytes of memory with an expansion card bringing it up to a breathtaking 48 kilobytes of memory. That was amazing and state of the art in the 1980s. When the one–megabyte barrier was broken shortly thereafter, we were amazed.

One could argue that programs are much more sophisticated than in the past. That’s true, but you could also argue that there are more bells and whistles. In accessibility terms, we have more buttons, links, and other control elements than ever before. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

After updating my phone to IOS 12, I got a lot of other apps updated. I was kind of disappointed that five gigabytes of my memory were gobbled up to accommodate these updates. I really didn’t notice any significant improvement in the programs. It could be argued cynically that companies deliberately do this so one has to buy the latest devices and applications. As it is a fact that these companies are in the free market, that is a logical progression. More functionality and features make it necessary to use more resources.

My main takeaway for this is to turn off automatic updates of software until you are sure that adding an update manually will not affect your productivity. Update the security features as often as possible. This is easier to control on a PC. In an ideal world, we would update our systems automatically and everything would go smoothly. When it comes to accessibility issues, this can often be problematic.

Follow me on twitter at @speechfb

Read and post on my writer’s blog:

Check out the Web page for my coming of age science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, and its sequel, The MetSche Maelstrom:

Watch my YouTube channel for many blindness–related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts.




by Karen Crowder

The midterm elections of 2018 will decide many U.S. House and Senate seats. Many governorships across the country might be changed. In each state, many state representative and state senate seats will be decided. So will city council seats, some mayoral seats, and other offices. There are also referendum questions to be decided upon by voters. Election Day is on November 6. This election will shape the way our country, states, and cities will be governed until the 2020 presidential election.

In Massachusetts, information on that state’s referendum questions is available on cartridge from the Perkins Regional Library.

If you are blind, how is it possible for you to vote?

If you are new to voting, I believe you can register at your town or city hall. If you need a ride to the polls, call your city or town hall. Ask for a Democratic or Republican committee person. You will get their phone number. Call, and if they cannot give you a ride, they will find someone who can. If you like a certain candidate, call that candidate’s office requesting a ride. The person who brings you to the polls can also help you in the voting booth. I received rides in 2017 and 2018 to a special election and our September primary. The woman running for the state senate seat made sure I had rides to the polls. You can take a taxi to the polls or go by Paratransit.

At the polls, there are talking voting machines. You will be guided to one with your Republican, Democratic, or unenrolled paper ballot. You will be given a set of headphones and given help inserting the ballot into the machine. Press the large, square button. The voice will explain the machine’s functions.

 All buttons are marked in braille and large print. There are two sets of arrow buttons. Arrows to the right lead you to each contest for U.S. Senate, Congress, governor, etc. The arrow going down leads you to names of candidates for each contest. When you find the name of a candidate you wish to vote for, press the large Okay button. If you don’t know which candidate to vote for in a particular contest, leave that one blank and press the right arrow to go to the next contest.

For referendum questions, press the down arrow to read the text of each question. Respond to the Yes or No by pressing the Okay button. Arrow to the right for each question. Arrow down for the text of each question and the responses.

When you are finished with your ballot, press Okay. The machine will read your ballot back to you. If necessary, you can make corrections. Press Okay if you are satisfied. The ballot will be slowly ejected from the machine. The person who is helping you will guide you to a poll worker who will mark your ballot and place it in the ballot box.

When you arrive home, you can sit listening to election returns, enjoying the satisfaction of participating in America’s political process. You can rejoice when your candidate wins or complain if he or she loses. You can be happy if one or two of the referendum questions you voted on passed and disappointed if they do not. This habit is addictive. I have been voting since 1972.

Voting is a right and a privilege which should never be taken for granted. Most regional libraries can send you cartridges on referendum questions. Every vote counts, and votes will help shape how our country is governed until 2020.



  1. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Our Irrational Society

by James R. Campbell

As the nation was reeling from the death of Arizona Senator John McCain, an event was playing out in Jacksonville, Florida during what was planned as a friendly competition in a video NFL game tournament.

Suddenly, gunshots punctuated the air as players who attended the affair were killed or wounded. When it was over, nine were wounded, and three others died, including the shooter, 24–year–old David Katz. The Baltimore, Maryland native took his own life at the conclusion of the carnage he had unleashed on innocent people who had come to Jacksonville for an afternoon of fun. They came to compete in a video tournament, with no idea that they were in danger.

Our society’s irrational conduct takes many forms: bullying on the internet, road rage, bad actors at sports contests who feel that they or their children must win at all cost, and what has been termed masculine toxicity. The latter, simply stated, is the behavior of men who won’t accept no for an answer when women refuse their advances.

Dr. David Burns, the author of Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, C 1980, points out that for all of our technological advances, our society is more immature, irrational, and sicker than ever. Keep in mind that he wrote his book in the late 1970s. This is 2018. What has changed?

If anything, things are far worse than they were in 1980. Technology has advanced to a place where the world is connected by computers and cell phones. If used for good, the internet is a boost, in that it provides a wealth of entertainment and information. At its worst, it is a platform for the recruitment of terrorists, online bullying, and child pornography.

We live in an entitled society. We expect instant gratification. We want what we want with no patience to wait for the reward. Nothing is earned anymore. We as adults have handed our children and grandchildren the world on a silver platter, and they don’t have any concept of appreciation for what they get. How often does a child work to earn money for a laptop? Not very often. How many times do children in the neighborhood go out to raise money for a charity or to help someone in need?

There are times when communities pull together when tragedy strikes. An example of this took place six years ago in neighboring Midland, Texas. On November 15, 2012, a parade that was hosted by a local group was struck by an oncoming train. Four veterans were killed, 16 injured. The Permian Basin came together to donate blood and raise money for the victims’ families.

But this is the exception, not the rule. Very seldom do you hear of children or adults reaching out to help seniors, the infirm, or the needy. It does happen, but the media will never report on it because it is too average. The good people and their deeds go unnoticed.

The factors that contribute to the creation of our social trends are myriad: instant gratification, mental illness, and the constant flood of negativity we are exposed to on a daily basis. The list is endless. One of the biggest and most insidious issues we deal with today is the self–imposed isolation that is fomented by our mistrust of others. In order to have an outward focus, where the needs of others come first, we must have social connections. It is easier to hide behind our computer keyboards than it is to make friends through human contact. We don’t stop to think about how detrimental this is to our welfare, let alone the welfare of society as a whole. We can’t expect to live rational lives if we hide behind our TVs, computers, and video games.

There are many who say that we have gone too far to reverse the trend. The pundits of doom would have us believe that it is too late to change the societal malaise we live in. Not so! It starts with each of us. I know that I have said this many times, but it bears repeating.

We would do well to examine our own lives. We can’t depend on government, gun control, or the big names in entertainment to do it for us. Japanese peace activist Daisaku Ikeda reminds us that the rich and famous feel that they have too much to lose by getting involved. While this isn’t always the case, I believe within my heart that we have the capacity to change. The question is whether we have the will to do it.

When it gets to the point that a video game competition leads to another senseless act of violence, then the time has come for educators across the country to begin to instill altruism as part of the coursework for school–age children. I am in favor of teaching the benefits of volunteer work to our youth and actually grading classroom reports on their experiences.

We have forgotten that charity begins at home. Parents aren’t involved with their children. The TV, the computer, the Xbox—these are the modern babysitters for the youth of today. It’s easier for the parents to buy the child an Xbox than it is to sit down and talk with him or her. But what does this do to the psyche of the adult that will be the end product? We have seen too much evidence of the answer. If we invest time in our children, providing them with the love and nurturing they need, we might, just might, turn the corner that will be the beginning of the undoing of our irrational society.

As always, thanks for your time.

With loving kindness,

James R. Campbell





by Leonore H. Dvorkin

On September 18 of this year, my beloved stepmother, Willene Schaefer Hardy, died in Kansas City, Missouri, after less than 24 hours in a hospice facility. Prior to that, she had resided for several years in two very good assisted care facilities: first in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she lived with my father for 41 years (until he died of heart failure and Alzheimer’s), and then in Kansas City, where four of my five sisters and most of their family members live.

Willene had polio at the age of six. While she could still walk with the aid of leg braces and crutches when she married my father in 1969, it was not long before it became necessary for her to use a wheelchair. After my father’s death, her health steadily declined. She died with severe, whole–body disability and a long list of serious illnesses, including mid–stage kidney failure and the beginnings of leukemia.

My sisters and I loved Willene deeply, and we will all miss her very, very much. Besides being a loving stepmother, she was intelligent, witty, highly educated (with a Ph.D. in English), a faithful correspondent, generous, liberal, tolerant, patient, and amazingly stoical. She was always ready to put the interests of others before her own, and she gave generously to many charities.

Thinking a lot about her and her sterling character, I am newly inspired to try as hard as I can to be more like her.

Because many readers of and contributors to this newsletter are our editing clients, David and I wish to mention here that Willene was, among all our family members and friends, uniquely supportive of our writing and our editing work. I could always count on her for thoughtful and honest opinions of our writing and that of others, as well as her opinions of the many book covers that we designed. I will miss such thoughtful judgment and commentary from her more than I can say. In addition, she kindly purchased many of the books by us and by our clients.

Thanks to all for reading this. While none of you knew Willene, of course all of you have suffered your own losses of beloved family members and friends. Thus you know that the death of a person who was so significant to you leaves a hole that can never be filled. All we can do is try to remember the good times, be glad that such wonderful people were in our lives, and make the very best of the years that we ourselves have left to us, however many those may be.

Also, please remember that you can never know how many years are left for those you love. Never miss a chance to tell them, whether they are young, old, or in between, how you feel about them. My sisters and I are all glad that Willene knew very well how we felt about her.

My email:

My blog:




I have a few things to say concerning what Jake Joel wrote about the poor service he received through the Illinois Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. As I read his article, my blood boiled hearing that services are no better now than they were when I graduated college in 1965.

DVR can take no accolades for my academic and employment success, nor that of my legally blind son, who obtained his Illinois State CNA Certificate about 1994. I am congenitally blind. Despite my parents’ and my effort to contact DVR and keep up with the counselors, who tended to dodge clients, I was successful in graduating with a double major, with a BA degree in sociology and secondary education.

I received absolutely no financial or advocacy assistance from DVR. Hence, I was unable to obtain a teaching position in the Chicago public school system. I held a teacher’s license and annual license renewal fees for 36 years, but I never taught a day in Chicago schools.

After nearly two nightmare years of civil grievance with the Department of Public Aid, I finally landed a position as caseworker in intake. Later, another, even greater, nightmare situation arose when I was promoted to the service unit with Public Aid, and a seven–year battle took place to obtain reasonable accommodations.

When I first came aboard at Public Aid, there was one totally blind caseworker in the Education Unit. I am the first totally blind caseworker hired in field services in the Chicago Public Aid System. ADA is useless when it comes to helping the blind, at least where I was concerned. I was eventually forced to choose between resigning from the agency or checking myself into the best psych institution available.

I now reside in Minnesota, where social services are much better. Having said this, employment opportunities are nil, especially if you are black and blind. And please do not be female as well.

My son practiced in his field for nearly 10 years, but again, DVR was totally uninterested in his welfare and offered no advocacy assistance, and he eventually left the nursing field. Illinois services for disabled people are terrible in general, but at the bottom of the dirt pile for the blind in particular. My husband, also congenitally blind, found VR services in Illinois even worse than those in his native state of Mississippi, which is saying a lot.

We relocated from Chicago to Minnesota in 1999, with no regrets. This being said, northern Minnesota is just as bad as Illinois, since we were compelled to take our congenitally blind, African–American selves with us.

Elizabeth Slaughter




by Marcia J. Wick, The Write Sisters

I break out in a cold sweat at the idea of arming teachers with guns. Having worked in public education for 15 years and being a parent myself, I have given myself permission to weigh in on the debate.

For six years, I worked in the office of an alternative school for expelled students; I enrolled teenagers whose offenses ranged from marijuana to murder. For three years, I wiped runny noses at an elementary school; I calmed irate parents and soothed the targets of bullies. For seven years, I managed the mayhem in the main office of a large urban high school; I de–escalated boys a foot taller than me with rings in their noses and purple hair. Never once did I feel threatened at work, although I had a hiding place picked out if needed.

The pace at a large urban high school is relentless. Office phones demand attention an hour before the first class bell, and insistent bells continue to clang throughout the day, marking the beginning and end of each period. During passing time, teachers usher noisy students into class, while support personnel try to keep the halls clear and quiet during class time. However, when you pack 2,000 hot–headed teenagers with 200 hard–working adults into one building for eight hours a day from August to May, stuff happens. Medical emergencies, sports injuries, fights, drug and alcohol reactions, and mental health events are common. Students with epilepsy, diabetes, learning disabilities, and mood disorders collapse, cry, and scream for attention.

The claim that guns in schools would calm the chaos is ludicrous. Teachers and staff are trained to practice nonviolent crisis prevention and intervention and to model appropriate behavior when students are escalated. Calm voices, non–critical language, restorative justice, and peer coaching techniques are employed to find common ground when disagreements occur. Social workers, psychiatrists, and other health–care experts are called in to work one–on–one with students requiring higher levels of support. On the front line, teachers, coaches, support staff, and even the burly security guards welcome students with smiles, always cajoling and encouraging while watching out for their safety and welfare.

Arming staff would only put educators in an adversarial relationship with the young people they are there to nurture and protect. Students and staff won’t feel safer if teachers pack heat instead of pencils, or coaches carry handguns instead of stopwatches. In fact, some students (and parents) could be tempted to bring concealed guns to school themselves to offset the perceived threat inside the building. More guns in schools would only escalate the risk of harm during explosive situations.

Our high school had only one armed police officer in the building, and five rather burly and intimidating security guards (teddy bears in disguise) posted at the entrances, patrolling the halls, and walking the grounds to help keep control. Each carried a radio so they could respond in an instant when assistance was required. In addition, each classroom was equipped with a panic button, which teachers or students could push to summon help. Once the button was pressed, the teacher or students could communicate hands–free with office personnel while managing events in the classroom; at the same time, office staff could hear what was happening in the classroom and send assistance. If a child fainted, a fight broke out, or a defiant student needed to be escorted out of class, security responded quickly, allowing teachers to resume the all–important job of teaching.

Dozens of radio calls for school security and frequent 911 calls are made during the course of a typical school day. Disturbances may come from inside or out; our school was often directed to lock down due to police activity in the downtown vicinity. Incident after incident, morning to afternoon, Monday through Friday, for 10 months—most days in the principal’s office felt frenetic. Interruptions were the norm. “It’s just the normal chaos in here,” I used to say, quoting a random lyric from a lost song. The staff joked amongst ourselves that to utter the word “quiet” only jinxed the rare moments.

The “frequent flyers” escorted to the assistant principal’s office often struggled with substance abuse, chronic health issues, anger management, or mental health disorders. We allowed students to sit on a bench until they were disciplined or regained their composure. We were not threatening, judging, or demeaning. When ready, the “offenders” were escorted back to class to resume the ever–important job of learning. While about 10 percent of the children faced significant challenges, 90 percent of the kids remained firmly seated in class, working toward a bright future.

All day every day, educators, like guardian angels, soar above our children, looking out for their safety and welfare. They intervene one–on–one as students struggle with cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, language barriers, and teenage angst. They adjust attitudes and talk students up (or down) before calling the principal or parent. They counsel kids whose stomachs are empty, whose homes are cold, whose parents are absent, and whose futures look dark. They open their arms and hearts and wallets, transcending the very definition of “teacher.”

Schools offer refuge, a time–out for children from overwhelming obstacles. Schools provide a safe zone, a haven for young people free from the danger and neglect they may face on the streets—or even in their own homes. Schools may offer the only warm meal a child will eat that day.

Children seek structure and stability, dignity and acknowledgement, compassion and latitude. Adolescents need a safe place to flex their muscles and preen their wings. With education, support from caring adults, camaraderie from fellow students, and a sense of security, many overcome what fate may have otherwise prescribed.

Now that I have praised teachers and school staff, I will add a caution. Even the best of us can become slightly unbalanced on a bad day. We have stressors at home and work. We cope with financial pressures, illness, divorce, our own prejudices, or family conflicts. Triggered, any one of us could “go off” and pull the trigger upon hearing an outburst in class, but outbursts are everyday occurrences in schools. More guns only invite the Death Angel into the classroom. What is needed is clear thinking and a measured response. Stop the guns at the door. Call the armed police—highly screened, trained, tested, and committed to protecting the public. Pay the teachers the professional wage they deserve for performing life–saving miracles without guns in the classroom every day

Marcia Wick, retired from a career in journalism and corporate communications, now enjoys gray hair, grandchildren, and time for personal writing. Her essays have appeared in Magnets and Ladders,, and Vision through Words. She reflects on parenting, caregiving, living with a disability, and adventures with her guide dog. She now partners with her sister as The Write Sisters. Legally blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, Marcia also volunteers with Guide Dogs for the blind, advocates for public transit, and enjoys a variety of sports with her husband as her guide. Contact her at .


An Important Note on the Length of Articles for The Consumer Vision, from editor Leonore Dvorkin

The above article has been published as it was written, as it was originally submitted to Bob Branco as a letter. However, I need to point out that it is over the stated limit of 1,000 words per article by close to 100 words, and another article in this issue is more than 200 words over that limit. So, in the future, please adhere to that 1,000–word limit, folks, or we will have to return your piece to you for cutting, possibly delaying its publication for a month.  

You can say a lot in 1,000 words, especially since that number does not include the title and your name, nor does it include any concluding information about you, the author. There is an easy way to assure that you are sticking to the limit. With no title on it, write your article in a Word file, making sure that it is not over 1,000 words in length. The computer counts the words for you. Only then should you add the title, your name, and any concluding information.

Thanks a lot for honoring this request.  




by Robert Sollars

With all due respect, Ms. Wick, I have to disagree with some of your points.

Yes, teachers and other educators should be trained with de–scalation techniques. But I’m sure you have to agree that sometimes those techniques don’t work. It’s those times that having staff actually armed with firearms would be beneficial to the school and the other students.

As I have said many times, when we refuse to change and adapt to the changing world, then we are doomed to die. I don’t like a lot of the touchy–feely things that we are doing in schools. Most of the time, their anger just continues to simmer and is taken out on people…somewhere. It’s the parents’ responsibility to know their children and know when a problem is brewing.

No one, except administrators, should know who has been licensed to carry within the school or not. If it were common knowledge who was carrying, then it would make them an instant target for some teenager who wishes to do harm—take out the potential obstacle so as to carry out as much carnage as possible. Adding to that is the fact that carrying should be voluntary, and it should be accompanied by rigorous training.

In Parkland, Florida, the school district, school, and even law enforcement had ample opportunity to help the student and prevent violence, yet they didn’t do their jobs. They ignored requests for help from the student himself and others around him, and we know the results.

In Santa Fe, Texas, the student walked in and started shooting with no warning. This is the way of most shootings. No one anticipates the shooting until it actually occurs, and that is where armed staff and officers can make the difference.

Bullies don’t like to be confronted, and if the predator is confronted, there is a chance the predator will turn and run without doing any harm at all. That happened in Dixon, Illinois this past spring. The potential shooter was confronted by an officer and turned tail and ran. The only people injured were the officer and the student, and neither one that badly.

As for your security “guards” and them being teddy bears, that is a perception that we must dispel and learn from. These “guards” are usually not trained to do anything but observe and report, which does no one any good. In Parkland, the guards/monitors did exactly what they were supposed to do: They observed and monitored the predator. Nothing untoward was seen, but he was still passed along to the other monitors in the school. They got fired and/or reassigned because they followed their orders to the level in which they were trained.

As for parents taking responsibility for their children, I agree that many parents simply don’t give a rat’s patootie about their kids and leave it up to the school and government to raise their children. Those parents need an attitude adjustment, as well as the kids. It is not the government’s job to raise kids, except in Nazi Germany, mainland China, and Soviet−era Russia, and that is a very dangerous road to travel. Think revocation of the Constitution later down that road to totalitarianism.

As I stated in the podcast, the keys to preventing these shootings are the warning signs that can’t be ignored, a threat assessment team (and consequently referring them to counseling or therapy), and physical security, along with the other facets of the book. It all fits together like a puzzle, and if you pull one piece out, it is incomplete and falls apart. It must be a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to the issue. You can take the arming of teachers out of it, but then the other preventive measures fall apart, in my opinion, remembering that these predators don’t like to be confronted.

There is no one program that will stop these events, and it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent them—students, parents, educators, and law enforcement. Unfortunately, many of these groups abdicate and have been taught and indoctrinated by the government to think that someone else will take care of it.

Lastly, I agree with your comments about teachers not being paid enough. They never have been. As you probably know, teachers and the educational system in Arizona were badly underfunded after the 2008 financial crisis. Our teachers have recently gotten a 20% raise that will be fully implemented by 2020. Some teachers aren’t getting all of that, even when the money was allotted to the districts for it, because it is being held back and spent on other items.

Schools have to be held accountable as well for what they spend, how they spend, consolidating departments, and so on. Too many schools don’t take accountability for what happens and for alerting the parents and students of a potential problem. Parkland, Santa Fe, and Globe, Arizona are examples of schools not taking proper action when they should have.

Please purchase the book and read the entire thing. It may illuminate the issue a bit more clearly and you will better understand why I advocate what I do. In any event, thank you for your response to the podcast and reading this letter to you explaining some of it.


Robert D. Sollars, Security Revolutionary


Website: Twitter: @robertsollars2

Author of: Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention

Preview it at:

I May Be Blind, But My Vision Is Crystal Clear




by Bob Branco

When I first heard about what the Yankees were planning to do, it was obvious to me that they have a high regard for the Jewish population in New York. I’m not saying that nobody else has a similar regard, but the Yankees took it one step further. On the original 2018 baseball schedule, yesterday’s Yankees/Red Sox game was scheduled for 1:00 PM, a very rare Tuesday day game. The reason why the Yankees decided to play this game in the afternoon was so that the fans and players would be home by sundown in order to celebrate Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I thought that was a nice gesture to the Jewish population of New York. By the way, this practice was not mandated by Major League Baseball. It was something that the Yankees decided to do on their own.

As it turned out, the remnants of Hurricane Florence hit New York early yesterday, leaving the field conditions in Yankee Stadium unplayable. Normally when this happens, the game would be rescheduled as part of a double header or be postponed until the teams have a common day off later in the year. Where the Yankees publicly acknowledged the Jewish community by purposely scheduling yesterday’s game in the afternoon, I never thought that they would move the game to last night. Well, they did. So much for their public acknowledgement of Yom Kippur.

It’s not that I have a problem with baseball teams postponing games for several hours if the weather forecast calls for improving weather. It’s been done many times. It’s just that the Yankees used Yom Kippur as an excuse not to play at night. I don’t find the behavior of the Yankees very consistent. If there is ever a time to play double headers, it’s now, because of expanded rosters. Did the Yankees need that additional revenue from the rained–out game so badly that they had to sacrifice Yom Kippur? I wonder. Does money outweigh any previous commitment that a baseball team makes? Whether this was the Yankees’ intention, I can almost guarantee all of you that the subject of additional revenue has crossed the minds of other baseball fans.

If you’re going to make a religious commitment, honor it no matter what. No one has to make such a commitment, so it’s not as though we made the Yankees do this. They did it, and then backed out of it. The game did not have to be played last night. It could have been today or tomorrow. Why not?

Bob blogs at



  1. WEATHER OR NOT: Indian Summer: A Warm Season Swan Song

by Steve Roberts

What Is Indian Summer?

Indian summer is defined as a lengthy stretch of summer–like warmth following the first frost or freeze. A frost occurs when the air is cold enough to permit moisture to freeze on plants. A freeze occurs when the air is cold enough to permit the moisture within plant tissue to freeze, expand, and damage the plant tissue.

As the first blast of cold retreats, the warm winds of late summer take over once again. These southerly winds can bring August–like warmth to a mid– to late–October day. An Indian summer setup can send daytime highs into the lower and mid 80s for three or four days in a row. In some cases, these warm spells can last up to a week.

An Indian summer occurs when a subtropical ridge, called the Bermuda High, sets up off the North Carolina coast. A high in this position will send warm south to southwesterly wind up into the central and eastern United States. A typical Indian summer setup will bring unusually warm weather to everyone from the Mississippi Valley to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The Look and Feel of Summer

When Indian summer is in progress, you can have the smoky haze that often comes with mid– to late–summer heat waves. This is because the southerly winds that bring in the warmth also bring pollutants along the way. The low sun angle coupled with high levels of air pollution can yield some truly colorful sunrises and sunsets. Though the hazy skies and warm air may give all of us the impression of summer, the colorful leaves of autumn bring us back to reality, a reality that says, “It looks and feels a lot like summer, but not entirely.”

The Return to Reality

Nothing lasts forever, not even the lengthy stretches of warmth that we call Indian summer. Eventually, a cold front will crash the party, bringing us back to reality.

The cold fronts that bring an end to Indian summer will often bring us back to seasonal levels. In some cases, they can bring us the coldest weather of the season thus far. In some cases, they can even set the stage for the season’s first nor’easter.

Talk about a rude wakeup call! Autumnal nor’easters produce heavy rain and high winds and awful weather conditions for those of us in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast. As if that weren’t bad enough, autumnal nor’easters can stall for days, bringing days of misery to those under their influence.

Indian summer at its best and worst is a fool’s paradise, as it is a brief reprieve in the progression toward the chilly days of winter.





A novella by Canadian author Thea Ramsay

C 2018 / In e–book format on Amazon for $2.99

The print edition (59 pages in length) will be published soon.

Full details of this and the author’s other publications:

Chapter One


The smoke from her gun was followed by a burning pain in my side and a gush of red. Dizzy and suddenly cold with terror, I fell to the ground.

It hadn’t been personal. Not this time.

Stray bullet. Wrong place, wrong time, and all because I came back.

The last thing I heard was the man, Al, screaming at her to drop the weapon and call 911.

I was nearly overpowered by the damnedest urge to laugh. Paramedics busting in to save me, finding the gun, calling the cops while I bled out.

She dropped the gun and stared down at me. “Can’t you bleed somewhere else? God, my deck!”

I patted her arm, or thought I did. “Don’t worry, dear. Your cell will be squeaky clean,” I said, or thought I did.

She didn’t respond, just looked at me in horror.

The last thing I felt was my temperature dropping, and such awful weakness, plus a strange sort of thinning, a widening, as though I were spilled water, as if I were melting into the rough wooden boards.

The last thing I thought was, Who will find my journal, and how will my kids know what I’ve written for them to see?


A review by Leonore H. Dvorkin


Part ghost story, part psychological puzzle, and totally terrific, A Very Special House will no doubt haunt your memory for a long time to come. The evocation of the atmosphere of both Maui and the special “honey house” that resides there is superb. Unusual and striking are the author’s mentions of various beloved smells: of flowers, rain, wood, new paper, new pencils, food, and more. As a fellow writer, I have to say that this novella features some of the best and most realistic dialogue I’ve ever read. Throughout the book, the reader is borne along on alternating waves of memory and wishing, of what was and what was longed for. The surprise ending is deeply gratifying. Don’t miss this compact masterpiece by a very talented new author!



An urban thriller by Butterfly Thomas / C 2018 / 400 pages in print

In print and e–book from Amazon and Smashwords

Full details, cover, author’s bio, free text sample, and more:


Shya's dying mother tasked her with taking care of her younger brothers, and the girl is trying hard to do just that. But it doesn't take long for the reader to learn that Shya is doing a lot more than being a loving, attentive sister and attending college.  She's also working as a high end escort under her stepfather’s control.

As the stepfather’s demands increase, Shya sees no choice but to kick up her plan to squirrel away enough money to win custody of her brothers. Little does she know that one brother is doggedly pursuing the escape of drugs, while the other is being bullied and hopes to escape everything—permanently. More tragedy ensues as Shya gets caught stealing from the wrong person.

Can she save her family with bodies dropping all around her and a killer closing in? Will she lose everything for the pursuit of money? Can she keep her head held high in the face of so much adversity?

A brief review by Leonore Dvorkin, editor of Head Held High

While this book is a terrific, action–packed thriller, with lots of thuggery and multiple murders, it also features touching family love, deep friendship between the two main female characters, realistic dialogue, romance and sex, plus tragedy and eventual triumph. Almost all the characters in the book are black, as is the author. (Butterfly Thomas is her pen name.) The striking young woman on the cover reflects Shya Hamilton’s beauty, strength, and confidence very well. Besides being quite impressed by the author’s writing skill, I had a lot of fun Googling all the black slang in the book, all of which was new to me. The author and I hope you will give this action–filled thriller a try.



  1. HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs

by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Hello, readers. It’s autumn, my favorite time of year. Our dogs will soon be able to romp in the leaves and snow. I will be watching out for ticks and brushing more to help my dogs grow into their winter coats.

I want to share some highlights from our last trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Traveling with a guide dog is rewarding but sometimes challenging. The increased independence provided by a working dog is gratifying. Being able to navigate an airport terminal and weave through the other travelers without risking being shoved or getting one’s white cane tangled in rolling luggage, or being shoulder–checked by other passengers is an advantage, for sure, especially when traveling alone.

This time in the airport, after each bathroom break, Bailey returned us back to our seat at the gate. The folks sitting next to me were impressed. “Your guide dog can do that? That’s really cool,” a man said. This made my heart swell with pride. This is just one example of being given a much better and less confusing way to find one’s way back to a chair in a busy, loud, and confusing situation. I still counted my steps, but instead of missing the gate seating area, I asked Bailey to “go back to the chair,” and by golly, he took me to it.

Once we were shown to our room in the hotel, he backtracked, remembering the door outside, the other doors leading around to the front of the hotel, and expertly avoided the steps, which were in the main area. I am still mending a knee injury and avoid them whenever possible. My dog knows this, and he compensates if steps can be avoided.

We went on a wine tour, which Bailey seemed to like once we had exited the van. The last time we piled in, all warm with the spirit of wine tasting, he jumped into the row behind us and sat on a man’s lap. We all broke up laughing, and eventually Bailey got back in the right place, the floor in front of my seat.

Niagara was a great vacation. The downtown area was clean and accessible, and the food was top notch. The only trouble came when I was refused two taxi rides in one day because the drivers would not take my dog. This is illegal in Ontario, and I tried to advocate as best I could. Unfortunately, neither the taxi company nor the police were helpful. I am pursuing a formalized complaint process with the appropriate Canadian entity and will let The Consumer Vision know when I receive some correspondence.

Anyway, we got in a few miles a day walking, visited both casinos, took a short boat ride at night to view the falls and see fireworks, ate the yummiest gelato at Niagara–on–the–Lake, met some great folks, and even got to take a few naps. All in all, the taxi cab incidents, while annoying, did not influence how much fun we had, and next year I am visiting Seattle.

Ann Chiappetta is an independent author and consultant. To find out more about her or join Ann’s author’s email for updates, go to .

For book buying links, go to .

Her two books thus far are Upwelling: Poems and Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust.

Both are on Amazon and several other buying sites in e–book and print.

Follow Ann’s blog:



  1. TURNING POINT: Celebrating Recovery

by Terri Winaught

On Saturday, September 15, the third annual Recovery Walk was held in Pittsburgh. Although the focus of these walks has usually been recovery from Substance Use Disorders (SUDS), this year’s theme was All Types of Recovery. If we think about it, we are all recovering from or have been in recovery from something. For me, the recovery journey has been from diagnoses of major clinical depression and severe panic and anxiety disorder. Proofreader Leonore Dvorkin has courageously shared and written a book about being a breast cancer survivor. That is Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey (third edition, 2012).

Although I didn’t walk because I am not in good enough physical shape, I assisted in administrative ways, which included serving on a planning committee, networking with vendors, and welcoming attendees.

In addition to the walk and recovery–oriented resource tables, there were stories of recovery, food, face painting, and lots of family–friendly fun.

As I listened to the varied recovery experiences and reflected both on my own journey and the courage with which pain and pride were shared, I found myself hoping that we can bring about even more success stories by writing and talking away the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, substance abuse, and the co–occurring disorders of severe mental illness (SMI) and substance use. As advocates continue to whittle away at stigma, like skilled carvers who whittle plain wood into works of art and beauty, maybe we will no longer have the sad statistic of 4,600 youths between the ages of 10 and 24 losing their lives to suicide (that statistic was shared after a 48 Hours program on Saturday, September 22).

If you or someone you love is hurting to the point of considering suicide, don’t be ashamed, but instead reach out for help by calling 1–800–273–8255 (273–TALK) to get help and compassion. Locally, there are also crisis lines and Warm Lines. In Pittsburgh, for example, there is the Resolve Crisis Network, with a toll–free number that can be found online and from our 211 Helpline. If you are feeling lonely, need someone to talk with, may not be in a crisis but want to avert one, the Allegheny County Warmline number can be found online at:, or by calling 412–227–0402.

If you want to share a story in my Turning Point column, please feel free to contact me: Phone 412–263–2022, or email me at If you are a behavioral health provider who uses art, writing, or music therapy to promote healing, I’d love to interview you for my column. Please be assured that your story or article about treatment approaches will be treated with the utmost respect.



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

by Penny Fleckenstein

Who Blogs At:

Email Me At:

I heard from one of our readers, Susan Jones, in an email that she uses a pedal exerciser. She loves it because it’s portable and quiet. She exercises while reading her books and magazines and while watching TV. She bought hers at Independent Living Aids. I’ve seen a few on I read a little about it, and it sounds intriguing and beneficial. I can’t wait to try one out.

In August, I went to my church picnic. During a sequence of events involving my dog, my friend fell on my left big toe, bending my toenail backwards. I immediately put on ice, and then I hung out in the pool for over an hour. The water was very cold. When I woke up in the morning, my toe and foot were throbbing and infected. I called my primary care doctor. The receptionist advised I make an appointment with my podiatrist. He was able to fit me in that day. I have cab tickets for nonmedical trips, plus medical transportation, which I must book three days in advance. I called a couple of people for rides. I ended up having to take the bus and walk four blocks each way to the doctor’s office, wearing sandals. For future same day doctor appointments that don’t warrant an ambulance, I will keep cash available for a taxi.

The more plant–based my diet becomes, the more meat–oriented some of my children become. As I’ve discovered Mediterranean farro salad, my son Eric likes to make a roast in the Crock Pot before he goes to bed and wake up with it fully cooked. The first time I tasted Mediterranean farro salad was in Sam’s Club. Then it disappeared off the shelves, and I haven’t seen it since. They claim it’s a seasonal item, but no matter the season, I wasn’t ever finding it. My friend Beth took it upon herself to make it.

Farro, like spelt, is an ancient grain, cooked for 30 to 45 minutes. The proportion is 1 cup grain to 3 cups water. The flavorful, chewy little balls soak up the flavor of the ingredients you put with it. Wegman’s has a farro artichoke dish that’s amazing. When I get artichokes, I will add them to my farro salad. Beth makes it with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, black olives, lemon juice, and olive oil. At a picnic, I had a farro salad called a Perfect Protein Salad, with chickpeas in it. Farro is my new love.

I love to buy fresh bagels from a bakery, Panera Bread, or Bruegger’s Bagels. I buy a dozen at a time. Sam’s Club’s bagels come pre–sliced. I ask bagel and bakery places to slice my bagels. What a great time saver! I feel good. There are no worries when Zachary, my 9–year–old, wants a bagel. It doesn’t cost extra to get them sliced. I’ve read that you can do the same with already cooked meat in the grocery store. Just go up to the deli counter and ask them to slice it.

I’m also enjoying bruschetta, a vegetable dip you can put on crackers, pita chips, or bread. I bought a four–pack of jars with sun dried tomato, artichoke, roasted red pepper, and olive. My friend Gayle introduced me to sweet red pepper bruschetta, which they sell at Mancini’s Bread. I can’t wait to try other ones. I plan to make some of my own. I’ll bet they’d be good on Crunchmaster Crackers, too.

Now for one of the best decisions I’ve made! I finally got around to opening a Pennsylvania ABLE account. At this time, your onset of disability must have been before you turned 26 years old. There is a push in Congress to get the age of onset changed for those who became disabled after age 26. ABLE accounts allow you to save money toward education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management, administrative services, and other expenses that help improve health, independence, and/or quality of life. It’s a nationwide program. Select the program that best suits you.

I opened my account in Pennsylvania with sighted assistance using the computer. I didn’t have to choose an account in this state. It was a painless half hour. It felt incredibly easy, amazing both of us. Now I can continue receiving benefits while I save money toward the allowed expenses. You can start with a minimum of $25, determine how often you want to contribute, have friends and family contribute, and determine the amount for checking and the amount for investing. I feel much relief knowing my savings are protected. I can still receive benefits that help me live. I can contribute up to $15,000 each year. It can’t exceed $100,000. I get a debit card, too. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Please write me. I love getting fan mail. I love knowing when others benefit from what my readers and I share.




by Karen Crowder

With October’s arrival, days and nights are often cool enough to turn on heat in homes across New England. The foliage season arrives, with dry leaves cascading to lawns and sidewalks.

There are foliage tours across the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Mums are in bloom, as are apples and pumpkins. We are lucky to have several apple orchards across central Massachusetts. One is in Bolton.

In October, there are three special days: Columbus Day, October 8; National White Cane Safety Day, October 15; and Halloween, October 31.

On cool evenings, comfort foods are welcome dishes. Near Halloween, it is fun to prepare delicious treats for your children and grandchildren.


  1. Creamed Chipped Beef
  2. South Shore Chocolate Chip Squares
  1. Creamed Chipped Beef

This dish has an undeserved reputation because of its thin sauce and saltiness. Many cooks do not know the proper way to prepare it. When my husband requested I learn how to make it, he referred me to a recipe in The Braille Cookbook. I later got the idea of adding light cream from the 1979 Fannie Farmer cookbook. Creamed chipped beef became one of our favorite dishes on a busy Saturday night or a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Two tricks to a good creamed chipped beef are soaking dried beef in hot water, ridding it of half  the salt. Simmering it in a cream sauce makes this dish delicious. This dish is wonderful served over well-buttered toast.


One jar Hormel chipped beef

Six tablespoons butter or whipped margarine

Six tablespoons flour

Two and one–half cups milk

One–half cup half–and–half or light cream

Six slices well−buttered white or whole wheat toast.


  1. Fill a lock–lid saucepan with hot water. Open a jar of dried beef and immerse it in the water. Allow it to soak for two hours, adding more hot water as necessary.
  2. Into a double boiler or three–quart saucepan, measure out six tablespoons of whipped butter or margarine. Let it melt on low heat for five minutes. Add six tablespoons of flour. Whisk mixture until it is smooth for two minutes. Add two and one-half cups milk and whisk white sauce for two minutes. Then whisk it infrequently for 25–30 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and free of lumps. Add light cream or half–and–half. Let sauce cook on low heat for another ten minutes.

Drain the chipped beef, breaking it into small pieces in a glass bowl. Add it to the cream sauce, stirring it in. Let creamed beef simmer covered, stirring infrequently until serving time.

  1. Ten minutes before serving time, butter six slices of bread in a pan in a large toaster oven or a cookie sheet in a regular oven. Bake bread for seven minutes at 350 degrees in regular oven or for five minutes at 350 degrees in a toaster oven.
  2. Break up toast into small pieces in bowls, topping with hot creamed chipped beef.

It will taste nothing like its frozen or institutional counterpart. This dish adequately serves three people.

Note: The Braille Cookbook was published in 1951 by the American Printing House for the Blind. The author was Marjorie Hooper. This cookbook is in one hardcover volume. You may be able to receive it on BARD or from your regional library.

  1. South Shore Chocolate Chip Squares

I received this recipe at age 12 from a friend I met at a day camp in Weymouth, which is on the South Shore. Its original name was Icebox Brownies. My mom and I baked them several times. They were simple to make. As an adult, I made changes, using margarine instead of the extra can of condensed milk and adding more chocolate chips, renaming this recipe South Shore Chocolate Chip Squares.


21 whole honey graham crackers

One stick Imperial margarine

One can sweetened condensed milk

18 ounces semi–sweet chocolate chips; I like Nestles.


  1. Melt margarine in a microwave oven in a glass bowl for 40 seconds. Let margarine cool in microwave oven.
  2. Crush graham crackers into small pieces in a Ziploc bag, using a rolling pin or your hands. Alternatively, run graham crackers through a food processor, pulsing crackers for 60 seconds. Dump crackers into a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Add margarine and condensed milk. Stir ingredients with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. When batter becomes difficult to stir, add chocolate chips. Stir again for two minutes, until chocolate chips are incorporated into the graham cracker batter.
  3. Line a 7”x11” Pyrex pan with foil or parchment paper. Grease it with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a metal or plastic one–half cup measure to scoop out batter into the Pyrex pan. Make sure the entire pan is covered. With a small spatula, spread batter, making sure surface is even.
  4. Bake brownies for 40 minutes. Remove immediately to counter and let them cool for an hour.
  5. Cover them with foil and refrigerate them overnight.
  6. Cut brownies into squares the next day.

You should have approximately 24–30 delicious squares. It is best to keep them refrigerated in an airtight container.

I hope Consumer Vision readers enjoy these easy, convenient recipes.

Let us pray for a more civil, less divided America and for a happier, more ethical society.





Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the September Consumer Vision. The four remaining soap operas on prime time network television are Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless. Congratulations to the following winners:

Joe Aycock of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Cleora Boyd of Fort Worth, Texas

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Nancy Hays of Oakville, Connecticut

Roxanne Reed of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

Steve Theberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the October Consumer Vision. What three brands of cigarettes are named after cities in New England? If you know the answer, please email or call 508–994–4972.