THE CONSUMER VISION
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editing and Proofreading: David and Leonore Dvorkin
Formatting: David Dvorkin
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 us 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 us know what works best, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, etc.—are used to separate items.
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Three Boxes, Two Checks, and One Dentist’s Office *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
2. INSTRUCTIONS FROM A DREAM *** by James R. Campbell
3. OUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED *** by Stephen Théberge
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: In Tokyo, It’s the MilkMan’s Matinee; Sato Wins Second 500 *** by Don Wardlow
5. WEATHER OR NOT: The Coming Dust Bowl and Climate Change, a Quasi-Natural Climate Event *** by Steve Roberts
6. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
7. READERS’ FORUM
8. AUTHORS’ CORNER
9. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
10. TERRI’S TIDBITS *** by Terri Winaught
11. TWO TURNING POINTS *** by Terri Winaught
12. BECOMING DISENCHANTED WITH RELIGION *** by Marcy J. Segelman
13. A SALVATION ARMY DUMPSTER ESCAPADE *** Poem by Steve Brown
14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Three Boxes, Two Checks, and One Dentist’s Office
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Copyright August 22, 2020
I welcome comments on any of my articles.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe it’s some effect of the pandemic, but today I feel like writing about a variety of issues that are rather more personal than usual. All of these musings were inspired by recent events, and they do in fact have to do with health of one sort or another: the health of my house, my finances, and my teeth, as well as comments on how my dentist keeps his office. I hope you’ll enjoy what I have to say.
A. Here in the house, it seems that I always need to do more clutter-clearing. Today, in addition to doing his usual grocery shopping, David took three boxes of items, mainly books and magazines, to a local thrift store. Other things in the boxes were various small household items, a couple of tote bags, greeting cards that I can’t use, and some 2021 calendars. Such things are often sent by charities to which I contribute.
Some of the books were the printed proof copies of books that we’ve edited. I always write in the front that the fully corrected version of the book is now for sale on Amazon, and I say, “If you like this book, please spread the word.”
There is no way for me to know what happens to any of the items that I donate; I’m mainly glad to have them out of the house. But I sincerely hope that the modest items I have to give away, be they clothes or other things, can benefit those who are less fortunate than we are—also that those proof copies might possibly lead to a few sales for the authors whose books I’m promoting.
B. Back in March, when the pandemic first took hold, I had to cancel the home-based exercise classes (mainly weight training) that I’ve taught since 1976. That was an extremely sad thing to have to do. All of my students had been with me for more than 10 years, and I miss them terribly. But we are all between the ages of 68 and 84, and all of us have health problems that might well put us in grave danger if we were to contract COVID-19. So it was goodbye to the classes and to hundreds of dollars of monthly income for me. Thus David and I have been watching our expenditures rather more closely than before.
Several months ago, I received a check for just under $30 as part of a legal settlement connected with some product I had purchased. Foolishly, I laid the check aside until it had expired. Time was, I might have simply said, “Darn, too late now,” and chalked the loss up to my own carelessness. Instead, I decided to send an email to the address given and see if they might possibly issue me a new check. Another problem was that they had my last name slightly misspelled, and I informed them of that.
To my happy surprise, they said they could send me a new check, but I would need to fax them a copy of my driver’s license or my passport as proof of my identity. I elected to send the former. In turn, they said they had accepted that document and would be issuing a new check. After a few more weeks, it arrived.
The lesson here is, if the amount is any more than just a very few dollars, and if your request is at all reasonable, it’s probably worth at least asking if you can get whatever is (or was) owed to you. They might say no, but they might say yes. I spent perhaps 30 minutes tops on the matter, and I got back almost $30. That comes out to considerably more than I make per hour teaching languages by Skype or editing, so I call it a good half hour’s work!
C. The other day, I went to the dentist to have him check out a tooth I was worried about. I have at least a dozen crowns and one expensive implant in my mouth, and this tooth is one of my few remaining natural teeth. Dr. Duvall examined it carefully, and I was relieved to have him say that no, it does not need to be replaced with an implant. However, it is weak, and it could crack at some point, which would then necessitate removal and replacement. But it can be saved with a crown.
We have no dental insurance. An implant costs a whopping $4,500, and the whole procedure takes over a year, requiring many separate appointments. A crown costs about $1,300 and requires just two visits. So the choice was obvious. I have an appointment to start the procedure in late September.
My dental problems aside, I was very relieved and impressed to see how much care Dr. Duvall and his staff are taking to insure their patients’ safety and their own. The overall level of cleanliness is exceptional. They even have a special HEPA air purifier in every room. Dr. Duvall and the hygienists are protected to the max, with masks, plastic face shields, gloves, special gowns, and even rubber caps on their heads, presumably to keep any virus out of their hair. After all, they have to bend over the patients’ open mouths all day, which must be rather terrifying at the present time.
Naturally, when the patients enter, they are asked multiple health questions and have their temperature taken with one of those nifty infrared, no-touch thermometers. (We have one here at home, too, as well as a pulse oximeter. Both are quick and easy to use.) All in all, I feel that the dentist and the other health professionals whom I have had to visit recently, as well as my hairdresser, are being as careful as possible. While the restrictions are no fun for us, the patients and clients, they are surely much more onerous for the providers. In my opinion, they deserve our admiration and our deepest thanks.
About the Author
Leonore Dvorkin and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, live in Denver, Colorado. David is the author of 29 published books, and Leonore has four books to her credit. They both write fiction and nonfiction, and they have both written dozens of articles.
In addition to writing for and helping to edit this newsletter, Leonore tutors German and Spanish, now by Skype. While her exercise classes had to end (as mentioned above), David and she also have a thriving business editing books by other authors and helping them to self-publish the books in e-book and print. Since 2009, they have worked on over 80 books of many types by other authors.
If you think you might be interested in their editing services, they kindly request that you read the information on the website linked to below before contacting them, as that answers the most common questions people have about DLD Books and about self-publishing in general.
Please visit any of the following websites for more details about their services and publications.
David Dvorkin: http://www.dvorkin.com/
Leonore Dvorkin: https://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: https://www.dldbooks.com/
2. INSTRUCTIONS FROM A DREAM
by James R. Campbell
© July 8, 2020
Early this morning, I woke up from a vivid dream. I haven’t had a dream that seemed as real as this one since March 2016. The morning’s offering contained a message and an assignment.
I dreamed I was standing on a stage before a live audience. It was midnight, and I had been brought to this place to read an essay that I wrote about the recent murder of a coed at the University of Texas at Austin.
The year was 1972. A driver from the Texas School for the Blind provided me with transportation to the twilight hour’s event. This appearance was not by choice; it was a requirement. The orders came from none other than Dr. John Carrick, the psychiatrist who treated me between 1972 and 1974.
And so, there I stood, with a manila envelope of laminated paper that contained an essay that was six and one-half pages in print. I recited the entire manuscript while decked out in psychedelic attire. When the assignment was done, I received a standing ovation.
This morning’s encounter was a voice from beyond the grave. Dr. Carrick died some years ago. The task he gave me was to cover a topic of recent interest.
A Fort Hood soldier, Vanessa Guillén, 20 years of age, went missing on April 22. Her family and friends appealed to the upper brass at the base, desperate for help in finding their loved one.
Last week, human remains were found 30 miles from the base. This Monday, the positive identification was out: The body that was located in a shallow grave was Vanessa’s.
Her family is outraged. “We want justice!” one of Vanessa’s sisters demanded after the remains were discovered. She continued by saying, “They lied to our faces every day for the last two months. My sister was sexually harassed at the base, and nothing was done!”
According to the official report at the time, there was no proof of Guillén’s claims of sexual harassment. The family has urged for a Congressional investigation into the death of the young woman who wanted to serve her country since she was 10 years old.
One suspect fled from the base and took his life after the body was discovered. A female accomplice has been charged in connection with the case. Allegations are that Vanessa was beaten to death on April 22 by the suspect in the sexual harassment allegations. The Army and Defense Department have promised a full investigation into the circumstances involving this tragedy.
If this were an isolated incident, it would be bad enough, but it is not. Vanessa’s death is only one of an untold number of cases like it all across the United States. Too many girls like her who have so much to offer have their lives cut short for reasons that few can understand. That is the view from the surface; the deeper answer is as simple as it is diabolical.
Predators who commit these types of crimes are into exploitation of their prey. These people enjoy the power they have over their victims. The power of life and death is in their hands.
The actors who do this stuff choose to reject the belief that the girls they rape and murder are human beings, as they are. The girl becomes an object, a toy to be used by the killer for his or her needs. These women are there for one purpose, “to be used and used up”—a quote from the late Kenneth McDuff, the bad boy from Rosebud, Texas, who was executed on November 17, 1998. The Lone Star State put him to death by lethal injection for the murders of five women. McDuff was convicted of the murders of three juveniles in 1966; he was the only prisoner in Texas to be sentenced to death, paroled, and returned to death row.
We hear and see it more than we care to; and yet again, we must confront the evil of the dark hearts that delight in shattered lives and broken dreams. Peaceful protests have been organized by various groups in light of this case.
The damage that is wrought by these dark souls can’t be described, only experienced. There are those who turn away, largely due to apathy, or because of their own helplessness. Those who turn their backs in apathy are doing the rest of us a grave disservice. Nothing is worse than an individual who pretends that the world is a bed of roses. My dad always said, “Son, we can’t always have roses. You’re going to get thorns in your hands along the way. Get ready for it. That’s life.”
Dad was right. If there was any proof needed, we have it. Vanessa Guillén’s case is synonymous with the utter gratuity and deterioration that are the hallmark of our society in the 21st century. Our only chance to reverse the trend is to return to the values that breed trust and love among others. If we fail to do so, we will have nobody to blame but ourselves when the foundation that our nation and world were built on collapses. There is still hope, but each of us must do our part. Nothing less will suffice!
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
3. OUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES REGARDING ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
by Stephen Théberge
In many posts online, my friends and colleagues rant about how such and such an app or website is not accessible on their computer, tablet, or phone. I certainly empathize with these feelings; I have often encountered this problem.
First, web page and app designers, as well as developers of operating systems for phones, computers, and tablets, can’t make things accessible if they don’t know what that entails. It’s much harder to put functionality for the disabled in an application after it has been developed. That should be our biggest effort: educating people about what is involved. There are a lot of issues that must be considered.
Second, a basic technical knowledge of the device or application is paramount. A web developer could have a perfectly made site, but the JAWS user may not know enough about the screen reader functions, or simply have no basic understanding on how to surf the internet. I’m a big proponent of technical training for the blind and visually impaired. We have additional challenges to face, and it goes far beyond knowing how to use access programs like JAWS or Voiceover. These are tools that turn content into speech so that we know what a sighted person sees on the screen. There’s a whole other issue of screen magnification for low-vision people, and that doesn’t even touch upon issues faced by people with other disabilities.
I consider myself a good troubleshooter, probably due to my technical background, but I have benefited immensely from special technology training. There are many resources online, as well, so it may not always be necessary to go to a vision rehabilitation center to educate oneself about accessibility.
I’ve enjoyed earning extra income testing websites and taking surveys regarding accessibility. Recently, I’ve been accepted as part of the Facebook panel devoted to making the platform more usable for persons with disabilities. My role is specifically for the blind. Also, other opportunities through networking with the Carroll Center for the Blind will be helpful in future work in the field. One of the most common questions asked of participants in studies, surveys, and other accessibility-related work is what hardware and software they’re using. The PC, phone, or tablet must be reasonably up to date. Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer will not be supported by August of next year. Beyond using it after this date being a security risk, the functionality will degrade, as developers are no longer supporting it. Already, IE is becoming a dinosaur and works with fewer sites.
In January, the Chrome browser became much more accessible, along with Microsoft Edge. Mozilla Firefox has issues, but is still a good tool. I attended a Zoom meeting with a teacher of technology from the Carroll Center for the Blind on Monday. He pointed out how one size does not fit all, and that the four browsers I’ve mentioned have advantages and disadvantages, even Internet Explorer.
It’s no wonder that people using Microsoft Windows 7 and JAWS 16 are having issues. Even our “non-disabled partners” encounter glitches if their technology is not reasonably up to date. The blind and visually impaired have an added burden, especially if their screen readers or access technology is not current.
The most important part of this equation is being proactive. I started a petition on change.org last year to have the KDP website on Amazon accessible to its authors so we could order author copies of our own books. I have no direct evidence, but do feel that my petition was instrumental in making the site accessible. One must use language that is of an educational nature. Nobody likes to be confronted with angry accusations and rantings about how the developers have excluded our community. Common sense and speaking in civil terms are more likely to get results. You know the saying about flies, honey, and vinegar.
Unfortunately, we have a long way to go when it comes to this issue. The past 10 years have seen a great explosion in the field of accessibility. We have come a long way. However, we must do more than complain to our friends and post inflammatory remarks online. I understand that it’s a whole other issue in terms of financial cost in keeping our technology reasonably current. Hopefully, having this discussion in the mainstream will be beneficial.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer. Stay healthy. Best regards.
Follow me on Twitter at @speechfb
Read and post on my writer’s blog: http://blinderwriterweb.wordpress.com
Check out my coming of age science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, and its sequel, The MetSche Maelstrom, at http://www.dldbooks.com/stephentheberge/
Watch my Youtube channel. Many blindness-related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts.
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: In Tokyo, It’s the MilkMan’s Matinee; Sato Wins Second 500
by Don Wardlow
Going back to late March, when it was announced that the Indianapolis 500 would be postponed until August 23, fans around the world knew they would be in for a different experience this year. Among all the changes, a former winner returned to Victory Lane for the second time, showing the world that normality can be retained. The 2017 champion, Takuma Sato, drank the traditional milk as his fans in Japan, 13 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast, watched and cheered.
The Indy 500, like boxing and baseball, largely gets by on its past glory. The first race was run in 1911, and when racing was stopped due to World War II, large crowds packed the grandstand and the infield every Memorial Day. While the various track owners have never announced an official attendance, guesses of 200,000 were made in 1955, and as many as 400,000 may have attended the 1995 race. For the next decade, attendance suffered, but the race was back to around 300,000 fans in 2019. This time, no fans were allowed in the huge grandstand or the infield. In years past, the race started as early as 10 a.m. More recently, the green flag dropped at 1 p.m. This year, in deference to possible August heat, the world’s fastest flying start took place at 2:30 p.m., the latest scheduled start time in the history of the unlighted speedway.
Team Penske, which now owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, couldn’t have been more pleased about the weather on race day. In August in Indianapolis, it could have been desperately hot. Even with the mild temperature of 84 degrees, the track surface measured 126. Just imagine if the air temperature had been approaching 100, as it often does in August in that area. The 1953 race, run on Memorial Day, began at 10 a.m. with air temperatures of 93 degrees. The cars back then were poorly ventilated, and a race driver died from the heat that year.
The promoters made much of Marco Andretti grabbing the pole position. He’s the grandson of Mario Andretti, who won the race in 1969. Marco, however, faltered almost immediately and finished a disappointing thirteenth. Even with Marco on the pole, the betting money was on New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, who won the race in 2008. He led for 111 laps, but not the ones that mattered most. Takuma Sato, the eventual winner, was the third car in the front row at the start. He nearly won the race in 2012 when, with a large lead, he crashed into the wall at turn 1 of the final lap. He then took the race in 2017.
The controversy of the day was a harsh penalty assessed to Alexander Rossi. Running third at the time, he came out of his pits and nearly hit Sato, who had to drive brilliantly to escape a serious impact. Rossi was ordered to go to the rear of the field as a penalty for what it was believed he had done. His supporters put the blame on Sato. Rossi’s day ended early with a crash on lap 144 of the 200-lap race. Trying frantically to regain position, he lost control in turn 2 and hit the wall, causing a 10-lap caution period, the longest caution of the day.
Rossi’s accident wasn’t the last caution of the afternoon. While Dixon was chasing Sato for all he was worth, Spencer Pigot lost control coming out of turn 4 and hit the wall between the turn and the main stretch. At this point, with five laps to go, NASCAR would have called for a red flag so they could clear the track and allow for five laps of racing madness. Indy Car does not follow that procedure. Pigot’s car was destroyed. Only safety changes made through the decades at the track saved his life. He got a brief trip to Methodist Hospital but was released. While the shattered ruins of his car were being hauled off, the race ended at very low speed, with Sato the winner. Passing isn’t allowed while the race is under caution, so Pigot’s accident doomed Dixon’s hopes of a second race win.
Owing to numerous cautions, Sato’s average speed was some 157 miles an hour, nowhere near a course record for the 2.5-mile oval. The record belongs to the 2013 winner, Tony Kanaan, who blistered the course at an average speed of over 187 mph. By comparison, with Sato’s low speed, the minimum qualifying speed was 222 miles per hour over four laps. By the time of Pigot’s accident, Sato and Dixon were running laps in excess of 220 mph.
All told, racers from a dozen countries—the USA, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Sweden, Holland, and Japan—competed. Eighteen men ran the full 200 laps, a relatively low number in these days when engine failure seldom happens. The dubious title for the shortest day of racing went to James Davison, whose car gave up the ghost after just four laps.
5. WEATHER OR NOT: The Coming Dust Bowl and Climate Change, a Quasi-Natural Climate Event
by Steve Roberts
During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, there were three factors at work to bring about the heat and drought that baked the plains and Midwest. There were low sun spots, cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific, and warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic.
It’s widely known that we are entering a grand solar minimum. According to University of Iowa climatologist Dr. Elwyn Taylor, a dust bowl-like drought strikes Iowa every 87 to 91 years. Taylor says that tree ring evidence dating back 600 years shows recurrent dust bowls once every 89 years. If the future is true to historical form, then the next dust bowl should start in the year 2025.
The waters in the tropical Atlantic are running very hot due to a cycle called the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation. This is why we are seeing such high levels of hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin.
Weather forecasters are watching out for a possible La Niña in the next few months, which would result in the cooling of the tropical Pacific that was previously discussed. With these three elements in place, the stage may be set for the brand-new dust bowl era.
Though these are three natural elements that could cause a dust bowl under the right circumstances, that does not leave the human race off the hook. The process of climate change will have a big role to play in this upcoming event.
Heat Wave, Drought, and Wildfire
The heat waves of the dust bowl will be truly extreme. This is due to the fact that the dry soils of the plains and Midwest will be easily heated by the strong summer sun. When soils are dry, all of the sun’s radiant energy goes into heating the environment. Heat waves will be exacerbated by drought, and drought will exacerbate heat waves, in a feedback process.
The dry conditions of the dust bowl will set the stage for a series of truly awful wildfire seasons in the western United States. The dry vegetation of the West will burn with gusto. These fires will spread faster and burn hotter than anything we have seen in today’s climate. In the worst case, these fires could throw enough smoke into the atmosphere to darken the skies over the plains and Midwest.
The potential for dark days doesn’t end with wildfire smoke. There will be lots of dust storms, called black blizzards, that could turn day into night in the central and eastern United States. The dust bowl will result in a series of unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, and droughts.
A Surprisingly Tempestuous Time
Though the Dust Bowl of the 1930s was widely known for its heat and drought, it featured lots of floods. This upcoming dust bowl will also feature lots of floods. These floods will be even worse than those of the 1930s Dust Bowl due to climate change. What God giveth, God can also take away. Our warming atmosphere will evaporate that moisture with greater speed in a process called flash drought. The rains that we do get will have little to no redeeming value.
The last Dust Bowl of the 1930s featured lots of hurricane activity. This dust bowl will also feature lots of hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The warm Atlantic and cool Pacific are highly conducive to very active Atlantic hurricane seasons.
We could see as many as three to six major hurricanes per year during the next dust bowl. Should the dust bowl last for five years, we may be faced with the potential for 15 to 30 major hurricanes.
Though this dust bowl is not strictly due to climate change, it will be a global warming warning that we cannot afford to ignore, as many of its impacts are highly consistent with a warmer world. The dust bowl is a dress rehearsal for life in a warmer world. Think of the dust bowl as a dry run for an even drier future.
NOTE: Last month, I incorrectly wrote, “In 1933, there were 21 named storms, and in 1936, there were 16 named storms.” Hurricanes were not formally named until the 1950s. I apologize for the error.
Steven P. Roberts is the author of the nonfiction book The Whys and Whats of Weather (C 2014) and a weather-related novel called The Great Winter Hurricane (C 2015). For full details, see his book-related website: https://www.dldbooks.com/stevenproberts/
6. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
Greetings. As I write this, my Yellow Lab, Bailey, is resting in the space under my desk with his big head on my foot. He will be eight next April and is slowing down and sleeping more. He’s still as goofy as ever, and his guide work is great, but I can’t help thinking about just how much longer he’ll want the job. My first dog, Verona, retired at age seven, so I’m hoping Bailey can give me at least another year of moderate work. Since I’ve stopped working full time, traveling demands have dwindled; the coronavirus restrictions have also limited our routine. Here’s hoping more traveling opportunities present themselves in the future, or I won’t be needing a guide dog.
Routines are important when deciding whether or not to apply for a guide dog. Many handlers walk two miles or more per day or a few times per week, in addition to relying on a dog for guiding them to work, during shopping trips, visiting friends, or going to medical appointments. When I first got Verona, and later Bailey, I practiced routes to the bank, the mall, and the grocery store. We still visit the pet store to work on distractions. Bailey can find the pet food aisle no matter which store we visit. All I say is, “Find it,” and he weaves me through the store until he puts his nose next to the dog toys and treats. Funny dog.
Until next time, say hi to your fur faces.
“Making meaningful connections with others through writing.”
For everything Annie, go to www.annchiappetta.com or follow her blog: www.thought-wheel.com
For full information on Ann’s four published books, which include poetry, essays, short stories, and a memoir about all the dogs in her life, see https://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ She plans to have a novel out sometime in 2021.
7. READERS’ FORUM
We are sacrificing our country because of this very sad and unfortunate virus. I believe our president was right all along. He didn’t want to close things down, but this is left to the discretion of each state. However, it really seems like there is some kind of collusion between the governors and mayors, etc.
President Trump also said that hydroxychloroquine should be tried. I may be able to send you a video of a panel of doctors who discussed this very thing. This drug is an over-the-counter drug in Iran and Africa. The panel felt that the reason doctors were saying it could cause heart disease was that it was given in way too high a dose. You need only very little: two tablets a week, with a very low dose.
Much of the violence in this country now is organized. That can be proven. A leader of Black Lives Matter, Susan Rosenberg, is an anarchist, someone who wants to overthrow all government. She is a convicted terrorist who has sat on the board of directors of something called Thousand Currents. This is an organization that handles fundraising for Black Lives Matter. She was convicted and imprisoned for the possession of weapons and hundreds of pounds of explosives. She was convicted for the 1983 bombing of the United States Capitol Building, located in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Naval War College, and the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. This was repeated by Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show. She started out as a member of the 1960s revolutionary group called The Weather Underground. In our humble opinion, she should still be in prison, but she isn’t. There were several robberies for which she was not tried or convicted. She did spend 16 years in prison. She is not black.
This violence and mayhem is actually hurting black people very much. No decent black person would loot. I love their love for the Lord and their beautiful music that draws me so close to Him. I have always gotten along beautifully with black people. One friend of mine was like a second mother to me. My own mom was absolutely outstanding, but not a Christian at that time. So I got some wonderful guidance and counsel from someone who had such very deep love and faith in her Heavenly Father.
The Black Lives Matter movement is taking away their heritage. Aunt Jemima was a very popular brand, and nobody minded the name. It was a credit to some people who became very successful, who happened to be black. I heard Lillian Richard’s niece say that she felt it was erasing a part of history, and that their family was very proud of Aunt Jemima. Everyone loved the brand. There was a picture on the box of a black woman that portrayed warmth and love.
It seems that what people are striving for now is to have everyone be alike. No more Redskins, even though they were proud of the name. They do not want us to have identities. I used to live in Chicago, and when I lived there, people of different nationalities chose to live together in their own communities. I never thought it was because of prejudice, but rather because they had so much in common and enjoyed being together. It was nice.
So much money is being used for who knows what. To be honest, I think that this never would have happened at this time if President Trump wasn’t up for re-election. So many people hate him. He is an American through and through. He has his faults, yes. But name one president who was perfect. He is not a politician. He is a smart businessman who knew how to bring our economy back. I think we were at three percent unemployment rate during his first year of being president. He brought many jobs to the United States instead of having our products made overseas. This gave Americans work. So many presidents before him promised more jobs. That seemed to be a campaign slogan over and over again. But President Trump actually did it! His success scared the socialists and communists, who have been striving to take over our country for years. They want to do it now.
This is very serious.
Have you thought about what “the new normal” phrase is saying? That the old normal is gone.
According to online statistics and charts, during the Obama administration, unemployment went from a high of 10% to a low of 4.7%, a very large improvement over the dismal situation he inherited from George W. Bush. Under Trump, unemployment declined somewhat further, hitting a low of 3.5% in December of 2019. The unemployment rate is now just over 10%. – Leonore Dvorkin
News from DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services
by Leonore Dvorkin, Editor
Website for DLD Books: https://www.dldbooks.com/
August 24, 2020
A. As regular readers of The Consumer Vision know, David and I thoroughly edit books, format them, design the covers, and help the authors self-publish their books in print and e-book formats with Amazon KDP and Smashwords. We can also put interested authors in contact with three professional audiobook narrators (two men and one woman). The audiobooks are then sold through Audible, which is part of Amazon. Also, we are now working with IngramSpark for the production of hardcover editions of books.
So far, only a few of our clients have been interested in having their books done in audio format or as hardcovers, as those options are not cheap, especially the former. David will soon put together a short document detailing how the hardcover option works, how much it costs, etc., something that we can then forward to interested authors. In the meantime, I can tell you that with IngramSpark, there is a set-up fee of $49, that the author has to buy the ISBN, and that there is a further charge for any desired changes after the book is published. None of these charges apply when the paperback and the e-book are sold via Amazon KDP and Smashwords. The main advantage of the hardcover is that bookstores might be more interested in carrying it than they are in carrying the KDP paperback, as the bookseller gets a handsome discount from IngramSpark and can also return unsold copies.
My husband, David Dvorkin, is the author of 29 published books, mainly science fiction, horror, and nonfiction. All of his books are for sale on Amazon, with almost all of them in paperback and e-book formats. A few are in audio as well. He has recently put out five of his older books in hardcover, too. They are:
Budspy – Alternate history having to do with America and the Nazis, very well reviewed.
Business Secrets from the Stars – Satirizing mainly the worlds of politics and business.
Children of the Undead – A humorous zombie novel.
Pit Planet – Science fiction, one of my own favorites among his books.
Time for Sherlock Holmes – A Sherlock Holmes and time travel pastiche, very well reviewed.
Next to come: Central Heat, which is another of his many science fiction novels.
After that will come a novel that he’s working on now. It’s science fiction with more political satire. We’ll be advertising that as soon as it’s published.
Full details of and buying links for David’s books are on his website: http://www.dvorkin.com/
B. I am very pleased to announce that in just a few weeks, our client Susan Bourrie has sold over 35 audiobook copies of her second children’s book, which was narrated by Lillian Yves (a.k.a. Lilly Rowe) and Graydon Schlichter. That book is Meander: The Princess Who Had Ants in Her Pants (2020). Her first book was The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse (2016). Susan and other clients of ours are very happy with the narration work by Lilly, Graydon, and the third narrator whom we can recommend, Adam Barr. I detailed their work and supplied their contact information in the August 2020 issue of The Consumer Vision. Lilly and Graydon offer substantial discounts to authors who are blind, otherwise disabled, and/or low income. Those authors do not have to be clients of DLD Books. Adam can potentially offer discounts on a case-by-case basis.
Susan Bourrie’s DLD Books website, with full details of her books, is https://www.dldbooks.com/susanbourrie/
C. In the July 2020 issue of The Consumer Vision, I gave information about the outstanding first novel by a new client of ours, Mary Alice Baluck (B a l u c k), who is 93 years old and lives in a lovely retirement home in Ohio. The novel is Heaven’s Doorway. To her delight, the book is selling quite well, and she reports that she has received numerous messages of congratulations and appreciation. Many people say, “I couldn’t put it down!” One person even sent her a bouquet of roses. I am in awe of anyone who can publish a first book in their 90s, and I wish her all success. I’m now editing her second novel. Her website, with full details of Heaven’s Doorway, is https://www.dldbooks.com/marybaluck/
I just discovered this wonderful publicity piece about the book. Please have a listen if you are interested. It was good to see the video of Mary as well, as I had never seen her photo.
9. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein
Who blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
Email me at: email@example.com
A couple of days ago, I decided I needed to organize my digital life. I decided to start with my BrailleNote Apex, which is the device I use to write Tips For Vips, my poetry, short stories, and books, some of my emails, and a lot of the books I’ve read or plan to read. I’ve had this little QWERTY computer with a refreshable braille display for over 10 years. God knows I have a lot of work to do, and that’s with just this device, which only has eight gigabytes of storage space. In these modern times, that’s not a lot of space. I’m surprised at how much I’ve accumulated, and it’s not even full.
I’ve been deleting no longer needed files, making new folders for files for better organization purposes, and copying and pasting text from emails I want to save. I have received a lot of joy from this project. At first, I believed it was going to be tedious. Instead, I’ve found golden nuggets from those whom I love, and a lot of them from those whom I love but have never met. I can, through the writings of others, know how blessed I really am. This is just the beginning of my digital reorganization. This can only improve my life.
I was prompted to begin this project because my oldest daughter’s father died in July. Penny, with her husband, Jordan, and son, Alex, flew to Fairbanks, Alaska to take care of his body and his belongings, which include the hard drive to his computer.
Andrew was a minimalist, which is far from what I am. Knowing that Penny is the one I’ve assigned to take care of my business after I’m dead, I felt it would be kind of me to take care of my digital life. One of the ways I’m accomplishing this is by finally completing the books and projects I’ve had started for years. Being unable to do a lot of my household chores has motivated me to fulfill the dream of becoming a better–known author. I want more of my writing to be an encouragement to others.
While filling my days with golden nuggets from the past, I’m enjoying staying connected in the present on WhatsApp. It can be used on the computer or cell phone to call, text, send voice recordings, photos, and videos. It’s owned by Facebook. It’s much easier to use than Messenger. I love the sound quality of the cell phone calls, the fact that it’s free, and the ease with which one can use it. I taught myself. I even took a photo of myself and sent it to one of my friends. The downside is that everyone who messages you on WhatsApp knows your cell phone number. When the person does call you, the call is nice and clear, as if you were using a landline. It also tells you when your message has been read or when your voice recording has been listened to and your video was watched. WhatsApp is a great way to stay connected, especially internationally. What I’m struggling with is deleting our conversations. I don’t like having a record of everything. I’ve been able to delete some things, but I’d like to find a way to delete all previous messages.
Today, I was playing with dictation on my iPad to reply to an email. I was getting frustrated because I’d double tap and hold while speaking, as I do when I’m using WhatsApp to send a voice recording. I was complaining about this to a friend, wondering why the iPad wasn’t working. I tried again by double tapping and lifting my fingers up and double tapping with both fingers when I was done. Lo and behold, it worked. Now I can successfully dictate a reply to an email. Nice to know it was operator error and not broken technology.
I’ve noticed that COVID-19 has messed up a lot of people’s perception of time. Appointments are being easily forgotten. It’s hard for so many of us to know what day it is or, in my case, what week it is. It’s some kind of strange mind meld. I ask you to be very forgiving in this time, be kind, and let everyone know how much you appreciate them. That includes you.
If I haven’t responded to your emails, please forgive me. I’ve been thrown a learning curve with my technology. Gmail won’t let my BrailleNote Apex go on the web and read my emails, as I used to do. Now I have to read them with speech on my iPad or iPhone. I either have to dictate my response, which I just discovered how to do today, or write a separate email on my BrailleNote and make sure I send it to the correct address. I love how you can tap on more information about the sender and it tells you their email address. This is very useful.
One day, I freaked out because my speech was so fast that I couldn’t understand it, and I couldn’t slow it down. Nancy talked me through how to put your two fingers on the screen and twist them as if you’re dialing a rotary phone. First it says Characters, and then words on the second twist without lifting up your fingers, and then on the third twist it says Speaking Rate. Then you can adjust the speech to the percentage you like. I like 59 percent. It seems to be juuuuust right, as I say when I’m telling my children the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
You can now feel free to email me, and at least know I have a better handle on my email situation. May you find ways to enjoy life this fall.
10. TERRI’S TIDBITS
by Terri Winaught
Hello, Consumer Vision readers.
As I write this on Friday, August 28, 2020, there is so much I could say, but I don’t have the time, because I will be leaving work in a few minutes, and work is the only place where I have a computer. That’s why I can’t discuss having watched both the Democratic and Republican Conventions as planned. What I will do, however, is point out the significance of there being a march in Washington, D.C. today, 57 years to the day after Dr. King gave his famous and powerful “I Have a Dream” speech. With today’s climate of racial unrest, my heart goes out to Jacob Blake, an African-American shot earlier this week by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. As a result of these seven shots in the back at point-blank range, Mr. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down and in intensive care. My heartfelt compassion goes out just as much to his three children, ages two, five, and eight, in front of whom this shooting took place. Whoever wins the upcoming Presidential election will need to work hard to heal America’s pain and division.
I also want to extend compassion to those in Louisiana and Texas who lost loved ones this week as a result of Hurricane Laura. I pray that survivors are getting the relief they need.
To comment or suggest topics: firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. TWO TURNING POINTS
by Terri Winaught
The local NBC station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas is Channel 11. While watching that station’s news several weeks ago, my interest was piqued when I heard “mental health.” A female veteran who had served in Iraq was being interviewed. During the conversation, the veteran’s main points were how hard it was to adjust to civilian life and how depressed she was; her depression included the trauma of flashbacks. Because of the stigma that’s still associated with getting treatment, it took a while for the vet I’ll call Lady M. to seek help. Receiving her current combination of medication and therapy was Lady M.’s turning point.
Yet another situation in which seeking help was difficult involved a former colleague. What took her so long was the stigma she felt for so long and being an African-American female whose culture said, “We don’t get that kind of help. Be strong and just suck it up!”
Though it took some time for my friend and former colleague to seek the help her primary care physician suggested, reaching out has been such a turning point that she is now working at a career she loves, feeling good about it, and also feeling better about herself.
If you are struggling with symptoms of severe depression or anxiety—feelings that have been heightened by this ongoing pandemic–don’t hesitate to call your local United Way, NAMI chapter, or crisis line. Help is out there, and there is no shame in asking for and receiving it.
12. BECOMING DISENCHANTED WITH RELIGION
by Marcy J. Segelman
Whether you go to a mosque, temple, church, or meet with people online, the reasons for becoming disenchanted with one’s religion are almost always the same. Some people are constantly searching for a new way to practice, while many others give up on it altogether.
A close friend and I both left what we dubbed “The Ice Temple.” It seemed that many people felt that the main thrust of the leaders was to publicly announce how much certain members donated to the cause. This was very intimidating to those who wanted to help but were not as well-heeled as the others.
A friend of mine went to a church where he felt excluded after attending for some time. It was not what was said to him, but rather that a clique of individuals seemed to be in charge.
Nowadays, one can find a plethora of groups online. This also includes the old-fashioned chat line format. What is true for a physical structure, such as a temple, is even truer for the many choices online. Anybody can claim allegiance to any religion they choose. A building, Facebook page, or telephone line labeling itself as being such-and-such a religion guarantees nothing.
It’s certainly understandable that any of these forms of religious communities need a leader or small group of individuals to manage affairs and set basic ground rules. Many groups have voting and democratic principles to help guide the mission. Inevitably, human faults take over.
Jealousy, hatred, anger, and gossip always seem to find their way into the mix. What is true in physical churches is more amplified online. Not being face to face makes the temptation or weakness of falling into these habits much easier.
A very close friend of mine discovered what she thought was a wonderful online community that described itself as a Christian venue. She enjoyed the Bible studies and prayer meetings, but even more importantly, the additional social activities. They had social chats, played games, and listened to music.
By mere chance, my friend rediscovered a long-lost childhood friend from school. It seemed to be a blessing. Unfortunately, things did not go as expected. My friend’s “long-lost” friend felt, rightly or not, that she had been betrayed years earlier. As if that weren’t bad enough, this individual seemed to be in the small group, or clique, that administered the online community.
The person who ran the group, without having the courtesy to inform my friend, blocked her from participating in the group. My friend had to make a great effort in contacting the group administrator to find out what her transgression was. It seemed that according to one party, a great confidence was broken. Not only did my friend not remember this alleged breach of faith, but she was never given the opportunity to state her side of things.
It seems common nowadays to jump to judgment without taking into account the other person’s side of the story. Actually, we can find in the Bible, and many other texts, examples of people being persecuted unjustly.
I realize that nobody is perfect. That’s probably why we seek religion, as it seems to show a way of life to strive for. Many religions look at it differently. Christians, in general, speak of Christ as sinless, or the perfect being; we will never be perfect but we should aim toward this goal. Even if my friend did make a horrible mistake in judgment, wronging this individual online, it would seem to me, especially after so many years, that at least a second chance should be given. That is another common cry of many Christians. We are all sinners, and Christ has already forgiven all of us by his sacrifice.
I tried to console my friend and told her that it’s very easy to preach these things in a Bible study or prayer meeting. As nobody is perfect, I told her that this person, correctly or not, is so full of anger and hate that it may never come to the point where she forgives my friend. I also told her that it wasn’t the religion that was the problem, but the weakness of mortals in practicing it that drove people away.
These lessons are the hardest things for us to learn. I enjoy the teachings of my rabbi in the synagogue. The readings are inspiring and uplifting. I think that since we are imperfect, even on the day we die, we will not have mastered the teachings.
So, now that we are in the seasons of Passover and Easter, we should remember some of the simple lessons. Let us grow in fellowship and settle our differences. These words are spoken every season. The more we find we are divided, the more we find these words comforting.
13. A SALVATION ARMY DUMPSTER ESCAPADE
Poem by Steve Brown
Suddenly, from above,
The pirate horde whooshes down
The cacophonous chorus
A kao-kaa, kao-kaa sound
Garbed in motley grays and white
All about me
Their savage flight
Landing quickly—with great dispatch
Our hungry birds take there a snack.
Like flying monkeys in Dorothy’s Oz
A threat manifested
Because of over-abundance caused.
14. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the August Consumer Vision. The new team which will be joining the National Hockey League in 2021 is the Seattle Kraken. Congratulations to the following winner:
Nancy Hays of Waterbury, Connecticut
And now, here is your trivia question for the September Consumer Vision. In the novel Great Expectations, which character was the narrator? If you know the answer, please email me, Bob Branco, at email@example.com or call 508-994-4972.