Archive for February, 2010

Letter From The Editor

Hello everybody,

Another week gone by and more news to pass on to you all. Very soon, we’ll be incorporating a couple new feature writers who will contribute to different sections of the magazine. I won’t get into specifics, but I’m sure that all of you will enjoy what they have to offer.

Also, concerning the pen pal section, many people have been wondering why the submissions contain no descriptions of the person and only have an address instead. In the past, I had decided to post these entries in hopes that people would write anyway, but now I am going to ask that anyone who wishes to post in the pen pal section write a short description of themselves and their interests. You can either do this on our website, or by emailing me directly at

For those of you who would like to post in the special notices section, please email me at the above address with a description of what you would like submitted.

If you’re still curious about Newsline, we’re hoping that it will be available in the next week or so. We are also in the process of developing an audio format which should be implemented sometime this spring.

Concerning the Veale Award, which many of you have also been curious about, we are going to announce the winner in the first March issue.

I think that just about covers everything. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.


Ross Hammond, Editor

Earthquake Shakes Windy City Area

On February 10, an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the richter scale shook citizens out of their sleep at 4 in the morning.  The quake was centered near Virgil, Illinois, roughly 50 miles from Chicago.

Many people reported that it sounded like a train was going right past their house and furniture and lights were shaking violently.  Sarah Evans, owner of a public relations firm, woke to find nearly every inch of her 100 year old house vibrating.  Once the quake had stopped, she got out of bed and put an update on Twitter seeing if anyone would respond and corroborate her story about the uncommon earth-rattling event.  Soon after she posted on Twitter, multiple comments had come in confirming that others had been shook awake to experience the world convulsing around them.

Local emergency authorities reported that the switchboards had lit up after the event, but that no extensive damage was caused and most people had just been rustled out of sleep and were confused and afraid.

Representatives of the U.S Geological Survey commented that the quake was felt as far away as southern Wisconsin.  They also said that while they’re unsure which fault line was responsible, there are many that run all over the world that could realistically slip at any moment.

To read the original article, please go to

Interview with Blind Actor, Antoine McCracken

I had the pleasure of speaking with Antoine McCracken, a blind actor and Ziegler Magazine reader, a few days ago.  Antoine first got in touch with me via email asking to post an encouraging message to the blind community in our Special Notices section.  His message was so good, that I asked him if he would be willing to grant me a brief interview and he kindly agreed. 

Antoine lost most of his sight at age 7.  Due to glaucoma, he experienced retinal detachment which left him entirely blind in his left eye, and left him with only very minimal vision in his right eye.  Antoine currently lives in Virginia and works as an actor.  He’s originally from Baltimore and cheers for all of their sports teams.  Being originally from the Baltimore area myself, I can commiserate with him, especially when discussing the Orioles.  But I digress. 

Antoine began his acting career in 2000 when the Maryland Society for Sight received funds from the United Way of Central Maryland.  The United Way was looking for a spokesperson and Antoine was picked to represent them.  He did various photo shoots for them, with some of his pictures making it onto billboards, and newspaper and internet promotional spots for the next year.  In June of 2000, he was asked to do a commercial, as well.  He was also asked to attend a convention in Baltimore and speak to various media outlets as a representative of The United Way.  As his experience grew, his love of talking to people and acting grew as well.

In 2001, Antoine moved to Virginia and started to work as a mentor, which was a great role for him because he truly enjoyed helping people and improving the lives of others, something he says he was put on this Earth to do.  Soon after his move, he was employed by radio station WTJZ, where he received free training to learn how to work the soundboards.  Antoine learned to operate the complex equipment so quickly that the radio station decided to hire him as a DJ.  It also didn’t hurt that he had a decent speaking voice and was an interesting person.  He enjoyed his position as a radio DJ until the station was closed down in 2007. 

After his radio days had ended, Antoine set out to continue pursuing his acting career.  He auditioned for movies as well as commercials and voice-overs.  He is now featured in a music video called “Home”, which can be seen and heard at  He also has a youtube page where all of his commercials can be seen and listened to at

What really caught my attention with Antoine was his attitude.  You simply can’t keep him down, no matter what, and he wants to encourage every blind person to be the same.  He wants to see blind people gaining their independence and leading rich lives that they can be proud of.  He said, “You don’t have to stay home and not live your life. You can be whatever you want to be. Your mind isn’t disabled.  Don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t be that!”  Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to do better.  Take your challenges in stride and learn to work around them. Don’t allow them to defeat you.”  He also says to the parents of blind children, “It’s important for parents to let their blind children go out and try things, don’t be afraid to let them explore the world.”  He credits his mother for giving him these values.  She raised him and his siblings and always made sure they were taken care of, despite the challenges that met her.  Now, Antoine looks at life and its multitudinous number of challenges and says he will live it to its full potential, no matter what.

Antoine and I finished our conversation with him saying, “A lot of people think that blind people can only be piano tuners.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad job, and if you want to be a piano tuner, then go be the best piano tuner you can be.  But don’t ever let anyone pigeon hole you just because you’re blind.  You may be blind, but you’ve got a mind, and you’ve got potential.  That’s all you need to be something great.”

I had a great conversation with Antoine and I think that he has a great message to give to the blind community.  He has told me that if anyone would like to get in touch with him to talk, that’d I’m free to give out his email address.  Due to privacy concerns over the internet, I will not post his email address here, but please email me at if you’d like his contact information.

Lindsey Vonn Questionable for Olympics

After a February 2 crash during a training run in Austria that resulted in an injured shin, Lindsey Vonn’s amount of participation in the Olympics is still uncertain. While her trainers feel that she is doing much better, and she herself said that with the aid of numbing creams and pain killers that she is able to train, it’s anyone’s guess if she’ll be able to compete at her full potential during the five events she is supposed to be in.

Vonn has been extremely popular going into these winter games. Often compared to Michael Phelps, who won all eight events he competed in during the 2008 summer games, Vonn is a skiing star who is expected to win the gold in at least three of her five events, if not all of them. Vonn’s first scheduled race, the super combined, is on Sunday, February 14.

Vonn’s injury occurred during a training exercise in Austria on a track designed to mimic the difficult conditions that the athletes will encounter during the Olympics. The track was injected with water and froze, to make it harder and more slippery, traits that Vonn and other skiers and coaches have criticized due to the number of injuries that have occurred as a result of that type of track construction. As Vonn was turning left, her right leg slipped out and despite an attempt to correct it, twisted under her and she toppled over the front of her skis, smashing her skin against the front of her boot. Thankfully, the injury only affected the muscle in her shin and not the bone, but she wasn’t able to walk for 2 days after, and now the sore spot rests right where her boot comes into contact with her leg. It is the type of injury that she’ll notice every second she is on the slopes.

Vonn is slated to begin competing on Sunday, but she may have to sit the first couple of races out to let her injury heal more. Her next big events after Sunday are the downhill competition on Wednesday, followed by the Super-G three days later.

Right now, she’s got an entire country rooting for her to get better and compete, which has got to be weighing heavily when she can barely put pressure on the legs she’s trusting to get her down the mountain in one piece, and in gold medal time.

To read the original article, please go to

Announcement: New Reader’s Forum

Many of you have been requesting that the Reader’s Forum return to the pages of the Ziegler.  With the magazine’s new format, I have been thinking about how that can be done.  What I decided is that I’m going to offer up a weekly topic for discussion and let you guys run with it. 

The old site has been inactive, so any submissions to that site have gone unnoticed.  We have been trying to close the site down, but have been having difficulty with the hosting company, so I apologize if anyone has submitted anything to that site only to never see it show up.

What I propose is that I will submit a new topic for discussion at the beginning of each week.  This week I would like anyone who is interested in participating to write about a recent challenge that you encountered and how you overcame it.  Now, not every weekly topic will surround blind lifestyle, but I’m interested to hear some of your stories in hopes that many of our readers will share similar problems and can benefit from hearing about various solutions that they might not have thought of before.  In essence, you’ll be creating a compilation of tips and tricks for blind living.

You’ll have one week to submit your writing and I’ll review each one sent in.  Depending on how many I receive, I’ll choose the best ten or so to submit the following week.

For anyone interested in participating, you can either comment on this article on the website, or email me your submission at

Superbowl 44 Most Watched Event Ever

Up until Sunday, the most watched televised event in America was the finale of the popular CBS show MASH, which in 1983 brought in just shy of 106 million viewers.  However, the match up between the Saints and the Colts served as the perfect venue to best that record.  Pulling in 106.5 million viewers, Superbowl 44 knocked the popular sitcom from its number one spot which it had held for nearly 27 years.

Before the game even happened, television executives were wondering if the massive amounts of snow and power outages on the east coast would hamper the number of viewers who would be tuning in.  However, it seems that the snow kept people inside and with their eyes peeled to the screen the entire time.  Many people thought that last year’s superbowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals had the potential to break the record.  Realistically, it did, though it came up short, bringing in 98.7 million viewers.

As they say, records are always made to be broken, and this one was especially made for that.  Back in 1983, there were an estimated 83.3 million television homes, compared to the roughly 115 million that there are now.  Also, with the power of the internet and social networking fueling anticipation of large televised events, it was only a matter of time until something came along that had enough clout to bring in the amount of people needed to claim the record. 

Personally, I’m glad the Superbowl was the first to best the MASH record instead of some reality dating show.  Only time will tell how long the Saints’ victory game will keep the number one spot.  But I doubt in today’s world it will take 27 years to beat it.   

To read the original article, please go to

Michael Jackson’s Doctor Formally Charged

Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician who administered propofol, a powerful anesthetic normally reserved for major surgery, was formally charged for involuntary manslaughter on February 8. Murray pled not guilty to the charges.

Michael Jackson died in June, meaning that prosecutors required 8 months to build charges against Murray. This can be taken one of two ways. On one hand, they could’ve been involved in a very detailed investigation that left no stone unturned. On the other hand, it could mean that the prosecution has very little hard evidence to use against Murray. We’ll have to wait for the hearing to find out which is the case.

What is known, however, are the circumstances of Jackson’s death and the Murray was unmistakably connected to it. Murray admitted that he had administered the propofol shortly before Michael lost consciousness. The coroner also determined that Jackson’s death was caused by acute propofol intoxication and stated that the standards surrounding the use of propofol were clearly not met. However, Michael was also filled with other medications at the time of his death, increasing the risk of death when combined with the propofol. Murray’s defense will most likely revolve around this fact very heavily.

After receiving his charges in court, Murray was issued a $75,000 bail, which he met, and was told that his ability to administer any kind of sedatives was revoked. His passport was also taken, due to the fact that he has family living outside of the United States and was deemed a potential flight risk. The California state medical board will also seek to revoke his medical license, as well.

At this point, it seems that no matter what the outcome of the case is, Dr. Murray will no longer be practicing medicine. If he is indeed found guilty of willfully engaging in neglectful behavior that led to Michael Jackson’s death, he’ll have much more to worry about that simply giving up his stethoscope and white jacket.

To read the original article, please go to

Feature Writer Introduction

A new beginning.

By Romeo Edmead

For those of you who have only begun subscribing to our magazine this
year, I would like to welcome you to the publication. Actually, while
we are on this subject, let me inform you that I am kind of new
myself. To be specific, I was hired in 2004 and worked for
approximately five and a half years. In November of 2009, the New York City office was closed and the staff was let go.  Surprisingly, 6
weeks later, I received a call from the E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation
inquiring about whether I would be interested in returning to work. So
I guess you have figured out by now that I accepted the offer and I am
eager to make valuable contributions every week.
As many of you already know, some of my previous assignments included
travel for promotional purposes and covering events in the blind
community. Like I have stated many times before, that was one of my
favorite aspects of the job because it involved meeting many current
subscribers and introducing new ones. Under new direction I am not
sure of all that my job will entail at this moment, but I have already
been told that much of my work will be centered around empowering the
blind community with frequent articles promoting independence and
recreation. So if the future does not enable me to have personal
interaction with many of you I will always try reaching you through my
While we are discussing connecting, a common theme among subscribers
of the Ziegler Magazine over the years has been sharing. When we were
issued in braille and on cassette I know that copies were frequently
passed down to others, so please keep this tradition of unity alive.
Obviously, there will be certain technological hurdles with the new format, but when you find information to be helpful do not hesitate to spread it around your immediate circle and beyond. As someone who is totally blind I know how much we need each other, and the Matilda Ziegler Magazine will continue to be a staple in our community.

Letter From the Editor

Hello all,

Things have been very exciting and busy around here lately as we try to incorporate new items and services into the magazine.  Unfortunately, in the midst of all that has been going on, I neglected to inform you all that our office would be closed yesterday for President’s Day.  I came into work this morning to find quite a few emails from some of you who were confused or worried that a glitch occurred.  I want to assure you that everything is fine, that it was an oversight on my part and that I apologize.

I hope you all continue to enjoy the Ziegler and I hope you all like the surprise feature writer that we’re adding to our staff.  His introduction will follow.

Take care, and thanks for reading.


Ross Hammond, Editor

Final U.S. World War One Veteran Turns 109

Frank Buckles, a former Corporal in the United States Army and the final surviving U.S. veteran of World War One, celebrated his 109th birthday on February 1.

But what is perhaps the most interesting about Buckles isn’t his age, but rather his goal to encourage lawmakers to renovate the World War One memorial in Washington D.C. and give it national monument status. In December, at a spritely 108 years old, Buckles spoke in front of Congress on this matter to convince them to allocate funding to fix the current monument and to set it equally among the others that adorn the nation’s capital.

He had previously visited the monument, being pushed in his wheelchair by a military aid, and noticed that the area is overgrown, the surrounding stonework is cracked and the soldiers represented there are only from the District of Columbia. The place is in need of some serious work and deserves the recognition that other national monuments have received.

Congress hasn’t yet decided what they would like to do. They have the monument in Washington D.C. and a rival monument that was built around 1920 in Kansas City to consider. Why Congress doesn’t feel that the national monument belongs in the nation’s capital is anyone’s guess.  Only time will tell if Buckle’s goal will be realized.  At 109, time isn’t exactly on his side.  But if he’s made it this long, hopefully he’ll stay around for a little while longer.

To read the original article, please go to