Archive for March, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Pasta Primavera with Smokey Ham

Accompany this dish with a salad of baby lettuces and sliced sweet onion- such as Vidalia or Maui- and some seeded bread sticks. End with chocolate frozen yogurt drizzled with coffee liqueur or chocolate sauce.

Yield: Serves 2; can be doubled

Ingredients

6 ounces bow-tie pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)
12 thin asparagus spears, stems trimmed, stalks thinly sliced into rounds, tips left whole
1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 ounces smoked ham, diced
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard

Preparation

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 3 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 3 minutes. Add bell pepper. Boil until pasta and asparagus are just tender but still firm to bite and bell pepper strips are slightly softened, about 30 seconds longer. Drain well.

Meanwhile, stir ham in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add cream, chicken broth and mustard and boil sauce 2 minutes, stirring up and browned bits.

Add pasta mixture to skillet. Toss until sauce coats pasta mixture, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. 

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/printerfriendly/Pasta-Primavera-with-Smoky-Ham-5829#ixzz0iuoSpXUS

Visually Impaired Photographers Waiting for iPad

The iPad is Apple’s newest device that slated to change the way many people use computers in their everyday lives.  It is already supposed to be a big hit in the blind community because, like the iPhone, it has accessibility options built in right out of the box.  While most would expect a device only controllable by a touch screen to be entirely useless to the visually impaired, Apple has routinely impressed everyone with how easy they have made it for anyone to use their products.  With an audio read-back of screen elements as your finger glides over them, the iPad will serve as a great computing option for the visually impaired with its ease of use and little necessary training.

What visually impaired photographers are waiting for is an announcement that the next generation of the iPad will include a camera.  Aside from the fact that it would enable people to use video chat services like Skype on the go, it would also give the photographers the largest LCD screen currently attached to a camera.  Instead of straining, sometimes without avail, to see the picture on the small screens that most cameras offer, the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen would allow them to take a picture and be able to review it with much greater ease.  It will eliminate the vast amount of guesswork that visually impaired photographers currently have to deal with.  Also, with the enormous amount of photography applications that will surely be made available, they could edit the photo right then and there and upload it onto the internet if they wished.

With so much new technology being born into the world at such a fast rate, developers need to find a way to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.  Apple has been able to accomplish this due to their streamlined designs and user-friendly interface, but also because they have taken into account that visually impaired people deserve to have the same products as everyone else and that they shouldn’t be forced to purchase more software to make the device usable.

To read the original article and browse a blog devoted to blind photography, please go to http://blog.blindphotographers.org/an-ipad-camera/

Reader’s Forum

Hello,
I was disturbed by some of the thoughts expressed in the article devoted to traveling in this week’s Ziegler. First of all, in my opinion, to just start walking in a large and  busy airport with no idea where you’re going, makes a blind  person look, at best foolish, and at worst incompetent. Is that  the perception we want the public to have? Secondly, I feel it’s very dangerous in this day and age, to accept help from just anyone. That person may be sincerely interested in taking you to the proper gate, but they may also be interested in taking you to an out of the way spot to harm or rob you. I’m not the paranoid type, but I think we, as blind people, have to be careful to think things through before we take every
offer at face value.
Sincerely,
Allison Fallin

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Hi. In response to the interesting and informative article on travel by Romeo Edmead, I thought the following might be of interest. I have been totally blind all my life and as a kid born and raised in London, my parents took me on public transportation. Dad would teach me the underground train and bus routes, often questioning me, and this gave me a good grounding in transportation which was of great benefit. At age ten, with a short white cane, I would go to the corner shop to get Dad’s Saturday evening paper. By the age of fifteen, I travelled to and from school using three busses every Friday and returning on a Monday morning. At age eighteen, I made my first solo overseas journey to Yugoslavia and I most certainly got the travel bug. I will always take help gratefully but if I can find my way that is ok. I have only been refused travel once and that was when sea France would not let me travel on there ferry without a guide, even though I had stated I was totally blind when I booked. I am always open about being blind. One thing I would like to know is do you have announcements on your subway system in New York.  Also, just a useful tip: colored sticky tape wrapped around the handle of your checked in luggage is helpful when some one is helping to retrieve it from the carrousel. Yours, an avid Ziegler reader, Franek Kozorowski in Hartlepool UK.

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I would like to ask other blind individuals whether an innate and pervasive fear, almost phobia, of touch is normal or common among blind and visually impaired individuals.  I personally am scared enough of people touching me for any reason at all that I back off if they even get close, and if they actually touch me I am liable to jump two feet into the air and/or get extremely defensive.  I never know what I will do when touched, but it’s never pretty.  I am scared enough of touch to avoid getting any closer to strangers than I have to, and am wondering if this is a natural result of being blind or whether some other factors are at work.  Does anyone else have such a phobia or extreme fear, and if so how does it affect you?  If you don’t fear being touched, why not?  Either way, how do you deal with people who touch and situations where you may be touched without your permission?

-Christian

New Bill to Protect Guide Dogs

A new bill currently passing through the Vermont legislature has been created to protect guide dogs and their owners from attacks by other unleashed dogs.  The penalty for the owners of these unrestrained pets will be up to one year in prison.

Carolyn Clapper, with the help of the Consumer Advocacy Council of the Vermont Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, fought hard to make sure that this bill was passed.  Two years ago, Carolyn was walking her guide dog, Aladdin,  and an unleashed aggressive dog attacked Aladdin out of no where.  The dogs obviously fought and Aladdin tried very hard to protect himself and Carolyn.  Even after having conversations with the dog’s owner, Carolyn and Aladdin were continually attacked by the same dog.  “I don’t believe we as guide dog owners are asking for very much but a quality of life where we don’t have to stay confined to our houses,” she said.

Another person, named Greenberg, also experienced a similar story.  He was walking with his guide dog when another dog attacked and bit his dog’s ear, resulting in multiple stitches and a $250 veterinary bill.  Since no laws existed for this type of situation, he was unable to receive compensation from the owner of the attacking dog. 

Greenberg isn’t looking to punish people outright for contact with his dog.  He realizes that people are going to pet the dog, despite the fact that he doesn’t like it.  It’s something he can handle because it’s largely innocent.  His main concern is when other people let their aggressive dogs loose and they attack the guide dogs. 

The bill would punish the owners of the attacking dog with up to a year in prison if they’ve been warned by the guide dog owner twice.  The bill also includes civil fines for first time offenders.

Legislation like this is important.  Attacks can affect the guide dog seriously, sometimes to the point where it can no longer function in its role anymore.  With guide dog training costing as much as $40,000 for one dog, it’s a serious shame that all of that training to enrich the life of a visually impaired person can ruined because the dog is so fearful of an impending attack.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.timesargus.com/article/20100319/NEWS02/3190328/1003/NEWS02

Sight by Tongue

A British soldier who was blinded by an exploding RPG in Iraq has now been given the ability to “see” with a device that sends vibrations to his tongue.  He can read words, decipher shapes, and walk entirely unaided. 

The device includes a small camera attached to a pair of sunglasses that’s connected to a length of wire with a plastic lollipop on the end that the user puts in their mouth.  It works by converting images into a series of electrical impulses that stimulate the tongue.  The changing strengths and patterns of the stimulation allow him to create a picture of his surroundings and navigate around objects.

He says that the impulses feel like “licking a 9-volt battery or like popping candy,” but that they allow him to build up an image accurately enough to read words and visualize objects in the space in front of him.  He says that even though the device is still in the prototype phase, it has changed his life immensely.  He can now reach out and pick up objects easily without having to fumble around trying to find them. 

Currently, the device sends information to 400 points on the tongue.  But the developers are hoping to create a much more advanced version that sends impulses to 4,000 points on the tongue, enabling the user to interpret the information faster and with greater clarity.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/mar/15/blind-soldier-tongue-sight

A Hit and Miss Affair

As some of you may know, the Paralympics are going on in Vancouver right now and a man who has been mentioned here before is in the news again.  Brian McKeever, the blind cross-country skier, is now being asked questions about his upcoming event, the 12.5 kilometer biathlon. “Blind Biathlon is kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?” said McKeever when asked.  He reportedly laughed the first time he was asked to consider competing in the event that requires a lot of cross-country skiing, but also a steady aim as they shoot rifles at targets as well.

While this may not seem possible for a blind person to accomplish, equipment has been developed to aid blind shooters.  When they arrive at their shooting station, they put on a headset that’s connected to a computer system.  Their rifle is equipped with an infrared sight.  As the infrared beam gets closer to the target, they hear a beeping noise in their headphones that increases in both frequency and pitch as their aim nears the center of the target.  If they’re aiming too far right, the beeping will come through their left headphone, instructing them to adjust in that direction.  McKeever says that regular hand eye coordination is a must for rifle shooting.  But being blind, he must rely on ear hand coordination, something that people just aren’t used to doing.

With plenty of practice and his ability to make up any loss of time or points with his incredible skiing prowess, McKeever should do well in the event.  He’s already won a gold medal for Canada in the 20 kilometer cross-country skiing race.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.teamusa.org/news/2010/03/17/athletes-find-humor-in-visually-impaired-biathlon/34674

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Journeys with Whitlee

It was a nice late summer afternoon and I decided to go to the mall for the first time by myself.  I got Whitlee all ready with her harness and we proceeded on our journey.  The mall is located slightly less than two miles from my home and it is a good walk for Whitlee, filled with lots of noisy traffic, several street crossings and curb stops.

During this first walk, I was both excited and nervous.  Sometimes I would wonder what people would think when they saw me with my dog in public, but I also thought about how great it was to be walking to the mall by myself and this led to more excitement than nervousness.

When we arrived, we sat on a bench near the entrance to the mall and I decided to give Whitlee a short rest before we continued our journey inside.  Once we started walking again, a few things became quickly apparent.  Since I had never walked alone in public, I was going to need to figure out where my favorite stores were located.  Some were easy because their locations were near something else that was very noticeable to me.  For example, the record store is located at the bottom of the escalator on the right side of the hallway.  The pet store is located three stores away from the record store on the right.  There is no way that I could miss the pet store because Whitlee begins pulling me towards it every time we pass it.  Filenes is located near the entrance and Sears is located at the other end of the hall.

The mall offered Whitlee a bunch of items to work out.  They have stairs, escalators, elevators and lots of people.  Many people probably don’t know, but a guide dog’s job is to get you around people so that they can see where they are traveling.  Sometimes this means that they go right up to a person’s behind and attempt to push their way through a crowd.  This can get embarrassing.

I quickly noticed that everyone was noticing my dog and I.  I could hear all sorts of comments from the shoppers as they passed us.  Some would say, “Oh my God, look at the beautiful dog!” and from the children I heard, “mommy, doggie, doggie,” and then I would hear the child’s mother saying, “That is a working dog and we don’t touch that doggie.”

The first thing I did when we got moving was to find the place to get a haircut.  I knew there were two options, but I also knew that I only liked the one located on the second floor.  Since it was located in the middle of a row of stores, I decided to use my nose as another means to find the place.  After I located it, I had Whitlee turn around and go back to the entrance and we discovered that it was right near the pizza restaurant.  I decided I was going to get myself a haircut and asked Whitlee to “find inside.”  We walked into the place and were greeted by a nice woman who quickly took my name and escorted Whitlee and I to a chair.  I put Whitlee down next to me and had my hair cut.  Whitlee was calm during the cut and everyone admired her good behavior.  Once the haircut was over, I paid the bill and we visited the pet store.

Another time, things didn’t go as well.  I had taken Whitlee to the mall one evening with my family.  We had completed a long afternoon of training and Whitlee was tired and I was hungry, so we decided to go to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s.  After dinner, my niece and mother decided to go shopping for some new school clothes while my father and uncle decided to walk around the mall on their own.  I took Whitlee and went on a journey as well.  Since it was a Friday evening, the mall was very crowded and Whitlee was doing her best to keep us ahead of the crowds.  I decided to take her into several stores to keep us in a quieter environment.  As we walked, I noticed Whitlee taking me to the doors which led outside, but I would turn us around and go away from them.  We then took a walk into J.C. Penny and again Whitlee took me to the door leading outside and I had to turn her around away from it.  As we got near the escalator, Whitlee suddenly stopped moving and ignored my verbal command of, “Whitlee, Forward.”  After a few moments, she started walking again.  I didn’t think much of this stubborn behavior except that she was perhaps distracted for a moment or two.  As we left the store, we met my father and we began to search the mall for my niece and mother.  Suddenly, a security guard approached me and said, “We have a problem with your dog.”  “What is the problem?” I asked.  He replied, “This dog just relieved itself in J.C. Penny.”  When I realized what had happened, I could feel my face get red and I replied, “Oh I am very sorry, I will go clean it up.  She is my first guide dog and I didn’t realize that she needed to go outside.”  The guard said, “Well, that’s ok, we’ve already cleaned it, but don’t let it happen again.”  From that day forward, I have always remembered to let Whitlee relieve herself before we go anywhere.

It is difficult to explain the feelings I had during those first visits to the mall.  I felt truly happy, like a sixteen year old when he gets his driver’s license.  The independence was immediate and I didn’t realize that I had this independence until I experienced it for myself.  Sometimes it is something that I wonder why I waited so long to experience, but then I realize that life is not about regretting our past decisions, but learning from them and applying them to new experiences.

Feature Writer John Christie – Introduction

Hello, my name is John Christie and I’m going to be one of the feature writers of this excellent magazine. First and foremost let me tell you about myself.

I was born premature and was given too much oxygen which ruined the retina of my eyes and caused me to go totally blind. In addition, I also have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy in my right leg.

In spite of these obstacles, I went to Bunker Hill Community College and majored in Human Services and then went to Suffolk University in Boston and majored in Journalism and Public Relations. After College, I did two internships and then acted as a feature writer for The Quincy Patriot Ledger and the Woburn Advocate, as well as the South Shore Hospital Employment Newsletter.

As far as this magazine is concerned, I would like to write articles about blind people who are doing remarkable things such as climbing mountains, are holding down jobs that many sighted people thought they couldn’t hold down and so forth. In addition, I would like to write about news stories that the media may cover only a little or not at all.

I hope to cover these topics on a weekly basis. In addition, I would like to cover any special events that have taken place that would be of interest to Ziegler readers.

All in all, I hope my contributions will be uplifting and encourage everyone to strive to meet their goals and go beyond people’s expectations.

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Green High-rise

On July 1, 2010, Elephant and Castle London hope to make world history by becoming the first building in operation to have wind turbines built in to its fabric. The developers of the new skyscraper, called the Strata towers, hope that the project will re-energize the Elephant and castle area. The development’s 408 apartments will not use air-conditioning, but a natural ventilation system will be in place. Furthermore, the wind turbines are also predicted to generate 8% of the building’s electricity.  Although the utilization of wind turbines would be a first if everything goes according to plan, the concept is not original. Paris and China also have future sights set on wind powered energy, and the United States and Dubai have already experienced some failed attempts.

Despite that, Justin Black refuses to be discouraged.  Black, the director of development said, “The brief we gave to Hamilton’s Architects was we wanted a statement, we wanted to create benchmarks for sustainability and urban living. We wanted something bold, we wanted remarkable.”

If necessary, Mr. Black does not have to look too far for support. Paul King, chief executive of UK Green Building Council, relishes the prospect of being a trend setter. He said, I doubt whether wind power will become a common feature in high-rise inner-city projects – but without this type of bold innovation, how would we ever know? Let’s see how it works and learn from the real performance data that is gathered.”

To read the original article, please go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/14/razor-tower-wind-turbines

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Cryotherapy as Possible Breast Cancer Cure

According to a scientific study conducted on 13 breast cancer survivors, scientists have concluded that the disease can be killed off by freezing the tumors with streams of super-cold gas. The study has also shown that once the cancer is gone, it still does not return after 5 years. The procedure, called cryotherapy, means the patient does not need invasive surgery and experiences minimal discomfort.  It is performed with the use of fine needles to inject the gas around the tumors.

Although cryotherapy is relatively new to the breast cancer scene, it certainly is not a novelty in the medical field. In fact, it is used to treat various skin conditions such as warts, moles and skin cancers. It has also been shown to work on other cancers, including cancer of the lung, liver and cervix.

The leader of the study, Dr. Peter Littrup, a Detroit based interventional radiologist, is very enthusiastic about the potential for cryotherapy. He said, “When used for local control and – or – potential cure of breast cancer, it provided safe and effective breast conservation.” Dr. Littrup knows that further research is necessary, but he believes that cryotherapy could be a viable option for treatment some day.

Unlike Dr. Littrup, others in the medical profession are not as convinced about cryotherapy. Dr Caitlin Palframan, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said, “We are a long way away from knowing whether cryotherapy has potential as a treatment option,” and she added that surgical procedures continue to advance. Finally, despite the fact that cryotherapy is minimally invasive it does have side-effects and these can include damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/163367/Ice-cold-gas-kills-breast-cancer