Archive for March, 2013

Letter from the Editor – Week of March 25, 2013

Hello everyone,

I’d say “Happy Spring,” but we might get snow here today, and I know some areas as far south as Alabama are getting some winter weather as well. I suppose this is just March’s way of going out like a lion, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

But poor weather or not, we still have some holidays to celebrate. Passover begins tonight and goes until next Tuesday, so for those of you who celebrate, I hope you’re joined at Seder with family and friends.

Easter is also this coming weekend, so for those who celebrate, I hope that you are able to spend it with family and friends as well. If you know that kids will be around, be sure to get creative when hiding those eggs.

I would also like to remind all of you that next month is Poetry Month and I will be releasing a special poetry edition at the end of April with submissions from our readers. If you would like to submit a poem, please send one to me at The submissions I’ve read so far have been quite good.

That should cover everything for now. I hope you all have a great week.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

Ross Hammond, Editor

Recipe of the Week – Spinach and Shrimp Salad with Citrus Dressing

Submitted by Dave Hutchins
Yield: 4 servings


12 ounces large shrimp
8 cups baby spinach leaves (or flat-leaf spinach), stems removed, rinsed and dried
2 firm nectarines, halved and cut into thin slices
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and halved
4 very thin slices red onion
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced


Place shrimp in a large saucepan filled with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
When shrimp have turned pink and curled, drain and peel them. Remove their veins. Halve each shrimp lengthwise and set aside.

Arrange a quarter of the spinach in a bed on each of 4 dinner plates (If using flat-leaf spinach, first tear it into bite-size pieces).

Arrange 4 nectarine slices on each bed of spinach.

Cut pepper halves into strips. Cut strips into thirds.

Arrange one-fourth on top of nectarine slices.

Arrange one-fourth of the shrimp over the peppers.

Separate onions into rings and arrange over shrimp.

For the dressing, whisk orange and lime juices in a small bowl with turmeric and oregano.

Whisk in oil.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon 2 tablespoons dressing over each salad. Sprinkle oregano on top and serve.

Salad can be assembled and dressing made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Dress and garnish just before serving.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 160; Protein: 16 g; Sodium: 184 mg; Carbohydrates: 17 g; Fat: 3 g (1g Sat.); Fiber: 4g;
Exchanges: 3 Vegetable, 1/2 Fruit, 2-1/2 Low-fat Meat

Reader’s Forum – Week of March 18, 2013

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Please, Don’t Serve Those Cupcakes, Jean wrote:

My granddaughter can’t even have home-made cupcake in her school. They have to be ordered through the cafeteria so they are made according to health codes in the state. Things are definitely no longer “Leave it to Beaver.”

Jean Marcley
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder’s Series on the Ingalls Sisters, David wrote:

I enjoyed the article this week about Mary Ingalls. That school sounds very nice. I’m glad Mary had that opportunity. I wish she had become a teacher. I wonder why she did not. She sounds like she had a nice life. A rather genteel life.

I wonder what blind people did in the 1890s and early 1900s. Were there opportunities or did it depend on your family, who you knew, and if you could get on at a school for the blind?

By the time I went to a residential school, blind teachers were rare. Most teachers were sighted. What blind teachers we still had were elderly maiden ladies who taught Braille or the elementary grades. They either lived with a relative or at the school.

Speaking of teachers, I thought Steven Famiglietti’s article about his resource teacher was interesting. I mainstreamed part of each day for three years in high school. I attended several high schools–it could have been managed better. I kept being changed from one high school to another. No continuity. Blind schools can be little kingdoms ruled over by dictatorial authorities.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The History of Saint Patrick’s Day

On March 17th, many countries across the globe celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

According to Wikipedia, St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain early in the 4th century into a wealthy Romano-British family. He had many religious influences in his life. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the early Christian church. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and held as a prisoner. Upon his release, he returned to Britain and studied to become a priest, converting the Irish to Christianity. He would commonly use the shamrock, a green three-leaf plant, as a teaching tool to demonstrate the Trinity. This is where the tradition of wearing green and the shamrock symbol originate. Patrick was a missionary for thirty years, and died on March 17, 461.

The Irish began celebrating their patron Saint Patrick’s in the 9th century, making it a Holy day by the 16th century. The celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day continually spread across the globe and by the 20th century, was recognized with parades, masses, music, and parties in honor of this famous Saint.

Parades are held everywhere, with some of the biggest ones here in the U.S. New York City boasts the largest parade in the world, with the oldest civilian parades. Holyoke, Massachusetts, a college town, claims the title of second largest parades in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, it is always held on the Sunday following Saint Patrick’s Day. Boston started celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in the late 18th century. Evacuation Day, a legal holiday, is also on this day in Boston and throughout Suffolk County. Seattle has the oldest parade in the Northwest, complete with Soda Bread baking contests. Savanna, Georgia had one of the oldest Irish immigrant populations in the Southeast and has celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day since 1824.

In Canada, Montreal has a shamrock on the bottom of their flag. Manitoba celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day for three days in Newfoundland and in Labrador it is a provincial holiday. Ireland actually has a quieter celebration of this day, avoiding the parties and drinking done in other countries.

Another interesting fact is that if Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, Lenten restrictions against eating meat are lifted for anyone who usually abstains from meat on Fridays during Lent.

Common traditional foods are corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread. When looking up recipes at’sday, I found some intriguing dishes, like Irish Brown Bread, Champ–a delicious potato dish–and beef and Guinness pie.

For me and many others in the Midwest and Northeast Saint Patrick’s Day also reminds us that Spring is only a few days away. The weather often cooperates, but there are many stories of parades ruined by rain and even a late snow storm.

If you wish to know more about Saint Patrick or the holiday celebrations around the world, go to or They have a wealth of information.

I wish all Ziegler readers a belated Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – My Times with Ms. Waterman: Part Two

Ms. Waterman also worked closely with my mother. Many times, they would speak on the phone discussing class work or situations that arose during the school day. My mother knew that if something happened where we needed Ms. Waterman’s assistance, she could call her any time and she would help us. Many of these discussions focused on the goals that Ms. Waterman, my family, and the school would set for me each year. Some of the goals were directly related to my education and others were related to social aspects of school.

One year, the goal was to have me finish my assignments on time. I had a habit of talking with Ms. Waterman when she came to work with me. I would talk so much that we would run out of time before the work was complete. So, she would ask me to concentrate on getting the work done before I told stories. Sometimes, as a reward for finishing work early, she would bring a game for us to play together. The games she found were always both educational and fun.

In another year, the goal for me was to become more socially involved with other students in the class. So, Ms. Waterman decided to have the classroom teacher assign a buddy to assist me with some of the class assignments. This worked out well because it helped me to make some new friends at school.

When I got to high school, Ms. Waterman taught me how to work with a checking account and she taught me how to do banking. We also worked on preparing for college, taking the PSAT and SAT tests, as well as more independent living skills. Each year, before Christmas, Ms. Waterman would set some time aside after school to bring me shopping so that I could buy things for my family. My mother would give me money and we would work on a budget together so that there was enough money to buy a gift for each member of my family. Creating a budget for a real-life scenario tied in nicely to our discussions on personal finance and banking

Since my family and I had known Ms Waterman for so many years, we all became friends. She wasn’t just a teacher of the visually impaired from the state, she genuinely cared about me and all of the students on her case load. Many times, she fought for me and made sure that my best interests were known to the school. One of the best things she ever did for me was to assign a teacher to me for typing lessons. The teacher came to see me twice a week for two hours. Now that I’m teaching others how to use accessible technology, typing skills are something that have become a huge part of my life.

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Many Ways to Learn and Teach

As an instructor, I’m constantly trying to think of effective methods for retention of our subject matter. In doing so, it causes me to examine my own methods of learning. I would classify myself as an audio-based learner for some material and an exploratory learner for others. I will only occasionally open a manual or readme file if I need to learn a specific function. There’s also a great deal of Googling going on these days. In fact, my new slogan is: Go to Google! I should probably copyright that.

In my 18-year career as an Assistive Technology Instructor, I’ve seen the entire spectrum of learning styles. My team and I have worked with students who take notes on their own and catch on quickly and require very little assistance. We’ve also experienced students who, no matter how you phrase it or provide notes in an accessible format, still require intense practice. It is the reason we ask if potential students have access to a computer. If they don’t, we strongly recommend they take advantage of our practice lab.

Learning always requires an open and flexible mind. The computer, as anything else, has its quirks and it’s going to do things that you don’t expect. Having used a computer steadily since 1988, trust me, I’ve experienced some truly bizarre behavior. Had I given up, I wouldn’t have my challenging, yet rewarding, position.

I just completed reading “Never Going Back” by Al Roker, the famous Weatherman on the NBC network. He admitted to complaining vociferously throughout his daily workouts. This reminds me of a former student who exhibited the same behavior. You’d have thought I was killing her with each keystroke. I discovered, though, that confronting her in a humorous manner caused her to calm down and she was, thankfully, able to learn some basic functions.

Someone should compose a song called “Ode to the Tab key” as we PC users press that key repeatedly in our computing lives. This was exactly how I learned to use an FTP (file transfer protocol) client this weekend. Asking for help from the person who recommended the program might have taken hours, since he lives in the United Kingdom. The answer found through Google was marginally useful, in that it offered the glimmer of an idea. Knowing that many applications are Tab friendly, I did just that. I also pressed the key some call the Application key or the Context key. This offered two important options and before I knew it, my files were uploaded and I was sporting a satisfied grin.

If you need or want to learn a new subject, be patient with yourself, take notes, and persevere. Perhaps I should revisit my Spanish lessons.

How do you help yourself or others learn a new subject?

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Questions About Health Care

What can we expect with the Affordable Care Act?

It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds, and I’ve been searching for a clear and user friendly explanation of it for months now–and I must say I am very disappointed. I’ve found plenty of jargon-rich interpretations suited more for the insurance providers and hardly any clear and easily understood reading for the regular folks like you and me. I’ve read tons of pages on government websites and am still scratching my noodle. All I can do for you all is present the links to some of these websites and say that if you are curious, have time to listen, and want to hunt for answers, I wish you luck in your endeavor.

I began this quest because on January 16th, 2013 my father died. He was 80 and suffered with two major illnesses–Alzheimer’s disease and Emphysema. He went gently, being cared for by in-home hospice nursing care and his wife and family. It was important to protect him so he could retain his dignity, and because hospice was available, Dad was kept safe and comfortable.

After witnessing the positive aspects of in-home hospice and listening to the recent skepticism voiced by many over the Affordable Care Act, it has triggered a need to know more. I think that a major change from what the U.S. is accustomed and what we are expected to accept about the national health care policies taking place will polarize us and possibly cause more harm than good.

What I mean is, I’m concerned that the option for individuals like my Dad to receive in-home care for geriatric and chronic, end-of-life illnesses like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other diseases is still very unclear. Will my husband or I be denied this option in the future when we are faced with a health care decision like that, or will we be forced into a nursing home? I feel that we need to educate ourselves on what’s in that overstuffed tomb of health care reforms. Our system isn’t the best or the worst, but it’s what we have to work with and we should know a little more about it.

Some questions that have been going through my mind are: What can I expect, say, in two years, if taking care of an aging parent with a life-ending chronic illness? Will I be forced to relegate them to a nursing facility and not be given the choice to provide them in-home hospice care?

The Supreme Court has ruled President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act constitutional and major provisions of the Act are set to start shortly.

After going to the Department of Labor’s FAQ site, I read this paragraph:

“The Departments are working together with employers, issuers, States, providers and other stakeholders to help them come into compliance with the new law and are working with families and individuals to help them understand the new law and benefit from it, as intended. Compliance assistance is a high priority for the Departments. Our approach to implementation is and will continue to be marked by an emphasis on assisting (rather than imposing penalties on) plans, issuers and others that are working diligently and in good faith to understand and come into compliance with the new law. This approach includes, where appropriate, transition provisions, grace periods, safe harbors, and other policies to ensure that the new provisions take effect smoothly, minimizing any disruption to existing plans and practices.”

I have to admit, I fear the worst because I had to read and re-read the text that followed that statement many times over.

Below is the link to the DOL site so you can hopefully follow the FAQs that, in my opinion, just make it harder to understand the new provisions. I still can’t find the answer to in-home hospice care, but will continue hunting for it and report to my findings in another article. I’m sure that in my continued quest for answers, I will come up with answers to other questions as well, and will hopefully start to build my own guide which I will share with all of you.

The Department of Labor FAQs site for the Affordable Care Act implementation can be found here:

If anyone has a more user-friendly explanation of the Affordable Care Act and its provisions, definitions, etc., please let us know, as we all need to find out more about it.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – New Ways to Access Descriptive Audio

Every time I watch a movie or TV show with audio description, it’s a more enjoyable experience. More movies today have descriptive audio tracks than ever before, and now thanks to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, the amount of television that is described is also growing. To help people find out what shows are described in their area, the American Foundation for the Blind has just created a new tool that allows you to look up listings by your zip code.

The new tool, called Described TV Listings is very easy to use. You start by visiting the website:

Next, enter your zip code. This will bring up the cable and satellite providers in your area. Choose the provider you use, the date that you want to look up listings on, and the time of day you’re interested in. This search will bring up the listings of shows that have a descriptive audio track.

Getting access to the descriptive audio track can be challenging, so AFB also created a step by step guide to help set up your television. The guide can be found by following this link:

How we access descriptive audio for movies is also changing. A new company called Solo DX has already created numerous descriptive audio tracks that you can buy, and they want to do more. Their service is a little different from how you get descriptive audio, though. You start by buying the track from Solo DX and then when you watch the film, you sync the film and the audio track that you’re listening to. This process is a little more complex, but it allows the blind movie watcher to listen to the descriptive audio without affecting the sighted movie watchers around them. To learn more about their service visit their website:

Solo DX is currently raising money so that they can describe more television and films. To visit their funding campaign, visit this link:

Hopefully Solo DX can receive all of the funding they need to create more descriptive audio for movies as they are released and maybe other companies will join in to create some audio as well. Happy watching!

Feature Writer John Christie – Justice or Leniency?

In May of 2012, Charles E. Hamilton of Rumford, Maine stole various items from his neighbor which were valued at $11,000. What transpired from this act is not what you may expect, though.

When Mr. Hamilton appeared in court for judgment and sentencing, the presiding judge, Justice Robert W. Clifford, only issued Hamilton a two-year deferred disposition instead of a felony burglary charge. A deferred disposition means that he must pay $50 a month to the district attorney’s office until he reaches the total maximum restitution of $1,200–a fraction of the total value of stolen goods. He also has to refrain from committing another crime during this time of repayment. If he fails to meet these conditions, he will have to spend five years in jail and pay a $5,000 fine. However, if he abides to the judge’s orders, he will be able to plead guilty to Class D Misdemeanor Theft and all other charges will be dropped. For Mr. Hamilton, this is a very good deal.

So why such a light sentence? Well, some feel that it is because Mr. Hamilton is legally blind and is on disability. However, according to others, the judge was so lenient was because the victim knew Hamilton and was letting him live in her house. According to the Prosecutor, Joseph O’Connor, there were a bunch of issues in regard to proof on this case because she had allowed Hamilton to take some things, so there was some trouble determining what he was and was not allowed to use or take. That is the merit that the verdict was based upon, according to them, and not his disability.

The National Federation of the Blind of Maine was outraged in regards to the decision made by the judge about this case. They feel that the book should have been thrown at Hamilton and he should have been punished to the fullest extent of the law. Patricia Estes, Mark Tardif, as well as former member of the NFB Steve Hoad, feel that blindness did play a role in the courts’s decition. In an email to the Sun Journal following an NFB Maine meeting, Estes said that justice wasn’t served in this case because Hamilton got off easy and he got out of a felony feft with no time served and was no compensation for the victim. In a letter to the Sun Journal, Tardif said that just because he is blind, the consequences of his criminal behavior should not be lessened for him. They all agree that this decision will affect how employers of Maine will treat the blind. In essence, they want to be treated like everybody else, including criminal punishment.

To me, the judge’s decision was a good one, since it was Hamilton’s first crime and it was difficult to determine evidence, according to the prosecution. However, he should have to pay back the full amount to the victim, as $1,200 doesn’t even come close to the value of the items stolen.

How to you stand on this issue? Do you feel that such a lenient ruling was a result of his disability, or do you feel that the lack of hard evidence and prior criminal record bought him some sympathy from the court? Tell us in the Reader’s Forum.


Letter from the Editor – Week of March 18, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had a nice weekend.

As with previous years, I attempted to eat my weight in corned beef and cabbage over the past couple of days, which resulted in a simultaneous feeling of both satisfaction and misery. The food on Saint Patrick’s Day is, for me, right up there with Thanksgiving–and like Thanksgiving, I always feel like I need to be wearing pants with an elastic waist. For those of you who celebrated the holiday this weekend, I hope you exhibited a little more self control than I did. Still, though, it was totally worth it.

Moving on to the magazine, we have a great line-up of articles that I hope will spur some discussion in the Reader’s Forum. If you’d like to submit something, just send it to

That should cover everything for now. I hope you all have a great week and that the weather where you are begins to look more like Spring once the 21st arrives.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

Ross Hammond, Editor