Archive for July, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Lamb Chops with Blackberry-Red Wine Sauce

Here’s a recipe for a special dinner. The fruit sauce is impress-your-guests lovely but oh, so easy.

Prep Time:20 min

Start to Finish:40 min

makes:4 servings

2 teaspoons oil

1 large pear, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup fresh blackberries or Cascadian Farm® frozen organic blackberries, thawed

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 4- to 5-ounce lamb rib chops, cut 1 inch thick, or eight 3-ounce lamb loin chops, cut 1 inch thick

1. For sauce: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add pear, green onions, and cloves; cook about 3 minutes or just until pear is tender.

2. Add blackberries; reduce heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often; remove from heat. Stir in red wine vinegar. Set aside to cool.

3. In a small bowl, stir together allspice, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over chops; rub in with your fingers. Place chops on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill until desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling. Allow 12 to 14 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145°F) or 15 to 17 minutes for medium doneness (160°F).

4. Serve lamb with sauce.

Nutritional Information

1 lamb rib chop plus 1/4 cup sauce: Calories 170 (Calories from Fat 70); Total Fat 8g (Saturated Fat 2 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 40mg; Sodium 200mg; Total Carbohydrate 13g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 7g); Protein 13g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 4%; Vitamin C 20%; Calcium 4%; Iron 8% Exchanges: 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Recipe found at

Reader’s Forum

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From Marco Midon in response to the blind iPad review

First I would like to introduce myself. My name is Marco Midon, and I work for NASA as a radio frequency (RF) engineer. I recently lead the completion of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Ground station and the Solar Dynamics Observatory ground Stations. During the course of my work, I perform many tasks with technology. These include working with documents, web sites, specialized instrumentation, and spread sheets among others. If you are blind and you need someone to tell you where the icons and controls are the device is not accessible.

I have been going to CSUN and other conferences for years and Apple has always clamed they were accessible, but unfortunately it was all jus smoke and mirrors. For a device to be truly accessible it must be designed that way. Without haptic that is tactile feedback the interface will be slow and unwieldy for tasks which require any kind of complex interaction with the device. If you just want to read e-mail and a web page this type of interface might work, although it would be very clunky and inefficient at best. If someone has to manufacture a keyboard overlay the device is not accessible. Going back to Windows 95 Microsoft made a commitment to accessibility by providing APIs and beta versions of windows to third party developers. The accessibility may not be perfect but it’s quite good. It helped make it possible to enable me to help the Russian Space Agency with their Soyuz Spacecraft using it. See the following

Let’s stop pretending that apple cares about accessibility. If you just want to be cool or fit in or whatever, or you hate windows, then get an ipad, but you won’t be doing any useful work on it anytime soon.


In reading Bob Branco’s article “Myths about Blindness” in the July 19th’s Ziegler I got to thinking of some questions I’ve been asked by sighted people, especially when it comes to computers, thus I’d like to share some of them hoping to show I’m not the only one with these questions asked:

One I often hear is, “Does the computer have Braille keys or how do you work?” To which I explain how (apart from the importance of learning typing skills since childhood really makes a difference in how one uses PCs later in life) the computer has a program that converts the icons and texts areas into speech, thus being able to instead of seeing what is presented, having it spoken and two being able to use keyboard equivalents to mouse commands.

Any other questions that have been asked regarding computers to enrich this forum?



This is my response to Karen Crowder’s article about using a wheel chair in an airport. I am one of those who strenuously objects to anyone insisting that I ride in a wheel chair. Those of us who object to riding in a chair at the airport do not object to the service being offered to those who want or need it. We balk at being coerced or pressured to use the service. It should be my choice.

My bottom line, which may help to clarify this whole issue, is this: I am the customer. As a paying customer, I am offered various services by the airline. I am offered various beverages while in flight. I have the right to choose among the drinks offered, or to decline any beverage. The same principle should apply when being offered assistance in locating my gate or making my way through an airport. I am the customer. Thank you for the services. Now, I shall choose which ones I wish to use. It has, in truth, been a long time since I have received unwanted pressure to ride in a wheel chair. When a ground person at the airport guides me (I never ask to have my luggage carried) I always offer a small tip. One effective way to deal with a person who is insisting that you take a wheel

chair is to gently say, “You know, you are talking yourself right out of a tip.” That usually gets their attention.

Tim Hendel

Huntsville, Alabama


This response is geared towards Alena Robert’s articles. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her articles in the Matilda Ziegler. I went to her blog and read about the 5th grader who is now running on a track on his own and I wanted to share two issues. The first of which concerns exercise and blind people.

I am a blind 50-year-old teacher of the blind and visually impaired in Buffalo, NY. I began walking on the treadmill 11 years ago. I feel strongly that we must keep our bodies in better shape as we age. I find that most of my students do not share in this value. I wish that more of us were out there in gyms working out with our sighted peers. Just because we can’t see our bodies, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about how we appear to others!

Secondly, I highly recommend that more blind people would consider the field of teaching blind and visually impaired children as a career. The field needs us. I have met many sighted teachers of the blind who don’t think that we make good teachers. These folks don’t know the work that goes into our job though. I have spent many years brailling the content of worksheets and books that I would be using with my students. We bring life experience with us too that can’t be matched by the sighted teacher of the blind. I see many blind students who are unprepared for the world after high school due to the inability of sighted teachers to address transition skills from school to college or work skills.

Astronaut Signs from Space

The International Space Station is no stranger to a multitude of different languages and backgrounds.  However, another language has been featured once again. 

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson took some time to answer questions via live video, and she did it all in American Sign Language, also known as ASL.  In her video, she answers questions about what it’s like to live and work as she floats many miles above the surface of the Earth.  She also talks about why she became interested in sign language.

“I am truly grateful for this opportunity on behalf of the deaf community and the multitudes of students who will benefit from seeing their language spoken in space,” she said.  She also mentioned that she wants her message to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers to try their hand at the job and reach forth into the stars, as she has.

NASA is constantly looking to diversify the kinds of people that work with them.  One of our commenters in this week’s Reader’s Forum is a visually impaired NASA employee and worked as a radio frequency engineer.  By issuing a live video calling out to the deaf community and answering their questions in their language, they are opening the doors for many more people with disabilities to join the organization and further our knowledge about our world and what lies beyond it.

To read the original article, please go to

An Entirely Imperfect Crime

Jordan Sturm, an assistant for Covia Labs in San Francisco, was asked by her boss to test out a new real-time GPS tracking system for the iphone that the company was unveiling as a service for law enforcement and military personnel.  The software effectively turns the iphone into an active GPS tracking device.  The idea is that police stations can keep track of where their officers are, and the military can keep track of soldiers, supplies, etc.

As Jordan stepped outside and her boss activated the software on his laptop for the demonstration, he noticed something very odd.  It seemed, at least on his screen, anyway, that his assistant was running at an incredibly fast pace through downtown San Francisco.

It turns out that Jordan’s nickname isn’t the flash, but that her phone was snatched right from her hand by a thief riding a bicycle.  Unknown to the thief, the phone was tracking his every movement.  As he took off with her phone, she ran back inside and called the police.  Using the software, which worked perfectly, they were able to track down the thief 10 minutes later.  Had the man taken the time to look at the phone, he may have found it odd that an active map of the city, centered on his exact location, was displayed.  The man was arrested and booked for suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property. 

While the demonstration actually turned out to be quite successful, it was certainly a case of wrong phone, wrong time for the robber who had to be wondering, as he sat handcuffed in the cruiser, just how they found him so quick.

To read the original article, please go to

The Future of Surgery?

A collection of Duke University bioengineers announced recently that they have developed a robot that can locate lesions in simulated human organs, accurately navigate a device to the spot of the lesion, and take samples of the tissue all without the help of a doctor.

By using 3D ultrasound pictures, the robot, nicknamed “Biopsy Bot,” can perform its tasks autonomously.  The ultrasound pictures serve as the robot’s eyes and a sophisticated assembly of processors connected to motorized hands allow it to guide instruments into the body of its patient.  In the tests that have been performed so far, the robot has been proven to be 93 percent effective.

The developers claim that the advantage to a system like this is that all of the necessary technology already exists and that the need to start from scratch has been entirely avoided.  The systems can be easily modified, which makes the Duke scientists all the more confident that this is a viable surgical solution in the future.

So what do you think?  Would you be comfortable having your appendix removed, a relatively simple surgical procedure, if it was being done by a robot without any human interaction? 

Personally, that premise is a bit unsettling.  While many surgeons are utilizing specially-designed robotic arms for procedures like heart surgery, they are in control of their movements at all times.  An autonomous robot may not know if it has clipped a vein, or if the anesthesia has worn off and the person is coming back into consciousness.

While this program is in its very infant phases, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before this could ever be accepted by the general public.

To read the original article, please go to

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Are Blind People Good Lobbyists?

Since my days as a college student, I belonged to several commissions, task forces, coalitions and other special interest groups. Many of these groups included persons with other disabilities, as well as the blind. As I became more of an advocate for persons with disabilities over the years, I discovered that, in many areas, the blind had more privileges than persons with other disabilities at times. For example, the blind were allowed to make a little more money than paraplegics before the Government began cutting SSI checks. In Massachusetts, the blind have a State Commission which is separate from the Commission serving other disabilities. For many years in my local community, the blind were granted free bus rides while persons with other disabilities had to pay to get on the bus. While I didn’t mind the free ride, I asked a professional why blind people seemed to have more privileges than those with other disabilities. I was told that the blind were better at lobbying than anyone else with a disability. This was the opinion of an attorney in 1984, who also happened to be in a wheelchair.

In 1994, our local bus company decided to charge blind passengers for the first time, because the Americans With Disabilities Act came into focus. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows those of us with any form

of a disability to receive the same opportunities as people without disabilities. It doesn’t say that one disability has to be treated differently from another. When our local bus company considered charging blind passengers, I took issue with it, until I realized how unfair it would be for everyone to pay for a bus ride except the blind. For 16 years, I have been proud to pay my bus fare, because it’s the thing to do. However,

if the bus fares are too high, and if this is the opinion shared by all of society, then I would complain, because what’s high for the sighted is just as high for the blind. At times, the blind may complain more because most

of that population is unemployed. In that case, it may be appropriate to grant a discount like the elders get.

I have a good question to ask. If the blind are such great lobbyists, then how come the unemployment rate of the blind is just as high today as it was 30 years ago? Are we really met with that much resistance from the business community, and that’s why seventy percent of us are still out of work? If employers are still as reluctant to hire the blind as they were 30 years

ago, is this something we simply can’t help, or maybe we should lobby even better? I’d like to think we speak very well for ourselves and for our other blind peers, no matter how much resistance we get. I guess we all must hang in there and continue to believe in ourselves, and some day we will all achieve our goals.

Feature Writer John Christie – One Ball for the World to Play With

Picture this: children are kicking around a ball of trash, using it as an improvised soccer ball as they dodge barbed wire and broken glass, because every other ball they owned was damaged beyond repair.

Those images of Darfur refugees stuck with Tim Jahnigen, a Berkeley inventor. “I saw children desperate to play, living in a world where nothing makes sense and they’ve been traumatized by irrational violence. In their innocence, they were willing to play with anything,” he said.

In their jagged environment, balls often remain inflated for only a short period of time.

Jahnigen had an idea, though. He wondered if a soccer ball could be created that could last a lifetime and resist the sharp and often dangerous surroundings of the play areas the children are exposed to.

After five years of waiting, his dream became a reality with the help of musical icon, Sting. As the world was entranced by the games during the world cup, Jahnigen and his wife, Lisa Tarver, introduced the One World Futbol, a soccer ball made of closed-cell foam, the same found in Croc shoes, that can withstand any terrain.

The ball’s name is inspired by the rock group Sting and their song “One World.” The goal of the project is to distribute one million balls in the next three years to children in places ravaged by war, poverty and natural disasters.

In an effort to gain publicity for the project, Jahnigen spent the final days of the World Cup in South Africa meeting with FIFA officials and nonprofit groups.  His hope is that through greater exposure with these popular organizations, more people will find out about the ball and offer funding or other support.  While in Africa, Jahnigen also went out into the countryside to give away some of the balls himself.

As part of a humorous test, one of the balls went to an unusual customer at the Johannesburg zoo: a lion. “He played with it like a kitten to the point of exhaustion,” Jahnigen said. “The zoo director said they give him balls for stimulation but they usually just last a minute. This one has tooth marks and punctures all through it, but it still works.”  If a lion can’t destroy the ball, it’s doubtful that any person would be able to either.

To make the project worthwhile, the couple is combining a for-profit company with a nonprofit foundation. For every $39.50 ball sold, one will be donated to an area in need. The foundation will also accept monetary donations from people who are not interested in purchasing a ball themselves, but would rather send them around the world. Nonprofit organizations who are interested in participating get a deep discount on the cost of the balls.

Jonathan Lea-Howarth travels to developing countries teaching children about HIV and drug use, and uses sports as a way to empower them.  The need for a soccer ball that will never deflate is something that he is well aware of.

He says, “My experience in (the West African nation of) Burkina Faso was that when you give someone a football (soccer ball), its brilliant, it’s like giving them a PlayStation 2; they’re very highly prized,” he said. “The problem is, it was a semi-arid scrubland with lots of thorns; footballs would get punctured almost instantly. People will nurse a ball like it’s a sick relative; they’ll pay to get them stitched back up and a new lining put in, but often they don’t have the money to do that.”

After the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, Lea-Howarth traveled to bring about 21 of these indestructible balls and donate them to both children and the coaches of various programs.  His ultimate goal is to create a youth soccer league in Cite-Soleil, the poorest area of Port-au-Prince, and hopes to bring a ball for each team.

Creating such a project is immeasurably important to children and disadvantaged people around the world. Jahnigen’s idea of a soccer ball that could last a lifetime, never need pumping and would withstand razor wire, sharp rocks, and broken glass would be great for people in war torn areas and poor areas of the world. The ball could also be beneficial if used in cities in the United States as a way to keep young people off the streets and involved in worthwhile activities. The ball would also be great for school departments that don’t have enough money for sports because students and staff could form teams and students could socialize.

The blind and nonprofit agencies who work with the blind would also benefit because the ball would be inexpensive to obtain and the blind would benefit because they could play a variety of sports with the ball.

To read the original article, please go to

Contributor John Wesley Smith – Grow with Plants: Part 1

I’ve known several blind gardeners over the years and even a blind farmer or two. I’m a gardener myself. But I believe there are too few of us.

Why is this? Are we afraid? Has no one taken time to teach us what we need to know? Do some of us avoid growing plants because we think they belong to the realm of the sighted?

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re not a gardener, or you don’t even have a houseplant or two, I’d like to invite you to join me in growing with plants.

Why do I say growing with plants? Because when you grow plants, you can’t help but grow yourself. You’d be surprised how plants broaden your horizons. Besides, it’s fun—more fun than you’d think. And it’s not as difficult or intimidating as you might have been led to believe. But I didn’t come to these conclusions easily.

Most of my growing up years were spent living in the country, though my parents didn’t farm. Both sets of grandparents did, and I spent many weeks during summers with my maternal grandparents. I can’t tell you much about farming, and I didn’t learn much about gardening then either. But I certainly reaped its rewards. New leaf lettuce, green onions, rhubarb, bread and butter pickles and strawberry preserves were my favorites.

My mom had a garden and at one time expected me to help with it. Eventually enough of my complaining won out, and I did very little gardening, leaving the work to my mom and two younger sisters. Seeing prize tomatoes and pumpkins at county and state fairs was boring and a reminder that growing things belonged to someone else’s way of life.

I couldn’t escape gardening altogether because I was recruited to shell peas, snap green beans and shuck corn. I’m sure I complained about that, too.

Having some usable vision leaves me between the world of the sighted and totally blind. This only added to my dislike of gardening and farm work because I didn’t know my capabilities as a boy, and my family didn’t know what to expect of me. It was easy for me to wimp out.

 My sisters made money each summer weeding bean fields and detasseling corn for neighbors and grandparents, while I slept in and found other things to entertain myself. My family feared I’d pull up beans right along with the weeds because I couldn’t see to tell the difference and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace of the work.

Field work is hard work, but I wish in hindsight that I’d been shown what to do and made to keep up. At least the money would have been nice.

Houseplants were off limits, too, because no one encouraged me to take an interest in them or show me how easy it is to care for many of them. Therefore, they were a mystery as well. My mom had a few plants, but my favorites were the geranium and aloe plants kept in the classroom by one of my teachers at the school for the blind. I still find the scent of geraniums intoxicating, and I’m intrigued by the slight prickle of aloe and its rubbery, spear shaped leaves. These days I have two geraniums and more aloe plants than I know what to do with.

Aloe is one of the easiest plants to grow because it practically thrives on neglect. All it needs is indoor light and occasional watering. You’d have to work at killing it. If you’re tempted to grow a plant at all, start with one of these.

It wasn’t until 1987 at the age of 28 that I first contemplated the wonders of having a garden. I’ll share how that came about in a future article.

June audio version

Welcome to the Matilda Ziegler Magazine audio player. To begin listening to the magazine, simply click the “Read more” link below. Once you select the month, an embedded media player will start playing the magazine immediately. While using this player, you can press the control key plus the space bar to pause the current article. To proceed to the next article hold down the control key and the shift key and then press the N key. To go back to the previous article hold down the control key and the shift key and press the P key.

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Feature Writer Karen Crowder – My Trip to Northern Maine and Back

It was a warm, humid morning on July 15, 2008 as I went down in the elevator with my large new suitcase and duffle bag.  While exiting the front door of Liberty place, I thought, “Hope I make the ride.  I cannot miss this train to Boston. If I do my day will be ruined.”  It was 6:35 when the driver took my suit case and began driving to Leominster station. 

I have always believed if you have a good attitude and smile, the universe will be good to you.  That day was no different, and a kind man helped me on to the 7:07 train.   I then had to wait two and a half hours for the down-easter to Portland, Maine.  It wasn’t a big deal, as there was always Duncan Donuts or McDonald’s nearby.  It was comfortable on the air-conditioned commuter train arriving at North station at eight thirty.  The same gentleman was kind enough to take me to the Amtrac ticket counter.  I handed my ticket, saying, “I need assistance on the train.”  The ticket agent said, “You will be taking the 9:05 train, the 11:05 has been canceled.  “That would be good,” I thought to myself, because maybe I would get to enjoy the dog fish restaurant in Portland. 

The train ride was comfortable the seats were very plush.  I admire blind travelers who can walk freely to the dining car, but I am not one of them.  I like getting snacks or lunch right at your seat when you can pull down a tray.  I was looking forward to seeing my step daughter, Pam, and the grand kids, Sharon and her husband John.  The train made a few stops on the way; one in Woburn, another in Haverhill, and two stops in New Hampshire.  Old Orchard beach in Portland is its destination.   When we arrived, I walked out in to a sunny, warm July day.  A mild sea breeze made me think of the beach. To my dismay, I discovered, Grey hound does not stop any where near Amtrac. I thought all stations were like South station in Boston, where you can catch any bus.  Luckily a man took me to a waiting taxi, and for $5 I got to the Greyhound station in five minutes.  After my transactions, the agent led me to a small, New England-style restaurant. She was trying to save me money, claiming “The cafe is very expensive.”   It was a sub shop and I ordered lobster bisque, a lobster salad sandwich, and a coke.  Unfortunately, the bisque was watery and luke warm, and the sandwich was too full of lettuce celery and mayonnaise.  I left, trying to independently walk to the Greyhound station, as it was less than a block away.  The girl at the counter had confidently told me that it was just straight across with a little alley.  As I walked the lady came saying, “You are in back of the station.”  She corrected my path and as we walked, I smelled the delicious aroma of fish. “Was it the dog fish restaurant?” I thought.  I decided that if I was ever in Portland again, I would go there.  Surely their food would be better than a simple sub shop.

I sat engrossed in a cassette book when the 2:15 bus was called to go to Bangor.  The agent boarded me, saying, “If you get the three fifteen, you might miss the 6:30 bus to Holton.”  I was glad to be on my way.  I felt as if I was in a large city with the constant racket of loud radios and honking traffic in downtown Portland.  As we drove away from the Maine coast, each time the bus stopped the air got noticeably cooler.  When we got to Bangor, the agent in the tiny station was very helpful and kind.  I actually almost missed the Holton bus when I was almost locked in the small rest room  The driver assisted me with my bulky suitcase as I frantically got on the bus.  He had a deep Maine accent and a great sense of humor. When we would come to a stop he would say, “Five minutes break, be back in time or you will miss us.”  He said all this in a jolly way and would tell us about local sights in Bangor.  He fondly mentioned a bakery, saying, “The doughnuts are made right on the premises.  They sell out of them every day.” 

As we traveled into the Maine wilderness, the air got much cooler, and I almost wished I had brought a coat or sweater.  We finally arrived in Holton at 8:40.  I was not tired, but rather excited, looking forward to seeing Pam, John, Sharon, and the kids.  As I was dialing them on my cell phone, they pulled up in their truck to get me.  

The air had an autumn chill and must have been in the sixties.  I was so happy to see everyone, feeling their love and warmth.  

The weather in northern Maine is cooler than it is in Massachusetts.  Wednesday morning, the low temperature was 49 degrees. I was very thankful for the extra blankets they had given me to sleep with.  During the days the shill would be replaced with wonderful summer weather, and it was usually around eighty to eighty five degrees.

The week was quiet, and I did a lot of reading and talking to Pam and Sharon during the day.  Wednesday evening we had a cookout, having grilled salmon with veggies. You did not dare go out evenings, though, as there were a multitude of mosquitoes and small flies that would eat you alive. Flies were everywhere, in and out of their old house. They had chickens so I could have fresh farm eggs as often as I wished.

Monday night we had a farewell meal, consisting of fried chicken, biscuits, veggies, and mashed potatoes.  I had such a wonderful week catching up on news, feeling the love and acceptance of everyone. I was sad to leave, and Tuesday morning came to soon.  Pam kindly made me one last plate of scrambled eggs for my last breakfast with them.  I took a cab to the Holton bus stop.  The cab driver was friendly, talking about “this gas crisis,”   and how everyone was too “soft.”  I caught the eight thirty bus to Bangor and the 11:24 to Portland.  It rained buckets on our way to Portland, and I was stuck without a raincoat.  In Portland, it was warm and sunny, and I got the 2:35 train to Boston.  Unfortunately, a delay made me miss my 5:20 train to Leominster.  The conductors, being very friendly, made sure I got on the 6:20 train to Fitchburg.  Calling ahead, I got a cab home from the Leominster station.  In Leominster it was again pouring.  “Where was the 95 degrees that I had heard in the forecast?” I thought.  I happened to find a very nice gentleman to lead me to the cab.  He even gave me a raincoat so I would have to spend my ride home soaked in the back of a taxi.

As fun as it is to travel and see our loved ones, it is a process that takes a lot out of you.  It tries your patience and tests your fortitude at times.  But the important thing is to keep your smile and be open to the generosity of others along you way.  Once all is said and done, you can finish your return trip and say, “There is no place like home.”