Archive for May, 2012

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Million Dollar Mix Up

If someone’s trash were really another person’s treasure, then Sharon Jones would not be facing such a quagmire. Ms. Jones, from Arkansas, found a winning lotto ticket and turned it in to collect a prize of one million dollars. Some of her new found fortune has already been dished out on gifts for herself and her children, but Ms. Jones may be headed back to a much more familiar tax bracket. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that since the ticket was recovered from the garbage, it had to be returned to the original owner.

Certainly, going through someone’s trash is a crime, but that is a far cry from what Ms. Jones is accused of doing. She simply went into a store and searched through a bin of discarded tickets, and found the winning ticket among the pile. The arbiter ruled that Sharon Duncan, the woman who originally purchased the ticket, should be the recipient of the large cash reward.

While examining the facts of the case, the judge may have considered that Ms. Duncan is really not at fault for getting rid of the ticket. She did turn it in to be scanned, and dumped it only after the machine snubbed it. Furthermore, during trial, a store manager testified that a sign displayed in the store does warn people not to take discarded tickets. On the other hand, Ms. Jones testified that she had taken many discarded tickets before, and was supported by a former store employee who said the sign was only posted after the incident.

The original law suit was filed by the store manager, and Ms. Duncan decided to join after a preliminary hearing. The attorney for Ms. Jones does plan to appeal the decision, so round two may be imminent. If Ms. Jones is lucky, and can prove the warning sign was never there before, they may just have to split the money after all. Otherwise, it’s better luck next time.


Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – It Galls Me

Some time ago I awoke in the early morning with excruciating pains in my abdomen–specifically on the right side. It marked the first time I’d ever missed a teaching session. Our competent tutors took over and I was back the following day, but it was a debilitating, unforgettable experience.

With the exception of chronic hypertension, for which I take medication, I consider myself a fairly healthy person. I walk good distances, tandem bike ride, and lift free weights. However, an insidious, albeit common, disease was waiting to strike and it galls me that I have to announce that I’ve been diagnosed with an annoying gallstone. The question is not whether or not to undergo surgery, but when.

The last time I went under the knife was to try to fix a problem with my ailing eyeball. The surgery was marginally successful. But the one thing I recall was waking up while they were doing the deed and feeling the heat. It was bizarre, to say the very least. I think I made some noise to let them know. Even stranger was the smiling photo my surgeon insisted I take before leaving the operating room. Things will be a lot different this time. For one thing, I absolutely do not want to come out of anesthesia as they’re working on my innards.

The gallstone was caught on film during my first-ever sonogram. I must say that I was in and out of that medical imaging office in about half an hour and the technician was very humorous and helpful (No thanks to the semi-conscious taxi driver who dropped us off in front of a parking garage rather than the entrance to the office). Additionally, I can’t help but relate that a good friend mockingly asked if I were having a sonogram because I thought I might be pregnant. Ironically, he was actually in line with my doctor who had also recently asked (I’m certain, in jest) if I planned to become pregnant. The answer on both accounts was a resounding, “No!” Not at the rather advanced age of 49. I know there are many women out there who would jump at the chance, but I intend to remain firmly rooted to the ground.

Not pretending even one iota of bravery, I’ll admit to being terrified even though I’ve researched the treatment and know that this is a very common procedure. It is not common for me and I now have the added concern of paying for the recommended surgeon, who aggravatingly, does not participate in any healthcare insurance. I’m considering finding another surgeon who is equally competent and cooperative. Decisions, decisions!

Here’s some information on this very painful topic:

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Some Art for a Blank Canvas

As some of you may recall, Verona and I visited my mother and sister on the west coast back in March–San Jose, to be exact. I spent many years there, from ages 14 to 20, and I would move back at a moment’s notice. The San Francisco bay area is my ultimate climate, regardless of the potential for natural disasters.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit my favorite beach town, Santa Cruz, was to find a tattoo parlor. I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was a youngster, but never got one because of the fear of pain. My husband got one before we met and another after our son was born and now has six, all of them symbolic and deeply personal.

Then, last summer, my oldest sister called me from Provincetown, Rhode Island and told me she and her partner got tats as well. That was it, if my big sister could handle it, I certainly could.

So, Verona and I walked confidently into Good Luck Tattoo in Santa Cruz, California and approached the counter. Matt, the tattoo artist, listened as I described what I wanted–a blue dog’s paw print on my upper left bicep. He suggested a flower border and we agreed on cherry blossoms above and below it, to give it focus. Once he produced the stencil, my other sister got brave and wanted her own.

With my approval, Matt then received visual approval from Mom, a friend, and my Sister as to placement, and I waited for the painful shock of the buzzing needles. I was oddly disappointed. The initial sting was a bit strange, but after a while, he got into a rhythm and before I knew it, he was done.

I am now the proud owner of an aqua blue paw print with a spray of cherry blossoms above and below it. It’s a very pretty tattoo, as I asked for something subtle and feminine and Matt did not let me down.

Why a dog’s paw, you might ask? Well, it symbolizes my life with dogs, intensified by the bond I share with Verona and in memory of past dogs, who each gave me unconditional love and loyalty.

Next year I’m going back for number two.

Do any of you have tattoos? Let us hear about them in the Reader’s Forum.

April 2012 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 Alena Roberts – Connecting Prisoners and the Blind Through Braille

I only had one book transcribed into braille while I was in college. Even though my knowledge of the Nemeth code was rudimentary, having my statistics book in braille was very helpful. I remember learning at the time that my book would be coming from one of the local prisons. I knew that prisoners are often are responsible for making license plates, but I had no idea that they would be contracted to be braille transcriptionists as well.

Fulsom prison was made famous by the great Jonny Cash, but now prisoners are being recognized for their amazing braille skills rather than the crimes that landed them there. Lyael Shellman has all of the braille certifications that exist, and he’s one of a few in the world with that honor. Before he was incarcerated for shooting a man, he had also stolen from a blind woman. He says that providing braille transcription is his way of giving back, since he knows that he will likely never be able to apologize to those he hurt. Another prisoner, convicted of attempted murder, has already gotten his certification in literary braille and now he’s working on braille music.

The work that these prisoners do is vital to the success of blind children and adults. It also provides them with a much needed skill and gives them something productive to do while they’re behind bars, and presumably, if and when they’re released in the future.

It is my belief that most people who go to prison are fully capable of being rehabilitated. Being a braille transcriptionist also gives them a higher likelihood of getting a job once they’re released, which means they’re less likely to reoffend. As someone who is getting their literary braille certification, I tip my hat to them. It is a very challenging process, but it’s also really rewarding.

To read the full story about these talented prisoners, visit this link:,0,3012123.story

Feature Writer John Christie – Senators Make Braille a Priority

In a letter addressed to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a quarter of the U.S. Senate is calling for the increase and improvement of teaching Braille. Currently, according to some estimates, only 10 percent of the blind are learning braille. Some of the reasons for the low number include not enough teachers, some teachers just don’t have the training, and some educators feel that braille isn’t even necessary.

However, Senator Patty Murray disagrees. The Democrat from Washington said in a letter sent to Duncan in the beginning of May, “Students with blindness or a visual impairment who are inappropriately denied or delayed Braille instruction find themselves struggling in middle and high school, falling further behind their sighted peers.” The letter is supported by many of the blindness agencies including the American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Helen Keller National Center, National Council of State Agencies for the Blind, and the National Federation of the Blind

According to Murray’s office, the 26 senators are encouraging Duncan to consult stakeholders. In addition, he is urged to write regulations for education plans for students who are blind or visually impaired. He is also urged to give guidance to school districts on teaching braille and reading and writing.

The senators are also asking the education department to provide guidance to school districts on when braille would be beneficial to a student. School departments have been getting away with teaching assistive technology, using this as an excuse for not teaching braille.

“Instruction in Braille closely parallels instruction in print reading. Beginning in kindergarten, instruction focuses on fundamentals such as phonemic awareness, and in later grades continues into higher order skills such as comprehension. For students with blindness entering kindergarten, Braille instruction is begun immediately. However, as you know, many students with a visual impairment have a degenerative condition resulting in low vision or blindness during later childhood or adolescence,” the senators wrote.

“For many of these students, Braille instruction is begun much later, once the student’s visual acuity significantly decreases,” they continued. “Often, the result is that the student is unable to access the grade-level curriculum because he or she lacks proficiency in Braille.”

It’s great to see that the democratic senators are getting involved with the issue of Braille and placing it at the forefront of their agenda. Once the Secretary of Education gets involved with Braille, hopefully more blind students will have the opportunity to strengthen their Braille skills and be more prepared to go on to higher education and obtain employment.


Letter from the Editor – May 29, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had a nice weekend, and for those of you here in the States, a nice long holiday weekend.

I don’t know about where you all were this weekend, but down in Virginia, it felt like the middle of July. On Sunday, I spent a scorching few hours on the golf course in 93 degree weather with incredible humidity. It makes me wonder what July is going to feel like by the time it rolls around. Here’s hoping that things return to normal before then.

Just a couple announcements for this week. First, I will be releasing the April Audio Edition either this afternoon or tomorrow, so if you’re a subscriber, please check your inboxes soon. If you’re not a subscriber, you can listen to the new audio edition directly on our site by going to and selecting “April 2012 audio version.” At that point you can either stream it from our site, or select the download link beneath the player. If you would like to be subscribed to receive the download link automatically each month, please send me an email at [email protected] with “Subscribe to Audio Edition” in the subject.

Also, the recipe of the week for this week will be held in Karen Crowder’s article. She’s going to be sharing a couple quick and easy treats that will help you beat the heat this summer.

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 – Honey Baked Ham

Submitted by Dave Hutchins


1traditional bone-in butt half ham
6 ounces ginger ale
1 can pineapples in heavy syrup
Dark brown sugar (to taste)
1 Tablespoon Nutmeg
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon


1. Rinse Ham and place in baking pan.

2. Pour ginger ale over ham. Pin pineapples to ham with toothpicks (You will probably not use them all).

3. Mix brown sugar with heavy syrup from can of pineapples and pour over the ham. Sprinkle ham with nutmeg and cinnamon. Use a spoon to evenly mix the mixture in the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake.

Note: Packaging on ham should have baking instructions. Normally baking 25 min for each pound at 325.

Reader’s Forum – Week of May 21, 2012

For your convenience, each Reader’s Forum submission is separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Choices, Roy wrote:

I have been totally blind all my life and am now 53 years old. If I were given the choice to have my sight tomorrow I would turn it down. I would have to learn to live all over again–learning to read, to write, to travel, to just live life a different way. I’d have to learn colors. And, hopefully, I wouldn’t become superficial by judging others by how they look on the outside. The only reason I’d even be tempted to say yes would be to drive a car. But, with Google developing the self-driving car that’s becoming less important. So, for me, it’d be “no” to sight.

Roy McCutcheon
Reading Pennsylvania
In Response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Another Successful Reunion, Chris wrote:

I count myself fortunate that since leaving school in 1969, I have managed to keep in touch with a number of girlfriends all along, and as the school organized a handful of reunions over the years, I’ve caught up with others who were older than I and I hadn’t been able to keep in touch with them, plus a number of the lads.

I was at boarding schools in the UK for the partially sighted from 1957 to 1969; the whole of my school life. I left my first boarding school for girls only at the age of nearly 12, in 1963, and there was no chance to keep in touch with anyone. We were too young really and anyway one or two of my girlfriends joined me the following year and I soon forgot about the other friends. In the early 1970s, when organizing my first voluntary group for the partially sighted, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were in a local supermarket and I realized one of the ‘shelf stackers’ was partially sighted. Could she be my first friend at school when I was five, who was introduced to me as a ‘big girl’ 18 months old than I? It was indeed. Her parents were living in a particular road and house then –and when I married in 1976 and came to live where I am now–some five miles from my parents house, they were still in their house just a few hundred yards from my front gate. My husband has spent 37 years walking past their gate several times a day on his way to and from work.

Yvonne and I and another friend, Muriel–we met when we were still aged between 7 and 9–meet for coffee and ring each other up regularly. We’re as local as we can get being about 10 miles from each other maximum. We were at school together some 20 miles from where we live. In 1963, Muriel and I left that school and moved to a school in Coventry–some 100 miles from home. Through trials and tribulations we have remained in touch. Yvonne, Muriel, and I all have daughters born the same year–and Yvonne and mine are just five days apart. Only the decision to send her children to a different school at 11 to the one I chose has meant Deborah and my Hazel weren’t in the same school year or subject class for six years!

The use of the Internet has meant I email some friends several times a day, ring and text others every week or so, meet some of them whenever I can and others it’s not possible to meet (I could spend my whole year travelling just round the UK should I have the time, energy and cash!). We meet for weddings, funerals (yes there have been a few), go on holiday together. In 10 days time a small group of us–men and women–will meet for a weekend in Coventry where our school was. Because we’re in touch so regularly we no longer really think of this as a reunion: it’s just a bunch of friends spending a weekend together. Later in July one of friends is marrying for the second time having been widowed. She married a boy from school–one or two made it to their wedding, a small number of us made it to his funeral (this involves quite a lot of travelling for everyone of course) and a number of us girls will be at her wedding and one of us will be her matron of honor (not me). The fiancé’s going to be ‘inspected’ next weekend by ‘the lads’ (some of whom are Carole’s ‘exes’–really we’re more like a big bunch of brothers and sisters). We care about every aspect of our lives and we know from what we’ve been through (serious illness, deaths of friends and spouses, families in serious trouble, births, marriages of our siblings as well as our children) that our friends are always there for us. This year we even have the pleasure of meeting someone we all believed had died back in 1970 from a serious illness. The Internet enabled him to find me online (I was once engaged to him so he had an interest shall we say!). We were also classmates so I was a gateway to other classmates.

Reunions bring pain and pleasure. With the best will in the world some people can happily meet 2 or 3 friends but refuse to come to ‘big’ gatherings. Our group could be as large as about 30 but this year will be nearer a dozen plus a few spouses. Our group will grow again when next year we move to a bigger more convenient city for travel connections–and there won’t be any memories hanging over those who didn’t enjoy their time at the school.

Sincerely Chris (Reading, Berks, UK)
In Response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Another Successful Reunion, Jan wrote:

I have attended Bob Branco’s reunions since 2005 and have enjoyed them. One thing I appreciate is that Bob does a roll call at each one, so we all know who is there. The reunions are small enough, so that we can walk around and see people that we’re not sitting with, which is wonderful, since at least two of my friends have more difficulty getting around than I do and I have to go up to them in order to see them. I have been able to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in thirty years, and to see people I previously was only able to keep in touch by phone. I also like the reunions because it’s separate from alumni. Some of us can’t attend alumni for various reasons.

Bob does a terrific job of helping people get in touch with each other and he does it all on his own.

Contributor Carole Rose – Let’s Go Racing!

Ever since attending my first Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1970, I dreamed of riding in a race car. I had listened to radio broadcasts of the race since 1951, but nothing could compare to being at the track–mingling with the festive crowds, inhaling the fumes, and thrilling to the roar of 33 powerful engines. I resigned myself to satisfying my love for speed by riding roller coasters.

In the late 90s, a tandem race car was introduced, offering race fans the opportunity to take three laps around the famed two-and-a-half mile oval at an average speed of 180 miles per hour. In 2005, I received a small inheritance, and I immediately used some of the money to purchase a ride in the two-seater.

It was already a balmy 90 degrees when my husband and I arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on that July morning. When I’d called ahead to reserve my ride, I informed the staff that I was blind; I didn’t want any unforeseen surprises for anyone.

After signing a multi-page document absolving the Speedway of any responsibility should my driver and I crash, I was given a fire-retardant suit, complete with gloves and shoes. Then I entered the pit lane where I received my balaclava and cumbersome helmet. There I stood in the hot sun, with only my mouth and nose uncovered. My head felt heavy and because I couldn’t hear well, I felt disoriented. I stood in line waiting my turn, while two tandems transported passengers around the track.

My assigned driver had driven in the 500 several times, so I felt completely safe. I was introduced to him and helped into the car. Then came the neck brace and a five-point harness to keep me secure. The cockpit was small, I couldn’t move, and the seat was only three inches from the ground. I was informed that there was a button in front of me that I could push if I felt that the car was going too fast. I informed my assistant that he was crazy if he thought I was going to push it unless it only increased the speed. The engine came to life and the car left the pits.

I have heard that first-time drivers at this track are often intimidated by the walls. I couldn’t look through the lenses on my helmet, so walls were no problem. I could neither feel the wind nor smell the fumes; I could only hear the roar of the engine. As we headed down the front straight, I was thinking that this wasn’t much different than speeding down the interstate. Even the first turn wasn’t so bad. But the speed increased and everything changed. The straight-aways were fast but the turns were incredible. They were fast! They were tight! Had I not been so tightly wedged in the car, I was sure I would have tumbled onto the pavement.

By lap three, I had lost control. I was wild with joy! I was no longer Carole the passenger; I was Carole the racer. I was racing with the best in the business. Coming out of turn three, I made a daring pass on A. J. Foyt and had Mario Andretti in my sights. I stayed on his tail and drew even with him on the front straight and nosed ahead of him at the finish line. Mario had lost again.

The car slowed and pulled into the pits. The ride had ended. After being extracted from the car, I posed for pictures with helmet in hand. This and other photos that had been taken during my experience were posted on a racing web site weeks later. My assistant told me that my fastest lap had been at 185 miles per hour. I suppose that was reasonably fast.

I still attend the 500, and I am able to view the spectacle from a different perspective. As the cars zoom around the track, I know what the drivers are experiencing. I had completed three fast laps and would do more if I could. I’m not sure if I’m ready to negotiate laps at top speed with 32 other cars on the track. On second thought, if Mario Andretti would agree to be my driver, I just might reconsider.