Archive for August, 2012

Recipe of the Week – Tropical Salsa

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: 1.5 cups.


1/2 cup finely-chopped red onion
2 mangoes (or 2 papaya or 6 nectarines), peeled and diced small
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1/2 cup finely-minced fresh cilantro leaves
1-2 Tablespoon rice vinegar, or to taste


Place chopped onion in a heatproof bowl (e.g. Pyrex) or measuring cup and add boiling water to cover. Let stand for a few minutes.

In the meantime, mix fruit and juice in a large bowl. Add cilantro and vinegar and mix well.

Drain onion and add to fruit mixture, mixing well.

Taste, adding more vinegar and/or juice if desired.

Note: Salsa may be served immediately or can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 26; Protein: 0.5 g; Sodium: 2 mg; Fat: 0 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Carbohydrate: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Exchanges: 1-1/2 Vegetable

Reader’s Forum – Week of August 27, 2012

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

In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Children Becoming Victims of Political Correctness, Bill wrote:

I would like to respond to Bob Branco’s article on political correctness. I agree with him that it has gone too far. We are too hooked on sexual harassment and other things. True, it does exist, but we are going over the edge with it. We have to lighten up as a society. It has gotten to the point whereby you have to watch everything you say or talk about so you will not be accused of anything. Enough already.

Bill Meinecke
Virginia Beach, Virginia
In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Children Becoming Victims of Political Correctness, Edward Zolotarevsky wrote:

At first it starts as censorship. Later, it becomes extreme and infringes on free speech.

Now, you must commit a crime before going to jail. Imagine a world where saying the wrong word like “cute” can throw you in jail instead.

George Orwell imagined such a world in his book, “1984.” He Thought police would track down criminals with words not actions. One sentenced man went to jail for writing “God” in a poem.

This fostered paranoia and destroyed human rights.

Edward Zolotarevsky
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – I Am Not Amused, Joni wrote:

I can’t ride things like the Tilt-A-Whirl, but I love roller coasters. As Carole mentioned in response to Lynne Tatum’s I Am Not Amused column, Cedar Point is a roller coaster paradise! The park is on the shore of Lake Erie. My husband and I have stayed at Hotel Breakers and it is so nice to be able to walk right into the park from the hotel. The park contains my favorite coaster, Millennium Force. It is 310 feet high and reaches 93 miles per hour. It is a smooth and exhilarating ride!

I just read that Cedar Point will debut its 16th roller coaster, GateKeeper, in 2013. Read about it here, and ride it if you dare:

There is a brief history of Cedar Point here:

It was interesting to read that the park’s first roller coaster, Switchback Railway, was only 25 feet high and ran at 10 miles an hour. Cedar Point is a must visit for roller coaster fans.

My second favorite coaster is at Busch Gardens Tampa, SheiKra. This coaster has no floor, climbs to 200 feet, leaves you hanging at the edge of the impending drop for a tantalizing 6 seconds, and then plunges you down at 90 degrees at a speed of 70 miles per hour. Thrilling and amazing!
In regard to the responses that she received in the Reader’s Forum, Sally wrote:

I want to thank everyone responding to my questions on crafts, the harmonica and what type of stove is more blind-friendly. I appreciate all the responses and am sorry I didn’t get my thank you in earlier.


Contributor Larry P. Johnson – Sighted or Blind

Last month I was in the state of Maine, attending a church camp for blind folks, and someone asked me the question: How would your life have been different if you were sighted instead of blind? A really tough question. “Well,” I laughed, “For one thing, I probably wouldn’t be here at this blind camp. But then, maybe I would–as a sighted counselor.”

Next, I thought, I probably wouldn’t know or use Braille–unless I happened to be a teacher of blind children. Hmm. “Okay. Well,” I said, “I might have gone off alone to Mexico at 18 to learn Spanish. But, by golly, I did do that, didn’t I? Well, I might have become a radio disk jockey, an English instructor, a TV commentator, or even an HR manager with a Fortune 500 company.”

The fact is, I did all those things. So, how might my life have been different if I had been sighted? I honestly don’t know. Did I do those things in spite of my blindness or because of it? What makes us what we are? How does adversity shape our lives? It can make us stronger, more determined, or it can break us. Each day we are presented with adversities, challenges–an accident, an illness, the loss of a job or of a loved one. How we respond and react to these adversities and challenges reveals our expectations about the future, our attitude toward life.

I have been called a cock-eyed optimist, and I guess maybe I am. I believe most people are kind and good in spite of the horrific recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. I believe our nation’s economy will get better. I even believe that most of our politicians are trying to do the right thing, even though I may not agree with them about their definition of the right thing.

But back to the original question. How might my life have been different if I had been sighted instead of blind? My answer is that my blindness is just a part of me, like my height and my big feet. But it is not the whole of me. We are complex composites of a wide array of attributes, talents, influences, and experiences. We are unique, each of us an individual snowflake. There is no one characteristic, condition, or category which defines who we are. We are one. And our “special oneness” is what we offer to enhance and enrich the beautiful mosaic of the human community.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Caught in the Rain

Unlike our very dry July this summer in North Central Massachusetts, August has had its share of rainstorms. I take summer storms in stride and I’m able to board Paratransit vans or cars without getting drenched. However, my friend Candice and I have had some wet adventures recently, as she is dealing with blindness, as well as a walker.

It was a cloudy, humid Friday afternoon, and I took the Paratransit van to meet Candice’s train at the Fitchburg station. After having a snack at the new café, I took the front of her walker with my left hand, guiding her towards the van entrance with verbal directions. I heard heavy rain pounding on the glass doors and cement outside. I was about to open the door when a helpful voice cautioned, “Wait, I am going on the same van. It is pouring out there.”

With additional challenges of pouring rain and guiding Candice, the woman taking this van and the driver helped us into the air-conditioned van and out of the tropical rainstorm. I wished I had thought to bring my rain jacket.

Saturday at eight A.M., we took a cab to Denny’s and were greeted again by pouring rain. I was able to navigate Candice’s walker down our ramp and the driver assisted us in to the cab. We were soaked again, but safely in the car.

After a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and coffee, the sun was finally coming out as we took the van to Walmart. It looked as if the impending rain would continue to hold off while we were in the store and as we left to grab some lunch.

After lunch, our hostess guided us towards the entrance of the small restaurant. As we approached the door, I again heard rain. We waited for our van outside under the canopy. As the torrential rain pounded that little the canopy, I really hoped we would get assistance to the van. Maneuvering the walker down three small cement steps to the sidewalk would be tricky and slow. The rain muffles sound for a totally blind person, not to mention making everything very slippery.

Our van arrived and the kind driver helped Candice with the lift onto the van. I followed behind, and having learned my lesson the day before, I was glad to have my rain jacket on. The driver drove cautiously, with rain coming down in flash flooding sheets.

We arrived at my complex and I thought to myself “How are we going to get up the ramp with all of our bundles in this blinding downpour?” Luckily, our driver came to our rescue. I rushed up the ramp and held the main door open for Candice and the driver, who was with her every step of the way.

By Sunday afternoon when Candice and I went out for dinner, the weather was sunny and mild. While the rain had been a blessing for the parched grass and garden, it certainly did add an additional challenge for us. Thanks to the kind help of others, we were able to quickly, and safely, navigate through the rain and continue to enjoy our weekend. Though, I really think they should make a walker with an umbrella hook for just these occasions.

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – It Galled Me…But No More

I must warn you that if you’re sensitive regarding medical procedures, please skip this article. I certainly do not intend to become gratuitously graphic, but I will be describing a bit of the pre and post care for my gall stone/gall bladder removal surgery.

Let me just state that I was absolutely terrified. If you recall, faithful readers, the only surgeries I’ve ever had have been on my failing eyeball. I was, however, worried about any complications. It was going to be a stretch affording the initial office visit and surgical fee asked by the surgeon suggested by my primary care physician, but I did contact his office and was prepared to pay at least the initial office fee. I received a chuckle in the process. The administrator asked for the name of my insurance plan and when I told her, she jovially repeated that the surgeon did not accept any insurance. She finally advised that I submit a claim and take my chances. No thank you.

Putting my procrastinating ways aside, I called my health insurance hotline and was provided a list of in-plan surgeons and picked one that was in my neighborhood. My main objective was to have the procedure done at the highly recommended Lenox Hill hospital and I got lucky with the first surgeon I chose. I trusted him from the moment we met at his modest office in Harlem, but was later to learn that he works out of at least two others. We shared a few laughs and even joked about a hernia that I didn’t even know I had. There was no turning back.

I’d recently had a physical, but had to undergo pre-op procedures, including an EKG, chest X-ray, and blood tests as well. My primary doctor even added another medication to my daily cocktail of high-blood pressure meds. She said she just wanted to “take the edge off.” Additionally, it seemed I asked and answered a barrage of questions a million times. Knowing this was all in an effort to ensure that I was fairly healthy enough to withstand the procedure, I slogged through them with my characteristic humor.

On Tuesday, August 21st, we arrived at the hospital at 7:11am having no idea that I would not be leaving until 7:00pm. A few things stand out in my mind. One, that I, not my nurse, used sterilized pads to clean myself; two, that I am allergic to iodine; and three, that a two-hour surgery took five hours and it took an additional hour for me to float up from the depths of anesthesia. When I awoke, I was greeted with beautiful smiles from all assembled.

Fearful that I would have to stay overnight, I was thrilled to be told I could go home. To say I was fuzzy-headed would be kind. Honestly, Maria, my sister, and my niece had it the hardest, as they patiently struggled through every grueling hour. I was relieved to learn that several members of the surgical team came out to give them the good news.

I recall the ride in what seemed like an antiquated, rather rickety wheelchair being a bit scary as we boarded the elevator and then plummeted 10 floors. I could feel every rattle as we bumped along the sidewalk to get to the curb in order to catch a taxi.

Up and out the following day, I needed to see my surgeon to have the drain removed. I am very grateful I did not look up that really painful procedure. It was more gruesome than the surgery, as I was awake during the removal. My sister acted as his assistant and my hand-holder. I let out a silent scream, but maintained what shred of dignity I could as he pulled out what seemed like a mile of tubing from my abdomen. Incredibly, I gave him a big hug before I left, as he is ultimately responsible for my now being able to eat regular meals without fear of excruciating pain and other unpleasant side effects.

I am not yet at 100 percent of my energy, but I’m feeling stronger every day and am glad that I decided to have the operation done electively rather than urgently. Additionally, although there were some odd practices, I cannot fault the team at Lenox Hill. From the time we walked through the doors to the time we left, they were unfailingly courteous, efficient, professional, and, most of all, highly competent. I will always remember this as a mostly positive experience.

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing excessive and excruciating pains on the right side of their abdomen, I urge you (and/or them) to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Feature Writer John Christie – Advocacy Groups Demand Goodwill Pay Its Disabled Workers at Least Minimum Wage

The National Federation of the Blind is boycotting Goodwill Industries for paying their disabled workers less than the minimum wage. Goodwill is currently about to do this under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under a little known provision of the FLSA, certain organizations can pay their disabled workers just $1 an hour. The NFB has been trying to change this provision for years and now they’re going after a large organization to have their voice heard.

“This is simply unfair, discriminatory, and immoral,” said Anil Lewis with the National Federation of the Blind.

The NFB obtained Goodwill’s certificate under the Freedom of Information Act. This certificate authorizes special minimum wage rates for people with disabilities. “The thing that’s so very frustrating for me is that the reason this whole law exists is because people don’t believe that blind people and people with other disabilities have the capacity to participate in the workforce,” said Lewis.

According to the Goodwill documents, a deaf person is making just $1.44 an hour in a Goodwill facility in Hinesville, Georgia. The irony is thick with this issue, due to the fact that the CEO of Goodwill Industries is a blind person. “I don’t know how he reconciles paying other people with disabilities less than minimum wage. To me, that is hypocrisy,” said Lewis.

On one recent Friday, Lewis and a few of his colleagues drove down to Goodwill headquarters in Rockville, Maryland to meet with the CEO, Jim Gibbons, but were told to call and make an appointment.

“We have attempted to have a meeting and unfortunately, I don’t know why, they have chosen not to meet with us. Many people say that maybe they have something to hide. Maybe they’re afraid that our argument is too strong. I don’t know what the reason is. Maybe you (9NEWS now) can get an answer for us,” said Lewis,”

9 News in Maryland couldn’t even get an interview, but the Goodwill headquarters released this lengthy statement:

“Goodwill supports changes in the FLSA so long as the right of people with disabilities to maintain employment of their choice is preserved. Across the U.S., 79% of people with disabilities are not working today. The Special Minimum Wage Certificate is an important resource to employ individuals with significant disabilities. The Certificate enables Goodwill and thousands of other employers to provide opportunities for people with severe disabilities who otherwise might not be part of the workforce.

Goodwill’s network of 165 local, autonomous, community-based organizations in the United States and Canada employ a total of 105,000 team members, 30,000 of whom have a disability. Our data shows that 64 Goodwill organizations report employing people with significant disabilities under the Special Minimum Wage Certificate. These 64 Goodwill’s employ approximately 7,300 employees with significant disabilities under the Special Minimum Wage Certificate, with the average hourly wage of $7.47.”

Protests took place last Saturday in two dozen states in regard to Goodwill not paying the minimum wage.

It’s incredibly important that Goodwill is being exposed for not paying their disabled workers minimum wage. Hopefully, through this exposure, Goodwill, along with other sheltered workshops, will eventually receive enough public pressure to change their policies and pay all of their disabled workers a fair wage.


Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Final Training Days with Joel

As our training sessions came to a close, we worked in different places and I learned more techniques with Joel. One day, Kathy took me to the train station to practice platform work. When we arrived at the platform, she instructed me to take a few steps away from the edge. Then, she said, “Ask Joel to go forward and when he comes in front of you, moving you to the right, give him lots of praise and feed him. He is going to defy your request because, if he takes you forward, you would walk off the platform and fall to the tracks, which is an extremely dangerous place.” So, I asked Joel to go forward and he quickly crossed in front of me, making it impossible for me to move forward. Then, he pulled me off to the right, well away from the edge of the platform. Obviously, railroad platforms can be dangerous, since there is a large drop at the edge, down to the tracks. It is also not a good idea to be near the edge if there happens to be a moving train, too.

Another interesting part of Joel’s responsibility happens when we are encountering moving traffic. If I am standing at a curb and ask him to go forward, if the situation is not clear and moving traffic is close or rapidly approaching us, Joel will either not move, or cross directly in front of my path, so that I can’t go forward into a dangerous situation. If we are walking through driveways which intersect the sidewalk, Joel pays close attention, just in case someone is backing out of the driveway. If he sees a moving car that is approaching us, he will abruptly stop to indicate danger. This means that he has to focus extra hard as we walk because we do cross lots of driveways along our daily routes.

As our training drew to a close, we also learned how to work through revolving doors, elevators, and escalators. It is interesting to note that the recommendation is to only use an escalator if it is the only option available. They feel that escalators can be dangerous because dogs have gotten severely injured when exiting because their feet have gotten caught. I don’t do a lot of work near escalators, so this will not be a huge issue for me, but it’s good to know nonetheless.

On our final day of training, we took a walk in my mother’s neighborhood because she lives in an area where there are no sidewalks. This is referred to as a country route. It offers different challenges to the dog because he needs to watch for any moving vehicles in people’s driveways as we walk. The driveways are not marked since there is no sidewalk for Joel to work on. Fortunately, my mother lives in an area where there is little traffic on the roads.

Now that the training is complete, it is time for us to begin our journey together.

July 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 Terri Winaught – Control Your Dogs, Please!

Ernest Jones is a good friend and fellow writer who lives in Washington State where he writes a monthly column for the Walla Walla Valley Weekly. In Ernie’s articles, he educates the public about blindness, raises awareness of challenges, and shares achievements.

A significant challenge for many guide dog users is having their guides attacked by dogs that are running loose. While many municipalities have leash laws, it seems that some people don’t think or care about the problems they can cause by disobeying these laws.

In his July 24, 2012 column, Ernie shared his experiences of guide dog attacks. In one instance, the deputy to whom he reported the incident never even passed the information on to the animal control officer–something Ernie discovered when following up.

“Though it has been 8 years since one of my guide dogs was attacked,” Ernie began, “the incident has been permanently burned into my mind.”

Because Ernie received such an overwhelming response from both blind and sighted individuals, he addressed this topic again in an August, 2012 article. It is important to note that attacks have been perpetrated not only against guide dogs, but also against other service animals.

One woman he wrote about who uses a dog to alert her when she is about to have a seizure or a blood sugar problem shared what it was like when her animal was attacked. “When my dog was attacked, some teenage boys came to the rescue by pulling the attacker away,” she reported.

Although assaults on service dogs are prosecutable offenses, there are times when even legal action fails. “When my dog was attacked,” Ernie explained “the neighbor was prosecuted and reprimanded, but she continued to ignore leash laws. It wasn’t until her home owner’s insurance company was notified that she started taking notice,” Ernie concluded.

Since Ernie’s guide dog series elicited local and national response, it is everyone’s hope that eyes blinded by discourteousness will be opened and yield positive results for caring owners and their treasured helpers.

I’m aware from previous articles that some of you have had the misfortune of a guide dog or dogs being attacked. What legal remedies, if any, were you able to pursue?

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Three Blind Athletes to Follow in This Year’s Paralympic Games

Now that all of you are aware that watching the Paralympic games will be possible, it’s time to learn a little bit about some of the athletes. While it’s not possible to talk about everyone competing, there are three athletes I would recommend paying close attention to in the coming weeks. Jordan Mouton will be competing in women’s judo, Brad Snyder is a current member of the military who is competing in seven swimming events, and Clark Rachfal will be competing in tandem cycling.

There are three events in the Paralympics that are exclusively for people with visual impairments. Judo is one of these. It is also the only martial art in the games. Judo is a great sport for blind athletes because you are always in physical contact with your sparring partner. According to the official Paralympics website, “Two athletes (judokas) gain points for throws, holds, arm locks, and strangles in a bid to beat their opponent. A contest lasts for five minutes, with the athlete who has the highest score at the end of the contest the winner.” For Jordan Mouton, judo was her way of overcoming her blindness. She started losing her vision at the age of 12 from cone/rod dystrophy. After having to give up soccer, Jordan was very excited to learn about judo. She was a competitor in the 2008 Paralympics and she’s happy to be competing again.

Those of us who have degenerative eye diseases have lots of time to cope with our blindness, but this wasn’t the case for Brad Snyder. Like a number of his fellow servicemen and women, Brad lost is vision after being hit by an IED in Afghanistan. He was a swimmer before he lost his vision, and he’s proud to be able to continue in the sport even without sight. Swimming for blind athletes is not much different than it is for sighted athletes. Blind athletes have a tapper who lets them know that they are approaching the wall, but other than that, they compete just the same. Snyder currently holds the record for the 400 meter freestyle among fully blind athletes and he hopes to break that record at the games.

There is a kind of freedom that only riding a bicycle can give you. Even though blind cyclists need someone to be their driver, cycling is a sport that can be rewarding to those who can’t see. The Paralympics introduced tandem cycling in 1984 for blind athletes, and thanks to technology, there are now cycling events for people with a wide variety of disabilities. Clark Wrathful started his tandem career with his sighted pilot back in 2007. Since then, they’ve earned the title of world champions in 2009 and overall UCI World Cup Winners last year. They are both excited to be representing the US and hope to bring home gold.

I hope everyone enjoys the games. Which events are you looking forward to following?

To learn more about Jordan’s story, visit this link:

To learn more about Brad’s story, visit this link:

To learn about Clark’s story, visit this link: