Volume 3 Issue 8
Table of Contents
Greetings from the Editor
Sponsor of the Month
Movers & Shakers
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
the Rotating Trio: Potpourri
Riddle & Brain Buster
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Greetings from the Editor
By Karen Santiago
Hello Readers! I attended my first National Blind Convention last month. Wow, what an experience! There was an estimated 2,800 blind/visually impaired people in attendance. I was fortunate enough to meet three authors for The Blind Perspective; Cheryl Spencer, Jim Morgan, and Russ Davis. That was so great, and a lot of fun too! I also got to meet some of the people I have interviewed and wrote about in past articles: Mel Scott of BlindAlive, Jeff Thompson & Pete Lane of Blind abilities, and J.J. Meddaugh of A T Guys. There were several other vendors in the exhibit hall that either I have interviewed, or one of our authors has written about. My suggestion to you, if you can and are able, go to one National Blind Convention, for the experience, and to possibly purchase a thing or two.
With September on the horizon, I will once again be interviewing, and accepting articles about life as a blind person in another country. Therefore, if you are interested, or know someone who would like to be interviewed for the International Perspective segment please send me an email at: Karen@The BlindPerspective.com
I will be writing an article on Charles Bonnet Syndrome for the September issue. If you suffer from this condition and would like to share your experiences please email me at the email address just stated. I would like to include some personal stories about living with this syndrome. Thanks!
At A Glance: A T Banter, RightHear, More Planks, Books vs Movies, ABC Braille, Bird Feeder, Key 2 Access, Rumors, Moth Balls & Peppermint, Mug Cakes, Riddle and Brain Buster!
Sponsor of the Month
A T Banter is a weekly podcast featuring a balanced and entertaining look at Assistive Technology and the people who use it, with insights and discussions from varied technology specialists and those in the community.
Find us at: www.atbanter.com
Movers & Shakers
By Mollie Cole, Community and Content Manager
From exploring new museums to wandering around a convention center, it’s easy to get lost even if you know the street address of where you are. While sighted people can wrestle with a map or posted signs to navigate once inside a building, this isn’t an option for those who are blind and visually impaired.
RightHear aims to fix that.
RightHear is a comprehensive indoor orientation & mobility solution based on a free mobile app for both Apple and Android. The app automatically notify users when they are near an Accessible Zone (a venue equipped with the RightHear solution). Once inside, the app automatically connects to tiny, smart Bluetooth sensors that are strategically installed around the venue. The Bluetooth sensors, called Accessible Spots, push out helpful, relevant information about points of interests near that particular Accessible Spot. To hear real-time information about points of interest in a certain area, users simply have to point their phone in the direction they would like to go in. While much of this information is related to orientation and mobility, it also includes details such as opening hours, special sales, or menu items in a restaurant or cafe. Common points of interest include restrooms, elevators and escalators, store entrances, or ATM’s, but the app and platform are flexible enough to be installed and used inside of nearly any venue.
Each RightHear Accessible Spot is professionally installed and then customized by the organization in that location, so specific and updated information is always available. The information is written according to the Wayfindr Open Standard for audio navigation, so it is clear, detailed, and designed for orientation and mobility. Wayfindr is a non-profit organization that is setting standards for digital navigation. Basically, they are working to create an international standard for navigation apps for people who are blind/visually impaired. This includes an accessible interface, how navigation instructions should be phrased, and what kinds of instructions need to be included in navigation software. We worked with them at, Enabling Summit recently in Washington, DC to provide input on their recently released guidelines and further develop the standard.
Another feature of RightHear is its connectivity outside of Accessible Zones. The RightHear app is connected with BlindSquare, Google Maps, Uber, Gett, and Moovit so that users can literally go door-to-door with whatever mode of transport they prefer. RightHear also allows users to call for assistance directly from inside the app with just the touch of a button. They will be connected with the venue’s designated accessibility staff (or other assistant) to answer questions and provide personalized support.
For example, when it comes to Uber, as well as our other transportation options, essentially the RightHear app will directly open those apps. Users who are sitting at home can open the RightHear app and then select a nearby Accessible Zone that they would like to travel to from a list provided. Once selected, they will be presented with a menu of transportation options, Uber included, to take them to their chosen Accessible Zone. Once the user chooses which mode of transportation they would like to use, RightHear will automatically open the app and fill in the destination information. From there, it is very easy for a user to simply call the Uber or use whichever other mode of transportation or navigation they have chosen. Once inside of the venue, the focus of RightHear is orientation and mobility – we don’t provide turn-by-turn directions to a certain point of interest, but rather act as a “verbal directory” that allows users to hear all of the relevant, helpful information they need to find their way independently and confidently just like any sighted person would.
RightHear was co-founded in 2015 by Idan Meir and Gil Elgrably. Originally, they were working with the same Bluetooth technology for a different application, but it wasn’t really going anywhere. Once they brainstormed and continued working with the system, they had an idea: apply it to the blind/visually impaired community to help support orientation & mobility. They reworked their system and their app for this concept, got some feedback on it, and realized they were really onto something special that hadn’t been done before indoors.
At RightHear we believe that inclusion, starts with accessibility and therefore our aim is to access public spaces (mostly indoor) for people who are blind or visually impaired. Our dream is to see more and more people who are blind or visually impaired traveling independently and acquiring orientation by themselves in public spaces.
RightHear is based in Ra’anana, Israel and rapidly expanding around the world. It has already accessed hundreds of venues in Israel as well as dozens more in the US, Canada, and Europe. Within Israel, RightHear has made major universities, shopping malls, and municipalities fully accessible through their solution and hopes to follow the same model in other countries.
For those who are blind and visually impaired, the future of independent and comfortable travel is right now, RightHear.
To learn more, visit: Right-Hear.com
Like RightHear on Facebook at: RightHearApp
A Beautiful And Unique Experience
I used to dream about this: Getting to the mall by myself with a taxi, walking into the mall and knowing exactly what’s around me. I want to purchase something and I don’t have to wait for someone to come with me! I don’t even have to wait until a sighted person comes by to ask for help! How exciting is that?
So two years ago, two guys called me and said they invented something that sounded a lot like my dream. They let me try the prototype and then sat me down for an interview that would have made any police officer proud! They asked questions and took notes and wanted to know about the tiniest preferences I had. And I found they really listened and they continue to do so.
This is a company that listens to its users and tries to improve its product constantly. They are committed to the product and their personal vision is truly to make our lives better.
I have used the app whenever possible and love it. It gives me a clear map of my surroundings and the fact that I can point my phone in any direction around me to get a 360 degree perspective is very exciting.
I hope this solution will become available in more countries as time goes by and allow more blind people to enjoy its benefits. The one thing I am certain of is that the app will only get better!
Tali Sarnetzky, Israel
Exercise, does a body good
By Dan Kiely
Welcome back to Exercise Does a Body Good. I received a few emails for more planking, so I have come up with four more planking exercises. Also, the Health Tip for this month is on heart rate for fat burning, interval training, and aerobic/cardiovascular training.
Exercise #1: Planking jacks.
Planking jacks is similar to jumping jacks, except you are in the push- up planking position. You are probably wondering how do you do a jumping jack in a push-up plank position.
Starting position: Push-up plank. Hand shoulder width apart, with fingers extended straight out. Arms and elbows straight, chest, hips, and knees off the ground, with your feet hip width apart.
Keep your hands still while you jump your feet apart, and then jump them back together again. Continue these movements for 30 seconds, or longer.
Note: When doing this exercise, you are killing two birds with 1 stone. You are incorporating cardiovascular conditioning with core conditioning.
Exercise #2: Reverse Plank, called the slide.
Remember what is good for the front of the body, is good for the back of the body. I called this the slide plank because it looks like you are a slide on a playground.
Starting position: Hands on the floor, with fingers pointing towards your feet. Arms and elbows straight, and shoulder width apart. Feet are hips width apart, and they can be planted on the floor, or resting on your heels with toes pointing straight up.
Using your arms, raise your body off the ground, so the only body parts on the floor are your hands and feet. Hold this position for 30 seconds or longer.
Note: This slide plank works the following muscles; triceps, shoulders, upper back, hips, and hamstrings.
Exercise #3: Side Plank in forearm planking position.
This is a plank that you will perform while on your side.
Starting position: Start on your right side, leaning on your right elbow, with your forearm, hand, and fingers pointing towards the right. Your body should be in a straight side lying position. you can either stack your left foot on top of your right foot, or you can put your left foot in front of your right foot.
Once in this position, lift your hips and upper body off the floor and hold for 30 seconds or longer. Turn on to your left side, and repeat the same movement.
Note: The Side plank works your shoulder muscles, your external oblique’s, and your hips. This exercise will challenge your balance, so good luck with this one.
Exercise #4: Bird Dog Plank.
This is called a bird dog plank because you will look like a dog hunting for his hunter’s bird and pointing.
Starting position: Get on all fours. Hands shoulder width apart with Fingers pointing straight ahead, and elbows and arm straight. Knees bent at a 90-degree angle and hip width apart. Head in the neutral position, aligned with your neck and back, not looking up. This is the dog position, woof woof.
Lift your right hand and left foot up off the floor. Your right hand should point straight ahead, at that “bird”. Your left foot and leg will be off the floor and pointing towards the back of your body. Hold this position for a count of 2, and reverse position; Lift and hold left hand and right foot off the ground for a count of 2. Do this for 30 seconds, alternating right hand, left foot and then left hand, right foot. Good luck bird do watchers.
Note: Again, the side and bird dog plank will kill 2 birds with one stone. They will work your core muscles, and your balance.
Health Tips for this month: Formula for measuring your heart rate.
Subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are forty years old, subtract it from 220 to get 180. This number is your maximum heart rate.
For fat burning aerobic training, it is recommended to maintain a heart rate at 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Therefore, in this case, 108 heart beats per minute. Would be the goal.
For interval aerobic training, you want to increase and decrease your heart rate over a period of time, say 30 minutes. you would train at 60% of your maximum heart rate, for a period of 3 minutes, for example. Then you would increase your heart rate to 80 percent for the next three minutes. you would work at 60% or 104 heart beats per minute for 3 minutes, and then work at 80% or 144 heart beats per minute, throughout the total time period.
For aerobic/cardiovascular training, it is recommended to train at 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Again, using this example, 144 heart beats per minute would be your goal.
So, good luck, and get moving!
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton
Hello again fellow readers,
Which is better? The book? Or the movie? For me, hands down the book. Or so I thought. Let’s head down south, to look at 2 books, both highly acclaimed in both movie and print. But, both very different from the printed page to the silver screen. I personally was very surprised at the difference. What do you think?
So, grab your iced tea and a fan and let’s go!
Gone with the Wind
Written by Margaret Mitchell
Reading time: 38 hours and43 minutes
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Margaret Mitchell’s great novel of the South is one of the most popular books ever written. Within six months of its publication in 1936, Gone with the Wind had sold a million copies. To date, it has been translated into 25 languages, and more than 28 million copies have been sold.
Here are the characters that have become symbols of passion and desire: darkly handsome Rhett Butler and flirtatious Scarlett O’Hara. Behind them stand their gentler counterparts: Ashley Wilkes and Melanie Hamilton. As the lives and affairs of these absorbing characters play out against the tumult of the Civil War, Gone With the Wind reaches dramatic heights that have swept generations of fans off their feet.
My comments; Wow, the book was so different. So much more, more people, more settings, just more. I was very surprised. Margaret Mitchell’s story in itself is fascinating. What a lady and what a story!
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Café
Written by Fannie Flagg
Reading time: 9 hours and37 minutes
Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women – of the irrepressibly dare devilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth – who back in the ’30s ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Woebegone offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present – for Evelyn and for us – will never be quite the same again.
My comments; Once again, quite a change from book to movie. The book came across harsher, but maybe that was the times then. This one does have strong language in it, but what a look at the past.
Stay cool fellow book worms and I’ll see you next month!
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni
Thank you for joining me on another ride on the ever smooth and scenic braille highway! Wishing you an awesome and safe month of August! In this month’s article, I will be once again advocating for all blind people young and old, to learn at the very least the A B C’s of braille. I had the opportunity to speak with 2 sisters one blind & the other sighted while sitting at the departure gate at SeaTac airport in Seattle Washington. I was pleasantly surprised since Rachael the blind sister, squashed all the arguments I have heard from people who became blind later in life and all the excuses they use when debating the merits of learning braille. I hope you enjoy what I have learned and maybe have it make a positive effect on your life.
As the nice airport staff deposited me in a chair near my departure gate, I tried making myself comfortable for the two hour wait until my flight in to Vancouver was scheduled to depart. I was wearing my ever fashionable and great conversational starter t-shirt both in print and braille that advertises The Blind Perspective. Then a soft-spoken lady asked me where I was headed to. When I told her Vancouver, she mentioned that her and her sister were heading to Los Angeles to catch a flight to Australia. Then she introduced me to her sister Rachel, who happens to be blind. Well, after giving the Perspective a huge plug, they gave me assurances that they would both become subscribers of the newsletter maybe even signing up during their layover in Los Angeles. We began having a friendly chat.
Rachel is 57 years old and Marlene is 53. Rachel became blind at 42 years from complications brought on from Diabetes. She attended a rehabilitation school for the blind and, while there learned braille. Granted she only learned the uncontracted braille, but here is where I became fascinated with her story. Many of the arguments I have heard over the years from those who did not choose to learn braille later in life, were all pretty much thrown out the window by Rachel’s story. I played devil’s advocate with my questions to Rachel and I informed her of this fact. Below you will see some arguments Rachel uses for learning braille and my argument back to her.
Rachel’s Statement: Learning braille allows me to play cards with my sighted peers.
My Argument: One can use electronic cards with one’s IPhone to identify the cards.
Rachael’s Reply: Why complicate things by needing to have your IPhone along with a listening device, either ear buds or a Bluetooth headset. For example, on this flight to Australia, I can simply pull out my deck of braille playing cards and play a game with my sister or even solitaire. No need for me to take the time to look for my iPhone and search for my headset. Simplification is my friend in this world of too many gadgets and complications.
Rachael’s Statement: Jotting down phone numbers, emails, or quick notes are made much easier by knowing braille.
My Argument: It is much easier to use a computer, recorder, or a smart phone.
Rachael’s Reply: The thing with electronics is they all need electricity. How many times does one’s IPhone run out of it’s charge at the most in opportune time? If using a recorder, you may have to sort through many notes before finding the actual one you want. When using the computer, you need to listen to the speech while maintaining a conversation on the phone. By using braille you can talk and jot down the information simultaneously.
Rachael’s Statement: Labelling documents, clothing, and important items is easier with braille.
My Argument: Easily done by apps such as color identifier, read documents with KNFB Reader and the easiest ask for sighted assistants.
Rachael’s Reply: Braille equals independents! If I am at the local grocery store, I am able to quickly take out my discount member’s card, amongst others, since I have labeled it in braille. The KNFB reader is great to read printed letters but it is clumsy to go through many pages to locate the one I am looking for. By placing a document in my braille writer, and labeling it, for example, water bill June 2017, 75 dollars, I can keep track of bills and the like. The same logic applies with identifying clothing. My app is great to initially identify my clothing. But, creating a braille label for my clothes is faster and much more efficient to identify in the future. As for sighted help, they are not always around or willing. It is better to be independent rather than having to rely on someone all the time for assistance.
Rachel’s Statement: I am able to use elevators independently.
My Argument: Most elevators have the audio announcements, or just use the elevator during peak times and someone sighted can help.
Rachael’s Reply: One time my husband was in the shower and I had scheduled a ride. The ride was early and so I yelled at my husband that I was leaving. I went down the elevator all on my own pressing l for lobby. It seems so insignificant but at the end of the day, it helps to enable blind people to be more independent.
Rachel’s Statement: I am of the mindset that anything worth having is usually very challenging to get. A piece of my independents has been re-captured by me learning braille.
My Argument: I am old, my fingers won’t be able to read the dots, there are apps for that, the bottom line is I am surrounded by sighted family and friends.
Rachel’s Reply: I prefer doing things myself whenever possible. It is quicker and less stressful. Like I said before, life is already too complicated so why complicate things even further.
As many of you who know me know that I am quite shy especially when around People I do not know, so you can imagine how easy and friendly it was to speak with Marlene and Rachel. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Marlene and Rachel for their kindness and for their company. I am on a quest to interview people who use braille either for work or on a daily basis. If you are interested in a q & a session, or can recommend someone to me, please use the email at the top of this article and let me know. Until September, when we travel this braille Highway again, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!!!
Editor’s Note: Nat recently did an article on accessible currency. Well here is an update on a new 10 pound note with tactile features. Great Britain recently unveiled the design for its new ten pound note, which includes raised dots and lines. This will make it possible to identify the denomination without sight. The new note also features a portrait of renowned English author Jane Austen.
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe
Welcome once again to Kaleidoscope of Crafts for August. This month’s craft should appeal to readers who live where the climate is currently getting warmer, but even if you are reading this during the autumn or winter months of the year, I am sure that most backyard birds will appreciate the birdseed wreath treat I share below any time of the year.
You will need:
9 inch Bundt or ring pan
2 packets gelatin
1 cup warm water
6 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 and a half cups flour
8 cups wild birdseed
Fresh or frozen cranberries
Ribbon or rope
What to do:
1. Mix 2 packets of unflavored gelatin with 1 cup of warm water in a large bowl.
2. Add in 6 tbsp of light corn syrup and 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix until smooth.
3. Slowly add 8 cups of birdseed, stirring as you go. Note, it might take a while to get all the bird seed coated. Keep at it!
4. Lightly coat the inside of the Bundt pan with cooking spray.
5. Add a few fresh or frozen cranberries to the pan.
6. Spoon the birdseed mixture into the Bundt pan, pressing down firmly.
7. Let the wreath dry for 24 hours.
8. Carefully remove the wreath from the Bundt pan and loop ribbon or rope through to hang it in the garden.
Happy crafting, until next month.
By Cheryl Spencer
July was a busy month for me, most of which centered around getting ready for, and attending the NFB national Convention in Orlando, FL. The highlight for me other than all the interesting workshops is the exhibit hall where once a year technology from all over the world is congregated in one place.
My focus this month, and let me tell you it was a tough choice, is on an organization based in Canada. The company is called Key 2 Access. They offer a service not yet available in the US. They have designed a tool in the form of a app for smart phone users and for non-smart phone users, a remote. What is does is aid a person in pressing the button on the pole to request the cross light. This allows the user to maintain alinement and keep their orientation in order to travel in the direction they are heading.
For example, if you are requesting to cross Main Street, the app will let you know when Main Street is being crossed. You simply point and click the button on the smart phone or the remote and it activates your cross button.
This company can provide this service at the same cost as the buttons currently being used. So, everyone would benefit from this technology. Think how much safer travel would be especially for those of us that have trouble with directional hearing. So far, it is only available in Canada but if we all went to our local governmental offices and let them know this technology exist, and can be installed for the same as other crosswalk buttons, they could go with the more accessible option. They also have boxes that can be retro fitted on current buttons as well as their own buttons that have all the features currently being used as well as having wireless access.
I am excited at the prospect of being able to use my iPhone and point it in the direction I want to go, tap, and have the app indicate when that street is currently being crossed. Key 2 Access promises to make traveling safer for all pedestrians!
To learn more about this amazing technology, go to: www.Key2Access.com
By Jim Morgan
Like the title of a classic Stevie Nicks album, I thought we’d discuss Rumors this time. There are two I’d like to focus on. Specifically, the demise of both the CD-Rom, or, if you prefer, “burnt CD”, and the MP3 Music File format.
Let’s discuss the CD first. It is probably right to say that they are on their way out due to the use of Solid State Drives and downloading files from the Internet. In case your memory is a little faulty, a Solid-State Drive, or SSD, is a Hard Drive that doesn’t use the classic platter/read-write head that is prevalent in traditional hard Drives. The best example of an SSD is a Flash, or Thumb Drive.
Let’s discuss the major limitations first. You see, a CD-R can hold a maximum of about 700 MB and a DVD-R can hold a maximum of about 4.77 GB. Also, once the information is written, and the disc “finalized” so that other computers can read it, the information can’t be changed. Before you knowledgeable people out there say, “Hey, wait a minute, there is a disc that can be rewritten”, I’ll agree that the CD-RW (RW stands for Rewritable) can be overwritten after finalization. However, it can only be done up to 1000 times and still only holds about 700 MB. Contrast this with the SSD in the form of a Flash, or Thumb, Drive. The smallest SSD’s out there hold 1 GB and I’ve seen them up to, and including, 2 TB. Also, because it’s a Hard Drive, it can be written and rewritten to your heart’s content. However, this doesn’t mean that the CD-R and DVD-R (the R, incidentally, stands for Recordable) won’t be with us for some time to come.
On the positive side, first of all, is the fact that it is a much more secure means for exchanging files since the “original” file can’t be overwritten. Also, it’s much cheaper than current Flash Drives. For example, as of a few weeks ago, one could purchase 100 CD-R’s and the paper sleeves to go with them for about 22 dollars. Conversely, the same number of 1 GB Flash Drives would run approximately 200 dollars. For those out there that are interested and, like Madam Editor, might be slightly Math Challenged, the CD-R’s are just over 1/10th, or exactly 11%, the price of the Flash Drives. This is particularly of note to software providers that still send programs out on CD’s even if the software is available for download online. Please remember that not all software is available for download. Also, due to its security, a CD version of a program is more desired by some so that they don’t have to worry about accidentally losing the installation due to a faulty storage medium, like the above Flash Drive, or an accidental keystroke. I know that I’ve sung the praises of Flash Drives in the past, but they can, like any other Hard Drive, fail over time. In fact, I just recently lost a flash drive. It said that it needed to be formatted so I did it. Not only did the format not complete, but when I tried to do it again, it wouldn’t even start. This kind of problem is really not possible with a CD.
So, in my humble opinion, while it is true that the CD used for data is probably on the way out, due to a number of factors, it won’t be anytime soon. As a further example, I reference the venerable VCR. As I understand it, the very last new VCR was manufactured either last year or the year before; I can’t remember which off the top of my head. Keep in mind that the VCR was introduced around 1983 or so; again, I might be off due to my own faulty memory. Assuming I’m correct there, that means that the “lifespan” of the VCR was approximately 32 or 33 years. If my memory serves me correctly, the CD-RW drive didn’t become widely used until the very late 1980’s to early 1990’s. In other words, I really think there is a way to go yet.
Let’s now talk about the MP3 file format. While I’ll admit that the M4A file that Apple and I-Tunes use, as well as the newer MP4 file format, are getting more and more prevalent, I still don’t think that they are as widely used as the MP3 format. Part of this is the fact that the MP3 file has been around for a lot longer and, while the M4A file is rapidly gaining a higher use due to the number of Apple products out there now, I believe the percentages still strongly favor the MP3 format. If I understand the technology correctly, the MP4 file format is primarily for files with Video in them; there really isn’t much improvement in the fidelity of Music Files. Based on my own experience, the same can be said of M4A files. In some ways, we’re kind of talking about slightly different file formats not unlike the “battle” between the emerging DVD formats several years ago. Incidentally, the iTunes software, while downloading music in the M4A format, has a utility on the File menu to convert the files to MP3 format.
So, again, while it is possible, due to its age and emerging newer file formats, the MP3 may eventually be replaced, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Additionally, when it DOES finally happen, I very strongly suspect that the digital music players out there will either have a utility to convert from MP3 format or, simply, be able to play them like EVERYTHING does now.
Hopefully, I’ve assuaged the minds of some, possibly, panicky people out there. While I state categorically that the above are my own humble opinions, I truly believe that history bears me out and gives credence to those opinions. However, if this wasn’t enough for you and you have further questions or, even better, topic ideas, please send me an E-mail. Please, however, don’t send me bunches of messages to tell me just how wrong I am and that I have no !@#$% clue what I’m talking about; as I said, the above are my own opinions and, god knows, that I’m at least, as fallible as everyone else, if not more so. I really don’t want to get into an “argument” over E-mail about something that none of us truly knows the correct answer to. So, if you wish to send me an E-mail, just use my address above. For any questions, I will always try to respond, one way or the other, as soon as possible. Happy Computing!
The Rotating Trio: Potpourri
Moth Balls and Peppermint!
What a contrast in smells, read on:
Although mothballs are credited with preventing residency of unwanted attic, shed and inside visitors, maybe not. They are only affective when used in an air-tight container or bag when preventing moth damage to clothing. They give off a gas that does the trick. Yes, they stink, and can be harmful to many people with breathing problems or allergies. Try airing your coats, etc. out of doors before wearing, or in the dryer on low heat with dryer sheets. Mothballs are made of an insecticide so the ingestion of them are harmful to small children and animals who may find them interesting when used beneath cabinets where mice are expected. You are just stinking up the house and risking the health of pets and children unnecessarily.
Unnecessarily, yes, because mice don’t mind the smell, but a more inviting one does bother their nose in a major way. The smell is peppermint. Yes, peppermint oil, bought at a pharmacist, won’t kill them, but takes up the welcome mat. Use a cotton swab and saturate with the oil. Use this along the baseboards, edge of the cabinet from floor to counter and along the back of the counter and areas where mice are detected or expected. Place saturated swabs in out-of-sight corners. You will need to add some traps for finishing off the job, but use chocolate or peanut butter rather than cheese.
Peppermint oil used in the same way as above, will also stop the march of the ant brigade. This one I’ve tried with good results when the chalk lines and various cans of ant spray had no positive affect.
Sniff, and it isn’t even the Holidays, Later!
If you have any suggestions of a topic or comment, please contact me at my address located at the top of this article.
When you have a craving for something sweet and you don’t have a lot of time, or don’t want to make an entire cake or batch of brownies, why not make a mug cake for one, in minutes? Here are two mug cake recipes for you to try. My kids like the first one, and I like the second one. Enjoy!
One Minute Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake
Moist chocolate cake with a peanut butter center bakes up in a microwave mug in just one minute! The liquid batter rises and bakes into a rich, gooey chocolate cake with a molten peanut butter center.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking powder until thoroughly combined with no streaks of flour or cocoa powder remaining.
2. Blend in milk, butter, and vanilla until batter is smooth.
3. Pour batter into a 14-ounce (or larger) microwave-safe mug with straight sides.
4. Combine peanut butter and chocolate chips and dollop into the center of the mug, gently pressing down until even with the top of the batter.
5. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
A tall, cylindrical mug with straight (not angled) sides will ensure that the cake bakes evenly. I found a 14-ounce mug to be the perfect size to allow the cake to rise while baking without overflowing. (I filled my mug to the top with water and then transferred the water to a measuring cup to determine its capacity.) If you use a smaller mug, you may want to bake the cake on top of a plate or paper towel to catch any possible overflow.
The strength of individual microwaves can vary. The first time you make this recipe, be prepared to experiment a bit to make sure that 1 minute is the perfect length of baking time. The nice thing about this cake is that even if it is undercooked, you don’t have to worry about raw eggs!
As an alternative to serving straight out of the mug, you may instead spray the mug with non-stick cooking spray before adding the batter, and then carefully overturn the cake onto a plate once baked.
Lemon Cloud Mug Cake
This lemon mug cake is so light, it’s like eating a cloud. It has just the right amount of lemon flavor and is paired with an airy whipped cream frosting and lemon peel curls
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1. Combine all cake ingredients except lemon zest in an oversized microwave-safe mug. Mix with a small whisk until batter is smooth.
2. Add lemon zest and mix until batter is smooth.
3. Cook in microwave for about 1 minute. If cake is not done, heat an additional 15 seconds.
Let cake cool a few minutes before eating. Cake is best consumed while still warm or within a few hours of it being cooked.
Frosting: Serves two (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel curls or lemon zest
Place the whipping cream and sugar in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed until peaks form. Top cake with whipped cream and lemon peels. Cake is best consumed while still warm or within a few hours of being cooked.
The frosting recipe makes enough for 2 because it is very hard to whip heavy cream for only one serving. You can save the rest, eat it, or make 2 cakes instead of one.
This mug cake will generally not rise to the rim of an oversized mug after it is finished cooking. Because microwaves vary greatly, I recommend using an oversized mug on your first try to avoid it bubbling over in the microwave. If it seems like your cake doesn’t rise too high when cooking in the microwave, you can always switch out for a smaller mug if you want your cake to have the overflowing look. You can also 1.5 times the recipe as well for the bigger mugs, but it may be a bit much for one person.
Riddle & Brain Buster
By Alex Smart
Take away my first letter, and I still sound the same. Take away my last letter, I still sound the same. Even take away my letter in the middle, I will still sound the same. I am a five letter word. What am I?
Answer to July’s riddle
Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?
In each of the following sentences, add an S at the end of the word that goes in the first blank to get a new word that goes in the second blank.
Example: Now that their rival is out of business the local toy store plans to (jack) up prices on (jacks) and other items.
*Though the farmer’s wife had two entire bushels of corn to BLANK, she said awe BLANK, that’s not so bad.
*It’s almost BLANK for people of BLANK not to help the poor.
*The English BLANK wearing leather BLANK fooled everyone into thinking he was a cowboy.
*The Firecracker was a BLANK but the man in the fancy BLANK kept trying to light it anyways.
*Just thinking about getting honey directly from a BLANK gives me the BLANK.
Answer to July’s Brain Buster
What common word does Dinar appear in?
The Blind Perspective
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