Out-Of-Sight News and Views

Issue #20
August 1, 2014

In This Issue

Greetings from Our President
Word on the Street
Guess Who Took another Trip around the Sun
Out-Of-Sight Gathering
Member Spotlight
U.S. Currency Reader Program - I Bill Talking Banknote Identifier
Finger Reader for the Blind
The Gintautas Burba Memorial Award
Reminiscing on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11
On the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, here are five fast facts
How To Live Real Life and Determination
The Blind Outperform Sighted People When Using Haptic Technology
Braille Isnt Embattled - We are on the Cusp of a Golden Age for Blind People
Interesting Facts About This Month
The Bookshelf -
iSpy - Researcher exposes backdoor in iPhones and iPads
Blind Mice Cured by Running
Deaf Montreal boy gains hearing after experimental surgery - Surgical implant in brain stem breaks sound barrier for 3-year-old
Vision loss patients benefit from personalized gene therapy using patient-specific stem cells
Healthy Choice, Healthy Living - Health benefits of getting rid of clutter
Severe Obesity Shortens Life
Can You Overdose on Caffeine?
Eye movements reveal difference between love and lust
Staying sedentary may be just as harmful as exercise is beneficial
The high price of insomnia
And Survey Says
The Recipe Box -
Dear Betty Blunt
Think Tank
A Round of Applause
What is happening on Out-Of-Sight

Greetings from Our President

Greetings to all our members!

The summer is slipping by so quickly and we are already into August.

Some of our Out-Of-Sight family have been going on vacations to see other family members and friends and having a great time. There has been a lot of activity on the site with several new members coming aboard and becoming involved in games and events that are taking place. Again our news letter contributors have submitted articles for this issue that are of interest to many of us to enjoy reading at our leisure.

Also, it is time to start thinking about our annual fall auction and taking a look around our homes to see if we have something that we would like to donate to the auction. Every year there has been several items that have sparked our interest and we can hardly wait until the day of the auction to see what treasure we can pick up while helping to keep the site financially stable for many years to come.

We have so many things to be thankful for and are continuing to make friends from around the world which will last a life time. It is because of each of you that Out-Of-Sight continues to be truly the place to be.

And as always, if you want to see anything else included in this type of format, write an email to:

Best regards,
Lee Richards


To navigate quickly to the different articles in this newsletter using JAWS, System Access, or Window Eyes, press the letter H to move through the headings. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H.

Word on the Street

Got any news for us? We would love to hear what is going on in your world, so please keep us up to date and write to:

We look forward to sharing your news with our extended family, here on Out-Of-Sight!

Guess Who Just Took Another Trip Around the Sun?

Help us celebrate our August birthdays!
Please help us build our birthday list, by sending your Username, first and last name, date of birth, (year optional), and where you live, to:

Out-Of-Sight Gathering

Hello Out-Of-Sight members, family, and friends,

We have been tossing around the idea lately of having another Out-Of-Sight Gathering, and would like to know your thoughts about it. It would be great for us to meet each other and share fun and laughter for a few days, and get to know each other a little better. What do ya say? Sound like a good idea? Please fill out the below survey, and let us know your thoughts.


Member Spotlight

by: Karen Santiago

The spotlight had soared 1,580 miles from Laughton, Oklahoma to San Francisco, California to shine upon Kathy Mertz, August OOS member spotlight of the month. Kathy is a native Californian, born in Hollywood. She recently celebrated a milestone birthday. Ah, I know how old she is and I will reveal it at the conclusion of this article, so read on.

Kathy’s father had a PhD in engineering and was a professor. When Kathy was 8 years old the family went to Australia for a year while her father taught college, as a result of being awarded the Fulbright Fellowship from the US government. She attended Townsenhouse School, a boarding school for the blind, while there. She has very fond memories of that year. The people called her the Little American Girl.

Kathy attended the California School for the Blind in Berkeley, where she knew that some day she would come back to the bay area and settle in San Francisco, and, to her joy, she has..

Kathy graduated from Sacramento State College with a bachelors degree in music. She absolutely adores classical music. She had aspirations of becoming a professional singer, even wanting to perform opera. While growing up she was soloist in the high school choir and soloed in church services.

While studying music, she realized that it would be beneficial for her to learn how to play an instrument. Well, she chose the cello at age 21, and that took over her thoughts of singing, falling in love with it. Becoming a string player as an adult was quite challenging; most start as young children. Her mother was very encouraging and helped Kathy with her orientation to learning the cello, such as placing a guide post in the instrument to keep the bow stroke straight, until the bow arm and hand became sensitive to the proper motions. She said that her first teacher was horrible, but that did not discourage her. She studied under a renowned cellist in Los Angeles. Then in 1978 she moved to San Francisco and studied under Margaret Rowell, a wonderful instructor and delightful person. Kathy did some freelance work with her cello playing.

Kathy has been in San Francisco since 1978. She is a die hard Giants fan, that is baseball for those of you who do not know. So when the Giants are playing, Kathy is watching.

Kathy took computer courses from the Hadley School, just 8 years ago. This is where she learned most of her now useful computer skills. It was also through Hadley in 2009 that she became involved in the volunteer ESL program for Chinese students. She would meet Chinese students on the Hadley chat site and help them to learn, understand, and speak in English. Kathy did this formally through Hadley for 2 years, and now she conducts the sessions directly through Skype.

Another love of Kathys is chess. Her father taught her how to play when she was 9 years old. She said that he was relentless. He did not let her win, so when she finally did win on her own, she was ecstatic. Although Kathy says she is not a master player, she states that she is an above average chess player.

She is an owner of a chess chat list, named Skype-Chess, and a chess tournament director. People can learn about chess, and can play a friendly game with one another. She holds three chess tournaments a year. These tournaments last roughly 4 months and consist of five rounds of three weeks each. There are usually 20 to 30 participants in these tournaments.

Kathy has been with Out Of Sight since nearly the beginning. She was on another site but due to unpleasantries she decided to just stay with OOS. Wordburst was her first game she hosted. Not quite sure how long she has been hosting it, but guesses about 3 ½ - 4 years. Wordburst, for those of you who do not know, is an anagram game. She comes up with words, all under a basic theme, and creates her own anagrams. The object of this game is to spell the anagrams from the given word, and hope it is on her list. Shortly afterwards,she started hosting Jeopardy. This game, along with wordburst, takes quite some time in order to prepare. She listens to actual Jeopardy games, takes questions directly from the original game, translates them into braille, and then plays host. Her latest game is called GHOST, a favorite childhood game of hers. For those of you who want to brush up on your spelling, then this is the game to attend, just do not become the ghost.

Kathy loves to host these games on Out Of Sight. She admits that she does not attend many other games, but occasionally she may pop up in Kringo. She extends an open invitation to all to come in and try out her games. She says everyone is welcomed to come, learn, and have fun.

Before I let you all in on how old Kathy is, she says that she has yet to grow up. She may feel the aches and pains of aging, but she is definitely young in mind and spirit. Kathy, our member spotlight for this month is a young 70 years old, yep, I did not believe it either.

U.S. Currency Reader Program - I Bill Talking Banknote Identifier

Submitted by: Karen Santiago

As an interim measure in advance of issuing tactile-enhanced Federal Reserve notes, the BEP is providing currency readers, free of charge, to eligible blind and visually impaired individuals.

The BEP recently announced its distribution plans for the U.S. Currency Reader Program. Details of the announcement can be found in a press release issued on Thursday, July 3, 2014, and another released on Monday, July 14, 2014.

The U.S. Currency Reader Program will launch in two phases:

Pilot: Beginning September 2, 2014, in partnership with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, (NLS) the BEP will initiate a four-month pilot where NLS patrons can pre-order a currency reader. The pilot program allows the government to test its ordering and distribution processes and gauge demand for currency readers. To receive a currency reader, eligible individuals who are currently patrons of NLS need only call 1-888-NLS-READ. The account will be noted and a currency reader will be delivered to the address on file.

National Rollout: Currency readers will be widely available to all U.S. citizens, or persons legally residing in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired, starting January 2, 2015. Individuals who are not NLS patrons must submit an application, signed by a competent authority who can certify eligibility. Applications will be available on this website and processed for non-patrons of NLS beginning January 2, 2015.

Additional information about the U.S. Currency Reader Program and about the currency reader device can be found in the links below. The BEP encourages organizations that support the blind and visually impaired community to distribute these materials, or to incorporate the information provided into individualized communications.


For additional questions or comments about the U.S. Currency Reader Program you may call:
Toll-Free: (844) 815-9388
or email meaningful.access@bep.gov.

Finger Reader for the Blind

Submitted by: Rich De Steno

FingerReader is a ring visually-impaired people can wear that reads to them in real time. It can read papers, books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office. Reading is as easy as pointing the finger at text. Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information. The device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script, said Roy Shilkrot, who is developing the device at the MIT Media Lab.

For Jerry Berrier, 62, who was born blind, the promise of the FingerReader is its portability and offer of real-time functionality at school, a doctor's office and restaurants. When I go to the doctor's office, there may be forms that I wanna read before I sign them, Berrier said. He said there are other optical character recognition devices on the market for those with vision impairments, but none that he knows of that will read in real time.

Berrier manages training and evaluation for a federal program that distributes technology to low-income people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who have lost their sight and hearing. He works from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with. I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it, Berrier said.

Pattie Maes, an MIT professor who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like reading with the tip of your finger and it's a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now. Developing the gizmo has taken three years of software coding, experimenting with various designs and working on feedback from a test group of visually impaired people. Much work remains before it is ready for the market, Shilkrot said, including making it work on cellphones.Shilkrot said developers believe they will be able to affordably market the FingerReader but he could not yet estimate a price. The potential market includes some of the 11.2 million people in the United States with vision impairment, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Access to text not available in Braille

Current technology used in homes and offices offers cumbersome scanners that must process the desired script before it can be read aloud by character-recognition software installed on a computer or smartphone, Shilkrot said. The FingerReader would not replace Braille — the system of raised dots that form words, interpreted by touch. Instead, Shilkrot said, the new device would enable users to access a vast number of books and other materials that are not currently available in Braille.

Developers had to overcome unusual challenges to help people with visual impairments move their reading fingers along a straight line of printed text that they could not see. Users also had to be alerted at the beginning and end of the reading material.

Their solutions? Audio cues in the software that processes information from the FingerReader and vibration motors in the ring.

The FingerReader can read papers, books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices, but it has problems with text on a touch screen, said Shilkrot. That's because touching the screen with the tip of the finger would move text around, producing unintended results. Disabling the touch-screen function eliminates the problem, he said.

Berrier said affordable pricing could make the FingerReader a key tool to help people with vision impairment integrate into the modern information economy. Any tool that we can get that gives us better access to printed material helps us to live fuller, richer, more productive lives, Berrier said.

The Gintautas Burba Memorial Award

by: Charles Rivard

Anyone who has been a US BCA member for any length of time, or has taken the Hadley chess courses, is aware of the contributions Bob Rathbun has made to our organization.

The USBCA Executive Committee recently presented Bob with the first Gintas Burba Memorial Award honoring his years of service as tournament director. Gintas Burba ran our correspondence tournaments in the 1970s and early 1980s, and passed away in 2003.

The plaque that Bob received reads, in print and braille:

The United States Braille Chess Association presents the Gintautas Burba Memorial Award to Robert Rathbun in recognition of his outstanding service as the correspondence tournament director from 1989 to 2007.

Please join us in thanking Bob for his service to our organization.

Reminiscing on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11

By Vanessa Shanahan - The Weather Network
Submitted by Roger Khouri

The Apollo 11 moon landing was a moment of unity rarely experienced in our modern world. Anyone who had access to a television was waiting eagerly in front of it, while the ones who did not, lined up in public spaces to find one and celebrate this achievement.

It may be difficult to imagine that type of excitement today as unfettered, 24-hour access to information on demand is the norm; whereas the airing of the Apollo 11 mission was an event to be viewed in one night. At TheWeatherNetwork.com we too got a taste of this special moment after posing the question ---Where were you when--- in our -Coffee Break- section. The amount of passionate comments we received on this poll was a big surprise. As we read through the comments, we discovered that the television broadcasting of the event meant much more to the people than Quote. the greatest show in the history of television, End Quote, as it was publicized. Many individual memories and stories were vividly illustrated and enthusiastically expressed. One man, who lived in England at the time, wrote about the way that the lights from every window in his surrounding buildings were lit up at 3 a.m. local to watch.

Like this comment, many more were specifically nostalgic about the excitement surrounding the television broadcasting.

Quote. I remember it as if it were yesterday. We watched it on our old Dumont TV! My dad, a proud Cape Bretoner, said to my brother and I... Sit down boys and watch carefully, you're about to see the first Scotsman set foot on the Moon! End Quote. It was clear that not only was it a day of great achievements for the scientists, but also a day that heroes and dreams were born for every human.

Quote. I was in a motel room in Alberta during a 'hitch-hike Canada west from Toronto' age 19. Only night I stayed inside, otherwise camped under the stars. That night I saw 'the stars' on TV. End Quote. Another user writes.

For another lucky viewer, this historic feat was a gift! Quote. The Apollo 11 Moon landing was on my 9th birthday. I was glued to the TV watching it with my family. Best birthday present ever! End Quote.

We received many other comments from viewers ranging from 5 months old to their 20s at the time. This was an event for all age groups to experience, Quote. 5 months old and in front of TV (according to Mom) obviously don't remember it but she knew it would be a special event End Quote. Everyone recalls this historic event with an individual twist. Together the viewers were a part of history, it was the night the television took the world to the moon!

On the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon mission, here are five fast facts

By Scott Sutherland Meteorologist, theweathernetwork.com
Submitted by Roger Khouri

On the morning of July 16th, 1969, NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins climbed into the Apollo 11 command module, perched high atop a Saturn V rocket, and were soon airborne, lifting off the platform at Kennedy Space Center on their way to the Moon. While this was one of the most documented events in human history, there are still some little-known facts about the mission.

1. The U.S. flag planted at the Apollo 11 landing site wasn't the only flag brought on the mission

It is certainly the most famous of the flags, but the one flown by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was only one of many flags that made the journey. Two other large American flags were brought along, along with a flag from each of the U.S.'s 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, the flag of the United Nations, and flags from a number of different nations around the world. Some bonus facts about the flag that was left behind - it was accidentally blown over when Armstrong and Aldrin blasted back up into lunar orbit, and after 45 years of cosmic ray bombardment it is probably completely blank now.

2. The mission was intended to show up the Russians, but its message turned out to be one of peace

Even though the Moon shot was part of the one-upsmanship between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., you'd never know it from the objects the astronauts brought along. First is a plaque attached to the lunar module, which read Quote. Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind, End Quote, a gold pin in the shape of an olive branch, and two medals to commemorate Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin, who died within the two years prior to the Apollo 11 mission (Komarov when his Soyuz 1 capsule crashed in a landing attempt and Gagarin when the MiG training jet he was flying crashed). All of these objects, along with a patch from the original Apollo 1 mission (which was aborted before launch due to a fire in the command module that claimed the lives of all three astronauts on board) and good-will messages from many of the world leaders at the time, were left behind on the Moon as tokens from not just the United States, but their rivals and the entire planet Earth.

3. This wasn't the astronauts' first rodeo, but it was their last one

All three of the astronauts on the mission, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, flew exactly two missions into space, with the Apollo 11 mission being their last. For Armstrong, his first trip into orbit was with the Gemini 8 mission, in March 1966, along with astronaut David Scott. They only completed six orbits of the planet before they had to return to Earth due to a system-wide failure on the spacecraft. Collins was the next to fly, with John Young on the Gemini 10 mission, in July of that same year - making 43 orbits of Earth in just under 3 days before returning. Aldrin flew last (of the three), on board Gemini 12, four months after that, in November 1966. He and James Lovell, Jr circled the Earth for almost four days, making 59 trips around the planet, and while on an EVA outside the capsule, he took what has become known as the very first Space Selfie.

4. Armstrong being the first man on the moon was simply a matter of seating arrangement

A lot of rumors have been running around for the past 45 years about why Neil Armstrong was chosen to be the first man on the moon - he was civilian as opposed to military, he pulled rank and so on. However, the real reason was the seating arrangement in the lunar module (LM). Since the door to the outside opened into the module instead of out, it made the logistics of leaving a bit more difficult than they would have been otherwise. As it was, Armstrong, in the commander's chair, was in the perfect position to back out of the module from his position, which would let Aldrin then slide over into the command chair afterwards to follow him. Astronauts may fly to the 'heavens', but they're definitely not devas.

5. Although Armstrong was the first human on the Moon, there's surprisingly few pictures of him there

The astronauts took a lot of pictures while they were on the Moon but of all the photos taken, only a few of them have Neil Armstrong - the very first human to set foot on another body in our solar system besides Earth - in them. This isn't due to any objections from Aldrin, as some rumors have claimed (see the above comments about devas), but simply because Neil was the one taking most of the photographs. You can certainly see him in the video footage as he descends the LM ladder to the lunar surface, but other than that, there is an automated picture of him helping Aldrin plant the U.S. flag, and you see him reflected in Aldrin's helmet visor.

Bonus Fact: There are a lot of myths and conspiracy theories about the Apollo 11 mission

This is probably quite well-known, but there are a lot of 'interesting' stories still circulating around about the first human spaceflight to the Moon, including claims that it was all a hoax! Conversely, though, there is a lot of excellent factual information out there, including some skilled breakdowns of exactly why the hoax claims and conspiracy theories are wrong.

How To Live Real Life and Determination

Author unknown
Submitted by Bruce Stockler

A Grandson of slaves, a boy was born in a poor neighborhood of New Orleans known as the Quote. Back of Town. End Quote. His father abandoned the family when the child was an infant, His mother became a prostitute and the boy and his sister had to live with their grandmother. Early in life he proved to be gifted for music and with three other kids he sang in the streets of New Orleans.

His first gains were the coins that were thrown to them. A Jewish family, Karnofsky, who had immigrated from Lithuania to the USA had pity for the 7-year-old boy and brought him into their home. Initially given ---work--- in the house, to feed this hungry child. There he remained and slept in this Jewish families home where, for the first time in his life he was treated with kindness and tenderness. When he went to bed, Mrs. Karnovsky sang him a Russian Lullaby that he would sing with her. Later, he learned to sing and play several Russian and Jewish songs. Over time, this boy became the adopted son of this family.

The Karnofskys gave him money to buy his first musical instrument; as well the custom in the Jewish families. They sincerely admired his musical talent. Later, when he became a professional musician and composer, he used these Jewish melodies in compositions, such as St. James Infirmary and Go Down Moses. The little black boy grew up and wrote a book about this Jewish family who had adopted him in 1907. In memory of this family and until the end of his life, he wore a star of David and said that in this family he had learned, Quote, how to live real life and determination. End Quote.

You might recognize his name. This little boy was called Louis ---Satchmo--- Armstrong. Louis Armstrong proudly spoke fluent Yiddish!

The Blind Outperform Sighted People When Using Haptic Technology

Submitted by: Geoff Eden

New research in the burgeoning field of haptic technology at the University of California-Berkeley has discovered that people who are blind or visually impaired tend to outmaneuver their sighted counterparts – especially when they used both hands and multiple fingers to find their way around.

The reason that blind subjects outperformed people with normal-range eyesight when it comes to using haptic (or tactile) technology is that they’ve developed superior cognitive navigation strategies, claimed Valerie Morash, a doctoral student in psychology at the university and the lead author of a new paper published Tuesday in the online edition of the journal Perception.

“Most sighted people will explore these types of displays with a single finger. But our research shows that this is a bad decision. No matter what the task, people perform better using multiple fingers and hands,” Morash explained in a statement.

We can learn from blind people how to effectively use multiple fingers, and then teach these strategies to sighted individuals who have recently lost vision or are using tactile displays in high-stakes applications like controlling surgical robots, she added. Scientists have been investigating how receptors on a person’s fingertips communicate information to the brain for decades, the university said. Now, researchers at several multimedia companies (including Disney) have begun using more different types of tactile interfaces, which use vibrations and either electrostatic or magnetic feedback to allow tablet computer and mobile device users to navigate or experience what things feel like.

Morash and colleagues from UC Berkeley and the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco recruited a total of 28 participants – 14 blind adults and 14 who were normally sighted but blindfolded for the course of the study – and had them complete a series of different tasks using a tactile map. For instance, they were asked to use various hand and finger combinations to find landmarks, determine if a road looped around, or similar challenges. They found that both blind and sighted participants performed better when using both hands and several fingers, though the visually impaired subjects were on average 50 percent faster at completing the tasks (and even quicker when using both hands and all of their fingers).

Specifically, the study authors reported that tasks requiring line-tracing were faster when fingers were added to a hand that was already in use, and sometimes when added to the second hand, and that using both hands and multiple fingers allowed participants to complete local and global search tasks more quickly. Tasks involving distance comparison were faster when multiple fingers were used, but not when two hands were used. Furthermore, the researchers found that participants were able to move faster in a straight line when using multiple fingers.

In all, their findings were found to support the notion that tactile systems perform best when they are capable of exploiting the independence of multiple fingers, and that blind participants benefitted more from two hands or multiple fingers than their sighted counterparts. This conclusion “indicates that the blind participants have learned, through experience or training, how to best take advantage of multiple fingers during haptic tasks,” the authors wrote.

As we move forward with integrating tactile feedback into displays, these technologies absolutely need to support multiple fingers, noted Morash. This will promote the best tactile performance in applications such as the remote control of robotics used in space and high-risk situations, among other things.

Braille Isnt Embattled - We are on the Cusp of a Golden Age for Blind People

Braille Monitor July 2014
by Ian Macrae
Submitted by: Geoff Eden

Disability Now is the UK's leading website for, about, and by disabled people. We aim to accurately reflect and present the lives, experiences, views, opinions, and lifestyle choices of disabled people, which are often misrepresented in mainstream media. We are also here to call to account those whose actions and policies have an impact on disabled people. Finally we provide freelance opportunities and access to the media for disabled journalists and writers whose voices would otherwise go unheard.

Disability Now--Our voice, our lives.

Imagine a situation where you walk into your favorite restaurant and ask for the menu, only to be told it isn't available. Chances are it would not stay your favorite for very long. As a Braillist, someone who uses Braille, the dream for me is when the opposite happens. A small number of chain restaurants offer menus in Braille; sometimes they are even up to date.

It is difficult to over-express the sense of liberation at being able to browse and choose your preferred pizza independently. And in Co-op supermarkets, where some of the own-brand labels feature Braille, there is pride in being able to identify a bottle of wine from a label that few if any other people in the store are able to read.

All too often, though, finding anything in shops is a matter of random selection, peering in earnest, or asking for help. And, just when it seemed the situation couldn't get any worse for Braillists, along come headlines suggesting the end is nigh for Braille, that this communication lifeline is about to be cut off.

This week, Dr. Matthew Rubery, curator of an exhibition on alternative methods of reading for blind people, described Braille as Quote, embattled end quote. He went on to say its biggest threat is computer technology, which makes it much easier not to have to learn it. A lot of people fear Braille won't survive because it will be read by so few people. The use has declined, and there are concerns about funding to keep it going.

This seems to me a rather glass-half-empty view, although there is some evidence to support his argument. Anecdotally, it is claimed blind children are no longer being taught Braille. This is said to be owing to sighted teachers who believe computer technology, and in particular synthesized speech, has rendered it redundant. Therefore the teachers don't need to learn Braille either. If this is true, and no other factors were to come into play, then the outlook might really look bad. But, like print, Braille has gone through a process of evolution. It started out in classrooms as the equivalent of the slate—my five-year-old hands punched out each dot individually through a sheet of thick Manila paper. We learned to write it backwards and read it forwards.

Then Harold Wilson's "white heat" age of technology ushered in the mechanical era. Classrooms echoed to the deafening collective rattle of fifteen or more Braille machines—the Stainsby, the Perkins, the Lavender—pounding away at dictation or composition. And now, like print with its tablets, Kindles, and touch screens, Braille has gone digital. And it is my belief that this could well mean it becomes more widely available and infinitely more useful. This is important because it means all children in future will be able to enjoy the same degree of literacy, not to mention the same levels of liberation and pleasure, as I do now.

Think of this: I am writing and editing this piece on an Apple computer using Braille from an electronic display that drives pins into the correct shapes to form a line of Braille text. Once the piece is published, I will be able to go to the Guardian website on my iPhone or iPad, use Bluetooth to connect a portable Braille device, and read it along with you. The main problem currently is the cost of the Braille-reading equipment: the cheapest is £900 [at today’s conversion rate, roughly $1,500. But, fellow reader, we are now in the age of the app and of haptic technology, which communicates through vibration and touch. It is already possible for me to download an app that will create on my touch screen a virtual Braille keyboard on which I can compose texts, emails, and Tweets and Facebook updates in Braille. Meanwhile, the search is already on for the Holy Grail of Braille—a means of creating dots without using expensive mechanical cells that make the shape of Braille characters using pins then the world would truly be at our fingertips.

What is needed is an app that would turn digital text on your device into electronic impulses in the shape of Braille characters, transmitted by the screen of your iPad or other tablet, to be read by touch. To go back to my restaurant quandary, all I would need to do would be to call up the menu online, put it through my haptic Braille app, and read it on my screen. Add into that mix a scanning app, and I could point my device at what was on the supermarket shelf and have the haptic Braille app produce the package information. And if you think this is hopelessly optimistic pie in the sky, it's worth remembering that less than five years ago 96 percent of all books produced would never be turned into forms accessible to blind people. But, with the advent of e-books and existing technology, I am now able to read pretty much any book I want to in electronic Braille.

So, rather than seeing the end of Braille, we could be entering a golden age of access and communication. Here's to more pizza, more wine, and more Braille.

Interesting Facts About This Month

By Bruce Stockler

I got this info from a friend and I wanted to share it with you all.

August, this year, will have 5 Fridays, 5Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens only once every 823 years. The Chinese call it Silver Pockets Full. The legend goes that if you send this message to your friends, in four days money will 'surprise' you. Based on Chinese Feng Shui, whoever does not transmit the message ..... may find themselves poor. I obeyed (you never know)

So, whether you believe in such good luck hoaxes or not, this info about the month of August certainly was pretty darn interesting.

The Book Shelf -

Book Number 1

Spider woman's daughter
Written by: Anne Hillerman. Read by Todd Fox. Reading time: 8 hours, 38 minutes.
Genre: Mystery and Detective Stories
Late author Tony Hillerman's daughter continues his series featuring retired Navajo Nation lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee. As Leaphorn leaves a cop breakfast, he is shot point-blank. Witnessing this is Chee's wife, officer Bernie Manuelito. With Leaphorn hospitalized, Chee and Manuelito search for a motive. Some violence. 2013.

Book Number 2
The horse whisperer
Written by: Nicholas Evans. Read by David Hartley-Margolin. Reading time: 12 hours, 39 minutes.
Genre: Animals and Wildlife
Thirteen-year-old Grace Maclean loses her leg when she and her horse, Pilgrim, are struck by a truck. Pilgrim is also injured-- mentally and physically. Grace's mother, magazine editor Annie Graves, learns of a horse whisperer--Tom Booker--who might be able to restore Pilgrim. In hopes that he will also help Grace, Annie takes both of them to his ranch in Montana. Strong language, violence, and some explicit descriptions of sex.

Book Number 3
Almost like a song
Written by: Ronnie Milsap & Tom Carter. Read by Ross Cass. Reading time: 10 hours, 40 minutes.
Genre: Music Appreciation and History
Taken in by dirt-poor, but loving grandparents after his mother rejected him, Ronnie was soon sent off to a school for the blind. There, among other things, he learned discipline, determination, and classical music--acquirements that shaped his boyhood, his career, and his success as a country music superstar. His inspiring story reveals little-known aspects of the music industry where he rose to the top.

iSpy - Researcher exposes backdoor in iPhones and iPads

by John Zorabedian on July 23, 2014
Submitted by: Terry Scott

How much of your personal data on your iPhone or iPad would you be willing to bet law enforcement or a hacker can grab from your device, even if you've encrypted it?

How about all of it?

A "backdoor" that Apple built into iOS for developers can be used to spy on iPhones and iPads by governments, law enforcement, or cyber criminals, according to forensics researcher Jonathan Zdziarski .

For the backdoor to be exploited by a spy, your iDevice needs to be synced to another computer via a feature called iOS pairing . Once your iDevice is paired to your PC or Mac, they exchange encryption keys and certificates to establish an encrypted SSL tunnel, and the keys are never deleted unless the iPhone or iPad is wiped with a factory reset. That means a hacker could insert spyware on your computer to steal the pairing keys, which allows them to locate and connect to your device via Wi-Fi .

Because iPhones and iPads automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks with names they recognize, an attacker could then set up a hotspot using a spoofed network name to get your device to connect, and grab all your data. Zdziarski used his talk at the HOPE X hacker conference on 18 July to state that Apple's backdoors give access to personal data that's beyond what developers or Apple itself need.

In mentioning that the Snowden leaks revealed the National Security Agency (NSA) had used backdoors in iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, Zdziarski also implied that the NSA may have used Apple's backdoors for easy access to iPhones and iPads.

Apple issued a statement to reporters, acknowledging the access through pairing. But what Zdziarski described as a backdoor, Apple calls "diagnostic functions" - Apple said developers and IT departments need them for troubleshooting.

Apple's statement also flatly denies any cooperation with the NSA, or government agencies from any country. We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues. A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data. The user must agree to share this information, and data is never transferred without their consent.

As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. On his own blog, Zdziarski explained further that he doesn't think Apple is in cahoots with the NSA, but he said these features (or bugs) should not be in iOS. Zdziarski said: Apple's seeming admission to having these back doors, however legitimate a use they serve Apple, unfortunately have opened up some serious privacy weaknesses as well.

I think at the very least, this warrants an explanation and disclosure to the some 600 million customers out there running iOS devices. The lack of disclosure of these security loopholes is a bit puzzling, but Apple seems to have, at least, done the disclosing part now. Will Apple back down? Will the programmers in Cupertino be instructed to remove the libraries, or perhaps limit their use to developers debugging their apps?

Chances are that's not going to happen, not least because Apple obviously went to some trouble to get all this stuff working in the first place.

Blind Mice Cured by Running

Exercise combined with visual stimulation helps to quickly restore vision in unused eyes
By Simon Makin and Nature magazine
Submitted by: Rich De Steno

Mice with 'lazy eye', a partial blindness caused by visual deprivation early in life, improved faster if they were exposed to visual stimuli while running on a treadmill. The study, published on 26 June in eLife, also illuminates processes underlying the brain’s ability to rewire itself in response to experience — a phenomenon known as plasticity, which neuroscientists believe is the basis of learning.

More than 50 years ago, neurophysiologists David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel cracked the 'code' used to send information from the eyes to the brain. They also showed that the visual cortex develops properly only if it receives input from both eyes early in life. If one eye is deprived of sight during this ‘critical period’, the result is amblyopia, or ‘lazy eye’, a state of near blindness. This can happen to someone born with a droopy eyelid, cataract or other defect not corrected in time. If the eye is opened in adulthood, recovery can be slow and incomplete.

In 2010, neuroscientists Christopher Niell and Michael Stryker, both at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), showed that running more than doubled the response of mice's visual cortex neurons to visual stimulation (see 'Neuroscience: Through the eyes of a mouse'). Stryker says that it is probably more important, and taxing, to keep track of the environment when navigating it at speed, and that lower responsiveness at rest may have evolved to conserve energy in less-demanding situations. “It makes sense to put the visual system in a high-gain state when you’re moving through the environment, because vision tells you about far away things, whereas touch only tells you about things that are close,” he says.

It is generally assumed that activity stimulates plasticity (see 'Neurodevelopment: Unlocking the brain'), so Stryker and his colleague Megumi Kaneko, also a neuroscientist at UCSF, wondered whether running might influence the plasticity of the visual cortex. They induced amblyopia in mice by suturing one eye shut for several months, during and after the critical period of visual development. They then re-opened the mice’s eyes and divided them into two groups. Mice in one group were shown a ‘noisy’ visual pattern while running on a treadmill for four hours a day for three weeks. The pattern was chosen to activate nearly all the cells in the mice’s primary visual cortex. The researchers recorded the mice’s brain activity using intrinsic signal imaging, a method similar to functional magnetic resonance.

After a week these mice showed more responsiveness in the part of the cortex corresponding to the eye that had been closed. After two weeks, responses were comparable to those of normal mice that had never been visually deprived. The other group, housed in cages and without extra visual stimulation, had a much slower response to their newly reopened eye and never reached normal response levels.

Further experiments revealed that neither running nor visual stimulation alone had this effect. Recovery was also specific to the stimulus. Mice viewing the noise pattern did not show improved responses to a pattern of drifting bars, and vice versa, suggesting that only the visual circuits activated during running recover.

What is amazing is the robustness of this phenomenon, says Massimo Scanziani, a neurobiologist at the University of California, San Diego. Its powerful and highly reproducible, which is ideal for studying the mechanism. Stryker and his colleagues do not yet know whether their findings apply to humans, but they plan further work to find out.

Deaf Montreal boy gains hearing after experimental surgery - Surgical implant in brain stem breaks sound barrier for 3-year-old

By CBC News
Submitted by Roger Khouri

Auguste Majkowski, 3, was born deaf, but after auditory brain stem implant surgery in California, the Montreal boy is now reacting to some sounds.?

Quote. Sometimes we call his name and he looks up. This is something we've never seen him do before. This is amazing, End Quote, said Augustes mother, Sophie Gareau. Auguste was born without auditory nerves, meaning sounds can not travel to his brain. When cochlear implants didn't help, Gareau went looking for other options.

Last year in North Carolina, when Grayson Clamp heard his fathers voice for the first time, the three-year-old's reaction captured hearts around the world. Gareau saw the video on YouTube and wondered if her son could receive the same treatment.

Quote. I ended up talking to the team in California and they said maybe Auguste is a perfect candidate, End Quote, said Gareau. Then came months of meetings, tests and trips to Los Angeles. Finally in May, Auguste underwent surgery to receive an auditory implant. Doctors installed the electronic device directly on his brain stem so that sound bypasses the inner ear.

Auguste is the first of 10 children who will receive this treatment, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Quote. This is a first step in offering a technology to children that have been unable to benefit from prosthetic devices, End Quote, said Dr. Laurie Eisenberg, professor of otolaryngology, University of Southern California. The procedure is controversial, because it's seen by some in the deaf community as an insult to those who learn sign language.

It also comes with risks. Quote. It is the brain. If they hit the wrong spot, [there] could be paralysis, End Quote, said Gareau. For Auguste, the only visible sign he underwent the surgery is a processor that he wears with a microphone and a transmitter that allows him to respond to signals he would never have been able to detect before.

Augustes parents said they've been so pleased with the results, they want to help make the surgery available in Canada.

Vision loss patients benefit from personalized gene therapy using patient-specific stem cells

By Medical News Today
Submitted by Roger Khouri

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss. The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.

Using this approach, researchers led by Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD, showed that a form of RP caused by mutations to the gene MFRP (membrane frizzled-related protein) disrupts the protein that gives retinal cells their structural integrity. They also showed that the effects of these mutations can be reversed with gene therapy. The approach could potentially be used to create personalized therapies for other forms of RP, as well as other genetic diseases. The paper was published recently in the online edition of Molecular Therapy, the official journal of the American Society for Gene & Cell Therapy.

Quote. The use of patient-specific cell lines for testing the efficacy of gene therapy to precisely correct a patients genetic deficiency provides yet another tool for advancing the field of personalized medicine, End Quote, said Dr. Tsang, the Laszlo Z. Bito Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and associate professor of pathology and cell biology.

In normal, or wild-type, retinal cells (left), the protein actin forms the cells cytoskeleton, creating an internal support structure that looks like a series of connected hexagons. In cells with MFRP mutations (center), this structure fails to form, compromising cellular function. When diseased retinal cells are treated with gene therapy to insert normal copies of MFRP (right), the cells cytoskeleton and function are restored. Credit: Lab of Stephen H. Tsang, M.D., Ph.D. - Columbia University Medical Center.

The researchers also found that MFRP works in tandem with another gene, CTRP5, and that a balance between the two genes is required for normal actin regulation. In the next phase of the study, the CUMC team used adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) to introduce normal copies of MFRP into the iPS-derived retinal cells, successfully restoring the cellss function. The researchers also used gene therapy to ---rescue--- mice with RP due to MFRP mutations. According to Dr. Tsang, the mice showed long-term improvement in visual function and restoration of photoreceptor numbers.

Quote. This study provides both in vitro and in vivo evidence that vision loss caused by MFRP mutations could potentially be treated through AAV gene therapy, End Quote, said co-author Dieter Egli, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental cell biology (in pediatrics) at CUMC, who is also affiliated with the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

Dr. Tsang thinks this approach could also be used to study other forms of RP. Quote. Through genome-sequencing studies, hundreds of novel genetic spelling mistakes have been associated with RP, End Quote, he said. Quote. But until now, we have had very few ways to find out whether these actually cause the disease. In principle, iPS cells can help us determine whether these genes do, in fact, cause RP, understand their function, and, ultimately, develop personalized treatments. End Quote.

Healthy Choice, Healthy Living - Health benefits of getting rid of clutter

By Lawrence MacLellan

Hello everybody, this month I would like to share some information about clutter.

There is clutter in our bodies, in our life and in our homes. Reducing clutter has health benefits, for example, when you detox your body. You get rid of all kinds of things that make us unhealthy. The same thing happens when we get rid of clutter in our life or in our home. If your life is too busy with things that stress you out, try to get rid of things that cause stress or are a waste of time. do things that you enjoy and don’t try to fill every second of your day with stuff. Some unexpected things happen when you get rid of clutter.

Here are 6 of them:

1. You don’t buy things unless they’re awesome

After DE cluttering – when your stuff is pared down to what you use and love – you hold every purchase to a higher standard. You’re more aware of what you already have, of what you’ve bought in the past and never used, of what the genuine spaces are in your closet, kitchen, and home. You only feel like buying things you really love.

2. You enjoy your stuff more

The things that survive your DE clutter seem so much better without all that other stuff suffocating them. Dressing is more fun with the closet dross gone. Cooking is more enjoyable when your accoutrements are neatly organized. Lying on the couch reading is more relaxing without clutter distracting you. Home is a more fun place to be.

3. You find forgotten treasures

When you get rid of stuff you don’t love, you invariably uncover forgotten things you do love. Your life only has time, space, and energy for a certain quantity of things. Clutter takes up that time, space, and energy, and crowds out the good stuff. Getting rid of the clutter let’s you re-discover the precious.

4. You feel happier

Some people say they like clutter and know where everything is. Maybe they do. Maybe they’re in denial. I don’t know. I do know this. I’ve known many people who claimed they were fine with clutter, and then DE cluttered – and without exception they became elated. Thrilled. They couldn’t believe how good it felt.

5. You feel calmer

Clutter has psychological costs. Maybe you waste time looking for things. Or feel stressed by the visual chaos. Or get embarrassed and avoid visitors. Or argue with your family. Without clutter, there’s that much less in your life to wind you up. You wake up, look around, and simply feel… calmer.

6. You inspire others (way more than nagging ever could)

We all know that people don’t change unless they want to. And that trying to change someone is a great way to get them to dig their heels in. But making your own changes can have a profound effect on people around you. Your spouse, flatmate, kids – they can be inspired by your DE cluttering example. And you won’t have to say a word.

Those are some pretty cool consequences of DE cluttering. The web is full of ideas on how to get rid of clutter and if you make one healthy choice at a time then you will be well on your way. Clean up your body, your life and your home. You will soon feel more freedom to move in your life, your home and your body will feel great. .

If you have any questions for Lawrence, or would like a certain topic covered, please write to:

Severe Obesity Shortens Life

Submitted by: Rich De Steno

People who are severely obese may lose as many as 14 years off their life, a new study suggests.

U.S. researchers pooled data from 20 previous studies and found that a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 -- considered severe obesity -- raises the odds of dying early from heart disease, cancer and diabetes compared to people of normal weight.

We found that the death rates in severely obese adults were about 2.5 times higher than in adults in the normal weight range, said lead investigator Cari Kitahara, a research fellow at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Severe obesity accounts for an excess 509 deaths per 100,000 men each year, and 382 excess deaths per 100,000 women, she said.

Whether losing weight would improve lifespan isn't clear, Kitahara said. But not becoming obese in the first place will extend your life, she added. Kitahara's team calculated that, compared with normal-weight people, severely obese people were cutting their lives short by 6.5 to 13.7 years. That's similar to the toll taken by smoking, she said.

BMI is a calculation of body fat based on height and weight. As an example, if you stand 5 feet 4 inches tall and weigh 235 pounds, your BMI is 40, which is considered severely obese. Similarly, if you're 280 pounds and 5-feet-10, your BMI is 40. By comparison, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight.

About 6 percent of U.S. adults are severely obese, according to background information in the report, published online July 8 in PLOS Medicine. Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said the study findings underscore existing concerns.

We have long had clear and compelling evidence that obesity is related to the major chronic diseases that plague modern societies: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia and more, Katz said.

Severe obesity is more dangerous than lesser degrees of obesity, and rates of severe obesity are rising steeply, he added. We also have data to show that the death toll of obesity is rising, he said. Effective treatments for advanced obesity can help somewhat, Katz said. But to a far greater extent, it can and must be addressed with prevention, since severe obesity rarely has to happen in the first place, he said.

For the study, the researchers homed in on previous research on nearly 10,000 severely obese people who had never smoked or had any chronic disease. They compared these folks with about 304,000 normal-weight adults. Over the 30-year study period, the severely obese men and women were more likely to die early compared with normal weight people, they found.

Heart disease was the major factor linked with death among the severely obese, followed by cancer, diabetes, kidney and liver disease. Moreover, the risk of dying from any of these conditions rose along with weight. However, the findings are limited because people reported their own height and weight to calculate BMI and also because BMI was the only measure of obesity used, the researchers said.

Can You Overdose on Caffeine?

From NY Daily News
Submitted by: Rich De Steno

Talk about a wake-up call: Too much caffeine is being linked to two fatal overdoses in teens since the end of May.

Lanna Hamann, 16, of Arizona, went into cardiac arrest and died after ingesting one too many energy drinks on the beach in Mexico, her mother told CBS. Logan Stiner, 18, dropped dead May 27 and an autopsy report showed caffeine was the only drug in his system.

While caffeine overdoses are not common, they can happen, said Dr. Deena Blanchard, clinical instructor and pediatrician in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Caffeine toxicity can lead to an arrhythmia — irregular heartbeat — often in a person predisposed to a heart condition. When the heart is beating irregularly — either too fast or too slow — it's not pumping blood efficiently, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. It can affect anyone if you take it too far, she said, noting that that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against energy drinks.

There's no potential reason (teens) would need stimulants in (their) diet, no nutritional benefit, and they can definitely have adverse side effects, Blanchard said. Caffeine's effects on children and adolescents have not even been well-studied; most studies looking at the effects of energy drinks and other caffeine sources have focused on adults. And young people's changing bodies and different sizes mean that there's no right amount of caffeine that's safe for them. Also, because the amount of caffeine in energy drinks is not well-regulated, it's hard to know how much of the stimulating drug is in a substance. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, for example, does not necessitate caffeine disclosure for drinks and supplements.

Stiner was found with 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system after ingesting caffeine powder, but 50 micrograms is enough to kill you. Caffeine powder caused Stiner to suffer cardiac arrythmia and a seizure, which ultimately killed him.

Parents should discuss the matter with their teens in a way that's not condescending, Blanchard said. What I find works best is to partner with them, she said. "You don't want to try to scare them, but try to be open with your child. She recommends starting with questions like, What do you know about caffeine's effects on the body? As much as teens may shy away from mom and dad, They want to know their parents are involved and care about them, Blanchard added. Presenting information in a way that makes your child feel cared about is definitely helpful.

Eye movements reveal difference between love and lust

By Jann Ingmire
Submitted by Roger Khouri

Soul singer Betty Everett once proclaimed, Quote. If you want to know if he loves you so, its in his kiss. End Quote. But a new study by University of Chicago researchers suggests the difference between love and lust might be in the eyes after all.

Specifically, where your date looks at you could indicate whether love or lust is in the cards. The new study found that eye patterns concentrate on a stranger’s face if the viewer sees that person as a potential partner in romantic love, but the viewer gazes more at the other person’s body if he or she is feeling sexual desire. That automatic judgment can occur in as little as half a second, producing different gaze patterns.

Quote. Although little is currently known about the science of love at first sight or how people fall in love, these patterns of response provide the first clues regarding how automatic attentional processes, such as eye gaze, may differentiate feelings of love from feelings of desire toward strangers, End Quote, noted lead author Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the UChicago High-Performance Electrical NeuroImaging Laboratory. Cacioppo co-authored the report, now published online in the journal Psychological Science, with colleagues from UChicago’s Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the University of Geneva.

Previous research by Cacioppo has shown that different networks of brain regions are activated by love and sexual desire. In this study, the team performed two experiments to test visual patterns in an effort to assess two different emotional and cognitive states that are often difficult to disentangle from one another --- romantic love and sexual desire (lust).

Male and female students from the University of Geneva viewed a series of black-and-white photographs of persons they had never met. In part one of the study, participants viewed photos of young, adult heterosexual couples who were looking at or interacting with each other. In part two, participants viewed photographs of attractive individuals of the opposite sex who were looking directly at the camera/viewer. None of the photos contained nudity or erotic images. In both experiments, participants were placed before a computer and asked to look at different blocks of photographs and decide as rapidly and precisely as possible whether they perceived each photograph or the persons in the photograph as eliciting feelings of sexual desire or romantic love. The study found no significant difference in the time it took subjects to identify romantic love versus sexual desire, which shows how quickly the brain can process both emotions, the researchers believe.

But analysis of the eye-tracking data from the two studies revealed marked differences in eye movement patterns, depending on whether the subjects reported feeling sexual desire or romantic love. People tended to visually fixate on the face, especially when they said an image elicited a feeling of romantic love. However, with images that evoked sexual desire, the subjects eyes moved from the face to fixate on the rest of the body. The effect was found for male and female participants.

Quote. By identifying eye patterns that are specific to love-related stimuli, the study may contribute to the development of a biomarker that differentiates feelings of romantic love versus sexual desire, End Quote, said co-author John Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. Quote. An eye-tracking paradigm may eventually offer a new avenue of diagnosis in clinicians daily practice or for routine clinical exams in psychiatry and/or couple therapy. End Quote.

Co-author Mylene Bolmont, a graduate student at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, contributed to the design of the study, conducted the testing and data collection for the study, and assisted with the data analyses.

Staying sedentary may be just as harmful as exercise is beneficial

From the New York Daily News
Submitted by: Rich De Steno

Six hours of sitting is as bad for you as one hour of exercise is good, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found. 'Avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity,' said senior author Dr. Jarett Berry.

Rather than making time for a workout, working physical activity into daily life could lead to increased cardiorespiratory fitness, according to a recent study. Replacing your desk chair with an exercise ball is a great way to start.

A team of cardiologists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center concluded that extended sedentary behavior of two hours or more could be as harmful to fitness levels as short stints of exercise are beneficial. In parallel, six hours spent sitting is as harmful to cardiorespiratory fitness as one hour of exercise is beneficial, according to the study, which considers sedentary activities to be sitting, driving, internet surfing and reading.

While sedentary behavior has long been under attack by health care professionals, the study breaks ground in understanding its pathways. Previous studies have reported that sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular outcomes, says Dr. Jarett Berry, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Science and senior author of the study. However, the mechanisms through which this occurs are not completely understood.

Using data from 2,223 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers examined cardiorespiratory fitness levels in relation to exercise and the amount of time spent sedentary. Participants included men and women between the ages of 12 and 49 with no known history of heart disease, asthma or stroke, and their fitness levels were assessed by means of a submaximal treadmill test, adjusting for differences in gender, age and body mass index.

They concluded that in measuring fitness levels, sedentary activity should be considered independent of exercise. Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase risk through an impact on lower fitness levels, says Dr. Berry, and that avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day may represent an important companion strategy to improve fitness and health, outside of regular exercise activity.

Researchers say desk knights should feel free to fidget, hoping their study will lead to a common understanding in the workplace about the need to avoid sedentary behavior. We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness, said Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, a recent graduate from the UT Southwestern Cardiology Fellowship Training Program and first author of the paper. So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget.

The study was published in the online edition of the Mayo Clinic Preceedings. Previously, the Mayo Clinic has advised desk workers to take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes, taking deep breaths to relieve muscle tension, and standing up to take phone calls.

Adding to the list of ways to avoid extended sedentary behavior, UT Southwestern preventative cardiologists recommend purchasing a pedometer to track daily motion and replacing one's desk chair with a fitness ball.

The high price of insomnia

By Marketwatch
Submitted by: Rich De Steno

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was late for a client meeting after she allegedly overslept while taking a nap.

In yet another sign Americans are trying to catch 40 winks whenever they can, Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer was late for a meeting with clients at the Cannes advertising festival after she reportedly fell asleep. Last Tuesday, Interpublic Group IPG put together a fancy dinner at L’Oasis for Mayer to mingle with marketers such as Mondelez International, but Mayer showed up two hours late and, according to reports, told people a nap had gone awry.

Workplace performance deteriorates when sleep is restricted to six hours per night for a week and does not improve after two nights of recovery sleep, according to a paper presented to the 2013 meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies by Alexandros Vgontzas, professor of psychiatry and endowed chair in sleep disorders medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine. Despite Mayer’s recent mishap, that paper found that women may actually be less affected than men by this workweek pattern of sleep loss.

Sleeplessness is a big business. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has over 2,500 sleep centers; their number has doubled since 2007 and increased fivefold over the past decade. It’s worth over $32 billion, it’s an even bigger economic problem — costing nearly twice that in lost productivity. The problem: some 28% of Americans are getting less than 6 hours sleep a night, even though the recommended number is 7 to 9 hours, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lack of sleep is a “public health epidemic” in the U.S., according to the CDC report. “Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness all may contribute to these hazardous outcomes,” the report says. Those experiencing a prolonged lack of sleep are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, and cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity, it adds


The economic costs now run into billions of dollars a year. Nearly a quarter of all workers are affected by sleeplessness, according to a 2011 study by Harvard Medical School. And insomnia costs an average of $2,280 per worker in reduced productivity every year — a total cost of $63.2 billion to the economy, the study says. That equates to 11 working days lost annually for each worker, says Ronald C. Kessler, lead author of the study and McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.

So why are Americans losing sleep? Since the 2008 recession, more people are lying awake at night worrying about their financial situation and job security, says Nathaniel F. Watson, president of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. (In fact, one-third of Americans lose sleep over the economy, according to one 2009 poll by the National Sleep Foundation.)

The rise in U.S. obesity rates is another major factor, Watson says. But others are less certain. “There are lots of pop-psychology theories,” Kessler says. One thing we do know — it’s pervasive through all sections of society.

Whatever the causes, consumers are spending billions of dollars to get some shut-eye. The “sleep market” industry is currently worth over $32 billion, up from nearly $24 billion four years ago, according to John LaRosa, research director at MarketData Enterprises, a market research company in Tampa. Some 70 million Americans suffer from sleeplessness. Desperate for the perfect night’s sleep, they’re buying sleeping pills, premium mattresses, white noise machines, sleeping masks, mobile phone apps and other sleep-related paraphernalia.

But people need help staying awake too, which is compounding the problem. “There’s an enormous amount of self-medication for sleeplessness in America,” Kessler says. That’s one reason why the sales of super-caffeinated energy drinks are skyrocketing. Sales of energy drinks have surged by 60% between from 2008 and 2012, and are expected to hit $21 billion by 2017, up from $12.5 billion in 2012, according to data from Packaged Facts, an industry publication.

There are better ways of dealing with insomnia, Kessler says, like cutting down on caffeine and not playing on your smartphone or watching TV in bed late at night.

And Survey Says

By Roger Khouri

Thank you very much for everyone who voted and submitted a comment for last months Survey. We had an interesting assortment of views on the topic and I have included the comments below, along with the Survey results. Be sure to keep reading on for Septembers Survey Says question to complete. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please share your Survey Says question to newsletter@out-of-sight.net

Last monthsSurvey Question:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for five years in Afghanistan by the Taliban was recently released in exchange for the U.S. releasing 5 Gitmo Taliban terrorist detainees. Was it worth it? This controversial swap has sparked a lot of political fallout.

Results: Yes 22.2%, No 77.8%

Here are a selection of your comments:
1. There are entire books written by some of our country's best minds about the things that happen to foreign prisoners, both in America and the Middle East. We don't know in detail what happened to the sergeant, so we should just be happy he's home and happy there are also 5 fewer people whose torture is sanctioned by our country.

2. I hope they will get to the bottom of the assertions by his fellow platoon members of his deserting his post.

3. It was only worth it if the United States was intelligent enough to implant some kind of chip or tracking devices in the Taliban terrorists who were released, or if the US has somehow gotten one or more of them to be informants.

4. Releasing those particular 5 in exchange for a deserter was absolutely not worth it, and even our President admitted that they will probably return to their prior obligations, which will come back to kill us. I think that this is part of a plan to close our military prison by releasing enough prisoners to not make keeping it open worthwhile. It will also encourage the taking of more Americans by these terrorist organizations. If we don't stamp out these organizations before they get too strong, 9/11 will have just been the beginning.

5. I would have agreed if it was a one for one trade, not five for one. He's not worth five terrorissts.

6. It was not worth it because we have no business negotiating with terrorists Mr. Obama was deadly wrong! Now we have to worry about what he put our national safety in by releasing them.

7. It is very silly for Sgt. Bergdahl to expect the country that he dislikes to actually take great risks to free him. He should have been left alone as a product of his own foolishness. Let him live among the Taliban and see how intolerant they are; let him see how repressive they are; let him see how undemocratic they are; let him see how fenatical they are. Yet, the country that is so free and tolerant and accepting of everyone was the one he disagreed with? He was a coward who deserted his post and that is unconscienable. He should receive a dishonorable discharge at the very least from the U.S. military. Having five freed Taliban fighters, who are hell bent on getting their virgins in heaven for killing more Americans, was not worth freeing Bergdahl.

8. I thought we did not negotiate with terrorists. Besides, this deal is likely to encourage the abduction of American citizens.

Thanks again for all your views and for sharing your comments. Now, here is Augusts Survey Question, and, please feel free to include your comments as well.

On July 17th, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, was shot down in eastern Ukraine. Many have pointed the blame scquarely at Russia, who is supporting Ukrainian separtist fighters. Do you feel the United States will take a greater role in supporting the Ukrainian government, through military inteligence and arms, fight off the Russian backed rebels? Please vote Yes,or No, by visiting the following URL: The results will be published in Septembers newsletter.


The Recipe Box -

By Suzy Barnes

NuttyMixed UpSalad

2 to 3 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1/4 cup Fetta cheese
1 medium apple, your favorite,
1/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup red grapes
1/4 cup Craisins
1 grilled chicken breast
1/4 cup or less Roasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup or less Walnuts
1/4 cups or less Cashews or other nut choice

In a large salad bowl, layer the lettuce, which is not the key ingredient.
Sprinkle on the nuts,cranberries, crasins, Fetta cheese, grapes. Topp with grilled chicken which has been cut into large bite sizes.
Arrange apple slices which have been cut in half around the outer edge. These can be tossed or layered in another order, or better yet done in 2 individual servings. More chicken may be needed.
Use your favorite salad dressing.

This was the best salad I've ever eatten. Enjoy!

Dear Betty Blunt

Please note:
This submission is not to be taken seriously. It is just for fun!

Dear Betty Blunt,

I teach a class in Astronomy and I wondered if you have ever considered space travel? So, if it was possible, and you took a trip to a foreign planet, what would you say to the inhabitants?

Prof. A. P. Lorenzi Ph.D. UCLA
Norwalk, CA

Dear Mr. Telescope,

Thanks for a great question. I am always happy to assist our young people in the world of academia, regardless of the subject area. Well, if I traveled to another planet, for sure there would be throngs of crouds greeting me as I exited out of the space module. I know this because everyone writes and tells me that my columns are out of this world! So, my superb reputation is known the universe over! Unlike Neil Armstrong who said something about one small step for man, bla bla bla, I would simply tell the aliens, is that an antenna in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Houston, The love rocket has landed!

Betty Supernova Blunt

Dear Betty Blunt,

It boggles my mind how my girlfriend can not even remember simple significant dates in our relationship. I am always the one who has to remind her about my birthday, and even our anniversary. Like, what is up with that? I thought the girls were the ones who kept the guys straight on remembering important dates, not the other way around. How can I get my girlfriend to remember our anniversary?

Conan L. Griffen
Kilkenny, Ireland

Dear Mr. Calander,

Yes, this is very peculiar. Your girlfriend sounds like an odd duck. . Your girlfriend has likely been around the block a dozen of times or so. Her odometer not only has rolled over, but, it now reads, sorry, try again, just like those losing lottery scratch cards. She can not get your anniversary straight because she still has the other anniversaries and birthdays from her previous boy toys in her mind. So, when you get all those dates and names, it is no wonder that her brain becomes mush and she can not tell one apart from the other. So, do not feel left out because she likely was this way withher previous boy toys, and she will be like this after you hit the road too. You are only a number, not a date. It is a wonder that she even remembers your name, but, do not hold your breath because she is only running on fumes in that area.

Betty Memory Bank Blunt

If you would like to submit a question for Miss Betty Blunt to answer, please write to:

She may or may not answer your question seriously, and she may or may not give you the answer you were hoping for, but one thing is for sure, you will get a good laugh out of her witty, bold, and blunt advice. She will often make comments that we all wish we could say, but are just too afraid to make. So, send in your questions, and let us see if she can help you with your relationship issues. If you wish, your initials, city, and state will be altered to conceal your identity.

Think Tank

Thank you to everyone who submitted answers to last months brain teasers. Many of you were very close, but close only counts in horseshoes!

Congratulations to Cheryl Spencer, Brenda Green, Suzy Barnes, Debbie Granger, Lawrence Maclellan, Yasir Saleem, Karen Santiago, and Lorelei Dattan for answering both of the brain teasers correctly!

Also, a job well done to Nancy Martin and Lee Smiley for getting one of the brain teasers correctly!

In case you missed them, here are the July brain teasers and their answers:

1. I am black when you buy me, I turn red when you use me, and I am grey when you throw me away. What am I?
Answer: Charcoal

2. If an electric train is traveling south, which way is the smoke going?
Answer: Electric train does not have smoke

Now, here are the super duper brainteasers for August!

1. Who's bigger: Mister Bigger, Misses Bigger, or their baby?

2. It was a Sunday morning. Father was getting the mail, mother was in the kitchen cooking breakfast, little brother was playing Nintendo, big brother was playing the guitar, little sister was playing with dolls, and big sister was listening to music. Then everyone went into big sisters room and she was murdered! Who murdered her?

Please submit the answers to these brain teasers to:

We will let you know if you are correct, and if so, we will publish your name in the next issue of the newsletter. Have fun trying to solve these puzzles!

A Round of Applause

Thanks goes out to you, our extended family on Out-Of-Sight! You participate and spend your time getting to know one another on the site. Without you, there would be no need for programming, no need for special activities, and no need to even have a site. So, thank you very much! Thanks for making this community an Out of Sight place to be!

What is happening on Out-Of-Sight?

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That is all there is to it! You should receive a daily announcement from us within 24 hours. These announcements not only highlight the schedule of the day, they provide important information about any cancellations, new events, or special messages from our hosts or board members. Stay informed with our daily announcement!

Also stay tuned for our monthly newsletter, which will be distributed on the first of every month. We look forward to your input and suggestions for future newsletters. Please submit your questions, comments, or article submissions by the 20th of each month to:

Catch the vision--it is Out of Sight!