Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

How to Find Lost Objects

We've all done it, laid something down and couldn't find it a few minutes later. Where do those things go? I've laid things down and have never found them.

There's an online book written by Professor Solomon that outlines twelve Principles that will help you find these items, and it gives tips on how to keep from losing them again. The book is online so you won't be able to lose it! Here's just a sample of what you'll find:

Principle Ten: The Eureka Zone

The majority of lost objects are right where you figure-once you take a moment to stop and figure. Others, however, are in the immediate vicinity of that place. They have undergone a displacement-a shift in location that, although minor, has served to render them invisible. Some examples:

A pencil has rolled beneath a typewriter.
A tool has been shoved to the rear of a drawer.
A book on a shelf has gotten lodged behind other books.
A folder has been misfiled, several folders away from where it belongs.

Objects are apt to wander. I have found, though, that they tend to travel no more than eighteen inches from their original location. To the circle described by this eighteen-inch radius I have given a name. I call it the Eureka Zone. With the aid of a ruler, determine the Eureka Zone of your lost object. Then explore it. Meticulously.

Click this link to read this online book and find those lost items.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Keep The Family Driver Safe With The Charge-n-Start

You may not be able to drive the family car, but you want to insure that your spouse is safe while traveling. There will come a time when your car's battery will need to be charged. Where will it be? Maybe on a dark street, in a parking lot, on the side of the road? Do you or your spouse know how to connect jumper cables? Could you properly identify the negative and positive terminals? There's an easier way and it's safer for everyone involved.

Recharge that battery quickly and easily through your vehicle's AC power port/lighter socket! Just plug one end into the car with the dead battery, the other end into a different car, and let the healthy battery give you some juice! Works just as well as jumper cables, but is easier and safer to operate. The cord is 8 feet long and UL listed. The product features innovative technology: battery level digital indicator, LCD voltage display, and battery tester light.

Click this link to purchase the Charge-n-Start from the Sahalie website.

Automatic Soap/Lotion Dispenser

My wife and I went to the mall last weekend and noticed that they had remodeled the bathrooms. I love it. Even a bathroom has to go high-tech! Automatic soap and paper towel dispensers, hot water with the wave of a hand and even automatic flushers. Wouldn't it be cool if you could have some of this technology at home? Now you can!

Take personal hygiene to the next level with the Automatic Soap/Lotion Dispenser, the cleanest method of dispensing soap or lotion. Just fill it with any liquid soap or lotion, and every time you wave your hand underneath the spout, it will dispense a small amount of lotion or soap. There's no mess, no clean-up and no germs. It's perfect for homes, offices, clinics, restaurants, health clubs and countless other places.

The Automatic Soap/Lotion Dispenser uses 4 AA batteries (sold separately). A low-battery indicator lets you know when it's time to replace the batteries.

Click this link to purchase the Automatic Soap/Lotion Dispenser from the Smarthome website.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to Get a Job When You Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Landing a job when you have difficulties seeing is a unique challenge, but not an impossible one. Follow these steps and you just might find yourself employed.

  1. Focus on your strengths. By turning the attention away from the fact that you are visually impaired, you will gain (or re-gain) the confidence you need for a successful job search.

  2. Determine what types of jobs you are able to do. Would you be willing to work in customer service answering questions over the phone or in person? Or perhaps you're an excellent chef in a well-organized kitchen?

  3. Network with people who are in the type of business that you are interested in. Let them know you are looking for a job and what you can do. Do this by:

    • Speaking with your friends, family, and acquaintances. They may not be working in the type of job you're looking for but they could possibly know someone who does.

    • Phoning local businesses (of the type you're interested in) and asking to meet with someone in charge. Note: at this stage your not looking for interviews, just contacts.

    • Create a business card and resume to pass around. I'd suggest braille and standard text on the business card, just so you know what it is.

  4. Ask for assistance from a supportive sighted pal to help you browse through classifieds and check out the internet for job openings.

  5. Continue networking and expanding your knowledge. Eventually you will have a job.

Don't look down at entry level jobs. They could be just what you need to get your foot in the door.

If at all possible, don't let a potential employer know you are blind until you are at an interview. Best to let them see your skills before they judge you because of your visual impairment. On the other hand, you may decide that your years of teaching experience (for example) coupled with your blindness may place you in the position to teach other visually impaired people how to cope. Use your own discretion depending on the job you are searching for.

Your job search may take longer than it would for a sighted person, but if you're determined, you can find a job.

How to Take Care of Your Eyes

Diet and upkeep are two important factors in taking care of your eyes.

  1. Eat lots of fruits & veggies! Carrots, loaded with beta carotene are especially helpful in maintaining healthy eyes.

  2. Avoid wearing contact lenses for more than 12 hours. This can cause permanent sight damage as well as extreme discomfort.

  3. Using an allergen-reducing eye drop during allegery season to "get the red out" and sooth itchiness may help on a limited basis, but chronic daily use can actually make the problem worse.

  4. Read the labels of eye drops carefully; many drops cannot be used while wearing contacts.

  5. Wear UV protective sunglasses. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can harm your eyesight, protection in youth can help prevent loss of eyesight in later years.

  6. Try not to spend so much time looking at your computer screen, now would be a good time to give your eyes a break since you're not doing anything too important.

  7. Be sure to wear goggles or other eye protective wear when working with chemicals or any place with harmful airborne particulates.

Don't just use eye drops because Fred's Head told you to; be sure that they are right for you. While eye drops can make your eyes feel better, their medical benefits have not been entirely proven.

Large Print Check Ledger

A large print check ledger has been created in a Microsoft Excel Workbook. The default font is 36 point Arial, but you can make it any size you want by changing the % of view in the standard toolbar at the top of the screen. If you don't see that then you will need to go to the View/toolbars menu and check standard.

The first thing you want to do when you open the spreadsheet, is save it as a new name, so you will have the original blank form for next year. I suggest you name it something like, "checkRec2006".

You will notice that your cursor is sitting in the beginning balance field. Just type in the beginning balance and then hit the tab key. This will put you in the first row of your check record in the column headed "Date". The column headings are: Date, Check #, Description, Debit, Credit and Balance.

When entering your first check, type in the date, hit tab (for example, you can type in 4/6, hit tab and 4/6/06 will be automatically displayed.) your cursor will then jump to the "Check #" column. enter that, hit tab and you will be in the description column. Enter that and hit tab again and you are in the "debit column". When entering checks, you skip this one -- it is for deposits. So, hit tab again and you are in the "credit" column. Here you type in the amount of the check. Note the next column is headed by "balance." This column contains the formula that calculate your balance, so you never type anything in there. When you Hit tab one more time, the balance is calculated and you will be simultaneously moved one row down and back under the "Date" column. Either repeat that process to record another check, or enter a deposit following the same procedure, but by putting the amount in the "Debit" column. This amount will be added to your balance. There are 1000 rows, enough for the checks one would write or the deposits one would make in a given year.

You will also notice on the bottom of the screen that there are two tabs -- CHECK RECORD and STATISTICS. You are currently in the check record, but if you click the STATISTICS tab, it puts you in another sheet that displays your total deposits, withdrawals and current balance.

Click this link to download the large print check ledger:

TextPal Editor for the Blind

Jamal Mzarui has developed TextPal, a full featured text editor that is friendly, powerful, and open source. It uses a standard Windows interface for an application that supports multiple document windows. It seeks to optimize efficiency for users of the JAWS or Window Eyes screen readers by automatically verbalizing relevant information.

>TextPal works like NotePad so you can begin using it with the same commands. Many more commands are also defined, generally involving a >modifier key like Shift,Control, or Alt in combination with a letter that begins the name of the command. Most commands provide enhanced verbalizations compared to default screen reader speech, e.g., automatically reading the current line after a command completes.

Click this link to download TextPal:

Using Capital Letters and Spaces in Internet Addresses

If you ever spell a word wrong when typing in a URL, you're going to get a "Page cannot be found" error message. If you mess up capitalization and spacing, the same thing might happen.

You cannot use any spaces in an Internet address. It's just not the way URLs function. If you somehow hit the space bar while typing, you're not going to get to the Web site you're looking for. So, make sure you never use any spacing in a Web site's address.

Capitalization is a little different. Some Web sites may require capitalization. On the other hand, even though a URL has capital letters in it, you may still be directed to the site even if you use all lowercase letters. It all just depends on how the address is set up.

An Internet address only relies on case sensitive letters after the domain name. In other words, if you are ever trying to reach a page with some sort of a directory, you have to use all lowercase letters. For example, let's say you're wanting to visit Fred's Head. The URL is If you click this link you'll make it to the database. If you type the same URL in all caps: HTTP://WWW.APH.ORG/FH/INDEX.HTML you will receive an error.

If you were just going to the American Printing House for the Blind's homepage, you could type it either way, because it's not dealing with a directory and does not interfere with the domain name.

This rule also works the other way around. If a Web site's URL is all uppercase letters, typing it in lowercase would not work. If you're unsure about a site's address, try typing it in lowercase first, because the majority of URLs are set in lowercase letters. Very few sites actually make their address in all capital letters.

What Is A URL?

Almost every Fred's Head article has one of these, but we've never really explained what it is exactly, so here you go.

URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator and it is basically just a Web address. In more technical terms, a URL is the global address of documents and other resources used on the World Wide Web.

The first part of a URL is for protocol use and the second part is for the IP address or domain name. These two parts work together to bring you your favorite Web sites. Let's say you visit the American Printing House for the Blind's website quite often and the URL is of course, The first part is http:// and the second is Without both of those parts together, you wouldn't be able to visit the site.

So, the next time you type in a Web address, think about how the term URL brings us all together!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Baking Chicken Evenly

When baking chicken pieces, remember that dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat.

When you are ready to start baking, place your dark meat in the oven first.

After about 5 or 6 minutes, go ahead and put your white meat pieces in and continue to cook as normal.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cataracts: What Are They? How Do You Deal With Them?

By Frank Hague

As the population ages, cataracts are becoming a growing health concern.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens to such an extent that it affects vision. The majority of cataracts develop due to the aging process, and by age 80, more than half of all Americans have them. However, there are other types of cataracts: secondary cataracts, which form after surgery for other ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma; traumatic cataracts, which can develop after an eye injury; congenital cataracts; and radiation-inducted cataracts. Cataracts can occur in just one eye, or bilaterally.

Age-related cataracts can develop in two ways. Protein clumping in the capsule of lens causes poor transmission of light, leading to blurred and cloudy vision. Also, the normally clear lens can develop a yellow or brown tint, making it difficult to differentiate between dark colors such as dark blue and black .

Risk factors for the development of cataracts include aging, certain diseases such as diabetes (which also causes diabetic retinopathy), personal behavior such as smoking and alcohol abuse, and environmental/professional factors such as exposure to radiation or sunlight.

For instance, a study at the University of Iceland discovered that commercial airline pilots have a 3-fold increase in cataracts compared to non-pilots due to ionizing cosmic radiation at high altitudes. This radiation is normally filtered out by the atmosphere before reaching the earth. The pilots developed nuclear cataracts, which occur in the gelatinous interior of the lens, as opposed to cortical cataracts, which occur in the front capsule of the lens and are associated with UV light. The study recommended sunglasses to filter sunlight in the cockpit as a precautionary measure to prevent any synergistic effects of UV light, but offered no solution to the basic problem of radiation exposure during high-altitude flights.

Cataracts can be discovered in a routine eye exam, or after the patient complains of symptoms such as cloudy or blurred vision, poor color perception, glare and haloes around lights, poor night vision, double vision, or frequent eyewear prescription changes. Some of these symptoms can also be caused by diseases other than cataracts.

In the early stages, the symptoms of cataracts may be relieved by stronger eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses and magnifying lenses. However, if the cataract formation progresses, it may interfer intolerably with activities of everyday living. At this stage, surgery to remove the clouded natural lens and replace it with a synthetic one is the only effective treatment. Surgery relieves vision problems in 90% of cataract patients; however, many elderly cataract patients have other ophthalmic diseases such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration which also affects vision.

There are two different surgical procedures to remove cataracts. In phacoemulsification, also called "small incision cataract surgery", a small incision is made in the cornea, and an ultrasonic probe is used to break up the diseased lens so it can be removed by suction. Extracapsular surgery is more rarely done, and in this case the surgeon makes a longer incision on the side of the cornea and removes the core of the lens in one piece before suctioning out the remaining pieces. Following removal of the natural lens, an artificial lens, called an intraocular lens (IOL), is inserted. The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic and sedation.

Cataract surgery is usually safe, but complications such as infection, bleeding and retinal detachment occur in a few patients. Other co-existing eye disorders such as severe myopia increase this risk. Retinal detachment is a medical emergency, and can be ignored by the patient because it causes no pain. A post-operative patient who has symptoms of "floaters" or light flashes must be evaluated immediately for retinal detachment, since early treatment can prevent loss of vision.

There are protective nutritional measures against cataracts available to everyone. In a study on nutrition and disease performed by the Harvard School of Public Health on 50,828 nurses, it was found that women taking vitamin C supplements of 250 to 500 mg daily for a decade or more decreased their odds of developing cataracts requiring surgery by 45%. Vitamin A also plays a role; the same study found that women with the highest beta-carotene and vitamin A intakes lowered their risk by 39%. In another study, taking 400 mg of vitamin E daily reduced cataract formation by 50%, and in a related study, it was found that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin E had half the risk of developing cataracts as those with the lowest blood levels. Lutein and zeaxanthin, found in vegetable such as spinach and kale, are also said to be protective. Trace minerals such as zinc and selenium are essential for the function of anti-oxidant enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, and doctors often add these minerals to eye-protective vitamin formulas.

For more information on cataracts and eye surgery, visit

Solar Shed Light

Eliminate the need to run expensive underground power lines to a storage shed, pool cabana, or car port. The Solar Shed Light gets its power from the sun to light up a dark area whenever you need it, and this solar light installs easily, mounting with the included adhesive tape or screws.

Mount the solar power panel outside and run the 5-foot connecting wire into the light inside. The fluorescent light continually stores the sun's energy in the three included rechargeable batteries located inside the lamp cover. A simple pull on the drawstring will supply light any time you need it, and this solar light won't have any effect on your energy bill.

Item Includes:

  • Solar panel
  • Light
  • 3 AA rechargeable batteries
  • Mounting tape
  • Mounting screws
  • Instructions

Click this link to purchase the Solar Shed Light from the Smarthome website.

Shine a Little Light On the Backyard Grill

Battery Powered LED Grill Light

It can get dark on the patio when you're barbecuing your dinner, but you don't need to waste electricity in order to see how well done your steak is. The battery-powered LED Grill Light can light up your barbecue whenever you need it, and it clamps onto the side of your grill or any nearby spot to illuminate the area you need. The LED Grill Light is powered by the three included AA batteries.

You'll never need to replace these bulbs. Four LEDs can provide bright, white illumination for 50,000 hours. The flexible 18-inch neck bends to any angle. The LED Grill Light is outdoor- and salt-spray-tested for rugged durability.

Item Includes

  • Light
  • 3 AA batteries
  • Instructions

Click this link to purchase the LED Grill Light from the Smarthome website

Solar Powered Grill Light

The Solar Grill Light's solar panel absorbs energy from the sun to charge the batteries. A full day's light will illuminate the LEDs for 1 3/4 hours, ample time to grill your food to perfection. You'll never need to replace these bulbs. Four LEDs can provide bright, white illumination for 50,000 hours. The flexible 18-inch neck bends to any angle. The LED Grill Light is outdoor- and salt-spray-tested for rugged durability.

Item Includes

  • Light
  • 3 AA batteries
  • Instructions

Click this link to purchase the Solar Grill Light from the Smarthome website.


It's much easier to grill when you can see the food! Here's a gadget that will light your way to better grilling. The Lumatong is a set of 20 inch tongs that contains a tiny halogen flashlight cleverly attached to the handle. A bright beam of light brightens the food wherever you point the tongs. The plastic light case is detachable for easy cleaning. Now you have no excuse to burn the burgers, day or night.

Click this link to purchase the Lumatong from The Barbecue Store.

Safety Tips for Common Power Tools

By Debbie Johnston

When using power tools, safety is the most important thing to consider. Using power tools correctly and safely will ensure the safety of you and anyone else around you. Different power tools gave different procedures to make sure that they are operating safely.

The router is a great tool for shaping wood quickly and cleanly. However, there are several things to keep in mind when using a router. Test out the router on a piece of scrap metal to make sure that it is of the proper depth. If the router is too deep or not deep enough, you will ruin the wood, and could potentially harm yourself. Be sure to keep the bit away from the wood when you first start the router. When the router comes up to speed, firmly grip the handle and move the bit slowly and carefully into the object you are working on.

Reciprocating saws are used for cutting all kinds of materials, renovating and dismantling structures, and opening up walls. Naturally, this heavy-duty tool should be used with precaution. Holding the reciprocating saw with both hands when using it is a must. It is very powerful and has the ability to pull very hard on the user. The blades for this type of saw range from 6 inches to 12 inches. The blades can break, so have extras, and be careful with the blades when you are finished with the saw because the blades heat up tremendously while being used.

The power miter saw is also called a chop saw. It is used to make crisp, quick, and accurate cuts. It is often used on carpentry or picture framing. While in use, this saw should be raised off of the ground (this can be done with two-by-fours). It should be raised because the chips of wood that fall out of the machine can pile up and clog it if it is not elevated. Check the blade guard of the saw, and be sure to be cutting on a sturdy surface.

Finally, there are some general safety tips that can be applied to all power tools. Always wear goggles. This tip cannot be stressed enough. Eye injuries are very common when working with power tools, so always protect your eyes. Read all instructions thoroughly. All power tools have their little quirks. Read the instructions and learn the proper way to use the power tool. Follow warning labels. This may seem like a simple safety tip, but many people ignore warnings (for example: they stand on the very top of the ladder, and fall over). Finally, be very careful and eliminate distractions whenever possible. Following these few tips should help you be safer when using any kind of power tool.

Article Source:

Airport Follies

By kl1964

Last night I was flying home after visiting a friend for a few days. I needed to change planes in Los Angeles on the way. I requested assistance to get to my next gate, since it was in a different concourse. Those of you who regularly fly can probably guess what happened next. I hadn't gotten three steps down the jetway before I was met with an airport attendant in possession of...all together now...a wheelchair! I protested, saying I could walk just fine, I had been walking just fine, I just needed assistance to the gate. I may as well have been talking to a brick wall. "No no. Wheelchair easier." Ack! It didn't take me long to realize that arguing wasn't going to get me anywhere so into the chair I climbed, my anger quotient rising every second. I kept insisting that I didn't need this, I could walk, I wanted to walk, no effect. I'm sorry to say my tone of voice probably got somewhat, um, shrill. One thing I can't stand is the feeling that nobody is listening to me. When we got to the gate, I'm afraid I barked my answer at the gate attendant when she asked if I needed a wheelchair assist onto the plane. To her credit, she did ask me the question. I've just never been able to figure this out. I've been flying independently for over thirty years, and in all that time you'd think service would have gotten better. But it hasn't, in fact if anything it's gotten worse. I don't understand why, to some airport personnel, assistance automatically means wheelchair. My legs work just fine, and what if there's someone behind me who really, really needs one and they're one short because they're insisting I ride in one? Just doesn't make sense to me, and it sure has a tendency to make the experience of flying even more of a pain than it already is.

Article source:

Special Education Teacher's Loan Forgiveness Incentive

On February 8, 2006, a new law made permanent a loan forgiveness of up to $17,500 for new special education teachers.

If you are interested in becoming a special education teacher, this loan forgiveness could be available to you.

There is a vast shortage of special education teachers in schools throughout the nation. Job opportunities for special education teachers are plentiful in virtually every state, and in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Special educators work with students who experience a range of learning challenges, including intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, sensory disabilities, and emotional disabilities. Special education is a profession where you can truly make a difference in peoples' lives.

For more information, see the letter from the Secretary of Education at:

For more Education news issues, go to:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Play for Children with Autism

By Lesley Burton

Some of the toys that Lesley has will benefit children who are blind, visually impaired or who have multiple disabilities.

Most of us have limited time to spend looking for the kinds of toys and activities that will help to develop the children in our care. When my second son was diagnosed with autism, I spent a lot of time looking for suitable toys for children with autism. I was looking for activities to entertain him and stimulate his development in particular his play and interactive skills but it was really hard to find them.

I worked hard and built up my collection of toys for autistic children and activities and my knowledge of how to employ them. I soon realised that I was not alone in finding it difficult and that other parents of autistic children would also benefit from a one-stop parent friendly shop or catalogue to get both advice and resources to help their children develop their language and play skills. This led to the launch of a website packed with products and ideas for parents and carers of all young children but especially those with special educational needs.

The range of products includes thick wooden jigsaw puzzles with large chunky pieces and simple non-stylised pictures, lovely fabric shaped beanie bags to teach shapes and colours in a fun and tactile way, large chunky tactile shapes with big holes to encourage threading activities, cause and effect toys such as the wooden Jumping Shapes game, the Waggy Garden with its slanted posting panel so a child can see the shaped holes more easily and of course lots of tactile sensory balls such as the squirmy wormy ball.

Sensetoys helps parents find and choose which toys they need, explains how to use them and why they can work so that parents and children get the most from each product. So if you're looking for help to get started, visit

Lesley established SenseToys after many fruitless searches for toys and activities to help with the special needs of her two sons - her eldest suffered a language delay through glue ear and her second son Edward has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

As a parent, the early stages of learning about and coming to terms with even the mildest of special needs are extremely difficult and stressful times. One of the greatest frustrations is identifying practical ways to help your child while climbing a very steep learning curve in terms of understanding the problem, including learning about whole new areas of health and education provision which most parents never encounter, there is the overwhelming desire to want to be able to do something practical.

Article Source:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How to Fold a Shirt

Fold a shirt like they do at professional laundry or clothing stores.

  1. Button the top button and the third button.

  2. Lay the shirt face-down on the folding surface. You should be looking at the back of your shirt.

  3. Smooth out any puckers or wrinkles, so the shirt is flat front and back.

  4. The first fold is the right side. Fold about one-third of the body toward the center of the shirt. The fold line starts at the center of the shoulder and ends at the tail. You should see the back of your shirt with about one-third of the front folded to the back.

  5. Neatly fold the sleeve forward, creating an angled fold at the shoulder. The sleeve should line up with the edge of the first body fold.

  6. Fold the left side in the same manner.

  7. Make a fold of several inches of the shirt tail.

  8. Fold up the bottom half of the partially folded shirt. The tail should be just behind the collar of the shirt now.

  9. Turn the entire shirt over. You should have a neatly folded shirt as you typically see at a professional laundry or clothing store.

You may use a flat rectangular cardboard template (or something similar, such as a magazine) that is sized to fit between the left and right body folds. This keeps your shirts uniformly folded. Place the template on your shirt after it is face down. Finish folding. You can slide the cardboard out after the final step.

How to Make a Hospital Corner

Make neat corners for your bedsheets with four simple steps.

  1. Tuck the bottom end of the bedsheet under the mattress and smooth it out.

  2. Take the side edge of the sheet about a foot from the foot of the mattress and bring it up on top of the mattress, forming a triangle with the outside edge of the sheet.

  3. Tuck what is left of the bottom edge of the sheet under the side of the mattress, just where it falls.

  4. Bring the point of the triangle from the top of the mattress to hang down, then tuck the sides of the sheet under the mattress.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Basic Steps To Make Great Tasting Tea

By James McDonald

Not everyone knows how to make tea the correct way. Some people learn by trial and error and others have the information passed down from their parents or other relatives. Tea can be made many different ways but there are some guidelines you can follow to insure you get a great tasting cup.

Before beginning make sure you have a high quality tea from a reputable source. Try to get it as fresh as possible for the richest flavor. You also want to use fresh, high quality water. Believe it or not this can greatly affect the flavor and overall enjoyment of the tea. Some people even add a little sugar or other sweetener but this is all up to preference.

Steeping is an important process that allows the tea to flow into the water. This occurs when the tea is placed in the water for a period of time, but this will vary greatly with the type of tea you are making. Black tea usually requires boiling water of around 212 degrees for a period of 4 to 6 minutes. Oolong tea is recommended for approximately 190 to 203 degrees for a period of 3 to 5 minutes. Popular green teas should be steeped at a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees for a lesser time of 2 to 3 minutes. And finally white teas taste best when steeping occurs at 150 to 160 degrees for around 2 to 3 minutes. These are some basic guidelines to follow but always refer to the recommendations set forth by the tea manufacturer.

It is a good idea for the tea to be brewed in a large deep pan, to give ample room for expansion of up to 5 times the leafs' original size. The best way is to just brew the leaves loose in the pot as the ancient cultures once did. Plus you get the full experience of brewing tea, not just the enjoyment of the cup. To get the leaves out when steeping is done you can strain them or use a tea infuser. These are products designed to remove every excess leaf from the water at the right time.

Now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Drinking tea is a terrific way to relax with your friends.

James McDonald writes for where you can find flavored tea products including green, black, white, and other delicious teas. Read their related articles for tea information and even find a teapot or fun gifts for the tea lover in your family.

Article Source:

How to Grow a Tomato Plant

Are you yearning to grow your own sweet, juicy tomatoes? Luckily for you, tomato plants can grow almost anywhere. But as with most vegetation that produce a fruit, a little "tender, loving care" or TLC goes a long way. With adequate sunlight, water, and patience, you'll be greatly rewarded.

  1. Buy the necessary products: several small four inch pots, potting soil, a trowel, a small stick, some string, and tomato seeds.

  2. It's easiest to buy a tomato plant from a nursery and transplant it to your garden. Or you can plant from seed, which can be obtained from almost any nursery or the garden section of a department store. Good first time growers varities include Better Boy, Early Girl, Brandywine, Celebrity, or just about any cherry or grape tomato variety. If you choose to buy transplants, plant several varities rather than all of one type.

  3. For each member of your family who will eat tomatoes, plan on two plants per person as a rule of thumb. If you plan on cannning or making salsa, use up to four plants per seson.

  4. Plant the seeds. Fill each pot about halfway with potting soil. Plan on leaving an inch to 1.5 inches of "soil free" space at the top of the pot. Then, place a small cluster (2-3 seeds, about 1/4 inch apart), into this soil. Once the seeds are gently in place, cover them with 1/4 inch of soil, and fill the rest of the pot with more soil (topping the soil about 1.5 inches from the top of the rim)

  5. Choose a spot to place the plant. It is best to place tomato plants in a site receiving full sun (7 hours or more daily), and in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Tomatoes need lots of warm sunshine to taste good. Place your planted tomato seedlings outside, if it is warm enough (its too cold if below 35 degrees F)

  6. Prepare the garden bed by adding lots of compost (5 pounds per square foot) to the soil mix, as tomatoes need a growing medium rich in organic matter. If you don't make your own compost, use store-bought compost or composted manure available in the 40-pound bags.

  7. Wait about two weeks for a stem and leaves to sprout.

  8. If multiple plants emerge from a pot, wait for the plants to mature for a week or so. Then, choose the biggest of the pot as your keeper. Kill the others by pinching or cutting at the soil's edge. Pulling the runts out can disturb the roots of your good plant.

  9. Once a sturdy stem develops with at least four leaves, give the tomato plant support. Take the small stick and place it in the soil against the stem. Then tie the stem to the stick. Be careful not to tie too tightly, and harm the stem! This will allow the tomato plant to have support has it continues to grow.

  10. At four weeks after sprouting, add a half inch of potting soil to the pot. This will help the tomato become sturdier.

  11. After six to eight weeks, transplant to an outdoor garden, greenhouse, or a larger pot (about 1 cubic foot in volume, and at least six inches deep). Transplant the tomato plants about 1/4 inch below the first set of leaves. This will ensure a strong stem that later will support heavy fruit. Give the plant about 32 ounces of warm water (about 80 degree F) within ten minutes of transplanting to avoid transplant shock.

  12. Once the plant has been successfully transplanted, continue to water about 16 ounces of warm water daily per plant. Make sure that it is secure in the soil as well. After transplanting the tomato plant, make sure to reconstruct the support system composed of the stick and string. This will further promote proper vertical growth.

  13. A week or two after transplanting, use a mulch of straw, dried grass, or pine needles to control weeds and keep the soil moist during dry weather. The mulch should be at least an inch thick and surround at least a circle 12 inches in diamter.

  14. Ensure plants get 1.5 to 3 inches of rain weekly. If not, give plants 1.5 to 2.5 gallons per plant per week. Be sure to add that amount of water. The tomato plant should be watered almost daily. Check the soil for dampness, and if more watering is needed, feel free to add a little.

  15. If you use liquid fertilizer, many gardeners use half the recommended concentration per gallon, but fertilize twice as often. You can begin fertilizing when the tomato plant is at least four weeks old.

  16. Watch for fruit to appear 50 to 80 days after transplanting. Tomato plants usually have small green fruit to start. Wait until the fruit is of good size with a bright, deep red coloring. This means that the fruit is ripe and ready to pick. The texture of the fruit can also determine if it is ready to pick. Ripeness is usually determined by a soft texture.

Pick fruit a little before its peak ripening period, and allow it to ripen off the plant. It will be less prone to rot on the stem.

Unfortunately, tomatoes are prone to a number of diseases, but you can avoid most of them very easily. To prevent mold or fungal diseases, water plants in the morning, preferably by using drip irrigation or water furrows. If you spray the entire plants from above, you will increase the chances of mold/fungal spores infecting them.

When transplanting, be careful not to disturb the roots. If the roots are cut or damaged, the plant will die.

Storing Dry Rubs And Spice Blends

By Joe Johnson

Unlike most foods, spices are blessed with the cell structures necessary to maintain their flavor and aroma for long periods after they have been harvested and packaged, without fear of spoilage. High quality whole spices, dried and stored, have been known to keep for many years and then deliver potent flavor when ground. Here are some basic rules on storing and handling spices that will help protect the flavor of your purchase:

Keep them away from the stove or oven, and don't let them get wet. At the very least, they need to be kept cool and dry. Never store spices or dry rubs near the kitchen range or other source of high heat. Never store the dry rubs in a place where the containers are apt to get wet or leave the package open if the humidity gets high. Caroline's Rub spice creations are packaged in a foil, light impermeable pouch which helps to maintain the freshness of your dry rub purchase. However, you can ensure the fresh quality lasts by keeping your spices and dry rubs somewhere cool and dry. Cool means no higher than 68 F (20 C) and dry is no higher than 60% relative humidity.

Storing your dry rubs and spices in a kitchen cupboard is always better than storing them on a spice rack mounted to a wall.

Use your refrigerator. If possible, cold storage (32 F to 45 F / 0 C to 7 C ) is highly recommended. At 70 to 80 F (21 C to 27 C), some products will lose about 1% of their color every 10 days. At higher temperatures, losses are even more rapid. In cold storage, however, color and flavor loss is reduced to ½% every 10 days allowing you to enjoy your purchase for as long as one year.

No bright lights. Because many of Caroline's Rub creations contain ingredients that are light sensitive (such as paprika), it is best not to expose your spices or dry rubs to direct light sources such as the sun, for extended periods. Always make sure to tightly close the zipper seal on the packaging to ensure your product remains fresh and flavorful.

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USB Data Link Transfer Cable

Picture this. You and a friend want to share some files. I'm not talking about a few document files, I mean lots of files! You have two options immediately available on most Windows based computers. You can either connect the two computers with network cables, which requires you to setup a small network in Windows or you can burn those files to CDs or DVDs, which will take up a lot of your time.

The fastest way to transfer the files would be through a network or by using an external hard drive. Do you have the right cable for this? Do you know how to configure Windows to connect the computers? Do you want to spend over $100 to transfer the files? Why go through all this difficulty when the answer is as simple as USB?

With the USB Data Link Transfer Cable you can easily copy or move files from one computer to another. It's as easy to use as plugging each end of the cable into the PCs you wish to move files between. It will automatically display the drive contents of each computer allowing the sighted user to simply drag-and-drop whichever files or folders they need to transfer. People who use screen readers can transfer files by highlighting the files in one window and using the copy or paste keyboard commands in the other. It's also USB 2.0 compliant and will copy at speeds up to 25Mb/sec.

Click this link to learn more about the USB Data Link Transfer Cable from the ThinkGeek website.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Unstick That Sticky Pie Dough

You are making some pie crust and it keeps sticking to the rolling pin.

You hate to add more flour or work it too much more as it will get tough.

If your dough has the right consistancy, but it is still sticking, your dough probably got too warm.

Wrap the pie dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes and try again.

Tips for Cleaning a Mattress

A suitable mattress cleaner should be used for those unfortunate accidents that happen while in bed. You can't simply let the mattress dry and forget the accident ever happened. Your mattress may be dry, but the odour will linger and the stain will be set.

Young children, pets and even adults have been having accidents in bed, and that's not about to stop any time soon. Whether it's urine, vomit or you just happen to spill something while having breakfast in bed, you should have a good quality mattress cleaner at hand. The question is what to use, and what actually works to remove those awful stains and odours.

There are a variety of products that can be used as mattress cleaners. These include Natures Miracle, Bane-Clene which is great for allergies, and a well recommended mattress cleaner used by the hotel industry called ProKlean. If you don't have any of these, there is still hope. A good quality upholstery shampoo usually does the job, and can be purchased just about anywhere.

The sooner you treat the affected surface, the easier it will be to remove the odour and stain, so if you happen to have upholstery shampoo in your home, try that.

Nothing is worse than having spent a large sum of money on a good quality pillowtop mattress and finding that your dog has just urinated on it. You always have the option to call a professional mattress cleaner, but sometimes the situation can be a little embarrassing, not to mention expensive. It's always better to do your own dirty work when possible.

If you don't have a good cleaner on hand for wet accidents, you can start by blotting up the wetness with paper towels.

Once you have gotten as much as you can, sprinkle the spot with baking soda.

As it dries it will absorb the remaining liquid as well as help dissipate the smell.

Once dry, brush off or vacuum up the remaining baking soda.

A mattress cleaner is not only useful for accidents, we also sweat alot when we sleep, and over time, your mattress just doesn't smell as fresh as it did when you first purchased it. To regain that fresh smell, first vacuum the mattress surface on both sides before using your preferred mattress cleaner. This will rid your mattress of dust and mites. Second, remember to change the sheets frequently.

Travel Tips for the Business Woman

Women today travel constantly and all over the world. Most manage to successfully juggle a professional life with a private one. Statistics reveal that almost 50% of business travelers are women and the number continues to grow each day. Travel at short notice means being organized and ready to go. Be smart and plan well ahead.

  1. Keep on tab a list of baby sitters who would be willing to pitch in, even overnight if required. Keep a small book handy in which you jot down things like what the kids eat, their schedules, important phone numbers, likes and dislikes, as well as numbers of the doctors and list of medications including known allergies.

  2. Keep a travel bag always packed and ready to go. Pack a combination of clothes so that they will tide you over irrespective of the weather at your destination. Wear easy to maintain and dark colored clothes on trips. They don't show stains, are wrinkle free and will drape well.

  3. It is wise to snack before a flight and to sleep during the flight. This way you will arrive at your destination refreshed. Be sure to drink plenty of bottled water during travel.

  4. Set up a schedule to call home at time zones that work for you and your loved ones. Make it a point to get mementoes for your family, baby sitter and others who pick up the slack while you're away.

  5. Put safety first. Always place a "do not disturb" sign on your hotel door and keep it locked with the safety latch secured. If you're still nervous, Keep your cell phone on and fully charged by you and carry protection in the form of pepper spray or an audible alarm.

  6. Avoid dark lanes and abandoned roads. Never talk to strangers or accept food or drink from someone you don't know. Never leave food or drink unattended. Be vigilant at all times.

  7. Choose a hotel with care. Stay at well established hotels or small inns and B&B where the proprietors are generally "family" people. Always e-mail and fax details of your staying arrangements and travel plans to your home as well as office.

  8. Carry important documents, money, traveler's checks, and passports in a money belt worn around your waist.

  9. Be confident and move around in groups. There's safety in numbers.

  10. If you should become ill, go to a state run hospital. Never to a private clinic.

  11. Arrange with your family to take appropriate action if you do not get in touch with them as planned.

  12. Avoid room service and eat in the hotel dining room. Never reveal details of where you come from or your travel plans to anyone.

Event Planning: A Strategic Overview

By Michael Russell

Good planning and preparation is the key to any successful event. However, ensuring that you have attended to every detail can be exhausting and it is very easy to overlook something which may adversely affect your event outcome. Planning an event can be stressful at the best of times if you are not organised, but when we are talking about large scale events, like a wedding or business conference, it can become overwhelming. It is therefore essential that you, as the event organiser, have planned all the steps needed before embarking upon action. If unforeseen events occur, then the plan can be modified to take account of this. The point is, that you have thought about each step needed in the event planning process.

It is possible to hire professional services to plan events such as weddings and parties. If you are an extremely busy person and can afford it, than employing a professional may be the way to go. However, if the budget won't stretch or you would just like the challenge and satisfaction that comes with planning a successful event yourself, then there are some simple pieces of advice that you can follow to help you succeed.

Start by listing all the things that will need to be done to bring your event to fruition. It is a good idea to show the list to others to see if they can think of anything that you may have missed. It is vital that everything is written down. Any lists, plans, schedules, etc. should not remain in your head. The pressures of day to day life make this unreliable. They must be written down. Put the tasks on your list into a step by step plan. Schedule a date/time and deadline for each task and ensure that your overall timescale is realistic and will allow you time to seek alternative courses of action if needed. This is very important, as many people try to carry out their event plan in too short a timescale, leaving them no room to manoeuvre if things go wrong.

Keep tabs on your list and as each step is completed, check it off so you always know what has been done and what remains to be done. If the course of events dictate new or alternative actions, then add them to the list and your step by step plan. Always stay current with your master list/plan. This way you will remain in strategic control of your event planning. If you delegate a task, make sure that the person responsible is clear about what outcome is expected and has a deadline to work to. Ask them to inform you immediately if problems occur. It is probably a good idea also to check politely on progress from time to time, offering help if needed. Make sure that invitations are sent out in plenty of time for people to make their arrangements to attend. These days life is very busy and no event can be a success without guests.

Think carefully of the needs of your guests and how you will gather this information. Examples of things to consider are dietary needs and access facilities. Taking care of these at the planning stage will help your event to be a successful and enjoyable one.

Remember to build time into your event to socialise with your guests and enjoy the occasion. After all the hard work of event planning you will certainly deserve it! Planning an event can be demanding, but with careful planning and organisation it can be extremely satisfying. Knowing that a successful and enjoyable event is down to your efforts will make all the work time well spent.

For more information, visit the Event Planning Guide at

Article Source:

Friday, April 14, 2006

Teacher Appreciation: 10 Creative Teacher Gift Ideas

By Cari Young

When you have an exceptional teacher, you want to honor him or her in an extraordinary way. Anyone who has been teaching for a few years already has an extensive collection of assorted items decorated with apples. If you really appreciate your child's teacher, you want to go above and beyond the ordinary gift. Here are a few creative ideas.

  • Words from the Heart: Many teachers say that the most precious gift they ever received was a heartfelt note from a parent about how the teacher impacted a child's life. This costs nothing but can be priceless to the teacher who receives it. Try to think of specific things the teacher said or did that helped your child to learn more or to become a better person. Put them in a handwritten letter and deliver it to your child's teacher.

  • Scrapbooks: I have seen tough teachers cry when presented with a well-made scrapbook. Assemble pictures of each child, class parties and field trips. Collect thank you notes from each student, and put them together with the photos in a pre-made photo album or scrapbook. Not only can the teacher remember a special year, she can also share the scrapbook with her friends and family, to show them the significance of her work.

  • Dinner: Do you think that your child's teacher is exhausted at the end of the day? Do you think that when she gets home, no matter how tired she is, her kids are asking what's for dinner, just like your kids do? Give a teacher a break with either a home-cooked meal or a restaurant gift certificate.

  • Magazines: All teachers want to encourage students to read more. Often they stretch their own paycheck to buy books and other reading materials to have on hand for students who finish work early or need extra reading practice. There are many educational magazines that a teacher would love to receive for the classroom (Arthur, Ranger Rick, Kids Discover, or National Geographic Kids, to name a few). And this gift keeps giving for a whole school year.

  • Treat a Day: Over the course of a week, put a small treat with a note in your teacher's box each day. She'll have a surprise to look forward to each morning! Monday: a Payday candy bar with a note: "Thought you could use an extra payday." Tuesday: Junior Mints, or any other mint candy with a note: "You mint so much to us this year." Wednesday: A package of nuts with a note: "We're nuts about our teacher." Thursday: Hershey's Hugs with a note: "Hugs for our favorite teacher." Friday: A candle with a note: "You have brightened our child's life."

  • Shirts: This teacher gift will never collect dust because it will be worn again and again. For one day a week, your favorite teacher's morning routine will go more quickly because she will not have to think about what to wear to school. Many companies make teacher shirts with colorful graphics and pro-teacher messages in a variety of styles and colors.

  • Public Praise: The difficult work that teachers do often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about the wonderful things that your favorite teacher does for his students. Not only will the teacher enjoy the letter (especially the copy you put in his box at school), but he will probably receive congratulations from others in your community who read the letter!

  • Books: Almost every teacher loves books and reading. There are many types of books which make great teacher appreciation gifts: inspirational teacher books, picture books about special teachers, humorous school stories, and collections of poems about school. A teacher can look back on a gift book throughout the year when she needs encouragement on a tough day.

  • World Changers: Many organizations sell gifts which can change the world. You can adopt a zoo animal or donate a chicken to a third world family, all in the name of your child's teacher. Often these organizations will provide certificates and newsletters to the teacher, adding educational value to a gift that's already heartwarming.

  • Wild Ideas: For the teacher who has absolutely everything, try something wild and crazy to let him know how much you appreciate him. Put a bright pink flamingo in his front yard, with a sign around the flamingo's neck saying: "We were tickled pink to have Mr. Smith for a teacher this year." Won't that be a great Monday morning surprise?

Cari Young is a mom and former teacher, who is working to transform education through teacher appreciation, with creative teacher appreciation events and exceptional teacher gift ideas at

Article Source:

Solving The Utensil Puzzle

By Lydia Ramsey

Many people know how to navigate place settings and know when to use each utensil. How to hold those knives, forks and spoons, where to put them when you are not using them and what to do with them at the end of the course or the meal may still be a challenge. Glancing around you while dining out and trying to get a clue from others may not solve the problem. A quick study of people eating out will reveal that there are almost as many ways to hold a knife or fork as there people using them.

The fork is held between the first knuckle of the third finger and the tip of the index finger with the thumb to steady the handle. This is much the same way that you would hold a pencil although observation will tell you that there are variations on that as well.

The knife is held between your thumb and third finger with the index finger resting on the top of the blade. If this seems awfully basic, look around. You'll find people gripping the knife like a dagger and holding the fork like a miniature cello.

There are two differing styles of eating: American and Continental. The difference between the two is primarily how you hold the knife and fork while taking food to your mouth and what you do with them while resting between bites.

The American Style is the one most commonly used in this country and is often referred to as the zigzag method. When you are cutting your food, the fork is in the left hand with tines down and the handle between your thumb and third finger. Your index finger rests on the back of the handle. The knife is in your right hand at this point. Assuming that you are right-handed, when you are ready to take the food to your mouth, you put the knife down (on your plate, blade facing in) and switch the fork to your right hand. Tines go up as the food goes to your mouth.

The Continental or European Style is less formal and actually seems more efficient. The knife and fork are held the same way as they are for the American Style when you cut food. The difference is that the fork is not moved to the right hand nor is it turned tines up when food is taken to the mouth. The knife can remain in your right hand while you chew. The knife then becomes more versatile. You can use it to move food onto the back of your fork (which is kept in the tines down position). However, it is still not permissible to wave it around or use it to punctuate your conversation.

One more point to keep in mind when cutting your food; cut only one bite at a time. If you are thinking that your mother always cut up all your food at one time, that was because she wanted to be able to eat her dinner uninterrupted, not because it was good table manners.

(c) 2006, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted so long as article and by-line are published intact and with all links made live.

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at or visit Manners That Sell:

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Deterring Picnic Ants

When you are out on a picnic you can easily deter ants from your table by taking along a few larger cans.

Find cans that will easily fit under the legs of your picnic table.

Fill each can with about a half an inch or so of water.

Now the ants won't be able to crawl up the leg of the table and into your food.

Cleaning the Window Blinds

You've just moved into the perfect apartment. Everything's just as it should be. As with most apartments, the owners didn't clean things up to your satisfaction, especially the window blinds. You've cleaned every surface, vacuumed the carpets, and now you get to the part you just hate, cleaning the blinds.

You can clean them quickly and easily by placing socks or cotton gloves on your hands.

Now just run your hands over the slats of the blinds to easily clean them off.

Once you're done just drop your "gloves" in the wash. Won't that be easy?

Tips for Packing Dishes

You are having to pack up the house to get ready to move. You have all the big stuff taken care of, now you are down to the dishes.

The easiest way to pack your plates is to pick up a package of paper plates.

When you're ready, pack a regular plate, then a paper plate. Alternate between each one until all your dishes are packed. This will help to keep the dishes from rubbing together.

Make sure that the box is clearly marked as dishes and pack the top and the bottom very well with newspaper.

Now when you get to the new house you can unpack your dishes and still have some paper plates to use for the first few nights with out worrying about washing dishes.

Pepper Pro Automatic Peppermill with Light

People who are visually impaired often need a little extra light in the kitchen. I would have never thought of putting a light in this type of product, but I'm glad somebody did.

Have your pepper like you've never had it before with this Pepper Pro Automatic Peppermill with Light. Simply put, you can now grind pepper electronically with a touch of a button, and watch as the quiet motor does its work. It is also fully adjustable from fine to coarse grind to get what you want. Also features a high intensity light. Includes spare light bulb and peppercorns. Uses 4 AA batteries (not included). Measures 8.5" x 2 and is made of chrome.

Click this link to purchase the Pepper Pro Automatic Peppermill with Light from the Wrapables website.

Easy Iced Tea

You just love making iced tea, but it can be really time consuming to make and a little messy.

To make a quick and easy pot of iced tea use your coffee maker.

Grab 2 or 3 tea bags and place in the basket of your automatic coffee maker.

Add the water and prepare as you would coffee.

When it is done brewing, grab a large plastic juice container and fill with ice. (don't use glass, it might break from the temperature change)

Pour your hot tea over the ice and add sugar to taste.

Things to Consider When Searching for An Apartment

The search for the perfect apartment need not be an ordeal. If you go about the process systematically, you'll find the most convenient and best apartment for you and your family.

The first step is to jot down answers to practical aspects like how big should the apartment be. What size of rooms do I need for my furniture? Do I need one bedroom or more? Do I need parking? Should there be a park/school nearby?

Study a map of the city you are going to live in and locate your place of employment. Then study the residential possibilities in and around that area or choose a beautiful, healthy, and safe environment away from work.

Work out your finances. Decide how much rent you can afford and whether you can give a substantial deposit.

Keep a watch out for "apartments available" classifieds in the newspapers and magazines and, spread the word that you are looking for a place. Tell the people at work, the grocer, friends and family, as well as local agents (however you will need to pay their charges). Be innovative and have someone drive around areas you have short listed as "possibilities" and look for signs that indicate there are places for rent.

View the apartments in the day time. Ask others who live in the building or area what their experience has been. Read through the agreement carefully and check whether the electricity, heaters, and air conditioners are working and whether the plumbing is functional.

Check things like is there a separate entrance, enough closets, does the building have washer/dryer facilities, what about cable TV and internet, and are pets and children welcome, what are the rules to be followed by tenants? Check how you feel about the apartment. Think do you see yourself living here? Do the windows have a view or do they look into other homes.

Be vigilant and check the condition of the building, what are the hallways and surroundings like, is there any garbage dump close by? Are windows safe and secure, does the building have adequate security, what are the nearby amenities, are you to pay for utilities or is it included in the rent?

In order to establish your credentials as a suitable tenant you will need to show the landlord a credit evaluation, your pay stub, or tax return, one or two references, as well as give a small introduction of yourself explaining where you are from, where you work, how many people will live at the apartment and so on.

The key to success is not to overspend and keep to your budget. Rent should ideally not exceed one quarter of the monthly income. Ensure that the neighborhood is safe and has everything you need close by. Always do comparison shopping. Have a clear idea of what rent is in the neighborhood. Be careful and check the apartment and neighborhood out at least three times at different times of the day.

Be sure the lease protects your rights as well as that of the landlord. Find out what rules would apply if for some reason you need to break the lease before it runs out. A place must give you a feeling of warmth and welcome and ideally the neighbors must be friendly.

Online Resources for Locating Schools and Universities

You can find a cross-referenced listing of ALL public schools, private schools and colleges in the USA at the following sites:

Each site allows you to browse by state & city, or search for a school by name and/or location.

Each directory provides the name, address, phone number and other information about the schools in a city. For public schools, you can see the name of the school district, other schools in that county, grades covered, number of students, full-time teachers, and the student/teacher ratio. For private schools, you'll find the same stats for students and teachers, the type and affiliation, and whether it's co-ed, all boys or all girls. The college directory contains listings for all colleges, universities, junior colleges, community colleges and even trade schools.

Each page is cross-referenced with links to public schools, private schools and colleges in a particular state or city, as well as a list of nearby cities.

Preserving Oregano

You just went shopping and found a great bundle of fresh Oregano. You get it home, and you are wondering how you can store it?

First grab a large bowl and fill it up with cool water. Break the bundle into the bowl and rinse well. Pick through the bunch and discard any pieces that are starting to die or look decayed.

Remove and gently shake off any excess water. (Don't use a salad spinner as it will bruise the leaves)

Grab a vase, jar or glass and fill with water. You will want a container that will hold the herb snugly with the leaves just above the rim. Place your herbs in the container making sure that all of the stems are in the water.

Grab the produce bag that you brought your herbs home in and gently place over the top.

Place the jar in your refrigerator and monitor it. Every couple of days you will want to check the water, if it starts to look murky, replace it and add fresh water. Trim off any stems that might look like they are going bad.

Oregano should stay fresh for about a month if stored in this manner.

Online Dating Services for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind estimates there are currently 10 million blind people living in the United States, and it's believed that half of them have computers with access to the Internet. Those in search of love can now log onto two websites to find their match.

Dominic Carrejo was a basic trainee in his 20s planning a long future in the Army. He later developed an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and his vision deteriorated. Eventually, Carrejo found love and married, but he noticed some of his blind friends were struggling.

As a way to help, he created the Website Love is Blind. Every month the site has a featured member and clients can determine whether someone has what they're looking for in terms of love or marriage. So far the site has attracted clients from Canada and Australia. Those who aren't visually impaired are welcome as well.

Click this link to visit Love is Blind at

Whether you're single or single again, Dating4Disabled wants to help you express yourself, make friends, and hopefully find a partner for life.

Developed by a group of volunteers whose goal is to provide more social, intellectual and romantic outlets for disabled individuals, this growing community, has become an international gathering place, home to members from over 15 countries worldwide. It is a place for people of all nationalities, backgrounds and life-challenges to share, connect and just be heard through forums, a dating service, private chats, and blogs. Membership is free and at sign-up users create a profile which tailors their online preferences and allows them to customize their interactions by type of relationship, life-challenge, location, interests and more.

Dating4Disabled is formatted to be accessible to those with vision impairments, incorporating large font options and supporting icon comments. It is also compatible with most screen readers, including JAWS.

Click this link to visit the Dating4Disabled website:

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Checklist for Setting Up a Home

By Mark Nash

No matter how many times I've set up a new home, there have always been too many trips to a variety of stores for a couple more things to make my new house a home. This check list is the result of my involvement the last couple of years investing in Florida properties that I renovate and then stock with everything including the silverware. Seasonal real estate buyers in the market will pay a premium for turn-key homes, where all they have to do is wheel their luggage into the home. My latest and fourth book 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home started me on this enjoyable voyage of helping others through their home purchase and selling maze.


  • Cutting board
  • Microwave
  • Coffee maker
  • Electric mixer
  • Toaster
  • Blender
  • 1-Quart covered saucepan
  • 2-Quart covered saucepan
  • 4-Quart pot
  • 10 Inch skillet with cover
  • 2-Quart rectangular baking dish
  • 15" X 10" X 2" baking pan
  • 2-Cookie sheets
  • Wire cooling racks
  • Mixing bowl set
  • Timer
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine opener/ corkscrew
  • Can opener
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Colander
  • Steamer
  • Chef's knife
  • Paring knife
  • Serrated knife
  • Knife sharpener
  • Rubber spatulas
  • Tongs
  • Slotted spoon
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Wooden spoons
  • Ladle
  • Dish towels
  • Pot holders
  • Silverware, serving spoons
  • Everyday dinnerware, serving bowls,soup bowls
  • Glassware
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Glass pitcher
  • Coffee mugs
  • Paper towel holder
  • Storage containers


  • Sofa
  • Lounge chair
  • Coffee and end tables
  • Entertainment center
  • Dining table and side chairs
  • Head board and foot board
  • Box spring and mattress
  • Nightstands
  • Dresser
  • Desk/Computer station


  • Votive candle holders
  • Votive candles
  • Floor and table lamps
  • Casual throw pillows
  • Artwork
  • Decorative mirrors
  • Window treatments
  • Area rugs
  • Flower vase
  • Green plants
  • Plant stands


  • Bed sheets, pillowcases
  • Bed skirt
  • Blanket
  • Casual throw
  • Mattress pad
  • Bath towels
  • Bath mat
  • Shower curtain
  • Shower curtain liner
  • Shower curtain hooks
  • Shower curtain rods
  • Guest towels
  • Dish towels
  • Place mats and napkins
  • Tablecloth

Cleaning and household supplies

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Ironing board and cover
  • Iron
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Floor mop
  • Cleaning bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Scrub pads
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Wax paper
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Paper Napkins
  • Kleenex
  • Toilet paper
  • Glass cleaner
  • Soap and scum cleaner
  • Floor cleaner
  • Dust cleaner
  • Laundry detergent, dryer sheets,liquid softener
  • Spray starch
  • Kitchen waste basket
  • Bathroom waste basket


  • Laundry basket
  • Clothes hangers, shirts, pants, ties
  • Wine rack
  • First aid kit
  • Sewing kit
  • Smoke detector
  • Carbon Monoxide detector
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Full length mirror
  • Tool kit, hammer,screw drivers
  • Hardware, nails,drywall screws,picture hanging hooks
  • Extension cords

Article Source:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Select It All In Windows

Have you ever wanted to highlight a complete document or page all at once instead of dragging your mouse all the way from the bottom to the top of the page just so you can copy and paste it somewhere else? Are you tired of holding down the shift key while arrowing down line by line? If it is two pages or more, it can get redundant to use your mouse or arrow keys for all of the text. Sometimes your finger slips off the mouse or shift key and you have to start all over again. You've had that one happen more than once I'll bet.

If you're tired of all that nonsense, you can select all of the text on a page all at one time. All you have to do is select it all!

There are two ways you can do this. One is going to the Edit menu in whatever program you're working in (a Web page, MS Word, etc) and choose Select All. That will highlight the complete page of text, pictures, etc. Then you can just copy and paste the material wherever you want it. The job will be done much faster than using your mouse or arrowing down the page!

The other way to select it all is by using Ctrl + A. This keyboard shortcut will do the exact same thing. Just click once on the page you want to copy, press Ctrl+A at the same time and poof, it's done! People who use a screen reader simply hit Ctrl+A and everything is selected.

Assistive Technology Help Desk at The Chicago Lighthouse

In an effort to accommodate people with visual impairments in need of technical support, The Chicago Lighthouse has established a telephone assistive technology support line.

The toll free number for the new service is 888-TCL-0080 or 888-825-0080. Any blind or visually impaired person can call the support line regardless of what product they're using. It can be any hardware or software relating to assistive technology as long as the customer is visually impaired.

They also encourage calls from teachers and other individuals who work with people who are visually impaired as well as other interested parties. The intent is to offer a one stop place where people who are blind or visually impaired can get the assistance they need.

If the issue can't be resolved over the phone, they will schedule an on-site visit as long as the customer resides in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The Chicago Lighthouse was founded in 1906 by a group of women volunteers who were both blind and sighted and offered housing, clothing and food assistance to people who were blind. Since then, The Chicago Lighthouse has evolved into the most comprehensive private rehabilitation and educational facility in Illinois dedicated exclusively to assisting children, youth and adults who are blind, visually impaired or multi-disabled.

The Chicago Lighthouse strives to improve the quality of life for individuals who are blind or visually impaired and open doors to opportunities, jobs and choices that lead to enhanced dignity and increased independence.

The Chicago Lighthouse is a not-for-profit agency committed to providing the highest quality educational, clinical, vocational and rehabilitation services for children, youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired, including deaf-blind and multi-disabled. Through its comprehensive range of programs and services, The Chicago Lighthouse respects personal dignity and partners with individuals to enhance independent living and self-sufficiency. The Chicago Lighthouse is a leader, innovator and advocate for people who are blind or visually impaired, enhancing the quality of life for all individuals involved, and for the community.

The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
1850 West Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608-1298
Phone: 312-666-1331
TDD: 312-666-8874
Fax: 312-243-8539

The Windows Calculator

Ever have trouble finding your hand held talking calculator when you need it right away? Sometimes they seem to hide in secret places and it can be frustrating when you can't find them.

How about using the calculator on your computer instead? I guarantee you won't ever lose this one. Just go to Start, All Programs, Accessories and choose Calculator. A little calc will pop up and you use your mouse to punch in the numbers that you need. You can also access the numbers and commands through the keyboard.

The plus (+), minus (-), multiply (x), division (/) and percent (%) signs are off to the right and it even has a fraction (1/x) and squareroot (sqrt) button in case you need those. There's also a Backspace button for when you accidentally type in the wrong thing. All these functions have keyboard entry as well.

You can go to the View menu and switch it over to a scientific calculator if you need a more advanced calc. That one comes with a bunch of other features as well, all located under the View menu. If you need any Help working the calculator, just go to the Help menu and check out the Help Topics. It's a really easy way to use a calculator when you're doing your online banking, etc.

You can also access the calculator by going to Start, Run and typing in "calc" (without the quotations).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Disability Podcast from the BBC

The BBC's disability website Ouch! has launched a trial podcast that confronts disability head-on in a correctly politically incorrect fashion. The Ouch website - - started in summer 2002. It provides a wider context when reporting on the lives and experiences of disabled people who have previously only been targeted with help and support content.

The downloadable talk show seemingly breaks all the rules in a very listenable 40 minute programme that gives an insight into contemporary disability life.

This podcast is a six month trial from to ascertain what kind of service a modern disabled audience may want and in what format.

Details on the podcast and how to listen are at

You can subscribe to The Ouch Podcast free by cutting and pasting the following line into iTunes or your chosen podcast software, so that you always get the latest show:

The producer of the website and podcast, Damon Rose, can be reached on 020 8752 4427.

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