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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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Find That Page in Your Document, Jump To It!

Picture this: you're working on a big document in Microsoft Word and you're making some adjustments just on page 17, but you forgot something you needed on page one. So, what do you do? You end up scrolling all the way back up to the first page. Once you find what you needed, you have to go all the way back down to page 17. Make it stop!

Here's a quick way to solve that conundrum. Simply hold down the Shift key and press F5. The cursor will automatically jump to the exact place where the cursor was before you moved it.

Now, even better. You're still on page 17 and you save and close the document. When you re-open it, the cursor will be at the very top of the first page. Press Shift+F5 again and you'll immediately jump right back to where you were on page 17. How lovely is that?!

Note: you must save documents in the Microsoft Word format for this trick to work. This trick may not be compatible with all screen readers and screen magnification programs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Magic of F2 in MS Word

When you go to move text in Word, what do you do?

Highlight the text to be moved, then use the mouse to drag and drop it to a new location? Or, do you highlight the text then use the cut / paste options?

Either way, it's a lot of steps and for many people it involves removing your hands from the keyboard to use the mouse.

Well, for those of you who are always looking for a way to do it "mouse-less," here's a trick for moving your text without leaving the keyboard.

You still need to highlight the text to be moved. (If you're looking to reduce mouse use, then be sure to use the Shift key in combination with the arrow keys to complete your highlighting).

Now hit the F2 key.

At this point, you're ready to tell Word where to put your selection. Simply use the arrow keys or Page Up / Page Down to move the cursor to the new location. (If you change your mind,hit the Esc key and the F2 effect will be removed).

When you've found the correct spot hit the Enter key.

Selection moved-no mouse required.

What's My Computer Been Doing?

Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to tell if someone else has been using your computer? For example, to find out the last time it was booted?

Windows XP has an Event Viewer to help you keep track of what your computer is doing. An event is anything noteworthy that happens to your computer. To bring up the Event Viewer, go to Start/Run and type the following:

eventvwr.msc

Events are stored in three log files: Application, Security and System. These logs can be reviewed and archived.

For our purposes, we want the System log. Click on "System" in the left-hand column for a list of events. Look for a date and time when you weren't home and your computer should have been off.

By double-clicking the event, you can get more details on what the event was. Just click on the link that says, "For more information." You can also use this log to see how long someone was on the computer. Just look at the time the computer was turned on and off for that day. Oh look, Junior was on for six hours! No wonder the yard work wasn't done.

Arrow Tricks in Windows Word Processors

Do you ever wonder about all those neat little tricks you can do with your keyboard? There are so many, that if you learned them all, you wouldn't ever have to use a mouse again. Crazy, huh? Well, to get you started, here's a cool little arrow trick to try with word processing programs.

Next time you're using your arrow keys to go from one area of a sentence to another (left and right arrows), hold down your CTRL key. Instead of moving one space at a time, you'll go one word at a time.

If you're using the up and down arrows to go from line to line, holding down the CTRL key will make your cursor jump from paragraph to paragraph (well, from carriage return to carriage return anyway).

One last thing, if you hold down the SHIFT key while you do this (i.e. hold down SHIFT + CTRL at the same time), you select text as you arrow along.

I've tested this in MS Word and Wordpad, but it *should* work no matter what word processing program you use.

Monopoly Mods

Monopoly is one of the best games ever invented, in my opinion but even it can use some additional excitement now and then. Maybe using some of the Monopoly Home Rules would help liven things up a bit. Here's an example of what you'll find:

Start At Corners

Rule: Players put their tokens at the four corners of the board rather than Go as their starting positions. The player on "Go to Jail" does not. Players should be spread evenly to all the corners, and which player starts at which corner should be determined randomly.

Reason: By starting in different locations, the players are less likely to land on properties already owned by players who went before them.

Click this link to learn more Monopoly Home Rules: http://wiki.playagaingames.com/tiki-index.php?page=MonopolyHomeRules.

How to Play Kalah

Kalah, also called mancala or "the game of intelligence," was played by the pharaohs of Egypt at least 3,000 years ago. The object is to collect as many pebbles as possible.

Make a Kalah Game Board

  1. Cut the lid off an empty egg carton.
  2. Place the bottom part of the carton on the table. Each egg holder is a "pit" for placing pebbles.
  3. Place six small pebbles, beads or other objects in each pit. For beginning players, place three pebbles in each pit.
  4. Place a paper cup at each end of the egg carton. These are the "kalah," or scoring pits.


Play Kalah



  1. Sit facing your opponent with the kalah game board between you. The six pits (or egg holders) in front of you and the kalah (paper cup) to your right belong to you. The others belong to your opponent.
  2. Flip a coin to decide which player will go first.
  3. Pick up all the pebbles from any one of your pits.
  4. Place the pebbles, one at a time, into each pit to the right (counterclockwise) around the board, including your own kalah, but not your opponent's kalah.
  5. Take another turn if your last pebble lands in your own kalah.
  6. Place your last pebble in an empty pit on your own side, and you capture all of your opponent's pebbles in the opposite pit.
  7. Place the captured pebbles and your capturing pebble in your kalah.
  8. Take turns placing pebbles in the pits until all six pits on one side of the board are empty.
  9. Place any pebbles remaining on your side into your own kalah.
  10. Count the number of pebbles in each player's kalah. The player with the most pebbles is the winner.

Once a player touches the pebbles, he must play them. You are not allowed to touch the pebbles to count them.

In some kalah versions, including some online games, players have the kalah on their left and play moves clockwise (in contrast to the kalah being on the right and moving counterclockwise as described above). It really doesn't matter which version you use.

Remember, small game pieces such as pebbles and beads are choking hazards for very young children.

Monday, January 23, 2006

How to Play Seven-Card Stud

Players make their best five-card poker hands using the seven cards dealt to them individually. Multiple rounds of betting occur as the cards are dealt.

   

  1. Collect the ante from each player.
  2. Begin the game by dealing three cards to each player, the first two face down and the last face up.
  3. Follow with a round of betting.
  4. Deal the fourth, fifth and sixth cards face up to each player, with a round of betting after each card is dealt.
  5. Deal the seventh and final card face down to each player.
  6. Finish with a round of betting.
  7. Determine the winner.
    

Your position at the table can often dictate your playing style. For instance, if you're last to play, you might try to bluff and steal the pot when appropriate. If you're first to play while holding a strong hand, you might bet small and allow players after you to drive up the stakes.   

Seven-Card Stud requires a keen eye, as many cards are visible on the table. Making deductions based on the cards you can see is part of a winning strategy.   

Don't walk into a casino or card house expecting to win until you've practiced the game on your own and understand it thoroughly. Experienced players at these tables look forward to relieving "live fish" of their money, and you could end up learning expensive lessons.

How to Play Oh, Heck

This card game is excellent for large groups of players of all ages and abilities. The minimum number of players is three.

The Deal and Bids



  1. Shuffle and cut a standard deck of 52 playing cards.
  2. Deal clockwise, one card face down to each player.
  3. Turn up the top card on the remaining deck. The suit of this card is trump.
  4. Bid on how many tricks you will take. Bidding starts with the person to the left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise once around the table.
  5. End bidding with the dealer, who must ensure that someone will lose. In the first round, if everyone has bid "zero" tricks, the dealer must bid "one." If one person bid "one," the dealer must also bid "one."
  6. Record bids on a score pad as they are made.


Play



  1. Start play by having the person to the left of the dealer place his card face up in the center of the table. Follow in order, with each player placing his or her card on the table near the first card.
  2. Determine who won the hand, or trick. The highest card in the suit first led wins, unless someone played a trump card; you can play a trump card if you are out of the suit that was led. The highest trump card wins.
  3. Score the round. A player gets 10 points for every trick over or under his or her bid.
  4. Record the scores.

Points are not good in this game.

Ace is high.

Continuing Play

  1. Make the person to the left of the first dealer the dealer for the next round.
  2. Shuffle the deck and cut the cards.
  3. Deal two cards to each player this time. Deal one card at a time, going around the table twice.
  4. Turn over the top card on the remaining deck to designate trump.
  5. Bid as before, estimating how many tricks you will take.
  6. Continue the bidding clockwise, ending with the dealer. Record bids as they are made.
  7. End bidding with the dealer, who must ensure that someone loses.
  8. Play the first trick. The winner of the first trick will lead his or her last card.
  9. Determine the winner of the second trick.
  10. Score the round.
  11. Continue playing, adding another card each time the cards are dealt.
  12. Determine how long you want this game to go on, and declare a winner or winners when that point is reached.

One option is to play until someone scores 100. Or continue adding to the number of cards dealt until there are not enough cards to go around. Then reduce the number of cards dealt by one each round until after you've gone back to one card. End the game there.

You can also keep an indefinite running score over a long period of time. A year is the longest we've heard of.

How to Play I Doubt It

I Doubt It is a cheater's paradise of a card game since the object of the game is to cheat as much as you can. Use one deck of cards for up to four players.

  1. Deal out all 52 playing cards as evenly as possible. Deal one card at a time to each player, rotating in a clockwise manner until all the cards are dealt. For each game, rotate the dealer to the left. That way, each person takes a turn having an extra card or two.

  2. Take a minute to let everyone organize his or her cards.

  3. Have the person to the dealer's left play first and start with the aces. The next player will discard 2s, the following player 3s and so forth. Start again with aces after kings have been played.

  4. Play up to four cards of the card you're required to discard. Lay the cards face down in the middle of the table, announcing what you play as you do it. You don't necessarily have to play the cards you announce.

  5. Allow a moment after each person plays to let anyone challenge the person who played the cards.

  6. Challenge a person if you think he might not be discarding what he says he is by saying "I doubt it."

  7. Look at the discarded cards if there's a challenge. If they are what the person who played them said, then have the challenger pick up all the cards in the discard pile. If they are not what the person said they were, then have the player who discarded them pick them all up.

  8. Play even if you don't have the required card to discard. You cannot pass.

  9. Win by playing all of your cards first.

The trick to this game is knowing when you can fool your opponents. If you hold all four queens, play four random cards and say "Four queens" with confidence. Since no one else has any queens, no one will (usually) challenge you.

The longer the game goes with no challenges, the bigger the center pile the cheater - or the challenger - will have to pick up.

Use two or three decks with large groups of players. Use two decks for four to eight players; three decks for a crowd. A person will be able to discard up to 8 cards with two decks and up to 12 with three decks.

Play a variation of I Doubt It: Allow the person who wins a challenge to name and play a new rank to continue the game. You may also allow players to pass if they don't have a card to discard.

How to Play Gin Rummy

Known familiarly as gin, this classic, two-player card game provides an exciting mixture of luck and strategy.

Setup and Overview



  1. Deal 10 cards each to the other player and yourself.

  2. Place the remaining cards in a stack between the two players.

  3. Organize your hand into complete or partial "melds." A meld is a set of three or four cards of the same value (three aces, four kings and so on) or three or more sequential cards of the same suit (five, six and seven of clubs, for example).

  4. Take turns with the other player, taking either the top card from the deck or from the discard pile and discarding to the discard pile.

  5. Award points at the end of each hand when one player knocks or calls "Gin."

  6. End the game when one player reaches 100 points. At this point, the player with 100 points gets a 100-point bonus for winning, and each player receives 25 points for each hand he or she won.

  7. Tally the points and declare the winner - the player with the most points after all bonuses have been added in.


The Turn



  1. Draw a card from either the deck or the discard pile. If you're making the first draw of the game, you may only take from the deck.

  2. Try to integrate your drawn card into one of the melds you're building.

  3. Select a card from your hand that isn't now and probably won't become part of a meld.

  4. Discard this card face-up on the discard pile.

Discard cards of high value to decrease your "deadwood." Deadwood is the total point value of all your cards that aren't part of melds. Face cards are each worth 10 points, aces are each worth 1 point and the other cards have point values equal to their numerical values.

Knocking



  1. Knock when you have fewer than 10 points in deadwood by knocking on the table and laying down your hand face-up.

  2. Add up your total deadwood.

  3. Have your opponent lay down his or her hand.

  4. Separate your opponent's deadwood from his or her complete melds.

  5. Remove from your opponent's deadwood any cards that can be integrated into any of your complete melds.

  6. Add up your opponent's total remaining deadwood.

  7. Subtract your deadwood from your opponent's deadwood.

  8. Record this difference as your score for this hand.

  9. Gather the cards, shuffle them and deal a new hand.

If you have 0 points of deadwood, you may call "Gin" and lay your hand down. In this case, you score a 25-point bonus in addition to the points you would normally receive for your opponent's deadwood.

If you knock and your opponent has less deadwood than you, you score no points. Instead, your opponent scores a number of points equal to the difference between his deadwood and yours, as well as a 25-point bonus. This is called "undercutting."

How to Play Cribbage

Six-card cribbage is the most common form played in the English-speaking world. Two players use a standard 52-card pack, with the cards ranking king high to ace low.

^DNB

Setting Up



^DNB^DNB
  1. Place the cribbage board between the two players. Start pegs at the top of the cribbage board.

    ^DNB
  2. Win the game by being the first to score 121 points over a series of games.

    ^DNB
  3. Cut the cards to determine who deals.

    ^DNB
  4. Shuffle and deal if you received the lower card.

    ^DNB
  5. Deal alternately six cards to yourself and six cards to your opponent.

    ^DNB
  6. Place two of the six cards facedown, both if you're the dealer and if you're the nondealer, to form the crib. The dealer gets the crib and gets to score it after the hand is played.

    ^DNB
  7. Allow the nondealer to cut the deck.

    ^DNB
  8. Turn the top card of the bottom half of the cut deck over to determine the start.

    ^DNB
  9. Move two holes with your peg if the start was a jack and you're the dealer.

    ^DNB
  10. Place the start with the crib to be counted at the end of the game.
^DNB^DNB

Each player uses two pegs moving ahead of each other like footsteps, and both players start in the same place on the cribbage board.

^DNB^DNB

Playing the Hands



^DNB^DNB
  1. Play any card from your hand if you're the nondealer. Call out the value of that card as you do so.

    ^DNB
  2. Play any card from your hand if you're the dealer. Call out the sum of the two cards as you do so.

    ^DNB
  3. Alternate playing cards until the sum of 31 is reached. Stop playing cards if adding your card would exceed the sum of 31.

    ^DNB
  4. Say "Go," and the other player must go on playing until he reaches 31 or until he cannot play a card making the sum less than 31.

    ^DNB
  5. Score one peg if you're the player coming closest to 31.

    ^DNB
  6. Score two pegs if you reach exactly 31.

    ^DNB
  7. Turn the cards you've played (both dealer and nondealer do this) facedown in front of you after a "Go" or 31 has been reached.

    ^DNB
  8. Take turns playing in this way until all the cards in both players' hands are used up.

    ^DNB
  9. Score each hand. The nondealer scores his discards first, then the dealer scores his hand followed by the crib.

    ^DNB
  10. Alternate the deal. The nondealer of the first hand now shuffles the deck and starts a new hand

Face cards count as ten points, all others count their actual value

The following combinations count for points during play of hand(s):

  • When cumulative total of cards played is 15 = 2 points.
  • 2 matching cards played in sequence = 2 points.
  • 3 of a kind = 6 points.
  • 3 cards in sequence (don't have to be same suit) = 3 points.
  • 4 cards in sequence = 4 points.
  • As already mentioned; 1 point for last play closest to 31 total points (without going over) and 2 points if able to play a card that brings play total to exactly 31.
  • If players still have cards to play, start another play until all cards are used.


Special counts in the hand after play

3 cards in sequence + a pair = 8 points.

Additional points can be scored, depending on the cards in the doubled run. Example: 4,5,5,6. There would be 8 points (as above) plus 4 points for 2 sets of cards totaling to 15. A pair scores 2 points. 3 of a kind is 3 points.

To achieve a good score try to save any of the following:

  • Combinations that add to 15.
  • 2 or 3 of a kind.
  • Runs of 3 or 4.
  • 3 card run, with one value doubled.

Aces can be useful in play - to score the 31 point.

When the other person lays down a card and you lay down the same card, move your peg 2 spaces.

How to Play Crazy Eights

Match the suit or rank of the previously discarded card to try to get rid of all your cards first. Eights are "crazy" because they don't have to follow the rules. Crazy Eights is a simple card game that's fun for all ages.

  1. Deal out five cards to each player and place the remaining cards in the center of the table to form a stockpile.

  2. Turn the top card of the stockpile over and lay it next to the stockpile to start your discard pile.

  3. Have the person to the left of the dealer play first.

  4. Play any card from your hand that matches the top card of the discard pile in either suit (heart, diamond, club or spade) or rank (match a three with a three or a king with a king, for example).

  5. Draw a card from the stockpile (and lose a turn to discard) if you cannot make a legal play.

  6. Play an eight on any card. Name the suit you'd like the next person to play. (Keep the suit the same if you choose.)

  7. Win by getting rid of all your cards before anyone else does.

  8. Score penalty points for all cards left in your hand after someone wins. Face cards count as 10 points; eights count as 50 points; aces count as one point; and all other number cards count as face value.

  9. Play until someone gets 500 penalty points.

Because Crazy Eights is such a basic game, there are many variations you can play to spice it up.

Use draw variations: For example, if you draw a legal card, you may play it immediately; or, if you don't draw a playable card, you must keep drawing until you do.

How to Play UNO

UNO is a fast-paced and exciting card game for all ages. You can have up to ten players. Get rid of all your cards first and score points for the cards your opponents still hold. The first player to score 500 points wins.

  1. Use a deck of UNO cards. The deck has 108 cards consisting of four suits, wild cards, and word cards with directions on them.

  2. Choose a dealer by having each player pick one card. The person with the highest number is the dealer. Word cards count as zero.

  3. Deal each player seven cards and place the remaining cards face down in the middle of the table. This is the draw pile.

  4. Turn the top card of the draw pile over to form the discard pile.

  5. Take turns beginning with the player to the dealer's left and go clockwise around the table.

  6. Place one of your cards on the discard pile when it's your turn. Your card must have the same number, color or wording as the top card of the discard pile - or be a wild card. If playing with blind or visually impaired players, announce the card that you are discarding.

  7. Draw a card if you cannot discard. Play the drawn card if you can. If you can't, it's the next person's turn.

  8. Announce a suit when you place a wild card on the discard pile. You can play a wild card any time it's your turn and can name any suit you wish.

  9. Announce a suit when you place a Draw Four card on the discard pile.

  10. Follow the directions of a word card that is played on the discard pile by the player preceding you. This may mean that you have to draw two cards, skip a turn or even draw four cards.

  11. Say "UNO" when you have one card left in your hand. If you forget to say UNO and another player catches you, you must draw two cards.

  12. Tally all the points when one player is out of cards. (See below for "How to Keep Score in UNO.")

When the card turned over to form the discard pile is a Wild Draw Four, put it back in the draw pile and turn over another card.

If the top card of the discard pile is a green two, for example, the next player may play either a green card, any color number two card, or a wild card.

A Wild Draw Four card causes the next player to draw four cards and forfeit his or her turn. Play this card only when you have no card of the color previously played.

The person required to draw four may "challenge" the person who played the card. The challenged person must show his or her cards to the challenger. If that person, indeed, has no cards of the proper color, the challenger must draw two additional cards. If the person does have the right color and illegally played a Wild Draw Four card, that player must draw four, and it now is the challenger's turn.

How to Keep Score in UNO

Get a score card and write each player's name down - the first person to 500 points wins!

  1. Tally scores at the end of each game. The game is over when one player is completely out of cards. That person gets all the points.

  2. Add the total of all the cards left in each player's hand.

  3. Count number cards as their numeric value.

  4. Count Draw Two, Skip, and Reverse cards as 20 points.

  5. Count Wild and Wild Draw Four cards as 50 points.

  6. Award all points to the winner of each round.

  7. Start a new round.

  8. Play until one player scores 500 points.


How to Play Variations of UNO

Spice up your UNO games by adding a few simple rules to play an UNO Variation.

Two-Player UNO


  1. Play normal UNO, but with only two players.

  2. Count Reverse cards as skip cards, and immediately play another turn.

  3. Play another turn right away after you play a Skip card.

  4. Play again after you play a Draw Two card or a Wild Draw Four since your opponent's turn is taken by drawing cards.

Save your word cards as long as you can, then play them in a straight run to win the game without giving your opponent a chance.

Challenge UNO
  1. Play normal UNO with three or more people.

  2. Keep track of each player's personal point total at the end of each round.

  3. Leave the game when your personal point total reaches 500. You are "out."

  4. Play until only two players remain. Those players play one more hand of Two-Player UNO (see above rules), and the winner of that hand wins the game, regardless of points.


Speed UNO
  1. Play normal UNO.

  2. Play out of turn if you have the exact same card as the card previously played. Do this only before the proper player plays the next card.

  3. Continue play with the person to the left of the person who last played a card, even if that person played out of order.

If a red 5 is played, for example, and you have a red 5 in your hand, you can play it immediately even though it is not your turn.

On Draw Cards, the person who would have had to draw still must draw even if another Draw was played on top of it out of order. The new Draw card counts, too.

On Wild Draw Four cards, the player must pick a color before a Wild Draw Four can be played on top of it.

Do not replenish the draw pile. If the draw pile runs out, draw cards no longer cause people to draw, and if you can't play, skip your turn.

If you have doubles in your hand, you might as well play them at the same time.

Waterproof UNO and Standard playing cards

Cards and drinks tend to go hand in hand, but keeping the braille on them does not. Should your friends around the table be more clumsy than usual through the night, this pack of Umbra Waterproof Playing Cards or UNO H2O cards will certainly come in handy. Because the cards are covered with plastic, they hold the braille dots well and you'll love the results. Yes, you'll have to manually braille them yourself, but they will last much longer than standard decks. Each purchase comes with a protective case for easy portability. Also great to keep yourself entertained with a game of Solitaire or UNO with a friend while chilling out in the sauna.

Click this link to purchase the Umbra H2O Waterproof playing cards.
Click this link to purchase UNO H2O from Amazon.

UNO for the Computer

Ian Humphreys of Spoonbill Software has released a high-quality version of UNO. You play against three computer-generated opponents. To get the game, send a message with your name and country to Ian at irhumph@omninet.net.au.

Friday, January 20, 2006

How to Play Euchre

It's been said that euchre is the card game that brought the Joker to our modern deck of cards. In the North American version of this game, you play without the Joker. The best way to play is with two teams of partners.

  1. Use a 24-card pack with all cards numbered between 2 and 8 removed.

  2. Choose a dealer.

  3. Deal clockwise, giving each player three cards, then two (or two, then three) for a total of five.

  4. Put the remaining cards facedown on the table and turn the top one over.

  5. Begin with the player to the dealer's left. He or she may declare the card on the table trump or may pass. If the player declares the card trump, the dealer must take the card showing and discard one of his or her cards facedown.

  6. Pass the choice to the next player, and he or she can declare the suit trump or pass also. If the passes reach the dealer and the dealer doesn't want the card on the table to be trump, the dealer turns that card over, and the first player can declare any trump.

  7. Decipher the trump system: The Jack of the trump suit is called the Right Bower, and it becomes the highest-ranking card. The next ranking card is the Jack of the same-color suit or Left Bower. So if hearts are trump, the Jack of hearts is the Right Bower, and the next highest card is the Jack of diamonds.

  8. Once the trump is determined, the player to the left of the dealer leads by laying down a card (it doesn't have to be of the trump suit). Players must play cards of the same suit if they have them.

  9. Follow this example: Hearts are trump. Player 1 leads with the Ace of spades. Player 2 lays down the 9 of spades. Player 3 (Player No. 1's partner) doesn't have any spades, so he or she lays down the 10 of hearts. This player has just "trumped in." Player 4 must play a spade if he or she has it; if Player 4 does not have a spade, he or she can win the trick by playing a heart higher than the 10 or by playing the Jack of diamonds.

  10. Make a trick by winning a hand.

  11. Lead the next card if your card wins a trick.

  12. Score 1 point if your team called trump and you take three or four tricks. Take all five tricks (a sweep) and score 2 points. If you don't score at least three tricks and you called the trump, you are Euchered, and the other team receives 2 points.

  13. End the game when a team scores a total of 10 points.

The order of value of the cards is as follows: Trump Jack is highest, followed by the same-color Jack, the trump Ace, King, Queen, 10 and 9 and then all other cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9).

In the example above (step 9) there are five cards that Player No. 4 can use to win. From lowest to highest, they are the Queen of hearts, King of hearts, Ace of hearts, Jack of diamonds, Jack of hearts.

Don't cheat. If you have a card in your hand of the suit that's being played, you have to use it. If you get caught cheating, the other team gets 2 points.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hurricanes Katrina & Rita Web Archive and Described DVD

"Internet Archives and many individual contributors created a comprehensive list of websites documenting the historic devastation and massive relief effort due to Hurricane Katrina. The sites were crawled between the dates of September 4 - October 17th. This collection, containing more than 25 million searchable documents, will be preserved by Internet Archive with access to historians, researchers, scholars and the general public."

Click this link to visit the Hurricanes Katrina & Rita Web Archive: http://websearch.archive.org/katrina/.

Hurricane Katrina: The Storm That Drowned a City

This is a pretty straightforward look at the storm that killed some 1,300 people and destroyed 600,000 homes. A PBS NOVA episode, it concentrates primarily on the storm itself, as well as flaws in New Orleans' levees, pointing out that scientists accurately predicted the impact of a strong hurricane on New Orleans a year before it happened!

"Hurricane Katrina: The Storm That Drowned a City"
(WGBH, 2006, not rated
Extras: Widescreen, printable materials, optional English subtitles, described video for the visually impaired, chapters.

For more information contact:

Descriptive Video Service (DVS)
125 Western Ave.
Boston, MA 02134
Toll Free: 800-333-1203
Phone: 617-492 2777
Email: access@wgbh.org
Web: http://www.wgbh.org/dvs

Tips for Getting the Best Lemon Juice

When juicing a lemon, it will yield more juice if it is left at room temperature for at least an hour before juicing.

Don't forget to wash the outside of the lemon before squeezing. Now when you have extracted all of the juice you can grate the peel and freeze it in a tightly sealed container. Now when you need some lemon peel just grab a container from the freezer and you have it fresh and ready to go!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Garlic Preparation & Storage

My family loves garlic. It does take a bit of time to prepare so I have found this simple solution to always have some on hand.

When you go shopping, pick up a few heads of garlic.

When you get home chop up all of the garlic at once and place into an airtight glass container.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil for each head of garlic, then seal tightly.

Place the jar in the coldest shelf of your refrigerator.

Now you will have fresh chopped garlic whenever you need it for up to 2 weeks.

BigFoot Bottle Inversion Cap

Given the new design of ketchup bottles, this might not be such a BIG idea but for certain annoying sauce bottles, this could be the bomb. BigFoot replaces ordinary bottle caps to allow most bottles to stand upside down. BigFoot provides a wide, stable base to prevent the bottle from tipping over, and its unique cap design fits most popular sizes of plastic bottles.

One of the things I find rather difficult to do as a blind person is pouring syrup for pancakes. Once you tip the bottle over you have no idea when the syrup will start flowing. You could sit there for a long time waiting for the syrup. Don't shake the bottle or you could get tons of it on your pancakes. Big Foot would always have the syrup ready for you. You will finally know that the syrup is at the end of the bottle, ready to pour. Click this link to purchase Big Foot and never waste the last drop of any bottled product.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tips for Chopping Nuts

I can still remember my father and I going outside with a hammer and cracking nuts on the driveway. It was fun to do this as a child, but not so fun when trying to add fresh nuts to a cake or brownies.

When chopping nuts, they are actually easier to chop when they are warm. The meat will be more pliable and you will not have to chase pieces down all over the kitchen.

To warm the nuts, place them in the microwave and cook on high for a minute or so, mix with your hands and see if more time is needed.

After the first minute, only microwave in increments of 30 seconds. You don^D>'t want them so hot that you can^D>'t handle them and when they cool off they may be a bit crunchier.

You can also heat them in the oven by baking for about 5 minutes at 325º.

See APH on the Travel Channel!


TV set with APH logo displayed

APH on TV

On Tuesday, January 17th, APH will be the focus of "Made in America" on the Travel Channel at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). The show will be rebroadcast on January 18th at Midnight and on January 21st at 4:00 p.m.

DemiDose Pill Splitter

Have you ever needed to split a pill? It's not as easy as it sounds. My only result has been to have the pill crumble and make a mess.

TechniTab Inc. has created DemiDose, a pill splitter which the company claims will split pills in half with a high accuracy rate between 93% to 100%.

It's secret is a blue template with a cutout in the middle designed to hold and center a pill under the cutting blades, producing cleanly cut pills with no crumbling or crushing.

The company offers a wide variety of templates for various shaped pills, including Levitra, Cialis, Fosamax, Lipitor, Norvasc, Viagra, Zocor, etc.

Click this link to learn more about the DemiDose pill splitter: http://www.split12.com.

ThumbThing Makes Reading Easier

Here's a great idea for folks who have to hold a book and use a light or magnifier at the same time.

Simply put the Thumbthing onto your thumb and place into the spine of the book. The two wings will hold the pages open more easily, making reading more comfortable.

It allows you to read with one hand only.

It prevents the spine of the book from being broken.

When finished reading place the Thumbthing into the top of the book so it doesn't get lost.

Thumbthings come in 4 sizes (small, medium, large and extra-large) for different-sized thumbs and many bright colours.

Click this link to learn more about the ThumbThing: http://www.thumbthing.com/index_e.htm.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Basting Meat Without The Brush

The weather is great, the grill is ready, and you've invited a large number of friends and family over for a barbecue. It sure is great to have everyone together for times like this. There's only one problem, you're not looking forward to all that time you'll spend trying to baste your meat with that little brush. Don't worry, Fred's Head is here with a great tip.

If your basting sauce is thin enough you can put it into a spray bottle and spray it on your meat.

If you have a thicker basting sauce you can put it into a squeeze bottle and squeeze it onto your meat. Then you just use your brush to spread it evenly over the meat.

Things should move a lot faster now. Relax, turn the radio up, and enjoy your barbecue.

Stomp out germs with The FootFlush

Here's a great product to have in your home, especially if you have young children.

The Foot Flush is a revolutionary foot shaped foot pedal that can convert your home toilet to a hands free model in just minutes without tools. It is very easy to install. Are you a Foot Flusher?

Click this link to learn more about the Foot Flush: http://www.comfybath.com

TAC-TIE: The World's First Load Bearing necktie

Don't laugh! Tac-Tie is the world's first load-bearing necktie. Designed to keep necessary items close at hand, Tac-Tie solves a myriad of problems for the blind professional on or off duty. Unique features include the B.M.D.- Beverage Management Device - the ultimate "hands-free" drink management system. (Great for buffet lines.) Can and bottle compatible. Great gift idea that is sure to please and be a great conversation piece.

Features and Benefits


  • Exclusive, fully adjustable "tie-one-on" hook/loop material mounting system eliminates the need to tie the necktie. Breaks loose when you have to shed it quickly.
  • Made from high quality nylon materials.
  • "Possibles" pocket for folding knife, lighter, lip balm, breath freshener spray, etc.
  • Sleeve for writing instrument, eyeglasses, etc.
  • "Window of opportunity"-clear front, top-loading pocket for ID, business cards, credit card, etc.
  • Available in Black & Woodland Camo.
Spec.-Ops. Brand gear is designed for the military professional in the field as well as anyone who simply "lives hard" and needs their gear to perform.
Lifetime Warranty: Simply put, if it's Spec.-Ops.'s fault (materials and/or workmanship), they will repair or replace it - anytime, anywhere. If it's your fault (you survived and your gear didn't), they'll fix it ASAP and return it. Depending on how good your story is, they'll most likely do it for FREE!

Click this link to order your TAC-TIE and never worry about buffet lines again!

Brigade Quartermasters, Ltd.
PO BOX 100001
1025 Cobb International Dr. NW Ste. 100
Kennesaw, Georgia 30156-9217
Customer Service: 800-228-7344
Toll Free: 800-338-4327
Phone: 770-428-1248
Fax: 800-892-2999

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Wonders of Olive Oil

Olive Oil, the same stuff that you use to cook with actually is a wonderful item to have on hand for several ailments. For these purposes, you will get the best results if you use Extra Virgin.

Constipation: Yup, we all get it and it is uncomfortable. If you suffer from occasional constipation you can take 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil mixed with some Lemon Juice on an empty stomach.

Ear Wax Build Up: Ok, we don't like to admit to this one any more than constipation! If you have an ear that is blocked and have had problems in the past with wax buildup warm up some Olive Oil so that it is just warm to the touch. Place a few drops into the ear that you are having problems with and lie down with the ear that has the oil in it toward the ceiling for a few minutes.

Place a soft cloth over your ear and roll over so that the ear is to the ground and lie that way for a few minutes. This will allow the oil to drain from your ear, taking the wax with it. If you think you have a perforated ear drum DO NOT attempt this, seek medical attention.

Moisturizer: You can even use Olive Oil as a moisturizer. Simply massage into affected areas and let soak overnight.

Stop Meat from Sticking to Your Grill

When grilling meat, sometimes it sticks to the grill even though you cleaned the grill thoroughly and oiled it well.

When grilling items that do not have any external spices or marinades, try spraying the meat with non-stick cooking spray before you place it on the grill.

The cooking spray will not only help keep it from sticking, but it will also help keep the meat from drying out.

If the meat continues to stick as you turn it, let it cook for a few more minutes until you can lift it with out any resistance.

A Puzzling Sandwich and Cool Desserts


A Puzzling Sandwich

The next time you make a lunch for your kids, make it a little special.

Make your sandwich as you normally would. Now grab a cookie cutter and cut a decorative shape out of the center. Set the center piece aside. Using a knife, make some extra cuts to the remaining crust, creating a puzzle like effect.

Carefully place all of the pieces onto a plate or in a tightly sealed bag. Your kids will love eating all the little pieces!

Cool Lunch Desserts

When preparing food for lunches, purchase a bunch of smaller containers with airtight lids.

Now just make up a batch of Jell-O or pudding and pour into each container along with some fruit (not fresh pineapple) or marshmallows, cover and refrigerate.

Now when you are packing lunch, just grab a container of Jell-O/pudding and toss it in the lunch bag.

This is a lot cheaper than purchasing pre-made desserts for your kids.

Keeping the Septic Clean

If you have a septic tank, make a note on your calendar each month to drop enzyme into it. Can't find any enzyme? Just flush one cup of brewers yeast down a toilet once a month.

Do check with your local hardware store and pick up some cleaner especially for drain lines to septic tanks and cesspools. Follow the instructions carefully, and make sure you contact a professional if you suspect a leak.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hold On to Your Electronics With Gadget Grips

Gadget Grips are various sized pads that adhere to any electronic device, allowing you to lay it on a car dashboard without it sliding around or falling off.

Made by American Covers, Inc., it uses the company's patented polyurathene technology to create a non-adhesive, non-magnetic, sticky surface. It's vinyl-safe, temperature resistant and leaves no residue. You can pull it off, and stick it somewhere else, and it never loses its stickiness. You can even wash it.

This is perfect for iPods and Cell Phones. With nine cutouts for a variety of digital devices. Click this link to learn more about Gadget Grips: http://www.handstands.com/retail/automotive/gadgetgrips.shtml#

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