TV My Way

When I watch TV with friends and family, I have 2 choices: I can either pretend to see the screen or I can do this:

  • I place my iPad on an adjustable floor-standing iPad holder.
  • I set the stand with iPad in line with the TV (or it can be slightly off to a side) and adjust so that the screen can be displayed on my Pad (positioned for my comfort). At the same time, he entire setup does not obstruct anyone else’s view.
  • I use either my iPad’s camera or a downloaded magnifier app.
  • I capture the TV screen on my iPad and adjust the image to fill the screen as suits me best.

Now I can see the TV screen and not disturb anybody’s view.

Pictured: IPad stand with iPad. The stand has adjustable height to about 5 feet tall and has a movable arm. The base is weighted for added stability.

Any iPad or tablet will do because the image can be manipulated and changed with the pinch, drag, or movement of my fingers. I sit as close to the iPad screen as I need. My personal preference is an iPad Pro for its larger screen.

I use a floor stand iPad holder with an adjustable arm. This helps me position the screen exactly where and how I want it. It also keeps my hands free and the iPad steady.

Additionally, I purchased a 15″ diagonal planter caddy with casters and I seated the iPad stand on it so that I can move the stand with or without the iPad in its grip easily whenever and wherever.

Pictured: A plantar caddy on casters. The diagonal is 15 inches and comfortably supports the iPad stand.

I can now read captions on the screen, chyrons, and other content. And I can play Wheel of Fortune too!

Pictured: My iPad with Wheel of Fortune puzzle board with letters E, O, and N shown. The iPad is nestled securely in the floor stand. The iPad camera is capturing the TV screen for my personal viewing.

Gender Identification

Our window air conditioner decided to retire, just days before the official onset of summer. So we went to the local appliance store to purchase a new one and arrange for installation. Our salesman directed all conversation to Sir Braver. They discussed BTU requirements, recommended models, electrical requirements (we live in a building that is older than me!), delivery and installation options, the legal requirements for disposal of the old unit, etc. And the order was processed.

Our salesman spoke to me twice. The first time was when I dared to ask about the length of the electrical cord. We need a minimum of 90 inches to get from the unit to the nearest electrical wall outlet. No can do, he insisted although not in so many words. All air conditioners come with 5-foot cords and have been that way for at least the past 20 years, he proclaimed. He decided to measure the provided cord to quiet the silly woman (me) and lo and behold it measured 6 feet, not 5. So he measured a second unit to prove me wrong and got the same results. Six feet works from unit to nearest outlet as the crow flies – in mid air, too – from the unit to the perpendicular wall. Of course, he did suggest to Sir Braver that he could use an extension cord or a surge protector.

By this time, all conversation was restored to Sir Braver only.

We” made the purchase, Sir Braver answering all questions directed at him, like name, address, etc.

At the end of the sale, our salesman handed me a paper for an advertised rebate and told me where to find the serial number on the box. Sir Braver was handed all sales paperwork and was thanked for his business.

I am woman, hear me roar!

A Walk In The Park

Ah, the F train! We swiped our Metro Easy Pay cards and scrambled aboard the F train for our trip into the big city. Our destination: Central Park, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary to be precise.

We had barely pulled out of the station when Sir Braver whispered to me that he was not comfortable and we would be moving to the left end of the car as soon as feasible. Being an express train, it was a long ride to the next stop, whizzing by without stopping past 4 or 5 local stops. Now we are both sufficiently tense (and I don’t even know why). At that next stop, the “problems” exited. Buskers boarded, pumped up the music and began their subway pole dancing to the amusement of some (but not all) of the riders. The rest of the trip into The City was uneventful, and all was well.

It was exciting, as always, to emerge from underground and walk amidst the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. We walked a few blocks to Central Park. Before entering the park, we admired the Pedicabs and the horse-drawn carriages that lined the streets soliciting passengers for local tours. Then we proceeded to our destination, , the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, which we found quickly and easily. The welcome sign stated that the sanctuary was open to a maximum of 20 people at any given time, but there was no one to monitor that, and no obvious reason for the limit. In fact, it was rare to spot even one person anywhere along the trails.

We wandered the paths leisurely up and down and around and about, admiring the foliage, the massive outcrops, the dense wooded terrain, and the many overlooks. We saw no critters and heard no sounds of life, no evidence of birds or creepy crawlies or anyting else. After some time, we decided to head out of the sanctuary. But how? We tried this path up and that path down but did not know where to go. We seemed to be going in circles although nothing looked familiar. “Hey world,” I thought, “stop looking for Jimmy Hoffa in river beds and garbage dumps; I think he is here in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary right smack in the middle of New York City! And no one is going to find us either!”

Ultimately, we crossed paths with 2 women and Sir Braver asked them if they knew the way out. All I could do was pray that they spoke English and were not tourists as lost as we were. Fortunately, they claimed to know the way and we trekked along closely behind them to the ONE AND ONLY EXIT!

We then found a bench and sat there for a while amid many birds of various species, their songs filling the air, their hops and waddles delighting us, while a family of squirrels in play chased each other up and down and around a very tall tree trunk. It was so relaxing and peaceful as the birds and squirrels entertained us.

This was a lovely and memorable way to spend our 46th wedding anniversary day. Happy Anniversary, my dear husband!

Pictured: A horse-drawn carriage just outside Central Park in Manhattan.

The Sidewalks of New York

There is a lesson here:

Pictured: Different species of birds and a squirrel were caught on camera casually mingling and feeding on a sidewalk in Forest Hills.
Pictured: More birds and squirrels. They are all busy and comfortable with each other. If I had gotten any closer, they would have scattered instantly.

AI

AI has been creeping into our lives for some time now. You didn’t know? Let me explain.

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. It is one of the ways technology has evolved and has changed our lives. It is the ability of a computer or computer-driven device to perform tasks that previously were performed by the human brain, such as reasoning, identification, problem-solving, and more.

For several years I have had an app on my phone called Seeing AI. It is artificial intelligence specifically developed to help people see better. For example, Seeing AI helps me identify and describe people with this app (and places, colors, and much more). Below is a picture taken through this app of me. The app reads aloud the text it includes below the picture. A second picture is Sir Braver. The app does a great job. It even took more than a decade off my actual age. What’s not to like!

Pictured: A picture of me taken with my iPad using the Seeing AI app. The app added the caption: “58-year-old woman with brown hair wearing glasses looking happy.”
Pictured: Same app, this time a picture of Sir Braver. He too shed a few years. The Seeing AI caption reads: 61 year old man wearing glasses looking happy.

Yesterday I learned that the camera on my iPhone and iPad have been upgraded to include AI. Now I can take a picture of a person, place, or thing, and my device will identify the image, include the date taken, the location, and a whole bunch more information without even using a third party app. So I took a picture of the potted plant in my kitchen and asked the camera to identify it.

Pictured: My potted plant identified by the AI on my iPad as Golden Pothos.

Who knew! I thought it was a heart leaf philodendron!

Polynoses

When I was a kid, one of the best things about spring was the emergence of polynoses. Polynoses! Those little green thingamajigs that fell from the maple trees in spring. Polynoses are nature’s way of spreading maple seeds and preserving the species. I loved collecting a bunch and peeling them apart at the stem edge to then stick on my nose, and everything else.

Pictured: The fruit of the maple tree. Three (3) pairs of polynoses, like wings at the end of a short stem. Always in pairs.

We have a maple tree right outside our living room window. Today we noticed hundreds, if not thousands of polynoses on the ground below it. These were small and soft, much smaller and softer than those from my childhood. Maybe in the weeks to come I will observe their growth. These called to me and I felt that same excitement that I felt decades ago.

So kiddos, peel yourselves away from your devices for just a minute or two and find a few polynoses. Inspect them, smell them, find that sticky spot and have a bit of fun with them. Let them entertain you. Briefly, I know.

Oh, we were so easily amused.

Pictured: A small green polynose stuck to the tip of my nose.

8+ Things a Tablet’s Camera Can Do

My iPad’s camera does so much more than take pictures! It is the part of my iPhone and my iPad that I treasure most. With it I can do so many things that without I would be totally in the dark, so to speak.

The miraculous aspect of the cellphone and tablet camera is that it can magnify, and with amazing power and versatility. With a pinch or a tap, the magnification provided by a digital camera on my device is fantastic. It doesn’t have just one or two or even three or four times magnification, but its incremental magnification is nothing short of amazing.

Some things I can see much more easily with my camera – and I don’t even have to snap a picture! I can simply look through the camera and then magnify, magnify, magnify (as needed)

  1. I can find something I’ve dropped on the floor, even in a dim or unlit area.
Pictured: A dropped button rolled. Where? Jack up the magnification and scan the floor with your device camera. The search is so much faster, and easier on your back this way.
Pictured: Same dropped button as above but this time using greater magnification.

2. I can read the settings on my microwave, air fryer, my thermostat, and more.

Pictured: Ninja 101 Air Fryer with settings ready for enlargement.

3. I can read a sign, a note, my mail, , a tiny manual, a document, a menu in a restaurant.

Pictured: On the left, a tiny manual (yet so typical for size these days) with instructions for how to assemble a new floor stand to hold an iPad. The cell phone on the right, is considerably larger than the manual. Magnify, and its easy to read.

4. I can read cooking directions on packaged food.

Pictured: A box of Barilla Spaghetti with cooking directions displayed.

5, I can weigh myself!

Pictured: A scale on the floor and an iPad on a table next to the scale. The iPad’s camera is focused on the scale, ready to record the weight. Magnify he screen and then step on the scale or snap a picture and magnify the image later.

Click here to read more.

6. It’s my mirror. With the the camera reversed (looking at me instead of away) I can apply make up to my face, tweeze my eyebrows, style my hair.

Pictured: My iPad as mirror shows a close-up of me using an eyebrow pencil just to one eyebrow that fills the screen.

7. I can read medication labels.

Pictured: Bottle of Tylenol, front view. Prescription labels are easier to read this way, too.

8. I can identify money

Pictured: A dime, minted in 1995. The P just above the date indicates this dime was minted in Philadelphia.

For even more magnification, I can go to my photo gallery, select a photograph, and enlarge some more!

Besides capturing memories, what else do you use your tablet or phone camera for?

Gimme Low Tech Please

Gimme Low Tech Please

I went to the Lighthouse Guild a few weeks ago for my routine “annual” eye check up.   The doctor performed all of her necessary tests for thorough evaluation, asking relevant questions throughout the visit. At one point, she mentioned having me see the technology rehabilitation counselor and mentioned that nothing there is free but they would make appropriate recommendations for devices that I could opt to purchase. She elaborated no further.

I saw the rehabilitation counselor yesterday. She asked me some questions to determine what types of technology I might benefit from.  I described what would make me happiest  —  to be able to see and identify people I know when I pass them on the street or in my building or even when I walk into a room where several people already are.  She nodded, expressed her understanding, and then introduced me to two pieces of equipment. Both items were very similar devices: desktop video magnifiers with stands from two different manufacturers.

Pictured: Explore 12 Video Magnifier with stand by Humanware.
Pictured: Clover Book Video Magnifier with stand.

I expressed to the counselor I have an iPad that I use for many of the functions provided by these two pieces of equipment, that I use an old iPad attached to a swing arm for applying make up and doing my hair, that I use the camera on my iPad, with magnification, to search the floor for dropped items, that I use book readers and download services for my reading pleasure and voiceover on my iPad to have newspaper and magazine articles read to me. The counselor acknowledged my “advanced use” of the iPad.   She even suggested “free” apps available for the iPad for visual assistance.

I left the appointment with sales and contact information in hand for consideration of purchase of one of the two assistive devices she had demonstrated. She showed me no other types of technology and indicated that I was referred by my eye doctor only for the type of devices she was showing me.

I did come away with one idea, however.  If I could find the right stand for my iPad, a floor stand, that could be raised and lowered to the optimal height needed for  specific tasks, that could possibly prove to be most beneficial.  It has been several years since I had last unsuccessfully looked for such a stand that would support the size and weight of my iPad Pro.

Pictured: Tablet Floor Stand Gooseneck – Lamicall Swivel Tablet Holder Mount with Adjustable Height & 10.6lb Stable Base, Compatible with iPad Mini Air Pro 12.9, etc.

The new stand arrives tomorrow. For $72 instead of $2,0000 -3,000, I am excited and hopeful. If the iPad connects and disconnects easily with the stand and height adjusts easily, this low tech/no tech stand just might be the best way to optimize my iPad and my assistive technology experience.

I Painted My Rug

I opened up my box of craft supplies and pulled out the bottle of black acrylic paint plus a 1/2-inch brush with firm bristles. I set up the kitchen table for painting. I was about to paint a rug.

We moved into this apartment nearly six years ago. One of our first purchases was a doormat. I have always had a doormat by the front door, always one on the inside, sometimes one outside, too, and it was one of the first must-haves in any of my new homes. We looked at so many, probably hundreds, and finally compromised on a selection. When it arrived I was totally disappointed, but I said nothing. It’s a doormat after all.

We had picked a mustard yellowish solid color 2×3-foot doormat with a design carved into the pile. I just didn’t like it – not the color, not the design, nothing. Yet I have lived with it for just about six years now. It’s just a doormat. Who really cares! But I had enough of it.

Today I decided to create a border around the outer edge to give it some definition. Black – only because I didn’t think any other color was better. Acrylic paint? Well, it is a water-based paint so I should be able to wash the spills and drips and what-have-yous away when the project was complete. I poured some of the black paint into a small cup, added a few drops of water to thin it out, and worked the paint-soaked brush into the fibers all around the outer edge. Set up and clean up took longer than the painting project itself.

And you know what? I like it!

Pictured: A yellowish/brownish doormat with a diamond-shaped pattern cut into the pile surrounded by a hand-painted black border about 1-inch or so all around.

The Maid

The Maid

by Nita Prose

(a book review)

Mr. Charles Black is dead, dead in his bed at the Regency Grand Hotel. It is the maid who finds the body, the spilled pills, the missing pillow, the open safe. It is the maid who calls for help and reports the death. It is the maid who looks guilty. Guilty of murder.

Pictured: The Maid by Nita Prose, book cover. A bright red cover with a large keyhole at center and through it suggests a female running away.

Molly, the maid, is different. She is alone, friendless. Her Gran had died just months before and Molly is still adjusting to the loss. She is good at what she does – cleaning – and enjoys her work. She cleans every hotel room thoroughly, restoring each “to a state of perfection.” Her work is her life. She lives by rules, rules taught to her by her Gran who raised her. Gran’s words echo through Molly’s brain throughout each day, guiding her. Without rules, Molly would not be able to perform her duties, or even live her life. Molly, it seems, is on the spectrum. Gran can only do so much now. Molly still has difficulties understanding body language, facial expressions, jokes, insinuation, double entendre, and so much more. Every new situation, no matter how inconsequential it may seem, poses new struggles.

Unraveling the mystery of Mr. Black’s death is a story well told and well delivered. It is a tidy story befitting Molly the maid and her attention to detail and her need for cleanliness to the extreme. Molly is charged with murder. She has not a friend in the world to understand her and comfort her.

Molly’s life will change in that instant of finding Mr. Black’s body.

The story is tidy. It wraps up with no loose ends. An easy and satisfying read.

Just one more thing. This book is riddled with clichés. I challenge you, gentle reader, to think of a cliché not included in this book. I dare you. I double dare you.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I go to Red Lobster for two reasons:

  1. For their scrumptious basket of biscuits served with every meal.
  2. For their lobster bisque, which is only rarely available.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits is what Red Lobster has named their famous biscuits. Today I made them from scratch and cooked them in my air fryer. Biscuits are generally easy to prepare from scratch as they do not require the rolling and kneading of dough. This was the first time I have used my air fryer for any type of dough. I learned a few things.

  1. A silicone liner designed for the air fryer is most helpful – in fact, I’d call it essential. Since only about 4 biscuits can be cooked at one time, a second batch, and possibly even a third, will undoubtedly be necessary. If a silicone liner (or parchment paper) is not used, a huge mess results requiring major cleanup between batches. You have been warned.
  2. Plopping a scoop of batter into the air fryer basket is a very messy and awkward process. At least for me. It is better to place parchment paper or a silicone liner on a plate on which the biscuit batter is then placed, and then transfer that into the basket.
  3. I checked numerous recipes on the web and each had a different cook time and temp. My recipe, which can be found here, is what worked best for me. It took a bit of trial and error.

The biscuits came out great!

Yes, these biscuits can be baked in a conventional oven. Just expect the cook time to be a bit longer.

The biscuits refrigerate and/or freeze well, if you somehow have any leftovers.

This recipe makes about 10 yummy biscuits.

Pictured: A plate containing 7 freshly baked Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Not Again!

It was 26 degrees outside with winds at 18 miles per hour and a feels-like temperature of 6 degrees, and we were out for our daily walk. There weren’t a whole lot of other people out and about but there we were – and we were there! As we approached an intersection just about two blocks from home, a big rig came down a side street and proceeded to turn onto skinny little Austin Street. The trucker, undaunted by the narrow street lined with bumper to bumper parked cars, proceeded as planned and succeeded in clogging the intersection. He was unable to complete the turn. Or back up. Or do much of anything.

We’ve seen it before. (Click HERE to see the last fiasco. as reported in November 2021.)

Let the honking begin!

My Hero

My Hero

Tuesday, November 9, 1965 – 5:27 p.m.

I was focused on the drawing before me. It was a pencil drawing with neatly ruled lines and spaces, and the emphasis that day was perspective. I was drawing what would be akin to a diorama-like rendition of a room, presumably in a home, and the horizontal lines where the rear wall met the floor and ceiling were straight and perfectly parallel. The side walls provided a sense of depth with appropriate angles carefully drawn. It was a class in interior design, a very pleasant way to end a long and intense academic school day of geometry, economics, literature, biology, and advanced Spanish.

At about 5:25 the lights dimmed and then flickered off and on again. Just seconds later it happened again. The third time, however, the lights went off and stayed off. Sunset was at 4:43 p.m. that day, almost an hour before. The class was silent, remaining seated in total darkness. It quickly became apparent that the lights might not be coming on any time soon and with only minutes to when the end-of-period bell would have rung, the bustle of collecting our things and making our way out of the classroom began.

The classroom was on the third floor on the Glenwood Road side of the building. I inched along the corridor wall knowing that the next set of doors to my right led to the stairwell. I had to go upstairs first, however, to my fourth floor homeroom where my locker housed my olive green, wool, double-breasted peacoat. The halls and stairwells were crowded with students moving slowly and haphazardly this way and that. Every so often, a match was struck somewhere and flickered briefly. There was no plan, only confusion.

I followed the crowd to the fourth floor and my homeroom was just to the right. I made my way through the mostly motionless throng of students to my locker along the back wall. Fortunately I always left the combination lock on my locker set to the second of three right-left-right numbers so that all I had to do was slowly rotate the dial to the right until the last number clicked into place and the lock fell open. It was a timesaver for me, not a good practice for keeping my things safe and protected. On that day, that worked in my favor.

I grabbed my coat and walked over to the wall of windows that could just barely be detected by a faint light from outside. I needed to look out onto the street to assess the situation and come up with a plan. To my delight, the row of slow-moving cars along Bedford Avenue at the corner provided lots of light from their bright headlights and blinking red taillights. Okay. Getting home would not be a problem. Getting out of the building was a different story.

As I stood at the window dazzled by car lights, I suddenly became aware that my mother was standing next to me. My mother? How could that be? Here I was on the fourth floor of a pitch dark high school, a four-story building that occupied an entire city block, next to my mother who I am 100% certain had no idea where I would be within that building or if I were even in that building at that time. My father had picked my mother up from her work and they were driving home and just blocks from my high school when they saw the lights of the city go out. Somehow they knew they had to get to me, even if they didn’t know what that meant. So she was there, my mother, and she had no other explanation for how or why. In the midst of all the chaos, all the darkness, all the unknowns, there was my mother beaming with joy!

My mother and I slowly made our way back to the staircase and then down a flight of stairs to the third floor. A thin beam of light bounced off a stairway window and as we descended further, the stairway became more and more visible. By the second floor, the stairwell was well lit – not like daylight but like a bright light shining in and lighting the way. When I reached the exit moments later it became clear that bright light came from a car, a car that was deliberately positioned on the sidewalk with its high beams shining up the staircase. That shining light stayed in place until the building was empty, until every person was safely out of the building.

My mother and I approached that car and climbed in. Behind the wheel was my hero: My Dad.

EGGPLANT

EGGPLANT

Air Fryer

INGREDIENTS

  • Eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: Seasoned bead crumbs or Panko

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl.
  2. Toss well.
  3. Place in air fryer basket.
  4. 15 minutes at 360º, shake after 8 minutes.

SERVING SUGGESTION:

Eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti

In air fryer baking dish:

  • Place cooked spaghetti with marinara sauce.
  • Top with cooked eggplant (as above).
  • Top with shredded mozzarella.
  • Air fry for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Chigger House Revisited

So much new landscaping! Stone paths were created, a wooden arch or trellis or something was erected, lots and lots of plants of numerous kinds were painstakingly added, and a tall flagpole was installed. The tiny garden was quickly transformed from a tangle of wild overgrowth to a trimmed but overcrowded area.

It did not take long for the new plants to look dehydrated and unkempt.

A few days ago the flagpole was gone and in its stead a sign was posted. It stated that the property owner was forced to take down the flag and its pole.

Pictured: Sign posted where flagpole had been installed and then removed. Sign says: “SORRY. TOLD TO REMOVE FLAG. GOD BLESS AMERICA


And this is what we see today, just a few weeks after all that work.

Pictured: South side of Chigger House with all new landscaping – as it looks now.
Pictured: Close-up of the sign.

On the Street Where I Live

Thursdays – Garbage Collection Day. We can hear those garbage trucks loud and clear every Thursday. It takes a long time for them to pick up all the trash on our street. A seemingly endless long time. But last Thursday was Thanksgiving. A holiday. Trash collection did not happen.

The garbage is mounting, higher and higher. The accompanying smell is mounting too.

A week has now gone by. Two weeks actually since the last garbage collection day. The backlog is incredible. If they haul it all and dump it in the East River, I bet we would have an instant land bridge and shortcut to Manhattan.

Pictured: An accumulation of bagged trash that stretches more than 20 feet long and 6 feet high. This collection is from just one apartment building. There are 5 more on our block alone. Outside of a garbage dump, I don’t think I have ever seen so much garbage in one place.

Big City Truck Stop

Someone, a professional truck driver no doubt, was driving a great big truck on a teeny weeny road. On our walk today, we passed this road block. Last we saw, nothing had changed. How could it?

And Then There is This One

Pictured: Me again, in yet another new jacket. This one a light blue denim with fleece collar, a little warmer than the new red jacket of yesterday.

Update: New Jacket

The new jacket arrived. See original post for refresher.

I am happy with the jacket, although I would not purchase from that company again.

So, what do you think?

Pictured: That’s me in my new lightweight yet fleece-lined “cherry red” jacket.

The Chigger House

Before – The photo below was taken in July 2021 – just 3 months ago. Some preliminary work had already begun and much of the overgrowth across sidewalks had been trimmed back only days before. This photo marked a dramatic improvement to the neighborhood.

Pictured: An old corner house barely visible behind a mass of unkempt plants and weeds.

And today – Landscaping under way under the direction of “Ari of Israel.” All of the overgrowth has been removed along with much of the existing plant life.

Pictured: The same corner house with much of the overgrowth removed.

Extensive landscaping design is in progress. Watch for details in the days, weeks, and months to come. Apparently, from the audible sounds emanating from within the structure, much renovation is being don inside, as well.