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Gratitude on Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Gratitude and Giving Back


Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the US. While some Americans will stuff themselves silly, argue with relatives they rarely see, and drink enough to float a sailboat, many others try to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive.


Thanksgiving is about gratitude and giving back. Take stock of the good in your life and give thanks, to God, to a Higher Power, to your family and friends, to someone. If you think the choices are between half empty and half full, then choose the half full and keep filling it up.  


There are things that could be better in everyone’s life, but today is not about wanting more, or the next bigger, better, newer model of anything you own. It’s not about trying to one up your relatives you hardly see, and probably can’t stand. It’s not about consuming vast amounts of food and drink and making yourself as obnoxious as you can.


It’s about finding peace in what you have. It’s about accepting your life and doing your best to live it and improve it. It’s about moderation in most if not all things. And it’s about helping others less fortunate than you.


Often the best way to give thanks is to help others. I don’t know about you, but I get a warm feeling inside when I help someone with no intention of being recompensated. I am not rich. I can’t drive. And I have physical challenges. But I still volunteer to help others. I’m willing to help a friend, associate or even a stranger whose need is important to them.  


So, eat and drink in moderation. Don’t argue with obnoxious relatives, smile, ask how they are, and leave them to talk with others. Arguments can ruin the spirit of the festivities and cause digestive problems. Stay centered and peaceful throughout the day if possible. Make a commitment to be nice to everyone, say nothing hurtful or mean, and not to take the last piece of turkey away from your younger cousin. May God bless you and keep you safe if you’re traveling Remember, life’s what you make it.


And when you wake up tomorrow, give thanks for that too. As a matter of fact, start a new habit of giving thanks on a regular basis. It’ll improve your mood, your outlook, and your approach to daily tasks. Try to find something positive in everything you do. Look for the good qualities in people, events, and things. For you may find what you’re looking for. Let this Thanksgiving be the one that starts you on a new road. The road on the positive side.     




Posting Announcement

Thursday, November 18th, 2010


Look guys, I appreciate you coming to visit and leaving a comment. But, I don’t like others posting ads on my site. If you think your ad is super-duper good and millions would benefit, then email me off site with the ad and proof of what you claim. If I like what you’re offering and I can check it out to make sure you’re not just whistling down by the bayou, I MAY post it. If not, then either get your own site or find someplace else to post it. Don’t just resub the same ad or whatever. And stop crying like a frog at the edge of the dried up swamp. Please keep comments to the articles posted. And this doesn’t mean a phrase about the article and a gazillion words about something off topic either.  Don’t be puerile. Barbara 



Quality, Performance, and Pride

Friday, November 12th, 2010



Have you noticed the quality of service in chain establishments has gone downhill lately? There never seems to be a salesperson or waitress around when you need one. And no more time for idle chatter – no “How are you today?” or “What about this weather?”. Just business. The quality of goods has also slid downward. Items rarely last to their warranty, never mind beyond it. Large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, will be replaced several times in a normal family’s lifetime. No need to worry what to do with Grandma’s washer anymore.


While in high school, I worked for a department store chain that at the time held pride and performance in high esteem. During the application process we took a written quiz on how to handle customers. It had to be passed in order to work there. In addition, a class needed to be attended about customer care before you began working. Sadly, this store no longer seems to hold to these ideals, sliding to the “norm” of other department stores.


Later when I worked for a computer manufacturer that has since been absorbed by another, I was exposed to “second sourcing”. This is when a standard component is manufactured by a competitor and used in your computers. These parts would be tested when they arrived. Often the yield of these parts was under 50%. Had there been a software testing glitch on their end? Or had they just shipped parts to meet their quotas?



In the March 1991 Forbes Magazine, an article described the sales of two cars: the Chrysler Plymouth Laser and the Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Chrysler car averaged only 10 sales per dealership, while the Eclipse sold over 100 per dealership.


The interesting thing about this is the two cars were identical, made from the exact same design. The only differences were; the car’s name, the company selling the cars, and the country of manufacture.   



Japanese cars have been known for years as being of better quality than American cars. Why is this? Because they’ve built up their reputation for years by selling quality products. But, where did this embracing of quality come from?



In 1950, Dr. W. Edward Demming, a quality control expert, was sent by General MacArthur to Japan to manage the war ravaged, industrial base of the Japanese economy. Demming taught the Japanese, “total Quality Control Principles, including 14 principles and a core belief which formed the foundation for decisions made in every successful, major, multi-national Japanese corporation to this day. The core principle was: Every employee should have a constant, never ending commitment to consistently increase the quality of their products and every aspect of their business, every single day. The use of this belief would give them the ability to dominate the world’s markets.       



The American way to make profits is to, “Increase volume and cut costs”. And even though Demming, an American, put forth the concept of increasing the quality of what’s being done, and to do it in such a way that quality wouldn’t cost more in the long run, American companies failed to listen. They clung to the outmoded belief that only certain levels of quality can be achieved before costs get out of hand. And ignored the fact that if a quality product is produced, people will wait in line and pay more.



CANI, or “Constant and Never-ending Improvements” should not only be applied to every American business but can be applied to facets of everyday life. (More on this in another post.) CANI can be applied to business, personal relationships, spiritual connections, health and finances. The idea tiny daily improvements create compounded enhancements     can be used to improve most aspects of business and your life.



Remember the saying “all good things take time”? It’s true. You wouldn’t expect someone recovering from leg surgery to run a marathon the next day. Nor would you expect someone who’s never handled a bow and arrow to win first place in a competition. It has taken years for American quality to degrade to the state it’s in today. If we want to have pride in our products and services once again, it will take time to scrape and scrabble our way back to the top. Would it be worth it? I think so.



So, should you:

-          Buy from a smaller manufacturer who spends more attention on the product than from a large chain who sells it for less?

-          Buy locally where you know the vendor and she knows you as opposed to from an out-of-town larger establishment where you remain one in a sea of faces?

-  Buy an item because it doesn’t cost much, or buy a quality item costing more?


Only you can answer these questions for yourself. But remember, you get what you pay for.



“Awaken the Giant Within” by Anthony Robbins. If you’re interested in reading either this book or others of his teachings go to Or put “Awaken the Giant Within” into your browser and see where you can buy it


It’s Nanowrimo Time!

Monday, November 1st, 2010


It’s Nanowrimo time.

Don’t sit there wasting time,

Write, and let your writing shine,

During Nanowrimo time!


For those of you who aren’t aware of the significance of November, it’s  Nanowrimo month. Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Notice how the first letters of each word are used to make up the name, who woulda thunk it? The point of this posting is to let you know I will be taking part in Nanowrimo this year, so my posting to this blog may (read as will definitely) grow a little lax. Feel free to chart my progress with me at the associated blog


Or use the link marked Barbaras Writing to get there.


The POLAD stands for Passages of Light and

Darkness and is where I’ll be posting my writing, and publishing attempts. If you’re interested stop on over. And though this month posting will be sparse, I’ll be back in December. Take care.




The Bigger They Are — The Less They Care

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010


The Bigger They Are —

The Less They Care


HOW BIG IS TOO BIG for a service company? Many big companies provide ‘necessary’ services to those using the Internet. For example, WordPress was used to post this entry.


Is there a point when they become so enamored with themselves and their perceived worth, they cease to fill the wants and needs of their clients? (And by clients I mean all the consumers using their services, not just the majority   –which can be anywhere from 51% to 99.99 %.) Do they instead, do things or provide services they think important or relevant to their own needs? Things they think the consumers want, not what they actually need? 



Of the millions of people who access the Internet daily, over 30 million of them have some sensory or motor disability necessitating the use of adaptive equipment. From the inability to ‘see’ the screen, to the lack of hand mobility to use a mouse, adaptive equipment and software has tried to compensate for and make available, the ‘wonders of the Internet’. When the Internet came into being, it was thought it would be the ‘Great Equalizer’. Sitting behind a computer keyboard, no one else could see if you sat in a wheelchair, could not type, or could not see the computer screen. But then technology took off, and those of us who do things a bit differently, were left in the dust.



Let’s consider: YahooGroups, Google, and WordPress and see how ‘user friendly’ they are to those using adaptive equipment.



Invisible Links and No Easy Communication


In order to register for a lecture (or series of them) hosted by YahooGroups, one must ‘read’ a graphic symbol to prove one is human. This is impossible for those who use screen readers, as they only read text; those with many forms of color blindness, as they cannot differentiate colors; and those with certain vision difficulties, including contrast and clarity problems.


But wait. YahooGroups has conveniently provided a link to an alternate way to prove one’s humanness. Will it be an audio password? Or something else?  Just click on this link below and see:



Did you click on the link? What? You couldn’t find it? Well, golly-gee, no one has complained about it. It must be your problem. 


And that’s partially due to the fact that on YahooGroups the way to communicate with them is neither easy nor intuitive. Instead of a contact link, YahooGroups uses a Let us know link. It brings you to a Groups Suggestion Board.


Here, you input your suggestion and then you… what? There’s no link to submit or review your suggestion. And no instructions on what to do. The rest of the links are for reading and commenting on the suggestions of others. I haven’t been able to find any of the comments I’ve made (it doesn’t tell you in which category it’s putting your suggestion in,  if any at all. Nor have I ever received anything from YahooGroups about receiving my comments. Did they actually get in? I have no idea. So, this giant doesn’t even care if someone’s tapping to get in. Now, every time I take a class hosted by YahooGroups, I contact the moderator and ask nicely for him/her to add me to the class list. So far, it’s worked. The question is: Why should I have to do things differently? Accessibility shouldn’t be an option; rather it should be a facet of a service or website. 



Unwanted New Version And Links Going Nowhere:


I used to use Google as my browser. But when Google Chrome came out, I stopped. Why, you might ask. I’ll tell you.  


One day, when I went to use Google, my screen reader wouldn’t talk. I tried everything, but no sound. A sighted person told me I had to choose either ‘OK’ or ‘Cancel’. For what?


To update to Google Chrome. I was hesitant about updating Google. I was finally feeling comfortable with it and didn’t want anything ‘newer’ or ‘better’. But Google wouldn’t work until I chose. So I chose Cancel to see what happened. It threw me out of Google. So, I went back in and tried OK.


While it did update to Google Chrome, this new version was NOT accessible to me.  So now I use MSN as my browser.  Another befuddled giant.



I went back to check on Google. It now has a link to click if you use adaptive equipment. I clicked the link and Google seemed to work, though I didn’t test it extensively. Invigorated, I tried to access my Gmail account. Unable to remember my password, I used the link where you put in your email address and it’s supposed to give you your user name and password. But, I never got that far. At the point where one is supposed to interpret the graphic, I chose the audio option. Nothing happened. After several tries, none of which went anywhere, I gave up, and went back to If you have a link for alternate accessibility, it should work, not just take up space by doing nothing.



Adaptability, We Did That Once


WordPress had, some time ago, a version that was ‘sort of’ compatible with adaptive equipment. Version 2.5. While not totally accessible, adaptive equipment could interact with it enough to: create posts and pages, edit posts, comment on, and delete posts. Not being able to use a mouse, I write and do the majority of the edits in Word and then paste the post into WordPress. This is the least aggravating way for me.  


I admit I did NOT set up the linked blogs I use. (In addition to this one there are: (POLAD stands for Passages of Light and Darkness and is where I’ll be posting things about my writing.) and, where I plan to post items on the RENS system (Rest, Exercise, Nutrition, And Spirit or Self-actualization). I am, slowly but surely, learning how to use my blogs’ functions.  


But, back to the story. After version 2.5, I guess WordPress decided accessibility was only a fad and went back to being glitzy and mouse-friendly and to heck with accessibility. So, this blog is based on version 2.5, even though the latest version is 3.0.1. And it will stay at 2.5 until WordPress gets its head out of the sand and resuscitates accessibility. 

I’m not holding my breath. A giant who’s seen the sun and got scared? Or did WordPress glimpse the yellow orb and decide it didn’t like it?   


Let’s face it ADA is a fact not a fad. But as the world’s population ages and more people need a bit extra something (which will probably come under the heading adaptive equipment), perhaps the light will dawn and more sites will become accessible. We can hope. So, to all you ‘big guys’, either make your programs accessible or get out of the race. Maybe you’d do better watching from the sidelines as younger, hungrier companies embrace accessibility.




Mirror Image

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Have you noticed that many people who post on the Internet think everyone — likes the same things they do, want the same things they do, have the same desires, ideals, and prejudices they do?


They offer you a solution to a problem, an item to buy, or an event to attend, based solely on their experiences. The way they solved the problem, the information in the item they’re selling, or the material they’ve collected for their seminar, worked for them; so it must work for you also. So follow this list of instructions and the problem will dissolve, as if it never existed.


What these people don’t realize is — everyone is an individual, and therefore needs an individual solution to achieve the best results for them. They stand in front of a gathering of people (either real or virtual) and see only their own smiling face reflected back — perpetuating the idea their solution is the one and only one to work.


Studies have shown people learn from, and retain, information from different media in a dissimilar manner.  Some people may learn best from visual images, others from audio, and some by reading the specified material. When an information product is offered for free in one media and has a price associated with it in another media, it builds unnecessary walls and can often cost more than just a sale.


I don’t like video products on the Internet. The Internet has no idea how to present material to those of us who are visually challenged. In addition, video files are large — taking up too much space and too long to load and view. I prefer my information in a written manner where I can control the rate I access the item at.


There are pros and cons for every type of media. But, if a choice is given, more visitors will come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling from your site, and just may return.


So, step outside your comfort zone and try bringing in people with different ideas, opinions, and beliefs than yours. A little friendly discussion will get you thinking; challenge some of your unfounded beliefs, and may even inspire you. Try some different things, approach a problem from another angle, or do something you’d normally consider “crazy”. Inventions like the telephone, television and microwave were thought impossibilities at one time. Stop copying and start thinking.   


Putting Safety First

Thursday, September 16th, 2010



The oil well in the gulf has been plugged and soon BP will be leaving the area. The question is: “Have we learned anything from this?” and an even bigger question looms: “Will anything be done so it never happens again?”


Having a background in engineering, I was flabbergasted to learn not only didn’t BP have a working shut-off valve, but no back-up system –heck not even a back-up plan.


Long ago in another lifetime, while I was in college, I attended a talk given by someone from NASA. I don’t remember his name nor which department he was from — it was over 30 years ago, but the main idea of the talk stayed with me.


Any system operating in a non-normal environment should contain four degrees of safety (4DOS).


First, let me define “non-normal environment”. Any environment where the atmosphere and/or pressure (or gravity) deviates significantly from surface earth normal. This includes space, where there is no oxygen to breathe and the gravitational force is much less. Similarly under the ocean there is no breatheable air and the pressure is greater.


So, machinery and procedures in this under sea environment should follow the four Degrees of Safety.


What are these degrees?


I’m glad you asked. They are to have 1) a primary system built to withstand extremes of the environment with a worked in safety margin, 2) a working back-up system to this primary system that goes through periodic maintenance checks, 3) a secondary system that can perform the same duties of the primary and can be used if anything “fatal” happens to the primary system, and 4) a working back-up system to the secondary system that undergoes periodic maintenance checks. The secondary systems should be able to disengage the primary system and take over full operation if necessary.


Granted, this design was suggested for enclosed environments on planets other than earth. But these days equipment and procedures developed to solve one problem have often been used for the benefit of others. For instance, my computer “talks” to me as I’m visually challenged. The speech software has been used to teach those with learning disabilities to both learn to read and to increase their reading speed. Drugs developed for treatment of one disease or condition have been used to treat others. The list of other devices or substances providing dual or multiple duties is not short.


I’d like to propose the degree of safety be determined by the extent of damage able to be caused by the malfunction of a system; the extent it can impact either human life, other life, or the environment; and the measures necessary to “clean up” the malfunction.


From the above criteria, BP should have employed the full four degrees of safety. BP’s desire to maximize profits and not employ an adequate safety system have negatively affected the environment; animal life of the seas, land, and skies; and human life and livelihoods (in this case the ability to adequately provide for families and communities).


As Earth is the only home world we have, making any system that either produces substances affecting human or animal life negatively, or can be detrimental to the environment should employ some facet of this 4DOS system.


Not all systems will have to employ all four Degrees of Safety, but all should be inspected in a periodic manner, repaired and kept in optimum running condition, and replaced when a more effective/ efficient system comes along.  This is the ideal condition, and will probably not be the norm. Manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, and other man-made components; power plants, including nuclear;  hospitals and other institutions using pharmaceuticals; and other industries that produce industrial waste should be included. One would hope that many of these facilities already employ such safeguards, but I wouldn’t count on it. Am I dreaming? I hope not, but dreams are free. The cost of cleaning up another mess like the oil spill in the Gulf is not.    






Monday, June 14th, 2010

This is one of three blogs which I hope to soon interconnect. This one, the “main” blog, will be concerned with general items, but will focus on accessibility (or lack thereof) of blogs, electronic media, and the Internet in general.                       

My name is Barbara and I’ve been totally blind for over 20 years now. During that time, I’ve: raised two children, help to raise three step-children, and am now helping spoil four grandchildren. Before going blind from a head injury, I received a BS in electrical engineering from a state university and worked for several years in the semi-conductor industry. For the past five years or so, I’ve been writing fiction, taking Internet courses on writing, and have had some short stories published. My current genre is Urban Fantasy and I’m working on a novel length work. (If interested go to The other blog I have is, and is concerned with living life to its fullest after turning 50. And if you’re not that old yet, come by anywayI plan on including recipes, exercises, and other informational stuff.