Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cooking for Seniors: Slowcooking

The challenge was to provide more home cooked meals to my parents. I wanted something where they could prepare something such that the meals would not result in huge leftovers. 

My parents can not use an oven because of bending and they do not want to wait at home for something to finish cooking. 

I came up with the Slow Cooker idea. Here are the reasons

1. No bending.  :)
2. Recipes very easy. Just dump everything in and cook :).
3. Safer then a stove and oven and you don't need to wait at home for it to finish.
4. We got a 4 quart Slow Cooker perfect for 2 people 

It has been a success so far. I pre-cut everything and get my mom (my dad refuses :)) to make the food.  I am hoping she will be able to do this without me being there.

Here are some successful Recipes

1. Veal Brisket: Veal Recipe

2. Chicken Cacciatore : From Crockpot recipe

For 4 small crock pot
 1 Onion thinly slice
1 pound chicken
1 28 once plum tomato
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup broth
1tbs caper
10 kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbs parsley stemed coarsely chopped
cooked pasta

1. Placed sliced onion in slow cooker and cover with chicken
2. in a bowl stir tomatoes slat peeper garlic and broth together. Pour over chicken
3. cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours until chicken is tender.
4. stir in capers olives and herbs just before serving .
server over cooked pasta

Monday, March 04, 2013

Posting Photos on your Website/Blog Middle Ground

This blog was inspired by the Photo Stealers post.

You just found the perfect picture, thank you google, to include on your website, your company's website or blog. This is where I want you to pause. Hands off  the mouse, tablet or whatever contraption you are using to surf the web with. The company who hosts your website or blog most likely has rules against copyright infringement and can take down your website if they receive a valid complaint. This means you could lose your web presence all because you copied a picture.

However, there is a middle ground to this.

The first step to including a picture from another website is
  • Ask for permission :). Most websites have sufficient contact info for you to make the request. Also, make sure that this website has the rights to the photo. If in doubt, ABORT ABORT ABORT :) 
Second step
  • Instead of copying the photo unto your website, link to it via the photo's original URL.
Third step
  • Provide credit for the photo's source, and link back to the original website. Everyone loves traffic :) (web traffic not road traffic grrr).

Friday, January 25, 2013

The No Bend Computer Setup

Wires are ugly! Though we are wireless, we still cannot completely escape them.   They can be an accessibility nightmare for our poor parents if they ever need to bend down and unplug/plug one of the wires that slither and snake behind their computer system.

Here are some tips to help your parents and yourself  :) have an easier to reach, accessible computer connection

1. Any power bar should be on the table. Usually, they come with a switch. If your parents need to repower their computer system (including the modem) because of a stale internet connection, then they can use the on/off switch.

2. Label the wires  so it is easy for your parents to find which one they need to unplug. (Trust me, it will avoid some phone arguments ;) )

3. Label devices like the router. (this too will avoid phone arguments)

4. Show your parents how you connected their computer. You may have to show them a few times. This is a good time to see if your parents have any difficulty reaching things and where you can tweak the computer connection.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Learn a New Language for the New Year

I love the idea of inclusive design rather than accessible design because it casts a wider net.  Language, for example,  gets overlooked because a lot of us born in Canada get by with our mother tongue. I don't think we appreciate the hard work that comes with mastering a language as well as the barriers. Imagine trying to explain medical conditions, legal and financial issues in Mandarin?

I think, now, more than ever is the best time to learn a new language. For one, it provides a little bit of understanding for what our New Canadians go through. It's also good for our brains and the apps that are available now make langauge even more ....accessible ;).

My background is European and I took a Mandarin course in 2000. Mandarin is very different from English :) . It is character not alphabet based. There is a phonetic alphabet, pinyin, to help you with the sound of the characters but,  if you read books or newspapers you, essentially, need to memorise the characters. This was my hurdle. Luckily Toronto had many Chinese signs and even newspapers, but if I didn't know the characters it was very hard for me to find their meaning in the dictionary. Also, phrases were very hard to grasp. For example, the Chinese character for "big" means something completely different if it is placed with other characters.

Fast forward to today, my child and I are both learning Mandarin. But now, we have YouTube to help us sing "ba luo bo" :).  I can use Google Translate with my pinyin keyboard to help me figure out Chinese phrases as well as their pronounciation. I can take out a Chinese book from our Toronto libraries (btw thank you Toronto libraries :)) and use an OCR app to obtain the meaning as well as the pinyin.

With the tech that we have today, I actually feel there is a chance that I, or maybe my child :) can be fluent in Chinese. But for now, the journey is an enjoyable one and maybe this could be your new year's resolution.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Spelling, Parents and Computers

There is a lot of "writing" in our little digital world. This is daunting for a lot of my students who are starting their computer voyage later in life. Most of them were not born in Canada. They speak English very well but, they never had a need to write English formally. Therefore, they are anxious over all the spelling and grammar mistakes that they are going to make.

I wanted to share with you some of the things we discuss in class to help my students get more comfortable and confident with computers and "writing" :). Perhaps, this may be something you can use for your parents if you suspect that this might be the reason for their resistance to computers.

  1. The most common complaint I get is, "How can I search on the Internet if I can't spell?"  In response, I demonstrate to them how Google is very good at predicting search queries -- even misspelled ones:). The students are very impressed at Google's predictive powers and by how little is required to enter for a query.
  2. I  show the students that it is possible to use the computer and surf the Internet in their native language.
  3. We discuss spell check and the visual cues for misspelled words like the squiggly red line :).
  4. I show my class that most of us in the digital world are bad spellers and have committed terrible acts against grammar (including me :))  and any email sent by them will be accepted with love and without judgement by their family members :).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Communicating Medical Info to the Hard of Hearing

 My mom is hard of hearing. When  my mom has a doctor's appointment, I act as the doctor's translator. I translate his/her medical mumbling terminology to .. English :).

As I took my mom to the Herzig Eye Institute,   I was pretty much shocked when my services were not needed. My mom understood the doctor with little help from me.

Here are some of the techniques he used

1. Face to face: The doctor spoke directly to my mom.  For people who are hard of hearing, it is easier to understand someone when they speak face to face.

2. Enunciation: The doctor spoke loudly and clearly.  No mumbling :).

3. No Medical Jargon: The doctor spoke to my mom in words she could understand.

4. Pamphlets Pamphlets Pamphlets :  The doctor had written information about her condition. This is great for the patients' family who can not attend the appointment and for the patients themselves.

 The doctor at Herzig Eye used simple techniques that I think all doctors should consider. The hard of hearing population is on the rise and it is within their right to expect doctors to provide accessible care to them including effective communication.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Typing with a Touchpad: A Senior's Perspective

Imagine typing your email and not knowing if the next word that you enter will appear at the end of the last line or in some random spot on the page. The problem is that as you type you touch the touchpad. This moves the cursor to another part of the page along with the words :).

To not be  able to type where you want to type is a very frustrating experience and it is shared by some of my students who have laptop keyboards with touchpads.

If your loved one already has this issue with their laptop here are some workarounds.

  1. If they are not using the touchpad at all (i.e using a mouse), then you can disable it.
  2. You can try connecting a USB keyboard. This is especially useful if their laptop keyboard is small and the user finds it hard to type on.

If you are looking to buy a laptop for your loved one and they need to use a touchpad  then buy one where the touchpad supports palm rejection. This eliminates the movement of the cursor while the user types