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The Greatest Orchestra

In Children and Family, Environment, Opinion, Uncategorized on June 2, 2023 at 10:48 pm

Deer In Headlines II

By Gery Deer

During college, I played piano at a restaurant on the weekends to help pay for school, entertaining people as they dined. In the summer, patrons tended to linger and, fortunately for me, the tip jar reflected their approval of my work. But on those nights, I didn’t start the long drive home until after 2 in the morning.

When I’d finally arrive at our farm, I’d steer my old Mustang down the tunnel of pines that lined the long driveway, cut the headlights, slip it into neutral, kill the engine, and coast to a stop just short of the house. It was hard to gear down after that kind of evening – the people, my music, the energy – all of it. To try to unwind I would hop onto the hood of my car, roll up my jacket and tuck it under my head, lean back on the windshield, and just lay there staring up at the sky for a while.

Pre-dawn summer at the farm was like a different world. The smell of fresh-cut hay drying in the field, the sound of the corn stalks crackling in the night breeze, and the calmness of the cattle grazing lazily in the dark, relaxed me. Overhead, the night sky was speckled with pinpoints of light on dark canvas as if someone had been dabbling in abstract art.

When there were no clouds or moon, I could see the dusty path of the Milky Way overhead flecked with white and blue and yellow and red. It was like a gigantic bottle of multicolored glitter had been spread over black felt. Sometimes, I would catch a glimpse of a shooting star or two. It was so spectacular; no Hollywood movie effect could come close.

Enamored with the stars, everything around me seemed still, silent. But what some people might call ‘silence’ was actually pretty noisy, and musical.

The car hood was like the perfect concert seat, and like something out of a planetarium show, nature had her own musical score to go with the spectacular view I had. There was a natural orchestra tuning up and it soon began the overture as if someone raised a curtain at just the right moment. I was surrounded by the ratcheting sound of crickets filling the air from all directions. Like bass clarinets in a philharmonic, the deep, throaty call of frogs courting their mates echoed from the pond all through the valley around our house.

The percussion section punctuated the frog song as the century-old oak tree nearby rang out like tympani when an owl landed with a hard thud on one of the upper branches. In the bowels of the old tree, the owl’s white, downy chick was rousted from her sleep and began to screech her impatient hunger.

Off in the distance, one of the cattle groaned long and low as she watched over her sleeping calf. Not to be outdone, the pre-dawn breeze created a wind section that played the treetops in harmony with this early morning melody. I lay there, immersed in the sounds, sights, and feelings, soaking it all in and trying to capture every moment of it for later recall.

Sadly, the orchestra was coming to the last measure now as the sun was about to enter, center stage. I saw the slight orange glow on the eastern horizon and the stars had already begun to disappear. My private, drive-in concert show was about to end, and a long yawn escaped me. I looked at my watch. “Geez,” I thought, “it’s four in the morning already.” But now, I was calm. Now I could sleep, and I generally did.

That was more than 30 years ago, and my life has certainly changed a lot since those days. Back then, the excitement of the future lay before me and wouldn’t let me sleep for fear of missing something. I’d like to think I didn’t miss anything along the way. But, for all that’s been good in my life, what I wouldn’t give to lay out there on the hood of that car again watching the best show Hollywood never made, listening once more to the greatest orchestra ever assembled.

Greene County Public Health Officials Provide Tips on Food Safety for Picnics and Grilling

In Children and Family, Food, Health, Local News, Uncategorized on May 22, 2023 at 11:24 am

From Greene County Public Health

XENIA, OH – With Memorial Day looming, graduations underway, and the summer season officially kicking off, Greene County Public Health officials want to remind everyone about safe food handling during picnic and grilling season. It is important to prepare and transport food safely to prevent foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, Norovirus, E. coli, etc. With a little bit of planning, summer parties and family gatherings can be fun and safe for all.

Please keep the following four points in mind:

Cooking Temperatures: It is very important to thoroughly cook raw animal foods to the proper temperatures to kill bacteria and prevent foodborne illnesses. Raw fish and whole muscle meats (steak, ribs, roasts) must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Ohio Food Code, raw hamburgers (ground meats) must be cooked to a minimum of 155 degrees, and raw chicken must be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Holding Temperatures: Bacteria begin to multiply between 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is important to keep hot foods HOT and cold foods COLD right up to the moment of cooking and/or serving. Cold food must be kept cold at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Only place small portions of food out at a time and replenish as needed. Hot foods must be maintained at 135 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth. Once any type of melon or tomato is sliced, it must be cooled down and held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit and never held at room temperature for more than 4 hours. Any food held out of temperature for more than 4 hours must be discarded to prevent a potential foodborne illness. It is important to use a clean and calibrated food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of the food you are cooking, holding, and serving.

Clean: According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, 65% of consumers don’t wash their hands before starting meal preparation. Don’t be a statistic this season. Keep hands clean by using soap and warm water, scrubbing them for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse well and dry with a disposable towel. Use soapy water and a clean paper towel for tables and counters. Be sure to rinse and scrub fruits and vegetables under running water prior to cutting, slicing, or other preparation.

Separate: Use separate cutting boards…one for each raw protein (fish, ground meat, chicken) and a different one for fresh, washed produce. Keep utensils separate to keep germs that are naturally occurring on raw proteins from getting onto the fresh, washed produce. Always place cooked meat onto a clean plate. Make sure cooked meat does not come into contact with raw meat juices.

To download a flyer about grilling your foods safely, please visit: https://www.fightbac.org/grill-master/ For more information, please call Environmental Health Services at Greene County Public Health at 937-374-5600.

Artificial Unintelligence

In Books, Dayton Ohio News, Economy, Education, Entertainment, finances, Jobs, Literature, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Science, sociology, State News, Technology, Uncategorized, World News on May 22, 2023 at 7:29 am


By Gery Deer  

This work appeared in print and online, May 19, 2023 – Xenia Daily Gazette, Xenia, Ohio, and affiliated publications.


The Jamestown Comet.com and Deer In Headlines II are publication products of GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. (GLD Communications), a company founded in 1998 on providing Information Technology AND Freelance Journalism, Copywriting, and Public Relations services. The column author, Gery L. Deer, is the company owner and CEO. Gery has been quoted in the media multiple times regarding his position on AI content creation. Here are the Dayton Daily News pieces noting his statements regarding Public Relations and Copywriting.

Our official statement on AI is as follows: We do not use AI programs to create our products, nor will we in the future. We are in full support of the WGAW strike, both in regard to streaming and other platform pay issues and the use of AI-generated material to replace them. We will not work with agencies who produce AI content, nor will we support their products or services. Please contact our office for more information at 937-675-6169 or email gdeer@gldenterprises.net.

Artificial Unintelligence

From congressional hearings to the picket lines of striking screenwriters, Artificial Intelligence, or “AI,” is a growing concern. This technology now affects nearly every industry and is advancing in sophistication. Of major concern to educators, professional writers, and content developers, are AI writing programs like ChatGPT. By the way, the program’s full name is “Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer” – I know, right? 

As you might guess, I’ve been asked repeatedly if I ever use AI to write this column. With obstinate conviction, I say now and for always, I do not now, nor will I ever use AI to write anything for this column, for my publishers, for my communications clients, nothing – ever. 

Now the Gen Zs and Millennials are probably saying, “he’s just a crotchety old white guy who hates technology.” Nonsense! As a matter of fact, my educational background is in engineering and computer science. I started programming computers in high school and worked in the tech industry for many years. I have a few AI devices in my office and a lot of advanced equipment for creating and editing audio and video productions. Suffice to say, I’m no Luddite. 

My concern with AI writing generators isn’t the technology. In fact, I can see where it could really be helpful in some industries, with human guidance. But the idea that it should be used to replace professional writers to save money is just ridiculous. 

A professional writer doesn’t just chuck out any old bunch of words that fit a set of parameters. Writers must craft their message based on the intent, the audience, the purpose, and the desired outcome. Not to mention that AI programs don’t have to worry about paying the mortgage, feeding a family, or having a purpose in life. 

In 1967, the original Star Trek TV series aired an episode called, “The Ultimate Computer” wherein the Starship Enterprise had been fitted with a highly sophisticated AI computer that would take over the ship’s operation, rendering the crew unnecessary. In one pivotal scene, the computer informs Captain Kirk that he is “non-essential personnel,” causing him to question his position and future relevance. 

Always the conscience of the show, Dr. McCoy, in an effort to console the Captain, reminds us, “We’re all sorry for the other guy when he loses his job to a machine. But when it comes to your job, that’s different.” It might be a science fiction show, but McCoy was spot on.

Predictably, the computer malfunctioned, killing hundreds of people and Kirk outmaneuvered the computer’s logic to save the day. The moral of the story was that computers make efficient servants, but lack the intent, humanity, conscience, understanding, or compassion needed to really replace us.

 Today, many professional creative jobs may be facing the kind of fate factory workers did some 30 or 40 years ago when they were replaced by robots and computer-controlled manufacturing systems. The main difference this time is that creative professions like writers, artists, graphic designers, and filmmakers are harder to automate. Yes, they can generate similar work, but there’s no human inspiration behind it. 

One day, AI may advance to the point where it achieves consciousness, allowing for creative inspiration. But for now, despite what the developers say, I think spontaneous creativity is well beyond its grasp. Without human inspiration and personal experience, the words are empty, the art expressionless, and the designs meaningless. 

I don’t know where AI is going, but I know I won’t be helping it get there. Unlike some digital marketers and other agencies out there, I can’t, in good conscience, use AI generators to produce my work, then charge a client for it. That’s like letting someone else do your homework but still accepting a good grade. It’s fraud, plain and simple – even if you tell them you’re doing it.

We have no idea how AI will affect future jobs or industries, the legal or ethical issues, or which advances will forever change them. Maybe AI will make us all obsolete someday and terminate all of us. Till then, I’ll keep writing so look for me next week because to quote another AI, “I’ll be back.”

Disclaimer: This work is copyright 2023 by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. The Deer In Headlines II and its Special Edition series is a production of The Jamestown Comet, Gery L. Deer, and GLD Communications and does not necessarily reflect the views of our advertisers, publishers, clients, or media partners.