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Daredevil Performances: Is the spectacle worth the risk?

In Education, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, sociology, Technology, television, Theatre, Uncategorized, World News on June 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm

DIH LOGODanger as a spectacle has long been a past time of human culture. Death-defying stunts have graced stages of theatres and circus tents for centuries. Never has there been a more awe-inspiring sight, however, than the dramatic aerobatics of stunt pilots and wing walkers. On Saturday, June 22nd, wing walker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker died in a fiery crash during a performance at the Dayton Vectren Air Show in Vandalia, Ohio.

Wicker, who had been involved with aerobatics for more than a quarter-century, was sitting on the wing of the inverted plane as it dove, nose-first, into the ground and exploded. The aftermath of the crash left a burning wreck, two people dead and hundreds of spectators horrified.

News of the accident quickly spread around the country, landing on the lead story of every print, broadcast and online media outlet from the New York Daily News to the Huffington Post. Preliminary investigations of the cause of the crash from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are as yet inconclusive.

The very next day, high wire performer Nik Wallenda spent his evening engaged in a heart-stopping, quarter-mile tightrope walk across a 1,500 foot deep section of the Grand Canyon. As a record number of viewers tuned in to the Discovery Channel to watch, they were treated to more than a half hour of listening to Wallenda continually pray or thank God and praising Jesus with nearly every successful step. One might wonder if they would think he’s crazy too.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

From escape artist Harry Houdini to motorcycle stunt rider Robert “Evil” Knievel, daredevils have long attracted crowds of spectators and generated millions upon millions of dollars for their promoters over the years. While Houdini eventually died of a ruptured appendix, he was nearly killed several times by his own hand as a result of escape attempts gone wrong. Many of his compatriots, like Wicker, were not so lucky; which begs the question, is the spectacle worth the risk? Apparently it is because the public keeps going to see them, like sadistic voyeurs almost hoping to see something go horribly wrong.

Local government, concerned about the staggering level of liability involved, does everything it can to discourage people from attempting these kinds of stunts by requiring miles of paperwork and expensive permits before allowing these kinds of activities on public lands. Some simply don’t allow it to happen at all.

Wallenda’s high wire walk, for example, didn’t actually cross over the Grand Canyon, but the gorge of the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park. His 1,400 foot steel cable was actually suspended over land of the Navajo Nation, near Cameron, Arizona.

Could these daredevils have what Freud called a “death wish,” a desire, often deeply repressed, for self-destruction, accompanied by feelings of depression, hopelessness, and self-reproach? That might be said of Houdini, given his almost obsessive interest in death and the afterlife. But for most everyone else in this line of work, it’s about attention and a desire to push the envelope – that need for the adrenaline rush associated with doing what no one else is brave enough to do (or stupid enough, depending on your point of view).

In the end, there would be no market for these kinds of acts if the public wasn’t thoroughly fascinated by them. As for the performers themselves, it’s probably best to take into account Jane Wicker’s own words.

“Why do I do this? There is nothing that feels more exhilarating or freer to me than the wind and sky rushing by me as the earth rolls around my head,” Wicker once wrote. The day before the crash she told WDTN TV2, “I’m never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do everything’s going to be fine.”

For those left behind, there is a great sense of loss when these daring entertainers pass doing what they love. But they will be remembered for their spirit and the smiles on the face of those who sat in awe of their skill and passion to defy the very fabric of nature.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

Acclaimed author and writing guru to present “commercial” writing workshop

In Books, Education, Entertainment, Jobs, Local News, Media, Uncategorized on June 24, 2013 at 5:46 pm
Author, writing guru Peter Bowerman.

Author, writing guru Peter Bowerman.

Cincinnati, OH – On Wednesday, July 24th, aspiring professional writers in western and southwestern Ohio have the opportunity to meet and learn from “commercial” freelancing guru Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer series of books.

From 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at School Outfitters (3736 Regent Ave., Cincinnati), Bowerman will present a workshop entitled The Well-Fed Writer: Exploring the World of Lucrative ($50-125+/hour)“Commercial” Freelancing. Admission is $10 per person, cash only at the door and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Cincinnati Copywriting and Content Professionals, and Western Ohio Writers Association.

In 1993, after a 15-year career in sales and marketing, Bowerman turned his sights to freelance commercial writing (writing for businesses and for hourly rates of $50-125+). With no industry experience, previous paid writing experience or writing background, he built a commercial freelancing business in Atlanta, Georgia from fantasy to full-time in less than four months.

He has published more than 300 articles and editorials, leads seminars on writing and is a professional coach for both commercial freelancing business start-up and self-publishing endeavors.

Bowerman has self-published his five books (three Well-Fed Writer titles, including the quadruple-award-winning 2010 edition; and two in The Well-Fed Self-Publisher series, including the brand-new 2013 update of the 2007 original). His five books have yielded 70,000 copies in print and a full-time living since 2001 (all the how-detail of which is chronicled in TWFSP).

In this 90-minute workshop, Bowerman will explain what commercial writing is, why the field makes sense now, how to build a portfolio, where the work is, what to charge, and more.

According to the founder of the Cincinnati Copywriting and Content Professionals, Alexandria Webb, “I started this group to provide copywriters and content professionals—whether novice or veteran, freelance, in-house, or with an agency — in the Cincinnati area with networking, support, and educational opportunities like this one.”

The Western Ohio Writers Association  is based in Greene County and provides networking and educational opportunities to writers in southwest-central Ohio. Participants attend monthly critique sessions to hone their writing skills through peer feedback, networking opportunities and educational presentations.

Gery L. Deer, professional freelance writer, owner of GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and director of the Western Ohio Writers Association, noted, “Our organization is about education and enhancing the skills and opportunities available to writers in our area. Professional career support, like Mr. Bowerman’s workshop, is an important part of that mission.”

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP online at http://bit.ly/195D0FP

Is Big Brother watching too closely?

In National News, Opinion, Politics on June 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm


In his book, “1984,” author George Orwell noted, “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” Even though he published his most famous work in 1949, Orwell seems to have had a sixth sense about the future of government scrutiny.

Orwell’s dystopian society may seem too dark and ominous to be believable, but given the recent events surrounding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance operations, it may be more reality than fiction. As more information is revealed about these activities, congressional hearings are turning up little in the way of explanations by those in charge.

So why is it so offensive that the government would eaves drop on phone calls and emails to help prevent another 9-11 disaster? According to officials, hundreds of potential threats have been thwarted thanks to the tireless efforts of those who invade the privacy of law-abiding Americans. Unfortunately, since all of that information is classified, there is no evidence to show the public that corroborates their claim.

Civil liberties watchdog groups pounced on this story as soon as the information was leaked to the press. The question begs asking, however – under which rock were the leaders of these groups living where they didn’t think this was going on already? To the bigger point, who cares?

Modern society is full of surveillance cameras, listening devices and internet-based tracking systems, only a tiny fraction of which are used by government agencies. Most of them are operated privately to collect marketing or usage information or provide security. And people just accept it. It’s there, there’s nothing that can be done about it and just part of life in a technologically advancing society.

ringyIn the early 1900’s, “party lines” were the main method for which residential customers were provided with telephone service. Everyone on the same circuit would have to wait their turn to use the telephone and simply agree not to listen in on each other’s conversations. Of course, this was a source of great amusement in early radio and television comedy sketches. Today, it would be viewed as a huge invasion of privacy and thoroughly unacceptable.

Barreling through continually updated technology requires that people must adapt at a faster pace. Users of that technology should be aware that anything posted on the internet or passed through an electronic broadcast system (i.e.: cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.) could be intercepted without their permission or knowledge. There’s no telling who is listening or reading any of it or what will become of that information.

If the NSA or other government agencies are tracking information, the assumption should be that there is something worth listening to. If they’re violating the law based on having no just cause for acting on that information then it’s probably best to let the courts iron it out, not congress. The last thing anyone wants is for the one group in America with the most detrimental secrets – and with the hardest time keeping them – to be in control of everyone else’s.

Whether there is legitimate cause for any branch of the U.S. government to spy on its own people is still debatable. As it is, President Obama now finds himself in defense of an administration whose platform for election included condemnation of the previous one for the same kinds of anti-privacy actions.

In a post-9/11 America, the Bush administration was constantly under fire for what liberals saw as a violation of privacy and infringement of civil liberties all in the name of national security. As it turns out, what’s good for the goose really does appear to be good for the gander. The truth is, Democrat or Republican, as long as terrorists threaten the free nations of the world there will always be some loss of personal privacy in the name of security.

In “1984,” Orwell presented a future devoid of personal freedoms and independent thought, not protected from terror but from free choice. America’s leaders have a choice – to be diligent or let history repeat itself in the name of popular opinion. In the meantime, the citizenry will have choices to make as well – in the next elections.

Gery L. Deer is an independent journalist and business writer from Jamestown, Ohio. More at the new website, http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

I pledge allegiance, on Flag Day

In Education, history, National News, Opinion, Politics, sociology on June 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm


“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” This is how the Pledge of Allegiance is worded today. When it was originally penned in 1892, however, the author of the oath, socialist minister Francis Bellamy, included no references to America or God.

ros123Bellamy’s hope was that the pledge could be used by any citizen around the world to honor their own country’s flag. Later, it was adopted as a pledge to the American flag and the words, “under God,” were added in 1923.

To some Americans, there is no more powerful a symbol of liberty and freedom. To others, the flag is a symbol to be used in protest of government tyranny. Whatever the semiotics involved, the American flag has profound meaning around the world.

Legend has it that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who made flags for the navy, was commissioned by George Washington to create the first flag for the colonies. As charming a story as that may be, however, there is no verifiable information to support the tale.

What is known, historically, is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colours, was raised near George Washington’s headquarters outside Boston on January 1, 1776. It had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the complete British Union Flag in the canton (the upper corner, where the blue field and stars are located today). Another early flag included a rattlesnake and the motto “Don’t Tread on Me,” emblazoned on it; a design popular today with the conservative Tea Party movement.

The design of the Grand Union flag was altered about a year later to include the better known blue field in the canton with a circular pattern of stars representing each of the original 13 colonies. On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted this version as the flag of the United States. More than two centuries later, the date is still honored throughout the country as a holiday called, Flag Day.

Since its creation, the “Stars and Stripes” has been one of the single most recognized symbols in the world. Sadly, some people in America today believe that honoring the flag is no longer relevant, that it’s distasteful to fly or display the flag, or even offensive.

There is no question that our country is not perfect, and our leaders have made their share of mistakes. But the ideals of peace, justice and freedom are worth honoring, regardless of your political views, and that’s what Old Glory represents.

Today, children are no longer encouraged, sometimes even prohibited, to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. The Pledge is seen by some as indoctrination to an ideology or worship of a false idol or some other such nonsense.

The truth is, indoctrination is everywhere and is usually voluntarily accepted without question. It’s in our social organizations, our schools, our businesses and especially in our political parties, churches, synagogues and mosques.

Each of these doctrines tend to divide us as a people, but getting behind a common symbol, the one that is intended to represent the best in us, the honor and sacrifice of those who came before, that is an indoctrination that can unite us in a way not found anywhere else on earth. It’s not forced, commanded or required – it’s our choice, each and every one of us.

Our flag has been burned, spat upon, dragged in the dirt, destroyed in battle, and shredded in conflict. It has withstood civil war, social unrest and political mudslinging. Far too many times, it has also covered the remains of those who died to defend it.

It may only be a red, white and blue piece of cloth, but it represents blood and sacrifice and signifies your right to find it distasteful, continuing to be a symbol of those rights whether or not you appreciate it. So happy Flag Day and may God (whoever your god happens to be) bless the United States of America.

Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. More information at http://www.gerydeer.com.

Greene County Healthy Lifestyles Coalition To Hold 10th Annual Family Fitness Challenge

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

Xenia, OH – The Greene County Healthy Lifestyles Coalition is hosting its 10th Annual Family Fitness
Challenge on Thursday, June 20th at Shawnee Park in Xenia from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. The event is FREE and
open to the public. Families and groups are encouraged to attend.

The Fitness Challenge is designed to motivate youth and families to adopt healthier lifestyles—specifically in
the areas of fitness and nutrition. Participants can visit fitness stations and health information booths, complete
a fitness passport and receive a free prize (while supplies last). Healthy snacks will be available.

Partners for the Challenge include the Greene County Combined Health District, the Greene County Healthy
Lifestyles Coalition, Women’s Recovery Center, TCN Behavioral Health Services, Community Action
Partnership, Greene County Parks & Trails, the Greene County Public Library, ZumbAtomic and Fairborn
Kids’ Learning Place. For more information, call Laurie Fox at 937-374-5669.

Local columnist to discuss his long-running print series on WDTN-TV2’s, Living Dayton program, June 18.

In Business, Entertainment, Local News, Media, Uncategorized on June 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm
Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Dayton, OH – Jamestown columnist, Gery L. Deer, author of the weekly editorial column, “Deer In Headlines,” will appear on the WDTN-TV2 program, Living Dayton, at noon on Tuesday, June 18 to talk about the successful five- year run of the series and what readers can expect from him in the future. Originally starting out as a guest columnist in 1993, Deer has had several long-running columns in various publications and served as a Features Editor for the Times newspaper chain for most of 2008.

“My goal is to make people think and, from the feedback I get, I believe I’ve managed to do that every week,” says Deer, noting that he launched a self-syndicated version of the column in 2009 for print and internet publications. “I’m often stopped on the street by a reader who asks a question or gives me their opinion of one of my topics.”

On the television program, Deer will also discuss the differences between blogs and traditional op-ed columns and a possible “Deer In Headlines” anthology book and how readers can participate in choosing past columnist to include in the publication. Distributed by GLD Enterprises, “Deer In Headlines” is published each Thursday on the opinion page of the Xenia Daily Gazette and the Fairborn Daily Herald.

In addition to being a freelance columnist, Deer is also a successful commercial writer and the featured business contributor to the Living Dayton program. For more information, or to watch the show on a live video online during air time, visit http://www.livingdaytontv.com.

Washington Square Shopping Center Announces First Annual Dashapalooza, Saturday, June 22nd

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Food, Health, Local News, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on June 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Smoked Ribs_WSQ_2011_0004Washington Twp.  –  The merchants and management of Washington Square Shopping Center are proud to announce the First Annual Dashapalooza – The Party Before the Dash, from noon until 4PM on Saturday, June 22nd in and around the WashingtonSquareShopping Center at Far Hills Ave. and Whipp Rd. in Centerville. The event is free and open to the public.

Dashapalooza is a one-day art and merchant festival on the eve of the 4th Annual Dorothy Lane Market DLM Dash 5K Run/Walk.  Along with sidewalk sales and special offerings from participating merchants at Washington Square, Dashapalooza will feature exciting physical and art-themed activities for all ages.

Participants can barrel down a giant, inflatable slide, express themselves on the monster mural, draw on the sidewalk for prizes in the sidewalk art “chalk off” or take the obstacle course challenge.  Because it is important to “keep it local”, community based artists have been invited to exhibit and sell their work throughout the shopping center as part of the event.

Plus a smoked pulled pork sandwich cookout will highlight just one of many food and refreshment options on hand. Throughout the day, visitors will be entertained by live music featuring the acoustic sounds of internationally recognized Blues Duo, Izzy and Chris.

According to Melissa DeHart, property manager at Washington Square, the majority of the stores are participating in what they hope to make a long-running partner event to extend the excitement and anticipation of the annual DLM Dash.

“Washington Square is dedicated to the community,” DeHart says. “Our neighborhood of merchants, offers some one-of-a-kind places to shop, enjoy great food and even join an exercise group.”

IMG_3128Wendy Preiser is the owner of T-Willy’s Frozen Yogurt Emporium and one of the center’s newest tenants. “Some of the shops are hosting a scavenger hunt where visitors can win some great gift baskets,” she says. “Special deals will be offered throughout the shopping center as well including 25-percent off boxed invitations at the Envelope, one free mini album to each family that visits Moto Photo, a book signing at Tropical Smoothie Café, $10 coupons toward the purchase of “Art to Wear” at Nettle Creek Interiors, and in honor of our runners, energy pops at T-Willy’s.”

Dashapalooza is sponsored in part by Dorothy Lane Market, Up and Running, Boston Stoker, The UPS Store, Montage – The Salon, T Willy’s Yogurt Emporium, Pizza Hut, Knapke Cabinets, Trophy Nut, Nettle Creek Interiors, The Envelope, Utopia Salon & Day Spa, Helms Shoe Repair, Universal 1 Credit Union, Clark’s Home Medical, Moto Photo, Fox Cleaners, and Tropical Smoothie Café. For more information contact Melissa DeHart by calling 937-535-5690 or go online to http://www.dashapalooza.com.

Science and the public benefit from storm chasers

In Education, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on June 3, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

WHIO-TV's weather radar as it appeared on April 3, 1974 approximately 4:20PM as the Xenia Tornado touched down. Notice the "hook" echo indicating the twister.

WHIO-TV’s weather radar as it appeared on April 3, 1974 approximately 4:20PM as the Xenia Tornado touched down. Notice the “hook” echo indicating the twister.

In the 48 hour period between April 3rd and 4th, 1974, the Midwestern United States experienced one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in history. Known as a “super outbreak,” 148 confirmed tornadoes touched down from Michigan to Alabama and Illinois to West Virginia, with 30 of them in the F4-F5 categories and resulting in the deaths of 300.

One of the most devastated towns was Xenia, Ohio, where a massive F5 funnel tore through the city leaving a mile-wide path of destruction, killing 33 and injuring more than 1,100. The low death toll is attributed to advanced warning provided by WHIO-TV weatherman, Gil Whitney using the first local weather radar system in the Dayton area.

Satellite, GPS and advanced warning networks, along with modern Doppler radar have all helped increase early warnings for tornado victims from less than 3 minutes to more than 15 minutes. Much advancement in severe weather detection might never have happened, however, without the work of the brave men and women who call themselves, storm chasers.

Storm chasers are serious scientists working to increase our knowledge of tornadoes and how they behave. Unlike those depicted in the 1996 movie, “Twister,” however, chasers experience little glory instead spending days and weeks in preparation that may result only in a few moments of tornado spotting.

As you might expect, purposely trying to outmaneuver the proverbial “finger of God” carries with it some inherent danger. Unfortunately, that danger can turn deadly at any moment.

On May 31st, revered storm chaser Tim Samaras, 55; his son, Paul, 24; and meteorologist Carl Young, 45, were killed near El Reno, Oklahoma as they tried to document one of several tornadoes moving through the area. Since their deaths, many have asked, “Is the data gathered from storm chasing worth the risk?” In my opinion, yes, it is.

I’ve always been fascinated by tornadoes. The day after the Xenia tornado of ’74, my parents took me along as they assisted with the cleanup efforts by using our grain trucks to help haul away debris. I never forgot what I saw there. Nor will I ever forget the darkened, green sky and the strange, coldness of the air as the monster storm was passing through. It marked my psyche for years to come.

Possibly the most famous photo of the Xenia Ohio 1974 Tornado. Taken from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

Possibly the most famous photo of the Xenia Ohio 1974 Tornado. Taken from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

The experience left me nearly terrified of storms, until one day in 1988, when I was alone at our family farm and stepped outside after hearing tree branches break during a storm. I stood on our front porch, paralyzed, as I watched a small funnel cloud worm its way across the pasture in front of me, parallel to our house.

My ears popped as I stood motionless, surrounded by completely still air except for the slim tube descending from the sky into a swirling mass of dust. With almost no sound at all, it smashed the wooden sideboards of one of our old trucks, crossed the field about a half mile away and totally demolished a neighbor’s barn.

As quickly as it came, it was gone. That day, my fear gave way to a new respect for one of nature’s most dangerous, ephemeral phenomena. Since then, I’ve been within eye-shot of two more tornadoes and educated myself about them as best I could without taking to the road as a chaser.

But, I have the utmost respect – not to mention appreciation – for those who have. While there are probably some storm chasers who are just thrill-seekers, I have no doubt that most are in it for the science and the potential benefit that comes from the effort.

Early warning systems now broadcast through TV, Internet and cell phones, and most air raid sirens have been re-purposed for use as tornado warning systems. Everyone in and around Tornado Alley should remain diligent when severe weather approaches and heed warnings when they are issued.

It’s doubtful we’ll ever be able to fully predict when and where a tornado will strike but, thanks to the work done by storm chasers, scientists can give people a fighting chance to be better prepared.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.