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Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Liberals and corporate America must co-exist

In Business, Charities, Economy, Local News, Media, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized on January 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

DIH LOGOIt wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that most liberals with a severe opinion of corporate America are primarily on the left-wing extremist end of things. But their voices are heard, nonetheless, and help to further expand the gap between left and right.

I recently posted to my social media page a paraphrased quote from a conservative business owner expressing her outrage over a liberal commentary on how businesses shamelessly promote themselves to generate sales. Her response was as follows, “Liberal bleeding hearts always seem to hate corporate America, right up until they want money for something.” Needless to say, the woman’s comment was not taken well by some of my liberal Facebook friends.

Regardless of how they want to think of themselves, liberal-based non-profits are, in fact, corporations in business. Although the term “non-profit” could be debated in many respects, they are still in business to create a product that generates revenue and pays salaries. In fact, they pay employees very well. The current CEO of National Public Radio pulls in about $1.4 million a year, a number that the network’s news commentators would likely find deplorable were it related to a commercial business chief.

So, how does one respond to a conservative business person who remarks, “If I advertise my business then the liberals call me vulgar? But it’s perfectly acceptable for them to go on TV and beg for money to keep their non-profit going. Why is that ok?” Seems like a simple question, but the answer is a bit more complex.

Corporate advertisers are regularly accused of manipulating consumers into buying. At the same time, non-profits (typically liberal causes or organizations) are just as manipulative when asking for “member support,” or however they decide to word it. Is there a difference? Not really. It’s actually more about perspective.

debt calamityLiberal non-profit heads will argue that what they do is for a greater good; people helping people, and so on. At the same time, they will accuse the conservative business owner of being interested only in turning a profit and getting rich. He, in turn, will refute the charge, saying that he’s offering a quality product for a premium price and doesn’t need to “guilt” anyone into handing over their money, all while employing people and keeping the economy going.

Mr. Conservative Business Man will also add to his statement that several times a year some non-profit knocks on his door wanting a handout, to which he responds with a nice, fat check. No one loses. People are employed, consumers get what they want – and if they didn’t want it, there’d be no product – all while the non-profit gets to keep its doors open.

The truth is, non-profits could not exist without big business. It just can’t be done. The majority of money given to public charities and social causes, as well as larger efforts like PBS, all comes from big business or charitable trusts created from successful corporate endeavors. To argue that people in corporate America make “too much money,” is also ridiculous, since the majority of U.S. companies are classified as small business, owned by middle-class people.

Several of the arguments against the Facebook quote I noted earlier focused on what one poster called, “a certain political persuasion speaking in absolutes,” and she couldn’t have been more accurate. This entire concept is based on black and white vision with no gray areas of mutual understanding. Fortunately, most people who are successful, either in business or non-profit management, understand that both have to co-exist to survive.

Corporate America has the responsibility to help those less fortunate but to do that they first have to be successful and self-sufficient. Simultaneously, non-profits have a responsibility to balance needs with wants and manage both budgets accordingly. We all have to do the best we can and work together so there will be good jobs, sustainable social programs and a strong economy.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

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Going off the mobile grid.

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Local News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on January 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm

dih-logo-SEAlmost a century ago, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) considered the prospect of a wireless telephone but quickly abandoned the idea. Today, that move certainly seems at the very least shortsighted. But with a total U.S. population at that time of 180 million, the idea of a future with more than 320 million wireless subscribers was unimaginable.

The information superhighway (Do people even use that phrase anymore?) is truly at our fingertips and it’s also in our pockets or purses and on our hips.  It’s everywhere and it’s with everyone! At the grocery, at the mall, at work, stuck in traffic, at a boring neighbor’s barbecue; and it is only getting better and faster.

GERY_GRIDBut, like the song says, every rose has its thorn and there is an ugly downside of the mobile frenzy – constant connectivity. In the blink of an eye, we were unable to escape the beep, buzz, and ringtone of our smartphones and iPads. It was hard enough to get away from the daily grind when we weren’t carrying the office around in a hip pocket, but now it’s nearly impossible.

The constant mobile distraction is certainly not limited to business professionals, or even adults. School districts have now begun to ban smartphones from classrooms and even entire school grounds just to keep the students’ attention. We are so connected that we’re even missing out on some of life’s most amazing events.

A friend recently shared an anecdote about a man who was in the delivery room for the birth of his first child. Amidst all the breathing and pushing, he was preoccupied with his cell phone, texting with someone about work. Before he realized it, the baby had been born and he totally missed it. I don’t know how true that story is, but it’s not impossible to imagine.

Watch the Living Dayton tie-in segment with Gery Deer and Shaun Kraisman.  Click the photo to watch.

Watch the Living Dayton tie-in segment with Gery Deer and Shaun Kraisman. Click the photo to watch.

And then there’s me. Since my first Commodore VIC-20 computer appeared under the Christmas tree in 1981, I’ve been immersed in technology. I’ve been a programmer, a database developer and a systems administrator. I’ve designed websites and developed social media marketing campaigns. Suffice to say, I know my stuff. But nothing prepared me for how mobile technology was going to grab my life and shake it like a rag in a dog’s mouth!

As a self-employed freelance writer, my day is spent connected to some kind of technology from the time I wake up until I pass out from exhaustion 20 hours later. From my iPhone to my Kindle Fire, I’m constantly surrounded by WiFi gadgets and mobile broadband receivers of all kinds.

For some people, the ability to disconnect from that level of techno-submersion is a serious challenge. But, with a little trial and error, I found easy ways to disconnect without being totally out of touch.

One of the biggest problems with all of this mobility is a lack of personal boundaries, with yourself and others. Back when there were only a couple of phone extensions in the house, many families would not allow calls to be made or received past a certain time of day. A level of courtesy long since gone prevented people from calling during the dinner hour or on a holiday. With a little self discipline, the restrictions can be set regarding cell phone, email and social media time.

When you work for yourself, you don’t have the luxury of watching the clock and a home office keeps the job on your mind almost continually. Fortunately, my office is not in my home, but I’m still connected, even after I lock up for the day. Over time, it was necessary for me to impose what I call “black out” hours; when I don’t answer the phone, I don’t return emails and I don’t post on social media.

I had a particularly hard time sticking to the black outs because, at first, I was always worried about missing that one all-important call that could make or break my career. Trust me, nothing is that important. And, if it is, modern caller ID technology helps you to screen calls so you get to decide whether or not to answer.

Other people need to understand and respect your boundaries as well. Unfortunately, however, it’s up to you to educate them about your availability. Remember if you train people that you answer email, texts and phone calls at all hours, they’re likely to take advantage of that.

Here are some other suggestions that might help you keep your real and cyber lives in better harmony.

  • Time your activity. Keep track of your computing time. You might be surprised how much time you actually spend with your mobile devices.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Remove your phone and other gadgets from convenient access so you won’t be continuously tempted to check texts or Facebook.
  • No tech at the table. Parents who want better communication with kids should restrict technology use at the dinner table. Of course, that means you have to rule by example. Relationships are better when people talk while sharing a meal.
  • Put down the phone and drive. Besides being safer, listening to music or just some quiet time on your commute might help ease a stressful day.
  • Resurrect an old hobby. For some people, mobile computing has overtaken time once spent on more relaxing pursuits.

Finally, my best piece of advice is to just hit the off button. Shut down the laptop, eReader, and smartphone and do something with family or friends. Go for a walk, visit a museum, read a newspaper or a book – yes, they still make paper ones – just disconnect. Going off the grid a few hours a day can really help you – psychologically, emotionally and professionally.

Click to watch the television interview tie-in that goes with this supplement.

Are you happy, or just think so?

In Education, Opinion, psychology, sociology on January 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

DIH LOGOThey say … and I admit I’m not totally certain who “they” are in this context. But they say, happiness is just a state of mind. In fact, the same, “they” also believe all reality is just in your head; that your own thoughts create the authenticity of the world around you. Yes, I know, that’s too much heavy thought for such a short column, but it offers an interesting concept.

If everything we know as reality is determined, not by the people and things around us, but, instead, from our own thoughts then how real is it, really? OK, that’s a bit much to take in, even for me. But suffice to say emotions are created and altered by thoughts. So, are you happy? Or, do you just think you are? In the end, if “they” are correct, it doesn’t even matter.

Most people can change how they feel simply by altering their thoughts or, at least, their perception of a situation. That is, unless you suffer from some type of chemical issue in the brain that causes your feelings to spin out of control no matter what you’re thinking. And we’re not going to get into any of that because I am simply not qualified to talk about the subject.

But for most, it is entirely possible to alter your state of emotion and change how you react to outside influences just by shifting your thoughts. For example, many people get upset when a child breaks or spills something. Unless someone is done physical harm, what is there to get upset about? Have you ever heard the saying, “don’t cry over spilt milk?” It’s a bit of good advice telling you not to whine about the accident, just clean it up and move on.

GDEER-BLUE_SHIRT_FROM_ABOVEIn my opinion, sometimes it’s really hard to get that one, nagging negative thought out of your head. So, I think that altering your way of thinking is more about prioritizing than anything else. In other words, pick your battles.

If you drop a dish or your child dumps Kool-Aid all over that new white rug, does it, in the grand scheme, really matter? Assuming, of course, there is no malicious intent involved. After all, regardless of the political incorrectness of the idea, kids really are just bad sometimes. Either way, getting angry and blowing your top at yourself or the child isn’t going to put the dish back together or “unspill” the drink.

Now what if your husband decided to fire up the new grill he got for Christmas inside the garage? No, I don’t know why someone would even … never mind, just go with me here. In this situation, there is a potential danger to your family so it’s worth getting a bit more upset, but you have to control your thoughts to keep from becoming hysterical.

It will serve you better and help you remain calm if you focus on preventing a potentially devastating situation than to immediately punish your idiot husband. Take the proper steps, ensure everyone’s safety and solve the problem. That’s what I mean by changing the way you think.

Needless to say, altering lifelong behavior, good or bad, doesn’t happen overnight and it’s certainly not easy. It takes practice and diligence. Whenever something happens that throws your day into an uproar, try not to get upset. Try hard to focus on a solution to whatever’s gone wrong and look forward to the positive outcome.

I’ve often argued that people make some of the most important decisions in life based solely on emotion rather than rational thought. Even the faithful are guided almost entirely by pure emotion. Making decisions actually becomes easier, and more productive when done from a logical perspective.

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

Aging in place: Helping seniors remain home longer

In Economy, Home Improvement, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on January 8, 2014 at 11:26 am

DIH LOGOCurrent statistics show approximately 1.3 million American seniors now reside in nursing homes at an annual cost of more than $83,000 per room. As more of the population comes to retirement age in the next decade, those numbers are expected to triple. Some seniors, however, are choosing to invest money to modify their current homes to meet specific accessibility needs so they can remain there as long as possible.

The professional building trade refers to it as, “aging in place,” adapting an existing home to serve as a long-term residence including the retrofit of service equipment such as grab bars, ramps, side-entry bathtubs and so on. Other alterations include the widening of hallways, lowering of cabinets and sinks, or the addition of an elevator.

Some builders now offer certified contracting services for the express purpose of refitting a home for longer occupancy, regardless of disability. For the last several years, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has provided a specialized certification called, “Certified Aging in Place Specialist, or CAPS. The program is designed to educate contractors on the latest methods and products for creating a safe, supportive environment in a senior’s existing residence.

The number of seniors living in retirement communities and nursing facilities is expected to triple in the next decade.

The number of seniors living in retirement communities and nursing facilities is expected to triple in the next decade.

Keep in mind that when you hire a Certified Aging in Place Specialist you are buying a service rather than a product. Each CAPS professional draws from a different knowledge base and will approach your project from a unique perspective, focusing on your needs.

Marty Walling, owner of Marty Walling Construction, LLC, in Riverside, Ohio, has been an NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist for more than two years. According to Walling, the process should be all about the individual experience and meeting the needs of the resident.

“A CAPS professional is trained to identify and recommend attractive design solutions that create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals who want to age in place,” Walling said. “Aging in place is more than the simple addition of grab bars and bathtub seating. These modifications offer seniors the ability to live in their own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

But not every contractor is right for these kinds of jobs and consumers should do their homework before hiring. The first step is to contact the NAHB to find a CAPS designated builder in your area. This is a niche market and few remodelers have the proper certifications.

Next, have a meeting with the builder in the home to be remodeled and discuss the needs and expectations of the project. Attendees should include the caregiver and, if possible, the individual who will most benefit from the alterations. He or she can demonstrate any accessibility problems in their existing environment so the builder can properly adapt solutions to the need.

Expense and time are also of importance and should be discussed as soon as needs are assessed and products are selected. Walling noted, “Project costs will vary with need but the average bathroom upgrade, for example, takes about two weeks to complete and the resident can remain in the home while the work is done.”

Décor should also be considered when making changes to existing furnishings. “Savvy CAPS builders will work with designers to incorporate color and style to match the home’s décor and do their best to avoid the sterile, hospital look,” Walling said. “There are safety products available that blend right in with the current design of the space which can sometimes make the modifications less obvious.”

It’s also important to stress that this kind of remodel is helpful to all types of people, not just the elderly or disabled. Alterations can be made for any need and it is all about making the homeowner more comfortable and providing them with a feeling of safety, security and ease of access.

If you or a loved one are considering nursing care because of accessibility and you own your home, an Aging in Place upgrade might be the right solution. A CAPS specialist can help you determine what works for you or whether the changes are practical, mechanically and financially. In either case, the safety and security of the resident should be the primary concern.

 

Deer In Headlines author and Living Dayton business contributor, Gery L. Deer in the "Stafford Jewelers Diamond Room" at WDTN.

Gery L. Deer is an independent business contributor to WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.