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The Unexpected Banana

In Local News on April 21, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Deer In Headlines II

By Gery Deer

Did the headline of a news story ever leave you scratching your head, at least until you read the whole thing? Well, this is probably one of those stories and it begins, however odd it may seem, with a banana.

Once a week, I play basketball at the local YMCA, not with a team or anything, but just for exercise. On one of those days, a particularly nice, spring day, I was approached at the front door by a woman with a crate of bananas. “Would you like a banana?” she asked, cheerfully presenting the open box as if it were something from a jewelry counter display. 

I honestly didn’t have an answer right off. It really wasn’t the kind of question I was expecting on the way into the gym. The more poignant question that immediately consumed me was, why is there a woman with a crate of bananas at the entrance to the YMCA? 

A bit thrown by the random offer of fruit, I finally realized there were a half-dozen other people with her, all in athletic attire, and carrying signs and tables into a truck. As it turned out, I arrived just as a running event was closing, a 5K or the like. The box of fruit was what remained of the bananas provided to the runners at the support stations. So, never one to look a gift plantain in the peel, I gratefully accepted.

To most, a free banana might not, at first glance, seem like a life-changing incident. But, to me it was at least thought-provoking; not because of the banana, but the spontaneous gift it represented. It’s not like I was having a particularly bad day in the first place, but that one, small action changed it, lightened my thoughts, and gave me a feeling I couldn’t quite express at the time. 

As I settled into my basketball routine, I dropped the banana into my gym bag and set it aside. But I kept thinking about the randomness of having received such a thing, in such a random way, at such a random time. So, after a few minutes, I went back to it. 

Strangely enough, I opened the banana and proceeded to eat it, while simultaneously dribbling and shooting a basket here and there. I would imagine I was a pretty strange sight, but what did I care? I had a banana – an unexpected banana.

I have to say, I never considered a piece of fruit as what might generally be considered “comfort food,” but that’s how it felt at the moment. There was something about this curious food, botanically categorized as a berry (I know! Weird, right?) that generated a strange and calm feeling of gratitude. What I felt was a level of contentment as I wandered around the court, shooting the ball, and munching away, oblivious to pretty much anything else – at least until the banana was gone.

I’m fairly certain the lady who gave it to me had no idea what an impact she made on one person’s day. I mean, it was just a banana, and she was trying to unload a box full of them so they wouldn’t be wasted. Still, there I was, my day lifted, my jump shot better – don’t be too impressed, it’s a low bar – and I was just happy. I had a banana. 

So why should my banana story, umm… appeal to you? Come on, you knew I had to, right? Because something ordinary can be special if you let it. Because in the chaos of daily life, all the noise, distractions, and stresses, unanticipated treasures are all around us. We each have the power to let them move us, even if only for a few moments.

When you think about it, people are always searching for some kind of inner peace, a tranquility that seems more elusive and empty every day. Usually, we scratch our way through life, searching for even a hint of such thoughtful enlightenment by artificial means. But sometimes a quiet moment of unexpected joy and calm can emanate from the most unusual but ubiquitous source. Sometimes all we really need is for someone to give us a banana.

Diary of an Introvert

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Media, Opinion, psychology, sociology, World News on April 14, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Deer In Headlines II

By Gery Deer

Dear DiaryToday I went to a mandatory employee gathering at work and it was awful. The marketing director made everyone stand and say something nice about springtime, in front of all 50 of us! If that wasn’t enough, my boss’s assistant kept thrusting photos of her grandchildren in my face, essentially challenging me to think they are anything but adorable. 

I still did my best to fade into obscurity by sipping a Coke and looking too interested in examining a potted plant to be bothered with anything else. But then the human resources director forced us into some sort of team-building exercise. All that did was make me so anxious that I decided to fake an intestinal virus and go home.

And it got worse from there. I am, in fact, an introvert, although I don’t fit many of the stereotypes. If you Google my name, you’ll see I have some very public and extroverted aspects of my life – especially things like being on TV, public speaking, and teaching. As it turns out, that’s not so unusual. But if you’re not an introvert yourself, you may not fully understand. So, let’s clarify a few things, shall we?

First, what is an introvert? That’s a great question because there is an inherent bias toward introverts in American society, and it’s high-time people got their facts straight. Not all of us are created equal. 

According to the dictionary definition, an “introvert” is typically a reserved or quiet person who may be introspective and enjoys spending time alone. I’m not crazy about the narrow view of that definition, but it’s a start. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and what most people probably don’t realize is that introverts come in many flavors.

In 2011, psychologists Jennifer Grimes, Jonathan Cheek, and Julie Norem, researched introversion, identifying four specific types: social introvert, thinking introvert, anxious introvert, and restrained introvert. Each is pretty much as its name implies but allow me to summarize for our purposes.

The social introvert prefers solitude but may still enjoy time with small groups, probably the stereotypical behavior people most identify as introverted. A thinking introvert is more cognitive, spending a little more time than usual pondering a situation. They may be lost in thought more often and appear to “zone out.” 

An anxious introvert is, well, anxious, or nervous, and will shy away from people and situations that may overstimulate. The restrained introvert, sometimes referred to as an inhibited, introvert, tends the be someone others can count on, often appearing thoughtful and grounded. But they also may seem unemotional and remain socially guarded until they get to know someone.

Although this information helps us better understand introverts, it’s important to remember not everyone fits the same mold. Some introverts, I included, might very well exhibit characteristics of multiple types simultaneously. 

Based on the research, I’d probably be a mix of the social and restrained introvert types. I’m not wild about large gatherings, nor am I outwardly emotive, and I’m sure those closest to me would confirm how cautious I am about social connections. 

I’m not what most people would call, shy. I’ve no problem speaking or performing before a room full of people, or a packed theater for that matter. One-on-one, though, is another thing, entirely. 

That brings me to the myth that introverts don’t like people. I don’t think that’s true; it’s just that people can be overwhelming. Some introverts don’t even need to be in the same room with you to feel anxious or uncomfortable. A phone call can trigger it, or a text. It’s not about the person, it’s about the interaction and the expectations.

That’s because the mind of an introvert reacts differently to dopamine, the chemical that triggers the reward and pleasure-seeking part of the brain. While it generates an excited buzz in everyone else, it’s exhausting to the introvert, they feel overwhelmed and sometimes just shut down.

If you’re an introvert, take a deep breath. You’re not as odd as you might have once thought you were. As for everyone else, be patient. We Introverts want you in our lives. It’s just that sometimes what we need is, silence.

Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing to benefit JROTC attendance at Air Camp USA

In Charities, Dayton Ohio News, Economy, Education, Sports News, State News, Uncategorized on April 14, 2023 at 4:47 pm

The sixth annual Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing is scheduled for Friday, June 2, 2023, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM EDT, at Beavercreek Golf Club, in Beavercreek, Ohio. Proceeds will provide an opportunity for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Cadets in Greene County, Ohio to attend an exclusive 1-Day Air Camp adventure including flying with an instructor pilot. Full details are available at https://www.askrafi.com/events/6th-annual-rafis-amigos-golf-outing.

6th Annual Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing will benefit the participation of JROTC Cadets at Air Camp USA

Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing golf scramble fundraiser is the brainchild of Jose “Rafi” Rodriguez, Colonel, United States Air Force, (retired), president of Rodriguez Financial Strategies, LLC. “I started Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing to raise funds for causes dear to my heart, such as the United Way, and now, Air Camp, which will support Junior ROTC cadets in Greene County, Ohio,” Rodriguez said. Please see the full video below with interviews and event details.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Rodriguez joined the Air Force ROTC at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, where he was a distinguished graduate. After a 26-year career in the Air Force, Rodriguez retired as a senior officer while serving at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

Rodriguez proudly chose the name Rafi’s Amigos for the event because ‘amigo’ is the Spanish word for ‘friend.’ “I consider this an event where friends come together, old friends or new friends, to support a common cause in our community,” Rodriguez explained.

His choice to work with Air Camp this year was a natural partnership given Rodriguez’s background, the region, and the goal of the event – to support the community. “The JROTC program offers education in citizenship, self-respect, goal-setting, and prioritizing things throughout life. They will carry those lessons with them into whatever future they pursue.”

Air Camp provides the opportunity for these cadets to experience STEM-based aviation activities, including the science of flight. Based in Dayton, Ohio, Air Camp, Inc., was founded in 2006 by Dr. Vince Russo and Dick Reynolds, Lieutenant General (Retired) USAF.

Organizer and Primary Sponsor of Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing, Jose “Rafi” Rodriguez, Colonel, United States Air Force, (retired), president of Rodriguez Financial Strategies, LLC

Russo currently serves as the President and Chairman of the organization. “Early on, we decided to use aviation as the learning medium because the real language of aviation is math,” he said. “Our goal is to help the students understand the importance of STEM (science technology engineering math) and inspire them to pursue careers related to those fields.”

Each participant spends one week in a curriculum that puts STEM in the context of aviation and aeronautics. Students meet scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory and experience the National Museum of the United States Air Force as well as other aviation heritage sites.

Not all students who participate in Air Camp are bound for the military, but the experience is highly beneficial to those in a Junior Reserve Officer Training (JROTC) program. More information about Air Camp is available at aircampusa.org.

This year’s presenting sponsors are White Allen Chevrolet and White Allen Volkswagen in Dayton and the official public relations and media production sponsor for the event is GLD Communications, of Jamestown, Ohio. For more information, to become a sponsor or donate, go online to Rafi’s Amigos Golf Outing.

Learn more about the event, its founder, Air Camp, and our presenting sponsor!

700 Words

In Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, News Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on April 7, 2023 at 5:05 pm

Deer In Headlines II

By Gery L. Deer

A few weeks ago, I appeared on a local television program to promote this column. During the 3-minute interview, the host was surprised to learn that Deer In Headlines II is – and has always been – exactly 700 words in length.

Unfortunately, limited time prevented a deeper dive into such a precise word count. But the conversation made me realize, though you may be a regular reader, you may not know much about how all this works. So, here’s a look at how it all comes together.

First, riddle me this. What’s the difference between a writer and a pizza delivery person? The answer – a pizza delivery person can feed a family of four. Yes, I know, terrible joke, but not entirely inaccurate.

I’ve heard it said that writing for a living is like having homework every day for the rest of your life. That wasn’t far off either. Writers are romanticized in movies and TV. We’ve all seen images of the Hemmingway wannabes, huddled over an old IBM Selectric (go look it up), pecking out the next great American novel. It’s all so dramatic – and all such nonsense. I’m sure some see themselves that way, we scribes can be a self-absorbed lot for sure. But that is certainly not me.

I’m not a novelist, though I have a couple of manuscripts in a drawer somewhere. My work is focused on non-fiction, freelance journalism, copywriting, and public relations. Sometimes I do get to work in my fuzzy slippers, but most days I go to an office and sit at a desk. I also traded in my manual typewriter for a MacBook Pro – much easier to fit in a messenger bag.

I am the founder and creative director of a public relations and media production firm and, although I might own the place, I’m not my own boss. That’s a load of nonsense. I have a dozen bosses, and they all pay my salary – they’re called clients. When I’m asked, “Are you a professional writer,” the answer is a resounding yes, though it didn’t start that way.

In college, I was an engineering and computer science student but worked for my college newspaper as a staff writer, eventually earning the senior editor position. I even stayed on after graduation to handle the summer editions. My coursework always included English composition, communication, and classical author studies like Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence.

When I started the original Deer In Headlines, some 15 years ago, my inspiration came from the news. Today, that inspiration comes from people, their struggles, achievements, interests, convictions, and feelings. Most of the time it all starts with a tiny glimmer of an idea; that word, or phrase that just won’t leave me alone. As it becomes something more substantial, I write down what your grade-school English teacher might have called, “the main idea.” Oddly enough, that often becomes the headline.

Then I sit down with my laptop, or sometimes just paper and pencil (not a pen), and see where the idea takes us. I say “us” because you, my audience, are there with me – following the words as they paint a picture of my thoughts and feelings about a subject that I hope will give you food for thought, inspiration, hope, or whatever might help you at that moment.

I will never use an AI (artificial intelligence) writing program. Because, if my work is to have meaning, there must be a human mind and heart behind the keyboard. When you read this, what you get is all me, like it or not.

Before I close, I don’t want to leave you without answering the original question. Why 700 words? I wish I could give you some deep, philosophical, or even technical answer. Within the first year, the original DIH series just worked out and it became a clear goal each week. It also fits nicely in the print layout, and you can easily read it in just over 2 minutes, then get on with your life. But I hope you take away something useful out of these 700 words every week and please know that I thoroughly appreciate your time and attention.