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Good Night, and Good Luck. The final installment of “Deer In Headlines.”

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Home Improvement, Local News, News Media, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on May 2, 2018 at 12:32 pm

This edition of Deer In Headlines marks if you’ll pardon the dramatics, the end of an era, at least for me. The question I’ve been asked most often since announcing the end of the series is, “So what will you do now?”

Let me start by saying while an important part of my work over the last decade, this column is not all I’ve been doing, not by a longshot. I’ve run an ad agency, written thousands of published pieces on everything from public relations to marketing, and given lectures and workshops about the media and writing all around the region. I’ve covered a lot of ground and struggled with how best to say goodbye and then it occurred to me.

It has always been my goal to have readers to take something useful from my writings and I don’t want this final installment to be any different. Since it represents several hours a week in research and writing, in the hope of having a positive influence on the thoughts and lives of anyone I can reach, leaving this column behind is a big change for me.

For some people, change is the enemy, it throws them off their game and causes chaos and, for much of my life, it was the same for me. But in recent years, change has become more of a companion that walks through life with me, always nudging me in the side to never be complacent or stagnant either in my actions or my convictions.

We may not like it, but change is the natural order of things. Nothing stays the same for very long. As they say, “to everything there is a season,” and rather than fighting those changes, we should embrace them. It’s not easy, but it makes life more interesting and far less stressful.

It’s easy to see how change affects people in simple ways, like when a child graduates from high school or you move to a new town. We get caught up in happiness and sadness all at the same time, it twists our emotions and forces us to face new challenges and differences in our day-to-day lives. Of course, there are negative changes too, and we have to take the good with the bad. That’s just life.

We grow accustomed to how things are in our world and we’re thrown when it alters. We all know that person who has to have a cup of coffee at a certain time of day, with a specific amount of sugar, or just the right drop of cream. If those kinds of things aren’t met with an exacting order, he or she cannot function. The more flexible you are, the more enjoyable your life. Otherwise, you’re in a constant state of stress.

With that, I’ll take you back to the question of what I will be doing next. It is definitely a time of even more change for me. I’ve recently accepted a position as vice president of communications and public relations with a social internet company. That and caring for my father takes up most of my work time, but I have other projects as well.

I’m still doing television and writing for the print and online media from time to time. I’m concentrating my writing time on my fitness blog, The Old Nerd in The Gym (www.oldnerdinthegym.com). I’m hoping my work helps others who are new to fitness and more healthy living.

Life goes on and new challenges await. I’m just getting started. And that’s how you should feel today too. Treat every day as bringing new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve, regardless of how great or small the accomplishment and embrace that change! Your future isn’t written yet, so get out there and make it a good one!

With that, it’s time for Deer In Headlines to pass into the newspaper archives. Thank you for indulging me every week and, whether you agreed with me or not, I hope you got something useful or insightful from my ramblings. So, I’ll borrow a classic sign off from a news hero of mine, Edward R. Murrow, and simply say Good Night, and Good Luck.

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Can’t we all just get along?

In Health, history, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on May 1, 2018 at 12:14 pm

With only two issues of Deer In Headlines remaining, I felt that one of them should be dedicated to a discussion about civility and the destructive nature of hate. In short, we must try to get along better, regardless of political, religious, or socioeconomic differences.

Over the last few years, our country has become severely divided. There is a level of anger, hate, and mistrust out there now, the likes of which haven’t been seen since before the Civil War. Back then the division was primarily focused on slavery and states’ rights, but today Americans are arguing about a laundry list of issues from immigration to gun control.

Not that these topics haven’t caused discourse in the past, but now it’s fueled by an alarmingly, and continually advancing, level of anger and hatred. The radical right has become sickeningly intolerant to the point of disgust and the liberal left has grown increasingly less “liberal.” I mean you simply can’t say, “I’m liberal, and we love everyone, so long as they agree with everything we say.” Doesn’t work that way.

President Donald Trump took advantage of this divide and used it to gain traction in his run for the White House. Now, he waffles back and forth, blustering on Twitter about how great he is, while alienating even his own base at times with his ridiculous rants. Democrats turn their noses up at him and his cronies and their flagrant hypocrisy, all while crying in their soup about how he got this far in American government. Well, Dems, I’ll tell you who put him there, you did.

Political viewpoints have become so foggy that no one can tell who is for what anymore. The reason Trump won the presidential election wasn’t his winning personality, or Russian hacking, or anything else. It was because the Democratic base was so splintered and stubborn over Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that they couldn’t just get behind one of them and move on.

That’s right Dems, as I have written before, you handed the White House to Donald on a silver platter. Remember that primaries and midterms happen this year and any failure to weaken Trump’s hold in Congress is totally in your hands. All you have to do is get out and vote!

All of that said, we must be able to return to a level of productive, constructive discourse. We should be able to disagree and have informed, intelligent debate on a topic instead of a bickering match. What’s the point of discussion with no purpose except to out-scream everyone else?

Much of the problem comes from the extremist mentalities once relegated to the fringe but which now seem to be in the majority. There is nothing wrong with liberals and conservatives cooperating for a common good. We can disagree yet still work toward the betterment of our society – but that doesn’t seem to be possible right now.

We are dealing with mass shootings made possible by the bizarre need of a tiny few to own military-grade machine guns should be something we can all agree is nuts. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, our country is overwhelmed by people obsessed with these weapons and backed by a massively powerful gun lobby from the NRA. Clearly, money is more important to these people than our kids.

Execution of warped immigration policies based on ignorance and hate that mistreat productive members of society rather than helping them with a path to proper citizenship. We should be rewarding people for feeling our country is a safe home for their families, not punishing them. It’s all ridiculous.

The long and short of it is that we must find a way to get along better. If we don’t learn to dial back the extremism and let cooler, more diplomatic heads rule, our country is in big trouble. So, for what it’s worth, I think we’re capable of doing better.

But all of that requires that each of us learns to be more compassionate, more tolerant, and more thoughtful. Since I won’t be around to poke you in the side after next week, remember to be good to each other.

Rounding up a decade of Deer In Headlines

In Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Local News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, Technology, Uncategorized on April 16, 2018 at 8:12 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this week’s edition except to just come out with it. The week of April 30, 2018, will be the final print edition of Deer In Headlines. After 10 years, it’s time for me to focus on something new. I greatly appreciate the loyalty of my readers and the opposing views and letters of praise I’ve received over the years. If just one person each week looked at the world just a little differently and appreciated anything new, I’ve accomplished my goal.

I started this column to offer my readers a look at subjects from all sides, rarely giving a hint of my personal opinion, although it was evident when I chose for it to be.  But today clear, logical viewpoints no longer have value. People seem to listen only to blowhards, the ignorant, and people who would rather spew hate than kindness. That’s why I have decided to focus on more positive projects, out of the public eye.

This is not a decision I’ve come to lightly, in fact, I have waivered numerous times in my deliberations about it. Over the last decade, I’ve offered a look at politics, religion, education, science, family, and even given you a glimpse into my personal life as I cared for my parents.

We live in volatile times and some have argued that now is when we need a clearer, more rational voice in the media. They may be right, but mine is simply not loud enough to be heard above all the noise of anger, fear, and ignorance out there.

There is a lot of negativity out there and I have worked hard to bring you thoughtful content. I’ve always hoped you’d take away something from the effort, even if, especially if, you didn’t agree with me.

I’ve always said I like to surround myself with smart people who disagree with me because it means I am forced to examine my own convictions, and I hope I’ve done that for you from time to time. If you’ve enjoyed my work, thank you. I appreciate your time and loyalty. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure why you’re even reading this, but, thank you anyway.

For more than 500 editions and in some 360,000 words, I have shared my observations of the world around us. I’ve found that most people are good and decent and try to do their best to improve the world around them. I’ve also seen some ugly things in researching these pieces, information I kind of wish I had never learned. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but I’m afraid I don’t operate that way.

I will continue my work quietly, however, in the background, making a difference by other means. I serve on charitable boards of directors, care for my family, and work to affect change in more concrete ways.

The world is a mess and our country is too, but I can’t do anything about it in the rail column of a newspaper because the people who could make a difference simply don’t want to listen. Still, as ugly as it can seem at times, the world is also a beautiful place, one of a kind – a spinning ball of life making its way around the sun, year after year, as our galaxy moves through the vast emptiness of space.

It was here millions of years before us, and it’ll be here millions of years after we’ve gone. We are but renters and if I were the landlord, I wouldn’t give back the deposit. But that’s a discussion for another time.

As you can see, I’m not done with my opinions quite yet and there are two editions to go. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be summing up the last decade in a look back at a few of my predictions for politics, newsmakers, and various other areas I’ve touched on over the years. I hope you’ll join me in these last editions, and thank you again.

Plastic and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In Economy, Environment, Health, history, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Science on April 4, 2018 at 10:43 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Did you know that somewhere in the Pacific Ocean there is a gigantic patch of garbage that’s been growing for decades? According to a three-year study reported in Scientific Reports this month, it has grown to approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, 16 times larger than previous estimates. To put that in more familiar terms, it’s more than twice the size of the State of Texas.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Photo courtesy http://www.critfc.org/

Scientists used a variety of methods to measure the patch including aircraft outfitted with special sensors, crisscrossing more than 300 square kilometers of the ocean’s surface. Surveys estimate that half of the so-called, “Trash Isle” is made up of discarded, or “ghost,” fishing nets. About 20% of it is debris from the Japan tsunami of 2011, and the bulk of the trash is made up of large, plastic objects.

That’s a lot of garbage. For most people, it’s an incomprehensible scale and it’s just floating around out there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been on the radar of scientists and environmentalists since the 1970s.

Plastic is one of the lightest and most versatile manufacturing materials ever created. To say that it’s durable could be an understatement. But, while that can be an advantage when considering consumer products, it’s a detriment once the product is discarded.

For example, in the ocean, it can take more than two decades for a plastic shopping bag to decompose. Those disposable plastic water bottles everyone carries around are estimated to take 450 years to degrade, and the fishing line could be out there for more than six centuries. It could actually take a lot longer. The fact is, there is no way to know for certain. Click to watch the NBC News story.

What is certain, however, is that the world’s tenants need to do something to reduce the amount of plastic dumped into Earth’s oceans and slow the growth of these trash isles. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep getting bigger.

Managing the trash not only helps to protect the environment and marine life but the economy of regions affected by its presence. Fishing is more hazardous in these areas and tourism can be dramatically affected – who wants to go to a beach where this junk is regularly washing ashore? For some areas in the Pacific, tourism accounts for the bulk of their income.

While politicians, diplomats, and environmentalists debate toward no useful resolution, there are things that individuals can do to help reduce the problem. Plastic straws, grocery bags, and one-use water bottles are reportedly some of the items most frequently tossed in the garbage can.

Recycle plastic products whenever possible. Instead of dropping a water bottle in the trash, use recycling receptacles marked for plastic and other consumer packaging.

First, water bottles. Nothing’s worse than a flat of those thin, flimsy discount store water bottles. So, why use them? If every person in every gym in America chose a reusable water bottle instead of a throw-away, just one time, there would be thousands less plastic bottles in the landfills and tossed into the ocean.

Reusable water bottles are inexpensive, as little as $2.00, and can last for years. Hint – go with a metal bottle instead of plastic but avoid ceramic-lined thermal bottles for daily hydration. They’re heavy and break easily if dropped.

Next, when a store offers the option between paper and plastic shopping bags, choose paper. If plastic is preferred, keep them and reuse them as many times as possible. Try to avoid using them as trash bags, however, because they can slow the decomposition of their contents.

A better option is reusable cloth or nylon shopping bags. It might take some planning to get into the habit of reusing them, but they are much stronger than their plastic counterparts and they’re washable.

Lastly, drinking straws. Strange as it may sound, some cities in America are banning the use of plastic straws; Malibu, Seattle, Fort Myers, and Miami Beach, to name a few. Paper straws are inexpensive and decompose easily. One downside, most don’t bend, so if that’s a required feature, reusable silicone straws might be a better option.

None of these will totally solve the plastic waste problem. But it can certainly make a difference if everyone does his or her part.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Remote work builds community, grows revenue

In Business, Economy, Education, finances, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on February 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

As an entrepreneur, I have founded and grown three businesses over the last two decades. Each of them was started from my home office and eventually moved to another building, but still on my home properly.

When I first became an independent professional and started my own company, there was a stigma attached to “working from home.” For some reason, what we now refer to as remote workers were seen as less professional than our cubicle-bound counterparts.

Today, remote work, whether it’s from home or your favorite café, is becoming more common and better accepted by the business world. Remote workers are found in a variety of industries from journalism and finance to business coaching to insurance.

For all of that, however, there are essentially just two categories of remote worker. The first type, we used to call “telecommuters,” or people who are employed by a company which allows them to work from home or other off-site location.

According to a recent Gallup survey, 43 percent of all American employees work remotely at least some of the time. The survey found that workers who spent up to 80 percent of time outside the office had the highest rates of engagement. They were more productive and reported greater job satisfaction.

The remote work support informational website, Remote.com, noted also that remote workers exhibit lower stress and better morale. It also noted a lower rate of absenteeism.

The second type of remote worker is the independent professional, or what most people would commonly refer to as a freelancer. Many freelancers, like myself and other writers or consultants, are almost totally nomadic, needing only a computer and a Wi-Fi connection to be productive.

In the past, most “freelancers” were expected to be writers, photographers, artists, and the like. But today, independent, remote workers come from a variety of market sectors. Coding, for example, is more commonly a remote job. Coders develop websites, create apps, and work in areas like cybersecurity.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of remote work, either to a corporate employer or a freelancer, is significantly reduced overhead. For a freelancer, setting up an office could be impractical, operationally and financially. Large companies with off-site staff can save millions of dollars a year in real estate, utilities, and other overhead costs.

Another benefit to working outside the corporate maze is potential interaction with a larger business community and the collaboration that can result from those connections. Many independents and corporate remotes are getting together at co-working meetup events, giving them the opportunity to network and collaborate.

As much social as it is professional, the experience allows those workers who might spend a great deal of the time working alone to build a community. Plus, there are also opportunities for a more formalized co-working environment.

Co-share workspaces have cropped up around the country offering remote workers a member-based workspace and the chance to exchange ideas and projects with others. These spaces charge memberships that come with various amenities that could be as little as a desk space or multi-employee workspaces, with many different types of independent professional under one roof.

If you’re a business owner with jobs to fill that don’t necessarily require the employee to be on-site all the time, consider hiring a remote worker. Remote and independent professionals are the ideal self-starter, typically efficient time managers, and are less likely to contribute to high turnover.

You won’t be sorry, and it’s the future of work. Embracing it now and developing policies and procedures will put your business light-years ahead of everyone else. Flexibility can greatly encourage productivity and increase profits.

For remote professionals looking for a co-working community, just visit Meetup.com and search on “Dayton co-working.” Most of the activities are free of charge, except for whatever refreshments you might purchase on your own. Or visit deerinheadlines.com for some links to local co-working activities scheduled throughout the area.

 

REMOTE WORK RESOURCES:

Co-Working Meetup / Yellow Springs: https://www.meetup.com/Creative-Pros-Collaborative/

Job Postings: https://weworkremotely.com/

Working Remotely (Twitter): https://twitter.com/workingrem

Resources for Full-Time Freelancers: https://www.themuse.com/advice/every-resource-a-fulltime-freelancer-could-ever-need-plus-some

Business Consulting / Coaching for Remote Workers & Freelancers: http://www.gldenterprises.net

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

Living Longer vs. Living Better

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Science, Senior Lifestyle, State News, Technology, Uncategorized on December 26, 2017 at 8:07 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Modern medicine is an incredible thing, with breakthroughs almost daily that range from simple treatments for common ailments to advanced organ transplants. Through those great medical innovations, the lifespan of the average person is now well into the 80s, with better living through chemistry, or so they want us to believe.

But while we treat one area of illness another continues to progress making it seem like we’re falling apart in little pieces. Where we once just dropped dead from something simple like a heart attack, now it seems we deteriorate bit by bit, with each component of our bodies being held together by a separate roll of medical duct tape.

Think of it this way. We take a pill for blood thinning so we don’t have a clot and get a stroke or heart attack. We take a pill for diabetes to keep our glucose levels down. But at the same time, our mind is intact, with virtually no deterioration. Or maybe it’s the opposite, Alzheimer’s shreds the mind while the body is still healthy. Eventually, the body follows in decay since the Alzheimer’s begins to affect how the nervous system functions.

Thanks to modern science, we’re living longer than ever, but I wouldn’t call it healthier or with much of a quality of life. There’s something to be said for just having the lights go out all at once. One of the most horrific things I have had to endure is watching my mother’s mind go as her body still functioned reasonably well. Or what might be worse, having an active, clear mind trapped in a degenerating body that refuses to follow the brain’s instructions any longer.

At what point are we living too long for our own good and quality of life? Can medical science develop a plan to help the entire body and mind maintain the same or reasonably similar level of health for as long as possible? I don’t think that’s really possible.

So, here we are, a pill for this and a potion for that, all in the name of better living through chemistry. Granted, much of what’s wrong with us is their our doing – smoking, drinking, sugar, fat, it goes on and on. Personal responsibility as one ages should at least be taken into account here. We are what we eat, and boy, it’s a mess.

Formaldehyde and chemicals in our water, the carcinogenic material in our meat, pesticides in our vegetables, super-sized everything at the fast food counter, vaping (yeah, like that’s not smoking, whatever). It’s all killing us. But don’t worry, there’s a pill to counteract the effects of all that, so don’t worry about it.

Isn’t it idiotic, though, how much of what happens to us as we age is our own fault? We’re getting older, but we’re sicker when we live longer. When we won’t take care of ourselves even in the short term, someone else has to pay for that later on.

Last year, for example, obesity-related illness cost Americans nearly $200 billion and treating sickness related to smoking cost more than $300 billion. But wait, there’s more! Excessive use of alcohol costs Americans $249 billion.

Fighting obesity is sadly not as simple as trading a cheeseburger for a celery stick. It takes a full and complete lifestyle overhaul that may require generations to affect a family line. But you can totally prevent alcohol and tobacco illness by never lighting up or popping open that cold one.

Addiction may be a disease, but even that is 100-percent preventable because that first drink or smoke is a choice. A penny toward prevention is worth billions toward a cure.

Well, some of this we have control over, some we don’t. It’s so hard to imagine how people can just not care about their own well-being and how that affects those around them. As we age, we need more help from others. Wouldn’t it be great if that burden were just a little easier on our loved ones?

Yes, we’re living longer. But, despite what the big pharmaceutical company advertisements tell you, the quality of that long life is not measured in milligram doses.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

The needs of the many

In Charities, Education, history, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Uncategorized on December 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

There is a quote from the Star Trek science fiction franchise that has been repeated often throughout the various television series and movies, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” The phrase was first spoken by Leonard Nimoy’s character of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as he tries to reassure his Admiral Kirk about a command decision.

It might be a fictional source, but the sentiment carries a great deal of merit, especially in today’s self-gratification-focused society. The concept is based on a logical determination wherein decisions are made to favor the needs over those of a large population of just a few individuals or even a single person.

Much of the time decisions are made from a very personal, emotional point of view. And there are people out there who simply live in their own little reality, completely oblivious to how their own behavior affects others, so logical thinking just isn’t within their comprehension. But there are three areas where people can make a difference in affecting the lives of far more than themselves and the few who might immediately benefit from a single decision.

First, the needs of the many should be the primary concern of government officials – always. At the state and federal levels, members of legislature seem far less concerned with helping their whole citizen constituency but rather filling their own coffers and lining the pockets of their big donors.

The local level seems to be more about ego, people who want to have their name on everything and be the big fish in the small pond. If those who are sent to represent “the people” would actually do that for a change, the country would be in a far better state.

In business, the idea is to make a buck and show a profit, and those aren’t bad things because they mean jobs and a growing economy. But when business benefits from bad practice, like unregulated pollution or any other activity that could cause harm either physically or economically to an outside population.

Commerce can be community-minded and still make money, the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. Everyone will benefit when a business focuses on the needs of the many, instead of the needs of the stockholder or management chasing the next bonus, whatever the cost.

Individually, each person can make a difference by just taking a moment to consider the consequences of every decision. When people consider the larger picture and understand how their choices affect those around them, the outcome can be far more appealing to everyone affected.

The first thing that comes to mind is intoxicated or distracted driving. Waiting to send that next text or check Twitter, calling a cab or Uber after a particularly “loaded” holiday bash could literally save lives.

What hasn’t been revealed here is that, at some point, the needs of the few, or the one, outweigh the needs of the many. Not because of logic, but because we are human, and we make illogical, emotional decisions and sometimes that’s a good thing.

As a family caregiver for a special needs child or an elderly parent, for example, you might need to adjust your day-to-day activity to accommodate your charge. One person, who requires that the world adjusts to them sometimes. And no one is perfect. But, most people will put the needs of that individual first, weighing how everyday decisions affect everyone involved.

Sadly, it is impossible to change some people and altering the “me” mindset of a culture could very well take generations. Plus, there will always be power-hungry politicians, self-absorbed celebrities, and that one neighbor who continually throws her dog droppings over the fence into the next yard.

In the end, the problem is all about people; illogical, unpredictable, impulsive, self-driven people. It would be great, though, if we, as a society, could start thinking in a more logical manner, something incredibly unlikely given the current state of entitlement and gluttony that has overrun America. Maybe with a little effort on the part of each individual, everyone might eventually, Live Long, and Prosper. See what I did there?

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gldenterprises.net.

Grandma doesn’t know me anymore.

In Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 25, 2017 at 2:29 pm

When a family member has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it’s difficult enough for adults to understand, let alone a child. For a youngster, it can be confusing and scary.

Based on a true account, here’s a story about little Anna who was sad because her grandma doesn’t remember her anymore and how her mother helped her understand. Hopefully, it can help someone you care about as well.

“Anna, it’s time to go see Grandma.” “I don’t want to go,” the little girl answered. She sat in her bedroom with her head in her hands as her eyes welled. “Grandma doesn’t know me anymore. Why doesn’t she like me?”

Anna’s mother sat down on the bed next to the seemingly inconsolable 6-year-old. “It’s not her fault sweetie,” her mother said. “She got sick and has trouble remembering things now.”

“But why me,” the girl sobbed, looking up at her mother, tears pouring down her reddened cheeks. Her mother put an arm around the child, fighting back her own tears. After all, it was her own mother who had the illness. “She doesn’t know me anymore either baby,” she told the girl, brushing the curly brown locks away from her face.

“It’s not fair,” the girl squeaked through her tears. “Why did she have to get sick? Grandpa’s not sick. He remembers me.” “I don’t know why,” said her mother. “I think it’s just how different things happen to different people when we get older.”

Anna looked up, quizzically, wiping tears from her face with her sleeve. “What kinds of things?” “Well, do you remember how your Uncle Jack had trouble hearing you last year until he got his hearing aids?”

“Yes. But now he hears everything. He’s always shushing us.” Her mother chuckled through her tears. “Yes, well, it’s kind of like that. When we get older, some parts of our bodies don’t work as well as they once did. For Uncle Jack, it was his hearing, but for Grandma, it’s her mind. Over time, her thoughts and memories got all scrambled up.”

“Let me try to explain it another way.” Anna’s mother picked up a completed jigsaw puzzle from the night table that the girl had been playing with at bedtime. She held the finished puzzle so the girl could see the picture, a family portrait, with Grandma and Grandpa right up front.

“Last night we took all the pieces of this puzzle and put them in just the right spot to make the picture. Well, the puzzle pieces are like the memories stored your mind.” Suddenly she dumped the puzzle on the bed, and the picture dissolved into a pile of jumbled pieces.

“Just like the puzzle, all the pieces have to fit together just right, or the picture doesn’t make any sense. The thoughts and memories that help Grandma remember people and things are all jumbled up, so to her, the world looks very different now.”

The little girl stared at the mixed-up puzzle quietly. For a long moment, she said nothing. “Can we get her a hearing aid to help put the pieces back,” she asked, hope in her blue eyes.

Her mother held back a laugh while simultaneously wanting to burst into tears. “No sweetie, there’s no way to fix Grandma. All we can do is take care of her and try to help her be happy and comfortable.”

Once again, the girl was silent, then she said, taking her mother’s hand, “I’m sorry your mommy is sick. If you got sick, I’d try to help put your puzzle back together.”

Tears gushed from her mother’s eyes as she saw the compassion in her little girl’s face. “Thank you, honey,” she said, trying to wipe the tears, “I know you would.” She smiled and stood, clasping her daughter’s hand. “Ready to go see Grandma now?”

“Yes,” the little girl said. She looked at the bed where the jigsaw pieces had landed. “Can we take the puzzle picture? Maybe if I do it with her, it will help Grandma remember us.” “Yes, honey. That’s a great idea.”

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. Information at gerydeer.com

In Entertainment, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology on November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks was just honored with the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement award. During the presentation event, he commented on the current state of American politics.

“People are upset about what’s going on today. They’re furious, they’re frustrated, they’re worked up,” Hanks said. “If you’re concerned about what’s going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it’s all right there,” Hanks spoke with hope for our country’s future and noted that what is needed today is dialogue, not destruction.

It’s unlikely anyone to the right will ever listen to a “Hollywood” type, but what Hanks said is absolutely accurate. The solutions to today’s problems may very well be found in the conflicts of the past. Often, history simply repeats itself in a different time and location. Every situation that has every arisen throughout human history has one common denominator – people.

Most social, religious and political conflicts in America are caused by a lack of knowledge, an ignorance that is either innate or self-imposed. Without an understanding of the person standing next to you, his trials and tribulations, his background and motivation, it is impossible to identify with him and that leads to conflict.

Taking the time to compare today’s issues with similar situations in the past might help better manage current conflicts and find possible solutions because we know how they were finally resolved. Obviously, we should be investigating any negative outcomes, like war or civil unrest, to see how they can be avoided.

How many times do people say, “Wow, if I’d only known then what I know now?” An insight apparently lacking in President Donald Trump’s character. If he would look backward he’d learn that there were several other presidents that faced the same kinds of situations and resistance. Herbert Hoover, for example, was, like Trump, a terrible communicator.

A closeup of the word HISTORY engraved on a war memorial.

President on the eve of the Great Depression, Hoover was seen by many as mean and uncaring as the economy collapsed because of his rigid adherence to conservative principals. While he made efforts to lower taxes and create public works projects that would help with jobs, he refused any sort of outright relief programs.

As a result, the economy sank even deeper into depression and the shanty towns where people were forced to live after losing everything were nicknamed Hoovervilles, in his “honor.” Hoover is largely regarded, though often not by his conservative disciples, as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. And Trump is on the road to the same end if he doesn’t learn from the past. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone who leans to the right these days is interested in facts unless they directly refute a democrat.

Trying to enact policy just because it defies the opposition seems to be how politics on both sides of the aisle runs today. At this point, no one at the legislative level cares about those of us down here in the real world, this kind of historical ignorance is simply ego and one-upsmanship.

You hear it every day in the news media. Some politician on the left will say something and everyone on the right refutes it, just because it came from the other side.

Imagine this exchange one sunny afternoon on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “The sky is blue,” declares a Republican senator one day, stating a fact – something kind of new to him. While across the aisle, his Democrat opponent pops up from her seat and defiantly exclaims, “That’s a lie! It’s green!”

And it continues indefinitely, back and forth, with charts, graphs, testimony from non-blue-sky believers, and on and on. But neither will ever back down because to do so is weak, and the ego must remain intact, regardless of how idiotic they sound. Just resisting any other ideas but your party line is not only ignorant but potentially destructive.

The point is that we could solve a great many problems in modern politics if we just consider how history shows we dealt with some of the same kinds of people and issues. As poet and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

Coping with the Big “C”

In Economy, Health, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on November 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

According to the statistics, more than 14 million people are living with cancer today in the United States. Something like 39 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call “cancer,” on the whole, an epidemic.

Every day we’re flooded with “awareness” messages and celebrity pleas for donations to this cancer group or the other. But will there ever be a cure? And how do victims, and families, cope with the stress that comes with the realization of a cancer diagnosis?

First, let’s discuss the possibilities of a cure. For any organization to state, emphatically, that they’re working on a cure for “cancer” is a bit misleading. Cancer comes in many forms. Every research group must focus its attention on one specific type to formulate treatment and potential cures. And research is expensive.

There are countless organizations dedicated to raising funds for research but, unfortunately, that’s probably all it will be. Without sounding like the dark heart in the room, cancer is a huge cash cow to research labs and big pharma. There’s far more money in treating the disease than there ever would be a cure. It might sound cynical, but it would be naive to think there wasn’t some of that kind of thinking at play here.

But what of those who are already affected, how are patients coping with it? Each stage of the journey through cancer care brings about its own set of emotional responses. Granted, a great deal of the initial response depends on how serious the cancer is – not that there is a kind that isn’t. A good prognosis will make the impact a bit less difficult to handle.

Most patients are angry at first, experiencing a level of, “why me?” There’s some denial, more anger, and finally acceptance in some fashion. Dealing with that emotional roller coaster can be incredibly difficult for people, not just the patient but family and friends as well.

What we are told to do by the experts is to look for ways to cope with it in our own way. They first suggest you try to learn as much as you can about the diagnosis, what type of cancer it is and how it is treated. But be aware – it might seem frightening because the information is often provided out of context for the individual situation.

It’s also suggested that you express your feelings about it. Too many times we try to put on a brave face for family or friends and never really let it all out. It’s not only healthy, emotionally, to exercise those feelings, it can help the healing process.

Taking care of yourself through proper diet, exercise, maintaining your regular routines as much as possible can also help. As human beings, we need normality to function. Try to keep as much of it in your day-to-day life as possible as you move through your treatment.

Participating in support groups and talking with others who have shared your experience can be beneficial as well. There’s nothing more frightening than the unknown. When someone shares their experience with you, and knowledge can help ease fear.

We’re also directed to do our best to focus on what we can control in the situation, rather than worrying about what we can’t. Worrying only wastes energy and creates its own stress.

I recently met a woman who, during her treatment for breast cancer, a professional artist who painted stones from the hospital parking lot. Each stone represented how she felt after each treatment, all 33 of them. She made a full recovery but insists the practice helped her focus and have something within her control that also allowed her to deal with her feelings.

No one can say how they’d react to a cancer diagnosis. But, knowing you’re not alone can really help. If you or someone you know is dealing with cancer, no matter what the prognosis, be as positive as you can, and don’t miss out on a minute of life in the process.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is syndicated by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at GeryDeer.com.