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A Half-Century and Counting

In Education, Entertainment, Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on September 28, 2017 at 10:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

At the end of September this year, I will celebrate my 50th birthday. It’s funny how you don’t notice the years flying by until there’s a milestone like this to make you stop and reflect on them. No, turning a half-century old is nothing new, until it happens to you. Then, it’s a big deal.

On my last birthday, I decided to figure out a way to commemorate the passage of the year leading to my 50th. Now, only days away, and I wonder what I’ve accomplished this year which begs the question, what do we do with our time? How does it slip away so easily, so unnoticed in the lightning pace of our modern lives?

Even the simplest moments, often the most important, go right past us without so much as a footnote in the mental journal of our day. I wanted to make sure I remembered at least some of this past year so I made it a point to do something new every day that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I didn’t exactly manage something every single day, but I did make some major changes in my life that have had much more of an effect than I ever anticipated.

In order to accomplish anything in our lives, we have to set a reasonable and measurable goal. I know, that sounds like something off some high school career lecture, but it’s valid. I’ve never cared much for the word “goal,” but we do need to have something to aim for or we can’t work toward it.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I wanted to remember the last year in as many ways as I could. One of my goals was to improve my health and that meant a great alteration of my day-to-day lifestyle, which had actually begun a few years ago when I stepped back from things like soda and junk food.

From there, I started an exercise program that culminated in my becoming an endurance cyclist, accomplishing both a 100-kilometer and 100-mile bike ride, respectively, over the summer. In preparing for these events, I improved my stamina, respiratory function, muscle tone and overall health – and I’m still going. From couch potato to athlete in just a few months, and there was nothing easy about it.

At this point in life, if you’re paying attention at all, you probably have a better grasp on just how much drama you will put up with as well. I know I have. I can’t even describe how many people I know close to my age who have yet to shake out all the dead wood from their lives.

I’m referring to those negative people that always seem to have disaster following them, primarily of their own making, and want you to solve their problems for them. You can’t. Nothing you do will change who they are and how they drive their own lives – walk away.

When people straight out of college demand salaries and respect akin to those twice their elder and greater experienced it’s a sad state. At the same time, I’ve met a great many older people for whom I have little respect, for one reason or another.

Contrary to what younger folks might say, at 50, we’re not quite doddering, forgetful seniors, ready for the walker and rocking chair, although that’s what most Millennials probably think. In my case, I’m in the best physical condition of my life, I have a better understanding of who I am than ever before and those around me are benefiting from my achievements.

To me, what matters most is how my life to date has prepared me for all that comes next 50. There’s still a lot to do and I have no intention of sitting by and letting the world fly by, not that I ever did that before.

People say I’m over the hill, maybe they’re right. But, Charles Schultz, the creator of, “Peanuts,” once said, “Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” Couldn’t agree more! I have more to do in the next half-century.

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

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Media doesn’t control anyone

In Economy, Education, finances, Media, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you do a Google search for, “how the media controls what we think,”you’ll find dozens of articles, videos and feature stories on the subject. Each claims that news programs, TV commercials and even movies are so powerful they can actually control your mind.

To say that I find fault in these kinds of reports would be an understatement, but what exactly are they talking about? Let’s briefly examine these as separate concepts. First, there’s the advertiser. How is it that advertisers create commercials that convince people to buy things they didn’t even want in the first place?

Well there are countless components to creating an effective advertisement, but the primary way to get customers to buy is through media saturation. This is where you see and hear an ad for a product or service over and over again, on every medium – radio, TV, online, everywhere. Eventually, the message is so engrained into your mind you can’t help but remember it.

If you’re a commercial radio and television consumer, the best example of this kind of advertising is from auto dealers. Car dealerships flood the media with the same, nauseating advertisements, chock full of shouting announcers or gimmicky slogans.

Actually, when advertisers saturate the airwaves like this, the ads don’t event have to be particularly good, just slightly memorable with the name and product repeated over and over again. It’s the frequency that causes you to remember them.

There is no question that the media gets in our heads. Today we are so connected by the Internet and on every manner of device that some people struggle to be away from the constant flow of information even for a brief period of time. All of this has led to the idea of what is sometimes called “media mind control.”

You're probably far more likely to be "brainwashed" by a company like Apple that convinces you how "cool" something is and play on your own vanity. You're still making the choice.

You’re probably far more likely to be “brainwashed” by a company like Apple that convinces you how “cool” something is and plays on your own vanity. You’re still making the choice.

But, in my opinion, as a working part of the media in question, all of this is nonsense… sort of. If you really believe an ad can “make” you buy something or that the news can force you to vote for a particular candidate for office, then that’s pretty sad. Where is your own free will? Why follow the lemmings?

Media can “influence” the decision making process by presenting information tooled towards a certain message or ideology. But the decision to buy into any of that is all on you. The people writing the mind control articles I mentioned earlier have forgotten one, basic idea – we all have a freedom of choice and will.

Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, people choose what they’re going to believe. Advertisers and politicians are hoping you don’t exercise that free thought component of your brain and just follow blindly where their media leads.

Yes, they will play your heartstrings like a cheap fiddle and go at your sense of need and desire until you feel like you can’t live without … whatever they’re selling. But if you are so brain dead that you actually fall for their nonsense, then that’s your fault, not theirs.

We must stop blaming the media for everything and take some personal responsibility for our own bad judgment. News outlets reporting on a shooting did not cause the next mass murder, the guy on the trigger chose his actions. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t “manipulate” anyone into following them, the choice was made by each individual. Period. Any other conclusion is a bit delusional and conspiracy-minded.

Again, influence is the key word here. You can be influenced easily enough, but full on “manipulation” by the media, or anything else, is based on a level of control that we, as individuals, have to give up in order to be affected by it. If you choose to hand over your independent thought and free will then the problem rests with you, not the media you consume.

This, no doubt, will be an unpopular statement considering the “my bad behavior is someone else’s fault” society we live in today. But it’s true, nonetheless. Without threat of harm or other level of duress from an outside source, the only person who can make you do anything – is you.

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

Fitting in at Hamvention.

In Education, Local News, Opinion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on May 24, 2016 at 8:30 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOWe all have it; that one single thing about ourselves that makes us either feel different or seem weird to other people. Different and weird are relative terms, of course, depending on the perception of those around us.

For example, someone walking around a cattle ranch in Birkenstocks and shorts might seem incredibly out of place. Is it weird to be wearing this kind of apparel or just so because of the location? It really depends on the observer.

Case in point. This past weekend I attended my very first “Hamvention;” the massive amateur radio convention held in Dayton, Ohio each spring. Hamvention, which is a registered trademark by the way, has for many years been the world’s largest amateur radio event dating back to 1952.

It’s organized and sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) and draws thousands each year to attend workshops, learn about new technologies and shop the hundreds of vendors selling everything from antennas to software. I was raised around the CB radio, but never really exposed to the culture surrounding “ham” users. Incidentally, the term “ham” is a derivative of the colloquial name for an amateur radio operator.

Unlike citizen band (CB) radio, amateur radio requires an FCC license and operates on a different set of frequencies and power guidelines. Each operator is assigned an alphanumeric call sign that become a kind of personal nickname in the ham circle.

13244704_10153908418374342_9000172653944694244_nI admit some trepidation about attending, even though the adventure was my idea. My hesitation was mostly due to the shadowy reputation ham operators have for being made up mostly of the off-your-rocker survivalist, who walks around with a bag full of canned beans, a shotgun, and a ham radio and 15 foot antenna sticking out of his backpack. With no first-hand experience, it all seemed a bit bizarre.

Now, before I go much further, I need to point out here that I am no stranger to the bizarre. I’ve spent a good portion of my free time at science fiction conventions. You know, full on “Star Trek” events complete with green people and otherwise normal folks walking around speaking Klingon to each other.

Instead of me thinking the convention goers were odd, I’m the one who actually felt weird and strangely out of place. What I experienced, standing there amidst thousands of people from very different walks of life, was a fascinating collection of people, all of whom had one thing in common – their interest in amateur radio.

13263851_10153908418309342_1241895779973128889_n

Geiger counters and radiation detection of all kinds … at Hamvention 2016 – Photo GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.

Yes there were some, what I would normally describe as, oddballs, as well as stereotypical survivalist types. In fact, one vendor sold nothing but Geiger counters. I couldn’t have imagined where a table full of Geiger counters would look at home, carefully packed together like someone had spray painted yellow all the pieces of a life-sized Tetris game.

Still, I’m the one who didn’t look like he belonged there. But it was fascinating how people were sharing their knowledge and experiencing the trade and technology of ham radio as if it was a big group of friends who’d never met and only got together on this one occasion.

People tend to congregate with those of common interest. Conventions like this are representative of virtually all aspect of our sociological makeup as human beings. From churchgoers and athletes to writers and amateur radio enthusiasts, an interest or devotion to a culture or activity brings people together in a consistently predictable way that nothing else can.

We should all have that one thing that makes us feel odd or weird, so long as we remember we’re not alone. When we come together with others of similar interests, great things can happen. We learn, grow, and build friendships that might otherwise never have come about.

In the end, I was indoctrinated into this eclectic family. On his birthday, Jim bought himself a couple of hand-held radios but got one for me as well. I guess it’s time for me to go take the test and get my license. I’m just relieved you’re no longer required to learn Morse code. Oh, Happy Birthday, Jim and thanks.

 

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

Detach and de-stress from politics

In Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on May 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA July 2014 article in The Washington Post included a headline that read, “Politicians are the No. 1 cause of stress in our lives.” The article focused on a stress survey in which, “Americans cited, ‘Hearing about what the government or politicians are doing,’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.”

That was nearly two years ago and reactions to day-to-day politics were driving the survey. At that time the dizzying level of ridiculousness surrounding the 2016 presidential bid had yet to shift into high gear. Now, with just a few weeks until the first convention, the stakes have never been higher, and neither has our collective blood pressure.

In the time between now and the conventions, it’s unlikely anything of consequence will occur. There will be blustering and feather ruffling from candidates, but, in the end, the convention is the next decisive event. It’s time to back away for a while.

If the presidential race has driven a wedge between you and those close to you, it may be time let it go. It’s not important. The truth is, very little that takes place on the presidential campaign level will affect those of us down here in the real world.

And it certainly is not worth the loss of close friendships. So how do you disconnect? Well, here are a few short tips.

First, step away from social media – immediately! As if the cable news blather wasn’t enough, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of social media is inundated with opinion, and certainly not necessarily what you would call, “informed” opinion.

maxresdefaultMost people, for whatever reason, have a difficult time recognizing fact from rhetoric. How many times have you been taken in on Facebook or Twitter by some fake news story? Generally those kinds of things are harmless. But when conflict and gossip are presented as factually based information, things get murky and you have to know the difference.

Along with the computer, switch off the TV as well. Face it you’re never going to get an “objective” view of any candidate, party or issue from corporate news agencies. Every organization introduces the spin they want you to hear. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest, have their own political agendas and when they want you to think, they’ll tell you how.

Consider also, how you feel when you encounter political news. Take close note of your emotions when you’re reading, watching or listening to political material. Does your heart rate jump? Do you feel angry or enraged? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what they want; “they” being the media manipulators.

But, you don’t have to fall for it. You can choose what information to which you are exposed and how it affects you. If you just let them get to you, that’s your own fault.

Probably the best way to keep from being overwhelmed by the election hype is to be informed. Do your own research on the candidates and issues and get the information as first-hand as possible. The more facts you know, the less likely you are to get sucked into the garbage.

Politics can sometimes be a fun diversion, though for whom I haven’t a clue. But when things are as charged up as they are this time around, most of what results is stress, angry feelings and regretful behavior.

Remember that politicians at that level – including Hillary, Bernie, and Donald – have no stake in your life. They could care less about anything save their own quest for power, ego and personal benefit. And they’ll say anything to get the votes they want. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise is a bit naive.

So as the election creeps up on us, be prepared to go vote your conscience when the time comes. Until then, shut it all down, tune it all out, and relax!

For further study and resource …

6 Ways To Cope With Political Stress by Dr. David Lowenstein

http://drlowenstein.com/2016/03/10/6-ways-to-cope-with-political-stress/

5 Ways To Avoid Stress and Stay Healthy In Political Campaigns by PoliticalCampaigningTips.com

http://www.politicalcampaigningtips.com/5-ways-to-avoid-stress-stay-healthy-in-political-campaigns/

 

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

 

 

Confronting your greatest fear

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on April 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In the aftermath of the 1974 Xenia tornado, people in surrounding communities did what they could to help with the cleanup. Although my father was a teacher at the vocational school at the time, he also had heavy trucks so we went to help as well.

Everywhere you looked was devastation. Stunned families cried or stared blankly as broken water mains sprayed the splintered remains of unrecognizable homes. It was horrific. Even as a first-grader, what I saw that first day among the shattered remains of Xenia was inexorably seared into my memory and cultivated a fear of storms that’s hard for me to, even now, put into words.

During my first couple of years of college, I was fortunate enough to live at home and commute. One after class I went home and settled in to watch a movie and scarf down some drive thru before hitting the books. It was a dark, rainy day and the sky had that “look” about it.

Ever since that day in 1974, I’ve been keenly aware of unstable weather, as if I had some kind of built in, biological barometer in my head and this was one of those days when that sense was at its peak.

As I plowed through my burger and onion rings in front of the TV, the power flickered several times, but I did my best to ignore it. I was home alone, and as the wind and rain picked up, the trees in the valley surrounding our small farm it sounded like wild animals roaring in the distance.

At one point, I ventured out the back door and stood behind the house, watching the clouds off to the southwest. The wind became still. The rain stopped. It was dead quiet. I walked to the other side of the house for a better view on the far side of our barn. And there it was. About a hundred yards away, spinning down from the sky to the pasture in front of me – a tornado. It was small, gray, kicking up debris and dancing its way across the field in front of me as if with some kind of purpose in mind.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3. This is probably the most famous photo taken of the giant twister from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

I was frozen; not with fear, but with fascination. There it was, right in front of me, the thing I feared most; no, more than that. It was the only thing I’d ever been afraid of. Any normal person would have bolted to the nearest cellar. But I didn’t. I stood there, motionless.

A moment later, the funnel met the ancient wooden sideboards of one of my dad’s old farm trucks and they exploded into splinters with a sound like the cracking of a dozen brittle bones. I still didn’t move. I wasn’t afraid at all.

It seemed like it took an eternity for it to cross the 10-acre spread of pasture field, but it was probably more like 30 seconds. It bounced across the road a quarter mile away, circumvented one neighbor’s home completely but then crashed into an adjacent barn, destroying it in the blink of an eye and scattered bits of wood, sheet metal and hay for miles. I stood there, still motionless, taking it all in.

And as quickly as it came, it was gone. After it wrecked the barn across the road, it dissolved into nothing. A moment later, I realized I was being soaked by rain but still staring off across the field. It left a path of small debris along the way and mashed down the high grass as if some kids had tromped a trail through the field. But it was over. And any fear I once felt of these storms was gone.

As I got older, I studied everything I could about tornadoes, even going on a few local storm chases back in school. Over the years, I faced with two more of the swirling monsters but no longer fear any kind of storm. Today I am respectful of their power and unpredictability and still have a sixth sense when things aren’t right in the wind. The best thing any of us can do during Ohio’s tornado seasons is to be alert and prepared.

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 in the family museum

In Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAlthough there is a lot of talk about millennials returning home to live with parents, the majority of Americans still move away from their family home. As a teenager, most people long for independence to explore different worlds, expand careers and so on while at the same time freeing themselves from the obligations and responsibility associated with living close to parents and immediate family.

But that wasn’t me. Yes, I had the same desire to see and experience the world, but I seemed to need a grounding to make it work properly for me. I did move away from my hometown for brief periods during college, a few years for work and the like. But for the majority of my life, I’ve remained within just a few miles of my family farm, where my father still lives.

12674271_10153643748619342_101686889_nFor the last two decades, my family music group has called our family farm “home” and that’s where we practice and produce our shows. But it wasn’t until I began helping to care for my mother in 2009 that I ended up having to spend far more time in the home where I grew up than one might think is usual – or psychologically healthy.

My mother passed in 2011 but, a few years later, I had to repeat that effort as my dad’s health made it necessary for us to assist him as well. Fortunately, not to the degree Mom needed help, but once again the situation required me to be at his house several days each week.

My family home is pretty much as it always was with minor changes here and there. But to me it seems simultaneously totally familiar and completely foreign. My job makes it easy for me to work remotely, but there’s a constantly present, underlying distraction.

I’m not entirely sure it’s psychologically healthy to be in this situation sometimes. I’m surrounded by the past every day, as if my dad’s home is a museum with dusty, disorganized exhibits displayed out of context and unvisited.

Growing up, our family home was always a bit of a sanctuary for me, a place the difficulties of the world didn’t penetrate. Today, it can sometimes seem more like a workplace. There’s something disquieting occasionally about walking the halls in what used to be a nurturing home but that now serves another purpose.

Of my siblings and me I am the only one to have grown up in the house. Still, it can still feel very strange to be there now. Today, Dad occupies only certain rooms, but once upon a time the whole house rang with laughter and music, as the smell of homemade food wafted throughout. Now I walk through the dark, silence wondering where the years went.

Maybe it’s having come so close to losing my brother to a serious illness last summer that has triggered some of these deeply buried thoughts. But, whatever the reason, they’ve come blasting to the surface like a volcanic eruption.

Mostly I’m troubled by the fact that my father is so very alone in the world now, having outlived everyone close to him save his children. Within just a few years of each other he lost the aunt who raised him, his brother-in-law who was like a little brother to him, and, most tragically, my mother.

There’s no one left of his generation except a sister, who lives a few hours away, a half-brother whom he doesn’t know very well, and a couple of school friends he speaks to on the phone. These are problems he has that I can’t fix.

Someday, because of my birth position in the family, I’ll likely be the only one left of my mother, father and siblings. I can’t replace what Dad’s lost, so I spend my time with him trying to give him a good quality of life in the present. But there are days when we both sit melancholy and remember the past in the quiet emptiness and solitude of our family home.

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

It’s OK not to drink

In Education, Health, Holiday, Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on December 30, 2015 at 6:30 am

 

dih-logo-SE

DEER IN HEADLINES

Special Extended Edition

BY GERY L. DEER

(Author’s Note: The following is an edited repost of an article originally published December 30, 2013)

I have never hidden the fact that I don’t drink alcohol. When I say that, I mean that I really don’t drink, ever. When some people say it, what they are implying is that they don’t drink hard liquor, or they have a beer at a baseball game or something. But trust me when I say, I don’t drink. Period. I just wanted to make that absolutely clear so what follows carries the proper weight.

An alumnus of one of the oldest national college fraternities – Sigma Phi Epsilon – I’ve never had an alcoholic beverage of any kind – nothing. I didn’t steer clear of the bubbly because of some religious or deep, philosophical reason. It just wasn’t part of my experience growing up and, fortunately, I never developed the interest.

To be quite honest, at this stage in my life, the very smell of the stuff, particularly beer, makes me kind of sick. That said, drinking is a big part of adult social and business functions and thus, hard to avoid. But, for those who are trying to steer clear of the juice, for whatever reason, please try to remember that it’s OK NOT to drink. Really, it is. Still, I am well aware of how hard it is not to succumb to pressure from others.

Some people might think peer pressure is limited to the adolescent or collegiate years, but even as an adult, I know how much stress there is on people to drink alcohol at social and business events. Despite opinions to the contrary, it really is OK not to drink and here are some ideas for anyone trying to abstain but who still wants to feel included in the fun of the party.

First, and this is really important, you must be comfortable with yourself and your decision not to indulge. If not, then you’ll probably make others feel that way too. Ambivalence will probably result in your drinking anyway and it will be your own decision and not because of peer pressure.

Next, always remember – and young people reading this please, please try to hang on to this concept –  if anyone takes issue with you’re not drinking, or pressures you in some way, the problem is with them, not you!

If offered, politely decline, but don’t make excuses. After all, the offer was not made to offend you. It’s not a good idea to launch into some long-winded explanation, however, or rattle off a list of excuses about why you’re abstaining. Just say something like, “No thanks. I’d really like a cup of tea (coffee, soda, whatever), though, if you have it?” It’s polite and expresses your appreciation for the offer.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 9.10.33 AMLet me say that I don’t hang around with many people who drink and those who do rarely do so in my presence. Not because they’re overly sensitive to my choices, and I don’t expect them to be, but because I’m rarely in a position where alcohol is any sort of focus at all.

But, in some extreme cases, I encounter one of the most baffling concepts I’ve had to come to terms with in my non-alcoholic life is having to defend the fact that I don’t drink. It’s really kind of backwards to my own sense of logic. Someone gives me a hard time and wants an explanation as to why I’m not drinking and I scratch my head. Generally that person’s not really someone I would normally spend time with anyway, but the question is there, hanging in the air like an anvil.

Early on, I realized that many people who find out I don’t drink immediately think I’m some kind of recovering alcoholic. I’m not. Hard to get hooked… no, let me rephrase that. It’s impossible to get hooked if you never start. But still, the question remains. Truth be told, I think it’s ridiculous that the sober guy in the room has to explain himself while all around him people are dropping, face first, into the toilet bowl. I just don’t get it.

So, my next piece of advice is to never defend yourself. Once again, change the subject, divert attentions elsewhere or be appreciative of their interest and just say, thanks, I just don’t want anything. Regardless of your reasons, I guarantee you’re not going to change anyone’s mind or alter their opinion of your choices, and you shouldn’t try. Plus, I’ve learned when someone takes so strong an issue with my non-drinking, it’s generally because they carry some sense of guilt or other feelings about their own alcohol use and suddenly feel extremely self-conscious.

If you’re at a social or business gathering, carrying a decoy drink can help avoid questions from people – since most people are standing around with some sort of cup or glass in their hand. But, don’t pretend it is alcohol, in other words, avoid the mock-tail. There is no need to call attention to the drink in your hand, but you might carry a drink around with you.

Some people will advise you to accept an alcoholic drink and just hold it all night, but that’s not only pointless and dishonest, but could actually make you feel even more self-conscious. People will expect you to sip from your drink now and again during long conversations, so just have something else in your glass.

Participating and socializing will also help to keep attention away from the lack of a drink in your hand. Keeping busy will keep your mind off the fact you’re not drinking with the other guests and help you be more involved in the event. If, however, there is still a particularly high level of pressure on you to drink or be left out or ridiculed, you should extricate yourself from the situation and rethink attending activities with the same group of people again.

Regardless of other steps you might take to distract from your abstinence, never, ever try to change the behavior of others. A social or business function is not the proper setting for a personal mission or intervention. If you live alcohol-free because of some personal crusade, leave your soap box at home. No one will hear you and it’ll just serve to further ostracize you from others.

Once again, you have to be comfortable with yourself, but you need to accept that others have not chosen your way and booze is a way of life out there in the world. Deal with it. You, alone, have made the conscious decision to attend an event where alcohol is being served and to be included you must live and let live. Needless to say, if you see someone about to drink and drive, act accordingly as your circumstances permit.

Finally, always remember that there is no “down side” to abstaining from alcohol. None. Only good can come of it – that’s not something drinkers can say with any measure of confidence. When you don’t drink, you’re probably less likely to do things that have negative consequences. So, provided you don’t have some kind of a deviant propensity toward misbehavior anyway, you should make it through the event unscathed. Your social position may suffer, however, especially if you typically surround yourself with partiers. I say, it’s their loss. And to you I’d recommend finding a better group of friends – those who accept you for who you are, not what you drink.

Negative people have a negative effect on us. I have lost friends, girlfriends and even business associates because of my choice not to drink. “I don’t trust a man who doesn’t drink,” is a backwards way of thinking and a bit on the ignorant side too, I might add. I’d say, logically, it should go the other way around, but I’d end up having to mistrust pretty much everyone outside my immediate family. Maybe a proper way to say it is, “It’d be hard for me to trust anyone who thinks the bottle in their hand is more important than a friend or family member.”

Consider what kind of a “friend” abandons you because you don’t want to use alcohol? If you were always a non-drinker, it’s probably easier for others to accept because they know from the start. But going on the wagon, for whatever reason, can be challenging. Once again, just remember that it’s OK not to drink. Just be yourself. It’s you that should matter to your friends and colleagues, not what’s in your glass.

Gery L. Deer is an independent contributor to WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton program. More at www.gerydeer.com

 

 

Combating fear and terrorism at the holidays

In Crime, history, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, Travel, Uncategorized, World News on November 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs the holiday season begins, bad guys around the world are watching and willing to do anything to disrupt safety and security. In the shadow of the Paris attacks in which 129 people died and more than 350 injured, it’s hard not to worry that another strike is just around the corner.

The level of anger and hatred leveled at peace-loving people is almost incomprehensible. But what can we do, as individual Americans, to remain safe and keep the terrorists from spreading fear?

For the most part, remaining diligent about safety should be a common sense concept. But, surprisingly, many Americans are complacent about their place on the global stage. But it’s only a matter of time before ISIS and similar groups manage to hit an American target on a massive scale, just as al Qaeda did in 2001. In other words, we’ve been lucky.

As the White House plans for the reception of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism themselves, many conservatives are debating the idea that the inrush of refugees may include planted ISIS terrorists. Although this is certainly a legitimate concern, my guess is, however, they already have people on the ground here in the States, recruiting American young people on our own soil.

It can still happen here ... again.

It can still happen here … again.

Young, mush-brained Americans are being recruited into these terrorist cells in staggering numbers. One report by CNN.com states, “ISIS takes a somewhat secular approach, portraying how much better life purportedly is in the caliphate as compared to the corrupt West.”

The article also offers a reminder that it’s not just American youth who are attracted to the ISIS recruitment process. It also appeals to a wide demographic of people from all ages and socioeconomic ranges.

Additionally, gun control in the U.S. may help reduce domestic terror violence, but taking guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens might actually make ISIS’ job easier by making them bolder. My guess is that one of the few things keeping the bad guys at bay is a “Texas” mentality – the belief that we’re all gun-crazy and packing heats everywhere we go.

While that wouldn’t scare the leaders or group on the whole, those individuals they recruit to actually act would think twice if there was a possibility of not completing their “holy” mission – the deaths of hundreds of free Americans. If the assailant were to be gunned down by a regular citizen before he can detonate his bomb or unload his weapon on innocents, he’d be a failure and dishonor himself.

Americans can’t afford to depend entirely on the federal government to protect them from these threats and should remember the advice of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On the official DHS website, the agency states, “Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities.”

DHS officials urge citizens to be “vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity” and watch the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Alerts for information about specific threats. While being vigilant, however, it’s important to be clear on who exactly constitutes “the enemy.”

Clearly, Americans are behind our French allies, in solidarity against a common enemy with no borders, no face, no diplomatic recognition, no motive (except murder) – the enemy could be anyone. But we must keep in mind that “alert” doesn’t mean “paranoid.”

The words “Islam” and “Muslim” are being thrown around in the reports about the most recent terror attacks. We must remember that Muslims are not the enemy – ISIS is the threat. Muslims, like most Christians, are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who are deeply harmed by what these radicals are doing.

History is full of religious extremism, from virtually every major sect on the planet. We’ll never be completely rid of it, but we can do our best to keep it from damaging our society and protect citizens of the free world as effectively as possible.

As a people and a country, America survived 9/11 and we’ll survive whatever ISIS throws at us. But anything we can do to prevent this most recent threat from any level of success is worth the effort and diligence.

 

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

 

 

 

Respite is theme of National Family Caregivers Month

In Entertainment, Health, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAccording to the latest numbers, around 83-percent of long-term care in the U.S. is provided by unpaid family members. Although it might not affect you directly at this point, odds are someone you know is caring for an elderly or disabled family member.

Family caregivers are saving the government and insurance companies billions of dollars every year and go largely unnoticed. Caregivers play many roles for their charges, from accountant to housekeeper and personal assistant to nurse. It’s a nonstop challenge with daily changes so there is no “normal,” particularly when caring for someone with an advancing deteriorative disease.

Lois Deer (right), mother of the author, passed away in 2011 after two years of full-time care by her family.

Lois Deer (right), mother of the author, passed away in 2011 after two years of full-time care by her family.

The term, “caregiver” usually conjures up thoughts of an adult child looking after an elderly parent, but that’s certainly not the only situation. Parents of disabled children, grandparents, or even siblings caring for a disabled or elderly brother or sister, are all dealing with a similar situation – too much to handle and not enough help.

Caregivers often suffer from enduring fatigue, emotional stress and broad-reaching financial hardship. Over time, trying to cope with all of this can catch up with a person, causing chronic health problems. The organizers behind the website Caregiveraction.org have declared November as National Family Caregivers Month with the 2015 theme of “Respite: Care for the Caregiver.”

The organization notes that most caregivers feel that respite is a luxury and many even view it as selfish. But trying to find a way to decompress on a regular basis should be made a priority.

Juggling one home, a job and a personal life can be tough enough, but when you’re doing it for two households it can break even the most resilient of people in a hurry. The majority of caregivers pull double duty in order to handle their own homes and families while seeing to the doctor visits, medicine regimens, physical therapy, and other demands of their caregiving charge.

That constant state of stress can often lead to long-term health issues. It’s important that caregivers care for themselves also, set aside time to rest, eat right, and seek support if no other family is available to help out.

Some Caregiver Facts …
 Largest source of long-term care
 Most (66%) are female
 More than half are age 18-49
 Most caring for elderly parents
 Many suffer loss of wages and benefits

There are a number of organizations with resources available to help with respite care. Be aware, however, that generally there is no insurance or Medicare / Medicaid coverage for these services and the costs must be absorbed by the patient or caregiver.

Financial stress is one of the most prominent problems for family caregivers. Many either lose their jobs due to regular absences or have to quit in order to provide full time care. And, when the patient has limited income or other resources, the caregiver picks up the fiscal slack, spending whatever they have to ensure bills are paid.

If you know someone who has recently become a family caregiver, please keep in mind that they may have a different set of priorities than before. Depending on the situation, it is likely their life revolves now around the person for whom they provide care. They may not be able to drop everything and go shopping or out to dinner at a moment’s notice. Be patient and supportive.

Of course there are those who gives the family caregiver a bad name. Anyone who does this out of some kind of need for financial compensation or constant personal praise won’t be seen as anything but self-aggrandizing and reprehensible.

There is no glory or martyrdom in caregiving. It’s emotionally draining and physically exhausting, especially if your family member is terminally ill. The pain of watching someone wither away is like nothing imaginable without first-hand experience.

If you’re taking care of a family member, remember to take care of yourself too. You can’t do anyone else any good if you’re suffering as well. Caregiving is hard work, on any level, and it should be viewed objectively.

You wouldn’t work nonstop on a job would you? Do whatever you need to do to take a little time for yourself every day. Remember you’re doing the best you can and accept help when it’s offered.

Helpful Resources …

Centers for Disease Control : http://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts.htm

The Caregiver Space . Org : http://thecaregiverspace.org/

Greene County Council on Aging : http://www.gccoa.org

 

Community colleges are vital to economy

In Business, Economy, Education, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on October 26, 2015 at 9:42 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs college tuition continues to climb, more students are going into debt from loans or even dropping out because of the expense and the cycle is getting worse, not better. According to a 2013 estimate by Forbes magazine, students in the U.S. owed a whopping $1.2 trillion in tuition loans and that number is climbing.

Upon graduation, the average student will need to work enough to live while trying to pay off nearly $25,000 in loan debt. This is one reason community colleges are gaining ground as the first, best option for people who want a solid education that leads to gainful employment – and for less money.

Not too long ago the Obama administration announced the importance of community college and an effort to make them tuition-free for low-income families. While there is merit to the sentiment, the idea that an Ivy Leaguer, like the president, speaks as if he just discovered the value of these institutions always comes across as elitist and insulting.

When highbrow critics slam community college curriculum as easier, less valuable, or someplace only the low-performers go, it only serves to make those ivory-towered onlookers appear less intelligent. For some people, the community college serves to fill in educational gaps left by their high school experience.

College_graduate_students (1)The department of education reports that 40-percent of students who set out to earn a four-year degree still have not completed it by year six. Even so, many guidance counselors don’t suggest community college to lower-income or poorly performing students out of a sense of political correctness.

If the counselor sincerely suggests to a low-income individual, particularly a minority, that community college might be their best option, he or she could very well appear racist or the like. As a result, many students head for universities who may either not be ready for it academically or who simply cannot afford it.

Of course, not all community colleges are created equal. There are certainly those institutions that need curriculum improvement, which is why these schools must make every effort to attract talented faculty.

The Dayton, Ohio area has about a half-dozen, highly rated community colleges including Edison Community College, ITT Technical Institute, and, the fastest growing and largest, Sinclair Community College. Established in the basement of the Dayton YMCA in 1887, Sinclair is the oldest and often rated as most popular in the region and a leader in healthcare and high tech education.

Sinclair established university parallel programs more than 25 years ago, providing students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in engineering and other programs that transfer directly into four-year schools like University of Dayton and Ohio University, Athens. Many community colleges today offer this type of continuing program to allow students to build momentum in their college careers and nail down the academic path that most suits their goals.

Community college is an amazing opportunity for many students, allowing for more hands-on training that is generally possible at the university level and from people who have worked in the field. Most community college instructors and professors have spent years in real-life work situations, not just in academia and theory.

As it has been since their inception, community colleges also tailor programs for adult and continuing education students. From evening courses to satellite classes, adult students can earn their associate’s degree or work toward a certificate required to advance in their current job. Some larger employers even collaborate with the colleges to offer the course work on site.

Whatever the reason, lower tuition, work advancement or kick starting a longer academic career, community colleges offer a great many options for students and are not merely the “last resort.” Education and knowledge are what grow an economy, not political rhetoric and empty promises.

The university experience is simply not for everyone, regardless of academic prowess and financial means. Americans must relieve the stigma associated with community college programs and present instead a unified front for educational options in the 21st Century. Everyone benefits from education, workers, employers, the community and the country.

 

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