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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

 

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Hackers: The gangsters of the digital age.

In Business, Crime, Economy, News Media, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 24, 2015 at 10:49 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGORecently, after watching a news story on the subject, my father, who recently turned 82 years old, asked me about what “hacking” was and why someone would do it. I struggled for a minute to explain it in terms he would understand while still giving him a rudimentary understanding of the technology.

It reminded me of a similar conversation I had with my great aunt in 1999, shortly before the Y2K turnover. At 91, she lived a fairly isolated existence in the Ohio Appalachian foothills and certainly not computer literate. But she was deeply concerned about the Y2K computer bug causing her to lose electricity, water and her savings.

I reassured her that there was nothing to be concerned about, and did my best to explain what was really going on, beyond the media hype, the volume of which was considerable when you take into account she had but one TV channel. However, satisfied with my explanation, she seemed never to give it another thought and the millennium switch came and went without incident.

The fact that she was worried at all was troubling and shows just how influential the media can be in exacerbating a problem. Today, we’re faced with a similar situation, demonstrated by my dad’s concern over hacking. So, just exactly who and what should you be worried about and why?

Hacking costs companies more than $445 billion each year.

Hacking costs companies more than $445 billion each year.

For those who don’t know, “hacking” refers to the act of using specialized programming that identifies and exploits weakness in the security of a computer system in an effort to either steal or expose confidential information, or just to prove it can be done. It is a crime and often the hackers are in another country.

These digital gangsters break in for a variety of reasons, mostly to steal and sell sensitive information, political records or financial information. Without getting into more deep technical and political motives, keep in mind that hackers aren’t interested in getting into your private computer.

Not to rain on anyone’s self-confidence, but you’re just not that important – unless you’re some celebrity or politician – for hackers to waste the effort. There has to be some gain in the end, although it might simply be the act itself, the accomplishment of breaking in.

Some hacked information is sold to other criminals who will use it for their own nefarious purposes. When performed against something like the marital cheating website, Ashley Madison, the hope is that there will be some big name to expose and embarrass. That leaves the potential for some celebrity or politician to pay handsomely to keep his or her name off of the publicized list, essentially using the information for extortion.

Most of the time, the average computer user is not directly at risk, but that said, you could still be vulnerable if a store or bank you frequent happens to be a target. The best advice is to read all correspondence from retailers and financial institutions.

If their systems are compromised, they will contact customers first – very quietly – before going public with the information, so as to limit panic among their patrons. You will be instructed what to do in the event of a hack and how to best communicate with the vendor for further information.

Another way to protect your own information with online accounts, and I can’t stress this enough, is to use strong, complex passwords. Often the data stored for online accounts does not include a visible password, even the website owners can’t help you if you lose it. So the more complex it is, and the more often you change it, the less likely a hacker will be able to gain access to your information even if they get in.

Hacking, as a criminal activity, has created a billion-dollar industry around the world, on both sides of cyber security. More than ever, specialists are being trained to combat cyber attacks and electronic infiltration on every level.

As cyber security becomes more sophisticated, so will the criminals who seek to break it. They are the nameless, faceless equivalents of the modern day Jesse James and John Dillinger. Each generation has its nemeses and cyber criminals are the current lot, intent on wreaking havoc with our digital world.

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

Books and Co. hosts live reading by local authors of WOWA, June 19

In Books, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Education, Entertainment, history, Local News, psychology, Technology on June 15, 2015 at 5:38 pm

IMG_0030Beavercreek, OH – Beginning at 7pm on Friday, June 19, author members of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) will take the microphone at Books & Co. to present their popular, “Beatnik Café” event. Writers from all genres will regale visitors with original works of poetry and prose to the theme, “Leave No Trace.” The event is free and open to the public.

The live reading pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Reading aloud from original work, each writer will take the stage for 10 to 12 minutes, dazzling audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what.

Barbara Deer is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. (Click to watch the television interview about last summer’s Beatnik from WDTN-TV2, Living Dayton 6-12-2014)

Barbara Deer, WOWA co-founder.

Barbara Deer, WOWA co-founder.

“Annual workshops are held all around the country, with two of the most well-known right here in the Miami Valley. But for most writers to thrive that type of support needs to come on a more regular basis,” Deer says. “Our group consists of professional writers and editors, college professors and everyone is ready and willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

wowa-beatnik

Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

WOWA Logo 2Now in its seventh year, this talented group of scribes definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Handcar Press (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly, free, public presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Don’t talk to me about, “life.”

In Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on May 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

Deer In Headlines

Special Edition 

By Gery L. Deer

dih-logo-SE“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” ― George Carlin

No kidding, don’t talk to me about life. I don’t have a clue what to tell you. It’d be great if I could suddenly sound like one of those know-it-all high-dollar advice columnists but, really, they’re full of it too.  You’d have more luck following the meaningless advice from inside your next fortune cookie at the local Chinese restaurant.

Advice columnists, TV experts, so-called “life coaches,” or your favorite self-help author or motivational speaker must be infinitely smarter than any of us regular folks. After all, they motivated your money right out of your wallet; genius, wouldn’t you say? In reality, one can tell you what to do about the perils and promises of life except you.

Life is one of those subjects about which I have never felt confident offering an opinion, nor should anyone else. The very idea that anyone has it figured out or could possibly understand the complexities of someone else’s situation is not just ridiculous, it’s a little insulting.

Special, personal hat tip to the late author, Douglas Adams, who helped to put this writer's perspective into focus.

Special, personal hat tip to the late author, Douglas Adams, who helped to put this writer’s perspective into focus.

If anyone could actually manage such a thing, it would mean that there is nothing inherently special or unique about our lives. It implies that everyone lives a sort of cookie-cutter existence, with no peaks, valleys or crevices, and that’s just silly.

Life is complicated. It cannot be sorted out with an hour on the psychiatrist’s couch or because of some nonsense from a self-help book. We all have to iron it out for ourselves. That’s not to say we don’t need some help sometimes, but it’s not going to come from something you saw on an infomercial at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Even religion offers no answer to such multifaceted issues as, “What should I do with my life?” Religion also guts your wallet without providing a single, concrete solution. In fact, without an incredible level of ambiguity, religion couldn’t exist at all.

Your faith may provide you with peace of mind, but leaving everything “in God’s hands,” is a little like letting go of the wheel while barreling down the highway at 70 miles per hour. I’d say He probably expects you to steer. And, to be fair, science has no solutions either.

For those empirical folks out there, Charles Darwin might have been able to tell you how animals changed over the millennia, but he had no clue how the evolution of your life should proceed. Sometimes you just have to work things out on your own.

Life coaches, support groups, psychobabble – it all comes down to the person you see in the mirror. Everyone has an opinion about your life, but before taking it, you need to look at the source of that information. What kind of shape is their life in?

It’s always puzzling when someone takes marriage advice from a friend or relative whose relationships are a wreck.  That’s kind of like asking a demolition derby driver to teach drivers education. They know how, but the results might be less than desirable.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) once said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” That is probably the best way to look at your world. Occasionally we’re looking too hard for answers to difficult questions with straightforward resolutions. But you won’t find your answers in a self-help workshop or in an advice column.

When standing at a fork in the road, there comes a time when you have to pick a path and start walking. You put one foot in front of the other, get moving and own it, whatever the outcome. If you do that, on your terms, at least you’ll know it was your decision to go left instead of right, to charge ahead instead of turning back. It will be yours, because we are responsible for the paths our lives take and, after all, the journey is the real destination. Make it a good one.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

Old dogs and new tricks

In Dayton Ohio News, Education, Local News, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Technology, Uncategorized on March 23, 2015 at 11:38 am

DIH LOGOSome people are of the mind that there is a certain age when learning something new is neither a priority nor even a possibility. As I approach a half-century on this earth, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that, at some point, people just stop learning.

Barring some kind of dementia or other mental disorder, it’s hard to understand why anyone would “choose” to be an old dog, totally uninterested in learning a new trick. In my lines of work, I am frequently exposed to innovative technology and new ideas and I’m expected to keep up or I don’t pay the mortgage.

I spend a considerable amount of time researching, learning new concepts or updating my skills in some way so I can stay relevant in a world that seems to change by the nanosecond. Part of that continuing education includes reading, networking with others and going to conferences and workshops. I just returned from one such conference that was, for me, one of the single best I have ever attended.

A couple of months ago, I was asked by a friend to speak at an upcoming technology event known as, “Dayton WordCamp,” a two-day series focused on the website content management system called “WordPress.” As with most tech, this event would be dominated by much younger, more advanced presenters.

Originally, I hesitated, feeling as if “at my age” (and technical level) I would have little to bring to the table. But, with a little effort I found a spot where I fit into the program nicely and agreed.

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton WordCamp

Dayton’s event is one of hundreds of WordCamps around the world, all presented for the benefit of those using WordPress as their website platform. Lovingly referred to by organizers as an “unconference,” the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, with most people wearing jeans and T-shirts.  One of the perks of speaking is the opportunity to attend the event as a spectator as well.

One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was that I was not the oldest person in the room. Of roughly 120 attendees the bell curve probably favored the younger crowd, but there were plenty of people my age and older as well. Such diversity says something for both the reputations of the scheduled presenters and the usability of the software about which we had all come to learn.

As the first day’s session began my apprehension diminished and I began to settle into a comfortable atmosphere for learning. By the conclusion of day two, I was not only charged up to dive in and apply my newly-acquired information, but I wanted to find a way to be more involved in future sessions.

At this point, I have to give a shout out to my friend Dustin Hartzler and his fellow organizers, particularly Nathan Driver, who invited me to speak at the event while also allowing me to be a student as well (that’s not the norm at such functions). These folks gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge, allowing me to better serve my clients, plus I got to take a couple of days for myself, something for which I rarely have the opportunity.

In my experience, most people who have stopped learning have done so, in some manner, by choice. Learning is not just academic. Expanding your horizons at any age is not limited to taking college classes or immersing yourself in books for hours on end. You can attend free, hands-on workshops, watch “do it yourself” shows on television, or just dive in and try something on your own, learning as you go.

My point is that there is simply no reason any of us should be stagnant. Opportunities for growth exist in many areas of our lives and all we need to do is take the first step. What is important is that you get out there and try, whether your interest is gardening, motorcycles, computers, music, or maybe you want to try something new. Don’t be an old dog with no new tricks.

For more about WordCamp check out the Dayton WordPress Meetup – http://www.meetup.com/Dayton-WordPress/

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

Remembering “Spock,” actor Leonard Nimoy

In Entertainment, Movies, National News, Opinion, television, Theatre, Uncategorized, World News on March 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

DIH LOGO

In 1982, fans of the science fiction franchise, “Star Trek,” more commonly referred to as “Trekkies,” or the more accepted, “Trekkors,” took a kidney punch when Leonard Nimoy’s character of Mr. Spock died at the end of the film “Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan.” But, thanks to the miracle of science fiction, Spock was resurrected and the Starship Enterprise continued to boldly go where no man had gone before.

Sadly, fans must now face a more painful and permanent fact of life as they mourn the passing of the actor who, for nearly a half century, portrayed their favorite pointy-eared alien. Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27th at the age of 83 at his home in Los Angeles following a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

As a lifelong fan there is no way to adequately convey the sadness of losing such a talented performer whose on-screen character inspired so many. Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy, and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, were great sources, not only of entertainment, but incredible inspiration for individual achievement and social change.

spockNetwork executives originally told Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to, “get rid of the guy with the ears.” But, thanks to Mr. Nimoy’s talented development of the character,  Mr. Spock became a quintessential part of “Star Trek’s” hopeful future in which everyone worked together to eliminate hunger, pettiness and poverty.

Such a vision is still somewhat unique – and often poked fun at – in the science fiction genre, which more often paints a dark, pessimistic outlook for man and a holocaust-ravaged world of tomorrow.  But with Spock’s presence, a bright future for mankind seemed more plausible. In Spock, Mr. Nimoy created the embodiment of chaos with focus, logic with feeling, and understanding with wonder.

I have been incredibly fortunate on a couple of occasions to have had the chance to meet and speak to Mr. Nimoy, as well as see him perform. At one Star Trek anniversary convention I attended, he invited questions from the audience. He chose my raised hand from several dozen other hopefuls seated nearby and I didn’t waste the opportunity.

A bit stunned at having been selected, I stood up and managed to ask something from the original “Star Trek” pilot episode that I’d been wondering about for years. With a genuinely amused laugh, he thought for a moment and informed us that he’d never before been asked about it.

Then, he answered with a detailed, behind the scenes story and directly thanked me when he finished. I will never forget that. Naturally it was cool even to be picked out of hundreds, but I was far more privileged to have given Leonard Nimoy even a tiny moment of entertainment in return for all he’d given us.

Mr. Nimoy played Spock for the last time in the most recent “Star Trek” film, “Into Darkness,” and, although he will be most remembered for his logical alter-ego, he also performed in dozens of other movies and television programs over the years. Besides “Star Trek,” he’s probably most remembered for his time on “Mission Impossible” and, more recently, in the TV drama, “Fringe.”

Besides being a gifted actor, Mr. Nimoy was a director, poet, photographer and activist. In the “Star Trek” animated series Spock is quoted to have said, “Loss of life is to be mourned. But only if that life was wasted.” Clearly, his was certainly not wasted.

Any of us should be so lucky as to have touched even a fraction of the lives Mr. Nimoy did, and in so many positive ways. To all those mourning a loss, remember the burden will ease over time and those we lose really aren’t gone, as long as we remember them. Live long and prosper.

If you would like to know Gery’s convention question to Mr. Nimoy and what answer he gave, read the BONUS MATERIAL at the end of this article.

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

  

BONUS MATERIAL:
Question from Gery Deer to Leonard Nimoy in a talk at the Star Trek 35th Anniversary Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gery L. Deer: Mr. Nimoy, in the Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage,” you beam down to the surface of planet Talos IV with Captain Pike and a landing party. As you walk around the planet set, you appear to be limping and I wanted to know if you could tell us why? I’ve heard people say it had something to do with your boots, or the set floor, whatever. I just wondered what the real reason was.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer in one of the uniforms designed for Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan

Leonard Nimoy: (Laughing) You’ve been worried about that all of these years, why I was limping? Well, I have to say I have never been asked about that before.

(The crowd of about 1,200 in the room was really laughing at this point and applauding.)

Leonard Nimoy: Well, I’ll tell you because I really don’t want you to be troubled by this any longer. (More laughter). If you remember in the story there was some discussion about a fight that had taken place on a planet several weeks prior.

As the story goes, the Enterprise crew was ambushed and there was a battle in which crew members were killed or injured. Spock was supposed to have hurt his leg in that fight. In television and movies, you often shoot scenes and story lines out of sequence and the scenes where the fight takes place would have been in another episode to go before the events in The Cage had Star Trek had been picked up without any changes. Then you’d see Spock get hurt and know why he’s limping later. (Crowd applauds.)

Leonard Nimoy: (Nimoy, looking back again at Gery) That’s why I was limping and now you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Thank you for that question, that was really the first time anyone has ever asked me that. (Mr. Nimoy gives Gery the Vulcan salute and the crowd applauds again.)

END.

 

 

Still unregulated, e-cigarettes may prove as toxic as tobacco

In Children and Family, Education, Health, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on February 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

dih-logo-SE

 

 

 

 

DEER IN HEADLINES : SPECIAL EDITION – By Gery L. Deer

As smoking bans continue to expand across the United States, more smokers are taking to electronic cigarettes as a way to skirt around the law while still getting their fix. While proponents of the gadgets contend they are a safer, healthier alternative that may actually help smokers quit, new research is showing they are likely to be just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes.

The concept that people want to inhale poisonous gas is for the non-smoker, and for lack of a better word, baffling. If it makes a person cough, wheeze, choke, and gasp, it probably means the body is trying to reject it. To those trying to breathe clean air (well, as clean as is possible), smoking is just plain disgusting. It makes clothing and people smell bad, it pollutes the air around the smoker and is responsible for more than 440,000 premature deaths in the United States annually. Now that researchers are finally studying the alternatives, they may be proving the electronic options just as dangerous.

“It’s plausible that e-cigarettes have their own particular dangers,” stated Japan’s health ministry following the release of a recent study on the effects of using electronic nicotine delivery inhaler, more commonly known as, e-cigarettes. “That can be true even while e-cigarettes are, in general, less dangerous than traditional tobacco smoking.”

According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the Japanese research found high levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the vapors of several different e-cigarette brands. The Daily Mail later issued a correction to their original story regarding the amount of carcinogens discovered, however the basic findings of the report are still relevant.

Although e-cigarette proponents (mostly those who earn revenue from the sale of these products) vehemently condemn the Daily Mail’s report and the Japanese findings, a spring 2014 study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) essentially supports the conclusions.

CBS News reported the following excerpt from the study, “Because e-cigarettes are fairly new, there could be other long-term health complications that have yet to be discovered,” the report stated. “Results of long-term exposure to such substances are unknown. Due to the lack of production oversight, most consumers don’t know what’s in the e-cigarettes they buy.”

The report indicated that e-cigarettes operated at high voltages produce vapor with large amounts of formaldehyde-containing chemical compounds. Manufacturers provided a response to the CBS report, suggesting that it would be unusual for users to alter the voltage on the delivery device. READ THE ENTIRE CBS STORY – January CBS News Report indicating formaldehyde in the vapor – click to read.

vaping

All of this study and debate is just a dance around the overlying point that smokers should not have the right to pollute the air of those around them, regardless of the delivery system. Smokers would do best to stifle the tired old argument about the addictive nature of smoking and stop blaming the tobacco companies for their suffering.

In the end, the detrimental nature of smoking is the sole responsibility of the smoker. No one forced the smoker to light up that first time, or the second, or the third. Smoking is a choice that becomes an addiction. If they hadn’t started, they wouldn’t be hooked.

Creating a socially acceptable “cheat” method for taking in nicotine is a little like making alcoholics drink from a cup instead of the bottle. The final effect is the same – the person is still addicted. On the subject of addiction, the idea that e-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit is also unsubstantiated.

Dr. Pamela Ling, an associate professor at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California, San Francisco, was lead researcher on a study published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association. She concluded, “When used by a broad sample of smokers under ‘real world’ conditions, e-cigarette use did not significantly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking.”

An electronic drug delivery system resembling some kind of refugee prop from Star Wars is still just another way of enabling addiction and polluting the air. If the recent studies are accurate, what is released into the air could be just as toxic as the vapor inhaled by the user, possibly even more so. Without further study and government regulation on these chemicals, no one really knows.

“Vaping” is still not widely controlled as actual smoking, so people still light up indoors where smoking is prohibited and that needs to end. Smoking bans should exist for all forms, whether achieved by burning dried leaves or electronically heated vapor.

One person’s right to smoke shouldn’t be more important than the health and safety of those around them. Imagine the result of an asthmatic child falling deathly ill from an attack triggered by the second hand vapors coming out of one of these things (or a tobacco cigarette for that matter), and all because someone couldn’t wait to light up?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, doctors ridiculously gave their seal of health to tobacco products. They even took money to provide testimonials as to the health benefits of smoking. Sadly, a lot of people had to die before health professionals faced the truth. Face the facts – if human beings were meant to breathe toxic gasses, we would be living on Venus.

 

Don’t expect privacy at work.

In Jobs, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on February 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm

DIH LOGOPrivacy issues are some of the most complex problems facing Americans today. At home, we enjoy at least a certain level of privacy, but expecting the same at the workplace is, in a word, unrealistic.

According to information provided on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union, “Back in 1928, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that the right most valued by the American people was ‘the right to be left alone.’” The site goes on to complain that private businesses are not limited by the constitution since, “the Bill of Rights addresses only state actions.”

In many parts of the country, advanced workplace privacy legislation is still being hashed out and may vary greatly from state to state. The ACLU has spent countless hours and probably just as much money arguing for workers, but, just for argument’s sake, let’s take a moment to see this issue from the employer’s point of view.

privacyNefarious intentions aside, why would an employer want to “monitor” the communications (phone, e-email, Internet) activities of employees while on the job? Usually, monitoring is performed for the security, legal liability and fiscal stability of the company and its employees. They’re not (or shouldn’t be) doing it to check up on your political affiliations or see how many cups of coffee you’re drinking before noon. Honestly, whatever you might think of yourself, your personal habits just aren’t that important.

With regard to using office equipment for personal communication, as a business owner, it’s not the employer’s responsibility to provide workers with the means for private conversation during business hours. Since the company owns the equipment and pays employees for work, he or she should have a right to monitor how it is used. If that seems unreasonable, consider the following scenario.

Suppose you hire a plumber to repair a bathroom drain. He starts work, then after a few minutes, asks to use your phone or excuses himself to use a cell phone to check in with the babysitter. As a compassionate person, you say, “No problem,” and go about your business.

Since he’s within earshot you overhear him fully engaged in a detailed conversation about something the neighbor did to the dog, which drags into a quarter hour, then a half. You are paying the man by the hour to repair your plumbing and, so far, that still hasn’t happened.

As he is in your home (private property, just as a business would be), using your utilities (if he’s using your private telephone) and you are paying him to do so, would you not have every right to monitor what’s going on and ask him to stop and complete his work? Even if he’s using his own cell phone, he’s still doing it on your dime. Does any of that seem fair to you? Of course not, but workers expect employers to put up with this same kind of situation on a daily basis.

The fact is that employees are there to work, not use the office communications equipment to order Christmas gifts online or have extended personal phone conversations. If there is an emergency, there are likely rules in place to cover those situations and provide a means of communication if necessary.

In order to keep personal communications private at the workplace, most experts suggest using your own mobile phone and (this is a big one) leave the premises to do it — at lunch or break time. To be clear, if you want to ensure privacy (from the employer anyway) never use only a phone provided to you by the employer, but a cell phone registered to and paid for by you.

For workers, expectations of privacy are usually outlined upon hiring or they’re included in an employee handbook, which almost no one reads. Otherwise, a human resources professional can answer any of these questions.

Private communication, whether by phone or computer, should be done on personal time, on personal equipment. From surveillance cameras to keystroke tracking software, an employer owns the property of his or her business and expects employees to at least respect that, even if they don’t agree with it. Ω

 

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

A short discussion of time.

In Entertainment, history, Literature, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

DIH LOGOTime is a concept, at least on Earth, unique to humans. No other creature has a sense of time nor do they seem to miss it. When deprived of its constant ticking, however, humans do indeed miss it – sometimes to the point of madness. People can go insane without the ability to follow the hands around the clock, chasing them as if to pursue food or shelter.

But time simply doesn’t exist. With all due respect to clock makers and the people who force you wait incredulously for an hour after arriving on punctually for a doctor’s appointment, time has no basis in reality; none, whatsoever. Oh sure, early man followed the sun up and down and watched moon phases to generate a calendar with which he soon began measuring the march of days. But he (figurative “he,” not intended to slight the fairer sex) is the only creature on the planet that has done so.

Contrary to the beliefs of theoretical physicists and science fiction fans, the “space-time continuum” is, for lack of a better word, hooey. Time travel will never be possible, forward or backward, regardless of whether one climbs into a souped-up DeLorean or a Frigidaire. It’s just impossible to physically move through a “concept.”

GLD_DIH_JAN15_TIMEThe great physicist, Albert Einstein, couldn’t have said it better when he theorized that time was relative to the position of the spectator. Time exists only in a single instant and even then only in the mind of the observer. There is no yesterday; no tomorrow. Man has no future and no past.

“History,” as it is referred to, is merely the recorded experience of one onlooker in a particular moment, captured in human memories, cave paintings, crayon, photos, writings, and now selfies. One cannot pass to and fro through history and every moment is affected by whom or whatever is present at that instant, without exception; otherwise referred to as “causality.”

For creatures with such a self-confident understanding of the passage of time, human beings certainly spend a great deal of it wastefully, ignoring the precious moments that can never be revisited or repeated. Mankind can be so caught up in his own affairs that important lessons whiz right by his primate-anchored brain cells, forcing him to forget to learn from his recorded past.

In youth, human beings tend to feel, somewhat accurately, that time is endless. In fact, since it is nothing more than a concept, time is endless, but the lifetime of the person is what turns out to be far more limited.

Young people burn up their early years in the ridiculous pursuit of high school glory, good grades, the first of a string of hopeless romantic partnerships, and, eventually, trying to get into the latest night spot by claiming to be older. Sadly, none of these efforts generally result in a fortunate use of time, mostly ending in yet another suitcase on the ever overstuffed baggage cart of life.

As the cart grows, letting go of some of that baggage is something with which humans have an incredibly difficult time. Resolving the past often requires thousands of dollars and hours on the analysts couch, but to no end. Life is cumulative, but time isn’t.

Eventually, humans created machines to measure time’s conceptual passing. Clocks are designed to offer a graduated visual representation of the passage of conceptual time based originally on the movements of the sun. In reality, it was the movement of the earth that was being marked.

Clocks and calendars are man’s way of trying to wrangle time to behave the way he wants it to. The fact is, since he created the idea of time, he has had complete control of it all along but never realized it.

Whether it’s being measured or not life goes on. Human beings would be far happier if they spent less time wallowing in the past or worrying about the future.

As hair turns grey and bones go brittle, the clock continues to tick down the conceptual passage of time. But real or not, the most important thing anyone can do is try to appreciate that one, amazing, wondrous moment of time within which everyone exists.

 

The Jamestown Comet.com Publisher / Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

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