Remembering Barrie Richardson: ‘We had fun’ (audio)

I wish I could tell you I was good friends with Barrie Richardson, but I was not. I did, however, spend about an hour with him one day eating breakfast in a hotel restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and that was good enough.

IBM President Joe Turner and Barrie Richardson

IBM President Joe Turner and Barrie Richardson

Barrie Richardson died Nov. 18, 2015, at home, surrounded by family, after a brief illness. His obituary can be read here.

I will always cherish the hour I spent with him at breakfast during MagiFest. We were both wandering around the hotel lobby, he introduced himself (I was so embarrassed that I failed to recognize him, he is a legend in the world of magic and mentalism) and asked if I wanted to join him for breakfast.

I want to share a little bit of the conversation we had. The background noise gets to be a problem at times because we were in a restaurant with waitresses delivering food and clearing tables.

Please enjoy:


The price of this Kindle is on Fire!

I have long been a fan of the Kindle Fire HD 7. Just recently, I saw Amazon is offering a Kindle Fire 7 (not HD) for $49.99. Even though we have two Kindle Fires in our household, I told my wife I wanted to buy one of these … just because of the price.



Well, I am not buying one for me, I am buying two of them for gifts. Even if you were to use this tablet for nothing but a Kindle reader, it is definitely worth it. It is less expensive than the most affordable Kindle reader. It might be a little bulkier, but for me this is a great value.

I have sung the praises of the Kindle Fire HD in this space in earlier posts. For example, I wrote this post about five reasons why I love the Kindle Fire HD, and this one is why it is profitable to carry it with you all of the time. You can read all I have written about the Kindle Fire HD here.

So for all of those reasons, and now the $49 for price, I am excited to be purchasing two Kindle Fire 7s for gifts. I bought my wife, Wendi, a Kindle Fire HD 6, and she loves it because of the compact size (it fits in her purse or the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt). She loved it so much, we bought my mother one for Christmas. She absolutely loves it.

So, if you have been wanting to get a Kindle Fire, this is a great opportunity for such a small investment. You can purchase one (or more, if you buy five you get one free) here.

(I am an Amazon affiliate and will earn a small percentage if you purchase it through my website.)

Have You Stepped Up Yet? Want to be a Sponsor?

A group of us in Wooster and Wayne County are working on a Compassion International event to raise awareness (and money) about releasing children from extreme poverty.

Step Up

The Step Up with Compassion fundraising walk series takes families on a journey of discovery to shed light on the reality of childhood poverty. We have scheduled it for 10 a.m. Oct. 31, 2015, at Oak Hill Park in Wooster.

The Wooster group, led by Ron and Jan Maxwell, will be among the first to present this Step Up walk. We are learning as we go. There is a sense of excitement because of a feeling that anything is possible. It’s never been done, so how can we mess up?

While it is exciting to be part of this, it is also a little scary. After all, it’s never been done. And, the reality is, where there is no margin, there is no mission. We need to raise money.

Wendi has started a team, Wendi’s Walkers. Please consider joining our team and making a donation to help release children from poverty through a Christ-centered program. You can find out more here.

We also have been talking to businesses for donations/gift cards/gift baskets for the day of the event, and they have been very responsive. But, we need individuals or businesses who are willing to Step Up and be sponsors of the event.

If you want to be a sponsor, then please contact me. Leave a comment for me to contact you or reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, my cell phone or via text. Thanks for considering being a sponsor. If you are not in a position to be a sponsor, you can still pray we find some and that the event is successful. Thanks so much.

Here is a map of where the walk will be.

Which app is for you? Starcher’s Steller story

Dan Starcher, a staff photographer at The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio, is always looking out for new ways to present stories, photos and multimedia content.


Starcher stumbled onto Steller, which allows for the seamless integration of words, graphics, photographs and videos, to tell a story.

Right now, stories can only be created on Steller via an iPhone app available in the App Store. I am hoping Steller will soon offer its app to Android users.

While I cannot share with you a Steller story of my own creation, I can share Starcher’s first foray into the feature-rich Steller.


20-plus years too long between Mass shows

My sister, Michelle, introduced me to Mass, a band from Revere, Mass., back in the mid- to late-1980s. I immediately like their melodic rock sound.

The rock group Mass performs in Malden, Mass.

The rock group Mass performs in Malden, Mass.

At the time, I was living in Daytona Beach, Fla. I believe at the time, I owned the vinyl record of the band’s “New Birth” album. I gave it to a friend in Daytona, who was also from Massachusetts. I never saw the album again.

I ended up finding a cassette version of “New Birth.” While home in Revere one year, I was able to pick up the EP “Take You Home” and the full-length CD, “Voices in the Night.” Then, after that, I did not hear much from the band.

On one of my trips home, I caught the band in concert at a small club in Rowley, Mass. The lead singer, Louis St. August, seemed almost apologetic the band was not playing larger venues.

Still, I did not care. I got to hear one of my favorite bands in a small, intimate setting, an environment I much prefer.

I don’t know exactly when the concert was, but it had to be sometime before the summer of 1993, when I moved to Cincinnati.

That was the last time I saw the band perform live until this trip. Every time I came to Massachusetts, I always wanted to know if Mass was playing somewhere. Usually, I would get into town a couple of weeks after they performed or a few weeks beforehand.

But, that changed. In January, I requested my vacation for the week of May 31-June 6, not knowing Mass would be performing on May 30, 2015. My wife, Wendi and I flew into Boston on Saturday morning, and Saturday night we were listening to Mass. Not bad.

I hope it is not another 20 years before I see Mass again.

Here is the setlist from the concert (Mass played two covers, Kashmir and Baba O’Riley, the original songs by the original artists are included in the set list):

#004 The Shelmar Opry Podcast

Dan Starcher, a staff photographer for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio, is always messing around with the cameras, video cameras and audio equipment. He loves gadgets. Dan’s latest adventure is recording audio.

Dan Starcher serves as guest host of the Zest for Life Podcast and interviews Bobby Warren.

Dan Starcher serves as guest host of the Zest for Life Podcast and interviews Bobby Warren. Photo by Steven F. Huszai

Dan purchased an Olympus PCM Linear recorder, which is designed to capture live music. While he will be sharing live music in the future, we decided we would do a podcast.

I had just written a story about a group of musicians who assemble every Thursday in the Shelmar Mobile Home Park in Wooster and jam, opry style. In fact, someone made Virgil Briggs a sign that reads: The Shelmar Opry.

While I was shooting video, taking photographs and working on the story, Virgil made it known I played bass guitar. So, Beverly Carathers, the group’s bassist, asked me to play on a couple of songs.

I had a fun time at The Shelmar Opry (you can see the videos I shot here), and I had fun being interviewed by Dan. Normally, I serve as host of The Zest for Life podcast, but this week I took a back seat to Dan, who ran the show.

Give it a listen below. (If you are reading this post from The Z Section homepage, you will need to view the individual post to listen to the podcast, you can click on the title above or click here.)

Testing out live blogging plugin

I am checking out 24liveblog’s WordPress plugin for live blogging. We shall see how it goes.


‘Wash me, Savior, or I die’

By Thomas Doohan

“Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.”


Thomas at Jail

Thomas Doohan listens to Wayne County Sheriff Thomas Hutchinson as he speaks about restoration.

Those words from Augustus M. Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages,” are pretty much all I can remember of my trip to the Wayne County Jail with my colleague Bobby Warren on April 11, 2015.

Bobby is a member of Parkview Christian Church and on that April day he was filling in for his friend, Jeff Terwilliger, who heads up the congregation’s prison ministry.

Apparently, Jeff was unable to lead that weekend, and Bobby stepped up. He was tasked with bringing the word to the jail and sharing with those wanted to hear it.

On Friday, Bobby asked me to come along and I did, for which I’m glad. It was an honor to listen to him preach and to hear my friend share what is so clearly the passion of his life — the Gospel.

Bobby’s preaching was rich, the worship was fine and it was a gift to be asked partner in the work Parkview is doing in the jail. I won’t soon forget it.

I was asked to handle prayer requests from the inmates and to pray for them. But, I have to say, beyond that I don’t remember many details from the morning other than the words of the song running through my head.

As Bobby preached, the words kept ringing in my head, and I started thinking of who I was and who the inmates were.

The inmates listening to Bobby were in a low spot. Gathered in three separate groups (men who were in jail; women who were in jail; and men who were being transferred to prison), they were all dressed in colored jumpsuits and orange, plastic Croc-like sandals. Deputies stood in the back of the gym, listening to Bobby and watching the inmates.

From what I could tell, things were easier for our crew. I am pretty sure we all picked out our own clothes that morning. We chose to be there and nobody was watching our actions. They were in bondage, and we were free.

Despite our stark differences, the words of “Rock of Ages” reminded me everyone in that room was the same: Broken.

I was reminded that in front of a perfect God, all is stripped away. Jumpsuit or button-down, it doesn’t matter, man’s filth is exposed in front of God. Naked, in front of the Lord, with nothing to offer, we can only ask for his cross, his clothing and his grace.

“Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

This guest blog is by Thomas Doohan, a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio.

Reliving Boston Marathon Memories (Re-Post)

April 19, 2013, was the last time I uploaded a blog entry to The Z Section. It was around the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. At the time, whatever I had to say did not seem important.

So, The Z Section went silent, and remained silent until now.

Finish Line

The motivation to begin again was the new year. You know, new year, new things, set goals, make resolutions, and change. New year = blank page. Go for it.

What’s kind of ironic is that in December, my wife, Wendi, and me went to Boston area to visit my side of the family. On one of our trips into the city, we ended up at Copley Square, the site of the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When we got there, Wendi said, “I bet you want to get in the middle of the street and take a photo.”

Of course, she was right. She always is.

I took the photo you see above, and then we said a short prayer. Normally, the finish line would have been cleaned from the road’s surface, but a decision was made to leave it.

When I started this blog, I was all over the place. I wrote about leadership, technology, faith, social media, family and other things.

However, when I originally started a blog called The Z Section, is was a take on newspaper sections. Since 1988, I have been a journalist. When I first started the blog, which was hosted on a blogging site, it was designed to be a place where I could empty out my reporter’s notebooks, so to speak.

Whenever I am at an event or an interview, I always take down more notes and quotes than what appears in the news stories in The Daily Record, where I write. Some of it is interesting stuff, but just does not fit in the story I am writing at the time.

As I embark, again, on this blog, I feel compelled to return to the original intent. As a blogger, you want to offer readers something they cannot get anywhere else, and the notes in my notebook fit the bill.

Thanks for joining me, again.

Originally published Jan. 2, 2014


This past March, I had the honor of receiving a fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists to study health care reporting at the group’s annual conference. This year, it was in Boston.


I had the opportunity to attend a presentation in which Seth Mnookin shared insights into how to turn complex topics into compelling stories. Here is one of the things I wrote down:

Seth says to think of what you write as a detective story. Tension and drama is not what happens, but how you get there.

I was shocked to learn this morning on Twitter how Mnookin became intricately tied to the events unfolding at MIT and Watertown, Mass., late Thursday/early Friday involving the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

I was so intrigued by Mnookin’s adventure on Twitter that I wanted to capture it. You can read it here (via Storify):

Originally published  April 29, 2013

A Look at Linda Hall’s Saturday, You Won’t Believe It

There is no telling what will happen when The Daily Record reporter Linda Hall is assigned to work the weekend.

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