Archive for General Info

What Would You Do Differently if You Knew Today Was Your Last on Earth?

Guest blog by Wendi Warren

Maybe because I’m growing older or because I’m hearing about people my age who have died suddenly, the thought of cherishing each day has become something that I have been thinking about lately, a lot.

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Wendi and Bobby

After hearing of the sudden stroke of Aldo Colombini, a magician friend of Bobby’s, and then his death four short days later, it struck me again about how we never really know how much time we have. I talked with Bobby about what we would do differently if we knew when our last day on earth would be. He said, “That’s your next song: ‘If We Knew.’”

I am by no means a lyricist. I have written lyrics before and asked my sister, Randi, to put them to music. One in particular was for my dad a couple of Christmases ago called “Sharp Stick in the Eye” (the video appears at the bottom of this post). But I’m sure I’ll never win a grammy.

However, I do enjoy writing and haven’t done that much of it lately, so I thought I’d give it a shot. What came out was not lyrics to a song, but more of poem. I tried to capture that what we think is so important may not really be the case, if we knew — really knew — that today was the last day that we had. The poem appears below.

If We Knew
If we knew there’d be no tomorrow,
If today was all we had,
Would we allow bitterness and sorrow
To grow and make us feel so bad?

Would we leave things left unsaid
That show people that we care?
Wouldn’t we rather bear our hearts
Letting them know we’re glad they’re near?

Would the important seem more urgent;
And the urgent seem less so;
Would we do the things that matter
And let the things that don’t just go?

Would the dishes and the laundry
Consume our precious time,
Or would spending it with those we love
Become more vital in our mind?

Would criticism and complaining
Matter more to us
Than forgiveness and maintaining
A level of healthy trust?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for us
To spend the time that we’ve been given
Cherishing the ones we love so much
And make our lives worth living?

Yes, if we knew that today was
The last day on this earth,
The present would seem more like a gift
Than gold and all it’s worth.

So even if we have more years
To spend upon this globe,
It makes sense to enjoy life now,
Because we never really know.

Wendi Warren, February 2014

Wooster Jam: Be There or Be Square This Saturday

I am getting excited about Saturday, which is when the 2013 version of the Wooster Jam will be held at the Wayne County fairgrounds.

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This is the third annual Wooster Jam, and it marks the third time I will be performing magic at the event. It is a neat event because it brings together a variety of artists, from visual to performing to musical. Whether its dancing, singing, film, art or poetry, the Wooster Jam has always brought together a diverse group.

Speaking of diversity, for the second year, the Wooster Jam, which runs from noon to 11 p.m., will be held in conjunction with the Wooster Ethnic Fair, so come out to the fairgrounds this Saturday and experience a variety of cultures, foods and arts.

To learn more about the Wooster Jam, please click here. For directions to the fairgrounds, click here. Visit the WE Fair Facebook page here.

Are You Headed in the Right Direction

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Proverbs 14:12, NIV

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I love the Tom Cochrane song, “Life is a Highway.” It is a fun, upbeat tune. I admit, I am one who does not get caught up in lyrics, unless it is a Christian song. So, don’t ask me what the song by Cochrane really means, but I will tell you want it means to me:

Life is an open book, and we can take ours wherever we want to.

We have the opportunity to strive for greatness or wallow in complacency. We can choose to do good or no good at all. It is up to us.

As for where we find direction, there is no lack of influences: Parents, preachers, friends, teachers, book, movies and bands. All of these can be positive influences, but not necessarily. People, even those with the best intentions, can fail and fall.

As it says in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Not everything is as it seems. We need to be careful and cautious.

For me, I have strayed off the straight and narrow, but a good guide for me has been God’s Word, the Bible. It helps me to stay on track. It has a lot of wonderful advice in it, and it leads us to heaven.

We’ll explore more tomorrow, but for now, enjoy Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway” on Spotify:

Or, on YouTube

Josh Krajcik Connects with Fan in a Deeply Personal Way (Updated)

The photo below tells me everything I need to know about Josh Krajcik, a singer-songwriter originally from Wooster, Ohio, who gained national attention with his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” at an audition for “The X Factor.”

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Josh Krajcik speaking with Ali Booth at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton.

I was in Canton on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, to shoot video for Krajcik’s performance and CD signing at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton. I was part of The Daily Record team there to cover the event. Living Editor Lydia Gehring was there to interview Krajcik and do a story; Dan Starcher was there taking photographs; and I was shooting video.

Krajcik had just finished his acoustic set and stepped outside for a little break before signing autographs for his fans. On his way back in, he stopped to talk to Ali Booth, who works as a cashier at the Best Buy. The two met earlier in the green room.

What impressed me, and why I wanted to take the photograph, was how Krajcik treated Booth with dignity. He got down on her level so the two would be eye-to-eye when they talked. He could have easily just stood there, towering above Booth, and made some idle chatter before excusing himself. But that is not what he did.

Jane Carmichael is a long-time friend of Krajcik’s mom, Lisa Pim. Earlier in the day, we spoke about Krajcik, the album and how he knows what he wants and is working toward that goal.

Despite the success on The X Factor (he was runner-up) and the record contract, Carmichael confidently proclaimed, “He will never change. Josh will never change.” The context was that fame is not going to change the humble Krajcik.

To see something as captured in the photo above, it makes you think Carmichael is onto something.

Updated info:

The videos below are from The Daily Record’s YouTube Channel, check out the 23 Krajcik videos there. You can check out Gehring’s story, along with photos from Starcher, here. To see another post on The Z Section regarding Krajcik, click here.

Here is a slideshow from the Canton event and videos follow.

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Enjoy Krajcik performing “Lost at Sea”:

Gehring’s interview with Krajcik, along with him performing his new single, “Back Where We Belong.”

Or, listen to Krajcik’s album on Spotify:

How do you Tackle Debt? One Bill at a Time

Guest Post by Beverly Hootman

“Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”

Col. 4:2b, The Message

Wendi with an Eye

We were at one time debt-free and only left with a mortgage.

What?! Yes, it is true. We went through a financial program, and it was free. We were diligent about getting things paid off, and we did it early.

Then … we decided we wanted to move from Ohio to Florida, and so we did. That is where a lot of our debt came from.

When my husband’s retirement ran out, we lived off of credit cards until he was able to get a full-time job. Why? Because we wanted what we wanted and we got it!

We also got a pile of debt in the process!

This year Dave Ramsey kept popping up all around us here and there. Then it was at church, of all places!

Every Sunday someone was reminding us about the Financial Peace University (FPU) class coming up in February. My husband and I kept saying, “We have gotten out of debt before and we will just keep with that plan; it was free.”

Then someone at church suggested we audit the class to see how it is different. It only took one class and we were hooked. Life has not been the same since.

The Results

  • We see the light at the end of the tunnel. Debt will be done and we will not be going back. That has lifted a weight off all our shoulders.
  • We are working together as a couple and tackling this mole hill. We are meeting weekly to discuss our budget and future expenses. We have discussed the necessary cutbacks with our children, to become debt free in the next two years.
  • Our children have now learned to hate debt. This pleases my mommy heart. Yes, learn from our mistakes little ones!!
  • We took all of last years bank statements and placed every transaction in a category.
  • We found our biggest problem area is food. Our grocery “budget” was $600-700 in reality it was $1,200-1,300.
  • Our eating-out “budget” was $0, but in reality it was $100-150. We solved this by using Dave Ramsey’s envelope system and not using a debit card.
  • We also plan meals for two weeks and go shopping in one big trip with only a milk and produce run in between.
  • I have been giving out snacks when dinner is running late and cooking it anyways, even if it means we eat at 7 o’clock at night. Last month we spent $900 for groceries and eating out!! It makes our goal of $700 feel reasonable.

Tax Return

  • First we built up our emergency fund to $1,000.
  • Then we paid off the lender with the smallest balance. Now we will throw that monthly payment onto the next lender with the smallest balance.
  • In January of this year we were looking at being debt-free by May of 2015. We are now looking at February of 2015 being debt-free. It is just a matter of throwing what we can when we can and knocking that debt down even faster.

So are you staying alert? Are you looking with things with wide eyes or narrow? Are you appreciating what you have and saving for the future?

About Beverly Hootman: I am just a girl who loves running after God and falls flat on her face doing it. I like being real and transparent, not sugar-coating life’s issues. I love my husband and the five children God has blessed us with. I stay at home and home-school our children. I enjoy my morning time with God, blaring music, dancing with my children and giving my husband a kiss goodnight.

The Dark Side of Debt Creditors Never Show You

Guest Post by Beverly Hootman

“… and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

Proverbs 22:7, NIV

Portofino Bay, Orlando, Fla.

How true and hurtful this statement really is!! Truth, my husband is working two jobs to make sure we pay our debt. One is a full-time position as a firefighter/paramedic and the second is part-time as a paramedic in an emergency room.

He works long hours and is away from home a lot. Most of the time when he is finished working a 24–hour shift at the fire department, he goes to the hospital and works a 12–hour shift. That leaves him only one day off, then he is back to work to do it all over again.

Hurtful … we miss him and he misses us! He is tired after that kind of shift, and all five of his children and his wife want a piece of him. Plus, everyone needs time to themselves, and he just doesn’t have any time left.

One of Merriam-Webster’s definition of slave is: one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence. We have made and chosen the lenders in our lives to be the dominating influence and that has come at a cost. Family time is spent cleaning because mommy is burnt out and needs help. Quality time is replaced with video games because daddy just needs to veg. Vacations are non-existent because we can not afford them. So who gets all of his time and money? Our lenders!

Long story short, from 2008 until now we have managed to rack up a approximately $61,000 in debt (not including our mortgage) and have paid it down to just under $19,000. I know that is great but at what cost? That $19,000 is still a heavy weight on our shoulders … all of our shoulders.

Our children have time and time again begged for daddy to stay home, but he can’t. They have asked to go places other people go, but we can’t. All of our money is going to our lenders.

So, you see, when you borrow money from a lender you are taking time away from your family, your friends and yourself.

Do we sit down and go, “Well this car is $400 a month. That means I have to work this many more hours for this. Oh, and I have to be away from friends and family for those hours. That vacation I have been wanting to take will wait. I will have to miss this thing and that thing. Oh, and, God, my morning time with you just got used up for sleep.”

Maybe if we started to look at the whole picture of who and what is affected, then we would look at that car, that blouse, that house a little more differently. We get so caught up in instant self gratification, desires and wants that we don’t look into tomorrow and beyond. We don’t look at how it affects our life and others … and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

So, when you pull out the credit card or sign on the dotted line have you thought about the whole cost?

About Beverly Hootman: I am just a girl who loves running after God and falls flat on her face doing it. I like being real and transparent, not sugar-coating life’s issues. I love my husband and the five children God has blessed us with. I stay at home and home-school our children. I enjoy my morning time with God, blaring music, dancing with my children and giving my husband a kiss goodnight.

How Does a Blogger Discover Other Voices?

Over the next few days, my voice on this blog will be quieted as others step to the forefront and share their stories.

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On Saturday, my wife, Wendi Warren, has a special message, and gift, to readers of The Z Section. We hope you like it. If you cannot wait until Saturday, you can get a head start and see what else Wendi has written on this special page about her book, “Princess Grace: A Tale of Faith, Hope & Love,” when you click here. My favorite post on The Z Section was written by Wendi. You will find it here.

On Monday, Beverly Hootman will be writing for The Z Section for the first time, and it will be her first blog post. Beverly has been on a quest to improve the financial standing of her family, and she will be sharing some of her thoughts. Early word is she has a lot to say and it might have to be published in more than one post. We shall see.

So, how does a blogger discover other voices? By listening.

As always, thank you for spending part of your day with The Z Section; I realize there are other things you can do.

Spring has Sprung in Ohio, on the Calendar, at Least

This was the scene from behind our house on Monday, the sixth day of Spring 2013 in Wooster, Ohio.

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The scene was beautiful, so breathtaking I had to get a few photographs of it before heading off onto the snow-covered streets to do some work.

Most of us are ready for spring weather to arrive, but what do you do when life hands you snow, the wet kind that is good for packing. Some around the area made snow men, one a snow bunny and another a fort.

I am confident spring will arrive, it is only a matter of time. When it does, me and everybody else will probably start complaining it is too hot. Such is life.

Enjoy the unexpected moments when you can.

If you want to see more photos from the Wooster area, click here.

 

MMA coming to Wooster Jam 2013 (Sorry, not that MMA)

It’s not Mixed Martial Arts, rather a blend of Music, Magic and Art coming to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster on April 13, and I will be providing the magic.

Wooster Jam Poster 2013-540

This is the third year for the Wooster Jam, an ambitious effort to blend music and the arts. This will be my third year performing magic at the event, and I was quite surprised to see my name on the official poster.

For the second year in a row, the event will be held in conjunction with the Wooster Ethnic Fair.

Here is a little about the event from the Wooster Jam website:

The Wooster Jam is an end-of-semester celebration of music and the arts, consisting of an array of individual artists and ensembles from a myriad of art forms and media.  The gathering will take place at the historic Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 13, using several distinct and non-traditional venues. One may hear an A Capella ensemble, the Ohio Light Opera, the Cedar Valley Cloggers and the best rock music on campus – all at different venues simultaneously.  The Jam is a unique fusion of language art sound motion music and interactivity.

We are looking for participation by Visual Artists, Installation Artists, Musicians, Media Artists, Light and Sound Artists, Theatre Artists, Poets, Sculptors, Performance Artists, Laser Artists, Magicians, Electronic Artists, Drummers, Video Makers, Filmmakers, Dancers, Floral Artists, Street Performers, Culinary Artists, Ceramicists, Sculptors, Fire Artists and more to participate in our art event!

We welcome your imagination and ideas.

The Wooster Jam is organized by the Wooster Jam Inc. Board of Director under the guidance of James Levin (founding director of Cleveland Public Theatre and Cleveland’s IngenuityFest). Further information about the Jam’s staff and history can be found on our website, listed below. “The Wooster Jam Festival is currently sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council and the J.M. Smucker Company.”

Official partners for Wooster Jam 2013 are WE Fair 2013, Wayne Center for the Arts &  120 Artist Co-op.

The Wooster Jam will take place from noon to 10 p.m. on April 13 (in collaboration with the Wooster Ethnic Fair during the afternoon).

The Wooster Jam will also have food and beverages on site from local vendors.

Hope to see you there!

The Z Section’s First Milestone: 100th Blog Post

This blog began in Dec. 19, 2012, and today, it is celebrating the century mark: This is The Z Section’s 100th blog post.

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I would have hit the mark a few days sooner, but a recent trip to Boston for a health journalism conference slowed me down a little bit. (The Association of Health Care Journalists conference was a great opportunity.)

To mark the milestone, I thought of where in the Bible could I find the number 100? Well, the Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms, so I figured I would go to Psalm 100. Come to find out, it is a psalm “for giving grateful praise.” Here it is (from the New International Version):

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2  Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have this blog and share my thoughts with people like you. Thank you for joining me here each week. I truly appreciate it. Let’s take a walk down memory lane together …

Here are the top posts:

1. The First Amendment, Right On

2. Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

3. A Tribute to the King of Pop, Rock and Agility

4. This Discover Card Commercial Is Funny, But Is it Effective?

5. Memories of Madison, A Loving Dog and Companion

6. Once Upon a Time: The Story Behind the Story

7. Spend a Day in These Kids’ Shoes, If You Can

8. ‘Bungee’ Jumping to 3.0 Soon

9. #002 Interview With Wendi Warren on her New Book [Podcast]

10. Five Things Madison Taught Me, I Thought You Should Know