Tag Archive for Ideas

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.

wendi_bobby

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

Are Elections the Best Form of Term Limits?

State Sen. Frank LaRose, a Republican from Copley, Ohio, who represents the 27th District, recently visited The Daily Record to discuss some issues he has been working on. One of them is redistricting reform, which he wants to see passed. (You can read the story on The Daily Record website here.)

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

“The best term limit is a competitive election,” LaRose said. Some suggest term limits take away power from the voter, he added.

LaRose’s answer is to fix redistricting.

When there are term limits, there will be a lack of experience. “It takes awhile to get up to speed,” LaRose said.

With term limits, LaRose said he believes lobbyists, staff and bureaucrats will likely have increased power.

Also, term limits can give more power to the executive branch, LaRose said. Elected officials who have been around for awhile might be a little bolder in standing up to the governor, LaRose said.

Another thing LaRose would like to see is online voter registration.

“There’s no reason we can’t do it online,” he said.

Keep up to date with LaRose on his website, Facebook or Twitter.

A True Classic from the Halls of Atheism, You Won’t Believe This

In a piece on RawStory.com, David Edwards writes this: Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical particle that bears his name as the “God particle.”

Theoretical

This is classic. I say print it out and frame it. This is one for the ages.

Let me see if I understand this correctly: A scientist with a theoretical particle named after him claims there is no God, therefore, do not call his theoretical particle, that I assume does not exist, after a God he believes does not exist.

File this under the heading: You can’t make this stuff up.

I might need to break open one of those big city dictionary’s, but am I right in thinking “theoretical” does not mean “actual.” Wait a second, let me check the interwebs.

The truth of the matter, even though I have faith that God exists, and even though I believe there is strong evidence that points to a transcendent Creator, both Prof. Higgs and I are two sides of the same coin: We both accept our views in faith.

Even Richard Dawkins, a staunch atheist who vigorously attacks Christianity and world religions, holds out the remotest possibility, though, admittedly not much, there might be a God.

Look, I am not a scientist, and I don’t play one on television (though I did play Doc Burton in a high school production of “Cheaper by the Dozen”), but there are questions science has yet to answer for me, and most likely others.

How did sexual reproduction start? How in the world did an organism who never engaged in sexual reproduction and had absolutely no history with it realize it could happen?

If the odds were astronomical that nonlife could become life, how is it that it happened repeatedly and how was it that there ended up being a male and a female organism in the same proximity that this type of union could happen?

Then, there is always the fact no one was around to observe how the universe or life began, so that makes us all speculators at best.

Then, there is this: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1, NIV).

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 One’s Voice?

When I knew I wanted to be a writer back in the ’80s, I read a Writer’s Digest article that offered a simple path: Get an apartment in New York City, place a typewriter on your kitchen table, sit down and start writing. When you get up in 10 years, you will be a writer.

Microphone.jpg

Well, I did not get an apartment in New York and opted for a dedicated word processor (I believe it was an Amstrad sold by Sears) in 1986 and a few years later an IBM-clone. Wouldn’t you know, in about 10 years I finally got the sense that maybe I could write.

Another way of looking at this is that it took 10 years for me to find my voice in writing.

Since December 2012, I have been blogging regularly, and it is mildly discouraging that I have found neither a voice for my blogging nor my blog.

The Z Section is supposed to be about anything. I fought the urge to “specialize” and focus on a niche to give me the freedom to write about whatever caught my attention. What I have discovered is anything can be anything and sometimes anything can be too daunting so anything becomes nothing.

Will I specialize? Will I focus on a niche? Truthfully, I am not sure.

But, here is what I know:

  • I have varied interests.
  • These interests include my Christian faith,
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Family,
  • Technology,
  • Smartphones,
  • Tablets,
  • Computers,
  • Social media,
  • Leadership principles,
  • Journalism,
  • Blogging,
  • Writing,
  • Pets, and
  • so much more.

The thing is, down the road I want to write books, and I want them to focus on potential material for Sunday school classes. However, as I look over this blog, admittedly about anything, I find very little that point toward that direction.

So, you can expect more regarding faith and how it intersects with all of those things above. Perhaps there I will find my voice.

I hope it doesn’t take 10 years.

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 Interconnectedness of All Things, Including This

I have an ability to see connections, even when others do not. I tend to apply meaning to these connections.

Interconnectedness.jpg

I find it fascinating how seemingly disparate elements can find commonality. Take for example, my recent trip to the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Boston.

Even though I am a journalist who talks to people, and many strangers, every day, perform magic in front of audiences, play bass guitar in the band at church and preached for nearly nine years, at heart, I am an introvert. I found myself at a reception during the conference, and after making some small talk with a small group, I walked away, not quite sure where to go or what to do.

It had been a long day, and I was starving. I found some cheeseburger sliders (I didn’t ask if they were made with Certified Angus Beef ground beef) and just stood there looking at the packed room wondering where to go.

I spotted an open seat. At the table were all African-American women, and here I was a white man. So, I walked up, asked if anyone was sitting there and whether they minded if I joined them. I was informed no one was sitting there, and they welcomed me into their company.

Come to find out, one of the ladies was from Little Rock, Ark., and knew the area where I lived. Another one was a graduate of the Ohio State University, so we had a connection to the Buckeye State (this blog originates from Northeast Ohio). I believe another was from Georgia, and my father’s family hails from that state.

We had a great time, and we laughed. We came from different parts of the country, grew up at different times, lived through different experiences, but for a short time on one night, we came together and bonded as a single group.

Was there any meaning to our meeting? The Bible talks about how all of us are created in God’s image, and how God put eternity in our hearts. Perhaps if we can get beyond our external differences, then we can connect on a deeper level.

What do you think? You are, after all, reading this, and it cannot be a coincidence.

This Democrat Wants a New Way Forward for Health Care

David Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network, provided a stark contrast about what the future of health care can be in this country during Health Journalism 2013, this year’s conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists, which wraps up today at the World Trade Center Boston.

David Goldhill

David Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network, speaks to an attendee of the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference at the World Trade Center Boston.

Goldhill’s experience with America’s health care system has not always been a pleasant one. He spoke candidly about how it killed his father and about a difficult ordeal with his son. (He writes about his father in this book: Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father–and How We Can Fix It. Copies of the book were made available at no cost to guests of the conference.)

Below, you can listen to the audio of his talk to the AHCJ group during a luncheon Saturday. The quality is not the best. It was recorded on an HTC ThunderBolt phone.

You can read about Goldhill’s talk in this story here by Grace Rubenstein, who is attending the conference on an AHCJ-Rural Health Fellowship made possible by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. (I, too, am attending the conference on an AHCJ-Rural Health Fellowship.)

Are You Sacrificing Your Core for the Elusive Cutting Edge?

As I boarded a flight at the Akron-Canton Airport for Boston to attend the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference, I brought with me my trusty Kindle Fire HD.

Old school notebook

‘I sat there for a long time unable to read anything. Then I pulled out a small notebook and a pen and started to write this blog post!’

I have so many books on it, ranging from The Story Template, Simply Jesus, Click Millionaires, Necessary Endings, EntreLeadership, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Princess Grace, How to Deliver a TED Talk, APE: Author, Publisher, Editor and others, it was tough deciding which would I would read on the two-hour flight.

I finally settled on Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright.

I sat down and started reading the book. I highlighted a passage I found to be particularly profound about how the teachings and sayings of Jesus made sense to some people who considered him the messiah, while those same words led others to want to assassinate him.

As I was typing in my note, the flight attendant repeated herself several times informing me and everyone else on the airplane to turn off all electronic devices and stow them away.

It seemed like it took me forever to write a very short note (I was in such a hurry I didn’t even capitalize Jesus and feel bad about it now), but I managed to get it recorded. I shut off the Kindle and settled in for the flight.

Before we could take off, the plane needed to be de-iced. It turned out to be about a 15-minute process. I sat there with my amazing and incredible Kindle (I really do love the device, you can see what I mean here, here, here and here, and if you are really ambitious, here) tucked under my left arm, and I waited and waited and waited for the plane to be de-iced so we could taxi down the runway, take off from the airport and reach a high-enough altitude so I could turn on my amazing and incredible Kindle.

I happened to notice a guy sitting across the aisle one row up who was reading The Wall Street Journal. I immediately thought he never has to fold up his newspaper and lay it down. Altitude means nothing to a newspaper reader on an airplane.

The lady next to me was involved in completing word searches printed in one of those magazines you would find in a dollar store.

The man to immediate right across the aisle was utilizing some old-school technology: He was reading a traditional paperback book.

Their encounters with the written word proceeded uninterrupted during the de-icing process. I, however, was not so fortunate.

I sat there, Kindle still clutched under my arm, and thought about how sometimes we are too quick to discard yesterday’s technologies, yesterday’s devices and yesterday’s ideas for new things that might relatively unknown, unproven and untested.

However, those old things served our parents and grandparents well. They were able to accomplish great things without computers, GPS units, smartphones, smart TVs, the Internet, Wi-Fi, Mi-Fi, Eye-Fi or Re-Fi (OK, maybe they needed Re-Fi).

As I sat on the airplane thinking about all of this, I pondered this question: Are we sacrificing our core for the elusive cutting edge?

I sat there for a long time unable to read anything. Then I pulled out a small notebook and a pen and started to write this blog post!

 

Oh, Powerful Oz, it Pays to Know and Deal With Your Limitations

I have been fascinated with magic since a friend’s father showed me a couple of tricks. For a pre-teen boy, those two effects blew my mind away. For me, magic always represents possibilities: Anything can happen.

My wife, Wendi, and I recently went to see “Oz The Great and Powerful,” a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” I haven’t read any reviews, but I heard they have not been kind. I don’t know why. I found it to be a wonderful story with excellent cinematography and photography. It was funny, corny, hokey, touching and inspiring.

In the movie, James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, aka Oz, a carnival magician. He is performing in Kansas. He wants people to believe he can do great and powerful things and that he has magical powers. However, when a little girl in a wheelchair asks him to just make her walk again, a not-so-great-and-powerful Oz struggles about how to respond to the challenge.

Because Oz wanted people to think of him as great and powerful (“Kansas is full of good men; I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great one”), he could not admit to the girl his limitations. One gets a sense he wishes he could and he probably feels a bit impotent, but his response upsets the family and the audience.

One of the teachings Stuart Mykrantz, an Air Force veteran who once worked for NATO, lives by is “Mess up, fess up.” I sat there thinking, if Oz would have only explained the limitations of his powers at the beginning, then everything would have been OK. But, he couldn’t and didn’t.

When Oz escapes from the strongman at the carnival (the strongman did not like him getting together with his girl), he rides off in a hot air balloon as a tornado is coming in. He gets caught up in the twister and is carried off to Oz, a far-away land. There, he discovers he is the great wizard who will fulfill a prophecy and free the people.

As the story unfolds, some of Oz’s talents at sleight of hand and as a con man help get him out of situations, which positions him to be scene as this great and powerful wizard. However, as the moment nears when he has to summon up strength and power he has never known to this point in his life to beat the wicked witch, Oz finally fesses up: He cannot do because he is just a carnival magician.

Once Oz acknowledges the limitations of his abilities, it is sort of freeing. He doesn’t have to pretend and put on a show; he was relieved of a burden that allowed for him to think of a way to overcome the wicked witch by combining the ordinary talents he did possess and use them in an extraordinary way … with the help of others.

I understand this is just a movie, but I also think it teaches an important fact: We need to know what our limitations are and acknowledge them. When we do, then perhaps it will open up opportunities to utilize what we do have to overcome the obstacles before us.

Enjoy the Oz trailers below, and if you are thinking of taking your children, Common Sense Media says it is “considerably darker and more intense than The Wizard of Oz.” But, it also notes, “On the bright side, the movie offers a lasting lesson about how teamwork and friendship between unlikely allies can overcome obstacles and how a person’s legacy lives on in people’s hearts and minds.”