There's a line in "House of Cards" that's my favorite of the series.
It's not much. Just two words at the end of season 5’s last episode. They're powerful and slightly “out of character” for the character who says them.
After supporting his evil schemes and being a player in his story for years, Claire Underwood ignores a phone call from her disgraced husband, former U.S. President Frank Underwood. Breaking the fourth wall, Claire looks up to the camera, speaking directly to the audience, and says, “My turn.”
While I take the reins this week, penning our “family during COVID-19” reflections, I'm reminded of Claire’s line and how ominous it feels right now. The next season of "Cards" was arguably the worst. My thought this week was, “Does this mean that, like season 6 of 'Cards,' my attempt at The Earnheardts will suck?”
I hope not.
And, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of time to worry about how my writing stacks up to Mary Beth’s. This is because I'm concerned about something much more important. One of our kids tested positive for coronavirus.
Read the rest in Mahoning Matters at https://www.mahoningmatters.com/community-columns/the-earnheardts-covid-19-reaches-the-earnheardts-3356210
Today marks the end of a journey of sorts. It’s a journey we’ve been on together for 6 1/2 years.
In 2014, I started writing for The Vindicator under the guidance of former editor-in-chief Todd Franko. He envisioned a weekly column that explored the connections we make with family and friends through technology. He asked me to write a few sample columns and, after some coaching, we embarked on this adventure.
Nearly 350 Sunday columns later, we did just that. Often using social media as a compass, we explored the technological links we maintain and cultivate with our communities. The column was aptly named Connected.
Thanks to the kindness of people like Brenda Linert (our fearless editor-in-chief) and Burton Cole (our talented lifestyles editor), we were able to keep the adventure going until today. Now other adventures require more of my attention, and it’s time to step aside from this one.
Since the beginning, the focus has always been on how we use technology to enhance, not necessarily hinder, our personal and professional lives. In fact, it was in the first column where I asked readers to reflect on the ways we use social media to brand ourselves.
Read more at https://www.vindy.com/life/lifestyles/2021/01/after-350-sundays-its-time-to-cut-connection/ (may encounter a paywall)
Spotify playlists are letters to my children
Unable to catch my breath, I laid with my back on the wood planks of our attic floor. I remember Elton John’s “Your Song” echoed in the background. Air slowly came back to my lungs. It felt like hours before I could breathe deeply again.
It was June 2005 and I was about to embark on two major life changes. I was starting a new job and, more importantly, our first baby was due at any moment.
I chalked up the episode to a panic attack. Stress was never a big deal for me, but it seemed the only logical explanation.
I later found out I nearly died on that floor. With two 100 percent blockages, a few smaller blockages, massive cholesterol problems and skyrocketing blood pressure, I probably should have died. The heart surgeon said as much as he chiseled through one clog to place a stent, noting that the other blockage healed itself with collateral arteries.
I now take a complex cocktail of heart medications each day to keep death at bay.
Read more at https://www.vindy.com/life/lifestyles/2020/12/spotify-playlists-are-letters-to-my-children/ (may encounter paywall).
Learn to manage Zoom fatigue
A cacophony of voices fills my home during most workdays. The sound is best described as a busy airline terminal where everyone is speaking at the same time, their voices muffled with an all-too-familiar technological tinniness.
My 8-year-old is in a Google Classroom session. The 10-year-old is on FaceTime. The 13-year-old is on Zoom. I’m lucky when my oldest daughter and my wife find headphones for their video calls.
I feel like I’m conducting a video conference choir.
If you know this sound, you’re probably know it best from the endless Zoom meetings we’ve attended since the start of the pandemic.
It’s not as though these are the first video conferences we’ve attended. But when the entire day is filled with Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, the ringing in our ears can only be attributed to video conference overload.
Read more at https://www.vindy.com/life/lifestyles/2020/12/learn-how-to-manage-fatigue-from-zoom/ (may encounter paywall).
Looking Back on the 2020 Dumpster Fire
2020 will forever be known as a year of change.
Whether or not the term “change” will be put in proper context by historians long after we’re gone, we’ll never know. So it’s up to us to add our own hot takes on this topsy-turvy time in hopes that they’ll properly cite our reflections later.
So as we hesitantly roll to Jan. 1, as we reflect on the dumpster fire of the last 10 months, do we see the glass as half full? Or is it half empty? Or can we just dump out the whole glass and forget this ever happened?
Of course, the answer is no. Our history is our shared history, and it’s full of an eclectic collection of perspectives.
As painful as they sometimes are, we celebrate some changes, honor others, but relive them together.
These days, we’re reliving them on social media.
We’ll remember some good changes and some bad. We’ll talk with friends later in later years about how bad life was, but because of changes brought on by 2020, how better life is today.
When something undoubtedly bad happens in the future, we’ll go to social media and post, “Yeah, but this isn’t nearly as bad as 2020.”
Read more at https://www.vindy.com/life/lifestyles/2020/12/time-to-reflect-on-the-dumpster-fire-of-2020/ (may encounter paywall).
This column first appeared in The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on December 6, 2020:
...Creators of these modern-day telethons have learned a lot from Jerry Lewis and past MDA Telethons. I had the opportunity to see one play out online last week, with the bevy of YouTube stars and gamers who gathered to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Just as my sister and I anticipated the MDA Telethon, my children had the date for this particular “telethon” circled on a calendar that hangs from our refrigerator door. Of course, I had no idea what it was, but if it was important enough to add to the family calendar, I thought “opportunity to engage in a conversation with my kids.”
It featured the co-founder couple of the popular YouTube channel “Game Theory,” Matthew “MatPat” Patrick and Stephanie Patrick. Like Lewis did over four decades of the MDA Telethon, the Patricks served as co-hosts for the 10-hour marathon, sharing stories and encouraging their audience to give.
Read the rest of this column at https://www.vindy.com/life/lifestyles/2020/12/giving-takes-a-new-form-but-still-exciting/ (may encounter paywall).
Making The Case For Giving Tuesday
This column first appeared in The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on November 29, 2020:
This year, it starts with a small family Thanksgiving.
Although I love seeing my extended family, there’s something special this year about not having to cook and clean up after a small army. I’m hopeful we’ll be back together next year, all vaccinated and COVID-19-free.
This year, we’ll check Black Friday deals from a distance, and shop our favorite local spots on Small Business Saturday.
Sunday, we’ll rest before scrolling for Cyber Monday deals.
While all of this family time and shopping is exhausting, I often wonder if the importance in which we’ve ordered our annual spending spree is somehow backward...
Read the rest of this column at https://www.tribtoday.com/life/lifecovers/2020/11/making-case-for-giving-tuesday/ (may encounter paywall).
We Can All Use Some 'Common Sense'
This column first appeared in The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on November 22, 2020:
Raising four kids is tough.
Raising four kids in an age of constant access to a flurry of media content is impossible. Or at least it feels that way some days.
I liken it to a day at the beach. Saying those words “day at the beach” should conjure images of sun and fun, sand and water, a good book under an umbrella, with an adult beverage nearby. When I’m alone or with my wife at the beach, it’s the ultimate picture of relaxation.
As we head into colder weather, as the pandemic raging on, I suspect many of us are having dreams of relaxing beach vacations.
However, most parents will tell you that a day at the beach is anything but relaxing. You’re on constant patrol, slathering protective sun screen on your kids, standing in ankle-deep water while your kids play wannabe surfers trying to catch a “killer” (2-foot high) wave while you’re scanning the sea for fins like its Shark Week on the Discovery Channel...
Read the rest of this column at https://www.tribtoday.com/life/lifecovers/2020/11/we-can-all-use-some-more-common-sense/ (may encounter paywall).
This column first appeared in The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on November 15, 2020:
Teachers are amazing and adaptable humans.
They’ve prepared, as best they can, for the uncertainties of each new school day. Most prepared by going to college to learn modern teaching strategies, pedagogical techniques and how to make engaging lesson plans.
However, while the teachers are well-equipped, the classrooms are often not. Some just don’t have the supplies necessary to give students the best shot at learning.
Teachers ask for supplies. When requests are denied, teachers turn to fundraising. The problem, of course, is that teachers are not fundraisers. Apparently, Fundraising 101 is not a required class when preparing for state teacher licensure exams.
Thankfully, others have stepped up. For some, it means voting to support levies to fund classroom needs. Some donate time and supplies. Others donate funds to schools through charitable organizations.
For example, actor Reese Witherspoon made headlines last week when she fully funded teacher projects through the website DonorsChoose.org. Her gift provided project funds for 17,000 students in Nashville...
Read the rest of this column at https://www.tribtoday.com/life/lifecovers/2020/11/teachers-are-amazing-and-adaptable-humans/ (may encounter paywall).
This column first appeared in The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on November 8, 2020:
My kids think I’m a genius.
In truth, I probably sound a lot smarter than I really am.
My “smart dad” charade has been tested lately. Like many parents, I’m forced to be a pseudo-homeschool teacher’s assistant, answering endless questions about second-grade social studies, fifth-grade science and seventh-grade math.
Some of the questions I get make Common Core look like, well, the ABC’s.
I’m thankful our 10th-grader learned long ago that, no, Dad is not “smarter than a fifth-grader.” She’s a very perceptive 15-year-old...
Read the rest of this column at https://www.tribtoday.com/life/lifecovers/2020/11/help-keep-wikipedia-free-so-we-can-be-smart/ (may encounter paywall).
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is special assistant to the provost and professor of communication in the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes on a variety of topics including communication technologies, relationships, and sports (with an emphasis on fandom). His work has appeared in Mahoning Matters as well as The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers.