The Great Writing Challenge


Despite what anyone under the age of 25 will tell you, writing is still alive and well in the world. Social media, through no fault of its own, has boiled language down to the verbal equivelent to grunts, moans, hand gestures and hyroglyphics. However, there are still more needs for sharpened written skills than people would make you believe. The problem is that people aren’t flexing those muscles. If the average American texts about 94 times a day, and the average teen uses Snapchat 40+ minutes a day, it is easy to see why writing proficiency is on a sharp decline.

So, what if there was an fun and interesting way of getting people to write? The makers of The Most Dangerous Writing App are testing that concept with a videogame-like approach to getting people to write. With a simple screen the “player” must write for 5 minutes straight or the “lose”. It seems too simplistic to be enjoyable, I recognize, but just this simple 5-minute activity can increase higher level thinking, vocabulary, and mindfulness in the participant. Even writing this blog post I have taken about 7 minutes to write two paragraphs. My own cranial cobwebs need dusting in the area of writing.

The Most Dangerous App uses a game format to do something that people normally wouldn’t do—advance an intellectual inefficiency. People do not like to focus on things that they are not good at. They don’t like to be reminded that they can’t do something. Yet, with this app there it is easy to increase your writing fortitude just by playing a few times.

I’ve argued with many people that Snapchat isn’t a social media outlet, but that it is a videogame. The streaks that people have make them want to keep checking back to make sure they don’t “lose” it. This means that most people (especially those under the age of 25) are participating in Snapchat becuase of its “stickyness”. Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, writes about the Stickyness Factor:

“The Stickiness Factor is the quality that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept, or idea. Stickiness is hard to define, and its presence or absence often depends heavily on context. Often, the way that the Stickiness Factor is generated is unconventional, unexpected, and contrary to received wisdom.”

The makers of The Most Dangerous Writing App have given writing stickyness. They have used a modern context to bring enjoyment to writing. Try it out. See if you can write for 5 minutes straight. You will find that you are increasing your intellect as well as your emotional intelligence.

Varsity Soccer


Seth is having a great time playing soccer for West Des Moines Valley High School. It is a challenging program that asks the most out of its players. He has had to work hard and learn new methodologies, but it has been worth it in the end to see him play at Tiger Stadium and continue the rich tradition of excellence in their soccer program.

A New Road


I’m excited to see a new direction in the lives of people in this country. There will be a tipping point and I looked forward to experiencing it. Nothing ever stays they same. Like fields that feed millions, there are seasons that have to be experienced so that the next one with come. What will the fruit of this season be?

Top 10 Christmas Necessities


Christmas traditions for every family vary. Some people open presents on Christmas Eve, others on Christmas Day. Some families observe the Christmas Pickle tradition, others Secret Santa. Here at the Barker household we have a few traditions that we’ve picked up over the years that make Christmas very special to our family

  1. Sleep in: we don’t need to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to spend time together. It’s a long enough day as it is.
  2. Eat breakfast first. We always have a very special breakfast made by Karla that gets everyone warm in the heart and belly.
  3. Pajamas: we all sit around the Christmas tree in our pjs. Slippers, hats and robes are a-plenty
  4. Seth the Christmas elf: Seth always hands out the gifts. Maybe it just gives him something to do
  5. Youngest goes first: we open our gifts youngest to oldest (again, giving Seth something to do)
  6. Slow opens: with just four of us, we try to take our time opening gifts. We talk, share stories and laugh about Christmas debacles past.
  7. Clean as you go: I had to learn this from Karla, but we put the wrappings in the garbage bags (prepped and ready) as we unwrap each gift.
  8. Santa gift: we have one gift each year that comes from Santa for the kids. It’s usually the “wow” gift of the lot. This is when the picture is taken.
  9. No pictures, but one: we aren’t a photo-capturing family. Karla and I never got into photography, selfies or family Christmas photos. So, we usually take 2-3 pics tops of the event. Mostly it is of the Santa gift so we remember not to buy the same thing next year!
  10. Hugs: we end every Christmas with huge loving hugs, thanking everyone who got us a gift.

These are probably not like your traditions, but I’m glad. Your traditions are yours because of the time and energy you have spent making them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some stockings to stuff!

Obituary for Terry Norman Taylor


Terry N. Taylor, 71, of Clinton, Iowa passed away at home on Monday, December 24, 2018. Honoring his wishes, cremation rites will be accorded with a Memorial service occurring at 1 pm on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at Lemke Funeral Homes – South Chapel (2610 Manufacturing Drive). A visitation will occur 2 hours prior from 11 am until the service hour on Saturday. Private burial will take place at a later date. Lemke Funeral Homes assisted the family with arrangements.

Terry was born July 21, 1947 in Clinton, Iowa the son of Hudson and Maxine (Jordan) Taylor. He was a graduate of Fulton High School. Terry was united in marriage to Barbara Hilligoss on September 18, 1981.

Terry worked as a line operator at Case IH, retiring after 30 years. Following retirement, he worked in maintenance services at the First Baptist Church, East Moline, Illinois. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Freemasons.

Terry loved fishing, whether it was fishing locally or on fishing trips to various states. Terry was a collector, whether he was collecting coins using his metal detector, adding to his coin collection, or collecting sports cards. He loved going to coin and card conventions. Above all, he loved his family very much and will be greatly missed.

Terry is survived by his daughter – Dianne (Dan) Percy of Thomson, IL; sons – Terry (Sonya Dawson) Taylor and Joe (Becci Peterson) Taylor both of Clinton; sister – Nadine Klotz of Zephyr Hills FL; Uncle Phillip Jordan of Clinton; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; with several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Preceding Terry in death were his parents, his wife Barbara and sister Joyce.

The Duke


Not many young people know who John Wayne is anymore, but I remember watching television with my grandpa (Pop) and seeing The Duke in action. I think back now and realize that he wasn’t really a good actor. He played the same person is most, if not all of his roles. The reason I believe he was popular is his believable nature. I could see a person like him being a cowboy are a war hero.

This weekend Karla and I were in Winterset, IA. We drove pass the John Wayne Museum, which was easy to do since it isn’t that big. The statue was (seen above) was outside standing just as tall and ominous at Wayne was himself. It made me think back to different times. Times when heroes were easy to spot and people long to fight against evil. John Wayne had a little bit to do with that.

Audubon, IA


I came across this guy in Audubon (pronounced “Ah-duh-bin”) this last weekend. I had to pull over and take his picture. I didn’t know that Albert was such a celebrity. I later found out that he has been featured in a Super Bowl commercial from Cenex. I didn’t know he was so famous. Just one more reason to stop in a small town and enjoy the sites.