If I Can Quit, Anyone Can

In June I developed a sore on my left forearm which eventually turned into what doctors called cellulitis. After a few days drinking some oral antibiotics which weren’t working, doctor said, “I’m putting you in the hospital and giving you the good stuff,” meaning the heavy-duty antibiotics via IV. On the second day doctor brought in another surgeon who I remember saying, “we’ve got to go a bit deeper.” That turned out to him making a ditch on my arm about 2-1/2 inches long and ½ inch wide. Have no idea how deep, but on a 1-10 pain scale, I graded that a 25.
Same second day, doctors asked me if I’d like to go on Chantix. I said no, as I’ve been a smoker for more than 60 years and had no notion of stopping now. Later that night, in between nurses taking my vitals every 20 minutes or so, I began to think more about it. Since I’ve been smoking my entire teenage and adult life, I really don’t know what it’s like “on the other side.” I started to wonder what it’d be like to eat a big meal and not have to finish it off with a cigarette. Since I have a bit of COPD, wonder how my breathing would be after non-smoking for a while. So, I said, okay, give me the Chantix, not knowing just how long I’d go without smoking.
I took the Chantix for a few days when I got home from the hospital, but thought it was upsetting my stomach a bit. I had already decided in my head that if I was going to “the other side,” it would have to be for some time, not just a few days. So, I quit the Chantix and went “cold turkey.” Several times when watching tv I’d reach over for a drag. But there wasn’t anything there, not even an ashtray, and I just said to myself, “Oh, I don’t do that anymore.”
So, here on January 3, June 28 was my last cigarette. Wife Carol joined me in this a couple of weeks later. We’ve had to re-learn a few things, like having a cup of coffee WITHOUT a cigarette.  Or going to a casino and sitting by smokers. Or watching people on tv light up. One of our favorite programs is Perry Mason on MeTV. Seems like Perry and Paul Drake and most every other character on almost every episode were smokers.
But it is amazing how little we get the urge. Every once in a while I think about lighting up, but it’s not that strong and I use the “Oh, I don’t do that anymore,” and go on with whatever I’m doing.
It really is hard to describe just how shocked I am at how this has gone. I began smoking when I was 13 because it was the “cool” thing to do. All my buds smoked and we could buy our Lucky Strikes at Chris’ Newsstand for a dime. We’d leave them overnight under the World War II monument in the city park. Next day after school we’d retrieve them, hoping the overnight rain missed our pack. We grew up with cigarette advertising on television and radio. It wasn’t until 1970 that Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning the advertising of cigarettes on radio and television, starting on January 2, 1971. During my time in the Air Force, I hardly remember any of my friends who were not smokers. I was a purchasing specialist and could smoke at my desk. After discharge I worked for a large company in San Francisco and again, could smoke at my desk. Just like the song, Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette), written by Merle Travis and Tex Williams and recorded by Williams in 1947:         
Smoke smoke smoke that cigarette
Puff puff puff
And if you smoke yourself to death
Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette
we just Had to have another cigarette. I’ve never been into marijuana or anything harder, but I think addiction to nicotine is one very powerful addiction.                
No, I’m not going on a non-smoking rampage. It’s still a personal decision and I still respect smokers. Been there, done that.  Not sure when I’ll actually be “on the other side,” but each day I get that much closer.



Ave Maria Grotto – Cullman, Alabama

In 2011 we thought we were ready to retire but were called to work large commercial  losses caused by the horrific tornado which struck Alabama and other southern states on April 27, 2011. We headquartered in Cullman, AL, for about six weeks and worked a 100-mile radius of there. This tornado was a mile and a half wide and stayed on the ground through the  entire state of Alabama. It then went through Georgia and the Carolinas but we only worked the Alabama claims, traveling over 2,000 miles in those six weeks.
Before leaving Cullman, we visited the Ave Maria Grotto at the Saint Bernard Abbey, a Catholic monastery founded in 1891 to enable the Benedictine monks to minister to the   German-speaking Catholic settlers in Alabama’s northern colonies. The Ave Maria Grotto is the creation of one of the pioneer Benedictine monks, Brother Joseph Zoetti (1878-1961). It is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park for the Grotto, surrounded by 125 miniature reproductions of biblical scenes and famous buildings of the world.
If you’re ever in the South, be sure to visit the Ave Maria Grotto, located on the grounds of Saint Bernard Abbey, 1600 St. Bernard Drive SE, Cullman, Alabama 35055—Telephone: (256) 734-4110. Or visit their website at http://www.avemariagrotto.com. They have a great You-Tube video which shows more of the beautiful sculptures.





What’s in a Commercial?

I’ll be commenting on tv commercials.

Missing In America Project


I recently joined the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society and they asked me to give a talk about the Pottawattamie County (Iowa) Genealogical Society, of which I’m the new president. Over the years our two societies drifted apart and we knew very little about each other. As a result, we are now both eager to share information and maybe even co-host a large national genealogical seminar in the future. Several GOGS members attended our Danish Workshop in September. At the meeting I attended, one of their members talked about the Missing In America Project. It sounded like a very worth-while project and I visited their website at miap.us and joined. Since then I’ve been working as a genealogist with two extremely dedicated veterans in Omaha, Bill Henry and Larry Schaber. These two guys just don’t quit! They are now helping me as I have taken on Western Iowa as coordinator. After reading below, if you have an interest in doing some research for us, primarily in trying to find next of kin of these forgotten veterans, please contact me at omahabob@cox.net.


The mission of the MIAP project is to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations; to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country, by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes. If these forgotten veterans have no family to invite us, do we leave them sitting in a storage closet, or do we show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes and work to ensure a dignified resting place to honor the veteran, their family and their community?


During an inventory of a crematorium, two cremation urns were discovered in a closet storage facility. The urns contained the unclaimed remains of Sgt. Trueman, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict and his wife (also a veteran). The year of death for Sgt. Trueman was 1979. For 27 years the resting place for Sgt. and Mrs. Trueman was a storage facility in a crematorium. Other funeral homes and crematoriums were inventoried. Other unclaimed remains of veterans were discovered. In November 2006, the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery interred 21 cremated remains of forgotten veterans, with full military honors and the dignity these fallen heroes so richly deserve. This incident inspired MIAP.


The MIAP project is two-fold. The initial focus of MIAP encompasses a massive, nation-wide effort to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed remains of forgotten veterans. This task will be executed through the combined, cooperative efforts of citizens, volunteer service and veteran  organizations, funeral homes, state funeral commissions, State and National Veterans Administration agencies, and the State and National Veterans Cemetery Administrations. Local, state and national laws must be followed in the identification, claiming process and proper interment of our forgotten veterans. This is strictly a volunteer organization with no salaries, compensation or reimbursement of expenses paid to the board of directors, officers or volunteers. Donations are used for the printing of flyers, burial fees, liability insurance, education of the public, locating next of kin and the purchase of urns.

MIAP is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.   IRS EIN: 20-84088320.

MIAP website is at http://www.miap.us


Same Price – but less product

I really don’t mind grocery shopping. It’s kind of fun to try to outsmart the grocers . . . or whoever does the pricing. I have my calculator at hand to determine if the economy size is actually less per ounce than the regular. Many times you can buy several of the smaller sizes cheaper than buying the “economy” size.

But I began to notice more air in the bag of potato chips and less chips. Yet the price has not changed . . . or is even higher.

On March 30, 2011, an article credited to the New York Times appeared in the Money section of the Omaha World Herald. I plagiarized the title of that article for this post because I can’t say it any better. More and more companies are leaving the packaging and the price the same but reducing what’s inside. A few examples:

  • A can of Chicken of the Sea albacore tuna is now packed at 5 ounces instead of 6
  • The standard size of Edy’s ice cream went from 2 liters to 1.5 in 2008
  • Many canned vegetables have dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16
  • Boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80
  • Sugar is in 4-pound bags, not 5

I had never paid attention to how much was in the can or box before, so I’m truly at a disadvantage here. I realize there has been some inflation and prices have gone up. But I don’t appreciate the trickery.

If you have some specific examples of this, please leave a comment . . . and your thoughts about it.

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