We Shouldn’t Have Survived

I can’t take credit for this and it’s probably been around for a long time. But I think it’s great and I’m reprinting it here. If anyone knows who created this, please let me know.

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According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or even the 70s, shouldn’t have survived.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright-colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.)

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors! We ate cupcakes and bread and water, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from this.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. No cell phones. Unthinkable!

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no 99+ channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, personal computers, or Internet chat rooms.

We had friends! We went outside and found them. We played dodge ball, and sometimes the ball would really hurt. We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s home and knocked on the door, or rang the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Some students weren’t as smart as others, so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade. Horrors! Tests were not adjusted for any reason. Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law! Imagine that!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50-60 years have been an eplosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you’re one of them. Congratulations!

Please pass this on to others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before lawyers and government regulated our lives, for our own good . . .

Kinda makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?

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Laughlin, NV/Lake Havasu, AZ

In late May, 2009, we flew to Laughlin, Nev. and enjoyed?? the 100-degree days. Laughlin is centrally located between the Los Angeles Basin and Phoenix, Ariz., just 90 miles south of Las Vegas and is set in a rugged mountain terrain which gently slopes to the banks of the Colorado River.

Harrah's LaughlinHarrah's Laughlin2

We stayed at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino overlooking the Colorado River. Laughlin has 10 casinos and according to the World Casino Directory’s website,  their database says there are 12,365 gaming machines in Laughlin, and 365 total table games. You can click here for a complete list of casinos in Laughlin. Out of 50 cities in Nevada with legalized gambling, Laughlin ranks number 5 in number of casinos.

But, no, we didn’t just gamble. One day we boarded a jet boat and sped down the Colorado River to Lake Havasu, Ariz., where we had lunch near the London Bridge. It was 120 degrees in Lake Havasu that day, but at least the 3-hour trip each way was nice and breezy on the river. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant overlooking  the bridge and we  walked on the bridge after lunch.

In 1968, Robert P. McCulloch Sr., who founded the McCulloch Corp. that produced outboard motors, small engines and chainsaws, and who had developed Lake Havasu in the early 1960s, was awarded the bid for the bridge It took about $7.5 million to ship the 138 year-old “heap of stones” to Lake Havasu and reconstruct it over dry land.

Every piece is still numbered

The blocks were reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle and the arches were formed with the help of huge mounds of sand and dirt. The dirt was then dredged from underneath the arches, forming the one-mile lagoon-blue Channel.

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Disaster-Proof Your Personal, Business Information

I was in the process of preparing an article about what we can do to protect ourselves and our businesses in the wake of a disaster, when I found this, prepared by Douglas Charney, senior vice president-Investments of Wachovia Securities in Harrisburg, PA. Wachovia Securities, LLC, Member NYSE & SIPC, is a separate nonbank affiliate of Wachovia Corporation. It’s so well-done I received permission to reprint it here, along with my comments, which are in italics.

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Hurricanes, floods, fires, terrorist attacks — the list of possible disasters is endless. Should something catastrophic and unforeseen happen to your home, are your financial records and personal information safe? For most people, the answer is “no.”

Think about all the things you could lose in something as common as a house fire: your tax returns, passport, birth certificate, computer, check book, bank statements, credit cards, insurance paperwork, and even cash. Without all these things, how would you pay your bills, buy food and clothing, or even rebuild your finances and your life?

While no one wants to believe that disaster will happen to them, your odds are actually higher than you think. According to the National Safety Council, the average person has a 1 in 1,167 chance of being involved in a fire, and a 1 in 3,421 chance of being involved in some sort of natural disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, hurricane, etc. Therefore, if you’ve always believed that something bad will never happen to you, it’s time to think again.

So how do you protect your personal and financial information? You need to disaster-proof your personal finances before a tragedy strikes. We will look at 10 ways to keep your financial and personal information safe.

Purchase A Home Safe

Every household needs a home safe that can withstand temperatures up to 1700 degrees. Keep the safe bolted to the floor in your basement or on the ground floor level so it doesn’t fall through the floor during a fire or get carried off by burglars.

Open A Safety Deposit Box At An Out-Of-Town Bank

Many people who have a safety deposit box simply use one at their local neighborhood bank. A better approach is to use a bank that’s out-of-town. This way if a disaster strikes that affects your entire town or city, such as a flood, your safety deposit box has a lower chance of being affected. Since many banks offer free or reduced fees on safety deposit boxes for their current customers, you can use the same bank that holds your accounts, just a different out-of-town branch. Note: Floods can happen anywhere. Remember Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 2007? Banks and their safety deposit boxes were under water.

Create A Financial Disaster Kit

Gather all the documents you keep in your home safe, wallet, and safety deposit box and make two photocopies of everything. Include all the account numbers of your credit cards, bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and brokerage accounts. Also include any work-related items, such as pay stubs and employee benefit information. Keep one copy of these papers in your home safe, and keep the other copy in your safety deposit box. By having this information in multiple safe places, you can have quick access to it no matter what happens.

Have An Emergency Cash Fund

Save at least three months’ worth of income for emergencies. Realize that you don’t have to save this amount of money overnight. It will take some time for you to accumulate three months’ worth of income.

Start small, with perhaps $50 a week, and build the account slowly. Should a disaster happen before you have a full three months’ worth of income saved, remember that some money is better than no money.

Make sure you have quick access to these funds via an ATM or debit card, or with checks that are separate from your regular checking account. Keep this ATM card or check book in your financial disaster kit.

Keep Cash Or Traveler’s Checks On Hand

Many people no longer keep cash in their wallet or in their home because of debit and credit cards, which they view as safer. However, should a disaster strike that wipes out electricity and closes the banks, how will you purchase basic necessities? At the very least, have $100 per person in your household available as cash or in the form of traveler’s checks. Keep this money in your home safe. This way you have some immediate funds to hold you over until the power is back on or the banks re-open.

Have An Emergency Credit Card

Keep one credit card account empty and save it just for emergency use. Get the bank to issue two credit cards for this account, one in your name and one in your spouse’s name or another family member. Keep one card in your home safe and the other in your safety deposit box. Do not store this card in your wallet. If you do, you may be tempted to use it and won’t have the credit available should you need it during a disaster.

Back-Up Your Computer And Your Phone Regularly

Since many people claim that they store their entire life on their computer, make sure you back-up your computer every day. You have a number of options for data back-up. Some people prefer to use a CD, USB data stick, or tape drive. In this case, you have to remember to keep the back-up with you or in a safe place. Note “safe place.” Not a good idea to keep the back-up media in your work area or in your desk drawer. But if you keep it in your safe and you have important daily data you need to protect, it’s cumbersome to retrieve it from your safe every day. That’s why in addition to you doing the back-up, the suggestion in the next paragraph is the safest way to go.

Another option is to use one of the many internet-based data back-up systems that are available for a monthly fee. This way you don’t have to physically store anything or remember to grab any files. They will be waiting for you online should you ever need them. Whatever back-up method you choose, practice restoring your back-up so you know what to do should the need arise. Note: There are actually some free back-up services available, maybe with some programs or services you already have.  I’m researching that now and will report in a future post.

The same goes for your phone. With today’s superfast smartphones we can do just about everything, text, bank online, surf the web, not to mention keep track of appointments, contacts and much more. What would happen if it got lost, stolen or damaged? So, like your computer, make sure you back it up. Check with your carrier to see what’s provided. And, soon, for absent-minded folks, you’ll be able to attach an alarm to help you keep track of its whereabouts.

Make An Inventory Of Your Home Furnishings And Valuables

This inventory should be in photo or video format. Keep a physical copy of the photos or videos, put a copy on your computer’s hard drive, and keep a back-up copy on CD or DVD and store it either in your home safe or in your safety deposit box. Include copies of purchase receipts for large items, such as televisions, computers, expensive jewelry or artwork, and furniture suites.

This is so important I’m making a special note on this one. In fact in the future I’ll post a complete article on this. In the event of an insurance claim, an adjuster is equipped and trained to handle the building portion of your loss, but when it comes to “contents” it gets sticky. If you submit a huge list of lost, damaged or destroyed contents with no supporting photos or documentation, a red flag is raised and your claim will take much longer than you want. After Hurricane Ivan I had a woman who claimed she lost 125 pairs of shoes. But, you know what? She listed them by brand and color and gave me copies of receipts for all of them! Many of them were the pricey kind and had she not submitted what she did, we would have had to negotiate the number lost and an average price for the shoes.

Review Your Insurance Policies

Pull out your home and auto insurance policies and see if they need any updating. Make sure that your replacement values for your home or cars are not too low. This is also a good time to consider purchasing disability insurance, which will protect you and enable you to generate income should you become disabled during a disaster. Note: READ YOUR POLICY! Know what’s covered and what’s not. Remember, homeowners policies do NOT cover flood. For flood coverage you need a flood policy issued by FEMA. If you have any questions on coverage, check with your agent.

Back-Up Your Back-Ups

Make a copy of all your financial records, documents, deeds, and your financial disaster kit. Then send this packet of information to a trusted relative or friend who lives in another part of the country. Instruct this person to keep your packet in a safe place, such as a home safe or safety deposit box. This is your final layer of protection, as even if a disaster affects a large geographic area, your information is still safe somewhere else in the country.

Final Note: In the aftermath of Katrina I had a business owner in Mississippi whose business was gone and his home was gone. Most commercial policies cover business interruption, which requires profit and loss statements to calculate how much profit the business lost while being shut down. This insured had no records so we decided to check with his accountant. Guess what? His accountant’s business was gone and so was his home . . . and so were all of the accountant’s records for all of his clients. The only thing left was for the insured to request copies of his federal tax returns from the IRS, and you can guess how long that took.

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Tracing Your Family History – #1 Getting Started

If you enjoy solving mysteries and are even somewhat interested in the early history of our country, then tracing your family history may be the right hobby for you.

But be forewarned: The voyage in which you are about to embark will be fun, educational, enlightening, time-consuming, bumpy, disappointing, frustrating, and joyous. Once you begin, there’s no turning back. You’ll be hooked–constantly driven by the need to know. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn. That’s perhaps a bit melodramatic; but any family historian will tell you that family history research consumes an enormous about of time, effort and, to some extent, money.

Part of it is the sheer numbers. Considering that we all have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc., by the time we go back just 12 generations–about 300 years figuring 25 years per generation–we have 8,100 direct ancestors!

In the coming weeks, months and (I hope) years, this section will be devoted to family history research. We’ll start from the beginning, but I hope seasoned researchers will follow along, too, and even contribute. I’ll bring you up to date on what’s happened in the field recently and provide information on what’s coming up. Many excellent workshops are presented around the country and you’ll find out about them right here.

Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way first. Because we’re starting from the beginning, each post will be sort of a “lesson.” I recommend you either print or save each one because in later posts I may refer to something covered previously. I’m going to number each of these posts so they can be referred to by number.

I’ll try not to be preachy and teachy, but I will emphasize what you should do and should not do. I want you to get started properly and avoid making horrible mistakes in the beginning. I know a woman who spent 10 years researching and studying her family only to learn it was not her family! That’s an easy trap to fall into.

So let’s get started!

Many of the beginning books on family history will tell you to begin with what you know about your family. I’ll tell you that, too, but you should first get your record-keeping system in order so you have a place to properly record the data. Your system can be as simplified or as complicated as you want. There is no one “right” system for keeping records, but there are some key ingredients. The first is the Pedigree Chart, sometimes referred to as a Lineage Chart, or Family Tree.

The numbering system is important. For the first chart, which is called Chart 0, your name appears on line 1. Your father is on line 2, his father is on line 4, and his father is on line 8. This way anyone’s father is always twice his own number. Your mother is on line 3, her father is on line 6 and her mother is on line 7. Now anyone’s mother is twice his/her own number plus 1. While this may see confusing now, it will be extremely important as we move on. Notice there is no room on this chart for your spouse. This is only a chart of your ancestors. Your spouse would prepare a similar skeleton chart, put his/her name on line one and continue as above.

Beneath each person are the initials “b”, “m.”, and “d.” They stand for “birth date”, marriage date”, and “death date.”  This is the basic information we need for this chart. Data will be expanded on another form called the Family Group Sheet, which I’ll discuss in the next post.

Begin filling in this chart with what you know. Start with yourself and your parents, your grandparents, and so on.

Go to #2

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Tracing Your Family History – #2 The Family Group Sheet

The Family Group Sheet is used to record what you know (and learn) about all members of your family. As it says on the top, make several blank copies of this form as you’ll need a lot of them.

It’s fairly self-explanatory. Begin by filling one out for your family. Enter you and your spouse in the proper spot – women use your maiden name. Then answer as many questions for each item as you can. If you have more than three children, make an additional copy of this form before you complete it. Then change the number “1” to “4” and continue. Children should be listed in descending order from the oldest to the youngest.

Now take another blank form and fill it out for your parents. On this sheet you’ll list you and your siblings, again with the oldest first and then in descending order. Sorry to get so elementary here, but now you see how many forms you’re going to need. A Group Sheet needs to be prepared for everyone in your family. That means your married children, your brothers and sisters, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, and so on.

While much of this information can be learned from other family members, it is very important that you obtain at least copies of every document which proves or attests to the information obtained. You are looking for certificates of births, marriages, and deaths; wills; probate records; early family correspondence; war records; pension records; family Bible information; and anything else which would enhance the knowledge and understanding of your family.

We’ll be discussing many of these records in future posts. For now the important thing is to be as accurate and thorough as you can be regarding dates and places, especially when you get to older generations. Spelling of names is important. Where a couple was married and when is very important. If possible, do include the township and county.

More next time. Drop me a note if you have questions.

Go to #1

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