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Archive for the category “regrets”

One more story that should cause you to stop smoking – Ironic confessions of a smoker

One more story that should cause you to stop smoking – Ironic confessions of a smoker 

“Boy, do not ever start smoking – look at what happened to me”, the woman sitting in a wheel chair said to my son during a visit to her home. Her one leg had been amputated a couple of weeks earlier due to the effects of long term heavy smoking. What’s ironic about this? I’ll get to that.

The reason for our visit to the woman’s home was that she had advertised an item that she wanted to sell and we wanted to take a look at it and perhaps buy it. The moment the screened door to the house opened we could make out the smell of cold smoke. It did not prepare us what awaited us inside: the three adults in the small home were all chain smokers and we could have cut the air into thick slices – that’s how much smoke was in the air.

Buying the item we had showed up for took a back seat. It was not really what we wanted and the heavy smoke had totally covered the item. We could only guess as to the original color of the item had been when it was new. The woman had fallen on hard times and I decided to buy the item even if we could no longer salvage it. I was not going to argue about the amount of money either.

One of the heavy smokers – you guessed it – was the woman. We spoke with her about her ordeal of losing her leg and my son was deeply moved by the whole experience. She was to lose the other leg soon. The wound of the first amputation had to heal prior to moving on to the other leg. The heavy smoking had taken an expensive toll on her health; her blood circulation had all but stopped to the lower extremities.

That was when she gave my son the advice to never pick up smoking in the first place. Doctors had apparently foretold her fate and shared it with her at least ten years prior to these sad events. She ultimately ignored all these warnings and now is paying a terrible price. But why on Earth was she not stopping now while she could? Why was no one else in the house stopping with the smokes? What happened to her sense of self-preservation? Was she and any other person who smokes aware of the ultimate irony telling my young man to never smoke, but they themselves smoked like 19th Century factory smoke stacks? Did they really have no choice?

I guess that I am fortunate that I have not ever picked up the habit of smoking. If you read this post and you are a smoker I can only beg you to quit that as soon as you can. Besides of the unbelievable cost that rack up over time, you are needlessly risking your life and limbs. Quit smoking while you can. Your family and friends are counting on you to be around for a long time.

Here is a link to a very recent video that shows kids asking adult smokers for a light, watch what happens here (click here for the video link).


4th of July – a special occasion for asking yourself a better question

4th of July – a special occasion for asking yourself a better question 

These days it very often feels like I come across very entitled and self-centered people. “How much can I get” or “How much is owed to me” seem to be their prevalent questions. It makes me think of a person who used to ask a completely different question. Tuesday a very special birthday is coming up. Not only is it 4th of July, the birthday of our nation. It’s also the 103rd birthday of my grandma who was a very special person. She always asked herself John O’Leary’s life changing question: “What more can I do?”

She was one of five brothers and sisters born to poor farm help folks in a small German village on the fourth of July 1913. Two heroic acts totally stick out. Her sister died shortly after giving birth to the second daughter – my mom. Her husband was not even around fighting at the Russian front towards the end of WWII. Here two little children were without a mom and because everybody was relatively poor they had to be split up and were taken care of by close relatives.

Erna now took it upon herself bringing the two children together at her sister’s home and taking care of the household and all other small farming jobs along the way. When granddad came back after the war they fell in love and eventually married after Erna got herself a divorce from her first husband. That by itself was a feat seldom achieved by women back then. She was very devoted to the children and loved them both like her own.

During the wartime she also took good care of around 20 prisoners of war in a forced labor camp on the premise. They were working in a sawmill next door under minimum security. Oma Erna could not stand them getting mistreated and not getting enough food so she smuggled this stuff over to them as much as she could.

“What more can I do?”, that has been her lifelong mantra until the day she fell and had multiple strokes permanently disabling her. “What more can you do?” Isn’t that a better question than “How much can I get?” Happy Birthday to our nation and Oma Erna. Please help and join me asking better questions and making better choices.


Do you treat your friends as friends?

Do you treat your friends as friends? 

Or are you a catch and release kind of a friend? The term catch and release comes from the fishing world of things and refers to folks catching fish just to later release them. The “thrill” of the catch is, I suppose, why they do it. It serves only the fisherman and there is no further purpose to this kind of fishing other than to bring some sort of pleasure to the person doing it. The fish’s purpose is merely to be around and to play its sorry role in this sad play.

I use this analogy because I think we approach friendships the same way too often. We get close to people because it can serve us. It may be fun to be on the lookout for prospects and then to connect with them. We may even have the audacity asking them for favors. Are we in it for the long run though, or is it just another form of friendship “catch and release”?

Perhaps we are just not using the correct term for this. To me a friend is someone who will bail you out of prison in the middle of the night. It is someone who has got your back no matter what. True friends look out for each other and lift each other up. They see the potential that each person has. It is someone whose friendship does not come with an expiration date. Once you “catch” and connect, you stick around forever. Anything else would need to be called an acquaintance, I suppose.

Growing up I really liked going fishing. There was a lot of catching, but we never released unless the fish were too young to keep. It served a purpose and I might add a sacred one to us. Whatever we caught ended up as food. It sustained us and no creature needed to suffer for the mere gratification of the hunt.

That’s how I feel it ought to be with friends. If it only serves one party or the other you are acquaintances. If you are in it for the long haul you are friends – true friends, forever. So how do you treat your friends? Happy pondering.


How bad customer service is killing the product repair business

How bad customer service is killing the product repair business 

We are supposed to live in customer service heaven. When something breaks on household items, cars, electronics, etc it should not be difficult getting that repaired, right? Well, it appears that this industry’s general direction is more than troublesome in that unwanted, unneeded, and sometimes outright ridiculous staff is being pushed on to customers. Most simply lack technical and subject matter knowledge in order to prevent getting overcharged for needless stuff that is being hawked off as “value added”. The best tactic working for them is instilling fear in the customer that e.g. safety, efficiency, warranty, etc is being negatively affected. Before you know it you may have added 100s of not 1000s of Dollars to your bill.

Here is one of those incidents that happened to me just recently. I went to the local mall (yeah, some are still around) trying to get the battery changed in my watch. The friendly store clerk looked at the watch and then informed me that the battery exchange would set me back by 40 Dollars. Huh? FOURTY Bucks? Three times before I had gone to one of those mall hallway vendors and rarely spent 15 for changing out the battery. “It is 20 for being an expensive Swiss watch, and the other 20 are for making your watch water proof again. We are the only local area store that can offer this service.” I would have walked out after this, but I had a coupon reducing my total to 20 Dollars for the battery change.

The clerk pointed to a special machine – while pointing at it – for achieving waterproof status. I was totally puzzled what the contraption was supposed to do as the back cover of the watch has an o-ring that makes this happen. As long as the part does not sustain any damage no water will enter the watch there. It mystified me what else they could possibly be doing different from what the other mall vendor had done before.

I told her to proceed with the repair; I was willing to risk 20 Dollars and watching the special repair procedure. She took the back cover off and with it the o-ring. The latter was cleaned, greased, and re-installed. Then the watch was put under the glass globe of the special tool and vacuum was applied to it. After a little while she turned around and asserted that the watch will not hold a vacuum and that I should be careful not to put the watch into e.g. a washing machine and “don’t dive with it”. What happened to making the darn thing waterproof and “we are the only company who does this in the county”? It turned out that the special gizmo merely tested the watch, but it did not “make” it anything. In fairness she did not even attempt trying to charge me the extra 20 Dollars for this “service”. I left the store with a new battery in my watch and a giant smile on my face. I had avoided yet another extra charge for something that would not have added any value whatsoever. Grr. How many times do we get charged for nonsense like this? It is really frustrating and also no wonder that people would rather buy new stuff than getting the old stuff repaired.

I like to fix old stuff and if you do too than here are a few thoughts that can help protect you from spending extra money:

  • If the story sounds to crazy to be true, it usually isn’t.
  • Insist getting more info and get it in writing.
  • Insist on getting any old parts back after the repair has been carried out.
  • Do some Internet research and find out what other people may have experienced before.
  • If all else fails, replacing the item with a new one may be the better alternative.

Happy repairing!


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