Category: Inspiration

18 Years Since I Quit Smoking

Note: I’m updating this post to show that it has been 18 years now since I quit smoking.


Yesterday, January 8, 2011 was the 10th anniversary of my quitting smoking. I can’t believe it has been that long.

I wrote a blog post about how I quit two years ago. You can read it here: How to quit smoking today.

I was basically a “cigarette holder” for 30 years. I existed to hold a lit cigarette between my fingers. Today, when I tell smokers the story of my quitting, I describe myself as a degenerate smoker. I was addicted to cigarettes. I smoked whenever and wherever I could. I smoked all the time.

My wife Mary Lynn’s two year quit date is February 1, 2011. We will celebrate Ground Hog day and her quitting anniversary!

If I can quit, you can quit. Good luck.

My Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

I covered up my Obama 08 bumper sticker today. It has been on the back bumper of my 1997 Honda Accord for several years. I tried to scrape it off with my Swiss army knife, but that wasn’t working very well. It has been baked on I guess through a couple of hot summers and cold eastern New York winters. Duct tape did the trick.

Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

Obama 08 Bumper Sticker

Enough is enough. The latest tax “deal” that President Obama made with the Republicans was too much for me. I can’t take it anymore. I would gladly have had my taxes go up next year instead of having this tax deal passed.

Here is the bumper after covering up the offending sticker:

Photo of taped over bumper sticker

Photo of taped over bumper sticker

I am going to try and find a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker to put over this. He is the Senator from Vermont who stood up in the Senate for over 8 hours the other day and told the truth about the Obama tax deal with the Republicans.

As Paul Krugman said, “We need a better government than we’ve got.”

Inspiring Your Audience

I wrote this and delivered it as speech number ten for my “Competent Communicator” designation in Toastmasters. I hope you enjoy it. The purpose of the speech is to inspire your audience.

“Never Give Up, Never Surrender.”

That is what Tim Allen says throughout the 1999 movie “Galaxy Quest.” It’s kind of corny, but I like the movie and the quote. In the movie Tim Allen plays Peter Taggart, the captain of a starship and crew on a weekly television show. It’s totally a parody of Star Trek. Real, friendly aliens from another galaxy watch his show after the television signal travels through space to reach them. They base their whole society around the show. Those aliens are on the verge of being wiped out by real, unfriendly, unattractive aliens. They come to earth to recruit Tim Allen and his crew to help them. They don’t realize that Tim is just an actor on a television show. Naturally, Tim and his crew never give up and never surrender, although of course it looks hopeless for a while.

Jack Cust was signed to a professional baseball contract by the Arizona Cardinals after he graduated from high school in 1997. He went right to the minor leagues and stayed there for 10 years. He made very brief appearances in the big leagues with 5 different teams, but always went back down to the minor leagues. In 2007 he was playing for the San Diego Padres in the minor leagues.

He told his agent to see if he could get him a contract with a team in Japan. On May 2, 2007 his agent called him and told him that 2 teams in Japan were interested. Twenty minutes later his agent called him back to say that the Oakland Athletics wanted him to be their designated hitter. (Mike Piazza had gotten injured and the A’s needed a new designated hitter.) He is in his 4th season now with Oakland.

The July 31, 2007 Sports Illustrated has a story about him called “The Legend of Jack Cust“. The last paragraph of the article says: Cust was five years old and sitting behind first base at Yankee Stadium when he first told his father that he wanted to be a professional ballplayer. “As long as I can remember my goal was to be a big league player — to make it in the big leagues,” says the legend. “I keep saying that this, right now, is my last chance at it. But really, it’s my first.”

Jack never gave up. Not even this year when he was sent to the A’s AAA team in Sacramento to start the season. I admire him for that.

In 1994 I found out that I did not get a job with Bell Atlantic that I had interviewed for and had wanted for a long time. I was crushed and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I put on a suit, grabbed a copy of my resume and went down the street to talk to a small company that sold computers. A few minutes after I got back home, about an hour later, I got a phone call. It was an offer from Bell Atlantic to start working for them on Monday. This was a different job than I had originally applied for, but it turned out to be the best job I ever had, at more than twice the money I would have accepted, and I ended up working for them for 12 years. I went from despair to wahoo in an hour. You just never now what might happen if you don’t give up.

In 1967 I was the starting pitcher on Hamilton PAL, a Babe Ruth League team in Yardville, New Jersey. I was 14 years old and Jack Cust’s father was the center fielder. Bob Demeo was the catcher on the team (Demeo Field in Veterans Park, Hamilton, NJ is named for him.) I couldn’t throw a curve ball to save my life. Bobby always put down a 1 for a fastball. I would shake him off and try to throw my curve ball. I can still see him shaking his head in disgust. I lost every game I pitched that year except for one and my arm hurt. I still wanted to pitch though.

In 1968, I was 15 and I taught myself to throw a great curve ball. I can’t remember how I learned. I think I just experimented in practice until I got it right. Jack Cust was still the center fielder, but I had a new, younger catcher. That one pitch made all the difference. I could throw it for a strike whenever and wherever I wanted. I won every game I pitched that year except for one that I lost, 1 to 0. I shared the leagues best pitcher award that year with Kenny Andrews, another pitcher on my team. 1967 was a terrible year and I could have given up. But I knew that I could do a lot better. I didn’t give up and 1968 was a great year.

Let’s go further back in the “wayback” machine.

June 4, 1940
Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches” speech to the House of Commons following, “Operation Dynamo,” the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk, France to England during WWII. These are the last few sentences of Winston Churchill’s speech.

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

I’m certain that Winston Churchill meant every word he said. He was the right man, at the right time, in the right place.

I very good friend of mine, Larry Lewis, used to say, ” The only way you don’t get what you want is you either give up or you die.”

I’m not giving up. Don’t you give up either.

In the immortal words of Captain Taggart, “Never give up. Never surrender.”

The Growth and Communication Program

I originally wrote an outline of this story for a Toastmasters speech that I gave on September 28, 2009. It was my fifth speech in a series of ten I have to give to earn my Competent Communicator designation. The purpose of the speech was to use stance, body movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to improve my speech. Toastmasters calls the fifth speech, Project 5, “Your Body Speaks.” I delivered the speech in 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Here is an expanded, more detailed version of the speech.

I’m going to tell you a story about something that I participated in almost thirty years ago.

The Growth & Communication program was for graduates of the Relationshop workshop. (I previously wrote about Relationshop in “Thanks for having the courage to be here” and “Let Your Love Flow and Relationshop.”) The GCP was “an advanced level program focusing on accelerated personal growth and enhanced communicative ability for those who wish to share Relationshop in a very special way as a Relationshop Prospective Leader.” The GCP program took place over a three month period.

We met for several weekends over that time period, usually in a Manhattan apartment in New York City. One weekend was spent reviewing the Relationshop workshop and one weekend was spent assisting at the workshop. The final “graduation” weekend was held at a retreat and study center called Kirkridge, on the top of a mountain in Bangor, Pennsylvania. It is just south of the Pocono mountains.

On Sunday afternoon the eight students in the GCP went into a room in one of the buildings at Kirkridge. On one side of the room there was a blackboard. On the blackboard written in white chalk was a sentence:

No matter what and regardless of the circumstances,

I will live my life out of the context: Being Satisfied

On the other side of the room was a single chair. The far wall was made of sliding glass doors. There were drapes over them to darken the room. In front of the sliding doors there were mats placed on the floor. They were similar to the mats that you would find in a gym class. In the middle of the room several mattresses were stacked up, one on top of the other. They were waist high. There were a couple of rolled up newspapers about the size of a baseball bat on the mattresses. We were going to beat the mattresses with the bats.

The eight of us sat on folding chairs on one side of the room.  Our instructions were to yell, “No matter what and regardless of the circumstances, I will live my life out of the context: Being Satisfied.”

We were supposed to yell this throughout the event, until everyone had their turn to beat the mattress. We started yelling and the first person moved to the empty chair. There was a person standing by the chair whose job it was to get you angry enough to grab the bat and start beating the mattress. I will call her Miss B. After a short while, the person got up from the chair, grabbed the bat and started beating the mattress. There were two people at the mattress to assist the person and make sure no one was injured. When the first person was totally exhausted, Larry, who led the GCP and was supervising the goings on in the room, must have given a signal to the assistants that the mattress beater had had enough and to take them over to the mat and let them recover.

Then, the next person went through the same thing. When it was my turn, I went over to the chair. In a very short while Miss B. (not her real name) made me so angry that I wanted to grab her instead of the bat. Instead, the two assistants muscled me over to the mattress and put the bat in my hands. I beat that damned mattress for all it was worth. I was soon exhausted and they took me over and dropped me on the mat.

I was on my knees and I said something to someone else on the mat. I then took off my shirt, leaving only my undershirt on. I then collapsed on the mattress. A few seconds later, the two assistants were picking me back up. Someone thought that I wasn’t exhausted enough because I had the strength to take off my shirt, I guess. I had to go to the back of the line and do it all over again! I wasn’t too thrilled, but I did it.

I remember that the second time I beat the mattress, my back was killing me. My arms ached and I was sweating profusely. Finally, I was put back on the mat. Later in the evening we were each given a small marble. The marble was supposed to represent something we wanted to get rid of. We then went outside through the sliding doors and threw the marbles into the woods.

It was a pretty intense weekend.

The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches & Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

I first discovered “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” by Joe Karbo while browsing through the Nottingham Bookstore in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. This was sometime back in the mid-70’s. My father, Howard Tedder,  owned the store. It was a paperback book, 6 inches x 9 inches and 3/8 of an inch thick. In the top right corner of the cover it said: $1000 Not the selling price but guaranteed to be what it is worth to you – at the very least. My father had priced the book at $5.00. (Some used copies today are listed for $25 to $50 on Amazon and Ebay.) I don’t know if he ever read it and I can’t remember if I paid him the $5.00 for it. I probably didn’t. I often took books that I liked home and brought them back after I read them. I “paid” for the books by working at the store fairly frequently, cleaning the store, and moving lots and lots of books around.

I took “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” home and read it and I have kept it all these years. When I am going through the books on my bookshelves to make some space, I never even consider throwing it out.  I have never seen another copy of it for sale in a used book store anywhere and I have been to quite a few used book stores. The book that I have is Copyright 1973 Joe Karbo, 17105 S. Pacific, Sunset Beach, CA 90742. The book was originally sold for $10.00 by mail order through advertisements that Joe Karbo wrote and placed in newspapers and magazines.  It wasn’t sold in stores. At the time, a paperback book sold in a bookstore for around $1.95. “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” was expensive compared to a regular paper back book.

The book is divided into two parts, book one and book two. They each have eight chapters and a question and answer section.  Book one talks about “Dyna/Psyc: the programmed study and practice of achieving success by the planned application of important but little understood natural laws.” It talks about an inadequate self image, fear, making lists, turning lists into goals, daily declarations, affirmations, visualization, and letting your unconscious computer (your mind) solve problems for you.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge it.

Book two talks about creativity, turning problems into opportunities and the direct response business (mail order).  Joe goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the mail order business and a lot of the information applies to other types of businesses as well. I think it is an interesting book, well-written, and well worth reading. Joe writes in an easy-going, friendly manner. It is as if he is right there sitting in the room with you explaining everything in person. He gets right to the point of what he wants to say and he packs a lot of good information into the 156 pages of the book. I know there is value in it and I recommend it.

The book sold over 2,700,000 (2 million 700 hundred thousand) copies by the time Joe Karbo died. According to an interesting article on The Lazy Man’s, Joe died in 1980 at age 55 from a heart attack while being interviewed by a TV station news crew. I have not been able (so far) to find a newspaper obituary for Joe Karbo.

The advertisements for the book are as famous as the book itself. Copywriters and advertising people to this day use Joe Karbo’s ad as an example of how to write a great ad. The subtitle for the ad is “Most People Are Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Any Money.” I remember seeing and reading the ads in newspapers and magazines back in the 70’s.

Although I never actually ordered the book by mail, I did try my hand at mail order in the late 80’s by selling a trivia booklet that I wrote and printed.  It was not a success. I can’t recall though, 20 years later, whether or not I was actually inspired to try mail order by reading “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” or whether something else triggered my attempt. In any case, I know that I referred to the book and used some of the mail order information in it when I was working on how to market my product.

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

Regardless, here is a copy of the actual ad that ran in newspapers and magazines all over the country.

If you have any stories or opinions about Joe Karbo and The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches or this post, I would love to hear your comments.

Dead Battery, No Brakes, No Winch, Ramp Stuck, Too Wide, Too Dark, Too Tired

I witnessed a magnificent example of persistence over the weekend. I saw someone who simply would not give up, despite numerous opportunities to do so.  I was sitting on my second floor deck with my wife Mary Lynn early Friday evening when our friend Charlie stopped by. He had a cup of Stewart’s coffee with him as he usually does and we chatted for 10 or 15 minutes. He told me that he had just bought a flatbed trailer and he was going to haul a van to Florida. He had to go home, hitch up the trailer and go pick up the van that was a few miles away on Route 40. I asked him if he needed any help and he said yes. Charlie has helped me out with a number of things around my house and I thought I could pay him back a little bit. I figured, how long could it take to put a van on a trailer? An hour?

He had just picked up the trailer that day and brought it home. He backed his pickup truck to the trailer and connected everything. We tested the trailer lights and turn signals and everything worked except the license plate light. It was still daylight so we didn’t worry about that yet. We drove over to Route 40 and parked by the van. It was a 1994 Ford Mark III van that had a wheelchair lift in it. It looked like it had been sitting there for a while. Charlie jumped in and tried to start it, but it was quickly obvious that the battery was dead. He grabbed a set of battery cables and we tried to jump start it from his pickup truck’s battery. It made a weak groaning sound as it tried to turnover. We let the charge run for a while longer and then tried again. No luck. Charlie went and got the owner of the truck who was in the back yard behind the house. The owner of the van is 78 years old and tireless. He had a portable battery charger that he put on the van. We let it charge for a minute and then tried to start it again. It fired right up. We let the van run to charge the battery.

The trailer was parked across the street at an old farm stand that was no longer being used. I then learned that the van didn’t have any brakes. Someone was going to have to drive the van across the street and get it lined up with the ramps on the trailer. But first, we had to get the ramps out from under the trailer where they were stored. They were a little rusty. I don’t know when they had been last used, but it had been long enough for them to be stuck with rust and corrosion. Charlie crawled under the trailer and tried to dislodge the first ramp. After a lot of banging and pulling and cursing, the first one came loose. The second ramp was even worse. No amount of banging, pulling and cursing would make it budge more than a few inches. The van owner went and got his lawn tractor. We hooked up a chain to the lawn tractor and tried to pull the ramp loose. It barely budged. We were going to need something bigger.

I called Mary Lynn and asked her to drive over in our Honda Pilot. I’ve used the Pilot lots of times on my 4 acres of yard to haul large limbs that fell out of my 100 foot tall pine trees. I wrap a tow strap around the branches and attach them to a very convenient hook under the driver side rear of the Pilot. I drag them over to a fire pit behind my house. Charlie and the owner didn’t think there was enough room to get a full size vehicle next to the trailer and between one of the structures at the farm stand. I assured them that my Honda would fit.

When Mary Lynn arrived, I moved the Pilot into position and hooked up the chain. It took several tries and we heard some horrible noises that made me wonder if something awful had happened to my truck or the trailer, but the ramp finally slid out completely onto the ground. We attached the ramps to the back of the trailer.

Next, it was time to move the van across the road. Route 40 is a two lane highway with a speed limit of 55. Traffic whizzes by at a pretty good clip, but fortunately it is not a busy road with constant traffic. The owner of the van hopped in and tried to put the van in gear. He had some difficulty for some reason and the van slipped into neutral and lurched backward into a bush, snapping part of the bush off. At least it didn’t hit the fence and pole that was right behind it. Somehow, he got the van going forward and crossed the road safely. At one point I was concerned that he was going to hit the Pilot before stopping and then I thought he might hit one of the farm stand buildings, but he didn’t. Then, after a series of maneuvers, he aligned the front tires with the trailer ramps.

The trailer had a winch on it with a strong metal cable. The only problem was that it didn’t work. We had another dead battery on our hands. I moved the Pilot into position and we jumped the winch battery. The winch then made noises like it was working, but it wouldn’t pull the cable  back into the housing. Charlie and the owner tried a lot of different things, but could not make the winch work. At this point, I decided to take Mary Lynn home because I didn’t know how much longer we were going to be. It was dark already at this point or almost dark. I can’t remember exactly what time it was.

When I arrived back at the trailer, Charlie and the owner had rigged up some sort of a pulley with a block and tackle. It was going to take the place of the broken winch. I think a lot of people would have given up or stopped trying at this point. If Charlie or the owner had not had a block and tackle and pulley or if they did not know how to use one, that would have been it (at least for the night). I suppose someone could have tried to drive the van onto the trailer, but it didn’t have brakes and what if you missed and fell off the ramps? You would have a damaged van.

They hooked the chains to the van and started to pull it up the ramps. They had to reposition the pulley and chains several times, but it was moving up. We chocked the wheels every time we moved the chains. When the front tires got up to the trailer wheels, we realized that the van was too wide to fit through. If we had another 2 inches it would have worked, but we didn’t. The tires on the trailer stuck up higher than the trailer bed. They had a strong fender over them. We were going to have to use more blocks and lift the van higher over the wheels.

I told Charlie that this van did not want to go to Florida.

We drove to Charlie’s house in the owners pickup truck. Charlie had a lot of blocks in his basement. They were 4 inches by 4 inches and about 2 feet long. We packed them in the truck and headed back to the trailer. It was definitely dark out by now. We were working with a flashlight and the truck headlights. We built a strong ramp on the trailer using the wood blocks and wooden ramps that appeared from somewhere. Slowly but surely the van inched onto the trailer. Charlie and the owner did the heavy, important work of moving the chains. Finally, the van was positioned where we wanted it on the trailer. We called it a night. It was 3:30 in the morning. I was tired. Charlie had to be at work Saturday at 7:00 AM. I went to bed at 5:00 AM and got up at noon.

Charlie stopped over Saturday afternoon around 5:00 PM and we went back to the trailer. He spent some more time chaining down the van and  moving blocks around to make sure it was as safe as it could be. He then drove the trailer back across the street so that he could put air in the tires of the trailer, the van, and his pickup truck. The owner of the van had a compressor in his garage. We worked on the license plate light again. We tried to pick up a new bulb, but it was almost 8 PM and the auto parts store was closing. We wouldn’t make it in time. We stopped at Kmart and Radio Shack,  but they don’t sell those types of bulbs.

Charlie drove the trailer to my house and parked it in my yard. My property has a large parking area. The first floor used to be a tavern.

Late Monday morning, Charlie came and hooked up the trailer again. Earlier that morning he had fixed a problem with the right front brake on his truck. He had some new, additional straps that he put on the van and he put a new bulb in the license plate light. It didn’t work right away, but after playing with the bulb housing some more, he got it to work. He decided that he needed to fix the left front brake on his truck too. We went to the auto parts store, got the part, and he put it on. Then, Monday afternoon, he pulled out of my parking lot and headed to Florida.

Tuesday afternoon I called him on his cell phone. I thought he might be in Florida already. He wasn’t. He was still in New York. His truck had had some sort of problem driving down Route 88 and he had to stop and get it fixed. When I called him, he was back on the road, but still in New York.

I called him at 1:00 PM on Wednesday and he is cruising through South Carolina.

I know he will make it to his destination in Florida. Charlie had all kinds of opportunities to quit, but he didn’t. He kept on going.

Charlie called at 9:15 PM Wednesday to announce that he had made it to his destination in central Florida.

Image | WordPress Themes