Monday, December 31, 2007

Transactional Analysis: A Guide to Understanding Personality and Human Relationships

My first exposure to Transactional Analysis was in the year 1973. I had just come home to the United States from Latin America (Guatemala and El Salvador) where I had served for two years as a missionary for my church. On a particular Sunday, I attended a class for priesthood holders and was surprised when the instructor (a clinical social worker) began teaching us about relationships. The teacher was using some rather odd terms that I had not associated with psychology before, and drawing circles on the blackboard with lines back and forth connecting the circles—happily, it had nothing to do with AMWAY. He spoke of the “Parent, Adult, and Child” ego states and explained that we operate from one of these states at all times. He explained also that the particular ego state we operate from, and its compatibility with the ego states from which others are operating, determine the quality of our relationships with others. I was fascinated by what I heard that day and decided that I wanted to learn more. After the class, the instructor gave me a book that he had on Transactional Analysis and I proceeded to fill in the blanks.

In later years when I decided to go back to college, I double-majored for awhile in history and psychology, thinking that I might go into the head shrinking business. I eventually changed to a minor in psychology to allow myself to graduate a bit sooner—I had a goal to finish my BA before I turned 50 and I did not want to wreck my schedule, thinking that I would decide on graduate school either in history or psychology after graduating. As it turned out, I did neither in the end, deciding to get a Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health, a career that I was already working in. But, I digress. I found in college that TA was no longer a popular theory. Most in the field of psychology at the time were embracing behavioral and drug therapies. Still, I found TA to be a good answer to my questions about personality and human behavior and continued to study it. And today, on New Year’s Eve, 2007, I still find it helpful.

Transactional Analysis
In 1961, Dr. Eric Berne, a prominent psychiatrist in California, published a book entitled, Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy. In his book, he explained his theory of personality structure and its applications to psychoanalysis. In the decade or so that followed, he wrote other books about TA (Transactional Analysis) including the very popular Games People Play and What Do You Say After You Say Hello. His Theories became popular amongst the mental health community during the decades of the 60s and 70s and spawned other books including I’m OK—You’re OK written by California psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Harris. Though TA is not as popular today as it was in the 60s and 70s and is considered a fad of the times by some clinicians today, it still offers a simple and coherent understanding of the human personality.

Like Sigmund Freud, Eric Berne believed in the existence of the unconscious and he developed a similar theory for the structure of the personality. Berne describes the personality as divided into three separate ego states. Instead of the Id, Ego, and Super Ego of Freud’s theory, Berne refers to the three ego states as the Child, the Adult, and the Parent. Berne also recognized stages of development, but did not see them as complicated and as numerous as Freud did. Like Freud, Berne believes that, through therapy and enlightenment, a free-willing patient can change.

The unconscious lies at the heart of both psychoanalysis and transactional analysis. In his book, I’m OK—You’re OK, Thomas Harris wrote about experiments performed by neurosurgeon, Dr. Wilder Penfield in 1951. During brain surgery on patients suffering from epilepsy, Penfield touched the temporal cortex of the brain of the fully conscious patients under local anesthesia with a weak electric probe. Penfield found that the electric stimulation forced vivid recollections from the patients’ memory. Most significant was the discovery that, along with past events, feelings associated with those events, are also recorded in the brain. Penfield reported, “The subject feels again the emotion which the situation originally produced in him, and he is aware of the same interpretations, true or false, which he himself gave to the experience in the first place”(Harris, 1967, p. 7). Recollections, Harris believes, are evoked by day to day experience in much the same way as Penfield’s electric probe evokes them. Harris concludes from Penfield’s experiments that: (1) the brain operates like a tape recorder. (2) Feelings associated with past experiences are also recorded and locked to those experiences. (3) Persons can exist in more than one mental state at the same time, as when the patient was able to both converse with Dr. Penfield during the operation and relive a past experience, via the electric stimulation. (4) Recorded past experiences and feelings are available for replay at any moment.

It is the belief of psychoanalysts that often people’s actions and reactions are influenced by the unconscious. Freud believed that irrational and illogical behavior (i.e. phobias and obsessions) was caused by unacceptable thoughts and feelings prompted by the id but repressed by the ego in the unconscious. In An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis, Charles Brenner states, “All (unwanted id impulses such as memories, emotions, desires, or wish-fulfilling fantasies) are as though they did not exist as far as the individual’s conscious life is concerned” (Brenner, 1955, p. 89). In TA, irrational and illogical behavior is caused by the impulses of the confused Child (ego state) exhibited, also out of awareness, against the exclusion (repression) of the Adult and Parent (ego states).

Animal instincts (sex, aggression, and the libido), as Freud believed, are the responsibility of the id. The id, from the time of birth until the ego starts to develop, is in complete control. “We believe,” states Brenner, “that the id functions in conformity with the primary process (immature thoughts) throughout life and that the ego does so during the first years of life, when its organization is immature and naturally still very much like the id, whence it so recently sprang, in its functioning” (Brenner, 1955, p. 49). As development progresses, society demands that the ego and superego control the id. According to Freud, all persons necessarily go through stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital) that will help them conform to society. In Calvin S. Hall’s A Primer of Freudian Psychology, Hall says, “The development of personality takes place as a result of two major conditions. These are (1) maturation of natural growth and (2) learning to overcome frustration, to avoid pain resolve conflicts, and reduce anxiety” (Hall, 1954, p.113)

Transactional Analysts claim that the human brain starts making “recordings” from birth. Both external and internal events are recorded in the infant brain and continue through life till death. Recordings of internal events (emotions and feelings), which are connected both consciously and unconsciously to external events (perceptions), are compiled by the individual to create the Child. As with the id, the Child has dominion over pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain. But unlike the id, the Child is the receptor of self-esteem.

In the Child we find an endless supply of “a-ha” experiences. According to Thomas Harris, a-ha experiences are the firsts in the life of a small child; the first time he catches hold of his mother’s nipple, the first drink from a garden hose, or the first time the lights come on as he flips the switch. The way that a child interprets his experiences determines the way that the Child feels about himself. The Child houses intuition, creativity, and spontaneity. Feelings of delight, security, and love are interpreted and recorded by the Child, as well as feelings of frustration, rejection, and abandonment. Thus, an individual can possess a happy Child or an unhappy Child.

Similar to Freud’s superego, Berne’s Parent is, as Thomas Harris explains it, “a collection of recordings in the brain of unquestioned or imposed external events perceived by a person in his early years, a period which we have designated roughly as the first five years of life” (Harris, 1967, p. 18). At the same time that the small person is recording internal events (feelings etc.), he is also recording external events, such as examples and pronouncements from his literal parents. Value systems and prejudices are housed in the Parent.

Never, always, should, shouldn’t, etc. are words that are recorded in the Parent and often played back when the person takes on literal parenthood. It is important that the young person learn to become a parent. Parenting is crucial to the survival of the human race. If adults did not govern children, humans would soon become extinct. So, mental and physical health both require a healthy Parent (ego state).

Just as the ego in Freudian Psychology works to satisfy the requirements of both the id and the superego, Berne’s Adult operates between the Child and the Parent as a reality checker. At about 10 months of age, according to Transactional Analysists, persons start to find out for themselves the validity of the “taught concepts” (prejudices, etc,) that reside in the Parent and the “felt concepts” (fears, etc.) that reside in the Child. “The Adult,” says Harris, “develops a ‘thought concept’ of life based on data gathering and data processing” (Harris, 1967, p. 29).

The Adult, acting as a kind of computer, grinds out decisions after computing information or data from all of the three ego states. The happy and healthy Adult discovers that most parental data, such as “playing in the street is dangerous” and “dry pants are more comfortable than wet pants,” and that Child data, such as “I feel loved,” are reliable. An unhappy and unhealthy Adult is one that is “contaminated” by the Parent and, or the Child. Contamination is the ‘leaking in’ to the Adult of prejudicial data from the Parent or delusional data from the Child. Just as parenting is required for human survival, the uncontaminated Adult is required for the survival of the individual. Faulty judgments based on unreliable data often bring unhappy results.

The process of human behavior, as explained in Transactional Analysis, is similar to that which was accepted by Freud. Just as the individual, in Freudian Psychology, is energized by the id to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, the individual in TA is prompted to seek “strokes.” Eric Berne believes that research shows that strokes are necessary for human development. In the introduction to his book Games People Play, Berne explains that “infants deprived of handling over a long period will tend to sink into an irreversible decline and are prone to succumb eventually to intercurrent disease” (Berne, 1964, p. 13). In essence, Stimulus deprivation can be fatal.

The human craving for continued strokes and social intimacy is the basis for transactions. A “transaction” is the basic unit of social intercourse. “If two or more people encounter each other in a social aggregation, sooner or later one of them will speak, or give other indication of acknowledging the presence of the others. This is called the transactional stimulus. Another person will then say or do something which in some way related to the stimulus and that is called the transactional response” (Berne, 1964, p. 29). The types of transactions we engage in, the quality of strokes we receive for our trouble, and the way that data is recorded in our child define the basis for the individual’s growth and development.

Growth and Development
“Life positions” are the end result of human growth and development. In TA, it is recognized that the child can be happy or unhappy. Freud theorized that a person must go through stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital) as he passes from birth to young adulthood. TA focuses on stages of development as well, but identify their four stages of development or “births of the individual” as periods from conception to age five” (Harris, 1967, p. 40). The first block of time is between conception (cellular birth) and physical birth, where the individual experiences “the most perfect environment the human individual may ever experience” (Harris, 1967, p. 40). Next, the little human within a few hours experiences what may be the most traumatic experience possible for a human being; biological birth where he is exposed to “doubtless terrifying extremes of cold, roughness, pressure, noise, nonsupport, brightness, separateness, and abandonment” (Harris, 1967, p. 40). Then comes “Psychological birth,” when, moments after the ordeal of birth, the infant is rescued by “another human being who picks him up, wraps him in warm coverings, supports him, and begins the comforting act of ‘stroking’” (Harris, 1967, p. 41). During the next five years, the young child continually records his feelings, which grow from relationships with others and the stroking and nonstroking that he receives. “Social birth” is experienced when, at age five, the child starts school. He has, by this time developed rational thought and a basic perception of his life position: OK or not OK.

As explained earlier, Parent tapings are being recorded simultaneous with the Child tapings. During the first five years of life, the Parent is loaded up with “tapes” of external events. These Parent recordings are live and unedited, and the dependency of the small child during those five years of development make it crucial that Parent data being recorded be reliable. For example, the ability of a small child to distinguish between a sober mother or father and inebriated ones, and to understand why Mom or Dad behaves different from time to time is minimal. Parents often say one thing but do another. Clearly, it is also possible to get Parent data from sources other than from literal parents. Children spending long hours in front of a television or at the babysitter’s will undoubtedly gather lots of “taught” concepts for life.

The editing needed for the huge amounts of data collected by the Parent and Child is performed by the Adult. As explained earlier, the Adult begins to function at about ten months of age. This function starts slowly and grows as the small person realizes that he is able to do more and more things for himself. At first (ten months), the Adult is heavily contaminated by the Parent and Child and not well defined. In this fragile state, commands from the Parent and fear from the Child the Adult is easily intimidated. But, as the person learns more things for himself, the Adult becomes a complete part of the personality. By age five, the person should have a functioning personality with a healthy Parent, Child, and Adult to ready him for social birth and to guide him through the rest of his life.

A person’s life, according to TA, is very much controlled by his life “script.” The script allows the person to feel OK or not OK about himself. Berne, in his book What Dou You Say After You Say Hello?, explains that scripts or behavior patterns “are determined by rigid reflex genes, primitive imprinting, infant play and imitation, parental training, and spontaneous invention” (Berne, 1972, p. 65). DNA, for example, will determine the limits of our physical and mental development and will influence, to a degree, what we look like and how we perform. Jesse Owens was especially prepared genetically to be an exceptional athlete. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, seems to have been prepared genetically to excel in science.

Imprinting, infant play and imitation allow us to attach to parent figures and then to learn from those “parents,” the subtleties of human behavior. Parental training is especially powerful in determining the script. A person carries out his script because, says Berne, “it is planted in his head at an early age by his parents, and stays there for the rest of his life” (Berne, 1972, p. 65). Scripts, generally speaking, can be traced back to great grandparents. If family history is recorded, as perhaps in the case of royal lineage, scripts can be influenced even from centuries past. Ancestral pride, idealization, rivalry, and personal experience can all influence, for good or bad, a child’s life script. The circumstances of conception (accidental, difficult, rape, incest, etc.), birth position (oldest, middle, youngest, etc.), and names (including surnames) can influence the life script that a young person takes on.

Parental attitudes translate heavily to the life script of a young person. “The comedy or tragedy of each human life,” says Berne, “is that it is planned by an urchin of pre-school age, who has a very limited knowledge of the world and its ways, and whose heart is filled mainly with stuff put there by his parents” (Berne, 1972, p.97). What a young person hears from his parent is very often different from what the parent intended. For example, “You are too young to smoke” may mean to a young person that, some day to prove that he is a grown up, he must smoke. A big part of the job of growing up is to understand what parents really mean.

Ok-ness” is the most important part of a person’s development. Thomas Harris classifies the four possible life positions held with respect to oneself and others as (1.) I’m not OK—you’re OK. (2.) I’m not OK—you’re not OK. (3.) I’m OK—you’re not OK. (4.) I’m OK—you’re OK. The first position is considered to be the universal position of early childhood. Babies logically conclude this because of their total dependency on their grownup parents. The Child learns self esteem by the reactions of others to him, so the first position can be reinforced by the perceived appraisals of parent figures. If the Child is critically or chronically abused, the stage is set for position number two. The third position is a life saving decision on the young person’s part. It is believed to be caused by brutality or extreme neglect by parents combined with self-stroking by the Child, like a hurt puppy licking its wounds. The fourth position is considered to be a conscious decision, where as the first three are not. “The first three positions,” says Harris, “are based on feelings. The fourth is based on thought, faith, and the wager of action” (Harris, 1967, p. 50).

As explained earlier, transactions are the basic units of social intercourse. Through transactions we acknowledge and are acknowledged by others. The simplest and most mutually satisfying transactions, according to Berne, are those between Adults. These can be as unimportant as discussing the weather or as important as negotiating peace treaties. This type of transaction implies accurate data being correctly communicated both ways. Another appropriate and natural transaction is one between Child and Parent. For example, the nurturing of a Child suffering from illness by his mother is a beneficial transaction.

In both Adult—Adult and Child—Parent transactions, stimulus and response are natural and mutually beneficial. Complimentary transactions such as Parent—Parent (critical gossip) and Child—Child (playing together) are considered harmless depending on the nature of the content. However problems arise when Parent—Adult or Child—Adult transactions occur. In these types of transactions accurate data is lost or ignored and incorrect communication follows, especially when one party’s Adult is trying to communicate with the other party’s Adult only to have the second party’s Parent respond to the first party’s Child. These types of “crossed transactions” are blamed for failing marriages.

Transactions are further identified, by their motives, as procedures, rituals, pastimes, and games. Procedures and rituals are transactions that are programmed from one of the Parent, Adult, or Child ego states and are social in nature. In Games People Play, Berne describes a procedure as a ‘series of simple complimentary Adult transactions directed toward the manipulation of reality” (p. 35), and a ritual as “stereotyped series of simple complementary transactions programmed by external forces” (p. 36). Berne describes pastimes as a “series of semi-ritualistic, simple, complimentary transactions arranged around a single field of material, whose primary object is to structure an interval of time” (p. 41). Pastimes are typically played at social gatherings (parties), where groups of people may divide into smaller groups and chit-chat. Berne notes and names such pastimes as “PTA,” “Psychiatry,” “General Motors,” and “What became,” all being played in various corners of a room. “A game,” says Berne, “is a recurring set of transactions, often repetitious, superficially plausible, with a concealed motivation; or, more colloquially, a series of moves with a snare, or ‘gimmick’” (p. 48). Games require an ulterior quality and a “payoff.”

Payoffs are the dramatic climax and reason for playing such games as (identified by Berne) “Alcoholic,” “If it weren’t for you,” “See what you made me do,” “Schlemiel,” and “I got you now you son of a bitch.” The payoff reaffirms the player’s life script and life position. Games, as might be gathered from the various titles referred to above, are destructive in nature and deadly for healthy relationships. It is obviously necessary to have more than one player for a successful game, and many games can be played simultaneously. For best results, one playing “I’ve got you now you son of a bitch” will play with another playing “Look what they’ve done to me now.” Each player gets a payoff. Each reaffirms his life position and script, but fails in the search for true intimacy.

Berne and Harris believe true intimacy, as described earlier, is the goal of every person from the time of their cellular birth. Transactional Analysis, according to Berne and Harris, provides the best hope for those suffering in confused ego states, destructive relationships, and with poor life scripts and life positions to change. To change requires enlightenment and a renewed desire for intimacy.

Three elements, according to Harris, are necessary for an individual to want to change. He must hurt sufficiently. He must be tired of his state. And, he must suddenly discover that he can. The first step in changing is making decisions. Harris stresses that it is necessary “to recognize that in each decision there are three sets of data that must be processed. The first is in the Parent, the second is in the Child, and the third is in the Adult” (Harris, 1967, p. 55). Parent and Child data are dated and suspect, while Adult data represents the reality of the present along with data from the past that was gathered independently of the other two ego states. Through therapy, the patient can learn to recognize his contaminated Adult data (prejudices, phobias, etc.) and to realize that everyone else he meets also has a Parent, Child, and Adult. He works to separate contamination ego states by persistently making decisions based on facts.

The Adult data that is processed for change will include recognition of the desirability of true intimacy. The goal of true intimacy can not be reached with anything but an “I’m OK—you’re OK” life position. A sense of self worth and the worth of others will eliminate the desire to play games and will allow the individual to enjoy an honest, giving and receiving relationship, where strokes are freely given and received.

Basic to the TA theory of personality is the notion of man’s free agency to choose. Though past events may have powerful effect on the individual, he has power to affect his future through his ability to choose. Harris argues that “one of the most difficult problems of the Freudian position is the problem of determinism verses freedom. Freud and most behaviorists, held that the cause and effect phenomenon seen in all the universe also holds true for human beings, that whatever happens today can theoretically be understood in terms of what has happened in the past…The pure determinist holds that man’s behavior is not free and is only a product of his past” (Harris, 1967, p. 61). The truth is, according to Transactional Analysists, that man’s behavior has as much to do with his contemplation of the future as it does with events in his past. Man is not like a billiard ball. Everyone is capable of change. Everyone is capable of betterment.

The genius of TA is that Berne and his followers have taken the best elements of some of the most popular personality theories and incorporated them into their own. The structure is obviously similar to Freud’s. The ideas of the mental tape recordings and the emphasis on recognizing contaminated data is fairly Cognitive. Carl Rogers’ ideas about the necessity of unconditional positive regard in personality development are comparable to the positive stroke idea in TA. Human ability to change, as viewed by Transactional Analysts, is Existential/Humanist. Having mixed some of the best parts of the prominent theories together in one, Berne simplified it to understandable terminology and made it accessible to the layperson.

In TA, I personally found a theory that is extremely useful and compatible to a moralistic philosophy. Berne and Harris, especially, seem to accept the notion of good and evil and the reality of a spiritual experience. Harris declares, “Sin, or badness, or evil, or ‘human nature,’ whatever we call the flaw in our species, is apparent in every person. We simply cannot argue with the endemic ‘cussedness’ of man” (1967, p. 225). The fallen state of man and his willingness to commit sin is comparable to the not OK life positions that prompt the playing of games that are explained in TA. Saving grace or spiritual rebirth is not unlike the concept of the “I’m OK—You’re OK” life position. Moral values, which are strongly housed in the balanced and uncontaminated Parent, Child, and Adult, will not allow the individual to play games.

“What is a religious experience?” asks Harris towards the end of his book, “Does the mind ‘just get carried away’ with a wish, as Freud suggested, or is there more to it than fantasy?” (1967, p. 231). I think that a religious or spiritual experience is the feeling of working in concert with the universe instead of working at cross-purposes to it. I think that it is the ultimate feeling of OK-ness and true intimacy with the Creator. It was appropriate, I believe, that I first learned of TA in church.

Berne, E. (1961). Transactional analysis in psychology. New York, New York:
Ballantine Books.
Berne, E. (1964). Games people play. New York, New York: Groves Press Inc.
Berne, E. (1972). What do you say after you say hello? New York, New York: Grove
Press Inc.
Brenner, C. (1955). An elementary textbook of psychoanalysis. Garden City, New
York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Hall, C. S. (1954). A primer of Freudian psychology. New York New York: The World
Publishing Company.
Harris, T. A. (1967). I’mOK—you’reOK, a practical guide to transactional analysis.
New York, New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I understand that we live in a free country and it is legal to do it, but few things bother me as much as the idea of smoking. Yes, I tried it and, luckily, it didn't take. However, I have loved ones who smoke and it breaks my heart to think that they are seemingly locked into such a foolish and purposeless habit that will surely shorten and complicate their lives. I love them and I wish I could help them quit. My father smoked from the age of 10 and struggled to stop in his later years. He died of heart disease when he was only 58 and I miss him. My children never had the oportunity to know him. Every time I see a young person lighting up I feel sad for them and their families who love them. For what it's worth, I offer the following.



The lyrics of the song say:
Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette,
Smoke, smoke, smoke…
And when you smoke yourself to death,
Tell Saint Peter at the Golden Gate,
That he’s just gonna have to wait.
You’ve just got to have another cigarette.[1]

The song is about the frustration we feel with the inconvenience caused by people who stop what they are doing—no matter the importance—to feed their addiction to smoking tobacco. In reality, the greatest inconvenience is caused by the ultimate deadly results of a lifetime of smoking. In 1978, my father died at the age of 58 from heart disease. It is likely that his addiction to tobacco and close to 50 years of physical abuse to his own body dramatically shortened his life and left a wife and two children—my siblings—ages 10 and 16 without husband and father. This inconvenience has been proliferated amongst us here in America from generation to generation for over 400 years. During the last 50 years we have suffered the effects of the drug abuse of tobacco and its “inconvenience” to health and life with relatively open eyes, inexplicably ignoring science’s warnings of the health hazards associated with tobacco use. Some of us continue to smoke in the face of growing understanding of the dire consequences and growing social pressure against it because we are still, to a degree, buying the notion that it is somehow cool.


Sir Walter Raleigh, the English adventurer and colonizer of North America has been accredited in legend with bringing tobacco use from the Americas to Europe and beginning an industry that would help make some of the early English colonies in the southern part of North America profitable. Raleigh was beheaded by King James I in 1603 for instigating trouble with Spain, but, alas, too late to prevent the birth of tobacco consumption. It was actually John Rolfe, the Englishman who married the Powhatan princess, Pocahontas, who perfected a salable variety of tobacco that produced a valuable crop for Virginia colonists and a product that would continue to grow in popularity in Europe and the Americas until the present.[2] Little was known for sure about the ill effects of smoking tobacco for over three hundred years, but, apparently, some people were suspicious of its health value. Some religious groups believed tobacco use to be an evil. In some countries in the 16th and 17th centuries, tobacco users could have been punished by mutilation or death.[3] In 1833, Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet decreed, in what would become known as “The Word of Wisdom,” a health code for his followers, that Tobacco, was “not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man….”[4] Even so, tobacco use continued to grow through the centuries, with many considering it to be a sign of maturity, manhood, or sophistication.


Today the whole world seems to smoke, though the statistics vary from nation to nation and tend to differ between the sexes. Over 1.1 billion smokers amount to 30% of the world’s population.[5] Smoking seems to be very popular in the Orient, but only among the male populations. In the Republic of Korea, for example, 68.2% of men smoke compared to only 6.7% of women. Smoking in Europe and the United States has been declining on average, but seems to be an equal opportunity bad habit. Twenty-seven percent of men in the United States smoke compared to 22.5% of women, while in Denmark the men and women are virtually tied at 37% each.[6] Kentucky is the state with the highest percentage of smokers (28%) while Utah—predominantly Mormon—is the lowest (13%).[7]


Despite the image that has been promoted in the media, most smokers that have been smoking long-term would rather not smoke. Many have tried multiple times to quit without success. Due to nicotine, the most active of the thousands of chemical agents in tobacco, the human body learns to crave smoking. The addictiveness of tobacco, due to nicotine, keeps people smoking long enough and heavily enough for the other toxic chemicals to do their destructive work on the human body.[8] Like cocaine and caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that alters behavior, affecting the function of the brain and nervous system. It has the capacity to “diminish appetite, boost alertness and mental efficiency, calms anxiety, and reduces sensitivity to pain.” Such effects might seem attractive if not for the fact that it is addictive. The smoking addiction also promotes lung cancer, cancer of the bladder, oral cancer, heart disease, and is responsible for spontaneous abortions, stillbirth, low birth-weights, and early births for pregnant women.[9] Each time a person smokes, he raises his blood pressure and heart rate, putting extra strain on his heart and blood vessels, increasing the chance of a heart attack. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke decreases the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to muscles, brain, and other body tissues and limits the power that the lung has to clean itself, increasing the chance of lung infections.[10] Also, smokers tend to have poorer eating habits than non-smokers and they are apt to drink more alcohol, taking in lower quantities of nutrient antioxidants.[11]

Statistical studies provide pretty good arguments against smoking. A quarter of all regular smokers will die prematurely due to disease associated with smoking, losing 10 to 15 years of their lives. Smoking is the cause of 90% of lung cancer deaths, 25% of heart disease deaths, and 75% of the deaths from bronchitis and emphysema. Smokers have more peptic ulcers and their ulcers are less likely to heal. A person in Ireland is ten times more likely to die from smoking related diseases (6,000 each year) than die in traffic accidents.[12]

Smoking also enhances the chances of other lung cancer causing properties of other elements, such as asbestos. Occupational asbestos exposure increases the chances of cancer over the general population five times. If smoking is added to the equation, the risk climbs to ninety times than that to the general public.[13] Healthy lungs are able to clean themselves more easily. Mucus in the airways traps foreign particles, and cilia (tiny hairs in the lung) works to move the mucus and particulate matter up to be expelled by coughing. Macrophages (special mobile cells) in the airways also consume toxins. Tobacco smoke toxins increase mucus, but also, in essence, put the cilia to sleep, keeping them from expelling toxic particulates and overwhelming the macrophages. Foreign particulates like asbestos are less likely to be expelled and, thus, are more deadly.[14]

You do not have to actually puff on a cigarette directly to put your life in danger or feel the effects of smoking. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or “second hand smoke” also carries the same thousands of complex mixtures of toxic chemicals that are emitted directly through the cigarette and is harmful to non-smokers.[15] However, many of the same elements and particles that are released in mainstream smoke are varied in concentration in side stream smoke due to the difference in the lower temperatures that generate them—the particulates of side stream smoke tend to form smaller particulates. But though some critics attack studies that suggest that ETS is a serious health risk are flawed and often biased, the fact remains that the chemicals in ETS breathed in by bystanders are not healthy. Prominent chemicals among the respiratory irritants carried in environmental tobacco smoke are ammonia, formaldehyde, and sulfur dioxide. Acrolein, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, and phenol are also in the mix and affect mucociliary function and lung capacity. And we should not forget nicotine and its addictive qualities.[16] Non-smokers exposed to ETS are 35% more likely to contract lung cancer and also more likely to develop cardio-respiratory symptoms. Infants exposed to significant ETS have more frequent respiratory problems than infants who live in non-smokers’ homes.[17]


Though young people may tend to think themselves indestructible, young smokers are not immune to adverse effects of smoking. Compared to their non-smoking peers, young smokers have lower levels of lung function and a reduced rate of lung growth. Their resting heart rates are two to three beats per minute faster than non-smokers. Their overall physical fitness, in terms of performance and endurance is reduced, suffering from shortness of breath three times as often as non-smokers and producing twice as much phlegm. Smoking also seems to enhance young people’s interest in other destructive behaviors. They are three times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and twenty-two times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking may also indirectly cause harm. Studies also show that young smokers are also more likely to be involved in fighting and engaging in risky sexual activities.[18]


Science’s discoveries of the hazards of smoking during the twentieth century seem to have gone unnoticed or at least ignored by many of us. Images of smoking in the movies and on television have tended to reinforce notions of smoking as being “cool.” It is hard to find a depiction of a very manly private detective like Humphry Bogart or a sultry, sophisticated female character like Lauren Bacal’s without a cigarette hanging from their lips or perched delicately between their first and second fingers. In the 1950s, when smoking first became linked to lung cancer by the science community,[19] and early 1960s, it was common to see television commercials showing very “manly” men and very attractive “sophisticated” women enjoying the “pleasures” of smoking. Magazine and other print advertisements in the 40s and 50s also expounded upon the “mental and physical” attributes of smoking:

“MAD AS A WET HEN? That’s natural when little annoyances ruffle you.
But the psychological fact is: pleasure helps your disposition. That’s why everyday pleasures, like smoking for instance, are important. If you’re a smoker, you’re wise to choose the cigarette that gives the most pleasure. And that’s a Camel!” “Gene Nelson, screen and stage star, says: ‘I’ve tried ‘em all. It’s Camels for me!”[20]

Women were equally targeted:

“She swims… she rides… she’s typically modern in her zest for the active life.
Typically modern, too, in wanting to know the facts about the cigarette she
smokes. In choosing Camels, Dorothy Van Nuys enjoys the scientific assurance
of a slower-burning cigarette. That means more coolness, freedom from the
harsh, irritating qualities of excess heat… extra mildness. And she knows, from independent laboratory reports, that in the smoke of extra-mild Camels, there is less nicotine.”[21]

Sadly, the Dorothy Van Nuyses of the period did not receive scientific assurance that the they were slowly killing themselves by smoking.

Advertisement of cigarettes and cigars on television and radio is no longer allowed, but advertisement in magazines and on billboards is allowed with accompanying warnings from the Surgeon General in small print. Everyone should be aware of the sure dangers of tobacco, but tobacco companies are allowed to continue to promote their product in seductive ways. As late as 1986, Camel was targeting youthful audiences in their advertisements with cartoon characters such as “Joe Camel,” a camel who could stand on his hind legs, wearing a cool leather jacket and smoking a cigarette. Memos for the advertisement campaign explain their goals:

1. Target Audience

It is recommended that creative efforts reflect a primary focus on developing advertising which is highly relevant, appealing, and motivational to 18-24 male smokers…

2. Advertising Objective

Overall, Camel advertising will be directed toward using peer acceptance/influence to provide the motivation for targeted smokers to select Camel….[22]

Cigarette companies claim that advertisement is to entice smokers of one brand to come over to theirs, but the strategy conveniently ignores the obvious fact that cartoon characters likely have more appeal to 8 to 14-year-olds than 18 to 24-year-olds and that peer pressure is at least as likely to tempt youngsters to start as is it is to get a smoker to switch to a different brand.

As mentioned above, cigarette smoking has been declining in the United States. Since the 1960s, the peak of tobacco smoking in the US, tobacco use has dropped by approximately 40%. Between 1997 and 1999, teenage smokers between the 8th and 12th grades have declined two points on average across the board.[23] The mandatory disclaimers of packaging and print advertisements along with public service advertisement campaigns against smoking have clearly had an impact. Governmental restrictions in recent years on smoking in public buildings and continued education about the health hazards of smoking have also helped convince smokers to give it up.[24]


In the final analysis, it is difficult to understand that smoking is still as popular as it is. Smoking and its associated problems, disease and death, are a seemingly intolerable inconveniences indeed. Smokers not only have more serious health problems and die quicker than the rest of us, but they spend lots of extra money each year in taxes on cigarettes and insurance premiums, and for the ever more expensive cigarettes themselves, with nothing of value to show for it. There are fewer and fewer places for smokers to pursue their habits—the non-smoking population are increasingly hostile to them. In their book, Tobacco War: Inside the California Battles, Stanton Glantz and Edith Balbach write, “The once-invincible industry has settled lawsuits for hundreds of billions of dollars. Many states are initiating major efforts to do something meaningful about the half-million deaths that tobacco causes in America every year.[25] I am reminded of the lyrics to another popular song that concerns the tedious side of smoking: “And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid git!”[26] It seems clear that, in one way or another, smokers are an endangered species.


ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), Tobacco Related Eposures, 2003,
Brigham, Janet, Dying to Quit: Why We Smoke and How We Stop, Washington, D. C.
Joseph Henry Press, 1998.
CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) How Smoking Affects Health,
Chicken Head, “Truth in Advertising”-Camel Cigarettes,
Daily Trust, The Harmful Effects of Smoking,
Derthick, Martha A. Up In Smoke: From Legislation to Litigation in Tobacco Politics,
Washington D. C., 2002.
Doctrine and Covenants, Salt Lake City, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Glantz, Stanton A. and Edith D. Babach, Tobacco War: Inside the California Battles,
Berkley, University of California Press, 2002.
Glantz, Stanton A., John Slade, Lisa A. Bero, Peter Hanauer, and Deborah E. Barnes,
The Cigarette Papers, Berkley, University of California Press, 1996.
Hadzi-Tanovic, Dr., Smoking and Health: The Facts, International Heart Clinic,
Lennon, John and Paul McCartney, I’m So Tired, Maclen Music, BMI.

Lu, Frank C. and Sam Kacew, Basic Toxicology 4th Ed., London and New York,
Taylor and Francis, 2002.
The Lung Association, Breath Easy-Normal Lung Anatomy; Defense Mechanisms of the
Lungs, http://www.lungca/copd/anatomy/normal2.html
META, EPA AHERA, Asbestos Abatement Supervisor, Lawrence, Kansas, Mayhew
Environmental Training Associates Inc., 1998.
Smoking Cessation, Health Effects of Smoking Among Young People,
The Smoking Gun, Tobacco and Teenagers,
Travis, Merle and Tex Williams, Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette, Unchappell
Music, BMI.
White, Larry C., Merchants of Death: The American Tobacco Industry, New York,
Beech Tree Books William Morrow and Co., 1988.
World Health Organization, Tobacco Smoking (Report),
[1] Merle Travis and Tex Williams, Smoke, Smoke, Smoke, Unchappell Music, BMI.
[2] Paul S. Boyer, The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, Vol. 1. p. 47.
[3] Janet Brigham, Dying to Quit: Why We Smoke and How We Stop, p.11.
[4] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89.
[5] Janet Brigham, p. 12.
[6] World Health Organization, Smoking.
[7] Janet Brigham, p. 18.
[8] Stanton A. Glantz, The Cigarette Papers, p. 58.
[9] Daily Trust, The Harmful effects of Smoking.
[10] Cansa, How Smoking Effects Your Health.
[11] Frank C. Lu, Basic Toxicology, p. 181.
[12] Dr. Hadzi-Tanovic, Smoking and Health: The Facts.
[13] META, EPA AHERA Asbestos Abatement Supervisor.
[14] The Lung Association, Breath Easy.
[15] Stanton A. Glantz, The Cigarette Papers, p. 391.
[16]ASH, US Government: 10th Report on Carcinogens, “Tobacco Relate Exposure.s”
[17] Dr. Hadzi-Tanovic Smoking and Health: The Facts.
[18] Smoking Cessation, Heath Effects of Smoking Among Young People.
[19] Larry C. White, Merchants of Death, p. 25.
[20]Chicken Head, “Truth in Advertising”-Camel Cigarettes.
[21] Ibid.
[22] The Smoking Gun, Tobacco and Teenagers.
[23] Martha A. Derthick, Up In Smoke: From Legislation to Litigation in Tobacco Politics, p.202.
[24] US Government: 10th Report on Carcinogens,

[25] Stanton A. Glantz and Edith D. Balbach, Tobacco War:Inside the California Battles, p. xv.
[26] John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I’m So Tired, Maclen Music,. BMI

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Riddled With ADD

My wife is in the process of writing a book that she hopes to have published. It is to be a guide for spouses and parents of persons with ADD or ADHD. Since it is assumed that I am a sufferer--actually, she would think she is the greater "sufferer"--she asked me to write a bit about my affliction. So, my response is the following.

“Riddled With ADD”

ADD and ADHD were unheard-of terms when I was a young man dealing with the affliction. We, the afflicted, were usually known as juvenile delinquents. I was a C student through grade school. I spent more time in school thinking about what I would do when I got home to entertain myself or daydreaming about funny things I could do or say to break the monotony. The fact that I was pretty smart allowed me to be an average student. I was gifted in sports and art and really enjoyed perusing those interests, so I stood out amongst my peers and teachers in some positive ways, which helped my self-esteem and negated, to a degree, my less-than-impressive scholarly performance. I seem to have entertained the other kids in class—class clown, of sorts—because, when I returned to Kansas as an adult and ran in to an acquaintance from grade school in a line to see a movie, I told him that I had been working a bit in show biz and his response was, “as a comedian?”.

Ironically, I was likely the best educated of my fellow students in some respects. I read a lot and I watched a lot of television. The books I read tended to be classics or historic biographies and the TV programming of the 50s and 60s was much more educational than today. If I saw something on TV that really piqued my interest, an old history-based movie or TV show, I would likely try to find something to read on the subject. I would be surprised to know if there were many children my aged who knew more about the American Revolution, The American Civil War, The Texas War for Independence, King Arthur and The Round Table, etc. than I did. I just didn’t pay much attention in class, unless it was interesting to me and homework was never of interest.

When I entered Junior High school, my aversion to homework was my downfall. I don’t believe I did anything at home throughout my 7th grade year—my first 7th grade year. I failed in English, Geography, and Math, while doing well (As and Bs) in Physical Education, Art, and Industrial Arts and Chorus. I remember doing well on tests in the more scholastic subjects, but my failure to see the necessity of doing homework—frankly, the desire was negligible—and turning in assignments was a clear problem. Neither of my parents had gone past the 8th grade, so I was not really expected to perform well scholastically by my parents. However, I was embarrassed to be held back another year—my friends were advancing without me and I knew I would be assessed as a dope—and was disappointed that it would take me another year to get past the 8th grade and legally be allowed to quit school and go to work as a roofer like my father and older brother.

When I was tested by a school counselor to determine what my problem was, I discovered that I was not a dope at all. The counselor informed me that I had an IQ of 130 and the vocabulary skills of a freshman in college. This changed my opinion of myself profoundly. I began to apply myself to the schoolwork that I had little interest in and I began to do homework. It was not an easy thing for me to do, but I began to reap the benefits of better focus—better grades and inclusion on the schools honor roles. By the end of high school, I graduated a semester early and had decided to go to college, but, though I did not yet know what Attention Deficit Disorder was, I was far from being free of its effects in my life.

I attended night classes at our local university for one semester before leaving for Guatemala as a missionary for my church the following summer. I missed classes, had no clue about dropping classes if I needed to, and didn’t know much about taking notes. After a bad exam in an art history class, I simply stopped going to the class and focused on the classes that appealed to me. I have to say here that, from my later experiences with higher education, that particular art history class and its instructor were abysmal. Even so, I allowed my ADD affliction to derail an earlier successful college experience.

Upon returning from my mission, I returned to college from time to time, while pursuing a music career in the record business as a singer /songwriter. Even as a young man in my mid twenties, I found it difficult to focus on college. Since I expected to be Rock Star in the near future—I had had some minor successes with radio play and record sales in local markets—I only attended college classes that I had interest in, not ever expecting to graduate. The result was a long life of hard physical labor to provide for my family—I returned to roofing and construction work to pay the bills—and frustration with a music career that never developed as I would have wished.

Luckily, I married a great woman with great patience and great capacity to love me and see my potential. Though she was my opposite in many ways—she is the epitome of organization and focus, bordering on OCD, in my humble view—and found my seemingly aimless direction and behavior frustrating, she soldiered on. I eventually went back to college—I had given the music business “the old college try” and decided that it was time—and earned a BA in History before turning 50. I also earned a Master of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health two years later, and started a belated career as a safety consultant in the construction industry. The fact that I married well likely helped me stay married during difficult financial times and various family struggles. Clearly, our mutual faith was a source of strength, but patience and a desire to understand were indispensable to our life together.

As our family grew and Karen (my wife) recognized some of my behaviors in our children, she began to search for some answers. The ADD and ADHD concepts filled in the blanks for her. As she studied the subject and reported her findings to me, I agreed that it seemed to describe my historic struggles and I began to wonder how deeply the disorder had affected me. I also went for a diagnosis and was confirmed as being Attention-Deficit-Disordered. I have found that the prescribed medication does help me focus better and I have used it on occasion, when I have determined that a specific activity might require a better focus.

In the final analysis, it appears that, as national talk show host, Glenn Beck, would put it, I was “riddled with ADD”. I wish my parents and I had been aware of the disorder in my developing youth. Perhaps, with early attention, I could have developed better habits early on, and been able to accomplish more of a positive nature from my youth. I recognize, of course, that we have the gift of free agency and, ultimately, we are responsible for our choices. However, I believe that ADD and ADHD can be crippling handicaps for some young people who do not have effective parental, familial, and institutional support. Clearly, care must given to affirm worth and potential to the ADD or ADHD afflicted, with a focus on personal gifts and talents, and not to give license or excuse for laziness and self-destructive behavior. In my life, an extra dose of personal talent and a well-timed affirmation of self-worth, along with spousal support and understanding, were panaceas and anchors for personal success in the face of what should be recognized as a real handicap. I don’t like to think about where I might have ended up without it.

Note: My son, Jess, informed me that the term, “ADD”, is no longer used, that all forms include hyperactivity, whether physical or mental.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Be Ye Therefore Prepared

Since I am a safety person, I thought my first mind-numbing blog should have to do with my craft and livelihood. The following is an explanation of safety preparedness and a project I worked on some while ago. I tried to make it entertaining as well as informative.


As a twelve-year-old Boy Scout, I learned the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” Also, my mother taught me “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” Even then, I think I appreciated, as well as a very young man can, the value of such ideas. But as a post-September eleventh 50-plus-year old with a family, I am able to recognize more fully the necessity of thorough preparation and planning for the unexpected. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and planning for them will mitigate the potential suffering (physical, financial, and emotional) that may be the natural consequences. This is true for any business, organization, or family group.

Where I lived, in Kansas, tornadoes carry, perhaps, the most likely catastrophic threat. As a teenager in 1966, I witnessed the destruction of much of the city of Topeka by the “June 8th Tornado.” Though it was a boon to my father’s roofing business and provided good summertime work for me, it was devastating for many Topeka families, homeowners, business owners, and churches, totaling more than $5 million, in 1966 dollars.[1] There was also a major flood in Topeka—much of northeastern Kansas fell victim to it—the year before I was born, 1951, which caused similar devastation. Half of the city of Topeka was deluged.[2] Also, a huge fire in 1976 gutted the beautiful Grace Cathedral in downtown Topeka. Entertainer Bob Hope came to town to do a benefit show to help raise money to repair the structure.[3] In 1988 while we lived in Tennessee, a tornado struck the community of Franklin on Christmas Eve causing $8 million in property damage and one death.[4] Though not completely destroyed, our local church building’s brick structure was moved off of its foundation. For several months we were unable to use the building because of building and safety codes and had to share another congregation’s facilities until repairs could be made.

But, as I mentioned earlier, in our post-September 11th world, the possibilities of physical disasters have gone beyond the common “acts of God” such as storms, floods, and fires. The World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Oklahoma City terrorist bombings are also serious threats to be considered in our efforts to plan for disaster preparation. Even bomb threats issued as pranks can disrupt business and cause serious stress in people’s lives. Threats must be taken seriously and treated similarly to a fire alarm, with plans for safe evacuation and prompt reporting to professional response teams. Panicky evacuations have the potential to cause serious mishaps. How we plan for disasters and deal with their aftermath will likely prevent unnecessary damage or suffering.

A few years ago, the leadership of the local stake presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), of which I am a member, requested that the University Branch, of which I was an ecclesiastical leader, put together an emergency preparedness plan for our unit. We were to present it to the stake along with the other ward bishoprics and branch presidencies in the stake so that we could coordinate our plans and share ideas, to develop the best possible response. Preparedness has been a major tenet of the Church, worldwide, for generations. Bishop Victor L. Brown, the Presiding Bishop of the Church stated in a welfare session of conference, October 4, 1975, “All levels of the Church organization must be prepared—individuals, families, wards, stakes, regions, and areas—to respond to the demands of life, so that we as a united people ‘may stand independent…beneath the celestial world.’”[5] For many years, the Church has been at the forefront in providing welfare, financial aid and medical aid to stricken people around the world from earthquake disasters in Guatemala and Turkey to flood and weather disasters in Europe, Polynesia, and Africa. But though the Church has sufficient resources to insure itself, Church leaders stress the importance of local units being prepared and self-sufficient, to be proactive—not just reactive—to not depend significantly on outside local city and state emergency response organizations. And so, we have tried to comply.

Our unit, the Topeka University Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served college students and unmarried adults who lived in the Topeka area. It was one of five church units in the city of Topeka proper and one of nine units of the Topeka Stake (geographical area) at large. At that time, we had two buildings or chapels in Topeka, which were shared by the five units (4 wards and 1 branch). Our branch, which consisted of nearly 100 members, shared our building with two “wards” (larger units with set geographical boundaries under the direction of a bishopric) of about 600 members each. Attendance for our meetings averaged around 50 persons for our gatherings while the wards average around 200 each. We staggered our meeting times during Sunday meetings and other meetings during the week to avoid overcrowding so that no more than 400 people are likely to be in the building at a given time. Our building was located in a residential area of town, conveniently within 100 yards of a fire station.

Our response to the directive from Church leaders to be proactive in emergency management was to form a committee to discuss the possible emergencies, individuals with special needs, and the priorities of actions to take and to coordinate our efforts with the other units that meet in our building and throughout the city and stake.

The welfare committee, which consisted of the combined Branch, Elders Quorum (priesthood body), and Relief Society (a church women’s organization) Presidencies constituted the Emergency Response Planning Committee. In the committee, we analyzed not only the needs of our branch, but also the talents, skills, and abilities of individuals in the branch and the tools and equipment that were available for branch use. Our efforts resulted in the following document:
The Topeka University Branch Emergency Response Plan.
(Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent and provide some levity to a serious theme.)

The Topeka University Branch Presidency is committed to protecting Church members’ lives, their property, and their resources, and to protect Church property and resources by planning for potential disasters and emergencies. Copies of this Emergency Response Plan are to be given to all members of the Topeka University Branch Welfare Committee.

Possible Emergencies (in the order of likelihood):

1) Ice/Snow Storm.
2) Tornado.
3) Fire.
4) Flash Flood.
5) Terrorism.
6) Nuclear power plant disaster.

Priority of Actions in an Emergency:

1) Contact all individuals in the branch and assess their personal safety
and needs. In the case of an ice or snowstorm, members must be notified of meeting schedule changes and hazard removal teams organized to remove the snow and/or ice from walkways.

2) Assist those who are injured or in danger.

3) Arrange for shelter and other selected services as necessary. If church property becomes unusable, arrangements for new meeting locations will be chosen and provided under the direction of the Topeka Stake Presidency.

4) Determine where additional needs are present and how to proceed in handling them. This may include coordination with other wards or branches for mutual help under the direction of the Topeka Stake Presidency.

Threats from tornadoes or nuclear fallout during times of church property usage require orderly movement of people to basement area of the building. A roll call of persons present will be initiated via priesthood and relief society assignments to determine that all are accounted for.[6]

Fires and bomb threats require orderly and immediate evacuation of the church building by the nearest and safest escape routes and notification of the police and fire departments. All persons will gather on the southern parking lot where an immediate roll call, via priesthood and relief society assignments will be held to verify complete evacuation.[7] Only professionals should handle suspected bombs.[8]

Branch members with special needs:

Individuals Needs

Dixie Chicks Judgment Disability (low priority)

Stephen Hawking Physical Disability (high priority)

(Note) All members are classified as either “High Priority” or “Low Priority.” Those classified as “High Priority” do not live with family members in a home ward or they are otherwise in need of special attention from the branch. Those who are marked with an asterisk on the branch roster are “High Priority.”

Branch members with special skills or equipment:

Special Skills Individuals
Medical (first aid/CPR, nursing, etc.) Randy Mundy, Clara Barton,

Carpentry (roofing, home repair, etc.) Randy Mundy, Joe Hammers,
Homer Depot.

Plumbing (any plumbing experience) Randy Mundy, Ima Flushing, and
Anita Waters.

Electrical (safe knowledge) Randy Mundy, Noah Wiring, Bill

Child Care (Multiple children care) Benjamin Spock, Randy Not.

Computer (professional experience) Bill Gates, Definitely Randy Not.

Tools/Equipment Owners
First aid kits Branch Office, Randy Mundy, and
Clara Barton.

Misc. Tools (hammers, saws, tools, etc.) Randy Mundy, Homer Depot.

Ladders Randy Mundy, Gwen Up.

Trucks/Vans Randy Mundy, Henry Ford, Chevy

Camping Gear Randy Mundy, Bob Baden-Powell,
Bill Boyce.

Chain Saws Randy Mundy, Ima Sawyer, Willie
Emergency Response Team Heads (Organized by service responsibilities):
Services Assignment
First Aid assistance Clara Barton
Food Preparation Dave Thomas
Housing Bill Marriott
Sanitation Randy Mundy
Child Supervision Benjamin Spock
Communications Plan of Action in the event of a disastrous emergency:
· Any member of the branch can begin the communication process by contacting any of the three members of the branch welfare committee.
· A member of the welfare committee will contact the Branch President. If the Branch Presidency is not available, the Elders Quorum President should be contacted. If the Elders Quorum President is not available, then any member of the Branch Presidency should be contacted.
· The Elders Quorum President will contact all members of the branch via the quorum reporting system, using the current Home Teaching assignments.
· Time schedule for finding and reporting should be as follows: The Elders Quorum President should contact all home teachers within 30 minutes of the notification to start the process. The home teachers will contact their assigned families within 30 minutes and report back to the Elders Quorum Presidency within 45 minutes. The Elders Quorum Presidency must then report back to the Branch Presidency within 90 minutes of the initiation of the response plan.
· The Branch President will then report to the Stake President and the Stake Presidency will report up the chain of authority to the Presidency of the Church if necessary to petition any needed assistance.
· After all branch members are accounted for, the Branch Presidency will plan and coordinate further efforts.
· One member of the Branch Presidency will be designated to coordinate the Branch’s efforts with those of bordering units (wards and branches) of the Topeka Stake (see list of ward welfare specialists in the Topeka area). Needs that may be addressed by outside units will be brought to the attention of the coordinator by the Elders Quorum Presidency.[9]
· All members who are classified as "High Priority" will be contacted first. Visiting Teachers from the Female Relief Society may be called upon as back up contacts to assist the Home Teachers for hard-to-reach female members of the branch.
· All communication will be done by phone if possible. When phone lines are not available, Home Teachers will be sent to communicate by motor vehicles. When travel by road is unsafe, communication must be accomplished by traveling on foot. In such a case, contact assignments will be coordinated to meet geographic necessity (i.e. the member who lives closest will make the contact).

Branch Presidency:
George W. Schrub (Pres.), Randy Mundy (1st Counselor), Eduardo Consejo (2nd Counselor), Al Gofur (Executive Secretary), Will Dewitt (Br. Clerk).
Elders Quorum Presidency:
Anciano Viejo (Pres.), Designado Mejor (1st Counselor), Del Segundo (2nd Counselor).
Relief Society Presidency:
Neva Shirks (R. S. Pres.), Shees Competent (1st Counselor), Alice Well (2nd Counselor).
Updating and Testing of Emergency Plans:
The emergency response plan should never be considered complete. Due to the nature of the Branch with the constant changing of student members, updates and revisions to this plan on a regular basis will not only be helpful, but necessary. The Executive Secretary and Branch Clerk will be responsible for these updates and updates will occur quarter-annually in the months of January, April, July, and October. In addition to the updates, regular tests of the communication system and plan of action will also be held twice each year in the months of January and July, including fire and tornado drills. The Topeka Fire Department will inspect the church property each year to correct all fire safety oversights. These provisions will enhance the effectiveness of the plan.[10]

As eluded to in the afore mentioned plan, the Church units all have “home teaching”—directed by the priesthood quorum (men) –and “visit teaching”—directed by the Relief Society (women’s organization). In this program, two men/women are assigned to visit certain (4 to 6) member families on a monthly basis to present a spiritual message and assess spiritual and temporal needs. This organization provides the practical network needed to contact every member of the branch and report back to church leaders and then to address, under the direction of branch leadership, the various needs throughout the branch membership. Each ward and branch of our stake has produced their own similar version of an emergency response plan and has shared their ideas and coordinated their efforts to best achieve the directive from the Stake Presidency, “to be prepared.”

Though Church leaders have long taught the importance of keeping food storage and money savings for long-term emergency use, it has also been advised throughout the Church that individuals and each family to be prepared to provide for their temporary needs in an emergency. To help our branch members become personally better prepared, our welfare committee planned a special meeting to instruct them in compiling “72 Hour Preparedness Kits.” During the meeting, instructors taught the importance of having necessary items gathered together in a convenient spot to be taken along at a moment’s notice in case of immediate emergency evacuation:
Family Back Packs
Father’s Back Pack Mother’s Back Pack
Change of clothes (w/shoes and socks) Change of clothes (w/shoes and socks)
Toiletries Toiletries
Money (waterproofed) Money (waterproofed)
Sleeping bag, tent Sleeping bag, tent
Rain poncho Rain poncho
Matches and fire starter fuel Matches and fire starter fuel
Canteen, eating utensils Canteen, eating utensils
Shovel, hatchet, saw, rope, etc. Family first aid kit (w/ presc. meds)
Toilet paper, soap, wet wipes TP, soap, wet wipes, sewing kit
Flashlight Flashlight
Food (3 breakfast, 3 lunch, 2 family Food (3 breakfast, 3 lunch, 1 family
Dinner) Dinner)
Child’s Back Pack (age 6-18) Child’s Back Pack (age 3-5)
Change of clothes w/ shoes and socks Change of Clothes w/shoes and socks
Toiletries, TP, soap, wet wipes Toiletries, TP, soap, wet wipes
Sleeping bag, tent Sleeping bag, tent
Rain poncho Rain poncho
Flashlight Flashlight
Canteen Canteen
Food (3 breakfast, 3 lunch, 6 high Food (3 high energy bars)
energy bars)
Infants – All the infant necessities, formula, food, clothes diapers, blankets, etc. plus something to carry infant in.

Primary Rule: Only things you cannot do without for health and safety for 72 hours.

Willingness to implement such personal and family emergency preparedness is an important element of overall emergency planning and supports the church and community efforts to preserve lives and resources.

Life, of course, is a wonderful thing, but it can be very unpredictable, in the good and bad extremes. If we are to live and enjoy our lives to the utmost, we must anticipate the unthinkable and plan for it. Preparing for emergencies and acting upon well-planned contingencies will not only potentially save lives and mitigate potential suffering, it will also allow us the comforting knowledge that we are as safe as we can be, that we have done the best that we can. I am reminded of the words of James in the Bible, “But wilt thou know O vain man that faith without works is dead.”[12] We can go about our lives more secure in our future if we have done the necessary work and planning in the present. Clearly, the notion that if one fails to plan, one plans to fail is true. You can plan on it.

Brown, Victor L., “An Overview of Church Welfare Services,” The Ensign, (The Church
The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) November 1975. Retrieved Jan. 15, 2004
Gustin, Joseph F., Disaster & Recovery Planning: A Guide for Facility Managers,
(2nd ed.). Lilburn GA: Fairmont Press Inc. (2002.)
The Holy Bible, (King James Version).
Kincaid, Patrick, The Thunderbolt—Weather History, Retrieved Jan. 15, 2004 from
The Topeka Capital-Journal,, “1976 was a time for Hope,” 5/30/03.,
In-Depth: 1951 Flood, and “Flood of the Century,” In-Depth: 1966 Tornado, “1966 Tornado.” In-Depth: Retrieved Jan. 15, 2004 from
[1] Topeka Capital Journal, 1966,
[2] Ibid., 1951,
[3] Ibid., “1976 was time for Hope,”
[4] The Thunderbolt Weather History,
[5] The Ensign Magazine, Church Publications,
[6] These provisions coincide with suggestions for emergency preparedness for tornados by Joseph F. Gustin, Disaster and Recovery Planning: A Guide for Facility Managers, 2002, p. 64.
[7] Ibid. These provisions coincide with suggestions for evacuation,. p. 123-33.
[8] Ibid. p. 114.
[9] Ibid., These provisions coincide with Gustin’s observations about ‘Response Effectiveness and Leadrshp” and “The Chain of Command” in Emergency Preparedness. p. 44-6.
[10] The Topeka Student Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan. Valued Customer

[11] This printout is given to all members in attendance at the branch welfare fireside meeting.
[12] James. 2:20.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I asked my daughter, Heidi, to put together this blog site--I actually have no clue about this stuff-- so that I might be able to join the 21st Century of the self absorbed. Actually, I have enjoyed reading some of the blather and expostulating I have found on the net and thought it might be fun to add my thoughts and opinions to the mix. I'm not sure anyone will find my musings entertaining or even remotely interesting, but nevertheless, I guess I feel compelled to enter the fray.

I do not intend to write solely about me and what I may have done this week or that---though there will surely be a good bit of that--but, I intend to speak to subjects that I find interesting. I have interests in art, music, religion, history, and politics, so I expect to find time to address each in the future. That is, if I don't get bored with the whole blog thing--I am a terrible diary writer, going months, even years without making an entry. My Bachelor's degree is in History and my Master's degree is in Occupational Safety and Health. Thus, I have done some research and written a fair amount on those subjects. I plan on revisiting some of those old papers for blog fodder. Also, I am a sculptor and singer/songwriter and could see myself writing about my thoughts on art and music and, perhaps, finding a way to make my creative works available to the interested listener or viewer.

In sum, take it or leave it, this blog is about what I think is interesting and entertaining. You're welcome if you want to come along.