And When I Die


No I’m not talking about my blog, but it is relevant to the podfade. There is so much I want to write about. How thrilled I was about The Hyperfactory achieving their harvest plan and that Derek and Geoffrey are planning on coming back to New Zealand to share their knowledge and help others follow in their successful path. As you know location based services and mobile marketing are amongst my passions.

I would also have liked to talk about the Rex which set foot in New Zealand, just as I was bemoaning the difficulty of Kiwi innovators to capitalise on their ability; again an area that has been of great interest to me. Then of course there is the tentative success of the oil cap on the BP oil well. I have pondered much on Oceanic Dead Zones, whilst the BP accident helps extend them.

Two months ago I was faced with a family crisis. My father in law was told that he had somewhere between 3 days and 2 weeks to live. Life as I know it, pretty much stopped. Our close family was in shock, even though we knew it would come eventually. Before you offer condolences, he is still alive:)

Having developed a taste for tobacco while serving in the air force, 20 years ago he had a laryngectomy as a result of throat cancer. He didn’t take it lying down. He learned to talk again and picked his life up. He became involved with the Lost Chord Club and eventually became President, counselling others through their throat cancer journey. He also visited schools and let children look into his stoma, seeing that he had to breath through a hole in his neck, caused through smoking.

So for most of the last 20 years he was in remission, then the cancer returned and as often is the case 2nd time around, it was not going to be possible to treat it.

So my life and that of my family has changed dramatically for a while and  many of things I have been wanting to do, I haven’t had time for. We spend as much time as we can with him, because once it is over it is totally over.

It strikes me that whilst we all know that from the moment we are born, we can be certain of one thing (I have blogged about people (such as some from Singularity University) are doing everything they can to avoid it) it appears that death is a given for each of us.

So we have been assisting with respite care, trying to help him maintain his dignity as he becomes helpless, and his confusion as to both why he is still alive and what will become of him when he dies. Will there be a place for him in heaven? Is there a heaven? These things worry him. He has never been a religious person, although he was a church choir boy many years back. He worries about his wife and what will become of her after he passes on.

We all worry about each other, how each is going to cope with the end. I wonder how the women of the family cope now, they look after him around 18 hours a day, partly because they want to and partly because there are not many people who understand how to look after someone with a hole in their neck, who can’t talk. If he had a shower and water got into his stoma, he would drown. If his neck valve leaks (and this happens from time to time) when he eats a few spoonfuls of his porridge, the food can leak into his lungs.

Anyway, things aren’t normal right now and no one can tell him what is next tomorrow, let alone for eternity. Two months ago he was told maximum 2 weeks. Two weeks ago we were told “a few days”.  It took us a while to understand what he meant every time he woke up and asked “What’s going on?” We thought he meant Who’s here? or Is someone going to take me to the toilet? But eventually we figured out that he is asking, “Why am I still alive?”

So it seemed appropriate as I wait for my finger nails to toughen up again (for guitar) after washing the bathroom and shower, so I can do my latest Berklee Music assignment and then head back to the rest home after a work out at the gym (down to one a week because I go to the rest home straight from work) that today’s blog be about something more basic than singularity and the latest problems with iPhone 4. Once you break it down, we are just an essence in a body that peaks somewhere between late teens and mid twenties and then starts to die.

Sometimes all that matters is the people that are close to you and can give you comfort, and you them. When you break it down, we are beings in flesh and blood in a temporary home.

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Why do people still smoke?


With the amount of information about the effects of smoking, it amazes me how many people still want to smoke. My father in-law had a laryngectomy several years ago and speaks through a valve in his neck. After several years of remission he now has tumors in his bladder. My mother in-law has emphysema and cerebrovascular disease, which is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease with similar symptoms. She still smokes.

The cost of smoking increases constantly with taxes and governments have been forcing manufacturers to add more and more horrific images of rotting lungs and other consequences, but to little avail.

It is now known that current smokers have a 50% greater likelihood of getting dementia and are 70% more likely to get Alzheimer’s Disease. It deems this hasn’t had the same publicity as other consequences, perhaps because there is no cure, or operation to help people recover from it.

For people that want the nicotine rush, but want to avoid the tar and other carcinogens that come from tobacco, there are now other alternatives. One is nicotine gum. I used this myself some 20 years ago when I decided it was time to give up. The gum worked for me because I wanted to give up and by continuing the supply of nicotine I was able to get over the psychological urge to smoke.

Now there are E-CIG’s which allow you to continue getting the nictotine rush as well as the need to have something in your hand, to put in your mouth and suck in that deep breath, inhaling a measured shot of nicotine sprayed from an atomiser and then having a nice relaxing exhale. This could one day become quite the vogue for people who want to enjoy smoking, but want to avoid the risks. There are several benefits. You don’t have to be a pariah, standing out in the cold, excluded from enjoying your passion, barred from restaurants and drinking establishments.

There are some ironies in the smoking statistics. In the US, the highest percentage of smokers are those just above the poverty level at 29.9%. Overall around 24% of men and 20% of women in the US smoke tobacco. You often hear of people saying the smoke because they can’t afford many vices and smoking makes them feel better. Off course we all know that those same people also have a lower life expectancy. Some of it might be down to access to medicine, not having medical insurance and so on, but those that can least afford it seem to spend the most money on alcohol, gambling and smoking (to list the legal things).

In New Zealand around 25% of people smoke and a worse statistic is that around 174 to 490 non smokers die from second hand smoke.

There is no end in sight and while in countries like New Zealand it is pretty much illegal to advertise tobacco in any form, hope over to countries like Jamaica and you will see enormous ‘statues’ of packs of cigarettes and billboards of people with big smiles on their faces as they take a big lungfull of tar.

I would love to see support for the E-CIG’s because if people got the same stimulation, even if they don’t have fun curling the smoke from their mouths to their noses, or blowing smoke rings, they would at least live longer. I don’t know how bad the nicotine is as a stimulant.  I did some research on whether nicotine is harmful in itself and there are conflicting opinions and I guess given the commitment of manufacturers to keep making and selling tobacco products, there is potential for bias.

The main thing people say is that nicotine is an addictive substance, but my experience was that nicotine chewing gum made it so much easier for me to give up smoking. The evidence on smoking tobacco is irrefutable and the many court cases the tobacco industry has lost bear testiment to this.

I have a problem with intelligent people using and abusing drugs. Whether it is overuse of prescription drugs, smoking, taking mild or dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines or binge drinking. Many of my friends drink alcohol every day and many can’t open a bottle of wine without finishing it in one sitting. Many are happy drinking a whole bottle on their own, several times a week. I have a friend who works in a prison with methamphetamine addicts and told me that they have inmates who have virtually no brain left. That warden still smokes and drinks to excess.

So here’s a lits of what intelligent people are legally risking with tobacco smoking according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly nine out 10 of lung cancer cases, as well as other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Smoking 15 cigarettes a day doubles your heart attack risk. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have cardiovascular illness or heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and also is related to cancer of the bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix, stomach, and some leukemias.
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of infertility in women and the chance of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, decreased birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborn. Low birth weight babies are more likely to die or have learning and physical problems.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis, than are nonsmokers.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications such as kidney disease.
  • Impaired senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing as it once was.
  • Risks to your family. Spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease, compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections and colds.

So I’ll leave the last note to doctor’s of yesteryear:

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)