Quitting Smoking

Uncle Mack’s post about reaching age 70 got me thinking about quitting smoking.  It’s one of the things he advises you do to reach that milestone.  Of course, every public health expert and doctor agrees.

I smoked for years.  I started in 1975, after I graduated from high school.  When I was in college everyone smoked, and I did, too.  I continued smoking through my first post-college job at the Toledo Blade because every reporter smoked.  Shortly after Kish and I moved to Washington, D.C., I quit.   After about a year, I went to law school and started smoking again.  I smoked throughout law school, then quit when I began my judicial clerkship after graduation.  When we moved to Columbus and I started at the law firm, I took up smoking again.  In 1992, I quit again — this time for good.  I haven’t smoked a cigarette for about 20 years.

My cigarette of choice was Salem Lights.  I smoked about half a pack a day.  I lit up first thing in the morning because it gave me a kick start (and also seemed to encourage certain plumbing functions, if you know what I mean).  I smoked later in the day, when I would hit that attention wall in mid-afternoon and needed a jolt.  I smoked when I watched crucial football games.  I smoked when I went to bars and parties.  For the most part, it was a method of dealing with stressful situations — but I never felt like I had to have a cigarette. It really was more of a habit than an addiction, one that seemed to help me focus.

It wasn’t hard to quit.  I decided I didn’t want to smoke anymore — the impact of smoking on the longevity of Webner males is horrendous — and I just stopped.  I quit cold turkey, without patches, hypnotism, or gaining 100 pounds.  I avoided temptation for a few weeks, and then really didn’t miss it anymore.

I think people are very different in that regard.  For some people, like me, quitting really isn’t that tough.  For others, who are in thrall to nicotine cravings, it is impossible chore.  I don’t think we should judge those who smoke — they clearly know that it poses health risks, but they either don’t care or are in the grip of a powerful addiction that they just can’t shake.  Either way, it’s not for me to browbeat them about their personal habits.

To those Webners who still smoke, I would only say that I have been a heck of a lot happier since I quit.  I feel better, cleaner, and healthier.  Quitting smoking was one of the very best decisions I ever made, and I recommend it.


On Aging

Well I’ve been 70 for almost 2 ½ weeks now and because it is such a milestone in our family for a male to reach such an ancient age, I feel like I should be passing on sage advice on life to the younger male Webners. (However, I recently read that 80 is the new 65 and so 70 makes me the equivalent of somewhere around 55. That seems right as I feel like I think I felt at around 55.)

As to passing on any tidbits about life at 70 or how to get there or what its like to be there, I find that the kind of information that might help prepare others in their journey to becoming 70 is the stuff of all those tired old jokes and trite quips you hear about growing old. For example, it is quite true that when I was forty I knew everything and had all of the answers. Now I know very little and have few answers. The old saw about “you are only as old as you feel” is also true. Some days one feels 100 and other days you have to stop and recall just how old you are because you do feel like 40 (or 55). “All things in moderation” is pretty worn, but with the examples of excessive drinking and smoking we have it makes an appropriate motto to adopt. I hope no one is smoking these days, but if any are, my advice is quit now.

The reality of aging hits you when simple tasks become chores. For example: trying to get up out of an easy chair after sitting and watching the first half of a football game. Knees are sore and locked and hips ache and wobble. But merely sore hips and knees are really nothing. It seems like everyone I know who is around my age (some younger, some older) are having knee and hip replacements. One doctor around here claims to do 500 knee replacements a year. That strikes me as an assembly line operation that would make Henry Ford jealous. Quickly standing, after bending over to tie my shoes or after teeing up a golf ball, also provides a stark reminder of the aging process. Then, somewhere around 60 – 65 and definitely by 70 the plumbing issues arise. No men escape them. All of a sudden men’s rooms, rest stops on road trips and the “powder room” at a friend’s house become important places in your life. Shopping trips require preliminary surveys of the mall to determine the location of the public rest rooms before undertaking any buying. Be prepared younger Webners – the, knees don’t flex as readily, the hips creak and ache, the stream weakens and the hair thins. But don’t panic when you begin to notice these changes, they are universal. Let’s just call them signs of maturity. Well, O.K., they’re signs of aging but be thankful you’re around to have the signs.

On the other hand, while I creak a bit and ache more than I used to, I can still ride my bike for a couple of hours, work out at the Fitness Center several times a week, play 18 holes of golf (or, rather play at playing 18 holes of golf) several times a week, mow my yard, trim our shrubs and, as I did this summer, lay a flagstone walk from 5 tons of stone that I had to split, move and place. Heck, if 80 is the new 65 I have ten years to go to my second retirement! 70 may be a Webner benchmark but it really isn’t very old.

After a couple of weeks as the “old guy” I haven’t stumbled upon any pithy insights to pass along. Maybe they’ll come along later. But it’s alright that I don’t have any advice to send along, because by the time the younger Webners near 70, 90 will be the new 60 and they’ll not care what its like to be 70 or how to get there.

Buckeye Booze

It turns out that the Utica Shale natural gas play isn’t the only boom that’s occurring in Ohio.  The Ohio alcohol industry also is growing like crazy.

During the first six months of 2011, Ohio handed out more permits for breweries, wineries, and distilleries than ever before.  There are now 164 wineries, 70 breweries, and 14 producers of spirits in the Buckeye State.  These businesses employ thousands of workers.  Some have been started by families and home brewers who’ve decided to take their hobbies to the next level; others are well-funded operations that seek to capitalize on the growing interest in locally produced food and drink items.

Kish and I seem to run across Buckeye booze everywhere we go.  At the Black Creek Bistro, which prides itself on its local sourcing, the bar serves Ohio-produced liquors.  At Ohioana events, we’ve sampled wines offered by Valley Vineyards, from Morrow, Ohio.    There’s even an “Ohio River Valley Wine Trail,” complete with promotional brochure, that allows the wine connoisseur to visit 10 wineries in the southwestern part of the state.

The local sourcing movement is great for the producer and for the consumer, too.  The locally crafted hooch is of good quality and is non-generic.  You get options that you wouldn’t get from a large, distant commercial manufacturer — and you’re helping your neighbors, besides.