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Monday, September 30, 2013

pop-we Dinner Club Reviews Charleston's

Charleston's oven-roasted chicken.
Not to be confused with Charleston, South Carolina, this month population-we™ (pop-we) foodie Randy decided on Charleston’s. Charleston’s is located in five states with 16 locations. There are two locations in Omaha, NE: 13851 First National Bank (FNB) Parkway (off of Dodge by Boystown) and 7540 Dodge St. We visited the location on 138th and FNB. It is a freestanding building near a business park. When you enter the restaurant the dining area is straight ahead and a bar right of the entrance. It is dimly light place giving it an ambiance of a date night or special occasion eatery. According to their website they describe themselves as a casual upbeat restaurant with modestly priced American classic food with a warm comfortable décor.

Tonight I decided to try the oven-roasted chicken. Their chicken is herb roasted served with garlic-mashed potatoes and smokehouse baked beans. I was able to substitute the baked beans for green beans. I thought my meal was very good. The chicken was juicy and full of flavor complimented with the garlic mash and green beans--it was very enjoyable. My wife ordered the turkey burger, as she enjoys them very much but is particular about the red meat alternative. Becky expected a gourmet turkey burger because of the upscale restaurant. In her book Charleston’s turkey burger came up a little short. The meat was a bit dry and the bun was soggy not toasted.

After compiling the surveys from the other foodies the pop-we Dinner Club gives Charleston’s a 3.96 star average on a scale of 1-5.
Charleston's key lime cheesecake and molten brownie sundae.

Atmosphere/Decor – 4

Cleanliness – 4

Wait Staff – 4.33

Menu – 4

Food Presentation – 4.33

Food Portions – 4

Food Taste – 3.66

Cost (was the cost worth meal?) – 3.66

Noise Level – 3.66

Overall Experience – 3.96

For more information regarding directions or Charleston’s menu, visit their website at

Fellow population-we™ readers, if you've been to Charleston’s leave us a comment and tell us what you thought?

Want to do this yourself? To review how to start your own dinner club, visit our January post about doing just that. Remember it is a template; tweak it to fit you and your friends’ tastes. pop-we Dinner Club: good food…good friends…good times.
Charleston's on Urbanspoon

-population-we™ blog post by Brian Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Scuba Diver Blogger Comes to the Defense of Diana Nyad

This post has two parts. The first to send accolades to world-record holder Diana Nyad. Bravo to the United State's Diana Nyad for her recent world record long-distance swimming feat! On Sept. 2, Nyad successfully swam through the choppy shark and jellyfish infested waters from Cuba to Florida. With her swim, she became the first person to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. After this amazing 53-hour act everyone would think she'd be showered with accolades. Instead, a wave of naysayers have caused her to take the defense. Appalled hearing she had to defend herself on a three-hour conference call this blogger and Scuba diver wanted to speak up on her behalf! Time and time again, Nyad has insisted her record be recognized as "unassisted." That brings us to the second part of this post to speak up on Nyad's behalf from a scuba diver's perspective.

Let me break it down for non-novice water sport enthusiasts:

Current 101
Similar to Nyad the current can either aid or hamper your water sport experience. Nyad claims her fast time of 53 hours was in fact because of the strong Gulf Stream current near Key West. This Scuba diver has too experienced the strong Gulf Stream currents first-hand! Most recently on a shark tooth dive near Venice, Fla., at 33 feet down near the Gulf of Mexico floor. Members of the Greater Omaha SCUBA Club (Go SCUBA) were searching for Megalodon shark teeth. Read more about our Florida divecation at my Scuba Diver Life post at Nebraska Shark Tooth DiversI want to add the current was fast. Go SCUBA had some very experienced Scuba divers on our dives. Two in the Go SCUBA group, Dwight and Jerry, who have more than 60 years of scuba diving experience between them. On our very last dive of the day, unbeknownst to these two veteran divers, they found themselves swept away in the current behind the boat. Not until the duo surfaced did they realize the fact. This is a situation--any Scuba diver doesn't want to find themselves in--having to fight the current to get back to the boat. The Hammerhead boat crew had to send out a lifeline attached to a buoy to get Dwight and Jerry back on the boat. On the other end; however, Scuba divers also use the current to aid their under water exploring. This is called drift diving. When drift diving a Scuba diver effortlessly rides the current to float him/her over corals until they reach their final destination. In short, it allows Scuba divers to use less effort on their dive.

Proper Gear
Nyad's use of gear for her swim was also brought into question. It was reported that Nyad abided by most of the Florida Straits Rules: no shark cage, no flippers, never holding on to the boat, no getting out of the water, never being supported by another human being, never holding on to the kayak or helped with buoyancy. She did however opt to protect herself by wearing a full-body suit (wet suit) and mask at times during her swim. Let us remember her swim was more than 53 hours. How long before one is in a temperature regulated bath tub before your hands prune up? Nyad is in the open ocean waters where the temperatures can spike to below dangerous conditions for a non-insulated human. A Scuba diver's very lifeline is the gear and equipment we wear. No buoyancy help without my buoyancy control device (BCD) and I would not be enjoying the sport of Scuba diving. Without fins this land dweller would not be able to keep up with her dive buddy husband either. Any water sport enthusiast knows the danger of jellyfish, which can alter a swim as much as a strong current, too. While in Cancun, Mexico, while just out for a quick snorkel my husband and I got stung by baby jellyfish. It was truly a painful experience and til this day makes me leery about doing water sports in the ocean without any protective gear.

She didn't give up, in fact, this was her fifth attempt to set a long-distance swimming world record. At 64, Nyad indeed accomplished this world record! Will any of the naysayers be training for a similar feat in their silver years? Let's commend her for a truly amazing act at any age. After her swim with teeth chattering, Nyad said: "Never ever give up, you’re never too old to pursue your dreams, and trust in a team to reach your goals." Thanks for being an inspiration to swimmers and Scuba divers of all ages--Well done, Nyad! Keep swimming and diving!

(Editor's note: Go orange! The entire month of September all population-we™ posts will be written in orange to aid No Kid Hungry's effort to bring attention to their nonprofit's cause and help end childhood hunger in the U.S. Read more about going orange at our post on Help End Childhood Hunger for No Kid Hungry.) 

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Estes Park Honeymooner Reminisces on Flooding Heartache

The Brown's on our Estes Park honeymoon.
The “Forgotten” Marriott Building. Interesting how this fact has been left out of all the reporting regarding the alleged bad PR move at a San Francisco Marriott Hotel recently. A Twitter user (who I chose to remain nameless) posted a photo taken at a San Diego Marriott Mission Valley hotel saying: "In remembrance of those we lost on 9/11 the hotel will provide complimentary coffee and mini muffins from 8:45-9:15 a.m." A single Tweet about the offering turned a commemorative act into a PR nightmare for Marriott. The sad reality is if there is one company who can bring light to the impact of 9/11--it is Marriott. Guests and members of the Marriott family were lost on 9/11 in New York City’s 3 World Trade Center. Until this date, they still do not know the total number of deaths. Marriott even started a foundation to help in the healing process for the survivors of 3 World Trade Center--September 11 Survivors of Three World Trade Center. I think Marriott’s PR team missed an opportunity here to shed light on the nonprofit. I think; however, it is more unfortunate that journalists and bloggers forgot this very fact. I have dear friends who stayed at the Marriott Hotel located at 3 World Trade Center on their honeymoon before the building was lost. My friends have very fond memories of their stay and will never forget the people they encountered as well as Marriott World Trade Center.

Our honeymoon destination was not blown up by a terrorist attack but washed away by Mother Nature. Similar to John and Michelle losing 3 World Trade Center The Brown’s are filling a loss, too. Heavy rains caused Colorado flooding in Larimer, Weld, Boulder, and Jefferson counties. Glued to the television and computer monitor watching the town that we honeymooned--all the emotions came flooding back. The cabin we stayed out on Fall River Road in Estes Park Colorado is gone! Learning this news, I immediately reached out on social media. Shown below on Google+ I wrote: “Brian & I are so saddened by this video of Estes Park because we spent our honeymoon at a cabin on the edge of town some 19 years ago. Prayers go out to all the two and four-legged residents! #EstesParkFlooding” On Facebook I had a similar message, and there I learned of countless friends and relatives who also spent their honeymoons at Estes Park. Given the outpouring of comments time and time again; I was reminded how truly a romantic and tranquil a place this special town in the Rocky Mountains provided to so many other honeymooners.

Watch another mind-numbing Great Estes Park Flood of 2013 video. At the time I wrote this post on Sunday evening officials reported 1,000 unaccounted for in the Colorado flood. Please help the residents of Estes Park and this honeymoon destination spot by giving to the American Red Cross. To help people affected by this flooding disaster, population-we™ readers can donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations may also be made by visiting

In short, Estes Park will never be forgotten by The Brown's and countless other honeymooners.

(Editor's note: Go orange! The entire month of September all population-we™ posts will be written in orange to aid No Kid Hungry's effort to bring attention to their nonprofit's cause and help end childhood hunger in the U.S. Read more about going orange at our post on Help End Childhood Hunger for No Kid Hungry.) 

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 9, 2013

A Caregivers Q&A on Living for the Love & Inspiration of her Daughter

It is now possible for family or guardians to care for loved ones at home who formerly were forced to be placed in an institution. In reading the accounts of mothers of children who survived severe traumatic acquired brain injury, I have witnessed the fierce determination and the love of the mothers who have chosen to care for their children in their home. I have interviewed Cheryl O’Brien who has cared for her daughter Terri for 25 years. Although she lives in Australia, I think that caregivers in other countries can also relate to her frustration with the “red tape” of the system! I have only recently met O’Brien and appreciate her willingness to share her perspectives.

Q. On July 14th, you wrote, "You will make a bigger difference than a whole team of therapists and doctors..." Can you elaborate on this?

A. The nurturing that a child receives from their family will determine how well the child responds to medical interventions and therapeutic programs.

The attitudes and care of family members are consistent and permanent, therapists and doctors come and go. Medical people work from a basis of 'make same', this is a focus that makes difference 'wrong'. It affects the self-esteem and self-confidence of a person with disabilities and puts their own focus on how different they are to others rather than a more positive focus on being how alike they are and that differences when they occur are neither good nor bad, just different.

Family works from the basis of 'accept the individual' this focuses on the sameness of people in a positive way and reflects the idea that individual differences are just a part of life for everyone, ie Mum is different to Dad, and that is okay, grandma is different to aunty and that is okay too... There is less generalizations in family-based care.

The complete polar views affect the outcomes of all programs, therapies and medical interventions. While the need for medical interventions and therapeutic programs is present it is not the doctors, nurses or therapists that carry out the programs or follow up on the interventions, rather it is the family that does this.

Q. You write that Terri has never been a burden to you, but that the red tape is the burden. Society often makes people feel like a burden and a great fear of many is that they will become a burden. Do you have any additional thoughts on this subject?

A. Terri has never felt like a burden, her needs are simply that, her needs, they do not feel burdensome.

When Terri has a need that I cannot meet and I need help to meet that need and the process of getting the help is laden with appointment times, meetings, paperwork, policies and lots of waiting for people to do their job then I feel burdened. Organizations and services providing the needs for people with disabilities are very focused on preventing a litigious situation and their policies are always focused on them not being sued.

I am not interested in suing anyone; all I am interested in is getting Terri what she needs.

Q. On August 16th, you wrote "Yes, she has a brain injury. No, that does not mean that it does not matter what you do with her. It matters more." That was very poignant. Do you have any additional thoughts on this subject?

A. There is an attitude among many people that so long as they are 'doing something' with Terri that is enough. It is not. Having a brain injury means that everything you do needs to be done in a considered manner, taking into consideration the abilities, the possibilities. Terri does not need people to keep her out of the way of family, or community, she needs help to be enabled to take part in family and community. She is not a burden or inconvenience she is a valued member of our family.

The fact Terri cannot communicate easily that she would like to do a particular event or activity and that she cannot report back to family what she experienced are always major considerations. It is quite possible for a carer to say they are taking Terri out for a particular activity and then drive to a car park or even back to their home or somewhere similar, play on their phone or iPad  do their own household chores, then bring Terri home without having done anything, this has happened in the past the carers attitude was simply that "well I got her out of the house so you didn't need to worry about her." In fact it has created extra worries, what really does happen when someone takes Terri out plays on my mind a great deal. I can tell by Terri's responses when she comes home that all did not go to plan but it is hard for her to communicate any level of detail.

For a young adult to learn a new skill it would take many hundreds and probably thousands of repetitions for them to learn that new skill, when you have a brain injury it is more likely to take many hundreds of thousands of repetitions to learn a new skill. For Terri it can take years of repetitions and so every time she is able to repeat a skill she is closer to gaining the skill. Every repetition matters.

Q. Please explain briefly what you said about brain injury does not mean that you have intellectual impairment.

A. There are many examples of a person having a severe and even near profound brain injury where the impact is on physical ability, and yet they have retained a high level of intelligence. The fact that a brain injury can mix words and sounds up from brain to mouth, and can affect the individual’s ability to make their body do what they want it to do means that communication is very difficult and a lot of effort must go into finding a communication system that works before any measure of intelligence can be made.

Most forms of intelligence testing rely on the ability of the person being tested being able to communicate and or being able to make their body respond at will. A brain injury can severely impair communication and body response without impairing intelligence.

Q. I see that you do a lot to stimulate all the senses. Please tell more about the sensory garden and the musical instruments.

A. Recovering from a brain injury is a lifelong process. Very early on an experienced therapist told me to stop having 'therapy time' with Terri, rather, to consider every interaction and every activity to be therapy, some activities are modified somewhat, some activities are just a part of a whole person therapy program. This same therapist also told me that some things that are therapeutic are meant to be pleasant as well.

Therapy does not have to be all hard work.

When Terri was six an English gentleman named Robin Howitt came to her school and offered to do music therapy sessions with kids whose parents were in agreement. I spoke with Robin as I was a bit concerned with someone taking too much interest in Terri especially since so many people at the time were busily telling me how Terri was just never going to progress.

Robin explained the benefits of the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy system and how the very worst thing Terri would experience is having someone on one time with a person playing a muscle instrument for her, but there had been much evidence of even profoundly disabled kids and adults responding well to music therapy. I agreed to let Terri do music therapy.

Over the years Terri progressed slowly, at first just responding with a wiggle of a finger or a half smile then slowly unfolding her body to participate in the music making. These days Terri has a broad range of musical instruments and they provide her with a means to express herself, something she can do independently, and an experience of success, but most of all they provide her with a great deal of enjoyment.

Two years ago the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre started a singing group that was open to everyone. Terri, her sister and I all joined and still attend weekly. This is the highlight of our week. Over the two years I have seen Terri join in more and more with the singing, harmonising along, and now that she has her own piano she plays that throughout the week and sings along in lovely little melodies that she makes up as she goes.

Terri's sensory garden has only just been planted, this is outside her bedroom and there is a deck leading from her room out to the garden, a solar powered pump works a fountain in a pond providing the sound of flowing water, the plants I have chosen, all Australian natives, will grow and fill the spaces with a wide variety of scents, textures (soft and fernlike to thorny) and tastes (many plants are bush tucker plants that are used by Australian Aboriginal people), as well as colorful flowers with the plants flowering over varying seasons throughout the year. By choosing native plants it will also provide shade and shelter, food and resting places for native birds and animals. We are lucky enough to live on five acres and have wild kangaroos, echidna, antechinus, and various other animals pass through our yard, having this garden so close to Terri's room with native plants in it brings her into closer contact with the birds and animals. Another feature of the sensory garden is the wind chimes, ornaments, and a cocoon swing which all add variety of experience. Curling up in the cocoon swing on the deck in the afternoon and listening to the wild birds in the nearby trees is relaxing and allows Terri to more fully experience nature.

It is my personal belief that nature and music are both very healing.

Q. Any additional thoughts about being a caregiver of someone with a brain injury?

A. When I started out as a caregiver for a person with a brain injury I was 24 and Terri was six months old. I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing about brain injury or disabilities at all. It was my very lack of knowledge that led me to want to be very well educated on brain function; physical, emotional, and mental development; and disabilities.

I asked every doctor and therapist for the title and author of a book I should read. I asked them for information all the time; I never left an appointment without some more information. When Terri was in a swing I would sit and read as I rocked the swing, when she was sleeping I would read, I read dozens of books, hundreds of articles, and continue to this day reading on every topic related to Terri's disabilities. I can easily say that I have forgotten more than I remember.

Very early on I realized that just because someone has a title to their name does not mean they know all there is to know and that if I wanted Terri to have every chance to progress as well as she could I would have to be able to read, understand and collate information into workable ideas that were practical and could provide positive outcomes for Terri. It really was up to me.

Q. Feel free to discuss anything that you like which I missed.

A. Terri is a great joy to be around. She loves life and never gives up! She is a great inspiration.

To learn more about Cheryl's care-giving bond with her daughter, visit their blog, Life with Terri Lee. Recently, O’Brien had a post about the need for caregivers to have their own interests and time aside from being a caregiver. She reminds us that it is better to help give respite along the way than to wait until a person is burned out. I appreciate all the insights about ways to provide resources and support to caregivers so that they can focus on providing the best possible care for their loved ones.

(Editor's note: Go orange! The entire month of September all population-we™ posts will be written in orange to aid No Kid Hungry's effort to bring attention to their nonprofit's cause and help end childhood hunger in the U.S. Read more about going orange at our post on Help End Childhood Hunger for No Kid Hungry.) 

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, September 2, 2013

Help End Childhood Hunger & Go Orange for No Kid Hungry

September is Hunger Action Month! To commemorate, this post is dedicated to the unsung heroes behind the kitchen counters at our neighborhood schools. You may not know them by name but your kids do. It's the lunch lady! This fact was brought to my attention a couple times by my niece. For Christmas Emma got a new gaming device that also had a camera function. As she proudly showed off all the gizmo's Emma also smilingly showed me a picture of a woman. I asked, "whose that?" And she responded, "my lunch lady, Trish."

Fast forward a couple years and the family is at the lake house celebrating her brother's 13th birthday. While talking by the fire pit her grandma and mom commented that Emma seems depressed. So, I  put my aunt hat on and waited for the right moment. I noticed my opening and sat down alone with Emma along the shore and asked what was bothering her? On her mind was Trish. Emma and her best friends had grown very found of their lunch lady. According to Emma: Trish showed them around the kitchen, genuinely cared and asked every day how their day was going and at times cooked them a special treat. The sad part was the girls were moving to junior high and would not see Trish anymore. Emma went on to tell me that the girls bought a cake and presented it to Trish the very last day of school. At this moment, I was such a proud aunt and a bit teary-eyed learning of this sign of gratitude from the girls. Most of all, very thankful to Emma's lunch lady for obviously being there for her when she needed someone to be kind to her in those awkward pre-tween years.

My niece lives in the suburbs; however, in other parts of the city the "lunch lady" has a similar but also a much different connotation. They are also the friendly face the kids see every day but to some of these kids she presents them with the only warm meal they may have that entire day. I have three dear friends who are and have been lunch ladies. They've each shared with me how sad they are when school is out because they worry about "their kids" being fed. population-we™ has reported on a nonprofit who tries to combat this hunger problem in South Omaha with a Kids Café and a backpack program. Read the  population-we™ post on Completely Kids fight against hunger. However, when I learned that a nationwide campaign by No Kid Hungry is taking place this month--I knew we had to let our readers who reside in other states know about this effort to end childhood hunger, too.

Because of the stories I've heard from my friends (Keely, Sue & Mary), I have a different thought when we have snow days in Omaha. Most kids or parents are a flurry on Facebook with utter happiness. But at that moment, I'm thinking of the kids who may not get a hot meal that day because school is cancelled. This reality is realer than you know because according to the No Kid Hungry website, "More than 16 million kids in America live in a household that struggles to put food on the table." Knowing this fact, let's commit to do something about this ugly reality! Help No Kid Hungry help eradicate hunger in the U.S. by going orange for Hunger in Action Month. So far more than 421,369 people have joined and pledged to help end childhood hunger. Please join team No Kid Hungry! There are several ways population-we™ readers can help.

They are:

Every $10 you give can connect hungry children with 100 meals.

Eat Out.
The entire month, restaurants nationwide are showing their support by offering special promotions that benefit the campaign. 

Lead a Cooking Matters at the Store Course.

Talk to a Congress Person.
Tell Congress: Federal nutrition programs are crucial for hungry children.

Spread Awareness.
Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Go Orange.
During hunger awareness month, you can add your support to the No Kid Hungry campaign by turning your social media profiles orange and letting your friends and family know you care about ending childhood hunger. We did. This entire post is written in orange to show our support!

Visit the No Kid Hungry website for details on all of the above.

I hope by reading this post our readers come to realize there is a real hunger problem in the U.S. and will take action this month and help kids not grow up hungry! And, most importantly--thank your kids lunch lady!

(Editor's note: Go orange! The entire month of September all population-we™ posts will be written in orange to aid No Kid Hungry's effort to bring attention to their nonprofit's cause and help end childhood hunger in the U.S.)

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2013 population-we, LLC 
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