Niki Conrad is the daughter of Nick and Nedra Conrad. She was born and raised in Fort Dodge Iowa. As a fellow Iowan she is naturally spectacular. In addition to being naturally spectacular, she (like me) has a dad who is dead. Unlike me, she was in the midst of a campaign for Webster County Supervisor.

She tells me, for better or worse "death and I have been pals" for a long ass time. 

She got through the campaign with help from friends, family and the Fort Dodge community - and she proudly - and patriotically - serves that community today. Just as her dad served his country during the Vietnam Era. 

The death of her young sister, the death of her father, and now facing an unmitigated COVID19 pandemic, Niki and I talk dads, grief, empathy anger and how to be a mask wearing patriot without really trying. 

 

Niki = one of my favorite people. 

More Episodes

Episode 8: Grief Kitty

September 15, 2020

Dirty Word Alert

 

Today I explain how against my best efforts I gave in to adopting a kitty who ended up saving my life - and biting my legs off. 

Episode 7: Ether, Chloroform and the Curse Of Eve

August 30, 2020

Genesis 3:16 is pretty clear on the matter of ladies, childbirth and pain. An even-tempered Old Testament God cursed Eve and her offspring (which, I mean technically include men...but) because she ate food when she was hangry.  This brief palette cleanser of an episode chats up the wonders of chloroform, a bunch of cheery Scots an equal number of grumpy Scottish Calvinists and the birth (get it?) of anesthesia for labor and delivery! 

Episode 6: Heather, Medical Death Investigator - The 60% More Death Stuff Cut

July 6, 2020

This is an expanded version of my interview with Heather, a friend and medical death investigator in our home state of Iowa. 

The original version is only about 15 minutes long and offers a good overview of her job, and the job of some trained medical professionals who investigate deaths. But, there was some good stuff I left out - including an anecdote about her dad and my dad back home in Beaman, how we believe talking about death = less hysteria and fear about death, and some minor navel gazing by me - the would be podcaster.

 

ORIGINAL 

Heather is a medical examiner investigator. She has been a nurse for 9 years and working in death investigation for 3 years. She and I grew up in the same neck of the woods in Iowa and she still lives and works there. There are a lot of different systems throughout the US of death investigations. Some systems are questionable, lacking rigorous oversight or - not kidding - medical training. 

But, lucky for us Iowa isn't one of those. Heather tells me about her job - at least some of it. Come for the talk of death investigation stay for two Golden Girls trivia questions.

Full disclosure: there is one f'bomb in this - but it is well deserved. 

Episode 5: Torch Number One, Prague Spring and he Velvet revolution

June 9, 2020

Over 30 years ago Czechoslovakia staged he Velvet Revolution. So named because from the outside looking in the revolution - resulting in expulsion of the USSR and renewed free open elections - looked peaceful. And for the most part in 1989 it was. But the movement for a free, liberal, democratic Czechoslovakia stretched back decades to the Prague Spring which was anything but peaceful. 

 

This is the article I wrote over a year ago for TIME for the 30 year anniversary

https://time.com/5730106/velvet-revolution-history/

Audio from Jan Palach's last interview Radio Prague International:  https://www.radio.cz/en/section/czech-history/czech-martyr-jan-palachs-enduring-legacy-50-years-after-his-self-immolation 

 

 

Episode 4: Jonestown: The Recovery Effort, Secondary Trauma Victims and PTSD

May 28, 2020

Society’s understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder was limited in 1978 and associated almost exclusively with wartime experiences, falling under the umbrella of what was often thought of as “shell shock.” Even less was known about the impact a mass casualty recovery mission would have on first responders. A smattering of studies had been done by the military on nurses, for example, but the literature was sparse.

Jonestown was a more massacre than mass suicide and the recovery effort was daunting. After the US Air Force and volunteers recovered the over 900 bodies from the Guyanese jungle the USAF knew they needed to find out how the first responders coped. 

https://time.com/longform/jonestown-aftermath/

https://jonestown.sdsu.edu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OapPeL-69Ns

https://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Section-1-has-referrals.pdf

 

Episode 3: Ann Neumann: COVID19, Death and Life in America (Part One)

May 18, 2020

Ann Neumann is the Author of The Good Death: An exploration of Dying in America. We cover a lot of ground in this episode. There is so much to yap about at this very moment from dying, living, pandemics, misinformation, health care - you can see where I am going with this. 

In part one we discuss terminology - how we talk about death and end of life care, the logistics of death care including hospice, living wills, etc., and Ann's current deluge of work amid the COVID19 pandemic in NYC. 

Read her thoughtful and nuanced work: 

End of life planning during a plague:  https://www.vox.com/2020/4/15/21220975/coronavirus-end-of-life-planning

Stories of nursing home workers:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/14/nursing-home-workers-carers-coronavirus

Beautiful work (and amazing photos by http://laylahbarrayn.com) about funeral directors in New York during the pandemic

Her Book: 

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Death-Exploration-Dying-America/dp/0807076996

Episode 2: My Dead Great Great Grandpa

May 12, 2020

Fortunetellers, strangers poking a dead man's body in the early 1900s death on full display. My Great great grandpa had the decency to die out in public - in a decidedly spectacular way. If I know small towns like I think I do, there is a good chance people in Coon Rapids, Iowa are still gossiping about it today.  Public inquests, lawsuits, train suction and safe school crossings. Oh, and a fortuneteller because of course there is a fortuneteller. 

My Dead Great Great Grandpa

May 11, 2020

In 1916 James Titus was sucked under a train on his way home from seeing a traveling fortune teller. He's my twice great grandpa and today on dead to me, I talk about his death, the newspaper chatter of the day, public death inquest and death foretold.

Episode 1: Heather, Medical Examiner Investigator

May 1, 2020

Heather is a medical examiner investigator. She has been a nurse for 9 years and working in death investigation for 3 years. She and I grew up in the same neck of the woods in Iowa and she still lives and works there. There are a lot of different systems throughout the US of death investigations. Some systems are questionable, lacking rigorous oversight or - not kidding - medical training. 

But, lucky for us Iowa isn't one of those. Heather tells me about her job - at least some of it. Come for the talk of death investigation stay for two Golden Girls trivia questions.

Full disclosure: there is one f'bomb in this - but it is well deserved.