Knee-deep in research

When I was attending college in the 1980’s, research meant digging into those old green paperback Reader’s Guide to Periodicals. I loved doing research papers and hunting down pertinent articles.

Then in 1992 I took trips back to the University of Northern Iowa library researching chronic illness when I was suffering with one of my own. The doctors weren’t any help; one even asked me why I had to have a name for what I was suffering with, just to live with it and stop looking for an answer. My research netted me a huge file full of information I could give to a doctor who would listen to me; what I was not suffering from was the boredom of a housewife stuck in the house with small children. (which is what another doctor told me) The doctor who finally spent the time to listen to me looked at all my research and looked me in the eyes and told me I was not imagining my illness. That was all I needed to hear to begin my journey of living with a chronic illness. That, and a prescription for Bentyl, to treat the worst of my symptoms that made the bathroom my true home.

A pregnancy jumpstarted my body to heal itself somehow, and I haven’t had those CFS symptoms for 16 years now.  But it was through that rudimentary research in the University library that my interest in the effect of vaccinations on a child’s immune system peaked, and I did more research on that subject, making the unorthodox decision to delay and do without some of the reccomended vaccinations for my future children. 

My interest in research peaked once again during my husband David’s bout with oral cancer in 2006. Only this time the research was via the Internet. What a difference a decade makes. Type in “cancer” in the search engine and hundreds of thousands of results come up. And I do mean HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. My oldest son Dan, my daughter Beth and I skimmed through tons of information and learned way more about cancer than we ever wanted to know.  For instance, did you know that one out of every two men and one out of every three women will get some form of cancer in their lifetime? 

Now I am working on my next book and looking into the history of couponing and refunding. No book about couponing can be complete without looking into coupon fraud. And when you write about coupon fraud you have to include the history of refund conventions and why they dissapeared. I’d never attended one but I used to read about them, and thought they sounded like a lot of fun; women bringing their extra coupons and refund forms and trading, along with fun drawings for refund premiums. However, whenever and wherever there is a good deal to be had, there is someone, somewhere taking advantage of that, and sure enough, there were those who were making their own reciepts and selling them. Back then, everyone who was using coupons and sending for refunds legitimately started getting nervous because of those few “bad eggs” who made us all look suspect. The same is true of counterfeit coupons that have made for nervous store managers and cashiers. Once again, those of us using our coupons in a legitimate manner felt defensive of our wonderful money-saving hobby.

Anyway, either my research skills are, indeed, rusty, or I am going to have to do some archival research, which I am definitely not up on. Ask me to search newspapers on microfilm and michrofiche (I am dating myself, I’m afraid) and I can do it, but I have no clue how to do archival research on the Internet.

So I am going to the source, those women who refunded and attended refund conventions in the 80’s.  I have been posting requests for information on, but have had at least one woman say we should “let sleeping dogs lie,” to the effect that I realize there are probably those women who are worried now that they could still get in trouble today from participating in those conventions in the 80’s. I’ll have to be sensitive to that. My interest in writing this book is that of delving into the psyche of those super couponers out there. Who are they? Why do they use coupons? I have interviewed women who make as much as $500,000 a year and still use coupons. What motivates them to use coupons? I am fascinated about this subject.

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