Who should make your eating decisions for you?

The food police are feeling their oats , so to speak, and it is not  a pretty  sight. We have nefarious things afoot in the Empire State and that is not even the worst of it. First, there  is A.10129 that has been introduced in the New York legislature by Brooklyn  Assemblyman  Felix Ortiz. The bill would ban the use of salt in any restaurant in the state and provide for  a fine of $1000 per violation.

Item#2, also from New York. For the second straight year Gov Paterson has included a proposed soda tax in his budget. Now, read very carefully his reason.” Someone has got to contribute to the $7.6 billion the state spends every year to treat obesity.” His proposal dovetails nicely with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s call for  a  1  cent tax per  ounce on soft drinks. Paterson also hinted that other products such as  burgers and candy bars could be tax targets.

And, just down I-95 in Philadelphia, the city budget for fiscal year 2011 includes  a 2 cents per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Approval is pending.

Finally, researchers writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine   are suggesting taxation as a weapon in the obesity fight. They estimate that an 18% tax on pizza and soft drinks could  cause a decrease of as much as 5  pounds annually in the weight  of  the average American adult. Presumably this would happen by reduced consumption due to the tax.The team, which was led by Kiyah Duffy of  UNC has strong allies in the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control director, Dr Thomas Frieden.

What  does all  this  activity bring to mind? Why, the campaign against smoking, of course. Don’t be at all alarmed if somewhere, either New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco  gets this tax passed. If one city does it, others will be sure to follow. Then,the door is open to tax on multiple  items;candy, cookies, any fast food, even sugar itself. And, it is all in the name of health. So, that wouls make it good and right, right?


March 11, 2010 Posted by | Culture | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Amazed Yet Again

As I write, it is a balmy 25 degrees, wind chill 16, in northeastern North Carolina. The sun is shining and there is a brilliant blue sky overhead. And, yes I am amazed. Why is there a blue sky overhead? How can it be so? You see, the Tar Heels fell on their sword last night down in Charleston, SC  in trying to be nice to an old friend in Bobby Cremins.

Cremins used to hang out at Georgia Tech but now coaches at the College of Charleston. Yesterday’s  Raleigh paper had a nice article about Cremins and the game, adding that there was no chance Cremins team could win last night. Shoulda seen it coming after that. Carolina had 2 starters out with injuries and their guards ended up shooting percentages equal to today’s  temps.

Yes, there were late game snafus, a miracle shot at the end of regulation, etc that should have never mattered. Did I forget to mention the 11 point lead that vanished in the last 4 minutes? How could I forget that?

I could wax eloquent and wonder what fate will befall us when the games arrive versus Duke (ugh) and others. Will  there be an ACC victory this season- sure-  How many- good question.

One last aside. On my Tar Heel collectible shelf, there stands  a soft drink bottle  commemorating the 1982 National Championship. It fell off the shelf today, all by itself. Must have been in shock.

Things will improve, right? And probably even before next season, right? Well, there is always last year to remember!

January 5, 2010 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can U Be Replaced?

Sort of an open ended question, is it not? I want to begin big and then move downward from famous people to not so famous ones. The late ABC newsman Paul Harvey was always one  of most favorite newspeople . It seemed to me that he  was almost in a class by himself; at once reporter, commentator and yet never too full of himself. Since he died earlier this year he just has not been replaced. Don’t know  what  ABC has done  to fill he void, doubtful they even could.

On the other hand, Charles Kuralt, North Carolina native and Tarheel alum was host for years of  Sunday Morning on CBS as well  as other segments here and there. He died in 1997 after hosting the program for 15 years. He may not have been replaced in the strictest sense but he was  succeeded  by CBS’ own Charles Osgood. And Osgood has put his own stamp on the show while for this viewer retaining the same “feel”. One was replaced, one not.

Our own presidency provides for me the greatest example of replacement or succession,if you will. Potentially, every 4 yeras  we replace our chief executive. We have been doing so for over 200 years. Through war( Roosevelt to Truman ) assasination- Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy; death, Roosevelt, Harrison, Harding ;  the office changes hands. Often it is controversial. Try  the  1876 contest between Tilden and Hayes before you leap to any conclusions.

The system has worked, not always to our liking, but it has worked.  Our head of state can be replaced so perhaps we should be careful not to toot, toot our own horn so loudly.

One small personal example, actually one example that was repeated. Way back in 1979, my company prepared to transfer to a somewhat distant locale. Mrs THT and I were quite active in our church and that made our departure more difficult. I will confess to feeling  a  bit smug about the positions I held and thought how will they do without me. I somehow forgot that the church was 100 years old and, just maybe would carry on. It did.

Fast forward some 13 years. Same church, a bit greater position of leadership and  another job transfer. Imagine my feeling when I jokingly told someone in a meeting how easy I wold be to replace. Another person responded, I don’t know about that and actually was not kidding. Proud was I, oh yeah. Again was I replaceable,see previous lesson. Seemed almost as if  I were being taught  a spiritual lesson to not be overly enamored with myself. Still working on it some, not so much as before.

Not nearly as proud of   my humility, either. Ha!

October 25, 2009 Posted by | church, History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Shoot Low Boys, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”

Yes, I was, am, I guess a fan of the late Lewis Grizzard, a southern author and humrist non pareil. I suppose I was introduced  to him when living in Georgia  in the late 70’s and early 80″s. I could always  get  a  laugh by just reading aloud  the names of his  books.  His columns  themselves  were always treasures. I learned that he was actually born in Ft Benning, next door to where we lived in Columbus. I knew from his writings that he suffered  from heart trouble,which was finally the cause of his demise at age 48.

Just recently, I piped up  about  one of his books at work and one of the guys I work with  exlaimed  how happy he was to learn he was not the only Grizzard fan in the world and would so inform his wife.

Now, after that overly long intro, I guess I should shed some light on my choice of that phrase for my title. I sort of put my own spin on things sometimes to have a phrase suit a  situation. And so it is this time. I have taken this title and doubtless used it in a way the author never intended. For me, in  a more or less humorous way, it means setting ones expectations low enough so that they are easily attainable.

Now, don’t jump to the conclusion that I have no high expectations, for surely there have been some along the way. But you must admit that low ones are easier to meet than the higher ones, each and every time.

A couple of examples might suffice. UNC  football has never attained the lofty heights of basketball. There have been some very good years,some great players( Julius Peppers, Lawrence Taylor, Don McCauley and of course Choo Choo Justice) but never  a period of excellence that was maintained for long. So we aim lower as fans and hope against hope that now is different and that Butch Davis will be the guy. I would use some work related examples from over the years, Suffice to say, they have existed.

Am I a pessimist, perhaps. Truly a glass that is half full has got to be half empty as well.  But in an  effort to fight that natural born pessimism, remember that the 2010 elections will be here soon enough. You are welcome.

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Literature, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Praise But Not Bury

I was really hoping this particular post would have been delayed for another week or so. But Tar Heel baseball, alas, has ended its season in Omaha just a few steps short of its goal. The Heels lost yesterday to Arizona State for the second time in the College World Series and must wait till next year.

It has been  a great 4 year run for Mike Fox’s teams. Carolina made four consecutive trips to the College World Series which exactly doubled the program’s number of trips. Two of those trips saw the Heels come agonizingly close to winning, but to fall short. This year, even Coach Williams could not cheer them to victory. I know there will be some criticism about not winning it all in 4 attempts and thus making these guys failures. I would beg to differ. Sure, the goal is to win a championship but I believe this 4 year run has itself been a great and noteworthy accomplishment. So, hats off to  the players and coaches and support personnel,  both this year and the three preceding years.

We can look forward to watching high draft choices Alex White and Dustin Ackley move up the ladder toward the majors. And there is Daniel  Bard and Andrew Miller who are already there. And there will be more.

Next year will bring more heroics to Boshamer Stadium. There will be new players, some players  that will participate in an athletic program that Tar Heel fans can celebrate. Don’t forget, football will be here soon!

Boshamer Stadium, Home of the Tar Heels

Boshamer Stadium, Home of the Tar Heels

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Playing Like A Girl

Winning Tar Heel Soccer Players

Winning Tar Heel Soccer Players

The above picture expands a bit on my title and indicates that it is definitely a compliment of the highest order . It might have been Coach Smith who said that he coached at a soccer school . While that was a bit overstated , kudos are in order for the Tar Heel  women who won their 19th NCAA soccer championship in the 27 year history of the event . For the first , the Heels were slight underdogs against both UCLA and Notre Dame and yet emerged with 2 close wins .

Casey Nogueira was MVP of the championships , scoring twice against the Fighting Irish . Interesting tidbit , her expressed  goal before attending Carolina was to win an NCAA championship, she and her teammates won 2 .

Another UNC stalwart was Yael Auerbach, senior leader who played  107 games in her college career . She was also on the all tournament team along with Brittani Bartok, Whitney Engen , and Tobin Heath .

Hearty congratulations to the entire squad along with Coach Dorrance and the entire staff. Dont forget to buy a celebratory t-shirt .

Suppose these folks can be remembered a bit along with a few names from previous years like Mia Hamm , Kristine Lily, Heather O’Reilly , Tisha Venturini and Cindy Parlow ? Shucks , just get the media guide .

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carolina Blues

I knew I should have done it sooner . i should have written this on November 8, no matter how late  I got home . Then the sense of euphoria would have still been present . But now, a scant 15 days later , the euphoria has departed, has been probably ran under the bed and hidden , afraid to emerge lest it be bashed once again into submission.

On November 8 , my wife and I met my youngest sister and her husband in Chapel Hill for our first Tar Heel football game in more than a decade . The day began early  and ominously with rain and clouds for much of our westward trek . But miraculously , blue skies appeared near Orange County ( if God’s not a Tarheel, why is the sky Carolina Blue ?  Sorry, couldnt resist ? ) and the weather cooperated the rest of the day .

Thanks to my brother-in-law , A UNC grad , the logistics to the stadium as well as our seats were flawless .Both my wife and I love the atmosphere of college football in Chapel Hill . The band , the cheerleaders, the message boards ( really cool ) the Famous Rameses XXII ( not sure about the number ) mascot with his tasteful blue horns , the food, the pregame , halftime etc . Oh yes the game was excellent, a 28-7 Carolina win over Georgia Tech .

One thing surprised me a bit , I found myself a bit overcome with emotion during the pregame buildup  but finally decided that was ok . Ah, postgame , the alma mater and the cup collecting were highlights. Cannot wait till next year .

Being an unfortunate pessimist particularly when it come to Carolina football, we arrive at part deux . The very next gane , the Heels were poised for a big road win that would have put them into position for a shot at the ACC championship which they have havent won since 1980 . Alas and alack ,  a late field doomed that and brought back my sense of limited predicting . I think that in the course of a Carolina game i can often tell the outcome, usually a loss. My wife thinks this is bunch of hooey but I doubt it.

Anyway, yesterday , another golden  opportunity , Senior Day against an archrival from Wake County . we were favored and so what happens, an early Thanksgiving, the Heels turned the game into a turkey shoot for the opposition and lost big . Oh well, one more game and then a low level bowl game when it could have been so much more . Hang in there fellows , next year will be better . Besides the women’s soccer team  is still on the march !!

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Family, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Basketball, Olympic Style

The American basketballers are rampaging through through the Bejing games, intent on reclaiming the gold medal that somehow turned into bronze in 2004 . Even their nickname, the ” Redeem Team ” hints at their mission . Why not, the USA record was 129 wins and 2 losses prior to Sydney . But my focus is on two other teams , the silver medalists of 1972 and the real redeem team of 1976 . The 1972 results remain controversial even some 36 years later . As it played out the American team took a  one point lead with one second remaining . After being allowed to inbound the ball 3 times , the Soviet Union scored and won a dramatic victory . The Americans protested but lost that vote 3-2 along party lines . A very interesting thing to me is that that the Americans refused their silver medals then and refused them again 30 years later. They remain in a Swiss bank vault . Bad sports  ?  Dont think so . This game  was played during the height of the Cold War and was very much politicized . Sidelight, UNC star Bobby Jones was on that team . So with that as a prelude , 1976 was the must win of must wins . Also at this time, the American team was all collegians who came together for only a short time period while their opponents were generally older and more experienced .  UNC coach Dean Smith was chosen to lead this 1976 team. His legacy was just beginning to be formed so victory was by no means a guarantee . Especially was this true when several of his own Tarheel players were selected along other players from their conference . So the enormous pressure combined with vocal doubts about the makeup of the team made this a precarious task at best . History tells us  that ” the Dean ” knew what he was doing and the real redeem team recaptured Olympic gold . Neat little side stories about that team abound . But just time for two of them . One of the UNC players on the team was current LA Laker general manger Mitch Kupchak, another player was Indiana’s Scott May whose son Sean later helped UNC win a national championship .

August 13, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment