2009-03-18 / Opinions & Letters

Midwest Memo

Yellow cake and white frosting
by Alan Shultz

One day into my new eating habit plan and I'm feeling a little...crabby.

Yesterday I passed by chocolate donuts at the convenience store and my rightful share of yellow birthday cake with white frosting at the office. And last night, while plucking chickpeas and alfalfa sprouts from the salad bar at the grocery store, I could hear ice cream bars rustling and struggling to get out in the refrigerated cooler behind me.

The new reduced-fat-meproject was occasioned by a date with destiny. Actually, it's a wedding date, one at the end of April when niece Carrie and her beau Joey get married out in California. I've got a nice suit for the wedding. And if this wedding is a stand-up affair, I think I might get by. But if any actual sitting is involved, this suit and I are seriously mismatched at the waist.

One lifestyle change I initiated yesterday was the route I take from my desk at the office to the ink jet printer connected to my computer. It's a straight 100-foot shot from my cubicle to the computer. Lying midway between me and the printer is a clear glass container filled with miniature chocolate candy bars.

The bottomless treat jar, as it is referred to, is meant for the occasional sweet treat, the momentary delight, the late afternoon pick-me-up. It is not, however, intended to be breakfast or lunch or the reason to print a copy.

Because these candies are indeed "miniatures" I have treated them as if they do not count in the caloric total of a day. A year after working in this office and after an estimated several thousand trips to the printer later, I see where I may have misjudged my actual consumption pattern of "print a copy, eat a miniature."

So yesterday, I found myself a new route to the printer. This route adds another couple hundred feet to my path. In this time of economic turbulence, I predict that our office budget for copy paper and chocolate may go down simultaneously and the only down side is the wear pattern on the carpeting under my new, longer path.

According to an interview I heard yesterday on National Public Radio, when left on my own, I don't eat much in the way of real food anyway. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and In Defense of Food, says we are eating way too much "edible foodlike substances" that are produced by science, not nature. Pollan's mantra is simply: eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Pollan's argument made sense as I tooled around in the car. It made less sense when I stopped in the drug store to pick up a newspaper. Next to the paper racks was the Hostess rack with chocolate cupcakes and Twinkies and yellow cupcakes with white frosting.

Late April seems a long way away and I noticed recently that the dry cleaner in my building does alterations.

Time will tell.

* * *

Applause line

Like any good politician, President Obama clearly enjoys a good applause line. But his attack on insurance giant AIG rings hollow over the recently announced millions of bonuses to employees who all but bankrupted the company. AIG is 80% owned by the taxpayers after the government's $170 billion bailout. Due diligence 101 required questions be asked before the bailout money was committed.

Doesn't anyone in Washington have a checklist?

Of late, Uncle Sam has proven to be a really rotten negotiator on behalf of the taxpayer.

Return to top