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Small Town Living

April 23, 2010

Filed under: observations,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:20 am

I live in a small town. It’s the kind of place where clocks don’t really matter. We have a small shopping area with a pharmacy, which includes the post office, two restaurants, a grocery store, real estate office , a bank and a hardware store – not to mention the gas station across the street.

Most of the businesses have signs in the windows suggesting they open at 9:00 a.m. It’s a very loose interpretation of time. If, for some unknown reason, you need something that early you’ll probably find yourself waiting at the door for the owner. No one seems to mind if it’s 9:00 or even 9:15 when the store opens.

That’s the price you pay for knowing the comforts of small-town living where everyone knows your name and the police chief doubles as town manager. The fact that we have a monthly newspaper may tell you a bit about the pace of life around here.

Biggest news recently was last weekend when an errant, and apparently drunk, ‘out of town’ driver drove into the telephone switching box on the main drag. Suddenly 900 homes had no landlines at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

At 9:15, when a neighbor came by to ask about my service, I used my internet-based line to call the phone company. I began the slow climb up the AT&T phone tree finally reaching a live person to explain that I have no service. After a pause I was told that the earliest they could have someone out here was the following Tuesday.

“No,” I replied, “You don;t understand, someone ran into the main switch box and there are probably many folks without service so I’m sure you’ll want to work on it sooner.”

Suddenly I was on the phone with Lilly Tomlin’s “Ernestine” character from the 70’s. “Gee,” he said, “We don’t have many calls about it.”

Sorry, I lost it, and screamed into the phone, “That’s because they don’t have phone service…” and hung up.

I called the police and they said they had already called their emergency number and the situation would be addressed. Crews were out later that day.

These are the joys of small-town living.

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Ending Overeating

April 9, 2010

Filed under: observations — admin @ 9:07 pm

I finally finished one of those books sitting next to my bed. “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler, MD.

Dr. Kessler,was the former head of the FDA before returning to the Bay Area for a short stint as head of the Medical Center at U.C. San Francisco. The fact that he’s currently the center of a long running legal battle over his firing, has nothing to do with the book, but it’s an interesting local note.

In his book, Dr. Kessler lays out his case that overeating has become an epidemic in the US, aided by food manufacturers who have figured out how to get Americans to buy more of their product.

Dr. Kessler maintains that by focusing on the addition of sugar, fat and salt, food producers have found a sure-fire way to tap the psychological impulses that create overeating. American consumers don’t have a chance unless they figure out a way to avoid prepared food at the grocery store and fast food everywhere else.

He lays out the physical, psychological and emotional basis for overeating as a disease and like others, notably Michael Pollan, he suggests that eating less processed food is the answer to beating the health issues which have already surfaced in this country and are starting to show up around the world.

The book is well written with logical arguments and consistent conclusions. Dr. Kessler, in his position at the FDA clearly had access to sources that might not talk to you and I so he’s able to lay out the industry’s side of the story, in disturbing detail.

My only criticism is that he puts most of the responsibility for solving the problem on individual Americans, asking them to develop strategies for avoiding the traps spread by the food industry.

Maybe Dr. Kessler knows first hand that the politicians are unwilling to face the issue, but it seems to me the fight against overeating has to start in Washington. Despite that, Dr. Kessler’s 250 pages add another voice pleading to fix the American food supply and it’s worth reading.

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