Mighty good eatin’ anytime

In recent years I’ve found that my physician has become increasingly strident in his demands that I consume more green leafy vegetables as part of my daily dietary regimen.

For some reason, he seems to think that my fighting weight of 230 pounds at 5-feet, 10-inches tall is, er, somewhat excessive. Poppycock and, I might add, harrrummmph…

I tried to placate the good doctor by eating an occasional salad or periodically popping a brussels sprout, but I soon discovered that vegetables have become increasingly risky to consume. Unfortunately for me and many of my fuller-figured friends, this whole green, leafy vegetable routine became significantly more difficult to follow during the past year when vegetable after vegetable fell victim to E. coli and salmonella.

True, if you consume foodstuffs contaminated with either of these bacteria, you’re sure to shed pounds. It’s the vomiting, dehydration and death that make them unattractive to most of us wannabe health food fanatics.Thus I was pleased to learn that the federal government recently announced plans to more carefully monitor both commercial fruits and vegetables as well as meat products. Hey, I guess we all know that if the U.S. government gets involved, we’re going to see positive action in a hurry.

Until this health-conscious federal task force actually gets under way, however, a lot of us are going to be feeling a little uneasy about what we place on our dinner plates.

What to do? What to do?

I was thinking about adopting a strict diet of extremely well boiled rice and soda crackers dipped in a diluted Lysol solution when I heard words of hope during a CBS news broadcast when an expert declared that the safest processed meat one could consume was probably smoked canned ham eaten right out of the can immediately after opening.

Now that’s what I call healthy and convenient.

Think about it, amigos. All you need is a can opener and a Buck knife to enjoy the healthy bounty of smoked American pork without a care in the world. Canned ham: Fast, convenient, appetizing and it probably won’t kill you or leave you semi-conscious in some strange restroom.

The next time my well-meaning physician begins to yammer at me about eating healthier, all I’ll have to do is reach into my jacket and produce a gleaming, life-giving can of smoked ham.

Mighty good eatin’ anytime…

And canned ham is so versatile. It can be eaten with the Buck knife alone, or consumed with the assistance of a gourmet gadget called a fork. For a real treat, foodies can turn up the excitement with a splash of Tabasco sauce, or walk on the wild side with a squiggle of bright yellow mustard from one of those handy squeezer bottles.

Light up a can of Sterno, pop a Yanni cassette into your dining room tape deck, drape a Harley-Davidson neckerchief over your shirtfront and you’re ready for a romantic evening at home, content in the knowledge that you probably won’t die from the after-effects of your sumptuous repast.

I know some of you militant vegans may be gnashing your teeth right about now, but as for me, I’ll take my canned ham. You take your chances …

Originally published March 18, 2007

Republicans blamed for recall

There’s been a lot of unwarranted whining lately about the effort to recall Gov. Gray “I Am Not A Weasel” Davis as being nothing more than another shoddy Republican conspiracy to take over the Golden State.

Poppycock.And, I might add, harrrrrumph…

Although a Republican was instrumental in getting the petition drive under way, the entire Republican brain trust (all eight of them) could not have gotten the recall on the ballot had it not been for the consistently bizarre efforts of one Democrat who steadfastly gave voters reason after reason for a gubernatorial recall:Gov. Gray Davis.

The easily annoyed people of the state of California were more than ready to bounce Gov. Davis long before the state’s canny Republicans climbed off their golf carts and jumped onto the bandwagon.

If anyone engineered the recall, it was Gray Davis himself, bombarding the voters with a virtual hailstorm of questionable campaign funding sources, goofy budgetary decisions, energy crises and a whomping big state deficit.

Although virtually any Republican politician could have done the same in the blink of an eye, only card-carrying Democrat Gray Davis managed to turn the whole mess into an enthusiastic statewide recall of none other than himself.

Gov. Davis couldn’t have done a better job of demolishing his own political credibility if he’d spent his afternoons running naked up and down Capitol Mall blowing on a trumpet.

(Which, when you think about it, probably wouldn’t have raised all that many eyebrows. This is, after all, California.)

Before you start accusing me of being some kind of Republican apologist who just fell off the pork barrel, you should be aware of the fact that I’ve been a registered Democrat for longer than I can remember – which is a pretty damned long time, although I can’t recall exactly how long…

To be fair, some savvy Republican politicos actually cautioned voters about the possible drawbacks of a gubernatorial recall.

“Let’s not be hasty,” they advised.

“This could set a dangerous precedent,” they warned.

“Consequences must be considered,” they cautioned.

Many Democratic politicians said the same thing.

The key word here, of course, is “politicians.”

These guys weren’t urging us to be careful out of legitimate concern for our well-being – they were simply running scared.

The people of the state of California, breaking free of benevolent political guidance from the good ol’ boys, were taking the electoral process back into their own hands.

What a concept – particularly frightening to those who’ve been happily heaping their plates from the public trough for decades.

Who knows where this ill-advised recall action may lead?

These upstart voters actually may begin demanding (shudder!) accountability from their elected officials.

Yes, this may be an unnerving experience for dyed-in-the-wool politicians, but don’t blame it all on the Republicans. They’re just along for the ride…

Originally published September 14, 2003

Now we can all have a happy ending…

In recent weeks some readers have expressed concern that not all of the stories in the newspaper come to a satisfactory conclusion.

In fact, they’ve complained that the stories don’t conclude at all – simply fading away without benefit of closure or even a period.

Other stories, readers grumble, are “continued” to a nonexistent newspaper page.

For some reason, they say this makes it difficult for them to determine how a story might have ended. They’ve even gone so far as to imply that we might have made a mistake after a story dribbled off the page in the middle of a sentence.


And, I might add, piffle.

What the average newspaper reader doesn’t realize is that our hardworking team of journalists is constantly striving to improve the newspaper that lands in the driveway every morning.

The infrequent newspaper stories that don’t exactly go anywhere aren’t mistakes – they’re improvements.

Not long ago, we realized that many of our readers simply weren’t being challenged by the newspaper. After all, everyone already knows how a Vacaville City Council meeting usually ends – Mayor David Fleming and Councilwoman Pauline Clancy pull four pre-selected pithy comments from out of a concealed fish bowl, fire a couple of random verbal volleys and then fade into the shadows. Sometimes the city attorney muffles a sob.

With our improved, endless story format, readers will have an opportunity to sit back, sip their coffee and let their own creativity provide a satisfactory ending to what might appear, at first glance, to be an incomplete narrative.

Think about it, how many times have you looked at a newspaper story, shaken your head and said to yourself “Hey, I could do a better job than that…”

Well, now you can.

Here’s how a typical newspaper story about a lease agreement ended a few weeks ago:

“Assistant City Manager David Van Kirk said it’s too early to tell which agencies might benefit from the largesse. The city probably won’t receive the money until late next year.”

Ho-hum, right?

Just what you’d expect from an assistant city manager.

If, however, we break off the story at “The city probably…” and give our imaginations free rein, the possibilities are endless.

For example, “The city probably will be sending out specialized teams of heavily-armed mercenaries to secure the funds if the cash isn’t in hand by late next year.

“In the past, Vacaville has been able to offset such periodic funding shortfalls by establishing temporary toll roads in the unincorporated county area just outside the city limits. Mobile ‘Monte Vista-Monte Carlo’ gambling casinos also have proven to be fiscal lifesavers, despite incessant whining from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.”

See what I mean? A real improvement.

The next time you find a story in the newspaper that doesn’t end or simply leaps off into space, feel free to write your own ending and mail it to me at: The Reporter, 916 Cotting Lane, Vacaville, 95688.

If it’s weird enough and won’t get me fired or arrested, I’ll try to get your ending reprinted right here.

That’s 30, amigos…

Originally published December 17, 2000