Friday, September 28, 2007

A Game of Inches

New Orleans was not kind to me last weekend.

I traveled to the Bayou State with a planeload of Gamecock fans for the USC versus LSU football game.

I only really asked for two things out of my trip: 1) A South Carolina upset victory over the Tigers; and 2) to stay on my diet.

I was sorely disappointed on both counts!

At least the Gamecocks kept it respectable. They didn’t get blown off the field by the #2 rated team the way all previous opponents had. The LSU squad even resorted to trickery during the game… an indisputable sign of respect.

I know this because I had a great view of the game from a very soft couch in front of a TV in a fancy Bourbon Street hotel… 100 miles from the stadium in Baton Rouge!!!
Yes, I traveled on a football junket to New Orleans, and then opted to watch the game on television. I’m old. I’m tired. I’m worn out. I survived the airplane trip, but 100 mile bus trip seemed like a bad idea, because The Weather Channel showed green blobs heading in that direction.

So I stayed in downtown New Orleans, the home of Cajun Cooking and Southern Gourmet, to test my diet willpower versus the Many Tempting Good Things to Eat.

I lost. The Many Tempting Good Things to Eat won.

Here I am, approaching the halfway point of the Great Weigh-Loss Contest of 2007, and I GAINED two pounds over the weekend. Oops.

But, perhaps it’s just as well, because about half of the other contestants are missing in action.

For the last few weeks, you’ve possibly been following this little weight-loss contest in which I am participating.

Six weeks ago, sixteen Substantially Sized Somebodies joined me in a wager to see which of us could lose the most weight in a three month period. We each chipped $100 buck into the pot, and the Biggest Loser(s) will become the Big Winner at the end of the contest.

Back on August 14th, when the whole Gang of Gargantuan Guys was gobbling a last meal at the Sunset Restaurant prior to the initial weigh-in, we decided we would meet approximately each month for an unofficial weigh-in and progress report.

(Incidentally, if you’d like to see a video clip of that Famous Last Meal, you can see it at: )

Now, however, it seems most of those contestants don’t want to show their faces, undoubtedly utterly ashamed of their own dismal failures as dieters. Therefore, we have no choice but to publish the ESTIMATED weights of the contestants as we approach the halfway points.

Here, then, are the contestants, with their official starting weights, and my best guess at their current weights after six weeks of competition:

Irmo Town Councilman Barry "Fatback" Walker -- starting weight 331; estimated current weight 321;

Hizzoner Brian Jeffcoat -- starting weight 316; estimated current weight 302;

Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier -- starting weight 312; estimated current weight 312;

Senator Jake Knotts -- starting weight 302; estimated current weight 282;

Stan "The Man" Bowen -- starting weight 292; estimated current weight 282;

Transportation Pro Gerald Head -- starting weight 285; estimated current weight 270;

ETV’s Andy Gobeil -- starting weight 279; estimated current weight 270;

GOP Heavyweight Scott Malyerck -- starting weight 273; estimated current weight 274;

Design Guru Douglas Adam -- starting weight 264; estimated current weight 244;

Econobug’s Ricky “Rubi” Wingard -- starting weight 263; estimated current weight 248;

Yours Truly, The Publisher -- starting weight 245; estimated current weight 227;

Insurance Veteran Terry Campbell -- starting weight 237; estimated current weight 235;

Former Secretary of State Jim Miles -- starting weight 235; estimated current weight 225;

Reigning Champ and Okra Strut Chm. Kirk Luther -- starting weight 234; estimated current weight 214;

Anonymous A. L. Wingard -- starting weight 225; estimated current weight 215;

Retired Humor Writer Tim Kelly -- starting weight 225; estimated current weight 224.5;

R.J. Shealy (that’s Rod, Jr.) -- starting weight 210; estimated current weight 205.

As you can see, in weigh loss competitions, as in football, anything can happen. It’s a game of inches, and it’s not over til its over. It’s halftime, but a lot can still happen. The fourth quarter will tell us a lot.

So stay tuned for the Upset of the Century. We’ll be right here to bring you all the action.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm for Reagan

Dateline -- September 17, 2007

For the next four months, we in South Carolina are going to be deluged with messages from a lot of people who want to be the next President of the United States.

We’ve already seen them quite a bit, but we’re going to be seeing them even more. The reason is that our state’s Presidential Primary election is considered one of the most important primaries in the nation. Ours is the first primary in the South, and it sets the stage for others, creating enormous “momentum” for the Palmetto State winner.

In fact, since the creation of the SC Republican Primary in 1980, the candidate who won our state has ultimately become the standard-bearer for the Republicans in every single case… and winning South Carolina is considered to be a major catalyst toward that nomination every single time.

The state’s Democrat Primary, established four years ago, is considered equally important in choosing that party’s nominee.

I, myself, have a little history with our primary over the years. I’ve directed a couple of presidential campaigns in our state (neither of which actually resulted in electing a President), and have been peripherally involved with others. And, back in the mid-80’s (back when I was much younger and “involved” in our state’s Republican Party, I was the “Chairman of the Rules Committee”, a position which, in my own mind, was at the same level as, say, Director of the CIA, or the Commissioner of Baseball), I inserted a new rule which created our state’s primary as the permanent fixture it has become.

During the last year, I’ve had very pleasant conversations with most of the GOP candidates or their campaigns, and some have even made generous offers for my “professional assistance”… despite the fact that my track record of electing Presidents is an astounding 0-and-forever.

As it turns out, I like them all, and frankly, haven’t yet decided which one I like best. I HAVE decided, however, that I’m too old to be directing anybody’s presidential campaign, which is a very demanding, time-intensive, all-consuming way to make a buck. Especially when you have to drop everything else and devote six or eight months to it.

Sooner or later, I’ll probably weigh-in on my personal choice, and let you know why I’m doing so. In the meantime, I’m watching and listening, like the rest of the Sandlappers, to try to cut through the political clutter and make my decision as to which of these individuals is the best choice to be the next leader of the free world.

Last week, while going through some old files, I came across a document that might help me make my decision. I’m not sure where I got this, but it’s a list of some of President Ronald Reagan’s most memorable quotes.

For me, these quotes sort of sum up exactly who Reagan was, what he stood for, his sense of humor and ability to communicate, and how he became the greatest president of the generation by restoring a nation which had lost its way to greatness.

I’m going to keep reading these quotes from time to time over the next four months, to help me keep in my mind the qualities I’m looking for in our next President.

You may want to, also.

"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose." - Ronald Reagan

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
- Ronald Reagan

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan

"Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong." - Ronald Reagan

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." - Ronald Reagan

"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." - Ronald Reagan

"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." - Ronald Reagan

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program." - Ronald Reagan

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting." - Ronald Reagan

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
- Ronald Reagan

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
- Ronald Reagan

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book." - Ronald Reagan

"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."
- Ronald Reagan

"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

I hope you’ll be paying attention for the next four months to help make a good decision when our primaries roll around next year. Your personal decision will help determine the winner of our state’s primary…. our state’s choice will very likely help determine the next President… and our next President will very likely determine the kind of world we leave to future generations.

Let’s choose carefully.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remember September 11th

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.

Though the passage of time has begun to cloud the collective consciousness of our nation, it is important that we not forget that we are still engaged in a war to protect our homeland against terrorism.
Four days after the attack in 2001, I first published the following article. I am reprinting this column this week in hopes it helps remind us of the challenges which are still faced by our nation and all Americans, and the efforts we must ALL put forth to win this war.

Eleven Ways Every American Can Help Win This War

In addition to my role as a newspaper publisher (and occasional writer), I have also spent much of my adult life as a political campaign manager and consultant. In virtually every political campaign, there are supporters who ask, “What can I do to help?” Over the years, I have learned to reduce campaign strategies to a list of simple tasks which any individual can do to help.

Since September 11th, I have heard that same question being asked over and over: “What can I do to help?” This time, however, it is not a political campaign, but a far more serious matter. All Americans seem united in their desire to help. We ALL want to do something to help with the relief efforts and to avenge this cowardly attack on our nation. But we are frustrated because there seems to be little we can do.

Indeed, our President and military leaders have a difficult job ahead as they choose the correct path to fight our hidden foes, some of whom may well be living among us. The war ahead is unlike any war history has ever recorded, and the objectives are still unclear. But, even as our nation’s military strategies are still unfolding, there are ways every individual American can and should help to win the war ahead of us. Here are my suggestions:

1. Give. Give money, give blood, and give food to the relief efforts for the victims of the first attack of this war. Donate to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or any of the hundreds of other relief efforts which are collecting needed money or supplies. And keep giving when future needs arise, as they most surely will. This war we must fight to prevent future attacks on America will be long and costly. Every American must be prepared to give.

2. Help keep our nation’s economy strong. Continue to make purchases as you normally would. Continue to invest in the businesses which are the economic backbone of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Hold the investments you already own, and wisely invest in those industries which have suffered temporary setbacks due to the September 11th attack. America’s air transportation, travel, financial and insurance industries will bounce back strong… and our confidence in them will help them regain their strength even faster.

3. Conserve fuel to weaken our enemies’ economy. If we conserve fuel, their oil industry will suffer. We in America have the inventiveness to develop power sources which can eventually make their oil unneeded. We already have the technology for alternative power sources, and now we will certainly develop them. In the meantime, we should cut off our enemies’ money supply by no longer using their oil.

4. Fly the flag. Flying the Red, White and Blue is more than symbolic support. It helps boost the morale of our entire nation. More importantly, displaying our unbridled patriotism and determination sends a strong message to the world that could help sway “neutral” countries to support our cause. The world must understand that all America is united, and the sleeping giant has been awakened. Every American can help by proudly showing our colors.

5. Wear a confident smile… and offer an encouraging word to everyone you meet. Attitude is infectious, and it is important that our national attitude remain positive, even in the face of depressing news. During World War II, Churchill’s “V for Victory” and Roosevelt’s pre-war words, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, boosted our attitudes and made a difference in the war effort. In the days following the September 11th attack, a counselor friend of mine described incidents of “misplaced anger” between acquaintances. A cheerful comment to a friend or a total stranger will help alleviate the tension, frustration and anger that all Americans feel inside.

6. Help make America more productive. Work a little harder or a little longer at your job, or find ways to be more efficient. Every little bit of extra effort makes your company more productive, which increases our national output. When our national output, productivity and profitability are increased, there are more tax dollars available to support the war effort. If every American increased his or her daily productivity by just15 minutes, our government would have many billions of extra tax dollars to help win the war.

7. Volunteer in your community. Even if your volunteer activities don’t seem related to the war effort, they probably are. Most volunteer activities help solve local or national problems. When these problems are handled by volunteer efforts instead of by government, tax dollars are saved. So when you volunteer to pick up litter, help in the schools, raise money for cancer research, feed the homeless, shelter stray animals, or help with any other volunteer activity, you are making it easier for the government to devote tax dollars to the war and relief efforts. As our nation prepares for war, it is more important than ever that we give our volunteer efforts to strengthen our communities and our nation.

8. Pass along your patriotism. There are many, many young people who do not understand patriotism the way we do, because they were not taught the way we were. The abundances of our great nation have distracted us from teaching our children how that abundance is possible. Our younger generation needs to understand the greatness of America to fully appreciate the blessings of liberty. Let us teach our children patriotism, and instill in them the values which will give them strength to endure a war which they may someday be forced to help fight.

9. Prepare yourself. Make yourself a better, stronger person. Prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for a war we cannot predict. This is a different kind of war -- unlike any war we have fought before – and we cannot rely on the military alone. We have already seen that the enemy may be among us. EVERY true American must be prepared for the unexpected with stronger, healthier minds and bodies. The battles in this war could be fought with computers, or with hand-to-hand combat, or with biological warfare, or tactics not yet conceived. Every battle is won before it is fought. When we prepare ourselves, we help win the war.

10. Meet your neighbors. And get to know them well. One of America’s greatest strengths is our cultural diversity. It is critical that we not let that diversity divide us in this time of crisis. We can best protect ourselves from divisiveness by becoming closer: Meet your neighbors, especially those who may seem “different” than yourself; communicate with them and get to know them; and understand that their love of America is the same as yours. And, by communicating with our fellow Americans who share our patriotism, we will help officials isolate those few who do not.

11. Reaffirm your faith. Pray. Pray for our President, our nation and our world. The September 11th attack was aimed not only at our nation, but also at our faith. The war we must now wage is more than a battle of nations: It is a battle of good versus evil, a battle to stand up for the Judeo-Christian beliefs which formed the basis of our nation. We must reaffirm that faith as individuals and as a nation. With God, we cannot fail; without God, we cannot succeed. The power of prayer can defeat any foe.

And one more special thing you can do to help win the war….

Be a leader. In every war, leadership makes the difference. In this new kind of war, we cannot rely totally on military leaders or government leaders. We must have leaders throughout our land to inspire our nation. You can be a leader in your community, your church, your workplace, or your classroom. You can be a leader on your block or in your home. When you inspire others to do the 11 things listed here, you are a leader, and your leadership will help us win this war.

By Rod Shealy, Sr.
first published September 15, 2001

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Food for Thought

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about food lately. Not eating it. Just thinking about it.

Since I’ve been in a weight-loss competition for the last few weeks, almost EVERYTHING is off my diet…. and it sure looks good!!!

For those who have not been keeping up, there are 17 of us Blubber Boys who are engaged in a 3-month competition, and each of us has put $100 in the pot as an incentive.

The winner(s) gets the money. I’m planning on that being me.

In the meantime, however, I’m getting hungry.

It doesn’t help any that my friends… excuse me, former friends… seem to take great joy taunting me with jelly donuts and the like… just to add to my misery. I expected words of encouragement, and instead, I get taunts and jeers.

“Hey, Rod-Boy…. Would you like a slice of steaming hot PIZZZZZAAAA?! Yummmm.”

I’ve also gotten a lot of emails concerning my quest for a sub-40 inch belt-size, mostly because these people don’t have time to taunt and jeer in person.

A few readers have actually tried to offer helpful advice, such as Chris Carney, himself a successful dieter, who gave us a few pointers on how to make it happen. But not before zapping us with this observation:

“It was such a glorious irony to hear that your newly found club-for-dieters held it's initial meeting at a restaurant,” he wrote. “Of all places...not a public park or an exercise facility, but a restaurant.”

Then there were other who passed along their attempts at humor via the electric email.

Steve Jarrell told us of a medical study he had recently come across, which reached the following observations and conclusions:

1. Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. Africans drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the Americans.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

An E. Shealy in Lexington passed along this exercise plan which seems promising.

It’s called “Exercise for Older Adults”:

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.) After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

Thanks, Mom.

Then there were a couple of other weight loss and fitness tales emailed (which I will protect the identity of the senders to protect them from being locked up for “No Sense of Humor Whatsoever”.)

A woman walked up to a little old man rocking in a chair on his porch. "I couldn't help noticing how happy you look," she said. "What's your secret for a long happy life?"

"I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day," he said. "I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods, and never exercise."

"That's amazing," the woman said. "How old are you?"

"Twenty-six," he said.

And then there was this little weight loss humor, which frankly, seems a lot more like a blonde joke to me:

A blonde is terribly overweight, so her doctor puts her on a diet. "I want you to eat regularly for two days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for two weeks. The next time I see you, you'll have lost at least five pounds."

When the blonde returns, she's lost nearly 20 pounds. "Why, that's amazing!" the doctor says. "Did you follow my instructions?"

The blonde nods. "I'll tell you, though, I thought I was going to drop dead that third day.”

"From hunger, you mean?" asked the doctor.

"No, from skipping."

And, finally, there was this “humorous” offering from a wiseacre who I frankly think went too far. He went beyond weight loss humor into medical humor, and I’m not sure if he was sending me a message or not:

A patient is at the doctor’s office to get results from recent tests. The doctor walks in and says, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news”.

The patient replies, “Give me the good news first.”

The doctor says, “They’re going to name a disease after you.”

So thanks to all of my former friends for the encouragement during my weight loss competition. (Not you, Mom.)

And now, readers, I’ve got some good news and some bad news: I’ll be back with another column next week. (And I’ll leave you to figure out whether that’s the4 good news or the bad news.)