A Small Town Life

I lived in Port Orchard for many years. If you don’t know where it is, you’re not alone. Only 6,900 residents live there. It’s about nine miles directly west of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula. I know, most people don’t know where that is either.

Jan. 8, 1992

Lose Weight Without Even Trying

For most Americans, the start of a new year means the start of another new diet.  But thanks to a recent research project conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, losing weight is fairly simple.

In the course of doing research on American eating habits, the U.S.D.A has discovered that the average person consumes 1,426 pounds of food in a year.
Yes, that’s 1,426 pounds.  Included in that figure is 298 pounds of vegetables, 171 pounds of fruits and melons, 154 pounds of red meat, 150 pounds of flour and cereal products and 145 pounds of sugar and sweeteners.  Nearly three quarters of a ton of groceries and you didn’t even know you were hungry.

But after years of wasting its time researching the mating behavior of grasshoppers and measuring how far a frog can leap — the government has finally turned its attention to a subject the common taxpayer can really sink his or her teeth into — food.

Not the lack of it mind you, but the overabundance of it.  A private research firm probably would have botched this project up entirely.  They would have spent millions researching food shortages and worked to end world hunger.

Silly fools!

Ah, but the federal government in all its infinite wisdom, has found a way to tip the scales in favor of those of us who are carrying a little extra baggage.

They have made it more acceptable to be overweight by looking into our gross eating habits.

How does the government make those extra pounds acceptable?  Simple mathematics.

Here’s how it works:

The average person consumes 1,426 pounds of food in a year, right?  Now let’s say that you put on four pounds during the year.  That’s approximately .28% of what you took in.  More than 99.7% went by the wayside, folks.

So, it all boils down to perspectives.  If you gain four pounds in a year, you actually lost 1,422 pounds.  Why, Weight Watchers would be green with envy.

It’s a lot like income tax.  At the beginning of the year, you choose your withholdings.  At the end of the year, you may have more or less than you had planned.

Thanks to the Department of Agriculture, we’ve all become pretty good dieters.

Maybe they should be doing our taxes too.



 Oct. 4, 1996

The good old days don’t sound that good anymore!


Every month, my wife and I take time off from our positions at portorchard.com’s City Hall to visit one of the local retirement or nursing homes. We like to do a little show for them, singing songs they probably remember when they were our age.

It was during one of these shows last week that I realized the the Boomer Generation is ill prepared for growing old. There I was, singing “Five foot, two, eyes of blue . . .” when the thought crossed my mind: quot;what are today’s teens going to sing to me when I’m aging comfortably in a rest home somewhere?”

Somehow, “In Da Gadda Da Vida” doesn’t seem to cut it, although the drum solo would be pretty nifty if performed on bedpans. Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing” may be better, though the song may have more to do with incontinence than a revolution.

And it suddenly occurred to me that we’re not very ready to age gracefully. The reason? No singalongs!! Our senior members of society today have such great songs as “Bill Bailey,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and “When The Saints Go Marching In.” Our generation had great songs too, but sitting around singing “Eight Days A Week” or “Hound Dog” just doesn’t seem right. And don’t even mention “Feelings.”

When you think about it, this is just the tip of the iceberg of a problem facing the Boom Generation. Today, when you visit a retirement home, there’s craft classes, bingo, knitting, crocheting, square dancing and a host of other things to do.

But what are we going to do to enrich our lives in another 20 years? Go to an hour of investing each day? Attend bottled water tastings? Sit through classes on the history of brie? We don’t have hobbies because work was our hobby. We were too busy being Yuppies, Yappies and Dinks (Double Income, No Kids) to have any real life. So now we’re destined to live out the rest of our lives sitting in front of the boob tube watching endless reruns of “Gilligan’s Island,” “Bewitched” and “Bullwinkle” for lack of anything better to do.

I can just see it know, a bunch of old geezers gathered around the T.V. Ratty old Itzod sweaters drapped over our shoulders, a plate of senior sushi in front of us, a bottle of Peptic Perrier by our side, and Gucci slippers keeping our feet all snuggy at $550 a pair.

At night, it’s off for a hot time in the Club just down the hall. Tonight’s disco night and we’ll do the Bump to Chic’s “Le Freak” — only we won’t be bumping butts, but wheelchairs. On those really special nights, we’ll all gather in the dining room for a Consumer Reports review on denture adhesives. And afterward, we’ll meet one last time with our investment manager to find out why we don’t have enough money left over for one last trip to Vail for ski season.

I for one, am not ready to admit that I’m going to be pathetic in my retirement years. There’s still time to find a useful activity. In fact, I think I’ll just hop in my minivan right now and drive over to Kitsap Mall to find a hobby. I wonder if they still have that paint-by-number set of the Last Supper. Now there was a hobby!

On the road in South Kitsap,

Robb Zerr
portorchard.com columnist