Dr. Melissa Martin’s column (“A soda-saturated society,” Aug. 21) raises some serious concern about consumption of soft drinks and its effect on your health. Sugared pop carries its own hazards ranging from diabetes to heart disease if guzzled to excess, and diet soda is no good for you because the artificial sweeteners used in them are in some cases even worse than natural sugar. Conclusion? Switch to water and avoid the pitfalls that lie behind the bubbly refreshment of pop.
Easier said than done, say I. But even Martin, an occasional pop drinker herself, concedes that your physical well-being won’t immediately go to rack and ruin if you take the stuff in moderation. Sure, bypassing sodas in general may be good for you, but if you’re used to having it in your daily existence, the pop habit isn’t easy to shake. I had a hard enough time some years ago adapting to diet thanks to my diabetic condition, but it’s reached the point where non-sugared soda even tastes better when I occasionally do sneak a straight Pepsi, Coke or RC. You’ve got to have some enjoyment in life.
Of course, having experienced kidney cancer and the loss of one of those body parts this summer, for which I remain under doctor’s care, perhaps it would be wiser to make water my daily drink of choice. It satisfies, purifies and revivifies in ways other variations cannot, but it always tastes the same — and I’ve tried flavored water, thank you. No, sometimes nothing else quells that craving for something different than those carbonated treats.
Growing up, soda was a rare and wonderful thing in our household. My parents didn’t care for it, but when my father won a crate of Pepsi (in glass bottles, no less) as a prize in a golf tournament, I just felt life had taken such a turn for the better. But it was strictly doled out until the supply was exhausted. However, when I was a teen and working at our local version of what we know today as a Wal-Mart, 2-liter plastic bottles had been introduced and I willingly fell victim to the mass marketing scheme decried in Martin’s column. After all of her lectures about rotting my stomach, my poor mother could only shake her head in resignation as she sipped her coffee.
And after having to excise the word “soda” from my vocabulary when I came to Ohio — it was pop; soda was something for the kitchen manufactured by a couple of guys named Arm & Hammer — I have difficulty with the push to call it soda again. That’s a topic for another day, though. I’m happy to allow some trends to have their day and then disappear.
There are alternatives to pop that are just right for this time of the year — iced tea (half tea, half lemonade a favorite) and iced coffee. Both, of course, contain that old devil caffeine and its alleged debilitating effects, but again, moderation makes it all palatable. Like pop, coffee and caffeine are heroes and villains in alternating health studies, so don’t rush to judgment in support or opposition to their conclusions. Like polls, especially after 2016, I don’t always believe them anymore.
So if you like pop and drink a lot of it, consider cutting back rather than giving it up. Like quitting smoking, which I can personally testify as being a whole lot tougher, suddenly depriving yourself usually results in erosion of the desire to stop, and you’re back to feeding that craving again. There are other ways to wean yourself off something that’s not always good for you, and I will certainly give them some thought. But not until after I quaff another bottle of my latest guilty pleasure, Frostie Top Blue Lemonade, from the Vinton One Stop.
In reading Associated Press copy both in the newspaper and online, I’ve noticed that state name abbreviations, such as W.Va. for West Virginia or Ky. for Kentucky, are no longer used in the body of the story when connected to a location. Example: Point Pleasant, W.Va. The state names are instead spelled out — to further illustrate, Point Pleasant, West Virginia — as they normally are when used alone.
Okay, I’ll admit it’s much ado about nothing. But this development has flown in the face of a onetime journalist — that’d be me — who had to memorize the state abbreviations in J-school because they were among the AP style features we were instructed to follow in our writing. And because they were also part of the style tests our instructors inflicted on us every week in which failure was not an option. The abbreviations are still used by the AP in the dateline, or the capitalized beginning of a wire dispatch identifying the story’s place of origination.
But I’m just curious as to the reason why state names are intact in the copy. Still, it was not unusual in the past for newspapers to skip the AP and make up their own shorthand when it came to proper names. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, for example, used O. to abbreviate Ohio even when it was one of the several state names the AP used as a whole word. Other publications even appropriated postal abbreviations, such as OH and WV.
AP stylebooks, though, are periodically changed to reflect audience understanding and recognition. That’s what I tell myself in hopes that this move is not another concession to dumbing-down because geographic knowledge has declined in our country. I mean, cursive writing, or penmanship if you will, has fallen by the wayside in some educational systems. And history seems to be a forgotten subject as soon as it’s taught, as current events tell us. What’s next?
In addition to Ohio in my student days, the AP allowed full spelling of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Texas and Utah in both the dateline and story. But again — call me old school if you want — because I had to learn them, I will continue to use state abbreviations in whatever I write.
Just ‘cause I can.
Kevin Kelly, who was affiliated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.