A.C. Snow

Does anyone still smoke these days? – Snow

It may be my imagination, but I think not. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone smoking.

I’ve even forgotten the smell of cigarette smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is still the leading cause of disease and death in the United States. Smoking is responsible for one in five deaths and for medical costs ranging from $50 billion to $73 billion a year. Eighteen percent of adult Americans still smoke.

As I’ve bragged before, giving up cigarettes was one of the most difficult and courageous accomplishments of my mostly long and happy life.

A little internet research unearthed some interesting facts about this worldwide addiction:

▪ Sir Walter Raleigh was so hooked on nicotine, he took his pipe with him to the scaffold when he was beheaded.

▪ Smoking was thought to cure syphilis in mid-16th century Europe.

▪ Between 1627 and 1644 in China, smokers were punished by having their nostrils slit or having the skin lashed from their backs.

▪ Women began smoking publicly in the 1920s. Currently, smoking is said to kill an estimated total of 178,000 women annually in the United States.

Crying time again

As the basketball season dribbles to an end, it’s crying time again for coaches in some locker rooms across America. These include N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried, who was dismissed after a six-year tenure with the Wolfpack.

College coaching is one of the few professions in which job security depends primarily on the abilities of others more than upon one’s own qualifications.

Too many missed three-pointers, interceptions or lack of energy and incentive on the part of youths not yet or barely out of their teens can spell doom for even the Einsteins of coaching.

Sports fans are tough taskmasters. Their lust for winning is insatiable. More L’s than W’s after a coach’s name is cause for concern. Even a few losing seasons make fans (synonym for fanatics) restless. Many such seasons make them angry and impatient.

I don’t know Gottfried personally. But my impression of him, arrived from hearsay and reading the sports pages, is that he was capable, responsible, hardworking and deserving of respect from players and public.

I read some of the internet feedback following Gottfried’s dismissal. Practically all the comments were positive.

I particularly liked one response: “Thank you, Mark Gottfried. Hopefully, I can buy you a beer some day at an airport bar.”

Think nothing

Thanks for your suggestions on how to combat insomnia, including this one from retired federal court Judge Earl Britt.

“My remedy is simple: Think of nothing,” he writes. “It is the racing mind that conjures up thoughts of the next day’s activities, particularly when one awakens early, that prevents resumption of restful sleep. Erase thoughts from your mind and resume your sleep.

“I once told a friend of this remedy and he immediately quipped, ‘Earl, that should be easy for you!’”

Britt’s suggestion doesn’t work for me. Clearing the mind, at least to me, seems impossible.

The mind is much like a municipal landfill, full of discarded experiences and memories accumulated since childhood. I have limited, if any, control over what will resurface during my conscious hours. Furthermore, what emerges during my unconscious hours (sleep in the form of dreams) is even less under my control.

Slow thinkers

The General Assembly is awarding a $2,500 bonus to third-grade teachers whose students reach third-grade reading level.

Ye gods and little fishes. What kind of thinking is this?

What about all those first- and second-grade teachers who make it possible for those third-graders to attain third-grade level in reading? Where are their bonuses?

Sounds as if our lawmakers are thinking at kindergarten level. Again.