Friday, March 11, 2016

Giving Up Coke Not An Easy Thing

GOUVEIA: Yes, I'm a Coke addict

Doctor's orders started his battle to give up that sweet drink
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Posted: Friday, March 11, 2016 12:30 am
As you read this, I am a full week into my rehabilitation. I am well into the withdrawal stage. It has not been easy, thus far, and will probably get more difficult as things progress. But, I am determined to do what I have to do.
Yes, I have decided to go "cold turkey." I'm climbing onto the wagon. This is already one of the most difficult changes I have attempted since - well, parenting. Things are about to get ugly.
I am now entering my eighth consecutive day without Coke.
That's the soft drink, for those of you perhaps thinking something else. At the urging of my children, the advice of my doctor, and the threats of my wife and co-workers, I am pulling the plug on my one lifelong addiction (excluding the Red Sox). I am having neither a Coke nor a smile.
As you might have guessed, I am not doing this happily.
I am not and never have been a smoker. I am not a big drinker of alcohol. I don't drink coffee, don't really eat candy and don't even like pizza. I could easily sacrifice any of those common vices.
But Coke? My loyal friend in the bright red can? We go back a long way, and saying goodbye is such sweet sorrow.
When I say I drank a lot of Coke, that truly doesn't tell the story. I guzzled the stuff on a regular basis. I would go through six to 10 cans a day without a problem. And, no Diet Coke for me - only the good stuff.
I popped open a can first thing every morning. I would faithfully wash down my diabetes medication every night with a Coke. And during my busy days and relaxing weekends, the syrupy siren song of my caffeinated mistress would call out to me over and over.
I love the taste. It quenches my thirst. It's comforting, in an unhealthy, fattening way. And, it was always familiar.
And, despite my constant attempts to keep the Coca-Cola stock high, my sugar levels have always been somewhat within reason. That is, until recently. But, as I prepare this month to hit the next big milestone age number (it's the big one after 50, but I refuse to actually say it yet), the magic number is climbing and my options are shrinking.
So, I am in search of different things to drink. Chief among them is water, far and away the healthiest and safest. But, even in my bland life, water is boring. Still, every time I come up with an alternative, I'm told that is also not a good choice.
Diet sodas? Got that artificial stuff in them that is really bad. Fruit juices? Still too much sugar, can cause you problems.
Well-intentioned friends have offered suggestions involving various sparkling water and squeezed fruit, soda-making machines and natural flavors, and brands of other purportedly healthy drinks. I love them for it - but each one makes me want to run screaming into the night.
Other acquaintances and column readers have offered to send me more Coke. I think there's a message in there somewhere.
Of course, simply giving up Coke is not going to solve all my issues. There are matters of diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices that also need to be addressed.
Joining a gym was definitely a step in the right direction. However, I have discovered it really isn't effective unless you actually go to said facility every once in a while.
To say I have been a little on edge over the past week would be an understatement. Only my grandchildren have been safe from the grumpiness that has permeated my general disposition. My wife may be about a week away from directly injecting me with sugar in my sleep.
But of course, I am fortunate I can somewhat control my own destiny. There are many people with serious illnesses who are not so lucky. That makes the perils and misfortunes of an overweight guy complaining about not drinking soda pretty minor.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to step out of my office and go kick the soda machine. It's been mocking me.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Racist Posts From Public Figure Must Be Condemned

My Sun Chronicle column from today - racists posts from an elected figure in North Attleboro's government.  Where is the outrage from town leaders?

GOUVEIA: Where is the outrage?

Lack of reaction to North RTM member's racist posts unacceptable
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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 12:30 am

I'm a firm believer in the right to free speech. Every citizen has the right to their opinion, even if it is offensive to the vast majority of others. Even if those opinions spread messages of intolerance and hatred. That is a bedrock principle of this great nation.
But with that right to express these often grotesque opinions comes the need to balance that at least somewhat with accountability.

And when you are someone who holds an elected post in local, state or national government, you have an even larger responsibility. What you do and how you act reflects upon the people you serve, the constituents who vote both for and against you and the community where you govern.
And for that reason, the people of North Attleboro deserve to know and have called to their attention the fact that one of their RTM members has featured racist posts on his Facebook page.
Paul Couturier has been a member of RTM for close to seven years. He is an active member, well known in town circles. He is an advocate for veterans and other groups. He is on the town's cable advisory committee. And - like me - he likes to share his opinions on a wide variety of issues.
But on his Facebook page he has also posted the two following items, which cross the bounds of free speech and enter the area of racial bigotry.
One post has a picture of a shark rising from the water, jaws open as if to eat something. The caption on the picture says: "Throw Me A Muslim."
The other post has a picture of a large black male gorilla reclining casually on the ground against a wall. His prominent testicles are quite visible. The caption on that photo says: "A rare glimpse of the first lady on vacation."
You can call those posts political, if you want. You can call them a product of free speech. You can even call them constitutionally protected. But no matter what you call them, you also have to call them racist and hold those posting them accountable.
An elected public figure advocating the feeding of people to sharks based upon nothing but their religion is reprehensible. Even if said in a misguided attempt to be humorous, it is irresponsible, and dangerous.
Comparing the African-American first lady of the United States to a male gorilla is a clear and undeniable continuation of longstanding racial stereotypes that go back generations. It is an embarrassingly awful message for RTM member Couturier to spread throughout his community and beyond.
RTM member Couturier did not do this in secret. There are other members of North Attleboro's town government who are Facebook friends with him and have likely seen these posts. Yet, there has been no public outcry, no criticism. There has been no one standing up and calling attention to these posts. Why?
A few months back, RTM Coordinating Committee Chairman Bob Nerz insulted Attleboro citizens and mocked the immigrants of that city. Now another RTM member publicly advances views that racially insult some of their constituents. Where is the outrage from those who lead North Attleboro? Shouldn't this type of behavior be repudiated?
I am privileged to know many people in North Attleboro. Some are active in local government, and most are not. They are good, honest, hard-working folks who often have strong opinions and love their community.
Sometimes, they share my opinions on different issues. Many times, they do not. They are unafraid to voice those opinions in strong, coherent terms. I admire and respect them for that ability and their willingness to speak up and out, regardless of whether or not I agree.
North Attleboro is not a racist community. North Attleboro's government is not a racist government. People who live there should know that.
But at the same time, neither the people nor the government and its officials should tolerate racism within its ranks. Those attitudes should never be accepted from those the town elects. They have no place in North Attleboro, or anywhere else.
I'm not asking anyone to apologize for anything. But I am asking the good people of North Attleboro to hold accountable those who practice racism and hatred within their government and elsewhere.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.