Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, October 24, 2021

meowI didn’t find that Vampire Merlot I was eyeing for the weekend’s Halloween wine tasting.

I didn’t look for it very long, because as soon as I came across Schmitt-Soehne’s Zeller schwarze Katz today, I knew I had my bottle. How perfect for the occasion is a wine label with a black cat smack dab in the middle?

No clue as to how it tastes. It’s a white, which I don’t like as much as red wine. But I’ve had Schmitt-Soehne whites before, and they’re pretty good. Something different, anyway.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/24/2005 11:25:47 PM
Category: Food
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Back in July, St. Pete Times reporter John Cotey embarked upon the Public Scrutiny Diet. Since every other dieting method he had tried never took, the idea was to blow the lid off his weight-loss struggles and involve an audience of thousands in his progress:

Let’s call this one Project Public Humiliation. I will take what is personal and publicize it. Fail now and become a laughingstock.

The editors bit.

[Editor’s note: Well, kind of. If John doesn’t lose weight, he loses the column.]

As I walked out of our meeting, I thought: Now look what you’ve done. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

It’s not enough that I have dogged myself over this problem for the past decade. Now I’m about to raise the stakes?…

The fear of embarrassment is my last hope.

John’s been keeping at it, dropping from 250 pounds to 225ish, with the ultimate goal of 210 by the end of 2005.

So why am I declaring John’s experiment to be a failure in the making?

Because he’s stalled at around 225, and it’s looking really unlikely that he’ll drop the last 15 pounds. In fact, with high-calorie holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, it’s going to be a challenge to not put back the previously lost poundage.

But I don’t think John has failed, as much as the “public scrutiny” part of this dieting approach has failed him.

Consider: The purpose of putting this all out in the open was to expose John’s ups and (especially) downs. The embarrassment factor was supposed to keep him motivated through fear, to not screw up and binge on that box of Yodels when the going got rough. Previous attempts at dropping the weight were accompanied by gentle encouragement and well-wishing; nice sentiments, but they never proved to be enough. Public scrutiny was supposed to bring forth a few hundred drill sergeants who would pound on him every time he didn’t make the grade.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Witness The Skinny, John’s blog companion to his newspaper column. The comments, which provide public feedback during this progress, have been hijacked by namby-pamby feel-good types who are accentuating the hell out of the positive — even when there’s little positive to accentuate. If anyone dissents, the groupthink pounces and drowns out anything but complimentary notes.

It’s nice that a mini-community has gathered around John’s cause, but since that sort of support structure hasn’t worked in the past, it’s ultimately going to enable him to fail once again. The “I’m-okay-you’re-okay” ilk are exactly the kind of encouragement John doesn’t need at this stage. He needs hecklers who will rag on him for staying stuck at the halfway point.

I don’t know if the non-blog feedback is more of the same, or more harsh in criticism (I’d suspect the latter). But from the online feedback, plus even a fair amount of equivocation from his editors, it’s looking to me like the intended effect of this unique weight-loss scheme is rapidly foundering.

I know John — not extremely well, but enough so to acknowledge each other when we pass the halls at work (both employees of Times Publishing Company, and formerly both on the paper’s Sports desk). It feels a little uncomfortable for me to be criticizing him like this. But I think it’s a necessary red flag, both for himself, and for the column/blog’s relevance. Going that last mile in dieting is the toughest part, and the territory where relapses most often occur. It’s a crossroads. Getting back on the right path is the difference between success and failure.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/24/2005 10:33:24 AM
Category: Bloggin', Food, Publishing
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the yuck
Hurricane Wilma has landed, some three hours ago in Naples/Collier County. That’s a couple of hundred miles south of Tampa Bay, so we haven’t gotten much beyond some pretty foul weather and a bunch of school closings. Plus, a drop in temperature of about 10 degrees, to the mid-70s — which I’m sure will thrill most people here, but which I could do without (I love that hot-hot heat, baby).

Oh, and I lost the Landfall Pool; Gasparilla Island endures. Drat.

The non-weather ripple effects will remain, though. I’ll be going into the office later today, but I’m writing off the chance of actually getting ahold of anyone on the phone, whether they’re in South Florida or elsewhere. I’ve got enough else to do, and have already done a little bit of work this morning from home; but overall, it’s going to be a wasted day that I really can’t afford.

Yes, it all could have been much worse. But Wilma certainly didn’t do me any favors.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/24/2005 09:11:34 AM
Category: Weather
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