Expansions, viewing recs, and cheeseburgers

Published 3:54 pm Friday, September 15, 2023

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There are, presumably, plenty of people out in the world who can focus on one thing for a long period of time. I, however, am not one of those people.

I feel like my attention is always bouncing around from one thing to the next. One moment I’m thinking about what to have for dinner, and then the next moment I’m reminiscing about an old song that popped in my head. I’ll circle back to dinner plans later… if I don’t get distracted by an interesting news headline along the way.

It’s like a juggling act, except that I’m really bad at juggling and keep dropping things!

Generally, though, it’s not really much of a big deal. Over the years, I’ve gotten good at getting things done even if I’m easily distracted and lacking focus. But in the spirit of my scattered train of thought, this week’s column will just be an assortment of different things I’ve been thinking about lately. No rhyme or reason to it!

Firstly, the recent news about the ACC expansion had me shaking my head, but also laughing a bit too.

Anyone following college sports right now is familiar with the ongoing “conference realignment” that has shuffled a lot of teams from one group to another. Money is usually the deciding factor for these switches. And now the old ACC – the Atlantic Coast Conference – is joining the fray too, with the addition of Stanford, Cal, and SMU beginning in 2024.

The ACC has added more teams in the past, so it shouldn’t be incredibly earth-shattering news, except for the fact that two of those teams are in California and the other in Texas. Good luck to all of the athletes and staff (and fans) who will have to travel longer distances just for a routine conference matchup.

I’ve seen people joke that the acronym should now stand for “All Coast Conference” instead, since the new teams aren’t anywhere near the Atlantic. And in that case, I suggest the ACC might want to go ahead and consider snagging a team located near the coast of the Great Lakes. Might as well cover as many coasts as possible!

Shifting gears to another topic: I recently watched two shows that I would like to recommend. The first is the live action adaptation of “One Piece” on Netflix. The tale of adventurous pirates is based on a long-running Japanese comic series that spans more than 1000 chapters since it began in 1997. The Netflix show, however, is only eight episodes so far, but also an excellent introduction to the story.

I was already familiar with the series beforehand, but I think the story will also be entertaining for people who don’t already know the main characters. Like any good story, it has a balanced combination of humor and action that should keep people entertained along the way. Check it out if you enjoy the adventures of good-hearted pirates!

I also recently watched the third season of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” which is an animated entry into the Star Trek franchise, with the story focused not on the prestigious captain of a decorated starship but a handful of lower ranked crewmembers. It’s got all the vibes of a fun workplace sitcom, but it’s set in space (and filled with a ton of nice references of previous Treks).

I only got to watch this season of Lower Decks because it’s temporarily available on Youtube for free, so I just decided to dive on in without knowing anything that happened in the first two seasons. That was the sort of thing I used to do before streaming services were more common or I had things on DVD. I’d just flip channels and pick a show to watch, even it wasn’t episode one. Sometimes, it’s kind of fun to start watching at an arbitrary point and then have to puzzle out what you missed by context clues.

Anyway, Lower Decks seems like a lot of fun for people who are already big Star Trek fans.

On a more serious topic, we are already into September and the politicians in Raleigh still have not passed a budget for the next two fiscal years. It was supposed to go into effect on July 1, but nobody seems able to agree on anything yet. The delay affects plenty of different things, but especially Medicaid expansion which was contingent on North Carolina enacting the new budget.

I wrote about the Medicaid expansion agreement earlier this year, and the expansion was praised by representatives from our local healthcare providers. Stalling by the legislators just means that many people will have to continue waiting for the affordable care they need.

Once the budget passes, I’m also interested in seeing how much funding will be available for education. I wrote a column earlier this year to express my disapproval for the proposal to send tax dollars to the “opportunity scholarship” for private schools instead of the public schools that the money is meant for. But whatever they decide, our students deserve support for a sound education.

I hope the legislators get their act together soon, and make a decision on the budget.

Lastly, pour one out for Jimmy Buffett who passed away on September 1. He sang a lot of songs that embodied the spirit of beach life, with “Margaritaville” as arguably his most popular one. But my favorite Buffett song (and the first I ever heard from him) was “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” I can never say no to a good, simple song about food.

Man, now I wish I could have a cheeseburger for dinner tonight!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.