Beware of acronyms



Someday I plan to tell a story of loss, accusation, denial, and the TSA, but not yet. I have been warned by my paranoia to be careful here. I hesitate to spell out TSA as Transportation Security Administration because, for all I know, they flag every mention of their name on the Internet. (Hi, Mr. TSA! You are doing a great job. No need to read further.)


Unfortunately, the acronym mentioned above already has my name and address because I made a formal complaint about an incident in New Orleans. I’m sure that had no connection to being singled out on my last trip through Chicago and made to stand in one of those see-through booths waiting for an agent who never came. I was not far from the conveyor belt where my purse and valuables waited for me, but half of the time my view was blocked by other passengers grabbing things from trays and walking away. I got a good ten-minute workout, bending right and left, standing on tiptoes, straining my neck to peer around people and moving from one corner of my glass booth to the other to make sure the passengers weren’t walking away with my things. Finally an agent walked over to me and said I could go. Maybe being forced to stay in a glass cage is their equivalent of time-out for whiners.


(Note to reader: Sometimes I am stupider than I look. I plan to travel this summer, but now I wonder if I will make it back home. If not, I have really enjoyed getting to know you.)


But that is not what I want to write about today.


Apparently the DHHS, the Department of Health and Human Services, resents the power of the TSA to open your luggage and remove items deemed unsafe or possibly too valuable for you. (You don’t really need that iPad.) The department’s Division of Childhood Development and Early Education, DCDEE, mandates all pre-kindergarten programs serve food that meets guidelines determined by the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. And now, they have the power to open your child’s lunchbox or breakfast box and decide what is safe for the child to eat.

This concerns me for two reasons. First, if you put all those acronyms together, you come up with DHHSDCDEEUSDA. That hardly trips off the tongue the way TSA (Takes Stuff Away) does. It is ugly, gross, and hideous, or what I like to call UGH. Second, the USDA considers chicken nuggets and batter-coated French fries with ketchup healthy food. These are the foods our children receive at day-care centers and schools because we must take into consideration their taste preferences. Never mind offering good food to children and allowing them to develop a taste for fresh food. Give them what they want: processed food with lots of fat and sugar. And if you must serve vegetables, drown them in cheese sauce, mix them in a casserole using canned soup full of excess sodium and additives, or serve huge dollops of dressing to dip those carrot sticks in.


Can you tell this is a rant?


Last week, my daughter received a note from my grandchild’s day-care warning parents not to send any breakfast food such as donuts or pop-tarts. Only healthy breakfast foods are allowed. The following day, my daughter joined her child for lunch. You can imagine her delight at what was served: hotdogs in white buns, oven-baked French fries, canned tangerines, and lots and lots of ketchup. Nutritious, no?  Everything a growing child needs, assuming you consider any of that healthy food and you consider ketchup a vegetable.



Now, excuse me while I bite down very hard on a carrot.