RSSCategory: travel

Bicycling: A great public health opportunity

November 2, 2011 | By | Reply More
Bicycling: A great public health opportunity

Jonathan Patz is the author of a new study indicating the “Four Way Win” that occurs when people choose bicycling over the use of automobiles. I’m completely on board, and I speak from experience as a person who commutes by bicycle more often than not to my job, which is about 5 miles from my home. The study by Patz offers some impressive numbers:

In the study, published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, Patz and his colleagues looked to the more than 30 million people residing in urban and suburban areas of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. They asked: What if during the nicest six months of the year, those residents left their cars at home for round-trips of five miles or less? And what if they chose to replace half of those short car trips, which account for about 20 percent of all vehicle miles traveled, with cycling? According to their calculations, making those short trips on bicycles could save approximately four trillion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 1,100 lives and $7 billion in mortality and health care costs for the region every year. “Fighting global climate change could be one of the greatest public health opportunities we’ve had in a century.”

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Generalizing the travel advice of Rick Steves

July 19, 2011 | By | Reply More
Generalizing the travel advice of Rick Steves

My daughter and I just returned from a trip to Europe, where travel guru Rick Steves served as our primary guide. We relied heavily on his travel books regarding Berlin, Paris and London. These travel guides are detailed, well-organized and well-written. I highly recommend them to anyone intending to travel to Europe.

What I especially like about Rick Steves, though, is his constant urging to live close to the ground while traveling, to work hard to interact with real people and to avoid expensive travel arrangements that prevent you from interacting with others on their terms. This approach does not come naturally to many Americans. Steves thus works hard to prepare Americans for visiting places that are not America. He doesn’t mince his words. Consider, for example, this passage from his London 2011 book, at page 17:

We travel all the way to Europe to enjoy differences-to become temporary locals. You’ll experience frustrations. Certain truths that we find “God-given” or “self-evident,” such as cold beer, ice in drinks, bottomless cups of coffee, hot showers, and bigger being better, are suddenly not so true. One of the benefits of travel is the eye-opening realization that there are logical, civil, and even better alternatives. Europeans generally like Americans. But if there is a negative aspect to the image the British have of Americans, it’s that we are big, loud, aggressive, impolite, rich, superficially friendly, and a bit naive.

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World’s best magazine – National Geographic

January 1, 2011 | By | 5 Replies More
World’s best magazine – National Geographic

As the new year began, I found myself finishing up the January, 2011 edition of National Geographic. This is not a magazine to be merely scanned. In my experience, National Geographic deserves its own special time. It needs to be read slowly so that its exquisite prose and photography can be deeply appreciated. Every minute invested is paid back tenfold, and National Geographic has been written in this high-quality way for as long as I can remember. So… If you’re going to put me on a deserted island and I can only have one magazine subscription, please make it National Geographic.

The cover story of the current issue is “Population 7 Billion: How Your World Will Change.” In the introduction, the Editor notes that “the issues associated with population growth seem endless: poverty, food and water supply, world health, climate change, before station, fertility rates, and more.” Therefore, it would seem that we would insist on discussing the carrying capacity of Earth. We talk about the capacity of motor vehicles and houses and hotel rooms and conference centers, because we can’t deny that human animals take up space and use up resources. We can’t put 12 people in a boat that is designed to carry four, because it would cause a disaster. Yet many of us simply refuse to consider whether there is such a thing as a carrying capacity of the earth, and we utterly refuse to attempt any sort of quantification of the carrying capacity of the earth. Therefore, as we are approaching 7 billion people on earth, it is preordained by many people that population is simply not a problem, even though societies all over the earth, rich and poor, traditional and modern, are exhausting the resources that are available to them.

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Obama’s new high-speed bus program

November 19, 2010 | By | Reply More
Obama’s new high-speed bus program

The Onion network News reports on the new federal high-speed bus system:


Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan

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Road Trips, Nertz and ADD

November 15, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More
Road Trips, Nertz and ADD

I wonder sometimes if road trips will become a thing of the past. For my wife and me, they’ve certainly dropped a bit on the list of things to do, but that may simply be a product of schedules, interests and rising gas prices. We used to drive multiple many miles just to see things, turn around and drive back. In California, 13-14 years ago, we decided one day to take our kids to see the sequoias, so we drove 400 miles, saw them, said, “Cool.”, and drove back. In the same day. Now, a custom van makes it a comfortable option, but we take fewer of those trips.

Nertz is a card game that is best described as group solitaire on speed. There are different sets of rules, but we play a “Navy” way taught to us in the 1990s and almost always play in teams of two. We have since evangelized it across the continent and halfway across the world, and my wife taught it to many of her Korean students during our seven years there. After teaching the game to very good friends also stationed in Korea, we would often answer the door at 10:30 on a Friday night to Barb, pitcher of margaritas in hand, saying “Rick’s taking out his contacts and grabbing a bottle of wine….you guys up for some Nertz?”

Road trips and Nertz converged this past weekend as we decided to drive from Dallas (actually Rowlett), Texas to Memphis (actually Atoka/Millington), Tennessee to see Rick and Barb, our friends from Korea; a weekend which we thoroughly enjoyed and did manage to squeeze in several hours of Nertz playing. We left at 5:00 pm on Thursday with me driving the one way 7.5 hours (without stops) of 440 miles in a different (but now 11 year old) custom van, accompanied by my wife, two younger sons and the ADD-wired brain that has been my companion for near 50 years.

I sometimes wonder what it is like to be “normal”.

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Use of public transportation keeps you fit and protects you from accidents

August 22, 2010 | By | Reply More
Use of public transportation keeps you fit and protects you from accidents

From Huffpo, commenting on a new report from the American Public Transportation Association:

Use of public transit simply means that you walk more which increases fitness levels and leads to healthier citizens. More importantly, increasing use of public transit may be the most effective traffic safety counter measure a community can employ,” noted APTA president William Millar. Apparently communities with vast public transportation networks don’t just live longer because of the exercise — they’re also less likely to be the victim of a fatal auto accident. The traffic fatality rate in the Bronx, New York is four in 100,000 contrasted by the traffic fatality rate in auto ridden Miami, Kansas which is 40 in 100,000.

Using public transportation also saves you a lot of money: “Riding public transportation saves individuals, on average, $9,381 annually and $782 per month based on the August 10, 2010 average national gas price ($2.78 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.”

It is also important to note that when you pay $35 to fill your tank with gasoline, you haven’t actually paid for most of the costs of using gasoline.

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Rush hour in Utrecht, Netherlands

June 26, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
Rush hour in Utrecht, Netherlands

This is what rush hour looks like in Utrecht, the 4th largest city in the Netherlands. 33% of all trips are made by bicycle.

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Up in the air

June 21, 2010 | By | Reply More
Up in the air

This is quite a compilation. Every yellow dot is an airplane in flight. Let the graphic load up and you’ll be watching 24 hours of flight traffic. A nighttime passes over each area, the air traffic takes a pause.

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Amazing places to visit in our solar system

May 10, 2010 | By | Reply More
Amazing places to visit in our solar system

Have you been to the most spectacular tourist attractions in our solar system? If not, here’s your chance, compliments of artist Ron Miller and writer Ed Bell at Scientific American. Packing the right clothes for these warm and cold locations won’t be easy.

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