No Magic Pill

Knowledge + effort + time = success

Getting around

Posted by Ben on Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In addition to health and fitness, I have an inexplicable fascination with urban planning and especially transportation management. Seriously, I have no clue how, where, or when this interest began, but it’s there nonetheless. SimCity was/is the single biggest time-suck I’ve ever encountered. I’m not an avid gamer by any stretch, but the one game (series) where I completely lose all sense of time, hunger, and bowel needs is SimCity, so it should come as little surprise that I enjoy the history and tech of transportation, from human locomotion to space travel and everything in between. Fortunately for my purposes here, transportation often has a direct effect on human health, whether it deals with less walking or more exhaust emissions (don’t worry, I’m not going to go all tree-hugger on you), and in light of a spate of recent articles—most from Wired—and some continued musings on the movie Wall-E, the how and why of getting around started to percolate (mmmm… coffee…).

Of course, this relates in large part to the spike in energy costs, which in turn has led to higher prices for literally everything else, especially food (due to both transportation costs and competition with biofuels). This is leading to higher demand for locally-produced foodstuffs, which are becoming more financially competitive with more traditional food supply practices. Though they still cost slightly more, local foods have the distinct advantages of (almost always) tasting better and being more nutritional, and the only visual reference you need is being able to notice when the food has spoiled—this happens more quickly than with the usual grocery store fare, but the trade-off is fresher food, which I’ll happily take. This also lessens—but obviously doesn’t eliminate—the need to scrutinize your daily caloric consumption, and it keeps you in-tune with the seasons of agriculture.

Our most basic means of getting around is hoofing it. Technological advances, under the guise of making life easier, continue to make walking less necessary (if not simply more dangerous), but the consequences of fearing, loathing, and/or forgetting how to do the basics are becoming all too apparent in our society. Second only to obesity is the way land-use management practices have developed: pockets of residential, commercial, and industrial concentrations set miles apart and connected only by roadways. The Charlotte area is a perfect example of gargantuan planned communities cordoned off from massive shopping centers, but not only is suburbia become a financial boondoggle, but it stands to reason that the distances have all but destroyed the walk-to-get-there mindset (it never ceases to amaze me how I’ll grab a far-away parking spot at the gym and get inside before someone who circles the lot ten times waiting for a closer spot—at the freaking gym!), so it comes as little surprise that many of us—myself included—end up with knee/hip/ankle issues among others. The solution: get strong(er), period (why is there such a prevailing stigma against strength, anyway?). Don’t sweat the aesthetics—form will follow function. Or you could always start shopping for joint replacements. Your choice.

Prices are pushing denser development forward here and elsewhere, albeit at exorbitant prices that seem to ignore the current housing/mortgage situation, but at least the supply is coming online, which means prices eventually have to come down relative to inflation, right? Right?


Brake lights:
—Government continues its push to save you from yourself (funny how the target audience is similar to that of Guiding Stars).
—Remember that whole check-your-studies flap awhile back regarding the comparison of low-carb and low-fat diets? Dr. Eades follows up his own stuff with more in-depth stuff.
—How about a visual editorial on the statins-for-children issue? At least they’ll have an advocacy group to overblow their victimization. I think I just sprained an eyeball from rolling it so hard.
—Age AND mobility in one! Also, women get to deal with dementia longer than men (I contend that it starts earlier with women, too—they just drive men to their own dementia, and we just kick off sooner from it) ;)

Turn signals:
—Sports have always used technology to improve performance. The problem is deciding which technologies are allowed and which aren’t, and who does the deciding anyway?
—Andrew waxes Shakespearean on skydiving. I hope to experience some of the same giddily terrified catharsis tomorrow when I jump behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car (track time: 5pm).
—Kevin tries to make cottage cheese taste good/better. His mug shot isn’t helping the digestion process :)
—Mark continues his homage to National Salad Week.
—See/Hear storm, trigger asthma?
—Nuclear power is considered by many to be the best immediate solution to fossil fuel consumption for power generation. Regardless of which side of the argument you support, there’s little dispute over nuclear’s contribution to cancer screening and treatment, which is great if you think that cell phones are riddling our bodies with said cancer.
—Geek-out #1 (transportation edition): happy anniversary to the first oil tanker shipment, congrats to NYC for getting its first new subway line in seventy years, this is the first known Tesla crash *sniff*, the Toyota Prius is APPRECIATING in value, traffic jams occur because we think too much, sometimes a bigger engine is more efficient, someone will always ignore perceived possible death to get a video of the scene, space travel then and now (with pictures) and tomorrow, this will be a future road trip.
—Geek-out #2 (general edition): cellular companies take a hit on early termination fees, the first and next 5,000 days of the web, setup OpenDNS (do it!), say what you want but don’t assume online anonymity.

High beams:
—Strive for perfection, but don’t be afraid of imperfection.
—Sometimes, a letter to yourself makes all the difference.

EDIT: On a local note, it’s being reported that Click Baldwin, owner of Carolina Harley-Davidson in Gastonia NC (where I bought my bike), died last night as a result of injuries from a vehicle collision. As unexpected as this is, he was at fault and not wearing a helmet, and it’s stuff like this that gives the rest of us riders a bad image. Don’t do stupid stuff on motorcycles, and they’re just as safe as cars.


2 Responses to “Getting around”

  1. Lori said

    Cool on the NASCAR… how was it? My dh would love the chance to do that…

    Went to check in for a race I’m doing this Saturday and there was a whole table of Guiding Stars stuff set up… complete with a spin the Guiding Stars wheel game for the kids to play. Yikes. They handed out a brochure that shows a menu made up of only GS items, compared to one without any (like eggs, apparently.. go figure), and raved about how you can save $$ by using the guiding stars… because, you know, eating healthy isn’t really more expensive. I mean, they proved it right there on the paper! *rolling eyes*

  2. Ben said

    NASCAR got rained out (first rain in a week). I’ll try again next week hopefully.

    I guess my two-egg omelet this morning was totally devoid of any nutritional value, but it sure was yummy! Gotta hook ’em while they’re young. Sounds like a few other industries I can name offhand. If it looks like cheese, smells like cheese, tastes like cheese, and actually says it’s cheese, then it must be… high-fructose what?

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