Take the bus! No really. A study shows evidence that using mass transit causes people to lose weight.
I’m going to be walking extra today to get the bus to pick up my car. Hey, whatever gets you up on your feet.
Right now it’s not convenient, or even possible, for most of us to take the bus to work. And our buses are noisy and spewing fumes. But a well-designed system would be clean, accessible, and used by all kinds of people as a good alternative. Like the trolley my great-grandfather drove through the streets of Providence.
One estimate is that obesity costs the US 147 billion dollars a year. That’s on top of the billions that individuals pay for weight loss products and programs. And we’re just getting fatter.
Either human nature has taken a turn for the worse and we all had better character twenty years ago, or even ten– or our environment has changed.
In that case things won’t get better until we change it again, with less cars, more bikes and walking as a part of daily life.
I had to take my car in for repairs yesterday and I caught a bus back home. I’d never taken the bus from Taunton Ave., and was pleased to find that the service is good. The bus was full.
One of the passengers was a disabled little girl in a wheelchair. Taking RIPTA saves somebody (state, feds, family or all three) over a hundred dollars each trip.
So I am bummed and frustrated to see this in today’s paper…
PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority plans service reductions affecting more than 15,000 riders per year to help cover an estimated budget deficit of $3.7 million.
The cutbacks would take effect Aug. 28 and could affect as many as 18,000 riders, depending on how they are counted.
This is exactly the wrong thing for RIPTA and our state’s long-term economic health. People are using the bus to go to school and work, and night shift workers in nursing homes, college students, people who can’t maintain the expense of a car will be stranded.
We all pay taxes to smooth the highway in some town we’ll never visit and no one sees that as an entitlement. Why is public transit not given priority?
Anything ‘saved’ with these cuts costs in other ways. Increased burdens on working families, more rustbucket cars on the road, more congestion, pollution, accidents.
One reason elderly drivers won’t hand over the keys is because there are no good alternatives for transportation. And every extra five minutes you have to wait at the bus stop makes it less appealing to change old habits.
It’s also a matter of national security.
Just at the moment when the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill has generated two months of non-stop headlines about the dangers of oil dependency and the federal government in America finally has something of a platform to call for Americans to wean themselves off oil dependency, cities, counties and states across the US are decimating their public transit systems and forcing people, willy-nilly, to return to their cars.
The huge public works program to re-route the highway along the waterfront is ongoing, and I hope will pay off. Public transit needs to take a higher priority if we are going to keep people employed and achieve energy independence.
When my body and spirit grow restless, I like to walk. A 30-60 minute ramble loosens the kinks from head to toe. I am fortunate to live close to the Manhan Rail Trail, which is my favorite local spot for perambulation. (That’s right. I said, “perambulation.” I like to trot out the fancy words once in a while, lest they feel neglected.)
I am rather fond of rail trails. Like urban community gardens sprouting upon abandoned lots, they are a fine example of reclaimed space. Everyone benefits from their presence. To show my support for such ventures, I contribute to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, an organization “whose mission it is to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.” It’s a great cause and generally free of political controversy, which is a plus. (Of course, I’m sure there are some conservative wingnuts somewhere who believe that the reclamation of abandoned rail corridors is further evidence of a communist plot perpetrated by our socialist president to create a Muslim theocracy and destroy our way of life as we know it.)
In the summer, the best times to stroll the Manhan Rail Trail are early morning and early evening, when the temperatures are more moderate and the critters are out and about. Yesterday evening, I thought I spotted a fox dashing across the trail and did see a rabbit, which kindly posed for pictures. Here are a few photographs from yesterday’s jaunt:
Morning report from the garden. When you only live for three weeks you have to make the best of it.
Let me say that I am not the only film critic who thinks that the best love scene of all time was the snails in ‘Microcosmos’.
Weren’t we supposed to get a thunderstorm? My car, where I spend most of my work day, is going to be an oven.
The cat’s all spread out on the floor and avoiding the sunny spots.
It’s a beautiful day. I’ll take too hot over too cold anytime.
For summer reading, I tried Stieg Larsson’s ‘Girl With the Dragon Tatoo’, which was okay, but I don’t get what the fuss was about. It’s a bummer that he didn’t live to enjoy the glory.
I hit the library for short stories by Ursula LeGuin and ‘Pigs in Heaven’ by Barbara Kingsolver, who is now up in my pantheon with LeGuin and Atwood. I’m looking for distraction, whether it’s good literature or mindless pulp paperback. What are you reading?
One of the better food places to locate in Cranston of late is the Chipotle in Garden City. So imagine my delight when I heard that they are sponsoring a campaign to give $50,000 to a fund to improve the quality of school lunches. From a blog called Love and Trash:
“We don’t like junk. Not in our inboxes and not in our food.” – that’s the campaign slogan. Participation is simple: when you get a junk email, you forward it to email@example.com. For every 100,000 emails they receive, they’ll give $10,000 to The Lunch Box to advocate and educate for better school food. Their top limit: $50,000.
Sounds good to me. I would LOVE to see the quality of school lunches improve — there is so much long-term value in feeding our children well.
SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, has a new director.
For 25 years, scientists in Mountain View, California have been manning listening stations, hoping not to miss the moment aliens make contact with us humans. The place is known as the SETI Institute. It was inspired by the famed astronomer Carl Sagan. And the idea was to use radio telescopes to listen to the cosmos just in case.
Sagan’s first doctoral student was David Morrison, and this week he took over as the new head of the institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.
I still miss Carl Sagan. I guess if he were alive now he’d have to invent a force field to repel all the political mud that rains on anyone who is too reality-based. Good luck to David Morrison, it would really rock if he actually got the extraterrestrial station of NPR. To read the interview live from planet Earth, go here.
This article summarizes research on coffee’s benefits. Enjoy your java as you read!
Ruth Dealy spoke at Imago on June 24th. Ruth is one of Rhode Island’s most uncompromising artists, working big with vivid images of what she sees out her window and in her mirror. It looks abstract, she says she makes nothing up and just paints what’s there.
A sample of Ruth’s work is on her site, here.
Ruth’s relationship to visual art is intertwined with her gratitude for vision. She lost one eye in childhood due to illness and a few years ago became blind in her good eye, necessitating risky surgery which was successful. Her paintings are full of clashing colors and powerful brush strokes, creating a zone of light and motion.
I’m still processing her artist’s talk last night, but Bill Rodriguez at the Phoenix published this excellent interview in 2003.
Ruth was also interviewed on YouTube here, and repeats the advice that she gave last night, that the work of the artist is to ‘stay scared’. She has gone into the dark, not as a tourist or for the experience, but involuntarily and terrified. She paints the journey and the way back. Ruth’s show at Imago will be up through July 10th.