June 9, 2009
Except for a slightly sore butt I feel completely recovered from Saturday’s 100 km Tour de Cure bike ride. Next year I think I’ll start training just a little earlier, and go for the 100-miler.
To everyone who donated on my behalf or for anyone else, thank you so much for the support. The Tour de Cure is much more than a fund-raising event; it’s a festival, the first of many festivals held during our wonderful summer months, when the glorious weather brings out the best in us.
Last week was also the Greek Festival and this weekend it’s the Allentown Art Festival; then the Ride for Roswell; and shortly after that the Taste of Buffalo and the Italian Festival and many other great places to gather and celebrate.
Buffalo’s great for that kind of stuff.
October 16, 2008
Newt Gingrich was the keynote speaker at last night’s BioMed Upstate conference hosted by the Foundation for Healthy Living. The moderately well-attended (but overly long) conference focused on the barriers our state imposes on the Life Sciences economy and solutions to overcoming those barriers to accelerate growth in Life Sciences.
The sessions drifted off-topic to the various ways the New York stifles economic growth in general and to the great divide between Upstate and Downstate, to which the attendees agreed “Change is needed“. As to what that meant and who should take responsibility for leading it, those answers were not so clear. Not so clear at all. And the conference was pretty dry – academic in nature, almost dispassionate really, and IMHO was very poorly attended by industry representatives who are ultimately the ones who create jobs and/or leave the state. Numerous academics and government officials were in attendance, but the one group that could really make a difference was way under-represented.
Anyway, Newt was pretty interesting. He made a point about how poorly the Federal Government doesn’t understand the difference between investment and expense. He cited that the Baby Boomer generation alone will cost the U.S. $1.6 trillion in health care costs just for treatment of Alzheimer’s patients. But if treatments could be found that delayed the onset of severe symptoms for just 5 years, the costs would drop $600 billion. Then he challenged the audience: If you could save $600 billion over the next 20 years, how much would you spend today? Newt’s implication was that far too often the government won’t budget for that kind of savings – they won’t make the investment – because today it’s just an expense with no short-term benefit.
Conferences like these raise important questions but rarely do the spawn that passionate white knight who can lead the charge to a new way of thinking, and actually persist long enough to stimulate real change. How do we convince our political leaders to reach beyond the policies of the past 50 years to something that bears future fruit? At the conference, we were at a loss to answer that question.
July 7, 2008
The social popularity of any one particular athletic activity is fleeting at best. It used to be that baseball and softball were so popular in Western New York that there weren’t enough diamonds to go around; today the number of leagues continues to decline. I remember when racquetball was greatly in vogue; today the former Waterfront Racquet and Fitness Center is a post office. Recreational soccer reached its apex about 10 years ago and its numbers are slowly declining.
In this decade bicycling has picked up considerable steam, and in particular, this year there is no end to the number of articles and blog postings giving credence to its popularity. It too will have its heyday, and then taper back down to the diehards as the next sport du jour gets press time.
I’ve been a serious cyclist for most of this decade. My desire to cycle has to do with my inability to run long distances anymore – too many knee surgeries. Cycling is therefore merely therapeutic for me, never meant to be a means to save fuel costs. In fact, I would argue that consistent cycling is more expensive in the long run because
- good bicycles, which you’ll need if you bike a lot of miles, are not cheap; and
- the extra food that you consume because of your increased metabolism will bite your pocketbook as much as a tank of gas will.
Nonetheless, we may soon be reaching a tipping point where the popularity of cycling will induce changes to transportation infrastructure that will further encourage cycling, such as biking lanes or just wider, smoother shoulders on roadways. As its popularity continues to increase I can only hope that drivers start paying a bit more attention to whom they share the road. I mentioned this before: I have no desire to become road kill, so vigilance is a very important part of my exercise.
I do not get a thrill from sucking exhaust and dodging traffic, so my trips take me into the back roads of Wales, Holland, Aurora, Colden, Cowlesville, Sheldon and other small country towns where I breathe fresh air, enjoy the scenery and take on the hill climbs. I have no desire to commute to work on bike, even less desire to ride a long, flat street from one suburb to the next.
Biking will never save me money nor help me reduce my carbon footprint. It will keep me fit, that’s all.
March 15, 2008
This year’s American Heart Association Heartwalk will be held in Buffalo on Saturday, September 20th. My company will be participating and we hope to get virtually every employee to go.
Heart disease and stroke, the #1 and #3 killers in America, are more prevalent in the Western New York area than statewide – it probably has something to do with a combination of obesity, poor diet and poverty in this area. The Heartwalk brings awareness to the issue of heart disease and also to the simple things – diet and exercise – that can rein it in.
Even if you’re not much of an athlete, it’s an easy 5K walk and a great way to celebrate the end of summer; and to perhaps think a little about wellness in general.
February 25, 2008
I am not overweight.
I am, however, paying significant health insurance premiums subsidizing many less-healthy people who are so grossly overweight that they are experiencing chronic medical problems. The obesifying of America is only going to make it worse as deaths from weight-related illnesses like diabetes are increasing at alarming rates. As an employer I grow tired of paying out $4K+ for employee health insurance premiums and then, as an employee, another $4K+ for the remainder of my health insurance premiums.
Getting health insurance companies to recognize me as a healthy, low-risk individual and putting me into a low-risk pool (as good drivers are able to do with auto insurance) is not likely to become an option in the near future, while I am still healthy enough to take advantage of it.
So here’s my idea. Add a surcharge to every restaurant and fast-food meal that is based on the average “health rating” for that restaurant. The health rating is simply the total number of calories of food purchased by the restaurant, divided by the number of meals served – giving an average caloric count per meal. The surcharge is to be collected as a direct reimbursement to lower overall insurance costs. If we can’t get insurance companies to lower their premiums or health care providers to reduce their costs, then we can at least come up with a more creative way to pay those costs than simply increasing premiums by 20% year after year. Think of it as a cigarette tax on gluttony.
This is not to penalize restaurants but rather to force people who are habitual gluttons (or simply bad eaters) to pay more for the health costs that we will all eventually incur for their bad habits. I imagine that McDonalds will need to add hefty surcharges, as well any place that sells chicken wings, pizza or Chinese food.
The hefty taxes added to cigarettes were certainly one reason that cigarette use has decreased in America. Maybe charging us for choosing unhealthy eating will have the same effect on our consumption of stuff that is not good for us.
January 28, 2008
I simultaneously strained my right pectoral and lateral muscles about 3 weeks ago, leaving me very uncomfortable and downing a lot of Aleve. Sneezing was profoundly painful, as if the right side of my chest was about to explode, and it made me wonder if anyone ever died from sneezing by breaking ribs. I imagined that frail, elderly people might be susceptible to this.
This is about as close as I could find.
November 12, 2007
There is a short but interesting article in today’s British press about obesity striking not just the U.S. but the rest of the world as well. In fact, the article goes on to say that “There are more dangerously obese people in the world (over 1 billion) than there are people starving (800,000,000).” This article backs that up with a reference to the World Health Organization’s web site, containing a plethora of reports and statistics.
In the midst of greed, politics, war and indifference the distribution of food is a real problem for those people lacking it, and barely on the radars of those getting fat. [This should be yet another Pro-Life movement issue (see previous blog), since about 6 million children die from malnutrition every year. Where are the Pro-lifers on this?]
Becoming fat, dumb and indifferent is no way to remain a world leader, and it appears that the rest of the world is learning some really bad habits from us.
November 6, 2007
Today’s Buffalo News carried a story about New York State’s overall health relative to the rest of the country: we’re 26th out of 50 – the top of the lower half in health.
The good news is that we climbed up from 29th in 2006, and that our obesity rate is only 22.9 percent, lower than the national average of 25 percent.
That’s one-quarter of our population being medically obese. As the report states, “This means, inevitably, that we will have significantly more people who will experience a cardiovascular disease, a stroke, diabetes or a cancer, as a result.”
Gee, I wonder who is going to bear the cost of all that increased care for those who cannot afford health insurance.
The U.S. health crisis has been ignored for a generation now. If only diabetes were terrorists.
October 4, 2007
I’m taking a management course. My first assignment was to make a list of 10 personal lifetime objectives. Here is what I came up with:
- Start exercising regularly
- Go out on a date (with my wife) at least once a week
- Get back to more volunteerism
- Finish rebuilding my bathroom
- Rebuild my kitchen
- Build a workshop
- Build a grandfather clock
- Go on a few exotic vacations
- Continue writing my blog
- Read everything and anything
I am not interested in shopping per se; I am not interested in personal wealth, so “getting more stuff” didn’t pop into my mind. So many goals were about “building” something that it’s obvious I have this need for tangible personal accomplishments. There’s probably some psychological pathology defining some inadequacy in my life that drives me to do this.
This was not at all easy to do. Maybe, when I was younger, I might have included things like “find a mate” or “get a honkin’ great stereo”; but for the past couple of decades my goals have simply been to try to learn and do as much as I can with the time I have to do them.
Neither my hands nor my brain are ever idle.
June 15, 2007
At the conference that I attended this past week in Long Island, the topic of Resveritrol came up. Resveritrol – which is found in red wine – is being touted as a potential fountain of youth. It belongs to a family of compounds that appear to increase the expression of SIR2, a gene implicated in the suppression of age-related diseases. The result – potentially – is longer life.
The speaker made the comment “Future drugs that enhance SIR2 expression, like Resveritrol, could increase the average human lifespan by 50%, from 80 years to 120”. The attendees were asked to think about what we could do with 40 extra healthy years of life.
My thoughts focused on the application of anti-aging medicine to a select group or nation. Who decides who gets this type of drug, anyone who wants it (that would be just about everyone, certainly)? What if it’s expensive? Do only the wealthy get it? Or will society rise up against the wealthy and demand that such a drug be federally subsidized so that all can get access to it? Would such a drug be restricted to wealthy nations only or do all nations get access to the drug?
And what would 40 extra years of life do to the retirement system most have come to rely on (I think it’s called “Social Security”)? What about the concomitant growth in population because of a suddenly reduced mortality rate?
We have already divided drug delivery around the world into more or less have and have not groups, with the poor, and poor countries, getting the orts. As newer and better wonder drugs get invented, at what point does the proletariat uprising begin?
May 30, 2007
This coming Saturday, June 2nd, is the Western New York Tour de Cure, a bike ride for the American Diabetes Association. Last year it was 45 and raining the entire trip (we did the 65-miler). I was cold and miserable and still felt great, like I could’ve done 100 miles.
It’s not too late to sign up. There are actually 5 different routes – 6, 16, 30, 65 and 100 miles – inexperienced cyclists tend to do the shorter runs, but even the 65-miler is so flat than anyone who can do 30 up and down hills can do the 65-miler. This year our group decided to do the 30-miler, and since the weather report calls for questionable conditions I think this was a good idea. We’ll finish in two hours, eat some grilled food, hang out for a little while and head home knowing that we benefited a good cause.
May 11, 2007
I passed this beauty somewhere in Marilla; she was coy. But after a couple of minutes she sashayed up and gave me a few winks with those twinkling eyes. Her name is Llana.
At least I think it is. I hope it’s not Llarry.
I keep her photo right next to the ones I took of the Dalai Lama last year.
May 6, 2007
George Bush exercises a lot. This is one area where I am in complete agreement with his philosophy. At times he seems to put his exercise regimen ahead of work – and he takes way too many vacations – but I admire his fitness and dedication to it.
But because of the way his presidency has gone and will be remembered, I am not sure that I would want him as an advertising spokesman for my company.