2011 SoCal Ragnar Relay Time Calculator

I put together the following chart to calculate a team’s ETAs at checkpoints in the 2011 SoCal Ragnar Relay.   Based on the estimated pace for each runner, it provides estimated arrival times at the checkpoints and the finish line. This might be off some assistance in coordinating hand-offs, van transitions and conjugal visits.   Continue reading “2011 SoCal Ragnar Relay Time Calculator”

Fitness Tax Credit: Fitness Inducer or Revenue Reducer?

A while back I wrote about a proposed junk food tax.  Proponents of junk food taxes argue that maintaining good health amoung individuals in society is an important public policy consideration.  But there are components to a healthy lifestyle beyond avoiding junk food.  Fitness through physical activity is frequently cited as a critical element of healthy lifestyle.  Daily exercise and weight control is the bedrock of the nutrition pyramid published by the Harvard School of Public Health.  And the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that “Adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy; children and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day for their health.” ((http://www.fitness.gov/resources_factsheet.htm))  In response to these calls for increased physical fitness, some are proposing a fitness tax credit.  If the health of individuals is indeed an important public policy objective, then a fitness tax credit, a tax credit that makes fitness resources more accessible, may be a worthy consideration.

Continue reading “Fitness Tax Credit: Fitness Inducer or Revenue Reducer?”

Arguments For and Against Junk Food and Soda Taxes

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The debate over junk food taxes is drawing increasing attention from both sides.  Continued debate over of the adverse health impacts of sugary drinks is coupled with heating debate over the propriety of a tax on a dietary pleasure — a pleasure some believe people have an unassailable right to partake in, but others find to be a health hazard.

Here are some recent arguments from vocal advocates on both sides of the debate:

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Make Your Own Watch ID to Carry Emergency Contact and Medical Information

watch-idThis is my first do it yourself post and it’s for all the running and hiking nuts out there.    I’ve read in a variety of articles and advertisements that when running, hiking, cycling or participating in other outdoor recreational pursuits, it’s a good idea to carry ID and emergency contact information.  I suppose that in the event that I get injured and am unable to effectively communicate with emergency responders, I would rather be an injured Jacob than an injured John Doe.

A few companies market ID products that cater to the running, hiking, cycling and outdoor enthusiast crowd, such as Road ID.  While Road ID’s marketing campaign has been effective at convincing me that it would be prudent for me to carry ID when participating in outdoor adventures, it has been ineffective at persuading me to fork over the $19.99 for “the Wrist ID Sport” (or $29.99 for “the Wrist ID Sport Elite”)[1] [2]

I’m already wearing something on my wrist:  my trusty old watch.  I figured I could put my vital information on my watch.  My watch can simultaneously tell me the time and serve as a transmitter of identifying information in the event I’m rendered unable to communicate – creating an efficient economy of wrist pieces.

Here’s how to make your own Watch ID:

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The Tension Between Public Healthcare and Personal Health Habits

Does societal responsibility for individual health needs give rise to individual responsibility to maintain health?

The proposed changes in healthcare have consumed a fair portion of media attention over the past few months.  Much of the debate revolves around the provisioning of healthcare to American’s.  But buried deep in the discussions is some talk about preventive care and the role that health maintenance plays in America’s overall healthcare policy.  President Obama’s healthcare policy discussion mentions individual responsibility for preventative care:

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that protecting and promoting health and wellness in this nation is a shared responsibility among individuals and families, school systems, employers, the medical and public health workforce, and federal and state and local governments. All parties must do their part, as well as collaborate with one another, to create the conditions and opportunities that will allow and encourage Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles.”[1]

The proposed changes in healthcare represent, to some degree, a movement towards increased public responsibility for the health of individuals.[2] If society shoulders some of the burden of individual healthcare issues, then an individual’s health habits have, in addition to personal health consequences, external repercussions.  This begs the question:  If society takes responsibility for the health of its citizens, do the citizens have a corresponding responsibility to society to maintain their own health?

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The Junk Food Tax: Good for Our Health or Bad for Our Wealth?

obtax1Last month New York Governor David Paterson proposed an obesity tax to be levied on fattening foods.  He characterizes America’s problem with obesity as a crisis.  Drawing a comparison to cigarettes, he suggests that just as cigarette taxes reduced the number of American’s consumption of cigarettes, a tax on certain junk foods should reduce the consumption of unhealthy fare.

Paterson remarked:

“Just as the cigarette tax has helped reduce the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths, a tax on highly caloric, non-nutritional beverages can help reduce the prevalence of obesity”[1]

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Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease. To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

codeevoThe leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease.   In fact the average American stands a 1 in 3 chance of dying from heart disease.   Advances in medical technology cannot offset the increasingly poor lifestyle that American’s lead.  Most people are familiar with the most often cited measures for decreasing the risk of heart disease, mainly:


1.       Don’t smoke

2.       Be active

3.       Eat healthy

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease.   To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

Continue reading “Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?”

The Smoking Optional Room

smokingoptional

I recently enjoyed a short getaway with my wife.  We had reserved a room at a hotel and had requested a non-smoking room.  Upon check in the gentleman at the front desk told us that the hotel was very busy.  He informed us that the room they had available for us was a smoking optional room.

This is a fantastic piece of marketing word play.  Unless there is category of rooms in which smoking is required, my understanding is that all smoking rooms are in fact smoking optional. But by adding that one word optional to the label for the room, the image of the room is somewhat transformed.  The term smoking room conjures up images of a room that smells like an ashtray and is littered with tiny burn marks on the furniture.  By contrast, a smoking optional room is a room in which you have options.  The occupant of the smoking optional room has a freedom that the occupant of the non-smoking room does not possess; the freedom to partake in a multitude of delightful tobacco products.

This phraseology, while creative and even a bit cute, is no doubt an attempt to make the room seem more acceptable to non-smokers when no non-smoking rooms are available for their stay.  Perhaps some non-smokers, despite previous convictions to refrain from the habit, are at least compelled to not completely rule out the option of smoking should they choose to pickup the habit during their stay.

After a polite request, and some discussion with the manager on duty, we were placed in a smoking prohibited room.  But I appreciate that we were afforded the option of smoking.