Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gas Prices: something to think about

From Wired Blog. com:

By Dave Demerjian

Even at its highest, the price of gas in America hasn't come close to European prices. Governments there have made taxes the keystone of their campaign to cut consumption, promote alternative transportation and go green. It's time for the United States to do the same.

Gas prices have been rising in Europe for more than a decade, and much of the increase comes from tax hikes that now account for 40 to 50 percent of the cost to fill up. The Netherlands and Britain have nearly doubled their gas taxes, to $4.04 and $3.82 a gallon respectively, since the early 1990s. Compare that to America, where Uncle Sam tacks a paltry 18.4 cents onto every gallon of gas.

Eighteen cents? Put down that extra flat screen and smell the fumes: We can afford the tax hike.

The high gas prices we paid for fuel this summer could be a more effective remedy for our fuel-related environmental and geo-political problems than digging in our national parks. In addition to reminding us that, in cities at least, we can walk to the store, it encourages the development of new, fuel-saving technology.

We've already shown we can live with gas at $4 a gallon (less than half what some European countries saw during the price spikes last summer) without inviting the apocalypse. That pretty much shoots down the argument that people won't stand for higher gas prices. And, as Time magazine notes, an increase in the gas tax could be offset by a cut in the payroll tax, which has a far greater impact on our pocketbooks, anyway.

European governments embraced gas taxes to cut consumption. It's working there, and it would work here.

Europeans sucked down about 3.2 million gallons barrels of gasoline per day (thanks for pointing out the error, David) in 1992. That figure has dropped to 2.51 million today, the Boston Globe reports. Rising fuel prices also have prompted Europeans to embrace ever-smaller cars: Last year's top sellers were the Peugeot 207, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa.

Compare that to the United States, where our thirst for gas only grows. We burned through 8.43 million barrels per day in the early 1990s but use 10.84 million today. That's bad news for a country that purportedly wants to cut its dependence on foreign oil, which is why there's a growing chorus calling for an increase in a federal gas tax that has barely budged in 15 years. In addition to feeding our addiction to petroleum, keeping the tax ridiculously low has decimated the federal fund that would finance road and bridge construction if it weren't nearly broke.

Not surprisingly, plenty of people oppose a bump in the tax. The National Center for Policy Analysis calls that tax "perhaps the single worst influence on the development of rational transportation policies in the United States," and suggests it be repealed. The Cato Institute is even more direct, giving its policy paper the no-nonsense title, "Don't Increase Federal Gasoline Taxes — Abolish Them."

But the bottom line is cheap gas hurts us more than it helps us. It keeps us shackled to inefficient cars, undermines efforts to address global climate change, and discourages the development of alternative transportation technologies. As if that weren't enough, it transfers ever larger amounts of money to governments unfriendly to our interests.

With oil prices at a four-year low, now is the time to act. We must increase the gas tax to cut consumption, generate revenue to repair roads, finance mass transit and and put us on a path toward true energy independence.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just Do It....

Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is a pretty darn good one to live by, especially when your goals are to improve your body, health and mind.

For example, have you ever planned to go to the gym to workout after work, but then after a long day at the grind, all you want to do is go home, eat and sit in front of the T.V.? And, if you did this, you'd probably eat more food than you really needed out of sheer boredom and stress? Then, all your body composition goals would be thrown out the window

Tonight, I had one of these feelings, and almost bailed out on a workout that I really had no reason to not get in. It was a very cold day and was getting dark by the time I got out of work. The temps were in the teens (yes, it was cold...) and, for some reason I was feeling really tired (actually, Aunt Flo and TOM were the culprits). So, the whole time I was driving to the gym, I was trying make excuses for not going. Then, when I finally got there, I sat in the parking lot for awhile and read my email on my Blackberry (aka, Crackberry). Then, it started to get cold in the car, so I figured I'd at least go in to do a short workout, but no more.
When I got in there, and got warmed up, a new surge of energy hit me. I ended up staying for an hour an 20 minutes and worked myself so hard that I had a hard time walking when I left. I started with front squats and did four sets of 10-12 with 115lbs supersetted with front planks. Then, I moved onto front reverse lunges in the squat rack, with 95lbs for four sets of 6 each leg. Next, was weighted step ups supersetted with weighted v-sits. Finally, I hit leg press with four plates each side supersetted with decline dragonflags and crunches. My legs were killing me, but in a good way. And, to think, I didn't even want to go to the gym tonight, but ended up having a totally great workout! Who would've thunk, eh? :)
So, like Nike says: Just Do It.
Don't let your mind trick you into giving up. You really do have the strength and the energy to get your workouts in. There are No Excuses when you have a goal in mind. The key is to stick to your goals and not let anything get in your way.
Now; stop sitting there and get moving! Enjoy your workout!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Did you ever wonder how that ipod you love so dearly got to be how it is in your hand?

Also, do you ever wonder why today we're bombarded with more commercials telling us to buy more stuff than we really need?

Then, did you ever wonder where this stuff goes once you throw it away?

If so (and I hope you do), you really have to watch this amazing video my colleague sent me about "The Story of Stuff"

It'll really make you think twice before you decide to trash your year-old ipod for the newest, latest model.

It's all about sustainabiliy, a green economy and keeping our earth healthy. We only have one Earth, and we have to love it more than we do now.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Talking on the Fitcast with Kevin, Jen and JFass

I hope you all had a great Turkey weekend!

We had the festivities at my house this year, which was both cool and a bit stressful. You see, I'm a compulsive cleaner (yes, I love Mr Clean) and I couldn't let people come over until my whole house was spotless. The good thing about OCCD is that you get a great workout at the same time!
The other cool thing about having the meal at my house is that I got to somewhat "overview" what food was put on the table. Yes, we had the traditional bread n butter stuffing mix, but instead of a high-calorie sweet potato casserole that my sister was going to make, I baked Delecata Squash rings with thyme and olive oil and bit of sea salt and saved our wastelines and our hearts. I also made a low-sugar, low-carb apple crisp for dessert, which was yuuummmmyyyy. :) My family still reached for the regular pumpkin pie, but at least I had something else to treat myself with.
How was everyone else's dinners? I hope you were able to enjoy it as much as I.
This past weekend also involved an interview I did with Kevin, Jen Heath and Jonathan Fass on the Fitcast.
I this episode we spoke about training, diets for women, and low carbing. Jonathan also chimed in with his brainiac knowledge of muscular imbalances.... if you've ever wondered why you have love handles, but your body fat is low, you might just want to listen to what Jonathan had to say.
Check out the episode HERE. And, while you're there, have a listen to some of the other episodes. The one with the creator of Bigger, Faster, Stronger, (the movie about steriods in America) with Chris Bell is especially cool.
Have a great week!