The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Commuting by car makes you sad: British Journal of Obvious Medicine

No kidding:

“Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological well-being,” says Adam Martin from the University of East Anglia. The study, just published in the journal Preventative Medicine, concludes that commuters with “active travel modes” are associated with higher rates of well-being than those who drive or use public transportation. Over an 18-year span, 18,000 British commuters were asked a number of questions to gauge their various levels of “well-being.” The questions ranged from, Have you been feeling unhappy and depressed? to Have you been able to enjoy your day-to-day activities? Responses were then correlated with the type of transportation used to arrive at work. The findings offer additional evidence that active commuters are thought to be happier, more focused workers.

The solution? Walk, even if just for part of the way:

Simply adding ten minutes of walking time to your commute, the study concludes, is associated with a boost in well-being. Importantly, the scientific definition of "well-being" is influenced by work-related traits like problem solving and completing tasks. Therefore, the researchers believe improved well-being also correlates to a more productive worker. The psychological benefits of an active commute appear so significant that driving should be a last resort. Even if you can drive to work in 10 minutes, the study suggests, an hour-long walk may be better for your well-being.

“We conclude that the potential benefits available to car drivers if they switched to active travel, and walking in particular, exceed any potential benefits associated with reducing commuting time,” write the team of researchers.

This is why I get off the bus a few stops early every morning. Oh—and why I live and work in a big city in the first place.

We won't have him to kick around anymore?

Toronto mayor Rob Ford has dropped out of the race for re-election. His brother Doug has taken up the mantle. A local Toronto paper says this is so Doug can discover he can't win an election:

With just over a month to go before the municipal election, Rob Ford’s mysterious abdominal tumour, which was addressed last night at Mount Sinai hospital by colorectal cancer expert Dr. Zane Cohen, has forced the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto into a hospital bed for further testing. As a result of this medical emergency, Rob Ford’s brother, a kickboxing black-belt holder by the name of Doug Ford, has taken the reigns of Robbie’s campaign and will aim to extend the rich legacy of a Ford-run Toronto into 2018

Doug will have a tough job teaching Toronto how to Dougie (fingers crossed he uses the Cali Swag District song as his campaign theme) when the city has become so accustomed to the aggressive foibles of his brother Rob. He will also need to get some A-list talent on his side, given that Rob has garnered the support of such non-controversial figures as Mike Tyson and Don Cherry. Doug also does not have the late night talk show experience that Rob has, nor has he bro’d down with the people in the same way that his crack smoking, racist brother has been able to capture the hearts and minds of about 28 percent of Toronto’s voting block. In fact, Doug Ford mainly seems to be really, really pissed off a lot of the time.

We knew this would happen someday, but it's still sad to see Rob Ford roll off the Canadian stage. Toronto won't be the same without him, which entire neighborhoods there are happy about.

What to do with sun and cool weather

We have near-record cool temperatures predicted today, possibly no warmer than 14°C today. It's also sunny, and neither I nor Parker has any responsibilities that can't shift to tomorrow.

In short, we're going to take a hike. Literally; in Wisconsin. And possibly bring back some beer.

I'm all for autumn weather, but...

Chicago—a lot of the country, in fact—is experiencing the coldest early-fall weather in a century:

Never before over the 143-year term of official Chicago records dating back to 1871 had a September 11th failed to produce a high temp which reached 14°C. Never, that is, until Thursday! The day’s 13°C midnight high set a record for the coolest Sept 11 on the books, effortlessly eclipsing the previous record of 15°C. Yesterday’s 13°C was 12°C below normal and 13°C cooler than the day before and, perhaps most significantly, the chilliest early season daytime high temperature which has occurred in the city over the past 97-years!

Oh, and it snowed in South Dakota yesterday. In September.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Coast continues their worst drought in forever...

Will the Union survive next week?

A week from today, part of a 400-year-old country may elect to secede:

YouGov’s latest survey has No, on 52%, narrowly ahead of Yes, 48%, after excluding don’t knows. This is the first time No has gained ground since early August. Three previous polls over the past month had recorded successive four point increases in backing for independence. In early August Yes support stood at 39%; by last weekend it had climbed to 51%.

Just one week ago, Scots divided evenly on whether their country would be better or worse off.

Yes, for those of you not paying attention to the Ancestral Homeland, next Thursday Scotland will hold a referendum on remaining in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If the referendum succeeds, it will set in motion a series of steps that could have Scotland become an independent nation within the EU by 2020. If this sounds like a bad idea to you, you're not alone. The economics are horrible, and that's even before figuring out whether Scotland will remain on Sterling. Never mind things like nuclear armaments, North Sea oil fields, and the fact that 400,000 English live in Scotland and a whopping 600,000 Scots live in England.

The Daily Parker votes No. My ancestors came down with James VI. The Union has always been stronger together.

You make the baby cheeses cry

The Chicagoist reports that new FDA regulations may curdle the raw-cheese market:

...due to the FDA’s decision to change the allowance for non-toxigenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) in dairy products. Non-toxigenic E. coli is a typically harmless bacterium found in the human gastrointestinal tracts as well as in raw milk cheeses. Recently, the FDA changed their allowance for this bacteria from a Most Probable Number (MPN) of 100 per gram, a fairly average amount in raw cheese, to 10 MPN per gram. Because of this drastic decrease, Roquefort and other cheeses such as raw milk versions of Morbier and Tommes de Savoie are now on Import Alert. The cheeses are held on Detention without Physical Examination, the FDA's infamous "red list."

The FDA is detaining the raw milk cheeses in order to take at least 1,600 samples. Their goal is to determine how often certain foods, specifically raw milk cheeses, are liable to become contaminated under the new definition. ... The FDA wrote this letter to the American Cheese Society, outlining their objectives in this study.

Fortunately, the U.K. still exists allows raw cheeses to be sold. Unfortunately, the U.K. still has a bit of BSE floating around....

Moments in travel derpitude; or, check your phone first

We live in a wondrous age of travel. The mobile phone has revolutionized it: You can get travel alerts, boarding passes, taxis, delay notifications—everything you need.

Against that you have the state of the human brain at 5 in the morning.

According to my mobile phone, I actually woke up at 6. But I'm not in my home time zone. Nor have I exactly gotten enough sleep this week. So when I woke up at 6, I started executing the Leave Louisville Plan, which did not, unfortunately, include checking my mobile phone for flight delays.

It's only a one-hour delay. But it's an hour I could have stayed in bed.

Smart phone, dumb guy.

Cool part of my job

West Monroe Partners (my employer, who have no editorial control over this blog, nor do they endorse anything I write here) has a thriving mergers and acquisitions practice. In order to provide appropriate advice to our private equity clients, we perform "diligences," which are thorough investigations of a company's strengths and weaknesses. Almost always, the target companies have technology assets that we evaluate as part of the diligence. Which is why I'm up at the crack of dawn in a hotel outside Phoenix.

Obviously I can't disclose anything about a diligence effort, or what kind of transaction is contemplated, or even what industry the company is in. In fact, sometimes I won't even know who the target is until I get there, as is the case today. So I am able to say nothing more about today's work than I'm in Arizona.

Still, the work is really interesting. We get pretty deep into the target's processes, methodologies, even sometimes their actual code and infrastructure. As a technology professional, it gives me exposure to different ways of doing things, especially what works and what doesn't. And it gets me out of the house for a day or two.

Of course, this will slow down posting a bit this week...