It’s true that most of Indianapolis was devoted to the car today, with all attention and celebration focused around the Indianapolis 500. But it was also a good day for the bike. I ended up not going to the Quaker wedding in Ohio, and instead spent much of the day on my trusty black commuter bike. My errands included purchasing some new, very cute biking gear (two bike skirts!), and then my best friend gave me this lovely t-shirt. Of course, we had to bike to dinner on Mass Ave tonight in our twin “I Bike Indy” outfits. (If you like them, you can get them at the BGI shop at the Indy Bike Hub downtown.)
It seems like Philadelphia is an especially good place to get cheese. There may be a selection bias at work here; certainly, I am prone to seeking out good cheese. But, I have had great success in this endeavor in Philly in restaurants, markets, and neighborhood shops. Does anyone else find Philly to be fabulous for cheese? (And not just the namesake cream cheese)
Related to the wonderfulness of cheese, I had a truly wonderful meal last night at a place called Tria in downtown Philadelphia. They specialize in my favorite fermentation trifecta of foods – cheese, wine, and beer. I found their cheese menu to be spectacular. I love a place with really good food and very little pretense.
This weekend’s 24 hours in Philadelphia were motivated by a wedding celebration for a friend from college. She and her husband had a very small ceremony this winter, and then a larger picnic reception for everyone today. I love the same things in a wedding party – really good food and very little pretense. A low-key party in a beautiful spot with lots of people you love makes for a good day.
I continually marvel at the wonderful women in my life. The friend inspiring the Philadelphia travel is a great example. She is a civil engineer by training who specializes in water resources. We have most recently spent time with her in Kenya and Uganda as she has lived and worked in East Africa for the last few years, designing and managing water projects. More than anything, the resource-limited world needs clean water sources, and this friend makes that happen in poor places.
Along with clean water, the world needs better toilets. They could seriously improve global health. I just read an interesting article on this front. It seems like you would have to deal with a lot of bad jokes working on the forefront of toilet innovation, but boy could you improve the world!
Back to Indianapolis just in time for the Indianapolis 500. I have become embarrassed to admit that I have never attended this event in our fair city. It’s true that racing culture seems like a very foreign one to me, but the allure of the people-watching and the big party and the taste of that foreign culture have become appealing.
No Indy 500 this year though – another wedding beckons tomorrow. This one will be a Quaker wedding for former students in Ohio. I have never been to a traditional Quaker wedding, but I am told that the group of invited people and church members gather at what they call a “meeting” and the couple is married by those who have gathered. There is a time of silence, into which anyone is welcomed to speak. So many fascinating options for sending two people off on the journey of marriage.
1. Lots of places in the world have problems with obesity. The U.S. actually does the worse, where 34% of adults over the age of 20 are obese. The bike is an anti-obesity transportation machine. In a study looking at 14 countries, all 50 states, and 47 of the largest US cities, places with more bike commuters had less obesity.
2. In the U.S. cities and states where more people commute by bike, there is less diabetes. (From the same study as above. For the same reasons. It’s good for the body to move around.)
3. In much of the developing world, community health workers provide important health care and health education. They travel from home-to-home in remote villages, doing everything from delivering babies to putting up mosquito nets to educating families about clean water. How do these community health workers get around? Bikes are often their very best option. In fact, programs that equip health workers in places like Kenya with bikes allow them to care for more people. Bicycles are a great solution for delivering health care to some of the most remote parts of the world.
4. Bicycles can serve as ambulances in places where there are no other ways to get to the hospital. Bicycles save lives when a pregnant woman has obstructed labor or someone has been in a serious accident. Those same programs helping to equip the community health workers are often setting up bicycle ambulances as well.
5. In low- and middle-income countries, bicycles are the main way to transport people and goods. More transportation means more commerce and economic growth. A bicycle taxi can be a great business in a place where business opportunities are scarce.
6. Bicycles promote equality. In poor places like India, women and girls are often the ones who shoulder the weight of farming and chores and walking to get water. Bicycles can make these things easier. Bicycles means more time in school. More time in school means that girls will delay child-bearing, have healthier families, contribute more to the economy, and otherwise bring about better change in the world.
7. You could live a longer, healthier life if you just biked to the store. From NPR:
If the Midwesterners ran half of their short-distance errands by bike rather than by car, 1,100 deaths would be avoided each year, and $7 billion would be saved in reduced health-care costs. The trips were 2.5 miles one way; less than a 25-minute bike ride, the researchers figure.
8. When a group of teenagers in Kenya wanted to create their One minute to save the world, they turned to their bikes. Adolescents from the Kenyan slums accurately saw bikes as a way to improve their health and protect the environment. “It’s good for my health, because I need to exercise, it doesn’t need any gas, just my feet and my eyes.” Watch the great “Me and My Bike” from Kenya.
9. And then there’s the opportunity for bike nudity. Every year, more than 50 cities around the world hold World Naked Bike Ride events. In 2010 in Portland, 11,000 people biked naked! Surely global nudity on bikes improves the world’s health? (OK, you can wear clothes, promote biking, and still improve global health. But I had to throw this in.)
10. Riding a bike makes you smile. This one isn’t scientifically proven, but I’m going to offer my expert opinion. Even if you don’t pay attention to the fact that you are saving money, reducing pollution, burning fat, and doing something good for your heart by riding a bike, the bike will make you smile. You have to pay attention to your surroundings and to the weather. You will notice little things around you. And you will feel like a kid pulling out from your driveway to go exploring.
Wedding season seems to have descended upon us, with three marriages in three states to celebrate over the next two weekends. (Missouri this weekend, Philadelphia and Ohio next weekend.)
My paternal grandparents lived in Alaska for a number of years, and many members of my extended family have made that beautiful state their home. One of my Alaskan cousins fell in love with a girl from Missouri, and so many members of the V family gathered in the Show Me State this weekend to watch Reuben and Kaylee walk into their new life together.
The thing that I love most about these family weddings is the chance to see various members of my extended family– to hear stories of where they have been and what they have been doing, to play with the little ones, to learn more about who they are and what they are excited about. There were 10 children in my dad’s family, and I have 38 first cousins, so there is plenty to learn. And with our family spread across the country from Alaska to California to Colorado to Michigan (and lots of places in between), it is rare to have the chance to see so many of them in one place.
And so, we celebrated!
My father (below, in the center) rarely has the chance to be with so many of his siblings.
5 of the 10 Vreeman siblings
The last time I saw these twin cousins was in 1992. They have changed quite a bit!
Dan holding Gideon, Rachel holding Amos. July, 1992.
Rachel with Amos and Gideon. May, 2012. (I think Amos is on the right)
My parents especially love having their grandsons join in the family celebrations.
Much love and many congratulations to Reuben and Kaylee!
Much of what I write about on this blog is about patient care. Please be assured that: 1) I ask for and receive permission to post any patient photos that I include here and 2) Patient names and identifying details are changed to protect their privacy.