Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When will London act on the ReThink promise?

London, Ontario, went through quite a time consuming process called ReThink London. It was an urban planning exercise that invited community participation. ReThink was going to put the large southwest Ontario city on the path to denser future development.

It was, in my opinion, a lot of smoke with very little fire. Despite the claims of massive community involvement, I find the participation numbers questionable. All that aside, what I find most interesting is that the future as envisioned by ReThink is not the future in many places but is simply reality today.

This is a great improvement on the big-box shopping mall.
The posted images are screen grabs from Google Streetviews. The two images from Georgia are not artist's conceptions. These are images of a mixed use development in existence today.

The development, a traditional retail and residential blend, even has a movie theatre as part of the mix.
In compact developments, stores front onto streets rather than parking lots.
Mixed use developments, such as this one in Georgia, are springing up throughout the world. London talks the talk but that's where it all stops.

ReThink London promised an end to urban sprawl but unfortunately the ReThink ideas are little more than a gleam in our city planners' eyes.

Lots of parking with a wall separating much of the residential from the commercial.

More than a decade ago, journalist Christine Dirks told readers of The London Free Press about a new urbanist dream development planned for the southwest of London. It would be a first for the city. Talbot Village was the name of the new suburban community. Today the development is nearing completion and the only part of the dream that survived is the name: Talbot Village.

ReThink London. Humbug.

Addendum: And yes, I know the new city plan was not in place when much of Talbot Village was being built. But, mixed use communities are being built not because developers are being forced to build them but because mix use creates sensible developments and profitable ones as well.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Should you eat eggs? Do you feel lucky?

How do I stand on eggs? Are they safe to eat or not? The answer is "yes and no." It really is. And that is the difficulty. There is no one size fits all answer to the egg question.

The right answer depends on you, and your actions depend on how you answer the famous question asked by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: "Do I feel lucky?"

You see, eggs are safe to eat if you do not suffer from cardiovascular disease, from a build up of plaque in the arteries delivering blood to your heart or brain and elsewhere. But how does one know if their arteries are clear? Well, until tests show they are plugging up, most of us like to believe our arteries are clear. Often we are wrong.

Even though cardiovascular disease afflicts or kills as many as one in two adults in developed countries, we feel lucky. Until, that is, one suffers a heart attack or a stroke. Dying from this is not a long shot. This is not a lottery with long odds. It is not even a dice throw. It is more a coin flip.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports:

A healthy lifestyle pattern may prevent more than 50% of deaths due to ischemic strokes, 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, and 75% of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease. And what exactly is a "healthy lifestyle pattern?"
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying active
  • Choosing a healthy diet

And where do eggs fit in a healthy diet? That depends. Again, from the T.H. Chan school:

People who have difficulty controlling their total and LDL cholesterol may want to be cautious about eating egg yolks and instead choose foods made with egg whites. The same is true for people with diabetes. 

Unfortunately, one year you may test well for cholesterol but move into the danger in the future. For many of us, as our age increases so does our cholesterol. I had good readings until I didn't. And I found out I didn't a little late in the game. I thought I was lucky. I wasn't. I no longer eat eggs, or at least not egg yolks. This is at the urging of my heart and stroke specialist.

If you are young and healthy and at little risk of  cardiovascular disease, you can take solace in the fact that  research has shown eating one egg a day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals. But note those last words: "healthy individuals." Read the fine print.

I believe my heart and stroke doctor would tell you not to flip a coin when it comes to your health. You can never be totally confident that you are "healthy." Don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise and eat a healthy diet by keeping saturated fat consumption low. And, to further increase your odds of avoiding what is commonly called heart disease, minimize your consumption of eggs.