Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commuters with Empty Pockets

Forbes Magazine has published a couple of studies, "America's Most Expensive Commutes" and "Cities With the Worse Pain at the Pump" which take a look at the rising cost of gas and the effect on the average commuter.

In "Pain at the Pump" Forbes.com took the country's 50 largest metro areas and looked at congestion, fuel costs, use of mass transit and carpools and commuting distances to determine which metropolitan areas were paying the most for gas and burning the most in their commute. My beloved Washington D.C. taps out on top with an average of $13 a day to commute into the city.

Think you can escape the rising gas prices by being a good citizen and taking the metro? Think again. "Most Expensive Commutes" illustrates the skyrocketing price of public transportation where the cost of the daily commute is proportional to the size and extent of the rail system. More extensive infrastructures means cheaper commutes. However, inexpensive commutes were inversely proportional to the cost of housing. Take New York City, it was the second cheapest commute in the country, but has some of the highest housing expenses and least affordable housing markets in the nation.

You know, I usually like to end these kinds of posts on a positive note. Ooops.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Great Big Lie

Well my loves, vacation seems inexcusable in the land of blogs and I really did mean to keep up my love of trivia while I was away in Italy, Germany, and the Czech Republic. But I didn't, did I? I'm back now and I learned all sorts of things and saw all sorts of sights in "foreign" countries (I mean, the landscape did change quite a bit in Germany and the Czech Republic, but all the people stayed rather the same, except I couldn't understand them). Which leads me to one of my favorite sites in Prague.

It’s the Prague Astronomical Clock. This fabulous display of medieval artistry and science is still ticking away in the city's Old Town Square. While I was pointing out with appreciable geekiness to my husband and sister-in-law, the meaning of all the golden dials, whirring knobs, and mosaic illustrations of zodiac constellations, my husband noted that the sun could not possibly be in the constellation of Gemini as the clock was indicating. After all, it was only May 10th. And he should know, since he's a Gemini.

Welcome to the Great Big Lie.

I told him how on my first day of Astronomy 101, with no small amount of glee and (a certain degree of pity) my astronomy teacher told us of how the astronomical dates for sun signs were set by the classical Greeks about 2000 years ago. And due to the precession of the earth's axis (don't ask, but basically it's the same reason why Polaris wasn't a pole star for the Greeks either) over time, the positions of the constellations have actually shifted about 25 astronomical degrees. "That's right", I explained to my husband, "you're actually a Taurus."

If you too would like to find out what your "real" astrological sign is, you can visit, the Live Science Article "Your Astrological Sign may Not Be What You Think It Is".

Or like me, if your horoscope seems just a little off today, try reading the one before it.