My Favorite Pro Sports Team

It’s Super Bowl time again.  My favorite team made it deep into the playoffs but didn’t quite make it to Big Show this year.

My favorite pro sports team is the Green Bay Packers.  It’s not because of what they do on the field or their star players.  I’m not even much of a football fan (I’m more into baseball and basketball.)

The Green Bay Packers are awGreen_Bay_Packers_logoesome because they are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States.  They are owned by 360,000 shareholders, and no one is allowed to own more than 4% of the shares.

Packers shares are passed on to by family members, and sale of the stock is forbidden.  This unique structure ensures that the team remain in Green Bay, Wisconsin despite having the smallest market in North American pro sports.  (The city of Green Bay has a population of 104,000 and the metro area has 312,000 residents.)

Continue reading “My Favorite Pro Sports Team”

Flint’s Water Crisis – Fix It Now!

Flint, Michigan has a crisis that needs immediate attention.

You’ve heard about the lead that has been leaching out of the pipes of the homes, schools and businesses in Flint.  Let me summarize the facts, and then I’ll propose a solution.

  • In April 2014, Flint chose to draw the city’s water from the Flint River as a cost-cutting maneuver, rather than continuing to use the Detroit water supply.
  • The water from the Flint River was highly corrosive to the lead pipes found throughout the city of Flint and its homes, allowing the lead to be released into the tap water.
  • After a year and a half, the city switched back to Detroit water after unsafe levels of lead were found in Flint children.
  • Even though the corrosive Flint River water is no longer used, the lead from the pipes continues to seep into the drinking water. The pipes cannot be made safe.
  • The amount of lead detected in Flint tap water is deadly. Some levels are so high, the water meets the EPA classification of “toxic waste.”

flint_water_pipes

  • Let me be clear about this – the level of lead in the Flint water system is like deadly radiation. It’s beyond the level that one can ignore or take steps to work around.  Here’s an article from the Washington Post which illustrates the toxicity.
  • There is no safe amount of lead exposure.  It lowers a child’s IQ and adversely affects nearly system in the body.  The effects cannot be reversed and are lifelong.
  • Water quality superstar Professor Marc Edwards (winner of a McArthur Genius grant for his work on our water infrastructure crisis in the U.S.) stated in an NPR interview, “The damage that was done to Flint’s children and to the pipes cannot be undone. The price tag to just replace the city-owned pipes completely would be $1.5 billion.”  He also noted that it’s usually a 30-year process to replace an entire distribution system.

The situation is clear.  Flint cannot be made safe in the foreseeable future, and we cannot expect Americans with this threat to their health and life.

The only solution is that Flint must be abandoned.

Continue reading “Flint’s Water Crisis – Fix It Now!”

What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?

What’s going on with the 2016 Presidential race? Voters are rallying behind political outsiders, both Republican and Democrat. Campaign front-runners have never been so extreme in their views, leaving the more mainstream candidates scrambling to connect with the voters.

It’s easy to think that we’re seeing something unusual, that this is some sort of perfect storm of voter frustration and fear.  Actually, this year’s unprecedented political maneuvering is a logical continuation of economic trends that started over 40 years ago.

I was doing a study for Universal Studios, looking into how Americans are working more and taking less vacation time.  I noticed that when average wages were adjusted for inflation, the American worker had actually been earning less and less each year since 1973.

Wage_stagnation
Continue reading “What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?”

Great American Road Trip Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge and Pendleton

Columbia River Gorge

Day One of our road trip was a nice Oregon spring day, meaning that it was dry though overcast.  We headed out a little late, just after 10am, Eastward on I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge.

The Gorge is one of the most beautiful spots on earth, and it’s no wonder it has been designated a National Scenic Area.  It seems the Gorge always shows up in car advertisements, showing the vehicle perched majestically above a huge river flowing far below.

This Sunday the Gorge was utterly calm, which is really rare.  Even the numerous wind turbines were completely still.  This phenomenon allowed wisps of low-lying clouds to cling to the valleys lining the gorge, which was a unexpected treat to see.

Cowboys at the Pendleton Round-up

We wanted to cross the country as quickly as reasonably possible, so there was no time for side trips.  We had lunch in Pendleton, Oregon at Dickey’s Barbecue.  This is a Texas-based chain of stores, and as much as I try to steer clear of chains, I’ve got to say Dickey’s is pretty darn good.  When you’re hungry for ‘cue, it’s a solid alternative for a grab-and-go meal.

Continue reading “Great American Road Trip Day 1 – Columbia River Gorge and Pendleton”

Sperling’s Chill Cities

What are the best places in the U.S. to spend a cool, comfortable summer?

Summer heat and humidity can seem relentless, with no relief in sight.  Even moderately-high temperatures can be unbearable when combined with high humidity and nighttime temperatures that refuse to dip.

But there are places around the United States which are reliably cool and comfortable, even during the warmest months – July and August.  I used our new Sperling Heat Index to identify the places with the desirable combination of moderate daytime temps, low humidity, and cool temperatures at night.

Of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco have the most comfortable summers, with mild temperatures, cool nights and humidity so low it’s barely noticeable.  (A full ranking of the 50 largest metros is at the end of this post, plus a ranking of  all 361 U.S. metros.)

Top Ten Chill Cities (of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas)

Rank Metro Daytime  high temp Nighttime low temp  Dew point Relative humidity at high temp
1 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 74.9 52.9 50.8 43%
2 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 79.2 53.2 51.6 38%
3 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 78.5 55.6 52.6 41%
4 Denver-Aurora, CO 83.3 53.4 46.3 28%
5 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 83.4 55.6 53.5 36%
6 Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY 80.3 60.0 59.3 49%
7 Salt Lake City, UT 88.5 57.1 39.8 18%
8 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 81.6 60.6 60.2 48%
9 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 82.3 60.8 59.3 46%
10 Pittsburgh, PA 82.7 60.3 60.2 47%

(full list of 50 at the end of this post)
Click here to get the all the supporting data in a spreadsheet, including high temperatures, nighttime temperatures, dew point and relative humidity

Continue reading “Sperling’s Chill Cities”

Sizzling Cities ranked – our new Heat Index

Which metros suffer through the summer, and where do residents just chill out?

We just released our new Sperling Heat Index, and I’m pretty excited about it.  It not only uses the average summer high temperature, but also includes the nighttime low temperature and dew point (a measure of humidity).

Of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Houston have the hottest summers, and Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland have the coolest. (A full list of the 50 metros is at the end of this post, and a ranking of all 361 U.S. metros is available for download here.)

Top Ten Sizzling Cities (of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas)

Rank Metro Heat Index Average high temp Nighttime low temp  Dew point Relative humdity at high temp
1 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ 97.7 104.5 77.0 55.7 20%
2 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 94.4 103.1 75.2 42.2 13%
3 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 92.4 94.9 73.1 67.5 41%
4 Houston-Sugar Land, TX 92.3 92.0 74.3 72.9 54%
5 Austin-Round Rock, TX 92.2 94.8 72.3 69.1 44%
6 San Antonio, TX 92.1 94.4 72.6 69.3 44%
7 Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL 92.0 90.3 75.3 73.1 57%
8 New Orleans-Metairie, LA 91.7 90.7 74.5 73.2 57%
9 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 91.6 91.9 73.3 72.4 53%
10 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL 91.5 90.8 73.9 73.0 56%

(full list of 50 at the end of this post)
Click here to get the all the supporting data in a spreadsheet, including high temperatures, nighttime temperatures, dew point and relative humidity.

Continue reading “Sizzling Cities ranked – our new Heat Index”

CBS News Features Sperling’s Natural Hazards Ranking

On Tuesday, June 18th, CBS Morning News will be doing a feature based on our rankings of all 379 U.S. metros areas for their risk from natural disasters.  According to the producers, it should air about 7:45am local time.

We compiled this list at the request of the New York Times, which wondered – in the face of all these calamities (tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods, extreme cold and heat, hail and stifling humidty), where could one go to have a reasonable expectation of safety from natural disasters?

Here are the top ten metros with the lowest risk of natural disasters.  (there is a full list of all 379 metros at the end of this post.)

1  Corvallis, OR
2  Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA
3  Bellingham, WA
4  Wenatchee, WA
5  Grand Junction, CO
6  Spokane, WA
7  Salem, OR
8  Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
9  Yakima, WA
10 Olympia, WA

And continuing our list, here are the ten places with the greatest risk from natural disasters…

Continue reading “CBS News Features Sperling’s Natural Hazards Ranking”

Portland Just Got a Lot Weirder

Institution Incentivizes Indecency

(Okay, maybe the subtitle is a little hysterical but I’m a sucker for alliteration.)

Portland has this slogan “Keep Portland Weird” (which they stole from Austin, how lame is that?)  And as part of their celebration of weirdness, they have the annual Naked Bike Ride.  There is a World Naked Bike Ride, but Portland claims to have the largest, maybe 5,000 riders.

(At the end of this post, I’ve have links to photos and videos of the Portland ride.)

But this year it gets a little weirder, with the help of a venerable Portland institution.

Continue reading “Portland Just Got a Lot Weirder”

Best Football Cities

Which city produces the most pro football players?  Either all-time or the modern era, it’s the same place.

It may not be our national pastime, but football is probably the most-followed sport in America.  It’s certainly got the biggest single game – pigskin fanatic or not, chances are you’ll be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Cities that can lay claim to the title of Super Bowl Champion change every year, but are there places where football excellence has been consistent for decades?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great football town. We decided it’s more than wins and losses, attendance, and championships. Heck, maybe there isn’t even an NFL team in town.  More importantly, it’s where there’s touch games in the street, an old tire to throw to in every yard, and families spend their weekends at the Pop Warner field.

Continue reading “Best Football Cities”

Houston – The Place to Go?

Houston, TX

The New York Times announces “The 46 Places to Go in 2013

Now this is not just a list of interesting spots.  Oh, no.  This is a list of “THE” places you must visit, and because the places have been precisely and lovingly vetted and curated, there are exactly 46 of them.

Not 50 places, because any hack can throw together a list with a nice round number like that.  By choosing 46 locations, it lends an air of precision and perfection to the crafting of the list.

So check this out… At #7, out of all the places in the world, is Houston (yes, that Houston… Texas.)  Right after Rio, Marseille, Nicaragua, Accra (Ghana), Bhutan, and Amsterdam.  (“What’s in Houston?  Culture and food.”)

And the reason that their choice of Houston is interesting is that it was #1 in our list of the top 20 Coolest Cities in the U.S., which we did with Forbes in July 2012.

Continue reading “Houston – The Place to Go?”