No longer wheezing but 18-wheelers are overhead

John Taylor: May 21, 20070 Comments

Just back from a trip to Seattle, wondering how many liters of clean air I pumped into my lungs hiking the streets and riding the ferry to Bainbridge Island.

One thing clean air does to someone with 26 years worth of ozone- and particulate-besotted Valley lungs -- it makes you cough.  And in Seattle there is at least one place where coughs and gasps intersect --- a pedestrian causeway that gets you from Pier 52 into the downtown area near Pioneer Square.

Only problem is it takes you under Highway 99 -- overused, salt-eaten and just a yard over the head of a 6-footer. Every Seattlean complains about it, saying the next quake or flotilla of Hummers will be its undoing, but no one has provided a cost-attractive way to remedy.

Oh yeah, the big health news story during my visit was that a poll of Seattleans show most think their nearly omnipresent cloud cover is protecting them from risk of skin cancer, so they spurn sun blocker  -- bad choice, of course.

Speaking of choices, I read where billionaire T. Boone Pickens has announced he'll donate $50 million to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas -- with one unusual condition. The school must turn that gift into $500 million over the next 25 years or it can't spend a dime of it.

If they can' t reach the half-billion-dollar mark, the Dallas Morning News reported, Pickens said Texas can keep the $50 million but anything raised above that must go to arch-sports-rival Oklahoma State University.

And the final word on choices, it's not like Beltway politicians and lobbyists are switching to prune juice in vast numbers, but the Wall Street Journal reports that alcohol consumption has declined. Columnist Robert Novak reportedly commented that D.C. politicians appear to be making fewer errors, but also are whole lot less animated. Maybe a new section is needed in Robert's Rules.