Thursday, June 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As a former resident of the Washington, D.C., area I did the commute thing — for four years. I recall these days each time I visit.

It took me about 45 minutes to get to work, and at least 45 minutes to get home. The Washington Post home/style sections last Saturday carried a piece about a house for sale in a trendy neighborhood. One of the selling points: you could sit on the patio and watch people snarled in traffic on a nearby bridge.

Now, I can get from Rolling Hills here in Carroll to the Daily Times Herald in less than five minutes. I call it a “one-song commute” because very often the song playing on the radio as I pull out of the driveway is still playing as I park at work.

That means I have about 80 minutes more each day — or 400 minutes more a week — or 1,600 minutes more a month or 20,000 more minutes a year.

That’s 333 hours each year that I get back by living in a place where I don’t have to commute.

That’s eight weeks of work at 40 hours per week.

That’s astounding. Why aren’t more employers locating their offices here? Computers and phones work as well in Iowa as they do in New York City.

Our recruiting motto could be: “Move to rural Iowa: We give you eight more weeks of work.”

There are advantages in one’s personal life as well.

Since I’m not commuting, I can watch 166 more movies each year.

I can read a lot more books.

Let’s see, if I read at the very reasonable pace of 30 pages per hour, I can read 20 500-page books in a year instead of sitting in traffic.

Those would be good books.

Throw in some paperback fiction and that increases dramatically.

Think about how smart your kids would be if you had an extra 80 minutes to read to them and talk to them each and every day of the week.

What about exercise?

Instead of spending that time inching along in traffic or standing next to someone with a bad cough on the subway like they do in the cities, I can run 6 miles a day at the leisurely pace of 11 minutes a mile — and then have 14 minutes to do some sit-ups and pull-ups.

And who says that all this time has to be spent efficiently and wisely?

Some people could look at that 80 minutes a day as an opportunity to watch more basketball and football on television or eat more pizza or drink more beer.

I couldn’t understand any of that, though.

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Top Iowa Republicans tell Taking Note they think U.S. Sen, Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is the likely selection as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. For the past two years Taking Note has speculated that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., should be considered the favorite. Rubio is in the running, and with Romney trailing the president 61 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic voters nationally, the path for Rubio is clear. But Portman appears the steadier hand — and is less likely to show up Romney with glitz or distract with gaffe.

Portman, in addition to serving in the House and Senate, was White House associate counsel and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs in the first Bush administration. Under President George W. Bush, Portman served as U.S. trade representative and director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The British oddsmaker Ladbrokes on Monday had Portman leading the pack of prospective GOP VP selections at 9 to 4. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty followed at 3 to 1. Rubio stood at 5 to 1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in at 16 to 1. Others: Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, 8 to 1; and U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., 16 to 1.

In the national general election President Obama remains the favorite with Ladbrokes at 8 to 13. Romney is 5 to 4.

Ladbrokes also posts state-by-state odds. The bookmaker has Iowa leaning for Obama in the general election at odds of 4 to 7. The GOP candidate (presumed to be Romney) has odds of 5 to 4 of winning Iowa in the general election.