Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Detroit

Detroit (Photo credit: Ann Millspaugh)

 

Installment 1 on a series that affects so many and is quite sad. The PRIDE of our country now stands in shambles. If you are a GenXer or younger, you probably wouldn’t consider Detroit the Pride of America. Installment 2 will show you why this city was so great. I shared a  few bullet points (both good a bead below).

 

It is so sad to watch one of America’s greatest cities die a horrible death.  Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about.  On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge.

She ruled that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution because it would result in reduced pension payments for retired workers.  She also stated that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was “also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy“, and she ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to Barack Obama.  How “honoring the president” has anything to do with the bankruptcy of Detroit is a bit of a mystery, but what that judge has done is ensured that there will be months of legal wrangling ahead over Detroit’s money woes.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out.  But one thing is for sure – the city of Detroit is flat broke.  One of the greatest cities in the history of the world is just a shell of its former self.  The following are 25 facts about the fall of Detroit that will leave you shaking your head…

1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.

2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had thehighest per-capita income in the entire nation.

4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.

5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroitright now for $500 or less.

7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

8) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.

14) There are 70 “Superfund” hazardous waste sites in Detroit.

15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.

16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.

17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 mileson them.

18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.

19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cutby about 40 percent over the past decade.

20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higherthan the national average.

23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

Next up –  Installment 2: Detroit, The Pride of America circa 1960.

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Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall i...

Hurricane Katrina making its second landfall in Louisiana, as seen by NWS New Orleans radar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UNDERWATER FOREST

I have found ONE positive that resulted from Hurricane Katrina. Just 2 days ago, it became known that a forest was unearthed just miles off the coast of Alabama. Its located in about 60 feet of water. Its a cypress forest that is believed to be 50,000 years old.

The forest was covered in mud and silt and had been covered for thousands of years. Because it was packed so tightly, the forest was oxygen depraved and did not rot. If you click on the link “Underwater Forest” you can watch the video of divers swimming around the massive tree trunks amidst all of the wildlife.

I personally think this is awesome. Its a natural reef that is spawning a whole new ecosystem.

The sexy girl next door is beautiful, HOT!, and has the best cuisine. I’m forbidden to touch her or talk to her, but that doesn’t mean I can’t lust from this place knowing she’s only 90 miles away. It even reminds me just how close she is. Or, rubs it in that she’s so close, yet so far away.

170px-Southernmost_point_key_west

I know I have written about the Virgin Islands and professed my love for St. Croix many many times. I do love St. Croix. She’s my “steady” girl. She’s beautiful, and sweet and gentle. You know, the marrying type. I do hope to marry her in a few years and spend the rest of my life with her.

There is one problem. See this other girl lives a short distance away. And since I became fascinated with her in November of 2000 (I wont say why), I have itched to sample her goodness. Lusting would be describing it mildly. I fantasize about touching her, smelling her, tasting her, and being consumed by her for seven days straight. The problem is, as I said, she is forbidden. Why because she was in a forced marriage to a bad dude who is no longer living with her. Rules and warnings be damned. I. WILL. SEE. HER. The mystery adds to the desire for her. What’s behind those dark sunglasses? What’s under those linens?

Why do I lust so much? Here are a few reasons:

1. She is an amazing chef, offering such things as my favorite sandwich: The Cuban.

cuban sandwich

Cuban Paella. I share the Cubans’ love affair with seafood, rice, beans, and pork!

cubanporkrice

My favorite desert: Flan (lots of espresso please)

flan

Excellent coffee that is so strong it grabs you by the boo boo 🙂

coffee

The BEST cigars in the world!

imagesCAQFYFUF

2. Beautiful people, beaches, rain forests, mountains, plains, and cities. You see “old” buildings. I see an old world Spanish town that refuses to sell out to neon. She stays with light classic cottons and refuses to dress herself in overpriced soon to be outdated lace and rayon.

cuba beach cuba_havana   the-vinales-valley-in-cuba-a-famous-tourist-destination-and-a-major-tobacco-growing-area-1600x1066 0111_cuba21

So my confession is complete. My little saucy senorita sitting out there all alone, but big brother won’t let me slip over to her house 😉 Oh yeah the Carnival is much HOTTER in Cuba.

imagesCA8JQ6GD

And my favorite pastime – BASEBALL! Everyone in the world knows the Cubans corner the market on baseball talent.

cuban baseball

On one trip, I’d love to ship over (via Haiti) a big box of baseballs, bats and gloves and just hand them out on the street. So many Cuban players play this way in the streets of Havana.

baseball-old-havana_10847_600x450

I could write a whole blog on ways to get over there to see her…but I won’t.

That’s pillow talk and I’d never kiss and tell.

I woke up next to something this morning that was beautiful and blue. It inspired me to share some beautiful and blue images with you.

So here we go.

lorient

Orient Beach, St. Martin (French Side). It is a zoomed out pic because a lot of folks there are naked and this is G rated. I was on a work trip so I never got to experience L’Orient except for the drive-by view (which I couldn’t see much). Inside the Bay area, this water changes color to a very pale turquoise.

Next up: honeymoon lovango Honeymoon Beach on St. John. Its a short hike with a 250 foot downhill “stroll”, but well worth it. Named Honeymoon due to its privacy and it certainly has nothing to do with Lavango Cay across the way. Lovango (pronounced “Love and GO”) Cay is rumored to be named for its brothels many years ago. MMMM dirty pirate sex. As you can see the water changes color due to the change in depth and the color of the sand.

Staying on St. John, we have probably the most photographed beach in all of the Caribbean: TrunkBay

Trunk Bay. This is the one you see on a lot of the post cards. Isn’t it awesome? I have not actually been to this one. I was on the way then stopped into an establishment in Mongoose Junction and my friend (Adam L) convinced me it was a good idea to challenge a Rasta in a firewater drinking contest near Momma Mooies. I believe I won, which means I really lost later on the boat ride back to St. Thomas. Adam will have to fill in the details.

One you guys may have seen is this one: cinnamon bay

It is the gorgeous and sexy Cinnamon Bay. Look at the Blue and check out those curves. Cinnamon Bay has been featured on postcards, posters and even album covers like this one: Old-Blue

Kenny Chesney’s Old Blue Chair. Most of the videos he shoots around the beaches and in his boat Soul Shine are in and around Cinnamon Bay and Gorda Sound. Why was it his favorite, because he lived there in this masterpiece – for a short while anyway:

kenny house

Last I heard it was still for sale at around 8 million. Great view of the Bay.

I have to give one shout out to St. Thomas. You won’t hear me give many, because while St. Thomas is nice, I’m a Crucian which means I think all St. Thomians assume they are better’n us and the 40 miles of sea between us could be 100 for all we care. You guys would have nothing if it were not for your t-shirt shops and cruise ships. You are the Dollywood Daytona Beach Myrtle Beach of the Caribbean. Anyway, here’s Megan’s Bay. It’s beautiful enough to host homes owned by Michael Jordan and Oprah. I think its pretty but the St. Thomas traffic makes it very difficult to enjoy. megans bay stt

Now to some that are very beautiful and very dear to me. First up WEST END! Near Fredericksted you’ll find Sandy Point. If you watch the last 3 minutes of Shawshank Redemption, you’ll see Morgan Freeman walk up to a boat on this beach. (It was supposed to be Mexico). Here is Sandy Point:

Sandy Point

On Sunday Funday, a tradition in St. Croix is to hitchhike on a boat over to Buck Island, anchor out, and party until dark. Its a flotilla of fun. Here’s the beach: Buck

But here is what Buck is known for: buck-island-snorkeling-fish

It is the only underwater national park in the US. The reef is amazing.

I have two more remaining. The first, I have shared previously. It’s my favorite and holds my fondest memories of my time in St. Croix. Cane Bay:

cane bay

There are a lot of pictures on my facebook page (and Alicia’s) of this beach and a pretty girl and some friendly dogs who found there way over to our towels for some snacks and kisses.

Last one: Shoys. Oh Shoys. Where i stay is just up the hill from here. I can see it out of my bedroom window and from the pool deck. Shoys you hold a very fond memory.

It was here Shoys that the “magic” happened.

So, to the pretty blues that inspired me, here’s something to inspire you.

accept no ones defintion

Let me preface by saying, I’m not an ungrateful person. I’m thankful for my good health, the health of my family and I’m thankful for all that I have. So don’t read this and think of me as Jim Carray shouting at God saying, “Smyte me oh Mighty Smyter!” (Bruce Almighty)

Cover of "Bruce Almighty [Blu-ray]"

Cover of Bruce Almighty [Blu-ray]

However, I am not satisfied with my lot in life. And by lot I don’t mean “I’m unhappy because I don’t have a lot of things.”  I simply mean I feel that I have more potential than what I’m using and I have more utility in my next 30 years than I had in the previous 35. I feel now is the time to make a move.

Only a few (ok, so maybe its 1 or 2 people before this post) know that I’m so tired of the field I’m in. I’m tired of the travel, tired of the type of things I have been asked to do, and tired of the “office.” I have said many times that if I could make what I make now in salary by swinging a hammer, I’d jump at it in a heartbeat. I’m tired of the ladders and especially those that run into a ceiling. I’m tired of the bullshit procedures that no one ever seems to follow and tired of those that refuse to enforce them. Especially, since they assisted in writing them in the first place. Note: My “wanting more” in this instance has nothing to do with money, although more would be nice.  The point here is its time to do something different, or in the very least, get the balls rolling.

No matter how hard I try, I’m never satisfied with myself. I live in a world of shouldas who co-mingle with couldas. This is me at some point on most days.

disaapoint yourself

My life is not a depressed state of being. I am happy with most things. As I said, I simply feel my potential is bottled right now.

For example, I’d much rather be assisting the Red Cross in Africa or Haiti, or constructing a school or hospital, than “pushing paper.” I’d rather be teaching English and Economics in Mexico than doing what it is I do. There are so many charities I wish I could support.

Last summer, I didn’t work in an office for two weeks. I worked for my father’s landscaping company. It. Was. AWESOME. I cut and chopped, planted, fertilized, sprayed and watered and at the end of each job, I could look out and SEE what I had done. As a guy, this accomplishment was very rewarding. The view is my pat on the back to myself. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say I need affirmation even if it only comes from me.

This guy has it:

pat on the back

So for my next 30 years, I’m going to work on improving my lot. And hopefully earn a few more pats along the way.

“Art is a jealous mistress; and if a man have a genius for painting, poetry, music, architecture or philosophy, he makes a bad husband and an ill provider.” Emerson, Ralph Waldo.