Archive for the ‘Life in the Big City’ category

They’re jumping out of windows again

January 30, 2009

The suicides have begun. But with a modern, 21st century difference.

In 1929-30 businessmen who lost everything in the stock market crash were jumping out of windows to their deaths. Maybe back then, every family didn’t stockpile guns. Today it’s different. The murder/suicide of a family of 4 in Ohio whose mother and father had both lost their jobs. The murder/suicide of a family of 7 in LA who were awash in dept. All shot.

Back in the depression, broke businessmen just killed themselves. Today they take the whole family with them.

Progress in America.


Crime in the Streets – 2007 Edition

September 18, 2008

Well, It’s that time of the year again. The FBI has just come out with the crime stats for 2007. I always like to take a look at these numbers and compare them to that little place that I live called Singapore. For this, I have selected those US states that have roughly the same population, though less, than Singapore. I have also included Los Angeles, whose population is also about the same. Lets see what’s new!

Murder Rape Robbery Assault Population
Minnesota 116 1,873 4,770 8,244 3,781,574
Los Angeles 395 1004 13,481 12,926 3,870,487
Wisconsin 183 1,223 5,474 9,416 4,053,659
Colorado 153 1,998 3,453 11,302 4,187,300
Missouri 385 1,714 7,165 20,418 4,306,270
Tennessee 397 2,174 11,022 32,787 4,485,971
Singapore 18 72 1,025 2,800 4,588,009

It looks like killin’ is still real popular in LA though they’re not raping so much, which I guess is good news. Those folks in Missouri and Tennessee love to beat other people up and dang, lots of women seem to be gettin’ poked against their will in Colorado of all places. Minnesota, a chilly but friendly place, seems pretty safe, unless having nearly 2,000 women raped makes you a wee bit queasy.

Singapore, with a larger population than any of them, had 18 murders but hey, they only solved 17 of them and I bet those 72 women who got raped don’t think it’s so safe here. It’s safer now ofcourse, because those murderers and rapists here won’t be doing it again. Ever. They’re……gone.

The rapists and murderers in the US, on the other hand, will most likely be out practicing their trade again one day. Sure hope they don’t find you.

Trekking in Singapore – The Singapore Flyer

August 25, 2008

I finally got a chance to check out the Singapore Flyer which, at 165 meters tall (536 feet) is the tallest ferris wheel in the world. One revolution takes 30 minutes and that’s how long the ride is. The wheel goes slow and it never stops. You board while it moves through the boarding area. Normal cost is $29.50 Sing dollars and $23.50 for seniors over 60. I should have waited another 5 months.

I went as part of a city tour package that included a boat tour on the Singapore river, the Flyer ride, and lunch at a hotel afterwards. We travelled by tour bus and our first stop was the river.

This shows the boarding area along Clark Quay. It’s a clean river lined with outdoor restaurants, pubs and shops.

The boat enters the harbor and passes the Singapore mascot, The Merlion, with the 5 star Fullerton Hotel in the background.

Behind the Fullerton is the main financial district skyline.

At the mouth of the harbor is the flyer. In the foreground you can see the bleachers for the floating stage, again, the largest of its kind in the world.

Under the loading area at the base of the flyer is a beatifully landscaped waterfall and jungle area complete with Koi pond and lush tropical plants.

Also just below the Flyer they are building the pit and grandstand area for the Formula 1 track. Singapore will host its first F1 race next year.

This shot looks out over the adjacent golf course to the main shipping lane where cargo vessels wait to enter the main port for loading and unloading. Singapore and Hong Kong switch back and forth as the busiest cargo ports on the planet.

From higher up I could see the area where the race cars will enter the pits from the main racetrack. As you can see, the entrance is right after a sharp left turn. The cars will be travelling from right to left in this area.

This car was next to us and I took this shot as it reached the very top of the journey. Each car can fit 28 people but we only had about a dozen in ours.

This area under construction is where the new Integrated Resort and Casino is being built. It will include a 3000 room hotel, casinos, shops, parks and a lush garden on top from which there will be a spectacular 360 degree view. In the background is the port.

Here you can see the floating stage, currently being covered with a full sized soccer field for an upcoming event. The two round structures beyond that is the Esplanade Fina Arts theater where major concerts and shows are held.

I took this shot as we were coming back into the boarding area. On the left is a model of the resort hotel and on the right is the actual city. The scale model of the resort was only about 12 feet tall but it looks as though its the same size as the city skyscrapers in the background.

Finally, this is what it’s gonna look like once the track is completed. I can’t wait.

We can all learn something from this story

August 23, 2008

I’m not sure what, but it says a lot about kindness, selflessness and an instinctual drive to help others. Whole story here.

An eight-year-old dog has touched the hearts of Argentines by saving the life of an abandoned baby, placing the girl safely alongside her own new puppies.

The 14 year old mother is said to have panicked and abandoned the baby in a field, surrounded by wooden boxes and rubbish.

Then along came La China, the dog which somehow picked up the baby and carried her 50m to place him alongside her own puppies.

The dog’s owner heard the child crying and found her covered with a rag.

So the dog not only protected this helpless baby, it covered the baby up with a rag. I’m thinking about the hundreds of thousands of veterans who are homeless and are left to fend for themselves on the cold hard streets of US cities every night, but I’m not going to mention it here. It might sound trite.

Doing what comes naturally

July 31, 2008

I haven’t posted in nearly a week because I’ve been so busy at my new job. I got to thinking about it last night and realized that this is perhaps the hardest job I’ve ever had – and the one I love the most.

I spent about 30 years selling things. Stuff. And most of the stuff I sold is stuff that people really don’t need. I guess I got into selling stuff because it’s easy to get into. If you’re good at it, you can make a decent living at it. I was good at it, but I always hated it. Talking about this product or that, making it sound as if you simply cannot live without it. Most of it crap that I either would never buy myself or couldn’t afford.

I use to tell myself that I liked it because I got to be outside, driving around instead of stuck in an office somewhere. I did have a lot of freedom that way. But at the end of the day I was stressed out and miserable.

Once you start in a job like that, it’s hard to get out of it. My resume became longer but all the positions were in sales so that was all I was qualified to look for. Even when I moved to Singapore the only job I could find was in sales. And I just hated it more and more.

Then I got incredibly lucky. Because I was in Asia and because I was a white American I was offered a job teaching English. I still don’t know how my name came up considering that I have absolutely no experience teaching English or anything else for that matter.

Teaching in a classroom is hard work. It’s a performance and you must be on your game all the time. I think that’s true for any good teacher. Additionally, my students are all beginners from foreign countries whose proficiency is limited at best. It’s hard and I love it. I’m nearly 60 and finally am doing something satisfying that I like to do. I waited way to damn long.

The moral of this story is, don’t wait. If your a parent, encourage your kids to seek out what they love and follow a path that leads in it’s direction. If your a student, do the same. Don’t wait until you’re 60. You may not be as lucky as me.

Just one more thing to worry about

June 27, 2008

Being the gluttonous and greedy consumers of everything luxurious that we are, it took a press release from Haagen Dazs Ice Cream to bring this potential disaster to the news media. I’m talking about what that company and others are calling the shocking and dangerous decline of honey bees.

Honey bees mysteriously began to abandon their colonies in 2006, destroying about a third of U.S. hives. The rate of decline is accelerating, reaching 36 percent last winter.

90% of plant life on our planet depends on pollination for survival and honey bees are the single biggest vehicle to make that happen. Bumble bees, moths, butterflies and even bats also contribute to the process and are also declining in astounding numbers. But as the honey bees disappear and fields begin to disappear with them, food prices are expected to soar.

Fruits, nuts, seeds and many vegetables are the foundation of California’s $34 billion agricultural industry, the nation’s largest, and the basis of a healthy human diet. About a third of human food requires pollination. The plants cannot grow without it.

While scientists have not yet proven the reasons for the problem, research so far has shown what one might expect. Reduced habitat and pesticides, even non-lethal pesticides seem to be the culprits.

…one study of 108 pollen samples revealed 46 pesticides, as many as 17 different pesticides in a single sample. Only three of the samples showed no pesticide residue.

There are 660,000 acres of just almond trees in California’s San Joaquin Valley and this massive area of a single crop is also making the situation worse. Seems that the bees, etc. need a more diverse diet to keep them around.

Visalia beekeeper Steve Godlin said 1.3 million honeybee hives are trucked in each spring from around the country to pollinate the California almond crop, which is fast replacing cotton in the Valley. The collapse of honeybee hives and the enormous demand for almond pollination has sent its price soaring.

Surveys have shown that half of the American people aren’t even aware that there is a problem. No surprise there. It’s not exactly a sexy news story. But it’s a real threat to farmers and ultimately to consumers. While comparatively rich Americans will be able to absorb the rising prices, at least in the short term, poorer nations that depend on California and other areas for their fresh fruits and vegetables may be priced right out of the market. Read the whole article for some tips on what you can do to help.

Um, is it just me or….

June 19, 2008

Is this just a little too creepy.

Six human feet, each wearing a sports shoe, have washed up on Canadian shores since last August.

The feet have all been found on islands in the Strait of Georgia, off Vancouver, near the mouth of the Fraser River. The first foot was found last August by a girl playing on a remote beach on Jedidah Island, who picked up the size 12 white training shoes and undid the laces to check inside.

Six days later, a woman hiking on nearby Gabriola Island came upon another size 12 training shoe — also a right foot. Two more right feet were found on February 8 on Valdes Island and on May 22 on Kirkland Island.

The first left foot was recovered on Monday on nearby Westham Island when two people out walking their dog pulled a shoe from the water.

The sixth foot was found on a beach in Vancouver Island inside a size 10 black Adidas shoe yesterday morning.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, seeking to allay fears of a serial killer, says there is no evidence the feet were cut off.

That begs the question, if they weren’t cut off, what animal is eating everything else but the feet? And why does this animal seem to prefer the left feet? Except once, when it was…what…extra hungry? The answer to that is extra crispy…er…creepy.

Bodies come apart at the joints when submerged in water for some time, and flesh begins to change into adipocere tissue, a soap-like substance sometimes called “grave wax” that crabs and microbes will eat, experts say.

If I can stomach it, I will follow up and let you know who these well apparelled feet belong to. Yuck.