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Top 10 underrated U.S. cities

First, articles like this are annoying because they start with the supposition that NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. are the bomb for life, work and the pursuit of happiness and EVERYONE knows that.

Many cities, towns and villi ages in the U.S. are great places to live. And most are overlooked by the flyover crowd in the media.

It is a shame that anyone has such a haughty attitude because there are many wonderful places to live and work in the U.S.

The other problem I have with this article is one measure of a city's success is measured by the author.

Accolades are given based upon the artistic and cultural activities in a particular city...

..And further praise is heaped upon city leaders who have completed massive public works projects like a waterfront or downtown area restoration.

What they leave out are the real reasons why people move to another city.

If I were marketing a city like myself, I would promote compelling examples which would induce people (and companies) to relocate to my city.

For instance..

- Job base. What sorts of industries and jobs are available in a city. Is everything based upon a single industry or employer? Automotive (Detroit) or government (Washington D.C.), for instance. Diversification of jobs is good.

- Now, how stable is the job base? How long have key industries and employers been in an area? Are there new jobs and opportunities? How many are private based versus public works opportunities? Is there a chance that one or more key industries will be relocating to other cities, regions or countries?

- What is the real cost of living? Is the average wage for a family of four sufficient for good housing, taxes, utilities, etc? Or will the average wage be adequate if a 45 minute morning commute to work is included?

- Explain the tax burden to a private citizen. What are the City, State and County taxes. What are the fees for automobiles, water, trash, and various licensing?

- What percentage of the population is employed? How many are seasonally employed? What is the current unemployment rate?

- What is the ethnicity of a particular city? This matters more than people want to admit. If I was a an Orthodox Jew, a Sikh, or Buddhist, would there be a community for me? Would I be able to find the culture, religion and staples I require for daily life?

- What is the crime rate? What type of crimes are most reported? What is the city's plan and policy on reducing and preventing crime?

- Tell me about the schools. Not just the government sanctioned schools, but the private and parochial options as well. Are there viable options?

- Give me a breakdown of the neighborhoods. Where is the growth? What are the popular areas right now? Tell me about the hot neighborhoods. Tell me where the families live, the singles, the retired.. Also, tell me about the cruddy neighborhoods, the neighborhoods in transition and the steps being taken to reclaim and improve these areas.

- Who cares about the "Big Project" a city government has completed; tell me about the dozens of small projects.

All too often the focus is on the new stadium downtown or a new arts center. Most citizens "may" use these benefits once a year. Rather tell me about the little victories which make a city livable.

For instance, I read once was about the revitalization of Texas City on the Gulf Coast of Texas outside Houston. This oil refinery town was turned into a top U.S. city by through hundreds of small projects like removing graffiti, replacing broken windows in homes and storefronts, building soccer fields and planting trees downtown.

Writers of the articles above love to harp about the new urban experiences and distractions found in the "other" cities of America. But most of us care more about where we will work and how our families will live. I would love to see a story along those lines someday.

But perhaps that is too boring of a topic for the press to consider.

Airline power management

So you just boarded your flight and plan on getting some work done on the old computer. Uh-oh, your laptop battery is just about dead! What to do?

Not a problem on some flights.

Look for a lightning symbol on the bulkhead just below the overhead luggage bin. That means there is an electrical outlet in the row of seats below.

Look underneath the middle seat (ask your seat mates if they mind; people have a problem with others reaching beneath their feet unannounced).

Under the seat there should be an outlet like one found in your automobile (in the old days, they were called cigarette lighters, but now they are known as power outlets).

You will need a power adapter which will plug into the plane power outlet and provide your computer or cell phone with a standard AC outlet. I found a neat one on Amazon which works quite well. this product

Now your computer, cell phone and laptop can all be charging in flight while you work. Pretty neat.

Remember to not leave your adapter or power cable behind on the plane!


Airline internet, freeters

First, it has been a bit since my last post. I have several in draft form, but none posted because of time, travel and work.

Airline Internet -
I was on a flight this week which was 3 hours 20 minutes each way. Further, we sat on the ground (common these days) for a total of 1 hour 30 minutes waiting to take off. This is a grand total of 8 hours and 10 minutes (a working day) which could have been spent doing something far more productive than reviewing PDF files, editing power point presentations and reading the airline magazine.

I want Internet access on commercial airlines tomorrow.

Top things I want to do with commercial airline Internet:
- Catch up on email. All of it; work, GMail, Yahoo, etc.
- Register and manage domains. Every time I come across a neat name and idea, I cannot register it until I hit the airport. Very frustrating.
- Work on websites. No phones, so a great time to get some web work done online.
- Blog and manage blog postings.
- Catch up on favorite, yet ignored blogs and websites.

This is 2007. Why can't we have this service today?

Freeters -

Have you heard of this? Freeters (combination of Free and Arbeiter - Deutch for work) are a Japanese phenomenon coming to a town near you.

Apparently, there is a trend among young people, called freeters, in Japan to work sporadically or at contract jobs and live, literally live, in Internet cafes. Yes, freeters sleep and eat in these places when not at work or doing other socializing.

Seems there are several Japanese internet cafes which cater to freeters. These cafes provide semi-private cubicles with recliners to sleep in, showers, and clothes hangars for a few dollars a night.

Although social activists in Japan are decrying the freeter situation, they seem to be missing the point. Many of these young freeters are living this life by choice (according to what I have read).

Rather than living the traditional business life of long hours and company loyalty expected in Japan, freeters choose to work part time when they please. Yes, there is a high cost of living in Japan and long commute times which many freeters cite as reasons for their living situation, but the key reason is that freeters drop out on purpose.

I expect we will see a version of this soon in the U.S., perhaps in some of the more costly cities like San Francisco, Boston or New York.

What do you think?
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