A few favorite cities

What are your favorite cities to visit? Through business and pleasure, I have had the opportunity to visit some wonderful places. There is so much more I would like to see, so I would love to hear from you. Here are my list of top ten places, with a few others noted at the bottom. By omission, you will likely guess where I have not been, as some choices would be obvious inclusions.

  • San Francisco – a city worth the travel and cost. It is so scenic and quaint, plus it offers access to wine country, Muir Woods and the Monterey coast.
  • Montreal – a city which offers a blend of French and English cultures and beautiful scenery. It is a great walking city and has wonderfully designed churches. Check it out during the Jazz Festival in the summer.
  • New Orleans – a vibrant, eclectic place with great music and food. Avoid the hot summer if you can, but do go. Also, indulge a tour to the Bayou to get a sense of the geography and fragility of the place.
  • London – a favorite city because of the cosmopolitan culture. It is a great walking city with numerous parks, pubs and historical places. Take in the theater while there, as well. Plus, it is a great launching pad for a journeys to France, Ireland, Scandinavia, etc.
  • Dublin – another great walking city, but ladies beware of heels on some of the cobblestone streets in Old Dublin. Much to see there in terms of history, pubs, etc., plus it is great place to view the rest of Ireland from.
  • New York – a must see for all, but you have to expect crowds. Also, a great walking city and there is so much to offer in theater, restaurants, shopping and sports.
  • Washington – I think this city is highly underrated as a place to visit, as there is so much to see and do. I always feel worn out from walking, but there is so much more to see and appreciate from the memorials to the museums to the zoo and restaurants.
  • Chicago – I have only been on business, but I love Chicago. It has a vibrance to it and is not as crowded as New York. Plus, the vistas of the lake are wonderful. It is a great place to fly into for a few days. Check out Lawry’s and Second City.
  • Toronto – Is a lot like Chicago with its lake venue. I wish I could have spent more time there, but it is not inexpensive. There are many things to do in close proximity be it the aquarium, Skydome, Second City, restaurants, sports, etc.
  • Cannes – I was able to go to a business conference here and what a trip. It is beautiful and has so much to offer in food (the right way over lengthy meals), shopping and casinos, if that is your cup of tea. My best memory is our group having dinner up in the hills overlooking the city and the meal lasting over three hours, leading to wonderful conversations.

Other cities I would give high marks to are Boston, Savannah, Charleston, Ottawa, Miami and Seattle. I would love to tour the northwest and check out Vancouver and set off for Paris, Florence, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Sydney, Hong Kong, etc.

Let me know some of your favorites. Or, please reinforce or share concerns of some of those above.

Some good news for the holidays

Billy Joel’s song “We didn’t start the fire” is an accurate reference that problems exist in the world and always have. I think the key difference is with the Internet and social media age we live in, you can find bad news anywhere in the world. It even slams you in the face if your browser opens up to the news of the day. But, it is not any worse than it has been before. I don’t know if that gives people greater or less comfort. To me, the worse issue is the amount of money it takes to get elected makes politicians beholden to funders and not the issues that face their constituents. So, real issues are not addressed in the way they should be.

However, in this time of bad news first, or per my friend Barney’s favorite quote about the press, “if it bleeds, it leads,” there are a few bright spots, even in the darkest stories.

  • The state of New York has banned fracking in their state due to a report that brings into the equation the health risks that fracking poses for its residents. This caught even anti-fracking advocates by surprise with the report noting there is a correlation between health risks and fracking and it warrants further study under the Precautionary Principle, which scientists around the world uphold. This principle states if there appears to be a risk to humans or the environment which impacts humans due to a process, then the group who benefits from the process needs to convince others that it is safe before proceeding.
  • The number of uninsured folks without healthcare coverage has dropped significantly per the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation from 17.7% to 12.4% as of September 30, 2014. With the huge enrollment success underway with the Affordable Care Act, with over 2.5 million new enrollees as of December 13, this uninsured rate will drop further. This helps people and the economy as it keeps more folks from becoming a train wreck through preventive services and medications, lessens the risk of bankruptcy due to medical reasons and gives them more money to spend. And, the healthcare costs increases are moderating due in part to the Affordable Care Act per multiple sources.
  • While the war on Ebola is far from won, significant progress has been made to the extent people can get a breath of air. Also, with candidates not in election mode spreading fear about Ebola risks, it is less center stage in the US. While it is still a real threat in those countries where it started, there seems to be more concerted efforts and positive stories in the battle to contain the virus. Time Magazine hit a home run with its recognition of the Ebola Fighters as the persons of the year in 2014.
  • Beneath the bad news on ISIS and the Taliban attack that killed the children in Pakistan, the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds are beginning to see who the real danger is to their existence. It is not the US and western allies with all of our imperfections. It is extremists who take advantage of economic strife and blame others for their problems. Killing children glorifies no one. Killing women glorifies no one. Killing people who disagree with you means you fear your argument cannot stand up to debate. The counter balancing problem is the corruption in the leadership. When leaders pocket money for aid, permit bribery to be standard operating practice, and squelch dissent, then they also are as guilty for sowing the seeds of disenfranchisement.
  • For all the crap the President is taking for immigration actions and the recent action on normalizing relations with Cuba, the moves are supported by many including the US Chamber of Commerce and will enhance trade, facilitate the retention of intellectual capital and let the economy be the best goodwill ambassador. Even during the Jim Crow era, economic trade benefitted all and normalized relations to a certain extent. The economic goodwill set the stage for civil right changes. So, if we can leverage what has been done and pass supportive bills to both, getting beyond the “gotcha politics,” then these efforts can be made even more significant.

Some people may not agree with my conclusions, but I see the above as positive developments, even though some of the good news has been instigated at a horrible cost. To me, we must honor those who have died to make sure that others do not die in vain, especially our children and women who are maltreated in far too many places.

Happy holidays to all. And, bless the women and children in the world. They need our support.