2 years ago

2 years ago, December 14’th. I was heading for the most incredible vacation in the US. I remember each day like it was yesterday. 3 days in NYC at Christmas time, the Rockefeller Christmas tree, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor “dressed” for the occasion, the Christmas lights tour on a double decker bus, that cold that I felt in my knees for a week…

Then FloridaWest Palm Beach and dear friends, malls all day long, Miami and that incredible view, the Star Island, Fort Lauderdale and those big boats for those rather small canals, Boca Raton and the beautiful hotel, Florida’s Hollywood, NASA, Epcot.

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Tropicana Juice

This brand among many others reminds me of America. There was hardly a morning without the Tropicana Orange Juice.
100% Orange Pure & Natural… that’s how it is promoted and it sure feels like it.
It is made with fresh oranges, there are no water, sugar or preservatives added.

To make the best juice, Tropicana works with some of Florida’s most established groves. Tropica is the largest single buyer of Florida fruit. They are making sure they pick the fruit at the perfect time.

The orange oil is extracted from the peel to capture the from-the-orange taste and aromas which are later carefully blended into the juice for consistent quality and flavor.
Oranges have a limited growing season, and because there is demand for juice year round, an unspecified quantity of juice (some or potentially all) is deaerated and then stored for future packaging in chilled tanks to preserve quality. The aseptic tanks protect the juice from oxygen and light and hold the liquid at optimal temperatures just above freezing to maintain nutrition. It has been reported that deaerated juice no longer tastes like oranges, and must be supplemented with flavor packs derived from orange oils before consumption. Tropicana also uses small quantities of high-quality orange juice from Brazil to supplement the Florida crop.

Florida Exodus: Rising Taxes Drive Out Residents

Sunshine State is experiencing its first net emigration of people since World War II.
A few years ago, journalists – citing the chasm between Miami’s high cost of living and its low level of income – began predicting that South Florida and its perpetual population-growth machine would soon face the unthinkable: a falling head count. Now it’s official. The region – Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties – lost 27,400 residents between 2008 and 2009, while Florida as a whole lost 58,000. That’s not exactly a mass exodus for a state of 18 million; but it’s the first net outflow in 63 years for a state that considers itself the new California. “It’s difficult for the working middle class to justify living here,” Mike Jones, president of the Palm Beach County Economic Council, conceded to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “As much as they may love the sunshine, as you squeeze them out, they may find it in their best interests to move.”

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Doctor fired over ‘doughnuts equal death’ sign

Dr. Jason Newsom railed against burgers, french fries, fried chicken and sweet tea in his campaign to promote better eating in a part of the country known as the Redneck Riviera.

A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside:

“Sweet Tea (equals) Liquid Sugar.”

“Hamburger (equals) Spare Tire.”

“French Fries (equals) Thunder Thighs.”

He also called out KFC by name to make people think twice about fried chicken.

Then he parodied “America Runs on Dunkin’,” the doughnut chain’s slogan, with: “America Dies on Dunkin’.”

Some power players in the Gulf Coast tourist town decided they had had their fill.

A county commissioner who owns a doughnut shop and two lawyers who own a new Dunkin’ Donuts on Panama City Beach turned against him, along with some of his own employees, Newsom says. After the lawyers threatened to sue, his bosses at the Florida Health Department made him remove the anti-fried dough rants and eventually forced him to resign.

“I picked on doughnuts because those things are ubiquitous in this county. Everywhere I went, there were two dozen doughnuts on the back table. At church, there were always doughnuts on the back table at Sunday school. It is social expectation thing,” says Newsom, a lean 6-foot, 167-pounder in a county where 39 percent of all adults were overweight in 2007 and one in four was considered obese.

Newsom was hired by the state Health Department to direct the county agency. His $140,000-a-year salary is paid jointly by the state and the county. His job primarily involves educating the public about health issues — swine flu, AIDS and the like — but he also decided to address the dangers of glazed, sprinkled and jelly-filled treats.

He angered staff members by barring doughnuts from department meetings and announcing he would throw the fat-laden sweets away if he saw them in the break room. He also banned candy bars in the vending machines, putting in peanuts instead.

In May, lawyers Bo Rivard and Michael Duncan, co-owners of a new Dunkin’ Donuts, asked Newsom to take down the “America Dies on Dunkin'” message. Newsom already had run other anti-doughnut warnings, including “Doughnuts (equals) Diabetes,” and “Dunkin’ Donuts (equals) Death.”

He chose to resign May 8 but has reapplied for the job.

“I have never been known for my subtlety. I don’t have a knack for it. I speak the truth to people and just assume that that my data and purpose are so real and true that everyone will see the value of what I’m doing,” says Newsom, who now works at a prison, doing exams of inmates.

Dunkin’ Donuts is pleased that the signs have been removed.

Newsom is hoping to get his job back so that he can resume his campaign against overeating.

“My method was a little provocative and controversial,” he says, “but there wasn’t a person in Bay County who wasn’t talking about health and healthy eating.”

Doughnut Wars

Marley & Me

One of my favorite locations, Florida and my favorite dog breed, Labrador and a “dramedy” Marley & Me.
It’s not only about Marley, it’s about family and about love in spite of difficulty. It kind of made me want a family of my own, including a Labrador.
Saying good-bye to Marley is excruciating, although I cannot relate. I never had a dog.
Some say it is better not having pets as you suffer too much when they are gone.
Some others would not imagine their life without their pet.
I think the experience is worthwhile.

Statue of Liberty reopened

The pursuit of happiness once more includes ascension to the crown of America’s most enduring, most inspiring symbol of freedom.
The first visitors allowed into the Statue of Liberty’s crown in nearly eight years made the arduous climb Saturday on an Independence Day journey laden with symbolism of freedom, national pride — and for one couple, romance.
The statue was closed to the public after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The base, pedestal and outdoor observation deck were reopened in 2004, but the crown remained off-limits.
The National Park Service says the crown remained closed because the narrow, double-helix staircases could not be safely evacuated in an emergency and didn’t comply with fire and building codes.
Tourists often suffered heat exhaustion, shortness of breath, panic attacks, claustrophobia and fear of heights.
New handrails have since been installed to help with the climb, and only 30 people per hour are allowed up the dark, narrow staircase.

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Also in the news, the Walt Disney World monorail crash. Two monorail trains crashed early Sunday morning in the Magic Kingdom section of Walt Disney World, killing one train’s operator.
Disney said it was the first fatal crash in the monorail’s 38-year history in the park.
The transit system, which shuttles thousands of visitors around the sprawling resort each day, was shut down while authorities investigated the holiday weekend wreck. It is unclear what caused the crash.

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Palm Beach Mall in danger

Yesterday I read something about America’s most endangered malls. Among them, the first mall I visited in Florida and the US, as a matter of fact. Palm Beach Mall.

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A year ago, the plan was to renovate this fading 42-year-old property. But that changed with the recession. Anchor tenants Dillard’s and Macy’s bolted within the last year, and in April, the mall’s owners defaulted on a big bank payment, triggering a foreclosure lawsuit that could force the sale of the property. The power company even threatened to shut off the mall’s electricity, but the bill was paid at the last minute. While remaining tenants like Sears and JC Penney await the outcome of litigation, other nearby malls are adding space and gaining customers.

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