THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 179

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 179

…“Could you stand having another woman in my life?” Roy is curious…

Jealousy the Other Woman by Harry Weisburd

Francine and Roy discuss his choices for VEEP.

“Exactly! I would sooner worry about a Canadian civil war than be undermined by my vice-president.” He is sitting back in the front seat of his “Crippen For You 2032” tour bus on its way up I-94 to Milwaukee Wisconsin, watching the NBC Nightly News coverage of the campaign in totality out of one eye.

After hashing and rehashing the debate over whom Roy Crippen should choose for his running mate, the stately and authoritative {when was the last time you heard a woman referred to as that?} Savannah Guthrie makes mention of the upcoming memorial service planned in Houston for Sampson and Celeste McKinney and it made him think, “What do you think Charlotte Walker is doing for the next eight years?”

Firebrand

“What… the governor of Wisconsin? She is a firebrand, I’ll give her that, with a political bloodline that leads back to the union busting days of her daddy; none too popular among the Democratic old-guard.”

“Everyone I would want with me in power is either attached to the Space Program {Rick Stanley or Braden King} or I am married to {you}. Now look at Sampson and Celeste, they are an example of what two people, with divergent personalities, can accomplish when tied together for an extended period of time.”

“If you are serious, you better talk to her in person.”

“Could you stand having another woman in my life?” he is curious.

“Why not, she is happily married to a stay-at-home househusband who takes care of the kids, from what I remember hearing.”

“Do you know why she wasn’t at the Chicago speech? Of course you don’t. She was in the Nicolet National Forest hunting white-tailed deer.”

No bull!? Is she going to be in Milwaukee?”

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THE RETURN TRIP

Wisconsin State Seal | by PhotoArtMarie

Episode 179

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World Urban Extremes – WIF Geography

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Most Extreme Cities

in the World

As of 2008, for the first time in human history about as many people live in urban areas as suburban or rural ones. That means there are a lot of people who think that they deal with greater levels of traffic, more crime, more overcrowding, and higher costs of living than residents of places they consider barely populated backwaters.

 Well, those urbanites have something to consider: They live with country bumpkin-levels of those problems compared to the denizens of the following cities. Depending on the city in question, that makes them much more fortunate, or unfortunate, than the occupants probably realize.
Now, it’s important to remember, when we say “extreme” we don’t mean these are places where you should grab a Mountain Dew and a snowboard, bruh. These 10 cities, instead, exist at the extreme edge of various spectrums. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

10. Largest Population

This is one of the more contentious records as far as cities of the world go, since during rush hour or big events they can all feel like they’ve got the most people in them. Some of the most populous cities in developing nations have very outdated, underfunded bureaucracies which can make an accurate census report difficult to acquire. This is especially true for two of the leading contenders, Jakarta, Indonesia and Delhi, India. But even the highest estimates put them at the city the World Atlasclaims is the world champion: Tokyo, Japan.

As of November 2016, Tokyo’s population was reported to be roughly 37,830,000 residents. To put that very large number in perspective, the population of Japan is reported by the CIA to be roughly 127,000,000 people. More than a quarter of the island nation’s population is located in one urban area. And yet, it’s by no means the largest city or the most crowded.

9. Largest Land Area

In July 2016, Guardian magazine said that urban areas were expected to triple in size over the next forty years. That’s also probably how long it will take any of the fastest growing cities to overtake the current largest urban area in the world. The champion city in that regard is unquestionably New York City, New York, with a metro area of 8,683 square kilometers (or 5,395 square miles if you’re going to use the imperial system like a true American).

It’s over 1,700 square kilometers more than Tokyo, the next largest urban area. It’s also nearly as large as the entire state of Connecticut (5,543 square miles). As it happens, growth in New York City has been slowing as recently as 2016. So it’s not out of the question for the little joke from the start of this entry that some other city will overtake it in the coming decades will have some truth to it.

8. Most Densely Populated City

As heavily populated and vast as New York and Tokyo are, they’re not even close to the most crowded, even if stories of people having to pay hundreds of dollars to live in closets might give that impression. After all, they are cities with large numbers of wealthy inhabitants who can afford decently-sized apartments and houses  No, you have to go to the developing world to find places where people truly have no elbow room. Not even to a notoriously crowded city like Hong Kong. It’s one which many people in the Western Hemisphere haven’t even heard of, let alone a famous city.It’s Dhaka, the largest metropolis in Bangladesh.

At 16,235,000, its population is roughly a million less than that of the New York Metro area, but it’s less than 125 square miles in size. There are more than 110,000 people per square mile, and considering that the Telegraph reported that it was rated the second least livable city in the world, the housing is overwhelmingly slums. Unfortunately for many of the people who already live there, it’s only going to get worse in the immediate future because it’s also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

7. Most Expensive City

The average person on the street would probably guess that the answer is New York City again, considering it’s a city where a single riverside house can go for as much as $130 million. But we live in a rapidly changing world, so we have to look across the Pacific once again to find the real ‘winner’. As of 2014, that honor swung over to Singapore, particularly due to the rising cost of utilities, food (11% higher than New York City), clothing (50% higher than New York City), and vehicular ownership. Not owning a car won’t save you that much: Singapore’s other transportation methods are three times more expensive than NYC’s.

This dubiously desirable record was still held as of 2016, though it’s been so volatile that it dropped and rose 10% during the time in between. With that in mind, such a volatile economic status means that a bust that leaves it one of the cheaper cities to live in might be around the corner.

6. Healthiest City

It’s time for us to look at an unambiguously positive record for a city to have, for a change. From clear air initiatives to encouraging cycling, many cities are going out of their way to increase the longevity of their citizens. The front runner is, once again, a city that’s not particularly famous. It’s the city-state of Monaco, which is totally surrounded by France except for a coast along Mediterranean Sea. You’ve probably only heard of it either if you’re into Formula One racing, or because you’re a fan ofGrace Kelly. It’s only about two square kilometers (1.24 miles) with a population of only roughly 38,000. Odds are you’ve only heard of it for how ridiculously small it is compared to most nations.

 However, Monaco exists in no small part as a tax shelter, and thus it has drawn a highly disproportionate number of wealthy people. So not only does it have enough people who can afford top-of-the-line medical treatment and lifestyles, it has taken on green initiatives and has many electric cars for government employees, driving down illnesses caused by emissions. The result is the residents have an average life expectancy of a staggering 89.6 years. Perhaps the city-state doesn’t seem so silly now?

5. City with Worst Traffic

Even people who’ve been stuck in traffic for hours doesn’t really understand how bad it can get. Imagine that the worst traffic you’ve experienced was not only significantly worse, but that such an amount of traffic is effectively routine. If you can imagine that, then you’ve just pictured life for the average driver in Mexico City, the city which has held the title for “Worst Traffic” for multiple years. It’s also the only country in the Western Hemisphere in the top five.

During regular hours, a driver in Mexico can expect a trip to take at least 66% longer to reach the destination than if there was no traffic congestion. When rush hour comes around, however, this will balloon to around 101%. Every driver can look forward to spending an average of just under an hour a work day stuck in congested traffic. Even factoring in days off and other times that might help them avoid the worst congestion, the average person in Mexico City will still spend 227 hours a year stuck in traffic, or just over nine days total. It’s frankly kind of amazing enough people are willing to put up with that, to the point where the traffic can remain so bad.

4. Most Impoverished City in the World

It’s no surprise that the poorest city in the world is located in an area that was torn apart by civil war for decades. Even 14 years after the end of a 23-year civil war, Monrovia, Liberia can hardly be described as having recovered. It’s the largest city in Liberia and the capital, with a population of roughly one million. Despite that, amenities most people take completely for granted are generally out of the question for them.

Public transportation is limited to sparse private taxis. Electricity is utterly unreliable, leaving such devices as ATMs and credit card readers out of the question. Those with access to electricity aren’t supposed to use it between 2 and 6 a.m. Monrovia’s plumbing infrastructure is so insufficient that only one third of the population even has access to a flush toilet. They have to rely on makeshift latrines or even public spaces. Even for those whose toilet functions, the sewage system for the city is failing, leaving the sanitation bad enough that it’s no surprise the city was hit by an ebola outbreak.

3. Happiest City

Okay, since that was pretty grim, let’s lighten the mood by focusing on something positive. It might seem difficult or unscientific to quantify something as abstract as the happiness of a city. However, the design and consultation firm Arcadis’s method for determining it still seems pretty credible. It was to take the balance of the population’s health, the amount of prejudices the citizens faced and expressed, the levels of education, employment levels vs. cost of living, and the crime rate. After crunching the available data of all that, the city in question turned out to be none other than Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. You might think that a city that is constantly threatened with nuclear destruction by a notoriously unstable neighbor would make the city more paranoid, but this does not seem to be the case (it undoubtedly helps that North Korean missiles are infamously unreliable).

Unfortunately for fans of small government, this success is attributed in no small part to extensive urban planning. Seoul’s government also heavily favors globalist policies. Maybe you feel living in a happier city might not be worth accepting all that, but it feels like something worth considering.

2. The Most Homicidal City

Let’s get the most negative one out of the way. Many people believe that cities are inherently more violent than rural areas (although a study published in 2013 showed that cities actually aren’t any more dangerous than less populated areas), so they’ll assume that the most violent one must be practically a free-fire zone. That city would be Caracas, Venezuela, which is also that nation’s capital.

As the World Atlas reported in February 2017, the capital’s murder rate reached 119.87 per 100,000 people, meaning that with a population of 2.1 million, 2,517 homicides will occur there in a year. It’s one of only four cities in the world where the murder rate is more than 100 per 100,000. To give an idea just how much homicide there is in Venezuela, there are two other Venezuelan cities in the worldwide top ten for homicides a year. It’s more than double the homicide rate of St. Louis, Missouri, which now has the highest murder rate in America per capita. It’s also not a brand new development. Even back in 2011, Caracas’s murder rate became notorious when it rose above Baghdad’s. Hopefully there’s still time for anyone reading to cancel their plans to take a vacation there.

1. Oldest City in the World

We’ll conclude this list with a neutral fact. In this case, we don’t mean which was the first city ever built (evidence indicates this would be long-abandoned Jericho of Old Testament fame). What we’re looking for is which city has been continuously occupied since it was founded for the longest time. You might think it’s somewhere in Africa, where humans first evolved. Maybe you assume it’s somewhere in Eastern Asia? How about in the Middle East, where Mesopotamia is known as the Cradle of Civilization? Turns out it’s the last one, and it’s a city that likely will be quite familiar to anyone following current world events. As reported by The Guardian magazine, it’s poor, war-ravaged Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, that has the strongest claim.

Aleppo was first founded as a city circa 6,000 BC, because it occupied easily defended, hilly terrain. Its easy access to the Queiq River connected it to what’s now the nation of Turkey, and made it a valuable trading center for millennia. Being located in the notoriously volatile Middle East has meant it was conquered and reconquered many times by many empires including the Assyrians, Egyptians, and so on. So while it’s currently experiencing extreme turmoil, we can be assured that it will be able to recover eventually. It certainly has plenty of times in the past.


World Urban Extremes

– WIF Geography

 

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 174

…“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his ass all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road…

Take the High Road | by nixter

Candidate Crippen launches into a spontaneous analogy.

“I had/haven’t seen my cousin Harold for a while, a nasty spoiled city boy who came to visit my family’s house one summer. Now I had a large collection of plastic handmade models, the kind with a thousand little pieces that you glue together. There were nuclear carriers, supersonic jets, and yes, even an old Space Shuttle docking with the ISS (International Space Station) and this shirttail relative wanted to take some home with him. Well I had worked way too hard on this display to break up the collection, so I told him no.

“When it was time for him to leave, while I loaded his suitcases into my dad’s car to take him to the airport, it turns out he loaded programmable firecrackers into many of them and they were blown to bits after he was safely locked inside the car.

“I wanted to drag the spiteful twerp from the car and kick his ass all the way home, but my father took me aside and told me to take the high road. He knew the boy’s parents and how they would never believe that their dear little blankety-blank would never do such a thing.

“That very same cousin called me not long ago to apologize, telling me that he appreciated the way we handled the situation and he never did another mean thing the rest of his life.”

“That’s an interesting analogy Mr. Crippen,” the young woman compliments. But did she make the intellectual connection between Harold Ivey and the United Korean Peninsula?

“Thank you and,” Roy stares directly into the biggest camera in the lot, “if you are watching Harold Ivey, you and your family are welcomed to visit me in the White House!”

The captivated sidewalk audience goes wild. Once again his down home style comes in handy, making Freelove’s clichéd rhetoric appear petty and small. He shakes hundreds of hands on the 20 foot walk into Chicago’s first and only gambling establishment.

Francine, who 20 years ago could have been that overly aggressive reporter, could not resist asking, “Was that story for real?”

“Every word,” he shoots back.

All she can do is shake her head, “I love you Roy Crippen.”


THE RETURN TRIP

True Story by Tim Hussey

Episode 174


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 168

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 168

…It’s like they hitched a ride from off the planet and we passed ‘em up on the way here, like sub-light-ships in the night.”…

Ships in the stillness of the night, 1888 – Ivan Aivazovsky

— New Mayflower cameras tell most of the story from the outside, however Rick Stanley and his #2 {nameless brand X astronaut} have been inside the seemingly abandoned for some time with a 3rd keeping their ship anchored in the sea of red sand.

Moonlight Stroll by Jay Nottingham

There is a valid reason for the lack of interaction, fueling concerns about what they do not find inside Tycho; neither McKinney. The Mars lander has that “lived-in” feeling, but the residents are not where they were expected to be.

“Doesn’t it look like they come in and out of Tycho a lot…I mean every day?” asks #2. “And there is stuff missing that shouldn’t be…the hard copy of the star-chart is gone, not to mention their EVA gear. Maybe they’re on a moonlit stroll.”

“Yeah and where is the lander interactive tablet? It is portable but you wouldn’t take it out into the dusty beyond.”

The most amazing discovery of all, are the digital numbers on the environmental and power-level readouts.

“Oxygen is at 98.2%. H2 0 is 100% of capacity. And the volts and amps have not dropped below 99% in 2 freaking months?”

No bodies, no consumption, no mischief, nothing is adding up for Rick, who has been through some mysteries of space

Moon Station

{Just like the initial recon/shuttle missions to set up the Moon Station outpost. Mysteriously, they discovered that items, left behind by the Apollo missions, were missing, when no one other than NASA had been there since the 1970’s;  WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!}

“100% water, what’s up with that? That level should be at 45 by now. It’is like they hitched a ride from off the planet and we passed ‘em up on the way here, like sub-light-ships in the night.”

“Or they ended up with a tour guide who doesn’t know shit about Mars.” —


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 168


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 167

… I am issuing a gag order, no network feed until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus finding out their parents are missing…

“Mission Control, we have a problem,” Rick Stanley reports. “We are seeing some surface disturbance in Space Colony 1 lander’s landing field and it looks fresh, real fresh. Can you see what we see?”

Braden King and Roy Crippen are only separated by their cuffed shirt-sleeves, side-by-side to rely on the other for support.

Braden wonders why neither McKinney is signaling their brave rescuers in any way…. or answering the hails… .or firing a single blast from the quieted Tycho.

Roy is in possibilities mode… they are conserving fuel… they are low on oxygen…that impact crater, maybe a meteorite knocked out their communication gear.

Anxiety levels on Earth can be measured at the Moon Station and the beating of hearts drown out any other sound. Even the successful landing of the New Mayflower fails to break the spell.

“Two of us are going EVA. We can see lights on inside the lander and one of them is the green airlock beacon!”

“Doesn’t that mean they’re out of the lander?” Braden knows enough about procedure to be dangerous.

“You’ll need to close the airlock manually to balance the air and pressure before you enter,” Roy cautions and informs those who have not been around a lander simulator for a while.

Image result for no answerIt seems like only yesterday that New Mayflower had Mars within
hailing distance. Was it too much to ask for Sampson & Celeste jump on the horn and say “hey!”? Shouldn’t monumental effort be rewarded when expectations are being met?

Those damned Koreans officially leapfrog Osama Bin Laden as “Satan of the Century”? It is a very long line of evil and growing.

“It’s a good thing we did not run a live feed to the networks, in fact I am issuing a gag order until further notice. I don’t want Deke and Gus seeing this stuff.”

One doesn’t read a book from back to front, right?–

Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is any activity done by an astronaut or cosmonaut outside a spacecraft beyond the Earth’s appreciable atmosphere. {Wikipedia}

 


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 167


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 163

…No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well …

The Great Orion Nebula was captured with a Canon T1i using a Celestron CGEM-800 telescope by Philip A. Cruden

Image result for speeding away gifCeleste gradually recovers from time distorting space speed and the resulting blackout, examining Sammy for signs of physical harm. It seems that the 1st baby in space has slept through the 100-to-300,000 mph acceleration. She is very much like any other child when come to riding in the family car; after a couple boring minutes they are fast asleep, usually for the duration.

For the duration of their trip away from their solar system home-space is:

  1. up for grabs
  2. one guess is as good as the next
  3. let the meter run
  4. the GPS is on the fritz

Unlike distances between planets in the same sun-system, intergalactic space travel entails the equivalent time light needs to travel from point A to point B, and where the only significant “landmark” celestial bodies are an occasional asteroid, meteors of erratic size, and the granddaddy of them all, the wandering comet.

No strangers to astronomy, like any astronauts worthy of his or her spacesuit, the combined knowledge of the McKinneys serves them well. They are charting their progress through this new astronomical perspective with the aid of galactic star charts salvaged from the dear departed Tycho plus old fashioned reconnoitering.

orion“Do you remember the history syllabuses that taught us about Alpha Centauri correctly being the closest star to our star and all the speculation about where other forms of life may come from,” asks Sampson about the horse ‘n buggy days of dim understanding.

“Yes I do. They were a light-year short in calculating the distance and didn’t even know that it was part of a three star system.”

They harken back to when the Hubble Telescope altered cosmic perspectives from seeing uncountable #’s of stars to reveal a jaw-dropping millions of galaxies.

Then to have had the brief privilege of working with Space Colony’s 20” mirror, you could say that the Universe is getting smaller and bigger at the same time. “But we are not traveling on a course that remotely resembles a path to Centauri. I think we are going to dissect the Orion Constellation, right about at “The Hunter’s” navel.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Lego Hubble Telescope

Episode 163


page 199

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 162

…“It appears we are going for a ride, family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?”…

“Sit down in that chair over there, strap yourself in and wrap this blanket around Sammy,” he hands it to her and secures his girls.

For his part, Sampson seizes what they believe is the command seat, though there is no crew to instruct or the slightest feeling of control. The king and queen of this mysterious realm are compelled to hang on for an unidentified unknown outcome.

The previously dormant main viewscreen snaps to, filled with a panoramic picture of the Martian landscape. Syrtis Major looms stoically in the background, with Tycho and AL wondering what is going on in the fore. At the peak perfect pitch of A, the NEWFOUNDLANDER pauses, as if to bid Mars farewell, the only home it has known for some 3000 years.

“It appears we are going for a ride family!”

“Where are we going,” Celeste wonders?

“I’d like to know, who is driving?” He tries get the feel for some sort of helm, but it seems to be fruitless. “Let’s hope that it hasn’t forgotten the way to Earth, if that’s too much to ask.”

Liftoff is smooth and with the exception of the anticipated g-forces, they were soon out of Mars’ loving embrace and headed… headed… unfortunately headed away from the sun, which at this point in planetary alignment, is in the opposite direction of Earth. After Sampson proves to himself that he has not figured out the secrets of navigation, he unbuckles himself and what to his wondering eyes does appear a solid boot footing and a stable atmosphere. Space Colony 1 had some measure of gravity, but not anything approaching this downward force.

His first official duty as commander of the NEWFOUNDLANDER is to check on Celeste, who is still in post-delivery recovery, and of course the baby. Both are partially conscious from the shock of the ship achieving what has to be multiples of the speed-of-light. There is no space-speed indicator, but the sun of this sun system is fading faster than the orb on an Alaskan winter’s night.

Martian Sky


 THE RETURN TRIP

Rocket Ferry Leaving Mars by Chesley Bonestell

Episode 162


page 198

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