Saturday, October 20, 2018

Tourists staying away from Miami Beach in droves - one the reasons why

This Saturday, I decided to eat at Lincoln Road. I know most locals think of eateries there as expensive tourist traps of questionable quality, but there are a few good places, such as Cafe Nexxt, where my wife and I planned to have an inexpensive, honest and nourishing lunch.

So we drove to the nearest South Beach  parking lot, the large public parking across from City Hall in 17th Street. Until recently, the rate was US$ 1.00 an hour. They boosted it up to US$ 2.00 an hour a few months ago. Still not bad, considering there are places that charge as much as US$50 for all day parking. When we got there, although the lit sign said OPEN, there were two orange cones blocking the entrance.

I found that peculiar, because the city has been quite empty the last few weeks. The other day I found parking in the 7th Street Lot without any problems, in one of the first levels, on a weekend, too.

The 17th Street lot has two peculiarities. Tons of spaces are taken up by City Government vehicles. Not too sure that there is no other place for city vehicles to be parked by the dozen, they certainly might be more inconvenient for city workers. The fact is, dozen of places are taken up by them every day, not bad when the city is empty, very annoying when it is full.

The other peculiarity is that elevators are often not working. Al least the ones facing Lincoln Road. Wonder if the ones facing town hall are out of order - the only time I try to use them because the ones  facing Lincoln Road were all broken, they worked fine. Just a coincidence, I reckon...

So it seems that the lot is managed not for tourist and resident convenience, rather, for city workers' convenience. 

As there was no one around to explain the orange cones, I decided to park in the New Symphony Parking Lot, which is just across from the street, and have used in the past. Tons of spaces. No problem.

When I came back, after a two-hour lunch, problem, BIG PROBLEM. I found out that the rate for that day was a flat US$ 15.00...Then I found out the information posted in a barely legible and small sign, with a very light green background and white letters. Anybody that knows a little bit about graphics, will come to the conclusion that the signage was designed with  the intent not to be seen, specially under the sun. Red colors or a darker background, plus a better position would ensure the prospective client was better informed.
New World Symphony - Public Parking with a difference

So, my inexpensive lunch suddenly became US$ 11.00 more expensive.

Parking woes in Miami Beach, involving private tow companies Beach Towing and Tremont Towing are reported by the hundreds. However, when the city government seems to be playing numbers games with parking figures and signs, you realize that tourists might be getting tired of getting the shaft from a city that is treating tourists (and residents) badly.

Incidentally, there was no major event in Miami Beach at all to warrant such "Flat Rate" all day, and Lincoln Road was quite empty. So that a huge convention center might not be the answer, after all.   

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The plight of the foreign Physical Therapist in the United States

It is a known fact that the U.S. population is getting older, and the demand for services to an aging population is increasing with every passing year in the country. Physical Therapy is among such services, meaning that the demand for these professionals is increasing all over the country. Job surveys and lists of future good careers generally include physical therapy, for the very same reasons stated. However, U.S. physical therapy graduates are not keeping up with the demand, which means that foreign physical therapists are being called to fill the gap.

The first step for a foreign physical therapist is getting a degree validation from specialized agencies such as FCCPT and ICA, which analyze the transcripts, degrees and syllabi and issue opinions which are widely recognized as authoritative. From that point on, it is up to individual state regulatory and licensing agencies to approve the applications or require the applicant to obtain more credits. So it is a good idea for the foreign physical therapist to find out which agencies are acceptable to the regulatory agency of the state where he or she lives, or intends to live in. NACES members, for instance, might be accepted in one state, not the other.


For physical therapists from countries such as Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India, and countries that issue syllabus in English, things can be easier, for their academic documentation does not require translation. That is not the case of documentation of physical therapists from other countries. While translating transcripts, diplomas and certificates is not very expensive, course outlines, or syllabus are long documents that can run from a few dozen pages to over 400.

U.S. university syllabus are generally very concise documents, in fact, sometimes each subject can be summarized in a single paragraph in the most extreme situations. That is not the case of syllabi from a number of countries, where even a single subject can run over 10 pages.

A quick search for translations on the internet returns a number of companies with flashy and modern looking websites that provide “per page” pricing that, at first, seem to be a good deal. A lot of these companies are Silicon Valley startups which are, in general, unfamiliar with the specifics of translation work, in spite of their claims, and are based on marketing strategies and technological platforms which not always favor the client. These “per page” prices can range anywhere from US$ 19.95 to US$ 33.00 a page.

However, before even considering hiring such companies, one must look closely into such price structures for a very long document. The per page price does not mean pages with unlimited number of words, you will soon find out. In fact, the advertiser that charges US$ 19.95 a page defines a page, in very small print, as having 100 words. However, most document pages have way more than 100 words, and many syllabus pages have more than 500 words. Other companies define a page as having 250 words, and change pricing to per word after the threshold is met. This means that a lot of the syllabus pages do not even qualify for the seemingly low “per page” price. When the maximum threshold is exceeded, these companies normally charge between US$0.10 to US$0.12 a word. Yet, they still charge the “per page” price for pages with little text. So, a 400 page course outline, not uncommon, can cost a very hefty US$12,000.00 or even more.

The fact is that the vast majority of translation companies and individual translators in the U.S.A. are not familiar with the validation and evaluation process, so they price the entire document, which is a waste of your time and money, and makes the evaluator’s job much more difficult.  Far from the author suggesting these companies do this because they want to deceive and overcharge - I would say it is sheer ignorance.

So the best  alternative is seeking a specialist, such as Legal Translation Systems, which is located in the Miami area and has been doing this specific work since the 80’s. “Evaluators seek specific information on a syllabus, and a lot of it can be omitted. When we price a job, we only include the information required by the evaluators, who appreciate our effort. Recently, a client was quoted US$8,000.00 by a major Miami translation company, we did it for only US$3,200.00,” says Celia Pieroni, a manager. Pieroni also says that “physical therapy syllabi translations have to be prepared by an experienced translator, because the originals often have dozens to hundreds of mistakes, so the translator has to be very familiar with the specific terminology and make adjustments.”
The downside is Legal Translation Systems is a boutique company, which does all work in-house so it is limited to translating documents from Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. If your document is written in a different language, such as German and Dutch, you have a long process ahead of you. I suggest you visit the American Translators Association website for translators of other languages. Look for science or medical translation specialists.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In regards to the closing of Surfmed Pharmacy in Miami Beach

I am not a fan of large chain stores. Take, for instance, office supply stores. The other day I went to buy a bona fide stationary item at Office Max, and guess what, they did not have it. Not a very uncommon item, I might add. However, should I be inclined to stock up on popcorn, candy, Coca-Cola or toilet paper, I could buy loads upon loads of it.

Back in the old days, you could walk into a stationary store, and pretty much find thousands of stationary articles. Sometimes I wondered where they found room to stock everything, but they did. They were really specialized stores. Then Office Max, Office Depot and Staples came along and simply decimated the stationary business. We are stuck with them, really, them and their popcorn, candy and Coke.

The trouble with this is that you can find popcorn, candy and Coke in thousands of other stores, but how about some stationary guys??? Who run these stores, by the way? Probably some 21-year old high school graduate, not very well versed in office goods, who is glad to be called manager to impress girls and makes $ 8.23 an hour.

Pharmacies pretty much follow the same pattern. The other day I read an article in Forbes magazine that provided the number of CVS stores in the USA. I almost fainted. Actually, in this neighborhood there are Walgreen stores almost every 1000 feet, it seems .

Do I shop in these pharmacies? Sure I do. For one, insurance companies cut deals with the chain pharmacies, and I suppose, leave out the few independents out there sucking their thumbs. I am stuck with CVS, in that regard, cannot really buy prescriptions anywhere else.

CVS and Walgreens, like the office supplies stores, are well stocked up in items such as high sugared drinks and candy/food, alcoholic beverages, and tons on non pharmaceutical or medical items. And they simply drove Miami Beach's Surfmed out of business.

"Joans, business is a Darwinian thing, the survival of the fittest". Here is the trouble, CVS and Walgreens, with all their junk food, booze, and in Walgreens' case, cigarettes (at least CVS dropped that product from their offerings), fail to provide surgical items, or specialty medical goods, which Surfmed sold. These are more related to their supposed core business, Pharmacy. But no, they drove the one store that sold this product in an area with a large elderly population, but are obviously not intent on selling this type of product.

So, you see, large is not always best.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Translations for US$30 a page, I don't think so

Here is the scoop.

The other day, I got thinking about ways of saving money. Every once in a while, I am faced with the requirement of obtaining certified translations of documents. I normally use this company, however, I got the notion they are a tad expensive. So I googled.

Then I found quite a few companies that charge only US$30.00 per page, and I was in heaven! I could save a bundle from now on.

So I contact one the companies that had an Ad stating "translations for US$30.00 a page". I said that I had a power of attorney with about 600 words, one page, and wanted confirmation it cost only US$30.00 a page.

Much to my disgust, this is the response I got:

Hi Joans:

The price of $30.00 is for Certificates and similar documents, of no more than 250 words.
Legal documents are charged by word at $0.12 a word. If your Power of Attorney is 600 words long, then the price is $72.00.
You can send me the document for a no obligation free quote to see what best price I can give you.


2500 NW 79th Ave, Suite 209, Doral, FL, 33122
Phone: 305-440-4773  |  Fax: 1-866-931-8852  |  Cell: 305-519-7292


Guess what? The company I have been using charges only US$60.00 for this document, so they are US$12.00 less expensive! So the "tranlaguage" ad is not really telling the whole truth, and I am surprised google is running it, for I know they have strict advertising policies that prohibit this very type of thing!

Then I google further, and found out this is common practice. Other companies go as far as charging US$10.00 to issue a document in paper!!!

If an ad says the cost is US$30.00 a page, it should be US$ 30.00 page, irrespective of how many words there are on the page. I felt a little betrayed in my trust, and of course, would never use this company.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Congratulations Miami Beach Government

Sometimes I tend to be overly critical, so let us give kudos where kudos are due.

Today, I saw that MB government can be very efficient indeed! I was parked at the public parking lot at 72nd and Collins, with a validated sticker until 3:55 PM. I kinda forgot about time, and when I returned to my car, there was one of those US$18.00 parking tickets. Well deserved, after all, I was paid in until 3:55 PM. My surprise was finding that the ticket had been written at 4:05, only ten minutes after my validated time!!!

I was dumbfounded by such efficiency. It took the zealous parking guy (or gal) only ten times to find my violation!!!

On the other side of the story, the same parking lot is full of ticket dispensing machines that work whenever they want, sometimes, never. Apparently, the city is very careful about sending employees to find cars that bypassed the allowed time by a mere ten minutes (having paid for six hours, by the way), yet, nobody obviously checks those dispensing machines, which would not be a difficult thing to do. Placing an OUT OF ORDER sign would be a nice thing, for, at times, I have had to try four different machines to get a ticket, walking around the lot like a zombie.

The non-working machines also sprung up a new industry. Every once in a while one can find a few folks of questionable pedigree hanging around in the parking lot, offering "help" with the machines. After "help" is provided (often telling tourists the machines are not working, duh!), they ask for money. This is obviously adding insult to injury. Plus people that openly solicit right on the parking lot, with open liquor containers, without any police intervention whatsoever.

How about the corner of 71st and Harding? I have seen MB crews working on the storm drainage system there, on and off, and they never get it right! In fact, once somebody hit a sewer line that literally spread feces all over the place. A recent heavy rain caused the whole area to be seriously flooded.

I know. Giving out parking tickets means revenue for the city. Checking out on broker dispensing machines, loitering on parking lots and storm drainage does not. I get it.

Let me rephrase. No congratulations, MB. Shame on you.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miami New Times, where hipocrisy never stops

A recent edition of the Miami New Times had an article signed by Michel E. Miller, entitled "Porky`s Revenge". This was a follow-up to an article published in 2012, concerning an American who had been jailed in Panama.

In the third paragraph, the author says "Galeota admits he's done bad things, such as running Miami`s most infamous strip club, Porky`s, for years before moving to Panama and opening a brothel".

So, while the article says that strip clubs and brothels are "bad things", the New Miami Times is undoubtedly the largest promoter or smut in Miami EVER! The last pages of the paper are filled with ads of "bad" strip clubs plus tons of smaller ads for Oriental Massage spas, which a lot of people say, are nothing more than mini-brothels. Thus, we assume that the paper cares very little about bad things in the community, in fact, it might be highly responsible for a large share of condom sales and STDs in Miami!!!

The problem is that the NMT spends tons upon tons of paper uncovering all types of corruption that happens in this area. Maybe, by taking paying ads from "bad things", the paper lacks moral standing, if I dare say it, to criticize corruption, another bad thing, at all levels. After all, even the most stringent protector of civil liberties will not say tons of strip clubs and massage parlors are good for a community!

I do not at all recall the paper running an expose on such massage parlors or even the activities of such strip clubs, although it takes direct hits on political corruption, business in general, not for profits, religion, card readers, car dealerships, gambling, universities, criminals, sports franchises, artists, celebrities, real estate developers, police, etc.  

Sure, the paper and the author might actually say that Galeota was the one referring to brothels and strip clubs as bad things, that this did not reflect the paper's view. Or they might say running strip clubs and massage place advertisements does not mean they condone or support these businesses, that they will take an ad from any legit business. I wonder what would happen if a church attempted to place an ad in the NMT....