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Updated: 04/08/02

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Monday, 8 April, 2002

I'm just odd. The clocks changed this weekend, but instead of oversleeping, I woke up BEFORE my alarm went off this morning. I guess that's good - I got quite a bit done at the office before anyone else even set foot in the place. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Went to the warehouse twice this weekend. First on Saturday to see what had been done in a week - not much. Barry was there welding the structural steel on the front wall. He admitted that he has another job that he's working on, so he didn't work the whole week. We went over what he is supposed to get accomplished while Richard is in Milan for the next week. Ok, fine.

I also met with Oscar, a contractor who wants to bid on the finish work of the house. We still have quite a bit to go before then, but he wanted to come in and see the project. Seems like a nice guy, a little slick, but nice. He will work up some numbers and let me know.

That was Saturday. Sunday, I went back in the evening to meet with Richard and Oscar. They had done a walk through of the project and Oscar found several things that were problems in the work that has already been done. Metal studs have only been secured on one side or not at the top, so they are not stable. Plywood facing on the stair tower and exterior walls has been exposed to the elements and is peeling and needs to be replaced. Floors are not level. And the thing that worries me the most - there are problems with the roof.

None of the problems are huge and they shouldn't take too long to fix, but it bothers me that Barry took obvious short-cuts in the work. I have asked Oscar to price up an option to take over the project from this point - he believes he can get everything done in four months. I have asked Richard to instruct Barry to spend the next week working on some of the repairs to the existing work, rather than cutting the new windows. I don't want to fire him during a period where the project is unattended, so I will wait until after Richard returns to do that.

All of this is, of course, very depressing, not only because of the increased costs, but the time spent. I guess this goes into the "live and learn" file.

So, THAT was fun. I did have a nice morning on Saturday and Sunday. This is the first weekend for West River Drive in Fairmount Park to be closed to cars for the season, so I went biking and skating. It was, unfortunately, absolutely seasonal.

By seasonal I mean that it is April, and therefore still part of the unofficial winter season here in the City of Brotherly Love. [Hint: there were snow flurries on Saturday]. My friends who grew up here are delusional - they think that April is usually warm. It's not. And - sorry to burst a bubble here - neither is May. But as a result of either too many cheesesteaks, pretzels and TastyCakes, or too many frozen brain cells in prior Aprils and Mays, my Philly friends all swear that having temps in the 30s/40s is unusual.

[Ok, whatever you say.]

I had a nice boost at the end of the day today - my bank knows me. I mean, when I walk in to do a transaction, they already know who I am - how wonderful is that? In this huge impersonal world in which we live, my bank is still more like the old George Bailey Savings and Loan than the big conglomerate blob that most financial institutions are. Marsha printed out a couple of back statements for me because, "If we put in the request, they're going to charge you five dollars." Love her. I wonder how much longer they'll be in business. A small time bank in Philly is a dying breed - even the larger animals have been gobbled up now. I'll stay with them as long as they can stay out of the corporate maw. God speed, Firstrust.

I went to Roy's for dinner tonight. Had the "Bento Box" - ostrich steak with mashed potatoes, grilled shrimp with kim chee [can live without that], and tempura veggies and grouper. Overall it was good. Still not great, though.

They have these highly addictive dried wasabi peas at the bar. Clears the sinuses, let me tell you. They also have a TV monitor at the bar - I asked them to change from one of the obscure sports channels that was showing the layout of the individual holes at The Masters golf tournament, along with - I'm not kidding - which clubs Tiger selected at his last Masters and which ones Jack selected at his last. They put on CNN, and it made me realize that I have had to become a much faster reader recently. Between the closed captioned and the lower-screen teletype, my eyes get tired from reading.

But I did notice this story: the estate of a woman killed in the World Trade Center is suing American Airlines and Boston's Logan Airport for $50 million. I'm sorry, but that's absurd. Maybe there is no price that can be set on human life, but to suggest that these companies should pay $50 million for not having done something to prevent an atrocity that NO ONE would have predicted is beyond my comprehension. Like the Slave Labor lawsuit, the "estate" of this woman is looking for a settlement - just some money to make them go away. What a shame.

I believe that being in my profession - reinsurance - takes some of the fun out of things. Yahoo reports that Pamplona has nothing on Scottsdale, Arizona, these days.

"The suburban Phoenix enclave, known for its well-heeled residents and golf courses, is planning its own running of the bulls in May to rival the famous annual event in July on the cobblestone streets of that Spanish city. Scottsdale's version of the 400-year-old event will take place at an area Western theme park, complete with local bulls that tip the scales at a hefty 1,200 pounds.

Plans call for entrants to try to keep a few steps ahead of 20 of these beefy behemoths down a one-third of a mile-long stretch, with pullouts every 100 feet for those looking to get out of the way quickly.

Eight runs will be held throughout the weekend, part of a celebration of Cinco de Mayo, a May 5 Mexican holiday commemorating a 19th Century victory over French troops that is widely observed in the U.S. Southwest.

It is not the first time Immordino has run with the idea. He staged the event in 1998 and 1999 in tiny Mesquite, Nevada, near the Arizona-Nevada border. But it proved to be a financial bust."

See, but my first thought is, "Which insurance company is writing the liability for this?" Because, you know, if anyone gets hurt they WILL sue.

["Well, I didn't know that running with bulls was DANGEROUS!]

And on that note, I have a WARNING for everyone. Beware of cans of tomato paste. I was preparing the base for a dish I'm making tomorrow and the can of tomato paste exploded on me. . . and all over my kitchen. Stove, cabinets, ceiling, floor . . . everywhere. Yuck. So my choice - give up on the recipe, or find a new can?

[I found a new can, but I opened it in a plastic bag this time.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"If you are building a house and a nail breaks,
do you stop building,
or do you change the nail?"

Rwandan Proverb

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