Month: April 2006

The United States of Europe (T.R.Reid)

Being a European (still), I just couldn't resist the temptation of buying this book. Mr. Reid obviously knew something I didn't, his title suggesting that Europe was on its way to equal the United States (of America) in global power, no less.

Turns out that the book could have been titled: "The European Union, A Force Not to Be Neglected Any Longer." Not as catchy, of course, and the whole tone of the book is sensationalized to attract readers to a fairly dull subject matter. 


Leonardo da Vinci : Flights of the Mind : A Biography (C. Nicholl)

{moszoomimglink:Verrocchio – head of David}Leonardo is quite the character. For most of his life a beautiful charmer, surrounded by pretty boys in search of a career, we remember him mostly for his old age, a bearded man with long straight hair. He is almost as iconic as his creations, who became true symbols of art and science to a degree unparalleled before and ever since.

Yet, the man is a little elusive. He is from an age too far in time to have dutifully recorded all his comings and goings, and despite his fame, many of his works have not survived. Biographies came late, mostly at the hands of people that had only a scant acquaintance with Leonardo, or even never met him.

 Mr. Nicholls collects all the data and presents a portrait that is alive without descending into novelization. The Leonardo that jumps out of the pages of the book is a real human, with needs and desires and problems – yet at the same time an admired artist, scientist and philosopher. 


Finally, more money

Brad and his wife have this odd communication pattern: they won't respond to my inquiries for days and weeks, until they need something (in particular money). So I called them every day since last Friday, and no word from them until Wednesday. I needed to know whether to go for anodized or painted screens, and now the order is delayed by a week thanks to the duo.

Well, I get a call back with "everything is A-OK!" But we need more money to buy a bunch of supplies. Crap stuff, like light bulbs, smoke detectors, etc. But of course (despite my putting already over $6,000 on a cash account at the local construction supply store) they are going for "Marco buys!"


What happened with my Wells Fargo debit card?

What do you do if in Hawai`i and in need of cash? Lots of cash? Well, of course, you go to the local branch of your bank. Wells Fargo. I got my loan from them, let's just go to their local branch, no?

The phone book lists a Wells Fargo branch in Hilo: I call her up, and Phil (whom I knew from dealing with the Home Mortgage arm) tells me there is no branch. I can though get a cash advance from any bank, up to the limit set on my card, as long as the bank is willing to do that. All the way up to $7,000!

There is a catch: I have to increase my ATM card limit. So I dutifully call the bank and get the ATM limit raised to its maximum ($1,000), and they tell me I can get the cash advance up to $7,000.


No news is bad news

I've tried to get in touch with my contractors in Hawai`i over the weekend. I have a quote for the screens outstanding (anodized or painted?) and wanted to wish Brad a happy birthday on Sunday. Called several times, left messages, heard nothing back.

I know the pattern – not the first time it happens. Whenever there are bad news to report, I hear nothing from them. What could it be this time? Most likely the plumber can't come to get final for another couple of weeks, and they don't want to tell me. 


Hiking the Kohala Ditch

[I found this item on the Internet somewhere – not a hike I have done, but one I want to do. if you wait long enough, you'll see my version of the same hike! Cool]

It was August of 1977 when Fred Dodge and his two teen-age children, Charlie, 17, and Alyce (Tootsie), 16, and I hiked across the north slope of the Kohala mountain from the end of the road above Pololu Valley to Waipio Valley. I had hiked the Kohala Ditch trail with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club some years before on a trip organized by Dick Booth, I believe. On that trip we had taken the inland trail, and wound behind a waterfall and in and out of many deep gulches before reaching the end of the trail. This time we stayed on the coastal route, crossing the mouth of Pololu Valley and climbing the wall on the far side. Here the trail forks, with the right branch running up the ridge and eventually connecting with the inland trail in Honokane Nui Valley.


Cryptonomicon (N. Stephenson)

First things first: don't read the paperback edition. The print is tiny, and the book huge – the perfect recipe for a painful headache.

I heard about Cryptonomicon first in a personal ad, in the category last read. The title sounded interesting, so I bought the book and read it on my last trip to Hawai`i. Which ensured that I had plenty time to read with no distraction or better things to do.

Measured against that backdrop, the book was an utter failure. I was bored with entire sections, and skipped liberally without ever having to go back, never missing the plot.



Season Ending in Tahoe

Sadly true, this and next weekend are going to be the last ones for a nice run in Tahoe. Heavenly is about to board up the lodges, and so are all the other resort, concluding a short season that started poorly, as it ended on a bang.

Next year? I'll probably do without Heavenly, probably switch to the multi-pass for Kirkwood and Northstar. Heavenly finally got to me, I know every single run by heart, and I am sick of the tired snow an hour after the mountain opens.

I expect from Kirkwood: less crowd, more powder – better riding conditions, in a word. 

I'll miss from Heavenly: the ski bunnies (sigh!) 

What does Ninole mean?

From "Place Names of Hawaii":

Nīnole. Land section and village, Honomū qd.; land section, homesteads, village, cove, and gulch, Honu-ʻapo qd., Hawaiʻi. There are freshwater springs at the Nīnole in Honu-ʻapo; see Pū-hau. A cannibalistic moʻo, Kaikapū (hag), lived at the Honu-ʻapo Nīnole; her pretty granddaughter led travelers to her cave, where she ate them raw (HM 264). Lit., bending.

Coming Back to San Francisco

{moszoomimglink:Brad}Latest update, mid-April. A tough month, already over a month into the extension. Here is the latest list of things to do (green: HAPPENING; grey: DONE):

  • Wall to the master bedroom and MBR closet
  • All swinging doors (14, plus closets)
  • Fixed doors to the kitchen
  • Drywalls and mud
  • Painting
  • Electrical (rough-in)
  • Electrical (finish)
  • Plumbing (finish)
  • Bathroom and kitchen tiles
  • Honoka`a bedroom
  • Garage
  • Upstairs bathroom tile

Brad says he'll be done by the 16th (his birthday). I sure hope so, otherwise I just might run out of money…