Thursday, 19 April 2012

My Neighborhood

Up in the center of Silver Springs, Maryland (just stone's throw up the road from me).....there's this great effort underway in the downtown area.  The town decided to build up this fantastic Metro mass transit center....down by the Metro station.  The subway area is already there....what they want is this area where buses could pull up.....dump folks off and pick folks up.....and make it easy to walk over to the Metro subway tunnel.

For Silver Springs....this is a huge project....around $100 million going into the property and construction.  Most folks consider this to be a magnet.  It'll bring more apartments down to the center of town and increase property values.

Metro brought in the architects and drew up the envisioned center.  The contract was won, and construction was started.

Well....the construction guys are somewhere around seventy percent done and Metro brought in this audit guy to make sure the drawings are being used and the construction is within the terms of what they specified.  The audit came out this week.  There's this big problem.

The concrete for this three-story center?  Parts of it is way too thick, and parts are way too thin.....by the terms of what was originally listed.  So you have three scenarios running.  Too thick?  It might collapse because of too much weight on the columns.  Too thin?  Might crack at the wrong time when too much weight was on it.  Just right?  Thank God.

Metro is hinting now that they won't sign off.  That means no money.  The construction company found some guy who says that he's concrete certified, and this is not a big deal.

It looks like this will end up in court and some independent guy will have a say in this matter.  The bad thing here....is if the judge agrees with the construction company, and ten years from now....the over-weight sections collapse....you (as the judge in this case)....might have to leave the country and find safe shelter in Honduras for a while.

The comical side of this.....you would think for $100 million....that a company would hire some smart guys to ensure everything is built right.  You just don't get the impression that this was done, and somebody's cousin Orson was guessed on the thickness of the concrete.

Paradise: Lost and Found

There’s a former associate of mine who has this thing about finding paradise. The logic is….you can only have paradise if you’ve got the money. Otherwise, you are accepting something less than paradise, and it’s a lesser life without paradise (pain, woes, sorrows, tragedy, etc).

Some British guy with a fair amount of time to ponder…sat around and thought about Paradise. In the end, he wrote up a fair amount of words on the topic of paradise in the lost sense and paradise in the found sense. In a cryptic way, it was tied up to some Bible scripture and that probably didn’t solve anyone’s dilemma about finding it.

A couple of years ago, some screenplay writers wrote up another paradise piece, which centered around paradise lost, found, lost, and then accepted. They took in the British guy’s vision, tossed in some science fiction, some Greek mythology, a crashed plane on a beach, some black fog, and a time-warp deal….which all led to some confused paradise situation.

After a long life of wandering around, I’ve come to realize some facts about paradise.

A guy from Bama can find paradise simply in a place that has flushing toilets, fresh water, and tin roofs.

Some folks could find paradise in some Irish countryside, where it rains every other day and some guy at the pub who talks woes and sorrows on a daily basis to anyone willing to buy his brew.

Some folks could find paradise in a place where you can buy French glacier water, Italian tomato paste, and fresh Greek garlic.

Some folks can find paradise in a double-wide trailer, just overlooking a creek that never floods.

Some folks can find paradise in a scorching 120-degree Arizona desert.

Some folks can find paradise in Alice Springs, Australia after a 44-hour drive from Brisbane.

Some folks can believe they’ve got paradise when they can order the $6.99 all-you-can-eat-waffle-menu at Karl’s Diner in Ripley.

Some folks could find paradise in New Orleans where forty-year old women in a tube-top runs around half-drunk and yelling 'go Saints'.

I'm kinda of the belief that money just doesn't have much to do with paradise.  I don't really want to share this idea too much.....because so many folks are working hard to save enough money to get them to paradise.  Without that 'work hard' urge.....these folks might be lost (so to speak).  So those of you in for the long haul and worried about paradise.....you might ought to just around you right now.  You might already be there.

The Difference Between Two Words

As the smoke has kinda settled on this Secret Service episode still left from the President's Columbia trip....you can kinda see the trigger to this whole thing.

Early in the evening with Secret Service "Snuffy".....the crew got to some club.  "Snuffy" met up with some of the local women.

Now, just like it is in Washington, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Tokyo, and Seattle....there are two classes of women you can meet in some nightclub who have expectations of money at the end of the evening.  One is the plain hooker class, which in Cartagena.....it's roughly $50 for the night.  The hooker-class dresses up in Sears-like clothing, looks fairly sharp, and typically fills all of the imagination of a guy.

The second type of gal would be the escort-type.  This is someone who is in a $300 outfit and wearing $100 shoes.  This is someone who is probably a bit more educated and more intelligent.  This is someone that you'd typically take out on a full dinner and see a show with.  In Cartagena, a escort runs $800....more or less.

Somewhere in the midst of this initial talking and discussion...."Snuffy" missed the understanding of the term escort.  So "Snuffy" enjoyed the whole evening and got up the next day.....to discover that his gal (from the 21-odd women hired the previous evening) was expecting $800.  "Snuffy", the Secret Service dude, didn't have $800 and probably wouldn't pay a substantial amount like that.  So the argument takes off, and it appears that his buddies helped in some way for cash flow but he never paid this gal the $800....it was something less than that.

"Snuffy" is now sitting back in DC, and kicking himself left and right.  He should have been like the other guys and just found himself a regular hooker, but he must have been thinking that this finely-dressed gal was in the same category was what the other Secret Service guys had.

So in the end, there is this little difference between escort and hooker.  I'm pretty sure that the news media will talk about this for days.  Some expert will appear on CNN and talk for twelve minutes on recognition factors for an escort.  MSNBC will bring out both a hooker and a escort....just to demonstrate the difference.  Fox News?  Well.....they will drag out some retired Secret Service guy from the 1950s who will tell you how they never used hookers or escorts, and stayed pure off Dr Pepper and Honey Buns.

Its a comical end to the story.  I'm guessing some Hollywood screenplay writer is weeping over this right now.....it's the perfect script for a movie.  Beautiful educated Latino gal, a naive Secret Service agent who probably grew up in Kansas, a night out on the town in Cartagena, some misunderstanding, and a fall from grace.  Toss in some KGB agents, a couple of British James Bond-like characters, a rookie NBC reporter on his first trip, some midget Columbian wrestlers, a United airlines pilot at the hotel bar, a wannabe Jewish mobster, and some drug cartel guys......and you've got a four-star movie.