Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mary is off to College Summit

Mary leaves this afternoon for St. John's University in Queens, where she will spend the next 4 days working as a volunteer for College Summit. A couple of months ago, she was watching "Now" on PBS, and they did a piece on College Summit--and she simply had to give it a try.

Here is the link to that PBS broadcast, so take a look:

College Summit a group that promotes college to high school students who may not normally think of college as an option for them. These sessions are designed to help them with their applications and to guide them through the process of writing their personal statements. That's what Mary will be, a "writing coach."

No doubt, it will be an intense experience. Not only are the days long (they start at about 7 a.m. and often end at 10 or 11 p.m.), but certainly the students' stories will be engaging and emotionally moving--they always are. We tend to think of young people as people who haven't really lived yet. Mary and Jeff to differ, having read thousands of student essays over the years.

Mary will write about it when she returns home Sunday. In the meantime, visit College Summit's Web site to read about them, and we encourage you to support them with a small donation of time or money.

After all, wouldn't diversity in our college system do wonders for our country? These days, college seems more and more like an elite institution, and it simply shouldn't be that way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Upcoming events

First, our French checks finally arrived, so work has begun on the Paris apt. (now that we could start paying everyone). Hooray!

This week, Th-Sun., Mary is volunteering for College Summit: an organization that helps high schoolers prepare their college applications and essays. The group's aim, as it says on their Web site, is "to strengthen the college-going culture for all students." Meaning, students from ALL high schools should have the opportunity to go to college. Mary will spend several days working with a group of students as they write their personal statements. The workshop takes place at St. John's University in Queens.

The following week, House Hunters International will arrive in the Bronx to shoot "Act I" of our episode in our little co-op here. That ought to be quick! Of all the episodes we have seen, ours has by far the smallest properties. But hey, if everyone is concerned about going green these days (by the way, Mary is getting weary of the "green" lingo), then why not show how economically you can live in a small space?

Speaking of green, we found out yesterday that Jeff's dad, Glenn, who lives with his wife in Paso Robles, spends twice as much as we do per kilowatt hour of electricity. DOUBLE. Guess that's the price you pay for living in California. Never mind that we live in NYC, which, last time we checked, was pretty darned expensive. Apparently, not compared to Paso Robles.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Time to brag: Rachel made the Dean's List at NYU

She received a very nice letter yesterday informing her that she had made the Dean's Honors List for 2007-2008. Brava, Rachel!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's hot! Well, it is summer in the city

"Back o' my neck gettin' dirty and gritty ..."

We try to just ignore the heat as much as possible and get outdoors, anyway. Jeff is still riding his bike to work, although he doesn't always take a trip around Central Park before he goes to the office (especially on a day like today, when it's 7 a.m. and nearly 80 degrees already--and humid!).

We have been spending a lot of time in Central Park on the weekends (all these photos were taken there). It's such a fun place. There is even a kiddie amusement park there now; in the wintertime, it's a skating rink.

It's still a bit strange to us to see this beautiful park in the middle of all these high-rises--and this pond, complete with flowering plants, ducks, turtles and fish, literally right in front of some buildings. Strangely beautiful.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

OK, so my French is really bad!

Rachel just read my email to M. LeNotre and pointed out, oh, about 10 errors, at least! Guess I am out of practice ... But never fear! Jeff and I will continue to practice and we'll get better.

(I can hear Rachel now ... "Bonne chance, Maman!")

Happy Anniversary to Jeff and Mary!

Today we have been married 11 years! Hard to believe Rachel was 9 when we got married, and she's 20 now ... Then why is it that we don't feel like we have aged at all?

Oh, right: Denial.

French banking

When we were in Paris 6 weeks ago, we attempted to order a checkbook from our bank there. Well, we learned that to order a checkbook, you have to go into the exact branch where you opened your account.

Of course, ours was closed that day--the last day of our trip.

No biggie. We think, "We'll just email our banker and tell him to please send the checkbook to us in New York."

Which is what we did. He confirmed our address, and everything seemed fine.

No checkbook ever arrived.

After 4 weeks, Mary asks her colleague, Pierre, to please call the bank and find out what happened. Guess what? They were holding the checkbook at the bank for us to pick up!

We contact our banker and he asks us to please fax a signed letter authorizing them to send the checkbook to us in New York.

So Mary asks Pierre to please write the letter in French, which he does. We try to fax it, but the fax is busy, so Jeff emails it--and our banker says he has received it.

We think, "OK, surely the checks will arrive within about a week."

Two weeks later: no checkbook.

Now, we are desperate. We cannot pay our contractor or architect, who are both waiting to begin renovations on the apt. in Paris. Every day we cannot pay, we are losing money. We also have a bill to pay to the co-op board in Paris, with no way to do so.

You may think, Why not just pay online, like you do with BofA or whomever?

Not so fast.

No such thing.

You can wire money if you know someone's banking information. But first, you have to wait for an "activation code" to be sent to you via regular mail or via your Paris phone number (only Paris phone numbers work!).

So here we sit. Mary just sent this email to our banker, hoping against hope that if she wrote in French, even bad French, he might respond:

S'il vous plaît, nous sommes désespérés pour votre aide. Nous n'avons pas reçu toujours notre carnet de chèques.
Il y a deux semaines nous vous avons envoyé un e-mail à une lettre signée, à votre demande, demandant que le carnet de chèques nous sont envoyés chez nous, à New York.
Nous ne l'avons pas reçu.
Maintenant, c'est une crise, parce que nous avons des bénéficiaires qui attendent le paiement et nous ne pouvons pas les payer parce que nous n'avons pas de carnet de chèques. Comme un exemple, tous les jours nous perdons de l'argent parce que nous ne pouvons pas payer notre architecte pour commencer la restauration sur notre appartement.
Je suis sûr que vous comprenez: Nous ne pouvons pas voyager à Paris pour prendre un carnet de chèques. S'il vous plaît, envoyez le carnet de chèques par un courrier comme DHL J'espère recevoir le carnet de chèques dans deux jours, parce qu'il faut que nous payons nos bénéficiaires cette semaine.
S'il vous plaît, l'e-mail ou m'appellez avec une mise à jour quand vous recevez cet e-mail à votre retour. Nous sommes vraiment dans une crise.
Merci beaucoup.

Basically, what it says is, HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Congratulations, Jordan

Jordan Hasay, the 16-year-old student at Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, came in 10th place in the women's 1500 meters yesterday at the Olympic trials--not enough to gain a spot on the Olympic team (the top 3 go to the Games), but a great finish, nonetheless.

She even got a mention in the NY Times today. Way to go!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Jordan! Jordan! Jordan!

Jordan Hasay, 16, who will be a senior at Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, made it to the FINALS of the Women's Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters!!!

We don't personally know Jordan, but we have watched her track career unfold over many years. Make sure to watch the Olympic trial final Sunday night!!

Here is a link to her race, where she came in 5th to go on to the finals in the Olympic trials:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Diversity much?

One big reason why we love New York City (click here)

July 3: Rachel's 20th birthday!!

The day started off nicely, with Rachel's good friend Karina arriving from California at 8:30 a.m. Mom and Rachel met her at JFK, then brought her home with us to chill out for awhile. Rachel had class, so while she learned about Belief, Truth and Knowledge, we hung out in the Bronx. :-)

After her class ended, Jeff, Mary & Karina met Rachel in the Village and had a nice dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called Red Bamboo. Then we took a leisurely walk through SoHo and decided to head home so Rachel could enjoy some of her gifts--the full set of the Bourne movies on DVD.

Like the life of Jason Bourne, it has been an action-packed week, with Rachel returning home from Croatia late Saturday night, starting summer school on Monday, going to the ballet with Mom on Tuesday (another birthday present) and then her birthday Thursday.

Of course, today is July 4, so more festivities will be on tap for today! Rachel and Karina are planning to hang out in Central Park. Jeff and Mary are going to try and catch a movie as well as cash in on a sale at Paragon (a nice sporting goods store). As for fireworks, we'll see how massive the crowds are down in the Battery Park area.