Yes, the old Toro lawn mower, that the Handyman rebuilt last month works like a charm. In the last issue of Bau Family Online News, the Handyman reported that instead of paying the dealer $160 to replace wheels, change cutting blades and oil and clean the filters, he bought the parts for $55 and did the repairs by himself.
Well, that was a good solid savings, but only if the lawn mower worked after the fix up?! Would it work?
Mid-May was the first time the lawn needed cutting. The Handyman went to the service station and purchased 1 gallon of fresh gasoline. He pilled the lawn mower's tank and pulled on the starter cord. Varroom! The mower started and the engine ran smoothly. Not bad for an 18 year old mower...new drive wheels, and new blade. Not bad at all.
Kevin Earns His MBA
In May, Kevin, along with about 600 classmates received his MBA from Columbia's School of Business. Paul, Rachel, David and Ron made the trip to Manhattan to join in the graduation festivities. The week preceding graduation, the students had events like rock climbing, a game at Yankee Stadium with the World Champions, concerts and museum trips, and much more. The out of town guests attended the Business School Recognition ceremony held at City Center on Tuesday evening, the 15th.
The second big event for the out of towners was the University graduation ceremony... over 20,000 attendees, held on Wed, the 16 at the Morningside Heights campus. The central campus was filled with graduates and guests from the top of Low Library steps and the down the walks and grass to the doors of Butler Library. The weather was perfect, sunny and cool. Inspite of the crowd size, the stand-by Emergency Medical teams had "zero business" the whole day.
In addition to the Business School, Columbia's other schools were there to celebrate as well. These included, the College, the Engineering School, Physicians and Surgeons, Barnard, Dentistry, Nursing, Journalism, Internation Studies, Teachers' College, Architecture, Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and a few more. The Business School graduates gave a "class gift" of $850,000 to the University. This was the largest class gift in the University's history and the largest gift given by any class at any time, any where in the world! And this is before the graduates have even gone out to work. Can you imagine that?
Columbia's President Rupp was the only keynote speaker. He delivered a nice talk about getting envolved with the greater world around us. One interested statistic he told the audience was that Americans preceived that they were generous and gave a lot to the underdeveloped countries. In fact we were told, that of the ten top developed nations, the United States ranked "dead last" on a per capita basis in giving aid to the poorer nations. At the end of World War II, with the Marshall Plan, the USA was number 1 in giving. But in the last decade, with isolationist feelings running higher, the USA has dropped from number 1 to number 10.
10 Year Reunion at Exeter
In late May, just before taking off for Costa Rica, Kevin will attend his 10th Year Reunion at Phillips Exeter Academy. It's been 10 years and he is looking forward to seeing the changes in the school and reuniting with many old school mates.
Two to three days packed with events are scheduled by the school. Kevin is very much looking forward to the trip back to New Hampshire.
Taro! Taro! Taro!
No, this is not the Japanese version of Peral Harbor! It is one of Anthony's favorite pastries at the Dim Sum restaurant, the Ocean Harbor in Philadelphia's Chinatown. Located on Race Street between 10th and 11th, Grandpa Paul takes him there to eat about once a month.
Little Boy seems to enjoy many types of Dim Sum. He eats the vegetable dumplings, then he eats the shrimp dumplings, then he wants an egg custard... getting kind of full.
Anthony will sit quietly in his high chair for the entire meal while others eat and chat. He is quiet and enjoys his own meal. For a 2 1/2 year old, Anthony is easy to take out to restaurants. Then again, this has been true most of his life.
Paul Turns 60!
On June 2, 2001 Rachel hosted a 60th Birthday Party for Paul in the Weston home. Over 20 friends and relatives joined in the "completion of one life cycle". In the Chinese tradition, the 60th is the "big one". It's the biggest birthday celebration of one's life.
Well Paul was delighted that so many close friends and relatives were able to come to the party. Kevin was home and about to depart for 2 months in Latin America. David and Heidi and Anthony rode the Acela train from Philadelphia... a long ride for Heidi who is 7 months pregnant..
Cousins Roy and Margie visited all the way from Silicon Valley. Cousins Mryna and Michael came down from Golfstown, N.H. Cousins Vivian and Harvey drove up from NYC. Deanna, Larry, and newly weds Alyson and Paul Mellet all flew in together on the Delta Shuttle. From the Boston area we had: brother Ron, the Sanfords of Natick, Ed Byrnes, niece Michelle and Jon, the Tsai's of Wayland.
Honestly, the hosts miss counted the guests and ran out of seating at the dining table... just sweezed in a couple more chairs! The main course for dinner was a roasted pig which was purchased in Chinatown. This was complemented with traditional birthday noodles, lots of veggies and a birthday cake.
In mid-June, the Weston Handyman set about painting(restaining) the house in Weston by himself. This year he had some assistance from Kevin who was home for a week between getting his MBA and taking off for his summer Spanish lessons in Costa Rica. The Handyman also hired another handyman to paint the higher portions of the house... thus saving him the fear of climbing the tall laddlers and walking the roof.
The professional contractors wanted between $5000 and $7000 to paint the house. Total out-of pocket cost including the payroll for the handyman, stain, brushes, rollers, etc. was less than $500. The the quality of the workmanship was better than that of most "pros".
Boy, were the Handyman's muscles sore after all that brush work. But the feeling of accomplishment and big savings made it all worthwhile.
The Pearl Villa Restaurant is located on Tyler Street in Boston's Chinatown. It is only about 6 months old, but boy o'boy, are you in for a treat if you try this eatery.
This is the best Chinese food we have had in any restaurant in the entire Boston area! Yup! The Weston Food Critics' wife said,"This is the first restaurant in Boston that comes up to Hong Kong standards. We had seven different dishes. Each of them had a very different flavor. Each of them was OUTSTANDING.
Steve Tsai had this advice. Better go here often before business get too good or the chef leaves and the quality goes down.
Have you tried one of the new Premium Theaters? There is one in Framingham, Massachusetts associated with the General Cinema 14 on Flutie Pass. The Premium Theaters are like private showing rooms. They have big leather seats, cost about 60% more than the general admission price of conventional movie theaters and provide you with all the free softdrinks and all the free popcorn you can eat.
Viewers younger than 21 are not allowed to purchase tickets to a Premium Theater. We tried it over the 4th of July along with Steve and Eva Tsai. All of us found the extra cost of admission to be of good value, given the extra room of big seats and all the free snacks.
After the show, we decided to try the dinner menu. The restaurant was conveniently located in the theater lobby. Dinner cost us about $20 per person and all of us were disappointed in the meal. Not really bad, but mediocre was all the 4 dinner thought of it! However, the Premium Theater itself was a fun experience and a good value.
A Continental & Russian style restautant located in midtown Manhattan at 58th and 7th Avenue, Petrossian's was recommended by Larry Hui as a good place to eat, good food and good value. Well, we're happy to report that all 3 were true.
Following Kevin's Columbia University Business School recognition ceremony at City Center(on W 55th Street) we walked up to the restaurant for our 8:30 PM reservations. The docor was delightful and fresh. The staff were friendly and capable. But the true delight came with the food.
All the guests at our table decided to try the "fixed price" menu which was $34.00. I included appetizer, entree and a desert and coffee. Everyone was crazy happy with their appetizer... mostly caviar. Then things got even better with the main entree. Rachel said that her salmon was the "best she had ever eaten" and the portions were generous. Paul had a shoulder steak and had trouble with the large portion. All were full, but we dared not skip the desert. Again, delightful. All three courses for all the guests were hits... big hits!
So, Petrossian's gets a recommendation from the Weston Food Critic. Great ambience, great service and great food... and at an affordable price. Go and try it!
Kevin needed a car in Boston for dental appointments and Exeter class reunions, etc., so Paul decided to take the train to Philadelphia. With the Acela Regional trains (not as fast nor as expensive as the Acela Express trains) one can make the trip from Boston's Route 128 station to Philadelphia in less that six hours. That's a lot faster than a couple of years ago.
The trains are clean and comfortable and the "cafe car" offer great snacks to make the trip more like a holiday. The wash rooms are large and clean too and one can get up and walk around more easily than on a bus or an airplane.
So, instead of driving six hours alone and getting sleepy and stressed out, Paul enjoyed the leasurely train ride and napped about half the trip down. What a luxury!
This Dreamworks film in an animated movie about Shrek, an ogre who lives in a swamp and is commisioned to the bad Lord Farquaad to rescue the Princess Fiona who is imprisoned in a castle by a fire eating dragon.
Eddie Mruphy plays the role of Shrek's friend and companion, a donkey who will do anything for Shrek except to stop talking and talking.
This is an amazingly entertaining film... perhaps the best movie the Weston Movie Critic has seen in 2001. Then again, so far, 2001 has been a particularly bad year for good films! It's a family movie, good for viewers of all ages.
4th of July
Want to celebrate Independence Day with a big parade? This year Paul and Rachel were invited to view the Natick Parade with Fred and Mary Sanford of Natick. It tured out to be a real treat. The Natick Parade for the 4th of July turned out the be the biggest parade in the state of Massachusetts... even bigger than the Boston Parade!
Between the marchers and the parade watcher, there were more people there than General George Washington had with him at Valley Forge.