Friday, 4 October 2013

Five For Friday

How do you wash over 500 window panes? If you're professional window washer David Michael Corbiere the answer is "one at a time." Corbiere hails from Gatineau, Quebec but if you need to get a hold of him he is currently washing the windows at Roberta Bondar Place... he might be there for a while!

Bangkok: Scraping by in the sky - Developers have studded the Thai capital with such residential and office high-rises. But some have turned into “ghostscrapers” — high-rises that were abandoned in the fallout of Asia’s economic crisis of the late 1990s. Dangling from ropes, window cleaners toil on a high-rise building in Bangkok. Developers have studded the Thai capital, and cities throughout Asia, with such residential and office high-rises. They soar above teeming neighborhoods, gleaming, expensive towers of steel and glass.

But some have turned into “ghost towers” or “ghostscrapers” — high-rises that were abandoned in the fallout of Asia’s economic crisis of the late 1990s. They loom ominously, unfinished, empty and decaying. One of the most notorious is in Thailand’s capital, on the banks of the broad Chao Phraya River in the heart of Bangkok. The 49-story Sathorn Unique building was to contain hundreds of state-of-the-art condos and fancy shops. With dreams of luxury lost in a financial quagmire, the giant concrete shell has stood empty for more than a decade, home to squatters, debris and graffiti — but no windows to clean.

Woman survives fall from 17th floor: Early on Wednesday, the city woke up to the tragic news of a U.S.-returned 31-year-old software engineer falling to her death from the 11th floor of an apartment at Sahakarnagar. A day before that, a woman had a miraculous escape from a similar situation.  Nagarathna (36), a domestic help at the posh Elita Promenade apartment complex in J.P. Nagar 7th Phase, survived a fall from the 17 floor of the balcony she was cleaning early on Tuesday morning. She managed to escape with a broken leg as the railing on the 15 floor broke her fall. She is now recuperating in a private hospital on Bannerghatta Road.

A resident of the apartment, who did not wish to be quoted, said that the woman was cleaning the window pane from the sit out of an apartment on the 17 floor at around 5.30 a.m. The flat’s owner was in the U.S. and has given Nagarathna, a key to the apartment. She had bolted the door from inside and had started cleaning the window pane, reaching it with the help of a metal ladder, when she slipped. “She slipped and fell off, but somehow her leg got stuck to the railing of the sit out of the flat on the 15 floor. It was too early in the morning and to make matters worse, the 15 floor flat was also locked. A few boys living in the neighbouring flat heard her cries and crossed over to the balcony and managed to rescue her. In the meanwhile, the others got the security manager to open the 15 floor apartment and she was taken to hospital,” the apartment resident said.

Nagarathna is said to have suffered a fracture in the leg, but is refusing to speak to the media. She is yet to give a statement to the police. But, those who were witness to the incident, even though much later, called it “the rarest of rare cases,” even going as far as to say Nagarathna is “the luckiest woman to be alive.” 

“I like all my windows. They know who I am. I use one big stick with a squeegee. It’s very easy,” he said. His secret for clean windows? I use water and shampoo. Two drops of shampoo in one gallon of water.
Windows And Memories Of 53 Years At The Hotel Del Coronado: At 84 years old Carlos Flores Gonzalez has a lot of memories. He has seen many people come and go through the windows he has washed at the Hotel del Coronado. He has seen presidents. He has seen children, who used to smear the windows with their tiny fingers, grow up and bring their own children on vacation.

Fifty three years ago Gonzalez was hired as a bus boy at the hotel but soon moved to a job as janitor. He remembers his supervisor Mr. Peralta, a very tall man. “He was the boss and he watched me work. I asked him ‘Why do you watch me all day? I don’t like that,” recalls Gonzalez sitting on a bench outside the hotel which he cleaned pulling out a rag from his pocket before we sat down. “ Mr. Peralta said ‘don’t worry I have something better for you.’ ” So Gonzalez began his career at the Hotel del as a window washer.

Every day he can be seen washing the first floor windows and incredibly enough he is the only one doing it. He is strong and does not look his age. “I like all my windows. They know who I am. I use one big stick with a squeegee. It’s very easy,” he said. His secret for clean windows? I use water and shampoo. Two drops of shampoo in one gallon of water. “But you need to use a squeegee,” he pointed out.

Gonzalez thinks of retiring these days. “My legs are tired. I like working here. I talk to different people everyday. On the ocean side there are lots of people. I remember the little ones who grew up and when they come back remember me and say ‘Hi Carlos.’ I see them telling their children ‘when I was a little boy I came here,’ ” said Gonzalez proudly.

Gonzalez grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and his schooling went up to sixth grade. When he was a young man, his uncle Eduardo, who lived in Vista, told him to call him when Gonzalez was in Tijuana and he would pick him up. “Baja was not a state, it was a territory. It became a state in 1954,” he explained. His first wife passed away and he remarried a younger woman and now has a 17-year-old son. His son from his first marriage is 26 and was deployed to Iraq for two years, he explained.

Gonzalez shuffled through his memories at the Del. “When I started working here my pay was $1.07 as a bus boy then $1.10 an hour as a window washer. Before that I worked in construction for Harmony Homes and made $3.75. But I could eat here three times a day,” he explained. Before the bridge was built, he drove his car onto ferry to cross. “Before it would take close to half-an-hour to cross,” Gonzalez said.

He has seen almost all the presidents who have stayed at the hotel. “Mr. Reagan was very nice. He would come once or twice a year and would say hi. He knew my name,” Gonzalez recalled. He also remembers seeing Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz when he was at the hotel in the 60s. Former First Lady Laura Bush came often with a group of girlfriends. Of Former President Bill Clinton he said, “Best president you saw in your life.”

Gonzalez has seen many changes occur at the hotel. He remembers when the entrance did not have a porte cochere and also the beautiful roses in the rose garden. He pointed out a Chinese restaurant was in the current location of 1500 Ocean and the International Room (now the Emporium) had pictures of cities around the world. He also remembers the small changing rooms around the pool.

Gonzalez smiles when he tells of the time when the hotel pool was filled daily with ocean water. The water was pumped in and sardines got trapped and people would take them home to eat. There was also more wildlife. “You could hear the seals, big ones ... now nothing. There were also many pelicans,” he said.

Gonzalez loved the coffee shop with outdoor tables located at the corner of the ballroom on the west side of the entrance. “It looked beautiful. Lots of people came,” he said. A lot has changed in the 53 years he has worked at the hotel. “There has been a lot of change that cost a lot of money,” he said.

Gonzalez still drives to work from his home in Spring Valley and his work day starts at 6 a.m and ends at 2:30 p.m. “It’s a beautiful place to work,” he said.

Justin Laningham owns Kiss My Glass, a mobile glass repair service.
Glass service that catches your eye (Hanford) — When it came to coming up with a business name, Justin Laningham wanted it to be good. He knew there are multiple glass repair services in the Hanford/Lemoore area, and he wanted his to really stand out. Some went for the straightforward approach. Not Laningham. “I just wanted something catchy,” he said. He thought long and hard about it, and about a year ago, he launched the mobile service called Kiss my Glass.

It’s emblazoned on the side of his extended white van, in green and black, complete with a green kiss mark. It gets attention, it draws comment and — most importantly for Laningham — it sticks in people’s minds. That’s important in an industry where there is intense competition, usually boiling down to price. The name was only the first element of a multi-pronged strategy to get a leg up on the field. His mobility is a key factor. As he drives around, the van serves as a moving billboard, mobile workshop and supply depot all rolled into one.

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