Saturday, 19 December 2009

R.I.P. Anthony Acevedo + Other Window Cleaning News

Anthony Acevedo | Window cleaner, 43: Anthony Acevedo, 43, a window cleaner at some of Philadelphia's most lofty buildings, died in his sleep Monday from heart failure. Mr. Acevedo was responsible for cleaning the windows at One and Two Liberty Place, Mellon Tower, the Independence Blue Cross building, and Commerce Square. Mr. Acevedo tackled dirty windows on high-rise buildings built in the 1980s, and more recently at the Comcast Tower and Kimmel Center. In 1999, he joined Jenkintown Building Services Inc. and branched out to training novice cleaners. He was a master rigger, able to design and set up rigging to place cleaners outside the toughest buildings, friends said. "Big Ant," as friends called him, learned his trade from his father, Augustine.
"I remember seeing him on his father's shoulders as his father walked down the street, pole and bucket in hand, yelling 'Window Man,' as he solicited new accounts," said friend Paul Stringer. By his late teens, Mr. Acevedo was working with the cleaning crews. In recent years, his focus shifted to managing projects and setting rigging. Born and raised in Kensington and Northeast Philadelphia, he graduated from Lincoln High School in 1984. In 1991, he moved with his family to Jim Thorpe, Pa. In 2006, he moved back to the Northeast. Window cleaning, sports, and friends were his passions, said friend Butch Chapman. He is survived by his father; stepmother Nancy; two sisters; and nine brothers. His mother and another brother predeceased him. Funeral services will be from 9 to 11 a.m. today at Edward Melber Funeral Home, 524 Center St., Jim Thorpe. Donations may be made to the Anthony Acevedo Sports Scholarship Fund, c/o Jenkintown Building Services Inc., 101 Greenwood Ave., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046.

Dad's anger as son's killer freed: A devastated dad today called for tougher sentences for drink and drug drivers after his son's killer was set free after serving less than half his sentence. Mark Anderson was jailed for seven years in April 2007 after he knocked Anthony Shepherd from his Yamaha motorbike in Gainsborough Avenue, Whiteleas, leaving him to die by the roadside. Anderson, who was high on drink and drugs when he was behind the wheel of the stolen Vauxhall Astra, later had his sentence reduced to six years on appeal. He admitted causing death by careless driving through consumption of drink or drugs, perverting the course of justice, driving while disqualified and failing to stop or report an accident.
Now Mr Shepherd's dad (pictured), also called Anthony – has received a letter from Northumbria Probation Service saying Anderson is now out after serving less than three years. And although he is banned from entering South Tyneside, the news has still come as a bitter blow to Mr Shepherd who today called for tougher sentences to get the dangers of drink and drug driving message across. Window cleaner Mr Shepherd, 55, said: "I think about our Anthony every day and it just makes you mad this guy – this piece of scum – is now out walking the streets. Is three years all our Anthony's life is worth?
"They need to be kept behind bars for their full sentence. If people know they will spend years in jail if they kill someone by drink driving, it might make them think. "But until it happens, I think you're always going to get people taking chances and not thinking anything's going to happen to them. I just want anyone who has had a drink to stop and think before they get in their cars. "I know nothing is ever going to bring our Anthony back but I have to do what I can to try to persuade people not to drink and drive. "I don't ever want another family to go through what we are going through. It's hell. These people who drink and drive or take drugs and drive; they have no idea the devastation they leave behind – it never leaves you." His call comes as Northumbria Police launched its annual drink and drug campaign aimed at warning motorists not to take risks behind the wheel of their cars this Christmas.

Cheques out, but what does it mean for everyday payments? Cheques will be abolished in 2018. So how will you pay the milkman? Or buy school lunches? And how will small businesses cope? Money writers investigate..
I'm a sole trader who runs a window cleaning business, and many of my customers pay me by cheque. What am I going to do?
This group is expected to see the biggest impact when cheques disappear in 2018, not least because many won't be able to invest in the technology the industry is relying on taking over from cheques. Sole traders tend to take cheques from individuals they may not see from one year to the next, and while their younger customers will probably be happy to adopt alternative forms of payment, their older clients will struggle after 2018. Credit card company Visa Europe says it is working on a mobile-to-mobile payment system. Users could either pre-load their phones with a cash balance, or pre-register it to their debit or credit card. If you need to pay a window cleaner after he has finished doing the house, simply send him a text, and the money instantly moves from your account and into his. Great for those who have mobiles, but not so good for those who don't, who will have to pay in cash, or ring up their bank to make money transfer.
It's a similar story with the internet. PayPal already lets individuals move money via the email system. A PayPal customer sending a friend (or window cleaner) the money simply logs on the PayPal site, and, two clicks of a mouse later, the money arrives in his account. Movements from a PayPal account linked to a bank account incur no charge, while those registered to a credit card face a 3.4% charge, plus 20p. If the window cleaner wanted to set up a PayPal business account, he would pick up the transaction charges, which fall in size, as the number of transactions grows.
However, it will probably cost less than operating a business bank account, which charge businesses to deposit cheques. For example, HSBC's fee-free business direct account lets holders pay in up to 20 cheques a month, after that they cost 75p each. Other business accounts charge anywhere between 30p and 60p, but these incur monthly charges.

Belen’s ‘Miracle Window’ is still a mystery: Ramon Baca y Chavez and his family were well known and well respected in Belen in the 1920s. Don Ramon had served as the community's justice of the peace and police judge for many years. Always eager to improve their well kept home on Gilbert Avenue off South Main Street, the Bacas had bought a new windowpane from the Becker Dalies store in December 1926. Measuring 20 inches by 32 inches, the window had cost only $1.15, or roughly $13.50 in today's money. Sixty three-year-old Ramon and 59-year-old Eulalia had not noticed anything unusual when they had installed their new window. But that had all changed on June 1, 1927.
On that Friday morning, Eulalia had returned from attending daily mass and was cleaning her backyard when she glanced up at her east-facing attic window. To her surprise, an image of Christ ascending into heaven was clearly evident in the window in colors of soft blue, green, red and brown. Eulalia called Don Ramon to come see the breathtaking vision. Devout Catholics, the couple was sure they were witnessing a miracle, especially because the image of Christ had appeared in their window shortly after the Lenten season had ended.
Word of the miracle window soon spread through Belen and beyond. Men, women and children flocked to the Bacas' home to see the image for themselves. By June 27, the Belen News reported, "Thousands of people from different parts of the state have motored to Belen to see the strange apparition." Many more visitors came by the Bacas' house during the Belen fiestas later that summer. Believers prayed at the window, asking for special blessings for all those who had traveled from far and wide to attend the famous fiestas.
The Bacas' window became so well known that the Southwestern Indian Detours Co. made it a special destination by 1928. The Detours offered Santa Fe Railway passengers opportunities to interrupt their train travel to take excursions by car to local attractions, including Indian pueblos and Spanish mission ruins. The Southwestern Indian Detours may have profited from the miracle window, but the Baca family never did. Many people offered to buy the window, and a showman promised the Bacas thousands of dollars if they would allow him to build a fence around the family's property and sell tickets for the chance to see the image.
But the Bacas never considered selling tickets, souvenirs or refreshments, although these commercial ventures may well have made them rich. Instead, the Bacas graciously displayed their window at all hours of the day. Like custodians of a sacred shrine, they believed that it was their religious duty to share their miracle and their faith with others. Many priests and nuns had joined the crowds of reverent visitors. In fact, so many visitors arrived to see the image that the Bacas began to board up the window at night, for fear that someone might hurl a stone or otherwise damage the miracle left in their care.
Visitors soon realized that the image of Christ could only be seen in daylight, and could not be seen from the attic's interior. Located about 12 feet above ground level, the image could be viewed from any angle in the yard below. Some said that if they gazed long enough, they could see the Christ figure's arms move. Observers saw as many as three images in the Bacas' window. Visiting the site on July 1, 1927, Jim Whittington of Santa Fe reported that when he stood below the window he could see "a figure of the Christ child seated in a chair with a basket of roses nearby. Standing further from the window the figure of Christ, the man, could be seen. Standing still further away the figure of Christ's mother is clearly outlined."
Of course there were skeptics among those who came to see the window. Doubting Thomases wanted to examine the window from inside the house to see if the strange phenomenon was caused by light reflecting off an image on the attic's wall. No such image was found in the vacant attic. In fact, a black cloth was placed over the window's interior surface, but rather than eliminating the image, the dark background just made it clearer. Others wondered if the image was a reflection of an object in the surrounding area. After careful scrutiny, no such object was discovered.
Despite Eulalia Baca's objections, glass experts arrived from Albuquerque to test the window, cleaning it inside and out with various chemicals, acids and even gasoline. But nothing altered or affected the image. According to another theory, advanced by a Santa Fe newspaper, "pictures may have been put in the glass by some process similar to that used in making stained glass windows and through an error this picture glass was sent to Belen." Countless visitors attempted to photograph the apparition from the Bacas' yard or roof. A movie company even tried to film the scene for a newsreel to be shown in movie theatres. But not even the most sophisticated cameras could capture the image. Once developed, pictures and movies always came out blurred.
Over the years, only one person ever photographed the window successfully. Using a simple, low-cost camera, Fernando Gabaldon of Albuquerque had accomplished what all others had failed to do. A poor invalid, Gabaldon made his unique photograph into postcards, and asked Judge Baca to sell them to visitors for 25 cents each. The judge agreed, giving all the proceeds to the image's only successful photographer. Like many others, Fernando Gabaldon had come to see the Bacas' window in hopes that a miracle might cure his illness. Some visitors were cured, although others, including Gabaldon, were not. The window was never known as a healing site like the legendary Santuario in Chimayó or other holy sites in New Mexico or the world. With time, the image was said to have faded, and the number of visitors declined. The Great Depression of the 1930s limited travel for many would-be pilgrims from beyond Belen.
The Bacas brought the miracle window with them when they moved to a house on Dalies Avenue. Tragically, the window cracked in the move, but the pane was not shattered and the image of Christ was untouched. Many considered the window's survival a miracle in itself. The Bacas installed the glass in the second floor window of their new home so that visitors could still see it from the street below. When Don Ramon and Eulalia died in 1950 and 1951, respectively, their daughters, Ana Maria and Beatrice, continued to live in the house and display the famous image of Christ.
Meanwhile, the house on Gilbert Avenue was sold to Bob Garley in 1967. After water damaged the property in the terrible flood of 1969, the Garleys remodeled the building and have lived there ever since. Until a local historian came by on a recent Saturday morning, no one had ever asked them about the miracle window. The only unusual phenomena the family has experienced are when Bob's daughter, Lydia Pino, and other relatives sometimes hear strange knocking on doors and inexplicable footsteps on the staircase. Many Belen residents still remember seeing the miracle window at its Dalies Avenue location. Some recall uttering prayers of devotion as they passed by, especially if they had loved ones in the military during times of war. Some prayed as they walked to class in the old high school several blocks away, especially when they faced final exams or other personal challenges.
The miracle window was moved for a third time when Ana Maria and Beatrice moved to Albuquerque, and put the glass into storage in the early 1970s. In the mid-1980s Phil Baca, Ramon and Eulalia's grandson, brought the window to his home in Longmont, Colo., for safekeeping. Leaders of the Valencia Country Historical Society learned of the window's long history, discovered its location in Colorado and helped negotiate its return to the Rio Abajo in 1999. As generous as ever, the Baca family lent the window to the historical society, which kept the priceless item in a vault in the local Wells Fargo bank until its recent move to an equally safe place in town. The Valencia County Historical Society displayed the miracle window at a large reception in the Wells Fargo bank building on February 27, 2000. Anthony Baca presented a brief history of his grandparents' window and led the singing of "De Colores," a song he called a "reflection of the colors and visions that have been seen in this window" for more than 70 years.
For many, Belen's greatest mystery remains a mystery. What a New Mexico Magazine author wrote in June 1941 remains true today: "To date, no one has given a satisfactory (scientific) explanation concerning the vision." For others, Belen's greatest miracle remains a miracle. The image may have faded with time, but the faith it inspired in thousands remains as strong and as lasting as ever. (The Valencia County Historical Society will display the Miracle Window at the Harvey House Museum through the month of December during regular museum hours, starting on Sunday, Dec. 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.) Other related blogs here.

Residents feel exposed by city's order: Yan, a government employee in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, says his wife paid more than 700 yuan ($100) this week to get a protruding balcony cage outside the window of their bedroom removed. The worker, who declined to give his full name, said the couple feared the metal bars over their window, fitted to keep their home safe from burglars, might put his government job at risk. As a result, "we have to hang our clothes to dry in the room because our apartment doesn't have a real balcony," he said. Starting in late November, the local government began handing out an order to its employees, telling them to remove protruding window cages from their homes before Dec 20. The order also warned leaders of government departments in Kunming that they would face serious consequences - believed to include firings - if they failed to accomplish assignments. The order was issued as the city pushed to win the title of National Sanitary City, awarded by the central government. The order from Kunming has drawn widespread opposition from those affected, who complain about the inconvenience and loss of property. They also worry about the risk of their homes being ransacked by burglars.
At a press conference on Dec 13, Chen Yong, deputy mayor of Kunming, said protruding window cages were damaging the look of the city, encroaching on public space and disrupting the work of the city's sewerage department, local media reported. Chen said some people had even attached cages onto the outside of windows and added platforms, using the space for kitchen functions and washing. Such additions are commonly seen on homes built in the 1980s and early 1990s that do not have balconies. The government is also trying to get such additions removed from homes owned by regular citizens - not just government employees. They have until Oct 1 to comply. Local officials acknowledged they had run into resistance from citizens and government employees. More than 150,000 sq m of space attached to more than 8,670 households had been removed as of 6 pm on Thursday, according to a municipal official surnamed Liu who is in charge of carrying out the order. The government will try to prevent a surge of burglaries by helping with anti-theft initiatives and push to keep the renovation cost reasonable, Liu said. Chen, the deputy mayor, has reportedly promised that there will be a compensation plan, aimed at offsetting the cost of the work, in place by Dec 25. "The plan is still under discussion," Liu added.

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