I have an idea for something that I want to post -- but I need to work on it for a while. So I apologize for the break in posts. Hopefully I'll have something by tomorrow.
Well... not that new, but I finally have a picture of myself with short hair. (Which I'm actually growing out again -- a woman's prerogative and all.) Mark took this picture of me with his cell phone so it's a little out of focus. We were waiting in line at the Watch Hospital here in Houston.
This virus, or cold, or monster or whatchamacallit is making me feel rotten. At first I was afraid that I was having a bronchitis relapse, but the cough has thus far not settled in too much. Blech!
And my adorable nephew Isaiah (pictured left) wants to see me – I just know it. He turned One on Saturday and I know that he’s missing me terribly. Don’t worry little Isaiah… I’ll be there just as soon as I can get around without needing a Kleenex shaped fannypack.
Why would a plumber run away? This is the question that I asked myself today – and here’s why:
Yesterday, I found water damage in my laundry room (and in the upstairs hallway.) You can see the laundry room in the image I’ve provided for your viewing pleasure. I called a company that I thought would be able to help me with my little problem. Here is the description that I found of the services they (supposedly) provide, which is the reason I called them in the first place:
Complete Remodeling/ Improvements: Repair & Cleaning: Carpet, Hardwood, Paint And Wallpaper, Tile, Doors And Windows, Roof, Sheet Rock, Foundation, Mold Remediation, A/C Heater Sales And Service, Driveway and Sidewalk, Electrician, Fire Place And Chimney, Handy Person Service's, Interior Design, Patio And Deck, Paint
So… today I waited for their representatives to arrive. Two very nice men showed up to check out my problem. They looked up in the attic, in the laundry room and in the upstairs hallway. While they checked things out I tried to listen -- unless they were talking to me directly, they spoke Spanish with a little English sprinkled in for good measure. Fortunately, I took five years of Spanish so I could understand at least 10% of what they said (and that includes the Engilsh bits.) Basically, they narrowed down the general location of the problem. They were sure that it was in the wall. Hmm... very astute. Anyway, they told me that they needed to go out to their truck so that they could "call Ray at the office" to find out what they should do next.
After a couple of minutes, I saw their truck pulling away from the house. (WHAT!) They just took off. At that exact moment the phone rang and guess what… it was Ray. According to Ray, they were not going to be able to help me. (WHAT!) I calmly asked Ray why they couldn't help me -- I mean I thought this was what they did. He sort of explained that it would require more than they were interested in doing. (WHAT!) I asked him if he knew who did do this kind of thing -- he responded that that was a good question. (DUH!) He told me to call some company whose name I can’t remember now. I tried to look them up online but nothing came up.
So… I panicked internally for a minute and then I decided to call my air conditioning company. Why? Desperation! I was just hoping that they could refer me to someone who could help me out. I told the receptionist my story and she was appropriately shocked. She even warned me about companies that would rip me off -- and she named the one that Ray had recommended. Yikes! She put me in touch with one of the guys who’s done a lot of work on our AC system and he gave me the name of a plumbing company in my area who does good work. He also gave me the name of a contractor who he's worked with and he said that she does great work. And he said I could call him if I had any problems or questions. Phew! I feel a lot better now. Apart from the whole "my house is falling apart" part.
Please feel free to offer me any plumbing or water damage repair advice.
Yesterday I finished my term as a juror in the case of Progressive Youth Services, Inc v. Dallas Fire Insurance Company. This is the second time I’ve received a Jury Duty summons and the second time I’ve been chosen to serve. It was a civil case but it probably wasn’t typical -- we were not being asked to award money to the plaintiff. I believe it would have been a much easier decision if that had been the case. When the judge came to chat with us after the verdict had been read, we asked her why we hadn’t been asked to award any money (I already had my suspicions). She said that it was an unusual case, and that we were welcome to ask the lawyers but that she’d better not discuss the reasons.
Basically, it was a case where the insurance company refused to pay for the defense fees accumulated by Progressive Youth Services, Inc (PYS) when they were sued by the family of a boy who had died (accidental homicide) while living at their facility. Apparently PYS was a facility for juveniles on probation and Dallas Fire was their insurance company.
Here are the questions we were asked to answer “yes” or “no” to:
I’ve removed the names of the people here out of respect, but it is a public case and I think that it wouldn’t be illegal if I had left them in.
1) Was the death of (name removed) caused by an occurrence (accident)?
The jury answered yes to this.
2) Was the death of (name removed) caused by the breach of a professional standard of care by (name removed) due to the rendering or failure to render any professional service?
The jury answered no to this.
Basically, all twelve of us agreed on question one – that the death of this young man was a terrible accident. As for question two, we all agreed that his death resulted from a breech in care that occurred at the youth facility. However, the majority felt that the caregiver wasn’t the person ultimately responsible for his death whereas I and another juror disagreed with their decision. In the end, we did not have to be unanimous in our decision because this was a civil case. As long as the same ten out of twelve jurors agree on both questions, then those ten all must sign their names to it. It felt right to me when I did not sign that paper, it was almost a relief to pass it to the next person. Later in court, when the decision was read, the judge asked each juror if this was his or her decision and two of us responded “no” when it was our turn. I had no trouble giving my answer. And I found that even though I disagreed with the decision I was glad for the plaintiff. (I suppose my sense of mercy is equal to my sense of justice.)
Afterwards, I looked for articles about the case in the newspaper archives, and was able to find a few. They helped me fill in some of the things that were missing such as: was the caregiver charged with the death of the boy - yes. Was he indicted – no; although he was considered responsible for it, the death was ruled an accident.
In the end, I’m more confident in the decision I made and believe that it was the correct one. Although perhaps part of the reason I felt relived was that ultimately I didn’t have to decide. Sure, I was part of the process, but my name wasn’t on the list.
Mark told me that he was going to write a story and he’s been working on it all afternoon. He started working on it in the living room but now he’s moved to his study because I turned on the TV. Before he made the switch he told me that, so far, he’s gotten to page 12. What he was really saying is, “Laurie, prepare yourself, very soon you will read my new story. I can confirm that there are 12 pages and more on the way, please be ready for them.”
I just heard the door to his office creak… he’s coming out.
Was there a slim stack of white papers in his hand? Not yet. But he did inform me that the number has grown to 14 pages. He said it with a smile as he rubbed his hands together like he was warming them. He announced, “This’ll be my first story of the new year.”
Phew. Things are going well… I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Update: He's on to me.
When I was a little girl I would read anything that I could get my hands on. My parents knew that if they couldn’t find their book or magazine, they should check my room first. Which is why they were surprised when my third grade teacher asked them in for a meeting. She explained how she wanted to put me into the group for slow readers because I wasn’t following along in my current reading group. My parents were shocked and asked to see the book that was causing me so much trouble. My dad still sounds gleeful today when he describes how he opened the book, took one look, and laughed. He says that he couldn’t believe how simply it was written and had to explain to my flabbergasted teacher how I devoured books at home. Needless to say, I wasn’t put back into the reading group for slow readers.
But then something happened; as I got older I lost my interest in reading. I still loved books, but the responsibilities of being a teenager got in the way. Friends, school and activities all contributed to the mounting distance between books and me. It wasn’t until after college that I started reading again for pleasure. But it wasn’t the same, I was still too busy and I spent very little time with books. That is, until now…
I’m beginning to love books again. About a year ago, I unexpectedly found myself needing to have a book to read. As soon as I finished that one, I was ready for the next and so on, and so on. Right now, I’m reading Dickens’ Bleak House and I just finished Great Expectations. If you’re interested in either of these, check out this entry in Mark’s blog.