Thursday, June 28, 2012

Great Undertakings

Sometimes, if you think you're not due to die soon, and you can summon the energy and concentration, you embark upon a Great Undertaking.

Great Undertakings are projects that you can't conquer in a day. Or a week. It could be raising a child from diapers to driver's license. It could be shepherding a constitutional amendment through ratification. It could be cutting out a valley with only a glacier for a tool.

Or it could be reading Alice Schroeder's The Snowball, all 800-something pages of it.

Schroeder's biography of financier Warren Buffett portrays his precocious childhood wherein he often sat on his front porch, writing down license plate numbers of cars turning at a nearby corner. Should a crime ever be committed down that street, Warren believed he could hand over numbers and help the police solve the case.

Warren exhibited the same ambition when he landed in the hospital with appendicitis. His doting aunt gave the bored boy a fingerprinting kit and he went about fingerprinting all the nuns in the hospital, just in case they, too, slipped off the straight and narrow way.

Warren's quirky hobbies taught him the art of handicapping, of reading probabilities. This came in quite handy when he grew up, for Warren decided to make a million dollars by age 35. Since he didn't care much for manual labor, he invested in the stock market. Warren met his goal and, like a movie buff who can't stop reaching into the popcorn bucket, just kept on going. The man simply can't help himself. The money keeps rolling in, somewhere in the hundreds of billions by now.

I patiently waded through a few too many pages of financial arcana in hopes of getting the scoop on Warren's personal life. Let's just say that, were he your neighbor, his marital status would have you gossiping over the fence. How in the world did all the parties agree to the arrangement? What made each of them say, "Yep, I'm OK with that"?

After such marathon reading, I rewarded myself with Diana Lopez' Confetti Girl. It's a middle schooler story with a Latino flavor. It's quick, it's lightweight, it's got a likable heroine and her crazy socks.

As for your recipe, we glorified our hot dogs this week with a tasty  Coney Island Sauce.

This recipe celebrates my recent week in Detroit where, every suburb I drove through had a "koney island"-type restaurant, leading me to believe that a lot of Michigan people landed there from the East Coast and they miss the old neighborhoods.