Daily Archives: January 6, 2009

Maybe Walt Noel should follow suit

Austrian banker drops from sight after Madoff’s arrest. Word is that Sonja Kohn marketed Bernie investment opportunities to Russian oligarchs who aren’t known for having a sense of humor about losing their money. So it makes sense that she’d want to take a little vacation far from the madding crowd. But if, as seems probable, Walt’s Fairfield Greenwich Group sold the same crap to Colombians, I’d think he might want to find where Sonja’s hiding and join her there.

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CFLs and a call for civil disobedience

Why don’t a hundred people or so gather at the Capitol and each drop a CFL bulb in the new billion dollar Visitors Center (the one Harry Reid likes so much because he is now shielded from his constituents’ BO)? What good would that do? Bring the government to a complete screeching halt, if these EPA cleanup guidelines are followed.

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are lighting more homes than ever before, and EPA is encouraging Americans to use and recycle them safely. Carefully recycling CFLs prevents the release of mercury into the environment and allows for the reuse of glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses. Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection released a CFL breakage study report Exit EPA Disclaimer on February 25, 2008. EPA has conducted an initial review of this study and, as a result of this review, we have updated the CFL cleanup instructions below.

Pending the completion of a full review of the Maine study, EPA will determine whether additional changes to the cleanup recommendations are warranted. The agency plans to conduct its own study on CFLs after thorough review of the Maine study.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal below. Please also read the information on this page about what never to do with a mercury spill.

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

  • Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

  • Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.

Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Air Out the Room During and After Vacuuming

  • The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window before vacuuming.
  • Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

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Do people at the LA Times read this blog?

Of course not. So that liberal bastion out west must have figured out all by itself what a horrible, idiotic device we’ve created in the compact fluorescent bulb. You do realize, don’t you, that Congress has mandated the exclusive use of these things by 2014? This is exactly what happens when politicians run around and look for symbolic laws they can enact to make it look as though they’re addressing a problem. Bad move.

The best part? The damn things are only made in China – that’s right, the same wonderful people who have poisoned our food, smeared lead all over our children’s clothes and toys and even, God knows how, shipped us toxic drywall for our houses will now be supplying the entire country with mercury-leaking glass torpedoes. But I’m sure they’ll be as careful in the maufacturing of these bulbs as Congress was in demanding their use. So that’s a relief.

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Gary Shilling: Housing bust to continue

“No end in sight”, says he. I’ll give the man this much: if he’s right that excess inventory is the critical problem, we have a big problem here in Greenwich.

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Why is it that only foreigners still have a sense of honor?

German billionaire throws himself in front of train. Lost huge by betting wrong on Volkswagen shorts. A Frenchman and now a German knew how to express their genuine remorse at losing investors’ money. The Japanese, of course, have always followed the Samurai way. Not this country’s bad guys and dupes. Surely there was a subway between Bernie Madoff’s offices and his penthouse.

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Do you know me?

Joe Biden (he was the guy elected VP of the United States back in November) shows up at sold-out movie. No one notices him, recognizes him or offers him a ticket.

Last fall I said that one good reason to hope for an Obama victory was that it would remove Biden from the Senate, where he was still capable of causing harm, and burying him in the obscurity of the Vice President’s office. I’m delighted that that prediction, at least, has come true so quickly.

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Trending down

49 Hillside Drive, new construction that’s been for sale since September ’07 (when it was still under construction) has drifted down from its original asking price of $5.990 million to, today, $4.989. That spares it from being included in the other 54 (53, now) spec homes on the market asking $4.995 and above, but that’s about it.

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A pox on the whole friggin’ island

Now that the Noels are pariahs, their Mustique neighbors are  clamoring to tell everyone how much they despised them.

One local resident told Page Six that “the No. 1 comment this winter was how much nicer it is on the island without the Noels.”

Even the local watering holes picked up on neighbors’ joy at the brood’s absence, with one well-known bar featuring a “No Noel” cocktail, which our source described as “a take on a mojito.”

The Connecticut family traveled to its 42-sleeper mansion, Yemanja, annually until this year…

But Walter, his wife, Monica, their five daughters – Corina, Lisina, Alix, Marisa and Ariane – and all their husbands and children “are definitely not missed,” said our peeved insider. “They didn’t have many real friends here.”

The Noels apparently had a tendency to travel all over the island in an aggressive, pack-like fashion.

“If you were playing tennis, they would all come onto the side of the courts and talk so loudly you had to stop your game because you couldn’t concentrate,” said our tipster. The Noels built their own court this year, and according to the source, “we were all so relieved they would not come to the main island courts anymore.”

At the beach, the Noels “would send their staff down early in the morning and set up rows of beach chairs, kids’ toys and towels, taking over half the beach” – and then “not even appear until the afternoon.”

Those “unfortunate enough to be in one of the two island bars when they showed up en masse,” we’re told, would see the Noels “pulling chairs from other tables and re-arranging furniture to make space for themselves. They had no regard for other groups.”

What a bunch of sniveling suck-ups. So no one liked the Noels – everyone’s good time was ruined when the clan showed up. And where were these anonymous tipsters when Walter was on top of his game? Remaining silent, hoping that the glow of Greenwich wealth might reflect on them. Old Walt may be doomed to impoverishment in his last days but if he gets rid of these awful “friends”, I’d say he was better off than he might first have imagined. Ugh.

 

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Chavez to Poor Americans: “Drop Dead”

Hugo Chavez has terminated his PR stunt of donating home heating oil to the wretched of America. Joseph Kennedy, a staunch supporter of Mr. Chavez and his long-time flack here in the United States, referred all questions to cousin Caroline, the new Senator from New York who said, “Well, it’s like, you know, kind of a bummer, you know? Because, like, you know, who’s gonna pay to heat these homes now, you know?”

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Obama – Politics, for a change!

Nancy Pelosi moves today to silence all dissent.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to re-write House rules today to ensure that the Republican minority is unable to have any influence on legislation. Pelosi’s proposals are so draconian, and will so polarize the Capitol, that any thought President-elect Obama has of bipartisan cooperation will be rendered impossible before he even takes office.

I don’t see what the fuss is about – now that the Democrats have eliminated the environment of corruption, placed Charlie Rangel in charge of Ways and Means and Chris Dodd heading the Senate Banking Committee, we’re in good hands. Who needs Republicans or anyone else who isn’t with the program?

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What’s bad for Manhattan is bad for Greenwich

NYT: Striking Decline Seen in Manhattan Real Estate Market

WSJ: Manhattan’s Sterling Real-Estate Market Begins to Tarnish

CNN: NY Real estate Defies Gravity – So Far

CNN’s headline may be chirpier than its competitors but the underlying story is the same: prices down 20%, fourth quarter contracts down 53%. Says one broker: “Activity halted after September 15th.” In the past, New Yorkers have sold their city coops and plowed the proceeds into Greenwich houses. I hope they’ll continue to do so but (a) they’ll be waiting much longer before their property sells and (b) those proceeds will be grossly diminished. Ouch.

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Builder’s Special

48 Parsonage Road was built on land that sold for $2,440 million in May, 2007 in what was probably the last hurrah for Greenwich land sales for the foreseeable future. The builders offered their new house for $7.850 in May, 2008 and couldn’t sell it so yesterday they knocked almost a million dollars off the price, leaving it for now at $6.895 million. That’s not likely to do the trick in this market, but do you remember when “pre-construction pricing” offered a discount from the finished price? Things are quite the other way around now.

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Here’s an eye-opening price drop

317 Stanwich Road sold in 1995 for $1.8 million. The new owners did extensive renovations over the years and put it up for sale in January 2008 for $3.850 million. I thought at the time that they might have trouble getting their price because, although I liked the house, it has a quirky layout and there are two unbuilt-on lots next to it that, one day, will cause some construction havoc. Not fatal, but enough to affect its price. The market agreed with my assessment and the house didn’t sell despite a number of price reductions. But today it was marked down to just $2.250 million. Even ignoring the inflation of the past 14 years, that’s a remarkable price, in my opinion. Shape of things to come?

UPDATE: A reader asked about the owners applying for a sub-division of this land and wondered whether that accounted for the price drop. In fact (I just checked, I didn’t notice this before) the land has always been listed as:

“2.9 ACRES IN 2 ACRE ZONE SURROUNDED BY LAND TRUST. TAXES ARE AN ESTIMATE BASED ON DONATION OF 1 ACRE OF ORIGINAL 3.9 ACRES TO GREENWICH LAND TRUST.”

Assuming that the donation has not yet been made, I interpret that to mean that you can keep all 4 acres and pay higher taxes or go with the plan and sit on 2.9. Either way, that donation has not played a part in the reduction in asking price.

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