Daily Archives: January 7, 2009

Boil him in oil

Portrait of an 87-year-old man who trusted Madoff.


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No toys, but they’ll be safe!

Beginning February, new lead rules for toys means no used toys at thrift shops. Are there no FAO Schwartzs? No Kay-Bees? Oh! No, there aren’t. Well, perhaps Neiman Marcus will start carrying toys.

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Greenwich raises wussies

Here in Greenwich our precious children are either driven to school or escorted there by their mommies. Down south, they raise ’em tougher. Six year old Virginian, determined to get to school, borrows mom’s car and drives 10.4 miles before crashing. Said he learned to drive by playing “Grand Theft Auto”, in case you were wondering.

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Bring back global warming!

Snow, cold sweep Europe – 12 dead

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Public education – it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!

Chicago schools spend $67,000 on cappuccino makers. Higher taxes because there’s not an ounce of fat left in our education budgets.

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Wrap them in toilet paper and ship them to Detroit

You may not want those damn CFL bulbs but Detroit needs them. Don’t forget the toilet paper.

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Sentimental Journey

As noted yesterday, Bernie Madoff  faces revocation of his bail tomorrow and may soon start his lifetime stay behind bars. I don’t think that development will cause too many of his fellow citizens to lose sleep but I’m a little sympathetic to his lawyers’ explanation as to why he bundled up a million plus bucks worth of watches and shipped them to relatives:

“Mr. Madoff gathered a number of watches that he had collected over the course of years, knowing that, due to the sudden change in his circumstances, he would never have an occasion to wear these watches again. To Mr. and Mrs. Madoff, the value of these items was purely sentimental,” the lawyers wrote.

I’d be sentimental over a lost million myself, and unlike Madoff, I have yet to experience what rolling around in fifty billion dollars feels like. For one who has, the loss of even a tiny slice probably hurts even more than for us mortals – the rich are, after all, far more sensitive than us. 

So let’s give him a break, eh?

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Can we send him to Club Gitmo?

Top U.S. Islamic cleric threatens U.S. on Egyptian TV. Death and destruction promised by this permanent U.S. resident but I’m not worried; Islam is a religion of peace.


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Sad news from the bankruptcy court

A reader sends me this link: the manufacturer of Acorn and Deck Homes has gone into receivership. A sale as a going concern will be attempted but in this economy I doubt that will happen. Too bad – these were smart, innovative houses that were customized from existing designs, prefabricated and assembled on site. Done right, and the ones I’ve seen all were, you ended up with a terrific post and beam house with lots of open space and a great, airy feel. I liked them and always harbored a hope that I could build one one day. Shucks.


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Will work for experience


My beautiful, smart-as-a-whip 21-year-old, Sarah was just turned down for a summer internship at another blogger’s website due to her “lack of experience”. Leaving aside the question of what precise experience is needed to blog – 50 million idiots, including this one, prove otherwise – Sarah writes like a demon, graduated from National Outdoor Leadership School’s semester in Mexico which means she can kayak your ass off and lead you out of the mountains when you’re lost and she’s got a demonstrated ability to endure boring, awful jobs like putting up with obnoxious restaurant patrons here in Greenwich. She’s fluent in Spanish, too, if you’d like to be abused in that language.

When I graduated with my degree in Philosophy long ago I was shocked to discover that few employers were willing to hire a 23-year-old philosopher with no work experience, but I was demanding to be paid. Sarah isn’t (although it would be nice if she were, said her tuition-paying father). What can she do? How about running your hedge fund? Could she do worse than your present manager? Will you have to pay her a management fee for losing half your money? Nah, she’ll do that for free.

So if you need a great kid to hang around your offices and be useful this summer and you’re anywhere in NYC or Fairfield County, let me know:




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You can’t buy a 100 watt incandescent bulb in England but …

"Tastes like rattlesnake!"
“Tastes like rattlesnake!”

You can still enjoy a delicious plate of squirrel – jolly good! I’ve hunted (and eaten) them myself. Not bad. Any .22 LR load will work but if I could find an old Winchester Model 70 that accommodated a Hornet cartridge I’d be tempted to use that.

UPDATE: Found one but it’s selling for $3,595 (pictures). I’ve got a pre ’64 Model 70 chambered for a .22LR and I guess I’ll stick with that. Unless you want to buy house, very soon.

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Video of Walter and Monica being called worms

Enterprising blogger culls the juicy bits from a BBC documentary on the nut job who bought Mustique in (I think) 1957, lost it due to being a financial idiot and been resentful ever since. He lays into the Noels but as Caroline Waxler of Business sheets.com points out, while he is simply dreadful, “the Noels are perfectly gracious”. That doesn’t surprise me; friends of Walter Noel all say the same thing about him. Of course, they probably didn’t invest with him, but ….

UPDATE: I’ve now watched the video – fascinating. And the Noels are indeed delightful while Lord Glenwhatever is simply frightful. The New York Observer ran an article on the making of the documentary – the lout of an Englishman doesn’t come off very well in that, either.

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Watch this space

398 Stanwich Road, new construction in 2004, sold that year for $5.5 million. It’s now back for sale again, this time at $6.345. As I recall, it was a well built house, not much of a backyard (pond? wetlands?) but a decent side yard. Old graveyard to its left (facing it from street), which tends to scare some buyers off – not me. In what we will probably recall as “the good old days”, 2.6% annual appreciation wouldn’t have seemed preposterous. I’m curious to see whether that’s still true.

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We’re working on it!

Reader “Pulled up in OG” demands,

Enough of this light bulb crap . . . where’s Hooper’s butt? “

I found this photo, which may be the delectable Miss Hooper, but I can’t tell if that’s an Andy tattoo or not.



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Doctor Deals

As a lawyer, I was sometimes asked to evaluate limited partnership real estate proposals for clients. The worst ones we labelled “Doctor Deals” because only a doctor, too busy with his practice to pay attention to finances, would fall for the bait. One that I remember offered a hugely overpriced position in a ski condominium project but offered to toss in a time share and two cheap mountain bikes. Such a deal.

Now builders of unwanted mansions are trying the same thing, only in this case they’re proffering a genuine Bentley if you’ll take a $5 million pile of lumber off their hands. Here’s what you do, no legal fee charged: offer $3 million, take the $2 million you’ve saved and buy a $25,000 Honda Accord. Put the remaining $1,975,000 under your mattress and wait for better times.

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Now we know – not all of Noel’s money is on Mustique

Walt and his Fairfield Greenwich Group were paying kickbacks to bankers who placed their clients’ money with them. So how much of Walt’s 2% -20% fee went to Geneva? He’s not saying. Yet.

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Cottage blues

4 Waterfall Lane, off River Road in Cos Cob, is a nifty little place that really does have its own waterfall and backs up to conservation land. It sold for $730,000 in May of ’02, again in April ’04 for $879. Last year its current owners, after “renovating” it ( a flexible term in real estate) listed it for $1.125 million. That must have been pushing the envelope too far because no one bit; today it’s been marked down to $930,000. What’s its proper price? We’ll know once it sells.

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Don the propeller beanies!

Putin shuts off natural gas supply for Europe. The man is either stark, raving mad or he is just determined to bring down civilization. Either way, and apologists to the contrary, Putin is not our friend.

I can’t believe Obama wanted to be President.

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The curious case of 42 Stag Lane

This 6-acre parcel has quite a history. In December, 2001 it was put up for sale at $1.5 million. It limped along until August, 2004 when its price dropped to $1.375 and that seems to have ignited a bidding war because in October ’04 it sold for $1.512 million. Buyer remorse set in immediately, along with a case of buyer stupidity because three weeks later it was re-listed for $2.2 million. Years passed and in May, 2007 it sold for $1.9 million. That buyer reconsidered and in April 2008 put it up for sale at $2.7, a price that was every bit as successful as the first time someone tried overpricing it. Today it’s been reduced to $1.9 million, back where it started. Will it sell? I don’t know, it’s not right on the Merritt, but it does seem to have more than its share of ponds, swamps and streams, if this picture is representative.

Of note: the town figures this land to be worth $2,675,000. This kind of gross departure from reality is increasingly common so I’ve emailed one of my local lawyer friends who might know something about tax appeals. If he does, I’ll post that information here. It’s going to start coming in handy.

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It will happen here!

Millions of Britons swarming store aisles grabbing the last 100 Watt light bulbs before EU ban goes into effect next week. [hat tip, reader CH)The reader who suggested we’d be imprisoned on terrorism charges if we dropped CFL bulbs in the Capitol was probably right so in the alternative why not send an unbroken bulb to either:


Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (shut down San Francisco!)

U.S. Congress/District Office, 450 Golden Gate Ave., 14th Floor – San Francisco, CA 94102

Barbra Streisand
160 West 96th Street
New York, NY 10025

Or heck, just your own Senator, c/o:

724 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Remember, we’ll be subjected to the same asinine prohibition beginning 2012 so we have just three years to fill Washington with mercury. Mail early and often!

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