Daily Archives: February 19, 2010

Moving on

So what, exactly, am I supposed to sell here? Hartford seems determined to suck the life blood from Greenwich while I tell New Yorkers to come here to escape their own parasites? I’ve done my best to avoid intentional untruths and omissions my whole life and I don’t think I’m ready to start lying this late in my time on earth. So if I’m gearing up to leave this land of vampire looters, how do I make a living while preparing to leave? It’s a quandary.

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Old Guard, and what’s happening

From an old realtor:

Btw, A.O., Ogilvy’s strategy of not revealing listing prices is also a way to get the phone ringing. Real Estate agencies, like many other businesses that have taken a “ready, fire, aim” approach toward the internet, are trying to deal with the fallout of giving away too much (free) information. You should applaud them for taking a stand while the short term thinkers lead us toward extinction.

My response (and no, I’m not picking on David Ogilvy):

No, Ogilvy’s approach is very much old school, where realtors kept all information secret and forced customers to call in for address, price, etc. whereupon David’s agents who, he claimed, didn’t “show real estate, but sell it” were supposed to take over, grab the sucker and sell them a listing – any listing at all, as long as it was one of theirs. This was SOP for all real estate brokers in the pre-Internet era but it’s been a broken model for fifteen years now, while information has flown free, despite the protests of David, Greenwich Fine Properties and other brokers of that sort. This is such an obsolete business model that I’m (almost) astonished it persists, but the old guard still represents sellers, who are as old as their brokers and just as clueless about today’s buyers. It’s pretty funny, in its own way.

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Last one out, shut the lights?

Hartford’s come up with  new Fairfield  County tax. Greenwich already pays the almost all of state’s income and estate tax, and now the looters want to tax bonuses and real estate property taxes. I’m serious: I don’t have to live here and I’ll bet you don’t either. Texas sucks, but remember, Phil Sheridan’s comment that “If I owned Texas and Hell, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell” was said in 1860, before air conditioning. The revolution will be starting there, I suspect, and I want to be there when it happens. I’m packing my rifles.

Greenwich Time link harelip alert:

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More on anchovies

Cooks’ Illustrated comes through, but mind you, they’re evaluating them for their own taste – as an additive, consider this Mark Bittman column from the NYT. But here’s Cook’s Illustrated on eating the damn things whole:

To some, anchovies are those “stinky little fish” that adorn (or curse) the tops of pizzas. But to us, those little fish are a pantry mainstay, invaluable to the flavor of many sauces. But are all anchovies the same?

All preserved anchovies-small silver-skinned fish usually caught in warm Mediterranean waters-have been cured in salt, but they come to the market in two forms, packed in olive oil (we’ve all seen those flat, little tins) or in salt. The salt-packed variety is the least processed, having only their heads and some entrails removed, leaving the filleting and rinsing to the home cook. Oil-packed anchovies have been filleted at the factory and are ready-to-use. We purchased four brands of oil-packed anchovies along with one brand of salt-packed anchovies.

We tasted the anchovies in our Caesar dressing and straight up (!). Our favorite fishies (oil-packed) were the favorite for their salty and pleasantly fishy flavor as well as for their firm and “meaty” texture. A salt-packed brand took second place and were well liked for their clean flavor and “solid” texture. Although food snobs may insist that salt-packed anchovies are the only way to go, our tasters found that the right oil-packed anchovies can be just as good.

RECOMMENDED
Ortiz Oil Packed AnchoviesTesters favored the anchovies’ salty and pleasantly fishy flavors, as well as their firm, “meaty” texture. $16.95 for 3.5 ounces
RECOMMENDED
Flott Salt Packed AnchoviesTasters enjoyed the anchovies’ clean flavor and “solid” texture.
RECOMMENDED WITH RESERVATIONS
Rustichella D’Abruzzo Oil Packed AnchoviesTesters were turned off by the “harsh” flavor, which they deemed “a bit too salty.” $7.60 for 3.17 ounces
NOT RECOMMENDED
Pastene Oil Packed AnchoviesTesters noted the “mushy” texture and “flat flavor.” $1.89 for 2 ounces
NOT RECOMMENDED
Flott Oil Packed AnchoviesTesters rejected these and Pastene’s anchovies for similar reasons: their “mushy” texture and “flat flavor.”
NOT RECOMMENDED
Flott Anchovy PasteTesters were unable to hide their disdain, calling the paste “vile,” “heinous,” “gritty, bony, and salty.” $1.95 for 2 ounces

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Anchovies: they’re what’s for dinner!

Missing fingers not included

So I was busy making braised short ribs this afternoon (and don’t you wish you had a job which, when things were slow, you could go home and cook?) but after crisping bacon, browning the ribs, adding carrots, shallots and onion, then adding red wine and chicken broth and setting the whole thing to cook slowly in the oven, remembered that I’d forgotten to dust those ribs in flour for thickening.

You can’t just dump flour in after the fact or you’ll get lumpy gravy – horrors! – so I made a roux of melted butter and stirred in flour (plus the rosemary and thyme I’d also forgotten), and then added a tin of anchovies. The point of an anchovy is that it’s filled with whatever is also in monosodium glutamate and adds wonderful flavor to beef, lamb and even vegetables.

Will it all turn out as delicious as I expect it to? Of course! And, unless you’re one of those cellphone tower-MSG Chinese restaurant nut jobs, I heartily recommend that you add a few anchovy tins to your larder and use them as the occasion merits.

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So, what happened in Byram?

A week ago, closing arguments were pressed on both sides of an assault case  from Byram being tried in Stamford Superior Court. Byram is to Cos Cob as Sicily is to Italy, so the story involves pistols, shovel -jabbed old ladies, or not, and plenty of contrary evidence and silent (silenced?) witnesses. The jury retired for its deliberations last week and, so far as I can tell, … nothing. Was a verdict rendered? Did the jury die in a horrific bus accident on their way back to their sequestered hotel? Inquiring minds want to know.

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People seem to be getting fed up with this BS

Idaho man bulldozes $350,000 home rather than let bank take it for $160,000. “I bought a hillside, I’m giving it back”.

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Blast from the past from my old profession

The Bovina Bloviator picked this article up and it certainly summarizes why I never subscribed to law reviews back in the day. Amazingly, membership on a law school’s law review is still considered an impressive accomplishment – see, eg. Obama, Barack

Small Minds Think Alike, Too

The circulation of law reviews is plummeting. Here’s why, according to one commenter:

The problem with law reviews is they are of little value to the attorneys that practice everyday law. Of course, if I get a transgender client facing incarceration and placement in the general population and who is to be deprived the freedom to practice the Wiccan religion and of special dietary needs, I can access 25-30 articles on that, no problem.

Now, if I want some assistance on the problems with offsets when multiple uninsured motorist carriers are involved, something that implicates 5-10 of my cases a year, there might be one or two out there, but are way out of date.

When one’s head is up his ideological ass, his opinions are pertinent only to others similarly contorted.

h/t the Instapundit.

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Thor Henry Ramsing

Allied Seabreeze 35

Obit today on this Greenwich resident who died, after a full, successful life, at age ninety. I never had the honor of meeting the man but knew of his remarkable sailing exploits out of Indian Harbor and on our oceans. WWII navy vet (served on a PT boat), entrepreneur, and so on (and on). What I didn’t know until reading his obituary is that he was involved in the Allied Boat Company and its production of the Seabreeze, my all time favorite CCA cruising boat. That accomplishment alone should earn the man entry into sailor’s Valhalla, and it sounds like it was just a sideline to this remarkable man’s career.

Smooth sailing, Commodore.

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Can’t these guys just retire?

Again, I wish no ill on politicians with whom I disagree, so I do wish they’d quit or be defeated rather than die. It’s hard to take great pleasure in that old New Jersey crook Frank Lautenberg being diagnosed with cancer, even if, as was the case with John Murtha or Teddy Kennedy, I won’t miss him.

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Come to the White House for the Bum’s Rush

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The banking mess, explained

Well it’s a very lengthy article that brings out many of the causes, anyway. Here’s a snippet.

THE PERFECT STORM?

Given the large number of contributory factors — the Fed’s low interest rates, the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie and Freddie’s actions, Basel I, the Recourse Rule, and Basel II — it has been said that the financial crisis was a perfect storm of regulatory error. But the factors I have just named do not even begin to complete the list. First, Peter Wallison has noted the prevalence of “no-recourse” laws in many states, which relieved mortgagors of financial liability if they simply walked away from a house on which they defaulted. This reassured people in financial straits that they could take on a possibly unaffordable mortgage with virtually no risk. Second, Richard Rahn has pointed out that the tax code discourages partnerships in banking (and other industries). Partnerships encourage prudence because each partner has a lot at stake if the firm goes under. Rahn’s point has wider implications, for scholars such as Amar Bhidé and Jonathan Macey have underscored aspects of tax and securities law that encourage publicly held corporations such as commercial banks — as opposed to partnerships or other privately held companies — to encourage their employees to generate the short-term profits adored by equities investors. One way to generate short-term profits is to buy into an asset bubble. Third, the Basel Accords treat monies set aside against unexpected loan losses as part of banks’ “Tier 2” capital, which is capped in relation to “Tier 1” capital — equity capital raised by selling shares of stock. But Bert Ely has shown in the Cato Journal that the tax code makes equity capital unnecessarily expensive. Thus banks are doubly discouraged from maintaining the capital cushion that the Basel Accords are trying to make them maintain. This litany is not exhaustive. It is meant

only to convey the welter of regulations that have grown up across different parts of the economy in such immense profusion that nobody can possibly predict how they will interact with each other. We are, all of us, ignorant of the vast bulk of what the government is doing for us, and what those actions might be doing to us. That is the best explanation for how this perfect regulatory storm happened, and for why it might well happen again.

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Your landlord is foreclosed. Stay or go?

It’s up to you these days, says this article, so long as you have a valid lease and keep current on payments. A new federal law protects tenants. But do be prepared, the author warns, for slimy “loan service reps” to try to pressure you out. We’ve encountered that problem here in Greenwich and I’ve warned before about agents renting out properties when they know their owner/client is about to lose possession, so you may want to forego the more flexible month-to-month option in favor of a long term lease.

How about if the landlord files for bankruptcy instead of merely being foreclosed? I don’t know the answer to that – bankruptcy laws grant judges the power to void contracts so, unless that new federal law also rewrote our bankruptcy code, I’d think you the renter could be in a pickle. But obviously, don’t start packing your bags until you consult with a real lawyer. Or Walt – he probably has experience in all this.

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Your tax dollars at work

According to Deal Breaker, Ruthie Madoff is in the Rockland County Social Security office this morning, presumably applying for benefits. You’d think she could work out a deal to stay in Leona’s empty space, maybe doing a little dusting in exchange for rent.

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The source of all sound theology

Elton John says Jesus was gay. That settles that.

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84 Lower Cross Road has a contract

84 Lower Cross Rd

(slipped in earlier this week). After almost 2 years, this Lower cross home has gone to contract. The house is nice enough but with a weird layout, for many buyers, and  its four acres are perhaps not the most appealing. But the sellers held fast, reducing their price just a little bit from $4.3 million to $3.6 over the years, and, depending on selling price, that stubbornness appears to have paid off. Assessment is $2.6.

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Bad news for Randolf and Mortimer Duke

But surely not orange juice futures!

SEC probe into insider trading centered in Philadelphia!

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Cos Cob parents: shut off our electricity!

Can you hear me now?

Wearing wooden shoes and carrying pitchforks, a mob of Cos Cob parents travelled by horse cart to the Cos Cob train station to protest the release of radio waves into our atmosphere. Led by a Mr. Wayne Jarvis, whose own house on Cat Rock burned down after he tried lighting it with candles, the group demanded  a ban on all cellphone towers within a mile of any school, which would effectively create a radio-free town.

“That’s fine by me”< Jarvis told FWIW’s Scusie. “Shut it all down! Television, micro-wave ovens, light bulbs. If it saves the life of just one child, no price is too high to pay.”

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Another once-new house returned to market

47 1/2 Shore Road

I was impressed with the construction of this house when it came up for sale back in 2009 (2008?) but I didn’t think its back lot, shared driveway location justified its $5 million price tag. Neither did buyers, apparently, and it went off the market last April after a buyer failed to perform. It’s back on today asking $3.9, which is an improvement but now, of course, it’s a used house, assuming someone’s been living in it for the past year. Assessment is $2.5 million.

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A few signs of life

132 Hendrie Avenue in Riverside, a 1950 cape on the railroad but with a big yard, is finally reported as “pending” which means a contract, sort of. Started a long time ago at $1.095, dropped to $895,000, on an assessment of just $591,000. It will be interesting to see what it sells for.

10 Field Road, also in Riverside is also under contract. Asking price in April of last year was $1.575 million, dropped to $1.349, assessment is $1.1.

On the other hand, 74 Lower Cross Road, reported as under contract (asking price was $6.5 million) back in October, is back on the market, so someone’s bonus must have disappointed.

And, rounding out Riverside news, 5 Dialstone Lane, new construction with an initial asking price of $3.999 million, rented last December (it flew under my radar until I noticed a book bag on the front porch this morning) for $14,000. That’s a huge rent, so the builder’s probably better off not finding a buyer.

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