Monthly Archives: March 2010

Why I smoke

Nursing home worker on trial for beating, torturing residents.

The worker was in midair, hurtling from atop a dresser toward the bed, landing both knees onto the man’s belly.

“I was just in shock,” Campos said.

The horrible tale and other accounts of abuse are unfolding this week in the trial of Cesar Ulloa, a low-level employee accused of severely mistreating residents, some of whom would have been too dementia-ridden to alert anyone to the alleged abuse.

Ulloa, 21, is charged with seven counts of elder abuse and one count of torture. If convicted, he faces a possible life sentence. In addition to abusing the elderly man, prosecutors say, Ulloa jumped on a woman’s chest and body-slammed her into a bed when she struggled. The 78-year-old woman was mute because of a brain condition. He also allegedly took the arm of one wheelchair-bound resident and used it to hit another resident who had dementia, encouraging them to fight.

“He attacked the most vulnerable people you can possibly find,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Robin Allen told a Van Nuys jury. “He hit them and he laughed. This was sport.”

For adults considering assisted care homes for their parents, the alleged abuses are particularly distressing because of where they’re said to have occurred: Silverado Senior Living. The Calabasas facilities are about as close to a four-star hotel as retirement homes get, with relatives shelling out upward of $70,000 a year to house their loved ones.

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Flipping houses for fun and profit

Not easy here in Greenwich – we don’t have enough of them – but in states like Florida and Arizona, people are making big bucks and clearing out the inventory. One-on-one, I suspect the same potential can be found here.

UPDATE: A Florida realtor/reader (who would know) says it ain’t so:

Just media hype. Few, if any, are making big bucks in Florida. Inventory is clearing out, because no one is listing. 50% of homes are underwater. Most Realtors are working other jobs.

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I want one of these

Cisco Wireless router that is (almost) foolproof.

The WSJ describes my own experience exactly:

Like a hornets’ nest, the home router sits undisturbed by those who know better than to touch it. This antenna-enhanced box sends data to and from desktops, laptops, smart phones and TiVos throughout the house. Its indicator lights glow, signaling all is well with the network.

But setting it up can be a major ordeal. People beg their techie friends for help. Some sit for hours on the phone with customer support. A few brave souls muddle through a sea of acronyms and secure codes in an attempt to install the router. Once it is set up, many are afraid to change its settings for fear of disrupting it and losing Internet connectivity.

Enter Valet (TheValet.com), a new wireless router designed for people who are tired of being intimidated by a blinking box. Valet is designed by the people who brought us the Flip video camcorders, the ultra simple handhelds with ultra simple software that just work. And it comes from Cisco, which also owns Linksys—a router brand that people know and trust.

I’ve been using Valet for the past week, but it took me only 10 minutes, from start to finish, to get it going, thanks to a simple USB key that plugs into the computer and sets everything up in the background in less than five minutes. I tried it on a Windows 7 PC running and on an iMac, as well as on mobile devices, including a BlackBerry, Palm Pre and the HTC HD2. The Valet is available Wednesday for $100 on Amazon.com, TheValet.com and Staplesstores. Over the next two weeks, it will be sold at Best BuyTarget and Wal-Mart. There’s also the $150 Valet Plus, with a Wi-Fi range about 20% greater than the Valet.

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Ankle bracelet for this felon!

Pet store owner fined $1,500 and ordered into ankle bracelet monitor for selling a goldfish to 14-year-old boy. Had he only preached death to infidels, England would have put him on welfare and given him an apartment.

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Tina Pray skips jail

I don't remember!

Nothing wrong with that. But those with less money would be behind bars today.

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A cautionary tale

A guy named Charles Johnson used to run a fun little website named Little Green Footballs but somehow over the years (too much peyote?) became convinced that his fellow conservatives have all joined a Nazi conspiracy against him. It’s sad to see a mind go dark, but it serves as warning to me not to get too involved in all this blogging – hic sunt dracones. The flag in question, by the way, was adopted in 1905, after the Civil War and well before Adolf Hitler was even a mere corporal.

State of Tennessee flag

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Tucson is Greenwich

It’s been awhile since I checked in on my blogging pal John Schneider out in Tucson but he’s still out there and still reporting on the same phenomenon that’s happening here: well-priced houses sell, badly-priced homes linger. Is there a lesson here, or just an odd coinkydink?

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Ratings boost quest

Between suggestions I run for Congress (sleep well – ain’t gonna happen), accept ads (see previous comment) and go for a 100,000 daily readership log from my present 10,000, the latter sounds like the most fun. So here you go:

Topless fishing girl

Guinea Pig on a stick (good for 30 hits a day)

Sarah Palin in Alaska's midnight sun

Mark Madoff - nothing left to hide

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I didn’t know it was loaded

The Denver drunk who killed our two Perrot librarians Kate McClelland, 71, and Kathleen Krasniewicz, 54, says she was stone sober, she happened to drink a vitamin water drink laced with booze afterwards which pushed her B.A.C. to 5X the legal limit, she was unaware she’d been involved in an accident, and it was the other driver’s fault anyway. This from a woman on probation for at least her second DUI, who had a warrant out for her arrest because she was flunking her alcohol tests and not showing up for rehab cases. Hang her high.

I once heard of someone who, unwilling to stop drinking but determined to not hurt anyone else, put a taxi company on retainer so she could call them for a ride, any time, anywhere. I personally think that person would have been better off stopping drinking but that’s a personal choice, and I applaud the notion of not bringing anyone else down with her, too.

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Another victim class

The NYT discovers that illegal immigrants who break our drug laws encounter trouble down the road. I’m not particularly sympathetic, even though I think this country’s drug laws are ill-advised and should be repealed. What’s the big deal about obeying a foreign country’s laws? When I lived in Greece as a lad of 18, they had strict drug laws (and a military dictatorship to back them up) plus strict visa laws that governed the time of my stay in that fair land. So I didn’t do drugs, travelled to Heraklion, Crete when it was time to renew the visa and, while I worked illegally harvesting vegetables from time to time, never held the illusion that I was entitled to do so and couldn’t be tossed out if I were caught. Why shouldn’t America demand the same obedience to its own laws?

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Could that be because it’s stopped raining?

Greenwich Time: “No major flooding reported“. Pay a buck for these kind of insights or look out your window – your choice.

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Is Jimbo Himes a moron or a liar?

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

 

Both. He’s the Doublemint kid – two in one! He lies to his constituents and is dumb enough to think we’ll believe him. Here’s his latest missive:  

Dear Friends, 

Last week, The House of Representatives passed the most sweeping health care reform in a generation. This reform will improve access to quality, affordable health care for citizens of all ages. It also ensures seniors keep the benefits they currently receive, while strengthening Medicare in the short and long term. 

Much confusion has been reported over cuts to Medicare. Let me be clear: reports that this plan cuts Medicare are false. This legislation fully protects Medicare benefits and extends the solvency of the program for almost a decade by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse but never benefits. It does this by targeting subsidies to private insurance companies that are robbing the system to pad their bottom lines instead of improving benefits. 

Immediately, the plan begins closing the “donut hole” to lower seniors’ prescription drug costs. Medicare beneficiaries who hit the “donut hole” will receive a $250 rebate right away to make life-saving drugs more affordable. People inside the donut hole will also have an immediate 50% discount on brand-name drugs. The plan also requires Medicare and insurance companies to provide important preventive services like immunizations and screenings for diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis free of charge. 

The new reform law improves the quality and coordination of care for seniors so individuals don’t undergo unnecessary procedures because of poor medical records or a lack of coordination among caregivers. This reform also expands home and community-based services to keep people in their homes instead of nursing homes.

Damn generous of the sorry son of a bitch to send my kids’ money to their grandmother, but our local former Goldman Sachs associate neglects to point out that his largess is either going to be paid for by slashing Medicare payments to doctors 20% come September, or not making that cut and tacking the bill onto our deficit. If he cuts the doctors’ fees he’ll leave almost no physician left standing to tend to the old, so let’s assume he and his fellow fraudsters will be going the deficit route. 

The “budget cut” is, therefore, illusory, the burden is added onto my children, and just to rub salt in the wound, Jimbo’s tossing in a $250 bonus to pay for a Foxwoods’ slot adventure for his elderly voters. Throw these people out!

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I’ve got Teri Buhl writing copy and Island Surveyor taking pics – maybe I’ll just retire

From Island Surveyor:

Here are  high tide pictures from your favorite creek this morning.

High tide topped out at 10.2 ft over Mean Low Water (a very modest
tidal flood, barely exceeding the CT DEP High Tide definition for
regulatory purposes), with a peak storm surge about 10:30am of 2.5 ft.
This was well below the event of two weeks ago.

The Bein's dock on Ole's (Green kayak is mine, rescued by Warren Bein)

Dot McCullough's Oyster House

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Buddy, you’re too old for this

Okay, how about if I just report in late?

Coral Gables: Custodian calls in bomb threat to Biltmore Hotel to secure a day off. I used to do that after lunch and just before math class, when the old high school (Town Hall, to you newcomers) had pay-phone banks in the lobby. Never worked for me, either, buddy, but I was sixteen – what’s your excuse?

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With that Ol Debbil Bush gone, we’ve regained the respect and admiration of the world

The going got tough, eh?

Canada to Obama: We’re out of here! Don’t they realize that Michael Moore voted for Obama?

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Mortgage shenanigans explained

Michael Lewis (“Liars’ Poker”) is out with a book on what led to the housing bust. He’s one of my favorite financial writers so even though it’s not on Kindle, I’ve ordered “The Big Short”. Looks like a good read.

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Interesting development on Clapboard Ridge

205 Clapboard Ridge, new construction on what I thought was a so-so lot, tried to get $12.250 million in 2006 and eventually was reported as under contract in November, 2008, at a last-reported asking price of $7.975. The deal never closed and a reader informed me that someone had rented the place with an option to buy at a very low price.

I don’t know whether the builder/developer now regrets his discount or there are some other issues preventing consummation of the deal, but the tenant/buyer has now sued for specific performance. Will they kiss and make up? Go their separate ways? Stay tuned.

The land records also reveal that developer Fareri was as smart as was predicted here when he managed to unload his condo projects on Milbank/East Elm and Idar Court a couple of years ago. I pointed out at the time that if a sharp, experienced developer like Ferari couldn’t sell these things and had resorted to renting them, anyone buying them with the intention of resale was betting that Fareri was wrong and he was right. Dumb bet. Foreclosure proceedings have commenced.

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Wasn’t this supposed to swallow the earth in a black hole or cause global warming or something?

Hadron collider starts up.

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Arrest this man!

Parisian thieves drill through 2 1/2′ wall to get into bank safe, tie up security guard and loot vault. The article is sketchy on details but if this guy “didn’t hear them” drilling all weekend, I’d bet the gendarmes already have their hands on their first accomplice.

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Case-Shiller housing index flat

I suppose that’s better news than we saw last year, but nothing suggests that you should rush out and over-pay now, in the hope that prices will be rebounding soon. There are some bargains out there, and those you really should focus on because there’s a large, pent-up demand for well-priced houses, especially in the $1.5 – $850,000 range (I was out Saturday with clients looking at some of them and in each case we were preceded and followed by other buyers and their agents).

But that $5.2 million house you think is worth $3.8? You’re probably right, the owner is probably wrong, and if you lose that one, you won’t have lost anything at all.

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