Daily Archives: September 3, 2010

CFL bulbs

I just replaced a CFL bulb, again, for my mother. I noticed, when opening the package, that GE claims it “lasts 8 years!”. The one I was replacing was maybe four months old.  As Ma pointed out, GE’s claim (no warranty on these things, of course) is valid only if you don’t actually use it. What a hoax Congress has foisted on us.


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A Texan Blumenthal

Texas Attorney General investigates Google. The ridiculous thing about all this anti-Google stuff is that the company could lose its entire search business overnight – all it takes is for someone to build a better mouse trap, and the whole Internet community will switch. So far no one, including Microsoft, has, but I’m sure there are hundreds of geeks out there working on it. We consumers don’t need a politically ambitious Texan’s help.


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Syria curbs wack job muslims

“Human rights activists object”. Somewhere, there is a human rights advocate who is not suicidally insane – I just haven’t met him.

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GOP may win 30 governorships this year

Which is a big deal in some states, because Governors can control redistricting. Probably not here in Connecticut, where the Demmerkrats rule – and will almost certainly win the governor’s race as well – but it could be fun, says the NYT, in the midwest.

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Who knew? Italian knife sharpeners

Interesting article here on a family of knife sharpeners. The rent out identical sets of knives to butchers, restaurants etc. and once a week collect the dulled ones and exchange them for newly-sharpened blades. The business has been running in America since 1920, when the family arrived and before that, a long time in Italy.

I hate dull knives, and I’m sure this family does a great job, but their service would be impractical for my little kitchen. I learned to use a honing steel long ago, and a whetstone, but the easiest method I’ve found to keep things sharp is a Chef’s Choice. It’s expensive – over a hundred bucks (I just checked – there’s a model for $29 that probably works well)  but every knife I own, cooking, fish filleters, sheath and pocket knives is (almost) always ready to use. Keep it on the counter, give your knife a few swipes through it once a week or so and you’re set.

Chef's Choice


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I’ll take the damn hurricane

Just (5:40) outside – the wind is dead, the humidity is awful, and it’s damp, muggy and hot. When will Earl sweep this air out of here?

UPDATE: Any hour now, supposedly. Good picture here of the cold wave that’s been keeping Earl off shore and is due to arrive soon. Looks like Nantucket may only get hit with 45 mph winds, which is a just a day at the beach, compared to what might have been.

UPDATE II:  Why Earl had people concerned just a day ago:


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They might as well be Episcopalians

Just in time for the high holidays, a new prayer book for the 90% of jews who attend services once a year.

With that kind of pressure, maybe it’s no wonder that it took a team of rabbis 12 years to complete the new prayer book. By every measure, though, the result is a remarkable volume that overflows not only with the spiritual richness of the liturgy, but with wide-ranging commentaries and perspectives on the holidays in Jewish history, tradition and theology.

Yet the question remains: Can it help encourage a return visit before another New Year rolls by? The challenge arises at a time when synagogue membership seems generally headed downward, and when the Conservative movement, which not so long ago was the largest Jewish denomination in America, is now outnumbered in terms of synagogue members by the Reform. (Of the three largest denominations, Orthodox is most strict in its observance; the Reform is the most liberal; and the Conservative movement straddles the two, adapting aspects of traditional observance to contemporary life.)

Indeed, at the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly convention held this past May in New York, a key theme was the need to re-define the mission of Conservative Judaism for new generations of Jews in a contemporary climate that some observers have begun to describe as “post-denominational.”

What does “post-denominational” mean? The broad-based approach of the new prayer book—in which supplementary readings range from Hasidic sages to Gilda Radner, and from devout medieval Jewish Spanish poets to Israeli poet and professed atheist Yehuda Amichai—is in some ways reflective of this “post-denominational” style that blurs lines between the different movements.

Maybe it’s time to just pack it in.


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August, 21010 contracts

We saw 35 homes go to contract last month, with 5 > $5 million (asking). This compares to past years as follows:

2009: 43, 10 > $5 million

2008: 20, 8 > $5 million

2007: 46, 9 > $5 million

2006: 41, 5 > $5 million.

So were ahead of 2008, when Bear Stearns had gone bust and Wall Street was frozen, but I’m not pleased that we’re down from last year, especially in the high end.


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I guess it depends on your expectations

“Experts” fear Middle East negotiations too ambitious. Nothing from nothing, is my guess.

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Price cut

154 North Street


This property started off in 2007 at $3.5 million. Now it’s “estate of” and chopped down to $2.5. Assessment, $2 million. Seems a pity that someone who wanted to move couldn’t last out her wait for “the right buyer” to come along.


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If all goes well, this hurricane’s a bust

Heading 200 miles out to sea. I’m not even bothering to move the kayak off the dock. But Nantucket’s still in the zone. Fudrucker accomplished his one-day trip to island, but now regrets, I sense, his decision not to scalp his return ticket – there were some BSDs, stuck on stand-by, willing to pay big money to get off the island.


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Media frenzy

Gulf “explosion” and well fire was nothing of the sort.

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Ah, marketing!

Uh huh

Selling Pabst Blue Ribbon for forty-four bucks a bottle in China (snicker).

You want beer from 1844 (0r 1830, in fact), you’ll have to go to Finland.

[R]esearchers uncovered a small collection of bottled beer on Wednesday from the same shipwreck south of the autonomous Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea.

“At the moment, we believe that these are by far the world’s oldest bottles of beer,” Rainer Juslin, permanent secretary of the island’s ministry of education, science and culture, told CNN on Friday via telephone from Mariehamn, the capital of the Aland Islands.


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Why doesn’t Campbell Soup sell itself off to Nestle?

Soup sales down. Well of course they are. But the synergy between Nestle’s company, Stouffer’s and Campbell seems obvious to me. Or Campbells should develop their own frozen food line. But if they did that, they’d miss out on Stouffer’s suicide prevention program for purchasers of their single meals.


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Student testing

Heated discussion going on below on the merits of the standardized testing of our school kids and what, if anything, they prove. And I don’t know. Back in my day I took a battery of tests through the years: IQ, PSAT, SAT, LSAT , etc., and they seemed pretty accurate to me. I could read and write like a demon and the scores reflected that. I was a moron in math, and the scores reflected that, too (damned if I know what to make of the IQ test, but it boosted my ego when I was a socially awkward, pimpled 15-year-old and needed a boost).  I don’t know what they’ve done to tests since then – I read that they’ve made them PC, somehow – but if they have any value left, then it seems to me we should be concerned if our town scores are declining. Of course, no test that I know of judges ambition, stick-to-it-ofness, and all the qualities that make for a successful life.


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Real estate advertising in the past

Same old stuff, actually. But an interesting article.

For aficionados of Eisenhower-era design, the Avery collection is a treasure-trove. A color brochure for the deadly dull Chelsea Lane at 16 West 16th Street, designed in 1960, boasts of a lobby with “antique symbols of an unforgettable era, classic materials, mood creating colors.” The accompanying illustration shows a room with run-of-the-mill furniture.

Most brochures have a bare-bones aspect, but a few sing with visual power. For 1 Gracie Square, built in the late 1920s on the East River, an artist created a cover with a complex pattern of gulls, waves and a sailing ship. The pamphlet for the 1930 Hotel Paris, at 96th and West End, looks like an old New Yorker, with a charmingly clunky series of Art Deco interiors in black and white.

You do not have to be a sentimentalist to think that the high-style buildings of the 1920s set a standard of quality that has not been matched in modern times. And yet, the language of the antique brochures is familiar: everything is enhanced, distinguished, spacious. It is just that, with the earlier structures, the gap between description and reality was not as broad as it is now.

My great-grandfather built apartments in NYC after the Civil War and was considered, I am told, a great humanitarian by incorporating air shafts in his tenements, thus allowing air and light into inner rooms. No one would waste the space.

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What a surprise! NYC and its teachers’ union

"Ain't gotta work on Maggie's farm no more!"

Majority of laid off teachers are taking no steps to find new employment.

A majority of New York City teachers who lost their positions at schools earlier this year have neither applied for another job in the system nor attended any recruitment fairs in recent months, according to data released by the Department of Education Thursday.

How could this be, you ask? Well, there’s this:

New York is the only city in the country where teachers are guaranteed pay for life even when their school closes and they are put out of a permanent job. In Chicago, teachers get a year to find a new job. In Washington, D.C., highly rated teachers get a year or a buyout option, while low-rated teachers are dismissed.


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Well you can’t live in town on $50,000 a year if you have bedbugs!

$3,500 and up to treat a Greenwich home for bedbugs! I think I’d prefer to itch.


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Greenwich public schools suck and are getting worse

So says the publisher of Greenwich Time and he’s got the numbers to prove it. The man is absolutely right that Greenwich real estate values depend on great schools, so this is an issue that affects all homeowners, not just the parents of school kids.


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Looks like Earl will miss us

Rain and maybe 20 mph winds and then a beautiful weekend. That’s a relief, if a little disappointing. Nantucket and Cape Cod might still get hit.

Fiona’s being ripped apart by Earl’s shear and Gaston had died.

UPDATE: Ferries and air service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket will be suspended at noon today so if you’re still up there, hunker down.


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