Daily Archives: December 29, 2010

As long as we’re talking about ancestors …

Why is the federal government spending money encouraging young students to study electrical power generation?

The power companies desperately need a jolt of youthful energy. The industry and the creaky distribution system it manages are on the cusp of a major technological overhaul just as about half of electric utility employees are expected to retire in the next 5 to 10 years.

Last spring, the energy secretary, Steven Chu, awarded $100 million in stimulus money to 54 training programs in the smart grid aimed at high school and college students around the country. “Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” Mr. Chu said at the time. “Today’s investment will help ensure that we have the work force in place to meet this need.”

My great-grandfather, John Caldwell, arrived from Ireland  in 1861, just in time to enlist in the Union Army, where he served in the Pennsylvania 61st with George and Herman Westinghouse. After the war, he joined the brothers in Pittsburgh, where George figured out AC current (and defeated Edison’s direct current) while Caldwell handled the financing.

My point is that a trio of young men managed all this without any help from the government. Modern day examples of this same triumph might be Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and, before them, Bill Hewitt and Dave Packard.

In fact, do you know a single example of our government promoting and jump starting a single industry, other than the welfare force and the Teachers Union? I don’t.


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I don’t watch this stuff but apparently there’s a rash of survival shows on TV these days, all showing you how to snare small game, start a fire without matches and all that. That’s all fine and in fact, I actually know how to do all that and more, and have done so, but that was when I was young and stupid and spending a lot of time in the wilderness. Most of us, including me, live in urban territory these days. If I were worried about survival, I’d be taking lessons on how to build a generator and water filter. Of course, knowing how to use a rifle, shotgun and pistol wouldn’t hurt either. Maybe I can trade those skills with an engineer.


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A pardon for Billy the Kid? Forget it.


Colonel Albert Jennings Fountain

Out-going New Mexico Governor Richardson is considering pardoning Billy the Kid, 130 years after he  committed a  murder most foul.  My ancestor, Col. Albert Fountain, defended the Kid at his trial and if he couldn’t get him off, then the Colonel was having a rare bad day or the Kid was guilty as hell. I suspect the latter.

Fountain and his seven-year-old son Henry were later murdered in 1896 in the White Sands. New Mexico was a rough place back then.


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If your dog needs an overcoat, he’s in the wrong part of the country

According to this article, if you have a little shitzu, a coat may be in order, but so would  be a move to Florida.But a large dog, bred for cold? Save your money. Casey the Wonder Dog, my yellow Lab,  chased geese in freezing Long Island Sound waters until his 13th year. He’d probably have bit me had I tried putting a blanket on him.


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Don’t you believe it for a minute

You get me a contract, I'll get me a plow

NYC garbagemen deny a slowdown during blizzard. “We’d never do that”, union chief declares. Hmm. A couple of decades ago my firm recovered a huge award for a young woman who  nearly lost her leg and spent months in the hospital after her car skidded on an icy intersection. Two Westport supervisors testified that their men had concentrated solely on the intersection in question, salting and sanding that exact spot. Then some of the actual workers testified: they’d been in the garage, staging a work-slow-down, and never come close to the site of the accident. Turns out, they’d been instructed to lie by their supervisors, and boy, do juries get mad when they discover they’ve been lied to. I think the award was at least trebled because of that.

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Oh gosh, don’t ever do this!

Love is not necessarily forever


Husband threatens to release sex tapes to Internet unless he gets favorable divorce terms.

Years ago, I represented a young woman who worked at Harry O’s (for you of gentle minds, that’s a strip club on Sellack Street in Stamford – no, she found me in the yellow pages, not at the bar) and the suit balanced on the existence of videos involving her, a beautiful, petite  (dyed) blonde and her 350-pound husband known, of course, as “Tiny”.

This was in the days before the Internet but still, there was no way my client wanted those tapes out in the world. We were going to have a hearing on the matter but Tiny’s lawyer and I agreed that we’d probably both vomit if we saw the damn tapes, so he pressured the husband to destroy them and the hearing was called off.

Anyway, don’t do this.


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Al Gore: Snow is a thing of the past

Oh, woe is us!

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, December 14, 2009 (ENS) – Snow and ice across the planet are melting much faster than anticipated, and the cryosphere – the Earth’s ice and snow cover – is very vulnerable to climate change, finds a new report presented today at the United Nations Climate Summit by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Snow cover is diminishing, and glaciers from the Himalayas to the Alps are melting rapidly, with the greatest reductions in the Andes and the Rockies, the report shows.

Berlin: snowiest December in 110 years.

Sierra snowpack at twice long-term average.


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A little high?

32 Sinawoy Rd

1926 house on Sinawoy in Cos Cob, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, “newer’ roof. Asked $699,000, appraised at $492,000, sold for $500,000. I might have waited.


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So, will house prices fall 10% or 20%?

Depends on which pessimist you care to listen to.


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The softer side of Tony Soprano

Who knew he had one? Spent 45 minutes helping a driver out of a West Side snow drift, then passed out $20 tips to others who’d helped.


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