Daily Archives: November 25, 2013

Sales and contracts

Two more sales, two more contacts to report

6 Stanwich Lane

6 Stanwich Lane

6 Stanwich Lane finally sold, for $1.620 million. Owner paid $1.4 million for it in 2000 and, to my eye, did not improve it during her ownership. But a nice street. Started off asking $2.450 back in 2012 and was (very) slow to drop its price, never a good way to unload unwanted real estate.

34 Park Avenue

34 Park Avenue

34 Park Avenue, Old Greenwich, sold very quickly – 14 days – for $1.712 million.

 

 

 

16 Lakeview Dr

16 Lakeview Dr

16 Lakeview Drive, that side street off of Sheephill asking $2.545 reports a contract. Owners paid $2.720 in June, 2006 when it was new. Nice house, but crammed in between a couple of others and that detracted from its charm.

36 Winthrop Dr

36 Winthrop Dr

36 Winthrop, a renovated 50’s house on 0.45 acre, asked $2.250 and seems to be getting close to that. Hmm.

 

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Well if the turkeys and deer won’t cooperate, I can always head to the big city

More fun than Plato's Retreat

More entertaining than Plato’s Retreat

Rat catching in New York for fun, if not profit. 

Ernie, a 3-year-old hunt terrier, snapped up a fleeing rat in his jaws and gave him a hard shake. The rat quickly went limp. Ernie’s owner rejoiced over the kill — it was Ernie’s first, after just a few outings of hunting vermin.

This was another occasional outing for a group of dog owners who take their pets to downtown Manhattan to kill rats.

The hunts are conducted something like a country fox hunt, but in an urban setting. Members say it allows their dogs — mostly breeds known for chasing small game and vermin — to indulge in basic instinctual drives by killing a dozen or two dozen rats each time they are let loose.

“We don’t make a huge difference in the rat population, but the dogs have a lot of fun,” said Richard Reynolds, a main organizer of the group, which, in an effort to form the acronym RATS, he semiseriously calls the Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (Ryders Alley was once a rat-infested lane downtown, and trencher-fed refers to the keeping of hounds to hunt). The group, which includes some members who travel from the suburbs, has been meeting for 15 years, mostly in downtown Manhattan in areas where trash is abundant.

“We love garbage — if there’s food around, there are rats,” said Mr. Reynolds, a dog breeder from Tenafly, N.J.

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Not necessarily as encouraging as it might seem

Just ask Assad

Just ask Assad

White House Dossier gets its quote of the day:

“We’re tough. I made it crystal clear to the Iranians that blowing up Israel would be a red line for me.”

– Barack Obama

A note from our attorneys: This is not a real quote

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Bidding war on Roberta Lane

 

2 Roberta Lane (artist's depiction)

2 Roberta Lane (artist’s depiction)

2 Roberta Lane, asking $1.895 million, went to sealed bids and will, I hear, go for over $2.3. This for a house in a hollow, with no – zero – back yard except for swamp. But, I’m told, it is in absolutely pristine condition inside, and buyers were all over it.

That tells me (a) the dearth of decent inventory in this price range and (b) the relative unimportance of a yard to current buyers. I find it odd that one would move to the suburbs with the intention of staying indoors (or by this one’s pool and deck), but there it is.

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Straight from the Irish Duty Free shop, a typical Irish Christmas tree

Or at least, the Mickster tells me it’s typical.

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Central Greenwich sale price reported

 

40 Lincoln Avenue

40 Lincoln Avenue

40 Lincoln Avenue (not the Old Greenwich Lincoln Avenue) sold for $2.2 million, having gone to contract after just 27 days asking $2.385. The sellers paid $2.350 for it in 2007 but they didn’t do so badly, considering this is not 2007.

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Dang it, I hope I can still get my results back

Tell me I don't know him

Tell me I don’t know him

FDA orders gene tester 23 and Me to discontinue marketing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered 23andMe Inc. to stop marketing its $99 mail-order genetic test, citing the risk that false results could cause consumers to undergo unnecessary health procedures including breast surgery.

The FDA said in a Nov. 22 warning letter to 23andMe Chief Executive Anne Wojcicki that the company doesn’t have the proper marketing clearance to sell the DNA testing kit, and 23andMe hasn’t sufficiently worked with the agency to secure such approval. The FDA said it hasn’t heard from the company since May, and has learned that 23andMe started new marketing campaigns for the test.

I recently sent in some DNA samples (you spit a little saliva in a test tube) from a couple of family members and while I gather that the FDA is concerned about the company’s claim to test for genetic flaws that may lead to disease, all I’m interested in is the genetic history of the family; specifically, I’m hoping that my sloping forehead and tendency to drag my knuckles on the ground are due to Neanderthal genes, and not Irish.

Unless, of course, they’re one and the same.

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Yeah sure, rub it in

 

Even a girl can do it!

Even a girl can do it!

Connecticut Audubon Society: Wild turkeys are everywhere, especially Greenwich.

Three centuries after they were extirpated in the state, Connecticut’s population of Wild Turkeys is large, stable and widespread – a reason to give thanks in an era when many of our local birds are declining.

The Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is literally everywhere in Connecticut, occurring in all 169 of the state’s municipalities.

But Connecticut Audubon Society’s Top Turkey Town is Litchfield, based on data collected during Christmas bird counts and summer breeding bird surveys.

The rest of the Top Ten Turkey Towns are:

2. Barkhamsted
3. Woodbury
4. Hartford
5. Greenwich
6. New London
7. New Haven
8. Oxford
9. Sharon
10. Durham

“Although these are our top ten turkey towns, the truth is it’s hard to go anywhere in Connecticut without seeing a Wild Turkey these days,” said Milan Bull, Connecticut Audubon’s senior director of science and conservation, in the release.

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The Germans are the first to wake up

Remembrance of things past

Remembrance of things past

WSJ: EU’s easy-money policy snubs german savers

[I]n Germany, where many equate stock investment with speculation and see saving as a moral good, low rates have precipitated a more visceral protest. Here, the key argument against the ECB’s easy-money policies isn’t about the risk of new bubbles. It’s about what many, including news magazine Der Spiegel on last week’s cover, call “the expropriation of the saver.”

In an almost daily barrage in the week after the ECB cut rates, commentators and journalists protested that interest rates near zero represent a wealth transfer from the middle class to the wealthy and from hardworking Germans to the struggling economies to the south.

These critics of ECB policies say the nest egg of the German saver—der deutsche Sparer—is being eroded by interest rates that are below the level of inflation. Soaring stock prices, partly the result of the central bank’s easy-money policies, benefit the rich disproportionately, the critics say, and investors are redirecting their capital away from Germany to higher-yielding bonds in countries such as Spain and Italy.

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Milbrook prices continue to drop

 

235 Overlook Drive (2005 photo)

235 Overlook Drive (2005 photo)

235 Overlook Drive, 1978 house, renovated 2003, hit the market today asking $2.595 million. In 2005, it was priced at $2.845, and sold in 17 days to the current owners for $2.775. I predict a lengthier stay on the market this time (if only because of the holidays) but smart move on the sellers’ part to recognize that Milbrook in 2013 is not the same as 2005.

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In satire, truth

 

"Smart Diplomacy" produces a change of heart

“Smart Diplomacy” produces a change of heart

Borowitz Report: Ayatollah agreed to nuke treaty to help out Obama.

TEHRAN (The Borowitz Report)—The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told reporters today his nation agreed to a deal on its nuclear program in the hopes that it would distract attention from the trouble-plagued rollout of Obamacare.

“It’s true, we’ve resisted any deal on nukes for over three decades,” the Ayatollah said. “But when we saw how much trouble Obama was having with his Web site, we realized it would be uncaring of us not to try to help him out.”

The Ayatollah said he was not “overly optimistic” that signing a nuclear treaty with the West would be sufficient to distract attention from the President’s Obamacare woes, but, he added, “You never know. Every little bit helps.”

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Negative interest rate? The war against savers continues

Bank run, Panic of 1873

Bank run, Panic of 1873

ZeroHedge: Banks may soon start charging fees on deposited funds.

The Fed’s Catch 22 just got catchier.  [A]  less discussed issue was the Fed’s comment that it would consider lowering the Interest on Excess Reserves to zero… As the FT reports, leading US banks have warned the Fed that should it lower IOER, they would be forced to start charging depositors.

If cutting IOER was as much of an easing move as the Fed believes, banks should be delighted …. And yet, they are not:

Executives at two of the top five US banks said a cut in the 0.25 per cent rate of interest on the $2.4tn in reserves they hold at the Fed would lead them to pass on the cost to depositors.

Banks say they may have to charge because taking in deposits is not free: they have to pay premiums of a few basis points to a US government insurance programme.

“Right now you can at least break even from a revenue perspective,” said one executive, adding that a rate cut by the Fed “would turn it into negative revenue – banks would be disincentivised to take deposits and potentially charge for them”.

“It’s not as if we are suddenly going to start lending to [small and medium-sized enterprises],” said one. “There really isn’t the level of demand, so the danger is that banks are pushed into riskier assets to find yield.”

All of the above is BS: lending has never been a concern for the Fed ….

Which brings us back to the first sentence and the Fed’s now massive Catch 22: on one hand, shoud the Fed taper, rates will surge and stocks will once again plunge, as they did, in early summer, just to teach the evil, non-appeasing Fed a lesson.

On the other hand, should the Fed cut IOER as a standalone move or concurrently to offset the tapering pain, banks will crush depositors by cutting rates, depositors will pull their money from banks en masse, and banks will have no choice but to close on a record levered $2.2 trillion in margined risk position.

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We’re doing much better than this in Greenwich

Nationwide, houses under contract fell “unexpectedly” again.

The number of contracts Americans signed to buy previously-owned homes unexpectedly fell in October for a fifth consecutive month amid higher borrowing costs that are denting the real-estate recovery.

The gauge of pending home sales decreased 0.6 percent after a 4.6 percent drop in September, the National Association of Realtors said today in Washington. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1 percent gain in the index from the month before.

William Raveis has statistics through October 31, and they show a completely different picture for Greenwich. One note: check out the average and median sale prices vs. asking: a lot of home sellers may be in for disappointment.

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 10.57.18 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 10.57.05 AM

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To make a full Cos Cobber, use shredded leaves and lawn clippings

 

Cob House

Cob House

Man creates Cob home in Jolly Old England

A farmer has built a house for just £150 using an ancient building technique and materials he found in skips.

Michael Buck, 59, used only natural materials or unwanted items to build the ‘cob house’ at the bottom of his garden in the Oxfordshire countryside.

The former art teacher, now a rural smallholder near Oxford, has started renting out the property and his current tenant – a worker on a neighbouring dairy farm – pays for her lodgings in milk.

 

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Flush with victories in the Middle East and domestically, our leader heads west to suck from his Billionaire friendss

 

If you like your currency, you must still give it to me.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what I can do for you – then pay me to make it happen

The Messiah’s been on the left coast since Sunday, begging for millions from his new friends.

Desperate to achieve a fully Democratic Congress for his final two years in office, President Obama today will hold four fundraisers as part of a massive West Coast swing designed to add several million dollars to Democratic coffers.

Today’s money events – two in San Francisco and two in Beverly Hills – come on top of two fundraisers Obama held Sunday in the Seattle area and at least one he will stage Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Most of the events are fat-cat fundraisers held for small groups of wealthy donors at private residences. They include one fundraiser for House Democrats, two jointly to fund the efforts of House and Senate Democrats, and four for the DNC. Much of the money will be poured into 2014 races around the country.

What’s more, Obama will reward megafundraiser Jeffery Katzenberg with a visit to his DreamWorks Animation for what the White House is billing as an official “event on the economy.” The appearance, along with an event on immigration today in San Francisco, ensures taxpayers pick up part of the tab for the political trip.

It occurs to me that if he had any hope of doing so, Obumski would stick around D.C. to make sure his Obamacare was getting back on track.That’s what someone “desperate to achieve a fully Democratic Congress” might do. If he thought he could.

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But I thought the science was settled?

 

Jersey Palisades, circa 2036

Jersey Palisades, circa 2036

Sunspots dwindling. Another ice age?

Odd that those precise computer models showing the exact date of the end of the earth don’t even consider solar activity, and stranger still that the warmists refuse to add them to their calculations now. Don’t confuse us with the facts, our minds are made up.

Washington (AFP) – The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late — with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century — prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

[S]unspots appear in roughly 11-year cycles — increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again.

But this cycle — dubbed cycle 24 — has surprised scientists with its sluggishness.

The number of spots counted since it kicked off in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it’s less than half.

“It is the weakest cycle the sun has been in for all the space age, for 50 years,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association physicist Doug Biesecker told AFP.

Cycle 23 hit its maximum in April 2000 with an average of 120 solar spots a day. The cycle then wound down, hitting bottom around December 2008, the point at which scientists marked the start of the current cycle.

The minimal solar activity at the end of cycle 23 led astronomers to predict a slow cycle 24. But the reality fell even below expectations.

In the first year of the cycle, during which solar activity should have risen, astronomers counted 266 days without a single sun spot.

The last time a sunspot cycle was this slow was in February 1906, the peak of cycle 14, with just 64 spots a day.

Some researchers speculate this could be the start of a prolonged period of weak solar activity.

The last time that happened, during the so-called “Maunder Minimum” between 1650 and 1715, almost no sunspots were observed. During the same period, temperatures dropped sharply on Earth, sparking what is called the “Little Ice Age” in Europe and North America.

As the sunspot numbers continue to stay low, it’s possible the Earth’s climate is being affected again.

And then, the obligatory nod to orthodox authority:

But thanks to global warming, we’re unlikely to see another ice age. “Things have not started to cooling, they just have not risen as quickly,” Biesecker said.

Uh huh.

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It comes up at my table, someone’s going to get a fork in his jowl

No food for anyone who hasn't signed up for ObamaCare - oops! No soup for (any of ) you!

No food for anyone who hasn’t signed up for ObamaCare – oops! No soup for (any of ) you!

Obama urges acolytes to preach ObamaCare at the Thanksgiving dinner. Shades of the Soviet Union.

President Barack Obama’s deputies at Organizing for Action are urging supporters to give an Obamacare pitch to their relatives during the most iconic of American family and religious events.

“Take advantage of downtime after meals or between holiday activities to start your talk,” says OFA’s marketing script, titled “Health Care for the Holidays.”

At Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, “people will be under the “misconception that the government-designed health-payment plans are too expensive,” says the presidential pitch, which was emailed out on Nov. 23.

“Tell them: There are a variety of plans available in the new health insurance marketplace, so you can pick one that fits your budget. There’s also financial assistance available based on how much you make,” says OFA’s script.

My fear is that after finishing his free-range tofu turkey and soybean casserole, Dollar Bill will hop on his solar-powered bicycle and tool over to my place and invite himself in for a dinnertime educational session.

Actual, that’s not a fear, that’s my fervent hope. Heh heh heh.

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Well cheer up, lads, you’ll soon be replaced by real robots

They're coming to take me away today ho ho, hey hey ...

They’re coming to take me away today ho ho, hey hey …

England: (some) Amazon warehouse workers complain about long hours, pace of work demanded. Britain’s Daily Mail has been on this theme for a while now, describing the poor workers  (Amazon employs 15,000 of them across the pond) “human robots”.  It’s a short lived problem; the trouble is, the market for unskilled workers is diminishing all the time, and Amazon is just the latest employer to recognize this. It paid $750 million to purchase a warehouse robot manufacturer in 2012, and is creating a whole new business out of it, selling to other companies like Amazon. As well, of course, as deploying them in its own warehouses. My advice? Stay in (trade) school.

UPDATE: This should speed up the transformation – Some of Amazon’s German workers strike for higher wages.

 

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