Monthly Archives: January 2014

Food Police to the rescue

Thug and brigand, Riley Pearson

Thug and brigand, Riley Pearson

Boy, six, suspended from school for four days after package of cheese crisps is discovered in his lunch box. Why such leniency? England has ended capital punishment for those under seven. “But he’d better watch it next year,” vowed headmaster Jeremy Meek,”or we’ll show the little rat-bastard what for.”

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Market evolution

18 Porchuck Rd

18 Porchuck Rd

A reader commented today on the disparity between 17 Hendrie Avenue, in Riverside, asking $4.2 million, and 18 Porchuck Road, back country/Merritt, asking $4.5:

Wow, 18 Porchuck looks like an incredible value albeit possibly noisy.
The difference for me is that it looks like a mansion that costs millions and millions whereas in any other place (north carolina comes to mind), 17 Hendrie is just a nice newish house on a small piece of land.

The discrepancy is easily explained: no one wants 18 Porchuck’s style house any more – that’s not just my opinion, the market is shouting that conclusion. Ogilvy brought it on 18 months ago for $9.5 million and has chopped that price all the way down to $4.5 and still can’t sell it (by the way, I was gently chided by a friend at this morning’s GAR meeting for telling the NYT  “for houses asking $10 million and up, my rule of thumb is to divide the price by two, although the owner’s ego always makes that hard to do.” My colleague thought that was unduly harsh but, while I can’t do high math, it seems to me that this house bears out that algorithm quite nicely.)

I digress. My point is, I remember the couple that own this house as being lovely, successful people with a beautiful home in Riverside. As the husband achieved the very top of his profession and the children grew older, they shucked Riverside and moved on up to the back country to buy this old, 1931 house that, in 1980, still spoke of arrival-of having made it. That’s what people did back then, but they don’t do it now;  they don’t want to. Riverside is now aspirational, the back country is just, for most buyers, an out of the way place, rarely visited.

Things could swing back, there might be a resurgence in demand for brown furniture and dark houses with leaded windows, six miles from town, but probably not soon. There are certainly still people who like this style of house but the trouble is, most of them are old, and aren’t interested in taking on 12,000 square feet of home. Younger people seem to want something different.

My guess is that 18 Porchuck will eventually sell for land value, whatever that is – nine acres on the Merritt’s a tough one to value, but I’d think not too far off what the place is asking for now. We’ll know if I’m right if the house is still standing a year after the property sells. I say it won’t.

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Sometimes what looks like a bargain, isn’t

 

7 Dwight Lane

7 Dwight Lane

7 Dwight Lane has finally sold after almost four years for $3.3 million. This was a wreck of a house when it was sold at foreclosure auction for $2.5 million in 2008, and the buyers put a lot of money into fixing it up before returning it to the market in 2010 for $4.125. $3.3 is not an insignificant sum, but I’d guess that after paying for those repairs and improvements plus commissions, taxes and carrying costs, the sellers didn’t make much, if anything, for their labors.

Gambling on real estate in fringe areas is risky.

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And what’s with questioning the divine right of kings? What’s that all about, by jove!

 

Tourist Crown woven from sustainable fibers

Tourist Crown woven from sustainable fibers

Prince Charles demands unquestioning obedience to the “science” of global warming.

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles… said it was “baffling … that in our modern world we have such blind trust in science and technology that we all accept what science tells us about everything – until, that is, it comes to climate science.”

Perhaps that blind trust was shattered when it was discovered that Charlie’s science pals have been engaged in exaggeration, half-truths and outright fraud. It’s unsurprising that the man who would be king would like to see a return to blind trust in one’s betters, but while the masses once were blind, now they see.

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They’ll be fat, but awesome videogame players

A child plays in a simpler time

Child play in a simpler time and place

Sports fall out of favor with school kids.

In recent decades, while some outdoor play—climbing trees, jumping rope, playing tag—faded as a childhood pastime, organized sports remained relatively strong. But that bright spot is dimming.

Social networking, videogames and other technology may be drawing children away from sports. As many as 140 kids used to try out for 45 slots on the baseball team at Shawnee Mission North High School in Overland Park, Kan. Today, fewer than 45 kids try out, says George Sallas, the school’s athletic director.

“Kids are more trained now to stay at home and play videogames,” he says. “Sports don’t intrigue them.”

Fifteen-year-old Jessica Cronin is the daughter of a former three-sport high-school athlete. But Jessica doesn’t participate in high-school sports, choosing to spend her time outside of class volunteering in her community and going to her temple youth group each Wednesday. “I considered doing track, but it takes up so much time,” said Ms. Cronin, a sophomore at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, N.Y.

Football faces another hurdle: growing concern that concussions and other contact injuries can cause lasting physical damage.

Some public-health officials believe the risks associated with playing football and other sports are overblown, especially compared with the risks of not playing anything at all. “In terms of overall health, I’m more concerned about an inactive child than a child suffering a head injury,” says Cedric X. Bryant, Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise.

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Where’d they go?

You'll just have to help us out 'til they turn up

You’ll just have to help us out ’til they turn up

Greenwich Fire Department seeks firehouse, nine firemen.

Oscar Wilde said, “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” I’d say misplacing a firehouse and an entire crew falls into the latter category.

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I understand her dismay, but the times have changed

(Norma Bartol does not appear in this picture)

(Norma Bartol does not appear in this picture)

Greenwichite Norma Bartol celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Greenwich Riding and Trails Association, and then turns her attention to the loss of privacy these days.

It amazes me the amount of time folks spend on their machines, not necessarily on business or letters, but just plain exploring. I must confess I sat down and did some diddling with my computer and, lo and behold, I discovered a lot of stuff all about me!

My columns? This I could understand. But pictures of me on horseback, as a little girl in Belle Haven, at parties of the Greenwich Riding and Trails Association? How in the world did they get there? I don’t like it, and I wonder, if there is anything I can do about it. Unfortunately, I asked some friends who are big in the computer world and their answer was a definite “no.” So much for that.

Curious myself, I Googled “Norma Bartol” in “images” and sure enough, the first picture that turns up is one of a very attractive young woman standing near her horse. I won’t publish that here, out of deference to her sensitivity to appearing in the mass media, but yes, the days of minding one’s business and expecting others to mind theirs is long gone. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve advanced that process in a tiny way.

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