Daily Archives: May 16, 2014

When better chips are made, Harvard women will make them

 

Mmm, mmm good!

Mmm, mmm good!

Coming soon, “Chirpsters”, made from ground-up crickets.

Three recent Harvard grads recently set up a $30,000 Kickstarter campaign to make tortilla chips out of ground-up crickets; they weren’t sure they’d make it. 

As it turns out, they cleared their goal in just three days, and will have raised well over $60,000 by next week. Is this a sign of the edible insect zeitgeist?

Enter Six Foods, a fledgling Boston snack company. Chirps, a tortilla-style chip made of ground crickets, are calculated to soften our insect aversion. Six Foods’ co-founders experimented for months in Harvard dorm kitchens, looking for the perfect launch product. It wasn’t hornworm salsa, or mealworm cookies. It was Chirps.

Co-founder Rose Wang says they juggled various goals during the test period. The final product had to imprint a unique taste. At the same time, they didn’t want to overpower other flavors, or make people squeamish. Worms were eventually rejected – too hard a sell in the U.S. market. “Crickets are not only easier to accept,” says Wang, “they also have more health benefits.”

Co-founder Laura D’Asaro caught the insect bug on a trip to Tanzania, after trying a tasty fried caterpillar. She called Wang, her college roommate, to share the experience. Turned out that Wang had her own epiphany after eating scorpion-on-a-stick in Beijing. Both women knew the UN had recently released a report, advocating the sustainability of an insect diet. Fate was knocking.

Look for them in your local Whole Foods soon.

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Fun-loving Democrats strike again

 

Collateral damage

Collateral damage

Ct votes to become first state in the nation to ban chocolate milk in schools.

Chocolate milk has just 58 more calories than regular milk, and studies show that milk consumption in school cafeterias plummets when the chocolate-flavored is unavailable, but who can resist the opportunity to be first in the nation? In anything?

“Right now, we’re ranked only second in the state with the most residents -49% – who want to leave,” Governor Dannel Malloy told FWIW. “This might just push us over the top. This, and the new taxes I’ve got coming.”

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This should work

New-fangled

New-fangled

Goose busters: photo-drones converted to scare geese away.

Real estate agents are increasingly turning to photocopters to add pizzazz to their listings, but this sounds like an even better use. And it seems you can switch back and forth between the two.

You’re on the beach. It’s a lovely sunny day, then, out of nowhere, a remote-controlled helicopter sporting bright flashing lights and blasting the menacing howl of a gray wolf through loud speakers pops up and puts you in its sights.

Although it sounds like science fiction, this is a realistic day at the beach this summer in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. That is, if you’re a goose.

These wandering waterfowl return to the beaches that line the Ottawa River every summer after wintering south of the border. Although known to be aggressive and territorial, the biggest issue is their poisonous poop.

Loaded with E. Coli bacteria (among a plethora of other pathogens), high concentrations of geese poop on beaches and in shallow water can lead to outbreaks of the infection in human populations, particularly children.

In the past the city of Ottawa has tried a number of different methods of ridding their beaches of these pesky poopers, but after a chance encounter last year, they went high-tech.

Although known to be aggressive and territorial the biggest issue with geese is their poisonous poop.

Enter the GooseBuster, an aerial-photography drone turned anti-goose-copter. While drones are notoriously used on more violent missions, Steve Wambolt, the founder of Aerial Perspective, takes a more gentle approach.

“I approached my city councilor with a pitch to sell aerial photographs I had been taking with my drone and the first thing he asked was how low can the thing fly,” says Wambolt, a former military man turned high-tech entrepreneur. “At first I was surprised, I wondered if he even listened to my presentation, then he asked if I’d be able to scare geese with it because they had a major goose-poop problem around Petrie Island, I said sure, I could do that.”

Wambolt modified his photography drone with some flashing lights and speakers and took to the skies.

“I took existing land-based anti-pest technology and put it on a helicopter,” he says. “When I tested it at the beach a few days later it worked remarkably well.”

Myself, I’m a traditionalist:

Tried and true: "if it flies, it dies."

 “if it flies, it dies.”

 

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I hope it passes: it will be interesting to watch

 

She's got my vote! Michelle Hunzicker, who has nothing to do with this post except that she's (a) Swiss and (b) really - that's it.

She’s got my vote! Michelle Hunzicker, who has nothing to do with this post except that she’s (a) Swiss and (b) no, really – that’s it.

Swiss voting on a $25 minimum wage. That’s $54,000 a year for unskilled labor, plus all of Switzerland’s expensive social benefits. Advocates for this sort of thing claim that the sky’s the limit, and there will be no ill effect on unemployment or the economy if rates go up. Better the Swiss experiment than us, although, sensible people that they are, I suspect they’ll let us go first.

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Another spec house added to the Bramble Lane inventory

 

38 Bramble Lane

38 Bramble Lane

This time it’s number 38, $3.995 million. I don’t share the builders’ enthusiasm for this street but buyers seem to.

Sold as a tear down in 2013 for $1.5 and change.

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Sale on Langhorne Lane

 

35 Langhorne Lane

35 Langhorne Lane

35 Langhorne Lane, up off Round Hill, sold for $1.490 million. (The link is to the NYT, which treats the public better than the Greenwich Association of Realtors when it comes to providing useful information; when your own association is worse than the New York Times, you know there’s trouble).

Started at $1.625 million a year ago,  which wasn’t at all a crazy price, so I suppose the delay was cause by the contemporary style and the location north of the Merritt. But it’s a fine home, and to be in a nice house for $1.5 in Greenwich, not bad.

Alternatively, the buyer now has a house on four acres that she bought for land value, so if she doesn’t want to take advantage of the free house, she can tear it down and start anew, no harm done.

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Price cut in Old Greenwich

 

5 Sylvan Lane

5 Sylvan Lane

5 Sylvan Lane, now $3 million instead of $3.895. That seems wise; in fact, what were they thinking?

But it’s a nice house, and much more sensibly priced now. Public open house this Sunday, its listing says, so you may want to check it out. Personally, I’d reclaim what was once its back yard by ripping out the pool and joining Rocky Point instead. Or walk to the beach.

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Sales and contracts

 

 

17 Calhoun Drive

17 Calhoun Drive

17 Calhoun Drive closed at $3.295 million, asked $3.595

71 Rock Maple Rd

71 Rock Maple Rd

71 Rock Maple Road, off Stanwich, has a contract. Last asking price was $5.295, started with another broker two years ago at $5.650. Owner paid $5.487 back in 2004.

346 Stanwich Rd

346 Stanwich Rd

346 Stanwich, $2.795 ask, has a contract. I told its broker that his original suggested price of $3.8 million back in 2013 was bat shit crazy; we’re still friends, and he still sells far, far more real estate than I do, so last laugh is his. Two decent acres and despite what my friend says, a tear-down on the property.

85 Dingletown Rd

85 Dingletown Rd

Rumor has it that 85 Dingletown Rd has a deal, but no report so far. Last asking price was $2.298 million; I always liked it around $1.7, but it never got there, at least when I had clients for it. Back when I was just starting out on this dirt-selling adventure in 2002, the house had a price tag of $2.750 and even as a newbie, I thought that was friggin’ ridiculous. Twelve years later I was proved right, but I still couldn’t sell it. Nice house, although it shows the effects of long term rentals, badly, and rocky yard. Worked for me, regardless and, if rumors are right, also for a genuine buyer.

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Old Greenwich sale

 

23 Tomac Avenue

23 Tomac Avenue

66 Tomac Avenue, $2.395 million, reports a contract, 25 days after being listed. If you subtract the usual delays between an accepted offer and the contract itself, this was probably gone in about ten days. Owner / agent Joy Kruger defied the stereotype about agents always overpricing their homes, and nailed it.

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Why don’t Westchester residents move across the border?

36 Day Road

36 Day Road

Some do, but I’m mildly surprised to note how few New York residents move across the divide to Greenwich in order to save on property taxes. Take 36 Day Road, for instance, which today dropped its price to $4.495 from $4.925.  It’s a standard builder’s special from the 90s, not sufficiently unique to draw Greenwich residents all the way up to the NY border, but it’s very close to Armonk, and you’d think someone there would be tempted to hop states. Given the lengthy time houses up here spend on the market, that pool of buyers is thinner than logic would suggest.

That’s good news for the New York politicians, of course – spend away, gentlemen, you seem to have a captive wallet.

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And he’s out of here

Leatherwork class in Ossining

Leatherwork class in Ossining

Frederic Bourke was released from prison March 21 and has now sold his property at 17 Fort Hill Road (off of Rogues Hill), for $9 million. It started at $15 million under the Ogilvy brand, was relisted with Joe Barbeiri @$13, and got still less. For 11 acres (just 2 building lots, though) adjoining the Round Hill Club, that’s not a bad price, although I’d guessed around $8. Of course, eight million is closer to nine million than nine million is to fifteen, but hey ….

Wounded duck

Wounded duck

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This would probably work with obnoxious children too

See ya

See ya

Study: Best way to rid garden of snails is to toss them over onto neighbor’s yard.

Throwing snails over the garden fence is generally frowned upon, but it is a remarkably effective way of getting rid of the pests, scientists have found. The only catch – apart from the feelings of your neighbours – is that you need to have a very good throwing arm. Because a new study has found that snails rarely return from more than 65 feet (20 metres), just short of the length of a cricket pitch.

Gardening lore, passed down over the generations, has held that a snail will always return to munch on the prize lettuces or azaleas in your garden, no matter how far the mollusc is thrown.

Legend has it that a snail’s homing instinct is so strong that it can travel back to from a mile or more.

But academics from the universities of Exeter and Queen Mary London have disproved the stories, and found that a snail’s homing instinct is very limited.

They almost always failed to return from distances of 20 metres or more, the study published in the journal Physica Scripta said.

 

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Let’s go to the video tape

“Workers” in Oregon stage “strike” at MacDonald’s to demand a minimum wager of $15 per hour. I look at the video, and don’t see a single demonstrator who looks as though she’d park her Prius long enough to earn a single hour’s pay , let alone spend a week at the fry vat.

Fast food worker? Doubtful.

Hasn’t been laid since the Summer of Love

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