Greenwich Gossip

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I've Been Tagged...

...and I'm not even sure what that means. So, dear reader, let us try to find out together.

Herewith the "tag":

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Blogging Tips - Another Meme

Yep, I've been tagged for another meme. This is a bit different though. Check out the links and then add yours along with your blogging thoughts and tips.

Instructions: When this meme is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside the tips you especially like. Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general. After that, tag some other people. It was originally 10 others but I don't know 10 people who would do this. So make it 5-10. I'm changing the rules. Haha.

1. Look, read, and learn. ****-
Bill's comment: I've learned a ton from blogs, especially Diana Peterfreund's, Erica Ridley's, and the Manuscript Mavens'. I'll add a star.

2. Be EXCELLENT to each other. **-
Sound like a line from a movie...I'll pass.

3. Don’t let money change ya! *-
I'd sure like a chance to try this one...:-) But not sure it would affect my blog.

4. Always reply to your comments. ******* -
Probably a good tip...but I tend to pick and choose which ones to reply to. Life is short, and all that...time management is important, too. *Bill wonders if he can add half a, Vicki!*

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. *****-
Link, yes; the Sea of Technorati??...I'll pass.

6. Don’t give up - persistence is fertile. **-
Ooh, cute! I like that one. Sign me up!

7. Give link credit where credit is due. ******-
See my comment on time management above. It takes me time to figure out how to do links right, so I stick to the ones that really matter (to me, that is).

8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post.****-
Yes, I'm on board with this one. I love Diana's quirky pictures, Erica's travel and conference pics, and even some of the ones I post myself... ;-)

9. Visit all the bloggers that leave comments for you - it’s nice to know who is reading! ******-
Yup, I gotta admit I do this. It's how I met Erica, among other things - not to mention the rest of the Mavens and their fans.

10. When commenting on others’ blogs, a few kind words go a long way. – ***
I think Erica is perhaps the best exponent of this tip. In her honor I'll add a star.

11. When you’re starting out, comment on all the blogs you like to read; that way the bloggers will know that you exist! **
Ah...the Lurker Question rears its head. How do I get Ed Krumeich to de-lurk and post a comment? Answer: I probably won't. So no star here.

12. Make sure you check your links! By way of explanation–when you cut & paste the text of a meme, you don’t get the underlying links. If you just see text, you need to turn the text into links manually. If you see hyperlinks, you can cut & paste from the Page Source to get the HTML code and preserve the links. In Firefox, you can use Command/Apple-U to see this. The whole point of a meme is to spread link love, but you need more than just the text to do that.
OK, here's where I start to go out of my depth. I know Erica's tried to teach me (and others) how to do this, but when I link it's always a cut-and-paste thing rather than HTML. I'm not gonna be the first person to put a star on this one, that's for sure... :-)

13. Give your blog a theme/focus; make a niche for yourself. *****
Ah, yes, this one's right up my alley. Scribal wisdom interwoven with the latest hot gossip from Hedge Fund City...that's me!

14. Post on your blog daily and if not daily then at least 3 -4 times a week. Readers will not continue to come to your blog if there is not something new to read and comment on. And while you’re at it throw in a contest or two. **
And so we come to Miss Vicki herself, the charming damsel who has dragged me out onto the tagging dance floor. Should I not give her a star? Perhaps two? Yeah, I like that - let's go with two. ;-)

15. Make your blog a creative-writing experience. Play with your words, and your ideas. Bend and twist them into new shapes to see what they look like. Make bad puns (there are no good ones, so don't worry!). Have fun. Sharpen your writing skills. Learn from others how to write better, and, with luck, pass it on. Use words and language to help shape a new and better reality.

(Well, that's not so much a tip as a mini-essay, dear reader, but it's what the fingers wrote, so you're stuck with it.) Greenwich Gossip

Thanks to Openchannel for the tag. I’m supposed to tag (up to) 10 people... here goes:

Anne-Marie Carroll

Diana Peterfreund

Julie Leto and the rest of the Plotmonkeys

Tawny Weber

Erica Ridley

Bill Clark If you aren’t checking out his blog you should be. As well as his wonderfully funny and insightful comments on others.

Patricia W.

Ava Rose Johnson

So sorry if you didn't want to be tagged...I did pick people who I thought would add great tips for bloggers. :)


Well, here we are back in real time. I followed the instructions to cut and paste Vicki's "tag". Now what? I guess I have to * star the previous tips that I like. But how am I to do this? I'm not about to re-paste the whole thing and use that as my working copy, so I guess I'll just make adjustments to the text above. You will be able to track my contributions because I will use a * Greenwich green star, and my comments will likewise be in living Technicolor; thus if you ever get tagged, dear reader, you will have these bumbling efforts to guide (or perhaps mislead) you. So here goes.

*Bill scrolls back up to assign green stars to tips he likes*

OK, just one more thing, and then I guess I'm done. *I* have to tag someone - preferably 5-10 someones, but since this is my maiden effort, I'm gonna play it safe and just tag one person: the AuthorBabe.

For those who don't know her (yet), the AuthorBabe wrote Confessions of a Closet Catholic a couple of years ago, and has recently sold her second book, formerly titled Ketchup on My Cucumbers (new title still to apparate). She lives here in Greenwich, and can be identified by her authorial license plate, which was the proximate cause of our first meeting (I wanted to unscrew it then and there and put it on my car). She has two great kids and a cuddly dog, an English nanny known as Mary Poppins, and a finally-ex who is safely bestowed back in England (most of the time). Oh, and a great new friend known as the WebMeister, with whom she recently toured Germany (see her blog for fabulous pics and commentary). And so, without further ado (cue trumpets) I hereby tag:


*Bill wipes the sweat off his brow and hopes he has not disgraced himself too badly on his maiden venture into tagland*

*Time passes...*

Oh, Hell's bells - I forgot to add a blogging tip!! Guess my grade for this first effort is - yup - F minus.

*Bill sneaks back up to the body of the post to shoehorn in his tip, hoping nobody has yet flamed him for his flagrant omission*

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On the Lighter Side...

As you have seen, gentle reader, your scribe relishes the occasional opportunity to flex his literary muscles in the vein of the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. For those unfamiliar with this time-honored competition, a click on the link will prove enlightening.

Also to be noted is the annual Bad Hemingway contest, as set forth at the International Imitation Hemingway Competition article. Romps such as these bring joy to your scribe's heart, as they show that the age-old art of parody is not dead in our time.

Parody and satire are important tools in the battle against authoritarian institutions, largely because said AIs are incapable of understanding them and thus treat them as of no consequence. But consequential they are, dear reader, and they invariably outlive the AIs they skewer.

Consider, for example, Orwell's classic satire of Stalinist Russia, Animal Farm. It is still on school reading lists everywhere, while Uncle Joe's body and beliefs have long ago been eaten by worms. Or Swift's amazing Modest Proposal, which some in 18th-century England took literally, finding it an excellent solution to the "Irish problem". Gulliver's Travels, of course, pokes fun at many other aspects of English life of the period, including the then-current hot debate between Transubstantiation ("big-enders") and Consubstantiation ("little-enders"). Today, the Anglican Church has far more serious issues on its plate, some of which threaten its very survival as a world-wide entity.

So let us always keep our literary tools of irony and satire bright and sharp, for with them we can endeavor to change the societies in which we live for the better. Ah - I hear you ask, gentle reader, does that mean there is hope for the Greenwich Gestapo? An excellent question. It depends, to some degree, on what you mean by "hope". Some of the individual members, such as the one who spewed a barrage of four-letter invectives at your scribe in the Cos Cob Library parking lot the other day (as clear an example of disorderly conduct as you could hope to see), are beyond the pale and will remain there forever. (I leave it to the theologians among you to decide if there is a special place in Hell for crooked cops.) Others are just trying to do a job, despite indifference or corruption at the top. Now that Petey Robbins and Jimmy Walters are history, perhaps there is indeed a chance for the organization as a whole to improve.

It has always struck y0ur scribe as ironic that Greenwich, which should arguably have one of the best police forces in the country, instead has one which is unarguably among the worst. They are the jest of their counterparts in other nearby cities and towns, and as the faithful reader of this blog already knows, Greenwich is the safest place in the country to commit murder, or even to steal millions. Both happen with monotonous regularity around here. Arrests, if any, are almost always carried out by other police departments, such as the cops in Antwerp, Belgium, who arrested Marvin Frankel (you may recall, dear reader, that he operated a boiler shop and a love-slave operation on Lake Avenue, under the protection of off-duty members of the GG).

Oh, and let's not forget the cop who called a well-known interior decorator a "faggot" on Greenwich Avenue not long ago. Some cops in this Town, like the two stormtroopers in the library story, set themselves up as self-appointed judge and jury, even while they themselves break the laws of this state and our country. It doesn't tend to give one a lot of hope.

So your scribe is somewhat pessimistic that the GG can ever become the police force that the Town of Greenwich by rights should have. But the good news is that there is certainly plenty of room for we shall see, dear reader...we shall see.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How to Win an Award from the Town of Greenwich

Award for our Scribe? From the Town of Greenwich?!

(sounds of the AuthorBabe hitting the floor in a swoon of disbelief because wonders clearly never cease)

Pray tell!

By special request from the AuthorBabe, herewith - in narrative form, with apologies to Hemingway, Bulwer-Lytton, Snoopy, Kafka, Hammett, and other literary stalwarts - the backstory behind your scribe's recent award from the Town:

It was a dark and stormy morning. Snow fell. February bound the earth in its iron grip.

Inside the library it was warm. The man stood at the computer terminal, looking for a book in the on-line catalogue. His hand clutched another book, one he was desirous of reading. But he had not checked it out - yet.

Suddenly, a cop ranged in. Two of them, in fact. They planted themselves on either side of the man and invited him to join them outside the library, where it was cold, and snow was falling.

The library was warm. The man had not yet found the book he was searching for in the on-line catalogue. He politely declined the invitation of the cops and continued his computer search.

Rough hands seized him. His arms were forced behind him. Handcuffs were snapped upon his wrists, rendering them immobile. But his hands still held the book, the one he was desirous of reading, the one he had not yet checked out.

He was frog-marched to the front door. Hands began to work through his pockets. His keys and coins were thrown onto the floor. They were soon joined by his pen and notepad and his wallet. When all his personal possessions were strewn across the entryway, the man was seized again and forced towards the door.

He screamed. Two words only. "Police brutality!!" The crowd of wide-eyed onlookers shrank back a bit, but kept looking on. No one raised a hand. No one said a word.

The agents of the Greenwich Gestapo forced the man down the front steps and into the back seat of a waiting cruiser. In vain the man asked why this was happening, what law he had broken. The only response from the stormtroopers was a cryptic, "You'll find out when you get to court."

They left him there, handcuffed in the back seat of the cruiser, with the window open and the snow drifting in. The man was cold. He was wet. The stormtroopers went back inside the libary, where it was warm. The man grew colder. And wetter.

Finally they came out. "My book," said the man. "What book?" said Stormtrooper #1. "The one in my hands," replied the man.

Stormtrooper #1 looked at the book in the man's hands. "What about it?" he said. "I haven't checked it out," the man said.

Stormtrooper #1 removed the book from the man's hands and took it back inside the library, where it was warm. The man in the cold car became colder. Stormtrooper #2 snickered and got into the second patrol car. He drove away.

Stormtrooper #1 returned. He had checked out the book for the man. He put it back in the man's hands. He started up the engine. "What is your name?" asked the man.

Stormtrooper #1 did not answer. He put the patrol car into drive and drove it. To the Greenwich Gestapo headquarters.

He hauled the man out of the car. Not gently. He put the man in a wire cage. The man demanded to speak to a superior officer. Stormtrooper #1 ignored him.

Time passed. The man could not read his book because his hands were handcuffed behind him. Nothing happened. More time passed.

Finally a superior officer came in. He greeted the man by name. He let him out of the cage and took off the handcuffs. He offered to drive the man back to the library. In the front seat. The man accepted.

They entered the library together. Everyone watched from the corner of their eyes. No one said anything.

The superior officer marched up to the Deputy Director of the library. Her name was Inga Boudreau, a name that would soon live in infamy. The man knew she was a liar and a thief, but no one else seemed to know, or care. Yet.

Later she would herself be arrested, multiple times. She would be fired from her job at the library. She would be convicted for her crimes. But the time for all that was still in the future. And the man was still in the present.

The criminal Deputy Director was the one who had told the Greenwich Gestapo to arrest the man. The superior officer told her that her complaint had been false. She turned a shade of puke-green.

The superior officer gave the man back his belongings. Then he left. The man went back to the computer terminal to continue the search for the book he was looking for. No one inside the library said a word. The snow continued to fall.


Well, dear reader, there you have it: another slice of life in this charming Town of ours. Seven and a half years later, the guilty have been punished or pensioned off. And your scribe is richer by a modest four-figure settlement.

It was, all said, only an hour out of his life on that February day. So on an hourly basis, you might say he made out pretty well. Of course, there was the intervening lawsuit, and seven and a half years is a longish time to have to wait for justice to be done. The wheels grind pretty slowly in these here parts. And meanwhile, naturally, the legal bills of the Town of Greenwich (paid by you, dear taxpayer), ratcheted up well north of an immodest five-figure amount.

The scary thing, of course, is that this ever happened at all. And even scarier is the fact that no one - NO ONE - ever stood up to ask the cops what they thought they were doing. It was Germany in the 1930s all over again: the good lacked all conviction, while the worst were full of passionate intensity. Keep your head down. Close your eyes. Pretend it isn't happening.

Yes, gentle reader, it can happen here. Hell, it did happen here. Civil and consitutional rights can be and are trampled on by warrantless authority. Interestingly, all this took place in 2000, well before 9/11, well before Guantanamo, and well before the current administration's egregious assaults on the Bill of Rights.

Do you still wonder, dear reader, why your scribe refers to the local cops as the Greenwich Gestapo? And, dear AuthorBabe, has your question now been answered?

While he was President of Yale, the late Kingman Brewster was fond of using the phrase, "it depends whose ox is gored", when explaining which university faction was being the most vociferous at any given moment. In Nazi Germany, the general population ignored the plight of the Jews - it wasn't their ox being gored. And here in Greenwich, the general population ignores the troublesomely frequent misdeeds of the local police - again, it's someone else's ox in question. Until, of course, their own turn comes....

If your scribe had a dollar for every person who has come up to him over the past 15 years or so to tell him he was right about the GG, he would be a moderately wealthy man. But the vast majority of our fellow Townspeople, dear reader, continue to think and act - or not, as the case may be - very like the ones who stood by in the library on that February day and pretended that nothing was happening.

Scarier than Stephen King, when you think about it....

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Few Pics...

Another roll of scribal film has come from the local CVS, depicting various scenes of life here in the hedge fund capital of the world. As always, click on the picture to get the full-screen view.

Here is a picture of Diana Peterfreund's new book, Under the Rose. Note that the topless head motif is also echoed by the two books immediately underneath. Is this the new wave in book covers?

Here is the same scene a few days later. Diana's book is front and center on the kiddie shelf, surrounded by Eric Carle and the "it girls", whoever they may be. Your scribe helpfully took the book over to the store manager and read him the famous sex scene, at which point he quickly relocated Di's book to the shelves on the right.

And here we have "Queen Bea" cutting the Fourth of July cake at Town Hall, assisted by Jenny Larkin, Chris Hughes, and Col. Serge Gabriel.

Birthday girl Anonymous (her parents wouldn't give her name), a real-live niece of Uncle Sam, born on the Fourth of July, was also in attendance, and invited to take a swipe at the cake by Queen Bea.

One of the more charming aspects of our fair Town is the unceasing and unremitting construction that goes on just about all over. We build it, we tear it down, we build it bigger, etc., etc. Some were scandalized to see a port-a-potty happily ensconced at the top of Greenwich Avenue, greeting shoppers as they began their struggle to find a parking place. Some felt it lowered the tone of the Town to have this homely outhouse on the local version of Worth Avenue or Rodeo Drive; others, your scribe among them, felt it was a not inapt symbol of some of the changes along Greenwich Avenue during the past couple of decades. Can you say, "Down the toilet", dear reader?

By the way, an article in yesterday's Local Rag, aka the Yellowwich Time, noted that vacancy rates on the Avenue are running at a rate of some 10%. Your scribe thinks that figure may be a tad on the low side; certainly, many long-time locals are commenting that they have never seen so many vacant storefronts in their lifetime. The reason? Greedy landlords charging $100 a square foot or more, and brainless chain stores who think they can get rich quickly just by opening a storefront in Greenwich. Interestingly, many of these BCS's have left with their tail between their legs after only a year or two. But the damage has been done, as yet another local landmark was no doubt forced to close so that the BCS could come in and wreak its self-destructive havoc.

Here we have moving, Greenwich-style. This just-built house was about to be torn down because the new owner wanted to build something even bigger...or did I already say that? Loath to see a perfectly good brand-new house go to waste, a savvy buyer purchased it and moved it to a vacant lot nearby, where no doubt it will serve as more than adequate shelter for its occupants for at least a few more years. Can you imagine, dear reader? In our disposable economy today, Greenwich leads the way: we build and tear down disposable houses.

Well, enough for now. Your scribe has places to go and people to see; of which more anon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The reason this post is untitled, dear reader, is that I have no inkling of what it will be about. I am merely sitting here and typing, waiting to see what develops.

Someone wiser than your scribe once said that writing flows down the arm and through the pen and onto the page, or words to that effect. These days, of course, most of us use computers, so the process now goes arm--> keyboard-->screen-->laser printer. But what makes for good writing, then as now?

A post on Erica Ridley's blog, Erica Writes, or rather, at her group blog, Manuscript Mavens, got some of us thinking about that question today. If this is a topic of any interest to you at all, dear reader, then click on over to MM and put in your own two cents' worth. Your scribe's tuppenny worth in the comments section went thus:

"But the book has attitude. Helen Fielding has voice. [Part of Erica's post.]

"Yeah, [wrote your scribe] I think that says it all right there - attitude and voice. I think those are the prime reasons I'm so addicted to Amy Haskell and Trevor Masterson (and Daisy and Maeve). The rest of it all - setting, plot, realistic vs. imagined world, historical era, whatever - hardly matters without those two elements. They are merely hooks on which to hang those two all-important factors.

"A case in point: I just finished "Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant," based on the "Queen of Sky" blog that got author Ellen Simonetti fired from Delta Airlines (from which she later received a nice but undisclosed settlement). It was another book I just couldn't stop reading once I'd started. And why?

"Yup. Attitude and voice. Takes the cake every time."

And that, dear reader, is what your faithful reporter has unconsciously been trying to instill into these pages. Does your scribe have attitude? Probably too much, in Lurker Ed's viewpoint, which is why you will not see any comments from him in these pages. But privately, Ed allows as how he enjoys reading them...he just doesn't want to be associated with them, lest people think that he, too, partakes of your scribe's attitude...'twould not be good for business, no doubt.

(BTW, your scribe owes Ed a vote of thanks for his vote last evening, in which the Town of Greenwich appropriated a modest sum as an award to your intrepid reporter...thanks, Ed!)

How about voice? Well, once again we turn to Ed, who has commented favorably in the past - sotto voce, of course - on the quality of your scribe's writing. Others have expressed outright surprise: "Gee, I didn't know you could write so well!" One wonders what they expected from a published author; perhaps their usual "beach reading" doesn't rise to the level of Dickens or Dostoevsky. Y'all have noticed the scribal tone, of course, which affects repertorial even-handedness even while dishing out the most outrageously outspoken of personal opinions; you may thank his readings of Jonathan Swift for that. So yes - your scribe thinks he has that base pretty well covered, too.

So there you have it, dear reader: a link to Miss Erica and the Mavens, a mini-book review of Ellen Simonetti's fabulous blog-turned-published-book, and a brief tutorial on what makes for good writing. Not to mention the welcome news of your scribe's award from the Town of Greenwich.

Not bad, all in all. But I still can't think of a title for this post.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Showing the Flag

We raised the flag at Town Hall this morning, its red and white and blue fluttering in the cool breeze. Then we sang "The Star-Spangled Banner". Then we sang "La Marseillaise".

Yes, dear reader, it was the French flag we raised. Actually, Col. Serge Gabriel was the prime raiser, assisted by young Martine Correll. And then we celebrated Bastille Day with a traditional continental breakfast with all the fixin's.

The venue for the not-so-petit dejeuner was Meli-Melo, where we were regaled with fresh-squeezed orange juice, cafe au lait, petits pains and baguettes with French butter and confiture aux fraises, and sticky buns (your scribe is sure they have a name for these in France, but was too busy ingesting them to enquire into the matter). The pieces de resistance were the fresh crepes hot off the griddle and dusted with butter and sugar. Talk about melt in the mouth!

"Cuisine minceur," one wag was heard to say, as he started in on his second crepe. Your scribe, who had contented himself with only half a crepe (offering the other half to Col. Gabriel), took that as a signal to draw the line after the third sticky bun. But of course he felt obliged to try a petit pain with the luscious strawberry jam than only the French know how to make; and that turned out to be so yummy that he had to have a second one to be sure his palate was not misleading him. (It wasn't.)

And so here he sits, contentedly full, narrating the experience for those of you who were unable to attend. It was nice to hear a greeting, via the French Consulate in New York City, that quoted the new President of France as saying that America could always count on her French friends to help out in times of genuine need. Clearly the unpleasantness in Iraq did not rise to that level, in their estimation; and it is beginning to appear that they were right. No WMDs were found, the country's infrastructure is in far worse shape than before we came in, the national museum has been pillaged, sectarian violence erupts daily, and today's New York Times has a front-page picture of an America soldier slumped amidst a recently-liberated heap of rubble "while across town his comrades battled Iraqi police officers," according to the caption.

Your scribe had to read that once twice to be sure his eyes were not deceiving him. Then he turned to the Doonesbury comic strip for today to seek confirmation. Both sources agreed that the US is now fighting the very militia we are supposedly training in the war on terrorism. To add insult to injury, the Iraqi Prime Minister is being quoted today as saying that we can leave "any time we want."

So why are we still there? If your scribe were in President Bush's shoes, he would immediately hold a referendum - like, this coming week - and if a majority of the Iraqi people wanted us to go home, home we would go. If it were a very large majority, as one suspects it might be, your scribal c-in-c would order the pull-out to proceed on the double. Why should we stay where we are not wanted, and where the very soldiers we train are now training their guns on us?

Back to our French friends. It would be the easiest thing in the world for them to say to us, "We told you so." But they are far too gentlemanly, and the ties between our great countries are far too old and too deep for such flippancy.

We are lucky to have such friends as the French. Someday, one hopes, our country will look back on this chapter of our national history and say to them, "Thank you for trying to warn us. You were right. We were wrong."

It won't happen during this administration, of course. But maybe someday. Meanwhile, dear reader, please remember that Lord Cornwallis tried to surrender his sword to the French after the Battle of Yorktown, because it was they, not the Americans, who were the real victors that day. But Rochambeau refused the sword, and pointed towards Washington. The British band played "The World Turned Upside Down", and the American Revolution was all but over. Thanks to our friends the French.

Vive la France!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mel Gibson Moves On...

Life in Greenwich is never dull, dear reader. Would-be gentleman farmer and erstwhile actor/director Mel Gibson is turning in his pitchfork and putting his 76-acre "farm" on the market. Those of you with an extra $39.5 million in the bank may want to head over and take a look at the 13-bedroom, 16,000 square feet farmhouse that Mel has been calling home for the past few years. And perhaps check out the tennis courts, swimming pool, stable, putting green, and greenhouse as well.

But be prepared to pay the texes. Mel tried to get his lowered by adding some livestock to his acreage and declaring his homestead a working farm. But it didn't pass the smell test at the assessor's office, which declared: "Anyone can have a few pigs in their backyard, but a viable farm is more than having something for personal use. It's about producing a viable product." So good ol' Farmer MacGibson is shucking his straw hat, and looking for another place to hang it.

No, indeed, life in Greenwich can never be dull as long as we have the likes of Mr. G to entertain us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Heat Wave

Well, it's summer, so no one should be surprised when the three H's raise their seasonal tri-partite heads. Yesterday, one hears, temperatures were in the 90's from one coast to the other. Today is the third in a row of 90+ degree weather here in Greentown, and more are forecast in the days to come.

Time was, your scribe remembers, when a day in the 90's was a pretty unusual occurrence. We might get one or two in a summer. But four and five in a row? Seems as though every recent summer has featured one or more of these unspeakable stretches, thereby hinting that they are now the norm, not the exception.

So are we to conclude that global warming is a reality, not a myth? Your scribe, though no climatologist, is beginning to find that the empirical evidence - the kind he understands best - is becoming overwhelming. The age-old glaciers he visited as a teenager in Europe have retreated miles up their valleys. Alpine ski seasons have become truncated to the point of non-existence. Record-breaking heat waves have hit Europe. The snows of, are there any left?

In one of his Narnia stories, C. S. Lewis describes the dead world of Charn, in which the heat of an aging sun has dried everything to dust. But that process, in Lewis' version, takes many generations. Your scribe is beginning to think that he has seen more climatological change in his relatively short lifetime than any ten generations previous have seen.

And that's scary. Consider the changes of the past few decades, dear reader, and extrapolate them into the next few. Will the so-called "balance of nature" continue to swing further out of whack, or will the pendulum start to return towards the center? And if so - either "so" - why? Discuss in an essay of 500 words or more, drawing on your own personal observations and experience.

Meanwhile, the SUVs continue to clog the streets of Town, air-conditioning cranked to the max, and some of the chain stores on Greenwich Avenue leave their doors wide open to entice shoppers into the cooler air inside...while allowing untold KwHs of wasted energy to escape to the superheated sidewalks.

Let it never be said, fellow citizens, that our Town did not play its part in the climatological changes of the 21st century.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tax Time

Yes, folks, it's the time of year when rich and poor, estated and apartmented, Bentleyed and Forded, all gather at Town Hall for the joyous ritual of forking over their tax payments to the ever-amiable Lou Caravella. Usually your scribe waits until the last minute - which is August 1 - to line up with all the other dilatory payors. (The worst lines are on July 31, which those who don't read the fine print think is the deadline; the queue can snake out the front door, and the wait time is such that many people bring a book and a camp stool.)

This year, however, in a fit of public-spirited generosity, your faithful reporter went in 29 days early, figuring the Town could perhaps earn a penny or two of interest on his pittance. Imagine his surprise when he actually had to wait a moment or two, while the woman in front of him wrote out a substantial five-figure check for her bill, and then learned to her surprise that she could have written a check for half the amount if she'd chosen to pay in equal semi-annual installments. But it didn't seem to faze her; perhaps the notion of coming back in January to pay the second half conflicted with her busy winter travel schedule.

Then your scribe sidled up to the window with his much more modest bill, for which he tendered cash. The equal-opportunity clerk treated him with the same politeness and deference as she had shown the rich lady - not a jot more, nor a tittle less. All in all, paying taxes in Greenwich is a not-unpleasant experience, as long as you avoid the last-minute crush.

What, you may ask, do one's taxes provide in return? Ah, dear reader, if you have been paying attention over the past year, you will know we have the finest cadre of municipal employees money can buy (oops...did that come out right?), a police force second to all, and an educational system that spends money like a drunken sailor on facilities that were obsolete before they were completed (Glenville School - the windowless wonder - and the ineffable high school auditorium spring to mind), and then spends tens of millions more to replace them with project after project that comes in way over budget and way behind deadline. Does the bloated educational bureaucracy in this Town ever learn from its past mistakes? Hah! They consider themselves all-wise and all-knowing; theirs is to tell us how wonderful they are, not to learn. After all, at their exalted position atop the pinnacle of the educational pyramid, they are long past the learning stage.

Alas and alack, dear reader; and thus it is ours to pay...and pay...and pay. Boondoggle after boondoggle is perpetrated on our poor Town - well, not poor exactly, but you know what I mean. Even as school enrollment declines, the educational bureaucracy continues to bloat, not to mention the body count at Town Hall, where it seems that many of the "worker" bees are busy mostly with calculating how much time they have left until they can collect their pensions. It is more than possible that the Town of Greenwich has replaced the Federal Government as the employer of last resort.

Except, of course, for the nice ladies in the Tax Collector's office, who are always ready to take your money quickly and efficiently and with a smile. "There now, that didn't hurt a bit," they seem to say; "see you next year." So pleasant are they that one almost looks forward to it...with a slight stress on the "almost". After all, given the choice of life's two great inevitabilities, taxes are generally to be preferred.