• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on And another thing…
    William on And another thing…
    William on And another thing…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The next obstacles on the…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The next obstacles on the…
    Beata on The next obstacles on the…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The next obstacles on the…
    Colorful Sisters on The next obstacles on the…
    William on The next obstacles on the…
    bellecat on So what?
    MsMass on So what?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on So what?
    MsMass on So what?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on So what?
    riverdaughter on So what?
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    October 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Surprise!
      Newly released data shows that properties owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies profited from pandemic relief programs: In total, it was more than 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million. https://t.co/O4Ltezu7lj — Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 2, 2020
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Schools and Covid
      Back in August, when it became clear that schools were going to reopen in countries like the US and Britain that did not have Covid under control, and which never would control Covid until there is a vaccine, I wrote an article warning against going back to school while Covid was out of control. I’d […]
  • Top Posts

Life in post-apocalyptic New Jersey

Hi everyone, this is the first time in 2 days that I’ve been able to get decent cell phone service so I’m going to try to update as completely as I can.

Monday night was scary. Brooke had just finished her class online when Sandy made landfall at about 8:10pm. The lights stayed on until about 8:15 and then for an hour and a half, it sounded like a freight train was bearing down on us. We had been getting gusts off and on throughout the evening but when Sandy made landfall, it was one continuous gust coming from the southeast. The back of the house faces that direction. About 30 feet from the house, the landscape slopes up about 15 feet to where the pool is located. I think it was the berm that acted as a natural windbreak that saved our house from any structural damage. There is plenty of damage in our immediate neighborhood. The neighbor to my immediate left lost a tree close to the house. He’s very lucky he didn’t lose more. He’s not protected by the pool elevation so he got the wind straight on.

I don’t know how fast the wind was moving but in comparison, I waited out hurricane Charlie in a condo in Naples, Florida facing the gulf. I’d say the wind was at least that strong. So, if someone says 100 mph, that wouldn’t be far off, in my guesstimation. Brooke was upstairs in her room in the central most part of the house and she said she heard a lot of snapping noises. I was downstairs in the back of the house and could hear ominous groaning throughout the worst of it. It turns out that this is what trees sound like as they’re being uprooted. The house trembled and shook and it sounded like the roof was going to lift off.

I turned on my crankable radio and listened to Leonard Lopate broadcasting via generator from WNYC. He and Will Shortz did a good job keeping everyone calm. But when they reported that the wind was going to keep up like that for about another 3 hours, I started to get nervous. For reference, my town is about 36 miles from NYC as the crow flies directly west. So, whatever winds they were getting were the same ones I was getting minus the storm surge. In fact, this hurricane was very different from Irene. There was very little rain and the basement stayed dry.

The Aftermath

After I checked the house the next morning and discovered that we miraculously escaped any damage, Brooke and I went out to get gas for the generator. Now, we’re about an hour away from Belmar so we didn’t get the massive flooding but we have some pretty severe damage to the power lines. As we exited our development, we saw probably a hundred downed trees, including a tree that was (and is still) leaning dangerously over the power line and the street. There’s a traffic cone to direct traffic around it but it won’t help anyone if it falls. It’s a ginormous tree. For that reason, the road is blocked off in the return direction, which means we had to get on rt 206 to get back home. That’s when we saw about half of the main thoroughfare was closed because of more downed and live power lines. There were only two gas stations opened in this town of about 40,000 people and one of them ran out of gas at about 5:00pm yesterday. Exxon was closed although I can’t see any clear reason for that when the gas station across the street was open and so were a couple of other businesses on its side of the street.

This morning, the other gas station was closed. They must have run out of gas later in the evening.
There’s no place to get ice.

The New Jersey Hall of Shame award has to go to Jersey Firewood (jerseyfirewood.com on rt 206 that is gouging local residents for firewood, Yep, the MFers won’t sell less than 20 cubic feet to customers. It’s not like they’re going to run out. They have a couple of acres of firewood but if you aren’t going to buy a t least 20 cubic feet, they won’t sell you so much as a single log. They have no problem selling a small bundle any other time of the year. Just not now. So, since I have just a small car and can’t imagine needing that much firewood anyway, I had to do without. No amount of begging and pleading would get me so much as a stick of kindling. I can’t believe they’re able to get away with this in an emergency situation. We have a couple of Duraflame logs and a few logs so we should be ok tonight but unless the gas situation gets better tomorrow, we’re going to have to just wear our thermal undies and burn some furniture.

What really burns my oatmeal is that Jersey Firewood will have plenty of free material to sell next year when the downed trees are cut up and the logs allowed to season. Avoid these people like the plague.

The local Hall of Fame Award goes to the guys as the Getty gas station on rt 206. They weren’t even planning to open yesterday but they did. They opened early in the morning and kept going until late in the evening when they finally ran out of gas. I saw the same gas station attendant twice as I refilled my 2.5 gallon container. He was directing people very efficiently and keeping the line moving even though I could tell he was exhausted from 12 hours of bending over to fill the tanks. I offered to bring him hot chocolate, cider, coffee, a beer, anything he wanted. He finally cracked a smile and said he’d love a beer but he’d be done for the day at that point.

This afternoon as I went looking for firewood, I saw the Comcast and PSEG trucks finally in the vicinity of my neighborhood. I think the rate limiting step is going to be dealing with that massive tree that’s threatening to fall down. But there are a lot of them.

John Hockenberry is taking Sandy Stories in the evenings on WNYC. Some of the stories coming out of Newark and Hoboken are hair raising. You would not believe what these two cities have been through. Half of Hoboken is under water and at some point during the storm caught fire. Rescue vehicles from neighboring towns were called in but watched helplessly because they couldn’t get through the rising flood water. Staten Island was flooded and Long Island, where Katiebird’s sister Bev lives was inundated on the ocean and sound sides. Bev’s house is about 1/4 mile from the sound. I don’t know what kind of damage she’s looking at but about 95% of the island is without power.

I’ll have more to say about infrastructure on another post but let’s just say that this is not a good week to be an asshole Libertarian. Yeah, we hate those people this week. Really, really hate them with a white hot passion. Oh, and AT&T too. The next Republican who says that everything should be privatized and that phone and cable companies shouldn’t be regulated is going to be strung up by his balls in the northeast.

One last thing: John Hockenberry took a call from a guy in Somerset NJ which is about 5 miles from here. The guy said he finally saw the cherry picker trucks in his neighborhood last night. Their license plates said Michigan. I knew I wasn’t imagining the cherry picker convoy last Saturday night. So, I would just like to add:


And that goes for all of the other states who sent equipment and power line experts to our state.

BTW, the generator is working great! We have light and can charge our computers and phones, not that we can get a good signal or use the wifi yet but it is good and I can’t thank you enough for the generator. In the even that Sandy comes back through with rain, I can hook up the sump pump.

I’ll try to check back in the comments. Later…

Sitting alone in the dark (with you)

This is a post for all our friends who are hunkered down in their dark and flickering houses tonight.  We are thinking of you and wishing we were there to keep your spirits up.

Picture Riverdaughter & Brooke, headlamps strapped to their heads, listening to WNYC and working puzzles with Will Shortz while the house shakes, rattles and rolls with the wind.

Scenes like this are happening up and down the coast tonight.

Let’s hope that power (through wire, battery or generator) holds, roofs stay where roofs are meant to be, that everyone we know made it home safely before this dastardly storm swept through and that things don’t look as bad as we fear they might in the morning.

This is a post for sharing our stories.

Here’s a link to WNYC’s Special Hurricane Sandy Coverage — they’re taking calls from all over the region.

Hurricane Sandy: Go with throttle up

Tropical Storm winds- probability. This looks pretty accurate.

Update: We’re still doing ok with the lights although they are flickering and the wind sounds like a freight train when it starts gusting. I have some short iphone video clips from about an hour ago but I turned on two step verification on my google account and it’s giving me fits.
Brooke is taking her online AP History class at Stanford right now. So far, the wifi is holding up. Maybe the state learned something from Irene.

But would that be a good or bad thing for Christie?  If he proactively mitigated the effects of Sandy, wouldn’t that imply that government works after all?

Would he be a pariah at the next CPAC meeting?  Inquiring minds want to know.  In any case, it is gratifying to see my tax dollars at work.

About an hour ago, the lights started to flicker.  It was right after I got the sump pump reconnected.  It works.  In fact, it worked almost too well.  The minute I plugged it in, one of the connections came loose and the pump sprayed water all over the inside of the sump closet. That was fun. (um, someone remind me to return the check valve I accidentally liberated from the store).  The wind is picking up significantly out there but I have the generator!  Yes!  It’s sitting in my garage right now.  I’m just catching my breath from having to drag it in out of the car.  It is really heavy.  I’ve located one 2.5 gallon gas can so this will require several trips to the gas station, provided any stay open.  Almost everything around here is closed.  The grocery store is closed, not that they’d have anything to sell anyway.

I got down to Princeton and back just in time.  Driving conditions weren’t bad but I forgot that between my town and Princeton there is a depression in the topography caused by a retreating glacier a long time ago.  Even during regular rainstorms, the area floods and roads are impassable from Lawrenceville to South Brunswick.  In my case, it would have been a nightmare getting back because all roads leading to my town encounter a river or canal somewhere along the way.  We’re an island surrounded by flood prone areas.

As you can see from the picture above, the plumbing supply company rented the biggest U-Haul they could find and drove down to Philly for the generators.  They loaded about half of them into their own vehicles for distribution, the rest of us lucky bastards lined up our cars and they loaded them up.  Getting it *out* of the car was a bigger problem since neither Brooke nor I are the heavy lifting types.  We tried a dolly but just ended up pinned between the box and the car on the sloping driveway.  It was hillarious- from a distance.

When I went to pay for the generator, the service rep handed me a mandatory safety bulletin from Governor Christie.  There must have been a lot of accidents after Irene especially when people plugged the generator into their electrical panel in some way.  Apparently, that’s not a good idea unless the panel has been specifically adapted for this purpose.  It turns out that when the utility power comes on when the generator is running, there is too much current flowing through the system at the junction, resulting in bad things happening.  They didn’t go into details but the word “fatalities” caught my eye.  So, those of you who are considering doing that, don’t.  Get an orange indoor/outdoor power cord and run this directly to the appliance you are trying to run.  Don’t overload your circuits and try to keep the generator dry.  That’s going to be tricky.  Ideally, the generator should be in the driveway 15 feet from the house but to keep it dry, it’s going to have to be in the garage.  I don’t know how I’m going to rig this but I’m sure Brooke and I will get our McGuiver on.

Now, I just need to get some gas.  The wind is starting to howl.  Don’t know when the lights will go out.  Could be any time now.

Hurricane Sandy: Here she comes!

So, to recap the weekend, I tested my sump pump as instructed and found it wanting.  After checking the electrical and dumping several gallons of water into the hole, the pump just sat there.  It made no pumping sounds, the water didn’t tremble as it was sucked up the pipe and out of the house.  “Hmmm, that’s sub-optimal”, I thought, remaining as calm as possible.  I went on what I knew would be a fruitless search for a new sump pump, stopping at Lowes first to get some advice. You know, your typical home improvement questions like, how do I rebuild my sump pump in less than 24 hours with electrical and mechanical skills far beyond my current capabilities and could someone take a look at this picture of my sump pump hole and tell me what’s what?

The plumber guy at Lowes, who I will call J, was overwhelmed with people.  It was kind of sad, actually, because there’s nothing left on the shelves.  The whole town of —ville, NJ is busily hacking away with any structural material they can get to save their houses.  J took a look at my pictures and said there was not a lot he could diagnose from them.  He’d have to see it in person.  He said he is a part time plumber when he’s not a Lowes so I begged him to come and look at the sump pump and he said he would after work. J showed up a little after 6pm last night and declared the sump pump dead.  There are no replacements- anywhere.  But he did tell me that the store he worked at had secret information that he was going to pass on to me- they expected a truck this morning with 40-50 sump pumps on them.  Shhhhh.  Nobody else in —ville knows.  Ahhh, that would mean I would have to wake the adolescent creature up before dawn and station her at the store so we could snag one when the truck arrived.  I considered whether the whining would be worth the effort.  In the meantime, I had asked my sister in Harrisburg to keep her eyes open for s sump pump and she was able to find one for me.  My mom had an extra.  Thanks Ma!

Then came the Price is Right dilemma: Do I go for the sure thing in PA or stay in NJ and hope to get a new one this morning?  I asked J.  He said go for the sure thing.  You can’t count on the truck, he told me.  Remember those people who were lined up on Friday to put their names on a waiting list for a generator?  Well, the generators were supposed to arrive on Saturday evening but the truck never showed up.  Then they were supposed to come Sunday morning.  Again, no truck.  Finally, late Sunday afternoon, the whereabouts of the truck were discovered.  The truck had a flat tire on the way to NJ and the driver rolled into Trenton last night.  But because of interstate trucking regulations, the driver had exceeded the amount of time he was allowed to spend on the road.  Trenton is about 45 minutes from here but the truck wasn’t moving.  J was pissed.  He couldn’t understand why the company or state couldn’t bend the rules for the emergency.

My suspicion is that those generators will never make it here from Trenton.  Somehow, they will be repurposed somewhere else.  Just a feeling.  This is New Jersey after all.  By the way, my generator is supposed to be coming from another source.  Annnnd any minute now, I expect them to contact me to tell me when I can pick it up.  Hurry, hurry!

Anyway, back to last night.  My sister said there was a narrow window of opportunity for me to make a decision about the sump pump she had because she wasn’t going to drive all night no matter how precious my basement was.  So, I paid the plumber for disconnecting the old pump and showing me where I needed to connect the new one and jumped in the car to meet her halfway between my house and hers.  It was an hour and a half both ways.  We got home shortly before midnight last night in possession of a new sump pump and two bottles of homebrew.  Yes!

The drive wasn’t too bad last night.  The wind was just picking up and precipitation was only drizzling.  But this morning, it’s a different story.  It started to rain over night but it’s not steady yet.  The retention basin that’s about 40 feet from my house isn’t anywhere near retaining anything yet but that will change.  I expect a lake back there by tomorrow morning. The wind is picking up outside.  It’s coming from the southeast, which means the tree will fall into the street but, er, maybe I should move the car.

So, I’m going to make myself a pot of coffee and head down to the basement to hook this sucker up.  If I get stuck, there’s a handyman in the neighborhood and J the plumber on call to help me remotely. Wish me luck!  I’ll be documenting the storm for as long as I can.  I have a 3G iPad and 4G iPhone.  The cable wifi will be the first thing to go.

Thanks very much to all of you who contributed to the Save the Basement fund.  As of this morning, there is $633 in the fund.  You will be hearing from me in the next couple of days with my personal thanks.  You are all incredibly generous. Receipts will be provided upon request, though the balance of the cost of the generator will be paid later today when I pick it up.

In the meantime, you can follow the storm on YouTube here.  The Weather Channel confirmed that the cherry pickers are being sent in from other states.  That must have been what I saw on Saturday night when I saw the cherry picker convoy on Rt. 206 South on the way towards Princeton/Trenton.  (Christie lives in a mansion on Rt. 206 in Princeton called Drumthhhhhwackit.  Not so many H’s in the name but it sounds funnier if you add them)  They must be coming from the midwest because everything from here to Ohio is in the storm’s path.  We are still in the strike zone even though the worst of Sandy will pass slightly south of us. Heavy rain is predicted for our area as well as high winds.  Check Atrios at Eschaton and Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla for more storm tracking.  They’re located in Philly and it’s looking pretty grim for them as well.

Update: The plumbing supply store just called to tell me that the generator should be here by noon!!  I’m all a-tingle.  Coming up later: after I prepare the generator, I shall climb to the top of the water tower with a bucket of paint to defend Matt Stoller’s honor.

Hurricane Sandy: High Wind Warning

Google helpfully tells me to get out of the way

Google- it’s not just for searches anymore. Now, it issues public service announcements to the people who can’t get out of the way of Frankenstorm.  Like, you don’t already know the storm of the millenium is bearing down on you and gaining strength, now you have your search engine saying, “sucks to be you”. This is actually a first for me. I don’t remember seeing a PSA like this when I googled Irene in 2011. Alas, I am in the affected region and should expect damage to my property from sustained winds of over 40 mph.  The National Hurricane Center says I have a 30-40% probability of winds at 50 knots, which in non-sailory units is 57.5 mph. Did I mention the gigantic tree that is perilously close to my house?  No?  I’m sure I mentioned it to the townhouse association- three times.  Maybe a notification relayed through my lawyer would get its attention, though probably not before the wind begins to pick up.  The good thing is that the tree is most likely to topple into the street or take out my neighbors’ units if it does fall.  I have mixed feelings about such a possibility…

I would have to hop in my car and drive to Indiana to avoid what’s coming.  Governor Christie issued a state of emergency yesterday.  I was picking the kid up from a movie and stopped at an intersection when a convoy of cherry pickers rolled by headed south on Route 206 towards Princeton.  Not sure what that’s all about but they weren’t the utility company’s trucks.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more Hurricane Sandy related activities.

Outside, the weather is overcast for the 4th day in a row, temperature a mild 57°F.  The leaves on the trees outside are barely stirring.  It is the calm before the storm.  The latest projected landfall map is even more disturbing than yesterday.  It looks like Frankenstorm is rolling into Central New Jersey as a true hurricane and not just a tropical storm like it was yesterday.  Lovely.  And it’s hard to not take it personally when the storm seems to be perfectly curved to hit you dead on.

Will someone please tell Susie Madrak to save her 5 gallon container for drinking water? To flush your toilets, make sure to fill your bathtub with water before the storm strikes.  Then use a large pot with handle to ladle it out of the tub into your toilet.  It’s a handy tip I got from some Floridians when I rode out Hurricane Charlie in 2004.  Also, get one of these if you can.  It’s a crankable, solar flashlight radio so it never needs batteries.  It’s invaluable during storms.  Also highly recommended is a headlamp.


Annnnd my basement is still threatened.  For those of you who are just catching up with the Saga of RDs basement, it has only flooded once since I moved here 12 years ago.  That was last year during Hurricane Irene when the power went out.  I didn’t think it would happen again so soon so I didn’t buy a backup battery powered sump pump or a generator.  And now, there’s not a backup battery sump pump or generator to be found in the entire state of NJ…or PA….or NY.  I scoured my local Home Depot, Lowes, etc, two days ago and they were already sold out.  But there is a plumbing supplier in Princeton that is making a trip to another state tomorrow to pick up some generators and I was lucky enough to reserve one.  Unfortunately, I am not lucky enough to have a full time job anymore so this investment (it’s $840.00 plus 7% sales tax) is exceedingly painful. I hate to ask for contributions but if you’ve “enjoyed” my blogging for the past several years, you can help me defray the expense of the generator with a donation.  The recommended donation amount is $10.30 for the date of Sandy’s landfall.  Here is the paypal donation button for my “Save the Basement” fund:

Thank you for helping me weather Sandy!

Why the nanny snapped

There are more details emerging about the mental state of the nanny who murdered two children in Manhattan on Thursday.  And I want to talk about that today but before I do, here’s the disclaimer for the people who read the first sentence or two and go no further before they bubble and squeak with fury and indignation: I am not blaming the victims.  What the nanny did was horrible.  Neither the children nor their parents did anything to merit murder.  However, that does not mean that there wasn’t something seriously wrong with the relationship between the Krims and their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me go back to that last sentence and tell you what’s been floating around in my brain.  I’ve been reading about the murder and the Krims and the Ortegas on different sites and trying to piece together what may have been going on here.  It’s an annoying habit of mine that comes from years of looking at other people’s work and trying to decide if it’s crap or not and then applying that same scrutiny to my own work.  So, while I’m not a forensic investigator or a criminologist, I am a collector of data and I involuntarily analyse it.  I can’t help myself.

Here are some things that I find interesting and notable and where I think they’re pointing.

1.) The nanny existed in two worlds and the occupants of each of those worlds see her differently.  The Manhattanites of the Krim world are horrified and their reaction is both curious and revolting, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  In the Manhattanite world, Nanny Josie was unfriendly, unsmiling, not talkative.  This is as reported by the neighbors of the Krims who met her in the elevator and other places.  These same people report that the children were happy.  So, whether or not the Nanny was as friendly and attentive as the neighbors expected doesn’t change the fact that the children were not suffering under her care.

The neighbors of Nanny Josie in Harlem say she had undergone a change recently.  She used to be friendly, jovial, somewhat religious.  She greeted her neighbors with a “Hello Neighbor!”.  She is reported to have been hardworking, industrious, reliable.  But recently, she had become quieter, she had lost weight, looked worried and tired.  She was keeping to herself and spending more time in the small apartment she shared with her sister, her niece and her teenaged son.

2.) Back to the Manhattanites.  They are all horrified and keeping the Krims in their thoughts and prayers.  What about the Nanny?  Well, they’re thinking of their own nannies.  They can’t believe that someone they let into their house and allowed to be near their children would harm them in any way.  It feels like betrayal.  Sort of how you might feel about a pet that has suddenly become rabid.  There is no mention of what the nanny’s family must be going through.  One wonders if these people realize that their nannies have families, some of whom they had to leave behind in other countries in order to care for someone else’s children.  I have yet to read any Manhattanite expressing sympathy for what a nanny’s life might be like.  Correct me if I’m wrong here.

3.) Grandmother Krim claims that the Krims treated their nanny like one of the family.  Maybe this is a mistake that many nanny employers make.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  You expect your family member to be a little more accommodating than a contractor, right?  With a contractor, there is a formal set of rules, a payment schedule and scope of work.  Not so with a family member.  With a family member, we expect familial bonds, altruism and love to supercede the necessity of a contract.  We may owe them in return or compensate them with presents (I owe my sister big time) but they don’t hand us a bill for their services.

4.) The nanny has lived in the United States for 30 years and has not been able to rent an apartment for herself or her teenaged son since she started to work for the Krims two years ago.  Earlier this year, the nanny sublet an apartment in the Bronx from someone who went back to the Dominican Republic.  I’m assuming that the nanny spent a lot of money paying this absent tenant for the apartment and paying to move her things and buying necessities and signing up for the utilities.  But the absent tenant returned unexpectedly and wanted the apartment back.  So Nanny Josie was forced to move back in with her sister.  I wouldn’t be surprised if much of the money she used was lost for good.  By the way, a studio apartment in Manhattan, that is, an apartment without a bedroom, costs about $2400 a month.  I’ve read enough of Apartmenttherapy.com to know that two people can live in a studio if the ceilings are high enough for a loft but it’s probably tougher when you have a 16 yr old male with you.  16 yr old females are difficult enough.  So, to live in NYC is going to cost about $2000 in rent alone.  You need to clear about $24000 a year just for rent.  Forget the taxes for a second, which are outrageous in NYC.  Then you need to eat.  A teenager consumes roughly the equivalent of a small village in Africa on a daily basis.  I’m going to say that it will cost about $50,000 to scrape by.  Did the Krims pay their nanny $50,000/year?

5.) Did the Krims pay benefits for their nanny and her dependent?  Did she get medical insurance?  Who paid the nanny’s social security taxes?  Did they pay her under the table?  All reports indicate that the Krims hired the nanny through personal recommendations, not through an agency.  Presumably, an agency would have made sure that the nanny was bonded and that taxes were paid, just like cleaning services like Molly Maid or Merry Maid do for their employees.  This could be important because if the nanny wasn’t paying into social security, she’d be working until she dropped.

6.) Getting back to the affordable apartment dilemma, the Krims lived in La Rochelle on the upper West side of Central Park.  This is a very nice building.  It’s not as prestigious as the upper East side but still incredibly nice.  I checked the floor plans and rental prices for the apartments at La Rochelle.  A 3 bedroom apartment in La Rochelle cost about $10,000/month.  The Krims had the option of renting less expensive but nice apartments in Manhattan.  They might have spent $2K less on a nice 3 bedroom apartment elsewhere and passed that $2K/month onto their nanny who might have used that money to pay for a small junior 1 bedroom or larger loft studio.  Did they consider this?

Now would be a good time to reread the disclaimer.

The picture that is emerging for me is of a young family moving to Manhattan and wanting to move into a residence that is commensurate with the life they aspire to live.  They rent the biggest, most prestigious apartment they can afford on the upper West side because it is close to Central Park and the mother can get a part time job at the Museum of Natural History.  This sounds like a good plan to me.  It’s a nice area of Manhattan but not too swanky, it’s close to the park, it’s nice for children.  All well and good.  And this is not a mommy war issue.  The mother is mostly stay at home but she has outside interests, a part time job.  There’s nothing wrong with leaving the kids with a babysitter or having the babysitter at home when she is home.  When she first hired Nanny Josie, she had 3 children under the age of 5, two of them under the age of 2.  That’s a lot of work for one parent to handle.  But if your family has a salary that can support a stay at home mom and pay for a babysitter, why not?

But that’s where the favorables stop.  Because this family appears to have decided to rent an apartment at the top of their price range and then decided to skimp on the help.  It’s not really that unusual.  I’ve known millionaires in Basking Ridge who own very nice houses on beautiful acreage who pay their Costa Rican housekeepers under the table for years.  Oh, sure, she had her own room and separate entrance and they treated her like one of the family.  But she didn’t pay any taxes and her employment wasn’t regulated.

So, this young couple saved some money by not going through an agency and hired a nanny with good references who they treated like family.  When the Krims went on vacation, they bought a ticket for Nanny Josie to go visit her family in the Dominican Republic.  The cost of a flight from Kennedy to the Dominican Republic is about $350 RT but goes up to about $700 in December.  I’m going to guess that Mr. Krim, Harvard Graduate (his mother is very proud), vice-president of CNBC digital and former employee of the consulting firm McKinsey, used his frequent flyer miles to purchase a ticket for Nanny Josie.  My question is, did she get paid for her involuntary vacation time as well?  That is, was she paid for the time when the Krims were out of town?  Or was she simply furloughed to the Dominican Republic without pay for the week(s)?   The family also accompanied Nanny Josie for a trip to the Dominican Republic when Nanny Josie could be with her own family.  BUT, since Nanny Josie was presumably still on duty, this wasn’t really a vacation for her, was it?  It was a vacation for the Krims.  That way, they could give Nanny Josie a trip back home while still enjoying the leisure and beauty of the island while she watched the kids.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

One last bit of detail: I read on another site that murderers use knives when they’re angry.  I guess you use a gun on the spur of the moment or for expediency.  But knives are reserved for people for whom you feel rage.  And here’s one of the biggest clues that says that all was not rosy between the nanny and the Krims.  The timeline goes, Mrs. Krim waited at the JCC with her second child, Nessie, after a swim lesson for the nanny and the other two kids to show up and go to a dance lesson.  The nanny didn’t come.  So, Mrs. Krim goes to La Rochelle and finding the apartment dark, goes to ask the doorman if the nanny and the kids have left.  The doorman says he didn’t see them leave so Mrs. Krim returns to the apartment.  She goes to the bathroom and flips on the switch.  It was at that time that the nanny started to stab herself.  The kids were dead by that point, or close to it.  But the nanny waited until the mother walks into the bathroom before she starts to kill herself.

At first, I thought this was weird.  If this were merely a case of murder, the nanny could have done it and then left the scene.  Oh, sure, they would have caught her eventually but it’s probably pretty easy to become anonymous in NYC.  She could have skedaddled down to Penn Station and taken the first train to New Jersey and disappeared for awhile.  What I’m suggesting is that she didn’t do it in cold blood and then fled.  She waited.

And note that she must have heard the door open and close when the mother came back to the apartment initially.  But the nanny sat in the bathroom on the floor with the two dying children and said nothing.  She could have killed herself right then when the mother went to talk to the doorman, but she didn’t.

She waited.

She waited until the mother came into the bathroom and turned on the light.  It was only then that she stabbed herself repeatedly in the neck.

Finally, she had the mother’s attention.

The summary as far as I have been able to piece together is that the nanny finally snapped.  After living in the US for many years and seeing her fortunes not improving, unable to move out of her cramped housing, having gotten ripped off by absent tenants and people she trusted to do business with, she saw herself trapped with these people who treated her like family but not as an employee.  I might note that McKinsey, the consulting company that Mr. Krim used to work for, routinely advises managers how to cut costs on employees benefits and contracts.  Treating people as human resources that can be exploited is what they specialize in.

We have two communities who are trapped by their perceptions of the world.  The Krims have lead a privileged life for some time now.  Mr. Krim went to Harvard.  There are certain expectations for people like the Krims.  They expect the best in life: nice house, nice job, nice money, nice nannies.  Everything is very nice. (And how the hell did they get a membership at the JCC??  I thought there was a waiting list a mile long.)  It must be hard for them to understand what their nanny’s life is like. Or maybe they assumed that an uneducated childcare worker had no right to expect the same degree of economic stability that the Krims took for granted.  Maybe they saw the pool of nannies from other countries, some of whom had to leave their own children behind and just assumed that these women accepted their fate quietly, without complaint.  Maybe they assumed that Nanny Josie would be content with a trip to the Carribean instead of being paid for the week the Krims were not in town.  Or maybe they saw the nanny as a commodity that could be taken with them when they went on vacation and that they were being nicer than they had to be when they took her to her own island.  It might have been beyond their comprehension that maybe the nanny really wanted to live in her own apartment and provide an nice life for her own son but was discouraged by the high prices of housing and the lack of employment regulations under which she worked for the Krims.

I have no idea what was going on in Krims’ heads and we just have to wait until the nanny comes out of it before we know what she was thinking. But *I’m* thinking that maybe there is a whole city full of raging nannies and it might be a good idea for nanny owning Manhattanites to think about their priorities.

Just saying.

Hurricane Sandy: We’re doooooomed!

Update: Good news, bad news.  Thanks to reader DM, I was able to locate a plumbing supply store that is selling generators.  They are making a trip to another state to pick them up on Monday.  So, I reserved one.  The guy was nice enough to tell me how to check my sump pump so I should be prepared for Sandy.

The bad news is that the generator is going to cost me about $900 ($840.00 + 7% Sales tax) and will probably only be single use, not to say that I am not extremely grateful for a generator at all.  I am. And since all of the smaller generators in NJ are sold out, this is my next best option. But it’s a lot of money for me at a time when I can least afford it.  So, I’m tempted to put a donate button up for this and gently nudge people for a small contribution.  Recommended donation would be $10.30 for the date of Sandy’s landfall.  Does this sound unreasonable or greedy?

Here is the donation button for my “Save the Basement” fund:

Thank you for helping me weather Sandy!


So, it looks like I am right in Hurricane Sandy’s strike zone.  See picture below:

See where that first “S” is on shore?  (Since I first posted this, the S has moved and now my sister is going to get slammed.  Now that I look at the new map, I’m even more concerned because it looks like we’ll still have hurricane strength conditions well past landfall.) I live slightly to the right of that “S”, conveniently located between Philadelphia and New York.  Isn’t that cool?

No, it is not cool.  I lived through Irene last year.  Or, should I say, the basement lived through Irene last year.  The power went out and I was ankle deep in water at 6am.  Not fun, not fun at all.  It’s the only time in 12 years that I have ever had water in my basement.  Stupidly, I thought, it could never happen again.  What are the chances that there will be another Irene type storm two years in a row?  The basement is normally bone dry, I have two sump pumps.  I laughed at nature and, put off by the price gouging on generators and battery back up sump pumps and my own unemployment, I did not buy any additional prophylactic water removal systems.

More after the jump…

Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Hillary

Here’s a little birthday song to a woman who has a good sense of humor.

Maybe this is not the best time to bring this up…

… but the circumstances surrounding the Krim children murders in New York City involve *two* families.  The nanny’s actions may be the stuff of Halloween nightmares and maddeningly inexplicable, a horror that the childrens’ mother should never have witnessed. It’s natural that we empathize with the parents over the loss of their well-loved children. But the nanny also has relatives and an adolescent son and they are as mystified and horrified as the victims’ family.

I wish that the people who are keeping the Krims in their thoughts had considered how insensitive that might sound to the family the nanny left behind.  At some point in the future, we should have a discussion about whether it was the shock of the murder itself or the socio-economic chasm between victims and perpetrator that caused the thought keepers to forget the pain, grief and confusion of the nanny’s family.

Maybe that’s something the 1% should spend the weekend thinking about.

I gotta be me!!! A message for lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalists

Last night, I introduced this site to Vi Hart, the absurdly young mathemusician who produces brilliant math videos for the Khan Academy and YouTube.  And sometime during the night, 2:28am EST, to be exact, someofparts, an infrequent commenter, but one I hope will return more frequently, attempted to post another of Vi’s videos in the comment section. She was unsuccessful, but I have remedied that by careful editing.  The Vi Video she recommended is so important that I thought it is worth sharing on the front page.  So, here it is.  This video is for every lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalist who has decided to tailor the message for the commenters or other lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalists:

I didn’t know that when I tried to follow this advice that I would end up in the Oort Belt of the blogosphere, even farther away from the rest of the political world I knew than I was four years ago.  And on occasion, I’ve wondered whether I should have been more accommodating or commercial (I won’t lie, being on more blogrolls would have helped me get that 27″ apple Thunderbolt monitor I actually need.  No, really, I need better hardware for the other stuff I do.).  But I just felt that as nauseatingly repetitive and obnoxious as I sounded, I would rather be me and put it all out there as I see it than go chasing after readers.  Many readers have come and gone, mostly gone, but I gotta be me.

At some point, I realized that it was never my intention to follow the crowd or have the crowd follow me.  I write this stuff because someone has to.  Someone has to say what happened to the New Deal Democrats who were silenced in 2008.  Someone has to say what it’s like to be a formerly middle class professional who is being forced into self employment by the 1% and their Wall Street minions.  Someone has to document what happened to the research industry in New Jersey.  Someone has to explain what it’s like to be a female in 2012 who came of age in the 70s and 80s and has seen the scope of her gender’s opportunities suddenly shrink.  Someone has to act as an intermediary between the fundamentalist mind and the mind of the political junky (because this shit is real and it’s just now dawning on you how irrational it is, isn’t it?).

So, as I’ve said before, I’ll keep doing this even if I’m the only person reading it.  I’m not going to cater to my audience.  This is a blog after all, a “web log”.  It’s a journal.  Someday, probably after I’m dead, maybe someone will rediscover this hypergraphic diarrhea and decide that it has commercial value and it will make me famous a la Van Gogh.  Did Vincent paint his wheat fields and starry nights while thinking to himself, “This canvas is going to cost $40 million dollars someday and *this* one is going to be priceless.  Damn, why does it take so long for art to appreciate?  I’m almost out of cognac.  Maybe if I do something more accessible and commercially more profitable…”

You’re probably thinking, “{{snort}} She’s really dreaming if she believes that anyone will consider her writing to be some kind of masterpiece.”  Actually, that’s what *I’m* thinking.  But whatever my megalomaniacal brain or my insecure mind elf is thinking at any one time, I just gotta be me.  What else can I be than who I am?  I’m not interested in memeorandum or where I am in the blog rankings or whether I can attract advertisers (though, in retrospect, that might have gotten me that monitor by now… hmmm…).  If I don’t say it my way and relate to the reader my thoughts, then those thoughts will lose what little value they possess.  The left blogosphere may have decided that it’s better to not fight back because they’re scared or because it’s profitable or because getting hundreds of comments on a post is mind-blowingly flattering and makes the poster feel like the king of the world.  But if you’ve had to modify your message to one that you think is more palatable to your audience or one that will assure that the 1% will still employ you or so that your thoughts conform to be the same as the group to which you plan to belong because you think they are more important than you since everyone is paying attention to them, then part of the “you-ness” just got tossed away.

So, welcome to the Oort Belt.  Thanks for stopping by.  Yes, it’s pretty much always like this.  Yes, eventually I’ll get back to writing political snark, when I’m ready and the mood hits me.  You can’t force good snark.  There will probably be a lot of posts about things you may not be interested in or even knew about but that’s part of the journaling process, I guess.  I am a middle aged researcher, liberated from a dying industry that was murdered with the help of Wall Street, living in New Jersey, a child of the working class who rose into the most heavily taxed stratum of the middle class (and still remained a liberal Democrat) only to discover that to the 1%, we’re all working class, who is documenting what it’s like to be on the way back down, interpreting the fevered dreams of some of her fundamentalist relatives and trying to find the thread of her old Democratic party in the current political environment.

Take it or leave it.  And it looks like a lot of you still take it.  We’re not that far from 12,000,000 unique page hits and while the rate of unique page hits has decelerated significantly in the past four years, and we may never actually get to 12,000,000, like some infinite series concept that Vi Hart delights in talking about rapidly, 12,000,000 hits is way more than I ever expected.  Somewhere out there, some of you are thinking about strange ideas and concepts and relationships without your consent.  You may have been infuriated when you first read them here and now they’re lodged in your brain cells, and you can’t get them out.  They’re bumping up against other neurons and making new connections.  Bwahahahahahahhhhhh!  “That’s sick!”, you think, but it’s too late.  The meme has been passed to a new generation.  Whatever happens to it after this is out of my control.  But controlling you was never my intention in the first place.  I’m just a blogger.  No one special but as special as everyone who writes and has a right to write and be heard and think and spew random political stuff.

Thanks for reading.