Category Archives: technology

Roundup: Real Estate, Good Deeds, More


We all sense it. Now we have proof.

Jason Mudd of Cindy Raney & Co. realtors sends a Bloomberg statistic: This fall, Fairfield County had the fastest-rising real estate prices in the country.

Sales rose 80% in September county-wide from a year before. The median home price increased by 33%.

Westport saw a 72% rise in all sales, from January 1 through October 27, 2020, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. It was highest (135%) in the $2 million-plus price range.

Jason hears the same thing as realtors all over town: As quarantine cases increase, buyers (many from New York City) want more space — in their yards, and in their ability to work from home.

They want good schools for their children — and room for their kids to spread out, if they need to learn remotely.

Interestingly, open floor plans are not always the most popular. With families increasingly confined to their homes, “nooks and crannies” enable people to separate from family members for privacy.

Westport is attractive for many reasons, Jason says, beyond space and schools. There’s a vibrant restaurant scene. Plenty of shopping.

Another selling point: proximity to New York. Though the railroad station parking lot seems abandoned, the ease of hopping a train to the city is a big selling point for our town.

Plus it’s just a really pretty place, with tons of great people. But we already knew that.


Among the many people moving from New York to Westport (see above) is Maxx Crowley.

It’s a return home. His father Steve is the longtime owner of SCA Crowley Real Estate Services, and Maxx has joined the family business.

He’s also a new Westport Downtown Merchants Association board member. It did not take him long to help beautify Main Street and environs. He and his dad helped repurpose the summer barrels.

They’re also providing the holiday community tree. It goes up tomorrow, just outside Savvy + Grace.


Just in time for the holiday season: Good Deeds.

Westporter Bill Pecoriello launched the cashback app on Tuesday.

Good Deeds lets shoppers earn cash back while accessing their favorite brands and retailers, then automatically give some or all of those earnings as donations to the causes and nonprofits they care about.

Bill created the app after facing challenges raising funds for his nonprofit Sweet P Bakery, and The Porch to sell those baked goods. For more information, click here.


For 3 decades, ABC News correspondent and anchor Jay Schadler reported around the globe for “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” and “World News Tonight.”

He hitchhiked 20,000 miles across America.

On Tuesday, December 8 (7 p.m.) he lands in Westport.

Virtually, anyway. The Westport Library and “Live at Lincoln Center” producer Andrew Wilk team up for this online presentation.

“I come not as a teacher or a guide, but as a fellow traveler who’s still somewhere between being lost and finding his way home,” Schadler says.

Wilk adds, “I worked with Jay when he anchored the National Geographic Channel. I developed great admiration for his talent as a storyteller. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do in television. There aren’t many in Jay’s league.”

Click here to register for the free event.

Andrew Wilk (left) and Jay Schadler.


 

And finally … On this day in November 19, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In just 271 words — at a time when the nation’s very existence was in doubt — the president reminded listeners of our highest ideals.

He concluded by urging “that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

 

CT App Aids COVID Contact Tracing

Since March, Connecticut residents have primarily learned of possible exposure to someone with COVID-19 by phone calls and word of mouth.

Now there’s a third: a smartphone app.

“COVID Alert CT” is completely confidential. No personal information is shared. And it’s free, for Apple and Android users.

After downloading (click here), Bluetooth senses whether your device has been within 6 feet — for 15 minutes or more in one day — of someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

If so — and that infected person is also using the app on their personal device — an alert is triggered.

A notification is not triggered if 2 devices pass by for a short duration, or stay more than 6 feet away from each other.

If a user tests positive, a contact tracer from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, their local health department or their higher education institution will ask if they are willing to share the “close contact” codes their app has logged while they may have been contagious.

If the user agrees, a contract tracer will provide them with a verification code.
Once that code is submitted through the app, those individuals who came within 6 feet of that user for more than 15 minutes and who also are using the app will receive a notification on their device that they were in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Sharing this status is secure and private. The app will never reveal who the user is to anyone else.

During COVID, A Westporter Connects

As the coronavirus swept across America, the news was filled with brutal stories. Among the worst: so many nursing home residents and hospital patients dying alone.

Deprived of personal visits, men and women — if they were lucky — drew their last breaths watching loved ones on iPads and cell phones. In the midst of so much chaos and death, doctors, nurses and support staff brought their own devices from home, so those they cared for could have slightly less lonely goodbyes.

Most of us shook our heads sorrowfully; this was one particularly awful horror, in a cascade of them.

Kara Ivy Goldberg wanted to do something about it.

Kara Ivy Goldberg

At Staples High School, the 2004 graduate had been a tennis star — and a volunteer at Norwalk Hospital. She studied economics and environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where she spent 2 years as chapter president of Best Buddies.

After moving west for a job in tech marketing, Kara joined the board of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Bay Area.

Three years ago she returned to the East Coast. She continued her tech marketing career, and also worked in commercial real estate.

In mid-March, COVID crushed all of that. Kara and her fiancé had just arrived in Colorado, to see his sister’s new baby. Their planned 3-day stay turned into 6 weeks.

While there, Kara heard of a project started by a good college friend and her colleagues. COVID Tech Connect. The idea is simple: source, donate and ship devices to hospitals, senior care facilities and hospices, to facilitate video calls between pandemic patients and loved ones.

Google donated thousands of Pixel devices; Facebook contributed Portals. COVID Tech Connect ships 4 to 15 devices per facility. Funding came from Google, a GoFundMe page, and a large anonymous donor. Ellen DeGeneres gave a substantial grant too.

Kara is one of 2 full-time employees. She handles all hospital communications, and pretty much anything else that needs to be done.

There’s a lot. Hospitals need to be aware of the program; there’s shipping, security, setup and trouble-shooting too.

COVID Tech Connect has worked well. So far, 6,600 devices have been shipped, to 778 facilities. The goal is 20,000 devices.

But the videoconference platforms being used — Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and more — were designed for consumers, not dying patients and healthcare facilities that must deal with things like HIPAA.

So Kara and her team are designing a free, universal platform to address those issues.

The focus so far has been on public and underserved hospitals. Feedback has been fantastic.


Margie Ulman — one of the first patients in Georgia to die from COVID-19 — was also the first to use a device provided by COVID Tech Connect to communicate with her family. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Joanne Kuntz)

As the coronavirus surges again, COVID Tech Connect plugs away. “As long as there’s a need, we’ll be available,” Kara says.

They continue to send devices — and to make sure that doctors, nurses, administrators and IT people know the program is available.

COVID Tech Connect provides a brilliant connection, at a time when we all need one.

Including Kara Ivy Goldberg.

One of her devices was sent to the healthcare facility where her grandmother lives.

(For more information on COVID Tech Connect, click here. If your facility would like to request devices, click here.) 

[OPINION] Verizon: Wrong Number!

Alert — and angry — “06880” reader Lawrence Weisman writes:

For reasons not relevant here, I wanted to change my cell phone account from one provider to another, while retaining the phone number I used for many years.

I went to the Verizon store in Southport. After an hour and a half I was told by the sales associate that an account had been opened, and my number would stay the same. She even placed a test call to that number to confirm it worked.

But when I returned home after a brief surgery, I discovered that in fact my number had been changed. No one had been able to reach me in my absence.

I revisited the Verizon store. The same associate reviewed the paperwork. She assured me she was not at fault — but alas, she did not know how to solve the problem.

I then spent almost 4 hours on the phone with what is euphemistically called “customer service.” I listened to elevator music (with the phone on speaker long enough for me to shave and shower), only to be told that nothing can be done to remedy the situation.

However, I should rest assured that the department involved was not at fault. That was followed by the requisite: “Is there anything else we can do to be of assistance today?”

So, Verizon has established to its satisfaction that the sales associate was not at fault, the department involved was not at fault, and they are therefore absolved of all responsibility.

I am stuck with having to inform dozens of people, credit cards and internet providers that I have a new and unwanted phone number. And I have no remedy, beyond sharing my outrage and frustration with your readers.

Let’s Meet! But Where?

Michael Calise is a native Westporter, Staples High School graduate, former Marine, and a realtor. After a lifetime here, he knows how the town works.

And he keeps an eagle eye on it.

Calise is a frequent meeting-goer. At least, he was until the coronavirus hit, and Westport’s boards and commissions moved online. 

They’re still there.

The other day, Calise wrote to 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. He said:

I am sure you are aware of the level of frustration endured by all of us regarding the inability to attend a public meeting.

Zoom meetings do not adequately convey the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. The sense of where the commissioners or other deciding members are is missing. It is as if you are speaking to a blank wall.

Mike Calise

This is not to downplay the fortunate fact that we have Zoom and other internet- based meeting venues. I fully recognize their value, but I think we need to do better. With the total decline of print media and other valuable sources of information in the face of ongoing important decisions being made, the entire structure of our community is under a great deal of stress.

With all of this in mind I suggest  that you consider an outdoor venue such as Levitt Pavilion for town meetings. I believe it would be a positive and productive step forward as we transition back to normalcy.

Marpe replied quickly. He said:

As much as anyone, I would like to return to the past meeting structure that we were all used to for the reasons you note. However, we are still in the midst of the greatest public health crisis any of us have ever experienced, and it is unclear when we will be able to conduct public meetings as we have in the past. As a town, we are slowly and cautiously working our way toward incrementally re-establishing “normal.” But “normal” is still going to be different from the past for some time to come.

The elected and appointed leaders of Westport have a responsibility to balance public health requirements, the health of our employees and state-mandated protocols, along with the Freedom of Information Act rules, against the desire for some to meet “in-person.”

The reality is that we have received very few requests for a return to full, in-person public meetings. In many ways, Zoom meetings are more accessible for the majority of the public, because they can be viewed from anywhere there is internet access, which is why we have focused our efforts on the Zoom technology.

Most board, committee and commission members and the related staff members have found a way to work effectively and in a fully informed manner in this new environment. Moreover, they appreciate the commitment by the Town to their health and well-being. And the boards, committees and commissions continue to hear from members of the public via written comment as well as by phone.

In August, superintendent of schools Tom Scarice addressed the Board of Education via Zoom.

Since mid-March, Town Hall has been closed to the general public, even though our employees have continued to work there or from home on behalf of our residents. We are currently moving forward to re-open Town Hall later this autumn for individual daytime appointments.

From a public meeting standpoint, Town Hall presents many challenges.  The auditorium is problematic because of the need to sanitize the space after each meeting to a level of confidence that the various surfaces will not harbor the virus.

The other traditional meeting rooms in Town Hall present the problem of accommodating the typical number of attendees at an appropriate level of social distancing as well as sanitizing.

We ae exploring the possibility of using the Library Forum for some public meetings because the hard surfaces there are easier to sanitize and the space lends itself to easier social distancing for a significant number of people. I will note that the Board of Education has conducted in-person meetings in the Staples cafeteria with no members of the public allowed (similar surfaces and flexible space as the Library).

The Board of Finance will conduct an “in-person” meeting in the Library next week (face coverings and socially distanced), although the public will still need to attend via public access TV or internet streaming.

If all goes well, we may consider opening the Board of Finance meetings to the public for future meetings. That said, we have to recognize that even the Library will be limited in its capacity to host public meetings given its own programming and activities.

The scene at Town Hall, when meetings were held there.

I want to stress that having in-person public meetings in the time of social distancing also presents Freedom of Information Act challenges. FOIA requires that no one be turned away from a public meeting. However, if we go over the 25 person indoor gathering limit, which includes board members and staff as well as the general public, we face having to choose between FOIA regulations and the Governor’s Executive Orders and related public health guidelines.

Your suggestion of conducting public meetings in outdoor venues such as the Levitt will quickly become impractical as autumn and winter weather begins in the coming weeks. Notwithstanding the practical challenges of streaming / televising from outdoor venues, weather concerns would work to prevent many residents from attending and actually limit the possibility of public participation. Ironically, this also presents its own FOIA issues.

We will continue to consider practical, inclusive alternatives to conducting the town’s public meetings in ways that maintain the public health and FOIA standards we must observe.

In the near term, that means that most public meetings will continue to be conducted via computer technology and public access television with ample opportunity prior to, and during the meetings for the public to submit their written public comments. Outdoor venues may become possibilities when the warmer months return.


Speaking of meetings: I have been thinking for a while of adding meeting coverage — Board of Education, Board of Finance, Planning & Zoning Commission — to “06880.”

I can’t do it alone. I need help.

If you’re interested in covering meetings on an ongoing basis — and you are knowledgeable, objective, and can write well and quickly — please email me: dwoog@optonline.net. 

Let’s chat!

 

Roundup: Mental Illness, ABC, WAS, More

 


Luisa Francoeur — a longtime Westporter, and a sister and parent of people with mental illness — reminds “06880” readers that this is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Local resources include the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Connecticut chapter, and Positive Directions.


A Better Chance of Westport’s “Dream Event” is one of the highlights of our fundraising year. It’s a chance to honor the students, graduating seniors and alumni of the program, which brings youngsters from underserved schools to Staples to study, and Westport to live.

COVID pushed the gala back from June to November 13. However, with restrictions still in place, organizers must cancel altogether.

ABC welcome scholars back last month. Resident directors and tutors returned too. They’re all adjusting to the “new normal,” including hybrid learning at Staples High School.

Cancellation of the Dream Event is a big blow to the organization, which relies heavily on community support. Click here to learn more.


Talenthood is a new app that connects families with children (K through 7th grade) and Staples students with talent in different areas. The focus is on sports, music, technology, creative hobbies and academics. There are also babysitting and lifeguard services.

A portion of the profits goes to charities. Amanda Rowan — a Staples student directing the service, who loves working with youngsters — has chosen the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Pink Aid.

Click here for more information.


Dr. Bob Dempsey — flight director for the International Space Station — Zooms into Westport on October 20 (8 p.m.) for an online talk.

The Westport Astronomical Society-sponsored event is open to the public. Click here for details. It’s also available on the WAS’ YouTube channel.

The online talk is open to the public: we are one of the few things you cando in Westport that is free and greatly expand your knowledge.


After 57 years of broadcasting from the University of Bridgeport, WPKN (89.5) has moved. The new studio — recently renovated Bijou Square, in downtown Bridgeport — will be the new home for Westporters like programmer Ina Chadwick, fundraiser and development director Richard Epstein; Staples graduates like communications guru Jim Motavalli, and the station’s enormous stable of Westport fans.


And finally … we won’t have ABC’s Dream Event this year. But we can have:

 

Roundup: Sunrise Rotary, Dylan Diamond, Wildfires, More


Every year, Westport’s Sunrise Rotary raises nearly $100,000 from 2 events: The Duck Race, and a wine tasting gala.

Eighty percent of the proceeds are donated to organizations that serve the health, hunger, safety and education needs of adults and children from Stamford to New Haven. The other 20% funds disease prevention, health, peace promotion, education and economic development across the globe.

COVID -19 forced the cancellation of both fundraisers.

To partially fill the gap — and provide safe, fun activities that may also attract new members — Sunrise members collaborated with the Remarkable Theater. They showed “School of Rock” on the Imperial Avenue parking lot screen. The famous yellow duck — and a duckling — were there, welcoming movie-goers.

More events are planned. To learn more about membership, email
info@westportsunriserotary.org. To support charitable giving, send a check to
Westport Sunrise Rotary, PO Box 43, Westport, CT 06881-0043.

Nothing is wrong. The convertible’s driver adjusted its hydraulics, for a comfortable viewing spot at the Remarkable Drive-In.


As a Staples High School student, Dylan Diamond made frequent appearances on “06880.”

At 15, he built an app that allowed classmates to view their schedules and grades — then rolled it out nationally, with hundreds of thousands of downloads.

He followed up with apps that helped skiers find buddies on the slope, and let users book everything from babysitters and yardwork to concert tickets.

Now Inc. has taken notice. He and Wharton School classmate Max Baron have gone all-in on Saturn, a calendar app.

Inc. says “they are working to build community around the calendar in high schools, with a big vision fueling them: to own the time layer of the internet.”

To hear Inc.’s podcast — in which the two discuss “why retention is social, how living together has given the co-founders an ‘always on’ mindset, and what they learned from their early work experience at Tesla and Havas” — click here(Hat tip: John Dodig)

Dylan Diamond, in San Francisco. While still a Staples High School student, he scored a coveted invitation to Facebook’s F8 conference.


How bad are the wildfires out west?

Peter Gold notes that Connecticut has 3.548 million acres.  As of Saturday, over 3.2 million acres have burned in California this fire season alone. In addition, 900,000 acres burned in Oregon, and over 600,000 more in Washington.

“It’s hard to imagine an area almost one-and-a-half times the size of Connecticut burned in just 3 states,” he says.

Battling a blaze in California.


Jane Mansbridge is a professor of political leadership and values at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

A recent Harvard Gazette story traces her “jagged trajectory” from her youth in Weston, and years at Staples High School (Class of 1957) to her current role as one of the world’s leading scholars of democratic theory.

She loved growing up in a small town. But, she says, she was bullied in Weston and at Staples for being “bookish and a smart girl.”

Realizing that not everyone liked the kind of person she was, or the values she held may have contributed to her later drive to find out more about people who were not like her, she says.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: A. David Wunsch)

Jane Mansbridge (Photo/Stephanie Mitchell for Harvard staff)


The porgies are in! This was the scene yesterday, at Sherwood Island State Park. Of course, fishermen always observe social distance.

(Photo/Roseann Spengler)


And finally … On this day in 1814, Francis Scott Key watched a British bombardment of Maryland during the War of 1812. Inspired by the sight of an American flag still flying at daybreak, he wrote a poem. “The Defence of Fort M’Henry” was later set to music. In 1931 “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem. One of the most famous versions was sung by our wonderful neighbor, Weston’s Jose Feliciano, before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series in Detroit. It was controversial at the time; no one had ever delivered such a non-traditional rendition.

His performance nearly ended his career. But 42 years later — in 2010 — he was invited back to Detroit, to perform it again. This time, the crowd roared.

Less Than Optimum Service

Mary Luvera is an Optimum customer. She is not pleased. She writes:

My family and I have lived in Westport for more than 10 years. Over that time we have probably paid Optimum more than $20,000 for a combination of phone, cable and internet service.

In early August we called to cancel our service, because we were moving. While other companies will prorate fees when you cancel service, Optimum said we would have to pay through the end of our billing cycle (September 15). We could have overlooked that.

Then on August 27 a tree fell, knocking out the cable line to our house. The next day we called Optimum to restore the cable line. We wanted it to be ready for our renters, and of course wanted the unsightly dangling cable line removed.

The tree that took out the cable line.

During that first frustrating call –waiting on hold forever; not hearing the representative well (what kind of headphones do they use?!); getting nonsensical responses — my husband was given a service date for Monday, August 31 between 8 and 11 a.m., for a service technician to arrive. We were told we had to be in the house to test the service.

We now live an hour from Westport. But on August 31, my husband was there, waiting for Optimum.

No one showed up.

He called Optimum and was informed that our appointment was moved to September 16 — the day after our service ends. No one told us the date had been changed. My husband wasted his time driving back and forth, spending hours like he was waiting for Godot.

A scene from “Waiting for Godot.”

My husband asked to speak to a supervisor, but was told no one was available. When he persisted, his call was dropped while being transferred.

He called back multiple times with similar results: being dropped at various times in the call. Optimum’s hold times are extremely long, so that is like a slap in the face.

Eventually, on August 31, he was assured that the appointment was moved to Saturday, September 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. My husband asked for a supervisor, to confirm the time. The person on the line could not transfer him to a supervisor, but said one would call him in 30 minutes. No one has called yet.

On Friday my husband called to confirm that the appointment was scheduled for yesterday (September 5). Surprise! He was told there was no appointment for September 5; our appointment is on September 16 (the day after our service ends).

My husband again asked for a September 5 service date. Finally, he was told someone would come then —  but it could be any time between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Hope we don’t have plans for the long weekend!

Shortly after that interaction, my husband received an email (below) from Optimum. Note the sent date (Friday) and the scheduled appointment date (the day before).

I can’t be sure the cable line will ever be restored. And I can only imagine what will happen when we return our cable boxes!

In a followup email late Friday, Mary added this PS:

On his way home from work today, my husband received an automated call from Optimum confirming our appointment for September 5, from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.

No, that’s not a typo. It’s what the recording said!

Roundup: Downtown Parking, PAL, Back To School, More


The month-long closure of the south end of Main Street is over. Planters have been removed; cars can once again park on both sides of the road.


Cancellation of the July 4th fireworks disappointed thousands of Westporters. But the decision was especially tough on Westport PAL. They sponsor the annual show. The money they make pays for a host of activities: sports programs for thousands of kids, the Longshore Ice Rink, an annual Halloween parade, a party for children with Santa, health and wellness efforts, and much more.

Which is why their upcoming golf tournament (September 14, Longshore golf course) is more important than ever.

The 58th annual event — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest.

There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).

The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.


Westport’s “Back to School” and “After-School” programs — both of which serve families in need — are always well utilized, and generously supported. In our new coronavirus world, they are more important than ever.

Elaine Daignault — director of the Department of Human Services, which oversees both projects — notes, “This is not a typical fall. COVID-19 has disrupted the usual back-to-school enthusiasm with a sense of anxiety, and fear of the unknown.

“Still, you can help to reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring they have tools they need to excel in school, and an opportunity to participate in after-school activities.”

Human Services relies on the generosity of neighbors to provide financial assistance for income-eligible families. Last year, 192 children benefited from Westport’s Back to School Program, and many families accessed affordable after-school childcare.

Tax-deductible donations (cash or gift cards to Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.) can be made online; click here, then select “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School”), or send a check payable to “Town of Westport/DHS Back to School Program” to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT  06880.

Families who may qualify for this program should contact DHS youth and family social worker Michelle Bottone by phone (203-341-1068) or email (mbottone@westportct.gov).

The Department of Human Services’ Back to School program helps youngsters get backpacks — and fill them with needed supplies.


Residents of Glenwood Lane have had it with Optimum.

After Tropical Storm Isaias, it took 12 days for cable and onternet to be restored to the street, off Maple Avenue South. Pieces of old cables still hang there.

Two days ago — August 31 — a crew finally arrived to clean up. But they turned the service off again, leaving residents who depend on the internet during the pandemic unable to work.

Optimum responded that the earliest they could come back to fix their mistake would be September 5. They then said they would come yesterday (September 1). However, they did not show up. Optimum now promises to come today.

Instead of sitting waiting for another no-show, some residents publicized their plight. This is one of 2 signs at the head of their road.

(Photo/Aurea de Souza)


Westport knows him as Willie Salmond. He was born in Scotland, lives here,  and has spent much of his professional career (and retirement) in Africa, working first in international development and then in AIDS relief. He is also an author and screenwriter.

As William Salmond, he’s just published “Deep Secrets.” Here’s a brief description, on Amazon:

As the Coronavirus ravaged the world economy with the yawning chasm of inequality between rich and poor getting deeper and wider, no one seemed to notice the movement south into Africa of swaths of Al Qaeda-hardened committed fighters. It was a unique opportunity to regroup and prepare for the final knock-out blow to the Great Satan and her allies whose economies were already on the ropes.

Is life a game of chance? Or is there a guiding hand? Racked by guilt and shame can we truly be forgiven and find healing and even love?

Money man Winslow Kirk looks for answers to these questions as he steps out of his comfort zone into the heart of Africa in search of his granddaughter Eleanor whom he allowed to be given up for adoption following a tragic boating accident. A threat note from the world’s number one terrorist who is coordinating the threat to Western countries sharpens his resolve. Can he find Eleanor and will she forgive him? After his wife’s death and his own cardiac illness he begins to muse about what really matters.

For more information and to order, click here.


And finally … today would be the 81st birthday of Robert Lee Dickey. When he began singing with his cousin James Lee Purify, the duo became “James and Bobby Purify.” Dickey died in 2011. You may not remember their names, but this beautiful song may ring a bell:

Pic Of The Day #1220

You may remember Flight Simulator — Microsoft’s video game from 1982 through 2006.

If so, forget what you remember.

The brand-new iteration uses satellite imagery from around the world. It applies algorithms to detect where buildings should be, and creates 3-dimensional models of them. Users fly over their neighborhood. and can actually recognize buildings.

The other day, Nicholas Weiner strapped himself into the virtual cockpit. Here’s what he saw: Staples High School, the athletic fields to the east, and Bedford Middle School to the north.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. Enjoy the view!

(Photo/Nicholas Weiner)