Tag Archives: Larry Perlstein

[OPINION] Disaster Planning Is Imperative

Larry Perlstein is a long-time Westport resident, and Staples High School graduate. He cares full-time for his wife and 12-year-old daughter, and authors a blog for caregivers

This is a rant. I hope this does not provoke ire. I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, any government or any specific company. But I am in the midst of unprecedented craziness between the pandemic, the storm, the heat wave, etc. My emotions are running wild, so please hear me out — and be civil.

Can we all agree that disaster planning in general is a disaster? Having lived in Westport or nearby since 1970 (minus 10 years in the San Francisco Bay Area), I notice we recover quickly after a storm only when we are lucky — not because we were prepared.

For example, I live near a road that is a nightmare after any significant storm. Isaias brought down 5 or 6 large trees. Eversource regularly trims the trees, and owners of the multi-million-dollar houses take good care of their properties. But it’s to no avail. The road gets battered. There’s no taming Mother Nature, and no guessing what damage might occur.

Days after Isaias, Avery Place remained blocked by downed wires and limbs. (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

After each storm we hear the same complaints, and go through the same discussions: The forecast was wrong. The utilities were slow to respond. The governor is angry at the utilities. The town was hardest hit and angry at the utilities. The people living on private roads (60% of Westport) don’t get enough attention from the town. Utility, cable and phone support lines are overloaded or non-existent. People ignore warnings to avoid downed lines. And so on.

In my case, 3 trees fell. They took down all my power, cable and phone lines, and blocked my driveway. I called the police non-emergency number 2 days after the storm, alerting them that wires were down across my road, and that my family (including my disabled wife and 12-year-old daughter) were essentially trapped in the house.

Larry Perlstein and his wife Jacquie.

The response was disheartening. The officer said it wasn’t worth putting tape across the road because people tear it down or drive over it, and they did not have any lists of contractors or individuals who might be able to cut us out. Basically, it is what it is.

Thankfully I had a generator and gas. A neighbor helped me find a great tree company. After 2 days, we extricated oruselves.

I suggest that we stop thinking we can develop grand disaster plans, and instead focus on practical strategies that will improve our resilience.

Here’s a list of services that the state and town might provide that would be useful after a storm. I’m sure some of these things exist, and some might be impossible. But we should use this as a starting point:

  • Police and fire departments should have access to a list of tree and electrical contractors that can be provided to homeowners. The list should include those willing to donate services for low-income households.
  • Town emergency messages should include areas/roads to avoid, gas stations and grocery stores that are open, cell services that are impacted, and outage reporting numbers for Eversource, Optimum, Frontier, etc.
  • The state should provide low-interest loans or grants to acquire and install generators for families with disabled or elderly members, and critical facilities and businesses such as senior centers, gas stations and grocery markets.
  • The state should offer emergency relief for homeowners with significant tree damage. Most homeowner insurance plans offer only $500 for a tree that might cost $2500+ to take down. California offers earthquake insurance. Why can’t Connecticut have tree damage insurance?

Tree damage from storms is an ongoing concern. (Photo/C. Swan)

  • The town should have backup generator capability for critical cell towers. Thank god for my good old Frontier copper landline that kept working even with my lines down.
  • The state should regulate Altice’s internet business to ensure accelerated investment in maintaining/upgrading existing infrastructure, and monitor their storm response. I never did find a way to report an outage.
  • Local radio stations such as WICC, WEBE, and WEZN should be enlisted to provide road closure and other emergency information, and someone should figure out what the “Emergency Alert System” can actually be used for. I continued to hear tests on my battery powered radio, but no actual alerts.
  • The town’s Department of Human Services should be sufficiently staffed (with volunteers if necessary) to handle incoming requests for support, and proactive outreach to the voluntary disability registry. Volunteer groups that provided amazing support during the early days of the pandemic should be coordinated by this office to supply gas, food, water, etc., to households unable to do it themselves.

Many more things can be done, but I’ve tried to keep the list reasonable. Having watched and participated in the volunteer efforts that sprang up after the start of the pandemic, I’m certain that with a little centralized organization and some political will on behalf of the town and state, we can make recovery from storms more palatable.

One last note: While our state and local representatives rake Eversource over the coals (again), I urge everyone to remember that the workers who fix our problems have likely left their own families in the middle of their own problems. These folks are our current heroes. I can’t wait to hug one of those heroes (from a distance) when my power gets restored.

A crew from Canada connects Westport to the world. (Photo/Doerte Inett)

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #46

Last week’s photo challenge may have been the easiest. Then again, many of us do spend a lot of time at the Black Duck.

The “directional signs” in the Saugatuck River — visible behind the Duck bar — were easily identified by Bobbie Herman, Rich Stein, Roger Wolfe, Fred Rubin, Bill Kiedaisch, Mariken Rattigan, Michael Planin. Special mention goes to Tony Sousa, who was actually right there at the Duck when he saw the photo. Click here to relive that epic shot.

This week’s challenge is probably harder. If you recognize this image, click “Comments” below.

Oh My 06880 - November 15, 2015

(Photo/Larry Perlstein)

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #41

Last week’s photo challenge was hidden in plain sight: the entrance to the apartments above The Loft, at 9 Main Street. We’ve all walked by it — but have we ever really seen it?

Jacques Voris, Peter Blau and Diane Bosch have. All 3 quickly identified Lynn U. Miller’s image last week. (Click here to see it again.)

After 40 straight photo challenges, Lynn gets today off. This week’s image comes from Larry Perlstein:

Oh My 06880 - October 11, 2015

No, it’s not a photo from the archives. Even though the Minnybus* stopped running around the time that Pac-Man took the world by storm** , this street sign has endured.

But where is it?

If you know, click “Comments.” And if you’ve got any memories of the Minnybus***, send those along too.

*1 word — not 2, as on the sign.

** I am not kidding.

*** Or any knowledge of why this sign is still there.

Larry Perlstein Looks To Make A Difference

Longtime Westporter Larry Perlstein wrote today’s “06880” post.

As he explains below, he’s not doing this only for work. He hopes to shine a light on a side of Westport that’s seldom talked about.

And he’s happy to help others facing similar situations.

Needed:  Challenging, engaging role for experienced technologist/marketer with diverse background (aka “generalist”)

Note:

  • This is not a plea for financial help – my family and I are doing fine (for the moment).
  • This is not a political statement – I’m fiscally conservative, socially liberal (whatever that makes me these days).
  • I’m not whining – I’m simply trying to expose a rarely discussed segment of our community.
  • This treatise is not EEO correct. I’ll tell you my age/race/situation simply to help you understand who I am.
  • I’m not easily categorized (i.e., CIO, CTO, etc.), hence part of the difficulty finding a new role. These are different times, and so we must use different strategies to make our situation known.
  • “I have more to give,” and so do the many other talented yet unemployed professionals in Westport.

Hello, my name is Larry and I’m a 54-year-old white male who has been unemployed for nearly 15 months since being laid off from my last position.

Larry Perlstein

My personal situation is likely a bit different from most people my age who are looking towards retirement and have children heading off to college. My wife and I have an amazing 4 ½-year-old daughter (our only child).

I’ve had a great career thus far, and worked for some well-respected companies. Most recently 15 years for Gartner, based in Stamford – the largest information technology advisory and research firm in the world. Previously I held a variety of roles at IBM, GE and PepsiCo in Connecticut, New York and California.

My background is primarily software technology (that is, all the things that programmers and application users care about) – a constantly changing field that requires regular reinvention, with a bunch of marketing mixed in. I’ve held roles that run from programmer to business analyst, marketing program manager, industry research analyst, vice president and research team manager to, most recently, group vice president and ombudsman (think New York Times public editor).

I am a Staples grad (1975). I have an undergraduate degree in marketing and an MBA in information systems, both from Pace University. We are not wealthy by Westport standards, but we’re not complaining either.

Simply, I’m looking for a role that takes advantage of my skills/talents sweet spot: I’m great at taking a chaotic, stressful situation and driving it towards a successful result. It could be a project gone awry, extreme interpersonal relationships interfering with business processes, difficult technology strategy and evaluation decisions, dissatisfied customers, or even litigious business partners.

Larry Perlstein (left) and his co-chair at the Pace University Seidenberg School for Computer Science and Information Systems Leadership and Service in Technology Award reception. It raised over $125,000 for scholarships.

Sure, you can call me a project manager, client partner executive, program manager or service delivery executive, but these titles are one-dimensional and don’t express my full range of talents. It’s sometimes easier to express what I am not: a slap-on-the-back salesperson (I’m a long term relationship builder), a uni-tasker (I do my best work when managing multiple activities), simply a manager or an individual contributor (I’ve been both), or out of touch (I’ve spent the past 15 months consulting on social media and marketing communications issues, working with non-profits pro bono, and writing freelance industry research).

I can make a difference … and I hope to do so at a company where I’m treated with respect, challenged by their business, and passionate about their purpose and culture. For full CV details see my LinkedIn profile: http://linkedin.com/in/lperlstein

If you know of a role (or even simply a problem) in your company that might be served by my skill set, or if you have a friend who might know of something, please contact me (lperlste@yahoo.com).

And if you’re one of the many others in town also looking for their next gig, stay positive and let me know so I can make my network available to you.