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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Boxers amassed in Beijing

In the summer of 1900, murderous anti-foreign rebels known as the Boxers amassed in Beijing. Diplomats, foreign civilians and Chinese Christians hastily retreated to the capital’s legation quarter, where they held out for 45 days until the Eight-Nation Alliance came to their rescue...

I was told that Daniel Boulud – the French restaurateur behind some of the world’s most acclaimed eateries - has remained “very, very involved” since he left his Maison à Pekin in the capable hands of his general manager and three head chefs, all of whom have worked for years with Boulud in New York.

It is a team that has experience impressing the world’s most formidable critics - people who regularly review the finest eateries of New York, London and Paris, people that don’t miss a trick. My recent frame of reference is Beijing..

replica breitling watch

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life During a Recession Has Benefits

When we bought our house in New Jersey last year, the home inspector told us that the towering ash tree in front was rotting. So, before closing on the house, we got a couple of bids to remove it. We figured it would cost $4,000 or so.

One tree service bid $5,600. But its owner warned we'd be left with a huge pile of tree grindings when we got done. So we'd need to hire a landscaper to remove that and to replace it with dirt. The other bid came in at $8,800. Welcome to the Garden State.(chopard watches)

One service bid $4,500. Another offered to do it for $3,300. The cheaper bid includes removing the grindings and replacing them with dirt, so we won't need to hire a landscaper. He also offered to cut the ivy that was choking two other trees in our yard -- for no extra charge.

I had heard enough. I hired him.

His crew began taking the tree down Wednesday. It isn't a simple job. The ash tree is about six feet across at the base, and its branches are right next to major power lines. The service is using an elevated bucket and a crane, and a chip truck to grind everything up.

There are other signs in my bucolic town that the economy is cooling. We have a supermarket right near the train station. That makes it terribly convenient if I need to grab something on my way home at night.

The bad news is that it's expensive. So I do the bulk of our shopping in another supermarket a couple of miles from the house. I treat the one near the train station more like a giant convenience store.

This past week, I picked up a few items at the train-station supermarket on the way home. It seemed to me there was more stuff on sale. For example, you could get two one-pound packages of bacon for $5.

I asked a clerk if there were more specials. He allowed that might be the case, and quickly returned to ringing items up.

Now let's talk about real money: real estate.

Unlike in California or Florida, housing prices haven't gone off a cliff yet in my area. But things are softening.

Regular readers of this column might remember my wife and I tried to buy another house last year in the same community for $660,000. But after we signed a contract and the house was in attorney review, another buyer came along with a higher bid. The seller, as is legal in New Jersey, dumped us and took the higher bid.

Our attorney asked us, 'Are you having fun yet?'(breitling)

We bought the house we're living in now for $585,000 in early September.

We later heard that the higher bidder on that first house wanted thousands of dollars of repairs, and the deal collapsed. The house went back on a weakening market, and the seller has been forced to keep lowering the price. It's currently being listed at $599,000, $61,000 less than we agreed to pay for it six months ago.

I might take some small measure of satisfaction, except for this: The value of the house we did buy has almost surely gone down about as much.

Monday, April 13, 2009

who is that gril?

The least famous Ronson sibling is vying for our attention with the launch of her clothing line in the UK.

Charlotte RonsonNot content with letting musician brother Mark and twin sister DJ Samantha bask in the glow of success, fashion designer Charlotte Ronson has just launched her clothing line in the UK, available exclusively at Harrods. Ronson puts across her own trademark look of sexy yet cool girliness in the pieces, which range from cute wearable day dresses to a Missoni-esque knit, to a cut-out evening dress with zips. The latter was modelled by Lindsay Lohan, when she sat front row with girlfriend Samantha at Charlotte's first catwalk show during New York Fashion Week last February. Despite her celebrity endorsers, and collaborations with the likes of Nicole Richie and Lily Allen, she says the "biggest compliment is when you see a girl who has actually bought your stuff walking down the street." No sign of her rather delectable shoes over this side of the pond as yet -check them out on her website - however, as she says, all in good time. Looks like she won't be the least famous Ronson sibling for long. Lindsay Lohan, Charlotte and Samantha Ronson

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Consumers Save Money at

An online Japanese retailer specializing in replica Rolex watches,, gives consumers worldwide affordable solutions to maintaining their image through market slowdowns and credit crunches facing numerous global economies.

“It’s hard enough when market fluctuations come on suddenly, leaving someone with fewer resources unexpectedly,” says James Henderson, Managing Director of Hause Watches Partnership Ltd. (which operates “They don’t need the embarrassment rubbed in their face when people notice they’ve had to sell off something like their real Rolex watches. At, we give them choices that make it easier for them to keep their pride until the market improves again – no one has to know they’re wearing a replica.”

While down markets are a reason consumers might look to replica watches, they also serve other purposes. For example, an owner of a real Rolex watch might prefer not to wear it on a day-to-day basis (either for security reasons or to cut down on the wear and tear on the watch). In that case, the watch owner might buy an identical replica Rolex watch to keep the appearance of their real watch for casual wear, while actually keeping that real Rolex in a private and safe location.