Grinding ideas to powder?



“There are few sectors as resistant to change as government and health care,” says Susannah Fox, CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services. Her interview with Laura Landro is in the Wall Street Journal today. “We count on their stability. But I have seen those two millstones grind a great idea down to powder. I’ve also seen initiatives flourish and grow, nurtured on the strong platform that this agency provides.” 

Here is the interview.

My take: In this election season, the image of government-as-inexorably-slow-millstone actually offers a modicum of comfort.

Disclosure: She is my daughter.

Above: Millstones from Evans Pharmaceutical Laboratories, Fleet Street, Liverpool. Used for grinding drugs from c.1846-1948. Catalyst Science Discovery Centre.

Photo by Mike Peel (, CC BY-SA 4.0,





Networking: stories well told

house_tour_2016-2-768x994The Hightstown-East Windsor Historical Society will host its biennial House Tour, “A Step Back in Time” on Sunday, October 23, 2016 from 1-5 p.m.  This year’s tour includes 7 historic houses dating back to the 1800s.
A good example of a networking chain: I learned about this tour when doing the research for my talk “Button Pioneers of New Jersey.” Among the most prominent pioneers, nationally, were Hightstown residents Lillian Smith Albert and Alphaeus ‘Dewy’ Albert. Through Charles “Cappy” Stulz (I knew somebody from his insurance firm through my work for U.S. 1 with the Princeton Regional Chamber)  I was able to consult with Robert W. Craig, historian for New Jersey. We had delightful phone and email chats. A history prodigy himself, Craig — as a youth — had worked with Albert as an elderly man and had important insights. Craig, not missing a beat, introduced me by email to Shirley Olsen, publicist for the tour.
According to her press release, “all  of the houses have been preserved, refurbished, or renovated, and represent a variety of styles representative of New Jersey history. Antique cars will be at each house as well as floral arrangements made by The Rocky Brook Garden Club.”
“Pre-sale tickets are now available for $20 at Perennial Home, 119 W. ely_house_flags-150x150Ward St. Hightstown,  or Weichert Realtors,  East Windsor, 417 Route 130, East Windsor, N.J. The day of tour, tickets will be $25 sold at the Society headquarters (the Ely house, shown at right) 164 North Main Street, Hightstown.  For more information check the society website  or call 609-448-8388.”
Is it likely that I would I have stopped, on a rainy Monday morning, to post this house tour in Hightstown? Nope.  But as good networkers know, it’s vital to return the favor when you can. And now I’m sort of intrigued. What’s inside THIS house?h-1-img_4424-1-300x168
 Or this one?

Or this one?  h-3-image1-1-225x300

Never underestimate the power of networking or of stories well told.

Shoemaker’s child? 9/10 at 2 p.m.



On Saturday, September 10, at  2 p.m. at the New Jersey State Button Society Show and Sale, I will give an illustrated talk “Button Pioneers of New Jersey,” looking at how devoted button collectors operated in the 2oth century, aiming to inspire collectors in the 21st century.

Everyone is invited! The show is amazing — a dozen dealers, thousands of buttons to admire and/or buy and there’s even a raffle. It costs just $2 and is at the Union Fire Company Banquet Hall in Titusville. 

It’s a case of the shoemaker’s child. You’d think I’d have posted on my own blog before now, but I am having too much fun putting together at talk with adorable pictures like the one below. gertrude-patterson-1953




“When,” a poem by Daniel A. Harris

May time keep running back to me — and may I use it wisely.

NIOT Princeton

Daniel Harris, poet, scholar, environmentalist, and long-time Not in Our Town supporter, had the following poem accepted for publication in the Connecticut River Review.  Daniel has given us permission to publish it on the blog.  Daniel invites you to visit his website,


Since time is running out for me

to say about

the currents of oceans

gulls on their errands

the wind-lashed palms

And time is running out for me

to say about

the horses, their riders

beasts of burden, oxen

yoked to plow the many fields

And time is running out for me

to say about

the     other chattel

people caught and shackled

shipped and bought

enslaved for free labor, profit

While time runs short for me

to say about

women abused to breed

the owners who used them

children, men schooled by whip

Time’s run out for me

to cough up phlegm and tell

View original post 42 more words

11 Green Street


My dilemma about 11 Green Street was explained well by Vincent Xu in this edition of the Princeton Echo . Can the historic preservation ordinance ‘save’ the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood.

Dirty Dancing’s Princeton Connection


The author of Dirty Dancing, Eleanor Bergstein, lived in Princeton in 1986 when she wrote the movie (she was married to English professor and poet Michael Goldman). U.S. 1 Newspaper did a cover story on her. I remember her telling me what a tight time budget she had (less 2 months), how she wished she could have reshot some scenes, and that she based it on her adolescence doing what they called ‘dirty dancing’ (actually the mambo) at basement parties.

This article tells how they kept the cameras running during rehearsal breaks in case there  was usable film, how she prepared to write the movie by emceeing dance parties in her Princeton home, how she was pressured to take out the abortion scene, which was central to the plot.

Another Princeton connection was one of the dancers, Jennifer Stahl

What brought it up now?  An Urban Joker post on  35 things you probably didn’t know about the movie. And I fell in love with this movie all over again.



September 15: arts and tech

On September 15 Princeton University invites everyone to a Nassau Street Sampler at the Princeton University Art Museum, free. See, taste, hear music.

Also on September 15 Tiger Labs hosts Mung Chiang at a $10 (cheap) networking and “fireside chat” session. It’s 6:30 pm to about 9.


Starting out small

I really like the advice in this week’s Richard K. Rein column in U.S. 1. 

Believe that what you are doing is important — to you if not to anyone else, no matter how trivial your current assignment might appear to be.

I also like knowing that — no matter how far Rein seems to veer from where he begins, he always ties it up at the end. This week’s ender is more subtle than usual.