Chappaqua Tales Feed

Carlos Perez-Olivo found guilty of the murder of his wife, Peggy Perez-Olivo

Peggy Perez-Olivo in 2007 elementary school yearbookI was just informed by a TV reporter who just interviewed me on my front porch that at long last Carlos Perez-Olivo has been convicted of murdering his wife, Peggy Perez-Olivo. Mrs. Perez-Olivo was a teaching assistant at my son's elementary school.

I did not find Mr. Perez-Olivo's account of how his wife came to have a bullet in her head (described in my November 2006 post) at all believable. Apparently, the jury felt the same way. The verdict was unanimous. It is a shame that it took so long for him to be arrested, tried, and convicted. But I am relieved that he's finally been found guilty. I wonder why it took the cops more than a year to arrest him.

Peggy Perez-Olivo
Peggy Perez-Olivo, murdered November 2006, as portrayed in my son's 3rd grade school year book. He knew her and says she was a nice lady.

2007 elementary school year book dedication
2007 Grafflin Elementary School year book dedication. Top right photo from the 2007 yearbook staff photo.

What are the three forms of a number?

The question "What are the three forms of a number?" came home on a worksheet in my son's homework. I have a math degree and work with real math in my daily life. I can think of lots of different forms a number can take, but was unable to come up with the trinity of number forms on my own.

I have a mind like a steel sieve, so I thought maybe I'd learned this but had forgotten. So I Googled it.

Google was no help. The only Google hit for "three forms of a number" is an oblique reference to a Powerpoint presentation for teachers.

And so I consulted a Prentice Hall book entitled Preparing for the New York State 6th Grade Math Test which my son had brought home from school, and in that book, there is an answer to this question.

Am I to conclude that the idea that there are "three forms of a number" is an invention either of the authors of the New York State 6th grade math test, or of text book writers? Or is there out there in the world, some other provenance for this coinage?

Help me out here. I want to know. Are they teaching to the test? Or what?

I am unsettled by the idea that a reason that it is necessary to teach to the test is that the test authors are making up new mathematical coinages of their own that students are responsible for regurgitating.

UPDATE 9/24: So I had a meeting with the teacher yesterday. In summary, the phrase I reacted to comes from the Everyday Math curriculum that was in use in the elementary school when Peter was there, and so there was an expectation that students would recognize it in that form. Other answers differing from the Everyday Mathematics formulation would have been acceptable and were accepted with full credit. (The district has since replaced the U. of Chicago's Everyday Mathematics with a different curriculum, at least for my daughter's first grade class.) Peter's teacher is not using that curriculum (thank God!) at this point. The use of NY State practice tests was as a tool to assess what gaps in knowledge were there to be addressed, but the day-to-day classroom curriculum is not particularly oriented toward the test except as necessary to meet state standards.

I'd say I over-reacted to the assignments given by the middle-school teacher based on experience with the attitudes of the more testing-oriented elementary school teachers. Based on our conference, I'd say that preliminarily, I think the situation with the math class is going to be at least fine, if not better.

So my reaction was not baseless, but my experience as a Chappaqua elementary school parent left me with enough post-traumatic stress that I can be a bit quick on the trigger to judge the middle school which is, in the words of a local pediatric psychiatrist, a good bit more "touchy feely" in its academic stances than our elementary school.

Chappaqua Tales #3: Cell Phones Liberate Kids from School on a Hot Day

Today, kids at Bell Middle School in Chappaqua, NY were calling their mothers on their cellphones during school asking to be picked up, saying they were too hot at school. Word got out that you could get out of school that way, and a surprising number of parents went a long with it. I even heard of instances of parents picking up their own kids and offering to take other people's kids out, too. I'm told that less than half of the kids were still at school by the end of the day.

Somehow, I suspect the same parent/child pairs will not be arranging for premature pick-ups from summer camp on days with similar weather conditions.

Press Swarm Forming over at Hillary's in Chappaqua

On my way back from buying some rock garden plants in Mt. Kisco, I passed by Old House Lane in Chappaqua where there is currently a press swarm forming outside the Clinton's house. Presumably they are awaiting some word from Hillary Clinton about the status of her candidacy, or perhaps they are hoping to chat with Bill.

I haven't seen this kind of press swarm over there since Bill Clinton left office.

Chappaqua Tales #2: It's not every day that one is mistaken for a former Miss America

I was driving home from the grocery store this afternoon with the windows open and my hair blowing freely in the wind. As I turned the corner onto Old Farm Road North, a teenage boy driving the other direction leaned out the window of his car and yelled to me, "Vanessa! We love your music!"

He had mistaken me for Vanessa Williams: I was driving on the street that leads to her house.

I never expected at age 46 to be mistaken for a former Miss America!

Chappaqua Tales #1

Yesterday, when picking my son up in Chappaqua, NY at middle school, I saw a girl about twelve drop an iPhone on a stone floor. Afterwards, she and a friend were marvelling, "It's even more cracked than before." So I asked my son if he'd seen many people with iPhones at school. He said he wasn't sure which cell phones were iPhones but reported that lots of kids had cell phones.

He did however volunteer that he'd seen an iPod Nano, complete with headphones, floating in a school toilet recently. I do wonder how many (hundreds of?) thousands of dollars of electronics are circulating in  that school on an average day. Should your iPod fall in a toilet, here is some helpful advice.

(My daughter made the Kindergarten newsletter for taking her big brother's iPod to school. We do not own an iPhone.)

Peggy Perez-Olivo

Peggy Perez-Olivo

A teaching assistant at my son's school was murdered. Because she was a neighbor of the Clintons' and her husband's dramatic account of the event, it is all over the national news. My son knew her and says she was a nice lady who sometimes helped him at school a couple of years ago.

I knew her by sight. She knew me by name. I found her picture in my son's school yearbook from last year. She was shot on Saturday and I think died some time in the past 24 hours.

Here is the New York Times article about it: As Victim Dies, a Mystery Grows in Westchester

The scope of the investigation is certain to include a report by Mr. Perez-Olivo, who was listed in stable condition, that said “an unknown male” with a handgun cut him off on Saw Mill River Road and opened fire. But a law enforcement official, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case, said investigators were considering a range of possibilities, including one that the attacker knew his target or that the man with the gun was Mr. Perez-Olivo himself.

Mr. Perez-Olivo was disbarred from the practice of law in August: From the NY Law Journal, N.Y. Panel Disbars Defense Lawyer for 14 Actions.

UPDATE: for those Googling in hopes of a recognizable photo of her, try HERE.

11/24/06 UPDATE: From The Journal News: Disbarred Chappaqua lawyer hits TV reporter in slay case

CHAPPAQUA - The investigation into the mysterious late-night shooting that wounded a disbarred lawyer and killed his teaching assistant wife turned ugly yesterday, as disgraced attorney Carlos Perez-Olivo furiously punched a television news reporter who asked him if he had killed his wife.

The tumultuous encounter took place after Perez-Olivo, 58, spent two hours with investigators at Westchester County police headquarters in Hawthorne, and nearly three hours after state police divers scoured Echo Lake in Millwood for the weapon used in the Saturday night shooting.

. . . Perez-Olivo said nothing to reporters as he left police headquarters shortly after 5 p.m., waving his hands to indicate he had no comment as he walked to Simmons' car. But when reporters asked him if he had killed his wife, Perez-Olivo, showing no ill effects of the shooting, turned and rushed the pack, struck Fox-TV reporter Charles Leaf and shouted an expletive before another detective got him into the car.

Also, the NYT reports that as of Tuesday the 21st, "a family member" had already called Club Fit and cancelled her gym membership. Mrs. Perez-Olivio died on the afternoon of the 20th.

December 2007 UPDATE: Mr. Perez-Olivo was finally arrested and charged with his wife's murder a month after getting into a dispute a month earlier with an Hartford insurance over whether he would be allowed to collect about half a million dollars in life insurance payments on his wife death.

See NYT: Westchester Lawyer Charged in Wife’s 2006 Shooting Death.

October 2008 UPDATECarlos Perez-Olivo was found guilty October 4th, 2008.

Suspicious Incident in Chappaqua

This notice was just sent me by the Chappaqua school district:

We were just alerted to an incident in Chappaqua. An 11- year old boy was approached on Hamilton Road by a white, male, approximately 40-45 years of age with some grey, cut short (not crew cut) hair, no facial hair, wearing blue, button-down, collared shirt. The suspect drove a Red Ford Explorer who offered the boy a ride. The male subject then stated that he had candy. The boy declined his offers and walked away.

New Castle Police Department is aware of similar incidents occurring throughout Westchester County and this subject / vehicle description appears similar to a recent incident in Harrison, New York. Please contact New Castle Police Detective Division if you have any information. (238-4422)

Seen off Rt. 117 in Chappaqua, New York

My daughter's preschool is about two blocks from the Clinton's house on Old House Lane in Chappaqua. This morning when I dropped off Elizabeth, I saw this home-made sign at the intersection of Orchard Ridge and Rt. 117. I stopped to take a picture. (I saw the back of the sign when taking the picture. On the back it says Proud to be an American with a picture of an American flag.) The same house had a home-made sign that said Welcome Home, Mr. President. when Bill Clinton was released from the hospital after heart surgery not long ago.

MEANWHILE, computers have been giving me a really hard time this morning. Movable Type has been running even more slowly than usual, making it extremely difficult and time consuming to fix typos on my previous post. And it was like pulling teeth to get the Hillary picture out of Sprint's PictureMail service. My brain is running slowly because I have a bad cold and a sinus headache. But computers don't have this excuse. Anyway, I'm glad to finally get this picture up.

Also, the BBC has an appointment to interview me by phone about the election at 1PM my time. I'm not sure how they picked me. They may have called because of my blog or my books, but for all I know they could also have picked me out of the phone book.

Reader's Indigestion or There Goes the Neighborhood

I thought I'd share this item from our school district newsletter. Apparently, Reader's Digest wants a $3.5 million refund from our school district:

Reader's Digest, the largest taxpayer in the school district, has filed a tax certiorari petition to reduce the assessed value of its property and to seek a refund of taxes paid in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Based on the school tax rates for each year, the reduction would result in refunds owed by the School District to Reader's Digest totalling $3.5 million. The District is working with the Town of New Castle on these proceedings.

What could have happened in RD's neck of the woods around that time? Well, the Clintons bought the house on Old House Lane, a couple of blocks away, and moved in. There goes the neighborhood? (My impression is that Chappaqua real estate values have been steadily climbing.)


I guess we don't really need terrorists to bring the system to its knees. The system can do it all by itself. What does Tom Ridge have to say about all this? After all the billions of dollars spent to make the Homeland more Secure, one would think that vulnerabilities in the power grid would have been addressed. Perhaps less money should be spent on enforced patriotism and more money devoted to the system's real security holes.

At 4:06 PM yesterday, I was nursing Elizabeth and web surfing, reading Penis Removal Just Latest In Series of Surgical Mistakes, But Patients Can Protect Themselves. At 4:09, I arose from the computer and went outside to the car. Elizabeth wasn't done nursing and was outraged. But if I waited longer, I'd be late to pick up Peter at Teatown's nature camp. I strapped the squalling infant into her car seat, started the car, and pulled out of the driveway. I think I turned on the radio before pulling out and was annoyed that I couldn't get WFUV, the local folk station. I left the radio on the station for half a mile, hoping WFVU would come back, but it didn't.

I searched the dial, finding stations, though not the ones I expected. For a couple of minutes I listened to an NRP broadcast about the death toll of the French heat wave which described how the record heat had overstressed the power grid, causing power outages which left people without air conditioning and fans, leaving the poor and elderly vulnerable. A man who had written a book about the Chicago heat wave was being interviewed when I lost the station about a mile and a half from home.

I got music on a staticky station which claimed to be 92.3 but didn't sound like it. I momentarily wondered if something 9/11ish were happening, but shook my head, deciding that it was probably just a localized power outage in the vicinity of a major transmission tower. I kept changing stations and losing stations as I drove. No mention was make of power outages on the stations I could get.

Elizabeth was still howling io the back seat. She wasn't giving up. I turned off the radio and tried singing to her, which didn't calm her.

There was a lot of traffic in downtown Chappaqua. When I reached the first traffic light of my journey, it was out of commission. I drove on in unusually heavy traffic. I turned the radio back on, getting stations only faintly and momentarily. Another traffic signal out. I concluded that the power must be out in Chappaqua (though I was actually now already in Millwood). As I waited in traffic, I noticed that it was taking me a lot longer than usual to get to Teatown and that I was going to be late picking up Peter. When I reach the intersection, I saw that yet another traffic light was out. Traffic moved more smoothly toward the forth traffic light of my trip where a woman in purple shirts and T-shirt wearing a baseball cap was directing traffic. Where were the police, I wondered. Shouldn't they come and direct traffic?

I arrived about 5 minutes late to pick up Peter. Walking toward the door, I passed a car with its radio turned up loud. Four camp counselors and the camp director were clustered around. There was a mention of power outages. New York City, counties in New Jersey and also Westchester County were mentioned. That was the first I'd heard of major power outages, but I still didn't really get it. I apologized to Peter's camp counselor for being late, remarking that traffic was bad because none of the traffic lights were working in Chappaqua. He waved me off saying power was out for the whole Eastern Seaboard. One of the other kids in Peter's group was talking about how his daddy who worked for IBM was going to fix the computer worm that did this.

Peter said he had something really important to show me. He took me in the bathroom and flipped the light switch on and off. Nothing happened. See? I explained that the lights weren't coming on because the power was out.

Peter wanted to look at the animals in tanks before we left, but the tank lights were out, so we couldn't see much. In the parking lot, I tried to call David at Tor on my cell phone, but it didn't ring. I loaded the kids in the car and listened to 1010 WINS was we drove home. Peter was shouting from the back seat that I should turn it off because there was too much static, but eventually I convinced him that they were telling me something I needed to know. The station was coming in badly. It was not the local 1010. Probably it was one in Connecticut.

I switched back to FM and got a Connecticut station which came in very clearly. They were reporting that their power had just come back on and reported for the whole 15 minute drive referring to the event as a "brownout." Brown for whom, I wondered. Still no police directing traffic on the return trip. Cars were now treating the intersections like 4 way stops, which improved traffic flow. I wondered why no police. On the trip out, the lack of police directing traffic was understandable. But half an hour later, five block from the police station, the lack of a policeman direction traffic seemed to me a serious lapse. I saw no police anywhere. What were they doing? The location of traffic lights should be well-known to them.

Once at home in our driveway, I tried to call David again. It still didn't ring. I tried my parents number in Seattle. It rang and my mother answered. I told her about the blackout, which she had not known about.

Once in the house, Peter was anxious and sulky. I explained to him that the power outage was a big problem but that he should not be scared. It was like when the roads were bad because of too much snow. Daddy would not be able to make it home, but that he was fine and we all were safe. Then I sent him outside to play with the hose and fill the kiddie pool, a surefire distraction.

Since the regular phone lines require electricity, it had not occurred to me that our phone service might be intact. But at about 5:30, the phone rang. It was David, calling from Tor. The phones worked until about 7. I guess Verizon's backup generator ran out of fuel. Using my cell phone, I wasn't able to get Tor or the apartment where David said he might be, so I presume their phone service gave out, too. (As of 8:30 AM, Tor's phone system still doesn't answer, so I presume the phones in Manhattan are still out.)

NEWSBREAK: David just called from Tor. One cannot call in. They have some very bad phone service going out -- I had to speak very slowly and repeat words three times to be understood. David, Jim Minz, Jim's wife, and a guy named Gavin from production spent the night in the Tor offices. David had me try the MetroNorth web site to see if trains were running. I could not get the MetroNorth web site to load.

Returning to our story: Before dark, Peter and Elizabeth played with the girl next door until she went in for dinner. It was very quiet out. No air conditioners. No planes overhead.

Then we went back to our screened porch. Periodically, I called my mother for news updates. The kids were both a bit insecure and I had to be very insistent to get some dinner on the table and get candles lit. We had plenty of candles available, plus a good kerosene lamp, but I had to keep childproofing concerns clearly in mind, and there were not a lot of easy places to put candles where the kids couldn't reach.

Peter set one of his veggie sticks on fire when I was trying to put more food out. But after a stern talking to, he behaved well with the candles after that. After the sun set, the kids and I watched the bats and watched the stars come out. I'd hoped we might be able to see some shooting stars, but the air was too hazy. Also, despite the lack of light pollution from the ground, because there was a full moon to rise later, the sky never got truly dark.

I called my mother for an update. she said that some official had said that the outage had been contained. Yeh, I said. Contained in a larger container than its ever been contained in before! I saw a flashlight bobbing in the living room: Geoffrey and Annie. We talked for a little while and they helped me get the kids to bed.

It was tricky figuring out what to leave burning. Until I was ready to go to sleep, I left the kerosene lamp burning in our bathroom's shower stall, the most fireproof place I could think of. Peter was afraid to be in the dark and so I put a candle in his window over his sliding glass door. It cast a pure cool light over the whole room and down the hall. It was the same spot I'd burned a candle after 9/11. I'm sure it was visable throughout the neighborhood for lack of competition.

After the kids were asleep, I stood out on the deck and watched the moon rise. There were no mosquitoes about, which was great. It was a much more comfortable temperature outside, and it also smelled better. (Because of the humidity, mold in our basement is flourishing.) A bit after 10, I called my mother again. Still no real news about what was happening.

At 2:38 AM I head the one and only MetroNorth train that I've heard so far. Shortly thereafter, something happened than set off a number of alarms in the area. A momentary power surge? Because I heard alarms and sirens, I got up to investigate, but there was nothing really to see. I tried watching for shooting stars, but the moon was very bright.

As I mentioned in my pervious post, the power came on about 6:30. The adventure continues.

Can I just say how self-righteous I feel about our lack of home air conditioning? We are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Come on people: You don't need to spend your whole lives in temperatures below 75 degrees!