Yuppies don’t have friends, they have contacts, went the old quip. Those aged enough to still recall yuppies and the fanatical fast track lifestyle they embodied in the l980s may also remember how they prompted the trend toward boxing lives into work vs. everything else. While such division is now viewed as unhealthy even for the upwardly mobile, leadership trainer Kathleen Cashman says it can be absolutely suicidal for job seekers, walling them off from their precious assets.

She speaks on "Networking: A Full Skill Job," on Tuesday, November 29, at 7:30 p.m. at the Jobseekers career networking group at Trinity Church in Princeton. Call 609-924-2277 for more information on the free talk. Cashman is president of Hainsesport-based Cashman Consulting (www.Cashmanconsultingllc.com).

Although nepotism alone might certainly have given Michael Cashman an ample cause for bringing his daughter into the flourishing consulting firm he began in Hainesport in l975, his daughter provided him with plenty of other qualifications. Following an B.A in marketing from Seton Hall University, earned in the early l980s, and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Cashman went into retail. She worked first at Bloomingdales, and then at J.C. Penney, where she deliberately took positions in every sector of the giant retailer’s operations just to familiarize herself with its entire workings. "I learned this from my father," says Cashman. "Throughout his years in the military and as an executive, he really believed in this full training approach."

In l984 Cashman joined her father’s firm as a senior associate, taking over the presidency in l988, and changing the name from Consulting Corporation to Cashman Consulting, LLC. She and her father frequently speak at engagements around the country. Lately, however, Cashman has been carving out more time on crafting leadership modules for the company’s main client, Women Unlimited, a New York City-based company that works with corporate clients to help them position top female executives for even greater achievement.

"Networking may occur unplanned," says Cashman, "but you must always plan for when it occurs." There is probably no greater sin in our culture than being unemployed. The unbusy are somehow viewed as denying the great American goal of achievement. The jobseeker’s guilt is enormous. While Cashman admits that one cannot easily dismiss a culture load of angst, establishing a new, temporary career of precise networking tactics may add a little distraction along with some real success.

Making friends for life. "Why are you networking?" Cashman asks. Is it to pay the mortgage? To keep the family fed? To get back up the career ladder? Wrong. Each of these very common answers is shortsighted, indicating that you are aiming low and desperately. And it is the sort of desperation that will come through in your conversation. Instead, the winning answer, according to Cashman, is that we network to build relationships.

If you were to give a picnic in your backyard, how many folks would you consider inviting? If the list is less than 100, your net of relationships needs working – for the sake of your business, and for the sake of a richer life. Cashman warns, "Don’t let time run you and ruin your relationships." Too many people, particularly job hunters, assess newly met individuals only for their immediate value as job connections. Instead, she suggests taking the time for a little personal cultivation. Who knows what might spring up?

Getting comfy. From the first day the first men left their homes to labor in the first factory, the separation of work and home life began. Since then breadwinners have grown comfortable and even celebrated this distinction. It now seems impolite, and even degrading, to look for job connections through friends and family.

One of the main causes of discomfort in approaching friends is that the jobseeker presents himself as a beggar, rather than a sharer. For Cashman, networking does not begin with "I need," but rather with listening. Strike up a conversation. "Get to know the whole person," says Cashman. "This goes back to building a relationship. And you never know how far it might lead." Then after you have learned a great deal about your new contact, offer to contribute before asking. Even if it is only a new place to take the family, you have given. Later you can ask.

Using research wisely. While seemingly obvious, the thorough study of the companies and individuals you plan to meet remains a step most often missed by active networkers. At the same time, beware of trying to impress an executive with how much you know about his firm. A simple, "I’ve read that you are expanding into the Southwest, my own home area. Could you tell me about that?" works much better than a barrage of memorized statistics.

Since networking and opportunity knock at unforeseen times, it is best to have ready what Cashman calls your elevator speech. These are those few lines that impart your interest and a couple of teasing benefits you might offer. The trick is to have it scripted, but not to sound rote or, even worse, conniving. "Just think of what you bring to situations, then craft the language," says Cashman.

Prying open the door. When cold calls are treated icily, it may be time to request an informational interview. Contacting anyone available, either in human resources or in a department in your field, ask for an appointment to discuss overall opportunities in this company and/or in your field. Since you are not wrangling for a specific position, executives are usually more welcoming and more open in conversation. Frequently employers who wouldn’t give an applicant a second look will enjoying playing host to new friends with a sincere interest in their work.

In her leadership seminars Cashman says: "I think the greatest gift a manager can give his team is to fire them every Friday and have them come in on Monday with proof of why they should be rehired for the next week." For those comfortably ensconced behind their desks, it is a challenging fantasy. For those looking for work, it is a window into the creativity and initiative prized by the best employers.

– Bart Jackson

Women’s Retirement Strategies: Meghan Shannon

‘People often avoid looking at their financial situation or planning for retirement because they are afraid of what they’ll find," says financial consultant Meghan Shannon. If they don’t take that hard look, however, they are more likely to have their income fall short of their everyday needs and to find it totally inadequate in a crisis.

"Providing for retirement is the single most important long-term financial goal of most people," she says. Americans are living longer and many people can reasonably expect to spend 20 or 30 years in retirement. The traditional 20th century cushion for those years, Social Security, is the subject of a high-stakes drama. Will it be available down the road? For how long? At what level? The uncertainty makes it even more important that people plan ahead.

Shannon, a partner in Common Interests, a registered investment consulting firm located in Metuchen, speaks at a Dine and Discover meeting of Women Helping Women on Tuesday, November 29, at 6 p.m. at the Cornerstone Cafe and Bistro at 25 New Street in Metuchen. Call 732-549-6000. Cost: $50.

Women Helping Women is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides affordable therapy and support services for women. The organization works to provide "community support and inspiration" to help women to overcome obstacles, reach their fullest potential, and enrich their lives.

Along with the Dine and Discover program, the organization also offers a variety of services for women, including individual therapy, therapy groups, support groups, and legal clinics.

It is particularly important for women to plan ahead for retirement and take control of their financial issues, says Shannon. But for many people, the everyday financial demands such as mortgage payments, tuition bills, and medical expenses take precedence over planning for a distant retirement. Others assume that Social Security and company pension benefits will be enough. But retirement goals cannot be reached without proper planning, says Shannon.

"Women generally receive smaller amounts from Social Security than men in equivalent jobs," she says. There are a number of reasons for this disparity. Often women receive lower Social Security payments simply because they have not worked for as many years. They have taken time out of the paid workforce to provide unpaid care to children, disabled spouses, or elderly parents. Not only are whole years often missing from their Social Security statements, but the work gaps also have the effect of limiting upward career mobility, which translates into lower salaries.

While women tend to have lower lifetime earnings than men, they also tend to spend less time on financial planning. Busy juggling work and family, they often let attention to money matters slide. "People think they have no time to take a look at their financial future," says Shannon, who has more than 15 years of experience in the corporate world and has spent the last five years as an investment counselor. She received her B.A. degree from Cornell University and an MBA from New York University.

Cruising along, busy with so many other aspects of life, women tend to pay Shannon a visit only when there is a major transition in their lives. She sees clients most often when they’ve recently experienced a major life event – a divorce, a death in the family, or perhaps marriage, the birth of a child, or retirement. No matter what the stage of life, these are her recommendations:

Determine your financial status. This is the first step. Look at every asset, locate every IRA account, make sure that every 401 (K) from every former employer is accounted for.

Check on your pension options. Does your employer allow you to choose between a lump sum distribution and a monthly payout? Is your pension based on your total earnings, or on the amount you earned in the three – or maybe five – years when your wages were highest?

What about health insurance? Will it continue after retirement? And if so, at what cost?

After looking at assets and liabilities take a hard look at your budget. If you have no idea where your money is going, write down every expenditure for at least a month. Think about future expenses too. Would you like to pay for a child’s wedding, graduate school, or home down payment? Is there a chance that one of your parents or in-laws may need help with paying for a nursing home or in-home care?

Set financial goals. Once you know where you are you can set goals for where you would like to be when you retire. Where – and how – would you like to live? Will you need enough income to cover frequent travel? Is a part-time job a possibility? Is trading down to a less expensive home, or moving to a less expensive part of the country an option? Just how much cash will it take to provide the lifestyle you want – both in active retirement, and later on, when you may need help with everyday tasks?

Retirement changes. At retirement a number of things will change in your financial life, says Shannon. "Your outgoing expenses will change as well as your income." Remember, there will be no more Social Security tax. A commuter ticket will not be necessary either, and it’s a good chance that wardrobe expenses will drop. The morning Starbucks stop may be replaced by coffee on the back deck, and there will be no more collections for office birthday/new baby/retirement celebrations.

Expenses may well go down. But the opposite could be true. Be honest with yourself. Will you be content to spend your days watching the cardinals at your window feeder and volunteering around town, or will you want to attend more plays, try restaurants you never had the time for on week nights when you were working, visit new cities, and take your grandchildren on many more outings?

Prepare for emergencies. People should also look at the "what ifs," says Shannon, and prepare for the possibility of illness, hospitalization, and the need for long-term care.

Retirement could be the perfect excuse to sit down with your children and talk about the future. How much are you able to do for them, and for their children? How much do they expect you to do? How much may they be able to do for you? The answers to these questions could aid in planning for investments, setting up a budget, and purchasing long-term care insurance.

If your kids run the other way when you mention the possibility of someday moving in with them, for example, it might be a good idea to invest in long-term care insurance or to put money aside to pay for a home health aide down the road.

There will never be a way to plan for the whole range of possibilities that come with living to an enviable old age, but a little planning – the earlier the better – can provide peace of mind no matter what happens.

– Karen Hodges Miller

Small World Success: Jessica Durrie

One recipe for success is to find what you love and pursue it with all your heart. The challenge, of course, is to figure out what you care about that much. So, rather than taking the trouble to plot a course for the future, many people just wait for inspiration to strike while they plow through college, and even graduate school. A healthy minority of these, well past midlife, still like to say they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.

But when Jessica Durrie, co-owner of Small World Coffee, didn’t know what to do with her life, she took another approach – she dropped out of college to figure things out. "I felt like I was wasting time and money," she says, remembering her difficulty focusing after the move from high school to college. She moved to Santa Cruz and lived in a mountain cabin with no electricity or hot water. "I was living the simple, beautiful life that you can only live at that time of life."

During her time off from school, she worked in the restaurant industry and fell in love with it. Intending eventually to open a restaurant, she applied to the School for Hotel and Restaurant Management at Cornell University. Her years at Cornell, she says, "gave me the language and vocabulary of business. It gave me the building blocks of what components I needed to be aware of to start and run a business."

Durrie is receiving the "Entrepreneur of the Year" award from the Princeton Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, November 30, at 5:30 p.m., at the Tournament Players Club at Jasna Polana (festive business attire). For more information, call 609-924-1776. Her fellow award winners are Emily Mann, artistic director of McCarter, who is being honored as the "Leader of the Year," and Greg Olsen, founder of Sensors Unlimited – and recently returned amateur astronaut – who will receive the "Innovator of the Year" award.

While at Cornell, Durrie decided to open a cafe instead of a restaurant. She sees her childhood as having been the perfect preparation for the people-intensive work of running a cafe. Her father worked for General Motors, and the family lived overseas for 12 years – in Rome, Italy; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Melbourne, Australia. "Constantly being put in the position of having to learn a new language and culture and make new friends made me and all my siblings open to people and new situations," she says, adding that "you have to be that way in a service industry."

People skills and business education were necessary but not sufficient preparation for a career in coffee house management. After Durrie graduated from Cornell in 1990, she got hands-on experience by working in a coffee house in Ann Arbor to learn the business. The company, Espresso Royale, owned 19 cafes, and she opened a new shop for them.

She and her partner, Brant Cosaboon, who was a fellow employee at Espresso Royale, began the search for a town where they could open Small World. Of the 15 or 20 towns they visited, only Princeton had all the elements they were looking for – a college town, a "walking downtown," the right kind of population, and no other cafe in sight. Bucks County did not open until six months later and Starbucks, two years later.

Their first task in Princeton was to locate a storefront, and it took them a year of knocking on doors to find a place. "We were so new to business and so flabbergasted by all the prices that I felt sure everyone was trying to rip me off," Durrie recalls, realizing now that high rents are simply a reality of doing business in Princeton. Eventually they found a home for Small World with the help and support of the building’s owner, Al Bonin. "He had so much faith in us. Most people were not willing to take the risk, but he was willing, gave us a fair rent, and was a great guy."

They opened in 1993. As they were learning how to run a business on the fly, one of their first challenges – and a continuing one – was cultivating and training a staff. They had done no hiring prior to the opening, and the cafe was a lot busier than they expected right off the bat. "We were in a staffing hole for a year," says Durrie. "My business partner and I worked all hours, seven days a week."

Because her employees are essential to her business, Durrie puts lots of effort into the employee culture of the cafe, creating an environment that has more benefits than a paycheck. Although a good product is also critical, she says that it is "equally important to have people serve who are going to make customers feel good." She works on creating community among the staff and holds monthly all-crew meetings where the food is on her. "We close the cafe to customers – it’s just for us that night."

"I focus a lot on training and keeping the staff motivated," she says. "I know a cafe only runs as well as the people who work behind the counter." She employs both a head trainer, Tuc Sargentini, who has been with Small World for 11 years, and a recently hired an assistant trainer. "The only way you make money in coffee is to sell a lot. And to do that you have to keep the energy strong so that employees can do it for six hours straight."

Her turnover, she says, is about 30 to 40 percent per year, which is low for the industry. When she hires, she asks for a one-year commitment, since it takes about six months to train a new employee fully. "I tell them that I need the other six months to get a return on our investment." Durrie interviews almost every week, whether or not she needs staff, because she says, "you can never assume that you will be fully staffed." Her employees currently range in age from about 19 to 43, although most are in their 20s and about half are college students. She says that some of her best workers are students from the College of New Jersey.

To maintain the physical environment, Small World shuts down three to four days each year to do a massive cleaning and renovation. With the cafe open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight every day, Durrie says it is otherwise hard to keep the business maintained. With Small World’s expansion from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet several years ago, she feels they have sufficient seating.

Durrie acknowledges that there’s lots of competition in Princeton, but she doesn’t worry about it. "There is room in this market for a variety of places like mine," she says. She even offers a compliment and thank you to Starbucks: "They do the marketing for us little guys," she explains, by putting ads in the New York Times and teaching the American public about coffee, espresso, and different types of chocolate. "They already know about these things, and I don’t have to teach them."

But knowing the other guys are out there keeps her on her toes, trying every day to do a better job. She checks out her competitors regularly but observes realistically: "All I have control over is making sure we are consistently putting out a good product that the marketplace will respond favorably to."

Apparently she’s doing a great job. While writing the article about Durrie, this reporter was having dinner with a friend in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at a restaurant where Joan Nathan, the cookbook author, was on tour for her latest cookbook, The New American Cooking. Upon hearing we were from Princeton, Nathan asked whether we knew Jessica Durrie and proceeded to open her new cookbook to page 38, where we saw the title "Small World Coffee’s Ginger Scones with Cardamom" and read, "One of the best [American scones] I have tasted is the candied ginger and cardamom scone from Small World Coffee in Princeton, New


In 1997 Durrie and co-owner Jon March opened Small World Roasters, a separate wholesale coffee roasting business in Rocky Hill. It provides coffee for Small World, other cafes, gourmet grocery stores, restaurants, and offices. Durrie says that March makes deals with brokers and tastes every single bean they end up buying and roasting.

Durrie says the roasting sales are not yet as high as those in the cafe, but she believes the business has much potential, especially if they promote it more. Some of Small World’s veteran employees, including Sargentini, also roast. "It creates a great circle of knowledge for them to be part of the roasting process and then serve it to customers in the cup and share that knowledge," she observes.

Durrie would like to see the roasting end expand, but she is not interested now in opening additional retail locations. Although she has lots of ideas about ways to grow the business, she has kids – age 7 and 9 – who still need her at home. (She and Cosaboon, who was her husband as well as her business partner, are now divorced.) "Right now is not the right time for me to take on more responsibility and still be a good mom," she says. "In two or three years things may shift, and I may have more opportunity to work on new projects."

For people who want to get started in a people-intensive service industry, Durrie has a few hints:

Get hands-on experience. Durrie says lots of people ask her about opening a coffee house, but have never worked in one. "Make sure you really enjoy it," she says, by trying it out first.

Be sure you love interacting with people. "If you go into it and don’t love it, you will be miserable," she says. "I love talking to people and getting to know people. I love the differences between people. It’s what keeps life interesting."

Get a degree. "You don’t necessarily need to go to a four-year college," she says, "but it helps having the financial backbone and understanding of the business end."

Have a partner who has your opposite talents. She describes her own business partner, Cosaboon, this way: "He is the mastermind behind more of the technical stuff, accounting, books, and equipment. And in the roasting end, he has a very good palate." Although she acknowledges that she could do some of what he does, she says she wouldn’t enjoy it as much. "I am involved with customers, employees, vendors, and community outreach. There is little overlap in what we do."

Durrie says she is honored to have been selected for the award, but one of the nicest side benefits has been the conversations started by a recent newspaper article about it. "Through that, I have met wonderful people who I had seen in the cafe before but hadn’t spoken to."

Durrie’s business success has not gone to her head. Her goal, she says, is to lead a balanced and fulfilling life. The changes she has in mind for the future involve ways to "keep the learning curve happening for myself. I have lots of fun ideas that don’t necessarily translate into greater sales." Rather, they are more qualitative ways of improving the business and reaching out into the community more.

"I’m in this business because I love it, and I make a good living," she concludes. "I only want to grow the business in ways that will enhance my life, but not give me more work and more money."

– Michele Alperin

A New Chapter in Bankruptcy: Elizabeth Abdelmasieh

It is time to step up to the plate and take a little responsibility. No more ducking under the Chapter 11 umbrella when the black clouds of creditor repayment come home to roost. Or at least so say supporters of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BACCPA). Critics quickly point out that the new act, pushed hard by the Bush administration, is a sop to the card companies, who have openly yearned for more protection against credit card scofflaws for years.

But whatever the motivation, everyone agrees that since the bill took effect on October 17, confusion has reigned supreme. To help sort out the new process for both individuals and businesses, the Financial Women’s Association presents "Bankruptcy Matters! Get the Facts You Need to Know Here" on Wednesday, November 30, at 5:30 p.m. at the law offices of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus (www.nmmlaw.com) in Bridgewater. Cost $25. Visit www.FWA.org.

Speaker Elizabeth Abdelmasieh is an attorney for Norris McLaughlin with a specialty in bankruptcy and creditors rights.

A native of Jersey City, Abdelmasieh graduated from Seton Hall University in l997 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. "I found myself wondering if indeed there was any justice for criminals," she says, a question that led her to earn her degree from the New York Law School.

Since then she clerked for, among others, the Honorable Kathryn Ferguson and the Honorable Morris Stern of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. She also worked for New York law firm Reed Smith as a bankruptcy specialist signing on at Norris McLaughlin six months ago.

Before the October 17 enactment of the BACCPA, bankruptcy fell into three more or less distinct categories. The simplest, Chapter 7, entailed a straight liquidation of all assets and redistribution of them among the extant creditors. When the best chance of repayment came from keeping the indebted business or individual liquid and functioning, the bankruptcy applicant was placed in Chapter 13 and the debt was reorganized. Chapter 11 was a more complex version of Chapter 13, typically sought by larger corporations. In each case, the courts would place the applicant in a category, assign or approve trustees, and determine which creditors got paid in what order, on what schedule.

But not any more. With BACCPA, debt has been taken out of the courts, and put up for sale on the free market. "For attorneys this new law presents a royal pain with Constitutional questions, paperwork, and conflict of interest," says Abdelmasieh. "It is going to be a long shakedown." But, she says, there are ways around many of the more Draconian provisions.

Debt qualification. Gone are the days of merely filing for bankruptcy and displaying your empty pockets before a judge. The individual applicant for bankruptcy now must take a means test. This test tallies up his expenses for bread, a roof over head, school for the kids, and very minimal basics. It also compare these expenses with the states median income.

If the petitioner does not appear to have enough money to meet even survival expenses, he is placed automatically in Chapter 7. His assets, such as they are, are liquidated and sold off to pay his secured debts, such as a mortgaged home, and he is absolved of unsecured loans, such as credit card bills. If the means test agents can ferret out $160 a month in surplus cash, the individual falls into Chapter 13. A financial reorganization is established along with a repayment schedule for secured and unsecured loans.

There are small provisions for emergencies. An individual facing foreclosure of his residence, for example, can stave off eviction while his means test is being conducted.

The big problem with means testing, says Abdelmasieh "is that the means test is out of the court and now must be conducted by the applicant’s own attorney. This means an attorney may be actually be working against his client’s interests, just to get the creditors repaid." In addition, the bankruptcy petitioner must now pay that attorney for the further billing hours spent giving him the test.

The grim repayer. The old fashioned, phone-hounding bill collector has developed a new wrinkle. Sweetening his title to debt counselor, he now declares himself a non-profit firm, promising to whisk away credit card debts in the twinkling of an eye, all for free. Placing the indebted family on a stringent budget, he collects all excess cash and turns it over to his creditors, minus his usual 15 percent commission.

The tighter he squeezes, the faster his commission mounts up. Recently, some of these self-declared "non-profit" firms, including Ameridebt, have been sued for not disclosing high upfront fees charged to clients.

Now the new BACCPA demands that before an individual earning under $500,000 can have access to bankruptcy court, he must hire one of these debt counselors to get him out from under. In the counselors’ defense, Abdelmasieh points out that, if conscientious, they can negotiate with the credit card company to drop late fees and lower interest rates.

Avenues out. With no direct access to bankruptcy courts and no more fresh start proviso, BACCPA seems to have the individual petitioner fairly well foiled. But there are always ways to beat the system. "Individuals can designate themselves a small business," says Abdelmasieh. "If they make under $2 million, and meet other criteria, they can move into Chapter 11 and get several benefits."

But the simplest method is to grasp the spirit of the BACCPA and take the reins of responsibility yourself. Go to the debt counselor’s initial free sessions, get copies of his budget for you and his debt consolidation plan. Then, trouser the information, nod politely, and say "No thank you."

Then return home, put yourself on that budget, contact each creditor, and work out a payment schedule. Just as you can do sit ups without a personal trainer, you can exercise fiscal health alone, without paying a 15 percent commission to a counselor.

The cash shuffle. "Businesses, both large and small, will be mostly unaffected by the BACCPA amendments," says Abdelmasieh, "with the incredible exception of the Preference Action." This action allows a corporation filing for bankruptcy to basically sue everyone to whom they have paid money for the previous 90 days. The concept is that these payments, recently handed out before actual bankruptcy is declared, would actually muddle up the process and get the proper creditors paid in the wrong order. Therefore, all recent expenditures must flow back into the Chapter 11 corporation so the reorganizing trustee can disburse them back out legally.

This ebb and flow of funds has already mired settlements beyond belief, she says. Most firms of any size have standing orders with suppliers, which, at any given time, are partially filled and partially paid on a revolving basis. The unsnarling of this Gordian mess has pushed many an accountant to tears. Also, it is common for debtors to stockpile just prior to a Chapter 11 filing. This provides the company with a load of salable assets and/or large checks coming in from preference action suits. So, while this amendment aims at fairness, the result is too often an abuse-laden morass.

Hopefully, like so many sweeping reforms of old established systems, the new BACCPA will weather its shakedown months and, if nothing else, help free up bankruptcy court calendars.

– Bart Jackson

Green Development

The New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NJ-NAIOP) hosts "High Performance Green Development: Making the Business Case" on Wednesday, November 30, at 7:30 a.m. at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Cost: $65. Call 201-998-1421 for more information.

The purpose of the seminar is to educate developers, owners, investors government officials, financiers, consultants, and anyone else involved in real estate about the benefits of green development practices that are not only vital to the environment and socially responsible but also profitable as well.

Green building is simply a logical extension of our decision-making process that results in a higher quality and more efficient, high performance building – one that produces a more valuable investment, and enhances the community as well.

Moderator for the program is Richard Vanderbeck, leasing/marketing director for Chicago-based First Industrial Realty Trust. Speakers include Jennifer Senick, associate for the Center for Energy, Economic and Environmental Policy, Bloustein School, Rutgers University, who will present an overview of Green Development and Incentives; Joshua Radoff, Principal for Denver-based Domani Sustainability Consulting, who will present Making the Business Case/Cost Benefits Analysis; Peter Z. Garver of Corporate Development Services of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and the 2005 Winner of NAIOP’s Green Development Award, who will share his success story on why his firm went green; Bob Swain, president of the Dawson Corporation of Clarksburg, who will present his perspectives on low impact site design; and Lisa Westerfield, past chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, New Jersey Chapter, who is now with Schoor DePalma, a company with seven offices in New Jersey, and will discuss Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification and trends in New Jersey.

New NJ Transit, Mini-Buses

NJ Transit has announced that 12 communities will receive 18-passenger mini-buses, leased at no charge, to operate commuter shuttles to train stations and bus corridors during peak hours. The mini-buses were awarded under NJ Transit’s Community Shuttle Program, which has improving passenger access to public transportation in New Jersey as its goal.

The Borough of Princeton and Mercer County TRADE (Transportation Resources to Aid the Disadvantaged and Elderly) are among the towns and entities receiving the buses. Funding for the vehicles was provided through Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program funds.

Two previous rounds of the program have proved that the mini-buses are a cost effective means of easing traffic congestion and improving the daily commute, said U.S. Rep. William Pascrell in a prepared statement.

The mini-buses are scheduled to arrive by late 2007. The vehicles, which cost approximately $60,000 to $65,000 each, include a wheelchair lift and two wheelchair securements, heating and air conditioning systems, reading lamps, and overhead package racks.

Once communities begin providing service, they are eligible for up to $60,000 in start-up costs for the first three years of service. During off-peak hours and on weekends, the program recipients may use the vehicles for other community-based transportation services such as senior citizen or recreational transportation.

Applicants are eligible for the program based on their ability to operate the service, access to NJ TRANSIT train stations and bus stops, opportunities to connect rail stations with work sites, and demonstration of local support. Currently, 22 towns operate community shuttles, received in the first and second rounds of the program.

The Fastest Computer in Town

Princeton University has installed one of the 100 fastest computers in the world.

"Many fields of science and technology are increasingly dependent upon high-speed and high-volume computing power," university president Shirley Tilghman was quoted as saying in a press release. "This will be a tremendous tool for many of our colleagues."

Now running at 87 Prospect, the system requires five to 10 times less electrical and cooling work than the Beowulf computer clusters the University has used to conduct similar research in the past, said Curt Hillegas, manager of Computational Science and Engineering Support.

The supercomputer also offers a more efficient way for researchers to conduct research. Since the supercomputer’s 2,048 processors interact and communicate more efficiently with each other than the processors in the clusters, it conducts calculations three times faster, allowing researchers to create models on a larger scale.

The supercomputer is one of IBM’s family of Blue Gene supercomputers. Astrophysics professor William Tang, who is also chief scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, noted that the system offers much more than speed. "It is fast, but that is not such a big, dramatic part of it," Tang said. The computer, which can connect to even larger processing units at IBM and other national labs, is "like a bridge."

"In the research here at the PPPL, we’re involved in a very aggressive quest for harnessing fusion energy to address the energy needs of the world, which is very timely right now," he said. "On the simulation side, tools like the Blue Gene are very attractive as a platform for advancing science in this area."

Though the PPPL is allowed to use the supercomputer, it is owned by the university, unlike most supercomputers in the world that are owned by or at least affiliated with national laboratories.

The purchase was funded by the Office of Information Technology, Princeton Institution for Computer Science and Engineering, and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as five faculty members from the astrophysics, chemistry, chemical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering departments, who contributed from personal research grants.

Initially, only those contributing faculty will have access to the supercomputer, but in a few months, it will be available to other researchers by application.

Tang, who is one of the contributing faculty members, noted that the list price for the supercomputer – which is in the millions – is higher than what the university paid for it.

"IBM gave us a very nice academic discount," he said.

Corporate Angels

On Wednesday, November 9, Community Options (COI) and Bristol-Myers Squibb teamed up to kick off Community Options’ inaugural program, the Days of Caring. Volunteers from the two companies spent the day working on the interior and exterior of a COI group home in Ewing.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb volunteer team repainted walls, took down wallpaper, cleaned carpets, floors and windows, raked the yard, and gave the place a general "face lift."

Community Options is a national nonprofit headquartered in Princeton that supports people with developmental disabilities through residential and employment services.

The Day of Caring program was initiated to fix up Community Options’ group homes throughout New Jersey.

The renovations for the Ewing group home were made possible because of a donation from Bristol Myers Squibb.

COI is accepting donations for its next Day of Caring. Send donations to Community Options, 16 Farber Road, Princeton 08540, attention Morgan Castagna. For more information or to volunteer contact Castagna at 609-951-9900, ext. 165, or at Morgan.Castagna@comop.org.

Staff from all levels at the Mercadien Group teamed up help raise money for CancerCare. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Mercadien Group employees participated in this fundraising event. This year’s participants included Christine Anglim, Christine Calandra, Jillian Denarksi, Michelle Everman, Ericka Falber, Gail Hudson, Jill Johnson, Kim Kelly, Stacey Leigh, Debra Lundgren, Erin Panchison, Paula Puliti, Debra Richmond, Jane Syseskey, and Diana Young. The Mercadien team raised over $3,000 and the overall walk raised over $42,000 for CancerCare.

CancerCare is the nation’s largest national nonprofit organization devoted to helping people cope with the many issues brought on by a cancer diagnosis. CancerCare provides free professional support services, including counseling, education, financial assistance, and help with the daily challenges of living with cancer. Since 1944 CancerCare has offered help to more than 2 million people with cancer, as well as their families, friends, caregivers, and health care professionals. Today the organization serves more than 80,000 people nationally each year, regardless of income, age, gender, type of cancer, or stage of disease. For more information visit www.cancercare.org or call 212-712-8327.

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