LEASE RENEWALS AND EXPIRATION.

If you have a lease with me that expires on May 31, you need to take action soon. Your lease requires you to give me written notice by April 1 whether you are leaving or staying for another year. (An email is not a written notice.) If some of you are leaving but some of you are staying, you need to find new roommates right away. The tenants who be replacing the ones who are leaving need to fill out application forms, meet with everyone in your group who is staying, be interviewed by me, I need to run credit checks, prepare a new lease and get it signed by everyone, and get checks – all by April 1. That is why I said that whether you are staying or leaving, you need to take some action soon. If you are leaving, but some of your roommates are staying, this concerns you too. You are co-tenants. You need to make sure that the people who are staying have new co-tenants and a new lease with me by April 1. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for the rent after you have moved out.

SILICON VALLEY LANDLORD RENTS APARTMENT TO 2 CATS.


Did you hear about this? A landlord in San Jose rented an apartment to 2 cats. See: Renting Apartment to Cats. The cats belong to a girl whose father pays the rent. High paid, high tech people in the Bay Area are famous for spending a lot of money on their pampered pets. That includes cat personal shoppers, dog bakeries, dog and cat psychiatrists, pet spas, pet party planners, and dog massage and stress relief clinics. I’ve been to Le Marcel Dog Bakery in San Francisco. The stuff they make is really beautiful but expensive. I once met a cat personal shopper. She buys and makes custom-made products for cats. Custom-made play and sleeping structures for cats can cost thousands of dollars.

REMEMBERING THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED.

King Christian X of Denmark and the Jewish Star. I have a friend here in Berkeley who was born in Denmark. I have known her for over 40 years. She is a retired U.C. Berkeley professor who grew up in Copenhagen during World War 2 when Denmark was under German occupation. She has told me several times that one of her most vivid wartime memories was seeing King Christian X riding through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse in a military uniform and wearing a yellow Jewish star on his tunic. I don’t argue with her about this, but that never happened. My friend is not the only Dane who remembers seeing this. Lots of people in Denmark remembered seeing King Christian wearing a Jewish star to protest the persecution of the Jews. A lot of Americans also remembered seeing photographs of King Christian wearing a Jewish star. I think the first time I heard this story was when I saw the movie ‘Exodus’ with Paul Newman when I was a teenager. The King Christian Jewish star story is in that movie – and in other movies as well. Now the story is partially true. King Christian X did ride through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse every day during the war and in a military uniform, but he never wore a Jewish star. This story illustrates a strange thing, collective false memory. It’s not unusual for an individual to remember something that never happened, but sometimes, hundreds or even millions of people distinctly remember something that never happened, and they all remember the same thing. Collective false memory has always fascinated me.

Casablanca. I know people who have seen the movie ‘Casablanca’ many times and who very clearly remember Humphrey Bogart saying: “Play it again Sam”, but that line is not in the movie. When people who have seen ‘Casablanca’ multiple times are asked what was the most memorable line in the movie, the Number 1 answer is always: “Play it again Sam”. The Number 2 answer is: “Drop the gun, Louie.” That line is also not in the movie.

Shazaam. This is even stranger than people’s memories of ‘Casablanca.’ Do you remember the movie ‘Shazaam’, made in the 1990s and starring the comedian Sinbad, who played a genie? A lot of people remember seeing this movie very well. Thousands of people have commented about ‘Shazaam’ and written reviews of it online. You can sometimes find DVD copies of this movie being offered for sale on Ebay. The only problem is that no such movie was ever made! So how come so many people remember seeing ‘Shazaam’? And what do you suppose people get, if anything, when they buy a DVD copy of this movie on Ebay?

The Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect refers to people who remember of the death of Nelson Mandela in prison in the 1980s. This started in 2010 when a woman shared her memories online of the day that Nelson Mandela died in prison in 1985. Very quickly, lots of other people who also remembered the death of Nelson Mandela in prison began sharing their memories of that day. Thousands of people have now posted online their memories about Mandela’s death in prison on blogs and in chat rooms. I have read some of these memories. Many people distinctly remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the shocking news that Nelson Mandela had died in prison. However, Nelson Mandela did not die in prison. He was released from prison in 1990 and was elected president of South Africa. He died at his home at age 95. Although Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013 was front page news all over the world, people are still posting their online memories of the day Nelson Mandela died in prison.

The Lindbergh Confessions. In 1932, the 1 year old son of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped. A large ransom was paid to the kidnappers, but the child was never returned. The murdered body of the infant was eventually found in a wooded area near the Lindbergh home. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby was front page news all over the world. Within days of the kidnapping, people started walking into police stations across the United States to confess to the crime. Police were astonished at the number of confessions they got and the sincerity and detail with which some of these people told their stories. Ultimately, over 200 people confessed to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. Some of these people were just publicity seekers, but most of them were ordinary people with no prior history of doing anything like this. Keep in mind that it was common knowledge that kidnapping and murder were capital crimes in New Jersey, where the Lindberghs lived. In other words, these people knew that they were confessing to a crime that was punishable by death. Most of these 200 people had never been to New Jersey, and some of them lived in foreign countries.  There were people in England, Scotland, and Germany who confessed to killing the Lindbergh baby even though they had never been to the United States or ever traveled outside their home country.Editor’s Note: In case you were wondering, Yes, a great many articles have been published in psychiatric journals about both the Mandela Effect and the Lindbergh Confessions. And Yes, I realize that this is another one of my stories that sounds so improbable that people are going to check it out to see if I made it up. – Mark.

About King Christian X of Denmark. Although he did not wear a Jewish star, King Christian X was sympathetic to the plight of the Jews. How do we know that? In 1943, King Christian was tipped off that the Nazis were about to round up all the Jews in Denmark and ship them to death camps in Germany. The king asked members of the Danish resistance to meet with him at the palace to discuss this matter. The king told the resistance that they had a moral obligation to smuggle the Jews out of the country before the Nazis nabbed them. The king promised to help them with information and cash. True to his word, the king did supply them with much of the money they needed to finance the operation, and it was an expensive operation. A lot of people had to be bribed and paid off. (Everyone in Denmark knows the story of how the Danish resistance smuggled the Jews out of the county, but strangely, I’ve never met a Dane yet who knew that King Christian personally financed the operation.) At considerable personal risk, the Danish resistance along with many private citizens transported nearly all of the Jews in Denmark to Sweden in small boats. Sweden was neutral throughout the war. Below is a photo of a Danish fishing boat taking Jews back to Denmark in 1945 after Germany surrendered. Also below is a photo of King Christian X riding through the streets of Copenhagen on his horse during the German occupation. Notice that the king is not accompanied by bodyguards or policemen. What European king would do that today?

COOKING FISH IN YOUR DISHWASHER!

A couple of years ago, a tenant called me on the phone and told me that her dishwasher smelled bad and that the bad odor was getting worse. I went over to her apartment, sniffed inside her dishwasher, and said: “Your dishwasher smells like fish. Do you know why?” She told me that she didn’t know why but that maybe – just maybe – it was because she had been cooking salmon in her dishwasher. That left me confused. She then showed me a cookbook with a recipe in it for salmon cooked in a dishwasher. This was something that I had not heard about before. I told her to stop cooking fish in her dishwasher and to run the dishwasher twice with nothing in it except dishwasher detergent. When I got home, I went online and searched ‘fish cooked in a dishwasher.’ To my surprise, I found dozens of recipes for fish cooked in a dishwasher. (No. I’m not making this up, although this story may sound just too bizarre to be true. Go to Google and check it out for yourself.)

Cooking fish in a dishwasher is a really bad idea, no matter what anybody tells you. Predictably, your dishwasher will smell like fish. Even worse, cooking fish in your dishwasher could make you very sick. The heat in your dishwasher may not be sufficient to kill parasites and dangerous microorganisms like salmonella. The temperature inside a dishwasher doesn’t get anywhere nearly as high as the temperature inside an oven. That’s why there are plastic parts inside your dishwasher, but there are no plastic parts inside your oven. I also found recipes online for chicken, turkey, eggs, lobster, and lasagna cooked in a dishwasher. You should never cook food in your dishwasher. It isn’t designed for that. (Yes, everyone knows that you have to be very smart to get into U.C. Berkeley, but unfortunately, the SAT doesn’t have any questions on it like: “Should you cook fish in your oven or your dishwasher?”)

I can’t figure out why anybody would want to cook fish in a dishwasher. If an apartment has a dishwasher, it also has a stove. There are lots of apartments that have a stove but no dishwasher, but I’ve never seen an apartment that had a dishwasher but no stove. Take a look at the photo below. I copied this photo from a recipe for salmon cooked in a dishwasher on the Realtor.com web site. It seems to me that they should know better than to recommend something like this. Look at this photo and ask yourself – What sort of person would look at this picture and not immediately know that there is something wrong – very wrong – with this?

THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T PUT IN YOUR DISHWASHER.

People put the strangest things into their dishwashers. I once had a tenant who ruined an expensive pair of hiking boots by washing them in his dishwasher. Here is a list of things that you should never put in your dishwasher.

Wooden items. The water and heat inside a dishwasher can warp and crack wooden items, like salad bowls, cutting boards, and utensils with wood handles, like steak knives.

Cast iron cookware. Seasoning prevents cast iron cookware from rusting, but a dishwasher will remove it.

Non-stick cookware. Most non-stick coatings do not hold up well in the dishwasher.

Aluminum cookware. Aluminum pots and pans can oxidize in a dishwasher and turn dull or even black.

Insulated mugs. The heat of a dishwasher can damage the vacuum seal between the inner and out walls. Once that happens, the mug will lose its ability to retain heat.

Sharp knives. They will lose their edge.

Dishes with big pieces of food on them. You don’t have to rinse dishes before loading them in your dishwasher, but you should scrape food off of them first.

Crocs. It might seem that the easiest way to clean Crocs and other rubbery footwear is to put them in the dishwasher, but the heat in a dishwasher can shrink and warp them.

Computer keyboards. Yes, people have done this. I know how hard it is to clean a computer keyboard and get the dust and dirt off the sides of the keys, but you will ruin your keyboard if you put it in a dishwasher.

DONALD TRUMP IS JUST PLAIN WRONG ABOUT CALIFORNIA FOREST FIRES.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut off FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funds for California firefighters. Trump claims that California’s forest fires are the result of poor forest management by the state. In January, Trump tweeted: “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest (sic) fires that, with proper Forrest (sic) Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!”

There are 2 big problems with Donald Trump’s argument.

1. Most really big forest fires in California start on Federal land, not land owned by the state of California. That’s not surprising since the Federal government owns 48% of all the land in California, including most of the forest land in the state. For example, this past summer’s Carr Fire started in a recreation area owned by the United States Forest Service. The fire then moved onto private land and then into the city of Redding itself, where the fire destroyed over 1,000 houses. The most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California’s history was this past summer’s Camp Fire, which also started on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service. It was the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018. A long list of Federal agencies own big chunks of California real estate in addition to the Forest Service, including the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All of these agencies are under the direct control of President Trump. While it is true that forests in California have been and are being badly managed, most of these forests are under the control of the president of the United States, not the governor of California.

2. Climate change and global warming are major factors in California’s forest fires. Over the past 100 years, the average temperature in California has risen by 3 degrees. In addition, the average annual rainfall in California has fallen. This warmer, drier air sucks water out of plants and the soil, leaving trees and grass drier than they used to be. The California fire season used to be late summer, but now, it is nearly all year round. California used to get some rain in late October that wet things down, but now, the rain doesn’t come until November or December. Global warming is not a controversial theory within the scientific community, but unfortunately, President Trump and most of the people in his cabinet believe that it is.

Sonny Perdue. The U.S. Forest Service is under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Perdue believes that global warming is a hoax. He calls global warming “junk science” and “a running joke.” Perdue is also one of the neo-Confederates in Trump’s cabinet. For as long as I can remember, neo-Confederates have always frustrated me. I grew up in Maryland, which was a slave state until the end of the Civil War. When Perdue talks about slavery and the Civil War, he sounds like the pro-Confederate schoolteachers I had when I was a kid. When Perdue was governor of Georgia, he tried to put the Confederate battle flag back into the Georgia state flag, and he made April ‘Confederate Heritage Month’. Perdue believes that most slaves supported the Confederacy and that large numbers of them fought for the Confederacy too. Perdue’s claim that there was widespread support for the Confederacy among the slaves has come under a lot of criticism from historians, just as his speeches on global warming have come under a lot of criticism from climate scientists. When I was living in Maryland, I knew white people who shared Sonny Perdue’s belief that black people didn’t mind being slaves and that during the Civil War, their sympathies were with their owners and the Confederacy, just like in ‘Gone With The Wind’; however, I have never met a black person in my life who shared that view.

MOLD MYTHS.

It’s mold season in the San Francisco bay area. In winter, we get the ideal conditions for mold: rain, high humidity, cold, and overcast skies. There are a lot of myths about mold. Here are the myths that I hear most often.
 
Black mold is toxic. I don’t know how many times I have heard this one, but it isn’t true. Admittedly, black mold looks scarier than lighter colored mold, but there is absolutely no way to tell if mold is a health hazard based on its color.
 
Mold needs to be tested. Testing mold is virtually useless. Mold testing gives you an idea of the amount and type of mold you have, but that really isn’t important. There are over 100,000 types of mold, and there are no safety standards for mold levels, so testing doesn’t give you much useful information. All mold should be removed regardless of type.
 
The best product for killing mold is bleach. That isn’t true. Bleach will kill mold, but it’s not very effective, and it’s hard on your lungs when used in a confined space like a bathroom. Bleach can also damage your walls, clothes, and bath linen. Tilex and Lysol mold remover are far more effective than bleach in removing mold, and they will keep mold from returning longer than bleach. If you want a bottle of mold remover, you can pick one up free in my chocolate room. My grandmother believed that medicine had to taste bad in order to work, but as any doctor can tell you, that isn’t true. The same thing applies to bleach. Just because bleach smells a lot more unpleasant than mold remover doesn’t mean that it is more effective.
 
Listerine. Have you ever tasted Listerine mouthwash? It tastes awful. Nobody likes the taste of it, and that’s intentional. It’s part of the company’s marketing strategy. A lot of people believe that because Listerine tastes terrible that it is more effective in killing germs than pleasant tasting mouthwash. Listerine makes a pleasant tasting mouthwash, Cool Mint Listerine, but it doesn’t sell anywhere nearly as well as the bad tasting stuff.
 
Ramsdell’s Sulphur Cream. When I was a boy, my father used to regularly and vigorously rub Ramsdell’s Sulphur Cream into my hair and scalp. I had dandruff. There were other products on the market for the treatment of dandruff, but Ramsdell’s Sulphur Cream smelled like rotten eggs, which is why my father bought it. He believed that something that smelled that awful had to more effective than products that were odorless or had a pleasant smell to them. Ramsdell’s Sulphur Cream was a waste of time and money.  It had absolutely no effect on my dandruff. My dandruff went away by itself when I became a teenager. On school days, I would wait for my father to leave the house to go to work and then go to the bathroom and wash the sulfur cream out of my hair. I didn’t want to go to school with hair that smelled like rotten eggs. That was one of my many boyhood secrets that I never told anyone about. They still make sulfur cream for the treatment of dandruff, and people still buy it for the same reason my father did – it smells so awful that people assume it must be good stuff.
 
Sulphur vs. sulfur. When I was a kid, sulfur was usually spelled ‘sulphur’, but not anymore, at least in the U.S. They still spell it ‘sulphur’ in England. The spelling of a lot of words has changed in my lifetime. Halloween used to have an apostrophe in it. We used to spell it Hallowe’en when I was a kid. I still don’t know if barbecue or barbeque is the right spelling. A lot of restaurants put ‘BBQ’ on their outdoor signs, which should stand for barbeque, with a ‘q’, but on their menus they spell it ‘barbecue.’ My sister once said to me: “If you are worrying about things like this, you have too much time on your hands.”
 
But I digress. (I do that a lot)….About mold…The most important thing to remember about mold is that mold lives on humidity. Moisture is essential for mold. Almost all the reports that I get about mold are in bathrooms. Work on keeping the humidity in your bathroom down in winter. Leave your bathroom door open after a steamy shower. If its a cold day, close the door to the bathroom and open the window or turn on the exhaust fan if you have one. Don’t leave wet clothes or really wet towels in the bathroom. All of my units have free-operation clothes dryers, why not use it to dry out your wet towels?
 
Also read my previous article about: Mold.

HALF PRICE SALE ON MISSPELLED U.C. BERKELEY MERCHANDISE.

This morning, I went into a big store on Shattuck Avenue downtown that just sells licensed U.C. Berkeley merchandise. Next to the cash register was a table advertising half-off on all misspelled U.C. Berkeley merchandise. That caught my eye. At first, I thought this was a joke, but it wasn’t. I looked at the stuff in the display rack, and sure enough, everything was misspelled! See the photo below. The most surprising thing about this stuff is that it was all licensed by the university! This store doesn’t sell unlicensed knockoffs. However, even at half price, is this stuff really a bargain? Would you really want to walk around campus wearing a t-shirt that says ‘U.C. BERKLEY’ on it?
 
Johns Hopkins. At the Ashby BART flea market, there is a vendor that sells unlicensed baseball caps with ‘John Hopkins’ embroidered on them. I’m from Baltimore, and in Baltimore, spelling Johns Hopkins ‘John Hopkins’ is a very big No-No.
 
Miami University. I also saw a t-shirt for sale at the Ashby flea market with the Miami University logo on it, with a palm tree on one side of the logo and an alligator on the other side. Miami University is located in Ohio just north of Cincinnati. Although I’ve never been there, I am pretty sure that there are no palm trees in Cincinnati. Miami University is often confused with the University of Miami, which is in Florida, where they have lots of palm trees and alligators. They have alligators in Cincinnati too, but they are all in the city zoo, unlike southern Florida; where people often find alligators in their swimming pools. I don’t believe people find alligators in their swimming pools in Cincinnati. (I’ll have to confirm that with my relatives in Cincinnati.)

MY CHRISTMAS GIFT TABLE IS NOW OPEN!

Come on over and pick up a gift from my Christmas gift table. It’s first come, first served, so I recommend that you come sooner than later. The best stuff get taken first of course.
 
LAUNDROID.
 
I saw a Laundroid at a recent landlord convention. The salesman said: ‘All your tenants will want a Laundroid!’ I have no doubt that he was right about that; however, you aren’t going to see a Laundroid at my Christmas gift table. A Laundroid is a clothes folding machine. It works this way. You take your clothes out of the dryer and put them in a Laundroid. Using artificial intelligence, the machine figures out what each item of clothing is, folds it, and puts it in a neat pile with other clothes of the same type – shirts in one pile, pants in another pile, etc. It folds everything except socks. Apparently, folding socks is too complicated for the machine to figure out. A Laundroid is quite large, about the size of a stacking washer and dryer; however, that isn’t the reason I’m not putting a Laundroid on my Christmas gift table. It’s the price. A Laundroid is $16,000. So sorry, I know rent in Berkeley is high, put you are going to have to continue to fold your own clothes until the price and size of this machine comes down – a lot. Laundroid video.
 
GIFT CARDS.
 
If you get gift cards this Christmas, remember that gift cards do not improve with age, like fine Spanish sherry. If you have gift cards from troubled retailers or restaurant chains, you should spend them as soon as possible. Once a company goes bankrupt, its gift cards can become worthless overnight. Americans are holding onto millions of useless gift cards from bankrupt retailers. When Toys R Us declared bankruptcy and closed all its stores, their gift cards became worthless. Even though Toys R Us stores remained open for months after they declared bankruptcy to hold inventory liquidation sales, they would not allow customers to pay for stuff with Toys R Us gift cards. Now, what about Sears? Sears declared bankruptcy last month. For the time being, Sears continues to honor their gift cards, but if the company is forced to liquidate, Sears gift cards could become impossible to redeem. Sears is the parent company of K-Mart, which is also in serious financial trouble. I wouldn’t hold onto K-Mart gift cards either. My advice is to spend gift cards from financially troubled companies as soon as you can and for whatever you can get.