Every kitchen should have an ABC (dry chemical) fire extinguisher with a visible pressure gauge. I put them in all my rental units, usually under the kitchen sink. If your fire extinguisher is missing or if the pressure is low, see me and get a replacement. You can pick up a new one in my chocolate room. All fire extinguishers lose pressure over time. Check the pointer on the pressure gauge. See the picture below. If the pointer is in the red zone, it is time to replace your fire extinguisher. Do you know where your fire extinguisher is? If you can’t find your fire extinguisher or if the pressure is gone, it is useless to you in an emergency. Remember, every year, 1 out of 8 homes in the U.S. has a kitchen cooking fire.
Disney World is much, much bigger than Disneyland in California, but I think Disneyland beats Disney World hands down. It’s the climate. When Walt Disney bought the land that became Disney World, it was a tropical swamp, which is why Disney got the land cheap and why it wasn’t already developed or being used by others. Walt Disney dramatically reshaped the land, but he couldn’t do a thing about the climate. In summer, the high season at Disney World, it is hot and muggy, and it rains 20 days a month. In July, the humidity often exceeds 90%. In other words, climatically, it is still a tropical swamp. Disney World is also expensive. I know families that visited Disney World in summer and spent $10,000 for a week there, and it rained every day. When it stops raining, it doesn’t dry out. Someone who went to Disney World last summer said to me: “When you leave your hotel, it feels like you are walking into a sauna.” On the other hand, at Disneyland in L.A., it never rains in the summer.
Alligators! Take a look at the photo below. There are alligator warning signs like this all over Disney World. These signs are there because they need them. Disney employees have captured hundreds – literally hundreds – of alligators at Disney World, some weighing several hundred pounds. Guests at Disney World hotels frequently report seeing alligators. You may recall that a couple of years ago a 2-year old child was killed by an alligator at Disney World. After that, Disney put up more warning signs, but there is no way to rid of the alligators. I’m sure that Disney would if they could, but they can’t. That is because it is impossible to get rid of alligators in an ideal alligator habitat like the land inside and around Disney World. The American alligator has been living in Florida for over 100 million years. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs and most other animals 65 million years ago failed to wipe out any of the 20 or so species of alligators and crocodiles that were alive at that time. Most are alive today and virtually unchanged. That is how tough these critters are. Today, there are over 1 million alligators in Florida. Think about that – 1 million alligators just in Florida. And what about Disneyland in California? There are no alligator warning signs at Disneyland. They don’t need them. If you are in Los Angeles and you want to see an alligator, you have to go to the zoo. In California, we think that’s where alligators belong!
Bad recycling habits have consequences. Putting things in your recycling can that can’t actually be recycled can contaminate everything else in the can. This contamination is the main reason why countries that used to take America’s trash for recycling – China, India, and the Philippines – have stopped taking it. Here are some common items that you shouldn’t put in your recycling can.
- Padded shipping envelopes. Millions of padded envelopes are shipped every day, mainly from internet retailers. Most
padded envelopes are made out of mixed materials glued together, paper
on the outside and plastic bubble wrap inside. These envelopes should go
in your regular trash can. Like a
lot of other products, padded shipping envelopes are theoretically
recyclable, but from a practical standpoint, they actually aren’t.
- Mixed materials glued together. Coffee
bags, like shipping envelopes, are made from mixed materials, paper on
the outside and plastic inside. Cardboard boxes with metallic foil glued
on the outside is also not recyclable. See photo below.
- Plastic bags and shrink wrap. They
are not recyclable, and they screw up the machinery at recycling
facilities. Shiny plastic bags, like the bags that potato chips come in,
are also not recyclable.
- Anything that can tangle around other things. This includes rope, wire, garden hoses, netting, gift wrap ribbon, and clothes hangers. Even if these things are made out of recyclable materials, put them in your trash can. They create a lot of problems at recycling facilities.
- Anything with food still in it. A
pizza box with the crusts inside or cheese stuck to the box is not
recyclable. The same goes for cans and jars with food still inside them.
Recycling centers don’t want the mice, rats, bugs, and mold that come
with these items.
- Toothpaste tubes. These are also made with mixed materials.
- Styrofoam. Shipping peanuts, molded foam packaging, and foam coffee cups and plates should all go in the trash can.
- Batteries. You can get a fine in California for putting batteries of any kind in your trash or recycling cans.
- Sharps. Don’t put sharp things in your recycling cans. They could injure the people handling it at recycling centers, things like broken glass or ceramics, nails, razor blades, and sharp can lids.
I know quite a few vegans. Their numbers seem to be growing, but I’m not one of them. I believe that if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them so delicious. To me, there is no question that a real hamburger is much tastier than a tofuburger. Nevertheless, I always keep a few vegan items in my chocolate room. My favorite vegan item is my dark chocolate orange slices. Last month I went to a dinner party. I knew that 2 of the people who were coming to the dinner are vegans, so I brought 2 chocolate bars that I made just for them, semisweet chocolate with toasted almonds However, this couple refused to take them, saying that almonds are not vegan. I thought about that for a moment and said: “Why aren’t almonds vegan?” They said that all almonds require honey bees for pollination. No bees means no almonds. I already knew that. I told them: “But you aren’t eating the bees. You are eating the almonds.” The husband pulled up a web site ‘Almonds Are Not Vegan’ on his cell phone and told me to read it. According to this web site, vegans shouldn’t eat almonds because the bees that pollinate almond trees are “exploited” and are “not paid for their labor.” I don’t know how an almond farmer would go about paying bees for their labor. I also don’t know what bees would do with paychecks if they got them. It isn’t just almonds that are dependent on honey bees for pollination. Without honey bees, we wouldn’t have any tree fruits or nuts; including apples, pears, cherries, oranges, avocados, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, etc. All of the vegans who I know personally eat tree fruits and nuts, so this doesn’t seem to be a universally accepted definition of the word ‘vegan.’ I intend to continue to put almonds and other nuts in my chocolate bars and without paying the bees. Here’s that web site: Almonds Are Not Vegan.
Before I answer my phone, I always check my Caller I.D. screen first. If my Caller I.D. does not identify the caller or says that the call is from ‘Private Caller’, ‘Unknown Name’, ‘Blocked Number’, ‘Unavailable’, ‘Toll Free Number’, ‘Out of Area’, etc.; I will not answer the call. If you are calling me from a telephone that does not identify you or if you have Caller I.D. blocking, just leave a message on my voice mail. Do not hang up and call me back later. That won’t do any good. I check my messages frequently, and I will reply to legitimate voice mail messages. I am sorry if this seems rude, but I get a lot of robocalls and calls from scammers, and this is the only way I can control the problem.
You should do the same thing that I do about this. When you answer a robocall, you are telling the computer that called you 2 things: 1. Your phone number is active and 2. You answer robocalls. Doing that just gets your name put on sucker lists, and crooks sell their sucker lists to other crooks!
I recently bought a TV and DVD player and needed a couple of HDMI cables to connect everything. I thought that I would buy them locally, but at the Staples and Verizon stores in downtown Berkeley, HDMI cables were priced at $20 to $50 each. That’s ridiculous! I went online and bought them from Monoprice. They sell HDMI cables for around $3. Their customer reviews are almost 100% positive. Monoprice is a major player in this business. It is where professional entertainment system installers get their cables. Check out their web site. They sell a lot of other stuff cheap too: chargers, converters, hubs, splitters, etc. I got some extra HDMI and USB cables from them, so if you need 1 or 2, see me, and I’ll give them to you.
Cashing In On Cables. The profit margin on cables is enormous. There are a lot of stores that sell home entertainment systems and intentionally lose money on everything they sell – except the cables. These stores make all their profit on cables, installation, and service contracts. The profit margin on TVs is very small, but the profit margin on cables can be enormous, and home entertainment systems have lots of cables. It is easy to understand how these stores make money. They sell you a TV at their cost but bill you $40 for cables that cost them $4. People pay close attention to the price of TVs, but not to the other charges. That is something that never changes. My father sold televisions back in the 1950s and 1960s. He didn’t make money on the TVs themselves. He made his profit on the related charges: the delivery charge (in those days, TVs came in big wooden cabinets), the installation charge (plugging in the TV and turning it on), the rabbit ears (the antenna that sat on top of the TV), and the interest (everything my father sold was on credit.) If someone had come into my father’s store, bought a TV, paid for it in cash and took it home with him, my father wouldn’t have made money on that sale. None of his customers did that though.
A ticket for illegal parking within 10 blocks of Cal stadium on football game days will now cost $225. These tickets used to cost $98, but I think this big increase is understandable. Cal students who live near the stadium have been charging people $100 to park in their driveways and on their lawns on game days. A lot of people coming to Cal games have been intentionally parking illegally on the street in 1-hour zones and at meters that they know will expire long before they return to their cars. They figure that a $98 parking ticket costs about the same as parking in somebody’s driveway, so why not? That’s why I say this big increase is understandable. Parking tickets should discourage illegal parking.
The Fraternities. My guess is that this big increase in the cost of game day parking tickets will have the full support of Berkeley’s fraternities. All of Berkeley’s frat houses are within a few blocks of the stadium. On the night before football games, the guys in the frat houses park their cars on streets outside the restricted zone. Then on game day they charge $100 to park at their frat houses, and some of the frat houses have a lot of parking spaces. Now that illegal street parking is going to cost $225, the fraternities will be able to charge more than $100 to park on game days, perhaps a lot more.
San Francisco recently passed a law banning cashless stores. From now on, Amazon To Go stores will have to accept cash. The argument for this law is that poor people don’t have credit cards or cell phones and so cannot shop in these stores. The argument for these stores is that cashless stores can charge lower prices because they have no cashiers and that they safer places to work for the employees, especially at night, because these places all have surveillance cameras and there is no cash to rob. Oakland is in the process of passing a similar law. I have been wondering if Berkeley is going to pass a law like this next. There are no cashless stores in Berkeley, but that probably won’t figure into the debate at the city council on this. Berkeley has lots of laws regulating businesses that don’t exist in Berkeley, like gun stores and slaughterhouses.
Cashless Society. Personally, I think banning cashless stores is just fighting the inevitable. Industrialized nations everywhere are moving to cashless economies, and that has been going on for generations. 100 years ago, there were no credit cards, and most people didn’t have checkbooks. When I first became a landlord, a lot of tenants paid their rent in cash. Now, every landlord I know has a clause in his leases requiring tenants to pay their rent by check, money order, or electronic transfer. There are lots of things that used to require cash but don’t anymore, like taxicabs and parking meters. I know several people who keep no cash in their wallets and not because they are poor. Although the San Francisco bay area is the world center of high technology business, we seem to elect a lot of Luddites here, politicians who are hostile to and fight new technology, the very businesses that have made them and their cities rich.
‘The Finland Hoax’ I recently met a young man at a barbecue who said he wanted to talk to me privately. He said that he heard that I am a Berkeley landlord and told me that he is looking for an apartment for the Fall. After we talked for a while, I asked him about his t-shirt which said: ‘Finland Is A Hoax.’ I said: “What does that mean?” He said: “Finland doesn’t exist. It’s a hoax.” I was confused. I have heard a lot of conspiracy theories before, I had not heard this one. I told this guy that I know people who have been to Finland. He said that those people were probably ‘part of the Finland hoax.’ After the barbecue, I checked out his story on Google. It seems that a lot of people believe that Finland doesn’t exist. There are even maps on Google and Wikipedia of the Baltic without Finland. These maps show the area between Sweden and Russia as just open sea. I never argue with people who are into conspiracy theories. If you tell them that they are wrong, they assume that means that you are part of the conspiracy, and then they become suspicious, hostile, and sometimes even violent. The conspiracy theory that I have heard most often in my life is that the Holocaust is a hoax concocted by Jews in order to get sympathy and support for the state of Israel. I told this guy that I don’t have any vacancies coming up, which is true.
Berkeley and Finland. Did you know that at one time, Berkeley had a large Finnish population? Beginning around 1900, hundreds of Finns settled in the Ocean View section of west Berkeley, which in the 1920s was known as ‘Finntown.’ The Finnish stores, saloons, and restaurants that used to dot west Berkeley are now all gone, but there are several Lutheran churches in Ocean View that were built by Finnish immigrants and that are still in use. In addition, there are 2 Finn halls in west Berkeley. One hall was built by Finnish communists. The other was built by Finnish anti-communists. Both halls are also still in use. Some businesses in west Berkeley that were started by Finnish immigrants are still operating, like Walter Mork Sheet Metal. When I first came to Berkeley, the Berkeley Adult School was still giving Finnish language courses, but that’s gone now too.
Volodymyr Zelensky was just elected president of Ukraine. He is not a politician and has never held political office before. He is a Jewish comedian. He is famous in Ukraine for playing the role of a fictional president of Ukraine in a TV series. When I heard that Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine, and in a landslide, I wondered what my grandparents, Bores and Pauline Tarses would have thought of this. My grandparents left Odessa in 1905 heading for the United States. Odessa is a major city in Ukraine on the Black Sea. My grandparents had thought about moving to the United States for a long time, but 2 things happened in 1905 that pushed them into doing it. First, my grandfather was drafted into the czar’s army – again – and was ordered to go to Siberia to fight the Japanese. Russia was at war with Japan. Second, there was the pogrom. In 1905, there was a pogrom in Odessa that resulted in thousands of Jews being beaten, stabbed, and shot in the streets. The police participated in these attacks and gave weapons to the mob. Below is a photo from the 1905 Odessa pogrom. It is a photo of Jews looking over the bodies of murdered Jews, trying to find their relatives so they could bury them. You can find other photos of the 1905 Odessa pogrom on Google Images. You will notice that in this photo all of the dead Jews are barefoot. During pogroms, it was normal for the czar’s police to allow the murderers of Jews to strip their victim’s corpses of all their valuables. Odessa was not the only city in Ukraine where pogroms took place. They took place all over Ukraine, and they went on for centuries. So – I wonder – what would my grandparents have thought of a Jewish comedian being elected president of Ukraine and getting 75% of the votes? I don’t think they would have believed it possible.