If you do not want to write out a rent check to me every month, you don’t have to. Almost every bank has a Bill Pay program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase. Go to your bank’s website, find their Bill Pay program. Instruct your bank to mail me a check on a certain day every month on a recurring basis. The money will be deducted from your account when I deposit the check. It’s really that simple. Most banks charge nothing for this service. You can change the amount of your payment or cancel Bill Pay at any time. I have been using my bank’s Bill Pay program for many years to pay recurring fixed expenses, and I have never had a problem with it or been charged a penny for the service.


A lot of people think that the recycling can marked ‘Cans and Bottles’ is the place to put unwanted plastic, but not all plastics are recyclable. The following plastic items are not recyclable. Styrofoam: ​including pellets, molded blocks, dinner plates, bowls, cups, and food packaging. All plastic cutlery: knives, forks, spoons, etc. Clamshell food containers​, no matter what kind of plastic they are made out of. Non-rigid plastic food packaging, ​like​ potato chip bags and​ any kind of​ pliable plastic packaging. Plastic 6 pack rings. Juice boxes. ​Many of these products say they are recyclable and have recycling symbols on them; however, these products are not recycled because its just not practical. For example, juice boxes are made out of layers of paper, metal foil, and plastic, all glued together. It costs too much to separate these materials, and nobody does.These products will not get recycled if you put them in your recycling can. All these products should go in your regular garbage can​ instead​.


Tenants often complain to me that their wifi is too slow or that some parts of their homes are dead zones where they can’t get a wifi signal at all. If you are frustrated by slow progress bars on your computer, before trying a solution that costs money, like buying a signal booster, try these simple solutions first.

1. Make sure your router stays cool. Heat can significantly slow down a router and shorten its life, and all routers produce heat. Don’t place a router near a heater or in a place where direct sunlight falls on it or where it is boxed in, preventing the heat produced by the router from dissipating.

2. Place your router in a central location in your home and high up in the room, above obstructions. Height is an advantage.

3. Don’t place your router next to appliances that emits electrical waves or signals, like microwave ovens or remote controlled TVs. Any electrical device that has a remote controller emits radio signals that can screw up your router’s signal to your computer.

4. Think about the physical barriers in your home that might block a signal. For example, don’t place your router on one side of a fireplace chimney or metal door when  your computer is on the opposite side. Router signals can’t go through brick walls or metal doors.

5. Turn your router off regularly and then restart it. Some router software gets slow over time, and a restart can get the bugs out. Just unplug your router, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in.

6. Update your router’s firmware. All router manufacturers update their software periodically.

7. If none of the things above solve your problem, consider a new router, especially if your router is more than 3 years old or your router’s WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) standard is 802.11b or 802.11g. They are the oldest and slowest versions and have a maximum speed of 54 Mbps (megabits per second.) Consider replacing your router with a new one with a minimum speed of 1 Gbps (gigabits per second). They sell them at Amazon and Best Buy in Emeryville.


It is a widely-held myth that America was founded on the principle of religious freedom for all. That isn’t true. 8 of the 13 British colonies in America had an official state church. Everyone who lived in those colonies had to pay taxes to support it, but people who did not belong to the official church could not hold public office or vote. Another myth is that the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to vote to everyone, regardless of his religion, but that isn’t true either. Neither the Constitution nor the First Amendment say anything about the right to vote. The Constitution allowed every state to decide for itself who was eligible to vote. Some states had laws prohibiting Roman Catholics from voting unless they renounced their religion or signed a statement rejecting papal authority. Some states required voters to promise that they would fight in future wars to prevent Quakers from voting. Some states banned Mennonites, Baptists, Jews, and others from voting. Between 1800 and 1828, all state laws restricting the right to vote based on religion were repealed.

MARYLAND. Maryland was the last state to stop discriminating against unpopular religious minorities. (Yes, once again I am trashing my home state.) In 1828, Maryland became the last state to get rid of religious restrictions on voting when the state legislature passed a law allowing Jews to vote. The Maryland state constitution still contains a provision that says that only Christians can hold public office or practice law in the state, but the U.S. Supreme Court no longer allows Maryland to enforce this provision. However, it is still in the Maryland state constitution. The Maryland state constitution also prohibits atheists from holding public office, serving as jurors, or testifying in court as witnesses, even in their own defense. Maryland enforced this provision until 1961. In 1960, Governor Tawes appointed Roy Torcaso a Notary Public. When Mr. Torcsao refused to sign a declaration saying that he believed in God, his appointment was immediately revoked. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Maryland law was unconstitutional. The court’s ruling applied to a number of other states that had similar laws. As a result, an atheist can now become a Notary Public, a bail bondsman, a coroner, a sheriff, or a juror in Maryland.


Fudgel is a word that is no longer used, but it should be. The word fudgel was widely used in England and America in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Fudgel means to pretend to be working while actually doing nothing. The word fudgel reminds me of a joke that Nikita Khrushchev used to tell. Although Khrushchev was a harsh ruler of the Soviet Union, he liked to tell jokes, and he was good at it. Khrushchev frequently told reporters a story about an inspection tour of Russian factories that he took in the 1950s. After touring a large factory, Khrushchev asked the general manager: “How many people work here?” The manager looked at the employees, thought about the question, and said: “About half of them.”


If you have Venetian blinds that are broken or that don’t open or close properly and would like them replaced, just let me know, and I will replace them at no cost to you. All the Venetian blinds in my rentals have aluminum slats. I used to buy Venetian blinds with vinyl slats, which are cheaper and last longer than aluminum slats, but many vinyl blinds have lead in the vinyl, especially vinyl blinds from East Asia, which is where most of them are made. As vinyl slats get old, sunlight and heat break down the vinyl and the lead leaches out and forms a white powdery coating on the slats. Then every time you touch the slats, you get lead on your fingers. When I found out about that, I replaced all the vinyl Venetian blinds in my rental units with aluminum ones. That was many years ago. A lot of people assume that the federal government tests building materials to make sure they don’t contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals, but unfortunately, that isn’t true. 2 years ago, I replaced all the CFL light bulbs in my rentals with LEDs. CFLs contain mercury, LEDs do not. I also replaced all the mercury-bulb wall thermostats with electronic thermostats, which are mercury-free. I tell other landlords that they should think carefully about environmental issues when buying building materials because tenants, especially in this area, care about this more than they may realize.