Volodymyr Zelensky, president-elect of Ukraine

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.

´╗┐THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER PUT IN A DISHWASHER.

In March, I wrote about a tenant of mine who complained about a bad smell in her dishwasher, and when I went over to her apartment to investigate, I discovered that she had been cooking fish in her dishwasher. I later found out that she was also making grilled cheese sandwiches with a clothes iron. I asked her if her stove was working OK, and she said it was, but she said she didn’t like to cook food on the stove. She preferred to cook food with household appliances, but I never found out why. So – maybe it is time that I listed some of the things that people put in their dishwashers but shouldn’t.

Food. Don’t cook food in your dishwasher. There are a lot of recipes online for food you can cook in a dishwasher, but you can get sick eating food that you cooked in a dishwasher. The temperature inside a dishwasher may not get hot enough to kill microorganisms like salmonella. Use your stove to cook food.
Sharp knives. Always hand wash sharp knives, cheese graters, slicers, and anything else that has an edge to it. They can become dull or nicked in your dishwasher.
Wooden items. Wood salad bowls, cutting boards, and utensils with wooden handles should be hand washed. The wood can crack and warp in a dishwasher.
Cast-iron cookware. Washing cast-iron cookware in a dishwasher strips off the baked-on oil and seasoning that gives cast-iron cookware a slick surface and prevents rusting and food from sticking.
Computer keyboards. Yes, it is hard to clean a computer keyboard, but if you put in your dishwasher, water will get inside the keyboard and probably ruin it.
Footwear. It may seem like the easiest way to clean waterproof footwear like Crocs and flip-flops is by putting them in the dishwasher, but the heat in your dishwasher can warp and shrink footwear and make it brittle.
Delicate clothing. Some clothing items, like wool sweaters, silk scarves, and bras say on them that you shouldn’t put them in a washing machine or clothes dryer. That doesn’t mean that is safe to put them in a dishwasher instead.
Insulated mugs. Water and heat can damage the vacuum seal between the inside and outside layers of the mug. Once the vacuum seal is broken and water gets inside, the mug will permanently lose its ability to retain heat or cold.
Dishwashing liquid. Never put dishwashing liquid in a dishwasher! Only use dishwasher detergent. Dishwashing liquid is designed to make lots of bubbles. Dishwasher detergent is not. If you put dishwashing liquid in your dishwasher, your kitchen could be flooded with bubbles. Even if that doesn’t happen, your dishes will likely be left covered with a sticky soapy film.
Non-stick pans. Washing non-stick cookware in your dishwasher will shorten the life of the non-stick coating.
Electric appliances. (This is the most dangerous!) A lot of people put small electric appliances in their dishwashers, things like coffee makers, blenders, hair dryers, and popcorn makers. You should never use an electric appliance that has been in a dishwasher. Toss it out! Put it in your garbage can before you get electrocuted!

What was the strangest thing that a tenant of mine put in his dishwasher? Well, I once had a tenant who put an expensive North Face tent in his dishwasher. The heat from the dishwasher shrank the fabric so much that it would no longer fit on the tent poles. He also put his hiking boots in the dishwasher. They were also ruined. He expected me to buy him a new tent and hiking boots. Predictably, he blamed the dishwasher. I refused to pay him, which surprised him, but not his roommates.


´╗┐LANDLORDS DO NOT HAVE X-RAY VISION LIKE SUPERMAN.

Once a year, I conduct a safety inspection of my Berkeley rentals and fill out a form, Schedule A, as required by the city of Berkeley. Below is an article that I recently wrote for the Berkeley landlord association newsletter regarding this form:

When I fill out the Berkeley Rental Housing Safety Inspection Program Schedule A, I would like to answer several questions with: “I don’t know. In order to answer this question, I would need the ability to see through walls, and I can’t do that.” There are a number of questions on Schedule A like that. For example, one question asks landlords if the wiring inside the walls of an apartment is greater (thicker) than 14 gauge. Well, undersized wiring is dangerous, but without the ability to see through walls, I have no way of knowing if there are undersized wires inside the walls of my rentals. I have good vision, but I can’t through walls. There are several other questions on this form like that. There is a question in the plumbing section that asks landlords if there are any vent pipes that terminate inside the walls of an apartment. Well, vent pipes that terminate inside walls is quite common in older buildings, and it can be dangerous, but without the ability to see through walls, I have no way of knowing for sure where the vent pipes go. I could guess, but the city isn’t asking me for my best guess. This form gives landlords only 2 ways of answering questions. A landlord can answer the questions with either ‘verified’ or ‘not applicable.’ There is no place on this form for landlords to answer questions with ‘don’t know’ or ‘unable to determine.’ Now before you laugh at this, remember – we landlords have to answer these questions and sign this form under penalty of perjury! I attended the meetings at which this form was originally put together, and I raised this issue then, but I was ignored. I keep hoping that someday the city of Berkeley will revise this form and eliminate questions that require landlords to have x-ray vision in order to answer them, but that never happens. It never seems to occur to the people who run this program that landlords cannot see through walls like Superman.