If you are renting a house or apartment from me, you will find a rosemary bush somewhere in your yard – and a big one too! I like rosemary. We have the ideal climate in the San Francisco bay area for growing rosemary. Rosemary stays green and harvestable all year long, even during the dry summer months. Rosemary is an underused herb. It has a warm, piney flavor that is particularly good with lamb, beef, and chicken. Its OK to use dried rosemary in dishes that are cooked for a long time with moist heat, like soups and stews, but because dried rosemary takes a long time to rehydrate, you should use fresh rosemary for most other things, like salad dressings and marinates.

Rosemary Olive Oil. If you would like to give somebody an attractive gift from your kitchen, try rosemary olive oil. Always use fresh-cut rosemary to make this. Cut a few small springs off the rosemary bush. Wash and thoroughly dry the sprigs. Place the springs in a clear glass bottle or jar and fill with olive oil. That’s all there is to it! It’s that simple! Rosemary olive oil looks nice and tastes good too. What could b easier? You can also make rosemary vinegar the same way. Store it in a cool place or the refrigerator and use within a month. They sell attractive kitchen bottles and jars at Ikea that are suitable for this. Considering how easy this is to make, it is surprising how expensive rosemary olive oil is in gourmet food stores.

Hebrew Tattoos.

Tattoos in Hebrew have become very popular. I see them everywhere. Unfortunately, very few tattoo artists can actually read or write Hebrew, and this has led to a lot of misspelled and mistranslated Hebrew tattoos. Below is a tattoo on the arm of a man in Bentonville, Arkansas. He thought his tattoo meant ‘strength’ in Hebrew. It actually says ‘matzo.’ He had this tattoo on his arm for years before he found out the true meaning after he met a real Jew for the first time in his life, who translated it for him. The other picture is that of a more commonly misspelled Hebrew tattoo. The tattoo artist made a small mistake in the shape of one of the letters. This tattoo is supposed to be the name of God in Hebrew. Instead it says: ‘He shall be pregnant.’ This is not an isolated case. It appears that there are many other people in the United States, mostly fundamentalist Christians, with tattoos on them that say ‘He shall be pregnant”. Misspelled Hebrew tattoos have been seen all over the U.S. There are several web sites that just show pictures of misspelled Hebrew tattoos. Here is one of these web sites. Bad Hebrew Tattoos.

Jews and Tattoos. The Bible prohibits Jews from getting tattoos. In the Book of Leviticus it says: “You must not put tattoo markings upon yourself.” This line was part of a larger prohibition against idolatry. At the time the Old Testament was written, it was a common practice in the Middle East for people to tattoo the names and images of their gods on their bodies. Up until World War 2, it was generally only the orthodox Jews who took the Biblical prohibition on tattoos seriously, but after the war, tattoos became a taboo for Jews everywhere. Immediately upon entering Nazi concentration camps, Jews were tattooed with numbers on their arms. After the war, tattoos became an unpleasant and unwanted reminder of the Holocaust for Jews. Today, it is virtually impossible to find a tattoo artist who is Jewish or who can actually read Hebrew.

More Gems From My History Students.

I collect gems of bad writing from my history students. Here are some goodies from my students’ homework of long ago.

“Napoleon Bonaparte was as short as he was tall. That’s called a Napoleon complex.”

“The first time John F. Kennedy was assassinated was in Dallas, Texas. The second time was in Washington, D.C.”

“Joan of Arc defeated the English in the Hundred Years War. Even after the English burned her at the stake, Joan would not give up and continued to fight the English until they left France.”

“King Louis XIV raised taxes in France sky high, filling his coiffures with gold.”

“Coluche the clown ran for president of France. Coluche was world famous, but only in France.”

“We took a tour of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The tour guide was a French priest who spoke English surprisingly well considering how short he was.”

Alexander the Great was needed back in Greece, but he was in Persia, and he couldn’t be in 2 places at the same time. Only Roman generals could do that.”

“During the Gold Rush, wagon trains heading for California went right through Salt Lake City, where the miners stopped to buy salt water taffy from the Mormons.”

“Christopher Columbus is buried in Spain and the Dominican Republic.”

Where Is Christopher Columbus Buried?

Christopher Columbus really is buried in Spain and the Dominican Republic. At least that’s what I tell my students. He may also be buried in Cuba. Christopher Columbus was initially buried in Spain, but his body was dug up and reburied so many times that historians don’t know where it is. His body was dug up and reburied once in Spain before being dug up again and shipped to the Dominican Republic and reburied there. In 1795, France took over the island of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located. The Spanish dug up what they believed to be Columbus’ bones and shipped them to Havana, Cuba for yet another reburial; however, we are not sure they got the right bones. When Spain lost the Spanish-American War in 1898, they dug up the bones yet again and shipped them back to Spain. Today, there is a magnificent tomb of Christopher Columbus in the Seville Cathedral in Spain, but there is another equally magnificent tomb of Christopher Columbus in a cathedral in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Both countries have documents to support their claims that they have Christopher Columbus’ remains. In addition, there is a marked grave in a cemetery in Havana where the Cuban government claims that Christopher Columbus is buried. It is highly unlikely that we will ever know for sure where Christopher Columbus is actually buried. This is a touchy subject in all the countries that claim to have Columbus’ bones.

About Salt Lake City and Salt Water Taffy.

About salt water taffy. As you know, I make candy. Most people assume that salt water taffy is made with salt water (seawater), but that isn’t true. The name of this candy is a misnomer. There is no salt water in salt water taffy. The principle ingredients in salt water taffy are sugar, cornstarch, and corn syrup. Salt water taffy got its name because most of the places that make this candy are located at seaside resorts, including Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Cape Cod. If you want to see salt water taffy being made from scratch, go to Marini’s Candies at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. They have been making this stuff there for over 100 years.

About Salt Lake City and salt water taffy. It is obvious why people mentally associate salt water taffy with Salt Lake City. Salt water taffy is the top selling souvenir at Brigham Young University’s campus store and at tourist hotel gift shops all over the area. Not only do they sell a lot of salt water taffy in Salt Lake City; they also make a lot of salt water taffy in Salt Lake City. The 2 biggest manufacturers of salt water taffy in the U.S. are both located in Salt Lake City: Taffy Town and Sweet’s Candies. Each of these companies make tons of salt water taffy every day. They make very good salt water taffy in Salt Lake City, but it isn’t made with water from the Great Salt Lake. I know a sales rep for Taffy Town, and he tells me that many of the people who visit his company’s factory store assume that their salt water taffy is made with water from the Great Salt Lake and are shocked when employees at the store tell them the truth, which is that you can’t make candy (or any other edible product) with water from the Great Salt Lake. The water in the Great Salt Lake is not potable (safe to drink.) The Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake; that is, the lake is a dead end. It has no outlet to the sea. Like the Dead Sea and most other desert terminal lakes, the water in the Great Salt Lake contains a lot of toxic materials, like mercury. I understand why tourists assume that the salt water taffy that they sell in Salt Lake City is made with water from the Great Salt Lake, but it isn’t true, and it never was. Besides, as I said, there is no salt water in salt water taffy anyway.

San Francisco Rental Ad From 1970.

Below is a section of the For Rent ads from the San Francisco Chronicle in 1970. Look at the prices. Although it may seem hard to believe, back in those days, San Francisco and Berkeley were considered cheap places to live, that is, compared to big cities back East like New York and Boston. One of the main reasons why the hippies came to San Francisco and Berkeley in the 1960s was because they could find cheap housing here. Counter-culture people in every generation move to places where they can find cheap housing. Then they move elsewhere when housing gets expensive. That is something that never changes. Tourists, mostly from foreign countries, still go to the Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco expecting to see hippies and ‘flower children’, but there aren’t any. A 1 bedroom apartment in the Haight Ashbury district now rents for $3,000 to $4,000 a month. Of course, a portion of the increase in rents in the Bay Area can be attributed to inflation, but only a portion. When I arrived in Berkeley in 1972, I rented an apartment downtown for $80 a month, and I knew people who were paying much less than that.

What Is A Luxury Apartment in Berkeley?

I went to campus on Cal Day, April 22. Several of the new apartment houses in Berkeley near campus had booths there. There was one thing that these booths all had in common. They all claimed that they were renting luxury apartments, and only luxury apartments. The word ‘luxury’ was on everything. It was on the sales literature, the promotional giveaways, and the clothes that the sales agents were wearing. See the photo below of a shopping bag that I picked up on Cal Day. I asked a man working at one of these booths: “Your literature says that all your apartments are luxury apartments. What does that mean? I toured your building last week. I walked through a couple of 2 bedroom apartments. (One apartment was $4,500 a month. The other, which had a better view, was $4,800. a month including a parking space). They weren’t very big, and they didn’t seem to have anything luxurious about them, you know, like fine woodwork or marble floors, drapes, etc. In fact, neither of them even had a separate living room. What makes them luxury apartments?” The man working at this booth had an answer for me. I could see that he had been asked this question before. He said: “By luxury, we mean that our apartments are luxury priced.” AHA! So now I know what the word ‘luxury’ means, at least in Berkeley! ‘Luxury’ just means very EXPENSIVE! It tells you nothing about the apartment. Now frankly, I don’t think that ‘expensive’ is a reasonable definition of the word ‘luxury.’ Do you?

Berkeley Bans Fur.

In April, the Berkeley city council passed a law banning the sale of fur clothing. The city council says this law is just symbolic because they claim: “there are no stores in Berkeley that sell fur clothing”. However, that isn’t true! There are lots of stores in Berkeley that sell fur clothing, especially shoe stores. I have been wearing sheepskin moccasin bedroom slippers for years. They sell them at a number of stores in Berkeley. Mine are wool lined inside, like most moccasins. It is now illegal to sell moccasins like these in Berkeley unless you scrape the wool off the sheepskin first, which nobody is going to do. Besides, what the difference? Whether the wool is attached to the sheepskin or not, the sheep it came from is just as dead either way.

Rabbit Foot Keyrings. This is one fur product that has always been a mystery to me. I do not understand the appeal of this product. I sometimes see rabbit foot key rings for sale in stores. Do people really believe that carrying a dead rabbit’s foot in your pocket will bring you good luck? Yes! I once saw a man playing blackjack in Las Vegas, holding a rabbit’s foot in his left hand. When he won a big bet, he kissed the rabbit’s foot! As I left, I wondered: ‘Why would anyone imagine that a rabbit’s foot will bring you good luck?’ Obviously, cutting the feet off a rabbit didn’t bring the rabbit good luck! Well – did it?


In the late 1800s, sea otters in many places around the world were hunted to extinction for their soft luxurious fur. At the time of the California Gold Rush, it is estimated that there were 20,000 California sea otters, but by 1900, they were all gone. There were no sightings of sea otters in California for decades. They were believed to be extinct. Then in 1938, a small colony of California sea otters was sighted in a remote cove near Big Sur. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife immediately (and wisely) imposed a complete ban on capturing, killing, or harassing sea otters – and enforcing it with patrols. Today, there are several thousand California sea otters along the central and northern coast of the state. Frankly, I am a sucker for sea otters. I can watch sea otters for hours without getting bored. I sometimes see them near Seal Rocks in San Francisco. You can hear sea otters at some distance when they are eating oysters. It is fascinating how they do this. A sea otter will pick up an oyster with one paw and a rock with the other paw and then come to the surface. The otter then rolls over onto his back, places the rock on his stomach and then hits the oyster on the rock until he breaks the shell. It is amazing to me that sea otters figured out how to use rocks as tools to eat oysters. Here is a You Tube video showing a sea otter near Santa Cruz eating clams this way: Sea Otter Eating Clams.

Bank Fees You Can Avoid.

Banks love to open new accounts for college students. That’s why banks set up tables and booths on campus at the start of the school year with giveaways if you open an account on the spot. Most college students have very little or no experience dealing with banks before going to college, so banks can nail them for fees that older, more experienced customers have learned to avoid. Banks earn billions of dollars a year from these fees. Here are some common bank fees that you can avoid.

Overdraft fees. These can be expensive. They typically run $25 to $35 per check. You can avoid overdraft fees by monitoring your balance with a free smartphone bank app or signing up for email alerts that tell you when you balance is getting low. You should opt out of bank overdraft protection plans that set you up to overdraw on your checking account. If you have more than one account at your bank, like a checking account and a savings account, you can often link them together so that if there isn’t enough money in your checking account to pay a check, money is automatically transferred into your checking account from your savings account, avoiding an overdraft fee.

ATM Withdrawal Fees. These are less expensive, typically $2 or $3 per transaction, but they can add up. You can avoid these fees by using your own bank’s ATM machines or by using your supermarket’s cash-back feature when you pay with a debit card, which at most banks is also your ATM card.

Checking account monthly fees. These typically run $8 to $15 a month. Recurring monthly fees like these can really add up over time. If you are paying your bank a $10 a month account fee, that will cost you almost $500 over 4 years. Some banks offer free checking accounts if you sign up for other bank services, like direct deposit. You can also switch your checking account to a credit union or a branchless online virtual bank where free checking is common.

Check printing fees. Some banks charge $75 for printing checks. A lot of people assume that you have to get your checks printed by the bank where you have your account, but that isn’t true. You can get your checks printed anywhere. Costco has the best deal on check printing. You can get 500 printed-to-order high quality checks from Costco for just $12 to $15 with free shipping. Licensed character checks, like Finding Nemo or Mickey Mouse checks cost $5 more. If you do not have a Costco membership card, you probably know somebody who does. You can order checks from Costco online. You don’t have to go to a Costco store.

Gluten-Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner?

I saw this product at Berkeley Bowl. I read the back labels on household chemicals like this. Some toilet bowl cleaners contain ingredients that can damage the plumbing, like hydrochloric acid. This product befuddled me. At the bottom of the back label (below) it says that this product is ‘GLUTEN FREE.’ Now, I don’t doubt that they are telling the truth about this product being gluten free, but what’s the point? Do people drink this stuff? Toilet bowl cleaner isn’t a beverage.