If am constantly amazed at the silly things that dot-com billionaires spend their money on. Most of these people are relatively young men who came into a lot of money suddenly, usually as a result of an IPO or a buyout. Once they get all this money, they go on spending sprees, buying toys – very, very expensive toys. For example, one of these guys bought a zeppelin, the world’s biggest zeppelin. You can see it flying around San Francisco Bay. The owner of the zeppelin uses it to fly his friends from Oakland Airport to the Napa Valley for dinner at pricey restaurants like the French Laundry. Other expensive toys purchased by internet billionaires include a Russian submarine, a chocolate factory on a pier near Fisherman’s Wharf, and one of the Hawaiian islands, and a populated island too! Can you imagine anyone having enough money to write out a check for a whole Hawaiian island?
This brings me around to Timothy Draper, a billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist. In July, Draper announced that he had collected enough signatures to qualify a state ballot initiative to divide California into six states. Draper paid people to gather 1,300,000 signatures, well over the 800,000 needed to put the measure on the ballot in 2016. Draper says he did it because: “California needs a reboot”, whatever that means.
One of the six states would be called Silicon Valley and would include all the counties around San Francisco Bay including San Francisco itself. Critics say that Draper’s plan is simply designed to cut off the wealthiest part of the state from the rest, leaving poor people in the Central Valley to fend for themselves.
California is not actually going to become six states. This ballot initiative is just another internet billionaire’s toy. It takes an Act of Congress to admit new states into the Union, and there is absolutely no possibility that Congress will allow California to become six states.
Aaron Levie. My nephew Aaron Levie started an internet company 8 years ago in my backyard called Box.com. Box.com now has over 1,000 employees and offices all over the world. I wonder what expensive toys Aaron will buy when his company goes public, which could happen soon.
The Lady and the Tiger. One expensive toy that Aaron might want to buy is the ‘Lady and the Tiger’ trick. When Aaron was growing up, we used to go to magic conventions together every summer. Aaron and I once saw the Lady and the Tiger trick performed at one of these conventions. In this trick, a beautiful young woman is put into a cage. The cage is lifted into the air and covered with a cloth. When the cloth is removed a few seconds later, the woman is gone, and a live 500 pound Bengal tiger is in the cage instead. Although Aaron knows how this trick is done, he has never done it. Aaron doesn’t have a tiger. Now – Aaron doesn’t like it when I reveal magic secrets, but I am going to reveal a secret about this trick. No magician can actually turn a beautiful woman (or even an ugly one) into a Bengal tiger. No. In order for a magician to do this trick, he has to have a tiger first. I guess that’s not really a secret. You probably already figured that out.
Houdini Magic Shop. There are a number of magicians who do the ‘Lady and the Tiger’ trick, but I have no idea where they get their tigers from. They don’t sell tigers at magic stores. I have a friend who works at the Houdini magic shop at Pier 39 in San Francisco. Although they sell professional magic tricks there, I know they don’t sell Bengal tigers. I wonder where magicians get their Bengal tigers from. I looked up ‘Bengal tiger’ on Google Shopping, but nothing came up.
Yes you can. A man was evicted from his apartment in a high-rise apartment house in New York City after the manager discovered that the tenant had a Bengal tiger in his apartment and called the police. The police were reluctant to enter the apartment through the front door, so a policeman with a rifle was lowered from the roof of the building on a rope. The policeman shot the tiger with a tranquilizing dart through a window.
When the tiger was sedated, animal control officers entered the apartment and removed the tiger. The tenant fought the eviction. He told the judge that his lease allowed him to have a cat, and a tiger is a cat. The judge agreed that a tiger is a cat but evicted the tenant anyway. The judge said that a reasonable person would know that a lease provision allowing a tenant to have a cat was not intended to apply to a 500 pound Bengal tiger. I think the judge was right, but I may be prejudiced because I do not allow Bengal tigers in my apartments. (I wonder how long it would take my insurance company to cancel my policies if they discovered that there were Bengal tigers in my buildings.)
220 Volts For Kitty Cat. I frequently advise other landlords to ask questions when an applicant for an apartment says that he has a cat. I do this myself. Many years ago, I got an application to rent a house on Shafter Avenue in Oakland from a man who told me that he had a cat named ‘Kitty Cat.’ Initially, I didn’t pay much attention to that. Later in the interview, the applicant asked me if the garage had a 220 volt electrical outlet. I said ‘No.’ He asked me if he could get a 220 volt outlet installed in the garage. He offered to pay for it himself. His question piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know why he wanted a 220 volt electrical outlet. I have been in this business for over 40 years, and I have never seen a 220 volt outlet in a garage. The man said that he had a 50 cubic foot commercial freezer, and it ran on 220 volts. I was astonished. That is a huge freezer. It’s the kind of freezer is made for restaurants and hotels, not home use. I asked him why he owned such a big freezer. He said: “Oh, it’s not for me. It’s for Kitty Cat.” I thought the guy was crazy! People don’t buy industrial freezers for their cats. Something was very wrong with this guy’s story. I asked the guy a series of questions about his freezer and his cat, but answers seemed deliberately evasive. Finally, I told the guy that I had to see this cat. I asked the applicant if he had a photograph of his cat with him. He said he did. He showed me a photo of ‘Kitty Cat’ that he kept in his wallet. That is how I found out that ‘Kitty Cat’ was actually a mountain lion. He told me that ‘Kitty Cat’ ate 10 pounds of horsemeat a day, which is why he owned a commercial freezer. The freezer held 500 pounds of horsemeat. I thanked the guy for his application and sent him on his way. I decided to rent the house to somebody else.
The woman that I wound up renting the house to also had a cat, but her cat weighed 6 pounds. Even though this all happened a long time ago, I still remember her cat. It was a cross-eyed white Siamese cat with black ears. The cat was friendly, but whenever I was in the house, the cat would sit on the kitchen countertop and stare at me intently and cross-eyed until I left. That cat’s stare was downright spooky! Well – now I ask questions about cats!