Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rally for Laurie Capitelli, Marin Circle, Berkeley

Yesterday some fellow "Oakies," as we call ourselves (people who work for Red Oak Realty), and I met at Marin Circle in Berkeley to show our support for our Broker, Laurie Capitelli, who happens to be running for re-election in Berkeley's City Council District #5.

We, along with some good 'ol tummy warming Peet's, met at the circle at 7:30am and were greeted by honks, high fives, loud cheers, and some not-so-cheerful cheers.

I swear 65% of those driving through the circle were driving Prius', and of thos 65%, 35% were blue. Very Democratic.

Here is what was so suprising to me: Marin Circle is awfully busy at 7:30 in the morning. People coming from the Arlington, down Marin, up Marin, down from Thousand Oaks, into Thousand Oaks, 'round and 'round the Circle. People driving everywhere, each with a different agenda: passengers reading the daily newspaper, holding a cup of coffee and hoping it doesn't spill; kids in the back seat playing with their iPod's or other handheld devices; parents running late to drop off their kids; women putting on some last minute makeup (I even saw someone driving who was doing this).

Many people weren't paying attention; some pedestrian's and bicyclists were almost hit.

But for the most part, people were friendly. I realized that even if these people didn't agree with Laurie, as long as they started their day with a honk and a wave, all would be well in the world. But start your day with a grunt and a groan, no amount of coffee will help your day.

(In this picture, I am 3rd from the right)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 10 WORST Halloween Treats

Is this your first Halloween in your new digs? Well, here is a list of what NOT to hand out:

1) Toothbrushes
Dentists and orthodontists should not be allowed to celebrate Halloween if they're going to get all tooth doctory on us. Do not bring your work home with you, folks! We all have a personal responsibility to brush, and maybe some of us will forget, but your complimentary bristles on a stick (instead of a Snickers) will not help us remember. It will make us despise you and your trade.

2) Raisins
Little boxes of stuck-together shriveled globs are not what little kids schlep around the neighborhood for all night. When they say trick-or-treat, they want candy that will rot their teeth, not wrinkled grapes. (Using an empty box as a kazoolike instrument, though, is kinda fun.)
3) Candy Corn
The most polarizing candy of all. The fruitcake of Halloween; it just never goes away. If you love them, fine. But don't subject the rest of us haters to the sickeningly sweet triangle that tastes like neither candy nor corn.

4) Smarties and Necco Wafers
The chalky candy is supposedly "fruit-flavored," but no fruit I know tastes like dust—and makes everything eaten after taste like dust, too.

5) Dum Dum Lollipops
Usually, foods on a stick are yummy (corn dogs, ice pops), but DumDums just can't be included on that list. Not even if they were breaded and deep-fried and served at a fair.

6) Apples
Before the "poisoned candy scare," evil people handed out apples. After the scare (OK, perhaps it's an urban legend), even eviler people handed out apples with sharp blades and needles hidden inside, making this "treat" even more disappointing.

7) Tootsie Rolls
It looks like chocolate and sort of smells like chocolate, but the mini brown tubes are not real chocolate. They taste like watered-down chocolate, and have a chewy texture that will strip the fillings right off your molars.

8) Miscellaneous, Wrapped Hard Candies
Halloween is supposed to be a holiday for young people, not senior citizens who suck on hard candies all day. Something about the strawberry-shaped strawberries, gold-wrapped butterscotch, and peppermint feels past the expiration date. (These usually get set aside for Granny.)

9) Laffy Taffy
I do not laffy when I get these. I sobby. I get depressedy. Because it gets all stucky to my teethy and doesn't even taste that goody.

10) Anything Fun-Sized
Who started calling it this? Since when is one bite fun?! Give us the rich houses with the sprawling driveways and full-sized candy bars any day. Portion control doesn't need to start this young.

Some Halloween Fun

Monday, October 13, 2008

Homes Sold Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito Aug 04-Aug 08

Home sales in the East Bay and Bay Area, including Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito and surrounding areas have seen a dramatic decline over the past four years. However, since February of this year, sales have begun to gradually increase. Those areas hit hardest by foreclosures are the same areas seeing the largest increase in sales.

Currently median home values are at their lowest in over four years. Year over year we have been seeing a price decline around August, with August '07 seeing the greatest decline. This rate of decline is expected to continue into next year, although the rate of decline is expected to not be as drastic.

Now lets look at my town: Berkeley, Albany and Kensington...for the past year, values have held strong. The up and down action you are seeing is normal. What isn't normal are the multiple offers we are still seeing in many areas. But these graphs show why: the number of buyers continues to outweigh the sellers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alameda County Area Statistics, including Berkeley & Oakland

Here are the area statistics for Alameda County for August 2008. Note that the median price/square foot is down across the board from the same time last year.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Berkeley Financing Update from Chet Gohd, RPM Mortgage

I asked one of the mortgage brokers that I often work with to provide my readers with a market update from his perspective. Please read below to see what he has to say. (Click the image to read a larger version)
Questions? Call Chet Gohd, Branch Owner, RPM Mortgage, (510)524-1526

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Need a chimney cleaning?

(sing to the tune of the Calomine Lotion jingle)

"Icky, sticky, drippy, crusty...oh I see that shiny stuff-y!" (end song)

You know what I am talking about, right? Huh? CREOSOTE! That black stuff that sticks to the inside of your chimney. The stuff that, when you open your flue, sometimes trickles down in a fine, powdery substance.

Did you know that it was flamable? I didn't.

In comes The Irish Sweep. I figured I would get down and dirty with Sally, the knower of all-things-chimney, and the owner.

Sally said there are some easy things that you can do to help maintain your chimney to keep it in good, running order. To watch a cleaning in action, and to hear some of Sally's important tips, click on the video link above. And to contact Sally and her crew of amazing workers, visit http://www.theirishsweep.com/.