Thursday, July 28, 2005

Going Down?

PMI, a mortgage insurance company in Walnut Creek, just put out a list of the cities most likely to see home prices fall over the next two years. Naturally, San Francisco is in the top 10. (But it's not in the top five. And in fact, it has a less than 50% chance of seeing prices fall.)

Boston led the field, with a risk index of 553. That means there's better than a 55% chance that home prices will fall in that region. Long Island was No. 2. Interestingly, New York City doesn't pop up until No. 15.

Metro area's risk index
--- -----
Boston-Quincy, MA 553
Nassau-Suffolk (Long Island), NY 540
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 528
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 513
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA 512
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA 509
Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA 469
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood, CA 459
Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA 432
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 422
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA 421
Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA 419
Edison, NJ 364
New York-Wayne-White Plains, NY-NJ 326
Detroit-Livonia, Dearborn MI 295
Newark-Union, NJ-PA 251
Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 249
Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach- Deerfield Beach, FL 219
Average 213
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-MD-VA-WV 209
Denver-Aurora, CO 169
Warren-Farmington Hills-Troy, MI 168
Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL 166
Tampa-St Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 166
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 130
Baltimore-Towson, MD 124
Austin-Round Rock, TX 116
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 109
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 106
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX 99
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 95
Orlando, FL 94
Houston-Baytown-Sugarland, TX 93
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL 92
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 92
St Louis, MO-IL 90
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 89
Kansas City, MO-KS 89
Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 80
Philadelphia, PA 76
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA 71
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 70
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH 69
San Antonio, TX 68
Columbus, OH 66
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 64
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro, TN 64
Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN 60
Indianapolis, IN 59
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 58
Pittsburgh, PA 56

Quote of the Day

From former 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, on why he's not worried about alienating fans:

"People hated on Jesus. They threw stones at him and tried to kill him, so how can I complain or worry about what people think?"


Hey, they do have a similar thing for U.S. states visited. As you can see below, my map in a little more impressive here. I do plan to get Hawaii nailed down sometime next year. Does anyone want to make a road trip to North Dakota?

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

You've Been Here

Here's an interesting feature I noticed on Bill Stern's blog. You click on all the countries you've visited and it creates a map that shows your progress.

As you can see, my map is fairly pathetic. I wish they had a similar feature for U.S. states visited, because I would certainly kick ass in that category (I only lack Hawaii, North Dakota and Oklahoma).

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Restaurant News

This is interesting: Apparently Chez Maman is going to become the Pasta Pomodoro of French restaurants. The affordable bistro is opening three new locations across San Francisco. I've only eaten once at the original location (in Potrero Hill) but remember liking it a lot. The guys who worked there seemed right off the boat from France [it's more likely they flew here -ed.].

The new locations are in Bernal Heights, Cow Hollow and the Mission. But if it's now officially a chain, that means certain people I know are no longer allowed to eat there!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I just read the book "Freakonomics," which has a million interesting factoids. Since we recently went through the home-buying experience, I especially liked the portion on real estate.

Anyway, the book details ten different terms that are frequently used in home listings. Five of the terms correlate to higher selling prices and five correlate to lower selling prices:

Five Terms Correlated to a Higher Sales Price

Five Terms Correlated to a Lower Sales Price
Great Neighborhood

All of these terms sound positive, but the ones in the second list provide subtle clues that a house may not be all that great. The terms at the top, meanwhile, are useful and have specific meaning — such as revealing that there are granite countertops in the kitchen.

The second set of terms are vague and used when a home doesn't have many specific attributes that are desirable. "Great neighborhood," for instance, implies that while the neighborhood may be good, this house is probably dragging down property values.

I wish I could find the original listing for our home, because I definitely feel like some of the lower five terms were used (especially the proverbial slammer "!"). I do know, though, that "great neighborhood" was not.

Free Ride

So today was the first Spare the Air day this summer, and that means everyone on Bay Area public transit got to ride for free (it's a new experiment and supposedly the largest such program in the country).

I enjoyed not paying this morning, but I couldn't really tell if the train was fuller than normal. Maybe a little. (There was an unfortunate moment when I was crumpling up my plastic newspaper bag and it exploded loudly, but fortunately I was not shot to death by British police.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Real Family Guy?

As a big fan of "Family Guy," I was intrigued by this urban legend.

By the way, did anyone catch the scene a couple episodes ago where Peter, Brian, Stewie and Chris all take syrup of ipecac and then violently vomit for five minutes? I thought it was the funniest thing I've seen all season. Kelly strongly disagreed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Toothless...But Not Wooden

Today I was discussing portraiture with someone in my office and happened to mention that although George Washington had wooden teeth, he would put cotton in his mouth while posing for portraits (the idea was to keep his lips from sinking in over his toothless gums). I'd always thought this was odd, since couldn't the painters "throw him a bone" in the looks department and fix his mouth without props?

Anyway, said co-worker had never heard the wooden teeth thing, which I condescendingly told him was common knowledge. So you can imagine my horror when I discovered that the wooden teeth legend is apocryphal!

According to the site, Washington never had wooden teeth. He had many sets of dentures, but they were constructed of ivory and other materials. Most interesting was the set of dentures he used when first inaugurated as president in 1789 (when he had only one natural tooth left). The set had a lower base of hippopotamus ivory (?!) embedded with real human teeth (the upper part had teeth carved of regular ivory).

I sincerely hope that the human teeth were from men that Washington had himself killed (though not from British soldiers, since you can imagine what shape their teeth would be in). Sadly, the Web site could not confirm this.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Here Comes Zipcar

It's nice to see San Francisco is getting a second car-sharing service. Kelly has been doing the City CarShare since last year, and it seems to work pretty well (I especially like how you can reserve pickup trucks for big items).

But it can be a bit pricey if you drive a long distance. Maybe Zipcar will bring some needed competition, since it sounds like they give you more free miles.

And apparently Zipcar has flashier cars, like BMWs. (Zipcar says people might use the BMW to impress people at a business meeting — though I wonder if having a big Zipcar sticker on the car would detract from that.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Hopefully I have this right: They're going to make California's hiking trails acccessible to people who can't, er, hike?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Two-Way Street

After my posting last month about a local fellow shouting "Bitch, gimme my money," I'm concerned that some readers may think there's a misogynistic element to our new neighborhood.

But fear not. Friday night Kelly and I were walking to the cinema when we came upon the reverse scenario. A woman approached a large gentleman and repeatedly asked where the "f*&#" her money was and even preceded to "get all up in his face, ah hell no!" (or at least, this was the gentleman's interpretation of her actions).

In the interest of discretion, we fled the scene. So I can't say whether the lady did indeed receive her money. But it's nice to know that the demanding of owed funds is not a gender-specific activity in our neck of the woods.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Freaky Alternate Universe

A few weeks ago I was leafing through Sunset magazine (I was at home in Santa Cruz; I don't read that publication under normal circumstances) and noticed a weird Acura ad. It showed what looked like the San Francisco skyline, but there was no Transamerica Pyramid. And there were a number of other buildings pictured that don't exist in real life. I chalked it up to Acura trying to show a more generic city.

But apparently there's a more sinister side to the story, which I learned today while reading Leah Garchik's "gossip" column in the Chron. Transamerica feels the image of its building is a registered trademark (it appears on their logo) and I guess they don't want it used without their permission.

Seriously, that's ridiculous. What if Chrysler refused to allow the Chrysler building in New York to be shown without compensation, or the Sears Tower in Chicago? Someone needs to smack Transamerica with a large flounder.