Bob Barker is retiring after 35 years as the host of Price is Right.

Whitney Houston Sans Crack

Whitney Houston made a surprise appearance at the 17th Annual Carousel of Hope Ball on Saturday night escorted by none other than Clive Davis. She was all about the photographs on the red carpet and and said, “I feel great,” she looked great too.

It definitely looks as though she’s gained back a lot of weight after getting off the daily crack diet she was on. Now the big questions are 1) can she stay off the crack long enough to release an album? and 2) have the years of sucking on crack smoke deteriorated her legendary vocal chords? Surely many have brushed her off as a has been by now and don’t believe that a comeback is possible.

She has to release an album, a good album, in order to make believers out of all of us.

The NBA season starts tonight with a TNT double-header. The first game will be the Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat and the second game will be Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers. I am looking forward to see if the Lakers have what it takes to make it all the way this year.

We are back from attending a beautiful wedding which was held at the breathtaking Hans Fahden Vineyards in Calistoga. Here are the photos from the the event for your viewing pleasure. Congratulations to Maria & Francois as they begin their life together, may it always be filled with peace and happiness!

We are heading up to Napa today to attend my best friend’s sister’s wedding.

At least that’s what the Bush Administration thinks. Bush signed a bill today that authorizes the building of 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican border, a border that is actually 2,100 miles long. What he didn’t mention is that the measure signed doesn’t fund the project, which nobody, including the President, knows how much will ultimately cost. Ridiculous.

The Bush Administration apparently didn’t get the memo on the fact that walls typically don’t work at protecting national borders. It didn’t work for China against Mongol invaders (it was too expensive to finish and Mongols could “go around” it), it didn’t work in Berlin (shooting people on sight was the major deterrent there), it doesn’t work in Israel (except to inspire more suicide bombings), and it won’t work here.

Since funding for this project is not likely to ever happen, the signing of this bill is just pre-election posturing by the Bush Administration in trying to garner ultra-conservative Republican borders that want the fence. Meanwhile, they are alienating conservative Republicans that think that a fence is an unnecessary expense and a bad idea. Whatever.

NBA Commissioner David Stern urged his players to leave their firearms at home when they leave their homes. He continued, “It’s a pretty, I think, widely accepted statistic that if you carry a gun, your chances of being shot by one increase dramatically.” Damn, how bad are things when your boss feels that he has to have a press conference to tell you to “leave your gun at home?”

The median home price in the U.S. fell 2.2 percent to $220,000 last month. This is the sixth straight month of price declines and the largest year-over-year decline on record. The bottom may be falling out now.

Kurt Cobain was the top-earning dead celebrity last year, earning $50 million. Elvis is usually at the top of this list, but the king has been dethroned. Needless to say, Courtney Love and her daughter won’t be hurting for cash anytime soon. That’s more money than even Courtney could squander on drugs, or is it!?

Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, was sentenced to 24 years in prison today.

Triathletes Eliminated

In this episode, teams made their way from India to Kuwait. That’s right, just one small border cross away from Iraq, where U.S. troops are blown up daily. All the teams were bunched up in Mumbai and arrived in Kuwait at the same time.

Kuwait proved to be a hard place to navigate, with many teams getting lost in between tasks. Team Alabama, the Asian Brothers, and the Coal Miners had an alliance and consider themselves friends. So much so that the Asian Brothers let the Coal Miners “take” the Fast Forward because the Coal Miners were marked for elimination. Dumb move.

The Coal Miners came in first with the Fast Forward. I thought for sure that the Asian Brothers would be gone after their mistake, but ultimately it was the Triathletes inability to read a map that would eventually do them in. I’m sad to see Sarah go, but Peter was such a dick that I’m glad he’s gone. Buh-bye!

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The Halo feature film which is currently in development is now in limbo because Universal backed out of a co-financing and distribution deal with Fox. The film, which according to trade papers now has a budget of $200 million, was supposed to be released next summer. Now, it may not.

Gavin Newsom says he’s “absolutely not convinced” that he will run for re-election for mayor of San Francisco. He says he’s tired of sitting “at bars and restaurants doing homework and getting food to go” and wants more balance in his life. I am sure that also means he’d like to date 20-year-olds without being scrutinized.

Coal Miners in Last Place

In this episode, teams made their way from Vietnam to India. Teams were immediately all bunched up on a train on the way to Hanoi, Vietnam. On the train, the Asian Brothers decided to annoy the hell out of Peter of the Triathletes team by faking that they were using a cell phone to book flights. While this *did* annoy Peter, it inspired to find a real cell phone to arrange for reservations. The Triathletes and Miss America called ahead to a hotel travel agency to book tickets to Chennai, India. There was a lot of drama with all of the teams making different flight arrangements to get to Chennai.

Ultimately, the Asian Brothers got the earliest booked flights to Chennai through Hong Kong and Dehli that put them into Chennai three hours before other teams. The Asian Brothers quickly shared their information with the Coal Miners and Alabama, who changed their reservations at the airport to get to Dehli and fly standby to Chennai. This proved to be a good move, but they didn’t beat Miss America and the Triathletes who got better flights to Chennai from Bangkok.

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Oracle bought the naming rights to the Oakland Arena, but the Warriors *still* suck.

After Steve Irwin’s death, stingrays were innocently killed off the Australian coastline. Apparently, after a month of planning, today the stingrays fought back by sending a “suicide stinger” onto a boat to stab a man in the heart. The Stingray Revolutionary Army (SRA) quickly took responsibility for the attack that has left an 81-year-old man in critical condition.

A spokesman for the SRA, a speckled stingray only known by the name “Barbie” spoke with a reporter for The Daily Nugget at an undisclosed location. She said, “We will not sit back and do nothing while our innocent brothers and sisters die at the hands of ignorant humans! We continue to maintain that Irwin’s death was an unfortunate accident. Nonetheless, we have thousands of stingrays training all over the world to jump onto boats and we will continue the use of force until the senseless attacks on our species stop!”

The Department of Homeland security could not be reached for comment at press time to discuss how the U.S. Coast Guard will deal with this new threat from the seas. Robert Hornsby, an Australian fisherman from Queensland had this to say, “I had warned some kids last month about messing with these animals because I knew of their complex worldwide communication network. They are smarter and more cunning than the ‘crab people’ and we should stop messing with them.” We should all heed this warning before it is too late.

Howard Street Closure © The Chronicle

The closure of Howard Street due to the Oracle Open World conference starts tonight and will run through October 28th. My advice is to avoid driving within at least three blocks of this mess at all costs. Traffic that normally flows through Howard Street will be redirected to Mission, Harrison, and Brannan Streets. The closure will also increase traffic on Third and Fourth Streets and, maybe to a lesser extent, Second and Fifth Streets. Let’s see what happens next week when the conference is in full force and the additional lane is closed on Fourth Street.

Foreclosures were up 89.2% and rental prices were up 8.2% in the nine-county Bay Area for the third quarter compared to the same period last year. Overall, demand for rentals have risen as people realize that buying a home may not yield the high gains that have been seen in the last few years. It’s hard to gauge the San Francisco average rental price because official stats include buildings with 50 units or more, and half of San Francisco’s rentals are in buildings with 10 units or less.

A school in Massachusetts has banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they’ll get hurt and hold the school liable. What!? School playgrounds are for playing! Is it any wonder that kids are shooting up their schools!? Maybe they should let the kids run and play, they’d be less dangerous.

Besides, aren’t kids in America fat enough even *with* the running at recess? Maybe they’re just going to ban recess altogether. Or ban schools and have kids just sit in front of televisions with a steady dose of edutainment, from the Edutainment Channel of course, and soda pumped directly into their bloodstreams. That would free the schools from liability, wouldn’t it? Big ups to Dave for the link.

A U.S. District judge erased Ken Lay’s criminal conviction citing an earlier case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals extinguished a defendant’s entire case pending appeal due to his death. The reasoning was that the defendant hadn’t had a full opportunity to challenge the conviction and the government shouldn’t be able to punish a dead defendant or his estate. This means that that Ken Lay’s estate is off the hook for the $43.5 million in ill-gotten Enron gains that the U.S. government would have received as restitution as part of his conviction. The U.S. government must now sue the Ken Lay estate like any other litigant in civil court.

I guess that if you steal hundreds of millions of dollars and fail to get away with it, you can always kill yourself while on appeal and leave your heirs a pretty nice nest egg. Who knew? Some people claim that he either killed himself or faked his own death. It turns out that he may have “died” on the advice of legal counsel. Surely laws will have to be changed going forward to deal with this, since many CEOs are old farts that may die before the legal process is through with them.

Mike Tyson, former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and ear biter, said during a recent press conference that he wants to fight a woman, professional boxer Ann Wolfe. Since at this point Tyson cannot beat any male professional contenders, I guess that’s a good idea. Later in the press conference he said “It’s all fun. I’m not Mike Tyson,” referring to the fierce 20-year-old champion whose career was turned upside down by a prison term. It’s sad to see how far this guy has fallen.

Bay Area home prices dropped last month by 0.8 percent in the nine-county region. However, the median home price in San Francisco rose 5.5 percent to $800,000.

Blade Got Paid

Wesley Snipes, known for his “Blade” movies, was indicted on tax fraud charges accusing him of getting paid $12 million from the government in false refund claims. The suit claims that he filed for the false refunds for 2 years and then failed to file a refund for 6 years. If indicted on all counts he faces 16 years in prison. Damn, looks like Blade may be trading in all his cool gadgets for a jail house shiv!

I don’t know why any celebrity would do this. I mean celebrities already get paid obscene amounts of money compared to the rest of society. Some would argue that becoming a famous actor is like hitting the lottery. And on top of that some of them try to cheat their way out of paying for their fair share of taxes! That’s totally wrong! If Snipes is guilty of doing this he should definitely go down.

Yesterday’s Hawaii earthquake was revised to magnitude 6.7 by the USGS.

Paula Abdul was straight dissed on Ebay when nobody bid on a charity auction package that included two first-class tickets to Los Angeles, a $2,225 shopping spree, and a backstage meeting with her to raise money for multiple sclerosis. Sad.

I just talked to Larry on the phone after trying to dial in for a couple of hours. He says that the earthquake broke a bunch of stuff inside his house, knocked out the power and water, and closed the “highway” near his house due to landslides. Luckily, they are all okay and there doesn’t appear to be any structural damage to the house. Still, he says there is a bit of cleanup to do.

MSNBC has created a really cool interactive U.S. Population Map. Check it.

We hope our friends Larry and Tina are okay after this morning’s 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Hawaii. The earthquake was 10 miles north-northwest of Kailua Kona, which puts the epicenter within five miles offshore from where our friends live. We have tried calling them but keep getting “all circuits are busy.” According to reports, some power lines and phone lines are down on the island. Stay tuned.

Gavin Newsom & Brittanie Mountz at the Westfield Opening Gala Event © Drew Altizer

Turns out that Gavin Newsom’s new love interest, Brittanie Mountz, is almost half his age, not even old enough to drink, and a registered Republican.

According to the Chronicle, she had changed her MySpace page (which is now private) to say she was 26-years-old shortly after being seen with the mayor, but her voter registration card revealed her real age along with her party affiliation. Now there’s a big stink because the 20-year-old girl has been seen around town drinking with our 39-year-old mayor.

In Newsom’s defense, Mountz may have lied to him about her age just to get a date with him. After all, he’s one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. Either way, party on Gavin!

The Census Bureau projects that the U.S. population will hit 300 million on Tuesday morning. Although our population has grown by only 50% in the last 39 years, the number of motor vehicles has doubled. Even more surprisingly, the number of miles driven per year has tripled during the same period. Environmentalists blame urban sprawl for the enormous increase in energy demands. For example, the environmental impact per capita in New York City is quite low compared to suburbs, where there are big houses and the need for more than one car per family.

I think that it is clear that if we are to survive as a country, we need to redevelop our urban centers and give up on the idea of sprawl. Suburban dreams are turning into nightmares in many cities due to longer and longer commute distances and times. If we build up urban centers and people start living closer and closer to where they work, our dependencies on energy will decrease. The catalyst for all this is energy costs. With energy costs increasing, I think you’ll see more and more people moving back into big cities. We’ll see how it plays out in the next decade.

The U.S. Secret Service pulled a 14-year-old girl out of class and questioned her until she went into tears earlier this week. What was her crime? Last year, she posted a picture of the president on her MySpace page, scrawled “Kill Bush” across the top and drew a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. Now to me, that doesn’t seem like a threat on the President’s life. The girl took down the photo herself when she realized that the photo may be misconstrued as a threat–which is what she had just learned in her eighth grade history class.

Surely, the Secret Service knew everything about this girl before paying her a visit. They knew that she was an honor student near the top of her class, they knew where she lived, who her friends were, and the clubs she attended. Most importantly, they knew she was a peace activist, and to the Bush Administration that may be her biggest crime. The Secret Service decided to teach her a lesson in not dissenting against our nation, even though that is not a principle that our nation was built on. That’s why we are not British subjects.

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Well, at least indirectly. The city of San Francisco has agreed to close Howard Street between Third and Fourth Streets at the request of the Oracle OpenWorld Conference. The closure will take place from October 19th through October 28th. While I understand that the conference brings in millions of dollars for the city, is it really worth the traffic nightmare that this will create?

Steve Jobs could see this as an act of defiance by Larry and decide that Howard Street *must* be closed for Macworld. Then Bill Gates may follow suit and decide that a closure is in order for the next Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in San Francisco! And hey, once the precedent is set, the city will need to have good reason not to do it again. I hope they are charging Larry a lot of moolah for this inconvenience.

I think that this closure couldn’t come at a worse time. The new Bloomingdale’s just opened which has increased traffic Mission Street, where the new entrance to the mall is located. If Howard street is closed, the closest alternatives are Mission and Harrison Streets. The redirected traffic will cause gridlock to worsen on Mission, which is already pretty bad with shopping traffic, and on Harrison, which already sees afternoon 101 Highway access traffic. It’s already insane!

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and if public outcry is enough to keep the city from closing down Howard Street again, at any price.

Incredible! Even after Paypal identified the scam and reversed the fraudulent payment from the unsuspecting Thomas Weir, “Brenda” submitted another payment for my camera! This time she used an account from the UK for a guy named Jon Donaldson. Knowing now that it’s all a scam, I refunded the payment in full. Still, the balls on “Brenda” are huge!

This poor guy Jon Donaldson probably has no idea that his account is being plundered by “Brenda” as we speak! All of these Paypal accounts that she has must have had their passwords lifted by a Trojan or through phishing emails. Sad. “Brenda” is still emailing me trying to find out if I will mail out the camera.

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Due to the aforementioned issue, my camera is for sale again on Ebay.

Last night some spammer used my email address in the “from” field of thousands of spam messages sent to people all over the world. Many of the spam messages were rejected by the destination servers and spam firewalls, so this morning I had over 1,200 mail delivery errors in my inbox. Bastard.

I sold my Canon 10D camera at auction on Ebay and thought nothing when I received a question from one of my potential buyers. The nice girl, named Brenda Zimmerman, who I assumed to be a nice Jewish girl, gave me a story that she was on vacation in Indonesia and needed the camera shipped there instead of her home in New York if she won the auction. Fine.

The nice girl wins the auction and I don’t hear from her for a few days. All of the sudden I see that I receive payment for the camera plus shipping from a Thomas Weir. Again, I think nothing of it because the same girl explains in an email that her boyfriend paid for the camera and gives me an address of where they are both staying at in Indonesia. Oh, okay, no problem.

Had I been home, I would have printed the shipping label, slapped it on the package, and headed off to the post office to ship the camera via Global Express Mail. Unfortunately, I was at the office and could not readily ship the package. I thought I would just print the label when I got home, slap it on the package, and get to the post office the next morning. All good right?

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LED Rat Throwie

Just in time for Halloween! You can make your very own LED Rat Throwie that sticks to metal with magnets (pictured here stuck on the side of a fridge). This will most certainly scare the hell out of the kids that walk up to your front door, as well as all of your family and friends.

Why? Because this project is not for the faint of heart. You will need a soldering kit, two light emitting diodes, some electronics, a battery, and, oh I almost forgot, a dead rat. Yes, in order to make this gag believable you must master the art of mouse taxidermy. The website says “Mice are smaller and easier to work with than rats,” so it advises you to try doing this with a mouse first and then graduate to full-size rat sweetness. Thanks, but I’ll stick to fake stuffed animals, no thanks.

Via BoingBoing.

Hey crazy kids, we’re not making you do this! And please tell me exactly how a 13-year-old boy gets his hands on an AK-47 assault rifle. It has to be a function of the quality of the education. If school sucks you’re probably more likely to walk in with a gun and shoot it up. Right?

They would have to be retarded not to be ahead. I mean with Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Abramoff, Katrina, Iraq, Halliburton no-bid contracts, Iraq, Cheney shooting people, Iraq, Tom DeLay grand jury indictments, Iraq, Foley having one-handed type fests with male pages, and again last but not least: Iraq, the democrats would have to be a bunch of drooling idiots to lose this election. They better grow a pair and go for the jugular now that the republicans are hurt. Stay tuned.

Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D

The 78-inch long model of the “Starship Enterprise NCC-1701-D” that was used in the filming of Star Trek: The Next Generation was sold for $576,000 this weekend at Christie’s “40 Years of Star Trek” auction. Geeks with cash from all over the world spent more than $4.9 million for set furniture, pointy Vulcan ears and other props from the Paramount lot. The moral of this story is that Star Trek fans apparently have a *lot* of disposable income.

A Washington man won the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay with a pumpkin that weighed 1,223 lbs. No, that’s not a typo.

Google announced today that it will buy YouTube for for $1.65 billion.

Bitches Eliminated

In this episode, teams made their way from Vac, Vietnam to Hanoi, Vietnam. A first for the race, teams had to “listen” for their clue rather than find a clue box for their first task. This proved to be difficult for some of the teams because they couldn’t write down the names of their next destinations. The language (or literacy) barrier proved to be a pretty funny situation. Sadly, all the teams bunched up after the taxi ride waiting for a bus.

Teams then made their way via bus to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam to get to their next Roadblock. The Roadblock was to use an ascender to go up a cliff using a single rope. No big deal right, except all of the sudden it was like “What!?” Peter made Sarah do the Roadblock even though she only has one leg and climbing is about leg strength more than it is about arm strength—everybody knows that. People with two legs could alternate between their two legs to do the climb, Sarah couldn’t.

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Team Lesbian Eliminated

In this episode, teams made their way from Mongolia to Hanoi, Vietnam. It was interesting that the teams started with zero dollars for this leg of the race. So teams that had not been frugal up to this point in the race were immediately at a disadvantage.

Team Lesbian had very little money and thought that it would be a good idea to befriend a Vietnamese woman on the plane to show them where the Hanoi Hilton was. They actually waited for her to get her baggage from the plane before heading out in a taxi. They deserved elimination just for that dumb move!

Once in the taxi, the woman took them a half hour out of the way so that the taxi would take her to her brother’s house before taking the Lesbian team to the Hanoi Hilton. Idiots! Adding insult to injury, they didn’t have enough to pay the taxi, which the taxi driver forgave, but left them without any money for the next taxi ride the following morning.

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According to a Moody’s report, real estate prices in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties will rise about 3.6 percent a year for the next two years while home values in the East Bay are expected to decline by 6.4 percent. Apparently, there doesn’t appear to be much excess supply in the San Francisco market

Clara Street Fire

There was a huge fire on the corner of Clara and 5th Streets, only one half block away from our building, earlier today. The photo you see here was taken from my cell phone standing on the roof of our building. The building that was on fire, see smoke and firemen with ladders, was only about 150 yards away. I was on a conference call when the fire was in full swing and couldn’t even hear the commotion from our place. Mama called me on the phone to tell me about it and I went on the roof to check it out. Here’s the story of the blaze from SFGate, it has much better pictures.