Mama and I have not been camping in about 5 years. Well, we are heading off to Clear Lake, CA today for a day of hiking, scrabble, and sitting around a campfire.  We didn’t book far enough ahead and were able to get a campsite for only one night, but I think that’s all we need after not camping for so long.  Maybe we’ll be able to get our act together to camp in Yosemite this fall before it gets too cold.

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake in China’s Sichuan province yesterday killed 27 people and destroyed 180,000 homes.  This earthquake was along the same fault line as the 7.9 magnitude quake in May that killed 70,000.  However, because of Hurricane Gustav is hurtling towards the Gulf Coast many U.S. news media agencies are not giving the China story much attention.  Almost three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, Gustav is heading directly for New Orleans.

Hurrican Gustav

I have to think that New Orleans residents that are still rebuilding after the devastation of Katrina will simply give up if Gustav breaks the levees once more.  It is almost the same story as three years ago, except that many more people that have the means to leave the city are leaving.  Still, there are those that are too poor to evacuate today, just as there were three years ago.  I certainly hope that the levees hold this time around.

This guy in Brooklyn had the wheels stolen off his bicycle.  Saddened by his loss, he obtained the security camera footage of the theft.  The security video inspired the song.  The music video below is the security footage mashed up with the song by Shank Bone Mystic.  It is hilarious.  Enjoy.

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However, that didn’t stop Bloomberg from accidentally running Steve Job’s obituary yesterday.  They retracted it, but surely someone is going to be fired at Bloomberg for the screw up.  Still it begs the question: How is Steve Jobs holding up?  People didn’t think Steve looked so good when he took the stage in June at the WWDC.  Someone should call Apple to check up on Steve just in case.

What would you think if I told you that there are condos in SoMa being sold for $279,000?  Well, it’s true.  They are right next to Whole Foods and just a block away from Moscone too.  The only problem is that they are 250 square feet in size.  The company that is marketing these is claiming that they appeal to first-time buyers that want to get into the market.  At first glance these seem like a good deal, except of course they are not.

These mini condos are selling at $1,116 per square foot while regular sized condos in the area sell for about $500 to $600 per square foot.  They are twice as expensive as a 1200 square foot condo selling for $650,000, or roughly $540 per square foot.  While I agree that coming up with $650,000 is a lot harder than coming up with $279,000, it certainly does not make these condos cheap.

The developers are essentially selling this space at twice the market price.  They are just hoping there will be enough fools to make their little scheme worthwhile.  Who knows?  These mini condos may even raise the prices for the regular sized condos and lofts around them.  Stay tuned.

This is a Star Wars mockumentary fan film of Imperial Fleet Week in San Francisco titled “Death Star over San Francisco.”  If you have seen the real San Francisco Naval Fleet Week you will appreciate this short film.

According to the California Association of Realtors (CAR), twice as many people can afford an entry-level home in the state of California.  They claim that 48 percent of the state’s households can now afford an entry-level home, defined as a price that is 85 percent of a median home.  The reasons why the public should take all of this with a grain of salt is that 1) the information comes from realtors, 2) apparently realtors are not very good at math, and 3) the information comes from realtors.

Realtors claim that the minimum income required to buy a Bay Area entry-level home, estimated at $582,130, is only $111,210.  How the hell is that even possible? Let’s try and breakdown the math to see if this is on the up and up.  Let’s assume that this fictional household is a family of four, with two working adults, and pays cumulative federal and state income taxes of about 30 percent (but can be as high as 35 percent).  Which means that the family takes home $77,847 in any best case scenario, or $6,487 per month.

Now, let’s say that the family puts 10 percent down on that entry-level home, which means that they would finance $523,917.  Now, let’s say they get a really good 30-year fixed rate for their jumbo loan of 7.25 percent.  It’s likely even higher this week but let’s assume 7.25 percent just for fun.  That’s a monthly payment of $3,574!  This is more than half of the family’s income and they still haven’t eaten, clothed themselves, saved any money, or god forbid, paid for car maintenance or *gas* to get to their freakin’ jobs! And we know they have to drive into the city to work, because they paid $582,130 for their home and that won’t even buy a couple of parking spaces downtown right now!  They are driving at least 30 miles one-way based on the price of their home.

Now go ahead, try and run this fictional household with the remaining $2,913 per month.  That is all of the money you have for food, utilities, property taxes, insurance, home maintenance, clothing, child care, car maintenance, gas, and other miscellaneous expenses.  Keep in mind that this household likely lives in the boonies with two cars!  I guarantee you will run out of money and realize that the figures that the realtors are dreaming up are fantasy, pure and simple.

So, while it may be true that more people can afford homes in our state now over a year ago, I seriously doubt that 48 percent of the state is willing or even able to really do so outside of the imagination of the average realtor.  I guess at this point realtors are willing to say almost anything to sell you a house.  Oh wait, they *always* do that.  Nevermind.

I have to admit that I was scooped by Phil Bronstein regarding Edward Jackson being back in the city.  I guess getting scooped by the Editor at Large of the Chronicle is okay.  Damn those full-time journalists!  Bronstein wrote an in-depth blog entry about Edward Jackson returning to the city on Thursday last week that even included video of Ed being harassed by cops (see video below).  I did not know that the cops had been giving Ed a hard time since his return to the city.  Also at the end of Bronstein’s blog entry is another video of Ed tap dancing at the cable car turnaround. Big ups to Bronstein for getting this footage.

As Hurricane Fay made landfall an unlucky kite boarder either tried to save his kite or could not disconnect from it.  There is a crazy video of the kite boarder being thrown thirty feet into the air, slammed to the ground, and then thrown sideways into a building.  At the end of the video the guy was still alive but was on the ground wincing in pain as people stood over him.  I am sure he will not forget that ride any time soon.

Edward Jackson

About a year and a half ago, Edward Jackson left San Francisco to seek his fortunes tap dancing in Australia.  So I was very surprised to see Edward today standing around the cable car turnaround holding court with a few admirers.  He told me that he had been back about a week and is living somewhere on Sixth Street.  When I asked him if he would be staying, he said that he would be staying in the city for the foreseeable future.

"I need the community and the community needs me," he said as he packed his belongings.  Apparently I had missed his performance by only a couple of minutes.  It is good to see him, since I think the city needs more artists and street performers.  However, seeing him means that he did not do well financially in Sydney, Australia over the last year and a half.  I certainly hope that he prospers being back in the city.  I for one will do my part by giving a couple of bucks each time I see him.  If you like his dancing you should do the same.

Maria's Baby Our friends Maria and Francois just gave birth to a son, Dylan Pascal.  Dylan was born at 36 weeks and weighs just shy of 5 pounds.  Both mother and baby are doing well.

Big ups to Maria and Francois!

Very few people that live in their SoMa live-work lofts actually "work" in their lofts.  Most people just use their lofts as housing, rather than the art work spaces that were envisioned by the city when the lofts were approved to be built between 1998 and 2000.  Supervisor Sophie Maxwell is proposing charging loft owners that do not use their space to run a business to pay a penalty fee.

Some of the proposed penalty fees for individuals not using their lofts for "work" could be as high as $150 per square foot.  This would be a $195,000 fee assessment for a 1300 sq. ft. unit.  Wow, that almost sounds like a mob shakedown.  Somehow, I doubt that the city wants to shakedown 3,000 well-heeled loft owners in SoMa that could organize themselves into a class-action against the city. 

Let’s see how this plays out, but I doubt that the city is organized enough or has enough moxie to try this type of shakedown.  Trust me, I know a lot of lawyers that live in SoMa lofts and they are likely salivating at the thought of a class-action against the city to see who ultimately shakes down who.

It seems that when things get tough the tough get stealing.  At least that’s what a bank robbery suspect is claiming.  The man that stole $38,000 in cash last week, was chased by police, and then crashed in the 880 spewing money all over the freeway, claims that it’s the economy stupid!

I woke up this morning happy and looking forward to watching the Olympics for the next two and a half weeks only to find out that actor and comedian Bernie Mac died at age 50.  I remember the first time that I saw Bernie Mac on a Def Comedy Jam special and it was genius.  The most memorable line and the foundation of the set was "You don’t understand, I ain’t scared of you motherfuckers!"

By the third "You don’t understand" the audience was going crazy expecting the rest of the phrase.  It was almost a comic Pavlovian response.  He was crude, filthy, but his comedic timing and the cadence of his speech was unparalleled.  And most importantly, he was really, really funny.  A quick search on YouTube yielded the video of the Def Comedy performance (see below).  Bernie Mac you will be missed!

I have always thought that Paris Hilton is not as dumb and airy as she plays herself out to be at times.  After all, she is the daughter of a billionaire and has had a high quality education.  She certainly did a great job responding to McCain in the video below.  From what I hear, she did this video response in only four takes from memory, so take that McCain!

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die
Elf Ears Anyone?

This is serious nerdcore action right here.  This girl has chosen to surgically modify her ears to look like an elf (slide show after the jump).  Well kids, let me break this down for you.  Do not do this to yourself unless you are absolutely certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that you want to work at a cash register for the rest of your natural life.  Or in a circus.  Or in a stage production of Lord of the Rings.

I know it’s hard for you to imagine living another say 60 years or so, but please try.  Nobody will tell you this to your face, but you will be closing some doors by doing this.  But hey on the bright side, you will still look like an elf.  And nothing says hard working and reliable like an elf, right!?

I am sure that there are people that have made it to the higher echelons of corporate America with piercings, body mods, and even visible tattoos.  But remember that you will have to be a 100% bad ass to get there.  Otherwise, they will say, what else can you expect from an elf?  Please, don’t make things harder on yourself kids.

Remember that racism is still alive and that’s just among humans, let alone elves.

SF 94107 June 2008 Home Prices Despite plummeting values across the nation, 62 percent of homeowners believe their property’s worth has actually climbed or stayed the same during the past year, myself included.

Until I saw this graphic I thought that the home prices in my zip code were flat when in fact they have dropped 12.5% in the last year. Now keep in mind that my zip code is huge and I can still argue that the location of my home within 2 blocks of the convention center in SoMa has not dropped as much as the rest of the zip code, but it has likely dropped slightly and not remained flat.

Here is the link to the SFGate database where you could search the home price statistics for all Bay Area zip codes.

Unfortunate Greyhound Ad in Canada

This sign is actually all over Canada right now!
Yeah, this was a cool ad campaign until last week!

Greyhound’s new ad campaign, which has the tagline "there’s a reason you’ve never heard of ‘bus rage’," will have to be completely scrapped after the the bus rage incident that left one person beheaded last week.  The advertising signs are up all over Canada and will have to be removed quickly.  Wow!  Talk about unfortunate timing!  Some could argue that the killer was pressed to create a "bus rage" incident after seeing the sign.  Because you know, he’s f***ing nuts.  Oh, the sweet, sweet irony.

Last week, a man on a Greyhound bus went completely apeshit and stabbed a fellow passenger while other passengers fled the bus. He then proceeded to behead the dead guy and eat bits of his body while horrified passengers stood outside of the bus.  Really gruesome right!?  Well, this morning on the front of SFGate I saw this headline, "suspected bus beheader worked hard."

Oh, well then, (insert sarcasm here) he is just a suspect here let’s not jump to conclusions or anything.  Maybe the guy sitting next to him was snoring really, really loud and had it coming.  But it doesn’t matter, let’s just let him off the hook since he was such a diligent worker at his church!  Clearly, this beheader/cannibal had psychological problems that were not visible to those around him, since even his wife didn’t know what the hell was going on.  I bet the guy that was sitting next to beheader would have preferred that he not work so f’ing hard and concentrated more on just quelling his desire to kill.