Thursday, November 29, 2007

The "C" Word

We recently found out that a very good friend of ours has cancer. It’s in her lungs and has spread to her spine. In an instant, her life has completely changed. Less than one month ago she was doing standup comedy, making people laugh. Now she can barely walk because of the medication she’s taking, she cannot drive, she has no appetite and needs someone to take care of her 24/7.

Cancer has probably affected everyone’s life in one form or another. My first encounter with the disease was when my mother died of breast cancer in 1966, when I was eight years old. They didn’t know much about how to cure it back then. She was in the hospital for at least two years before she died, and she wouldn’t let us visit her there. She didn’t want us to see her that way. I was so young I didn’t really know what it was. That was my first experience with the “c” word.

As we approach the big age of 50, more and more people in our immediate circle of friends and acquaintances are getting cancer. And the reaction is always the same. Everyone is hush-hush and doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s like the one who’s ailing is already dead. Friends cry and ask if there’s anything they can do, but in most cases there isn’t. And no one will say the actual word. They say things like “illness” and “disease” or stuff like “they’re battling it” or “going through some tough times health-wise.” No one wants to say the “c” word.

It changes the way you think about life when someone you know gets cancer. Since we found out about our friend getting lung cancer, I’ve thought a lot about my life. The other day, I felt a strong urge to tell my overbearing boss to kiss my butt. I have that urge almost every time we talk, but this time I almost did it. Yesterday I told someone the truth about something when in the past I would have avoided it or sugar-coated it. I’m taking longer walks with my dogs. I’m watching more cartoons. I broke some rather loud wind at the grocery store this weekend. I yelled at a phone solicitor who calls me every other day. I jaywalked. I even took that little tag off of my mattress, risking considerable jail time and a substantial fine. I don’t care anymore about the stupid little things that used to concern me. Life is too short.

And why is it that only nice people get cancer? Have you ever noticed that? A-holes and jerks don’t get cancer. Why is that? Does a bad attitude and an evil personality help to fight off cancer?

And now I’m getting paranoid about getting cancer myself. What’s that lump on my neck? Why won’t that little rash on my arm go away? Sometimes I get a sore throat. I have a stomach ache right now, in fact – probably from worrying about whether or not I have cancer.

What’s amazing is that most people don’t really know what cancer is or what causes it. All they know about the “c” word is that it’s bad and they don’t want it. So, I looked it up in Wikipedia and this is what it said: “Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells are aggressive (grow and divide without respect to normal limits), invasive (invade and destroy adjacent tissues) and sometimes metastatic (spread to other locations in the body.)”

Cancer causes about 13% of all deaths. Things like tobacco smoke, radiation, chemicals or infectious agents can cause cancer. Men are most likely to get prostate cancer (33% of all cancer cases in males); lung cancer (13%); bladder cancer (7%) or cutaneous melanoma (5%). Women are more prone to getting breast cancer (32%); lung cancer (12%); colorectal cancer (11%); or ovarian cancer (6%). Obviously, cancer is not picky and will attack any organ or part of the body at any given time.

Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or other methods, depending on the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease.

The most important way to treat cancer is to catch it early. That’s why regular check-ups are so important. I hate going to the doctor just like everyone else – but, you gotta do it -- especially after age 40.

What’s my point? I don’t really know. I just think people should be more aware of this disease and not so deathly afraid of discussing it. They need to stop dancing around it. Opening up an ongoing dialogue about the “c” word is the healthiest way to deal with it, I believe. One day we’ll hopefully figure out how to beat it, but until then, it’s here and it’s real.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Looking for Real Estate in the United Kingdom?

If you’re looking to move to the United Kingdom, the beat place to find a new home in the UK is at Welcome Home. As you know, my fiancée Angelina is from the UK, and we have talked on many occasions about moving there. I have never been, but she talks all the time about what a great place it is. San Francisco is a nice city – don’t get me wrong – and I love the Bay Area, but the UK sounds wonderful. If you’re looking for flats to rent in Liverpool, Welcome Home has reviews of the area, an interactive map and a table about property prices in the area. If you’re searching for flats to rent in London, Welcome Home has a very useful technically advanced property finding service showing properties for sale and for rent in any region of the UK. And if you’re browsing for houses to rent in Bristol – well, look no further, blokes – Welcome Home has an enormous list of more than 12,000 UK real estate agents, all of whom are more than willing to sit down with you and talk real estate over a cup ‘o tea and maybe even some crumpets. Welcome Home is THE site to be checking out if you’re interested in buying or renting real estate in the good ‘ol UK. Jolly searching!

It's Almost Yuckfest Time!

The Yuletide Yuckfest is this Sunday and I'm psyched. Here is the press release about the show. I am looking forward to seeing all of you there! Featured here are two of the comedians that will be in the show -- Jeff Applebaum and Carla Clayy.

“Yuletide Yuckfest 2007, a Comedy Benefit, to be held on December 2nd at Rooster T. Feathers to Raise Funds for local Toys for Tots

On Sunday, December 2nd from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale is hosting the 10th Annual “Yuletide Yuckfest 2007,” a comedy show benefiting Toys for Tots.

Comics Mickey Joseph, Brain Malow, Carla Clayy, Larry “Bubbles” Brown, Drennon Davis, Carla Clayy, Sandy Stec, David Van Avermaete, Beth Shuman, Jeff Applebaum, Host Hymie Laredo and many special guests will converge on the stage at Rooster T’s to make people laugh for a worthy cause.

Also featured will be music by the band “Chubby’s All-Stars,” with special guest Viv Savage, former keyboard player for the famous band, “Spinal Tap.” Admission is $10.00 and an unwrapped toy, or $15.00 without one. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Hymie Laredo, whose real name is Ed Attanasio, will host the big event. He sees the show as a chance for comedians to give back to the community, by providing new toys for those less fortunate.

“There is just something about giving kids toys that makes me happy,” Attanasio/Laredo said. “My niece needs a storage locker just to keep all the toys I’ve given her over the years. It’s the little kid in me. It probably makes me feel better than it does the children. I guess Santa Claus must be somewhere down the line on my family tree.”

The comedians featured have been on Comedy Central, VH1, David Letterman, the Comedy Channel, Nickelodeon, the Tonight Show, and more.

Rooster T. Feathers is located at 157 West El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, next to Goodyear Tires. Ample free parking is available. Rooster T. Feathers’ phone number is (408) 736-0921.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The New Home Theaters Rock!

The newest home theater phenomenon is just amazing. And as soon as I win the California Lottery I plan on installing one in my mansion. With all of the new cutting-edge electronics, Blu-Ray and the new HD plasmas and sound systems, home theaters have become almost better than real movie theaters, because they're more intimate, custom-built and designed, and you don't have to pay $8.00 for admission and take out a small business loan for a soft drink and some stale, over-salted popcorn. (Did you know that a lof of the movie theaters over-salt the popcorn, or actually put a little bit of salt into their drinks so that you'll stay thirsty and buy more -- it's true.) Check out some of the newest home theaters that are out there. You'll be hypnotized!

Oh, No Those Popups Got To Go! STOPzilla!

There's a great popup blocker out there called STOPzilla!, and it is the best of its kind on the market as far as I am concerned. I am SO TIRED of popups disturbing me and interrupting me when I am on the Internet. StopZilla does it all, because the people at STOPzilla! take security very seriously. STOPzilla! removes spyware; adware; popups -- it blocks fishing attacks; kills browser hijackers; erases history and they also provide FREE SUPPORT. Deal with those pesky popups and work on the Internet without any more worries. Check out the award-winning monsters of popup blockers. Check out STOPzilla! today!

Beware of the King of Non-Health Care: Kaiser Permanently

After watching Michael Moore’s film “SiCKO” recently, and reading a ton of stuff about Kaiser Permanente, I am quite frankly shocked and appalled at what I have learned. It’s not like I’m surprised. I have some first-hand experience with this HMO and it’s not pleasant.

A few years ago, my left knee started hurting. It was a dull pain at first, but then it got progressively worse, to the point where I was limping. I went to Kaiser, where I had my health insurance at the time, and after pleading with them, they agreed to take some x-rays. The doctor was really nice and advised me that if I wanted to get things like x-rays at Kaiser, that I would “have to fight for them.” She told me that she would help me navigate through the system so that I could get the care I might need. I was stupid enough to believe her because I was a rookie at the time and unaware of the ways of Kaiser.

After begrudgingly taking the x-rays, I got a call about a week later from Kaiser. My doctor told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the knee and that I just needed to lose weight. She said that she could refer me to a nutritionist and gave me the whole speech about how being overweight is bad for my health, etc. What she didn’t mention was that going to Kaiser for my health care was just – maybe even more – harmful to my health.

My knee continued to hurt. I lost approximately 45 pounds over a three-month period in hopes of alleviating the pressure and pain on the knee, but it just kept hurting. I went to Kaiser a couple more times and told them about the increasing pain, and they refused to take any more x-rays. When I inquired about possibly getting an MRI, you would have thought I was threatening their children. They told me emphatically and repeatedly that an MRI was out of the question and that I should just stay away from the pizza and pasta and go to the gym more if I wanted my knee to feel better.

Well, about six months later I changed jobs and my new employer has health insurance through another health car provider named United. United Health Care, although very adept at denying care just like Kaiser, seems to be a much better alternative. When I told them about my knee, they didn’t start crying about it being a pre-existing condition and promptly sent me to an orthopedist here in San Francisco. These people really know what they’re doing. In fact, my doctor used to be the team physician for the San Francisco 49ers football team.

My new doctors looked at my knee and took x-rays immediately. I didn’t even have to ask. When they looked at the x-rays that same day, they could plainly see that there was no cartilage left in the knee. It’s what they call “bone-on-bone.” It’s so thrashed that they can’t even fix it as is – the knee will eventually have to be replaced.

When they showed me the x-ray I was shocked. Could Kaiser have somehow misinterpreted the x-ray? Could it have been an honest mistake, I asked my doctor? He laughed – a 4-year-old child could see that my knee was wasted, he said. A pre-med student with one good eye would be able to tell that my knee was basically shot.

Since then, I have heard so many horror stories about Kaiser that I can’t count them all.
The place is not too bad when it comes to maintenance, but when you need something fixed – something that is going to cost them money – Kaiser will do everything in their power to make sure you don’t get it.

Their motto is “Thrive,” which I think is do blatantly dishonest that it makes me ill just thinking about it. Their tagline should be: “Thrive. And then Just Die. Really Fast.” (Because if you get a lingering illness or go into a coma, we will Deny, Deny, Deny)

You buy health insurance or get it through your company and you think you’re safe. But, you’re not. Because there are HMO’s like Kaiser our there who specialize in not providing you with the health care you might need. They give their doctors bonuses for denying care – and that’s a proven, documented fact. When they do have to give people the proper care, they call it a “loss.” That’s how they look at it.

And then, if they give you bad or inadequate care at Kaiser, you’d better not try to sue them. They will throw attorneys at you until you give up. That’s what Kaiser counts on – that most people will eventually give up. And the majority do.

The six children of Adam Wesley Arnold have not given up. When Kaiser euthanized their 70-year old father on September 11, 2000, they started a web site called Here you can read all the “Kaiser horror stories” that people who have been blocked from receiving quality health care (or any health care, for that matter) from Kaiser Permanente.

If you’re a member of Kaiser, or any other HMO that specializes in denying care, all I can say is pray that you don’t get really sick. Because you won’t thrive. You’ll just die.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The De Young Museum

I'm on vacation this week, so decided to finally visit the new De Young Museum. Whar a great building. Here are a few photos I took. They have a huge tower from which you can see the entire City.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Popcorn Machine in Your House? I'm in Heaven

With these new high-tech movie rooms and entertainment centers that people are putting in the homes, the movie theater has moved in the American residence. People have huge screens, theater seats and carpets, and popcorn machines. How great is that? You can make your own hot, fresh popcorn right in your living room or movie room. It's a good thin I don't have a popcorn machine in my house, because it I did, I would probably eat it day and night. There are some things in this world that make it worth living here -- and this is one of them!

Snowflake Decorations Can Make Your Christmas Tree Rock!!

Well, Christmas is almost here and next week we'll be buying a tree and decorating it. I finally got my wonderful fiancee Angelina to agree to let me get a nice Christmas tree this year. For the last two years, we've had this ugly, beat up Christmas tree that was so hideous that every time I looked at it, I got heartburn. We have a bunch of really great decorations, and I will surely get a few more, including some snowflake decorations. I love this time of season!

Friday, November 16, 2007

BONDS INDICTED! (finally.)

Barry Bonds was indicted on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday, striking a blow against baseball's all-time home run leader in his ongoing struggle against allegations of steroid use. The indictment, which many people felt was fading fast and would never happen, is finally here.
This is not just local or regional news, this is a report that has taken a spot on the worldwide stage. President Bush even issued a statement yesterday about the indictment. When was the last time you heard a U.S. President comment about a baseball-related incident? This is big, no doubt about it!
Bonds, 43, was charged with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction by federal prosecutors at a California District Court in San Francisco. These are serious charges and even more severe than many people anticipated.
Each of the perjury charges carries a jail sentence of up to five years, while the obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. (Maybe he and O.J. will be sharing a cell in a prison’s “Hall of Shame” athlete’s wing.)
The charges mark the end of a four-year investigation into whether the former San Francisco Giants slugger lied under oath to a grand jury probing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
It certainly constitutes a devastating end to what had been a magical year for Bonds, who passed Hank Aaron to become baseball's all-time home run scorer on August 7.
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who served three months in prison after pleading guilty to steroid distribution. Anderson, who’ll be forever remembered as a stand up guy for not ratting out his friend, was released from jail yesterday.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
A seven-time National League MVP, Bonds is the most central figure linked with grand jury investigations launched in 2002 against Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative - known popularly as BALCO.
Allegations and speculation of steroid use have followed Bonds for the last five years, questioning the legitimacy of the all-time records he currently owns.
Aside from his career homer record of 762, Bonds also holds the single-season record of 73 - a mark he established in 2001.
"This is a very sad day," the Giants said in a statement.
"For many years, Barry Bonds was an important member of our team and is one of the most talented baseball players of his era.
These are serious charges.
Now that the judicial process has begun, we look forward to this matter being resolved in a court of law."
According to the indictment, Bonds allegedly lied when he claimed he did not knowingly take steroids issued to him by personal trainer Greg Anderson, who was sentenced to prison for contempt of court on refusing to testify against Bonds.
According to a report on ESPN on Thursday, a federal judge ordered Anderson released to prison.
"During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes," the indictment read.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement early Thursday evening regarding the federal prosecutors' decision.
"I have yet to see the details of this indictment and while everyone in America is considered innocent until proven guilty, I take this indictment very seriously and will follow its progress closely," the statement read.
"It is important that the facts regarding steroid use in baseball be known, which is why I asked Senator Mitchell to investigate the issue.
"I look forward to receiving his report and findings so that we can openly address any issue associated with past steroid use.
"We currently have a testing program that is as good as any in professional sports, and the program is working.
We continue to fund research to find an efficacious test for HGH and have banned amphetamines from our sport.
We will continue to work diligently to eradicate the use of all illegal performance-enhancing substances from the game."
MLB Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr also released a statement addressing the indictment.
"I was saddened to learn this afternoon of the indictment of Barry Bonds," Fehr said in the statement.
"However, we must remember, as the U.S. Attorney stated in his press release today, that an indictment contains only allegations, and in this country every defendant, including Barry Bonds, is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until such time as he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Parts of this report were taken from and

Thursday, November 15, 2007

$168 Million? No One Wants to Be Like Mike Right Now!

Michael Jordan got taken to the hoop and slammed on like never before this week when his ex-wife Juanita scored a $168 million dollar settlement. Jordan made history on the basketball court and has now done it again in a different court. A winner in life but obviously a loser in the game of love, MJ erred when he evidently didn’t make Juanita sign a pre-nuptial agreement back when the couple tied the night in 1984.

What are these athletes and celebrities thinking about when they fail to get pre-nups? Are they crazy or just duped into thinking that their significant others won’t try to take them for everything they possibly can once the music stops? Haven’t they learned anything from the long list of victims?

And why on earth did this woman get so much? I never saw her playing for the Chicago Bulls, or doing all of the endorsements or making all the really bad animated films! I’m sorry – and I know a lot of women will disagree with me – but how is she in any way entitled to $168 million? To say that she helped him earn his money throughout the course of their marriage is laughable.

I’m not saying that Michael shouldn’t give her anything. Maybe $5 million and the house, that should be enough. But, $168 million? That’s ludicrous! And do you know who will be getting approximately 33% of that money? That’s right – the attorneys. What a joke.

Every man in the world is hurting for you right now, Michael. But, you brought this on yourself. Any chance of coming out of retirement or taking up baseball again, because I don’t think anyone is interested in making Space Jam II.

This appeared yesterday on Celebrity Stink at

Considered to be one of basketball’s greatest players ever, NBA legend Michael Jordan has agreed to pay his ex-wife Juanita, over $168 million as part of their divorce settlement, the costliest on record. It outsizes the former record-setting $156 million settlement singer Neil Diamond paid to his ex and puts the potential $64 million payoff in the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce stranded in the nosebleed seats. Jordan and his ex are still friends since separating in September 2006. The couple married in 1984 and had three children together. For such a potential financial bombshell, the couple kept their split relatively quiet. After attempting to reconcile, they finally agreed to divorce. She has custody of their children and continues to live on their estate outside Chicago. Even with this payoff, she is still only receiving about one third of Jordan’s entire wealth. Jordan has held the NBA record with 10 all-time scoring records, six NBA MVP awards and six NBA championships. Even though he has not held a basketball in over four years, he continues to wow marketers with his remarkable staying power as a selling icon, catapulting him into the financial stratosphere. Other astronomical divorce paydays have been Steven Speilberg’s divorce from actress Amy Irving with a $100 million settlement. Billionaire Revlon CEO Ron Perelman just keeps paying it out every time he changes wives: Wife No. 1 only got $8 million, but Wife No. 2, journalist Claudia Cohen $80 million, Wife No. 3 Patricia Duff $30 million and Wife No. 4, actress Ellen Barkin, $60 million. Actor Michael Douglas paid his –ex Diandra, $45 million and Titanic director James Cameron sunk Linda Hamilton with a $50 million settlement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Playstation 3 is Amazing!

I don’t play a lot of video games. For awhile, I was hooked on Tiger Woods Golf, but that was back in my bachelor days. If I played video games now, I think my lovely fiancée would be busting my balls on a regular basis. She already complains about the fact that I watch too much TV. But, the other day I saw some kids playing some games on the playstation 3 – and I was amazed and impressed by how far the video game technology has progressed. The graphics are amazing and the games are more sophisticated than ever.

A Great Web site for Contemporary Furniture

If you’re looking for contemporary furniture, there’s a web site called that you need to know about. We were looking for some furniture lately, and when we saw the stuff on this site, we got jazzed – their prices are awesome, the selection is huge and if you’re looking for contemporary furniture, take a look at what they have to offer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Need a College Essay Fast?

Okay, here’s the situation. You’re a student and you are loaded with homework. You have an essay or report due in a few days and you haven’t even started writing it. You need some custom writing right away, and you’re in a rush. Well, there’s a custom writing service out there that can help you out. They can write you a top-notch College Essay that will bail you out of your predicament. They will write if or you in 3-12 hours and give you 24/7 professional live support. These people are experienced UK writers. They also provide a free plagiarism report and unlimited revisions with each order. Get out of the tight spot you’re in and call them today!

Diamond Pendants Make Great Xmas Gifts for That Speical Little Lady in Your Life

If you’re thinking about a nice Christmas gift for your wife or girlfriend (or fiancée in my case), maybe you should consider diamond pendants. They make wonderful gifts, because they look very elegant and classy, but are really quite affordable. Rings, necklaces, earrings – sure, they’re all nice – but, most women have been there done that. Diamond pendants are different and will make your holiday season a gift-giving success!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Looking at a Luxury Home?

Now that the real estate market has leveled off a little, luxury homes may be more of a reality for you than ever before. A high-end luxury home like the one in this picture may be more easily attainable than you might ever imagine. You don’t have to be a rock star or a sports star to own a beautiful luxury home. A good real estate agent can help you explore the joy that a luxury home can bring you and your family.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Big Day in SF Politics: Newsom in Office. Jew in Trouble

Yesterday was quite a day for San Francisco politics. Gavin Newsom was re-elected as mayor and former Supervisor Ed Jew was hit with five more felony charges. One man’s political career is extended, while another’s is almost certain to end in disastrous fashion. Sometimes life is so ironic that it’s well…ironic!
Everyone expected that Newsom would win – pretty much because he ran unopposed. But, the news about Ed Jew is somewhat shocking. The allegations against him are extensive and far-reaching. The fact that this man was able to do what he did is astonishing. How on earth did he ever think that he could get away with it? Extortion? Bribery? Fraud? This is serious old-school corruption -- mafia-type stuff.
And to think it all started with stores that sell those bubble/tapioca drinks. I’ve been to the Quickly location in question and I love their smoothies and teas. Little did I know that the chain would be a launching pad for corruption and payoffs. There must be a ton of money in those drinks.
This article appeared this morning on
A federal grand jury added new felony charges Tuesday to the legal burdens of suspended San Francisco Supervisor Ed Jew, issuing a five-count indictment that accuses him of trying to shake down Sunset District businesses for $84,000 in bribes.
The federal charges - two counts each of bribery and mail fraud and one count of extortion - are the most serious yet leveled at the first-term lawmaker, who also faces civil and criminal accusations from local authorities for allegedly lying about his residence.
The indictment replaces a single count of mail fraud issued by federal prosecutors on Sept. 21. The central allegation of both sets of charges is the same: that Jew solicited $80,000 in bribes from the Quickly chain of tapioca drink shops, telling the operators that they were in violation of a city permit ordinance and would have to pay him to help with the process.
He accepted $40,000 in cash from representatives of the chain in May as partial payment, the indictment said.
"Jew would and did tout his own official power as a San Francisco supervisor to persuade business owners to enter into a paying arrangement with him and/or his recommended 'consultant,' " the grand jury said.
He was also accused of accepting $4,000 in cash from the owner of Wonderful Desserts and Cafe in April in exchange for his support of a new permit for the cafe. The payment was made three days after the City Planning Commission approved the permit, the indictment said.
"When public servants betray the people's trust for the sake of personal gain, they deeply wound the democratic principles upon which this society is founded," Charlene Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office, said in a news release announcing the indictment.
Jew's lawyer, Steven Gruel, said the supervisor denies all the allegations and will plead not guilty at an arraignment today.
"An indictment is not evidence of anything. It's nothing more than one side of the story, the side that the government has presented to the grand jury," Gruel said. "I'm anxious to finally get this case in front of a jury."
San Francisco prosecutors also have filed criminal charges against Jew in Superior Court, accusing him of nine counts of perjury and fraud for claiming a Sunset District home as his residence for voting and running for office.
In separate proceedings related to his residency, Jew was suspended from office in September by Mayor Gavin Newsom, triggering an investigation by the city's Ethics Commission into whether he should be removed from office. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a civil suit seeking to oust Jew. A conviction on any of the felony charges also would be grounds to remove him.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, a former deputy public defender, offered a resolution asking his colleagues to "adopt procedures which guarantee a fair proceeding" in the residency case. He said supervisors should refrain from making public comments about the case if the Ethics Commission agrees with Newsom that Jew committed misconduct, a finding that would leave Jew's status in the hands of the supervisors.
Gruel, who has complained about the simultaneous multiple proceedings against Jew, said Tuesday he would prefer to see the federal criminal case tried first.
Jew, the 47-year-old owner of a Chinatown flower shop, was elected to the Board of Supervisors from District 4 in the Sunset last November. Representing one of San Francisco's more conservative areas, he became a frequent dissenter in board votes and gained the nickname "Supervisor No" among City Hall staff. A former vice chairman of the County Republican Central Committee, he now is a registered Democrat.
The charges in the indictment, each punishable by federal prison sentences, are:
-- Soliciting $80,000 in bribes from the Quickly chain and accepting $40,000 in cash.
-- Soliciting and accepting $4,000 in bribes from the owner of Wonderful Cafe, who was not charged.
-- Using the U.S. mail to send documents related to both bribery schemes.
-- Extorting money from the Quickly chain "by wrongful use of fear and under color of official right."
The case surfaced publicly in May when FBI agents looking for evidence of bribery searched Jew's flower shop, his City Hall office, his declared San Francisco residence on 28th Avenue, and another home on Roosevelt Avenue in Burlingame.
Neighbors of the 28th Avenue house, where Jew was registered as a voter and a candidate, said the property had been vacant for years. City investigators who examined utility bills, insurance and bank loan applications and other records concluded that Jew lived in Burlingame with his wife and daughter and that his claim of San Francisco residency was a fabrication, an allegation he has denied.
In response to the federal search, Jew told The Chronicle at the time that agents were investigating $40,000 in cash he had accepted from the tapioca drink shop operators in the Sunset who had approached him for help with city permit problems. Jew said he accepted the money only because he believed it was to pay a legitimate fee to a consultant to whom he had referred the businessmen for help.
He identified the consultant as Robert Chan, a former City Hall legislative aide. In Tuesday's indictment, the grand jury said Jew told business owners their payments were intended for a consultant, who was not identified in the court documents.
The indictment said Jew extorted money from the Quickly tapioca drink chain by first telling an unnamed top city planning official in March about the chain's possible permit problems. After the planning official told him that the chain's stores appeared to be violating a permit ordinance, Jew told the store operators he would help them stay in business in exchange for cash payments of $10,000 for each of the eight businesses, the indictment said.
All Planning Commission decisions in the Sunset District "have to pass through me. This is my district," the grand jury quoted Jew as telling the store operators.
Jew accepted $40,000 of the money on May 7, the indictment said. An FBI investigator, in court papers, said the FBI had supplied the money. The investigator said Jew told agents at the time of the searches that he had accepted the $40,000 for someone else but acknowledged keeping $20,000 of it. The FBI search turned up $10,000 of that money at the Burlingame home, agents said.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More MLB Players Added to "Unnaturals" List

The MLB steroids scandal is growing faster than Barry Bonds’ head. Now it has been revealed that other prominent major leaguers, who up to now weren’t suspected of any wrongdoing, took performance enhancing drugs as far back as 2002. The allegations keep coming to light as more and more of these steroid peddlers are getting caught.
I have a feeling that this situation is going to get worse before it gets better -- as we learn more about who took steroids and when they took them. It may finally reach a point where all baseball records broken between 1996 and 2005 (to be known throughout history as the “steroid era”) will be erased from the books, because no one can be sure which records are tainted and which ones are legitimate.
It’s a dark period in major league baseball, there’s no doubt about it. Pretty soon, the question won’t be about who took steroids, but rather about who didn’t. Baseball should take these most recent allegations to heart and start being even tougher on steroids. If the problem isn’t checked once and for all, it could surely ruin this great game forever.
This appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle this morning and was featured as a front page story:
Former major leaguers Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez also purchased performance-enhancing drugs, in 2002, from a Florida anti-aging clinic that was raided in February as part of an investigation by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney into alleged illegal drug sales, the newspaper said.
Major League Baseball began testing for steroids in 2003. HGH was banned in January 2005.
Power-hitting outfielder Jose Guillen bought nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and human growth hormone from 2003-05, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.
The Chronicle received details of the players' orders in records from a source the newspaper didn't identify. Those records contained shipping and purchase orders, payment information, Social Security numbers and customers' birthdates, the paper said.
Guillen, 31, spent last season with the Seattle Mariners, batting .290 with 23 homers and 99 RBI. He split the 2003 season between Cincinnati and Oakland, and the Chronicle said business records indicate he had some of the drugs shipped to the Oakland Coliseum that year. He played for the Anaheim Angels in 2004 and Washington Nationals in 2005. Attempts by the Associated Press to reach him via cell phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.
Last week, the Mariners declined their $9 million option on Guillen's contract for next season. He has until Wednesday to decide if he wants to exercise his part of the mutual option at $5 million. If he does, the club can void the deal and pay him a $500,000 buyout. That would make Guillen a free agent.
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong told the AP the team remains interested in keeping Guillen.
"We thought he was an outstanding teammate. We were happy to have him. We know nothing about what happened in the past," Armstrong said. "I continue to admire and respect him greatly.
"Before I feel anything negative about Jose, I need to see something tangible or real."
Armstrong also said if Guillen exercises his option, the Mariners would need to investigate the allegations.
"I for sure would have to talk to Jose about this," Armstrong said.
Guillen just completed his 11th season in the majors. Records show he ordered more than $19,000 worth of drugs -- three kinds of human growth hormone, two types of testosterone and the steroids stanozolol and nandrolone -- from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center between May 2002 and June 2005, the Chronicle said.
Williams was a five-time All-Star during his 17-year major league career with San Francisco, Cleveland and Arizona. He was playing for the Diamondbacks in 2002 when records indicate he purchased $11,600 worth of growth hormone, steroids and other drugs, the Chronicle reported.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

This Week's Review: Siena Bistro in Willow Glen

There is a restaurant in Willow Glen that features some of the finest Italian cuisine that I have ever had. It’s called Siena Bistro and features Mediterranean food that is authentic and unique. We tried some of their signature dishes last night, and I can honestly say that everything we sampled was flavorful, well-prepared and expertly served. The place recently changed owners, and the new folks have really brought a positive energy and creative approach to the whole establishment. Siena’s new owner, David, is a seasoned chef/restaurateur who is well-known throughout the South Bay as a former co-owner of Hawg’s in Campbell, where he developed quite a following. At Siena, he has created an extensive menu of items that are equally pleasing to both the palate and the eyes. The restaurant is nestled slightly off the beaten path, on the backside of bustling Lincoln Avenue, but that makes it even more intimate and comfortable. With a beautifully enclosed patio and a spacious interior featuring earth tones and mirrored walls, Siena Bistro isn’t pretentious. It prides itself on being exactly what it is – a bistro with food that is prepared with passion. The other night when we visited Siena Bistro, we had the Scallops Salad (pan-seared sea scallops, orange segments, hazelnuts and mixed greens in a parmesan basket for $12.95/double scallops $17.50). The salad had a cornucopia of textures and flavors and was very fresh. The scallops were firm and slightly sweet. We also had the Cheese Tortellini with Smoked Chicken and Chantrelle Mushrooms in a Brandy Cream Sauce ($16.75). The tortellini was perfectly al dente and the cream sauce had a depth of flavor that was pleasing and memorable. Next up was the Herb Crusted Alaskan Salmon, which came topped with a Tuscan grape sauce ($21.75) and Warm Brie Salad, which consisted of mixed greens, candied pecans dressed with champagne vinaigrette ($12.75). I am so tired of the same old salads, so this one was a welcome change. I will surely order it during my next visit to Siena Bistro. Siena Bistro is located at 1359 Lincoln Avenue, in downtown Willow Glen. For reservations, call (408) 271-0837. They’re open for both lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Catering, bag lunches and take-out is always available.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dog the Bounty Hunter Hounded for using "N" Word

Dog the Bounty Hunter is the latest celebrity to fall victim to the “N” word. You would think that these racists would have learned their lesson after watching people like comedian Michael Richards and radio talk show host Don Imus bite the dust for using the word that can end careers and spark an enormous worldwide backlash in a millisecond.
Use of this six-letter word is an invitation to self-destruction. Now. A&E has taken Dog the Bounty Hunter off the air. Talks to bring it back any time soon aren’t underway. Duane “Dog” Chapman is in big trouble and all I can say is that racists eventually get what they deserve.
A lot of people had questioned some of Chapman’s behavior in the past. He presented himself as a devout Christian, yet swore like a longshoreman on many episodes of his show. He was also criticized for being too physical with many of the bail jumpers he captured.
Overall, I liked the guy, however. He took his job seriously, campaigned against drugs and volunteered a lot of his time talking at prisons and counseling inmates. He even won several awards for his outreach efforts and seemed to be a good family man.
Everything seemed to be going well for the bail bondsman/reality TV star until his son starting dating a black woman. Chapman made a phone call where he dropped several “N’ bombs and forbade his son to see the woman. Obviously upset over the whole incident, his son Tucker recorded the phone conversation and leaked it to the press.
Now he’s on the run himself, avoiding the media and devising a comeback strategy. Apologies are surely forthcoming, but will that be enough? One thing is for sure – this is one dog that has been neutered and lost his once-vicious bark.
This appeared yesterday on the Reuters web site:
A reality TV show starring celebrity bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman was pulled from the air indefinitely on Friday, two days after a private phone conversation in which he used a racial slur was posted online.
Cable channel A&E suspended production of the fifth series of Chapman's popular show, "Dog the Bounty Hunter," as the phone call was made public on Wednesday, but on Friday the network went a step further.
"In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take 'Dog The Bounty Hunter' off the network's schedule for the foreseeable future," an A&E spokesman said.
"We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun."
He said no decision had been made to cancel the program, which is shown in more than 10 countries, and the network will review the situation again in a couple of weeks.
Honolulu-based Chapman, 54, who says he is a devout Christian, has apologized for using the epithet "n-----" to describe a black woman being dated by his son, Tucker, and vowed to do whatever he can to repair the damage.
Chapman's lawyer was quoted in various media reports on Friday as saying that the conversation posted on The National Enquirer tabloid's Web site had been leaked by Tucker Chapman -- one of the crime-fighter's 12 children.
Chapman, a burly ex-con with long blond hair and leather wardrobe, rose to fame after his 2003 tracking and capture of Max Factor heir and serial rapist Andrew Luster in Mexico.
Media attention over that case led to an offer for a reality TV show tracking Chapman and his "posse" as they chase down people who skip bail and fail to show up in court.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Heather Mills Finding Out Her Life is a Hard Day's Night

What is it with the Beatles and their women? Many people have claimed that Yoko Ono led to the eventual breakup of the band. Anyone who has heard any of her albums must know she can’t sing. And now poor Paul McCartney is in a lengthy divorce case with his ex-wife.

Everyone associated with the couple has said that Mills is a star-chasing, money-grubbing leach who latched onto McCartney for money and fame, not love. Mills alienated many of McCartney’s closest friends with her rudeness and huge ego.

Now Mills is saying that she’s the victim. It’s pathetic, in my opinion. She’s backing off because she realizes that Paul has a lot more support in the media than she will ever possess. She’s been called out on her strong arm tactics and is now backpedaling at an alarming speed.

If everything that the press is saying about her is untrue, than why doesn’t she sue for libel? She could clean up. The fact is, it’s all true and the media has nothing to fear. Mills is exactly what many of us thought she was. No one is preying on her. In fact, if McCartney wasn’t such a good person, all of the truth about their failed relationship would really get out, and she’d really be getting some serious negative backlash.

The woman can cry all she wants, but I don’t see anyone running to her with a Kleenex. It’s a major case of what I call a “Karmatic snapback.” Mills created this situation and now wants to wriggle out of it because it’s become uncomfortable. But, that’s not going to happen, so now she’s threatening suicide.

Mills is my douche bag of the month, hands down. I can’t think of anyone more forgiving!

This appeared today on

Heather Mills, estranged wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, says Britain's tabloid media drove her "close to suicide" and wrongly cast her as a gold-digger.Mills appeared on British television on Wednesday to promote a campaign calling for a change in laws governing the media that would offer individuals greater protection, and asked viewers to visit Web site to sign a petition.

"I've had 18 months of absolute abuse," Mills told GMTV in an interview during which she fought back tears several times."They've called me a whore, a gold-digger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things."I've stayed quiet for my daughter. We've had death threats, I've been close to suicide ... I've had worse threats than a pedophile or a murderer, and I've done nothing but charity for 20 years," said Mills, 39.GMTV said Mills appeared on the show at her own request.Mills, who has a daughter Beatrice with McCartney, denied reports she had been offered a large financial settlement by the musician in what has become a bitter divorce battle."I have been offered nothing, OK?" she said.

"These figures are made up. 100 million (pounds), 50 million, 20 million ... How do you know if I even want any money? I'm 1-1/2 million in debt in lawyers' fees."The former model and charity worker denied reports she was holding out for the right to sell the story of her marriage to McCartney, 65, in the future."It's rubbish. I could sell my story right now. I'm trying to protect Paul and our daughter." The couple married in 2002 and split after four years.Mills said she had been the subject of 4,400 "abusive" articles and compared her situation to that of Kate McCann, the mother of missing girl Madeleine, and Princess Diana, who died after being chased by paparazzi."That is what we're doing as a nation, buying these newspapers," she told GMTV. "Every time you buy one of those you contribute to it. So force a change for responsible journalism."She said the "hate campaign" whipped up by some tabloid media put her and her daughter's life at risk."That's why I considered killing myself, because I thought if I'm dead, she's safe and she can be with her father."In a later television interview on BBC, Mills was asked: "Are you saying that Paul McCartney does not protect you and your child?" to which she replied: "I'm afraid not."McCartney's spokesman had no comment on the remark.