May, 2012


The short answer is: 'No.' There have been a lot of lawsuits over the years against landlords by tenants claiming that their apartments were haunted; however, no one has ever won such a lawsuit. Whenever one of these lawsuits pops up, it almost always turns out that there is a professional 'ghostbuster' involved, someone egging the tenant on, and who stands to profit if the landlord is forced to pay for ghost removal.

The Amityville Horror. In 1976, George and Kathy Lutz claimed that demonic forces drove them from their home in Amityville, New York. A book based on their experiences titled 'The Amityville Horror' sold over 10 million copies. There were also 3 'Amityville Horror' movies. Many people suspected that the Lutz's story was a hoax right from the start. Many of the claims in the book were quickly proven to be untrue. William Weber, a lawyer involved in writing the book, later admitted that the story was indeed a giant hoax, concocted by himself and the Lutzes 'over many bottles of wine.'

The New Amityville Horror. All 3 'Amityville Horror' movies were all filmed in Toms River, New Jersey. In March, 2012; a couple rented a three-bedroom house in Toms River. They moved out of the house after living there only one week and are now suing their landlord. They claim that they endured a series of frightening paranormal experiences, including lights that turned on and off by themselves, unintelligible whispering, and a mysterious force that pulled at their bedsheets during the night. The tenants claim that their lives would be in 'mortal danger' if they returned to the house. Backing up the tenant's claim is Marianne Brigando, co-founder of New Jersey Paranormal Investigators. According to USA Today, Brigando says that her investigation shows that the house is the site of an 'active haunting', which is 'one level above a residual haunting.' She also claims that she has been communicating with the ghost haunting this house using a flashlight. She asked the ghost a series of questions which it answered by turning on the flashlight once for 'No' and twice for 'Yes.' The landlord has filed a countersuit against the tenants. A judge is expected to hear the case in late April or early May.

My Opinion. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that these tenants should be suing the ghost, not their landlord. Of course I could be prejudiced about this, being a landlord myself. Can you sue a ghost? How would you serve legal notice to a ghost that it is being sued? How would you collect a judgment from a ghost? These are questions for lawyers (with a lot of time on their hands) to ponder.

Is Your House Haunted? In case you were wondering, to the best of my knowledge, none of my houses or apartments are haunted. Many years ago, I rented a house to 2 women who hired a guru to check out their home shortly after they moved in. The guru told them that the house was 'radiating negative energy' and was inhabited by 'bad spirits.' He concluded that the house 'urgently required' a $500 exorcism, to be performed by him. My tenants expected me to pay for this, but I refused. I asked the guru: "Have you ever inspected a house and concluded that it did not need an exorcism?" He smiled and refused to answer my question. I could see in his face that he knew that I was not buying his act. As you can probably tell, I am very suspicious of professional 'ghostbusters.' If you want to see a haunted house, my advice is - go to Disneyland. The Haunted Mansion is my favorite attraction!


I was recently at an upscale kitchen equipment store here in Berkeley and was amazed by the number and size of electric egg cookers, All these machines do is boil and poach eggs. I may cover poaching eggs in another issue, but right now, let me cover how to boil an egg. This is not as silly as it may sound. A lot of people really don't know how to hard boil an egg. The 2 most common problems that result from doing it improperly are:

1.The yolk has a dark green ring around it and smells like sulfur and
2. The egg white sticks to the shell. When you peel off the shell, part of the egg comes off with it.
Both of these problems are easily prevented. Here is how to make perfect hard boiled eggs.

1. Start off with eggs at room temperature. Take the eggs out of the refrigerator at least one hour before you boil them. Do not boil eggs with cracked shells. Use those eggs for something else.
2. Put the eggs in a pot that is big enough to hold all the eggs in one layer. Do not stack the eggs.
3.. Fill the pot with cold water. The water should cover the eggs by at least 1".
4. Heat at high just until the water is boiling. Turn off the heat immediately and cover the pot.
5. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes if large, or 18 minutes if extra large.
6. Drain the water. Cool the eggs in ice water.

Tips: Don't overcook eggs. The greenish ring around egg yolks is caused by overcooking. It results when sulfur in the egg whites reacts with iron in the yolks. Overcooking also makes yolks crumbly and smell like sulfur.
Don't use very fresh eggs. It is easier to peel eggs that were in your refrigerator for a week before you boiled them. This time allows the eggs to absorb air through their shells.
Don't pierce eggs. If you own an egg piercer, throw it away. Piercing eggshells before cooking is unnecessary, and unless the needle is sterile, you could be introducing bacteria into the egg.
Don't microwave eggs in the shell. Eggs will explode in a microwave oven.
How to peel an egg: Gently tap the egg on a flat surface until the shell is cracked all over. Roll the egg between your hands to loosen the shell. Start peeling the egg at the big end under cold running water.


Why do so many companies make chocolates with bizarre fillings? Last year, somebody gave me a box of 'cigar truffles', chocolates with a light brown filling designed to smell and taste like cigar smoke. Yuck! I don't smoke, but even if I did, I don't think I would find this an appealing chocolate flavor. Last month, a tenant of mine gave me a 'Savory Ramen' chocolate bar that he bought in Seattle. The wrapper says that the bar contains 'ramen noodles, onion, garlic, and soy sauce' in dark chocolate. What kind of mentality goes into creating chocolate-covered Cup-o-Noodles? My guess is that they figured that filling a chocolate bar with something bizarre would get them noticed in a highly competitive market.

Marini's. Last summer, when I was at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, I saw a woman in a glass booth at Marini's enrobing strips of bacon in chocolate. She had trays of chocolate-covered bacon in racks that were stacked up to the ceiling. In my opinion, the best thing at Marini's are the fancy caramel covered apples. The employees will cut them up for you if you ask them to. That makes it a lot easier to eat them or to share them with others.


It is now a common practice in the rental business for landlords to run Google searches on applicants. I do that myself. I sometimes discover things that way that result in my rejecting an application. I once rejected an applicant after I went to his Facebook page and saw photos of him spray painting graffiti on the walls, doors, and windows of his apartment.

Did you know that the police frequently find and catch criminals by searching Facebook? Surprisingly, criminals often brag about their crimes on social networking web sites. Equally surprising, criminals often photograph themselves committing crimes with the intention of putting these photos on their Facebook pages. You know, there are a lot of dumb criminals in this world. Prisons everywhere are full of them. Here is a true story.

Anthony Prince and Luke Carroll robbed a bank in Vail, Colorado at gunpoint. Both were 19 years old. They got a little over $130,000 in cash. They were thrilled by their success, so as soon as they returned to their apartment in Denver, they took photographs of each other holding the loot. They then posted the photos on their Facebook pages in order to impress their friends back home in Australia. Here is one of the photos that Anthony Prince put on his Facebook page. Within minutes of the posting, policemen surrounded their apartment and arrested them. The bank robbers complained that the police should not have looked at the photos on their Facebook pages because they had not 'friended' the police. The judge disagreed. He ruled that the police can look at the photos on your Facebook pages even if you did not put the police on your 'friends list.' Both bank robbers went to prison. Anthony Prince has since written a 'how-to' book titled 'Bank Robbery for Beginners.' The book is published by Macmillan in Australia and sells for $35 a copy.

Mark Tarses

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