Everybody’s guide to Small Claims Court in California

Preparing for my day in court to get the remaining $210 of my security deposit back from landlord Bill Newland. I rented a unit at 601 Minnesota St in San Francisco for 15 months. Bill thought that I didn’t stay long enough, and decided to dock me for repainting the unit, which is not allowable under California law. This book has some good tips on how to prepare for small claims court. Giddyup!
Update– this is a helpful book, really detailed. The 15 or so pages on security deposits convinced me that I had a case. I sent my demand letter (see below), and 5 days later received a check for the remaining $210, with a petulant handwritten letter from the landlord complaining that I was the first tenant in 13 years who had threatened small claims court. Thanks Bill! I’m the first tenant who stood up for herself? Glad to hear it. At any rate, no further need for this book.
**************
Received letter 6/18
From Bill: “…You moved in 3/20/04 with an $1825 deposit and moved out 6/9/05, approximately 15 months later… I know your circumstances changed but I was disappointed you moved out so soon as we have additional expenses to return the unit to rentable condition. My painter charged $210 to touch up and repaint areas of the unit… which I believe fair to charge you after such a short tenancy…”
My response 6/23:
“Dear Bill,
I received a partial payment of my security deposit from you and would appreciate your prompt payment of the remaining $210. You deducted $210 from the deposit to cover the cost of painting the unit. Since I did not paint the unit while I stayed there, I assume the paint job was to cover a few scuffmarks on the walls, e.g. normal wear & tear.
I moved into the unit on 3/20/04 and moved out almost fifteen months later on 6/9/05. The term of my lease was twelve months. I had my walk through of the apartment with Mike K., the building manager, on 6/9/05. Mike pointed out 3 areas that needed additional cleaning (top of cabinets, kitchen roof, bathtub) which I took care of that day. I was never informed that I was on the hook to pay for painting the apartment. Had I been told so, I would have purchased a small amount of paint for less than $10 to cover the few scuffmarks on the wall that your painter took care of.
Additionally, the receipt you furnished with your explanation of the deduction is suspect. The receipt states that the work was performed at units 202 and 218, and you have crossed through “202” in 2 places on the receipt, and have handwritten “218” to replace “202”.
Lastly, I put $200 worth of improvements into the unit by installing additional storage/shelving by the closet at the back of the unit.
Please send a check for $210 on or before June 30. If I don’t receive payment by that date, I’ll file this case in small claims court.”
From Bill, 6/28:
“I received your registered letter of June 22. You’re the first tenant in thirteen years to threaten to take me to small claims court… I do not wish to spend more time on this and am enclosing the remaining $210 of your deposit.”
Well, thanks Bill.

Continue reading “Everybody’s guide to Small Claims Court in California”

Zeno’s Conscience

Translated by William Weaver.
Started and finished this one in Mexico. I was driven to read this because of the drawings by William Kentridge on display at the Met– Zeno at 4AM.
Zeno a comic figure who indulges himself and lives a pleasant life.
Smoke: several thousand declarations of “Last Cigarette!” with the date and circumstances. Zeno tries to quit smoking, convinces his wife to lock him up for a cure, and immediately becomes paranoid that his wife & the doctor are having an affair. Locked in a cell, he begins drinking with his gatekeeper and slips out the jail when she gets trashed.
My Father’s Death: “15.4.1890. My father dies. L.C.” as in last cigarette. Zeno’s father waits up for him for dinner, and when Zeno gets home late, sits up with him. Zeno’s surliness is later regretted when his father ends up having an anurism that night. A doctor applies leeches to the father to restore him to consciousness, where he lingers for a few days, then reproaches his son, “I’m dying!” before crumpling to the floor.
The Story of my Marriage: Zeno meets Giovanni as he tries to learn the business world. Eventually making the acquaintance of his daughters, Zeno sets his sights on marrying one of them. “The idea of marrying may therefore have come to me from the weariness of emitting and hearing always that one note.” He falls desparately for Ada, who has no interest in him, and spends the next several months in daily visits to the house entertaining the 3 girls (Ada, Alberta, and Augusta) while the youngest (Anna) tells him he is crazy and will be locked up. After rejections from Ada and Alberta, Augusta agrees to marry him. Guido the slick violin playing suitor wins Ada, so the foursome chaperone each other in their respective engagements.
Wife and Mistress: life with Augusta turns out to be splendid, and Zeno loves her greatly. But then naturally continues to pursue other women, namely Carla.
The Story of a Business Partnership: probably my favorite of the sections. Details Zeno’s relationship with Guido, who has a mistress in Carmen, the business secretary. Fishing, hunting, and Ada’s illness that takes away her beauty. Guido and Zeno dream up plans for the business but their less-than great acumen nearly bankrupts the firm. Guido attempts suicide once unsucessfully, then once later on, sucessfully.
Psychoanalysis: Zeno wraps up his journal with some slings at the doctor who forced him to write it

Continue reading “Zeno’s Conscience”

The 20/30 Fat & Fiber Diet Plan

This is the diet that Larry King went on post-heart attack. Basic idea is that you can only eat 20 grams of fat and at least 30 grams of fiber every day. My copy has hundreds of recipes in the back to help you get started. Reducing your intake of fats to 20 or less does a lot to help you lose weight. Fiber keeps you full throughout the day so you don’t get hungry. Final component of the diet is moderate exercise– even just walking will do.

Continue reading “The 20/30 Fat & Fiber Diet Plan”

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Enjoying so far! Papua New Guineans smarter than modern European/Americans b/c genetically had to weed out the dumb ones (only smart ones can survive a society of tribal infighting, murder, wars), as opposed to Euro-US society where germs were the biological deterrent– if you had strong genes, you survived. Also throws in a jab at “passive entertainment” of TV, movies, etc. which doesn’t promote mental development.
***********
Finished this one in Mexico. Great combo of history, linguistics, and geography. Basic premise is that the conquering civilizations were dominant b/c of the natural resources they had at their disposal (plants prone to cultivating, large mammals that are domesticatable). Food production is the key to building civilizations. Then societies can specialize in having central government, professional warriors, inventors. Another key is that Eurasia was the largest landmass, so ideas travelled freely along the east/west axis where plants survive in the same latitudes. Interesting considerations of Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Some good stuff in the afterword about why Europe and not China. He also left some open questions, and outlined a plan of further study.
Recommended.

Continue reading “Guns, Germs, and Steel”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

160 pages in, I’m loving this story of 2 magicians who bring magic back to England in the early 1800s. A bit frustrated/disturbed by the footnotes– it’s a clever tactic, but I don’t want to feel guilty for skimming/skipping them, and I don’t want to miss anything if there’s good info in them. So far, I haven’t seen any info in the footnotes that is hilarious, or absolutely not-to-be-missed. My only regret so far is that it’s a bit too hefty to take on my flight to NYC next week.
400 pages in, I am swept up in this tale. Thankfully, Jonathan Strange arrived on the scene, b/c he is much more likable than his cohort Mr. Norrell, who wants to keep all magical secrets to himself. Norrell is pleased to be able to talk to Strange, but keeps a cache of books he doesn’t want Strange to read in his country estate. Occasionally he will reference one of these books b/c it’s hard for him to keep track of what books he wants to keep a secret from Strange. J. Strange help the Britons win over the French by means of paving roads, moving towns and rivers, raising Neopolitans from the dead. Lady Pope (raised from the dead by Norrell) is enchanted and exhausted by midnight dancing, along with her husband’s butler, Stephen Black. Norrell’s men, Drawlight & Lascelles, conspire to make trouble between Strange & Norrell. So much action! Only drawback right now is the spelling of “surprize” and “chuse” for surprise and choose. Not sure why she insists upon this spelling, I suppose to get that old English affect.
Now finished, all ~780 pages. Great storytelling! I am ready for more from Ms. Clarke!

Continue reading “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”

Pacific Mexico

Focusing right now on pages 364-474, since I’m going to Zihuatanejo next month. I can see this book getting a lot of future use as well.
***
Putting the book down now, post-Mexico. The Zihua section was not particularly good. Short on information and maps.
As for my own trip, stayed at Hotel Catalina in Playa de la Ropa in Zihua for a week. Hiked to Playa Manzanillo for snorkelling (also accessible by $40 boat ride) a couple of times, and took a boat to Isla Ixtapa for snorkeling on Playa Carey (VERY recommended). Sunset from the bar at Brisas Ixtapa one night, but that was the extent of Ixtapa for me. The rest was pure Zihua, some time spent in El Centro, walking along the beach from Playa Madera to the center of town, 2 pajaros verdes (parrots) lurking in the window of a bar along the walk. Walked the opposite direction to Playa Las Gatas for more snorkeling, beer and fish tacos. Car not necessary or very useful, although it did take me on an extended dirt road tour to Barra di Potosi, where I was the only one on the beach. Zihua a gorgeous bay, it would have been great to discover it years ago before the jetskis and parasailing invaded. Hay muchos americanos tambien. Es la vida.

Continue reading “Pacific Mexico”

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Max was born old and gets younger as he lives his life. Set in San Francisco, the writing is tolerable, but the storyline starts to grate on me. I probably should have finished this one before starting Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which was so bright and shiny that Max Tivoli seems dullish in comparison.
The last 50 pages were good– not a bad story overall.

Continue reading “The Confessions of Max Tivoli”

Blink

Just finished the hottest book on the market. Check out the envy I generated!
The always interesting Malcolm G. does it again with another book chock full of learning and ideas. The hype surrounding the book did somewhat dampen my enjoyment of it, but it was a positive experience (and quick read).
Intro chapter goes into the Getty/fake kouros incident from the mid-80s, when the Getty museum did all sorts of scientific and legal research on a statue they were buying for $10M. Logical thought said yes, this statue is real. However, art experts reacted differently to the statue, with intuition. In the blink of an eye, we can make snap judgements that are more valid than extended study decisions.
Second chapter goes into the idea of “thin slicing” reality– by looking at a thin slice of time, you can make judgements about quality of people’s relationships, teaching ability, etc.
Other notables from the book– the rogue commander in the Pentagon’s War Games exercise who didn’t go by the rules and thus sunk 18 of the Red Team’s ships before any shots were fired by the Red Team. After 2 days of sulking, the Red Team stripped the Blue Team of any power and played a scripted game which they won hands down, and then promptly invaded Iraq.
Also, Amadou Diallo in NYC, who made the mistake of standing on his stoop one night in 1999. Cops thought that seemed suspicious, and split second decisions led them to shoot him 41 times. They thought he had a gun, but he was only reaching for his wallet. Scary.
Cook County Hospital’s heart attack detection elements– less information allows you to make quicker decisions.

Continue reading “Blink”

Getting Things Done

Types of things to keep track of:
* projects list
* project support material
* calendar actions/info
* list of “next actions”
* list of “waiting for”
* reference material
* list of “someday/maybe”
Steps to get things under control:
1. Gather all out of place stuff into an inbox
2. Sift through, taking one item at a time. If you can take care of the item in 2 minutes, do it. If not, decide what the next action is & put in pending/delegate/trash.
*****
Now that I’m finished, I feel well prepped to tackle my own piles of mess. And I’ll try to read 43Folders more often (a site that sprung up out of love of Getting Things Done)

Continue reading “Getting Things Done”

I Capture the Castle

Awesome first sentence caused me to purchase this book from the green section of the rainbow-organized books at Adobe bookstore in SF.
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea-cosy.”
In the midst of reading it now, and have to keep reminding myself that it’s set in the 1930s. It seems to reach back much further in time than the 20th century.
Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmations.
*****
I finished this one last night; it was a whale of a tale, a gem, a fantastic book. Not sure why I’m stuck in catchphrase land, but can’t think of anything original to say to describe.
Two sisters, Cassandra (the narrator), and her older sis Rose, get mixed up in a love tangle with the new American landlords of Scoatney- Simon & Neil Cotton. The Mortmain family is barely eking by on a 50 year old lease of the castle that the Cottons inherit, the father wrote one famous book then crapped out. Cassandra tells the story to us through journal entries. Good stuff.
The only complaint I had was in the edition I was reading, at the very end when I was basking in the glow of a completed story, I happened to glance at the page after the end, which was filled with inane “study questions”, like “This was published in 1948. What do you think people’s reactions were then?” and “What does the title mean?” and “Why does Cassandra tell us the story through her journal?” The dispassionate questions brought me back to junior high school days when we actually had to answer those types.

Continue reading “I Capture the Castle”

Earth

Blah. It was a real struggle to get through this, and I confess to major skimming after page 150. I’ve read books that deal with the subject of geology that are presented in an interesting manner– this was not. Fortey attempted to lighten his tone by interjecting personal stories along the way, like his mule Buttercup, who took him to the Grand Canyon floor. Yawn.

Continue reading “Earth”

The Light of Day

Tom Peters recommended. I had a tad bit of trouble getting into it, but now am swept up in this dizzying dazzling story. George, the private investigator, falls for Sarah, a cheated on wife who has him follow Bob & Kristina to the airport to ensure only she got on a airplane and report back how the farewell went. Sarah kills Bob later that night. Interwoven stories, zipping back and forth in time. Helen is George’s daughter, Rachel his ex-wife who left after he was branded a crooked cop. The first spying he did on his dad, having an affair with Carol Freeman (mom of a girl he had a crush on).

Continue reading “The Light of Day”

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Vision
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Leadership
Habit 3: Put First things First: Principles of Personal Management
Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Interpersonal Leadership
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Principles of Empathic Communication
Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

Continue reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”