Cliff’s Notes on real estate… May 2018

Posted on: May 18th, 2018 | By Cliff Keith | Cliff's Notes on Real Estate | No Comments

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Cliff’s Notes on real estate…

May 2018

Dear Friend,

May is the gateway to summer. It’s on the cusp of vacation season and that means there are a flurry of plans to be made ahead of your coming adventures. As your May heats up and life get busier, I hope you’ll take a breather to enjoy this month’s newsletter.

This month starts off with a story reminding us how powerful a simple smile can be. That leads to a wide variety of fun information, including:
• Learn how to make perfect caramelized onions, a delicious garnish for homemade pizza, or your first barbecued burgers of the season. Yum!
• A method for tracking the balances on your gift cards.
• Find out how to improve the respect you get from others.
• And see, scientifically, why some colors just make sense together!
• This Month’s Quiz that will challenge the smartest brain! A correct answer could bring you $30 to use at any Starbuck’s.

The pre-summer buying and selling season is also upon us. If you’re planning to buy or sell a house in 2018, then let’s find a few minutes to talk soon. It’ll help you get your plans ready. Just call/email/text so we can get together and make a plan.

Thank you. Don’t forget to enter This Month’s Quiz and give me a call!
Your friend in the real estate business,

Cliff Keith
650-346-7366 Cell/Text

A Mask Of Happiness

There once lived a man who was disliked by everyone in his village. He was surly and bad tempered. Passersby avoided him on the street. He had no friends and lived alone. One day the man visited the village elder to complain about how people treated him.
“I have a solution for all your problems,” the elder said, and he went to a shell and pulled out a common germ mask to cover the mouth. On the mask was printed a smiling face. “This mask may look silly, but it will have a magic effect on people who see it and it will transform your life.” The man sneered, but the elder continued. “All you need to do is wear the mask for one week. Nothing else.”
The man grudgingly agreed. He put on the mask and began the walk back to his home. Along the way, people smiled at him. Some greeted him with a friendly nod. Occasionally someone inquired about his day. At first, he just grunted at them. Then he started to say hello back. At his house, he had a pleasant exchange with his neighbor.

As the days passed, the man grew more astonished by the effect the mask had on others. Because of the mask, the man began to initiate greetings. The neighbor invited him to dinner. For the first time ever, he was making friends.
He returned to the elder to give back the mask. “I have been invited to my neighbor’s house for dinner and I’m worried. I will have to remove my mask and he will see my real face.”
“Tell me, what happens to your real face under the mask when people say hello, and wave, and stop to speak with you?”
The man thought and said, “I smile.”
“How do you feel when you smile?”
“I feel great!”
“Remember this fact when you have dinner with your new friend, and all will be well.”
~ Cliff

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  •  A Mask Of Happiness
     Be Wary Of Travel Scams
     DNA—A New Fad?
     Scientists Track Thoughts Through The Brain
     Perfect Caramelized Onions
     Energy From Temperature
     Keep Track Of Gift Cards
     “Can’t Get No Respect”
     Confirmed: Mess Causes Stress
     70 Is the New 30
     Some Colors Make Sense Together

Scientists Track Thoughts Through The Brain

How does a thought travel through the brain? If you’ve ever wondered that, neuroscientists think they have an answer for you, as reported on the Sci-News website. A team of researchers at the University of California-Berkeley recorded the electrical activity of neurons from the surface of the brain in response to a simple task like repeating a word. They found that the brain’s visual and auditory cortexes were first to react to the word, and then the prefrontal cortex interprets it and supplies its meaning. The prefrontal cortex then coordinates all the other areas of the brain involved in the response.

For a harder task, such as supplying the antonym of a word, the brain takes several seconds to reply, with the prefrontal cortex using other areas of the brain like memory networks. The researchers noted that the brain appears to prepare its motor areas to respond very quickly—even before it knows what the response will be—possibly explaining why people sometimes speak before they think.

May Quiz Question

Q: What is special about this series of numbers: 8591730
Everyone who texts, emails or calls in the correct answer by the last day of this month will be entered a drawing for a $30 gift certificate to Starbucks ______________________

April Question

Q: Which character is the first to speak in the original “Star Wars” movie?
A: C3PO.

Be Wary Of Travel Scams

If you’re planning your summer vacation, here’s some advice about how to avoid travel scams that will waste your money and ruin your holiday:

• Beware of offers that are too good to be true. Be leery of “free” trips or ridiculously cheap prices. If offered a “two-for-one” deal, a “free stay,” or such, make sure to find out what the deal really involves.
• Ask, and ask again. Get as many details as you can about each travel offer. Be sure you fully understand all the terms before agreeing to buy. Ask for specific names of airlines, hotels, restaurants, tour providers, or any other vendor mentioned as part of the package. Ask whether there’s a cancellation policy.
• Get all promises in writing. Consider trip insurance for additional protection, too.
• If you’re asked to pay in advance, ask to pay a deposit instead. Using a credit card is safest because of your right to dispute the charges if the services were misrepresented or never delivered.

DNA—A New Fad?

The number of people who have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy tests more than doubled during 2017 and now exceeds 12 million, according to industry estimates.

Genealogy services use DNA to tell people what continents their ancestors are from and to locate family members, including distant cousins.
Last week, the genealogy company, which is based in Utah, announced that it has tested more than seven million people. The company’s customer rolls exceed those of all competitors combined. The second-largest player, 23andMe, has tested more than three million, followed by FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage.

Most of those tested are in the US, suggesting that around 1 in 25 American adults now have access to personal genetic data—-a figure that could spur a range of new genetic analysis services, as DNA becomes a commodity.
For example, the sheer number of people who possess their own genetic data could spur growth in websites that offer to reanalyze it. Companies like Habit and Promethease will use the files to provide a breakdown of people’s diet or health risks–frequently with little oversight from regulators. There’s even a Harvard University lab scheme to link consumers’ genomes to a new cryptocurrency.

Perfect Caramelized Onions

Ah, ever-elusive perfect caramelized onions. Just last year, editors at set out to investigate the mythic beast. As they said, it’s not that caramelized onions are hard to come by, it’s just that making the perfect ones at home can prove challenging.

But to see how long caramelizing really takes—and what they look like along the way—the editors caramelized three onions (in 1 tablespoon of butter and stainless steel pans) for 15, 30, and 60 minutes over medium-high heat. Whenever the fond (those caramelized sugars that stick to the bottom) started to build up, they deglazed with a tablespoon of water, scraped up all of the flavorful bits, and started the whole process again.

As they cooked, the onion volume reduced dramatically (after 60 minutes, three onions had turned into about 1/2 cup of deeply caramelized onion goo); the color changed from yellowish orange to a deep auburn; and what was once-astringent and watery turned candy-sweet and butter-soft. With this method, there was no defying time (and no outsmarting patience). But then again, some cooks might consider the 30-minute pan to be caramelized to perfection.

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there. —John Buchan


(415) 805-6899


Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work. — Horace

Energy From Temperature

A team at MIT has created a device that produces energy by exploiting temperature swings between day and night.

Known as a thermal resonator, it uses a hybrid of materials that produce both high heat conduction and capacity. Effectively, one side of the device is always capturing heat while the other is storing it—you just have to harvest that energy with conventional techniques.

The initial device is tiny, and only produces 1.3 milliwatts of power. That’s enough for basic sensors. The device can also be changed to produce energy from other temperature cycles, like those in a refrigerator or a factory.

There are more than a few potential uses, especially if researchers can increase the power output. MIT has envisioned planetary rovers that can keep running for years. Thermal resonators could serve as backups for existing renewable energy: if a solar panel goes down, the grid could still have enough power to broadcast a request for help. It wouldn’t be an infinite source of power by any means, but it would be trustworthy enough that you could leave a device alone knowing that it always has at least some kind of electricity on tap.

“One of the most important universal truths is that to speed up effectively
you must learn to slow down.” ~Michael Gelb

Keep Track Of Gift Cards

Gift cards seem to have become the choice of many gift givers. They’re nice to get, but they can be hard to track. How much money have you spent? How long do you have to use it? Try keeping a gift card log, advises Sound Money Matters website. It can be as simple as a sheet of paper with four columns, listing the store, the amount originally on the card, the amount remaining after one purchase, and the expiration date (if any). For example:

Store Full amount After purchase Expiration
Joe’s Coffee Shoppe $10 $5.25 12/10
Jane’s Books $25 $17.58 Never

Each time you use a card, cross it out and start a new entry in your log until it’s finished. Now you’ve got an easy way to keep track of which cards are still good and how much you can still buy with them.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. —Carl Sagan

Fast Skillet Brussels Sprouts

These days when people think Brussels sprouts, they think about roasting. But what if you don’t want to wait 30 minutes for your sprouts to roast? Here’s a trick to cut the time by two-thirds. Try it tonight! (And by the way, it really is Brussels sprouts, as in “Brussels, Belgium.”)

Use smallish sprouts and start them in a cold non-stick pan. Forget about preheating your pan. Why? Because if you add the Brussels sprouts to a hot pan with hot oil, the outsides will crisp too quickly and the insides will never cook through. When you start them in a cold pan, however, the searing process takes longer and the veggies have more time to get tender. Here’s how you do it:

Add an even layer of halved Brussels sprouts to a nonstick skillet, cut sides down. Drizzle them all over with olive oil, cover the skillet, and place over medium-high heat. Cook until the sprouts are bright green (about 5 minutes), then uncover and continue to cook until the cut sides are deeply golden (about 2 more minutes). Season them off heat and voila! All that’s left to do is eat them. Done in under 10 minutes instead of 30.

Stop Your Phone from Draining Data

Phones can chew through data without you realizing it. Here’s how to reduce data usage:

1. Turn off “push notifications.” Go to Settings > Apps > Open each app and check/uncheck the box that says Show (or Allow) Notifications.

2. Change your Wi-Fi settings. Make sure some services run only over Wi-Fi. Go to Settings > Data Usage > Open each app and check the box that restricts app background data to Wi-Fi only.

3. Turn off video auto-play. Change your settings in individual apps like Facebook and Instagram so videos do not automatically start playing.

4. Data-based text services. If you are not connected to Wi-Fi, try not to use apps like WhatsApp, as it uses data to send text messages.

5. Beware of “free” apps. Free apps can often use up more data than the premium (paid) version, as they generally have more advertisements.

6. Manually close apps. Pressing the Back or Home button to exit apps does not fully close them. Make sure apps that use GPS (maps) and streaming (YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify) are fully closed. Each phone has a different process for this.

One of the most important universal truths is that to speed up effectively you must learn to slow down. — Michael Gelb

“Can’t Get No Respect”

According to Erika Andersen, contributor to, if you want people to respect you, don’t do these things:

Make it all about you: Some people seem to think that if they try to make the conversation revolve around them, others will see them as important and worthy of respect. This is not true and it actually has the opposite effect.

Make it not about you at all: On the other hand, being overly self-effacing doesn’t help, either. Avoid saying things like, “This probably won’t work, but…” or “We might not want to try this, but…” Instead, say “How about if we try…”, or “I wonder if it would be good to…” These sentence starters signal positive willingness, rather than uninspiring pessimism.

Dismiss other people’s ideas: By focusing only on the limits of someone else’s ideas–or how you can improve on their ideas, you’ll drive them away. They’ll avoid asking your opinion or respecting your decisions. No one wants to be constantly critiqued…even if the flaws are glaring or the improvements obvious.

Point out your invisible mistakes: Calling attention to your own flaws because your nervous that they stand out only makes them stand out. You can certainly grimace internally, but keep a calm straight face on the outside.

Send negative messages with your body: This is old news, but your posture conveys your sense of self-respect. If you don’t hold your head up, shoulders back, and look people in the eye, you’re demonstrating not only that you don’t respect them, but that you don’t respect yourself.

Expect respect without striving for it.  Avoid hiding out because of your own insecurities. As hard as it may be, if you back yourself into a corner, no one will invite you out again. You have to participate (while finding the balance between being too much and too little “you” centric) and contribute to gain respect.

Confirmed: Mess Causes Stress

A study carried out at the University of California measured stress hormone levels in 30 couples. Women who described their home environment as chaotic or messy had higher levels of cortisol, when measured at various points throughout the day. Interestingly, men seemed to be less affected by a messy, cluttered home.

Imagine me as your real estate consultant…

What I do for you is invest my time consulting, negotiating, and organizing the details of your transaction because I want you to have a superb experience that will cause you to want to introduce me to the people you care about most.

The purpose of my business is referrals, which means I must bring the type of value that makes you feel comfortable introducing me to the people you know that need my help.
I thank you sincerely, and so will the people you introduce to me.

Cliff Keith

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere. —Albert Einstein

70 Is the New 30

As people age into their sixties and seventies, there is an impression that they should have “made it by now.”

Yet there is ample evidence that people may not achieve their life goals until well into their upper years. For instance, “Colonel” Harlan Sanders was 65 when he began trying to license his chicken recipe, launching what would become Kentucky Fried Chicken.

These days, seniors often think less in terms of retirement and more in terms of “what else can I do?”

They’re starting businesses, writing first novels, and building empires—acting much more like tricenarians than septuagenarians.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

Some Colors Make Sense Together

Both science and and conventional color wisdom say that colors on opposite sides of a color wheel—complementary colors—look good together in your home decor.

The most common sets of complementary colors are red and green, yellow and purple, and orange and blue, derived from the Red-Yellow-Blue color model. If you use a different color model, you’ll have different sets of complementary colors. For instance, in the additive color model, the complements are green and magenta, red and cyan, and blue and yellow (IKEA, anyone?).

Complementary colors work because different types of cones (photoreceptor cells in your eye) perceive different colors of light. If you stare at a block of color and then quickly look at a white wall, you’ll see a light afterimage in the complementary color. For instance, if you stare at a blue square, after a while the cells in your eye that process blue light will become fatigued, making the signal they send to your brain weaker. Since that part of the visual spectrum is suppressed, when you look at a white wall after staring at the blue square, you’ll see a faint orange afterimage—the complimentary color.

So what does this mean for your decor? It means that combinations of primary and complementary colors are dynamic together. Choose a color model to start with, then pick one of the complementary pairs to decorate with.

When given an opportunity, deliver excellence and never quit. —Robert Rodríguez

Sleep? There’s An App For That

We use apps on our smartphones for all sorts of things, and there are some that will track sleep patterns. In a survey of 934 mobile phone users by the NYU School of Medicine, 28 percent of participants reported that they use a health app to monitor how long they sleep, what time they go to bed, and whether they wake-up in the middle of the night, as well as whether they snore, have breathing problems while asleep, or change positions.

Thirty-five percent of men and 20 percent of women reported tracking their sleep, and the average age of sleep trackers was 34. The most popular apps (of 24 named in the survey) were Fitbit (10 percent), Lose It (3.5 percent), and Apple Health (2.6 percent).

Use Social Media Responsibly

Here are some tips for both parents and children to follow to help create an atmosphere of positive citizenry on social media channels:

• Pause before you press “enter.” You leave a permanent footprint on everything you post, creating the likelihood it can resurface at any time and call your character into question later. Resist the urge to be impulsive, spread gossip, or promote hate.

• Apply the Golden Rule. You are what you post, retweet, and share. Ask yourself these three questions of anything you feel inspired to post: Is it true? Will it cause anyone harm? What is my motivation for posting this?

• Get/Give permission. Before sharing someone else’s photos or content, make sure you have their OK and ask the same of your contacts.

• Review your privacy settings. They are there for a reason—to limit who can access your information and how they can use it. You have locks on the doors and windows of your home to keep unwanted guests out; do the same for your social media profiles and feeds.

• Police the content that appears on your page. Not everyone is mindful of the content they post. Occasionally, that inappropriate material will make its way onto your social media feed, where it can be viewed by your contacts and misinterpreted as something you favor. Don’t hesitate to block contacts and remove posts from your feed if they are offensive.

This newsletter is intended for entertainment purposes only. Credit is given to the authors of various articles that are reprinted when the original author is known. Any omission of credit to an author is purely unintentional and should not be construed as plagiarism or literary theft.

Copyright 2017 Cliff Keith dba SF Bay Homes with Today | Sotheby’s International Realty. This information is solely advisory, and should not be substituted for medical, legal, financial or tax advice. Any and all decisions and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a qualified physician, attorney, financial advisor

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