Hot Oakland Nights a Real Hoot


I HAD ONE of those surreal moments the other night. Coming home from a party about 1 a.m., I stood in the driveway to savor the night. It’s not often that I’m up that late, and the moon had this eerie red glow, which, I soon realized, was a lunar eclipse.

But what really struck me was the way the owls were acting. They were calling to one another with great urgency — “hooting up a storm,” as they say in some places. I listened intently for several minutes, before it dawned on me. I had a front-row seat to one of nature’s best productions — a light show with music from a chorus of owls. Do I dare call it — a WHO concert?

SAVVY SENIORS: Older adults are finding a friend in the tech world. She’s a teacher named Deborah Brooks, who runs computer classes for seniors at Piedmont Adult School. Reader Yvonne Byron takes classes from Brooks, and says it’s opened up a new world for her.

“Deborah was an ESL teacher first, which has helped her teach people a whole new vocabulary,” Bryon said.

Brooks wrote her own textbook and has another one in the works. And she makes house calls.

“She is tutoring an older lady who does not drive and who is learning to order groceries by computer now,” said Byron, who added that Brooks has taught seniors as old as 96. For more information, you can call Brooks at 510-531-2822 or find her online at www.yourpersonaltutor.com.

CRIME CONCERNS: The neighbors on Melville are on alert after a series of auto and home break-ins this year. In one case, a resident caught two teenage boys and an older woman breaking into his wife’s car (which was parked on the street). Despite his efforts to grab one of the guys, they got away in what was reportedly a stolen SUV. How do you protect your property? Police say it repeatedly — keep your car in a locked garage and protect your home with locks that can’t be compromised.

TICKET SHOCK: A while back, I wrote about folks getting $250 fines for stopping, even briefly, in the bus lane outside Cybelle’s Pizza. I had so many reader complaints, it seemed the county sheriff’s department was lying in wait for violators. Now there’s another hot spot for tickets — the red zone in front of Washington Mutual on Mountain at La Salle. It’s right next to a bank of mail boxes, so there’s plenty of temptation, but don’t succumb. Use the snorkel box at Mountain and Colton instead.

E-MAIL BAG: Thanks to Ed Schilling for telling me about a big concert March 17 and 18. It features a rather unusual instrument — a $1.4 million pipe organ that was installed last year at First Congregational Church in Berkeley. Add to that an orchestra and 100-member choir and you’ve got an amazing musical event. For concert times and ticket prices, call 510-848-3696.

ANIMAL TALES: You’ve heard of a tiger in your tank? Try a mouse in your engine. Two readers have told me they’ve had mice make nests under the hoods of their cars. In one case, a field mouse made a nice cotton bed in the wiring of a Toyota Prius. It took mechanics some time to pinpoint the problem but when they did, they removed the nest and repaired the insulation, to the tune of $5,000. An even bigger surprise — the warranty paid for the whole thing!

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