Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kepler's Mentions My Niece's Book in Their Blog

Source:  from Kepler's Books in Menlo Park

So the book I've just read about and want, really want to read right now is

Prophecy of Days by Christy Raedeke

Here's what the back cover says about it:

When her safe-cracker mom and code-breaker dad inherit a Scottish castle on the Isle of Huracan, sixteen-year-old Caity Mac Fireland is the only one in the family who's not happy about it. Ripped from her comfortable life in San Francisco, taken away from her best friend Justine whom she's known since preschool, and relocated to the dreary island fortress, Caity's secret fantasy of being discovered by a Hollywood agent, talent scout, or even just a pageant coach seems more unlikely than ever.

But when Caity stumbles across a hidden room in the castle, its walls covered in strange symbols, her life takes a bizarre turn. She finds herself center stage in an international conspiracy involving warring secret societies (complete with their own scouts, double agents, and assassins), the suppressed revelations of the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012, plus the fate of humanity. With the help of her friend Justine back home, and Alex, the mysterious and gorgeous boy next door, Caity must rely on her own courage and creativity as she races to decipher the code and reveal its message to the world before time runs out.

Sounds a book worth waiting for.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Borrone's is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Menlo Park

Our beloved Cafe' Borrone now has it's very own Facebook page

Go to Facebook and Search for Borrone's and click on the tab to join.

Call me at (650) 888-6628 if you would like to meet there for a coffee in the heart of Menlo Park!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Menlo College Named a “Best in the West” College by the Princeton Review

Source: Excerpted from the Princeton Review

Menlo College, "Silicon Valley's Business School," is one of the best colleges and universities in the West according to The Princeton Review. The education services company selected the school as one of 123 institutions it recommends in its "Best in the West" section on its website feature 2010 Best Colleges: Region by Region that posted July 27, 2009. The Princeton Review, reported that students are "roundly positive in their summation of academics at Menlo, students prize Menlo's "incredible faculty" and say that, "the student to teacher ratio is awesome." The "small class sizes" and "close-knit community" work in conjunction to "provide a unique experience that wouldn't be possible at a larger university."

Says Robert Franek, Princeton Review's V.P., Publishing, "We chose Menlo College and the other terrific schools we recommend as our 'regional best' colleges primarily for their excellent academic programs. We also work to have our roster of 'regional best' colleges feature a range of institutions by size, selectivity, character and locale. We choose the schools based on institutional data we collect from several hundred schools in each region, our visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of independent and high school-based college advisors whose recommendations we invite. We also take into account what each school's customers—their students—report to us about their campus experiences at them on our 80-question student survey."

"Menlo College is riding on a positive wave of great news," said President G. Timothy Haight upon hearing of The Princeton Review recognition. "With our three new majors in accounting, finance, and marketing, reaffirmation of WASC accreditation, plus the addition of several highly qualified—academically and professionally—faculty, we are producing the next generation of business leaders.

Monday, February 22, 2010

At Filoli, Opening Celebration — Daffodil Daydreams

Friday and Saturday,
February 26 and 27, 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
Sunday, February 28, 11:00 am - 3:30 pm

Delightful and dreamy, daffodils are the first to bloom and lead the floral parade each spring. From the smallest to the largest, whether planted in a formal flower bed or naturalized in a field, their cheerful annual display brings enjoyment to all. They are one of the easiest and hardiest of the garden flowers, giving you more with each passing year.

This year Filoli has planted more than 50,000 additional daffodils throughout the grounds and has been named an American Daffodil Society (ADS) Display Garden. An ADS Display Garden displays a wide variety of daffodil cultivars and educates visitors about daffodils and how the bulbs can be used effectively in the landscape.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mortgage Update

Source: Ken Mason, Mortgage California

Wednesday’s bond market has opened in negative territory following slightly stronger than expected economic data and a positive open for stocks. The stock markets are extending yesterday’s afternoon rally, but to a much less degree. The Dow is currently up 44 points while the Nasdaq has gained 12 points. The bond market is currently down 9/32, but we may still see a slight improvement in this morning’s rates compared to yesterday’s morning pricing due to strength in bonds late yesterday.

This morning’s first piece of economic data was January's Housing Starts. It revealed a larger than expected increase in starts and an upward revision to December’s starts, hinting that the housing sector may be stronger than thought. Rising starts of new homes indicates more sales or stronger levels of optimism by builders. But, this data is not considered to be highly important to the markets or to mortgage rates. It is the week’s least important data and has not had much of an influence on this morning’s mortgage pricing.

Also posted this morning was January's Industrial Production data. It showed a 0.9% increase in output at U.S. factories, mines and utilities that exceeded forecasts. That indicates a level of manufacturing sector strength that is considered bad news for bonds and mortgage rates. However, this data is considered only moderately important, so it has not hurt mortgage rates this morning.

The third event of the day will be the release of the minutes from last FOMC meeting later today. Traders will be looking for any indication of the Fed’s next move regarding monetary policy. They will be released at 2:00 PM ET, therefore, any reaction will come during afternoon trading. I am expecting some volatility in the markets after the minutes are released.

The Labor Department will post January’s Producer Price Index (PPI) early tomorrow morning. It measures inflationary pressures at the producer level of the economy and is considered to be an important measurement of inflation. There are two portions of the report that analysts watch- the overall reading and the core data reading. The core data is more important to market participants because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. It is expected to show an increase of 0.8% in the overall reading and a 0.1% rise in the core data.

Good news for bonds would be a decline in both readings, particularly the core data. Also tomorrow morning will be the release of the Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January. This Conference Board report attempts to predict economic activity over the next three to six months. It is expected to show a 0.5% increase, meaning that economic activity may rise in the near future. A smaller than expected rise would be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mortgage Update

Source: Ken Mason, Mortgage California

Tuesday’s bond market has opened in negative territory following strong gains in stocks. The stock markets are on the rebound with the Dow up 126 points and the Nasdaq up 23 points. The bond market is currently down 9/32, which will likely push this morning’s mortgage rates higher by approximately .125 of a discount point.

There was no relevant economic data scheduled for release today, so look for the stock markets to be the biggest influence on bond trading and mortgage rates the remainder of the day. If the major stock indexes remain near current levels, expect the bond market and mortgage rates to follow suit. If they give back this morning’s gains, the bond market may improve, possibly improving mortgage rates this afternoon.

The first economic report of the week comes tomorrow morning, but it is the least important of the three scheduled. December’s Goods and Services Trade Balance data will be posted early tomorrow morning. This report measures the U.S. trade deficit and can affect the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies, but it usually does not cause enough movement in bond prices to affect mortgage rates. It is expected to show a $35.5 billion trade deficit.

The two important Treasury auctions come tomorrow and Thursday when 10-year Notes and 30-year Bonds are sold. The 10-year sale is the more important one as it will give us an indication for demand of mortgage-related securities. If the sales are met with a strong demand from investors, we should see the bond market move higher during afternoon trading the days of the auctions. But a lackluster interest from buyers, particularly international investors, would indicate a waning appetite for longer-term U.S. securities and lead to broader bond selling. The selling in bonds would likely result in upward revisions to mortgage rates.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Flegel's Fine Funriture has long been a fixture in downtown Menlo Park. I think they have done a marvelous job of adapting to the needs and face of the community over the years. Below is an article from the hyper-local Blog, InMenlo, authored by Linda Hubbard Gulker. The photograph is by Chris Gulker, co-creator of InMenlo.


It’s nearly impossible to visualize downtown Menlo Park without including one of its most enduring fixtures, Flegel’s. That the furniture store has survived 56 years, including a major fire in 1983, is due in large part to the tenaciousness and vision of the Flegel family.

“My father was in the furniture business in San Mateo when he decided to go out on his own,” says Mark Flegel (pictured), who’s been running the business since 1984,
“He looked at different Peninsula communities and settled on Menlo Park. There was lot of construction going on and a lot of young families moving in, so it seemed like it had good potential.

“There were also 13 furniture stores within a five-mile radius! Advisers told him that he’d last only six months, that he was under-capitalized. History, of course, has shown otherwise. Flegel’s is the only one of the 13 left.”

To meet changing needs, Flegel’s has adapted over the years. As the surrounding community prospered, the store elevated the caliber and quality of the furniture lines it offered. It also innovated.

“My father introduced interior designers into the furniture store business,” recalls Mark. “Before that designers and furniture were always separate. He sensed that offering both in the same place is what the community wanted. That turned out to be very true.”

Flegel’s the store and Flegel the family are both such Menlo mainstays there is little that’s not known about them. But here are a couple of nuggets, courtesy of Mark: “Most people don’t know we have clients all over the world. We furnished the Chancellor of Education’s palace in Stockholm, which is located next to the King’s palace.

“There’s also a version of our store in Yokohama thanks to the interest of a Japanese businessman who came in one day. We have no interest in it but I think of it as a kind of branch office!”

Photo by Chris Gulker

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The State of the Markets

If someone were to wake up from a 5-year coma and ask about the state of our country’s economy, the chart below pretty much sums it up.

The past five years in the housing market, the financial market and the economy have been anything but boring.

With respect to the housing market, we are at a critical juncture. Pundits and so-called experts are lining up on opposing sides of the recovery debate. Optimists will point out that after historic price declines, affordability is at all-time highs and government support for the housing market has helped mitigate the negative effects of tightened credit and mounting foreclosures. The bottom, they say, is in.

Meanwhile, pessimists urge caution. Foreclosures continue to rise, more borrowers are falling behind and the government is considering removing some of the programs that have kept interest rates low.

Ultimately, both arguments have merit. But they both miss the point.

Take another look at the graph above. It’s no coincidence that during the time of most uncertainty in the stock market (2008), the housing market experienced its steepest declines. It’s also no accident that the recent bottom in stocks (March 2009) matches almost exactly with the turning point in housing.

The answer to the riddle is simple: Confidence.

In a new book called This Time is Different, economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart dissect hundreds of years of financial crises and try to assess how societies keep getting themselves into the same mess over and over again.

A common thread in the discussion, specifically surrounding debt crises like the one we experienced (and indeed are still experiencing), is the notion that confidence plays a far larger, and far less understood role in economic panics than most people think. According to Rogoff and Reinhart: “Economists do not have a terribly good idea of what kinds of events shift confidence and how to concretely assess confidence vulnerability.”

Since most people equate the stock market with the economy, swoons on Wall Street send the message that all is not well with our economic future. Accumulate enough of these swoons and confidence gets punctured to the point where people start acting differently. As risk aversion grows, consumers delay purchases, businesses delay expansion and banks stop lending.

In March of last year, the housing market was beyond bleak. Liquidity dried up and buyers were terrified. Ditto on Wall Street. But as stocks recovered through the spring, hope emerged that maybe the worst was behind us.

Now, as the recent surge in stocks is tested, so too will the surge in home buying: The two are far more linked than most understand.
This post first appeared in the February edition of: Cirios Trends: In Search of Real Estate Opportunities.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

House of the Week

Today on Tour...

This morning I had the privilege of seeing the home where one of my dear friends lived for many years prior to our meeting.

This fabulous contemporary home sits upon a beautiful forested setting in Portola Valley. Here you can entertain in grand style, dine in the tree tops!

The spacious rooms include a dramatic foyer, Family Room, enormous kitchen, Living Room, home office, 4 Bedrooms and more, all on 1.52 acres.

Please call me at (650) 543-1215 for a personal tour of this property.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Are you concerned about what High Speed Rail will look like in our city?

Do you want to see what designs they are considering?

Please join us on Tuesday, February 9th from 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm in Council Chambers at Palo Alto Civic Center (250 Hamilton Avenue) for a preview of the Alternatives Analysis for the High Speed Rail Project.

Representatives from the California High Speed Rail Authority will present a preview of the design alternatives that are being studied for the high speed train that is planned on the CalTrain right of way. We have been told there will be engineers on hand to answer technical questions.

There will be a period for public comment and each speaker will have 2 minutes. This meeting will be video taped and made available on the city's website for those who can't attend.

The Alternatives Analysis will officially be presented to the Board of Directors for the High Speed Rail Authority on March 4th. From that point on, the public will have 30 days to provide any official comments to the alternatives presented. We are hoping that the deadline for comments will be extended - but we are not sure, so please plan ahead.

It is very important that citizens get involved in the process and offer their feedback. If you do not comment, under the law your silence means you agree with the plans put forth 100%.

Please note, if you have comments for the High Speed Rail Authority, you will need to turn those in in writing in order for them to be part of the official record.

If you'd like additional information about this presentation, please contact Steve Emslie, Deputy City Manager at or 650-329-2354.

For more information, please see the City's website at:

If you have not yet seen the conceptual video that the Authority put out for Palo Alto, please see:

Other sources of information:

Official California High Speed Rail website:
Peninsula Cities Consortium:
CARRD - Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design:

Hope to see you there!

Nadia Naik
Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design

Rates at a Glance

Source: Mortgage California

30 Year Conf Fixed
4.875% 1 point

5/1 Conforming
3.500% 1 point

30 Yr Agency Jumbo
5.00% 1 point

30 Year FHA
4.750% 1 point

5 Year Jumbo
5.00% 1 point

10 Year Jumbo
5.375% 1 point

Rates are subject to change and are for illustrative purposes ONLY