Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Top East Bay Restaurants

The San Francisco Chronicle just came out with its annual list of the Top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area. Of course, most are in The City itself, but they included 14 East Bay restaurants. Of the 14, several are old favorites of mine and others are now on my list to check out. Plus, they left off one of my favorites!

Of course, standard-bearer Chez Panisse is on the list, as well as other favorties like Oliveto and Bay Wolf. Here in Rockridge, they also included the wonderful A Cote and new kid on the block Wood Tavern. Both are great! Another favorite--Pizzaiolo over in the Temescal district--also made the list. One I will need to check out is the brasserie-style restaurant Flora in Oakland's up-and-coming Uptown district.

Now, over on Piedmont Avenue, they include one my favorites--Dopo. What a great place to stop in for a wonderful little pizza!

Also on Piedmont Avenue, they should have included the terrific Park Avenue Bar & Grill. Owner Chris VavRosky cooks up one of the tastiest burgers in town and mixes some mean drinks! Make sure to check them out!

Over on Berkeley's Solano Avenue, I was glad to see Latin small plate specialist Fonda was highlighted, as well as Mediterranean spot Rivoli. Down on Fourth Street, I will need to check out Japanese/California cuisine restuarant O Chame, as well as nearby Indian joint Vik's Chaat Corner.

Through the Caldecott Tunnel, it looks like I will need to go check out Va De Vi in Walnut Creek and Bo's Barbecue in Lafayette.

I love to eat out, so if you ever need a restaurant recommendation, just let me know. Perhaps I'll join you!

(photo courtesy of SFGate.com!)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lock Bumping--Home Security Concern or Urban Legend?

I've recently come across the phenomenon of "lock bumping" (also known as "key bumping") as a method used by thieves to break into locks. At our friendly, local locksmith, they even had handouts about lock bumping and what you can do about it. A quick internet search demonstrated, however, that it might be more urban legend than widespread problem.

Lock bumping is real, but the question is how prevalent is it. But, you are probably wondering first what the heck lock bumping is. It is a method that allows a lockpicker to easily crack nearly all common door locks. They just figure what caliber of key a lock takes, and then get a "bump key" or "999 key", which is locksmith lingo for a key with all the notches cut to the maximum depth of 9. The lockpicker inserts the key and taps it in a certain manner with a mallet to crack the lock and enter. Videos demonstrating the ease of this method have flown across the internet and local news stations like wildfire. You can check one out right here.

But many officials claim it is impossible to know whether a lock has been bumped or not and whether this is a widespread method. Few thieves have been caught i the act, and it leaves little evidence. In fact, a door that has been bumped and a door that has simply been left unlocked will look almost the same. The excellent urban legend website Snopes.com has a great report on lock bumping. They say it would cause a lot of noise, which would stop most thieves from using the method.

Should you be overly worried about lock bumping. Perhaps, if there has been a proven pattern of lock bumping in your neighborhood. Home security is always an issue, though, and you can always consider a a more secure lock. And, of course, if you have a home alarm system, you are already one step ahead. Consult with your own friendly local locksmith. Or let me know if you have any questions. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or MSmartt@jps.net.