September 14, 2013

Smug techies commission uber-pimped pads

Want to read another self-congratulatory article about how much money everyone is spending in Silicon Valley? You didn’t? See you tomorrow, then!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader PK for alerting us to this important development that nobody at all saw coming.

Silicon Valley techies spur home building and remodeling boom

130913-svbuilding-lahBy Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News
POSTED:   09/10/2013 07:04:31 PM PDT | UPDATED:   3 DAYS AGO

Taking advantage of Silicon Valley’s robust economy, affluent techies are building or remodeling homes, transforming parts of the area’s older housing stock and fueling a boom for Bay Area architects and interior designers.

"The problem is finding time to sleep," said architect Roger Kohler, of Palo Alto, whose firm has more than 20 projects in construction or just completed in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton.

The tech workers range from midlevel engineers at startups or at tech giants like Apple (AAPL),Facebook and Google (GOOG) to older CEOs or founders selling their companies. Some are doing relatively straightforward, if pricey, remodels, while others are leveling old homes and building new ones with basement game rooms, large garages and the latest in high-tech features.

Catherine Jhung, a vice president at Cleantech.com, and her husband, Brian Buchholz, who works at Google, are including "a lot of the new technologies for green building" in the San Carlos Craftsman-style home they will soon break ground on. The existing home — which they bought seven years ago — was torn down. Construction bids are coming in at $270 to $285 a square foot, or about $900,000.

130913-svbuilding-steampunkThere really isn’t much to say about the article itself, although do check out the photo in the extended gallery of the steampunk bathroom pipes. No, once more the fun is in the comments.  Here are some we really enjoyed.

Oops here comes the haters. Techies forget they live in the bubble. Outside of the bubble, is the long lines of haters.

Wait, we live in a bubble?

This is the kind of Silicon Valley self-congratulatory stuff that is typical of the Mercury News. I can hardly believe that anybody smart enough to make that much money would be dumb and vulgar enough to flaunt it in print like this.

Yeah! Go hide your money in a Swiss Bank Account like we do!

Steampunk? 20 years ago we called it postmodernism. Don’t see any compelling reason to invent a new term when a perfectly good one exists.

You, my friend, do not get steampunk.  Then again, not sure the architect did either.  There’s a distinct lack of gears, valves, and, well, steam.  This looks more like the Rube Goldberg ball machine at the Tech Museum.

The final comment is our personal favorite, in reply to this section of the story:

130913-svbulding-exterior-lahTim Williams and his wife, Renee, both work in biotech and were "half looking around" when they found a lot in Los Altos Hills for sale on Craigslist. "We’re not in the 1 percent," said Tim Williams, "so it was a bit of a stretch for us."

CONTEMPORARY DESIGN

The couple lived in an old cottage on the property during construction of the 3,100-square-foot, contemporary home, designed by Bahi Oreizy and Mariela Pfennig-Mahmud of 360 Design in Los Altos. The new home is stucco, metal and wood on the exterior and has tile floors, under-floor heating and lots of south-facing windows to help sunshine warm the home in winter.

not 1% ??? bought a lot in Los Altos and put up 3100 sq ft home with heated floors? I got news for you, YOU ARE in the 1%. and your just too stupid to realize it.

I got news for you, when you call someone stupid, you’d better not confuse the difference between your and you’re.  Not that we don’t 100% agree with this, as we did stick the home photo in next to the text for some serious cognitive dissonance.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:02 am






May 14, 2013

Los Altos Hills Property Available at Full Price

Yesterday we featured a humongous three and a half million dollar spread on half an acre in San Jose. It was a block from the actual Rose Garden that gives the Rosegarden district its name, but still, San Jose. For three and a half million. Yeah, we don’t think it computes either, unless we want to talk Bay Area Bubble 4.0 some more.

Now, today’s property and its pricing won’t make your eyes pop out because it’s in the Real Bay Area! Let’s find out why it won’t sell!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for sending in this Real Realty Reject.

130513-francemont-redfin11860 FRANCEMONT Ave
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
$3,999,000

6 Beds
6 Baths
5,250 Sq. Ft.
$762 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 2006
Lot Size: 1 Acre
On Redfin: 387 days
Property Type: Detached Single Family
Stories: 3
Community: Los Altos Hills
MLS#: 81214828
Style: Mediterranean
View: Neighborhood
County: Santa Clara

Property available at full price. Fabulous nearly new 5250 square foot home in a quiet cul-de-sac location on 1 acre with easy access and outstanding quality. Excellent floorplan with a huge kitchen/breakfast/family "Great Room" opening to a beautiful backyard. Luxurious master suite. Guest suite on main floor. Excellent Los Altos schools. 6 bedrooms, 6 baths.

Upcoming Open Houses

Saturday, May 18: 2:00-4:30 pm

130513-francemont-gameFirst let’s check in with nomadic.

I sent this to a friend a few minutes ago before taking a good look at the listing copy and history.  This should go on burbed.  “Available at full price.”  It’s been on the market since November 2010 and went pending twice, failing to close both times.  The price has been raised at least twice in the past year – now up $700k from last April.

The icing?  It’s an REO.

130513-francemont-counterWell, it doesn’t say it’s an REO in the listing, but the history admits to a foreclosure back in June. June, 2010.  But still, compare this property to yesterday’s! It’s on a full acre instead of a half, it’s got an extra bed and bath, and it’s in the RBA! All this for just “not a lot of money” more! Yet it’s been a languishing listing for at least a year, and that doesn’t even cover all that time before it went pending twice.

Why didn’t this place sell? There are definitely homes in this price range on this street.  Maybe this comment on short sales from a local Realtor might explain things:

The only active short sale in Los Altos Hills, located on Francemont, has been on and off the market since 2006. While it’s a nice house, it has had many offers and still seems to be having trouble closing. It’s unusual for any home to remain on the market so long. In my opinion this is an issue with the bank and not the home.

And the owner of the home is… BAC Home Loans Servicing, through ReconTrust! Thanks a lot, B of A! We all know it really stands for Bunch of A-holes.

Bunus: Virtual tour guaranteed to give you motion sickness.

Comments (1) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

February 15, 2013

The Return of the Los Altos Hills Mystery House

We love it when listings rise from the dead canceled and return betteh than EVEH.  Today we have a house that already made one appearance on Burbed, so another one makes it so much more full of Win!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Dibber for unearthing this unabashed ultimate unavailable (yep, PENDING!) um…

130213-eastbrook-zillow11441 Eastbrook Ave
Los Altos, CA 94024
Pending: $2,499,000
Zestimate®: $2,507,171

Bedrooms: 6 beds
Bathrooms:6 baths
Single Family:9,300 sq ft
Lot:23,086 sq ft
Year Built:1992
Heating Type:Forced air

Description

HUGE CUSTOM CONTEMPORARY HOME W/2100SF ATTACHED GUEST HOUSE**PERFECT FOR LARGE EXTENDED FAMILY OR INVESTMENT RENTAL**EXPANSIVE LIST OF AMENITIES INLC LIMESTONE FLRS, CUSTOM FAUX PAINT, LRG MASTER SUITE W/ SITTING ROOM, GOURMET KITCHEN W/ GRANITE, WINE CELLAR/TASTING ROOM, 5-ZONE HVAC, 4FIREPLACES** TWO (2) CAR GARAGES INCL OVERSIZED HEIGHT FOR R/V/WORKSHOP**FRESH LANDSCAPING,ROOFTOP BALCONY!

130213-eastbrook-frontWe’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find out why Zillow led with the cabinet picture instead of the front of the house.  Now let’s check in with Dibber:

Or maybe it never left?  Winchester Mystery House, Los Altos Hills campus.   Check out the listing history.  Who says Silicon Valley is expensive.  I can get you into Los Altos Hills baby!  And only $269 per square foot.  I’m thinking listing mistake…Concord? 

 

130213-eastbrook-dungeonPerfect for the large extended family?  Honey, please show aunt Betty to the 2100 square foot guest house, but this time please keep her out of the wine cellar and off the roof deck.  And honey, the kids really shouldn’t be playing pick-up soccer on the 280.

Yes, ridicuously cheap.  Too bad Foothill College doesn’t have fraternities.  This place would would be perfect… traffic noise would drown out the party noise!

Wonder why this never got snapped up last time we featured it… And here it is all the way from 2010!  Remember this one?

130213-eastbrook-1009-reprise

Wow, has the unwitting seller finally dropped the price low enough price to find a buyer?  Or is this just a coincidence that prices are finally going up again?

130213-eastbrook-history

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 12:03 am

January 6, 2013

A New Mapping Tool that is Completely Useless in the RBA

We love real estate tools.  Maps are awesome.  Here’s a new one with the cute name Rich Blocks Poor Blocks that Burbed readers wahnny and Divasm both sent in this week when someone posted about it in Redfin Forums.  (No link, Redfin, until you resume trackbacks to our featured homes.  Neener neener.)

It’s a fairly good idea: take ACS income data for each official Census tract and show graphically how much they vary.  As they say on their main page, “See how much money people make in every neighborhood in every city in America.”  In theory you could use it to see how Special each part of the city is.  Here’s what it looks like when it’s working as the authors intended.

130105-blocks-chicago

Each state uses its own scale, applying the color key to its own income range.  In the case of Illinois, above, the deep red, lowest income is under $23,120 and the deep green, highest income is over $106,503.  There appear to be 20 different segments in the color key, although we think there’s far too much green and not enough in the red, orange, and yellow. 

130105-blocks-nj

Since these are Google Map tools, you can zoom in and out to your heart’s delight, but you can only map one state at a time.As you can see in in the case of New Jersey, above, this tool isn’t that useful with metros that span multiple states.  Fortunately, that’s not an issue even in the furthest exurbs of the Bay Area.

No, the Bay area has different issues.  See what happens when we map the core RBA.

130105-blocks-mountainview

Too. Much. Dark. Green.

The California income scale ranges from $28,183.65 to $122,762.90.  We hope you’re beginning to see the problem: the top 5% income for all of California seems to apply to an awful lot of Census tracts in the RBA.  Or even places that are NOT in the RBA. Like this part of Santa Clara with the Oracle campus:

130105-blocks-nsj

Contrast with an RBA tract we know is loaded: Los Altos Hills.

130105-blocks-lah

It’s the exact same shade of green, because the danged scale tops off far too early for the RBA.  According to this map, there is no difference between northeast Santa Clara and Los Altos Hills even though the latter’s median household income is 72% higher.

If a tract in the Triangle of Lost Equity can have median household income above 95% of California, Rich Blocks Poor Blocks in the Real Bay Area might as well be called Five Red Tracts of Suck Amidst A Sea of Deep Green Money.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

October 2, 2012

Los Altos Hills: More money, less effort

If you’re looking for a house, or simply enjoy looking at houses, sometimes you may think that they all are starting to look alike. (Well, except for yesterday’s featured folly.)  Today we find out it’s true, courtesy of Burbed reader Dr. Jim.  The doctor is in, and he wants this Los Altos Hills listing to say “Ahh, instant equity!”

27540 Sherlock Rd
Los Altos, CA 94022
$1,649,000

121001-sherlock-zillow-27540Zestimate® $1,655,794
Est. Mortgage $5,754/mo
Beds: 4
Baths: 3
Sqft: 2,056
Lot: 119,790 sq ft / 2.75 acres
Type: Single Family
Year built: 1952
On Zillow: 130 days
MLS #: 81219574
View Virtual Tour (opens new tab)

Private Retreat on 2.75 Acres with views out to the Bay! 2 level home with opportunity to remodel or expand. Wrap around front deck showcasing the view, paneled cathedral ceilings with exposed beams, spacious rear deck and patio with spa and fire pit. 4.2 kW solar panels (6400 kWh per year) supply much of the home’s electricity & heat the hot tub. Excellent Los Altos schools!

121001-sherlock-wtfSince we had to showcase one property, we chose the 540.  Any listing that doesn’t lead with the front of the house must have a problem somewhere.  It’s peppered with photos (like these) that we suspect are not to be found anywhere on those 2.75 acres.

Now here’s what the doc had to say about this precious pair of properties:

I’m still enjoying Burbed immensely.

121001-sherlock-la-highHere are a couple of listings in Los Altos Hills that use the same picture for the purported view.  Perhaps we should cut the realtor some slack because the street name is the same. 

However, he is looking at $100k in commission for these two babies, so I’m not cutting him any slack!  I think the street name is very appropriate, given my incisive powers of observation!

 

121001-sherlock--27223 121001-sherlock-27540

No ship, Sherlock! Click on either picture to observe the Zillow listings for yourself.  The photos are #13 for 27223 and #10 for 27540.  Also the former had a $100K haircut so far.  Just sayin’.

We note a couple other curiosities besides the matching photos (which may not be on either property).

1. According to Redfin, these properties are in Los Altos Hills.  But the Zillow entry states they are in Los Altos.  One of them rejects your realty and subdivides its own!

2. Speaking of Redfin, only 27223 is listed, and the duplicate photo has mysteriously been removed from the collection.  27540 is not to be confused with 27640 Sherlock Court. (which looks like it needs a big ol’ Burbed hug of its own someday).

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am

August 22, 2012

Time-tested Los Altos Hills listing dares you to overbid

A little less than a year ago we found an agent website listing ten big, expensive properties in the Real Bay Area (well, most of them were in the RBA). We dug in deep to see how the very high end market was doing as it began the fourth year of a prolonged economic slowdown.  Burbed reader Robert Dow recently sent in a Los Altos Hills luxe listing, and sure enough, it was one of the ten featured fabulous freeholds.  So let’s dwell on these digs in more detail.  To the Batmobile!

27040 Old Trace Lane
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
$19,880,000

120821-oldtrace-estately

120821-oldtrace-guesthouse6 beds
7 baths
14855 sqft
3 acres
1990 built
30 days on site
MLS# 81227454
Walk Score™ 23

Spectacular Estate situated on a Private Country Lane 3.39 acres (per prelim) Main House w/dramatic entrance salon, Library/Office, Family/Game Room, Theatre, Gentleman’s Bar, Exercise Room, Wine Cellar, Indoor Exercise Pool, attached 8-Car Garage, Generator, Well for irrigation. 2bd/2ba Guest House,Tennis Court pool and elevated spa; Terrace w/outdoor fireplace; firepit . Palo Alto schools

120821-oldtrace-libraryHere’s what Robert had to say when bringing this gem to our attention.

Saw this listing for a $19,880,000 home for sale. No idea if this a reasonable price, but the house is pretty spectacular. Is this the kind of listing you’re looking for or is there some other set of criteria? Thanks.

Who wants to tell Robert what the criteria are for a home to be featured on Burbed?  There are so many ways for RBA realty to win the Internet!  For example, this one’s got a MAWBUL KAWLUM even on the guest house porch!  And check out this “library,” where books are under glass.

Like any big, expensive, and mutli-acred mansion, it has a Virtual Tour.  Unlike most of them, it also has a Gentleman’s Bar (unclear if the strippers are included, consult agent for details before writing offer).  But most importantly, it has a history, although you’d never know that if you used the Estately page.

120821-oldtrace-masterFortunately, when we reviewed the Astonishing Webpage we filled in all those price reductions, so there’s not much more to add.  And Zillow has it all, anyway, even if Redfin and Estately used the memory hole (as well as the seller request to not link to its Zestimate of $17,227,396)

Listed: 3/17/2008 at $25,000,000
Price Increased: 4/26/2008 to $28,950,000 (+16%)
Price Reduced: 5/22/2008 to $25,000,000 (-13.6%)
Listing canceled: 9/20/2008
Relisted: 8/30/2010 – 12/27/2010 at $24,950,000 (-0.2%)
Relisted: 2/1/2011 – 7/11/2011 at $20,500,000 (-17.8%)
Relisted: 7/22/2012 at $19,880,000 (-3.0%)

120821-oldtrace-kawlumsOh, about that Zestimate.  It’s 13.3% below today’s list price, which disappoints us.  We had a theory that the Zestimate for any large, custom, hard-to-price estate like this would be exactly 15% lower than the current asking price (and if you don’t believe us, go back to the Astonishing Webpage and check all ten of them).

Anyway, the hapless seller has been chasing the market down for more than FOUR YEARS.  At what point will their price cutting finally hit the market bouncing back up?  They have to get lucky this year, there’s a couple of 8s in the price now! Oh, wait.  Facebook isn’t going to save the RBA after all.  Never mind.

Comments (5) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:10 am

August 5, 2012

Huge Charter School Controversy in the RBA (tl;dr warning)

120804-bullis-cartoonWe haven’t been shy about sharing our educational “reform” position with you: we distrust the charter school movement.  We believe they are a means for private corporations to strip school boards of their resources and teachers of their benefits by providing cut-rate education under the false flag of “school choice.”  After all, corporations exist to make a profit.  Would you really want your child’s education outsourced to the lowest bidder?  Of course not!  That’s why you’ll pay anything to live in the Real Bay Area!

Charter Schools’ Negative Impact on the Educational System

120804-bullis-protestCharter schools are being implemented all across the country, whether parents want them or not.  This is happening because some very wealthy people, not one of them with any education background, see this as a way to profit at the expense school boards and teachers unions.  Much of the current “school reform” movement has been taken over by tons of money from foundations from the Walton (Walmart), Gates (Microsoft) and Broad (construction and insurance) families and, of course, the Koch brothers.  These groups have completely derailed real school reform in favor of their plan to corporatize our educational system.

All that money crowds out real reform in favor of forcing charter schools, despite their lackluster performance despite their ability to cherry-pick students.  There are stories everywhere of neighborhood schools forced to close, fire all the teachers and administrators, and then reopen as charters, despite complete opposition from the affected teachers, parents and children.  Needless to say, this is most likely to happen where parents are not well-represented in the political system.  That is, this process is most likely to happen in poorer neighborhoods rather than wealthy suburbs.  Remember Waiting for Superman (which is, of course, pure propaganda)?  The Bay Area school in the film was in Redwood City.  And look at all the corporate charter schools that have popped up in Oakland and San Jose.

Click on through to find out what happens next.

(more…)

Comments (20) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

August 1, 2012

East Coast-influenced architecture in Los Altos Hills

Let’s continue our trip up and down the housing food chain.  Earlier this week we had a genuine crapbox.  Yesterday we had a mid-priced property in a neighborhood without a name (and it really says something for the Silicon Valley housing market that a million dollar property in an unremarkable part of San Jose is considered mid-priced at a million dollars).

Today we’re back to another Burbed favorite: the non-moving high end.  Thanks very much to Burbed reader Petsmart Groomer for this lovely landscape in Los Altos Hills.

12859 NORMANDY Ln
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
$6,195,000

120731-normady-redfin

120731-normandy-deckBEDS:  6
BATHS:  6.5
SQ. FT.:  7,333
$/SQ. FT.:  $845
HOA DUES:  $300/month
LOT SIZE:  1.21 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STORIES: 3
VIEW: Neighborhood
YEAR BUILT:  2005
COMMUNITY:  Los Altos Hills
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81216432
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
120731-normandy-poolON REDFIN:  90 days

This stunning custom home is a masterpiece of East Coast-influenced architecture. The main residence features, 5BR/5.5BA + wkout rm (could be 6th BR), private office, a Media rm, large recreation rm & sep wine cell. Darling 1BR/1BA gst hs. Gorgeous landscaped grounds w/ sparkling pool/spa, exceptional terrace w/ fireplace, outdoor kit. & fountain. Detached 3-car gar w/ large workrm. Close in location

120731-normandy-lawnOther than the mildly radioactive trees on the grounds, this housing tumor photographed nicely.  There is the matter of the $300 homeowner’s association fees, not something one expects with a six million dollar property. 

Wonder just what the Normandy Lane Association gives you for the privilege?  Maybe they send someone over every month to spray paint the sod this exact shade of green not otherwise found even on a golf course.

And the reason PG sent it in?  Location, location, location!

120731-normandy-satellite

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

July 6, 2012

Seller will finance w/ NO qual.

Here’s a little something to consider while another weekend is coming!  Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for this luscious listing in Los Altos Hills.

11195 HOOPER Ln
Los Altos Hills, CA 94024
$4,099,000

120705-hooper-redfin

120705-hooper-frontBEDS:  4
BATHS:  4
SQ. FT.:  4,700
$/SQ. FT.:  $872
LOT SIZE:  1.86 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
STYLE: Contemporary
STORIES: 2
YEAR BUILT:  1957
COMMUNITY:  Los Altos Hills
COUNTY:  Santa Clara
MLS#:  81217362
SOURCE:  MLSListings
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN:  57 days

Seller will finance w/ NO qual. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Private, Secure, Quiet, Serene, with City and Bay Views, and proximity to town are UNIQUE and RARE in this wooded ~2 Acres property. Update or rebuild the existing Comtemp. Style home in this Executive Estate. Detached cottage w/ Full Kitchen is ideal for backyard living/entertain w/ no direct visuals to any neighbors.

120705-hooper-kitchenAnd you thought the market was hot, hot, HOT?  Then what’s with this seller financing deal, w/ NO qual.  That’s probably short for “quality.”  Plus you can “update or rebuild” which means the “existing Contemp. Style home” isn’t exactly turnkey.  More like turkey.

There’s a virtual tour, if you really want to see how a 1957 house can be Contemp. Style.  Maybe that stands for the “contempt” the sellers must have, as they’ve been trying to get out from under this place since 2007.  Here’s the listing history, courtesy of Zillow.

Price History

Date Description Price Change $/sqft Source  
05/11/2012 Listed for sale $4,099,000 -14.6% $872 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Los Altos
08/07/2011 Listing removed $4,798,000 $1,020 Keller Williams Realty
05/06/2011 Listed for sale $4,798,000 -8.6% $1,020 Keller Williams Realty
08/14/2009 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 NRT California
02/25/2009 Listed for sale $5,250,000 $1,117 NRT California
11/15/2008 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
09/20/2008 Listed for sale $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
06/13/2008 Listing removed $5,250,000 $1,117 TourFactory
06/01/2008 Listed for sale $5,250,000 -0.8% $1,117 TourFactory
01/04/2008 Listing removed $5,294,000 $1,126
08/26/2007 Listed for sale $5,294,000 521% $1,126 Agent
10/08/1996 Sold $852,000 1.4% $181 Public Record   
08/19/1994 Sold $840,000 $178 Public Record

Wrap that up with a ZEstimate range of $2.68 to $4.09 M and maybe some Facebook millionaire will take it off their hands by 2015.

 

Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

November 6, 2011

Non-RBA Poseurs Not Priced Enough for Top 50

imageIn a previous article, we profiled the Northern California cities that hit the Forbes 50 Most Expensive Zip Codes out of 500 of those suckahs.  But we only care about the ones where the weather is nice, sushi is abundant, and you can get stock options without being the CEO.

These are the Zips that didn’t make the Top 50.  Forbes didn’t think they were worthy of home listing photos, so I had to dig them up myself.  And let’s remind Forbes about their messing up their detail data, what with every single DOM value set to 200.

Should any of these zips be allowed in the RBA?

#51: Los Altos 94024

  • imageMedian Home Price: $1,895,000
  • Median Price Change: -36.3%
  • Average Days On Market: 200 119
  • Inventory: 119 43
  • Rank in 2010: #18 (-33 spots )
  • Most Expensive Home: $5.5 Million (12445 Hilltop Rd)

Forbes avoided last year’s screwup with this zip by simply not admitting Los Altos Hills exists in 94024 this year.  Last year LA and LAH had identical data and ranks.  This year they screwed up by picking a property in Los Altos Hills as most expensive.  The most expensive I can find in Los Altos proper is this one (whose photo appears at right) at $4M.

And there’s plenty more, after the break!

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Comments (12) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am