FedEx apologizes for tossed monitor video

FedEx vice president apologizes for company after driver tosses computer monitor over fence

By Cary Williams

A FedEx senior vice president has fallen on the sword for the company, issuing an apology for the actions of a driver who tossed a computer monitor over a wrought iron fence, breaking it.

The incident was captured on video and the homeowner posted it on YouTube.  Since then, it has been viewed millions of times and was aired on television broadcasts nationwide.

“As the leader of our pickup and delivery operations across America, I want you to know that I was upset, embarrassed, and very sorry for our customer’s poor experience,” said Matthew Thornton III,Senior VP, FedEx Express U.S. Operations.

The homeowner, who did not want to be identified, was given a replacement monitor at no charge, according to FedEx..

As for the deliveryman, he’s no longer working with customers, according to a report on ABC’s Good Morning America.


The Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick demolished video

Brunswick church demolished

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Brunswick is no more.  Contractors spent the day Tuesday tearing down the walls and felling the steeple.

Church members were joined by passers-by to watch as the 126 year old house of worship came crashing down.

“That was our space and that is where we had our community life as a congregation and it is sad to see it go,” stated Rev. Sylvia Stocker, the congregation’s minister.

“For me, that’s where the loss is, ” she said adding, “all of the things that happened within the walls because without those activities the church wouldn’t be a church.”

“The real heart is in the people and the people’s experiences and we still have those that we can hold on to,” explained church member Michael Heath.  “We haven’t lost that.”

Back in June, an electrical glitch started a fire that gutted the church. The church has been a landmark in Brunswick since 1885. The congregation plans to build a new church on Pleasant Street.

They salvaged as much as they could from the old building, either to sell off or to use in their new home — including the church bell, stained glass windows, wrought- iron fencing and a weather vane.

Plans to build a new church at the same site are still being finalized.  Church officials hope to start construction next spring.

In the meantime, the congregation will continue holding services at the Minnie Brown Center in Bath.


Wrought iron and the Luxury Market

The Luxury Market Is Robust Despite Troubles in Lower Income Brackets


Pierre Buljan guided his black Mercedes S.U.V. around the winding roads of the Hillsborough hills and into Atherton, where the mansions of Silicon Valley technology barons hide behind thick stone walls, wrought-iron gates and tall, manicured hedges.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to

“These people have essentially infinite money,” said Mr. Buljan, who has been a Realtor on the Peninsula for more than 30 years. He pointed at a sloping four-acre property that included a large redwood grove with a private creek.

“If someone falls in love with a property like this,” he said, “the price doesn’t matter.”

Everywhere Mr. Buljan turned, a historic transition was under way. A generation ago, many of these properties were second homes for San Francisco’s elite families. These days, most are being bought, for cash, by international tycoons or the youthful leaders of local technology companies.

While the wider Bay Area has suffered, along with the rest of the country, with falling property values and rising foreclosures, the luxury housing market has remained robust, analysts said. That is especially true in Silicon Valley, where an arms race for talent among emerging social networking companies has raised salaries for executives and engineers, and a resurgent market for initial public stock offerings is creating hundreds of new millionaires.

Some of the sales are eye-popping. In March, the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, an investor in Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, bought a French-style chateau in Los Altos Hills for a reported $100 million. Some buyers have hidden their identities behind companies.

In September, an Atherton estate formerly owned by the great-grandniece of Levi Strauss sold for $53 million, while the home of Sue Burns, a major investor in the San Francisco Giants, was sold for $20 million by her estate.

“It’s going to take a while for the wider economy to recover, but there are enough people to make a difference at the high end of the housing market,” keeping demand high, said Steve Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, a think tank in Palo Alto, where the median single-family home price last week was $1,838,750.

Across the Peninsula, a small-scale building boom is under way as developers and wealthy property owners buy million-dollar homes, tear them down and build larger ones. Stroll down Waverley Street in Old Palo Alto, home to many Google executives and the late Steve Jobs, and you’ll see the ultramodern 6,000-square-foot house that Google’s co-founder Larry Page is building, rising from its foundation. Mr. Page’s mansion will also include a 3,500-square-foot basement that has been called a “bat cave” by neighbors. Analysts and builders said such high-end construction had been largely recession-proof.

“While the large number of foreclosures have created a significant inventory of homes at the middle and lower end and kept prices down, that hasn’t happened at the top end,” said Eduardo Martinez, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The high unemployment rate in the Bay Area’s construction sector has driven down wages and therefore the overall cost of building, said Leonard Mezhvinsky, a principal at Sieger Property Development. Meanwhile, the number of potential buyers for top-tier homes continues to grow.

“We are expecting Facebook and Zynga to go public,” Mr. Mezhvinsky said recently, “and that will create an instant number of multimillionaires.” Indeed, Zynga went public on Friday with a $1 billion stock offering. Facebook is widely expected to file a $10 billion offering early next year.

In anticipation of the onslaught of new multimillionaires, Mr. Mezhvinsky bought a single-family home on Ralston Avenue in Hillsborough in 2009 and demolished it. “When we’re done, there will be a 10,000-square-foot main house, and a loge,” he said. “There will be a six-bedroom house, seven full bathrooms and two powder rooms. There is a swimming pool with a Jacuzzi. There is a sauna and steam room,” and five fireplaces.

The new house will not be finished until July or August, Mr. Mezhvinsky said, but it is already on the market for $13 million, nearly four times what he paid for it. The buyer will probably pay extra to finish it to his or her taste, he said.

“What you’re witnessing,” said Mr. Buljan, the real estate agent, “is the next generation of superwealth.”


Original wrought iron design for luxury house

See what $4-million gets you…

The house at 79 Dawlish Ave. The home was almost entirely rebuilt, retaining the front facade and roofline of the original home, along with the original shutters, wrought iron details, house number and the front door.

What appears as a two-level home from the front stretches to three at the back where the land slopes away to a treed area.

The original wrought iron design of a sailing ship encloses a Juliet balcony over the front door.

The new millwork is most evident here, where Birdseye maple and burled walnut was used extensively for trim.

The main bathroom with a claw foot tub. The home has six bathrooms in all.


Villa Makassar & Spa in Marrakech

Destination Morocco: art deco out of Africa

Villa Makassar & Spa, which opened in Marrakech this year, is offering a special rate for Christmas and New Year.

Owner and art collector Fouad Gradia’s passion for the art deco era led to years of collecting pieces on his travels, which he uses in this project.

Five years of restoration involving local craftsmen and materials from wrought iron, marble and glass to lime plaster, and 10 rooms of wall paintings and sculptures, curved leather and chrome chairs, and authentic light fittings should satisfy the most avid art deco aficionado.

There is also a rooftop restaurant and Winston Churchill cigar and whisky bar, while the spa includes the obligatory hammam, as well as heated indoor and outdoor pools.


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