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Housing Boom Is No Bubble

Anytime a blog post or news story appears that cites the skyrocketing cost of Bay Area real estate, some readers in the online comments section point to signs of a housing bubble such as the one that burst in late 2008. What are the chances that the current run-up in prices will end in another crash, sending prices in many parts of the Bay Area plummeting, with some values in outlying areas dropping by one-half or more?

Italy's Pantelleria Feels Like Africa

When Europe starts feeling too homogenized, you head farther and farther south. But Rome’s too frenetic, so you decamp for Sicily, which has marzipan and Mount Etna but after a few days feels too big to be a proper getaway. Another southward leap, just a half-hour by air from Palermo, lands you on the island of Pantelleria. That’s where you know you’ve finally left the modern world behind.

Make Way to Monterey Bay

Too often relegated to a series of blurred images outside car windows zooming along Highway 1 between Monterey and Santa Cruz, Moss Landing perches on Monterey Bay’s easternmost tip. This overlooked fishing village—population: 200—is a gateway to the bay’s wondrous diversity, sporting more adorable otters than Monterey’s famous aquarium and a stronger connection to the land than all of Santa Cruz’s trustafarians combined. For the otters, head to Moss Landing State Beach (www.Parks.CA.gov). To connect with the land, simply look around.

Norwegian Air Simplifies Transatlantic Travel from Oakland

An interesting thing happened after Norwegian Air Shuttle announced that it would offer low-cost transatlantic flights to and from a handful of U.S. cities, including Oakland. The dominant air carriers on the route—Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines—ganged up against the upstart European carrier, complaining to the U.S. Department of Transportation that it was bypassing labor laws to offer cut-rate fares.

Oakland Triathlon Debuts in August

On Sunday, Aug. 30, Oakland will see something new. Over 1,000 triathletes in wetsuits will jump into the water from the revitalized Estuary Park and start swimming in the newly clean inner harbor. They’ll mount their bikes and loop downtown Oakland, and then run around Lake Merritt and finish their race in Jack London Square. Expected to rival the Oakland marathon’s energy, the first-ever Oakland triathlon may become one of the West Coast’s largest urban triathlons—showcasing the city and its emerging health-and-fitness culture. And seeded among the competitors will be dozens of athletes sporting the green, yellow, and gray racing kits of the Oakland Triathlon Club: the race’s ambassador club whose rapid growth seeks to give a populist vibe to an often-expensive activity.

Hospital Lifeline

Alamedans share their views on the new alliance.

Hope for Borrowers

During the last boom, financing a home loan was pretty easy, with buyers needing little or no money down to qualify for conventional loans. Then came the bust, and with it tightened regulations that required a down payment of 20 percent. Today the going rate is 10 percent down—still hardly chump change where Bay Area housing is concerned.

Blast into Placerville's Past

The stained-glass windows gracing the lobby in Placerville’s Cary House Hotel (www.CaryHouse.com) tell of wagon trains crossing the Sierra Nevada, prospectors panning for gold, and fruit orchards bursting into bloom. Placerville began with the Gold Rush. As the rush slowed, the farms and timber continued, but this foothills town, a two-hour drive from Oakland, never lost sight of its history. From its 1857 origin as a stage stop and Wells Fargo office, the Cary evolved into a cozy hotel whose guests enjoy wine-tasting and Wi-Fi amid quaint Victorian décor.

Can Coaches Thwart Teacher Turnover?

Whitnee Garrett is being tracked. Every step she takes in her history class at Roots International Academy is mapped. The 39 responses elicited from her students during a 20-minute span are recorded and tabulated. Her lesson plan on black history is broken down into segments, everything from the 15-minute introduction to the 15-minute class-ending group work. Just like game tape from an athletic event, every move is dissected and analyzed.

School Smarts Demystifies AUSD Classrooms

On a recent Tuesday night at Alameda’s Maya Lin School, 25 parents sit attentively despite being squished into small chairs. Instructor Gina Acebo stands at the blackboard under a rainbow, next to a column of international flags, and asks, “How do we increase face-to-face communication?”