Oakland gets called a lot of things, but here's a little note worth repeating: real estate firm Movoto thinks we're the most exciting city in the nation. The firm says Oakland beat out 50 other hip cities to win the award. Take that, San Francisco.

What did Movoto consider? Things like the diverse population of young adults (high) and the number of big box stores (low) and important stuff like how many bars, parks, museums and movie theaters there are per square mile.

The question is, which came first, the young people or the bars? I'm going with the bars -- sort of an "if-you-build-it-they-will-come" theory.

One thing we didn't build is the water, which the Toronto Star sites as one of Oakland's strong suits. In an article this month the author wrote "Oakland's renaissance has some folks calling it 'Brooklyn by the Bay.' "

Something tells me we're better than Brooklyn. Don't they have something called snowplows that rumble through the streets until late spring? Here, we spent most of April working on our tans. Take that, Brooklyn.

Book it: If you enjoy Nancy Drew-type novels, check out this adult version by local author Kim Barnes. Barnes runs a training company in Berkeley and says "Murder on the 33rd Floor" is the first in a series of tongue-in-cheek corporate mysteries that she'll write. Where does she find the time to write? On her frequent long-distance flights, of course.

Classroom kudos: What makes an exceptional teacher? In the case of Montclair's Karen Hossfeld, it's her inspirational classes and mentoring skills that have helped her win this year's Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award at San Francisco State University. A mother of two, Hossfeld has been getting high marks from students since joining the faculty in 1988.

Animal tales: It looks like Montclair has free-range chickens. Folks near Moraga and Thornhill say three hens have been hunting and pecking in the nearby Pocket Park. Do the birds fly the coup or do they know to come home at the end of the day? In either case -- it's apparent -- these are no dumb clucks.

And speaking of birds, at least one baby bald eagle has just hatched in a nest inside Anthony Chabot Regional Park. The eucalyptus grove is restricted, but you can apparently see the nest with a scope or binoculars from three vantage points -- the dam, West Shore Trail at Alder Point or from a boat on the lake. You can also see video on www.ebrp.org.

You can reach Ginny Prior at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or at www.nyprior.com.