Friday, November 23, 2012

boy on a mission

when i first moved to sf, my least favorite neighborhood was the mission. a friend of mine who had been living in the city for one year described the mission as "dirty, but with good cheap food". and that's how it remained in my mind for quite a while.

one of the first times i came to the mission it was in hopes to meet up with some friends for after work drinks. i was driving. that's the first mistake i made, but more on that later. so i'm driving. scouring the place for a parking spot. just before a 4 way stop sign i pull to the right and start texting friends for an update. as i'm finishing my text i hear a horn beep, there's an old accord with two thugs in the car beeping me to get out of their way.

there's no other car on the road (besides parked cars), why don't these jerks go around me? instead they feel the need to gently nudge my car from the rear before reversing to then go around me. that's right these assholes intentionally bumped into my rear bumper. i caught a glimpse of them passing me, both with open corona bottles in hand, the passenger swigged his as they drove past my window. welcome to the mission sucka.

i was pissed off, but i found a spot and tried to buff the new rear bumper blemish with some spit and my thumb. no dice. what jerks.

the next time i found myself in the mission was about 2 months later. again, after work i was looking for parking in order to grab a drink and possibly dinner with some friends. on mission street heading southbound i saw an open spot on the other side of the street, so i signaled to turn left at the next light in order to get that spot.

the light turned green and i started to u turn. all of a sudden some jerk in a red civic turning right pulls way too far into the intersection and blocks my smooth u turn. he was on the street that intersects mission street, going the same direction as i wanted to go. so he was at a red light turning right, and i had a green light doing a u turn. and yes, i made sure that a u turn on this intersection was legal before going for it.

so there i am, cock blocked by an overly ambitious right from mr. civic. now my u turn has to be a 3 point turn, so i reverse up slightly and BAM. the mini van behind me connects with my rear bumper. fuck!

we both pull over and get out of the car. the short hispanic woman driving has 2-3 young children and a 12 year old boy who could almost pass for someone who speaks english. the boy tells me that his mom says it's my fault and they demand my insurance pay for the damage to their new minivan. they call for backup, i assume a grown up who can somewhat communicate in english. they repeatedly tell me that they were heading home from church and that they had babies in the car.

hours pass (more like 15mins) and my phone is telling me via sms that my friends are drinking and waiting for me. i get paper to write down my insurance and contact info, and show them that they need to give me theirs. i hand them the paper, and they take it. when i ask for their info they shake their heads. are you fucking kidding me? give me your info so we can move on with our lives!! but somehow they seemed to think that things worked differently.

in the real world, both insurance companies are informed and those companies decide who's at fault and who pays what. these guys thought that they could just call my insurance and miraculously my insurance would fix their car at no charge to them. that was my first clue that i was in for a fun time.

so i called the police.
me: "hey, hi. i just got into a fender bender here on mission street".
dispatch: "if nobody is hurt a police cruiser doesn't need to arrive. just swap insurance info and go on your way"
me: "yea, that's the thing. i gave them my info and they won't give me theirs, they only speak spanish"
dispatch: "we'll send a patrol car with a spanish speaker"

it's been like an hour. a few white mission-hipster-do-gooders who think they are bilingual stop to talk to me and the minivan driver and her entourage. one guy was extremely sympathetic to the woman, and started grilling me, making sure that i didn't have anything to drink and assuring that i didn't break any traffic rules. who the fuck is this guy? go home! mind your own business dude.

the cops show up and soon minivan lady's face turns pale. turns out our mini van lady is not a licensed driver. in fact, she has no id. it is very possible she is not a legal resident. i told the cops that i'm over it, i have been standing here for nearly 90mins and i'm ready to go home. my friends texted saying that they are paying the bill and going home.

soon the spanish speaking cop explains to the mini van lady the situation. if she were to file a claim with my insurance, they would have to first prove that she was a citizen. after that was done, then they'd want to see her driver's lic, and they'd find that she was an unlicensed driver. at which point simply driving without a license made the accident 100% her fault.

he explained to her (and her entourage)  that if i wanted, i could make her world a really painful one, but she should take advantage of the fact that i just wanted to forget the whole thing and go home. she should be very thankful to me, apologize, return the paper with the information i wrote down for her, and quickly go without causing me any more pain. he told her that i was being extremely kind to her. i could see the remorse in her face, she knew she was being a punk and she was caught. she also knew she was getting off the hook real easy here, the only thing to show for her negligence was a dent in the driver's side of her new minivan.

she put her tail between her legs, and got into the van passenger side. her entourage also loaded the van and one of the men drove the van back. the officer apologized to me as well. "i'm sorry that you had to stay out here so long, these guys should be really grateful that you are willing to just let them go. you know cool heads always prevail."

that line stuck with me, and it has proven to be a very very useful piece of advice. "cool heads always prevail"

not too much later i sold that car and it's cursed rear bumper.

fast forward to present day, i live in the mission, and love it. i've been here for 2 years and have my own parking spot for a whopping $50/month. i ride my bike or walk to anywhere in the mission, and still greatly enjoy drinks with friends at the local bars nearby.

those first two mission experiences were tough ones, and if i wasn't forced into giving the mission a few more tries i may have never set foot back in this amazing neighborhood.

i have also often times repeated to myself that "cool heads always prevail" during times of anger, stress, or frustration. it's on par with breathing deep, counting to ten, or whatever technique people use to cool off a hot head. so far i've prevailed when i do keep cool, that lesson was well worth a dent and 90mins of frustration.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


i started working for my current employer on the very first business day of 2006. one of the first things new hires do is sign a thousand papers, the next thing is learn all of the benefits. one benefit that stood out to me was the ability to volunteer for 2 hours every week during the 40 hour work week.

did i hear that right? skip out on 2 hours of work once a week to go volunteer, sign me up!

i intended to find a volunteer-ship that fit me as soon as possible. 5 years later it finally happened. i had been working from home for over a year and realized that it was regular for me to go a few days without seeing anyone in person. i needed to get out of the house, and i needed to spend time with people outside of my immediate friends.

i applied to help out tutoring at risk 17-21 year olds at an organization located a few blocks from my house. the plan was to help students who had dropped out of high school study for the g.e.d. test. the g.e.d. is the equivalent of a high school diploma. the test is cut into five sections: math, science, reading, writing, and social studies.

the first few interns (they are called interns in this program) i tutored were unsuccessful, and ended up dropping out of the program or quitting the g.e.d. portion. the fourth intern i worked with was the first to sign up and take a g.e.d. test. he passed 3 of the 5, and then his internship with the company ended. and i didn't hear from him after that.

my next intern had already completed 2 of the tests, math and science. i worked with him for a few months and 2 weeks after our last tutoring session he texted me a picture of his g.e.d. certificate. shortly after, the case manager of my other intern texted me saying that he also passed his g.e.d. tests. upon hearing about the success of others that i had a slight part in gave me an unexpected feeling of joy. it surprised me how stoked i was for these interns, and how good i felt about it.

it started with a selfish desire to skip out on work, but soon turned into a very rewarding experience learning about myself and working to help others. right now i'm not volunteering, and i miss it. hopefully there's someone who needs my help in the next batch of interns.

Friday, November 16, 2012

kings of rap

on audiokarma, a forum i frequent, someone started a thread asking members to list their first album ever purchased.

for the life of me, i couldn't remember what the first album i ever bought was. but i do remember the first recording i ever owned, kings of rap. the compilation came out in 1985, and i'm thinking that i either got it for my birthday in '85 or '86, it's hard to remember as i was 6-7 years old then.

i'm not sure that tape was the reason that i spent from the late 80's to the late 90's loving what was then called rap. but i did listen to the tape so much that towards the end of the casette's life audible sound quality loss was very apparent, some would describe the tape as stretching from being played too much. who knows i was probably 8years old by the time the tape was tossed.

but i still know these tracks. in fact, years later when the notorious b.i.g. sang "remember rappin' duke, da-ha da-ha, you never thought that hip hop would take it this far". nobody i knew had any idea what this line was about. I had been playing my kings of rap tape over and over, with rappin' duke as my very favorite of all ten tracks so i was right there with biggie.

i lived and breathed rap music through high school, which ended in the late 90's. at least once a week i'd go to the warehouse music store, since they had the best selection of used cds and didn't mind that i was under 17 years old buying cds with the parental advisory explicit lyrics sticker on the front. if i could, i'd tag along with mom on shopping errands with the hopes i could sneak into a different warehouse music store than the closest one to my house.

maybe i do have kings of rap to thank for my hip hop/rap education.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

egg in a bag

i watched master chef david chang make eggs in a bag on his new pbs show [5 min marker]. so i figured i'd give it a whirl. the premise is to not let the egg sit on the bottom of the pot. this is the smart man's poached egg, at 185 degrees per mr. chang. i did one egg for 11mins, the other egg for 14mins. you can tell in the last picture that the whites on one egg are firmer than the other since it had been cooked longer.

i used the egg atop my kimchi fried brown rice with chinese sausage. lots of yolk action and deliciousness happening in that little bowl.