[Travelogue] 7-year anniversary, living in SF

Seven years ago today I left Santa Cruz and finally moved up to my desired target of city-living, San Francisco. The city… as Eddie Izzard so aptly poked fun. It’s definitely my city at this point, the home to which a return is always filled with warmth; not to mention awe as I come over the bridge and see the city laid out along the waterfront before me. I feel the energetic draw of San Francisco, a major component of which is the sheer physical beauty of this particular urban landscape. It’s no joke (!); the general love so many people have for this space is understandable and right as I take it all in. I feel so fortunate to be here; here’s to seven more years!

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City College still needs help

In an ongoing, depressing campaign to keep minds learning, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is still appealing for aid from the public. They have now developed a pretty smooth interface on their own website from which to handle donations. Our bankrupt state has slashed out $630 million from the California City College System, which means a mere 1,500 classes have been cut for this year. If you have a spare moment and dime, consider helping out your local community college in order to keep classes open and minds learning.

CCSF Donation Drive for Fall 2010 Classes

Below is the verbatim message that I received from City College of San Francisco (CCSF), which is trying to make up for the shameful lack of prioritized resources by turning to their staff and students to raise the needed funds. On the line are classes and resources which arguably need to be saved. What are the political implications for a society that cannot prioritize higher education enough to keep minds learning? Depressing! But if you have five bucks and can afford to spare them, consider helping out your local community college:

TO: CCSF Community
FROM: Chancellor Don Griffin
RE: Donation Drive
DATE: March 1st, 2010
Today, in cooperation with the Planning and Budgeting Council,  we are embarking on a community-wide City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Donation Drive. If each CCSF employee and student donates $5 or more, we can raise over $500,000 – half a million dollars! All money collected will go directly to the restoration of classes and services at CCSF for the Fall semester.
Please consider making a donation of whatever you can. Each donation matters. A little from each can make a big difference for all. Hundreds of us have already begun to donate. Please join us in this effort!
We will tally the donations weekly and keep you posted on our progress.
HOW TO DONATE?
Drop cash donations in one of our donation boxes at the Ocean Campus Bookstore or Cafeteria (we plan to expand to other campuses in the future). Or  you can mail a check payable to City College (subject reference: Restore Classes Fund) and send to:
City College of San Francisco — Bursar
50 Phelan Ave. Box E103
San Francisco, CA 94112
For more information, please email ccsfsave@ccsf.edu

Muni service changes came Saturday 12/5/09

Castro Muni Station

Remember public transit users in San Francisco: this past Saturday, December 5th The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, or SFMTA, or commonly referred to as Muni, changed its service schedule in order to accommodate certain budget crises. In a letter from Tom Nolan (Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors) and Nathaniel P. Ford Sr. (Executive Director/CEO), we were assured this change in service was due to the larger global meltdown of the capitalist world order, and in fact, only half of the bus lines are being affected at all! Lesser used lines  saw capacity cut, while busier corridors had service boosted, which seems to make sense. We were also reminded that the changes were meticulously planned using input from the Transit Effectiveness Project, with the sage assistance of both the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.

So nothing to worry about? With an ever increasing individual ride fare, not to mention price of fast-passes, we have to wonder what the long term trajectory of Muni’s service is going to offer us as riders. Will the system still serve your needs? Coming off a period of accidents and poor press, Muni can ill-afford to incite any more severe distaste.

Many of the major cross-town lines went unchanged, like the 14 Mission, the 24 Divisadero, and the 43 Masonic. The 38 Geary however was trimmed down a bit in the Outer Sunset, but its express lines remain intact. Many lines had some alteration made, including eliminated segments and reduced hours of service. It seems along busier corridors, some lines have had their frequency and service hours increased. However, this may be due to the need to cover what are now completely discontinued lines. Goodbye to the: 4 Sutter, 7 Haight, 20 Columbus, 26 Valencia (this bus really never seemed to come anyway), 53 Southern Heights, and 89 Laguna Honda. Farewell bus lines! I will miss the 7 Haight, which often took me between my place in the Haight and work downtown.

Here is a chart that fully describes the changes to each line, ordered conveniently by the number of the bus route. Safe travels as you ride Muni.

Riding the bus in an age of transparency

Being an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, I am always trying to engage my students on relative topics in a contextual form, and I have an abundant amount of materials with which to work. Recently we have been discussing the usage of mobile phones based on a chapter of our text book. We discussed in which locations and situations they are either appropriate or not to use. One scenario seems to be a source of mixed opinions not only for international students, but also the citizens of San Francisco: riding the bus. In using MUNI as my main means of transit around this fair city, one will notice that people act in a variety of ways. I personally get off my phone before boarding the bus, or sometimes will chat quietly if the bus is relatively uncrowded. Some people seem to follow a similar, simple method: speak discretely or stick to texting. However, there is also a wide range of people within a spectrum of folks who speak quite loudly and openly on their phones, with some sort of consciousness that the other passengers are then privy to this form of communication, thus engaged on some level. People talking about their family drama, about their favorite TV show, about their day… talking to someone but certainly nobody on the bus. Internationally, we seem to be working with this concept of how much space we are taking up while in each others space. Everyone is privy to details, as long as they are tied to some electronic medium. Some people still keep it wide open without the phone or the blog the social networking page. The other day on the #7 Haight Inbound (soon to be discontinued as of 12/05/09, goodbye busline!) a young woman and her friend were speaking quite animatedly on the bus about a woman, and letting the entire rear end of the bus know intimately how they felt about a third woman, not on the bus but the subject of their loudly spoken conversation. Apparently she had traded down for an apartment on Haight as opposed to Cole Valley, and did not her building look like a tenement—indicated by the purple metal railings and front stairwell design. The rest of the conversation was just as brazenly catty, dotted with lots of self-absorbed consumerist details and inanely odd personal details around cannabis club locations and other subjects maybe not best discussed loudly on public transit, even in San Francisco? That may just be my latent paranoia, but nevertheless, it was a public discourse in that all the other passengers were the unwilling eavesdropping audience to this odious trite. Where is the line when we are riding the bus, or when we are on the train or aeroplane? What boundaries should we strive to create around honoring where we are presently, but respect the desires of those who want to be plugged in to someone else not on the bus with us?