Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rock The Boat . . .

On Tuesday our managers pulled us into an impromptu meeting and told us that the following day we were going to be leaving work early for a surprise team building event.  The only information they gave us was to wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers.

So obviously I immediately over packed for the event.  I had a jacket, a sweatshirt, a beanie, a hat, a scarf, and an umbrella.  You just never know what weather you are going to get in San Francisco.

Throughout Wednesday our managers never budged on telling us what we were going to do.  At 1:30 we headed down to the parking lot and piled into two cars.

Driving...hmmm...where might we be going?

Eventually we arrived in Golden Gate Park at the Boat House.  Our surprise was the rental of two peddle boats on Stow Lake.

Now the last time I was on a peddle boat was when I was probably ten or twelve years old at Campland On The Bay in San Diego.  My memory said this was going to be fun so I volunteered to be one of the "peddlers."

Look how happy we are right when we boarded the boat in the above picture.

"Don't worry Ivy, I've got it all under control. We are not going to tip over."

Because of the size of our group we were divided onto two boats.  The other boat launched first and Allison and Peter quickly peddled away from the dock.

Not to be outdone, my co-peddler Elizabeth and I put our boat into high gear and tried to catch up.

After about a minute of peddling I think it occurred to everyone that this was not so easy.  We were really getting a work out.  

I don't remember it being this hard when I was twelve.

I had to start removing layers fast.  Off came the jacket.  And the sweatshirt became an extra seat cushion.

It was time to slow the pace down if we were going to make it around the island.

Just so you get an idea, below is a map of how big Stow Lake is.  



Towards the end of our peddling experience, Elizabeth noticed the warning label on the boat that says, "Fast peddling can cause rapid tiring of legs."

Well duh!  

If only we had read that before we got started.

After our boat ride we headed to a nearby restaurant for some much needed beer and snacks.

A good time was had by all.

The Song Of The Day - Rock The Boat by Aaliyah

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Police . . .

I have now lived in San Francisco for three years.  In those three years I have never seen a police officer ride a Muni Bus.  However, this past week while riding the 45 Line, on two separate occasions, a police officer has boarded the bus.

The officer, the same one on both days, walked to the back of the bus making his presence known and then exited the bus at the next stop.

I thought it was a little weird and a bit unsettling because no one really knew what was going on.  I mean the 45 Line didn't get the nickname "the Gucci Express" for nothing.  Us riders didn't know if we should be protecting our packages from a potential thief.  Clearly that was the reason the officer was on the bus, right?

After the second day of seeing the officer board the bus I decided to do some research.  Apparently I am not the only one looking into this because I found out there was a whole ABC 7 I-Team investigation about the Police Department riding city buses.

Did you know that a  "police department order is very clear -- all officers working in squad cars have to ride a Muni bus twice every shift, four times if they are on foot patrol. But passengers, city supervisors and even the police chief herself say that is often not happening."

So maybe because of the I-Team investigation the Police Department is making a greater effort to be seen on the city buses.  

This is great, but might I suggest riding the 49 Line through the Mission instead of the 45 on Columbus.  The 49 is where I have seen kids tagging the bus, carving graffiti into the seats and windows, and doing drugs.

The Song Of The Day - Police Me by Tori Amos

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me . . .

On Saturday after running errands I stopped for lunch at one of my favorite places; Panera Bread.  This Panera Bread is located near AT&T Park in Mission Bay.

From the main dining area there is a lot to watch as you eat your food.  Two Muni platforms are just outside the restaurant as well as watching the very busy intersection of 4th and King Streets.

As I was enjoying my sandwich I realized the four girls at the table next to me were all looking up in the same direction at the building across the street.  Another table of six people were giggling hysterically and pointing.

I looked in the general direction as everyone else and saw a gentleman standing in the window of the fourth floor condo across the street wearing nothing but bikini underwear like the ones below but in yellow talking on his phone and continuously adjusting himself.

As the gentleman continued to pace his condo in his "chonies" a little white fluffy dog kept jumping up and down on the furniture near the window.  It was quite a scene.

I didn't realize lunch at Panera Bread was like going to dinner theatre in Vegas.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Time To Say Goodbye . . .

It was a sad day on Friday when the Starbucks across the street from work permanently closed. As seen in the picture above, by 4 o'clock workers had already started to remove the sign on the front of the building.

It's hard to believe that the amount of coffee our office buys from this location was not enough to make it profitable.

We found out months ago that our Starbucks was slated for closure and so began the journey through Kubler-Ross' Seven Stages of Grief and Dying.

Stage One - Shock/Disbelief
  • "Shut up!  You are totally lying, it's not closing!  I don't believe you.  That's not even funny."
Stage Two - Denial
  • "Look, there are no signs posted saying they are closing."
Stage Three - Anger
  • "WTF, now I am going to have to buy coffee in the Cafe and they don't make White Chocolate Mocha's or Caramel Frappuccino's, I am so mad!"
Stage Four - Bargaining
  • "I heard someone started a petition, maybe we can save this place!"
Stage Five - Guilt
  • "If I only would have gone everyday this wouldn't have happened."
Stage Six - Depression
  • "It's so sad, I wonder what is going to happen to all the employees?"
Stage Seven - Acceptance And Hope
  • "I am going to save so much money now that Starbucks closed!"
Goodbye Starbucks, I have many fond memories on your couches and in your courtyard.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Super"sonic" . . .

For the last 10 years or so I have seen commercials on television for the fast food restaurant Sonic.

I was perplexed by this because I had never seen a Sonic in any of the towns I lived in or traveled to.

What was upsetting about this is that they were always advertising something that looked really enticing.  I wanted that "Sonic Blast with Butterfinger!"  or the "Mini Banana Split."

After years of keeping my eyes peeled on road trips for the elusive Sonic sign I had about given up.  Then I had the brilliant idea to look on the Internet for the nearest location.  



I am not driving all the way to Bakersfield for a burger and ice cream!  Even more puzzling to me was that as I looked at the map of Sonics, all the locations where in small towns off the beaten path.

At that point I gave up my Sonic dream.

Then, at Christmas time I was driving home to Southern California when I stopped off in Gilroy which is one of those "small towns" along the 101 freeway.  As I was waiting to make a left turn to get back on the freeway I noticed a sign off in the distance.  "SONIC!"

Get Out!  This was a route I traveled!  I might get my Sonic Blast after all.

This particular Sonic was not quite open yet as it was still under construction.  I would have to file this information away and use it the next time I was headed down the 101.

This past weekend as I was driving home from Southern California after the 4th of July weekend I pulled off the freeway to finally try Sonic.

I was clearly not the only person who had Sonic on their mind as there were tons of cars already in the lot.  

This was not your everyday fast food restaurant.  It appeared that you could order from your car because there was a menu board at each parking space.   

If you have ridden in my car, you know that I was not about to eat food in it, so I would just go inside the restaurant.  As I walked to the front of the building I quickly realized that there was no interior.  There was however the same menu board that was at each parking space in front of the building surround by several tables.  There were people standing on each side of the menu board.

As I watched the guy in front of me for several minutes I began to get annoyed.  I was thinking, "Dude, if you don't know what you are going to order, move to the back of the line and let me go."  After about five minutes he finally placed his order.

It was now my turn.  I stepped up to the board and waited for the voice to ask me what I wanted to order.   

The voice never came.   


I then saw that there was a red button to push.  The button lit up and said to wait to place my order.  I now felt bad because I realized the guy in front of me was not reading the menu, he was waiting for the red light.  I wanted to turn around to the people who were waiting behind me and let them know that I knew what I wanted I was just waiting for the magic voice to come out of the menu board.

Eventually the voice asked for my name and what I wanted.

"I want a Sonic Blast with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a cheese burger."  I paid with my credit card because I couldn't figure out if they even took cash.

I took a seat at one of the tables and tried to figure out how this operation worked.  So it looks like you can order from your car or from this board in front of the building.  Now the Sonic television commercials made more sense to me.  That is why they are always eating in their car.  
When your order is ready, workers on Rollerblades come skating out of the building and head to your car or table.  If you want to pay with cash, you pay the worker when they bring your food.

As I sat at the table I listened to the customers as they approached the menu board.  They all seemed as confused as I was.  "How do I order?" "How do I pay with cash?" "What is taking so long?"

Since I was now an expert I tried to offer my help where I could.  "If you want to pay with cash, you will pay the guy when he brings your food."  "Just hit the red button and wait for the voice."  I am so helpful!

Well my food eventually arrived on a tray balanced by a guy on Rollerblades.  My mistake was not asking for a napkin, but as I looked around I saw that no one had napkins.

The good news?

My burger was soggy and the Sonic Blast with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was just ehhhh.  Nothing spectacular.  

And why is this good news?

If I had liked Sonic I would have been craving it to the point of obsession and then would have had to drive the two hours to get it again.  So I am glad I didn't really like it.

The Song Of The Day - Supersonic by J.J. Fad

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stop Movin' . . .

What better way to start back up the blog than with a story about the 30x.

Just to refresh your memory, the 30x is the "express" bus I try to take to and from work each day.  This is the bus that is usually full in the morning and often times two or three buses will pass me by before one stops and allows me to cram myself into the back stairwell or press myself up against the front windshield.

Good times!

Well, each summer there seems to be a shake up of the regular drivers.  Maybe our regular drivers are on vacation?  Who knows.

Over the last several weeks our "temp" drivers seem to be very confused by the 30x's route.

The first incident happened about a month ago when the driver drove right past the last stop where most of us wanted to get off in the financial district.  The look of panic on the Marina Girls' faces was priceless.  One even managed to stop texting long enough to shout out, "Ummm, like you totally went past our stop!"  

The driver, in probably not the safest move, turned around to see what she was yelling about.  

"Ummm, you were like supposed to let us off like a block ago."

The driver immediately apologized and stopped the bus to let us off.

The following week a different "temp" driver failed to make the final turn in the financial district to approach the last three stops.  Realizing his mistake he slammed on the brakes in the middle of the intersection and took a dramatic pause while he thought about what he should do next.  When he slammed on the brakes, several Marina Girls almost spilled their Starbucks coffee and or dropped their cell phones.  I even slid forward so hard in my seat I was sure I was going to have a bruise on my leg. Hence the grimace face above.  

The driver finally decided to move the bus out of the middle of the intersection and pull over to the nearest curb.  Every person got off the bus with no questions or comments to the driver.  I was so thankful to be alive I didn't even care that I had to walk an extra three blocks to work.

Then just this week it happened again.  The "temp" driver stopped the bus three stops before the end of the route.  He turned around and looked at all of us who had refused to exit the vehicle and said, "Last stop!"

To which we assertive Marina folk replied, "No! Keep going!"

Again the driver said, "Last stop!"

One Marina Girl said, "Spear.  Keep going to Spear Street." 

The driver turned around and started the bus up again.  As we approached Spear Street the same Marina Girl said, "Right here, this is where you stop."

Thank you Marina Girl for saving the day!

The Song Of The Day - Don't Stop Movin' by S Club 7

Where'd You Go . . .

"Where'd you go? I miss you so.  Seems like it's been forever, that you've been gone."

That is the opening line of the Fort Minor song "Where'd  You Go," and it is rather appropriate don't you think?

Loyal readers I appreciate the fact that you are all so dedicated that you have been checking the blog daily even though there have been no new posts in almost a month.  Many of you have sent e-mails and Facebook posts checking in with me and to that I am also grateful.

So where have I been?

Well, I have been spending almost all of my free time driving over the Bay Bridge.

Over the last several months I have been looking at condos.  The above picture shows just some of the properties I have looked at. 

There is nothing to report.  I am still looking.  There is no rush.  And who knows, I do have a pretty sweet deal where I currently live.  Maybe I will stay a renter.

Some of you loyal readers even know that back in April I actually placed a bid on a property that was accepted.  

Yes, I was a home owner for 48 hours.

That 48 hours was riddled with migraines, panic attacks, and meltdowns.  If you have ever had an inner conversation with yourself only to realize that you are actually talking out loud; well I apologize to the person whose feet I noticed in the bathroom stall at work on the day that happened.  All those events lead me to retract my offer.

The migraine instantly went away.

In the last few months I have learned a lot.  Short Sales, Foreclosures, BMR, Tax Credits, Points, Pre-Approvals, HOA, and on and on and on.

Loyal Readers, it's not that I haven't wanted to blog for you, it's just that I have been a little busy learning about the Real Estate market.  And to be honest, it's draining.

So please know that I am not out of stories to share, they just might be a little less frequent.

The Song Of The Day - Where'd You Go by Fort Minor