EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Theft | Baghdad By The Bay

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San Francisco: Playland For The Borrowed And Not So Famous

Daddy, can you get your credit limit raised on your card?I had mentioned this briefly in my last article, but I felt this needed more attention. People don’t realize that San Francisco today has become a long term amusement park for people trying to make a name for themselves in the world who ultimately don’t and I thought I’d talk about what that means.

As many of you know I’ve been driving for SideCar which is fun and gets me to see more of the city on a daily basis. About half of the people I pick up haven’t been in San Francisco for a year and of those I hear a lot of them saying that Daddy sent me to San Francisco with his credit card for a year to grow up or something similar to that. First off, BAD DADDY! Sending someone in their 20’s to San Francisco with an open credit card will only make you broke and won’t make them grow up. They won’t make a name for themselves here [at least one that will make them money so they don’t need your credit card] and in the end they’ll end up calling you back to bail them out or move to the East Bay for a little while longer.

Because of the no credit limit kids who don’t learn a thing such as $3500 is far to much to pay for a 2 bedroom apartment and that a cup of coffee doesn’t have to cost you $5 they are the ones ending up destroying the City as we know it. They aren’t giving anything back only taking away. Well, they are giving money to the businesses, but aside from bars and landlords it’s pretty slim as to who else is getting the money.

This has happened in the past. If you think back to the 90’s we had slackers. They were the ones sitting around in coffee shops all day smiling in the sunshine without a care in the world. We just didn’t know how they were paying the bills. Back then most of them jumped from couch to couch of their friends until they ran out of friends or stopped being able to make anymore and they left.

People like to blame the techies, but I don’t really think it’s their fault. They’re causing building in run down areas of the City to be remodeled and creating new places to visit in the city. Yes, they are moving out low income people to some extent, but they’re also moving out low income people in high crime neighborhoods where there’s still enough crime to go around [have you heard of people talking about the good old days in the Mission when they had their cars broken into every weekend? No, because it’s still happening.] The techies also can’t ship in all the employees so they’ll be hiring locals which gives all the computer nerds a reason to smile after being ignored in college.

I’m not sure where this money comes from that the kids who were sent here to grow get to spend. Some of them actually have said that they’d never take the bus because they’re above that. They become disconnected with the rest of the world that they’ll have to go back to at sometime in the near future. Dads, if you’re thinking of teaching your kid to grow up in San Francisco send them off with a month’s rent and a couple hundred dollars. That’ll make them grow up quickly and give you some money for your retirement.

It is my honest belief that this whole amusement park thing that is happening to the City at the moment will soon come to pass. Think may never go back to the way they were, but the bubble will burst for the kids and the only ones that will suffer other than the kids who will run home are the landlords, new bars and restaurants that have been pushing their prices up day after day. Luckily there are still a few places that haven’t changed so much, but I’m going to keep those to myself.

Paying The Bills

I had realized that I got screwed yesterday. It turns out when you get a bill from a company you need to check it carefully and not just pay it off and forget about it. I paid my phone bill which was an astronomical $396 dollars and then started thinking. Why is it so high? I started looking at the numbers and realized a few things that I was paying that I didn’t need to pay.

1. I received a text message from a company called ClickGen that I ignored, but after contacting my phone company found out that the FCC actually allows this company to send text messages that if you don’t respond with OUT you get charged $9.99 a month. Lucky for me they reversed the charges.

2. We’re on the Universal Lifeline service because we don’t make money in the 1%’er range, yet we’re still charged tax for the people who receive Universal Lifeline service. That was fixed with the call.

3. The bill said I hadn’t paid last month’s bill so that was added in, but upon checking I had and I mentioned that I had proof that I had paid the previous bill. Upon hearing that they credited me $156.09 dollars which means my next bill will probably have to be paid in August.

Lots of us get bills and just pay them. Its a good time to look over every aspect of your bills because these companies while I won’t say a re totally unscrupulous don’t exactly have their act together because they let their computers do their thinking for them. Because of this they sometimes make mistakes, but they won’t admit that as long as you keep paying your bills.

Keep a good eye on the bills you  receive. I get emails from GoDaddy almost monthly telling me that my domain is about to expire yet I’ve never registered a domain with GoDaddy. These are tactics that companies use to get you to hand over money to them that you don’t need to and if you complain they’ll just say it was a computer error to try and avoid admittance of fault on their behalf.

If you keep your eye on your bills you might find that you have more money in your pocket at the end of the month so do what I have done so you don’t get taken.

Facial Recognition For A Facebook Stalker

I ran across a program the other day called FaceLook that after thinking about it is really kind of creepy. It let’s you take a picture of someone’s face and then the program goes on to mine all the pictures of Facebook with tags to identify the person.

Think about that for a second. There are currently over 800 million users of Facebook and they’re predicted to hit one billion by August 2012. That’s an awful lot of people out there that a $1.99 app can look through. If you haven’t done so you might want to think about changing your privacy settings of your photos so that only friends can see them unless you want people to find out who you are and possibly start stalking you.

If you own a Mac and have iPhoto installed that has facial recognition built in that gets better the more you use it, but that’s different because you keep those photos to yourself [until the entrance of iCloud]. Now I don’t know this for sure, but [time for the tin foil hat] what if someone hacked into Apple’s iCloud or the government is allowed access to it?

iOS and Android devices just keep getting better and better as time goes on and the software people are writing for them is as well. We’ve got 8 megapixel cameras going into these little phones now and they shoot 720p video as well. I’ve been amazed at the quality of the video I’ve shot with my iPhone. Especially when I’m in a good position to hold it still enough.

They’ve already got an app called Action Movie that adds wickedly cool effects into movies shot on the iPhone or iPad that look very realistic [Car Smash and Missle Attack are my favorites]. So you never know what’s possible. Man was sent to the moon using a room full of computers that were slower and dumber than a smartphone. Now we throw birds at pigs. What will be possible in the future my scare you more than what’s out there to scare you today.

Recology needs to step it up

GARBAGE! The tainted word on the street. My mother always told me that if I didn’t get good grades I would end up as a garbage collector. As it turns out the garbage collectors make a better wage than I was making with my college degree for some years. Now I have to admit that with technology’s evolution garbage collection has gotten much better and our streets are cleaner, so I’m not going to totally blame Recology who collects our garbage problem, but they are a part of it.

In my unemployed times I spent my mornings at home getting up early and pretty much doing nothing in the mornings except look for work on craigslist. Come garbage collection day I would hear the trucks come by and the guy would haul the bins to the truck that would pick them up and dump their contents into the garbage or recycle areas where they would be crushed down a bit.

These were still open areas and just as we all know when you stomp down your garbage to fit more in it expands back a bit afterwards. The problem with this is as the trucks pick up speed some of the garbage blows out the side of the bins back onto the street. San Francisco being the windy city that it is causes the garbage to be blown back across our lawns, houses, sometimes into our entryways.  Just yesterday I pulled a receipt out of my entryway that turns out came from cafe out in the Mission. After that I picked up the lid and straw from a McDonald’s cup that the closest one was a couple miles away.

This isn’t discards from people driving by, but they come from one of two places: Recology trucks that let some of their garbage fly off or from recycle raccoons. The second are the people that at night when you put out your bins go through them to find anything of value to take and sell back at the local recycle areas in the neighborhood. Maybe that lid from McDonald’s came out of our bin from our last trip there, but we didn’t throw it on our lawn, the recycle raccoons who go through our bins, some of which I’ve seen stop and wait for you to bring your bins out and even say thank you before raiding your bins have forgotten to put back.

These people are essentially stealing money from the city by foraging in your waste bins for aluminum and glass. They’ll pull out the bags of recycling you’ve deposited and go through them to find what they need and the nice ones put back what they don’t. Some on the other hand leave the bags outside to move on quickly, or just give it a toss back without bothering to pick up what falls out.

These tend to be elderly citizens looking to make an extra buck and I don’t necessarily blame them for looking to make an extra buck, but they need to either understand that their presence is making our neighborhoods look ugly or Recology needs to find a way to keep them from raiding the bins. PG&E has a system that if you have a gate on the front of your house that the meter readers have a key to get in to read the meters, so perhaps Recology could create locked bins that the collectors would have to unlock before dumping in the trucks. It would also be nice if the bins were made of a more sturdy trapezoidal shape that would keep them from blowing over in the wind dumping their contents on the street rather than the inverse trapezoid shape  that makes them top heavy and bottom light that doesn’t work with our winds.

I love my neighborhood, but it really burns my ass [thank you Terry Baum for that phrase] some days when I see my neighbors hard work and money invested in making their front yard look nice only to see it littered with paper and twine wrapped around their eco-friendly, low water consumption, San Francisco values plants.

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Pagan Babies

Now when I was growing up I was a public school kid so I didn’t understand the concept of pagan babies. I was probably one of the only kids in my school who never had to go to church on Sunday’s even so religion was a bit of a foreign concept to me. I understood that there was this God thing that was bigger than us and loved us, but at the same time was smiting us more than giving us candy bars.

A friend who likes to get into debates with me even though I agree with him asked me the other day how many people did Satan kill in the bible. The answer is 2. God killed millions. I digress a bit, but at times religion is a funny thing to me. When a group of the old Sunset District crew started to bring up pagan babies it jarred loose a memory from my youth. My Mom always used to tell in a ironic fashion about how when she was attending Saint Bridgette’s that she used to bring in pennies to donate to the pagan babies.

What is a pagan baby exactly? Well, from what I can remember and research has given me they were African, Asian and/or Hispanic non-Christian kids that were forcibly converted over to Catholicism by missionaries that were finances by shaking down kids in Catholic schools for their pennies and/or lunch money. My Mother was one of them and so apparently were all the other Catholic school kids in the Sunset.

We aren’t talking about hippy wiccans here we’re just talking about poor, third world children that the Catholic church said, you’re hungry? here’s some food if you believe in our God and become civilized and accept the names we give you. In my search I found a guy who was remembering buying his first pagan baby at 9 years old for $5 [sounding a bit like slavery yet?]. The pagan baby he purchased was named Daniel James and his $5 gave him a  Certificate of Adoption as a Souvenir of the Ransom and Baptism of an Adopted Pagan baby named Daniel James.

DUDE! Ransom and Baptism? I think the Catholic church needed better PR people back then. You’re teaching a 9 year old about slavery and ransom. That makes the nun’s steel ruler seem a bit tame don’t it?

The best part of this is that the pagan babies fought back. This individual received one of those Nigeria bank swindle schemes in the mail wherein the pagan baby he purchased offered him $4 million dollars in exchange for $100,000 paid into a Nigerian bank. The pagan baby even mentioned his purchase by him and offered to meet with him in Nigeria to talk about the old time religion that had helped him so much that he wanted to pay him back for it.

It seems that the pagan babies have learned how to turn the scheme around. I’m wondering now if there’s a linkback to the Vatican’s records of pagan babies from Nigeria. A salam aleikum.

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How Safe is San Francisco?

Where would you expect to find more criminal acts committed…the Sunset District or Hunter’s Point? The answer…the Sunset District with a ratio of 123 criminal acts to Hunter’s Point’s 18.  Now granted, the Sunset is the largest district being cut into the inner, central and outer Sunset, but still. I’ve always remarked how quiet it was here.

Where did I get this information? There’s a website called Trulia.com that gives people in the market for a house information on the houses available and the neighborhoods surrounding them. Now they’ve added a crime map to map where the crimes are occurring and what type of crimes they are. The worst part about this is when you move around and compare other cities on their list to San Francisco, we top the list as the highest crime city overall. We’re higher than bigger cities like Los Angeles and Chicago in overall crimes which was a pretty big shock to me. At least in the Sunset they’re usually indecent exposure and public intoxication with the occasional car break in or theft. We’re basically drunks and pervs out here for the most part.

The majority of crimes occur in the mid-market area from Civic Center down to 6th street followed by a line down Mission Street and oddly enough there’s a hot spot around North Beach/Chinatown. This is shown on their heat map where you’ll see blotches of red to indicate a higher amount of criminal activity. The total number of crimes for the last month in San Francisco was 2500. By comparison, Chicago had 818 and Los Angeles had 1504. These are two huge cities covering more miles than San Francisco, yet they have less crime than we do. New Orleans came closest to us with 2471 and they beat us in violent crimes.

My question to all this local crime is what gives Mayor Lee? There is talk of cutting back the police force in the city to ease the budget, but when San Francisco tops the list in overall crime [note, I couldn’t compare NYC as they aren’t on the lists.] This might make the crime rates go up and we’re already on top. This city needs to do something about the crime or else not only are we going to start losing residents, but we’ll start losing tourist dollars as well. I can’t say how accurate this is, but it is set up by geocaching reported crimes, so that counts for something in the overall equation.

Be safe and have a nice weekend now.

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