"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quality or Quantity of our College Education?

A good question for you, what is better for everyone? A quality college education or quantity for big bucks?

That's an argument that was put forward by one of my professors on Tuesday. He argued that his class a few semesters back was supposed to be a small one with less than 35 students. Currently, his class holds 70+ students! What's the big idea?

The CSU system is focused more on providing smaller, more intimate classes (like my graduate classes), not mega sized classes so that the state can rake in on your tuition/fees that keeps rising so high.

Think about this: Why is SFSU's Human Sexuality course has so many students (a TON OF STUDENTS)? You could think that it's because of the GE requirements, or because the students gets to watch some "amusing" videos, or maybe because the idea of sexuality is so attractive (it sells!).

I like small classes because it provides a more intimate environment for everyone, and you really get to know your professors much more (just don't get caught sleeping in class). I also enjoy that I can visit their office hours with little or no wait, and really get the help that I need. Mega sized classes feel so odd to me because there is always a wait for help, they prefer doing things online, and multiple choice tests is no help either!

I guess it is all about the money these days. Is it cheaper and profitable to have two professors teach 35 students each for the same course in separate sections or have one professor teach 70 students in one class section?

Maybe the Simpson's are right. In the future, school will be taught in triple decker seat classrooms and only one teacher on the TV will be communicating to hundreds of schools at once.

Let's summarize my rants:
Please don't break down our classroom walls to make mega-sized lecture halls.
35, maximum!
Stop raising our student tuition/fees!
I want quality, not quantity. It's like graduating from Berkeley with 50,000 other students at the same time; sure makes that name sound so pristine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fast Food: Choice of Words

Does anyone watch those McDonald's commercials? Their recent ad is about their new "grilled" chicken wrap.

I think it's intriguing to note that they have two different types of chicken, one called "grilled" and the other is "crispy." Seems odd that they would call the healthy one as "grilled" (a cooking style) while their other one that has a lot of fat is called "crispy" (as the texture of the product), but wouldn't it be fair to just call it "fried" because of the cooking style?

The same thing goes for KFC... the don't have the "extra tasty deep fried chicken," they've got the "extra tasty crispy chicken."

I also thought it was amusing when McDonalds changed their chicken meat in their nuggets. Their restaurant ad said that "now includes white meat!" I wonder what meat they used to use before they changed?

Sometimes I wonder about the fat content of some of the fast food stuff. Can you believe that the salads cost more and still have more fat than the popular burger (The "Big Mac," "Whopper," or that "Double Double")? What especially adds the calories and fat is the cheese, bacon, dressing, and your choice of "grilled" or (what I call) "extra greasy fried chicken."

Let's summarize my rants:
Grilled, crispy, fried???? So many choices!
What's really in a nugget?
Salad... more fat? No way!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tourist traps... when can the locals have some fun?

I hate to say it, but San Francisco is a tourist trap, especially downtown, the Cable Cars, and Pier 39.

Regardless of where you live, you must have some sort of tourist trap, from an overpriced souvenir shop, to a major chain restaurant like Hard Rock.

Here in San Francisco, I'm fed-up with tourists and the traps out to snare them. When can the locals go out and enjoy the time and have some fun too?

A good example is our Cable Cars, one of the most legendary thing about San Francisco's history. But when you go during the summer, it's always packed with tourists, and long lines just to get onboard. Muni also rips you off by charging $5 a ride, and it's unfair to the locals that sometimes depend on the route to get to work, and those that just want to enjoy the nice weekend.

Anyone who rides the F-line historic streetcars knows about how extremely crowded they are, and how long the lines are. Can't they just buy some more of those streetcars to fix with the overflow? Especially bad is that those tourists don't like to stand in the back, and that upsets me because I can't get onboard while I'm screaming at people telling them to move back! What are you afraid of back there? If you believe that's where the "bad" people sit there, we've got a big problem.

Pier 39 is the worst of the worst of tourist traps. High prices on food and products, floods of tourists snapping their cameras away, and parking so expensive that the local resident's wallet would scream in pain because it is empty.

But the nice thing about being a local, you get to push and mess around with the tourists. One time, I was going down the ramp to exit the Pier 39 garage, and some bozo with an SUV stopped in the lane and went to prepay his ticket at the machine. I honked my horn for an entire minute because (1) they knew that they were supposed to prepay before exiting, (2) the machines were at each pedestrian entrance to the garage, (3) and you don't just park your car on the main road to get out!

Some tourists are also extremely STUPID, and I really mean STUPID. Here's a great example. I'm driving home from some grocery shopping in Daly City's Trader Joes, and when I pass by the Zoo on Great Highway, I see a family of four: husband and wife, an older daughter, and a grandfather with a cane. I noticed about 500 feet away that the husband and wife crossed over a barrier to get across (j-walk) the first two lanes of the Great Highway. The grandfather and daughter were waiting for their chance to cross too.

Here's what's so STUPID! Why attempt to cross a road that has a speed limit of 45, has no traffic spacing (there is no traffic signal before the j-walking site), cars frequently driving on the road, and why have an old guy who has a cane attempt to illegally j-walk?

Tourists in downtown are especially stupid to attempt to cross on Geary Blvd. at Powell when the signal clearly says not to do so. But they sure try. Now whenever I drive through that intersection, I have to have my hand ready on the horn to tell them to move the F---- back! It's my green light, not yours!

Let's summarize my rants
Tourism sucks when you live in a city full of tourists
Yes, it is good for the economy, thanks Mayor Newsom, but I still hate tourists
Pay attention! Follow the rules and laws, and you won't get hit by a car!

Online coupons, can't you just take them?

We all go shopping, yes everyone does. For the frugal person and the budget wise college student, coupons rule our lives.

I needed to purchase some new foot insoles and I checked-up on Dr. Scholl's website for some options. I found a two dollar off coupon for the one I wanted, and I printed it out. I went to my local Walgreens, purchased the insole, and presented the coupon. The guy tried scanning the coupon, but it would not read the barcode. He refused the coupon, rats, I could have paid $14.

Some other places are really nasty about accepting online coupons. At Safeway, I used a couple of coupons for dinner rolls and some soup, and the guy says that they don't accept it. I told the guy that I've used similar coupons and had no problem with them. I was also curious if they had a "no online coupon" policy posted anywhere. Haven't seen one yet!

The only place I do it these days is Albertsons at their self check-out stands, where as long as the product is not free, they honestly don't care, as long as the barcode can be scanned.

What's so wrong with online coupons? Most of them are savings of less than 75 cents, and each one has some form of verification to keep away the scammers.

Places I go for coupons: http://www.couponbug.com, http://www.coupon.com and these have codes on them that can be checked online to see if it is legit.

Let's summarize my rants:
Online coupons are great
There are little bitches at checkout stands that hates you.
Go to Albertsons, because they don't bother you.

Does it take three tries to get my sandwich right?

I was at Safeway today ordering a sandwich and I told the lady at the counter which sandwich I wanted and what I wanted changed and omitted.

My first request was that I did not want Italian rustic bread (too hard to chew), and I wanted their French bread. She pulled out the French bread and had to ask the co-worker to verify that it was the right bread. If you can't tell the difference between your store's baked breads, we have a big problem. If you can't tell the difference between macaroni salad and fruit salad, oh dear... Strike one!

She then read the little sign at the sandwich station to put on the ingredients. The spread that is used in the sandwich is the "garlic and herb spread" and I repeated to her that I wanted that spread. She said "you want ranch, right?" I said with a stern voice: "No, I wanted the one that was listed on the menu, the garlic and herb." She STILL put the damn ranch spread on. Strike two!

Since I knew that she really messed up twice, I had to keep my eye on what she was doing; just to make sure she doesn't spit in my sandwich, or I would have thrown that thing underneath one of their refrigerator units for a big surprise for their employees to clean-up.

Right before she was about to wrap the sandwich, I stopped her again and asked her, where's the salami? You only put ham in the sandwich, and the meats included is ham and salami. She put in the salami and gave me the sandwich. Strike THREE. She said, I'm sorry, and I said nothing because I was really mad.

I paid for my sandwich, and when I got into my car, I was cussing the f-word so many times because I have NEVER seen someone really mess-up my favorite sandwich order so many times. I'm typically not upset if they do a minor mistake that can be easily corrected, like me scraping the "olive mix" from the sandwich; yet she really crossed the line.

Next time, I'll never order a sandwich on the weekend. I'm making my own.

Let's summarize my rants:
Safeway makes some good sandwiches, if you get a competent person to do the job right.
Don't mess-up my order!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vacations... why so expensive?

I've been looking for a great vacation to spend on, but I'm realizing that some of the best vacations are way too expensive!

Here's an example: San Francisco flight to Disney World, with basic (and I mean cheapest) on-site hotel accommodations, meal plan, and park tickets for $1,300. What am I? Rich? Plus, there are very few direct flights from SFO or even Oakland to Orlando. I would have to do an evening flight the day before check-in just so that I can even enjoy my park tickets. If I were to fly direct, I would not arrive until 9PM!

Disneyland, strangely is just a couple of hundred dollars less, with flight from SFO or OAK to Orange County, with five days hotel at a next door hotel, 5 days park tickets, meals, and a shuttle to get me from the airport and back.

I don't know if I want to go back to Vegas soon, even though they gave me two free nights at a choice of my hotel. I would spend more in gambling in two days for the same amount I could be having fun punching Mickey Mouse.

I can't afford a cruise! A nice ten-dayer without flight is about $2,000 or with a friend would be $1,400 for the cheapest room.

Help! Can't someone find me a vacation worth less than $900 with a decent hotel, nice location, with airfare?

Let's summarize my rants:
Vacations, way too pricey
I can't afford to fly too far
I prefer not to gamble

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Translink and Public Transit in the Bay Area

If you haven't read the article about San Francisco Muni (public transportation system), you should read this first before you continue reading my blog. Click here for the article.

I remember that I had to ride Muni during my years in high school and during college for at least three years, and what a nasty experience that was.

During high school, it was the year of the "Muni Meltdown" where the metro was so bad, that you were stuck in the tunnel with more than ten trains ahead of you to get out of the tunnel, and the bus drivers were going nuts. I remember waiting for over a hour, having two buses pass by because they were so packed. Another time, a driver intentionally passed the bus stop I was waiting for, and say goodbye to that driver!

During college, I attended City College of San Francisco and that was a horrible experience. I rode the 29 sunset directly to CCSF and I had a major argument with one of the drivers. I complained numerous times to their complaint department, and after that did not work, I complained directly to the head of Muni that the driver continuously refuses to stop at a legal bus stop, and that the city must respray the poles and the pavement that it is a legal stop.

It took three months to get that resolved, but by then, I did not have any more confidence in that bus line. I found alternate routes to get to campus:

To campus: 38L, transfer to 28L, transfer to M, transfer to K. Still made it in same amount of time that the 29 would take.
Another route to campus: 38AX, transfer to K. Made it to campus earlier than the 29.
Another, more expensive route: 38AX, transfer to BART, transfer to 15 line. Still made it to campus earlier than the 29.

To home: 29, transfer to the 18. 29 sometimes intentionally stopped for five minutes, just so they did not get caught by the inspector.
Another route: K line, transfer to L, transfer to 28, transfer to 38L. Still faster than the 29 direct.

Geesh, the 29 is the worst line around. Their route makes too many turns, and makes too many frequent stops. They need more direct turns, and needs exceptions to "no left turn" zones, especially at 19th avenue, where they must turn right to get to Irving to get to 19th avenue.

Now, I drive to SF State. It's better paying $20 a week in parking fees versus $45 a month, plus fees to talk to a psych doctor.

Has anyone tried Translink yet?
This program is a universal transit fare card that you use to pay for all Bay Area public transit. I was a pilot tester in 2001 and I enjoyed the technology because I did not have to grab change, and all my passes were stored on the card.

The big problem I had with the card is that some drivers were really incompetent about the process, I was charged twice in a few incidents when I paid for my passes, and the delays to implement the system.

The delays to establish the system were very poor, it does not take three years to get it installed it on two transit systems, the goal was to install the system on all transit by this year. It will not be until 2010 until that's ready. That sounds similar to the Bay Bridge project that will be until 2013, when it should have been ready by now.

Also a good fact, the price for the project has shot-up every single year. Why do they need to waste more of my tax money, when it should have been ready by now?

Read more about Translink here: KGO's website

Let's summarize my rants:
Muni sucks, the 29 is real poor.
I can find faster alternatives, and cover twice the distance.
Translink is a great program, but delays in the program is very bad.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rubbernecking - Not a Smart Idea

What is "rubbernecking?" That happens when you are driving on a highway or road and you see a vehicular and/or pedestrian involved accident where drivers slow to half their driving speed to look at the incident, and once cleared of the scene, driving speeds return to normal.

I don't like rubbernecking because:
If the accident scene was moved off the side of a highway, where it does not impact any lanes of traffic, people still slow down to look.

It's a waste of my gasoline because I have to slow down for at least a mile or two at less than 35 MPH vs. driving full speed at 65.

In the traffic, drivers start getting desperate and some frequently change lanes to get ahead, and others drive on the shoulder or change lanes on to a merge lane so that they can pass five cars.

Who cares about the accident?

Want another situation? There was a group of goats eating up the weeds and extra grass nearby the Oakland Zoo next to the freeway and drivers were just slowing down to look at it. No accidents, no injuries, no problems, just people staring at them at speeds of about 40, instead of going at 65.

Lets summarize my rants:
Rubbernecking is a stupid idea.
Stop staring at goats eating grass!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sudafed PE? It just doesn't work

We all know about Sudafed, ya know, the stuff that they have to put behind the counter because that's like the main ingredient in meth.

So now these drug companies make this "PE" version to be sold in the aisles, and let me tell you, that stuff sucks really bad. It does not work and the label tells you to basically swallow this stuff more often than the regular stuff.

The regular stuff works great to hold my allergies at bay, but every time I have to order it behind the counter, it makes me feel like I'm a damn criminal. I have to buy the economy size because it's the most affordable per pill, especially on my college student budget.

Kaiser Permanente is the worst of the worst, they make you sign embarrassing paperwork telling you that you will face a 250K fine if you violate one of the terms on the paperwork. Geesh, you really think I'm a drug dealer? Get a life.

Here's a good tip for you allergy sufferers. First, never buy brand name allergy medications. I use Clartin and Sudafed to control my allergies, but I buy those products at Kaiser. $6 for 100 days of generic Claritin, and $4 for generic Sudafed for 50 days. Not really a bad deal when you think about it. Also, don't get the combo of regular Claritin mixed with Sudafed in one pill, they are much more expensive than just taking it separately.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, see your doctor to see if you need allergy relief.

Let's summarize my rants:
Kaiser can kiss my ass, and Sudafed PE is a bunch of crap.
Generic products work, and brand name products are expensive.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bottled Water, sounds cheap, but worth it?

Bottled Water - Ripoff!

If you have ever watched Penn and Teller: B.S.! on Showtime, you may have seen the bottled water episode when a waiter was selling off several different brands of water, when actually it came from the municipal source of water from a typical garden hose. Yep, the LA county municipal tap stuff.

But here's my experience: I was at an event today and I need to get some water at the corner store, the bottles sold there were only 59 cents a pop. What a great deal! Then I realized that heck, I'm getting ripped off at SFSU where they charge $1 for the same brand and same size! Is everything we buy at my university just so expensive, regardless that they get several times more customers than my local corner store?

Here's something you can do to say, screw you! to the bottled water companies... drink regular tap water! San Francisco's tap water is the best in the nation during a blind taste test where people sampled bottled varieties, and the local tap water. When SF tap water is chilled, it tasted much better!

So why pay for stuff that you can practically get for free? That does not make a lot of sense. All you need to do is carry a reusable and washable bottle, like a sports bottle around with you and fill-up and chug away! If you carry a backpack with you (for all you college folk), then just bring a bottle, it won't add so much weight.

Let's summarize my rants:
SFSU's bottled water is a rip-off, corner store is 40% less for the same thing.
San Francisco tap water rules!
Gotta love Penn and Teller.

KRON 4 - A Nightmare on TV

Let's start with a hot iron and burn some folks...


I HATE KRON4 (a.k.a. KRON channel 4 in San Francisco). Why? First of all, their news broadcasts suck big time ever since they lost their NBC affiliation and KNTV snatched it away.

(Yep, KNTV sucks too because they did not give free bunny ear (over the air) broadcasting for at least two years to a majority of San Francisco and the North Bay, just a great way to get Comcast to yank $20 a month just so us idiots can watch ER). Ha-ha, Terilyn Joe got fired for (allegedly) throwing tomatoes and veggies at a guy on a ladder trimming a tree.

So why does KRON's news broadcasts suck? Here's one thing, they use VJ's, their cheap method of getting the news and broadcasting it. They don't have two man crews out there, one person filming and editing while the other speaking in the mic. They now have a one man crew that does all the taping, voice over, typing, and editing. PLUS, THE QUALITY SUCKS! I always wondered why Vic Lee jumped ship while the rats were fleeing and went to KGO/ABC 7 news.

Here's another reason why I hate KRON news broadcasts, they don't use SPELL CHECK! One VJ did a news story about the three year anniversary of when San Francisco's City Hall granted licenses to gay and lesbian couples. He then puts a quotation of text on the screen and misspells the word: "because" and the screen says "becaus." Um, WHERE IS THE "E?"

I'm a graduate school student, do you really expect me to not spell correctly and pass with flying colors?

Here's one for that DUMMY ROB BLACK. You SUCK! I WANT TO WATCH THE 4PM NEWS, NOT YOUR LOUSY ADVICE ON HOW TO GET RICH FOR 25 TORTUROUS MINUTES. Hell, your guests on your stupid program have better advice than your stupid B.S. Can Rob Black do the weather and sports update? I think not! I would not mind doing a crank call on his show!

Here's another: who their right mind watches those "My network TV" programs? Like I want to watch some stupid program called "Watch Over Me." Watch over this! Me taking a nap on my bed.

Hail to Gary Radnich! Good for you to walk off the set during a live broadcast, especially when learning that KRON's ratings is in the toilet.

BRING BACK BAY-TV'S TAKE ISSUE on KRON! That was a great call-in show with major politicians, celebrities, and others talking about the important local issues that affect us every day. I called in several times for some very important issues. Did you know that Bay-TV was the local cable channel for KRON?

Also, where's Wendy Tokuda? Let's bring her back to KPIX and bring back good ol' Dave!

Let's summarize my rants:
Local San Francisco news broadcasts, from best to worst:
KTVU (the best)
KRON (dead last)

Radnich rules, I want my Take Issue, and Send Wendy to KPIX!