"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)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wondering about Japantown's Future

On late Tuesday evening around 8:30PM, I went to San Francisco's Japantown for a nice late night dinner, which is rare because I don't usually go to Japantown at night.

And something crossed my mind as I walked through the Kintetsu mall that evening, I looked around and saw not many people walking down the aisles of the mall, yet it was so interesting to just go to Mifune for an order of cold noodles (the "Mifune Special") and realize that the place is nearly packed. I also realized that the other restaurants, including the ever so expensive Benihana was crowded too.

Sometimes I wonder if Japantown is really changing for the good or the bad. One observation I noticed as I was eating my dinner at Mifune is the other people around me. Interestingly, there was not even one fellow Japanese American in sight, and it was a little difficult to find a fellow Asian American. Most of the people I saw are European American.

Just this observation alone made me wonder about what might happen to Japantown. In a previous discussion with a friend, we talked and agreed that while we believe the people who have been raised or have been very active in this community feel that "outsiders" who want to help is an uncomfortable idea; the other point of view I mentioned is the concept of "strength in numbers."

In the society of Japantown, it is becoming much harder to gather the support of the people of the community to fight for the preservation of our community. Yet, when we think about it, we need that "strength in numbers" to help secure our community. One particular example I have noticed these days is at the Cherry Blossom Festival. As always, the "regulars" are out there to support our community, but these so-called "outsiders" also play a major role in supporting our community as a whole. In this situation, the best example I can provide is the anime fair and their segment of the parade. It is amazing to see many young people, many of whom are not even Japanese American, participating in this event.

In some form, our community needs to find a way to promote this idea of "strength in numbers," and anime and Japanese popular culture may be the new way to do it.

Right now, our community is like an "old school" society, where the community is old fashioned. We practice some good old traditions including martial arts, and our restaurants reflect an old fashioned style. Right now, the community is taking a turn, trying to get those numbers by simply relaxing this old fashioned ideal and welcoming in the anime and J-pop theme. The Miyako inn was transformed into a J-pop themed hotel, and we are now building the new J-Pop center.

To many people I speak to in the community, all of them believe in preservation of the community. To many of them, it is keeping the traditions of Japantown alive. Yet, I see that the anime and J-pop idea may be a new concept that might actually help us, although we are sacraficing the old fashioned ideals that have been with us for generations.

I love Japantown a lot. It is difficult for our community to come together and fight because many of us have a job and it makes it a challenge to be out there. I feel that I sometimes regret that I can't always be out there to be the young leader of the community, yet I am still proud of the accomplishments that I have taken part of, including my leadership work to fight to preserve Japantown during the massive sale of the malls and hotels in 2006.

In one view, it can be said that Japantown will always be here, no matter what happens in the future. To others, they feel that Japantown will disappear if we don't do anything.

Today, we are struggling with the planned demolition and renovation of the Japan center. There is word that they will destroy our existing infastructure and insert something even worse: a taller facility that houses businesses and homes, and may destroy the economy of our community. Those malls and the businesses who lease the spaces make a big impact to our community, and if they destroy the malls and the shopkeeps are forced to find somewhere else, will they ever return? Will they be guaranteed a space with the promise of the same rent rate?

It seems that nobody has the true guts to ask this question to the people. Many Japanese Americans in our community have this feeling that they should not speak out, yet there are legendary Japanese Americans who have spoken out on items in the past and have became the true leaders and representatives of our community.
  • Steve Nakajo, co-founder and Executive Director of Kimochi Inc., a non-profit senior services organization wanted to provide services to Japanese American elders because of the tradition of younger people always taking care of our elderly.
  • Paul Osaki, Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California always speaks out about the issues surrounding our community.
  • My late grandmother, Ms. Tsuyako "Sox" Kitashima was a survivor of the Japanese Interment Camps and was given a reality check from younger Japanese Americans that they should demand redress and an apology from the goverment for violating their civil rights and making them lose all their property. She was the first to speak out about her experiences in the Japanese interment camps and she went out of her way to ask other people give their testimony to government representatives at a special hearing at Golden Gate University. And nobody could really believe that a 2nd generation 60+ year old grandmother and the belief that 2nd generation Japanese Americans would keep quiet about their camp experiences, would be out there pushing congress and other people to fight for redress. In the end, a big reward came to light; Japanese Americans interned in the camps received a $20,000 check and an apology from the president. And all it took was to speak-out and fight for what you believe in. Even after redress, my late grandmother helped other Japanese Americans sign-up for redress, and went to local public schools to tell the story to make sure nobody ever forgets.
I sure want to be like my grandmother someday, and I did earn that true respect during the "Save Japantown" days. Yet, I always keep worrying about this little community that I call home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two Weeks Late - Where's Translink (SF Bay Area)?

Let the insanity begin!

The Bay Area's Translink program is now two weeks overdue for its official rollout for San Francisco's Muni and Caltrain systems.

So what's the damn holdup?

In an article by Rachel Gordon of the SF Chronicle written in April of 2008, it states that the delay for Translink " has pushed back the estimated start date for the San Francisco Municipal Railway and Caltrain to July 15 and for BART to Sept. 25."

See article here.

Come on... I know the damn things say "testing in progress," and I think the whole thing is ready to go. The readers are mostly working, although unfortunately this one I found on the 29-Sunset (a.k.a. the worst bus line in San Francisco) is not working.

Just reprogram all the readers, remove the yellow stickers, give a flier to the bus drivers on how to operate and accept the cards, and GET THE BALL ROLLING!

Muni also installed these on the far left faregates at all metro stations as well. Caltrain is allegely installing card readers at all their ticket machines, but I haven't been on that system in years.

I've been waiting for this program for over four years since I was a pilot tester, and the delays after delays are really pissing me off. HELLO METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION, TRANSLINK MANAGEMENT, SF MUNI MANAGEMENT, AND CALTRAIN MANAGEMENT, IT IS TIME TO GET THIS THING GOING!

OK management people, line up and bend over; it is time for your spanking for delaying the process! AND I HIT VERY HARD WITH A PADDLE WITH AIR HOLES.

Lastly, as for BART on "September 25th..." um... that's a total mystery if they will make it in just less than a month. So if they f-up, I'll be here blogging about it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

AT&T Park Muni Vendors MUST accept Muni Tokens too

Quick update before I get to my posting:

SF Muni is starting to make a little progress. I don't know if it is because of my blog or that I informed Phil Bronstein about the problem, but there's some changes:

One thing is they finally got their website FULLY (not partially) up to date. What I mean by "partially" is that one part of the page was correct with the new policy, while scrolling down at the bottom was incorrect.

Now the page clearly says:
"BART discount coupons are accepted" in the "Major Points" section.
"Muni to BART" discount coupons may be used" in the "Leaving the Ballpark" section.

Now, back to the topic!

Here's the next task for Muni and its vendors at AT&T Park, how about accepting tokens and the token tickets too? They are the same fare media as paying in cash.

Their website says:
"Muni tokens or token coupons cannot be used at this time to purchase proof of payment at the Giants sales window" in the "Leaving the Ballpark" section.

I use Muni token tickets because it is easier to carry than a handful of quarters and dollar bills. Plus, I can purchase these with my Commuter Checks, a program that issues me a check for public transit media (passes, tickets, etc.) and is automatically deducted pre-tax from my payroll.

So why not Muni?

If your policy says: "Please be prepared to show your Proof of Payment to Muni staff working the entrance lines to Muni Metro. If you do not have proof of payment, you will be sent back to the Giants sales window to purchase a ticket."

And a MUNI TOKEN OR TOKEN TICKET is a legal Muni fare, why can't AT&T park take it too so passengers can get their "Proof of Payment?" If the inspector is going to kick your ass for not letting you through and the vendor won't give you a transfer because all you have is a token at hand, that's just crazy.

Maybe I should just put the point across again, SF Muni promised its citizens that the token and token ticket is a LEGAL FARE for all Muni rides (except for Cable Cars and Candlestick Park express buses), so why not honor it for the return ride home from AT&T Park? Muni is simply dishonoring their agreement again to its citizens.

Do I once again need to walk to a 30 Stockton bus stop, give my token ticket to the driver, get a transfer, and walk back to the AT&T park metro platform for the ride home? Hell no.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

UPDATE: Muni to BART Still Not Accepted

In a previous posting on my blog, I said that the "Muni to BART" ticket was not being accepted for the return ride home from AT&T Park.

Thanks to Phil Bronstein and Eve Batey, they were out helping the little guys like me with this issue. They picked-up the phone and called San Francisco Muni's representative to get an answer why. The Muni representative promised to make the appropriate changes and the vendors who sell the tickets/transfers at AT&T Park are instructed to accept the discount ticket starting July 18, 2008 (first game of the homestand).

I also informed Bronstein about 12 hours away from the event that the Muni website did not reflect the policy change. Phil got on the case and Muni didn't exactly do all the changes. They did fix "Major Points" section, but did not correct the "Leaving the Ballpark" section on their AT&T Park service section.

The "Major Points" section says:
"BART discount coupons are accepted."

While the "Leaving the Ballpark" section says:
"Muni tokens or token coupons and "Muni to BART" discount coupons cannot be used at this time to purchase proof of payment at the Giants sales window."

And this is all ON THE SAME PAGE. How can our public servants just skip over and not read the entire webpage before publishing it?

Well... it turned out that it did not happen as planned. I didn't get my 25 cent discount, and it looks like Muni once again violated the trust of the people they serve.

Here's a video I've recorded and edited as proof:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MyGallons Refunds Membership Fees

If you have been watching the news, MyGallons.com is the new product that lets you prepay for gallons of gas and lets you take advantage of big savings if gas prices goes up at the pump.

Well... MyGallons has been facing some bumpy roads. Within the first couple of days of public rollout, their main charge card processor backed out, and has been in limbo for nearly a couple of weeks.

Well... this fresh new e-mail just showed-up in my e-mail box:
Dear MyGallons Member,

We developed the MyGallons program because, like you, we wanted to help
solve the problems caused by the rising price of gasoline. We are proud
of what we created and look forward to providing you with this innovative
service in the very near future.

Due to difficulties with a key supplier, we are unable to deliver the
service we promised to you at this time. We apologize for the delay.
You will be receiving a refund on your credit card for 100% of the
membership fees that you have previously paid.

To express our sincere thanks for your loyalty and support, once we
secure a new payment network, you will enjoy the benefits of the MyGallons
program free of membership charges for your first year.

Rest assured, we are working diligently to secure a relationship with a
new national card processing company. We will keep you updated every step
of the way as we overcome the challenges we face together.


Steven Verona
Founder and CEO
MyGallons LLC

It's a little nice that they are giving back my membership cost and a free year of service when things get restored. I hope for the best for the company.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Hate Fake San Francisco Giants Jackets

If you've been to a Giants game, you know that the donut shop across the street sells these jackets for dirt cheap (see left). I found this one at the "Only in San Francisco" store at Pier 39, and their selling price is 19.99.

It looks almost exactly like the official Giants jacket that is sold through official retailers such as the Giants Dugout. The "San Francisco" logo looks similar, and the orange stripe at the shoulders is exactly like the official Giants jackets of the previous generation (the new ones don't).

And you wonder... just what kind of quality is this stuff?

I can tell you a few things about this jacket. Obviously, this is not SF Giants or MLB approved merchandise.
  • There is no official SF Giants logo on the left sleeve.
  • The logo looks extremely similar to this year's official Giants jacket, however instead of full orange, it uses a mixture of colors and the main giveaway is the word "California."
If you wear this jacket to a Giants game, you are a disgrace to to not just the team, but the fans who purchase the real stuff.

Below is the REAL Giants jacket made by Majestic. The newest jacket is a modified material that is actually lighter, but warmer. While the Giants Dugout sells them for nearly $130.00, you can go to Amazon and purchase it direct from the manufacturer for only $109.99 and you get free shipping too. To view item, click here.

Lastly, thanks to Phil Bronstein and his staff (including Eve) at the San Francisco Chronicle for contacting San Francisco Muni to find an answer on my previous blog posting about Muni not accepting transfer coupons for the return trip from AT&T park. Lets see if Muni and Giants management will accept it at the Giants' next homestand starting July 18, 2008 with Crazy Crab day (rehab the crab!).

See story here: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/bronstein/detail?&entry_id=28045

It is unbelieveable that a little blog by one person can change official policy on a public agency.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why don't they take the MUNI to BART discount?

I'm a little frustrated at San Francisco Muni for refusing to accept the "Muni to BART" ticket coupon when pre-purchasing Muni fare for the return trip home at AT&T Park.

The discount coupon is issued at all San Francisco BART stations and gives a 25 cent discount when riding Muni away from the station and a 25 cent discount when returning on a Muni vehicle going to a BART station within 24 hours of the coupon being issued.

I'm a fair weather fan at AT&T Park and I go to at least six to ten games during the summer, typically Friday night games and I try to get the best games, like against the Dodgers.

Since I don't trust taking Muni from one end of the city to the other at night (the 38 SUCKS at night), I park my car at BART Daly City and ride BART to Montgomery, recieve a transfer coupon for Muni Metro, pay $1.25 (includes the 25 cent discount), and get an open seat on the next metro train to AT&T Park.

When I try to return, I am instructed to purchase a transfer before boarding. It turns out that the vendors who sell the pre-paid transfers refuse to accept the transfer coupon for the quarter discount. When I questioned the employee, he didn't know why or why not, but encouarged me to ask Muni for some information and pass it along to him the next time I see him.

What the hell is Muni's problem with refusing to accept the coupon for the return trip to the BART station? They offer the 25 cent discount each way when you exit BART at Embarcadero, but experience tells me that if you try boarding Muni metro at Embarcadero on game day, you will be standing on a PACKED train. That's why I get off BART and transfer at Montgomery because I can get a seat.

WTF do I have to do to get my discount? Go the 30 Stockton bus stop, pay the discounted fare, get a transfer, and immeidately leave the bus so I can ride the metro with a 25 cent savings?

Hey Muni officials: It is time to change your policy and accept the discount coupon for the return trip home. Stop trying to RIP US OFF. I know that Muni is piss broke, but that doesn't mean that you dishonor your agreement with the citizens who use the system.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ballpark Security is Slow and Dumb - AT&T Park SF Giants

Here's a photo I took today of the line to get through security at AT&T Park.

They now have a new policy that if you want to bring in liquid beverages into the stadium, it must have the original manufacturers' seal on the bottle. What this means is that you cannot bring in any open bottles (say you are drinking some water while waiting in the long stupid line), and you can't bring in any more of those nice inexpensive ice cold coffee drinks from McDonald's and Starbucks.

Just how lame is security?
Let's see... in this photo, there are only FOUR people screening the main entrance gate at AT&T Park. And there's a huge line forming.

Just how STUPID is security?

In line, I noticed a lady had a half consumed open bottle of water in the bag. The security person would not let her through, and this guy behind me said "it's just water." I said to the guy "yeah, it's just water, you wonder why this policy is bullshit." Then I find later that a kid sneaked in a McDonald's drink, and was sitting about ten feet away from my row.

An anonymous poster in an article by the SF Examiner on the crackdown of teenage drinking at the ballpark states that:
  • "I am a security guard for the San Francisco Giants... We definitely could use more staff. Most fans arrive 35 [minutes] before game time. We literally have about 20,000 fans entering per gate with roughly 6 under paid guards checking bags. I could never understand the politics behind this. The San Francisco Giants are ranked the second best customer service and internal shop scores in the MLB league. We are also one of the lowest paid security departments in the MLB. The Giants organizations are very irresponsible..."

The Giants claim in an e-mailed response that I questioned them about their unsealed drink policy:
  • "The San Fancisco (YEAH... GREAT TYPO GIANTS REP. I work in a city called "Fancisco") Giants in cooperation with the City of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Police Department are attempting to mitigate underage consumption of alcoholic beverages in AT&T Park on Friday and Saturday nights. Most of the alcohol being smuggled into the ballpark from outside is vodka or grain alcohol in water bottles and rum in plastic Coca Cola bottles. Judging from last night's game and the huge amounts of alcohol we confiscated at the gates, and the large number of underage drinking citations given by undercover alcohol enforcement agents and SFPD inside and outside the ballpark, I believe our efforts were quite successful."
Just out of curiosity to the Giants/AT&T Park management, did you really confiscate "huge amounts of alcohol?" Or was it just simply a lot of unsealed bottles of soda, water, and juice?

Here's what I think:
  1. Park management is trying to rake in more money from concessions. Now, you can't buy that meal that comes with a drink at McDonald's, you can't have your nice Starbucks coffee on that cold night at the park, and why don't you just sniff the bottle and determine IT AINT ALCOHOL!
  2. The Giants management claims in an e-mail reply: "AT&T Park remains one of a minority of Major League ballparks that allow guests to bring in their own food and non-alcoholic beverages." Sorry, I don't believe you. All local Bay Area stadiums permit food and non-alcoholic drinks.
  3. WTF is this? An airport with TSA agents? The park security used to just look in your bag, and if you don't have a gun, soda can, or a glass bottle, you just go through. They would usually just feel the bag for any glass or cans. And even then, they should just look in the bag for a few seconds and let you pass through. Now it takes like ten seconds. Multiply that by 20,000+ fans, and you'll be ticked.
  4. It's just a great way to PISS OFF THE FANS. Just how much longer do we have to give up our basic rights to these ballpark assholes? So I have an open bottle, it's no problem, and let me in. What do I have to do, show my Alcoholics Anonymous completion certificate to prove I don't drink?
  5. I don't have a glass bottle that I can use as a weapon, I don't have a can that can be used as a weapon (really?). Shit, then they'll claim that a plastic bottle can be used as a weapon. Let me melt it with a lighter and make a sharp edge. Somehow folks in prison can sharpen a plastic toothbrush handle into a shiv.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's Never On Time - San Francisco Muni

I can't believe this happened today. I was less than an hour away from leaving work and I noticed on NextBus (a GPS enabled program that monitors all bus lines to give real-time predictions for every stop) said that the next bus was to arrive in 60 minutes.

Sixty minutes? Really? The bus line runs on 20 minute intervals.

So I called San Francisco 311 for some information and the lady told me that THREE of the buses on the line were put out of service. The ride home was crowded.

Yeah... great job Muni.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My 100th Posting & Was Featured on SFist

I can't believe that this is my 100th posting on my blog since I started just a couple of years ago. I bailed on the website concept and started blogging because it was easier to update and manage.

Just to make things a little sweeter, I was also featured today on San Francisco's most popular news blog site, SFist (the blog sister of Jen Chung's original creation known as Gothamist). They featured my previous posting about my creative slogans I've made about local San Francisco Bay Area cities and people on SFist posted their ideas of other slogans.

It's odd they would title it: "We Know You Can Kick Akit's Ass" but I give them credit for saying that I'm a "local fave." I don't even really know who reads this blog site! Please comment so I know who is frequently (or even infrequently) reading my "complaint" material.

My favorite quote I found from SFist about my fun list:
Daly City: "It's only foggy due to the large per capita ownership of rice cookers per person." Thanks SFist member Dick Powell.

I love SFist! The articles/postings is always interesting to read, and commenting on the stories is always fun. I especially loved the articles targeting ex-supervisor Ed Jew ("Oh No, Ed Jew!").

Thank you SFist! Because of you guys, I received 333 hits in just one day. This is the biggest record in one day's worth of visits to my site. Ever since February 2007, I've recieved 13,037 visits.

My List of City Slogans of the San Francisco Bay Area

The Chronicle did a funny article about odd slogans that is used around the SF Bay Area. For example, San Francisco: "The city that knows how."

So here's my list of local Bay Area cities. If you don't understand what it means, you don't read the news or live in the Bay Area:
  • San Francisco: ""Home" of disgraced ex-supervisor Ed Jew."
  • San Francisco: "Muni sucks."
  • San Francisco: "Blaming problems on the Mayor on a daily basis."
  • San Francisco: "We've got bums."
  • San Francisco: "Locals hate tourists. Get off the Cable Car and don't visit Pier 39."
  • Berkeley: "Smokin' weed and the know it all Cal students sleeping in trees."
  • Burlingame: "That's our international airport! Why did San Francisco claim it?"
  • Oakland: "Who the hell is Mayor Ron Dellums?"
  • Oakland: "Birthplace of Kaiser Permanente, damn that's creepy."
  • San Jose: "Kickin' San Francisco's butt on a daily basis."
  • San Jose: "Home of silicone valleys... we do boob jobs instead of making computer chips these days."
  • Daly City: "We still use plastic bags and styrofoam boxes."
  • Daly City: "Lower sales tax rate and we've got TARGET!"
  • Sausalito: "Small town, expensive toll bridge nearby."
  • Milpitas: "Outlet shopping galore."
  • Emeryville: "Sold out to IKEA."