Atta Ikede

March 21, 2008

The Teeth and Nails Star

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 3:09 pm

My buddy from my last job, Juan, is really into cooking. He’s a really good cook!

We sat right next to each other for at least a year and that’s how he became my buddy. We in fact got separated for a few months but I was kinda lonely at my new desk and I guess he missed me too, because he invited me back to the spot next to him after this contractor guy who’d been occupying it moved out! Hehe .. makes me smile thinking about it. I took up the invitation and we were neighbours again until I left the firm! Good times.

[Side note: i have a habit of becoming buddies with a person who sits next to me. Somebody made a comment about this at my going away dinner and I realized it’s true! Most of my friends are people I sat next to at some point (work, school, university) and then we got over our differences and bonded, probably because I kept up the chit chat and eventually wore the other person down even if they were shy (that’s you II)! hehehe.

There’s a fuzzy cube wall between me and my new neighbour at work. That guy had better watch out! A fuzzy wall is no match for me :)]

Juan really likes this woman on the food network – Giada De Laurentis. I hadn’t seen her show back then so I couldn’t comment on her cooking prowess. I suspect Juan mainly just likes her cuz she’s hot. I finally got a chance to watch her show yesterday.

There are two entities that star in her show: her teeth (beautiful) and her nails (immaculate). The tempo of the show is like something for ADD people. The camera madly cuts from her nails to her teeth, back and forth again and again with little tiny shots of food in between. The food part of it is like this: you see her flick a few things back and forth with her nails, and then she’ll say “perfect!” in a really perky way and we’ll see a lot of teeth, and then the camera quickly goes back to her nails again where you see her flick something else back and forth, and then she’ll say “perfect!” in a really perky way again!! Repeat for half an hour and youl get the gist of the show.

I was a bit feverish when I was watching this show last night, so maybe that made me more susceptible to the teeth/nail combo of this show, but honestly .. I was hypnotized! I know it sounds like a really lame show – and objectively, I’d say it is – but it’s perky perfect food prepation on speed! no mess no stress and with the camera buzzing around so much I felt like my eyes were transfixed on the screen!

haha .. yes. I think I’ve become a fan.

The Mirage

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 2:28 pm

i had been thinking about moving away from toronto for almost 2 years before i actually pulled it off. That’s just how long it took for me to make up my mind about it. Things started happening really fast after I finally made up my mind! :)

There’s so much inertia in the present. I didn’t have any leases or commitments to worry about, so most of my inertia was just mental. Leaving my friends, my family … But that’s probably the strongest inertia of all! How could I leave the warm blanket of comfort that had developed around me for something that might end up being cold and lonely? It felt so warm and cozy there where I was!

I think the strongest factor in overriding my inertia was the promise of a clean slate. The promise and opportunity of going somewhere I could be a stranger, where I could adopt whatever persona and habits I wanted. I could even test out trial personas to see what fits! So tantalizing!

Well guess what. I think I’ve become jaded about this whole “clean slate” thing. There is no clean slate!!

A couple of my other friends have blogs, and some of them link to their friends’ blogs. There’s this whole chain of blogs a person can peruse, should they have the time.

A few day ago, I was poking around certain blog, and followed a link to another person’s blog. Let’s call this person XYZ.

XYZ and I have some mutual friends and although we’re technically not friends, it’s one of those things where I vaguely know the guy because i’ve just seen him around a few times here and there over the years. XYZ moved to a foreign country shortly before I did. In his blog, he talked about how he was looking forward to starting fresh etc., and I suppose was trying his best at it, but then later he blogged about how he’d unfortunately slipped up and gotten back to his old habits and developed a certain reputation within his new crew as a result. He seemed disappointed. I don’t know him that well, so I didn’t read everything in great detail, but I think the gist was that his new reputation was not so different than the one he had back home! In fact, perhaps his old reputation followed him to his new life!

(side note .. it feels weird to read the personal blog of a person I don’t really know. voyeuristic perhaps ??)

I believe his story! Different people, different environment, but same experience. I think there’s some degree of clean slated-ness that a physical move brings, especially when the new surroundings are completely cut-off from the old, but I don’t think a total clean slate is possible.

The only things that are immediately changeable are the superficial things. My hair, my body, my clothes. Even some of those are not so immediate.

Can the core essence of me, that which has been shaped by a lifetime of behaviour and experience, be changed so easily? Would I even want to change that? i have the values I do because I choose to have them. If I am to be a person of integrity, I have to ensure that my values are my own! I dont want to change them for flippant reasons. I have the habits I do because my experience dictates they are required. If those decisions shape my personality in certain ways, so be it! ok, that went a little off topic – In summary, my point here is that for one reason or another I don’t think that a core essence of a person is changeable.

Life experience is shaped by superficial things. That’s because life experience is shaped by people, and people are superficial. But I think that there’s a certain amount of depth that is required for any life experience to be meaningful, and that’s where the essence of a person shines through.

What I mean by that is yeah, maybe my life would be different if I changed my hair/body/clothes, because maybe I’d be exposed to different environments or sub-cultures because i’d superficially seem more approachable, but then i’d go open my mouth and express a certain opinion, or stay silent when I should have spoken, or express some other default behaviour — and then Bam! Suddenly it would be back to my usual life experience. Different people, same experience.

I haven’t had any experiences to the extent of what XYZ was talking about, but I think I’d been having some second thoughts about the reality of this clean slate thing in the back of my mind and they crystallized when I read his posts. Who knows, maybe he was just going all worst case scenario about stuff, but reading his posts was like .. seeing a reflection of my own fragmented thoughts on the subject. It resonated.

Do you know that expression “Putting lipstick on a pig” ? It means that you can dress up a pig but it’s still a pig. Maybe that’s what this idea of a clean slate is. I can move around, get a new apartment, buy new clothes, but that’s just the lipstick and inside i’m still a pig.

The clean slate is a mirage.

[ side note: I feel weird saying i’m a pig. I’d rather be a monkey … or a leopard! Way more exciting.]

ps – Don’t worry, i’m still happy here, and definitely glad I moved .. but i dunno. Feeling like the gloss is kinda wearing off the whole scheme.

March 19, 2008

The skateboard

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 1:38 pm

I bought a skateboard and injured myself on it yesterday. Exciting, but painful.

I’ve got one of those hot/cold patches on my leg now, feeling major deja vu to last year when I hurt my knee. The menthol fumes from that thing are making me feel strange. I wish I could call Sylvia and complain, so that she’d offer to make me tea, and then remind me (with possibly more than a little smugness) that I am now the complainer. hehehe. Classic! Unfortunately it’s after midnight over there, so I’m more likely to be on the receiving end of complaints if I call her now. Hmm .. I’ll just save them up for tomorrow instead!!

I’ve been scared to go snowboarding since I hurt myself last year. I thought about it a few times this winter, but I kept feeling nervous about it. Maybe the fact that I’d been living like a corpse/hermit since September had something to do with it .. I dunno. Anyway, all that weird stuff is over with now and I’ve been back to my normal self – a normal self who is highly susceptible to fads and obsessions!

Skateboarding is fairly common here in San Fran. Definitely part of the urban environment here. The only skateboarders I ever saw in Toronto were teenaged boys. In San Francisco, I’ve seen a variety of women, men, children, homeless type people, non-homeless type people, nerdy people, grubby people, etc. happily going about  on skateboards, riding with varying degrees of skill.

The person who inspired me to go and buy a skateboard was a slightly overweight, not young not old woman who was barely in control of her board! I wait for the subway every morning at a corner where two subway lines cross before they go into the underground to go downtown.  I don’t know if I mentioned that already. If there’s no train visible, the other riders and I just hang around the corner to see which of the two trains gets there first and then go to the appropriate stop once we see one coming.

[Side Note — aren’t the words stop and spot really interesting? I thought about this because i mistyped stop in the paragraph above as spot when I first typed that sentence. I went back and corrected it, because I meant to say stop as in train stop, but realized that it makes sense as stop or spot! A stop can be a spot, and a spot can be a stop!]

Anyway, so I was waiting for a train at the corner last week, and saw that girl I mentioned earlier go by on her skateboard. Her arms were waving all over the place, and she just looked like she was going to wipe out at any minute! I watched, with mounting amazement, as she managed to get all the way down the street, manoevring around the crates of oranges for sale in front of the little grocery stores, a few pedestrians, and more than a couple of curbs! She made it all the way to Market Street (a very busy street. Like Yonge Street) and jumped off her board there because it was a red light! Wow! It was a clean ride. Borderline, but clean. I was sooo tantalized!

After that I kept noticing skateboarders, and boarders, and started googling for stores and tips.  Luckily there are a few stores near where I live so I went to check one out. That one was closed so I used my trusty iphone to google for another store. I found one, and DLX was open. DLX store only sells custom skateboards where you pick the parts and they (or you) put it together, but since I obviously have no clue what the parts are called or what parts are required, I hadn’t any intention to buy when I went in there. The only reason I even went to that particular store is that my iphone googling indicated that it’s a fairly well known skateboarding store, and since it’s in my neighbourhood, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

Well the store lived up! It was surprisingly an extremely small store, so I had to make eye contact with the store clerks right as I went in. I chatted with one of the clerks, a kid named Terry, and he showed me different things and answered lots of my questions. A really young kid and a possibly homeless guy also showed up in the store while I was talking to the clerk. Now none of the 3 of us customers superficially appeared like  big skateboarder money spenders, but the store clerks treated us with exactly the same courtesy and gentle helpfulness. No attitude whatsoever! I was extremely impressed by the service. I bet those stodgy old stores like the Bay would get more customers if they treated customers even half as well as DLX treats theirs!

Anyway, Terry ended up making me a deal where he put together the board for me using a deck (deck = the part you stand on) he had received as a promo item. The deck has a really colourful graphic of the NYC skyline on the back, and it was just .. irresistable. He’d obviously gotten the deck for free, and he priced it really low for me and since I’d already googled prices I just spontaneously accepted!

I immediately took the new board to a small side street near where I live to practice! It’s the perfect street — got some cars parked on the side but no traffic, and has an extremely, extremely gentle slope. It’s practically horizontal, really. These two painter guys were tidying up stuff in their van a little ways up the street, and they offered to build me a ramp! haha! I was like umm .. can’t you see me struggling here!! Luckily skateboarding really is a lot like snowboarding, and soon enough I was going down the street decently well! Still having trouble with the heel edge though! Unfortunately I got stuck at a manhole during my last run, lost my balance, and hurt myself. I think I might have pulled a muscle!

Hopefully it’ll get better soon. The area around my new apartment is quite a bit more hilly than where I am now, so maybe i’ll be taking my board on the bus and coming back here to practice!

March 14, 2008

David Suzuki … I’ve got my eye on you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 5:59 am

I wasn’t too surprised by the recent news surrounding Elliot Spitzer.

You probably know about it, but in case you don’t, he was a lawyer in NYC who had a reputation for going after Wall Street types and then he went on to become Governor. He was a classic do-gooder … I read that he prosecuted the mafia and wall street types! Bold.

Unfortunately, a sex scandal about him was recently uncovered. Apparently he was flying perky young brunettes down to DC from NYC to the tune of $4K for “services”.

That’s how it is with do-gooders. The golden boys become the tarnished boys. Why?

I bet there’s some dirt out there somewhere on David Suzuki. He’s been a do-gooder for decades! I bet he uses saran wrap to pack his entire lunch every day. Probably wraps his carrot sticks, his sprout sandwich and probably wraps his juice box too, just to make sure the straw stays put. I’ll keep my eye on CBC just in case. After the story breaks, Peter Mansbridge will interview him and they’ll both wear turtlenecks.

March 13, 2008

The L.A. girls and the inside scoop on San Francisco

Filed under: San Francisco — Tags: — attaikede @ 4:06 am

I joined a soccer team. I just joined up on my own and it appears that most of the other people on my team did as well. Fun! Most of the teammates seem really nice or at least are pretty good at soccer. I assisted in 1 goal. We creamed the opposition, winning 5-2! (:
The interesting surprise about this team is that all the girls other than me are blonde (not naturally) and live in the Marina district! Just visualize the stereotypical California blonde girl in terms of appearance, speech patterns, etc and it’ll be pretty accurate, at least for this crew. 2 of them are from LA and just moved here a couple weeks ago. I think it’s going to be fun being on a team with them, and i’m really curious to see whether we’ll end up being friends or not.

Now the Marina district is like … a way trendier, more expensive and much prettier version of say, Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto. Concentration of young people, shopping, restaurants etc. Pro-Marina people say that the restaurants are great, lots of cute shops and the locals are hot (you know, attractive females and hot guys who drive beemers and probably work in finance). Anti-Marina people say that it’s where the high maintenance clone people live.

There’s truth to both viewpoints. There’s definitely a very strong clone vibe – the point about my teammates being blonde is funny because it seems like all the blondes in San Fran live in the Marina. It’s also the only neighbourhood where I saw guys walking around with their golf shirt collars turned up — a classic sign of a guy that’s just too trendy to be real. Those guys are probably wearing Diesel jeans too, but I couldn’t tell when I was driving by. And those Beemers? Yeah .. those bastards cut me off multiple times when I was driving down there house hunting during the past couple weeks. I took revenge though, so we’re all square. It also appears to be the “whitest” neighbourhood. Nobody specifically told me that (whereas lots of people told me about the clones issue) , but it’s something I noticed — probably because the Haight/Mission area where I am now is so hugely latino dominated and certain subway lines I take sometimes have lots of Chinese poeple.

[Sidebar .. I have no idea where Indian people from India live. There are tons and tons of them in San Fran and all over the valley … I see them downtown during work hours, and near tourist attractions, but I never see them on transit or in neighbourhoods when I’m walking around. I do sometimes see “fake” Indians like me on the subway, but even that is rare. Where are the Indians?]

Anyway, on the pro Marina side, it’s very safe and very cute up there (I say up because it’s at the north end of the city. Other people describe it as down because you have to go downhill to get there. My new apartment will be at the top of a hill AND in the north end of the city … obviously I only want to move up (: ). It’s noticeably less of a bum-magnet then the other areas of the city and it’s just better maintained and less run down.

My nickname for San Francisco is “the City of Intersperced Slums” .. because that’s what it’s like here. I’m using the term “slum” to describe a run down place with peeling paint and bedsheets in the sometimes broken windows. People rave about how great San Francisco is, but really, it’s randomly crappy and strange all over the place with pockets of gentrification here and there. Property prices are so crazy that you’ll get dumps next to palaces in the nicest parts of the city and the worst parts of the city! I guess absentee landlords have no incentive to spruce up homes but new buyers flush with cash from their .com cashouts probably want to turn their pads into paradise-nests. Who knows. Aside from that though, the neighbourhoods definitely have a feel to them. For example, walk down Haight Street and you’ll see hitchhikers with guitars strumming for cash trying to get to BC, some stoned looking people hanging out on the street with their dogs, the smell of incense will be in the air and every third store will be some crazy Indian/Nepali/Yoga/Vintage store. It’s very hippie-ish and vibrant and laid back and mellow. I like it. Mission District on the other hand, personally, I find a bit run down, but there are tons of bars everywhere. If you want to go for a beer you can have a choice of 10 places on ONE block. I live near those two neighbourhoods so I know them a bit better, but each neighbourhood in the city has its own restaurant vibe, nightlife vibe, etc. and for a small city, it’s pleasantly multicultural and interesting. Overall, just imagine this neighbourhoody feel with the intersperced slum overlay .. and that’s San Francisco in a nutshell! Marina has less intersperced slums then other neighbourhoods, but as you can see from the cons listed above I guess there’s a price to pay in terms of less of a vibrant environment

I’m very surprised that large parts of the city are still so unsafe and rundown despite the sky-high property prices. The downtown is especially disappointing. Perhaps it’s because most of the silicon valley action has been in the valley (leaving San Francisco downtown to the finance types) and so the area around downtown isn’t in demand and so hasn’t developed? Or maybe it’s because the west coast attracts homeless people from all over North America and there are some large homeless shelters downtown? I actually saw a lineup of homeless men waiting to get into a shelter one time. Never saw that before in my life!! I shouldn’t be surprised though .. after all, this is the city of intersperced slums! Those neighbourhoods are slowly becoming nicer though, and I bet it’ll be completely different in 5 or 10 years. More and more tech firms are starting to open offices downtown or in San Francisco (like where I work!), and there are lots of condos/lofts going up too, which in turn attract restaurants and stores. The areas are still extremely sketchy, but hey … people who can afford $3K for 1 bedroom condo/loft can probably afford a very nice car as well, in which case the state of the neighbourhood really doesn’t matter so much! haha!

I think the best thing about San Francisco is the landscape. The city itself is ok, nothing to rave about for people moving here from a decent city like Toronto, but mountains, the bay, and the hills are incredible. The views and ambiance change every day with the fog and the clouds. I really love it here. The weather is amazing too — perfectly temperate. Not too hot, not too cold. I see people wearing scarves and winter coats in the subway, but they’re probably coming from the west near the Ocean where it’s much foggier and perhaps colder. I live in a more central area and wearing a sweatshirt / light jacket everywhere has been perfect for me.

Hmm.. that was a long and meandering post. Summary – soccer fun, soccer team mates interesting, San Francisco good :)

March 11, 2008

My new iPhone!

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:14 pm

It came in the mail yesterday. Activation took a few minutes; no sweat. Waiting the 2 days it takes for it to ship was more stressful then getting it working! I had to order it online –  the store clerks at AT&T were militant about requiring a social security number. No way Jose! (come to think of it, it’s possible his name actually was Jose!)

I love it! It’s hard to say exactly what’s so great about it … it’s a very basic tool. Phone, music, email, photos, texts. Nothing earth shattering – and yet it’s so magical!  I think it’s the touch functionality and the slick simplicity of the UI that gets people hooked.

Sigh .. I love America. I really do!

Homemakers gone insane

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 3:25 am

Here‘s a website for homemakers gone insane.

Who makes websites like this?? What kind of people USE these tips ?? Can you imagine? The seemingly normal person on the elevator next to you actually goes home and turns soap into a seasonal motif?

March 6, 2008

The Magical Credit/Debit Card

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 4:39 am

Instead of regular old boring debit cards like we have in Canada, US banks issue amazing debit cards — it’s debit on steroids!

I got mine at Bank of America, but all the major banks have this product.

The sales associate at the branch really bowled me over with her description of the product — apparently I can choose to do credit or debit transactions on it, but using this card does not build up my credit rating. So then .. how is it giving me “credit”?  It just sounded like a lot of mumbo jumbo and left the branch feeling pretty confused.

I went online afterwards and read up, and now i think I’m clear. Really, it’s just a plain old debit card but you can do 2 physical transactions on it: (1) a traditional debit transaction where you swipe and enter your pin or (2)  a traditional credit transaction where you swipe and sign. No pin required!  The choice of debit or credit is really just a choice of what kind of physical transaction I, as a customer, feel more secure doing. The money is immediately deducted from my account either way, so technically it’s a normal debit transaction either way.

I kind of felt like the bank’s description of this product was misleading. it’s not credit!! Wouldn’t people get confused when the bank calls it credit, and just spend and spend and not realize that *money is getting deducted* ?? Probably just makes people go into overdraft!

I had my very first credit transaction using my debit card today at the good old Squat and Gobble crepe restaurant across the street. I am digesting my purchase as I type! :) mmm …

Butts on the Escalator

Filed under: Uncategorized — attaikede @ 4:24 am

I have to take at least 3 escalators at least twice a day. There are two escalators to get out of the subway up to street level. There is one escalator to get up to my floor at work.

Usually, if the escalator isn’t packed, people will stand on every other step. This makes sense and is a very efficient arrangement — standing on every step gets a bit crowded (especially since most women are carrying so many bags), but waiting for 2 or 3 steps to go by gets a bit weird if there is a steady stream of people trying to go up the escalator.

I don’t know if it’s my height, or the depth of the escalator stairs, or some combination thereof, but I always end up staring at people’s butts when I stand on the escalator. I try to avoid this by standing sideways, or by walking up, but it’s usually a bit busy in the morning which means that even if i’m walking up, i’m walking behind somebody and their foot is on every other step as mine, resulting in me — staring at their butt.

This makes me paranoid that other people are staring at MY butt!

I wonder .. is everybody riding every escalator in the world thinking about butts if he/she isn’t completely zoned out thinking about something else? Becuase the thing is .. when you’re on an escalator, there isn’t anything else to look at, so it’s only natural to look ahead and see/think about the thing in front, which unfortunately is probably a butt. What are they thinking about? Are they all staring at the floor to avoid this awkward situation? All standing sideways? Does every regular escalator rider have this awkwardness? Really. So many questions!

Public transit continues to shock and awe (Part 2: Shock!)

Filed under: San Francisco — attaikede @ 4:18 am

Women are so rude! Every nudge, jab and elbow I’ve received on transit to-date has been courtesy of a female. So far I’ve come up with two explanations:

(1) Women are serial and prolific bag carriers. A dude *might* have one bag, but women? They walk around with multiple bags! Huge bags! Shopping bags! Even worse, women are so used to carrying bags that they’re not afraid to use those bags as shovels to part the crowd. So uncivilized! I mean sure, maybe Moses did part the sea, but he sure as hell didn’t do it with a bag!

(2) Women can get away with being uncivilized. Men are usually trained to be polite, especially to women! Chances are, men will keep their hands to themselves (unless they are perverts) and keep their accessories in check, and behave in an orderly fashion when entering and exiting the transit system. Women? They’re uncivilized! They’re far more likely to push and shove, using any and all accessories as weapons in the fray! Even worse, half of them are wearing unsuitable footwear which means that all this pushing and shoving to get ahead is totally pointless seeing as they just end up standing on the escalator, and sometimes on the wrong side of the escalator. Sigh.

Ladies, ladies .. why ??

On a related note .. Men are so creeeeepy! Every creepy incidence I’ve had on transit to-date has been courtesy of a male!!

The worst is when you have to grab onto a pole that other people are touching. it’s just weird when people grab and let go of the pole, and fingers touch, and then they look at you .. and then it becopmes awkward. Nowadays I just try to hold onto the door or lean against a wall. That’s a big relief.

Another weird thing happens when you’re getting pushed deeper into the car because of uncivilized women pushing behind you .. if you have to go by a guy, sometimes it gets creepy when he looks over to see who it was, and then he keeps staring at you after you sit down. Ugh. That happened to me yesterday on the bus going up to my new apartment. That particular gentleman continued staring at me even after he got OFF the bus!! So gross. I could feel it!

Luckily, this whole male problem can be avoided by taking the right route, and I’ve only had this problem a handful of times anyway. I’m going to be living in a semi-preppy area of town so I have a choice of bus routes, each with its own typical clientele.

[Side Note – one of those bus routes I could take every day goes down union st (a street where there are some trendy shops) and ends up in the ultra-preppy Marina district. Last time I took that bus, honestly, it was noticeably stacked with blonde women! I’ve never seen so many blonde women in one spot in San Fran (San Fran is surprisingly non-blonde .. especially for California). Two of these women were like twins! Talking on their cell phones holding them in their right hand, and dressed identically in pointy shoes and long black coats, and totally oblivious to how funny they all looked sitting *right next to each other*, being identical! Kind of funny.]

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