Atta Ikede

January 7, 2009

Yesterday

Filed under: San Francisco — attaikede @ 8:31 pm

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December 24, 2008

Santa Barbara

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 3:24 pm

Here are some photos from my trip down Highway 1 to Santa Barbara w/ my friend in early December. Most are not touched up.

The sparkly ocean ones are my favourites.

Happy shoveling! I hear there’s another storm coming to the great lakes. Hehe. Wish you were here! :)

December 16, 2008

Paying the Dentist

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 9:03 am

I went to the dentist down here for the first time a couple weeks ago.  I just got the bill from the insurance company — surprise .. I pay $0! This is just more evidence I was born lucky, because after discussion w/ American people here, I realized I went about choosing a dentist all wrong!

What I did:

– Went on google maps, searched for a dentist and then checked the local providers on yelp. then checked the websites for the local dentists who had good yelp ratings.  Of those with decent websites, I picked the female. I called the office, confirmed they were taking new patients and went in.

What I should have done:

– come up with a short list, asked for rate sheets and analyzed those before making a decision.
Apparently, different dentists charge different prices and it’s a socially acceptable thing to call ahead and ask for prices.

I think this happens in Canada as well, but I’m not sure. My plan here is a 90% coverage plan. I have no idea how I ended up with a zero dollar copay for my previous visit, but in the normal scenario, if I expect to pay 10%, it’s in my interest to pick a cheaper dentist.

My dental plan is changing next year, but I’m not convinced I need to go through this dental rate comparison exercise. Obviously my dentist must be competitive if I ended up paying nothing!! Hehe.

December 11, 2008

Recession? Where are you?

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 10:53 pm

I checked under the bed, under the couch and under my chair. Nope, nothing scary there! Feeling better, I worked up the courage and finally logged in to my CIBC Investor’s Edge account to see how my portfolio is doing. Amazingly, it was doing ok! While I definitely lost some money, my entire portfolio is invested in a handful of stocks and a few general mutual funds. Basically it turned out that while a few of those stocks tanked, others .. slid. Overall it wasn’t total devastation and I left the house this morning smiling.

So apparently we’re in a recession. My morning alarm is set to NPR and for the last couple weeks there’s been repeated discussion on the disaster that is our economy, the global downturn and the 1 year recession. For the last month, the cover of Economist has been one scary picture after the next – a wounded tiger illustrating how capitalism has failed, a man peering into a giant black hole wondering where his savings are, etc.

My brain gets it. We’re in a recession. My gut though, is still confused. Recession?

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December 2, 2008

Why there are sometimes long dry spells between posts

Filed under: San Francisco — attaikede @ 8:37 am

I think I’ve already mentioned that I only write posts in the morning.  It’s 7:50 am right now. I figure I have 20 mintues to spend here at most before I have to get ready for work.

When I first moved here and started this blog, I had no friends, no activities and no possessions except for what was in my two suitcases. Honestly, at that time, I had nothing better to do then blog, which is why I could happily spend evenings carefully composing posts.

These days, between occasionally getting together with a friend, occasionally going to the gym, commitments to a few regular activities like soccer and (hopefully) volunteering, catching up on Desperate Housewives, and the usual assortment of chores, I’m usually reasonably occupied on most weeknights and even when I have time, I’m usually de-energized and not very creative :(

So you’d think I should be able to regularly write posts every morning, right? Wrong. The reasons? Guilt and Inertia!

My laptop has two spots:

On my desk/dining table. This is where I sit to do things that require active interaction with the computer – doing work, writing posts, managing photos, online banking, etc. This is where productivity happens.

On the coffee table, connected to the 24″ monitor. This is where the laptop goes when it needs to become my TV tuner/DVD/media device. When the laptop in that spot, I only use two applications – firefox if i’m watching web videos or vlc player if i’m watching something i’d previously downloaded. There is no productivity going on here. I suppose I could sit on my couch and be productive, but it’s so warm and cozy on the couch, sitting there reading something just makes me want a nap. Overall, yup, there is absolutely no productivity in this couch/coffee table zone.

I didn’t set up this  .. i dunno what to call it .. laptop division of labour?  on purpose… it just happened naturally and became a habit. Moving the laptop between spots is actually kind of a hassle because the battery doesn’t last as long as it used to so I always have to go and unplug, move and replug the power supply which requires me to unplus something from the outlet, which is usually a lamp, which means I have to go around and turn on other lights to compensate!! Seriously. It’s a 4 step process.

This hassle is what leads to inertia. Say I was catching up on a couple episodes of something on Sunday evening. When I wake up on Monday morning, my laptop will still be there in its “non productive” location. I dunno about you, but 4 step processes don’t seem very fun on Monday mornings, or in fact on any mornings. Therefore, there are generally no posts on mornings when the laptop is in its “non productive” location.

Eventually, at some pont in the week I’ll probably need to use my laptop to complete some task, which means I have to move it to one of the “productive” locations. Which productive location to use (dining table or desk) is determined by which area is less messy. This setup usually works out fine…. I’ll get my tasks done, write posts if I have something to say, etc…. EXCEPT in weeks where I’m behind at work, like I am right now. I was supposed to finish like two specs last week but didn’t get to it, so now I’m stressed out trying to finish that stuff in the next couple days. Sigh. In weeks like this, I just can’t bring myself to write posts. I feel like if I’m spending energy composing sentences and putting my thoughts together, I really should be doing that on specs rather than uselessly on blog posts. Guilt!!!

So now you know. Next time you visit this site and see no fresh material, you’ll know it’s because my laptop is in its non-productive location, or I’m behind at work or I’ve had a very boring few days!

November 21, 2008

Canada, meet California

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 7:58 pm

I’ve finally found it.

I’ve had an undeniable feeling of misfit-ness here ever since I moved. It’s been something I wanted to describe and have probably discussed to some extent earlier, but I haven’t been satisfied with any of my previous discussions on this topic. I couldn’t find the words to quite express the problem because it’s a feeling that only comes up when I talk to a certain subset of Californians.

But now I’ve found this: This blog/club here very obviously is and could only be a brainchild of members of this community. “Yes. we’re so rich, we take the time to care about the world and make the right choices. We know we’re rich because we constantly keep in mind the masses of humanity living on $2 a day. Gosh darn-it we’re just so priveleged!

I have only admiration for those who believe in sustainability and living-green, but you have to agree there’s something about the glossy apple logo and the “APLS” acronym that makes you go “wtf .. is this for real?” If you are like me, you may have also rolled your eyes and laughed. Out loud. lol.

Here’s another one. Reusable hand made sanitary napkins for girls in Africa. Again, on one hand, and especially seeing as I’m a woman, I admire the drive and desire that somebody took in getting this program together. But then, when I read the details of the scheme, I can’t help but have a mild feeling of disbelief. Yes, let’s give a bunch of girls in Africa reusable pads and force them to have waste water and time washing those disgusting thing, because giving them disposable tampons is bad for the environment. Again. wtf? I wonder, do the people who run the reusable pads website use their own products? I doubt it! It’s just another example of some do-gooder in the west deciding on the appropriate solution for poor people in developing countries. They’re just the modern version of 1500s hardcore missionaries except instead of peddling religion they’re peddling their environmentalism. I would suspect that average poor African to whom this program is directed is probably more worried about economic issues than environmental ones and rightly so!!

Anyway, there you go. These examples are pretty typical slices of the kind of mentality espoused here by a certain subset of Californians. Now imagine running into the “make your own tampon” or “apls” people in real life and you’ll get a sense of what some of my social situations are like. And I work in software! hahaha. Thank god for nerds.

I wonder what it’s like in Berkeley …

November 20, 2008

Pregnant lady

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 8:03 am

There’s a young pregnant lady I see sometimes around my neighbourhood here. She looks like she’s from south east asia – maybe vietnamese? – and she’s probably in her mid-late 20s.

The first time I saw her was at a nail salon down the street here. One day last month I went to that place to get bright red toe polish. Haha. It was really sunny out, and I was wearing sandals, and I just had this urge!! Anyway, the pregnant lady was there heavily chastising a little girl, who I think was the owner’s daughter, to the point that the little girl was crying! I think it was some kind of dispute over school work – perhaps the kid was playing too many video games and not spending enough time on math – because the pregnant woman kept waving a notebook around. The kid’s mom seemed to be on the pregnant lady’s side, but pretty much stayed out of the matter. I felt pretty awkward, because I was there waiting for the polish to dry, and there was another customer in the room too! I left as soon as possible.

I saw that pregnant lady again last weekend, but this time, she was wearing a brown uniform and was walking around with a guy who was also wearing the same uniform! I think she must have a second job as a security guard or something and she was out for lunch with her coworker.

Amazing! This woman is enormously pregnant, works two jobs and still has time to look after that kid’s homework. I get tired just by working my one day job where I mainly sit in chairs all day *_*.

It is perhaps equally amazing that I’ve made conclusions on this woman’s life story here after just seeing her 2 times and not even exchanging one word with her…

October 5, 2008

That other “wal” store

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 11:50 am

Have you ever done those puzzle games where you complete the word? In a puzzle context you usually have to pick a word ending that has the right number of characters, but if we play it more generally it’s just fun to see what people’s word associations are.

Spider ___ (i think spider man! Maybe you think spider web or spider bite. Yuck.)

Fruit ___ (I think flan, but maybe you think tree or tart. Mmm .. fruit flan …)

Now let’s try this one:

Wal ___

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August 31, 2008

Autobahn

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 8:21 am

There are highways in Germany called autobahns that don’t have speed limits. In fact all they have is a minimum required speed. I think everybody who owns a BMW dreams of driving on these highways. Heck, sometimes even I dream of driving on those highways! hehe.

In my experience, highway driving speeds in and around San Francisco are quite slow. Those of us who cut our teeth on the 401 know that you can go up to 130 km/h without being the fastest car on the road and it’s normal to change lanes at that speed. In fact at 130 km/h you’ll be forced into the middle lane like a turtle so that speeders can zoom past you in the left lane at 140, 150 and up. That’s what happens on a Sunday morning when volume is reasonable.

San Francisco is very different: There are several highways in the area and they’re all slow. if you drive at 80 mph ( =130 km/h), you WILL be the fastest car on the road. In fact, you can’t drive faster than 70 mph unless you have a clear view of the road ahead and know there isn’t a cop there. The cop watch gets stressful after a while so the best strategy is just tough it out at 65 mph. It’s slow, but at least it’s safer and you’re um .. saving gas.

There is one exception, however, and that is what I refer to as San Francisco’s autobahn. What is this mythical place? It’s the Bay Bridge!

Bay Bridge from Coit Tower

The bridge is a double decker highway — outbound traffic is on the lower rung and inbound traffic is on the upper rung. It’s something like 5 or 6 lanes each way.
I think maybe it’s the sudden expansion from 3 lanes to 6 that gets drivers excited, cuz speeds noticeably pick up under there. It’s my favourite place to drive!

August 22, 2008

San Jose Public Transit – VTA

Filed under: San Francisco, Uncategorized — attaikede @ 6:22 pm

The best thing about San Jose is the public transit. They’ve implemented some very thoughtful touches! The system is called the “VTA”.

People love to hate public transit and it’s no different for VTA – Everybody told me that it sucks and that it’s dangerous. I was only in town for a few days, didn’t ride the transit at odd hours and didn’t travel extensively on the network so it’s possible that the system does suck and is dangerous at times; however I can say with certainty that it’s pleasant to ride sometimes and definitely connects the most important places in San Jose.

(Side Note: The most important places in SJ are, in my opinion: (1) downtown .. this is where the convention center and hotel cluster is at (2) Santana Row .. this is where the nice restaurants are (3) Mall 1 .. a high end mall near Santana Row and (4) Mall 2 .. a lower end mall. Mall 2 has a Target. Mall 1 has a Banana Republic.)

I didn’t want to bore you with all my obscure observations on how great the VTA is, so here are my top 2 favourite things about it:

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