The Life Coach

Posted on November 13th, 2016 by Sammy

“Right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s too early. I’m just sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all of the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.

“I live in that country where half of the people ignored all of that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me. It’s got nothing to do with the environment and Obamacare, and all of the other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all of those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump.

“I look at the Evangelicals and I wonder, those values don’t mean anything to them? All of those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are, and how we want to live, and what kind of people we are. That’s why I have great respect for people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, John Kasich, who I disagree with on a lot of political things, but they had enough fiber and respect for humanity and tolerance for all groups to say what they said about the man.

“That’s what worries me. I get it, of course we want to be successful, we’re all going to say that. Everybody wants to be successful, it’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. But any reasonable person would come to that conclusion, but it does not take away the fact that he used that fear mongering, and all of the comments, from day one, the race bating with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living, and with whom I’m living.

“The fact that people can just gloss that over, start talking about the transition team, and we’re all going to be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things. And now we see that he’s already backing off of immigration and Obamacare and other things, so was it a big fake, which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up. To get elected. And what gets lost in the process are African Americans, and Hispanics, and women, and the gay population, not to mention the eighth grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on. That’s what a seventh grade, eighth grade bully does. And he was elected president of the United States. We would have scolded our kids. We would have had discussions until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.”

A reporter then interrupted him.

“I’m not done,” Popovich said. “One could go on and on, we didn’t make this stuff up. He’s angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. That’s ironic to me. It makes no sense. So that’s my real fear, and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group’s situations. I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person. How disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups that voted for him, it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. My final conclusion is, my big fear is — we are Rome.”

Gregg Popovich


Creativity within constraints

Posted on July 22nd, 2016 by Sammy

Joshua told me he wanted to make a version of a Bolognese, the Italian meat sauce. I told him that was fine, but he had to use only Korean ingredients. I often set these kinds of limitations, because I’m a big believer that creativity comes from working within constraints. (And also, maybe it’s a form of payback; when I was a kid in northern Virginia, my mother had to make her Korean dishes using only ingredients she could find at the local Safeway.)

David Chang


Ageist Political Systems

Posted on February 29th, 2016 by Sammy

As Greg Jericho reported in the Guardian, from 2003–04 to 2011–12, households where the head was aged 55 to 64 saw their wealth rise $174,000 (19%). The households of 24- to 34-year-olds lost $10,400 in wealth – a 4% drop. In major metropolitan areas, the shut-out of the young from the housing market is almost complete.

This relative disadvantage is treated not as the outcome of fate or policy, but as a matter of morality, a kind of just deserts. Young people angered by these laws are trivial, selfish, deluded and threatening. Just as they can’t get regular work because they’re precious, lazy and disloyal. Just as they can’t be allowed to drink because they’re violent, noisy and irresponsible. If they complain it’s only more evidence that they’re spoilt


Real Victims

Posted on September 27th, 2015 by Sammy

Recently I came across this article. Read as you will, it’s a scathing evaluation of how the tech industry is affecting the city of San Francisco … from the perspective of an Irish white male tech editor.

I think gentrification is a real problem for a variety of reasons causing real pain and hurt to (real people)™ and I know as a 24-year-old Google employee making a good amount of money, also as an East coast transplant, also as someone who pays a pretty ridiculous sum to live in the (formerly working class & predominantly latino) mission district, I’ve become the spitting definition of a yuppie gentrifier since April 2015. And people are mad:

leave_the_mission

This rage is understandable. And I understand that to be an ally to suffering people you must not make issues about yourself but instead highlight what actual damage and hurt is happening so that change can take place. Which is why I have such a problem with this article. It contains a set of speculative and subjective assessments and nothing of real substance. Its conclusion is that the stereotype of the gentrifiers (rich, tech-oriented, well-educated folks) are boring, and that’s the issue that matters in re gentrification. Oh, and that “artists, artisans, and tradespeople” are descriptive of who is being pushed out, never mind all the actual working / lower middle class people (drivers, cooks, teachers, store clerks, nurses, etc) who are actually being pushed out too, since they fit his description of “…responsible, hard-working people…quiet by 11pm.”

Surely the culture of a place matters but what people are most angry about is being driven out of their long-term homes and the communities (families) they have deep ties to. The murals are not for you or your boredom, Adrian Weckler. The murals were painted by and for the families that are being forced to leave: what’s sad isn’t the murals disappearing, it’s the people.

Attached to the link I found to this article was an appeal to SF residents:

All I ask of my friends who might read this and feel a slight twinge of recognition in themselves is please be conscious of the city’s legacy. Learn its history. Support its artists. Don’t abuse and exploit it. Go see its bands. Don’t be such an obvious part of the problem. I can barely walk through the neighborhood I’ve lived in 10 years without overhearing almost satirically self-entitled conversations. Help!!

For those that haven’t been here that long, let me explain: this vortex of reclaimed wood, cold-pressed juice, $6 toast, and cultural vacancy used to be different in a huge number of substantive ways. It’s so tragic; the rapid decline of the city I loved. The city that actually compelled me to leave LA because at the time, it seemed more interesting (imagine that!). I’m not a knee-jerk nostalgist, shaking my fist at progress. When I moved to my neighborhood, I was the “gentry.” But the monied intensity of the last 4-ish years is irrevocably harming one of the world’s greatest urban centers. A city whose cultural impact has reverberated through American history since the mid-19th century. And that city is dissolving under the weight of mass self-indulgence. It’s a genuine tragedy.

SO, if you’re not one of my friends who’s either already been kicked out, is fearing their impending eviciton, or generally struggling and are instead living comfortably because of an industry that pays you wildly disproportionate money to make ephemeral things that most people actually don’t need — just think. Get creative about what you can do to help

This response was well-intentioned but read as “yet another transplant misunderstanding the tragedy of gentrification.” It takes the real hurt by the people who live here and eliminates it, framing it from the gentry’s eyes: “this city is becoming more boring for me.” Unsurprisingly it was written by a white-male-former-tech-employee-turned-musician.

Empathy is important but it must be toward the right things, things that lead to action: seeing a city’s bands and spending money on art isn’t actually doing much to help hurting families. “Don’t abuse and exploit it” isn’t entirely actionable advice. “Don’t be such an obvious part of the problem” is similar and smells of an ironic double meaning.

The response also points to the emptiness of the original article. Since I don’t think it’s valid to criticize something without offering what I expected, here are a few points I think are important to understand.

Presenting… The Real Problems™ of Gentrification!

1. Rent

Rent is the problem driving most negative effects of gentrification.

UC Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti calculated that a single tech job typically produces five additional local-services jobs.

But in San Francisco, that spillover effect is much smaller. This is in no small part because so much of our incomes end up going toward housing costs. The city’s economist Ted Egan estimates that each San Francisco tech job likely creates somewhere slightly north of two extra jobs, not five.

The spectre haunting San Francisco, The Economist. April 16, 2014

The Weckler article glosses over causes of this rent problem and the real pain it causes for people at all levels (but especially the working class). The only quote about rent was by his rich friend who apparently pays $5000/mo for her apartment. Never mind that many recent transplants can’t even give back to the community economically in ways it would really help, because they’re living in share houses with a single bathroom for four people, and working class long-term residents have been resorting to similar. Never mind that not all those hard working young people are rich, or that some have graduated with six figures of college debt in a flawed educational system.

2. Suffering People

I will firmly admit that I don’t add too much to a city’s culture. I don’t sing, I don’t make things and I can’t really cook. I’m not a community event organiser. (I don’t even know many of my immediate neighbours.) I’m exactly like many of the people who have colonised San Francisco: safe but boring. And it’s exactly this type of demographic that, in over-abundance, sucks the buzz out of a community.

We have to stop making like the problem with gentrification is the disappearance of singers and painters. It’s the damage that’s being caused to their families and their long-term community roots.

Imagine your hometown becomes attractive to an entire set of people a magnitude more wealthy than you (doesn’t matter who you are, there’s always someone richer) with a culture you don’t entirely understand (whether you like it or not is something else). If it can coexist with your culture and you aren’t being forced out of your very home and you can still have your way of life and your community, it may still be sad to you that the dominant culture is changing, but this is something you can adapt to. This isn’t the tragedy; the tragedy is when grandma can’t afford a place within a 15 mile radius and is being evicted by a landlord who can no longer afford to ignore her $500/mo rent in a market where people are willing to pay $3000/mo. The landlord is willing to take the unit off the market for a whole year because it still makes sense given how much the unit will go for after a remodel. But poor Grandma just wants to be with her family. What does the family do? Do they squeeze four people into a 1-bedroom?

What does an elderly (80, 74 yrs old) Chinese American couple with a disabled daughter do when they’re being forced out of their home?


Viola Davis

Posted on September 20th, 2015 by Sammy

In my mind I see a line and over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.

And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people –Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes​, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading women, to be black. And to the to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharie​, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union, thank you for taking us over that line.

Viola Davis, first African-American woman to win an Emmy for “Best Lead Actress”


Another Recovery Weekend

Posted on September 13th, 2015 by Sammy

It’s been a week since Portland and I still feel pretty awful. Head is a bit throbby, body has aches, feeling generally unwell. I think today I’ve felt a little better than previous days but I’m a little worried I have mono or something from the lack of sleep / terrible eating of last weekend. I haven’t felt this fatigued as far as I can remember 🙁 Here’s to hoping it goes away soon.

Didn’t do much this weekend on account of work catchup and fatigue but on Saturday morning Shanu and I got brunch at Local Mission Eatery, then went to Adobe Books to check out the art installation they had in the back. It was a community project where participants sew together squares of color and turn them into a vibrant patchwork — I learned that Shanu knows her way around a sewing machine and demanded that she teach me a little so we could avoid unfortunate gender roles.

We went to Brewcade with Caleb & Fallon after dinner! It was really fun (but secretly I think Shanu and I are more into arcade games than they are, haha). I wanna go back and play Killer Queen — if I go with Kev I might play more fighting games. They don’t tell you in elementary that being an adult is pretty much the same as being a kid except you have a job. Which means on a given night you have close to unlimited quarters (I mean how many can you spend before the place closes? $100’s worth?)

Not much of a gamer but arcade games are definitely more fun to me than what’s popular these days on computers and stuff. More social / interactive / nostalgic (…probably similar to SSBM now that I think about it) than hyper-addicting / time consuming. Though I suppose anyone can turn anything into an addiction.

Today Shanu and I ventured to Kingdom of Dumpling (their restaurant first, then their store 2 1/2 blocks down Taraval) — this was her first time. Soooo good of course! We picked up 牛肉夹饼, a pack of shrimp dumplings, and a pack of chicken corn dumplings to take home.

Watched Shanghai Noon w/ Shanu, now going to bed. Aiming to KP Klock it all week (context for Natalie: my bud KP goes to work at ~5am and comes home around 10pm 😐 ).

I’m clearly failing at posting every day but since I cover everything that’s happening (+ sickness johns) this should still satisfy the blogging challenge.


Portland Day 3 & 4, Sick Days 1 & 2

Posted on September 10th, 2015 by Sammy

On Monday I woke up around 10am feeling OK, slightly headachey from the night before but still good to go. Onur, Shanu, and I hiked over to the rose gardens, then had another delicious meal at Grassa (it’s hard to cure the fresh pasta hunger).

It was good to get some exercise in!

We spent the afternoon walking around / looking for a coat for her since she lost her (6,7 year?) soft down jacket last month. Didn’t settle on something for her but we ended up at the Nike Store and I picked up a singlet and a pair of shorts. Yay no sales tax 🙂

After a nap Shanu and I regrouped with everyone else at 10 Barrel. I didn’t have that much to drink but felt pretty bad after. We all talked until around 1am, then everyone tried to get a little sleep before travel day.

Tuesday (travel day) was pretty bad for everyone apparently: Kev threw up a bunch of times, I was headachey and nauseated all day, and Arun tried not to throw up the whole time too. It definitely wasn’t alcohol because I only had 1.5 drinks the night before; I’m thinking we either all got food poisoning or our glasses weren’t clean and we caught something.

Either way, on Wednesday I woke up with a fever and a bad headache so I called in a sick day and pretty much spent the whole day in bed. Shannon and I watched The Life Aquatic before bed and I spent the whole day taking Dayquil in increments.

Today I woke up with an even worse headache and set up an appointment with a general family doctor. I was planning on going to an urgent care clinic if my headache didn’t subside; so far my head has been feeling OK. I’m a bit annoyed / stressed because work is busy and this is perf season but trying to do the right things / get rest / get healthy so I can go back to work in full force. I’ll probably end up doing a bunch of work this weekend.


Portland Day 2

Posted on September 7th, 2015 by Sammy

Things I hope to elaborate on when I’m less tired.

Yesterday:
– Grassa
– City exploring with Kev & Lisa
– Powell’s Books
– Deschutes
– Drinking too much
– Voodoo doughnuts

Today:
– Waking up really late
– $2 mimosas at a late brunch
– Old Town / Chinatown
– Bud and the Electric Rickshaw
– Drinks in the hotel


Welcome to Portland!

Posted on September 6th, 2015 by Sammy

First day of our Portland vacation, all of house is here: Shanu, Kev, Lehsah, KP, Onur, Chaitan, Arun, and Rohit.

Too tired from drinking to post so Chaitan is guest-posting.



Old car batteries (and other heavy things)

Posted on September 4th, 2015 by Sammy

This morning I got to work with a charged jumper box and tried getting Shanu’s car (1999 Toyota Camry) working again. A few weeks back we realized the battery was out and after a lot of trying we finally got it started, only to have it fail again. “Probably a sign the battery needs replacing,” Shanu told me.

Knowing nothing about cars, this morning I thought “Maybe if I get it started and run it for a solid hour it will come back to life,” so I set out to do just that.

I had only just put both hoods up when a Security Ops employee came by. Apparently he used to be a mechanic, and he offered to help. After a half-hour of struggle we get the car running, but it dies on the next start-up. Diagnosis: dead battery. I’ve always wanted to apprentice with a mechanic and have them explain every part under the hood to me so before we part ways I make him explain a bunch of things to me. Knowledge get!

I unhook that sucker and bring it to O Reily Auto Parts (good job radio advertising) — talk to the guy for a while and he’s like “it’s the same manufacturer for all these batteries, they just have different labels and you pay for the warranties.” So I bought el cheapo.

Tonight we had Ethiopian with Shanu’s friend from high school, Jinsol. It was so nice to finally meet her after hearing so many stories — she came out for a friend’s wedding in San Ramon but took BART from Berkeley to see us. Jinsol is among her counterparts for my [kev/lisa/andrew]: they were dorm-mates through all of boarding high school, so I was more than pleased to finally make her acquaintance.

It’s still a bit sad to me how we can’t talk to all our far-flung friends from high school or even college to keep them updated with our lives; it’s just not sustainable. I feel super lucky that Kev & Lisa are still near me after all these years (and now KP/Onur/Chaitan). Makes me never want to move from the Bay Area even though I talk about it all the time.

Also Chaitan really needs to move up to the city already. I always feel bad that he misses out on Friday happy hours and stuff because he’s living down in Saratoga.


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