In what might be a first in San Francisco, a man went to Ocean Beach today and took off his shirt. Bare skin exposed to the sun isn’t a common occurrence at one of the Bay Area’s most popular surf destinations which left many of the locals questioning the man’s intentions.
One of the hundreds of surfers wearing wetsuits that day was taken back by what he saw. “I had my eye on him ever since he left the parking lot and when he reached down to take off his shirt I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
A woman wearing Lululemon chimed in with similar disbelief. “He took off his Ray-Bans, pulled off his shirt and kept walking toward the water. It’s like he thought he was in SoCal or something.”
Removing clothing is commonplace at most beaches but not in San Francisco. Most beach goers wear multiple layers of clothing including hoodies, light jackets and anything with a North Face logo.
It was also reported that the man wasn’t seen applying any sunscreen so there were no doubts about the likelihood of him getting sunburnt.
An older Asian man doing Tai Chi on the boardwalk witnessed the man once he had his shirt off. “He was really pale, I doubt he gets much sun.”
After asking him whether or not the man without his shirt got into the water he quickly responded “Are you crazy? That water’s freezing!”
For the time being this man’s actions are considered out of the ordinary and there are no expectations of seeing similar behavior from others in the future.
I’ve decided to run the SF Marathon this year and I have two months to train for it (that’s enough time, right?). I’m hoping that the third time’s the charm since the last two times I had intentions of running the 26.2 I ended up getting hurt before I could actually run the race.
One year it was my shoulder and last year it was my poor, little pinkie toe. Both times I was just a couple of weeks away from the race but I never made it to the start line. I’m sure it’s possible for me to run a marathon without hurting myself beforehand but there’s really only one way to find out.
So yeah, I just spent $145 to basically run myself to death which I guess makes sense if you’re into this kind of thing. I’m feeling pretty good about running a full marathon at this point but I’m not gonna lie — the fact that I only have nine weeks to train is freaking me out juuuust a little bit. Although saying nine weeks does sound a lot better than two months. Hey, every little bit helps at this point.
The good thing is that I ran a trail half marathon a little over a month ago and for half of that I was literally running up a mountain. I finished feeling good and it didn’t take that much out of me so that gives me hope that I can get myself into the kind of shape I need to be come June 16th. I can totally do this, right?
So you heard it here, kiddos — I’m running a marathon and training started today.
It’s been an amazing past few months for Mo. He’s officially off parole, he’s finally getting some money from the state and his cooking has never been better. He’s in a great mood and his trademark bad temper is rarely seen these days.
Mo Is A Changed Man
At the ripe old age of 56 he’s taking his life a day at a time and it’s an amazing thing to watch and be part of. Sometimes I look at Mo and wonder where the angry, beaten down and desperate guy I first met at the Caltrain station is at these days. I never see the old Mo anymore and I can’t say I miss him.
Mo has been changed from the inside out and although I’ve played a big part in it there’s no doubt in my mind that God has been using me to transform Mo into a completely different person. Through the process I’ve been changed and molded into a different person, too. Our relationship is far from one-sided and as much as I’ve helped him he’s returned it to me and then some.
Mo Has Free Time
Mo is now free to do whatever he wants and there’s no restrictions on his time. This is obviously a good thing and Mo loves having the ability to do whatever he wants when he wants. It’s something many people don’t think much about but having that freedom is important to Mo and allows him to move on with his life.
So what this means is that Mo has plenty of free time but unfortunately he doesn’t have much to do with it.
Mo Needs A Job
The next thing that Mo needs is a J-O-B (see video above for Friday reference). Now that he has all of this free time he needs to find something productive to do with it. Like I said, he’s getting some money from the state each month and he also has a couple of other paying jobs that he does once or twice a week but they’re not always consistent.
Mo either needs a steady job or something else that’s a good use of his time, like volunteering somewhere in the city. The main thing for Mo right now is to stay busy and to start being more of a productive citizen in society so he can add value to the community and also give a sense of value to himself.
He also needs to get involved with something as a way to get out of the environment he’s in day-to-day when he doesn’t have something to do. There’s no doubt that we’re all influenced by the people we’re surrounded by and hanging out with drug dealers, prostitutes an addicts isn’t going to help Mo get to where he needs to be. I think he could potentially volunteer to help these types of people but he doesn’t need to be all mixed up with them all the time.
Mo’s a great worker and he’s ready to get started with something but he’s going to need some help finding it. He’s got a rough past but a bright future so wherever he ends up is going to have to take a little bit of risk bringing him onboard. I don’t think it will be a completely smooth transition for him but like with everything else, he’ll figure it out and will no doubt end up doing a good job for whoever he’s working for.
I’m throwing this out to all of you today as a way to help me understand all of my options for Mo right now. I want the best for him but I’m not going to kid myself into thinking I know exactly what he should be doing at this point.
If you have any thoughts or ideas on what Mo could get involved with in San Francisco, please let me know. He could do some manual labor, cleaning or the probably ideal thing would be cooking. He’s an incredible cook and he really enjoys it.
Whenever I buy food at Safeway and tell Mo how much the food cost me he answers me the same way.
He looks at me like I’m crazy while usually saying something like “You spent how much? I need to take you to the ghetto grocery store. You’re spending too much, Ryan! Those guys at Safeway are bums. THEY’RE BUMS!” (Anyone or anything Mo doesn’t approve of is a bum.) I had never seen or heard about this cheap and apparently ghetto grocery store he liked to tell me about so much but little did I know I was about to experience it for myself.
At the beginning of this month Mo started getting some financial help from the good ol’ state of California. Since he’s officially off parole he’s now eligible for some government assistance which means that he now has some money coming in. It’s only $390 per month but for someone who hasn’t had any type of consistent cash flow for the past four years it’s a pretty big deal. To make sure he doesn’t blow the money on who-knows-what Mo gave me the card he uses to get the cash out and we decide together what the money gets spent on.
It’s no surprise that the main thing Mo wants to use the money for is food and the first place he wanted to spend it was the ghetto grocery store in San Francisco he always tells me about. The store’s called Food Co, it’s on 14th and Folsom and last Sunday we headed straight there after church.
Pulling in I could tell that we weren’t at Safeway anymore. The parking lot was a mad house and I was the only white person within a 100ft. radius. Nothing that I’ve never experienced before but definitely the first time since living in San Francisco.
Once we made it into the store there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between what I saw there and other stores I’ve been in besides the types of people who were shopping there. They had similar food and although it seemed a little more out of control than normal it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before at a Wal-Mart in Indiana.
I followed Mo around as he filled up the cart and we ended up getting a ton of food. Once we had everything we needed we checked out and I could tell that Mo was happy he could pay for it himself. It was a really cool to see him, for the first time, buy his own groceries with his own card. I know it’s government money but there’s still something to be said for buying something on your own, without anyone else’s help.
After filling up four bags of groceries I took a look at the receipt and Mo was right about it being way cheaper than other grocery stores. We spent a little over $75 and at Safeway I’m pretty sure it would of cost me at least $125. Plus, shopping around at Food Co was way more fun and seeing Mo in his element is always entertaining. For instance, we ran into another homeless guy we both knew who ended up stealing a frozen bag of chicken so he could sell it for crack. I was pretty surprised by this but according to Mo it’s just another day at Food Co.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Food Co I went to in San Francisco here’s their page on Yelp that will give you a good idea of what it’s like. The reviews are amazing entertaining, here is one of my favs:
there are a few rules you must follow to go here:
1. Do not go here after dark, 6am is the best time to go.
2. Do not drive a nice car here, it will get dinged.
3. Do not wear fancy or flashy clothes here.
4. Do not wear lots of jewelry here.
5. Dress down.
6. Do not leave anything of value in your car.
7. Do not go here at the beginning of the month, wait until the well fare checks are spent.
Don’t follow these rules, and it’s likely you will have a very bad day…
There are LOTS of kids running and yelling, and their dirt-bag and/or thug “parents” won’t control them. The isles are dirty, the check out lines are long and slow. I couldn’t wait in line any longer and had to leave my cart and walk out…
And here’s another good one (yes, this is for real).
I use to go here to get more groceries for my money. Someone broke my window out of my car because they thought our dog carrier had something of value in it. Thank god they didn’t steal my Pekingese, who was in the SUV! The window will be about $150. Very bad neighborhood! Their customer service is horrible. Manager didn’t return my phone call!
Also, here’s a video I found of someone apparently trying to steal some food from there and arguing with the security guy about not showing a receipt. It’s worth watching for a couple of minutes.
Yep, I would say that grocery shopping with Mo was quite the adventure but look at it this way — we saved at least $50. I can’t wait to go back.
Me, Frank and the most expensive piece of cardboard I’ve ever bought.
On Friday night I pulled into a parking spot in front of my apartment building and noticed there was a bright orange and white temporary no parking sign staring me in the face. It was telling me that I would need to move from the parking space I was in before 7am the next morning or I would be towed. Since I’m now an early riser I didn’t think it was a big deal so I parked, got out of my car and didn’t worry too much about it.
That night I stayed up a little later than I usually do (I blame Breaking Bad on Netflix) and thought about going out to move my car before crashing but I didn’t feel like doing it. I was well aware of the consequences but after a long week of work and a few episodes of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman doing their thing I didn’t want to go back outside.
Even though I decided not to change parking spots before I went to sleep I was sure to set my alarm for 6:45am so I didn’t miss out on moving my car in the morning. I’m used to waking up a lot earlier than 6:45am so I figured it would be easy to get up, move it and carry on with the rest of my day.
Before I knew it the alarm was going off and since I don’t use the snooze anymore I shut it off and didn’t even think about why I had set it for the time I did. For some reason I didn’t remember my car that was sitting outside in a parking spot that was pretty much guaranteeing me a trip to the San Francisco tow lot. I completely forgot that I had fifteen minutes to get up and move my car before it would be pulled up on a flatbed and rolled away to a very, very bad place. A very bad and expensive place. I fell back asleep and didn’t even think about it. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.
Who knows how long later I woke up and with a feeling of panic I reached over to my phone and with one eye squinted open I took a look at what time it was. It was a little past eight o’clock and with the realization of what was going on a feeling of sickness shot all the way down to my stomach.
I hopped out of bed and while I was throwing on my clothes I could have swore I heard the beeping noise that commercial trucks make when backing up. This was probably also the very same noise that tow trucks make when they’re backing up to take away a car. The noise that a tow truck makes when it’s towing away my car. Not good.
As I was jetting down the hall and running down the stairs to get out of my apartment building I started thinking about what I would do if the tow truck was just about to tow my car or if it was already up on the back of the truck. Would I try to talk the driver out of taking it away? Would I hop in the car and refuse to move? Maybe I would have just enough time to move my car before they towed it away. Maybe there was a chance, just maybe?
Once I was outside all of those thoughts disappeared as I saw a car that wasn’t mine already up on the back of the tow truck. My car was nowhere to be found and even though I knew it was gone I kept staring at the spot where I last left it like there was no possible way it could have just disappeared. Cars just don’t move on their own, right? It was clear my car was towed and that there was nothing I could do about it at this point except go pick it up.
I wanted to get mad about it but how could I? It was completely my fault and there was no one else to blame. I felt like an idiot for not moving it the night before when I had plenty of time to do so and it made me wonder why I put it off. I had traded a few minutes of inconvenience for a much larger problem and it didn’t feel very good. Not my finest moment.
An hour or so later I paid to get my car out of the tow lot and it wasn’t cheap. Even though it cost me a lot of money to get it out there were some bright spots around this situation that I’ll hopefully get to tell you about some other day but the one thing I learned (even though I knew better already) was to never put off something until tomorrow if I can do it today. I know I sound like I’m reciting a page from a quote-of-the-day calendar but it’s true. If you can do something now, even if you don’t feel like it, do it and save the potential downside of letting it drag on longer than it should. You’ll be happy that you did.
I’ve been thinking about picking up a new hobby that will most likely involve punching strangers. The sport of choice is Muay Thai, which in my mind is what Jean-Claude Van Damme was doing when he rubbed his hands in glass and fought like a bad ass in Bloodsport (even though I’m pretty sure it’s not). I nave no idea how many times I’ve seen that movie but it’s not enough. Instant classic.
I’m going to my first class today in San Francisco at a gym called Fight and Fitness and I’m excited, nervous and a little scared to find out what Muay Thai is all about. I guess the good thing is that I love all of those feelings — they tell me that I’m trying something new that’s worth doing. It’s easy to always stick with your same schedule and to just do the same old thing so I welcome this type of feeling with open arms all the way.
From what I can tell the first class will consist of me signing my life away, warming up, throwing some gloves on and getting after it for an hour or so. The whole idea of learning Muay Thai just seems really cool to me and I’m curious to see what kind of workout it’s going to give me. I’ve known a few guys who have done Muay Thai and the one thing they always tell me is how hard it is physically. You not only get worked out from a conditioning standpoint but you’re also getting punched, elbowed, kneed and kicked which leads to some pretty serious bruises and other self-inflicted bodily pain.
I already love running but throwing in some Muay Thay is going to be a nice addition to my week. I’ve got a lot on my plate but I have a feeling I’m going to want as much Muay Thai as I can get in my life. Here’s to getting in better shape while punching strangers, it doesn’t get much better than that.
A friend of mine, Renee (who I met at church and who traveled with me to Congo earlier this year) is really into the San Francisco Symphony and has seen several of their performances this year. Since we’ve never really gotten on the topic of cultural enlightenment and entertainment she had no idea how much that I loved going to those types of events, too.
Since I’ve lived in San Francisco I’ve definitely cooled off on going to what my mom likes to call “artsy fartsy” types of things but that’s not because I don’t like them. I used to go to all kinds of plays, operas, concerts and yes — even ballet (even though that’s probably my least favorite of them all).
I grew up going to these types of things and I’ve only recently stopped due to some reason that I’m not really sure about. I’m guessing the mix of being newly married, living in a new city and working at a startup has something to do with it but that’s still just an excuse. Who knows.
Anyway, this past week Renee asked me if I wanted to check out an upcoming performance at the San Francisco Symphony of Handel’s Messiah and we ended up going to check it out. I guess the most interesting thing about this performance is that it’s all based around the life of Jesus Christ (hence the name “Messiah”) and all of the singing (it’s an oratorio) was directly from different passages from the Bible.
This made Renee and I very excited since we’re both followers of Christ. It also got me wondering about how many people in San Francisco would be willing to sit through two and a half hours of hearing the Bible. I soon found out that apparently a lot of people were interested as the concert hall was nearly full.
When the orchestra and voices started doing their thing I was hit with some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Mesmerized I followed along the words of scripture that were typed out in our program and tried to take in all that was happening around me. It was a powerful message and to hear the word of God communicated in such an amazing way made my heart happy.
The best surprise of the whole night and the one thing that Renee talked about a lot before the performance started was hallelujah chorus that’s about two-thirds the way through the show. It’s a turning point of the show and the around the time when the trumpets and drums are brought into the music for the first time. The iconic hallelujah chorus is something that I’ve heard a million times in my life but I had no idea where it came from. The best part of this section of music is that everyone stands up for it, which has been a tradition since the King George II stood up early for what he thought was an intermission back in the 1700s.
Today I was talking to Mo about living on the street and he pulled out a term that I had never heard before. We got on the topic about drugs and more specifically smoking crack (which Mo has done plenty of times before). He told me all about where people buy it (in the Tenderloin, of course), how much it costs, how it’s smoked and what the high is like.
Apparently it’s a very short but powerful high that hits you instantly when you breathe in the smoke. He said the actual high is usually less than a minute long and once you take the hit you immediately feel like you need to take another one or you’ll start to crash very quickly. If you don’t get high again you’ll start tweaking out soon after and will get the jitters while you frantically search for ways to get back to the feeling you just had. Mo called this feeling and need to have another high “Chasing The Dragon” and after looking up the term online here’s a great definition that I found for chasing the dragon on UrbanDictionary.com.
This term is a bit more complicated than merely “smoking opium”. It starts when you have your first high, the world is peaceful, everything is perfect, you’re numb, but in the best way possible. But, soon, it starts wearing off. Fast. Your mind races, you’re pulled out of your dream world. You crave the drug more and more, wanting to feel the same way as you did on your first high. You go to the dealer and buy the same amount you had the first time, and smoke. Still feels good, but not as good as first time. You go and buy more. Closer, but not quite there. You’re stuck, you don’t know what to do. You want to go back to that little dream world and stay forever, but your body is already developing a tolerance. You panic. You use all your money to buy more and more and more, but still, not the same as that first time. You realize that you have no more money, so you start selling your things, pawning whatever could get you that next bag. Still, nothing compared to what you had on that first, magical time. So, you’re broke and own nothing. But you don’t care, all you care about is getting back to the first high. You start stealing, doing “favors”, whatever gets you the money for the attempt. Your life becomes a living hell, all in search of a repeat of the first high. That’s chasing the dragon.
Mo is very open with his past drug use and he’s such a blessing for other people who are in a bad situation that he can speak truth into. The world that he lives in is such a different place with so many different problems that most of us can’t even comprehend. I feel like he can (and has already started to) have a big impact in the lives of other homeless in San Francisco and it’s been amazing to be part of the story that God has just started to write about his life.
Also, I wanted to mention that there’s a book called Chasing The Dragon that’s about a woman whose ministry was helping drug addicts and prostitutes in Hong Kong. Yeah, I bought it.
I don’t care what your major is in college or what you’re into. Whether you like to take apart cars, do accounting, cook cupcakes or take care of animals there’s one thing that you’re going to have to be good at — technology. Are you going to be a programmer or engineer? Most likely not, but whatever job you end up doing I can guarantee that not only will you be using technology but you’ll be using it a lot.
I’m not sure if you’ve seen our economy lately and the types of jobs that are now in high demand but let me drop some knowledge on ya — they all touch technology. I live in San Francisco in the middle of Silicon Valley and I can tell you that we sure as heck haven’t noticed any drop in jobs or a lack of demand for businesses hiring (we’re hiring fifteen people at isocket). It’s insane out here and it’s only because software is eating the world. Either you’re doing the eating or you’re being eaten. It’s that simple.
The jobs that were once the foundation of America are no longer relevant and our economy has completely shifted. It’s not hard to see this trend of technology taking over and it’s been happening at an accelerated rate ever since the Internet came along more than ten years ago. This is why I’m seriously blown away by the fact that every person in this entire country who has the means to do so isn’t learning how to be part of it. Why are people not learning (or being taught) technology?
It’s been a while since I’ve been in college but from what I can tell it’s the same thing for most schools these days. You come in as a freshman, take a bunch of classes that don’t really matter and then after a while you might take a few that actually provide some value to you once you’re in the real world. I know that colleges need to make their money and this isn’t going to change any time soon. But this doesn’t stop me from asking why in the world wouldn’t every, single person who goes to college not learn some type of technology that will benefit them in the future?
I’m not talking about Microsoft Word and PowerPoint — those are a given. There are literally third graders in Palo Alto who can put together a PowerPoint and edit a video better than I can. I’m not even kidding. I’m talking about creating apps, writing on a blog, understanding real technology and being able to at least wrap your head around what’s going on under the hood. Every student in college should write a blog, every student should be able to create an app and when they graduate from college they shouldn’t even need to send out a resume. Employers should be able to see what they’re interested in, see their work and get a feel for what type of employee they would be just by seeing what they have online.
One last thing to prove my point, I’ve had a wide variety of jobs in my lifetime. I’ve sold computers at BestBuy, helped with IT at a construction company and I’m now helping build an online advertising startup. With all of these jobs there’s been one thing that’s helped me really stand out and that’s the fact that I know my stuff when it comes to technology.
Everyone should be learning technology and this needs to happen now before we’re all left behind (or eaten). Nom. Nom.
I’m thirty-two years old and for some reason I’ve never voted before. I can remember last time around, four short years ago, when everyone else voted and I didn’t. For the first time I felt like I was missing out, that I wasn’t doing my part and I felt a little ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t take the time to vote. After all, it’s a blessing to live in a country where my vote actually counts so it just doesn’t make any sense not to.
But, today I finally voted and it was exciting. I was a little nervous when they handed me the ballots and I felt like a noob when I had to read the instructions on how to fill out each of the three big sheets. One sheet had the main elected positions that included voting for the president. The next one was a list of propositions that are California specific and then the other one was even more local to San Francisco.
It didn’t take me long to make my way through them and to be totally honest there were several positions (like board of education) that I had no clue who to vote for. For those positions I looked at what each person’s background was and picked the one I thought seemed best for the role. If there was an incumbent and I felt like things are going well with whatever they’re running for I voted for them to keep the position. For the California propositions I did my homework last night and had a list ready to either mark yes or no. With the propositions I’m just happy that they’re finally done with so I can stop seeing the commercials, billboards and posts on Facebook about them. It’s ridiculous how much money goes towards getting support for each one and being in advertising I have a much better idea of how much that really is. It’s crazy money.
The one thing that’s different now that I’ve voted is that I can’t complain about the process anymore and I can’t have the feeling that my vote doesn’t count, because it does. I’m not sure how close the votes going to be but regardless how it shakes out it feels good to know that I’ve been part of the process. I wish that I would have taken it more seriously over the past twelve years that I was legal to vote but unfortunately at that point in my life I just didn’t care. I didn’t think it was worth it, I didn’t want to put my vote where my beliefs were and it was just easier to skip it.
But not this year, this year I voted and I hope you did, too. If not, I can’t even begin to judge you — just promise that you’ll do it next time.