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Oakland, CA

You are currently viewing archive for September 2008
Posted By Bakari

Feeling like I'm in love without having any one particular person to focus it on is an entirely unprecedented experience for me.  I really don't know what to do with it.
It surprises me that its not so overwhelming; even the giddiness of a few weeks ago is fading (a little) - yet something I don't know how to explain beyond "in-love" remains.  It is a little tiring.  I'm not sure why (I'm not sure anything!)
Overall, I don't think I like it.

Posted By Bakari


Things are going well at the Bikestation as we get ready to transition to Alameda Bicycles as the new operator. One, we are under budget so far. So, your next paycheck will include about a $400 bonus for each of you–thanks for doing a good running this place. The operations have gone very smoothly this past year (aside from that one day I didn't show for my shift). Also, the floor outside the Bikestation is all clean. Thanks Gregg for getting that area cleared out for the cleaning crew.

Equally exciting, we are averaging over 90 bikes parked/day this month at the Bikestation, and we have never had a month where we average that high. At this rate, we may be able to park over 2000 bikes in September, which naturally will be our first month ever with over 2000 bikes.

Keep up the good work.

Posted By Bakari

There are a whole bunch of significant propositions on the ballot this time around.

Read about them: Easy Voter Guide
(A friend showed me this link.  I like it because they take the pro /com arguments from the official voter guide and distill them down to the core legitimate arguments, leaving out the deliberate misinformation and irrelevant crap)


Actually vote.
We live in a state with actual democracy (ie the people vote directly on laws, as opposed to only electing people to choose laws for us)
Not everyone does.
We probably shouldn't take that for granted.

I can see a number of these issues easily going the wrong way (and I'd say almost all of them have a pretty clear right and wrong answer) so we are going to need your help.

Thank you 

Posted By Bakari

My plan had been to become a park ranger ever since high school.

I always knew I wanted to do a lot of different jobs, but once I had some varied experience, I was going to settle in the long term with park ranger.
I had dozens of different jobs, and then when I got bored of it, I went back to school and focused on stuff that would improve my chances of getting a ranger job: degrees in biology and earth science, an emergency medical technician certificate, and the pre-police academy course.

By this time I was in a long-term relationship with someone with a career in an urban area, and I didn't want to move out to a remote area as, since that would mean either forcing her to move or leaving her behind.

Oakland has around 1200 acres in 91 parks, including 500 acre Joaquin Miller, and has its own park rangers.
And just as I was beginning my job search after graduation, they were hiring. How convenient.

About 6 years ago they had 25 rangers.
Due to budget cuts this number went from 12, to 8, to 5.
At the time 2 of those 5 were not on active duty for one reason or another, leaving all of 3 people to cover the entire city's network of parks. They were trying to get back to 8.

I turned in the initial application. I passed the oral interview. I did excellent on the general intelligence test. I passed the physical test with lots of time to spare (timed obstacle course and strength test) and passed the psychological profile. Turned in the extensive background information. There are no hidden things in my past which should disqualify me. I got a letter saying I had been placed on the eligibility list.
And then...
I got another letter saying I wasn't. I wrote to inquire what had happened, and never heard back.

By this time BioDiesel Hauling had taken off, I was enjoying it, making good money, in the process of getting the green certification, and had just started the bike job, so I let it go.

About year later, I am well established in both jobs, and very happy with what I am doing. I am up in the park, and I happen to notice a brochure about the volunteer bike patrol. Looks like it could be fun. But I don't own a mountain bike.

Another 6 months go by, I get a mountain bike.
I take it to the closest park to my house, and lo and behold - Oakland allows cyclists to ride single track!! (See "we have some seriously f*cking gnarly...", August 6, 2008)
I applied for the program.

Yesterday was my interview.
As it happens the sergeant interviewing me was one of the ones who did last time.
The interview was more like a friendly chat. Most relaxed interview I have ever been in (last time there were 3 interviewers. I had to wear a suit. "Relaxed" would certainly not be a word I would have used to describe it)

I learned, among other things, that the budget for additional rangers was cut before the hiring process was completed. They ended up hiring 2 people, but also let 2 go, leaving the city with... 3 rangers. Only now instead of having a goal of 5-8, 3 is the number officially budgeted for.

Which means it wasn't (necessarily) anything to do with me when I didn't get hired. I wouldn't have gotten it no matter what, because the position I was applying for ceased to exist. Kind of would have been nice had they mentioned that at the time, but its nice to know now.

Looks like I will get to patrol the parks after all.
I just won't get paid anything for it.

On the plus side, I only go as often as I feel like it, and won't be required to make any arrests.
I have a motivator to actually get me off this damn computer and go outside and get some exercise and be in the outdoors.
And an excuse to buy some cool new bike equipment.

Here's to (probably) not having terrible things on my permanent record that I don't know about afterall!

Posted By Bakari

MyFarm is one of my clients, and I potentially benefit from them signing up new customers


You have no doubt heard of the increasingly common services where a company regularly delivers a box full of fresh, usually organic, produce from CA farms, right to your doorstep.

MyFarm takes this concept a step further.
They don't buy from farmers, nor do they have land of their own.

When they say "local", they really mean it!

The space they use to grow organic vegetables in is literally right in your own back yard.

(And not the way people have been using the word "literally" to imply exclamation; I mean "literally" literally.)

They come in, assess the soil, assess the site (shade/sun, etc), discuss with you what you like to eat, and figure out what can be grown in your yard.
They build a garden, from scratch if need be (including bringing in organic soil if the existing soil is contaminated), install drip irrigation (the lowest water use type), and come back regularly to maintain it.

The customer can help with this process as much or as little as they like.

Essentially you are hiring landscapers - plus you end up with fresh, delicious, organic fruits and vegetables, from the most local source possible.

If you have a big enough yard, they may harvest more than you can eat, in which case some gets distributed to other clients in the neighborhood, and you get charged less.
You also may get some things from elsewhere in your neighborhood to allow for greater variety.

This is one of the most brilliant ideas I have heard in a long time (since NetFlix - oh if only I had had investment money back when I first heard about that idea - back when their advertising consisted solely of spam emails)

They contacted me about moving soil.
By sheer coincidence, the very next day I saw a segment on them on the show "Your Green Life".
I am looking forward to working with them.

I am making business contacts!
Every day this thing which I originally intended to be a way to make a little cash in between real jobs almost 2 years ago, becomes more and more like an actual business.
Its going to take a long time to get used to this.

Posted By Bakari

Anarchy VS Capitalism ... Anarchy=Capitalism



We have been seeing increased government abuses, intrusions on personal privacy, in the name of security. Wiretapping, secret courts, extradition without trial, surveillance of citizens w/o warrants; while technology allows increased collection and aggregation of information - suggestive more and more each day of "Big Brother".
In London the network of cameras is so extensive that the government can literally track the movements of any vehicle in the city by license plate.

A small, self sufficient community.
No police.
No taxes.
No coercion.
Citizens are free and independent, and individual rights are respected.
People earn what they are worth, and keep what they earn.
They barter for what they need.

Nobody is forced to do anything they don't want to do.
People can expect total privacy, without the presence of a "big brother" government behind them.

And everyone is happy.


One day, when, late night after a party, a young person who feels confident they are only a little buzzed, runs over a cyclist on the way home.
Since there are no laws, there is no insurance requirements, and no consequences for avoidable, negligence induced accidents.
He feels guilty, but that isn't enough for her widower, who is devastated.
He is able to track down the driver, and takes revenge into his own hands.
The friends of the driver feel this murder was unjustified, since the crash was an accident for which he felt regret.
And they gather together and go after the husband.

One man has a home with a very healthy garden. He grows most of his own food. His neighbor also try to grow his own food, but he is just downhill of the man, and much of the limited well water is used up. The neighbor can not grow quite as much. The man insists that his neighbor simply is using poor techniques and plant choices. The neighbor maintains he has a worse site and further that the man uses more than his fair share of water. One especially cold winter the neighbor can't quite grow enough to feed his family, and when the man is away, he harvests some of the vegetables from next door.

In the past couple centuries human productivity per worker, especially in the first world, has risen many times (I believe it is 20 fold, and I know I wrote about that before, but I don't feel like looking it up).
A disproportionate amount of that has gone to a small fraction of the population, but it has none-the-less been correlated with a significant increase in standard of living for all of us.
Much of what has facilitated that is directly or indirectly related to technological advances which have allowed for greater commerce and communication.

It has always been the role of government to build and maintain roads, without which commerce becomes all but impossible. Roads, even toll roads, are simply not profitable. In general, most infrastructure, water and sewer lines for example, utilities, commerce hubs such as seaport and airports, bridges, and (aside from the US) healthcare, are all at least subsidized by the government because they contribute significantly to individual quality of life, yet are not in the best interests of any one individual, or even corporation, to create.


[entire blog at MySpace]

Posted By Bakari

What tells one person they are loved may be no more than background noise to another.

We are limited to words, gestures, actions, to express our whole range of feelings to one another. 
A smile, a cringe, expressions are largely universal.  But we are quite able to misunderstand each others communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and do so all the time.

Of course the words alone ("I love you"), with no action to support them will not make a convincing expression (though the words are a vital addition for some). The range of potential actions in enormous.

If we go about acting on feeling without really thinking, our own most natural expression of deeply felt love can come across as meaningless.
What matters is not if you find unexpected flowers to be romantic, but if your partner does. 
Our choice of method to express our care for another may be dependent largely on how it was expressed to us. 
Maybe I was not shown much affection growing up, but much emphasis was placed on my health, well being, and nutrition.  Maybe my partners experiences were just the opposite.  When I cook her healthy meals it feels to me like she takes this expression of love for granted.  She does take it for granted, since she never considered meal preparation an act of love.  Her parents never cooked, and she would be just as happy eating out.  She assumes I cook for her just because I enjoy cooking.  
When she gives me a hug it feels hollow to me.  I don't associate physical affection with love very strongly.  She feels the lack of response on my part, and takes it to mean I don't feel strongly about her, when really I just don't feel strongly about the method of expression. We don't understand each other, but we can't explain -  we may not even understand the reasons behind our own feelings.

It isn't so much selfishness as ignorance, immaturity.
Its only natural that one would assume that what makes them feel loved is what would make others feel loved, and would therefor express their own in the same way they would like to receive it.  After all, we are reminded to treat others the way we would like to be treated.  The golden rule is unfortunately a bit of an oversimplification, for perhaps I appreciate surprise guests and my neighbor appreciates being left alone and as we each try to be especially kind to each other by doing what we would want them to do our displeasure only grows.

Truly caring about someone, we have to look at them a little closer, and to learn to channel our expression of love in such a way that it is understood. 
If you don't know what would make the most meaningful expression to your partner, probably a good clue would be whatever things they do to attempt to express it to you!

Perhaps many of us never really thought about it.  Now you have no excuse.