Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pensamientos sobre la semana pasada

BOB DYLAN BOOK. I got to Church and Market straight from work and twenty minutes earlier than what the Salvadoran and I had agreed to. I am meeting him with our friend E, who is also from El Salvador, for dinner. The hostess at Chow's wouldn't seat me until the whole group is present. She added my name to her list and then I walked to a nearby Aardvark bookstore and waited there instead. The bookstore is a couple of doors away from Chow's. From the sea of new and used books and magazines, I saw a paperback version of Bob Dylan's The Chronicles I as if the book has been waiting there for me. It was the last copy. I am no Bob Dylan fan but the first ten pages made me imagine his humble beginnings in glorious colors. I was immediately inspired. Hastily, I bought a copy. I managed to step out of the bookstore before the Salvadorans arrived with my impulse purchase hidden in my bag.

FARMER'S MARKET. We were out of grapefruit. This is what we normally use for our breakfast juice. We also use navel oranges when they're cheaper and plenty in the market. I used to think that we only drink freshly squeezed citrus juices to justify my buying of a juicer. Just like tasting the difference between freshly brewed coffee over instant, the juice out of the juicer is definitely better than the bottled ones. The camioneta where we get our oranges this time of the year no longer park next to the Glen Park BART station. They get the oranges from the valley and sell them for $3 per ten-pound bag. That's a lot of oranges! For now, our only choices are the neighborhood produce stores or the farmer's market. To the Ferry Building we went on saturday. I couldn't remember the last time we were there. We couldn't help but notice that half the people who go there nowadays are camera totting tourists. The sweet tasting organic navel oranges cost us almost a dollar each. Our consolation prize were the fresh olive baggettes, the dollar and fifty a bunch of basil, asparagus, chinese brocollli, and fresh chesses from the north bay. But for oranges, I think I'll go to the Mission produce stores next time.

DRAMA SERIES. I recently discovered the Audio Visual section of the Main Library. I generally checkout library items online to be picked up at the library's kiosk so I've never been to the physical shelves to leaf through the collections and look for the items myself. The AV section was not huge but big enough to contain cd, vhs and dvd collections Netflix might not have, especially rare classical music and foreign made movies. This is where I found Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. It is a BBC drama series set during England's Victorian era and in the same league as the movies Emma and Pride and Prejudice. I had to watch all four episodes all over again to comprehend some scenes that I missed because of my ear's inability to hear the old English drawl.

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. Last year, we were debating whether to go to Montreal or NYC for a five day Memorial Day weekend getaway. We eventually went to NYC. This year, we were debating whether to go to Montreal or Mexico City. Mexico City won unanimously. Maybe Montreal for 4th of July?


(The photo above was taken 'discreetly' at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market on a sunny Saturday in San Francisco.)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sleepless in the city

It was unusually hot in the city that evening. He is usually sound asleep before he could actually finish his prayers, but not tonight. It was late, already past midnight. He couldn’t figure out if it is caffeine or the temperature that is keeping him up late that night. Caffeine has never been a problem for him so it must be the unseasonably warm conditions. Maybe not? His mind is clearly somewhere else.

A couple of days back, he had this daunting task at work which cleaned up a production problem caused by another core group at his work. He and a couple others in his team were told this is a priority so all the projects and other maintenance items he is working on will have to be dropped. If the group that caused this fallout didn’t seem to be overly concerned, why should his group care? Why should he care? It was a battle that is already lost so he didn’t bother objecting. It wasn't the right time to complain. Besides, he's supposed to be a team player and didn’t want to be known as defiant even though deep inside him, he is dying to refuse and say
heck no.

The phone kept ringing in 10-min intervals and emails kept flying around which made matters seem worse than they really were. He knows the data pretty well but he didn’t know where to start his impact analysis. His aptitude, little by little, surrendered to panic. In misery, he just stared at his computer screen.

Still, there we no results to show the member banks after four hours of working on the problem. The scope of the damage is huge too so they will have to wait a bit longer.

After two, three, four days, twenty five hours of working overtime, break-outs evident on his face and an excruciating neck pain, the clean up is done. The customers happy, so were his superiors. He and his teammates were just glad it was finally over. He told himself he'd rather be on this same side of the coin - be the clean up guy rather than the one who created the mess. He made a promise to be extra careful with his code from that day on. Eventually, he was given a night-on-the-town for his diligent work on the cleanup.

Since he couldn’t sleep, he got up the bed and decided to search for a couple of books in Amazon. He uses Amazon as a tool to search for great books and then he checks the
main library’s online catalog if they are also available there. He finds satisfaction in maximizing all the freebies his city offers and this includes the rich collection at the city library. He sent the request for each item so they can be picked up at the Main Library’s kiosk when they're ready. He felt good that he did something worthwhile rather than stare at the ceiling.

His eyes are finally getting heavy. Another morning is breaking.

(The photo above was taken inside San Francisco's Main Library located in the Civic Center area of the city.)