Journal Politics San Francisco

Greece, debt and the European Bailout – How it affected me in S.F.

Before I get into how it affected me let’s do a quick recap of what is happening right now.

I also prefer to keep it very simple.

Greece owes a lot of money and they cannot pay it. This means they have to cut a lot of public services and since a VERY LARGE portion of their population is on Government payrolls many are not happy about it. So they all decided to go burn things in the street and all hell is breaking loose. This makes investors really really nervous and they pull their money away from the trouble or take it out of the market entirely which causes share prices to fall.

It is not just Greece but Spain, Portugal, France and even the U.K. have a lot of debt and this makes investors even MORE nervous so they pull away even more money from the markets.

The only solid one of the bunch is GERMANY but I don’t think Germans like the idea of having to pay taxes only to give it to the Greeks. Wouldn’t you be mad if you had to work very hard and endure hot/cold weather only to give it to those people down south who don’t have to work very hard and get to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea every week?

So Angela Merkel was justly concerned about providing HUGE amounts of Euros because her population would be pretty angry.

In the news today it was reported that President Barack Obama gave her a call to try and convince her to do the loan because the USA is also struggling to get back on its feet and if Greece has issues then it will affect America as well.

I always wondered how a conversation like that would go.

Obama: Hi Angela, how are you today?
Merkel: I’m fine Barack, how are you doing? Are they still drawing Hitler mustaches on you over there?
Obama: No, we won that one so now they are just putting a sombrero on my head and saying I might have been born in Mexico so…………
Merkel: Das macht nichts, those people are silly, don’t worry about it.
Obama: Thanks Angela, say was hoping there was something you can help me with.
Merkel: Natürlich
Obama: Could you please lend Greece 5,000,000,000 Euros? I would really appreciate it.
Merkel: Wie bitte?
Obama: Yes, 5,000,000,000 Euros to Greece please.
Merkel: Ok, sure Barack, I’ll see what I can do. Sonst noch etwas?
Obama: Nope, that’s all. Thanks Angela
Merkel: Bitte schön Barack. Bis später.
Obama: Bye-bye Angela.

So it appears a bailout package has been arranged for Greece. The bummer is that the bailout is borrowed money so Europe is financing debt with more debt. This is not good as many other members of the EU are also in debt trouble.

How it has affected me follows.

In American savings plans it is usual that a decent portion will be in the stock market whether it is through your employer, retirement savings plan or you buy stocks on your own. I have some money in each of these but what really concerns me is doing it on my own. The first time I bought stocks, the market crashed and we had the financial crisis. I held on and got out with a small profit but only a few hundred dollars and it really made me nervous about future investing.

I’ve been following the stocks since then, recently pulled out all my money and am waiting to invest my meager earnings again. Yet, last Friday the Dow Jones Industrial lost 1000 points which is the largest single day drop EVER! (If you don’t know what the DJI is, basically if it goes down by a lot then almost every other stock goes down as well). So here I am with my few dollars waiting to put it in the stock market and this happens!

This is starting to make me feel inadequate as I’m almost too scared to pull the trigger and by more stocks because who knows what is going to happen. If we take a step back isn’t this INCREDIBLE?

Here I am sitting at my desk trying to be a good investor but am getting a complex because I’m very scared to do so and it all depends on a country that is HALF A WORLD AWAY!!

I think that instead of trying to invest, I will go to Greece, get a government job and sit on the beach. If the government won’t pay me then I’ll go burn some things in the street until those Germans decide to pay my government so they can pay me and I can stop burning things and go for a wonderful swim in the Mediterranean. LMAO!!!!

San Francisco

Johnnie Walker Tasting

Just got back from a Johnnie Walker Tasting.  I had never been to a “spirits” tasting before but apparently one can taste many different flavors in Whisky (Spelled the proper way) just like the way we can with wine.  I got the invite from Netparty which I had apparently signed up for once upon a time but it never caught my interest until Whisky was involved.

Wasn’t sure what to expect but it took place not far from AT&T park right close to a rough area of San Francisco.  There was a line, velvet rope and plenty of pretty Johnnie Walker girls which reminded me (AGAIN) of Saigon when Johnnie Walker used to sponsor the darts tournaments.  They made sure we had RSVP’d and asked us a few questions about our drinking habits.

We walked in the door, upstairs and had a half hour reception with one free drink.  I thought the skyline looked pretty cool so took this picture.

Skyline from Johnnie Walker Tasting

After the reception we headed downstairs for the tasting and it was first rate!  We started out with the Black Label, then Red Label, Gold, Green then finally BLUE!!  I never knew Whisky could taste like honey and peppers.  The presenter was very engaging and did an excellent job.  We were seated second row and I snapped this picture.

Whisky Tasting

I also really liked the video they showed which is here.

After the tasting Richard and I felt we needed to taste a little more so headed to a Pete’s Tavern to discuss the superior benefits of Whisky over other beverages.  Didn’t stay too long because after all, it is a school night.

San Francisco

San Francisco – The Tenderloin – NY Times Article

The New York Times ran the article “San Francisco’s Unlikely Tourist Stop – The Tenderloin,” yesterday and as this neighborhood is about 5 blocks from me I really had the urge to comment.

The Tenderloin in short is the most run down area of San Francisco.  It is also unfortunately the first view of the city that many visitors will get if they come in off the 6th street exit and head towards Market St.  When I first heard the name I thought it very strange and although there are competing theories regarding the origin of the name I go with the location which would be “the soft underbelly” of the city.

In the NY Times article they talk about the Tenderloin as a possible location for tourists for it’s historic value and celebrities that stayed and entertained there such as Miles Davis, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane etcetera.  I support this idea simply because it would be good for this area of the city and ANY new idea would help.

Yet, it would not be a tour that I would want to sign up for if I were a tourist.  They quote Don S. Falk, the executive director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (who I’ve met at business functions) and who has done a lot of excellent work as saying “I think a lot of San Franciscans appreciate the Tenderloin.”  It is particularly this that I would like to comment most on.

But before I do let me relate my credentials.  I live in an area affectionately referred to as “The Tendernob.”  This area would be dramatically described as right between heaven and hell.  “Heaven” being the top of Nob Hill and the most expensive/exclusive area of the city at the top of the hill and ‘Hell” being the Tenderloin at the bottom.  To further understand the geography one must realize that San Francisco is so tightly compact that simply crossing the street can put you in a completely different neighborhood so it is not as strange as it seems having these two neighborhoods so close together.  Almost everyday I walk down from my apartment into the Tenderloin where I park my car at a local hotel and drive through that neighborhood.

I’m sure most San Franciscans have many different views of the Tenderloin all up and down the scale from “appreciate” to “detest.”  Those that appreciate it probably do so for it’s historical value but also in that it is a direct reflection of the Liberal policies this city advocates.  San Francisco would be the most “socialist” (not using this in a bad way) or perhaps a better word “European” than any other city in the USA.  The safety nets for the lowest earners of the city is pretty generous and these people have had many laws enacted to help protect them such as:

1. Free Heathcare
2. Public Housing
3.  Free Cash (changed to “Care not Cash) after it did not work well
4. Homeless Shelters
5.  Soup Kitchens
6. Various outreach groups

Therefore, it is a ready example of “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk” in regards to the realities of their policies.  The neighborhood has also been protected from “gentrification” which was and remains a big fear in that it is prime real estate and should developers be allowed in the prices of rent/housing would quickly skyrocket 5000%.

One would think this area dangerous but I would partly disagree.  My image of a dangerous neighborhood are more like the run down areas in Ohio where you will find nothing but poverty.  These neighborhoods are also a bit isolated and therefore if there is trouble, nobody is going to be there to help you.  Yet, the Tenderloin has such a diverse mix of residents which a huge hardworking immigrant population that are not engaged in crime but rather setting up businesses, restaurants and diluting any “dangerous people” to such a large degree that getting into trouble during the day is very rare.

Yet, I would definitely not recommend visiting this area at night but again it is not that they are going to rob you.  The Tenderloin has a HUGE drug problem and it is at night that it really gets into full swing.  The danger is not drug deals and guns but rather those that take the hard drugs and go berserk. Sometimes these folks do walk up the hill to the extreme outer-perimeter (my area) and begin to yell which wakes me up once or twice a week.  They really don’t use any violence but I tell you it probably really freaks the tourists out.

I have also driven through this area around 3:30am when we are going on a weekend trip and man, people are out in the streets, convulsing and generally are going crazy.  I try not to linger.

The article also mentioned that The Tenderloin is one of the most densely populated areas in the USA.  At first glance, one would think this is because of poverty but that is not necessarily so.  ALL of San Francisco is densely populated and I tell you when the ambulance drives down my street at night they are probably waking up thousands of people with their sirens.  Again, San Francisco is a VERY compact city so population density would be high anywhere.

The highlights of The Tenderloin are many such as the ethnic restaurants that offer very affordable prices and Glide Memorial which I would consider the crowning jewel.   Glide used to be an all black church but changed over time as the character of the city changed.  Now, it would be considered a church that also “walks the walk” (sometimes to an extreme) in taking care of the poor and really including everyone and I mean everyone! This is the church that was shown in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith.

Their services are really something else and the opposite of what you would expect from a “traditional mass.”  The main attractions are the social messages which to me are simply spot on without mincing words and the choir talent is top notch. To hear some of them sing is usually something that people have to pay money for and they also often have high powered political speakers such as the mayor or even state representatives.

One interesting point that many people may not know is that they also have ties to Warren Buffet.  I don’t know much about the personal affairs of Mr. Buffet but apparently his ex-wife attended Glide and really liked what she was hearing.  She and Mr. Buffet did not have a falling out but from what I understand he enjoyed the Midwestern life and she was more of a “free spirit” and really identified with San Francisco.  Therefore, it was not a bad breakup but just two completely different personalities which caused them to separate.  As they were still on good terms he was persuaded to help Glide out and they have a fundraising event in which the largest donor gets to have a lunch with Mr. Buffet.  You can imagine that the well heeled financiers of this city pay over $100,000 for the privilege which really works out for Glide.

In closing, I hope their plan to make it a tourist destination works out for them as again, any idea would be a step in the right direction.  Turning that place around without effectively relocating the entire population is a herculean task but is a very honorable undertaking.

Journal My Best Posts San Francisco

Strikes, Jury Duty, Whiskey and an Obama Protest

Everyday, I’m out and about in San Francisco going to visit my customers.  As I have just updated my blog and am very enthusiastic about sharing my experiences with all of you I have started to keep my eyes open for blog-worthy material.

Well, today did not disappoint and I wonder if I could turn this into a full time profession.

1.  Strike – Causing me personal problems.


Strike at a hotel


This sight of a strike is not all the uncommon here in San Francisco.  In fact, the hotels in the area are getting hit pretty hard this tourist season.

What makes this strike special is that it is also in the hotel where I pay a monthly service to park my car.  Further, I have a business relationship with this customer and may know some of these people on strike.

So, I’m in a bit of a quandary here as I shouldn’t cross the picket line but I do need access to my car.  What to do?

The last time I crossed a picket line the lady with the bullhorn shouted “Shame on you!” I really don’t have any experience with strikes but apparently the people get upset if you cross the line.


Whiskey Live Promotion


I then proceeded to Union Square after my first customer visit and found these strongmen with the barrels on their shoulder.  A big fan of spirits myself I asked what was going on and it was a promotion for Whiskey Live.  This reminded me of the St. Andrews Ball in Saigon which was the premier event of the city and taught me so much about Scottish culture and the superior buzz that a nice glass of whiskey provides.  The tickets always sold out quickly even though they were very pricey.

I asked if there would be a tasting (not that I was intending to drink during a workday) but unfortunately it was just a photo-shoot.


The Census?


Continuing on there was this display in Union Square which I believe has something to do with the 2010 Census but I really didn’t have time to sit and figure it out.  Must have taken a lot of time to set up all these cardboard people.

The caption “My casa is always there for me” I found a bit confusing.  In Spanish, that would be “My house” but in Japanese it would be “My umbrella.”  I wonder if the cardboard little girl is making a statement about her house or umbrella?  If it is a house then I believe a recent Fox opinion piece was making the argument that everyone shouldn’t be entitled to a house.

Sorry cardboard little girl, it seems that you’ve got some enemies on the Fox network.  I wonder if they think everyone should or could be entitled to an umbrella?


An Obama protest with a twist!


As I was exiting the square I came upon this protest which I have seen before.  I thought I would check in with these people to see if they were sane putting on an Obama protest in the middle of San Francisco.

Being SF however there was a big TWIST and my assumptions turned out to be completely wrong.  These people were Democrats who were mad at Obama for not withdrawing from Afghanistan.  This really threw me for a loop because I had questions all lined up such as:

1. Isn’t the Hitler mustache a bit much?

2.  If you’re Conservatives do you really think you’ll have much of an impact here since S.F. is solidly democratic?  Wouldn’t the East Bay be better?  What is the deal???


I’m confused


As you can see from the picture they are supporting a Democrat for Congress.  Their beef is not just with the war but rather with the Opium trade and the real target is the British Empire and the financial system that is supposedly supported by the Opium Trade!  The links to their arguments are found at / and  I swear, you just never know what you’re gonna get in this city.

To add to this weird week I also received a summons for Jury Duty.  It would almost seem that the Universe is playing tricks on me not letting me get my car, confusing me about Obama and now Jury Duty.  The reason that I believe it is the Universe doing this to me is they scheduled my service for the same time I am going to be attending my SISTERS WEDDING in OHIO!

When I first saw the notice and that failure to show would result in jail and a fine I had visions of skipping the service, fleeing the country and taking up a new nationality because I can’t skip the wedding and if the Feds are going to be after me then so be it.  Luckily, we are allowed to postpone the service one time and the nice automated auto-answer allowed me to reschedule.  The Universe was just poking me for fun it seems.


Pug Sentry


Finally, on my way back home for lunch I saw this Pug standing sentry to a store.  I don’t think he was protesting anything, nor on strike, nor did he have a sign saying his house or umbrella would always be there.  I also do not think he drinks whiskey or tried to ask me to fulfill any of my civic duties.  Nope, he just sat and didn’t even look at me when I snapped this picture.

All this in one Friday morning in San Francisco.  I wonder if I’ll have any more adventures visiting my afternoon customers?

Journal San Francisco

Cherry Blossoms in Union Square

Passing through Union Square as I do most days saw that the Cherry Blossoms are in bloom

In Japan we would always go the park at this time of year for Hanami (花見). The event is pretty much a picnic where you eat snacks, drink sake and look at the blossoms. The blooms are only out for a week or two and the event is huge in Japan so parks are pretty crowded.

No picnics going on in Union Square but there is the weekly Art show and plenty of tourists!

— Post From My iPhone

Location:Post St,San Francisco,United States