2006 October

People who stand in the wrong spot waiting for BART is a pet peeve of mine. You'd think most anybody could figure out you stand on the "in" arrows and leave the "out" arrows open for people to get off of the train, but apparently that's not the case.

Another BART pet peeve: people who sit on the outside seat rather than move in when other people are standing so that you have to crawl over them to sit down.

I'd never noticed it until a 6-year-old pointed it out to his father, but this Pittsburg doesn't have the "h" at the end like the one in Pennsylvania.

The ticket-gates were broken at the Ashby BART station one day, so everybody got a free ride.

This is a little Chinese food place near work. It has a scrolling LED light which drives me nuts because it says "Our next presentation is..." I could see "special" or something, but "presentation" when describing food fast?

Oh, the wonderful parents of today. These kids were playing with the soda machine, pressing on the levers to make it run, when their mom went over to them. I figured she was gonna yell at them or spank them, but instead she started pressing the levers, too. I just about went over there and slapped them all myself.

Geese on a soccer/track/football field.

A lady in front of me at the grocery store was buying only indoor fogger and anti-insect-bite cream. She apparently had had enough.

I wanted some of these plastic sliding containers, but they were all so expensive. I looked in 3-4 office supply stores and none had any under $20.

Finally I went back to the first store I had stopped at and I saw these for $14. Boy, I'm glad I missed them the first time and spend an hour wandering around other stores instead of noticing them right away.

You know, as a kid, I never once had to clean out the microwave. If someone's food splattered inside of it, they cleaned it up right away. Of course, apparently that's too much work for people out here. Much easier to let it harden and make someone else spend 5 minutes scrubbing rather than taking 5 seconds to wipe it clean when it's still liquid.

This truck was backing into a building, so everybody on the sidewalk had to stop and wait for it.

That's an, uh, interesting outfit.

A BART ride to or from Ashby to Embarcadero costs $3.10.

Remember, the fast food joints in good neighborhoods always have bulletproof sliding plastic trays to put the food and money through.

I went to a Raiders game on Sunday. If you wait until game day, you can often buy tickets on Craigslist from season ticket holders who weren't able to make the game that day for much cheaper than they normally would be. I got a $96 ticket for $50. I sent the money through PayPal and the guy emailed me a ticket to print out. The whole process took under 5 minutes. The seat was right at the 50-yard-line, about 14 rows back (it was in the closest section), and it was a beautiful day, too.

This is a view from the next section up.

And this is from the highest seats in the stadium. Actually, I kind of prefer the higher spots because you can see what is going on better.

Especially since everybody stands almost the entire game in the front section, and if you don't stand, too, this is all you'll see.

Good luck carrying those, especially because they fill them all the way to the top. Most people stand there and suck some beer out before risking walking.

A light went out in the BART car I was in. It was actually kind of nice if you wanted to nap.

I dressed up as a wizard for Halloween. I bought the robe from Goodwill and put battery-powered Christmas lights running down the sleeves. I also added some hanging starry fabric to the wrists. The top part of the hat I bought as it was, but then the giant brim is cardboard that I put fabric over. There are also Christmas lights running around the edge of the brim. The beard I bought at a Halloween supply store. I got the staff there, too, but then I screwed a battery-powered lightning ball onto it. The spellbook is just a regular book that I painted black and then painted with silver letters and symbols. The shoes I bought at Wal-Mart (nothing like wandering around the women's shoe section trying on sparkly slippers to make people stare at you).

The Christmas lights and lightning ball were very hard to obtain; almost nobody had battery-powered ones. And most of the battery-powered Christmas lights take 4 Cs, which would have been a little heavy, but I finally found some that took 4 AAs.

Waiting in line for the Exotic Erotic Ball.

Another person in line there. I didn't get any good pictures of anybody inside the Ball because it was dark and I just had the camera on my cell phone, but there were a few very nice costumes.

Actually, the Exotic Erotic Ball was pretty disappointing. First, they didn't let anybody in with staffs or anything for safety reasons, so I had to lug mine back to the car and then walk back to the Ball. Second, there was supposed to be some kind of expo going on at the same time with booths and things, but I didn't see anything. And worst was the costume and Mr. and Mrs. Exotic Erotic ball contests.

They told everybody to go to the side of the stage. Of course, they had barriers set up to prevent people from walking directly from the party area to the stage, but they wouldn't let people through the gates in them. We had to walk way up and around and then come back in from the back, which was nuts. Then, nobody had any idea where the line was, including the people working there. They said stand over here, then over there, then back over here, then back over there. We all walked back and forth about 3 times. Finally, when they did the contests, they only let the first 10 or so people in line up on stage. Now, that wouldn't have been a problem if they had pre-selected the 10 best, but they just let the first 10 people in line up. And remember, nobody knew where we were supposed to be, so it wasn't really a line at all; just a ball of people. It was really disappointing having 10 people who had practically no costume on anyway competing for best costume when there were 20 people who weren't even able to get up on stage with costumes much, much better than the people competing. It wouldn't have been annoying being beaten by some of the people with amazing costumes, but to not even be able to compete after standing in the back for an hour really pissed everybody off.

On the 31st there was a big Halloween party in the Castro district of SF. This was probably the best costume I saw there; the guy dressed up like a snake-monster.

It was a pain getting into this place with a staff, too, even after I hacksawed the bottom few feet of and turned it into a scepter. The first few gates I went to the cops said I couldn't bring it in, but I just kept going to different entrances until I finally got in with it.

Some other nice costumes. I wonder how he got that sword in?

A few more good costumes.

Grapes and a banana. There was also a guy as a Rubik's Cube that was pretty impressive.

They really toned it down from last year since they had a few stabbings then. First, they only had 1 "stage" with music, as compared to the 3 stages last year, and the stage consisted of a folding table 2-3 people could dance on. I don't think they even had a costume contest this year.

They also had a ton, and I mean a ton, of cops. There was a group of 5-6 of them every 50 feet or so along the edges. A lot of good it did them, though; at about 11pm somebody shot 9 people and another person got trampled as people tried to run away. I had left at 10pm, though, so I missed the excitement (I wanted to leave before everybody else so I didn't have to wait for an hour to get on BART).

Now they're in a frenzy of whether they should have it again; they can't cancel it because people will go anyway, but they can't possibly put more police there, either. I think they should just tell people, "Well, go, have fun, but there's a slight chance you might get stabbed or shot, and we really can't do anything about it." Even if they put metal detectors in, I'm sure people could find their way around them. Actually, prohibiting groups of young males would probably do it, since they were the only people I saw doing anything, but they could just gather once they were inside. Maybe the cops should put snipers on the roofs.

In line at Safeway, somebody apparently just dumped their groceries and went home. Now I've seen people get sick of waiting and taking off, but this person must have been right at the front. Maybe they forgot money or something.

I went paintballing on Sunday with a group of people. None of us really do it much (one guy had done it a few times before, though). We got raffle tickets (about 10 per person) when we checked in, and then at noon the held a raffle. A guy in our group won, and he went up to the front. There he had to pick a marble out of a bag. The color of the marble determined your prize, and he got a paintball magazine. Then, as luck would have it, another one of his tickets was called, but he let the girl in our group go up since he didn't want to win twice. Ironically, she picked the single green marble out of the bag, giving her the grand prize: a paintball gun worth about $300-500. All the guys who go paintballing every weekend were rather annoyed that someone who never does it won the gun. There was some discussion about whether to just sell it or use it, but the guy who had paintballed before ended up keeping and using it. It was his ticket but the girl had actually picked the marble, so I think he was going to give her $100 or something like that.

As we were walking to the next game, he was trying to get the gun to work. It didn't seem to be shooting so he kept fidgeting with the settings. Finally he got it to work, but he acidentally shot a guy in front of him in the back of the leg. Remember, these things can sting if you get hit from 50 feet away; from 3 feet, I'm sure it felt wonderful. The poor guy was pretty pissed off; he kept asking the referees if there was a rule about shooting people before the game even began, but the refs said once you're inside the shooting area, all bets are off.

The fort area, where you get the guns and balls and things. They had camouflage you could rent, too, but I had bought some used pants and jacket the day before at an Army surplus store. It was probably better that way, anyway, since I had time to make sure it fit well.

The two main rules were you have to have your goggles on any time you are inside of the shooting areas, and you have to have a bright neon plug in your barrel in any non-shooting areas. I forgot about the plug a few times, though, since I'm used to just putting a gun on safe, but other people have no way of knowing that, so the plug is more of a notice to others. Interestingly, almost nobody put their guns on safe, and in the shooting areas before games the way people held their guns, the barrels would often be pointing at other people. That freaked me out a little so I was constantly moving around to get out of the line of fire of people just standing around. More of a problem with real guns, of course, but most of these people had probably never used a real gun in their life.

One of the two little areas for speed ball, where it was just small groups of people (about 3-8 per team) playing rather quick games. There was also a large field where everbody could play at once. The game right after lunch was the local team vs everybody else (maybe 30 vs 150 or so), and the team demolished all of us. Actually, my gun ran out of CO2 before I got shot, but they probably would have got me anyway.

At first I had jeans and a long-sleeved shirt under my camo for extra protection, but that was way too hot so I ditched it. I figured I'd rather have a few welts than heat stroke. Here are a couple on my arm. They stung a little, but not too bad. Good incentive to avoid being hit.

And a few more on the other side. It was actually pretty fun, except that the rental guns were extremely inaccurate. At about 100 feet, they'd be off by up to a foot in any random direction, so the only chance of hitting somebody was pulling the trigger as fast as you could and hope one of the balls hit them.