Quote of the Day

JamesBaldwin Quote.jpg

 

Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced. -James Baldwin

Welcome to Egypt, This Way Please

This is the first of many rants from my private journal on my trip to Egypt last year. Learn more about the series here.

Baba and I landed in Cairo on the evening of May 19, 2011.

Baba’s requested wheelchair service was waiting for him right outside the airplane door, not the gate door like in Germany (for our layover), the airplane door which put my overly anxious father at ease. To be honest, the gentleman had an extremely professional and friendly demeanor unlike what I was expecting. He guided us through customs, “this way please”, where the officers were oddly polite following typical procedures with their questions. Then he guided us to baggage claims, “this way please,” where I remembered the one bag that wouldn’t show up.

I was maybe on 3 hours of sleep, exhausted from packing and repacking thanks to the odd agreement amongst airlines that believes you are well off on a long international trip with about 100 pounds and one carry-on. (To the people that come up with these stupid standards, good shoes and toiletries are not light!) I’ve been packing for over a month and somehow until the last minute I was still off by several pounds. The best part, I wasn’t just stressing over packing for myself, it started with stressing over shopping and packing for Baba too!

At SFO, there was a good 20 minutes of misinformation because Lufthansa was convinced I was going to Europe and not the Middle East so I should have LESS luggage… WHAT?! After that, was another good banter over one of my carry-ons being one too many. Really? Lufthansa asked for $250 if I wanted to have it checked! In the end I had to part with it because I usually take a while to get through security because of my hijab and Baba wasn’t being helpful at all. It was a tough decision to have to leave it behind even as Mama said she’d ship it too me. All I could think about was my favorite pair of heels I had packed in that carry-on specifically so they don’t get messed up in the handling of my luggage (I know, first world problems). For those who may or may not know, despite my ungirly dislike for shopping, I have a thing for shoes!

Back at the new terminal of Cairo International Airport (seems its only for EgyptAir flights), the gentleman handling my father’s wheelchair was kind enough to help out with our luggage, let me use his cell phone when my T-mobile international roaming decided not to be turned on per my request weeks in advance and wait before Baba’s nephews were able to get through security outside the airport to receive us.

The last time I was here was April 2001. I had an interesting experience, both good and bad. I enjoyed meeting new people and exploring Egypt’s treasures while putting up with constant verbal cat calling at the presence of my family members in public. I wondered then if Egypt would ever improve, change for the better.

I didn’t have a great first impression when after landing in Cairo’s airport then, everyone was harassing Mama and I to handle our luggage and be tipped for just offering to help. Customs were rude, acting like they were doing us a favor by letting us enter the country. Employees were plain rude if you weren’t deemed “important” or refused to tip for no reason. Bombarded by drivers fighting over offering you a ride even after you’ve said you were not interested.

This time was different.

No one touched our luggage unless we specifically requested it. Drivers only asked once, politely, and wished us well as they flashed a smile after we said “no, thank you.” The gentleman handling Baba’s wheelchair was a married man with kids, working this job because he actually enjoyed it. He didn’t once mention anything about getting a tip. Baba and I of course insisted on tipping him and taking down his number so that we can connect with him when my father was to fly back to California alone two months later.

On the hour or so drive to Baba’s farming country town of ElManzala where he grew up, I wondered if that airport experience was enough of an impression to judge if Egypt has changed for the better, different after the great revolution of earlier that year. Some streets were clean, others were not. Drivers were still driving crazy at one in the morning, yet they used their turning singnals. Homes were still being built, clothes were hung on clothes lines across balconies and roofs. Mosques and churches alike were colorfully light up. Cairo was wide awake, it never slept. And not one picture to remind the people of who used to run this place.

That put a smile on my face.

San Francisco Elections – My Who, What & Why Votes!

I always get excited when I receive my absentee ballot in the mail! This years ballot for the City of San Francisco is quite intersting that I can’t pick just one or two initiatives to write about as I usually do. From the intense mayoral race to some of these propositions, it’s certainly an interesting election this year for San Francisco! This year is also the first year San Francisco is going on a ranking voting system similar to what Oakland used during it’s last election. You don’t have to vote for a 2nd or 3rd choice but it is recommended when we have so many candidates running in the same race.

Regardless of your thoughts, political party or voting decision, I urge you to go out and VOTE this November!! Seriously, if you aren’t going to vote, keep your mouth shut! Don’t complain, don’t whine and don’t wish for things to happen in your local community if you are not going to take the most basic initiative towards making a change! We need to remind ourselves of how many people have struggled and died for us to have this right today and those who are continuing the fight for this same right everywhere else across the globe.

San Francisco Mayor
1st Choice: Leland Yee
2nd Choice: David Chiu
3rd Choice: John Avalos

Since Gavin Newsom has left his mayoral seat, things have changed. A new leadership is needed to not only bring this city back up but to help usher in some major improvements. With that said, I’m confident in Leland Yee‘s expertise and commitment to the city he has served for over 20 years. I know he doesn’t have the most perfect political history but it takes a strong candidate to admit when he’s made bad calls and good calls. Yee is one of those candidates. Its also very rare to have someone who has been raised in San Francisco and serve it politically for as long as Yee has.

I’m also choosing David Chiu and John Avalos as my 2nd and 3rd choice respectively based on their work in the city in the last few years as well as their clean and positive campaigning. All three candidates support the Occupy San Francisco movement unlike Mayor Ed Lee who’s response isn’t helping his mayoral bid one bit.

San Francisco Sheriff
1st Choice: Ross Mirkarimi
2nd Choice: Paul Miyamota
3rd Choice: Chris Cunnie

Ross Mirkarimi gets my vote with his experience and decent work history as a San Francisco supervisor. Miyamota and Cunnie have my 2nd and 3rd choice respectively for their experience as well.

San Francisco District Attorney
1st Choice: Sharmin Bock

Does George Gascon really think he has a chance after his failed SFPD Chief tenure? I don’t know much about the other candidates to decide on a 2nd and 3rd choice but Sharmin Bock‘s work in Alameda is what’s encouraging my vote.

Proposition A – School Bonds

As someone who has attended San Francisco public schools from kindergarten through high school, I know what it is like to be in a good functioning campus and to be in one that isn’t. By the time I graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, the renovations that took place throughout my time there was complete. The campus looked and felt beautiful that I was actually envious of those enjoying it. Public schools are losing students in large part due to low enrollment, budget cuts to programs, large classrooms and parents taking their children out of what they feel is a failing public school system.

With that said, I vote NO on this proposition because  this is the third time this proposition has been put forth after it was passed the first two times in 2003 and 2006! I’m assuming little was done with it those funds thus finding this proposition unnecessary. Funds can be brought forth through the rental of the many empty facilities currently in the city. I believe there is at least five to ten facilities available for rent, not including those for sale, including two right here in my district. Plus, the ridiculous salaries some of these administrators get versus what the teachers who are barely making it could use a revision.

Proposition B – Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds

This proposition is decently drafted to help bring continued improvement throughout the city. It’s a long term investment in city improvements and local job creation without raising taxes. My neighborhood was recently repaved, alongside new medians, pothole fixes and greenery which has made it simply beautiful. I feel a YES will help bring these same improvements to all of San Francisco.

Proposition C – City Pension and Health Care Benefits
Proposition D – City Pension Benefits

Personally, the unions have drained many cities across this nation including San Francisco with some of these ridiculously drafted pension plans. Many of these city employees are making a lot of money and being paid almost as much after they’ve left or retired from their jobs with very little contribution towards their pensions. Remember Bell City a couple years back? I’m all for a good pension and health care plan for our hard working employees but it shouldn’t continuously raise my taxes to cover these costs and put my city in debt.

Proposition C was drafted poorly by Mayor Ed Lee and approved to be on the ballot unanimously by the Board of Supervisors… bad move! While Proposition D was being drafted by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Lee went ahead and made a deal with a few unions to exempt them from these changes should Proposition D pass over C… terrible move!

In my opinion, Proposition D is better drafted, better suited and will save the city a good $70-$80 million in the next fiscal year versus Proposition C which would only save the city approximately$40-$50 million. Proposition C gets a NO and Proposition D gets a YES from me.

Proposition E – Amending or Repealing Legislative Initiative Ordinances and Declarations of Policy

Dear Board of Supervisors, Don’t amend my vote! Should think twice about any initiative before you place it on the ballot just like the citizens do before they go out gathering signatures for theirs. Voting NO!

Proposition F – Campaign Consultant Ordinance

This law is not only stupid to begin with but this proposition doesn’t help make it any better… NO.

Proposition G – Sales Tax

Ummm… NO! The city already pays an arm and a leg for many of these community policing and safety programs to feel the need to increase my taxes to continue funding for them!

Proposition H – School District Student Assignment

When I was in middle school, my family moved from the Mission district to the Sunset district. I ended up going to three different middle schools because of SFUSD’s odd placement policies. It’s completely absurd and messed up to this day. My younger siblings didn’t get to go to the same high school as I did due to those same ridiculous placement and waiting list policies. I think the whole thing needs to be rewritten but I’m voting YES so that in the mean time, this will help the students in the next school year.

Absentee ballot sealed and sent! Your thoughts are welcomed.