Monday, December 24, 2018

Xmas in Texmas

I had a load of fun with my cousins. We saw them on Easter, and at random times when visiting my mom's mom. And we always saw them on Christmas Eve. Mom and dad packed up all the gifts they bought for the kids, along with a dish or two of food, and we made the trip across Corpus Christi to my grandmother's house. We switched some years actually, and it would be at an aunt's house, and once or twice at our house.

I remember it being very cold some years - like below 30 - and fairly warm some years - like in the 70's at night. When we arrived at our destination, we would help unload the wrapped gifts and place them under a tree. Multiple families and multiple kids, plus a few gifts for the adults, made for a very full tree. Then there was the food. Pan de polvo and other sweets. Tamales, sometimes made with deer from a recent hunting trip, were always part of the spread. Chips and queso dip in a crock pot also. Maybe some cheesy rice or something like that. You'd kind of just eat all night. There might be a Christmas-themed movie on the television, then later we'd monitor Santa's progress. The local meteorologist would provide regular updates, I guess because Santa was in the sky where the weather was.

I caught up with my cousins. They might have a new video game to show me - I really did not like Street Fighter and would always lose because I didn't know the secret moves. Someone might have fireworks, since new years was a week away. Hide and seek or some sort of game where we ran around in the dark - I recall something with a flashlight where people were trapped in "jail" until someone else comes to release them - were common, unless it was raining. We'd all be told when we'd be able to open presents - often midnight. In retrospect, I don't know how some of the adults stayed so chipper until then, after hours of food and alcohol. At midnight, then, we'd rip open the gifts, and all disperse. We had to get home before Santa arrived; for some reason the weather person stopped giving updates by then.

Christmas morning, for us anyway, was a walk down the stairs to find unwrapped gifts in front of the fireplace. My brother and I played, and assembled things. Mom and dad downed some coffee and packed for a short trip to the Valley. We'd pick one or two new things to take, and we'd head to McAllen. Mom put Christmas music on the radio, and we kept our eyes open for wildlife. Well, not just wild, it was also a treat to see the cows grazing.

We arrived in McAllen for my dad's side of the family's Christmas. Honestly, this part was somewhat boring for me. I always thought of McAllen as a sad, hot, humid, place with foul-tasting tap water. I'm just being honest, but I understand that I was young. I actually know very little of the place besides my grandparents house. I knew almost know Spanish, but Spanish soap operas were always on the television. Soap operas were bad enough in English, but that was torture. I did have two cousins down there, but they were girls, and besides a game or two of UNO, we didn't play much. There were often tamales, but also a bunch of gross stuff - cabrito, menudo, and occasionally a whole cow head that my grandfather would pull apart for tacos. I did love the tortillas though. Smaller and thicker than the flour tortillas commonly purchased at stores today - they were always cooked on the comal until they were slightly crisp. Although they were probably already full of lard, we often spread butter on them. They were on the side of each meal, but also eaten occasionally as a snack.

We traded gifts there as well, but by then we were getting a bit numb from all the free stuff, and could feel the the good times winding down. "How many weeks until my birthday?" I'd ask myself.

That was our Christmas tradition for many years. At the time, I assumed everyone did something similar, but I realize now traditions are all over the place just among those who celebrate Christmas. Despite the fact I was sometimes bored, cold, or hot, they were good memories.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Russiagate! Nope.

Vladimir Putin is the reason Hillary Clinton lost, and the truth of this is about to bring down the Trump presidency and restore civility and honor to the Republic. Maybe something along those lines, but I can't get as excited about the whole thing as many liberals/centrists and corporate pundits seem to be. In large part because:
  • I wish I lived in a world where killing innocent people in other countries would be the real scandal; 
  • I wish I lived in a world where we were more shocked about the influence of money in politics than the influence of Russian Twitter bots; 
  • I wish I lived in a world where we found it just as immoral when the U.S. interferes in democratic processes around the globe as whatever (so far hazy) acts committed by the Russian government against our own democratic process; and 
  • I wish I lived in a world where countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia could be as easily demonized by American media and politicians as Russia or Venezuela.
Among other things.

Russiagate, for lack of a better word, seems to be more a type of therapy for those who prefer establishment moderates run American empire than a scandal that will actually bring about as much positive change as the blustery hope surrounding it might suggest. It is reassuring in so many ways for these individuals: Clinton did not really lose (and well she didn't - she won the popular vote - and that twist seems to be something we should be genuinely outraged about) - Russia manipulated social media to fool a bunch of unsuspecting voters in key states. Trump does not really represent many of the bad aspects of America - he is more a product of Siberian oligarchs and backward Muscovites. And for those more evil than ignorant - we can ratchet up people's fears around not just North Korea and Iran, but also Russia! It's win, win, win!

For those in positions of power, however, it is more than therapy. Russiagate also serves as a bludgeon, for use against anyone who wants to challenge these conventional ideas promoted by the powerful center. It reeks of American exceptionalism and sucks up all the energy that might go towards the fight against money in politics and for ballot access. It takes up so much political space, and does so conveniently at the expense of the politics of change - universal healthcare, anti-imperialism, free higher education, and the urgency of ending fossil fuel use; ideas that neither political party embraces, but that have grown in popularity among the masses. These are the concepts that most politicians would rather not talk about, and most corporate newsrooms know won't help their bottom line.

It's hard to sympathize with Trump and his supporters though. And if the ends justify the means, why not have this imperfect process with all of its problematic players and ideas, take out the man at the top. Maybe it is worth it to get rid of President Trump, or even just to horribly taint his brand of politics, which as incoherent as it often seems, has nonetheless emboldened a motley crew of Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe. But Washington has shown it can get rid of presidents far more easily than it can actually change for the better. Nixon was impeached and resigned, remember, but roughly six years later, Ronald Reagan was elected.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sebastian, a.k.a. Sea Bass, a.k.a. Bass, RIP

Not long after the Twin Towers collapsed, while I was still living in Austin and we were all kind of scared and sad, my roommate, Liz, and I decided to adopt a dog. We went to the Town Lake Animal Shelter, and I saw the perfect, most adorable dog for adoption. But, there were already four people on the waiting list for that one, so we adopted Sebastian instead.

But, before we even got him home, while sitting with him in the back of Liz's old Mercedes, rambling down the road, we slammed into another car - Welcome to Your New Family, Sebastian! We were all fine. Sebastian was nervous in cars for a couple of years after that though.

He was a lanky dog, who leaped about. He probably needed a few acres to really be happy, but a small back yard worked pretty well. Especially with overhanging branches, and plenty of squirrels. For years Sebastian's favorite pastime was barking and jumping into the air at squirrels that were taunting him by flicking their tails; as if he could ever reach the 15 foot high branches. He could get up to 6 feet, so maybe he was working up to it.  Years later he went through a phase of barking at airplanes and airplane trails, though he didn't bother to jump at them.

Sebastian was a good dog; Even though he bit my friends, and bit me once pretty hard too; and even though he sometimes attacked other dogs while on leash and wouldn't let go of them as they whimpered and their owners got mad at me; and even though he killed our beloved chicken "Laverne I"; he was a good dog. He was with me through a few challenging times. He wasn't much of a lap dog and the most he ever did to comfort me was to lick my hand a couple of times as if to say, "there there," but he was present and I needed him. He was a great road trip dog, once he got over his fear of crashing. Sebastian was my sole companion on a few trips to West Texas, a few trips home to Corpus Christi, the four day drive that brought me out to San Francisco, and a few days along Highway 1 I remember fondly.

When we got him, they told us he was about 1 year old, which would make him nearly 17-years-old at his death. He was old, so this wasn't entirely unexpected, but it is particularly hard because he has been a constant presence in my life for nearly 16 years: From single law student in Texas to married, non-practicing, police oversight, middle-manager, in California; through six rented apartments and one mortgaged house. He was always pretty spry. People thought he was a puppy even just a couple of years ago. Besides our chicken, he killed a number of non-pets: a rat, a mouse, and several baby possums that we know of. He was pretty healthy too; he never really had any problems; until recently, that is.

He nearly faded out a couple of times over the last year - he would stop eating and get lethargic. A change in diet generally fixed that. Just in the last six to nine months he began having problems standing up - we found him with his four legs splayed out on the concrete, unable to move, a few times. He would go on walks occasionally, but couldn't go far. More recently he started having nose bleeds. But that's all over now.

I assume heaven for him is whatever hell is for squirrels. Sebastian can climb trees and jump 50 feet high! Good boy! Go get those squirrels!


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Adobo, a.k.a. Dobes RIP

Dobes napping.
When Adobo first marched into our home, peeing here and there, smelling the ground with his lips flapping about, we noted several unique things about him: he had a particularly long tail, an unusually long tongue, and he was prone to sneezing when his nose was tapped. He also had an eye that looked like a big, dark brown, flesh marble. What was wrong with his eye? We knew we couldn't get too attached because we needed to figure that out first. So we shelled out the money to have it removed, as recommended. The vets said it was benign and he'd be a healthy one-eyed dog. He could have no eyes and we'd have been ok with that, as long as he was healthy.

Adobo, or "dobes" for short, was loyal, but he also had issues. He got into a few fights with Sebastian - the 16-year-old dog we didn't expect to outlive Adobo, but he's like one of those 100-year-old marathon runners. If dobes was sitting with his dads or near any food or treats, he was in growling/protect mode against any threats, especially Sebastian. He usually did not like kisses and would growl, and occasionally snap, at anyone who gave him one (though he did have his moods when he was cool with a peck on the head). He also ate poop. And we loved him.

We heard he had spent a lot of time in a crate and without a backyard before getting to us, so for the short two years we had him, we let him take advantage of the huge park across the street, and eventually made some changes to the house to give him access to the yard at all hours (he ruined a few IKEA rugs before that).

We adopted him as a senior, and knew we wouldn't necessarily have him for multiple years. But he stayed with us just long enough for us to get really really attached. He went out on a high note: uncomfortable, but still able to walk, wag his tail, and (with pain pills) eat a decent breakfast. He'll be missed, but I think his time with us was pretty much dog joy from beginning to end.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Disparaging Jill Stein

Alternate Title: Democratic Hacks Ask, "Is it ok to punch a hippie?" and answer "YES!"

I'm not really a huge fan of Jill Stein, but she has been a favorite punching bag for Democratic partisans and liberals who ridicule her as "stupid" and irrelevant, but also blame her for Trump's victory and the coming apocalypse. I feel the need to defend her and the Greens because I feel her liberal critics are often misinformed or disingenuous (no she is not an anti-vaxxer who believes wi-fi causes brain cancer). The bitter, scornful critiques of Stein from the middle and near-left spring forth from a political perspective that, honestly, has a lot more to do with the mess we're in now, than anything she or the Green Party have ever done. If you aren't a right-wing Republican and you care about human rights and the future of our planet, you will of course be outraged at what Republicans are doing now, and you should be doing whatever you can to resist their agenda. But this is also a critical moment to shine a light on how the Democratic Party has failed us. Don't demonize or ridicule Stein and the Greens; focus your derision on the far more powerful and far more corrupt Democratic Party.

To illustrate this, here is a list of things Jill Stein did not do:
  • Vote for a war in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and left a chaotic situation in the region;
  • Vote in favor of Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense - General James Mattis, AND his nominee for U.N. Ambassador - Nikki Haley (some people who did both - Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Kamala Harris, Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren);
  • Deport over 2 million people (as Obama did);
  • Vote in favor of Trump's nominee for CIA Director, Mike Pompeo (some people who did - Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer);
  • Vote against a bill that would have lowered prescription drug prices for Americans (as Cory Booker did);
  • Vote in favor of Ben Carson for HUD Secretary (some people who did - Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren);
  • Support free trade agreements that prioritized corporate interests over workers' rights or the environment;
  • Give a speech backing charter schools to an organization chaired by Betsy DeVos, like Cory Booker did;
  • Write an article about how she would affirm an unbreakable bond with Israel and Benjamin Netenyahu (as Hillary Clinton did);
  • and so on ... if we go back to the 90's there is a lot more material.
Stein has mishandled some things and she is certainly not a polished, Washington insider.

For example, there was that Russia Today event she attended where at one point she was seated at a table with both Vladimir Putin and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. They weren't making out or anything, and it is likely that she didn't get to choose where she sat, but still. It should be noted, however, that she never called Putin a friend to her family (as Hillary Clinton did regarding Hosni Mubarak) and she doesn't spend her winters with Putin at Oscar de la Renta's beachfront villa (as Hillary Clinton frequently has with Henry Kissinger). And at that notorious event where Stein was at a table with Putin she spoke on a panel and said:
Imagine how much better off the world would be if our two nations could lead the way for the major powers to reduce the size of our military establishments. We could invest the money saved in something truly beneficial - such as job creation to expand renewable energy and stop climate change. Ending our multinational fossil fuel addiction will make disastrous wars for oil obsolete in the first place.
What a monster!

Then there is the most recent example, which motivates my posting on this today. On February 7, Stein tweeted:
This was in reference to to the vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, in which 2 Republicans joined the Democrats creating the tie in the Senate, eventually broken by Vice President Pence. The usual crew of Democratic apologists piled on. Doesn't she know that every Democrat in the Senate voted against DeVos!!!! She was either "stupid" or deceiving her "stupid" base.

The tweet is still up despite all the negative attention it got. For that reason, and because the tweet linked to a Washington Post article that made the unanimous Democratic opposition clear, it seems unlikely that Stein made a mistake. Perhaps her communications team could clarify, but maybe she meant that the Democrats lost the Senate, during Obama's tenure, and didn't win it back in the elections last year, because people who would otherwise vote for them didn't get very excited about politicians who "serve corporate interests." But why give her the benefit of the doubt when she can be demonized and ridiculed, and anyone who would ever dream of voting 3rd party can have all that shame and doubt beaten into their subconscious?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Thoughts on a Year Full of Change

I have really neglected this blog; in large part because of all the change going on, though you'd think that would just give me plenty to write about. No. Sometimes change saps the creative energy out of you. And sometimes it just makes finding the time to write (or paint or build a dog house) nearly impossible. Plus, rapid change can make the casual writer's political scribbling become irrelevant before she or he is able to click on "Publish." Well, I have a couple of 3-day weekends this month, so here's a summary of 2016.

The National Lawyers Guild was flexible enough to let me study for the California bar exam this year. And I did. I spent hours reviewing contracts, property, criminal procedure, civil procedure, and man it brought back memories. More on that later.

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Bellas Artes Very Art Deco Interior
JC and I went to Mexico City for a few days in May. Unlike the last time I went, I got to go to Palacio Bellas Artes, the Templo Mayor, and the Museo del Carmen. I was able to revisit Teotihuacan, where I could be the guide this time. More adventurous friends had shown me how to avoid the tours and get to Teotihuacan via the metro and regional buses. It takes a bit longer, but the bus depot had a Subway sandwich shop, which kept us going.

As I recall, the Templo Mayor was closed on my last trip. This time we were able to tour the ruins uncovered beneath and alongside the Metropolitan Cathedral and the main Zocalo. In one spot you could view modern Mexican business towers, colonial Spanish buildings from hundreds of years ago, and the templo itself – layer upon layer of newer structures built over other structures. We also saw mummies at the Museo del Carmen, which I had missed last time – again, closed. I managed to purchase some t-shirts at a store with a complicated shopping process: once I decided what I wanted (in this case needed), workers lowered the shirts with a rope from the storage area above; then I paid for them at a counter, but had to pick them up at a different counter upon showing my receipt; the gentleman at this last counter reviewed and stamped my documents. The shirts were too tight.

We also found decent vegetarian food.

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Casa de los Azulejos
I'm generally a happy traveler in urban centers full of history. Add in my ancestral roots, and you've got me hooked. Staying right on the Zocalo was pretty touristy, but it pleased me nonetheless. One afternoon we were in our un-airconditioned hotel room, watching some storms roll in and trying to get the breeze blowing through the french door windows. I got a call from someone I only knew through email and a couple of previous phone calls. He let me know that I was likely to be offered a job that I had applied to many, many months ago.

Untitled
Speaking of Mexico, this kid, Francisco, came into my life in March through the Big Brothers program.  He and his family are from Mexico. Kids need mentors, and I needed an excuse to go to the park more often. It's a pretty good match.

I first met him in an office building. His mom brought him into a small room and we were instructed to talk about the activities we enjoyed. I had to sign a form saying I wouldn't take him on motorcycle rides, and an additional form about firearms since we had a pellet gun in the house (we've yet to purchase pellets). After about 20 minutes, the kid asked, "do I go with him now?" And, ever since, we pretty much have a standing date on Saturdays. Did anyone see the 2016 movie "Nine Lives"? No? Well I did! Francisco and I (and increasingly JC) have also been on frequent trips to the beach, a rock-climbing gym, a carnival, kid-friendly museum/discovery/science places, and plenty of parks.

I also took him to a community outreach event I did for my new job – there was music, and games, and he got a free backpack out of it. The new job is probably the biggest change for me this year. I was at the NLG for nearly 12 years. I was increasingly open to change, but also didn't really like any of the jobs I saw posted. And I was seeing the good jobs – the ones people would send me to post to NLG lists so awesome people would apply. Some of the best options required a law license, and that, in part, is why I was studying for the California bar exam. Other really good options required one to be bilingual. Duolingo now says I'm at 46%! But that guy who called me in Mexico had emailed me one over a year ago that caught my attention.  It was an investigator position at the Office of Citizen Complaints - a San Francisco public agency that investigates public complaints against police officers. The idea of being a public servant maybe sounds boring, but is appealing to me, especially serving a function that (while insufficient on its own) is so necessary. The idea of focusing on one type of work was also appealing: instead of being the director, human resources person, researcher, public speaker, event planner, fundraiser, communications director, tech person and a hundred other jobs required to keep the NLG functioning with only two staff people. So, on a whim, I applied and, eventually, got an offer. And that's what I'm doing now. I put the bar exam on hold, pero todavía estoy practicando Español cada dia.

Wake up
Taken early one morning on my way to work. Early for me anyway.
The focus at the new gig has been good, but there is still a great deal of variety. Everyone comes in with different issues – not just the particular misconduct of which they are complaining, but sometimes unique legal issues, personal issues, cultural issues, and so on. They may have violated the law themselves, or may think the police should have arrested someone else. Their primary form of income may be, technically, illegal. They may not realize that their complaint is completely unfounded, or they may not know that the police did several other things during their encounter that amount to misconduct. I do work in the field, and interview witnesses as well as, naturally, the police officers accused of misconduct. So, it isn't like I'm making the same widgets every day from 9 to 5. Actually I usually start at 8:15 AM! Adjusting to that has been one of the biggest challenges. Well, that, and I don't get to be learning about, strategizing about, and debating political change all day. Just at lunch, during my morning and evening commutes, and during my two fifteen minute breaks; also at night and on weekends and holidays.

OK, I'm mostly just on twitter. I need to do more, because there is plenty to do.

The Sanders campaign had been the political surprise of the year until November, right? The media wouldn't portray it as such, but a grey-haired, socialist from Vermont giving the Democratic Party establishment a run for its money was pretty unexpected. And that's really who he was running against. Clinton as a person has her own flaws and epitomizes that establishment, but it was a broad swath of the Democratic Party establishment that was really up for election this year, and it failed to beat a World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee who pals around with neo-Nazis. Although I'd bet more money on Sanders' elect-ability, I still thought Clinton would pull it off in the end. I shared the shock of my liberal-moderate brothers and sisters on that count.

IMG_4545Now the question is what do we do, and it feels a bit like being out in the wilderness at night in complete darkness, because you don't know exactly what to expect, but you know you need to prepare yourself. I actually think that may be one of the things that makes Trump more frightening than Clinton – the unexpected. After all, I have no doubt that a Clinton administration would have unleashed a great deal of pain on the planet, unlike Trump, she and her compatriots would have dressed it up in humanitarianism, incrementalism, and wonkishness. But she is a standard politician entrenched in the same Democratic Party that coalesced around her husband's presidency 20 years ago.

Trump is an unknown. He doesn't seem to have a well thought out political ideology and he may be part of the ruling class, but is certainly not part of the Republican establishment.

So there is the unexpected, but even if Trump is prepared to do about the same amount of harm as a standard Republican or Democrat, the other scary aspect of his campaign and future presidency is the proto-fascists, crass bigots, and shameless corporatists he has empowered. Unfortunately, many  Democrats are saying they are willing to work with Trump, and even liberal journalists and pundits seem perfectly willing to normalize the worst aspects of what we've seen and what may be to come.

So we – those of us who are not politicians and not "millionaires and billionaires" (said in a Bernie Sanders voice) – have to fight and protest. There lies our hope. The people freezing in North Dakota to stop an oil pipeline have shown us the way forward. So have the movements for Black Lives and the one to Occupy Wall Street, which both came while an ostensibly progressive, black president sat in office. A Sanders presidency would also have needed protest, though I think a Sanders administration would have been more responsive. At any rate, we live on a planet dominated by an economic system that is killing us, and in a country that is more or less running it, so who our political leaders are is important, and yet, even the right people would be relatively incapable of saving us, if we aren't willing to take risks and save ourselves.

That should be our New Years Resolution actually.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Running the Excelsior

I haven't written about running in some time, in part because I'm doing it less. But I still do it, and will likely keep doing it until my knees or hips snap or otherwise become permanently damaged. It is easy (no equipment necessary - though I always have my preferred sneakers, a digital watch, my iphone, and bluetooth earphones on me), you get to see a lot (when you're running outside and not on a treadmill), and it generally feels good/is good for you/etc.

My San Francisco neighborhood of the last few years is the Excelsior – a residential, somewhat foggy, enclave that some SF residents think is Daly City when driving south on Mission Street. It slopes down toward Cayuga Creek (or Islais Creek or Rodeo Viejo Valley) – a creek long covered by Cayuga Avenue; up hill to the west is Balboa Park; up hill to the East is McLaren Park. There are no major hills by San Francisco standards, but still a lot of incline and decline. I happen to be adjacent to McLaren Park, so it is challenging to find a sufficiently lengthy route in my neighborhood that is flat, without running back and forth several times.

So I start one of my frequent neighborhood runs going downhill towards busy Mission Street. My legs are still cold, so I have to avoid pounding down on the concrete while I continuously check for inattentive drivers - of which there are many. Mission Street has the added bonus of large buses, taxis and Uber/Lyft cars making illegal U-turns; plus many more pedestrians.

model of Corpus Christi church
I attempt to make the most of the flat roadways in the neighborhood by maximizing my route along Alemany Boulevard and San Jose Avenue - both traveling parallel to the old creek, like roads on the edge of a broad canyon, they are fairly level. Alemany has a bike lane in each direction, as you would expect for a relatively flat road. Follow the bike paths in San Francisco and you'll usually be on the more manageable routes. As I run my first section of Alemany I pass Corpus Christi church – notable because it shares a name with my birth city, but also because the vicinity is full of human obstacles on Sundays (since I'm off on Sunday and don't go to church, it is a common running day for me). I cross right there and continue down a ways before turning and continuing my descent.

Little City Gardens
Just as my legs are loose enough I begin one of the steeper inclines of the run up to San Jose Avenue. At this point I pass by Little City Gardens. You'd probably miss it if you drove by, but it extends back several yards between private homes, full of rows of flowers and vegetables. It is a working farm; among other things, it provides food to local restaurants. It's future is uncertain, however, and along the way you can see little yellow signs in some of the front windows of homes that say "Save the Farm."

Onto San Jose Avenue - a minor commercial corridor with two corner store/sandwich shops, a bar, tattoo parlor (parlour?), a Samoan church, a Korean church, laundromat and a Chinese restaurant, among other assorted places. It is dominated on the West by Balboa Park - a park that has many forms of leisure and exercise, and also happens to be a public transportation hub. There is an enclosed pool, various playing courts, baseball fields, and a skate park. The J Muni light-rail line runs along San Jose and ends at Balboa Park station – the busiest BART station in the Bay Area outside of downtown San Francisco.

Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse back in the day
Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse marks my turn back downhill. This stretch of Geneva is busy, but mostly residential. There is supposed to be a public garden here (Geneva Community Garden), but that plot is mostly dirt and weeds at the moment. It is a somewhat steep downhill and back up, getting back onto Alemany for a last stretch of flat concrete. This is a good spot to crank up the pace – one last push to avoid ending up with a horrible average speed.

As I continue back uphill into my neighborhood I pass the Persia Triangle – really a colorful laundromat/car repair parking lot/makeshift church. There are future plans to make it a friendlier triangle, which will be nice, but it is central and busy anyway. The large windows at the Dragon House sometimes draw one's attention to kick boxing, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu and the like. Again, this is Mission Street so watch out for scofflaws, Ubers and impatient drivers in SUV's with loud mufflers. (I once saw the intersection blocked off by police, a truck on the sidewalk a few yards beyond, and groceries scattered about the road.)
Heading up the long, steady incline of tree-lined Persia is sometimes made more difficult by smoking pedestrians or exhaust fumes. The wind is typically at your back, however. Passing the towering murals of Cleveland Elementary (home of the Peacemakers!) is an encouraging reminder that I'm nearly home and I switch my iphone to a a more victorious song, if appropriate.