Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fuck SEPTA 2

Thank you to City Paper editor Duane Swierczynski for exposing the albatross around my neck which is SEPTA.

In this week's issue, Duane wrote about taking SEPTA instead of a cab to get to the airport ... which should be $10 instead of $50, but he ended up paying in other ways. Just one question Duane, did you ever make your flight?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My blog is officially a year old

Yay! On June 18th, "Tales of a lost space cadet" turned 1.

A year ago, I created this blog not because I had something important to say, but because I was so damn bored. The kids went home for the summer, I had a 3-story house all to myself, no job, no boyfriend, did I say no job?.... Therefore, no money. Time off is no fun without money.

As I reflect a year later, I've come to one conclusion..... blogging is awesome! It's probably one of the few forums where introverts can be the extroverts. Sure it can be scary (as of 12:30 a.m. June, 22nd this blog has gotten 3,400 hits and I have NO CLUE who most of those people are) but I have to admit it gives me a bit of a "nerd rush."

Through blogging I learned,

1) How easy it is to lie to co-workers on Monday morning when they ask you "what did you do this weekend?" and you tell them how you partied so hard when you really spent Friday night making smoothies and teaching yourself HTML so you can make your blog look cooler.

2) That grown men who don't know each other can and will fight over who has the smallest penis on your "Comments" section.

3) People prefer reading about real life on blogs, fiction only feels right when you are holding a book (not when you are reading it off a computer screen)

4) That my guy friends totally crush on my mom (BTW, I don't care if you do, just don't tell me)

5) That all people are insightful, superficial, arrogant, vulnerable, self-promoting, anonymous, pushers, haters all depending on the day. And there is a beauty in the honesty of that. Human beings are too complicated to be labeled (like newspaper columnists). Maybe blogs are popping up everywhere like pimples on a teenager because people can't relate anymore to the traditional news media, where violence prevails and the only place where you can find any emotion is the sports section.

6) Total strangers will ask you out for gelato if they like your blog (FYI I said no. Even though I was 50% intrigued, the other 50% that was creeped out had greater power)

That's all for now, I'm working on my birthday hangover.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What is America really like?

Have you ever wondered that? So did my friend Sean…. and this summer he is going to find out – and so will you, if you follow his blogs: (official) (unofficial)

Inspired by Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, Mike Vitez, who was sent on the road with several thousand dollars, a photographer and an SUV, Sean decided to do a similar thing for his paper, but taking a less expensive route. Can you imagine traveling in America for a month with only a hundred bucks, a camera and a bus ticket? Sean left this week to do just that and you can read all about it on his blogs.

I recommend reading his posts from “bottom up”, oldest to most recent, for better understanding. Here is a portion of his project proposal:

From: Sean McCann
Re: Summer project proposal

A couple of summers ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer sent "People" columnist (and Haddonfield resident) Mike Vitez out into America with several thousand dollars, a photographer and an SUV. When I heard about it, my first thought was, "Lucky Mike." My second thought: Wouldn’t it be more fun to send somebody out with a hundred bucks, a camera and a bus ticket instead?

Of course, I imagined myself in that role, and the type of stories that might emerge on the way across this vast country. But though I was intensely fascinated with the idea, I never proposed it because I couldn’t think of an angle that would directly speak to South Jersey readers.

Then came the 2004 presidential election.

This past Nov. 2, Camden County went for John Kerry 62 percent to 37 for George W. Bush. Only two municipalities in the county came in Republican, one of them being Tony Tavistock, which backed Bush an overwhelming eight voters to one. Waterford was the only town to mimic the national percentages, going Republican 51-to-48.

The numbers in Camden County weren’t much different than the rest of South Jersey, and the rest of the East Coast, for that matter, and yet the nationwide numbers reflected a very different America. After the election, I came back to a conclusion that I’d first made when I was a college student, a coastal kid plopped down at the University of Missouri: most people don’t realize what this country is really like.

The red state-blue state disconnect is both well documented and oft analyzed, but I think there’s an opportunity here to go someplace deeper. My idea is to wander across the country via Greyhound bus for the period of a month. I’d talk to fellow travelers and stop in towns small and large to find stories and photos that would resonate with any reader. I'd send them back every day or two, to be run under a brand name like "Meet your Nation" or "From the West."

I wish you luck Sean, and wait for you to come back safe. I’m gonna leave with two Kerouac quotes that I think you’ll relate to.

1. So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? The evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.
—Jack Kerouac (On the Road)

2. I'm not a beatnik, I'm a Catholic.
—Jack Kerouac

Monday, June 13, 2005

Re: Fuck SEPTA

Thought some of you might be interested in what the world's worst urban public transportation organization had to say for themselves in response to my letter .... looks like complaining pays off :)

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience that this caused you. We will forward your comments to Management in the Bus Transportation Division. As for your refund request, we regret that we cannot accommodate your request as we do not compensate for transit delays. However; if you let us know your mailing address, we will send you two complimentary tokens for use on a future trip.

SEPTA Customer Service

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Always do the right thing

Last night the cab driver who took me home (and also lives in my neighborhood) informed me that the deli owner who was shot a few months back died. Last time I was there, it was closed. Get-well cards drawn by school children were hanging in the window and a big teddy bear laid by the gated door. The cards made us all feel hopeful. They said things like "I hope you get better fast mister, and I hope the bad guys that took your money and hurt you get caught." All I can think of now is how I used that deli for shelter on rainy days when waiting for the bus in high school. I would buy a 25 cent cholocolate-covered pretzel stick so I wouldn't get accused of loitering. He was such a nice man, and after 14 years of living in this neighborhood, I still don't know his name. I just remember he was nice.

I finally Netflixed Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" and a part of me felt like I was watching my own neighborhood's story. Why didn't anyone warn me it was gonna be so sad? I cried buckets when Sal's Pizzeria got destroyed. If it was a Pizza Hut no one would have cared.... but when you destroy a small family business, you destroy a family. The way Spike Lee portrayed the tension between the Blacks, Italians, Asian shop-owners and cops was so realistic. Throw in some Jews and a Bangladeshi family and there is my neighborhood. Oh, the other reason the movie hit so close to home is because it took place in the hottest week of the year, just like it is in Philly now. Some scenes left me confused though....

1) Why did Mookie throw the garbage can through Sal's window, causing a riot, if just a few minutes ago Sal told Mookie how he saw him as a son and he would always have a place for him?

2) After destroying the Italian-owned business, in a fit of rage and emotion, why didn't the neighborhood residents destroy the Korean-owned business too? It seemed like Sal was more popular in the neighborhood than the Korean shop owners.

3) Spike Lee says that at the end of the movie he wanted the Blacks to take a stand. What are they taking a stand against? Other ethnicities having businesses in their neighborhood?

4) Who was the leader or moral authority in the movie? Maybe it was Da mayor because even if he was a drunk, he tried to do the right thing. Maybe it was the radio announcer, he commented on what was wrong with the neighborhood, but than again it is easy to be moral when you are removed in a row-home converted studio. Maybe it was Sal, who shouted nasty words here and there, but was a hard worker and led by example.

The hardest part of the movie for me was when the riot started at Sal's Famous Pizzeria, and Sal and his sons could do nothing but watch both their past and future burn to the ground.

This movie left me restless.... too many thoughts going through my head. I don't know what to do.

All I can think to do now is quit eating chocolate-covered pretzel sticks. They bring on too many sad memories.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Defense tactic

Today the biggest boy in my class (bully by expectation, not by choice) ran out of the bathroom and goes "the little boy in there tried to pee on me!"

When the little boy (up to my knee little... and if you know how tall I am, you will realize how funny this is) came out of the bathroom, I asked "J, did you pee on D?" J looked up at me with his face as his eyes wandered around and goes (in the teeniest, scatchiest voice) "I didn't PEE ON HIM!"

"D SAID that you peed on him" I remarked.

"He said he was gonna beat me up!" J replied.

"And so you PEED ON HIM?!" I asked.

J hung his head in shame and nodded yes. (a child's honesty can be so heartwarming, no matter what it's about)

I tried to maintain a stern teacher look as my insides were bursting with laughter.

Nick Hornby at Free Library

Whenever I read a book or hear someone's voice on the radio or phone, I can't help but create a picture in my head of what that person looks like. Usually, my guess is dead wrong….. but I will get to that part later.

When I read High Fidelity, I imagined the author, Nick Hornby to look like the person who played the protagonist in the movie-version of his book. It wasn’t his age or his baldness that surprised me as much as his accent….. who the fuck would have known?! Nick Hornby is British! I don’t remember him particularly using British expressions like, for example, Anthony Burgess…. I just assumed he was American. As American as Rob, the snobby, record store clerk.

Of all the writers I have seen speak at the Free Library, Hornby attracted the biggest crowd—oddly enough, they all kind of looked the same too. Maybe people are attracted to his amazing gift of dialogue…. wait, but a lot of writers are gifted in that…. Hmmmm, I think what makes so many YOUNG people attracted to Hornby’s style is his ability to skillfully use music and pop culture references in a way that is still meaningful.
Sure, sometimes its obtrusive, but he gets away with it because he is funny and honest….. we all know people like the characters in his books. He also was careful to point out that to him, it wasn’t “pop culture, its just culture.”

He read pieces from A Long Way Down (which sounds like it’s going to be the funniest book about group suicide ever), but the best part was the Q & A.

What I liked about him is that he was so much more laid-back than other authors I have met…. Not that he isn’t serious about his work (he really really is) but the fact that he didn’t care that Fever Pitch, a book about football (soccer to Americans), got translated in “Hollywood language” to an American movie about baseball. Refreshingly, instead of getting upset that his book didn’t get portrayed on the big screen exactly, he said, “it’s not about the sport, it’s about a fan’s relationship to the team.” He seemed very grateful to have his books turned into movies at all.

The one annoying part of the Q & A was that it revealed that the audience contained a lot of About a Boy fans, which in my opinion is Nick Hornby’s most unoriginal work. Wasn’t the childish-man-realizes-kids-attract-women storyline overdone on sitcoms long before? Anyways, most of the evening was awesome.

Here were some highlights:

1) No such thing as writer’s block: Someone asked him about how he combated writer’s block and he said that he didn’t understand the concept. He also mentioned the importance of “having a commute to work” and separating a space just for writing, where you can be by yourself. He said he bought an apartment a short distance from his home just for that purpose (also because he has kids and he wanted his son to think that his dad had a job.)

2) Hornby gives shout out to teachers: Someone asked him what he would have done if he wasn’t a writer, to which he answered “I would still write, but to make a living I guess I would have to go back to teaching” (which he actually dreaded and admitted he wasn’t good at.)

3) I got to ask him a question!: One of the best things in the world is getting to meet someone that you really admire and having the chance to look them in the eye, and having them look at you in the eye too. Sometimes I prolong those gazes and pretend that I am stealing their soul…. well, sharing it. I asked, “Who is the first person you show your rough drafts to and why?” He said his partner, because she doesn’t look for style or grammar mistakes, she just tells him if it’s any good and if it’s worthy of getting published.

4) A Long Way Down contains Radiohead references! I’m gonna read it for that reason alone. Because the audience respected his taste in music so much, someone asked him to recommend a band and he said some British band called the Magic Numbers were really good and have been getting a lot of buzz in England.

5) The last guy had the BEST question. He said, “The hardest thing about reading your books is getting attached to these characters and finishing the book and getting the feeling that you will never see them again. Have you ever thought about resurrecting any of your characters in later books?” Hornby answered that he thought of doing that with the couple from High Fidelity. (Smile)

At the end of the reading I contemplated whether I should stand in line and allow myself to be sandwiched between dozens of sweaty hipsters just for an autographed copy. I thought about the autographed books I had collecting dust at home. I let it pass. Just because a book is autographed, does it make it more valuable? I don’t know, I guess it depends on how you feel about the book and how you feel about the author. But if a book sucks, having it autographed doesn’t make it any more valuable.

Going back to the beginning of this post…. Here is how I pictured some people in my head.

Marty Moss-Coane (from NPR)— imagined her to be a blonde
Star (from Power 99)—thought he was white
Fionna Apple—thought she would be black
Pierre Robert (from WMMR)—older with shorter hair maybe?

I could probably think of many more…. Just not at the moment. Feel free to share YOUR experiences.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Dear Septa official,

I am writing to voice a complaint about the unacceptable lack of service on the Route 65 today.

Today the 6:25, the 6:45 and the 7:05 p.m. Route 65 buses never came to 69th Street Terminal. There were 50 irate patrons waiting in 90 degree weather. I finally called the 215-580-7800 number on my cell phone and after finally reaching a human being, I was put on hold for 4 PEAK-TIME minutes. The woman on the phone told me that there was an accident on City Line Avenue and that is what caused the lateness.

The accident part I understand. Accidents DO happen. What I don't understand is that in ONE HOUR not one announcement was made to alert the patrons (including elderly people and infants who thank God did not die of heat stroke) of the situation. In over one whole hour, not one SEPTA official came and told everyone what was going on.

If SEPTA was an organized and courteous organization, than announcements would have been made (so patrons could have made other travel arrangements), shuttle buses would have been provided, and every patron would receive a voucher for a free ride. You need to do SOMETHING right to keep the customers you have.

SEPTA customers pay good money, in fact much more than in other U.S. cities and cities abroad, where the service is far superior. It makes us as customers wonder - what are we paying for?

I am writing to you because I want my money back. I want $6.20 specifically; $5 for the cab fare I had to pay to get home, and $1.20 for my cell phone (8 minutes X .15 cents per minute.) I can provide receipts. Since I can't provide a specific dollar amount for "being inconvenienced," I won't include it.

Please keep this in mind: Just because you have a monopoly in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it doesn't mean that you get to do things half-assed. You have a duty, you have a responsibility. People's jobs, and sometimes lives depend on it.

Space Cadet

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Experiment 1: Are ravers really doing tai chi?

Its science fair time y'all.....

As a way to make up to my parents for not taking up a career in the sciences like a good Asian, I decided to start doing science experiments in my spare time to explore the mysteries of our universe.

Space Cadet would like to apologize for any errors in the experiment. Since I didn't receive any grant money, I was limited to unusual ways to collect data.

QUESTION: Are ravers really doing tai chi?

HYPOTHESIS: I hypothesize that rave dancing is actually just sped-up "meditation in motion", or tai chi

1) Philip Glass cd
2) Sasha and Digweed cd
3) Prescription cough syrup
4) Ecstacy
5) Video camera
6) 2 tai chi practitioners
7) 2 ravers

1) After making the tai chi practitioners sign the legally binding documents, ask them to consume the ecstacy and after 20 minutes ask them to go on with their tai chi routine while you play the Sasha and Digweed cd in the background. Make sure this is being video taped.

2) Ask the ravers to sign the same documents, but afterwards feed them prescription cough syrup and ask them to do their rave dancing. Gradually turn up the Philip Glass cd, and don't forget to record the results.

RESULTS: After testing my hypothesis working with different variables, I found that when you put tai chi practitioners on ecstacy and ravers on presription cough syrup, you get the same result. When reviewing the recorded data, I muted the music and noticed that a 16-year-old from Detroit can generate as much chi in a room as an 80-year-old Asian dude.