unexpected inspectorant: my day as a pollster.

I'm in between semesters and sort of drifting around without a substantive internship this summer, so when the opportunity to work as a pollster for this year's primary presented itself, I took it.

To be clear, I wasn't looking for any eye-opening epiphanies or resume builders. How could I? Poll workers aren't required to be especially skilled. The training for "Inspectors" provided by the Department of Elections is minimal: a three hour crash course in voting machine set up and job card distribution. I assume the training for the "Clerk" position is even less. Still, the required 16 hour day is impressive and requires dedication that not all people possess, and I decided the long hours seemed to be an okay trade-off for a chance to be on the inside of the democratic process. This brings me to the realization that would stay with me throughout the day as I stood in a freezing Sunset District Church at 6:00 in the morning:

People are assholes.

And I don't mean "assholes" that in the broad sort of dismissive sense that I may have used before this particular voting day. I mean that the human beings of the world (as evidenced by the sample size and consistency of those who came to my place to vote) are entitled, impatient, and unpleasant creatures. 

From my end, our precinct location operated smoothly. This was a pleasant surprise considering our team consisted of myself, three high-school aged teens, and a woman in overalls and crocs who never once stopped talking. I was grateful for their experience, however, when it be came clear that I was the only one who'd never worked the polls before. We all worked hard, and despite sleep deprivation and freezing wind typical of The Avenues, we remained pleasant. Yet every person who came in and didn't get what they expected was a complete jerk. To wit:

Us: "I'm sorry sir, you're not in our roster. What is your precinct number so we can find ya?"
Voter: "UM (ugh!) YOU TELL ME."
Us: "Well, here's a map, let's get you to he right place..."
Us: "I'm sure you are, sir, but--"
Voter: "No thanks, I'll just wander around until I find it. If I DO find it at least y'all will have done something right."

This sort of interaction was typical and occurred over and over again  relentlessly. It was so draining and demoralizing. Inside my head I screamed "FUCK OFF!" over and over again. There we were, taking time out of our own lives to be helpful and support the whole voting process, and voter after voter was shitting in our easter basket. On one of my breaks from the polls, I perused Twitter, urging my friends to vote during this tiny, yet ever-important election. I found the arrogant and disrespectful attitude there too, peppered among the conversations of a few the tweeters I follow who complained into the internet about how dumb pollsters are. One guy in the East Bay said he "taught them how to look up his name in an alphabetical index." So insulting. It can be frustrating to watch someone struggle with something that looks to be easy, but let's consider that we're here to HELP YOU and that we've received laughably insignificant training with which to do so. Why don't you sit down here for a full day and deal with navigating the phonetics of unfamiliar surnames while people roll their eyes at you or sigh audibly or (my favorite) take the roster from you and point exasperatedly at whoever the fuck they are? Some asshole would surely expose your incompetence to the world just as unabashedly. 

When I finally got us packed up at about 9:30 PM, I'd been thinking about this crap long enough to lose the spring in my step with which I'd begun this whole adventure. Who the hell do people think they are? I was mad - fuming - about the attitudes. 

Two days later, I'm plopped down at the headquarters of my favorite coffee roaster and discovering a greater takeaway: I can do something with this. I can use this flagrant assholism to be a better person myself. I can take a second to see where people are coming from before losing my own patience or rolling my own eyes at whatever I perceve to be incompetence on someone's part. So there's something. An opportunity to be positive where my natural human inclination is to be a gigantic asshole to anyone who slows me down. This experience asks that I calm down and take a second to be kind. This is, after all, what I wanted from the jerks that were so cranky on voting day, so it's the least I can offer others.

Of course, despite my perspective shift, I'm not moved enough to sign up for this shit again. Remember to vote! But you won't see me. And be nice to your pollsters, people. They're there for you.


a growing resemblance?

"Meow: The Fattest Cat in the World" (RIP)  vs.  "Owen: The Fattest Cat in My Apartment"



should maybe change name of blog to "pictures of owen." well into semester end - otherwise unfocused.


bear on geary.

oh, wow! here's my neighborhood represented through the eyes of artists at theGRQP.
(discovered via the Richmond Blog.)



the idiot downstairs.

this about sums up my relationship with own neighbor. he's a real d-bag who ranges from inconsiderate to blatantly stupid. the only way this comic could make me laugh harder is if "fluffy" were an electric guitar with which the neighbor were composing love ditties at 7:30 AM. yeah, it's that kind of party.

thanks, wondermark, you ever poignant bit of funny, you!


all i've done this spring break is take pictures of my cat and oversleep. this is how it's done, right?


the saddest pepper plant that ever lived.

(and then died).

it's true. my friend gave me a beautiful pepper plant boasting red, robust chilis and bright green healthy leaves. i've since repotted it and it's shriveled into a depressed few stalks. there are a few peppers hanging on for dear life, but the sheer weight of them threatens the stability of the entire plant now. oh, it's all just so sad. any advice on how to resurrect this little guy?

very special lemon meringue cookies.

i found this recipe on a blog run by an enthusiastic baker of delicious cute things.
meringue isn't difficult at all, and after attempting what looks like a complicated recipe tonight, i'm wondering why i don't just whip up some egg whites more often. this was easy and the results made me feel like a pastry badass. the delicate flavor of these sweet little nothings is sort of divine. it's like a lemon pillow floated down from a warm spring cloud and alighted on my tongue. and the lemon curd, well... i mean, butter and sugar and lemon juice. come on.

joy's cookie recipe called for a pastry bag and parchment paper. i substituted the bag for a ziplock baggie with the corner cut out and the parchment with a non-stick pan that required a little more scraping than these delicate little cookies deserved. que sera, etc.

still not too shabby for impromptu baking.

**and i wish my good friend, the amazing and talented katie newburn, were here to take a better picture of these little guys than i did. look at her food photography at http://www.katienewburn.com/ or her blog at cloudsandcoffee.


attention, earthlings...

there's a satellite burning its way through the stratosphere right this minute. that's cool, as long as it's not headed for anywhere/one/thing i like.

"Lazily falling from space, the 12,500-pound satellite UARS on Friday headed toward an early-morning reentry somewhere over North America, Africa, or, most likely, the open ocean." - Washington Post



tea spoon.
i resigned from my job today.

it was strange to finally release all that swelling pressure with a simple and forthright email. i worried i was being a coward by neglecting to do it in person. but then, i work remotely, so it makes sense that i'd resign remotely.

i suppose there were a number of things leading up to the decision, but ultimately, i need to be my best at school. i need to move on. and so i did, from a distance, with this sort of pounding in my head followed by an anti-climactic silence after hitting send.

now, my thoughts are of freedom. i'm not a risk-taker, and i have doubts, but i'm looking forward to doing what i love. i'm excited about putting all of my energy into the things that matter, and i'm onto something big and wonderful. i can feel it.


good sunday.

the loo at the st. regis.


my friend and i explored pockets of the city previously undiscovered. found beauty and booze with the whole universe spread out before us. nice.


santacon 2010.

if you've ever tried to imagine a flash mob of people dressed like santa and drinking heavily, look no further. this year's santacon, or santarchy to veterans of the mob, was my first. it was freezing cold, and i had no santa suit. i did have a couple of well-decked-out friends to guide me, though. ultimately, fun times. i mean, what's not to love about a massive hoarde of drunk grown ups running around the city dressed like old saint nick?


this is right before kyle ran out into traffic.

you put the lime in th' coconut...

santas at blackbird.

more info on santacon can be found at:



gay in saudi arabia.

The Kingdom in the Closet

"Sodomy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, but gay life flourishes there. Why it is “easier to be gay than straight” in a society where everyone, homosexual and otherwise, lives in the closet."

By Nadya Labi

The Kingdom in the Closet - Magazine - The Atlantic