Commuting: SF State from Outside San Francisco

She is sitting cross-legged on the wooden floor, leaning towards her long mirror as she carefully applies a thick coat of eyeliner. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” is playing in her cave-like room. She grabs her black jacket, purse, and heads off for a night out with friends. She pulls her scooter from the garage to the driveway and when she turns it on, she realizes the meter is not working. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kaela PerLee says to herself. Annoyed, she makes her last attempt knowing in the back of her head that it is not going to work. In San Francisco, this would not come as a hastle as PerLee can easily catch public transportation almost anywhere within a short walking distance. Living in Daly City however, is another story. “Walking from my house to Daly City BART takes 20 minutes, and though the actual BART ride is not long, I have to make sure I head to a BART station before midnight to catch the last train out of San Francisco.” PerLee knows it is more of a drag going out at night, so she constantly reminds herself when to say goodbye and start making the long trip home.

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PerLee moved from Santa Rosa to attend  SF State University almost two years ago, and though it has been a new experience living away from home, she sometimes feels shortchanged not being able to live in actual San Francisco. With rent so high, many SF State students struggle to find an affordable place to live in the city. Whether it is Daly City or the East Bay, having to commute longer distances can get in the way of enjoying the active, lively environment of San Francisco. Some college students transfer or apply to SF State to experience the diverse lifestyle the city offers, along with its campus. Others, for certain reasons, reside outside the city. So are students really missing out on the experience of living in the city? Or is cheaper rent worth the longer walks, commutes and extra efforts?

[pullquote author=”Heather Boyer, SF State student living in Fremont”]”I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live”[/pullquote]

Matthew Becerra remembers those tedious mornings when he lived in Daly City. He recalls having to walk up 87th Street, then down the long stretch of Junipero Serra where he walked over the same bridge, passed the same gas station, then the abandoned buildings and animal hospital that never seemed to be open. As the Century Theater sign got bigger, Becerra felt the long walk coming to an end as he reached BART, and left the dreadful fog of Daly City behind. “Because I lived on the border of Daly City and San Francisco, there was no MUNI nearby for me and so I had to walk to the BART station everyday to take the free shuttle,” says the 22-year-old SF State student. Now that he lives in Park Merced, it takes him a swift two minutes rather than two hours to get to class. “The convenience makes my life a lot easier in so many ways as I can plan my schedule and daily routine without worrying about how to get back to Daly City, seeing as how their public transportation seem to stop running around 8p.m.”

On the other hand, art education major, Heather Boyer, can handle the extra hours of commuting to SF State from Fremont all in effort of staying closer to family and friends. Like Bacerra, Boyer’s mornings start about three hours before class. She takes an hour to get ready, grabs a quick breakfast, then walks to Fremont BART, which takes around 15 to 20 minutes. It takes a little over an hour until Boyer makes it to Daly City BART where she catches the shuttle; her final commute to State. When Boyer plans to hang out in the city, she finds ways to save money and time by staying at a friends house and driving instead of relying on public transportation. Living outside of San Francisco doesn’t stop Boyer from enjoying the city living perks, but she does however, prefer Fremont’s weather and economic living. “I hate the prices of everything, like rent, parking, parking tickets and taxes. I dislike traffic and the busyness of life [in San Francisco] sometimes, but it depends on where you live,” says Boyer.

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While people choose to make a home outside the city in hopes of saving some money, the cost of public transportation can still add up. Taking BART one way from any city outside of San Francisco to Powell Street is no less than $2.95, compared to the $1.75 spent commuting within San Francisco. MUNI has bus lines crossing any area within the city and offers a transfer that is valid for two hours for $2. As for San Mateo’s public transportation, the SamTrans runs only every half hour between certain times, depending on the day, and charges $2 without a transfer.
Michelle Dayrit a Fremont resident and newly transfer student spends $50 commuting from Fremont to San Francisco then to Berkeley (where she works) twice a week. But like Boyer, despite the traveling woes, Dayrit still prefers the quiet living environment Fremont offers.

Attending a school like SF State usually means that a  good percentage of  those commuter students do not depend on their parents, and have economic statuses where they have to work in order to pay for their own education. “I don’t qualify for financial aid and both my parents passed away, leaving me with no help from family. Therefore, I have to work full time and take out loans in order to attend SF State,” says Dayrit, 26, a communications major. “But I’m okay with it. They never said it would be easy, but they did say it would be worth it.” Having an ill father, Boyer also felt it was important to stay home to be there for her father, and help out with household expenses. When her father passed away, Boyer’s priority was to stay close to her family. Born and raised in the East Bay, Boyer does not feel the need to move to San Francisco as most of her friends and family live in Fremont while she can still commute to the city for school or to hang out.   

In Becerra’s case, moving to San Francisco gave him a better opportunity to find a job, which compensates him having to spend more money. One of the greatest temptations of living in San Francisco, Becerra describes, is its vast variety of delicious local restaurants and bars conveniently located everywhere in the city. Which makes it easier for students like him to spend more money on dining out rather than taking the time to actually cook something. And even if cooking is an option, grocery shopping in the city is not cheap.

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Commuting from the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is mechanical engineering major, Jason Mehrens. Everyday, he spends about an hour in his car battling traffic, from Mill Valley in Marin County to SF State. For Mehrens, the disadvantage of living away from San Francisco is having to commute all the time. Whether it’s a school function or personal leisure in the city, driving is the easiest option. Mehrens lives with his parents to save money and has a tuition waiver through the Veterans Affairs office. Even with some financial assistance from the government, he still has to take out loans and work some hours in order to cover college costs, which leaves him with very little free time to spare. Having spent one year at Chico State then three years living in Santa Barbara working on his Associates Degree, Mehrens feels like he has already experienced college living. “I can’t make up my mind if I want to live in the city because I work in Marin,” says Mehrens. “If I worked in the city, then I would probably make the move, but I don’t like the feel of living in close proximity to thousands and thousands of people stacked on top of one another.” It is a hard trade given the miles of parks and rich forests Marin houses, or the serene atmosphere the county has to offer, as hours can go by without having to hear the loud noises of traffic and busy city people. For Bacerra, moving closer to campus has encouraged him to become active in campus life. He is trying to join the History Students Association and now finds himself having more time to attend sporting events since his commute time is cut significantly. But for others, like Dayrit and Mehrens, getting away from the city’s rowdiness is worth the extra miles and longer BART rides.  

Life Online

She makes her way home on the 9X, a Muni bus line of questionable sanitation, and trudges upstairs. First thing she does is open her MacBook Pro, simultaneously checks her three e-mail accounts and of course, Facebook, for any new messages or notifications. She thinks of a boy she used to date and immediately jumps to his Facebook page. She searches through his recent status updates for any incriminating evidence to reassure herself of the decision to stop seeing him. She looks through some of his posted pictures and ends up browsing through some of his friends. The weekend arrives and she is out and about at a bar. She ends up running into the boy and he introduces her to some of his friends. One happens to be someone she had found on Facebook. Josie Cabrera, 21, has found herself in an uncomfortable situation.

“It’s extremely awkward when something like this happens,” Cabrera says. “You’re standing there and get so anxious when they are talking to you. You have to try to make sure not to act like you know anything about them from Facebook otherwise they might think you’re kind of creepy.”

Not only is Facebook a popular method of keeping in touch, networking or virtually meeting someone, but there is also MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, Bebo, Meetup and more. This past February, The Nielsen Company reported that social media use increased to 82 percent worldwide. According to a study from Anderson Analytics, about two-thirds of social networking users will only connect with people they actually know or have met in person. However, this doesn’t mean that their privacy is secure.

Some people, such as Mozelle Thompson, former Federal Trade Commissioner and now CEO of a firm that advises Facebook on such matters as privacy, believes that privacy is not a binary matter. In a 2009 interview with Melbourne periodical The Age, he said people need to reveal “a certain amount of personal information so others can find them…and so they can know that they can trust them.”

If a person has an overwhelming amount of “friends” or people they are connected to on one of these sites, it may or may not make someone question their validity. People may wonder: do they really know that many people? Or, why are they willing to be “friends” with just anyone? At the same time, it affects whether or not someone will think you’re worth knowing.

The year is 2008 and Cabrera is living in Irvine. She scopes Craigslist looking for rooms for rent in San Francisco. When she finds one that seems like a good fit she Googles his or her name and searches for their Facebook account hoping it isn’t on a private setting. Sometimes she lucks out and finds a public account. She looks through pictures and status updates to try to get a sense of personality.

“I used Facebook a lot to ‘check out’ potential roommates before I moved up here,” Cabrera says. “For example, if I see a girl with a lot of pictures of her at clubs and bars with a lot of people, I’m probably going to think she parties a lot. Or if I see someone that has frequent status updates then I’m going to assume that person likes to talk.”

Now it is 2009, Cabrera finds employment after graduation in her field of study. Shortly after being hired, she changes her privacy settings to make her profile even more inaccessible. She does not join her company network and does not even list it on her page. The only information the public can view is her current city of residence and her AIM screen name. She deletes her LinkedIn account; it was required by her college to have one during enrollment. Cabrera estimates that she only keeps in contact with under a quarter of the amount of friends she has on Facebook, which is currently at 340.

“I’m only friends with one person from work,” Cabrera says. “I’m a very private person already and I just didn’t want my personal life to be associated with my professional life.”

Since 2008, there have been articles published regarding the use of social media sites as part of the hiring process. CareerBuilder.com reported that one in five employers use this to screen candidates.

“Millions of people are leaving personal information, online, much of which is cached and remains available via search engines even after the author has removed the web page,” said Peter Cunningham, UK country manager for Viadeo, a professional social networking site similar to LinkedIn.

Social Media Sites in the Workplace

She stole from the people she babysat for, she stole a stranger’s purse at a bar and most recently she stole from work. These are status updates on the Facebook page of one of the internship applicants Eve Batey has reviewed. Batey, 38, is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal, an online newspaper. She recalls several other stories similar to this.

“In the era of Facebook, there’s no alter ego, no double identity, not unless you really work at that,” Batey says. “You can no longer expect that different aspects of your life won’t overlap, if you put it online. Remember, when you Google someone, their Facebook profile is usually on page one.”

Batey uses Facebook and Twitter sparingly compared to some people. Batey wakes up, goes to work and checks her Twitter account once. She only logs into Facebook if she has time to answer a message sent. When she gets a friend request, it is usually from an old high school friend. She enjoys looking at pictures in an attempt to feel like she’s aged better, but other than that she doesn’t use Facebook that often. After a long day at work, she will check her Twitter account once more before going to bed. On weekends, she checks Twitter more often to make sure she knows what’s going on online and she will occasionally “tweet” when the urge strikes her. Batey sees a personal status update with too much information from one of her virtual friends and is baffled.

[pullquote author=”Eve Batey, SF Appeal”]“You can no longer expect that different aspects of your life won’t overlap, if you put it online. Remember, when you Google someone, their Facebook profile is usually on page one.”[/pullquote]

“I started personal blogging in 1997 and I was always kind of stunned by people who put ‘it all’ out there, like, how will you get a job?” Batey says.

Young Lee, 29, and Ryan Kirkman, 30, know a thing or two about Facebook. They are part of RockYou!’s business development team. RockYou! is a Bay Area-based company that provides, publishes and develops social media network services and applications for sites like Facebook and MySpace. It is safe to say that the duo have an opinion on Facebook’s potential in regards to user-privacy.

“I’ve definitely checked out an applicant’s facebook profile before or after interviewing them,” says Kirkman, Creative Director of Brand. “Or even checked out a cute girl I met. Most of the time privacy settings really prevent me from seeing much, but sometimes its interesting to see what they have decided to make publicly available.”

Lee believes any related to deeply personal information or business information should be omitted from Facebook. If you are using Facebook or Twitter for a business purpose then it should be treated as a public forum, according to Lee.

As does engineering associate, Zheng Xu, a fellow RockYou! employee. “Facebook is still public no matter how private you set it,” Xu, 31, says referring to Facebook’s illusive privacy policy.

The Facebook privacy policy states, “We keep track of some of the actions you take on Facebook, such as adding connections (including joining a group or adding a friend), creating a photo album, sending a gift, poking another user, indicating you “like” a post, attending an event, or connecting with an application. In some cases you are also taking an action when you provide information or content to us. For example, if you share a video, in addition to storing the actual content you uploaded, we might log the fact that you shared it.” Almost everything you do becomes property of Facebook once it’s posted regardless of whether your settings are on default or have been changed to private.

This is where Xu has a moral and ethical dilemma with the policy settings. Xu is the type of guy to keep his private life and business life separate. He only caved into getting a Facebook because of work initially. However, if it was not required for work and enough friends sent him invites he would have created an account anyway.

“I think Facebook is too loose on the the default settings,” Xu says. “The Facebook Privacy Policy should have the default be private and then the user can change the settings.”

Lee has similar sentiments about the situation. He too does not favor the current set-up for the default settings. He says they are too in-depth and not incredibly user-friendly. Anything that takes more than a few button clicks will lose the interest of many users, even if involves private information. Lee likens it to theft.

“Most people won’t start taking security measures until they’ve been burglarized, or heard of someone else being burglarized,” he says. “The consumer needs to take advantage of the various implications on the social networks. In the end, it really is up to Facebook to take the moral stance on controlling the psychology of users to how much personal information gets defaulted out to the public domain.”

On April 23, the The Conference Board, a non-profit business organization with global membership, held an event on Business Ethics & Compliance. Stephen Noughton, of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which is trying to gain attention of social media users, asked, “Does a potential candidate’s presence on social media [networks] deserve a place in the traditional background check?” This was not resolved at the conference according to Vault.com, a comprehensive Internet resource for companies and job-seekers alike.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Charles Becker, 22, a recent graduate knows what to be leery of when it comes to the job market and Facebook. He has quite a few web sites linked up with his profile page, but they all go to sites that relate to his field of work. He only has a few pictures accessible to the public and his contact e-mail along with some favorite quotes and books. None of which are the least bit distasteful to the average Facebook member.

“It’s regular practice for employers to check Facebook profiles before offering interviews or even a job,” Becker says. “As with anything else, your profile reflects you, your beliefs and your ambitions. It’s foolish to allow uncensored or incriminating entries to tarnish your page, which is your branding in our tech-driven world. I think some people are a little slower to understand the importance of image. They may feel that with enough experience, it shouldn’t matter what you do in your spare time–and it doesn’t. But, the world doesn’t need to know, especially if it involves smoking an illegal substance when you called in sick.”

Branding Yourself on Social Media Sites

Branding yourself, so to speak, has become quite necessary to some. There is even a web site called AllFacebook.com that has an article titled “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know” by Nick O’Neill that is a must-read if you want to keep or get a job according to Brand-Yourself blogger, Pete Kistler.

Batey, who may not be an avid Facebook and Twitter user, suspects she interacts with Google Reader, a feed aggregator, in the way that  lot of people use Facebook. She shares a lot, follows a lot of people and enjoys the engaging conversations that arise from some of the comments made. However, in order to enjoy participating in these conversations more candidly, she keeps her Reader private.

“I’m already on Reader tracking the news and what everyone else is writing about all day, so it’s both useful and nice to have that social networking element to it. But even then, I am aware of my brand and who I am. I’m not going to share an item from a small personal blog and posting ‘What a [insert insult here]!’ even if I was thinking that as I read it. You never know how that might get passed on.”

Batey is pro-honesty and openness online, but believes that everyone, not just media folks, need to think of themselves as brands.

“One of my closet friends is a sex writer,” Batey says. “She tweets or uploads things to Flickr that would keep her application to the convent denied, but getting to the nunnery is not part of her brand.”

In January, Katie Stansberry, an instructor in social media at the University of Oregon posted an article on the ISTE Connects web site about a new approach she took to convey to students the importance of protecting their online reputation.

“When I announced that instead of a typical get-to-know-you activity, I was going to show them what a future employer might find if they were checking them out as part of a hiring decision there were some nervous murmurs,” Stansberry wrote. “However, as we went through the slides and discussed each student’s personal brand there were lots of good-natured laughs and some rueful grins. Several students learned that photos and comments they had thought were private were actually accessible to the public.”

In the comments below her post, one of Stansberry’s students during this exercise wrote, “Katie did introduce an interesting point to me though. Why is my online presence so private? Because I am going into a field that works very closely with social media, I need to be able to show that I am involved with it.”

But again, concern should not be limited to undergraduates or young adults interested or involved in the media rather all should be aware.

“I love Vegas!” reads the status of a young woman.

Meinani Villareal, 25, made a recent trip to Sin City with a couple of friends. One of the friends posted about the trip and her aunt, who is highly religious, ended up seeing it and commented on it. The incident caused a lot tension in the family and her aunt was not amused to say the least.

Villareal is what some may call a Facebook junkie and she is only going on three years of having the account now. She says she uses Facebook “all day, every day” and even has notifications sent to her cell phone when she gets new messages or if someone comments on her profile. She enjoys updating her status frequently and posting pictures of trips like the one that caused some family drama for her friend. But, Villareal has been a bit more cautious with what she posts online since the trip.

“Although I post random pictures that not everyone should see, I do care how people will depict me,” Villareal says. “I don’t want them to create wild interpretations of what kind of person I am.  Even if it is a crazy picture, or inappropriate picture, I am not necessarily a crazy person or an inappropriate person with bad morals.”

Therefore Villareal appreciates the Facebook privacy settings that can somewhat censor what some of the younger people in her network can see.   “I do limit access to certain people like to anyone that probably wouldn’t be caught in a crazy picture or situation with me,” she says.

According to the list complied by Nick O’Neill for the AllFacebook.com article on privacy settings to know “Using Your Friends List” is the first mentioned. Nava Noori, 23, a recent SF State graduate, utilizes this feature because she says her family and friends have different perceptions of her. In order to keep their view of her the same, she feels the needs to limit what each group can see on her profile page.

Though she likes the privacy settings, she doesn’t like how alterations to the privacy policy are not announced in a more obvious way. “There is never any big announcement before Facebook changes the criteria. At least, not in a way that the average user would really notice for a while.”

Cesar Tapia, 23, an undergraduate at SF State thinks that users needs to have a clear understanding not to put any information that may come back to haunt you in five to 10 years. Private information or information that is not beneficiary to the user should not be posted or at least be aware that it is impossible to fully guard anything you post on a social media site in Tapia’s opinion.

“The fact that I haven’t run into any negative problems with these kind of sites are a result of me being careful with what I post,” Tapia says. “I’m always thinking about my parents reaction if they were to see it. I think that social media sites are not to be messed with and people should be careful with them.”

The Need for Facebook and Update Overload

If you have to watch out for what you post so much, some people may wonder why even have an account? What’s the need for Facebook? What makes so many people, 400 million active users according to the Facebook Press Room, intent on spending over 500 billion minutes per month on the site.

Fernando Novoa, 22, another SF State graduate believes that it is curiosity. “Although we hate the news feeds, the reality is that we are all interested in what other people are doing, and to some extent, we want people to be curious about what we do,” Novoa says. “We want to seem interesting to others.”

He says that whatever you post is a reflection of you in the same way your clothes, friends, habits and the activites you join are. “However, couple it with the concept that we live in an age of social media networks and you can start to see the depth to what a minor drunk night might do for your reputation,” he says.

Teenagers and young adults are not the only social media users. In fact, the largest age group of Facebook users is actually 35 and older. Less problems may arise with these users than younger users due to a variety of reasons.

[pullquote author=”Lee Young, former RockYou! employee”]“In the end, it really is up to Facebook to take the moral stance on controlling the psychology of users to how much personal information gets defaulted out to the public domain.”[/pullquote]

Xu says he rarely updates his Facebook page and most of his friends follow suit. “A lot of my friends are older and usually on post updates if they have a child, go on a trip or have pictures of a special event,” he says.

So, what about the younger crowd? A lot of younger people aged 17 and younger are still using sites like MySpace according a study conducted by Royal Pingdom, a blog dedicated web development. Pingdom monitors the performance of such sites.

In June 2009, The Neilsen Company published a report called “How Teens Use Media” and found that “social networks are a key source of information and advice in a critical developmental period: 57 [percent] of teen social networkers said they looked to their online social network for advice, making them [a third] more likely to do this than the typical social networker.”

Bryan Reyna, 16, a Bay Area high school junior, says he uses Facebook to talk to people in the same way he uses his text messaging. But, he also says he does not post anything personal or things that would upset his family. He believes a lot of his peers are either ignorant about the consequences of certain things getting leaked or that they just do not care.

A former classmate that attended a Catholic school in the South Bay posted comments related to smoking marijuana and his parents as well as school administration found out. He was expelled from the school. Reyna says it does not affect the student because he still post similar things on his Facebook page.

Another incident happened with a different student where an inappropriate YouTube video was posted with the student wearing the school jacket. The student was suspended. This is a strikingly similar to what can happen in the workforce. An employer can fire someone based off inappropriate postings on the Internet as long as it is not used to discriminate against the employee.

The amount of use for some teens seems a bit excessive. In December 2009, AOL News reported that “a poll conducted by Common Sense Media found that nearly a quarter of all teens who belong to Facebook check their page more than 10 times each day”.

Reyna who says that he checks his own Facebook account about three to four times daily speculates that people in his age group are attention seekers. “Guys and girls are needy,” Reyna says. “It’s rewarding if they post something revealing and a person compliments them or comments on it. It makes them want to keep doing it.”

Xu says people that update constantly crave attention. They need the world to hear their voice, which is a lot of people. But, he can understand why people post a lot and relates it to being in high school. “Everyone wanted to be special and unique…but your profile is not the confession room,” Xu says.

Cabrera has spent a little over an hour halfway browsing on Facebook and halfway folding laundry. She admits it can be distracting, especially if you’re trying to “get over” someone you dated. She is contemplating deactivating her account for a while like she had done before. Her longest deactivation period is three months. But, she admits that even when she deactivated hers, she would just log into her best friend’s account and see what people were posting.

“Anyway, I really have to clean up my room,” Cabrera says while clicking away at different people’s Facebook pages, her eyes in shock at the screen of what no doubt has an image or blurb about something someone posted.

Rebel Tongues Find Their Voice

If the glowing yellow walls could talk, they would echo every story uttered in broken tongues. The walls are silent today, but every first Friday of the month, the multitude of stories told over Hip Hop instrumentals along with the low hum of acoustic guitars breaks through those walls and out onto the streets, where poetry smells like the trailing aromas of hot tortillas and carne asada mixed with weed smoke.

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For decades, a vibrant literary arts and open mic scene has flourished in San Francisco. From the beat poets at City Lights bookstore howling at the moon to the Chicano poets on 24th and Mission streets reclaiming history forgotten, the spirit of the open mic has never been more alive, especially in unknown enclaves of San Francisco, like the Excelsior District.

The Excelsior District is located barely beyond the city limits of the Mission District— one of San Francisco’s more popular and well-known neighborhoods. Southeast of the more affluent West Portal neighborhood, and southwest of Bayview Hunter’s Point. Graffiti like hieroglyphics glare honestly at passerby, telling visceral stories of a neighborhood that is not usually recognized.

In Progress Open Mic, a social-justice centered open mic is created by community organizer and SF State alum Anthony Navarro. He attempts to change the perception of the neighborhood, rarely covered in the media unless the stories are about crime. Every first Friday of the month at Mama’s Art Café, between Leo Street and Russia Avenue, the unbounded creativity from Excelsior residents, particularly “at-risk” and immigrant youth, fill in the space where silence used to be.

He is sitting uncomfortably on the floor in the cramped children’s section of the bookstore. Against the backdrop of brightly colored and overpriced stuffed animals and disheveled books, he stands out in his modest brown ADIDAS zip up jacket and tan paperboy hat. “My parents were both immigrants so there was a generational disconnect,” Navarro says. “I grew up in a broken household and faced issues of domestic violence and criminal activity. My siblings and I learned how to survive in extreme abuse.”

Navarro’s own life reflects many of the youth he works with as the youth program coordinator for the Filipino Community Center (FCC) in the Excelsior District. The straight line on his lips turns into a slight smile as he reminisces about the Hip Hop community that shaped him.

“Hip Hop has always been around me and the culture has been present in my life for a long time,” Navarro says. He discusses his move from San Diego to San Francisco in 2005 and connecting with the Hip Hop community in the Bay Area and realized that many of the immigrant youth in San Francisco had little support and access to resources.

“Nobody was building with the youth,” he says. “I connected with the youth because I was determined to connect with them. I spent every day at the FCC getting to know them, even though I could not speak Tagalog. The language we would communicate in was Hip Hop.

Kristen Sajonas, 28,  sits with her legs crossed on the old couch that once resembled the color gray as her rebel tongue recites the the history of the literary arts scene in the Bay Area that she was surrounded by. Her brown tousled hair and crooked septum ring do not distract the years of poetry history she has memorized by heart. She is one of the main organizers for the Asian and Pacific Islander Poetry Summit that occurs every two years in different parts of the U.S.

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“I was always writing as a kid, but then I started to share my work and realized there were other people writing in high school,” Sajonas says. “Spoken word started becoming cool and I think it was greatly influenced by hip hop and the rejection of mainstream culture.”

According to Sajonas, the open mic and strong poetry community in the Bay Area has served as a transformative space for dialogue, healing, and reclaiming personal and collective histories.

“Poetry takes a lot of different forms, but the craft of writing is arguably the most important thing,” she adds. “The bottom line is that sharing is important. Just as long as [the writing] is communicated, that is powerful in itself.”

Every first Friday of the month, the small and colorful cafe becomes home to a diversity of young people’s stories whose topics range from ex-girlfriends to various every day survival  stories about rape and sexual abuse.

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“Every culture has some sort of storytelling nature. The point is to be able to harness our oral histories and apply them to the conditions in which we live,” Sajonas says. “To use and control your own voice is especially powerful for someone who has felt like they don’t matter.”

According to organizer for In Progress, literary arts and poetry,  Ed Jr. Arimboanga, 23, open mic is an important for “at-risk” and immigrant youth because it provides a space that is free from rigidity and scrutiny.

“At In Progess, anybody of any background can grace the mic with whatever is on their mind and more importantly, the audience is always more likely to applaud, cheer, and embrace that person’s performance, no matter what it was about,” Arimboanga says.

His gray and white streaked slick back hair is stiff as he lectures enthusiastically in his class at SF State. His arms flail in excitement and his youthfulness is evident in wide eyes and sly smirk. Oscar Penaranda, 66, has been active in the literary arts scene in San Francisco and the Bay Area since the student strike at SF State occurred in the late 1960s.

Penaranda is an SF State alum who now teaches in the Ethnic Studies department. He has been published in several poetry anthologies like Field of Mirrors and Seasons by the Bay, and his own book of poetry entitled, Full Deck (Jokers Playing).

“Poetry and oral storytelling keeps a person’s self worth intact and gives you a voice to free and liberate yourself,” Penaranda says.

According to Sharim Hannegan, 21, an SF State alum and frequent participant in open mics, for a long time, poetry and the open mic have been part of a larger literacy movement. She also discusses the political ways poetry has been used in Arizona to resist the anti-immigrant bill known as SB 1070.

“Being able to write down your history is monumental,” she says. “Some of our histories are so rarely documented except in the tongues of our families. The poetry scene provides a space for people to reclaim their voice when other institutions don’t give them a space. Open mic spaces allows you the space to reclaim your humanity.”

He remembers the first time he met the now 19-year-old former Galileo High School student who suffered from being bipolar a mental health problem. After working with him day in and day out at the FCC even on the harder days when the former high school student wanted to fight him, Navarro understood the importance of pushing youth to their potential and providing them with a safe space. He recalls those harder days much easier now as he closes his eyes and smiles thinking about the 19-year-old who has become a regular participant at the In Progress Open Mic. “He raps off beat sometimes,” Navarro laughs, knowing very well what it feels like suffer as a young person who is lost and silenced, with no outlet to speak.

“Because we are so powerless economically, institutionally, and politically, to use and and control our voices in a way that serves us is amazing,” Sajonas says. “Being able to speak is a very basic but powerful act for young people who are scared of their own voice or think that what they have to say doesn’t matter.”

Cradling Civilization: Sharing culture in the face of stereotypes

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Every Friday afternoon the basement of the students’ center at SF State becomes a place of expression and peace for the Muslim Student Association. Rhythmic and song-like, the group recites the five daily prayers from the Quran, the religious text of Islam. They form four rows of men, all on three feet wide and twenty feet long strips of bright red rugs. Women make up the last few colorful rows draped in pale yellow, red and blue. Barefoot, the group recites in a series of prostration, where one goes from standing then bends over halfway to kneel upon the rug. They then bow their heads to the floor to praise, glorify and humble oneself in front of Allah (God). Their motions are careful and in unison, like a dance. The act of standing and kneeling is to clean the body, and release breath, which if held in can lead to health problems. It also helps focusing.

This congregational prayer is called the Jummah and is led by Danial Shahbaz, the president of the MSA at SF State. Today he is wearing a dark wool pea coat cleanly buttoned up with a black scarf elegantly wrapped around his neck. He has piercing, dark eyes and neatly trimmed facial hair. His dark framed glasses suggest a seriousness which is also conveyed in his posture. His smile is warm, and as welcoming as his laugh. “Out of all the groups on campus we are the only ones that have our own room and this room to pray in on Fridays,” Shahbaz says. He feels at home at SF State since his Muslim community has been recognized and accommodated by the university.

Spending time with the MSA is a great way to become educated on the reality of the Muslim culture while undoing the stereotypes that the American media has brainwashed consumers into believing. For one, Muslims respect women and recognizes them as equals. Shahbaz explains that the women stand behind the men in prayer not as a way to show dominance or exclusion, but out of respect and modesty. Shahbaz says, “We are here to pray and speak to God. Men can be very distracted by the female figure so we stand in front of the women out of respect.”

Dr. Dina Ibrahim, an Associate Professor in the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts says the media paints Muslim women as submissive and domineered. “Because of the media, an American sees a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and thinks she is being forced to wear it out of shame when it is a choice.” Wearing a hijab, which looks like a scarf worn around the head, is a sign of maturity and respect towards religion and Allah. Alaa El- Saad from NPR.org says she wears a hijab to exercise her freedom to be Muslim and to be different. “To be honest, I also like to wear it to be different. I don’t usually like to do what everyone else is doing. I want to be an individual, not just part of the crowd,” El- Saad says.

The MSA is not all serious either, after prayer they hang out and play games, goof off. Shahbaz asks, “Yeah, we will play Trivial Pursuit later if you want to join us?” The MSA are open to newcomers and those interested in learning more about their community and the Muslim culture. Sam Hadwan, vice president of the MSA says, “Anyone can join us and feel welcome.”

On March 16, 17 and 18 the MSA hosted Islam awareness week. (MSA hosts one every semester) The events were held on campus in front of the Cesar Chavez building and on the grass area. It is an opportunity for SF State students to be educated on Islam and undo the damage the American media has done to public opinion of Muslims. Zishan Safdar, a member of MSA says, “We will be discussing the misconceptions about Islam and stereotypes about Islamic women.” Each day had a different topic of discussion. On Wednesday the 16th, the topic discussed was Islam awareness. On the 17th they talked the women in Islam, and on the Friday the 18th, they held a “Jummah in the sun” prayer session on the lawn in the quad. After the prayer, they held a free barbecue as a way to give back. “Charity is a big part of Muslim tradition, giving honoring god,” Shahbaz says.

Another campus group from the Middle Eastern community is the General Union of Palestinian Students. They have their own room located in the Cesar Chavez building, mezzanine level 100B. Aymen Abdel Halim is a graduate student at SF State and is a Palestinian. Halim says, “GUPS offers a fantastic opportunity for students to ask questions and learn more about Palestine, and also gives students the chance to take part in social justice causes regarding Palestine. The group is open to everyone and encourages people to come to their meetings.”

Palestinian students also have their own mural on the Cesar Chavez building, above the bookstore entrance. The mural, painted by Fayeq Oweis and Susan Greene, is a dedication to Edward Said, an Arab-American professor, writer and activist. According to Oweis, bordering the mural is a quote from Said’s famous book, Orientalism, in which he discusses the stereotypes associated with the word “Oriental”. The quote reads, “Humanism is the only, and I would go so far as saying, the final resistance we have against inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.” On the bottom of the Mural is the quote in traditional Arabic language and calligraphy. The mural was made to educate students on the Palestinian community on campus.

On Saturday March 12 the Arab Cultural and Community Center hosted an Arab Women Conference at the San Mateo Public Library. The conference highlighted Arab women in lecture, music, photos, poetry and artistic performance. Covering topics like Arab women’s health, political activism, artistic expression, relationships, gender roles and Arab women living in America. According to the ACCC, the conference illuminated, “diverse, powerful and non-conventional narratives of Arab women that have committed their life’s work to challenging injustice through various mediums and who have become inspirational to our community.”

The ACCC is a nonprofit organization that promotes Arab art and culture, addressing and enriching the Arab American Community. They provide social services and cross cultural events open to anyone.

Unlike the majority of America that stereotypes the Muslim and Arab community, SF State is a place of acceptance and expression. It is a campus that has been welcoming to many Muslims and those of Arab decent. Although they are a group long misunderstood outside campus walls, at SF State there are plenty of occasions to become educated on and interact with this vibrant growing community. The university has a strong and vivacious women professors who are of Middle Eastern descent that are available for students to learn from and reach out to. The Muslim and Arab community is represented on campus with murals, student groups and ethnic studies classes. But are students outside the community paying attention and are there any attempts being made to try and understand them?

Off campus is a different story, where negative and violent perceptions of the Middle East are projected by the American media that frame and skew reality for entertainment. Sadly, Fox News can not even properly identify Egypt on a map. In January the news outlet owned by media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, posted a map, used previously, depicting the Middle East showing Egypt where Iraq should be, between Syria and Iran.

The American media is shaping the way Americans negatively view the Middle East. “The majority of America sees Middle Eastern people as barbaric, uncivilized, inhuman, not-normal, terrorists who want to destroy America,” says Dr. Ibrahim. The American people continue to soak up these stereotypes and skewed perceptions to re- affirm their existing beliefs and stay within their comfort zones. “People soak up the stories on say, Fox news, to re-affirm the right wing ideology, they like debate and popular format,” says Dr. Ibrahim. The media makes no distinction between the different religions of the Middle East and the different ethnicity’s within the Muslim community. Dr. Ibrahim says, “The biggest misconception is that all Muslims are Middle Eastern, when they aren’t, for example, there are some Muslims who are from Vietnam or Jordan. And there are Middle Eastern people who are not Muslim. There are Arab Christians, Palestinian Christians, it is widely misunderstood.”

“Even with the mural and Palestinian groups on campus, I don’t necessarily feel understood as a Palestinian much of the time a SFSU, partly because I feel many of my fellow students aren’t familiar with Palestine,” says Halim. “For those that have heard of Palestine, it has generally been in some sort of negative context within the media.”

Halim recently worked on a chapter in a book for Dr. Ibrahim. “We asked Arab and Muslim youth about how they feel about portrayals of Arabs and Muslims on TV news,” says Halim. “Our study concluded that skewed media representations of Arabs and Muslims had an extremely negative effect on our participants. Such as being victims of hate crimes, vandalism and racism, to dropping out of school, and being discriminated against for their ethnicity and religion at the workplace or at school.”

During their work, Halim and Dr. Ibrahim heard from the family member of a girl from a San Francisco High School who dropped out due to constant harassment from her classmates. “A local high school girl from Yemen who wore a hijab to school was taunted and mocked at her school and couldn’t take it anymore so she moved back to Yemen,” says Dr. Ibrahim.

Despite the many adversities Arab and Muslim youth are experiencing, Dr. Ibrahim believes the Middles Eastern community in San Francisco and SF State are represented and understood. Dr. Ibrahim says, “SF State and San Francisco is a little different, here people are enlightened, and progressive.” Dr. Ibrahim has seen improvement in the campus media as well, “Recently in the campus newspaper, there has been some good coverage of the Middle Eastern community.”

The conflicting walls within the Middle East are changing and being broken down every day. The takeover of Egypt by the people and the struggle within Libya is sparking an evolution in the Middle East. Now is as great time to get educated about the Middle East and the people of Arab and Muslim descents. So start with SF State. Go to the GUPS’s and MSA’s events, get to know them, have a conversation and make friends. Take some classes in the Ethnic Studies Department. Or, explore classes within the segment three programs like Mediterranean, the Middle East, Multicultural Human Relations, and Islamic Societies and Cultures. Step out of the FOX news bubble and consume news from alternative sources, like NPR, Al Jazeera and other Internet sources.

By exploring outside the confines of safe and comfortable, the layers of ignorance and fear disappear. There is strength and peace felt around these groups that is remarkably rare, and can be experienced directly. Everyday people pass unknowingly under the Palestinian student’s mural above the bookstore entrance and walk above the basement of Cesar Chavez, where Muslims practice their Jammah prayer. By branching out, anyone can discover how this community is enlightening and educating at SF State.

Single in SF

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It is Saturday night, and just like the week before you’re sitting in a bar, hoping to meet someone new or at least have a decent conversation. But all you see are the same faces and hear the same conversations. And as the night comes to an end you’re closer to your cocktail than any person and if you do happen to meet someone you’ll be so clouded by alcohol you may even forget you met them. My friend complains that being a full time student who works, she’s limited to a certain dating pool. And she is sick of meeting people in bars because it never goes anywhere, she believes the situation is helpless. But she’s wrong.

The dating scene in San Francisco doesn’t have to be desperate, unless you make it that way. There are plenty of places to meet people in San Francisco that won’t involve sitting in a bar. Even if you don’t leave with a number (or a person) at least you’ll still have a good time.

Academy of Sciences– Every Thursday the Academy of Sciences hosts an event called ‘NightLife’ for those 21 and over. The entire museum is open, they serve drinks and food to enjoy with live music. The event goes from 6 to 10 p.m. entry cost is $12 and drinks run from $5 to $8. The downstairs aquarium is a hot spot for meeting people. Unlike a bar, the music down there is usually ambient and the blue lighting from the aquarium is relaxing, taking the edge off, of meeting new people. Be amazed by the amount of people “on the prowl”. At some point sit down in the aquarium and watch as people strike out or get numbers. “This is definitely a great place to meet people,” SF State student Jon Orellana says.

Mission Cliffs– This is a climbing gym in the Mission that offers introductory climbing classes at a reasonable price of $28 for mornings and afternoons. The gym and the people are mostly unpretentious and interesting. And unlike a bar, people are out in the daylight and conversation is not a requirement since everyone is there to get some sort of work out done. It is best to go on a Saturday afternoon. Go with a friend or go solo and climb with another single person. After the one hour delay and climbing lesson the whole gym is open, so keep climbing with a partner or hang out in the bouldering room, where you can climb smaller bolder shaped wall sans rope.

Ferry Building Farmer’s Market– Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. the Ferry Building holds an impressive farmers market which brings in all types of people. Walk around under the sun while sampling all the vendors has to offer and end up with a full stomach without paying a dime. The food options are diverse and there are endless things to look at and try. Besides, unlike a neighborhood farmer’s market, you are bound to meet someone new as people come from all over the city to the Ferry Building, so there is a wide variety of people to meet.

DNA Lounge– Is one bar worth mentioning and their events are worth checking out. Every second, third and fourth Saturdays of the month DNA Lounge hosts an event called Bootie. Entry costs $6 before 10 p.m. and $12 after. Want a good drink while getting the most bang for your buck? For $5 DNA lounge well serve you a strong alcoholic beverage, be sure to have a designated driver! Aside from their good drinks, this is a good place to go to dance and unwind. They have a band that performs live mash-ups of older and newer hits. It is a lot of fun. There are hardly ever people sitting on the side wall at Bootie, unless they are taking a rest break from all the drinks and dancing. According to the event organizer and singer, Adrian Roberts, Bootie will host an event in honor of the Coachella Music Festival held in Palm Springs every April. Bootie DJs will be spinning tracks from bands in the Coachella lineup.

Meetup.com– An amazing website for people to meet, offering something different from any other “dating site.” Create a profile based on interests and the site makes suggestions of groups in or around your area that are meeting up. There are no personal questions and they do not even require photo uploads, so there is no pressure. They have a group for almost everything, so there are endless meeting options. They offer everything, from support groups, hiking, cooking, dancing and even book clubs. San Francisco resident, Cory Logan, used meetup.com to join a rock climbing group. “The thing that I most enjoyed about the whole experience was how it was like watching a movie. Watching a bunch of people interact that I don’t know. Their characters slowly unfolding, and in such an interesting place,” Lohgan says. “Some of the people you meet, you might not like all that much, but it’s just for a limited meet up. I’d say that most people are pretty cool. And if they’re not, they at least make for an interesting story later.”

Whole Foods– On afternoons and weekends the deli area of this grocery store turns into a great pick up spot where you can potentially meet someone worth your time. While waiting for a sandwich, take look around at all the people buying lunch, chances are, just like you, they’re alone. Eat on location and start a conversation with a stranger about how fresh and tasty your lunch is.

Dolores Park Movie Night– Beginning April, Dolores Park will be having free movie nights during the second Thursdays of the month. Dress warm, bring a blanket and buy some popcorn. They usually show cult classics so the mood is light and with everyone on blankets in close proximity it is perfect for starting conversations with locals and meeting new people.

College Events- Sick of the same crowd at SF State? Going to events at other colleges is a great way to meet new people while learning something new. The Academy of Art University hosts galleries, fashions shows and social events every semester, all over the city. UC Berkeley and Stanford University have many fun things to offer like lectures, art shows, movies and sport events.

Friday night at the yoga studio, my friend and I are assessing the situation, and by that, I mean scoping the scene for cute guys. We are surrounded, but decide to keep to ourselves. Suddenly, we both realized how amazing we feel from the great yoga session so we leave satisfied, despite the fact we did not meet anyone special. In San Francisco, there is always a new place to go and new people to meet.

Campus Grub

It’s a usual school day, and your classes are running dreadfully slow. Your stomach is growling from hunger, so after class you decide to swing by Cafe Rosso hoping to get a quick bite of food or a coffee before you run off to your next class. The only problem is, the line is as long as the eye can see as three long formation of students depicts that of a mad sale during black Friday.

There is not always enough time, or food in your fridge, to pack a lunch before school. Most students moved out of their parents’ house and have had to say goodbye to the good ol’ days when Mom would send them off with a bag full of snacks. But there’s no need to stress, there are many places located around campus that offer a variety of cuisines at a reasonable price. BBQ, Thai, Mexican and Japanese are each available, to name a few. Unless students have some free time to wander around between classes, they might not know where to find these restaurants.

“Some people who have been on campus for four years don’t realize we’re here,” Frances Valbuena, an employee at Tuk Tuk Thai and Psychology major at SF State, says. Tuk Tuk Thai opened almost two years ago and is located below the Cesar Chavez Student Center. Valbuena says their most popular dish would be the Pad Thai, which cost between $4.50 and $6.50.

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Many students happen to stumble upon places to eat. Tanya Schleyer moved to San Francisco from the Los Angeles area this semester and found restaurants in the Cesar Chavez building by wandering around, simply searching for somewhere to sit and eat. Her favorite item to get is the veggie wrap from Healthy-U. Matt Juul, a Math major, says he knows about places on campus from just walking around, but usually heads to Cafe Rosso for a sandwich.

For students who don’t feel like wandering around, or have the time, the following is a guide to a  list of restaurants located on campus.

Cesar Chavez Building

Plaza Level:

  • Natural Sensations: Wraps, smoothies, frozen yogurt, and fresh squeezed orange and carrot juice. Most items are under $3.00.
  • Cafe 101: Espresso, teas, and pastries. Some of the pastries include: croissants, muffins, apple fritters and scones. Prices are $3.00.
  • Taqueria Girasol: Quesadillas, tacos, nachos, and burritos for under $5.00.
  • Gold Coast Grill: Breakfast items such as pancakes and omelette’s. Also, burgers, sandwiches, baked potatoes, and a salad bar for less than $6.00.

Quick bites (On Plaza Level):

  • Healthy-U: A convenience store with ready-made sandwiches, wraps, and sushi rolls. Also a variety of juices and teas in cans and bottles are available.
  • Lobby Shop: A convenience store that offers chips, cookies, crackers, gum, energy drinks, sodas, and some student necessities such as Scantrons.

Out side:

  • Carmelina La Petite: Fruit, cookies, trail mix, and sandwiches. The most expensive item on the menu cost $3.75.
  • Jessie’s hot House: Soul food. Jessie’s offers breakfast items such as oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and grits. They have sandwiches, fried and grilled chicken and shrimp, and vegetarian items such as BBQ tofu and veggie sausage patties. The most expensive item on the menu is $7.00.

Lower Conference Level:

  • Tuk Tuk Thai: Specializes in Thai food. Pad Thai, one of the restaurants most popular dishes, comes with your choice of chicken, pork, veggie, or shrimp.
  • The Pub: Serves beer and other alcoholic beverages. Some beers available on tap include: Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams. Also, a good place to get some garlic fries and popcorn. Alcoholic beverages cannot leave The Pub.

Recreation and Dining Level (where the games are):

  • Asia Express: Asian dishes with vegetarian options.
  • Pizza and Pasta: A slice of cheese pizza goes for $1.70. Some of the pastas inlcude: spaghetti, penne, or fettuccine with your choice of sauce.

Lower Campus:

  • Taza: Burritos, gyros, wraps, and smoothies. Taza usually offers a special that might include a buttito, drink and side such as a bag of chips that cost around $5.00.
  • Cafe Rosso: Bagels, coffee, pasta, pizza slices, salads and sandwiches.
  • Subway: Five dollar footlongs, sometimes.
  • Sushigo: Sushi rolls for around $7.00, udon, ramen and rice bowls.
  • Village Market and Pizza: a convenience store and fresh made pizza.

No matter your time and budget, Campus eating has never been so easy. Now you can go to class with a full stomach, ready to tackle those papers and or finals!

What’s Cooking in College?

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It is a typical Tuesday night. Homework is piling up and the weekend is still days away. In times like these, a quick and easy home cooked meal is just what you need to make it through the homework-ridden night. You need things like a bowl of fresh guacamole to stuff yourself with, or a quick and spicy burrito you were able to cobble together from leftovers.

The kitchen should be a place of comfort, the wafting smells of home cooking promising a fresh meal to recharge after a long day. The refrigerator filled with food just begging to be cooked. The dishes, pots, pans and silverware all cleaned and gleaming, ready to go. Even the stove top is free of crud.

But if you are like most college students, this is not your kitchen. True, your stove top might be spotless, but only because it is so seldom used. The refrigerator probably has beer, and if you are lucky, a mostly-random collection of leftovers and condiments you most likely inherited from the house’s last tenants. If you have silverware, it is probably thrown willy-nilly in the sink along with the couple of glasses stolen from the nearest dive bar that you got so you would have something to drink out of.

Do not beat yourself up. Not only are you not alone, there is indeed hope for that once-forgotten section of your studio or city-sized apartment. It takes surprisingly little work—and even less money—to turn your kitchen from that-awkward-extra-space-to-put-knick-knacks into a warm and happy room. A room that is capable of turning even the most basic ingredients to tasty, healthy and easy meals.
EQUIPMENT
The first part of having a kitchen is having the tools to use it. You would not, say, try to change your car’s oil without a wrench or maybe use the bathroom without toilet paper, so do not be fooled into thinking the two-burner hotplate your apartment came with is going to be enough. It is not.

Fortunately, it does not take much to equip your kitchen. Simply looking on websites like craigslist.org for free stuff can work great, just make sure to act fast, as the more desirable freebies tend to get snatched up right away. Second-hand stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill are equally helpful. If sparkling new cookware is more to your liking, discount shops like Ross and even Wal-Mart sell most kitchen essentials at rock-bottom prices.

And basic tools really are all you need. A pot and pan are the first obvious essentials. If you are short on space or college-aged, you probably should stick to medium or small gear. Besides, how often do you really cook pasta for five people anyway? Make sure that your pots and pans come with lids. Not only do they help save energy by heating up food and water faster, but they also help keep the kitchen clean by keeping food in the pot where it belongs.

With the basics covered, make sure to have a few cooking utensils, like spatulas, tongs, big spoons, and so forth. Sets are available that include all the basics plus a nice bucket to keep them in, helping to keep clutter at bay. The last things needed are a few good knives and some silverware, plates and bowls for actually eating with. If the kitchen is tiny and has limited dishwashing space, disposable plates and cutlery are a convenient, if less earth friendly option.

Always make sure to have some dishrags lying around, because life happens, and food gets spilled. Shop rags, the little red squares of fabric used by mechanics, work surprisingly well in the kitchen, and are sold cheaply at auto parts stores. Fancy dishtowels might look nicer, but when you can get ten shop rags for the price of one, the price is hard to beat. Keep a few within reach at all times.

Even if your kitchen is only a hot plate and a toaster oven, don’t get discouraged. “Sometimes, you just need to look around at what you have,” says Amber Crago, 25, a mostly-self-taught cook-extraordinaire. When cooking dinner aboard an old houseboat, with only a toaster oven and weak, two-burner hot plate to work with, Crago pulls out a trick she first discovered while living in Hawaii, where the local love for rice means every house is equipped with a rice cooker.

“It’s not just a rice cooker,” she says. “It’s just like a hot plate, but with an auto-off switch and built-in warmer.” Rice cookers are perfect for making soups, stews, and even chilies and beans. And here’s a tip: a used rice cooker can be picked up for under ten dollars.

GETTING THE FOOD

With the kitchen brought up to speed, it is time to actually buy the food to cook. Having food in your kitchen is what really makes it the happy place it is meant to be, but choose carefully, because it’s easy to go overboard.

If you have recipes you know you want to try, read up beforehand. But more often than not, purchasing every single ingredient listed in a cookbook rapidly becomes prohibitively expensive. After all, if you have to spend twenty dollars to have everything for a burrito, why not just buy a burrito for six dollars instead?

Rather than thinking in terms of recipes, appraise in broader terms. Consider ingredients as components. For example, bread, tortillas and buns are really all the same part of a dish—something to hold everything together. Rice, pasta and noodles all serve as the base to put something else on top of.

“I buy a log of the really cheap ground beef, and add it to regular pasta sauce to make a meat sauce,” says Jonathan Scion, 24, in his extremely cluttered and mostly unfurnished kitchen in Berkeley, Calif. “I cook a lot, believe it or not,” Scion says, looking around and noticing the partially-full trash bag on the floor.

Shaun Goo, 22, also touts the benefits of the Italian staple. “All you have to do is dump it in boiling water and boil the hell out of it,” he says. “You’d have to be an idiot to not be able to do it.” Goo says he typically augments the regular jarred red sauce with fresh veggies like zucchini or whatever else he happens to have. “The good thing about pasta,” he says, “is that you can put anything in and it’ll be good.”

Rice and pasta are great to buy in bulk because they have a long shelf life and don’t take up much space. But other things, like bread and tortillas, expire quickly. So choose carefully. When shopping for one person, remember that eight burger buns will last what seems like forever. It is easy to get sick of them well before they are done, and unless you eat them for all three meals every day, they can mold before the bag is empty.

“Farmer’s markets are some of the best places to find deals on produce, especially in season,” Crago says. Even better, the fruits and veggies found there are usually fresher than what is found in grocery stores. But, like bread, be realistic about what you will eat and how much fridge space you have—it feels great to hop on Muni with two full bags bursting with fresh food, but unless you really, really eat a lot of salad, it might be a false economy. Buying in bulk is a double-edged sword. Sure, there are significant savings to be had, but remember that if not properly stored, food can go bad fast, and quickly negate any of the savings.

Meat will last for ages in the freezer, but will also take a long time to thaw, ruining the spontaneity of cooking. Meat in the fridge will last maybe a week at best.

While it’s hard to beat the taste of fresh meat—or tofu, for that matter—there are easier options for the lazy college chef. There are pre-frozen burger patties in practically every combination of meat imaginable, and of course there are veggie burger patties as well.

Inevitably, eating burgers every night gets gross real fast, but don’t look at it that way. Patties don’t have to be eaten as burgers; they can be cooked up practically any way imaginable.
Keeping it simple is key, but never forget that flavor is the most important thing, so be sure to stock on spices and a couple of hot sauces—a Mexican-style one and an Asian-style seasoning will cover most everything. Spices aren’t cheap, but a little goes a long way, so consider it an investment. Cumin is a versatile spice that goes well with just about anything, as do garlic powder and paprika. Just use your nose and buy what appeals to you.
The key to shopping is just grabbing what you think will go well together. Just remember that America’s obsession with bulk purchasing means that pretty much anything you’ll buy will last a long time when just one person is using it, so make sure there are lots of possibilities for every ingredient you buy.

COOKING

Now comes the fun part. With the kitchen stocked and ready, it is time to cook. Don’t be scared, the most important thing is to just go with it and use your gut. Baking is a science that requires careful measurement, precise temperatures and exact timing. Cooking is the opposite—all it requires in an idea.

“It’s really a matter of getting over the initial fear,” says Tom Shattuck. “It’s super basic, just getting things together and whipping it up.” Shattuck, an English major at San Francisco State University, would know. When he first started working at Whole Foods, he’d never really cooked before. “I started from nothing,” he says. “That’s what’s so sick about cooking.” Now he’s a chef. While Shattuck wants nothing to do with a career in the restaurant industry, cooking is a good skill to fall back on.

Remember that it is the little things that separate a delicious meal from a gross, desperate concoction. Toasted bread is almost always better than cold bread. If you have a toaster oven, just stick the bread inside and keep an eye on it until it is just how you like it—anywhere from lightly warmed to brown and crunchy.

Use spices to your advantage, and remember that even basic things can become delicious with just a little ingenuity. Take instant ramen noodles, for example. Just throw away the gross and MSG-laden flavor pack. Cook the noodles, but add whatever you desire to make your own soup—soy sauce or hot sauce and spices for flavor, and top it off with fresh veggies or tofu. That’s a decent meal in less than ten minutes.

Be sure to think creatively. You may have gotten sick of those burger patties ages ago, but they can easily be re-imagined. Break the patties into pieces and cook them in a pan with jarred curry sauce and serve over rice for a quick Indian meal. Don’t tell, and no one will even guess you used burger patties. Salmon patties can even be cooked and added to salads, instantly making you look like a gourmet salmon chef. If bread is starting to go stale, butter it up and throw some spices on to make croutons by toasting it in the oven until it becomes crunchy.

“You know what you like,” Shattuck says. “Don’t panic. Just fucking get your feet wet.”
So follow Shattuck’s advice. The worst thing that can possible happen is you will make something that does not taste like you hope, but that is what the learning process is all about. Grab some spices, your foods of choice, and get a pan full of home cooking going.

Farmer’s Market

Fluorescent lights fill the windowless grocery store with an artificial glow that, from the inside, makes the time of day indeterminable. Products are crammed in every niche, save for aisles, while shopping carts congest the narrow walkways. Health conscious shoppers analyze the products, reading labels on prepackaged goods that have been taking up space on the shelves for as long as their sell-by date allows.

The concept of the modern grocery has, for some, been both a blessing and a curse. No longer is it necessary to go to more than one store (the butcher, the baker, the pharmacy, etc.) to get shopping done, since it is all conveniently located in one place; yet, some argue that by monopolizing and corporatizing the food industry, the consumers are ultimately losing quality, which has prompted many to go straight to the source.

Living in the concrete labyrinth that is San Francisco, it can be hard to imagine that California is in fact the nation’s largest agricultural producer and exporter. In the city, tall buildings converge with one another, for blocks on end, but if you manage to escape the seven-by-seven grid, open land subsists. The state is home to 81,500 farms and ranches, totaling 4.5 million acres, and counting. From 2003 to 2009, the state’s exports increased 66 percent, proving that California grown products are in high demand.

While the most well known agricultural region in California is the Central Valley, a sweeping 400-mile-trench, most of the locally grown products sold in San Francisco hail from the coastal hillsides of the North and South Bay. Not only are these products fresher than those hauled in from out of the state or country, but as a consumer, you can be sure that your money is being put back into the community.

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San Francisco has a long history of bringing rural farmers into the city to sell their goods, a trend still seen today. Founded in 1943, the Alemany Farmers’ Market, currently open every Saturday from dawn to dusk, became the very first of its kind in California. Since then, farmers’ markets have sprouted up in almost every neighborhood, with the same ethic: delivering local, farm fresh food at reasonable prices.

“Farmers’ markets are like an old school traditional way,” says SF Grill owner, Seni Felic. “It is especially important to remind people in the city how food is grown, how it is harvested.” Felic is energetic and friendly, taking the time to engage with every person who stops by his stand at the Divisadero Farmers’ Market.

The market, founded in 2008 and operated by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, can be found brimming with local vendors every Sunday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on the tent-lined corner of Grove at Divisadero Streets. Looking East, traffic zips along Divisadero in the foreground. Another block down, a staircase up to historic Alamo Square can be seen.

Each week, a different musical act provides a soundtrack for the market, offset by chatter and buzzing engines. Fresh flowers, produce, breads, and seafood are among the products offered, yet it is not long before you catch the aroma of burgers sizzling on a nearby grill.

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Founded in 2009, Felic’s mobile restaurant, SF Grill, serves up free-range turkey burgers and more from Sonoma County. The animals, which roam the farm freely, are fed a vegetarian diet. A towering man, with a creative sense of fashion, Felic believes in serving healthy, quality products to San Francisco residents, as though it were his duty. “Many people shop in grocery stores not knowing where the food comes from,” laments Felic.

Other vendors also share this sentiment. “It is really important to support your local community and eat healthy,” says Shannon Currier, vendor and kitchen aid for Donna’s Tamales, as she folds two plastic tables and packs up the company van, after a rainy day at the farmers’ market on SF State’s campus.

Based in Fairfax, family-owned Donna’s Tamales has been in business for over 18 years. Founded by Donna Eichhorn and Shirley Virgil, the company is focused on organic farming, sustainability, health, and community. “In the long run, it always pays off, even if it is more expensive,” says Currier.

Shopping at any of the city’s various farmers’ markets can be an enjoyable event, but working as a vendor is a unique experience unto itself. “When you go to a regular job you don’t get to meet other businesses and people who care about something,” Currier explains, her eyes flitter as she tries to grasp words that will convey her feelings. “We watch after each other, like a tribe.”

Donna’s Tamales emphasizes healthy eating habits by producing organic, vegetarian, vegan, and even some lactose and gluten free products. The tasty creations are also environmentally sound, offering seasonal selections. Spring tamales include white bean asparagus, tomatillo veggie, and asparagus cheddar.

The fine crafted certified organic cheeses used in Donna’s Tamales products comes from Straus Family Creamery, a family-owned business, located along the cool, foggy shores of Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco. The creamery prides itself on environmentally sound farming practices and has been in its Marshall, California location since William Straus started raising dairy cows in 1941.

Aside from the basic organic regulations, Straus Family Creamery goes above and beyond. Some of the practices in use include maintaining a closed herd, which bars outside animals from coming to the farm, a practice that aims to prevent the spreading of diseases, such as Mad Cow. In addition, all of the cows are vegetarian and the farmers work with animal nutritionists to ensure the cows have a balanced diet.

If you are looking to add the tasty tamales to your diet, Donna’s products can be found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SF State, and in select San Francisco stores.

Though the tamales just recently made their debut at SF State, the market is in its fourth year of operation. In 2007, the school’s Associate Students, Inc. (ASI) started the campus farmers’ market, found sandwiched between the Humanities and Fine Arts buildings. Students sample products in between classes or sit on the curb along the front of the Humanities building to enjoy an alternative lunch.

The market, which runs during the school year, started with only three vendors and has since grown to nine. “We try to find vendors that are a good match for students,” Horace Montgomery, ASI’s programs and services director, says. “We ask them to lower prices for the students. The kids love it.”

The kids are not the only ones who are smitten. SF State’s farmers’ market model is trend setting. According to Montgomery, he has since been contacted by eight other California State Universities interested in following SF State’s example by starting markets at their campuses.

It is refreshing to see the community support such local markets, which place emphasis on a healthy diet, especially since the nation’s obesity epidemic is running rampant. Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration released guidelines, which encouraged Americans to cut refined grains, consume less sodium-rich processed foods, and eat more fruits and vegetables. The guidelines have persuaded some in the corporate food industry to reformulate their food packaging and cut sodium.

Luckily, there is no need for California’s farmers to refocus their harvests. As they continue to cultivate fresh foods, health conscious foodies everywhere rejoice. So, take advantage of the state’s natural bounties. When you next feel a hankering for healthy, sustainable, and delectable foods, cut out the middleman, get outside, and locate a market near you.

Selling Junk, Building Community

“Where exactly are we going?” Jonathan asks.

“The Moving Sale,” Giovan says, stepping out of the staircase to his apartment and on to the pavement, zipping his windbreaker all the way up to the brown tuft of hair hanging off his chin. “Imagine every garage sale you’ve ever been to stacked in a warehouse.”

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Jonathan Sanders, 22, is up from Los Angeles with a few friends, staying with San Francisco State University student Giovan Alonzi, 21, at his quaint SoMa apartment. A good rest after a day consumed by transit, Jonathan is ready to absorb what San Francisco has to offer. And this afternoon, after about a week of rainfall, the washed pavement and cool colors that paint the south of Market skyline seem to glow, illuminating this chilly, but bright path up 5th Street and down Howard Street.

And Giovan is not far from the truth. Small bookshelves filled with idiot’s guides and tattered spy novels, French-American dictionaries, toasters, tables, and chairs sit outside on the street, where most of them had been left in the first place, only to be gathered and appropriated for curious and thrifty urban dwellers. They do not obstruct the path so much as they guide the eye into the endearing warehouse on the right, from which they seem to be spewing out.

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Upon entry, the midday light falls through the open door on Howard Street lighting up the hallway surrounded by chairs, cushions, DVDs, 50-year-old credit card mProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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hines, and all sorts of knicks and knacks by the time it stops at the beginning of the main room of the live-work space. Piles of furniture, televisions, a piano, and the faded books, given a subtle coloring and character by the lamps hanging overhead and stationed around the room, are all for sale, validating the sign that hangs above the door: “It’s not just a garage sale, it’s the whole house.”

Rhythmic echoes of rummaging come to an end and shortly after, store owner Mark Swenson steps into the light leading into the warehouse’s main space, decked out to the ceiling in antiquity. His protruding chin accentuates his grin at the sight of Giovan, who is at this point a regular.

Giovan first stumbled upon this place in December, and, for less than $35, bought Christmas gifts for his roommates and entire family. Ralph Bakshi’s lesser-known Lord of the Rings, a decadent olive oil-vinegar dispenser, a jello mold, Plato’s Ethics, and an old framed Yamato-e are stacked in his arms by the time he exits onto the street, only to return with friends several times over.

Swenson, now 48, moved to San Francisco in the late 1980s after graduating with a degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota. The son of an apartment manager, he spent his whole life in Minneapolis, learning electrical and repair skills he would later put to use. His social skills finally bloomed in college when he became a representative for his fraternity, and he could realize his passion for people. Dreams of entering the entertainment business brought him to California, first shacking up in San Francisco, where he worked selling hot dogs on a street corner.

“Best job I ever had,” Swenson smiles, taking off an examining the perfect round lenses on his glasses, legs crossed and knee bouncing. “I loved it because I could just stand there and talk to tourists all day. This was years ago when only one company had all the permits to sell so they had like five or six carts throughout the city.”

In 1989 he found himself in Los Angeles selling Ricoh and Xerox copy machines, where he first learned how to sell. Still feeding his fondness for showbiz, he specialized in production and entertainment accounts, and it was about this time that a client in the business helped him land a gig as an extra on several episodes of Cheers.

“And I was on The Love Connection,” he laughs. “I was on the Scrabble gameshow and I actually won. It was weird because they said if you win, you’re going get your check 90 days from the air date. Don’t call us on day 89 on day 90 you’ll get it. And on day 90, $500 came in the mail. It was amazing.”

Several years into the 1990s, Swenson moved back to San Francisco, working at Macy’s, selling men’s shirts and ties. An accident on the job required him to take leave on workman’s compensation for several months, and during that time what would eventually become The Moving Sale is conceived.

“I had picked up a piece of furniture on the street that somebody had put out and refinished it,” he recalls. “I think I marbleized it.”

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The repair skills inherited from his father years earlier would finally be put to their best use in these years, when he developed his passion for collecting.

“A friend of mine and I started going out from like 11 p.m. at night sometimes 3, 4, 5 or 6 a.m. picking furniture up or other things,” Swenson says. It’s rare when manages to suppress his seemingly unending grin. “And what I found was if somebody had a coat rack or a hall tree they would get rid of it because one part of it was broken, and then two blocks away from it somebody would have the same thing. So I could take two things and make one out of it.”

It would be easy to consider Swenson a passive environmental activist, definitely something to chew on. But the very nature of the lifestyle of collection, repair, and reuse ultimately ends up saving so many knicks, knacks, odds, and ends from what would be their unnecessary fate in landfill. A de facto conservationist, Swenson knows that what he does should be the precedent for the distribution of goods, and not just the ever popular “greening” of manufacturing.

“I don’t get how we can keep manufacturing new things,” he says. “I would see stuff out being thrown away, little leveler blinds. You have to know that there’s an overabundance of everything already, why you would keep making more of it is beyond me. We can make it cheaper, too.

“We don’t make anything here anymore its mostly made overseas I suppose,” he continues. “What I’ve found over the course of time here is it seems like younger people now would rather by something from Ikea rather than getting a good solid piece of furniture that’s going to last.”

By 1997, Swenson had moved into a live-work space down the street from his current spot in between 5th and 6th streets on Howard Street, as his garage on Octavia Boulevard can no longer manage to fit his trove of found goods. But by the time he had moved, he was having garage sales every Friday with roommates.

“I was making more money doing that then I was when I worked at Macy’s,” he says. “I would get stuff and fix it if it needed it and then go to auctions in the mornings. And kind of in the back of my mind I always wanted to open a little store. And what I would find while doing that was I had everything that people needed.”

“It was a big decision to quit to do something I liked,” he continues. “But what I found was that when I was in LA it was always about chasing money and never having any, because the lifestyle was like that, I guess. But the minute I moved up here I always had money in the bank and I was able to accumulate it enough to do this.”

Swenson pauses, stares off into the distance, before rolling his upward eyes back around, the movement barely hidden by the glare on his lenses.

“I’m not just some ‘junk man,’” he says. “I do this for a greater purpose. I believe I get things and sell things because people need them.”

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This is not signifying an over-inflated sense of self; while Swenson’s business is collecting things, he is no hoarder. Everything in his store is for sale. He recalls a point where it seemed as if he was selling his own couch every week, only to replace it with a new piece of furniture shortly after.

“I remember specifically one time I was in my garage,” he remembers. “I had this pair of shoes, and some guy was walking by and liked them and asked the size and I remember saying, ‘I don’t know, what size do they need to be?’ And they were the size that they needed to be. And he was so happy. It was great.”

It seemed that everything somebody needed, it was in that garage and Swenson could come up with it, and so came the altruism that helps him along in his entrepreneurial venture, ending up with the opening of The Moving Sale.

“I was living in the place, and at night would be bringing all this stuff home and neighbors and people in hotels would be like ‘Oh what the fuck’s going on there?’” he says through breathy laughter. “And finally I was like, ‘Okay I’m opening this store.’”

Initially, Swenson had a different name for it.

“But one day I was sitting around and I had all these boxes and I thought, ‘Boy, if I called it “Moving Sale,” then I wont have to unpack anything,’” Swenson says. “So it was kind of out of laziness in a way that I came up with that.”

The area around Harrison and Stevenson, between 5th and 7th streets was an earthquake recovery zone after the 1989 earthquake, and it became a redevelopment project area. When he first learned that the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency bought his building (from which he subsequently moved to his current location), he found out one of his customers was the secretary for the SoMa Project Area Committee, which is the committee that advises the redevelopment agency.

When he got on, they were writing the plan amendment to make 6th street the major focus of a major redevelopment area, trying to improve living conditions and do away with blight. At the time, and still, a lot of his customers were homeless and lived in single room occupancy apartments. People needed heaters, hotplates or things they could use in their hotel rooms, like microwaves. So when he first started business in SoMa those were his customers. Swenson would go to auctions and get 15 microwaves at a time. Ultimately, he says, he improved peoples living conditions because he sold items to people who otherwise couldn’t get it, for cheap.

“My thing has always been that I don’t care what something’s worth,” Swenson says. “I sell things for what I want to sell things for. I don’t price a lot of things. I determine prices based on who I’m talking to. There’s no reason that somebody who needs something can’t just come in and get it from me, because ultimately I’ll work with them however I need to do it in order for them to get it. Even if it’s lowering the price or putting it on layaway.”

Swenson’s reputation among locals grew since the mid 1990s, especially as their standards of living increased. And as it turned out, Howard Street was the thoroughfare to get from Financial District to the Bay Bridge, so many on the other end of the economic spectrum would drive by every evening. Along with the Yellow Pages, The Moving Sale’s demographic grew and diversified over time. College students needing furniture, artists re-imagining the excesses of our culture to create a terrifying or beautiful sculpture, or the blighted needing decent stuff cheap. At the same time, Swenson was still going on late night runs, going to auctions and fixing up his findings.

And even now in the wake of and through constant process of urban redevelopment, most of his fan base has not been ebbed out of town. While built-in poverty is still around with halfway houses and SROS, the demographic has not changed much.

Into his third decade in SoMa, Swenson has seen it grow, and seen the infrastructural spit-shine of redevelopment morph the neighborhood around him. When he moved to San Francisco, he knew nothing about redevelopment or what it meant.

“I didn’t know what poor people were at the time,” he says. “I guess growing up in the Midwest we were by no means rich or anything. I guess I didn’t know what it was like on 6th Street.

“I used to sell a lot of stuff to artists,” Swenson continues. “They would come it to by odds and ends for art projects. I don’t have a lot of that anymore because they can’t afford to live here anymore, they went to Oakland. Once in a while I’ll have that, but not like I used to.”

His gaze is lost in the distance between himself and the brick wall obstructing the eyes from penetrating any further. Swenson cocks his head back and forth, his smile flickers as he travels through the subspace of memory.

“When I lived here in 1986 or 1987, and even when I went to college, I would see people that lived in warehouses and I always thought it was cool,” Swenson says, finally baring his teeth, sipping up the last of his coffee. “I always wanted to do that. And when I lived here initially I always thought it would be cool to live SoMa. And here I was living in SoMa in a warehouse!”

“Sometimes I think wow, it’s pretty cool, I actually have everything I ever wanted, in a way. Other times I think I have nothing and that I’m a miserable failure,” he chuckles. “So whatever. But, that’s essentially what led me to move where I’m currently at, while I’m doing all this. And luckily, I knew this place and I really love it.”

Where do you Poo?

Rafael Lopez swears by Burk Hall. Kyle Nicolos considers the top floor in the Fine Arts building his home base. Vincent Munoz declares that the men’s locker room is like a secret garden, and any Business major will adamantly maintain theirs are the best on campus. And if you ask any female at SF State, well, don’t ask because they don’t poop.

Yes, good ‘ole number two. It happens. Whether you’re sitting in English 214, studying Physics in the Annex or eating lunch in the Student Center with that cutie patootie you’ve had your eye on the whole semester, pooping is a part of life and it can strike as randomly and violently as Jason on Halloween.

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The worst part about a stinky situation? Is where exactly, and where in closest proximity, is the best place to handle your situation. That depends where you are on campus.  Are you coming from MUNI at the top of State by Holloway? Or are you coming from SamTrans by Lake Merced? Perhaps, you are in a major hurry because you just tried looking for parking in Park Merced for the last twenty minutes. Whatever the situation, location is integral in deciding where to relieve yourself in such a desperate moment.

First and foremost, lets answer the biggest question of all. Where is the cleanest, most settling place on all of SF State to go number two you ask? Fifth floor administration building, right outside President Robert Corrigan’s office. It is essentially the five-star version of any bathroom on campus. However, it may be rather intimidating to go to that top floor where you wonder if everything from the fancy furniture to the state-of-the-art boardroom is financed by student tuition. But march on soldier. Once you hit those bathrooms you’ll forget about the shiny oak desks, lack of classes and thousand dollar books, and you’ll be basking in bathroom glory right outside the president’s door. Talk about stinkin’ it to ’em.

Unfortunately, the Administration building isn’t always going to be a viable solution, and when you have to go, you have to go. If you are coming from the Lake Merced direction onto campus and do not have access to the dorms, your best bet is to hit any bathroom in the Humanities building. The higher the floor you go, the cleaner the bathroom. Burk Hall, Rafael Lopez’s personal favorite, is just across from Humanities. BH’s bathrooms are a little more modern than Humanities and thus seemingly cleaner. The Creative Arts building is also an option for those coming from the Park Merced area, the bathrooms are a bit outdated, but more sanitary than most places on campus.

If you are coming from a Stonestown excursion to get your freshest gear for the weekend and that Hot Dog on a Stick starts to rumble around in that belly of yours, get to Hensill Hall as soon as possible. Most of the SF State student body doesn’t even know this building exists. There are multiple floors with two-stall bathrooms that are frequently clean and quiet. There are also lockers adorning the walls in Hensill Hall, bringing back old memories of high school and yesteryear to calm you before unleashing the beast.

There are certain lavatory’s everyone should try to avoid at all times. Particularly the ones that are heavily trafficked. The bathrooms in the HSS building are simply gross. The Science building’s restrooms weren’t easy to find, and both building’s toilets look like they were last remodeled in 1950. The gym too should be avoided. Despite Munoz’s declaration, bathrooms at gymnasiums should just be used for number one.

The Business building isn’t ideal either, and if you are in that region of SF State you might as well find something in the Administration building that’s literally steps away. However, there are private one-stall bathrooms in the Business building that are a notch above the HSS and Science bathrooms.

Ideally, you want to be able to take care of your business in the soothing comforts of your own home. But that, like nature, cannot be completely controlled. Is it possible to somehow prevent or reduce random bowel movements? Of course. Wash your hands frequently, try to avoid big changes in your daily diet, don’t eat dropped food and wash fruits and vegetables before consuming. Also, try avoiding foods with Sorbitol, found in certain gum and candy that can lead to excessive bowel movements.

While none of this is a safe-proof plan to successfully relieving yourself on- or off-campus, this should be a decent guide of when and where to be if the moment strikes. And if you ever catch a female admitting to the unthinkable act of pooping, be sure to get in contact as soon as possible, their input would be gratefully appreciated.

Simple recipes for delicious home made bread and bagels

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The bread is piping hot and emits a fragrant steam. It has been placed on the counter to cool. The crust is a light, crispy brown. The scents of oregano and garlic fill the room. Slice through the hard crust and the steam spirals up from the rustic loaf, revealing a soft center. Lather a layer of butter on and bask in the delight of fresh, homemade baked bread.

The art of bread baking often seems daunting and difficult, but once the basics are mastered it just takes a little patience and the right ingredients to be baking homemade loafs.

No knead bread is a rustic ciabatta widely popularized in 2006 by New York Time’s columnist, Mark Bittman. The recipe was published in Bittman’s column, The Minimalist, which ran for over thirteen years. The bread was developed by Jim Lahey, the owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.

Ciabatta, an Italian bread, is known for its versatility and distinct flavor. The Italian word ciabatta means slipper in english. It is often used in delis as a sandwich roll. In the most basic recipes only white flour, yeast, salt and water are required. Herbs, garlic, olive oil, and seeds can be added to give the bread more flavor. Some bakers use sourdough starters to make the dough more complex. For the beginning baker the flour and yeast recipe is simplest.

“I like how it’s a mix of art and science. You can follow the recipe to a T, or modify all the variables, like the time and temperature. But, you don’t know a good bread until you know how the dough feels,” says Chris Block, a user of Bittman’s recipe.

Tiffany Ballard, a homemade bread baker agrees with Block. “Remember that baking is where science and art meet, so it’s important to be both precise and follow your instincts.”

Block has been using the recipe for two-and-a-half years. “It’s just a basic formula,” states Block. “I don’t do no knead anymore. But, it got me in to baking bread.”

There are many ways to add flavor to your bread. Block suggests adding walnuts or other nuts in to the dough. “Take your time and use good ingredients. Bread is very simple so it’s important to pick good ingredients to start with, high quality flour and water that tastes good, not too chlorine-y,” says Ballard.

“Flavor in bread develops as yeast ferments so you want to make sure you don’t rush your bread or the texture and flavor will be off,” suggests Ballard. “On the flip side of that, though, is that you don’t want your bread to raise too long or your flavor will be too strong and your bread may fall in on itself. Never add extra yeast to make bread rise faster or you’ll get a bitter bread.”

NO KNEAD BREAD
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
1 1/2 cups warm water

Begin by sifting the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and yeast, and stir to distribute them evenly within the flour. Add the water slowly, stirring with a large spoon. You may find that using your hands is easier to get it properly mixed, but a bit sticky.

If you are adding nuts, herbs, or other ingredients, this is the time to do so. Mix in any amount you feel comfortable with. Make sure they are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Try whole garlic cloves and oregano, or chives. Brush on some olive oil for an extra touch of flavor.

After everything is mixed in, cover the mixing bowl with some foil or plastic wrap. Put it in a warm place, preferably away from a draft, and forget about it for at least twelve hours. Up to twenty hours is fine, but keep in mind there is still some work to do.

Sprinkle some flour on a counter or cutting board and dump the dough out. Wet your hands to keep the dough from sticking to them and shape the dough in to a neat ball. Now place in the pan that you intend to cook it in.

The pan should have a lid, or be able to be covered with another pan that can serve as a lid. Nothing with plastic handles should be used, as the bread will be cooked at 450 Fahrenheit.

Now after the dough waits an hour-and-a-half, turn the oven to 450 and slip the pan in. Let cook for around a half hour. Remove the lid and cook another twenty to thirty minutes.

Remove from the oven.

You’ll know it is ready when the top is a crispy golden color. If you have a cooking thermometer you can test the inside to 210 Fahrenheit.

“One of the other big things for bread baking is temperature, often a recipe calls for something to be 70 degrees or 110 degrees…which are both a lot cooler than you think they are, so use a thermometer. Your oven is probably cooler than you think it is, so get an oven thermometer too,” says Ballard.

“Let it cool,” adds Block. “It’s pretty hard to do, but the flavor changes dramatically if you let it cool. It gets much better.”

“Dutch ovens are perfect for no knead. They hold in the steam, and that is necessary to make the crust,” informs Block.

When considering the best pan to use for the bread make sure that it has a lid, or that another pan can be used as a lid. Try a 9 x 9 inch metal baking dish and a pie crust pan for the lid. Be creative, anything that is large enough to hold the dough in and a lid can securely fit over is perfect. Keeping in the steam is essential to forming the crust.

Eric Jones suggests using no knead as a pizza dough. “It’s really easy to roll out, it’s not too yeasty, and it doesn’t bounce back too much,” he says.

Jones’ girlfriend cooks for him a lot and experiments with the bread for various dishes. He says she makes the dough, lets it rise, and then cooks it at a high temp for a few minutes and then adds the toppings. After being topped it is returned to the oven to complete the baking.

“We’ve even used different flours and ratios, we’ve gone with whole wheat and rice flour” he adds. “No knead bread is better than the bread you get at the super market!”

BAGELS
Bagels are another great thing to be able to bake on your own. The key to this process is boiling before baking. Otherwise, it is just a roll with a hole. They can be eaten at breakfast with cream cheese and jam, used for sandwiches, or enjoyed on their own.
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water.

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. After the mixture becomes uniform, flour your work surface and plop the dough out on it. Take one end of the dough and push it in to the rest of the dough, or knead the dough, until it becomes smooth.

If you like you can add cinnamon, herbs, garlic, raisins, or anything else you would like to be in the dough at this time. Toppings are added later.

Roll the dough out and cut in to eight equal-sized pieces. Roll into little balls and let sit for fifteen minutes.

Turn your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take each of the dough balls and roll them in to small snake-like pieces. Connect the two ends together and do your best to roll these neatly together. Another option is to poke a hole through the middle, making sure to make it wide enough to hold once the dough rises again.

Let the dough sit and rise for another fifteen to twenty minutes and in the mean time get a large pot of bowling water ready.

After the wait your bagels should look a bit puffier. Plop them into the water, making sure they do not overlap. Let them boil one minute each side. If you would like to top them with seeds, dehydrated goods, onions, or anything else now is the time. After removing them from the bowling water place them on a plate covered with your topping. Then move them off to the side, or place in a strainer so they can dry. Follow this for each bagel.

Place them in a lightly greased baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for ten minutes. Pull the tray out, flip them over, and return to the oven for another ten minutes.

Let them cool down before consuming. They are mighty delicious when fresh out of the oven, but make sure to save enough for the week!

Try wrapping the dough around your favorite cheese when forming. Use whole wheat flour for a different taste.

“Homemade bagels are much better than store bought!” says Jones. “They are the best because they are so fresh.”

Making homemade baked goods is delicious and rewarding. Give your friends or family a loaf for a present. To dress it up, cut up an old pillow case or shirt you do not use anymore. Wrap the loaf in it, and tie it neatly with a string. Throw a Sunday brunch party and invite friends to try your tasty breakfast treats. Use the bagels as a roll and make a delicious lunch on it. The possibilities are endless. Experiment, find the balance of the art and science, and taste the delicious texture of your homemade goods.

Campus Living: The pros and cons of dorming

Bright sunlight is streaming through the dark pink curtain and onto the stark white walls of Adriana Amer’s bedroom. Illuminating her dark, curly hair and light brown, olive complexion, Adriana rolls over as her phone begins to ring the tune of The Office, signaling it is time to greet the day. She slowly rises from her bed within her Village at Centennial Square apartment at SF State. A transfer student, this is Adriana’s first year living on campus. She happily switches on her iHome and heads into the bathroom, grabbing her lime green toothbrush. Going through her routine Adriana brushes her teeth, pulls back her hair, applies a bit of midnight colored mascara to highlight her chocolate eyes, and finally goes to use the toilet. Adriana pushes down the silver handle, waiting to hear the wishing and swooshing of the water as it plummets below. Nothing happens. Instead, the water begins to rise, dangerously threatening to overflow. “Crap,” she says ironically, as she realizes the toilet in her on campus housing unit is broken for the second time in just one week.

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Adriana is one of more than two thousand students residing on campus at SF State. The Village has been providing upper division students with a place to live since the Fall of 2001. As an international student from Lebanon, she chose to live on campus for the convenience it provided. “Being able to wake up five minutes before class and still get there on time is great,” she says. “I wouldn’t be able to do that if I lived off campus.”

Walking into a Village living space, you are met with cloud white walls and flat, grey-blue carpets. One navy blue couch, accompanied by a love seat of the same color, provides comfort to the otherwise bare common area. A coffee, dining, and side table, all the color of midnight, offer counter spaces to room’s residents. The Village strives to supply students with an apartment-like living experience, each unit consists of two bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and common living area. With four roommates per space, single occupancy rooms are also available.

Chloe Woodmansee is a transfer student from Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz. Pulling her short, curly strawberry-blonde hair into a ponytail, Woodmansee says living on campus is finally providing her a real college experience. “Being a transfer student, it’s really hard to meet people,” Woodmansee says. “I wanted to live in the Village so I could more easily meet other students and hopefully experience a kind of college community.”

Established in 1899, SF State is one of California’s oldest public universities. Since its beginning, the university has always been primarily a commuter school. This has made it difficult for students to meet and socialize in student common areas and organized campus-life events so frequent in universities with larger on-campus populations. Those who do live on campus seem to share Woodmansee’s idea, of potentially meeting new fellow students.

A senior at SF State, Caitlin Hamer has resided on campus all four years of her college career. “I really enjoy living on campus,” says Hamer. “A lot of people I know think it’s lame, but really, I’ve met some of my closest friends because I chose to live on campus.” Hamer, with her medium length, wavy brown hair is sitting in her Village apartment, remembering the first day she moved to SF State.

It is a clear and bright day at the end of August. The sun is blanketing down a new batch of curious and eager freshmen. Caitlin is hauling two bulging brown cardboard boxes up the blinding white staircase in the Mary Park dormitory. She trudges slowly, her black Converse shuffling through a maze of students and parents moving in and saying goodbye. Caitlin arrives in front of 217. The door is already open, and she steps inside the colorless room. It looks like a box, is her first thought. Hesitant, she walks further into the tiny, square room boasting a single window and smelling like stale air. Along both vertical walls stand a twin-sized bed, desk, and three wooden shelves. Closets guard the single door on either side.

[pullquote author =”Chloe Woodmansee”]”I wanted to live in the Village so I could more easily meet other students and hopefully experience a kind of college community.”[/pullquote]

“When I first moved in my freshman year, I was hesitant and worried I’d made a mistake by living on campus,” says Hamer. “The room was small with little privacy. But I loved it, and don’t regret it.” The Mary Park residence hall was renamed in 1981 for the dorm’s beloved custodian, Mary Park, after having been called Merced Hall for decades due to its close proximity to Lake Merced. The exemplary employee trained student custodians throughout her three decades of service, teaching them the value of strong work ethics. Park not only cared for both the Mary Park and Mary Ward dormitories, she cared for the students who resided within their walls.

Besides the Village and dorms, students also have the option of living in the newly renovated Towers at Centennial Square apartments that opened to students in 2004. The Science and Technology Community is another option, giving priority housing to those majoring in the scientific and technological fields. These housing units are all within a short walking distance from another, essentially creating a small college-like town.
Living on campus does hold some disadvantages. Both going to school and living on campus leaves some students feelings cheated out of a true San Francisco living experience. “I kind of feel like I missed out on the city experience by living on campus,” says Hamer. Kelly Morgan, a junior living in the Village, agrees. “I’m just too tired after school and work to go into the city,” says Morgan. “It’s easy to stay home, on campus. So yeah, sometimes I feel I’m missing out on getting to know the true San Francisco.”

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Maintenance and pest problems are another sore spot for campus residents. “I’ve had some problems with pests in the past that I wish they would do something about,” says Hamer. Junior Bree Ryan’s main complaint is maintenance related. “Our garbage disposal breaks down every other week,” says Ryan. “And we usually have to wait around a week for the maintenance man to come fix it. It can get frustrating.” Amer, with her broken toilet, says things like this are the only downfall to campus living. “I like living at school, I do,” says Amer. “But having a broken toilet, or broken anything, every couple weeks gets old, and annoying.”

Walking on a sunny day through the Village, past Subway and the Village Market, students can be seen eating some greasy pizza and sandwiches bursting with lettuce, tomatoes, turkey, and other dressings. Laughter can be heard floating down the Village steps, whispering down the paved walkway leading to the Mary Ward and Mary Park dorms. Students enter the City Eats Dining or Cantina with hungry smiles on their faces. A sense of community is easily felt, and seen. Besides the occasional broken toilet or bug, on campus living seems to be worth it for those who have experience it. “The community aspect is what really sold me on living here, though,” says Amer. “It’s fun, the people are great. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”