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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

20% More Life

I don't know about you guys, but a lot of people I know are not really feeling the holiday spirit right now. I took this photo in Chinatown last week. The shop owners there are sometimes standing outside, asking people to come into their stores to look around. There are not many tourists or wanderers like me on the street to ask.

Normally by this time of year, I could expect random pummeling on the train coming home because we'd be picking up loads of holiday shoppers at Powell Station, where Union Square and the big mall are. Last year I can't tell you how many times we were smashed into strange configurations trying to accommodate lots of bags stuffed with stuff and excited shoppers bragging about their purchases.

So far this year, I haven't been smashed by an overloaded shopping bag once. Our office is adjacent to luxury shops such as Prada, Chanel, de Beers, and Hermes, to name a few, which are almost empty. And the other stores, like H&M, The Gap and MNG, have big red signs in the windows: 20-60% off! Buy One Get One Free! These signs feel desperate to me. And still the shoppers are scant. Some stores keep their doors open and you can feel the heat wafting out into the cold air. I guess enticing people into a store with a blast of warm air isn't nearly enough now.


Not going into too much detail, but starting next year me and some of my peeps will be having more free time on our hands during the week. I will be having about 20% more time, to be exact.

I'm going to look at it that way instead of having 20% less of something else.

One thing that could mean is that I'll be able to take 20% more photographs than normal. I really want to go back to Chinatown and explore more. Ever since I finished my book on The Mission, I feel like I didn't give Chinatown enough of my attention.

For instance, this photo was taken inside the Ma-Tsu Temple on Beckett Street. I had only taken photos from the outside previously. This little temple is full of shrines, gods and hundreds of incense sticks burning in urns filled with sand.

And this photo is the doorway of a divey bar all the way at the end of Grant Street. I had never walked to the end of Grant before, or else just had not noticed this space.

And these little men... just waiting to live under a bonsai tree as a souvenir of someone's San Francisco adventure. More chances to play with my macro lens.

And then the food in Chinatown is good and cheap. Dim sum-- you can get two chao siu bau for $1.00. Or har gow, 3 for $1.50.

And this is called a Chinese pancake: sticky, sweet glutinous rice filled with red bean paste. It's delicious and only costs $.60. Budget dessert.

Taking pictures is free but the enjoyment of capturing a perfect image is priceless. I have my beat up walking boots that were purchased for the Acqua alta in Venice, and now have trod many streets of San Francisco in them. And batteries are cheap.


What do you wish you had 20% more of?

Besides the extra time, I think I would like to have:

20% more compassion
20% more brain power and memory
20% more good eating habits and exercise
20% more surprises

We'll see how it goes.


Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 1:51 PM  

Sorry about the hit on the income, Still enjoying the blog. I hope your newly freed time leads to something great!

Mia December 16, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

Hey! Sorry to bother you, hope you don't mind...I've only just started reading your blog and I think it's really cool! Anyway, I just wanted to add my tuppence:

20% more courage.

tangobaby December 16, 2008 at 2:05 PM  

Hey silliyak,

As long as it remains 20%, I think it'll be okay...perhaps I'll accomplish 20% more writing, too! Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Mia,

No bother at all. Welcome. And I agree with you entirely. 20% more courage is a wonderful idea. ;-)

Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 2:48 PM  

Mia's comment reminded me of a favorite movie, Nobody's Fool, and the scene about being brave with a stopwatch.
Maybe you could use your day off to throw shoes at deserving politicians. (Is that a redundancy?)
With your spare time, may I recommend Drunken Housewife as a blog to read? It's a nice little community. She's in SF, a good vegetarian cook, great stories etc And after finding out what happened when we met, you may ban me from your blog!

Mia December 16, 2008 at 2:54 PM  

I've seen that! I was thinking of it when I wrote that comment, actually.

And I reckon that throwing shoes at undeserving politicians isn't gonna do much. It'll be a waste of shoes, though!

tangobaby December 16, 2008 at 3:46 PM  

Hi guys,

I think Nobody's Fool stars the late, great Paul Newman? I have not seen that film but thank you for the recommendation. And Mia, I agree with you. A good pair of shoes is not worth wasting on a dumb politician! Hopefully in 2009, Americans won't have as many politicians worthy of beaning with a shoe.

tangobaby December 16, 2008 at 3:47 PM  

ps. And I will check out Drunken Housewife at some point. I don't know any drunken housewives and maybe I should.

the armchair child December 16, 2008 at 4:07 PM  

I like your writing style.

I could well be back.

Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Let your significant other know there's boobage in Nobody's Fool (Melanie Griffith and someone else)
It has some memorable lines. My favorite being about arming morons.

Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Let your significant other know there's boobage in Nobody's Fool (Melanie Griffith and someone else)
It has some memorable lines. My favorite being about arming morons.

Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Let your significant other know there's boobage in Nobody's Fool (Melanie Griffith and someone else)
It has some memorable lines. My favorite being about arming morons.

Liz December 16, 2008 at 5:47 PM  

It's been far to long since I've been to San Fran and Chinatown and I miss it!! It's where I learned to eat with chopsticks and discovered Tiger Balm...

20% more... it would be time. Specifically time with my kids and husband. Working full time makes it difficult to fit in all the fun stuff I'd like to do with them.

Silliyak December 16, 2008 at 5:54 PM  

Sorry about the multiple comments, apparently the mammary of Melanie Griffith (I mean MEMORY) caused blood flow to go somewhere other than to my brain/fingers.

Johanna December 16, 2008 at 6:32 PM  

Holy Cow TB. I can barely keep up with you now! But I adore your perspective. And your film list. I decided to comment on both posts at once, and that saved me 20% more time to read more of your posts.

Red Shoes December 16, 2008 at 6:34 PM  

20% more self-discipline. Boy am I behind on my schoolwork! And, uh, I need to go to the gym. Too many cookies.

Related: 20% more mental focus.

20% more self-respect, too. Because everyone can use that.

Char December 16, 2008 at 7:57 PM  

excellent blog - I especially love the shot of the little men waiting to be shaded by the bonsai.

my 20% - I will have 20% more time with my loved ones as I've been freed to return home. I will have 20% more time to figure out how to start over. I will have 20% more time to forgive myself for feeling helpless in a situation that was never in my control.

and...I will be thankful for all of these things.

ModernTanguera December 16, 2008 at 9:45 PM  

Red Shoes beat me to it - I need 20% more discipline. Eek!

Also, I could use 20% more tidiness. I have a lot of clutter.

Sorry to hear about the job situation, but you have a valiant attitude about it!

namastenancy December 16, 2008 at 10:23 PM  

Sorry about the 20% pay cut; I've been there too but at UC, they cut our pay but kept piling the work on. However, as I may have mentioned before, they are not the most considerate or ethical of employers. I hope that this translates into 20% more time for photography walks and I volunteer to accompany you. Plus, buy the lunch - my means are modest but I always have enough for lunch for a fellow blogger.

Super Mom December 17, 2008 at 12:20 AM  

Hi tango baby...I just started reading your blog about 1 week ago and I really like it - I read every post since then (I'm still trying to spare time to read your old posts). FYI, I just started my own blog too and I wonder when I can write as good & as interesting as yours.

julochka December 17, 2008 at 12:38 AM  

20% more laughter

and access to the 20% of my brain that is currently filled with useless song lyrics...

i look forward to seeing your 20% more pictures...love the little bonzai guys...the remind me of a mini and modern version of the terracotta warriors...

A Cuban In London December 17, 2008 at 3:32 AM  

Julochka hit the nail on the head. More humour, we need people to laugh, laugh out loud with vigour and vim. Forget about the wrinkles, when you laugh, make sure you open you mouth wide and let everyone see your teeth, your tongue, your soul. :-D

Greetings from London.

momcat December 17, 2008 at 4:25 AM  

Here's something I could do with and what no-one else seems to have mentioned : 20% more patience. Maybe its a sign of the stress-filled lives we lead but as a Christian I can't use that as an excuse. Especially flying off the handle at my kids because I've had a bad day. Also a bad influence.

Teri December 17, 2008 at 5:22 AM  

Love the post. And the photos bring to mind the things one misses when they don't have 20% more time. Me, I would like 20% more sleep time, with the cats, of course.

Brenda December 17, 2008 at 5:33 AM  

I loved China Town when I was there last. I remember huge frogs, turtles and eels in the food markets. There were jars with roots and all sorts of wonderful things that we aren't used to seeing. I love to shop for tea and dishes.

As far as 20% more of something - I'd like 20% more travel time. My travels have been wonderful eyeopeners. I treasure the memories of seeing great places and learning about the history and the people.

Creator Of The Mastertape December 17, 2008 at 5:49 AM  

20% more people I can trust.
20% more inspiration.
20% more willpower.
20% more once in a lifetime opportunities.
I'm going to subscribe.
Finally, a blog that interests me.
I've found nothing but research or news blogs forever.

My Castle in Spain December 17, 2008 at 6:12 AM  

please don't tempt me with the dim sum !
on serious things...well, the non xmas feeling is very present here too.
In Granada some shops don't even bother to decorate and there are early sales nearly everywhere

i would love to have 20% more French pastry !!

Alyson Button Stone December 17, 2008 at 7:40 AM  

I absolutely adore your photography. I can almost taste that Chinese pancake! (I'll have to look up the recipe...it looks delicious!)

Sorry to hear about having more time on your hands. I know we live in tough financial times. My husband has only recently come out of unemployment. I know it's little comfort but...you are not alone.

d i a n a m u s e December 17, 2008 at 8:08 AM  

This reminds me of something (you're not surprised): Have you noticed that some products (peanut butter, for example) have labels that claim things like "30% more," suggesting to the consumer that s/he is paying the same price for 30% more peanut butter (i.e. getting 30% more peanut butter for free)? Do you think that's what the labelling means? I did. I was wrong. It actually means "30% more than the 30% less size" - and the price is jacked up WAY MORE than 30%. Amazing.

That observation aside, I'd like 20% more sleep. I'd probably leave fewer (maybe 20% fewer) rambling, free-associative blog comments if my brain were more rested.

Chipmonkey December 17, 2008 at 10:04 AM  

I would like 20% more kitten in lap time. Or 20% more kissing husband time. Or 20% more eating breakfast for dinner time. The desire for 20% more time to take photographs, of course. I guess that means I need 80% more time? How about I take a 20% reduction in school - that gets me closer to balance ;)

I was hoping to reduce my work schedule by 20% after the new year so I actually feel a little jealous.

vicki archer December 17, 2008 at 10:08 AM  

20% - maybe I would be greedy and ask for 30%! Actually your list is pretty comprehensive and I would be ever so happy to have 20% more of any one of those things. xv

Uncle Beefy December 17, 2008 at 11:04 AM  

As always...inspiring. I'll go trouncing around Chinatown with you anyday, m'dear. :)

Yoli December 17, 2008 at 11:39 AM  

Julie, I love these pictures, I wish I lived near Chinatown. Keep posting them. My 20%?

20% more happiness...

~K December 17, 2008 at 11:52 AM  


You have a book? How do I get a hold of it? I absolutely love the composition of your photography . i have told several friends about it.

20% more emotional fortitude!

tangobaby December 17, 2008 at 12:36 PM  

Hi guys,

When I went home from work yesterday, I was on the train, totally pooped and so glad it was FRIDAY (now that's a bummer 'cause it was only TUESDAY), so reading all of your replies here was extra special cool.

And on that note, I'll just jump into write you all a little reply:

@Liz: Chopsticks and tiger balm...what a great description. I think you'll see here that your wish for 20% more time is a common theme. I think assigning a percentage to something as valuable as private or free time really shines a light on how circumstances force us to use our time.

I hope you're able to find that increase in family time sans paycut.

@Silliyak: Personally Melanie Griffith and her assets do nothing for me, especially since she's had all of that plastic surgery and looks quite bizarre. But I'm sure The Boy will perk right up at a chance to see some boobs on film. You guys...

@Johanna: I can barely keep up with myself either, so I understand. I am going to hop over and see you because I see there's some sort of photography greatness going on there.

@Red Shoes: Ooh, self-discipline for school. That's a very brave statement, but can one turn around one's study habits? I never could. But then I have great faith in you. And 20% more self respect? That's a good one for all of us, I wager.

Thank you for the cookies. They were delicious. I ate them for breakfast. xo

@Char: I thought of you when I wrote this. I know you will spend all of your 20 percents very wisely. And I am excited to see what beautiful art might result from that time.

I'm glad you liked that photo. It's quickly become one of my favorites.

@Modern Tanguera: I am wondering if my 20% will go towards cleaning house. I am like you... I don't necessarily spend my free time making things tidy.

@namastenancy: No need to spring for lunch but I'm looking forward to some walks and art explorations with you...in fact, that was one of the things I first thought of with my 20%. ;-)

@Super Mom: Wow. What a huge compliment. Thank you. I think that the writing and your style will come the more you explore it. I know that in devoting more time to writing, it's become easier for me. So keep writing, keeping in mind it's basically for yourself and the rest is gravy. Don't write for us. Write what you like and what you know and then try to learn from it. I'll check in with you soon.

@julochka: If you came to see me, I could guarantee you 20% more laughter. You won't even have to worry about Duty Free on it.

And I had the EXACT SAME THOUGHT about the little guys and the terracotta warriors!!! No shit.

Is it a rule that if you have the same name as someone else that you like, that you automatically have the same thoughts? How does that work?

@Cuban: I have a pretty good laugh, loud and all of that but I don't know if people can see my teeth. Or my uvula.

I have The Boy around to provide me with daily doses of laughs, so I've probably got that covered.

@momcat: I think it is really hard to have patience. That's probably something I should add to my list. We live in difficult times though. And we can't live unaffected by what's around us. Perhaps having 20% more patience for ourselves will mean that we can have 20% more patience for others? ;-)

@Teri: Exactly. Right now I take pictures whenever I have free seconds. Those were taken during a lunch break. Now I'll try to devote more time to just allowing myself to take pictures, when I can and not when I have a spare second. Ditto the sleep time!

@Brenda: I am going to put up more Chinatown photos for you when I have them. I think you'll really enjoy them and it'll remind you of your visit.

I agree with you about the time for travel. Travel can be such a wonderful sharing experience on many levels. I cherish the opportunities I've had to see other parts of the world. I hope you get that 20%, too.

@Creator of the Mastertape (cool blog name, btw): I agree with all of your choices here. I think that the 20% inspiration might be the seed that leads to the others? If you have more inspiration, it will lead you to the right people, places and opportunties, which might give you that added 20% willpower?

how's that for a program?

And thanks for the compliment. There are lots of blogs out there, and lots of good ones, but of course I feel like a superstar if someone enjoys mine. Thanks again.

@My castle in Spain: Oh Lala, you can only have that 20% if I am with you. What shall it be? Laduree? Pierre Herme? Lenotre? First come here for dim sum and then we can decide together.

Wish I was in Granada with you and Moncheri for a holiday!

@Alyson Button Stone: Thank you so much for the compliment. I'll try to find the real name for you because I'm sure "Chinese Pancake" is not what it's really called (that's for the tourists) and if you can make one, more power to you.

I think the more time on my hands will be nice for a change...but I appreciate your concern and thank you.

@dianamuse: I know exactly what you mean. That's why KitKats are such a ripoff now. All candy is smaller and more expensive.

Since the 20% is up to me to use as I may, I guess the only one to blame if I am unsatisfied with it is ME.

I like free association rambles. I follow pretty well, and heck, you seem to have me all figured out.

@chipmonkey: Can I come to your house and have your 20% of kitten in lap time? I'll feed them.

I agree with the 20% reduction in school because I never get to see you. Frankly, I'd try to make you drop out, but purely for selfish reasons.

@vicki archer: I think I'll stick with 20% right now so that I know I can afford to pay my rent and buy groceries and such...but who knows, maybe I'll discover a new way of adapting!

@Uncle Beefy: You know that I would TOTALLY love that! Get down here! Say the woid.

tangobaby December 17, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

Hi K,

Sorry, I think our comments passed like ships in the night.

You can check out my books in the sidebar of the blog, where the blurb widgets are. The Mission book in particular I adore. The Chinatown book I will be redoing, so I'm not as thrilled with it now because I want to beef it up.

You can see some cool little flash previews of the books if you click on the widgets. Let me know what you think.

And thanks for asking!

Bill Stankus December 17, 2008 at 12:59 PM  

I prefer getting rid of 20% (or more) - subtraction instead of addition.

The last time I took photos in Chinatown, I was on the sidewalk shooting the front of a store (meat market) and the shop owner-manager came charging outside and began gesturing wildly and yelling stuff in Chinese at me. So I walked away...my friend, an Asian American, told me the shop owner probably thought I was from the city's health inspection dept.

tangobaby December 17, 2008 at 1:04 PM  

Hi Bill,

I know what you mean. I have another friend who got in trouble doing the same thing and I think I might even know what meat market it was.

As far as the subtraction goes, I don't have a car or a tv. I also don't have any retirement savings (thanks Wall Street!) so I'm wondering what else I can subtract. Not the manicures. Definitely not them.

paris parfait December 17, 2008 at 1:14 PM  

Oh honey, I know you're going to make the most of your time and will have good things result. Can't wait to see more photos of Chinatown and everything your eye trains. I went to the doctor for antibiotics (finally) and she asked to hang my photos in the waiting room of her new office! xoxox

paris parfait December 17, 2008 at 1:15 PM  

Uh, that was meant to be everywhere your eye trains or focuses on - hello, still dizzy - antibiotics haven't kicked in, apparently. As for the shoppers on the train, it's the same in Paris - people are spending and shopping less (particularly when explosives are planted in the biggest and oldest department store). xoxox

Bill Stankus December 17, 2008 at 1:36 PM  

I should clarify - my subtraction would include getting rid of petty distractions, clutter in the workshop, losing weight, no watching useless TV, losing stress ... that sort of stuff.

Relyn December 17, 2008 at 3:10 PM  

I'm with Bill. I'd like

20% less work to take home
20% fewer parents who don't read to their children
20% fewer bills

I'd happily take your 20% though.

Super Mom December 17, 2008 at 9:36 PM  

Thanks so much for taking the time replying to my comment. It's a big encouragement for me. I too think it's time for me to devote myself seriously into something I like.

J Lehr December 19, 2008 at 1:59 AM  

I like the little bonsai guys..macro lens looks great!

Susan December 19, 2008 at 8:00 PM  

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