I’ve been looking to buy a house here in Oakland and the whole experience is a bit surreal. I’ll save you the blow by blow, but looking at home values, school rankings, and the OPD’s crime map; a few things jump out at me.
Firstly, people talk a lot about crime in Oakland but looking at that map there’s crime almost everywhere (except Albany apparently – it’s a big blank spot on the crime map. Either criminals avoid Albany like Kryptonite or they just don’t report their crime statistics).
Secondly, the quality of education a child receives in California varies even within a city. This is not terribly surprising – lower income students whose parents are working two jobs to survive lack the support at home that wealthier kids get and are more likely to require extra resources to thrive. What is surprising is not that there is disparity, but the degree of the disparity.
To put it bluntly, it is a crime that there are ANY 1-star public schools. Continue reading →
Grey clouds still obscured the sky but the day was finally getting warmer, and about time too! After months of a spring that felt more like winter, John was ready for a little sunshine. The weather forecast all week had been sunny but so far the clouds had managed to maintain their grip on the world and shut out the sun like curtains over an insomniacs bedroom window.
Unfortunately, John had been up since well before dawn. Up at two, at work by three, and hours alone in front of the oven before laying eyes on another human at 6 when he opened the shop. The early risers weren’t much good for conversation even then – most were barely awake enough to walk in a straight line and grasp their coffee cups like life rafts. Even with the new Starbucks that had gone in right across the street, his shop was still full most mornings – his bacon and egg croissants were the stuff of legend. And while his coffee wasn’t as fancy or sugary, most of his customers seemed perfectly happy to be able to order a “Large” instead of a “Grande.”
Today though, John was tired – a crying baby makes a poor room mate and neither he nor Anna had slept much in months. There’s only so much caffeine can substitute for sleep after all! And the Starbucks was doing one of their endless promotions, drawing away his customers and leaving him with more than the usual number of unsold pastries. He gave the leftovers to the guy from the homeless shelter who came by at closing time every day – at least they wouldn’t go to waste! But with his wife staying home to take care of Molly, every dollar was precious and far too many of them went into the donation bag.
He made his way home slowly, feet tired from standing all day. Finally, his door, his home. A wife tired and almost certainly cranky after spending all day with an infant. Once more into the breach! And in the door. Kiss the wife, take off the shoes, take the baby, and sit in his chair by the window to try and rock her to sleep. To his great surprise, Molly didn’t cry or fuss but settled down and fell asleep on his chest almost immediately. As if on cue, the sun broke through the cloud cover and streamed in through the window like liquid gold.
It was a good day.