Friday, December 26, 2014

SolarCity's Lyndon Rive - His Vision for the Bay Area?

According to the New York Times, Lyndon Rive was born in South Africa around 1977. He first came to the state of California in 1998 to compete in his favorite sport - underwater hockey. He eventually decided that California is the place to go as Santa Clara County is home to the Silicon Valley.

From there, the article to me does not question about his vision for SolarCity - instead, the article rather questions about his Bay Area, and what he likes best about the entire Bay Area. Both the Rive brothers, Lyndon and Peter, certainly likes technology, which is perhaps one possible reason why the Bay Area is special to them.

The second thing that could be on their mind is the weather - California has plenty of sunny days during the summer with no rain in the forecast. South Africa also has a similar climate like California, but with December summers and June winters.

Besides just SolarCity itself, another possible reason for why the Bay Area is the Rives' favorite destination is the location and contribution to knowing to solve air pollution problems. Both of the Rive' brothers are aware of the growing traffic problems in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara Counties, where traffic has been increasing. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Caltrain, SamTrans, and San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) have been trying to improve their bus and rail infrastructure for many years to reduce the use of foreign oil, which seems to be SolarCity's mission and somewhat part of Rives' main vision for SolarCIty.

The Rive' brothers and their cousin, Elon Musk, who also is part of Tesla Motors, has a strong relationship between Tesla and SolarCity.

However, given that many articles seem to address the reasons behind Lyndon Rive's move to the Bay Area from South Africa, the public, including myself, won't actually know what the true reasons of why the Rive brothers chose the Bay Area besides just their vision for SolarCity.

NOTE: The above picture is a flyer given out to people addressing why SolarCity is proclaimed to be the top full service solar provider. Trademarks shown in the picture (including the flyer in the picture) belong to the respective owners.

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak

INVESTIGATION - BART's Fare Alignment to Change? And More Coming?

Has anyone recalled seeing my previous blog on problems with fares on 511's website? The Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which manages the 511 website in the Bay Area, has been under my microscope for at least a couple of years with my first mention about the MTC back in March 2014. If you did recall in my investigation, BART's fares has been inaccurate and still does not match the 511 website's trip planner, which could be several dollars off the actual fare paid in cash or Clipper card.

511's trip planner before my blog was up may have created a lot of embarrassment at both the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in terms of fare alignment. The former is currently creating the latter's new tracks for the extension to both Milpitas and San Jose's Berryessa station, with construction currently in progress.

As I have been saying, most Bay Area transit agencies have a youth fare policy that defines between the ages of 5 to 17 or 18 years old, but BART's fare alignment and policy does not match that of what most Bay Area transit agencies utilize. Meanwhile, VTA introduced a new fare policy that would upgrade the upper age limit for youths from 17 to 18 years old.

Recent developments hinted by a BART employee at the debut of the Oakland Airport extension pointed to big debates at BART headquarters in Oakland not long after my investigative blog was up online. BART board members were aware of my blog's insight into how BART's fare table is not the same as how transit agencies are using a fare policy for youth, senior, and the disabled. This also applies to commenting on BART's website, which I exposed that the word limit for commenting is only 1000 words.

The employee at the event also told me that extending the upper age limit from 12 to 17 or 18 has been going on for at least a couple of years with no results. Currently, riders between the ages of 13 to 17 must pay the full adult fare to ride BART from one destination to another. Big debates on the fare alignment were at times fierce, pointing to similar fare policies that already took place on almost all transit agencies except BART themselves. There is still no consensus or timeline of whether BART even plans to change their fare policy to match the youth, senior, and disabled with those of most Bay Area transit agencies.

But still, BART has not yet consulted with other transit agencies around the Bay Area to see what their fare policies are, and how BART intends to improve their service based on the age structure and those that are seniors and/or disabled. Even at my last check-up on 511's website, most transit agencies have accurate fare information in all categories except for BART.

Even more disturbing to my findings after my repeated reviews of BART's three booklets that addresses reduced fares reveals that BART has never published a fare table for both the youth and the senior/disabled one review of the booklet after another (the most recent review was in September 2014), despite mentioning of the 62.5% discount mentioned on both BART's website and on several BART-related booklets obtained at the Fremont BART station. Instead, BART opts users to go directly to BART's website and figure out what the actual fare is, rendering 511's website information on BART fares for the youth, senior, and disabled completely useless. Furthermore, for instance, the difference between the two BART booklets between 2012 and 2014 revealed very little change except for the slight increase in adult fares.

A 511 spokesman told me via a private message in my earlier blog stated that BART may have introduced a fare table formula that is not in line with other Bay Area transit agencies, which still questions me about BART's accurate fare information discrepancies published on both BART's website and 511's website. BART's general manager, Grace Crunican, several of BART's board members, and other BART representatives have yet to respond to the fare discrepancies published on 511's website. Most recently, Caltrain and VTA has already passed their actions uniting the upper youth age limit to 18 years old as part of the Bay Area's effort to have a standardized youth age. Both of them joins Golden Gate Transit's standardized youth age on their buses, with possibly more transit agencies around the Bay Area to follow.

San Jose city councilman Ash Klara and transit advocate Chris Lepe offered no comment on my findings related to the structure of BART fares as BART extends to Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, Santa Clara County supervisor Dave Cortese also was involved in the investigation as he was part of the board at the MTC when I was at the groundbreaking for the Bay Area's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, as well as an event at the Bay Area Chrysanthemum Growers Association. At San Jose State University, San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra offered no comment. But the question still lingers in the air on not only extensions of BART, but also BART's adjustment on their fare policy for the youth and the senior/disabled. It is still unknown whether BART wants to proceed with an improved look to their new fare policy. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

INVESTIGATION - Illegal Activities on Bay Area Streets - New Emergance of More Illegal Activity and Who's Behind It

You have seen many articles on sideshows from local Bay Area television stations. Sideshows in Oakland, taking place right in front of news choppers and the California Highway Patrol. But my blog also shows more disturbing examples of more illegal activity, including the possible filming of a movie that has been emerged from social media and possibly on YouTube.

His name is "MostCesar Perez" on social media. His Twitter and Instagram accounts are also active, though named differently. He often has done projects for "Go Der Magazine" (pronounced as "Go Dare"). He is often busy with his projects.

But while Perez is busy, I am investigating his most recent work that could be associated with dangerous and reckless driving, even filming on the streets where on some properties, it is not legal.

A photo posted by respectmost (@respectmost) on

The picture on Instagram shows the illegal activity that happened near the intersection of 7th and Maritime Streets near the port of Oakland. But Perez was unaware of his actions that could be the subject of a police investigation. The project that Perez is doing associates with Bay Area Racing, using the hashtag, #BARMovie on both Twitter and Instagram. He wanted to show that movie to his friends, including those that are participants of the potential illegal activity.

Newscasts that aired on local television stations over the Thanksgiving holiday showed illegal sideshows at the Port of Oakland. But the concern is not just on the sideshows. It is also the racing part that caught my attention when the Instagram post showed the nearly identical scene of where the sideshow took place. At least two of the television helicopters showed what exactly was on the scene, which some of the action may be on Bay Area Racing's YouTube page.

My investigation uncovered that Bay Area Racing had big secret plans, which all of those included posts that alerted fans only on the day that the illegal activity was due to take place and asking fans to repost on social media, especially on Instagram. Bay Area Racing chose Perez to direct the film that is still in the works, but the illegal activity portion is likely much of a concern to law enforcement.

Under California state law, sideshow activities are strictly prohibited as sideshows and other illegal activities poses a serious threat to the public. So far, however, Perez is unable to comment on my latest findings involving illegal activities, including sideshows, street races, drag races, and so on. Still, Bay Area Racing has chosen to break the rules by utilizing the Port of Oakland as a place to do illegal activities. It is unknown when Bay Area Racing has started, and if they were aware of who was really keeping an eye.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Past - Remembering Chef Tyler Stone - Chef with Great Fun!

You probably could name all of the light rail stations going to San Mateo, where there is one chef that is one of my favorite attractions... Santa Teresa, Cottle, Snell, Blossom Hill, Ohlone-Chynoweth... Branham, Capitol, Curtner, Tamien, Virginia... Children's Discovery Museum, Convention Center, Paseo de San Antonio, Santa Clara... Then on VTA and SamTrans bus systems, arriving eventually at the San Mateo County Fair... The destination with all the fun and all the discoveries... That is how I got to the scene back in 2013. While not as large as the Alameda County Fair, San Mateo's version is somewhat large enough for a lot of fun, even for the whole family.

But how I got there was planned in part by using trip planning sites. For the three days I was there, my travel method is generally using my Clipper card from VTA's Santa Teresa station to downtown San Jose at the Santa Clara (Street) Station, which I transferred to a bus and eventually SamTrans and back, with the exception of at least one of my return trips being on Caltrain and VTA's light rail. The systems are part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Clipper Card program, who currently serves most of the Bay Area, with more transit agencies to follow suit.

Bargain hunting was only part of how I spent my three days at the San Mateo County Fair. Yes, I meant hunting for the best deals around town. But out of my three days, none of the items were interesting apart from another cooking demonstration provided by an unknown chef that also have appeared at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

In another hall is a cooking demonstration. There is no Jacques Pepin, who I wish that he would appear on stage for a public demonstration of his cooking skills, including my favorite part of how his method of breaking his eggs against a flat surface instead of a bowl would prevent contamination. But on the stage is not Pepin, who he is typically busy with other important things. Instead, there was a guy who was revealed to be Chef Tyler Stone, who his personal chef business is based out of California's state capital, Sacramento. The first time I purchased Stone's book, "The Kid's Cooking" (released in 2006), I read a little about his bio and learned that since he was four, his passion for being a cook grew dramatically. In addition, the front cover of his book revealed that their parents was part of Stone's dedication to his great passion.

Chef Stone was seen on national television programs, such as Top Chef. On local Sacramento television, he did cooking demonstrations - for instance, a search on KCRA's YouTube page uncovered at least three videos. Chef Stone does show great promise on his overall abilities. He did tell me at one time that he would love to do a gig in the future at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

One of the most interesting things about the chef is that his mom is the manager! I recalled from my past that she was very polite and wonderful, as Stone was encouraged to follow his dream of being a chef.

In his off-time, when Chef Stone is not cooking, one of his favorite things to watch is anime, who his friend from Japan creates kitchen knives as Stone distributes them to consumers throughout the United States. I was unsure of Stone's favorite anime shows, though, but one example that reminded me of his cooking experience is Yakitate Japan. He would probably know something on food-related anime topics. Chef Stone probably never recalled seeing me on that day at the event, but I'll be surprised if Stone does read and rings me up via e-mail, or on my Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram pages. (For Facebook, keep in mind that I generally do not read messages unless the person is on my "Friend" list for my personal safety.)

But who knows if I'll ever see Chef Stone in person again, and if I will ever see him at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The storyline will, at the least, continue whenever I do get a chance to see him. For now, I'll try one of his recipes from his cookbook. 

Happy Cooking to all! 

1. You can connect with Chef Tyler Stone on Twitter and Facebook. He has an online site where anyone can purchase his products, including the lemon vinegar, various seasonings, kitchen knives, and his signed cookbook, "The Kid's Cooking." Those can be ordered online by clicking here.

2. Click here for the site of Chef Tyler Stone. Besides ordering his goodies, users can learn more on his cooking experience.

Original Work: Kyle Chak
On Twitter/Instagram: @KyleSChak