Apartment Living: Parking hell

Unlike most posts, this isn't about our apartment, but instead the duplexes across the street. Last night was a 3 round doosy of a fight. All the 4 letter words were dragged out.

The situation:

Across the street are duplexes. Two unit "houses", with two garages. One garage for each unit.

All of these garages are converted into illegal apartments. No way would the city code office permit these.

Thus a duplex is really a faux quadplex. Each house has four families living there, with 4 (or 6 or 8) automobiles. And no garage parking. So all these cars cram into the concrete pad.

The start of the fight:

The quadplex across the street, the same one with the parties that happen any day ending in "Y" takes up almost all of the concrete pad. They even have a "classic" car under a cover that is permanently parked there, as well as a boat on the street.

The tenant on one of the far side units of the illegal quadplex often has his car boxed in. He has torn out his undercarriage going over the curb to get in and out. He, rightly in my opinion, believes that he shouldn't be this inconvenienced.

Last night the simmering pot boiled over. Fuck you's, motherfuckers, bitches, whores, and a lot of other colorful language started flying around 7:00 PM. Lasting until almost 8, we thought "Phew, it is done". Not so. Started again at 9:00, and I just gave up.

Yep, life never gets boring.

Apartment Living – The Edge of Poverty

One thing that living in an “affordable” apartment complex is that you live among people who are near the poverty line. No desperate poor, but people who are close. There are many signs, but one sure sign is the ubiquitous “Swisher Sweets” wrappers.

Not being a smoker, I wasn’t very aware of the small flavored cigarillos that are sold at convenience stores. Small, dark paper (like a cigar, not a cigarette) and often with wild flavors. Orange, Chocolate, Cherry, and others, they are popular with kids (those near 18) as they were inexpensive, and sold in singles or three at a time.

These wrappers are all over the apartment grounds
These wrappers are all over the apartment grounds

When the cost of a package of cigarettes approaching $9.00, the less taxed flavored cigarillos is a popular option. That and the fact that they can be bought in singles or in small packages. A couple bucks will buy a 3 pack, or about 70 cents each. Popular when you live dollar by dollar.

I know that they are popular here, as you can’t walk without seeing the empty wrappers everywhere. On dog walks, or even cycling in the neighborhood, you see them all over.

It is sobering to be reminded on such small items of how close to poverty many people live today.

Update: A friend who shall be nameless mentioned that there is possibly another explanation for all the Swisher Sweets wrappers, than people who could only afford a couple of smokes at a time. Apparently they are opened up, the tobacco stripped out, and then stuffed with marijuana. We might have a pot-head problem instead of a poverty problem.  Not sure that is better though.

Apartment Living – irresponsible dog owners

We are lucky to have found an apartment complex that welcomes our greyhounds. Especially after a brief survey of the houses (that rent for more than $1200 a month more) are mostly no pets, or cats only, this is quite a find. However, I wish that all the dog owners here would just clean up after their dogs.

Part of the problem I believe is that until recently, they had a 25# limit on dogs. That means that there are lots of small dogs. Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Boston Terriers are common. These diminutive canines produce stools that are roughly the size of Tootsie Rolls, so their owners probably think that is “too small” to have to pick up. Sigh.

Alas, walking on any of the grassy areas is navigating a minefield of little poop-bombs.

Convenient receptacles for pet waste with baggies
Convenient receptacles for pet waste with baggies

It is not like there aren’t trash cans all over with “poopie” bag dispensers. I count 4 of them, all conveniently located near the large grassy areas.

Or, there are three parking lots with multiple trash dumpsters. Yes, that means you need to carry your own bags. We do. Having larger dogs (Greyhounds), we appreciate the heavier duty “Mutt Mitts“, as they are better suited for the larger stools.

Of course, the rules are clear that you must clean up after your animals. But that is about as effective as the “No Smoking” signs in the common areas.

Heavy sigh.

Apartment Living – Now the party house is a car repair…

More on the trials and tribulations of living in an apartment, this time, the house across the street has stepped up their game beyond the 4 nights a week of parties. Now they are doing auto repair.

Yep, auto repair. Changing oil, replacing starters, installing LOUD stereo systems, and fart cans on cheap Japanese econoboxes.

It is a joy, especially since they start at about 6 PM. Nothing like unmuffled motorcycles buzzing up and down the street. I think I prefer the parties, the fights, and the police activity.

Then last week, an honest to god street race on Sunday night. About 8:00 PM two cars pull up, a chase car behind them, and redline clutch drop. Sigh.

I hope we can one day afford to buy a house.

Apartment Living – Friday Night Sights and Sounds

Friday night is party night, right? (Well, if you are the asshats in the duplex across the street, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are party nights, but I digress …) Ah yes, the outdoor activities are up.

Kids are playing Soccer out front of our door. Cool, except they keep kicking it into the wall and our door. Fortunately there are no windows to break within reach.

The teenagers are coalescing around the play ground. Not sure if they are going to neck, smoke dope, or leave used condoms around. Probably all three. (yes, there are often used condoms lying around. Ewww)

As I mentioned in the leader, the duplex directly across the street is beginning their “party”. About 9:00 AM, they will move cars out, and then the driveway becomes an impromptu dance floor. If we are lucky, it will break up around 1:00 AM without any verbal shouting. But, I am not feeling very lucky.

I sit here at my computer, listening to some Return to Forever, something magic about Chick Corea and Al Di Meola… Makes it all better.

Update: Yep, at midnight, there was police activity. Some loud arguing at the side of the street (about a bad parallel parking job?) prompted someone to call the po po.  My friday night was complete.

Apartment Living – Bad and Good

There are many bad things about living in a less than great neighborhood. But also some really good things. This is a mixed bag post.

First, the bad


Early this week, while walking my dogs, I stepped in some dog feces. One of the hazards regardless of how nice the neighborhood is, no matter how cultured (or not) the residents are, people walking their dogs are very negligent in picking up their dog’s droppings.

Instead of tracking it into my apartment, I left my Teva’s to let the poop dry so I could shake it off. But the next morning I step outside to shake the shit off, and they are gone. Someone decided that they needed my sandals more than me, and took them.

They were well worn, so I am not going to cry a river, but it does seem petty that footwear isn’t safe.

Early phone calls

Our master bedroom faces over the patio(s) in our bank of units (it also faces a busy street, but that is a different story).

Of course, that means we hear the wild parties across the street (2 – 3 nights a week), and the drunken fights that happen as the parties breakup. Bad enough.

This morning, at 4:00 AM, our neighbor is on his patio talking to a (suspected ex) love interest. Not fighting, but loud, a mix of english and spanish, and a lot of sad sap pleading about how much he loved her and can’t live without her.

For over an hour.


Next, the good


Last night, walking the dogs, there was a small mariachi band practicing on the steps of one of the apartments. Guitar, Accordion, and horns.

Not that I am aficionado, but they were quite good.

Well, that is all for this episode of Apartment Living.

A Tale of Two Apartments

When we first moved back to the Santa Clara area, we were put up at a newish apartment complex in Sunnyvale. When that month of free rent expired, we moved into an affordable apartment in South San Jose. This will compare and contrast these two experiences.

Sunnyvale: Avalon Apartments

The Avalon Apartments were built in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. They are modern, well appointed and very functional. There was wired internet (although our relo package included Comcast Xfinity cable and internet), plenty of power outlets, and a reasonable floor plan. It was a 1 bedroom, so it was a bit cramped, but we dealt with it.

Located at Lawrence Expressway and the 101 freeway, it was built in a formerly heavy business district. So a lot of the amenities that you find in communities were missing. The nearest Safeway or Lucky’s supermarket was 4 – 5 miles away, there were plenty of fast food/lunch type places, but few real restaurants. Typical of what you experience in office-park hell, which is where this was located.

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Apartment Living – Competitive Scrap Metal

Yesterday morning, I took the recycling out, and upon putting it in the recycling bin, I noticed that a whole shopping cart was in the dumpster. I wanted to come back for a picture, to point out the insanity, but a scavenger was working it. So today I carried my camera out to grab a picture.

I shouldn’t have bothered. The shopping cart was stripped of all metal. The frame, the stiffening rods, even the bearings in the wheels. All that was left was the plastic basket.

I have never seen so thorough of a stripping job. It is like the scavengers here are fucking metal piranhas, anything that might have any commercial value is stripped clean.

Living in an apartment is a lot of fun.

Classic TV – The Rockford Files

With the recent passing of the legendary James Garner I have once again tossed the hit TV series “The Rockford Files” onto my Netflix streaming list. I had gone through the series a few years ago, reminiscing about my childhood, but this time it was to honor the memory of James.

It is astounding how well the stories hold up to time. Written and filmed in the mid 1970’s, the stories are timeless, and entertaining today. Yes, technology is better, and a lot of the tricks of the trade employed by the main character wouldn’t fly today, in all it still makes for amazingly entertaining watching.

One fixture in the show, is Rockford’s trailer, parked on the beach. Unassuming from the outside, and remarkably spacious on the inside, it is a comforting prop to the show.

Of course, now that I am looking for a house here in California, and I might slip down into “manufactured home” territory (thanks to my shitty relocation company) I look on Rockford’s trailer with envy. Great location, and boy, how spacious is it inside.

Answer: far more spacious than it really is. Alas, the interior filming was done on a sound stage, the main reason why the trailer shots aren’t cramped.

Still, a man can dream.

If you have Netflix streaming, I highly recommend tossing this on your list, and watching a few episodes. You will be sucked in and enjoy the time spent.

Apartment Living – near a big school

This Tuesday life changed around our apartment. The big high school started the fall term, and that brought a new level of zaniness. I have posted in the past about the “kid droppers” and the insane risks they take with their precious cargo, but this deserves its own post.

First sign was that I was leaving a few minutes later than usual on Tuesday. Normally not a bigger deal, just a longer queue at the metering lights. BZZZZZT. Can’t get out of the parking lot on to Blossom Hill Blvd. A steady stream of cars, and enough students walking the sidewalk to keep me penned in.


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