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Amparo Bertram

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10:06 am: San Francisco holiday
It has certainly been a busy couple of weeks. I met my parents at the airport after work on May 22, stumbling across them by chance just as I was turning on my cell phone to call them. In the morning, we started with an early breakfast at a nearby restaurant, then we went to San Francisco to check out the farmers' market at the Ferry Building. I picked up several things there, including a pound of biwa for making tarts. From there, we walked along the edge of the water until we came to Pier 39, where we browsed the shops and watched the sea lions hanging out. We walked back through North Beach and Chinatown.

On Sunday morning, we headed back to the city, starting off in the Mission district, where we walked around the neighborhood admiring the murals. Then we lined up to watch the Carnaval parade. I hadn't realized the parade would last three full hours. I filled up my camera with pictures and movies, though most of the best shots were ruined because the press photographers were standing in the street directly in front of the performers. A lot of my shots mostly show photographers' backs. My camera battery gave up at around the two hour mark. After the parade, we browsed through the various vendor stalls. We followed that up with a stop at Japantown for an okonomiyaki dinner and a brief visit to Borders.

I had to work during the week, so my parents amused themselves doing their own sightseeing. They went a number of places, including Golden Gate Park. Meanwhile, I started my ten-week cargo training module, beginning with the post office international mail room on Tuesday. The mail is very different from the passenger baggage environment. The pace is more relaxed, since you're not dealing with cranky passengers in a hurry to catch connecting flights, but on the other hand it seems that people are willing to send far more contraband through the mail than they risk carrying through the airport. We not only have to watch out for agricultural commodities such as uncertified seeds or sausages, we also have to recognize dutiable goods, counterfeit merchandise, and various drugs of concern. All that, while being on the alert for radioactive packages.

On Tuesday night, I took my parents out to watch Wicked. That was a lot of fun. And of course it got the songs stuck in my head again. On Wednesday I managed to take some time during my lunch break to greet gnine and xparrot as they made a connection through the airport on their way back from Japan.

Saturday the 30th, we went back to the Mission district, where we walked up the street and checked out some of the small markets. We continued on through the Castro area, finally ending up at Haight-Ashbury, where we stopped for lunch at a small Indian restaurant. The next day we took my dad to catch his early morning flight at the airport...then got stranded when we tried to take the BART back to Millbrae, not realizing that the earliest train on Sundays doesn't come until 9am.

On Monday I started working in air cargo, though the beginning has been a bit rocky because my supervisor is just starting out and hasn't gotten the training module into a routine yet. For example, he was supposed to give me and another trainee a safety orientation on Monday, but due to one delay or another, he wound up not giving it the entire week. I was supposed to go out shadowing various customs teams, but none of that has been arranged. I did spend two days at the Plant Inspection Station watching slide shows about various plant pests that we are trying to prevent from coming into the country (or at least California). The cargo inspectors have a great deal of responsibility. I had to condemn a large shipment of fresh flowers worth thousands of dollars on Friday because of finding one harmful snail.

This weekend, mangaroo came over to join me as I showed megory an Avatar marathon. We actually managed to make it all the way through the series by Sunday evening. That was quite thrilling.

We'll see what the rest of this week brings.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:manga_crow
Date:June 9th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
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Yay, I'm glad your parents' trip went well =) And an even bigger yay at an Avatar marathon =) Seriously though, it seems like there's a fair amount of disorganization in the CBP right now from your stories. I wonder how much of that is because of the rapid (for the government, anyway) expansion of their workforce over the past few years?

I know they're pretty desperate for people right now; they even gave me a job offer, as non-impressive as my resume is :p I guess the upside is that there are bound to be quite a few openings to advance, if you're into that type of thing. "All good things..." etc, etc.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:June 11th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
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I wonder how much of that is because of the rapid (for the government, anyway) expansion of their workforce over the past few years?

That may be part of it. This particular supervisor, though, has issues. He was turned down for a transfer that he wanted last year, and since then it seems he has been looking for ways to avoid putting effort into his job.
[User Picture]
From:manga_crow
Date:June 11th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Ugh, that's... frustrating, to say the least =/
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