Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1998-99

Cool project with my students
As I continued to work at the Ohlone Afterschool Program, I came to really know my group of students. They were the best students I ever had. Every month all childcare teachers were supposed to submit a lesson plan that included various art projects. My projects were usually very unusual and involved a lot of work and preparation. I taught the students how to do impressionist painting when they painted Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge.  I also had the stuNews Projectdents design their own DVD covers. Toward the end of the year, I decided to do a major video project involving a camcorder, props, and scripts. The project was titled the “Quake of 98”. It was a simulated eyewitness news show covering a major earthquake that stuck the area. I assigned students to be news anchors, reporters, hospital staff, and scientists. I used costumes, microphones, lighting and a rented newsroom backdrop. I even pulled in parents to also play as extras in the video production. I initially thought the project was going to take one day to video record but instead it took the entire week. During the entire production, I was dealing with a bad case of the flu. I remember vomiting several times before the children were out for school. I showed the kids the video and they were delighted. Years later, I finally had time to edit the video, add graphics, music and sound effects. I completed the production by converting the video to DVD and also uploaded it to Youtube in HD. I was very happy with the performances of each of the students. Some of them really worked hard at memorizing their lines. Youtube Video Here

Time to get a “real job”
I had worked for the City of Hercules (children and teens programs) for nearly ten years while also working for Ohlone Elementary school for about six years. I did this in addition to working several other jobs. I could only do this as I was in my twenties J.  But I was getting older and needed a better income and more importantly the medical/vision benefits. My last day at the childcare and the school was very hard for me. For many years, I had established many relationships with the school faculty and childcare staff and it made for hard goodbyes. TCI logoBut leaving the children was the most difficult. I received so many gifts from teachers but many more from the children. One such student who I had the hardest time with because of her strong personality and temper got me the best gift I could have ever been given. It was a t-shirt beautifully illustrated with planets and outer space. I still have the shirt, although it does not fit me so well.

I took a fulltime position with a telecommunications company known as TCI. Do you remember TCI? It was the cable company of the area before others came in like Century Communications and then later being bought out by AT&T Broadband. I stayed at TCI Cable where I encouraged customers to buy the newly launched digital cable. My customer base was primarily from the areas of Oakland and Emeryville. Most of the time I spoke to the average person who was either inquiring about their bill or their pay-per-view. One time I even took a phone call from a news anchor who works for KTVU’s Mornings on 2 show in the bay area. Frank Somerville just wanted to cancel his digital cable service; he claimed to never watch that much television anyway.

The TCI customer service office was located in a part industrial and part residential area of Oakland near Interstate 880 and High Street. The area was prone to reckless drivers and I saw three fatal accidents there while I was on my way to lunch.  One such accident involved one bronco which collided with tside collision crashhe side of a smaller car. From a block away, the accident looked relatively minor but given that there were so many people standing around looking at it, I figured something unusual was going on. As I approached the vehicles, the bronco appeared to have relatively minor damage and the driver was standing outside. As for the sedan, its door was pushed in on the impact side. The driver was still in the car, upset and crying while the passenger sitting beside her was slumped over and was bleeding profusely. She did not have a pulse. As I looked around the interior of the car, I could see that the metal from the door had apparently punctured the woman in the neck upon impact. The floor of the car was starting to fill up with blood. It was a very disturbing scene. I checked the woman’s wrist for a pulse. There was none. Another passerby was there consoling the driver and motioned to me to refrain from saying anything about the condition of the other passenger. The emergency units had arrived shortly thereafter.

My pickup truck woes
My Chevy pickup truck had been running on the road for nearly 21 years and was now starting to show signs of age. I maintained it and ensured that I changed the oil routinely. But, no routine checkups would have spotted what was about to happen on December 8 at about 8:45 a.m. while I was driving to work on Interstate 80, in Emeryville during the morning commute. In the middle of the freeway and in the middle of the heavy traSF outageffic, my pickup truck suddenly stalled and died in the number two lane. The traffic that day also unusually heavier because the area, including San Francisco, was undergoing a major power outage. The outage affected most of downtown San Francisco and including the bay bridge and other surrounding areas. While my truck rolled for several seconds and then came to a stop, a tow truck which just happened to be behind me, pushed me out of traffic onto a side street in Emeryville. I said a prayer, called my work and advised them of my plight. I would arrive to work two hours later. The other time when my Chevy gave me trouble was when the transmission started going out. I would be driving along and then suddenly find myself driving in neutral. It started happening more frequently no matter how often I changed my transmission fluid. After of dealing with the pickup’s problems, I decided to donate my pickup truck to a charitable organization. As I watched my truck being hauled away on the back of a flatbed truck, it was a sad occasion. It had been a part of the family for so long.

Several months later my chevy lumina and after utilizing the BART and AC Transit systems, I dreamed of buying a new car. I had no idea of what kind of car I wanted. But I knew that I needed one. I had visions of driving my own Chevy Lumina – please don’t ask me why I chose this car. But I kept seeing them everywhere. Then several months later, one of my coworkers encouraged me to check into a car dealership where a co-worker’s friend worked. I went to the dealership and drove off their lot with the new (used) car. It was a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina sedan. Was 21% interest a good deal?

My very own seismograph!
It probably took some eight years of waiting and waiting for the United States Geological Survey to finally make a decisiomy seismograph machinen on donating their antiquated earthquake recording systems to the school I used to work for. By the time, they decided to move forward with giving away the equipment; I was no longer working for the school. So, I took the recording system home planning to use it in my classroom once I started teaching.  Once I installed the seismograph at home, it started recording earthquakes. My first “real” earthquake that the seismograph system recorded was a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that occurred near Bolinas around 6:06 p.m.. The problem with where my seismograph was located was that my home was very close to one of the busiest roads and freeways in the area. Since the seismograph is designed to record vibrations, it also recorded the vibrations caused by passing cars and trucks. And since I lived in an apartment building, I would also detect every time a tenant closed their door.

 
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