Ashley McDonald

An SF State Student Attempting to Blog

Commute Process Flow Chart

I made this chart to show the steps in commuting from Pleasant Hill Bart to SF State. I have found that no matter what I do to leave early or plan my trip ahead of time, something almost always goes wrong. On the bright side, at least something new happens everyday: an unintentional day off because I can’t park my car or choosing to take the MUNI instead of the SF State Shuttle. While looking for photos for this infogrpahic, I came across a blog spot for commuters that I found interesting. I like being able to read that other commuters go thorough the same problems as me.

(Click for full-size image) This is a flow chart showing my steps in the morning on my commute to school. (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)



November 22, 2009 Posted by | Extra Credit | Leave a comment

Current Gas Prices

I have noticed, especially this week , that gas prices have been slightly decreasing. I know that usually gas prices increase around the holidays but it seems that they are doing this opposite this year. I am hoping that this trend continues, but in a much sharper down turn. While researching for my chart, I came across this gas price predictor. Although it is not official and it isn’t down to the exact city, I think it would be a useful tool for purchasing gas.

This chart shows the gas price trend from Sept. 2009 to this week. (Images from Flikr Creative Commons)

November 22, 2009 Posted by | Extra Credit | Leave a comment

SF State Journalism Students [X]press Themselves

We take photographs, we produce, we get stories, we argue, we celebrate, we meet sources, we party. Being an SF State journalism student is like following a strict schedule everyday that somehow always manages to be flexible. Everyday on an [X]press publication is different but the same as the last: stories change, we have too many ads, we have too many photos, we have a design problem, we have an editor disagreement, we have a small paper, we have a late magazine, we have slideshows, we don’t have features. The list goes on and on and it all happens on deadline.


November 21, 2009 Posted by | Extra Credit | Leave a comment

Recchiuti Chocolate Makes Environmentally-Friendly Ingredients Rich and Creamy

While I was in the the Ferry Building on Saturday, I came across a small chocolate store that my friend had mentioned, Recchiuti. She said it was quite possibly the most tasty chocolate she had ever tasted, so naturally I wanted to try some. I tried truffles and hot chocolate and caramels and much more. More than I should have tasted. I was talking to one of the employees when I found out that not only is she a chocolate maker, but she is also an SF State student. We met up and talked about what makes their chocolate so special and I was surprised to find that the ingredients are mostly local and that they are grown in environmentally conscious ways. She would not divulge the secret recipes but she did say that it is the lack of preservatives and organic ingredients that make the chocolate so delicious. I found it to be very interesting because when I think about what goes into chocolate, I never think about where the ingredients come from, I just think of chocolate.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Video | Leave a comment

A Closer Look at My Town


A view of Concord, CA from Peacock Creek. (Photo By: Ashley McDonald)

Concord, CA is a larger suburban city close to freeways, BART stations and mountains. I have lived here my entire life and a lot has changed: The quarry is expanding, the Lime Ridge Open Space is shrinking, the Smoke Stack has been demolished, and my old high school has a fence around it. According to the Concord website, Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County and the population has been and will continue to rise over the next 10 years. With the population of 121,780 expanding, it is no wonder that changes are and will continue to happen.

Slide show >

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Extra Credit | Leave a comment

The Commute From Hell

I have decided that although I have mostly enjoyed the convenience of BART travel, I officially despise commuting to SF State when there is any sort of wrench thrown in the already hectic East Bay to San Francisco commute routes.

The Bay Bridge (click here for AP video) had been closed down for Caltrans repair, and according to, ridership had increased 85%. What does this mean for East Bay Commuters like myself? It means leaving the house 2 hours before I actually have to be somewhere. Why? Not because of space on the trains (BART has added and extended trains to accommodate the increase in riders) but because of the parking situation.

Wednesday of last week was the worst  day to commute. It was the first day of increased ridership and thinking that I would be in the clear for a parking spot if I left my house. Even with moderate to heavy traffic it takes me about 10 minutes to get to the BART garage (see image below) and another 5 minutes at the most to find a parking garage. Wednesday was not a usual day.


Map from the approximate location of my house to Pleasant Hill BART station. (Map from Yahoo! Maps)

I left a little early expecting the commute to be rough. I got to BART around 7:45 am, about 30 minutes earlier than normal, and drove up all 8 stories of the parking garage despite the “Lot Full” sign. I was stopped by a BART Police officer and advised to go to Concord BART. He assured me that there would be parking “on the mesa” for sure. The time was then 8:20 am.

(A little back-story before I continue: I go to Pleasant Hill BART station not because it is closer to my house but because it is the biggest parking garage there is in a 15 minute radius to my house. Concord BART, although about 5 minutes away from my house, is much smaller and fills up sooner. I have made the mistake of trying to park there before school too many times to trust anyone that says there is parking there after 7:00 am. Hence my disbelief)

After the advice from the officer, I decided to drive over there. I knew that either way I was going to be late for my class so I might as well check it out for the next day. I was not surprised that there was absolutely zero parking available. The time was then 9:00. I laughed to myself and drove home.

Thursday was better. I left my house at 6:45 am. Got on BART at 7:00am. Arrived at Daly City BART at 8:05 am. Got to campus at 8:20 am.

This may seem like a great day unfortunately I learned that the labs in the Journalism Department don’t open until 9:00 am. “Drat,” I thought to myself. I got a coffee, went to my Third Cinema classroom and took a nap before class.

Luckily the Bay Bridge is now open, as of this morning and I only hope that my Wednesday commute this week will be smooth and easy, just like normal.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | 1 Comment

Clayton Rock Quarry

I was driving the other day and realized that my entire life, there has been a huge eye-sore destroying a nearby mountain.


View of Mt. Zion rock quarry in Clayton, CA. Photo By: Ben Hoedt

This photo is the view of Mt. Zion I have seen my entire life. The quarry has been in-use since 1947, according to the Clayton Pioneer. When I saw this photo, I realized that this quarry is not only ruining the mountain in a structural way, it is ruining animal habitats.

I cannot tell you how many dead coyotes, squirrels, skunks and raccoons I see on a daily basis in the area surrounding the quarry.

However, the damage is not purely on animal habitats or aesthetics, it is on the environment. The equipment used to dig the quarries cause a lot of pollution. Big rigs, haulers, bull dozers: they all pollute the earth.

Moral of the story, now that I have become an aware citizen, I plan on doing a little more research on the quarry and seeing what is being done to prevent pollution and damage to the structural soundness of Mt. Zion. I don’t want to be jealous of Livermore anymore. They have the good view of the mountain.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | Leave a comment

Baby Survives Train

This video that I found on highly disturbed me. I recently dropped my phone onto the BART tracks and although it was alright, the only thing I could think while I saw my phone, my lifeline, slip onto the man-killing BART tracks was “OH MY GOD!?! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITHOUT THAT!!!???”

That being said, imagine watching your baby fall, head first onto train tracks and then have a train run over and stop right on top of it. That would be exponentially worse than my phone, obviously. Luckily, this baby survived.

I have heard so many stories of babies falling off of mountains or buildings and surviving, unscathed. I have heard that this is because babies lack the ability to tense up when they know they are going to fall or recieve pain like adults do, so they remain looser and therefore hit the ground softer. As for the train child, this was just luck.

October 20, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | Leave a comment

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market


A man chooses his tomatoes at the Farmers Market at the San Francisco Ferry Building on Saturday Oct. 17th, 2009.

There is a Farmers Market three times a week at the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, but the big show is on Saturdays. From 8am to 4pm on Saturdays, over 50 vendors gather to sell everything from goat cheese to sweet potatoes. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market has been around for almost 20 years and it is continuing to grow. Rated at 4.5 stars by, attending the FPFM is definitely a great way to spend a Saturday.

(All foods pictured are foods that are indigenous to North America)

Photo Slide Show>

October 20, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | Leave a comment

The Many Faces of James Bond


Every 007 that has acted in more than one film

I decided that this blog entry will be about my favorite James Bond actor. I would have to say that it is a close tie between Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery. Both actors represent exactly what I think of when I think of James Bond: Tall, dark, handsome, good accent, mysterious and clever personality. Plus, all of their movies are my favorite, complete with cheesy one liners galore. Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough…all great flicks.


Pierce Brosnan


Sean Connery

Roger Moore was also a great 007. My only qualm with him was that he wasn’t physically the James Bond I think of and he was playing the James Bond character when he was getting to be a little on the older side in the 80’s. Sean Connery was also a little older in his final movie, but Roger Moore’s age was much more obvious. Moonraker, A View to Kill, Man With the Golden Gun and Live and Let Die were all great films and he was definitely a quality actor.


Roger Moore

There were a couple one or two hit wonders that were phased out quickly and with good reason. Their acting was sub-par and they also didn’t fill the James Bond shoes. Now on to the current 007, Daniel Craig. In my opinion, he is awful. Not only does he not look like James bond, but his acting is way too serious. He lacks that ability to deliver his one liners in a cheesy yet awesome manner as his predecessors have been able to. Not that the choice is his fault. For the casting decision, I blame the higher-ups. I think that they should bring back Pierce Brosnan. He is still in great shape and he is still a great actor!


Daniel Craig

Seriously, look at this guy. I know his films are about the “darker-side of 007” but honestly, he looks more like a villain and acts more like a villain than a hero. I think that Pierce Brosnan had the perfect combo of the dark with the light and he would do much more justice to the films than Daniel “I really suck at being Bond” Craig.

September 28, 2009 Posted by | Random Musings | 2 Comments