While a lot of what I’ve been posting lately is about how wonderful and rosy everything is here. I do have to admit that there are a few things I encounter here that I didn’t encounter in San Francisco that take a little getting used to. So let me tell you about them.
The following is a list with comments I’ve put together that aren’t in any particular order, but it’s a comparison and contrast of living in San Francisco to living in Northampton, MA that is taking a little getting used to:
- You’ll drive more to get places: but you’ll get better gas mileage and it’ll take you less time to get there.
- It’s hot and humid in summer and cold and dry in winter: Make sure any place you think of getting has central air and heating. You’ll thank me for that advice.
- Did I mention it’s humid?: It rains a lot and you’ll get wet, but in the summer it can be like getting in a shower.
- Snow…it freezes and gets slippery: You’ll need an SUV for the family and definitely snow tires for the winter.
- Bugs: We got them. BIG BUGS. You’ll have lots of mosquito bites when you get here, but luckily most bugs don’t come inside. See picture above. I had to get rid of a wasp nest in front of our house in the first week.
- Vermin: It’s cute here. Chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies are all over, but they can do the same damage as mice and rats.
- Gender fluidity is really fluid here: Sometimes you’ll be talking to someone and you just can’t figure out if they’re male or female. It’s not unusual to find women with mustaches and men with breasts who are still actually female or male. I kind of got hit on by a lesbian who didn’t realize I was male.
- Healthcare is either free or really cheap: But it’s a headache to get set up right.
- Doctors are different: They seem more interested in asking about your sex life and sexual partners than whether or not you physically feel OK.
- People are different: They’re really, really nice and helpful and don’t have a chip on their shoulder. That’s a good thing, but it’s weird compared to San Francisco.
- People are people: There’s way less us vs. them here. It’s a bit homogeneous, kind of like the Marina in SF and people put themselves before their ethnicity. Pride day wasn’t trying to make a statement so much as being a celebration for all.
- Food: There are farms everywhere so fresh produce and meat is pretty easy you just have to check out a few places to find the best deals. While we live ten minutes from downtown Northampton and thirty minutes from Springfield, MA there are farms that sell direct within five minutes.
- Eating Out: Mexican and Chinese food can be had, but it’s a bit of work to find it and don’t be surprised if you see a pulled pork burrito or Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. Those are a thing in Western Mass.
- Walmart: You’ll end up loving it and hating yourself for loving it, but the people are paid pretty well here and get a 401k as well, unlike in other parts of the country that you hear about in the news.
- Clothing: You’ll need a lot of it for the different seasons. It’s not uncommon for the basement of a house to have a cedar lined room for your winter clothes
- Houses: Closer to town is more money, but usually older and might have a few problems. You can get newer houses 5-10 minutes from downtown, but you still need to check the year it was built. Some can be awesome, others will definitely need work. The most striking part is that because the houses aren’t butt up against each other they look small, but when you read the stats of the houses they’re actually bigger.
- Schools: They’re great especially if you’ve got a special needs kid, but you just have to learn the language they speak because it’s a little different than in California. As mentioned before gender identity is a really big thing here, even more so than in San Francisco.
- It’s so “White” here: Actually it’s not. Hispanics are included as Caucasian, Spanish Surname. Yes, compared to San Francisco it’s going to look a whole lot more white, but it’s really a whole lot less Asian until you notice the large East Indian population that’s here as well and the fact that the population while diverse is a bit more homogeneous and adaptive.
That’s a good start for now. I’m sure there will be more added to it over time. I have yet to experience anything really abhorrent here, but there are a few things that we’ve needed to adjust to. I’m still not sorry I had to move, but the Connecticut River isn’t quite the replacement for the Pacific Ocean and yes, there is sourdough bread here, but it’s not as sour as in San Francisco. If anything it makes me question how special San Francisco sourdough is since it doesn’t taste too much different here.
I finally got to do something the other day that I never thought I’d have to do. Have a car towed from in front of my house. Apparently not everyone in San Francisco knows the parking rules in the City.
You cannot park with your car overhanging even a little bit into a driveway or you can be towed. There is no 1″ or 3″ is OK. You just can’t do it. Luckily for me there was no question about it as you can see from the picture. I had never had to do this before so I called the police. As it turns out while the police will take your information they rarely do anything about it. I found this out after driving home and having to bounce up over the curb at around 10:30pm because my driveway was blocked.
When I called the next day and the car was still there I was told to call the SFMTA. They didn’t hesitate and immediately told me they’d be out to tow the car shortly. I went about my business around the house trying to figure out how to back the car out of the driveway with Wife and daughter in the car only to find the following when I opened the front door…
They came, they saw they towed. I would have been nice and asked the owner to move their car if the owner had ever made themselves know to me. I’m not even sure if they live on the block, but I have seen the car parked [usually in front of my house] on numerous occasions. While I can say that new people in the neighborhood have been nice and introducing themselves and/or at least saying hi we do have a new neighbor who I think this car might possibly belong to. If so she also has a dog that she walks that chooses those two plots of dirt that used to be lawn before the gophers destroyed them to take a dump on a daily basis. Wife has seen this, but not taken a picture. Me being an a-hole sometimes would be running out and filming the whole event in high def to share here and you tube, and Facebook, and twitter and where else can you publicly shame people?
Now I never really advocated this type of behavior, but the way it used to be was that you knew your neighbors and you’d knock on their door and ask them to move the car. It wasn’t a big deal if it was 8am because, well, they were blocking your driveway and that’s a lot more neighborly than a $500 tow charge right?
I honestly would have contacted the owner if they had said hello to me when I was out in front of the house so I’d know who they were, but from all I can remember from seeing them blocking my driveway previously [while they were in the car with the engine running] is that I think they are a woman. I at least have proof now of why I had their car towed if they ever introduce themselves to me and ask. Now if I can just get pictures of the woman and her dog taking a dump and leaving it behind.
Oh yeah, we’re in the process of doing something to the cemetery plots in front of our house. I’ve just been a little busy lately driving people around.
Well it’s going to be an interesting next five days in San Francisco. Not since the 1989 quake has the Bay Bridge been closed for this long. The new bridge is in its finishing stages over the next few days and here’s what it’s like if you’re going to be driving around.
Traffic in the city was pretty light during rush hour this morning. I have to say that driving down Montgomery Street between 8-9am was pretty easy and stress free since apparently there were a lot of people driving into the City from the East Bay who are stuck with Bart or the ferries now. I’ve heard people say that Labor Day weekend isn’t a big weekend for people coming to the City or people leaving the City, but from what I saw today it was practically down right empty.
I gave a ride to someone in the Sunset District this morning who had to go down to Battery Street. This normally would take me a half hour, but today I was dropping him off in 15-20 minutes. Even he was surprised at how fast we got there. There really wasn’t anyone out there on Franklin, Van Ness, Broadway, Gough, Fell or Oak…it was actually a very nice relaxed drive.
If you’re going to be driving around San Francisco over the next few days there’s a few things to keep in mind:
- The Bridge is closed so they’ve cut back on I-80’s lanes. I’d actually try and avoid the freeway unless necessary.
- Oak Street is pretty empty. Since the Bridge is closed there’s not much reason for most people to get on the freeway so traffic was light.
- Franklin & Gough. Two more streets that feed people to and from the bridge. Pretty open generally.
- Bush Street. Ghost town practically. This is a main feeder street for people trying to get downtown from the Richmond.
- Treasure Island. You have to get on at 1st and Harrison. That’s the only way to get there, if you really need to go.
Oddly enough places that don’t have much to do with the Bridge [i.e. the Sunset & Richmond districts] were pretty quiet as well except around the shopping areas which were pretty much busy as always. You can add to this a big warm wet hug from @KarlTheFog with temperatures in the 70’s-80’s and humidity in the 80’s-90’s keeping everyone out here, well, moist. It’s kind of like Hawaii for people who don’t like sun too much. Enjoy!
Yes, it’s time for a rant again. San Francisco streets need lots of work. We aren’t back east where there’s lots of snow so they don’t need to update the roads as much here, but the street outside my house was last repaved in the early 70’s or maybe even the late 60’s. We have more potholes than pot dispensaries and those white circles spray painted around the smaller potholes are done by the SF Bike Coalition to keep bikers from being thrown into on coming traffic.
I am really beginning to hate driving in San Francisco. It isn’t pleasant and every bump in the road is making my teeth rattle. Giving that I also live in the Sunset district where the streets were built on sand makes roads shift up and down just to give you a bumpier ride. Heavily trafficked roads are the worst because they can’t always shut them down because of congestion and when they do getting anywhere seems impossible.
I drove in to my first day of work yesterday and had my nerves rattled pretty bad by all the potholes I hit along the way let alone the fix it bits that made my car bounce up and down. At time I thought my shocks might need adjusting, but since my car only has 44k on it the shocks should be fine. All the bumps do cause your wheels to need to be realigned every year or so unlike in other cities where they have smoother roads.
If you drive to Daly City just a few minutes from where I live the roads are like glass. You have to work hard to find a rough patch there, but in San Francisco just driving the speed limit makes you feel like your car is going to fall apart. Speaking of which I’ve had cars that have lost nuts and bolts because of how rattling the streets can be.
So please Mayor Ed Lee, lets do something to make the streets safer to drive on instead of having cops pull people over for driving 32mph in a 25mph zone.
I didn’t used to have to drive much when I was unemployed, but now that I have a job and have to hop in my car every day I’ve realized something that I haven’t in quite a while. The Streets of San Francisco pretty much suck. The street outside my house hasn’t been redone in over 30 years. While I am seeing streets being repaved all over the city for some reason my street seems to be at the bottom of the list.
My wife and I were watching a TV show a couple of months ago about technology and how there’s a machine that can drive down a street and grind up the old asphalt and mix it in with a little bit of new asphalt and lay down the new street very quickly. I’ve seen these machines at work in the city and they can redo a block in a day or two. I’m sure they’re a bit costly, but compared to a group of 10-15 guys working for two weeks to do the same thing they probably pay off much quicker.
Every rainy season we have in SF we start to see cracks in the street that get bigger and turn into potholes. The only places I’ve ever been where the streets are marginally worse is New York City. Driving in your car gets thrown around just like my drive into work everyday. I need to have my wheels realigned on my car at least once if not twice a year because of all the potholes and uneven surfaces. This reminded me of my first trip back East to visit my wife before we were married. They have to deal with snow and the salt they put on the roads so that’s a lot more hard on the roads than what we have out here and they have to replace the roads more often. Driving back East in Massachusetts and Connecticut was like driving on glass. The roads were so smooth and the car just hugged the road like were driving on a LeMan’s race track. It was beautiful.
I know San Francisco has a lot of other things to deal with than the roads and they are replacing the roads quite a bit lately. They just seem to not be using those new machines that make the change come about faster as much as they could. It has been worse I’ll give you that. I remember a drive downtown where there was a large pothole that I didn’t see until it was too late to avoid and when I hit it the pothole actually shifted my car from drive into neutral. That’s not right. Most of the work is down is patchwork and I remember when I was first learning to drive how there was a strip jutting out from the parking space in front of my house that if I could back up just enough to hit the little hump I knew my car was in the right space. I’ve got a driveway now to park in and I shouldn’t have to think about the street humps [not speed humps as they call them now] to know how to park. Yes, as I said earlier there are a lot of other things that need help in the city, but if you have to drive in the city your car gets more wear and tear than it needs to.
“Here comes the rain again, falling on my head and it’s drizzly, falling on my head, but it’s not an ocean.” —with apologies to Annie Lennox.
Yes, we have some rain for the first time since the end of January. This contrary to what many people are thinking is not a bad thing. It used to be that San Francisco was a city with two kinds of weather, raining and gonna rain. I never remember it quite like that as there was a fair amount of heavy fog mixed in that my friends from Los Angeles who didn’t know better thought was rain. No that’s not rain, for you guys it’s rain when water from the sky stings your eyes and rusts out your cars.
San Francisco rain is different. It’s usually pretty mild and we have less stormy days with heavy rains than we do sunny days. Thank you global warming. I can’t even remember the last time I needed an umbrella when I went out in the rain, but I usually only had a short distance to walk to get to my car so that isn’t so bad. Here’s a few things that I like about San Francisco rain:
- I don’t have to water my garden: My father always disagreed with me on this. He was always out there every day rain or shine watering the lawn and the garden in the back. I have found this caused him to grow more weeds that he had to get out there on nice days to pull. Now while our lawn is a little patchy at the moment, but that’s from the gophers we had, we don’t have to run the sprinkler system from December to April cutting our water bill by tons.
- I don’t have to wash the car: Everyone’s car looks wet in the rain. When it’s dry out you have to think about how to make your car gleam and shine if you’re into trying to bag ultra sexy women who will drain your bank account, but I’m happily married and have no need to drain my already drained bank accounts for a piece of eye candy on my arm.
- It helps clean the dirt off the streets: Well, maybe not as much as a power sprayer, but you’d be surprised at how much dirt there is out there on your house and trees and cars. Previous to the rain of Monday morning my car was beginning to look like something from King Tut’s tomb when it was first opened now it looks brand new. San Francisco tends to have rather loose soil that is easily moved around by our rather breezy wind conditions so the rain helps this out somewhat, but it leads to another condition as well…
Pollen run off. This should have been number four, but it’s so big right now that it deserves its own section. When you’re walking down the streets you might see puddles with yellowy streaks running through them, kind of like the picture to the left, but not so much. I was reading sfgate.com about the upcoming storms and someone commented that they were happy because it would wash away the pollen and her allergies would go away for awhile.
I hadn’t really thought of that until we made our trip out to the local Trader Joe’s to try and find some produce that wasn’t already past it sale date. In the puddles as we were walking towards the doors to the shop you could see these yellow streaked puddles everywhere. I was wondering if it was really pollen or not and dropped pollen run off into google and found the picture to the left.
Yep, it is definitely pollen run off you’re seeing in the streets. The storms are supposed to be strongest Tuesday night through Wednesday so hopefully we will get all of this washed away and be left with a much cleaner city in the end. Somewhere along in my life I realized I had developed allergies to pollen and I have no idea why. I suppose I was having too much of a good time and the gods said, “This should fix that.” I’ve notice that I haven’t had as much need to blow my nose as much so I like the rain. It makes the plants grow for free and keeps our city clean. Now maybe if we could have it be a warm rain for a couple of days we could make it OK for the homeless to go naked and get a free shower and wash their clothes.