Wow, has it been four months since I last updated my site? Holy frijoles, as Speedy Gonzales would say. (Not to be confused with my former boss, Alina Gonzales, who was neither a mouse nor speedy.)
A few months ago my father and I were talking on the phone about the challenges I was facing following my move from Northern Virginia to the [San Francisco] Bay Area. He detected a weary tone in my voice, and asked, "...do you think this was a mistake?" Kim's family had been shocked when we told them back at Christmastime that we were moving. They couldn't understand why we would drop everything and move away from our family, friends, and jobs to move to California.
What were we thinking? Well, we did take a big risk. Neither of us had jobs waiting for us, and we didn't know where we would live when we got there. We had at least planned things out somewhat: my friend Craig Nelsen was good enough to let us bribe him to drive our stuff across country to SF, and to store it in a mini-storage facility upon arrival. That meant that we showed up with a carload of essentials (clothes, toiletries, vital paperwork, etc.) so it was a lot easier to deal with than if we had been dragging a rental truck full of belongings with us. Still, we didn't anticipate the side-effects of the housing crunch, which made it really hard to find a place to live. We knew about the rents. But the real problem was that even though we had money in the bank, that's not good enough to get a lease. You either need a job (or a job offer), or triple the rent in the bank. Since rent around here is about $1,300 for a one-bedroom apartment, that means you need about $4,000 or a job (or offer) to get a lease. We had neither. It was a pain to look for a job without an apartment (no internet access = hard to find a job, hard to correspond via e-mail) but through the extreme generosity of a friend from my American University days, we had a place to stay and some bandwidth to use. And things finally fell into place.
We barely made it. I would do a lot of things better if I got to plan this move again. But that's all in the past now. All I need to do now is to make the most of my new life out here, and to make sure that the people who helped us in our time of need know that their kindness is appreciated.
So was it a mistake? No. Was it worth it? Yes. When I first mentioned that I was thinking of moving to Silicon Valley or someplace nearby (San Francisco to be precise) people asked why, since there were plenty of technology companies in the Washington, D.C. metro area. I can't speak for Seattle, Austin, Boston, New York, or any of the other cities which people claim are almost as good as the real Silicon Valley, but I can talk about D.C. after having lived there for nine years. Don't believe them. It is nothing like anywhere I have been before. Strangers overhear you talking to a friend about which 3D video card is faster for PC games and break into your conversation to add their opinion. Geekdom exists elsewhere, but here it is about 10 times more organized and mobilized. CompUSA and Micro Center are about as good as it gets in D.C., and they are a joke, especially compared to Fry's. Heck, the Computer Literacy Bookshop in Vienna went out of business even though I spent over $500 there in one visit. The technology industry exists in D.C., but when you remove AOL and all of the "beltway bandit" IT contractors who focus on the federal government, what's left isn't very exciting.
This really is the mecca for geeks. It has its problems - for example, San Jose and the whole area which can really be called Silicon Valley is a sweltering desert full of strip malls and suburban sprawl, complete with the worst freeway traffic I've ever seen. I don't understand how anyone can commute an hour and a half each way in stop and go traffic every day. I'd go nuts. And in San Francisco, where we are planning to move in the spring, the same people who make the city so interesting are being forced out by skyrocketing real estate prices. And people like me are being blamed, although I think that the ludicrous lack of dense development in SF is more to blame. Suburbs are not a good thing as far as land use is concerned, and yet everyone has a NIMBY attitude about where the extra housing is supposed to go.
But aside from the fact that the south bay is unlivable and the residents of SF don't want any more internet twerps moving in and enabling high rent to continue, everything is wonderful so far. The job is great, and there is so much to do on nights and weekends that I am starting to get concerned about how little time we are spending at home. And we're not hanging out at Bob and Edith's Diner every night (we were in D.C.); we're actually doing interesting things and meeting new people.
And we just got DSL (high speed internet access) at home. So this web site will move from its current home in Herndon, VA to my living room. And updates will start to happen faster, if I can make the time for them. Stay tuned, things are just starting to get interesting in my life again.