Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Room with a View

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downtown2

We moved the majority of our stuff into the new condo, and we are living here now. It is amazing how much more you can enjoy a city based on the location and the place you are living in. This place has a lot of amenities and a good location, but one of my favorite things is the view. We are on what they call the 10th floor, but it really is the 12th floor. The first floor is the “Street Level,” and the second floor is the “Mezzanine.”

At night, I like to look out at all the other high rise complexes and count the number of televisions that I see on. It is also nice watching the fog creep in at night and slowly dissipate during the day.

We love the place, and tonight we might even try out the fireplace for the first time.

–Mike

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California’s Gubernatorial Race

I have to admit, I’m a little ashamed of this year’s race for governor. Mainly, I am just shocked at how Meg Whitman is spending money on her campaign. According to today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Meg Whitman has spent nearly $100 million of her own money to get elected to the highest seat in California. Keep in mind, this comes at a time when teachers and policemen are being laid off across the state. In fact, Oakland recently announced they were going to lay off 80 police officers.

Now I know that Meg, former CEO of E-bay, has more money than God (net worth exceeds $1 billion), but this flagrant display of wealth and excess seems almost sinful when our homeless shelters are working at capacity and soup kitchens are trying to keep up with the demand.

It doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat, I would hope that everyone could agree that Meg Whitman is going overboard on her campaign. It does not come as a surprise that people across the state are starting to call her Queen Meg and say she is buying her way into politics.

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Filed under California, Politics

Earthquake/Fire, 1906

I’ve been reading about the San Francisco’s earthquake and fire in 1906. The earthquake was about an 8.0 and it occurred at 5:12 a.m. on April 18th. The quake did an extreme amount of damage, but the fires that followed the quake are what devastated the city. These fires started for many reasons, but recently I was shocked to find out that the fire department and the homeowners were to blame for a great deal of the destruction.

With the fire chief having died in the quake, the “stand in” chief decided to use dynamite to make fire breaks throughout the city. This not only destroyed many buildings, but it also sparked many fires. Honestly, they did the best they could in that situation. I wonder if things would have been different if the fire chief had lived through the quake.

Another surprising thing is that the homeowners started fires in their own houses. Many of the residents of San Francisco did not have earthquake insurance, so word got around quickly that unless the structure is destroyed by fire, the insurance would not pay for the repairs. In order to get help for repairs, homeowners started their houses on fire which contributed to the inferno that destroyed San Francisco.

Could this happen today? Yes! I doubt that they will use dynamite again, but homeowners setting fire to their property is definitely a possibility. According to the California Earthquake Authority, only 12 percent of people in California have earthquake insurance. In San Francisco, a large majority (80 to 90 percent of the buildings) do not have earthquake insurance. Because of the expense of this type of insurance, most people instead pay for retrofits for their homes and pray the reinforcement will work. Just like in 1906, everyone has fire insurance, but few have earthquake insurance.

I think we are setting ourselves up for another fire storm when catastrophe strikes again in the San Francisco area. But, I can’t really dwell on that. In fact, I tell myself that it won’t happen while I am here. Is this delusional or just a way to cope with a possible threat that I have no control over? If it does happen, I am convinced that I will be the Molly Brown of San Francisco.

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Filed under California, San Francisco, West Coast

Working from Home

When I moved to the West Coast, I was immediately introduced to a delightful concept called “working from home.” It is amazing how many people do this on a regular basis. Some people work from their house, while others go to coffee shops, libraries, the park, etc. More and more co-working spaces are sprouting up all over San Francisco as people want an office environment closer to home.

When I got my job (29 mile commute across the Bay Bridge to the East Bay), I negotiated with them the ability to work from home from time to time. Working from home has taught me the following things:

* More time. To drive to Contra Costa County and back takes a minimum of 2 hours a day and can take up to 3 hours depending on traffic. Yes, it is only 29 miles, but I have to cross the Bay Bridge and go through Caldecott Tunnel.

* Saves money. On top of gas (Toyota Tundra), I also have to pay $6 each day to get across the Bay Bridge and back into the city. I figure I save around $18 a day by working from home.

* Efficient. I get more work done when I work from home. Every day a portion of my day is spent socializing with volunteers and staff. This is actually part of my job. When I work from home, I can just focus on paperwork, stats, mailings, returning phone calls, etc.

* Relaxing. At the end of the day when I shut my laptop, I do not face a grueling commute home. It is a stress free day.

* Contact. I do stay in close contact with the office. They can call me, text me, e-mail me, etc. I have several different ways that they can get in touch with me in an emergency. Recently, I was working from home and they needed something done quickly. With the help of my trusty laptop, the phone, and a good Internet connection, I got the task done with time to spare. Who needs an office?

* Work Space. My favorite work spaces are coffee shops like Sugar Lump Coffee Lounge in Outer Mission or Jumpin Java in Castro. One space that I frequent a lot is Panera Bread in SOMA.

Working from home is a wonderful gift that employers can give to their employees. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but it feels great to do it occasionally. I think it makes for a happier and more productive work force.

Now if you would excuse me, I have a report to work on that I will present at a meeting next week. Before I start, I should probably order another Panera Bread bagel and refill my tea.

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Filed under California, Human Nature, Oregon, San Francisco, West Coast

S.F. Restaurant Tips

As part of my facelift for the blog, I have included a list of restaurant suggestions on the right sidebar. San Francisco has some of the most amazing restaurants. These are just a few of my favorites, and I will add to the list over time. No matter what kind of food you are looking for, you can find it in San Francisco. If you click on the name, it will take you to that restaurant’s website. Listed below are a few tips that might help you have a more enjoyable experience eating out in San Francisco:

1. Make Reservations. Some places do not take reservations, and some only reserve a table an hour in advance. Do some research.

2. Expect to Wait. Without reservations, and sometimes with reservations, you can expect to wait for a table in San Francisco. I have waited a few times for over an hour for a table, but the average wait is about 20 – 40 minutes. If you are visiting, this may be a shock. If you live here, then you know this is just what happens. The food is worth the wait.

3. Quality vs. Quantity. Coming from the Midwest, I was both surprised and happy to find that the portion size on the West Coast is reasonable. For example, in the Midwest if you go out for breakfast many of the meals come with sides of hotcakes, biscuits and gravy, or fried potatoes. In S.F., your breakfast meal may come with a side of wheat toast, a cup or fruit, or a salad made up of many types of greens. The greens and fruit will be exceptional. When you leave a San Francisco restaurant you probably won’t feel full to the gills, but you will feel satisfied.

4. Taste. It is all about the taste, presentation, and how the chef combined certain ingredients. Just a simple thing like hot chocolate can be so different depending on the restaurant’s interpretation of it. It is amazing to see how the different chefs prepare calamari.

5. Price. Be prepared to spend a little more when eating out in San Francisco. Honestly, be prepared to spend a little more on everything in San Francisco. It is not an inexpensive town, but it is worth it. When going with a group of friends, the most common thing to do at the end of the meal is to split it evenly by everyone throwing in a credit or debit card.

6. Experience. Eating out in in this town is all about the total experience. If you do plan something for after supper, then make sure that it is scheduled for way after the meal so that you are not rushed. It is all about taking some relaxing time, catching up with friends, and eating some exquisite food.

7. Please Tip. As I mentioned above, San Francisco is an expensive town to visit and live in. All you have to do is visit realtor.com to prove this (and the market is currently down). Therefore, I ask that you remember this when tipping your waiter or waitress. Generally, a 10 to 20 percent tip is appropriate, but I would ask that you lean more toward the 20 percent.

Bon Appetit

–Mike

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Filed under California, Entertainment, Health, S.F. Restaurants, San Francisco, San Francisco Tourist