Well, I am here

Wendy, Rich, and I arrived in San Francisco Friday morning. We dropped my car off at the shop, and then frantically unloaded the UHaul and I signed the lease. This included me running 2 blocks to get Rich to move the UHaul out of someone’s spot. Quite comical to the passer-by, I would guess.

In the short time that Rich and Wendy had in San Francisco, we walked around the immediate neighborhood a little. They liked what they saw of the area. Then, they flew home to Maryland that night.

Thankfully, I was able to catch a stray wireless Internet signal, so I have had something to keep me entertained. I have been spending a lot of time buying odds and ends for my apartment. Unfortunately, I still don’t have any new furniture. But I do have a bed and mattresses coming Saturday. Here are a few pictures of the place. I don’t have bedroom pictures yet because it was a mess at the time that I was taking the pictures.

The first day of work was today. The people there are all pretty nice. It will take me a while, though, to remember all of their names. Oh, and I found out I am going to be getting TWO high-end desktop computers for my cube. SWEET.

For the curious – I will post roadtrip pictures shortly.

On the Road

Wendy, Rich and I left Maryland at 7:08 AM EDT on Tuesday morning. We had my Lexus ES300 towing a 5×8 trailer. The car was definitely handling it well, but we weren’t pushing it – a maximum of 70mph the whole way.

A few hours into our trip, we had our first problem. We, of course, had way too many things hooked up to the cigarette lighter. We had a car mini fridge, a cell phone charger, and a power inverter powering an ipod and a couple of laptops hooked up. Needless to say, the cigarette lighter did not hold up. It was only a matter of time before everything ran out of batteries and our drinks got warm.

Despite the lack of DVDs to watch, we somehow weren’t at each other’s throats. We drove straight through for 30 hours, with rotating sleeping. Just past Denver, we discovered a tire and wheel in the road that, unlike all of his brothers, was not connected to an actual car. The Lexus unfortunately discovered it before we did.

The homeless wheel did its best to try to make my car its home. It failed miserably, instead tearing up the bottom of my car (exhaust, catalytic converter, and the radiator). We limped into the next exit, where there was conveniently a UHaul place. After calling my insurance company, I decided to tow the car to San Francisco with a UHaul truck and get it fixed there.

We finally got a hotel last night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We also got a decent meal and, most importantly, beer. We’re now hitting the road again at 8am Mountain Time. We are aiming to get in to San Francisco by 12pm Friday.

Conclusion of my trip, beginning of a new life

Today was a rather big day, and a long one. I started it off by accepting a job offer with PC Guardian Technologies. I will be doing high-level tech support during European Business hours (2am-11am Pacific time). Also, about half my time will be devoted to research and problem replication.

After running a couple of errands at FedEx/Kinkos, I grabbed some lunch. Of course, since I didn’t technically have an income, I hadn’t been able to apply to apartments until today. So, at about 1:30pm I was able to start seriously looking at apartments online. I found two that I decided to look at. One was near the Tenderloin district (crappy area of San Fran) but it looked really nice, and it seemed to be a decent size. Another one was on Russian Hill (which is a nice neighborhood) but was rather small.

So I walked over to the first apartment, to get a feel for the neighborhood. Even though it was near the Tenderloin, the neighborhood wasn’t horrible, but not the best either. I called the person that listed the apartment, and she didn’t pick up. Well, I didn’t have time to burn, so I walked to the next apartment. The neighborhood looked very nice, so I called the person in charge of that apartment at about 2:45. I explained to them that I would like to see the apartment sooner rather than later, and they set an appointment for 4pm. This left me with the opportunity to check out the neighborhood more. One street over, I discovered restaurants, bars, coffee shops, grocery stores, and a bakery.

The apartment is small, but it is nice. The kitchen and bathroom look to be all new, and the carpet is clean. After looking at it for about 5 minutes and asking a few questions, I started filling out an application. I explained to the man showing the apartment that I would like to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. Well, by 7pm I found out that the apartment is mine. I am meeting the woman in charge tomorrow to pay her the deposit, and my lease will start on September 8.

I am flying out of San Francisco tomorrow, and Rich, Wendy, and I will be driving cross country Tuesday, hopefully getting in on Thursday the 8th. I start my job on Monday the 12th. I guess I have just been lucky to be able to do everything so quickly around here.

It is funny sometimes how the smallest occurances can change one’s life so much. For instance, I likely would not have even come to San Francisco had it not been for a reader of my friend’s blog, who had not commented before on the website, but with her first comment really spoke highly of San Francisco. I have been emailing her since, and she has been a big help. Also, if the person from the first apartment had picked up the phone when I was there today, I might not have even looked at the second apartment. But, because she didn’t pick up, I went on my way.

San Francisco Night 5

After lunch with Andrea and Steve yesterday, I walked to Golden Gate Park. I was amazed at the beauty and upkeep of this park, along with how many people were using it. There was a huge area of flowers, nice big lawns, and a road closed to cars on the weekend, which is nice for bikers and skaters. I even witnessed an impromptu rollerskate dance party. Here are a couple of pictures from the park:

After leaving the park, I walked through the Haight-Ashbury area. I will have to say I wasn’t too impressed. It all seemed a bit gimmicky to me for some reason. One neat find, however, was the anarchist bookstore. I am sure I could find some lively debate in there if I was up for it one day.

I had gone out every night since I arrived, so I decided to stay in last night. At about 9 I felt a bit hungry, and decided to get a snack at the hotel restaurant. I took a book with me, and wasn’t really looking at the chicken strips I was eating. On the last one, i noticed that it was quite undercooked. I am glad I didn’t get sick today. Also, thankfully they didn’t charge me for the food. Otherwise, there would have been quite an argument.

I had my interview today. It was with a company called PC Guardian. They are in the encryption business. The interview went very well. About 20 minutes after leaving their office, I got a call to set up the second interview for Wednesday. The outlook for this job is very good, and I was really impressed by the description of the company and job. Evidently, about half of my time would be spent doing research, both for current customer issues, and research on personal interests (that I guess would have something to do with my work).

San Francisco Day Four

Yesterday was a day of relaxation. My legs were extremely sore from walking so much on Friday. Added to this was the fact that I couldn’t sleep more than four hours.

At noon I went to an open house for an apartment. I didn’t intend to actually attempt to get the apartment, but rather take a look at it and get an idea of what my money would buy. I joined about a dozen people standing in front of the apartment, but the agent never arrived to show the apartment.

Afterwards, I came back and napped for a bit. After waking up and BSing online for a while, I went up to North Beach for dinner. There are a multitude of Italian places there to get dinner, and not much seems to differentiate them at first sight. I picked one that seemed to be not too busy, and offered to take an outside table. The table, I was to find out, had quite a slant to it, so much so that I had to carefully watch my glass of water. I suppose they felt bad for me having to eat at such a crap table, so they gave me a free glass of wine. I ordered lasagna, and it was excellent.

After burning some time at the City Lights Bookstore, I walked through the financial district to Club Six. This was quite a unique experience. Upstairs, they had traditional South Asian music, with one guy playing the tablas (drums) and another one playing a type of guitar, and later singing and playing an organ-accordian-type instrument.

The music downstairs was what I came for. It was drum and bass with a guy playing the tablas, and a couple of MCs at times. Honestly, the music wasn’t very good (lots of reggae, which I don’t like) until about midnight. The mixing was also not very good. At times it sounded like they just ripped the record off of the turntable and a couple of seconds later switched to the track on the other table. Well, at midnight, Karsh Kale came on. He is a rather famous DJ – I had heard him previously on the Asian Massive CD. He was rather good, with actual drum and bass tracks that had a lot of tablas and South Asian vocals. I listened for a while, but I was ready to go by this point. There didn’t seem to be any good opportunities to meet people, and the floor was quite packed making it hard to dance. I had a good time, but I am not sure I would go back to the club often. I would like to check out the event again sometime though; It is a weekly event.

Today I met up with Biff’s sister Andrea and her friend Steve for lunch. It was nice to see someone I knew for the first time in about a week and a half! Today I think I will actually make it out to Golden Gate park and check out the areas around there. It may be inevitable that I will have to learn the bus system here pretty soon. It seems quite confusing.

San Francisco Day 3

Yesterday was a very long day. I started off walking from the hotel to the Pacific Heights neighborhood. This is a very upper-class neighborhood, with huge mansions, manicured lawns, and expensive cars. This is at the top of a hill, and there is a great view of the Marina district here. From there, I walked to a park with a nice view of the Golden Gate bridge.

One of the mansions in the Pacific Heights neighborhood

Alcatraz and the Marina district as seen from Pacific Heights

After taking a break there, I walked east through the Marina district. I came to the Fisherman’s Wharf, ate and In-N-Out Burger, and then make the long trek back to my hotel. The Fisherman’s Wharf seemed rather hokey, which is why I left it so quickly.

I think I walked about 10-12 miles yesterday. I came back to the hotel and took a 2.5-hour nap. Last night, I decided to go to the Rogue Pub in North Beach. The pub is really great – they have dozens of their own beers, almost all award-winning.

I came in, got a burger and a beer, and talked a little with the waitress. After finishing my burger, I moved to the bar for my next beer. At the bar, I met a guy (using fake names here) named Charley. Charley and I talked for a bit, and he explained a lot about the different neighborhoods in San Francisco.

He told me he was meeting his friend at the bar, so I was expecting a woman to walk through the door at any time and say hi to Charley. But, instead, he was actually meeting the waitress, Melissa (again, fake name). She sat down between us and the three of us talked for a while. Then, Xavier came in and joined us. He is a bartender at Rogue’s. They invited me to go to another bar with them, so after a little while, we left.

As we walked towards the next bar, Xavier saw some friends in the street – Zoey and Rhonda. They joined us, and we happened upon three older guys that were rocking out in the back of a pickup truck, playing old rock favorites, just for the hell of it, it appeared. We watched them and cheered them on for a few minutes, and finally found our way to the bar.

There was a great band at that bar, and Xavier was nice enough to buy me a beer. Melissa and I watched the band for a few songs, and then she walked off to go talk to Charley. I watched the band for a couple more songs, then turned around to try to meet back up with everyone. I had a brief moment of horror when I didn’t see anyone that I had come with. I walked outside, rather dejected, to see Melissa and Charley talking. They were ready to call it a night, but we are going to get back together later, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I then joined Xavier, Zoey, and Rhonda in the next bar over. There was a very loud punk band playing there, and we yelled to each other to get to know each other a bit. After the band was done, we talked at the bar until last call.

Well, we were having a great time, and weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so Xavier invited all of us back to his place, which was just a few blocks away. We sat there until about 4:30am just shooting the shit. I think I am going to get back together with them as well before going back to MD. I got back to the hotel at about 5am, and slept for about four hours.

Today, I went to an apartment showing, along with about a dozen other people, but the shower never arrived. So now I am probably going to nap for a couple of hours and then head to Golden Gate park to check out the neighborhoods there and also check out “Hippie Hill” as Charley called it. Tonight, I think I am going to go to Club Six for drum and bass with Asian vocals!

San Francisco Night One

Well, as you could probably notice from my lack of posting during the last couple of nights in Miami, nothing exciting happened. I did enjoy myself to an extent, relaxing and reading. But, I suppose it just wasn’t all that interesting since I knew I wasn’t going to be moving to Miami.

But, here I am in San Francisco. I got in to the hotel today at about 4:30pm Pacific time. I am a bit disappointed with the hotel, but oh well. It is somewhere to sleep, and there is Internet, even if I do have to pay $10/day for it.

Soon after arriving, I set out for North Beach. I am staying in what I think is the financial district, so the walk to North Beach was a nice one through downtown and part of Chinatown. San Francisco is a very picturesque city. Here are some pictures from North Beach and atop Lombard Street:

View from Washington Square

San Francisco as seen from atop Lombard Street

During this walk, I felt that I had already fell in love with San Francisco. Of course, I am not ready to commit to move here, but I have a VERY good first impression. Upon coming back to the hotel, I decided to go out to a club tonight. I went to Il Pirata, where it was supposed to be Drum and Bass night. Instead, it was trance and house, but still very good stuff. I met two people tonight, one of whom I might be going to a Giants game with tomorrow, if he remembers to call. The other one I was talking to for a while. She is a mail carrier, originally from Peru. Very interesting to talk to.

I noticed a very sharp contrast tonight between Miami and San Francisco. In Miami, you are your clothes. You are your date. You are your abs. In San Francisco, you are your thoughts. You are what you say. You are the music that you like. This difference was immediately evident to me, and immediately relieving. I had the most fun that I have had in a long while tonight. The music, the people, and the atmosphere were perfect. I suppose I will go back to this bar before I leave San Francisco.

I can only hope tomorrow will be as great as today was. My friends, I may very well be moving to San Francisco. It may just be lust, or it may be love at first sight.

I’ve lined up an interview!

Well after submitting quite a few cover letters and resumes, I managed to get an interview in San Francisco on Monday. Good location, good pay, night shift again (but I can handle it, right? :-)) Finally, I will have a reason to wear one of the ties that I brought! Maybe I will wear both of them to impress everyone!

Fifth Night in Miami

Saturday night pretty much finalized that I won’t be moving to Miami. Not a huge disappointment; I’ve got two more cities to go to. Because of this I decided that I would just kind of chill out yesterday instead of doing more exploring. (Stop reading here if you are expecting a bit of excitement.) I chilled out on the porch for a while, took a nap, and then went to the beach later. Well, even though that may be boring, at least I got some nice pictures at the beach:

Today, I went on a rather long trip . . . to get Madden. But at least I have it now. Of course, I took a nap. Then I finally got the really nice dinner I have been wanting: Corona, snapper with plantains, a glass of wine, and a slice of key lime pie. It was expensive, and excellent.

There probably won’t be much more excitement until I get to San Francisco, but maybe I will feel like exploring some more tomorrow or Wednesday. That is the great thing – I have nothing planned and I can do whatever the hell I want. Yay!

Third Night in Miami

Well today started off pretty good. I set out for Little Havana. This is a really neat area. Everywhere you look, there are these lunch counters and cafeterias serving inexpensive Cuban food. Unfortunately, since it took me a while to get going the right way, I was really hungry with about 12 blocks to walk before I got to Little Havana, so I ended up eating at Burger King.

I only got pictures of some monuments, since any other pictures would have been of people, and I didn’t think they would like that too much.

Bay of Pigs Memorial

One interesting area that I really wanted to get a picture of was Domino Park. This is a little courtyard where a bunch of old Cuban guys play dominoes and talk.

After another failed attempt at buying Madden 2006, I came back and took a nap. It was still early, but I was hungry and had nothing to do, so I decided to scope out the club downtown that I wanted to go to later and then get something to eat. I took the bus downtown, and was (in theory) only 4 blocks away from the club, so I started walking there. It was only about 6:30pm, but evidently this is when the ruffians start coming out on Saturday nights. I had one guy trying to tell me he met me several weeks ago. Of course, I didn’t let on that I wasn’t from Miami, and I started to walk away. He proceeded to follow me, about a block behind, for several blocks. I found the club, and if things hadn’t been so shady, I would have walked around looking for a decent restaurant. But, I had two other people try to get my attention (I am sure they had something really important to say); I ignored them and decided to take the Metro Mover to the Bayside Marketplace for dinner. Dinner was good, the service sucked, and tip was automatically included.

I sat around for a little while, watching some live music at the marketplace, and waiting for it to get late. 10pm rolled around so I decided it was late enough to go to the club. I had a hell of a time finding a cabbie that wanted to give me a ride. Of course the “first cab” has dibs on passengers, but when there is no driver near the cab, this can get a little confusing. I hailed a cab, got into an argument with a couple of cabbies (this would be great comedy if caught on tape), and finally found someone that wanted my money. We made it about 10 feet towards the club when the cabbie informed me that the club didn’t even open until midnight. Well, I wasn’t about to sit around for two more hours, so I asked him if he knew of any good bars.

He took me back to south beach, and dropped me off at the absolute chillest place I have ever been to. This place had white curtains everywhere, beds to lay on while you sip your drinks, and a very shallow pool for looks in the middle of the garden area. The only problem was that this place wasn’t exactly the type of place where a dude like me can find a table in the corner and just enjoy a couple of beers. At this point, I decided that the night, and Miami as a whole, was pretty much a lost cause. I walked the 14 blocks back to my hotel, had a couple of Coronas and the free cigar I got earlier in the day out on the porch. After a whole book of matches, I can now say I know how to properly light a cigar.

Mark and I played a little World of Warcraft to round things out, so not all was lost.