Nov 14
  • There are no gas stations in downtown San Francisco. If you enter the downtown area on an empty tank your best bet for finding gas is to park in a garage, buy a gallon of milk, dump it out and take the BART 5 mi west. In AZ there will be at least 3 gas stations on each corner so I usually rely upon the low-gas warning light to tell me when I need to fill up. Bad idea here. Plus the problem is greatly compounded when you don’t know where you’re going. It’s gotta be an economics issue that the real estate is too valuable in the downtown district to permit a low-margin business like a gas station to survive. Still has to be some kind of opportunity here for a “taco-stand style” mobile unit that offers a small emergency amount of gas for a ridiculously high price. I’ll pitch this concept at Startup Weekend on Friday.
  • Gmail + iMAP + iPhone = Happiness. Gmail recently added iMAP support so now you don’t have to POP your mail from your mobile device. My Treo 650 recently bricked after i sent a regular ole text message- and this only a year after it learned to swim. I happened to be rebuilding my laptop from scratch that same day from a new Leopard install so I took the opportunity to make the switch and buy an iPhone and so far it’s been a beautiful device that does just about everything but make my bed. It makes the Android OS look incredibly lame.
  • The flavor in SF goes up to eleven. Are the taste buds of chefs in AZ somehow not as evolved?? Presumably the food here is more flavorful because all the ethnic dishes are cooked by people that were actually born in the place where the recipe was invented. Going back to chain restaurants and second-generation food preparers after this trip will be hard.
  • Walking everywhere keeps you from being fat. So to offset the effects of all the good food they have here, they do this think called “walking.” It’s a fairly simple and obvious observation but I’m blown away by how few obese people there are in this city. Scottsdale still has some of the most physically beautiful women on the planet but there are also a great deal of obese people there as well. Thinking about the dense cities my brother and I visited in Europe, this walking thing consistently appears to be the determining factor of fitness. Given how spread out Phx is and that it’s 120 deg three months of the year, I don’t see this problem resolving soon but simple daily walking appears to have a huge beneficial effect for the average person to stay in shape.
  • Parking is scarce. So yeah, another braindead obvious one for anyone who lives in a dense city but I’ve never lived in a place where water is so plentiful and parking so scarce. It makes sense to me now why my buddies from NYC think valet parking is so great- it gives them something precious they’re not used to rather than taking away something plentiful and charging for it. Being from AZ I see it as an absolute racket and a scourge on the city that a private company can come in and take all the empty parking spots and then sell them back to you. Here in SF though valet for $5 would be a godsend. The car manufacturer that figures out how to create the transformer car that do a head-stand and consume a parking surface of 5sqft has a billion-dollar opportunity if he/she figures it out. Seriously.

That’s about it. This is an amazing area. I’ll be posting pics of the trip in progress to my Flickr acct. If you live in the Bay Area or know someone interesting who does, let’s have lunch! I have about 3 more weeks left here and my goal is to make the most of each day and meet all the interesting people I can find.

6 Responses to “5 surprising things I’ve learned from living in SF the past week”

  1. sean says:

    right you are! corrected- thanks Alex.

    sean

  2. Peter Bell says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve driven in SF, but I’m pretty sure there are some gas stations out Lombard and down in SoMa (if you go far enough So of Ma).

    The post resonates though as I lived 7 years in Houston and then the last 7 in NYC, so I had almost exactly the same experiences – although I think the food’s even better in NYC.

    Right now I’m in Manly Sydney which combines the walking thing with a complete beach culture. Here the 3-4 lbs I could lose around my waist mark ME as one of the overweight :-

  3. Austin says:

    The first time I visited SF as an adult I rented a car and stayed at a hotel downtown somewhere. Checking in, I asked where I could park the car. The lady at the counter seemed shocked, shook her head and asked “You brought a car into the city!!?” It was a liability the rest of the time, except when we drove to Napa.

  4. Rob Huddleston says:

    Yup, everyone walks here because you either have to be insane or a tourist to drive. Plus, there’s the gas thing. Seriously, though – it’s only 7 miles from bay to ocean going east-to-west, and roughly the same distance north-to-south from the bay to South SF, so it’s not like anything is too far. Of course, the hills make it *seem* like you’re walking for miles and miles. Next time you are driving downtown, there’s a gas station at about 7th and Howard or Harrison. But then your next blog post will be about the price of gas here. Finally, while I don’t dispute your claim as to the quality of the female population in Scottsdale, you should wander down to the Marina some sunny afternoon. You won’t be disappointed.

  5. Maxim Porges says:

    That walking thing definitely holds true in the UK as well… much fewer gigantic fatties in London.

    I need to move back out West again one day…

    – max

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