Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Random Thoughts From My First Week in San Francisco

Tomorrow night will mark a full week that I’ve been living here in San Mateo (just south of San Francisco).  I am not a resident yet, as we are still waiting for our chosen residence to become available, and the family is still waiting to join me from Florida.  So, I’ve had plenty of alone time while exploring to ponder some of the thoughts that continue below…


I have walked more during this past week than I probably have all year long so far.  This is mainly because I don’t exercise like I should, keep myself too busy, and – most of all – Florida is simply not walker-friendly.  The only places where you can walk and feel relatively safe are the bicycle trails or beaches, if you’re lucky to have any near you.

Let’s not forget that Florida is HOOOOOOTTTT too!!!

I have been walking to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and work – and everything else in between.  One thing I noticed immediately was that no matter where I walked, all of the cars consistently go out of their way to let me pass.  As it turns out, I looked it up, and there’s a pretty good crosswalk law in the State of California to protect walkers.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this out.

I hope to continue this trend of walking as much as possible where ever it makes sense to do so.  The San Francisco area makes it too easy to do this, so I no longer have any excuses.

Commuter Train

I rode the CalTrain today to get to Redwood City and back to San Mateo again.  I was a little nervous about the experience, because this was one of the rare times where I didn’t really do much research about something before doing it.  This turned out to be a good thing in retrospect, as I was able to give you the following perspective from a true outsider.  :)

I arrived at the closest train station just in time to see that there wasn’t anyone there (I thought).  However, I had no clue how to get a ticket to ride the train.  And it was pretty clear from all of the signs that I needed a ticket before boarding.  After walking around for a few minutes, I noticed that this particular station had ticket booths at the center of the station on either side of the tracks.  Luckily, the ticket stations are pretty simple to use.  I had my day long pass bought in seconds.

I wasn’t sure at first which side of the tracks I should be one, as there weren’t any clear indications which side I should be one, despite there being plenty of other signs for various purposes all over the place.  Conventional wisdom kicked in, however, and I chose to follow the rules of the American roads, and chose the appropriate – which turned out to be a smart idea.  :D

The train was fun.  It was a quick ride to the nearby city, and a smooth one too.  In fact the stops were very well-planned, as they were all more than convenient, and I was happy to find out that they offer monthly passes, and allow bicycles onboard.

I will definitely be taking advantage of this system in the future.  And why not?  It will run whether I use it or not, and I can spend half the money that I usually spend on gas on a monthly pass!


With the family still in Florida, we’ve been making extensive use of Skype.  If you’re not familiar with Skype, it’s an instant message-like program that allows you to use it like a telephone with video.  Most people know this, but we have also been using it’s “extras” where you can do things like play games.  The kids and I have been having a blast playing checkers, hangman, bowling, and more.

I am just extremely surprised at how well it still works when the wireless connection at my hotel begins to fade away.  Great job by Skype!  (And they are moving their offices pretty close to where we’ll be living soon too.)


Over and over again you hear people talk about how the people in the south are so nice.  This is true in many places in the south, but not all.  In fact, Orlando is probably not one of them.  However, I have been impressed by the number of helpful and friendly people of all ages and appearances. 

I say appearances because of a few of the people I have come across.  There have been two homeless people I’ve come across, and both were very friendly and cordial.  Only one asked for money, but he was super nice about it.  Hehehe…

I have also come across a few of the younger people that look like a typical “punk” that have been nothing close to that.  Appearances mean less here than anywhere I have ever been so far.

That’s not to say that there’s no mean people here.  I am sure that there are plenty.  I just haven’t encountered then yet.  I have even been asked if I wanted a ride during one of my walks.  That simply doesn’t happen anymore these days.

The Little Things

I have been noticing many little things over and over that just make me laugh or make me think.  For example, at the CalTrain stations, there are signs posted to tell people to not commit suicide (not in those words). 

At many paid parking lots, there are solar-powered pay stations.  I have only one thing to say about this, “Duh!”  Municipalities world-wide, follow suit.

The cross walk buttons at each intersection actually work!  You press the button, and sometimes immediately, the light may change to allow you to walk.  I am used to those being a decoration on light signal poles.

Yelp and Foursquare is a way of life here.  Pretty much anywhere you go, you can only check-in because every place is already added.  However, Yelp also helps you to find places and review on places to make your decisions easier.  In fact, numerous businesses I have seen proudly display “Yelp Loves Us” stickers on their doors and windows.  I wish Orlando businesses would get it together!

All of the apps on my cell phone work better here too.  Part of it is clearly that the network infrastructure here is better, but there’s also more data here too.  This combination makes social apps so much more powerful (like those above).

Houses in this state generally don’t follow the same cookie-cutter pattern that the entire State of Florida has grown accustomed to.  I am so sick of entire neighborhoods looking the same.  It’s so great to finally see originality again.

Finally, I need to make a conscience effort to remember one thing…  I need to remember to no longer use the word “highway.”  Here, everyone says, “freeway!”  Hahaha!

Thanks for putting up with this dribble…  Enjoy your day!

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