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If you’re going… to San Francisco….

San Francisco Skyline from Coit Tower

I am not a fan of “big cities.”

That said, San Francisco is my favorite of all of the ones I have visited in person. Others that I rank highly are Boston, Chicago, Montreal, and Kyoto.

So, when I saw a slideshow entitled “Things I learned after I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area” in, I ASSUMED that it would be about the “Bay Area.” Wrong. The title was merely a synecdoche – “a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something, or vice versa.”

SFGate was talking about things (right and wrong, “weird” and “normal”) that people learn when they move (or merely visit) SAN FRANCISCO! I lived in the Bay Area for awhile before we bought our first home, so I learned that the meteorological microclimates are mirrored by “cultural microclimates” – every town and city in the Bay Area seems to have its own culture. Find weather and culture that you like (and can AFFORD) and settle in. We chose to settle about an hour from San Francisco, which gives us a sunny climate and easy access to San Francisco’s treasures without forcing us to confront its problems on a daily basis.  The cover text for the slide show starts out:

Not everyone is lucky enough to be born and raised in San Francisco, and for those of us who had the opportunity to move to the Bay Area, there may have been a steep learning curve.

Some of the most relevant slides, to me, state things like:

  • “You will freeze during the summer in San Francisco.” (The warmest month of the year is September. October is nice, too.)
  • “San Francisco is a city for adults who never want to grow up.” (Yep. 😉 )
  • “San Francisco has an intriguing history full of political corruption and violence.” (There are people who seem to want to perpetuate the history, at least the corruption part.)
  • “‘Hella’ is a word.”
  • “Forget about driving in the snow or ice. People can’t drive in the rain in the Bay Area.” (Yes, this applies to the WHOLE Bay Area. :-) )
  • “NorCal and SoCal are two very different things.” (They really are not ALL that different. The same hubris that causes San Francisco to think that it represents the entire Bay Area affects ALL areas of California, and people are proud of where they live. There are some very DISTINCT differences between NorCal and SoCal, however. Some result from population and crowding.)
  • “California is ginormous.” (Although this SEEMS like it is talking about the whole state, I believe that SFGate was merely considering “driving time” from San Francisco. :-) )
  • “Anything less than a 5.0 earthquake is not really a big deal.” (It’s true, although the biggest that I have experienced was a 5.7 [revised upward], and I was once in a 3.0 in a glass-encased office on the 3rd floor that was a pretty unnerving. :-) )
  • “Gentrification is bad.”
  • “It’s not called ‘pop,’ it’s ‘soda.'”

So… if you’re going… to San Francisco, there is no need for flowers in your hair, anymore. Be aware of cultural “flashbacks” however, and remember that “The City” can still be a dangerous place. For the most part, my favorite “big city” is an enjoyable collection of cultures and treasures that you do not need to be wealthy to enjoy.

-Bill at

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