Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
June 9th, 2010


Silicon Valley for Midwesterners 1.0

A hearty welcome to a good Midwestern friend of mine, self-styled “The Author” (especially in face-to-face conversation), who has followed me into the code-tourist trap apparently known as “Sam Clam’s disco”. You’ll love it here: it’s the most culturally and technologically advanced population center this side of the Asteroid Belt, judging solely by the number of iPhones in use at any given moment. (Honestly, Mars & co. aren’t much competition.)

You’ll probably appreciate these useful use-relative tips from a fellow Midwesterner who’s been stuck in these parts for the last few years:

  1. The City and County of San Francisco holds a monopoly on all destinations in “the City”. Most of the other municipalities reduced their market share to a combined 5‰ after throwing their support behind the Raiders decades ago.
  2. If someone asks what party you belong to, you’re in tricky waters: liberalism only extends roughly 50 miles from the corner of Jackson and Stockton in the City, near which point stands an X-rated fortune cookie factory. (Of course it’s relevant.) But beyond that, you’re in territory so red it makes those cheap plastic cups look downright green. Anyways, just say you’re with the Flat-Pluto Society, for if there’s one thing the locals love more than a partisan fight, it’s a lost cause.
  3. Supposedly the cops here aren’t allowed to blame you for the enhanced framerate built into their standard-issue sunglasses.
  4. Though this is Northern California, you’ll find plenty of SoCal expatriates who care deeply about definite articles. So to head off the 101 / the 101 controversy, just call it “Root 101”, nice and proper.
  5. A visit to Costco requires a full day off work, just to navigate the crowds. Your manager may be able to provide you with a canned out-of-office response that consists of: “Costco run.”
  6. Chipotle burritos don’t count as burritos. They aren’t served with habañeros from a kitchen on wheels for less than $5.
  7. Snow is what you put in a cone, not what you toss into the street only to have Public Works shove right back onto your driveway.
  8. Bookmark this page, so you know whether that shaking came from the rock a mile down or your neighbors a floor up.
  9. Get a GPS, so you don’t accidentally get stuck in an infinite loop.
  10. Cell phone reception is terrible, so ditch it and grab a landline. TV reception is fickle, so ditch it and read the newspaper. Local GPS data is poor, so ditch it and buy an atlas. Electricity is spotty some years, so ditch it and dig out your kerosene lamp instead.

Did I mention it’s the most technologically advanced population center this side of the Asteroid Belt?