December 7th, 2000:
Silicon Valley Ho! (Bay Area BS)

These surfer pics are here for no reason.

Every summer when I was growing up, Joey Ford came out to my neighborhood to visit his grandparents from Milpitas, California, located in the heart of blossoming Silicon Valley. He told me unbelievable things like his elementary school locker was outside of all places, and he only wore a light sweater or a windbreaker in December. When his mom came out to visit I asked her if it was true, she assured me that he was telling the truth. She worked for a new software company. I’m sure she’s quite wealthy now. If I had kept in touch with Joey, I would have tried to look him up…

I’ve spent the past week in Silicon Valley. It’s been a bit of a pilgrimage for me. I’ve heard so many things… both good and bad… I wanted to see for myself. The following things are true:

  • My house would cost about $500k in the bay area.
  • Technology is everywhere… especially Sun (the “dot” in dot-com).
  • Startups are everywhere… so are a lot of unemployed entrepreneurs 😉
  • Apple headquarters is as cool as everyone says.
  • Living expenses are really THAT high.

The following things are false:

  • Everyone in Silicon Valley is/looks cool.
  • Everyone earns six figures a year.
  • Everyone is happy.
  • It never rains.

I learned a lot while I was out there (more than just the user data that we were collecting). There is a great need to fill positions in the bay area, but there’s nowhere to live within an hour’s drive… at least not at what those positions will pay. I’m sure there are more six figure salaries out there than here, but that money won’t stay in the bank for very long. Rent, food, gas, and entertainment costs are through the roof.

I didn't see any surfers.

A few nights the weather was great… mid-fifties with clear skies. However that doesn’t justify the inflated cost. The views are nice… if you can deal with the traffic to get to them. The culture is unique… if you can deal with the eccentricities of it. The cars don’t rust and stay clean longer, but there’s nowhere to drive in the city.

I didnt even see the ocean when I was in San Jose.

I hate to say it, but Silicon Valley isn’t what I expected. It was dirty more often than hip. It’s more expensive than Southern California and not as nice. There’s a huge cluster of hi-tech opportunities but there’s a plethora of low-tech complications and problems. Maybe I’m used to the mid-west. Maybe I’m just a boring Michigander (gawd, I hate that word… it sounds like we should all be laying eggs), but this state isn’t that bad.

For now I guess my future will be here… unless prices on the coast plummet or I win the lottery.

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