post A new spin

March 14th, 2008

Filed under: Cycling,San Francisco,Scotland — mat @ 5:36 pm

I often find the similarities between my two cities as charming as the differences. Last weekend, in the process of buying Orla a bike, we encountered a bit of both.

The Bike Station is a business/community organization so innately San Franciscan in character, it’s a little bit shocking to find it hidden among the ancient streets of Edinburgh. Every bicycle merchant may be presumed to want to put more butts on bikes, but these lads actually do something about it. (more…)

post Market forces

February 10th, 2008

Filed under: San Francisco,Scotland — mat @ 10:39 am

This weekend’s move went off reasonably smoothly, and we’ve even discovered a free wi-fi accessible from the front of the flat (though not the back). There is far too much to say about this weekend to possibly fit into the brief format reasonably expected in a blog, so I’ll leave the description of our new home and neighborhood for a future post and confine myself to a subject I know will interest several of my friends: our first visit to a Scottish farmer’s market. (more…)

post Anniversary

February 7th, 2008

Filed under: San Francisco,Scotland — mat @ 12:27 am

Today marks 11 years since Orla and I met. Astute readers of this blog will recognize that this also marks the first anniversary of the day we hatched the “Scottish Plan.” And the comparisons are in many ways more applicable than the contrasts. (more…)

post Skype tales

February 4th, 2008

Filed under: General,San Francisco,Scotland — mat @ 12:35 pm

Sunday 4:45 a.m. the phone rings. No, not the phone. It’s Skype. The call isn’t unexpected, but it’s about 15 minutes early. Bleary-eyed, we stumble out of bed and vaguely assemble ourselves before answering. On the other side of the digital mirror is California, Saturday 8:45 p.m. and a sea of familiar faces welcoming us into their party. Welcome indeed. Welcome to the world of straddling two time zones through the demi-miracle that is Skype. (more…)

post And now for something completely different…

December 21st, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco — mat @ 6:20 pm

My last day at Red Hill Studios today. It was sunny with brisk winter air. The winter solstice. A time for turning.

The adventure is upon us.

post 11/26/07 – 12/4/07 Rush Hour

December 4th, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco,Scotland — mat @ 10:09 am

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed a dearth of posts over the last few weeks. This reflects neither a cessation of the blog, nor a lack of events: quite the opposite, in fact. I guess we always knew that the month of the move would be hectic, so we’re not so much surprised as simply flat-out busy. Here’s the latest: (more…)

post Less breast meat but twice as many drumsticks

November 26th, 2007

Filed under: General,San Francisco — mat @ 10:20 am

The Thanksgiving holiday, America’s national nosh-up, went off for us this year with the usual combination of over-inflated bellies and familial folderol. This year, though, the entertainments were extended outside those found in the playbook of traditional family must-dos (at least for our family).

Halfway through the appetizers, but before the slicing of the turkey, my sister and her partner had to excuse themselves for a few late arrivals. They’re dog breeders, you see, and had shown up trailing Zoe, an exceptionally pregnant Labradoodle. Zoe seemed to feel that it was high time she got a little more attention, so she let loose with a fury, delivering nine cute-as-a-button Labradoodle puppies in my mother’s bathroom. Fortunately, my mother is forgiving and my step-father keeps a lot of tarps and old towels lying around.

post Back in the U.S. – Day 1

November 11th, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco — mat @ 3:08 pm

Just kidding. No intent to publish a daily blow-by-blow, but we are back in San Francisco. Too tired for any prolonged explication of the trip that was, but it all looks very fine and there should be useful news in a few days. For now, just a bit of shopping, collection of a kitty, then a simple dinner and a long night’s sleep.

post California gives us a big send-off

October 30th, 2007

Filed under: San Francisco — mat @ 9:06 pm

8:04 pm. Night before the flight. Sushi in West Portal. The Earth begins to shake.

Yes, indeed, the Great Earthquake State is sending us off in grand style. A 5.6 quake just shook the Alum Rock area of San Jose (about 50 miles away). We felt it quite distinctly in West Portal, raising rather more nervous laughter among the diners than actual panic.

What do we think? A good omen?

post Separating Apples from lemons

October 30th, 2007

Filed under: General,San Francisco — mat @ 3:05 pm

Y’know, it’s not like Apple is the perfect company or anything, but every now and again I realize why I just love doing business with them.

There was that time that our cat tore three keys off my laptop keyboard. I took it to the Genius Bar, expecting to have to pay some other-worldly sum to replace the keyboard. The ‘genius’ took one look and said: ‘Let me guess. Cat, right?’ One minute later he pushed three snap-in keys onto my board and I was on my merry way, free of charge. Genius, indeed.

On another occasion, I had a broken power adapter. The salesman worked out that it was just a minor problem with the ‘duck’s head’ (the bit that actually plugs into the wall). Popped, replaced, on my way…once again, free of charge. Try getting that kind of service at CompUSA or Best Buy.

Well, they did it again today. I’ve been into the San Francisco store quite a bit lately, picking up a spare battery and investigating a sound system for the pending move. I was a bit dumb (and the packaging was a bit less than perfectly marked), and it ultimately took three tries to get the right battery. There was also one salesperson who got, shall we say, a bit over-excited about what constituted the ‘right’ sound system. Well, I responded to the store’s ‘how was your shopping experience?’ questionnaire; today, the Store Manager phoned me to talk about what happened and how the experience could be made better.

Now, I should point out that I didn’t give the store a failing grade or anything. Far from it. I don’t think I even mentioned the salesperson with the speakers. The manager was just calling because the response “could have been better.”

He talked about how Apple could label certain products better (and the part he could play in making that happen). He apologized for the speaker incident after I explained it, noting that some of his employees are quite enthusiastic about what they do. He even proactively suggested that his staff could be better trained to identify poorly labeled items and ask the customer if they were sure they’d selected the right product. The only thing he didn’t do was to offer me a free copy of Leopard for my troubles (ok, that might be pushing it, but it would have been appreciated nonetheless).

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