j.j. toothman

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The post where I finally talk about leaving San Francisco

I’ve had a hard time getting myself to actually write this blog post.  In fact, I can’t believe I’m about to type the very next sentence.

My wife, our two sons, and myself are moving away from the San Francisco Bay Area.

When I moved to San Francisco in 1999, it was a dream come true.  I’ve said many times over the past 12 years that there was no way I was leaving SF for another city in the United States.  I would now like to retract all of those statements.


North Beach in San Francisco

So what’s happening?

We are relocating to Boston.  The movers are coming tomorrow to pack our house.  We already shipped one of our cars eastward. A few boxes have also been sent in advance.  We have plane tickets to Boston for Wednesday, April 13.  One way tickets.

Obviously, this has been in the planning for months.

And it’s been stressful.  Especially for the last month.  And it’s bittersweet.  San Francisco is an amazing city.  Living a few blocks from the beach in Half Moon Bay has been (for me) a dream come true.

For me, relocating east is a move back to New England, where I lived for the first 23 years of my life.  I’ll be moving closer to my Mom.  Immersed in Red Sox Nation.  Surrounded by many of my friends from my days at the University of Vermont.

For Keturah, it’s an opportunity to experiencing living in another state for the first time in her life.  In addition to going through all four seasons every year, she’ll be moving closer to her grandfather.

And for our kids, it’s a better educational system.  Apologies to people who grew up in California and to my friends raising kids here now, but simply put, the public schooling in California is not nearly as good as what can be found on the East Coast.

Regarding my position at NASA.  I’m keeping it.  It makes me extremely  happy to say that I work with a supportive team and people willing to let me continue performing the job that I love from afar, via a full time telecommute agreement.

Believe me.  It’s not easy leaving Northern California

There is so much that I love about living in Northern California.  I am nat moving a family of 4 all the way across the county1 because San Francisco sucks.  It doesn’t.  San Francisco is my favorite city in the U.S. and I don’t imagine that changing anytime soon.  I am going to dearly miss things like wine tasting days in Sonoma, Tahoe skiing, staring out at the Pacific, mouth watering burritos, the ever energetic tech scene, bar hopping North Beach, and seeing bands plat at The Fillmore.  As well as the friends and family that we are leaving behind.

San Francisco is the place where I met my wife.  Keturah and I were married in Golden Gate Park.  Our children were born here and took their first steps in the house that we are now boxing up.  The area is not lacking in once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Thus, the obvious question is “why leave?”.  As mentioned above, the quality of the public school systems is probably the single biggest reason we are doing this.  But there’s more to it than that. Things which I’ll share over time.  In short, it feels like the time is right for us to experience something different.

Boston, here we come

To our Boston friends and family.  We’re excited.  Very excited.  Moving is extremely hard.  The past month is as stressed as I’ve been in a long time.  Our entire focus has been on packing and preparing.  There hasn’t been a ton of time to think about all the great things ahead as we venture into New England living.  No, we don’t have a house yet.  Working on it.  For the next few weeks, we’ll be staying with family in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

And there’s plenty to be excited about.  I know that I’m looking forward to baseball games at Fenway this summer.  And camping trips to Vermont.  And swimming in the ocean with my family.


Fenway Park


  1. It doesn’t get much more cross country than what we’re doing 

My war on junk mail

About 6 months ago, I decided to I wanted to do something about the crap that was filling up my mailbox.  I’m not talking about my email inboxes.  Yes, there’s a lot of junk that finds its way in there, but unsubscribe links and filters are adequate ways to wage digital war on your email inboxes.  What I’m referring to is good old fashioned postal mail.  The thing that birthday cards from my grandmother appear in…that postcards from my mom’s world travels find their way to me.  Sadly those things are needles in the haystack of bills and just plain junk in the form of catalogs and coupons.  What I was finding was that I was simply recycling 75% of what was in our mailboxes without even looking at it for more than 5 seconds.  The issue was compounded for our family because we actually have a post office box in addition to our street mailbox. 

So what did I do about it?  Three things

First, I signed up for all the e-bills and paperless statement programs possible.  All but one of my regular bills could be eliminated this way. 1

Next, I started using Catalog Choice to eliminate unwanted catalogs.  The only catalog I still allow through is the REI catalog.

And lastly, I used the forms and contacts available on Recycle Works’ Stop Junk Mail page.  Another good link for Bay Area people is http://www.stopjunkmail.org/

While I don’t have any quantifiable data showing the reduction after these efforts, I can tell you that its less.  Certainly, I can’t remember when I threw out a pile of Pottery Barn catalogs or stack of grocery story coupons.

  1. The one holdout is our garbage service.  Come on Seacoast Disposal,get with the times 

Movies I’ve been watching with Mason recently

It’s pretty great that Mason is getting old enough so his taste in movies creeps closer to some of the films I enjoy watching over and over.  Kung Fu Panda is great, but after 137 viewings, I need some change.   Here’s what we’ve enjoyed together recently

  • Ghostbusters – he actually started quoting lines from the film and singing “Who you gonna call?”.  So. Proud.
  • Tron – unsure if I’ll be taking him to Tron Legacy this December
  • Superman II – actually not yet, but it’s coming to Netflix Instant in a couple weeks so we’ll be watching

A random list of things for October 9

My friend Dave is fond of writing blog posts that have the line “here it is list form, because people like lists.”  That’s probably true, so I’m going to use that writing technique to revive my posting on this site.  Anyway, here’s a random list of thoughts for you.

  • DVD Later – for adding movies currently in theatres to your Netflix Queue – is pretty awesomely convenient.  Especially if you’re lick me and 98% of your annual movie watching happens via Netflix DVDs at your house.
  • October just isn’t the same when the Red Sox aren’t in the playoffs.  It’s nice having the Giants make it, but its no replacement for the Sox.  Prediction: Phillies win it all
  • I’m a bit of data geek. Specifically, a data visualization geek, so I’m pretty excited about playing with Daytum.
  • I’ve launched a couple new sites in the past week.  I’ve fairly obsessed with online curating and determining how much “content creation” online can be pushed to zero effort.  Along those lines, I’ve created two new tumblr sites.  http://phishtank.tumblr.com catalogues great multimedia capture by fans on current Phish tour.  http://gov20.tumblr.com (yes, these sites couldn’t be more different) is a companion to the blog I started at http://nasawebdude.com about Government 2.0 and Open Government topics.
  • Speaking of Phish, the 3 night run I attended at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley this past August was one of my summer highlights.
  • Was in Chicago a couple weeks ago.  I hadn’t been there for over 10 years.  Forgot how great a city that is.  Need to go there for a long weekend with Keturah sometime soon.
  • Finally, yesterday was Keturah’s birthday.  Here’s a pic I took at the pumpkin patch we went to with the boys.  Sorry that its a bit blurry. It came from my iPhone


Succinct Gov 2.0 definition

I’ve previously blogged about the Gov 2.0 definition that I’ve been using as the basis for my thinking around the topic.  But the other day I found a shorter, to the point definition while surfing the interwebs via John Moore.

Government 2.0 is a citizen-centric philosophy/strategy where results are often driven by partnerships between citizens and government.

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