The end?

I'm home. But it will never really
End. I'm different.


She hauled her fat red suitcase up into the back of the Prius (everyone drives one in California, it seems) and looked up at the sky. "Oh, no," she said. "Cloudy..."

Her soon-to-be-former roommate smiled. "It's because California is sad you're leaving." She brightened.


A mass of vegetables and scrambled eggs meant breakfast. Overpriced, for sure, but delicious. She, her boyfriend, and his parents sat down and watched the periodic fluctuations in the security line. "I think it's time for me to go... thank you again for the ride, and thank you," she turned to the blonde boy with his muted, but still present, grin, "for everything. This summer was fantastic."

"I'm glad I met you," he said. "You made things infinitely more interesting."

A kiss. "Goodbye."


Her face was pressed against the glass. SFO slipped sideways as she whispered a farewell to the state and everything it had provided her for the summer. The plane took off, whisking through San Francisco's characteristic clouds. A few wisps blew across the wing, catching the sun just right. Rainbows poured off behind, and she knew it would be okay. California wasn't going anywhere.


Routine. Well, maybe.

Thanks, everyone, for making this a phenomenal summer. I'll never forget you. :)


Best weekend ever!

From deserts to moons,
Stars to dawns, forests to nights,
Traveling by car.

Holy crap, I'm exhausted. Evan and I spent way too long in the car after Defcon. We left on Sunday around 4:30pm and got back to Mountain View yesterday around.. 10:30am. When we went to work.

The drive was phenomenal, though. We swept up through Death Valley, which we reached at such a time that we got to see the sunset. It was wicked hot. We'd elected to leave the AC off both to minimize the risk of overheating the car (which we almost did, anyway; it wasn't making happy sounds as we climbed the mountains around the valley in 114 degree heat) as well as to really get the desert experience. Watching the sunset was great. Everything around was totally barren, the mountains turned orange... yeah. I don't quite know how to describe it.

Then, more driving! We stopped to watch the Perseids for a bit later through the desert, once it had cooled off.

Further driving. We got to a town called Bishop, CA, that, according to our primitive map, was approximately even latitudinally with Mountain View, though pretty far over and across the Sierra Nevadas. We found a road, too, marked 168 West. It didn't show up on our map, but anything that goes West directly towards our destination has to be good, right?

So we climb to 8,500 ft on this road. And we see another sign. End 168. $*#(@)$@.

So we lost an hour and a half there, and we bowed to asking for directions at a motel. By this point, it's about midnight. At the motel:

Us: Hi, what's the fastest way to San Jose?
Motel guy: Well, it's probably not going to save a lot of time, but I'd guess going up to Reno and back down.
Us: ...ummm... isn't there a shorter way?
Motel guy: You can drive up through Yosemite, but going in the mountains is going to slow you down.
Us: Eff.

So we called Steven for directions to do this crazy thing, and he informed us that we were 300 miles and over 7 hours from home. Disheartening, to say the least.

So we drive up to Yosemite. Around 2am, we're both lagging pretty hard core (since we got so little sleep over the weekend already), and we decide to park the car on a scenic vista turnoff thing and sleep a few hours. At 5am, we wake up and continue on.

Seeing dawn in Yosemite was beautiful. The pine trees, black, silhouetted against the lightly blue/grey sky made a pretty dramatic drive. We were still too tired to properly appreciate it, but c'est la vie.

Driving, driving. We get to San Jose just in time for rush hour! Terrible. But the car gets returned, we magic our way through some public transit, and we get to work at 10:30. And work. For a full day. And, last night, sleep. For 12 hours. Feels good!



I don't know how to
Hack, but I feel totally
Ninja typing here.

In the middle of the desert, in sunny Las Vegas, NV, I'm learning about computer security. There've been some neat talks. One about war ballooning (see: war driving), there's one coming up about hacking the LCD billboards that seem so popular now, there're some about lockpicking, etc., etc. All these people are either totally ninja or total posers (I guess I'm a poser, but whatever). It's neat to be here, though.

Even the badges for the con are sweet. They have LCD lights and an infrared transmitter. They're totally programable! I can't wait to play around with the light settings and stuff.

Oh, as a sidenote? Evan picked up some beater frickin laptops for us to use this weekend. We didn't want our real laptops getting pwned. (There's a thing here called the "wall of sheep" that continually displays the logins and passwords and stuff of everyone who's too lazy to block out hackers.) So I'm writing this post in w3m. I think that makes me a badass. ;) At least, a little bit.

Anyway, I know it's been a while since I've written anything, but I have to just glaze over the things I've done in the interim. I went to Yosemite (Evan, Mike, and I hiked to the top of the mountain and swam in an amazing, frigid, spring-fed pool) and whitewater rafting (class IV! woot!) last weekend, had a birthday party for Evan (with delicious cheese), saw Venus (did the touristy thing), went to Chicago for a couple days (weird to be home), didn't sleep enough (I'm at about 26 hours for the last week), and saw my host for the last time (sadness!).

I can't believe next week is my last at Google! GAH!!



Wisdom for all
Is to be shared in a knol,
So go check it out!

knol.google.com , my team's webpage, launched publicly today! Surf on over if you have time!


A bummer. Maybe.

No longer a teen,
But I can enjoy myself
And go crazy yet.

I had a pretty cool birthday. :] Robby, Evan, Jeff, Mehul, and I hit up SF for the evening and went to an 18+ music place where there were local bands, etc. The place was full of hipsters, coolly watching the music and enjoying its artistic significance. Evan and I danced. Good times. The City, though, is pretty lame on a Tuesday. I guess I'll have to party up next year when my birthday is instead on a (BUM BUM) Wednesday. Hahaha.

The week itself was a little dull. Evan, Mehul, and I went to see Wanted, which was awful. There was game night and Frisbee, soccer, ... Oh, Friday night Evan, Robby, Alex, Dave and I attended another silly hipster event. It was silent movies with scores provided, live and impromptu, by local bands. That was kinda neat. The films were definitely enjoyable, but a little weird for my tastes. Except for one that was a 4 minute film that basically involved a fractaly morphy thing. :D

Saturday Evan and I got a car, since we intended to go hang gliding on Sunday. That didn't happen, but, anyway, on Saturday we went to Santa Cruz. So full of tourists. But what can one expect? We did find a place a couple miles up the coastline where there was an enormous rock covered in pelicans, and a little farther up yet there was an ocean research place that was part of UC Santa Cruz. They had, like, full size whale skeletons. Whale bones don't feel like what I expected, though. We enjoyed the sun and surf. Watching the ocean waves break against the cliffs was so... not Indiana-esque.

I got to try out scuba diving on Saturday, too. In a little dive shop in Santa Clara there's a pool and a $15 try-it-out type of program. One of the interns from Apple that I met randomly on the Caltrain set up a big Google/Apple program for us all to try it. SO MUCH FUN. I totally want to get certified now.

After that, Steven, Evan, and I went to Palo Alto. I'd never seen a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, but at the Stanford Theater they were showing "Top Hat." Most excellent. I felt pretty classy sitting in that sweet theater and watching a film from 1935. ^__^

Sunday was the day we were supposed to go hang gliding, but I guess I failed to actually set it up. It was apparently too foggy to have done it that day, anyway (according to the woman I called). So we instead wandered around the Mount Tamalpais (or something) park. It was GORGEOUS to be above the clouds, then in the clouds, looking over golden fields and evergreen forests... mmmm...

I got to spend more time with Robby, too; since Evan and I had a car we explored the North Bay and then met up with him for dinner at a(nother) hipster place. This one was faux Asian. The food was delicious! And I can't say the atmosphere didn't amuse me.

It was a full weekend, for sure. I hope that I manage to blog more than once a week, but we'll see. ;)


Another big weekend!

Fire, erupting
From metal, shooting up and
Alighting the sky.

The Fire Arts Festival happened in Oakland this weekend. It was super! I guess I can't really post pictures from it (they're kind of hard to take), but I can talk about some of the super awesome things that were there:

Fire Piano! There was a keyboard hooked up to an array of torches that would spit fire when the keys were played. Evan totally rocked Fur Elise on this.

Fire dancers! This is requisite at a festival involving fire.

Fire tornado! I don't know exactly what the fuel to this was, but there was a gas vapor or something being blown out of a vent in the ground and into cross-breezes created by a circle of industrial fans. It was then lit, and, voila! Fire tornado!

Fire Battlebots! Two guys + remote controls + ROBOTS THAT SPIT FIRE.

Fire and ice! A block of ice with a torch in the middle that would intermittently flare up and melt a little more (in a nifty pattern, mind you) on the inside of the ice.

Fire bubbles! A bubble blowing machine that put oxygen and petroleum into regular soap bubbles was encased in a plexiglass hexagon. There were a few holes in the container, and through those the organizers had stuck hot pokers for popping the bubbles with sastifying BOOMS and flareups. There were even knobs on the sides of the case for adjusting the mix of flash and bang.

Tesla coils! They shoot lightning! There was a guy dancing around underneath one of them in a Faraday suit. I'm so jealous!

That was Saturday night! During the day Saturday, Evan and I hit up the City and visited the SF MOMA, which was definitely pretty neat. The best art was on the third floor, where you aren't allowed to take pictures. Bummer.

Across from the Museum is Yerba Buena gardens, where we found a sweet tea house. We had $7 tea and a fudge brownie with green tea mousse.

Eating in the City is pretty much the best thing ever. I had a burrito in the Mission and some awesome Chinese food in China Town. :3

Kung Fu Panda took up part of my time this weekend, too. I'm not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. A lot. :D

Anyway, that was my weekend. I think. Maybe there was something else. But, regardless, it's time for me to get to work so that I can get off early and go celebrate being 20! ^_____^



How can something so
Delicious be so bad for
My iron level?

Crap. I went to donate blood today, and I was told that my iron level was too low for me to do it safely. A total bummer. I'm a little suspicious of their newfangled California hemoglobin machine, especially since it registered a 10% jump in my iron level between the two tries within 10 minutes, but, nevertheless, I wasn't allowed to give blood.

The culprit? Tea. Did you know that tea has tannins that prevent your body from absorbing iron? Hmm. I'll have to cut back before next time, I guess. ;____;



Holy crap! One week?
How can I pretend to be

Is my birthday in less than a week? Yipe! 20! ;____; So oldddddddd..... hahah. :)



Natural beauty,
Plastic and metal speed, both
Part of big weekends.

Cramming 12 college kids into a passenger van for a three day weekend lends itself to a lot of fun. We managed to get a sweet cabin just off Lake Tahoe (Nevada side). From it, we could see the mountains, the lake, the stars... oh, it was amazing.

For the 4th, we bummed around the beach. We got schooled in volleyball, threw a Frisbee, kicked a soccer ball, barbecued (which was super exciting for me, since we got free-range chicken! yum-o!), and watched the fireworks. Woot!

The next day, we managed to leave the house by 2:30 (pathetic, I know) and get to Tahoe City to rent jetskis and a motorboat. Evan and I showed everyone how it was done. :P The bruise hasn't showed up on my hip yet, but when it does...

More barbecue that night, and then a trip to Reno. I feel I deserve a medal of some kind for driving that damn van through the mountains. But anyway, we scoped the casino scene (ca-scene-o?) and then meandered (read: slowly moved to the car and had Valkyrie and Garrett drive for 45 minutes through intense mountains at 2 in the morning) back to the cabin at Incline Village.

It was truly a star-gazing, jetskiing, barbecuing, volleyballing, van-driving, swimming, casinoing, hiking, picture-taking, boating, wandering, chattering, not-enough-sleeping, chess-playing, billiardsing good time. :D


The Penny Saver, an Answered Prayer

With living in a real apartment (as opposed to one on campus) I've started getting my first junk mail. Today's post brought me the Penny Saver. I had thought that the internet, helped along by ebay, had replaced this kind of printed "for sale" advertising, but I was much mistaken. I didn't find any couples wanting to adopt (as featured in the movie "Juno"), but I did find quite a few posts thanking various saints for miracles and answered prayers. Nestled between an advertisement for a collection of cassette tapes and one for like new designer purses was an add thanking St. Jude for "Miracles on my hours of Despair." I don't know if St. Jude reads the Penny Saver, but I rather enjoy thinking about him sitting around and poking through his junk mail.



Swallows drop shadows
In heathery fields as I lie
And watch the river.

Today was Knol's offsite; we decided to go whitewater rafting. A few hours on a river is enough to get to know people. I was really glad for the opportunity to spend time with my team, especially since I work so far away from them.

The river involved some Class III rapids, which isn't, you know, really hardcore, but it was definitely a fun day. Some parts were a challenge. Riding in front was great.

At the stop for lunch, there was a hill unlike any I'd seen in California so far. It was covered in some kind of green and purple grass. No trees. There was a rock at the top that I had to hike up to. Seeing the river (which I guess is the busiest in America for rafting) and the surrounding hills and rocks and trees was really peaceful. :)

So my arms are dead from a full day of rafting today, but the rest of my body is dead from a full weekend of biking in San Francisco. There was a critical mass ride on Friday, and that was a good time. A slew of bikers biking wherever they please through rush hour traffic. Hahaha.

Also Friday was a visit to a jazz club for a band that played lots of awesome tuneage, including a jazzy rendition of "Spanish Castle Magic." Awesome.

Saturday was pretty chill: a visit to the Computer History Museum for a look at Babbage's Difference Engine #2 and a trip to the theater to see Wall-E. So sad.

Sunday? The Gay Pride Parade in SF! Super festive and awesome. Also, the best breakfast ever. Hunger is the best spice, and I was starving. A ride (after many wrong turns) up to Sausalito and a ferry ride back to the city rounded out the day.

And now, I need some sleep. I'll try to edit this post with pictures from the weekend sometime.


Big Frickin Weekend

Free-falling to Earth,
Saved by a bright parachute,
My first time. Awesome!

I almost can't believe that I can actually cross skydiving off my list. It was an incredible experience. Seventeen of us interns went for the adventure. It was about $200/person for the whole day (including car rentals, gas, food, etc.), which is nothing for such excitement.

Honestly, the terror was a lot worse in the plane on the way up than it was actually falling. Evan was the first one out of my planeload, and he got the distinct pleasure of sitting next to the open side of the plane as we climbed to 13,000 ft. We each had altimeters on our wrists, and right at 13,000 the plane leveled off and Evan went... away.

My tandem guy (Marcus) scooted me down the bench and in front of the yawning opening at the back of the plane. I saw Evan and his instructor, now just a tiny dot, falling fast. "Dive flow," I thought to myself. I grabbed my harness, did the one-two-three rocking motion ("ready, set, dive!") with Marcus, and I was skydiving! There was so much wind, but I could still hear myself screaming, I think. Mind you: it was screams of joy, not screams of terror! Sooooooo much fun.

At 7,000 feet, Marcus tapped me on the shoulder, and I looked at my wrist. I watched it drop down to 5,5o0 feet, then reached back and pulled the golf ball that released the chute. A satisfying *funf* heralded the opening of the chute, and suddenly we were drifting happily, almost a mile above the countryside.

The canopy was almost as good as the freefall, honestly. Marcus let me steer the parachute for a while, and we spun around in impressively tight corkscrews. I didn't realize how much control there was to be had over falling!

The landing was easy. Marcus did most of it. Instead of landing undignifiedly on my butt, like all the other first-timers, I proudly landed on two feet. :)

After such an adventure, food was necessary. Evan, Taejin, Dean, and I took one of the rental cars that we'd booked for the weekend to Sacramento. I was disappointed with how empty the city was, but I didn't much care after the day's excitements. We had dinner at a delicious Italian place downtown.

All in all, I'm still completely wiped from the weekend. I'm hoping to get a proper night's sleep sometime in the near future, but we'll see whether that happens or not.


Big Basin, part II

Valkyrie and company hiked around the loop one direction, and the rest of us hiked the same trail the other way. So incredible. There aren't words for it... so I leave you with a few pictures. But you should know that even the photos don't begin to capture the size and impressiveness of this place.



Dirt, caked into my skin,
A thousand years of redwoods,
Some burnt, most still grand.

Big Basin is only an hour from here, and the scenery there is phenomenal. I can't believe I hadn't visited there before today! Robby set up a hike for all of us through the park. It was awesome. The waterfalls, the trees... just getting back to nature after spending my week staring at a screen was pretty much the best thing ever.

It was strange to see the ravages of the fire, too. Seeing such majestic towers with dark scars like that...

I'm tired, though. 10 miles through hills was intense. We all got super dehydrated, too, because we didn't realize that we would be going on such a big hike.

Post hike, Robby, Doug, Evan, and I managed to get lost. Well, mostly me. We found Santa Clara, though. :P

For Mehul's birthday, we went out for dinner at a delicious Indian place. Mmmmmm....



Hidden in gardens
Sparkles something amazing.
Google and elsewhere.

I got the special treat of listening to Dale Chihuly at a tech talk today. He showed videos of installations he's done in places like Jerusalem, which is way awesome. I wish that I knew how to blow glass...

The intern lunch was yesterday! It wasn't so much of a success as I'd hoped for, but definitely everyone seemed to have fun, and the Cool People mailing list and calendar got publicized, and I met a couple new interns. The conference bike races were AMAZING. I think the blue bike is a little faster. There's a video of the race someplace around here... Taejin (the other knol intern; he works with the team in Korea, actually) took one, I believe.

Oh! Right! Google Serve! I went to San Bruno Mountain and helped keep control of invasive plants (i.e. I pulled weeds) for an afternoon. That was a lot of fun. Plus I got another t-shirt. I think I'm up to 7 now. And one guy who I was weeding with said that I can have one of his Google shirts, which is amazing. The shirt in question? All it says is "I have root @ Google". Badass.

New interns came on Tuesday to the farm area that I work in. One of them named his host Jimi. As in Hendrix. He has very much potential to be cool. ;)

Anyway, I think that this little deviation from my regularly scheduled work has gone on long enough. There will be more to post after this weekend, for sure.

And happy 21st birthday to both Pat and Mehul this week!


RoboGames and CalTrain adventures

This weekend a few of us went in to SF to attend the RoboGames. It was supposed to be an awesome event with everything from battlebots to random robotics booths. However, the battlebots was the only thing worth watching, and that had long delays in between little pieces of action. There was one good moment, however, when a hundred pound robot was flipped ten feet into the air and out of the ring by a monstrous bot named 'Ziggy'.

The real highlight of this trip: the food. We found an awesome Chinese restaurant in a basement beneath China Town. I ate a plate of Ginger Squid and Scallops - delicious! Unfortunately I don't think anyone remembers the name of the place, nor the random alley and steps that we went down to get there...

On the train ride back to Mountain View we stopped in Palo Alto for dinner, thinking we would catch the next train an hour later. We were all waiting on the platform for the 10:00 train when we saw it pull up --- on the wrong platform. We were all shocked. We didn't know what to do. Was this a special train that liked to tempt fate by riding on a track going the wrong direction? After a few seconds of confusion, everyone on the platform (about thirty people in all) booked it down the tunnel, under the tracks, past the sleeping homeless man and his shopping cart, and up onto the other side... just in time to see the train pull away. One desperate and angry would-be passenger threw his water bottle at the train. Fortunately he missed, but it represented our feelings quite accurately.

So, we did what anyone would do if they were stuck in Palo Alto for an hour and had already eaten dinner: we got ice cream. More specifically we got gelato, which is just ice cream that you have to pay more money for.

So, for the third time that night we were on the Palo Alto platform for the train. We pondered what our best strategy would be so that we wouldn't miss the next train in the same manner. One suggestion was to wait in between the tracks, but that was quickly vetoed. We looked at the schedule and saw that another train was supposed to arrive at approximately the same time going the other direction, so we guessed that our train would not dare arrive on the wrong track again. We guessed correctly. Half the platform cheered when the train arrived, and the other half looked quite confused.


Extreme Soreness

Gah! My frickin' legs!
At least I got a nice tan
For compensation.

Right. Too bad that isn't good enough. I spent 5 hours (ish) playing Ultimate this weekend against people from Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo! It was an awesome tournament, to be sure, but I was awfully tired afterwards. Which meant, of course, that I had to go on a 20-25 mile bike ride with Steven and Evan through SF the next day. It was gorgeous! I didn't know that LucasArts was based in SF, either, so that was neat to see.

I have to say that biking across the Golden Gate bridge was pretty rewarding, too. Despite the fact that, while going around the columny pillary things, I almost blew off. Ridiculous wind!

And then there was Ghiradelli square. I got the MOST AMAZING ICE CREAM SUNDAE ever! Scoop of mint dark chocolate chip ice cream + dark hot fudge + scoop of dark chocolate ice cream + more dark hot fudge + whipped cream + nuts + little square of Ghiradelli mint dark chocolate = very happy Valkyrie.

I'm enjoying the sense of camaraderie that's beginning. Randomly on the train Evan, Steven, and I started talking to some guys who happen to be interns at Apple. We even had lunch with them. Gasp. But I think that all the inter-company intern things could be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the currently-nebulous Google-Apple soccer game or CTF game. :D


Another Day in the Life of a Google Intern

I met an important Googler today: Alfred Spector, VP of Research. He used to be the CTO / VP of Research & Software at IBM, and also used to be a professor at CMU (where he founded a company that popularized an important distributed file system -- there are lots of Googlers with CVs like this!) He's Stanford alum, too ;)

Anyway, I was having dinner outside with some other interns and he overheard us talking about the ACM ICPC and came by to introduce himself! We had an interesting talk. Google Research presents a pretty remarkable opportunity: Google has amassed talent that bring to mind Bell Labs half a century ago (in fact, Google already has two Turing Award winners on staff: Vint Cerf, who invented TCP/IP at Stanford, and Ken Thompson, who created Unix at Bell Labs). Google Research Labs could very well be the next PARC, IBM Research, or even Bell Labs. I remarked that, although Google has already touched the lives of millions of people today, it could be Google Research that impacts millions of people's lives for decades to come, just as Bell Labs has with the transistor, the laser, information theory, Unix/C/C++, the solar cell, and so many other contributions!

So there you have it, my first blog post: just another day in the life of a Google intern!


Sports Galore

Only thirty-eight?
You make a respectable
team, Neo Edgers.

So today brought an inter-company intern soccer game: Google vs. Neo Edge. I guess Neo Edge has only 38 employees, plus 15 interns. Crazy! It was a fun game. We won 7-2, but they definitely played aggressively, and a couple of their players were awesome.

I can't wait for the GAFY Ultimate Tournament this weekend. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo FTW!! :D



Tis a silly thing
To walk on a rope twixt trees
But I am da bomb!

I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but in Golden Gate Park on Sunday there happened to be tightrope walkers. Alex, Evan, Sarah, and I all tried our hands (or feet, I guess) at tightrope walking. I took, like, 4 steps! ^______^

Traffic Jam

On my way to work I got into a traffic jam... of bikes. The bike lane was full. People were obeying keep right unless to pass, but with their bikes! It was a culture shock moment.


Being Away

Alas, Ind'ana,
Your floods still touch me out here,
Where there aren't clouds.

So my house flooded back home. It seems weird to think that there's been 18"+ of water collected on the ground back there while I'm here in the land of run-sprinklers-all-night. It's rough.

But I guess that isn't what this post should be about. My weekend! The BFD concert was phenomenal. I'd never really done the techno thing previously, but I was thrilled to be introduced to it by DJ AM, who did remixes of classic rock. <3!!! MSTR KRFT was pretty sweet, too, and I even got to touch Moby's head after his stage dive at the end of the night.

My music was there, too, of course. Flogging Molly? Woot! I crowd surfed for the second time. ;)

The street festival in the Haight wasn't particularly impressive for me. It was... a street festival. Music. Food. Little overpriced shops. More homo- and transsexuals than I'm used to, certainly, but it wasn't so different from anything I could've found in Indiana.

The Japanese tea garden in the middle of Golden Gate Park was pretty neat. A little piece of serenity in the middle of a crazy city. And the tea wasn't bad. There was an amazing bridge! It was, like, super curvy and high: nearly stairs. But it was sweet!

And then there were some people with bells and sticks and accordions. They danced.

Hiking to the top of Twin Peaks was really neat, also. The view from up there was basically right down Market Street, and the whole city was bisected dramatically. Plus it was a gorgeous (not cloudy!) day for a nice long walk with friends.

Did I have any other adventures? I don't think so. I'm still way sore from headbanging at the concert and being semi-crushed in a mosh pit, but I'll get over it. Especially because I participated in a Google psychology study this morning and got another massage credit. ;)

Uhhhhh..... yeah. I'm hoping to get some pictures up here, but I didn't take any, so we'll see how that turns out.

Oh, right. Work. Work is going great. I was floored when I got an email that requested that I do a midterm evaluation with my host. Have I really been here 6 weeks???


A Comment on Public Transit

I love public transportation. This feeling has been intensified now that I'm living in a suburb without a car (and with the price of gas solidly over $4/gallon). I must give props to the San Fran transit system. Although it is a strange mix of diesel locomotives, buses, light rail, cable cars, and a slew of other systems, it will get you wherever you need to go... eventually.

But public transit isn't just about the modes of transportation, it's also about the interesting people you meet on the rides. Today I met a talkative woman coming back from the same rock festival that I was at in Haight-Ashbury. She told me that she had met someone at the concert that she hadn't seen since 1967 (this gives you some idea of her age). Then discussion ranged from the weather and what train stop we needed, to the bottle of vodka she had in her purse for the next leg of her trip, and finally to how annoying people my age can be. She said, "All these frat guys do is drink and go crazy. When I was your age we just got stoned and did acid. So much more mellow." While I agree with her on the menace of drunken frat boys, I'm not sure that switching to acid trips would be any improvement.


Shopping in CA

I usually consider mall shopping to be a good rainy day activity. But it never rains here. Perhaps that's why I haven't been able to make myself go to the mall until today. It's just like any other mall - directories, food courts, department stores - but in between the stores there are no ceilings. It's not like the outdoor malls in the midwest where everything is stretched out in a strip. The outside looks like the inside of any other mall, potted plants, benches, etc. And the walls are decorated to match, so it truly looks like a normal, indoor mall, minus the ceilings. Amazing.

Also, it's quite likely that when you're bending down to look at a folded shirt, a little dog will come up to you looking for attention. Evidently there is a large population of shoppers who can't leave their puppies at home. I almost stepped on the first dog I ran into. Certainly wasn't something I was looking out for.

Finally, in case you're wondering, the shopping selection out here is SO much better than in Indiana. It also seems to be marginally cheaper. Go figure.



Whoa! Holy crap, dude!
It's as though billionaires are
People just like us!

So if playing Ultimate with Sergey wasn't enough, he actually sat down to dinner with me and the other Frisbee folk yesterday. AMAZING. I guess he's kind of a health nut, but he's also (obviously) really cool. We talked about what I'm doing this summer, and it sounds like he wrote some perl scripty stuff in grad school that might help me out. :D Standing on the shoulders of giants!

Oh, and I'm excited about today's fieldtrip to YouTube. San Bruno, whoo!

I can feel the Google 15 starting to settle in on my hips... oooooof!


Roller Derby & Life Organization

Well, it's hard to say
How things got to be like this.
Guess I'll roll with it.

Hm. I feel pretty good; mostly recovered after a weekend of nightmare travel and junk food. My hippy dippy Google food has cleared out my system, and I've had a chance to sleep and lock back into my own time zone. My weekend was a blast, though.

I managed to run into my AP US History teacher, which was quite a treat, as well as a friend from high school who's working in Columbus for the summer. We went rollerskating. At a roller rink. An activity I don't think I've partaken in for 6-8 years. But some women approached me, complimented my skating skillz, and asked me to join their roller derby team. :D

My trip home was pretty nice. I rode in a smallish plane from Indy to St. Louis, which had a very private-jet sort of feel to it. And the St. Louis airport is strewn with rocking chairs for people to enjoy. And, oh, I enjoyed them.

I now have a proper bank account (BOA has amazing good deals for Googlers), and a passport on the way. I'm pretty excited! Now I'm almost as real a person as the Canadians I work with!

I can't believe that this summer is already more than a quarter gone. I feel like I'm just now getting the hang of being here and doing all the Google stuff. There aren't enough weekends left to have all the fun I want to have! But I guess I shouldn't let the big picture get in the way of my enjoyment for the moment. :) It's great to be young!


Prisoner of Azkaban... I mean Alcatraz

Yesterday we lugged our bikes onto the Cal-Train and rode it to the end of the line in San Francisco (about an hour ride). We then biked along the piers until we got to a cruise ship (really a ferry, but whatever) that made trips out to Alcatraz island. After a short and windy ride, we got to the island. Not as impressive as I would have expected it to be... just a few buildings and rubbish piles. They gave us headphones that directed us through an audio tour of the main cell block. I've never seen such tiny jail cells (not that I've seen many to begin with...). Looked pretty miserable. However, the view of San Francisco was unbeatable. I suppose that would be the worst part of being imprisoned there - being able to look out at all the people freely living their lives just a mile and a quarter away.

When we got back we watched The Rock -- an awesome movie starring Sean Connery as John Mason, an escape artist who was the only prisoner to successfully escape from Alcatraz. Amazing!

Now I'm off to procure a library card.

Watch Out, Dad

I played several awesome games of racquetball today with another intern and a guy from my team. It was SO much fun. I even won a game of cut-throat! I'm hoping this turns into a weekly thing. If so, my dad had better find someone to practice with, or I'll be able to beat him when I get back.


Home for the weekend

Twisting strings of lights
Become a city below:
Welcome to LA.

So this was the travel itinerary from hell. Shuttle > train > train > shuttle > SFO > LAX > ORD > IND > car ride > home. LAX sort of fudged the whole thing, but the magic of way too many connection flights and having grandparents living in Chicago kicked in and managed to get me home in time to see my little sister graduate at 1pm today. Now if I could only get some sleep.

It's weird to be away from California. There's, like, weather here.


Los Angeles

All roads lead to some
Sort of entertainment, and
Sun and sea don't hurt.
A weekend in Los Angeles! A convertible! A hotel on Sunset Boulevard! A dress bought on Rodeo Drive! The beach! Surfing! The Pacific Coast Highway is unspeakably gorgeous, though chasing it was quite a chore at times. Yet I can't think of a better way to spend my relocation bonus. ;)


Free shirts at last

I got a free shirt,
My very first, I'm surprised,
That I've not got more.

The Cost of Electricity

Now that I have moved into an apartment where our electricity bill is not pre-computed and included in our rent, I've had much more incentive to conserve electricity. I turn off lights when I leave the room, I don't use the heat or air-conditioning (this is easy since I spend almost my entire day at Google), and my roommates follow similar patterns.

Today we got our electricity bill for the first half of May: $2. I guess that means each of us owes 50 cents. That's right, we love the environment more than you... ;)


O, naked people,
Traveling bay to breakers,

I see it's cold out.

Hm. Some people went in birthday suits, but we went in party ranger suits.Go us.


More of the Valley

Small town festivals
And pretentious campuses
Can be seen from bikes.

So it isn't just computer companies here in the Valley. There seem to be real people, too! Evan and I took a trip to the Mountain View something-or-other Arts Festival and checked out some really nifty artwork by people in the area. One guy had made a Chinese dragon out of a bike chain. The best part of the festival, though, might have been the crepes (three berry and strawberry/nutella) that we had for breakfast.

It was good to just chill today. After the art festival there was some pool chillin' time, and then a trip to Stanford. I was thrilled that there was a set of really pretentious-looking guys in matching red blazers and white pants carrying messenger bags and riding their bikes around campus. I sorely wanted their picture, because that's basically exactly the stereotype I associate with Stanford-type places, but my camera wasn't out, unfortunately.

There were some crazy satellite dishes that we visited, too, up on a lonely hill. The view of the rest of the Valley was amazing, but it was a little bit gross to see the smoggy haze sort of hanging over it. I guess that's the price of technology.

This freak heat wave is throwing me off. I guess there are record highs being set in lots of places in this area. I hope it cools off again... 95 is not good Frisbee weather!


First payday!

You freaking taxes,
Robbing me of my bonus,
But, still, it's money!

I got my first paycheck in the mail today! It was ridiculous how much got taken out in taxes, though. Boo. Hiss. I lost about a third of my relocation bonus to the Fed and Schwartzenegger. At least I support government programs, I guess... :-\


Good feelings don't end
Under a cloudless blue sky
Such happy people!

I still can't get over the general cheeriness of people around this place. No one ever looks grouchy. I'd say they must love the sunshine, but no one ever looks tan, either... haha, I kid, of course.

I rode the conference bike. It's amazing. And yesterday was bike to work day, so there were a couple of other "festivities" related to the occasion, including free massages, Google shampoo/conditioner/bodywash/lotion that was all (of course) organic, and rides on a crazy carriage bicycle. Woot!

Oh, and people don't lie. The water here is freezing.


Put a Lime in the Coconut

Today at lunch they had a guy who used a power drill to put a hole in a coconut. Then he stuck a straw in and handed it to you to drink! They had already shaved off the outermost layer, so there wasn't any rough shell on it, and they made the bottoms flat so you could set them on the table. It was pretty neat. It wasn't quite the flavor I was expecting, though. It tasted almost exactly like water. I thought it would be a little sweeter.


Craziness is great,
With no shortage of people
To follow along.

Our alliteration house is complete! Sam arrived two nights ago now, I guess. Sam Slee, Steven Soneff, Sarah, and Savage reside in Somerset for the Summer. Ouch.

There was a trip to look at stars from the top of the pile of garbage (i.e. Shoreline) behind Google, but, alas, the light pollution here is killer. It's really too bad. There's talk of a biking trip this weekend to find some stars, though. I went for a bike ride yesterday to Palo Alto, and that was nice. It got really hot here, though. :(

The new intern crop seems interesting. I've only met a couple of them thus far, but I suppose it's only their third day today. Maybe one or more of them will be absorbed into the group. That would be convenient. :D

There's so many things to explore! Cafes all over the place, for one. And the bike trails here are nice. It's been a long time since I've smelled salt water, so getting back to that was great, too. It's a wonder anyone gets any work done around here.



Today at lunch I ate caviar. No joke. It was on a cracker on its own little plate surrounded by decorative sauce. Remind me how I got here...


Stuff Google has let me borrow/have

Hundred dollar Sennheiser headphones
AA batteries
gel wrist rest for typing
tons of good food
bubble tea!!! (scoop however much botbang you want into your sweet, milky, tea drink)
two monitors
two computers
balloons and chocolat
crate (used as a combo book case and night stand)
bike and helmet
the beginnings of an awesome tan
lots of happy feelings :)

The City

Hidden on a roof,
One can find fun, but do the
Tourist-y thing, too!

Not enough good stuff can be said about the City. SF is awesome! We spent a day (Saturday) doing all the obligatory tourist activities (riding cable cars, looking across the bay at Alcatraz, watching the crazy seals duking it out at Pier 39, eating Boudin's clam chowder and sourdough bread, stopping through China Town). There are some cities where the tourist things are positively stupid, but I didn't feel cheated at all by any of those activities. The cable car, especially, was amazing. I think there were a number of locals who used it as normal transit, too, which was cool.

Evan and I found a waterfall on a rooftop to splash through, which made the rest of the evening interesting. And damp. And cold. One view that was really great was from the base of Coite tower. Steven had been there before, I guess, but it was awesome to see the city sprawling out beneath us. I was a little surprised, actually; as I was walking around, it seemed like a pretty short place. You know, mostly full of little 2- or 3-story houses and whatnot. But from up there it seems to be all skyscrapers. The Americorp building is pretty neat-looking.

Laser tag should also be mentioned! Everyone loves it! Even full-timers, apparently. One of the guys who works near my desk came with all the crazy college kids. And kicked our asses. Royally.

"Versus" has again showed me that goofy, ridiculous, imported zombie action movies have a special place in every person's heart. I think I made about half a dozen converts this weekend.

Did you know that brown boxes + white boxes = Pac Man + Blinky?

Ralph Nader came today. Most of his talk boiled down to: "I exist! Other politicians suck! Technology is evil!" A pretty ballsey speech to give at Google, eh?

There should be a couple new interns moving into my cube tomorrow! I'm excited! Also, Sam will finally be getting in!

Anyway, I guess I'm off to be productive. I sort of hope my Canadian accent starts wearing off. :\


We're nooglers now

We rock silly hats
During our stay at Google.
It's how Nooglers roll.

Speaking of Frisbee

Google's president,
Running, Catching, Frisbee-ing,
I can't believe it!

I played some ultimate yesterday with a bunch of guys. It was really fun to get back into it, for sure. It had been too long.

I introduced myself around in between points, and I discovered that I was playing with a Matthew, a Neil, a Noah, a Sergey...

Later, I found out that it was the Sergey. Neat.


Why am I doing this? Oh, right

Things, people, and fun,
No way to keep track of it,
Man, this is awesome!

My desk is at a prime location. I'm 20 steps from a Wii, a kitchen, a field for Frisbee, a massage chair, and lots of crazy people with Nerf guns. It's too bad that a lot of the cubes around me are empty for the moment; I guess they're being held open for interns that will be getting here later in the summer.

I never realized how many Canadians come to California.

My monitor is so big, I can't find a background to fit it properly.

Asian pears and jicama? Anytime I want? Amazing!

I want post cards.

2210 Rock St. #18
Mountain View, CA 94043

Just Settling In

A list of people living in our apartment: Steven, Sam, Sarah, and Savage!!

We find this pretty amusing. We haven't met Sam yet (but he's from Independence, MO, which is the other side of Kansas City from where I grew up, so I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about), but Steven is pretty much the best roommate you could have (besides Melissa, of course). He took care of all the furniture stuff (it looks amazing and he got great deals on all of it -- made sure we all had beds) and walked us to the right building for work on Tuesday. Unfortunately, we rarely see Steven since he (and now we) are at work for so long. Notice I say at work, not working, since I currently am at work and am obviously not working anymore. The fact is, as awesome as our apt is, it doesn't come close to beating Google (plus we don't quite have internet there yet, so that put Google even farther in the lead). It's just more fun to stay at work than to go home. :)

Mountain View is beautiful. The rose blossoms are larger than your head! And everyone has a garden. I guess it doesn't take too much talent to have a green thumb in this kind of weather. It's usually in the low sixties in the mornings and evenings, and the mid seventies during the day. The only time I've ever seen clouds has been in the morning on the way to work, otherwise it's clear.

The team of people I'll be working with this summer is amazing. They're all really laid back and incredibly smart. I especially like my "manager," though I hear that the PC graveyard that surrounds my desk is thanks to him. He evidently collects them when people leave... eight of them at the moment (only two hooked up). I also have a large gymnastics ball which I sometimes use instead of my desk chair, a google bean bag, some golf clubs, a bike, a box of clothes and some old monitors lying around my space. Oh, and most important of all, there's Sally at the desk next to me. She's the other intern for the team, but she's been here for the winter already and she'll be leaving in a few weeks. :( This is unfortunate because I rather like her a lot. I wonder if someone new will come in to that desk or if I'll be all alone after she's gone. I'm not entirely alone; the majority of my team is in the "cubicle" space next to me. They evidently were tired of not being able to see the interns, so they knocked down the top half of the wall separating us. This is great for talking... but not so great if you need to walk over to another person's desk. To do this you must either walk all the way around the corner, or climb over the half wall (using one of the graveyard computers for a step, of course).

I suppose that's all for now. I have much more to talk about, but I'll have to save it for another post. We're still working on a better blog title, so let us know if you have any suggestions.

Have you ever seen...?

A list of things at Google that made my jaw hit the floor.

heated toilet seats
free bikes to borrow
free cars to borrow
30 inch monitors
large, red, gymnastics balls (in place of desk chairs, if you so desire)
extremely happy people
wireless internet on all streets in Mountain View
more organic and local food than you could imagine
half-off google merchandise store

I'm sure I'm missing lots of things that made my jaw drop (specifically all the technical stuff), but this will have to do for now.


It begins...!

The land of sun and summer.
And cockroaches, too.

So my flight touched down at about 9:55 yesterday morning. It was a pretty cool flight; I met a couple of marketing execs from Silicon Valley on the way. The one sitting next to me for most of the flight actually had a dog with him in his carry-on luggage! But, anyway, I got to the airport and had some time to explore. It was a pretty standard place, actually. I saw a couple of crazy people with neon hair and crazy awesome piercings, but most people were normal. :P

We managed to make our way to NASA Ames, via a shuttle, two trains, and a taxi. The Valley is a much nicer place than San Francisco. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, plus we were able to take off our jackets (I was sort of surprised how cold it was in SF!). Our first room at Ames was a little bit of a nightmare. There was a cockroach living in our shower drain. We got a new room.

We also met Steven, our soon-to-be apartment mate. He's a cool guy. Very into IKEA. :) Definitely awesome, though, and I think he'll be fun to live with and keep us organized. I can't wait to meet Sam when he moves in next week. I'll be living with Sarah, Steven, and Sam... hmm...

Anyway, we're checking out of Ames this morning, and we're hoping to do some more exploring in Mountain View. We had dinner at an awesome Mexican restaurant yesterday (hunger is the best spice, surely, especially after about 15 hours foodless, but I think that their veggie quesadillas would've been awesome anytime) and found a clothing store with some super cute stuff. I'm hoping to post pictures in here soon, but we have to go catch a cab.