Vincent Cheung

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Alternative titles for this post

  1. Jon, you need a cell phone (Part 1)
    • Jon follows us to Santana Row in San Jose Friday night, but doesn't get to the lounge until 2 hours after we've been there as he has to find an Internet cafe to get someone's cell number, call from a broken pay phone, in which we can't hear what he says, but he can hear us

  2. Jon the wingman

  3. Jon, you need a cell phone (Part 2)
    • Jon makes it to my place an hour and a half late Saturday afternoon and the only way we managed to meet up was b/c I went outside and walked around to see if he was here and he had been walking around for 15 minutes

  4. Haven't slept in my bed for days
    • Crashed at Michele's after putting back 4 martini's (espresso and apple) and a beer, though I think the martini's were a little watered down. Second night away from home was camping.

  5. First time camping!
    • Sorry Jill, Rob, Chris, Justin, et al. I was gonna give up my "camping virgin card" to you guys later this summer, but this opportunity came up. You guys can take my "camping with torrential rain, flooding, and mosquitoes card" :p.

    • To celebrate my first Memorial Day long weekend, I went camping at the Oceano sand dunes (near Pismo Beach) with Michele and Jon and met up with a Googler there (Elaine) and her friends (Autumn, Lorrie, Johnny, and Hebert - just to be fair to everyone, I spelt all their names wrong). They provided us with a tent and went earlier to find a camp site. They also had a 4 wheel drive suv to drive through the sand to get us to the camp site. Good deal for us.

  6. Free sleeping bags!
    • You win some, you lose some. Sleeping bag left on a post at night for literally like a minute disappeared. Worst thing, it was my roommmate's bf's.

  7. I was under the impression that California was warm
    • With no sleeping bag, I resorted wearing two t-shirts, a long sleeve, a fleece jacket, jeans, and socks and I was still cold.

  8. ...why can I see my breath???!?!?!?
    • Sitting by the campfire at night, I could see my breath.

  9. Air mattresses should not be on top of you
    • I used my roommate's bf's air mattress as a sleeping bag as it had a cotton cover. It did a reasonable job. I had to turn away from the wall of the tent in the middle of the night and face towards Jon b/c the wall was frickin' freezing and wet. I slept reasonable well though.

  10. "Let the little Asians out of the trunk!" -- Elaine
    • 8 of us, the SUV only sat 5. We squeezed in 4 in the backseat while Elaine and I sat in the trunk. Suprisingly comfortable (our backs to the back of the back seat and facing out the back window), especially at 8 in the morning.

  11. ATV's!
    • Riding all-terrain vehicles in the sand dunes was a blast.

  12. I think you're supposed to stay on the sand
    • Jon had the best crash of the day when he went over a metal fence and into plants, shrubs, and grass area. He was kinda zoned out after that and looked lost.

  13. Air Michele
    • Michele was getting serious air on those dunes by the end of the day.

  14. Surprisingly only minor scratches
    • Went up a sand dune really fast, got some serious air, but fell off when the ATV landed. Fortunately, it didn't run me over and I only had minor scratches on my ankle and random minor pains throughout my body

  15. Missing (?) wallet
    • Elaine's wallet is mssing. Johnny goes back to look for it, but really we know that he just wanted an extra 45 min. out there. One of the guys that works there had found it on the foot rest of the ATV and had it in his clipboard the whole time.

  16. "Does anybody else need a nurse?" -- Jon

  17. Put that away Michele
    • Michele's had like 4 massive blisters on his hands from the ATVs. Guess he had a serious death grip on those handles. Either that or he's really not used to manual labour :p. My hands were fine. A little sore near the inside of the knuckle, but not blistering. My right thumb was seriously tired from pressing the throttle so much though :s.

  18. Everything's award winning
    • All the clam chowders and fish and chips in all the restaurants in Pismo Beach are "award winning".

  19. All I heard for the past 24 hours was motors
    • Constant motors running from trucks, jeeps, hummers, ATVs, motor bikes, etc. in Pismo beach and Oceano.

  20. Volleyball practice
    • I did a lot of hitting practice on the beach - throwing the ball up and just hitting it over the net. First time that I was able to do it reasonably well. Hard to get the toss right. At the clinic, the coach told us to use two hands, which helps. But then factor in the wind and sand and it's even harder.

    • I had Michele set me a few later on and I was spanking them pretty good. Probably the best I've ever hit on sand and felt as good as my court game. My timing was on (which is rare for beach).

  21. The 14 year old girls love me
    • Cute with a pink bikini on. Plus, she obviously plays on a school team or club. Too bad she was serious jail bait. I'd guess that she was in like junior high school. She's gonna grow up to be a hot volleyball player. She passed by after she was done playing and told me that I was "the amazing 1 man volleyball team" as I was playing 2-on-1 against Elaine and Michele (a guy)... and winning.

  22. "To top it off, my face is burnt" -- Jon

  23. OMG that water is cold!
    • The ocean water is frickin' freezing! Like 10 degrees Celsius. Stupid ocean currents bringing arctic water down here.

  24. "You're gonna be able to see my nipples through the wet suit"
    • Surfing was on the table, but by the time we made it to the rental place, it was too late.

  25. "Hey, we work at Google. We should just buy wetsuits and a surf board and just throw them away when we're done."

  26. Skimboarding
    • Bought a skimboard ($32) instead of a surf board ($500 - $700). It's basically a flat piece of wood that you throw on like 2" of water and ride it like a skateboard. Elaine and I managed to ride it for a few feet at a time. Jon had a great fall, full landing in the (shallow)water and sand. Autumn fell ass first right into the water with her jeans on.

  27. "I can't feel my feet"
    • Words said after skimboarding in the freezing water.

  28. "If you go in that water, your balls are going to go up here (points to his neck)" -- Michele

  29. "You guys are so dumb!"
    • Elaine and Michele run into the water to go swimming after skimboarding. Jon and I join them in their second run.

  30. I'm so sore...
    • Neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, arms, hands (esp. my right thumb from pushing the throttle on the ATV), and legs. That's the sign of a good weekend!

Pictures hopefully to follow later.

Friday, May 26, 2006

So apparently maiming, raping, and killing are frowned upon in this country

CDS orientation today all the way in San Francisco. Most useless thing I have ever been to. CDS is the company that Google uses to handle the visas for the foreign interns and we have to go to this retarded orientation session.

Did you know that you have to tip in restaurants, hair salons, nail parlours, and other service based industries? Did you know that they put sales tax ontop of the posted price in stores? How about that the drinking age is 21 and you're not allowed to drive while drunk? Or that banks often have hidden charges?

Then there was info on housing and suggestions on where to look and that they recommend an American roommate! Umm... I've been here almost 4 weeks... I would hope that I have a place to live by now...

Some of this info might have been usefule BEFORE I came (eg. social security card info, car leasing, housing, bank info, driver's license), but not after being here for so long. Plus, pretty much everything was common sense.

Ok, granted that some of this info may have been a surprise for some of the Europeans or Asians, but seriously, Canadians need an exception from this shit. Great line I heard today over dinner: Canada is America's hat.

Worse yet, everything was done using transparencies. They could have just sent us the pdf or something and saved us all a bunch of time... Fortunately it was just over an hour (originally scheduled for 2.5 hours), but after strolling around and lunch, parking for 2.5 hours costed $17.50 AMERICAN! That is the most expensive parking I've ever experienced. Absolutely insane. At least there were 4 of us.

Oh, and the presenter annoyed me SO bad everytime she said "veesuh". I can't get it to phonetically come across as poorly pronounced as she said it, especially with her slightly southern drawl. She like really blended the s with the "vee" and didn't end with an "a", rather it was like a southern "a". I've never heard "visa" prounounced like that before and it just really annoyed me... and believe me, she at least tried to say "visa" a billion times.

Other random things today... It was a weekday and I didn't have ANY meals at Google! Calm down, don't get too worried about me. I'm fine. Just that I had breakfest at home (b/c of stupid orientation in SF in the morning), lunch in SF (random food court with fake chinese food in what almost looked like Chinatown), and dinner at the bowling alley (just a bit of food) and Amy's dinner party (never met so many lawyers in my life).

When people mention bowling to me, I think 5 pin bowling. From what John tells me (no, not that one, the other John, the original John), they don't have 5 pin bowling down here. I think I enjoy 5 pin more. Maybe b/c I'm better at 5 pin than 10, since I've only ever gone 10 pin bowling like twice. For those of you who don't know, 5 pin bowling only has 5 pins (*shock*). The balls are smaller (they fit in the palm of your hand), the pins are spread out more, the pins are worth different amounts (head is 5, two sides are 3, and the two ends are 2), and you throw 3 balls a frame. I don't remember my previous 10 pin bowling scores, so I'm not sure how my performance today compared. I think my first 2 games today were like 62, but then I stepped it up in the 3rd with a 126 (I saved all my spares and strikes for the final game). It's seemingly such a simple concept, but what I envision in my mind is just not what happens in real life, I just suck (pretty much like in pool, but I'm playing quite a bit of pool nowadays at Google so I'm getting better). I think I'll stick to volleyball.

One more random thing. I had two people mention my blog today. I find it kinda strange/interesting to meet all these people that I've somewhat communicated with through the Google interns group (like a message board) and other interns' blogs. The second blog mention in regular conversation happened at the dinner party though. Apparently Amy's friends were a little protective of her having a guy roommate, so they were checking up on me and Craig was like, I saw your blog and read your post about chicken noodle soup and was like, he's cool. So there you go, my blog did help me get my place (and 4 other offers).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I don't think you're supposed to do that

The socks are rather embarassing with those shoes.
I ran out of non-white socks...

Examples of things you probably aren't supposed to do at Google:
  • Submersing yourself in the ball pit or using it as a substitute for a hot tub

  • Playing in Sergey and Larry's cornered off area, looking at and touching everything, and sitting in novelty chairs that say "Sergey"

  • Having lunch on Sergey and Larry's private balcony, of which they have a very clear view from their office window (it was tinted, so I'm not sure if anyone was inside...)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Get your own e-mail address!

Sign-ups for "" e-mail addresses has begun!

Let me know if you would like one. Sorry, vincent (a) has already been taken.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Friday and no Galcohol or Gdinner!!!!1!!1one!!1!!

They were giving out Gtickets for the Da Vinci Code Gmovie, so I guess they Gfigured that there wouldn't be enough Googlers around for TGIF (the Galcohol) or Gdinner. I think that totally violated my human Grights.

I didn't think that Gstarving existed, but today I was forcefully enrolled into the Gstarving alpha tester program and that totally Gsucked.

Our Gplans totally went down the Gdrain with the Gnews that there was no Gdinner. We had to Ghunt for Gfood and we Graided all the Gmicro-kitchens. We Gsurvived on Gice cream, Gcereal, Gchips, and Gdrinks.

There were no parking Gspots or Gseats in the Gtheatre (had to sit in the Gfront row and got a little Gmotion sick). Worse yet, we didn't get any free Gpopcorn or Gdrinks! The Gannouncement mentioned free Gfood, but apparently it was only for the midnight Gshow. The Gmovie was Gok, but nothing Gspecial.

Let's hope for everyone's Gsake that this Gstarving program never makes it past the alpha stage as it's a horrible Gproduct. I'm going to remove myself from this Gprogram next Gweek and Ghope to never have to Gexperience it again.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Defectors, pee buddies, and "volleyball"

The other day, I'm walking around (I think one of those semi-hourly trips to the washroom because of the obscene quantities of consumed liquids) and I pass this guy. One of those "where have I seen you before" stares. It later dawned on me that I had played with him at the Pro Club when I was interning at MSR! A fellow Microsoft defector!

I saw him again at breakfast and chatted with him a bit. He's actually quite high up the food chain...

My next interesting tid-bit was also strangely enough connected with a trip to the washroom. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with me. I don't wet my bed (anymore). I just drink lots of fluids. Anyways, I peed next to a billionaire. I kept silent because you know, it's usually pretty weird to talk when taking a leak. What would I say to a billionaire at the urinal anyways? Umm... thanks for paying my salary.

A couple of us interns also went onto the sand volleyball court with a volleyball today. Out of respect for the sport, I cannot call what we did volleyball. But it's all good. Ok well, not really, but it was alright as I knew what I was getting into and I knew that it wasn't going to be volleyball. My jump serve is improving actually. I think it's a combination of a better toss and improved timing (practicing hitting against a wall with a really high toss and the clinic).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Census Day! (Please respond)

Today is the Canadian Census day. To commemorate this day, I am holding my own census!

If you read this blog, meaning that you at least occasionally come by and read a post or two, please leave a comment on this post. The comment doesn't have to be elaborate (a simple "hi" will suffice), but it can if you want.

I'd rather that you don't comment anonymously, but if you are that embarrassed to be reading my blog, at least an anonymous comment is better than nothing.

Using a Powerbook will make you a billionaire

Silence still glazes over us interns when Sergey walks by. Well, today was actually the first time it happened. He was carrying a Powerbook into the cafeteria to grab some food.

This proves that using a Powerbook will make you into a billionaire. Sergey, Steve Jobs, need I say more?

Human adaptation

My body has seemed to have adapted to an increased consumption of food. In the first week, I was like in a food coma all day and while the second week was better, I still wasn't hungry at either lunch or dinner. Come the third week, I'm actually hungry for lunch and dinner! And I don't think it's because I've reduced my portions.

I can think of two explainations. Either my body has just become faster at digesting food (knowing that more is coming soon) or my stomach has just expanded. It's probably a combo of the two. I am finding that on the weekend, I am seriously craving food without the regular massive 3 meals a day. I dread the day when I have to go back to school...

Volleyball clinic notes

This post is pretty much just for my reference. It's things that I should remember when on the court (collected over the past 3 weeks).

  • focus on platform - Tom suggested even separating my wrists slightly to form an even flatter platform

  • keep low

  • arms out at almost 90 degrees

  • when passing, platform moves in direction of where you want the ball to go, so if you're facing away from the setter, you need to drop a shoulder

  • during serve receive, watch server, try to predict where the serve is going, know where it's going less than half way to the net

  • keep hitting elbow high throughout, starting with the toss

  • aim for the same vulnerable places as in defence - back corners

  • last two steps almost simultaneous

  • fast approach means higher vertical

  • elbow high

  • power comes from trunk rotation - put body weight through the ball

  • hard shot down the line or cross court corner are vulnerable

  • big hands in like a cup shape

  • arms not close together (cover as much space as possible)

  • seal the net and reach over

  • maintain seal as long as possible

  • jump straight up and down

  • about the length of your forearm away from the net

  • take away as much of the court as possible - line up right shoulder with the hitter's right shoulder

  • watch the passer's platform - predict where the ball is going and what options the setter has

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Slumber party

Yes, you read that correctly. Vintage, Grade 6 era slumber party. We even had Hello Kitty attend.


Got my first GCheck in the mail today! That is a lot of taxes... but I guess still less than in Canada, plus I'll get a lot of that back. In the end, it doesn't mean anything as I'll have to pay Canadian taxes on it anyways.

I found out that the Conservative federal government has proposed to lift the $3000 tax exemption limit on scholarships/fellowships in its budget! This is absolutely amazing! (i.e. much more of my earnings will be tax free if this passes!)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

4 promotions away from running Google

It's true that Google has less hierarchy and is "flatter" than most. In browsing the company pecking order, I found out that I could be running the show in just 4 promotions! This is even fewer than the 6 I needed to take over Bill Gates's job. Being on the research side of things tends to cut down the heirarchy significantly.

You wouldn't however, realize that I was so close to running Google from the fact that I was basically eating all day. No seriously. I was eating like all day. It's disturbing to the point that it's scary. I have the uncanny feeling that they're trying to fatten me up for some evil purpose...something to do with the cafeteria food or perhaps human soap.

  • Breakfast from 8:45 - 9:15

  • *Productivity*

  • Lunch at 12:30 - 2:00

  • "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Interns Social" 2:00 - 3:30

  • *E-mail*

  • Weekly company meeting led by Larry and Sergey (aka beer, wine, and hor d'oeuvres) 4:30 - 5:30

  • *Semi-productivity*

  • Dinner from 7:30 - 8:30

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Business hours: breakfast - dinner

People often ask me how long I work here at Google, to which I reply,

Breakfast to dinner

It may seem like long hours, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for free food. Work also doesn't seem like work when it's fun. Being in a phd program, I got comfortable with the mentality that I won't work on anything that I don't consider to be cool, fun, and have a big impact. I maintain this attitude in the workplace.

It's also difficult to call it work when you take a nice leisurely scroll to the cafeteria you've never been to across campus with your friends for lunch (since the main cafeteria was closed because of press day and it was crazy busy in the main part of campus), you enjoy a nice bbq outside with friends, and after work, you spend 2 hours with other interns (avg age around 28) frolicking around Google playing the piano, relaxing in the message chairs, snooping around, playing pool, chillin' in the plastic ball pit and treating it like a hot tub while the full-timers look at you funny, playing in Sergey and Larry's play area, and just acting like 5 year olds looking at and touching everything :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The drink challenge

6 days so far. 4 or 5 drinks per day. Haven't had the same drink twice! How long can I keep this up? :)

Naked Juice, Vitamin Water, Snapple, fresh fruit smoothies, random juices, Orangina, sparkling apple juice, water, chocolate milk, freshly made cafeteria drinks, fresh young coconut, Powerade, and more. These are only the ones that I've drank!

I haven't even hit the canned soft drinks or the fountain drinks! Though I'm purposely avoiding them. There's tons of coffee, caffeine, and energy drink options, but they don't interest me. I leave those to Michele. I discovered the asian drink fridge, so I'll be adding VitaSoy to the list soon.

Banks love giving me credit cards now

Just got approved (instant response over the Internet) for a Citibank Dividend Mastercard (5% cash back at supermarkets, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on other purchases). Helps that I have like 9 months of credit history here and an existing credit card.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Weekend Snippet

Sawyer Camp Trail
'Bladed down the Sawyer Camp Trail in like San Mateo. Nice scenery, shitty trail. Bumpy, cracky, and craploads of tar filling in the cracks. Decent jogging/walking/biking trail, but avoid it for rollerblading.

You can't see the actual trail in that picture, but the trail goes along side the Crystal Springs Reservoir and there's a lot of foliage. The trail was nice in that it went through the trees, so it was shady for most of it, which is appreciated when you're sweating. Wildlife wasn't that exciting. I saw some deer, which is about as exciting as looking in Kevin's or Kives's backyards in Winnipeg. I did see this rather large black and white striped snake.... and it was stretched out across the path. It freaked the bejesus outta me. Didn't expect that at all. I just narrowly missed it too. It would not have been pleasant to have run over that.

Parking at the top of this sizeable hill seemed like a good idea at first because I could start off by just blitzing down it... going back up after 8 miles of rollerblading was not however, very much fun.

The intent was to buy a new pair of rollerblades and use them on the trail, but Inline Sports in Sunnyvale had shitty skates and Black Diamond Sports in Palo Alto was out of the pair that I wanted (Rollerblade Crossfire 90), which sucks because I tried them on last week, but hesitated to buy them because I hadn't decided if I was going to buy a new pair. They're supposed to call me this week when they get a new shipment in. I contemplated buying online, but I wanted to try them on again to make sure about the size.

You call that a Downtown?
"Downtown" Palo Alto and "Downtown" Mountain View are almost as exciting as Winnipeg's. Wait, that's a little harsh. Both of them are like one street with a bunch of restaurants and pubs, but they close at like noon. Ok, well, maybe they're open just a little after noon. Palo Alto's a little more lively than Mountain View, but for a college town, it's pretty pathetic. Tied House in MV wasn't too bad (restaurant and brewery), but it closed at 11 pm. Nola's (restaurant/pub) in PA was pretty good and lively. Apparently there's another place in PA that's good as well.

Extreme Jenga
Apparently Jenga's an appropriate game for a group who's average age is 29. The sad part is that we were playing sober. And we weren't even using it as a drinking game (that's for when the average age of the group is like 24)...

Our first game, we actually finished Jenga! Yes. I said FINISHED. There were no more pieces left to pull out! It was pretty crazy. After having conquered Jenga and playing a few more times, we decided to mix things up and GET PERPENDICULAR. Ok, well, maybe it was more of flipping the pieces onto their sides, which is still perpendicular, just not as extreme. It then fits 5 across and gives many more options :)

Knee seems to be healing
Limiting volleyball to just once a week, and where that once a week isn't that intense on my knees seems to be really helping. Knee didn't really hurt today, though I still felt that it wasn't at 100%. It's really the deep squat and jumping that's a killer, but with this clinic, I'm not having to jump and much as I'd do in say, pick-up or a game, at least not for as prolonged as a period.

Mosquito bite
I have a mosquito bite just above my left ankle. Kinda itchy. It's annoying. Not sure when that happened. I'm going to guess the rollerblading expedition. I haven't had many bites since like 2004. I managed to miss the insane Winnipeg mosquitoes last year, you know, those "30+ mosquito bites on each leg, even with bus spray on" and those "mosquitoes bigger than birds chewing threw jeans". Playing beach volleyball in Assiniboine park surrounded by forests at dusk and where you literally see swarms of mosquitoes flying around, is not the brighest idea, though I'll be doing it again in August :)

And now for the weather report
The daytime temperature around here is beautiful, highs consistently in the low-mid 20's. Sunny. No clouds in the sky. Temperature inside Google's a little cool sometimes though. Night time gets a little chilly, particularly if you're dressed for mid-20's. Lows are like 12 or 13, but with the wind, shorts and t-shirts are not a bright idea. Once the sun goes down, the temperature drops faster than my blog audience reading this post. In some respects a cool night is good because then it won't be hot when you sleep (unlike in say Winnipeg or Toronto), though I have well-functioning air conditioning here :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

One step closer to factorgraph world domination

My paper got accepted into UAI (Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence)! I don't think that I'll be going as it's only in Cambridge, MA. I'll save my conference trips to either ski resorts, beaches, or overseas. Plus, it's in July and I'll still be down here. I'll let Inmar handle it. It'll probably get more attention with a girl presenting it anyways.

Now I have to focus on writing these two papers for NIPS by the end of the month :s. Just gotta keep my eye on the prize: a free trip to Whistler *cough* snowboarding.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cinco de Mayo?

First time I even heard the term was like a month ago. It's supposed to be like Mexico's equivalent to Independence Day, though I'm also told that this is not particularly accurate. Anyways, it's something that is actually celebrated down here. I think it's just an excuse to party and get drunk. They sure as hell don't celebrate Canada Day....

There were like tv ads for "Cinco de Mayo" sales. What does Oreo cookies have to do with Mexico and why should they be on sale for Cinco de Mayo?.... I don't get it. Looks like another bastardization of a holiday...

Google had a Cinco de Mayo theme for lunch. Outdoor BBQ and a live band, which was presumedly Mexican. I'm not totally sure, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. No one really paid much attention to them as they were too preoccupied with food. Some guy was also going around with a tequila bottle. I wonder if Google paid the band to play. I think the band was for the most part a no name band, at least no one knew who they were or had heard of them before, though none of us are really in the latino scene. I'm sure that they helped to pay for the set-up costs and equipment rental or something, oh, and the free food.

The rumoured Noogler humiliation on their first friday meeting where they have to wear beanie hats with propellers and half sandwich board signs and get ridiculed in front of the whole company, including Sergey and Larry, was over hyped. We stood up for like 5 sec. and that was that. There were quite a number of us so it was like whatever... I have never seen slides been flipped so fast before, as Sergey reviewed all the stuff that happened over the last week. I guess the whole thing is really about the Q&A session, which is cool b/c it lets anyone in the company directly ask Sergey and Larry (the billionaries that pay my salary) any question that they want. Eric Schmidt (Mr. CEO) chimed in a few times.

The intern co-ordinators were right when they said that you become good friends with the people that are in orientation with you. Well, for one, none of us really know any one else. Two, we were all in the same training sessions and we'd have the same lunch breaks, and it's just natural for us to sit together. So far, my social life at Google has revolved around the meal schedule. Using the internal communication methods, we managed to organized a sizeable number of us to go out and celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The suggestion to go some place to play pool and fooseball and get some drinks was shot down pretty quickly as we actually wanted to leave the campus :p

We soon discovered that places in Mountain View don't stay open that late. We did manage to get some drinks at a restaurant/brewery and just chill. The waitress was like, "really? none of you are getting food?", and we were like "ummm... we ate already". We also got to the point of the night when the Americans in the group realized that they were dramatically out numbered. That's always a fun moment :). I marked the occassion of my first Cinco de Mayo with my inaugural black out. One second I'm standing, the next I'm sitting up against a wall and I had no idea how I got from point A to B or how much time had passed. I didn't even have that much to drink. I think it was because of sitting so long and then just suddenly gettin up and getting too light headed. I'm also going to blame it on the altitude like Rob. At least I was in a private area with no audience and came out of it with no physical damage or enlargement of my hole. I like to think that I'm sober enough to blog right now.

Geyser spontaneously erupts right off the 101

I'm fully convinced that California has only days left before it breaks off from the continent. Today, a geyser erupted right off the 101, forcing half the highway lanes to close and me to be late for my first training session (not to worry b/c the slides are on the intranet). Water spurting everywhere and firemen apparently were trying to clog it or something to try and stop it.

The cover up story was that some retard ran his car off the road and hit a fire hydrant, though I don't buy it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My celebrity encounter

I had a new hire luncheon today and the guest speaker was Matt Cutts! It was just for us interns, so it was pretty small. I was chuckling half the time b/c I read his blog and what he was saying was the stuff he talks about on his blog.

Matt works to fight spam websites (they are websites that contain no useful information and attempt to trick Google into ranking them high in some searches so they get traffic and try to make money by selling ads or running affliate programs). He was like, "let's put on our black hats and think like a spammer, how can we fool Google?" He told us some really interesting stuff and all these sneaky ways that spammers trick Google. Again, more confidential stuff :)

The other talks today weren't as good as yesterday's where they were basically telling us how Google worked. Tomorrow should be good. I get to be humiliated in front of the entire company, including Larry and Sergey.

I managed to control my food consumption better today. I was still kinda full all day and had to force myself to eat at lunch and dinner. The cantelope and blueberry drink at lunch today was pretty good. Every meal (day?) they have a special drink in these dispensers that tastes hand made. Well, at least it doesn't taste like anything that I've ever bought. I was much farther away from a permanent food coma today.

The "more out" part of my equation really kicked in today. My squatting technique that I perfected at MSR has really served me well. Not only is it more sanitary, but I also exercise my leg muscles at the same time! And you know how some people recognize stall neighbours by what shoes they were wearing? I noticed my badge hanging right by my shoes and was like ummm..... and tucked it in my pocket until I was done.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More in, more out

SO FULL! I was full ALL DAY. I'm still full even though it's 11 pm! My current strategy of seeing something I like, taking a pile of it and then continuing down the food aisle in the same manner, and sometimes even visiting multiple food stations, is perhaps, not the best strategy. I had this dull pain throughout the day as my stomach was permanently expanded. Bending over was not possible. I was fortunate that I didn't have to tie my shoes during the day. At both lunch and dinner, I was still full from the previous meal, but I ate anyways. The food is good. I can't help myself. No pain, no gain!

Today's highlights:
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Google

  • Fresh, fruit smoothie at breakfast

  • Good, hot breakfast with a custom made omlette to start off the day

  • Learnt more company secrets

  • Couldn't figure out how to attend the "mandatory" company wide meeting

  • One step closer to riding those scooters

  • Real lobster in my soup at lunch

  • Found the office supplies cabinet ;)

  • Internal IM is great

  • Learning stuff I kinda know

  • Realizing that there isn't actually a "Google Store" to visit (boo!)

The food being this tasty is a problem, but because of being so full throughout the day, and not about weight. I'm not too worried about gaining weight. I managed to avoid the frosh 15 twice, and the last time I had buffet meals all year (though not nearly as good of food). Metabolism, don't fail me now! My motto in these kind of situations is

More in, more out

The only problem is that I'm pretty inactive at the moment (well, at least over the last two days and likely for the next two). I'm not rollerblading to school anymore and I haven't played volleyball for a few days b/c of my knee (and I'm busy). I'm hoping that once I get settled in this week, I can start ramping up the volleyball and start going through that open gyms list. I'll see how many of those I can get to (there's like 60 of them! So, 20 a month or 5 times a week :p)

I discovered the fresh, made right in front of you, fruit smoothie at breakfast today (frozen fruit blended, like the Freh and Fruity at Bubble Tease). Good stuff. The drinks are just amazing here. I went through I donno, like 6 or more drinks today. Fruit smoothie, fresh oj, one of the naked kiwi juices, V8 splash tropical blend, fresh young coconut (just rows of them sitting out for lunch), and the drink special at dinner which had a nice watermelon flavour. I'm just constantly going to the washroom because of all these drinks.

My only worry with these drinks is that many of them have various vitamin and mineral "boosts". While this is probably ok when just drinking one, but in the quantities that I'm drinking and mixing, this is probably not so healthy. I'm going to avoid all the ones with boosts from now on, or at least limit my consumption of them.

I have quickly discovered when the fresh fruit cups are delivered to my floor. I think at about 2:15 pm, all these little containers of fresh fruit are put on ice in the mini kitchen. They disappear very quickly. I've been going for the fountain drink sized ones. The alternative are these small little cups, though they are concentrated with berries as opposed to more melons. This sizeable snack so soon after lunch contributes significantly to my constant feeling of fullness.

All in all, while I'm consuming quite a bit of food, I think I am just naturally eating pretty healthy. More than anything, I'm consuming mass quantities of fruit (either in solid or juice form). I should probably shift to the vegetable side of things a bit. Pretty much everything is low fat and non-greasy. Of the meat that I'm eating, it's pretty healthy, today it was pork, shrimp, and sea bass. I will probably restart my "at least once a day" chocolate milk habit, like I adopted at MSR, to act as my calcium intake.

I plan on doing going on the Google "diet" again for all my meals tomorrow :). Will I ever learn? I'm going to say no.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Freakishly accurate...

You Are 24 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

I'll forgive it for being a week out of date.

Google Day 1: Overwhelming is an understatement

Just the decision on what drink to take is enough to overwhelm you.

Food is an entire beast of itself and I only went to one cafeteria. Food this way and that. So many decisions, so little room in my stomach.

And don't even get me started on the mini-kitchens on each floor. Un-frickin'-believeable! Fresh fruit in a cup (pineapple, cantelope, honeydew, watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)! AMAZING!!!!

Then there are the fridges with Naked Juice (fresh fruit juices). I was coming in thinking that I'd be drinking a lot of Vitamin Water, but no, I'm gonna be drinking myself silly with this Naked Jusice stuff.

Oh, and if you didn't already know, anything you can get your hands on that's edible is absolutely, no strings attached, FREE. Seriously, don't hesitate. No, I mean it. Don't hesitate. Take it. Consume it. Put on that Frosh 15.

And in terms of actual work related things, shit loads of stuff. The project I will likely be working on is pretty cool, but very ambitious. I could tell you what it is, but I'd have to kill you. Seriously. I'll just leave it as that I'm going to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

I'm also now privy to way too much confidential information that I think I need to know. In a one minute conversation with the press, I could get myself sued on over a dozen different counts and personally hunted down and killed by Eric, Larry, and Sergey.

Browsing around, I no longer need to scour digg or slashdot for rumours about Google. I have now gotten plenty of information that I've wanted.

Now that I'm all excited (and giddy like the little girl that I am) about all this information that I have, I have to worry about keeping my mouth shut. They are super anal about confidentiality and security, as they should be. So, don't ask because I don't know (or at least will pretend not to know).

I have intentionally been very vague because I have to. I can talk all about the Indian food I had for lunch and the burrito and shrimp I had for dinner, and I'd have to say that Google's food does live up to its notoriety, but I pretty much can't talk about anything else.

Oh, by 6 pm, I finally had a computer on my desk and was able to log in successfully (which is actually better than most as while many had computers, they weren't able to actually use them for several number of reasons). I also have two brand new massive 20" wide screen LCD monitors. WAY more desktop space than I know what to do with. I stayed until 9:30 pm just carousing around. I only left b/c my contacts were getting really dry.

Tomorrow I'm going in for breakfast (8:00 am - 9:30 am), lunch (11:00 am - 2:30 pm), and dinner (6:30 pm - 8:00 pm). I tell you, these are the most important events on my calendar.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Wow, that is cold!

No hot water. I really needed to shower... Shrinkage is an understatement.

Apparently the hot water tank somewhere in the complex blew so they had to turn off the hot water. It could be worse, it could be flooding in here.

I had to shower b/c I had played 2 hours of volleyball (only 48 hours after landing :p). It was actually a clinic. While I've been playing for... umm... 13 years, I was only coached for the first 6 and I've been wanted to be coached again for some time. Good thing I have a car, otherwise it'd be pretty impossible to get to volleyball :p.

It was alright. It's supposed to be intermediate/advanced (have to have at least the basic skills). Level of play was like typical rec pick-up. The instruction was alright, but each person doesn't get much attention b/c there's like 30-something of us and only one of him. He doesn't even have any assistant instructors.

I think I'm gonna pass on pick-up for the next little while and only do this (it's every Monday) until my knee feels better.

More errands...

$25 drop fee waived. Free upgrade of 2 car sizes (from an economy car blue Dodge Neon to a standard car silver Chevrolet Cobalt). Free car wash. 1 hour (it was busy and they didn't have any cars there). I would have liked power windows, power lock doors, and remote access though... I wouldn't have minded to have kept the Dodge Neon, but there was damage that they didn't have marked down on their system (apparently some genius decided to put chains on the wheels).

The guy at Black Diamond Sports laughed when I said I had lost a screw on my rollerblade. Then he proceeded to trash my rollerblades. He suggested that I just get new 'blades instead of trying to find a replacement screw and getting new laces and wheels. I've been considering getting a new pair for a while now since I do use them quite a bit. If I can twist Google's bike purchase discount to apply to rollerblades, it'll be a no brainer and then I can have my family bring my old 'blades back when they visit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Random sightings

The number of tech companies here is absolutely insane. Without even trying (and mostly when I was lost), I saw Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, Lockheed Martin (a bunch of big hangers, presumedly where they build planes, etc.), A9 (Amazon's search), Microsoft Research, and Google (ok, I was trying to find Google).

I'll have to go on a tech company tour or something one of these days. In addition to these, there's Intel, Apple, NVIDIA, and crap loads of others.

Here and there

Conducted some questionable transactions thanks to Craig's List. First order of business was to meet up with some guy outside of a gas station car wash to unlock my cell phone. Took a whole like 1 minute and $10 to do it. He hooked up some contraption to my cellphone and it was magically unlocked. Now I can use it with any sim card. While I didn't really have to do this because I could just use Amy's old one, I wanted to do this anyways so I can use a sim card in my phone when I say, travel to the states some other time and then have a local number and not have to pay roaming charges. Or, next time I go to Hong Kong, I can just buy a sim card with prepaid minutes and use it in my phone.

This comes to my next transaction. Meeting some guy, "Elvis", who's cell phone is weird b/c when you call, you don't hear a ring, instead you hear a personal message and then rap music. I met him at Kinko's and $10 later, I had a brand new Cingular sim card. This will let me use the sim card with a prepaid plan with my newly unlocked cell phone. While, I don't really need this, it will be useful when Jill and my family visit (in two separate visits) or next time I travel to the states. Oh btw, it's ok for you to stay here Jill. You can either sleep with me in my double bed or bring a sleeping bag. Well, the couch may work as well.

After these, everything else was legit. I had lunch at Subway's, followed by Jamba Juice - I had orange berry blitz (like a fruit based slurpee) with a femme boost (yes, I got the female boost, but I wanted the calcium). The drink was good.

Also hit up Target, Fry's Electronics (geek heaven and I got a bluetooth headset for my laptop), and Albertson's (usually a pretty nice grocery store, but this one was pretty ghetto).

Then I rollerbladed around my place for an hour and a half. People don't really rollerblade around here. I've seen like a billion cyclists, but no bladers. The roads are also not very rollerblader friendly - sidewalks are narrow, are made from tiles or are bumpy, sometimes the sidewalks just disappear, sometimes the paths are dirt paths. The most telling thing that bladers aren't common is that people are freaked out by me rollerblading. It's like in Winnipeg. People jump out of your way when they see or hear you coming, unlike in Toronto where they don't flinch at all.

Went to a Big 5 Sporting Goods store to see if I could get a screw for my rollerblades and laces. The guy really had no idea what was going on, even though I had my rollerblades on and showed him. I saw some laces, but they didn't look very good. I think i'll have to go to a specialty rollerblading store.

Google apparently has a bike purchase discount program, hopefully it applies to rollerblades and if it does, I'll buy myself a new pair. Mine are still good and I like them, but they are 5 years old and they could be made out of lighter material.

I also randomly bladed around the Stanford campus. That place is freakin' HUGE. If it wasn't for the maps on the side of the road, I wouldn't have made it out of there. They even had some beach volleyball courts on campus. I managed to find the Hewlett and Packard Electrical Engineering buildings.

Oh, and one other thing, I found myself in the "Stanford Shopping Center". It was a strange thing. I rollerbladed "in" to see if there were any sports stores (for my rollerblades). I don't know if I was allowed to or not, but I don't consider it indoor because I never went through any doors, thus I should be allowed to rollerblade through the mall, but it seemed weird. It was like just individual stores next to each other in one area and the corridor between the stores on the sides had a roof like thing, but it was partially open air, so it was kinda indoor, kinda not. No one yelled at me, but I just kinda zipped through. There was an Apple store there :)
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