Saturday, June 30, 2007

Noogler, Day 5: A Cuppa, a Computer, and a Modicum of Sillyness

I really wish that I had written this earlier. The days have been blending together, but they're so full of activity that it's hard to remember what's happening from one day to the next! For example, as I was starting this entry I was going to write about the cholesterol test I took on Day 3.

I've been carefully chronicling my time for a few reasons. One is because I miss being able to talk to my friends and family all the time! There's different aspects to that, of course... Alfhild, for instance, was good enough to send me a LIME all the way from the Sage Ocean! So while it's been great hearing your responses, of course email only goes so far. So some time when you're around, you'll have to stop by for a tour of the campus, and possibly a bite to eat!

Now, you may recall that I wrote my day 4 log when I was in a coffee shop. I'll first say that I'd never seen tea like this: it was pretty much loose-leaf tea in a thin cloth mesh bag.

Now, about the coffee shop itself. It's called The Hub, because it's in the building that houses most of the Google transportation department. There's a display that shows the barrista on duty, along with the current schedules of all the shuttles.

A little ways back from the coffee bar are some couches, easy chairs, and chair-balls. The chair-balls are pretty common around Google: they're just round, air-filled rubber balls, fairly soft. It's kinda like the balls some gyms (including mine) use for exercises, but softer, so you can sit on them comfortably.

All of these are in an area with three screens, each about 10-13 feet diagonally. One shows the National Geographic channel with captions, one shows some mundane channel with audio, and the third has a slideshow with PSAs about the transportation options at Google and different philanthropic programs that Google has.

The transportation options are one of the big benefits at Google— in one interview I saw, an employee said, forget the food, the shuttle's her biggest benefit! But it's not just about the employees. Google is involved with a lot of environmental initiatives, and their transportation program is part of that. They provide a $5,000 rebate to buy hybrid vehicles. They built a 1.6MW solar panel installation in the form of rooftop solar panels and solar-panel carports; there's a neat video at http://www.eispv.com/google_video.html of a virtual fly-over of the installation.

About their philanthropic program initiatives, the founders said: "We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems."

Class was interesting. One thing that we did was to play a game in which we were broken up into groups of five, only allowed to communicate by "email" (post-its) along specific channels. Most of us didn't know the goal, either. While I was telling Scott and Mili about this, she brought up Nomic. I've wanted to get a Nomic game going for a while.

But I digress.

When I did get to my desk, I found that my laptop had finally been delivered. Yay! I went to pick it up, and that was good. In fact, it was a better laptop than I had been expecting; I was expecting a PowerBook, but instead was presented with a MacBook Pro!

Then we went to set up the wireless access, and it was being persnickety (a word that I'm surprised is in my spell checker's dictionary). They worked on it some, but I had to go to a meeting.

Well, I say, "meeting". Among other things, this is when they introduce new employees and interns. There I was, with all my peers, wearing a Noogler beanie being introduced. And there was much rejoicing.

I took my time on the way back, and did note that Stan, our resident fossil, had apparently tangled with a viper. I'm not sure how clear it comes out in the photos. I'm pretty sure that the flamingos were relieved to have the distraction.

I went back to the Tech Stop to get my laptop, and they were still working on it: this was pretty tough problem (apparently, some arcane group membership coupled with prop time). But while I was there, they finished and gave me the Mac. The power supply wasn't delivered with it, so they also gave me one that they had around. By that time, they were closing, so I went away to set up the VPN access.

That didn't work. Sigh. So I left the laptop at work. Which is probably for the best, 'cause I didn't really need an excuse to keep working over the weekend. I'll have all next week to work aimlessly.

Obviously, I've taken my time over the weekend writing this. I hope I'm not starting to slip on my schedule too much, though; I'll try to get each day's post written before the next work day starts. Just as a quick note of one of the places I went this weekend, I've included a picture of one of the isles at Weird Stuff. Like always, I didn't find what I came there for, but I found stuff I needed.

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