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.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Noogler, Day 4: Exhausted!

By now, you may have noticed that my Day 4 log is rather later than the previous days' have been. You may have also noticed that the picture of my Noogler balloons has been replaced by a different one.

Thursday was fun, if a bit routine. In the morning, I attended an all-hands strategy announcement. After that, I attended classes.

Partway through my last class— about 14:00— a sudden wave of exhaustion fell over me. I mean, I was just barely able to sit upright (although I still was able to get some questions in). I had a little bit of time to talk to my officemates (who showed me how to check my calendar remotely, huzzah!), but soon went on to the gym.

I was a little bit disappointed about the timing... there was a BBQ cookoff right when I was supposed to go to the gym. So I missed that. Ah, well.

After my workout, I decided to go home, take a nap, and then get back to work. Well, that was the plan. Custer had a plan, too.

I did get home, and take a nap at about 18:30. When I woke up, about 03:45 the next morning, I decided that was a stupid plan, and went back to sleep.

I'm making this a pretty short entry, since I have class soon. But the night's sleep was good for me, and I'm now sitting in a coffee shop with a cup of Jasmine tea, alert and ready to go.

But that'll be for tonight's entry.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Noogler, Day 3: Juggling Eggs, Technical Talks, and a Method and Apparatus For Remembering What's Going On

On the wall of my office is written in grease pen: "Juggling priceless eggs in variable gravity." This is a phrase used by programmers to talk about the state we're in when we're at our best. We hold a lot of information in our heads while we're coding: the structure of the program, the information it's holding, what parts have been written and what hasn't, and lots of other detail about the program. It's far, far too much to hold in our heads throughout the day. Instead, we remember the basic structure, and pick up the rest every time we sit down at our editors. I'm simplifying things a bit here, but that's the basics of it.

The thing is, keeping all this information in our heads is a delicate thing. Any distraction, and it all comes crashing down, and the programmer is robbed of precious time to get it all back in our heads again. (I'm slow in this regard; it takes me up to an hour or so. Fifteen minutes to a half hour is more common.) We borrowed the phrase about juggling eggs from the novel The Mote in God's Eye to describe this.

I read a book about managing programmers (or as some call it, "herding cats") recently, called Peopleware. It refers to this concept as "flow". If the flow is broken, then the company is then paying for a programmer to spend time just regaining that flow. (This isn't exclusive to programmers, of course. I see the same phenomenon in chess players, and other disciplines probably have similar situations.)

It's therefore quite important to build an environment that maintains flow. This is one of the reasons that kitchenettes are everywhere. If a programmer starts getting distracted because he's hungry, then the company starts paying for an unproductive programmer. Keeping a bowl of apples conveniently around, so the programmer could grab a bite when he went into his office in the first place (presumably, he was feeling peckish on his way in), is much cheaper than paying some percentage of your programmers to be unproductive because they're too distracted to maintain flow, but not so hungry that they feel the need to leave. This works well, because 100% of programmers have to eat.

Another thing that programmers do is talk shop. They talk about their projects, ideas, possible directions, cool technical tricks. When they're talking to other programmers, they'll bounce ideas off of each other and get lots of good ideas. But even if they're just talking to a rubber duck, the programmer doing the talking will often get ideas just by the simple act of talking about the problem. (I keep a number of rubber ducks around for this reason.) In my experience, a chat between a couple of co-workers in the halls is infinitely more productive than a formal meeting, not to mention more fun. Programmers will talk shop whenever there's an opportunity... particularly when they're with other programmers.

Programmers, like all people, need recreation. A programmer who isn't taking time for recreation burns out, and a burnt-out programmer is worth much, much less than a happy programmer. (This is a big problem I have with EA: they burn out their programmers, who are usually fresh out of college and don't know better. They're effectively strip-mining our young minds.)

These two activities are not mutually exclusive. Talking shop while playing is not a problem, as long as it's friendly and playful talk instead of a directed activity. This sort of friendly talk can be highly productive, though. Now, this is just my thinking, but I think that Google recognizes this. They want to encourage programmers to talk to other programmers. They also recognize the need for recreation. They provide recreation because, they figure, the programmers are going to take time to play ping-pong. They may as well do it with another programmer, and it's quite likely they'll get new ideas talking to their opponent between volleys.

Now, this sounds borderline exploitative, but personally I think it's a win-win. Everybody talks about all the perks around campus, and how it's fun to work there because of them. The fact that it's also helpful to Google's productivity is, for the programmers, just a convenient side effect.

Okay, enough rambling. I didn't sleep well at all last night, I'm afraid, and was pretty sluggish getting ready. I ended up cutting the time pretty close, so I grabbed a croissant from Jack-in-the-Box to eat on the way in. It may not be great food, or healthy, but it's faster than trying to find and eat something before my class, at least until I'm more familiar with the food options at the Googleplex.

Today's classes were the first technical talks they gave, when they presented an overview of some of the Google architectures. While interesting, these ran over— until about 13:00, so that's the first time I was able to check my email. My office-mate Karl was there, and he talked to me about some of the work he was doing. As part of this, he went over the architecture of the systems our team deals with. It was the same area that one of my classes went over, but more in-depth, and one-on-one.

After that, I went to find some lunch. They were having a benefits fair at the time, and on my way to lunch I passed through a cholesterol testing station. I haven't checked my cholesterol since I lost the weight, so I figured it was a good idea. My total count was a little higher than I'd like, and my HDLs were a fair bit lower than I'd like. Without a fasting test, I didn't get LDLs or triglycerides, and I also wanted an ALT and metabolic test, so I intend to get these at my regular doctor's lab next week when I have time to go in for a fasting test before work.

While I was getting the cholesterol test, though, the cafeteria closed. Another sandwich; some food I've had these weeks, for the place with such legendary food. Mind you, the sandwiches are quite good... the ingredients are high-quality and fresh, like they were made at home. There's a variety of breads and sauces (such as the grain mustard I had), and the vegetables are fresh and crisp. I like that there's red-leaf lettuce on the sandwich bar; it makes for a good nutrient mix. There's also panini grills, although I haven't used them yet.

After supper, I went to work on my to-do list. I've been feeling pretty annoyed; I've been putting in 10-12 hours / day at the office, but still feel like I haven't been getting anything done. Then again, what I want to get done is to learn, and when I think about how much I've learned so far about the system structure, I'm happy. I guess I'm a little frustrated that, while I've been learning quite a lot, I haven't been getting a lot of more practical things done, like setting up the source control system. Still, that'll come.

I use a program called Life Balance to help me organize my to-dos. It's great... I can feed it a hierarchy of things to do, along with deadlines, importance, and where I can do things. For example, I can write a task of building a shelf. Within that, I can give it a few more subtasks: (1) buying lumber: minimal effort, essential, can be done while running errands; (2) staining the shelf: moderate effort, not as important, must be done at home; and (3) assembling the shelf: considerable effort, essential, must be done at home. I can also tell Life Balance that these subtasks must be done in order, that I want the shelf done by Sunday, and to give me three days' lead time.

Then, at any given time, I can ask the computer what my pending tasks are, based on my current location and time of day (since I can't run errands in the middle of the night). It will give me a list of outstanding tasks, automatically filtered and ordered.

Right now, my task list contains 350 items. Of these, 237 are work tasks, which are spread out over the next few months. The remaining 113 are personal tasks, including things like getting groceries (which repeats every week), books I want to read, programs to write, furniture to assemble, bills to pay, etc. This is also synced with my Palm Pilot, and I can do everything from it that I can from my computer (although it's much easier to enter tasks from the keyboard than using Graffiti).

It's a great program, and I highly recommend it. Really, if I didn't have the list, I'd be lost in all the things I have to set up and learn about, from my 401(k) to my team's computing infrastructure. I still feel like I haven't gotten anything done, but at least I know what I need to do.

I also joined a general brainstorming meeting with my team. It's not common for me to be in a meeting where computer theory that I don't know comes into play, but that's exactly what happened. I stayed pretty quiet, but threw out a few ideas, and have some notes on items I want to follow up with people on one-on-one.

After the meeting, I went to get some supper. Finally, I get a meal when Charlie's is open! Lamb tandoori, jasmine rice, and a green salad made for a nice meal. Before I ate, I had called Scott and Matt, and we decided to move the compiler discussion from Wednesdays to Sundays. That gave me a bit more time to enjoy my meal and get back to the computer.

Overall, I'm glad to be getting into the technical details, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm behind where I should be. Juniper has always had a similar feeling to new hires. People would come to me, and say that they felt so far behind, and were SURE they were about to be fired that week! I've had a fair number of times reassuring people that no, it's okay, everybody feels like that for their first several months at Juniper, and they're certainly not about to get fired.

I don't feel like I'm a burden (or at least, no more than is expected at this point), and certainly don't feel that I'm going to get fired, but I do feel like I'm behind where I should be in my training.

Well, it's only been three days. We'll see how the next couple of days treat me. At least I did get out relatively early today: just about half past nine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Noogler, Day 2: The Life of Another Engineer, A Gym, and the Manner In Which Gravity Is Superior To A Machine

After being up so late last night, I didn't have time to do laundry. Fortunately, this morning (after a bit of searching) I found a clean shirt, one that Erin had given me for my birthday. Curiously enough, nobody asked about the fact that I was sporting a Texas Women's University tee-shirt.

Also fortunately, I didn't have to be at a meeting at 8:45 in the morning this time. No, this time my class wasn't until 10. I left with plenty of time to spare— which was good, since today I decided to see how 101 fares. Answer: not well. Even at 9:30, it's still about 25 mph the whole way. I hadn't budgeted enough time, which means that by the time I got to campus, I didn't have time for breakfast. Well, a meeting from 10-11 isn't too long... I'll just eat after it.

I stopped off at my computer to find where the meeting is. While I was there, I saw an email from Gwynne. You may recall that she invited me to lunch today. Or so I thought. The email said Tuesday, July 17; I assumed that was a mistake, but sent her an email to confirm. Nope, she really did mean the 17th!

Okay, back to the meeting at hand. It was in a different building. I'm terrible at first-person shooters, because I can never memorize the maps. At the hospital I worked at in Abilene, I visited the architect to get a map of the place. The Google campus is a maze. The building I'm in (building 42) is connected to four other buildings by catwalks on my floor (second), so it's easy to go from one building to the next without realizing it. There is no semblance of traditional hallway structure, symmetry, or anything else that might help people learn their way around. In this case, though, it wasn't just a matter of finding the right room... the meeting in question was in a building that's two blocks away. Armed with this data, I grabbed a banana and a bottle of orange juice from a conveniently nearby kitchenette.

There's never trouble getting food at Google. There are kitchenettes everywhere; you never have to walk far at all to get something to eat. The kitchenette near me, for example, has fruit, chips, soup, salads, tea, sodas, cereal, and about five teas (loose-leaf and refrigerated ready-made; not bags) and six coffees. And that's just the snack bar near me. But more about the food later.

The building is on a corner, and I wasn't sure which street was which. On the way out the door, I asked the receptionist for the best way to get to the building I was after. He was extremely courteous and helpful. not only showed me a map and marked out the route, but he left his desk and walked over to the glass door to visually indicate which street is which, and where I could pick up a bike.

Because the campus is so large, there's bikes that anybody can use to get from building to building. You just get on a bike in front of one building, ride it to the other, and leave it in front of that building. The public-use bikes all have orange pendants on them, so you can tell the difference between these and peoples' personal bikes— which are extremely plentiful around campus as well!

Unfortunately, there were no public bikes around— and none of the motor scooters either— so I walked. It was a short distance, anyway. The talk I went to was entitled "The Life of an Engineer". The person giving the talk used to lecture on English at a university. I really enjoyed the talk; I hope to find others by the same guy. He doesn't like to use a set agenda; instead, the bulk of the talk is given in by question and answer. His answers would generally discuss what he needed to talk about, but it still had the easy informality of a completely unstructured Q&A.

At the end of the talk, he gave away books. They weren't related to the talk, or even specific to Google; they were computer books that you could get at any bookstore in the Silicon Valley. He just said for each of us to choose a few that we wanted. A few of them were books that I'd thought about buying in the past, so I picked them up.

However, contrary to the calendar entry, the talk wasn't 10 until 11... it lasted until about 12:30. It was the only business meeting I had that day, but I had a gym appointment at 14:00 in Cupertino, and I like to show up early to do my cardio and stretching. Okay, I figured... I can drop off the books in my office, grab some lunch, and still get there in time.

Yes, I did say in my office. I'm having a hard time not referring to my cube; I'm just not used to having an office. With a door. Glass walls (presumably I won't be holding a stone-throwing practice). Okay, sure there's three other guys there, but it's WORLDS better than a cube in an area with fifty other people— and their phones— all making noise and being distracting. I'll talk more about distractions tomorrow.

As I was checking my email, one of my office-mates came in. I hadn't met him before. He started to squeeze between me and the huge (six-foot diameter) beanbag that dominates the room, decided that it would be better to get the beanbag out of the room, and asked me to grab one end and help him move it. On our way back, we introduced ourselves, and started talking. Then another one of my office-mates walked in and joined in the conversation, then my mentor. We were talking about a lot of the technical details that I'd need to know.

I was able to follow the conversation pretty well, but a lot of that was because they were careful to keep me included. If two of them started talking about something that I wouldn't understand (stuff specific to Google), the third would explain to me the part of the operation that they were talking about, enough for me to follow the conversation.

There's something they refer to as "Google scale". Everything that happens at Google is immense. Everything they do is on a massive scale. The numbers they were throwing around in the conversation were so big, I didn't know the words. I had to ask to make sure that the words for big numbers mean what I think they mean. It wasn't that I was surprised at how big they were... I just honestly don't use the words for numbers that big, at least not often enough to remember what they mean!

I think they were really trying to get a reaction out of me when they were talking about some of these scales. They were, unfortunately, disappointed to not get one. I had walked into Google with the idea that, now I'm in Oz, and I may as well forget what I know about the rest of the world. It's quite difficult to impress somebody who doesn't have any expectations to begin with. Most of the discussion in my office (at this point in the narrative) was much more technical, and was stuff that I had known I should get some basic grasp of. I also needed to talk to my mentor and see if he knew anything about my laptop. (He didn't; it's still outstanding. My manager raised an issue on it today. I'm surprised, but not disturbed.) So I stuck around to talk. Unfortunately, now it was eating into my lunch time.

So, another banana and I'm off to the gym. It was a great workout. The client after me didn't show up, so my trainer spent some extra time with me doing some new exercises I'd never done before.

I also asked my trainer about stretches for the shoulders. I carry a lot of my stress in my shoulders. That's why, at the improv class yesterday, when we each were leading the group in warmups, I led a shoulder stretch. She showed me a few different stretches for the shoulders and upper back.

Done with the workout, back to work. By now, it was 16:00, I'd had a busy day, and I still hadn't eaten more than two bananas. This is not a good thing; the body starts hoarding fat and burning muscle. I figured I'd stop by Charlie's Cafe, the main cafeteria at Google.

Unsurprisingly, they were in-between meals. I looked around, hoping to find a boxed salad or something. There was a chef dicing peppers, and he saw that I was looking like I didn't know what I was doing. He told me that supper wasn't for another hour and a half, but that there's always food around Charlie's... "apparently, we're 24x7", he told me. He showed me where there was a sandwich bar, a salad bar, a soup bar, and also said that if I were sneaky, I could get some of the sushi that they were setting out for supper.

I thanked the chef, and went over to the sushi. I started looking at it, and the lady who was unloading it didn't speak much English. She made it very clear, though, that it was fine for me to take some. I tried to explain that I was just looking (sushi wasn't going to be filling enough for the situation), but although she didn't explain my words, she very nicely communicated that I could have the sushi. I thanked her and left to look around.

The chef saw me leaving the sushi empty-handed, and checked to make sure that everything was okay. I told him it was, and went over and made myself a turkey and roast beef with swiss on rye, and on the way out stopped by the Mexican area and added some tortilla chips and chipotle salsa to my plate, then went back.

For the second time today, I was quite impressed with how courteous and helpful everybody is!

The rest of the day involved me reading over the orientation lists. There's one list of things to do in your first few weeks from HR, another from engineering, a third from my division, and a fourth from my team. Some of this stuff is trivial, like "Set up your voicemail", "Check your email", or "Explore the Mountain View campus" (with links to instructions for voicemail, email, and suggested sights to see, respectively). Others are more involved, like learning about the source control system.

As you know, I don't do well with a lot of to-dos, particularly when they're coming from multiple sources. I spent a good while setting up a master to-do list for myself, with timelines so I wouldn't get overwhelmed. We'll see how it works.

Afterwards, I went by the kitchenette and helped myself to a couple of strawberries. This was a nice treat, but I decided to sit down and relax.

The campus is very accommodating. You really don't lack for anything. When I wanted to relax, I went just a little ways from my office and sat down in a massage chair that had a complex system of pneumatics and mechanics, with a program to give me a fifteen-minute course of massages. A few feet in front of me, another Googler relaxed by playing a piano. A lot of bikes were in the lobby, and at this late hour, I figure their owners aren't planning on riding them home. I'm guessing that Googlers leave those bikes there so they can go riding during the day. Of course there was a kitchenette not 50 feet away, and the sounds of people playing pool filtered in from nearby.

I had intended to write this during the massage, but decided I deserved some relaxation instead. The massage was great, but it still didn't hit my shoulders right... a chair just can't access the upper trapezius, which is what was pretty sore.

Fortunately, the stretches my trainer had taught me earlier worked perfectly. They involved a few different ways to position the head and neck, and letting the weight of the head stretch out the muscle. So between these stretches and the chair, I was in pretty good shape by the end of the day.

I brought home a printout of the directions to the nearest shuttle stop, but I'm ambivalent on the issue. On the one hand, I want to try it out, and also it'll force me to leave work at a reasonable hour! On the other hand, I want the flexibility to get to the compiler class— and I haven't yet decided where it'll be this week— straight after I leave work. Besides, one thing that was made clear to me today is that there's no rush... the shuttle will still be there Friday.

Okay, that's enough for tonight. A couple of pictures, and I'm off to bed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Noogler, Day 1: Drinking From a Firehose, a Missing Laptop, and a Bundle of Balloons

My first day at Google was certainly a mind-blowing experience. I had been up later than I wanted last night, finishing some stuff on my home computer, but I still had plenty of time to get enough sleep and be ready to go in time to get to the 9:30 training. I'm glad I checked for the building number before I went to bed. I had only THOUGHT it was 9:30... it was actually at 8:45!

Bleary-eyed, I got up to my alarm clock's wail, showered, shaved, grabbed a Diet Dr. Pepper (which has caffeine in it), and hit the road. I was scared to take 101N at that hour, so told my GPS to take me by way of Central Expressway instead. Google has shuttles, and there's a stop not too far from me, but since I didn't have a badge yet, I had to drive in myself. Since I have a gym appointment tomorrow, I won't be taking the shuttle tomorrow either.

But that's tomorrow. For today, I was showing up for orientation; I felt like a freshman! The excitement, the strange newness of everything, the campus-like atmosphere... it's been a long time since I've been in a completely foreign job. Really, I was walking into this place quite blind... at my other jobs, I've had a better feel for the company and my role in it. Not this time! Google was— and still is— quite mysterious to me. I felt like I had walked into Oz, or maybe Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

One of the first things I did today was to get my picture taken for my badge; I think it turned out well. Most of the day involved Google shoving lots of new-hire information into my brain. You may have questions about the benefits they offer. Fortunately, you can read http://www.google.com/support/jobs/bin/static.py?page=benefits.html for that sort of thing.

I also learned about vital things like how to contact the internal tech support (they seem to provide an INCREDIBLE quality of service), who to call if there's a security issue (and a funny video on the topic), and lots of other new-hire stuff. So far, no technical information about my area, but they were kind enough to preschedule me for relevant training classes for a few weeks. All this showed up on my Google calendar; it looks like I've got about 50% of my time in classes for next week.

When I went for lunch, I ran into Gwynne, who had been my boss's boss at Juniper until about two months ago. It was great to see her; it was the first bit of grounding I'd had all day. Yes, Toto, Kansas is still on the map!

After lunch came more classes, and paperwork like W-4 and I-9s. (I didn't have my W-4 calculations with me, so I just made a conservative estimate.) Finally, I was greeted by my assigned mentor. He took me to pick up my laptop. We went into the area where they give laptops to Nooglers, and there were several around with people's names on them. Not one for me, though. So at the moment, I have only my desktop computer. That's okay for now... I have enough to think about at work, without taking it home with me. They took down my name, and said they'd contact me tomorrow.

Finally, we walked to my desk. There was a bundle of balloons there, greeting me. My mentor also introduced me to my manager. That's right, I have a manager! I've been assigned to a team! I'll have plenty of time to go into more detail another time, but briefly, I'm on the team that makes sure ads are displayed. Since that's a revenue stream, it's a visible role!

About 18:45, my mentor left— he had a prior engagement— and I sat down to collect my thoughts. I really felt like I'd been drinking from a firehose all day, and was really rather dizzy. But no! I had hardly started to get my bearings when my iPod popped up an alarm... I had nearly forgotten my 19:30 improv class in San Jose!

I quickly packed my stuff, and hit the road. It occurred to me that (1) there's no way I'd get to San Jose in time, and (2) there'd been a plan to move to a different location. I called Danielle— a friend who's in the same class— and got the info from her. It was in Mountain View, just a few exits away! Huzzah!

After the improv class— sometime around 10:30 or so— I came back to campus, since I wanted to keep a photo log of my Noogler balloons. Tradition has it that you're considered a Noogler until they loose enough buoyancy to hit the desk.

I still haven't gotten my bearings mentally, but was able to successfully find my desk. This place is like a maze inside... I was seriously worried about that! During the improv class, one of the things we did was pair off, and one of us would close our eyes and the other led them around the room. That's how I felt navigating this complex most of the day.

But now it's late, and tomorrow is another day... one for which I should be well-rested.