Archive for ‘work’


If you do something, dye something

I have this little “skin tag” on my neck, which sometimes my fingers play determinedly with, and if they do this enough it becomes Irritated, and sometimes even Bleeds and things (WTMI, I know, but anyway), so to prevent this I sometimes put a, you know, “band-aid” on it in order to prevent myself from playing with it (see this entire subfield of philosophy).

So today I wanted one of those “band-aids” for that purpose, and The New Employer made it really easy. And this brought to mind the following little bit of snark, which while somewhat snarky and mean-spirited and all, I can’t resist posting…

Old IBM: Non-emergency first-aid supplies are available from the on-site RN during regular business hours, once you have management approval and have filled out the right form. Your department will be charged $27.50, plus $11.92 per individual supply item.

New IBM: As a cost-cutting measure, the on-site RN is available only on alternate Thursdays from 1:11 PM to 1:27 PM. The forms are no longer available. There is still a box of non-emergency first-aid supplies in the building, but everyone who knows where it is has been laid off.

Google: Around the corner from each Espresso machine (i.e. five per floor) is a shiny metal self-service cabinet full of non-emergency organic free-range vegan first-aid supplies, never tested on animals. On the door of each cabinet are internal telephone numbers and URLs (automatically verified for correctness daily by a cluster of [redacted] servers located in [redacted] and [redacted]), in case you think your situation might be not entirely non-emergency, or if you just want to chat. Googlers may access the supplies inside at will, 24/7. Non-Googler access requires a Google+ account.

Ha ha ha! I am here all week.

Oh, oh, also!

In the Subway there are all these Signs, and some of them say:

If you see something, say something.

which is pretty amusing if you think about it literally (because everyone with their eyes open would be constantly saying things, and if they made the reasonable assumption that the two “somethings” are supposed to co-refer, they would be saying like “a person, a person, a person, a door, a sign saying ‘if you see something, say something’…”), and also calls to the idle mind all sorts of variants.

For instance

If you smell something, tell something.

which isn’t quite right, and then immediately after

If you smell someone, tell someone.

which is really just juvenile, what was I thinking?

Continuing with the senses,

If you hear something, fear something.

which I can imagine becoming extremely popular with DHS (see also the U.S. Department of Fear).

If you taste something, baste something.

I suppose. And then, one with more selfish and more Buddhist versions:

If you feel something, heal something.

If you feel someone, heal someone.

I like that last one.

In rereading this I realize that I haven’t really analyzed the form correctly; “see” and “say” don’t rhyme, they, you know, do something else. That other thing. Which seems to be harder to do.

If you touch someone, teach someone.

Maybe. Hm.

If you buy something, be something!

Oooooh, deep!



New adventures every day!

Here are a couple more observations that I think I can share without revealing any family secrets.


You’d think that a place full of coders would be basically powered by coffee.

That’s certainly what I was expecting.

I was picturing, like, huge wall-length banks of those shiny cylindrical coffee machines that are everywhere, constantly being emptied by jazzed young programmers, and filled by a steady stream of staff persons with new grounds.

But it’s not like that at all.

There are fancy digital coffee-making machines in the snack areas (“microkitchens”, whee!), which produce what I imagine is quite good coffee (I’m no judge), but do it slowly. And there aren’t very many of them.

There are a couple or three of the shiny cylindrical coffee machines in the main food-places, but they tend to be awkwardly placed, and there are many things that it’s easier to get to.

There are also espresso machines (cappuccino machines, whatever they’re called) in the microkitchens for general use, along with signs about the time and place where the “how to” classes are offered, and the intranet URL of the relevant informational page(s). Naturally.

All of which encourages slow and thoughtful and high-quality consumption of only finite amounts of coffee.

Which I find fascinating.

As I pointed out the other day, I’m drinking a lot less coffee than I did before the venue change. Maybe the work keeps one awake all by itself. :)


I poked around the intranet a bit my first couple of weeks, figuring that these young hip (haha, “hip”) persons might include some number into meditation (“meditation”) or sitting or even zazen, and while I found some interesting groups dedicated to thinking about the impact of digital technologies on our practices of attention, and about being sure to pause now and then and be in the moment, and like that, they seemed to be mostly based out in Mountain View.

I did one “Mindfulness at your Desk” thing at Noon Eastern, 9am Pacific, where someone out on the Left Coast led a small group of us in meditation over videoconferencing, and that was fine, but a little odd.

I was figuring I could bring in a zafu of my own, and maybe just remember to sit in a quiet place somewhere now and then, when while exploring one of the higher floors of the building I came across a sign saying that sits take place twice daily (!) in the little sort of exercise room / dance studio. And in exploring it I found a cabinet with a bunch of nice high-quality zafus and blankets to go under them.

And the next time one of the twice-daily things came up, I was there, and this smiling person came and talked quietly and asked who would like some guided meditation, and talked softly to them while the rest of us just sat (on the nice zafus and blankets, which it turns out are for general use), and then he rang a lovely Zen bell, and we all sat more, until he rang it again and we slowly got up and went out.

ZOMG, eh?

So I may have a little practice, and maybe even a vague sort of sangha (not that there’s any particular reason to think all or any of the people are Buddhist as such), right there at work.

Who woulda thought?

P.S. This is a very good recipe for Butternut Squash Soup!


So much…

So very, very much.

All my walking muscles ache in gratifying ways.

I feel like whole sections of my mind are waking up after long, long naps. Or maybe opening up for the first time.

I like the subway more every time I take it. When you see the same thing for the second, third, fourth time, you see more deeply into it. And seeing more deeply into things is good.

The subway, that’s a good segue into some sort of coherence for this posting. :)

NYCMy morning schedule is now: alarm goes off around 0700, I leave the house around 0720, deal with the parking machines around 0736, catch the 0740 very-express, or the 0745 or 0749 also-expresses, from Croton-Harmon to Grand Central, walk to the Shuttle Passage and take the S to Times Square (around 0830), walk (nice long aerobic walk) through the underground passageways from 42nd Street Times Square (1237NQS) to 42nd Street Port Authority (ACE), take the 8th Avenue subway down to 14th Street (the express stops at Penn Station on the way, the local stops at Penn Station and at 23rd Street), go up the stairs into the old Port Authority building, wave my badge at a reader-thing, go up the elevator to the 5th floor, get breakfast, and there I am, at 0900 or a bit before.


And during all of that, so many people, faces, eyes, briefcases, shoes, scarves and dresses, ties, suits, and the subway musicians, steel drums, cellos, saxes, opera singers with tipjars, the tables of patient Jehovah’s Witnesses giving out their little books in eight languages, the loud man declaiming how urgent it is to come to Jesus, five-by-seven shiny paper rectangles left on subway seats about Jesus or an upcoming performance of Shakespeare, the song of rails, trains pushing air down the dark tunnels, the clack of heels, voices chanting over the speakers, “please keep clear of the closing doors”, the paper “Planned Service Changes” sign where someone has supplemented the tiny black type with a big crayon arrow pointing to the left and labeled “TO QUEENS” and someone else has written underneath it “thanks”.

Ehem, I was going to be coherent. But there is so much!

As previously noted I work at Google now.

It is extremely awesome.

The extent to which I can and can’t go into detail about things is interesting in itself. IBM’s big emphasis is on getting confidential information only to those who need it, inside or outside the company. Lots of information isn’t confidential, so everyone, inside and out, is free to have it, and as an internal person if I wanted to get for instance the source code to some random other project’s product, it would have been difficult just to figure out where it was and who to ask for access, let alone actually getting approval.

Google is much more Hard Shell and Creamy Center that way; anything that hasn’t been officially published is to be kept inside, but Googlers can get to an amazing amount of stuff. Just how amazing that amount of stuff is, and what it contains, I’m not sure if I can tell you.

I can reveal that Google has more than seven machines, located in more than three datacenters that are all over the place. I cannot speculate on rumors that we have a major datacenter in the back room of every Starbucks, or that we have a radical new way of cooling datacenters using Fair Trade coffee beans.

swagFor my own part, I can definitely reveal that I’m drinking a lot less coffee than I did a few weeks ago; apparently drinking from firehoses is a good substitute, in terms of staying awake.

I can also reveal that whereas it used to take me forty-five minutes to an hour to get out of the house (or, to be brutally honest, even to get all the way out of bed) on a weekday morning, it now takes twenty at the most.

Also, there really are secret rooms behind bookcases in the library, and a slide (I went down it yesterday; twice). And of course scooters (which I will have to try some day when I am feeling brave and well-balanced).

And additionally, swag! :)

I have switched from my snazzy Fossil messenger bag (a gift from M) which is too nice for daily subway abuse, to the pictured Google backpack, which is tougher, has less sentimental value, has just as many tons of pockets (perhaps a little harder to reach into ad hoc), and distributes the weight of an iPad and macbook and assorted stuffs more symmetrically for the back. I am wearing the pictured Google tee shirt even now :) and the propeller hat is still hanging there on the corner of one of my monitors.

“One of my monitors” hee hee.

I have been like a kid on Christmas all week. Giddiness!

So, summary: work is amazing, Google is awesome, I am energized as I haven’t been in probably years. And finally I have found time to write in my weblog about it!

More posts as the situation develops… :)