So, what is up with only Chris posting a comment? Thanks, Chris!... but as far as I know you're the only one reading! I guess I don't need to post any more, just e-mail Chris ;o) Mom? Dad? Marge? Anyone?
Anyway, before we went to bed last night Jim and I decided that we were really tired from four straight days of driving and camping, and that one day of rest wouldn't be so bad. It is a vacation, after all, and we didn't have any huge plans that we HAD to keep up with. And we do have 3 days here and only 2 days worth of things to do, really. So we didn't set the alarm.
When we woke up, we spent altogether too long deciding what to do with the day, since we were scheduled to come see Scott at Google at 6:00pm, and it's an hour and a half-ish each way to the city. We figured that it wouldn't be worth the travel time to only have a few hours in San Francisco, when tomorrow we can have a full morning, afternoon and evening.
Since one of my goals was to see an orchard, I looked long and hard and tried to find one advertised. I don't think they exist, at least not anywhere near and not at this time of year. Damn the off season. Sad day. I tried!
Then we thought we'd see the Winchester Mystery House which is supposed to be the big attraction in these parts, but a bit of searching for reviews told me that it was too expensive and boring unless you were with little kids or high schoolers. Didn't sound like that would be worth our time. So we went to Target and got a map of the area and just started driving.
So, we eventually ended up in downtown San Jose. I thought there might be some cool things to do there. Not so much. We drove through "Japan Town", which seemed to consist of a few rundown sushi places that didn't really look open (still saving that for actual San Francisco)... and not much else. Actual downtown had an art museum, but Jim and I are kind of done with art museums for a while. The Metropolitain Museum of Art in NYC was great, and I don't think this would have lived up to that. We have one in Denver anyway. So we ended up grabbing a quick bite to eat at a burger joint and shared a malt. We walked around for a bit. And then we got bored.
We decided to make our new mission to find Jim a new pair of sunglasses, and some shorts because he didn't pack any and it was HOT for jeans out today, and it's supposed to be hotter in Vegas. We ended up at some mall called "The Great Mall of the Bay Area" or something like that, but mission accomplished: $14 shorts, $12 sunglasses, and a bonus $11 nice button up work shirt that was on huge clearance. Go super shopping.
Now for the highlight of the day: Gooooooogle! Scott wasn't kidding, this felt more like a college campus than a corporate office. The grounds are beautiful and people were playing soccer and frisbee on the park as we walked up to Googleplex (there isn't enough parking, the one downside). To sign in, we typed our names into a computer and out spat sticker badges for us to wear that said Google Visitor, with our names, locations, and our host's name (Scott).
The rumors are true: you can wear whatever you want and you can bring your dog. I saw two dogs, and lots of kids. Apparently Google has its own preschool, they leased a nearby elementary school that would have otherwise been abandoned. [If Jim were ever to decide he did want to apply at Google, I'd try to teach in it haha.]
When you walk into Scott's building, there is a constant feed that shows the queries that are being pumped into Google at any given moment, in any given language. Some of them are kind of funny... one that I remember is "tvs comin soon". There is also a map of the world that shows you how many queries per second in what languages (color coded) are coming through in all over the globe, which was fun. Lots from everywhere except for Africa, which aside from South Africa and Egypt was pretty much black (nothing). It's quite the trip. Apparently Google also has its own rocket which is hanging in one of the buildings, and a dinosaur skeleton out in the courtyard.
I saw a girl wearing a Google shirt (many others would follow), and assuming I'd have to pay for one I asked Scott where I could get one. He said that sometimes they stock a cabinet with free ones, but that it's at sphorradic times and people literally camp out so that they can nab a shirt. We checked just in case but yep, nada... and I guess it was too late to buy one. Oh well, next time.
Everything in the food areas is free to take... Superfood Juice drinks, teas, espresso, gum, candies, snacks, water... you just open the doors and take it. The offices are sort of like tents inside with clear walls so that there is as much natural light as possible. Everyone has two 24" widescreen monitors and they're free to decorate their space as they like. There is a ball pit (no joke, like the little kid kind), a pool table, game machines, marker boards, continuous swimming pools, a fitness center, a tennis team, workout clubs, dance lessons... it's pretty ridiculous. Oh, yeah, and I guess they have enough employees from Japan that it justifies having the toilets with the warmed seats and water sprayers/dryers. Yessss.
We went to get dinner. There are at least five "restaurants" all over and they're all really nice. The one we went to was the mecca of food from all over the world... Indian, Italian, and I don't even remember what else because that's what I ate. Other places inlude the Pacific Cafe, a vegetarian one, and others. It's super nice and the food is very good. Apparently Scott has already been a victim of the "Google 15" and I can see why. They serve 3 meals a day. We took our food to the outdoor courtyard which was nicely shaded by all of the buildings and google theme-colored umbrellas, while many of Scott's new coworker friends came to join us. I only had a bite, but over time the dessert would simply kill me.
We left at around 8:15 and the place was still hopping with employees, something you don't see many places. I guess happy, well-fed, healthy and entertained employees are productive employees. The founders seem very young and cool. I can see them sitting around saying, "Yeah man, and our company should totally have a pool table and free food everywhere." "Yeah, dude, and espresso machines. That would be pretty sweet." It's very laid back.
It's a great environment now, but Jim and I are wondering if Google will be able to sustain this lifestyle past the next four years and if it will be able to survive its competitors. Yahoo and MSN would love to make Google dead, now. So wish Google luck. We'll just have to wait and see. Also, it seems that since many employees do not come in until around 9 or 10:00... many don't leave until pretty late. We asked around and many of them said they put in around 12 hour days. They were happy to do so, but if you had a family it makes me wonder if you would ever *really* see them. Many Google employees seem to be young and single, adding to the college feeling.
And now we're hoping to process pictures. Then it's early to bed so we can make the most of our day on the bay tomorrow.
Sarah and Awake Jim!