Thursday, July 13, 2006

Work outings

So besides going to Yosemite they took us to a lot of other places in their bid to get us to like working there. I am sure it would feel like this a little no matter what but it always seemed like field-trips just enforcing the school mentality even more.
Wine tasting: I have been raised in California. So I was curious what all the wineries were like even though I don't drink . As it turns out there was one other guy that was not drinking anything either. (I never could get his reason out of him, and I realize my real reason is just about as ethereal.) They set up a tour of some of the wineries of Sonoma Valley. They rented a “Limo Bus” that supplied 3 bottles of champagne along with the driver, and about 18 people came, so that means that some people were tipsy before even getting to the first winery. The average price it seemed was $5 for 5 trial glasses, and that would be taken off any purchases of wine bottles that mainly ranged from $20-30 and on up. They chose the places according to the cheapest samples. I think people watching was the funnest for this one such as what the wineries would try to sell tipsy and drunk people.
Paintball: It was the middle of summer, and this was at an indoor building, so there really no debate over what kind of clothing I wanted to wear. We all went to the Thrift store and I bought the thinest long sleeve shirts and pants we could. Some people bought suit coats in hopes of getting extra padding. Once of those guys went home early with heat stroke. The only other time I played paintball was a huge hilly field. Here in a building with a bunch of inflated barriers the strategy was a bit different, or rather it was more just Charge! Games usually lasted about 3-4 minutes before all the people on one side were hit. I have no clue how many times I got hit but we all came away with enough bruises for battle wounds.
Sailing: This was done the last week of the internship. A sailing trip on a catamaran around Alcatraz and under the San Francisco bridge. I have to say, this was my favorite. I never get sea sick but I have to admit that it did feel different to be sailing. People that normally got sea sick agreed that it was much better to sail with the wind as opposed to being on a motorboat. Which is good because there was alcohol involved and the last thing I wanted to do was to deal with drunk sea sicks. My favorite place was just a few feet above the waves in the front of the boat in netting they had stretched between the pontoons. The sailing was right at sunset and I really missed having my wife there. Everyone had a very relaxing time. It was a good ending type trip to do.

Monday, July 03, 2006

life as a bachlor

So I am living in an extended stay hotel for the summer that they paid for while I work down here. There is a kitchen but other then that it reminds me of any other hotel I've been in. I feel weird every time I walk through the lobby with bags of groceries. The good thing is that there is grocery store across the street so I can walk since the saddle bags on my motorcycle don't carry that much and tend to squish loaves of bread. The kitchen was supposed to have all needed cooking tools but was missing things for me like baking pans that I had to pick up from the thrift store. I thought the thrift stores here would have lots of old electronics, with this being Silicon Valley, but I guess all the guys that have them are hording them for some other project just like I probably would. It is also weird having a TV again and I have to admit I watch way too much.
I have been exploring the area when I have extra time but most of it is just urban sprawl. It's weird that land around here is so expensive but there is also so many farms and ranches. I guess the farmers are waiting until retirement to sell out. When I talk to the people that have lived in Silicon Valley a while they talk about the dot com boom like nostalgia when they should have sold their houses.
It is weird to need to drive everywhere again. I got so used to riding my bicycle every day. Now I don’t feel like I am getting enough exercise. So when I do go exploring I try to make sure to get off my motorcycle and walk as much as possible but it is just not the same.

Working for a big company

Every company has their own culture. Here they seem to be trying to change theirs. They are known for being stuffy. At the orientation they kept conveyed messages like- you could dress real casual, but make sure it is still nice. It's OK to cut through the bureaucracy - but don't forget to do your paper work. A perfect example is they had a party for all the interns from the 3-4 buildings in the area to mix. It was a BBQ, but we got meal tickets and could only choose one type of meat and two sides, and company policy-no alcohol on site. (Since I don't drink, not having drunk people around was nice though.) But what happened was everyone would come, eat, and then leave since there was no real reason to linger. No one mixed.
The building I work in is purely a research building. This is the place where they invented the hard drive. The prototype is on display in one of the halls. (It's about 6 feet by 5 feet tall and deep with the platters about 3 feet across.)Our office is next door to the particle accelerator so all the lead cuts down on the cell phone reception. There is an atom smasher just down the hall for creating new compounds. We all had to go through extra training for different types of chemical spills that might happen, and they have an entire library devoted to the MSDS books. There is liquid nitrogen on tap and the halls are filled with dewars of helium and other gasses.(a dewar is like a regular tank only 9 times bigger.) They have regular teaching sessions about what they are researching for the other people there and we can go to them too. (Most of what they say is over my head though.) It was funny that I knew I recognized one guy working here and finally placed it that he had written the book for my database class and I recognized his picture from the back of it.
The site I work at is on the top of its own hill and the first time I saw it I thought it looked like a compound. Apparently they bought 6 ranches for 160 acres. There is a guard shack at the bottom and a private road on both sides of the hill. I got to say this makes for the best commute on a motorcycle with the twisty road first thing in the morning and coming home at night. The only thing I have to worry about is deer, since they are everywhere. I usually see them about every other day. Since we are isolated they have their own cafeteria with subsidized food that is restaurant quality so I make sure to get dessert every day.