Update: December, 2013

I graduated with a masters on June 16, 2013, and I started at Google on June 24, 2013.  Thus, I have now worked there for half a year.  Everything is going very well.  

Apartment / General Living

I still have Nick as a roommate (as I did for 3/5 years at Stanford).  We lived in San Francisco over the summer since Google has shuttles up there and Nick's internship was there.  The shuttle ride was rather long and tiring, so I'm glad to be closer.  Now, we're in Palo Alto, right near Happy Donuts, a donut place open 24/7 that we have frequented over the years.  Even though we're not a full block away, we haven't been there much -- it's across the street, you see, which practically makes it on the other side of the world.  Also, Google keeps me well fed during the work week.

We're still getting settled in even though it has been a few months.  For instance, the kitchen was very crowded for counterspace, and we just got an extra table to make it usable (also, that was my first time carrying something moderately heavy on my back for a moderate distance).  Also, I typically eat at Google, and Nick is a sandwich person, so I hadn't cooked much at the apartment, but I decided I didn't want to always eat out, order in, or eat sandwiches on weekends, so I finally got spices, tofu, rice, and veggies in preparation for making a real dinner (I also finally wrote up my tofu recipe).  We could still stand to get some posters up, and my computer is set up in the main space since I don't have a desk for my room yet, but it's feeling very homey.

I also got my bike way tuned up.  I took it to a neighborhood bike shop, which was fairly nice.  I think that I am finally coming to a point where I understand each of the components in it and their failure states.  I might head in to a workshop to learn more about bike maintenance as well.  I generally bike to work once a week, and the apartment is just a short bike ride away from California Avenue, which has a nice hippie grocery store.  It even has vegan marshmallows!

Google

I have enjoyed being part of a big company.  There are 5 or 6 interesting talks going on every week, and I've made a point of going to one every week.  A lot of the talks are available on Google's YouTube channel as well -- check out, for instance, Authors at Google.  There are lots of interesting people working on oodles of very cool products that you'll love when they're released to the public, and I've been trying to meet someone new every week.  

I'm working on the education team.  I have three main projects: a diversity outreach initiative, a question and answer system, and an open source programming language for kids (which was used for the recent CS Education Week's Hour of Code).  Everyone on the team is nice and cares about working on important things.  My tech lead also went to Stanford, and he makes sure the office is always very lighthearted.  My manager is very engaged and makes sure that I'm thinking about my career.  I'm debugging some mighty bugs and making some cool curriculua.

And to preempt the most common question, yes, the perks are nice.  They keep me well fed between the cafes and the microkitchen.  While I occasionally bike to work, it is nice to be able to take the shuttle.  They have a 401k match, so I'm actually saving for retirement, and they also match charitable contributions.  The health insurance incentivizes preventative care, so got a check up for the first time in a while.  All in all, it's a great place.

Outside Google

When I was at Stanford, I took a class called Design for Extreme Affordability.  I went to Ghana and made a cassava stirrer.

I wrapped things up with the Palo Alto HS debate team.

Last spring, I TAed CS181: Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy.  I enjoyed TAing it so much that I decided to come back and run a section as a volunteer.  It was, once again, a good experience.

I started updating some of the videos from my Practical Unix course.

It has also been great to continue to see Code the Change grow.  The Stanford chapter is experimenting with weekly meetings, long term projects, and a class on web development for nonprofits.  Our other chapters have been growing and getting started, though I always feel like I should be dedicating more time to fostering more chapters.  I also got a medal from the Jefferson Awards.

I also started doing Stanford Alumni Mentoring, where current Stanford students can sign up to chat with me.  I have had one mentee so far, and it has been a great experience -- I highly recommend everyone to sign up for a similar program!  

As someone who was raised in a Jewish household that was critical of organized religion, who identifies as a humanist, and who is atheist, I was thinking, "You know what I should do?  I should go to church."  I attend the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto on most Sundays.  The UUCPA is socially progressive: they support marriage equality, they donate money to organizations working on poverty, and in general they care about helping people.  They explicitly acknowledge that no one religion has all the answers, and they draw wisdom from many sources, including reason and science.  In other words, I epistemically agree with them as much as I agree with scientific rationalists, and ethically I agree with them as much as I agree with Camus or Vonnegut.

Culture

I read 20 books this year according to GoodReads:

In terms of video games, I played in my first Leage of Legends tournament while at Google.  My team was the best one that didn't advance to semifinals, but it was a fun experience nonetheless.  A big new patch came out for Terraria, so I started playing that again.  There was a kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, the spiritual successor to my favorite video game ever.  Reus was a fun strategy game with simple rules and a lot of intricacy.  And The Stanley Parable was an amazing critique and thoughtful exploration of ideas about choice, narrative, and video games.  I played some other stuff, too.

And the music that I've been listening to has been mostly the same -- some progressive rap (like Macklemore), some electronic music (like Anamanaguchi), some rock (like Fall Out Boy, The Decemberists, and the Shins), some pop (like... whatever is on the radio).  I just started listening to City and Color.  I went to a Fall Out Boy concert and a Sara Bareilles concert.

I probably saw some movies.  

Closing

If you're interested in reading more of the stuff that I have written, it's all available on this site.  You can also limit to a certain category using the left sidebar.  

I'm looking forward to a great new year, and I would love to hear how things are going with you!  Send me an email or give me a call.

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Experience Date: 
Saturday, December 21, 2013