Archive for July, 2012

A Visit to the Google Manhattan Offices

One of my best friends from high school, Brian, lives and works in Manhattan. He invited us to come by and tour where he works. It’s just a little company by the name of “Google”. So on our second full day in New York City, we found ourselves immersed in a most impressive work environment.

Size
I had somewhat expected to get off the subway and see this giant towering skyscraper with the familiar Google logo on top. The building itself was surprisingly short, but it takes up a whole city block! It has the second largest footprint in New York City and takes nine minutes to walk around the perimeter. Inside a series of maps helps employees and guests navigate the vast offices and a number of scooters (and scooter parking areas) are scattered throughout to assist with transit. There are also a couple of ladders to give employees a more direct route between floors.

New York - Google - Scooter Parking
Scooter Parking

New York - Google - Ladder to Cafe
A Ladder to a Cafe

Art and Decor
A lot of thought went into the art and decor of the offices. Each floor, each conference room and each “mini” kitchen had a theme– they had a Pac Man mini kitchen, a conference room with bathroom-themed furniture, a jungle room. A lot of artwork was particularly appealing to geek culture– portraits of Star Wars characters and even an xkcd mural in the stairwell.

New York - Google - R2D2 and C3PO in Library
Portraits of R2D2 and C3PO in the Library

New York - Google - xkcd in Stairwell
xkcd Mural in Stairwell

New York - Google - Pac Man Hall
Hallway to the “Pac Man Mini Kitchen”

New York - Google - Ryan and Sagan in Jungle Kitchen
Ryan and Sagan in the “Jungle Mini Kitchen”

New York - Google - Bathroom Themed Conference Room
A Bathroom Themed Conference Room

Food
Google feeds their employees well. In additional to ample “mini” kitchens, there were a couple of cafes where the employees and their guests can partake in free meals. It’s good food too! Our visit was timed so that Brian was able to take us to the “small” cafe to eat. Sagan got to try quinoa for the first time along with the more familiar cantaloupe, strawberries, chicken, swiss chard, mozzarella and bread.

The cafe we were at had a Manhattan Cityscape painted on the walls and an actual water tower that was relocated and rebuilt inside the cafe. We’re told if you stand in the right spot, the painted buildings line up with the actual buildings outside. Sagan very much enjoyed taking in the view and banging on the window.

New York - Google - Sagan and Vicky Take in View From Cafe (Photo by Brian N)
Sagan Takes in View from Cafe

The Library
The library was quite impressive. One wall was covered in touch screens where you could browse through bookshelves and open up and preview books.

New York - Google - Brian at Virtual Library
Brian Demonstrates Virtual Library

The opposite wall of the library was lined with more traditional bookshelves and books, but even that had a twist. One of the bookshelves was actually a door to a hidden work room with a nice, inviting lounge chair.

Geeky Stuff
Google was a great place for “an unabashed nerd” like Ryan to visit. They had a display of old computers and video game consoles which appealed to Ryan’s habit of cataloguing museums with Creative Commons photos on Flickr. There was a community chess game going on and we met an employee who had organized a Human Turing machine (which was reminiscent of the Human Bubble Sort Ryan organized with the Neighborhood Kids). One wall sported a safe. Supposedly throughout the building there are clues to opening that safe! Perhaps we saw one of those clues– QR Codes in the tiling of one of the “mini” kitchens. A lot of walls doubled as white boards and housed formulas, notes, pseudo code or simply links to someone’s YouTube page.


Video of Human Turing Machine

New York - Google - Safe
Supposedly There Are Clues to Open This Safe

New York - Google - Sagan and Ryan with QR Code Flooring
QR Code Tiles – Possible Clue?

Nature
Google was a great place for someone nature-oriented like me to visit as well. In addition to everything mentioned so far, the offices had outdoor terraces…growing edible plants!

New York - Google - View From Terrace 2
Edible Garden on the Terrace

Google is Great for Babies!!!
Now, perhaps it is obvious that Ryan and I would enjoy a visit to Google. Get this– Google was also a great place for a baby!!! Not only were there a lot of finger foods to try, there were lots of stimulating art and colors for Sagan to look at. There were super friendly employees to smile at and large areas great for walking practice. At one point, Brian was showing us an “Explore Your World” center powered by Google Earth and a semi-circle of flat screens. While Brian was exploring his world, Sagan was exploring his, inch worming across the carpet, taking in the patterns. Finally– there was a ball pit and stuffed animals. Initially Sagan was scared of the ball pit, but he warmed up to and had an absolute blast!

New York - Google - Sagan Exploring
Brian Explores Via Google Earth, Sagan Explores Via Crawling

New York - Google - Penguin, Vicky, Sagan in Ballpit 2 (By Ryan Somma)
Playing in Ball Pit at Google

There were some more subtle perks as well that come along with working for a large company like Google. While we talked, Brian revealed that he does not have to work 80 hour weeks as rumor would lead you to believe. Furthermore, he isn’t on call 24 hours a day like Ryan and I are. And unbelievably, Brian can actually leave his laptop (and work) behind at the office– a luxury that is hard for me to fathom!

Although there was so much one can covet in that work environment, Ryan commented on the way back home, “It’s impossible to be jealous of Brian. Everything he has, he deserves.”

Ryan is right. My friend Brian is amazingly smart, extremely hardworking and then at the same time, so very generous and kind. Google not only has great taste when it comes to work environments, they apparently have impeccable taste in people as well. : )

New York - Google - Brian, Vicky, Sagan Look at Each Other (By Ryan Somma)
Thanks Brian For a Great Day!

More pictures of the Google Manhattan Campus are on my Flickr site.

July 25, 2012 at 9:25 am 1 comment

900,000 Views

Sometime in the last week, this blog passed 900,000 views. Next up, 1 million!

# of Views Date
0 March 3, 2006
100,000 July 16, 2007
200,000 March 5, 2008
300,000 September 26, 2008
400,000 April 12, 2009
500,000 ~December 15, 2009
600,000 ???
700,000 ???
800,000 January 23, 2012
900,000 ~Week of July 16, 2012

As always, thanks for visiting!

July 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Sagan at the American Musuem of Natural History

Greetings from New York City. Ryan, Sagan and I came up for a few days to visit some family and friends! Yesterday was Sagan’s first full day in New York City. It went like this:

WTF Coffee Lab
We woke up and played at Aunt Rachelle and Uncle Thad’s apartment. In mid-morning, we all walked down to WTF Coffee Lab. Sagan partook in a Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry Smoothie. He also ate selected pieces of an oatmeal raisin scone. Meanwhile Mommy and Daddy tried out “Cold Brew” coffee– which was both delicious and delightfully nerdy (The mechanisms at WTF Coffee Lab made it reminiscent of a science lab.)

Subway to Museum
Back at Rachelle and Thad’s Sagan took a nap. When he woke up, the adults fueled up on some peanut butter toast and then headed out for adventure. On the subway, I made the realization that I had forgotten to pack diapies…. and Sagan was sort of due for a “BM”. So when we arrived at Central Park, we first did a quick lap of the area to procure some diapies and wipes. It turned out they weren’t necessary, but this was definitely a “Better Safe Than Sorry” moment.

American Museum of Natural History – Big Bang
At the museum, we first went to go see the Big Bang movie. We were surprised to hear Liam Nesson’s voice instead of Maya Angelou. The movie had been redone. Sagan did watch the happenings on the floor, but also found the time and inclination to kick the railing and to shove his hand into Aunt Rachelle’s mouth.

American Museum of Natural History – Creates of Light
After that, we went to the Creatures of Light Nature’s Bioluminescence special exhibit. This was well geared for Sagan as there were a lot of blinking lights. He particularly like pressing the green button to communicate with female fireflies and he loved walking in the pretend water (lights projected on the floor) of the Bioluminescent Bay of Vieques Island section. He did have “fussypants” moments- when I wouldn’t let him pull down a display, when I didn’t let him put a pacifier he purposefully threw on the ground back in his mouth and when we had to put things back on the shelf at the gift shop. But overall, I would say his demeanor was happy and enthralled.

American Museum of Natural History – Dinosaurs
After Bioluminescence, we had to hit up some dinosaurs. Sagan actually was wearing a little Stegosaurus on his outfit, though you can’t see it due to the ever-awesome and handy Moby Wrap.

New York - American Museum of Natural History - Ryan and Sagan with Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs!

New York - American Museum of Natural History - Vicky (Kissing), Sagan and Ryan with Stegosaurus (By Thad Wong)
Us in Front of the Stegosaurus (Photo by Thad)

American Museum of Natural History – Hall of Human Origins
We also stopped by the Hall of Human Origins where Sagan shook hands with some of his ancient ancestors. I was also surprised how small Australopithecus was. They were almost Sagan sized!

New York - American Museum of Natural History - Sagan Touchs Ancestor Skeleton (Landscape)
Well Hello! Glad to Meet You!

New York - American Museum of Natural History - Australopithecus, Ryan and Sagan (Blurry)
It’s Blurry, but Look How Small Australopithecus Is!

American Museum of Natural History – New Skills
The American Museum of Natural History is always educational, so it isn’t surprising Sagan learned some new skills. Early on, Sagan discovered his echo in the museum hallways. From that point on, whenever we were navigating between exhibits, Sagan marvelled in shouting and hearing himself reply.

Aunt Rachelle, however, taught him a more valuable life skill.

New York - American Museum of Natural History - Rachelle Teaches Sagan to Stick Out His Tongue (After)
Sagan Learns to Stick Out His Tongue

Subway Ride Back
By the time we left the museum, we had one tired baby. But we were graciously spared a spectacle on the subway. A number of strangers smiled and made faces with Sagan which kept him happy and entertained until he finally fell asleep.

American Museum of Natural History - Sagan and Daddy Rest on Subway (By Rachelle Somma)
Sagan and Daddy Rest on the Subway

Ethiopian Food
Sagan actually napped until his usual bedtime. Despite the hour, he seemed happy and awake, so we thought, “Oh okay, we can go out to dinner.” Luckily the universe was looking after us novice parents. The restaurant we chose was pretty busy, so we opted to get our order to go instead. As we waited for our food, it became clear that Sagan was ready to go back to bed. So it was very good we didn’t try to eat a meal there. Sagan did stay up long enough to try injera (He loved it!) and eat some lentils, carrots, cabbage, etc. We held off on introducing him to berbere though. : )

After his first Ethiopian food, young Sagan fell right asleep.

It was a wonderful, albeit busy day. More pictures of our visit to New York City are on my Flickr site.

July 23, 2012 at 1:00 am 4 comments

Sagan Compare – Grandma and Aunt Carolyn

Sagan celebrated his first birthday last week!  In addition to the other festivities, we put the same hat on him that he was given in the hospital and did a quick reenactment on some photos from his first week.  Enjoy!

Grandma and Sagan Compare
Sagan - Day Eight - Grandma and Sagan
Grandma and Sagan – July 20, 2011

Sagan's 1st Birthday - Grandma and Sagan - Cropped
Grandma and Sagan – July 12, 2012

Aunt Carolyn and Sagan Compare
Sagan - Day Five - Aunt Carolyn Smiles with Sagan
Aunt Carolyn and Sagan – July 17, 2011

Sagan's First Birthday - Aunt Carolyn Smiles at Sagan - Cropped
Aunt Carolyn and Sagan – July 12, 2012

July 16, 2012 at 10:22 am 2 comments


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