Monday, December 9, 2013

Weeks 7 & 8

At this point, I submit my nomination for qualification as a New Yorker. This weekend some tourists said "are you from here?" and I said "yes" (and confirmed their directions to the subway). However, with a friend's help I finally understood the express/local train thing: there are trains that are express (e.g., A) and trains that are local (e.g., C). OK, fine, but sometimes ("late nights") the express trains (e.g., A) stop at the local stops, which is what confused me. Now I should be all set.

Over the past two weeks, I:

Took the kids out for froyo in Tallahassee
Checked out the Trump Zamboni in Trump Central Park
Checked out this cool Assyrian thing looted from some ancient structure
Saw this tree.

Also saw a show and another show and ate very well and very well and very well.

Here's a picture of today's work event: single malt Scotch tasting. For the record, my favorite was the Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength. Seems like my job is pretty good...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 7

During Week 7, I drafted plans for my team for 2014-5. That helped me get everything in perspective, and I felt really useful as I put it together. I noticed significant overlap among the projects in my area and found ways to combine efforts to set up what I consider a good portfolio. I'll refine it over the next few weeks, but the most important thing it showed is that we need more people! We have a lot of investment projects that would be extremely beneficial for the entire business, but without the capacity, we'll be very slow getting there. That requires us to be extremely judicious as we plan iterative development so that we can show nearly continuous value. Of course, I'd rather we had sufficient capacity so we could apply more effort and get bigger wins sooner.

I took myself to a movie this week, which was the first time I had watched a movie alone. There was a preview for "The Hobbit 2" (or whatever it's called), which made me reminiscent, as "The Hobbit" (in 3D!) was the last movie I saw in the theater. It was with my previous team at Google and after a terrific meal.

This weekend I went shopping. Initially I was doing it to look for a gift (which I got), but of course looking at all the nice stuff made me want to buy things for myself as well. When I first moved to New York, I promised myself that I would postpone it until I made sufficient improvements in my health. It turned out that jeans that fit were smaller than my current pairs, so I took that as a sign that I had satisfied my self-set requirement. The Soho neighborhood (around where I live) is famous for its boutiques, though it seems a boutique is "a clothes store where the close cost enough to call it a boutique." Fortunately I was able to avoid the siren song of the $400 shirts.

Later I attended a wine tasting entitled "Bordeaux vs. Napa". I came in with a pretty strong bias towards preferring new-world wines. There were five pairs presented, with the final two pairs blind. Four pairs showcased a prototypical Bordeaux and Napa example (the fifth included a South African and a Chilean). But I picked the Bordeaux as my favorite in three of the four. The biggest personal surprise was that I strongly preferred the $20 Chateau Greysac blend to a similarly-priced Napa cabernet.

Last night I saw the fourth of a four-play series [NY Times Review], the past three of which I have seen over the past month. I hear this is also playing in DC and Portland, so if you're in one of those areas, go! I enjoyed all of them, though I found the fourth the most intimate and emotional. That may be due to the way the characters have been built up in my mind over the past month, like in a miniseries. And then I stayed out with some friends until 4am, something I haven't done in a long, long time. Even Saturday night board games never went that late (maybe one time for a particular game). It was great to do it. I hope that we can make the right child-care arrangements so my wife and I can do that next year.

Of course I paid the price today. I scheduled breakfast in Brooklyn with a friend from college at 10:30, and I was regretting it when I rolled out of bed at 9:30. It got worse when I found that the trains were not running across the East River due to some fire, so I took a taxi. Of course, it turned out to be really fun, and I'm glad I met up with her. Then I helped some friends rearrange furniture in their apartment so they could optimize their living spaces. One of them had helped me move and rearrange furniture so many times that I lost count, so I owed him. Then after I came home, I fell asleep on the couch at about 5pm.

Here's my picture from this week, looking south from the office. You can see three flying saucers as well as the lights from the mother ship in the sky! (At bottom right is this odd thing).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weeks 5 & 6

Weeks 5 & 6 saw a few interesting developments. Work has gotten under control.

I went to a comedy show where they make fun of things on the internet. Like those things need any help. Then to New Jersey, to my brother's best friend's place for Sunday football.

I went to a concert alone last week. While I was a bit sad to go alone, the show was wonderful and I sang along with all the songs.

Weekend #6 (just ending) I returned for Seattle. I surprised both of my kids by picking them up from school, and they were adorably excited to see me. We made two visits to "the donut store" during this weekend and had a delicious dinner out. And then I was able to join in with the ol' board game group to play perhaps the most vicious board game of all, the first time this group has played it. It was just as wonderful/terrible as it could be.

Since I've been gone, my wife has gotten the house nearly ready for movers. It's very sad to see, as all I can think about is how excited we were to move in. We lived in our previous house in Seattle for longer-- it was only three years ago that we moved in-- but it defined my Seattle experience more than anything else. I remembered driving through that neighborhood before we lived there thinking "this would be an awesome place to live." I was right. But I have a dream I have to follow.

Here's a panorama from Thursday afternoon out my office window:

My daughter here is explaining that "aliens can play the piano." She decided that putting the cart on her head made her an alien. And just before this she cast a magic alien spell on me that turned me into an alien as well.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 4

For Weekend #3, I returned to Seattle. They missed me.

Then Week 4. At first I was very ambitious about what I could accomplish:

But then I was sick for two days:

I felt a little better on Halloween, when I encountered:

And walking around our new neighborhood:

This weekend I took my first yoga class. It was great! How I had never heard about yoga before this?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week 3

Every day brings further clarity to me about what I should be doing in this job. I have a lot of ideas as to how they can improve many of their processes, though I have to keep reminding myself it's not a big company and doesn't need to be one.

Today's office window picture:

This week I:
  • Attended a comedy benefit which included among others Sarah Silverman, David Cross, and Dave Attell (sadly no Janeane Garofalo despite the website's info)
  • Attended a play at the Public Theater
  • Got the place we wanted as shown in previous posts (exciting!)
  • Attended a preschool open house and decided that I didn't like it for my daughter! There was something about that result that was empowering.
Tomorrow: back to Seattle for the weekend.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week 2

During Week 2 I started to find my stride at work. I am starting to put together the long-term plan for my area and creating a culture for the team.

I'm still a little sad about what I left behind (admittedly, the 10% stock gain yesterday didn't help :)). I see a few more apps in the store.

But it's going well. And so we decided to apply for a permanent place. It's 1.5 floors of a brownstone two blocks west of Central Park in the 80s (includes a private backyard!). Fingers crossed that we can pull it together. It would be amazing.
Street view
And there was a movie being filmed right outside my temporary place last night!
Trying to find Jamie Foxx

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week 1

Week 1 saw my first changes to how engineering at the company works. Apparently all these years are worth something.

I looked at two places to live today. This morning, there was the one in Park Slope, an early 1900s brownstone:

It is a house with four bedrooms and plenty of space. The details were amazing. It even had a backyard:

And then one on the Upper West Side, consisting of about six rooms which all looked like this, just with varying dimensions:

No backyard, but look at this bathroom (one of two just like it, exceptions to the rule above) which is completely covered in marble. As someone who has covered up some interesting things with tile, it makes me wonder what is beneath.

Here's a picture from the nearest cross street to my apartment, looking south.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Days 5 & 6

Friday included my first attempt to make changes at work. Since I haven't set up corporate email on my phone yet, I won't know how my team reacted until Monday. After work, I went with a college friend to a "southern food" & beer restaurant on the Upper West Side. The conversation and food was excellent-- I had the "Honey Chicken and Pickles." And beers, of course, capped by Four Roses.

This morning I decided that I should explore the area by running. I immediately came up with many excuses not to do it, but I sucked it up and went. For about ten minutes. After finally getting cable & internet (I haven't had cable service in a few years, but I thought I would for at least the next three months) I went up to the museum I had been waiting to visit alone. I went straight to the membership desk, then the cafe for a quick bite, then enjoyed the museum for about 2 1/2 hours. I left because my feet were hurting rather than lack of interest.

To solve the hurt-foot problem, I went to Niketown to get some new shoes. While the salespeople were helpful, there were too many people in the shoe area that I abandoned the idea and instead looked up the nearest local running store. And that was a huge success. The salesperson recorded me running and showed me extreme overpronation (worse than in the picture!). That explained why my feet and ankles hurt so much from using the unsupportive shoes I ran in this morning. I bought fancy new shoes which I will try out tomorrow. Then a train back home only to find they were running express trains only, so I ended up walking almost a mile from the station back to my apartment. My feet are too sore to do much else today, so I'll enjoy a simple dinner and wine.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Days 3 & 4

I now have the apartment right in the heart of Little Italy. In honor of this, or maybe because it's really easy, I decided to cook pasta tonight. Unfortunately the store where I bought it didn't carry my favorite jar, so I had to make do with one which was disappointing. The apartment did not come with a collander, which I realized exactly the moment I removed the pot of boiling water and pasta from the stove.

Yesterday I saw this in a store in Soho. They've reduced this poor unicorn (or as my kids would say, "un'", pronounced "yoon") to a bracelet holder!

I met up with some recently married friends last night (as in married the day before!) at The Meatball Shop. As you would expect they have lots of different meatballs, though not the dizzying array I hoped for given the specialization one expects from a store which is so bold as to name itself "Meatball". But they scored points for their clever menu, which you the diner mark with a dry-erase marker, of meatball types (five) and sauces (six) and a grid of 30 boxes for you to select which combinations you want.

Tonight I found a Gamestop and bought a video game I watched recently (used, $15) and one I thought I should try. Now to go play one...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 2

I started to figure out what I'm supposed to do in my job today, though I spent a long time on tangents with my manager because I know so little about the industry. It's not so much confusing as foreign. When I started at Google, I understood (at least, so I thought) the basic idea of what they were doing. But at this place, what they do is very different than what I'm used to.

Since it was sunny today, the view from my office was amazing.

The apartment is all set for tomorrow. The rent is only slightly less than my take-home pay in my first job.

Because of yesterday's "no-Android" news, I ordered an iPhone today. I chose to pick it up at the Apple store in the Upper West Side to make an excuse to go up there. As a "grown-up," I don't need an excuse, but these are the mental games we play. I took an express train there and so therefore overshot it by 40 blocks (some "grown-up"). When I finally made it to the Apple temple, their systems were down. I ate at a nearby Italian restaurant (table for 1!) and had a so-so meal with so-so wine. When I returned to the store, the systems were even further down, so I gave up on this for the day.

Here's a picture from my hotel room (the glass makes it slightly distorted). It's pretty much the same as the above but at night. Last night the ESB was purple. I didn't realize it has a schedule for its colors. It honors things ranging from the very honorable to the very dubious.

Fortunately I bought a bottle of nice California cab, Stag's Leap Artemis, yesterday which has more than made up for the mediocre Barolo (or so they called it) with dinner.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 0 - Day 1

Day 0

I arrived in New York last night ready to start the next chapter in my life.

At 9pm, I wandered around nearby streets to find some food and dined alone near Washington Square Park at a reasonable-looking place where I had a curry stew and a Brooklyn Lager. It's always odd to eat out alone. Of course I couldn't sleep because of reverse jet lag and excitement.

Day 1

I started my new job at Two Sigma, spending most of the day hearing about how they do stuff there. 
There were two very surprising things, which I hadn't even thought to ask about because they seem otherworldly to me: no laptop and no phone email (except on Blackberry (!) and a much-maligned iOS client). No laptop? At first I was shocked, then I was thrilled. No phone email? Same reaction. What am I to do during meetings?!

And I have an office. It is configured for two, but I am the only occupant for now. Here's a view out the window. It will do.

Unfortunately there is no approved access to the balcony. Also I heard some of what I'm supposed to do in my new job. It'll be challenging but I am confident.

I heard from the other guy who started today that our (well, Kerri's) research into places to live and schools was spot on. Park Slope is the place to be. But as I was looking around last night I decided to include the Upper West Side in my search, and maybe we could make that work, too.

If everything goes smoothly I should be able to stay in an apartment tomorrow night, which is about here.