Christa and Randi at the secret lily pool

Walking Google

Android lawn statues

Android lawn statues

I spent most of last week working from Palo Alto and was joined by Robert and Shelby who also flew in from Chicago. While nobody could begrudge a quiet night in at the Comfort Inn Motel, it was definitely more fun to go out and spend my evenings in Antonio’s Nut House with these guys instead. After they left I also took the opportunity one evening to walk to Mountain View and poke around Google’s headquarters, which I had never seen before. It reminded me very much of the campus at UC Santa Cruz: all young people milling about in shorts and brightly coloured bikes against a background of hills, nature reserves and an epic showdown between grey and black squirrels.

Why bother to wander around what is – at the end of the day – a collection of office buildings? It’s the same reason you’d visit the imperial palace in Vienna or Wall Street in New York: it’s a centre of power, whether it’s dressed up with the grandeur of royalty, the crassness of banking or the chillaxed stylings of Silicon Valley. It’s a single spot which sucks in wealth, talent and knowledge from all over the globe. And I’m torn, because I do like the aesthetic. I’d also rather be in t-shirts than suits, rather see a smiling Android statue than a soldier. But it’s still a superpower, and deserves a careful eye.

Intriguingly, there’s a small row of small non-Google houses right in the middle of the Googleplex which look very out of place. I googled them (obviously) and here is their story. It includes the phrase “a handful of eclectic renters”.

The Impossible Burger in more ways than one

The Impossible Burger in more ways than one

After finishing at the Android lawn statues I left the complex, crossed back over the motorway and sat down to ponder all this at In-N-Out Burger (“now paying a $16/hour wage!”). Even though Californian law seems to require calorie counts to be printed in blindingly white lights, I held fast and supplemented my pondering with a double-double burger, animal style fries and a chocolate milkshake. Take that, land of salads.

But what if you want your giant burgers a little more… vegan? Enter Christa, who was in town this weekend, and the Impossible Burger at Kuma’s! After filling up on Friday night we had an equally enjoyable Saturday walking it off around Lincoln Park, the lakefront, Pride events in Boystown, a secluded lily pond and Wrigley Field. And of course, for the full Chicago experience we finished the day with Improv Shakespeare (Death By Chocolate). It was so great to have Christa swing by, instantly form a deep and lasting bond with both apartment cats, and experience the city in its truly summery mode.

Christa and Randi at the secret lily pool

Christa and Randi at the secret lily pool

And finally:

  • In keeping with my tradition of PIXAR on planes, I finally saw Coco and enjoyed it very much. Please note that 100% of my knowledge about the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ holiday now comes from this film, so I hope it was at least somewhat accurate.
  • I shared my ride home on Thursday night with two other passengers, one of whom worked for American Airlines as a flight attendant. I think ‘flight attendant’ is one of those inherently interesting jobs which just invites questions about the behind-the-scenes world of planes, and I learnt many interesting snippets.
  • The pool in Pulaski Park has reopened, and at 33°C today was a great day for it 🙂
Our local pool

Our local pool

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