Tag Archives: Google

Google Christmas Party 2016

31 Dec

The holiday party this year was Peter Pan themed. Weird, but it could have been weirder I guess – Anne Marie’s party theme was Mythbusters!

It was in the same location as last year (though no oyster bar, boooo!) and everyone agreed that this year seemed much more crowded. The food and bar lines moved quite quickly though, so it wasn’t inconvenient – just busy.

Helen got there right as it started so was able to take this photo with almost nobody in it:


photo stolen from Helen

As usual the party had casino games, cigars, bourbon tasting, various food stalls, wandering entertainers and foosball/ping pong/shuffleboard games.

The new stuff they had included a room of giant teddy bears to chillax in, a lovely lady with a snake and caricatures (apparently the line was crazy long so we didn’t bother).

The food and booze were much better this year! I did miss the oyster bar, but the sushi bar helped make up for it.
IMG_20161217_202123(Wow, red-eye – haven’t seen that in awhile!)

The sushi bar only provided teeny tiny plates but we used larger ones from one of the other food stands – people kept coming up to us and asking where we’d gotten them from.

The evening’s signature cocktails (though they could make other stuff if you wanted):
IMG_20161217_194701I also met James’ manager. He was very nice and introduced James to his wife as “the guy whose coattails I’m going to ride to get promoted”. =D

This snake was called Lola and she was my favourite part of the entire night:
IMG_20161217_215513She was so docile (which apparently they are bred for) and her scales were surprisingly moist. And here we are with her handler:
IMG_20161217_213905 (1)There was a big pirate ship in the middle of the hall, with lots of comfy seating next to it:
IMG_20161217_223855Which I didn’t need because I swapped to ballet flats about 3/4 of the way in.

There were the customary photo booths. This one took three photos in quick succession:
Google Holiday Party 2016 with Nick and KellyLook at that expert prop exchange. It took a lot of planning.

And here we are in the giant pile of teddy bears at the end of the night. It was hard to get too comfy in them because I saw a guy leap into the bears, and as he did, a huge layer of dust went up in the air like a mushroom cloud.

IMG_0384 (2)

photo stolen from Alex

We caught up with friends, ate and drank in moderation like responsible adults, and had a really great night. =)

A Visit to Google NYC

15 Dec

James has to go to New York several times a year for work and sometimes I decide to tag along because we both love the city.
IMG_20160713_135543Though I love it a lot less now I know how humid it gets in summer. I’m not sure if New York is particularly disgusting when it’s hot or if living in Seattle and San Francisco has spoiled us. Probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

But yeah, James worked during the day, and in the evenings we did fun touristy things like …

Book of Mormon!
IMG_20160714_184320We got pizza afterwards. =) The top one had pepperoni and honey and it was delicious.
IMG_20160714_220500On one of James’ travel days we visited the Museum of Natural History. The insanely massive Megalodon was my favourite – it was so big its head was peeking out of the room.
The t-rex was also cool.
IMG_20160715_103154But the main reason I joined James this trip was because I’d managed to get dinner reservations to Eleven Madison Park!

Here are our pre-dinner cocktails:
IMG_20160713_174615The food (and wine matching – with frequent refills!) was wonderful. These were our appetisers – the boxes were handmade and arrived stacked on top of each other.
IMG_20160713_175313When stacked, they looked like the chandeliers above us. =)
IMG_20160713_201044I am such a sucker for fancy butter – I just spoon it into my mouth like ice cream. The bread was also amazing and they kept offering me more and I kept taking it.
IMG_20160713_181022This one was really fun. A picnic basket was delivered to our table with little jars of condiments. (The drink was the only dud of the night. I thought it was cider but it was some sort of gross tomato flavoured thing)
Fast forward to the end, and this was part of our dessert being made:
IMG_20160713_202649The second part was a chocolate game (apparently dessert used to involve a magic trick so I was a little bit bummed … until I saw how much chocolate they gave us!)

There were four bars of chocolate and we had to guess which was which out of coffee, smoke, maple syrup and chilli.
IMG_20160713_204922James and I guessed identically … identically wrong. We only got one out of the four correct. =(

We couldn’t finish that much chocolate so we asked for a little bag for the leftovers and they were like “oh we’ll give you a fresh set!” (We ended up taking that extra set AND our chocolate leftovers – because duh).

Afterwards we went to a swanky bar with James’ coworkers and made them play the chocolate game while we all drank cocktails. It was an awesome night. =)

James also gave me a tour of the Google NY campus. He always talks about how much cooler it is than Mountain View, and how it must be so disappointing for the NY employees whenever they visit HQ.IMG_20160715_151912The building is opposite the Chelsea Market and basically takes up a whole city block:
IMG_20160713_140539There was a cool lego room where people could make and store their own lego projects:
IMG_20160714_123900And a project display wall and a weird ladder that only Google employees were allowed to climb:
IMG_20160714_123927Someone made a replica of the Google building:
IMG_20160714_124041The area also had a lego-themed micro kitchen:
IMG_20160714_124238 With brain food.IMG_20160714_124224James really liked the temporary work spaces at the New York office. He said he normally goes to a high floor and sits somewhere with a nice view of the city but he was also fond of these impressively orange honeycombs:
IMG_20160715_160841We also found a couple of trams:
IMG_20160714_124726James was super jealous that the New York office has Killer Queen. It’s an awesome 10 player arcade game that our friends introduced us to. There’s one at Brewcade in San Francisco … but it’s not free like this one! There were a couple of guys playing while we were there so our group joined in and we had a mini battle (we won, primarily because of James’ queenly skills).
IMG_20160714_130741And this is the bouldering wall. There’s also one in Mountain View but it’s so far away that James never bothers going.
IMG_20160715_162136(Oh, and you know how you travel on bikes around the Mountain View campus? In the New York building you get little kick scooters to ride around on)

Here’s James and his team on one of the decks. It was so hot and humid that we all sought shelter inside as soon as I took the photo.
The New York campus has a lot of cool food options – they bring in a lot of guest chefs to cook for the employees. I saw David Chang (of Momofuku fame) featured on their wall of fame. =O

This was a food truck that was inside the building, though it was closed when we toured it at the end of the day.
IMG_20160715_153811 (1)
Above the Chelsea Market there’s a Google cafeteria decorated like a cool loft.
IMG_20160714_133046 We ate upstairs in one of the meeting rooms. I really liked the fancy animal portraits. =)IMG_20160714_133819We did a bunch of other stuff – saw Then She Fell (an interactive play like Sleep No More), ate and drank a lot, and I did some shopping while James worked. Did you know New York has no sales tax on clothing that costs less than $110? That was a pleasant surprise. =D

Cat and Mitch are planning to visit New York next year so hopefully we can time a trip to coincide with that (although ugh, it will be in summer again).

So it looks like there will be a lot of trips to NYC in our future! (Though I hope it’s not like how we visited San Francisco a lot while we lived in Seattle and then ended up moving there and thinking … well that was a waste)

Bye NYC! See you soon!

Googleween 2016: Pachimari & Video Games

4 Nov

This year’s Googleween was video and board game themed. Right down my alley! And since I’ve been mega obsessed with Overwatch recently I decided to dress up as one of the characters.

Mercy? Mei? Tracer? Widowmaker?

No. Pachimari! =D


image from Overwatch Wiki

I’ve always loved Pachimari’s stupid squeaky face, so when I saw on Twitter that someone had made a Pachimari costume, in a fit of uncharacteristic boldness, I contacted her to ask if she made them for sale. She didn’t, but she told me she would show me how to make my own Pachimari costume.

I know right?? How super sweet is that? She described how she made it, showed me some progress pics and even a little video. Of course, I still needed help because I can barely sew a button. So I begged Helen and she totally took charge and saved my bacon. =D

Here we are with the internal structure of Pachimari at Helen’s place (you might recognise the hamburger in the background from last year’s Googleween).

IMG_20161020_112432And some of the external parts!
The costume took about 8 hours to make. Helen taught me how to use the sewing machine so I did the simple stuff and she did the trickier parts. I’ve never worked on something like this before and it was really fun and satisfying.

The next day we brought Pachimari home.
Poor James had to take him to work on the shuttle.

He was a champion all day – costume wrangling and being the photographer for the people who wanted pictures taken with me. =)

But anyway, Googleween! This photo is out of sync because we took it at the end, but it shows the signpost for some of the attractions:
IMG_20161026_190014The booze was waaaay better this year! Not that I could have much – I was limited to drinks with straws that James would hold up to my mouth (I told you he was a champion). They had lots of thematic snacks as well.

Hedgehog donut holes (you can also see the pokeball cake pops to the right)!
IMG_20161026_160644 Angry Bird food! Plus some fruit skewers to the right.IMG_20161026_160651Diglet dig, diglet dig, trio trio trio!
IMG_20161026_160659Plus a bunch of other stuff that we didn’t get photos of. They also had petting zoos with teacup pigs (so warm and snuffly and sweet) and little hedgehogs (like patting tiny hairbrushes).

I entered the costume contest and thought I had a pretty good chance … until Jon Snow showed up riding a freaking handmade dragon. You can’t really tell from this photo, but up close it had individual scales and was super elaborate.
IMG_20161026_172147After the contest James and I kind of wandered around, taking photos and checking everything out. We had heaps of people come up asking for photos (at one point it was three groups one after the other and James said he was worried people thought I was one of the attractions).

Pachimari’s Big Day

Pachimari visits Super Mario World.
IMG_20161026_185448 And Donkey Kong Country. IMG_20161026_185020Pachimari is a big Pikachu fan.
IMG_20161026_184145(Actually this photo was really fun – when James put the Pikachu hat on me I could hear like, five girls start squealing).

Meeting his idol in person.
IMG_20161026_184506 And Charizard X.IMG_20161026_184550
Then he ate some cake.
IMG_20161026_180205And went to jail with Agent 47. A fair few people recognised James’ costume! Including one guy who asked for a photo of James strangling him … which is possibly how we ended up in jail.
IMG_20161026_181132 (1)
I definitely recognised some of the decorations from last year. The jail was there last year, a couple of the bouncy houses, and a maze in the middle. But there were also lots of new attractions that unfortunately I didn’t try out because of my costume. =(

They had an inflatable Hungry Hippos game, where people were tethered to the wall with some sort of bungee cord and they had to lunge into the middle to grab balls for their team. There was also a bouncing castle where you had to avoid a giant rotating beam in the middle, several obstacle courses, and this carnival ladder game.
IMG_20161026_182659Spiderman kept shouting at James “how are you not falling off????” It’s because a few months ago, he read one of those guides on how to beat carnival games lol.

But yeah, so that was Googleween. I know it’s probably lame … but I love it so much. Can’t wait for next year!

Googleween 2015 (Say it Out Loud – It Rhymes)

11 Nov

Yarrrr! This year’s Halloween party was pirate themed!

Alex drove me and Helen down to Mountain View so we could have lunch before the party. We met up with Anne Marie and her husband Ken, James’ coworker Nick and also Will from our Monday board gaming group.

This year we wore costumes!
12190544_10156241749280038_755498155_oCat and Ivo discussing me via email a couple of days after:

Cat: Did you see the Googleween photos on Kaye’s FB page? Is she the shark? ROFL
Ivo: OMG I think it MIGHT be Kaye in the shark costume!
Cat: She looks so happy!

There was lots to eat and drink and we spent most of the time wandering around looking at the different attractions. Like last year, everything (or most things) were based around the theme.

There were various carnival-like games, where you had to knock over bottles or race boats using water guns. Here I am on the ring toss:
IMG_20151029_153207We also got to “walk the plank” (a.k.a fight each other with foam swords over a squishy blue pit). IMG_20151029_154517-2I won! I know James let me win because it’s funnier that way, but it was still satisfying.

There were many shark sightings throughout the day. Here I am with my cake pop friends (also note how beautifully my dead seal is highlighted by the sun):
IMG_20151029_155240Here I am with my inflatable buddies:
IMG_20151029_150421They were actually part of a bouncy castle obstacle course that James and I competed against each other in. James won, but in all fairness the shark costume was really hampering me.

Here I am finishing like .. a minute after he did (it was a short course – a minute was a long time!).
IMG_20151029_150524There was also a writer who would write a short verse about whatever topic you wanted, and then put it in a souvenir bottle (message in a bottle!).
IMG_20151029_151811I asked for my bottle verse to be about a shark who didn’t want to be eaten:

We had our photo taken with a snake (also with a parrot, but the snake was cooler).
IMG_20151029_172416They also had face painting and some mermaids who would put sparkly ribbons in your hair, but as an apex predator I didn’t need any of that.

We left just before it officially closed but I felt like I had a pretty good sampling of the party. There was also a scavenger hunt  where you had to get your photo taken at various locations to win a mystery prize but I was content just floating around.

I had a much better time than last year since I knew a lot more people. Also I wasn’t desperately homesick – that definitely helped.

Helen and Zoltan dropped us back in the city which was nice. As soon as we got home we had to pack for a week long trip to Cancun to see Luke and Madeleine get married. But more on that next time. =)

Kaye and James Go to Concerts and Feel Very Old

14 Aug

Last week James won a work lottery for some tickets to the Fall Out Boy/Wiz Khalifa concert. It was in Concord, which is normally a 45 minute drive from San Francisco but because of rush hour and concert traffic actually took us 1.5-2 hours.

I’d read reviews that the food was overpriced and terrible so we brought our own. We also brought our own water but had to take the caps off the bottles before we went in. Security said it was requested by the band but James reckons it’s so the venue can sell more water inside. He said “if I’d known I would have brought extra caps” (but I was like … how would you even do that? Who keeps extra caps???)
IMG_20150804_183034We had really great seats – the first row in the upper section. We were the only ones in our row for the majority of the night, though two separate groups of kids tried to sneak in and were kicked out (also they knocked over one of our capless drinks *sigh*).

Wiz Khalifa was on before Fall Out Boy and I was familiar with most of his songs which was nice. You know the lyrics from Young, Wild & Free where he sings “So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed?” James will lift Mouse up and kind of bounce him around. “So what we have fur? So what we eat kibble?” It mainly works of the super blank look on Mouse’s face.

He had a gold microphone engraved with a pot leaf (which made me laugh and laugh), and at one point there were giant inflatable joints getting bounced around in the pit. IMG_20150804_205839In case you didn’t realise, Wiz Khalifa really likes smoking weed.

Fall Out Boy was where all the pre-teens went nuts. It was a good show and they played everything you’d expect them to play.
IMG_20150804_225042At one point they had these giant bouncy balls bouncing around the audience and one came from behind and hit James right in the head. =D

James said that he actually preferred the Wiz Khalifa set because he put on a better show. I enjoyed them both, though I was definitely getting tired towards the end of the night. I don’t have the energy (or rather, the inclination) to stand up and sing along for every song but our great seats meant that most of the time I could just sit and enjoy the show.

The majority of the audience were 14 year old girls, which makes me feel like I have extremely daggy taste in music. Fall Out Boy must be like … the Backstreet Boys of the current generation or something. I’m pretty sure I have more in common with the parents escorting their kids to the concert – at one point I saw a middle aged guy reading a kindle and I thought to myself “ooh there’s an idea”.   IMG_20150804_222903After the concert was over we trotted to the car to try and beat the majority of the traffic. As we were going to the car we were saying how pop music isn’t being written for our age anymore. A lot of the music that night was about rebelling against The Man and it was with some sadness that James acknowledged he probably is The Man.

Then a day later we went to Crittfest which is a Google Play Music sponsored concert that takes advantage of some of the bands in town for Outside Lands. The acts were Hot Chip, Leon Bridges and Langhorn Slim, none of which I am cool enough to have heard of.

Florencia and I took the Caltrain down to meet up with James. We had lunch (salmon sushi rolls, some sort of salty fish salad, fries – though I was sad because they didn’t have the truffle fries that James said they often have – and a billion desserts) and met up with his team to go to the concert.
IMG_20150806_142658Play Music had some VIP tents where they had lots of scotch, margaritas, snacks and most importantly, seats and shade! IMG_20150806_152830

There was also a super premium VIP tent for the Play Music partners. We had several VIP passes in our group so took turns taking advantage of the much shorter beer line.

Even though I didn’t recognise any of the music I had a lot of fun listening from a distance while chatting with James’ friends. I definitely prefer that kind of concert atmosphere, possibly because I was able to stuff my face the whole time.

Here is a slider I got from the Bacon Bacon food truck (misleadingly named for there was only a single bacon on my slider) and a cookie from one of the snack tents. IMG_20150806_155205There was also Hawaiian shaved ice and fresh hot donuts which I had with chocolate and rainbow sprinkles and James had with cinnamon sugar. And at one point, an ice cream truck. IMG_20150806_161435I was actually already pretty full by that point, but ice cream!

James and I were so exhausted by the time we got home. We went to bed at a total old-person time and had to wake up early the next morning because we were heading to Lake Tahoe with our friends. But that is a story for another blog post!

Finally Adjusting to San Francisco

8 May

I don’t want to jinx it but I think after 8+ months in San Francisco I’ve finally gotten over my homesickness. It was truly awful for a really long time. A short, but by no means exhaustive list: I would cry (not even tear up; like, legit sobbing) when I heard my parents’ voices, when I saw anything Seattle-related and when I saw heartwarming scenes of people surrounded by friends and family on TV. It’s better for James too because he was feeling guilty and stressed worrying over me – he said that he used to panic if he missed the first bus home.

Our social calendar is more jam-packed in San Francisco than it was in Seattle. We still don’t have a group like we did in Seattle but we have lots of individual friends and that is getting us by for now. A few weekends ago we went to a lame Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Mission with Eliot and Michelle. There were a couple of food trucks but the stalls were mainly commercial – like for insurance and lasik eye surgery. Laaaame.

This was the only slightly non-crappy business stall at Cinco de Mayo – the Wheel of Rice where you could spin the wheel to win silly little prizes like spatulas and get free rice samples.

IMG_20150502_134219(I don’t remember making Mr. Burns hands)

Then on Sunday we had lunch with Bo and Christine in Mountain View, dinner with Chris and Alex in San Jose, and post-dinner Game of Thrones with Eliot and Michelle.

When we were talking with Chris and Alex, Alex was talking about how much she hated San Jose (which I totally get – every time James and I drive down that way it’s a huge reminder how we would absolutely hate to live there. It’s just so sprawly – nothing but houses and roads, and the weather is way too hot). But when Alex was talking about how miserable she was it made me realise that I wasn’t anymore.

A big part of it is that I’ve found a teeny tiny circle of friends. Helen and Anne Marie are also free during the week so we meet up every week for walks and girly things like brunch and afternoon tea. Last month we went to Kitchen Story (which blows Melbourne brunches out of the water. James wants to go because I keep raving about it) and a couple of weeks ago we had afternoon tea in Japantown. Then this week a bunch of us went to Erica’s rooftop pink party (where I got horribly drunk off just three cocktails).


image stolen from Erica

James and I have also been going to a board game meetup every fortnight. Everyone there is super nice and it reminds me of playing games with our friends back in Seattle. And James found out that he actually has friends in common with two of the board game guys!

Now that I’m not miserable anymore hopefully I can get back into the swing of things with gym and writing. I’m also very conscious that I’ve been neglecting the blog! We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff so I have a backlog of updates. =)

Android Perks!

2 Apr

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile – James’ brother came to visit for a week and then we were in Mammoth for another week.

One of the nice perks of James working in Android is that he gets a lot of free stuff to play with. He has a Sonos, two Nexus tablets, two watches and a Nexus 5 phone. And today all the people in Android were given these:
2015-04-02From left to right: Nexus 6, a gamepad for the Nexus and a Nexus Player.

The best part (for me) is that he gets to keep his old Nexus 5 phone, so he just needs to change it from a developer phone to a normal one and then I get a free upgrade! I’m so sick of my iPhone – it sucks not knowing if a charge will last for 5 hours or for 30 minutes.

He’s been enjoying work a lot and apparently all his projects have been going well. So the swag is a cool perk on top of loving his job and getting to work on interesting stuff. Oh yeah, and he gets to go to New York at the end of this month. =)