Week 8 was easily the most eventful week of the summer thus far. Just following last week’s post I received an email to checkout a 1996 Vdub GTI at 8 on Tuesday morning. I was very excited, but not thrilled to wake up around 6:45 as my normal wakeup time is 8:30. Anyway I test drove the car, and was quite taken by it. The 2003 Golf I previously looked at had 103,000 miles with an asking price of $7000, whereas the Green Machine had 90,000 miles with a $4000 asking price. I thought the 2003 had a better looking body style, but both felt great to drive so Tuesday afternoon, after some volleyball, I made a $3700 offer via email for the Green Machine. I later received a counter offer of $3800 which I accepted.
Tuesday evening I was stoked that I would have a decent car with air conditioning and five seats. My first car, a 1991 Nissan Pickup, had a 3 person bench seat, and the 944 has 4 seats, but the back seats are basically a joke. I made arrangements to pick up the car on Thursday as that was the soonest it could be arranged. My excitement carried into Wednesday which I went in late to work following listening to Christo’s practice talk for a presentation he is giving Tomorrow morning at the SIGCOMM workshop, WOSN, for our paper Can Social Networks Improve e-Commerce: a Study on Social Marketplaces. I was a tad disappointed with myself as I have yet to be helpful when critiquing a talk. My advisor went on for over five minutes pointing out problems that I hadn’t a clue about. Hopefully with practice and more confidence I should have no problems developing that skill.
I left work early on Wednesday to go to an Oakland Athletics game, which was the first baseball game I had been to since I went to a Padres game shortly after Petco Park opened up, in the summer of 2004. I got a ride up the Bart station with Molly’s friend Julie. I love meeting new people, especially when I get the opportunity to talk one on one with them, so the drive and Bart ride were quite enjoyable. Upon arrival at the park we met up with Molly and a few other Gaucho alums who I didn’t know terribly well. Nonetheless in UCSB Gaucho style we shot gunned some beers and then headed into the game.
Then something crazy happened! While we were walking to our seats I saw a familiar face, but one I hadn’t seen in over three years. My high school friend Brit who went to Berkeley happened to also be at the game. We caught up a bit, exchanged numbers, made plans to hang out another time and went our separate ways. It’s just crazy the places you meet up with old friends. Anyway Oakland lost the game to the Rays, but it was $1 hotdog night so I was satisfied after having ate five. One of the guys with us caught a foul bowl, so he was stoked, and then we all headed home.
Thursday morning I headed to the bank, pulled out some cash and went to pickup my car that I had named Verena on Wednesday morning. I also refer to her as the Green Machine. I chose Verena because it is a German female name and because the Spanish for green is verde and thus one can see the connection between verde and Verena. After picking up the car I swung by the DMV but decided it wasn’t worth waiting in lines after spending five minutes to get through the parking lot, with no parking success.
Not much else happened on Thursday though I have been continuing to make solid progress on my project. Friday was an enjoyable work day as I made more progress and attended a usability tour. The tour was of a Usability Study Lab in which we do eye tracking studies of people’s web browsing behavior. It was really interesting to watch the replay of the volunteer’s eye movements as she completed the few tasks. I was surprised to learn that we pay on average $75/hour for usability participants. If you are interested in participating please let me know and I can provide you with the details for signing up, though I can’t guarantee your selection.
As usual, on Friday there was a TGIF, which compared to the last one was many times better. They started with a segment from Wednesday’s CNBC Mad Money with our CEO Eric Schmidt as the guest, which I thought was quite good. Naturally TGIF also had free beer and wine. Following TGIF a few of us played Rockband and then headed home. Friday night I went out out to say goodbye to Ann who was leaving for grad school in Texas. We went to the Rose and Crown Pub in Palo Alto and it was actually a ton of fun. They had an amazing beer selection including an English Cider which was awesome. I played Cricket with a fellow Googler, David, and discussed the situation of print newspapers with Ann’s housemate Shannon who is a journalist that has been affected by the situation. Nikhil, another awesome Googler intern, was also there and we all had a fun time.
Saturday I tested out the Thule roof mounted rack system on my car by affixing the bike carrier along with my bike to ensure it would work properly, which it did. Additionally I tested the 6 disc CD changer in Verena and after a few problems managed to get it working. I currently have 5 discs in there, the first three are a set of Electro House compilations, the fourth is a Classic Rock creation I made in high school dubbed “Kick Ass Classic Rock” and the fifth is Radiohead’s OK Computer album. Finally I put on my UCSB Santa Barbara license plate frame, which was given to me by Cheri over four years ago. I then spoke to Molly who asked if I was interested in seeing The Dark Knight, which I absolutely was. I looked up show times at the San Francisco Metreon and found one at 7:45, which I believed to be an IMAX showing, though we later discovered that I was wrong.
I broke in my car on the fifty minute drive up to San Francisco by listening to OK Computer. I noticed I drive slower in Verena than I did in the Porsche. Despite Verena being German, she’s still not a Porsche thus her handling isn’t quite as good as the 944 and therefore I don’t yet feel quite as safe at speeds over 70 mph. My average speed in the Porsche was probably 80 mph, and I felt very safe at speeds up to 120 mph the few times I drove that fast. Another factor contributing to the slower driving was that the 944 did just over 80 mph at 3000 rpm whereas Verena only does 70 mph at 3000 rpm. I guess I’m less likely to get a ticket now, though I think the Green Machine stands out a bit more.
Anyway Molly informed me we’d have a 10 year old, Jenaya, for company at the movie, so when I arrived the three of us took a little walk and then rode the J to Market Street. I wasn’t initially thrilled about taking Jenaya, as I figured she was probably a bit young for the movie, but it ended up being quite fun. I am fascinated by the way children think and so long as they aren’t shy they can be quite fun to talk to. Molly and I told Jenaya that the movie would probably be a little scary but she insisted that she was only scared of shark movies. Upon arriving at the theater we discovered that our show time was not an IMAX showing, which was a bit disappointing, nonetheless it didn’t deter us from watching. After the two plus hours of the movie I came to the conclusion that The Dark Knight is probably the best movie I’d ever seen! The production quality was incredible and different emotions were evoked throughout which made for one of the greatest movie going experiences ever. I am definitely getting a Blue Ray player and this on Blue Ray when it comes out.
Finally after heading back to drop Jenaya off, Molly and I went to a nearby bar and chatted about various things. I think this was the first time I had hung out with Molly solo as we’re usually with a few other friends. Needless to say I enjoyed the the time we had. Following the bar, we split a doughnut from a doughnut shop that was open at 1AM, and after getting Molly back to her place I headed home.
Today I’m basically being lazy, though I am writing this and doing laundry. I watched some Olympic female volleyball, and have already watched three episodes of Star Trek. If I’m lucky maybe something will come up for this evening, otherwise it’s more Olympics and Star Trek. Next Saturday a bunch of Santa Barbara people are coming up and I’m finally going on an Alcatraz tour with a friend from High School, Mohammad. Week 9 should be another exciting week!