I’ve been chilling in my new Cupertino apartment for about 3 days now. Jet Lag still makes me wake up between 5 and 6am local time, but strangely allows me to stay up till midnight. When I need to go somewhere, I walk, and until Alisa gets here next week, I likely won’t have much in the way of amenities. Not that I’m in dire need, mind you — it’s just not a priority at the moment.So anyway, what happened? Dialing the Way Back machine back to October 2009, you may recall a certain Reality Distortion Field Deflection. At the time, it looked like I was still Columbus bound for the time being. However, some phone calls started coming in again in December, and by just before Christmas the process had restarted, albeit with a few changes. In January some paperwork came my way, I wrote my name and social security number a bunch of times and sent them back, and then I waited.
My start date was set at February First. This was established on January 29th, which didn’t leave a lot of time. Being full of reckless bravado, I welcomed the challenge.
Packing was a mad dash — stuffing in lots of my clothes, but also some of Alisa’s less-frequently-used stuff. The bulk of packing was unfortunately left to Alisa after my departure.
The flight had a layover in Las Vegas. As always, the people flying to Las Vegas are looking for a good time, and this time was no exception. Except that one of the passengers behind me had a little bit too much to drink, and decided that he was “done with the plane” half an hour before we landed. He started unloading the overhead bins, and being obnoxious in general (all the while his boss was trying to get him to calm down). Being seated in the next-to-last row on the plane, it took no less than 79 hours to get off the plane because people still haven’t mastered the art of fetching stuff from overhead _Before_ they need to move (so they don’t hold up everyone else) or simply having light (or no!) carry-on at all. Due to the delay, our inebriated friend started talking about blowing up the plane, figuring that it’d encourage people to get off faster (and possibly for mild comic effect). Instead all it did was make some passengers look horrified (in the “I pity what’s going to happen to you” sense, not the “I’m scared for my life!” sense) and make the flight attendants scramble to deal with him.
Estimating a week-long apartment search, I booked a hotel through Thursday morning, and a car through Thursday evening — I figured the shorter duration would force me to take action, or at least force me to sleep on a park bench for a few nights if I failed. The 55-60 degree weather of San Jose was a welcomed change from the 8 degree winter that Ohio was offering at the time, but even so park benches weren’t overly inviting.
Alisa pulled through and arranged some apartments using elite time-zone tricks like calling after-hours in Ohio (which is still business hours in Cali). Additionally, a co-worker drove me through the nearby area on the way to dinner one evening, so I got to check out some more (from the safety of Troy’s Audi). When a suitable place was determined (a 25 minute walk to/from the office, a 20 minute walk to/from Target and the bank, a 15 minute walk to/from church, a 10 minute walk to Whole Foods, and most important, a 5 minute walk to/from Panda Express), I pulled the necessary $2175 for rent, deposit, and application fees out of savings, and landed some living quarters Thursday morning (actually, there were 2 transactions, one of which was deposit + application fees; that happened on Wednesday. Rent was due when I actually got approved and signed the lease), and moved in my two suitcases. (A fabulous reason to have an emergency fund — also, expenses piled up really quickly with plane tickets and car rentals and hotel stays and buying food, so having credit cards handy makes a huge difference despite what Dave Ramsey unwisely counsels.)
The next tricky bit was getting from the Airport (amusingly, San Jose is abbreviated “SJ” all over the freeway signs. SJ is also an abbreviation for Steve Jobs, my new boss (no, I haven’t met him)) back to Cupertino. Returning the car went ok (as long as you throw way too much money at them, and don’t kill the car, they don’t care all that much), but finding a Taxi for less than $60 to cross town was difficult. To further complicate matters, it was monsoon season, so every minute I was outside looking for transit I was getting wetter and wetter. Eventually someone overheard a quote, and offered a ride instead (citing $60 to cross town as high way robbery) — He was driving to Mountain View, which is just north of Cupertino, so it wasn’t too far out of his way. We chatted some, and he’s in marketing, but was formerly a software engineer as well, so we had some interesting discussions along the way. I offered him the cash I had upon safe arrival ($40), but he declined, saying “Welcome to California” — despite my usual low impression of people generally, California (or at least the Bay area) offers some extremely hospitable residents — a few years back at WWDC smokris and I got some pleasant breaks while ironing out transit (except when it came to the Taxi guy at the end).
Saturday was spent wandering around getting acclimated some more. I picked up some basics (shower curtain, razors, trash can, food+juice for sunday, ordered internet (only Comcast is available where our apartment is, that sucks)), and also discovered that my key card doesn’t grant me access to my office building on weekends. That’s a shame (as I’m accustomed to dumping 60+ hours a week into what I do because it’s a work of passion for me), but maybe I’ll work out some agreement and get access or something later.
Sunday was a nice relaxing day. I got to catch a nap, and meet some new people.
Work-wise, it’s been stellar. I’m surprised how effective an office is for me (I share an office with Troy at the moment, so he’s probably much less effective with my constant barrage of questions/thoughts), and the people are great. The paranoia and secrecy you hear about is entirely true — the only other organizations that maintain this many secrets are probably the US Government and the KGB. At first this was a bit saddening (coming from Kosada, where I knew basically everything that was going on), but after a day or two I realized how much more focused I could be. There are rough edges of course (like trying to work with something “secret”), but those are exceptional cases. This tends to make each team an expert on their particular project, which in turn allows for wildly fast turnaround times and equally impressive wide-scale refactoring/redesign that goes almost completely unnoticed on the outside.
The coworkers are great. I’ve learned a lot already, and the group seems really close. There’s a NeXTie who dates back to before OpenGL from what I can tell, and several other very talented, very sharp people. And they all do things besides pressing buttons all day! That’s amazing to me (computer nerds get a bad rap for living in their mom’s basement until they’re 35) for some reason (not that previously anyone was that bad, it’s just a stereotype that I expect for some reason). After spending so many years reverse engineering the project I’m now working on, I felt pretty at home almost instantly, and immediately dug in and starting learning how to deal with bugs, features, and the development environment in general in an environment where the schedule is much more rigid than my previous experience. There are all kinds of cool little details I’d love to chat about, but I’ve probably said more than I should have already.
And the lunches are fantastic! It’s nice to be able to eat such a wide variety of food, and socialize with fellow engineers. It’s almost impossible to walk through the courtyard area of Infinite Loop and not have a hugely goofy grin on my face