Google knows how to throw a party

I just flew in from Reno, and boy are my arms tired. The ironic thing is that it’s totally true. Here’s what’s happened in the past 48 hours:

Because of our close proximity to the movie-making industry, our office decided to have a gala all about script-writing and its interactions with the internet. We got Ted Griffen (writer of Ocean’s 11 and Matchstick Men), Lauren Greenfield (creator of Girl Culture and Thin), Craig Brewer (writer/director of Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan), and Jim Uhls (screenwriter of Fight Club) to come give a panel and question and answer session about how the internet has changed the way movies are written, whether through search engines, advertising, piracy, etc. There were a bunch of moviemaking people invited to the event (none of whom I recognized), and we had a fancy reception on the 3rd floor before it started. This reception was as amazing as the panel itself.

Our 3rd floor typically has 3 areas to it: there is a large meeting room where we often get video feeds of talks happening in other offices, there is the cafeteria, and there is a deck on the roof where we eat. For Monday night, however, the place was transformed beyond recognition: there were topiaries in the cafeteria, making the entire thing look like a maze in a forest (like that maze in The Shining, but without the axe-weilding murderer). The meeting room had false walls built up 2 feet in from the real walls, with all sorts of colored lights and patterns shining on/through them. The entire floor was carpeted, even the outside! There was a giant tent covering most of the outdoor deck, so it still seemed to be indoors, except for a small part that was left outside: it had a fire pit in it. We had rented a bunch of furniture with lights in them (chairs, tables, couches, etc), which was very novel and classy. Even the elevator was carpeted for the evening. There were two bars, and a bunch of waiters running around with trays of hors d’oeuvres. All of the lights had been tinted a soothing blue. It was really classy.

The panel itself had a large enough audience that we rented out a movie theater on 3rd Street, and conducted everything on its stage. That part was videotaped, and is likely to appear on TV or Google Video or something. After the panel, we came back to the office for the afterparty. We got to hang out with the writers (I got to shake Ted Griffen’s hand and chat with him for a while), eat more food, and generally have a good time around the fire pit. I left the office around midnight.

Every year, the west coast offices go on a mandatory (yes, that means that to get out of going you need written approval from your director!) all expenses paid 1-day ski trip to Tahoe. The plane left at 6:35 on Tuesday morning, which meant that after leaving the afterparty at midnight, I still needed to pack, get 3 hours of sleep, and get up at 4:00 AM. Yuck! However, it’s pretty cool being on a plane that is almost entirely filled with people you know.

We got to hit the slopes of Squaw Valley a little after 11:00. Nick, Caitlin, and I had signed up for the beginners snowboarding lessons, which I got the hang of much faster than the others (over 4 years of skateboarding experience made a lot of it familiar), and I went off to the other bunny hills. We had OK, if slushy, conditions for the early afternoon, but by 3:00 everything had turned to ice. This is really bad for learning how to snowboard, because you can neither turn nor stop on ice. I did a lot of falling down (hence my sore, tired arms. and legs. and butt), but it was great fun. I’d like to try it again sometime.

That evening we had the most lavish party I have ever been to. You thought Slippery When Wet was good? You ain’t seen nothing. There were 3 themed rooms: the Polar Room was done out all in white, and had large ice-like decorations hanging from the ceiling. There were two guys (who looked like members of the Blue Man Group, but all in white) up on a stage with blocks of ice and chainsaws. They sculpted the ice into chairs, a table, goblets, a bear, a penguin, &c. Techno music blasted throughout the evening. It was unreal.

The Jungle Room had a giant plane of water cascading from the ceiling, upon which film clips of jungle animals/plants were projected. There was a fake banyan tree in the middle of the room. During dinner there were contortionists striking amazing poses. After dinner, we danced to an awesome 80’s cover band, whose name might be Tantric Sex edit: the band’s name is Tainted Love. They were absolutely fantastic, and didn’t play a bad song the entire night. There were go-go dancers in cages on the sides of the stage. After a while, Lisa and Tiffany got up and danced in the cages, too! Our office has the coolest people ever. There were rumors that Eric Schmidt was on the dance floor somewhere, but I didn’t see him.

The Reef Room had projections of fish on the walls, and videos of undersea animals playing around the room. Everything was done out in blues and greens (with the exception of a couple white couches). There were Geomag sets to play with, and we found that the strongest structure we could make was by stacking irregular tetradecagons (2 large, parallel hexagonal faces with 12 equilateral triangles around the outside): they were strong enough to hold one of the glass centerpieces from the tables up over half a foot before we ran out of magnets!

Each room had different food, vaguely themed along with the room (fish and chips in the Reef Room, spicy food and meat in the Jungle Room, sandwiches and baked potatoes in the Polar Room), and there were deserts through the halls connecting the rooms. Along with foosball tables. There were rumors of a game room downstairs, but I never went looking for it.

After 5 hours of this, we went to Josh’s and Fish’s hotel room for an afterparty, which degraded into watching Family Guy and playing bridge and speed quarters. We went to bed around 3, but everyone received a wake-up call at 8:30, to make sure we would check out before 10:00. We had several hours to kill before going back to the airport, so we discussed question 10 from the Google Labs Aptitude Test (consider an infinite rectangular lattice of 1-Ohm resistors. What is the total resistance between two vertices a knight’s move apart?), which we never finished solving (we only had pens and napkins to work with; it was very Mudd-like). We managed to bound it between 0.5 and 1 ohm, though. Dustin taught us to play Liars Poker, which was quite fun. On the plane trip back, Steve and I tried to find the optimal strategy for the endgame (when there are 2 players, each with 1 card). We’re pretty sure that the player that goes second has the advantage, but we never figured out the optimal strategy itself (it basically comes down to this: player 1 needs to bid something higher than player 2’s card, at which point player 2 needs to determine whether or not player 1 is lying). I suspect the solution can be phrased as a quadratic programming problem, but I didn’t flesh it out on the plane (also, I suspect it can be solved in P, but I’m not sure).

So, I’ve gotten about 9 hours of sleep (counting naps on the plane and bus) in the past two days, but it’s been absolutely incredible. I am sore and bruised, but the whole thing was wonderful. I need to go to bed now. Good night!

Leave a Reply


  1. hmcmodelt says:

    That sounds like a really great weekend (or mid-week?). I’m glad you’re becoming friends with the people at work, and that’s really cool that Google does all that for you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Geomag pictures?

    Hey Alan, As a regular reader of your blog, I was pleased to see the mention of Geomag sets at the Google party. If you have any photos of folks playing with the sets, we’d love to put them up on our blog at Thanks for the fun read!

    • Alan says:

      Re: Geomag pictures?

      I don’t have any pictures, but someone else might have taken some. I’ll ask around. I should warn you that I don’t know exactly what brand these were; they looked and acted like Geomags but could have been any competing product.

      If you don’t mind my asking, how did you find my blog? I’m happy that you’re reading, just a little puzzled about how you found me since I don’t advertise it except by word of mouth.

  3. eve_wyoming says:

    I was just bragging about having a friend working at Google, and now I have even more to say :). This sounds amAZing. I especially like the descriptions of the parties. AND that you got to meet so many good and well-known scriptwriters. And that I understand the majority of the post…love hearing what’s going on in your vida! Muah!

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