Alcatraz Island, University of Berkeley, Sea lions

April would be a month full of surprise, especially the first day when everyone tries to prepare some jokes. Roman wasn’t an exception and he prepared a special speech with some of these ones. It was quite big fun to listen to him. Fortunately not everything was an april joke and after some ridiculously funny stories we could also hear some new trendy concepts for our wonderful future. I also presented to Jagjit a solution I had wondered during weekend and he seemed he liked it. On Monday, two weeks ago, Tomas Klouda was finally on the way to San Francisco. His arrival was scheduled early in the afternoon, therefore I asked my girlfriend for giving him a hand. She waited at our apartment and when he arrived, she gave him the keys and security card for the GoodData office. He is from the operations department and a replacement for Juraj who returned back to the Czech Republic at the end of March. When I returned from work we had some conversations with Tomas. He seemed as a very nice guy and he had been also skilled in vines, what was such a great news for Jose Bibat. He had also already knew my blog. :) With my girlfriend we finally booked the tickets for our New York City trip. We had some troubles on Sunday, but our next try was completely successful and surprisingly much cheaper than we expected.

There was also a big fun next day. In a mailing conversation I read an advice from Andrew Lee saying: “If the client wants to download the CSV and assume it’s running over a deflator class from the Java lib over the network, be careful when you configure the compression ratio to BEST, usually there’s some incompatibility and depending on the zlib they are using.” ended by a updated picture from South Park created by Aaron Myhre. Did you understand any single world Andrew used, I asked Aaron and was enjoying the South Park picture. I asked for a permission to publish this picture on my blog as well as share this quote there. Both Aaron and Andrew agreed, even Andrew wasn’t sure about fun aspect of his words.

We had also a great lunch conversation with Aaron Myhre and Ting Tseng. We talked about the Czech Republic and I wished Aaron could visit our beautiful country. Please, approve Aaron to go I said to Ting, but she wasn’t the right one who could make this decision, she replied. However, it would be great if Aaron Myhre would visit our Czech offices. We also wondered how could be possible to have some troubles with parsing CSV files. A situation, when a simple task took one of our customer more than 3 months, is weird. However, this would be caused by a combination of non-technical person skills and a japanese locale set on customer’s personal environment.

Petr Cvengros and Pepa Vitek also organized a really extraordinary evening with a guy who worked in NASA. His name was Pavel Machalek and I really enjoyed the night, even I didn’t talk too much. It was just interesting to listen to the other guys. It was also a first time when Pepa, Tomas, Petr Cvengros and his flatmate Petr Mikota met my girlfriend. We talked about many various topics, it was interesting to hear that my blog is well spread among some Czech people in Sillicon Valley. :) I also heard the word Hipsters for the first time and they recommended me to google some examples. For the rest of the evening we had some other choices, either go home or go drinking some rum. Such a great coincident that Pepa had a bootle of rum at his apartment. Pavel had already left us in that restaurant, but the rest of our group visited Pepa’s place without any hesitation. We had some great conversations there, I heard how many people are interested in living in the USA and how easily the work permit quota is exceeded for instance. At the end of the evening we went to Pepa’s terrace and observed not only the beautiful view all around, but also watching Tomas how he ran to the nearest BART station to catch the last train to Oakland. We returned to our apartment quite late, but it was another great night.

Next morning I heard Romeo how he talked to Emily, our new member. He offered to her my working desk which she can use when I leave. It is also interesting to hear people calling me Tomas instead of Radek. :) I had also an interesting conversation with Aaron, he also wished I could stay longer. However the time here goes really fast.

Another very funny day was also Thursday. Pepa told Jagjit about my comparison between him and a 70 year old taxi driver who took my girlfriend and me from the airport when Helca arrived. He couldn’t believe his ears and probably eyes, but the fact was I didn’t mean it in an offensive way. The taxi driver spread his sense of humor all around and sometimes he reminded me Jagjit who pretended he didn’t want to talk to me, but on the other hand we had quite interesting conversation during our lunch. Ayesha asked me if everybody from here is on my blog. Romeo mentioned at some point there is everybody and reminded us my another comparison from past when I compared Romeo with Arnold Schwarzenegger. They were also surprised with some of my additional knowledge and the conversation turned into a discussion about all knowing ambitions. Aaron Myhre had a special stress ball what was another great tool to have. I have to say the lunch was really great. There was a Jamaica cuisine served with very nice guys. There were probably from Jamaica. I wanted to ask them about that, but I didn’t have a proper chance due to significant crowds of people all around.

Another great moment was to see Martin Hapl in San Francisco. He reminded me my sunburn and he told me what he heard about. :) With my girlfriend we went to observe some sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf during the evening. I was simply impressed even these guys were sleeping.

On Friday we had a knowledge sharing meeting. We weren’t sure what we exactly would present, but Andrew Lee saved the meeting. He shared his knowledge about ODBC/JDBC. It was quite interesting, but very technical from my point of view. When the question time came I asked Andrew for explanation his words about zlib library which ended by a South Park picture. Don’t put on my blog, Jagjit mentioned, but he didn’t know I had a permission from Andrew and Aaron Myhre. :) However, Hector Hung showed the blog to our new colleague Emily. During the lunch time we saw a smoke from the garages where some people from GoodData parked their cars. Hopefully everything was all right, because it was probably fire which needed a deeper care from San Francisco Fire Department.

The rest of the day was pretty interesting. We had a great conversation about typical American and Czech cuisines and how typical is the name John in sales department. There was also the second part of the training provided by Petr Cvengros about Rest API. Eric was injured and his appearance was just on the phone. We came through some very interesting materials and got some first feedbacks for our homework.

For the weekend we had very cool plans to visit Alcatraz Island and see some well known company buildings in Silicon Valley. However, the weather on Saturday was not the best one, there was some rain and we had some doubt if we could enjoy our trip in the weather like this. We did a walk to a ferry building and stood in a queue. A guy who checked the tickets asked us about our origin and when we told him about Prague, he looked very excited. It was one of two most beautiful cities in the world for him. When we boated we took a chair and enjoyed the instruction video. They mentioned the Alcatraz Island is not just a former federal prison, but also a great piece of nature within a small area, ideal for some special kind of birds. There is a National park all around, but the fact is, the Rock prison is a dominant attraction there.

We left the boat quite early and started wondering what to do. The good thing was we could return any time we wanted. We went inside a building to watch a video and joined a guided tour inside the prison. We had special headsets helped us to navigate us through the halls inside. The main one was called Broadway. There were cells all around. Quite interesting fact was that each prisoner had his own cell. We walked through Broadway and saw an area called D-Block. If you break the rule, you go to prison, if you break a prison rule, you go to Alcatraz. I think the motto for that section would be, if you break Alcatraz rules, you go to D-section. Alcatraz was a special kind of federal prison with very specific system and every prisoner had to follow set of strict rules. If they were nice, they would use some benefits as walking on Recreation Yard. The troublemakers were sent to D-block and to special isolation cells in the worse cases.

There was nothing, but dark in the isolation ones. As a part of the attraction we went inside to these ones and the police officer closed door. Prisoners had to spend many days there and I am sure in these cases the thinking about an escape would be a great idea. In fact, there were some attempts of escape. Officially nobody was successful. There were some pure madness attempts known as Battle of Alcatraz where some navy members had to help the correction officers and involved prisoners who survived were executed. However, I liked the story about an escape attempt from 1962 when three guys left the cell in a very creative way, climbed up to roof and moved to water where they unpacked their boat. Even a very simple one, they probably were able to get Angel Island. There is no evidence about their destiny, nobody knows whether their survive or not, but the whole thing is very interesting. The Rock was closed relative soon since this incident happened and “opened” for some new challenges like native americans occupation. Nowadays, it is a great place for tourism.

We returned back to mainland of San Francisco in the afternoon, after few hours of expedition of Alcatraz Island. Our next steps went to Fisherman’s Wharf where we were wondering about a great lunch. Helca and I wanted to try some sea food, but there were long queues all around, so we kept walking until we stopped at a relatively small bufet. We ordered some fish and chips and some fish chowder in bread. Sat outside and enjoyed our food. We had also another chance to observe sea lions, but they looked very calm again. On our way back to our apartment we stopped at a post office and Helca sent some postcards. After a short break we continued up to Coit Tower. There was a little bit different atmosphere during the day than I had experienced during my first visit. However, overlook was still great. The only thing we were a little bit disappointed was we couldn’t locate Pepa Vitek’s terrace from above. We found some potential places, but weren’t sure which one is the one.

For the dinner we returned back to Fisherman’s Wharf and at Pier 39 we found a great place to order some crêpes. When we did that, we went outside of that restaurant and I tried to find a place to sit, but everything was occupied. However, there was a family who were finishing their dinner and told us we looked liked a nice couple. They left for us that place and we could sit down and enjoyed our dinner. We did another walk to observe sea lions and returned back to our apartment. We started thinking about our second part of our vacation. We knew it would be Hawaii, but we hadn’t been decided which Island yet. During Sunday we didn’t book anything, but after a long discussion we started focusing on Maui. We also decided we could go to Berkeley instead of Silicon Valley on the next day.

On Sunday we woke up quite early, but left our apartment quite late. However, the weather seemed nice. We bought some tickets for BART and found our connection. There was not direct one on Sunday, so we had a transfer there. We reached Berkeley downtown quite soon as a first stop we went to a restaurant with very nice atmosphere. We wanted to take some photos there, but we realized we forgot batteries at out apartment. I hoped we could find a place were we would buy some and I was right. After a short walk back to the BART station was a Walgreens. They required ID during payment with credit card, but fortunately our passports were still with us.

Life with camera was much easier and we started taking some photos. On our way to the University campus we had a quick stop at a park covered by squirrels. They were really friendly and we took some of great photos. We could feed them with some nuts. Walking through the campus was another great experience. A very nice areal with an extraordinary atmosphere. We saw many faculties and a lots of students chilling around. I was wondering whether some incoming cars were just visitors or a part of any cool prototyping. Quite interesting was to observe a Quidditch match between two student teams. We walked within campus for a while and our trip continued with walking through the city. On our way back to San Francisco we went to exactly same restaurant as we did in the morning. Lots of people played scrabble there and it seemed as an official place for scrabble tournaments.

We returned back to the San Francisco downtown and decided to visit Mission Dolores one more time. Unfortunately it was quite late and the building had been closed. Our next steps followed to the Civic Center. We saw many impressive building within relative small area that evening. The dominant one was definitively the City Hall. Before we went home, we did a quick walk to the Japanese Town with a small dominant – a small tower covered by some circles. The town was nice, but we were happy we could take a taxi back to our apartment. Tomas Klouda had been already there and before we went to bed, we watch the Escape from Alcatraz movie together with my girlfriend and Tomas. We were able to recognize plenty of locations there due to our experience from the Alcatraz tour.

Last few days were a little bit hectic. In fact this was my last full working week here. I had planned some vacation and I would visit GoodData offices just 4 more times before I leave the USA. For the rest of the time I will have a great time in New York City and Maui Hawaiian Island where we go together with my girlfriend. We booked a ticket on Tuesday. I would like to thank Karel Novak who gave me some great advice and recommendations for the Maui trip. I also try to keep my word as much as possible. I invited Jose Bibat to a great lunch on Tuesday. We went together for some crêpes at my favorite place – Galette 88. We had lack of time, but I really hoped Jose would enjoy the lunch. He did and it was really great for me to return him his great hospitality he shared with us during our Napa trip. The funny thing was the situation when I asked a waiter if we could leave our plates on table where we sat. After some hesitation he recommended me to ask a cook. After a while we were sure we could left the plates there.

I have also improved my English vocabulary. There was a thing I didn’t know how to call it. I took it to my hands and started to doing some funny things and asked people about the correct name. Cindy and Holly explained that thing was a stepler and I hoped I remembered it properly. I was also happy I delivered my second homework here on time. A little bit embarrassing for me was a moment when I asked Ravi how long he had been in the USA. I recognized his English skills had been great so far, but I really thought he came in here recently. What a surprise was when he told me about he had been his whole life in this country. I would like to apologize him in this way. Very cool were few recent conversations with Cliff. He asked me about my plans about the vacations and I told him about the city of my dreams aka New York City. Even I had never been there, I was sure it would be an extraordinary experience, especially if I love big cities. I am sure Maui will be also amazing, especially the beaches and water full of friendly sharks down there, but actually I am very excited to see New York City the most.

We had also a team meeting on Thursday. There were two surprises at the beginning. I got a gift from Romeo, some sunspray lotion. The first point at Cliff’s presentation was me. He showed a photo of me to all people on this meeting and also reminded my sunburn experience. :) However, that was a very nice speech and I was really happy to hear these very nice words from him. Without the doubt this US experience had been one of the best in my life and I am really proud of being a part of this company.

There were some other funny things in our office. We had seen a double of our colleague from past, Jaromir Salamon. Eric had a day off and returned with hands fully covered by a sunburn. These situations happen sometimes and I fully understand it. On Friday I had some great conversations with Hector Hung and Mike Connors. Hector asked me about the weather. The weather would be great, according to the forecast the rain is scheduled on Wednesday, I replied. They sent me some great advice about New York City and what to do there. Tomas Svarovsky was also preparing himself for a trip. He was going to go to the Czech Republic to evangelism some of newest cool solutions. Gautam did a quick checking of Tomas’s luggage and he was surprised the bag was quite light. We had also an extraordinary lunch with Petr Olmer, Martin Hapl and Petr Cvengros. We tried some great sandwiches, probably one of the best I had ever eaten. I finished all my work on time, shared important information about my projects with particular colleagues and went home to prepare everything for our vacation. When you read this article we successfully landed in New York City at JFK airport and accommodated in Manhattan successfully.

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