Last few days in San Francisco, a karaoke party, baby showering

When I returned back from Hawaii, I was really happy I realized all my plans successfully. I had seen Portland, I gone skiing, visited New York City and explored some beauties of Maui. I also had explored the significant area of San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma included. What a wonderful feeling and I was sure the US environment works perfectly for me. You can work really hard, but also play in the same way. From this point of view I was quite sad when I returned back from Maui and imagined just few days were ahead.

When I came back to the office on Thursday, was very nice to see some other Czech colleagues who recently arrived, namely Jaroslav Pulchart, Stano Visnovsky and Martin Matula. A nice moment was to see also Ondrej Matustik and Jarda Gergic. I thought they had been already gone, back in the Czech Republic, but was nice to meet them in San Francisco again. When I came into office, I checked all my important projects. More or less everything was all right, I had just to read tons of email in my mailbox and prepared important steps for my last two working days in Bay Area.

While checking my emails, I realized there was already set a farewell party for me. Romeo and Cliff mentioned few weeks ago some ideas about Karaoke and the exact day I returned from Hawaii Tomas Klouda told me about that party and how everything had been prepared. The invitation was really in my box and I started thinking about how great is not to be a singer. When I was at elementary school, I didn’t like music lessons so much, but the fact was that I experienced Karaoke twice before. One of these experience was in New Zealand, where I sang Living on a prayer by John Bon Jovi with an Irish guy in a Wellington bar. The Karaoke farewell party was scheduled on Thursday evening and I was wondering all day what I would be able to sing even as a non-singer.

During the day there was also a company lunch. Not probably a surprise when I say I really enjoyed it. That was sort of lunch I liked because I could eat later, during occasional work in weekend for instance, because there were plenty of it for everyone. After the lunch Roman and some other guys from the leadership team had a very important speech. They presented the vision and potential. When I remembered the time when I started working at GoodData I think they had made a significant progress.

Around 6pm everything was prepared for the Karaoke evening. Few minutes before that time I went outside to withdraw some money from an ATM machine over there and waited for a significant group of my colleagues who were willing to join the event. It was a little bit longer waiting I would say, but that guys had been collecting themselves at the office and it took some time. I was going to check the situation on our floor, but when the elevator doors were closing, I saw there is 4th floor set on the other side and nobody, but my colleagues would be inside. I left the elevator before the doors were closed and few seconds later my theory was confirmed and was great to see Hector Hung as well as the rest of my colleagues downstairs. They were quite sad my girlfriend wasn’t going to join us, but on the other hand they were also very excited to enjoy the karaoke.

The place was close to Market Street, a very nice place where we had reserved a private room. When we were almost there, some other guys joined and was great to see Petr Cvengros and Aaron Myhre in that big group. Together we came inside the Karaoke bar. Even little bit later than at 6pm, but still we were expecting a big fun. When we arrived, we ordered some drinks as starter ones. Aaron recommended me some scotch with ice. I had also a quick conversation with Aaron and Mike Connors. I said many thanks thanks to Aaron as we had some great cooperations together as well as Mike who recommended me some activities in New York City together with Hector Hung.

When we drank some initial amount of alcohol we moved to our reserved room where everything was prepared for some of our great performance. Everyone wanted to listen to me to sing, but actually I didn’t want to be the first volunteer. I had considered two English songs, but none of them was included on the playlist. I preferred slow and deep melodies and fortunately there were some of them. When first song was playing, Ben took a microphone and started signing. Even he was the first one, after his performance that he gave I believed his gigs would be the best from the whole night.

When we were in the queue at the entrance of that bar, I told some guys I had been signing Living on a player. Some people were laughing because they thought that music comes from a different interpret than John Bon Jovi, but I explained everything in next few seconds. Actually they chose that song as the second one and there was no doubt I would come as the second singer. That was a very difficult task for me. I hadn’t drunk much alcohol and it was hard to perform anything after Ben. However, I took the microphone and started to sing. No matter I was completely out of the rhythm, the great thing was I was able to start. Another great thing was there were two microphones and after a while Hector joined that performance. The song finished after a while and I was happy it wasn’t a total fiasco. If I can summarize my performance I was also very happy that Simon Cowell didn’t work for GoodData and didn’t attend that karaoke party. :)

There were more songs incoming and more and more people were joining the sining. I originally expected to sing just one song, but something in that scotch caused I attempted almost each of them. Most of the time somebody else joined me, but there were also some silent moments when just my voice had been heard. It was also a big fun, because this usually happened when a funny lyrics were on. I personally preferred the slower songs, but just few of them were as I imagined. I think the most challenging situations were when somebody ran songs from Lady Gaga. Her songs were usually really dynamics and very difficult to perform. However, Ben and Aaron gave a good performance and I probably never forget their Paparazzi interpretation.

Everyone sang something as I said. The greatest thing was that at some points every single person in that room was signing at the same moment, Romeo included. There was also a piece of learning when Romeo was asking what the term peter out means. Ravi was great while some rap songs were on. It was also a big fun when somebody played songs from Backstreet boys or Britney Spears. The later on Aysha and Petr Olmer came and enjoyed the evening. Without the doubt I can say that everyone was sining and enjoying every single song, even a difficult one. For me it was more singing than drinking. I had just a glass of scotch and a bottle of beer.

When party finished still lot of people were around. Everyone with a different level of alcohol in their blood. :) When the party was over we went to the nearest Indian restaurant to order some food. They had some specialities, was great to talk to Stano Visnovsky and Tomas Klouda as well as Pepa and Petr Cvengros. The food was great, we waited quite long time for the bill and the moment when they actually charged us. Jarda Pulchart left that place a little bit earlier, I was sure he enjoyed that night as much as he could. :) When we finished our late dinner we were walking home with Tomas Klouda and Pepa Vitek. We had really great conversation while we walked and with Tomas we returned at our appartment without any problem.

The Friday was the last working day and it was quite special moment. The three months here went incredibly quickly. It was like yesterday when I arrived in San Francisco and David Plachetka opened the entrance door for me. I came at the office quite early, but some emails about working from home helped me realized that I would not have a chance to say goodbye some people personally. Fortunately most of the people were in place.

When I started to work on Friday, Eric had an idea to order some sandwiches for lunch. I agreed with that idea. I had also some important discussion with Jagjit about a project there. They were a little bit busy with an issue on a different project, but together with Daniel Zing and Tom Kolich they did a great work. When the lunch time came I tried the sandwiches ordered by Eric and I had to say there were really delicious. For ten minutes I went outside the building to buy some magazines about knitting for my parents. When I returned back on 4th floor where GoodData was headquartered. There was a guy delivered some cakes for Jagjit. By just looking at boxes they seemed very great.

For the afternoon there was scheduled a TV and photography event. Some people were going to ask Roman some questions and took some photos of the GoodData offices. They turned some places in our office to a TV atelier. When the interview finished, they stopped at my desk and enjoyed my t-shirt GoodRadek. I was a little bit nervous because there were still some problems with a project and was necessary to clarify something with a client. Jagjit helped me a lot and I hope we are really close to finish that task.

Later afternoon it was time to say goodbye to Pepa. Together with Petr Cvengros they were on the way to Hawaii to enjoy deserved surfing. My plan was to finish everything by 5pm, because there was also a planned event from Petr Olmer. It was also necessary to return my stuff and clean my table. A paper shredders was really useful for me. I didn’t know the word for that machine, but Hector was around and I asked him. It was also time to say goodbye all people in the San Francisco office I had ever cooperated with. Quite long list of people started at Sales department. Most people were still there and said some words to everyone. Only Kyle Pistor was on the call, but he came later at my desk to say goodbye. He was one of the first guy I cooperated with on a project here in San Francisco.

Much more people I cooperated with were from CS department and was happy I would say thanks to everyone who was there at that moment, even Emily who joined GoodData recently. The big thanks deserved L1 support and group Solution Architects and Consultants. I wished I could stay longer, but it was time to go. Before I actually did that I went to find Cliff, Romeo and Gautam who helped me to realized all my goals I set for this business trip. There was also Roman. He thought my skin was still covered by Lake Tahoe sun, but I told him about my Hawaiian experience. I left the office at 5pm and were walking with Hector Hung for a while. Afterwards I enjoyed walking through Fremont street. There was situated my most favorite skyscraper in San Francisco.

I also need to buy something for Petr Olmer and his wife Ludmila. I was wondering for a while and I realized the best thing would be a bottle of champaign what they can open during a special event. They are waiting twins in next few months and prepared a special party called Baby Showering. When I bough that champagne I had about 15 minutes to get Petr’s place. I took a taxi and fortunately the address I had written down was correct. I used a door bell. Petr thought I blocked it, but it seemed as something else broke there and every time somebody rang the bell, it was stuck. I walked some stairs and gave Petr my small present. They had been already some people and one of their friend looked very familiar to me.

It is always a wrong attitude to ask a girl if she had known me from somewhere. I started to talk to her and realized she was a game developer and knew her from a game developer conference in the Czech Republic. Her studio was supported by Microsoft and she herself was going to be more and more involved in Disney Mobile company in Prague. Her name was Eva and she arrived in San Francisco with her friend Silvia just recently. Mostly for fun now, but they could imagine to spend some more time here.

Especially Eva, who had some great discussion with Ravi. They talked about some places and there are always pros and cons of every place in the world. Paris for instance is considered as one of the most beautiful places in the world, but I know personally three people born there who hated it. I heard that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and I think it explains a lot. They knew Pepa Vitek. On that party they were some other people, probably more Czechs than Americans. I also met two guys from Google. Stana and Honza. They started in Ireland few years ago and moved here to California. There were also some people from GoodData, Jagjit, Julia, Ravi, Aysha, Bernadette, Oliver and Ray. Oliver shared his plans to set up his own company. I wished him all the best.

They were also some recent colleagues. Dillip and Jim. Both of them I met just for a while, but both of them seemed as nice guys. I have to say I had great conversation with everyone and Petr prepared a very good party. I also met his friend who called himself as a Sponge as well as his neighbor. Most people had a partner there. I had some conversations with Aysha’s boyfriend Sean. He was a really cool guy, interested in outdoor activities for instance. We had a great conversation about the US and Europe. His ancestors came from Sicily and he was able to speak Italian a little bit.

There were some games. The first one was during whole evening. Everyone got a peg and when somebody said word baby, he lost that peg. A very simple, but very funny. Another game was about cutting a string which was a guess about the circumference of Ludmila’s belly. Jagjit and me had quite long ones, Ray warned Ludmila would be insulted, but everything was all right. :) Another game was a scramble. All words were related to babies and it was certain I wasn’t familiar with this kind of vocabulary.

People also thought about presents and I believe both Petr and Ludmila very enjoyed it. They are expecting twins – two girls and I wished them all the best. I was also last chance to talk to some colleagues. I left that place later evening. I said goodbye everyone and went outside to take a taxi. Streets were quite quiet. The reason was probably in a baseball game there. I was quite tired therefore I went to bed directly.

There was no strict plan for Saturday. When we woke up we wanted to experience San Francisco famous cable cars. We went to the place where a line start. We had seen how they manually changed the direction. We sat on one of these cable cars and waited. There were some girls from Germany who wanted me to take some pictures of them, but they wanted me to go outside of cable car. I hoped there was still lots of time. I returned back at my seat and after a while we bought some tickets. Our only plan was visit Nob Hill. There were some places well known from some movies. Was great to see Brocklebank Apartments there, famous from Verigo movie for instance.

After a while it was time to buy some other souvenirs. We found a great place and bought some, hopefully nice stuff. We also looked at place for a lunch. All my favorites ones were closed, but there was a Lee’s Deli on the Martket street where we mixed really great food. On our way back we had a quick stop at home, left all our souvenirs there and continued to Fisherman’s Wharf. We found a great place where was possible to buy some T-shirts. Just few steps then a new luggage. We had some discussion about it, but that was almost certain we couldn’t pack everything to current luggage.

We returned to our apartment with new stuff and came back to the Fisherman’s Wharf. I wanted to experience one more time Musée Mécanique. Together with Helca we tried some arcades and it was very great. I liked that place. We returned back to our apartment, did some checking and went to an Italian restaurant closed to our place. We were interested in lasagnas. We had experienced these before and we thought it would be the best for our last evening in San Francisco. The dinner was very good. Wine and food was great, the waiter liked our attitude.

On Sunday everything was about packing. We had just quick break with Tomas when we went to the nearest restaurant for some lunch. I also went close to the Lombard street to take some last photos of that curly street. Otherwise we packed all our stuff quite successfully, unfortunately the souvenirs took lots of space. I returned all keys and around 4.15pm we were waiting for our ordered taxi. At the airport everything seemed all right, even we had to pay for a little overweight. I didn’t want to resort all things in the luggage because it took us many hours and there was almost none potential to reallocate our stuff. There was a little delay in the flight, but we took off successfully and when you read these lines we are back in Prague.

I would like to say many thanks to everyone who helped me to make this trip happen. I learned a lot practical things and met a lot of nice people. For me this trip was about making my dreams come true and I had really enjoyed it since the beginning. I strongly believe in chance to visit the US in future and hopefully for longer time than 3 months. Hope you enjoyed my stay as well and if you like this blog, I am very appreciated. :)

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