Last week was very thrilling and I experienced many amazing situations. From some perspectives it was one of the most important week in my life and maybe there is no surprise I really enjoyed it. With David and Jose (and Dilip for a while, but it counts) we had a very nice trip around San Francisco and Napa Valley area. We discussed about our experience and I promised him to write an article about it. When I met Jose on Monday, he looked exceptionally happy. He dropped a comment below that article and together with his wife he enjoyed reading my stories. I also received very nice feedback from Dilip. Thank you guys.
Monday was surprising in one thing. I started to see some people from Czech engineering in San Francisco offices. The first one was Ondrej Cernos, a very skilled technical guy who arrived in town to attend a Cassandra training. He should implement very important task and he needed to know some best practices for Cassandra. I wish him all the best because the description of that task seems to me as a very big challenge. This training was suggested by our colleague Pavel Kolesnikov, who returned back to San Francisco from a short business trip in Prague.
In the afternoon I had been developing a project when Courtney came to me and asked me for a help. There was a customer visit and they asked some advanced topics and according to her description I was an ideal person to answer these questions. I really like these tough situations when you are not ready (haven’t done any preparation before) and must do the best to keep customer happy. After they asked me some questions I demonstrated my abilities and implemented them what they want and I was really impressed by my skills and how quickly I am able to create a suitable, non-trivial solution.
On my way home I bought some other postcards and had a nice talk to a elderly woman, originally from Brazil, but she grew up in San Francisco. Her accent was very strange, I think she had a speech defect. However, despite her speech problem we had quite interesting conversation about my English learning curve and homeless in San Francisco. She was curious about my experience and from where my accent comes from. I told her about New Zealand and about learning everything on the fly. The rest of our conversation was focused on homeless problematic. I am quite well awarded of some facts about it and there was no surprise in this conversation.
However, the best thing came when I returned back home. Few weeks ago I found on Facebook a profile of the person who inspired a lots in the past. I come from a region oriented on coal mining and where is very difficult to keep your mind open due to various reasons. I had experienced some great success before, but since I have read Cayman’s blog, it helped me to concentrate on key ideas much better. I liked his approach and started doing things by myself as I really wanted to.
It worked of course and I am sure there are much bigger success ahead if I keep my current execution of all my actions, but if I had never found his blog, I would probably be still somewhere in Ostrava. Cayman stop blogging and I hoped we should have a chance to talk to each other once again. Couple weeks ago I found his profile on FB through another amazing person and on that Monday he sent me some very nice reaction on my feedback. I was crying for joy and I had a lot of enthusiasm to wrote some very nice things on all my postcards. From my point of view Monday was really cool day.
Next day there was a planned quick training for one of our product. I expected to answer some questions in half a hours, but actually I did it a little bit faster. During lunch break I sent all my postcards to the Czech Republic, Germany and New Zealand. The greatest thing in the post office was the process which was super simple. I wanted to specified all countries (There were about 10 postcards and I sorted them in particular order), but the clark just wanted to know if I was going to send them overseas. He sold me particular amount of stamps and I put all of them on. I hope they don’t loose any postcard on the way.
Tuesday was also the first day when I had a chance to talk to our company lawyer David Howard. I wanted to ask him some questions and I found him in the kitchen. We were talking about Filip’s experience. Actually he didn’t mention his name, but according to his body language description I was sure he was talking about Filip. Another good thing is the name Radek is quite unique in the company and it is quite easy to remember me. It is also quite advantage when I buy some lunch. I have some favorite places and our orders are usually to go. There is a one place where you should tell your name for better order identification. I have been there few times, but the good thing is they remember my name without any hesitation and talking from my side.
There was a scheduled feedback from Jiri Stovicek via Skype planned on Wednesday. I woke up earlier and waiting for Jirka. I received one of the best feedback I have ever heard and I would like to thank him and all Managed Services team for this, because it is my pleasure to work with them. They are really true “A-players” and one of the greatest people I have ever met.
Jakub described his experience. He spent almost three years in New Zealand, so we talked about some places here. His technical background is really strong and he was participated on various projects. He was talking about investors for Apiary.io, the difference between American and Europeans ones, is about some people who were surprised when they found that there is not the only one Cambridge in Massachusetts. I liked the topic when he described that some investors are focused on Silicon Valley and they occasionally invest on the East, but only to Boston or New York. Big surprise was when they talked about China and they outsourcing activities in the Czech Republic for some products of Apple computer. I recently visited a game developer conference where Lukas Codr described his experience from China. The interesting part was when he talked about salaries. Were higher (for qualified jobs) than in the region I come from and many people in Moravia would be happy about that. When we left the restaurant Jakub was going to drive to Palo Alto. We talked about Silicon Valley a lot. It really seems the balance between big success and big fail should be very tight and I wish Jakub all the best in his activities.
On my way to work on Thursday I met Aaron Heise, one of my colleague here in San Francisco. I bough a breakfast and were wondering about doing jaywalking to have a shorter walk to our office. But the presence of some cops suggested us using the longer way. There was another restaurant event in the evening with our Czech group. Hubert Palan also joined us and we tried some Californian sushi. I also experienced some common American bars that evening. It was Valentine’s day and we expected all bars would be fully booked. I returned back very late, but I really enjoyed that evening.
Friday was also exceptional in many ways. In the morning I had a call with the significant customer and I also received a challenging task from Sales engineering. Cliff wanted me to help with this and I hoped my experience would be good enough for this. However, after a discussion with Petr Olmer I was sure I can do that and when David Pascale from Sales Engineer had a time, I sat next to him and described him whole concept and how he could do that. We prepared what was necessary and I hoped this would help.
I also had a great talk to Roman in the kitchen. I had been preparing my one coffee I drink a day when he came to the kitchen. He asked me couple questions and what tasks I have been involved on. He seemed very happy when he left the kitchen.
Friday was also the last day for David Plachetka who are going back to the Czech Republic. Ray and Holly prepared a great ‘say goodbye’ event in a restaurant near to our office. Ray Light was very generous and even he couldn’t join us on Friday (it was originally planned on Thursday, but due to Valentine’s day moved on Friday), he allocated $100 dollars for having a great evening. I order some bottles of cider and had a great talk to our support people as well as my colleagues from the Czech Republic. We were wondering about Holly’s surname origin and the right pronunciation. Her father was a Ukrainian and the pronunciation of Szkoropad is [skoropad] if I understood correctly. I was talking about my associations with this surname with “almost falling” if I translate it literally to English. With Holly we were laughing about it.
Holly is great. Together with Ray they do a first level support and work very hard. I always hear them to talk to customer directly and sometimes it is not that easy. Holly graduated in San Jose State University in journalism what was great to hear, because 5 years ago I was really involved in this area where my biggest success was an external cooperation with Czech Radio. There are lots of newspapers in the United States of America. Unfortunately many of them were hit by crisis and during that period Holly started to be more focused on IT area.
We discussed a lot about our support guys in the Czech Republic. Some of them are little bit afraid to speak with customer in English. I understand this problem. I was always very nervous when I could talk to customer in a different langue. Therefore I am extremely happy to have a strong New Zealand experience where I had to cope with everything from scratch. To be an outsider and to not be afraid of making lots of mistakes is probably one of the best approach to have a great success.
Our american colleagues left the bar quite soon and with our Czech group we moved to an Indian restaurant where we had a great dinner. Our last step was a visit in another bar where we drank some local beer. They had also a Pilsner branch. I finally know the difference between Munin and Muni after a discussion with Ondrej Cernos. When we left that place I was walking with David back to our apartment. It was the last night here in San Francisco for him and we talked about various things very deeply. In last few days we had technical issues with the toilet. It was probably stuck, but we had no ideal tool for fixing it. I did some necessary work and watch some videos on youtube for having a better idea about an ideal and quick fixing forever. I was very good to know some technical details and some important difference between plungers for instance.
In the morning I woke up and went to supermarket to buy some necessary things. I was successful and it seems our toilet is fixed. The flushing speed is incredibly fast and my skills extended. If I have some troubles in IT area, I should either drive a forklift or fixing toilets. David packed all his stuff, took a photo with a plush rabbit for his girlfriend and before he left he was worried about shipping some cell phones devices for our colleagues in the Czech Republic. Customs clarks in our country sometimes ask lots of questions and I hope he passed without problem. He is a very nice person and I wish him safe journey.
I washed some sheets and pillow cases for Juraj, the next person on the rotation and went to another expedition to the city. I was walking around quay and I was very excited to try to eat a crab. I found a great place where I ordered a crab sandwich. I was eating and listening other orders. Somebody ordered crab Charles. It sounded very fancy to me, next time I have to try this as well. I found a great museum around – Musée Mécanique. There were famous technical interactive arcade things. Each device consume $0.25 and you should use each of them. I liked pinball tables. From my point of view pinball was one of the best games ever. I chose the table with Indiana Jones and really enjoyed playing.
There were lot of various devices. I spent there more than 2 hours and I am sure I will return back there. On my way back home I bought an American and Czech flags for three dollars each. I bought also some beer to celebrate Juraj arrival. He landed quite late and Ray was waiting for him at the airport. Unfortunately Ray forgot his cellphone at home, but they found each other quite easily. They went to have a dinner and in next two hours Juraj finally came. He smoke his last cigarette and I gave him keys and explained some important things. Was very great he arrived without any problem.
When we woke up in the morning, I promised Juraj to go for a walk to show him everything important. We ate out and walked over the important streets. Juraj prefers the less luggage the better and took just few things from home. I showed him a special place called Ross – dress for less. We went inside and saw such a price paradise inside. Everything was very cheap. Juraj bought some shoes, clothes, sunglasses and I finally found an ideal wallet for me. When we found a checkout I remember I forgot my credit card in my jacket at home. Fortunately I had enough money and I could take everything I needed.
Another goal was to find a Slovakia flag. We went to the same place as I was yesterday. Unfortunately there was no Slovakia flag at all. The shop assisted proposed to buy a Lithuanian or a Croatian one, but Juraj didn’t agree with this idea. We decided we should set up a new tradition. I bought Czech and the US flags and keep them at the company apartment. If somebody new arrive, he can just simply add a flag of his country and there should be also a Portuguese, Ukrainian or Russian flag for instance in a near future.
We also visited that Musée Mécanique together. Juraj was also impressed. After a short walking inside we found special exit where we saw very nice submarine from World War II. We took some pictures and also visited a beautiful gallery of Rodney Lough, Jr. I really like his motto – http://pinterest.com/rodneyloughjr/. The more I am here, the more I enjoy this city. It seems my luck changes for the better every day and sometimes I strongly believe I have been living in a dream.