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In To The City

After three days, we’re finally getting over our jet-lag and the shock of leaving everything behind. Camille seemed to have the easiest time of both those. Christophe asked once to go home and the first night wouldn’t go back to his new bed after awaking around 5am. He ended up sleeping with me on the sofa downstairs.

Our neighors downstairs seem really nice, though we haven’t met them yet. They left a stroller and some toys along with a nice card for the “new Canadian Family”. They have three kids, the youngest about Christophe’s age. There is also a little girl his age in the building next to ours. It was quite funny to watch him talk to her from the terrace in English and her respond from the ground in Swiss-German and yet it really sounded like they were having a conversation.

Today we took the train in to Zurich and wandered around for a couple hours. I think I got to show my family about three square blocks of the city is all but we all had a good time. Christophe really enjoyed riding the train. He ended up skipping his nap today and so fell right asleep when he went to bed. That’s better than yesterday when he didn’t doze off until around 10pm or so but let’s hope he doesn’t get up too early in the morning because of it.

We’re Here!

(I don’t have my computers yet so no way to access the photos I’ve taken. I’ll try to add some at a later time but for now it’s just text.)

Does it count as a new day when you never finished the previous one? A mad rush to finish everything on Wednesday before catching our flight left us with no chance for the reality of the moment to sink in. Add to that two kids (even such amazingly well behaved ones as ours were) and there is just no time to come to grips with what is happening.

Upon arriving in Zurich, we were met by a woman from the relocation company who helped us find our poor cat (90 minutes and trips to four different offices) and then took us to our place. It’s sparsely furnished at the moment (rental until our furniture arrives) which makes it feel somewhat empty and sterile.

Of course, we were immediately faced with all the things we failed to bring with us on the plane, like towels and a stroller for the baby. When both kids were finally asleep at the same time, we both went through the “What the hell have we done?!?” phase. We had it pretty good in Ottawa and we have nothing here yet.

Some naps on our parts helped somewhat and we walked around the local neighborhood some. There’s a great recreation center just down the road with indoor and outdoor pools as well as fitness classes and the like.

It was a hot a humid day but the night was cool and fragrant (largely from the neighbor’s rose garden) and it was nice to sit on the terrace for a while talking about things we would need to get. It’s going to get expensive soon.

Now it’s 9:30pm and time for bed. Some things haven’t changed.

New Address

It’s now two days before we move to Zurich. Here is our new address:

Schäfligrabenstrasse 31
8304 Wallisellen
Switzerland

Of Airlines and Men

When you live in Canada, the easiest airline to fly when traveling between countries is Air Canada.  I can say, however, that I will avoid these crooks in the future if at all possible.  I can’t believe their arrogance.  Here’s what happened…

I’m flying home on Easter weekend from California to see my family in Ottawa for a few days.  I fly Air Canada overnight to Toronto and then went to wait for my flight to Ottawa.  What luck!  There’s an earlier flight!  I went to the counter and asked if I could travel on that earlier flight instead.  I had no checked luggage, so there’s no problem.  They wanted me to pay a $50 “change fee”!  I couldn’t believe it!  I asked to see the manager and she rather unpolitely told me that my ticket did not allow for free changes.  I tried to explain to her that I would have taken this flight had it been offerred during my booking, but it had not been.  She wouldn’t budge.  I thought customers were supposed to be valued, sometimes even “right”.

A few weeks later I flew Alaska Airlines and, for various reasons, had this over two different itineraries and three different flights.   This time, though, when I arrived in time to catch an earlier flight, they promptly processed me through with a “Thank your for choosing Alaska Airlines.”  Better yet, they did this for me twice!

Given a choice, I sure know which airline I’ll fly in the future.

Back to Work

I’m back at Google now and starting the long stretch of work here before I move to Zurich. I’m almost glad to be back. The only real downside is that I’ll be here 8 weeks and only seeing my wife and kids for brief periods during that time.

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I must say, though, the weather is much nicer here than in Ottawa. I left a snowstorm behind and now don’t even wear a jacket most days.

As a bonus, one of my cousins from Seattle is visiting her sister here so I’ll get to see her and her little girl for a while.

Camille

Camille France White (pronounced “cam-EE”, the French way) was born on February 28th at 5:40pm EST. She weighed in at 3516g (7lb, 12oz) and was 51cm (20″) long.

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Mom, Dad, and baby girl are all doing just fine, though big brother Christophe seems a little unsure. Tonight will be his first night with her in the house with him.

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So far, she’s been a little angel, not crying at all. We can only hope she keeps that up.

Homeward Bound

My first four weeks at Google headquarters have come to an end. Now I get to go home for a few weeks and witness the birth of our second child. I’ve had my bags packed for a week now, ready to hop on the next flight home should I get “the call”. Incidentally, I now have a new hatred for telemarketers and telespammers since I received about four such calls on a cell phone that nobody should have been calling except my wife in case of such an event. Every time the thing began to ring in my pocket, I almost had a heart attack!

I have none of my own photos to post this time, but another Googler has posted pictures of the Googleplex.

I’ll be back once I have a photo of our new daughter. Until then…

An Enriching Experience

Dynasty HouseI took a tour of Palo Alto to see some of the local sights. Unfortunately, the Pulgas Water Temple was unreachable because of a closed road, but it did detour me to Filoli. If you don’t recognize it from the photographs, this is the house that was used as the setting for the 1980’s show “Dynasty”. It isn’t quite spring here, yet, and so the gardens were only starting to come out. By mid-March, it should be quite spectacular; perhaps I’ll go back. The house and etate, by the way, were financed by gold mines during the California gold rush.

Hoover Tower, StanfordThe other place I visited was Stanford University. This a beautiful campus, but I guess that’s what you should expect from a place with an average annual tuition of around $25,000. One interesting sight I saw, but was driving so couldn’t take a picture, was this old, beat-up clunker of a car parked right next to a shiny new corvette. I’m sure the clunker belonged to a student with brains but no money (except scholarships) and the corvette belonged to someone with more dollars than sense since it’s extremely unlikely that they’d made that kind of money on their own while still attending school.

Bridging

As long as I’m in the area, I might as well photograph what is probably the most photographed bridge in the entire world.

Golden Gate Bridge

I drove up to San Francisco on Saturday, but it wasn’t a very good trip. The weather was bad (too bad to be “good”) to the point where I didn’t even want to get out of the car. As night came though, the rain stopped and I was able to get out to get some pictures of the bridge. Even this was limited because the wind was blowing so hard that the camera would sway on the tripod.

Evening Bridge

Eventually, the police came to inform us that the road we were on was now closed (as of sunset) and we’d have to leave. At first, I thought the new place I found wasn’t as good because you couldn’t see the city as well behind the bridge, but in the end I like this next view better because of the dramatic difference between the two towers. The lights from the bridge and from the city also created some amazing colors. There is as much color at night as there is during the day; it’s just not recorded by our eyes.

Night Bridge

These last pictures were taken earlier in the day. There nothing spectacular, but I like the color of them.

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The Long Way Down

Acrobatics ShowHave I mentioned how good Google is to work for? The sent pretty much the entire company on a 2-day skip The Bandtrip to Lake Tahoe this week. That’s right… During the week, on their time! They also had a great party that night with a fantastic band and, of course, great food! And that was just one of the three rooms.

Free SnacksI seem to get out skiing, on average, about once per year, maybe less. They didn’t have a lot of snow this year, but the weather was so good I didn’t even need gloves except when I went to the very top of the mountain. Google had little booths at the bottom where you could get hot chocolate, cookies, brownies, or smores. The smores were really great because they actually gave you all the fixings and something like a fondue pot to make them. And, of course, it was all free.

Google ScarfThe biggest downer of the trip was that I was pretty much alone the whole time. I couldn’t find any of my group here at work and really don’t know that many people. It was easy to tell the Googlers on the hill because we were all give scarves in the Google colors, but there are just too many people here in Mountain-View to have much chance of seeing one of the few people I know.

I found myself thinking of a day, many years ago in Kimberley, B.C. when I went skiing on the hill there with my friend Mark. In my memory, the ski hill in Kimberley was pretty large, seemingly similar to Tahoe. I’m sure that’s not true, but size is always relative to what you are used to (like the Giant Sequoia Trees). Why I remember that day with Mark, I don’t know. Maybe because it was a nice day; maybe because of the chair lifts; or maybe just because that was one of the best days of skiing I remember.

Entrance The Bar (1 of 3) Relax’n By The Fire