Monday, January 25, 2010

Not always right, and sometimes wrong

I've been reading recently. It's a compendium of transcriptions of often hilarious exchanges between serving staff and customers.

Recently there was Famous Ignoramus:


Me: “Hello, sir, how may I help you?”
Customer: “Do you have those books in that series?”
Me: “Which series is that?”
Customer: “You know, the one by that famous author.”
Me: “There are lots of famous authors, sir. Do you know what one of the books was called?
Customer: “I want the third book in the series by that famous author!”
Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but without more information, I don’t know which book you’re after.”
Customer: “This is ridiculous! How could you not know the ones I’m talking about? They’re FAMOUS!”

It reminded me of my own stint working in a bookshop in 1992 when I had a number of almost identical experiences. Going beyond the above basic encounter, my two favorite stories from that time:

  • the guy who called up asking for "3 feet of black books". He's decorating his house, has just put shelves up, and now needs to fill 36 inches of this shelving with dark-spined works of literature. We sold him a bunch of remaindered paperbacks.
  • the guy in the raincoat who spent a while with his back to us in the Sports section. My colleague Glynn eventually approached him with a friendly "can I help you?"... but regretted it when he saw that the guy was masturbating over a gymnastics book.

In other news, I took a bunch of photos with my new lens the other night. Here's one, the rest here


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Farewell Google

My boss was fantastically gracious. She said "I'm proud of you. I'll miss you. Thanks for helping me build the team". You could barely ask for more when you hand in your resignation.

A week or so later I sent out this email:

and received in return a wealth of warm wishes from people with whom I've worked. Man alive, I've worked with some really super people at Google.

This evening I had my team over for dinner. What a great team! They gave me this lovely card:

Fitting and inspirational. I'll miss them.

Tomorrow's my last full day at Google and next week I begin my "funemployment" with a quick trip to the UK. Exciting times! As a present to myself I bought a new lens for my camera. I took this picture of Wendy with it:


It's true that I don't yet have any "next thing" lined up. If you have any ideas, let me know. My résumé is at

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I went to the Crunchies last Friday night. The Crunchies as far as I can tell aspire to be the tech equivalent of the Academy (film), Emmy (TV), Grammy (music) or Tony (stage) Awards.

Tech celebrities appear at the Crunchies annually—including plenty flying in from around the world—and just as with the more famous ceremonies you might be forgiven for thinking that the real talent is probably elsewhere. On the other hand, unlike the more prestigious SoCal-baed awards, they let the fawning masses like me in too... if you're quick enough when they put the tickets on sale, that is.

I was in the cheapseats for the awards ceremony, but surprisingly enough two down from a guy who won a free Nexus One (winning tickets were taped to the undersides of selected seats). It was a good time, with geeky entertainment from the Richter Scales.

My friend April joined me for the afterparty and we rubbed shoulders with the tech elite... sort of. And then we had our photo taken:

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fruit and Veg

When you're having a baby you can barely help doing internet research on what's going on during pregnancy. Turns out, to my surprise, that it's all about fruit and vegetables. Week 7: it's as big as a blueberry. Week 9: as big as a grape. Week 13: as big as a peach. A friend of mine recalls the "Spanish onion" stage, which is remarkably specific.

It's always foodstuffs but apparently never "as big as a packet of chips" or "as big as a cheeseburger". Fruit and vegetables only.

Or so I thought.

And then I found this delightful "Dad's pregnancy guide". Week 7: as big as the power button on a TV remote. Week 10: the size of the head of a hammer. Week 13: a gas cap, of all things.

Love it!

Here's a picture of Wendy the day we got our exciting news: