Monthly Archives: September 2007

University of Michigan Squirrel Club: First Meeting

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Walking around the University of Michigan, I see a lot of people. And I’m really into shirts if you didn’t know already. So this combination leads to me seeing a lot of people and noticing their shirts.

A common “genre” of shirt here is a blue shirt with “maize” words that say “Michigan _______” with “Michigan” being on top, and the other word(s) being below it. So for example if you were a law student, you might wear a shirt that said “Michigan Law.” They’re basically available for all majors, minors, and anything else you might think of.

I surmised that it would be fun to have parody shirts. Ideas I thought up, along with Adam Torres (the guy who likes being mentioned in blogs) were “Michigan Culinary,” “Michigan Blacksmith,” and “Michigan Undeclared.” But then I walked around and saw someone with a “Michigan Squirrels” shirt and figured they had beaten me to the punch.

It turns out there’s a Michigan Squirrel Club that meets every Sunday at 4pm at the grad library steps. Their main mission is to feed squirrels peanuts. And they do it pretty well. There’s a squirrel call that they use to summon squirrels, and several advanced techniques like tree feeding and squirrel fishing.

I attended my first meeting today and fed some squirrels. The squirrels seem to be a bit wary at first, but after a while they became more bold, even running up to us to demand a peanut. I talked with the creator and ex-president, Jason, who is also a fellow SI student. He says people are always asking about the club, and sure enough, when we were feeding squirrels, people kept on coming up to us and talking.

I’m not sure how often I can make the squirrel club meetings, but I’d say it’s a fairly cool club. Also, not to brag, but the website is pretty damn bitchin’.

Recruiting Day: Google and Yahoo

So in a strange turn of events, both Google and Yahoo were at the University of Michigan today, trying to get engineers to apply for jobs and internships. This is in addition to the Google talk I went to yesterday.

The Google thing was sort of a meet and greet type of deal. I talked to a few people about getting internships. They gave me a tip: find someone on the inside to search for internships in a particular group, and have then forward your resume. Luckily, I have a pal from my undergrad years that will probably be willing to do this.

To make up for me not getting a real prize last night, I got a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store. NICE! As usual, Google had some free food, so I got a bagel and orange juice.

I sorta stayed at the Google thing for too long (The Google thing started at 12 and Yahoo at 1) so I basically missed all of Yahoo’s thing. I did ask a question, though! I asked the dude to describe the sort of hierarchy at Yahoo, as a bottom-up or top-down organization, and specifically what they do to encourage creativity.

What I got was quite a bit of skirting around the issues, and not an answer to my actual question. Basically, I wanted to know if Yahoo has the same kind of culture that nurtures creativity like Google. And apparently they don’t. To be fair, the person I asked was a director of search and engineering. Way too high up to really understand what the code monkeys think. But in not answering my question, I think he answered it.

Oh, and I got a notebook and pen from the Yahoo thing. That was like the most impressive thing about Yahoo. I mean, I’d still consider interning there. But their recruiting efforts need to be a lot better than this. They did give away two iPod Nanos in the course of today, but I got neither. Maybe that’s why I’m unimpressed…

After that, I had a few classes. But I semi-reluctantly decided to go to a Google talk at 4: instead of my Networks lab. I know, ditching class to see a lecture… But the lecture hall was too full! So I just sat outside and tried listening to the lecture from outside the hall (there was a tv and the sound inside was being fed out with speakers). It didn’t work too well, though.

Then, I was really hungry. And ready for more free food. So I went to the Yahoo thing (a sort of repeat) at 5:30. This one had free pizza. The actual presentation was quite boring (by the same dude), but the end had free shirts and I also got a rubik’s cube.

So in the end, my opinion of Google is about the same, and my opinion of Yahoo is actually slightly lower. I don’t have a thing against the underdog, but they’re the underdog for a reason. Yahoo had tons of market share before Google even existed. And after Google, Yahoo’s been embarrassed on many, many fronts.

Oh, and the final shwag talley for the past 2 days is: Many Google pins (some say “I’m Feeling Lucky” and some say “Google” among other things), a white Google shirt, a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store, a notepad and pen from Yahoo, another light up pen from Yahoo, a Yahoo Rubik’s cube, and a Yahoo shirt. Not too bad if you ask me.

More Ann Arbor Observations

Today I went to a Google info session. Mainly to score a free shirt and pizza. The coolest thing to happen was that the guy had me pick a random number from 1 to 80. I picked 65, which just happened to be my number. I thought he was going to ask me a trivia question so I could win a prize, but apparently I picked the winner. Myself. They made me pick another guy though. So no prize for me, just another shirt. That’s cool, I like free Google shirts. If I get enough I’ll set up a “Google Week” where I wear nothing but Google shirts (and my normal jeans).

Waiting for the bus back to my apartment, I encountered a huge group of engineering freshmen straight out of their first programming test. It was really nostalgic hearing people freak out about data types and assignment operators. Apparently they had a test for Engineering 101, which is C++ programming. Ah, to be a freshman again. Also worth noting was that there were girls in the group. As in, plural. Enjoy it while it lasts, guys. (I’m not a misogynist or anything, just a realist. I wish there were more girls in engineering, but the cold hard truth is there aren’t)

I think I’ve finally discovered what it means to be immersed in an academic setting. I went to an organizing meeting for a social computing group at the university. We exchanged some really cool ideas and for once my attention was kept for an entire meeting! This usually never happens. I’ve also found myself starting random intellectual conversations with people. It’s all very cool and something that never happened in my undergrad years.

I’ve also found myself waking up early in the morning and not being able to sleep because I was thinking. Just thinking of ideas and possibilities that would keep me awake. This has happened before when I first started exploring opportunities in web development, but it’s happening again. Which is sort of understandable, I guess. There’s so many ideas that are bouncing around in my head; from course readings to conversations to my work at the library.

In short, I’m enjoying the academic atmosphere that this campus has to offer.

Sorry Arturo, It’s Over.

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I deleted all the Arturo Sandoval MP3s I had on my hard drive. Why? Because I realized that Arturo Sandoval is kind of a hack. Sure, he can play some pretty high notes, but everything else he does is pretty crappy. Like having an album cover for “I Remember Clifford” with Clifford Brown and himself in the same pose. Sorry, Arturo, you’re not Clifford Brown, and it’s over. Also, your version of the titular song is wayyyyy too fancy. In a bad way.

I’ll still listen to Maynard Ferguson, though, since he’s pretty fun, and he never compared himself to dead Jazz legends.

Go Bluegle!

So before the Michigan/Notre Dame game yesterday, I went to some “Google Tailgate” thingy. Basically, some tents were set up for people to enter and be brainwashed into the cult of Google. Or something like that.

We actually arrived pretty late, but there were still free things to be acquired. Like a girl was walking around asking Google/Ann Arbor questions, and if you got it right, you’d get a maize Google shirt! I have to say, this shirt is freaking awesome. It’s wearable to game days plus it has the Google logo on it!

The questions ranged from easy to difficult. I was with two other friends, and the Googlers allowed us to combine our powers to summon Captain Planet (or at least to answer questions).

The first one was “What is Google’s motto?” In a mental lapse unbecoming of me, I said “Do no evil” when it’s really “Don’t be evil.” Oh well, they gave me the shirt anyway (It’d be kind of ironic for them not to, what with the motto saying not to be evil and all).

The second one was “What unusual thing does Borders (in Ann Arbor) and Google allow in their buildings?” The girl gave us a hint that it wasn’t something like “books.” Since when are books unusual? I said it was probably dogs, since Google lets employees take their dogs to work. I didn’t know Borders did though. And indeed, we got shirt #2.

The last question was “Who is Google’s CEO?” Who knows this crap? Well, I do, and my friend did, but we’re nerds. So we went 3/3. Thanks, Eric Schmidt!

There was also a bowl ‘o pens that I ransacked (I already have a green pen from my interview, but I decided to add a blue one to my collection) and some free ice cream.

One last observation: It’s pretty obvious that the Google office in Ann Arbor is an adwords office. I say this because all of the employees I saw are beautiful, beautiful people. Whereas the Googleplex has some smokin’ HR people and, well, engineering people. Note that I am not beyond calling myself an engineering person.

Fin.