[the palaverist]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

[ann taylor is not for the boys]

Last night I dreamed that I went to work in a new kilt suit — a tweed skirt and matching jacket — and then began to worry that perhaps it was actually just a skirt suit, for a woman. I had to walk all the way across the office, only to discover that my usual morning meeting wasn't happening. On the way back, two medieval trumpeters, banners draped from their long horns, were performing a fanfare to welcome a lunch provided as a marketing gimmick by Boston Market, which seemed odd considering we can all go to the Google cafeteria.

Then I woke up and found an email in my inbox about a pregnant man (in Australia, though, so it kind of makes sense, because hanging upside-down all day does weird things to those people).

Oh, and I promise not every post from now on will contain the word "Google." Really. Eventually I'll be able to think of something else.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

[misreading korea]

A friend of mine sent me a link to a Salon story titled A Taste of North Korean Beer Propaganda, which is centered around a bizarre claim that North Korea's beer brand, Taedonggang, has a picture of a historically significant American schooner on its cap.

One does not even have to read Korean to work out that Taedonggang is named after the Taedong River — it's mentioned in the Wikipedia article on the beer — and from there, it's not hard to do a little Googling and find out that the picture on the bottle cap is of the Chongryu Bridge, which crosses the Taedong in Pyongyang.

Why Salon so completely missed this is beyond me. It smacks of pure laziness. I expect we'll be hearing from them any day about the Marlboro-KKK connection.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 14, 2008

[drinking the kool-aid]

"Don't drink the Kool-Aid!"

So warned one of my colleagues on Tuesday, when Google workers arrived to install our lavish new snack cart, just hours after our CEO had emailed us to say the acquisition was complete, and then their executives had emailed us to say welcome and warn of headcount reductions.

There was, and is, a great deal of fear and uncertainty at what used to be DoubleClick. But four days in, I'm learning to stop worrying and love the Googlebomb.

For one thing, Google is making it very clear that it has no intention of decimating DoubleClick:
  • The day after the purchase went through, Google not only gave DoubleClick's New York employees access to its gourmet cafeteria, but also began running shuttle buses to take our San Francisco employees to lunch at their San Francisco offices — not a one-day stunt, but an ongoing interim solution until the San Francisco people can be moved into Google's offices there. There was a fancy catered cocktail party in our New York office on Wednesday night, and Wednesday also saw the arrival of a huge number of vast, mysterious pallets that turned out to contain videoconferencing flatscreens and cameras for every New York conference room.
  • On Wednesday, the head of engineering for North America spoke to all of us in the engineering department, assuring us that valuable people would be valued and that he had no specific number of jobs he was seeking to cut, and could in fact choose to cut none. We were also told that our management would have significant say in the process. I know that we've got a strong advocate for documentation — my old boss — involved in the discussions, and I feel pretty confident that we'll come out just fine (and that even if we don't, I am relatively low down on the hit list).
  • On Thursday, Sergey Brin came in to talk. He was wearing Crocs with no socks, which is what you get to do when you're worth $5.8 billion. I asked a question during the Q&A, about keeping the good aspects of DoubleClick's culture. Brin is the richest man I have ever spoken to. He came across as basically a lot like the Russian Jews I went to middle school with, if they were worth $5.8 billion.
  • Starting next week, there will be learning sessions given by Google employees. I'm signed up to learn about search, maps and ads.
  • Today they sent out non-disclosure agreements and similar stuff for all of us to sign and send back by inter-office mail. (That's paper, in case you're wondering.)
These are simply not the kinds of things you do if you're planning to cut big numbers. Nor is my position the least bit redundant: I'm the sole tech writer on one of our leading products, which has a big release on the way. And I know I have the support of my managers.

That being the case, I am doing my best to set aside whatever fears I have and embrace this exciting change. During the Q&A, Brin said we should think of ourselves as Google employees, and so I shall. Tonight, on the way home, I picked up The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, by John Battelle.

I'm excited about this whole thing. The uncertainty about job security is difficult, but that will be over by April 4, and I'm confident it will turn out all right. The uncertainty about everything else — benefits, career direction, etc. — will take longer to pass, but I will be a part of one of the greatest, most innovative, most successful companies in the world as I figure it all out.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008


The arrival of the snack cart.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

[feeling the fear]

I really want to work for Google. Really. Really I do.

The integration of Google with DoubleClick is proceeding apace. Yesterday they rolled in snack carts, and today we ate lunch in their cafeteria, as we will be able to do from now on. This afternoon we had a lavish cocktail party with fancy hors d'oeuvres and excessively rich pastries. Certainly we are being well fed. And this afternoon, numerous giant pallets appeared: new wide screen monitors, goes the rumor.

I am trying very hard to stay optimistic and assume (as seems likely) that I will continue on as a Googler. According to the New York Times, "while Google has let go small numbers of workers after some earlier acquisitions, it has never had sizable layoffs." There is no reason to think my position will be redundant.

Still, the uncertainty is difficult. We will know, they say, by April 7.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

[google acquires doubleclick]

It's official.

Update: Okay, so here's the Google press release, and it's a little scary. Key graf:
As with most mergers, there may be reductions in headcount. We expect these to take place in the U.S. and possibly in other regions as well. We know that DoubleClick is built on the strength of its people. For this reason we'll strive to minimize the impact of this process on all of our clients and employees.
Oy. I would like to think that I'm safe, but who knows?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

[lunch and luchadores]

Your intrepid Palaverist has been busy!

Eats, Learns and Scratches

Last Wednesday I attended Discover DoubleClick, a day-long orgy of corporate catering and team-building exercises, occasionally interrupted with bursts of useful information: lots of detail on all the training opportunities available to us (my boss later declared, "What's cool about all that stuff here is that it's actually real," which is different from, say, STV, where we had a tuition reimbursement program we weren't allowed to use), an overview of the business, a history of DoubleClick that included a reference to Mahir (the discovery of viral marketing on the web) and described 2002 simply as "Grown men cry."

But so the food. We arrived to find breakfast burritos in steam trays, and on our tables were piles of mini-candies. Then, at a mere 11:45, we headed downstairs to the Google cafeteria for the monthly DoubleClick lunch they've been letting us have (at which we do not mix with the Google people). The cafeteria lived up to its reputation. It is not the best food I've ever had, but it is by far the best free institutional food I've ever had. There was seared tuna and marinated steak and fried chicken and tacos, not to mention a raw bar, a vegan bar and chipotle chocolate mousse. Then it was back to more Discovering DoubleClick, with the soft pretzels and the cookie trays arriving by 3.

DoubleClick is interested in enhancing not just our skills, but our skillz: after work, we Discoverers were taken out to Scratch DJ Academy, founded by Jam Master Jay, for a one-hour lesson in scratching, which was seriously fun. I now know the baby scratch and the scribble. I asked the head of my department about using the tuition reimbursement for more DJ lessons, but I accept her judgment that perhaps DJing is not entirely applicable to my job as technical writer.

Semi-Ironic Spandex

I am not, it must be admitted, a wrestling aficionado, Mexican or otherwise. But when my friend Leah invited me to her Lucha Libre-themed birthday, I felt this was an occasion not to be missed. And when, after dinner with a friend earlier in the evening, I found myself trying on an absurdly apropos (and reasonably priced) hat/mask at Search & Destroy on St. Mark's, it seemed fate was on the side of my inner luchador.

What I didn't realize was just how serious Leah was about the wrestling. In her tiny apartment near Union Square, she and her friends got into some pretty serious pitched battles (tons of pics here). I didn't join in, but pledged to dress more appropriately for battle next time. (And yes, that is a unicorn behind me in that picture.)

It may not surprise you to learn that a number of these people are Burners, or that I ran into one of them the following night when I went to see a friend perform at the España-Streb Trapeze Academy in Williamsburg.

The performance — an impressive show of aerobatic skill set to a campy nautical theme — was quite impressive, but it gave me the familiar heebee-jeebees I get around the hippie sports (for lack of a better term). I have a hard time putting my finger on what freaks me out about it, but it seems to pull together a number of threads of childhood alienation: my own physical awkwardness, the sense that hippies should but don't embrace me, the feeling that I'm in a subculture that devalues my own particular gifts (verbal acuity, encyclopedic knowledge, trivia, intellectual rigor), the fear that I am going to be chastised over some poorly thought out moral stance I dare to disagree with ("Really? You use anti-bacterial soap?").

I'm glad I stuck around and sat with those fears instead of letting them ruin my night. After the show, my friend invited me out with a number of the performers to a vast German beer hall (I hoisted my stein of die seltzer vasser), and they were really cool people. I had a lovely chat with one woman who is not just an acrobat, but also an opera singer and a former ESL teacher.

Then I took a cab home, which is something I can now actually afford. That too was exciting.

So life is good right now, and I'm doing my best to enjoy what's good in it.

Labels: , , , ,

Previous Posts

[things i'd like to write about but haven't]
[drop the red lantern]
[how not to apply for a job]
[pop is the new alternative]
[what does it all mean?]
[national fears]
[lies, damn lies, and sound effects]
[our pakistan moment?]
[how to fail like an olympian]
[cold winters]


July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
April 2010
January 2011
February 2011
July 2011


New York Buddhist Gcal

Please Donate

[Seva Foundation]
[Médicins Sans Frontieres]


Robin's group blog.

Bits of Bliss
Things to be happy about. Add your own!

Blissfully Emparadoxed
T's personal blog.

Kate's l337 Journal
All you ever wanted to know about lung transplants and Star Wars.

La Roja Viaje
A blog about training ESL teachers in Kuwait.

Blog of journalist Miriam Joyce.

Pagan Mom
The trials and tribulations of raising Josh's Pagan godson.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Polenbergs, ever.

She Changes Everything She Touches
Rebecca's personal blog.