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June 9, 2006

A week of shopping, parties and some work

Grunderskolen SF'06

As the story goes, everything is bigger in the United States. Of course this includes both driving distances, the size of stores and the amounts contained in a pack of food. A direct result of this is that shopping takes us a large amount of time, simply due to the fact that the shops take so long to get to and walk through!

Also it appears that the days here in California won't consist of nearly as much relaxation by the pool as it was in Australia. There's something going on literally *all* the time so I barely even have time to blog!

We started out on Sunday morning after my arrival by first trying out the pool and hot-tub in Park Place for a couple of hours. Afterwards Øystein, Arthur, Eivind and me decided to try and locate CostCo, a cheap warehouse-type store selling anything and everything all in one place, and in addition most of it was bigger and badder than anything similar you find in Norway. Flour and sugar were sold in 25kg packs. Chicken-breast filets were a half-kilo a piece and sold in 3kg packs! Vodka comes in 1,75 liter bottles and even ReaLime extract and shampoo bottles hold several liters each. Also most products contain a lot more of sugar or fat than their Norwegian equivalents. This was just one store, but we ended up spending almost 5 hours there before getting back to Park Place to cook ourselves a bolonese dinner. I was still tired from the flight, so afterwards we just had a couple of beers and went to bed quite early.

Since it would be complicated to keep depending on Øystein to drive us everywhere would want to go, the SearchForce interns, namely Marthe, Eivind, Arthur and myself, got him to drive us over to the offices in San Mateo so we could pick up a rental car of our own on Monday morning. When we got there I got somewhat surprised with the offices, that were worn-down cheap start-up style, very much unlike the sleek polished website the company sports! However the management team were really nice and we got a good and thorough introduction to the services that SearchForce offer by sitting in on a phone-meeting with a potential customer. Then we talked a bit about our expectations for this summer, before we went to lunch at a chinese resturant down the street with all the employees.
Heading home, we stopped by Safeway, the local 24/7 grocery store that as usual is about twice the size of the regular ones in Norway. Crazy country :-) But then after we got to go home and had stocked up on beer we had our first Park Place pool party. It was quite good until a rent-a-cop came to shut us down due to complaints around 1a.m. Then it got even better when bikini-clad Ida went out on a limb and tried to use her female charm to have him let us stay... we literally couldn't stop laughing after she attempted the line "Can't we stay just a little longer, I'm so sunburnt an the water helps cool me down....". It was probably the laughing that tipped the guy off as it didn't work and we had to move the party to our apartment until we got another complaint, but I'm sure that the rent-a-cop at least got a good story for his buddies that night :-)

On Tuesday we were all expected to meet up at the Norwegian Consulate in San Francisco, so for most of us this was the first time since we got here that we got to see the main city itself. There we got a brief introduction to american life and business, and what will be happening the rest of our summer, as well as a pizza-lunch and some networking oppourtunities with the people there. Afterwards we did a short round of shopping before heading home, as me and Øystein were going to check out some dive-shops with Armin, a scuba-friend of Øystein from Switzerland that is living here. We first visited a shop just outside of Park Place and then one in the Santa Clara area, just to check some prices on equipment rentals and certification courses for some of the others. Afterwards we drove by the classic Winchester mansion in San Jose and had ice-cream at a local parlour that was absolutely great. We definatly has to go back there again if we can remember the way...

I left most of my shoes at home in Norway and just travelled in my sandals since I needed to get some new ones anyway, so on Wednesday I went out on a shopping spree with Arthur and Carina to Bed - Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority, and lots of other places. I think we bought 8 or 9 pairs in total between the three of us, I think the american life-style is getting under our skin... but we also found a great asian-fast food place where I finally got a taste of my favorite from Australia, fried honey-chicken and rice! YuM! That just made my day :-) And as usual this shopping did take the better part of the day, so it was actually getting quite late before we were getting home.
Then after that Arthur and I joined Øystein at a small get-together with Tom, the CEO of his internship company PeerMe, at his apartment that happens to be in the same apartment complex that we are in. Øystein made salmon-sushi for everyone and we had a great time where we met Martin and a few other PeerMe guys as well. Carina and Jessie also joined us there later the same night, and we got a taste from Tom's freezer full of homegrown beef and burgers from his pasture-farm in Montana. Now thats what I call fresh meat! :-D

Thursday morning we wanted to take advantage of having a car, so we headed over to Stanford University to check out the famous bookshop there and have a look at the campus of a world class Uni, and it truly was awesome! It had lots of parks, fountains and beautiful old buildings located just outside of the very nice town of Palo Alto. This is clearly where I will take the pictures for the article I'm writing freelance for Harstad Tidende to be published during the summer. Later that day we left early to avoid beeing late for the first introductory lecture at John Nesheims class on "High-tech start-ups". We've heard a lot about his unforgiving nature so a few of us Norwegians were quite nervous to finally meet the guy in person, but it turned out that he had called in sick so Christos, a greek teaching assistant also doing the course, was the only one there to give us a quick overview. Quite a relief for some I guess and at least we got to go home early.
Afterwards Øystein and I went to visit Armin at his house in Burlinggame. There we got served Artichokes and Mayo as a starter and then a incredibly good steak dinner, and he gave us lots of travelling tips and advice for both our planned trips to Death Valley, Las Vegas and for scuba diving in Monterey, and he even loaned me a dry-suit for scuba-diving! What a great guy!
Then last night was spent fixing up the contact-list from my old phone and get it imported to my new Nokia N80, a thing that was easier said than done...

And so today was our first proper day at work for SearchForce in San Mateo. We managed to find our way back there and were greeted warmly and got some time to experiment and figure out the systems the are working on. It is actually quite intriguing but naturally I can't tell you much about it here for competetive reasons. Lunch was bought from a deli just outside our offices in the Bay View building and we had some great laughs getting to know the other people working there. Then after getting off I met up with Øystein at the local scuba-shop to pick up some dive-gear as we are heading out to Monteray tomorrow morning.
But tonight some of the guys have booked the common-area at Park Place for a football party, so we'll head out there to BBQ have some beers with the entire gang of norwegians and some of our co-workers as well, and with this I conclude this entry of a week that is probably among the most eventful ones I've experienced! This summer will definitively be awesome!

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