I was in San Jose, California for the past week with my new work team and one of the divisions of the company that we work with. 192 people! Unfortunately, this adventure doesn’t make for much of a fascinating blog post, since I took almost no pictures, and I rarely blog much about work here. But let’s see if you can tease a few stories out of me.

I flew down to Whitehorse the night before. The hot dry weather had just caught up with the Yukon and the first forest fires have sparked up. Here’s one of the new ones – called the Illusion Creek fire (2023XY018). It’s 23,000 hectares now and is being left to burn to fulfill its natural role in our northern ecosystem. You can see the plume below the tip of the plane’s wing:

There was a fire close to Whitehorse too, west of the city near the Alaskan highway. There was an evacuation stand-by alert posted during the middle of the night for a section of the highway. I had to get up for a 3am shuttle to the airport to catch the 5am Air Canada flight to Vancouver. It is a bit darker in Whitehorse than up here in Dawson in the middle of the night. This is outside the hotel at 2:45am waiting for the shuttle. You can see some of the smoke in the air.

My flights were pretty easy and stress-free. There was a short delay of about an hour before our plane was permitted to take off for San Francisco due to low clouds in San Fran. So many of my colleagues from the eastern US were facing far longer delays due to storms moving through. Some of them took a day or two before they were able to make it due to all the delays and cancellations!

Here are some random pictures taken from the flight between Vancouver and San Francisco.

Many of us flew into San Francisco, which was more convenient for international flights. Our company had shuttles scheduled to take us to San Jose, about an hour away. Because of all the delays for everyone else, I had a car and driver all to myself! We had a great chat as he drove me to the hotel. Told me all about life in the area. Lots of long commutes but plenty of opportunities to get outside for walks and hikes. He was half Brazilian and half Japanese and new to the area in recent years. He even asked about some tips to get into coding because he had an interest in the Python language, but he was hesitant to give up all his adventures driving people to and fro!

My room in the hotel was huge! Big bathroom, closet, hall table, two beds, enormous tv, and it was very quiet and peaceful. For the few short hours I was in it! Too much to do!

View from my 12th-floor window:

The week quickly turned into an unexpected family-like reunion. I was just invited to this meetup in recent weeks after my team switch. I’ve been brought back to an area of the company I left in 2015 and many of my colleagues from that time are still in similar roles. It was amazing to see everyone! And to meet my new team members in person as I start to dive into the work. Lots of hugs!

Back in 2015, I worked on a small team enforcing our terms of service by taking sites offline that were violating them and working with our lawyers to respond to legal requests. I had a natural instinct for the role, protecting free speech and allowing people to post anything they wanted, short of our very minimal rules. Despite all desires to remove nonsense I don’t personally agree with, that does not suit our company’s mission of democratizing publishing. I left the role only after moving across the country, shifting to another timezone where we already had a great member of the team. Rather than sharing the west coast workload, I went to another team to fill a bigger need at that time.

I’ve been brought back because of the knowledge/experience I have from my first stint, plus now I’m in the developer role. It isn’t easy to find programmers who fundamentally understand this role, so I will be working as part of our Content Safety group that builds tools to detect and block violations automatically (spam, abuse, fraud, child pornography, etc), helping the people in my previous role who are still sitting on the front lines responding to all the abuse complaints across our services and products. In exchange for the experience I bring, the team has promised to help mentor me to grow my development skills. It’s a win-win and I’m super excited to get started!

Every day in San Jose was full of flash talks by coworkers (short 5-minute presentations), guest speakers, strategy meetings with my immediate team, Q&A with the division lead and our CEO, incredible meals, and tons of downtime for meeting new people. It was easily one of the best meetups I’ve had in my 10 years with this company.

I was up until 1-2am every night, and that is even without drinking! Before long it was Friday and I was back at the San Francisco airport to head home.

Once again, I’ve been in San Francisco and I still haven’t seen the Golden Gate Bridge. In San Jose, I only experienced the city within about 3 blocks of the hotel. These trips just aren’t site seeing trips – there is just far too much to talk about and experience while still in the hotel lobby, ballroom, meeting rooms, and restaurant!