I was recently asked about some of the work I did while at Electronic Arts so I started poking around the Internet Archive to see what was stored in there and I came across the site for NBA Street which I produced and my good buddy John Egan designed.
We had a great time putting it together, but we did it under a very tight deadline and with almost no Flash skill between us. 2 white guys (one jewish) and indian-Canadian marketing manager, Otis- the game was built in our Vancouver studi putting together a website for a hip=hop basketball game–crazy. It was a Louis Farrakhan nightmare.
It was fun, but stressful. I kept John at the office late into the night. I’d ply him food to keep him happy. I think a few nights in the final week he spent the night in his cube rather than go home to his SF apartment. This was 2001 in Silicon Valley. Post bubble, but still very heady in some corners of the Valley, like ours.
We never finished the site. the version linked here was completed in the months before September 11th and we were both laid off shortly thereafter. It’s possible John might have left before. I can’t remember. But the site had such great potential, despite it’s lack of technical polish. If I built it today, it would be completely different. Instead of one large movie the user has to load in advance, there would be a movie for each section that loaded on an as needed basis. We would have a preloader that actually worked instead of that ball rolling across the screen which, in fact, does nothing. And we’d build it with an XML backbone so it would be easy to update. Regardless of that, it’s still a fun site.
Yesterday I received a $500 award for excellence at work. It’s the second one I’ve received in the last 2 months. It feels pretty good to be recognized, even better to get 500 bucks for doing nothing more than what I consider to be my job. The first award came in the form of AMEX gift checks. I got 5 checks for a 100 bucks each. For the one yesterday, i got an AMEX gift card. It came with all this literature and instructions on how to check your balance online and all this stuff. I was curious to see how it worked, so I went online to check the balance only to discover that the balance was not $500 bucks, but $494.05. Odd, huh?
When I was reading through the literature that came with the card, I saw it listed all these fees. There’s a 2 dollar a month maintenance fee (waived for the first 12 months) and a $5.95 fee for a lost or stolen card. $5.95. Interesting. That’s the exact amount missing from my card. Sure enough I checked the account history and back in October there was a charge for $5.95 for a lost or stolen card. This card had history that went back to June. Very strange. It’s almost as if it was purchased for someone else, never given out for some reason, and then I become the lucky recipient, but only after it was lost or stolen.
Now the conundrum comes from what to do. Should I say something to the person who it gave to me? We short of have a funny relationship as it is and I thought it was weird that I got the award from her in the first place. Do I tell her what happened? Do I make a joke of it? Hey, you didn’t buy lunch with the card before you gave it to me, did you? Or do I do nothing and just take my $494.05 and spend it frivolously? What would you do?
I’m headed to Europe for work for almost the entire month of June. I’m leaving June 2nd. Spending the weekend in London. Working a few days in Oxford. Heading over to Paris to meet with some colleagues. Flying to Basel to talk to some IT folks. Back to London for a web design conference. Flying from there to Barcelona for a tech meeting. Then up to Madrid to meet with a customer with my former counterpart. It’s an insane schedule, and I don’t know how I’m going to pack for it, but it should be incredibly productive and, well, fun. Just for good measure, I’ll take a week of vacation at the end. Somehow I need to get from Madrid to Amsterdam. I think I’ll manage.
(The biggest mystery of the whole trip is just how many of the precious things that I leave behind in my place that my cats will piss on in my absence).
Today is that day that my company has been officially swallowed up by a huge Swiss pharmacuetcal company. Lots of changes are afoot. Many people at the corporate level will be made “redundant”. One of our divisions is being absorbed into the mother company. The other two, including mine, are being merged into one business unit. It should be interesting to see what happens. Whatever does happen, today is a day of celebration for many folks as the 4 year cycle of stock vesting has been accelerated into 1 day (today). Anyone with viable stock options will be cashed out as if they waited and worked for the company for four years. A nice benefit of the merger, and totally necessary since our stock ceased to exist as of this morning’s open.
I’ll keep you posted if there are any major changes to me personally, but I doubt anything will change, at least until the end of the year, but you never know.
I spent the last 4 days in Calistoga at the northernmost tip of Napa Valley for a work “offsite”. We there to do work and I had to give a 45 minute presentation to the group, so I actually did work, but it was also a lot of fun.
We stayed at the plush Indian Springs Resort & Spa. I arrived on Tuesday night and went straight for the pool . We met for dinner on the main drag of Calistoga at the Flat Iron Grill, it was first of many great meals. It was also my first opportunity to try Clos Pegase Pinot Noir, which is as perfect a wine as I have ever tasted (not that I have much experience).
The entire next day was devoted to work. Breakfast and lunch were catered by local places. Then we went to Greystone at the CIA for dinner. Absolutely spectacular. Possibly the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. Dinner starts with what they call “Temptations” a selection of tasty nibble-sized appetizers that changes nightly. We had butternut squash soup in a thimble. Hummus with baked lavash, duck pate on a cruton. Very chi-chi. Vert delicious, Very tiny. I had something called Lobster Mariposa as an appetizer. It was a little bit of lobster meat topping a piece of magno cut out in the shape of a butterfly. Odd combination? Perhaps. But it looked great. Tasted even better.
The main course was lamb with roasted potatoes. We drank a Savignon Blanc, which I didn’t really look at and Flowers Pinot Noir, which was sublime (and around 90 bucks a bottle). Desert was out of control. Not only did I have Bananas Foster with vanilla bean ice cream, but we didn’t realize at our end of the table that the president of our division, who was dining with us, had ordered 6 massive chocolate souffles. I felt disgusting afterwards, I was so full, but it was a good full, a really good full, probably a 200-300 dollar full. A rare full.
What do you do after a dinner like this? What else? You go hang out in the pool (did I mention it was heated to 101 by natural thermal geysers?).
The second work day was short. We had presentations til noon. Then we all got on bikes and took a tour of 3 wineries in Calistoga in the afternoon. First we went to Bennett Lane where we had our first tasting. The wine was just ok, but the catered lunch (smoked salmon, tons of cheese, pesto tortellini salad, etc.), was first rate. On the bikes again and off to Calistoga Cellars. Again, the wines were not so hot, but they did have a wicked cabernet port that we drank down with squares of bittersweet chocolate. Yum. Just to explain quickly, we have some people in our group that are really into wine (not me) and when we go out to eat, we always have great wines, so the standard is damn high and after the previous two night’s dinners it was hard to top the wines we had. Done with Calistoga Cellars, we headed south to the incomparable Clos Pegase (pictured above).
Not only is this place beautiful, filled with incredible works of art, but their wine in nonpareil, at least to anything I’ve ever had. I even liked their Chardonnay and I hardly drink white wine at all. The chard had everything I like about white wine but so rarely find. It started off crisp and finished with the most most subtle oaky, buttery flavors. Everything I tasted there was delicious. Cabs. The Pinot. The Claret. But the best was the port.
Normally they don’t offer the port for tasting, but we were a big group and it wasn’t too hard to convince the guy to open a bottle for us. And it didn’t hurt that we bought several bottles of the port and the chardonnay and the pinot. It’s just so great. I can’t really describe other than to say the perfect combination of savory sweetness.
After we cycled back to Indian Springs for a spa treatment. Not a bad way to spend someone else’s money.
Amazingly today marks my one year anniversary at Chiron. Seems like I just started there. Time flies when you’re making money, I guess.
I’m off the Philadelphia for a week of lovely SAP portal training followed by a weekend in DC visiting my brother. Hard to believe but this will be the first time I’ve been on a plane in almost two years (United direct to Phily – first class). I’ve been around, but all my travels have been on the ground. Arizona to Southern California and back. Arizona to Vail, CO. Vail to Northern California. Northern California to Southern California a few times. Alameda to South Lake Tahoe about 20 times. Lots of driving. No flying at all.
I’m looking forward to it. For one thing I desparetely need this training. We’re running the web site that I’m producing on it, and I really don’t know the first thing about the manage the damn thing. Plus I’ve never been to Philadelphia and I while I don’t think I would ever voluntarily agree to visit during the middle of the summer, I’ll take it because it’s on the company’s dime (and I’m flying first class on the way there – coach, sadly on the way back from DC).
I don’t know what my access to the Internet will be, but I should be able to post some pics here and there and maybe even catch on my lazy blogging. Time to pack. See ya.
I signed the papers today and on Monday, I return my status as a full- time slave to the corporate machine. Ironically, I’m making the make exact same salary I was at the time I left Electronic Arts in 2001. It’s almost like the last four years never happened…
I got an email this morning from a recruiter looking for an interactive producer for some company in Connecticut. What would it take for me to accept a job in CT? I don’t think there’s an offer in the world that would make me move there. They’d have to double my salary and give me 5 weeks of vacation to start for me to even think about it. I mean, shit, who really wants to live in Connecticut? Martha Stewart?
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