The last two days definitely count among the craziest I've ever had. I was down in California for my interview with Apple and I managed to squeeze in a tour of Pixar, dinner/hanging with Mike, and a complete trip around the San Francisco Bay in addition to a day of interviews. And I wan't even in the state for 30 hours!
I had to get up at 5am on Wednesday to catch a shuttle at 6am from the University to the airport in Toronto. From there it was on to San Jose with a very brief stopover in Phoenix. Pretty cool to see all the landscapes and stuff as we crossed the continent (although I didn't get a window seat so I didn't have that great of a view). The thing that struck me the most is how flat everything is. I guess they didn't have glaciers carve the countryside into thousands of small hills and valleys like around here.
The flight back (which left at 8:30pm on Thursday) had a two hour stopover in Las Vegas and I must say that was an interesting experience. First of all, flying into Las Vegas at night is a really neat. The strip looks really cool and there are soooo many lights. Other than that though, the experience was mostly strange. The airport was full of slot machines (never saw anyone get any payout whatsoever) and had a whole bunch of designated smoking areas which wern't really separated from the rest of the airport at all. Just places with chairs and ashtrays. Very uncool. Also very old-school, I remember way back in the day when most public places were like that but I haven't seen it in a long time. My plane was delayed in Las Vegas, but not enough to make me miss my shuttle back to Waterloo in Toronto. My plane trip can be seen in the image below (green on the way there and red on the way back).
So I arrived at San Jose just before 3pm local time and instead of checking into my hotel, I decided the best idea would be to go visit Mike. It turned out OK, but I cut it pretty close getting back. I'm pretty sure midnight was the latest I could check in to my hotel and I finally got there at 11:30pm. Crazy.
Anyway, Mike and Pixar (Emeryville) are kinda far from San Jose. I had to take an Amtrak train (in red below) from San Jose to Emeryville which took about 1.5 hours. Pretty cheap though, just $11. Ended up chatting with a random girl the whole way, but I think she was kinda crazy. She told some pretty unbelievable stories (more and more as we went). Pretty sure she was trying to see how far she could go before I called her on it and told her she was a nut. Well, I didn't break so I won the little game!
To get back from Emeryville to Cupertino (where Apple and my hotel are), I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit system) which is basically just a subway, part of which actually goes under the bay (in blue below). Maybe I'm wrong, but an underwater subway seems like a bad idea in an earthquake prone region. Anyway, the BART stops at the San Francisco airport so I had to transfer to a commuter train (like Toronto's GO train; in red below). Unfortunately I arrived like an hour early for the 10:24pm train which meant I had to wait around for an hour in an essentially abandoned train station. In the dark, alone, in some random ass place in California. It turned out OK, but seemed a bit sketchy at the time. The train only took me as far as Sunnyvale, so from there it was a cab ride (yellow below) to the hotel. This map shows my trip around the bay.
So that is all the travelling I did, but I actually did a lot of fun stuff too. Mike took me on a tour of Pixar, which was absolutely insane! It was just so cool to be there, it must be amazing to work there. I got a cool Pixar t-shirt with Luxo Jr. on it and I got to meet a lot of really nice people. Here are a couple of pictures of the Pixar front gates (they are taken at night, so they arn't the best, but still pretty cool).
After the tour we got some supper at a pretty good Indian restaurant and then headed back to Mike's apartment. It was really nice, but I couldn't stick around too long as I had to catch the BART to attempt to get back to the hotel. We did mess around with his mom's new digital SLR though, here is a picture.
The hotel was really good. I actually had a suite with a bedroom, bathroom and living room. King bed in the bedroom, two TVs, and they even gave me a free shuttle to the airport the next day after I had checked out. Here are a couple pictures of the suite:
The next day was the interviews at Apple (you know, the point/funding source of the trip). Eight in total, it basically lasted all day. It was pretty challenging, but the team seems really awesome and I think it would be a really cool place to work. Actually I know it would. The only question is whether I want to live in the US or not (and whether they like me, of course). I think I performed OK, but I missed a couple questions I should have got and I have no idea what my competition is like.
After the interview I got on my plane and headed home. In the last 48 hours I've only had 6 hours of sleep and I've changed time zones twice. I'm pretty confused about what I should do right now, so I did this blog entry. Probably going to sleep/eat now.