Saturday, January 21, 2012

Domestic Plant Trek - Week 2, Part 1

Day 9 – Amazon in the morning and a free afternoon
We visited Amazon on MLK day, and, despite it being a holiday things were as busy as ever.  That’s most of what I can say though, since they made us sign a NDA to not talk about it for five years.  You can interpret that how you like.  Amazon has the third largest number of LGO alumni.  That I can say.

One thing that amused me though was, as we were in our bus driving away from their fulfillment center, we passed a large building with a Scholastic books label.  I wonder if they work together or if Amazon is working towards putting Scholastic out of business.  I suppose they need books to sell though, so someone has to print them.

Since we were back at the hotel early, my roommate and I spent the afternoon relaxing, reading and reading through the additional internship descriptions that had been posted.  It was nice.  Since we did not have the light rail passes on Monday, I went with a different group of people to a place called Mi Patio, which was close to the hotel.  The waiter there was very nice, and another of their staff chased me down the sidewalk when they found my camera at our table – amazing!  We had a good time and then ended up sitting in the hotel lounge for a while.  I had a new cribbage opponent to play with, someone showed off a magic trick and we just sat around talking about random stuff.
Muy feliz en Mi Patio
Day 10 – Foodie Excursion and travel
With a 2:30 flight out of Phoenix, our morning was left nicely open.  After a quick breakfast, seven of us went off in search of Pizzeria Bianco, listed as one of the top pizza places in the nation.  Needless to say, we were not disappointed.  We shared three different topping combinations on our pizzas (all ones officially listed on the menu) but my favorite was parmesan, red onion, rosemary and ground Arizona pistachios.  So yummy!  None of these had sauce (hence, Pizzeria Bianco), but they were fantastic.  We all walked out of there very happy and would recommend it to future plant trekers if they end up in Phoenix.  The only downfall of the places is that it’s small.  The whole class just could not go there.  We went right when it opened for lunch on our way to the airport, but I read that there can be quite a wait for dinner.
Pizzeria Bianco - mmm
They grow lettuces and rosemary in small garden patches on either side of the front door
The gang in happy anticipation - we stopped here on our way to the airport
With our visit to Arizona, we’ve now stayed in and visited all four time zones in the US.

After we arrived at our hotel in Austin about five small groups of LGOs all independently went to Stubb’s BBQ, which was about a mile away.  Two other members of summer team seven and I split two large plates (totalling three types porks and a beef and three preparations of vegetables and some potatoes) and were good to go.  Since it was Texas, I ordered a sweet tea.  One of my teammates said a shot of BBQ sauce would do for his drink, but didn’t actually go through with it (this was his idea, not a menu option – they had a full sized ketchup squeeze bottle of BBQ sauce on every table).  After dinner, came back to the room and went to bed since Dell would be early the next morning.

Day 11 – Dell and our last evening in Austin
Honestly, I think I did more reading about Dell before our visit than I had any other company on the trip.  My stereotype to be blunt was that they were cheap ubiquitous computers of average quality that were sold back in the day by ads with that strange guy Carrot Top.  While their factory tour was relatively short and sobering (the facility in Round Rock Texas was the last remaining assembly facility in the US - there used to be five I think), I found their strategy for the future and company environmental stance to be more impressive than I expected.  I had no idea Michael Dell was so driven and accomplished from such a young age and didn’t realize how much industry pioneering work Dell had done as a company.  I did not originally have them on my list of internships to interview for, but asked afterwards if I could add it.  We’ll see if that happens.  The internship is focused more on company strategy and since that was the part of the company that I found most compelling, it seemed like it could be good.

Dell had us sign a three year NDA, but I feel like most of the things I am talking about you could find from Dell’s website, Wikipedia or reading the news, so I think I’m doing ok.  We were able to meet Michael Dell himself near the beginning of our day with them and that was pretty cool.  He is still the youngest CEO ever of a Fortune 500 company – crazy!  One of the employees I spoke with over lunch made the point that there’s something unique about founder run companies.  I hadn’t really thought about that specifically before, but I would imagine it’s true.

After a full day with Dell, I went to Allen's Boots with two other people to check out authentic Texan cowboy gear.  Apparently, cowboys make a good living because I did not see any boots for women less than $200.  They came in all kinds of leathers and stitching patterns and most were handmade (other factors that bumped up the price).  A brand with very soft leathers was Luchese - they had boots with ostrich leathers, crocodile leathers, goat leather and regular leather - all kinds of stuff - and to my pleasant surprise, they ran narrow.  However, the pair that I tried on and liked was $550, so it was not exactly an impulse buy.  I enjoyed trying them on, but made no purchase.  Still fun to see and experience though.
Me wearing the boots :-)
Such a big selection!
The pair in the top picture close up - the toe part is crocodile or alligator or something I think
From there we went to dinner at Hula Hut with a bunch of other people and then headed to Sixth Street – basically everyone we met in Austin, and even in the airport leaving asked us if we had been there. It was a happening place with bars and clubs and bars and lots of music. We even saw one of our group’s taxi drivers playing with his band and they were really good! I also played table top shuffle board for the first time ever at Buffalo Billiards and got a perfect score on my first try. Needless to say it was beginner’s luck, but I still felt very proud of myself.
Happy at Hula Hut
The taxi driver's band in a bar we stopped at
My two winning red discs on the board - together they got me seven points which was enough to win the game before the other team even had a chance - woohoo!

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