Friday, April 26, 2024

A Guest of Google

Google's New Building

I use Google for my e-mail, and Google Chrome is my web browser of choice. I have a Google assistant in each room here in the condo in Toronto, so I guess I am a fan of the company’s products. In fact the program I use to publish these posts is another Google product. 

Now it does help that my son’s partner Ben is a Google Cloud engineer and so we do sort have an inside to the Google world and he keeps us up-to-date on the latest products and programs. 

Today, Ben invited us to come visit the new Google headquarters here in Toronto at 65 King St. They have built a beautiful new 10 story office building right downtown Toronto and it really is a spectacular site.

Welcome to Google!

We arrived at the building and waited in the foyer for Ben to come down and usher us through security and print out visitor passes to give us access to the building. We had to provide government issued identification (Our passports), but then we had complete freedom to explore most interesting areas of the building. 

We started at the Hive Cafe where we stopped for a delicious lunch in a beautiful buffet style restaurant. Google employees can get breakfast and lunch here any time of day, and most work floors have at least a coffee station but many floors have “MicroKitchens” where hard working Google employees can get quick snacks to keep them hydrated and energized going through their busy work days. The Cafe was a comfortable spot, and we saw many Google employees choosing to bring their laptops here to work instead of in a regular workspace. 

The Google Fish Tank

As Ben took us through the building, we saw a music room, a games room, a fitness room, a Makerspace room, and a Wellness centre with massage rooms and rooms to just unwind and relax. 

The decoration in the building is exclectrfc and interesting with a different theme on each floor, so there was always something interesting to see on each floor and a fact sheet we were given discusses the indigenous input into the design and use of unique local materials. 

Welcome to the 7th floor

The company encourages their employees to invite guests to come share their beautiful new building and we saw many other guests being shown around the site and enjoying the facilities Google provides. 

Now if we could only teach our Google assistant to actually recognize Regis when she asks it to do something. I get a nice “Good Morning Art” when I walk into the room in the morning but Regis does not get this treatment.

The MicroKitchen

A Paint-by-number wall

The Google Foyer

Cherry Blossoms Again

On a previous visit to Toronto, when we were simply visitors we went to see the Cherry Blossoms in High Park. This year, when we have moved into the actual “resident” category, we decided to go visit the cherry blossoms again. 

With a very mild winter here in Toronto, there was news that the blossoms were arriving early, so our trip to Nova Scotia in April caused worry that we might miss them. We planned to go the day after we got back to the city and a news story appeared abut a “Cherry Blossom” blizzard caused by high wind, which actually made driving difficult in the area. I was worried that blossoms would all be on the ground in snow drift like piles, but all was good and the blossoms were actually as good as the first time we enjoyed them. So, I am not sure where that “blossom blizzard” was?

Without the time crunch of fitting things into a short trip to Toronto, we were able to go down to High Park on a weekday to avoid the usual crowds the Cherry Blossom festival weekends brings. It was nice to be able to walk the roads and trails with only a few people this year, and the cherry trees were mostly free from parties and crowds, so we could take some nice pictures. An added bonus with the smaller crowds was that the water fowl in the lake were not scared off by the crowds and swans, ducks, Canada geese, and herons were still here posing for their photographs. This year we took a slightly different route through the park and discovered the park zoo as well, so got to see llamas, bison, sheep, highland cattle and a few hundred school children. 

Our second Cherry Blossom day was another pleasant outing here in the city of Toronto. If you are ever in Toronto during Cherry blossom season, I highly recommend a trip to High Park to see the blossoms yourself.