SH Sean Harding/blog
Raccoon hate
Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I think I qualify as an animal lover. I like cats, dogs, even lots of rodents. But raccoons? Raccoons are my enemy. They may look cute, but they are pure evil.

My first encounter with our neighborhood raccoons happened a couple of years ago. When we bought this house, the back yard was landscaped pretty intricately, including lots of small trees, bushes and flowers. It looked nice, but it was a pain to maintain, and we wanted a small patch of lawn. So we dug up about half of the landscaped area, removed the plants and laid sod. It was a humble plot of grass, but it was ours and we were proud of it.

A couple of nights later, we were in bed and we heard a strange sound in the back yard. We turned on the lights, looked out back, and saw a family of raccoons destroying our sod. They ripped it all off the ground, tore the pieces apart and left us with a muddy mess. Apparently they like to look under sod for grubs to eat. We pieced it back together as well as we could, but it didn’t look the same. They came back again, we tried various things to stop them, but in the end, they won. The lawn was destroyed and instead of a nice landscaped area, we had a patch of mud.

Fast forward to last week. We were sitting in the living room watching TV, and we heard a loud noise in the back. We looked outside, and saw a fat raccoon in the planter on top of the fence around our deck. We had a solar-powered lantern hanging from a hook in one of the corners of the deck, and most of it was gone. Our best guess was that the raccoon had tried to steal it or use it to climb down, the shade fell off, and he bolted. It’s not completely destroyed, but the raccoon left his mark.

Unfortunately, it turns out the lantern wasn’t the only thing he broke. In retrospect, that’s probably not even what we heard crashing to the ground. Yesterday, I was looking out back again and I noticed that our nice terra cotta thermometer was on the deck, broken into dozens of pieces. There’s no amount of glue, hot or otherwise, that can make it the same. So into the garbage it went. I hope the raccoons are satisfied.

Happy Halloween!
Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I hope you’re all having a wonderful Halloween. I’ve had a fun day. One of my favorite things about working at Google is that people really get into holidays, celebrations and even slightly offbeat special occasions. Lots of people dressed up today and we had a great party at lunch. One of the costume contests was “best team costume” and the Webmaster Tools team won! We all dressed up with a theme of “80s pop culture.”

I was a Rubik’s Cube. I came up with the idea on my own, but after I’d decided to build it, I found that several other people have done very similar costumes in the past. Fred Benenson’s appears to be the most famous, but this guy (whose name I can’t find) has a great photo set of his process of building an improved version.

Their instructions were helpful, but I was in a bit of a time crunch — I’d finally figured out my costume idea Monday afternoon, and didn’t get home with the materials until after 7:30 Monday night. Becky and I worked on it until about 1:30 AM. Tuesday night I had improv, so I didn’t get home until 10:30. We finished building the costume a bit after midnight. So I didn’t really have the opportunity to implement some of the more elaborate elements of the other designs, and I didn’t get the chance to correct a few errors I made. But I think it turned out really well. It’s mostly made out of black foam core board, with lots and lots of hot glue holding it together. Hot glue is even better than duct tape.

Amanda was Rainbow Brite — an amazing costume she made herself! Nish was Mr. T. By the way, this photo was taken by the team tiki bar. What a great place to work ;-)

Here’s the whole group of us after winning the contest.

I suppose I can’t end this without mentioning Matt’s LOLCat costume. Truly excellent.

Happy Halloween!

Update: Check out some of the other costumes from the global Google webmaster teams on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog!

Work-related silliness
Friday, October 26th, 2007

I don’t want to break the long stretch of silence on my blog with a post that just links to something else without adding any original content. However, I don’t always get what I want.

So, rather than writing it up on my own, I’m going to link to one of my co-workers’ accounts of a fun outing my team had this week. Enjoy.

The big 5-0-0
Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Wow! Has it really been a year since I started improv? Indeed it has. Tonight my Improv 500 class starts. That’s the last class in the series at Unexpected Productions. Time flies when you’re having fun, huh?

My computer wants me to be fat
Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I’ve been trying to go to the gym regularly. Really, I have. I’m not as good at it as some of my friends, but I’m trying. Despite that, I didn’t make it at all last week (being on-call for work is my excuse — being paged in the middle of a workout sucks). Finally, last night I went. It was a big accomplishment.

I don’t really mind going most of the time, but I hate doing cardio. It’s sooooo boring. Thankfully, I have my iPod to keep me company. That’s the only way I can stay sane while I’m doing cardio. So you’ll understand why I was upset when I climbed onto the elliptical trainer last night, fired up my iPod and discovered that it was completely empty. Not a single song, not one tv show. Nothing. ARGH!!! That was it. I immediately got off the machine, went to the locker room and changed to go home. I’d been defeated.

I’m blaming my work computer for this disaster. I plugged my iPod into it during the day yesterday to charge it, because the battery was really low. iTunes on my work computer doesn’t have any music in it, so obviously I don’t want to sync that library onto my iPod. I’m sure I told it not to sync when I plugged the iPod in. Yet for some reason, it apparently did anyway. The only conclusion I can reach is that my work computer wants to keep me from going to the gym. It wants me to be fat.

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