2023 Los Angeles Visit then Backblaze Holiday Party Tri-legged trip.

(12/5/2023 - 12/8/2023)


On December 5th, 2023 Katherine and Brian flew from Austin to Los Angeles for Ki's (기) birthday.  Then Katherine returned to Austin and Brian flew to San Francisco just for the 3 hours of the Backblaze holiday party.  Then Brian flew home to Austin also.

We all flew into Los Angeles on December 5th.  Picture below of Katherine's parent's backyard which is a golf course called Rolling Hills Country Club.


Katherine just chilling in the living room.


There is a putting green inside their master bedroom.


The first night is Ki's birthday, so we went out to "Slay" restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California.


Katherine's Parents Yong (용) on the left and Ki (기) on the right.


On the way home, we veered off to a neighborhood in Torrance that really goes "all out" on Christmas lights.  Here is a Google Map link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/GNvUeUMgrq27e5f27 and the address of the entrance is 23222 Doris Way, Torrance, CA.  Below are three example pictures, but it really goes on for several blocks in every direction.


Xmas lights in Torrance, California.


More Christmas lights in Torrence, California.


The next day we went to Lamppost Pizza in Torrance, California, Katherine's favorite pizza place in the world.  Katherine said it has gone down a little bit in quality.


The inside of Lamppost Pizza.


Other side of Lamppost Pizza.


Back in their Rolling Hills Estates home, some trophies from past golf wins.


Close up of trophies.


More trophies.


There was some debate over flying home made Kimchi, so we decided on the system below.  The issue is Kimchi is SUPER stinky and messy if it leaks, and it's a liquid (kind of) so we checked the bag below.  Kimchi is in a plastic container, then bagged, then the water bottles are frozen overnight and tossed in with the Kimchi into the cooler, then the cooler is taped shut with the packing tape.  It flew very successfully this way from Los Angeles, to San Francisco, then from San Francisco to Austin.  The ice was still partially frozen when I got home to Austin about 20 hours later.


Oh, we ALSO included two bottles of wine inside the above cooler.  These were packed with disposable inflatable wine bottle shipping system seen below called "Monkkino Wine Travel Bags".


Katherine and I went different ways in the LAX airport.  I wanted to see what was inside the "Polaris Lounge", but there is literally no way to buy your way into that lounge, other than buying an international flight business class, LOL.  They told me "no, you cannot come in".


So I went down to the "regular United Lounge" and sat at the bar waiting for my flight.  Just to be clear, all of the champagne below isn't JUST for me, somebody else also ordered some.


Bye bye Los Angeles!  Here I am flying up to the NEXT stage of the trip which was the Backblaze Holiday Party in the San Francisco area.


The Kimchi arrives in the first leg of the test run.  It did not come out "regular" baggage claim, it came out in the United "Odd Size Baggage".  Below is a picture at SFO (San Francisco).


I had an extra hour, so I went to the old office (now shuttered) to say hello to Susan Uzunoglu (our next door neighbor at our old address).  I took this picture of the old front door of the vacated Backblaze office.  The office at 500 Ben Franklin Ct, San Mateo, California lasted Backblaze from when Backblaze moved in on 11/29/2010 through when Backblaze moved entirely out on 12/1/2023.  That's 13 years and 2 days.  You can see some times and dates here.  Now the thing that is amazing here is that Susan's Eurobeauty has been there for 30 years.  She was there before we arrived, she watched it all unfold and evolve for 13 years, and her business is still there after Backblaze left.  And there was a thing going on the whole time with all of our retail neighbors which is that Backblaze was slowly expanding inside the building.  The deal we offered neighboring businesses was we took half their retail space, put up non-structural drywall to separate our businesses, then paid 100% of their rent, give or take.  We also paid their electrical bills and things like garbage collection.  This was a really symbiotic relationship Backblaze had that was extremely friendly with our neighbors.  In return, the neighbors were extremely protective of Backblaze.  But the end result was a SUPER fun Winchestor Mystery House type of maze all hidden inside and behind what appeared to be small retail shops in downtown San Mateo.  And hidden in this sprawling, crazy office layout was an absolutely astounding 200 Gbit/sec networking connection to the outside world.  This was all an accident, but this office represented part of Backblaze's early soul.  It represented "scrappy and practical" and not pretentious about office presentation.  While hitting hard technically with the networking connection that few companies have even in their datacenters.  I loved this office, I enjoyed working there.


So I then went by the new Backblaze office at 201 Baldwin Ave, San Mateo, CA.  It represents the new post-IPO Backblaze, a little more polish, at a higher cost, LOL.


In the front lobby of the Backblaze office is a little museum of previous styled pods.


Then it's off to the Backblaze holiday party!  It was held at Devil's Canyon Brewing, at 935 Washington Street, San Carlos, CA.


Center o the picture below is Mike Farace!  Mike has worked with us across several startups, but most recently Mike is famous for being a Backblaze employee remotely in Ukraine when the Ukraine/Russia conflict broke out.  That's Mike's Ukrainian born wife to his left (right in the photo).  I haven't seen him in a few years at this point, it's good to see him in person.


Random picture of all the HUNDREDS of people in one room at the Backblaze holiday party.  This is just overwhelming to my brain, this $100 million/year company employing 350 people... that started with me, all alone, at a computer in 2007 in my dive one bedroom apartment in Palo Alto.  With nobody else around.  I couldn't have even imagined paying the salaries of all these people, or reaching the 250,000+ hard drives Backblaze has in the datacenter.  And to be clear, that was very largely all built by the people you see.  People half of which I don't even know, LOL.


Well, after attending the party for a few hours I was off, back up to the San Francisco airport to take a flight home.  Now there weren't any direct flights to Austin so I take a direct flight to Houston, then a driver picks me up and drives me to my home in Austin.  Hilariously the same driver picked me up exactly one year earlier after the same holiday party and same flight.  But notice boarding begins just before midnight, and then due to a 3 hour flights and 2 hour timezone difference I end up back home in Austin around 8am.


Here I am back home in Austin, I mostly slept in the airplane and on the car ride, but our dog Ava is really really strange and acts like a cat occupying this cat bed.


That's it!  That's all the pictures.  All done!!


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