Big Announcement Time

I’m leaving Google and moving to DC to work for the Federal Government.

I’m going to work in the United States Digital Services department, an organization that rose from the ashes of the healthcare.gov debacle. It’s headline mission is “building a more awesome government through technology,” which – yeah, I can get behind that.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing for them yet but, whatever the details are, I’m going to be using my considerable talents to help make our government better. It’s no stretch to say Washington needs that, especially right now. (technically I’m not entirely sure I even have the job yet, I still need to wait and pass a drug test within 30 days of my start date, but I’ve been clean and sober for over 7 years so I’m not too worried about that) [and yes, the government already knows about my history of substance abuse. Hello there, FBI agent doing my background investigation! ::waves::]

Some of you may be asking, as so many have when I’ve told them, “why the fuck would you want to leave Google?” It’s true the perks are amazing, the pay is frankly obscene, and my job in particular has given me the chance to travel all around the world (in style). You will be unsurprised to hear that none of that is true for my government job, but even when I started at Google 4 years ago I knew I didn’t want to stay there forever. It was a chance to build my career, stash some savings, do interesting work, and have some amazing experiences, but I always felt that eventually I wanted to move on to something I, well, cared about more. Something to do good for the world, if that’s not too cliche to say these days.

Just so you know it’s not entirely altruism, I’ve also been pretty frustrated at Google lately – I feel like I’ve hit a point where I can either stay on the project I’ve been leading for two and a half years and keep working with the people I really like, or I can get paid what I deserve and get the title I want, but for political/bureaucracy reasons I can’t do both. (yes, I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about company politics when I’m leaving to work in the government)

Next Friday is my last day at Google. I’ll be around the Bay Area until the end of July-ish, so hmu if you wanna connect before then. I’ll be unemployed, which I imagine will be dreadfully exciting for a few days and then I’ll just be annoyingly bored and tired of packing.

I also intend to start blogging more (a low bar, since my previous post was about 2 years ago) so watch this space to follow my adventures.

So what’s it like to work for Kink.com? – Part 2!

My latest posts have been rather heavy, so here’s another light-hearted look into office life at Kink.com.

In case you missed part 1, go check it out!

First off, my business card! :)

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aaaaand, the back:

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Fancy, no? Although I personally prefer looking at the cards from Naked Sword. No idea why. ;)

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And while we’re talking about graphics, the Armory has a ton of paintings on display throughout. Most of them are of screenshots from our videos – lots of intricate bondage positions or particularly appealing moments. Here’s my absolute favorite:

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Most of them are way (way) more explicit than this. There’s one in particular that caused me to stop and stare for a few minutes the first time I saw it. Anyone want to guess why?

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Here’s why: It is the most detailed painted penis I have ever seen. (and, um, I’ve seen a lot) Let’s look closer:

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I love how the guy’s chest muscles and thighs are broad swathes of soft color gradients, but every single bump and wrinkle on the dick has been lovingly recreated in oil paint. Even the faces aren’t that detailed.

One painting that’s always popular on the tours is one that was originally rather PG. Here’s what the painting looked like before we had it: A perfectly respectable, if rather dull, painting of a gentleman rider.

before

…and after:

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Because I like to end on a SFW note, and to show that it’s not all dicks ‘n whips, here’s a delightful poster that hangs in our customer service department.

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So what’s it like to work for Kink.com?

A lot of my friends and readers have been curious about what my day-to-day office experience is like. Honestly, most of it involves sitting at my desk in front of a computer, but there are parts of it that are rather… unique.

Like all offices, we drink lots of coffee and have an eclectic collection of mugs.

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Unlike most offices, our current space was previously used as a filming location for bondage pornography. Although they tore out a bunch of walls and re-did the paint and floors, they left up the tie points.

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Naturally, Kink’s employees like to put things on the walls around their desks. Being a porn company, things that would normally be considered ‘improper’ are fair game, meaning we get things like this put on the wall:

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We also get cake once a month for birthday reasons. It amuses me to think that somewhere in the Mission a bake shop has a standing order for a once-monthly Kink cake.

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4 days a week we get lunch prepared by our on-staff chef and eat on the upper floor of the Armory. Yes, that Upper Floor. We eat and gossip while sitting around the same tables that this happens on:

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Most of the filming takes place in the basement, but every now and then I’ll be headed towards the bathroom or up to lunch and see one of these:

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Which means “hush! We’re trying to have sex in here.”

The bathrooms are by no means off-limits for shoots either. One day I went to use the toilet, sat down, looked up, and realized there was a videography light semi-permanently mounted directly above the stall.

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Another day I went next door to our main office space to make a phone call, and saw that they had already set up for a shoot later on.

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I was sorely tempted to sit in that chair while I made my call, but I managed to restrain myself.

Like most San Francisco buildings, we have 3 different waste bins everywhere – trash, recycle, and compost. Occasionally I’m not expecting what I see when I walk by a recycle bin.

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Apparently Ultimate Surrender had just re-stocked their dildo supply.

At an every-day level, working for Kink is very similar to working for any other office. It’s just the little things that sneak up every once in a while and remind me what we actually do. For example, I grabbed a spare Cat5 cable from a pile, and found it labeled thus:

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To end on an adorable note, we also have two office cats:

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They’re fat, cuddly, brother-and-sister kitties! The black one is Rudy:

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and the Tabby is Lala:

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They mostly hang out at the front security desk and wait for you to pay attention to them.

Update 9/15/13: This is now a continuing series! Check out part two.

Observations from my first weeks at a porn company

It’s been 3 weeks since I started my new job at Kink.com, and so far I’m extremely happy to be working there. Most of the first blush of “OMG I actually work for a porn company SQUEE” has faded and now I can actually dig in and enjoy the work itself. I’ve found the office environment to be fascinatingly corporate in many aspects  – they have an HR department and standard processes for requesting leave and org charts and facilities requests and all that stuff – but extremely unique in others. Over the past several weeks some things have really smacked me in the face (metaphorically) as stand-out realizations about the life of a porn employee.

NOTE: Many of the links in this post go directly to pages with pornographic content, although this post itself has no inappropriate visuals. It does, however, contain sexually explicit language, which you may feel uncomfortable with if you are underage and/or related to me. Consider yourself warned.

Sometimes you have to be quiet while you’re walking to the bathroom because they’re filming porn next door.

Most of Kink’s filming takes place in the basement or upper floors of the Armory but the arena for Ultimate Surrender is on the first floor close to the main entrance. It also happens to be on the way to the main bathroom on the floor, so every now and then when I’m headed to pee there’s a flashing red light admonishing me to be quiet because people are having sex behind those doors.

Sometimes you’ll meet people who you’ve recently seen in porn.

I was sitting in a meeting about medical flex account benefits, which had rows of chairs and projected slides and everything, and a guy in the back raised his hand and asked a question. I glanced at him briefly by instinct, turned back, then did a huge double take. It was Van Darkholme, director and frequent dom on Bound Gods. Just the night before I had watched him tie up and flog some hot guy’s dick, and now he was in my benefits seminar asking a question about medical expenses. Surreal.

Sometimes you’ll see people in porn who you’ve recently met.

Three days a week we have lunch on the upper floor of the Armory (yes, that Upper Floor) and one day I was sitting & talking with some people from the production department. It was clear from the conversation that one of them was a model who had a shoot going on later that day, but I didn’t get a name. Later that night I was watching a video from Divine Bitches and realized the woman who was torturing some guy’s cock was the same women I’d chatted with over lunch. It was in fact Maitresse Madeline, another of Kink’s directors and regular dommes.

There are a lot fewer dirty jokes than at other companies.

There are far fewer unintentional double entendres when you’re already talking about sex and most things are single entendres anyways. Sex isn’t as funny when you’re supposed to be talking about it. It can happen though – I was talking with some developer friends of mine, one of whom was working furiously to get hardcoregangbang.com ready for release, and the other described the situation as “she’s kind of slammed by hardcore gangbangs right now.” Giggle. :)

It’s hard to get used to watching porn at work.

For the entire first two weeks I would flinch every time I opened up a page with graphic material on it, even though it’s not only not prohibited but required for me to do my job. The instinctual panic moment of ‘oh god close it so my boss doesn’t see’ was really deeply rooted in my instinctual psyche. I imagine it’s similar to what Facebook employees go through when they just start and go from hiding their Facebook use at work to being expected to have it open in a tab all the time.

There really isn’t anything that’s NSFW.

When making hardcore kinky pornography is the point of your company, there isn’t much that’s “not safe” to have on your screen at work.

Porn is really, really, distracting.

The girl I sit next to (who is totally awesome) has the job of uploading Kink’s clips to sites like RedTube. Part of this is her watching all the potential clips and choosing which ones go on which site, which means that porn is playing on her large monitor pretty much constantly. I, whose monitor is usually covered in database diagrams or spreadsheets, often catch myself tilting my head to the left just to think for a minute and 5 minutes later realizing I’ve been zoned out watching the porn on her screen. Whoops.

So yeah, it’s been pretty great. The people who work there are an awesome bunch, and I go to work every day in a giant brick castle. It has its downsides like any other job (my work keeps me at a computer most of the day, the bureaucracy of requesting things is annoying, castles can get really fucking cold) but this one has its own particular perks. And yes, I do get free acces to all of Kink’s considerable online offering of porn. ;)

I’ve got a new job – at a porn company!

I’m thrilled to announce that this Monday I’m starting a new engineering job with Kink.com, a BDSM pornography company based in San Francisco. (don’t click that link if you’re at work!)

I’ve been interested in getting involved with the porn industry for a while, and Kink is, in my opinion, the best porn company out there in terms of their approach to their product and contributions to the community. Their website features a values statement, one that aligns with many of my beliefs. I’m not going to be pulling a Facebook-level salary or eating free Google-quality food for lunch, but I will be contributing to something I believe is the right direction for society, something I’ve found I require in a job more than salary or perks. Also, I do get free porn. ;)

I expect some of you are a little bewildered right now, so I’ve composed a FAQ with answers to common responses I’ve gotten.

Q: I thought you were a feminist. How can you work in an industry that is so harmful to women?

A: It’s my belief that pornography as a concept isn’t harmful to women at all – in fact, it can be a very important part of anyone’s sexual education, development, and enjoyment.

Unfortunately the vast majority of what exists today is absolute crap and has little similarity to any real sexual relationships. (for example, positions in porn are often chosen because they show off the genital coupling to the camera, not because they are pleasurable or even comfortable, and don’t even get me started on unrealistic shaving expectations)

I like Kink because they value authenticity and pleasure in their products. They call the performers ‘models’ instead of ‘actors’ because they’re not acting, it’s all real BDSM scenes. They even host educational classes on bondage and other kinky sex out of the Upper Floor, and safety information is a very important component to these. It’s not real ‘every day’ sex, but it is real, making it a damn site better than, say, Pirates in terms of authentic human sexuality. (to be fair, I own a copy of Pirates – that kind of ridiculous hyper-fantastical production has its own kind of appeal)

I agree that the current state of mainstream pornography isn’t doing anyone, male or female, gay or straight, much good, but I’d like to change that someday. This seemed like a good way to start.

Q: Kink’s videos often feature women getting tied up, whipped, electrocuted and ‘raped.’ Are you really ok with that?

A: On an intellectual level, yes. Human sexuality is a complex and many faceted thing, and as long as whatever you’re into doesn’t hurt anyone else I’m ok with it.

On a personal level rape-fantasies make me very uncomfortable and the thought of nipple torture makes me curl into a ball and clutch my chest in fear. But I can’t handle my coffee without sugar or milk in it either, and I’m not about to denounce someone because they like their coffee black or their sex with a little bit of fake non-consent.

Also, it’s not just women – Kink has plenty of sites where men act as submissives, either in gay male situations or female-dominant situations. Those guys get tied up just as tight and whipped just as hard as their female counterparts, but I have yet to hear anyone express concern on their behalf.

Q: So you don’t think that porn in general (and BDSM porn in particular) encourages violence against women?

A: I think the current state of porn is a symptom, not the problem. A lot of it reinforces the general systemic issue of women being seen as objects for men’s sexual pleasure instead of human beings with sexuality of their own, not to mention the fucked up beauty ‘standards’ that encourage teenage girls to starve themselves and women with perfectly beautiful breasts to get implants.

So does rape-fantasy porn ‘encourage’ rape? Maybe. I’d like to think not, but I’m not that naive. What I do know is that removing all violent porn from the world wouldn’t stop rape, and the motivations behind sexual assault are way more complicated than seeing a video and copying it.

Q: What do you mean when you say BDSM pornography is the right direction for society?

A: I think Kink.com is going in the right direction – a sex-positive porn company that engages its community and promotes acceptance of healthy alternative sexuality instead of peddling its goods as dirty smut to be shamefully enjoyed in secret.

On its own, BDSM porn is a general concept that is inherently neither bad nor good.

Q: Aren’t you worried about this burning bridges or shutting doors in your future career?

A: The glib answer is: I’m a highly skilled developer in San Francisco, I will never be unable to find employment.

The full answer is: Yes, but it’s worth it. I’ve already had to turn down an offer to give the keynote speech at a conference for 8th & 9th grade girls interested in STEM because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so while my active employment is at a porn company. (they were much more understanding about it than I expected, and said they’d love to have me in future years if I was no longer in the porn industry)

I didn’t take this job on a whim and I’m fully aware of the possible repercussions. But this is something I believe in, and it’s worth the possible sacrifice.

(Also, this discussion has mostly focused around heavy moral issues, but another reason I took this job is because the company looks extremely fun to work for. We make porn, for chrissake. I have a feeling I’m going to love my job and the people I work with.)

Q: What about your previous job at Hattery? You seemed so excited about what you were doing there.

A: I was! I wasn’t actively searching for another job when I stumbled across Kink’s posting. I’ve been stalking their job list for almost a year now and when a position I was qualified for appeared I jumped on it. (jeez, innuendo is too easy with this) If Kink hadn’t made me an offer I would have stayed at Hattery.

Coincidentally, Hattery is looking for a new lead engineer! They don’t have the job posting up as of this post, but if you’re an engineer looking for a job you should check them out. If I know you personally, you’re also welcome to hit me up for a recommendation/introduction.

Q: How’d your parents take it?

A: Like champs. My mom and I had some awkward talks about porn and its effects on society, but she understood my position and has always been supportive of me doing things I believe in.

Thanks mum, I love you! :)

Q: Is all this infatuation with pornography and progressive sexuality mumbo jumbo just a front for your incredibly frustrated libido and/or sexual confusion?

A: Probably a little bit. It has been a looong while since I got laid. I’ve been thinking about all this stuff for years though, so if anything my current sex-less state provided the final activation energy to kick me into gear. One could say I’ve been doing a lot of “research” into pornography lately. ;)

Q: Sounds awesome! Can I come by and get a tour of the office/studio?

A: I highly recommend the official tour of the Armory. Their tour guides know all the great stories that go along with the building and can provide much more entertainment than I could.

If you’ve got other questions, I’d love to answer them in the comments or through email!

I have a job! :D

I am extremely happy to announce that I’ve taken a position as a Product Engineer at Hattery Labs! They’re a new startup in SoMa that funds and assists other startups with an aim to make the world a better place and build some pretty cool stuff along the way.

 

BAM, 2 down! Now to find somewhere to live.

      1. Complete MIT degree
      2. Get a job
      3. Find an apartment
      4. Acquire cats (2)
      5. ???
      6. Happiness!

I need a job! Can you help?

I know I’ve been saying forever that I couldn’t take a “real job” after college, that I wanted to start up my own thing, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m just not stable enough for that yet. So, I’m humbly eating those words and asking for your assistance in finding a job.

I’ve posted my Resume and Portfolio online along with a little bit about what I’m looking for.

If you have any suggestions about where I should apply, PLEASE let me know!!! I’m particularly interested in jobs that have a feminist/sex-positive twist to them, but I’m also applying to Google & Adobe so that’s obviously not a requirement.