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Searching for Perks

You can't open a newspaper or magazine these days without reading a glowing profile of Google. Fortune says it's not a bad place to work. And I think The New York Times has embedded reporters inside Google's offices.

Here are some of the perks enjoyed by Google employees:

  • Five free WiFi-enabled buses to transport employees to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California
  • Free car washes and oil changes for those who drive
  • $5,000 towards the purchase of a hybrid car
  • Free use of on-site laundry rooms
  • Free detergent
  • Free food, from quail to M&M's
  • Reimbursements of up to $500 in takeout expenses after you have a child

But like I said, these facts and figures are being reported everywhere. So let's use generous Google as a jumping off point to discuss the other end of the perk spectrum. What's the most half-assed, uninspiring perk you've ever been offered?

For me, it was permission to see the dentist. A few jobs ago, a co-worker broke a tooth at lunch. He emailed our department to say he was going to the dentist. Another co-worker replied to all, saying we couldn't just pick up and leave in the middle of the day -- "that's what nights and weekends are for." And if we wanted to "run errands," we had to dip into our vacation time. This person worked nowhere near human resources.

A third email, from HR, said if one of us were to crack a tooth, we could, in fact, leave to get it fixed. We all felt pretty great about our place of work that day.

Can you top that?

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
Original image
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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