A roller coaster of a week

This has been a week of ups and downs.

The week started off in a downhill slide.  As many of you know, Microsoft laid off around 3,000 of my coworkers this week.  Fortunately, I wasn’t one of them, but I have a great deal of good friends who were affected by this second round of layoffs.  I won’t say too much about it here, but Tuesday really sucked.

On the brighter side, I got some new toys this week.  I took advantage of an REI sale on Shimano shoes and bought some clipless pedals for the bike.  Today, it’s beautiful out and Diann’s out volunteering, so I hit the road with the bike.  Definitely one of my best bike rides to date: went 20.6 miles, from home to the Red Hook brewery (no beer stop this time) and back home, in just over 1.5 hours.  That gives me a 12mph average, which is great considering the route home was mostly uphill.  Here’s an elevation graph of the ride from home to work, and you’ll see what I mean (click to embiggen):

image

Now it’s off to get cleaned up, go get a haircut, and then drinks with a friend who’s in town for the first time in months.

Then, later on, the night looks promising for some stargazing.  That brings me to the other set of toys I got this week: a new mount for the telescope.  90 pounds of new mount.  It’s crazy.  Tonight’s not ideal for stargazing (pesky full moon), but I’m going anyway just so I can get familiar with the new gear.

New Toys at Work!

I won a Call of Duty: World at War tournament yesterday at work that was sponsored by the Microsoft Hardware folks. Yes, we had a CoD tournament at work.  They were demoing all their new Sidewinder products and how they actually played, and I took home a large black box.  Here’s the unboxing video:

Pretty sweet stuff. I setup the keyboard and mouse today and liked them quite a bit.  Even for a productivity setup, the stuff was pretty slick.  I need to see about upgrading to the new Sidewinder X8 mouse, though.. I could use the wireless. :)  The winning feature is the backlighting on the keyboard – a bunch of my coworkers want to buy them now.  I’ll post a video of that tomorrow!

I also hear rumors that there’s a post-victory interview video of me… hopefully my coworkers don’t get their hands on that; I’ll never hear the end of it if so.

San Francisco for a Day

imageHad to run to San Francisco for a one-day work trip this week.  Luckily, my work wrapped up a bit early and I was able to go act like a tourist for a bit.  Took a drive up to the Golden Gate Bridge, drove and hiked around the Marin Headlands, and had dinner with some friends.  SF is a really beautiful and photogenic city.  Pics are online at my Flickr gallery here.

Amsterdam

image The last three days (including today) I’ve been in Amsterdam on business.  Very cool city – I wasn’t looking forward to this leg of my trip, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to come here.  More pictures from the trip can be found here.

While in town, I visited the Van Gogh Museum (neat), the Rijksmuseum (meh, old art), Anne Frank House (wow, talk about sobering), and just generally milled about the city.  Weather was great during my time here, and I walked about 25km (9km on day 1 and 16km on day 2).

While in town, I visited the Global Switch datacenter near the airport.  The most interesting thing about this facility is that it used to be an IBM Selectric Typewriter facility.  It’s peculiar that as the typewriter aspects of the building went by the wayside, some enterprising individual converted the building to a datacenter.  As one of my colleagues put it, “the computer replaced the typewriter not only on the desktop but also in the factory.”

AAL75, Seat 30F, 34,000 feet and bumpy

Well, I’m finally giving in to writing an offline blog post.  From a plane.  At the time of this writing, I’m somewhere over the eastern seaboard.

I’ve spent the last few days in the DC area on business, and got to meet up with a few good friends for food/drinks.  Karl sent me an IM on Friday just before I left to let me know that he had gotten a new job and had moved to DC, and to let me know if I ever made my way out there.  This was great timing, as I was able to respond: “How about drinks on Sunday?”  I don’t think he expected that.  Also got to hang out with Ben for dinner and Dan for drinks on Monday night.

The work I was doing took a lot longer than I anticipated.  I had hoped to visit the Smithsonian one of the days I was out here, but, alas, it was all work, all the time.  As a result of our longer than planned workday today, I wasn’t able to catch an earlier flight back to Seattle.

We were supposed to leave Dulles at 6:15pm, and then I was to have a 2 hour layover in LAX before heading home to Seattle.  Mother Nature had other plans:  just after we boarded the flight (15 minutes late, natch), the captain came on and told us that all westbound flights were on-hold due to weather.  I checked my smartphone, and sure enough, a line of red thunderstorms was just west of our location.  Then, I looked out the window and saw them.  Sign #1 you might be addicted to tech: you check the weather on your phone before looking out the window to see it.

We sat on the ground in the plane until about 8:30pm.  If you’re following along and doing the math, you’ll note that’s a 2.25 hour delay – and I only had a 2 hour layover in LAX.  This means, of course, that I’m going to miss my connecting flight, so I’ll be stuck in LA for the night.  The weirdest thing is that this is the first time I’ve ever missed a flight in all my travels.  And to be frank, I’d say I’ve traveled quite a bit over the course of my 29 years.  Sure, I’ve gotten bumped on standby plenty of times – but never missed a connection.  Until today. Oh well, it’s a first.

So, we’re now cruising along somewhere around mach 0.82 (we’re probably going at just the right speed that’ll make me miss my connection) at 34,000 feet.  It’s turbulent, and I’m surrounded by an army of high-school kids on their way back from a class trip to the east coast.  I’m also cranky: I haven’t eaten since lunch, and that was (*checks watch, calculates time zones*) … 10 hours ago.  The flight attendants are coming by soon, though, so I’ll be sure and snag a $6 turkey sandwich.  Did I mention that American Airlines doesn’t even serve peanuts anymore?  I remember laughing at Southwest Airlines a few years back cause that was all they served.  Times have changed. 

Ok, turkey sandwiches were sold out, so I ended up with the last sandwich on the plane – a $10 chicken sandwich.  The lady in seat 30C is now scowling at me; I guess she wanted a sandwich, and now she’s stuck with potato chips, cheese, and crackers.  I avoided the temptation of staring at her and chewing with my mouth open to make a point: the last sandwich is mine. 

The nicest thing about our flight so far is that we’re chasing the sunset.  I’m sitting on the right side of the plane, so I’m being shown a beautiful display: for the past hour, I’ve been watching the sun set.  It’s dropped a bit, but I can still just see it.  That in and of itself isn’t so neat, but the fact that the duration of the sunset (due to our westward travel, of course) has been so long is awesome. 

Two hours into the flight now, and the sun has set.

Well, I think that’s it for now.  It’ll be nice to get back on the ground in Seattle sometime tomorrow, and I’m not going to complain about the cold/damp weather Seattle’s having for quite a while.  If I’ve learned one thing on this trip, it’s that I’m no longer built for 100+ temperatures.

Guess I’m going to power down since I’ve got nothing else to do on here.  I’ve replied to a bunch of emails (which will send when I connect), reviewed some documentation I have been meaning to review, and that’s about the end of it.  I’m now mad at myself for not prefetching RSS feeds in FeedDemon.

Oh well, nap time.  3 hours of flight time left.

The morning at work…

Fire truck

Yep, that’s a fire truck.  Bunch of co-workers standing to the left milling around aimlessly due to a (false) fire alarm that meant for evacuations.

Pretty impressive response: City of Redmond rolled what I counted as 4 units, and the City of Kirkland rolled 1 as well. 

This isn’t normally what people mean when they say they’re dealing with fire drills at the office, though. 🙂

Am I nuts?

I guess the answer to that is, “it depends”.  And, it depends a lot on who you ask.

If you ask my new office-mate, the answer is likely yes.  You see, a new person joined our group at work about 3 weeks ago, and due to an office space crunch, I’m sharing an office with him. Today, as he was wearing his headphone, I decided to crank up some music and get some work done.

I plugged in my headphone and proceeded to crank up the music.  About 20 minutes later, he tapped me on my shoulder to ask me a question.  As I pulled the headphones out of my ears, I noticed the music was still going … loud. 

Yep, when you plug headphones into a Lenovo T61p laptop, it doesn’t kill the audio going to the external speakers from the docking station.  So, for the last 20 minutes, I’ve been listening to headphones, and apparently everyone within about 20 feet of my office has been listening to my speakers.  Epic fail.