The Animal Kingdom – Part 2

I already gave fair warning to avoid playing with wild animals. The cute, “trained” ones in particular.

Did you see the article on MSNBC today? All I could say when I read it was, “Dang! Not Kasatka*, too.”

It is only a matter of time before some poor idiot’s family is on “Larry King Live,” suspended in tearful disbelief, grappling with the reality of a killer whale having actually killed their loved one.

[T]he 30-year-old orca had been performing most of her life and was familiar with the routine…She’s been one of our strongest, most consistent performers…”

Sounds like she’s been setting that fool up for the other routine to me. Don’t sleep.

Kasatka: 1
SeaWorld Trainer: nil

* – One of Shamu’s kin

Snow + Seattle Drivers = Accidents & Crazy Traffic

Blame El Niño, La Niña or global warming but, as it turns out, it really does snow in Seattle despite my observation to the contrary almost a year ago to the day.

This time it’s worse…much worse.

The snow started coming down yesterday, coated the roofs then melted in most areas after 1-3 inches. Today there was sleet followed by a big dose of heavy snow and plummeting temperatures. This confluence of meteorological events combined with the innate inability of Greater Seattle area drivers to command their vehicles during bouts of severe weather — that really isn’t that severe by Midwest and Northeast standards — has created the most incredible traffic log jam I have ever experienced.

I called myself leaving work at 5:42 to arrive home before the roads iced over. I pulled out of the parking garage into a long line of fellow commuters that snaked itself deep into campus roadways. About 30 minutes later I made it about 50 feet to the next parking garage entrance and decided I would save myself the agony of a 0.02 mile-per-hour commute over the 5 miles home. I re-entered the parking garage and returned to my office.

Thankfully, I have my Zune and plenty of work to do. Also, I can follow the play-by-play of tonight’s Seahawks vs. Green Bay game courtesy of Fox Sports online.

Dangit, Green Bay just scored another touchdown :angry: How ’bout them Cowboys!

We Got Our Zunes!

TB and I are the proud owners of new brown Zunes courtesy of Best Buy and their 12% Reward Zone discount coupon. We saved $30 per player and got the hottest color just a week following launch. I think this is pretty good considering how quickly the Zunes (especially the brown ones) have sold out locally. (The brown unit is much nicer in real life and its green double-shot (photo) is cooler than I imagined.)

In addition to a whole heap of patience, this endeavor required a trip to Federal Way (70 miles roundtrip) and a little purchase-online-for-in-store-pickup abuse. However, given the time I have had with my Zune so far and TB’s enjoyment as she tinkered with hers, it all seems well worth it so far.

Stay tuned for more details…

Update: Here is the Best Buy 12% Discount Reward Zone coupon I mentioned earlier. The coupon expires on December 4th. Reward Zone membership is free and the coupon is for in-store purchases only (hence the “abuse” mentioned above). See the Reward Zone site for details.

Zuneless in Seattle

Several people have asked whether I bought a Zune and inquired about my early impressions. I am deeply mortified and burned by the fires of unhallowed shame to inform you all that I am still Zuneless in Seattle, almost 3 full days after the launch, for a variety of reasons.

In no particular order:

  • My employer — that big corporation with deep pockets that is behind the Zune — is lame. Employees aren’t able to purchase a Zune (modestly discounted, by the way) until the week following the launch. Nice way to leverage your best spokespeople and biggest potential fan base there guys! I’m not bitter. I’m not bitter.
  • The pre-order I placed with my favorite online retailer turned out to be a backorder as they lacked inventory to clear it on Tuesday like I expected and as they indicated they would when I placed the order several weeks ago.  Lame. I cancelled the order on Wednesday evening.
  • The local retailers all sold out. This is a good thing. If the device didn’t sell out in our own backyard there would be some ‘splainin’ to do. Sure I could have driven 50 miles and settled for a white one — one retailer I called said they had 2 white Zunes left when I called — but then there’s that whole 8.8% sales tax issue and the last thing I want is a white Zune having owned a white iPod for so many years. I was in all-day training from 9-5 both Tuesday and Wednesday so I wasn’t able to go shopping midday.

I’ll get one of the employee discounted units next week. I’ve waited this long, so what’s another few days?

Regarding my early impressions: I am somewhat dismayed by the sheer amount of HatoradeTM being uncorked this week surrounding the Zune launch on sites like Engadget and C|Net. The vitriol being spewed by reviewers who insist on comparing it to the iPod and commenters who have never actually seen the device is amazing.

Continue reading “Zuneless in Seattle”

Eleven Months on the Job: Travel

I can’t believe it is coming up on a full year already. Where does the time go? Seriously. I went back and skimmed the previous “Months on the Job” posts and it was neat to see, at a glance, what was going at different points in time. Each post sparked a fond memory sort of like flipping through a photo album containing snapshots from my last ten vacations.

I like my job and the people I work with a lot but I wouldn’t consider the last 11 months a vacation by any stretch. While there has been a great deal of work and responsibility, there is one aspect of my new role many might consider “vacation-like”: Business trips and work-related travel.

I have mentioned many of the various conferences and events I have attended since changing jobs in separate posts but there isn’t a single post that captures the quantity and variety of places I have been able to visit for work.

Here they are in order:

  1. Las Vegas, NV (MIX06)
  2. Orlando, FL (DevConnections + Orlando .NET User Group)
  3. San Bernardino, CA (Inland Empire .NET User Group)
  4. Nice, France (DevConnections)
  5. Boston, MA (Tech-Ed)
  6. Auckland, New Zealand (Tech-Ed)
  7. Sydney, Australia (Tech-Ed)
  8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Tech-Ed)
  9. Las Vegas, NV (Adobe MAX)
  10. Barcelona, Spain (Tech-Ed)

In terms of time zones, the farthest destination flying west is Auckland (+13 GMT) which is 21 hours ahead of Seattle (-8 GMT). The farthest flying east would be Paris & Barcelona which are both +1 GMT, or 9 hours ahead of Seattle.

A better measure of the distance traveled is the actual number of flight miles at just over 67,000! Yes, I got to know SFO and ORD very well this year. Both of them did me wrong during trip 9 and trip 10, however.

Lessons learned:

  • Carry-on or leave behind;
  • Avoid ORD like the plague…there is no such thing as good flying weather in Chicago;
  • Fly direct to Vegas from Seattle (i.e., Alaska Airlines not United);
  • Don’t schedule your first presentation on the same day you arrive in Auckland from Seattle.

So, while spending the better part of this past year learning all I could about the world of marketing & product management at Microsoft, I was also able to visit a big slice of our world and learn a wee bit more about its people.

Both worlds have been fascinating: All I had hoped in so many ways; more than I expected in so many more.