Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Plants make the house better

Last night I went to Home Depot and Whole Foods looking for some good herbs. I had really only intended to get mint so I could make tea that doesn't have caffeine or theobromine, and I wound up getting an asparagus fern, an air plant, a strawberry plant, and a blueberry plant (in addition to mint, thyme, and oregano). The living room looks much better. I need to get home before dark one day soon so I can put the berries and herbs into the larger containers I got for them.

Bah, getting home before dark is overrated... at least when your office has a window :-)

(Before long, I will get some pictures out my office window... be patient.)

I've also made some progress getting my kitchen set up. A lot of my stuff is still sitting on Connie's patio in Tucson, but at least I have my teapots, and my hot water dispenser just got here this morning :-)

I also got a spiffy canopy bed. Huzzah for craigslist!

I still really love the feather comforter. It's just the coziest thing ever.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Making good use of those computer science skills

A few minutes ago, I wanted to find a replacement ATM card I'd gotten in the mail before leaving Tucson, and since I was in a hurry then, had just stuffed in a ziplock bag with a bunch of other mail that needed some further action. I could have looked through all the envelopes, but that would have taken a while (this was a pretty big pile of mail - over a month's worth), and I have noted before that one can find a card in an envelope by bending it. So, I did a binary search on the mail - I pulled out half the pile and bent it (and it was stiff, so I kept looking in that half). In about 4 or 5 bends, I'd found my card.

What's the moral of this story? Years of expensive education can save you a few minutes sorting your mail, which you can then use to write a blog post about how clever you are.

What the bored mind won't come up with

Today, I was watching this security training video, and so my mind strayed to any distraction it could find. At some point, I had a line of thought that went something like this:

Man, I wonder if anybody's tried to steal Bill Gates' identity. That seems really stupid. I mean, the guy's not only well known, he must have a big pack of attack lawyers... with bees in their mouths, who shoot bees at you when they bark!

Ten points if you know what this is a reference to. If you don't, it probably seems pretty damn weird. And if you do, it may still seem pretty damn weird.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Day 3: We're Famous!

Okay, not like Microsoft doesn't get in the press every day, but it's cool to see the product I'm going to be working on in a movie. Today, my team (whole big group, probably 80 people) went to see "Firewall" - not a fantastic film, but toward the end, live tracking on Virtual Earth showed up. We cheered :-)

Another thing to note about this - the theater was reserved just for our group. We got in free, and all the consessions stuff was free. Google brags about doing stuff like this, but Microsoft does it too. I'm getting more and more upset about how the media distorts things. Sure, Google has an almost unnatural level of idealism (which I did love), but the people I've met at Microsoft are also passionate about innovation in the field and delivering something good to the user. And they treat their employees very well. The difference is not as big as the media likes to make out.

Other than that, I did more setup and talked to more people. Good stuff. I think I'm going to like it here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Second Day: Drink The Koolaid

When I think of what I did today, I'm really surprised it was all the same day. The morning consisted of more spiels, and not so interesting as yesterday, since it was a bunch of legal stuff (although the antitrust guy giving the presentation had some entertaining moments). Then, I got my badge (so I felt all official). After lunch, I went to another presentation about some internal tools, and I think that was the first time I was really excited about being here... "oooo, toys!" Maybe this is part of the tech company experience, getting to use the cool internal tools.

After that, I found my way over to my new home, building 119, where I drove around for quite some time before finding parking on the dungeon level (the second below-ground level). After walking around for quite some time and finding nobody in, I finally found everybody, which allowed me to do little things like find out what my login is.

One of the main things I was looking forward to here was a quiet office. Not only does my office have a window (looking onto containers, but never mind that - it's a window!), there's no one else in there! At least til somebody else moves in, I have my own office... this is great :-)

I was also helped for several hours in setting up by a very nice lady assigned to be my mentor, who also really sold me on joining her team, which I will likely wind up doing, but I am going to talk to more people first, since I'm not under terrible time pressure right now. Since getting out of orientation, I've enjoyed myself immensely and began to be really happy about being here. Horray for the second day! I guess the sky has been created by now. And I could see it out my spiffy window :-)

BTW, it was the tools presenter who said "Drink the Koolaid." I guess it doesn't have that much to do with the post. I just thought it was entertaining.

Monday, February 20, 2006

First Day At Work

Today was my first day at Microsoft. As expected, I filled out forms and proved who I was, but much less than I expected. I also heard spiels about benefits and security, but no more than I expected. What we did that I wasn't picturing was talk about corporate culture. I guess that makes a lot of sense, and I was surprised how willing they were to talk about the negative aspects of the company and its image. It's a really good idea: tell the new people what's wrong so they can fix it, without being ingrained in the existing culture. So I give them a lot of credit for that.

As to the general tone of the day, I enjoyed it. The facilitator was a really good speaker: very entertaining and effective at getting his point across. We had a lot of 'talk in groups' things, which was fine with me since there were plenty of interesting people. At the end of the day we went to the company store and visitor center, which had a lot of cool toys in it.

So, what do I think of working for Microsoft, now that it's going to be my daily reality? Well, I still have mixed feelings about it. I'm not sure how much I'm willing to have "Microsoftie" as part of my identity, not just something I do 9 to 5 (or 7, or 10...). But we'll see how it progresses. I'll probably feel better about it when I get my first paycheck. Goodbye, soul. It was good having you.

More Thoughts About Freeways

After miles of traffic lights every few feet, I finally made it to I-90. As I got on the entrance ramp I thought, "Ah freeway! I feel so free! Oh, wait, that's just because I'm not wearing a bra." (The odd thing was, I actually was wearing a bra.)

I debated posting this, but decided it was too funny not too. Please, somebody, vindicate me.

More Tales From The Cold


Saturday, I stopped at a Chevron to buy gas. I went to clean my windows like I always do, and the handle of the washer wouldn't move. The cleaning fluid was frozen. I tried another one that was sitting in the sun. Also frozen. Oh well, nevermind.

The Reinvention of Ice Sports

Yesterday, I went out to poke the ice, since I'm still completely fascinated with it. I grabbed a stick from under some bushes and started poking. A piece broke off, and I knocked it on top of the main frozen part. It slid like magic. Right then and there, had it not already been done, I would have invented ice hockey. Although I guess the puck made of ice wouldn't be so good, unless you wanted to make rules for changing from one big puck to a bunch of little pucks.

Seeing Your Breath

Today on the way to work (first day! more on this later), I saw a woman walking her dog. I could see the dog's breath. I wonder if the dog thought it was cool too.


Now, for any of you thinking that 21 isn't that cold, let me say that it's always relative. You folks in Maine and Alaska and Greenland may be making fun of me when I think that's cold, and my friends in Hawaii wonder how I survive the terrible freeze outdoors. I could make fun of you cold-climate people when you go to Tucson in July and are melting in the 100+ degree heat. I stopped giving people a hard time about temperature, since I've gone from being completely at home in extreme heat and humidity to finding it hardly tolerable. It's really completely a matter of what you're used to.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Yup, it's offcially cold

Tucson had four temperatures: Cold, Hot, Really Hot, and Bloody Freakin' Hot. Seattle also appears to have four (I'm only speculating about summer): Hot, Cold, Really Cold, and Bloody Freakin' Cold. Yesterday was the last of these. It got down to 21 at night, according to (my thermometer said it only got to 30.4, but I found the sensor was sitting right next to the outside of the sliding glass door, so that doesn't really count).

I wish I'd gotten a shot of the duck skittering across the ice. It was really cute, and kinda sad.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Many Firsts

I'm realizing just how many firsts I'm having here in this first week in Seattle. For instance, today I bought that special kind of detergent for dishwashers for the first time, because this is the first dishwasher I've had. I also bought firewood for the first time. And lit a fire in a fireplace for the first time. (I hadn't realized how hard it is to get it going - or maybe I was just doing something wrong. But after a while, it sort of worked, and I sat in front of it (on the floor, since I still have nothing to sit on but my yoga ball) and ate my reheated Zach's pizza.) And yesterday, I saw frost on groundcover plants... just sitting there, not melting. (So when I say it's freezing outside, I don't just mean it in the whiny figurative way - I mean that water, when left outside, becomes solid.)

So, there are all these little firsts on top of big ones, like not being in school, living this far north, having a nice place to live with a lot of space, and the big one - having a real job.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Things that made me happy today

Things that made me happy today (in no particular order):
  • Finding Shredded Oats at Trader Joe's, even though I didn't think they carried them
  • The Fruit Hammoch (it shall inspire me to work on my Cat's Cradle Hammoch)
  • Frost on the little plants by the bank - so it wasn't just me, it really was cold!
  • Falling asleep with moonlight on my face, and waking up with sunlight coming in near my head
  • Beautiful Italian music playing on my speakers, now that I have a place to set them up - and the sound carries through the apartment wonderfully :-)
  • Bouncy techno on same system :-)
  • Talking to the financial advisor at First Tech
  • Seeing the sun setting through the redwoods
  • Alpenglow on snowcovered mountains in the distance
  • Chatting with the pink-haired checker at the Bed Bath & Beyond
  • The other lady at BB&B who's going to have beech towels brought in for me from the east coast
  • My apartment!
[actually posted Thurs 2006-02-16 11AM, since internet connection is iffy]

First night in my own place

Tonight, I'm staying in my apartment for the first time. I moved some of my stuff in on Monday, but I lacked a few essential things (like sheets and pillows), so I stayed at Amanda's one more night (thanks Amanda!). But I borrowed a few things from Shauna and patched the hole in my air mattress, so I think I should be okay here, at least for a while. And it occurs to me that this will be the first time I've slept in my own place since December 19, almost 2 months ago. Dang, no wonder I was getting antsy feeling like I was bumming off people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ooooh, stars

I was going to go to bed, but I just had to put this up:

Orion &co., from my uncle's yard in TX, not long after sunset. I guess the line running from the upper right to about the middle is a satellite.

In the Redwoods

I decided that rather than trying to tackle all my pictures at once (like the 1283 on my camera now - filled up the memory card), I'd just do a few of the most recent ones, and get to the older ones when I can. So, here are the pics of my new apartment.

It's a 1124 sq. ft., 2 br/1.5 ba, town-house style condo (renting, not buying), with a full wall of south-facing windows looking onto a lake that has swans, and the complex is full of redwoods.

It hath much awesomeness.

And costs the leg of my soul.

(Okay, it was only about 100/mo more than the other, 1 br places I was looking at that weren't so big and not nearly so cool. So it's a much better value :-) )

This is the view from the entrance. Unfortunately, the actual picture of this bathroom got corrupted. Not sure why. Taken over 9100 pics, and this is the first one that's had any such problem.

The kitchen. Probably the only part of the part of the place I'm not really excited about, since it's a bit old-looking, but heck, it works, and it has lots of drawer and cabinet space.

Upstairs bathroom.

My bedroom. Haven't figured out yet where I'm going to put the bed. When I actually get a bed, that is. Or at least fix the leak in my air mattress.

The other bedroom upstairs, which I guess I'll use as an office/computer room, and maybe a massage room. And maybe any other hobbies I take up.

View off the balcony of the other bedroom/office.

Looking the other way in the office, from the rail of the balcony.

This is the view from the door of the office. The little balcony looks down on the entrance, which I imagine will be handy when people arrive and I'm upstairs. Also, if I need to change the bulbs in that light over the door.

Coming back down the stairs. See the cool long chimney on the fireplace.

Looking back from the windows toward the kitchen.

Just after coming in, standing in front of the kitchen. Note the wood-burning fireplace. (The wings are just the ones from Burning Man, which I hung up there on a whim.)

View of the windows, from the living room.

View from the patio. Note the stream, which I can hear nicely from the patio. Shame none of the swans were around.

Looking to the right from the patio.