In the home stretch

After 3 days of pre-conference meetings, a couple of days of general session meetings, today’s the final day of the technical part of the conference. 10 days away from home – seems like forever. I have an 8:30 flight tomorrow morning, and Delta should have me back in Portland before noon. Ah. It’s going to be so good to get back home.

I’m jazzed about today’s sessions – there are a couple that I’m really looking forward to. One of them is about building high end solutions using InfoPath 2003. Another is on designing and building scalable and performant applications in .NET and will be based on patterns & practices content. It’s perfect timing, since next week’s Portland Java user group meeting’s topic is on high performance J2EE apps. And the other cool session is about practicing agile methods using the tools in VS 2005 Team System. It might be tough to get into this session – it’s a chalk talk (few slides, lots of discussion) and is limited to the first 50 people.

Here’s to a good final day at the conference!

Sausage factory

Last Tuesday morning, Lenn Pryor and Jeff Sandquist of Channel9 fame came to talk with us about developer evangelism. Good stuff. Lenn talked about his 6 “rules” of evangelism, which he has blogged about. If you haven’t been to Channel9 lately, you should go take a look. They’ve revamped the page layout a bit based on feedback from the community. And we’re going to be posting more stuff from the field – such as Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

And they brought some cool swag!

Next Portland Nerd Dinner: July 28

It’s way past that time again. This time the Portland Nerd Dinner will be on a Wednesday evening instead of the usual Tuesday. Why the switch from Tuesday? I want to see what’s happnin’ at the Portland Java User Group meeting the week of the 26th, and the PJUG meeting falls on that Tuesday evening.

What: Portland Nerd Dinner
Where: Washington Square Mall “food” court
When: Wednesday, July 28, starting around 6:30 PM.
Why: Because after attending 7 days of conference (and 3 more to go!) in Hotlanta and eating only conference-supplied food I’ve developed an unnatural craving for crappy food.

Be there and be rotund.

Hack! Hack!

After today’s sessions and before this evening’s big bash (Smash Mouth is the featured group) my roommate and I went to work out in the gym here in the Hyatt. I did a couple hundred sit ups about 100 push ups, around 50 chin ups (OK, so perhaps I’m exaggerating) then went to the elevators. Heart pounding. Breathing deep. Sweating bullets.

The elevator arrives and I hop in. And in hops a guy behind me. With a cigar. A lit cigar. Gag! Cough! Hack! My room is on the 15th floor. He pressed the button for the 20th floor. Argh! I dropped to the elevator floor, sucked in a deep breath (not as much smoke down there) and held my breath. Second floor… third floor… fourth floor…. 10th floor – my lungs are burning now – 11th floor… 12th floor – my eyes are about to pop out – must… not… take… a…. breath! 14th floor (thank God there’s no 13th floor!)… and the door slowly opens. My eyes are watering. I’m about to pass out. And then – fresh air! I’m alive!

I don’t mind cigars – I’ve been to smoke one now and again, including a couple this week – but ICK!!! not in an enclosed elevator. Not while I’m inhaling full throttle.

I think I’ll go pass out now. I hope I make it to the party.

Update: I made it to the party and had a great time. And I have pictures to prove it.

Time to get back to it

Well, enough silence.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks – and still busy as I sit in my hotel room in super HOT Atlanta this afternoon. I’m resting up before I head over to the best practices fair this evening. Folks from around the Microsoft world are going to be sharing best practices with each other. It’s amazing how many incredibly smart, passionate, and energetic people work at Microsoft. In the words of Steve Ballmer (and sometimes channeled through Rory), “I love this company!”

SteveB gave a rousing speech yesterday afternoon, at the end of a day full of talks from senior executives including BillG about the new fiscal year and the years beyond.

Nothing but good times.

Well, that was fun

Is it supposed to be fun when you’re visiting with your brother and his family – for your dad’s memorial service? Hm. I don’t know what Ms. Manners would say. Death happens. It’s a part of life. (Or perhaps it’s the first part of Death – which doesn’t really count as life.)

But I definitely had a wonderful time visiting with my brother. It had been years since we were able to spend this much time together. We watched a few movies – including Spiderman 2 – listened to him rehearse for his recital, and played a bunch of tennis. (Did you know that Charlotte is a bit warmer and more humid in July than Vancouver, Washington, is? Yep. It’s true. I have the gallons of sweat to prove it.)

The memorial service this morning was good. It brought some closure in a way that I wasn’t expecting. (I normally hate it when people talk about “closure” – but it’s the right word here. I guess I get it now.) My brother and I met with the minister of the church yesterday morning and recounted some stories about growing up in the Blizzard household. He weaved those stories into his message today and made me think about how we all touch people in more ways than we realize. A kind word here, a gesture there… it can make a difference. We smiled and shed a tear or two.

Well, one more night with the bro’ then it’s early to rise. I’m on the 8:00 A.M. flight tomorrow (Thursday) morning from Charlotte to Portland, with a short lay over in Chicago. (Flying first class again, which I’m really looking forward to.) I’ll get to stay home a couple of days – get to see the new paint job in Alix’s room (thank God they painted it while I was gone!  : ), then it’s off to Atlanta on Sunday for ten days to attend a little conference.

Life goes on…

Travelin’ man

Flew across the country today. First time I’ve done that in first class. Wow. What a pleasant trip (in spite of the 4 hour lay over in Denver). I ended up using 40K frequent flyer miles to make the trip. (I could have used 25K miles, but the return flight home would have been sometime in late August. United only allocates a certain number of seats to the 25K frequent flyer awards program, and those seats go pretty fast. To be able to make the round trip on my schedule I had to burn a ton of miles. Ah well.)

I had to suppress a laugh when on the leg from Portland to Denver they apologized when the “forced” me to drink from a plastic cup — they didn’t have any glass glasses. And on the leg from Denver to Charlotte they did have glasses made of glass, but I was “forced” to use a styrofoam cup for my coffee. “I’m so sorry you have to suffer with the styrofoam.” Heh. If they only knew I was just a bumpkin and was so happy not to be sitting in my normal “luggage class” seat.

On the leg from Denver to Charlotte I had the first class cabin to myself. Me and 7 empty seats. I tried out each one during the flight. I felt like I was in my own personal jet with a flight attendant all to myself. “More water, please,” and “Just a bit more coffee,” and “May I have another hot cookie?” Fun stuff. Some guy wandered into “my” first class section (from his luggage class seat) and used “my” lavatory. The nerve!

My dad’s memorial service is set for Wednesday morning. In the meantime, John and I are going to enjoy life. We watched “Chicago” this evening. Monday and Tuesday we’re set to play some tennis — just like in the old days — and we’re going to rent “Behind Enemy Lines” tomorrow evening. (I’m also going to create a WEP key for his wireless home network tomorrow. It’s currently sitting wide open with the default userID and password. Hacked into the admin console in just a few seconds.)

It’s good to be back in North Carolina, even if just for a few days.