April 2007 Archives

Visiting Uncle Bill

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Hi everyone!

Just got back from a weeklong trip to Seattle, where I spent a few days at the Microsoft headquarters, as an invited guest of Microsoft's for a CIO Summit on Technology Innovations. It was a really great time - I took a few pictures (it was difficult to take pictures inside of Microsoft, as they frowned upon it), and I'll share the story/events with all of you.

Arrived at the Hyatt Regency Belvue on Monday afternoon. Nice place - nothing extravagant:

The room did have a flatscreen TV, though:


They also had a small gift basket:


Inside of it were some goodies:


The room had an OK view:


So on Monday night, Microsoft took our group (about 300 people) to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Everything was no charge - we had $60 fillets, appetizers, side dishes, desert, and all the fixin's. No wonder a copy of Windows is $400 these days....

When we got back to the hotel (around 1am), this was parked in front of the hotel:

That's a Lamborghini Gallardo.... a cool $180k... there was a different one in front of the hotel each night - on one of the nights, the license plate read, "SFTWARE" (software). Nice...

On Tuesday, we attended our first day of conferences. We were on the Microsoft campus, in the "Executive Briefing Center" building. It was a huge building, #48 of 160-ish buildings that Microsoft has on its Redmond campus. The building was nothing but conference rooms and banquet rooms... here's a picture from the lobby area:

Immediately to my left in the photo was a section of the Berlin wall that measured about 15' tall and 6' wide by about 10' deep. They had all sorts of interesting art and timepieces on display throughout the building.

We were in the Kodiak Room, which seated about 300 people:

I sat in the second row from the front. Whenever you wanted to ask a question, you placed a flag near your name plate, and a person with a microphone (there were 3-4 people with mics running around) would hand you the microphone so that others could hear your question. They were also broadcasting the sessions to a room nearby, where additional people were watching from.

Microsoft didn't leave us for wanting when it came to food... we had breakfast, snacks, lunch, and all of the softdrinks you could imagine available to us. There were coolers the size of my kitchen that held every imaginable drink on the planet - everything from water to Diet Mt Dew to vitamin water to juice, milk, and so on. They even had "Silk" (soy milk)...

Here's what I had for lunch on Tuesday:


Tuesday night, Microsoft took us to the Newcastle Golf Club, an ultra-exclusive golf club in the hills ouf Redmond/Bellvue. They hosted a wine-makers dinner for us. There were about 10 local wineries on hand that had samples of their wines, along with cheese, crackers, fruit, snacks, and a nice dinner. Here are a few pictures:

The winemakers' tent:

The view from a balcony at the club:


The Seattle skyline in the distance:


My ugly mug, with a glass of wine from a small winery that only makes a total of 300 cases of wine per year. I'm guessing the wine was about $200/bottle?


Our food:


We left the dinner at around 9pm local time. Microsoft also gave us free copies of Vista Ultimate, a cool laptop bag, and a 4GB memory stick (USB). They definitely took care of us!

We ducked out a little early to go site seeing, and hit the infamous Fish Market.


Here are some pictures, they're pretty self explanatory:


We ate dinner Wednesday night at a place called "Joey's." Fantastic restaurant -- superb. We slept-in on Thursday and then flew home Thursday afternoon. It was a great trip; I learned a lot, met a lot of great folks, and had a blast at Microsoft's headquarters. It definitely improved my opinion of them - they have some cool stuff coming in the near future.


Friday was business as usual at work, and then today, I spent the day fixing-up someone's house with about 40 of my coworkers, as part of our annual "Rebuilding Together" event. I think we're going to the dog park tomorrow...

That's about it. :-)

George... you brainiac...

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I hate to post twice in the same day, but I just heard Dubya' say something so incredibly dumb I wouldn't have believed it had I not heard it myself just seconds ago on Primetime Live.

(talking about the VT incident, the reporter indicates that there is belief the incident will result in a complete review of gun control laws across the country)

Reporter: Even President Bush acknowledges this incident is likely to stir discussion about gun control.

Bush: "Yes, I do believe it will cause discussion about gun control laws. But I say, 'Let's wait to make a decision until we know what happened at Virginia Tech.'"

Uh, hey genius - we all know what happened. People died. It's not like someone will release a report in 6 months that says, "the deaths were the result of food poisoning."

Holy cats. This is the guy who's leading our country... brilliant - absolutely genius. Thanks again, Ammurrricah. Thanks for voting that buffoon into office... twice.


Prints are here

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We got our frames done today, so I went to Hobby Lobby to pick them up. Here they are "installed" at home:

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Kitchen picture... probably needs something more on the walls, but this is a start.


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Close-up of the print; it's our favorite...

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Smaller print, under our Kit Kat Klock.

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Close-up of the picture.


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Our other favorite picture.

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Close-up of the picture.


Kozmo approves...
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And finally - a super hiliarious picture that I wish I had taken, but alas, it's not mine... found it online:

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Best commercials ever.

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Apple has the best TV commercials ever. Click here to see them all.

My favorites are Stuffed, Computer Cart, and Security. Love 'em!

New dishwasher is in

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I installed our new dishwasher this evening. It took about 1.5 hours, and was incredibly easy. I made one slight mistake that I'll correct tomorrow night - I lowered the dishwasher by about .5" because I thought it was too tall to fit into the opening, but now I wish I would've left it at its original height. It'll be easy to fix - I just have to unhook the supply and drain lines, roll the dishwasher out of its cubby and then adjust the wheels/legs. Should take about 30 minutes to fix.

The dishwasher is a Kenmore Elite with Turbo Wash. It ranked very highly in every comparison test and user review that I could find, so I'm pretty confident it'll work well. I ran a test cycle after the install was complete, and the thing is darn quiet. Not quite silent, but very quiet, nonetheless.

Here's a picture of the new beauty:

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Up next will be a new oven. I've got my eye on a GE Profile... but the danged thing is $2000... so, I might have to wait a while before I buy it. Then it'll be time to finish the other half of the basement. :-)

Oklahoma, Part II

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So I had the pleasure of driving into Tulsa yesterday to pick up my sister-in-law from the Tulsa airport. Normally, I really enjoy driving. There's nothing quite like getting into a car that has just had its oil changed, tires rotated, fluids checked, and gas tank filled, knowing that you're about to embark on a good 'ole fashioned road trip. I enjoy seeing the countryside, listening to my Sirius Satellite Radio (or iPod), firing up the radar detector and hitting the road.

But just as the driving experience can be enjoyable, it can be miserable, and that's exactly how I describe any trip to Oklahoma, or any trip that's tainted with an abundance of Oklahoma drivers in close proximity to me. Holy cats. People -- I know that you think I'm exaggerating or embellishing how poorly Okies drive, but I swear to you I am not. Ask anyone that lives anywhere near Oklahoma and they'll tell you the same thing - there is not a worse group of drivers than Oklahomans.

Here are a few reason as to why I can't stand to drive anyhwere near an Okie, as evidenced yesterday during my forray into OK:

1) They don't use cruise control.
The speed limit in Oklahoma is 75mph on most interstate highways. I set the cruise on my car at 78mph, and stayed in the right lane, except for when I had to pass the frequent vehicle that was travelling 50mph or slower. Nothing like a 30mph speed differential to keep you on your toes...

Anyway, I never varried my speed. 78 on the dot. Oklahoma is flat. The road was smooth and nice. Yet, almost every single vehicle that either passed me or was passed by me would do the following: slow down as I passed them or after they passed me. We'd trade places. The vehicle would then pass me at around 90mph, then slow down to 65 mph. Then they'd go exactly 78mph. Then they'd drop down to 70mph. Then they'd speed up to 80mph. Repeat this until they would exit, or we'd come up on other traffic. Can anyone hold a steady speed in Oklahoma???

It wasn't just 1 vehicle, it was every other vehicle on Highway 412 -- seriously!


2) Brakes = 100% on or 100% off
I followed an older Oldsmobile car that was driven by a lady with frizzy, 80's rockstar curly hair. The Olds was rusted. It was missing at least one hubcap. It was filthy. The antenna was "repaired" with a coat hanger. No license plate. And two bumper stickers that read: "If you can't FEED 'em, don't BREED 'em!" and then right below it, another that read, "Pro Choice and Proud of it!" Excellent. I fully support the pro choice movement. But her car was full of kids - 4 to be exact, and by the looks of the car, she had to be feeding her kids because she wasn't putting any money into the vehicle...

So, she would approach a slower vehicle, and at the very last possible second, SLAM on the brakes. The car would nose dive, weave a little, and I would zing past her (my cruise still on 78mph). Then she'd floor it past me, only to approach the vehicle in front of her, and then SLAM on the brakes again.

Repeat this for every vehicle she encountered. All the way from Siloam Springs to the Tulsa airport. She was always within eyesight of me (or alongside of me).


3) Red light? What's that?
I encountered a few stoplights during yesterday's journey, and like most respectable drivers, when the light turned yellow I would slow, and when the light turned red, I would stop. Apparently most Oklahoman drivers are color blind, as a red light carries no meaning if you're displaying an Oklahoma license plate.


4) Stop when there's no red light.
Following a long line of traffic, and we're stopping for no reason along an extremely busy stretch of "city" road. An opening appears in the other lane, and I floor my vehicle to get out of the stopped line of traffic. What's the hold-up? Oh, just a guy in silver Mustang, who's stopped in the middle of the road to look at a sign on a building... At least he wasn't in the left lane, in a 45mph zone. Oh, wait, that's right - he was.


5) Total and complete idiocy and ignorance.
I saved the best for last... When you enter Oklahoma from the east on Highway 412, you have to pay a $2.25 toll to get on to the Cherokee Turnpike. Shortly after paying your toll, there is a travel center that features a gas station, convenience store, and some restaurants. I was driving past this center when a truck approached from the on-ramp. It was a new Ford pick-up truck, the Harley Davidson edition. Gloss black, nice new wheels, and tinted windows. As it merged onto the highway just in front of me, I immediately noticed two things:

a) Several confederate flag sitckers on the back window, which is fine. No big deal...

b) The ENTIRE tailgate was covered with bumperstickers that read, "Save America! Vote Bush/Cheney for '08"

I kid you not. The ENTIRE tailgate was plastered with these stickers - side to side, top to bottom. Where was my camera when I really needed it?!

Aside from the fact that a President can't be elected to a third term, Bush/Cheney have all but ruined us. I always wondered who the idiots were that voted for those bumbling, crooked, underhanded, lying, ignorant, (insert 100 other derrogatory comments) dummies Bush and Cheney.... now I know.

In defense of Oklahoma, the truck in question had a Texas license plate...


The 5.5 year itch

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Amy's folks and sister are in town this weekend; they just arrived. AND, they surprised us with the best cake ever -- cake from Craig's Cake Shoppe in Verona, WI. It's the cake that we had for our wedding (in 2001), and it's pretty much the best cake in the world. Even though we're getting ready to go out to eat right now, and even though I'm on a diet, I just had to have a piece of cake now:

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That, my friends, is a chocolate cake with chocolate/peanut-butter mousse, covered in a whipped vanilla topping with white chocolate shavings. SOOOOOO good.

And here's the whole thing:

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They also brought us a carrot cake from the same cake shop, and a TON of Capital Brewery Island Wheat beer. Talk about a great surprise!!

I've got an idea for another blog entry about Oklahoma and how much I dislike that state, its drivers and residents, but it'll take a while to parse out, so stay tuned.