So close – so far away

My good friend Tina moved to Italy to study fashion for a year, and we had dinner before she left. It was really nice as expected, and also as expected, before we parted she mentioned that she’d stay in touch.

To which I replied, “Aw hell, you know your just saying that. I plan on hearing from you, at MOST, twice. And it’s going to be like, ‘Hey, how you doing? Italy is awesome, I miss you guys.’ and I’ll reply with some nonsense. And the other one would be when I commented on one of her photos or something.” Well, she’s dangerously close to proving me wrong (although one of her messages is a brand survey so I don’t know if that counts…. 🙂 ), so I thought I’d stalk checkout her and look at her Tumblr:

Everything is Simple

It’s surprisingly poignant, with some wonderful images of the lesser seen sides of Italy.

Makes me want to visit.

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Floods and The Great Seattle Move of ‘05

More photos from my past. These are from my move to Seattle. Check out the album!

1) Flooded house

2005 was a CRAZY year for me. I had just quit my job at Lockheed Martin and was getting ready to move to Seattle. I had flown my friend Sean Fitzgerald out to help me move and drive cross country when just before leaving, one of the worst floods to hit Upstate New York in over 10 years. My friends put us up until the waters receded, but in spite of our preparations, the flooding in the house hit all but the highest floor. You can see some pictures of the house, but here is the basement afterwards:

Post Flood Basement

The mud was an inch think and was infested with sewage and whatever else you can think of. My friends later told me the entire house was condemned and torn down. I suppose its hard to imagine if you haven’t gone through it, but a flood is probably one of the worst things you can experience. The worst part about the flood is what it does to things after the waters recede. Anything touched by the water will be damaged and it leaves behind a horrible stench as the nutrient rich mud deposited by the flood waters coat everything in sight.

2) KPOF Catholic Radio in Denver

So after leaving Upstate New York, Sean and I have an uneventful drive to my mom’s place in Michigan. After a few days of R&R, we head off to our next destination: Denver. The purpose of this visit is mainly to meet a girl my mom was trying to set me up with. That is a story for another day, but to get to the point, right before we head into Denver proper, we spy a MASSIVE red building. I head off the freeway to check it out. Apparently its called “The Big Red Castle” and it runs a radio station. We didn’t know that at the time, but the building is absolutely gorgeous and in the middle of nowhere. Totally awesome.

The Big Red Castle KPOF Radio Studios

3) Denver Proper

We stayed with my mom’s good friend in Seattle. During the evening I was suppose to hang out with the girl, but during the day, she was busy at school, so Sean and I took a tour of the town. Did you know Denver has a Mint? Sorry, no pictures inside the mint, it’s not allowed for security purposes. And a pretty awesome Capitol building if I may say so myself. My friend’s mom has a super nice place and treated us like son’s coming home from war. A bit out of the way if you ever drive across the U.S., but I liked Denver.

The Capitol Building:

Capitol Dome

Denver’s Public Library:

Me at the Denver LIbrary

Denver has a GIANT amphitheatre in the center of the downtown:

Top of the world ma!

4) The Flaming Gorge and The Craters of the Moon

I’ll never know how we ended up in Flaming Gorge. I guess from what Sean and I can remember, we were at a gas station or an Arby’s or something, when this older guy, maybe early 40’s spins us a yarn about this gorge in the West that’s so fucking beautiful, at sunset it looks like its on fire. So it gets the name Flaming Gorge and done deal, right? Well, apparently the Flaming Gorge we went to was a desolate wasteland populated by dead cows, and crows. Maybe we weren’t suppose to come in the winter time, or maybe we went to the wrong Flaming Gorge? I dunno. But in the end, it was a good time.

Flaming Gorge

The Crater’s of the Moon was Sean’s idea. Apparently he and Sarah had wanted to see it on their road trip into Seattle, but had missed it. I think it probably would have been a great idea, but when Sean and I went, the park was completely deserted. In fact, in retrospect, I think the park was probably closed to the public entirely and somehow we just waltzed into the place. It was pretty eerie, the place had not a single other visitor and we just had free reign of the place. It got boring in the sameness, but a strange sight to behold at first glance.

Craters of the Moon

One final thing. In my photos I found an old picture of my beloved CRX. 1989 Honda CRX Si with 5-speed transmission. I learned so much about cars on that thing. I’m glad there was an old shot of the car in its glory. I sold it to some boy racer kids later on and they turned it into some The Fast and the Furious looking thing, but here she is in her stock glory.

Farewell CRX

We totally took the shot as a total fluke. We were talking about stuff when Sean mentioned his brother always took a picture of his car wherever he went. I did NOT do this, but this one shot was taken on that note.

2004 all over again in 2009

I’m almost finished processing all of my photo’s that were taken in 2004. W00t! I hope all my friends enjoy these photos that I’ve been hogging all these years. It has been immensely satisfying getting these out, and it has really been a trip down memory lane. For those of us who grew up in the US, I think Christmas has to be one of the more memorable holidays, and this photo had been hiding away all this time:

Erik, Laura, Zak, his wife, me, and Adam

I promised I’d give a rundown after adding several photo albums, so what better place to start than with this photo.

1) Christmas at Erik and Laura’s House

I was supposed to fly home when a massive snow storm basically destroyed all the airports in the entire North East. Erik and Laura happily put me up at the last minute so I didn’t have to spend Christmas alone with my cats. 🙂 Her brother Zak also was there with his wife and aside from the happy times exchanging gifts, I distinctly remember partaking of more than a few games of Homeworld 2 against Erik and Zak. It’s times like this that makes me glad for the photos I took. I hadn’t exactly forgotten it, but seeing the pictures made the memories so much more vivid for me. A real gem amongst my older photos and one’s I’m happy to put up on my blog.

2)  Picnic at Gary and Sandra’s House

Little did I know that I’d come back to this house 4 (!!!) years later as a groomsman, but as Conan would say, that is a tale for another day. These photos are noteworthy because they feature Sandra happily showing off her garden, otherwise a mundane picnic in most respects.

3) Lunar Eclipse of 2004

All of the photos sucked except for this one. Not really accustomed to shooting at night, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Point of fact, I still don’t know what I’m doing, but this photo turned our very nice. 🙂

4) Helen and Marty’s House

Working on these photos was another great recall moment as the evening came back to me strongly. I am pretty sure that I had just bought my camera and was shooting a lot of totally horrible shots, but there are some nice photos in here. These photos also feature my VERY good British friends Kevin James and Kate Fox. At the time, they were together, but unfortunately they have now split. 😦 Seeing these photos makes me miss them, but it also reminds me of all the good times we had.

5) My Cats

This picture is the only picture I have of all the cat’s I’ve ever owned. Starting from the left, it goes: The Cheat, Mimi, The Kitten, and The Creature. It’s kind of sad to think of the 2 missing cats ( Mimi is still around my house, she has gone completely feral though, and The Cheat disappeared in a particularly bad snowstorm ), but looking at this picture makes me think of the innocent times I had as a first time cat owner.

6) Erik and Laura’s House…again!

Erik was my best friend back in New York, so I spent many and evening hanging around with him and Laura, eating dinner with them, and playing with their cats. In fact, I got my 3 cats from them in the first place! They have a really interesting house, and these two shots are pretty indicative of the place.

Sorry Helen & Marty for my extreme tardiness…

so these are the final selection of shots from the wedding from OVER 2 Years AGO!!! After I moved here, I pretty much lost all motivation for anything besides videogames, so these never got done. But that is neither here nor there, about the pictures!

All were shot with a Nikon D70 w/ SB800 flash. I managed to lose a great deal of the photos, all the junk ones, but I felt pretty bad about that. I think I sent Helen and Marty a CD with the series of photos I had picked out as "better", that thankfully weren’t lost. I narrowed that down to these nine. I hope guys enjoy these. My photoshopping isn’t amazing, but I think that a little judicious cropping and whatnot really has brought out the beauty in the pictures.

Enjoy guys!

How do you lead a horse to water?

Just got done giving 2 customer presentations here in Atlanta. Overall, i’m really happy with my work there and hopefully Alan feels the same way. 🙂 couple of things while its all fresh in my mind though:
1. Business Cards – I always thought they were a waste of time before, but I really wish I had a few to give away. I think I missed out on some oppotunities to make a deeper customer connection by offering to stay in touch with them.
 
2. Low-key is the way to go – the 2nd meeting, and I feel it went better than the first. It could have gone really poorly though, as the crowd was definitely was much more critical, but when we warmed them over, they rose to the occassion and really asked alot of good questions. They are NOT a Microsoft stronghold, and to win them over, we had to make them see how Microsoft products enables US to do our work better. We strongly presented to Communties work paradigms and practices and tied it to how Visual Studio: Team Edition enables us to do our job better. In retrospect, it becomes obvious that unless someone is especially dissatisfied with their current product, that this becomes the only way to get them to switch. You can show-off all the whiz bang features you want, but it comes down to how the product enables people to get there work done in an efficacious manner.
 
3. Questions, questions, questions – How to solicit questions? Honestly I don’t know, but getting the crowd to ask questions is the key to establishing rapport and connection. If the crowd isn’t asking questions, then it feels like something is wrong. Unless the questions are about the basic fundamentals that your presentation is suppose to cover,  in which case you may have fucked up. 😛 In all seriousness though, the first talk was O.K., but I feel like we didn’t establish a rapport with the audience. Even if the questions were hostile/probing, I think I would have preferred that. Not to make it all sound bad, some of the people really responded well, but I think at least 1/2 the audience was drifting.
 
Thats all I have for now. I think it would behoove alot more people in the communities team to head out and meet some customers face-to-face instead of online. I think the issues they face are quite different, the the challenge of engaging them is more arduous than with a customer online. If they customer is contacting you on-line, I’m thinking that you are already more than 50% to creating a customer connection. When you go out there, you see how hard it is to even get them into considering Microsoft in general, much less asking you about a specific feature on a specific product, which, "oh but the way" just happens to be in Beta.
 
Anyway, I gotta figure out how to upload my deck. 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll talk about Testing, how I think its a great evangelical tool, and the contents of my mythical deck, testing in a SCRUM/Agile environment.
 
p.s. Thank you to Doug and all the customers we talked to today! I really appreciate the opportunity and I hope that you guys got as much out of it as I did ( i.e. dry run for Code Camp )

Leaving on a jet place…

So tomorrow i’m going to Atlanta for a Code Camp. First time i’ve been sent out on business for Microsoft so i’m both scared and excited. 🙂 I’ll be giving a presentation on working as a tester in a SCRUM/Agile environment. I hope to get some good feeback, and I’ll be posting the deck i’ve created up here when I get back. What does it really mean to be a tester in an Agile environment? I can only talk about it from the perspective of someone who has only known it to be that way. I’ve never worked in a waterfall environment as a software tester, but I have to say, working in an Agile environment is incredibly gratifying.
I worked at Lockheed for almost 5 years, and it was torturous. That place was a total waterfall model, and the chances of a junior engineer making a signifcany contribution on the design side of a project were extremely low. Projects were multi-year affairs and almost every single project I worked on there had already begun a significant time before I had even joined. I will say this though, there was a certain something that was nice in knowing that your project was secure for the longest time. Personally, I would gladly trade some security for opportunity, but I can see the allure.
Hopefully I won’t be a knucklehead and forget my camera. I’ll try to take some pictures and get back into it. My D70 is languishing for me to get off my a ss…
Man, that profanity filter is really starting to piss me off. Next post after the post where I return is going to be about that thing. super annoying.
p.s. Nice! it only filters out the language in the title field. I’m definitely mollified by that.