Sunday, March 23, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I got back a little over a week ago from a great trip to Seattle for the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2008. It was my first visit to Seattle and I had a lot of fun (though it would have been much more fun if Ed had been with me).
Sunday, March 2
A couple of days before I left, my friend Jane (whom I hadn't seen since high school) suggested that we do a bike ride. I thought that sounded great, but I wasn't able to find a rental bicycle (wrong time of year). So I ended up bringing my trusty Redline, which ended up being much less of a hassle than I feared. It was still in the bag from my last trip to San Diego. Unfortunately, whatever chain lube I used became a disgusting mess, so assembling the bike was a dirty job. We headed out north from South Park to Ballard, passing some riders from the Seattle International Randonneurs (but not Jane's husband Robert, who must have been in an earlier group).
On the way home, we stopped for an early dinner at Brouwer's, which had an incredible selection of Belgian ale. Ed definitely would have loved that place! I was sorry I didn't get a photo of the fantastic wooden women's room plaque with a unicorn on it.
After packing up my bike, I headed to the hotel and then to the conference for check-in. I had to call Ed after getting my Timbuk2 conference bag. The conference had a subtle cycling theme (hence Greg Lemond giving a speech) and what can I say -- my affections are easily bought.
Monday, March 3
The coffee at breakfast at the conference this morning was execrable. Come on, this is Seattle, people!
I noticed that no one jaywalks here. And there are an awful lot of bicycles.
The keynote, by Bill Gates, was excellent. And we saw this mockumentary of Bill Gates's last day at Microsoft, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Tuesday, March 4
Today's highlights were a trip to Pike Place Market for lunch (I think it's fair to say that I miss the way I used to feel about baked manapua more than I miss baked manapua). I didin't see any fish-throwing, but I did see a lot of tourists standing around, looking hopeful with their cameras out, near a fish stand and some guys who didn't seem too excited about putting on a show. Ed described Pike Place as a combination of the Portland (Maine) Public Market and Old Orchard Beach, which was pretty accurate. I loved it.
I paid a Chinese calligrapher $5 to write my name.
The conference hosted a "gala reception" at the Museum of Flight. I loved the museum. There were great exhibits, flight simulators, lots of planes, and a special exhibition of flight attendant uniforms ("Style in the Aisle"). I saw some great nose art.
In case you can't see what's going on here, it's a tiger killing an antelope with the face of Adolph Hitler. It was on a Russian plane.
Wednesday, March 5
Greg Lemond's keynote was just okay. I enjoyed the highlight reel, though it made cycling look like a sport in which people crash at 60 mph every few minutes or so. Apparently Lemond was asked to speak at the conference (which focused on an innovative piece of collaboration software) because of his experience in cycling (a collaborative sport) and his willingness to try innovative cycling equipment, such as aero bars. Oh, and also, his company recently started using SharePoint. The speech didn't discuss teamwork much (Lemond famously feuded with many of his teammates) and was very disjointed. I have some sense of the progression of his career, but I'm sure much of what he said was lost on non-cyclists. And he's a rambler: the hunting-accident story took about 20 minutes. But everyone seemed to enjoy his talk and we all applauded when a former neighbor of his from Belgium, who had helped decorate Lemond's neighborhood and was part of the drunken crowd of 500 Belgians who awaited his return after one of his Tour victories, got up to ask a question.
This is what passes for humor at a SharePoint conference (great session):
In the evening, I walked around the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I saw the dance steps in the sidewalk and browsed in a couple of stores in which I'm not hip enough to shop. I had a great dinner with my friend Sean, whom I hadn't seen since we worked at Ace Wheelworks in 2000. Machiavelli's Ristorante: the best chicken piccata I've ever had. I enjoyed tea at Bauhaus as well.
Thursday, March 6
Determined to make it to all the attractions on my list, I got up at 5 a.m. to ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island (I only spent about 5 min. on the island, then got right back on the ferry). It was well-worth the $6.75. I got to see some gorgeous views as the sun rose over Seattle. Here are some cyclists racing to disembark before the cars.
On my way back to the hotel, I saw the impressive Seattle Public Library.
After the conference, I went on the Underground Tour, which was a great way to learn about the history of Seattle. Then I was off to the Seattle Aquarium, where I particularly enjoyed watching the octopus and the sea otters.
I finished up the day with a visit to the first Starbucks at Pike Place and then met up with Jane and Robert for an excellent dinner at Boom Noodle (I'm not sure what is up with the girl in the John Deere outfit).
Friday, March 7
I managed to grab coffee at the airport before my flight with a high school friend, Brad D., who is now an airline pilot. I think the last time I saw him was 1993. It was a great end to a really packed trip (I was doing some work email and schoolwork in the evenings after the conference). I'm still catching up on my sleep.