I’ve found that I have some limited web access from the class, so I’m going to post this first day’s worth of info because, frankly, it’s just too much if it’s combined with anything else. This trip has become quite the debacle. Monday, June 23
This is the first class I’ve had in Bellevue, and the first week-long business trip I’ve taken, so two firsts in one week. While that doesn’t sound so terrible, I’ll have to admit it is a bit of a stressor. Let me tell you about the trip and last night. This is sort of how everything has gone.
I left yesterday (Sunday) at 12:30p (after watching The Devil’s Advocate on TNT) to drive up here to Bellevue. It’s a three-hour trip, give or take, but I usually allot closer to four hours because of the Seattle and Tacoma traffic (mostly the Tacoma traffic on this particular trip).
The first trouble I ran into was the weather. It was reasonably gray and icky out, but it was only sprinkling rain so I figured everything would be just cool. Instead what I got was sort of like an attention-deficit case playing with a fire hose. It would be totally clear, then blast down rain hard enough that you could barely see anything on the road, then it would be totally clear again. That, combined with the fact that the traffic never stopped moving 80mph, made me pretty uneasy (even when you couldn’t see). But I got through it.
Then we had the construction issue. See, the trip is really simple - you travel on I-5 north until you hit I-405 north, then you take that to exit 14 - WA-520 west. No problem, pretty straightforward. Well, as soon as I got on 405, I started seeing these traffic warning signals and things telling me to tune into 530 AM, the traffic notification radio station. So I did, and the warning was that “I-405 is closed at Fourth Street.” Okay, well, I don’t know where Fourth Street fucking is, so I just kept on trucking and hoped that it was after exit 14.
Fourth Street is exit 12.
You should have seen the traffic. Backed up for miles. Having no choice, I waded through it to get off the exit before 405 was shut off and then I pulled into the nearest parking lot to consult my trusty Bellevue map that I bought the last time I was in town.
My trusty Bellevue map is sitting at home on the God damn bookshelf.
I guess I’d best put that on the list of things I need to remember to take for next trip.
Well, sans map, I figured I’d find some sort of road that paralleled 405 until I could get to 520. I mean, for God’s sake, I could see 520 right there! I tooled around and found myself on 108th Ave. NE, which is the street that my hotel is on (according to my MapQuest directions). Luck! I drove through downtown Bellevue on 108th Ave… and then it dead-ended. Huh? But my hotel is on 108th. I’d consult my map, but I don’t have it. So… find a way back onto the 405 (after Fourth Street) so I can get on the 520 and follow the directions from there.
I did that - found my way back to 405 (what an ordeal) and got onto 520, took the 108th Ave. exit (as instructed) and found my hotel. Cool. Crisis averted.
Walked into my hotel and find out that somehow my reservation wasn’t lost, but was cancelled. Right. Fight the computer user incompetence to get a room anyway and convince them that, yes, the training facility is picking up the bill for the stay. They come back and say that the facility will only cover Monday through Thursday nights (which is not what I was told) but I figured I’d get the facility to call the hotel and hash that out rather than fight with the front desk.
My room is conveniently located right off the lobby. Score one for the good guys.
Unpack all my stuff and get all set up in the room. I’ve got a small refrigerator and microwave, so I can go back to the Safeway that I found in my travels earlier and get some food.
After that, I decided to go find the training facility so that I can find it easily the next day. It’s on 112th Ave. Looking at my driving directions from the hotel to the training facility…
I see that 108th Ave. turns into 112th. 112th runs right into downtown Bellevue. In fact, I was on 112th earlier in my construction runaround. Well, then. Now I know how that all works. Day late and a dollar short, as usual.
The training facility is pretty easy to find, which is good. By the time I’d gotten there, I was tired of searching for things. Back to the hotel.
Next door to the hotel is this old-fashioned drive-in restaurant where they hook the tray to your window and serve you greasy spoon food. The place is called Burgermaster. Any place called Burgermaster is all right by me. I got myself a double-patty cheeseburger and some fries, then walked it back over to the hotel. (No, I’m not eating greasy food in my car.) Tasty.
After that, I basically sacked out and watched some TV. Played a little GameBoy. That’s about it. Went to bed at 10:00p after leaving a few voicemails for Jenn (she was out at some Job’s Daughters thing). Long car trip plus greasy spoon plus bored equals very, very tired.
11:00p and Jenn decides to call me and say good night. It took me a good hour to get to sleep on the apple crate bed I’ve got, and just as I’m getting to sleep, she calls. Typical. I fumbled around for the phone and ended up having to call her back because I couldn’t get there in time. She still wasn’t home and, no, she did not check the voicemail to see what the situation was. I told her good night and attempted to go back to sleep.
I slept like crap. I think I’d get about an hour’s worth of sleep between fits of tossing and turning. I didn’t bring my pillow, which is one of those senso-foam deals, not the soft standard pillow - put that on the list of things to bring for next time, too. So, no good. I’m totally beat this morning.
Got up at 7:00a, took my shower, realized I forgot my pitstick (put deodorant on the list of stuff to bring next time), called Jenn. Jenn was up late reading the latest Harry Potter chronicle (mine’s on its way from the UK now), so she was all groggy. Now you know what it’s like, baby! Talked to her for a bit and left to get to the training facility a little before 8:00a. Classes start at 8:30a.
Got to the facility about five minutes to eight. Turns out that classes in Beaverton start at 8:30a, classes in Bellevue start at 9:00a. Glad I’m here an hour early. Acquainted myself with the facility, went searching for drinks, etc. All is well with the world, right?
Oh, except for the fact that I think there’s a light coating of pitch on my car from the tree I parked under. Little sticky speckles that wipe off if you spit on them and rub, but annoying nonetheless.
Class started at 9:00a (it’s 9:40a right now, but I’ve been typing and dealing with things this whole time). Since class started, I’ve discovered several things. First, this is a three day class, not five days. It will be five days next time but this time it’s three (apparently it’s the last time it’s a three day course, too). Second, due to the class length, it means no labs. The labs are the good part in classes like this. Third, I’ve met the instructor before in some seminar or another I’ve been to. That’s a good thing, though - he’s a good guy and totally hilarious. Finally, I found out that the self-test software that we bought with my class package is no good (or not as good) for actual self-testing as far as the MS tests are concerned. You learn stuff, but they don’t accurately represent the tests. I guess I need to check out transcender.com.
So a couple of dilemmas have cropped up. First, with no labs, I’m really going to have to learn something without doing it. That’s hard for me. Second, I’ve got to get the whole hotel thing straightened out. Finally, since we’ve paid for a five day class, I need to get the pricing fixed.
Well, I go home a couple of days early. So I guess that’s good.
I’d best pay attention here.
Break time because not all of the computers were set up right. We should have VS.NET 2003 installed so we can work along with the instructor but only three of the five do. So… now we wait for that to get updated.
This is quickly moving from minor fiasco to major debacle.
I’m at a new computer now, this time with all of the software that should be there. Of course, now I’ve got to set all of my view preferences again. What a pain in the ass. What happened to roaming profiles?
Lunch. We’re moving at a breakneck pace in this class, just like we did in the last three-day class. I am going to do a couple of the practice exercises so I can get a feel for this stuff since we don’t get to do the labs, then I’ll go to the deli place next door and get something to eat.
And I thought training wasn’t stressful.
I went and got lunch at this little deli that’s in the same building as the training facility. It was a toasted chicken cordon bleu sandwich and was passable (that’s about all I can say for it). Came back, read a little in my book, and now I’m catching up on the review questions and so forth in preparation for the next module.
I’m still sort of irritated that there is no actual lab time in the class.
Something I forgot to mention, one of the few cool things so far on the trip - I’m back within range of C89.5, the best radio station ever. It’s so much better to hear it on the radio live than it is to have to listen online. Much richer sound.
Break time again. We’re totally cruising through this thing, but the instructor is good and calling out “exam watch” topics - stuff we’re likely to see questions on. That’s nice, and different than how the other classes I’ve been in work. I hope this guy teaches the next class I’m up here for.
I just went and took a crap and I have to mention that the toilet paper at this facility is way better than the facility in Beaverton. Beaverton’s TP was like fine-grain sandpaper. This is more like those fancy soft paper towels you see in expensive restaurants. I’m all over that.
While we’re on the restroom topic…
I was sitting there and I noticed that someone had spit on the wall next to the toilet. Why do people do that? Nasty.
Oh, and the toilet is this hyper-industrial power machine but it has a standard home-style flush handle. Why does that matter? Well, you have to hold the handle while the thing is flushing in order for it to work. But when you push down the handle, the ultra-suction starts, scares the shit out of you, and you end up letting go of the handle, which then stops the flushing action from happening. Talk about poor user interface.
My friend Aarron, local in Seattle, just called me three times because for some reason he just now got the emails that I sent him like a month ago telling him I’d be in town. Apparently there’s some sort of a party going on tonight that doesn’t start until 8:00p, but there are some problems with that scenario.
First, I’m not really a party animal per se. Before I go to a party, I definitely want to know more than just one person that will be there so I know there’ll be someone to talk to. Second, if it doesn’t start until 8:00p, that means it won’t really get going until 10:00p. Being unable to sleep in my shitty hotel bed means that I should probably be in bed and attempting to get some sort of rest by then in order to maintain any level of sanity. Finally, and probably most importantly, I don’t have my God damn map so if I end up going and getting lost, I’m screwed.
Yeah, I could probably shovel out for yet another map, but with the issues I’ve already run into on this trip, this whole thing is just tempting fate to screw me. I think I’ll pass.
Plus, there’s the whole polyamorous/infidelity bent that these parties seem to revolve around that I’m just not really into so much. I mean, were I single, sure - go, meet some funky folks, hang out, and not worry too much about whether you come out of it with a date or something. But I’m not, so I can’t really go that route.
Our instructor (in a heavy Indian accent): This code here is why I don’t do user interface code. I used to have to create my own checkboxes and everything, and I’m good at geometry but when you draw things on the screen they always look bad. This is much easier now, but when you do it manually it still makes you want to go to a counsellor.
It’s time to go!