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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!