I feel it deep inside me I wanna ride it Can’t fight it I might as well rely on the drum beat DJ, pump the low end frequency Can’t hide it I won’t deny it ‘Cause I’m addicted to drums And I’m a slave to the Dark Beat
- Oscar G & Ralph Falcon feat. OBA Frank Lord’s Dark Beat
Lots to say, lots to say, but where to begin? It’s been over a week since I last posted, and loads has happened. Well, let’s begin at the beginning, as usual…
(I put the majority of the entry into the “extended text” section because it’s pretty long - if you wanna read it, go check out the “MORE” link…) Friday, April 11
I visit this site called youbored.com every once in a while that has the ability for Portland folks to win free passes to movie sneak previews. I love checking movies out early, especially for free.
Friday morning I got an email invitation telling me to be at a local theater at 7:00p that night for the screening. Hell, yeah, man! I’m on it!
Jenn and I went to the theater about a half-hour early. They normally don’t let people in until about five minutes before the movie starts, so, being hungry, we hit the food court so we could eat and stand in line at the same time. Jenn got a chicken and rice meal, I got a 10-piece Chicken McNugget combo.
No sooner had I gotten into line and opened the box of Chicken McNuggets, but the line started moving into the theater. Fast. Like, people were almost running into the theater. I started cramming McNuggets into my piehole at a feverish rate, pushing and shoving until I had four McNuggets in there at the same time, trying to wash them down whole with my large Coke.
Now keeping in mind that Jenn’s got her purse and coat, I have a coat, both of us have meals, and Jenn’s got a broken wrist, it was quite the effort to push all of our shit around while eating and running up to the theater.
We got to the theater entrance at which point I had to throw my food out to get in. I spent $5.50 on McNuggets and got to eat fucking four. But to my chagrin, there was still more coming…
I got in, and Jenn got stopped at the door. Being stopped at the door, she kept feeding food into her face, while my McNuggets were sitting nicely at the bottom of the trash bin. The theater people knew we were together; it would have been nice to know we weren’t getting in before I pitched my food. That’s okay, though, right? We’ll be in the movie in no time.
Some of the folks in line had actual passes that they were using to get in, while I had an email saying I could lay claim to an actual pass once I was in the door. This is not unusual practice for YouBored. They have people at the theater that check the email, check your ID, then hand you a pass.
I scanned the area for the YouBored people, but didn’t see anyone familiar. A guy at the theater was gathering the YouBored winners into an area separate from the rest of the crowd, so I went over there. Jenn pitched her food and came over as well. After a decent number of us were gathered together, he started to speak.
“I’m sorry, folks, but this showing has nothing to do with YouBored. It’s for high school students that have passes only. Here, I can give you a pass to a different sneak preview next week for your troubles, though.” With that, he started handing out passes to a movie I couldn’t go to because I would be out of town. Thanks, buddy. I checked the email - I was at the right theater, at the right time… other winners were also there. We just…
We just got fucked is what happened.
Needless to say, I was irritated with having eaten four out of ten McNuggets and then getting turned away from the movie I fucking won passes to.
[Note: I wrote to YouBored today, since I was out of town last week, to tell them how pissed off I was about the confusion. Rather than an apology, they sent me a “winner’s notification” to go to a screening of a different movie tonight. Like I can do that. Bastards.]
Saturday, April 12
As previously mentioned, Jenn’s in charge of this Job’s Daughters group. Saturday night (starting at 10:00p) several of these groups were having a dance aboard the Portland Spirit. Jenn was tasked to chaperone, so I sort of “got” to go, too.
We got there and there were probably 200 or so people ready to go on this thing. At something like $12 a head, that’s a pretty hefty sum of money raised, especially considering they only paid $800 to rent the boat.
Anyway, I’m standing there, scanning the crowd, and as I’m looking at these girls, I’m thinking to myself, “You know, girls never looked like that when I was in high school.” Seriously. The age range was around 14 - 20, and in many cases you’d never be able to tell that any of them was under 18. Jailbait central, I’m telling you.
We get on the ship and the music gets underway. Immediately, I noticed two things.
First, the music is nothing like the stuff we had at our dances. This music sucks ass. It’s all hip hop, it all sounds the same, and most of it isn’t terribly dance-able.
Second, there’s this chick in a floral-print dress that’s two sizes too small and not much is being left to the imagination (if you know what I mean).
So, sitting and listening to this reasonably caucasian-unfriendly cacophony being emitted from the speakers, trying to unobtrusively scope out this floral-print dress, Jenn leans over to me and says, “Hey, have you checked out the chick in the dress over here?”
If she wasn’t just reading my mind or anything. :)
Anyway, the boat leaves the dock, travels up and down the Willamette River for a while (during which time a bit of a wind-and-rain storm ensues, seemingly requiring the morons near the door to repeatedly open and close it… because you know that chilly wind is great when you’re sitting at a table trying to relax), and then returns to the dock a couple of hours later. Jenn and I drove some of the girls back to meet their parents and then went home, exhausted.
Sunday, April 13
Honestly, I don’t remember what I did Sunday. Must not have been very important. I think I basically just packed for the Developers’ Conference.
Monday, April 14
Jenn got up and left for school, at which time I started gathering my things together to load up in the car for the trip up to Bellevue, WA for the SharePoint Products and Technologies Developers’ Conference.
Gathering my stuff up, I realized I didn’t have a copy of our company’s non-disclosure agreement, so I’d have to go out to work to get it.
But then, after talking to my supervisor, he said it was really a bitch to try to get our already-signed NDA and to just sign the one at the event. So I didn’t have to go to work.
Left at around 10:00a for Bellevue, which is around 160 miles north of my home. Got there early afternoon (after stopping for some lunch) and checked into the Fairfield Inn. Realized that I just drove four hours to show up in the equivalent of Beaverton. I hate Beaverton.
Took a nap (because car trips take a lot out of me for some reason) and woke up with enough time to try to scope out where the registration event that evening was taking place.
Got in the car and drove toward the Hyatt something-or-other in Bellevue. Bellevue’s got a lot of construction. In my attempt to follow simple MapQuest style directions, I was thwarted by detours and missing traffic signs and ended up feeling my own way along back roads paralleling the freeway. Not convenient, definitely scary.
Got to the Hyatt, looked around and found their parking. Decided I’d drive into the parking area, get familiar, then leave… realized once I pulled in that I couldn’t get out without paying, so I just stayed there. Good thing I was already dressed.
Walked over to a nearby Borders to buy a map of the area (which I did) and noticed that they had a good selection of music on the top floor. Looked around at the music, burning time until the event, and then walked back to the Hyatt.
Got in line for the Convention Registration and signed all the crap I had to sign. Got a bunch of freebies, too: A nice quality gym bag with an embroidered “SharePoint” logo on the side; a 128MB USB drive; a copy of all of the Office 11/SharePoint v2 beta software; a nice notebook with the SharePoint logo; and a reasonably decent pen to write in the notebook with.
Ate some odd oriental food (sort of Chinese with a Japanese bent to it… stuff like barbecued pork with a mustard that had wasabi flavor…) and had a couple of gin and tonics. Looked around for anyone I knew, but didn’t find anyone. Noticed that this event was a total sausagefest - probably ten women total there, only five of whom weren’t part of the event staff. Hmmm. Went back to my hotel to crash out for the night.
Tuesday, April 15
If there’s one thing I can say good about Microsoft conferences, it’s that they sure as hell feed you well. For breakfast I had eggs with sauteed mushrooms, bacon, and a lemon cake. I then went over to the free espresso stand and ordered myself up a mocha. Oh, yeah.
The Microsoft Conference Center was set up well. There were two lecture halls available to us (both of which were set up for wireless network access), various network access kiosks set up around the facility, and plenty of area to sit and chat with people, hang out and eat, etc. Very cool.
The chairs in the lecture halls, though… you couldn’t really adjust the seat angle, so the chairs always felt like they were trying to dump me out on my ass. I wasn’t so thrilled with that, but found if you recline the chair back all the way, the seat angle would tilt up to level so you could reasonably sit.
The first lecture, more of a logistics discussion than anything, started and I noticed that my friend Kristen (from a consulting firm I’m working with to roll out SharePoint Portal Server v2) was sitting in front of me. In the following lectures, at least the ones we were both attending, we sat together so we could talk and such. Finally, someone familiar!
Between lectures the line for the men’s restroom was fucking ridiculous. I haven’t seen that many guys trying to use the same limited facilities for a long, long time. By that same token the line for the women’s room wasn’t even a line. Kristen thought that was decidedly funny. I thought it was just irritating.
I won’t go into the boring details of what the lectures entailed. Suffice to say they were interesting and taught me a lot of stuff about SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Windows SharePoint Services. If you wanted to know any of the gory details of the internals of either product, that was the place to find out.
Dinner was at Taco Del Mar, a “super burrito.” I hadn’t ever eaten at Taco Del Mar, so I was pleasantly surprised.
I returned to the hotel in time to watch Buffy, but found that the local Fox affiliate would rather broadcast the fucking Mariners baseball game than the show I wanted to watch. Assholes. I ended up watching American Idol instead, and I’m coming to find that I am caring less and less about the outcome. If we could just skip to the end and vote between Ruben and Clay, that’d be fine with me.
After American Idol I played some Metroid Fusion on my GBA SP (which, of course, I brought with me). That game is hella fun, but it gets frustrating at times. I end up having to turn it off and take a break, then come back later and the thing that was frustrating me ends up being a bit easier.
Wednesday, April 16
Following a great breakfast, Kristen and I entered lectures again. I discovered (more like renewed my discovery) that I have about a 20 minute attention span in a lecture setting. After 20 minutes, I need to do something else (draw, read, play GBA, etc.) or I’ll go ballistic. I’m still pretty much paying attention, but I can’t just sit and listen. It doesn’t work. Maybe that’s one of my biggest problems with school - it’s mostly just lecture. Training classes have labs and whatnot interspersed with the lecture, so it keeps my attention.
During one of my GBA sessions during lecture, I noticed that the Mad Catz travel case I bought for my GBA SP is actually held together with fucking double-stick tape! Can you believe it? It looks totally sturdy from the outside - a nice, padded plastic inside with a hard metal outside… but the metal is held on by double-stick tape. Ridiculous. (I ended up hot-gluing the metal down when I got home.)
After lectures, I went back to my hotel, dropped off my crap, and picked up my friend Aarron (who has lived on-and-off in Seattle for 15 years) and we decided we would eat at Red Robin and then go see Bulletproof Monk.
Aarron called the theater, got the movie times (we’d go to the 9:15 show so I could get back to the hotel and get some sleep before the next day), and we went to Red Robin.
A decent dinner later, we went to the theater… and found that the movie was showing at 10:05, not 9:15. Shit! Now what? We went to a different theater in the vicinity… and saw that only Anger Management was showing, starting at 9:05. Fine. Done.
Anger Management is too funny. Jack Nicholson as the straight-man and Adam Sandler as the fall-guy in a comedy is just too perfect. I laughed my ass off the whole time, and will probably be picking this one up on DVD when it comes out. I’m glad to see Adam Sandler’s doing funny movies again. (As opposed to, say, Little Nicky.)
Taking Aarron home was another issue entirely. I’m not terribly familiar with the Seattle area, so I trusted Aarron to navigate.
One would assume that living in a place for 15 years would reasonably acquaint you with certain routes. For example, how to get home. Not so.
Aarron and I drove around for probably 30 minutes, many times in circles, trying to find his apartment. At one point we were sitting at a stop light right beneath the base of the Space Needle, and I’m thinking, “Jeez, man… if you need a landmark, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Where the hell do you live?”
We eventually found the way by following the bus route that he takes home. Interesting that the guy looking to get his driver’s license has to navigate by following the bus route. Heh. That’s okay. Aarron’s the man, and it’s always good to see him and hang out. Always an adventure, you know?
I got back to the hotel around midnight after some confusion in getting me back on the freeway. *sigh* What an ordeal.
Thursday, April 17
Thursday was pretty much uneventful. Kristen and I attended lectures, then when the whole thing was said and done we went over to the Microsoft Company Store and bought some trinkets. I got a wireless optical mouse for $30, which is a pretty good deal if I do say so myself, and a couple of shirts. Kristen bought some pens and a copy of Visio (or was it Project?). I dropped her off at her car and started the long drive home.
I got home by around 10:00p and it was definitely nice to sleep in my own bed again. Also, seeing Jenn and my kitties was a good thing. Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
Friday, April 18
Work. Hectic. Too. Much. To. Do.
Between catching up on email and servicing nickel-and-dime requests, I made it over to the Beaverton Microsoft office to videoconference in for the SharePoint Users Group. It was kind of funny to be teleconferenced in with a bunch of people I just saw at the lectures the day before. Kristen had stayed in Bellevue an extra day, so I saw her over the video link. (She still hadn’t made it to Ikea, which I find pretty funny since she had been trying to get there most of her trip.)
After that, more work, then home.
Saturday, April 19
Went to see Anger Management again, this time with Jenn, because she wanted to see it. It was just as funny the second time around, but this time I knew what was coming up so the shock wasn’t as intense. Still, good times.
Also watched (on DVD) Real Women Have Curves. Now, I’m probably pulling out my white-man-bigotry here, but the plight of the struggling Mexican American family - and, in particular, the overweight Mexican American daughter - is really not for me. I appreciate the telling of the story and the character development and all that; I realize that saying, “Just get out of that situation!” is me showing my ignorance in how the culture works and yadda yadda yadda. Truth be told, I just didn’t care. I’m glad the girl gets out of the ghetto and gets to go to Columbia University for free. Did I feel a little animosity that I could never have pulled as sweet a deal as that? Hell, yes. But, fine, she gets out and gets to better herself (and, hopefully, contribute to society in an attempt to repay the opportunity provided her). AND? Yeah, that’s my point. And… nothing. She gets out. The end. I just didn’t care.
Sunday, April 20
Pretty lazy day. Caught up on all of the TV I missed that Jenn had taped for me. Worked some on this beaded hat project I’ve got going. That’s about it. Nothing spectacular, and that was fine with me.
… which brings us to current.
Okay, so I skipped Monday. Nothing happened Monday. Don’t worry about it.
What did I get out of the experience?
First, Portland has generally shitty radio stations. Seattle’s got this station C89.5 that is all techno, all the time, minimal commercials. I can’t say my radio strayed from that station or really ever turned off while I was there. You can listen to it online, which I’m thankful for, because I otherwise fucking hate radio.
I ended up buying a couple of techno albums, particularly for a group called “4 Strings” who had some good stuff they played on C89.5. It made me happy, to have found some new, good techno, and be back in that whole loop at least a little bit. It makes me feel… alive.
Second, Microsoft feeds you well and gives you really cool shit when you go to their conferences. I’ll definitely be attempting to crash some more of those.
Finally, I’ve got a new cool friend (Kristen) to talk tech with. Can’t complain about that.
All in all, not bad.
I’ll leave off with a thought I had while driving in the car flipping through the radio stations (verifying that we do not, in fact, have anything decent to listen to around here):
Creativity and inspiration are outlets more for angst than for joy.
Talk amongst yourselves.