personal comments edit

If that’s not confusing, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, in response to some of the comments made yesterday

Why don’t I go to the social gatherings? A couple of reasons, actually.

First, I am not the socialite. It’s more stressful than anything else, and striking up conversations about things with people is nigh unto impossible. In a business setting it’s easier - talk business during business hours. Talking business in a social setting is hard for me.

Second, if it’s anything like the other SharePoint group gatherings I’ve been to (the user group, seminars, etc.), it won’t offer me anything anyway. I already have a direct line to communicate with the product development group for SharePoint Portal Server through my work connections; they’ve heard all my gripes and continue to listen. And I’m one of the vastly more advanced users of the product - my implementation is much larger and more convoluted than anyone else I’ve talked to - so when I talk to peers about the product, I usually get reactions like, “You solved that? I didn’t even know it was possible. How did you do it?” Then I end up teaching other people about the product rather than learning something new myself.

An example of that actually occurred very recently. We’re working with a contractor to do some SharePoint Portal Server stuff now. Their resume lists several customers that they’ve done Portal Server stuff for. Part of their introduction was me showing them what we currently have implemented. They were awed - they’ve never done anything on this scale yet. A lot of the stuff they didn’t even know you can do. I have a feeling I’ll be doing some teaching once this project gets under way.

Anyway, interactions like that are more value for them than me. So I’ll skip it this time. Maybe next time I’ll go.

Isn’t a week alone heaven for me? Actually, I don’t think it’ll be too bad in that respect. I might get a little bored since I’m used to interacting with Jenn when I’m home and whatnot, but I’ll do all right. I’ll call her on the phone or whatever. Plus, no Playstation! I think the biggest downside will be what to do in my off-time. Maybe I’ll have to head into downtown Seattle or something and cruise around. Or maybe I’ll finally get some decent reading time in. I’ve been working on The Sum of All Fears since Christmas.

food, sharepoint comments edit

In the splendour of my laziness last night, I deemed it a good idea to throw half a bag of Ore-Ida Onion Rings into the oven and just eat that for dinner.

I’ve had better ideas.

Along with my onion rings, I thought I’d sit down with the Chinotto I had in the fridge and eat up while watching Buffy. A couple of sips into it, I went back into the kitchen to do a little mixing.

Chinotto is much better with a hefty dose of coconut rum in it.

Buffy was a good episode, with good humor. I like that.

This morning I got in to work and found that there’s a Microsoft SharePoint Technologies Developers’ Conference going on. Being a Microsoft Partner company, we got a special invite to this thing. It runs April 14 - 18 in Redmond, WA at the Microsoft Campus.

I’m all signed up and set to go.

This is my first business trip out of the local area. I mean, I’ve been to training a couple of times, but always at a local facility. Conferences, same thing. I’ve never been out of town for a business trip. Frankly, I’m kind of scared.

See, I have this comfort zone, if you will, which surrounds me with familiarity. I’m not a very social person (you’d never have guessed, right?), so this is a big step for me. An out-of-town trip, by myself, for a week. Yow.

I suppose I’ll get by all right. I always have in the past with new stuff. It’s a little stressful, but I’ll figure it out. Plus, my boss might be going, too, which would make it a little better.

Needless to say, I did not sign up to go to the “group dinner” or any of the other “mingle and network” events. I hate mingling, and the only networking I do happens in a server room. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

food comments edit

After my CompUSA fiasco on Friday, I decided to do two follow-up actions to find a decent beverage for consumption at work.

First, I gave in to the possibility that the other CompUSA in town might actually carry Bawls Guarana. With that in mind, we made the harried trip to Jantzen Beach where the other CompUSA is.

Jantzen Beach was, at one time, a happening shopping district. Near the airport and right next to a major freeway, it’s still got a lot of traffic pouring through. Neither the shops nor the City Planner really kept up with the change in the times, though. The whole place is more… industrial… than anything anymore. Huge warehouse style stores rather than any mall of any nature. And the traffic… damn. It’s ridiculous how the traffic pushes through there. It’s a nightmare.

So I braved the traffic and made it to CompUSA so they could tell me that they do still carry it, but they’ve had 75 cases on order for a month now and they just aren’t showing up. That figures.

Now what? If I can’t have Bawls Guarana, what do I need?

The answer lies in San Pellegrino.

Back when I used to have a job in an actual urban center, downtown Portland, my friends and I would frequent a little deli that had some less common beverages to try. During that time, I got totally hooked on San Pellegrino Limonata.

Basically sparkling lemonade, Limonata has this certain something that makes it so I want to drink it all day. It’s really good. (Jenn doesn’t like it as much as I do, but that’s just too bad for her.)

Thus ensued a trip to Cost Plus.

Cost Plus has Limonata for significantly cheaper than any other store locally that stocks it. Seriously, like $1 cheaper per six pack. They also carry other interesting San Pellegrino drinks including Aranciata, Chinotto, and Sanbittèr. The Aranciata and Chinotto at Cost Plus are like $2.50 cheaper per six pack.

I’ve had Aranciata before, so bought some of that. I had never had Chinotto or Sanbittèr before, so I bought a six pack of the Chinotto. Sanbittér comes in packs of (10) 100mL bottles for $7.99. Not knowing if I liked it or not, I only bought two bottles at $0.80 each.

Sanbittèr is a “non-alcoholic aperitif soda.” Being the world traveler that I am, I had to look up what “aperitif” means. Apparently it’s an alcoholic drink taken before a meal as an appetizer. Hmmm. Whatever, right? So I pop open one of my tiny bottles of this stuff, take a very small sip…

And I really don’t know what to make of it. It doesn’t taste like anything I’ve had before, but I don’t think I like it. It’s bitter, as the name implies, but it leaves this nasty aftertaste that sort of lingers and makes you a little ill after a while. I’m glad I only bought two bottles of the stuff. I’ll leave the other one unopened for show. (If anything, San Pellegrino has style like nothing else.) Regardless, I’m glad I tried it. Always good to try something new.

I haven’t yet tried the Chinotto yet. It’s described as “sparkling citrus beverage,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. It’s the color that worries me. It’s brown. Limonata is yellow-green; Aranciata is orange; Chinotto is brown. I’m not sure what to think of that, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

Thus ends my current search for beverages. I’ve given up the chase for Bawls. Ordering online is cost-prohibitive (it’s the shipping that kills you off) and nowhere locally stocks it in a reliable fashion.

That’s okay; I could easily be a San Pellegrino man.

food comments edit

I did a little research. Apparently, “Chinotto” is a dwarf bitter orange.

I popped open a Chinotto drink just now because I decided it was time.

I just figured out where Sanbittèr gets its primary flavor.

The thing is, Sanbittèr is a very much distilled-down, strong version of Chinotto. I don’t mind Chinotto so much (though I’m not going to get any more; I’ll stick to Limonata), but Sanbittèr is kind of icky.

personal, food comments edit

I really should know better than to ever visit CompUSA. I really should.

I have only ever had bad luck at CompUSA. I’ve purchased a couple of things there, and both times I was the victim of crappy return policies, untrained store personnel, and general incompetence.

I am on the constant lookout for Bawls Guarana beverage. It’s good stuff, right up there with a VentiTM Mocha Frappuccino®. Both beverages put me in a good mood, restoring faith in mankind and actually making me conducive to customer service. Yes, with a little chemical assistance, even I can help people.

The thing is, I know where to get the Frappuccino. Bawls, on the other hand, is nigh unto impossible to find locally.

I went to the Bawls site today and noticed they have a locator to help you find vendors that sell the tasty drink. There are two locations listed for Oregon, both being CompUSA stores.

One of the stores listed is reasonably close to my work. When I say reasonably, what I mean is “I can get there and back during my lunch hour if I drive like a mad bandit and traffic is lighter than it usually is.” Hesitant to embark on such a journey without some positive assurance that the beverage not only was carried, but was also in stock and at a reasonable price, I called them to verify.

After navigating through a sizable phone menu system, I got connected with someone who could (supposedly) discuss item pricing and availability with me. That conversation went something like this:

Pedro: Hello, and thank you for calling CompUSA. My name is Pedro [I don’t think that was his name, but he had a heavy, uh, Mexican accent which comes into play later] and I will be helping you to determine the pricing and availability for products. Can I please have your zip code? Me: 97202 Pedro: Okay, that’s the Jantzen Beach store. What products are you looking for today? Me: Actually, I’m interested in products at your Tigard store, over by Washington Square Mall. I can’t make it to the Jantzen Beach store. Pedro: Okay, what products are you looking for? Me: I’m interested in a drink you might carry. Pedro: A sink? Me: No, a drink. Bawls Guarana. Pedro: Heat sinks? Me: NO, a drink. You know, like you eat food, you drink water… a drink. Pedro: A drink? [Shit, man, do you fucking speak fluent English? I’m not mumbling over here…] Me: Yes, a drink. It’s called “Bawls Guarana.” Pedro: Okay… yes, we have it. Me: You do carry it? Good. Is it in stock? Pedro: Yes. It’s $16. Me: Is that for a case? I’m sure it’s not $16 a bottle. Pedro: Yes, it’s for a case of 12. Me: Perfect. And that’s definitely in stock at the store by Washington Square? Pedro: Yep. Me: Great! Thanks.

I hang up the phone with Pedro and I can’t say I don’t have a bit of an uneasy feeling about the whole thing. I really didn’t get the impression that he was clear on what I was asking for, but he did confirm - twice - that the stuff I was looking for was at the store by me. I decided to make the trip.

It took about a half hour to get there. I got in the store, did a cursory check, and I didn’t see anything. I then went to a “sales associate” to ask where I could find it.

“Bawls Guarana? We haven’t carried that for a while. Sorry.”

Mother fuckers! I can’t believe this shit. I mean, looking back on it, I guess I should know better than to even try to deal with CompUSA, but I couldn’t resist the idea that my beverage was within purchaseable reach.

It’s a good thing that guy was behind a counter or I’d have kicked him squarely in the shins.

So, no Bawls Guarana for me. ThinkGeek lets you order cases, but the shipping is a killer and brings the price of the drink up to $2.10 per 10oz. bottle, a little rich for my blood. I guess I’ll keep looking.