Monthly Archives: January 2008

Comeback Kid Jr? Or Wannabe?

I typically don’t pay attention to the Presidential race until the Conventions, but this race is unique.  As it is well known, the DEMS have produced two candidates who will make history regardless of who wins the primary.  Obama is the first black to win a caucus and is beating the former First Lady in key states.  Now, if the Clinton MoJo is working, Hillary will roar back and take the Left Coast and get the nod from the DEM delegates.  One thing that has hurt Senator Clinton is  the fact that the Kennedys have endorsed Senator Obama.  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/28/us/politics/28kennedy.html?em&ex=1201669200&en=e799ff05bbf92f47&ei=5087%0A
 
That had to hurt.
 
The Kennedys are hoping to be seen with a black to bolster their "Civil Rights" resume, even if they believe Obama will lose.  What will be truly interesting is if Hillary ends up winning, what she will tell Teddy and Co….
 
Either way….the South will have its say.  I will be extremely surprised if the South votes for Obama.  South Carolina is heavily black.  Alabama and Mississppi, may be different.  And no matter who wins, who will they choose as a running mate?  There ain’t NO WAY the US is gonna elect a Black AND a woman to run the country.  Nope.  No way.  Ain’ta gonna happen.  In either configuration.  Take it as the seventh sign if it happens.

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Filed under Politics

My gym is taking it to the next level!

When I moved here to the Seattle area, I needed to find a club/gym to belong to as I am a pretty active person.  I chose ProClub since it is one of the clubs where Microsoft will pay the membership fee. I previously blogged on this club comparing it to my club back in Phoenix.  ProClub has definitely upped its level in being about fitness with the opening of its "Performance Center".  Nice place!
 
PerformanceBlackTurfPerformanceFrontdeskPerformanceGreenTurf
 
As you may or may not know, I am a triathlete.  With the opening of the Performance Center (PC), they also created training for endurance sports specifically.  When I arrived at the club I was handed a flyer for the new Triathlete Training program that they started.  OOOOHHH….then reason woke me up:  Talk to your doctor.  I can’t believe I actually should *have* to do that, but I will.  Hopefully he’ll give me the OK.

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Filed under Health and wellness

The Dumbest question of the Day

Trying to pay my cable bill online.  System is down so they forward me to a "Chat Representative".  Hmmmmm.
 
"How may I help you?"
"I’d like to pay my bill, but the online system is down"
"I’m sorry for the inconvenience…."
 
The Rep continues by asking me pertinent information; name, account number, security question, blah blah blah
 
"Thank you, sir…..Mr Taylor, I’m sorry but our system is down.  Please call 1-800-Comcast."  Then he asked the absolute most stupid question: "Is there something else I can help you with?"
 
If I came to pay a bill and you can’t do it because the system is down…WTF else can you do for me?  Are you kidding me???
 
Bonehead.
 
 
 

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Filed under Daily Life

Lost Friend now Lost Colleague

So.

Let’s put everything in chronological order, not only to give context, but to help some readers "connect the dots" for when the flames shall surely come.  This is not defamation.  This is stating fact and attempting to redeem my own reputation and ability to recognize talent.  This entry is about airing out the stench of resentment and an attempt to right a wrong.

Yes, this entry may contain excerpts of "private" conversations via chat or email or face-to-face conversation.  So what?  They happened to me and I’m posting them on MY blog.

 

OCTOBER 2007

I get a request from a colleague that is looking for a presenter on a couple of SharePoint Dev topics.  I ask if this person is interested. 

I ask, "I’m assuming you are a great (not just good) presenter"  — I ask because this is a Microsoft conference with MCTs as the delegates.  Being just a "good" presenter is a recipe for failure.

The person says, "i am an excellent presenter"  — I take the person at their word.  I know for a fact the person is regularly asked to MC cultural events and high profile community engagements.  Being in front of a crowd is no big thing.  I also know this person is a SharePoint Dev person as we both worked at the same client.  I surmise that presenting SharePoint topics should be easy for this person.

I say, "cool. I talked you up, so…go out there and ‘wow’ them"

Here is the operative quote:  The person says, "Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that.  it’s for both mine and your reputation.  i assure you.  i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D"

So then when the person is confirmed to go, I get a IM from my colleague that says, "If [the person] doesn’t perform well, I’ll simply blame it on you".  I share this comment.  I want to ensure that the person is fully informed and aware of the magnitude of the appointment to present at a Conference.

 

NOVEMBER 2007

Personal issues get in the way and a session that would have been co-presented is now my responsibility and the other person now only has two sessions to present instead of three.

 

DECEMBER 2007

"How are the slides coming?" I ask.

"All done.  There aren’t very many because I am doing all demos".

OK.  I figure that is probably OK and the person will be fine because, well, they are an "excellent presenter".

 

JANUARY 2008

We both arrive Sunday.  We go to dinner have a little discussion and then I get this, "I read your blog.  I see what you are saying about me.  It’s as if I’m  not a part of your life."  OK..I felt bad.  Never mentioned a name but it was obvious about whom it was written.  I am presented with a gift (yes, a gift) and a card that reads, (paraphrased) "You don’t know, but you have touched my life in many way and I want to thank you."  Pretty much addressing in a roundabout way the things I had been saying in my blog. 

Monday we go to breakfast and spend the day finalizing the slide decks.  Up all night, to the point the cleaning lady is kicking us out of the speaker lounge at 3:30am.  My session is at 8:30 the next morning, and it goes OK.  Their session is at 10:30-ish.  I hear grumblings about a horrible session.  Hmmm wonder who that could have been?  These presenters are good…some are great… who is sucking??  Maybe its just a cranky delegate.

I go back to the speaker lounge to finish work on my next presentation.  One of the coordinators comes in and asks me, "Hey…have you seen any of your friend’s presentations yet?"

"nope."  Been too busy and I have all the confidence in the world that everything is going well.

"Have you ever seen this person present?"

"ummm…no" Now I’m getting a little nervous.

"Why don’t you go sit in on the session for a bit and let me know what you think"

I’m not liking this.  Not at all.  So I go across the hall and sit in on the session.  When I get there, the presenter is sitting down and explaining something.  Performing a demo and it bombs.  No biggie, it happens.  An attempt is made to get it working, but it fails.  OK, so now the dance will begin to get it working.  Nope.  It’s left like that.  Presenter says, "We’re done".  No applause, just grumbling.  I look at my watch…uhhhmmmm this session still has about 30 minutes left.  Oh no…this isn’t happening.  I’m looking at the faces of the delegates as they leave.  One says, "What a waste of time.  It’s good I still can get 30 minutes somewhere useful."

I’m feeling sick to my stomach.  I go back to the lounge to finish my presentation.  Emails are flying.  Oh crap.  The coordinator says, "I’m REALLY worried about Redmond.  This person ain’t goin’ to Brazil…no way."

Flash forward to today:  one of the speakers who is doing the same presentations is called to go to Amsterdam and can’t present in Redmond.  I know of someone who could that has presented before and is an MVP on the subject.  I say to my colleague–"I know someone"

He says, "Come on Rick, you could not possibly recommend this person again. Their sessions in Berlin were embarrassing." My reputation is already damaged.

My mind goes back a few months to the comment, ""Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that.  it’s for both mine and your reputation.  i assure you.  i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D"  <sigh>…..

Summit finishes.  I send out an email:

ME: Have you received any feedback?

Response: Nope. THank goodness

 

ME: You’ll get them sooner or later.

Response: Dang it. I hope I will never get them.

 

ME:  It wouldn’t be fair to you.  Think of it as a report card/progress report.  There is much to learn from it.  Especially the comments.

Response: This report card is one I’d like to toss out. haha

 

OK, so the person knows they have had better days.  Fine, but to want to just forget about it?  Now’s the time to learn from it….emails go back and forth and it’s not clear to me whether the full magnitude is apparent to the person.  What the implications are of a failure this large.  We chat via IM:

Rick Taylor says: "if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently"
Rick Taylor says: that’s the magic question
Presenter says: do what
Rick Taylor says: anything
Rick Taylor says: MCT Summit
Rick Taylor says: school
Rick Taylor says: life
Presenter says: ok i really can’t talk about this at work
Presenter says: @ a client’s
Rick Taylor says: understood
Rick Taylor says: later
Presenter says: k 🙂 have a great day
Rick Taylor says: will do
Rick Taylor says: hey
Presenter says: what’s up
Rick Taylor says: just so we are clear…let’s agree to drop our defenses for this
Presenter says: k
Rick Taylor says: in Berlin, were you feeling OK?  Preoccupied or anything.  Any "pre-existing conditions"?
Presenter says: as in?
Rick Taylor says: if you had to give yourself a grade as to how you did—what grade would you give yourself?
Presenter says: horrible
Rick Taylor says: ok.  why
Presenter says: wasn’t prepared
Rick Taylor says: k.  Time crunch?
Presenter says: too much work
Rick Taylor says: ok
Rick Taylor says: misjudged the preparation needed?
Rick Taylor says: or just ran out of time
Presenter says: work @ work
Rick Taylor says: ok.  Just trying to put it in perspective in my own mind.  Taking the position of the advocate is not easy
Presenter says: i know.
Presenter says: sorry, it was my fault.
Rick Taylor says: not looking to point fingers (especially since four more are pointing back at me).
Rick Taylor says: I want you to be successful.  I feel as you do.  I do.
Presenter says: ;(maybe i’m not emotionally ready.
Rick Taylor says: ha!  Isn’t that *my* line
Presenter says: and i have too much on my plates
Rick Taylor says: yeah..you put a lot on your plate
Presenter says: alright i gotta run but be back in a while
Rick Taylor says: we need to finish…there’s more
Presenter says: let me know what i can do to help the situation.
Presenter says: well ok can you be quick
Presenter says: so i can catch all before i run
Rick Taylor says: no.
Rick Taylor says: let me know when you will MAKE time
Presenter says: after i come back
Presenter says: and i can not take calls during work
Rick Taylor says: ok
Rick Taylor says: later, then
Presenter says: via skype
Presenter says: k bye
Presenter says: alright
Presenter says: i’m back
Rick Taylor says: had a mtg
Rick Taylor says: now I’m going to the gym
Presenter says: k bye
Rick Taylor says: will you be online tonight?
Presenter says: hopefully
Rick Taylor says: ok.  would you schedule me in?
Rick Taylor says: late
Rick Taylor says: I get home about 8pm AZ time
Presenter says: i’ll hop online
Rick Taylor says: will unwind
Rick Taylor says: ok
Presenter says: k bye
Rick Taylor says: thx

OK, so the person is a little sensitive and tender about it.  But the fact still remains that two reputations are in the toilet and a simple apology via email (or phone) isn’t going to fix that. 

 

I send out another email:

Typing this from a cross trainer, please forgive typos…

First of all, no I dont want to do this via email, and you probably dont want to discuss it via phone–so lets chat tonight. I just wanted to give some context.

1. The people at the conference (david, etc) dont know you. I understand your workload and your propensity to do more than majority of mere mortals. Not a wise thing to do, but thats another topic.

2. Microsoft conferences require an immense level of preparation. And if the presenter doesn’t deliver there is hell to pay.

3. You are more than capable to deliver high caliber presentations. The question is whether or not you want to do that in the future. If not, let me know–we’ll part ways. Maybe you want to do real estate or simply pull away from IT. If, on the otherhand you want to give e it a go again I am more than willing and happy to be there helping you.

4. Tonight lets talk about how we win the current battle in front of us. If you dont know what I am referring to, I will enlighten you tonight.

5. Oh, and previous rules apply. Keep the emotions in check, please. This is strictly business.

TTYL

 

and I get this piece of email as a response:

Whatever that "hell" and "current battle" is, let me know so that I can start putting the fire out. I don’t see myself doing presentations in the forseeable future due to the many things I have on my plate and the possiblity of leaving the IT field for commercial RE, but thanks for always looking out for me.

 

So I log on and wait.  And wait…and wait…

<sigh>

OK…still clueless.  My response will be:

 

The "hell" and "current battle" cannot be put out with simple emails or phone calls.  It will require that which you are not able or willing to do.  The ONLY way is to do a good job the next time over and above everyone else.  Make the previous attempt appear as a fluke.  Since your interests lie elsewhere, your offer to put the fire out is moot.  It is easy to bow out when within a year you are nowhere to be seen.  The rest of us who remain for a year or two, who have had their judgement questioned bear the brunt of the damage.  No finger pointing, just that is a fact.

I draw your attention to a statement you made: 

"Rick, you will not need to have 2nd thoughts about that.  it’s for both mine and your reputation.  i assure you.  i’ll make sure you won’t be embarassed :D"

Thank you for being true to your word. (yes that was sarcastic). 

No need to respond to this email–yes I am a little perturbed, I’ll get over it.  And please don’t take this communication personally–I mean it.  I know how sensitive you are and your short temper…I’m not here to make you angry or hurt your feelings.  I’m not trying to condescend to you or anything of the sort.  I am only stating that what has happened has happened and its seriously hurt us both.  It will linger for a bit but hopefully everyone will forget.  It’s just that in the circle of presenting at conferences, the circle is small.

As for looking out for you–you’re welcome.  Just trying to give back opportunities that were given to me.  Good luck in Commercial RE and everything else!

</>

I am expecting a response.  (They are the type to want to always have the last word).  Probably terse…accusatory…and rife with emotional immaturity….oh well.

And so it goes…the closing of another chapter…..

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Sync early and sync often

So I return to work after having been away a week.  I start working on my high level design for an interforest hosted solution for the Business Data Catalog for large customers.  The customers have a need for SharePoint to pull and display data from SAP and/or Siebel.  I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into this project.  Just as my PM comes by my office he sees what I am doing.
 
"Why are you working on that?"
"uhhhh…it’s my HLD (high level design)"
"Yes, I can see that—why?…oohhh…you didn’t hear"
"What?"
"All of your features have been pulled.  Didn’t your manager tell you?"
 
Just then my manager comes by. 
"I thought you were going to sync with me when you got back from Berlin"
"uhhh..yeah..haven’t gotten around to it…OOPS"
 
That’ll learn me…
 
 

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Trip to Berlin

I have now returned from Germany.  It was a LONG week and it seemed an even LONGER plane flight; more on that later.

I was asked to present at the MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) Summit for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia) which was held in Berlin, Germany.  I presented in the first Summit which was held in Zurich last year, so to be asked to return is an HUGE honor.  I presented three sessions: one on Migrating from SharePoint 2003 to MOSS 2007, one on Using the SharePoint SDK in your training, and another on using Demos in your training.  I haven’t received any feedback as yet, but I think it will be OK.

 

I arrived in Berlin Sunday morning.  It was a long and somewhat frustrating flight.  As I was sitting on the floor at the Zurich airport waiting for my connecting flight to Berlin, I notice that there is ONE…*ONE* AC outlet in the whole area.  WHAT THE $##@$%^$% is wrong with this world?  AC outlets need to be EVERYWHERE!  EVERYWHERE; MULTIPLE times.  Bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, AIRPORTS!! I have ranted over and over about how the US airports SUCK on this issue and here I am across the pond and the same dang issue is here.  *SIGH*. 

The hotel in Berlin was nice.  There was a "Bear Garden" in one of the foyers and each bear represented a country.

DSCN0269

The opening of the conference was great.  The production is definitely getting more and more professional.  At the reception, there were the usual suspects and then the following day, the sessions were in full swing.

 

DSCN0284 

DSCN0275

 

On Monday, we took a tour through Berlin to visit the sites; Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, etc.  Even at night you could still see the sites.  It was cold that night but I managed to stay still enough to have a picture taken. Right next to the gate is where the new US Embassy is being constructed.

BerlinJan2008_026

On Thursday I after the conference was over myself and another speaker went to Dresden.  Great historic scenery there.  I knew the Allied Forces brought Germany to their knees, but I didn’t realize the total destruction of that city was, in fact, total.  It burned for 5 DAYS…I remember the LA riots, which burned the city for two days.  and that was MAJOR…I can’t imagine a large city of that scale burning for that long.

I rented a vehicle and got to drive on the famed "Autobahn".  I had heard you can drive as fast as you want, so I wanted to test that theory.  I started out pretty conservative (120 kph), and got passed like I was standing still.  So I put the pedal to the metal and let it fly!  It was hard to drive and take this picture at the same time…I will never be able to only drive 75 again.

 

autobahn2

I took lots of photos in Dresden, so I won’t post them here, but in the albums folder on this blog.  My colleague and I went on a 22 stop tourist bus ride through the city and learned a lot about the history, and see a lot of what has been done since the bombing in 1945 when most of the city was destroyed by Allied bombs in WWII.

DSCN0345

All in all, a good trip.  I’m a little sick of sitting on planes though. 

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Filed under Travel

The decline of American infrastructure

A few months ago, I remember hearing about a bridge that collapsed in Minnesota.  The Corps of Engineers went out and said that the bridge had been overdue for an overhaul.  They went further to say that only 20% of ALL the bridges in the United States had been up to date in inspections.  I find that alarming.  In the wake of Katrina and the levee breaking in New Orleans I ponder the degradation of our physical infrastructure.  It’s a shame. 

So what brought this on; what caused me to think of this…I’m currently in IAD (travelers know exactly where I am).  This airport, like the majority in this country have very little (if any) AC outlets.  This is frustrating.  Aggravating.  Infuriating.  How can it be that the advent of the web and interconnectivity have not caused a rehaul of something as simple as putting in more outlets in a busy airport?  You may say, "But Rick, you have no idea how much that will cost or disrupt the status quo….)  HOGWASH! spend the money.  If you need an operation, you don’t worry about the cost if you need it.  There should be power strips along the walls looking out at the runways.  Now, all airports are not bad.  SLC actually has an area with AC outlets, unfortunately it’s right next to the smoking area.  I expect major airports to cater to the business traveler and make it more convenient to work.  the lounges are nice, but if you are flying First Class or want to pay a fee for that, then what?  Restaurants are nice; everyone needs to eat, but MOST people nowadays need to stay connected and AC outlets helps them stay connected longer.

I am monopolizing the one free working outlet on the wall where I am.  I have my laptop plugged in and an external hard drive.  if they had power strips, I wouldn’t be such a bad citizen.

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Filed under News and politics

You don’t meet a legend every day…

As I get on the plane in Dallas heading back home to Seattle, I notice an older gentleman to my right sitting across the aisle from me.  He is wearing a black hat with a clover on it with the number 6 on it.  I start thinking to myself, "This guy looks like….."  I look down at his legs to see if I’m dreaming and sure enough this guy must be almost 7 feet tall.  I start freaking out because I’ve met several celebrities but no one as big as this (physically or historically).  I’m not kidding…this guy is probably one of the most prominent sports figures there is.  Just to give you an idea; he has more championship rings than ANY athlete.  Bar NONE. Wilt Chamberlain might have more points, but he only has 2 rings.  Bill has 11.  yeah, exactly; and in 13 seasons.

I ask him if I can get a picture of him after we land and he declines.  I apologize for bothering him and says, "It’s OK".  I immediately flash back to 2005 when I met on the pane a lesser player (Charles Barkley)who also declined.  These guys must SERIOUSLY be mugged for photos for them to be so adamant about not being photographed with an admirer.  It would seem, though, that Mr. Russell who has been out of circulation for years would be a little more accommodating. 

Part of me wanted to get my webcam out and just snap a pic and put it up here–but I want to be nice about it.  It’s not every day that you meet a legend.

I quickly discovered that I didn’t have to battle with my feelings.  The guy sitting in front of him sneaks a camera pic of him.  As we were getting off the plane, I give him my card with cell phone number and ask him to "share the wealth".  He winks at me and says, "No problem!"

imagejpeg_1 BRussell

It was funny watching the people come on to the plane.  I could immediately tell who was a sports fan:  the ones that stared at him.  To a couple of guys that stared and glanced over at me, I nodded and said "Yup."  They grinned and said "I thought so!"

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Accomplishing a goal…

Being stuck in Seattle for the winter can make one a little depressed.  The trip to Suriname was just what the doctor ordered!  I don’t particularly enjoy not having conveniences, but the weather alone was marvelous and I forgot about not being able to do what I want when I want.  Even to get a KVM working required a fair amount of engineering.  The Tech guy comes up with an idea that he can do it with the two laptops, neither of which has a PS2 connection, if he yanks a PS2 component out of a PC and wires it to a 5V phone adapter we can hook it up to a KVM switch and vóila!

DSCN0166 DSCN0168

 

The session went well, all the demos worked and there were lots of good questions being asked.  Lunch was held in a nice place!

DSCN0176

It overlooked the Suriname river and had a nice Caribbean breeze some through.  After the sessions were over, it was time to get some work done for the office.  I worked the whole night trying to get my test results in.  I got a little stressed out and after a few hours, I went to bed.  I had to get up the next morning at 4am.  I don’t remember if I slept much, as I had a lot on my mind.

I learned to just relax and enjoy, which is hard for me to do.  The Bigi Broki Waka helped me as well.  I couldn’t run and had to walk; SLOWLY as there were over 6000 people participating.

DSCN0201  Yeah…a WHOLE LOTTA PEOPLE.

 

Actually the 10K run would have been right up my alley, except the doctor has advised me against that for now.  I wanted to do the walk distance jogging but the sheer number of people made that impossible.  I had all dressed up for the occasion, too: 

DSCN0182 

After the "run", it was time to spend some time relaxing at the pool.  I went to the resort’s restaurant and had a coconut, Zurrzak, filet of beef, and some…stuff…don’t know what it was–but it was OK.

DSCN0218 DSCN0221

 

In the airport I was looking for my new favorite drink called ZurrZak.  It’s white liquid that has a unique taste that I relish.  When I got to one of the airport stores, I asked if they had ZurrZak.  The said, "Of course!" and handed me this:

ZurrZak

ummmmmm…no.  I want the drink–I said.  They scratched their collective heads and said, "OH…you want ZurrZak!"  Ok…maybe my American accent threw them off.  "You have to go downstairs to get that."  This coming from these guys (Moe, Larry, and Curly-respectively):

DSCN0230 I don’t know what Larry and Curly got goin’ on with the "hand jive" thing….but I didn’t ask. 

 

All in all, it was a pretty good trip although I caught a lot of flak about it (WAY TOO MUCH)–I’ll live, but it hurt.

At least I can say that I have accomplished one of my goals for 2008 (Visit a country to which I’ve never been).  I went to TWO!  (Suriname and Trinidad&Tobago).

 

 

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They say bad luck comes in threes…

Well in the past two months I have had at LEAST my share of "Threes"

All of them can be summed up with one word:  STUCK

I was stuck in November my last day in Barcelona.  A week later on my road trip home from Phoenix to Seattle, the vehicle I was driving broke down and I was STUCK in Utah. A week and a half later I was diagnosed with PE and got STUCK every 5 hours for something (blood draw, Lovenox, IV, you name it).

and NOW…I go in for a "routine" physical and the doctor says, "Hmmmm…you are over 40 and need the prostate test"….great…STUCK AGAIN….

He keeps checking me out and looks into my ears…"Hmmmmm….you have a lot of wax build up in there…let me have Nurse Ratchet come in and fix that for you."  She STICKS what functionally acts like a firehose but with an end the width of a hypodermic needle into my ear.  Far enough where I almost thought it was coming out the other ear.  Did it hurt?  Stick a hypodermic needle into your eardrum and then flush a soapy water/peroxide mixture at the speed of sound and the with force of the Hoover Dam.  Oh, and guess how many times they had to do it?  yup.  3.

 

Here’s to hoping three sets of three are enough.

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