Seattle – If you have a stupid idea, stick to it!
Just came back from a short trip to Seattle and have to say it’s a really nice city. Nice skyline, not to large, interesting architecture, a lot of green areas inside and around. Felt a bit like a mixture of San Francisco and New Orleans with a lot of musicians in the inner city. And by trend a lot more people are friendly. Even at the airport.
The first impression you get if flying to the US is the Border Protection and their “Security Officers”. On my first trip to the US a couple years ago I made the mistake of giving some “cheeky” answers to those incredibly stupid questions they ask and had to learn that this is a really, really, really bad idea. This bad idea brought me an additional 2 hours at the airport. Well sometimes I’m at least a bit adaptive so I try to stay as polite as long as I can now if entering the US.
Astonishingly getting into Seattle was pretty painless. I had a really nice chat with the security officer and while looking around most of them seemed to have a little smile in their face and stayed fair. Why not always this way? Sure it’s just their job, but is it that hard to at least stay fair/friendly/open. It’s not necessary to be treated as the worlds most dangerous and unwanted person when entering the US. Be sure, most of them don’t even want to go to the US, they have to. Same as you have to ask your questions. So let’s bypass this time in a human manner.
But I have to say, this trip to Seattle also confirmed a prejudice a lot of people have about US citizens. They are sometimes taking hardly traceable decisions. If you have the chance take “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour” that will guide you through the “Underground” of Seattle. Well, that “Underground” has been the ground level of Seattle as it has been founded. But founding a city at more or less sea-level isn’t really the best idea. So they suffered from some problems with the drainage and sewage. Imagine you have to schedule your time on the toilet depending on the tides so the unwanted stuff is not taking the wrong direction? 😉
Anyway at the end of the 18th century a great fire destroyed some 25 square blocks of mostly wooden buildings in the heart of Seattle. So they decided to rise up from the muck of the original streets and built retaining walls of eight feet or more on either side of the old streets, filled in the space between the walls and paved over the fill to effectively raise the streets, making them one story higher then the old sidewalks that still ran alongside them.
Building owners, eager to capitalize on an 1890s economic boom, quickly rebuilt on the old, low, muddy ground where they had been before, unmindful of the fact that their first floor display windows and lobbies soon would become basements. (Read the full story at http://www.undergroundtour.com/about/history.html).
Our Tour Guide said this was kind of Seattle’s Motto: If you have a stupid idea, stick to it! And gave a lot other examples that made me agree with her. So if you have the chance it takes about 2 hours and it’s worth it 🙂
Well but what did I do in Seattle? Actually I won a deployment contest from Microsoft (see http://www.microsoft.com/germany/aktionen/deploy-win/default.aspx for the contest page) and they invited me to meet Mark Russinovich. For me, this was the main reason for taking part in this marketing event because Mark is one of those guys I look up to since my first baby steps in this IT landscape. He has written so many incredibly useful tools and shared so much in-depth information with us. There are not many others on that level. A good friend of mine said “Wonder how geeky he is” as I told him about this trip and I have to say, I asked myself the same question. But had to see that he is one of the most grounded, polite, and simply nice person I ever had the honor to meet. Despite the fact that he moved into a new position and building on that day he took half an hour of his time to have a really nice chat with me. Mark, even if you probably never read this, I really appreciate this and thanks for your time. It was an honor meeting You!
Before I met Mark, I also had the pleasure to meet Jeremy Chapman, one of the driving forces behind a lot of Deployment initiatives available today from Microsoft. Surprisingly he speaks an almost fluent German with just a tiny bit of an accent. We were talking about some deployment topics and problems for about an hour or so. And I might say that he is working on some quite nice solutions that are about to be released soon, while I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say anything about so I keep it for now and will get back to this as soon as they are available. Anyway, he showed us also some funny commercial-like videos he made with some kids in regards to this “I’m a PC” initiative. (I never got what they are trying to tell me there. Copying the Mac idea to a PC doesn’t work! Microsoft, you have a couple really good marketing people, why do you tend to ignore those and publish stuff that nobody, even your own employees doesn’t understand?). So be sure to attend his next couple of sessions. They are going to be very interesting and funny 😉
I also tried to meet Michael Niehaus but he was clever enough to escape in time. 🙂
Finally thanks to Thorsten Stockmann from Microsoft Germany who went with me on this trip and spent most of his weekend with me sneaking around Seattle. I had a really great time and enjoyed the trip very much. I still suffer a bit from travelling back and forth 9 time zones within a few days but it was definitely worth it.