I'm at the airport waiting for flight AC205 to Vancouver then another hop down to Seattle for the Summit. I have to hand it to Air Canada for the check-in process. It's a slick set of machines that you walk up to, insert a credit card and get your boarding pass and whatnot printed out for you. Took all of about 10 minutes to get through it and checked my bag in then I was off. Sometimes you can upgrade your seat or whatever, which I was hoping to do, but guess the flight is filled up. In any case, it's a great way to check in and gives me that little shot of nerdrenaline in the morning that we geeks need.
Getting through customs was easy, as usual. Hey guys, this is Calgary and while we do call it an "International" airport, expect to show up about an hour (tops) before your flight at any time during the day. I'm planning on doing a lot of traveling this year as I now have clients down in the States to nuture and pamper so the Aeroplan guy convinced me that $120 a year is a good thing to for their plan. Seems like a good deal and it was after I had my morning coffee at Timmy's so why not.
I was waiting at the terminal and looking at the no smoking sign everywhere but there were a ton of places to buy tobacco at the shops. This doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me but okay, I'll go with it (there are some places in the food area sectioned off like a glass house where you can toke up). A guy who was obviously going to head into smoke land asked me if I had a lighter. What the hell? Why do smokers never have lighters? You're a smoker, isn't that the main tool for your habit? You need two things as a smoker, a cigarette and a way to product flame. You ever see anyone with asthma borrow an inhaler? I don't think so. Some peoples kids.
I'm staying at the Crowne Plaza (Room 2055). I'm planning on hooking up with Al Dunbar at Seattle to share a ride with him and his daughter. Also picked up the required items for the flight, a tin of Tim Horton coffee for our ex-Canadian MVP Lead and a keychain Calgary for someone who's collecting them at the Summit (sorry, can't remember who so hopefully we'll hook up before the weekend). As odd as it may sound, I collect sand from various places in the world (my secret plan to build my own beach) so hopefully there are a few people at the summit that are going to be bringing me a sample. The security I hear at the Summit is pretty tight if you're not an MVP and with all the NDA stuff going on, as I said, this may just be a series of horrible blogs on Bil's Adventure in Microsoft Land with pictures of drunk MVPs and homeless Seatle people (or drunk Seattle people and homeless MVPs, whichever works for you). Feel free to change the channel to something more interesting.
The weather looks great for take-off here in Cowtown but I don't have any WiFi access at the airport so can't check to see what's going on in Seattle. I really think it would be great if they just provided free WiFi at all airports and not for certain customers (Telus Mobily customers get it free, but I'm on another plan). Really is it that hard to make us geeks happy when we're stuck sitting around for a couple of hours? It's not like we're going to be downloading the latest Brad Pitt movie on our laptops at the airport are we? Oh well. Someday. I did however buy a new Brookstone umbrella (complete with light up handle for the nerd factor) coming back from PDC just in case it's wet down there.
They just paged Mr. Douglas MacArthur to the desk. Can't wait to see old iron guts show up. I thought he was dead but guess the heroes don't die, they just wander aimlessly through the Calgary airport looking for their luggage. I'm off to find Elvis and Jim to see if they want to jam.
Takeoff was good. I missed a great photo-op with the downtown core being lit by the morning sun and the Rocky Mountains in the background while water flowed off the window. Oh well. The Rocky Mountains look awesome, as always, and even more so at 10,000 feet as the snow covers the tops now. It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are when they get onto a plane. I mean, how freakin' hard is it to find your seat? The seats are clearly labeled (at least IMHO) with the row and what letter is the window seat. Watching everyone board no less than 3 groups were in the wrong seat with 1 not even near the right row (they were 3 rows off and on the wrong side). Is it that much to ask for people to learn their ABCs and 123s by now? The flight is pretty thin and I lucked out to have an empty seat next to me so nobody bumping my elbow as I update the blog.
I can't see anyone else on the flight I know but I'm sure there were some coming from T.O., Edmonton, and Calgary on here. Maybe I could scream "MVP Rocks!" at the top of my lungs and see if anyone looks. I could always chalk it up to Tourettes if the air people ask. Well, I have my dorky MVP badge around my neck so that's about as dorky as I can get for someone to spot me. The upside is that if I get lost (say in a bar or something) you can just drop me in a mailbox and hopefully they'll return me to the SharePoint group in Redmond (wouldn't that be a neat package to get at the office eh Fitz?).
I do find that I'm just going to have to change to business class (and why is it called business class now instead of first class? to ease the blow to those in the "hospitality class" so they don't think they're second class. That's just plain dumb). At least in
first business class, my extra deep laptop won't dig into my gut as I type. It's great that they have a nice wrist area for the new laptops, but now you need an extra deep seat (which you definately do not get in second hospitality class) just to open the damn thing.
So I rolled into Vancouver airport without incident and met up with Eric from Winnipeg and Al Dunbar from Edmonton (whom I setup a ride to the hotel with). The flight was short from Vancouver to Seattle on board a tiny prop plane which isn't much bigger than a SUV (but probably uses up a little more fuel). Didn't we invent some technology called the jet engine back in the 50s or something? We hit Seattle and checked into the hotel. The hotel I'm staying at (The Crowne Plaza) is quite nice (trust me, anything where the shower head is at eye level is bonus in my books) with the room being nice and roomy. You can reach me in room 2055 if you're looking for me. Feel free to drop by sometime. It was interesting to find a package with ear plugs, a face mask, and a hypno-CD that I can play on my Sony "Dream Machine". Guess they figure we're going to be so burnt out from the day we need it to relax (either that or the CD is actually subliminal messages telling us to buy more Microsoft product). It was also interesting to find movies that are still in the theatre (like War of the Worlds) available for $13 on my TV set. In any case, check out the pics in my Flickr site for more goodness.
The summit, well, is fantastic. It's going to be bloody exhaustive the next few days so expect more long dribbly blogs from me at the end of the night. I grabbed a short bus ride (30 minutes) from the hotel to the Microsoft Campus. Oh boy is the campus impressive. It's a proverbial city unto itself, with buildings all over each unique in architectureal design. Very, very slick. After registration I had planned to hit the Employee store and stock up on my Linux posters, but networking took it's toll and I hooked up with some great people that I've been reading their blogs for months now. It's truely awesome to put words to faces and great to meet people like Michael Greth from Germany in person (watch for a MVP Summit podcast from him soon). Like PDC, this event is huge with over 1500 MVPs in attendance and 1200 Microsquishy employees catering to our every need. Pure magic.
So it's off to a dinner and drinking and whatever gutter I end up in tonight. At least this trip I still have the same camera I started with. Catch you guys tommorow.