Monthly Archives: August 2008

Seattle: The First Weekend

My first weekend living in Seattle is drawing to a close and as the sun very, very slowly sets I figured I’d give a wee status report.

Right now I’m living in an apartment provided so nicely by Microsoft in an area of downtown Seattle called Belltown in a place The Shelby. It’s a fairly modern, clean, 1 bedroom place with a kitchen and dinning nook that fits two people rather well. Fully furnished though someone should talk to whomever outfitted this place, we need more towel racks, seriously people. Towel racks.

The area is pretty much full of hipster kids, upscale restaurants, hidden gems, halfway houses and the fire station. Lot’s of scooters go zipping around the place as well so scooter mania has hit here hard as well. I can walk five blocks into the heart of downtown, six blocks and I’m in the famous Pike’s Market, three blocks to a killer Mediterranean restaurant, eight blocks to the Puget Sound waterfront and most importantly one block to my new favorite watering hole, Two Bells. From the front door I can see the Space Needle just a few blocks away.

First, the food. The food here is amazing, we have yet to eat at a bad place in downtown Seattle. First day lunch was at the Zeitoon Cafe where I had a killer panini, dinner at a great sushi place that had items I’ve never seen before plus three Japanese business men were dinning which is always a good sign. Next night was pizza at Serious Pie, a small, quaint upscale pizzeria where everyone sits at shared tables while enjoying entirely unique appetizers and pizzas. A warning though for my purist friends (Jeremy, I’m looking at you) there is no classic New York or Chicago style pizza on the menu so I’m still on a quest for the best New York slice in Seattle. Tonight’s dinner was at Two Bells, a bar & grill that captured my heart and stomach. Low-key, no pretension bar & grill with killer hamburgers, Guinness on tap and a great mix of people from tattoo’d lasses to couples in Dockers. It’s only a block away from The Shelby and has a high probability of becoming my favorite local watering hole. Kevin, Billy, Ben, Sean, this is where we’d meet for a pint after work. I wish like hell we could.

The weather has been great, only the smallest amount of rain, comfortable temps and sunshine. In fact the first day here I was missing our nice AC unit back in Colorado. Even downtown there are trees everywhere and when walking by Bell & 4th (one block over) you can look right down to the Sound, or turn your head a bit and on a clear day make out the mountains. All in all it’s a beautiful city and I can see why so many people love it. I’ll report back tomorrow about the traffic though, I’m sure all these people equals one huge traffic problem of evil.

In fact I’m surprised there is no cohesive public transportation. There are a half dozen small networks but nothing like the London Underground or D.C. subway system. A nice gentleman on the plane who bought be my Jack & Ginger attributed this to all the tree huggers who quite literally can’t bare to part with a single tree to make way for unified light rail or subway system. It’s the classic curse of the West, since it was developed so much later than the East more people could afford personal transport and so the need was never as great. Plus the West wasn’t exactly settled by socialites and debutantes so finding a nice communal way for everyone to get around probably wasn’t on the top of any of these anti-social explorer’s lists.

This is my first time as a true Urbanite, living downtown, walking to the local market (Ralph’s), being able to stumble home from the bar (Two Bells), walking to the bus for work (The 545 Express), hitting up the clubs (I hear them at night so I know they’re around) and generally enjoying not having to fire up the car or spend money on gas to get to 90% of what I need to. I’m sure once the constant rain and snow hits I won’t be whistling such a merry little tune but I’ll let the city court me a little while longer.

It still feels surreal, like I’m on some huge extended vacation and that I’m just staying in a suite at some hotel for awhile but I have a feeling after tomorrow that illusion will come crashing down. A few days of work I’m sure will bring me right back down to Earth :)

Full Disclosure

It’s all about the snappy opening line, watch any classic movie from the 40′s and you’ll realize the importance of the opening line. If you need some evidence check out ‘His Girl Friday‘, at least the first 20 minutes, for some of what I consider some of the back & forth dialog around. Of course the classic for lines from the 40′s is arguably ‘Casablanca‘ and if you’ve never seen it you owe it to yourself to watch it with a bottle and some friends, you’ll be amazed at how many lines come from just that one movie.

The point, if I must make one, is that I’ve been trying to figure out a snappy black and white, soft focus opening line that says, “Well kids, seems the Universe has called my bluff and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to Microsoft.” Starting August 11th, 2008 I’ll be an official Microsoft employee working as a program manager on the Silverlight team in Seattle, WA.

I’m not sure exactly what that means except that I hear rumors from my new boss Shawn Burke that it’s something to do with controls and being open and agile and designing these fancy little usability bundles of love. Even though my title says “Program Manager” I have a feeling I’m still going to be very code heavy, since code is and always will be my #1 passion and I’ll do everything I can to make sure I’m still slinging lines of code on a daily basis like a monkey flings poo. They probably won’t be the production lines of code but that’s OK, I can finally admit that while I think my coding kung fu is deadly I have this odd tendency to drop a project once I figure out the core problem. After that it’s just typing and I get a much bigger thrill out of problem solving than solution implementing.

Oddly enough the whole Silverlight mumbo-jumbo isn’t what I want to talk about (though I’m sure I will soon enough), it’s the uprooting of my life from Denver, CO to Seattle, WA. It’s leaving a job I worked at for 14 years, where I had a team of friends that were more like brothers that oddly enough gave me free rein to try out any crazy design idea that popped into my head. It’s leaving friends that I could count on for anything from making me iced coffee to helping me tow a clutchless car home from Lusk, Wyoming and everything in between. A huge family, aye, more a clan, that made every family gathering something to be looked forward to rather than dreaded, with everything from some of the best food you’ve ever tasted to Irish step-dancing to smoking Blues to ballet to a nephew that’s obsessed with any kind of construction equipment, preferably in ‘Tear Shit Up’ yellow. To all those still in Denver I love you, dearly and deeply.

I will miss Denver, the people, friends, family, the exploding cultural scene, the moments that can’t be captured over XBox Live, and yet I’m also excited to be in Seattle, at Microsoft, trying something new, creating new stories, meeting new people, finding new dive bars, playing host to all my visiting friends and family, bringing whatever it is I am to Microsoft (which is usually only bad singing and a love of strong drink) and generally starting a new chapter in my life.

Today is my first day in Seattle, let the adventure begin!