Steve’s Report, 07-01-2010, 08:30pm

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My life seems to divide easily into clearly defined periods. The break of the last four months, from March 3 through June 30, is the latest clearly defined “period.” Before that, a three year span starting with my return to the Seattle area in March of 2007 (after ten months in North Carolina) and ending with the start of the just concluded break is a well-defined “period,” characterized by particular things going on during that time. Just prior to that three year period was the ten months in North Carolina, from May 2006 through February 2007. The “eras” of my life are usually well punctuated. Sometimes the “eras” only show up in retrospect… other times, the punctuation is clear and in the present. This week I’ve checked out of the little RV park that has been home for four months, I’ve ended a break between work contracts, and I’ve started a new contract at Microsoft. And Ai-chan moved back to Japan.

I started work on a new Microsoft contract today. I’ve hired back on with the same team I worked with during my previous contract, though the project has changed from Media Center testing to Zune testing. The break between contracts turned out to be 120 days. I spent all but three of those days pleasantly based in the Trailer Inns RV Park along I-90 in Bellevue. As mentioned in previous reports, I choose not to travel, but to work on personal projects. Looking back over the projects of the last 120 days – which mostly revolved around the website – I can say that I was able to devote a lot of time to those projects. What it all amounts to is a good question, but I was able to put a lot of time into it. In retrospect, the 120 days flew by with astonishing quickness. It seems but a few days ago that the break was beginning and I was setting up the new laptop and refurbishing the old laptop for FiddleHead’s use. Those daily chess games with Ai-chan back in the cool, rainy days of March seem like only last week, not three months ago.

As I write, Japan Airlines Flight 17 with Ai-chan onboard is about an hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo’s Narita airport. I dropped Ai-chan off at the Seattle airport almost 24 hours ago for her long trip back to Japan. Click here to view the Photo-Journal entry for Ai’s last day in the US. I told Ai-chan many times that when they made her, they threw away the mold, and her departure has created a huge void in my little world. Nature abhors a void, I know, and something will fill it. But right now, as Ai-chan approaches Japanese airspace, I’m feeling a big empty space. Another era, come and gone…

That’s my report…

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Steve’s Report, 06-11-2010, 09:45am

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I’ve continued my stay in the Bellevue RV park, mostly working on personal projects – mostly the web site and blog.

This morning I’m following the story of the girl – Abby Sunderland – adrift in the Indian Ocean. This young sailor is trying to sail around the world in a small boat. The mast of her boat came down in a storm and 20 hours of silence followed. The young sailor has now been spotted by search planes and rescue boats are on the way.

Yesterday was the 100th day of my 100 day required break-in-service from Microsoft, and on that very day I signed a contract for a new assignment at Microsoft which will begin on July 1. I’ll be going back for another stint with the old team in the Media Center group, and I’m mighty happy about it.

My friend Ai-chan will be returning to Japan on June 30 after studying in the Seattle area for several years. Ai has been my buddy for more than 3 years now and things will certainly be a little different when she’s gone. Many of the international students that I’ve met over the last couple of years have been though Ai… Aya, Kanako, Keiko, Ayaka, Chihiro…  This past Sunday evening a “coffee” at Starbucks and dinner at Red Robin was enjoyed, with Ai-chan and some of her new friends – Ayumi, Yukari, Maki, and Saki. Speaking of Kanako… Kanako (who returned to Japan back in March) asked me to meet and be “tour guide” for her friend “Katakana” during Katakana’s 10 hour layover in Seattle. So, on Tuesday of this week I met Katakana at SeaTac Airport while she was on her way to Toronto to take an exam for her upcoming graduate studies. I took Ai-chan along with me and we had a nice time showing Katakana some of the sights around Bellevue and Seattle.

During this 100 day break the sun breaks have been few and far in between. The temperatures have remained cool with rain nearly every day. The heater is on this morning, as has been the case every morning so far this season. The Seattle Times confirmed the pattern a couple of days ago:

The official Seattle temperature has yet to reach 75 this year, making it the slowest start to the sunny season on record.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012074375_weather10m.html

The previous record was in 1991, when the temperature didn’t reach 75 until June 9.

That’s my report…

Steve’s Report, 05-31-2010, 10:00am

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It’s been almost 13 weeks since my most recent contract at Microsoft ended. 90 days. Three days into the break I checked in to a little RV park beside I-90 in Bellevue and here I’ve remained comfortably based ever since, having not left the Seattle area the whole time. The RV park has a nice hot tub and pool, and the Bally Gym is just across the freeway. I can walk down to the grocery store, a steak house, a Thai restaurant, a coffee shack, a Korean barbecue, and an ice cream shop. I’ve been able to keep Bigfoot parked a lot more than is usually my way.

I started this break with vague notions of travel, but instead, I’ve stayed put and worked at catching up on personal projects, including my website. I’ve had lunch with former co-workers nearly every week, attended the Cascade Mountain Man Show and a Vietnamese wedding, picked fiddleheads, and worked on those personal projects. After two weeks in the shop my bicycle was restored to good-as-new condition and I’ve enjoyed riding the hills around this part of Bellevue. Some days I’ve had visitors, some days I’ve worked at the laptop and barely stepped outside.

The weather’s been mostly cool and fairly wet, with plentiful late season snow in the nearby mountains (which on clear days I can see from this place). Today is May 31st, Memorial Day, the first weekend of the Summer season, and there hasn’t been a day yet without the heat being on for at least a little bit. But I’m not complaining about that.

That’s my report…