April 28, 2009

High Five!

Posted in work at 10:47 am by Michael

Choice 5

Choice 5

The voting:

#5: 47

#4: 29

#2: 28

#1: 25

#3: 5

The comment stream would seem to agree – its #5!

Thanks to all of you who voted, I have my new corp bio picture.

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April 24, 2009

VOTE: New Corporate Bio Picture

Posted in work at 1:46 pm by Michael

I had new corp bio pictures today… Faithful friends and readers, I need help!

Please click on your favorite to vote! Remember, this is *corporate*… for when I’m all pro-fo and stuff.

Choice 1

Choice 1

Choice 2

Choice 2

Choice 3

Choice 3

Choice 4

Choice 4

Choice 5

Choice 5

 Thanks in advance for your help!

December 19, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Posted in humor, work at 7:36 am by Michael

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

There was a manager at Microsoft who over the years many of my friends and I worked with and for.

He had a certain way with words.

His collected sayings were known as “The Pearls of Wisdom”.

Malapropisms? Blindingly obvious? Wise?

You decide.

“I am the champion of perceived performance.”

“We should be like Junkyard dogs on this one.”

“You should underpromise, but don’t under-underpromise.”

“Don’t be #2.”

“It’s clear that we need to be clear.”

“This is the dark part of the tunnel. The light is always getting closer. But it’s still dark.”

“The people in this room are the glue and the grease.”

“It’s a full round trip.” (As opposed to a partial roundtrip.)

“He’s an infinite distance from getting promoted.”

“You’ve got to let the pendulum swing up.”

Thoughts?

December 5, 2008

So Much to Learn

Posted in coworkers, work at 11:05 am by Michael

Every company has their own meeting protocol.

‘Softies are late – usually about 5 minutes. I try, really try, to not be late. Since my job is all about meetings, and I’m back to back from 9-5 every day, I tend to be a little late.

I have a regular meeting on Wednesdays (when I’m in Redmond) with folks who I’ve worked with for a long time (more than in just this job). One of the people in that meeting tends to high-five people when they come in, especially late. (Which um, would be, me).

I came in, and gave Besty the requisite “Yeah, I’m a loser, I’m late” high-five.

She recoiled, grabbed her hand.

“Ow Megan! That’s not how us girls give high fives. Try again!”

Three or four iterations later, I got the “Girl High Five” down. Not too firm, not a lot of follow through, light recoil.

Satisfied, Betsy let me take my seat, high-five dunce hat firmly in place.

The next week, I walked in, early. I didn’t want to get tested.

Betsy was sitting there, Cheshire-cat grin firmly in place, right hand up to receive the high-five action.

“Very good! You learned!”

Whew.

September 19, 2008

Hummos in Israel (The Lunch of Choice!)

Posted in food, travel, work at 12:54 am by Michael

This week I was on business travel in Israel. As part of an internal reorg, I’m now responsible for a small development group in our Microsoft Israel office outside of Tel Aviv (in Herzeliya).

Food is an obvious connection when meeting new people – in business or personally. While we were working, we talked a lot about good food – both in Seattle and also in Israel. One of my new co-workers is a hummos fanatic – constantly searching out the best places to go, with awesome critiques of which places have the best salad, the best hummos itself, the best sauces – you get the picture.

Yesterday for lunch, he asked where we should go.

“Hummos!”

It was unanimous. He told us about his favorite local place. He described it as “The Hummos Nazi” – like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. I was more in than ever for this place! We set of on our hummos adventure for the Hummos Shack (my term, not his!) which was tucked in a small retail space in another office complex. (Its in the Ramat-Gan neighborhood)

"Parsley"

The name of the place is “Parsley” in English.

A Good Sign

A Good Sign

When we walked up, there was a good size line – with members of the Israeli Army just in front of us. This is a good sign – the longer the line, the better!

The Menu

The Menu

The menu was posted on the far wall, all in Hebrew. It turns out that there is a “stack” that you can build:

– stewed beans (looked like some red bean variant)

– hummos

– oil and chickpeas

– diced onion

– parsley

– hard boiled egg

The menu basically describes that.

The prices are in NIS (New Israel Sheckel), and the rate is about 3.5 NIS = $1 USD. You can see then, at 7 to 8 NIS per plate, this is a good deal.

The Home of Happy Hummos

The Home of Happy Hummos

The ingredients are served from these trays, into your waiting plate.

Saucy?

Saucy?

You have a choice of sauces – the far left are whole jalapenos, the middle is a mango salsa, and the right is a red pepper mash (schug).

No Egg

Option 1: No EggOption 2: Egg and Beans

With the plate, you are served pita bread, as well as the ubiquitous Israeli salad – tomato, cucumber onion, parsley. (Some places add cabbage – this place did not.)

Pita!

Pita!

Salad!

Salad!

Basically, you mix and eat into as many combinations that you would like. This was an *awesome* lunch. The veggies were fresh – the sauces were crisp and fresh, and the bread was warm and clearly fresh baked.

Not only that, but this was an amazingly filling lunch. Lunch in Israel turns out to be a big meal (little to no breakfast), usually taken between 12-1, but then dinner isn’t until 8-9pm – and these are leisurely affairs. This lunch served me well to tide me over for more than eight hours until dinner.

One thing that just about everyone said though about Israeli restaurant service is that its brusque at best. To the point. Brief. This place was no exception. As we were finishing up, probably a little too slowly, one of the guys from the restaurant told, or “invited” us to leave in Hebrew – I guess we were taking too long!

Even with that, I’d go back in a second… it was amazing.

September 5, 2008

Megan’s First Review

Posted in transgender, work at 8:41 pm by Michael

Microsoft Campus

Microsoft Campus

September is annual review time at Microsoft (it used to be August, but three years ago it changed to September). This is the time of year when everyone gets a rating (on past performance and also on future potential), and there are raises, bonuses and stock allocations. You submit a written form, your manager comments, then you sit down and talk about it, and you are given “your numbers”.

For managers (like me), this tends to be a lot of work, as you need to do this for each of your directs (I have 13 this year), and then manage budget, and monitor the progress of the entire group (I oversee about 300 people).

I actually like the Microsoft review process. I like the regularity and the rigor that’s associated with it. I know that there are a wide range of opinions, but I’m still a fan.

All through my transition and working with my manager(s) (I changed jobs right before I transitioned), I’ve said how fantastically supportive Microsoft has been. Now, lots of people have asked “But how supportive, really?”

One way to tell is from review, and from your evaluation. Look, the process isn’t perfect, just like any human-driven process there can be bias (pro and con) at many levels.

I’ve done well at the company in my time there. I like to think that I’ve contributed, and the company has been behind me. There’s always room for improvement (in me), but that’s a good thing.

I got my review this week, and if there was any question if the company was going to back their words of support with actions of support, then the question was answered to the affirmative.

My review was fair, completely in-line with my expectations (or even a little better  ), but more than anything, completely divorced from my transition.

I wasn’t worried, but wow, its good to have that milestone behind me.

September 3, 2008

Joe Biden: Self-Admitted Bullshitter?

Posted in work at 7:44 pm by Michael

Joe Biden

Joe Biden

The summer of 2001 was an eventful time for me at work. At that time, I was running the Internet Explorer 6 team, and our big focus was on privacy on the Internet. Just before that, DoubleClick had bought out an offline (old-school) marketing information firm, and the FTC got concerned that they would merge online and offline data – creating master profiles of everything that people did in both worlds. (This was at the time that DoubleClick was the king of ads, before Google took it to all of them/us.) As a result, there was a lot of FTC, state attorney-general and legislative concern about protecting user’s privacy.

Turns out that when folks are concerned about Internet privacy, when you are running the browser that has 95% share (ah, the good old days), well, you get to talk to those concerned folks – the FTC, state AGs and the people’s representatives in congress and the senate.

As part of my IE gig then, I flew to DC a few times and presented to members of congress as well as the FTC and other NGO-type privacy advocates. I even got to testify in front of congress on this point. Now, that was fun!

You can even read the transcript  (where Mr. Ed Markey from Massachusetts goes off on me about WebTV and credit cards, and where I’m told by Ms. Anna Eshoo from California:

“We have got to get you over to the State Department. You know, you give these answers that are–there is
an answer buried in the answer, but it is not like upfront. It is kind of diplomatic talk.

But at any rate, I congratulate you for having refined that.”

I was telling them how IE was dealing with cookies  in our upcoming v6 product. I was also telling them about P3P and how we were using that to help users.
 
During that summer, I got to meet with a wide range of folks in congress – John Kerry, Ted Stephens, George Allen, John McCain and Joe Biden. No kidding.

During the time that I was going back and forth, control of the Senate changed from Republican to Democrat. The interesting thing was that I met with Ted Stevens from Alaska when he was the Senate Appropriations* Chairman – and we met in the room in his office -actually in the Capitol building where the Senate Appropriations Committee met. It was pretty imposing. (NB – most people in congress have their offices in either of the office buildings *next to* the Capitol. Only the most senior Senators and Congresspeople (generally of the party in control) have offices actually in the Capitol.) On a later trip, when control had shifted, he was in a way smaller office, which was kind of like a little hallway actually, in one of the senate office buildings. He did not appear pleased by this turn of events.

Anyway… I digress.

After doing about twenty of these presentations, with me, a rep from the Microsoft DC office, and someone from our PR group, we had gotten into the flow of it. We knew how to do the presentations, we knew what questions to expect, and we knew when to cut it short and stick to the shiny demos.

One of the last people we had the opportunity to present to was Joe Biden (D), from the great state of Delaware (Delawarians, or Delawareites?). I love to rag on Delaware, since they are only marginally bigger than the state of my youth – Little Rhody.

It turns out that the Microsoft DC guy, who was just fantastic (and I state this up front, because, well, this story doesn’t turn out so well for him – but, I still like him a lot) – he knew all of the staffers, knew many of the members of Congress, and was an overall great guy to work with – and, Joe Biden was his Numero Uno favorite member of congress.

“He’s my idol. Can I do the presentation to him?”

Now, we had this whole deal carefully scripted – when I would talk, when he would talk, when we’d do demos, when we’d do slides – it was tight. Now, he wanted to do the whole deal for his idol.

“Sure, no problem.”

So, we go in to meet Biden, and Biden just looks feisty. He’s buzzing with energy. Maybe he needs less coffee, maybe more – who knows! But, he’s en fuego.

My colleague, who I will call “Ringo” for sake of argument, starts off.

Biden starts peppering him with questions. Questions that we have not heard. Questions that don’t really make sense. Ringo is flustered, and Ringo doesn’t know what to do. I don’t want to rain on Ringo’s parade, so I let it go. I don’t want to jump in. You can pull it out Ringo!

About two minutes in, Biden says, and I quote:

“Look, don’t bullshit a bullshitter. What’s really going on here?”

Ringo is crestfallen. Ringo turns to me and says:

“Michael, why don’t you take over.”

I did… Biden had his pound of flesh, and we went on to our next appointment, all smiles, except for Ringo…..

*9/5 – Correction, Senator Stevens was the head of the Appropriations not Finance Committee, thanks to SAC for the edit.

May 19, 2008

Politics at Work – Probably a “Bad Idea”

Posted in Identification, life, work at 11:17 pm by Michael

Remember the SNL skit for “Bad Idea Jeans“?

I felt like I was in that skit last week.

I was at a work thing (I won’t go further…), but it was at the time “non-work”, in that people were talking about stuff that was non-work related.

The conversation, just like many conversations these days, turned to politics – the Clinton v. Obama race, McCain’s running mate, etc.

There was discussion about the polarization that was evident in the recent Democratic primaries – the high numbers of voters unwilling to vote for the other candidate:

“Barely a third of Clinton supporters say they’d vote for Obama over John McCain in a November matchup. As many claim they’d vote for Republican John McCain and a quarter said they would not vote for president. If that horse race were Clinton vs. McCain, half of Obama backers say they’d vote for Clinton, about three in 10 say they’d back McCain and the rest would stay home.”

I *really* tried to stay out of it. Really.

About half the folks in the room were Republicans, about half-Democrats.

Remember, I *really* tried to stay out of it. It’s work.

Then, someone asked me:

“Megan, who are you going to vote for?”

“Well, that’s a good question. I have to say that I can’t vote for someone that doesn’t think that my family should be a family.”

“That means either Obama or Clinton, right?”

“Well, it’s hard to tell because it’s hard to get a straight answer from any of the candiates, but Clinton and Obama are more open than McCain.”

(Here’s the chart)

On the positive side, some people who were on the McCain side actually commented that yes, this was a problem…. I honestly don’t know sometime how “activist” to be, and how much to just silently live and lead… it’s a tradeoff.

(BTW, I met Sen. McCain in 2001, while doing work on internet privacy. We had about an hour meeting, and I remember him as fiesty, but that one side of his face and one of his arms was more significantly injured than I had thought from seeing him on TV. I’ll hand it to the guy, I may disagree with his positions, but he’s honorable, and has served our country both in the service and in politics.)

May 1, 2008

Live from MMS 2008 – Vegas!

Posted in food, transgender, work at 11:33 am by Michael

This week I’ve been at my first Microsoft conference in a while – Microsoft Management Summit in sunny Las Vegas. The last one was way back in the spring of ’06, which seems like forever ago.

So, this is my first official “Megan” conference badge.

My Megan MMS Badge

At work, everyone (or virtually everyone) “Knows”. Coming to a five thousand person conference – not so much. While I’ve been here, I’ve done customer and partner meetings, both formal and informal, and also talked to a lot of other ‘softies who I’ve never met before. In addition, I’ve run into a lot of ‘softies who I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Me at MMS, Blue Shirt and All

Fundamentally, what the customers and partners care about when they are talking to me is that I have a clue about what I’m talking about. I’ve not gotten any crappy looks, comments, or sideways glances (as far I as I can tell).

One thing that I did notice, handshaking is totally different. I’ve got reasonably big, but long and thin hands. “Before” when I’d shake hands with people, I’d get the full on, thumb/thumb handshake. Now, when I shake hands w/men, they tend to grab fingers only – not the full-on palm handshake that I’ve been used to.

There is still oddity when I see people who I know, but haven’t seen in a while. I ran into one guy who I’ve worked with a ton in the past, and he was here with his wife. I said hi to him, and he started talking and he said to me: “Wow Megan, you are looking great!”. I could see his wife give him a super shitty look when he said that! I’m sure he’ll explain later, and get the “Ooooohhhhh, now I understand!”. It was a funny moment.

Others are more circumspect: “I’ve heard there’s been a lot going on with you!”

To all of my friends and co-workers who I haven’t seen in a while  – I’m certainly “Out”, and I don’t get bummed out or uncomfortable when people learn about my story. So, if you are afraid that if you say something obvious like “How’s your transition been?” – it’s ok!

On to a more pressing topic – what to eat in Vegas! I have a new favorite steak place in Vegas – “Cut”. It is in the new Venetian Palazzo wing, and it’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. I know… these are not great at times – good, not great. This is actually great. Try it. Its new. The service is fantastic, the sommelier is super, and the general manager was super fun to talk to (Marino Monferrato). If you go there, tell ‘em Megan sent you!

(Our previous fave place for steak here – Craft Steak was VERY disappointing when Anh and I were here about a month ago… I may give them another shot, but not soon.)

I also tried David Burke with a couple of other folks. The drinks were great, I had a fantastic halibut t-bone, which was light and memorable. BUT – we had a spicy lobster appetizer that came out undercooked (way undercooked). They handled it well, gave us a salad as a replacement (comped), but still – yuk – undercooked lobster. Not cool. Not sure I’ll go back there anytime soon.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is still my absolute fave on the strip. Go. Go again. I sent somebody there this trip and they described it as “The Best Meal of My Life”. Go. Go More.

Anyway…. Just another show, and I can restart my badge collection!

April 12, 2008

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”

Posted in transgender, work at 2:57 pm by Michael

Yesterday at work I was in a meeting where everyone didn’t know each other – I knew most everyone, but not *everyone*. I had been joking around with one of the other women there… basically being a pain. No surprise.”

When it came time for me to introduce myself, I said “Hi, I’m Megan Troublemaker.”

Without missing a beat, Betsy said:

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”

HA!

I almost fell off my chair laughing.

I pass this along for a couple reasons:

a) funny

b) my transition is transparent at work, and people have become so comfy with it, they joke with me about it.

Pretty cool!

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