March 7, 2008

Overnight Mail

Posted in family, life, work at 9:01 pm by Michael

Mail! 

This was an odd week to be on national TV. From Tuesday night until Friday afternoon, I was at a training course for work. It was at the “Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat” in Leavenworth, Washington, which is about two and a half hours east from Redmond, on the eastern side of the Cascades.

It’s a beautiful, picturesque place, with two drawbacks for the maniacally connected – a) little/no cell coverage b) no in-room TV.

So, there I was, trying to stay focused on this course (which was great!), and at the same time trying to see what was going on as a result of the airing of the Good Morning America and Nightline pieces yesterday. (btw, the streaming link is here: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4402130)

In many multiday Microsoft and other management/leadership courses the morning of the second day and subsequent days start with “Overnight Mail” – that is an opportunity to tell the group how you are feeling based on the previous day’s learnings or questions.

I’ve hesitated to post much since the stuff on ABC aired – both to give it some time to sink in, but to really think about what I have to say.

Here goes.

First off, I have to thank all of you who have been so amazingly supportive and posted incredible comments and thoughtful emails. That was so nice to see.

Both here, and on other sites (like the comment stream on ABC.com), there were more questions than comments, and these merit there own posts, which will follow.

“What about the kids? How did you tell them (the older ones), and how are they doing?”

“How on earth did you tell Anh? What did she do? What did you do?”

There were other comments, oh yes there were. I’m not going to dwell on the negative though, and I’m going to just let it go. If you think there is some other big question, that’s not answered on the FAQ, or that I’ve dodged in some way, please post it, and I’ll do my best.

A Parable

Posted in About, family, work at 1:43 pm by Michael

Just a little background on this. I’ve been at a leadership training class this week for work, and we had to create a “character sketch” that would explain ourselves to a small group. I wrote this, and thought it might be interesting to some…..

—————————–

Janus was two-faced, Shrek was an onion, but who has modeled being three faced? Well, I’d like to tell you a story about someone who I’ve come to know who was most definitely in that space.

More importantly though, why? How does someone get to having three faces – the outside, presented version of self, the self shared with the closest of friends and family, and a deeper, very hidden, inner voice.

From One Voice to Two

Jane grew up in a suburban, middle class household, with a stay-at-home mom, a hardworking dad, and two sisters who were more like parents early on, as they were much older than her.

The family was, to the outside world, close and high functioning. Jane’s mom and dad loved her deeply, and they told her so. She grew up in a house full of children – her parents were foster parents for a number of babies (although usually one or two at a time).

Her dad especially though set a high bar for success, and never wavered in his beliefs – which he was more than happy to tell you all about! There was little room for gray in her world, and success was relative.

Growing up, Jane was shy, and more than a little conflict averse. She learned to read the people around her, understand what they wanted, and try to give it to them. In many ways, she was the classic “pleaser”.

At 16 though, right on the cusp of becoming her own person though, something dramatic happened. She almost died, twice. Her own desire to “not make waves” almost lead (indirectly) to an early demise, as she was unwilling and unable to tell those around her that she wasn’t feeling well.

These months were formative for her, and formative for her parents. For her, she realized at that moment that life was brief, and fleeting, and something to be relished. For her parents though, they became even more protective. The timing of this event was crucial – it was on the cusp of her entry into early adulthood, but in many ways, this froze her image in the minds of her parents as a delicate person who needed protection and their constant concern and intervention.

Jane tells me now of being none-too-happy with this extra nesting phase, but being the pleaser that she was, she was unable to confront her parents with her own self-realized view.

Jane considered becoming a doctor, both in that it would be demonstrably a “success” that she could achieve and be recognized for, but also in that this could be something her parents could be proud of.

Again though, fate intervened, and Jane sadly had a true inner geek, that was trying to come out, and became addicted to the quick feedback and satisfaction of being a software developer. Success was immediate and demonstrable. It was also clear – either the program worked, or it didn’t.

On to college Jane went, with some newfound confidence, but also the trait of pleasing and conforming. Jane worked her way through college using her now seemingly valuable skills, gaining recognition for the first time from people she respected that weren’t her parents.

Exiting college, with a job and responsibilities that belied her years, and at the same time in a system with her parents that was still about pleasing and acceptance, the initial two faces were solidified for her – the external face that was about confidence and success (this was the face that made her parents proud), and the internal face where all the self-doubt had to sit. In the world in which she grew up – there was black and white. Doubt wasn’t for the strong, and Jane wanted to be strong, or at least appear so to those that she loved.

The Third Face is Born

Jane had never been that successful in dating or relationships, but finally met someone at 26 who she felt really loved her. However, this was really the start of the third face, as the person that was shown and loved wasn’t the internal, self-doubting, complicated Jane, but the external, confident, now successful, pleasing Jane. Instead of being a force of integration, this relationship lead to more cleaving.

So, here was born the outside face, the family face, but the inside face remained, and it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Jane focused even more on building up the external face, and driving for success and recognition there. The external face was strong – an ass kicker. This was the place where she could gain self-satisfaction, and a sense of worth. The external face was great at her job – to a point – but that point hadn’t been seen yet – it was still over the horizon, but it was coming.

The family face, well, that one had a lot of work to do. Everyone had to be serviced and pleased. It was overworked and tired.

Predictably, after a time, this relationship ended, but not after a lot of pain on all sides, and careful sculpting on each of these faces. Jane the pleaser remained, and she had become a master sculptor.

Integration?

Sometime after Jane divorced, she met Sue. Sue was everything that Jane wasn’t. Sue had one face. Sue decided if you got to see that face or not. She was in, or she was out. There was no in the middle. She told it like it was. Sue also loved Jane – all of her that Jane was willing to share, and as a result, the family face faded. She still had to use it with her parents at times, but integration was coming.

Wow, she had pulled it off – she had found the person for her, and was slowly integrating herself into a coherent whole.

Then the bottom fell out.

Jane’s dad died.

Jane’s mom died a little bit too when that happened.

Jane had reached the scaling point on her job, and the ways that she had succeeded before were no longer strengths, but weaknesses. Instead of continuing to move up, she moved sideways, and down.

What had been the source of strength for her was now an additional stressor.

Jane hadn’t always been as open or honest with Sue as she should have been. Sue demanded more, and had done so from the beginning. But, Jane wasn’t ready. Conflict arose – not because of what was in Jane’s heart or soul, but because it was really hidden, and burbled up like tar from a hot road.

Sue almost left, and Jane was terrified.

There was still something else that Sue hadn’t known, and Jane hadn’t told her. Sue didn’t even really know Jane. Who Sue thought she knew and loved was presented as Jim. Up until now, that’s all anyone knew of Jane – all they had ever seen was the face of Jim.

Sue wasn’t happy to have found out that there was more to Jim – the Jane part. She was pissed. Not because she didn’t love Jim or even Jane for that matter, but because Jane wasn’t honest from the start.

The Only Way Out

Jane was faced with an ultimatum – both literally and figuratively – either integrate, or have amazing loss.

The three faces had to be fully revealed – not just to Sue, who now had the whole picture, but to everyone. There was no room to hide, or to be less than transparent. Jane was like an alcoholic, and needed complete abstinence from anything except for total, often brutal honesty.

The integration of these three parts into a whole created an interesting “averaging” of the three.

But the averaging didn’t create mediocrity, the averaging lead to the creation of a whole that was greater than the sum of the parts.

What was an external, hard shell melted. Maybe not completely, Jane’s still a work in progress, but its mostly gone.

What was an internal voice, filled with self-doubt is gone now too. Its really gone, like the footprints on a beach after the tide rolls in.

Instead what’s replaced it is a more consistent, authentic voice. Jane maybe doesn’t appear as strong as she did before. Or does she?

When I talk to Jane now, she’s almost ashamed of the way that she conducted herself for many of her years. It clearly can be overwhelming at times for her. She has embraced the notion of “live, fail, ask for forgiveness, learn, repeat”.

I like Jane now. I’m not sure that I would have liked her if I met her for the first time even five years ago.

You go Girl!

March 2, 2008

Work Conference

Posted in transgender, work at 4:31 pm by Michael

TRE Conference

Over the weekend, Anh and I attended the Microsoft event for senior technical folks in the company. It’s generally at some sort of destination location, and spouses/guests are invited. Over the past two years, it’s been in Vancouver, then San Francisco, and this year it was in Palm Springs.

The date for this one was significant for me – my three month anniversary for my FFS surgery. The significance was that three months was the date for the last of the “restrictions” on me. The last two were wearing glasses of any kind (because of the “work” on my nose, and allowing the bone to heal so that I wouldn’t get permanent dents in my nose from the glasses), and then being able to start electrolysis again (infection risk).

Coming into this, I was actually a little nervous. This event has been on the calendar since early last fall, and we have been “looking forward” to it since then. I know a good percentage of the 500+ people here (maybe 20%?), and probably have only seen 1% since I’ve been back to work.

As I written about a ton before, work has been incredibly supportive. However, this was different. Instead of being in a day-to-day environment with my team, this was with peers and their spouses. I had expected that it would be “the same”, but really?

The other nervous-making thing was that whole 20%/1% thing. Part of what’s made work pretty stress-free (from a transition POV) is that for the folks I work with on a daily basis – well, they are over it. It doesn’t really come up. This is a good thing – we’ve moved on to the “New Normal”.

Anyway…. In that context, Anh and I dropped of Samwich with family friends for the weekend, then went to the airport. The flight down was full of conference goers, and we got to catch up with a few folks who we haven’t seen in a while. Overall – normal.

We got down to Palm Springs and settled in late in the afternoon. Later there was dinner, followed by speeches by Bill and Steve. Although this year was an interesting milestone for Bill, as it’s his last of these conferences in his fulltime role with Microsoft, as he transitions to do more work for his charitable foundation.

Walking around and mingling before and after was pretty typical for one of these functions. Introductions this year became an interesting word-choice exercise. How do I introduce Anh? That one turns out to be pretty easy in this context at least – she’s my wife. How does Anh introduce me, if I don’t know the person she’s met or is talking to – husband, spouse, partner? What word works? We struggle with this one quite honestly. We are still (and plan to be!) legally married. Words escape us in this situation.

One thing that I was a little bit surprised by is by how many people were surprised to see us. I got the impression from the “how are you doing?” or “how are you feeling?” or “wow, I didn’t expect to see you here again so quickly!” that there was this impression that I was going to be gone longer than I was (it sure felt like a long time to me!). But, that being said there was nothing to take offense to in any of these comments or questions.

Later in the night, I was talking to someone who I had worked with quite a bit before, but not in more than a year or two. He had clearly read the blog at length, and still had a lot of questions. We sat down, had a drink, and he asked the really hard question – the “how do you know?” question, and we had a good long talk about it. He also had lots of questions about “how/why did you decide to transition?” – again, long conversation on that point. (I know, I’ve never really written about that… I will sometime.)

The next morning, we worked out for a bit in the gym and then went on to our planned activity – which was a GPS scavenger hunt. We teamed up with another couple (I had worked with the guy before, but not met his wife), and it turned out to be a great time, as we were all runners, and ran hard between all the way points. One of the tasks in the scavenger hunt was to take pictures of your team in various poses at specific locations. One of the poses that we needed to show was “Passion”. We came up with the idea (which is the same idea that all the other teams had) to get a picture of our team members kissing/embracing (obviously their own spouses!). No pause – nothing… we just did it, and later when the pictures were posted on our results boards, I don’t even think there was a stray glance. (We didn’t win the contest, but we loved it. Anh is mega ultra competitive, and this was right up her alley.)

That afternoon we ended up sitting by the pool, but I had to buy a new bathing suit (I didn’t have one, and ended up going modest all the way), and also sunglasses. Interesting milestone.

Saturday night was the “formal” dinner of the weekend as there are some awards given out to individuals and teams. Going to a formal Microsoft event is typically an oxymoron (it’s a super casual place still), but these events have become more and more over the top. One of the guys I used to work with came with a purple zoot suit, complete with fedora and matching purple patent leather shoes. His wife had a classic flapper (but shorter) dress, and they both looked great, and added a ton of class to the event overall. (The theme for the night was “Classic Hollywood”).

Me at TRE

As we were finishing up dinner, I felt a tap on my shoulder and it was someone who worked in the same division that I was last in, but we had never really worked together (or even met as far as I remember actually). He came over to tell me how proud of me he was, and how much courage he thought it must have taken to transition in such a public way. I’m not really doing justice to either what he said or how he said it, but I was blown away. It actually made me tear up a little bit. Here was a guy who knew of me, but no more, who took the time to seek me and Anh out to talk to us. Wow…. Thanks Dilip, that was incredibly kind of you.

As we were walking back to our room, Anh said to me: “This is really a year of firsts. It’s gone well, but I’ll be glad when all of these firsts are behind us. Next year, I bet no one will even notice.”

And on that note, we ended our night, under the stars, walking back as a couple, just like so many of our co-workers did on that same night.

February 28, 2008

It’s Been a Busy Week

Posted in family, transgender, work at 4:19 pm by Michael

No, we didn’t get stuck in some sort of black hole after returning from France, but it sure seems like it!

Seattle welcomed us last Friday and Saturday with amazing, sunny, warm (for Seattle) weather, and it was a great re-entry into the great drizzle-bank that usually is Seattle in February.

Then, after a relaxing weekend (jet lag and all), it was off to work, and work was crazy for the past few days.

Yesterday, well, yesterday was “special”. I’m not going to comment *right now* on what was going on, but I will mid-next week.

Today was just another day though, but interestingly, two more people who I had worked with before (quite a bit actually) didn’t recognize me. I’m beginning to think this is a compliment to Dr. O, and his magic FFS surgery.

Anyway, a few people have asked me (in various forms) if I was ok after the whole “Missing Michael” thing in the last post. A couple of clarifications…. what I think I was actually trying to convey was that while I feel *amazing* now, and I feel coherent as a person for the first time in my life, this new space – openly transgendered – is just fundamentally harder than it was before. Its harder for some simple stuff (its hard for me to find clothes off the rack that fit right – especially shoes and shirts – need mail order for size 13 shoes, and “tall” shirts), but I know that our new life is not as mainstream or “easy” as it was before. I recognize that this “New Deal” is harder on those around me (Anh especially) than before, and I have regrets about that.

Anyway, I haven’t gone anywhere, I’m still around, and there’s lots more to come….

February 12, 2008

Anonymous Again

Posted in coworkers, work at 10:54 pm by Michael

 Who?

I’m used to not being anonymous. For quite some time at work, no matter what hall I walk down, I end up seeing someone that I know, and say hi to. Its kind of fun! Its like being in a big community – personal, close, comforting.

This is even the case w/the “execs” at Microsoft. I’ve been involved in enough stuff so that I know by name/face the majority of VPs at Microsoft, as well as most of the “Partner” level folks (think of the most senior 500+ people in the company).

My office at work is near some of the big conference rooms that we have. In order for me to walk between the two buildings that my Redmond-based team is in, I generally walk past these rooms. All sorts of meetings happen in these rooms – New Employee Orientation (NEO in MS Parlance), team meetings, customer meetings, you name it.

This morning, just before 8, I heard SteveB’s and his voice (its loud, and distinct) down the hall. I knew that something was up.

(Basically, lots of folks at MS are known by their email names – BillG, SteveB, etc. When people refer to others, they “say out” their email name if they are pronounceable. E.g. ‘Steve Bee”. Best MS email name ever – lakaplan – “Lack A Plan” – she was a Program Manager.)

Later in the morning, on my way to a meeting in the other building, I walked past the conference rooms at about 5 before the hour (meeting break time). There in the hall were quite a large number of VPs and other senior folks, the vast majority who I know by name, and who know me my name.

Not any more.

I walked through the crowd, anonymous. People looked at me – people who I’ve worked with for more than ten years in some cases. Nothing. One person who I knew only a bit- I saw this look of half-recognition, and then utter confusion.

I was walking next to someone who works on my team, and we were chatting.

As we walked past the rooms, I remarked to her:

“They didn’t know who I was! Wow, I know *all* those people.”

We went to the meeting, then walked back.

Same deal, right through the crowd – anonymous.

Now, this is in no way a commentary about anything except the fact that I look different. A lot different. But I don’t see it.

I look I the mirror, I see me. I don’t see anyone but me. I see the same face that I saw for 39 years.

I don’t think other people do, and that’s just interesting.

February 8, 2008

Busy Week

Posted in work at 11:01 pm by Michael

This was a busy week. I was in Boston for work from Wednesday morning through Friday night (JetBlue rocks again).

I got in to Boston at about 6am on Wednesday after taking the redeye. I had slept pretty well on the flight – way better than usual – but it was still the redeye. I generally like to go to the hotel post the flight, sleep for a couple more hours, and then go into the office. I ended up checking in at about 7am (you can do this if you pay for the night before – good travel tip!). I get to the hotel, and they can’t find my reservation. The woman at the front desk was super nice, very apologetic, and made me a new reservation, and at the previously quoted rate – all good. The downside was that it took another half an hour to check in. She apologized again, and said that there were no rooms with one big bed, just two small ones. I said “No problem, its just me, and I just want to get a couple hours sleep before I go into the office.” She said “No problem, I just found a great room, and its nice and quiet!”

At the same time that I was checking in, they were having lots of problems with virtually all of their systems at the front desk – no printers, computers down,etc.

She tried to make my key – no can do. The key machine is down. No problem, she walked me up to my room, and opened the door with a master key.

Ahh, sleepy time.

It’s now 7:30, and I have my alarm set for 10:30 – three hours of sleep! Woo Hoo!

At about 9, I woke up to the dulcet tones of jackhammering next door. Turns out that they are renovating the hotel room by room – but not floor by floor. I got a room literally surrounded by rooms on all sides that were being renovated – with jackhammers and crowbars.

I called down to the front desk to inquire. Yep, they are renovating. Nope, no way to delay it. Sorry, no floors with no renovation going on. They offered to move me, but I asked if they could say that it wouldn’t be to a place w/renovation. Nope!

Great.

I’ll go for a run. Went down to the gym, ran for 30 mins, felt great, and walked back upstairs to my room. As I’m walking down the hall, I notice that over all the hall smoke detectors, they have put what looks like shower caps and tape. Wouldn’t want those pesky smoke detectors going off if there was a fire and all. I’m no fire protection engineer, but I’m pretty damn sure that its not cool to cover up/disable fire protection systems in an occupied hotel.

Now, I’m really not a complainer. Really. I had kind of had it. I called down to the front desk again and report said clear violation of the fire code:

“Hi, this is Janelle, can I help you?”

“Hi Janelle, this your favorite guest from room 723. I really hate to complain so much, but, um, I was just walking down the hall and noticed that all of the smoke and heat detectors in the hall are covered up by what appears to be shower caps and tape. I’m pretty sure this isn’t ok.”

“Uh huh.”

“Did you happen to see the news last week, where the Monte Carlo hotel in Vegas caught on fire during renovation, and they had to evacuate it?”

“No, I didn’t see that.”

“Janelle, I really don’t want to be served crispy.”

“I can have the director of engineering call you?”

“No, that’s ok. I just think it would be a good idea if maybe we had smoke detectors on this floor, ok? If I’m wrong, and it’s cool, then ok – great. But can ya check?”

“Right away….”

That night, when I came home from a super long day at work, there was a nice fruit and cheese platter, along with a bottle of wine in my room. I got a note from the hotel manager, apologizing for my “troubles” that morning.

I’m not sure what they could have done that would have been better, but I felt at a loss a bit. It didn’t quite make up for it, although I did end up having much of the cheese and fruit for lunch over the next few days.

January 23, 2008

Transitioning at Work, The Continuing Saga (Or Non-Saga)

Posted in coworkers, transgender, work at 9:39 pm by Michael

Today at work I was at an all-day training with the managers from all across my manager’s organization. There were about seventy-five people in the room.

This is a relatively common occurrence at work (training, lots of people), and I’ve done this a number of times before.

I was fascinated to see if this was going to be “different” for me, or not.

Totally, 100%, not.

No difference about how I was treated, no “extra” looks, same level of engagement, no issues.

During one of the breaks, I was having a discussion with one of the HR folks who I work with and she said:

“You know, we [HR] all thought this [me transitioning] might be more of an issue. Yes, other people have done this, but you are the first GM to do it. You know what though, it’s just not an issue.”

That’s been my experience too, and I wasn’t sure if maybe I just wasn’t seeing it, but I’m coming around to the fact that its now just back to normal….

Side Notes: I wore heels (well, just two inches) for the first time at work today as well. I had just worn flats of various types before. I like ’em!

January 11, 2008

Who is Megan Megan and Why is She Getting My Email?

Posted in work at 10:47 pm by Michael

Ok, I’m a big doofus. When I filled out the online form to change my name I screwed up and in the legal last name box, which I didn’t intend to change, I typed “Megan”.

Megan Megan #1

There’s a separate field called “friendly name” which is used for the first name that shows in your email and on your badge. As you can imagine, I changed that to “Megan” as well.

It turns out that the friendly name change happens quickly – in hours, but the legal name change takes longer to get through the system – a few days generally.

So, after last Thursday, I was “Megan Wallent” in most systems, and “Michael Wallent” in others. No biggie.

Wednesday though, I was sitting in the Boston office just after getting in on the redeye and mail started coming to “Megan Megan”.

Megan Megan #2

Now, I generally don’t sleep super well on the redeye, but I wasn’t that tired and I didn’t think I was hallucinating.

After a couple of quick emails to the nice person in accounts that helped me change my name originally, it was fixed.

However, Megan Megan continued to send and receive my mail for the next day, until the new change rippled through the system.

January 9, 2008

Jet Blue 498 to Boston

Posted in family, work at 3:51 am by Michael

Work proceeds pretty much as normal. Interestingly, it’s normal seemingly not just for me, but for the people who I work with. I had two interesting interchanges today at work that really pointed this out to me. I went over for a meeting with one of the senior tech leaders in the company, and after the meeting, I was talking to his technical assistant (TA in MS-Speak), and she was asking me how it was going since I was back. I told her it was going really well, but sometimes people weren’t sure what they should call me (I was thinking that they wouldn’t know because even though they had “heard” they may not have remembered what my new name is – I don’t think that EVERYONE at Microsoft plows through my blog blather on a regular basis). She gave me this look like “DUH!” and said “Uh, Megan?!” I took this as a super sweet comment, in that for her, it was clear that I am in fact, “Megan” and to think otherwise is non-sensical.

Later in the day, I had a meeting with the human relations person who supports my team in Redmond (there’s someone else who supports the team in Boston (technically Cambridge… just for clarity – there is a difference!) and she was talking to someone else who was an avid reader of this space who said:

“Wow, you are supporting Meg [Ed. Not a nickname I expected, but hey, whatever works] Wallent? That must be exciting!”

Her reaction: “No, not really. It’s just like supporting any other GM here.”

Again, I took this as a really clear sign of how normalized and accepted my transition has become at Microsoft. I’ve talked to a few co-workers and friends about that, and the reaction is pretty universal – both that the culture here is much more open than you would expect, and in general the public reaction to me (Crappy Look Counter at 6 still) restores faith about the overall state of the general public and acceptance. Maybe I was overly cynical, but I did expect if I was “read as male dressed female” that I would have issues. I haven’t.

On the topic of “Things Might Be Getting Better”, we were having a conversation with the big kiddos tonight about the New Hampshire primaries. When we picked them up from school, there weren’t any results yet, but Peri was VERY interested to see how Hillary Clinton was doing. Finally, when we heard to results that Clinton won, and Obama was a close second, Peri was thrilled. I don’t think she gets the overall primary system and was it means, but she gets that it has something to do with being President, and its important. She’s super interested to know when she can vote for real. After learning about the results, Peri said: “Well, a girl should get to be president FOR ONCE at least. All the other presidents have been boys you know.” (She had to learn all the US Presidents by heart last year in school).

Anh said to her: “That’s true; she would be the first female President if she got elected. But, might be even more historic if Obama was elected, since he’s African-American.”

Peri says: “Why does that matter?”

Us: “Well, No African American has even come close to getting elected as President before.”

Peri (incredulous) “That’s CRAZY. Why would that matter? Who would care about THAT?”

I said: “Well Peri, up until just before I was born, there weren’t laws in the whole country that guaranteed the same rights for all people, no matter what color their skin was, or where they came from.”

This dialog continued for a few more minutes, with Peri being JUST FLABBERGASTED that anyone would care about something as irrelevant as skin color.

Peri then said a couple of funny things. First “Well, I would NOT want to be President because I would NOT want to be famous. I wouldn’t want anyone who I don’t know to know me.”

I kind of smiled, there was a pause, and Anh said to Peri and John both “Well, in a way, you both are known by people who don’t really know you because Daddy [Ed. They still call me Daddy as documented previously, and we support that 100%] writes about stuff that we do as a family, and people read about it.”

Peri thought about this for a second, and said “Oh, like you posting a picture of Sculpey Samwich, and people thinking that was cool?” Answering her own question: “Well, that is pretty cool, I like that! Maybe that would be ok then…”

Sculpey Samwich

(As a note, Peri and John are not yet allowed to read this blog, but I do tell them about stories that I post about them. I did get a few nice comments about Peri’s Sculpey Samwich, and I let her read those. I’m sure someday when they are older and ready, I’ll give them the whole archive if they are so inclined.)

Peri then added: “Well, I wouldn’t want to be President because the White House is just too Big. It would take me four years just to find out where all the rooms were!” Always interesting to see a kid’s perspective on the world….

Right now, Anh, Samwich and I are currently on our way to Boston where part of my team is. This is our second (and a half) trip since my transition, and again, our ventures through the airport with TSA have been total non-events.

Anh made an interesting observation/question as we were getting on the plane tonight – “Does the fact that we travel as a family make it less likely that anyone would give you [Megan] a hard time?”

This is an interesting question. I haven’t yet flown solo, but I’m sure I will over the upcoming weeks. Boston will be our fourth city visited post transition (San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas were the others). I’m very interested to see if there’s a difference in the reaction to me and us as a family (more out and about than at work) once we get there and I’m working there for a few days.

January 5, 2008

Saturday Night Post

Posted in work at 9:32 pm by Michael

Anh is staying at her sister’s tonight, helping w/the new baby, so it’s just me and the Samwich (sleeping),

There was a question that came from CAREFUL examination of some of the stuff on my board from the picture in my office.

The question was “What’s the story behind that “No Promotion” sign? 

No Promotion

Here’s the answer: I travel a bunch to China. If you go there much, you’ll notice that there’s a bunch of “Chinglish” that’s used. Misspellings, grammar issue, misuse of terms, you name it.

Me and one of my coworkers were in Shanghai at one of the many outdoor markets, and they were selling all sorts of signs to be used by local vendors to post. We looked at the store, and laughed at a whole bunch of just funny signs.

Later that night, my coworker presented me with a gift of that sign (he worked for me then, and it was close to review time, when most promotions are done). I thought it was hilarious. What I think it actually means (when translated properly) is “No Soliciting”. However, its been translated “accurately” but not “correctly”.

So, even though I’ve moved offices twice, I move this sign and put it up.

However, sometimes this has unintended effects. Clearly, if you hear the whole story, its funny, and is about a memory of a great trip to China. It has nothing to do with me not wanting to promote anyone. More than one person has come to my office, and basically said “I’m afraid to ask, but what’s that sign mean?” Usually they have a scared look when they see this for the first time. When I explain, they smile, and it’s a good chat!

Ok, so since its Saturday night and I’ve got nothing else to do (although I am watching TV while I do this), I figured I’d explain the other stuff (most of it) visible in the picture.

Old Badge Picture

Old Badge Picture

August 12, 1996 was the day I started at Microsoft. This was the original picture from my badge that day. I still remember how happy and proud I was to be starting at MICROSOFT! Honestly, for the first three months I came home thinking: “Wow, they didn’t fire me yet!” It was overwhelming.

Which leads to…

Microsoft 10 Year Service Award

10 Year Award

It used to be that when you worked at MSFT for 5 years, you got a clock, then 10 years (and every five years thereafter) you got a metal and glass plaque with an imprint of a MS stock certificate, with the associated number of shares of stock granted (10, 15, 20, etc). About three years ago they changed to giving these glass obelisks at each of the milestones, each larger than the last. I was lucky enough to have an employee that was here for 20 years, and WOW – it was HUGE! We joke that for 25 years, it comes with a mover to help you move it between offices (we move a lot).  So, this is my 10 year award.

Ship Stuff

Ship Stuff

It’s the tradition to get a “Box” of the stuff that you ship, when you ship it (the retail box). On the left, you see the “IE 4” envelope. This was an issue with IE, since we didn’t really have a box – was a download only for a while… So, everybody got this special edition IE 4 folder that had a disk on it.

On the right, you also see a special edition version of Vista, the Ultimate “Handcrafted” box – just for folks who worked on Vista.

Diet Coke Can

Diet Coke

I’m addicted.

Curt Schilling Upset

Schilling Upset

Back in September, after a disastrous series when the Yankees (who?) closed the gap on the Sox to 4.5 games, one of my co-workers (Scot) dropped this nice note on my chair. It had a quote from one of the NY papers describing the events.

I kept this, and took a little pleasure in showing this to Scot AGAIN when the Sox won the Series. I keep this up as a reminder of persistence.

Notebook

No Notebooks

I have a penchant for taking notes on sticky notes, not notebooks. When I changed teams last year (18 months ago), one of my new co-workers gave me this nice moleskin covered notebook. I was aware of said notebook technology at this point, I had just declined to participate in that technological revolution. So, this picture is of that notebook, with a stick note on the cover, with the universal NO sign. As in, “NO NOTEBOOKS”.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Quaker oatmeal, Clif Bars and my coffee cup. Nuff said. I get hungry after getting to work after running in the morning.

The BIG BLUE E

E Caper

Ah, perhaps my fondest work-related memory.

At the IE 4 launch event, which was held on the waterfront in San Francisco, there were these two big plywood and fabric “E”s that were like spotlights. The folks on the IE team who were present at the event were obviously relieved, elated, and well, maybe overly dorky (me included). At the end of the night, we inquired about shipping these really cool Es back to Redmond. No-can-do. They were built in place, and are wider/taller than a truck can be. It would have to be an oversized load. Too expensive, not expense-able.

I don’t remember who, but someone had the brilliant idea of “delivering” it to Netscape. Purely as a memento. Purely. We are nice guys you know.

So, after bribing a tow driver (it was a little WIDE), we had it loaded up (with the participation of two notables from Wired Magazine, who will go unnamed).

We stopped at a local Safeway on the way, and one of the participants got our Netscape buddies a card (crying baby on the cover, saying “Its so sad when..” Inside: “Bad things happen to good people.” We signed it – “Love, the IE team.”) and a sympathy balloon.

On to Netscape.

We arrive, drop off the IE, take some pictures, and quickly leave. (In the picture, I’m second from the left. The dude on the far left is the tow driver).

We all roll back to the hotel, have some laughs, and then go to bed.

Now, I have lousy vision. I wear contacts (-3.75), and I can’t see much without them. I wear them all the time, except when I’m sleeping.

I wake up, turn on the TV, and see what appears to be the E, but now toppled, with the Mozilla mascot on top – with a TV reporter doing a standup in front of it. “…and late last night a band of hooligans, purportedly from Microsoft…..”  OH CRAP! Its news!

It turns out that Netscape tried to make a big deal of this. Their PR people accused us of “Sophomoric Tactics”. I know, I have the article still. HA! We were having fun!

Ah, the heady days of the Browser Wars….

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