Things I Didn’t Miss About Traveling

In my MSIT role, I only made two business trips, a training session with Thomas Erl and Tech Ed last year. I did travel for two presentations last fall, but both of those were on the conference’s dime, not Microsoft’s.

In other words, even though I haven’t even officially started on the Dynamic Languages team yet, by going to PyCon this weekend I’ve already halfway to matching my total Microsoft sponsored travel of the past eighteen months. I used to travel all the time – the architect evangelist role I was in when I started this blog had about 35-40% travel. But boy I am rusty. Well, rusty maybe isn’t the term, but I had forgotten how much of a pain it is to travel:

  • When I got to SeaTac Thursday, the Alaska Air desk was mobbed but everyone was just standing around waiting. Their computers had crashed and they were waiting for them to come back up. I asked an Alaska Air employee what the back up plan was, you know in case the computers didn’t come back up. “None” was the response. <sigh> I (and everyone else) ended up wasting a good half an hour before the system was operational.
  • My flight was around 30 minutes late taking off and we had to circle Chicago O’Hare for a good 30 minutes before we could land. Plus it took 15 minutes for them to get the cabin door open.
  • Internet service at the conference and my hotel has been pretty iffy. I’m not surprised by problematic wireless access at a conference (though it was greatly improved by the end of day one), but I wasn’t expecting hardline access in my room to be so bad. Speed has been pitiful when it worked at all. I called tech support (after the hotel staff uselessly sent up an “engineer” with a network cable) and waited on hold 30 minutes before giving up and leaving me a message. They called me back literally 3 hours later, by then it was after midnight. I was still up since I’m on west coast time, but come on!

Once I actually got here, the conference has been great (specifics on that in a future blog post). A lot more stuff than I’d like is going over my head so far, since I don’t have a grounding in Python’s language model yet. But getting to meet folks and chat face to face is the most important reason for going to these conferences in person – most of the presentation content will end up online anyway. I’m also getting to hang out with my new team – we all went for Chicago style deep dish Pizza last night. I think I’m going to fit in just great with them.

However, there’s one other huge difference between traveling now compared to traveling “back then”: I didn’t have kids before. Leaving my wife behind was hard enough. Leaving behind my kids as well is even harder. Explaining to Patrick and Riley that “Daddy has a business trip” and so I won’t be around for the weekend as usual was exactly no fun. I’m taking a few days off in the job transition to make up for it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring the family along on a few trips in the future, like I did for DevTeach. OSCON, for example, has been in Portland five years – that’s just a few hour drive from Redmond.

But maybe I should wait until I officially start the new job before planning my next trip.