Last week I attended the 2009 MVP Summit held at Redmond/Seattle and I’ve got to say that I had two rather peculiar experiences whilst there. The first incident was on the way to Seattle – it snowed in Atlanta of all things to happen and this resulted in dozens of cancelled and delayed flights. My flight was scheduled for a 2:30 PM departure and after a 3 1/2 hour delay where they pushed back the boarding time every 30 minutes, we finally boarded at 6 PM. Once we got in the aircraft we waited on the tarmac for another 3 1/2 hours more before take-off as we had to wait in line behind dozens of other flights for de-icing. I am still not sure why they couldn’t have us wait outside (at the gate) and let us board after the de-icing. The air was pretty stuffy inside because the air-conditioners seemed to be at half power. And after take-off they ran out of food when it was my turn to order – so yeah, that didn’t help either. It was one of the nastiest experiences I’ve had in an airport/flight in my entire life – one that I hope will not be repeated in future.
The second incident occurred on Tuesday night (or rather Wednesday morning). I was at the Grand Hyatt (17th floor) and had gone to bed close to 1 AM as I had gone for a late dinner/chat with an old friend. Around 4:30 AM or so this really loud siren came on and an even louder announcement was repeated instructing all occupants to move to the nearest staircase and to descend to the first floor immediately. It was also announced that the elevators were shut down. I wasn’t sure if it was a fire-emergency or some temporary air-pollution – in any case, I put on my shoes, picked up my laptop and climbed down the 17 set of stairs (16 maybe if they didn’t have a 13th floor, didn’t feel like counting then). I found a few dozen equally incredulous folks downstairs wondering what the heck had just happened. We watched the fire-trucks come and the firemen go up – and all this time we were all out on the streets. A few minutes later, they said everything was alright and said we could go back up to our rooms. There was a further wait of 20 minutes or so as we waited for an engineer to come down and reset the elevator system – and I didn’t want to climb up the 17 floors, not with my laptop. The worst part of the incident was when we found out that some dim-witted inconsiderate jerk had been smoking in a non-smoking floor which was what set off the fire-alarm. So they had to evacuate that floor as well as the floors directly above and beneath it.
The nice thing about the trip was that the summit was pretty good, we had some interesting technical sessions, the food was great, and it was good to catch up with some fellow MVPs and Microsoft buddies – some of whom I’ve only met at Microsoft summits and never outside Redmond.