Getting back to work

I’m back working again – or I guess I should say je suis de retour. I took a few weeks off in southwestern France, one thing led to another, and I decided to stay a bit longer than I originally planned. I’m working remotely for a week or two before returning stateside. It’s nice to have a job that’s flexible enough to allow me to do this – and nicer to work on a product that enables this sort of thing to work seamlessly. Yesterday, for example, a colleague sent me an IM to see if I was free, a moment later were talking over the phone, and seconds later he was sharing his desktop while we discussed a document open on his computer – and all of this within the super-cool application my team is working on. I’m working from about 4:30 in the afternoon until 2:00am local time (with a dinner break in there with my family). That corresponds roughly with the workday back in Redmond (note, that I don’t have to line up my day with Redmond, it actually works out a  bit better for me to work the late hours).

Yesterday was my first day back, and I was able to get my inbox back to zero messages and make a pretty good dent in my to do list. I expect to get the backlog under control today and start making forward progress by the end of the day today or by tomorrow for sure.

I was able to get a chunk of reading done last week. I re-read Seth Godin’s Tribes and Pat Lencioni’s Five temptations of a CEO. I also finally finished Robert Austin’s book on measuring performance in organizations (additional comments on all of these in future blog posts). I’ve also done a lot more thinking about the state of the state of software testing and expect to discuss my thoughts openly in the coming weeks.

Some random vacation stories follow…

After a 4 hour flight to Chicago, followed by another 8+ hours to Paris, we had 24 hours to kill before taking a (very fast) train to Toulouse. My wife and I have very different approaches to dealing with jet lag. My approach is to get out in the daylight and get some exercise, and she can somehow sleep it off and adjust almost as quickly. The six-year old was up for an adventure, so off we went while the girls slept. We tried the Louvre first, but Cole just couldn’t handle the line. He did, however, suggest walking to the Eiffel Tower. I like to walk, so we went for it. Eventually, we made it, and the little guy decided we should hike the stairs. I tried to talk him out of hit, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. The line for the elevator was at least an hour long, but within 5-10 minutes, we were climbing stairs. I figured he’d get tired, and we could turn around. Nope – he made it to the first level without a break. After a quick pain au chocolat, he was ready to climb to the second level. He was completely ready to climb to the top, but the line was at least an hour long and he was getting tired, so we headed down. We agreed that a taxi was probably the best way to return to our hotel, and we arrived back around 5:00pm. We both took a short nap then woke up the ladies to head back out on the town. We walked over to Notre Dame, saw the Louvre again (the outside), and introduced the children to the joy of chocolate crepes.The next morning I grabbed the kids as soon as we got up and headed back to the Louvre (travel tip – there’s never a line in the morning). The kids and I had a whirlwind tour (pretty much walked straight to the Italian painters and showed them the Mona Lisa), then browsed a bit more before heading to the train station.

Last week we visited Carcassonne (kids loved it). It was a little “touristy”, but not nearly as much as I expected it to be . We had a great time yesterday at the Labyrinthe de Merville. The “labyrinth” is a huge hedge maze with a twist. Along the path, there are clues that you need to read – the clues help you solve puzzles, and you use the answers to the puzzles to unlock the big gates in your way (by entering the answer on the keypad). It was fun for me because I love puzzles, and the kids couldn’t get enough of it. We did pretty well, but got stuck a few times when my French failed me (forgot our dictionary at our house in Toulouse– oops). If you’re ever near Toulouse (or Bordeaux for that matter), I’d suggest checking this place out. We may even go back again before we head home.

There’s lot’s more, but nothing terribly interesting – if you want more thoughts, comment below or bug me on twitter.

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