May 12

ASCIi User group presentation on blogs

Welcome ASCIi (my former group)!  They are sitting out there watching me give a presentation on blogs as part of the  AZACC presentation tour. They are located in Central Phoenix. (By the way, the presentation is being done over Skype. Cool, huh?)

One of the things I am demoing to each group is how easy it is to post a new blog post. All I have done is create a post in OneNote and copy the text over to my blog post screen.

When the presentation is all done, I am hoping that one or more of them will comment and let us know what they thought of the presentation.

There were 6 people in the audience for this session. If you have a blog you want to share with them, feel free to comment below!

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Mar 17

Why we are leaving Arizona


For the last few months our primary income has been Kathy’s unemployment checks. Because of red tape issues, we had to file unemployment through California.

As you go through the weeks of getting benefits every so often you reach another weekly limit. For example: When you go from extension 1 to extension 2, California stops your payments for a week or so and then makes up the time. You are told in advance that you will be approved and then the paperwork comes for the missing weeks. Things get tight for a while but even out after you catch back up.

The only effective way to communicate with California unemployment is to use their automated phone system. Sometimes, due to budget issues the phone system is not manned. Other times they simply do not have enough staff to handle the calls. When this happens they put you through about 10 minutes of phone menus then they tell you to call back as they are too busy and hang up.

This February, Kathy’s unemployment changed from the normal California unemployment to the federal extension. This changed the process a little bit but we were told we would be extended for another 22 weeks at least. There was the normal delay and then we got the paperwork for the federal.

This worked basically the same. We filled out the paperwork and got the deposit. We figured we were good for a few more months. One other change occurred at this time. The phone system went to 100% too busy to accept calls.

We kept getting paper work but the money stopped coming. There was no way to contact them. Looking back on it we also noticed they had skipped a couple of weeks back February. As this has gone on we have gotten behind on bills.

Yesterday afternoon, we finally heard from them. Because we live in Arizona and this is not a state that qualifies for the federal extensions, we do not get any more checks. They knew about this in February but did not see the need to tell us till now.

We are going to be selling off most of our collected belongings over the next few days. If you want to know what is for sale, let us know. We will post on this Pinterest board as big things go on sale. Friends fly free… If we have something you want/need, let us know.

Because of this we need to leave Arizona before the end of the month. We hope to come back from time to time. It is time to start over and go back to basics.
Thank you for your love and support.
Bruce and Kathy

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Feb 26

Getting ready for #MVP12


Tomorrow morning, I fly to Seattle for this year’s MVP Summit. For the week, I will be enjoying talking with and connecting to the people I never see. Playing around with things I can’t talk about. Sharing stories. Having a blast. Exhausting myself.

The MVP Summit is sponsored by Microsoft every spring as a way to get the MVPs, the product teams, and the MVP team itself re-connected. This year over 1400 community leaders from around the world will descend on Bellevue and take over campus. Microsoft puts us up at hotels in Bellevue, we pay for the rest of our travel ourselves.

Anyone going goes through the same basic pattern of preparation:

  • November: When is registration opening?
  • December: What hotel are you staying at? Do you have a roommate yet?
  • January: Sessions, sessions, have we got sessions yet?
  • February: Who’s going to be there when? Who wants to share an airport ride?

For Bruce and I, this trip may be a scheduled event on every annual calendar, but it doesn’t mean it is stress free. For some reason known only to the monetary gods of the world, checks are always late coming in the second half of February. For some reason, my health always takes a dive during that same period. Stress city. So, Bruce and I take it out on each other. We gripe, we post about each other, we complain.

Then, the brownies happen. I start figuring out who already knows they are getting brownies and who doesn’t know yet. We have the annual fight about how to pack them.

No, I can’t just take a big pan of them in my suitcase. I need to be able to hand them out as I see people. I need to set aside some for my MVP lead, some for the PPT crew, some for the OneNote crew, some for myself, some just for. The image you see here is about half of what I will be bringing. Why? Because I can’t imagine not taking them.

So, Bruce bakes. And as we pack the brownies to go in my suitcase, we come back together. We stop not talking. We admit we will miss each other. I can relax and go. His annual contribution to the event is so much more than a couple of pans of brownies. It is the love and care he sends with them. It is the understanding that: This too will pass. This too we will survive. I always get to this point and find myself torn between “Why can’t we do this without the fights” and “How lucky am I to have someone who understands and supports me in this?”

I fly to Seattle tomorrow. Some of the crew is already there. (55 of them helped out at the local food shelter yesterday at an event called “GeekGive“.) Most of us will fly in tomorrow, and visit with each other at informal events. I want to be at all of them, but have three on my schedule: the Women in Tech Lunch, the Evangelists open house, and the PPT crew Indian dinner. Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent learning fun stuff I can’t share about PowerPoint. Thursday will be spent doing the same thing with OneNote. Evenings will be dinners and parties and conversations. Friday will close with more informal sessions, an outing of some kind, and a flight back to Phoenix.

Come Thursday night when I am fully exhausted and at the last evening’s event, I will start to miss him. I will start saying my MVP goodbyes and start looking back towards Phoenix.

Friday evening as I get on the plane coming home, I will know that another Summit cycle is over. I will be glad to see Bruce’s smiling face at the airport as I leave security.

As we get home, I will merge myself back into the everyday world. I will work as best as I can. I will wait for April to hear if I have been re-awarded and get to go through it all again. And I will know: I am blessed to be an MVP and to have so many people who understand and care.

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