Monday July 9, 7.30pm. When I should be drinking American Bourbon

Denver Travel Blog

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Concerned for the time and the distance, I jumped in a cab to get me to the mall. Macy’s was the first place I came to, so, it was the first place that I looked for clothing. There was a good choice. Although I had every intention to claim for these clothes, I could not bring myself to spend over $100 on just a shirt. It was the same in all the other shops; nice clothes, just expensive. GAP had a shirt for under $30 so I bought it. I figured that it would go with the jeans provided I aired them. I took the shirt and another t-shirt to the counter. The guy behind the counter was taken by my accent, a little too much for my liking, but I was relieved to have some clothes that I could afford. We chatted, at first about my debit card that would not get accepted, then the conference and then England. It was mindless chatter, but pleasant. The parting question he asked was about the term GMT, he often hears it referred to on the BBC, but has no idea what it meant; I shared my understanding. He seemed grateful.

A slice of pizza was tea. Quite a large slice and very cheesy, which caught me out as i left the mall having taken a bite. I boldly walked past a sweet looking young lady sat on her own, eating a sandwich; it was as i smiled that i felt the burning drool of mozerella cheese on my chin. Why does that happen? After consuming the pizza I realised that I had missed lunch and that I had not had a proper meal for ages. To compensate, I partook of a couple of drinks and later, while the trousers aired, I enjoyed another Poptart while watching TV.

Hurray for incompetent tourists who leave phone chargers in hotel rooms! The kind receptionists, who had shown so much pity on me, found one that worked on my phone so at least I could now play cards… and keep in touch, and view my calendar of appointments for this week’s conference. With the phone on charge, i laid in bed until at some point i left consciousness behind.

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The intention of MS 101 is to provide a three-day overview to the company, its history and strategy. For the purpose of this convention it was reduced to an unsavoury 5 hours. The auditorium was quite full, many first time attendees to the partner conference, many who like me wanted to know a little more about what to expect over the following few days. My background is in communications, so it never fails to surprise me how I always become critical of presentations. Firstly the length of speaches; they are often far too long. To entertain myself, I looked for spelling mistakes on slides and listened out for words that I genuinely do not think exist, words that would only be allowed in America:


Productizing and


What did impress me, though, was a video produced by Microsoft that reflected the way the MS teams reacted to customer pain; we have all felt frustration when a Windows app falls over and shows a box offering us the opportunity to send the problem to Microsoft. In this video it was shown how, on receipt of these notifications staff would seek out the person responsible for developing the system at fault and then give them a reflection of the customer's pain. Sometimes this would manifest as a dual bolt up the bum causing pain in the derrier to the developer. Sometimes an electric shock would be sent through the employee. The company showed at length the tools and technologies used to ensure that Microsoft staff truly felt what customers felt! Tongue in cheek it may have been, but was a good and light hearted insight into the culture of Microsoft.

In addition to the made up words, speakers were thrusting out acronyms. In need to decipher these, I found a guide at the back of a referencee book. There are 150 listed acronyms with their descriptions. But there are many others that are being mentioned.

Toward the end of the session, my phone’s alarm system warned me of a social event that would begin in an hour’s time. Keen, I made my way back to the hotel to change in to something that is mine, before embarking on an outrageous, fully paid for social bash in Denver.

Tragedy; the case had not shown up.

That ended the evening’s plan. Instead, I was forced back to the mall to buy clothes for the following day. But not before I called Virgin to find out what was going on. When I finally got through, the Indian assistant was only able to inform me that “the case should have arrived in Newark last night”. I told her that I knew that; I wanted to know if it had.

She couldn’t find out; I’d have to call later.

What kind of inadequate, incompetent system does Virgin run? If Sir Branson needs a new computer application to manage information better, he really should call me (on my work number or contact via the website:

The alarm on my phone rudely woke me up. The alarm was set for a reoccurring managers meeting that happens every Monday while I am at work. To my immense frustration, in spite of trying I could not get back to sleep. My body clock was well and truly messed up. The Tv was a last resort, perhaps some poor night time programme would help induce sleep? To my relief, a repeat of the World Poker Tour, 2006, was on TV; back to back quality action. Someone won over one million dollars. When it finished I wanted desperately to be asleep.

Coffee, shower, coffee.

I dressed in the new pants, socks and t-shirt that I had bought the day before and slipped on the now-aired jeans and trainers that I had become so attached to over the past days, litterally. With the computer now bereft of life, I made my way to reception at 5am, I asked if there was an all-day diner; I was hungry and the thought of a warm waffle showered in maple syrup and sprinkled with a gentle layer of soft sugar was too tempting. There are diners open all hours in New York. I hoped that Denver would be as accommodating. But they are not.

So, I sat at the PC in reception and logged on.

At 6am I went to the supermarket across the road (with 8 lanes of traffic getting over that alone took a while) to buy breakfast. It was shut and would open at 7am. I returned to the hotel room and watched tv; it turns out that there are so many things that I could buy to make me thinner, happier and achieve an income of up to $30,000 a month. Opening time could not have come sooner. Now that the sun had risen it was getting warm. Fresh but cold croissants made up breakfast together with bananas and apple juice, eaten in the luxury of the hotel room. Not the breakfast that I had wanted, but then I was in no position to haggle.

At some point I knew I had to make a decision; if the suitcase had not shown up I would have to go and buy some clothes. My concern was that the moment I left that the van would turn up to deliver my case, meaning I would waste money that some jobs-worth may not want to reemburse me for. I had to get some thing; I couldn't risk turning up to a business conference in what I had.

The girls in reception, that I had now become friends with, suggested that I went to the Cherry Creek Mall; a 15-minute-walk from the hotel. Leaving to get there for 9am, I set off. It took a little longer than originally thought, but it was a nice morning. I travelled alongside a grassy area on one side, between the footpath and the road and to the other, a hedge separating the path from some water. This was Cherry Creek. In the early morning hours many people were out running, cycling, rollerblading and walking the dog in an idyllic scene. I, however, was on a mission.

The first store I came to was a Safeway. I guess that it is related to the English supermarket. But I passed that and went onward to the mall. Inside was vast. There were Mercedes cars and a make of moped on a display. A children’s play area was the focus point of a balconied atrium. The shops were plentiful, but shut.

Alike to Eeyore, rain clouds suddenly appeared over my head when I realised that the stores would not open until 10am. I had to be at the conference to register at 11am and in a session shortly afterwards. Time was against me. Another decision was called for.

Back to the supermarket opposite the hotel. It wasn't a great shirt, but it fit, goes with blue jeans and was only $20. The morning walk had brought out sweat and for the benefit of those that I would meet, I showered and dressed in fresh clothes.

Boarding the bus, I was finally to experience the culture of Microsoft.

photo by: crystalware