I went to a White Elephant gift exchange with about 20 other people about 2 weeks ago. What was unusual was that this was with people who were on my very first team here at Microsoft, over 9 years ago. We hadn't had a daVinci team function in a long time, and it was great seeing people that I rarely get to interact with anymore. In fact, we had people who had retired from Microsoft or moved on to other companies come back for the function. I hope that it's not another 7+ years before I can get together with one of the funnest group of people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. The hallway nerf wars, the office decorations while people were out of the office, along with building a really great piece of software that still ships in various forms in SQL Server, VS, and Office nearly a decade since it's inception was an awesome first experience at Microsoft. I think the biggest things I took away from that experience were:

  • you can work hard and have fun at the same time.
  • building today's highly complex software, by its very scope, must be a collaborative effort, and team building is an important part of facilitating that collaboration.

And that leads me on to my second point. There were some neat presents at the gift exchange, and I ended up taking home some european chocolate; which was a top 10 gift, definitely. But what I wanted most was the new Mr. Potato Head Darth Tater, but alas, it was not in the luck of the draw for me to end up with it.

I mentioned this Darth Tater to my kids, and of course, I ended up with Darth Tater under the tree, which was pretty cool. See, my kids figure that if they get me a toy, they will get to play with it at my office when they spend the day with me, which, since we homeschool our kids, is a few times a year (way more than I spent time with my dad at his job). Thus I've gotten Star Wars lego sets, hot wheels cars, etc. over the years from the kids.

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So when I mentioned it to the kids, I knew that one of them was bound to get it for me, and they didn't disappoint. I really thought it was pretty cool. But what was so suprising (and thus blog-able) was that I not only got Darth Tater, but I also got a SpudTrooper potato head! What's next? Princess Lay's? Luke Frywalker?