While Greg is off at RIT doing one of my favorite work activities (recruiting) I thought I'd veer off topic for a bit and talk about extra-curricular activities.
There's a stereotype out there that Microsoft people let themselves get consumed by work. There are certainly some examples of this, but most of the people I know aren't like that at all. Yes, we work hard, but we also focus on taking time to enjoy life outside of work. This manifests itself in a lot of different ways. My boss has two young children and he spends most of his free time with them. I have a friend who just finished getting his pilots license. Another friend has a horse and rides in a drill team. I take a little different slant, I spend most of my free time on sports and other outdoor recreation.
Seattle is a great place for that stuff too. We have a huge adult recreational soccer community and I'm usually on 2-4 teams. Then I play on a work league flag football team (Microsoft is big enough we have our own intramurals.) Plus there are always people playing soccer, ultimate, football, and even cricket on the sports fields on campus.
The other great thing about Seattle is all the water that's around (the rain has to go somewhere right?) I go sea-kayaking on Lake Union and Lake Washington all the time, and there's not much that relaxes me after work like sitting out in the middle of the lake and letting my hands trail in the water. But my favorite recreation activity is actually a second job. After working in an office during the week I go out and guide whitewater raft trips on the weekends. This is great because it gets me outside after spending my weekdays indoors. It's hard when the weather's nice and I'm in front of a computer, but knowing that on the weekend I'll be outside the whole time keeps me sane. And I guess I can throw in a shameless plug here too, if you're looking to go rafting in Washington give us a call (www.blueskyoutfitters.com.)
I hope that helps to dispel the stereotype. Sure, we work hard, but we all want to have lives outside of work - and work life balance is something we try to focus on here. We all do better work when we get a break from it and experience life away from the office.
Tomorrow I'll be back on topic. I'm going to spend some time writing up my thoughts on automated testing. This is something a lot of people have asked for, so expect a lengthy post.