People are often surprised when I tell them that I studied music and theatre in college, and wonder how I ended up in the technology industry. One step on that path was working for a company that build television and industrial scenery, where I learned a good deal about using computers and CAD software in conjunction with a computer-controlled router table (not the kind that routes packets, but rather the kind that cuts patterns out of sheets of wood or other materials). That company, TSA, inc., also provided me with a somewhat unusual conversation starter for a number of years. For a period of time, I could go into any bar in the country, and as often as not, point to one of the TVs running ESPN SportsCenter, and say "See that desk? I built that." Cruising around the web recently, I came across TSA's web site, which included a picture of that very set.
One other interesting note...a few weeks ago, I was over at our Reston office, where we recently opened a brand-new Microsoft Technology Center, which includes an area called the Envisioning Center, a diorama of sorts, in which visitors can see a 'day in the life' presentation highlighting Microsoft technologies. As it happens, I thought I recognized one of the folks working on the Envisioning Center. Turns out it was my old boss...TSA did the work. It's a small world*
* but I wouldn't want to paint it.