I picked a bag: Tumi T-Tech Presidio Filbert T-Pass Organizer Laptop Briefcase

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1763 days ago

(See my previous post for context.)

What? Seriously? Tumi T-Tech Presidio Filbert T-Pass Organizer Laptop Briefcase? Let’s break that name down:

  • Tumi: The company who makes the bag. Well known for making quality, well-designed bags.
  • T-Tech: The “collection” (i.e. all the bags in the T-Tech line share key features and styling).
  • Presidio: Uh… an even more narrowly-defined “collection”.
  • Filbert: The model name of the bag. (Really, Filbert? Someone thought that was a good name? As my wife says, this bag is royalty!)
  • T-Pass: The brand name they use for their “checkpoint friendly” feature.
  • Organizer: It has dividers for paper.
  • Laptop: It is designed to hold a laptop.
  • Briefcase: It is carried by handles and/or a shoulder strap, and doesn’t have a flap over the top (in which case it would be called “Messenger”).

So yeah, their marketing department needs to be sacked. What I bought was the Tumi Filbert Laptop Bag. But apparently that wasn’t confusing enough.

On the other hand, their product design department seems quite healthy – this is a great bag. Let’s review the criteria:

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Laptop bag 4.0, backlogs, and story form

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1771 days ago

Laptop bag 2.0

Somewhere out there is a laptop bag just waiting for me to find it. But first, I have to spec it out.

Like Rands, I recently got laptop bag religion and I spent an excessive amount of time cogitating about features, price, tradeoffs, where to buy, and features again.

Then I got serious about it.

I haven’t yet found the bag, but in the meantime, I’ve written this blog post, because it provided the excuse I needed to really go batshit insane do a thorough job of my analysis. Not only does this post include a detailed list of requirements for my perfect laptop bag, but it also includes a glance into what I do in my life as a Product Manager. Hopefully one or the other of those is interesting enough to keep your attention :)

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Stirring things up

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3259 days ago

Four weeks ago, life was pretty simple: I was comfortable (but not really happy) in my job, we had a nice apartment, our expenses were low, we had a fairly stable plan for the future, and I was planning on buying a motorcycle. Now, though, everything is different: today was my last day at NetJets, we just bought a car, we’re looking for a new place to live, the future is very uncertain, and it’s not clear if I’ll be getting a motorcycle.

And yet, still, I think today is better than four weeks ago. Crazy, huh?

The story goes something like this: Five weeks ago (to the day), I finally realized (after much prodding from my wife) what I wanted my next career move to be. I wanted to be a Product Manager for a software company, much like I was back before I left Noteworthy Medical Systems, four years ago. I realized how important it is for me to have my hands on real problems that I get to solve myself, and how important it is for me to be on the front lines rather than in an IT department (“in the business, not serving the business”). Nothing against NetJets – they have a truly amazing IT department! – but having tasted life in a software company, I wanted to get back to that. The problem was (five weeks ago) that it’s extremely difficult to get a job as a product manager in a software company, especially in Ohio, so I essentially put that plan on hold for “someday”.

So then four weeks ago (to the day), an old friend/coworker from Noteworthy called me up and basically said “we need you to come back and be a product manager – are you interested?”. Huh, funny how these things happen. I told her I was maybe interested, and spent the next week talking to her, going to Cleveland for interviews, and trying to figure out what had changed since I left. After about a week of this, I was convinced that Noteworthy was in good shape, and that this was a legitimate opportunity, and that I’d really love going back into the product manager job.

So it was easy for me to say yes to the offer – except that Noteworthy is in Cleveland, and we live in Columbus, and Kristina is very happy as a student at OSU. So I was going to have to travel to Cleveland for this job, leaving her in Columbus, and we both know that we don’t do well with full-time travel. So I managed to work out a deal with Noteworthy to travel half-time, working from home the other half, and after much discussion we decided that we could handle that, and I said yes to the offer.

That was two weeks ago (to the day).

So I put in my notice, and we started making plans for how to make this all work. First, obviously, we needed a second car. We’ve never had a second car – our lifestyle just never demanded it, and a car is a huge expense. The question was, which car?

Well, that gets to the next decision, which was to get a dog. As part of agreeing to the travel, Kristina and I made an agreement with each other that we’d get a dog for her, to help keep her company while I’m gone. Well… she wants a big dog. And I think that it’s always better to have two dogs, because they keep each other happy and healthy. And we happen to know of a breeder who has Great Pyrenees puppies for sale, and that happens to be the particular breed of very large dog that we had our eye on… so the plan is to get two huge puppies. Oh, the changes…

So back to the car. Between the two new dogs, and the fact that Kristina is a horticulture student who regularly carries plant stuff around, we decided that we needed a car with lots of space and that’s easy to clean. Minivans were right out, jeeps weren’t big enough, and SUVs are generally a waste of money, so that left the Honda Element – a perfect car for this situation, and one that we really liked. But then that got tough – we were trying to keep the cost low (so we needed a used car), but we like having convenience features (power mirrors) and a nice stereo, and we both like driving stick-shift cars, and we didn’t want one with a ton of miles on it. It is possible to get an Element that meets all these criteria, but we couldn’t find one in Columbus. So we went to Pittsburgh (Monday night) to buy one that we found there, and so far we love it. It took a lot of work to finally settle on that car, and to get the financing sorted out (without having a used car dealer screw us), and get a price negotiated, but it was worth it.

But wait, there’s another consequence to getting these dogs: our current apartment doesn’t let us have pets. (And I wouldn’t put two huge dogs into our place anyway.) So we have to find a new place, preferably a house with a large fenced yard. And we need to rent it because we’ll probably move in two years when Kristina graduates. And our current rent is quite low, and we don’t pay our gas bill, so our housing expenses are about to go way up. And we’re probably not going to find something close to campus with a large fenced yard in a safe neighborhood that’s not too expensive. So that search will continue :)

And finally, all these increased expenses may mean that I can’t get a motorcycle. I have my license (took the class last fall) and a helmet (birthday present, a week ago) and a riding jacket (another birthday present), but no motorcycle. More on this as events unfold.

So, to summarize: new job, new travel lifestyle, new car, new house, new dogs, maybe no motorcycle. Oh, and Kristina’s 30th birthday is in June, so I need to plan that. So yeah, things are a little stirred up around here :) But they’re good.

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Oregon trip

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3493 days ago

Kristina and I took a vacation in Oregon this August, and as expected, we fell in love with it. We’d both always had this idea that we’d like Oregon, and one of the people on my team at NetJets lives out there and invited us to visit, and this year is our fifth anniversary, so we decided to go. With the help of a few borrowed guidebooks and the advice of a local, I did a lot of planning, made a loose itinerary, and booked the flights and hotels.

I’ve posted about 500 pictures over in the gallery, and they tell the basic story. (I know, 500 is way too many… but we took 1300 originally so this is a huge improvement.) We started in Portland and wandered all around town on the very-well-done public transportation. While there, we went to the world’s largest bookstore and went there again to stand in line for the midnight release of Harry Potter. We also went to the stunning Japanese Garden and the much-less-stunning International Rose Test Garden. From there, we got on the road and happened to pass by (and stop at) an aviation museum that houses the Spruce Goose. We then drove down the coast to Yachats, which is now the easy winner as our favorite place to vacation. I was a little sneaky and had rented a room with a view, and we spent a lot of time exploring the rocky coast and playing in the tide pools. Driving around there, we saw these cool Tsunami Hazard Zone signs, went to the famous Newport Aquarium (and stopped by the headquarters of Rogue Brewery), and took a few long-distance (but free!) pictures of the Haceta Head Lighthouse. You can see our cool Mustang convertible in some of those pictures :) Sadly, we eventually had to leave Yachats, and we semi-intentionally ended up having a crazy driving adventure through deep forest roads housing scary people who really, really don’t want visitors. From there we visited a few waterfalls and drove out to Bend. (Bend is the town where the person I work with lives.) Somehow, we don’t have any pictures of Bend, but we really liked it there. We do have pictures of our canoing trip and a trip we made up the Mt. Bachelor ski lift to try to eat dinner, but we ended up not eating there. Finally, we drove back to Portland, did a little more sight seeing, and flew home.

Phew!

Actually, it was great. We had 9 days, and no set schedule except for the hotel bookings. We were able to take our time and do whatever struck our fancy, from a big menu of previously-researched sights and activities. It’s my new favorite way to take a vacation :)

I have a few lasting thoughts / advice that I want to save, also:

  • Portland was an OK city, but we didn’t really love it. The highway traffic sucks, and the sky is always gray. It does have some great vegetarian food and good public transportation, but it just didn’t grab onto us the same way Chicago did.
  • The Japanese Garden is truly incredible. Wandering through there, I could help but feel awe and wonder, and be inspired by the talent and energy and time that went into making it. I will go back.
  • The International Rose Test Garden was boring (for me). It is just row after row after row of roses. If you really love roses, maybe you’ll like it.
  • Voodoo doughnut is only going to seem cool to you if you come prepared for it to be a dingy place from the 70’s.
  • When you think Portland Saturday Market, think “flea market” and you’ll have a good idea what to expect.
  • The Newport Aquarium is well worth visiting, and it’s even worth the price of admission :)
  • Never, ever, ever go to Yachats. If you do, you’ll be tempted to stay, and then it will be more crowded when we retire there ;) If you must visit, it’s well worth the money to stay at the Overleaf Lodge. You should also eat at the Drift Inn Restaurant (we ate there five or six times) and at the Yachats River House.
  • The best thing about Bend is that you can drive 30 minutes one way to be in desert, or 30 minutes the other to go skiing, or you can just stay in town to have great weather and lots of cool things to do. It’s the ultimate in micro-climate adjustability!
  • The Mt. Bachelor twilight dinner is a giant rip-off. We thought it would be really nice, but it’s really just a cheap ski lodge trying to sell fancy food. We tried to eat there, but they didn’t have anyone to seat us, didn’t have a table ready for our reservation, don’t have a good wine or beer selection, and ran out of steak (one of the four dinner choices). We left, and ended up at the Seasons restaurant in the Seventh Mountain Resort. It is now at the top of my list of all-time best restaurants, for service, atmosphere, food, and wine. Dinner there was absolutely amazing.

Anyhow, the trip was fantastic. We will go back to Oregon, maybe this winter. We want to see what it’s like in winter, and we’re already wishing that we’d brought back some good art from there. If not soon, though, then someday.

One last thing: I’ve put together a folder of favorite pictures, suitable for framing or giving as gifts ;)

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Pictures finally uploaded

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3493 days ago

I finally got around to uploading all my recent pictures to the gallery. “Recent,” in this case, is defined as “in the last 8 months.” Before this I hadn’t uploaded anything in 2007, even though I’ve been taking pictures all year. So without further ado, I present:

I’ve also uploaded pictures of our recent trip to Oregon, but I’ll be describing those in another post, momentarily. We also (also) have pictures from Kristina’s trip to Richmond, VA, but those haven’t been uploaded yet. Maybe they’ll make it up before Christmas ;)

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All the Hawaii/wedding pictures are up

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3894 days ago

All of the 1800+ pictures that I have from Hawaii and the wedding events are finally uploaded. The collection includes:

If you aren’t yet overwhelmed with picture-goodness, I also have a bunch of camera-recorded movies that I haven’t uploaded because they’re too big. I’ll put them on a CD and distribute it, eventually.

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Back from Hawaii

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3931 days ago

We’re back from Hawaii, and Holly and Jim are married. Coincidence? I think not!

We had an awesome time out there. We spent a week on Waikiki Beach (which is in Honolulu, on Oahu, in Hawaii). We climbed a crater, went snorkeling, went to a Luau, spent time with an old friend, watched Holly marry an awesome guy named Jim (a.k.a. Jamie), relaxed a lot, fell in love with Banyan trees, ate good food, saw the sights, and generally just enjoyed the perfect weather, friendly people, and lack of stress :)

As you might have guessed, the links above are to pictures. Check those out, and also check out some of my favorites.

While I was at it, I posted some pictures that were sitting in the camera. They can be found in the main album. Be sure to check out these portraits to see the real Jim :)

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