Two princes

Today, I saw the two corporations that keep Seattle alive – the first one being the Boeing plant in Everett, where all the Boeing 747, 767, and 777 aircraft are built. No photos were allowed, unfortunately.

As you may have heard, all three assembly lines are housed in a single building. It’s a big building – apparently the largest one by volume in the world. So large, in fact, it has no heating nor air conditioning. Seattle’s temperate weather keeps its cavernous innards comfortable, but if it gets too cold, they turn on more overhead lamps. If it gets too hot, they open the bay doors. It helps considering each door is three football fields large.

The tour was only an hour long, and actually only consisted of a short walk through a maintenance tunnel to the observation gallery, where we got to see the first half of the 747 assembly line and the second half of the 777 line. Then a quick drive to the painting shed and plane parking lot via coach bus. The airlines show up with their own crews, and fly them right off the lot.

The second one being the one well all love so dear to our hearts, Microsoft Corporation.

What struck me was, compared to snooty banks and consulting firms, the Microsoft campus was a pretty spartan, functional environment. It looked like a university campus, but cleaner. No marble floors or fancy sandalwood furniture. Even on Bill’s floor, the upper part of Building 34, just a series of small drywall offices.

I decided to pay a visit to Elminster, Silverlotus’s old Asheron’s Call chum, who is now doing testing for a new RPG for Xbox. She was dismayed that the latest build removed a cutscene after defeating a certain boss; instead of a “really cool sequence” all I got to see was a popup window with the words “Awaiting technology”.

I also paid my respects to an old university classmate, now a program manager for Outlook 2003. He still keeps track of the Leafs and even has a giant Canadian flag tacked to his wall. He laughed when I mentioned how expensive food was in America. “Yeah,” he said. “Sometimes I drive up to Vancouver and pick up some groceries.”