Part of my agenda while in Seattle was to find a place for us to live, so I spent a good bit of time on Thursday and Friday driving around Eastside neighborhoods and visiting apartment complexes. I also sent out several emails to Craigslist advertisers about their properties. The net result was that I finally realized that it didn't make sense to rent something before my family has a chance to get to know the area with me. I think it's very likely we'll end up in Bellevue or Redmond, but the city is seductive as well, and we should all decide together.
So we'll spend the first month of our time in Seattle in corporate housing while we look around. That will make it much easier to check out Craigslist postings, since most of those are "available now" properties.
The weather was spectacular while I was there, and I really fell in love with the Seattle area. It definitely didn't hurt that a number of wonderful people were gracious enough to have me over to their homes, and made me feel welcome and at home in the area. I met people's families, got to socialize informally, and definitely got the sense that there will be great social network waiting for us when we get there in June (for the kids, too).
The changes at MSR that I referenced in an earlier post are going to have an impact on my year, mostly in a good way. Lili Cheng, who hired me, is leaving MSR to take a great job over on the Windows team--and she's taking her wonderful development team from the Social Computing Group with her. Scott Counts and Shelly Farnham, the two resesarchers who'll be left after that exodus, will be joining Marc Smith's group at MSR, and he's going to shed his group's current name (Community Technologies) for the Social Computing moniker. So, I'll be with Marc's group.
But...after some discussion with Lili and Marc and Brady Forrest (a project manager for MSN Search), I've asked that I be able to split my time between Marc's and Brady's groups. The search team has wooed me with their search champ meetings, and I'm excited about the idea that I could be able to influence the development of live products as well as do more prototype-style work with MSR. Everyone seems amenable to the arrangement, so it looks like a definite go.
I'm feeling much more excited and enthusiastic about the whole sabbatical plan now--it helped immensely to spend some intensive time in Seattle and with the folks I'll be working with. I've got a better mental model now of where I'm going, which reduced a lot of my anxiety.
So, that's the pre-move news. Now I've got to get serious about packing and storing stuff here, so that we can actually go!