Last Day in the Office

Dec 23

Last Thursday was my last day in the office. While, technically, our journey doesn’t begin until the new year, this is a big milestone. I’ve worked for Microsoft since 1996 (with one year off for good behavior 😉 ) and I am quite honored that our new leadership is letting me continue in a part-time, remote capacity as we begin our trip. How we work while full-timing in our Airstream is probably going to be one of the recurring topics on this blog and this is that first step – cutting the office cord.

Over the many years, I have accumulated lots of stuff in the office. Tchotchkes from different teams and events, awards commemorating product launches or training sessions, loads of books, dozens of handy-yet-unique cables, stacks of patent awards and more old devices than you can shake a stick at. I resolved to keep just enough of these to fill an 18 gallon tub and delete or distribute the rest.

The patent awards were the toughest.  When you apply for a patent at Microsoft, you receive a 2-3 inch granite cube engraved with the name of the patent, your name, a brief note of thanks and a coin attached to the top. When the patent is finally approved — usually years later — you get a wooden plaque with the first page of the patent engraved on a metal plate. I had a LOT of these.  More than 40 cubes and about 30 plaques remained in my office, even after an earlier purge attempt at the cubes in a previous move. On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, I spent some time playing Secret Einstein*. That’s a variation on Secret Santa where, instead of handing out Christmas gifts, I distribute my patent awards to people I worked with over the years. The secret part comes from trying to not let people know what I’m doing and trying to make the awards that I dropped off blend in with their own collection of patents. My hope is that months or years from now, when they are packing up their office for another move or going through their own memorabilia, they will come across the cube or plaque that I delivered and have two thoughts:

  1. Buh?
  2. Oh yeah, I remember that guy!
A few of my patent cubes that have headed to new homes.

A few of my patent cubes that have headed to new homes. One of my favorites is the bottom left one – it is for inventing Fast User Switching back in Windows XP.

I didn’t give away all of my patent awards. I kept 10 plaques from my favorite inventions and a couple of cubes that matched. I also have a few more that I’m hoping to give out if I get a chance to stop by the office again over the holiday break. Personally, I think Secret Einstein should become a tradition at Microsoft. It’s a way of sharing mementos of our work and invention with each other.

So with that, another major milestone has passed and as I write this we are only 9 days from launch. It’s time for the final preparations and some relaxing time with our family before we hit the road. “Where are your going first?” is the question I hear the most these days. Well, we’ll save answer that for another post.

Patent plaques can really stack up in the office.  30 is way too many to hang up so they just kind of pile up.

Patent plaques can really stack up in the office. 30 is way too many to hang up so they just kind of pile up.

*Albert Einstein was a Swiss patent clerk before he became famous for his Physics genius. Like Einstein, I was giving out patents. I claim no other similarity to him 🙂


  1. How cool! I would think it would be really cool to find a souvenir from a long-gone co-worker. What a cool way to get rid of things.

    I just bought my Airstream! It’s a 2010 27ft Classic. Now all I have to do is finish cleaning out the house and then sell it. (easy)

  2. Congratulations Kim. The Classics are lovely trailers and I’m sure you’ll love it!

  3. Michael /

    Chris and Leslie
    Uber Jealous Uber Uber Jealous Have a great adventure and be safe and will definitely be following your blog. When in Vegas give me a call, would love to get together

  4. david caulton /

    Congrats, Chris. So jealous you’ve taken this big step and happy you were able to work it out with Terry and the gang. Please keep posting! I admire you willingness to de-clutter and not take out a storage facility for boxes of T shirts, hats, ship gifts, briefcases, etc….

  5. I would like a sample cube or plaque if you have any extras left. Never seen one.
    And you are similar to Einstein in another way- you are 1/4 Swiss.

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