Earlier this year I had signed up for a global technology competition hosted by Microsoft, called the Imagine Cup. I had signed up for all the possible invitational that I thought I could do. I had been learning Visual Basic .Net ever since Microsoft sent me a copy for watching a few web casts last fall, so I made sure to sign up for the Software Design Invitational. For the longest time I had been writing my System Information Tool, which as the name suggests tells you just about everything someone would need to know about their computer. I had been notified not long after submission that I would be competing in the US National Finals in Redmond, WA at Microsoft’s HQ. I was ecstatic about this and not to mention the fact Microsoft picked up the bill for the entire weekend (airfare, hotel, food, etc). However, soon I found out that my program really didn’t meet any of the requirements so I started work on a program for grocery stores and other retail stores to stock products more efficiently. This way I could ensure that it had all 3 of the design requirements (.NET Framework, Mobile Device, Web Service). Sooner than I thought May 19 rolled around and my journey to Redmond began. May 19,2005 Delta Flight 4509 operated by ASA Panama City, FL (PFN) – Atlanta, GA (ATL) Departure: 11:43am Arrival: 2:00pm Aircraft: ATR-72 Seat: 15A I got up early for my flight as I really couldn’t sleep at all. I packed the night before so I was ready to go, all I just had to do was wait for my mom to drive me to the Panama City Airport so that I wouldn’t have to leave my car there. I had her take her time getting to the Airport since I was expecting very small wait times. I got dropped off and In I went to the Delta counter to check in to my flights for the day. I was the only person in line, so check in took no time. Handed my bag to the TSA screener and headed off the to the security checkpoint around the corner, and cleared that within 30 seconds as well. As I sat in the gate area I realized that I now had a really long time before Boarding would commence. I pulled out my PocketPC and discovered an open wireless network so I got on and talked to my dad who would be flying RST-MSP-SEA to be at the Imagine Cup with me. I didn’t want to drain my battery so I got off and I noticed there was a bit of a problem at the Northwest gate. Apparently their CRJ200 was overweight and they had to bump passengers from the flight. A little while later the ATR-72 arrived and after the passengers from Atlanta disembarked, we loaded up fairly quickly. I was in Zone 8 as I picked a rear seat so I could be one of the first off the plane. Take off was a little early if I remember correctly, and the view of panama city down below was nice (I usually fly from other panhandle airports), however I didn’t get to fly over the Beach, where I live. After being airborne for 5 minutes the person next to me starts talking to me. A lady probably in her 50s who was retired was heading up to Baltimore for the weekend. She recognized me from a newspaper article about me going to the Imagine Cup the day before. She was a pleasant person to talk to, but she feared turbulence. Every time there was just a little bit of rough air, she would either grab the armrests or my arm. I really didn’t mind, as its nothing to me, and its just a nice thing to do to help others out when they might be a little scared. The Flight Attendants on this flight were not overly pleasant. They didn’t speak very much and the one that served my drink seemed to not be in very good mood. I didn’t really matter to me as this flight is so short. We arrived in Atlanta early, and wound up at our multi-plane gate in Concourse D. I helped the lady next to me point out where her flight to Baltimore would be leaving from, and then left the plane to head over to Chili’s in Concourse A. The layover was pretty uneventful; I just ate at Chili’s, and then checked out Concourse E for the upcoming Tuesday, as I would be going on a school trip to Italy. I then walked from Concourse E to Concourse A, something I had not for a while. Afterwards I headed to gate A25 for my flight to Seattle. Delta Flight 533 Atlanta, GA (ATL) – Seattle, WA (SEA) Departure: 4:33pm Arrival: 6:57pm Aircraft: 767-300 Seat: 27C So once again I was in Zone 8 for Boarding as I had picked row 27, a bulkhead seat. But even being in Zone 8 Boarding didn’t take that long on this full flight. This was going to be my longest flight ever (5 hours) as I mostly flew on flights between the Florida Panhandle and Minnesota. We took off on time and got to cruising altitude quickly. They started the beverage service as the movie In Good Company played. They handed out the snack packs which are the right amount of food for a small snack for that long of a flight. I didn’t watch the movie, as it didn’t really interest me. They came around again for more drinks and finally for the snack basket with about an hour left in flight. I watched TV shows I recorded to my PPC for a while, and just got done watching the Futurama Episode: Deep South (the lost, sunken city of Atlanta) when the First Futurama episode started playing on the projector screen in front of me. I was happy and I was entertained, and it sure did beat out SkyTeam’s Moving Planet or whatever horrible shows they play. Anyways the FA’s on this flight were a strong contrast to the ones on my ASA flight from Panama City. The FA’s made sure that even in coach everyone had everything that they needed all the time, and were good about switching the tapes for the IFE on time, unlike another flight where it played the movie, then a blank screen forever some of the remaining programs. As I was deplaning the people in front of me were talking to one of the FA’s about Seattle, when I think I heard that the Delta’s CEO, Gerald Grinstein, was on this flight heading to somewhere in the Seattle area for his son’s wedding. I didn’t see him, so I not 100% sure if he was on board or not. Anyways I got off the plane and headed for baggage claim and waited for what seemed like an eternity for my bag. I also noticed my Dad’s NW Flight was delayed and that he would be getting in 10 minutes late. I got my bag eventually and headed to the NW baggage claim as it was the next one over and walked around, trying to find my Dad among the sea of passengers. I couldn’t find him so I called him up to see if maybe he was still airside or what. I called him up and he told me that he could see me so looked around like crazy…….he was behind me by some stairs….man, I am blind. We headed to the parking garage to pickup the Shuttle Express to the Residence Inn Redmond Town Center. There were two people from the Bradley University team behind me (found out later as they were competition), who kept talking about how they could do this and that in their program and as a novice programmer who is only in high school, these guys fried my brain. We got to the Residence Inn about 45 minutes later and found out it was overbooked. We really were not excited about the Studio suite in the first place (one real bed and a couch bed), and were happy to find out that for the night we would be staying at the full service Marriott next door! Only downside was the lack of free WiFi, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make for a comfortable bed. We decided that we didn’t want to go anywhere far for dinner so we went to the restaurant in the hotel, the Meritage. I got the Flatbread Sampler, which had their four flatbread “flavors” all on one piece of flatbread. I had never had flatbread before, and I must say that it was extremely good; sort of like a high end pizza.