Greetings from San Diego, a Navy town on the Californian side of the Mexican border and home to the Microsoft Management Summit 2007. That all kicks off tomorrow, when I'll have to be sensible and tuned into the exciting world of "Delivering Building Blocks for Dynamic Systems Management" (as the first keynote is flagged). It's not Microsoft's fault that this reminds me of the Burkiss Way to Dynamic Living, nor that, having been informed that the MS honchocracy is "super-excited" by the forthcoming treats, I have decided that I shall only be interested in stuff that gets the suits hyper-excited. Super just doesn't cut it any more.
All this is to come. Today has been a free day, scheduled to let us adjust to time zones and recovering the use of our legs after a joyful Saturday spent incarcerated in a decidedly doddery BA jumbo's cheapest seats. Doubtless Microsoft envisaged the UK hacks and their minder, a cheerful chap called Duncan, relaxing by careful contemplation of the pleasures to come.
Instead, I find myself being propelled five thousand feet into the Californian sky by fellow journalist and bad boy Jon Honeyball. He has hired some device called a Ford Mustang GT-H Hertz Racer, and tempted me and MS flack Duncan along for the kidney-liquidising ride.
We drive to Mount Palomar Observatory, one of the world's great telescopes, up an infeasibly twisty road accompanied by unfeasibly grunty engine noises. The whole thing reeks of some Top Gear stunt - or possibly a lost episode from the Dukes of Hazzard. Jon and I decided we'd be Bo and Luke Duke, but Duncan - despite being by some way the most lissom of the troika - declined the opportunity to play Daisy. That might have been because Jon and I kept quoting lines from Deliverance, or just plain common sense.
Not that common sense was plentiful. I remain unconvinced that the correct way to read the numbers on the road signs attached to each hairpin bend was as minimum speed recommendations, although I shall never forget the sudden discovery after one of those signs, and the subsequent piling around at warp factor silly, of another reading "Road ends in 300 yards". Attempts to chat up the shop assistant at the Mount Palomar souvenir outlet (I shall not say by whom) also fell foul of certain facts revealed after the start of the manoeuvre - viz, that she had many other jobs, including firefighting and being a cop. "I'm carrying", she said with rather too much relish for comfort.
But we saw the telescope, which is magnificent as only a 1930s 200" reflector can be, and we survived unscathed the return journey down the mountain.
Whether I survive unscathed the journey into the centre of Microsoft's management strategy, remains to be seen. I shall refrain, however, from saying whether or not senior MS execs "sure have a purdy mouth". However, if you've got anything you think MS should be asked about management - pass it on at once in the talkback below. I'll be delighted to pass it on - and that's a big 10-4.