trash talkin'

October is a pretty fun time to be hanging around the hallways of MacBU SVC. Every October, Microsoft does a company-wide Giving Campaign [1]. In MacBU, we do a few things in conjunction with the Giving Campaign. The highlight of the month is the MacBU bake auction. At the end of the month, we have an auction of various baked goods at the two sites, all made by MacBU employees (well, there might be some assistance from kids, spouses, partners, roommates, and whoever else might be wandering by).

Here in MacBU SVC, the trash talkin' about the auction started last week. The various bakers are beginning to jockey for bids, even though the auction itself isn't until the end of the week. Last Friday, one of our core team developers upped the ante: he decided to do an auction preview. He brought in a chocolate cheesecake and served up slices in our kitchen. Today, Brad Post (that's ExCntx here in this blog) responded by bringing in a few loaves of the sourdough bread that he's contributing to the auction. The Entourage test lead says that he's saving his auction biscotti for this afternoon, and will bring in cheesecake tomorrow afternoon.

So what is the Giving Campaign about, besides trash talkin' and excellent cheesecake? It's about giving back to our communities. Microsoft provides quite a lot of corporate support for this. There are Days of Caring throughout the year, where employees go off on a work day and do something good, such as help out at a Habitat for Humanity site. Microsoft matches cash gifts, up to an annual maximum of $12,000. If an employee chooses to donate time instead of money, Microsoft also matches the contribution: $17 per hour worked for the charity. We have a lot of fun with it, but we never forget the goal.

Every employee gets to choose what they donate to (if they choose to participate, of course). I use this opportunity to donate to two charities: KQED (my local NPR station) and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network – it’s the only nationwide 24-hour hotline for survivors of those crimes). One of the things that I like about working at Microsoft is the widespread corporate support for charitable works. One of the things that I like about working in MacBU is the aforementioned core dev's cheesecake! Getting both of them in one place is just icing on the cake, if you'll forgive the pun.

The Microsoft-wide stuff is pretty fun on its own, of course. The best part of the Microsoft-wide one is the annual auction: Microsoft employees from around the company donate whatever they think might get some bids. One item that seems to be a fixture in the auction is a tour of BillG’s house by Bill himself, and I’d hazard a guess that it’s going to get the highest bid in that auction. I just checked the bidding, and the current high bid is $17,000!