I’m in crunch mode right now writing a 3-day ASP.NET Whidbey course for Microsoft. The due date is less than three weeks away, and while I’ve written a ton of content over the past two months, a lot of work remains to be done. It doesn’t help that I’m shooting at a moving target, but that’s par for the course when a product isn’t even in beta yet.

That means I’m pretty much sitting at my desk 12-14 hours a day right now, with little time for play. It’s like being in book mode. But I’m having a blast, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the respite from travel. I’ve been home with my kids for most of the summer. The carrot that’s keeping me going is a family beach and scuba vacation coming up the first week of August. My 11-year-old daughter is getting her scuba certification later this month, so that’ll make four certified divers in the family. Her first ocean dive will be in Cozumel, which is one of my favorite dive locales.

The bad news is that the travel resumes again in late August. In addition to traveling to do teaching and consulting, I’ve committed to speak at eight .NET user group meetings and three conferences this fall, not to mention December’s Geek Cruise. I’ll leave a picture of myself in the kitchen so the kids will remember who I am.

ASP.NET 2.0 is awesome, by the way. In fact, it takes the fun out of working with ASP.NET 1.x. I just built a knock-off of Microsoft.com’s home page that uses ASP.NET’s new Menu control to mimic that site’s drop-down/fly-out menus. It’s astonishing how little work was required to do it–and how little code, too.

Of course, I’m still finding a little time here and there to fly R/C airplanes. My latest baby is an 80” P-51 Mustang decked out with bells and whistles such as flaps and pneumatic retracts. It has a 4-stroke Saito 180 engine that sucks down two ounces of fuel a minute. Learning to fly it has been like learning to fly all over again. It has many of the characteristics of a real P-51, including the need to stand on the right rudder during take-off and climb-out. (World War II pilots used to joke that you could tell a P-51 pilot by the size of his right leg.) Even though the plane’s an ARF (almost-ready-to-fly), it took me nine months to build it. Since then, I’ve had to modify it quite a bit. The biggest pain was removing the stock retracts, which were a cheap mechanical model, and putting in a sturdy set of Robarts. I just finished installing custom mounting blocks for the Robarts and repairing the holes I cut in the wing to install them. Hope to test-fly it again in a few days.