We make holes in teeth!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chicago Travel 5

7:56 am

My attempts to keep EST while out here have been mildly successful at best. Going out drinking doesn't help that cause. Certainly feeling it this morning. Time to shower up and get ready to head home. Looking forward to seeing the family again. The trip was good but I miss home.

8:23 am

All showered and packed. Time to check out and find me some breakfast. Going with jeans and sneakers for travel today.

8:36 am

Did another Potbelly stop for a breakfast sandwich. Including the $1.55 Starbucks coffee it was $5.05. Some stuff is really friggin cheap out here.

9:17 am

In the office now. I took my time drinking my coffee to just relax a bit. Today could be long, especially with Ohare's bad record on air travel. I'm supposed to land at 7:20 but from the sounds of it I'll be lucky to see that happen.

Have a few more builds to do this morning which really should help solidify this week's work. It's been a solid week.

1:38 pm

In a cab to the airport now. Giving myself 3 hours and change because there's apparently a lot of traffic these days due to consrtruction. I like Chicago but not enough to stay another few hours if I miss my plane.

Got free lunch today which was nice because the company buys for everyone on Fridays. So we all sat together and talked over lunch.

I didn't get as much done today as I had hoped. There were a lot of problems with the build from yesterday so we battled back and forth with it and finally it was time to go so one of the other guys took over while I jumped out to catch a cab.

2:10 pm

Pulling into the airport already, almost no traffic at all. So I have about 2 hours to kill before we board. Since I did online checkin I didn't have to wait in the huge line. I got to walk right up and go through while 200 people stood in line waiting.

There's a flight to Newark that leaves here at 3:30. I'm going to try and see if I can hop on that plane. I'm sure it will be full but why not try?

2:52 pm

Put myself on the wait list for the 3:30 flight. No idea what the chances are but it striked me that I'll get to Newark during rush hour traffic if I do make this. Maybe I should just chill and be happy to get there later. Then again this flight has now been bumped to 3:40 so if I wait for my actual flight it may end up being much later than expected.

3:08 pm

Woo hoo! I got a seat on the 2:40. Turns out I was 6th on the standby list, out of 25. Wait, now it's 2:51. At least I see the plane and the passengers getting off. And I have my new boarding pass. So it's all more real now. Somehow I managed to get a window seat too.

3:31 pm

Sitting on the plane now. Got the emergency door row so I have 2 feet between my knees and the seat. Leg room is huge. I was talking to a man and woman who both got standby on this plane, and who were both on the same plane I was. They say that plane is never on time and 2 weeks ago didn't leave until midnight. Damn!

Incredibly we seem to be about to roll at 3:45.

4:08 pm

Now sitting on the runway waiting because all air traffic to Newark has been stopped temporarily due to congestion. In theory the original plane I was supposed to board should be boarding in 6 minutes though I'm sure it's also delayed.

4:16 pm

The traffic half at Newark has been lifted and we should be in the air in 5 minutes says the Captain. Aye aye, Captain. We should get there as expected, roughly 6:00 pm. We actually hit the ground, really hard, at 5:59.

6:52 pm

All done, back home. Saved at least 1:20 with this flight, probably more. When I looked it up it turns out I saved 1:47 of time as my original plane was 30 minutes late.

All in all, it was a very good trip. I'll probably be back before long but not for quite as long of a trip.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Chicago Travel 4

7:23 am

In Millennium Park, drinking a coffee, and there are 4 performers, dressed kinda like mimes, up on these 20 foot poles, doing some sort of routine in front of The Bean. There was an ABC News crew there filming it. Can't make this stuff up. It's amazing what you miss if you just stay in the hotel room. It's a beautiful day.

I'm holding out hope I can rent a bike this morning and maybe zip down and see Soldier Field. Why? I don't know.

7:46 am

I give up hope on the Bicycle Center opening. This is the second time it failed to be open by the scheduled time of 6:30 (our 7:30) so I have to assume it means they're not really open at 6:30. Will need a new plan if I come out again for this long, which I probably won't. No big deal, I'm content looking for breakfast instead, which I find 15 minutes later in the form of a Corner Bakery Cafe. I get a ham/chedder panini and some fruit.

8:43 am

Showered and out the door. Going to swing by the Chicago Art Museum before I hit the office for no discernable reason as I'm sure it's not open yet. It wasn't.

3:51 pm

Boy how the day goes by so fast. My last day of learning is still productive. Very good. Going out for beer and steak with the team tonight.

5:16 pm

Ok, really getting mucked up in the gory details now. This is good, for sure. At the same time I friggin spent. Need beer, and steak, and to wrap this trip up and head home. Next trip just 3 days, 2 nights, and bang it out as best I can.

12:05 am

Damn, this late night shit is going to kill me. Good times tonight with 3 of my teammates. I didn't pay for tonight's dinner, but I caught a glimpse of the bill and it makes my $69 dinner from last night look tame. Gotta make sure I fly out here with the family for the Christmas party.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chicago Travel 3

7:48 am

Crawl out of bed. I'm not entirely hungover yet but it's still early. I need some breakfast and Advil. Walk to the CVS around the corner first then back across the street to a greasy spoon diner where I get ham and eggs. The coffee is terrible so I'll drink a little to help stave off the headache but I'll hold out for the free hotel coffee which is better.

8:32 am

Sitting in the hotel lobby drinking my free coffee which is so much better than the diner shit. I had 2 sips of that and said no thanks. Luckily it was the fastest food I've ever been served short of a canned food place. I've only been awake for 44 minutes so that gives you an idea.

People watching here in the lobby. There's a chubby older guy with 3 attractive blondes, one of them drop dead gorgeous, all of them as tall as me. Curious what they're in Chicago to sell. The divide between business travelers and tourists is interesting. Not a lot of people splitting the difference in attire, like I am. I'm neither wearing a party shirt nor a suit. I do, however, have to crap soon.

Someone mentioned last night that some people are going out again tonight for a farewell gathering for someone I don't know. Of course at the time I was like, "Hell yeah, sure!" But I can't do this again tonight and tomorrow night. I feel like I got a little lucky with the way the night played out that I don't have a pounding headache. I still have to take a shower so that could always change.

9:16 am

Let's roll to work. All cleaned and caffeined up. Still a bit woozy but I'll take it considering.

11:18 am

Got some more group exposure today which is good. Should be able to make myself more useful going forward but I think there's still a lot of room for me to create stuff to do on my own accord. That's good, as a nice balance of load and freedom makes for the best work environment.

I think I need some fruit.

2:33 pm

The week is basically halfway over at this point. Went out for a chicken sandwich for lunch. Running a bit high on the intake side today so if we go out tonight I may blow a gasket and start to have to unbutton my pants. It's a beautiful day out and we sat outside for lunch as I looked repeatedly at the Sears Tower. I really need to go up in that puppy before I leave. Maybe after work today.

5:57 pm

Ok, time to roll out of the office. Going to do some real meandering tonight. In less than 15 minutes I'm standing in a huge line to buy tickets. Man this is a tourist meat market. At the same time it allows me some time to blather away about my day and trip. This afternoon was more of the same in terms of information discovery and it was productive. I think a 5 day trip is too long but I'll do my best to hang in tomorrow and absorb as much as I can.

Now I have 4 hours to burn and I suspect this will be at least an hour when all is said and done. It's a nice clear day out so I should be able to see my house. Or at least Lake Michigan. I feel like a loser here by myself. Everyone else is in groups of 2 or more. I'm the only solo guy. After you buy the ticket they make you wait in another room. Then they make you sit and watch some Over Chicago movie, which is just a History Channel video. What is all this shit? I just want to go up and look out over the city. Why must they torture me?

7:08 pm

Back on the street and looking for a place to eat dinner. The tower was cool once you get up there but man they really milk out the process. After 10 minutes I was good to go. It was a good perspective and really shows how much there is to Chicago. I'll definitely have to plan out my next trip better.

I ended up looking for a Japanese place but came up empty so I went back to the hotel restaurant. I got a beer, a scallop appetizer, walleye entre, and a side of beets. This place is top notch so the food is excellent. And remember, I'm not paying!

Boy this beer tastes good, too good. I'm probably going to have to get another. After 3 bites of bread, 3 scallops, and a beer I'm almost full. That doesn't mean I'm not going to eat the fish, mind you. And the beets.

I ate the fish, and some of the beets, but not all of the "stuff" that comes with it. It was pretty good but maybe a little confused, trying a bit too hard. A for effort, B for execution. I'm certainly full now.

8:28 pm

Back in the hotel room and I'm full. With tip, dinner came to something like $69. That's a lot. Whatever, my dinner Monday was $4.19 and last night I skipped dinner in lieu of beer. So it all evens out. I wanted a nice meal and I got it. Back to beer tomorrow night.

I'm considering whether or not I should go back out for a walk or not. I took my pants off and turned the TV on. I figure either this will be really comfortable or I'll get bored and go out.

Laid around for 10 minutes then got up to go out and Nat called. By the time I was done talking it was 9:00 and I had lost some mojo. After 15 minutes I finally get up and go.

10:05 pm

Back at the hotel after a 45 minute walk. I'm glad I went out because it's a gorgeous night and a load of people were out at Millennium Park. I'm starting to like this town more and more.

And I found The Bean.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chicago Travel 2

7:13 am

I think I mentioned that I'm keeping EST while I'm out here so I'm awake at 5:30 their time and out the door in less than a half hour so the city is slow right now. I'm sitting in the lobby drinking a cup of coffee. In a few minutes I may take a walk to the lake because I have nearly 3 hours to kill before anyone gets into the office. Hoping today will be a productive day.

The hotel is nice but old. I'm indifferent as the stuff I care about is good. The A/C works, the TV is new, the water pressure is great, and the bed is crazy comfortable. I slept extremely well last night. The one thing I do hope to get out of this trip is 4 solid nights of sleep. So far so good.

8:15 am

Sitting in the hotel restaurant now after a little walk to the lake., I don't know? Michigan? Superior? Shit I used to be good at geography. It's water is all I know. I also found a bike rental place and the path along the lake is like 9 miles. So I'm thinking now but I need to see what time they open. They claim 6:30 but by 7:00 their time it was still closed. Apparently they're open late Wednesday so another option there. Dan also has a bike which he offered a few weeks ago so I'm rethinking my non-bike week because I'd like to shlep along the lake and check it out.

I feel like a loser all by myself eating breakfast. I guess this is the life of the business traveller. Another cup of coffee, water, egg white omlette, fresh fruit, and wheat toast. I'm finding that this world is based on cheap carbs. Here's another food observation. Almost everything has cheese in it. When the meal comes it's enough for 3 people. The parmesan roasted potatoes are crazy good.

11:44 am

Spent most of the last 2 hours with Bozhao who is a bit of the star of the team out here. She's overworked and really excited that I'm going to be picking up some of her work. I'm excited too because it means I'll be able to start really integrating myself into the team more and more. Without question I'm on an island out in Brooklyn most of the time. Things are just different there. Everywhere is different but these are both my work environments so I notice it.

So the morning still has some legs left and I'm already getting mentally taxed. Need a little down time before the next sit down with another coworker.

6:17 pm

Taxing day is over. Let's go drink some beer. Lunch was chicken on salad. More learning with Bozhao. Very productive but mentally taxing. Did I suggest we drink some beer?

12:31 am

Been out drinking. My boss expensed the night. Horay business expense! Send in the clowns.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 07, 2008

Chicago Travel 1

I am not a business traveller. I'm not "good" at this. As they say.

It is 7:12 am. I am in Newark International Airport and my flight leaves at 9:00. I was here at 7:02, have checked in online, and am so early I could have actually taken the 7:35 to Chicago. Next time I know. They've made this so easy that it's really a bang-bang operation. I have yet to go through security.

This is the first of my 5 part Chicago Travelling series on the week. I'm going out because my boss and his boss are in Chicago. I still have a lot to learn. Hopefully this will be a productive trip for that. I am drinking a cup of coffee.

NOTE. I'm going to post this all from my Blackberry. So there will be no HTML markup, no bold, italics, or lists. And it won't be spell checked. I'm also going to mark new sections within each day with a time as opposed to trying to make it flow continuously.

7:44 am

I am through security and I have to crap, big time. I rode a lot of bike this weekend and plenty, so my body tends to go into chipmunk mode and store as much "stuff" as it can. Now I'm "releasing" it. We board in 45 minutes. They make you take out your laptop but no longer make you turn it on. Nothing much happens for the next 45 minutes other than my buying a skim milk.

8:25 am

They call my name! Oh shit this can't be good can it? Turns out my seat is something they call "in-op" which I assume means inoperable. There's no seat back. They move me to a window seat instead, same aisle. 15 seconds and I have a new boarding pass.

11:48 am

In the cab. An uneventful flight which is good. The landing was about the best I've ever experienced. I got a free coffee and not much else to report. We landed on time. This cab is blisteringly hot until he turns on the A/C when we get on the interstate. It takes us about 25 minutes

2:18 pm

Back from lunch. Went to some place in the basement of the Sears tower. I got a colossal amount of lemon chicken which was good. I left the pasta and bread almost entirely uneaten because I'm all about the protein these days. No empty carbs.

6:54 pm

Eating dinner at a Potbelly Sandwich Works shop. The rest of the day was moderately useful but nothing to fly out to Chicago for. But we're ramping up on what we need to do over the next 3 days. That's the meat of the trip and I'm optimistic it will have been worth coming out here for. First thing tomorrow morning I'm working with one of the girls on a build process she takes care of. Then we have a few other obvious things to take care of as well. After dinner I cross the street and buy a gallon of water at Walgreens.

7:21 pm

I get on the phone and talk mostly to Julia for 20 minutes telling her a story I tell her every night at bedtime. She constantly says "more" when I pause. It's a feedback loop though so I know she's listening because she answers at the right times. Good stuff.

7:55 pm

I check out the fitness room and there's no exercise bike so looks like I'll be 5 straight days off the bike which is no big deal. I may hit the stair climber Thursday just to keep my legs honest.

I then go down to the bar and get a Stone Mill Pale Ale. It's not really that good. I think 1 will be enough for me. Despite the large amount of chicken for lunch I haven't had a lot of food today. So this goes straight to my head. I guess I could have timed it better as I could see myself going up and going to bed but it's a hair early.

Having a buzz softens the edges of being nowhere. This town reminds me of Pittsburgh in some ways.

8:35 pm

Back in the hotel room with a nice low-grade buzz. I'm thinking I might need to go back to Walgreens and get a can of tuna for later. I'm a bit obsessed with the protein thing, I admit. I really want to get as close to 180 as I can in the next month before the Dark Horse 40. I saw 189 again this weekend for the first time since the day after I got back from Taiwan. Is my narrative drifting? What the hell does this have to do with Chicago?

That's enough for now. Going to zone out and watch TV and go to bed early tonight.

Labels: ,

Cycle 36-40

I'm going to post up all the partial blogs written from the last week. I need to be better about keeping this up to speed. I think I need to just start posting from the train.

Cycle 36

After work Monday.

Victim: Madison, white, woman, 50+, married, chubby chubs, regular. She hovers around the seat, considering if she really wants to take it or not. You can tell she's disgusted by the notion she has to sit next to me. She's Madison, you know? I mean Maaaaaadison, motherfucker.

She sits down and puts her forehead in her hand, like she has a headache. She has her body turned away slightly, as if my Skank will penetrate her fucking Versaci sweater. Do they make sweaters? Did I spell it right?

She pulls out an apple. Oh come on. Who are you fooling? She eradicates it in seconds, nibbling it down as close to the core as she can, hoping the center is like a Tootsie Roll Pop.

She pulls out some literature that I'm sure the Sunday Times declared fabulous and promptly drops her head forward and falls asleep. Eventually she leans over to my side too far and I have to give her the old nudge to get he back into her own space.

Assessment: Awesome. It's not every day you get to rip a co-habitant like this. Plus she didn't smell and kept to herself.


Tuesday morning. Got up at 4:30 today to get back on the bike. The past 2 weeks I've been working from home both Tuesday and Thursday but my boss is on vacation this week so I'm just going to make it Thursday this week. Got out for 1:15 and managed to whip myself into readiness by 6:45 and get out the door. No time to shave though.

The next 4 weekends are event free then I have the Darkhorse 40 on August 3rd. It's not part of the series but it's a good (semi) local race and it gives me something to keep an eye on. Plus it will force me to get more saddle time in an effort to better prepare for 40 miles off road. There's a race in between but I have not broached the subject with Nat yet.

Speaking of Nat, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary yesterday. By "celebrate" of course I mean we played with blocks, colored, and rolled over a lot with Julia. The focus of life changes when you have kids.

Ramping back up to 5 days a week for a while. Should get a solid 4 day block running from Thursday through Sunday this week before I'm off to Chicago all of next week. Not sure how I'm going to play my time there. I'm sure they have a gym but I could also rent a bike. Need to figure that one out yet.

Cycle 37

Victim: First dupe today. Same as Cycle X. Thankfully I know this guy is a good cohabitant. Nothing of note this morning. Incidentally this is the guy I was sitting with a few years ago when the train lost power and we got stuck in the mouth of the tunnel all of 200 yards from the station. I'll see if I can dig that post up when I get to work.

Assessment: Good.

Cycle 38



It's Wednesday, almost Friday. Tomorrow the market closes at 1:00 and get this, our group is allowed to work just 4 hours and call it a day. My last group would tell you, at about 3:00, that it was ok to leave early, as long as there were no issues and you assured them they had coverage. In other words, "I refuse to give you my blessing to leave early because if anything happens I'm blaming you for leaving early." Tomorrow I'm WFH so by noon I'll be done.

Cycle 39

Victim: New Providence, woman, 50+, white, married, regular, not fat. She's actually the buddy of the woman in Cycle XX? Long black dress, huge black bag. She's seen better days. Hair looks like something from the wrong side of the story in Wizard of Oz. Closes her eyes but doesn't sleep. Perfume a hair strong but not bad.

Assessment: Good.


Cycle 40

End of week but it's only Wednesday. Don't feel like typing so make it short.

Victim: Dover, white, woman, 50+, married, not fat, not regular. Actually had a conversation with her about her ORT ticket. Seemed a very nice lady. She was in for a day trip with her family and exudes an excitement about city travelling that you just don't see.

Assessment: Good.



Accommodation in aviemore