Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Since my meeting was downtown Chicago I did a little pre-flight checking and found a reasonable rate at a hotel 1 block away. The lucky hotel that was graced by the glory that is ME ? The Hard Rock Hotel.
As I said, the rate was reasonable for a downtown Chicago hotel during the holidays (149$). The service from the concierge and front desk clerk was top notch. They went through the usual formalities, and once informed by me that I had forgotten my Blackberry charger, they rushed off to see if they had one I could use. I was given room 1002, which was a simple room with king bed and "modern" decor. Everything was in its place and very clean. While I was getting 'put away' the concierge arrived at my door with Blackberry charger in hand, and to my shock said "please keep it on us".
After I plugged in the thirsty blackberry, I grabbed my jacket and headed out for a bite. I checked in with the front desk to get a suggestion. I didn't feel like a "nice" meal. I was looking for casual. They suggested the Emerald Loop, an Irish pub around the corner and promptly gave me a coupon for a free appetizer. I made my way down the street and noticed very quickly the cleanliness. Downtown Chicago is CLEAN. Even the side streets.
The 'Loop' is fairly non-descript for an Irish Pub. The only real feature is the long oak bar, the Irish bartender from Limerick and the Irish waitress that served me. After a quick review of the menu I went with the fish and chips (of course) and passed on the free appetizer. I washed the average main course down with a Peroni Pint or 2 while watching the soccer highlites on the big screen. It seemed as if it was going to be a quiet non-eventful evening until the air was broken with a "HEY...HELLO?...DOWN HERE" call from bald drunk transportation guy from a pharmaceutical company trying to get the bartenders attention (he didn't have to yell since he was the only one sitting at the bar....he was one of those guys bartenders love...drunk...annoying....wants to chat). I got to hear all about his job and why he was there when he decided to chat up the two girls sitting at the table next to me. After rambling on about how cool his job is and the fact that he was from Indianapolis, he gave the girls money to buy a round and wandered off to the door (strangely walking around the perimeter of the room).
I figured this was my cue and I paid up the tab and headed back to the hotel. The room was nice and quiet...almost too quiet. I finally fell asleep around 12:30am and only woke up once during the night.
The following morning I was up at 8am, showered, shaved and headed out for my long 1 block walk. I hit the corner bakery cafe for an orange juice and muffin and met my contact and off to the 9am meeting we went. The meeting was interesting and productive. Could be a good person to work with in the future.
After the meeting my contact and I wandered down to Millennium Park. We wandered by the Frank Gehry designed theater and park. Walked under the chrome 'bean'. Watched the locals skate on the small piece of ice. The walking and watching built up a bit of an appetite. I was good to go for anything and the suggestion was "Chicago Deep Dish Pizza"...why not.
Off to Giordano's. We arrived before the lunch rush which was good (the place packed up after we ordered). We ordered a 10" deep dish 'special' and bruschetta. The bruschetta was piled high and was very fresh (not too much garlic). A very filling appetizer. The pizza was enormous. How they could say on the menu this would feed 1-2 people is beyond me. The two of us couldn't finish it and left 2 pieces behind. I would highly recommend this place, the food and service was great.
With lunch completed, and my contact had to run to another meeting, I really had nowhere to go but back to the airport. My flight home was scheduled for 5:50pm, but I thought I could find an earlier return. I wandered down the street, again amazed at the cleanliness and made my way to an "L" (elevated train). A quick conversation with the very helpful and pleasant ticket attendant and I was off. The brown line to Clark and the underground blue line to O'Hare. Pretty simple.
The train ride, like any other, was slightly boring. I passed the time texting to some of my friends and checking out some of the condo re-fabs going on next to the line. Made it to the airport by 1:30pm and changed my flight to a 3:35 departure.
Again, this trip to Chicago was way to fast. I will be returning this summer and I plan to spend a few days to get to know the downtown.
I got home to a smilin' big boy and a big bowl of soup.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Stayed up late last night watching god knows what (i think at one point Tom Cruise playing "nondescript Tom Cruise character" was running from some Aliens...sort of the same way he ran in "The Firm", and in "Jerry Maquire" and in "Far and Away" and in etc etc....I think Cruise portrays the characters emotions by the fact that he RUNS). Because of the late night Cruise watching I slept in and missed my weekly update of Coronation Street. BUT, I'm just in time for my weekly EastEnders update (yes, another British soap). So it looks like my lazy Sunday morning is set; the wife is in bed catching a few uninterrupted Z's, the little big man is freshly changed (good god the boy painted the inside of his sleeper a lovely brown) and playing with his new Christmas toys, and I'm on the couch watching some engaging and mind expanding T.V.
Therefore, here is a new picture of the little big man and a few interesting story's since I'm obviously too busy to create my own post:
Fox Wins the Rights to the new Watchmen Movie: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/watchmen/news/?a=5679
Crazy Santa Dressed Guy goes on Killing Spree: http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/12/27/santa.shooting/index.html
Oscar possible for Ledger in Record Breaking Batman Flick: http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/Artists/L/Ledger_Heath/2008/12/28/7864031-sun.html
Team Canada to Stay Humble at World Juniors: http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Hockey/Junior/WorldJunior/2008/12/28/7866516-sun.html
Recipe for Steamed Mussels: http://www.foodtv.ca/ontv/titledetails.aspx?titleid=90200
AND FINALLY....I'LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The temperature outside wasn't frightful so we bundled up the lad and took him for a sled around the neighborhood. As usual with all traveling, the little-big-man passed out within 15 minutes of the adventure. The sled, a summer garage sale free find, fit him perfect and slid almost as good as Clark Griswolds Saucer.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Just a quick update. Big boy was awake at 10am this morning (I'm sure this will be one of the few Christmas mornings he'll be asleep past 7am). It didn't take him long to figure out how to rip the bright colored paper off the presents, and he enjoyed every minute. Of course the little man has made out like a bandit and was all smiles and laughs (thanks to all for the gifts). Mom and Dad have done pretty good too (you'll notice some fancier pictures on the wife's blog since Santa left her a new fancy camera in her stocking). It's time for eggs and bacon !
Merry Christmas to all !
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
- Most obvious, start shopping earlier....easier said then done
- See if your mall is offering a shuttle to other parking lots (don't use this will a full family)
- Use mass transit if possible
- drop your wife and kid at the door to the mall and park a few blocks away, then go and get the car and pick up the wife and kid at the door (this will also score points with the wife since she doesn't have to walk in the cold)
- When doing the endless circles to find a parking stall keep a look out for families (little kids are crazy at this time of year so they're not paying attention to cars). Also, when you spot a person leaving, have a look around at all angles that approach the stall so that you don't waste your time if someone was already waiting (I got scoped today by a young jack-ass in his truck because 2 cars were leaving side by side and the dude in front of me had the first one, and I should have gotten the second, but the young ass came from a different direction and couldn't see me waiting so when the car backed out he sped into the spot so I couldn't get it...jerk...or as I called him !#*k face)
- when in the mall, do not decide to have a long conversation in the middle of the walking path of people, move to the side dummy
- do not walk on the heels of people, it annoys the piss out of them and you'll be thought of as a pick pocket and might find yourself with a punch in the mouth
- when ringing out your stuff, be sure it is yours and not the persons behind you...use the grocery store logic here...people do not want to stand for hours while you and the clerk sort out your shit with the other persons...ass
- when in the food court, decide what you want in the line, do not review the menu, think and decide when you get to the clerk...are you new ?
- if you're in line at a cash register..GET IN LINE..don't stand 4 feet back, and roll your eyes at people who scoop you...who knows why you're standing there...if there is enough space for 2 of me to walk between you and the cash line, then you're not in line....you're just loitering
- [for the younger crowd] if you and your 4 buddies decide to have a conversation in the DVD/CD store, get the hell out of the way when the guy with the baby stroller comes down the aisle. Go discuss the 'hot chicks in the mall' at the food court or Starbucks.
- When in the food court, eat and get the hell out. This is not the time of year to have an hour long coffee and meaning full discussion about the current political situation. This is the time to eat your taco, finish, and get up and gone. Have your discussion as you walk away (find one of those comfy chairs the grampa's and dad's usually are in)...AND CLEAR YOUR DAMN TABLE...is it really that hard ????
- if you are not in a wheel chair or do not have a kiddie stroller, DO NOT TAKE THE ELEVATOR. Use your legs up the stairs or escalator you lazy mess.
These are just a few suggestions after just returning from the mall.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
[does anyone else think the thermometer has a.....similarity......to something?]
I had a few plans to some stuff today...but it's not going to happen...well, any time soon.
Let's hope the weather man is out to lunch and this cold snap is over soon. At least we're not flying though Eastern Canada.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
There's not too much to talk about since this is such a quick trip. We flew in last night, took almost 2 hours to drive a 30 minute distance (I was being a funny guy to the gal at the Hertz desk...she asked if I wanted an upgrade to a 4x4 and I said "nah, being from Calgary I'm used to driving in this weather"...she then asked if I wanted this insurance, and I said "yes, I don;t think anyone else is used to driving in this weather"...ha ha....ok, it was funnier at the time).
Got to the hotel at around 11pm after stopping for supper (ate at a place called Uno's....I think it's a bit of a chain place...I had a deep dish Chicago style pizza...it was alright). Finally got to bed around 1am.
Woke at around 5:50am, in the car at around 6:20am and arrived at our meeting at 7am ( the drive was better).
Meeting was productive and quick (most of the people were leaving for the holidays after lunch).
Since the meeting was completed early we went straight to the airport in hopes of changing the flight to and earlier departure. NO SUCH LUCK. So....now we're sitting in the Red Carpet fancy pants lounge for the next few hours (we've already been here a few hours) until our flight leaves. We should get home at around midnight with me getting home at 1am. And I hear the weather at home can be again compared to what we find in River's diaper.....nice.
Next time I come to Chicago (this summer in June ?), I plan to stay for a couple days and take in the sites downtown (at least to see where they filmed Batman Dark Knight).
Monday, December 15, 2008
We're now at the week before the big boys first Christmas. He hasn't been up close to the snow just yet since the outside temperature is 'ass snapping'. Presently it's about -30, -stupid with the wind chill. For those of you in warm climates, this means that exposed skin can freeze in about 5 minutes. This is not normal temps for this time of year, we usually get this around February. I will have to brave the cold though to finalize my Christmas shopping. Ha...finalize, I really haven't started so this weekend will be full of circling parkades looking for parking stalls, trying not to get into fist fights with people who will scoop the spots, battling the other last minute shoppers, dealing with bad customer service from the temperary holiday staff. Ah...tis the season.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Here are a few links with tips and comments about the Company Christmas Party.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Only 17 days until the big boys first Christmas and 16 days until he's 6 months old. He's continuing to grow and find his voice. He's just spent the last 15 minutes telling mom and dad wild tales (or was he singing?). He still seems to have trouble going to sleep and usually winds down around 11:30pm. We hope that changes soon.
So....the little man's Grandma came by on Saturday to baby-sit while mom and dad buggered off to do some shopping and stuff. Well, the shopping was fine, but I decided to convince the wife to go to a matinee. After looking through the paper, for some stupid reason, I drove us to the cheap theater and made us go see Max Payne. Look, I knew before hand that this was not going to be Mark Whalbergs oscar pitch, but I thought there would at least be some fun action and cool effects (especially since this was made from a video game that stylized itself from John Woo flicks). Let me say this....this was one of the worst movies I've seen in a while and I apologize to my wife for wasting 6$ and 2 hours of her life that she can never get back. Usually after movies like this I can find some redeaming quality, and maybe some of the texture of the cinematography was cool, but over all this movie was comparable to what I find in the little mans diapers. It actually makes me a bit mad thinking about it again. So...DO NOT GO TO THIS MOVIE...let's hope Punisher War Zone and The Day The Earth Stood Still are better`;-)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The big man hung out on the couch on the weekend and watched his dad put up the 'massive' tree (yes...that's the tree overwhelming the background of the picture...I vow for next year, it will be a big - reach the ceiling - tree).
River has kind of figured out what happens when the camera comes out so he'll stop everything and stare at it. This time it was as if he had a modeling gig...he was all smiles...not to mention sitting up like a big boy.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Nov 27th marks my first foray into the land of investing in the stock market. With stocks at incredible lows that haven't been seen in some cases since the 1930's it seems like the best time to get involved. I will be posting some of my findings, investments, strategies, lessons learned (I hope there aren't any hard ones) and I would love to hear people's comments and opinions as well. Since these investments are not short term the goal initially is to look at dividend paying companies that should stand the test of time. This means that financial outlets should be in there prominently ( regardless of the current condition of the financial sector and Citigroup )Also, whether we like it or not the world is addicted to oil and gas, so in my life time this seems like a safe bet.
The companies that I'm looking at right now are the following: Bank of Nova Scotia (although I was told yesterday that TD should be a better performer), Talisman Energy, H&R real Estate Investment Trust, Nexen, Boyd Gaming (this is a favourite of a friend of mine as it's related to construction in the gaming industry in Vegas), Citigroup, Aecon Group, and Encana. ( there are others) Of course investing in all of them at the same time would require a lot more capital than I have, so I have to keep my picks limited and maximize the investment (what I mean is, it makes no sense to put >1K in 8+ investments - it will take too long to see any results - as an example, If I invested 500$ in Nexen on Nov 2th at 16.50, today at 24.50 I saw a 50% increase and my investment is 750$, but had I invested 10,000$ I'd now have 15,000$. Also, since I'm after dividends, the more shares I own means more dividends I receive...as a side note - I met an investment broker through my partner that doesn't even speak to new clients unless they have 250K to invest...)
So....wish me good luck and who knows, maybe I'll write a book about how Joe Everyman can do the same thing and become wealthy (let's hope the book I write is not entitled "How I ruined our lives and became a bum by stupid investing")
Thursday, November 27, 2008
At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel De Champlain also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed 'The Order of Good Cheer' and gladly shared their food with their First Nations neighbours.
After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763 handing over New France to the British, the citizens of Halifax held a special day of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving days were observed beginning in 1799 but did not occur every year. After the American Revolution, American refugees who remained loyal to Great Britain moved from the United States and came to Canada. They brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. The first Thanksgiving Day after Canadian Confederation was observed as a civic holiday on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.
Starting in 1879 Thanksgiving Day was observed every year but the date was proclaimed annually and changed year to year. The theme of the Thanksgiving holiday also changed year to year to reflect an important event to be thankful for. In the early years it was for an abundant harvest and occasionally for a special anniversary.
After World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11 occurred. Ten years later, in 1931, the two days became separate holidays, and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day.
On January 31, 1957, the Canadian Parliament proclaimed:
A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.
Wikipedia is so informative...........
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
If you haven't seen the news, there is some crazy terrorist s**t going down in Mumbai right now. According to CNN there is 87 dead, 185 wounded, the five star Taj Mahal Hotel is on fire, there are hostages being held and terrorists have struck at popular tourist locations. See the story here http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/26/india.attacks/index.html
Everyone has one of those days where all around you seem to be born without their brains intact; and my day was yesterday. From beginning to end...all culminating in a massive headache that kept me from getting to sleep until after midnight. It started like this. I drove to work at my usual time - got behind a guy doing 50K in an 80K zone (not due to safety reasons mind you...just driving slow). Arrived at the office to 5 voice messages from the same guy asking the same question that he already had the answer to (funny, he was aware we start after 8am, but his calls started at 6am and he commented "why hasn't someone called me back?"). Then calls from customers asking ridiculous questions "I'd like this to be white - but black...small - but large...heavy - but light". Another asking me to stop everything I was doing to complete something for them that was critical - so I did. Then once completed and emailed, they immediately asked if I was also finished the original request and that what I had just done wasn't really all that critical as it was due in a couple weeks - and then got bitchy when I told them it would take another day to finish. nice - business would be easy if it weren't for the customers. While driving at lunch I was cut off by a guy texting while driving with his knees and took a couple nice rocks to the front of my car (thank god only rocks and not his car...this is when my headache started behind my ears...mild at first, but I knew it was going to be a doozy). The rest of the afternoon was spent arguing with multiple vendors about the wrong products they had sent, and more conversations with the aforementioned customers with more comments/questions that at this point were going in one ear and out the other (I'd tell you what they were, but remembering them is making the headache come back). The icing on the cake was the notice that an important transport truck wouldn't arrive until 8pm. So I volunteered to stay (since I had to finish the work for the customer who interrupted me all day). At 8pm the truck was no where to be seen and the dispatch guy, who for convenience sake, nicely gave us his cell phone number...decided to turn it off. My freight forwarder and I spent the next hour and bit trying to track the driver down. Finally he called at about 9:15 (i guess that's close to 8pm, right?). We loaded the truck...faxed the documents and I got to go home. Arrived at home with a pounding headache at 10pm. For the next 3 hours I sat there in silent pain as my head throbbed...I contemplated eating a couple Tylenol 3's we had in the medicine cabinet, but settled for an Advil and a glass of water instead. Finally somewhere around 1am I managed to fall asleep. Needless to say right now I'm a bit sleepy and cranky (and hungry...thank god it's lunch)
You can begin the 'awwww, you poor thing...' comments now. ;-)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
All over the news was the reports of a large fireball jetting across the skies of Saskatchewan and Alberta. It supposedly is confirmed that it's NOT man made (not a plane or space junk). Was it a meteor ? UFO ? Superman falling to earth ? Starman ? E.T ? We'll see if they find the impact point. Have a look....
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
What do you think ?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Even though the game was over the little guys night of flirting certainly was not. He gave all around us smiles and while we waited for an elevator ride to the main floor (no, not lazy, just worried about the spilled beer on the 'ladder like' concrete staircase and the 'stumbly' drunks around us....the stairs seemed steeper going down than going up) he entertained a blue haired lady who was quite taken by the boys blond locks and big blue eyes.
I think all in all the Saddledome NHL experience was a good one for Mom, Dad and Son and I'm sure we'll do it again.
Now...we'll see if we can get the man to sleep.....
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Just got back from the new Bond flick, Quantum of Solace. Over all I'd say it was a pretty good show and Criag again does a great job of playing the "cool as ice" man in the tux with a license to kill...and kill he does. From the opening sequence car chase to each and every "bad guy" he comes face to face with.
Quantum begins immediately after Casino Royale so you'll need to have seen Royale to understand what is driving Bond throughout this movie. For the most part, this seems like the last chapter of Royale and almost like it was a chunk of the original movie cut due to time...so they released it later a-la Kill Bill. Quantum does zero character development and doesn't explain his past relationships with people like Mathis and Felix, so again, make sure you see Royale before seeing this movie.
I think it's a solid movie, albeit short (105 minutes) and will do well at the box office. The fan boys will like the action and the Bond girls. I did like the nod to Goldfinger in this movie (the bad guys dispatched one of the girls in a similar maner).
Speaking of action, I'm not sure why directors have this facination with filming action sequences with all these blurry/jumpy quick shots. The director of Quantum, Marc Forster, most recently filmed 'The Kite Runner', 'Stay', 'Stranger Than Fiction', & 'Monster's Ball' which by no stretch were action films. This might explain why that techique is used as he's not an old hand with this type of genre so he might have fell pray to using cliches.
All I hope is that they keep Bond in a world that's believable and not give him invisable cars and have him go into space again and I'll keep coming back for more. I would assume that if this movie does well this weekend, production will begin on the next one.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I flew out to Vancouver for the day for a business trip. I decided to fly cheap and went with WestJet. I forgot how much they are like a "cattle car in the air". I'm not a super tall guy, but my knees ride close to the seat in front of me and thank god there was a small girl next to me so I could sit back and not have to sit sideways to fit. The flight is short and was uneventful. When I checked in at 'Budget' at YVR I thought I would go with a GPS (I used one before and it was really handy)...well, not this time...for some reason it wouldn't load where the car was and wouldn't update so I drove around for a while (got myself lost) then screwed withe the little garmin until it finally did what it was supposed to. Although, the route it created for me was a tour of all the back streets...and constantly had me turning left from a side street onto a major artery (painful). Then when I arrived at the address I realized that I just typed in Vancouver and not North Vancouver (in other words...I went to wrong address...duh). So, I figured that out and got back on route. All was good until I ended up in a cemetery and the GPS was telling me to go straight...unfortunately the dead peoples families would have been pissed with me if I did...so after spending 15 minutes finding a path around all the tombstones I made it.
I had a very productive meeting and got back in the Ford Escape and reprogrammed the garmin to take me back to the airport (god knows how I got where I was going with the path I took). Funny thing...the damn thing [GPS] must have remembered and figured that route was pretty neat, so it pretty much returned me to the airport the same way...and I can tell you...it was not the best way (I checked against directions from the google maps..had I done that route it would have taken 25 minutes...the garmin route was over an hour). Finally made it back the airport and after a very bumpy ride I'm home...put the little man to bed and now I'm typing while watching hockey highlights...exciting day huh ?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
November 11th is Remembrance day. Take this time to remember the sacrifice of the people who have fought and are fighting so that we have the freedom that most of us take for granted. For those of you who don;t know the history or the info have a look at this site http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=history/other/remember
Monday, November 10, 2008
Frank Miller, the man who brought us 300 and Sin City is now bringing us The Spirit. It looks, from the trailer, that this should be an interesting flick. My only concern is the visual similarity to Sin City. It's a cool effect, however, it could become stale if it's used too much. We'll see when it's released on Christmas Day.