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.