Road Trip to Chicago – Part 2

I know this post is a little late, but I have been really busy since I got here for An Event Apart Chicago.

I left South Bend , IN around 10:00 AM Sunday and headed towards Chicago. Instead of taking the main route which was route 90 directly there and only two hours I took the more scenic route (3 hours). This took me through or near Michigan City, IN, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Ogden Dunes, Gary, IN, and East Chicago.

Some of these places where really cool. While going near Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore you passed right by a huge steel plant the was right on the edge of lake Michigan. It makes sense for the shipping part but for the environment it probably was not as good back 10 or 20 years ago as it might be now.

With going through a lot of the small towns, especially Gary, IN I saw a lot of what seemed to be abandoned homes and buildings. A good amount of the homes and businesses had either boarded up or broken windows and the lawns looked like fields. I guess things are not so bad at home as I thought, compared to other parts of the county.

On a brighter note, when I finally got to Chicago they were running a triathlon in downtown near lake Michigan. This closed up a lot of the main streets to get to my hotel. I tried a few different ways to get there and it took awhile since I was not familiar with Chicago. I tied going down one of the streets that my hotel was off of and found out I was on South State street instead of North State street. I turned myself around and started in the right direction only to find that the road was being torn up for major construction. I took the detour and finally got the the hotel. Once I registered at my hotel  the Comfort Inn of downtown Chicago, I realized I was staying a half block from the original “Uno’s Pizzeria”.

I went over to the conference hotel which was the Chicago Marriott Downtown on the Magnificent Mile and found out we could not register until after 4:00 PM. I had planned  on meeting another person that is from the DC area that I had being sending messages to through the An Event Apart meet up and information website. Once they got to the hotel we walked down to the “Art Institute of Chicago“. They have some great works by Jackson Pollock, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte–1884 (1884–86) by Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso, modern furniture, armor from the great wars, and a ton of other stuff. we spent a few hours walking around.

That’s enough of the trip so far for now. I have to get ready to go over to the conference for the second day. I can not wait to see Jermey Keith and Derek Featherstone talk this morning. More to come about the conference later in the week when I have more time to write a post about each day.

Road Trip to Chicago – Part 1

Left yesterday morning a little after 8:00 AM EST. The first hour or so of the trip was uneventful. I was driving I think on interstate 70 near Hagerstown, MD, and up the road I saw smoke. It was coming from the road. It did not look like a trash or bond fire. When I got closer it ended up being a tracker trailer truck that was putting out smoke from its smoke stack. (picture to follow later).

The drive through Pennsylvania had a few rain showers. I enjoyed trying to take pictures of the really cool cloud formations while driving at 70 mph.

I like when the directions on the map say that you will be driving on partial toll road. What they really mean is that of the next 150 mile or whatever across our state the first and last five mile are free the rest will cost you. In Ohio they give you a card when you enter the toll road and never list how much it will cost you  to get off the road anywhere on it.

Made it to South Bend , IN (home of Notre Dame University) around 6:00 PM. There where a great deal of cars. I went first to the bookstore to get a few things. I later came to find out it was freshman moving in day and the rest of the students move in on Sunday. Walked around the store looking for stuff to buy since, I’m a big Notre Dame fan.

I was trying to pick out a good baseball cap. I tried on a many along with others. One lady told her husband and me that she hoped we would spend this much time buying presents for the women in our lives. We both laughed and kept onlooking. I had narrowed it down to two. One was dark blue with like “Notre Dame University” and “Est. 1842” on it. The other one was brown and just had “ND” in front. I finally picked the brown one since there did not seem to be many of those and it was different from all the typical Notre Dame colored stuff.  I also bought a few t-shirts.

After buying all my stuff and taking it to the car, I forgot to look for one of those foam fingers for one of my co-workers three yar old son who loves them. I could not find one there. It then dawned on me that I should look for the new Adobe CS3 software, since I was on a college campus and being old enough to be one of the students parents I should have no problem getting it. After about tweny minutes of being sent all over the store I finally found it. I asked if they had the CS3 Web Design set. After some looking they found it on the shelf behind the counter. I asked how much and they guy said some like $450. I said why not. He gave the box to me and I was ready to purchase it I noticed it was for a Mac. I asked if he had one for a Windows machine (I know get a get MAC their better) and he did not. I guess I will wait to get it another day.

I walked around campus taking pictures of a lot of the buildings. Great architecture. Patrick Haney and Dan Rubin would have loved them.

I had been on a journey to fine the stained glass window mentioned in Patrick’s 2007 SXSW talk. I finally found Malloy Hall after much looking. No one knew where it was. It’s between the football stadium and “Touchdown Jesus” on your left. Once I found the building I could not find the stained glass window. After some more walking around I went back and found it. It was part of a smaller one story off shoot building. I tried at least two sets of doors to get in to no avail, since it was now after 7:00 PM on Saturday. The windows were behind other glass. I took a few pictures were you can see it behind the outside glass. I will post the pictures later.

After that I made it over to “Touchdown Jesus” and then to the “Dome” and took a lot of photos. I had some great light since it was now getting close to sunset. Nice having a digital camera, you can keep shooting until you either run out of memory or the battery dies. Neither of which happened this time.

I finally left just before dark to find a place to stay. With it being move in weekend I figured it would not be that easy. I drove by a few hotels and then noticed a Days Inn that said it had free wireless. I checked they had a room and I got it. I forgot to ask about the wireless until after I went to the room to drop off my stuff. I went back to the main desk and found out the wireless was only in the main lobby and that small building. No internet anywhere else. I guess you get what you pay for when you don’t ask these questions.

It was then off to look for dinner now that it was like 9:00 PM. I found this little hole in the wall family place. I figured I was not going to eat at places along the way and on this trip that I could do so back at home. I looked at the menu and was amazed at the prices. Everything was like less than $8. I ordered that roast pork loin. It came with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, salad, rolls, and peas. All that for like $7.50 including tax. What a deal.

More roadtrip adventures later.

First Blog Post

It is only fitting that my first blog post should be on the eve of leaving for “An Event Apart” in Chicago.

My name is John F Croston III; I live the Washington, DC area and am a consultant at the Pentagon. I use the following items/processes/techniques to get work done on the Army G-1 website.

  • CSS
  • Web Standards
  • Microformats
  • Accessibility
  • JavaScript
  • ASP
  • SQL
  • Tables only if I have to for tabular data
  • Validators for XHTML, CSS, 508, Bobby, etc.

Most of the posts for this blog will be about the web and technology, with some things from everyday life. It will be of things I have learned and stuff I have tried; sometimes it will work others it will not.

I have been trying really hard to learn as much as I can about accessibility. Two things have put me on this path. One being working at the Pentagon you get to see soldiers that have come Walter Reid hospital that have lost hands, limbs, their eye sight, etc. The second thing was meeting a really nice woman named Pat Pound while the SXSW 2007 Trade Show.

I spent sometime with Pat having her look at my work website for a bit while talking with her. She said my website looked good for the short time see spent going over it. For those that might have her you know see is blind or visually impaired. After the conference I have sent her a few notes to get her thoughts of how it would best be to do certain things from her perspective.

The other people’s blogs, presentations, etc. that I have learned from (not the full list):

I plan on improving the layout of this blog as I learn more about WordPress and PHP.

I guess that is all for now. I hope to add more to the blog as the conference goes on over the next few days.