Home for 4th of July

I’m currently at home in Buffalo, NY at my parents to celebrate the 4th of July holiday with my family. After driving almost 9 hours Thursday to get here I spent time with a few friends, my god son, and my parents.

Today is going to be spent with a few one of my brothers, his wife, and three boys (Denver, CO), along with one of my sisters, her husband, and three boys (Columbus, OH). Relaxing and getting ready for the big party on Saturday, which includes my other sister, her husband, and two girls (Buffalo, NY), along with my other brother (Buffalo, NY), two aunts and uncles (Rochester, NY) and a bunch of their kids and grand kids (Rochester, NY and Centreville, VA).

Today should be filled with a seeing how much all my nieces and nephews have grown over the last year, since I have seen most of them. Mostly time will be spent playing hockey in the driveway, swimming in the pool, and a whole lot of cards. We are more of a gin and euchre type of crowd. Even my almost 13 year old (in less than two weeks) and his 10 (?) brother have been playing for a few years and are fairly good last time we played.

The big crowd of 34 people does not get to my parents until Saturday around 1:00 PM. At that time there will 20 adults, if you count me and a few of the others that act like kids most days and then 14 children that are 13 and under. Most are in the 4 to 8 year old range. It should be a nice quite affair at my parents.

Hope you all have a a great 4th of July and drive safely if traveling.

Please leave a message of your plans or what you end up doing for the holiday.

Road Trip to Chicago – Part 3 & 4

Here is how the rest of the trip from Chicago to Columbus, OH went after the conference ended. Sorry, this has taken so long but I was in Buffalo, NY for one of my best friends wedding and just after I got back home to DC my mother went into the hospital. I will talk about that another time.

I stayed up way to late on Tuesday night go for drinks and Chicago deep dish pizza with Maria, Derek, Jeremy, and Dan at Giordano’s Pizza. It was interesting that between the five of us we ordered three small deep dish pizza’s. Dan ordered a sausage and cheese, Derek ordered a pineapple, ham, and I’m not sure what else Hawaiian style pizza, and I ordered just a plain cheese. Jeremy and Maria both were going to try some of ours since they were not that hungry. Once we placed our order the waiter told us it would be 40 minutes since they made their pizzas fresh for each order.

We were all like 40 minutes how can it take that long. After talking about it, it made sense since you have like and inch of cheese in each pizza and to cook it through it would have to low and slow so not to burn the crust. I suggested to Derek to time it to see how close to 40 minutes it would be. We kept talking about a whole lot of different things and after about30 minutes the waiter brought plates, knives, and extra napkins.

Finally the pizzas arrived so we could get at them. Jeremy even commented that he might be able to eat a whole slice now that he was hungry from waiting. Derek looked at his watch and it had been exactly 40 minutes from the time the waiter had left until he brought us our pies. I guess clients should listen to the people doing work for them like we ended up doing with the waiter. Most times the professionals know what they are talking about. We tried to eat as much pizza as we could between us and we ended up with just under two pizzas worth of food left to be boxed up and taken with us.

The next morning I got up, by about 7:00 AM, got dressed and walked over to the conference hotel and asked the concierge where they would suggest for a good breakfast at mom and pop type place. She suggested I go to Mary’s Cafe’. It was a great little place just a few blocks from the hotel. I ordered a cheese omelet with home fries, toast, and OJ, for under like $8.00 not including tip.

Once I got done with breakfast I headed out down Michigan Ave. to take pictures of the “BEAN” in Millennium Park. This a great art sculpture that looks like a giant mirrored bean. After taking about 25 photos I walked over to the “L” and took a ride for a few stops and turned around and came back to where I started so I did not get lost. It was cool riding over the street and on such an old and rickety tracks.

After all that I went back to the conference hotel to cool of f some before heading to Giordano’s Pizza to pick up the three frozen half baked cheese and pepperoni pizza’s for my sister, brother-in-law, and my three nephews. Once I got back to my hotel I finished packing, got the car, paid my bill and headed to Columbus, OH.

The trip was pretty uneventful. I did not know there were so many Wal-Mart’s in the mid-west. Got to Columbus around 7:30 PM. I called ahead so they could heat up the oven so we could put the pizzas in as soon as I got there, since it was a school night and my nephews needed to go to bed.

The next morning I woke up around 7:00 AM and went downstairs to sit with my oldest nephew while he ate breakfast. He asked if I would walk with him to the bus stop. I said sure no problem, his younger brothers heard this since they were now awake and asked if I would do the same for them. Again I said no problem, not realizing that they did not catch the bus until like 8:45 AM. I guess that ruled out and early departure from Ohio.

At that point I started out for home. I stopped at this little place called the “The Tea Cup” somewhere on the edge of the Ohio and West Virginia border. I ordered the chicken fried steak, with home fries, biscuit, and OJ. At the table in front of me was a group of four older people (husband and wife and two other women). On the way back from the restroom I stopped to talk to them since everyone knows I’m the shy, quite, introverted one. Anyway as we talked I found out they were from Columbus and were heading to some inter-national quilting gathering and they had family in the DC area.

After I finished breakfast on my way to pay and then leave I stopped at the groups table to ask if I could get a picture to put on my website (blog). The only man in the group (in his later seventies) asked if I was going to write in my blog that I had sex with all of them. I told them no that was no going to happen and them they said I could take their picture. After paying and leaving I wondered why he seemed so eager about the sex thing. It gave me a good laugh for most of the rest of the trip and still does now and then.

Once I left the restaurant things were moving along until I hit West Virginia. Once I got there the road went from two lanes both way  and 65 mph down to one lane each way in really curvy up and down hill roads. This part of the trip only got longer when two, not just one, but two tracker trailers with double wides on them tried to go up and down the hills for over five or ten miles. I was so glad when they finally got on the interstate road I was on. After that the trip went along as planned and just seem to drag on until I got home.

The next post will be about the different conference sessions and the main points I got out of each. I will even link to all the notes I took.

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.