Chicago part II, 2001

So, lots of reports from the Networld techs and some needed upgrades drew four of us back to Chicago for another week: myself, and Michal first, with Henry and then Margaret to join us in a day or so to deal with the hardware issues. The flight booked for two of us left Boston at 6am, and my room mate Quang had offered to drive me to the airport so he'd get an early start on his day.

Mon Mar 26

Packed up last night for the final trip to Networld [ed. note, next to final] in Chicago. Made a quick supper of pasta with vegetables and was in bed by 9pm, though ended up tossing and turning for a while. The alarm got me out of bed at 4am, followed by a quick shower and dressing in business clothes. Tapped on Quang's door, and a sleepy voice reassured me that he was up. After a quick breakfast we got my stuff down into his car and we left for the airport at 4:30 or so. No traffic lent a quick trip to Logan, but once I got inside Terminal B, long lines confronted me. Luckily I thought to jump the line and ask the desk clerk if I was in the right one, and I was told I had to take the shuttle to terminal D. A business man followed my lead and we went down to the shuttle stop together. Once we arrived at our terminal, it turned out that the security gate wasn't open yet. I tried to get a cup of tea at Dunkin' Donuts, but no luck. Finally the guards appeared and opened the check point, where they promptly found the tools in my suit case to be reason to get me to check it. I was carrying them in lieu of a tool box and hadn't realised that they weren't allowed in the cabin. A guard walked me up to the gate counter and I received a makeshift claim ticket from the ATA agent. No sign of Michal in the departure lounge, and I boarded with the bulk of the passengers at 5:40, settling into my window seat. Watched my bag going up the conveyor belt into the hold as I wrote up the notes for the day so far, not as tired as I'd expected for seeing the dawn. Michal boarded just before we took off.

An uneventful flight to Midway was followed by renting a car at Enterprise. We stopped at a diner near the airport for breakfast, then went to try and check in at our hotel near the museum, the Ramada. We were told we couldn't check in until after 4pm, so we went over to the museum with our bags in the trunk. We settled into the storage room around 10am, getting the computers set up for working. We worked through to 9pm, and then tried to hit Dixie Kitchen for supper, but they weren't letting anyone else in, since it was so close to closing. We finally found an open restaurant, Noodles etc, and brought take out back to the hotel. We ate in Michal's room, since mine smelled strongly of lemon disinfectant trying to mask old smoke. I ended up asking to switch to a non smoking room, and Michal moved as well to a room across from mine in the other wing of the hotel. Right to bed after that.

Tues Mar 27

We'd decided not to get into the museum too too early, since it was hard to work with the kids playing with the exhibit, but I ended up waking on my own at 9am. Had a long hot bath and did some stretches to work the kinks out from the day before. We met up at 10am and headed over to Medici for breakfast. It's a big student hang out, lots of carved initials on the wooden benches, and grafitti on the walls. Good cheap food - the strawberry lemonade won my heart, and they had Earl Grey tea for me as well - all added up to a strong reminder of Sneaky Dee's in Toronto. Our waitress was quite outgoing and informed us that she'd sliced the strawberries herself.

We drove over to the museum and walked into the techs trying to deal with a problem with the ones and zeros walkway and digitize yourself having crashed. We dealt with those and took a lunch break around 1pm or so. Margaret and Henry spotted us as we were halfway through our Coq au Vin (which was not quite up to yesterday's standard set by the salmon). We worked through to 8:30pm or so, and learning from yesterday's problems with finding a place to eat after 9pm, managed to get a table in Dixie Kitchen no problems tonight. I stuck with the crawfish etouffee that I'd had on the last trip, and it was just as good this time. Drove back to the hotel to check Henry and Margaret in, and I grabbed my lip balm since the super dry air at the museum was killing me. Henry and I headed back to MSI, where I managed to get Digitize Yourself working. I went back to the hotel at 2:30am, but Henry stayed.

Wed Mar 28

To my great annoyance, I woke up at 8am and couldn't get back to sleep. Since I had the car keys in my possession, I headed out to the Osco and picked up some snacks, some heavy duty Blistex since my lip balm didn't seem to be working, and the toiletries that I had forgotten to bring. I treated myself to a creamscicle drink and was back at the hotel by 9am. Not meeting until 10am, so had a snack and showered, then read. Hit the lobby just after Michal, and Margaret arrived soon after me, Henry came down last, but he'd stayed at the museum until 6:30am, having had a hard time getting a cab back to the hotel. I drove us to Medici where we picked up croissants and tea/coffee, then we headed to the museum. The contractor lot was packed full, so we ended up in the other lot around the other side of MSI, entering through the Omnimax entrance. We traded in the movie vouchers for tickets and then headed over to Networld.

We all went to the meeting with the techs in the office area of the museum at 11am. Worked a while, took lunch at 2pm and then went to see the Amazing Caves Omnimax film at 3pm. The underwater cave diving scenes were beautiful, as well as the Arctic ice cave scenes. Margaret got the boards swapped around in the digitize yourself unit with irq problems. Did a shut down sequence with the techs. Michal put in my My Scarlet Life CD after hours (apparently a guard heard it and asked him about the band later). At 8:30pm, Margaret was kind enough to invite us along for tapas with her college friend, just north of the loop. Michal ran around and got the car for us when we were having problems getting out of the door nearest the car - it was all padlocked up. We finally made it out the emergency door inside the Omnimax. Mike drove to my navigation to the restaurant on LaSalle N, trying to get there for 9pm. Parking took a while, but we eventually got in and met up with Margaret and Jen. Amazing food, though I didn't fully share in the group dining experience. Out of there by 11pm and back to the hotel. My stomach was giving me stress problems, shooting pains as usual, mostly likely exacerbated by trying to compose a response with Michal about the suggestions the post mortem meeting came up with and then the brass's response to them. *sigh* In bed by midnight.

Thur Mar 29

I woke on my own at 8am, but at least this time it was after a full 8 hours sleep. I decided to try the meditation suggested in the book that Stacy sent me, The MindBody Prescription, in an attempt to understand the sources of my stress/anger. Went through my life as much as I could remember and came up with being upset that we'd not taken the opportunity offered by a possible posting to Germany, and the first project that I'd ever done - no guidance on it led to a fiasco when I handed it in, and having to redo it. I think I travel as much as possible now to make up for the lack of moving around we did, and I still have problems with independent study projects to this day. *sigh* Anyway, that ate up some time before I had to meet Margaret to go over to the museum at 10. We ate breakfast (cold apples on a warm waffle made it less than ideal) at the Lakeview Cafe associated with the Ramada and I poured some of my more recent greivences (about Networld of course) into her ear. Felt good to get it all out. We found a cab right outside the door when we wanted one to go to MSI, and we took it to the front entrance of the museum. A beautiful blue sky, and a nice warm day, made it feel horrible to have to go inside to the windowless exhibit space.

We ended up giving up on the current Digitize Yourself machine and swapped in my dev machine which had a Point Grey capture card and a sound board with no problems seen so far. But as we were leaving an IRQ conflict popped up on the B unit. *sigh* Took a break at 2pm for lunch at Medici where everyone agreed with me that the strawberry lemonade was quite good. I stuffed myself on quesadillas and veggie chilli. As we came back to the museum, Digitize A had more issues. More developments on the post mortem meeting, a company meeting is going to be held when we're all back in the office. I'd arranged to meet Paul and Anna at Medici for supper, so started walking over there at 8:30pm. Stopped in at a book store and found two used copies of Gabriel Garcia Marquez works that I didn't have and snapped them up. I was going past the restaurant to hit the ATM when I saw Paul bounding up the stairs to the top floor. I went in and told Anna that I'd be back in a minute. We were led to a booth, and she and I got pizza, which was quite good, and I had yet another strawberry lemonade. I managed to fit a slice of warm pecan pie in the corners of my stomach - it was quite chocolate-y. Talked to Paul about his upcoming trip to Toronto, promised to email him info about a cheap hotel (hrm, I should double check that I actually did that). Anna's also going to Venice and Rome, but at the end of May. I walked back towards the museum after we were done, and ran into Margaret and Michal walking back to the hotel. I went in to the exhibit space, and capitalised on the fact that my stomach was calmer after relaxing over supper with friends, which was a good thing, since I'd taken my last pill that morning. I distributed my changes in the source code to the B pucks machine. Digitize A was running well, so distributed to B as well, and took down the barriers to those units. I helped Henry recalibrate shipping, and we tested the UV filter to seeming success - no false hits from the avatar's legs. We shut down the exhibit and drove back to the hotel at 3am.

Fri Mar 30

Housekeeping woke me at around 8 as they were knocking on the other doors near me with no Do Not Disturb sign up. Michal tapped on my door at 9am, but I told them I'd not be going to the museum with them just then. My phone rang, but no one was there, and I didn't remember putting in a wake up call, but I gave in to the inevitable and got up to shower. Walked over to the museum at 10am, enjoying the day. Hit the cafeteria for a light lunch (yoghurt, a fruit cup and a croissant). Margaret had left for the airport by the time I got back from eating my breakfast. The cafeteria was very crowded during lunch, lots of people taking advantage of the last week day of spring break. I ended up getting claustrophobic in the food selection area, and asked Henry to get me food. There was enough room around the table Michal was at for me to stay and eat there. We watched the last Solar Max show of the day, and agreed to pack it in at 6pm. Took us until 10:30 to finish up, but it was a good time to get a table at Gibson's. The plate of meat that they presented us with to choose from wigged me out a bit, but the salmon I had was delicious, though I wasn't able to finish the double baked potato along with the asparagus. My throat was feeling sore, so I ordered some tea for afters. I declined to go to the museum for one last start up, as my nose was stuffy and cold sores were starting to make themselves known. They'd come back to pick me up at 10am. In bed at 1:30am.

Sat Mar 31

I woke with my alarm clock at 9am. Showered, packed and went down to the desk to check out at 9:50am. Michal and I were on the same card, so I left it for when they came back since I wasn't sure he had everything out of his room. I took my suitcase out with me to the Newport Market around the corner and picked up an Arizona iced tea energy drink. Sat in the lobby, reading and waiting for them to come get me. They arrived and we managed to check ourselves out with the company card. We drove to Midway, with a stop for gas and at Starbucks for another fruit drink for me and coffee cake. We checked the box of tools and such we were bringing back to Nearlife with us. We each had our own row, since we all asked for aisle seats. I dozed for a bit, but the bumpy landing succeeded in waking me up. I lost the guys on the way to the baggage claim and ended up taking all our stuff off the conveyor myself. I grabbed my own taxi, since I no longer live close to them, having moved from Central Square out to Watertown in December. The driver looked familiar, he played some cool African drumming and singing on the radio and I zoned out. Quang was home, I made some soup and called my dad to let them know I was back from Chicago. Packed for my trip to Italy the next day and read Quang's User comic, all three issues in one sitting. Have to find my own copy of it, I empathise a bit too much with getting caught up in an online world. Made some hot chocolate and remembered to put my clock ahead an hour. This on top of the time change from Chicago made getting up the next day a chore, but I was asleep by midnight at least.
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