Chicago part III, 2001

Contract negotiations ground on until it was decided that I could go back to Networld to finish implementing the Q&A pucks and the ones and zeros walkway. I had again planned a vacation for after this was done, going home to BC for my brother's graduation ceremony at the end of May. I'd booked the flight to Vancouver via Chicago in case the worst happened and I had to fly direct from Chicago to Vancouver. Which would be easier on me than having to fly from Chicago to Boston and then right back out again to Vancouver. I arranged to go out a bit ahead of time to spend some time with friends before diving into work.

Sun May 13

I woke up at 8:30am, and had a departure from my normal breakfast of cereal since there was no milk left - yoghurt and cookies started the day. I grabbed my case and headed out to the stop to catch the bus into Harvard Sq. Had a bit of a wait, standing beside a woman and her daughter who were also waiting for the bus, the young girl reminding me why I prefer to remain child free as she fussed around the stop. Quick changes at the Red and Green lines, but a bit of a wait at the Blue, but then the shuttle bus was right at the Airport stop. A short check in line faced me and I got up to the desk quickly, submitting my airline air miles number so I could add this flight to my total. I checked my suitcase, but my back pack got searched at security. I treated myself to a cranberry scone and some iced tea at the Starbucks before we boarded. The space beside me was empty, and I was able to find something on the menu to eat - next time I need to remember to call the airline myself to work out flight details. I read the in-flight magazine through the 2 hour flight to keep myself amused.

Upon landing at O'Hare my bag was one of the first off the carousel, and Art came sauntering up soon after I took a quick peek outside for him and Krista. She pulled up her car closer to our door, and we threw my stuff in. A confusing drive to her and Eileen's place, somewhere north of downtown, where we then relaxed with some tall cool drinks. We talked, catching up until 2:30 or 3, when we decided that it would be neat to check out the Chicago Historical Society's exhibit of architectural photographs, which I'd missed on my last trips. We were able to find parking a ways down the street from the building, and were let in free since it was somewhat close to the closing time of 5pm by the time we arrived. We ran right into the hats exhibit as we entered, one had a gallstone suspended above a rhinestones incision scar on a smooth gold base. There were lots of cool photos, and Art gave me a short lesson on what makes a black and white photo technically good. We saw a set up for photographing Herman Miller chairs as well as the final photos, and various ways that pictures were prepared for magazines. There were a few photos of places in Toronto, lots of Detroit area, and some palatial homes in Chicago. I tried to stop in at the gift shop to see if they had any prints of the photos, but they had closed it up before I arrived.

We headed over to Clark St. N. to do some window shopping, after Krista and I shared some fries at a greasy spoon, and watched in amazement as Art was able to eat the chili fries he was presented with. We then wandered over to the book store and I came out with an arm load of Mrs. Pollifax mysteries and sci fi books and a mystery that I'd been trying to find for a while. To keep me sane over the course of the next week. :) We hit Taboo, the pants that I tried on (on sale cargo/bondage pants) didn't fit, and I talked a bit with the staff of the Alley's shoe room - a gorgeous wall of boots that I could actually consider buying, very few stupid heels among them. We then repaired to Hana something sushi for dinner, where Krista and I shared a 2 person box and Art had a single to himself. I also tried the mussels, Art ordered the spicy tuna, and we all had miso soup. There were huge chunks of wasabi hidden in random nigiri, but overall it was a very good meal.

We headed back to the car, and Krista drove us to the Black Beetle pub. Her friend Naomi was bartending, but her shift ended just after we arrived. She made me a very good fruity drink first though - Stoli, Chambourd, sour mix, and 7 Up were in it, but I can't recall the name now. Krista's friend Eric showed up as well and we all hung out, until at 10 I started to get really tired. K drove me down to Hyde Park and the Ramada near MSI. Henry had arrived and left me a note, saying we'd meet at 9:30 the next day. I nabbed a non smoking room, but it was on the first floor, so I drew the curtains closed to have some semblance of privacy. Gave my mum a call in BC for Mother's Day, browsed through Where in Chicago (Sushi Wabi had a mention) and stayed up reading one of my new books, until about 1:30am.

Mon May 14

As usual, house keeping was knocking loudly at all the other doors that didn't have the do not disturb sign up, and woke me up at 8:30. Took a nice long shower and had some of my scavenged breakfast food (stuff I'd brought from Boston in anticipation of breakfast difficulties) while reading some more. I was a few minutes late getting down to the lobby to meet Henry. We drove over to the Medici Cafe and he got a coffee and a pastry for breakfast. We parked in the central contractor area, it wasn't barricaded off this time. We were in by 10am or so, and Henry went off to get security to open the behind the scenes doors for us. The whole exhibit was curtained off from the public, I popped my head in and then went down to the cafeteria to get some iced tea and water since I was feeling parched already. I spent the morning troubleshooting the units with Point Grey cameras. We took a lunch break at noon, the lemon trout was okay, the side potatoes were quite good though. The IT guys were at the table next to us. We managed to get the Q&A pucks up and running in the afternoon, and I was very happy. Barry Apprison came in as we were testing them out, I still needed to do some merging of the data, but left it for tomorrow. I put in my Moors CD after hours, taking full advantage of the good ambient sound system that they installed for the exhibit. We left for dinner at 8:30, after calling to get the trash (left over from our last trip!) taken out. We stayed local for dinner, going to Cedars of Lebanon a few blocks away. I wasn't feeling all that adventurous and stuck with the pine nut hummous and Jerusalem salad. I was feeling flushed and/or chilled throughout, took a Tylenol to try and combat whatever was happening. We stopped in at a very sketchy liquor store for some gallon jugs of water for the hotel rooms and I was in bed at 10:30, but ended up staying up to read two of my shorter books.

Tues May 15

I woke with my alarm at 9 - found the NPR station to bring me up out of dreams. Was very hot last night, but better this morning, though tired, so no Nocturna for me this night. We met and wandered next door to the Lakeshore cafe, where I found the pancakes were apparently better than the buffet that Henry had. We made it to the museum at 10:30, but there was a very large North American Van Lines truck parked in the contractor lot, taking up most of the spaces. We were able to squeeze into a spot just in front of the cab, after arguing with the parking lot attendant that it would be safe enough. Then a woman came zooming in and threw her car in the tiny space between us and the truck. I finished up coding and debugging the merging of the people tracking data for redundant tracking info and distributed it to the rear pucks room and was calibrating it just as Barry came in. Just caught the cafe at 2:55 for lunch - mango blackened salmon and a pile of asparagus and veggies. Went back to the ice cream parlour, the line was long right after the traditional lunch hour, but at 3 it was shortish. Got a huge serving of better pecan that kept me over full during my afternoon of coding, but damn, it was good.

Moved on to the two server case in the walkway, and of course it immediately locked up when I tried to calibrate it. There was an official function of some sort starting at 7, and people were wandering in to play with the exhibit, so we had to have it mostly up. We managed to work until 9:30 or so when I insisted that we go out for dinner if we wanted to eat anything. Instead of searching for an open restaurant near the museum, we went over to Chinatown, having to get directions when we missed 26th St turn - three girls at a bus stop were very funny about setting us on our way. We ended up eating at the Three Happiness (we asked what they were, I think it was health, long life and many children) restaurant. The food was amazing (Henry's oyster thing was huge, and my watercress and fish ball soup was a bit gingery but good all the same), but they kept it way too cold in there. I ended up going back to the car to get my sweater and H's jacket. I had a wonderfully fragrant pot of jasmine tea, and had a flower floating in my cup. However I was feeling very faint by the end of diner and had to insist that we go back to the hotel. I was a bit depressed that I wasn't with friends, Henry didn't even make sure that I made it back to my room okay, and I was feeling very isolated and sick. I'd tried to call my mother during the day but got cut off and couldn't call back. They'd left a message on my room's voice mail, so I called them back. I felt cut off again when I wanted reassurances. I'd been flushing and chilled on and off all day, scarfing down the max dosage of Tylenol. I read for a bit and didn't set my alarm when I went to sleep, since H had allowed that I needed some rest.

Wed May 16

Woke up horribly thirsty and with a sore stomach at 8. I took a long hot shower to try and relax a bit. Housekeeping called at 10, told them to come back at 11, and I went off to meet Henry at 10:30. Dropped into the Newport mart first to get some liquids - scarfed down the ginseng imbued Arizona ice tea first thing - and a Balance bar then made my way to the lobby. Henry arrived on time, and we managed to extend our stay at the Ramada to Saturday morning. We went to Medici for breakfast, more strawberry lemonade with strawberries floating in it, and more strawberries on my french toast. I ended up not being able to eat more than two slices of my toast and H had the rest. We arrived at the museum at noon, Steve arrived at 2 or so, and got us out for dinner at 6:30 for two hours at Piccolo Mundo. I was very tired during dinner, and had to walk fairly slowly back to the museum for a couple more hours of work. Thankfully it had cooled down from the heat of the morning by that time though. I managed to fix a bug in the pucks code, and was working on the walkway calibration in the noisy noisy noisy open to the public exhibit. Need to redo the merge for two separated servers sending data tomorrow. Barry again came by just as I was calibrating the walkway and saw the first working pass. Meeting tomorrow at 9am.

Thur May 17

I woke at 8:30, had a rushed shower, and made it to the lobby just on time. Very very tired. We ended up at the museum for breakfast, in my case a very light one of juice, croissant, yoghurt and melon squares. After lunch, I gave Eileen a call and we agreed to meet for dinner at 5. We'd gone out to Piccolo Mundo again, and talked abut Steve's trip to Turkey, making me want to go to Budapest again. There were drawings of scenes from Italy on the walls, which were enough to make me long to be there as well, anywhere but in Chicago. They reinstalled the video drivers and seemed to fix the crashing problem with the graphics. I waited out on the back steps of the museum leading down to the contractors parking lot for Eileen and she picked me up from there. We went to Noodles Etc, which turned out to be right next to Medici, and had a very loud kitchen for some reason. The lychee and plum wine ice cream for dessert was great, and the bitch session was therapeutic. I brought Eileen back in with me to see the exhibit (was vindicated at her gasp of outrage when she saw the tiny closet that we've had to program in during open hours) and meet Henry. We had to tip toe a bit around the VIP reception being held in the rotunda. I walked her out and then chained myself back to my desk. We didn't end up leaving until 11:30 or so, by which point I was cranky, had lost my glasses and then found them again by stepping on them - the frames matched the carpet design too closely. I needed some alone time badly by that point. Decided to definitely do the Shedd Aquarium on Saturday. Lay on my bed for a while trying to calm myself. The prints on the walls were kind of nice, a Japanese lady and a random swirly design reminiscent of NW coast art. Got sucked into Stallone and a very familiar looking kid in Over the Top. A quick browse through IMBD.com makes me think that I saw him on the afternoons when I was a sick kid and forced to watch General Hospital with my mom.

Fri May 18

Woke up at quarter to nine and took a slow shower as I was all tense still. Hit Medici for a take out spinach croissant and then right to the museum. Coded up an interface for the camera properties that I should have done ages ago but had no time for, then started collecting boring data for diagnosing the camera problems. As I was entering the data on the machine with Excel, Henry decided to use my machine to write email and killed the reply that I'd started. *sigh* Had lunch in the museum cafeteria today, more fish. Made myself a cup of tea using their water and my own tea bag. I visited the Pioneer Zephyr for the first time, and admired the quantities of stainless steel on display. Felt really tired and cranky. Steve left for his flight just after Barry came by again, but he had to run back in for his cell phone. We had to close early to work on the exhibit, but Henry ended up giving some kids a behind the scenes tour since they'd just bought net passes. We ended up getting out of the museum at a decent hour since we went out for dinner with Taylor and Marilyn, as well as their neighbours Chris and Wendy. We left the museum around 7:30 and saw the sunset on the harbour as we drove up there, with the tall ship Windy sailing peacefully on the water. We picked them up from their apartment on the North Shore and ferried them to a Vietnamese place nearby. Taylor was very tired, but directed us past 777 to the other place that the owners had nearby. We were put at a round table by the windows on the second floor and covered the table with food. The jackfruit shake that I had was great, and I loved the snapper - they'd cut into it's sides and then fried it, so the slices stood up like scales. The sea bass was good as well, and the Chinese broccoli wasn't the least bit broccoli nor salad like. I felt dizzy throughout, skipped dessert, was fairly quiet throughout the meal. We dropped them back at their apartment, and really appreciated the hug from Marilyn, it seemed to reassure me that all could be right with the world again, someday. We drove past the Shedd on the way back to the hotel. Still not 100% sure which hotel we're to move to tomorrow, wouldn't do to be organised. Not quite as tired this night, maybe it was the tea that I had, or else I was getting better finally. Asleep by midnight, in any case.

Sat May 19

I woke up before my alarm went off, but stayed in bed until it rang. I took a shower and then called our new hotel, finding out that we could indeed check in early. I checked the Imax movies playing, there were three to choose from and I could get the tickets via moviephone.com. No word from my friends that I'd left messages with, inviting them out to play with me. Henry and I drove over to the new hotel, missing it the first time past, as it was tucked behind some trees. The valet took our rental and we were able to check in right away. I threw my stuff in my room and went back down to the lobby to meet up with Henry. He drove us over to the museum campus, right by the lake, and parked. I walked a couple of buildings over to the Shedd, leaving him to his explorations of the Field since I'd gone during Projektfest 2. I was quite hungry at this point and stopped at a concession stand to get some food, and ended up with some very good spicy fries. I propped myself up against the short wall overlooking the water and watched the bikers making their way toward Navy Pier - some sort of race was on, as they all had numbers on their backs. I finished up my fries and went into the Shedd, making it through the long line fairly quickly. The Carribean tank was very cool, with hammerhead sharks and sting rays swimming around in it. I was just in time for the noon dolphin and beluga show. The Pacific NorthWest decorating scheme around the show tank (with big windows looking out over the lake) matched the home area of the Pacific White Sided Dolphins being put through their paces. I wandered through the Amazon display, saw lots of eels in condos. :)

I walked over to Navy Pier, took me about 45 minutes from the Shedd. I wasn't able to get Imax tickets on the phone, and missed the theatre the first time out onto the pier, doubling back to get to the booth, and missing the 2pm showing. Picked up a ticket for the 4:50pm show, and then I checked out the ticket booth at the Windy's berth, but it didn't open until an hour before sailing. I went inside the stained glass gallery, the art deco, simple, and Tiffany pieces were neat. There was one lattice work that reminded me of the gate to the Guggenhiem museum in Venice. I wandered down to the end of the pier, edging around a crowd gathered to watch a military band playing. I sat on a bench and read my book until it was time for the movie. They showed a 3D preview for a haunted house movie that was scary looking. The main feature was Cirque du Solei's Journey of Man, and I enjoyed it a lot, the bird costumes that the bungee acrobats were wearing made them into exotic fliers rather than humans when they spun, just yellow feathers/strings in a spiral. Fire, cube and red wings guy was primally sexy, built like a pro wrestler. The statues were very graceful in their poses. The troupe with the two small ballerinas was very impressive as well. It was supposed to be a three dimensional movie, but they didn't use it all that much. I browsed a bit in the book store across from the theatre, then hit the Windy's berth to buy my ticket for the sunset harbour cruise. I ate dinner at Rivas, slipping in past the crowds to sit at a table for one. Had a honey turkey grilled sandwich that wasn't a breast as I was expecting, but slices. It was fairly cheap though, so I didn't feel too gypped. I boarded the Windy soon after.

There was a fiddly loud guy who was annoying, and a little girl who was scared of everyone. I volunteered to help raise the main sail, and my old skills came back quickly. I outstripped the two guys at the other end of the arm as I was raising the peak. Then the little girl's grandfather came to 'help' me and broke my rhythm. I let him finish it instead of fighting for control. It was a gorgeous cruise, with a light wind. We saw the city's water intake stations, round brick buildings sitting in the lake hopefully out of range of the pollution. The crew had a guy who used to be a bike courier, and sounded neat, but he was monopolised by an older couple. Two of the female crew were frighteningly competent, one clambered out onto the bowsprit to furl the jib. The sky was amazing, all pinks and purples. Chicago
skyline We finally made it back to the dock, and I treated myself to some cinnamon roasted cashews, and took a stroll back toward downtown. I walked to the Borders that I had bought a lot of stuff at before, bought myself the first Sin City collection and some light reading. I walked some more until I found an open ATM so I could get cash for a cab to the hotel. I grabbed an expensive bottle of water from the hotel's lounge, wrote this up and was in bed by 10:30.

Sun May 20

Four months to my birthday. Woke up with my alarm buzzing at 9:30, dozed for fifteen minutes, then took a very high pressure shower. Very thirsty. Called Henry at 10, met at 10:30. Had breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Jaxx, a champagne brunch was offered for $24. I had waffles instead, and the tea was good. Got to the museum at 11:45, had a snack at 5pm. Worked until 8:30, writing up the stereo camera properties stuff, got new drivers on all of the machines, and started looking at portal wall calibration. One of the cleaners at the museum asked me if I ever went home, and I said not often. *sigh* My fever hit at around 8pm or so, but the Tylenol helped. We went to Sushi Wabi for dinner, had the delicious rainbow and dragon rolls, and envied the table beside us for the Godzilla roll that they ordered. I had a glass of the Choya plum wine and some red bean ice cream to polish it off. The stereo camera rep arrived that evening, so I called his hotel and left a message for him. I wasn't quite as miserable this evening.

Mon May 21

I was up and showered at 8:30 this morning, met Henry at 9 and headed to the museum in the rain, planning to eat breakfast there. At work before 10am, the database was pig slow, and the exhibit construction tech guy was around. The camera guy, Malcom, arrived as I was talking to the exhibit tech, and I worked with M. to get the tracking on the walkway working. I'd had the wrong config file. *winces* *kicks self to hell and back for making such a stupid mistake* Once the config files went under source control, they weren't being copied properly since they were read only. Dammit. The exhibit lights kept going off since not everyone knew that we were still working in there. We stopped for lunch just after one, and went for supper around 7 or so at the Snail Thai place. The Massaman curry was good, but some of the sea food in it was chewy. Back to work until midnight. The losing of the cameras was a firewire power issue, but no idea why the junk on the screen crashes were happening. We updated the firm ware just in case, made sure had the right dll everywhere and ini files as well. Drove Malcom home, wrote this up, and in bed by 1. Need to pack tomorrow.

Tues May 22

My alarm went off at 8, dozed for a bit. Packed what had been unpacked and showered and checked out by 9. The $240 for the last night was a surprise, let me tell you. The desk clerk was totally opaque about it. It was raining again, and we went to the museum for breakfast again. There was a bit of a line for hot food, so I got a continental selection. The people trackers had timed out, restarted them, debugged, started a new calibration routine but ran out of time to finish it up. Tech meeting at 11, showed them the changes we'd made. Had lunch, Malcom chomping at the bit. Did couple of annoying calibration runs, aaargh, script errors suck. Packed up and made it out of there to head to the airport at 5 for our flights. Lots of traffic to O'Hare, but we dropped Malcom off mostly on time. Dropped our car off at Enterprise, got hit for the gas charge since we didn't have time to fill it up. Took a shuttle to the airport, watched a grandmother sitting across from me ignoring her party, as I did the same to mine. A short line at check in was a welcome sight. Henry was forced to drink from his water bottle to prove it really was water. I got a bag of tropical mix to snack on and boarded our 757. Lots of rain, we were delayed and had some turbulence once we were in the air. 2 special dinners, finished my book, dozed. Had checked my suitcase, and it was the second bag off. Grabbed a taxi and had the driver accuse me of being rude and nasty when I didn't understand which square he wanted to stop in so I could visit an ATM. It was a fast, if silent ride after that, and I got him to stop at the ATM that I wanted to visit. Q was up and fed me an amaretto cocktail with bitters to calm me down.
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