Sunday, April 29, 2007

san francisco...

Yesterday was an action-packed day in San Francisco! I slept in a bit, but then took the cable car out to Fisherman's Wharf where I rented a bike. I had a few things I wanted to get done in the city, and having a bike would just make everything so much easier. I biked up to Lettus, one of my favorite veggie-friendly places in the city for a great grilled-tempeh lunch and then headed over to Sports Basement for some good deals on running stuff. I decided I'd bike over the Golden Gate and down into Sausalito which turned out to be a fantastic trip and lots of fun! The ride down on the other side of the bridge had some amazing views and was worth the ride up there on the San Francisco side. After a ferry ride back (that didn't drop me off where I thought it would!), I returned the bike and made it over the Naan-N-Curry for dinner. I had some Daal and Aloo Naan which totally hit the spot after a long day biking around the city. The day ended with some new music, I hung out with a colleague of mine from Yahoo Research and we went to Cafe du Nord to see The Red Elvises. It's a Russian band that really gets the crowd into it. Very highly recommended if they're touring near you anytime soon!

This afternoon, I took the train down to San Jose. It turns out that Caltrain uses the same trains as Metra does, although the seats in side are *much* nicer! I guess you need that for the 1 1/2 hour trip from SF to San Jose.

CHI starts tomorrow morning, super early! More details to come...


Friday, April 27, 2007


Today was a good day :) For many reasons! I had lunch with my friend Eliza-Beth at Cafe Gratitude in know, the place where everything on the menu is something positive to say about yourself! I had an "I am Fruitful" (Mango Lassi) and an "I am Graceful" (quinoa and hemp seed pesto). Wonderful food and wonderful to hang out with an old friend for a bit!

Then I was off to Yahoo! Research Berkeley to talk at this weeks Brain Jam, AKA CHI Sampler, AKA Best of CHI ;) My talk went super well and I got lots of great questions. I feel good about my slides and can't wait to give the talk for "real" at CHI this coming week in San Jose!

Dinner was vegan sushi at Cha Ya which was as awesome as I remember :) A nice walk around Powell and Market ended the evening and now I'm ready for an early bed. It's been a very long day!!


Saturday, April 21, 2007

A walk in the bush...

sydney 104
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
I must now state that I'm in love with Sydney. This city is just so much to do, so much variety in eating, drinking, sightseeing...very young and very hip. And yesterday we added very outdoorsy to the list of great things about this town!

So after working super hard all week, I joined a co-worker for a 10km hike yesterday from Manly out into one of the bush parks here. We were really just planning on hanging out in Manly, seeing the beach, maybe shopping a little, but decided on this walk on the ferry over. We figured, 10km along the water front, no big deal :) Well almost three hours later and after hiking up cliffs and mountainous terrain, we made it to the end just as it was getting dark! A totally fabulous walk though and just some amazing views and wonderful natural scenery.

I'm so jealous of people who live here. They can go to amazingly hip bars one night, amazing thai food the next, grab a short ferry to amazing beaches and hiking, go surfing, etc.

Oh, surfing! I did give that a try during lunch break the other day (The company we're working with is right near a beach!). It was a blast and although I wasn't quite the surfing star, I made a lot of progress and am excited to try it again sometime soon!

That's all from here. I'm packing up and heading to the airport! See you all back stateside.


Monday, April 16, 2007

hi from sydney...

sydney 035
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
The last few days in Sydney have been absolutely wonderful! We arrived on Sunday morning and went out for a lunch on the beach at this super fancy restaurant. They had a nice vegan menu for me and I ended up eating a wet polenta that was as amazing as the view of the beach. After a quick hike and a dip in the ocean we stopped at a local bar and had a great night!

Today was a busy day of work but ended with awesome indian food! I'm currently sitting at a cafe right next to the opera house, looking out over the harbor bridge and just having a great time. The rest of the week should be wonderful and I know that the long flight back to america will come all too soon.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

all is right with the world...

My tivo is back and I'm so relieved to be able to pause live tv and not worry about being home when things are on! And it turns out they gave me a free upgrade to a dual tuner model which I'm quite excited more conflicts! Tivo and the people there rock...even though I don't watch a lot of tv, I could not watch tv without tivo anymore!

In other news, I met up with Stacie for a fun night at Mythbusters at Harper College (the school a few blocks away from work). It was exciting to see Kari and Grant come to Palatine to do their only Chicago-area talk. So much fun! They talked a little bit about their experience on mythbusters, showed some outtakes and did a Q and A. All in all very fun and a fun range of people there of all ages. If they visit your town, you should totally go!

Now it's time to get a million things done before I head to the land down under...


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things you can't do...places you can't go...

Many of you who know me well know that I'm semi-obsessed with things that one could do in the past but for whatever reason are not possible today. My favorite example of this (since I was a huge fan and customer) is ordering just about anything off the internet and having it in 15 minutes. Of course, this was possible in the days of 1999-2000 when you could just go to their website, get movie rentals, candy, soda, drug store items, video games, electronics, etc. delivered to you by a kid on a bike in about 15 minutes from hitting "check out." It was a pretty amazing experience and my friend Susan and I used to order from there all the time. My roommate Hesky even ordered a playstation off of there and 15 minutes later our doorbell rang and there it was. Ah...the dot com boom :)

But that's not what this post is about. It's about a el (elevated train) map of Chicago from 1921 that I found online. I was fascinated by this map because of all of the stations that used to exist that are no longer there. Now, to Chicago's credit, 90% of this map is still in full service operation which is not so bad seeing that so many cities drastically cut back on subway/elevated service in the 50's and 60's. But there are a few areas now that are totally inaccessible, like the Jackson Park and University stops on the end of the green line, or the branch that goes to the lake at 42nd st. or out to the old stockyards. There once was a north ave branch that ran out to humbolt park that's now gone, as are many stops along the way up north that would be quite useful brown line stops at Grand, Oak, Division, Schiller, Larrabee, and Halsted or Red Line stops at Clark/Sheffield and at Grace (bleacher entrance to wrigley).

It's also interesting to think about the interurban to Milwaukee actually traveling around the downtown loop and up the red/purple line tracks to Evanston. How convenient it must have been to get up there anytime! And they even had hourly service according to this map. I'm lucky to get hourly service to palatine today during non-rush times! (Today, Amtrak operates the trains to Milwaukee out of Union Station and there are only 7 trains per day and no service to Evanston as they run on different tracks)

Anyway, I just find it totally fascinating to look back and see how things have changed (and mostly stayed the same). And especially to look at the things that just can't be done anymore. Technology and life generally move forwards but it's the odd examples of things that go away that are always so interesting.

(For those curious to some of the reasons for stations or branches closing, wikipedia has some information linked off of the CTA article, but the best information is to be found at under routes or stations)


Monday, April 09, 2007

new gadgets..

With all of my upcoming international travel this spring, I got a new little gadget yesterday to help with the variety of outlets I'll be coming into contact with. It's a nice little all in one unit that handles every sort of outlet you'd come across with no little adapter pieces to lose. You just push down one of the four levers for each of the different outlet types. It can convert any outlet type in to any outlet type out. Pretty cool :) I just love a design that shows some thought behind it!


Sunday, April 08, 2007

wgn what?

I turned on the good old radio to 720am for the cubs game this afternoon. I was expecting to hear the good old "everybody loves the cubs" intro that they *always* play before the game. Instead, I'm greeted with some weird rendition of "take me out to the ballgame." Hey WGN, you're supposed to wait until the 7th inning for that ;) Seriously, what happened to the intro song to Pat and Ron's broadcast? When did it go away?

For nostalgia, the old song...

Play ball!

There's baseball today
The Cubs are on their way
On the radio tuned to 7-2-0

Everybody loves the Cubs
Everybody loves the Cubs

It's baseball time again
Here on WGN

Yeah, Chicago loves the Cubs! (Go Cubs!)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

dishwashing detergent illegal?

Apparently the dishwashing detergent that I use is illegal in Chicago. Maybe I should switch brands. It has a high level of phosphates in it which, while good for cleaning dishes, is not so good for water life in rivers and lakes. Who would have known? Thanks Chicago Tribune!


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

tivo redeemed!

So the tivo saga continues and so far it has a happier ending, or at least middle. I called up tivo to cancel as I had made my decision to switch to a comcast dvr on a Motorola 6412 (which can be upgraded to tivo later this year). As soon as I told tivo I was going to cancel, they were like, nooooooooo, don't cancel! And they were like, we'll send you a new box! Free! Tomorrow! So yeah, how could I say no to that :)

So in the end, tivo is as awesome as I always thought they were...they just need some new people on the tech support line :) This guy on the orders cancellation line was just awesome!!

I'll keep you all informed and take pictures of the new tivo when it arrives :)


good bye to tivo?

So I've had tivo now for 2 1/2 years and as you all know, I *love* it and sing its praises all of the time. However, when I got home tonight and turned on my tv, the tivo was in it's "Welcome! Powering up..." booting up screen and refused to budge. I tried rebooting it, and same deal, it just would not get past the boot screen.

So I call tivo to see if there's any more advanced debugging I can do. And I get some guy who is the rudest person I've ever talked to on tech support before. But I patiently explain my situation and ask him what else I can do. His response, "Well, you can pay $150 and we'll send you a new box or you can cancel" WTF? Really? Those are my options? For a service that I'm paying $13/month for?

I asked if they could send me a new hard drive. No. I asked if there was any other way to force a harder reboot. No. I asked if they had any service centers that could take a look at the box before I went out and spent $150. No. I asked if there were any debugging prompts he could take me through. No. Their answer is buy a new box or cancel.

In the end I told him that I'd likely cancel as this call has totally changed my opinion of the company that I used to love. He was like, ok, sure. Do you want to cancel now? I almost said yes, but seriously needed more than a minute to think about parting with my tivo and investigate the alternatives.

So. Sad.