Sunday, December 30, 2007

WHS Reunion...

To all of you Wheeling High School '98 people out there, I just heard that the 10 year reunion will be on October 4th. Now for the only-in-the-midwest way I heard about this. I was at a wedding at the Westin in Wheeling and there just happened to be another WHS '98 wedding in the room next door. Krista who is running the reunion was attending that wedding and gave us the info. Small world...and odd to see so many high school people in one place!


Friday, December 28, 2007

people are the interesting part...

I had a fun conversation at last night's MIT Chicago Holiday Party with a ex-bell labs/google guy. It was fun to talk to another engineer who sees that the really interesting part of CS/engineering really is in the interactions of the technology with people. Unlike me, he has still continued to work in the pure technology side of things even though it's not as interesting/exciting. I just could never see doing that. "Work" to me is about following interesting, complex issues that interest me and not at all about doing one thing that I'm really good at like writing software. There are just so many more interesting problems out there. And most of the interesting ones to me are about understanding how people interact with each other and with technology.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

a year in review...

So I've done this for the past 2 years and it was fun, so here we go again!

1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Worked with a startup company, watched (part of) a soccer game from a private suite, visited Australia, climbed the stairs at the Eiffel Tower, rode in a high-speed train (not counting acela), saw a musical in Chicago, rode in a ferry boat, went surfing in the ocean!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
Last year, I promised to do better at this, and I did! This year I visited Australia, The Netherlands, France, Canada, and Mexico.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
More free time.

7. What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory?
November 30th, the finals of the South American Cup, which I watched live at Estadio Azteca while demoing a system we made.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Completing and demonstrating an application for use in soccer games at Estadio Azteca during the finals of the South American Cup!

9. What was your biggest failure?
My dating life.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Twice! Which is a record for me since I never get sick. I got salmonella poisoning at the Taste of Chicago and then caught a bad flu which turned into bronchitis after one of my trips to Mexico City in December.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new TV + HD TiVo. It's awesome :)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My parents, for *finally* buying a house in FL after talking about it for the past 5 years.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
George W Bush, and the rest of his administration (same answer as the last two years)

14. Where did most of your money go?
To my condo. At least it's not going away to rent!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Paris!! (and Disneyland Paris)

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
You Are the Music In Me (HSM2) because I've watched that movie more than any 28 year old should or Like You (Kelis) which was in a neofuturist play I saw twice and really liked.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you
i. happier or sadder? happier
ii. thinner or fatter? a tiny bit fatter...gotta get running more again!
iii. richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spending time with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At my parent's house with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Good times!

22. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Sadly, no, not even close.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Colbert still ranks as #1 although I've been sad with the writers strike! MythBusters, Grey's, and Numb3rs are also high on the list.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
There's only one person I've ever hated, and yes they are still on that very short list :)

26. What was the best book you read?
What is the What (eggers) and The Assault on Reason (gore)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Totally the Red Elvises (introduced by Mor)

28. What did you want and get?
To be invited to be on a program committee for a conference. And was on the PC for ACM Multimedia, am the Poster and Demo chair for Hotmobile, and am on the PC for the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries.

29. What did you want and not get?
I really wanted to finish a bunch of work and get a paper into CHI on the mobile social work I've been doing. Other things came up and it looks like it will have to wait until ubicomp.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Had dinner with my parents at Leonas. Nothing too special.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Going on more than two dates with the same person :)

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
I don't really spend too much time (or money) on fashion. I did get a few nice shirts and found some jeans I really liked.

34. What kept you sane?
Thai Garden

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most?
I continue to admire Obama, although I'm also glad to see Kucinich still in there fighting for what he believes in!

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

37. Who did you miss?
All of my friends in far away places.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Meredith...a fun teacher who volunteers at 826 and is interested in exploring mobile education tools!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
To really stand up for what I believe is right and keep pushing for it no matter how much people want to keep the status quo or avoid conflict.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
¬°Aguilas, a ganar!



Yesterday I took my dad to see Phantom of the Opera downtown. It was a great show and fun to hang out with him in the city before they head south again. The thing that got me most was that even though it was a Broadway in Chicago production with some of the Broadway cast, they really acted the roles over being true to the original soundtrack. Which was pretty cool (as soon as I got over the fact that it sounded a bit off). The guy playing the phantom did a great job of being the fat, old, ugly, sick man that he is (which was probably made easier by the fact that Christine looked like she was 17).

Today's the MIT Chicago Holiday Party. Should be fun!!


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Things around here have been crazy busy as usual, and it looks that even though I have this week off of work, it's going to be quite busy with something planned every day. It'll be lots of fun stuff though, so it's ok. And I get to sleep in every day which makes me happy!

Oh, so one final note. Those of you who know me well know that I'm into certain particular traditions. Obviously not traditions like pointless ones declared centuries ago, but more like things that I develop with family and friends over the years. Well, one tradition that I've always enjoyed is going to church with my family on Christmas Eve. It's just something that we've always done and the service at the church where I grew up has been the same for as long as I've been alive. It's really nice and ends with the lights out and everyone holding a candle and singing Silent Night. It's nice and just equals the start to Christmas in my head. Well, this year they decided to mix things up and the "early" (non-midnight) service was a bit different without much of a sermon to speak of and no candles and hence no candle-lit Silent Night singing. It was sad. Very sad. At least I got the second part of the tradition of coming home to my parents house and watching It's a Wonderful Life on TV :)

Merry Christmas! Hope you all have a wonderful day!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Music History

This is fun! A visualization of my music listening history for the past 2 1/2 years from You can go here to make your own!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boo Panera!!

So Panera decided to no longer carry soy milk. This seems pretty crazy to me as I always hear people ordering soy-based drinks there. And if you're a coffee shop, does it really make sense to piss off the vegans? Where will I go for free wifi now? Where will I do MIT interviews? It's time to boycott Panera!


Saturday, December 08, 2007

amazing medical care...

Back in high school, I used to get bronchitis with amazing regularity the first week of december. It just always came right on time up until my sophomore year at MIT. Since then, I haven't really gotten sick much at all. Back in those days, when seeing a doctor, I got one of two responses. Either, tough it out and you'll get better on your own, or here, take some antibiotics and you'll be better in a week. These experiences really led to me hating doctors and thinking that they really just can't do their jobs on average.

Well, this week, I had the totally opposite experience, a doctor that was so transparent in everything she was doing, who did everything I could imagine her doing, and gave me all I needed not just to get better, but to feel better while doing it.

So it turns out that my flu turned into bronchitis, that fun little visitor from my high school days. I could feel it coming on, so headed into the doctor. I had a really horrible sore throat to go along with the cough as well. So she's like, ok, there could be three bad things going on, we're going to test for each. So #1, strep test...well, maybe not fun, but was glad she did this since my throat was on fire. No strep, but that's ok. Next up, let's make sure it's not pneumonia. Quick chest x-ray and that's not it. So then some listening and coughing and a diagnosis of bronchitis. That's the most thorough treatment I've ever gotten at a doctor. And very glad since those were all things I was worried about.

So then the best part comes. She's like, of course I'll give you some antibiotics and you'll be feeling better with those in a few days. But in the mean time, here's an inhaler that will open up your airways, make it easier to breathe and cough, and help clear things up. And man, did that make a difference! And finally, I had mentioned earlier that I had a hard time sleeping with coughing at night, so prescription #3 was a super cough suppressant with codine :)

Wow. My thoughts on doctors have changed. There's at least one good one out there!


Thursday, December 06, 2007


So every year everyone is always making a big deal out of getting flu shots. I never even thought about getting one since never in my life have I had the flu. Well, until this week that is. And man, has it sucked. Needless to say, next year I'm going to be getting in line for one of those shots at work!


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mexico City, Part II

So I'm just about finishing up my second trip to Mexico City! It was another wonderful trips with lots of fun happenings.

Lots of great food this time, but first a story about another type of food. So the guys from the stadium took us out to lunch our second day here. We went to this little restaurant near the stadium and we sit down. There's nothing to order it seems as food just starts coming. Well, they set down a giant bowl of beef in front of me and I'm like, um, no thank you, I'm vegetarian. Do you have any beans or rice? (in spanish of course). And she looks at me and says, no, we cannot help you here. Turns out they did have a nice place of avocado and onions that they brought out which was wonderful in the tortillas everyone else was using for their beef :)

But now onto the good food :) I found a little organic cafe down the street from the hotel which was just wonderful. If you ever find yourself in Mexico CIty and are in search of good veggie food and juices, go to La Buena Tierra. Wraps, veggie burgers, hummus, they have it all!

By Wednesday, we had finished most of our preparation for the game, so we took the afternoon off and went downtown to see the city square and cathedral. This city is pretty amazing as the whole central neighborhood looks like you are transported to europe. I guess the spanish did control the city for a very long time, but it's amazing to see all of the very old and ornate cathedrals and everything. There were also some ruins of the aztec pyramid that used to be here before the spanish came.

While downtown, of course I was on the hunt for more veggie food. And we stopped into a Super Soya for a vegan torta and some soy ice cream. Who says you can't find veggie food in mexico? :)

And then of course, yesterday was the big game! The final of the South American Cup at Estadio Azteca. It's amazing to see 100,000+ people pack into the stadium and cheer and sing and really get into the game. The score was close, but the home team (Club America) lost 3-2. It's only game 1 though, so they have another chance when they head to argentina soon. It was fun to see the game from a few different perspectives...the broadcast booth, the owner's suite, and some other private boxes. All in all, a pretty amazing evening.

OK...well I need to head off to the airport now! See you all back in Chicago soon!