Sunday, April 27, 2008


Bill Nye is green. :)


Saturday, April 26, 2008

two hours of fun...

So with all of the work that I have to do these next few weeks, I've decided to make a policy of doing at least some little fun thing every day. A movie, a good dinner, a long run, just something to break up the insanity of work :)

Today's fun was going to see 21 with Stacie. Now from the moment I saw the trailer, I knew we had to see this. I mean come on, any movie set in Boston is a must for us, but one at MIT, one about the MIT blackjack team. There was no way we were missing this one!

And it lived up to its expectations. The MIT scenes were wonderful and they got all of the little details right, like the numbered classrooms, numbered courses (2.09 in the movie = something like 2.007 in reality), classrooms being open for anyone to use at night, etc. A few things were off though including teaching newton-raphson in a senior level class, somehow mixing newton-raphson and the monty hall problem into a single class lecture, express red line T trains to Davis, said trains stopping at Quincy, and way too many women in supposedly senior-level math classes. :) All in all a great movie that brought many smiles and highly recommended especially for anyone from MIT!

In other news, the bulk of today was spent working. And coding. I think I wrote more code today than I have in the past year combined. Which was kind of fun :) I got what I needed to get working, at least in an initial version, so it was nice to have a little "weekend project" that only took one day. Tomorrow it's back to the journal submission. Four more days to get it done and submitted!

A note, more to myself, but also for anyone who wants to see any of these movies with me...

Movies to see in the next few months:
Sex and the City
Get Smart



I just got signed up for a whole lot of work to do these next few weeks on top of everything else I need to be doing. It's crazy and involves coding (which I haven't done for a while!) on a whole new platform I haven't ever used before. With a three week deadline.

So these next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy for me! Sorry if I'm less social than usual!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

meeting people vs. strong tie connections

As I read and prepare for a journal submission that I'm working on, I've come to realize just how much research has gone into technology that helps people meet other people, previously unknown to them, or get to know someone that they have just met. Which really makes me look around and wonder where all the research is on what really matters to most people, their long-lasting strong-tie social relationships. It's really amazing to me how little is out there on mediated communication with people we already care about.

I don't know...I've never sat on a bus and thought, hey, I'd like to be friends with a random person I don't know or see what music the guy next to me is playing. But I have been on the bus many times and wished I could more easily be in touch with people I know well...see what's new with them, show in some small way that I'm thinking about them, to just be able to spend a tiny bit of that time "with" someone else that matters to me.

Anyway, just a little side rant as a break from all of my reading. For those who might want to know more about what I'm writing, I can say more after May 1 when I get it cleared. :)


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

big bang theory..

Via Stacie, a fun quote from the TV show Big Bang Theory...

"So, this is engineering, huh? Engineering...where the noble semi-skilled laborers execute the vision of those who think and dream. Hello oompa loompas of science."


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vegan Fast Food

Veggie Bite
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
I feel like this is turning into more and more of a food blog as time goes on :)

So today I finally made it down to Veggie Bite, the vegan fast food restaurant in Wicker Park (Paulina and Milwaukee). It's conveniently located right across the street from 826 CHI where I tutor :) Anyway, it's a totally vegan american fast food restaurant with everything from chili dogs to chicken nuggets to burgers, fajita wraps, and tacos. They also have quite a variety of vegan shakes, which honestly was the best part :)

I had a chili dog, fries, and a dreamsicle shake and they were all quite tasty. But man, that dreamsicle was quite possibly the most amazing thing I've ever had to drink! :) I think I'll definitely have to get another when I go to tutor this wednesday!

So everyone should go and support them and get some vegan fast food. They are actually doing amazingly well right now with a line that goes almost out the door all day long, which is pretty incredible. They did pick the right neighborhood though!

Yay for vegan fast food!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

why I wish I spoke more Italian...

So when I was in Rome last week, I heard about these amazing places called "centro sociales" which are these crazy art/science/music places all over the city. People just take over random vacant buildings and turn them into these venues and some of them have been occupied for years now. They mount art exhibits, perform plays, have concerts with local music, build crazy things, etc. Basically like the definition of a place I'd want to spend my evening. Some of them have things called "hacklabs" which well, it's pretty much what you think - people hacking software, hardware, etc. One of the centers in Rome had a play called "(a + b)^3" which sounded quite excellent about (from what I could glean from the Italian) a couple that fall in love in a giant cube. But seeing that I don't really speak any Italian and some of these aren't exactly in the best areas of the city (places where there are lots of abandoned buildings), I thought it best to stay clear. I don't think I'd get much out of an Italian play :)

Anyway, I wish we had things like this in Chicago. It sounds like such a cool concept!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

back home...

I made it back home late last night and it's so great to be back. It was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad that I took a few vacation days at the end to relax a bit in Rome. Rome was amazing and instead of going on and on about it, you can just see the pictures.

So besides peach iced tea and 300 km/hour trains, one thing that I totally love about europe is the news. My hotel in Florence had both BBC News and Al Jazeera International which just cover the news in a very different way from American news agencies. I miss the days of having satellite TV in Boston and getting all of the wonderful news, the stories that mattered told by people there interacting with real people and not just the top sensational stories that will draw american ratings. It's wonderful.

So I'm back, relaxed, and ready for the start of a wonderful summer in Chicago. For all of you in the area, let's go do something!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

vegan food in italy

Those who know me know that I love food. And when I travel, I love finding really good vegan food wherever I go. This trip is no exception and I have the following recommendations:

Il Vegetariano - This place was great (once we figured out how to get our food)! They have a choice of a few first and second dishes with at least one of each that is vegan. I loved this place so much, I went back twice! The first time, they served up a wonderful rice curry for the first course and chicken-style tofu with potatoes and carrots for the second. Quite good! The second trip offered a raisin-rice first course and a risotto with veggies for a second course. So wonderful! So as I mentioned, the way to get your food is a bit odd and undocumented. So if you ever go, here's what to do. Get some silverware from near the cashier. Find a free table (may be hard), put your coat and silverware there. Go back to the cashier and order from the chalkboard next to her. Then get a tray and take your receipt to the counter to get your food. Definitely worth the process! :)

Il Margutta RestaurArte - A fun veggie place tucked into an alley otherwise full of art galleries. This place had a wonderful 5 course Vegan menu, so I had to try it out! The best part of it all, breaded seitan. I cannot tell you how good this was! Definitely something that I'll have to try out on my own. And vegan gazpacho too! A little more pricey, but so so good!

TAD - TAD is a design concept store near Spagna. They have everything from a magnetically-levitated Buddha to sheets, clothing, and music. Also in the back is a wonderful little courtyard cafe. This place combined two of my favorites - naan and veggie wraps into this naan veggie wrap. Whoever thought of this idea deserves some sort of prize. Seriously veggies in a wrap of naan. So tasty! Now if only they combined forces with Margutta and made a breaded seitan naan wrap :)

Those are the veggie highlights so far! As I'm heading back up to Florence tomorrow and then back home early Tuesday, it's likely to be the full list of veggie awesomeness from Italy for this trip. Oh, and everytime I come to Europe I remember just how much I *love* Peach Iced Tea. It's everywhere! And it's amazing :)


Friday, April 11, 2008


I really love taking Eurostar trains. Power outlets at every seat, really nice seats with good back support, and they go up to 300 km/hour. You really can't beat that :)



The CHI conference in Florence was excellent as always. There's seriously no other event each year that I look forward to more than CHI. Fun friends from around the world getting together, thinking hard, eating good food, and just total intensity for 4 full days!

The conference itself went well. Our lab had three papers, two of which I was an author on. Gunnar gave a great talk on Social TV and I gave what turned out to be a fairly controversial talk about our Location Sharing study. It certainly led to lots of conversation as the week went on!!

Florence was nice as well and I took a little time to go explore (and climb up) the Duomo, the giant cathedral in the center of town. This afternoon I also made it to a Leonardo Museum where you could play with mockups of some of his designs. So fun!

This morning I made it to Pisa and saw the leaning tower. I guess I never realized how much it actually leaned. I'm amazed they still let people go up in it! :)

Now I'm down in Rome for a few days on vacation. I'm really looking forward for a chance to relax and just not think of work for a few days :)

Hope all is well with all of you! I'll be back in Chicago for a while after this trip, so hopefully I can see many of you again soon!


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mexico, Part IV

View from the box
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
This week's trip to Mexico City was fantastic :) We were running our system at a big Club América game against River Plate from Argentina. The game was great (4-3 América with 6 of the goals in the 2nd half!) and more importantly our system worked and we were able to get a lot of great feedback from users!

The next day after some meetings, we took a tour of a TV studio down there and got to see all of their post-production stuff as well as watch a few telenovelas getting filmed. Interesting and fun! No castles or cathedrals this trip, but I'll probably be seeing a bunch of those this next week in Italy :)

Speaking of which, I'm all packed and just waiting for the ride to the airport! I'm super-excited for CHI this year and glad that my talk is monday. Yay for getting it over with quickly :) Last year I was on the last day and spent the whole week tweaking my slides and preparing which was not so fun :)

OK. See you all in a week or so!