Sunday, June 29, 2008

Race to Taste 5k

This morning I just tied my 5k PR in the annual Race to Taste in Chicago (27:08 8:44/mile). It's always a fun race and a part of the giant Taste of Chicago festivities in Grant Park. This year sported a new, hillier, course that included Mt. Roosevelt, getting on and off LSD, the hill going around Soldier's Field, and the underpass by the museum campus. A really nice course though! I felt good the whole way through and had I known that I would have been close to my PR (more on that later) should have given it a little more at the end and gotten at least a second or two off.

So why didn't I know my time? Well, sadly, this was probably the worst run race I've ever been a part of. It started about 15 minutes late because they were still checking people in (there were 2 workers to check in 4,000 runners), all of the clocks on the course were at different times. I knew I had a good mile 1, but then when I got to mile 2, it said that I had done that whole second mile in less than 8 minutes which I knew was wrong. Then the mile 3 clock said I was already over 27:30 and I turned the corner to see the clock at the finish line a second later and it's still in the high 26's. And then after the race, the gear check line was over an hour and a half because they hadn't thought to put the 4,000 bags in any kind of order.

That said, I really do love this race. It's the first one I ever ran so it holds a special place in my heart :) And who doesn't love running to the Taste of Chicago, the best summer festival around :)

Speaking of the taste, there are even more veggie options this year as Soul Veg has joined the crowd! Yay!


Thursday, June 26, 2008

text updates

My dentist now sends SMS reminders for appointments. How awesome is that?


Sunday, June 22, 2008

labs in the news...

Crysta and the Social TV team are in today's Chicago Tribune!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

old friends...

Last night was an odd combining of worlds. One of my very good friends from undergrad was on a super quick trip to the suburbs of Chicago for work. Since her schedule was tight and she was staying in Deerfield, we just made a quick stop at Ram (a microbrewery) in Wheeling. It's always so odd when people from my Boston world end up right down the street from where I grew up. :)

It was fun to hang out, even if just for a few minutes, and catch up a bit. It's been over a year since I've been out to Boston and I feel so disconnected. I can't wait to start teaching again in the spring and make more regular trips!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ellowen Deeowen

I'm back in Chicago and London was excellent as always. It's definitely one of my favorite cities in the world especially now since it's becoming so vegan-friendly. As always when I travel, here's a rundown of the food:

Tuesday afternoon, we had tea at Eat and 2 Veg near Baker St. It's a nice vegan restaurant that reminds me of a nicer Lettus in appearance with Chicago Diner like food. We didn't eat lunch but came in for some tea and cake, which was excellent.

Tuesday evening was the food highlight of the trip, Hakkasan. It's been one of my favorite restaurants in the world, and this time it has clearly made it into the #1 spot by quite the distance. We had a veggie dim sum platter for an appetizer that had some dumplings and spring rolls filled with amazing mock-meats and incredible flavors. My main was a mock-chicken dish unlike any other I've ever tried. So amazingly good. And the waitress had to warn me before I started eating that, "don't worry, you'll think it's real meat, but it's not" :) And then I finished it out with some interestingly flavored sorbets. Again, I can't recommend this place enough!!

On Wednesday we were up in Birmingham for our workshop and had dinner at Rajnagar, an Indian restaurant. It was good with great naan and some good potato dishes.

Thursday after the workshop was over it was back to london and a trip to Brick Land for dinner at Bengal Village. This tiny little restaurant was excellent with tons of Bangladeshi food. I highly recommend it, and it's fairly inexpensive too. They have a pretty extensive veggie menu too! I think we ordered 4-5 veggie plates. Just pass on the samosas :)

So enough about food. Other highlights of the trip included being crazy tourists on Tuesday in London. My colleague had never been there before, so we hit all the biggies. British Museum (which had an amazing exhibit on american printmaking - From Hopper to Pollock), Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben, the London Eye (which was pretty amazing!), and Piccadilly Circus. And yesterday morning was filled with fun shopping - tea, vegan starburst (they aren't vegan in america, so I stock up everytime I head over), underground store, etc.

Overall a great trip! The business part went well too and I'm excited about the possibilities. We had a lot of fun over there too. Can't ask for anything more!



For those wondering, yes, I am still employed despite all the news. And I am still a part of the central/longer-term research group and not moved into a business unit.


Monday, June 09, 2008

social weekend...

I think I've been more social this weekend than in the past few months combined :) It was a weekend where I should have been working more and getting ready for this trip to London, but not much work actually got done.

Friday night was my dad's b-day so time was spent with family over dinner and afterwards. It's hard to believe he's 68 now. He's a big cubs fan, so I gave him some tickets for this week that I wouldn't be using and he is quite excited to go!

Saturday was a triple-header. First, the writing center where I tutor had a session at the Printer's Row Book Fair where the students would be reading from their new book. It was excellent! The book, Right In Front of Us, is written by high school students from the city about life changing moments. It's really powerful stuff, but really sad as well to hear about these kids struggles with gangs, alcoholic parents, drugs, infidelity, and absent parents. I highly recommend the book for a first hand account of city life in 2008. After the high school students read, some of the 4th graders from a school near cabrini green read from books the the center has been helping them write. Quite a contrast from the high school kids as the topic matter was more about vacations, magical animals, etc. It's nice to see the the 4th graders still have some innocence left.

After the book fair was the annual 826CHI BBQ for all of the tutors and volunteers at the center. It was great to catch up with other tutors I hadn't seen in a while and have some great veggie food.

And the evening ended with an engagement party for an old student house friend of mine. Lots of fun to get out in Lincoln Park and meet some of her friends. It's been a while since I've been out in the city! Too much work lately!

And to wrap up the weekend, yesterday we had a joint MIT/Caltech event at the Goose Island Brewery. The brewer there (there's only one guy!) took us on a tour and explained how beer is made...chemically. :) He had lots of great questions and was impressed with the audience's knowledge of chemical processes and different types of yeast! Definitely a fun event, and I recommend the tour highly. Hands down the best brewery tour I've ever been on.

Now it's time to head off to London! It should be a great week and I'm looking forward to some great food tomorrow as we have reservations at Hakkasan, my favorite restaurant in the world :)


Thursday, June 05, 2008

pecha kucha

Last night I joined a colleague at the 5th Chicago Pecha Kucha night. It's a fun design/art/architecture evening where presenters get 6 1/2 minutes to present their ideas/thoughts/designs and it's highly recommended!

Last night they had a few great presenters including the director of Red Moon who gave a nice talk on it being ok to fail and how people should push the boundaries of what's possible. It was very topical given recent happenings at work so it was great to hear someone so positive and encouraging. Venturi's son also came to give a talk on his new documentary of his parents' lives and their struggle to be taken seriously in the architecture community obsessed with Mies and modernism. Other talks included inspiration from photos of the arctic and a guy who is starting his own small record label in an age of downloads.

I definitely had a great time and look forward to returning again in september for part 6! And if you're not in Chicago, look for one in a city near you. This is now a global phenomenon.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

controversial mobile studies...

So some people in the CHI community thought that the study I presented this year was a bit controversial. However we followed all ethics guidelines and had explicit permission from all participants and all of the people that they talked to to collect our data. This study from Northeastern on the other hand did not, and would be illegal in the US. It raises some interesting questions on research methods and privacy laws from country to country. Regardless of what you think of the methods, the findings are interesting in the small amount of movement most people have. 1/2 their users didn't move more than 6 miles away in 6 months. 83 percent stuck to a 37 mile radius. Maybe not surprising, but always interesting to think about how atypical many of our lives are - < 1 percent went more than 621 miles "regularly"


Monday, June 02, 2008

more summer fun...

I love anytime I get to work downtown in the summer. There's just so much going on in the city. Like today when I stumbled upon a chinese acrobatics show in the park on my way back from Jamba Juice. While maybe not quite as amazing as the one I saw in Beijing, they were pretty great and did all sorts of tricks where the whole audience was in disbelief :)

Apologies for the low quality picture. My old v3xx finally decided to die and I'm using a 2005 era v3 for a bit.


todo el mundo habla espaƱol!

I was on the el this morning on the way from my dentist into the downtown office and there was this couple from Spain on the train struggling to figure out where they needed to go. So this one guy starts talking to them in Spanish and helping them out, but he doesn't know exactly where they want to go. So I chime in and so does a girl sitting across from me and we're all talking about where they should go and what they should do as tourists here...all in Spanish. And every time another person in the train started talking in Spanish, the couple looked more and more confused. Finally, the lady was like, "Does everyone in Chicago speak Spanish!?" It was funny.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

seen on the back of a peapod truck...

"driver does not carry cash...only cashews"



summer in the city

It seems the summer has finally arrived in Chicago and the weather is perfect! With yesterday's high of 85, it seemed like the perfect day to go wandering around the city. The streets of chicago were full of people enjoying the weather and I was able to spend some time in the park reading for a while and going over by the lakefront. Chicago really is a beautiful city in the summer.

There were a bunch of really excellent street musicians on Michigan Ave. Including this one guy that was playing a guitar, harmonica, and symbols at the same time. I definitely should have taken a video of that!

And I made it to Veggie Bite again but they were all out of milkshakes...which really is the reason for going there! I had a meatball sub though which is definitely going on the good list. :)

Oh, and last but not least - I saw the Sex and the City movie on Friday. And it was great! Highly recommended for anyone who loved the TV series. I won't give anything away, but I will say that I was quite satisfied with the ending. It really couldn't have ended any other way. :) Yay for optimists in love.