Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The co-lead singer of Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis, played Haley in the 1989 Nintendo movie The Wizard!

That was too odd not to post :)


vote early (not often)

This morning on my way into work I thought I'd zip by the Palatine Village Hall and get my voting done. I had the judges list all printed out (in cook county, the majority of the ballot is deciding which of like 100 judges get to continue on), had reviewed the ballot initiatives, and was all ready to go.

As I turned the corner onto the second floor of the building I saw a pretty crazy long line snaking back and forth down the hallway. I almost turned away, but the poll watcher (yeah, the stereotypical 70-something grandmother-ly looking lady) convinced me to stay and said it shouldn't be more than about 45 minutes. It was almost exactly that.

Now I was really impressed with the voting system this year. Cook County has only a small number of early voting sites, but hundreds (thousands?) of permutations of ballot based on different districts. But early voters can vote anywhere which means that they need to match the proper ballot with the proper voter no matter where they show up.

So instead of having a paper printout of all of the registered voters, it was all on a computer. The computer brings up a code for the type of ballot you need, they punch that into the voting card machine and then give you a smart card with that ballot type stored on it. You take that to the electronic voting machines and up pops the ballot for your district.

I've been really impressed with the Cook County voting machines since they introduced them two years ago on a trial basis. You get to review your choices three times including reviewing and approving the paper trail that gets printed out. The interface is simple and easy to use and makes it really easy to correct any errors you might make.

All in all, a great voting experience, despite the wait. They said they had a two hour wait over the weekend, so it could have been worse.


my tivo scares me...

Let's add this to the pile of posts about ipods playing meaningful songs in meaningful places, amazon.com recommending books that I've just talked about with friends, etc...

Last week when I was eating dinner in Hollywood, Jennifer Esposito from Samantha Who was eating at the table next to us. I had no idea who she was and thought I'd tivo the show to at least see the person I sat next to in action. I never got around to adding it, but what was in my tivo suggestions today? The latest Samantha Who.

Weird. Scary. It's always interesting how unrelated/random events can seem to have so much meaning.


Sunday, October 26, 2008


Well, although my trip to LA had a wonderful and relaxing start, that's not how it ended.

Work went well Thursday and I met an old housemate of mine for dinner in Santa Monica. The food was tasty and it was wonderful to see her! However, the next morning that food was not so tasty anymore. I came down with a pretty bad case of food poisoning and had to spend the day in bed in the hotel, which was not anywhere near my plan.

I had hoped to get up at 6am, head down to the beach, go for a nice 6 mile run, head off to the work I had to do out there that day, and fly home on the red eye. Instead, I had to extend my trip until the next day when I wouldn't be sick all over the plane and spent the time in between confined to my room.

Yesterday morning I felt a little bit better, and more confident that I could make it home. I drove down to Santa Monica and tried to keep down a Jamba Juice which was successful and then made my way to LAX for the flight home. The airplane ride wasn't that bad...but the bus ride to lot G a O'Hare was almost enough to take away my day of success.

I'm feeling mostly better now. My stomach still feels a bit off, but hopefully will be all back to normal soon. I missed a 6 and a 12 mile run, so jumping back into things this week will be a challenge.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

finally relaxing...

As most of you know, this past month or two has been less than fun at work. Lots of coding and 12-15 hour days have been the norm and well that's just not my idea of a good time. I've been super stressed out trying to keep in my mind dozens of things to do and trying to squeeze in runs as well.

Today though was my first day to relax. I flew out to LA, ran 3 miles, and had a wonderful dinner with an old friend at a vegan restaurant in hollywood. It was fantastic to relax and not be super stressed. Hopefully I can keep up this less-stress living for a while.


Friday, October 10, 2008

busy but fun?

It's been one of those insane weeks where I've felt like I just can't take a minute to breathe. Work has been insanely hectic and I'm up to 21 mile weeks in marathon training, which as you could imagine takes a lot of my free time away.

All of you know I do love to work hard on things, but I'm way deep in development for my main project now and it's all coding all the time. Which does not tend make me a happy person as that's my least preferred activity :)

So this afternoon I took a few hours and sat down with my colleague Crysta and belted out a workshop position paper for CHI. Now that's the kind of afternoon that totally turns my mood around. Crysta and I write papers together all the time, so it was just nice to sit down and do something that involves thinking for a while instead of sitting alone in our super-heated lab battling poorly documented APIs and implementing 3 different applications at the same time.

I'm looking forward to more of the fun side of work this weekend. I have a nice load of CHI papers and shorts to review and it's about time I got cracking on that.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


is of bad that I smiled when I saw that the Ethel's Chocolate in the train station downtown has closed?


Monday, October 06, 2008

Vegan Milano Cookies!

Vegan Milano Cookies!
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
Tonight I decided to stay in and have a nice quiet evening at home after a super-busy weekend. I've been dying to make these Vegan Milano cookies for weeks now so turned on the Sox game, turned up some nice relaxing music, and gave the recipe a go! They turned out really well and are amazingly tasty. I really love everything those two chefs do. My friend Amber turned me on to their book Veganomicon and I later discovered Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World which is just as amazing and even more sugar-packed.

So I highly recommend the cookies! Perfect with a nice cup of tea :)


Let's Go Sox!!

A Boston Bar in Chicago
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
The Cubbies may be out of the playoffs, but the Red Sox are definitely still in it! Last night I made my way into the city to meet a friend of an MIT friend to watch the game at a Boston bar. There's no name on the outside of the place, but it goes by either Triplio Tap or Nic and Dino's and it's on Armitage just west of the brown line stop.

So we get there and the Pat's game is still going on...and the place is packed, with half the people wearing Pat's jerseys on and the other half with Sox gear on. It stayed super crowded for the whole game and the whole place got into the game more than any section at the stadium! Cheers, clapping, high-fiving, cheering for every ball and strike. It was pretty awesome! It's definitely a place I'll have to return to for future Boston sporting events. Highly recommended!


Sunday, October 05, 2008


The Biden/Palin debates, definitely one of the best SNL bits ever! The last line is pricesless, but I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet...


a bunch of nice people

I always tell people how awesome my high school class was. Seriously they are some of the nicest people I've ever met. Last night was my 10-year high school reunion at Cubbie Bear North and I got to see so many people that I hadn't seen in these. And all of them were just as nice as I remembered :)

Among the highlights I got to see an old friend from junior high shop/home ec, a friend from math and spanish classes that has lived in spain for the past 6 years, most of my ap physics/calc class, my across-the-street neighbor from elementary school, the girl who sat in front of me in Oral Communications, and one of the editors-in-chief of our high school newspaper. All wonderfully nice people!

It was a very fun night! Too bad the cubs lost.