Weekend in Chicago

Tammy and I had our first big weekend away without Mazie. We went to Chicago and took advantage of the long weekend. Tammy did all the preparations and built an entire weekend agenda around what she knew I would like to do. We indulged in a fancy hotel, great restaurants, museums and shows.

peninsula-logo.gifI like nice hotels — I admit it. I’m not high maintenance, requiring them. But it’s nice to enjoy a great hotel. The Chicago Peninsula hotel was certainly spot on. The service was lavish, the rooms were opulent and the amenities were amazing. The rooms were wired up with central controls for all light, entertainment and heating controls. All the controls for pretty much everything were right there on this great console next to the bed. The Spa services were amazing, although very overpriced. It was a shame that we didn’t get there until 2:30 am on Saturday morning to enjoy the hotel!

btn_yolk_f2.gifOn Saturday we had a full day. We had a great breakfast at Yolk, a new restaurant south on Michigan Ave. After that we went to the Field Museum for a short trip through one of the wings. We only had less than 2 hours at the museum. Then onto our massages and an hour at the gym before heading to dinner at Trattoria No. 10 followed by two seats at Wicked.

wicked.jpgWicked was simply great. Neither Tammy or I are huge theater people, but we enjoy an occasional show. As such, my view of Wicked is far from thorough or scientific. That aside, I really enjoyed it and it was the first musical that I would happily go to again. You should check it out if you have the opportunity. It is worth the effort!

We had a more relaxed day on Sunday with breakfast in the room and a somewhat cheesy Untouchables Bus Tour of Chicago. We got to drive around the city and get the lowdown on various gangster shootings and see some the places that Capone and others hung out during there times.

We did a little shopping on Michigan Ave, including an obligatory stop at the Apple Store to marvel at the glass staircase. Walking across the glass bridge on the 2nd level was a bit eerie. We tried a new place for deep dish pizza, Paisano’s. I was a bit disappointed. Gino’s East is still my preferred. Paisono’s just wasn’t deep enough. Not enough sauce.

It was a great weekend. A huge thanks to both Grandma’s for watching Mazie while we were gone. It was a little hard leaving her behind for so long, but was great to know she was in great hands. And an even bigger thanks to my great wife for setting up the whole weekend! You rock dear!

What I Learned on AM Radio

This past weekend Tammy and I drove to Chicago for a long-weekend getaway. We drove there late on Friday, arriving in the early morning of Saturday. We decided to take a trip on the AM side of the radio dial. It’s amazing what you find on that side of the dial. In between the crackling of static there are some real gems. I thought I would share some of the great learnings with all of you!

  • The push to raise minimum wages is all a big scheme by the unions to drive labor costs up.
  • America would be a lot better off if we took some lessons from arranged marriages and brought “disgrace” back to our culture.
  • Most notably, it turns out that most people that feel sluggish and lack energy are that way because they aren’t having proper bowel movements. With the appropriate cleansing you can feel like you are 20 years old again.

Great stuff. Amazing learnings.

Everyone Votes on Wii

Can I just take a moment to say that I’m hugely impressed with what Nintendo is doing with the Wii. I fired up my Wii tonight just to play for a bit and decided to do a system update. I wasn’t expecting one, but found 2.0U was available. I then stumbled into the Shopping Channel and found a new free download in Wii Ware called Everyone Votes. Today was the first day it was available, and I hadn’t heard anything about this.

There is nothing amazing about this new game, but I think it flexes the muscle of the Wii so well. The premise is simple, you answer either/or questions and then predict what everyone else will answer. You play with your Mii. Questions are bounded in regions (states for the US). There are also international questions and you can even suggest questions.
I answered the launch questions and suggested another question. I just love that Nintendo is really thinking “outside the box” as it were with the Wii. No other game manufacturer would think of something like Everyone Votes.

Links to more about Everyone Votes: Wii Nation, Wii Nintendo, Go Nintendo.

Note, you have to do a system update to 2.0U in order to install this. Make sure to do an update before going to the shopping channel.

Making Tab Work "Right" in OS X

I’ve found myself continually frustrated with the behavior of Tab in OS X when filling out forms on web pages. I fill out my name, press tab, fill out something else, and then press tab to select a checkbox but OS X by default won’t let you tab into a checkbox.

I decided I had enough of this and did a little research. I’m happy to report this can be fixed! Go to System Preferences and select your Keyboard & Mouse settings. Switch to the last tab, Keyboard Shortcuts. On the bottom you can switch tab behavior to honor All Controls. Yeah!

PackRat – Taking Backpack on the Road

packrat_icon.pngI mentioned earlier that I’ve become a huge fan of Backpack. It is my home page in all of my browsers. I’ve been able to consolidate so many other random things into it. The reminder feature is stunningly useful. I’m still learning new ways to use it (mobile integration is the current item). I just can’t say enough. However, the only issue with Backpack is if you happen to not be online, you are stuck.

Here comes PackRat to the rescue. PackRat is a great Mac OS X application that connects to Backpack and gives you an offline version. You give it your Backpack username and API key, it connects and within seconds downloads all of your content to your laptop. You can then make changes offline and reconnect and magically it’s all back on your Backpack site. It even allows you to manage reminders.

The spiffy thing about PackRat is that since it isn’t running in a browser, there is some stuff that it does nicer than Backpack, like tag navigation. I’m finding myself using PackRat a decent amount even when I am online as it has a nearly identical user experience to Backpack and is a bit faster without the HTTP reloads in the middle.

If you are an avid Backpack user, and a Mac user, this is a great program to add. I just wish there was also a Windows version.

Blackberry Break

I just got back home after a business trip. This trip entailed an offsite training event. At any event like this you have a couple of breaks in the morning and afternoon. These used to just be a “Break”. A decade ago when cell phones really became prevalent these turned into “Communication Breaks”. Everyone would dash out of the room and dial up their mobiles.

The vernacular has changed! It is now “Blackberry Breaks”. I believe this now makes the ‘crackberry’ a brand like Kleenex. Even the couple of people with non-Blackberry Blackberry’s like Treos and Windows Mobile devices were enjoying their “Blackberry Break”.

I wonder if we’ll be takin “iPhone Breaks”, or just an “iBreak”.