St. Louis so far…

Ian and Teagan on the train into St. Louis
Ian (l) and Teagan (r) on the train into St. Louis Monday afternoon (01/2010)

… is kind of a mixed bag. Ian, Teagan (a friend of Ian’s), and I are back here for the week for a conference (more on that in a bit), but I don’t yet really have much of an opinion aside from initial impressions. We flew in on Monday and rode the train from the airport into the downtown area to the hotel. The train ride was grey, brown, and rust: a grey blustery day, nothing green in sight, and passing through areas of run-down industrial and urban decay on the west side of the city. I’m a little surprised at the lack of effort on the part of the city to do anything to clean up the area, given the impression it leaves on someone new to town. Depressing.

The hotel where we are staying and where the conference is being hosted is pretty decent and is big enough that it doesn’t seem stretched to hold us all. Decent food within walking distance (very good Italian at J.F. Sanfilippo’s on Monday — made even better by great service — and decent Med last night at Nara’s). Looks like several sushi and Irish places close to us, too. We’ll probably check those out the next couple evenings. We haven’t really had much of a chance to get out and see anything, but the food and the hotel have been a bit of a counterpoint to the ride in…

Ian and Teagan were presented their awards at the conference yesterday morning in one of the plenary sessions, following a great presentation by Alan Paller of the SANS Institute. I’ll post a picture or two if I can track them down. They have their presentation this morning; I’m sure both of them will be glad to be past that so they can just enjoy the rest of the conference.

Chicago: Home again

I made it home last night with little trouble, although it was close at one point.

We wrapped up the conference yesterday at mid-day. My last presentation went well, and then we bailed, heading for the airport early figuring the sooner we got to O’Hare, the better. We got stuck in traffic just at the entrance to the airport; there was something going on at one of the terminals — we never did hear what, although at one point we heard something on the shuttle driver’s radio that they had the terminal completely closed. After sitting literally motionless for close to an hour in traffic — and thinking how glad we were we had decided to leave early, and watching people walk with their luggage past the stopped traffic as they took matters into their own hands, presumably with the intent of making flights — traffic began creeping forward and eventually loosened up so that we made it to the right terminal in plenty of time. Got a bite to eat, took a nap, and boarded for SLC pretty close to on-time… only to get stuck in pretty much another traffic jam. At one point the pilot indicated we were number 20 in line for take off (weather off to one side of the airport had the place down to a single runway for departures).

We ended up leaving Chicago more than an hour after our scheduled departure, and were faced with a 100+ knot headwind (more info from our ever-helpful crew on the flight deck). I figured that our already relatively tight connection in SLC was history… and it nearly was. We came in on the far end of one concourse and had to get to the other end of another; by the time we got to our gate, they had already closed the door. We were pleasantly surprised, though, that they called down to the ramp, held the plane and sent us dashing through… and somehow they got our bags on board.

Home again, safe and sound. And it feels good to be back. Deb, Li, and Ian were glad to see me. Li was pretty excited to see me this morning when she woke up, and it was fun to get to snuggle a little with her this morning. I went in to work for a couple hours to take care of a couple loose ends, and now I’m off for a couple days of vacation (not counting the weekend) to try to refuel and reconnect with life. I came home to something unexpected: we bought a white 1986 manual Subaru GL wagon for Ian to use. One more step as he grows up; this one feels bigger than most.

I’ve got a couple pix on my phone that I will pull down and post from one of my early morning runs out to Navy Pier.

Chicago: Last day

I head for home later today, and with any luck will be back in my own bed this evening…

It’s been a really full week here in Chicago. Three of the four presentations we’re involved in are now past — I  have one left that I am leading today — and one of them went well, the others not so much. That’s fodder for another post (or not). At any rate, it has been a good week here in Chicago:

  • We’ve been able to connect (or re-connect in some cases) with people we work with and rarely get to talk to face-to-face
  • A couple of very interesting sessions at the conference itself
  • Great weather, good food (had good deep-dish pizza at Gino’s East on Superior on Tuesday, and a pretty good filet at Shula’s steakhouse last night), and a pretty decent conference facility

Now if we can just make it out of O’Hare on time this afternoon. I was amazed at how quickly we got out of O’Hare when we came in Sunday evening (under 15 minutes between when we stepped off the plane and when the shuttle pulled away from the curb), but I think this will likely be a different story.

I am missing Deb, Li, and Ian. This post from Jeffrey Zeldman’s blog yesterday hit home; I just wonder if the postscript is a noun, a verb, or just an exclamation…

Travel Notes

I spent this past week in Washington, DC for work and I’m headed to San Francisco next week for a work-related conference. After only being gone once since we got home with Li, being gone two weeks in a row is tough (tough on Deb, too). The timing of the two trips was coincidental as well as bad, but I’d put off traveling to DC for a couple of requests, and had swapped with Jeff at work one, so it really couldn’t be avoided.

I found som good food in DC, which I still think is probably the best thing about getting to travel occasionally for work. In a wierd twist, it was Jeff — who used to be very reluctant to try different things to eat — that gave me the recommendation for the best place I ate this time in DC: Rasika, an Indian restaurant in the 600 block of D Street down just off the Mall. I also had very good Mexican with Cynthia and Temo on evening.

The trip to SF this next week is for a conference (Adobe’s MAX conference, actually). It will be good to get to soak up some technical stuff for a few days. The single most interesting thing to me will be to see if Adobe says anything about a long-rumored IDE for ColdFusion (likely to be Eclipse-based). Lots of indicators around, including hints from leading figures within the CF community at Adobe, and a strong silence from the developer of CFEclipse when questioned. The big question seems to be price for such an IDE, and as an open source advocate (personnally and at work), my hope is that such an effort would be both open and free, but I realize that from Adobe, that’s not likely.

Made it to Hong Kong

We’ve made it as far as Hong Kong, arriving around 8am this morning — it is Friday evening as I write this. The combination of the almost-16-hour plane ride from LA and the time change has left us pretty wiped out. We felt pretty decent until about an hour ago — late afternoon — when all of us just sort of ran out of gas.

After we got checked into our hotel this morning, we got out for a bit of a walk, which felt wonderful after spending so much time cooped up in airplanes yesterday. We’ll do a bit of sightseeing tomorrow (Saturday for us), and then take it easy and rest. We’ll get a pretty early start on Sunday, with our flight from Hong Kong to Nanchang in the morning and then we meet our daughter at some point in the afternoon.