This post is overdue, but since I’ll be visiting Chicago for a few weeks it seems fitting to finally do it. So without further delay, here we go!
I miss using my legs. Sure I get to use them when I go to the gym or play basketball, but to get from point A to point B there’s nothing as relaxing as walking – especially when you compare it to Southern California traffic!
Sure the winters are cold, but they can also be beautiful (especially since I worked from home ). It’s true what they say about appreciating the good seasons once you’ve been through some bad weather. As a native Californian, the only seasons I knew were from television and when we went up to the mountains to go skiing.
- Independent Restaurants
In the land of suburbia, it seems like there’s only a handful of restaurants: Buca di beppo, Chilis, Red Robin, etc etc. It’s tiring and unoriginal. In Chicago it’s practically effortless to try someplace new with some character. I had my best memories in Chicago when I was eating.
- Public Transportation & Cabs
California public transportation sucks. In the SF bay area, the BART ends around midnight. How is that useful? I love being able to hop on the el or grab a cab from almost anywhere in the city. Great for those nights when you want to have that extra beer or bottle of wine.
In California, theres a lot of a few ethnic groups whereas in Chicago it feels like theres a few of a lot of ethnic groups (if that makes any sense). And while they’re pretty segregated by the neighborhoods, it at least makes them easy to find. It’s easy to go from a greek festival to swedish diner and grab some pearl milk to in Chinatown in a matter of minutes whereas I can probably go for days and only see two different colors in California.
The city of Chicago is beautiful. The attention to detail and city planning effort really shows and it really makes it a joy to live in and look at from a distance. It’s especially nice when it’s a holiday or special event and all the downtown buildings light up different colors and messages.
- Happy Hours
Chicago sure love to drink and often. That’s all.
- Summer Festivals
Did I mention they like to drink? If you like to eat unhealthy food while stumbling around outside with a beer, then summer in Chicago is for you since you can do this every single weekend. There are some classier events like the orchestra, jazz and movies in the park too.
- City Works (landscaping, cleanliness)
Walking through Grant Park or down the Magnificent Mile is always amazing. How much do they spend on flowers every year?
- People Interaction
When you drive around everywhere like in CA you almost forget how to interact with strangers. You get sucked into your own world and don’t think you need to talk to anyone you don’t know. People say Californians are snobby and I believe it. I feel like you can just walk down the street in Chicago and talk to almost anyone. That gives me a warm feeling inside.
Enough rambling. I’m heading to Chicago on Sunday for a few weeks. Email me or leave a comment if you want to meet up!
If you haven’t heard yet, I recently moved back to Southern California (where I grew up) from Chicago for personal reasons. It was a very efficient 3 solo road trip.
- Day 1 (8 hours): I took a middle route heading down to Kansas City, MO to stay with my cousin Julie. Along the way, I noticed that Iowa and Missouri had free wifi at the rest stops! There it was on the signs next to vending machines. I didn’t try it out since I was on a schedule and didn’t want to get sucked into catching up on my RSS feeds. The day ended with a tasty frozen custard from Culver’s. If you don’t know what frozen custard is, just know that they love it in Kansas City as shown by this massive line for free custard (too long for us to wait).
- Day 2 (10 hours): I shot straight west to Vail, CO to stay with my friend Stan. While the drive through Kansas was pretty plain, it was surprisingly shooken up with a few short downpours. Vail was very nice and idyllic. Lots of greenery, beautiful mountains, and nice and quiet without all the tourists. Coolest thing in Vail is that they use roundabouts everywhere. There were barely any stop lights or stop signs – you can pretty much just constantly keep driving which is awesome. After getting a cramped foot from all the stop signs in So Cal, I’m wishing we could adopt some roundabouts. The other cool highlight on this route was going to the Sonic Drive-In. After seeing the commercials, I had to try it out (couldn’t find the actuals, but you can check this out for their resonse to the parodies).
- Day 3 (13 hours): Straight shot through Utah, Vegas, down to Irvine, CA. The southern part of Utah does not have much. There’s lots of pretty rock formations, but very very few rest stops. I think there was a stretch of 100 miles without one. That was painful. I did notice a cool billboard that played off the Vegas slogan (“What happens in Vegas, stays in vegas”) by saying something like “What happens in Utah, is fun for the whole family”. Cute huh? As soon as I hit NV, I enountered 100 degrees with wind (think of a giant blow dryer). At the Vegas city limits I saw another interesting Billboard – it was the 10 commandments. It was a bit hard to read them while driving on the freeway, but I guess there might be someone who see it and feels guilty enough to turn around and head back to Utah for family fun. Since my day was long enough, I opted not to stop in Vegas since you can’t really just “drop in” to Vegas. If I stopped, I would have ended up at the Bellagio buffet and then the blackjack tables for at least a few hours.
It wasn’t really a vacation, but it was nice to clear the mind for a few days. I’ve finally got my work environment setup in sunny OC and a decent routine down to keep me chugging on Menuism. It’s definitely nice to be on the same timezone as John.
More updates to come along with the to 10 things I’ll miss most about Chicago. If anyone is in Orange County and wants to meet up, shoot me an email.
I went to the NRA show 3 different days and my favorite was on Monday. That was the day when I gut suckered into one of the brands with the 1-2 punch of sizzling bacon and a free t-shirt…I’m an easy sell.
Punch 1) Beautifully lined up bacon. While I was taking a picture, the booth lady asked if I wanted a t-shirt. Of course, I said “yes”.
Punch 2) The Gusto shirt. If you can’t read it, it says: “Eat More Pork Be a Better Lover“.
What a cool shirt! I can’t believe she had them hiding under the table. She should have been handing them out to anyone who tried the bacon (although I didn’t try it since I was already stuffed). There were probably a dozen or so pork companies there all serving bacon, sausage and ham, but Gusto is the only one I remember because of their brand. They’re even getting some free publicity with this blog post. It takes more time and effort to brand creatively, but it’s worth it if people are going to remember you just a bit more than your competition.
If you haven’t seen my NRA show pics yet, I uploaded a few more to flickr.
BTW, if anyone knows where I can find that Chipotle pork song, let me know. You know, the one that goes “pork on the end of my fork…”
On Friday morning, I went to my first LikeMind coffee chat at the Intelligentsia on State/Randolph. There were 4 of us and coffee was paid for by Anomaly. I first heard about LikeMind from Mike Maddaloni’s The Hot Iron. In a nutshell, it’s a chance for like-minded people to get together once a month for coffee and conversation. Pretty straightforward. How do you know if you’re like-minded? I guess you won’t until you try going to one.
It was started in NY by Piers and Noah and is now in 25 different cities. As someone that works at home, it was a great opportunity to force myself out of the house early (although 8am is a bit early) to talk to people. It sounds similar to the Open Coffee Club, but I don’t think there’s one in Chicago yet and Open Coffee is more focused on startups whereas LikeMind seems to draw more creative types.
Here are a couple videos about it by 1938 Media.
Coming off the fun time we had at Tech Cocktail 4 last week, we’ve been following up with all the great contacts that we made at the event. One of the nicest guys we hooked up with at Tech Cocktail was Mike Carruth, founder of Digital Bootcamp, a Chicago training facility that offers courses for the aspiring online creative. We visited the Digital Bootcamp offices twice this past week, for very different reasons.
The first was due to pure luck – Digital Bootcamp’s demo was right next to ours at Tech Cocktail, so on a whim I entered their raffle, where you guess the number of Digital Bootcamp dogtags in a big mason jar. Who knew that jar could hold over 600 dogtags? I ended up with the closest guess, so over the weekend we visited Mike (while sporting my Menuism tee) to pick up my prize – a nifty iPod nano. Sweet!
If that was all there was to say about Digital Bootcamp, this would’ve been just a “yay-I-won-something” post, but it’s definitely not. Besides being a successful entrepreneur (DB’s going strong after 15 years), Mike hosts a monthly “Circle of Progress” Entrepreneur’s Meetup group, where entrepreneurs of all backgrounds meet to keep each other accountable. Justin and I attended last night and found it helpful. There usually aren’t many people around to keep an entrepreneur on track, so having a support group of some kind, structured or not, is critical to keeping things rolling. The “Circle of Progress” records member’s monthly commitments, so it’s easy to track what’s been accomplished or not, but the most valuable aspect is simply declaring publicly what you intend to do in the coming month and what you did and didn’t accomplish last month – peer pressure and public humiliation works wonders.
Justin and I have tried on and off to do something like this with our networks in Seattle and Chicago, and hopefully seeing what Mike’s done with this group will be the kick in the butt necessary to get something really going. Mike’s doing some neat stuff here in Chicago – if you get a chance drop by the DB offices and have him show you his neat auction purchases.
More on accountability to come!