3 Things I do Whenever I Visit Chicago

I’ve been to Chicago three times now. So I try to do these three things each time I go:

  1. Eat deep dish pizza
  2. Go to Shake Shack
  3. Go to White Castle

Yes, each one is food-oriented. As I grow older, food matters more to me. Unfortunately I don’t know if I’ll ever grow out of eating fast food or junk food.

Where do you go / what do you do when you’re in Chicago?

Repurposing Your Tech for Travel

Going Places

Traveling lightly is important to frequent travelers, and the easiest way to economize your luggage is to utilize the mobile tech you already own.

standardThink for a second. Your smartphone can replace a calendar, airline ticket, watch, music player, camera, video recorder, notebook, GPS/map, flashlight, book, and even a payment method (in some cases). Oh, and I suppose it works as a phone as well. Add apps and you’ll hold the world in the palm of your hand. Use Uber to get a ride to your hotel or Foursquare to find the greatest restaurants nearby. Top it off with Tripit to keep track of your itinerary.

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Days 17-18: The home stretch

Our final event was in Chicago’s Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower), which is the tallest building in the city. We were on the 99th floor and got passes to the Sky Deck! The view was awesome.

We had a lot of people this time around, and demoing services, presenting devices, and meeting with IT Pros went very well.

After the AM and PM events, I said goodbye to some of my managers/colleagues, and joined some MSFT folks in the Signature Lounge at the Hancock Tower, which is the second tallest building in the city. Apparently Jerry Springer lives in that building…? Some random person told us that, anyway…

This morning, I said goodbye to Ariel (or, rather, he woke me up as he was leaving so we could say goodbye) since he had an earlier flight than I.

I got up soon thereafter, and went to a delicious pizza place called PIzano’s and ate in the bar (getting a lemonade of course). I’m getting used to the whole, “Can I see your ID?” business…just wondering how long it will take before people stop asking. xP

Here are some final shots of the city I took during my walk around today (two of pictures are me doing a handstand on the Sky Deck from last night):

Because today isn’t over yet, I may edit this post and update it!

Days 14-16: Visiting Indy and Chicago

On Sunday morning, Whinnie and I woke up early (at the crack of dawn, basically) and ate at Mel’s Cafe for breakfast. A cab drive later, we said our goodbyes in the airport. Many tears were shed (actually none were, contrary to what Whinnie feared). We had a great time and saw a lot of the city in just a day. I hope we are able to visit each other again sometime. 🙂


(This was something I LOL’d at in Canada.)


Now, unfortunately, I didn’t have a direct flight to Indianapolis from Toronto… so my first destination was Chicago airport (which I would end up visiting later on, too). The flight was only about an hour or so, but when I landed and go to my next gate, I discovered my flight had been canceled and that I had been bumped onto a later flight….

What did that mean? I had to spend 4+ hours in an airport. So I watched the MLG stream of Super Smash Bros. Melee (which was very entertaining).

Finally, FINALLY we boarded (it was delayed, too, which meant more waiting) and flew. For 45 minutes. I could have driven up there in a fraction of the time. But wait, it gets better! When I landed, I had to wait twenty minutes for my bag to appear in the baggage claim! And after that, the taxi service was so inefficient that I had to wait another fifteen minutes in line until a taxi showed up! And then, even though the cab driver said he took credit cards, at the very end of the ride he discovered his card reader didn’t work. So I had to stop by an ATM and grab cash!

Needless to say, I was a bit frustrated at this point. But the room I had to myself at the hotel made up for it. SO. Much.

My room had a living room area, bathroom, kitchen, and lounging space. Whoa baby.

I slept comfortably that night. But it would be my third night in a row of getting 4.5 hours of sleep. Ohwell.gov.

The next morning, we had the AM event that was at a great venue in downtown Indianapolis. It was spacious and had great air conditioning (perfect for the warmer temperatures in Indy).

Because he found out I was in the area, Taylor Brazelton reached out to me via Twitter and asked if I was available to meet. So during my break, Taylor picked me up and showed me around downtown Indianapolis. It was great to finally meet him, since we’ve been following each other on Twitter for quite some time and have a shared passion for Microsoft and technology.

We went to Rocket Fizz which is a candy and soda shop first, and went to the mall in the area and hung out at his place. I ordered Chick-Fil-A for the first time! Taylor and I talked tech, life, and other things.

He was also able to go to the PM Surface event that day, which had an especially active, responsive audience. It was a great event.

Here are some of the pictures I drew with the Surface Pro 3, via the Pen, on OneNote.

Eventually Taylor and I had to say our goodbyes but it was great to meet him in person. Hopefully he can visit me in Seattle sometime!

WP_20140603_08_49_18_Pro cropped

Stephen (MSFT guy) met Ariel and I at our hotel and we began our drive to Chicago. After several hours of driving, he gave us a great tour of Chicago and bought us lunch at Al’s #1 Italian Beef which serves legendary Chicago-style beef, hot dogs, and more. Delicious!


I love this city so far. I want to explore it more for sure, so I might edit this blog post later with embellishments on the rest of the day’s activities.

Edit: So I have decided to do so.

Ariel and I explored downtown Chicago. There was a large amount of people near Cloud Gate (location of The Bean) because some band I didn’t know was playing. Here are some pictures!

Then I met up with Destiny and a few other folks for dinner at David Bruke’s Primehouse. Fantastic place!

Tomorrow is the final event of the series for me. I’m excited but saddened at the same time. There are supposed to be a lot of people at this event – should be great!

Days 11-13: Oh, Canada! (Sorry, I just had to)

LA’s event was a good one, I got an opportunity to create some Surface Pro 3 art:


Maybe I’ll post more of what I drew later. 🙂

The next day I got up early (incredible early…) and got to the airport. Ariel and I were about three hours early to our respective flights. So I watched a movie on Netflix to pass the time.

I went on to Air Canada because my next stop was Toronto, Ontario! I decided to go visit my friend Whinnie, because I’d never been able to meet her in person before!

So going through customs was interesting…because I had to explain to the officer that I was going to Canada to visit a friend, who I had met online, specifically Twitter, and was a fellow Sonic the Hedgehog fan…yeah, anyway, luckily he told me that he’s heard much weirder stories before.

So eventually I got to the lobby of the airport, and met up with Whinnie! Since I’ve known her (about two years or so) this was the first time we were able to meet in person.


So that evening she introduced me to one of her roommates, recommended a Chinese restaurant for dinner, and showed me around her university, UW (not University of Washington, University of Waterloo. Apparently the two get confused sometimes).

The next morning, we hopped on a buss and headed to downtown Toronto. Whinnie had a planned list of things to do there, so we went to the CN Tower (which until 2010 was the tallest building in the world),  Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and to Eaton Mall. The view from the tower was breathtaking! There were also glass floors that we could look down through and see to the bottom. We also embarked on an exciting motion ride that had seemingly nothing to do with the tower, or Canada, or…much else. But it was fun nonetheless! Then we went to the aquarium which was very impressive. We probably spent like an hour and a half there! Here are some of the pictures below.

We spent the whole day down there, and it was so much fun! Getting ready for sleep now, because I have yet another flight to catch tomorrow…

Days 9-10: San Fran event, meetup, and LA!

Yesterday’s event at San Francisco was great. I really do enjoy presenting Surface Pro 3 and Windows Phone 8.1 Preview. There’s something especially fulfilling for me when I answer people’s questions and/or show off features of the device.

While taking notes during the Q&A sessions, I decided to try my hand at drawing something on the Pro 3. Here’s a snippet of something I tried:

OneNote Peak

It was surprisingly easy to draw this with the advanced tech of the Pro 3. My wrist wrested perfectly against the screen as I drew and didn’t interfere with my drawing at all.

The next day, I finally was able to sleep in. Some friends of mine from Twitter, Edwin Rodriguez-Duplesis and Shawn Jackson, live near the area so Ariel and I met up with them around noon or so and explored China town and a few other places in the San Francisco area.

We got into a plane to LA, and this was a great flight because I was the only passenger in the plane that had an empty seat next adjacent to me. LEG ROOM! I was able to upgrade myself to a window seat, nonetheless.


I was able to use my Lumia 1020’s 1080p video capture to record both the take-off and landing out of the window. Maybe I’ll upload it to YouTube when I get back home!

In the meantime, I have another event to prepare for! Signing off.


Days 5-8: San Diego and San Francisco

I spent the weekend (days 5-7) in San Diego and took a bit of a vacation. Here are some pictures!

It was good taking a break. I left San Diego this morning and met Ariel in the San Francisco airport around noon, checked in to our hotel (with an outstanding view from my room), and we immediately set off to find a place to eat.


After we ate at this neato pizza place, we ventured to Lombard St, “The Crookedest Street in the World.” It had a lot of people taking pictures and a lot of traffic going through.

Then we walked around some of the docking areas and saw a bunch of sea lions barking and flopping around. We saw street performers, magicians, and a bunch of other people. Then we walked probably a good three miles or so to Golden Gate Bridge. Got some good pictures including some sunset shots!

Miles the Monkey gets an honorable mention (last photo), as he was a trooper for the entire trip and didn’t complain once.

After all of today’s walking, we decided to grab a cab to get back to the hotel…Time to get some sleep so I can wake up early tomorrow.

Day 4: Presenting in Atlanta!

The Surface Pro 3 is an outstanding device.

Here are some pictures of me holding it at one of the Surface events in Atlanta today.

We had two more events today! Getting the process down even better for events and presenting.

I’ll make it easy for you: do you want to purchase the Surface Pro ? Yes. You do.

Had an especially fun time today repping Windows Phone and showing folks how Cortana worked in 8.1 Preview and the like. Someone asked me in passing if I really liked my Nokia phone. He looked at me skeptically and said, “and, seriously, all biases aside.” I told him that my love for Windows Phone was literally the reason I was there. The devices I had were mine, no one elses, and I’ve been a fan for years. He seemed convinced.

Also getting to know my team members more. Love working in this environment, with these people, with these devices.

Tomorrow I’m off to California for the weekend, and then into the week!

Day 3: Arriving in Atlanta

Today’s will be brief…went to Johnny’s Luncheon for breakfast in NY (great little place) and met up with Ariel to embark to our next destination: Atlanta!

We had dinner with a group of Microsofties and it was delicious…but took a while to get there.

And by take a while, I mean now it’s 11pm. OK well it wasn’t that bad.

Gotta be up early for what I’m doing tomorrow. Signing off.

Edit: Pictures!

Day 2: Surface Event Day!

As you all know, today Microsoft unveiled the Surface Pro 3. This thing is a beast. It essentially is the official “laptop replacement” tablet. You can read all about it here if you’re curious.

I was involved in one of the Surface events today in NY. I had the pleasure of meeting Destiny, the rest of my team of three, as well as many other Microsoft people including the other team of presenters.

I was at one of the events, and it was fun. 🙂

But now my feet hurt because I think the dress shoes I wore were too small. Oh well. The sacrifices you make for quality work.

Planning on sleeping tomorrow – we’ll see.

Here I will share my experiences of travel across the world.