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ISTE2018 Chapter 1--Extra-Conference Fun

Starting this on the plane on the way home from what I am currently feeling is my best ISTE ever. Because of that, I believe I will just blog a sentence or two about my best experiences at this best event. So. The first installment will mainly focus on my take on the Windy City and things that I did on this trip outside the realm of ISTE, what I'm calling "Extra-Conference Fun." Don't get me wrong, there's lots to talk about from the conference. If I try to get it down in one post, it'd be book length, so I intend to split it up. Let’s get started.


I had never really been to Chi-town, and wow, was I wowed. I booked our hotel room months prior using (“our” refers to the estimable Andy Wheelock, a brother-from-another-mother and my partner in VEN antics and accomplishments) and I had been intrigued by the historic nature of the Congress Plaza Hotel, and it all worked out extraordinarily well. With very few exceptions, everywhere in this vibrant city that I went I was cordially greeted and well-served. I begin by listing topics and will come back and fill in. Wish me luck.

Chicago 360 & TILT

A while back, my good friend Dr. Helen Crompton responded to my Facebook post about TILT with a challenge. I of course accepted, because who wouldn’t lean 45 degrees out of a 94th story window to spend an hour with Helen? Here’s a Chicago Tribune news story about the attraction and here are a few pics:

photo: Dr. Helen Crompton

photo: Dr. Helen Crompton

Congress Plaza Hotel haunted. I didn't have any experiences my first two nights, but Sunday night, when Andy had arrived, we'd popped out to South Loop Pub for a sandwich and a beer (thanks, Mave, for the friendly service and for being our first of many Irish servers in Chicago) and retired. We slept soundly, but sometime during the night the toilet flushed. It wasn't Andy and it wasn't me, so our only logical conclusion is that the haunt had to go potty. Or maybe it was that gangster who was drowned in a different toilet in the hotel. Built in 1893, it's loaded with history and by gum, despite some cosmetic update needs, we enjoyed staying there. I booked 'way early through, and we enjoyed a rate that was around half of the standard one! I'm just making it up about the drowned gangster.


I discovered DIvvY (clever spelling with the two v's lower case emphasizing the DYI) after I had done several Lyfts and immediately after my first one in prime time--EXPENSIVE!) and it both saved my wallet and supported my efforts to lose weight. I had lost around 8 pounds with a new daily workout regimen prior to hitting Chicago and though I gained most of it back #eatingChicago it would have been much worse if I hadn't converted some of that fine food to leg muscle with DIvvY. Bike racks are all over the place and at $15 +tax one can hop on a 3 speed bike and just GO, with unlimited 3 hour rides. Convenience, ease of use, and fun=10 of 10. There was one glitchy day my last one when the nearest bike rack was full and the ensuing efforts to grab a bike frustrated my efforts to get to the conference center for my Volunteer shift (I never made it and was excused but I did get to keep the cool deep purple teeshirt). The app tells you where the racks are and how many bikes are there, but it doesn't update that number often enough and I passed up the nearest rack which was full but down/offline/locked to hit the next two which showed two and four bikes respectively but were empty when I got there. Fix that, DIvvy! 


Lyft was my go-to "I'm running late and I need to get there as fast as I can" tool. The drivers were almost uniformly friendly and capable. And Andy and I were easily able to hit the "Share" button on the app so we kept our 50/50 deal alive and well easily.


Best. Breakfast. Ever. Great service from Sophia, and we ordered identical breakfasts. Unless your dietary inclinations forbid, don’t pass up the following, scarfed from the breakfast menu online.
CORNED BEEF HASH & EGGS House made corned beef, seasoned potatoes, green pepper and onion. Two eggs any style. Toast, pancakes or english muffin.|14breakfast. 

Awesome! Go Yolk!

Buddy Guy's Legends
If I had to pick my favorite "non-curricular" event of the conference it may be a tie, but the tie would be broken by a signed first-day-of-release vinyl album and a picture with the man himself. Andy and Mary and I had just popped in for a beer at the bar and, being poor teachers, were inclined to balk at the ten dollar cover charge, though we paid up and found three of the only very few seats left in the house. Tables were full and we had the clear intuition that something was going on in the club: full tables on Monday night? It was announced that it was "Jam Night" and the band onstage commenced to hammering out some right fabulous blues. A bit later on it was announced that the 82 year-old Buddy was at the bar. We all turned and saw him, sitting quietly with a small entourage around him, dressed snazzily in a black shirt and white pants. The announcer also said that his new album "Buddy Guy: The Blues is Alive and Well," had dropped today and was available for purchase on vinyl and CD at the cashier stand. I stood up, walked over, and purchased the vinyl, a heavy gauge double record set with a simple design featuring full cover photographs of Buddy on each face. While I was paying the cashier, a man behind the counter ripped off the shrink wrap and grabbed a sharpy then walked over to the bar and Buddy signed it! I honestly think I bought the first copy sold at Buddy Guy Legends! A few minutes later Mary grabbed my hand and walked me over to approach Buddy Guy. "You have a big fan here, Mr. Guy, would you let me take your picture with him?" That happened. Thank you, Mary!!! Here's the proof:

Buckminster Fountain
My first day in Chicago, my first "wake up in Chicago" day, the weather was so gorgeous I decided to bike around South Loop, enjoying the lovely gardens, the paved bike trails, the wholly beautiful lakeshore, and Buckminster Fountain. Donated to the city and fired up in 1927, it is a memorial to Clarence F. Buckingham by his philanthropist sister, and it is recognized as one of the largest memorial fountains in the world. I took a 3D image on my iphone with the Occipital3D app and, despite some missing patches it turned out pretty well:

Visit for the 3D version
The Bean
I had heard about it, had made foiled plans to visit it with a colleague, and I had to see it up close. I biked over up the bike trail north then cut underneath a dark overpass to get to Cloud Park where the Bean resides. Once there, after a couple failed attempts, I had a decent Facebook Live 2 minute video. Watch ...

I think the Bean is a great place to leave off. Next episode I will focus on the fantastic conference itself.

Quickjumps: Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4


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