Storm season, 2013 edition

Just over a week ago, the U.S. Northeast was hit by a blizzard after a relatively mild winter so far. “Nemo,” as some dubbed it, dumped about two feet of snow on Boston between 8 and 9 February 2013. Fortunately, we had ample warning, and Janice and I were able to work from home on that Friday.

Found Nemo
Clearing up after February blizzard

It took several rounds of shoveling to clear our patio and cars, especially since Janice’s car got buried in the 12-foot-tall pile at the end of a row in our apartment complex’s parking lot. Still, hardy New Englanders were back to work on the following Monday, even if my face-to-face tabletop role-playing game was postponed again because of narrowed roads and difficulty getting quorum.

On Friday, 15 February 2013, Janice and I traveled to Chicago for the wedding of a daughter of one of my maternal cousins. We had visited them a few years ago. At Logan Airport, we had breakfast at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Janice and I had an uneventful flight, picked up our rental car, and checked into the Hyatt Place in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

We then joined my parents and my brother’s family for a filling lunch at the Lucky Monk brewpub. After a brief rest (since large gatherings usually involve eating), we went to Margie & Joe’s wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner at Bankok House & Shanghai Restaurant in downtown Elgin, Ill.

The next morning, I watched cartoons with my brother and nieces, who also follow the strong but underrated lineup of Young Justice, Green Lantern: the Animated Series, and Star Wars: Clone Wars. We returned to Lou Malnati’s for proper deep-dish pizza.

My second cousin’s wedding was conducted at the Highland Church of the Brethren. The groom’s step-grandmother officiated at a ceremony that Margie & Joe designed themselves, gathering a diverse set of traditions. The reception was held at the Seville, a large hall that can apparently host several such celebrations simultaneously.

We ate, conversed with fellow guests and family members, and danced (even if we didn’t join the younger folks for “Gagnam Style“). The partying went on late into the evening, and a good time was had by all in Chicago. I’ll try to share some photos when they get uploaded.

Our return to Boston was delayed by only an hour by the latest snow. I finished reading Redshirts, which I enjoyed — it’s similar to the movie Galaxy Quest as a loving riff on Star Trek, but it was a little meta for my taste. On the way home, Janice and I got sandwiches at Charcoal Guido’s, a new eatery on Moody Street in Waltham, Mass., for “linner” (lunch+dinner).

After a few weeks’ interruption, the games resumed last night with Jason’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars.” I’ll try to post an update for the planetary romance session soon.

Tonight, I’m meeting some former co-workers for dinner at Little India and the latest “Escapists” book club meeting. We’ll be discussing the magical realist graphic novel Daytripper, which I enjoyed. So much to do, so little time!

Back to Chicago

Chicago Skyline by r_seaman@hotmail.com
Chicago skyline

This past week, I helped TT’s events staff with BriForum Chicago 2011 at McCormick Place. I didn’t have much time for sightseeing, but since I had visited the windy city twice before within the past year, I can’t complain! I began reading China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, an evocative urban fantasy, on the flight from Boston.

The virtualization conference went smoothly, and it was a good opportunity to serve alongside Alex H. and co-workers outside of the editorial department. I helped stuff welcome packets, introduced speakers, managed one of the breakout rooms, and gathered session evaluations.

Since we had good wireless connectivity this year, I was able to check in with the Newton home office more often, which rewarded me with more work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet my cousin’s family, since she was visiting the Philippines.

The days were long but fulfilling, from setting up rooms at 7:00 a.m. to dinner and other events in the early evening. On Monday night, Alex and I tried to go to the Meatloaf Bakery, which I had seen on television, but it was closed. So we had a good falafel dinner instead at Sultan’s Market, followed by decadent desserts at the Austrian Bakery.

After a hike through hot and humid weather to the train from Chicago’s Near South Side to the more upscale Lincoln Park, we took a cab back to the Hyatt Regency hotel. The next night, we went to a vendor-sponsored event at the Howl at the Moon piano bar, near the famous Billy Goat Tavern. I tried a Goose Island Honker’s Ale (although I preferred the Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter at the Yard House in Dedham, Massachusetts).

I returned to my hotel room on one of the earlier buses because of work, but I made up for the lack of socializing the next evening after grabbing a leftover sandwich from the North Shore Kosher Bakery. Alex and I joined Jackie H., Peter D., and Tom K.T. for more food and drink at Kroll’s South Loop and the M/X at our hotel. Among other things, I had a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale and a Dark Horse Black Bier.

I’ve learned a lot about office politics in the past year, and the remainder of the show went smoothly. We endured a sweltering cab ride on the way to O’Hare Airport, and I had to find my way home after midnight after getting to my car in a parking lot near Logan Airport. I’ve spent the past few days catching up on summer TV such as Warehouse 13, Leverage, White Collar, and Torchwood: Miracle Day.

Coming soon: More movie reviews and Comic-Con reflections!