Pithering in Portland (part 7)

April 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

A busier week than most. The working week was cut short (although some days were much longer than others) because I’d arranged to head over to Chicago. It’s a “home-office day” aka a “mini away day” for ThoughtWorks. Essentially I get to travel over to one of the offices and meet other folks from the company, to hear our chairman say his thing, and to hear what my fellow developers have to say on the subject of developing software.

I missed the first part of Roy’s speech because the night before I’d arrived in the city in a somewhat exuberant fashion, eager to get cracking on the city’s nightlife scene. After an hour and a half sitting in horrendous traffic from the airport to the hotel, and then for what seemed like an eternity getting Lotus Notes to agree to open up an email of where my company’s party was, and after a brief stint of getting lost, and a verbose exchange with the doorman who wouldn’t let me in because I’d left my passport back at the hotel, I finally managed to make it in to a trendy underground venue which promised to serve up free booze and great conversation. I met lots of new people and a couple of old friends from times gone by.

The next day I woke up with a bit of a sore head, and a feeling of revulsion when I looked over the side of the bed and saw a giant, mostly uneaten delivery pizza on the floor covered in ants. Hmm. I’ve now learnt good and proper that alcohol measures in the US are a lot stronger than in the UK; best to avoid the G & Ts that lack the T.

Anyway the mini-away day was good, I enjoyed some of the sessions that gave me a chance to learn what ThoughtWorks studios were up to. Dennis Bryne from my ThoughtWorks immersion days gave a good insight into Erlang. All interesting stuff. In the evening I felt strangely rejuvenated, and after accosting our chairman Roy with my theory of how we ought to have general elections once a year – during which as a fellow idealist he was very receptive and helpful – I wanted to hit Chicago’s nightlife again. How could you not want to, when it’s this beautiful?

chicago night

It looks even more fantastic in real life. With a couple of colleagues, we hit a snazzy little restaurant:


and I picked up a truly American proportioned steak:


After we hit a jazz bar and had a couple of cocktails. I had a fun time hanging out with a couple of colleagues soaking up the atmosphere. Before long I realised it was getting late and so made my way back to the hotel, stopping along the way to take another picture:

chicago night2

The next day I woke up determined to make the most out of a day in Chicago, before my flight was due to take off at 8pm. I hit the ThoughtWorks office, which is vastly superior to the UK one. For the hell of it I sat in on a couple of interviews during a “super saturday”; a big recruitment drive. Then I embarked on a river cruise – an ‘architectural tour’ of Chicago.

sky scrapers 2

Chicago’s skyline has a similar history to that of Seattle in that it was first built with wood before a big fire came and levelled it to the ground. Chicago then proceeded to invent the sky-scraper, and they’ve never stopped building them since. During the tour we road along a couple of rivers that cut through the city’s centre and learnt about the evolution of these buildings from Gothic, Art-deco, ‘Modern’ and now postmodernism. It was good to get an appreciation.

trump tower

Trump’s new tower.


Some buildings are older than others…

sears tower

That big-un is America’s biggest tower, the sears tower. It lost the crown as the worlds biggest and is now third. There is another one being built in Chicago though – The Spiral – which will be over 2000 feet (the Sears is around 1300). It’s a pity though that there are pesky people in Dubai who are building the world’s tallest at 2300.

After the tour I made my way over to check out one of Chicago’s suburbs – Lincoln Park – which was very nice. Then I got my flight home, picked up my funky-ass red car (did I mention it has a sun-roof?) and then woke up the next day in trendy Portland.

  • Shirley McIntyre

    Brilliant skylines. Me thinks you are having too good a time over there. Sooner we get you back to little old England the better! lots of love from mum and AJM and Nan

  • Sarnacke

    It was nice to meet you on Thursday night! Just wanted to point out that Lincoln Park is just one of Chicago’s neighborhoods an not a suburb. No local government or anything. Glad you had a good time!

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