Remember how there was going to be that trip to Seattle? Well, that was all about the Microsoft “accelerator” program they had going on – wherein a ‘start-up company’ is ‘accelerated’ towards being a ‘full-fledged company’; this is ridiculously important stuff for anyone who wants to run a successful business. TechStars runs several programs like this. The business didn’t make it into the Seattle one, but we DID make it into the Chicago one!
For the Seattle trip we were gonna move the whole family to Seattle. Mostly because, hey, Seattle! It could possibly be considered a good thing that we didn’t make it into that program, because I’m not sure I could actually have worked there. A standard day at work for me requires at least two IP addresses on different networks. I assumed that they’d be able to accommodate whatever my technical requirements were, but within the first week there was a memo about how anyone who didn’t absolutely need an IP address (as in, one) had to get off the network because they didn’t have enough available to meet demand. So I stayed here, working in the lab, while the CEO went to Chicago.
Which is fine. It would’ve been totally cool to work with all the other people who got into the program, no doubt about that, but I also like being able to go home after work. Not being able to actually work while there kinda made that decision for us.
Point being, after 3 solid months of accelerator program it was time to present our newly renovated company to potential investors! This is the all-important “Demo Day”. For this day, I went to Chicago.
What this meant was a 1.5 hour flight; during which I got to watch half of Oblivion, nice bonus! I try to make sure I never pay to see a Tom Cruise movie, because then I always feel ripped off. But I really like good sci-fi. So it takes interesting circumstances like this to get in a nice bit of Tom Cruise sci-fi. As I’d hoped, it was an enjoyable movie even though he was in it.
Landing in Chicago there were all sorts of options for how to proceed, but the Blue Line pretty much exists to take you from O’Hare to downtown Chicago. By the looks of it, all the other options are for suckers. Here’s some interesting tidbits though:
1) A train pass is the same thing as a Toronto subway fare. It’s just that it’s a card. Good for one ride. You buy the card, you carry the card 10′ to the machine, and give it to the machine. The machine removes the single fare from it and gives it back to you and lets you go through the turnstile. Am I too Canadian, or does this seem ostentatiously wasteful?
2) The card costs $5 if you buy it at the airport. It costs about $2.25 if you buy it anywhere else. This is brilliant. Talk about charging those who can afford it best! You can spend $70 on a taxi, or $5 on a train pass. And the train will get you there quicker. If you’re strapped and know the CTA, you can buy the pass beforehand anywhere else and save yourself the $2.75 if that’s important to you. Eventually Toronto will get on board with this idea. Maybe next century.
3) A subway car looks the same everywhere apparently. The vast majority of it could’ve been the TTC and I’d be hard pressed to know. Sure, it’s blue instead of maroon. And it’s the older equipment that the TTC is slowly phasing out. But, transit car is transit car.
Do you see that route map at the top of the door? See that colourful area? That’s where I was headed. Downtown. There’s a reason the stop is so colourful though:
SIX subway lines intersect there! Yeah, six. Out of EIGHT. Jesus. This is what a transit system is supposed to be like. It’s always open, and it goes everywhere. Sure, there are vagrants. Yeah, I stepped in a puddle of vomit. It reminded me a lot of riding the Scarborough RT. All it needed was a couple girls talking about how skanky they are. But look at this system! The TTC can just wet itself. I guess I can mark it up to how they’ve got just so many more people. And their country is older. But really it’s just jealousy. Really makes the TTC look weak. I mean; we’ve got, what, three lines? Four if you count University and Yonge as different. Five if you count Bloor and the Scarborough RT as different. But that’s a lot of reaching. We’ve got the beginning of a subway system. They’ve got an adult transit system. The difference shows.
In summation, the first and last thing I saw in Chicago was the CTA. And it definitely left an impression. Well done Chicago, well done.