Archive for the ' Chicagoland' Category

Chicagoland & its beaches

Monday, August 11th, 2008

People don’t think of Chicagoland as a bunch of beach towns. It’s common for people to be surprised when I tell them that I live just a few blocks from the beach, one where I actually go to relax and swim (well, more play in the water than swim). Indeed. In the summer (and late Spring/early Fall depending on the weather), Evanston has the perfect beaches. I guess it depends on your preferences, but if you dislike saltwater and sharks then these beaches work very well. Sand, comfy temperature fresh water, all just minutes from where I live. Here are some photos I’ve taken recently. (In case you’re wondering where all the people are in these pictures, I often purposefully try to leave them out since I prefer the calm of the place. But in the past I’ve also taken shots that show the more public nature of these places.)

If you’d like to view the originals (these are cropped photos) then click on the links below the collage. Clicking on this image will simply take you to the Flickr page with this same collage where you’ll still then have to click on the separate links to see the individual images.

Collage of beach photos

1. Feet, 2. Waves on Lake Michigan, 3. Wet sand, 4. Windy beach, 5. Evening on the beach, 6. Enjoying an hour at the beach

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.

Weather icons

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Just to clarify, this is not a complaint about Forecastfox since i think it’s a great Firefox extension. In fact, it’s probably one of the most useful ones I know and I highly recommend it. This is just an observation.

The icons in my browser this morning were the following:

Evanston weather

(For those not familiar with the extension: the “Sun” to the right refers to Sunday.}

You don’t need to know the Fahrenheit equivalents for the point of my post, but just in case you’re curious: -21C tranlsates to about -6F and -10C is about 14F. (Thanks to the Fahrenheit to Celsius Converter for that.)

What I find amusing about the above icons is that the -21C comes with a sun whereas the considerably warmer temperature of -10C has the “bitterly cold” icy icon attached to it. Granted, it is sunny out and as long as you can look out from a warm building, it’s outright pretty.* In fact, yesterday (with very similar weather) I was reaching for my sun glasses while driving. But still, it’s funny to see those icons allocated as such.

* Maybe it’s wrong to assume that the temperature of one’s immediate surroundings influences one’s perception of a scenery, but I have a hunch that if it was freezing cold inside I wouldn’t appreciate the sunny view as much.

Backfence in my backyard

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

This one doesn’t qualify as a random thought, this is just random period. Alternative, I’m missing something very obvious.

Backfence is a host for neighborhood Web sites. Of all the places in the US they seem to operate in thirteen towns for now:

Notice anything interesting about that list? At least interesting if you were me?


I’ll give you a moment. (This will only work for people who know me somewhat.)




Both Evanston, IL and Palo Alto, CA are on the list. What are the chances?

Record-setting snow

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Snow sets record I have no idea why I’m smiling in that photo. There was not much fun about the scene. The Chicago area saw record-setting weather yesterday. Apparently this is the earliest measurable snow since snow has been measured in the city. Yikes. Thursday’s snow beat the record by six days! It’s not as though I wasn’t already very happy in California, but I guess the weather thought I needed more reminding of why I should just stay put and enjoy the sunny and warm days.


Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

I am hiring for a full-time staff position in my research group. Details are below. If you know of someone in the Chicagoland area who may be interested (or someone somewhere else who’d be up for moving to the area), please let them know about this opportunity. Or if you can think of relevant mailing lists, please let me know. (I’ve posted it on air-l and CITASA. I’ve put an ad on Craig’s List Chicago and on Salon Jobs. And I’ve sent a note to a bunch of people I know both in Chicagoland and elsewhere. I welcome suggestions for additional ways of publicizing it though. For now I’m holding off on posting it on Thanks!

The Web Use Project, a social science research group at Northwestern University, is looking for a full-time Project Coordinator. The Project Coordinator will work closely with Professor Eszter Hargittai, her graduate students and undergraduate students in coordinating, overseeing and administering research studies on young people’s Internet uses. See for more information about the research group and for more information about Prof. Eszter Hargittai’s work.

*Responsibilities: Coordinate the day-to-day activities for research projects; Recruit, hire, and oversee the management of undergraduate research assistants; Schedule the use of lab space for lab members and research activities; Manage Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions; Coordinate with off-site project consultants; Organize scheduling of data collection; Oversee and administer data collection; Interview study participants; Conduct training sessions; Manage research databases and locked data cabinets; Manage the security and use of equipment; Ensure conformity to research group policies and perform other related duties as assigned.

*Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Communication, Sociology, Social Policy, Human Development, Education, Psychology, or a related field; 1-3 years of work experience; Strong organizational skills; Strong written and verbal communication skills; Excellent interpersonal skills; Strong problem solving and analytical skills; Ability to work in a professional manner as both a self-starter and a team member; Intermediate-Advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); and Intermediate-Advanced skills in using Web interfaces.

*Desired Qualifications: Master’s degree in Communication, Sociology, Social Policy, Human Development, Education, Psychology, or a related field; 3+ years of social science research experience; Project management; Advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); Experience with quantitative data; Experience with public speaking; Skills in use of Stata.

*Salary: between $35,000-$38,000 (based on experience) plus benefits

This position is scheduled to end after one year; based on availability of funds and satisfactory performance it may be renewed for a second year.

Please send cover letter, resume and reference contact information to Eszter Hargittai at You must also submit your application through the Northwestern eRecruit system:
This is position #10572.

Keywords: research, project coordinator, Communication, Sociology, Education, lab manager

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer. Members of historically underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

A shout-out to my Acura dealership

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Car buying is usually a pretty stressful process. I went through it last December and January. I didn’t realize I hadn’t blogged about it, but it looks like I hadn’t. (I did post some photos of my new car on the companion of this blog, my Flickr account.) In sum, the process ended up being just fine and I came away happy with the outcome.
I am now at the McGrath Acura Dealership in Morton Grove, Illinois where I bought my wonderful car. There is nothing wrong with the vehicle, there never has been, I just brought it in for a check-up before my long drive out to California soon. I figured I’d get an oil change as well. It turns out that the first one after the purchase of a new vehicle is free. That’s nice. So is the full check, and the car wash, too, of course. (I knew that, I’ve taken advantage of that a few times already.)

An additional perk of sitting in the comfy waiting area sipping hot chocolate is that it turns out they have free wireless here. Who knew. I brought my laptop to do some work, but I wasn’t expecting to be able to go online. Nice.

In general, I’ve had great experiences with McGrath Acura, so if anyone in Chicagoland is reading this, take note. (And if you decide to go and buy a vehicle at this dealership, be sure to mention me as a referral so I can get the referral bonus.:)

One more point: the Acura RSX is a really great car, and much more affordable than most other Acura models, fwiw.

Evanston sunrise

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

I live in such a beautiful place.:) (And yes, I know I posted an entry with the same title a year and a half ago. What can I say, the beauty remains.)

Evanston sunrise Evanston sunrise Evanston sunrise Evanston sunrise


Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Dan Drezner, Eszter Hargittai and Sean Carroll at WGN

As soon as Milt Rosenberg mentioned the word “bloguest” (“blogguest”?) he recanted. But that did not stop us from bringing it up a few more times during his show. As Henry kindly mentioned yesterday, I was on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 radio show last night with Dan Drezner (blog) and Sean Carroll (group blog). It was fun. I don’t think they make it available online in archives so I am afraid it is not possible to listen to it at this point.

[UPDATE: It turns out I misunderstood. It wasn’t “bloguests”, it was “blogessors”. Hmm…]

We discussed all sorts of topics starting with an explanation of what blogs are to blogs and politics, the role of blogs in academia and the risks of blogging about certain issues. At times the conversation went a bit off topic (e.g. when Milt asked Sean whether there are multiple universes), but for the most part we talked about blogs and blogging.

Some of the call-in questions had to do with how people can find certain types of content (e.g. blogs on particular topics). Needless to say I see this linking in nicely with my research on user skill differences. There are lots of users out there who don’t know that much about how one finds various types of content or how one navigates certain online services (e.g. RSS feeds). It is too easy to assume evryone is as savvy as you are, but that is often the wrong assumption.

Thanks to Milt for hosting us and providing interesting questions. Thanks also to Maggie Berndt, producer of the show, for all her work on it.

I have posted some pictures taken during the commercial breaks and after the show.


Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

originally uploaded by eszter.

I exited my building unusually early this morning at 6:30am. The first sight: snow-covered cars. Oy. There isn’t much of it so it may not be around by late morning. And to be sure, it’s actually quite warm. But it was still a reality check. Welcome to winter. It is definitely time that I get my car situation in order. Waiting for the bus is looking less and less appealing.

Any suggestions for negotiating car prices from a dealer?:)

What were they thinking?

Thursday, September 8th, 2005

They weren’t. Or they certainly weren’t thinking about anybody else.

At 4:58am this morning I heard a very loud bang. Then I heard another. Then I heard a whole series of them. By the third I decided to get up. I saw small fireworks a few blocks away. Who decides to set off fireworks in the middle of a densely-populated residential area at 5am?!

Lego Lady

Monday, August 8th, 2005
Socializing with Lego Lady

Socializing with Lego Lady,
originally uploaded by eszter.

I loved playing with legos when I was a kid. I remember constructing an entire town with my brother one time. It was super fun.

Most toy stores in the US that carry legos usually sell complicated preconstructed elements. My interest has always been in starting from scratch with the very simple little bricks.

I finally found a lego store that I thought would have the basic bricks. I walked into the store enthusiastically. The store clerk who greeted me started with a simple question: “What age is the child?”. Ouch. Now how is that a good marketing plan? If I had been any less confident about my legitimate lego interest I would have turned around or had pretended I was shopping for a kid. Instead I just raised my arm and pointed my index finger at me. Then I asked for the basic bricks section.

In this same mall – located on Michigan Ave aka Magnificent Mile section in Chicago – is this lego lady at the West end of the third floor. There’s a guy on the east end of the second floor near the store itself. I wonder if I’ll find any others during my next visit.

Baha’i Temple photos

Saturday, August 6th, 2005
There is one Baha’i Temple on each continent. The one in North America happens to be just a few minutes away from where I live. I take most of my visitors there at some point. I usually don’t tell them where we are going, I just say it’s a surprise. We start driving north and suddenly a magnificent structure appears to the left of the road. Yesterday I visited again and took some photos, which I have posted on the photo-sharing site flickr. This one is my favorite. The sky was quite beautiful last night. (Note that I don’t use Photoshop to alter the colors in my photos. I sometimes crop although I didn’t in this case. If I do use Photoshop to change contrast or brightness I make a note of it. Otherwise, everything is shown au naturel.) Baha'i Temple, Wilmette at sunset

Chicago restaurant: Paprikash

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

So far I’ve only managed to find one Hungarian restaurant in Chicagoland: Paprikash. It’s not in my neighborhood, but regardless, I’ve made the drive several times already as their cooking is so authentic and good. They have come in at second place on Chicago CitySearch’s Fine Dining list. I’m not sure what the “fine dining” category is supposed to cover. I can certainly think of much more elegant places to eat (as per decor and service), but the food is hard to beat. The staff is friendly and accomodating albeit at times a bit slow, but hey, that’s the Hungarian restaurant experience for you. You can also try out your Hungarian as several staff members speak it, not to mention the other guests. The fact that there are so many Hungarians who visit this restaurant says something about it authenticity and the quality of the food. The live Hungarian and Gypsy music also adds something to the atmosphere. It’s located at 5210 W. Diversey (at Laramie), do try it sometime.

Evanston restaurant reviews

Thursday, June 9th, 2005

Although I still have plans of writing up my experiences with various Evanston restaurants, I found a guide hosted by the Northwestern Associated Student Government with a list of reviews that is worth a pointer. They also cover places in the area past city limits such as the Pita Inn in Skokie. (My recommendation regarding the Pita Inn is similar to theirs, it’s great. You will likely have to wait in line, but given the price and the quality of the food, a little wait (5-10 mins) is definitely worth it.)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

As a Chicagoland resident, it seems fitting to mention that today is Frank Lloyd Wright‘s birthday. This Google Doodle does a nice job of reminding people.

Google Doodle: Frank Llody Wright's birthday

I have driven by this particular landmark numerous times (and EBLOG reader SE lives just a few blocks away – hi SE!).

Chocolate in Chicago

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Here are some spots I’ll have to try this summer:

Blommer Chocolate Store – I’ve had their dark chocolate almond toffee and it’s great!
Chicago Chocolate Company
Hot Chocolate
Lutz Cafe and Pastry Shop
bon bon Chicago

Tigers vs Wildcats

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Northwestern will be hosting Princeton for the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse quarterfinals this weekend. The game will be played right outside my office this Sunday at 1pm. The only glitch for me is that I’m at Dartmouth this weekend so I’ll miss it. Maybe it’s just as well, I probably wouldn’t know whom to cheer on (both teams?!). And I’m not sorry I’m at Dartmouth, I’m participating in a interesting conference.

UPDATE: NU beats Princeton 8-6 and proceeds to the semifinals.

Wonderful hack

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

A fellow user of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has created a wonderful hack for Google Maps using Greasemonkey. By installing the script in Firefox, it is now possible to get addresses to overlay on the CTA system map. This was a feature seriously lacking on the Transit Authority’s own site and has caused many frustrations for me in the past. This is an awesome feature. [thanks]

Here are some step-by-step instructions on how to get this to work.

Using the Firefox browser go to

There’s a link called “Click Here to Install Greasemonkey” – click on that. Be sure you’re letting Firefox accept downloads. (If you are not then a warning message will come up right below the location bar of the browser letting you know and instructing you to click on a button to allow downloads from that site.)

Next, go to
Once you’re on that page (it’ll just be script) then under the Tools menu of Firefox choose Install User Script.

That’s it. Next time when you go to you’ll see a new link on the page: CTA map. You can click on it whenever you want to view your address on the CTA map.

More traffic coming to a Chicago street near you

Friday, April 15th, 2005

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is facing some major budget crises and has been contemplating various ways to deal with it. This week, the CTA decided to propose a plan that would cut dozens of bus routes AND the Evanston Purple Line express that runs during rush hours on weekdays. This would be extremely unfortunate for those of us in Evanston who use the Purple express.. and pretty much anyone between us and our destinations. I suspect those of us who have the alternative of getting into our cars will opt to do so. This will cause increases in traffic.. obviously not just in Evanston but to and from our destinations as well. It will be especially unfortunate for parking at Northwestern, which is already in a bad state. I foresee more and more people deciding to drive to work instead of taking the El. Overall, the environment won’t thank us for these changes either.

One of the most shocking parts of all this is that the one area in which the CTA decided to recommend no changes is charges to tourists! That is one of the most likely populations to go along with whatever changes are implemented so why leave them out of the plans?

What’s so crunchy in your snack?

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

Reading up on hometown blogs I came across the unfortunate news that rat poopie was found in a warehouse holding airplane snacks at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (and you don’t have to live in Chicagoland to use that airport during your U.S. airtravel given how many transfers occur there). The article states that “inspectors discovered more than 1,000 rat droppings where pretzels, beer and other airline snacks and beverages are stored”. To this a Chicagoist reader responded with the following astute question: “who got stuck with that counting job?”.