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Ten Best Days of 2023

Darlingside @ North Shore Center

Liz and I got out of the habit of date nights, and ventured out to see a favorite band of ours: Darlingside.

Part of what made this day special was us getting out into the world again. But it also had to do with hearing this group perform live, and hearing their harmonies in person. Do a search for them on the blog, and you’ll soon see why we were so excited to see them perform (even if it meant a trip up to Skokie).

Infinite Adversaries: A “Choose Your Own Adventure” Style Game, Powered by ChatGPT

I’m far from an expert on AI, but started to play around with ChatGPT… and began to explore how to create a game using AI that mirrored the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read as a kid.

A big revelation for me was realizing I could ask ChatGPT to return information to me as a JSON blob – effectively turning it into this bespoke API endpoint. Drastically changed the way I thought about interacting with it.

It’s by no means a polished game, but more of a proof of concept. Still, it had been a long while since I was motivated to work on a personal project… and I was happy with how this turned out.

Liz’s Birthday 2023, Day 6: Hiking Mary’s Rock Summit and Byrd’s Nest #3 in Shenandoah, Shopping in Downtown Luray, Walking the Grounds at Glen Gordon Manor, Dinner at Houndstooth

For Liz’s birthday this year, I whisked her away without telling her where we were going or what we were doing. Given our sedentary lifestyle of late, I decided we would be flying out East… and spending our time hiking around Shenandoah National Park.

While we really enjoyed hiking the West Fork Trail, I’m not exaggerating about our sedentary lifestyle. We got hiking gear, but I had some reservations about how we’d fare with all this physical activity.

A really full day, a spectacular hike, and we capped off the day with an incredible birthday meal at Houndstooth. And we also got to see some chickens, to boot.

Christiana Lakehouse 2023, Day 4: Indoor and Outdoor Games, Fireworks on the Lake

It’s always a fun time, when we’re able to visit the Denler family at the Christiana Lakehouse. An added bonus this year: we got to hang out with the Ford kids, who were also visiting and staying there.

There were several great days there, but this one stands out as a favorite: we got to see the annual Fourth of July fireworks, while relaxing in a boat on the lake.

Ford Kids in Chicago, 2023 (Part One): Scavenger Hunt Across the City, Mission to Mars Escape Room, Ethiopian Dinner at Demera, Blue Man Group

Liz and I got to schedule a “Chicago Day” with the Ford Kids, and we did some prep work before the big day. We had a lot of sites to visit, so we devised a scavenger hunt for them – leading them around the city, based on various clues they had to solve.

We did a few other big things this day, as the scavenger hunt was only part of it. Big, huge, long day… but what a phenomenally enjoyable and exhausting whirlwind of a day.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and an Armada of Alcohol

We’ve had this fun tradition of viewing Star Trek shows with our friends Mike, Michelle, Najwa, Joe, and Michael. These visits are not as often as we’d like, but they’re always so much fun (we tend to have a great meal beforehand, catching up a bit before nerding out with the Enterprise).

We had an earlier evening in February, and that night actually came close on this list – Liz and I stayed a little later, and got to talk in greater depth with Najwa, Joe, and Michael.

But tonight stands out in my mind for the feel of the evening. We all settled onto this huge couch, drinks in our hands (made with Star Trek liquor)… and geeked out for a few hours.

Whiskey and Serendipity: Teeling Tasting at Warehouse Liquors (Drammers Club), Dinner at Cherry Circle Room

Liz and I had a date night planned: a whisky tasting, followed by a dinner at Cherry Circle Room. A few hours before we planned heading out… Liz got a call from her dad, who mentioned he was driving through Chicago. And did we have any plans?

A bit later, Kirt and Anne signed up to join the tasting. And though they came in a little late, were able to join us. And we upped our reservation for dinner to be for a party of four.

Pretty last minute, but pretty serendipitous all around. A very unexpected and fun evening.

Late Night Storm

Hard to describe how magical this evening was. We were all heading to bed, and when we realized what was happening over the lake… we were all mesmerized.

There wasn’t a lot of talking. It was mostly us just sitting, being present, and watching in awe.

Tricia and Paige: Chicago Marathon 2023, Day 3

So much happened on this day (and on the days preceding). We had several family members separately hitting different checkpoints, to cheer on both Tricia and Paige as they ran the Chicago Marathon.

Downtown traffic was a nightmare, with tons of streets closed off. But we were able to get from spot to spot, traveling by car and CTA and foot (and eventually by electronic scooter).

One of my favorite moments was when Liz and I changed our plans, and were able to transport ourselves to the finish line by registering to use two different electronic scooter services. We raced across downtown, and were able to catch Tricia and Paige as they neared the finish.

The Candy Grabber: Halloween in Hyde Park, 2023

I’m a big fan of Halloween. And the last few years, Liz and I have made it a point to do some creative projects to celebrate the holiday – and to give the kids who visit us a fun time.

This year’s project was a bit lower tech, but still interactive (the best kind of Halloween projects, IMO). It took me a little while to get my banter honed in… but I think I eventually got the sales pitch down pretty well.

Favorite moment from the evening: a kid who visited us was walking by, and shouted to us “That wasn’t cool what you did to me!”