Tag Archives: Wattson

Ohio State vs. Northwestern in Pictures (and words)

I went to Chicago last weekend for the Ohio State Buckeye vs. Northwestern game with my main man Jonny-boy. We took Friday off work and drove to Chicago to save some money. It was certainly an awesome trip. As soon as we got off the highway exit to go to the hotel, Google Music started playing ‘Hang On Sloopy’! Sign two was when we got to the parking garage, we had the best spot in the house thanks to Wattson!

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After checking in to the hotel, we went out for some deep dish pizza. The concierge recommended Lou Malnati’s, which didn’t disappoint.

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We asked the waitress for places to go in the city and she recommended Jimmy Green’s next door. Since Jonny-boy shared the same last name, we considered this another great sign.

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We watched the Oakland vs. Detroit playoff game. Once that was over, they brought in an awesome D.J. who totally rocked the house (pictured below with Fat Mark). He wasn’t overwhelming and played really fun music. The highlight of the evening was meeting a super drunk girl who said she invented TIVO. It was awesome!

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That concluded our Friday night. We ended up cabbing it back to the hotel.

When Saturday came around, we were in desperate need of breakfast. Once we got situated, we asked the concierge for recommended breakfast options. He suggested 11 City Diner. This could not have been a better recommendation.

11 City Diner turned out to be a Jewish diner with an amazing atmosphere and wonderful service. I would go as far to say from this point forward, anytime I go to Chicago, I will always go to 11 City Diner. Similar to going to Minnesota and hitting up The Lion’s Tap.

The food at 11 was perfect. I had ‘The Tom Waits 2am Breakfast 1987″ which was two eggs, two pancakes, two bacon, two sausage, house potatoes and toast for $12.99…. I repeat…. $12.99. Absolutely incredible. We sat at the bar and the people were fantastic. I ended up getting my picture taken with the bartender. I’m already looking forward to going back.

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On the way out I stopped at the candy station of the restaurant and bought the concierge a chocolate bar for the amazing recommendation and I bought some Hebrew Bazooka Joe for us. We obviously couldn’t read the comics.

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After breakfast we headed back to the hotel and got ready for the game. We took the Red Line to the Purple Line and got off the train when all the OSU fans got off the train. We had tickets to the OSU Alumni Club of Chicago tailgate. We checked out the stadium and then headed to the tailgate. We met the only people in Northwestern gear who explained they had a child in the band.

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The rain was crazy and ended up drenching everything in sight. Below is a picture I took of the parking lot on our way out of the tailgate.

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We met some great Northwestern fans who invited us to their tailgate (not pictured). We enjoyed their hospitality but eventually needed to head near the stadium to scalp tickets. We ended up buying for $100 each, which was cheaper than retail and stubhub. After we got tickets, we hit up the parking lots near the stadium. The sky turned an incredible redish/purple as the rain left.

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We eventually found a good tailgate and met the Northwestern fan Jacob (future surgeon). I immediately started calling him Turk. You can see he wasn’t amused.

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Once we got into the stadium, the field was a complete mess (pictured below). I think this played into the flow of the game. It seemed like OSU couldn’t get in a grove until the very end.

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Mark and Jonny-Boy at the game.

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We sat next to a group of Ohio State fans. I thought this guy looked amazingly like John Salley.

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The first picture below is a shot shortly before OSU’s go-ahead touchdown. You can see the Ohio State contingent in the background. This was an away game but I would say there were at least 55% OSU fans in attendance. The second picture is immediately after the game.

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After the game we headed to Wrigleyville to celebrate. I couldn’t resist a quick picture in front of the stadium.

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When we got to Wrigleyville, it was another sign when we found Mullen’s so we had to go.

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We took a cab back to the hotel and drove home the next day. We were absolutely spent when we got back to Columbus, but overall, an amazing trip where the Buckeyes continued their winning streak to a remarkable 18 games!

If you have any great Chicago stories or want to comment on our trip, feel free to drop a note below.

The 2013 Camry Hybrid Review!

I recently purchased a new 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid. This is the first new car that I’ve ever owned so it’s exciting every time I get in the car. When I received the car, it literally had 3 miles on it. So far I’ve had the car for a little over a month and the odometer is slightly over 1200  miles. I’ve filled up with gas just once (I’m almost on ‘E’ at the moment) and am averaging just a tic under 40 mpg. Since the car is a hybrid, I named him Wattson. so…. without any further rambling…..

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Wattson in all his glory

Interior

Since I have two weimaraners who often ride in the car, one of my main requirements was a leather interior. Unfortunately, Toyota made this a huge pain in the butt. In order to get leather, I had to upgrade to the GPS package. However, if you add the GPS package, you also have to buy the Blind Spot Monitoring….

Anyway, to focus only on the leather, the interior looks incredibly sharp. I’m also really impressed by the dash (picture below). The dial on the left shows what source of power is being used by the gar. The middle dial is the speedometer and the right is the cumulative average of mpg. Additionally, there is a screen located in the middle of the speedometer that displays additional information that can be toggled from the steering wheel. This includes mph for the trip, range left (how many miles until I run out of gas), overall mph, etc. It’s definitely an added bonus to have all the information in front of me without having to take my eyes off the road.

Verdict: A+

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GPS

As I mentioned earlier, I was required to get GPS in order to get leather seats. The GPS is average at best. I’m used to the Android GPS powered by Google Maps so I’m used to the best. From the day I bought the car, the map was already out of date as it didn’t have my financees’ address in West Virginia (even though her apartment complex has been open for over two years).

With Android, I can say “Navigate to Target” and it’ll bring up the address of the Target and navigate appropriately. With the car, I need a physical address or I need to do a crazy tedious search using Bing. Overall, I’m not impressed.

The great thing about Android Navigation is that the map is constantly being updated by Google…. the car GPS requires I buy an upgrade from Toyota in order to get map updates. Overall, the GPS doesn’t add much to the car.

Verdict: D-

Heated Seats & Dual Climate Control

I’ve never had heated seats before so I wasn’t sure what to expect in regards to how much I would like them. After using them, I can honestly say they are awesome. What I like most about the Camry version is that it also heats the lower back.

Dual Climate Control is another feature included in the car. I like it a lot, but I’m not sure how valuable it is because the vast majority of the time I’m driving alone.

Verdict – B+ (Would bump to an A if the seats heated the whole back).

Keyless Ignition

I think my favorite feature of the car is the Keyless ignition. In order to unlock and start the car, all I need is to have the key fob close by (usually in my pocket).  To start the car, I simply put my foot on the brake and hit the start button. The first few times I started the car, I wasn’t sure if it was on because the electric motor is so quiet. This is definitely one of the coolest features of the car.

Verdict – A+

Backup Camera

The backup camera was another feature I wasn’t sure if I would like… however, after using it for a few weeks, it’s completely and utterly awesome. Whether helping me back into tight spots or alerting me to on-coming vehicles, it’s a very cool feature.

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Verdict – A

Blind Spot Monitor

Another feature I had to pay for in order to get leather was Blind Spot Monitoring. The way it works is when I’m driving on the highway and a car is in my blind spot, an orange light appears on the side mirror. Initially, I didn’t think this would be useful or cool. However, the more I use it, I definitely see the value and am glad to have it. This comes in handy nearly everyday with knowing if I have enough room to merge and also helps keep my eyes forward because I don’t have to turn my head to check the blind spot.

Verdict – A

Apps

One of the stranger features of the car is the ability to utilize apps through something called ‘Toyota Entune’. The main apps are Pandora, weather, gas prices and OpenTable. The concept is that I download the Entune app on my smartphone (Android or iOS) and then the car apps use the data from my phone to function.

I’ve used most of the apps and the most useful is the Pandora app because it shows the current song and artist on the GPS screen. If I’m streaming Pandora from my phone via Bluetooth, the artist and song name do not display. However, the app on the car  constantly loses connection and would be described as spotty at best.

As for the other apps…. the weather app is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. When the radar map is pulled up, there is no re-positioning the map to zoom in on a particular location so if you want to check the weather in specific location (rather than a general location zoomed out), the User is out of luck.

The images below show what I’m talking about. The middle picture is the initial view of the map. The bottom picture is zoomed in twice. Columbus is in the top right and nearly out of view. It’s absolutely pointless.

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As for the others…. I think it would be incredibly tedious to make an OpenTable reservation on the car rather than the Android app. I also don’t see the value in gas prices as this is a simple app download as well.

I think the worst part of the apps is that they come free for the first three years, then Toyota thinks I should pay a monthly fee to use them. This is beyond asinine because I’m using my own data from my phone in order to make them work and they aren’t offering anything I can’t get a better version of from somewhere else (most notably, the Google Play Store).

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Verdict – F

Conclusion

Since I’m already over 1100 words, I’m not going to review every feature of the Camry. Some of the other neat stuff that was left out is the eco-boost option, the electric only mode and the plethora of settings from when the doors lock to how long the headlights should stay on for.

When I was buying a car, I wanted something that was eco friendly. The reason being that I would much rather give my money to the car companies rather than the gas companies. The Camry Hybrid absolutely delivers on this. So far I’ve been averaging around 39 MPH. Combine that with how sharp the exterior looks and how the Camry Hybrid was rated #1 in total cost of ownership by Consumer Reports, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

Overall Grade after 1200 miles…. A

As always, feel free to drop a note with your thoughts in the comments.

Before and After – Camry Edition

This is the final odometer reading from my old Camry. Also notice the check engine light is on. The final tally is 192,296 miles without anything major needing to be repaired. The 2001 Camry was absolutely amazing and dependable. I couldn’t have asked for a better car.

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Contrast that to my new car (named Wattson). A brand new 2013 Camry Hybrid. I took ownership with 6 miles on the car. I could not be more excited.

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If you have any car stories or want to leave a note, please feel free to drop a note in the comment box below.