The two-day conference in Chicago went very well. I learned a lot and made many great contacts.

On my last night in town I walked the short distance to Millennium Park, site of President Obama’s victory speech last November. I wanted to see one of the most intriguing sights in the park, the Cloud Gate on the AT&T Plaza. Thanks to its kidney-bean shape, many simply refer to it as “The Bean.”

By the way, I used my new Palm Pre cell phone to take all of the photos in this story; I am amazed at how sharp they are!

I don't know about Cloud Gate, I liked calling it The Bean.

The structure is 66-feet long by 33-feet high and weighs 110 tons. According to the website, “The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city’s famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.”

The Chicago skyline reflected in The Bean.

One of the most unusual sensations occurs when you walk under the Bean and look up. The surfaces are highly reflective and curved, so you get a view that reminded me of the House of Mirrors at the Carnival

The Bean is, as you can see, highly reflective. Given Millenium Park’s proximity to Lake Michigan, seagulls can be seen everywhere, sometimes landing on top of the Bean. It is such an unusual structure that I laughed at the thought of the first seagull telling the other birds “You know, I think we can land on that thing!”

>As I walked away from The Bean, I was treated to a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline. Our conference took place in the tall building in the center.

I walked across the street to The Tavern at The Park. The weather was so mild that I chose a table outside. I was not very hungry so I settled for an appetizer.

The grilled Polenta with grilled Italian Sausage, Pecorino Cheese, Sliced Pepperoncini & Tomato with White Wine Sauce was spectacular!

The food was great, the weather was wonderful: I even met a young man at the table next to mine who had graduated from the University of Texas and was anxious to return to Austin. He seemed to prefer our 68 days of triple digit temperatures and ongoing drought this summer to doing another Chicago winter; I can’t say that I would disagree with that choice.I walked back to the hotel, enjoying the mild weather, and looking forward to a good night’s sleep before my flight home the next day.