Hello from Milwaukee!

"Milwaukee!": Henry Winkler posing beside the "Bronze Fonz" statue in Milwaukee

As I write this, I’m in my room at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. I must commend this place for a nice touch: when you check in, they give you a warm chocolate chip cookie with your room key. It made for a lovely “second breakfast”.

"Shameless Karaoke": Wil McLean sings onstage at Shameless Karaoke

I joined my friends Rachel and Scott at their send-off get-together at The Beaconsfield last night. Later today, they’ll fly off to their new home somewhere in the Vancouver exurbs, so in spite of my 6:15 flight this morning, I made sure to catch up with them. It was worth it, and I also got a chance to introduce them to Shameless Karaoke, run by my friend Wil McLean, at the Double Deuce Saloon. I think it became Jon Crowley’s new favourite karaoke spot last night.

An early flight means an early night, so I biked home and arrived at home just before midnight. On the way, I discovered one of the joys of urban biking: I saw a guy holding up his hand to hail a cab and on a whim, I “high-fived” him as I passed by.

"4:59 a.m. EDT at YYZ": The passenger drop-off at Pearson airport, early this morning

I’d packed before I left for Rachel’s and Scott’s going-away party, so all I had to do was get some shut-eye. Aerofleet were at my front door at 4:30 a.m. and I was at the airport soon afterwards, feeling a little more chipper than I’d expected to be.

I was flying American Airlines, which meant Terminal 3. Back in the 1980s, when it was the new terminal and served the late great CP Air (and the developers said they’d put a Harrods in there real soon now), I thought it was fantastic. Now, it’s a glorified Greyhound station for flying buses.

"Liz Lemon, I keep seeing that accordion everywhere I go!": Tracy Morgan at the crowded gate B6 lounge in Pearson airport

There is no part of Pearson airport that has a greater “bus station” feeling than Gate B6, the dumping ground for passengers flying short-haul “puddle jumpers” to the U.S.. While checking in on FourSquare, I decided to take a photo of the crowd waiting for their flights (it’s the one above; click it to see it at full size). Just after taking the photo, I recognized the guy in the white T-shirt in the foreground: Tracy Morgan, with a small entourage, each one sporting an iPad.

Tracy would later see that the thing on my back was not a backback and actually an accordion. Upon seeing it, he said nothing, but made that Tracy Morgan “my mind refuses to comprehend the thing presented in front of me” face that he uses to great effect on 30 Rock.

The interior of my plane

I spent most of both flights – Toronto to O’Hare, then O’Hare to Milwaukee – fast asleep (and without the aid of a SkyMall travel pillow). The Toronto to O’Hare leg is about an hour and a quarter. The O’Hare-Milwaukee run normally takes 20 minutes, but with a broken toilet seat, we got sent back to the gate for repairs just as we were taxiing towards the runway. I didn’t care – I don’t have any Milwaukee appointments until 4 this afternoon and I was out like a light anyway.

By the bye, if you’re counting, this is the start of my 16th round-trip flight of 2011.

"9:17 a.m. at MKE": View of Milwaukee as seen from my airplane window as we were landing

With about six hours of sleep under my belt, I landed in Milwaukee at 9:17 a.m. Central and was in my hotel room before 10, where I’m getting some work done before lunch, gym, more work and customer/partner meetups. Later tonight will be the start of the primary reason I’m here:

BarCamp Milwaukee 6 logo

I’m here for BarCamp Milwaukee, the Milwaukee version of the unconference-style gathering for techies, creatives, entrepreneurs, new urbanism types and people who like to share ideas. I’m representing Shopify, who are part of the BarCamp Tour, a group of five startups who are sponsoring, participating in and helping out with BarCamps across North America.

The BarCamp Tour is organizing tonight’s pre-party, which takes place at an Irish pub called the Brocach. (Brocach is Gaelic for “badger den”, and when I hear that phrase, all I can think of is the story about that poor Gordon Ramsay lookalike.)

BarCamp will take place on Friday and Saturday at the coworking space Bucketworks, and I’ll fly back to Accordion City on Monday.

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