I felt like I was actually a pretty productive trip to Birmingham this time around.  The last couple of times I went down here it felt like it was literally so I could be seen and that is all.  I would kid with co-workers who asked me why I was in Birmingham that I just wanted to show my face so it would be harder to lay me off since they have seen my face, haha.  OK, so I was partially kidding, partially serious.  In the past it felt like I didn’t really make any good connection with anyone.  This time I spoke a good amount with my boss and in fact when on a 5 mile run with him.  He is normally an 8min/mile kind of runner, but he had just done the Disney Marathon a couple weeks back so it was about time for a recovery run.  So yet again running creates a new relationship, this time it is a professional one.  I was able to talk to him about some of the struggles of working in Elgin while pretty much our whole team resides in Birmingham.  He stated he wants to get me more “plugged in” on some more projects that involve our team which obviously made me happy.  He’s already got me involved in a couple of projects so I am thinking this is going to be a good work year for me!  I do want to take a couple steps forward on becoming a senior level admin, hopefully it will happen next year. 

I gotta say, the people I have run into in Birmingham have been quite nice.  Now maybe it is because I am just a visitor and I lack the Southern twang and personality, but I have yet to run into someone who is less than pleasant.  Anyone in the hotels or restaurants we have visited are just so polite.  I will admit, there are times that I cannot understand exactly what they are saying to me because of their accent (SOIT TAYE).  But there is definitely one thing that divides this land, college football!  They are extremely passionate to their allegiance to either Alabama or Auburn.  And it’s not like a dislike, it is pretty much always genuine hatred.  Now my old boss used to play for Auburn, and it seems that the majority of our Birmingham office is an Alabama fan, so of course I choose to be an Auburn fan, because I have to be THAT guy.  I may not spread it around too much in the office, but there are a couple of people who know I prefer Auburn over Alabama.  And look, they won the BCS championship this year, I guess I chose correctly!  But of course, above all else, I am a Chicago Bulls fan!

And speaking of the Bulls…How ’bout dem Bulls?! Luckily last night the Bulls/Mavs game was on TNT and I was able to watch the end of it.  It’s really nice to have Derrick Rose on the team because he just flat out will put the team on his back and take them to the promise land.  Once other players see that, they feed off of it and want to perform better also.  I just wish Deng would do better in teh late quarters.  He still has the tendency to start off strong and then quickly fade away later in the game.  So frustrating!

Oh wait..I’m supposed to be talking about Birmingham, right?  Moving on…

One thing that Birmingham is VERY good at is FOOD! Of course you can find BBQ all over the place!  This time around we went our staples: La Paz and Cocina Superior for our fish taco fix.  You can blame Potter for those cravings.  For BBQ we hit up Dreamland BBQ and Sweet Bones Alabama.  Sweet Bones Alabama have some amazing smoked chicken wings off of their appetizer menu.  I don’t think I ever had smoked chicken wings, but I will definitely be comparing all wings to that place for a while.  We also hit up Michael’s which is the restaurant we stayed at (Aloft Soho).  You can get a free appetizer if you go into the lobby of the Aloft and find the electronix touchscreen marquee and send it to your cell phone via text message.  Their food is good and apparently when you order a dish with fries they give you a TON of fries! But the winner of Michael’s is their cheesecake pound cake.  They give such a big slice and it much more moist than you think pound cake should be.  We went their twice since it was so convenient, and let’s be honest, cheesecake pound cake sounds pretty awesome, right?

Overall I enjoyed our trip to Birmingham and I believe my 2011 career will lead to much better things than last year.  There is a lot of work to be done and I believe that my boss knows now how much more involved I want to be with the team.  It looks like I may be coming here more often than previous years. They say they have it in the budget to send us to Birmingham once a quarter, which I won’t mind in Chicago’s colder months, but it’s going to be HOT in the summer months. 

As great as it was to get to come down to Birmingham, I think it is time for me to go home to the cold I love in Chicago…err, Buffalo Grove.

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