This evening I was out at the "launch party" for the Built In Chicago organization. I only recently got wind of this group, although I was familiar with many of the folks involved. Interesting (to me, at least, having created dozens of sites on the platform), their site is set up on Ning, but has had a HUGE start. While I understand they've been kicking around in one form or another since this past Fall, they've already gotten over 3,500 members on the site, and had over 300 at the event this evening. This was down at the Merchandise Mart (which, if you're not familiar with Chicago, is a huge building down on the river which had the most floor space of any building in the world until they built the Pentagon) in a strange 2-story "recital" kind of space tucked away down a half a dozen halls. I got to schmooze with a bunch of folks that I know from other contexts (I ran into Tim McDonald of Zaarly, along with Beth Rosen, down in the lobby), some of whom I'd not seen in ages (such as Phillip Herrejon) and ones that I don't usually see "in the wild" (such as Mike Rhodes, late of the Syncubator, or Judi Wunderlich who I usually only see at her own MeetUps). In the local "tech media" I had a chance to catch up with both Tech.li's Ed Domainand his arch-nemesis, The May Report's infamous Ron May. I got to chat with numerous other folks that I didn't know, and might even have some projects come out of those conversations, so all-in-all it was a very useful evening. They did have a bit of a program, with organization head Matt Moog doing some background on the group, then 5 startups (including Tim for Zaarly) doing brief presentations, and then unveiling the new logo (as seen here). Oh, one cool thing about the event ... it was $10 to attend OR you could bring a print-out of a blog post made to the site this week! I "recycled" my Chicago Plan book review (which I'd already posted on a couple of other Ning sites, so I had the code cut-and-paste ready) and got in free ... almost like getting paid to write.
I had an unusually pleasant afternoon once I gave up on the idea of sending out resumes (the first job I tried to apply to took over a half an hour of fighting with a balky on-line form that simply would not take my input on a couple of fields). Yesterday I got a contract for writing a corporate web site for the group that's sort of "budding off" of the thing I've been working on the past several months. It's not a huge amount of money, but given that the other one (which could still turn into a full-time gig at any point) crashed from 40-50 hours a week to zero as we wait and see what's happening there with the incoming investors, it's nice to have something coming in. Anyway, it was an agreeable change to be cranking out HTML (and more CSS than I'd done for ages) all afternoon ... I almost forgot how fun it can be to code pages (especially when everything's either working or is not too horribly difficult to figure out)!
However, I do wish I'd gotten more of that finished (I'm about 2/3rds done), as I'm probably not going to get anything at-my-desk done tomorrow, as Saturday is The Wife's birthday, and The Girls and I have to get ourselves out and do some shopping (such as we can, given our present beyond-strapped financial state). At least the Birthday Girl has given the kids some suggestions and given me a good idea of what she wants, so we're not completely having to make it up as we go along! There seems to also be some going-out-to-dinner plans in the works for both Friday and Saturday, so I'm going to probably be a bit pressed for getting a post up tomorrow (but given that I'm doing NaBloPoMo, I'm going to have to find a way!).