Monthly Archives: June 2003

Ow. Ow ow ow ow.

I ache.

Yesterday we had a blast. We left at around 8 AM with wildmouse, me_not_you, Thomas and Sherry for a van trip to the beach! We drove the 2.5 hours down to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area where we spent about four hours frolicking in the surf. Unfortunately, we were there right around low tide and at best it was only three-foot seas, but there was enough waves to make things fun. Donald, Janelle, Sherry and I did some fun surfing (I’m getting better at mastering the boogie board!) even though for the most part the water was only about 2-3 feet deep at that part of the beach. Thanks to Bullfrog I didn’t get too toasted, though of all places I missed getting sunscreen on the backs of my upper arms, so those are a little sore this morning. Also, as ever when you play in the surf, I got pretty beat up by the water – my neck and back are pretty sore, but it was worth it! Because of his ingrown toenail problem, takaza wasn’t able to join us in the surf, but he had a good time relaxing in the shade, chatting with Thomas, and listening to more of Harry Potter on his MP3 player. Afterwards, we had a quick tour of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher (the jellyfish were attacking Janelle!), then dinner at The Oceanic in Wrightsville Beach. We’ve been invited to join Donald and Janelle down at Holden Beach in a few weeks and I’m really looking forward to the trip!

As for today, I’m still waiting to hear back from the company in Carol Stream. I have no certain date when I’m supposed to hear from them, but I was hoping it would be as early as last Friday or today. Given that it’s a short week, I’m really hoping all the decision-makers haven’t cleared out for the week! Other than that, I’ll be doing laundry and reading more of Harry Potter and the Funny Feeling You Get When You Lean Your Chair Back And Almost Fall, But Don’t.

Edit – 9:18 AM – Donald has posted pictures from the trip! I’ve sprinkled a few links in the above text to their pics as well.

All the other kids are doing it!

Today’s Friday Five:
1. How are you planning to spend the summer?
Getting a damn job! But in the meantime, attending Anthrocon, going to the beach with friends, and generally trying to hang out and have a social life on the cheap.

2. What was your first summer job?
Hmm…I think it was making minimum wage bagging groceries at Kroger in Anderson, SC. It was a big deal when Kroger came to Anderson and it was supposed to be a super-spiffy store. Funny – Kroger left, it became a Bi-Lo, and now I think it closed.

3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go?
I like the idea of a week or two auto tour of British Columbia. Though a few weeks driving around Europe would be fun, too.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?
That’s tough. I spent a summer in Palm Springs – I loved the company (my aunt and uncle and cousins) but Palm Springs is in the desert, you see. In the summer. We actually fried an egg on the sidewalk, just to prove we could. I tried riding a bike down to the bookstore, six blocks away. I discovered that the dry heat of the desert sneaks up on you – after a two blocks, I was damn near ready to die. I’ve tried to stay away from deserts since.

5. What was your best vacation ever?
My parents lived in France for a few years (in Annemasse, just across the border from Geneva, Switzerland), and I was able to spend the summer with them for a couple years running. The summers in France were fabulous – great food, beautiful scenery, and learning about European culture. I was able to travel around and see some of the most beautiful places in Europe – Amsterdam, Val d’Aosta, Lausanne, Chamonix, Lyon, and of course many days spent just wandering around Geneva.

The Good and the bad

Well, I’ve got kind of mixed feelings right now.

First off, the bad: Got a call this morning from the recruiter that has the Lafayette, IN job. While her client liked me and still wants to interview me, they have just installed a temporary hiring freeze. She doesn’t anticipate that it will last more than a month or so, but in the meantime any interviews with them go straight to the back burner. Crap. I’d hoped to have a good fallback position in case the Carol Stream job falls through, but I guess you work with what you’ve got.

On the brighter side, we have some good news: Supreme Court strikes down sodomy laws! This is good news on a number of fronts, and not even the most obvious ones (though it’s kind of nice not to have to be an unconvicted felon in the state of North Carolina anymore). Bowers vs. Hardwick (and its stepchild here in NC, the Crimes Against Nature Law) has been used as justification for everything from banning gays from the military to preventing even the mention of homosexuality in school curricula (except, of course, to mention that sodomy is against the law in the state of North Carolina) to barring adoption by same-sex couples. There’s going to be a lot of repercussions from this ruling and I think a lot of good is going to be done. For an excellent analysis of the Lawrence decision, check out this commentary by Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin.

Ah, the joys of summer

Well, let’s see…the forecast for today – highs in the 90’s, sunny skies, humid, Code Red Ozone Alert, and the UV Index is at 10+ out of 10. Seems like a good day to stay inside.

Not a lot going on this week – just nervously waiting to hear back from various employers/recruiters. Had lunch over at wildmouse and me_not_you‘s house yesterday where we planned munchies for the weekend. On Sunday, a bunch of us are piling into a van way too early and driving down to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area just south of Wilmington for a day of fun on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and maybe visiting the aquarium. We’ll have a nice picnic lunch sometime in the afternoon, then later a tasty dinner at The Oceanic. Then it’s back into the van to be home before it gets too awfully late. Unfortunately, takaza won’t be able to join us swimming, since he had an ingrown toenail cut out yesterday. It didn’t look too bad when I helped him dress it this morning, but it’s still not something I’d want to go dipping into salt water (owowowowow!). It’s cool though – he can hang out with Thomas, who is of the non-swimming persuasion, and listen to more of the Harry Potter and the Order of Fries (or whatever) audiobook (it’s amazing how fast one can rip 23 CD’s!).

In the meantime I’ve got a good bit of cooking to do. Today I’m making a yummy Bolognese sauce (pasta sauce with tomatoes and meat) – if the recipe turns out well, I’ll post it. Then sometime before Sunday I need to make two loaves of bread (for the deli sandwiches), a batch or two of cinnamon scones, and a batch of chocolate chip/peanut butter chip cookies. That’s cool – I enjoy this kind of stuff. Oh, and somewhere in all of that I need to start in on reading Harry Potter and the Order of Hash Browns, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered that I acquired yesterday.

Incidentally, I’ve been listening to MusiKitty Radio for the past couple of mornings – a nice way to start the day. Interesting song in my current music, too – I never knew Bill Paxton was in a band, let alone working with folks from The B-52’s. Great track, rigelkitty!

Sleep is for the weak

Yesterday was fantastic, exactly what I was looking forward to. I woke up around 8 AM (wow, sleeping late for me!) and bummed around on the net until datahawk woke up around 9. Rustitobuck stumbled in not long after and we had an enjoyable, if completely unmotivated, morning of chatting and geeking on laptops. linnaeus showed up around noon and we went out for a late breakfast at Sammo’s, a nice little restaurant a block away from Rusty’s place.

After some regrouping, it was off for some geocaching with a nice tour of the area (3 finds, one miss since the clue required net access to solve – grrrr…). Afterwards, sylverfox joined us for a tasty dinner of grilled meats – brats, shrimp, chicken, and hamburgers. Throw in some baked potatoes on the side and it was delicious – Rusty is a grilling fiend with his George Foreman Grill! Innerwolf joined us as we were wrapping up, and we had a lot of fun sitting, chatting, and engaging in the requisite bit of SMOFfing. We got to bed around 12:30 AM, though with the after-lights-out chatting, we probably didn’t get to sleep until 1.

This morning I woke to dim light coming in around the window shades. I fumbled with my watch a bit, pressing a few wrong buttons until I found the one that turned on the backlight – 6:15 AM. Well, I wanted to leave at around 7:30, and since I was awake anyway, I went ahead and showered and finished packing up my stuff, then said my goodbyes to a very sleepy DataHawk. I stopped by the !Hen to get a Sunday Trib just as they were dropping them off – I thought it was oddly late for them to be bringing in the paper, but who knows? So I got my paper and guzzled my second DoubleShot, then got in the car.

When I started it, the clock in the car came on – 6:00 AM. Shit. When I was fumbling with my watch, I accidentally switched it back from Central Time to Eastern Time – I had actually gotten up at 5:15. Ugh. That means I got all of about 4 hours of sleep, which means come this afternoon I’m going to be dragging something fierce. Heck, I feel pretty sleepy now as I sit at the gate in O’Hare Airport writing this. Anyway, my flight starts boarding in about a half-hour and I’ll probably doze a bit on the plane. Only five hours until I see my wuff!

By the way, one neat thing from Friday night. Tincrash passed along three fabulous pictures he drew for Midwest Furfest – you can see one of them now on the Midwest Furfest home page. Really great stuff, fabulous detail, and a great use of the Roaring 20’s theme. Duncan-Bob sez check it out!

And then there was relaxing

So yesterday was action-packed and fun, yay!

The interview seemed to go pretty well. I don’t think I said anything incredibly stupid and I seemed to establish a good rapport with my prospective supervisor, so that’s good. They have someone else coming in next Thursday to interview, then they’ll choose between us. Whichever gets chosen, goes on to Round Two: a full day’s interviewing at the company’s Connecticut headquarters. Once they pass that, (and word has it that if you make it that far you’re golden) there’s Round Three: a half-day interview with the company psychologist. This sounds pretty bizarre, but once it was explained to me I warmed to the idea: the interview focuses on behaviors and how you approach your work. The psychologist then reports back to your supervisor with what type of personality you are and what the best way to deal with you is. This also establishes a baseline, and after three months the psychologist meets with you and your supervisor and you discuss what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong, what needs improvement, and what your goals will be for the next year. Looking back at past jobs, I can say that if I’d had this kind of third-party intervention things would have been much, much better!

Still haven’t heard from the Lafayette job, by the way. They want me up to interview, but they haven’t given me a date. Gee, maybe they’ll only have one round of interviews – how refreshingly novel 🙂

Last night there was another Western Suburbs Dinner at an Irish restaurant in Schaumburg, not far from the MFF hotel. We had a tremendous turnout (deep breath):
datahawk, posicat, Fuzzbear, Tony, Max, tincrash, steviemaxwell, Tybis, Axle, Fox, butterscotchvix, hazardous_roo, linnaeus, rusitobuck, Colin, duncandahusky, hartree, crim_ferret, wyldekyttin, Firewing, damnbear, lthrbear, aureth, jenwolf, neowolf2, Innerwolf, ashmcairo, sylverfox, daveqat, Synicism, moryssa

Whew. Sorry if I missed anyone, but I think that’s everybody. The place was a bit louder and a bit smokier than I would have liked, but the food was tasty (and the cider on tap was divine!). I got to play “social butterfly” a bit and that was fun. Got to meet some folks I hadn’t seen before (howdy lthrbear!) and hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in too damn long. It was just another reminder of how we need to haul our butts back up to Chicago. We even talked a little MFF business, which was nice to get out of the way. My throat was a mess when we got home from the shouting over the noise and the smoke, but it was a great time.

Then there’s today – not much going on, and I like it that way. Hmm – past 11 AM and we have yet to get breakfast. Linnaeus had to go in to work this morning, but at this rate I’m thinking he may well be able to join us for some food once we get motivated. We’re planning on doing a bit of geocaching, and probably cooking up some dinner around here. A low-stress kinda day, and I like it that way!

Tomorrow, I fly out at 10 AM. Back to the arms of the wolf I love – I’m looking forward to that!

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder

Well, that’s it! I’m all packed and ready to head out the door. Looks like I’ve got 29 confirmed names for dinner on Friday, with three maybes (hey, fuzzytoes – since you’re stranded in Battle Ground, you want to come up and join us?). I’ll probably reserve for 35 or so, just in case. I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I’m so overprepared at this point it just shouldn’t matter. See many of y’all tomorrow night!

Oh, by the way – I grabbed some prepaid Internet access (heck, it’ll be useful at AC too), so I will have e-mail access tonight contrary to what I wrote earlier.

Alpha-beta-psychedelic funkin’

Been a while since I’ve done one of these…

A – Act your age? When appropriate, I suppose
B – Born on what day of the week? Sunday
C – Chore you hate? Landscaping. I love the result, I despise the effort.
D – Dad’s name? Charles Antony (though my name is Thomas Antoni – a mix-up in the birth certificate, I seem to recall)
E – Essential makeup item? Well, I don’t wear make-up, but for heaven’s sake deodorant is a sine qua non!
F – Favorite director? Hmm, that’s a toughie. A tossup between Sam Raimi and Kenneth Branagh
G – Gold or silver? Yes, please 🙂
H – Hometown? Hard to say – I’m lived all over, but right now I count Chicago as my hometown
I – Instruments you play? Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I took piano and clarinet lessons. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the knack…
J – Job title? Chemical engineer (process engineer or process development engineer, to be more specific)
K – Kids? Not now, not ever. Period.
L – Living arrangements? Living with my husband, Takaza – we’re currently renting from a friend, but plan to buy a house wherever my job takes us
M – Mom’s name? Catherine Susan (though everyone calls her Sue)
N – Number of people you’ve slept with? Six. I can honestly say I have no regrets.
O – Overnight hospital stays? The only one I recall is when I had reconstructive surgery on my ankle
P – Phobia? Arachnophobia (mild), ophidiophobia (not so mild)
Q – Quote you like? “Groovy.”
R – Religious affiliation? None. I was raised Roman Catholic, but I got better.
S – Siblings? One sister, lives with her family in St. Charles, MO
T – Time you wake up? 6 AM, usually whether I want to or not
U – Unique habit? I am a creature of habit, I need my routines every morning: e-mail, coffee, and newspaper, in that order
V – Vegetable you refuse to eat? Beets. Though Belgian endive is a close second. Everything else is great!
W- Worst habit? Worrying
X – X-rays you’ve had? Good grief, where haven’t I had an X-ray? Broke each arm twice, numerous ankle X-rays, abdominal X-rays…
Y – Yummy food you make? Heh. I make quite a few, but I really like my cinnamon rolls (hmm, I need to post the recipe for those…)
Z – Zodiac Sign? Aquarius, though I give that no credence whatsoever

Ugh

I’m spending the week in anticipation of Thursday and Friday. The trip is going to be a good one, I’m sure, if only because I’ll be able to spend time with friends (though I know if I weren’t traveling this weekend, I’d be offering to go to Charlotte to help perro out!)

The biggest pain for me today is the fact that when I went to get replacement lenses for my glasses yesterday (the old ones were scratched), something wasn’t quite right. I attributed it to just getting used to the prescription, but it didn’t get any better – my right lens is fine, but everything is rather blurry in my left lens. This results in my depth perception being shot and I tend to get a headache after a while. I went back this morning and the doctor checked everything and came out rather red-faced. Apparently he had written 1.67 where he meant to write 0.67 on my prescription. Ack! They’re having some new lenses rush-delivered and they’ll be in by noon tomorrow, but in the meantime I can only work at the computer or watch TV for about an hour at a time, then I need to take a break. At least the problem will be fixed before I fly out, though!

So, to do before flying out: I’m reviewing a huge list of interview questions, just so I don’t get blindsided with anything. I also need to download some reading material on the company I’m interviewing with, as well as some background on the technology. Also need to print out some good info I found at SeatGuru.com on the best (or at least the not-worst) seats for some of the flights I’ll be on. Oh yeah, and pack, and try on my suit before packing it as well.

Gahh. Time to rest my eyes a bit…

I seem to have misplaced my motivation

The biggest problem with a sudden spate of great news (like I had earlier this week) is that there’s quite a letdown afterwards when you realize that’s all you get. It’s that feeling kids get after they’ve unwrapped the last Christmas present and realize there’s no more…

Anyway, Brophey and Rasslor are coming up tonight to possibly do a bit of furniture shopping in High Point. One thing’s for sure: when they get here, there will be a gelato run! We’ll also be conducting a bit of con-related business when we accompany them shopping tomorrow – hopefully that will garner more good stuff for MFF.

Theoretically, I’m supposed to be cleaning up the place today, but I just can’t seem to get motivated. At least the laundry and making the beds is out of the way. Well, there’s always LiveJournal for procrastination. I should go down and start dusting and cleaning the counters, then it’s on to sweeping and vacuuming, what fun! Domesticity isn’t pretty, but I’d rather live in a clean(er) house! And with that, it’s off to clean, yay.

The itinerary

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Depart RDU @ 12:20 PM (one stop at CLT)
Arrive ORD @ 3:13 PM

Friday
Interview begins at 9 AM
Western Suburbs Dinner at 8 PM at The Curragh, Schaumburg, IL

Saturday
No plans yet. This is sure to change 🙂

Sunday
Depart ORD @ 10:00 AM (one stop at DCA)
Arrive RDU @ 3:20 PM

I need to get the other company on the phone and see about making plans for them to fly me up as well.

A couple of random items

First off, how could Food Network start a new season of A Cook’s Tour and not tell me? Bastards! It looks like they’re on episode 7 this week (9:30 PM EDT on 6/13) – should be amusing: “Kansas City, Houston, North Carolina: The BBQ Triangle”

I just tried Lochjournal after a year and a half of using Semagic. The spell checking of Lochjournal was really crappy; Semagic invokes MS Word and uses Word’s spellchecker, which is fine if a little clunky sometimes. It’s certainly more robust than the one that comes with Lochjournal, so on that basis alone Lochjournal gets the boot.

Finally, check out the latest in electronic gadgets, circa 1983!
Laptops/PCs: GRiD Compass 1101
First clamshell laptop computer. The Compass has a black magnesium alloy case, a gas plasma display, 384KB of memory, and for hacking while on the road, a lightning-fast 1200bps internal modem.

Why do I see this as something posicat will enjoy? 🙂

I seem to have a trick knee

First it hurts like hell all weekend, now it feels fine come Monday. Neat trick, huh? Go figure. Well, I’ll skip the doctor visit this time, but next time it flares up I’m definitely going to have it looked at.

Not too much going on today, just bumming around the house. Got my prescriptions taken care of – Aetna will definitely not cover Nexium, but my doctor switched it to Aciphex, which is fine by me as long as it works. I’m getting him to write the prescription for 90 days as opposed to 30 days + 2 refills because I’d rather a co-pay of $60 for 90 days’ supply than $30 for 30 days’. Not that you cared, but hey, it’s what’s occupying me these days.

The receptionist where Dan works didn’t show up to work today, and after a bit of a runaround it finally appeared she didn’t care for the assignment. So she’s gone – that’s six receptionists in six weeks. Very impressive. I even volunteered to do the job temporarily (hey, $7/hour > $0/hour, and my unemployment benefits run out this week), but it was decided that if they didn’t get someone into the position permanently, they may lose the position completely due to cost-cutting measures at home office. This raises an interesting possibility: I may investigate temp agencies next week (assuming I don’t hear from GLCC) to see if I can get some short-term assignments. I’d be ridiculously overqualified (yeah, I have a masters in chemical engineering), but I can answer phones and type reasonably fast with the best of them and I can make any Microsoft Office application jump up and do whatever I tell it to. I think it’s probably a low-probability source of income, but it doesn’t hurt to try and it beats sitting around the house all day.

Recaps, we’ve got recaps!

So, Friday found me out geocaching again, trying to find that furshlugginer cache that continues to elude me (no link because geocaching.org seems to be down). As I was wandering about in the woods, my cell phone rings. It’s a recruiter: would I be available for a phone interview in three hours. Oh hell yeah! So I rushed home, printed out a copy of my resume, as well as the detailed two-page (!) job description and a copy of my notes from an earlier discussion with the recruiter. This one’s a doozy – a job in the pilot plant of Great Lakes Chemical Company, in Lafayette, Indiana. Oh man, I’d be all over that! It’s a perfect location for us – rural, which Dan likes, reasonably close to cities, which I like, and close to Chicago, which we both like.

So I chatted with the guy from GLCC for about 40 minutes, and I think we established a pretty good rapport. He stressed that they’re early on in the process and he had more candidates to talk to so he couldn’t start talking about invitations to visit or anything (if fact, I’ll bet I was the first candidate he talked to), but I think my chances are still pretty good. I should hear something within the next week or so. This would be a great job, a great location, and great pay. Keep your paws crossed!

I was riding on a high after that, so I was quite happy when we got an invite from me_not_you to join him and wildmouse for dinner Friday night. The reason for the occasion was Janelle’s final day of the school year – she’s a counselor at a local public high school, and really busts her butt yet receives very little recognition. It was definitely a reason to celebrate (we’ll celebrate more later this week with a shopping trip for Joseph Schmidt truffles and some tasty champagne!). We went to Biaggi’s, which was OK – think Olive Garden’s food in a better setting and slightly more expensive and you’ll be pretty close. We made it an early night, since Takaza had gotten up ridiculously early. Seeing him standing over me wide awake, showered, and bouncy at 6 AM was a truly surreal experience 🙂

Saturday was a downer. We were going to catch a canine Frisbee competition, but it was drizzly all morning and when we went to check it out, they had cancelled it due to rain. Argh! So we went and got breakfast, then bummed around the house for the rest of the day and watched accumulated TiVo goodness. Donald ICQ’d and suggested dinner, so we invited them over. I threw together a quick marinade and tossed a cut-up chicken into it ((canola oil, white wine vinegar, marjoram, shallots, garlic – no salt since the chicken was already brined), Dan, made some delicious mashed potatoes, and I steamed some green beans – simple, but yummy. For dessert, it was a run through a torrential downpour to Silvia D’Italia’s for gelato.

Today was even lazier. Watched some TiVo (highlights from about 8 Great Chefs of the World and learning to make sushi on East Meets West), went to the grocery store for the week’s shopping, and then watched some more TiVo (A couple of eps of Insomniac, as well a couple of Ground Forces). I grilled up some burgers and our roommate joined us for dinner, and Dan made some tasty cinnamon chip scones. A nice evening all around.

Two down notes from the weekend: First off, starting Thursday night my right knee started hurting. It got progressively worse until by Friday night I could barely move it. It’s gotten a little better – as long as I keep moving it, I can walk and get around through the soreness, but if I stop and sit for a while, moving it again it torture. I plan to see the doctor about it tomorrow.

Second, word on the CarolinaFurs mailing list is that Perro‘s apartment flooded last night in the midst of all the rains that swept through the area. Apparently his rug is soggy, but at least got back power early this afternoon. He got off lucky, because apparently the buildings in his complex (which are presumably further downhill) will have to be demolished. Our thoughts are with ya, mutt, and let us know if there’s anything we can do to help!

On Geocaching

A couple of folks have pointed out this story which was discussed on Slashdot yesterday. It’s old news, really – current policy for the North Carolina state parks system is that while caches are discouraged (virtual caches are preferred), caches can be placed in a park for up to three months if a $25 fee is paid. The reasoning for this is valid, in my opinion – I have seen places where a path has been work to caches placed off-trail, and a lot of the local vegetation has been disturbed. (OK, the bit about caches having “inappropriate or dangerous items” is a load of crap, though, considering the typical cache contains stuff on the order of toys you’d get in a Happy Meal)

I think there’s a right way and a wrong way to post a cache clue and to place a cache. If placing a cache in the woods, the right way is to put it somewhat near the trail, in a location that will not lead to too much disruption of the natural area. This is an example of a bad cache placement – the cache was hidden in a depression in the ground, under some leaves. This led to lots of tramping around the area, poking into holes with sticks, and pretty much as much disruption as you can imagine.

Geocaching is a lot of fun, but it needs to be done right. “Cache in, trash out” is a good code to follow (pick up trash on your way out), and be aware of where you’re walking. If it looks like getting to a cache might cause damage to the local ecosystem, skip it, and note it on the website – maybe this will drive the cache owner to place it in a less damaging location.