Monthly Archives: August 2003

Meetings and pictures

Well, the meeting with the professors at NC State yesterday netted me a big ol’ bag of nothing. Well, maybe that’s overstating things. If nothing else, it’s contacts, and networking is always a Good Thing. Plus, one of them might have some small projects (10 hours total?) in a month or so. I’m dreadfully overqualified for them, but that just means he’s sure the finished product will be good. And I’d get paid – hey, that’s always a nice thing.

Stopped by to look at the Saturn as it sits in the repair shop’s parking lot. You know, it doesn’t look like $4,300 worth of damage, but what do I know?
Here’s some pictures of the damage

Because rigelkitty reminded me: The Friday Five

1. Are you going to school this year?
Oddly enough, yes. After graduating from college with a Master’s degree eight years ago, I’m back taking classes, though not technically for credit.

2. If yes, where are you going (high school, college, etc.)? If no, when did you graduate?
The classes are from NC State’s Food Sciences program and are part of a battery of food safety training courses. Previously, I graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering in 1991 and from Virginia Tech with a Masters in Chemical Engineering in 1995.

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects?
Probably “The Rise of Rome,” taken in my freshman year when I attended Tulane University. It was a case of having a professor who was brilliant in making the material come alive and I enjoyed the class immensely. In my field, the Unit Operations Lab that I took over the summer while I was at Clemson was probably the hardest, most demanding class I ever had, and by far the most rewarding in preparing me for working in industry.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects?
Anything taught by Bud Rice in the Chemical Engineering department at Clemson. Not a particularly nice guy, and an absolutely horrible teacher. And naturally, I had him for five semesters running.

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite?
Garth Wilkes (Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech) does a good job at taking an immensely complex subject, polymer science, and making it understandable. Plus, he’s a pretty nice guy, which helps.

So, what’s going on?

Well, we got some good news yesterday. The other insurance company looked at the Saturn and is cutting us a check for the repairs – to the tune of $4,000+ dollars. Honestly, I’m not sure what they’re using as a value, but I would think that’s pushing the “let’s just total it” amount. I’m sure not going to complain, though! We’re going to have it towed over to the body shop today, get them a copy of the estimate (get a copy o the estimate ourselves, as well!) and see what we can do to get this show on the road.

Been a busy couple of days. The classes I’m taking now are interesting – a lot of information on food sanitation in food processing plants, standard operating procedures, and the like. I may or may not ever actually put this stuff to good use, but it’s useful and good to know regardless. Lots of reading involved in the these courses so far, though; the web is a wonderful thing, but the drawback is that it makes it easier to lose track of the scale of the readings. One of the classes had about 300 pages of “required reading” for the first assignment, most of it federal regulations. Gah!

This afternoon I have an appointment with a couple of professors in the NC State Food Sciences department to discuss the possibility of doing some work for them. It would pay about half of what I used to make, but at this point any income is good income. The only question is if we can set it up on a month-to-month basis, something that the NC State employment system doesn’t deal with too well. We’ll see how this works out.

So, the plan right now is that on Sunday morning I’m going to hop in the car at ohmygod O’clock and hit the road for Chicago. This should get me to rustitobuck‘s around 7-ish, probably. We’re going to get a few folks together on Monday to hang out, maybe see a bit of the town, and just enjoy the company (interested in joining us? Let me know!). Hazy plans for the week include driving out to Schaumburg with Barbarian and Chouette to scout new restaurants for the MFF Restaurant Guide, and making a trip to Boystown with Partran. Oh, and of course, dinner and a play on Friday night. I’m a bit concerned – I have all of seven RSVP’s so far, and the minimum number for Giordano’s is thirty. I expect things will pick up next week when I re-post the announcement, though – right now everyone’s focusing on Labor Day activities or Mephit Furmeet.

Speaking of MFM, I admit I have this ridiculous urge to jump in the car a couple of days early and make a 9-hour detour to Memphis. Of course, the lack of a hotel room and the additional gas and dining costs make this a Bad Idea, but hey, it would be fun.

Well, that really sucked

As takaza mentioned in his journal, he was in a car accident today. He’s fine except for a bit of a headache, but the Saturn is sitting in the towing lot – the front corner on the driver’s side is crunched in, the headlight’s shattered, and the frame in that corner may be bent. There’s no question that the other guy was at fault, and his insurance company is going to pay for the damages and the rental car. My only worry is that the repairs be expensive enough that they’ll want to total the car (the Blue Book value on the care is only $5,150). We’ll have to see what the appraiser has to say next week.

But you know what? In the end, the car isn’t what matters. The car is just stuff. What really matters is Dan is OK. I love him so much, and I would do anything and be anywhere for him. This just reminded me of how important he is in my life. I’m so very, very lucky.

Did you ever notice…

Did you ever notice that when things worth writing about in your LJ are happening, there’s no time to write about it in your LJ? That kind of describes the past few days for me.

Over the weekend, we were graced by the company of zenwolph, perro, pandaguy, brophey, and rasslor. We hit the high points from past parties – Carolina Brewing Company, the NC State Farmers Market, and a new addition – Silvia d’Italia Gelato Cafe. In between all that we had some good food, some nice relaxing downtime, and the funniest game of CatchPhrase I’ve ever been a part of. It was a lovely weekend, and I’m very glad everyone could make it. I’m looking ahead to October and the North Carolina State Fair – if we’re still around, that might be a good opportunity to get some folks together. We’ll keep folks up to date as plans evolve.

The bummer of the weekend was Brophey’s car problems. Everything was fine until Sunday, when the car just wouldn’t start. They stuck around Sunday night and had the car towed to the dealership. The dealership, unfortunately, took a while figuring out what was wrong, and when they finally did they had to go hunting for the part. This meant another night in Raleigh for Brophey and Rasslor. It sucked, but at least the company was good – dinners at Dakota Grill and Outback were enjoyed. They finally got the car fixed and the wolf and the bear got on the road around 2:30 PM Tuesday.

Tuesday night, Takaza and I mainly just sat and watched TiVo. Very nice, very relaxing.

Today, well it’s been a bit crazy. After a morning spent doing the usual job hunting, I got a call from a recruiter. Unfortunately, it was for a company that I interviewed with back in October of last year. Nuts. Then it was off to run some errands – a bit of shopping at Target and Kohl’s, and then grocery shopping. Oh yeah, and one more minor thing: I stopped by North Carolina State University to register for some classes.

Yes, I registered for three classes at NC State, part of the HACCP Coordinator training (FACCP = Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) – Intro to HACCP, Good Manufacturing Practices, and Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures. The nice thing is that they are Internet classes, designed so that I really never even have to go on campus if need be. If I get a job and have to move, it’s not a problem. With any luck, this might be a foot in the door into the pharmaceutical or food engineering fields. I’ll write more about this later – time to go to work on dinner!

And then there’s the Friday Five

1. How much time do you spend online each day?
Wow. It’s sad to say, but probably about six to eight hours.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?
Blank. I hate having to wait for something to load up every time I start the damn program.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?
Trillian, baby! I use it for ICQ, AIM, and Yahoo.

4. Where was your first webpage located?
Wow, that’s a long time ago. That would be http://duncan.bevc.blacksburg.va.us (inactive) – it’s an address that might mean something to former Virginia Tech people – it was when I was going to Tech and got to use part of the Blacksburg Electronic Village, which put ethernet directly into my apartment. This was in 1994, I believe.

5. How long have you had your current website?
Although the format and content have changed over the years, I’ve had a website up continuously since ’94 – first at the above site then when I graduated in 1995 I moved them to their present location at http://www.technomancer.com/~duncan. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but for several years, my Coming Out and Being Visible page was at the top of the list of Yahoo! pages for “Coming Out” and generated a lot of traffic. Nowadays it seems that most of my traffic is generated by web searches for “Tom Brady.” Heh. Aren’t they in for a surprise?

Chapter XXVI: Wherein plans doth come about and excitement is expressed

Whee! It looks like we’re a go for September’s trip up to Chicago. We’ll be up for the Midwest Furfest board and staff meetings. takaza and I will be traveling separately since he only has a few days of vacation to work with and I, well, let’s just say I’ve got a lot of flexibility. Here’s the current plans:

Takaza flies up the night of Thursday, 9/4 and flies home the afternoon on Monday, 9/8. I will be driving up solo (yay) earlier and sticking around somewhat later. I was thinking about driving up on Monday, 9/1 until I realized that’s Labor Day and everyone will be on the road on their way home from whatever vacation they were taking. So I might be up Sunday the 31st instead, depending on how that works out for my gracious host. I’ll be heading home most likely on Tuesday the 9th, but if any MFF-related projects come up I can stick around longer. And who knows, I might even stop by and see some folks downstate on the drive home…

Gearing up for a fun weekend – got folks coming in tonight from all over. We don’t have a lot of plans (as usual) but it’ll be fun to just hang out. If nothing else, brophey is bringing his DDR pad so maybe I can practice a bit without feeling like a complete fool like I do in arcades. Hmm, maybe we’ll hit Carolina Brewing Company’s tour again – good beer! Meanwhile, I’ve got a lot of cleaning to do today, and some grocery shopping as well. Fun fun!

Interesting…

There’s something profound here about the nature of furry, the lure of anthropomorphism. This is from an interview with Disney animator Andreas Deja, from the Los Angeles Zoo View:

For the 1994 film The Lion King, Deja was assigned Scar, the villainous uncle to the adorable lion cub, Simba. “We start out drawing a lot of lions as we see them, and then add human elements to it. I had Jeremy Irons to work with, who did the voice of Scar. The dark eyes, dark rings on his eyes, the way his mouth is shaped, the nose, the thin upper lip–I was able to incorporate some of that into Scar.” He did it well enough that when he first showed Irons video of Scar, Deja says the actor touched his own mouth and said, “My God, he looks like me!”

Interview courtesy of Animated Movies

Busybusybusy

Spending the day doing a lot of puttering.
– Kicked off planning for the entertainment this weekend. Whee! We’re gonna have some fun.

– Did the usual morning browse of the job boards, applied to a couple of jobs, but not a lot out there at the moment. Heard back that a possibility that had popped up in State College, PA isn’t going to happen (and that’s just fine by me).

– Called about the food safety classes at NC State – it may still be possible for me to get in this semester, though it’ll be a good-sized whack to our finances. Still waiting to hear back from them. One nice thing – since it’s Internet-based, if we suddenly move I can still continue to take the classes. Also put in a call to a pharmaceuticals industry contact to see what credentials I need to break into food/pharmaceuticals.

– Baking a nice tomato tart for appetizers tonight. Puff pastry baked with Parmesan cheese, cooled, then mozzarella and Roma tomatoes are layered on top and the tomatoes are brushed with garlic oil. It smells just fabulous in the oven and I’m sure it’ll be tasty.

– Finally got the Midwest Furry Fandom Corporate web pages up (geeze, that took forever). There’s not a lot up there right now, but once we get the financial reports and the by-laws worked out it’ll be a good repository for them.

– Still need to do some minor fixes on the MFF website – add charity info, etc. I’ll do that once the tart is out of the oven.

– Making a tasty dinner of chicken and rice tonight. It’ll have to be fast because we’re gaming tonight over at Thomas and Sherry’s. Yay, umbral surfing!

Games? What are those?

I love all of our friends here in the Triangle (or “The Gang” as we and our mailing list refer to us), but we seem to have this problem: when we schedule a Game Night (i.e. board games, CatchPhrase, etc.) we never actually get around to playing the darn games. That’s OK, though, because the company and conversation is good. Last night, me_not_you, wildmouse, thebroomecloset, and Thomas and Sherry came over and we cooked up some burgers and had other yummy stuff. I tried making hamburger buns for the first time and I can safely say that while they were quite tasty they were not worth the 3+ hours it took to make them.

So, what else is going on? Not much. The job possibility I had Northlake, IL has gone down the drain (not a big surprise), and the one in Cleveland is fading as they seem to have settled on a candidate. So I keep looking through all the usual places. Of late it seems like there are even fewer jobs for me to apply to – lots of possibilities in pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and continuous film processes, though, none of which I qualify for. Gnar. I have a recruiter who’s trying to shop my resume to a company in Elgin, IL, which would be nice, but apparently they don’t have any openings, just “would be interested if the right resume crossed their desk”. You’ll excuse me if I file that one as a low probability too.

I found out yesterday that plans for the get-together in South Carolina on the weekend of the 16th aren’t going to work out, so we’re rethinking things. Maybe we’ll get some folks together here in Apex? It’s a bit more convenient for some (sorry Rasslor and Brophey). Not sure what we’ll do, maybe just hang out, eat some good food, and hit a couple of places in the Triangle. Low-key sort of stuff. We’ll be in touch with folks to make plans.

Finally, we’re slowly doing our part to become part of the digital age and as of today we have test messaging on our cell phones! Yay! You can use LiveJournal’s thingy (Friends only, sorry) or send a (short, less than 987 characters – signature counts!) e-mail to [my cell phone number]@messaging.sprintpcs.com. Oh, and if you see me online on AIM (duncanhusky), it’s probably from my cell phone. @whee!

Baaaaa, to you too, Mirko!

1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings?
6:00 AM. Well, the radio turns on at 6 AM. We listen to the national headlines from our good buddy Carl Kassel, then when they start in on local headlines that’s the signal to drag our butts out of bed.

2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late?
I wish I could! I’m almost always awake before 8 AM.

3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning?
Take a leak. Then I wander into the office and pick up my laptop 🙂

4. How long does it take to get ready for your day?
If I’m in a hurry? 30 minutes or less. On a typical day? Um, I might shower before noon 🙂

5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast?
Dallas’ Chicken and Biscuits. Best damn chicken biscuits in the area – they fry up a chicken breast, pull the meat right off the bone and slap it on a nice, fluffy biscuit. Yum!

Friday fun!

Things started on an off note this morning when Takaza wasn’t feeling well. Instead of going to work he headed back to bed for a few hours to see if he would feel better with a bit more sleep. This indeed helped, and by 10:30 or so he was feeling good enough to consider heading in to work. I got a phone call from wildmouse asking if I wanted to join her, me_not_you, vileone, thebroomecloset, ovrclockd, and some other folks from Cisco for lunch at Allen & Sons, reputedly the best barbeque joint in the area. Takaza was sweet enough to hang around to wait for the A/C guy to show up while I showered and dashed out the door to pick up Janelle. On the 40-minute drive to the restaurant, I was treated to dazzling descriptions of how good their hush puppies are, how the banana pudding is to die for, how the ‘cue is wonderfully smoky and great even without any sauce. We pull into the parking lot to find…it’s empty. Turns out, they’re closed between 7/20 and 8/4 for vacation. Well, phooey.

We stuck around for about 20 minutes waiting for everyone else to show up and make plans, then Janelle, Donald, Rob, and me headed over to The Streets at Southpoint and got lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (OK food, though the shrimp spring rolls were less a delicate collection of flavors and more like a train wreck of cilantro and sweet sesame-ginger sauce). After lunch we stopped at Rocky Mountain Spotted Chocolate Factory to get some goodies to take to Dan: a chocolate cheesecake apple (apple dipped in white chocolate, graham crackers, and drizzled with milk chocolate) and a couple of chocolate-dipped pretzels.

We dropped the goodies off at Dan’s work (and met some of his co-workers, nice folks), then made one more stop before going home: The Flour Shop, a nice little bakery. Janelle picked up a hazelnut torte for tonight, as well as two small tortes: peanut butter-chocolate, and a combination white chocolate/milk chocolate mousse. Nummy!

So, plans for the weekend: Not a lot, yay! We’re going to stay away from stores as much as possible because this is the annual Sales Tax Holiday Weekend, though we had kicked around the possibility of going to a computer show to price out cheap laptops for MFF registration (no, we’re not budgeted for any, I’m just curious what we might be looking at).