Monthly Archives: September 2004

All Work And No Play Make Duncan Something Something

So, what the heck is going on in my life?

Well, here’s the deal.

First off, thanks to everyone who sent congratulations on Thursday. It’s much appreciated!

A quick recap of the weekend: Saturday – Frys, Sam’s Wine and Liquors, Caipirinhas, Brats, good company. Sunday: MFF Staff Meeting, dinner with friends, early bedtime.

On Monday I started work at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, IL. I’m working in the Pharmaceutical Products Division (makers of Clear Eyes, Norvir, and other pharmaceutical goodness) as a Validation Engineer. It seems to be a pretty good gig, though the 60-80 minute commute each way is gonna wear on me. Right now I’m crashing at Linnaeus‘s place and enjoying the excellent company.

If it wasn’t clear from my last post, there’s a downside to this arrangement: Takaza is still back in North Carolina, and he’ll be staying there until he can transfer to a position somewhere in the Chicago area. I can’t begin to describe how much this sucks. But we’ll ride this out, and he’s got a line on some possibilities already. With luck, this separation will be brief and I can be back with my wuff soon.

To top things off, we need to move our stuff to thebroomecloset and ovrclokd‘s old place in Durham the weekend of October 8th. I’ll be flying down that weekend to join in the fun (nothing like starting the money coming in then sending it right back out!).

And now I’m going to space out before heading off to bed.

Midwest FurFest: The End Is Near!

The end is near!

Well, the end of cheap pre-registration for Midwest FurFest 2004, anyway. Yes, after September 30 pre-registration jumps from $30 to $40, so if you’re going to pre-register, now is the time to do it!

Speaking purely hypothetically, since I’m sure you’re rushing to register right now, if you don’t pre-register by September 30, does that mean you can’t attend the convention?

Of course not! We will continue to accept mail-in registrations until November 1 and online registrations until November 13. And you can always just come to the convention and register at the door. But if you want to pre-register and save ten bucks, well, you’ll have to do it by Thursday, September 30! And just think of what you can buy in the Dealers Room with the ten bucks you’ve saved. Or in the Artists Alley. Or that’s ten bucks that you could donate to our charity, Furry Friends Foundation. Heck, you could even walk to one of the many nearby restaurants and get a meal with that ten bucks. So pre-register now and make your plans on how to best spend the ten dollars that you so wisely saved!

Online registration and mail-in forms are available at http://www.furfest.org/registration

Whiling away the time

So, last night was quite lovely. Linnaeus returned from his long northward sojourn, and datahawk and posi_cat came over for dinner. We ordered some tasty pizza from Leona’s (and of course, some Twinkie-sized cheese sticks!) and watched the finale to The Amazing Race. I won’t go into any spoilers except to say this is one of the most satisfying race finishes I’ve seen in the five seasons we’ve been watching the show.

I got word from one of my references yesterday that he received a voice mail from the person I interviewed with earlier this week at Abbott. I’m taking this as a good sign. He’s going to call her back today (with an excellent reference), so we’ll see what happens. I also have a phone interview this afternoon with the company out in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, Illinois. Hey, if it could lead to a well-paying, permanent position I’d gladly consider it. Still waiting to hear back on the Gastonia position, too.

Meanwhile, back in North Carolina, life is interesting for takaza. The good news is that it appears that we’ve got a good short-term solution thanks to thebroomeclosetMike and ovrclokdLisa (y’all are awesome!). It saves us a little bit of money monthly, though hopefully that will just be a month or two until Dan can transfer to a position up in the Chicago area. It sounds like things are moving along on the moving-out front, and friends have been volunteering to assist with that process. I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to make it back to help. This sucks, but we have to do what we can afford (and, if I’m working, what time I can or can’t get off from work. “Gee, boss, can I take a few days off?” = Bad way to start a new job).

So now we’re into the downhill slide to the weekend. Besides the phone interview this afternoon, I hope to swing by an art supply store and pick up the remaining easels I need to buy for MFF. Mirkowuff, I’m gonna have a pile of receipts for you this weekend! Tomorrow, Dan flies in and we’ll be hanging out with a ferenGin-Soaked Panther all weekend. Got the staff meeting on Sunday, which should be good. We’re getting a lot of stuff done, and there’s always more to do!

Well, off to go shower and start the day. Yay!

…And then things changed

Well!

Yesterday was interesting. First off, the Gastonia job: I called the recruiter, and well, he hasn’t had a lot of luck. I interviewed the Monday before Labor Day; the HR rep left for maternity leave the Friday afterwards. Ever since then, the recruiter hasn’t had any luck contacting anyone at the plant or getting them to return his calls about this position. I gave him the names of the two people this position would report to, one of whom had told me he would be taking over the hiring process – both of these names were new to him. Sheesh. This doesn’t reflect poorly on the job, necessarily, but I’m not particularly impressed with this recruiter. So that’s currently up in the air.

I called to check on the Abbott position again. The guy there is still interviewing people (I think he’s been through ten or twelve candidates so far). This does not inspire confidence, and it tells me that the probabilities of that one are diminishing. As I was afraid would happen, the recruiter indicated that the client probably thought I was overqualified for the position. I technically am, but at the same time it would be a good return to chemical engineering fundamentals. On the bright side, the recruiter got an interview for another position for me. Yay! The interview is on Tuesday, September 21, at 3 PM.

And so it looks again like I’ll be driving up to Chicago. And since it would be stupid to turn around and come home when the MFF staff meeting is on the 26th, I’ll be sticking around for that. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for jobs and trying to nail down something. Current plans are that I might be driving up on Sunday, though a lot depends on where Ivan tracks – right now it’s forecast to advance to the southern Appalachians and just sit there through Monday, so that would make the first 6-or-so hours of driving extremely unpleasant. Hmm, if only I knew a couple of foxes who lived along the way so I could break the trip up. Whoever would that be, I wonder? (Hey, aerofox or loriana – gimme a shout and let me know if you already have plans for this weekend. I’m assuming that your bright.net addresses no longer apply. I can drive straight through if need be, but with the slowdown from the rain, well, it’s not my first choice.)

I need to fire off an e-mail to my contact at Corn Products and let him know I’ll be available for an interview next week or the one after, too. Off to be useful…

Geeknotes

A couple of geeky things for folks this morning:
First off, there’s a new Windows vulnerability. Yay. This one’s kinda nasty – it’s a security hole in JPEG image files, and it affects Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Office XP, Office 2003, Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, Project, Visio, Picture It and Digital Image Pro. Anyone who’s already installed Service Pack 2 is OK, but for the rest of us who are too cautious/just waiting/don’t want the hassle, here’s Microsoft’s site on the vulnerability and how to patch it.

Next up, a note to T-Mobile Sidekick owners: that trade-in for $100 credit on a new SK2? Yeah, they’re having a few problems with it. Apparently, it’s still on, but they are completely swamped. Just an FYI.

And finally, something non-geeky for the rest of us: ZOMBIE CAKE! (link cribbed from lokilinks, a collection of fun links that I picked up yesterday)

Mmm, beer

So, I’m sitting in me_not_youDonald‘s garage right now, working on my latest creation, a Mackeson’s XXX Stout clone. Donald, wildmouseJanelle, takazaDan, and I went to out local homebrew supply store yesterday, and while I picked up supplies for this batch and my next one (a McEwan’s Scotch ale clone), Donald and Janelle decided to upgrade to the Cadillac of brewing equipment: a nice 60-quart brew pot, with built-in thermometer and spigot. Add to this a nice wort chiller and a couple of other items, well, that’s why we’re brewing at his house today 🙂 I’m all jealous, I might add, but I really appreciate his sharing his equipment. Pictures should come later, once Dan arrives with the digital camera.

So, after homebrew supply shopping yesterday, Dan, Janelle, and I went over to Thomas and scarlett_fireSherry‘s place. We were joined by Rich and had an enjoyable evening playing a bit of poker, followed by a rousing game of Dork Tower. Much fun was had, and we packed it in around 11:30.

And today, we brew. Well, for now, anyway. After this batch, we’re going to make a Guinness clone for Donald, then the Scotch ale will come later this week. And of course the MFF staff meeting tonight. Busy busy busy!

Another quiet week. That sucks. Still waiting to hear back on the Gastonia job, as well as the position at Abbott. Apparently, the story on the latter position is that the guy is interviewing a crazy number of people for it – wants to be sure he gets right one, I guess. The recruiter has also submitted my resume for another validation position with Abbott. We’ll see if they want to interview me or what.

Having a bunch of folks over for dinner tonight, so I’m doing my usual thing to distract myself: cook 🙂 On the menu for tonight is Boeuf Bourguignon, as well as a simpler beef stew for folks that aren’t big fans of wine or mushrooms. There’s rumors of brownies for dessert, and I’m sure that Donald will be supplying some tasty wine. I had to pick up a Dutch oven, but it’s been something I’ve been wanting for quite a while – more stews for the winter, yay!

Not a lot planned for the weekend, except that we need to clear out by 11 AM tomorrow so they can show the house. Dan’s a bit grumpy, as this means an early wake-up for him, but I suggested we make use of the time to do…something. We’ll see what comes of that. Other than that, there’s the MFF staff meeting online on Sunday, and that’s about it. Crunch time is on the horizon!

Edit: Just got a phone call from Corn Products – they’re interested in possibly setting up an interview. Yeah! That was a call I was definitely waiting for. We’ll see when they want to do it; I mentioned I would already be up there at the end of the month.

And also…

After the Puzzle Party on Monday, we drove over to Brier Creek and saw Garden State. This is Zach Braff’s new movie (he stars in “Scrubs”), which he wrote, directed, and starred in. I have to say, I thought it was a genuinely outstanding and convincing movie. It’s frustrating the way Braff underplays his role early in the movie, then you learn that there’s a very good reason for it.

This isn’t one of those epic, globe- and time-spanning stories, this is an almost-claustrophobic view into a few days of one man’s life, and that takes some getting used to after some of the summer blockbusters drek I’ve seen lately. I can’t say it had quite the resonance for me that kittylad found in it, but at the same time I can see why he would feel that way. I left feeling like I had seen an excellent story played out by excellent actors who immersed themselves in their roles. Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, and Natalie Portman (!) all were fabulous. I need that soundtrack, too.

You really should see this movie. Interestingly, a lot of other people feel the same way. Wow. That’s pretty damn cool.

Incidentally, be sure to check out Zach Braff’s weblog -fun stuff!

It’s Puzzlicious!

Saturday and Sunday were pretty dull, unfortunately. We didn’t get too much done around the house, though we did get a start on bringing boxes up from the basement and going through them. We sorted through five partially-filled boxes of kitchen equipment, threw out the stuff we didn’t want/need any more, and reduced that down to two boxes. There’s a lot more of that sort of thing to be done, including several bags to be prepared for Goodwill.

On Monday, though, we finally got some motivation into ourselves and headed out to the News and Observer’s Downtown Puzzle Party in Raleigh. The weather was pretty spotty – on-again, off-again rain, which is never fun. We braved it, though, along with about 400 other people. The idea was that you would visit four locations throughout downtown Raleigh (the clues to which were given in the newspaper earlier in the week). In reality, it wasn’t that hard, since they advised that everyone visit the locations in order. This meant that even if you had no idea what the clues were, you could just follow the mob. That was kind of a bummer, but oh well.

The first clue was a couple of street preachers extolling the virtues of suffering to get what you desire. They cited Job, Chapter 8, verses 3 through 6 repeatedly. Hmm. OK. Is it a cryptogram? We puzzled over it a bit while heading over to the second location.

There, we found a couple debating what shows to see. They mentioned Broadway Series South prominently, that he liked shows about death while she liked perky shows about rainbows. As this was going on, a homeless guy behind them held a sign that said, “Please Help” and kept asking for $2.88 for bus fare. Takaza started to piece it together at this point – I admit I was still mystified.

At the third location, a duo on guitar and bass played a cover of Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young” while a chalk artist drew pictures on the sidewalk in front of them – five stick-figures, five suns, five hearts. When they were done, they talked about how they really wished they had more people – a quintet, even. Dan had a pretty good idea of what the answer was at this point, but I was withholding judgment until we hit the fourth location.

At the final location, we found a mother who was trying to get her son to call her on the phone. She kept telling him that the last number of the phone number was five, and stressed that he really needed to call her more often. That confirmed to us that Dan had the right answer.

So, what was the answer, and what was the outcome?

Gmail Invite – who wants?

I seem to have six Gmail invitations. Comment here with your e-mail address or e-mail me and let me know if you’d like a Gmail account (though it looks like they seem to be flooding the market a bit).

Update – All gone, folks! Sorry. I’ll post again when I have more.