Monthly Archives: August 2005

Down in the Delta

Something that some folks may not know about me: after high school (so long ago, in 1986), I didn’t want to just move on to Clemson University. At that time, it just seemed that all of the people I knew from my high school in Anderson, SC (15 miles south of Clemson) were going there, so I was afraid it would just be high school writ large. No, I wanted broader horizons. I received a nice package of grants and loans from Tulane University in New Orleans, and that is where I went for my first year and a half of college. I have a lot of fond memories from there:
– The horrid freshman dorm. Fourth floor, Sharp Hall.
– Marginal improvement the next year, second floor, Butler Hall
– Sunday morning brunch in Bruff Commons (not good food, but pleasant at the time)
– Broadcasting the Global Folk Show on Sunday mornings on WTUL-FM
– Video production with TUVAC, producing a weekly issues discussion show for public access TV
– The massive toy-gun shootout that ranged the length and breadth of McAlister Auditorium
– Seeing Andreas Vollenweider, Bruce Hornsby, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hunter S. Thompson (the latter completely drunk out of his mind) at McAlister Auditorium
– Plum Street Snowball stand. That wasn’t a sno-cone, that was heaven.
– Audubon Park Zoo, right across St. Charles from Tulane
– Mardi Gras. Good gods, Mardi Gras.
– All the great music at the clubs: Beausoleil, File’ Cajun Band, The Godfathers…
– Fridays afternoons on the Quad. The Song Dogs, Harry Connick, Jr., Winter Hours, The Radiators…
– Working as a dispatcher/student marshal for Tulane Police. I saw every inch of that campus, and then some, and met some great people.
– Cafe du Monde, Dixie Beer, barbecued crawfish (suck the head and pinch the tail, y’all!), muffalettas, and po’boys

And now? Most, if not all of that is under water. Officially, Tulane University has said they won’t start classes until September 21, but I saw one blog that had a tip from a Tulane employee speculating that it may be next year before they can start classes again.

They’ll rebuild. There is no doubt in my mind. It won’t be the same, but that’s OK. Everything changes, and I’m sure very little was still the same from the last time I set foot in the city seventeen years ago. But I do believe they will come back, in time.

That’s in the future. For the present, there are millions of people that need help. They need your help. Stop what you’re doing and think: what if you had to leave, right now? What would you take? What would you leave behind? Where would you go? What if what you thought you could come back to was gone, obliterated?

Think about that. Then click on one of these links. Even if it’s just a few dollars, every little bit will help. The American Red Cross donation page (site is very slow). Americares donation page (small but very effective charity). Humane Society of the United States donation page (mounting a rescue effort for pets and caregivers). Or select some other charity that you prefer, but seriously: do something.

Home Again and Big Blows

So, back in Chicago. I had a lovely weekend at my parents’ in South Carolina. My dad is recovering well from all of the back surgeries and is up and about, walking (well, for short periods anyway) for the first time since April. Mom is holding up well too, though I hope my visit provided some short respite. I had a strange moment of deja vu as I drove to their house from the airport at 12:30 AM on Friday night, realizing that 20 years earlier, in 1985, I would have been driving that same road in my F-150, coming home from hanging out at friends on a Friday night. And it’s scary how little has changed in the last 20 years, at least out in the country where they live.

As with so many people, New Orleans is on my mind this morning. I admit that I’ve watched a lot of CNN and The Weather Channel over the last few days, remembering the times we’ve watched and waited in North Carolina, and remembering what it was like when Hurricane Fran hit in 1996. Fran was still a Category 3 hurricane when it blew between Raleigh and Durham, and the devastation was staggering. I can’t imagine living in an area below sea level and having a storm as strong or stronger coming through. My thoughts and hopes are with the people down there and especially those I know with family there – rustitobuck and genet. Here’s hoping everyone pulls through safely. And hey, goodluckfox – keep your head down and take care!

BoingBoing has some good links to blogs from folks down there. I’m keeping an eye on this one, written by a reporter holed up on the third floor of the Times-Picayune building.

“Play the one that goes deedly-deedly-deedly!”

I seem to be drifting a bit this morning, having trouble focusing on one project at any given time. I do hope this passes soon. Not that I have any huge plans for the day besides stopping at the grocery store for dinner, but it is a trifle disconcerting.

So on Saturday Dan and I drove up to Irishfest in Milwaukee. For all that it was their 25th anniversary and they brought back a lot of fine performers, I found the schedule strangely unappealing. The company was good, though, as we were joined by datahawk and linnaeus, and even briefly by roho‘s sort-of-cousin Laurie. I did get to see brief flashes of some excellent performers, but there was a lot of dreck there too; there’s only so many times I’m going to hear “Danny Boy” before I start wanting to beat someone with a mic stand.

While it was a pleasant surprise to see Schooner Fare there, that too was something of a letdown. I first saw them a good eighteen years ago, performing at Wolf Trap in Virginia. They were amazing, and a real treat to see live. To their credit, they’re still in fine voice after all these years, but one of their members passed away last year and as a duo they really lack of the punch they once had. We did see the majority of the performance by Wolfstone and as always their instrumentals far outshone their songs. I could rant about the annoying woman and her even more annoying child who were sitting next to me, but the less said about them the better.The joys of festival seating. Ugh. Dan and I packed it in at around 7 PM and went home and crashed.

Sunday was the August Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Planning continues apace, and the meeting went well. A lot of unresolved questions were answered, and we worked through some outstanding issues. Dinner afterwards at Fuddrucker’s was quite tasty, too! After dinner, Dan, Paul, and I drove to one of the possible hotels for an upcoming shindig and it looks like we might have a real winner. After a brief stop, we headed home and crashed for the evening.

More to write about, but it’s lunchtime now!

Addictions

giza seems to have gotten me addicted to WikiFur. I have to admit, I never really saw much use in wikis but I’m now starting to understand. This is a fun collaborative tool, and it lets you play at being both an author and an editor. Click on over and take a look – you may find that someone’s already written an entry about you 🙂

Sort of back and IRISHFEST!

Well, the good news is that they finally got the work computers back up. The bad news is that my laptop goes out today via FedEx so any computer access I have at home is on borrowed equipment. Safe to say, don’t look for me on ICQ or AIM anytime for the next week or so.

So this coming weekend is Irishfest in Milwaukee. I’m planning on heading up there on Saturday, leaving Chicago at around 10 or 10:30. Anyone interested in joining me, or meeting up at the Fest? Tickets are $12. I’ll be sticking around until at least 10 PM or so.

Home Early, But That’s Not Good

So, thanks to our good friend Zotob, I left work today at about 1 PM. Given that pretty much every single computer at my employer was affected and given that everything we do is based around writing and editing information that’s stored on the network, well, there hasn’t been much since all of the computers started shutting themselves down yesterday at about 1 PM. There were large signs everywhere and announcements this morning not to turn on your computer, and from the memo that was distributed at around lunch time, it doesn’t look like this is going to get fixed until at least late tomorrow or maybe Friday.

If I were a full-time employee, this would be great, but being a contractor, well, if I’m not there, I don’t get paid. I snuck out early anyway since I need to back up my laptop. Yes, I’m finally getting around to sending this thing in for repairs – it only took a month to get around to it 🙂 Anyway, I’ll make up the tie by going in early tomorrow and Friday, though I hope I can come up with stuff to do in the meantime.

Standard Weekend Recap #912

Saturday, the plans were simple: have lunch with Takaza‘s mother to belatedly celebrate her 60th birthday. As a gift we were going to add some components to her computer and get everything running again. Sounds simple, right? Heh heh heh…

First, there was a trip to Cyberexchange in Vernon Hills to get a CD-RW. We had an external CD-RW that Dan got for free from work but it was a USB-driven unit and Dan’s mom’s computer is an older box running Windows 98, therefore all it has is slow USB 1.1. The CD-RW’s they had in stock were too expensive and the owner was reluctant to take the CD-RW we had to trade (come to think of it, we still haven’t heard back on how much he’s willing to offer). Eh – we picked up a SoundBlaster Live card since her sound wasn’t working either and resolved to figure out a way to get Win 98 to recognize the CD-ROM that was already in the computer. We arrived only a little late at 2:30 PM and proceeded to spend the next four and a half hours banging our heads against the wall trying to get everything up and running. It was frustrating, but in the end we got everything working! Of course, the birthday lunch had now turned into a birthday dinner, but that was OK.

Dinner was at a little Italian joint between Crystal Lake and McHenry. The food was OK but clearly…well, would it be too snobbish to say “It was good for McHenry County”? After dinner we headed back home, with a quick stop at Culver’s. I had a taste for their lemon ice, but I was dismayed to find that they started making it with Splenda so now it has that nasty chemical aftertaste. Phooey! I settled for a concrete and we drove home, pausing briefly to admire the fireworks at Lakemoorfest on our way through the town.

Sunday, Dan wasn’t feeling well, having had a bad reaction to the previous night’s dinner (as had I, but that’s because I was stupid and forgot that I should always take an antacid before bed after a dinner that has tomato sauce). We got a late start, but Dan, Linnaeus, and I drove around the northwest suburbs scouting out hotels for an upcoming shindig. We found some good possibilities, but probably the most surreal moment was the tour of a certain hotel which shall remain nameless (hint: it rhymes with Schmingate Inn). The manager took great pride in his hotel, but there’s such a thing as too much pride. We got a tour of the rooms, a description of the granite countertops, assurances that the furniture was sturdy, Canadian-made stuff, and the many and varied television stations they carried. And to top it all of, after we mentioned we had stayed at a sister location a few miles down the road: “I don’t want to put them down or say we’re better than them. I mean, they’re friends of mine and we work together all the time. But we’re really a much better property.” Heh. Right. After that we retired back to the apartment and spent a relaxing evening watching Tivo and reading. And that was our exciting weekend, woo.

This week it looks like we’re going to have some company over for dinner on Thursday (hopefully), and maybe do some touring around the city on Friday afternoon/evening. Saturday is IrishFest (I’ll be posting more about that soon) and Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting at the Hyatt Woodfield. Lots to do!

Weekend Update to Come, But First…

Here’s a link especially for wildmouse:
Hershey to acquire Joseph Schmidt Confections Inc.

Oh dear. As Linnaeus said to me, if they’re smart they won’t tamper with J. Schmidt – that’s too good a thing to mess up! I’ll note that in the same article it’s mentioned that Hershey is also acquiring Scharffen-Berger. WTF? Are they out to destroy all good and tasty chocolate in the world?

A Pretty Good Week

It’s been a pretty good week. We got a new car, and he passed a huge hurdle once we got online registration up and running for MFF. Work has been steady and shows signs of getting even busier, which is not a bad thing.

The one down note was that my dad had to go back into the hospital Wednesday night because they found he was leaking cerebrospinal fluid – about 100-150 cc’s worth. Eek! The whole idea gives me the willies. The good news is that they were able to go in and fix the problem last night (there was a small laceration in the dura, or membrane around the spinal cord) They patched the hole with a surgical cyanoacrylate adhesive. Yep, super glue. Hmm, I wonder where that came from, eh, ladyinthetower? He’ll be in the hospital until Sunday, but I think that’s more to make sure that he stays flat on his back and doesn’t push himself quite as hard as he did initially after the surgery. Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated!

Tomorrow afternoon we’re off to the wilds of McHenry County once again to take takaza‘s mother to lunch for her 60th birthday. Sunday we’ll be gadding about Chicago on a top-secret mission! Woo!

Finally, and this is going to come a huge surprise to everyone, I know, but it’s true: Roger Ebert hated Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. But it sure makes for quite the entertaining review!

Midwest FurFest Announces Online Registration!

Midwest FurFest is happy to announce that online registration is now open!

Memberships are $30 until September 30, 2005, and $40 thereafter and at the door.

Sponsorships are only $100. And what do you get with your sponsorship? You get a free T-shirt, a print from our Guests of Honor, a limited-edition commemorative pin, a delicious brunch with our Guests of Honor, and a special surprise gift!

To register, simply point your browser to http://www.furfest.org/regindex.html and follow the link.

For more information about Midwest FurFest, visit our website at http://www.furfest.org

Announcement Number One

Well, I said I hoped to have a couple of good announcements this week, and here’s the first one:

New wheels for Duncan! Woohoo!

Yes, the 2001 Alero, lemon that it was, finally proved to be just too much aggravation. Takaza has had such good luck with his Element and I enjoyed driving it so much, I figured it would be perfect for my next car. And thus we now have The Box and The Blue Box. Yay!

Another Weekend Down

This weekend was a fun one. Friday evening we opted to stay in and enjoy a nice quiet night. Then on Saturday we met up with roho, genet, skorzy, was1, and Roho’s cousin Lori at BD’s for usual Saturday lunch there (sans Feren, who obviously doesn’t love us 😉 Lunch was delightful, as always. Afterwards we retired to R&G’s place in Antioch, but not before making a stop by Antioch Packing House to pick up a huge sirloin steak and three pounds of hamburger (ground right in front of us). Once at R&G’s,we chatted for a while and generally lolled about in digestive torpor. Eventually we got motivated enough to roll out Cranium Turbo Edition, which we just picked up. The game was a real hoot, with charades, pictionary, trivia, and all sorts of other stuff. The Turbo Edition is a marked improvement in gameplay over the original version, and that made the game that much more enjoyable. After we wrapped things up (Will and I won! W00t!), we made quick trip to the local Jewel for snacks and condiments and such, then it was time for meat on the grill. Arr num num num! Roho was a fine griller, as always, and everything was delicious. Sadly, due to a nasty headache on my part we had to bow out early from the Apples to Apples and rum sampling that followed.

Sunday found us on our way up to Milwaukee for the wedding of aureth and jenwolf. The service was lovely (great job, werellama!) and the meal afterwards was good. It was a nice day and even if it got a little warm in the building we were in (un-air conditioned, ack!) it was nice to see many of our friends there. Afterwards we headed home (with a stop by the store for the week’s groceries) and takaza made some delicious mac and cheese (with BACON! yum!).

And today it’s back to work. Eh. At least with the hot and muggy weather we’re supposed to have all day I know I’m not missing anything by not being outdoors. Looking to the rest of the week, I don’t think we have a lot going on except for taking Dan’s mom to lunch for her birthday on Saturday. I’m hoping to have not one but two exciting announcements in the next few days, though – watch this space!

Good News All Around

A couple of things at random…

First off, it is with much relief that I can report that father’s surgery yesterday went well. For those who didn’t know, over the last 4-6 months he’s been having terrible pain in his lower back, to the point where he wasn’t able to walk. It was diagnosed as spinal stenosis, which means that there were bone spurs on his spine that were compressing the spinal cord. Yesterday morning he went in for a decompressive laminectomy and when I talked to him last night (!) he said he had been up walking around and it really seems to have worked. Amazingly, he’ll be out of the hospital this afternoon (barring complications) and then it’s several weeks of convalescence and physical therapy. The prognosis is pretty good, though, and I have really high hopes. I’m hoping to make a weekend visit to Mom and Dad’s in South Carolina the weekend of August 27th – it’s been far too long since I’ve been down there.

Secondly, Dan and I were looking ahead later this month and it looks like the weekend of August 20 is Milwaukee Irishfest! Woohoo! I will definitely be going on Saturday the 20th – anyone interested in joining me? This will be my third year going and if you like Celtic music at all this is THE PLACE to go. The lineup on Saturday includes some of the biggest names in Celtic music: Schooner Fare, Tommy Makem, Danu, Green Fields of America, Cherish the Ladies, Gaelic Storm, Leahy, Seven Nations, Black 47, Young Dubliners, Wolfstone, Liz Carroll, and the list goes on. The only problem is going to try to figure out who to see among the great stuff that’s all scheduled on top of each other!

Finally, I can say that in regards to the event I mentioned last week – we’re going to have some good news in the next few days, I think.

“Baseball Has Been Very, Very Good To Me”

(Wow, am I dating myself with that subject line…)

So, con reports aside, what have we been up to? Well, the past weekend was quite entertaining, really. The fun started on Friday when Takaza and I played hooky from work to meet Mirkowuff and Siegferret at Wrigley Field to watch the Chicago Cubs vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mirko and Siegfried experienced some delays getting to the park, unfortunately. We missed the top of the first inning, but once we got seated things were fine. And those were some really great seats! Section 215, Row 2 – about a third of the way up the third base line with a great view of the game. I will freely admit that I am not the world’s best baseball fan – hell, after football season is over, I usually throw away the sports section unread. But I learned that actually being there at the game is far more interesting, and I really had a great time. Mirko and I swapped rounds of (expensive, nasty) beer and Sieg and Dan each got some hot dogs. The game was great, too – a real thriller, with the Cubs pulling it out in the bottom of the ninth. I would actually be willing to catch another game this year, albeit maybe from the cheap seats.

After the game we fought the teeming throngs to get out of the park and onto the El, taking about a half-hour to go a few hundred feet. We eventually made it onto a northbound Red Line train and rode up to DaveQat and Jimcyl‘s place. We hung out there, and were eventually joined by boixboi and perromutt. Perro stuck around to wait for Darkwolph (who was apparently traveling in low orbit, since he got from Lafayette, IN to the north side of Chicago in 90 minutes, on a Friday afternoon) while the rest of us tromped off to Evanston to the Asado Brazilian Grill. We dove into the tasty food and copious quantities of meat, and Perro and Wolphy joined us not too long after. The meal was excellent, and the company grand. We parted ways afterwards and went home and to bed.

On Saturday Dan and I set forth once again to the wilds of downstate Illinois (i.e. south of I-80) towards the Champaign-Urbana metroplex. We arrived at Mirko’s in time to do some birthday shopping, then it was over to Siegfried’s place for a fun night of games with Mirko, Sieg, Lycaos, and Wolftail. We played Malarky (very fun game, though I’m not sure about the scoring system) and Cranium (always fun) and had a great time.

Sunday morning, we met everyone but Lycaos (who was flying out that day) at The House of Lard, aka The Original Pancake House, for breakfast. Yum! Very tasty. I drove home, and on the way back we finished listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I have…comments. But I think I’ll wait a bit and think it over some more. Anyway, we arrived home just in time to meet up with Rustitobuck and Linnaeus and strike out for Linnaeus’ birthday party. Paul has documented that well, so I’m going to be lazy and just point to his entry 🙂

And today it was back to the grind, woohoo. Ah well. Now, to figure out what we’re going to do for dinner tonight…