Monthly Archives: March 2006

Anthrocon hotel update

For those of you who don’t read , unclekage says about the overflow hotel:
The Omni has informed us that they are sold out of double-bed rooms on the night of Friday, June 16. There are only a very few double-bed rooms left for Saturday and Sunday, and most of those are smoking rooms.

Thus, only king-bed rooms are left. The hotel has a very limited number of rollaways that will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis on site, so please do not count on having a rollaway!

Ye gods. Looks like attendance won’t be too much of an issue, though.

Congenial is over, and ringlessness

So we spent last weekend at Congenial. Just to be different, I’ll spare y’all the blow-by-blow and just say that it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed swimming and hanging out with friends. When we got home on Sunday we sat around the house like zombies and then went to bed.

I had the unpleasant surprise yesterday of looking at my wedding ring and realizing that the white gold inner band had cracked and was spinning freely, about to come off. Ack! We purchased it five years ago from Ross-Simons in Raleigh, NC, and I was pleased to see that the only store they have in Illinois happens to be right on my way home from work. I stopped by yesterday afternoon and it has now been shipped off for repair. I should have it back in 10-14 days, at an as-yet-to-be-determined cost (they’ll call me with an estimate before doing any work, though). The biggest drawback to this is the moment of panic I get on an all-too-frequent basis when I realize I’m not wearing my ring and start wondering where I left it. Bleah.

Not too much going on this week. It’s month-end for Takaza‘s company, so he’ll be working long hours this week; last night he didn’t get home until close to 8 PM, and I expect a few more days this week like that. If he doesn’t have to work this weekend (ick!) I hope that we’ll be doing some wandering about in the lovely weather to do some research for FRAC, or at the very least relaxing a bit and being antisocial. We’re due for a bit of that, I think.

Oh, and finally: happy birthday, woodychitwn!

Going to Anthrocon? Want To Lend A Hand? (and maybe get in for free!)

I am seeking staff to help out in Artists Alley/Con Store at Anthrocon 2006. Duties would include working as a cashier, assisting in artist logistics, and assisting with artist payout at the end of each day. While I would be happy to have the assistance of folks for just an hour or so here or there, if you put in ten hours you will receive a free Anthrocon T-shirt; put in fifteen hours over three days (if you’ll be there for setup and teardown that counts too!) you can earn both a T-shirt and a membership to Anthrocon. (For an idea of how things went last year, you can find my AA/CS report from last year here.)

If you’re interested, please drop me a line NO LATER THAN THURSDAY, MARCH 30 at duncan at wolfhusky dot org, or reply with a comment here.

-Tom Brady/Duncan da Husky
Artists Alley Manager
Anthrocon 2006

My Thursday Evening, or tl;dr

Grar. I so don’t want to be here today.

I got up to the Racine Marriott last night in short order, a quick 30-minute drive. I suspect the northbound Tri-State Tollway gets abominable in the afternoons (judging from the huge backups on the southbound side that occur in the mornings), but when you leave at 3:30 things are nice and smooth. I checked in without any problems and was pleasantly surprised by our room: instead of the small, somewhat spartan room we had last year, this room has a nice wet bar with refrigerator, roomy bathroom with a separate area for the vanity, and a sleeper sofa. Also, it appears that they’ve upgraded their beds; this one was very much on a par with Westin’s OMGWTFSOFT beds, though I’m not quite on board with the whole “Let’s stack twenty pillows on the bed so it looks luxurious” thing. Anyway, it’s the perfect room for entertaining and it will suit us well this weekend. I’m mildly annoyed that they are going to whack us for $10 per day for wireless access, but we’ll cope.

Datahawk and takaza arrived at about the same time, a little after 7 PM. We went over to Culver’s for a quick dinner then got back in time to meet wyldekyttin, unclevlad, and renniefrog unloading their van. There was brief talk about maybe hitting the hot tub, but I was just too tired. We went back to our room and I quickly collapsed into the sleep of the dead, interrupted at about 1 AM by a horrid reflux attack. Bleah.

This morning I was up at 5 AM and went out to find about an inch of snow on the car. Bleah. The drive in didn’t take nearly as long as I expected, and I had time to gas up the car and hit Charbucks for a caffeine fix before work. Now I need to find a way to pass the next seven hours since all the people I need to finish my current project are in training today. After that, it’s back to Racine and Congenial. Woo!

Wow, I’ll bet all of that above was amazingly boring. Here, have some links to amuse you:

  • A sixteen-year old gay teen takes on Virginia Senator George Allen on the subject of gay rights. This kid has a hell of a lot more guts than I did at his age, and I am just amazed and impressed by his actions. There’s a lot of nice stuff in the comments as well.
  • For those traveling to Midwest FurFest, here’s a new and inexpensive way to get to Chicago: MegaBus (which apparently is already a sizable carrier in the UK). According to Chicagoist, their deal is that fares start at $1 each way, plus a 50-cent reservation fee. For each trip, three or four $1 seats are reserved, and the remaining seats can range from $9 to $27. In other words, you’ll have to book early to get the super-cheap fares. They run express service to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Louis.
  • Wisconsin proves that they are on the verge of global domination…or just a really good three-day binge.
  • No wardriving for you! A Rockford-area man is fined $250 for leeching off of someone else’s WiFi.

And now, to work!

I’ve Seen Better Days…

Well, yesterday could have gone better. Work was uninspiring, though I did get a nibble on an interesting job well for which I would be very well suited. It’s in Marengo so the commute would be interesting, but it’s not out of the question. On the way home, I passed a Lake County sheriff’s deputy as I was getting on Route 41; he followed me for about a mile then hit his lights. He was very nice, and explained that the drivers license associated with my registration expired two years ago. I showed him my NC drivers license (yeah, yeah, I’ll be getting an Illinois one Real Soon Now) and explained that when I surrendered my IL license back in 2000 (!), I guess NC didn’t transmit any paperwork stating that fact. He was satisfied with this explanation, and sent me on my way. Whew.

After a brief stop at the Highland Park post office to stock up on stamps for mailing MFF registration postcards, it was down to Paulina Market to pick up some tasty snacks for the coming weekend. As I was sitting in the stop-and-go traffic on Lincoln Avenue, someone came barreling up behind me – all I heard was a squeal of tires then I felt the impact as he hit me. We pulled off to a side street and exchanged information. The damage doesn’t look too bad – rear bumper marked up and slightly pushed down – but having been through this not too long ago, I know that a lot more expensive damage can lie under the bumper. On my way home I stopped by my insurance agency and gave them all the information and set up a body shop to take a look at it next week. All in all, a minor hassle, though my neck is slightly sore. Nothing debilitating, just a mild stiffness. Hmm, I should have taken some Aleve this morning for that. Ah well.

I admit I was pretty down for the rest of the evening, but Dan put up with me. He made several batches of chocolate chip cookies, and then we packed up everything for Congenial. In a lot of ways, a local relaxacon is more of a pain to pack for than Anthrocon: There’s all the room amenities to pack (coffee maker and accoutrements), booze, glassware, games, and all sorts of stuff. We got it sorted out, though. As I mentioned before, we’ll be up in Racine tonight through Sunday, since Dan has to work in Milwaukee tomorrow and my commute to work is roughly the same from Racine or Chicago. I’m going to try to get the same room we had last year (first floor, on the east end of the south hallway), since it’s convenient to the con suite yet not in the line of traffic.

Hmm, I’m gonna go hunt down some Ibuprofen now…

Coffee, Sausages, and Cider: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Right then: The weekend.

We had all kinds of plans for Friday night; rasslor was going to have dinner with friends, we were going to join linnaeus for dinner, and we were just rarin’ to go…until we actually got home. Traffic was sucky, it was cold and windy outside, and Rasslor’s plans fell through. None of us were motivated in the least, so we wound up huddling ’round the TiVo and ordering pizza. Not a bad alternative, though.

On Saturday I was up moderately early to face the day. Rasslor, Linnaeus and I drove down to the so-hidden-don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Intelligencia Roasting Works (seriously – they only put a sign outside their door when they give tours) for a tour of their facilities. Naturally they supplied copious coffee to drink, and walked us through roasting a batch of coffee (Guatamalan El Cuervo, to be specific), then we all got a half-pound of the fresh-roasted El Cuervo at the end of the tour. We also got a nice look at their barista training room and QA/QC lab, where they not only test the roasted coffees for quality, they also review samples of green beans sent by farmers from all over the world for quality and suitability. I came away extremely impressed by Intelligencia; they’re a small company (75 employees, including their two – soon to be three – coffee shops) who care about doing things right. I’ll be buying my beans from Intelligencia in the foreseeable future.

After the tour, we drove over to Hot Doug’s, where we were joined by sabotlours, carol_kitty, and takaza. mstegosaurus, fritzywolf, and circafox were there as well (Sorry we couldn’t socialize more, guys! Unfortunately Hot Doug’s is about the food and not so much about the sitting and chatting). I had the Italian-seasoned wild boar sausage with sun-dried tomato mustard and Romano cheese, as well as the merguez lamb sausage with spicy harissa and goat cheese. Both were quite tasty, but definitely not the best I’d ever had there. After lunch we adjourned back to Linnaeus’ place to wallow a bit in postprandial torpor before getting back into the car and driving out to datahawk and posicat place for their annual St. Patrick’s Day party. Much fun and socializing ensued, and I had a really good time.

Sunday morning, I awoke to find Rasslor plotting out various bus routes to get himself back to Midway. Given that he had a huge, heavy suitcase and several changes of transportation were to be involved, I volunteered to just drive him down – it was a beautiful day out, anyway. After seeing him off, Paul, Dan and I went to the Midwest FurFest staff meeting which, due to various illnesses and schedule conflicts, was rather lightly attended. This made for a fast meeting, though, and we migrated to the Curragh for one last meal before it closes at the end of the month. The meal reminded me that the best thing about going there on the Monday after MFF has always been that it was the Monday after MFF – the food has never really been all that. The Magner’s Cider on tap helped a good bit, though. Still, it was fun to hang out and chat with hartree, taren_, Puma, mirkowuff, wyldekyttin and Datahawk. After the meeting Paul, Dan and I headed home to lay about and be generally useless for the rest of the evening.

I was a bad boy and skipped going to the gym yesterday, this after skipping all of last week due to some nasty blisters on my heels. Those are all healed up, now, and I intend to go tonight and tomorrow. Thursday night, we’ll be up in Racine since Dan has to work in Milwaukee on Friday and he wanted my company 🙂 Then after work on Friday it’s time for Congenial! I intend to revel in the spirit of the convention, doing exceedingly little and relaxing. Maybe some nice swimming and relaxing in the hot tub, too. I’m quite looking forward to it.

And now, it’s back to making Visio do things that it’s not meant to do. What fun!

Tuesday Linkitude

There’s a real update in the pipeline, but first here’s a couple of links which amused me this morning:

This one’s for posicat, though I’ll bet he already knows: Diane Duane has posted the first chapter to her subscription-only e-book. It’ll be interesting to see how the economics of this work out, and if it is actually worth her time to publish this way.

GAHHHHH! This is not what I need to see in the morning. Tell me again how creepy, bizarre pictures help sell your product? (granted, it gets people to link to your ad, evidently…)

It’s not too late to vote for the worst company in America! The competition has been fierce, and many worthy contenders (Wal Mart, Sprint, Monsanto) have fallen by the wayside, but in the end it’s down to two: Halliburton vs. ChoicePoint. Whose evil will reign supreme?

What’s Alton Brown been up to lately? Check out this twelve-minute podcast (playable in Flash, even!) to hear an interview with him at the Housewares Show in Chicago last weekend. Find out why he adores Shun knives, what Good Eats episodes are in the pipeline (hint: cinnamon rolls is one of them!), and some very cool webcasting plans that are in the works.

It’s not particularly useful, but I find the concept amusing: Wiki on a Stick (How to install MediaWiki on a thumb drive)

And finally, it’s nice to know at least some of the CTA El train operators have a sense of humor.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

And just like that, we go from a lovely, warm weekend to snow. Depending on who you listen to we’re due from anywhere from 1″ to 8 ” of snow, though at this point I expect it’ll be on the lower end of that range. I hit the road early this morning, so I’ll be leaving here early as well, by 2:15 or so. It’s not that I expect that the roads are bad now (last I saw there was less than an inch on grassy areas and the snow wasn’t sticking to the pavement), but I don’t particularly want to stick around to see how bad it gets. The weather isn’t going to help the intricate dance we have to do to make it downtown tonight; we’ll need to be out the door by 6, and takaza usually isn’t home until just shortly before that. We’ll work it out, though.

We’ve been playing host to rasslor this week and it’s been nice having a little extra company around the house. I made a tasty dinner of pork roast, sautéed potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Nothing fancy tonight – probably a quick trip to the taquiera on the corner on the way. Tomorrow…maybe Buca di Beppo with linnaeus and company, but we’ll see.

Well, time to pack up a few things and then hit the road!

Coffee Disaster!

Dan got me a wonderful coffee maker for Christmas in 2004, a 12-cup Bodum Santos vacuum coffee maker. The principle is pretty cool, and neat to watch: The water in the lower chamber boils, and all of the steam moves up to the top chamber (where the ground coffee is), where it condenses. After a predetermined period (determined either by time or by a sensor – probably time because it’s cheaper), the heater switches to a lower setting, the water stops boiling, and the condensed steam runs back into the lower chamber, pulled by the vacuum created by the water boiling. It’s all very efficient, and yields a great cup of coffee.

Over the last month or so I noticed that the coffee maker would behave oddly, like switching to boiling (higher-output heat) after the coffee was done brewing; since I immediately decant into a pre-warmed carafe it wasn’t a big deal, but a bit disconcerting. Then yesterday, whatever was wrong came to a head: I turned on the pot, the light indicating the brewing process had started came on, and…nothing happened. No heat at all from the heating element. Aieee! No matter how much jiggling, rattling, or power cycling we try, it makes no difference. I suspect that the internal computer control of the heating element has gotten borked, and there’s probably not a lot we can do about it. Obviously, it’s over a year old so I doubt any warranty would still be in place, though I intend to review the paperwork and maybe even call Bodum, just in case. The sad likelihood is that it’s probably toast. While I have my emergency-backup French press, I really want an electric unit for company and such. I’ll probably suck it up and drop another $100 for another Bodum Santos, but I won’t be particularly happy about it. Also, while I doubt if anyone else has had much experience with problems like these with this unit, I’d be open to any suggestions.

Furrypalooza Weekend!

Good heavens! What started out as a few simple plans became an exhausting, entertaining weekend.

Saturday started off with linnaeus and I meeting up with ramalion and his partner KBear (why doesn’t K have an LJ, anyway?) at the luxurious Renaissance O’Hare (really nice job on that one, steviemaxwell!). After agonizing over whether the weather was going to hold, we decided to go out and try to find two geocaches (the latter was just outside Gino’s East on Higgins, and was made more entertaining by the GE employee eyeing us wandering around with our GPS, then saying, “Did you find it yet? I know where it is, but I’m not going to tell you!”). After a lackluster lunch at Steak and Shake (at least the company was good!), we picked up three more caches. This involved a lot of tromping around through the forest preserve along the Des Plaines River; I need to remember that the reason I don’t wear my boots that often is because they cause blisters, which explains why I had a nasty blister on each heel when we were done. Still, it was worth it – the weather was beautiful, in the 60’s and partly cloudy, and the forest was quite pretty even if it was full of deer crap 🙂

After tromping through the woods, we retired back to our place where takaza was waiting, having wisely chosen to sleep in, and we hung out for the rest of the afternoon, watching some accumulated Tivo goodness (including my newest addiction, Survivorman). Once recovered, we piled into the Blue Box (which seats four comfortably but five rather uncomfortably) and drove down to Ann Sather on Belmont, where we met up with roho, genet, and feren. Dinner was…well, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t terribly exciting. Again, the company more than made up for the food. After dessert and some chatting, we adjourned over to the Briar Street Theater to see Blue Man Group. Wow. What a show. It was a whole lot of fun, and extremely entertaining. Everyone seemed to have a great time, though next time, I’ll definitely get an earlier show than 10 PM – we were all pretty worn out by the time we got home at around 12:30 AM.

On Sunday we had a rather abrupt change of plans (I’m really sorry about that, siriuswolfstar!) and wound up meeting up with Rama and K then making our (somewhat haphazard) way down to the Holiday Inn – William Tell Convention Center in Countryside. There, we met up with unclekage, petercat, and mach. We packed everyone into cars and migrated over to one of the northern outposts of The House of Lard for a tasty breakfast and Apple Pancakes As Big As Your Head. Lots of good conversation and SMOFFing took place. Afterwards, Rama and K took their leave to drive back to St. Louis, we dropped Mach off at the hotel, and Dan and I took Kage and Peter over to Mitsuwa Marketplace where, surprise of surprises, Kage bought some sake. We dropped Kage off at his deluxe hotel accommodations (on the bright side, it looked like he might be able to easily commune with his cockroach brethren), and then dropped Peter off at O’Hare for his flight home, then went home to relax briefly. Dan napped and I played some mindless video games until Paul came home with rasslor in tow. Bob is going to be spending the week with us as he did last year, only this time hopefully he won’t get deathly ill 🙂 Dinner was a rather soggy trip to Charcoal Delight, then I was tired enough that I turned in not long after.

Man, it seems like I need a weekend to rest up from our weekend! It was a blast, though, and the next weekends are going to be fun too, with someone’s St. Patrick’s Day party (I think?) and MFF meeting next weekend, then Congenial the weekend after that. I’m really looking forward to that!

Friday Linkage

Not a lot to talk about today, but a couple of interesting links.

Since I got my iPod, I’ve been having fun with podcasting. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s just recording an audio file (typically MP3) and putting it up for downloading. If you have a program like iTunes (though there are others that do it as well), it will check periodically to see if there is a new file available and download it for you and even upload it to your portable music player. Here are a couple of podcasts that I’ve found that I like (no music player required – you can just download the files to your computer and listen to them there).

National Public Radio has a couple of nice podcasts: Right now I’m subscribed to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (the most recently aired episode) and Story of the Day, but just in writing this I see that there’s a heck of a lot more there to check out. Woo!

There’s also the audio version of the latest Ebert and Roeper At The Movies show.

If you like Celtic music, particularly contemporary Celtic music, Celtic rock, and Celtic fusion, have I got a podcast for you. Celt in a Twist airs weekly on AM 1470, CJVB in Vancouver, BC, and they make their hour-long show available in four parts. Lots of great stuff here – The Paperboys, Spirit of the West, Flook, and Enter the Haggis, among many others.

Finally, woodychitwn pointed me to The Bruiser Chronicles (possibly NSFW). This, to me, is the epitome of the power of podcasting: one guy, just talking about his life and what’s on his mind. The thing is, he’s a personable guy, has a great “radio voice”, and can tell a riveting story. His lengthy story of his encounters with “Bill”, a repressed and vengeful co-worker, is nothing short of astonishing; if it were fiction it would be hard to believe but the fact that he had to live through it is amazing. Along the way, he touches on topics of sexual identity, self-doubt, and self-esteem. This is a show for adults, though; Bruiser is a gay man who is frank about what he likes and doesn’t like and there’s plenty of Bad Words and Sexual Content. It’s definitely worth a listen, though.

Can anyone recommend any other podcasts to check out? I’m always looking for new and interesting stuff.

Since I’m posting a bunch of links today, I’ll also throw in a couple that interested me:
I just added Hungry Magazine to my Bloglines subscriptions. It’s an interesting read anyway, but two great articles showed up today: the McDonalds McArabia (really!), and a nice profile of “The Sausage King”, Doug Sohn, owner and operator of Hot Dougs “Encased Meat Emporium” (with accompanying podcast!).

It’s not too late to get in on Consumerist’s Worst Company in America Tournament!

Finally, if you watch Survivor or The Amazing Race, you really should be reading the hilariously snarky recaps at televisionwithoutpity.com. They cover many other (U.S.) prime-time shows as well, and even have a lengthy recap of the movie Serenity.

Right-o, then. Off to lunch I go! I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Dancing Huskies? Not Likely.

Time to play ketchup…and mustard! Nah, just catch-up.

For all that I was hoping to kick off the weekend with a bang, takaza and I agreed on Friday afternoon that we were both tired and we’d just stay in. That was a good thing, since Dan didn’t get home from work until close to 7 PM anyway.

On Saturday, I vowed to get a nice, early start. I got up at 7 and, after morning coffee, headed over to the gym for a full workout. I got back later than I would have liked but almost on time anyway, since siriuswolfstar and rustitobuck were already waiting and chatting with Dan and linnaeus. The five of us walked the few blocks to Tre Kronor, the wonderful little Swedish restaurant near our place. Several different kinds of eggs benedict were ordered (traditional, crabcake, and salmon), and Rusty’s corned beef hash was amazingly tasty (lots of fresh thyme in there helped, I think). All that and fresh-made danishes and strong coffee. Man, I love that place!

Afterwards, Sirius, Dan, and I drove up to Antioch to meet Roho and Genet. We went to see Eight Below (short review: awful script, awful actors, extremely unlikely and over-anthropomorphized canine behavior, but at least the dogs were pretty), then adjourned to their place for the usual pizza and Drunken Apples to Apples. Sunday morning we made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas Restaurant for their Skillets O’ Doom, and then came home and zoned out for the rest of the afternoon.

Yesterday, Dan attempted to start a regimen of going in an hour early to try to avoid having to stay late each might – still get the overtime, just make it a little more bearable. Unfortunately he picked the wrong day to do it, as that was when the monthly forecasts were due, which meant he didn’t get home until a little before 9 PM. Thirteen-hour days suck, indeed. Here’s hoping that the rest of the week won’t be nearly as bad. For tonight, it’s back to the gym for me, and with luck a tasty dinner for us both.