Monthly Archives: April 2006

I hear the voices in my head/I swear to god I think they were snoring

Well, it’s been a real up-and-down week. On Wednesday, I heard from takaza that things weren’t going well at work. I skipped the gym and met him after work and we had a nice walk in a nearby park and talked some of his stress out. After that, we drove around a bit, exploring some of the northern burbs that we hadn’t seen before, and then wound up at Old Orchard Mall where we splurged a bit for some not-bad hot cocoa and some excellent chocolates. I’d like to think that helped Dan a lot and made the rest of his week a little better. We capped off the evening with a nice episode of The Amazing Race, though we’re bummed that the oldsters got bounced. They seemed like genuinely nice people.

Yesterday was relatively unexciting – work, then a cardio workout at the gym. Because of my knees, I’m sort of limited in the cardio I can do, so I vary between the treadmill and the recumbent stationary bike. If I ride the bike, I can definitely get my heart rate up, even though I top out at about twenty minutes and about 130 calories burned. If I use the treadmill I can go twenty-five minutes (and longer – I need to push that a bit) and that theoretically burns 320 calories or so, but my heart rate doesn’t really get into the “cardio” range. I need to figure out how to better balance these. I’m alternating those with one day of shoulder and abdominals exercises and one day of arm and leg exercises; that seems to work pretty well, but I’m having a hard time sticking with the five-times-a-week schedule my doctor has suggested. Well, some is better than none, anyway.

This weekend we’re rewarding Dan a bit for the two weeks from hell that he’s had by spending it at the La Quinta in Hoffman Estates. It isn’t all fun, though – we’re checking out the hotel to make sure they’re ready for Wuffmeet, and on Saturday we’ll be scouting the FRAC course, taking pictures, making notes, and making evil plots 🙂 On Sunday we’ll be hitting Sam’s Club to check prices for food and drinks and play with budgeting a bit more. In between, though, we’ll be doing a lot of relaxing, which I’m looking forward to.

Gotta get some work done, but look out for some links coming up this afternoon!

Sleepless in Chicago

When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were prepping for a big weekend. Well, sort of. Takaza wasn’t feeling well when he got home on Friday night, so we had a quiet night in. On Saturday I was up bright and early, ready to enjoy a beautiful day. Dan was feeling better, so we headed down to the Cadillac Room at Soldier Field for the event of the day, Night of 100 Champions, a fundraiser for Gay Games Chicago. Considering that there were over 80 tables, with ten seats each, and seats were $75 each, this was going to be quite a fundraiser. Over the course of the weeks leading up to it, we had been told that we would have a variety of jobs, but ultimately they all collapsed down to “Setup”. We started at about 11:30 AM and worked pretty much continuously until the event started at 5:30 PM. We did a quick change into more dressy clothes and assumed our roles as facilitators for the silent auction – checking that bids were following the proper increments, answering any questions anyone might have, that sort of thing. the auction was pretty impressive, too – stuff like flights anywhere in the US, cruises, extravagant dinner and theater packages, artwork, and even a signed, framed tennis racket from Billie Jean King. The auction was supposed to end at 8 PM, then it got pushed back to 8:15, then 8:30, then finally 10 PM. This wasn’t too big of a deal – the object was to raise the most money possible, of course, but communications were poor at best, and there was a lot of confusion.

I should say that the volunteers and almost all of the organizers that we worked with were great, and we had a lot of fun with them; the only downer, and it was a BIG downer, was one of the organizers who was completely and obviously incompetent. She had a tendency to rush in and micromanage, pull you away from the tasks that you were working on to do stuff that was important to her, change her mind on how things should be done and snap at you when you didn’t read her mind, and generally being completely annoying and difficult. When she changed the (previously arranged, sensible and organized) plans for assembling the winning bids and accepting payment for winning items for the auction right as we were trying to close the auction – that was when Dan and I decided we’d had enough. We packed up our stuff and went home.

Initially, I think we were both pretty pissed off and really doubting what our participation with Gay Games might be for the next few months, I’ve come to realize that we were having problems with one person and one person only (though someone should have seen the problems and told her to knock it off). We also learned that if you’re competent, you’ll find yourself in a leadership role pretty darned quickly.

I was tired and sore Sunday morning and Dan was even worse off, suffering a dual curse of respiratory nastiness and a flare-up of the pinched nerve problems from earlier. He elected to stay home and I attended the MFF meeting. I was still in a pretty grumpy mood from the night before so I probably wasn’t the most pleasant to be around, but the meeting passed quickly. We spent Sunday night hanging out and being laptop geeks, as usual 🙂

Last night Dan was facing a recurrence of the god-awful all-nighter from last week. faced with dinner alone, I opted to walk up to Tom Yum, the sushi/Thai place around the corner from us, and had a tasty and inexpensive sushi dinner. The walk back was pleasant and perfect after a good meal. Dan didn’t leave work until after 11 PM, and didn’t come to bed until after 1 AM. We talked a little about the silliness that had kept him so late, and that got me more and more irritated until i couldn’t get back to sleep. I finally got to sleep again at about 3 AM, so you understand why I’m dragging a good bit today. Bleah. I’ll still hit the gym today, though, and we have a nice dinner of fettuccine carbonara lined up for dinner. Pasta makes everything better 🙂

Time to head home!

Do the Friday Dance!

Don’t know what the Friday Dance is? Just jump up and dance around because the next two days won’t be spent stuck at a desk all day. YAY!

Last night was lots of fun. After pulling an all-nighter, Takaza was told that a sizeable bonus is in the pipeline for him. This, coupled with the nice chunk of change I’m getting back on my federal and state taxes will help to pay down some of our debt that much faster, which makes us very happy. To celebrate, Dan informed me (as I was relaxing, exhausted from the gym) that we were going out to celebrate! We stopped first at Martin’s Big and Tall, a nice little shop in Lincoln Square. I had thought that they were a bit expensive in the past, but since Dan and I both needed shirts, we stopped by to see what they had. It turns out that they had some great shirts at reasonable prices (MUCH better than Casual Male’s shoddy crap), so we bought several, including the spiffy shirt I have on today.

From there we decided to explore Lincoln Park a bit (and hang out with trixies and chads) and took the Brown Line down to Armitage. Dan was in the mood for steak and while we were looking around we stumbled onto Select Cut Steak House at the corner of Armitage and Halsted. The steaks were good. We both got combos; Dan had a strip steak and chicken breasts (“it’d be good on a chicken sandwich, not so much by itself”), I had the strip steak and ribs. It’s telling that as I dipped my fries, Dan pointed out that it was probably barbecue sauce I was dipping into and not ketchup. It took me a couple of fries to tell the difference. We also felt a bit rushed by the waitron, which was silly since the place wasn’t busy at all. All in all, it was an OK meal but I don’t see us going back. We finished off the night by stopping by my new favorite place for desserts, Bobtail, just off the Southport El stop. I {heart} the Brown Line!

So tomorrow is Night of 100 Champions. We’re supposed to be showing up at around 11 AM at Soldier Field and help set up the raffle and silent auction, then (tentatively) will be helping to sell tickets and pimp the auction items. Theoretically, we’re also supposed to be helping out with the brunch at the same location on Sunday, but that’s even more loosely-organized. I think I’ve been spoiled by the conventions I’ve worked on, because volunteer organization for this event is a bit lackluster and disorganized; I’ve always followed the guidelines that volunteers want to know what they’re going to do, where they’re going to do it, and when they are going to be there. There’s a few gaps in these facts for this event. This is a shame because there’s plenty of people willing to help, but I fear that by the end of the night it’s going to be a valiant few who have stuck around through the chaos who have to clean up. I hope I’m wrong.

I had a few other items to touch on, but work calls. More stuff to come!

Bet you didn’t know accountants pull all-nighters too

Poor takaza. He went in to work at 7 AM yesterday and got home just in time for my alarm to go off this morning at 5 AM. Theoretically this is the last of these crazy overtime blitzes, but we’ll see. His boss has dangled the prospect of a spot bonus for him when this is all over (one of those “might be $20, might be $thousands” kind of things). All I’m sayin’ is, it better be on the north end of that range.

Dan’s home sleeping now, thank heavens, and told his boss that he’ll be unavailable before 2 PM, and even then he’ll only be working from home (which I think is generous, but I’m a bastard that way). A nasty side-effect of this is that I kept waking up last night, worrying about him. At 3 AM, I woke up and imagined horrible scenarios of Dan in a car wreck on his way home, so I had to get up and IM him to make sure he was still at work and safe. What can I say? My mind works in weird ways when I’m sleepy.

So now it’s 9:30 AM and I’m yawning up a storm. Even after this morning’s three cups of coffee, the can of Monster on my desk looks awfully inviting, but I’m going to save that until this afternoon, when I’m really gonna need it.

Wherein Our Hero Eats Out a Lot and Has a Really Fun Weekend

Goodness – one public post in the last week? Honestly, last week just wasn’t that interesting. The weekend, however…

On Friday, I got home and just felt generally tired. I skipped the gym and was even thinking about grabbing a nap when takaza called on his way home and suggested we go out and do a bit of shoe shopping. He needed my help because he has been dealing with a nasty pinched nerve in his back which limited his mobility somewhat (he’s very much on the mend now, fortunately). After some shoe shopping we decided to grab dinner out. We opted to investigate Lincoln Square. We grabbed a good parking spot and had a brief browse through The Chopping Block, a neat kitchenware store, and enjoyed a bit of music from the busker in the square. Our first choice, though it looked quite tasty, didn’t really tickle Dan’s fancy, so we walked a bit further down to La Bocca della Verita’. Dan had a very tasty (though somewhat plain) gnocchi pomodoro, and I opted for the ravioli Anatra, which had a duck breast, sage, and shallot filling. Rather good, I’ll say. Alas, the atmosphere was a bit too bustling and loud, and I doubt we’ll return.

On Saturday, Dan had to go in to work. I spent the morning and part of the afternoon hanging out with datahawk (who had spent the night) and filing my taxes (hey last-minute folks: Taxact will e-file your state and federal taxes for $16!). After some false starts (I fumbled some employer ID numbers on my W-2’s), I submitted my taxes and had notification back within a few hours. The nice refund of $900 will go…well, it’ll all go towards credit cards, which is pretty boring. Yay for debt reduction, though!

At about 4 PM Dan, Data, Linnaeus and I headed out on the El down to River North for a truly wonderful early dinner at Heaven on Seven. We were joined by emrldgirrl, wiktowasichu, siriuswolfstar, simbalion, lisagems, Moryssa, Dan’s cow-orker nymphara, Data’s mom, and Data’s brother R.C. Dan had the extremely tasty country fried steak (again), and I splurged a bit and got the “Jimmy Jr. Feed Me!” a four-course meal of whatever the chef decides to give you (the larger “Jimmy Feed Me!” is seven courses). This was truly amazing. I started off with two demitasses, one with their delicious gumbo and the other with a delicious turtle soup. This was followed by a jalapeno-cheddar corn muffin and Cajun-seasoned halibut that was nothing short of astonishing – flaky, tender, and perfectly-cooked. Not too spicy either! After this was beef tenderloin served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. Yum! (By this point I was sharing the dishes all around because there was no way I could finish all of it myself!) They finished things off with my choice of dessert from their dinner menu; I opted for the chocolate pecan pie, which everyone agreed was tasty, but the crust was a bit too tough (Lisa guessed, and I agree, that they probably let the dough get too warm as they were rolling out). Regrettably, we were a bit rushed by the end to make our next appointment, but I would absolutely order this again when I have time to savor things a bit more. It’s a hell of a deal at only $24.

After dinner we stumbled downstairs and stuffed an insane number of people into a cab and headed over to the Cadillac Palace Theater for the evening’s main event: the final Chicago performance (this time) of the musical Rent. Dan and I both went in cold, not having seen the movie or listened to (much) of the soundtrack. The performances were solid (although the actress playing Mimi was rather dreadful and in the first act wandered off-key several times) but the experience was marred by an incompetent sound mix that rendered the vocals into mush. When you have a performance where all of the exposition is sung, this meant that I spent a lot of the time trying to guess what was going on, who was who, and what each character’s motivations were. As a result the play really fell flat for me, because I was unable to connect with the characters or really care what happened to them. The songs were pretty good, though, so the evening wasn’t completely wasted. I hope to watch the movie sometime soon and hopefully will maybe get a bit more out of that. After the play we dispersed (slowly – inertia being what it is), but made a stop by the truly tasty Bobtail Soda Fountain for some ice cream with Lisa, Sirius, Simba, and Data. Then it was on to home and collapsing into bed.

Sunday started out slowly, as might be expected given the late night Saturday. Dan had to tend to a few work items, though he fortunately could do that from home. Later in the afternoon we drove up to McHenry to Dan’s mom’s place to drop off her taxes (which Dan had filled out) and visited with her for a bit. We drove back to the city through the pouring rain and arrived just in time to meet Simba and Sirius for dinner at Calo Ristorante. Much pizza was eaten, and it’s always fun hanging out with friends. We trundled off to bed shortly after we got home.

So then we have this week. We have the final volunteers meeting tonight for Night of 100 Champions. This will pretty much be eating up our time next weekend, both the gala on Saturday and the brunch on Sunday, so we’ll probably miss the MFF staff meeting on Sunday. Other than that, I have a couple of MFF registration projects I’m working on that I would like to finish this week. Right now, though, there’s work here I need to do so I’m off. Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday Parties and Lazy Sundays

Well, that wasn’t too bad of a weekend. datahawk came over on Friday night and we hung out (mostly her keeping me company while I cooked up a massive amount of chicken broth for chicken and dumplings). takaza didn’t get home from work until after 8 PM, and data was kind enough to run around the corner to the taquiera and pick up some dinner for us. We didn’t eat until late, though, and because of a nasty attack of reflux I wound up staying up until almost 1 AM, long after everyone else had gone to bed.

On Saturday, Dan had to go into work again, so I passed the time relaxing and chatting a bit with data and Linnaeus before doing the final prep work for the chicken and dumplings. When we headed over to siriuswolfstar‘s place at around 4 PM, Dan still wasn’t home. After the requisite circling (only about ten minutes, though) we found a decent parking spot and trudged upstairs. The evening is a bit of a blur and not because I was drinking that much (though that Stolichnaya Elite vodka was very tasty!). Dan and Paul showed up at around 7, and I’m really glad they both made it. People seemed to like the chicken, judging by the locust-like rapidity with which it was consumed, and the rest of the party was quite entertaining. Alas, the previous evening’s late night, combined with Dan being tired from a long day at work led us to bow out early once again. As usual, it sounds like the party got a whole lot more entertaining after we left, but them’s the breaks.

I spent a good bit of Sunday morning quietly reading the paper and drinking coffee. I say quietly because Data didn’t get in until 5 AM and was fast asleep on our couch 🙂 Long about noon, though, we managed to get everyone awake and were joined by mirkowuff and perro for an extremely tasty brunch at Tre Kroner. Amazingly, we only had to wait 15 minutes for a table, and while we waited Dan picked up some adorable hand-carved animals at the Swedish Shop next door, a wolf and a fox. After brunch we found out that Dan wouldn’t have to go in to work after all, which was a little annoying since we hadn’t made any plans for the day because we assumed he would have to go in. Instead, Perro, Mirko, and Data went their separate ways and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up on our Tivo backlog. That wasn’t a bad alternative, actually.

As for the rest of the week, I’m hoping to be a bit more diligent on my gym attendance, and we’re trying to improve our dinner menus as well. I hope to get the Registration budget for MFF wrapped up as well, and get caught up on Registration confirmation postcards, too. Lots to do!

Friday Linkages!

Just some stuff that struck as amusing today…

Here’s a couple of intriguing products:The Lazy Drinker is a cooler that holds 16 bottles plus ice and automatically meters out any of 5,000 preprogrammed drinks. A steal at only $750!

A bit more attainable is the AeroPress, a device which squeezes foxes…no, that’s not right. Sorry, it’s a one-cup coffee maker that’s purported to make an excellent (as rated by coffee snobs!) cup of coffee in less than a minute. I’m intrigued, but I’m not sure if I’d go through the hassle to make one cup at a time. Good for traveling, though.

ursulav amused me immensely this morning with her post comparing the Bible to Jesus fanfic. I especially liked the speculation that some of the proto-gospels were crappily written
and full of Mary Sue disciples who all had green eyes and Jesus fell madly in love with them and…wait, was that the Last Temptation of Christ?

Via the ever-useful Lifehacker, we have Tab Mix Plus, a fabulous extension for Firefox which is an excellent tab manager, plus is saves your session if Firefox crashes, so you can pick up where you left off, and a couple of other nifty things. I just installed it last night and I like it!

And finally: Happy birthday, siriuswolfstar!

Wednesday? What happened to Monday and Tuesday?

Man, am I getting slack at updating or what? I do try to make up for it in comments in other people’s journals, though.

Not a whole lot happened last week, so it’s not really worth mentioning. We were going to try to do some scouting for FRAC but takaza was feeling a bit under the weather so we got a late start. We were able to drive around and nail down a few locations, though. This edition is going to be a real hoot, I think, and folks are going to have a lot of fun. Look for some announcements on this very soon.

On Sunday we took things kind of slow, though we did eventually get out to make the rounds of shopping. The Suncoast Video store at Randhurst Mall is closing so we stopped by there to look at the store fixtures and see what was left in the picked-over DVD inventory. I got a copy of Passion in the Desert and we picked up a copy of Escanaba in da Moonlight for Linnaeus, both for about four bucks. We also picked up a nice shelving unit that will be helpful for MFF, possibly for holding stuff on the freebie table, and some small plastic sign holders (that they threw in for free) that will be handy at Anthrocon. Dan’s going to go back on Friday to see if he can get a deal on the registers – the main units are crap, and beat all to hell, but the cash drawers aren’t bad and could be useful for a future POS system at Anthrocon. They’ll have to be extremely cheap, though.

Dan and I broke our usual after-work routine on Monday by going to the volunteers meeting for Night of 100 Champions, a fundraiser for Gay Games Chicago. It was amusing that, while they were expecting two, maybe three hours out of their volunteers, we pretty much said we’d be available all day and into the evening, plus we’d help out at the brunch the following day. It sounds like we’ll be helping with setup, “entertainment assistance” (still to be determined, but helping out with the evening’s musical entertainment somehow), and possibly even welcoming people into the Soldier Field parking lots on “Segway patrol” (though that depends on whether they’ll waive the 260-pound Segway limit). It’s going to be a really impressive event, and the raffle and silent auction items are quite impressive (15 round trip airline tickets donated by Orbitz, complete cruises for eight donated by Olivia, and a lot of other cool stuff). Dan is trying to get his employer (a certain large German multinational corporation) involved as a sponsor for the Gay Games, and thinks that there’s a good chance of that. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in helping out, they still need volunteers! There will be a last-minute planning meeting on Monday, April 17 (at DeVry at Belmont and Western, I think?) where you can show up. We’ll be there, and it would be great to see some of our other friends involved.

As an aside, a nice bit of Gay-Games-related news: The Crystal Lake City Council voted 6-1 last night to allow Gay Games Chicago to use Crystal Lake for their rowing competition. I especially liked this quote: “This issue, for some reason, has become quite an emotional issue in our community,” [Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron] Shepley told residents before the public comment. “We will treat each other with the respect we owe each other as human beings.” Awesome! The next step is that the request has to go before the Lakewood Village Board next week (hopefully) for approval.

Yesterday Paul and I both had our annual physical exams (we go to the same doctor), so we decided to meet up for dinner with datahawk (Dan opted for a quiet night in). We wound up going to Froggy’s, a fabulous French restaurant in Highwood. Unfortunately, compared to the previous two times that we’ve been, the chef’s choice menu wasn’t quite up to snuff. While the rabbit casserole was tasty, the venison (though tender) was prepared in a way that gave it an acidic taste (not unlike sauerbraten) and the pheasant mousse stuffed with spinach wasn’t particularly flavorful or exciting. It wasn’t a bad mean, mind you, and it may just be that it was a Tuesday and the chef was off, or some such. Nevertheless this has spurred me into seeking out more restaurants in the area that have nifty (and inexpensive) tasting menus, and also to investigate other French restaurants on the North Side.

Tonight it’s back to the gym for an extended workout; to make up for the awful schedule I’ve been keeping there I’m going to have to go this Saturday and Sunday mornings to get back into the swing of things. It sounds like Dan’s going to be working late, so the grocery run may be put off one more day. Even though I’m out of milk for my cereal, I’m not missing it much (note to self: don’t ever buy Sugar-Smacks knockoffs again. Ick). I also need to start making lists for the weekend, since it looks like I’m going to be making quite a bit of chicken and dumplings for Saturday. Oh darn.

Well, time to get some work done!