Monthly Archives: February 2008

Midwest FurFest Newsletter: February/March 2008

Midwest FurFest 2008, “North to Alaska!”
November 21-23, 2008
Westin Chicago North Shore
Wheeling, IL

Greetings everyone!

The end of winter is in sight, and we here in Chicago are ready to shake off the blanket of snow that has all but smothered us this winter and move into spring. A time of rebirth, of starting anew…and starting to really get to work on bringing you Midwest FurFest 2008!

It’s early yet so we just have a few things to let you know about. Rest assured there’s much more on the way!

First and foremost, in addition to the talented Guests of Honor who we announced at the Closing Ceremonies of Midwest FurFest 2007, Matt and Darcy Sowers (Code Name: Hunter) and Lucky the Evil Dog (mascot for hire), we are pleased to announce our third Guest of Honor, Foxfeather Ženková!

Foxfeather is a gifted artist who works not only with paper and canvas but also leather and tagua, as well as sculptures, masks, and more. Her style ranges from the realistic to the more abstract, all firmly grounded in the beauty of the natural world. In addition, Foxfeather shares her home with a small menagerie of critters, including fennec foxes, pied crows, parrots, toucans, and a growing collection of rare reptiles; we hope that she will share some of her stories of raising and living with exotic animals as well.

For more information, see Foxfeather’s website at
The next important bit of information is that double rooms are SOLD OUT at the Westin Chicago North Shore. There are still plenty of king bed rooms available, though. You can reserve your room online by following the links from our website (

Also, we have finalized a procedure for reserving suites at the Westin Chicago North Shore! Look for an announcement from our Hotel Liaison, Takaza, in the coming week with what suites are available and how you can reserve yours. Suites will need to be reserved through a specific procedure, otherwise you may very well not get the convention discounted rate!
We also want to remind you that while the venerable but little-used MFF-Talk mailing list went away earlier this year, we are seeing more interest and discussion at the Midwest FurFest Forum, conveniently located at

The Midwest FurFest Forum are the official discussion forum for discussion about Midwest FurFest, room sharing, ride sharing, and more! Stop on by, register for an account (it’s free!), and join in the conversation.

You can also subscribe to MFF-Announce, a low-traffic mailing list with only official announcements from Midwest FurFest. For more information, visit

That’s all for now. We’ll be keeping you up to date on all the latest information throughout the year, though. Stay tuned!

“Medium Pimping” With Out-of-Town Friends

Work work work, busy busy busy. It’s a crazy week for me, but it’s time to take a break a write a bit about the past weekend.

On Saturday, takaza and I took the train into Chicago and met up with fordshepherd and his “Bestest Friend” Julie (tsk, kai_darkwolf – you’re just going to have to try harder improve your friend status). We met up at Union Station and then jumped in a cab to visit the West Loop location of Wishbone Restaurant. We had a light lunch and a thoroughly enjoyable conversation about random things.

Afterwards we walked a block west and admired Oprah’s Harpo Studios, then across the street and into the Oprah Store, mainly for Julie’s benefit. Ford tried extremely hard to get us thrown out of the store for not showing the utmost reverence for the Great and Powerful “O”; it was vastly amusing to watch the oh-so gay male salespeople giving us the stink-eye as it became more and more clear that we really didn’t belong there.

Once we escaped there, we started what seemed like a short walk but wound up being about two and a half miles through The Loop. Following a quick stop by Intelligentsia Coffee (which we had to pass on, since the place was jam-packed), we walked up to Moonstruck Chocolate. We relaxed for a bit there with some conversation and hot chocolate, then proceeded up Michigan Avenue for our next stop, Vosges Chocolate (at Ford’s insistence). This turned out to be a good call – I tried the Bianca Cocoa, an astonishing mix of vanilla, lemon myrtle, lavender, and white chocolate. It was truly delicious. I also picked up a “Rooster” truffle, made of Taleggio cheese, walnuts, vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate. Delicious!

Our next stop was Galt Toys, since Julie wanted to peruse stuffed animals. Alas, their selection was limited, but Ford did find a plush cheetah that he decided needed to come home with him. Finally, we went to the Disney Store and I learned that Rémy is apparently an extremely popular character – so popular they can’t keep any merchandise with him on it in stock. Ah well. Dan did pre-order the 101 Dalmatians DVD, so at least it was a worthwhile trip.

It was time to go back to Ford and Julie’s hotel, some flophouse called The Drake Hotel. Ford wanted to take a cab, but I pointed out that it was a short bus ride. I was informed that one does not simply “take the bus” to The Drake. This would qualify as “medium pimping”, and was simply not to be considered. So we took a cab 🙂 Following a brief tour of Ford and Julie’s room (luxuriously appointed, and an ingenuous use of a relatively small space) and their dropping off their purchases, it was back downstairs and into a cab for dinner.

We chose the restaurant for dinner, so of course we had to pick our favorite restaurant: Heaven on Seven. The meal was divine, as usual, and I went with the “Feed Me Jimmy Junior”. This time around that included: crawfish cake in remoulade, small samplers of gumbo and turtle soup (the latter the highlight of the meal for Ford, I think), a Voodoo chicken enchilada, and strip steak over mashed potatoes. For dessert, I can never turn down their chocolate pecan pie. It was a stellar meal, and the company was excellent. We parted ways after dinner, as Dan and I headed back to Union Station and the long train ride home. It was a fantastic day out with good friends, and I had a really good time. Somewhere in the course of the day Ford extracted a promise from Dan and I that we would be visiting Columbus sometime soon, so I suppose we’re bound to that. Oh darn!

We got a late start on Sunday (gosh, I wonder why?), but Dan and I had to part ways – he to help his mother get her DVR running properly and get her tax information to help her file them, and I to the Midwest FurFest storage locker. I met up with linnaeus there and we dug around a bit, looking for some Art Show equipment and checking out what Registration equipment Paul would have to work with. For lunch we went over to Pierogi Place (yum!) and had a nice like chat over lunch. That evening, there was the online MFF staff meeting, which went OK but not as well as I would have liked – I forgot to call on a few people, and I completely forgot to follow up on action items from the previous meeting. I’ll need to take better notes before the meeting next time to remind myself of these things.

This week is, as I said, quite busy. Between some projects finally getting off the ground and lots of meetings, it’s going to be hectic. But things are going well, and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. That counts for a lot, I guess!

Games, Cooking, and Constuff

It’s been pretty quiet over the last few days, which might explain the lack of updates – not a lot of exciting stuff going on.

takaza and I had a pleasant weekend together at home. On Friday Dan was feeling like a bit of retail therapy and between gift cards and Reward Zone credits we had $75 of credit for Best Buy, so we headed down to the BB in Mundelein. We stopped by the Gamestop there to look at their used PS2 games and I picked up a couple of games I hadn’t played before: God of War and Destroy All Humans! (I’m about five hours into God of War and it’s a whole lot of fun. A little more gory than a lot of games I’ve played, but the puzzles are fun and the action keeps things interesting.) As for Best Buy…well, we never did find anything that looked interesting. On the bright side, the next item that comes up on sale, we’ve got a $75 discount waiting to be used.

On Saturday, we bummed around the house most of the day, except for a run to the grocery store. Sunday I made Dan the chicken and dumplings I promised him for Valentine’s Day (a few days late), as well as the delicious semolina bread from Cookwise. Mostly we just sat around the house and enjoyed doing gloriously nothing.

This week has been pretty interesting. Dan will be transitioning from his old job to his new job until the end of the month (gotta love those internal transfers) so he was at the old location in Mount Prospect Monday, Tuesday, and this morning, then he’ll be at the new location in Buffalo Grove this afternoon and for the rest of the week. As for me, I got a couple of important reports turned in and I’m at a momentary lull until everything gets signed off and we’re working against the clock to finish a couple of projects. In the meantime I’m catching up on accumulated Midwest FurFest correspondence, and trying to resolve an annoying lingering issue with the house rental out in California (they’re trying to charge us for damage that we’re not responsible for).

Looking ahead to this weekend, we’ll be going by the MFF storage locker on Saturday to try to track down some convention assets and answer a couple of questions. Since we’ll be out and about, we’ll probably make a couple of stops (I want to swing by Ikea) and maybe even be social. No plans yet, but we’ll see what happens. Sunday evening is the online MFF staff meeting, and we also need to put together all the numbers for the Point of Sale hardware and software for Anthrocon’s Artists Alley. Oh, and speaking of conventions, congratulations to tozier_wah for signing on to run the Information Desk at Midwest FurFest. We own your soul I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

Birthday Bonus Round!

So just when I thought the birthday fun was wrapping up with our return from California, we had one more night of entertainment. Courtesy of a very thoughtful gift from steviemaxwell, takaza and I were treated to a tasty steak dinner at the King’s Wharf at the Marriott Lincolnshire, followed by great seats at the Marriott Theatre to see opening night of Les Miserables.

It was quite a large production for a relatively small theater, and had the additional unique quality of being staged in the round. Since Dan and I are both geeks, we appreciated the production values, the quality of the music and amplification, and the entrances and exits through the audiences. It was an awesome show. Thanks Stevie!

California Birthday Trip: Days 3 & The End

The last day’s pictures are here.

Monday was The Big Day, my birthday. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything we could do to top the two days prior, but I was looking forward to seeing what was in store. The day’s plans were a mystery to me, (except for dinner), so I had no idea what to expect.

The first stop of the day had us up and out of the house by 9 AM. Following a 45-minute drive to Santa Rosa (and a little bit of confusion in directions), we arrived at our next stop, one that was a genuine surprise to me: The national headquarters of Canine Companions for Independence. linnaeus‘ mother has raised several puppies for CCI, so when he found out we would be nearby, he suggested a tour there. Really, this was a most amazing and humbling experience, and I am so glad that we went there.

CCI trains and provides assistance dogs to disabled children and adults, all at no charge. They use black labs and golden retrievers exclusively, and the level of care and training that goes into each dog is simply astonishing. We got to take a tour of their grounds and offices, and see how they train the dogs after the puppy raisers initial training, lasting
6-8 months. This is followed by 6-9 months of training at the CCI facility before the dogs are paired with a client, either as a service or companion team (opening doors, picking up dropped items, etc.), a hearing team (alerting the client of a ringing telephone, etc.), or a facility team (therapy dogs). I was extremely impressed with the facility and with the friendly people who worked and volunteered there.
After the tour it was back to Napa. We grabbed a tasty lunch at a local burger joint then it was on to the next surprise: a day spa! It was quite delightful: I got a 75-minute massage followed by a pedicure; takaza got a facial, roho and genet each got pedicures and Lydia also got a manicure. Even Paul, who got pulled away by work for a few hours, was able to get a nice paraffin hand treatment. My massage was divine, and when Paul rejoined us he brought a bottle of wine for everyone to enjoy as well. Our manicurist, Babs, was delightful and we had a lot of fun bantering and hanging out.

After everyone was properly relaxed and such, we stopped by Oxbow Market to search for some good local olive oil. We found a couple bottles that were quite delicious. We also stopped by a very nice wine and cheese bar and had a couple pints of beer, which were quite tasty. We were quite amused to chat with the bartender there and find that she was from the south side of Chicago.

We ended the day with dinner at Bouchon Bistro. My food was quite outstanding: I started with an appetizer of cassoulet with duck confit and garlic sausage, followed by the Gigot d’Agneau (roasted leg of lamb served with flageolet beans and a thyme jus) and for dessert a delicious creme caramel. Brendan’s boudin blanc was excellent, and the desserts, especially Dan’s dark chocolate mousse and Lydia’s blood orange pot de creme, were outstanding. Unfortunately, the service was only mediocre (long waits, confused orders), and Dan and Lydia’s steak frites were quite lacking for the cost. Still, it was a great experience and I am glad we went. It was a wonderful way to finish off my birthday.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Yesterday (Tuesday) we packed everything up early, leaving the house at 7 AM, and drove down to San Francisco International (by way of the San Mateo Bridge, on Babs’ advice, which I’m sure saved us some headaches). We made it there in plenty of time, though our flight turned out to be two hours late departing (one hour of that spent sitting on the tarmac). We got into O’Hare at about 7 PM, and picked up our luggage just in time to miss the Metra train home. Rather than waiting the 90 minutes until the next train, we opted to catch a cab, and I’m glad we did. We saw Brendan and Lydia off at about 9:30 PM, and got to bed at 11 PM.

So here I am, back at work, and quite exhausted. I’m told we have one more experience this evening, courtesy of a certain panda. That should be quite fun as well!