Monthly Archives: April 2008

Great Weekend Wrapup!

What a great weekend! Uptime and downtime – the best of all worlds.

On Friday I was feeling antsy and wanted to get out, so takaza and I met up with roho and genet for dinner at the always-fabulous Scott Dogs. My jumbo shrimp were indeed quite jumbo, and extremely delicious! It’s always such a pleasure to go there because Scotty and his aunt (whose name, shamefully, continues to escape me) always recognize us, make sure to ask how our food was, and really go out of their way to make sure the meal is a special one.

Saturday morning found us hard at work clearing out Dan’s office. He had emptied out the storage closet down there a month or so back and we kept meaning to get everything re-stowed, so now was the time to take care of it. Unfortunately my back was giving me some pain so after about 45 minutes I had to turn it over to him. In the meantime went upstairs and finished making a couple of loaves of a fantastic multigrain bread. The went into the oven just as people started showing up for Game Day. Our guests included aeto, Roho, Genet, posicat, nymphara and her boyfriend Nick, colliedoc, hypersnazz, woodychitwn, truegrave9, and Bob.

We played several games, including a nice round of poker, Cosmic Wimpout, Blokus (I blame rigelkitty – on the strength of his good comments about this game we picked it up. It’s a lot of fun!), Quelf (an aggressively zany and wacky board game – think Cranium, only trying way too hard), and Catchphrase (another good game we learned of from Rigel and xydexx). Pizza was ordered, beverages were consumed, and a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone for coming! We’ll definitely have to do one of these again soon (and not schedule it again softball 🙂

On Sunday, we did…nothing. Well, we did laundry, but mostly we just did nothing. And it was good.

Coming up this week, I’m trying to interest tozier_wah and little_wolf in a beer and cheese tasting at Milwaukee Public Market on Thursday evening – anyone else interested?

Oh, and I finally got a LinkedIn profile. I’m not sure how useful it is or anything, but hey – feel free to add me to your network!

Public Service Announcement: Rooms for Anthrocon Are Available!

This is a reminder that today is the day that the Westin Pittsburgh Convention Center charges the first night on all reservations that have been booked for Anthrocon (presumably, those who have reserved have gotten e-mails about this already). The Omni will be doing something similar on May 2. All of this is well-documented on Anthrocon’s hotel page.

A by-product of these facts is that all the people who booked rooms when they were unsure of whether they would attend or not are being forced to decide, and those that aren’t going are cancelling their reservations. This is good news for people who didn’t get a room, though! Right now rooms are available at both the Westin and the Omni! Make your reservation now! (though be prepared to pay for your first night when you reserve, at least at the Westin.)

Oh yeah, LiveJournal. I remember this thing…

I’m late with my weekend recap, but there’s not too much to say. Saturday we spent over at takaza‘s mom’s house with his family, playing various games and enjoying the mountain of food she cooked up for the occasion. On Sunday we didn’t do too much, mainly just relaxed around the house. I had gotten a very specific pain on Saturday night that was causing a bit of concern (on my back, just over the right kidney) that left me feeling rather blah and playing havoc with sleeping that night; that has since dwindled to nothing, so I’m hoping it was just a passing thing. Other than that, a rather unremarkable weekend.

This week finds me in statistics class (yes, again), this time learning about Design of Experiments and Variation Transmission Analysis (not Variable Transmission Analysis, which makes a lot more sense to my mind, but probably a bit too automotive). The glorious thing is that I don’t have to be in at work until 8:15 AM or so, compared to the usual 7 AM, though I’m still waking up at 5:30 AM with Dan. I’m able to enjoy my mornings a bit more, so that’s nice.

It’s still two months away, but Anthrocon is weighing heavily on our minds right now. Part of that is the fact that we have three large cash registers sitting on our dining room table. Both Dan and I are teaching ourselves how to program these for the Artists Alley; we’re hoping that these will help streamline the process a bit and make things easier for everyone involved. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few potential staff recruits; I need at least two or three more folks before I can stem the rising panic I’m feeling.

Which brings me to this: I am taking volunteers for Anthrocon Artists Alley/Con Store. In exchange for at least fifteen hours of your time, you will get free entry into Anthrocon, a free T-shirt, dinner on Sunday night (a nice dinner, too!), and the luxury of bypassing the registration lines and picking up your registration materials in Operations! If you’re interested, leave a comment here or e-mail me at alley-2008 [at] anthrocon.org.

Not much else going on this week. We may have a wah crashing at our place for a day or two during his transition to life behind the Cheddar Curtain, but other than that there’s not too much is going on.

FCN, Part 2: Food Fun!

And now…the rest of the story.

As I mentioned, the convention this weekend was quite a different experience for me. For one thing, I learned something that apparently other people do when they go to conventions. Yes, I…left the convention! I actually set foot outside of the hotel while the convention was taking place. This was a new and fascinating thing for me, something that I very rarely have had time to do when working Anthrocon or Midwest Furfest. So what did I do?

It all gets summed up in four words: I am Zingerman’s bitch. You’re going to be hungry after you read this…

Furry Connection North: One Down, Many More to Go (Hopefully!)

Furry Connection North. It was a weekend so big it’s going to need two posts to cover it!

First off, let’s talk about the convention. From everything that I saw, girtygrin and his staff did an outstanding job. All of the staff was extremely cordial and friendly. Things ran on time (if not early!). The sponsor lounge was very good, and the complimentary beer (Bell’s Amber Ale and Oberon) was excellent. All in all, they can give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Speaking personally, I really appreciate that Gir went out of his way to make our experience a pleasant one.

So that meant that I had a great time at the convention, right? Well…not so much. I can’t stress this enough, though: this is absolutely no fault of FCN or anyone associated with it. As I have suspected all along, if I go to a convention and I’m not volunteering in some fashion, I’m bored. It’s how I’m wired, I guess, but there it is. I think I needed to recalibrate my approach to conventions a bit, and by the end of the weekend I was doing a lot better. I was a lot more outgoing and social, and I met a lot of new people and got to spend time with folks who I don’t often see. It was a real pleasure to spend more time with tervicz and to make the acquaintance of jet_der_hund. I also had a blast hanging out with huskydoggeh, kodi_pup, dexcat, Dexgirl, and of course all the usual gang of miscreants from Chicago and Chambana.

The hotel…yeah, the hotel. We had been to the Best Western Executive Plaza for Dorsai Thing last year, so we knew what to expect. Then, and this weekend, we stayed in the “tower”, which was the newer side of the hotel; our suite had a bit of an odd odor to it and the furnishings were somewhere well past “worn out”. I hadn’t realized though that the other parts of the hotel were quite so…grim. The lack of air conditioning would have killed me, and there was unfortunately a litany of other complaints as well. The reviews on TripAdvisor pretty much sum things up. Also, mirkowuff hit it on the head: “This was probably a fantastic hotel – in 1984.” Granted, the costs were reasonable and it enabled a first-year convention to get its feet under it, so it definitely served its purpose.

So, what did I do to fill the time this weekend? Well, that’ll have to wait for the next post.

All Our Bags Are Packed, We’re Ready To Go

But thank heavens, we’re not leaving on a jet plane!

We are, however, leaving in a Honda Element. Takaza has practiced his usual packing-fu and squeezed the ridiculous amount of stuff that we’re bringing to Furry Connection North into a small enough space that the passenger will still be able to stretch out and sleep in the car if so inclined. Our alarm will be going off at 4:15 AM tomorrow and we’ll be on the road within 30 minutes of that. The idea is to get a jump on the sure-to-be-crappy traffic (rain+thunderstorms+rush hour traffic=hating life) and also to get in to the con before Dan has a conference call for work at 10 AM CDT, since riding in a car with an uncertain cellular signal is suboptimal for such things. But hey, on the bright side, we’ll be there for Opening Ceremonies!

Now, to go fold one last load of laundry and watch last night’s Top Chef before going off to bed. Hope to see many of our friends at FCN!

Best Game Ever

I admit that some of Improv Everywhere‘s stunts can be hilarious (“Look Up More” and the recent “Food Court Musical” were great), but some, like “Slo Mo Home Depot”, can be kind of dumb.

Their latest is the best I’ve seen so far, though, and it has a really nice “feel-good” theme to it: take a random Little League game and make it the Best Game Ever for the parents, players, and coaches. Be sure to read the whole entry because there’s lots of details that don’t appear in the video, too!

Here, have some MFF spam :-)

Midwest FurFest is pleased to announce that Suite Reservation Requests and Fursuit Floor Requests are now available!

The Westin Chicago North Shore has a limited number of suites available, including Junior Suites ($159/night), Westin Workout Suites ($159/night), Executive Suites ($259/night), and Deluxe Suites ($459/night). Please see our suite request page for room diagrams and pictures. The Suite Request page can be found at http://www.furfest.org/2008/mff2008-suiterequests.html

We are also pleased to announce that Fursuit Floor requests are now being taken. These will be for rooms on the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the Westin Chicago North Shore. To make a request, you will need the real name of the person who made the original reservation, as well as the reservation confirmation number. The Fursuit Floor Request page can be found at http://www.furfest.org/2008/mff2008-fursuitfloorrequests.html

Do you have questions about suite requests or fursuit floor requests? You can always send an e-mail to our hotel liaison at hotel.2008@furfest.org.

Early Spring Weekend, Take 1

What a great weekend! The skies were sunny, the temperatures were above 60 degrees (F), which made it cause to at least open a few windows and air out the house a bit to celebrate the impending spring (geeky meteorological note: This was the first weekend in Chicago in six months where the highs on both Saturday and Sunday have been over 60 degrees, according to Tom Skilling).

As I mentioned on Friday, takaza and justincheetah attended the Cubs game while I slaved over a hot computer at work (there’s some neat tales to be told from that, but I’ll let Dan tell that story). After work, I drove down and met them and calapurr, then from there we met up with perro and darkwolph, then headed over to kodi_pup‘s swanky new digs, where we were joined by invncble.

After some hemming and hawing (and being assisted by Cheetah’s forethought to bring his EVDO-equipped laptop with OpenTable bookmarked), we decided to head down to Emmett’s Ale House. Tasty beer was had, and my burger with portabellas, sautéed onions, and Boursin was divine. The company was excellent as well! Afterwards we retired back to Cheetah and Cala’s to watch Ratatouille, but Dan and I had to bow out early due to the long drive home. What a great evening, though!

On Saturday we celebrated the weather by getting out and indulging in some retail therapy. Highlights included some wardrobe expansion at Berman’s, some tasty ice cream, picking up some lovely rosemary-mint bath products, finally spending my Williams Sonoma gift card (thanks colliedoc!), and making our second round of purchases for a certain party next weekend. Oh, and getting sleazed on by the used car Sleep Number bed salesman. I’m afraid it will take more than just sweet-talking to get us to buy at $2,500 – $3,000 bed.

We were tired after all that running around, so we opted to go home and crash in lieu of further socializing. Thanks to tozier_wah and Perro for the invite, though!

The weather on Sunday was every bit as lovely as Saturday’s. Following a nice and relaxing morning and a quick grocery run, roho, genet, and linnaeus came over for some very enjoyable grilling. Nothing complicated, just burgers and brats and grilled veggies, but it was all delicious. The evening flew by and we had a lot of fun. It’s so nice to know that the grilling season will soon be on us. My to-do list for smoking includes ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, and chicken or turkey. I can’t wait!

This week is going to be pretty low-key. Since we’re heading out to Ann Arbor on Friday, we’re going to stay in, keep costs down, and get ready for the weekend. I’ve got a couple of statistics classes on Wednesday and Thursday, so this is effectively a two-day work week for me, which is quite lovely. I’ve got a rather extended to-do list of stuff for MFF tonight, though, so there’s plenty to keep me occupied at work and at home!

Friday’s here, let’s all cheer!

Well, I’m not cheering as much as takaza, who took off this afternoon to go see the Cubs play. If it were 80 degrees on a nice late-spring day, maybe – 47 degrees and 15 mph winds coming in off the lake, not so much. Still, I hope he’s having a good time as I write this. The good news is that since I worked last Saturday my boss was nice enough to give me next Friday off, which means an earlier start to Furry Connection North for us. We’ll probably take off just after morning rush hour, and get to Ann Arbor at around 2:30 PM or so. We’re looking forward to it!

So as I mentioned earlier, on Wednesday Dan and I decided to go out for dinner and try Lindy’s Landing in Wauconda. Not only did their specials look good, but they have NTN! They were in the middle of a poker tournament on NTN when we got there, but the staff was nice enough to turn one of their many TV’s to the NTN Trivia channel for us. The food was OK – the fried wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks were a pleasantly crunchy diversion from the usual, and the garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli that came with my meatloaf were tasty. Alas, the meatloaf itself was rather tasteless and covered up by a spicy barbecue sauce (?!) that masked whatever flavor there might have been. Dan’s pizza was to his liking, at least. I was impressed that when I ordered a 23 ounce Fat Tire Ale, I was told that they were out of tall glasses so the waitress just gave me two pint glasses – all for three bucks! We’ll
definitely be going back.
The only other item of note from this week was the surprising revelation that I can actually find a frozen entree that isn’t completely nasty! Garden Fresh Market carries a line of frozen Indian from SWAD Foods. I picked up the mutter paneer a few weeks back and finally got around to making it. I made up some white rice and served it with the mutter paneer and…wow! Excellent flavor, and a surprising spiciness that I’m not used to from a frozen entree. I’ll definitely be picking up a few more of these entrees to keep in the freezer.

Plans for this evening are kind of hazy. Depending on how the afternoon goes for him, I may go into the city and meet Dan or I may just hang out at home. As for the weekend, the plans we had for Saturday night fell through, so we’re kind of at loose ends. We’ll see what develops!

Everything Old Is New Again

Those of you who know me know I’m definitely not a “car guy”, but this amused me. On my commute in this morning, I was driving behind a Volvo C30:

It reminded me for all the world of one of these:

Mmm, gotta love those AMC Pacers…