Monthly Archives: June 2008

And We’re Home

We rolled in about an hour ago. Unpacked what needed to be unpacked, and we’re relaxing now. takaza is blessed with more vacation each year so he’s taking tomorrow off. Lucky me, I get to go in to work tomorrow. It’s gonna be a long day.

Heading Home From Anthrocon

Anthrocon was a huge success. $40,000 paid out to artists in Artists Alley. All that preparation, worrying, and stress paid off as the Alley worked flawlessly. My staff was top-notch and I spent the weekend much more relaxed than in past years.

We’re already making plans for next year, of course. The biggest change: Never mind Hall C, we’re going to be in Hall B. That’s twice the size of Hall C. Great googly moogly. Rooth and I have worked up a short (ha!) list of improvements for next year, too.

We left Pittsburgh at 1 PM ET; we’re just east of Toledo now. With luck we’ll be home by 9 PM CT.

Thanks so much to everyone who made this such a great year. Exhaustively detailed report(s) to follow, naturally.

Good AC so far

It’s 7:30 AM an I’m at Steel City Diner enjoying some chocolate chip pancakes and coffee. Yesterday went well – stupendously, actually. We paid 50% more artists than last year in half the time it has usually taken on Fridays. Over $18,000 has gone to the artists so far, and much more to come today and tomorrow. I am fortunate to have a kick-ass staff that is helping to make this all happen, and Takaza and his staff are doing amazingly well too. Here’s hoping today rocks as much as yesterday!

Packed and Ready To Go! And Some Links

Last night we got takaza‘s car packed (stuffed to the gills, actually – we had to remove the back seats of his Element. Three cash registers take up a lot of space!) and it’s parked in the garage. I dropped him off at the train station this morning, so all I need to do when I leave here at 2 PM is go home and toss a few final things into his car (like my laptop). I pick him up from work at 3 PM and then we’re off! We’re driving as far as Independence, OH tonight, then we’ll be arriving in Pittsburgh at around noon tomorrow.

All that’s left now if for me to try to be productive until 2 PM. Yeah, wish me luck on that.

To distract and amuse myself, I give you…links!
All You Can Eat Bacon? It’s a heart attack waiting to happen and yet heavenly at the same time! Sounds like a fun place to visit in Chicago, though.

You know what the world needs? It needs a bacon cheeseburger sausage!

Keeping with the theme, there’s something to be said for “bacon textiles” – it’s delicious!

OK, enough with the bacon. Let’s talk about Monopoly + nukes.

Finally, because Anthrocon is so much on my mind, I’ll point out the handy Official Anthrocon Map to those who will be attending. I just added a couple of interesting nearby restaurants yesterday (as recommended by roadfood.com!). linnaeus, if you get some time, you might want to check out Robert Wholey & Co., located only a few blocks from the hotel towards the Strip District – it looks like an interesting food market with great seafood dishes. Heck, if I’m free I want to go with you! If I get a chance, I also wouldn’t mind going to DeLuca’s (“best breakfast in Pittsburgh”).

Four hours to go! Time to look busy…

Livin’ the Suite Life

Now that was a truly amazing weekend, and exactly what I needed!

With Anthrocon quickly coming up, I admit I was not the most pleasant company for much of last week. Worries about preparations compounded with concerns about projects that were hitting at work right after the convention had me irritable and sleeping quite poorly. takaza, as always, was a saint and put up with me somehow. Then on Friday, I realized that 95% of what I needed for the convention was done and what wasn’t done could be handled at the con. At the same time, I found out that due to equipment and material delivery issues, my projects were being pushed back to late July. All of this set the tone for me to be very relaxed for the weekend.

We kicked off the weekend by checking into the Westin Chicago North Shore. You see, Dan won a free weekend in the Wheeling Suite there (yes, the suite which will be home to the Con Suite at Midwest FurFest) and he suggested that this would be the ideal weekend for it. So after we got settled in, he had to go have lunch with his cow-orkers. I met up with daveqat, jimcyl, and linnaeus and we had dinner at Wakaba, a Japanese restaurant just up the road from the hotel. It was…underwhelming. Standard suburban strip-mall sushi, at slightly inflated prices. I don’t see us going back there. After dinner we relaxed on the suite balcony (15 floors up) and relaxed. That was a nice end to the evening.

Saturday brought Dan’s company picnic. He was in an organizational role this year (yeah, imagine that) and so I was left to run bingo myself. Fortunately, Paul, roho, and genet volunteered to lend a hand, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon calling bingo to several hundred people and giving away over a thousand dollars in gift cards. It was surprisingly entertaining. Afterwards, we had a quick but refreshing swim in the hotel pool, then it was time for the party.

What’s the fun of having a ritzy suite if you can’t have a party? We welcomes a small group of friends up to the suite, ordered pizza, and mixed up some drinks. The weather was perfect as we chatted out on the balconies, admiring the views and watching fireworks set off in distant towns. We took a break at about 10 PM and everyone went down and swam for an hour until the pool closed, then it was back upstairs to chat and refill our drinks. I had a fantastic time and the party really let me relax and not worry about work or Anthrocon.

On Sunday it was time to check out (after sleeping relatively late). jet_der_hund had spent the night with us, and he kindly assisted us in carrying all of our stuff down. Dan took a nap in the afternoon while I puttered with Anthrocon preparations. Following a reasonably short online MFF staff meeting, we both worked on AC stuff while I introduced Dan to some of Big Blue Fox’s outstanding megamixes.

And now it’s Monday and I’m back at work. I’m going to struggle to maintain focus and get stuff done here, but I leave here at 2 PM tomorrow, pick up Dan from work, and then we head for a brief overnight in Cleveland, then Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. By the way, A note to folks in general: if you e-mail me between now and the coming weekend, don’t expect any response until after Anthrocon at the earliest!

I Hear Some People Relax On Weekends…

Yuck. I woke up a few times last night so I’m really dragging this afternoon. Fun.

Not a bad weekend overall. We were up far too early Saturday to drive down to Naperville to meet up with unclekage, who was in town for Duckon. Breakfast was acquired at Juicy-O (missed you by 24 hours, perro!). As always, the meal was excellent and we had a great time discussing last-minute Anthrocon business. We hung out and talked a bit more (and complained about Anthrocon’s stealing Midwest FurFest‘s ideas on a certain nifty tidbit, though really it was just that they hit on an idea at the same time we did 🙂 then we took our leave. On the way home we picked up a few things from the MFF storage locker and ran a few errands, then takaza took a short nap once we got back home.

A short while later it was down to Lincolnshire to see Kung Fu Panda on the biiiiig IMAX screen with linnaeus, genet, and midwestcougar. The movie was technically excellent – they did a really great job on the textures and the character design, and that was really highlighted on the ginormous screen. The content of the movie…Eh. I’d call it adequately entertaining, but nothing too fantastic. My biggest problem is the same one I always have with stars cast in voice roles – Jack Black spoke and I didn’t see a giant panda, I saw Jack Black. Others may not have a problem with this and may enjoy the movie more, but it didn’t really blow me away.

After the movie Jaycee had to take her leave, but the rest of us drove through a sudden thunderstorm up to Gurnee to meet roho for a tasty Indian meal at Bombay City. Nom naan nom!

Sunday was stressful, even though we didn’t even leave the house. I spent the day working on Artists Alley stuff, programming registers, finalizing documentation, and other fun stuff like that. I got most of what I wanted to accomplish done, but I still have several documents to write up. Dan was working on similar things for the finance office and I think we both got stressed out and started annoying each other. We got it worked out, though, and were able to relax later in the evening.

And here we are, eight days before we hit the road for Pittsburgh. I still have a lot to do, including making the Artists Alley/Con Store staff schedule. It looks like we’ll be getting together with some friends on Wednesday, then next weekend is pretty much shot with Dan’s company picnic and other stuff going on. I should be able to take a breather sometime around July 4th. Yowza!

Bouncing Across the Country

Well, that was fun. I wrapped up my trip to Atlanta yesterday. After grabbing a quick breakfast at a ubiquitous Starbucks, my cow-orker and I met with the vendor and worked through the software we were reviewing one more time. It was very productive and I was glad that I made the trip. After we wrapped up, a rep from another part of the vendor’s company took us to lunch at a fantastic Japanese restaurant.

After lunch we were in a bit of a time crunch to get back to the airport. Fortunately, we had a Mustang and were driving on I-85 through downtown Atlanta – 85 mph the whole way? Sure, why not! I was glad my cow-orker had the car on his credit card when we dropped it off, though – the $156 bill for two days will be fun for him to explain ($63 of that courtesy of Avis’ “Fuel Service Option” was the culprit, as they charged him for a full tank of gas). The flight back was uneventful, though I will never again take a window seat on a CRJ if I can avoid it – I spent the whole flight bent slightly to the left, and had no room to do much more than listen to my iPod and read a magazine.

takaza was of course wonderful and had a tasty dinner of mashed potatoes and pork tenderloin on the stove when I got home. Unfortunately, due to some Anthrocon-related screwups I fell into a truly vile mood, but Dan was sweet and put up with me. Dinner was quite tasty and afterwards we played some Boom Blox, which Dan had picked up the day before.

And here was are on Thursday. Things have been a bit slow as I try to ramp back up from being away. I just found out that the project I was working on that HAD TO HAPPEN by the end of the month, then got delayed due to paperwork, will now be delayed even more since the process engineer in charge of it put in his two-weeks’ notice. Ah, life in the corporation. I’m just glad tomorrow is Friday.

…and back down South again

Well, briefly, anyway.

This morning I left at my usual time, but instead of going to work I headed north once again to Milwaukee International Airport. I caught a 9:55 AM flight out on Delta. Man, I got spoiled on Midwest. This was a CRJ-700, and I was crammed into an aisle seat with a big guy in the window seat. Not fun. But the flight was uneventful and I met up with my cow-orker at the Avis counter at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

The clerk there assigned us our car; I heard her say the space but missed what kind of car it was. We got to the lot and there it was…a cherry-red 2007 Ford Mustang. Oh my. And my cow-orker wanted me to drive since I know the area. Oh darn! It’s a fun car. The suspension is kind of rough, but the acceleration is smooth and it wants to go fast. I wasn’t paying attention as we drove up the Downtown Connector and I looked down and oh look, I was doing 85, pushing 90. Whoopsie!

We stumbled around a bit looking for a place for lunch before settling on a Korean BBQ place. Neither of us knew anything about Korean BBQ, but what the hell. It was quite excellent – we split a dish of beef and mushrooms in a slightly sweet broth, served with rice and about a dozen different side dishes. The kim chee was quite tasty, and nowhere near as pungent as some versions I’d had elsewhere. the only moment of unintentional hilarity was when I misheard the waitress’ broken English and thought that she had given me a bowl of soup. No, it was sauce, though my cow-orker said my eyes bugging out when I took a sip of it was quite entertaining.

We spent the rest of the afternoon with the vendor, and I am pleased to say that my presence on this trip was warranted. I had some good input on the project we’re working on and we’ve established a good rapport with the guys there. For dinner tonight, they took us out to a fantastic Argentinian steakhouse. Capirihas and steak? I was in heaven! After we got back to the hotel, my cow-orker was ready to go out and drink some beers and shoot some pool. I tossed him the keys to the Mustang and told him to have fun – I was going to bed.

Tomorrow should be good. We’re going to hammer out the last bits of the project and make some lists of what still needs to be done. I expect we’ll have a tasty lunch somewhere, then it’s back to the airport. I hope to be back in takaza‘s arms by 7 PM. Yay! But now it’s off to sleep…

Crazy times ahead

It’s been a while since my last substantial update. Obviously, I made it home from South Carolina OK. My flights were on Midwest Airlines from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Now, Midwest’s prices are usually more expensive than most, but in this case it was only an extra $10 or so. For that I got nice wide leather seats (the equivalent of business class on United or American) on a comfy Boeing 717, free sodas (two rounds), and of course the vaunted chocolate chip cookies (which weren’t all that great, but they were free!). I’m sad to hear that they’re rolling out “Saver” service, which will convert the majority of the 717 cabins from 2 x 2 seating to 2 x 3 seating, which will make them a lot less attractive to me. One thing I did learn in all this, though: Milwaukee Airport is a hell of a lot easier to fly in and out of than O’Hare! Given that MKE is just another 10 miles’ drive for us vs. ORD, MKE is now my airport of choice when fares allow.

So anyway, I got back very late on Monday night. Tuesday I was dragging at work, but got a lot of stuff done. When I started the week, things were looking hectic: two projects that MUST be done by June 30, and we were going to be scrambling especially since I’ll be gone to Anthrocon from June 24-30. As the week went on, though, things started to fall apart. The one project that could have had me working weekends until Anthrocon ran into regulatory delays and is now pushed back to mid-July at the earliest, more likely August. As for the other project, a new packaging line, the equipment won’t be delivered until June 27th at the earliest. Given that I’m not comfortable writing a protocol without the equipment in front of me, and that the following week is Summer Shutdown (meaning that while I have to be there, most of the people who need to sign off on the protocol won’t be there), I don’t expect that we’ll be able to start the validation until July 7th at the earliest. So, now it looks like July is going to be busy, but at least my June has opened up a whole lot!

Also, a funny thing about my trip down South: originally, I was supposed to visit a vendor in Atlanta who is supplying software for the packaging line on Tuesday and Wednesday. I changed my ticket accordingly, and life was good. Except they weren’t ready, and needed to reschedule. So I changed my ticket back. Net result: my employer paid $250 for me not to visit the vendor 🙂 Such is the way of business travel. However, they rescheduled the vendor visit to this Tuesday and Wednesday. So guess who’s flying BACK to Atlanta? The engineer I’m flying with booked a United flight out of O’Hare, but I was able to get a cheaper flight at the same times from Milwaukee (alas, on Delta not Midwest – Midwest’s fare was $600 vs. Delta’s $300). Granted, although we’re supposed to take off and land at roughly the same times, any guesses who I expect will be first to arrive in each case? Hint: O’Hare on a summer weekday afternoon is approximately the fourth circle of Hell.

So work his kept me quite busy this week, as you can see. In my spare (!) time I’ve been working on Artists Alley stuff for Anthrocon, programming the cash registers and working on documentation. rooth, I’ll be e-mailing you this weekend about spreadsheet applications. I found out last week that instead of the 100 seats we were going to have in the Alley this year (compared to last year’s 80), the number looks closer to 120. This explains my panicked post seeking more staff. I’m pleased to say that delphi_of_clf and tecknow have signed on, along with the rest of the Artists Alley/Con Store staff: frostyw98, woodychitwn, ramalion, shy_matsi, chanur2000, rooth, space-dingo, and of course Grandma and Grandpa Kage. As soon as the programming schedule is released (something I’ve heard will be happening Very Soon Now) I’ll be contacting folks to see when they will be available, then build a staff schedule around that. Gosh, the things we do for fun!

So, what’s going on this weekend for takaza and I? Nothing. Absolutely, gloriously nothing. No plans. It’s quite lovely, really 🙂 I expect we’ll venture out and do something, perhaps, but we’ll see what the days bring.

The last day to pre-register for Anthrocon is TODAY!

(Copied from mongologue‘s post to the Anthrocon website)

Pre-Registration for Anthrocon 2008 will be coming to a close today on June 6th, at 11:59 PM EST. Pre-Registration not only gets you in a line which moves at least twice as fast as On-Site Registration, but it’s $5 cheaper for Attending memberships, and only Pre-Registered SuperSponsors can attend the luncheon with Floyd Norman. Over 2,150 people have pre-registered already for Anthrocon 2008; these folks know the advantage to quick lines, discounts, and one less thing to worry about at the convention.

http://www.anthrocon.org/registration is the URL.

So Pre-Register! It’s great for Anthrocon, and okay for you!

–Chiaroscuro

Seriously, I recommend pre-registering. You will be happy you did!

Birthday Surprise 2008: Success!

Greetings from South Carolina!

I had posted about this under friends-only posts before because I was planning a surprise…and it worked! On Friday I left work at 11:30 AM and drove north to Milwaukee. As I was driving I called my mom and wished her a happy birthday, and apologized for not being there to help celebrate it. I told her I was driving to lunch as we chatted, and then that I had to go because I was “approaching the restaurant”. Actually, I was approaching the airport.

I caught a flight on Midwest Airlines from Milwaukee to Atlanta (on a 717, nice comfy wide leather seats, decent food provided – note to linnaeus, their food is designed by the executive chef at Mader’s!). Once I got to Atlanta I picked up my rental car, the most stripped-down Chevy Cobalt you have ever seen. No power windows, locks, or anything, and no cruise control. Ugh. Anyway, I drove out through crowded but not crazy traffic and arrived in Anderson, SC, in almost exactly two hours. I pulled up and surprised the heck out of my mom when I got out of the car!

This has been a lovely and relaxing weekend so far. My sister and her two sons are here as well, and we’ve been having fun swimming, playing video games, and such. For dinner we went to Liberty Hall Inn and Cafe. Their website didn’t offer a lot of information, but my sister recommended them. It was a great choice – the dinner was excellent, and our server, Ashlyn, was a real hoot! For dessert we went out to the deck and had a good enough time that one of the other diners came out to see what all the laughing was about, because “y’all are having a lot more fun than my group.” After dinner we came home and swam some in the pool and relaxed. It was a very enjoyable evening.

This morning we had kicked around ideas of driving around a bit and maybe even venturing into the North Carolina mountains. Unfortunately the weather is pretty lousy, so we’re going to stay near the house instead. After I shower, Mom and I are going to go pick up some breakfast from Panera, and this afternoon I’ll probably play my nephews in a few rounds of Boom Blox.

I’ll be here until tomorrow; my flight from Atlanta leaves at 7:55 PM. I’ll probably head out early in the afternoon and kill some time around Atlanta before going to the airport. Maybe drop off the car and jump downtown on MARTA? We’ll see. For now, I’m off to shower, and then breakfast!