Monthly Archives: August 2008

Postcard from Columbus

takaza and I are halfway through a lovely weekend in Columbus, Ohio, staying with fordshepherd and kai_darkwolf. We were able to scoot out of Chicago earlier than expected, at about 11 AM on Friday. Traffic was surprisingly light and we made it to Columbus in less than seven hours. Because we are horrible guests, we surprised Ford and Jack with a call saying we would be earlier than expected, but they handled it with aplomb. After some pleasant chatting and a tour of their lovely house. It reminds me of how much I really loved my bungalow in Joliet, subsiding foundation, collapsed sewer tile, and all. For dinner we went to the Elevator Brewing and Draught Haus. The food was quite tasty, though the beer was somewhat lacking. The company more than made up for that, though. And yes, visiting their place reminds me that we need a dog(s), since I’m really enjoying being around Nathan, Pete, and the visiting Jazz.

Yesterday we had a somewhat early start as we met up with Rob and Dean (alas, I can’t recall Rob’s furry handle, but Dean is SeetherWolf) at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and an entertaining tour of the CSI exhibit (“Darn, I left my syrup of ipecac at home!”). After wandering around a bit we adjourned for a tasty lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill where we amused our waitron muchly with silliness. The evening brought a great party with about 15 people, some truly amazing marinated and grilled pork tenderloins, and lots of beer. Life was good. I was amused to hear that Dan knows Dean from about ten years ago (and hey steviemaxwell – Dean says hi!). Furry fandom is indeed a small town. It was great to see some familiar faces (Alaskanwolf, kwik, truegrave9) and make some new friends.

As for today? Probably a lot more laid back. We’ll seek some lunch eventually, maybe meet up with Kwik, and there were rumors of going to see a movie. Maybe. Who knows? We’re having a blast, that’s all that matters. I’m keeping an ongoing gallery of the weekend, sure to be updated more as the weekend goes on.

On a more serious note, I’m keeping an eye on Hurricane Gustav. Even though my links to New Orleans are somewhat tenuous (a year and a half at Tulane University over twenty years ago), I still have wonderful memories of my time there. Genet, I’m keeping your family in my thoughts and I’m hoping everyone rides out the storm OK. The same goes for everyone who has those they hold dear who are in the storm’s path. After the terrible events of three years ago, I dearly hope that there were some good lessons learned and that those will be well-applied over the coming days.

Well, that’s a bummer

One of the very few nearby non-Starbucks coffee houses, Prairie Croissant Cafe (a play on the Prairie Crossing development) is closing its doors after this weekend. This is bad news because it was a nice island of crunchy enviro-friendliness in the boring suburbs, with a touch of French gourmet food. Alas, the timing wasn’t right and their business model just won’t work in the current economy. What a shame.

Mongolian, French Toast, and Long Island Iced Tea: Now That Was an Awesome Weekend!

Man, what a crazy few days, and this week is shaping up to be pretty crazy too.

After work on Friday, I sped out slightly early and picked up takaza at his employer in Buffalo Grove. Then it was a stressful drive through Friday rush-hour traffic down to Lisle, where we checked into the Hyatt Lisle. After a short break it was back into the car for a short drive to Bolingbrook and BD’s Mongolian Grill. There we met up with ottr, datahawk, feren, lady_curmudgeon, roho, genet, linnaeus, wyldekyttin, and unclevlad for a fun dinner and drinks. Alas, I agree with Dan – I am kind of over BD’s. For one thing, it seems that no matter what I do, everything I put together there ends up tasting the same. I’ll freely admit that’s my own fault. The drinks were pretty weak, too, which was unfortunate. Ah well, at least the company was good.

After dinner we retired back to the Hyatt with Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus and had a lovely swim before bed. On Saturday morning, the five of us had a delicious brunch at Juicy-O then went our separate ways. Dan and I stopped by perro and darkwolph‘s place to drop off some MFF stuff and we wound up talking shop for a bit.

Then it was off to Dan’s mom’s place to try to get her Wii hooked up to wi-fi. I’m not even sure if what we were trying to do can be done: She has a laptop running Vista with built-in wireless as well as a Sprint EVDO card connected via USB. We were trying to create a bridge so the wireless would receive the Wii signal and go out through the EVDO. No joy, though. Instead, she brought her Wii over to our place and we downloaded a bunch of older games for her. She left after a bit and Linnaeus arrived shortly thereafter.

After a bit of chatting we jumped in the car and drove up to Kenosha, where we met the crowd from the previous night (as well as several new faces) for dinner at Charcoal Grill. The phrase that pays is “half-price appetizers and drinks after 8 PM”. Holy cow! So good, and those Long Island iced teas had a kick!

On Sunday…we did nothing. And it was good. OK, actually, we finally showered late in the afternoon and went out to Target at about 7 PM to pick up a few groceries and things for the house.

And here we are back in the middle of the work week. I’m really looking forward to Friday – I just got the OK from my boss to take off early, so Dan and I will be leaving at noon or before for Columbus, OH, where we will abuse the hospitality of fordshepherd and kai_darkwolf. I have only a vague idea of what the plans might be, but I’m sure we’ll be in good hands. I promise to take lots of pictures 🙂

Apparently, I’m Less a Husky and More a Booze Hound?

Great googly moogly, it’s been a crazy seven days!

After work on Friday roho and genet came down and we grilled up some burgers and brats and celebrated the end of the week with a very tasty drink that included mango juice, pineapple rum, and Cointreau.

On Saturday I drove down to LAFF Softball while takaza worked on Anthrocon finance stuff. I had a great time hanging out with friends and generally socializing. After the game ramalion and I came back home to de-grungify, then Dan, Rama, and I met up with justincheetah and calapurr for dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant and Winery, which is located right in front of the Westin Chicago North Shore (MFF’s hotel).

We had a very tasty meal at Cooper’s Hawk; not quite the level of Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood, but better than Claimjumper. The price point is about the same as Claimjumper, too. I had the bacon-wrapped scallops, which came with a yummy mac and cheese and a fabulous mango salsa. I also found the wine to be surprisingly good – Cheetah and I ordered the “Red Wine Flight” ($12.95), 2 oz. pours of four of their popular red wines. Three were good, but their cabernet sauvignon, while OK, had some VERY non-cabernet flavors going on. When our waitress asked what we thought of the wines, I was candid in my appraisal. She surprised me with a sample of the cabernet sauvignon reserve, which I found to be excellent. She then brought Cheetah, Cala, and I samples of the oak-aged cabernet sauvignon (also gratis), but the reserve was by far the best of the night. The only downside of the place is that at peak times (like, say, on a Saturday night at 8:30 PM), it is extremely loud and crowded. Overall, though, it was a great meal and I look forward to going back. It will be a great addition to the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide, too.

On Sunday, we relaxed for most of the day and worked on Anthrocon stuff. In the evening we had the online Midwest FurFest staff meeting, where we covered a lot of useful topics. It’s coming up on Labor Day weekend, the point where people start to realize, “Oh crap! We have a convention to put on in less than three months!” and things really move into high gear.

Then came the work week. I had not one, but two projects moving into high gear this week. Both projects have involved a lot of time out on the production floor, and by the end of each day I’ve been exhausted. Today was a little different, since I spent most of the day in a mandated technical writing class, one of two. It was…yeah. As I observed to one cow-orker, “This is not the most productive use of my time that I can think of.” Tomorrow it’s back to the grind to wrap up one project and figure out some snags with the other. I’m looking forward to drowning my sorrows in Mongolian BBQ and good company tomorrow night, though!

To Everyone Who Was Swearing Airborne Was Great…

I hate to say I told you so, but…I told you so.

“Airborne, however, when used as directed does not prevent class-action lawsuits, charges of deceptive advertising — or, according to the government, the common cold.

“There is no credible evidence that Airborne products . . . will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, which filed a complaint against Airborne’s makers.

The remedy prescribed by the FTC is for Airborne to pay consumers back for as many as six purchases, a nationwide total of as much as $30 million.”

Will you be at Mephit Furmeet?

Unfortunately, time and expense will keep us away yet again this year, but if you can you should go to Mephit Furmeet! And while you’re there, you should lend ramalion a hand at Registration. Why? ‘Cause he’s a cool guy, and I owe him my soul for all the times he’s helped out at Midwest FurFest’s Registration and Anthrocon’s Artists Alley 🙂 Interested? Here’s how you can help.

Oh Yeah, Updates…

It’s Wednesday already? Wasn’t it just Wednesday last week? Man, someone should do something about these calendars.

So last weekend was halfway stress-free. On Saturday we had takaza‘s family over to celebrate his mother’s birthday, albeit belatedly. We all went together and bought her a Wii. She’s a big fan of old-school games like Zelda and Final Fantasy stuff, so the online purchase thing is nifty for her. Plus, we played Boom Blox and I think we sold his mother on the game as well as his brother on buying a Wii period. The damn game is like a virus, I swear.

On Sunday I carpooled with roho and genet down to meet with a prospect for our charity for Midwest FurFest this year (Dan went to see The Dark Knight with his family and worked on Anthrocon tax stuff). The meeting went extremely well and I hope to have an announcement on that front later this week. They’re very excited to work with us and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun and make them a lot of money. From there, we drove over to Linnaeus‘s place where we were joined by siriuswolfstar, simbalion, feren, and lady_curmudgeon. We all enjoyed an excellent dinner of burgers and tasty sausages (mmm, andouille!) and some excellent beers. It was a very enjoyable evening!

Work has been more than a little crazy of late. I just wrapped up a big project yesterday which is a big relief, though I’ve got another project next week that will take up all of my time for the first three days of the week. We’ve also had a slew of new hires and I’m helping out occasionally to get them settled as well.

This weekend should be fun – I’ll be at LAFF softball on Saturday to hang out and chat with folks. Not a lot of plans on Sunday, but we’ll wing it and see how things go.

I’ll leave you with two interesting links: If anyone is in Los Angeles and likes food and The Amazing Race, well, the Food Network is looking for you! Granted, being the Food Network, I’m sure they’ll take a good idea and screw it up royally.

Also, it’s about damn time. Anthony Bourdain has been touring around Chicago as he finally films an episode of No Reservations here. I don’t know most of the places he mentions, but I’m glad to see that one of the highlights will be Hot Doug’s, a true Chicago original. (Though I wonder about his choice of local guides. Mancow Mueller? Really?) Anyway, it should be a great episode when it airs.

For Sale: One iPod

So as I mentioned a while back, takaza bought me a fancy-shmancy iPod Touch (’cause he’s cool like that). This means that I seem to have two iPods, which is one more than I need. So here’s the deal: I’m selling a black 30 GB 5th Generation iPod Video for $125.00 or best offer, plus shipping. I’ll include the DLO Action Jacket that it’s been in since I bought it (arm band not included, ’cause it’s kind of dumb).

Interested? Let me know with a comment here or via e-mail. First reliable offer gets it.

Way Busy Weekend

Whoa. Been kind of quiet around here.

Work has been busy, and between that and Midwest FurFest planning I haven’t had too much to write about here.

Last week was linnaeus‘ birthday. We celebrated this by going out to one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago, Heaven on Seven. We carpooled down with roho and genet; Roho was kind enough to brave the horrid Friday traffic. the company made the time pass quickly, though, and we got there with time to spare. We were joined by simbalion, siriuswolfstar, and rustitobuck, and we had a very good meal. Not as awesome as usual (the halibut was only so-so, and the beef tips were served with an unfortunate Worcestershire-based sauce that was very like A-1 Steak Sauce), but the company and the very tasty drinks made up for it.

On Saturday I was up far too early to go in to work. We had some testing that needed to be done when the plant was not in production, and this was one of the few weekends we could do it. I got in at about 7:30 AM; by 9:30 AM the engineer we were working with had determined that the database he had prepared the upgrade files with was of a newer revision than the one on the production floor and that he had to completely revise his files. While he was doing that, I took off for home since there was nothing for me to do there. As I was leaving the parking lot I heard the dreadful “tick tick tick” sound of something lodged in one of my tires. A quick trip to the nearby tire store and a $30 repair later, I had the upholstery nail that had been lodged in my tire. Bleah. At 2 PM I got the call that they were ready to resume testing, and I went back in and worked until 6 PM or so.

Sunday morning was nice and lazy, which was pleasant and needed. At around 1 PM takaza and I drove down to steviemaxwell and magicpaw‘s place for a birthday party for Magicpaw and Linnaeus. Various folks were there and a fun afternoon of movies and games followed. We ducked out a little early to take care of our grocery shopping for the week, then came home and relaxed.

Back to the grind now. I’ve got a couple of projects going right now, one of which is in the process of wrapping up. The boss is out on vacation this week, so things aren’t too stressful. On my to-do list for tonight is to cut up the ten pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts we bought on Sunday ($1.59/pound!) so we can freeze it in smaller portions perfect for a single meal.

This weekend we’re hosting Dan’s family for a birthday BBQ for his mom; looks like the weather will cooperate so I suspect we’ll be grilling up some steaks. On Sunday there’s a possibility of another BBQ, but we need to see what the plans are there.

Midwest FurFest plans are slowly coming together. If you have mentioned to me that you were interested in volunteering and I haven’t yet directed you to someone, do please remind me because I have some departments in mind who could use a bit of a hand. We also have some loose plans percolating for Wuffmeet, especially on how to divide things up so Dan and I aren’t quite so stressed out the whole event.