Monthly Archives: July 2002


You know, some people dream of going on wonderful vacations – cruises, trips to Europe, that sort of thing. I wanted to do that too, until I found a certain site last night. This is what I want to do, oh yes. It’s a pity that the package we would like would be more than $2,500 for the two of us, though…

I have a wolf chewing my ear and I think I like it

So, instead of treating you to a recap of the weekend’s events, I’m going to just point you to Takaza‘s entry – saves us both time 🙂

One item of interest to repeat from his journal, though: We compared the prices of about 90 items that we commonly buy across four different grocery stores: Harris Teeter, Kroger, Lowes’ Foods, and Wal-Mart Super Center. It was not a great surprise that Wal-Mart was cheaper on average than the other three, but the real surprise was by how much: 20% cheaper than Lowes’ Foods, and about 30% cheaper than Kroger and Harris Teeter. In some ways this sucks because I really hate shopping there – narrow aisles, stupid people in large numbers (moo!), and they don’t have a lot of the brands we like. But those are some pretty compelling numbers. The major drawback is that I will absolutely not shop there between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, no matter how much money we’re talking. Anyway, all that took about four hours but when I looked at some average grocery bills and annualized some of the price differentials, we’re looking at an annual savings of about $800-$1,000 by shopping at Wal-Mart instead of Lowes’ Foods. I’d say that was four hours well-spent.

Today we spent some nice time just snuggling (something we don’t do nearly enough sometimes). After that, it was a bit of housecleaning, then we did some shopping. When we got back I mowed the lawn (I know my wuff loves me – he brought me out a glass of ice water while I was mowing 🙂 and then we sat down to a nice dinner of cheeseburgers and Futurama. Yay!

On a side note, I joined the Grey Muzzle mailing list (for furry fans over 30 years old) last week, and I have to say that so far I’m not impressed. I was hoping for some interesting discussion about furry fandom from a more mature perspective. What I’ve gotten instead is 30-50 messages per day with what amounts to a rehash of, by a lot of the same players, no less. I haven’t posted there, except for a short introduction, for the same reason that I don’t post to AFF – these people aren’t looking for a reasoned discussion and a calm, even exchange of views. They’re looking to convince the world that they are right and everyone else is wrong, and by god, they’re going to beat that into everyone’s head. Yeah, right. I have better things to do with my time, thanks. I’ll hang on for a while longer in hopes things improve, but I’m not optimistic.

Slow starting

I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do today, and I don’t feel motivated to do any of them.

I need to start making up my presentation on material handling (“Don’t drink the toluene diisocyanate, kids!”) I’m supposed to give in two weeks. That dovetails neatly with the 20-page document I’m supposed to be revising that is the basis for the presentation. Meanwhile, I need to start taking my experimental results for the last month or so from my coating project and compose that into the project document so we can get the damn thing off my desk.

And I just want to take a nap. Bleah.

At least it’s Friday. If I were to be completely boring, I go home after work, go to bed early, and get a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, I’m not boring. Current plans now are to go out with a few of the Gang tonight for a nice Italian dinner, followed by heading over to a local dive to see one of my favorite bands: Carbon Leaf. They’re a Richmond, VA-based band with a great Celtic-influenced rock sound with a few touches of jam-band mellowness. Should be a late night since the first set doesn’t start ’til 11 but hey, I can sleep in tomorrow. And as for this weekend…nothing! Yay! No plans whatsoever. I like those kinds of weekends.

New music!

I’m going to completely steal an idea from rigelkitty (and hope he doesn’t mind) and start a bit of an occasional series aimed at introducing people to some great music they may never have heard of. I’ll start out by saying that the music choices are from my personal collection, thus are subject to my particular whims and prejudices. My musical tastes lean heavily to Celtic- and folk-inflected music, and especially with music that tries to cross boundaries of various styles, such as Celtic rock.

With that in mind, here’s my first selection: Eileen Ivers’ “Crossing the Bridge”.

This is the title track from her 1999 album (on Sony Classical, of all labels) and it really has all the things I love – some traditional tunes, some great funky grooves, and some wicked fiddle playing. Eileen Ivers has been playing and recording for over fifteen years, including original lead fiddle for Riverdance, and was a founding member of Cherish the Ladies (and equally fabulous, but more traditional, band).

This MP3 will only be up on my server for a week or so – I’ll be rotating it off to make space for new selections. I only ask that you let me know if you download it and listen to it – did you like it, did you hate it, would you like to hear something else? Let me know, and that way I’ll know if I should keep putting up these selections.

(Update 7/29/02: Link to song removed to make space on the server. Sorry!)

A few morning knick-knacks

If I were maybe a wolf or a dog/I wouldn’t have to speak/Wouldn’t have to talk/Just eat my dinner and go for a walk/And howl at the moon
And if I were laying there just like you/All curled up the way dogs do/I’d dream that dream that your dreamin’ too/And howl at the moon

Slow getting started today. I’ll be over in the building across campus all day making yet another batch of material for the electronics project I’m working on (only fifteen more to go!). If I start by 9 AM, I should be done by 4 PM. Hopefully. Yeesh, there’s still all the testing on all these products to do, too. I can hardly wait (shyeahright).

Dan’s off for another sleep study tonight, so I’ll be all alone. I’ll probably jump onto FurryMuck and see what’s shakin’, and probably upload some more of the pictures we took on the way home from Anthrocon. Probably do a little cleaning around the house, too. Depending on the weather (i.e. none of the fun sporadic afternoon thunderstorms we’ve been seeing), I may skip the gym today too, in favor of mowing the lawn. We’ve gotten just enough rain to get the grass growing again, but I think the brown patches are pretty much gone for good. Looks like we’ll be paying for another reseeding this fall – ouch! According to the news reports, we’re now an official Federal Disaster Area – makes me feel all special. I heard last night that we’re running a rain deficit of twelve inches since last September. It’s going to take some long, rainy days to make up for that, and there’s none of those on the horizon.

In news of much less import, but still kind of a downer: Well, The West Wing is a fabulous show, but you knew they couldn’t hang onto that great cast forever. Variety is reporting that Rob Lowe (“Sam Seaborn”) will be bowing out of the show in the spring of next year due to a salary dispute. Maybe they’ll bring back Emily Proctor (“Ainsley Hayes”). Assuming, that is, that CSI: Miami doesn’t work out for her.

Well, off to wallow in powdered aluminum. Whee!

* – Find out more about this song here.

Yay, we have pictures!

So, it only took almost a month after we bought our digital camera, but I finally got around to this:
Photos from Casa di Canine

We’ve posted pictures from last weekend’s trip down to my parents, Rob and Janet’s Fourth of July Party, and most importantly: Anthrocon!

Take a look, enjoy, and hey, you can even print the pictures at Shutterfly. The nifty software to drive all this is Gallery, a freeware program that does a wonderful just of handling PHP in such a way that someone who doesn’t know beans about PHP (i.e., me) can deal with it. More pictures coming over the next few days, I’m sure.

Well, that sucks

So ever since Anthrocon we’ve been reviewing our finances and what we saw just didn’t add up. Something had to give, and unfortunately that something was Mephit Furmeet. I’ve been to every Mephit Furmeet since 1998, so I’m pretty bummed about this – it’s a fun con, and great place to relax with friends. Maybe next year, I guess.

On the bright side, the vacation we were going to take for MFM can now be used elsewhere, like for the party we’re throwing at the end of September to coincide with NC Pride. We’re still in the planning stages on it, but hopefully the Pride Party will be as much fun as the Memorial Day Party was. We’re also planning on flying up to Chicago for a Midwest Furfest staff meeting, probably in September. According to the Furfest website, that would be September 8 or September 22. Hm – we’ll need to figure out which of those might be the best for us.

Damn. Even without MFM, September is going to be a busy month for us…

Morning with family

Here is a completely startling statement: I don’t care for kids. I can deal with a wide variety of stresses in my life, but when I peruse that list I don’t see children on there. Fortunately, Takaza deals with them much better than I, which usually keeps my shortcomings as a nurturing adult hidden.

What causes this dramatic revelation is that we are visiting my parents’ house in Anderson, South Carolina this weekend. My sister and two nephews – Chris, age 7, and Tim, age 5 – are here as well. Now, let me preface this by saying that I love my family, and I even love my nephews. But that doesn’t mean that I always have to like them. Chris, in particular, is a bundle of energy, single-tracked in that way that only a seven-your-old can be. Tim is much quieter and charming, and comes up with the most amazing statements sometimes. Bless his heart, Dan has patience enough for both of us and can deal with them – me, my first response is to pretty much leave the area and not deal with them.

So, we got in yesterday just past 1 PM and had a late lunch of leftovers (but they were tasty leftovers, so that’s OK). After that it was few hours of lounging in the pool and savoring the respite from the fiercely hot weather that has plagued the area for the last few weeks. Of course, we figured it was just a few hours, no need for sunscreen. Well, on the bright side, Dan can now apply for theatrical roles as Lobster Man, and I can be his understudy 🙂 After some more lounging about some more, we went to work on dinner: grilled boneless leg of lamb, roasted potatoes, oven roasted onions, and a tasty salad with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese in a balsamic vinaigrette, all served with a delicious Australian shiraz/cab/merlot blend called “Sarah’s Blend”. You know, just sort of scraping together whatever’s lying around…

So this morning it’s been an exercise in keeping the kids quiet (aka an exercise in futility) while everyone was slowly waking up. Mom and I went to the store so they could pick up their Sunday New York Times, plus fixings for a nice brunch of bacon and eggs, and while we were out apparently Chris woke Dan up several times to ask if he could play games on his computer. Given that Dan isn’t a morning person (to say the least), he’s not particularly in a happy mood right now and I can’t blame him one bit. But Mom is cooking up the bacon and it smells delicious. I suspect everyone will be feeling better once we get some food in us.


Urgh. Woke up at 4:15 AM this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I just know I’ll be a barrel of laughs come 9 PM tonight.

Well, in about 40 minutes we’ll be jumping in the car and driving down to my parents, after a stop by a certain patisserie. Should be a pleasant visit, and we’ve got some stuff to work on during the trip – need to refine some e-mails, and work out the wording on the invitation e-mails we’re sending for the Pride Party in September. Of course, I know Takaza – he’ll be asleep during most of the trip while I’m driving. That’s OK, though. He put up with me waking him up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning 🙂

More anon…

Starting and stopping

She’s strong and tall/but scared to fall/her roots unknown…

Short weeks are strange, particularly when you skip Monday. I’m left not knowing what the hell day it is.

As much as I’d dearly love to hide under the bed and sleep this weekend, we’re heading down to my parnts’ place in glorious Anderson, South Carolina. At least we don’t have to do any late-night driving; instead, we’re going to get up early on Saturday morning and drive the five hours down there. As much as I love my family (and I know they’re reading this 🙂 I’m in social overload right now, so I might not be at my best. Ah well, maybe if I go to bed early tonight and tomorrow night I’ll feel better come the weekend. (And by the way, lamb will be fine for dinner, Mom. Mmmm, lamb…)

Not much going on at work today. We have the monthly department meeting, which usually pretty much makes a complete hash of the day. I need to devise some viscosity tests for the dozens of coatings I’ve made over the last few weeks and I’ll probably run those this afternoon. It’ll be fun to run – the viscometer is attached to a computer where the software is so old it has to run on Windows 3.11. It’s always a joy to use because I have to refamiliarize myself with the interface. Microsoft is an evil, soulless behemoth, but at least they’ve improved their interface over the years.

Next weekend we have nothing planned. I wonder how long we can keep it that way. About the only thing I can think that we want to do between now and then is catch the stage performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at one of the local gay clubs before it ends its run on July 27. Maybe one day next week – I’ll have to talk to Takaza and see what he’d like to do.

OK, this is just nifty

Finally, someone finally got around to inventing a Tivo-like device that works for radio (plus a whole bunch of other neat stuff). It’s only first-generation, but I see the beginnings of great things – plus This American Life whenever I want it!*

(NY Times autoregistration thingy courtesy of Marc Majcher)

*(Yes, I know I can get This American Life off the web, but I refuse to deal with RealAudio. Ick.)

The calm before the…something

Well, it was a mad scramble, but we got everything packed last night. I don’t know why I stress so much about this stuff – it’s not brain surgery, if we forget something it will All Be OK – no one is going to die if I forget to pack the charger for my MP3 player. Still, I was cranky and irritable last night – I hope Dan didn’t get too ticked off at me. Anyway, we got everything in the car and ready to go for this morning and got to bed a bit late – 10:30.

Naturally, I didn’t sleep very well. I never do the night before a big trip. I’ll be a basket case tonight after about 10 PM, but that’s why Dan is doing the latter half of the driving instead of me. I’m terrible at driving at night anyway – I get blinded by the oncoming headlights and mesmerized by the white lines in the dark. Unfortunately for poor Dan, this means he has the joy of driving through DC and Baltimore. Sorry, love – I’ll take that stretch on the drive home, I promise! At least it’ll be after rush hour…I hope.

So now there’s nothing left but to sit at work until 3:30 PM rolls around. Funny, my concentration is just crappy this morning. I got revisions to one project plan off, and now I need to start writing the materials handling document so I can send it to the team for review before our meeting Tuesday afternoon. How do you stretch “Don’t eat it, drink, it, get it on you, or even look at it!” into an extended QS-900-compliant document? Guess I’m going to find out.

Man, I need a nap.

And today’s word of the day is…

Today’s word of the day is:
chamfron ‘sham-fren noun [ME shamfron, fr. MF chanfrein] (15c) Armor used to protect the front of a war horse’s head in medieval times

Usage example: “And the audience was later stunned to learn that Lynne Cheney was not, in fact, wearing some sort of hideous rusty chamfron on her head during a speech that made the souls of children wince, but was merely roughly 47 layers of shellack and makeup she must apply every morning to better cover the scales and the fissures.”

(From Mark Morford, of course. Who else?)

We packed how many air mattresses?

Well, looking over my Friends Page it looks like lots of folks are packing up and getting ready for Anthrocon. We’d be doing the same except that we’re working with limited vacation this year and too many conventions, so it’s going to a few days off here, a few days there. For Anthrocon we’re only taking off Friday and Monday, so we’ll miss out on whatever festivities there might be on Thursday – oh well. Four days is one day too many for me at a con, anyway.

This week has alternately been creeping and flying past, depending on how much I’m worrying about Anthrocon. Work has been a bit of an adventure, with project status meetings, and the surprise announcement of the fact that I have to make a one-hour presentation on material handling to the department as part of the annual safety training – and I have three weeks to prepare. Dandy. On top of that, I was given responsibility of the department storage room, a 60′ x 40′ room which has become essentially a junkyard for unwanted or unused equipment, pipes, wires, and who knows what else. Naturally, we just received a safety citation since two-thirds of it is pretty much just heaped on the floor. It’ll be my job to sort through it, see who owns what, put in a shelving system, and generally bring order to chaos. At least I have a few months to work on this. Of course, somewhere along the line I also need to do my lab work. Bleah.

So, Anthrocon: Our plans right now have us leaving at 4 PM on Thursday – I’ll be picking up takaza from his work and then we’ll hit the road. We’re only going part way, though – we could make it to Philadelphia Thursday night, but that would mean rolling in sometime after midnight and paying for the more-expensive hotel room. Instead, we’re stopping in Edgewood, Maryland. This is nice because it will let us get up in the morning, make a last-minute store run for this all-important in-room munchies and sodas (though how often we’ll be able to get by the room is an open question). We should arrive at Anthrocon before noon on Friday and we’ll work on checking in as soon as we get there (I doubt we’ll have much luck, though).

As I mentioned before, we’re on Operations staff – one side-benefit of this is that we can bypass the lines at registration and pick up our badges and supersponsor packets at Operations. Yay! Anyway, both Dan and I are scheduled to work in Artists Alley from 5-6 PM on Friday, 3-6 PM on Saturday and 1-3 PM and 4-5 PM on Sunday (I think I have those hours right…) I’ll probably be helping out elsewhere, too – perhaps at the Volunteers Table, or wherever else I’m needed.

You Midwest-Furfest-types that are going to be there: we’re probably going to get together in our room Friday evening (after dinner most likely, since I don’t see us finishing up all the Artists Alley stuff until 7 PM or so, really) with aureth and possibly rustitobuck and mirkowuff. Any staff members who’s like to stop by and discuss constuff (particularly anything related to registration of publications) is welcome to join us. If you don’t see us and can’t find our room number, Dan and my cell phone numbers are in the staff directory on the Furfest website. And yes, since we’re complete geeks, we’ll be checking e-mail throughout the convention as well. Who knows, there might even be some LJ updates, too 🙂

Dig my new LJ icon – ain’t it cute? That’s me in the foreground, and Dan behind me.

As I was saying…

As I was saying last night before I was so rudely interrupted by sleep…

Well, it’s going to be a busy week for me, even though it’s only three days at work. Today and tomorrow, at least, and probably Wednesday, I’m making three batches of coating per day. At two-and-a-half hours each, and trying to slip in testing of previous batches during the hour hold time I get in each process, it’s going to be pretty hoppin’. Fortunately, that should finish off all the batches I have to make and next week can be devoted to testing and writing up all this mess.

“So,” you’re asking yourself (because you talk to yourself. Weirdo.) “What are you doing for the Fourth of July, Duncan?” Well, not a whole hell of a lot, and I’m loving it. Rob and Janet (and Ian) are hosting their annual house party, whereby they invite a few dozen friends to crash at their place for a long weekend, consume interesting alcohol, eat lots of grilled food, and stay up far too late. The theme alcohols for this year are gin and vodka (only the good stuff, if you please). For last year’s Cinco de Mayo party, tequila was the theme and that was where I learned there’s some excellent tequilas out there that aren’t expensive at all. I’m not much of a gin fan, but I’ll try some if only to remind myself why I don’t like it. The Grey Goose vodka I’ve had was excellent, as was the Belvedere – I’m interested to see what else Rob comes up with. The nice part about this is that we’ll probably only stop by for a few days out of the long weekend, and relax the rest of the time. The one fly in the ointment is that takaza has to work on Friday while I have the day off. That kind of sucks but we’ll work around it.

Next week, of course, we’re off to Anthrocon. We’re driving out on Thursday and stopping at a hotel in Aberdeen, MD for the night, then arriving around noon on Friday. We’ll be rooming with rustitobuck and mirkowuff (By the way guys, Dan inflated the air mattress and checked it for leaks last night – he says it’s nice and comfy). Both Takaza and I have volunteered for Operations staff (they recognized the big red “S” on our foreheads, you see) which as near as I can tell means we’ll be assisting with the cash registers at the Con Store and in Artists’ Alley, though I’m happy to help out wherever I’m needed. I’ve come to the conclusion that working at cons keeps me from getting bored, and this is a Good Thing.

The week after that we’ll be heading down to South Carolina to visit my parents’ place and see my sister and my two nephews. That should be a lot of fun, too.

The last weekend in July is, tentatively, unclaimed. I somehow doubt it will stay that way, but we’ll see.

As an aside, howdy to Tango (vt_komainu) who thought he could sneak onto my friends list without me noticing 🙂

Well, back to the lab. Laters!