Monthly Archives: December 2002

Q: When you’re unemployed, how is the weekend different from the rest of the week?
A: Um…

Anyway, at least I had more company. Takaza had to work Thursday and Friday (and Monday and Tuesday of this week), so that left me to my own devices for those days, which was odd after having him around for the Christmas five-day weekend. I filled the time with a bit of hiking (I discovered a lovely new place for hiking – White Pines Natural Area, a lovely all-but-deserted area at the confluence of the Deep and Rocky Rivers. It’s a 45-minute drive from our house, but the walk was worth it: kind of hilly, nice flat stretches along the river banks, not a soul in sight. The temperature was in the low-40’s, perfect for a winter hike. Didn’t see much local fauna, probably because they heard me coming from miles away.

On Friday night, we did something a bit atypical for us: we went and hung out in bars 🙂 After shooting some darts at Hot Shots (our usual hangout), we walked next door ad grabbed a spot at the bar at MacGregor Ale House and found a new addiction: NTN Network trivia games. Pretty addictive, though unfortunately it was extremely smoky and afterwards I felt like I needed to fumigate all my clothes.

On Saturday we drove first down to Jordan Lake Dam, which I had stopped by on the way home from White Pines and thought Dan would like to see too. We took a bunch of pictures of the dam and the water rushing torrentially out of the spillway. The Haw River, which the spillway runs into, is actually at a higher level than the spillway exit. The water trying to flow into the spillway meets with the water rushing out and creates a tremendous froth which is simply awesome to stand next to and watch. Dan even took some short Quicktime movies showing the power of the water. Yeah, maybe it just appeals to the engineer geek in me, but I thought it was cool.

After visiting the dam, we drove up to Triangle Town Center and I got some pictures of their very furry Christmas decorations there, and we picked up a few small items. The alleged sales were rather underwhelming, though we picked up a couple of calendars at 50% off. I found my next book purchase – Cookwise, by Shirley Corriher. She’s the food scientist on Good Eats, and the book is fabulous. In the section I was reading, she described not just some good bread recipes, but what each ingredient did for the finished product, and the chemistry behind it. This is a book for me! It’ll have to wait until we have a bit more disposable income, though.

We drove around Raleigh for a bit looking for dinner after we left, and wound up going to Playmakers. We grabbed some dinner, enjoyed a drink at the bar, and played more NTN trivia. A nice way to end the evening.

And on Sunday? On Sunday we didn’t do anything. And it was good. (Candle-lit showers are good too. Oh yes. I recommend them.)

Got shopping to do today. Preparations for tomorrow’s New Year’s Party – need to make tomato sauce for the homemade pizzas we’re doing, and get stuff for the artichoke dip, too. Thomas is bringing his tiramisu, and Donald and Janelle are bringing some delicious champagne too. Yay! It’s a nice day out, so I’ll probably walk a bit too, and listen to some more Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

So this is Christmas…

Doesn’t seem too different from any other day of the year, and that’s actually pretty much OK by me.

This is the first year that we haven’t really decorated the house at all for Christmas, which sort of makes sense given that neither I nor Takaza celebrate Christmas. It seems odd, though – the break from tradition, like something is missing. It’s not too big of a deal, though. Maybe next year, wherever we are, we’ll string some lights on the house or something. Or not.

So, we exchanged gifts over the weekend to commemorate the Solstice – the beginning of a shared tradition for us, I’m hoping. Things were modest, given my employment situation, but we did well: I got Dan a nice set of darts, a How to Host a Murder game, and Unexploded Cow. After exiling me from the house for a bit, I came home to find his gift for me was a series of chocolate discs (dark chocolate with white chocolate letters piped on – eat your heart out, Jacques Torres!) that spelled out 9-0-M-I-N-U-T-E-M-A-S-S-A-G-E-1 PM MON. And that’s what I got – a lovely 90-minute massage from a massage therapist we know in Durham. It was a wonderful gift – perfect, because it was so nice to relax and de-stress.

So on Monday, after a slow start, I went and got my massage (heaven!), then we met up with Thomas and played some darts and pool and drank beer (well, some beer – I’ve found I’ve developed quite a taste for Smirnoff Ice, too). Sherry joined us when she had finished her shopping and we walked over to MacGregor Ale House for dinner. Dan also discovered the joys of NTN Network, which means we may be spending more time at the Ale House for a while 🙂

Yesterday we had Thomas, Sherry, Donald, Janelle, Beth, and Franklin over for Orphan’s Christmas dinner. It was all quite fabulous – Thomas brought a turkey (brined as per Saint Alton’s instructions) and we indeed deep fried that sucker. It was pretty impressive – 375 degree peanut oil makes quite a fuss when you dip a water-laden turkey into it. But the 12.5 pound turkey was done in 40 minutes (even a bit overdone – we could have pulled it out a few minutes earlier), and it was delicious. Nice, crisp skin, moist meat, and not greasy at all (to me, anyway). I made my mom’s sausage dressing, Beth made a green bean casserole, Janelle made some mashed potatoes, and we were good to go! Sherry made some yummy peanut butter cookies with mini-Snickers in them for dessert, and Janelle also made a chocolate-Macadamia nut torte that was quite tasty as well. We sent everyone home a little before midnight, fat and happy.

And today…today we rest.

I wish all of our friends out there a joyous holiday, whichever it may be. I hope you are with ones you love, or at least in the minds and hearts of ones you love.

It’s a fact..

You know what makes everything better? Homemade peanut butter cookies. Oh yes.

By the way – if you’re in the Chicago area, you need to fill out Takaza’s poll! Let us know what plans you think we should make for Friday night when we visit on the weekend of January 17-19.

One more post…

Two things I forgot:
1. chronocoon has finally gotten around to posting a page with his music on MP3.com. He’s a talented musician – you should check out his page, download some of the songs, and buy his album! (If you liked the piano playing in the lobby at MFF, many times that was Chrono playing…)

2. We’ve stopped buying sandwich bread altogether and instead are making our own in the spiffy bread machine my parents got us for our commitment ceremony last year. I make a loaf of bread per week, and I have found a recipe for buttermilk bread that is amazingly easy and perfect for sandwiches.
Check out the recipe here…

Hope on the horizon

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegon…

Oh wait. Wrong shtick.

So anyway, I’ve been puttering along on my job search since Midwest Furfest, tossing applications off from place like Monster and Flipdog with little expectations of replies. Certainly no phone calls from recruiters or anything like that. Well, on Tuesday that all changed. I got calls from three different recruiters, and one other one on Wednesday. It appears that the hoped-for break in the logjam in the first quarter of 2003 might actually be coming to pass.

The first recruiter had a possibility in Boston. I told him I would consider it, but I really was centering my search in the Chicago area. No problem – he can get more info to me and we’ll see what develops. I’d be stupid to flatly turn down anything. The second recruiter didn’t have much for me specifically, but we chatted about my resume for about a half and hour and she’s got a good picture of me and my credentials. The fourth recruiter had a project engineering position in Kalamazoo that requires seven year’s experience in managing capital projects. I only have two years under my belt, so I don’t really think it’ll go anywhere, but who knows? Can’t say I’m wild about Kalamazoo, but I could do worse.

The third recruiter I talked to, though – she had a job I’m really excited about. It’s in Belvidere, Illinois, just five miles east of Rockford. I thought it was pretty far out until I did some checks on Mapquest – Belvidere is about as far west of Chicago as Joliet is south of Chicago. That’s not so bad at all. The job is with Green Giant, which was owned by Pillsbury, which was purchased by General Mills a few years back. It’s a systems engineer position, and according to the general job description sounds like it would be something I would really enjoy. What really got me interested is when I looks at the job benefits – domestic partner benefits mentioned prominently, new employees get three weeks of vacation. Hell, at my last job I was still three years away from getting anything more than two weeks of vacation. Not that it would ever apply to us, but I also noticed that fathers of newborns (and those adopting!) get one week of paid leave – if nothing else, I really like the thinking behind policies like that. I should know in the next few days if they are interested in a phone interview, even though that wouldn’t take place until after the first of they year.

In other news…

Not too much going on. Got some Christmas shopping done. Got our tickets for the trip to Chicago in January as well. We’ll be at NoCoasterCon, then some meetings for Midwest Furfest. Got the budget for Registration for MFF 2003 put together as well. It’s a bit of a crapshoot, but right now I’m guessing we’ll see about 20% growth (down from last year’s 32.5% growth, but better than the prior year’s 8.1%). This would give us a total attendance of 820, with 128 sponsors. I’ll probably be modifying those estimates on the fly as registrations come in.

On the to-do list:
Make bread today.
Watch the finale of The Amazing Race tonight.
Watch the Survivor finale tomorrow night (not that we really care. This season has been a real dud).
Watch the super-duper edition of Fellowship of the Ring this weekend (we never got around to seeing it in theaters).
Go see The Two Towers this weekend.
Meet Thomas (and Sherry?) for darts and beer Monday afternoon (need to look up other game rules so we can play something besides Cricket and 301/501).
Prepare the menu for the Orphan’s Christmas Party we’re having on Christmas Eve (mmm, deep fried turkey…)
Think about the menu for our New Year’s Party. The only definites are artichoke dip and Thomas’ delectable tiramisu.

Mac Users To The Rescue!

Here is an amusing story about how a guy in New Orleans got screwed selling an Powerbook to a guy in Chicago on eBay. He sends computer, gets a phony cashier’s check (deposits it, bouncing, fees, etc.). He gets pissed. Using reverse phone number lookups and other net tools, he figures out where the guy is, then takes his case to a couple of Mac forums. He then sets up a sting operation with the local authorities (after some false starts) and nails the evil-doer. And all this took place in the last two weeks. What a great story – check it out.

How to keep a husky occupied…

– Try out a new recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for four-cheese pasta casserole (Italian Fontina, Reggiano Parmesan, Pecorino Romano: good. Gorganzola: bad). For a first, I think we finally found something that Takaza likes that I don’t. Go fig.

– Drive Takaza into work at 7 PM so he can let the BellSouth repairman in to fix their phones. Hey, it gets me out of the house…

– Take car into dealership for two new tires courtesy of some unknown Technical Service Bulletin (“Sorry, we can’t show those to the public.” Riiiight…). This means I now have replaced all four tires on a car that is less than 19 months old. No charge for the tires, anyway. At least I got the oil changed while I was there.

– Do laundry. Strip the bed. Flip the mattress. Make the bed. See the househusky in action! yay.

– Check airfares to Chicago for our January trip (courtesy of earlier bumpings on United, we have a voucher for one free ticket and $100 off another ticket). There’s a 5:25 PM flight we could make with the comp time Takaza got from last night call-in, but it’s $40 more than the 6:50 PM flight. Nuts. Eh, we’ll take the later flight and get in at 8:10 PM. Easier to get out of O’Hare then, anyway.

– Takaza’s Holiday party, postponed from last week due to the ice storm, has been rescheduled to January 4. Damn. I was so hoping it would be on the 18th, when we’re in Chicago. Oh well. Scrap all the Christmas music we were going to play, start laying in a supply of general “winter” songs and dance music. I’ve got 8.5 Gb of MP3’s on my laptop – if they can’t find something they like in that, they need help. Guess I should pick up more 80’s stuff, though.

– Word has it they’ll have karaoke. Kill me now, please.

– Walk. Two miles around the neighborhood = 2 chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Only 20 chapters to go! (Yes, I’ve read it before, but I’m listening to the audiobook this time around – I’ve forgotten enough that it’s entertaining all over again).

– Make pizza dough. Home made pizzas tonight, yum!

– Plans for the weekend? Not much. Invitation to Rob and Janet’s Sunday afternoon for gaming and socializing. Not sure if we’ll go or not, but the socializing would be nice. Oh, for those that know them: Janet announced this week that she is pregnant again. Congratulations to them! Looking further out, we’re hosting an Orphan’s Christmas on Christmas Eve. Good company, good food. We’ll have to fire up the fireplace and at least make an effort to make the place Christmas-y (or at least Solstice-y?) Maybe some pine centerpieces and stuff.

Isn’t it a good thing I’m easily amused?

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.

For your consideration:

I have been very fortunate that AIDS has not touched my life directly, but it has touched the lives of those near and dear to me. Consider these figures from the National AIDS Trust for 2001:
5 million people were newly infected with AIDS.
3 million people died of AIDS.
40 million people were living with AIDS.

By the end of 2000, 21.8 million people have died of AIDS.

What you can do:
Know the facts. Know which activities are safe and which are not. Don’t guess – this is your life at stake here.

Get involved. Help with an AIDS service organization – monetarily, or by donating your time. Attend fund-raisers, and support their causes by word of mouth where you can.

Help your friends and loved ones. Support those whose lives have been touched by the AIDS epidemic. Your love and support will be appreciated.