Monthly Archives: September 2003

Yeah, yeah – here too.

Let’s keep it short and sweet: The deadline to pre-register for Midwest Furfest for $30 is today. Mail-in registrations must be postmarked by today, and online registrations must be completed by midnight CDT. If you miss the deadline you can certainly still pre-register and attend the convention, but the registration fee will increase to $40.

Questions? Check out the Midwest Furfest Registration FAQ.

See you in November!

Party planning update

So, a few weeks ago, I posted a little tidbit about getting folks together to go to the NC State Fair. This was before we realized that the proposed weekend also was the date for The Cooking Show in Raleigh (where Alton Brown will be giving two cooking demonstrations). So here’s the plan:
Friday, October 17: Folks assemble at our place in Apex, NC. Hanging out, fun, etc. etc.
Saturday, October 18: The Cooking Show in the afternoon, then adjourn to the State Fair thereafter. If anyone is not interested in attending The Cooking Show, we can also make plans to meet up with them afterwards. If we order tickets in advance, it’s $15 for The Cooking Show and $5 to get into the fair.
Sunday, October 19: Relax, have a nice breakfast, and chill out until folks have to head home (or do whatever sounds fun to people – we’re easy)

So – perro, zenwolph, pandaguy, you’re all welcome, as well as anyone else who sees this (Perro, you mentioned Tervicz?). Just let us know!

Back to the week…time to relax?

So, now we’re back to Monday. Weren’t we just here seven days ago?

On Friday we had lots of fun. After I got caught up on my schoolwork during the day, we met Thomas and Sherry (and eventually vileone, Janet, and associated vile-lings) over at Quail Ridge Bookstore for a book signing by one of my favorite television personalities: Alton Brown. We picked up a copy of his new book and settled down with a good hundred and fifty other folks for a good hour of entertainment. Alton is an extremely personable guy, and carries a crowd very well. He spent the first ten minutes explaining why he wrote his newest book (people know they want gear for their kitchen, but don’t know what gear to buy and what will be the most useful) then spent the balance of the hour answering questions. The man could do stand-up comedy, I swear. Two of his quips that I remember:
– After a question on the best way to use Reddi-Wip: I can’t think of any proper use for Reddi-Wip that doesn’t involve a pair of handcuffs, a hotel room in Tijuana, and Martha Stewart.
– After a question about how he developed his TV persona: You’ve found me out. I’m actually a short, Latino woman.

After the extremely amusing Q&A period, he then settled down to sign books and answer questions personally. I was very impressed that he was willing to stay for as long as it took for everyone to get their books signed, and to personally chat with each person. It made for a long wait, but it was worth it, I think. We even got some pictures from the evening, including a picture of Alton after he was finding himself feeling a bit short standing between me and Takaza:

After the book signing, we adjourned to Armadillo Grill and had an extremely nummy Tex-Mex. The restaurant is in the oh-so-trendy Glenwood South area of Raleigh, and it was quite amusing to watch the drunk yuppie poseurs stagger about as the evening progressed.

Saturday was given over to working 9-5 at Silvia’s. Not too bad, and Dan was nice enough to stop by, which always brightens my day. I think I’ve determined that I don’t want to work more than about two days out of the week there – yes, I’m sort of doing it for a lark, but there’s only so much I’ll endure for seven bucks an hour. When I came home I was a complete slug, but Dan cooked up a lovely pork roast and mashed potatoes and gave me a lovely foot massage, I love my wolf very much, and I’m going to keep him!

Sunday was going sort-of OK. We were just about to head over to Thomas and Sherry’s for our final Mage/Werewolf when I took a wrong step on the grass in the front yard and popped my right ankle. Now, I have a long history of spraining my right ankle. When I was attending Virginia Tech I reached the point where I had sprained it so many times that the ligament got stretched out and I virtually no lateral support – I could walk on a flat surface and sprain my ankle for no apparent reason. In 1994 I had reconstructive surgery to shore up the ligament and it’s mostly been OK since then. I really hope I’m not starting to repeat that cycle again, though. Anyway, we propped my ankle up in the car (the Element was actually really great for this!), then when we got over to Thomas and Sherry’s I propped it up and iced it down. That helped a lot and it kept the swelling to a minimum. When I woke up this morning I can walk on it, for the most part, though we’ll see what happens when I try to put on shoes and stand on it for six hours when I work tonight.

Not much else going on this week. Plans currently have us driving down to visit my parents on Friday night. I have a project that I’d like to have the first pass on it turned in for the professor to review by Wednesday, though it’s not due until October 15. Then I have another project to work on for another class that’s also due on the 15th – I’d like to get that done by the end of the week. My goal is to have these classes complete by the end of October, so I don’t have to worry about them come November. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

One final note: I use the adware-supported version of Opera (I’d like to register at some point, maybe when money isn’t so tight). They have a feature in their newest version that gives you the option to either show general ads or Google AdWords which are keyed to the content of the web pages you are viewing. I chose the latter, just for fun. I’ve noticed one disturbing thing: whenever I view my LiveJournal Friends Page I consistently get two ads:
1. Something to do with huskies or dogs in general, and
2. An ad for cheese. Gourmet cheese, goat cheese, some kind of cheese.
I think this is a disturbing commentary on my choice of friends, but I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to mean…

Having an animal companion can be difficult. It can be trying. But it can also be very, very worthwhile. This week’s Independent Weekly has a moving essay on the loss of a canine friend. When I pass from this world, I would be fortunate to have half as generous a remembrance of me as this.

And yes, this made me cry. But it’s worth reading even so.

And we’re back!

So, other stuff going on, besides the purchase of a new car

I start my new job today. Well, it’s sort of a job, anyway. I’m to be a supervisor at Silvia d’Italia Gelato Cafe. I’m doing this mainly as a favor for Sylvia, the owner. She’s not had a single day off since she opened the place six months ago and I agreed to work a couple days a week to give her a break. This will be entertaining – it’s been about 20 years since I last worked retail food service, and now I get to be a big, nasty boss. Yay. It’s less than a hundred bucks a week, but hey – every little bit helps. I’m working 5-11 PM tonight, and 9-5 on Saturday.

Of course, once I committed to that, something else came up. No, not an actual job in my field (wouldn’t that be a wacky thought), but another part-time job. takaza‘s employer is looking for someone to work two days per week, about 6 hours a day, to fill in for their warehouse guy during football season. It’s all of eight bucks an hour, but that won’t hurt either. I limited it to two days a week so the other three days of the work week I can focus on getting work done for the classes I’m taking. I expect that the income from the two jobs put together will be right around the allowance that I can make before they start to deduct from my unemployment benefits, but I can hope that if they do actually deduct, they’ll just extend the length of time they pay benefits (since it’s based not on time but the total amount of money they pay out).

So today: work on classes, mainly. Read over the manual for Silvia’s so I can actually look like I know stuff when I go in to work tonight. And now I’m going to get my butt in gear…

A light at the end of the tunnel

Man, it’s been a crazy few days. It’s late, so you just get the short version.

On Saturday, we met up with fuzzytoedcollie and went to a flyball tournament. Great company, lots of dogs, lots of barking in an enclosed space, but a whole lot of fun. Got to pet da woofies, too – always a Good Thing. Fuzzytoes took some video of the fun, as well (1.85 Mb).

Sunday I cooked up a mess of chicken breasts and then we headed over to Thomas and Sherry’s for gaming and made chicken burritos. Yummy. Gaming was fun and productive, so much so that we’re doing it again next Sunday.

Monday was an annoying exercise in futility. Between going round and round trying to get the paperwork from my bank to the insurance company so they could pay us for totaling the Saturn and trying to work with the car dealership to line up financing, I couldn’t really concentrate on anything. A distracting, frustrating day.

Today was shaping up to be much the same, when suddenly everything fell into place. The bank got the fax to the insurance agency, the insurance agency had the check ready for us, and the car dealership worked up an acceptable financing package for us. All of this in the span of an hour. Wow. And so it was that after about an hour and a half of signing papers and surprisingly little hassle from the salesmen we found ourselves the proud owners of a new 2003 Honda Element. Dan was so happy when we got it home that I just had to get some pictures of him with his new toy.

There’s a few other things of note, but I’ll post about those tomorrow. Now me go sleep.

Safe and sound

Well, the storm has pretty much passed here. We got off light, compared to folks east and northeast of here – it was pretty much like a sustained strong thunderstorm here all day long. 30 MPH winds sustained, gusts of 50 MPH, and all of 1.5″ of rain. Naturally, the biggest excitement we had was right as the last bit was passing through: a couple of transformers in the woods behind the house blew. Big flashes, lots of sparks. very pretty, but guess what? No power. It came on again for about a half hour, then went out again just as Takaza had batter ready for banana bread ready to go into the oven.

We drove around a bit, then wound up at wildmouse and me_not_you‘s place, where they kindly lent us the use of their cooking facilities and we had a nummy steak dinner, with banana bread for dessert. Plus we watched the Virginia Tech/Texas A&M game, which was way cool.

So now we’re back snug in the house, the power is on, and the A/C unit is back in the window so our bedroom will be its customary refrigerator temperatures.

My thoughts turn to our friends in Tidewater and Richmond, Virginia. I hope y’all are safe, dry, and that they get power back to you as quickly as possible.

Oh, and thanks for your thoughts, werellama – we are indeed OK and much better off than I could have hoped after a sizable storm like this has rolled through.

Looking ahead to October

So, once we get past this little bitty rainstorm…

I mentioned before to a few people that the North Carolina State Fair is coming up in Raleigh. It’s a whole lot of fun – rides, educational and agricultural exhibits, music, and even pig racing! Woohoo! Plus, it’s good, cheap fun. (Hmmm, looks like the big concert that night is…Lou Gramm. Oh dear. We may have to take a miss on that…)

Judging from the attendance figures, it looks like the first Saturday (October 18, 2003) is probably the best day to go if we have to go on a weekend. So…anyone interested in hanging out on the weekend of the 18th? We’re happy to host, we can sleep a bunch of folks here, and we need to fulfill our quarterly hosting duties.

Incoming!

Well, Isabel has arrived. They’ve closed all the schools in the area and the roommate doesn’t have to go in to work (though takaza does due to his company’s moronic policies). They’re saying the storm isn’t really taking a westward turn which is good news for us, though worse news for our friends in Virginia Beach (batten down the hatches, dmlaenker, and geniealisa). On the bright side, the wind fields show that the worst of the winds won’t reach Richmond (good news for you, zenwolph!). Here in Raleigh, we’re supposed to get up to 4″ of rain and 20-40 MPH sustained winds with gusts up to 50 MPH. We should be OK, but fuzzytoedcollie and serenthia, y’all let us know if you need any help for anything!

Man, it looks like Atlantic Beach is kind of ground zero for the eye coming ashore. It’s weird because that’s right next to Emerald Isle, a beach that we visited a few years back at the kind invitation of me_not_you and wildmouse. I remember being struck by the fact that you had this long, thin barrier island twenty miles long with a bridge on each end; if a hurricane came through there, that’s not a lot of ways to get off the island (granted, a hurricane doesn’t exactly happen “suddenly” so I guess there’s lots of time to get out). Now a lot of that is probably going to be underwater – that’s what happens when you have 20′ – 30′ seas and 12 feet of storm surge.

This is amusing – watching the local news as they show the poor bastards that they’ve sent into the hurricane, one reporter commented that the largest population on the Outer Banks right now is the fifty satellite trucks with all the other poor bastards. Must suck to be low man on the totem pole when the disasters come through.

Down on the dole

Well, to start off here’s some good news: As of this week I am now receiving unemployment again. Yay! It’ll run for ten weeks, which gets us through to the end of November. This is a much-needed shot in the arm and means that we won’t be financially hemorrhaging quite as badly.

Then there’s the bad news. As expected, we got the call last Friday that the Saturn is officially totaled. Although we got a fair valuation for the car, I had to put on my “angry face” (a la Ralph Wiggum) and explain to the insurance agent that there was no way in hell that I was going to let him deduct the $200 of teardown work that the body shop did on the car from the settlement. He finally backed down, saying they would waive it “since it was such a small amount.” (Fine, let me take $200 out of your pocket, a**hole, and then you tell me how small an amount it is…) Anyway, they’re settling up with the bank that had the loan on the car and we should be getting a check for the balance of the settlement sometime this week. That’s good, since the rental car runs out on Friday.

So, we’ve been spending the last few days car shopping: researching, reading reviews, test driving. Thanks to Edmunds and Consumer Reports we have a pretty good picture of what’s up. Edmunds has some great articles on car salesmen (thanks for the pointer, Daveqat!) and buying over the net that were really helpful and I think will help us avoid a lot of hassle.

So, cars that we’ve investigated and discarded: Toyota RAV4 (too stiff a ride for me, and the 4-cylinder felt underpowered. Takaza liked it, though), Toyota Camry (nice car, too expensive), Honda Civic Hybrid (neither of us fit in the front seat), Honda Accord (too expensive), Saturn L-300 (gas pedal too close to the brake for people with big feet, trim was cheap and cut me [!] when we drove it), Saturn VUE (too stiff a ride for Dan, steering a bit too unresponsive for me). So, what does this leave? Two possibilities: the Ford Escape and the Honda Element. Yeah, the Element is gimmicky and astonishingly ugly, but there’s also a remarkable amount of room and it’s comfortable. It only comes with a 4-cylinder engine, but it’s pretty responsive for a four-banger. The Escape looks good and has all the appointments we’re looking for including the V-6 engine I prefer, but we still need to test drive it. Both of these cars have the big benefit that they’re cheap, too! We’ll have a decision on this by Thursday or so.

Financing is going to be interesting: I have great credit, but I’m unemployed. Dan has so-so credit, but he’s got a job. We may find ourselves delving the exciting world of joint ownership, particularly if we go with the Escape since Dan can get a supplier discount through his employer (Siemens). Negotiating the financing is going to be exciting, I’m sure.

So, stuff other than that. Classwork is going OK. I’m caught up with all my classes after my “vacation” in Chicago and now I have a projects to start in on in two of the classes, one of which will require me to hit the NC State library later today. No problems there.

Oh yeah, and that big freakin’ hurricane that’s headed for North Carolina. What fun! We’re situated far enough inland that if it followed the center of the track plotted at 5 AM this morning we’d probably only get grazed. But we’re also well within the possible track area, so I’m keeping a close eye on it. I lived in this area when Hurricane Fran came through in 1996, and I know what it’s like when a category 3 hurricane lands on your head. We’ll be ready – we picked up some water (good to have anyway) and I need to get some batteries for the radio today but other than that we should be fine. Our roommate mentioned that his back yard is in a 100-year flood plain, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on that as well. Although the creek out back would have to rise a good 10-12 feet to endanger the basement (which, incidentally, holds 80% of our possessions), we’re ready to move stuff in a hurry if we have to. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it won’t be necessary, though.

Back

So, 13 hours and 45 minutes after leaving Champaign (thanks for putting me up, mirkowuff!), I got in last night at 7:15 PM. Gah. Remind me not to drive that distance solo again anytime soon. fuzzytoedcollie, you have my respect! It was nice to see some of the Chambana area furs Tuesday night, like siegferret, rcfoot, quasiskunk, lycaos_wolf, hartreefox, Wolftail, and a couple of folks whose names escape me.

I came home to a fabulously clean house and a delicious steak dinner. Takaza is such a wonderful husband! He really busted his butt for me, and it was very much appreciated.

And so, back to reality today: laundry (lots), catching up on class work, MFF website stuff, entering in memberships that I got at the staff meeting, and other good stuff. Tonight we do a little car shopping (need to check out the Ford Escape and the Honda Element – yeah, the latter is uglier than sin, but it gets good ratings from Consumer Reports and it’s cheap!), buy a scanner, and stop by our favorite gelato place to chat with the owner.

And so things change

Well, after a week-and-some of occupying rustitobuck‘s living room, I’m finally getting my butt in gear and heading out. In case I haven’t said it enough, many, many thanks for putting use up, Rusty! It’s a lot to ask to have a guest for so long (guests and fish…) but you and Colin have been gracious hosts and your hospitality has been very much appreciated!

So, today’s plans: Following lunch with Partran I’ll be driving down to the Urbana-Champaign metroplex, there to spend the night at mirkowuff‘s and hopefully see some of the furry types down that way. And tomorrow? Rise as early as possible and hit the road back to North Carolina.

Lots to talk about over the last few days. On Sunday there was the Midwest Furfest board and staff meetings. A lot of very useful stuff got accomplished and I got to see some friends I haven’t had a chance to see in far too long (hi Moryssa!). The big news of the day: Takaza is going to be chairman for Midwest Furfest 2004! Yay! I’m so very happy for my wolf, and I just know that he’ll do a fantastic job of it. This will be an opportunity for him to exercise those border collie tendencies of his πŸ™‚

After the meeting the small gathering of folks we were going to hang out with at the Olive Garden somehow exploded to 23 people (gah!). It was fun, though, if a little cramped.

Yesterday I took Takaza to the airport, then relaxed a bit back at Rusty’s place. A couple of phone calls later and I found myself tromping through Caldwell Woods doing a bit of geocaching with Barbarian and Chouette. All too soon I had to take my leave and head up to Wheeling, where I joined Feren, Kestral, and Roho for dinner.

Dinner was a lot of fun. These are some fine folks that we just haven’t had the chance to spend much time with. I look forward to (with any luck) us getting back up to this area and remedying that fact!

Three items of note to close this entry:
1. Happy birthday, kittylad! Your AARP membership is in the mail.
2. Got a bit of great news when Takaza got home yesterday: a letter from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission stated that “due to economic conditions” (i.e. the unemployment rate being over 6.5%), they’re restarting my unemployment benefits! Woohoo! Not sure for how long, but at this point any money coming in is a Very Good Thing.
3. Got a call from our favorite gelato proprietor while I was out walking with Barbarian and Chouette yesterday. She might be in the market for a morning manager sometime soon. It’s not a lot of money, but it would keep me busy and might even be a bit of fun on the side. I’ll be talking to her again later this week.

Too busy to post?

It’s been a crazy week. I’m still in Chicago, and will be at least through Tuesday. I’ll spare you with a blow-by-blow rundown of the events of the last week except to say that I had fun hanging out with Partran, datahawk, linnaeus, rustitobuck, sylverfox, kittylad, Barbarian, and Chouette at various parts of the week. Got a lot of Midwest Furfest planning stuff done, and got to relax a bit. It was good.

Friday was quite busy. After a stop by Dick Blick in the morning to negotiate some goodies for MFF, we headed up to Wonder Lake, IL and spent the day with takaza‘s mom. Nice and low-key, though a reminder that everyone’s family has different dynamics. It was a pleasant visit though. After a late departure it was a somewhat panicked drive down to Morton Grove, sure that we’d be late…and we were exactly on time. Yay! We got to the Giordano’s and I was able to set up things with the staff there with relative ease. Then people started showing up. And showing up. And showing up. We had 32 people in all: duncandahusky, Takaza, DataHawk, Posicat, Foxen, FurtiveFox, Damnbear, Chouette, Barbarian, Ed, Rustitobuck, Colin, Partran, Aureth, evil_dwagon, Innerwolf, Neowolf2, Max, Tincrash, Little Wolf, Grey, Benjie, Ecostar, DaveQat, Synicism, Steviemaxwell, grabstein_69, Beth, justincheetah, wyldekyttin, crim_ferret, and Firewing. Much pizza was consumed, and folks generally seemed to have a good time. We took a sizable portion of the crowd (and picked up a few more) over to see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind afterwards – I think we had about 25 or so people there. Which is pretty good, since I think their theater only holds 88 people πŸ™‚ A couple members of our group got to participate in the entertainment (partran learned volunteering isn’t always a good thing, and aureth proved he could take directions…well, sort of). We had a really great time there and laughed a lot. I think we seemed to even pick up a non-fur to hang out with some of our group – not sure how that happened. We packed it in not long after, but I don’t think we got to bed until 3 that night.

And on Saturday? Well, I was exhausted. I slept as late as I could, but I was still dragging. After the night before both Takaza and I were feeling a bit tired and antisocial, so we kept things kind of quiet. We made a quick visit to the con hotel to check on a few things, and a long, lingering visit to Expo (drool, drool, drool…) then came back to Rusty’s place and ordered some yummy food from Leona’s. Linnaeus was able to stop by after work and that was good – we had some nice discussion and he got to unwind a bit.

So now it’s Sunday. We’ve got the Midwest Furry Fandom Board Meeting, and then the Midwest Furfest staff meeting. We’ll probably head out for dinner with folks afterwards, and it’ll be fun. Takaza flies back to NC tomorrow at about 5:30, and then I might be driving back on Tuesday – we’ll see how things work out today and tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe a stop along the way would be nice….

WSD + TML, 9/5 – CHANGES!

Hi all!

A reminder announcement here, but also a big change in location for dinner. READ CAREFULLY!

First off, a word to those of you new to our wacky little group. This announcement is for two events together – A Western Suburbs Dinner (WSD), and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (TML…). A WSD is a gathering of furry folk from across the Illinois/Wisconsin area (and anyone else who wants to come) for a dinner to meet, hang out, and put some faces with names. TML… is an entertaining, at times interactive, late-night theater production that is memorable and lots of fun. Everyone is invited to these events, and we hope to see lots of new faces and old friends!

So, on to the changes…

In looking at our original choice of location for dinner, I realized that it was a bit too far west and too far south to conveniently head over to TML after dinner, plus it’s a bit far south for Wisconsinites to drive. So in the interest of improving logistics and making life a little easier for everyone, we have changed the venue for dinner.

TIME: 7:30 PM, Friday, September 5
NEW LOCATION: Giordano’s Pizza, 5990 W. Dempster, Morton Grove, IL (just west of the Edens Expressway), (847)966-4300

The good news is that with the change of location we’re getting a better deal. We’ll get all you can eat thin crust & stuffed crust pizza, pop, and house salad for $12 per person, tax and gratuity included. (Boring rules: pay me or Takaza as you arrive, cash only please, exact change really appreciated).

Followed by…

TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND (30 plays in 60 minutes)
(http://www.neofuturists.org/)
5153 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL
Meet by 10:15 PM (Out of fairness, and to prevent others in line from throwing things at us, we cannot let people cut into line if they arrive late)

Please RSVP for dinner and/or Too Much Light directly to Duncan NOW!

I have received the following RSVP’s (if you don’t see your name here, you didn’t send me an email like I told you to!):
Duncan & Takaza
DataHawk & Posicat
Bill (unforgiven18@ameritech.net)
Foxen
FurtiveFox
Kodian
Chouette, Barbarian, and Ed
Rusty & Colin
Partran

See y’all in a few days!
-Duncan