Monthly Archives: November 2003

Registration Musings

Well, I have yet to write up even a semi-coherent post about Midwest FurFest, but in the meantime, I want to address a topic near and dear to my heart: Registration. It’s funny, because in all the con reports I’ve read I haven’t seen a lot of mention of registration, something which is just fine with me. Reg is one of those things you only hear a lot about when things go wrong, and things went spectacularly right for us this year.

Preparations for this year were more stressful in years past. I was stupid and didn’t follow the timeline I set out for myself last year (you know, the one that I made so I wouldn’t go insane?) and for that I paid the price of large quantities of stress. Everything came together on Tuesday before the con when the registration bags arrived five hours before we drove out for Chicago. That’s cutting things a bit too close. Next year, this Will Not Be The Case.

We also got an unpleasant surprise when we arrived at the hotel: the coat closet that we had used in previous years was completely unavailable to us due to being flooded two weeks prior and they had STILL not found or repaired the leak. This meant that we had to set up in the hallways in front of the coat check, and in hindsight this was actually a Good Thing. We had a lot more space to work with, and I think we actually handled attendees better with this configuration than we would have otherwise, although it was at a cost of packing everything up every night, something that was distinctly unpleasant but not too onerous. We’ll be sticking with this configuration for next year, with some minor adjustments (and having the coat closet available for storage will make it much more livable!)

Then the people came. And came. And came. This year we added a time stamp to every badge printed, so I was able to do traffic analysis. At the peak of processing on Thursday night, we registered one person every twenty seconds. On Friday morning, with fewer people and fewer stations that went up to one person every thirty seconds. Damn. To the best of my knowledge no one waited longer than fifteen minutes to get their badge all weekend. I consider that damn good, but there’s still room for improvement. We have some changes to make to our system, both in software and hardware, that will really speed things along. Next year, my goal is that no one waits longer than ten minutes. We’ll see if we can hit that.

I suppose I’m making this all sound like I did it myself, and I want to assure everyone that I am laboring under no such delusions. This was very much a team effort, and there’s a great many thank-you’s to go out, starting first and foremost with rustitobuck. Rusty is responsible for all the programming for the registration database, and this is the third year in a row that it has worked and worked well. Even in the face of printer issues (as in, nothing would print!) hours before Registration opened on Thursday, he held everything together and came through with a system that withstood the beating that we gave it. You’re awesome, Mr. Wookiee, and I can’t thank you enough!

My second-in-command, DaveQat, did a fine job of keeping things running and sorting through issues in my absence and even when I was there. Be ready for a lot more to do in the coming year, Dave, ’cause I’m ready to offload some of these preparations to you!

Then there’s my staff. At times I feel sort of like an Amway salesman, dragging friends onto Registration staff whether they like it or not. They put up with me, though, somehow, and do an amazing job. It’s because of these great people that we were able to be as efficient as we were and they deserve your thanks:
Ramalion (I so owe you for this, and the next time I’m at MFM I know where I’ll be working!), Osiris (kittylad), Tsuki, Benjie (boixboi), Rasslor, Feren (because, you know, Art Show didn’t give him enough to do…), Jackie (my mother-in-law :-), Synicism, Tecknow, damnbear (hey, how’d you get in there?), and Rolliebear. Y’all are all fantastic, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for your help during the convention.

Many thanks, too, to the fabulous gophers cuttercoon (you were there when I needed you!), bakimono (so quiet and efficient I forgot to mention you), and Cheesecake (chsck83) (damn, even I don’t pull six-and-a-half hour shifts at Registration!). I appreciate the time you volunteered and hope you enjoyed it as well.

And finally, thanks very, very much to my beloved husband, Takaza, who not only put up with my annoying crap leading up to the con, but provided support throughtout the con and ordered pizza for us on Thursday night so my Registration staff was fed and happy! He’s really neat, and I’m going to keep him 🙂

So there you have it. We rocked this year, quite frankly, and we have set the standard for next year. And with the crew that I have (and any other interested folks who care to join us), I am absolutely certain that we can be even better next year. Way to go, folks!

Why Chicago weather amuses me so much

The weather forecast for the coming weekend:

Mostly sunny and mild. High around 70. Low in the lower 50s.
Partly cloudy. High in the upper 60s. Low around 50.
Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of rain. High around 60. Low in the middle or upper 30s.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and snow. Much colder. High in the middle or upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 40 percent.

Something for everyone!

Last minute preparations

Putting boxes, boxes, and more boxes inside The Box. We didn’t actually need to see out the back window, did we? Still need to leave room for the suitcase and for the boxes arriving by FedEx tomorrow. Everything fits – barely.

So for tomorrow:

  • Mail tax info on Saturn to Wake County (yes! It’s gone! No, I don’t have to pay taxes on it!)
  • Do laundry
  • Pack suitcase and toiletries
  • Clean house (finally, we can get rid of the clutter!)
  • Pack last bits of stuff into the Element
  • Wash inside windows of the Element
  • Fill Element with gas
  • Pick up Takaza at work at 3 PM and hit the road!

And for now…to bed!


So, we’re into another week. Another day closer to MFF. Yeek.

No new word on the job front, but that’s cool. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the job in Ohio – it would be a good position, I think, even if the location may not be the greatest. We could certainly do worse.

We had a busy weekend. On Friday, me_not_you and wildmouse and Thomas and Sherry came over and we cooked up steaks and enjoyed some excellent wine. Hey, Rasslor – we finally cracked open the Habersham Winery Georgia Scarlett and, I have to say, it was excellent! Thanks again from bringing it up, and maybe next time you bring a bottle we’ll actually open it while you’re here so you can have some 🙂

Saturday was an interesting bit of choreography. After seeing takaza off to a physical therapy appointment, I joined Donald and Janelle in a trip up to the local homebrewing shop (the only one in a 50-mile radius, I might add). We picked up another carboy and the ingredients for a brown ale. We met up with Dan in time for lunch at the tasty MacGregor Ale House (mmm, good food and football. Yeah!), then adjourned back to the house. Dan squeezed in a bit of work on the con book and also made a tasty beef stew while I made brownies. Then it was time to hustle over to Thomas and Sherry’s for their Halloween party. Great food, great company, lots of really good wine and champagne. Mmmm, yummy,

Was the night over after that? No! It was time to stop by Clyde and Pony’s Halloween shindig that they threw for the CarolinaFurs (hell, it was all of five minutes from our house – it’s not like we had any excuse not to stop by and be sociable). It was a pleasure to meet Clyde and Pony, and it’s always great to see Perro. We met the elusive tervicz, played with Pooka, Clyde and Pony’s adorable husky, and got to meet Pony’s neurotic bird and his ill-tempered mutant lake bass. Somehow, we also wound up talking MFF business while we were there (how the hell did that happen?) and put some folks’ minds to rest about some misinterpretations of the Artists’ Den rules. Anyway, we also saw zenwolph there and, as planned, he crashed for the night at our place not long after.

On Sunday, after a lovely morning of chatting with Zen and enjoying some tasty French toast, Donald and Thomas came over and we cooked up the brown ale we had bought the ingredients for on Saturday. All went well and I sent five gallons on beer home with Donald, where I’m sure it’s bubbling and foaming away even as I type this. Zen sacked out on the couch for a few hours, which was cool because that gave us a bit of time to unwind and read the newspaper. Once he got motivated again, we grabbed dinner at Chili’s, then sent him on his way back to Richmond. We spent the evening working on the Restaurant Guide and conbook stuff – a quiet night, but pleasant.

So, for the near future: More work on the restaurant guide today, putting together a map for it. Possibly might work up a big map with numbers keyed to the individual restaurants that we could post someplace – we’ll see how motivated I am. I need to get the attendee badge layout to Dan tonight so it can go to the printer tomorrow, and sometime soon, as soon as it’s all finalized, grab the programming schedule off the web and convert it into some format suitable for the con book. Oh, and somewhere in there I have to continue working on the HACCP course – I finished all the coursework on the other two classes I’m taking, but the HACCP course is going to require more time. With luck I can wrap it up before MFF, though.

Beer-wise, thebroomecloset and ovrclockd expressed interest in making a batch of stout, so that may well be next on the agenda. I also want to make a batch of Christmas beer (similar to Anchor’s fabulous annual Christmas brews) that I can put into the keg and serve at the Gang Christmas party (and probably for a good while thereafter, but that’s OK). Those might have to wait until after we get back from Chicago, though, since the next two weeks are going to be somewhat insane. We’ll definitely be bottling the English Special Bitter that I currently have in the fermenter this week, probably on Tuesday. That should be ready for MFF – talk to me if you’d like to try a sample 😉 On a side note, I found that the venerable Cat’s Meow, the immense compendium of homebrew recipes that was a great reference when I was brewing back at Virginia Tech, is still around and even downloadable in PDF – all 310 pages of it (the first link is browsable in HTML, though). It’s a great resource, and I’m awed as ever by the compiled wisdom of the net working together to continue to keep it around and available (and even providing an updated way to share recipes!)

And now, off to start the day!