Monthly Archives: January 2006

Well, we didn’t have any plans, but…

You know, you go into a weekend with no plans, and stuff just kind of happens. Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you!

After a quiet night in on Friday, takaza and I slept in (I got up at 9:15! Woo!). I enjoyed a nice morning of coffee, newspaper, and laptop, with some mellow music playing in the background. Once Dan was up and we had showered, linnaeus joined us and we drove up to the bustling metropolis of Antioch, IL, where we met up with roho and genet to see Hoodwinked (My favorite review: “Finally, a Rashomon for the whole family. This cartoon version of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ tells and retells its story from a variety of perspectives, all of them boring”). It wasn’t quite that bad – it had random moments of humor – but the animation was substandard and all in all I’m really glad I only paid $2 to see it.

After the movie, we went to the Antioch Armanetti’s liquor store (motto: “Better stocked than we have any right to be!”), where we found that we arrived about five minutes to late to take part in the huge beer and wine sampling event they were staging. Phooey. We made a couple of good purchases, though. They had a good price on Apfelkorn (take note, lisagems!) so I got a bottle of that, as well as a bottle of Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka. Dan picked up a bottle of Thin Mint Liqueur and a bottle of Sgt. Peppermint. The best buy of the night was a Grey Goose Vodka gift set that was a box big enough to hold two bottles and included two martini glasses, a shaker, and a pony/jigger. Normally it sold with two bottles of vodka but without the bottles it was $5.99. Score! We now have a nice portable bar 🙂 (This may sound like a huge booze purchase, but for those of you who know us, this is enough liquor to last us for the next six or eight months!)

After a quick stop by the grocery store, we headed back to Roho and Genet’s place. A tasty dinner of burgers followed, and feren eventually joined us as well. We determined that while Drunken Apples to Apples is a very fun game, Drunken Cranium is not quite as much fun. We had fun anyway, though. The next morning we made our usual pilgrimage to Las Vegas Restaurant for a delicious breakfast, then it was back to the house for an orgy of Nintendo DS gaming. We left at around 3 or so to head back to the city. Siriuswolfstar came by later once he got off from work and we capped off an excellent weekend with some sushi and some Family Guy.

After a restless night’s sleep, I’m trudging forward this morning. We have a lot to get done with week – errands to run after work, and some cleaning around the house as well – and on Friday we head towards Pittsburgh for some pre-Anthrocon strategizing. Since Friday will be a half-day, that means I’ll be coming in extra early Tuesday through Friday to make up for the lost time, yay. And now, off to see what joys my inbox has for me…

What Goes Up Must Come Down

And yesterday was going so well, too. Had a pretty productive day at work, and was even able to leave a bit early (because I got in early, of course). Traffic was minimal, and I was home in record time. I took a short walk over to the gym, and put in some quality cardio workout time, followed by a nice long soak in the hot tub. The hot tub makes it worth it 🙂

As I was walking home from the gym, about a half-block from home, I graciously stepped aside for a passing neighbor…onto a patch of ice. Slip – BAM! Flat on my back. Man, that hurt. Considering what could have happened, I’m really amazingly lucky. As it was, I landed hard on my hip and right elbow, bruising both thoroughly. I limped home and Takaza, bless his heart, took care of me, making sure I had an ice pack and was resting comfortably, then making a yummy dinner and cleaning up afterwards, and dealing with the laundry as well. I slept rather poorly, unfortunately, waking up every time I rolled over or moved my arm. About 24 hours later, the good news is that outside of some surface tenderness, my hip is fine. I’m having some flexibility issues with my elbow, though, and certainly the point of my elbow is quite sore. I don’t think it’s anything more serious than a hard bruise, but I’ll be spending a bit more time with an ice pack when I get home, I think.

I have my last gym appointment today, where (fortunately) we’re focusing on lower-body strength training. Dan might be working late tonight, and we might get together with a friend for dinner – we’ll see how that works out. Wow, tomorrow is Friday, and we have no plans for the weekend yet, something that I rather like actually. Wow, maybe I can sleep in until 8 AM or something crazy like that.

Are You Seeing What You Think You’re Seeing?

By the way, just a side note: If you normally stay logged in to LiveJournal, you were logged out back on January 20 and again late last night due to some security issues (also, Sidekick users are not staying logged in). What this means (among other things) is that while you think you may be seeing your friends’ journal entries, you may not have seen their friends-only posts. Click here to be sure you’re logged in.

Edit: As was pointed out in , the new cookie is rather amusing:

Meanwhile, In Another Part of the Forest…

Well, that was a lovely little impromptu little trip. As I mentioned in my entry on Friday, I hitched a train down to St. Louis for the weekend, got to hang out with some fun folks, got in some family time, and got a nice change of scenery. It was a lot of fun.

On Friday I left work on the early side and caught the El down to Union Station. As I was getting on the Brown Line at Kedzie, I heard a mother and her daughter inquire about how to get to Union Station; when they reached the platform I volunteered to show them the way. This opened the way to an interesting conversation all the way downtown. The daughter was in the middle of a multi-week tour to visit college campuses and they were just returning from North Park University, which is right around the corner from where I live. Given that she was leaning towards Wellesley and didn’t think much of North Park, I reckon they won’t be back. Anyway, we had fun chatting and once we got to Union Station we parted ways.

The Business Class upgrade that I had purchased turned out to really pay off, since they had us board the train first, well ahead of everyone else. In all, I think there were eight people in a section that seated eighteen. The seats were wide and relatively comfy and since we were at the front of the car right behind the engine, there was no foot traffic. The middle of the car was the “snack bar” (a couple of refrigerators and a microwave – I was glad I’d picked up something at the station!), then the rest of the car was something akin to restaurant booths for people to eat and socialize. The trip too five and a half hours, and while it was somewhat boring it was nice that I could plug in my laptop for entertainment. I watched the first disc of The Fellowship of the Ring, then listened to MP3’s the rest of the way. I also worked on sorting through my inbox in Eudora, paring it down from 1,600 to 700 e-mails (some back to 2003. Um, whoops). We arrived a few minutes early at 10:40 PM and takaza pulled up to the station not long after. We retired to the La Quinta Westport and quickly went to bed.

On Saturday we lazed about the room a bit, then met up with ramalion and KBear. We grabbed a quick lunch then went over to their lovely house and watched a few episodes of Firefly (while entertaining Sammy the hyperactive black lab). We chatted for a while then drove up to meet Tygercowboy, spikerotty, and mauilovich for dinner at a diner/pancake house. The food was tasty and the company was excellent. From there it was over to Webster University for an interesting film, Three of Hearts. It was about the creation and ultimate dissolution of a three-way relationship between two bisexual men and a woman. Seeing the pushes and pulls of the relationship was fascinating, and while I don’t think I would have the constitution for a polyamorous relationship, there were a lot of interesting insights to be found about relationships in general – how they’re formed, how we cope, and what it takes to sustain one. I’m really glad we went. Afterwards we parted ways with T.C. and company and Dan, Rama, K, and I hit a Cold Stone Creamery (in Kirkwood, right near St. Joseph’s Hospital where I was born! 🙂

Sunday was equally slow getting started, but hey, we were on vacation! Once we got up and got checked out of the room, we met up with my sister’s family at Macaroni Grill. The meal was fun and it was really nice seeing them again, even though it was all too short a visit. Then it was time to hit the road for the five and a half hour drive back. Outside of some heavy fog near Braidwood, the drive wasn’t bad at all.

And now we’re back into the work week, yay. Not too much planned for the week – I have an appointment at the gym tonight to plan a workout routine, and tomorrow I have to take my Element in for its 10,000-mile checkup. No plans for the coming weekend, which is good since we’ll be the on the road again the weekend after that. No rest for the wicked, and all that…

Monday Morning Linkage

Weekend recap to come, but here’s some links which caught my eye this morning.

Supervalu wins Albertsons bidding war. Supervalu (which owns Cub Foods in the Chicago area) picks up all of the Jewel/Osco stores in Chicago, plus a host of other grocery brand names, including Acme. Stand-alone Osco stores in the Midwest will be going to CVS. A separate investment group is picking up Albertsons and Super Saver stores in Dallas/Ft Worth, Northern California, Florida, the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest.

The West Wing has been cancelled. The last episode airs in May. I checked out from this show after Sorkin left, but it was good while it lasted (even “Toby” didn’t think much of it at the end, though).

On the bright side, it sounds like there are four Futurama films in the works, to be released direct to DVD. (And by the way, last year I heard an extended interview with Billy West. He’s a very funny, very personable guy who has some interesting opinions on the state of voice acting talent industry today.)

Do you take the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) in Chicago? Starting in March, be prepared to AVOID it for the next two years. Hmm – time to investigate that Skyway-to-Lake Shore Drive shortcut…

Oh yeah, and have fun voting, you Canuckians!

Stay Home? Not Gonna Happen

Gosh, this seemed like it was going to be a nice calm week when I made my last post. Yeah, right…

Takaza got the word on Tuesday that he was going to be going down to his employer’s St. Louis, Missouri, branch to help out with some training there. Once they got the scheduling worked out, I went to work to figure out how I could get down there economically and we could hang out for the weekend. Flights were out at this late date – the cheapest I could find was over $100. Amtrak, though…they even had a schedule that worked for me. A nice bonus was that I found a great website that posts discount codes for Amtrak (typically these are the ones that are mailed out to their Guest Rewards program); that netted me a quick 25% off.

So, for $60 I’ve got a business-class seat on the Route 305 – State House train from Chicago-Union Station to St. Louis, departing at 5:15 PM on Friday and getting in (theoretically) at 10:43 PM. I say theoretically because, looking at the last week, the train arrives somewhere between five and thirty minutes late. Eh, it’s worth it, I think. We’ll be down there through Sunday afternoon, and Dan will be at the regular Friday night Furry Coffee gathering. On Saturday we’ll be hanging out with ramalion and K and hopefully tygercowboy and company as well. Sunday we’ll do lunch with my sister’s family before driving back to Chicago.

Also, in a nice “Power of the Internet” moment, I just spent the last ten minutes or so using Google Maps to talk Dan through a detour off of I-270 around a nasty accidenton the Illinois side of the Mississippi River that had stopped traffic for miles. It was very odd to be talking to him and relating what he was seeing real-time to landmarks I saw in the satellite photos.

Going back a bit earlier in the week, I did have my physical health assessment at the gym on Monday, as I mentioned. The good news is that I’m not quite as bad off as I thought I was – I weigh a little less than I thought I did and my nutrition is “average” where I thought it would be “poor”. The bad news is that apparently, for a 37-year-old I have the body of a 50-year-old, according to their “Body Age” testing thingy. Yeah, that’s something to work on, I reckon. I’ve got another appointment on Monday evening to set up a program for cardio and strength training, and then I’ll be good to go. I’m such a creature of habit – once I can get a good regimen going, it’s pretty easy to stick with.

Oh, and finally, two cool items from today’s paper of interest to roho, genet, and feren: a comparison of stir-fry restaurants in the Chicago area, and a nice review of my favorite tea house, Infini-Tea.

Old School, Baby!

This made me laugh out loud.

Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the
presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The
presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-
length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

It's not that kind of seal.

They are two several chairs arranged around the center of the room,
along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton's shoes.

You are unable to fill Clinton's shoes...


Cameras and WAPs and Vacuuming

Ugh. Monday’s here, and I’m still feeling pretty bleah. On the bright side, it doesn’t feel like my sinuses are 1.5 times bigger than my head anymore, but I’m still dealing with a bit of runny nose. The coughing seems to have abated somewhat, which is good. I figure in a couple of days I should be back to normal and ready for the next cold, which is sure to hit by the end of the week. Oy.

Not a terribly exciting weekend, really. I woke up very late Friday night with chills and a fever, so all of the plans we had for Saturday were put on hold while takaza and I relaxed around the house. We did finally motivate later in the afternoon and got some cleaning done, which was good. On Sunday, it was more of the same. I’m not complaining, mind you – it was a nice, laid-back weekend break that I needed. Heck, I slept until 9:30 on Saturday morning, which is usually unthinkably late for me! We did a bit more cleaning on Sunday, and made a trip out to Best Buy. They had a good sale on digital cameras and we splurged a bit and got a new one: a Canon Powershot A620. I’m really happy with this camera – it’s extremely easy to use and gives demonstrably better results than our old digital camera (which, granted, is four years old now). I see us using the camera a lot more now that it’s so much easier to deal with.

We also picked up a new wireless access point in hopes of fixing some of the issues Dan was having losing connectivity with his laptop (and Nintendo DS). I’m not particularly impressed so far, though when it connects, it’s fast! I’m debating on messing around with directional antennas (now that we have a WAP that can handle different antenna inputs – the old Netgear did not). We’ll see what I can come up with.

Not too much else going on this week. Tonight I have my first appointment at the gym where they size up my current physical condition (I’m holding out for “ramshackle”), which will provide a basis for a workout program to be determined at a later appointment with the trainers there. I’m annoyed that the only time available was 8:30 PM (when we usually go to bed at 10 PM), but I can tough it out. More interesting is the fact that I’m not supposed to have a heavy meal in the 3.5 hours before the appointment, so dinner will be either early or small-ish (or both, given that I had a sizeable lunch).

OK, back to more calculations and surface areas, oh my!


The Things I Do For Excitement

So I have this thing that isn’t quite a cold but it’s pretty annoying. Slight nasal congestion, sore throat…but not much else. Oh, and an occasional cough that sounds horrible, but isn’t really. My cow-orkers are all offering me cough drops, so I’m guessing they’re tired of listening to me. Lucky them!

I’ve spent the morning calculating surface areas, and I’ve only scratched the surface (heh) of the stack I have to complete. This is boring and tedious, but it’s good to know I need a masters in chemical engineering to calculate the area of the lateral surface of a truncated cone. At least I have my MP3 player. So far I’ve been through the Garden State and Hedwig soundtracks, and I’m listening to Princess Mononoke now.

Had a couple of nibbles from recruiters lately, which is encouraging. This weekend I need to fluff my resume a bit on Monster and Careerbuilder (read: make the resume appear newer on database searches). It’s a pity that I don’t want to completely ignore the first seven years of my work experience, otherwise I could take any of the nice low-paying jobs that I’ve been offered. On the bright side, takaza is in line for quite an impressive raise, which opens up the acceptable salary range for me. But I’m still not going to take any of this entry-level crap.

Well, ’bout time for lunch now. The cafeteria here is quite adept at taking a good idea and rendering it into something barely edible; we’ll see what they put in the slop-buckets today.

And for those of you who are of The Cult of the Mac

Here’s the scoop Steve Job’s keynote address at MacWorld today from

10:29 am “One More Thing…”
10:29 am Showing a Powerbook G4. Trying to shoehorn a G5 into the Powerbook. We’ve done everyhing possible…
10:30 am But power consuption. Now discussing Peformance per Watt.
10:30 am Today – MacBook Pro
10:30 am New laptop computer.
10:31 am No more Powerbook. Intel duo Core.
10:31 am 2 processors in every Macbook pro.
10:31 am 4-5x faster.
10:32 am Fastest notebook ever.
10:32 am Hair thinner than the 17″.
10:32 am 15.4inch LCD. bright as cinemas.
10:33 am iSight Camera.
10:33 am Demoing the new MacBook Pro.
10:35 am IR sensor. Apple Remote.
10:35 am New feature: New Power Adapter is magnetically held in. If yanked, comes right out.
10:37 am 5.6lbs. iSight, Front Row; $1999 1.67 Core Duo; 667 DDR bus, x1600; $2499 1.83GHz.
10:37 am Shipping in February.
10:38 am Taking orders today.

Oooh, sounds pretty. It’ll be worth checking out, I suppose.

Where Have I Been?

If it’s Monday, it must be another…Weekend Recap! Well, OK – maybe more than just the weekend. Let’s go back to, um, Wednesday, I think. Linnaeus and I went over to his gym and signed me up for a membership. I like their egalitarian approach to “family” memberships: you can sign up two people for a discounted membership. Those people can be spouses, roommates, neighbors, whoever – it doesn’t matter. So the net benefit is that I get a reasonably-proced membership to a very spiffy facility, and Paul gets a discount on his current membership. Yay! Like my last gym, they start you out with three introductory sessions to assess where you are now, what reasonable goals for you might be, and what you need to do to meet those goals. I really like this, as it gives me some good structure within which to work – I thrive on structure. The downside is that because I joined at the beginning of the year just like every other schmuck trying to make good on their resolutions, I have to wait until Monday, January 16th at 8:30 PM for my first session. Grrr. I’m having a bit of trouble getting myself motivated to go to the gym in the interim, but I’m sure that once I establish a routine it’ll get better.

Wednesday night and Thursday we chatted with Uncle_Kage a bit online and talked about Dan and my respective positions with the convention. I’ll be doing Artists Alley again, and Dan will be taking on a newly-created cash handling position to try to streamline the flow of cash through the convention. One thing led to another and now it appears that we’ll be heading out to Pittsburgh the weekend of February 4th to meet with some of the staff and get an early look at some of the facilities. Woo!

On Friday, Takaza was feeling under the weather so he came home from work early. I was all set to go to the gym right after work, but first a little Sly 3 – just to wind down. And then suddenly it was three hours later. Wha? Ah well. I made up for it a little by walking to pick up dinner – sushi for Paul and I, and a tasty cheeseburger for Dan. Afterwards, we relaxed and watched some Tivo.

Saturday, Dan, Paul, and I had lunch with roho and genet at Opa! Estiatorio in Vernon Hills. The Greek food was excellent and very filling. We rambled around Hawthorn Mall for a bit, then we parted ways with Paul since he had some stuff to take care of back home. After a quick stop in Antioch and at Woodman’s in Kenosha, the four of us arrived just in time for fritzie_pup‘s surprise birthday party that colliedoc had secretly arranged. Fritzie was completely floored and extremely surprised. Siriuswolfstar, lisagems, and datahawk were there as well. What followed was an extremely enjoyable evening of yummy appetizers, tasty chili, some very strong (but good!) cosmopolitans, Klaus the adorable but incredibly destructive German shephard puppy and the requisite Drunken Apples to Apples. It was a real pleasure to see more of Straif and Fritzie, and I do hope that we’ll be seeing more of them in the future. We headed back to Roho and Genet’s place after midnight and slept quite soundly.

Sunday morning, Dan wasn’t feeling too well. While the company the night before was excellent, I don’t think either of us dealt with the copious cigarette smoke too well – my throat was sore and still is, and Dan had to hit his inhaler before the day was out. We motivated over to Las Vegas Restaurant and this time I opted for the chocolate chip pancakes, which were delicious. We were joined (an hour later) by the rest of the folks from the previous night’s party, just in time for us to head out to the movie theater. It was a bummer not to be able to hang out with them more, but them’s the hazards of planning stuff after a party, particularly when some of those folks don’t go to bed before 5 AM 😉 Datahawk joined me and Dan and Roho and Genet to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe at the Antioch Theater. Hey, for $2 for a matinee, even if the movie was lousy I wasn’t going to complain too much! It wasn’t of course – it was quite lovely, and the effects were just plain astonishing. The plot showed the books’ young-adult fantasy roots, but that’s to be expected. I really enjoyed the movie and I’m glad we saw it. After the movie, Dan and I drove back home. The Midwest FurFest post-mortem meeting took place online and that ate up the majority of the evening, then we watched Family Guy, then it was off to bed.

And so for this week, I have a bit of followup from last night’s meeting to take care of. I need to get to the gym at least three nights this week, even if it’s just using the treadmill and recumbent bicycle. And I need to start organizing some of the Artists Alley paperwork from last year and make some lists for what I need to do this year.

Oh, for those interested: it sounds like we’ll definitely be going to Musher Mania down in Monee this coming Saturday afternoon. If anyone would like to join us you’re quite welcome! There won’t be much, if any, snow on the ground but that’s OK because they have wheeled sleds they can use. Plus…huskies! What more reason do you need? If you’re interested, just let me know.

Back to work…

It’s a Tuesday that’s like a Monday. Whee! Actually, what it means is a short work-week, which is never a bad thing. Today finds me up to my ears in Visio, trying to make it do things it wasn’t designed for – dangit, if you want me to do isometric drawings, give me Autocad! On the bright side, it’s very absorbing work, and I can sit down and work on it for a while and look up to find an hour has gone by. It’s a great way to may the day go fast!

So last night I started to make a wonderful recipe from Cook’s Country, a very tasty garlic roast beef. Of course, it wasn’t until I had the potatoes roasting in the oven and was about to rub the roast down with the garlic-thyme paste that I saw the line I had missed when I first read the recipe: “Place roast in refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.” Hmm. Time to re-think dinner. Fortunately, I had also picked up a pork loin, so I quickly cut that down into some nice boneless pork chops and we had pork chops for dinner instead. On the bright side, this means, there’s a very tasty roast beef in the fridge right now that’s going to be an excellent dinner. I need to pick up some potatoes on the way home so I can make mashed potatoes, too.

Apparently, Takaza didn’t sleep well last night. When my alarm went off at 5 AM and he wasn’t in bed next to me, I knew it couldn’t be good. It seems that between his wrist and a nasty sore throat, he woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. Sweetheart that he is, though, he had coffee and scrambled eggs waiting for me when I stepped out of the shower. I suspect he’ll be going to bed early tonight.

So as we were driving all over over the weekend, Dan and I had a chance to talk about planning of future events. After looking at the number of people who responded, the cost of the facilities, and the probable cost of the food, I don’t think we’re going to be able to pull off the dinner event that we had mentioned. I think we’d have to charge at least $35 per person, and not only is that pretty pricey, I would want to make sure that people felt they were getting a good value for their money, and with what that would leave for food expenses, I’m not sure I could do that. Plus, the one date that seemed to work is the same weekend as Capricon, so that might have presented scheduling difficulties. Instead, we’re going to focus our efforts on the upcoming Wuffmeet/FRAC 2 (which I just realized will be three weeks before Anthrocon. Ack!). We have an idea for a gathering of folks in March, too, but I need to talk to some people before we start making any plans in that direction – more on that soon!

A New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I type this sitting in our room at the Country Inn and Suites in Gurnee, Illinois. Last night was the LAFF New Year’s Eve Party and it went off flawlessly, I think. Linnaeus will have the final numbers, but I believe that we exceeded last year’s attendance, though not by too much.

Yesterday, Paul and I drove out to the MFF storage locker to borrow the large coolers for the party. We scored and excellent price on plastic champagne glasses at Schweppe’s Restaurant Supply, then picked up some important supplies at Sam’s Wine and Spirits. Afterwards, we headed home, where takaza was waiting. Siriuswolfstar showed up and he and Paul took Dan’s Element for more shopping for supplies while we took my Element and picked up lisagems, then headed up to Gurnee. Once we secured our room, we started setting up the meeting rooms we would be using. Dan did an amazing job of getting the food set up and ready for the incoming masses, and once that was done we chatted a bit, since we were actually ready for people by about 5:15 PM but we weren’t slated to start until 7. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur, but I can say that people seemed to have a good time, many games of Lupus in Tabula were played, as well as quite an arrangement of video games and movies. I can also say that cosmopolitans made with apple-cranberry juice and spiked with Apfelkorn are just plain dangerous. At midnight everyone toasted the new year with sparkling grape juice, and I got my eighth (!) annual New Year’s kiss from my dear husband. Afterwards, I snuck back to roho and genet‘s with a couple of folks and we toasted the new year with tasty cider and champagne and munched on pizza pockets (“The official snack food of five year olds and drug addicts!”). A little after 2 AM, I went down and helped with the tail end of the cleanup and we did a reasonable job of restoring the rooms to their original state (less some mopping and vacuuming), then Dan and I went to bed.

Everyone is slow to get going this morning (gosh, I wonder why?). I didn’t sleep too well, unfortunately, and woke up at 9 AM. I’ve been puttering around ever since, but I haven’t seen too many people awake. Once we get rolling, I’m hoping well his Las Vegas Restaurant for brunch, then we’re off to Dan’s mom’s place to give her the Gift of Tivo 🙂

So here’s to 2005! It was a rocky year, but we survived. May 2006 be a better, happier year for everyone!