Monthly Archives: May 2006

And Now: FRAC 2!

Furries Race Across Chicago (or FRAC) is the name of a treasure hunt that we conduct periodically; the object is to visit a set number of checkpoints scattered throughout the Chicago area in the correct order and return to FRAC Headquarters in the shortest amount of time. This past weekend was the second FRAC. A summary of the first FRAC can be found over here, and here are the results from that race. Also, here are the Rules For FRAC for your perusal. In presenting the summary of FRAC 2, I’m going to post the questions and answers in sections over a the next couple of days, along with a bit of commentary. Here’s the start of the race:

This time around, we had seven teams:
Team Crossing Gates: posicat and stormdog
Team Bi-Bitches: lisagems and wooisme
Team Yuk: Linnaeus and mirkowuff
Torgo’s Angels: tincrash and Max
Minoriteam: steviemaxwell and sylverfox
Team Jonathan Hitler’s Magic Aston Martin with the Vin Diesel Hubcaps (see, this is what happens when the poet name the team): daveqat and mstegosaurus
Team Simbius: siriuswolfstar and simbalion

Teams were instructed to gather in the hotel conference room at 10 AM, which we almost accomplished (HA!). Once there, they were informed that they would be taking a quiz to determine the starting order. Teams had 15 minutes to complete the quiz, which would be graded on both the number of correct answers and how fast they were turned in. What we didn’t tell them was that the team that scored highest left last, and the team that scored lowest left first. Ostensibly this was to even out the field a bit, but in hindsight it just meant that the teams tended to bunch up a bit more. That didn’t turn out to be a problem, as you will see. So, how hard was the trivia quiz? Click below to find out…


Wuffmeet 3 is done!

The weekend is done and we are pleased to report that Wuffmeet 3 was a success! Thanks so much to the wonderful folks who showed up to make the weekend so much fun: artemisfur, crim_ferret, werellama, datahawk, daveqat, dancingninny, genet, foxish, linnaeus, lisagems, Max, mirkowuff, mistletoe, wooisme, mstegosaurus, neowolf2, posicat, roho, simbalion, siriuswolfstar, steviemaxwell, stormdog, jimcyl, tincrash, tremaine, unclevlad, vidarwolf, and wyldekyttin. Many beverages were consumed, much food was eaten, and I laughed more than I have in quite a while!

Things kicked off Friday with some tasty food for dinner: beef stew, chicken white chili, and kielbasa, kraut, and potatoes. Judging from the alacrity with which the food disappeared, I gather it was of acceptable quality (or everyone was really hungry). As requested, I’ll post the recipe for the white chili here in the next few days. Saturday was FRAC (Furries Race Across Chicago), followed by a pizza feast and socializing into the wee hours. Sunday was a late start for some reason (gee, where’s all those empty bottles come from?) 🙂 We took a sizable crowd over to Emmett’s Tavern, where we had a delicious lunch and enjoyed a sampling of their beers. Later, we sent out for various cuisines for dinner, which were all distinguished by being pretty much awful. And this morning, once we got everyone rousted up and checked out of their rooms, we grabbed a late brunch at Apple Villa, which turned out to be an excellent alternative to the dreadful IHOP which was next to the hotel. From there, everyone scattered to the winds, to head home and crash.

Planning this event was a world of fun, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I was pretty stressed on Friday hoping that everything would work out right and that takaza and I had budgeted properly, but I should have trusted my wonderful wolf – everything worked well, with the exception that we came up a few cans short of diet sodas on Sunday. Dan and I came up with a good approach this year: I took the early shift and he took the late shift. That meant that I was up early to make sure that everyone had their coffee, kringles, and oatmeal, and Dan stayed up late to clean up and lock up when everyone went to bed. The downside of this is that he got to bed at 5:30 AM this morning; needless to say, he’s taking a nap as I write this. We hope that everyone enjoyed themselves, and we look forward to the next Wuffmeet!

And what about FRAC, you say? How did it go, and who won this time? You’ll have to wait for that! I’ll be putting up some lengthy posts tomorrow detailing the clues, the hints, the answers, and the winners (with pictures!). But for now…time to collapse and relax.

Stress, and a meme

I can be an annoying ball of stress sometimes, and over the least important stuff. I’m trying to get better, but in a lot of ways that’s just how I am, and about the only way that’d ever change is through medication – but that’s a bit more extreme than is necessary, I think. This is why as things approach that I enjoy doing (Wuffmeet, Anthrocon, MFF), I become more and more irritable and worried. The good news is that once things get going, I’m fine, everyone has a good time, and I’m able to enjoy myself. But the few days leading up to the event…yeah. Which is a long way of saying, if I seem snappish to anyone over the next few weeks, I apologize in advance.

My FRAC stuff is done; takaza has a few more things to take care of and we can start assembling everything. In the meantime I can worry about the food I’m cooking for Friday; I’ve got a white chili recipe that I’ve synthesized out of a number of recipes I’ve found on the net (I can post the recipe if people are interested); I’ll be making that tomorrow night. I’ll also be making a nice big pot of Kielbasa and sauerkraut with boiled potatoes – it’s easy and tasty. I will admit that it never occurred to me to rinse the sauerkraut before using it, but it’s probably a good thing to do to cut the acidity a bit. Tonight, though, after a quick visit to The Spice House on the way home, Dan and I are off to see the White Sox play Oakland in some kind of baseball thingy.

Oh yeah, woodychitwn, tagged with a meme. You bastard! I’m supposed to name 6 weird facts/things/habits about myself.

  1. I have broken each arm twice, and have had reconstructive ankle surgery on my right ankle.
  2. When I was 12 or 13, when we lived in Southbury, CT, we had a house fire. Mostly it was just smoke damage, but it was scary. The one thing I remember the most was the rotten neighborhood kids making fun of us because our house was on fire. How broken do you have to be to sink that low?
  3. I have been in four car accidents, three of which occurred while I was driving. The first was when I was 10 or 11 and our family car was broadsided (no injuries). The second was when I was 17 and I took a curve too fast with sand on the road – I spun out and wound up in a ditch. No injuries there, either, though I didn’t do the car much good. The last two were fender-benders in Chicago in 2004 and a few months ago.
  4. I won the Latin Award when I graduated high school, for having the highest grades in Latin in my graduating class. You may think it’s geeky, but that gave me a basis for vocabulary so I can somewhat understand written Spanish and French (curiously, Italian eludes me completely).
  5. I was seneschal (regional president) of the Barony of Black Diamond (Southwestern Virginia group) in the Society for Creative Anachronism for a little over a year. I was in the SCA for seven years total, and made many dear and wonderful friends there. I also learned that fen are fen, and you can change fandoms but you’ll still meet the same people 🙂
  6. I have maintained the same set of web pages (with slightly varying and updating content) online for the last 11 years. My coming out page attracts the most hits, and I still get nice e-mails at random from readers.

Now I’m supposed to tag some people to do this meme. I tag perro‘s mom 😉 (oh, and anyone else who just feels like doing it)

Busy weekend, but busier week ahead!

That was a very satisfying weekend. On Friday I took takaza to work (it means I don’t get in until 7 AM, when I usually get here at 6:45 – no loss). This meant that when I got out from work, I was able to spend a lovely half-hour alternately reading and dozing in the sun while waiting for him to finish work. We walked around to Randhurst Mall (which is very, very sad) before meeting up with linnaeus and Dan’s cow-orker nymphara to see Over the Hedge. The verdict from me: Not great, but it had some very funny moments. Bruce Willis played Bruce Willis, which bores me. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as the porcupines cracked me the hell up and really made the movie (OK, Steve Carrell’s Sammy was good too).

On Saturday I was up and motivated on the early side, so I walked the two miles or so over to where wooisme was participating in a garage sale. I had a pleasant time chatting, and Paul joined us not long after. Paul and I ducked out at around 11:30 and in the interest of time caught a bus back to our place. Dan was feeling under the weather, so he opted to stay in while I picked up mirkowuff from O’Hare and we headed out to LAFF softball. Thanks so much to woodychitwn for providing the comfy viewing arrangements! That was perfect way to chat with friends, enjoy the beautiful weather, and be completely and utterly lazy 🙂 After the game we had ambitious plans to go out to dinner at a nice place in Andersonville and see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Unfortunately, we were all tired and that devolved into dinner from the taquiera around the corner, some family Guy from the TiVo and an early bedtime.

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday and couldn’t get back to sleep. Curse being a morning person! On the bright side, this allowed me to go out and enjoy the crisp, breezy morning. I drove over to the Broadway location of Intelligentsia and picked up a couple of pounds of beans for this week and Wuffmeet, then took my (free!) cup of coffee over to the lakeshore at Foster Beach and spent some time watching the lake and admiring the skyline. Truly, a wonderful way to start the day! We had a nice morning of coffee, newspaper, and a bit of video games before Mirko, Paul, and I headed out to the MFF staff meeting (Dan was still feeling pretty oogy, unfortunately. He’s doing much better now!). The meeting was quite useful, and we accomplished quite a bit. Afterwards, the dinner at Portillo’s was enjoyable as well. I picked up some dinner for Dan on the way home and we had a quiet evening in, though we stayed up a bit later than I would have liked nailing down more FRAC stuff.

And so this week: it’s going to be pretty crazy. We have a lot of prep for Wuffmeet to do, I need to run a good number of errands, and on top of that I’ll be going with Dan, Woody, and perro to see a White Sox game tomorrow night. Oh, and I need to cook two full meals for Friday night, too. Whee!

How did midweek suddenly get this busy?

So, as predicted, we did spend a delightful evening at roho and genet‘s in the company of ottr and riecka. Charcoal Grill in Kenosha provided tasty burgers and so-so drinks (note to self: next time stick to the mai tais – the Long Islands there suck), then back to R&G’s where Diesel proceeded to clean our clocks at Texas hold ’em. It was a lot of fun, and many thanks to R&G for putting us up for the night!

Tuesday was going to be a quiet evening at home, but a call from a friend who had locked their keys in their car prompted a pre-emption of dinner plans and a trip out to the burbs. Dinner became Potbelly Sandwiches, which I must admit I’m starting to like. Unfortunately, I was reminded of the perils of raw onions too soon before bedtime as I had one of the worst attacks of reflux that I’ve had in quite a while that night, after midnight. I stayed up for almost an hour waiting for things to settle down, and still have a nasty “scorched” throat to show for it. We really need to make an attempt to eat earlier, I think, and I need to watch what I eat a bit more closely.

Last night I was feeling terrible when I got home from work – a pounding headache just this side of a migraine. I forewent the gym and instead lay down for an hour or so, though even with ibuprofen the headache wouldn’t go away. Dan came home and, after seeing the state I was in, grabbed some massage oil and administered a heavenly neck and shoulder massage that drove the headache away. I’m so fortunate to have a husband as wonderful as him! Not long after, we were graced by the presence of datahawk, who crashed with us for the night so we could watch the finale of The Amazing Race. The hippies won, yay! It was a great ending to a so-so season; I’m just glad that they renewed it for next year, though I’m not sure how I feel about a Sunday time slot for the show. On the other hand, it’ll be right after 60 Minutes, which is a hell of a lead-in. We stayed up a bit too late hammering out some details on FRAC, and I’m pleased to say we now have a good two-thirds of the clues done and ready to go. And just so I can get my reality double-doe, I see that the Top Chef finale (Part 1) recorded last night. That’ll be some good Tivo fodder for tonight.

And so today I need to make a quick stop by the grocery store on the way home, then it’ll be back to the gym after too many days away.

Hmm…we need to make some plans for the weekend. Stay tuned for a post about that…

FRAC Update!

Wuffmeet and FRAC are fast approaching! Today, we need to talk about FRAC. Right now, we have the following participants signed up for FRAC:

That’s great! Except for one slight problem: eleven is an odd number. We need one more person! (or three more people – what the heck 🙂 If you are reading this and are thinking about participating, or know someone who would make a good addition to Wuffmeet, we need to know immediately! It’s only $12.50 to participate, and we guarantee a fun and exciting afternoon.

As for teams, right now I know that DaveQat and Syn, and Sirius and Simba are teaming up – the rest of you, I’m not sure. Talk amongst yourselves, and figure out who’s one whose team, then tell us your team name. We need teams and team names NO LATER THAN SUNDAY!

And now, the rules. These are only slightly changed from FRAC 1, but it’s worth re-reading them:
Click here for FRAC Rules

I Need a Weekend to Recover From My Weekend

Weekend. Right. Yeah, we had one of those, I think.

On Friday, I picked takaza up at work and we braved the insane Friday traffic to drive down to visit a friend who was in the hospital (good news, though – he was discharged the following day). We were pretty tired afterwards, so we grabbed dinner from Charcoal Delight and I crashed on the early side.

Saturday found me up and awake at 8 AM, as per usual, but that left me time to read the paper and have my coffee. I woke Dan up and we headed out the door to spend the day nailing down a route for FRAC. I’m happy to say that after a few false starts and some disagreements on where to go when, I think we’ve got a good course for the race in hand. We still need to work out several elements, but hey, we’ve got twelve days to go, right? After all that traipsing around, we met siriuswolfstar and simbalion for dinner at The Grafton, a place I had visited before with Linnaeus. I regret to report that the place has not improved on my initial dismal opinion of it, and we won’t be returning. The food was uninspiring at best, and the service was quite poor. Ah we.. We capped the night off with a nice chat back at our place, then I stumbled off to bed, though Dan stayed up quite a bit later.

On Mother’s Day we drove up to Dan’s mom’s place in McHenry County. On the way there we stopped by our storage unit to visit our stuff (“Hi! Did you miss us?”) and we dug out our 32″ television. After our last visit to his mom’s I had noticed that her TV was in terrible shape, and ours has just been sitting in storage for the last year and a half. Plus, I suspect that when we do get our own place we’ll be in the market for something a bit bigger and shinier (curse you, feren! Curse you and your 52″ flat-panel HDTV!). After we dropped off the TV, We headed over to Woodstock to the Tip Top Bistro for their Mother’s Day brunch. It’s a pleasant little place, and the staff there were friendly and helpful (which must have been tough on a crazy day like Mother’s Day!). They had a nice brunch buffet with a tasty Waldorf salad, seafood paella, fettuccine puttanesca, leg of lamb, eggs benedict, and bananas French toast. The complimentary champagne (well, prosecco, technically) with free refills was nice too 🙂 After brunch we returned to Dan’s mom’s house where Dan spent the next hour rearranging her A/V equipment, making sure the VCR(s), Tivo, and TVs all were connected properly. I…well, I fell asleep on the sofa 🙂 Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I think. We headed home and made a stop by the corner taquiera for a light dinner. We stayed up too late to catch the Survivor finale (Bleah. I’m skipping next season, and this time I mean it!) and then I went off to bed, though again Dan stayed up too late (silly wolf!).

So tonight we’re going to be hanging out in Antioch, spending time with roho and genet and the visiting ottr and his wife, riecka. I foresee a wee bit of alcohol, some tasty food, and me getting the bejesus beaten out of me at poker…

Ring Closure

Well, I’ve got some good news to report on the wedding band front. I took takaza‘s ring by the store after work yesterday and we agreed that, yes, it was indeed different from the ring that they had sent. Amanda (who, by the way has been fabulously helpful) checked against their catalog and we found the problem: someone had fumble-fingered the model number when typing in the order. She called the manufacturer and they said they had the correct ring in my size in stock, so they’re priority shipping it; it should be at the store by Wednesday, and Amanda wills end it out the same day for engraving. With luck, it’ll be in my hands by Thursday or Friday at the latest. Yay!

Oh, and in reference to my last entry, my mom asked what’s so great about a Thermapen? Well, it’s a very nice, very accurate instant-read thermometer with a nice big digital readout. What I like is that the hinge gives you a good angle to stick the thermocouple into roasts, chicken, etc. Theoretically, it’s very durable as well, but obviously they need a bit of work there. I’m pretty confident they can resolve the issue quickly, though.

Hmm. Need to make a grocery list and plan out the menu for the week. We’ve been eating out a lot, which gets a bit pricey sometimes…

Tales of Consumer Woe

Well, not all woe: there’s some good, and some bad.

Let’s start with the good: Back in March, I mentioned that my coffee pot had died. Special thanks to kwikdog for pointing out that the warranty was still applicable! I sent it off and, after about a month, I got it back, with a new pot (which contains a lot of the electronics). Total cost: shipping to the repair shop. That’s it. Yay!

Not long after that, I noticed that my wedding ring was cracked. Now, it just so happens that the place where we bought our rings only has one location in all of Illinois – and it’s on the way home from work for me. Perfect! I dropped off my ring and received a slip and a promise that it would be repaired and back to me in 8-10 days. Well, it’s been over a month now, and the ring came back from the manufacturer last week. The local store had to have the engraving done themselves, so it wasn’t ready until Saturday. yesterday Dan and I went to pick it up and…it’s not the same ring. Yes, it’s a ring of yellow gold with a white gold band around it, but it’s a different design, a much heavier weight, the difference between the white and yellow golds is barely discernable, and honestly it’s not a design that we would have chosen. So now we need to figure out with the store what we’re going to do; the object was to have two rings that matched – that’s kind of the point of the rings. I’m going to meet with the store manager this afternoon and see what’s to be done, but I am not happy. To her credit, she’s been very helpful and pleasant up until now, and the whole transaction has been free. We’ll see how it goes today.

Oh, and a new tale to add to the stack: My Thermapen has died, after only five months of use. Yeah, that ain’t gonna work. I bought a new battery to see if that was all that was necessary, but that isn’t it. I’ll be contacting the manufacturer this week.

Mascots and Psychonauts!

I was feeling a bit blah after work on Friday – nothing serious, just a series of reminders of why life sucks when you’re a contractor. I found that a good workout at the gym helped – yay for endorphins! It didn’t hurt that it was a lovely day out so the walk back was quite pleasant. Takaza saw that I was restless and we went out to do a little shopping, with a stop by EBGames (fruitless, but for some reason the store at Lincoln Village always sucks) and Target. We grabbed dinner at Hub’s on Dempster in Skokie, which was pronounced to be undistinguished.

I got an early start on Saturday and went down to the EBGames on Elston, where I found what I was looking for: Psychonauts, allegedly the best platform game from 2005, and a very fun and playable game. It happened that that was right near the Edward Don Outlet (a restaurant supply store) that I had heard was closing. I stopped by and was impressed by two things: first, all the cool merchandise marked down by 70%, and second, the HUGE line waiting to check out – like a good 20-30 minute wait. I looked all through the store but I didn’t see anything that I HAD to have; I saw some nice stuff at great prices, but the kitchen is crammed full now, and I couldn’t see anything that would merit the major project of making space for it. More’s the pity. Quasiskunk, I did think of the stuff you might need for Con Suite this year, but I knew you were off in the boonies for the weekend, so…oh well. I passed the afternoon playing Psychonauts (it’s one of those games where you sit down to play and suddenly it’s three hours later!) then it was time to go.

A friend of our had given us complimentary tickets to the final home game of the season for the Chicago Rush arena football team. We took the CTA out to the Allstate Arena and got in just before the game started. It was a good game, once I got used to the arena football rules, and Chicago kicked the butt of the Utah Blaze. The highlight of the game was actually halftime, when they had a game of “mascot football” – yes, sixteen mascots from all around the Chicago area turned out, including Staley the Bear (who gets points for being the most willing to take a hard fall), Benny the Bull (definitely the most personality), Skates (the home-arena favorite), Tommy Hawk (from the Blackhawks), Sparky (from the Chicago Fire), plus mascots from Loyola, Northwestern, and several other schools and companies. The highlights were Benny laying out “celebrity quarterback” Mike Adamle, and a bee mascot putting a shoulder in the gut of the Rush’s mascot Grabowski (yeesh, what a costume). He needed a sec outside the huddle to catch his breath. The “game” was a disorganized wreck, of course, but extremely entertaining from the stands. We took off in the middle of the third quarter with the Rush up something like 76 to 24 and found ourselves with no way back to the CTA. We opted to walk to the ATS at O’Hare and take that in to the CTA station at the airport, getting home at around 11 PM. Datahawk and Linnaeus were watching Rent when we got home, but we were too tired to watch, so we headed off to bed.

On Sunday I puttered around a bit while Data slept through me grinding coffee, the dishwasher running, and the cat meowing. I only wish I could sleep that soundly. Dan and I drove up to check on my wedding band (more about that in my next post) and sat down at a nearby Potbelly Sandwiches to make use of the free wi-fi and try to hammer out the final details of FRAC. Unfortunately, what we determined was that, while we had a set course, neither of us was happy with it. We kicked around ideas on the way home and I think we have some solid plans on how things are going to go, but we’re going to need to do some research this Saturday. We got home and had a quiet evening of video games and laptops.

Not a lot of plans for the week, though we’re going to have dinner with partran tonight. I’m sure stuff will come up, as it always does 🙂

Medical fun and dinners with friends

Good news! I have too much blood in my cholesterol system. Or rather, I don’t have too much cholesterol in my blood system. Well, I do, but it’s not something I need to take meds for – I’m classified as “high borderline” on most counts, but compared to last year the numbers are declining, so all my work at the gym has paid off. My weight hasn’t really changed much, unfortunately; this means that in the diet-exercise balance, I need to work on improving my diet. The even better news is that everything else checked out, and I’m pretty healthy otherwise.

This week has gone by pretty quickly. Tuesday we helped woodychitwn pick up some shelving for his about-to-open comics store (they do mail-order, too!), and had a tasty dinner at Heartland Cafe. Last night siriuswolfstar and simbalion joined us for dinner, and tonight we’re going to have dinner with daveqat and jimcyl. I reckon we’ll have to have dinner with perro and prfanity at some point just to complete the apartment trifecta 🙂 Tonight should be fun, though – we’re going to check out Tweet, which gets good reviews from The Reader.

Planning continues apace for Wuffmeet. To those of you who are attending and have not yet made your hotel reservations: DO IT NOW! We’re being asked to give up some space because it appears (to them) that we don’t have many people in our room block. The sooner you reserve, the more bargaining leverage we’ll have. If you need the info again, just let me know.

Back to work now!

What We Did On Our Weekend Vacation

As promised, takaza and I retreated to the Hoffman Estates La Quinta on Friday after work for a weekend of relaxation and planning. Once we had a chance to decompress a bit we took to the car and went in search of dinner. Our wanderings took us to Woodfield Mall, and while we briefly considered trying out the new meat faucet there, we instead opted to cheap it out and resorted to the food court instead. After that it was back to the hotel to relax and sleep, eventually.

We were up relatively early on Saturday. The plan was to research the FRAC route, though we were racing the weather to do it since the forecast predicted incoming steady rain starting that afternoon. We had a couple of funny things happen that I can’t really talk about since people who will be participating in FRAC will be reading this 🙂 Maybe later. Anyway, the rain started to pick up at about 2 PM so we called off the scouting (we got about 75% of the work done, I’d say) and instead went in search of what is alleged to be the best hot chocolate in Chicago. We tried it, and we’d have to agree – extremely tasty!

Since the rest of the day was shot for FRAC research, we gave siriuswolfstar to see what he and simbalion were up to. It turns out they were just a few blocks north of us, so we met up at North Bridge Mall and amused ourselves with a bit of window shopping (and taking some amusing pictures in the process). We wound up grabbing a table and just chatting for a good hour or more, which was a nice break after all the walking we had done all day. After we parted ways, we headed back to the hotel. We weren’t feeling hungry until late, plus we were too lazy to actually drive anywhere, so we ordered pizza and pasta for a local joint. We have a winner for Wuffmeet, I think. The tortellini alfredo that I had was enough for three people, and I think it would nicely supplement any pizza we order.

On Sunday I snuck out early in the driving rain and spent some time at a nearby Panera having breakfast and reading the paper. Around 11:30 I went back to the hotel to find that Dan had just woken up. We got packed up and checked out and talked to the front desk folks to make sure that everything was in order for Wuffmeet. We then went made a Sam’s Club run to check prices for Wuffmeet budgeting, then a stop at American Science and Surplus to see if there were any useful knickknacks that might come in handy at our upcoming conventions. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing at home and catching up on Tivo.

Not too exciting for a weekend away from home, but that’s just fine by me!