Monthly Archives: August 2006

Quiet Weekends Are Great When Busy Ones Are Around The Corner

Well, that was what passes for a low-key weekend for us, even if I did drag takaza out of the house a couple of times during the weekend.

I picked up Dan after work on Friday, which unfortunately ran quite late – it was about 6 PM by the time he left (I had dropped him off there at 6:30 AM that morning). It was cool, though – I was able to relax in the car and catch up on some of my neglected podcasts, and he was able to tend to some last-minute end-of-the-month accounting issues. We stopped by the post office and an interesting little food shop in Mount Prospect, then wandered around a bit trying to figure out what to do for dinner. We finally settled on Chipotle (arr num num!) then retiring back home for the evening.

Saturday, Dan slept late and it was one of those “oh, it’s 3 PM, I guess we should take a shower” kind of days. I played too much Ratchet and Clank:Up Your Arsenal (re-played, really – I finished the game last year, but it’s good enough that the replay value is excellent), then we decided to wander out in search of dinner. We wound up down at Wishbone, which was average, though the service was underwhelming. Dan’s peppercorn steak was kind of fatty, and the flavor of my grilled skirt steak was overwhelmed by the tarragon butter (!). We had a nice long walk afterwards which I enjoyed, even though the evening was a bit muggy.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of the day before, but we motivated out of the house a bit earlier. We stopped by Best Buy and CompUSA to investigate digital SLR cameras (anyone have one we could borrow for a few days?) but their selections were lousy and just seemed far too expensive. We then went to Jewel and Lincolnwood Produce to stock up on groceries for the week. Last night, Dan made some very tasty homemade strombolis (mine with sausage and onions, and the leftovers are in the office fridge for my lunch!), and I put some chicken breasts in to soak in buttermilk for 24 hours for tonight’s crispy fried chicken a la St. Alton. For Tuesday night we have some interesting turducken sausages that Linnaeus picked up at Delicatessen Meyer, and then we’ll have a tasty fettuccine carbonara on Wednesday.

Not a whole lot on tap for the week, though word has it I might need to stick around a little late on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to help out with an inspection by the Brazilian version of the FDA. No problem for me – overtime is always good, particularly when I have a six-day vacation on the horizon!

Your Weekend Recap {tm}

…only a day late.

So Friday afternoon I picked up takaza from work; because it was a Friday afternoon and it was raining slightly, traffic was of course a complete wreck. We opted to take our time heading back into the city, stopping by the Mount Prospect post office and checking out a cute little ice cream parlor nearby. The rest of the evening was a quiet affair, watching some Tivo and laptop-geeking.

On Saturday, mirkowuff came by, and we debated whether or not we would try to attend Irishfest. While it no doubt would have been fun, there was no one on the schedule who I just had to see, plus I wasn’t looking forward to the three-hour round trip. In the end, we bagged Irishfest and instead had lunch at Juicy-O’s (again) with crim_ferret, wyldekyttin, and Linnaeus. The place was as fabulous as it had been the week before, and I again ate way too much. Oog. The chicken and mushroom skillet was quite tasty, though.

After lunch Mirko and I headed over to LAFF Softball, where we wound up just hanging out and chatting with folks. Quite fun. And because we hadn’t had enough punishment, we went to LAFF Bowling, though I mainly just hung out with some friends and chatted (and enjoyed some Tasty Beverages). It’s not quite how I had envisioned spending the day but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I had fun chatting with ramalion, quasiskunk, rcfoot, bullethc, perro and darkwolph.

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest Board Meeting, followed by the staff meeting. Useful meetings, and we got a good bit of stuff taken care of. Afterwards Dan and I had lunch with roho and genet, making plans for their upcoming wedding, where Dan will be acting as their photographer and I will be providing the music. When we got home, Dan laid down for a nap that became a very long night’s sleep instead; I noodled on my laptop and got some con-related stuff taken care of then it was off to bed.

Yesterday? Eh. Work. Last night we did watch the season finale of Treasure Hunters, the bastard child of Amazing Race and National Treasure, with some Survivor thrown in. All in all, the show was just dreadful, and we watched more out of obligation than anything else, since we had watched it up until then. The idea that the final three teams ended up in a small room that looked like an Egyptian tomb, but was actually in an abandoned factory on Baltimore Harbor was perfectly ludicrous, and the key to the final puzzle was…underwhelming. This is the kind of show where they don’t hint at any production interference, yet it’s patently obvious in places and leaves you deeply suspicious of the whole thing. The “reunion” segments were poorly paced, and their milquetoast of a host (who finally stopped [literally] phoning in his performance) had no control over the contestants; it was quite entertaining to watch him try to maintain order as everyone ignored him completely. Yeah, I suspect this show won’t be back, and if it is I recommend that everyone avoid it. But here’s something to look forward to: The Amazing Race 10 starts September 17! Yay!

And now, back to work…

In cerevisia veritas

Last night was quite enjoyable. Since perro and darkwolph were off playing with Chaos, it wound up just being me, linnaeus, siriuswolfstar, and simbalion at The Hopleaf. That’s OK, though – good beer and good conversation ensued. I am now a fan of Brother Thelonius! After we wrapped up I walked down to the Lawrence bus and hit a taqueria a few blocks from our place (not our usual one) to try them out. The verdict? The carne asada was only so-so, but their horchata was better than what I’m used to.

Planning for our Maine trip continues apace. We’re looking into various vacation rental places since splitting a place with a group of people will be far cheaper than the rather high hotel rates for the area (Motel 6 notwithstanding 🙂 I’ve learned all about how to read vacation rental ads, too:
“Sleeps 6-8” = “Sleeps four comfortably, or 6-8 stacked in layers”
“Near ocean” = “Within 20 miles of the ocean”
“Quaint” = “Dilapidated”
“Cozy” = “200 square foot house”
Also, apparently summer lasts a lot longer in Maine, because Summer Rates appear to extend into October, typically. Yowza. Ah well – we’ve got some good prospects, and hopefully we can figure out how to keep things affordable.

And then there’s tonight. As I mentioned earlier, we’ll be having dinner at Potbelly’s on Southport, then going across the street to hang out at Bobtail and enjoy their tasty ice cream and coffee. Everyone is welcome, but if you want for us to save you a seat, let me know here or by e-mail!

Lovely weekend!

Well, that was a really enjoyable weekend, for all that we didn’t really have much plans initially.

We were just thinking about putting together some kind of dinner on Friday when I got a call from jimcyl asking if we’d be interested in coming over to their place for burgers and poker. Well, heck yeah! takaza and I CTA’ed it over there and enjoyed a great evening of wine, poker, wine, burgers, good conversation, and wine. I’m a complete novice at Texas Hold ‘Em but I acquitted myself quiet well, mainly due to Jim’s going all in on his three queens against my four tens in the first hand. Yeah, that was ugly 🙂

On Saturday Dan and I had a nice, lazy morning then eventually got motivated enough to head out to Hot Doug’s for a late lunch. The selection of gourmet “encased meats” is always fabulous, but I chose the cognac-infused smoked pheasant sausage with truffle sauce moutarde and foie gras “butter” (the latter a nice tweak at the Chicago City Council). I also opted for the duck fat fries of course. It was a delicious meal, but it always is at Hot Doug’s. (Oh, a side note: I came across a cool bookmarklet that lets you tag pictures on Flickr with a link to where they were taken. It’s geeky, but cool!)

After lunch we met up with siriuswolfstar and simbalion and wandered around Boystown for a while. We didn’t have any real destination in mind, we were just enjoying the marvelously cool evening and window shopping. After a while, Dan began to feel a bit ill, so linnaeus was kind enough to drive down to meet us and let Dan take the car back while Linnaeus walked a bit more with us. We found a great (and oh-so-gay) pet shop, where I got to spend time with a very laid-back and amiable black lab and the cutest tortoiseshell kitten, who was having a ball playing with all the cat toys on the counter by the cash register. We walked a bit more down to Reckless Records, which is always a neat place to browse, and then stopped by Intelligentsia Coffee and just sat around and chatted some more. We headed home after that, but it was a really great way to spend the evening.

On Sunday we drove out to meet with wyldekyttin, crim_ferret, and foxish; Crim is thinking about a new car and wanted to test drive my Element to see how he liked it. We took this as a great excuse to grab brunch with friends! We went over to Juicy-O, the restaurant opened recently by Heaven on Seven owner Jimmy Banos. I was hoping for an experience as good as Ho7 and I wasn’t disappointed – the complimentary homemade doughnuts were delicious, and my strip steak skillet was to die for. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the place, and I’m confident we’ll be going back soon. Afterwards we chatted over at Crim and Kyttin’s place as we suffered through our food comas. Eventually, though, Dan and I headed back home and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching some TV.

This coming week looks to be a bit busy. Tomorrow we’ll be hitting The Hopleaf with friends, then on Wednesday it’s the August Coffee Night at Bobtail, which I’m sure will be a lot of fun. This coming weekend is the Milwaukee Irishfest, and then on Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Busy busy busy!

August Coffee Night!

We had so much fun last month, let’s do it again!

What: Coffee (And Ice Cream) Night!
When: 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM, Wednesday, August 16 (this coming Wednesday)
Where: Bobtail Soda Fountain, 3425 N. Southport, Chicago, IL
That’s a half-block north of the Brown Line Southport station, and the El is by far the easiest way to get there. Street parking is available, though you may have to hunt a bit (the Cubs are on the road that night). Bobtail has very tasty (Intelligentsia) coffee, and excellent ice cream as well. They don’t serve much in the way of non-dessert food, but there is a Potbelly Sandwich Works right across the street. takaza and I will probably hit Potbelly at around 7 PM for a quick dinner if anyone wants to join us there. If you’d like us to save you a seat, just let me know, here or by e-mail!

Fun with AOL search data

For anyone who missed it, a few days ago AOL released (then un-released) search data for over 500,000 of their users. The data is theoretically anonymized by assigning a numerical ID to each user, though it has been proven that that isn’t particularly effective. Now, Boingboing has pointed to a server that has transformed the data into a user-searchable database.

The data provides an interesting, sometimes scary look into people’s lives (as Boingboing reported, user 2708 wasn’t going to take a bad breakup sitting down). I did a little data mining of my own and found some interesting results…
Fun with keywords!

Run Silent, Run Deep

Man, you know it’s getting time to post in your journal when your mom complains about she hasn’t read anything new there lately 😉

Well, on Saturday we started out by taking takaza‘s mom to lunch for her birthday. I understand that she’s just happy to spend time with us, but I admit that I’m used to making a bit more of a to-do over such things; she was just fine with us going to Steak and Shake, which she’d never been to before. Dan and I grew up with very different family dynamics. Neither is better or worse than the other, but sometimes it can be a bit weird. We had fun, though, and it was a pleasant lunch. Afterwards we went to roho and genet‘s place and had a fun evening with them and datahawk, feren, lady_curmudgeon, and linnaeus. A surprisingly small amount of alcohol was consumed, and we all were feeling pretty tired before midnight even rolled around. Ah well.

Sunday began with the traditional trip to Las Vegas Restaurant, where I had their always-fabulous Las Vegas skillet. From there we headed back into the city and lazed around the house for a while. For dinner, Dan and I tried to come up with something new and different to do with the large amount of fresh corn that we purchased. Dan cut the kernels off the cobs, then I sautéed up some garlic and added the corn to the pan. A little salt, a little pepper, some paprika, and…bleah. It’s not often that our culinary experiments go awry, but this one was to neither of our liking; the sweetness of the corn was a weird match for the garlic, and while the paprika started to bridge the gap, it just wasn’t enough.

Monday and Tuesday were unremarkable, except that the weather cooled down enough to make going outside actually a pleasant prospect. I took the bus down to Lincoln Square and spent about an hour and a half outside of The Grind reading The Reader and enjoying a tasty blueberry smoothie. the weather was nice enough (low 70’s and low humidity) that I decided to walk back. My stroll took me past Kempf Plaza where tango tunes from the 40’s and 50’s were being played on a tinny speaker while older couples danced around the plaza (please pardon my lousy cameraphone quality). I had to stop for a while and enjoy the music and the spectacle – it was a magical thing on a cool summer evening. The rest of the walk home, the music played in my head and provided a moody background to the quiet neighborhoods.

When I called Dan after work on Wednesday he mentioned that parking was going to be limited on the street in front of Linnaeus‘s place for the next four days while they re-pave, so we decided that it would be better for him to just leave his car at work and we can car-pool for a few days. After I picked him up, we drove over to the Renaissance Schaumburg and Convention Center to check them out. They just opened the place six weeks ago, and they’re still a bit rough around the edges (missing signage, lights missing on the elevators, wallpaper edges still showing a bit). Once they get everything ironed out, though, the place is going to be nothing short of amazing. And huge, too! I’ll be curious to compare that against the still-under-construction Westin Lombard Yorktown Center once that is complete. (No one should read this as an indication that MFF is moving anywhere, but it’s always good to know all of the available venues in the area.)

And so, tonight. Linnaeus is hosting a Happy Hour at The Red Lion, and I hope to make it to that. Hope to see some of y’all there!

Morning Excitement

takaza and I made our usual 5:45 AM departure from the city this morning in the middle of a driving rain storm. It wasn’t too bad – all the nasty wind and lightning stayed off to the south – but it was enough to make the drive a little slower and annoying. After I dropped Dan off and got in to work myself, I got a call from him: he had dropped his phone somewhere. As near as we can guess, he probably dropped it while trying to navigate the large puddles outside of our place, and someone picked it up off the street (thanks so much to linnaeus for actually turning around and returning home in the middle of his morning commute to search for the phone there!).

The insurance that we’ve been paying on since we started subscribing to Sprint is, of course, all but useless: $50 deductible, get a refurbished phone. Bleah. So now we’re at a transition point: Come October I get a $150 credit for a new phone, and I’ve got my eye on the Treo 700w, which should be available from Sprint by then. Or, we could jump to Verizon and pick up the Motorola Q, which is mighty purty and shiny, but at a cost of breaking our contract with Sprint (ka-ching!), or paying it through October but just not using it, which would actually be cheaper. We’re going to visit the Sprint and Verizon stores after work today and see what options are available to us. In the interim, if you want to reach Dan, the best thing to do is call me and I’ll pass you along.

On a happier note, the lovely and talented genet surprised me with a wonderful gift last night:
It’s Duncan! And he’s ky00t!

Quiet week, and planning ahead

Just some random bits of goings-on this week…

takaza‘s glasses broke (the bridge snapped at one of the lenses) on Friday morning, which is a bit problematic. He made many calls all over and the bottom line is that, with the eye care insurance we have, you get a choice of about 20 frames and it takes no less than a week to get new glasses. One-hour places? Sure, if you want to do it on your own dime. Now, it’s worth noting that if you’re OK with these limitations, you can get a new pair of glasses for about $30-40. Dan opted for anti-glare coating as well, so his will be $60, and they come in (hopefully) on Friday. This tells me that it would probably be a good idea for me to get a new pair of glasses sooner than later, too, since mine are about three years old and pretty scratched up anyway.

In the meantime, since he needs his glasses to drive, we’ve been car-pooling every day. This adds about 20 minutes to my commute each way, which isn’t too bad. There’s also the added benefit of time spent together, which is really pleasant. It’s especially nice on nights like tonight, when we don’t really have any dinner plans. We can get dinner anywhere we want and don’t have to rush home, then head back out (if you live in a city, you understand, I’m sure) if we so desire.

Last night’s dinner was quite tasty: rigatoni with a bacon-tomato sauce, baked under lots of mozzarella. Yum! We’re definitely going to have to make that again. Not sure what we’ll be doing for dinner tomorrow, and it sounds like we’ll be going out with friends on Friday; I predict many brain cells will be killed before that night is over 🙂 The weekend will be spent taking Dan’s mom out to lunch for her birthday, then it’s over to Antioch, with tasty grilling and other fun stuff going on there. I’m thinking about making a dessert involving strawberries for that – we’ll have to see what recipes I can find.

Finally, looking ahead two weeks, I see that Milwaukee Irishfest is already upon us! mirkowuff may be coming up for the fest; anyone else interested in joining in? I intend to go up on Saturday the 19th (yeah, it’s the day of LAFF softball, sorry). With any luck the weather will cool off by then.