Monthly Archives: April 2007

Spring Stampede 2007

Last Saturday, linnaeus, mirkowuff, takaza, and I took part in Spring Stampede 2007, sponsored by the Round Lake Area Park District. This was a race/treasure hunt throughout Lake County. It was a bit pricey at $25 per team member, but it was also a benefit for the MS Society.

As many of you know, Dan and I have some experience with treasure hunts, so we had a special interest in taking part in this – if nothing else, to crib ideas for future events! Our team name for this event: Hungarian Soup Orchestra, in reference to a certain infamous challenge on The Amazing Race. For our team: I was driving, Dan was navigating (and taking pictures), and Mirko and Paul provided clue support and puzzle-solving skills.

The Rules of the Game

A Whirlwind Weekend!

Whoa, that was a crazy weekend. A whole lot of fun, though.

On Friday, takaza was stuck at work until late. When he got home, we elected to grab dinner at Charcoal Delight, finishing up just as we got a call from mirkowuff the he had arrived at our place. We stopped by to pick him up then went up to Garden Fresh to do a bit of shopping for the following morning. The rest of the evening was a whole bunch of laptop geekery and the very amusing season finale of Ace of Cakes (with a bizarre furry reference in the opening minutes).

Saturday morning we were joined by Linnaeus. Following a quick but tasty breakfast of pancakes, we headed up to the Sports Center in Round Lake Beach for the Spring Stampede. That’s a big enough deal that it’s going to get its own entry following this one (with very silly pictures!), but suffice to say that we had a lot of fun. After that wrapped up we met up with roho and genet at Antioch Liquors (of course). After some shopping there, we stopped by Lovin’ Oven Cakery (om nom nom) on the way home, and enjoyed hanging out for a bit and sampling some of the pastries we picked up there. After some chatting, we decided on Dog and Suds for dinner, since the weather was so nice out. The atmosphere was great, the place wasn’t too crowded and the food…well, the food was only mediocre, unfortunately. It’s a shame because it’s a nifty drive-in, but I don’t see us going back any time soon. After dinner we went back to our place and spent the rest of the evening trying out some of our purchases from Antioch Liquors, including Roho’s kek Ke Ke Beach key lime liquor. It tastes just like key lime pie…including the graham cracker crust. To my taste, it was actually more graham than lime. It was deemed to be Not Right and pretty much undrinkable (well by most of us. I think Genet liked it in small quantities!). Sadly, because we’re all old and boring we wrapped things up by 11:30 and Paul, Roho, and Genet headed home.

Sunday morning, Mirko, Roho, Genet, and Dan and I made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas for brunch, which was delicious and remarkably filling, as usual. Mirko had to head out afterwards, so Dan and I went home and napped a bit. That evening, Paul, Roho, Genet, steviemaxwell and magicpaw came over to watch The Amazing Race. It was an OK episode, though the ending was disappointing, leaving us with none of our favorites to cheer for during next week’s season finale. On the bright side, we ordered some delicious pizza, and had French silk pie from Lovin’ Oven for dessert. Everyone had a great time, and I look forward to seeing folks again next week for the finale. I think I’ll have some fun making dinner 🙂

Following a lousy night’s sleep (it was too hot – need to reset the thermostat’s programming!), here I am back at work. Not too much going on this week, except for dinner with partran on Friday night. After such a busy weekend, it’ll be good to relax! Oh and hey – Heroes tonight. Yay!

Linky Linky

Not a lot going on, so here…have some links!

Roger Ebert rocks! I wish I could be at the Overlooked Film Festival this week, but it’s really good to hear that Mr. Ebert will be there.

Coming June 17: Robot Chicken Star Wars Special featuring the voices of George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Conan O’Brien, Seth MacFarlane, Robert Smigel, Malcolm McDowell, Hulk Hogan, James Van Der Beek, Donald Faison, Abraham Benrubi, Breckin Meyer and Joey Fatone.

If you’re a fan of Heroes and aren’t reading the online graphic novels…you really should!

And of course, I Can Has Cheezburger?

Busy Yet Fun Weekend!

Well yesterday was a bit nuts and I didn’t get a chance to write much. Let’s backtrack a bit, shall we?

Saturday was surprisingly busy. I was up stupidly early, as usual (darned early sunrises) but that gave me some time to relax before my follow-up appointment with the podiatrist. It was a blessedly short visit, pretty much just long enough for him to check that my toe was healing well, give me some simple after care instructions, and send me on my way (with no co-pay. yay!). I woke up takaza when I got home and after a bit we went down to The Firkin to meet up with linnaeus, roho, and genet. After a delicious meal and some excellent beer, Paul had to take his leave to return to his evil employer. The rest of us wandered around a bit and picked up some yummies from a local bakery. After that we retired back to Roho and Genet’s place and spent the afternoon chatting on their deck and enjoying the lovely weather. Once we finally rousted ourselves out of the sun-induced torpor, we trekked up to Gander Mountain and shopped around a bit (we got some new folding chairs), then stopped by Jewel on the way home and picked up some munchies. The rest of evening was spent sampling some tasty beer and enjoying several episodes of Venture Bros.

On Sunday, Dan and I finally got around to getting some work done around the house. I took apart the plumbing under the sink to find the cause of the leak I had noticed there; I determined the cause, finally, but I still need to stop at the hardware store to get the parts to fix it. I also finally got around to hooking up the ice maker, a reasonably simple task that cost all of $8 (the cost of the ice maker tubing kit). We now have ice! We also did a good bit of housecleaning, which made me feel a bit better. Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus joined us that evening for dinner, the online MFF staff meeting, and The Amazing Race. Genet made an extremely tasty pot roast, supplemented by Dan’s mashed potatoes and a salad with a quick vinaigrette I threw together. Much fun was had, plus we got to enjoy said bakery yummies from the day before.

And here we are, a new week. Work is keeping me busier than usual, as I noted above; it will be that way for the next few weeks, I think. This weekend, mirkowuff will be joining me, Dan, and Linnaeus for a scavenger hunt hosted by the local park district. I’m really looking forward to that! Meanwhile I hope to get some MFF work done, and I also need to come up with at least one more person for my staff for Anthrocon. Anyone have any suggestions?

Outage Notice

An update on what’s been going on in our lives will be coming later, but for now I wanted to make note of this:

It appears that Puma’s servers are offline right now; preliminary indications from my inexpert testing is loss of DNS. This means that any websites or e-mail lists associated with catbox.com, furfest.org, furry.ca, mifur.us, ohiofur.net or wolfhusky.org (my personal e-mail) are temporarily inaccessible. I haven’t spoken with Puma, but I have every certainty that he’ll have things back up and running as quickly as possible.
Edit @ 10:49 AM CDT: Everything is back online!

In the unlikely event that anyone needs to e-mail me RIGHT NOW, I can always be reached at my username, tabrady, at the mailserver gmail.com (it normally just forwards to my wolfhusky.org address, but I can pick up my mail from there, too).

Weekend Recap Before I Forget Completely

Right. So. the weekend that was.

Takaza had taken a half day off from work so that he could meet up with linnaeus and they could go to see a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Well, sort of at Wrigley Field; they were actually across the street in pretty posh digs. This meant that they were in the city by the end of the afternoon. I was itching to do something, as was nymphara, so we all agreed to meet up in Vernon Hills. We walked around Barnes and Noble and the game store at Hawthorn Mall for a bit, then decided to head north for dinner, eventually winding up at Lovely Thai. I liked my entree a lot more this time, a barbecued-pork-and-vegetable noodle dish, and the company was excellent. Sadly, although we’d talked about playing some games afterwards, by the end of dinner we were all too tired and everyone tottered off home.

I had big plans for Saturday, a nice list of all the things I wanted to get done around the house. Unfortunately, a darned ingrown toenail got in the way. I had to go to a podiatrist in the morning, and he cut away about a quart-inch of nail along the side of my right big toe. It was of course numbed all to heck and didn’t hurt a bit, and only took about three minutes. The bad news is that I had to spend the rest of the day staying off of it and keeping my foot elevated. We watched a lot of TiVo on Saturday 🙂

On Sunday, after a rough night (aided by a bit of Tylenol 3), I gambled a bit on how much I could walk and how far. We went to cheer on invncble at the Blackwolves game against the Madison Thunder – and the Blackwolves won! It was fun to hang out with datahawk and her mom and RC, as well as jimcyl and perro and darkwolph. Alas, my foot was hurting and Dan had a ton of work to do, so we had to pass on the reception and Wolves game afterwards, but I hope everyone had fun!

And here we are back in the work week. I’m gimping around a good bit still, pumped up full of antibiotics and trying to stay off my foot (and failing). I’m hoping that things should be back to normal by the coming weekend, though.

Midwest FurFest Announces Great Things for 2007!

First off, we have our theme: Critters on the High Seas. It’s a little something for all of your nautical furries: pirates, sailing ships, and all of that good stuff!

Next up, we have our Guests of Honor. Midwest FurFest is pleased to welcome Cara Mitten. Cara is a gifted artist and illustrator whose work has appeared in Dragon Magazine, Magic: the Gathering, several books by White Wolf Publishing, Anthrolations magazine, and both the Kennel Club and Bestiary card decks.

We are also pleased to be joined by Jill C., aka Jill0r. Jill is an excellent illustrator, cartoonist, painter, and costumer. She recently completed a BFA in Illustration and Animation. Her professors nipped at her heels, barking that she “choose a style and stick with it,” but unable to follow directions, Jill is doing whatever she darn well pleases and is having a good time with it.

Finally we welcome Will Sanborn. Will is a talented author whose work has been featured in South Fur Lands, Anthropomorphine, and Fur Visions, and he has had several story collections published by Sofawolf Press.

We invite you to visit our newly-revamped website at http://www.furfest.org for more information, and we’ll see you in November!

Where to find the words

I attended Virginia Tech from 1991 until 1995, obtaining my Masters in chemical engineering. During that time, I spent the majority of my waking hours in Randolph Hall, which is located a hundred feet or so across a parking lot from Norris Hall, where the worst of the killings took place.

I’ve been in a very strange place since first hearing the news yesterday. I can’t begin to express my sorrow for those whose lives were taken, nor my rage and confusion over how a person can do such a thing. I think Dan put his finger on it last night – a place that I had fond memories of, someplace where I felt safe, has been violated. I suppose I’m fortunate to be twelve years removed from campus, and things aren’t quite as raw as for those who were there just recently. For those attending Tech, I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to try to resume a normal campus life after such a tragedy.

Through all of this, there’s an anger over something I admit is small and irrational, but irritating nonetheless: For the next few years, Virginia Tech won’t be a school known for a fine engineering school, a place for skilled architecture graduates, or even a school with a good football team. It will instead be “that school where all those people were killed.” It’s as if the schools identity was taken away, and replaced with this horrible albatross around its neck.

I probably won’t say much else about this matter – I just can’t put it into words much more than this. But I wanted to get this much out.

How To Recruit Staff for Fannish Conventions

Here’s an essay I wrote last year and never got around to posting. I updated it a bit and cleaned it up. Enjoy!

How To Recruit Staff for Fannish Conventions

Since a couple of people have mentioned that they had issues with putting together staffs for their departments at various conventions, I thought I’d post some thoughts that I had on the matter. I have run Registration at Midwest FurFest for the last six years and Artists Alley at Anthrocon for the last three years. I have put together quality groups of people to work both of these labor-intensive departments with minimal year-to-year turnover, so I figure I must be doing something right! I don’t expect that anyone is going to read this and suddenly all will become clear, but I hope that it might provide fuel for thought and at least some of this might be helpful.

I’ll break this down into three sections: Before the Convention, During the Convention, and After the Convention.

Before the Convention

Snow, Doctors and Weekend

Great fun here yesterday, as we got five or six inches of wet, heavy snow. This caused numerous blackouts in the area as tree limbs started falling on power lines, but nothing too bad. It played heck with a lot of people’s commutes, even doubling the length of my commute! ‘Course, since it only takes me five minutes to get to work, I don’t expect a lot of sympathy.

It’s been a boring week so far; not a whole lot going on at work, and evenings have been quiet. Just for a change of pace, I’ll be heading down to the doctor’s office after work today to have an ingrown toenail looked at (right there with ya, rustitobuck!). It’s gotten bad enough that it’s making me limp a bit and the pain is waking me up at night, so yeah – time to see what can be done. This will probably be my last visit to this doctor – while she was convenient to my last job, that’s no longer the case. Her office is a good half-hour away (and 45-60 minutes back, with traffic). Couple this with the fact that what used to be a small office with a receptionist, one nurse, and one doctor, all of whom knew you by name (and I their names) and were all quite friendly, has suddenly grown to a three-doctor practice with multiple support staff. I understand the economics of it, but it’s like I’m going from being a valued patient whose history the doctor knew without looking at the chart to just a another insurance claim to be filed. Time to check with Aetna and see what doctors are on their plan in the Round Lake/Grayslake area.

Meanwhile, it looks like I’ll be doing some work around the house this weekend, finally getting the bathtub in the master bath unclogged, and probably pull the elbows from under the kitchen sink and clean those (oh, those are gonna be gross) as well as doing some house cleaning. On Sunday, it appears we’ll be seeing some hockey with friends, which is always fun as well.

Time to go grab a soda, I think…

Weekendness and stuff

Now that was a fun weekend. As planned, we had lunch on Saturday at The Firkin in Libertyville with roho, genet, feren, and lady_curmudgeon. I need to remember that while their beer is divine (mmm, bocks) and their appetizers are tasty (the duck quesadillas were to die for!), their entrees aren’t quiet always up to snuff; the steak sandwich I had tasted like a whole lot of horseradish and not enough of steak. Still, I’d go back, even if I only ordered a couple of appetizers. Afterward we wandered town around a bit, including a stop by Rocky Mountain Spotted Chocolate Factory, where we introduced everyone to the yumminess that is “Apple Pie Apple”, an apple rolled in white chocolate, caramel, and cinnamon sugar. Yum! Afterwards we stopped back by our place to pick up nymphara and headed up to Antioch for an evening of hanging out, pizza, boozahol, and Apples to Apples. We had a wonderful time!

On Sunday I finally got my taxes taken care of (yay federal refund! boo state taxes due!) and we cleaned up a bit, and did some grocery shopping. Roho and Genet came over for dinner and we enjoyed some yummy burritos and watched The Amazing Race. A nice, low-key day.

So, other random stuff going on: We have tickets to see Weird Al Yankovic in June! He’s playing at the Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, IN. takaza saw him on his last tour, and apparently it’s a great show. I’m really looking forward to it. Hey – anyone else want to go? Get your tickets now, ’cause they’re going fast!

Maybe more later – gotta run!

If Only It Were Friday…Oh Wait, It Is!

So the office has that Friday-afternoon-before-a-holiday ghost town feeling to it. The boss has gone home and I’d wager folks are going to start trickling out over the next hour. He told me I could leave anytime I want to – which is dandy, except as a contractor, I get paid only for when I’m here. Ah well, 4:30 it is.

I’ve been updating a few things for Anthrocon Artists Alley, and giza set me up with editing privileges on the AA page on the AC site. That’s pretty cool, though I doubt I’ll use it much between now and July. Meanwhile, I’ve had a bit of fun with the new “My Maps” feature on Google Maps and created a map of stuff in the vicinity of Anthrocon. Pity they don’t yet have an easy way to plug everything into the Google Maps API, but hey, it was an interesting experiment.

Going into the weekend, I leave you with two nifty YouTube clips:
1.) The Gossip’s “Standing in the Way of Control” – I don’t much care for the video, but the song is quite catchy. I came across a reference to them in an article in today’s Chicago Tribune, “Proudly, loudly gay and on a major label? Sure”.
2.) While surfing around LJ I came across the_gneech‘s post with this infectious little ditty: ROFLMAO. Recommended for both World of Warcraft players AND fans of The Muppet Show 🙂

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Midweek Stuff

It’s a typical week, which is to say not too exciting.

nymphara is crashing at our place for a few days, as she is in between apartments. Various errands have kept her busy all week, though, so we haven’t seen much of her!

I thought that we were going to a party this weekend, but apparently not. This means we actually don’t have plans for the weekend. Shocking! I’m sure something will expand to fill the available time, though (like maybe a lunch trip to The Firkin in Libertyville. Hmm…). Pretty much the most exciting thing is that I picked up some pre-marinated skirt steak from Garden Fresh Market the other day; I’m really curious to see how it cooks up tonight, but if the small of our refrigerator is anything to go by, it should be quite tasty!

Among other errands I need to run is a stop by the Round Lake Park District offices to drop off our entry form for the Spring Stampede (pdf link) that we’re going to do with linnaeus and mirkowuff. The tentative name for our team is “Hungarian Soup Orchestra”, something that will make no sense to anyone who hasn’t watched the last few seasons of The Amazing Race 🙂 I should check out their gym facilities while I’m there, too.

On the topic of Anthrocon, I got a happy surprise yesterday when I made some lists of who I have for help and I actually have more people than last year. Awesome! We were stretched pretty thin last year, so the extra person will make a world of difference. Right now, I’ve got danruk, linnaeus, Grandma & Grandpa Kage, bullethc, woodychitwn, frostyw, nymphara, and rooth for my staff, with additional help from datahawk, roho, and genet for payout each day. With takaza‘s staff of daveqat, jimcyl, and wild_rhythm, we might be able to make it through this year without completely falling apart (though if anyone feels the need to demand that I spend a half-hour on the massage guy’s chair again, I’ll be quite OK with that!). I’m always looking for a bit of additional help, though, so if you’re interested, let me know. I took some time yesterday to update the staff instructions for Artists Alley and Con Store; I’ll be sending those out sometime next month, I expect. I’ve arranged the signup room and times with kuddlepup, so that all seems to be in order. I need to make a list of forms I need to print and info I need to get from Kage, then I’ll be pretty much good to go.

Oh, I almost forgot! Many of you have heard me rant and rave about Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso. I’m afraid I have a new love in my coffee life, though: Alterra Coffee’s Delta Mud. Oh man, is that stuff good! And their prices are much more reasonable than Intelligentsia’s, even with shipping included. I still like Intelligentsia’s stuff, but unfortunately it’s just a pain to get out here in the burbs.

Back to work for me, now!

A Trip To The Mitten

Y’know, before this weekend, my sole experience of visiting Michigan was back around 2002 or so, going north about a mile on I-69 from the Indiana Toll Road, turning around, and continuing my trip on the Indiana Toll Road. Hey, at least I could say I’d been to Michigan, and therefore every state east of the Mississippi.

This weekend I got to see a bit more of Michigan than that. I left work at 11 AM on Friday and picked up takaza from his employer an hour after that. After carefully checking the traffic reports, we were able to slip through downtown Chicago and out the Chicago Skyway with minimal delays. The trip across Michigan on I-94 was uneventful; I wound up doing most of the driving, since Dan was sleepy. We arrived at the Best Western Executive Plaza in Ann Arbor at close to 6 PM EDT.

We were there for the Dorsai Thing, an annual private relaxacon that the Dorsai hold annually. It was a bit awkward, since we didn’t really know many people there, though giza and petercat from Anthrocon were in attendance, and indeed we spent a good bit of time hanging around and chatting with them. Although they had several tasty dishes available in the con suite, Dan and I opted to go out and grab dinner at Zingerman’s Deli, part of the Zingerman’s conglomerate in Ann Arbor. I had done a bit of googling before we left, and the deli was described as the one place in Ann Arbor (or “A2”, as the local hipsters refer to it) that should not be missed. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with the place. They are clearly set up that funnel massive amounts of people through their store quickly and efficiently, though fortunately there weren’t that many people there that night (I think it was Spring Break at the University of Michigan, so that helped). Dan had a turkey sandwich which he found close to transcendent, and my beef brisket sandwich was pretty darned tasty (great BBQ sauce, but it needed more smokiness in the meat). We drove around downtown Ann Arbor a bit and it struck me as a rather pleasant college town, albeit one that supports a freakin’ huge college. After dinner we went back to the hotel and I crashed early, while Dan stayed up too late making a video blog.

Saturday was pretty laid back. I stepped out from the hotel early to hunt down a tasty cappuccino and had a chance to read the local paper; this only reinforced my opinion that Ann Arbor is definitely a small town in big-city clothing. That has a certain quaintness to it, though. that afternoon there were a few pseudo-panels (more like discussions) on how to be a duty officer (i.e. how to head up and deploy the Dorsai contingent at a convention) and how to negotiate contracts with conventions. These were quite interesting from an outsider’s point of view, and it’s worthy of note that the Dorsai think that Anthrocon is a whole lot of fun, and have nothing but nice things to say about the convention. From the discussions, it sounds like they’ll be working at another furry convention this year, too (not MFF). Following the panels, there was The Spanish Inquisition. This was an entertaining contest where each team had to take ten minutes and do…something. The judge (Sergeant Steve, scs_11) would only tell them if they were doing something wrong, or not wrong. Oh, and the judge could lie at any time. Between your team’s activities and observations made of the other team’s activities, the goal was to deduce what the rules were. It was very silly, and people had a lot of fun with it. We worked with Giza and Peter and we were, of course, “Team Furry”. Of the four teams, we somehow won, for which we got a nifty action figure!

After that, we gave Peter and Giza a lift to the local Kroger where we purchased supplies for the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster contest. The goal was to create a drink that best embodied the description of a drink that was “like being hit over the head by a gold brick wrapped in a slice of lemon.” Peter and Dan’s entries were quite tasty, though Giza’s was…well, I’ll have to track down some pictures of the reception that Giza’s drink received. I think the best comment his drink received was, “A bit harsh for marinating pork or chicken, but maybe not bad with beef.” Dan won a nice set of martini glasses for his drink!

Sunday morning we stopped by the breakfast buffet briefly, but decided to go ahead and hit the road to beat the weekend traffic back through Chicago. Sorry to everyone we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to! The drive was uneventful, but difficult due to nasty crosswinds most of the trip. We arrived home and pretty much collapsed on the sofa, enjoying the two hours of The Amazing Race that aired last night. Then it was off to bed.

Many thanks to Steve and all of the other good Dorsai Irregulars we met this weekend! We had a lot of fun and I definitely look forward to seeing many familiar faces when Anthrocon rolls around.