Monthly Archives: June 2007

It’s Been a Quiet Week In, um, Hainesville…

I know I’ve been quiet here this week, but I have excuses! You see, much of our week has been consumed with preparations for Anthrocon; even when we weren’t actively working on convention planning, we were thinking about it and that kind of wears on you. Add to that the fact that I’m fighting off a mild summer cold. Yuck.

In general update terms, though, things have been going well. If I didn’t mention it earlier, I haven’t been hired on full-time at my employer yet since they were still working out which positions were open and which they were going to fill with whom. I have been assured, multiple times, that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” I get hired, though. My contract was extended to the end of July, and that’s OK by me. While that means my three days off for Anthrocon will be unpaid, the good news is that I still come out ahead in net salary. I had a good talk with my boss this week and he is satisfied with my performance and seems willing to put a bit more on my plate, which makes me happy.

Work for takaza continues to be stressful; I worry about him and I know that all of this stress takes its toll on his health. Things got a little more difficult this week (I won’t go into it here, but my heart does go out to those involved), but he’s been assured that it won’t affect his vacation time. He is justifiably skeptical and unfortunately probably will have to log in from Pittsburgh to do some work for some part of the time that we’re there.

We did find time to relax a bit last night. We had a pleasant dinner with roho and genet at a frozen custard place in Antioch (good sandwiches, not so good frozen custard), then we caught the late showing of Ratatouille at the Antioch Theater. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It was so much fun! Great character design, a nifty score, and a really great expression of the love of food and cooking. I adored it, and wouldn’t mind seeing it again. As an aside, I also love the Antioch Theater – $4 admission, popcorn for a couple of bucks (and free refills on popcorn and sodas, provided by roving ushers), a trivia quiz by a real live employee before the show. When we went to see Waitress a few weeks ago we went to the Regal theater in Round Lake; tickets, plus popcorn and soda came to over $30 (and that’s at matinee prices!). That’s just plain offensive.

Ahem. Movie theater ranting aside, it looks like the next few days are going to be pretty nuts for us. I can’t even guarantee that I’ll be posting between now and Anthrocon, so here’s a quick rundown:

Today, once datahawk gets up here, we’ll all head down to Arlington Heights to meet justincheetah at the MFF storage locker to get a power distribution panel for him (I hope it’s not buried too far under everything!). Then it’s over to linnaeus‘s place in the city to drop off some stuff that he is kindly carrying to Anthrocon for us. After that, it’s down to Merrillville, Indiana where we have tickets to see “Weird Al” Yankovic in concert!

Tomorrow will be con packing and (more) planning, and staging everything as best we can. Oh, and relaxing somewhat, since that’ll be our last chance before the con. Monday will be work as usual.

Tuesday, we fly out from O’Hare at 7:05 PM, arriving in Pittsburgh at 9:32 PM (supposedly). Give that it’s an evening flight in the summer out of O’Hare, I figure if we get to PIT before 11:30 PM we’ll be doing good. We’ll spend the night at the La Quinta Pittsburgh Airport, then on Wednesday morning catch the 28X bus downtown to the Westin Pittsburgh Convention Center. We hope to be at the Westin by 11 AM or 12 noon.

And after that? Madness and chaos. With any luck I’ll be able to document some of that…at some point.

Booze, Bingo, and, um…Man, I Fail At Alliteration

Let’s get up to speed, shall we?

After work on Friday takaza and I stopped by Gurnee Mills to pick up a few things. We were just looking for a new belt for me but wandered into the game store only to find that they were having a buy-one-get-half-off-another sale on games. We walked out with two games that look like they’re going to be a lot of fun at our next party: Malarkey and Wits and Wagers. When we finished shopping we drove up to Antioch to our favorite liquor store to stock up on a few things for Anthrocon (a couple of new Scotches and a bottle of Grey Goose, ’cause I likes me some good sipping vodka). We met up with genet (roho was under the weather) and had a pleasant dinner at Las Vegas Restaurant.

Saturday was craziness, but in a fun way. For the second year in a row we ran the bingo games for Dan’s company picnic. It’s a good thing that Dan thought to bring our bingo set (purchased for use last year, but not used) because we found that the provided bingo set was missing four bingo balls. That would have sucked. We ran two sessions, each 90 minutes long, and gave away a little over $2,000 in gift cards to Target, Wal Mart, and various restaurants. People seemed to enjoy it. Dan had bought a huge chunk for tickets for the charity raffle (to benefit Gilda’s Club) and for the second year in a row he won an iPod, this time a 4 Gb iPod Nano. Which would be nice except that we both have 30 Gb Video iPods. Ah well, we had fun, at least, and the day’s surreal moment was provided by the CEO of Dan’s company inquiring if we’re brothers. I guess it’s true that the longer a couple stays together, the more they start to look alike 🙂

After the picnic we headed into the city, where we met up with datahawk and emrldgrrl to see the GLBT Pride edition of Too Much Light makes the Baby Go Blind (“30 queer plays in 60 straight minutes”). As always, the show was amazing – funny, poignant, and thought-provoking. I admit, it’s the silly stuff that I remember most, including “Two Minute Strip Rock Paper Scissors” and “All The Boys in the Frat House Say Ho(mosexual)!” Because it was a benefit show, even though they ran out of time on play #25 everyone agreed that we should see the last five plays, so we did! After the show, we drove down to linnaeus‘s place and got dinner from our favorite taquiera. It was great ending to a great day.

And on Sunday? We rested. Well, we did a little work on Anthrocon stuff, but mostly we just rested. And it was good.

Grillin’, Poker, and a Meme!

Oh dear, a meme. I’ll get that out of the way first, and I blame skorzy and atara for it:

Ask me to take a picture of any aspect of my life that you’re interested in/curious about – it can be anything from the house I live in to my favorite shoes. Leave your choice here as a comment, and I will reciprocate by taking the pictures and posting them as an LJ entry. That way you get to know a little bit about my life!

Please note that it may take a few days to get to all of the requests (if there are any), but I’ll do my darnedest to accommodate them all. Now, I reserves the right to interpret any and all requests however I like, though 😉

Now that that’s out of the way…Yesterday was rather busy. I slipped out from work a little early (considering I get into work each day 20-30 minutes early, this is no big deal) and ran up to Lovin’ Oven Cakery to pick up some tasty stuff for a certain panda’s birthday. On the way, I got a call the my new glasses were ready, so I stopped by the opticians in Grayslake (navigating through the weekly Farmer’s Market) to get them, then raced home and did some last-minute cleaning. Dan got home a little late (he’d had to drive in due to a little problem that Metra had), and were then joined by steviemaxwell, magicpaw, midwestcougar, nymphara and her new squeeze, Nick, and roho and genet. While the crowd played a couple of rounds of poker, I busied myself grilling up a multitude of brats and hot dogs and hamburgers. Everyone had a good bit of fun, and Dan had fun making appletinis. Genet and I elected to chat while everyone else played games, and that was fine – I wasn’t much in a poker mood. For dessert we had a couple of monstrous éclairs that we cut up for serving, as well a couple different kinds of strudel. Yummy! We didn’t get to bed until after 11 PM, though, and both Dan and I are dragging a bit today as a result.

Not much going on today, though I do have my annual checkup with my doctor right after work today. Tomorrow we’ll be heading up to Antioch to stock up on some important items for Anthrocon, and I may see about taking Dan’s car in for emissions testing as well.

The Summer Doldrums

The doldrums in television viewing, that is. There’s not a lot new going onto our Tivo these days. We had an odd hiccup with our DirecTivo last week where a couple of shows that were on our season pass list didn’t get recorded. One of these was Pirate Master, which I’d been really wavering about. We decided that since we missed the episode and really didn’t care, that was a good indication that we could delete the season pass. I read through the episode recap and even the recap was boring, so I think was made the right decision. Creature Comforts is, I suppose, every bit as good as the original UK version, but given that that had limited appeal to me (it’s a cute novelty, but wears thin after that), I’ve pretty much lost interest. Deadliest Catch is ending its season this week, and the After the Catch specials, while occasionally interesting, have gotten a bit meandering. I think a single two-hour special would have been better than four one-hour episodes. And heck, takaza even took Rescue Me off the season pass list when he got partway into the season premiere and found he didn’t really care what went on.

So what’s left? Well, we still are whittling our way (slowly) through Season 2 Doctor Who. We seems to be accumulating a surprising number of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations as well. Coming up soon, we have Eureka premiering on July 10 (Dan enjoyed the first season, and I suppose I can check out the second season, assuming they can keep Matt Frewer from chewing the scenery), Burn Notice on June 28 (interesting premise AND Bruce Campbell – that’s enough for me to check it out), the third season of Doctor starts July 6 on Sci-Fi, and of course the last three episodes of Drive are getting burned off on July 4th.

All in all, this seems a good time to read some books 🙂

Oh, and finally: a cool random SFW link: They’re Made Out of Meat, a short film based on a short story by Terry Bisson. For cable geeks out there, it’s notable because it stars Ben Bailey, host of Cash Cab.

Games, Family, and Cons

Hmm, I’m getting slack about updating again. That’s not so good.

Last week we had to get both of our Honda Elements serviced, mine to have the upholstery repaired before the warranty expired and takaza‘s for its 60,000 mile service. Rosen Honda in Gurnee proved a mixed bag in terms of getting this accomplished. Just setting up the service was difficult, as it took no less than four calls just to get through to the service department, including getting hung up on twice. I dropped my car off on Wednesday night, and got a call on Thursday that they had completely disassembled the driver’s seat and opened the box with the new seat cover only to find that it was the wrong color. We therefore had to leave the care there Thursday night as well. I picked it up on Friday afternoon after work, dropping off Dan’s car in the process with the request that the service be completed by noon on Saturday.

I stopped to get gas before heading down to pick up Dan and it’s a good thing I did, because while filling up I saw that in the process of putting the car through the car wash just before giving it back to me, they had torn off the rear windshield wiper and it was hanging by a wire. I high-tailed it back to the dealership and arrived just as the parts department closed. The service guy was very apologetic and fixed things up enough that the car wouldn’t be damaged until I could bring it back the next day to get the wiper assembly replaced.

From there I headed south to meet Dan at the Buffalo Grove Metra station (gods, I hate Lake-Cook Road on Friday afternoons). We killed some time playing minigolf at my favorite place in the area, Par King, then met up with daveqat and synicism for dinner at Osteria di Tramonto. Dinner was fabulous, as always; I had the cavatelli with roasted escarole and chicken; Dan had chicken Parmesan, Dave went with the hanger steak, and Jim had rack of lamb. All were excellent, and my chocolate torte after dinner was superb.

On Saturday, Dan and I went to pick up his car. $520 later – ouch! – the car is in excellent shape, though I’m told the front brake pads need replacing soon. Somehow I’m certain that I can get it done cheaper than the $289 they’re offering; heck, from what I understand, if I had the service manual and a couple more tools I could do it myself. It’s something to consider after Anthrocon, perhaps; in the meantime, since he’s putting all of maybe four miles a day on the car going to and from the train station, it’s not hugely urgent.

We stopped by Lovin’ Over Cakery for some tasty dessert stuff, then headed over to Dan’s mom’s place for an afternoon of games and lots and lots of food. She had roasted a 20+ pound turkey (!) and had made all of the trappings. This just for me, Dan, Dan’s brother and sister, and her. We had a great time playing Scene It! Squabble (truly annoying, with offensive gender stereotypes for all!), Apples to Apples, and Balderdash. I enjoyed Balderdash the most, though I’m thinking that we need to pick up a copy of Malarky, which encourages a little more elaborate tale-spinning. We capped off the evening with a family portrait, which Dan posted in his journal.

On Sunday, Dan and I worked on various Anthrocon and Midwest FurFest tasks, taking a break to hit the grocery store. Dan made a tasty turkey and rice dish with kielbasa using the huge amount of leftover turkey his mom gave us before we left the night before. We “attended” the MFF online staff meeting, then I edited the log and sent the notes out shortly afterwards. The rest of the evening, we watched a bit of TiVo and the Robot Chicken Star Wars Special, then headed off to bed.

So, this week: Poker Night on Wednesday, and I need to run various errands after work on Wednesday and Thursday. Next weekend is Dan’s employer’s company picnic, and we’re going to be running the bingo games again this year. Should be…um, fun. Yeah, that’s it. Fun. 🙂

Just The Usual Pre-Con Panic, and Fun With Cars

So I was working today and I realized, “Wow, three weeks from today I’ll be in Pittsburgh.” Gaaah!

The good news is that, once the programming schedule is up (which sounds imminent), I can start making a schedule for the Artists Alley and Con Store. I should have the Con Store price list and bar codes in hand from Unclekage tonight (barring unforeseen issues, such as zombie attacks), then it’s just a matter of assembling what little equipment we need and figuring out how to get it to Pittsburgh. Hmmm, I foresee a trip to Antioch Liquors in the near future…

So since my car (2005 Honda Element) has 35,850 miles on the odometer (i.e. within a hair of going out of warranty), it’s going to the Gurnee Honda dealership tonight to get a tear in the seat upholstery repaired while it’s still free. I’ll have some time to kill before takaza‘s train gets in, so I’m going to swing by the Grayslake Farmers Market which opens its season today and see what good stuff I can find there. Dan’s car (2003 Honda Element) is due for emissions inspection, which is thankfully just down the street from where I work; unfortunately, its “Check Engine” light is coming on, warning of the impending 60,000 mile service. Since they won’t do the emissions testing if any warning lights are present, we need to get Dan’s car serviced, so we’ll be dropping it off at Gurnee Honda on Friday night. Also on Friday night we’re meeting daveqat and jimcyl for dinner at the always-yummy Osteria di Tramonto; I’ve heard rumors of miniature golf with some of Dan’s cow-orkers to take place before that, but we’ll see if that comes to pass.

Wow. Looking at my calendar, it looks like every weekend is going to be busy into late July, at least. Ah, the joys of summer socializing…

Indian Food, Parties, and Movies!

You know, as exhausted as I felt at work on Friday, I was astonished at how much energy I had when I got home. It turned out that the power had actually come back on at 8:30 AM, which meant that while the freezer was pretty much OK, some serious culling needed to be done in the refrigerator. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad – mostly party leftovers and anything with dairy in it (including, sadly, the Keke Key Lime Pie liqueur). Once takaza got home, we talked a bit about dinner and decided that we both wanted something more than a hot dog. We decided that Indian food sounded good, so we met up with roho and genet for dinner at Bombay City. The food was, as always, delicious and the company was excellent as well. It was fortunate that we weren’t far from home, because once the food coma set in, I was very quickly ready to fall asleep.

Saturday found Dan and over at his mother’s house with some family to play some games. I have to admit I had some trepidation going in, but I was readily accepted and we had a whole lot of fun. We played Scene It, Apples to Apples, and Taboo, and it was a blast. It was even better since we moved the table out to the deck and we got to enjoy a perfectly beautiful day outside. At about 7:30, it was time to head south to wyldekyttin‘s birthday party. Because it was such a beautiful evening, we wound up taking back roads through Crystal Lake down to Randall Road, all the way down to Aurora. It was a very pleasant drive along the western edge of the densest Chicago suburbs. When we got to the Holiday Inn Select Naperville (her party was held in conjunction with Duckon), we hung out for a little while, but as is always so typical, between being tired and having a long drive ahead of us, we had to leave before the party really got going well. It was a pleasure to see so many of our friends, albeit briefly. One nifty thing: On the way out through the parking lot we passed by the Tesla coil demonstration. I thought to grab our camera out of the car and grabbed a quick 30-second video of the powerful electrical arcs, which were set to music:

On Sunday, we met up with Roho and Genet to see Waitress. It was a lovely movie, and I really enjoyed it. Not too deep or profound, but enjoyable nonetheless. Keri Russell was fantastic in her role, Nathan Fillion was adorable as always, and the late director was also very good in her supporting role; it’s a crying shame that she passed away before the move was released. After the movie we retired back to our place for a marathon of home improvement shows, including Hometime, The Real Estate Pros, and Flip This House (as well as some Good Eats and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares). We ordered some pizza somewhere in there, and mainly just relaxed and hung out. Quite a nice, low-stress day. Right before bed, though, I was contacted with an interesting bit of news that left me a bit gobsmacked and made getting to sleep difficult. Nothing bad, just surprising.

And so we have this week. Looks like I may have to work some off hours this week (and maybe the next few weeks) to support a project here, which is fine. If anything, it’s unusual that I haven’t been asked to do this before, and it’s not as if it’s mandatory (the boss is cool like that). We’ll work something out.

Power Update

I checked on the outage status with ComEd and they were all, “Outage? We don’t know anything about no outage.”

I’ll take that as confirmation that the power is back on at our house. We’re still going to have to throw out most of fridge contents, though. At least the A/C will have been running for a while before I get home.

Grump

Ugh. Strong storms last night. The power went out at around 11:45 PM. We didn’t get to sleep until sometimes after 12:30 AM.

At 2:20 AM, the weather radio shrieked an alarm, scaring the bejesus out of takaza and me. I was halfway to getting dressed to head to the basement before they announced that it was a flash flood warning, not much concern for us as we’re on a hill. It took me a good half-hour to get back to sleep.

Even with the power off, our clock radio does its darndest to have the alarm go off. Unfortunately, the backup battery doesn’t do so well at keeping time, so the 6 AM alarm went off at 5:07 AM. I never got back to sleep after that.

When I left the house at 6:50 AM, the power was still off. At this point I have to assume that everything in the fridge is pretty much a loss. Hmm, checking the ComEd automated system, the estimated time of repair is 6 PM tonight. Well, so much for everything in the freezer. Bah.

As we left the house, I noticed a couple of news helicopters just a ways off to the west. Poking around the news websites a bit, it looks like they were looking at the lumber store in downtown Round Lake (Cedar Lake Rd. & Route 134) whose roof was peeled off and tossed across the Metra tracks. Thank heavens it was nothing worse than that.

So now we get to play “How Can Duncan Make It Through The Day On Four Hours Of Sleep?” My preliminary answer is “not well”, but we’ll see how things go.

It’s Wednesday Already?

My, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun. Which leaves me no explanation for this week, but that’s OK. Not that it’s been a bad week, mind you, just…eh.

Monday found takaza and I having fun making dinner. While Dan experimented with slicing and frying techniques to make home fries, I fired up the grill and cooked up a couple of steaks, as well as some fresh pineapple. I learned a couple of things: 1.) Three chunks of hickory is too much. The steaks tasted a little too much of smoke. 2.) When grilling pineapple, add the cinnamon sugar after grilling, otherwise the cinnamon gets bitter. Ah well. It was a learning exercise all around, and in the end we still had steaks and yummy home fries. Yay!

Last night we were feeling minimally motivated. I sautéed up some peppers and onions, then Dan cooked some chicken and diced it up and we had tacos. We both love the whole wheat flour tortillas we’ve found, and the chihuahua cheese is delicious. A little salsa and some crema…yum. It was a quiet evening, as Dan was working on Anthrocon cash sheets and I engaged in a bit of transit geekery (see below). Afterwards we watched the latest episode of Deadliest Catch.

Click for boring transit geek stuff

That Was a Weekend?

Sometimes a weekend is so low-key you hardly know it’s there until Monday whacks you upside the head with a two-by-four.

We had a nice, relaxing “cat weekend”, something that I promised takaza we’d try to have at least once a month. I’m a go-go-go social butterfly kind of guy, but he needs a weekend to recharge his batteries every so often (and I suppose it doesn’t do me any harm either). Dan got to sleep in late both Saturday and Sunday, and we even stayed up far too late on Saturday night (yes, I can stay up later than midnight! So there!).

On Friday we relaxed a bit after work then thought about going out for dinner. We started to leave but looking at the radar and the approaching storm front elected to delay our departure by a half-hour. It’s a good thing, too, because a fast-moving storm blew through with torrential rain and 40 mph+ wind gusts. The sky was amazing right after the front went through; Dan took a couple of pictures and e-mailed them off to the local CBS affiliate, who posted both of them to their website! For dinner, Dan wanted to try the Popeye’s Restaurant, just because it was something he hadn’t had before. One underwhelming meal later, we knew why he hadn’t had it before. We won’t be returning. After dinner, we decided to stop by the Round Lake Streets of Summer Festival. The rainstorm had taken its toll, and the actual festival attendees were outnumbered by the festival staff and security. It was really pretty sad. We walked through the festival grounds and listened to the increasingly-awful band playing (more volume does not mean better music!) and decided to leave.

On Saturday we had to take my car in to the dealership to have some upholstery checked for a possible warranty repair. That’s a whole other rant, though. Afterwards we got a tasty late lunch/early dinner at Scott Dogs. We bummed around the house for a bit, then snuggled up on the sofa and watched Spellbound. I had meant to see this years ago, and I am pleased to report it is every bit as engaging and entertaining as I had heard. What a great movie! Afterwards, we stayed up far too late watching Flip This House.

Sunday we pretty much just bummed around the house before heading out to the week’s grocery shopping. Dan made a big pot of a very tasty chicken/rice/chorizo stew which we had for dinner and we’ll both be having for lunch for the next few days, then we watched some TiVo before going to bed.

Excitement city, eh? But it was a very enjoyable weekend nonetheless. Oh, and obviously we never did get out to see Waitress. Hopefully it’ll still be around next weekend.