Monthly Archives: October 2008

A Day in Chicago, and Winter Weather Arrives (Briefly)

For a weekend that kept me very busy, it was surprisingly relaxing. Saturday found me driving into Chicago to pick up a few things for Midwest FurFest. I was reminded once again why taking public transit has always been my modus operandi when traveling in the city. Between driving around fruitlessly for 30 minutes near the Lincoln Park Zoo looking for a parking space that wouldn’t cost $14 while I spent 20 minutes shopping, followed by another 20 minutes in Lakeview looking for parking (I lucked out there), getting around with a car in Chicago can really suck.

On the bright side, I did meet up with linnaeus for a tasty lunch, and we had some fun chatting while driving around. We also made a very important discovery: Binny’s in the South Loop has a bar. And no just a bar, but a “tasting lounge” where drinks are actually very reasonably priced, allowing you to drop, say, $7 for a glass of 18-year-old single-malt Scotch before dropping $75+ on a bottle of it. We only had a beer (I had the Allagash Belgian Tripel, Paul had the Two Brothers Tripel Ale. We both liked mine better 🙂 (Side note: I see that Two Brothers now has a brewpub open. Road trip to Warrenville, IL, anyone?)

When I got home, takaza had already gone over to spend the evening with his family. This was fine by me, since it gave me time to relax and unwind after a crazy amount of driving.

We were up surprisingly early on Sunday to have breakfast in honor of midwestcougar‘s birthday. We were joined by Linnaeus, furball2k, evan_li, and the quiet and possibly LJ-less Kevin. It was an enjoyable meal and it was fun to meet some new faces. Afterward, Dan and I continued the previous day’s shopping spree, picking up some useful things. Our travels took us out to Hoffman Estates, where we got a tour of the shiny new ultra-spendy theater there (Dan: “I’d like to see a movie here.” Me: “IT’S $35 JUST TO GET IN!” Dan: “I still want to see a movie here…”). We were also treated to a rather surprising five-minute sleet storm as the windy weather turned very cold.

We finished off the shopping with a trip into Cabela’s. I figured I needed a picture for the con book and since our theme is “North to Alaska” it seemed to fit. We had fun getting a couple of shots, but most of you will have to wait until the convention to see the finished product (I’ll send you copies, Mom 🙂

This week so far has been busy at work, but I’m finding some time to deal with MFF stuff here and there. This Friday we’re doing some family stuff, and I have a bunch of con-related stuff to work on this weekend. On a nice side note, we were able to trade my old iPod to Dan’s brother (who is part-owner of a Massage Envy franchise) for two 90-minute massages. I’m really looking forward to redeeming those!

Fun With Twitter And a Relaxing Evening

Well, I seem to have gotten on the Twitter bandwagon. I’m really not sure how much I’m going to use it personally, but you can follow me at Oh, and I can assure you that I will not be copying my tweets to LiveJournal. I’m not much a fan of that approach.

More interesting, though, is that I have established an official Midwest FurFest Twitter feed at I have found a very handy service that we can use to load up with notifications like “The Charity Auction will begin in 15 minutes in Ravinia DEF” well in advance of the convention. Additionally, we can also send out notifications of programming changes and, um, whatever else I can think of 🙂 I’m definitely very new to Twitter, so if anyone has suggestions about how to best use the feed, I’m open to ideas!

Last night, after a very hectic week at work, we were joined by roho and genet for an extremely relaxing evening featuring cheese fondue, some crusty bread, a couple of bottles of excellent wine, and chocolate fondue for dessert. After that was a screening of the Big Lebowski episode of Ace of Cakes, followed by the latest episode of Iditarod: Toughest Race on Earth. That show is really amazing, and it always really lifts my spirits. If you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend it – the cinematography is great, and the narrative is very well put together. This is definitely one of Original Productions’ (Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, etc.) better shows. We saw Roho and Genet off at around 11:30 PM, then stumbled off to bed ourselves. Throughout the night my body reminded me why drinking several glasses of wine is a bad thing. Note to self: stock up on Rolaids.

So today I’m off to Chicago to do some shopping. I’m not sure how long I’ll be around, but we’ll see how the day goes. I suppose I’ll also swing by the MFF storage locker and pay for the coming year as well. Off to shower now!

Long Days at Work and Great Music

This is a crazy week at work, since I am working on a project I’m hoping to get done by the end of the week. Lots of paperwork, lots of time on the production floor, and lots of issues to keep track of. If I seem a bit remote when you message me during the day, that’s probably why.

This past weekend was OK. takaza‘s family came over on Saturday, but since I woke up far too early and had too little sleep, I was a terrible host and not very social. Ah well, we can’t all be 100% all the time. Sunday was a pretty lazy day of staying home and working on Midwest FurFest stuff, capped by an online staff meeting that ran longer than I would have liked, but still accomplished a lot. 30 days until the convention, and while there’s still a ton of work to be done, it sounds like everyone has things under control.

But that isn’t why I wanted to write this entry. The nights are turning cold, the leaves are falling from the trees, and we are well in the grip of autumn. This always gives me the occasion to pull out one of my all-time favorite albums, “When October Goes: Autumn Love Songs”. The schmaltzy title aside, this is one of the best and most atmospheric folk music albums I’ve ever come across. From Megan McDonough’s soulful reading of the title track, to Christine Lavin’s wistful “Getting Used to Leavin'”. this album definitely fits the season for me. My favorite song, though, is “Are You Happy Now?” by Richard Shindell, a talented singer-songwriter. The song has great lyrics like these describing a post-Halloween scene:

I’ve sat all night and now it’s dawn/And I cannot believe my eyes
There’s garbage strewn across the lawn/Where we once stared up at the sky
And streams of paper fill the tree/That hovered over you and me
Shaving cream covers the car/That we picked up in Baltimore
Though I know it’s hard to tell/I hope that what’s-his-name treats you well
I still maintain that he’s a bum/But it’s your money – have some fun

(Here’s a live recording of the song, but the quality of the audio does it a disservice)

So yeah. That’s what I’ve been listening to lately. Wow, I just realized that album came out in 1991. I first picked it up while I was working at WSBF-FM, the student radio station at Clemson University. I’ve loved this album for 17 years and I’ll probably keep on enjoying it.

Lots of Grilling, and a Very Busy Week

Holy cow, it’s been a while since I updated. Last weekend was a real hoot. Saturday was roho‘s birthday, so we got together with a bunch of friends and first hit Brightonwoods Orchards, then went back to Roho and genet‘s place for a tasty dinner of grilled meats and some excellent cupcakes make by takaza, including carrot cake cupcakes and my favorite, Boston cream cupcakes {drool}.

Sunday, we were joined by linnaeus and headed north to Milwaukee, first to Sprecher Brewing to stock up on cherry cola for Midwest FurFest, then a quick stop by Alterra Coffee to feed my filthy caffeine habit. Once done there, it was off to hegdish and drakeduck‘s place for a very enjoyable shindig featuring more grilled meats and some excellent company. It was great to meet some of the Milwaukee furs we hadn’t seen before, as well as some old friends we hadn’t seen in ages (hi Mistletoe and Tremaine!). Wonderful company, and Hegdish and Drake were excellent hosts. I look forward to seeing more of them!

Most of this week has been slow at work, which is good since that let me catch up on some MFF business. I’ve been very busy coordinating between departments, making my credit card squeak with a good bit of ordering, and working with some fine crafters out in California on some fun “spiffy” projects. Evenings have been spent enjoying the autumn chill by snuggling up with Dan on the sofa and catching up on Tivo’d programs. Some TV notes: Heroes is definitely getting better. The Amazing Race bummed me out by eliminating my favorite team. Survivor:Gabon is still in the early (boring) stages where the majority of the show can be watched on fast-forward. Chuck is fun, though we still have a couple of episodes to watch. Also sitting on the Tivo: Life on Mars, Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod, My Own Worst Enemy, and the balance of Reaper from last season. As much as I wish we could keep up with Pushing Daisies, we’re too far behind. Shows that are falling into the “Ain’t gonna watch it” category: Prototype This (so much potential, but so much suck), Knight Rider (too dumb for words), and Fringe (just can’t work up the interest).

As for plans this weekend, I may have to go in to work tomorrow morning for a bit. Then tomorrow afternoon Dan’s family is coming over – I just don’t have the motivation for cooking for a crowd, so we may just order pizza. Sunday I hope to do as little as possible, though we have an MFF staff meeting online in the evening. Just about a month to go until the con! Gah!

Right now, though, I’m listening to some excellent blues, Dan is cooking up a delicious dinner in the kitchen, and I have a very tasty beer in front of me. Life is good. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Beers and Dinners and Meetings, Oh My!

Now that was a busy, but fun weekend.

ramalion was crashing at our place on Saturday night and he had mentioned that he had never tasted my cooking. Those of you who know me know that this is a dangerous challenge! We invited roho, genet, and linnaeus to join us for dinner and I got to planning, digging into my online recipe stash to find some new and interesting recipes.

Prior to dinner, though, takaza and I met up with Roho and Genet at Wine Knows for their Fall Beer Tasting. It was a blast! So many good beers, but the real standout was the Browning’s Brewery Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels. Absolutely amazing! (And sadly out of stock. But Genet is going to check in with them later this week!) We picked up a couple of bottles of wine and some good beers, and ventured to the store, then home to start dinner.

Rama was there when we arrived, and Linnaeus arrived not long after. I dove into the dinner preparations. The menu included Eggs with Cream, Spinach, and Ham, Spinach and Bacon Salad with a Roasted Shallot and Dijon Vinaigrette, and Potato Gnocchi with Meat Sauce. I learned a couple of useful things:
1. Don’t start cooking an involved dinner at 6 PM. Fortunately, the beer and wine (and chips and salsa) helped maintain everyone’s good spirits when the food was served at 10 PM.
2. Gnocchi is neat and fancy, but it’s a pain in the ass. Next time, keep it simpler.
3. The Eggs with Cream , Spinach, and Ham is nothing short of astonishing. Saute the spinach with garlic and shallots, then coarsely chop and place in a ramekin. Simmer diced ham with heavy cream, then spoon the ham into the ramekin. Break an egg into each ramekin, then spoon the cream over the egg. Bake until the white is set but the yolk is still runny, and serve with buttered toast. Heavenly!

Sunday brought the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. The meeting went a bit longer than I usually like, but we got a lot done and made sure that no action items from the past year has fallen between the cracks. After the meeting, we adjourned to Mi Mexico, a new Mexican restaurant just north of the hotel (in the old Weber Grill location, for those who know the area). Wow! What a great find! Our meals were really fantastic, and they handled a large crowd of people extremely well. Plus, if someone is looking to eat cheaply, you’ve got a winner here, with $5.00 entrees available.

The rest of the evening was spent at home relaxing, working on some small MFF projects, and watching The Amazing Race (yay for the comic book geeks!).

This week is crunch time for the Midwest FurFest Restaurant Guide. We’ve got 120 restaurants listed and my goal is to have a useful review for every single one of them. Once that’s done I need to go to work on some other projects. No panicking yet, though – everything seems to be coming along nicely.