duncandahusky: (Default)
Right, I have a journal here. I should actually use it :-)

Just to update a few things before they totally slip into the past: Following the craziness that was Wuffmeet, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I slipped into a comfortable winter rhythm. Our cooking has improved, or at least gotten more interesting, with the addition of a Sous Vide Supreme to our kitchen. We are still experimenting and testing recipes, but we've been really impressed with how it cooks steaks and other meats. The fish it makes is to die for, and butter-poached chicken is simply divine. The biggest trick is that seasonings behave differently with low-temperature cooking, so we are still learning what works, what doesn't, and what we still need to try. I'm having a ball with is, and I'm hoping to bring it to Furry Connection North to provide some interesting snacks for our parties!

Our social life has gotten a bit quieter with the departure of close friends [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet to the wilds of the east coast as they move to the heart of Boston. While we were very sad to see them go, I'm really glad to see Roho get his life back from his (former) evil employer. We provided some small help in moving some of their furniture out of their house (I still feel bad about what we did to the wall in their basement stairwell, but I'm told it was a relatively easy fix). Once the movers came and loaded up their stuff, Genet crashed at our place for a few days with Briana, their pretty-but-airheaded Samoyed. She and Buddy got along great (as always), and it was nice to have the extra company. Once all of the contractors were done making their place super-pretty so it could go on the market, she packed up the dog and their two cats and made the long drive to Boston. Here's hoping they can clear all the boxes out of their new place before summer! ;-)

We have been having a lot of fun planning our upcoming cruise to Alaska, coming up around Memorial Day. Somehow our group has reached 18 people from all over - even someone from Sweden! We purchased a good bit of the various parts of the trip over the last month, including flights (Frontier Airlines, MKE-DEN-ANC/SEA-MKE), reservations at a fabulous little lesbian-owned B&B in Anchorage, trains from Anchorage to Seward (where our ship departs) and Vancouver to Seattle, and various shore excursions. Dan is thinking about putting together a group chat on Saturday, March 5, for everyone in our group so we can talk about coordinating schedules and answer any questions that folks might have. We'll be sending around emails for that. This is going to be the longest vacation we've had, and I'm really looking forward to it! We're already brainstorming ideas for group trips for next year as well, including an extended weekend in New Orleans, and a ski weekend at Sugarloaf in Maine. More on that after the cruise!

I should mention that on Groundhog Day we got buried with a blizzard. Twenty inches of snow fell in a very short time, and then the 40-50 mph winds kicked in. We did the smart thing and made sure we had everything we needed and when it started coming down we sat tight at the house. Work for both of us was closed (the first time in a long time!) and we spent the snow day relaxing and Genet made cookies! Our HOA dues have never been more appreciated as we watched the snow removal company try to cope with the huge drifts, though we did get into the act a little bit by excavating Genet's car from the snow.

Somewhere in there was our first Midwest FurFest staff meeting of the year. It's always rough to get started again after the last convention, but there's contracts to sign and plans to get into place. The good news is that Hyatt Regency O'Hare was extremely happy with the convention last year, and now that we all know each other, the coming year will be much easier to plan. We have changed up our meeting schedule a bit, with more online meetings early in the year; this makes sense since most of the staff doesn't really need to spring into action until the summer.

Oh, for those wondering: our conventions schedule this year is to attend Furry Connection North and Midwest FurFest and...that's it. Since the cruise is so long and I only have ten days of vacation, Anthrocon just isn't in the cards for us this year. I wish everyone involved with AC well, though, especially [livejournal.com profile] rooth and [livejournal.com profile] chanur2000, who will be taking over my and Dan's staff positions there, respectively. Good luck, guys!

Finally, Dan and I will be hopping on board the Amtrak Wolverine this evening and taking the train over to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to hang out with the fine folks there for the weekend, and to help determine the beers that will be served at FCN's sponsor lounge. It should be tough, thirsty work! Dan has planned a fun dinner for Saturday night as well. The fun doesn't end there, as it appears that we will be visited by [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd and [livejournal.com profile] bajahyena next weekend, when we will...well, those plans are a secret!

Off to work now - I hope everyone has a great weekend!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Right, there was a holiday weekend back there. We were still dragging from Anthrocon going into the weekend, so keeping things laid-back was definitely on the menu. On Friday night, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet stopped by and we made fajitas, then just hung out. Saturday was a lovely day of relaxing, then Roho, Genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus came over and we made steaks Argentinean style. OMG SO GOOD! This is a method described in the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated: you coat the steaks lightly with a salt/cornstarch mixture, then place then in the freezer for 30 minutes. You build a hotter-than-heck charcoal fire and put a couple of wood chunks around the perimeter. Then you season the steaks with pepper and put them on the grill, 2-3 minutes per side, flipping twice. They came off perfectly rare/medium-rare. Oh, wow! Those were excellent - a nicely browned crust and suffused with hickory smoke. So good.

Sunday was another day of lazing about in the morning, then [livejournal.com profile] chanur2000 came over and he and [livejournal.com profile] takaza went to work reconciling Anthrocon's finances. As they did this, I caught a ride from Roho & Genet down to [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's for their "Red White and Gin" party. It was an awesome party - great food, tasty drinks, shameful performances on Rock Band, and the evening was capped off by watching the town's fireworks from their back deck. Awesome. I was also quite pleased that the gazpacho I made seemed to go over well. Since a couple of folks asked for it, here's the recipe )
We got home at around midnight, just as Takaza and Chanur were wrapping up. Well, mostly. Dan still has some minor number-crunching to do but then he'll be done.

Monday? On Monday we did nothing. And it was damn good.

This week we're back at work - Dan to the usual stress, me for a somewhat more relaxed week. The plant I work in is in the middle of its annual summer shutdown (cleaning, repairs, etc. - we do this every year around July 4th and Christmas). The atmosphere is much more relaxed, the hours are shortened, and it's a good way to get back into the groove of things.

This coming weekend will be spent getting ready for the coming Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic. We'll be stopping by the park, the MFF storage unit, and probably buying some last-minute supplies. Now that we know we can rent the grills and tables from the park, life will be MUCH less complicated! I'm really looking forward to the picnic.
duncandahusky: (huskyface)
So Anthrocon came and went last weekend.

I won't be writing a full report because, honestly, it would be pretty boring. Also, Friday-Sunday would be repetitive: "Went to work in Artists Alley. Worked for 12-14 hours. Grabbed dinner. Went to bed." And I want to stress, I'm not saying that working 12-14 hours every day was a badge of honor. Actually, it was pretty stupid. I didn't have enough staff (as usual). I didn't feel comfortable leaving the Alley during the day, even though I had excellent support from Rooth, my second in command. And I didn't have the energy to really go anyplace else by the end of the weekend. All of that aside, though, the Alley was a huge success, processing over $63,000 for the artists over the course of the weekend (up from $55,000 last year).

Anyway, I do want to put together some bullet points about the convention:

  • Rooth is amazing. He put up with my stressing out, continued to be a quick study when it comes to all things technological, and was in general an excellent friend. I leave Artists Alley in his hands knowing it will not only continue to succeed, it will improve year after year. And the going-away gift of a 30-minute professional massage on Sunday was exactly what I needed.

  • The Artists Alley and Con Store staff: Baja, Delphi, Drittauge, Ford, Geemo, Shy Matsi, Stevie, Wag!, Anita (Giza's Mom), and Gimpy Dave. You are the reason that Artists Alley and Con Store ran as well as it did, and I cannot begin to thank you enough. The work schedule was tough this year, and I know many people wound up working more hours than they would have liked. I am sure Rooth will make sure that doesn't happen again next year. I am beyond gratified that so many of you plan to come back next year. I consider it a privilege to count you all as friends.

  • Dinner at The Sharp Edge was a mixed bag - Excellent friends, decent food, abominable service. In hindsight, I wish we'd chosen to go to Sonoma Grille on Sunday night instead, but the company more than made up for it.

  • Roho and Genet, and their roommates Tarin and Nyuni were great - even though they were not staff, they volunteered to help out with the Artists Alley lottery. More importantly, not only did Roho and Genet help carry some of our stuff to and from the con, they provided me with a much-needed oasis of sanity (and excellent beer) in their room. Thanks, guys!

  • And then there's Takaza. It goes without saying that he was helpful and supportive, but this was on top of his own insanity running the Finance office. He was sweet enough to make sure I ate lunch each day and to look in on me during the day. All of this while working until 3:00 AM each night (and he still has a couple of days worth of work to do to get everything reconciled before July 15th).



After nine years of working Artists Alley, I leave Anthrocon with the same feeling I had when I turned over Registration at Midwest FurFest: It was a fascinating and enjoyable logistical problem that I would like to think that I and my team solved, and left things in a far better state than they were when I came in. It is definitely something I am done with, though, and have no desire to ever do again.

As I have mentioned, we will not be at Anthrocon next year. Instead, we will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our commitment ceremony with a cruise to Alaska (want to join us? Here's more information). Since I only have so much vacation, something has to give - that thing being Anthrocon. After next year? Hard to say. We've been talking about a trip to Europe, you see :-)

And so Anthrocon is in the books for us. Now we can look ahead to the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic in just a few weeks, a trip to Ann Arbor in August, and of course our trip to Montreal in September. Oh, and some convention or another in November. That will come with time, though...
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
And welcome to Anthrocon OMG last minute countdown for [livejournal.com profile] takaza and me. I need to remember to check in for our flights just before leaving work today. We drop off Buddy at Dan's mom's place tonight, and finish up our last bit of packing after that. Tomorrow, we both work a half-day, then it's off to Milwaukee for our 4 PM flight. We get into Pittsburgh at 6:30 PM, and should be at the Westin by 8 PM.

As for the rest of my time at Anthrocon, since everyone else is detailing their schedule:
Thursday
7 AM - 9 AM - Breakfast someplace. Maybe Deluca's, or someplace on The Strip?
9 AM - 6 PM - Setup Artists Alley and Con Store in Hall B. Bored? Stop by! I can always use the help :-)
6 PM - 9:30 PM - Dinner plans are hazy. I'm not sure what we're doing, but we'll figure it out along the way.
9:30 PM - 10:30 PM - Staff meeting

Friday - Sunday
These days are all pretty much the same. Get up early, work in Hall B until around 8 PM. Take short breaks. Hope I can find time for food.
Each night I hope to get together with friends and relax. I won't be looking for big social functions, but nice, small, quiet gatherings.

Monday
After an uncomfortably late meeting, we'll be flying out at 2:30 PM. I hope we make our flight.

It's a good thing I took next Tuesday off to recuperate...oh wait, I didn't because I don't have enough vacation time. Crap. Ah well...
duncandahusky: (Brain Damaged)
Yep, we're down to the pre-convention head-in-a-fog period where I post even less than I usually do. We're trying to keep things moderately low-key as we lead up to Anthrocon, which is just seven days away (for us, anyway). That doesn't mean we're sitting in darkened rooms all by ourselves, though...

On Friday after work [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I had a bit of shopping to do in McHenry, then wandered around a bit through Bull Valley (my gosh, that's a beautiful area!) before winding up in Woodstock. We had dinner at La Petite Creperie. We eschewed crepes for their more formal dinner menu which was...something of a mixed bag. I felt strongly enough that I wrote up a review on Yelp, giving them 2 out of 5 stars. We'd go back, but only for the crepes.

Saturday we worked around the house a bit, then drove up to Antioch to visit with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. It was a pleasant evening, nice and laid back (though clearly we hadn't had enough mind-altering substances to fully appreciate "Sita Sings the Blues" :-) On Sunday was spent working on Anthrocon stuff and generally just puttering around the house. Not a bad thing at all!

This brings me to the specter hanging over our heads right now - Anthrocon. It was with a bit of astonishment that I realized last week that I've been working in the Artists Alley at Anthrocon for the last nine years, and been in charge of it for the last seven years. Dan started in the Alley with me, then graduated to write the at-convention newsletter, then to create and run the Finance Office. Nine years is a long time, and we have both reached the point where we are burned out and it just isn't fun anymore. It's an insane amount of work to run these departments, and I know that at least for me serving as chairman of Midwest FurFest was easy compared to the time spent preparing for and running Artists Alley.

Don't get me wrong - I've enjoyed my time managing Artists Alley. I have gotten to work with some really wonderful people, and as I wrap up my final year on Anthrocon staff I leave knowing that the Alley is in excellent hands. [livejournal.com profile] rooth, my second-in-command is taking over the position from me, and I have every confidence he will do an excellent job. We haven't always agreed on philosophical matters, but that's a good thing - it's good to challenge and understand why we do what we do. He's got a great head for logistics, and between us I think that we've created a pretty awesome purchasing system in the Alley. And I know he has a ton of new ideas that will be implemented over the next few years that will make the Alley even better.

As for us? We'll be giving Anthrocon a miss next year, I'm afraid. We're planning on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our commitment ceremony; I only have two weeks of vacation, and the cruise is going to consume a large chunk of that. We'll still be active with Furry Connection North and Midwest FurFest, though, and the many and various smaller events throughout the year!
duncandahusky: (Default)
We've got a bit of a crisis in the Anthrocon Artists Alley/Con Store and we need YOUR help! Through no fault of their own, we have lost three experienced and hard-working staffers this year, creating a huge hole in our staffing. I need your help! I need folks who don't mind giving up 4-5 hours of their day each day during the convention, between 9 AM until 6 PM. You would be running a cash register and helping to staff either the Artists Alley or the Con Store. The duties are well-documented and easy to learn.

What do you get in exchange? Well, that's the good part. You'll get FREE admission to Anthrocon, easy registration (bypass the huge lines!), a free T-Shirt, and a free delicious dinner on Sunday night. Additionally, you'll get to work with some really fun and amazing people and enjoy a great feeling of accomplishment when the convention is over.

I need at least three people, and four or five would be even better. If you know someone who might be interested, send them my way as well! If this sounds like something you might enjoy, you can comment on this post or e-mail me directly at alley-2010@anthrocon.org. Thanks!

-Duncan
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
Let's pick up with Friday... )
Saturday...and fireworks! )
Sunday )

Still to come: The trip home, thanks, and final thoughts.
duncandahusky: (huskyface)
I've mentioned this before, but some folks have asked why I write up such long and detailed convention reports. The biggest reason is so that I have something to look back on in future years to remind me of what went wrong, what went right, and how to make each year better than the last. Granted, as some might have gathered this year's Anthrocon wasn't as great for me as past years have been. I'll come to that in a bit, but let's start with:

Monday )
Tuesday )
Wednesday )
Thursday )
Still to come: The convention starts! Sushi, fireworks, and exhaustion.
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
What a long, strange trip it's been. Well, long, strange, stressful, at times unpleasant, and physically painful. With a few pleasant times thrown in, though not nearly enough.

But after all that, we're home, safe and sound. The house is cooling down so I'll likely be up for a while yet. Dan doesn't have to work tomorrow, the lucky sod, but I'll be up at 5 AM. Egad. Lots to talk about, but it'll have to wait a few days.
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Right, one last real post before I fall down the rabbit hole...

The weekend started with a bang as [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I met some of the western suburbs crowds for drinks and dinner at The Bank in Wheaton. We had an awesome time, and it was a real hoot chatting with Patrick, the chef there. I had the antelope appetizer, served on fried plantains. It was extremely tasty! And the pistachio gelato in espresso for dessert was amazing. The company was outstanding as well. We had to leave far too early, but that 5 AM wakeup call takes a toll on you on late Friday nights.

Saturday I had to work. yay. I was in longer than I had intended, but got a good bit of work done. When I got home, Dan and I ran some errands and did some pre-Anthrocon shopping. Sunday was spent doing more prep work (printing paperwork, setting up the Artists Alley cash register programming, and putting the finishing touches on some policies). We still have a few things to do between now and when we leave, but I'm feeling pretty good about things.

And back to work I go...

Updata

Jun. 11th, 2009 08:36 am
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Whoa, what a crazy week. Work has had me slammed all week, and it will probably be more of the same into next week. Still, it's manageable, just doesn't leave a lot of time for things like LiveJournal updates.

Waaay back on Friday we met up with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph to see the Pride Edition of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. It was a fun show, though not one of their best overall. We still had a good time. Afterward we walked over to Big Jones for what turned out to be a really enjoyable dinner. We worked our way through their cocktails menu, and my shrimp and grits was fabulous (if this sounds weird, imagine the grits being served more like polenta). Dan's country fried steak was tasty as well, up to Heaven on Seven standards.

Saturday was pretty low-key. I went in to work in the morning, then that afternoon we had Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet over for dinner. We grilled up some steaks, chatted a good bit, sampled some mighty fine beers, and played the new Boom Blox game. And Sunday? On Sunday we didn't do anything - just stayed in and relaxed. That was nice.

This week has been busy on the housing front. The home inspection for the new place was on Tuesday, and everything looked pretty good. There are a couple of exterior GFCI outlets that need to be replaced, but we'll have the seller take care of that prior to closing. I'll be meeting with our mortgage broker today at lunch to sign off on paperwork and hopefully secure as good a rate as possible.

Last night we got the letter we'd been expecting, a Notice of Motion to the Court of Lake County setting a trial date for the foreclosure of the townhouse we're living in. The good news is that this is just another step in a long process, and the bank won't take over the property for at least another four or five months - we'll be long gone by then. The other good news is that in lieu of refunding our security deposit, our landlord told us we don't have to pay rent in August. This is awesome!

In the meantime, planning is still going ahead full steam for the Midwest FurFest Summer Picnic, which right now has about 100 RSVP's. Yikes! We'll definitely have free strip steak for everyone (and some chicken breasts for non-beef-eaters); I'm working with a local caterer to figure out what the sides and desserts will be. I'll be posting the menu next week as soon as we get it locked down.

And finally, there's Anthrocon looming large on the near horizon. I need to deal with some items on my to-do list for that this weekend, and make sure that everything is ready to go. One advantage to having done this for so many years is that I've got lots of notes about things that need to be done before the convention. That will definitely save my sanity (what little I have left). OK, back to the grind!
duncandahusky: (License)
Holy cow, where did the week go? Things have been crazy for me at work all week, which leaves little time to update (write stuff at home? why would I do that? :-)

Anyway, as [livejournal.com profile] takaza mentioned, we went to Pittsburgh last weekend. Short version: good trip, useful stuff accomplished, things are on track for July.

Click here for the long version )

I was sad that we had to miss Furp's funeral last weekend, but we were unfortunately stuck with nonrefundable tickets to Pittsburgh. I'm glad that we were able to call in and share a virtual toast with those who were back in Wisconsin, at least. Speaking of regrets, this weekend is the Dorsai Thing; we had hoped to attend, but lack of funds is a bit of barrier, as is the knife skills class I have on Sunday morning. I look forward to seeing many of our DI friends at Furry Connection North next month, though.
duncandahusky: (huskyface)
Yep, you can start reserving at the Westin and Doubletree on October 6 (no Omni this year - they're booked up with a Mensa convention). There are some caveats, though; for more information, see this post in the Anthrocon community.
duncandahusky: (Bruno)
Alas, all good things must come to an end.
Sunday: Last day of the con )
Monday: Meetings and the drive home )
The Wrapup: Final thoughts )
So this wraps up Anthrocon stuff for me. Now it's time to start thinking about plans for Midwest FurFest...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
So, it's been one day since the convention "officially" started. Picking up on Saturday morning...
Saturday: Alley and Party! )
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Friday: It's Showtime! )
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
So let's pick up with the Anthrocon report where we left off, on Thursday morning.
Thursday - Set-Up Day! )
duncandahusky: (License)
Yes, it's time for another one of Duncan's exhaustive, verbose Anthrocon reports! This is the personal report; I have the "official" department report outlined. I'll get that written up and posted by the end of the week.

I'll preface this by saying that my Anthrocon reports (both personal and departmental) are long and detailed. This is mainly for my own benefit, as it's very handy to look back just before the convention at past reports for reminders of what we did in prior years, what worked, what didn't, and handy things like which pizza joints were good and which were not. Feel free to read along, though!
Preparations and Tuesday - The Drive Out )
Wednesday - Candy! And Arriving in Pittsburgh )
Next...Thursday - Convention set-up and a tasty dinner!
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
We rolled in about an hour ago. Unpacked what needed to be unpacked, and we're relaxing now. [livejournal.com profile] takaza is blessed with more vacation each year so he's taking tomorrow off. Lucky me, I get to go in to work tomorrow. It's gonna be a long day.
duncandahusky: (License)
Anthrocon was a huge success. $40,000 paid out to artists in Artists Alley. All that preparation, worrying, and stress paid off as the Alley worked flawlessly. My staff was top-notch and I spent the weekend much more relaxed than in past years.

We're already making plans for next year, of course. The biggest change: Never mind Hall C, we're going to be in Hall B. That's twice the size of Hall C. Great googly moogly. Rooth and I have worked up a short (ha!) list of improvements for next year, too.

We left Pittsburgh at 1 PM ET; we're just east of Toledo now. With luck we'll be home by 9 PM CT.

Thanks so much to everyone who made this such a great year. Exhaustively detailed report(s) to follow, naturally.

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