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: (It's BACON!)
Oh my, was Furry Connection North a blast!

All the details lie below the cut )
So that was the con. We had an amazing time, and I'm really looking forward to going back next year. FCN is a great convention because of its staff, and they are an amazing group of smart, conscientious people. Gir and Nik are the most visible, and they knock themselves out to make sure everyone has a good time. Also, fine folks like Eddikat, Ed Hyena, Deyna Otter, Basil, Savant, Takaza, Giza, the Dorsai Irregulars, and so many others who I simply didn't get a chance to see (or am stupidly forgetting) help to make FCN the excellent convention that it is. If you haven't gone, you really should - it's a great convention, a great party, and a whole lot of fun.
duncandahusky: (buddy)
We had some impressive thunderstorms roll through last night. While Buddy had been pretty much unaffected by storms that had come through earlier in the day, something about storms in the middle of the night freaked him out. He wound up crawling up on the bed between me and [livejournal.com profile] takaza and shivering and panting for a while, until he calmed down. Unfortunately he kept shifting around and waking me up, so I was a meanie and evicted him from the bed (hey, I had to get up and go to work in the morning, he didn't). He was OK, though - he curled up into a ball right next to the bed on the floor and seemed to weather the rest of the night without incident.

As for what else is going on, this is a short week for us since we're taking off Friday (and the following Monday) to attend Furry Connection North. Dan has been helping with their publications (as have I, in small places) and although we were supposed to help [livejournal.com profile] perro move on Saturday, we instead wound up spending most of the day at home as Dan put the finishing touches on the Restaurant Guide. It worked out OK, though, since that allowed us to pick up my car from the dealership (60,000 mile service + new brakes) and do some shopping at Woodman's in Kenosha for exotic Wisconsin sodas.

On Sunday we invited [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet over for a low-key dinner and to watch The Amazing Race. Dinner was marinated skirt steak grilled and made into fajitas. The ripe avocados that we added to the fajitas were excellent and really propelled them over the top. We'll be making those again!

Looking ahead to the coming week, we have stuff to take care of tonight in preparation for the convention (cleaning my car's interior, for example, including getting the nose prints off the windows :-) Tomorrow night we'll drop Buddy off at Dan's mom's place, where she is going to watch Buddy and Roho & Genet's Samoyed, Brianna. This will be in addition to her 8-week old Rottweiler puppy, Bailey, and Bud the three-legged cat. I think she's going to have her hands full! But it should all work out.

We leave for the outskirts of Detroit right after work on Thursday. We're expecting to roll into the convention hotel at around 10:30 PM or so, and will likely collapse not long afterward. It should be a busy convention for me since I will be working in Operations. Dan will be busy as well, working in a behind-the-scenes role similar to what his mom did at Midwest FurFest. We've also got a party and a dinner planned for the convention; those should be a blast as well.

Come on Thursday, get here soon! I'm ready to hit the road...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
It's Wednesday already? I suppose I should write up our fantastic weekend before it completely goes out of my head. Furry Connection North was a great convention - we had a wonderful time!

Thursday: Evening entertainment, then we hit the road )
Friday: Tasty lunch, then FCN! )
Saturday: A challenge! Awesome dinner, and a great party )
Sunday: Up waaaay too early, time to hit the road )
All in all, it was a really enjoyable weekend, and a great convention. We had fun hanging out with the Dorsai Irregulars and helping out with security. I want to give a huge shoutout to Gir and his staff: Eddie, Ed, Nik, Kit, Deyna, Jazzy, Omni, Oddy, Stevie, Basil, and many others who I didn't have the good fortunate to meet. I know you were a little shorthanded this year, but if I hadn't known that ahead of time I never would have guessed. You should all rest up and relax - you did a fantastic job, and really have created a convention to be proud of!
duncandahusky: (License)
In two and a half hours I'm out of here, and ready to start our vacation. I'm so ready for it, too.

Last night I re-torqued my back (I had hurt it earlier in the week) and just couldn't get comfortable in bed. I wound up getting up to take some Ibuprofen and didn't get back to bed until a little before 1 AM. Couple that with the alarm going off at 5 AM and yeah, I'm dragging a bit today. If this is a problem tonight, I'm absolutely hitting the Flexeril.

Speaking of tonight, it's going to be busy. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I are packing the car for Furry Connection North when we get home from work, then it's over to the movie theater at Gurnee Mills to see This American Life Live! with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet. After that wraps up at around 9 PM, we'll be driving to Mishawaka, Indiana, spend the night, then head up to the hotel in Novi, Michigan on Friday. We expe

We'll be at FCN until mid-Sunday afternoon, and should be leaving for home at around 3 PM. I'm looking forward to a fun convention, some great company, good food, and entertaining parties. Rumor has it they're looking at around 650 folks this year, and I'm not surprised - it's a great convention, and I know the whole staff has worked really hard to live up to the great reputation they earned their first year, last year. It's going to be a blast!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Busy times over the past few days. Last Thursday we met with [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph for some MFF stuff, followed by a thoroughly unpleasant dinner at Ram Brewery (stupidly crowded, stupidly loud, and mediocre food). Friday night we joined [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus for a delightful dinner at [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's featuring chicken tikka masala and homemade naan - yummy! Saturday I worked in the morning, then [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I did some shopping, including finally ordering a console for our sectional sofa - hopefully that'll be here by Memorial Day! And on Sunday, we spent the day with Dan's family.

Not much going on this week, though. I'm dabbling with possible hotels and restaurants for our trip out to Iowa (in early June, maybe?). On various people's advice, I'm looking at Iowa City, but we'll see how that works out. Also, last night we nailed down our travel plans next week for Furry Connection North. After going to see This American Life Live! on Thursday night in Gurnee, we'll be driving down to scenic Mishawaka, IN, where we'll arrive way late and spend the night (yay free hotel room!). Then on Friday we'll hit the road at a reasonable hour and arrive in Ann Arbor just in time to pick up lunch at Zingerman's Deli. From there we'll head over to the FCN hotel in Novi.

Dan and I will both be working Security, so we'll be all over the place during the convention. Depending on our security scheduling, I'm hoping to be able to hit Zingerman's Roadhouse for dinner on Saturday, perhaps followed by a celebration of libations (look for a more specific posting about that soon).

Then there's Memorial Day coming up - we're expecting a house full of people, and we have a lot of projects that we want to get done before then. You know, all those cleaning projects that normal people wouldn't worry about but I actually fret about ("floss between cracks in banister") :-) Lots of stuff to do!
duncandahusky: (Default)
It's been a completely insane week at work and I've been so exhausted when I got home I haven't been up to writing anything. Thank heavens for LoudTwitter, eh?

Anyway, I did want to mention one very important thing: Online registration for Furry Connection North ends at midnight tonight! If you haven't already, you should really go and register now. It'll give Gir and Nik and all of those fine folks warm fuzzies :-) FCN is a great convention! We'll be there, and you should be too. Hope to see you there!

(Oh yeah, and did I mention something about a party at FCN? One of those might just be happening...)
duncandahusky: (Alton)
And now...the rest of the story.

As I mentioned, the convention this weekend was quite a different experience for me. For one thing, I learned something that apparently other people do when they go to conventions. Yes, I...left the convention! I actually set foot outside of the hotel while the convention was taking place. This was a new and fascinating thing for me, something that I very rarely have had time to do when working Anthrocon or Midwest Furfest. So what did I do?

It all gets summed up in four words: I am Zingerman's bitch. You're going to be hungry after you read this... )
duncandahusky: (Amused)
Furry Connection North. It was a weekend so big it's going to need two posts to cover it!

First off, let's talk about the convention. From everything that I saw, [livejournal.com profile] girtygrin and his staff did an outstanding job. All of the staff was extremely cordial and friendly. Things ran on time (if not early!). The sponsor lounge was very good, and the complimentary beer (Bell's Amber Ale and Oberon) was excellent. All in all, they can give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. Speaking personally, I really appreciate that Gir went out of his way to make our experience a pleasant one.

So that meant that I had a great time at the convention, right? Well...not so much. I can't stress this enough, though: this is absolutely no fault of FCN or anyone associated with it. As I have suspected all along, if I go to a convention and I'm not volunteering in some fashion, I'm bored. It's how I'm wired, I guess, but there it is. I think I needed to recalibrate my approach to conventions a bit, and by the end of the weekend I was doing a lot better. I was a lot more outgoing and social, and I met a lot of new people and got to spend time with folks who I don't often see. It was a real pleasure to spend more time with [livejournal.com profile] tervicz and to make the acquaintance of [livejournal.com profile] jet_der_hund. I also had a blast hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] huskydoggeh, [livejournal.com profile] kodi_pup, [livejournal.com profile] dexcat, Dexgirl, and of course all the usual gang of miscreants from Chicago and Chambana.

The hotel...yeah, the hotel. We had been to the Best Western Executive Plaza for Dorsai Thing last year, so we knew what to expect. Then, and this weekend, we stayed in the "tower", which was the newer side of the hotel; our suite had a bit of an odd odor to it and the furnishings were somewhere well past "worn out". I hadn't realized though that the other parts of the hotel were quite so...grim. The lack of air conditioning would have killed me, and there was unfortunately a litany of other complaints as well. The reviews on TripAdvisor pretty much sum things up. Also, [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff hit it on the head: "This was probably a fantastic hotel - in 1984." Granted, the costs were reasonable and it enabled a first-year convention to get its feet under it, so it definitely served its purpose.

So, what did I do to fill the time this weekend? Well, that'll have to wait for the next post.
duncandahusky: (License)
But thank heavens, we're not leaving on a jet plane!

We are, however, leaving in a Honda Element. [livejournal.com profile] takaza has practiced his usual packing-fu and squeezed the ridiculous amount of stuff that we're bringing to Furry Connection North into a small enough space that the passenger will still be able to stretch out and sleep in the car if so inclined. Our alarm will be going off at 4:15 AM tomorrow and we'll be on the road within 30 minutes of that. The idea is to get a jump on the sure-to-be-crappy traffic (rain+thunderstorms+rush hour traffic=hating life) and also to get in to the con before Dan has a conference call for work at 10 AM CDT, since riding in a car with an uncertain cellular signal is suboptimal for such things. But hey, on the bright side, we'll be there for Opening Ceremonies!

Now, to go fold one last load of laundry and watch last night's Top Chef before going off to bed. Hope to see many of our friends at FCN!
duncandahusky: (Oh really?)
Well, I'm not cheering as much as [livejournal.com profile] takaza, who took off this afternoon to go see the Cubs play. If it were 80 degrees on a nice late-spring day, maybe - 47 degrees and 15 mph winds coming in off the lake, not so much. Still, I hope he's having a good time as I write this. The good news is that since I worked last Saturday my boss was nice enough to give me next Friday off, which means an earlier start to Furry Connection North for us. We'll probably take off just after morning rush hour, and get to Ann Arbor at around 2:30 PM or so. We're looking forward to it!

So as I mentioned earlier, on Wednesday Dan and I decided to go out for dinner and try Lindy's Landing in Wauconda. Not only did their specials look good, but they have NTN! They were in the middle of a poker tournament on NTN when we got there, but the staff was nice enough to turn one of their many TV's to the NTN Trivia channel for us. The food was OK - the fried wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks were a pleasantly crunchy diversion from the usual, and the garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli that came with my meatloaf were tasty. Alas, the meatloaf itself was rather tasteless and covered up by a spicy barbecue sauce (?!) that masked whatever flavor there might have been. Dan's pizza was to his liking, at least. I was impressed that when I ordered a 23 ounce Fat Tire Ale, I was told that they were out of tall glasses so the waitress just gave me two pint glasses - all for three bucks! We'll
definitely be going back.
The only other item of note from this week was the surprising revelation that I can actually find a frozen entree that isn't completely nasty! Garden Fresh Market carries a line of frozen Indian from SWAD Foods. I picked up the mutter paneer a few weeks back and finally got around to making it. I made up some white rice and served it with the mutter paneer and...wow! Excellent flavor, and a surprising spiciness that I'm not used to from a frozen entree. I'll definitely be picking up a few more of these entrees to keep in the freezer.

Plans for this evening are kind of hazy. Depending on how the afternoon goes for him, I may go into the city and meet Dan or I may just hang out at home. As for the weekend, the plans we had for Saturday night fell through, so we're kind of at loose ends. We'll see what develops!
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
Now that was a nice, low-key weekend. On Saturday I came into work at about 9 AM and worked until around 2 PM before heading home. It's not that I had anything too urgent, it's more that the boss is very cool about comp time and I'm hoping to take a half or full day off on Friday the 11th so we can head out earlier for FCN. I could probably get away with asking for a full day at this point but I may come in for a few hours next Saturday morning just to seal the deal. It doesn't hurt to be seen coming in on weekends, either, since so few in my department do it (excepting the boss).

After I got home, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I talked a bit, then decided to run some errands. We went over to Target and picked up some things for the house (including a spiffy new clock radio), as well as some grocery items. Just to try something different for dinner Dan tried making chicken egg and cheese biscuits; unfortunately, the flavor of the sautéed chicken was eclipsed by everything else. But hey, it was an interesting experiment. We enjoyed the rest of the evening watching accumulated episodes of "Chuck" on our Tivo.

Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus came up to hang out. We ran some errands, which including getting some supplies for our party at FCN, then rented a couple of movies from a nearby Redbox (which is a pretty slick deal!). We picked up Monster House and The Queen. We went home, ordered pizza and put on Monster House. It was...wow. I can see why the reviews on Metacritic range from 30 to 98 out of 100. I would say this movie is too scary and intense for kids, but too schlocky for adults. I'm glad we didn't pay full price, but at least I didn't feel like I wasted the time spent watching it. Linnaeus had to head home shortly after the movie; I suppose we'll eat the late fee (ooh, another dollar!) and watch The Queen tonight.

No real plans for this week, though who knows what might pop up. I would really like to get back into the habit of getting together with folks during the week to break up the monotony a bit, but being way out in the suburbs can be somewhat limiting in that regard. We'll have to see what we can put together - maybe more NTN one night or something.
duncandahusky: (Default)
Did you know that there's a brand-new furry convention in Michigan next month? Furry Connection North will be in Ann Arbor, MI, from April 11-13, 2008. Registration and room rates are very reasonable, and it should be a whole lot of fun! But here's the deal: Pre-registration ends tomorrow, March 11, at midnight! Sure, you can register at the door, but if you read my journal chances are you understand when I say that pre-registration is a Good Thing - it helps the convention organizers know how many people will be coming, and allows them to plan accordingly. I expect that there will be 300+ folks at the first FCN; you should be one of them!

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