duncandahusky: (Brain Damaged)
Oh my goodness, what a convention. It scares me to think that Midwest FurFest 2011 was my 12th MFF - twelve years of doing this. Yikes.

This was also my second year working as Hotel Liaison with the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. In one sense it was easier but in another it was a little more difficult - I knew the lay of the land and what my proper role should be, however a few months before the convention we were surprised by the sudden resignation of our hotel contact (to go to the Hyatt Regency Woodfield, ironically). Our new contact, Matt, was promoted from Meeting Concierge (who work with meeting organizers the day of the meetings to make sure they have what they need) to Convention Services Manager (who work with meeting organizers before and during the convention to nail down all of the little details).

I won't lie - I made Matt earn his keep, but he did very well. I filled his inbox with emails and lists (and lists, and lists of lists). He put up with me and my special OCD tendencies, and I think that between us we totally rocked the convention preparations. There's still plenty of room for improvement, mainly in convention preparations and scheduling stuff that the average attendee never sees, but I'm sure that we'll do even better next year.

I know better than to try to list things day by day, because honestly by now it's all a blur. What did my days consist of? Up at 7 AM, shower, check emails and monitor Twitter/Facebook. 8 AM, check with Security and other departments to make sure no one burned down the hotel overnight. Check in with Gir or Cheetah to make sure they were good for their shift. 9 AM - 10 AM, morning meeting over breakfast with chairman and staff leads to discuss any convention-wide issues or problem children. Check social media again, respond to any queries/issues there. Hit the floor and start the rounds of the hotel, checking in various parts of the con and making sure everyone was happy. Put in a shift or two as Hotel staff on call. Check social media. Get lunch around 3 PM, typically a quick bite from the staff lounge. Roam some more, check social media, then a real dinner. Go off duty around 7 or 8 PM (unless I was on call for the night). That about sums it up.

I had two fine folks helping me out in this craziness: Gir and Cheetah. This was Cheetah's first year on Hotel staff and Gir's second, and both of them did utterly fantastic jobs. It is awesome to know that I have people whose judgment I trust and I can utterly rely on to just make it all work. And it doesn't hurt that they're both awesome friends!

Somewhere in the middle of all of this (Friday night, to be specific), Dan and I celebrated the ten-year anniversary of our commitment ceremony with a Renewal of Vows and Civil Union ceremony (now that CU's are legal in the state of Illinois). It was an amazing event, with scores of our friends joining us. We had a beautiful cake for the occasion, and Matt from the Hyatt surprised us with a huge tub filled with ice and bottles of champagne. I know that several folks took video of the ceremony, and we have a ton of pictures to post as well. And after the whole event, we had one hell of a party! It was a great night for us both, and I was so glad to spend it with so many friends.

The rest of the convention went extremely well, and as always we succeeded in making our charity cry. The convention attendees raised around $6,000 for them, and the convention was able to add a check for $12,500 on top of that. I have to admit that I always love that part of Closing Ceremonies! Once the convention was all taken down and stowed for the night, we retired to our room for a final shindig where we welcomed a small number of friends to join us. Nothing too crazy, but a really nice way to wind things down.

So now we take a break, rest and recuperate. The ideas are already flowing for next year, and it's safe to say that I don't see us as a convention resting on our laurels any time soon.
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: (huskypuppy)
Right, so how did we spend the weekend?

On Friday, we went to bed early. Wasn't that exciting?

On Saturday, we bummed around the house in the morning, then headed down to Schaumburg to stay at the Amerisuites Schaumburg. You see, back at Midwest FurFest 2006, [livejournal.com profile] r_bear won a certificate good for one night at the Amerisuites at the charity auction, which he then presented to [livejournal.com profile] takaza. We were finally able to take advantage of his wonderful gesture this weekend, and had a nice, relaxing time there. We met up with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] aureth, and [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff at Big Bowl for dinner. The food was just delicious, and the two pitchers of sangria were pretty darned good too! It was a very enjoyable meal and I'm glad we could all get together. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and took advantage of the lovely swimming pool and hot tub before stumbling up to bed.

We took advantage of the tasty free breakfast at the Amerisuites before checking out on Sunday, heading right across the parking lot to the Hyatt for the Midwest FurFest board and staff meetings. Everyone has already seen the results of the board meeting. The staff meeting passed uneventfully, and there was some good discussion afterwards as well. The group got a late lunch/early dinner at Potbelly before heading out separate ways. Dan and I were exhausted and pretty limp Sunday evening, and we wound up heading off to bed a little before 9. This lingering cough is kicking my butt, and the cough syrup, while extremely effective, makes me quite fuzzy in the head, so early bedtimes are good to prevent any lingering morning fuzziness.

And here we are with a new week! We have a game night coming up later in the week, and on Wednesday I have an appointment with my doctor to discuss the results of my latest blood test (standard stuff), and what to do about the fact that I probably have enough cholesterol in my blood stream to make some butter. Not too much planned for this coming weekend (for all that I tried to talk Dan into driving to Pittsburgh on a whim), though I believe there is also a birthday get-together or two in the works. Big fun!
duncandahusky: (Erf?)
If you have not reserved your room for Midwest FurFest at the Hyatt, you will want to do that TODAY. Like, RIGHT NOW. Seriously.

EDIT @ 14:51 CDT: Don't say I didn't warn you. Unless [livejournal.com profile] takaza can shake any rooms loose, it's looking like the Hyatt is sold out for the night of Saturday, November 17. Watch for his posts on [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest on when the room block at our overflow hotel, the Amerisuites Schaumburg, will be opening up.
duncandahusky: (Default)
FYI: If you're attending Midwest FurFest and haven't reserved a room yet, check out this post in [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest for what options are available right now. The Hyatt and the Amerisuites are sold out, though rooms should be coming available at the Amerisuites in a couple of weeks when some other groups' underperforming room blocks are released.

Holy Cow!

Sep. 1st, 2006 12:06 pm
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
The Hotel Liaison for Midwest FurFest (aka my sexy and wonderful husband, [livejournal.com profile] takaza) tells me that our room block for this year is dwindling fast. How fast? Like double rooms selling out within the next week or so fast. Once those are gone, there won't be any more! There's still king rooms available (for now) but I expect those will be going fast as well.

If you haven't reserved your hotel room for MFF, DO IT NOW! Remember that you can't reserve online - you'lll need to call in; the info is on the hotel page of the MFF website.

Edited at 12:38 PM: edit for clarity - sorry for the confusion.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Man, you know it's getting time to post in your journal when your mom complains about she hasn't read anything new there lately ;-)

Well, on Saturday we started out by taking [livejournal.com profile] takaza's mom to lunch for her birthday. I understand that she's just happy to spend time with us, but I admit that I'm used to making a bit more of a to-do over such things; she was just fine with us going to Steak and Shake, which she'd never been to before. Dan and I grew up with very different family dynamics. Neither is better or worse than the other, but sometimes it can be a bit weird. We had fun, though, and it was a pleasant lunch. Afterwards we went to [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's place and had a fun evening with them and [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] feren, [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. A surprisingly small amount of alcohol was consumed, and we all were feeling pretty tired before midnight even rolled around. Ah well.

Sunday began with the traditional trip to Las Vegas Restaurant, where I had their always-fabulous Las Vegas skillet. From there we headed back into the city and lazed around the house for a while. For dinner, Dan and I tried to come up with something new and different to do with the large amount of fresh corn that we purchased. Dan cut the kernels off the cobs, then I sautéed up some garlic and added the corn to the pan. A little salt, a little pepper, some paprika, and...bleah. It's not often that our culinary experiments go awry, but this one was to neither of our liking; the sweetness of the corn was a weird match for the garlic, and while the paprika started to bridge the gap, it just wasn't enough.

Monday and Tuesday were unremarkable, except that the weather cooled down enough to make going outside actually a pleasant prospect. I took the bus down to Lincoln Square and spent about an hour and a half outside of The Grind reading The Reader and enjoying a tasty blueberry smoothie. the weather was nice enough (low 70's and low humidity) that I decided to walk back. My stroll took me past Kempf Plaza where tango tunes from the 40's and 50's were being played on a tinny speaker while older couples danced around the plaza (please pardon my lousy cameraphone quality). I had to stop for a while and enjoy the music and the spectacle - it was a magical thing on a cool summer evening. The rest of the walk home, the music played in my head and provided a moody background to the quiet neighborhoods.

When I called Dan after work on Wednesday he mentioned that parking was going to be limited on the street in front of [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's place for the next four days while they re-pave, so we decided that it would be better for him to just leave his car at work and we can car-pool for a few days. After I picked him up, we drove over to the Renaissance Schaumburg and Convention Center to check them out. They just opened the place six weeks ago, and they're still a bit rough around the edges (missing signage, lights missing on the elevators, wallpaper edges still showing a bit). Once they get everything ironed out, though, the place is going to be nothing short of amazing. And huge, too! I'll be curious to compare that against the still-under-construction Westin Lombard Yorktown Center once that is complete. (No one should read this as an indication that MFF is moving anywhere, but it's always good to know all of the available venues in the area.)

And so, tonight. Linnaeus is hosting a Happy Hour at The Red Lion, and I hope to make it to that. Hope to see some of y'all there!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Well, it's been a real up-and-down week. On Wednesday, I heard from [livejournal.com profile] takaza that things weren't going well at work. I skipped the gym and met him after work and we had a nice walk in a nearby park and talked some of his stress out. After that, we drove around a bit, exploring some of the northern burbs that we hadn't seen before, and then wound up at Old Orchard Mall where we splurged a bit for some not-bad hot cocoa and some excellent chocolates. I'd like to think that helped Dan a lot and made the rest of his week a little better. We capped off the evening with a nice episode of The Amazing Race, though we're bummed that the oldsters got bounced. They seemed like genuinely nice people.

Yesterday was relatively unexciting - work, then a cardio workout at the gym. Because of my knees, I'm sort of limited in the cardio I can do, so I vary between the treadmill and the recumbent stationary bike. If I ride the bike, I can definitely get my heart rate up, even though I top out at about twenty minutes and about 130 calories burned. If I use the treadmill I can go twenty-five minutes (and longer - I need to push that a bit) and that theoretically burns 320 calories or so, but my heart rate doesn't really get into the "cardio" range. I need to figure out how to better balance these. I'm alternating those with one day of shoulder and abdominals exercises and one day of arm and leg exercises; that seems to work pretty well, but I'm having a hard time sticking with the five-times-a-week schedule my doctor has suggested. Well, some is better than none, anyway.

This weekend we're rewarding Dan a bit for the two weeks from hell that he's had by spending it at the La Quinta in Hoffman Estates. It isn't all fun, though - we're checking out the hotel to make sure they're ready for Wuffmeet, and on Saturday we'll be scouting the FRAC course, taking pictures, making notes, and making evil plots :-) On Sunday we'll be hitting Sam's Club to check prices for food and drinks and play with budgeting a bit more. In between, though, we'll be doing a lot of relaxing, which I'm looking forward to.

Gotta get some work done, but look out for some links coming up this afternoon!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Saturday, the plans were simple: have lunch with [livejournal.com profile] takaza's mother to belatedly celebrate her 60th birthday. As a gift we were going to add some components to her computer and get everything running again. Sounds simple, right? Heh heh heh...

First, there was a trip to Cyberexchange in Vernon Hills to get a CD-RW. We had an external CD-RW that Dan got for free from work but it was a USB-driven unit and Dan's mom's computer is an older box running Windows 98, therefore all it has is slow USB 1.1. The CD-RW's they had in stock were too expensive and the owner was reluctant to take the CD-RW we had to trade (come to think of it, we still haven't heard back on how much he's willing to offer). Eh - we picked up a SoundBlaster Live card since her sound wasn't working either and resolved to figure out a way to get Win 98 to recognize the CD-ROM that was already in the computer. We arrived only a little late at 2:30 PM and proceeded to spend the next four and a half hours banging our heads against the wall trying to get everything up and running. It was frustrating, but in the end we got everything working! Of course, the birthday lunch had now turned into a birthday dinner, but that was OK.

Dinner was at a little Italian joint between Crystal Lake and McHenry. The food was OK but clearly...well, would it be too snobbish to say "It was good for McHenry County"? After dinner we headed back home, with a quick stop at Culver's. I had a taste for their lemon ice, but I was dismayed to find that they started making it with Splenda so now it has that nasty chemical aftertaste. Phooey! I settled for a concrete and we drove home, pausing briefly to admire the fireworks at Lakemoorfest on our way through the town.

Sunday, Dan wasn't feeling well, having had a bad reaction to the previous night's dinner (as had I, but that's because I was stupid and forgot that I should always take an antacid before bed after a dinner that has tomato sauce). We got a late start, but Dan, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, and I drove around the northwest suburbs scouting out hotels for an upcoming shindig. We found some good possibilities, but probably the most surreal moment was the tour of a certain hotel which shall remain nameless (hint: it rhymes with Schmingate Inn). The manager took great pride in his hotel, but there's such a thing as too much pride. We got a tour of the rooms, a description of the granite countertops, assurances that the furniture was sturdy, Canadian-made stuff, and the many and varied television stations they carried. And to top it all of, after we mentioned we had stayed at a sister location a few miles down the road: "I don't want to put them down or say we're better than them. I mean, they're friends of mine and we work together all the time. But we're really a much better property." Heh. Right. After that we retired back to the apartment and spent a relaxing evening watching Tivo and reading. And that was our exciting weekend, woo.

This week it looks like we're going to have some company over for dinner on Thursday (hopefully), and maybe do some touring around the city on Friday afternoon/evening. Saturday is IrishFest (I'll be posting more about that soon) and Sunday is the Midwest FurFest staff meeting at the Hyatt Woodfield. Lots to do!
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
Plans for Anthrocon are continuing apace. We're flying in on Thursday, July 7, arriving at PHL at about 11 AM. The train geek in me hopes it will be a nice day, not too hot, to we can take the SEPTA train in, but more likely we'll be taking a shuttle to the hotel. We'll be flying out on Monday afternoon.

An interesting note about the Wyndham Franklin Plaza: I know that Anthrocon didn't have a lot of choice in what hotel they got this year, and I know it's going to be a bit rocky. However, I was doing some research on tripadvisor.com and the reviews of the hotel are, ah, not good. Pretty bad, actually. Essentially, be prepared for an older hotel that, even though it had an update a few years back, clearly needs another one badly. From the reviews, it looks like the housekeeping service is spotty, but at least the customer service is generally good. As for restaurants, Shula's Steakhouse gets rave reviews on Citysearch, but be prepared to pay $25-35 for a steak there. The Terrace Restaurant, the other restaurant in the hotel, is pretty much what you would expect of a hotel restaurant: breakfast and lunch only, OK food, prices about half again what you might pay elsewhere.

Why do I say all this? I'm not trying to deter anyone from going, or even from staying in the hotel. To be honest, a lot of this is exactly what was seen at the Adam's Mark over the past few years. And besides, no one goes to Anthrocon to sample the delectable food in the hotel restaurant or to worry about getting their bed turned down every night - they go to see their friends and to have fun at the convention. And the hotel seems more than up to that. I guess what I'm trying to say is know what you're getting into, and adjust your expectations accordingly. Hey, it's a short-term solution, and next year will be much better.

The good news is that from what web-research I've been able to find, there's plenty of places within walking distance for food, and if you're driving then you're good to go. I highly recommend a trick that we found a few years back at the Adam's Mark after a long day of working the convention: get a couple of your friends together and order food in. It saves so much hassle and time, and you can spend more time with your friends. I plan to hit the concierge desk early on and grab a couple of delivery menus, if they have any.

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