duncandahusky: (Default)

Originally published at Tom Brady's Blog. Please leave any comments there.

Once upon a time there was (and still is) a science fiction convention in the Chicago suburbs called Duckon. At that convention, starting in the early 1990’s, a series of panels and events centered around the furry fandom was established; it became known as the Furry Track, one of several programming tracks at Duckon. Over the years, the Furry Track grew and grew, through the efforts of Robert King and many others, until those attending just for the Furry Track represented a good-sized chunk of the convention, several hundred people.

I moved to the Chicago area in 1998, and attended Duckon. I made a lot of great friends there, and got active in the local furry group, Lake Area Furry Friends (LAFF). After attending the convention, I piped up on the LAFF mailing list that with the success of the furry track, we had the momentum to start our own convention! I outlined a few different approaches we could take, and what might be necessary to start the organization. I was quickly told to shut the hell up, but only because there was a group of folks that was already well underway in planning just such a thing. (My now-husband Dan was part of this group; he remembers that email and wondering, “Who the hell is this guy? We’re already working on this!”)

That was in 1999. The rest is history. Midwest FurFest made its debut in 2000. In the years since, I’ve been Registration Director, Convention Chairman, and, since 2010, Hotel Liaison. I have been a member of the Board of Directors from the beginning, and besides Robert, I am the only other founding Board Member still serving. I have made many, many new friends, and unfortunately damaged and lost a few friendships along the way. I was fortunate enough to meet and fall in love with my dear husband. We celebrated our Commitment Ceremony on Sunday night of Midwest FurFest 2001, and our Renewal of Vows/Civil Union in 2011. Midwest FurFest has been the home of some of the happiest moments of my life, and I am incredibly proud of what we have created. An ever-growing attendance of 4,000+ is an endorsement of that creation.

Over the years, though, the time commitment has risen. What started as “Oh, it’s Labor Day – I suppose we should start planning the con” has become a 14+ month cycle of organizing an incredibly complicated organization that takes 200+ volunteer staffers and another 50-60 on-site volunteers. The last few years have had me working more on convention-related work than the work I’m paid to do in the last month before the convention. I’m spread thinly – not only am I the Hotel Liaison, but I am also the Social Media Manager, Webmaster, Department Lead with several departments reporting through me, and general guy-who-does-stuff-that-needs-doing. I’m not complaining, mind you – I undertook all of this willingly, and for the most part I enjoy what I do. I am proud that the convention Twitter account has a personality, and has a reputation for its sense of humor and responsiveness. I have an incredibly talented and dedicated Hotel Liaison staff who are all a genuine pleasure to work with.

After fifteen years, though, the time has come to say, “Enough.” The convention work is taking too much time out of my life, the worries and stresses from January to December are making me cranky and unpleasant to be around, and I feel like I’m not bringing much in the way of new ideas to the party. I need a break.

After this year’s Midwest FurFest, I’m stepping back. I’m resigning from the Board of Directors and I will not have a management position. I will not be a part of pre-convention planning. Am I going away? Absolutely not! The drive to create and to help is still there, but it needs to be redirected. Tentatively, I will be helping Dan as Assistant Guest of Honor Liaison next year. I hope to also act as a consultant where I can, providing some institutional knowledge when questions come up. And in the future…who knows? I may get more involved in Midwest FurFest, or another convention, or…the possibilities are endless. But it is time for a change now.

I hope to see many of our friends at this year’s convention, which for me starts in just a few hours, when I show up at the hotel. This is going to be an amazing year – the date change, though difficult, means that we have much more time to set up, and will result in a happier and more effective staff, which I believe will make for a better convention overall. Wish us luck!

duncandahusky: (Default)
(Copied from [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest)

It's now less than a month til Midwest FurFest! Time to start packing and planning! Of course, as you pack, you'll want to leave some extra space for all the loot you'll pick up at the Den, the Alley, and the Art Show. Rather than leaving that corner of your suitcase empty, why not turn it to a good cause - like cute fuzzy animals in need of rescue?

This year, Midwest Furfest's Charity Auction goes to benefit Kane Area Rehabilitation and Education for Wildlife (KARE for Wildlife). KARE has been helping Illinois wildlife since 1995. Every day, they work to rescue injured and orphaned members of Illinois's native species, such as foxes, coyotes and raccoons, as well as raptors. In addition, they are involved in local education and outreach, along with some of their non-releasable charges.

So how can your extra luggage space help KARE and the animals? Auction donations! That signed original fox piece that your boyfriend won't let you hang on the wall? The gorgeous handmade blanket that you never use since moving to Arizona? The skunk tail you don't feel right wearing since discovering your tiger side? All of these would find a great new home at Saturday's charity auction!

Don't have anything to donate? Come to the auction itself, and see if you can find something to pick up instead! Every year, the auction brings in unexpected, creative, incredible donations for our talented auctioneers to send home to new owners. Not sure if you'll be interested? Come for the show anyways - the banter is half the fun, and KARE will be there with some of their critters to cheer folks on. And don't forget to drop by the charity's table to meet Vicki, her volunteers, and the animals.

For details including donation instructions, rules, and more info on KARE, check the latest on the website Charity Page

See you all in November!

duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
My goodness, what a whirlwind of a weekend!

Friday: BBQ and DIY Ice Cream )
Saturday: Gone to the Dogs! )
Sunday: Time To Be Responsible And Such )

This week we have a good bit of stuff to do after work each day, leading up to Thursday, when we head out for Furry Connection North. I'm really looking forward to the convention; Gir, Nik, and all of the good folks at FCN have put a lot of hard work into this year's con, and I think it is going to show. I hope to see y'all there!
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: (Tom and Dan)
Wow, what an awesome weekend! And now that the time-consuming testing that has been killing me at work has wrapped up, I even have time to write about it.

First off, the important news: I'm engaged! Again! :-)

On Friday night, [livejournal.com profile] takaza gave me a lovely bunch of roses when he got home. We had invited [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet over for a small, quiet dinner. While I was cooking (meatloaf, which came out fabulous!), Dan reached into my pocket and took out my ring, saying he was concerned I'd lose it. I pointed out I take it off at work every day (the joys of working in GMP areas) so he shrugged and put it back in my pocket - or so I thought. When I took a break from the kitchen, I started looking around for my ring - it wasn't in my pocket! That's when Dan got down on one knee, pulled out an Altoid tin and opened it, revealing my ring, and asked me to marry him, again! In light of recent news from Iowa, we'll be driving over there in May or June on a Friday, get married, and spend a nice weekend there. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday I got an early start on things, dropping a good chunk of the old conbooks that have been in our garage in a local recycling bin and disposed of a futon that we've been dragging around for several years but getting relatively little use from. I also stopped by the Grayslake Farmers Market for its opening day, but there wasn't much of interest there, unfortunately. Afterwards, Dan and I spent the afternoon and evening working on some MFF stuff that, as [livejournal.com profile] aureth so obliquely put it, will become apparent in about seven and a half months :-)

Sunday was a good day to relax, as the weather outside turned to sleet and snow. We tried to install an overhead light in our living room, only to find that the wiring is wonky enough that we're better off leaving it as it is. The balance of the afternoon was spent watching Dollhouse and catching up on three episodes of Heroes (only five to go!).

As for this week, it looks like we're going to do dinner with a couple of wuffs at some point, but not too much planned beyond that. Oh, and maybe installing that light in the upstairs bathroom. Good times...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Well, after Anthrocon and a very trying week at work, racing against deadlines, we came to the weekend. What would one want to do to recover? Hey, how about relaxing at home? Or maybe going to the Chicago Pride Parade? Or catching the Pride edition of Too Much Light?

No, we called bingo games, drove to Wisconsin, and went to meetings. Logic? What's that?

On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I drove up to Vernon Hills for his company's summer picnic. Man, it's nice that he works for one of the few companies that isn't cutting costs to the bone these days. The picnic was open to all employees and their families, though this was the first year that they didn't offer free beer and wine (and attendance suffered somewhat, but not terribly). We were in charge of calling bingo games for two sessions, from 12:30 - 2 PM, then from 2:30 - 4PM. The organizers gave us a huge box of $25 gift cards to give away for everything from Jewel and Toys R Us to Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants and Wal Mart - probably close to $1,000 worth of cards total. Dan did some excellent pre-planning and made some signs that were a huge help, and although I'll admit I was a bit unsure about things at first eventually I did have a very fun time. We alternated, first calling two games, then walking among the audience, answering questions, and checking cards. I think we called about 30-40 games total, and had crowds that pushed 100 or so by the end of the day.

That was pretty fun, but it gets better. First, Dan won a door prize: a $25 Lettuce Entertain You gift card (mmm, that's two large, home-made apple strudels). They were holding a charity raffle to benefit Ronald McDonald House in which, among other things, they were giving away six Blackberrys. Dan took some of his leftover cash from Anthrocon and bought sixteen $5 tickets. As we were finishing up the last session of bingo, one of the organizers came over and told him he had won and gave him his prize...a 1 Gb iPod Nano. Which is all well and good, except that we both already have 30 Gb iPods. Dan ran into a cow-orker who mentioned that he had won $100 in gift cards to Best Buy; after some talking, they agreed to swap prizes, since the gift cards would be much more useful to us and the cow-orker's son really wanted an iPod. As we were driving away from the picnic, Dan opened the envelope and pulled out one $50 card, then another $50 card, then another, unmarked card! One call to Best Buy's automated number later, and we find that we actually have $150 in gift cards. Woo! To cap all of this off, after we helped last year we each got $40 in gift cards, so I'm assuming we'll be seeing something similar this year. It turns out that it was a very lucrative afternoon, plus I had a surprisingly good time.

After the picnic, we headed up to Milwaukee to have a going-away party for Straif ([livejournal.com profile] colliedoc). It was a lovely, low-key affair. The company was excellent, the food was good, and the wine very tasty :-) (Steele Carneros Pinot Noir, of course - you can't go wrong with that!) unfortunately, we were both feeling the effects of the long day outside and had to take our leave early - I slept a good bit on the drive home, and poor Dan was feeling pretty sleepy too, but we made it home OK.

Sunday featured the Midwest FurFest staff meeting. Not much to say about that, though do check out our spiffy new website, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] hooktail. Really nice work! We lazed around at home a bit in the evening, and continued slooowly going through the first season of the new Doctor Who by watching "Daleks" - yet another strong episode.

Today has been a pleasant day at work, a lot less stressful than last week! It sounds like Dan will be heading down to the St. Louis for his employer tomorrow for a few days, but with the possibility of late nights there the prospects of socializing seem regrettably small. In the meantime...Anyone want to go out for sushi tomorrow or Wednesday night?
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
That was a very satisfying weekend. On Friday I took [livejournal.com profile] takaza to work (it means I don't get in until 7 AM, when I usually get here at 6:45 - no loss). This meant that when I got out from work, I was able to spend a lovely half-hour alternately reading and dozing in the sun while waiting for him to finish work. We walked around to Randhurst Mall (which is very, very sad) before meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and Dan's cow-orker [livejournal.com profile] nymphara to see Over the Hedge. The verdict from me: Not great, but it had some very funny moments. Bruce Willis played Bruce Willis, which bores me. Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara as the porcupines cracked me the hell up and really made the movie (OK, Steve Carrell's Sammy was good too).

On Saturday I was up and motivated on the early side, so I walked the two miles or so over to where [livejournal.com profile] wooisme was participating in a garage sale. I had a pleasant time chatting, and Paul joined us not long after. Paul and I ducked out at around 11:30 and in the interest of time caught a bus back to our place. Dan was feeling under the weather, so he opted to stay in while I picked up [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff from O'Hare and we headed out to LAFF softball. Thanks so much to [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn for providing the comfy viewing arrangements! That was perfect way to chat with friends, enjoy the beautiful weather, and be completely and utterly lazy :-) After the game we had ambitious plans to go out to dinner at a nice place in Andersonville and see Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Unfortunately, we were all tired and that devolved into dinner from the taquiera around the corner, some family Guy from the TiVo and an early bedtime.

I woke up at 6:30 AM on Sunday and couldn't get back to sleep. Curse being a morning person! On the bright side, this allowed me to go out and enjoy the crisp, breezy morning. I drove over to the Broadway location of Intelligentsia and picked up a couple of pounds of beans for this week and Wuffmeet, then took my (free!) cup of coffee over to the lakeshore at Foster Beach and spent some time watching the lake and admiring the skyline. Truly, a wonderful way to start the day! We had a nice morning of coffee, newspaper, and a bit of video games before Mirko, Paul, and I headed out to the MFF staff meeting (Dan was still feeling pretty oogy, unfortunately. He's doing much better now!). The meeting was quite useful, and we accomplished quite a bit. Afterwards, the dinner at Portillo's was enjoyable as well. I picked up some dinner for Dan on the way home and we had a quiet evening in, though we stayed up a bit later than I would have liked nailing down more FRAC stuff.

And so this week: it's going to be pretty crazy. We have a lot of prep for Wuffmeet to do, I need to run a good number of errands, and on top of that I'll be going with Dan, Woody, and [livejournal.com profile] perro to see a White Sox game tomorrow night. Oh, and I need to cook two full meals for Friday night, too. Whee!
duncandahusky: (huskyface)
When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were prepping for a big weekend. Well, sort of. [livejournal.com profile] takaza wasn't feeling well when he got home on Friday night, so we had a quiet night in. On Saturday I was up bright and early, ready to enjoy a beautiful day. Dan was feeling better, so we headed down to the Cadillac Room at Soldier Field for the event of the day, Night of 100 Champions, a fundraiser for Gay Games Chicago. Considering that there were over 80 tables, with ten seats each, and seats were $75 each, this was going to be quite a fundraiser. Over the course of the weeks leading up to it, we had been told that we would have a variety of jobs, but ultimately they all collapsed down to "Setup". We started at about 11:30 AM and worked pretty much continuously until the event started at 5:30 PM. We did a quick change into more dressy clothes and assumed our roles as facilitators for the silent auction - checking that bids were following the proper increments, answering any questions anyone might have, that sort of thing. the auction was pretty impressive, too - stuff like flights anywhere in the US, cruises, extravagant dinner and theater packages, artwork, and even a signed, framed tennis racket from Billie Jean King. The auction was supposed to end at 8 PM, then it got pushed back to 8:15, then 8:30, then finally 10 PM. This wasn't too big of a deal - the object was to raise the most money possible, of course, but communications were poor at best, and there was a lot of confusion.

I should say that the volunteers and almost all of the organizers that we worked with were great, and we had a lot of fun with them; the only downer, and it was a BIG downer, was one of the organizers who was completely and obviously incompetent. She had a tendency to rush in and micromanage, pull you away from the tasks that you were working on to do stuff that was important to her, change her mind on how things should be done and snap at you when you didn't read her mind, and generally being completely annoying and difficult. When she changed the (previously arranged, sensible and organized) plans for assembling the winning bids and accepting payment for winning items for the auction right as we were trying to close the auction - that was when Dan and I decided we'd had enough. We packed up our stuff and went home.

Initially, I think we were both pretty pissed off and really doubting what our participation with Gay Games might be for the next few months, I've come to realize that we were having problems with one person and one person only (though someone should have seen the problems and told her to knock it off). We also learned that if you're competent, you'll find yourself in a leadership role pretty darned quickly.

I was tired and sore Sunday morning and Dan was even worse off, suffering a dual curse of respiratory nastiness and a flare-up of the pinched nerve problems from earlier. He elected to stay home and I attended the MFF meeting. I was still in a pretty grumpy mood from the night before so I probably wasn't the most pleasant to be around, but the meeting passed quickly. We spent Sunday night hanging out and being laptop geeks, as usual :-)

Last night Dan was facing a recurrence of the god-awful all-nighter from last week. faced with dinner alone, I opted to walk up to Tom Yum, the sushi/Thai place around the corner from us, and had a tasty and inexpensive sushi dinner. The walk back was pleasant and perfect after a good meal. Dan didn't leave work until after 11 PM, and didn't come to bed until after 1 AM. We talked a little about the silliness that had kept him so late, and that got me more and more irritated until i couldn't get back to sleep. I finally got to sleep again at about 3 AM, so you understand why I'm dragging a good bit today. Bleah. I'll still hit the gym today, though, and we have a nice dinner of fettuccine carbonara lined up for dinner. Pasta makes everything better :-)

Time to head home!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Right then: The weekend.

We had all kinds of plans for Friday night; [livejournal.com profile] rasslor was going to have dinner with friends, we were going to join [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus for dinner, and we were just rarin' to go...until we actually got home. Traffic was sucky, it was cold and windy outside, and Rasslor's plans fell through. None of us were motivated in the least, so we wound up huddling 'round the TiVo and ordering pizza. Not a bad alternative, though.

On Saturday I was up moderately early to face the day. Rasslor, Linnaeus and I drove down to the so-hidden-don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it Intelligencia Roasting Works (seriously - they only put a sign outside their door when they give tours) for a tour of their facilities. Naturally they supplied copious coffee to drink, and walked us through roasting a batch of coffee (Guatamalan El Cuervo, to be specific), then we all got a half-pound of the fresh-roasted El Cuervo at the end of the tour. We also got a nice look at their barista training room and QA/QC lab, where they not only test the roasted coffees for quality, they also review samples of green beans sent by farmers from all over the world for quality and suitability. I came away extremely impressed by Intelligencia; they're a small company (75 employees, including their two - soon to be three - coffee shops) who care about doing things right. I'll be buying my beans from Intelligencia in the foreseeable future.

After the tour, we drove over to Hot Doug's, where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] sabotlours, [livejournal.com profile] carol_kitty, and [livejournal.com profile] takaza. [livejournal.com profile] mstegosaurus, [livejournal.com profile] fritzywolf, and [livejournal.com profile] circafox were there as well (Sorry we couldn't socialize more, guys! Unfortunately Hot Doug's is about the food and not so much about the sitting and chatting). I had the Italian-seasoned wild boar sausage with sun-dried tomato mustard and Romano cheese, as well as the merguez lamb sausage with spicy harissa and goat cheese. Both were quite tasty, but definitely not the best I'd ever had there. After lunch we adjourned back to Linnaeus' place to wallow a bit in postprandial torpor before getting back into the car and driving out to [livejournal.com profile] datahawk and [livejournal.com profile] posicat place for their annual St. Patrick's Day party. Much fun and socializing ensued, and I had a really good time.

Sunday morning, I awoke to find Rasslor plotting out various bus routes to get himself back to Midway. Given that he had a huge, heavy suitcase and several changes of transportation were to be involved, I volunteered to just drive him down - it was a beautiful day out, anyway. After seeing him off, Paul, Dan and I went to the Midwest FurFest staff meeting which, due to various illnesses and schedule conflicts, was rather lightly attended. This made for a fast meeting, though, and we migrated to the Curragh for one last meal before it closes at the end of the month. The meal reminded me that the best thing about going there on the Monday after MFF has always been that it was the Monday after MFF - the food has never really been all that. The Magner's Cider on tap helped a good bit, though. Still, it was fun to hang out and chat with [livejournal.com profile] hartree, [livejournal.com profile] taren_, Puma, [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff, [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin and Datahawk. After the meeting Paul, Dan and I headed home to lay about and be generally useless for the rest of the evening.

I was a bad boy and skipped going to the gym yesterday, this after skipping all of last week due to some nasty blisters on my heels. Those are all healed up, now, and I intend to go tonight and tomorrow. Thursday night, we'll be up in Racine since Dan has to work in Milwaukee on Friday and he wanted my company :-) Then after work on Friday it's time for Congenial! I intend to revel in the spirit of the convention, doing exceedingly little and relaxing. Maybe some nice swimming and relaxing in the hot tub, too. I'm quite looking forward to it.

And now, it's back to making Visio do things that it's not meant to do. What fun!
duncandahusky: (Default)
Well, I'm starting to feel a bit better now, so I guess it's time to update.

The weekend was quite pleasant. After going to the gym on Saturday morning, I bummed around the house on Saturday while [livejournal.com profile] takaza was at work. He got home just in time to pick up [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and I and give us a lift over to The Hopleaf to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff and [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar. We had a couple rounds of the fabulous Belgian beers The Hopleaf is well-known for, as well as a couple of orders of frites with aioli (mmm, yummy!). We decided to break for dinner at around 6 PM; the first place we tried, L. Woods, told us it was a 60-70 minute wait for a table. Eh, Chicago is a big city, there's plenty of other options. We instead went to Tre Kronor, a quiet little Swedish place right around the corner from where we live. The menu wasn't extensive, but it was quite good (and inexpensive!). I had a beef stew with garlic mashed potatoes, and Dan had a sautéed chicken breast with Jarlsberg and ham. We finished off the meal with a yummy creme brulee as well as a very light chocolate mousse and some good, strong coffee. Excellent. We went back to the apartment and watched a couple of episodes of Dirty Jobs (Mike Rowe is such a cutie!) then Dan and I headed off to bed.

On Sunday, we had a nice lazy morning of laptop geeking, coffee, and Ann Sather cinnamon rolls (thanks Paul!). Then it was over to the Hyatt Regency Woodfield for the first in-person Midwest FurFest staff meeting of the year. It was a very useful meeting, and we hammered out a lot of details, though there's still a good way to go. Afterwards, there was the usual after-meeting socialization in which we firmed up our Anthrocon rooming plans (still need to work on our travel plans, though). Dan was feeling under the weather so he headed home while about a dozen of us drove over to Fuddruckers for an early dinner. Fud gud.

I went to bed with a slight tickle in my throat on Sunday night and woke up Monday with a nasty, hacking cough. Oddly, no sinus problems or the like, just a sore throat and coughing. I felt poorly all day and wound up leaving work a little early to go home and nap. Once Dan got home he took good care of me, cooking up dinner and taking care of laundry. I'm a very lucky guy to have him.

Today I'm feeling better, though the cough and sore throat are still around. Fortunately, we have some excellent cough syrup that really takes care of things for me. No gym for me yesterday or today, though - that would be a bad idea all around, since it's hard to exercise while you're hacking up a lung. I'll have to come in early for a couple days later this week to make up the time lost yesterday, but that's not too big of a deal. I'm also happy to report that I have a lot more on my plate at work (compared to what was far too little), so I'm feeling a lot more positive about my job today.

Hopefully we should have some major announcements about MFF coming in the next few days - watch here or [livejournal.com profile] midwest_furfest for those!
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
I've finished off all the data analysis for my annual Midwest FurFest Registration report and I have an outline for the report, but somehow the idea of actually starting to write the darn thing isn't appealing right now. It's notable that the report will be much shorter than last year's, which was so big I had to split it into two reports. This year's will be shorter because, well, so much went right, for a change. That made the whole experience much more pleasant, and I wasn't nearly the basket case that I have been in the past.

I have gleaned some useful information from talking to folks during and after the convention: many people talk about how MFF has a different "feel" from other conventions. While this makes me glad (it's always good to have something that sets your convention apart), at the same time it worries me, because if you can't quantify something, you may accidentally screw it up and not find out until it's too late. From my discussions, I find that a lot of things contribute to the atmosphere of MFF, from the hotel (the lobby, so well-suited for socializing), to the location (near so much shopping and restaurants), to the scheduling (an insane amount of programming through the weekend).

The biggest factor I found, though, was the staff. People found MFF's staff pleasant and easy to work with, and that really enhanced their convention experience. So, to MFF staff and volunteers: every time you smiled and greeted someone, every time you went out of your way to be helpful, every time you worked hard behind the scenes for little or no recognition, you made Midwest FurFest the success that it is today.
duncandahusky: (Me- Jacket)
One last post before Midwest FurFest. I've got an hour or so here remaining at work and then I'm headed over to the Hyatt Regency Woodfield. We're as ready as we'll ever be for the con, but as always I just can't shake the feeling that something is falling through the cracks. And it probably is, but y'know what? Probably none of the attendees will notice.

Last night was insane, of course. We packed all of the Registration supplies plus most of our personal gear into my Blue Box (aka Honda Element), though [livejournal.com profile] takaza wound up having to take some of the stuff as well; the two handcarts took up a huge amount of space and really cut into the amount of stuff we were hoping to get in there. With the change of the weather, the pain in my knee seems to be getting worse and worse, and I regret to say that I wasn't a lot of help carrying stuff down the stairs to the car. Dan more than covered for me, though, and then showed his mad packing skillz and fit a huge amount of stuff in my car.

I came in stupidly early this morning so I could leave at 2:30. One thing you can say about driving at 5:15 AM, though - traffic moves! I had time to hit the ATM and Starbucks (ick) before coming into work. Right now, it's cold out there, but it's going to get a heck of a lot colder. 27 F, with a low tonight of 17 F. Light snow flurries have been blown around by 30-40 mph winds around all day, but the snow is melting on contact with the ground. The good news is that after tonight, things warm up slightly, with highs near 40 and lows in the 20s. It's Chicago in November, folks.

If anyone local would care to join us, we're going to be stuffing Registration bags and doing other prep work for the con in the Schaumburg Room at the Hyatt tonight starting at 7 PM (we'll be there before then, though). We seem to be down a few folks this year, so if anyone can spare the time it would be very much appreciated!

So that's about it for me, at least before the con. After I leave here this afternoon, my e-mail access is going to be spotty at best, though we'll be getting net access tonight for sure for those last-minute details. I hope everyone traveling to Chicago has a safe trip, and that those who can't make it know that you are indeed missed and I hope you'll be able to see the fun we have at Midwest FurFest sometime in the future. Take care, all!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Man, what a crazy weekend.

Friday was not quite as fun as I had hoped it would be. Our department at work was rewarded with a day out to celebrate, um, doing well, or something. OK, fine by me! We met up at the Sears Tower and went up to the Skydeck, then caught the train up to Cafe Iberico. The food there was excellent, the service, not so much. We had a surprisingly good time, though. I suspect the sangria helped.

The next stop was supposed to the Shedd Aquarium, but since I had lost part of a filling the day before, I opted out and headed home instead. [livejournal.com profile] takaza was a complete sweetheart and not only looked up what dentists were covered by our insurance, he also called around to see if they could see me on short notice. He found a dentist within a mile of where we live and at 2:30 or so I was in the chair. As you might have surmised from my previous entry, what should have been a small repair wound up being a root canal. I have four more visits with the dentist before the end of the year - wow, won't that be fun.

On Saturday, I was up well before [livejournal.com profile] takaza, too damn early, in fact - 6:30 AM, but I couldn't sleep anymore. After showering and coffee, I was on the road! First stop, up to Wauconda to pick up the staff badges. Trust me, they're purty. People will really like them, I think. From there it was southwards, first with a detour through Palatine to locate Emmett's Tavern (this will be useful a week from today!), then to the MFF storage unit in Lombard. There, grabbed all of the Registration equipment we're going to need.

After that I was pretty much done for the day so I wandered over to Windycon to see how things were going. See, the majority of the MFF security crew provides staffing for Operations and "Adult Supervision" at Windycon, and I got a first-hand look at why they view MFF as their "vacation con". All I'm saying is that people who complain about how outré furry conventions are have never attended a single science fiction convention. Wow. Anyway, I wound up sticking around for quite a while, and just enjoying the fact that I wasn't responsible for any of it :-) I do hope I didn't annoy those who were working, and I have to say they were doing every bit of the excellent job one would expect of the fine MFF Security team.

On Sunday, I was again up early, this time for a drive up to Libertyville for an MRI test on my knee. That was dispatched reasonably quickly and then I was headed northwards to Antioch and [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's place. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2 and headed over for a tasty brunch (mmmm, Las Vegas Restaurant's Vegas skillet). Afterwards, we walked over to the little games store and were pleasantly surprised to find that the place had a good stock of games and comics, including Furrlough. Roho also picked up a nice addition to the charity auction: a 24" tall inflatable Brian (from "Family Guy").

Then it was back to their place for the reason for the trip: pre-printing staff and dealer badges. Roho did a good job wrestling with the database for a while, but we finally got some very helpful advice from [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck that made things flow much more smoothly. It then took a couple of hours to debug the printers and determine that not only were the color cartridges in them bad, so were the brand-new ones that had been purchased last year. One expensive trip to Wal-Mart later, we got that resolved. After all that, printing was a snap, though one of the printers might have some issues with the paper feed mechanism. These have served use well for five years, but I suspect we may be in the market for new printers next year. (And yes, [livejournal.com profile] ramalion, I'll be sure to look into top-loaders :-)

So now it's Monday, the first day of a three-day week for me. In between wrapping up some documents for work, I've been mopping up last-minute details and posting information stuff about the convention. There's still a lot to do, and a lot to be packed up, but I'm pretty confident that we can get to con with a minimum of stress. After that, well, we'll see...
duncandahusky: (Default)
And so the week trudges on. Yay.

The last two days were rather stressful. On Monday I was inundated with MFF-related stuff, and tried to get it all cleared away, with mixed success. At the same time the pressure was on at work to get some documents out, and now it appears that they will be up for review next Wednesday - my last day before my MFF "vacation". I had hoped to leave early that day - I hope it can get through with minimal corrections. In the evening, both [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I were snappish, and we stayed up for too late talking over convention-related stuff with [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus

Yesterday, work was hectic again. Afterwards I had a doctor's appointment in Vernon Hills (see my next post for that). I didn't get out from there until 4:45 PM, and in the meantime it appeared that someone has dropped a big ol' stupid bomb on all of the northern suburbs of Chicago. The expressways were completely stopped, and I wound up having to go off to surface streets, and even then I pretty much had my very-detailed road atlas open because I had to do some exotic navigation*. I didn't get home until just before 6:30.

Dan had beat me home (that's pretty unusual), and he met me at the door. After helping me take my jacket off, he led me back to the bedroom and gave me the most wonderful back- and foot-rub ever. And to top it off, he made dinner, too! My husband is pretty damn wonderful, I think. I took a break from MFF stuff for the night and found that helped a lot, too.

So today, it's back to work, nose to the grindstone, blah blah blah. I have some scheduling to work out (I had everything exactly right, then there was a slight change and someone yelled "JENGA!" and the whole thing fell apart). Still, the reason for the change is a good one and the net outcome is better so I don't really have any complaints.

* {Take a deep breath} Tri-State (wait in backup) to Edens Spur (wait in backup) to Waukegan Road (wait in backup) to Dundee to Meadow to Shermer to Willow to Patriot to Chestnut to Lehigh to Harlem to Oakton to Central to Howard to Lincoln to Jersey to Kedzie to Carmen to Troy to HOME!
duncandahusky: (Amused)
Hmm. Sox tonight, but also Amazing Race. Good thing we have Tivo...

So. The weekend. Saturday was a busy day for us. [livejournal.com profile] takaza got up early (10 AM!) and we made the drive that I know so well up to my employer for the biannual Open House. It was pretty neat, actually - Dan got to see some of what goes into manufacturing tablets and capsules and hopefully got a little better insight into what I'm supposed to be doing up here every day. After the tour I showed up for my timeslot for the department "entertainment booth", which is to say a toy 4-foot-tall basketball hoop in the middle of a hallway. Compared to other departments (DDR setup with full amp and mixing board, baseball with radar gun, free popcorn) we looked pretty crappy, but the kids seemed to like it when they made a took a couple of shots and got a free trinket. As a nice surprise, on Monday my supervisor instructed me to add the two hours we were there to my timecard, so that was a nice little bit of overtime.

That evening, we picked up [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad and gave him a ride to the party in honor of some-event-in-his-life-which-is-not-his-birthday, held at
[livejournal.com profile] emrldgirrl's place. The party was fun, and I had a good time even though I'll admit I spent the majority of the evening hiding on the balcony. I don't want anyone to think this is a criticism of the party, which was fabulous - it's just that the loud music got to me a bit. That's my own personal peeve, though; everyone else seemed to be having a good time, so hey - it's all good. We headed out relatively early at 11 PM, just before the serious drinking started, I'm told :-) The blueberry cobbler I made seemed to go over well, so that was good.

Sunday? Well, I had all of the great things I wanted to do on Sunday. In reality, we relaxed around the house and generally were lazy. I did make some peanut butter cookies, which were quite tasty, and made dinner. Dan printed up some Registration postcards for me and was kind enough to grab them on Monday morning on his way to work, then cut them to size, stamp them, and mail them for me. I have the bestest husband!

This week should be a lot less hectic than the last. [livejournal.com profile] datahawk is couch-surfing with us because it works out well for her work schedule; four people living in Linnaeus' apartment may get a bit close, but I think we can work it out, plus it's always a pleasure to see her (occasionally) smiling face ;-) On Thursday Dan and I are having dinner with [livejournal.com profile] chouette to celebrate her putting MFF Programming to bed - well, theoretically, anyway. And there's always more work to do for MFF...
duncandahusky: (Default)
And so ends a particularly crappy week. Fortunately, the weekend is looking up.

I've been spending a lot of time this week working on Midwest FurFest related stuff (yeah, I know - such a shock!). Most of what I needed to order has been ordered, and I've already proofed a good bit of it as well; that's a huge weight off my shoulders. Now it's down to a lot of small tasks between now and the convention, which thankfully I can split up a bit more between [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2 and myself. I'm blessed with a fairly high level of interest from my Registration staff in working again this year - thanks guys! - and a registration server that works well and is even getting some slight improvements. Oh, and the restaurant guide is ready and just needs final proofing before being sent off for formatting and printing. Things are definitely going well.

[livejournal.com profile] takaza was in training all week - his company is rolling out SAP companywide and his region is one of the pilot regions. They are so abundantly screwed, but that kind of goes hand in hand with SAP. Anyway, my poor wuff has been in training from 7:15 AM - 5:15 PM each day, then having to go back to the office and work another couple of hours. On the bright side, since he's hourly he's racking up a lot of good overtime. For me it's been a pretty quiet week at work, but that lets me work on, um, outside projects. For instance, I was able to rewrite much of the travel information for the MFF website, incorporating a lot of the comments that I got last year. I sent it off to Puma just a short while ago, so it may be a bit before it goes up (if there's links to hotel, air, train, and driving info at the top of the page, that's the new page).

Tomorrow is the open house for my job, for which Dan and I will be here. Normally I would have skipped it, but it will offer some neat tours of tablet and capsule manufacturing and packaging, and it's something I know Dan will enjoy. After that it's off to a small get-together. And Sunday? Gloriously, nothing is planned! We'll see if it stays that way, of course...
duncandahusky: (huskyface)
So, there was indeed life after FRAC, which I sadly have failed to document (and I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seats, oh yes).

After breakfast last Sunday (10/9), [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I decided to opt out of any planned entertainment and head on home. We crashed hard when we got there; I napped for about an hour, and Dan slept for a good four hours. We had a small dinner after that then went to bed early.

Last week wasn't too exciting. The big deal for me is that I started the Midwest FurFest Registration Buying Season, in which I spend thousands of dollars of other people's money, yay! I placed the first few orders and visited with one of my vendors on Thursday after work. That visit was conveniently-timed, since I was able to go from there (in Wauconda) down to Schaumburg. I stopped by Ikea to pick up some nice (and cheap!) wine glasses, then it was over to Fuddruckers for the LAFF Western Suburbs Dinner. I admit I was a bit anti-social and mainly chatted with folks out in the parking lot, primarily because I couldn't deal with the soccer team of 6-8 year old girls who were sharing the dining room with us. I had a good time, though.

We relaxed around the house on Saturday and I got some MFF-related work done. Then [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar came over and I made a hyooge pot of chicken and dumplings. [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff joined us later in the evening and Dan commemorated the moment by making a batch of yummy Good Eats chewy chocolate chip cookies.

On Sunday, it was it was the MFF staff meeting. Typically, the meeting was over in an hour, and the after-meeting chat lasted twice that. It was a very useful meeting, and we got a lot hashed out. I'm still working on a good location for Registration on Thursday night of the convention - we'll see what layouts I can come up with. Afterwards we migrated over to Portillo's for dinner, then went home and vegged out for the rest of the night, eventually going to bed by 9 PM because we're old and boring that way :-)

As for this week, it's more ordering and more preparation for MFF. We're now inside of a month, and I'm really trying to keep my stress level lower this year. Dan, bless his heart, puts up with me, but it's not fair for him or [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus to have to deal with my crabby self for the next few weeks. We'll see how successful I'll be...
duncandahusky: (Default)
Wow, I just love these mornings when I come in at 6 AM. Well, usually. This morning the lovely hour before anyone else shows up was spent fighting network printers and trying to print up the 160 (!) postcards I need to send out. Well, I got the job half-done, anyway - the rest I'll have to do at home, on our laser printer that isn't really fond of cardstock. Oh well.

So, it's been a few days since I last posted, it would appear. On Friday, we joined [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck, and [livejournal.com profile] muganga in seeing Serenity. The experience was much-improved over the preview that we saw earlier this year - much better music, and improved effects. I thought that they changed around one of the scenes at the end, but I may be wrong.

Saturday, we bummed around the house and worked on some party planning and MFF stuff, then [livejournal.com profile] hartree showed up. We grabbed a tasty dinner at Charcoal Delight, then bummed around the house for the rest of the evening, chatting. Sunday brought sparsely-attended MFF staff meeting, but we nailed down a few useful things there. Afterwards, [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff came back to the apartment and we ordered some sammitches. Tasty.

This week has been so-so. I finally shook off the cold/whatever I had picked up, but I had a lingering cough that was kicking my butt and keeping me awake at night. That finally seems to be subsiding, though, much to my relief. So now it's back to planning for the upcoming gathering this weekend and MFF stuff as well. I'll be much happier once I can get all of the stuff I need to get ordered for MFF taken care of, which should be by this time next week. I hope.

Back to work!
duncandahusky: (Alton)
Last night's dinner was perfectly fabulous, I must say. We tend to get into a bit of a rut with the same-old, same-old menus (pork chops, sauteed chicken breasts, burgers), so I tried to break out a bit. I poked around America's Test Kitchen's recipe archive and I found an excellent recipe for pan-roasted chicken with a sage and vermouth sauce. I really like how nice and browned the chicken came out, and the sauce was relatively simple and quick. I'll append the recipe below since ATK seems to demand you register just to access the recipe.

This week has dragged by slowly. Dan had some kind of nasty upper respiratory infection and initially it looked like I caught it too, but since I never developed a fever I guess it was just a nasty cold. It's all but gone now, leaving me with a slight cough and sore throat and a rather hoarse voice. I'm sure it will all be over with by the end of the weekend.

Registrations for Midwest FurFest are pouring in as people try to beat the 9/30 deadline for cheap registration, and this makes me very happy. After the slow start in getting online registration up earlier this year I was concerned that our overall attendance might take a hit, but all that seems to have happened is people put off registering until the last minute. This is confirmed by the rate at which people are reserving rooms at the hotel. A word of warning: last year we came extremely close to selling out the hotel; this year I would not be surprised if we did in fact sell out. More importantly, as the hotel fills up, certain types of rooms become harder to get (i.e. double, king, whichever) and not being able to get one type or the other can really throw a wrench into people's plans. Take my advice and reserve now.

Looking ahead to the weekend: Well, there's Serenity tonight, of course. Tomorrow I have a ton of MFF stuff to work on, and rumor has it that we'll be joined by [livejournal.com profile] hartree. Sunday is the MFF meeting, and while we're out that way I want to duck into Ikea for a few things.

As promised, here is the recipe for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Sage-Vermouth Sauce: )
duncandahusky: (Default)
This past weekend was pretty good, actually. I declared on Friday that, dammit, we were going out for dinner. After a year of driving past L. Woods Restaurant on Lincoln in Lincolnwood (right by the dreaded Purple Hotel), we agreed that it was time to check it out. Now, I'll admit I had some trepidation - the place always seems packed, and it was a Friday night. A quick check on Metromix showed that the entrees were in the $8-15 range, and that it was a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant (a local chain of restaurants that are pretty much excellent in quality). [livejournal.com profile] takaza phoned and we were told that they took call-ahead seating (i.e. put your name on the list before you get there) so we were off!

We were seated immediately, but the menu...well, $8-15 isn't quite accurate. I'd say $15-30 is more like it. Not awful, but not what we were looking to spend, either. Fortunately, they had a small section ("The Lighter Menu") that was essentially their lunch menu for dinner - $10 or so entrees. Hmm, that might work. Dan had the bacon cheeseburger, and I opted for the beef brisket sandwich. Both were OK, but the mashed potatoes that came with mine were excellent, and worth coming back for. The real draw that will bring us back are two things: Sprecher sodas on tap (root beer, cream soda, and orange cream soda), and cooked-to-order desserts. We got the large apple strudel ($12, serves 4) that was divine. I'd also like to try their "Ooey-Gooey Chocolate Cake". I'm also intrigued by their "Supper Club" menu for six, which is $28 per person for a whole lot of food! (Granted, as [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus points out, for $28 per person you could go to Sal e Carvao or Fogo de Chao, too...).

Saturday was pretty mellow; Dan had to work and I took care of some Midwest FurFest-related stuff, then attempted to take his car over to the nearest Currency Exchange to get new plates. I had the bright idea that I'd avoid the lines at the DMV by taking care of it there, but I didn't account for the extra $45 they wanted to charge in service fees, on top of the $78 for new plates (they also expected to sell me a new title, but I'm not certain that's necessary. More research needed on that). So that idea got aborted. That evening, Paul and I had the bright idea that socializing would be good so we went over to LAFF bowling (Dan was smart and stayed home). You know, there's not much to say; we went, we bowled, we left. There may have been stuff that went on with the rest of the group, I have no clue. We pretty much just stuck to our lane and drank beer :-) My bowling was awful, though, and between knee and back problems I dropped out after two games.

On Sunday [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar came over early and he and I drove the circuit around Woodfield Mall to collect the last of the information for the MFF Restaurant Guide. His help was very much appreciated! The MFF staff meeting went well and was quite productive. Dinner at Fuddruckers afterwards was quite tasty, and the conversation was quite entertaining and informative.

Not a lot happened yesterday - went to work, did laundry, and we watched the latest Monster House, which I swear is getting more and more stupid ("Let's see how badly we can bitch up these poor saps' house!"). Since Paul and I have read Anthony Bourdain's excellent book of the same title, we also decided to watch the premiere of Kitchen Confidential on Fox. We made it through about 18 minutes of it before we turned it off and deleted it from the TiVo. Yeah, it was that bad. Think all the stupid parts of "Hell's Kitchen" meets "Sex and the City" with a dash of every stock sitcom character you've ever seen, with awful, self-conscious dialogue.

I'll be coming in at 6 AM for the rest of the week to make up for the afternoon I'm taking off on Thursday (to be detailed in a later entry). And on Wednesday, Dan and I are going to an eye doctor that [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn recommended so I can get both new glasses (my current ones are five years old and scratched all to hell) and finally get some prescription safety glasses. Hopefully the doctor will be as cute as advertised :-) And now, back to that aforementioned work!

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