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

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

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

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

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

It all started so long ago...Friday, I think it was. That night, what was going to be a small pre-party get-together swelled to 11 people getting together for "tapas" (as in "we only serve a bunch of appetizers, so let's call it tapas") at Rugan's in Antioch. The company was excellent, the beer tasty, the food OK, the service disastrous, and the sound level inexcusable. We had a good time anyway.

On Saturday things got rolling early as folks started to arrive for our big Memorial Day Party. The cast of characters from the previous night, plus, um, a lot of other people - I think we had 25 people in our place at dinner time. I smoked a bunch of chickens in the smoker, Dan grilled up some bacon cheeseburgers, and everyone had a great time. Little-known fact: "Mai Tai" is Polynesian for "express train to drunkville" :-) Everyone brought an amazing array of food and drinks and we had a fantastic dinner.

On Sunday morning we made the requisite pilgrimage to Las Vegas Restaurant for their tasty brunch, then retired back to our place for chatting, relaxing, and gaming. As the day wore on we broke out the leftovers (of which there were copious quantities) and Dan got to try out a couple more drink recipes. Drunken Malarkey was played, where we learned that Bill Hep may or may not have been a hep cat, toothpaste magically regenerates itself, and popping movie theater popcorn has been outsourced to China.

Monday brought breakfast fail, as I somehow failed to comprehend that bagels, lox, and cream cheese requires bagels and cream cheese. Um, whoops. Thanks to Mirko, at least, for importing salmon from Seattle! We recovered, though, and headed out en masse to take over Whirlyball in Vernon Hills! We had 23 people in all there, including 11 fursuiters. The Whirlyball marketing guys loved us, taking pictures and video of the fursuit Whirlyball sessions (our picture gallery is here). We played for two hours, and I think everyone had a pretty darned good time!

Afterward, we adjourned back to our place for lunch with a few folks, then saw our last guests off at 4 PM. Dan went to bed not long after that, and I took a nap myself, then enjoyed a quiet evening, just me and Buddy.

As always, this was a terrific weekend, and I want to thank all of the great folks who were able to join us at some time over the course of the weekend: Aerofox, Aiden Dingo, Aureth, Bacon, Baja, Basil, Croc, Delmir, Drake, Eddi, Ford, Genet, Gir, GrayWolf, Hartree, Hegdish, Jenne, Linnaeus, Mirko, Nik, Perro, Quasi, RB, Rex, Roho, Rusty, Stevie, Street, Ted, Theome, Tozier, Vish, and Woody (I think I may have missed a few - if so, I apologize!). As tired as we were at the end of it, I know I felt it was all worth it, and we're already thinking ahead to New Year's Eve and other fun events in the future!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] aureth and [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf were hosting a party over at their place. I thought I'd try to make a couple of new dishes to bring: Spicy Baked Plantain Chips and Salsa Verde. The plantain chips did not turn out well - a bit leathery, unfortunately. They were close to burning, but could have used a bit more time in the oven to crisp up. The salsa verde was... well, it wasn't up to my standards. Way too salty, and the four Serrano chiles in the recipe made it mighty damn hot! This was a good reminder that I really need to only make tried-and-true recipes for these sorts of things.

[livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff arrived Saturday afternoon with his malamute, Chase. Buddy seems to be feeling better (though his appetite still isn't up to snuff - possibly due to the continued antibiotics) and so greeted Chase with a wagging tail...and then spent the next hour trying to mount him. Oy. At this point I have to assume it's a dominance thing. Chase let him know it wasn't appreciated, and eventually they got things sorted out, but it was certainly comical to watch. We were a little late to the party because Mirko wanted to watch some basketball thing or something with his alma mater. He spent the rest of the evening squee-ing about the game :-)

The party was a lot of fun. Jim's brown ale was excellent, and the company was wonderful. I wish that we could have stayed later, but we had to get up stupidly-early the next day, so we grabbed [livejournal.com profile] hartree and Mirko and headed back to our place.

On Sunday morning, Hartree and Mirko and I left before 8 AM (well, left the first time - we had to double back because I forgot my ticket. Doh!) for the Illinois Rail Museum Snowflake Special CTA Tour. This was a 9-hour tour of the Chicago elevated train system. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] dexcat, [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus. The tour went from Rosemont (right next to the Hyatt Regency O'Hare!) to downtown, out to UIC, down the South Side to 61st Street, then north to Evanston, with numerous stops and detours along the way. I have to say I was very much impressed by the IRM's organization, and the quality of the tour was very good as well, with near-continuous narration provided by a pair of very knowledgeable fellows. I took over 180 pictures, and I'll post some of those soon.

We had lunch in The Loop, stopping at the Qdoba on Randolph. We were unexpectedly joined by a rather loquacious train fan who was maybe 10 years old. He talked a blue streak, and while he knew his stuff, it was amusing to listen to him rattle on about the wisdom of the Circle Line while his parent nodded wearily beside him with that look of, "Oh thank God, he's talking to someone else for a change." After lunch we had time for a quick stop at Intelligentsia Coffee, then it was back on the train. All in all, I have to say that it was about seven hours of an interesting tour - the last two hours really dragged and it was a bit of a relief when we pulled back into Rosemont. [livejournal.com profile] takaza, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet met us there (with Chase, who went home with Mirko from there). The rest of us went down for dinner at Smoque, which was excellent, as usual.

And here we are at a new week. I have some errands to run after work, then I'll grill up dinner while Dan works on the FCN con book. It sounds like we're going to go see "How To Train Your Dragon" tomorrow night at one of my favorite local theaters, so we're off to a great start to the week!
duncandahusky: (Thoughtful)
So, what have I been up to these last few weeks (besides, you know, answering questions)?

Well, back on January 17th we had the first staff meeting of the year for Midwest FurFest. Time to start it all over again! It was a good meeting, recapping some of last year's activities, and including a walk-through of the new hotel space. We've got a lot of big plans, but it's going to take some time to bring everything to fruition. I've got some items for the website that I need to take care of, and I need to get some information posted. That'll come this week, I hope.

On January 23rd we braved some freakishly dense fog to visit [livejournal.com profile] aureth and [livejournal.com profile] jenwolf's lovely place in Hebron. Excellent company, some very tasty beer, and entertaining games followed. The next day I finished up my taxes and arrived at some very happy numbers (yay for first-time homebuyer's tax credit, boo for not being able to e-file if you claim that credit!).

That week kicked off what may be my most stressful week at work since I started with $employer, and it's been pretty crazy ever since. This has really put a damper on my time that I would be able to post to this journal, or even to think about posting anything since when I get home from work I just want to de-stress. Unfortunately, this trend will continue at least until the end of February, though I'm hoping that things will ease off a bit after that. It's all but certain that I'll be working Saturdays for the rest of the month, though.

At the end of January I squeaked out of work on Friday the 29th and [livejournal.com profile] takaza gave me a ride down to O'Hare Airport, where I caught a flight to Columbus to spend the weekend hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd. The ostensible purpose of the trip was to give him a weekend to relax and not stress, but we all know the futility of this - it would be like someone wanting to do the same for me :-) Anyway, it was a delightful weekend, with dinners with [livejournal.com profile] roby_panther and [livejournal.com profile] kai_darkwolf, cooking up a storm (and a lot of smoke) with crappy recipes from Jamie Oliver, and generally just hanging out and chatting. I had an excellent time!

This brings me up to this past weekend. On Saturday, Dan's mom and sister joined us, along with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet for a joint early-birthday celebration for me and Dan's sister. We had a delicious turkey dinner, and I made a butternut squash risotto that turned out really well. Afterward we watched "Julie & Julie", which is a really fun movie. Last night we took all those leftovers (along with a freshly-made bread pudding) to Genet and Roho's place where they hosted a Super Bowl party. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, Aureth, and Jenne. We had a whole lot of fun and I really enjoyed the game. The couple of beers I had didn't sit well with me, though, and as expected I had reflux issues all night long. I'm dragging a bit right now with the combined lack of sleep and lack of caffeine, since I can't face the acid of coffee right now. Maybe a soda before I head off to work...

Speaking of which, time to shower. Hope everyone has a great day!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Oh wow, it's been a while since a proper post here, hasn't it? OK, here's a quick recap of the last few weeks...

The weekend of October 10th: This was the big Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind weekend. On that Saturday I took the train into the city and wandered around a bit. I stopped by Julius Meinl Coffee House, which was delightfully civilized (and had great coffee)! After that I walked around the Lincoln Square neighborhood and stopped by The Bad Apple. While I didn't get any of their tasty-looking food, I did have a New Holland Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock which was...challenging, but interesting. You have to love a bar where you can strike up a conversation with two strangers about the relative merits of the beers your drinking. I really need to get back to this place!

From The Bad Apple it was across the street to the Half Acre Beer retail store. Alas, their offerings were a bit thin still (they had just started retail sales) but I did pick up a couple of good beers to take to dinner. I bussed it over to Andersonville and arrived at Ranalli's Pizza in plenty of time for the LAFF get-together. I have to say that the folks at Ranalli's were awesome to work with for our little shindig! We had about 28 people show up, and they were extremely accommodating. The pizzas just kept coming out, and the company and food was excellent. I hope that maybe we can do another LAFF event there again sometime soon.

After dinner the whole crowd trooped down to the Neo-Futurarium, where a line was just starting to form. I'm really glad we got there when we did! It was a cold night, but not too bad and the time passed quickly. We were treated to an extremely entertaining show, and I was reminded once again why it's going to be so damn great to have the Neo-Futurists at Midwest FurFest this year.

The next day was the Midwest FurFest staff meeting, and things went really well. We nailed down some lingering details and I hope that everyone left with as good a feeling about the convention as I did.

On the weekend of October 17th, we aimed to keep things a little lower-key. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I both slept in and had a lazy day around the house, slipping out late in the afternoon to stop by a restaurant supply place not too far away, then stopped by the local butcher and liquor store (where Dan had an amusing exchange with the Twitter-rep of our favorite rum). On Sunday, we welcomed [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus over for a very tasty dinner of braised short ribs, ratatouille, and roasted potatoes with garlic vinaigrette. Very tasty dinner, supplemented by some really nice wines.

And here we are in the throes of another week. We're going to be doing cleaning in preparation for a get-together this weekend, not that the place is all that dirty. If nothing else this gives us the impetus to put away the last few items left over from the move. Oh, and the penultimate Midwest FurFest staff meeting is this weekend! Believe it or not, plans for next year are already in high gear as well - nothing I can talk about, but I can say that folks should try to get to Closing Ceremonies at MFF, because we have a lot of cool information to share!
duncandahusky: (pukey-cute)
What a weekend that was! It was [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd's birthday, and we were determined to celebrate it in style.

[livejournal.com profile] baja_hyena flew into Milwaukee International Airport (MKE) on Thursday night. I picked him up and we came home to a tasty dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes that [livejournal.com profile] takaza had made.

Friday, we were joined by Ford, who arrived just in time for a great steak dinner and a relaxing evening of chatting and relaxing.

On Saturday, the fun really began! Following the surprise (to Ford, anyway) arrival of [livejournal.com profile] r_bear, the first stop was [livejournal.com profile] whirlyball, a crazy combination of bumper cars and lacrosse with a really good bar. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] perro, [livejournal.com profile] wolphy, [livejournal.com profile] deccadoggy, [livejournal.com profile] tozier_wah, [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah, [livejournal.com profile] calapurr, [livejournal.com profile] r_bear, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, and [livejournal.com profile] snickershusky. We were able to get in six 10-minute games, and we had a blast! We'll definitely be going back, perhaps either during Wuffmeet or Memorial Day next year.

After Whirlyball we stopped for a tasty lunch at Eloise Chicago, then it was over to Nickel City Arcade, where after paying $2 admission you can play any of their 100 games for a nickel (OK, maybe $0.15, sometimes). I got an hour's worth of entertainment on about thirty cents with a couple of games of pinball, an old version of Mortal Kombat, NFL Blitz '99, and Puzzle Fighter. The place was of course overrun with kids on a Saturday afternoon, but it wasn't too bad.

When we wrapped up there several folks took their leave, and it was down to eight - me, Dan, Baja, Ford, Linnaeus, RB, Cheetah, and Cala. We stopped by Linnaeus' place to change and then it was off to dinner at Moto. Oh my god, Moto. )

We got home from Moto at about 12:30 AM, and staggered off to bed.

On Sunday, Ford, Baja, and Dan went off on a Top Secret Fursuit Mission while I stayed around the house to relax a bit and prep for the afternoon's festivities. Eventually we assembled [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn, [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet, as well as many of the folks from Whirlyball the day before, for a final get-together dinner to celebrate Ford's birthday. I made Korean burritos and for dessert Dan, inspired by the previous night's meal, made "Deconstructed Apple Pie" - pie dough covered with cinnamon and sugar, baked to a crisp, stewed apples, and homemade cinnamon ice cream. It was a great evening and I hope everyone had as great a time as we did seeing everyone. Alas, Ford had to leave at about 7 PM, but I was glad to see him on the road at a decent hour (he stopped for the night as planned in Lafayette, IN).

This morning I took Baja to the airport and then came into work, only a little bit late. I'm looking forward to a laid-back evening tonight. For the rest of the week, I have a few projects I need to work on around the house, but nothing too crazy. As for this week, there's preparations for the LAFF Pizza and Theater Outing coming up, and the in-person MFF Staff Meeting on Sunday.

I have to say that while this was a whirlwind weekend, getting to spend time with Ford and Baja was really special. They're both great guys and we really enjoy their company. I hope that we'll be able to welcome them to our home again sometime soon!
duncandahusky: (Wagging Husky)
The holiday is over, and it's back to the grind. What an amazing time we had, though!

Friday: Off to Columbus we go! )
Saturday: Laziness and Lovin' It! )
Sunday: Party Time! )

Monday arrived far too soon, and after getting lunch at The Old Bag of Nails with a small group of 14 (great folks, one and all), it was time to hit the road back to Chicago. We didn't actually get on the road until 3 PM EDT, so after dropping off Woody in Chicago, we didn't get home until 10 PM CDT.

Thanks to Ford for a wonderful time - your hospitality was wonderful, and as always your home is delightful. Thanks also to Jack and AJ for putting up with our imposition as well (thanks especially to Jack for his help with sleeping arrangements - that was very generous of you). It was so great to get to know Baja, Roby, and AJ a bit more, and it's always a pleasure to see [livejournal.com profile] kwik and all of the rest of the Columbus crew. We need to get down there more often than just once a year!
duncandahusky: (HTML Husky)
Oh my, it's been a bit since I've actually updated this, hasn't it?

A quick recap:
Last Friday (8/28): Stayed in and had a relaxing night at home with [livejournal.com profile] takaza.
Saturday: Bummed around the house, baked some pain au chocolat cinnamon rolls (which were only partially successful - not enough cinnamon flavor), then enjoyed a fabulous party at [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's place.
Sunday: Bought shelving for the storage room under the stairs (which has been dubbed "The Harry Potter Room"), cleaned out the accumulated cardboard boxes from the move, and generally worked on housecleaning.
Monday - Wednesday: Work, then home improvement. Installed the shelves in the Potter Room, replaced the chandelier in the breakfast area, Dan whipped the garage into shape so we can park both cars in there (with the washer and dryer in there still! This garage is a lot wider than our last one!). On Tuesday night I grilled up some steaks for dinner on the patio, and it was fabulous.

Tonight I reclaimed the dining room, putting all the stuff that had been cluttering up the table there on the shelves in the Potter Room. Dan hung the track over the patio sliding glass door, but the panel blinds for the track are on back order and won't be in until sometime next week. We can at least hang up a sheet so no one can look into the place while we're gone this weekend.

And then there's the coming weekend. Dan and I are working a half-day tomorrow, then heading out of town to spend an awesome weekend at [livejournal.com profile] fordshepherd's. Expect tipsy twitterings, amusing pictures, and a whole lot of fun to be had!

And now, dinner's ready!
duncandahusky: (Cooking - Kitchen Aid)
Stop the train I wanna get off!

Yeah, we're down to that crazy time of year, and last week I had a convergence of planning for the MFF Summer Picnic and Anthrocon as well as a high-pressure project at work. I was not a happy camper at all. Thankfully, [livejournal.com profile] takaza put up with my antics and I somehow muddled through two out of three problems (Anthrocon is still to come).

I wrapped up all but the last few details of the project I was working on Friday afternoon. That left me feeling pretty good as Dan and I went out to do some last-minute grocery shopping and get everything prepped for the picnic.

Here's how it all went down... )
The goal of the picnic was threefold: to increase goodwill for Midwest FurFest, to continue to generate interest in the convention five months out, and to get people interested in volunteering for the convention. I think we accomplished the first two goals; as for the third, we'll have to wait and see. I really had a good time, and even though it took a lot out of me I'd definitely like to do it again next year. We'll see how that goes, though.

Oh, and on Sunday? We didn't do jack. And it was good :-)

Back to work!

Wowsers!

Feb. 1st, 2009 11:04 pm
duncandahusky: (Wine glass)
It's far too late for us to be awake on a work night. We just saw everyone from our merry band off a few minutes ago, having spent a truly enjoyable evening of good company, excellent food and drink, and some football game or something. The roster included hot spinach and artichoke dip (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus), loaded fries with bacon and cheese (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] roho & [livejournal.com profile] genet), and tasty chips (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell and [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw). [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I made pork belly sandwiches, Chinese-style, mini-burgers with garlic-herb cheese and sautéed onions, and Dan made dessert: apple and chocolate pocket pies. The dead soldiers included Browning's Bourbon Barrel Stout, Unibroue 15 Strong Pale Ale, Gouden Carolus Classic Belgian Strong Ale, and several bottles of Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale.

It was a very good night! And now, we're off to bed. Zzzzzzzzz...

I Voted!

Nov. 4th, 2008 10:15 am
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
...two weeks ago. Yay, early voting!

It should be an interesting day; I'll be monitoring the news feeds and keeping an ear out for any useful news. Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I will be heading down to [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's place for the traditional election night gathering, one that I hope will be a lot more enjoyable than the one four years ago.

In the meantime, not too much going on. The weekend was fun, with a party over at [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's place, followed by a very enjoyable brunch on Sunday with friends.

Lots of small MFF projects going on, but I'd hate to spoil any surprises. I think people are going to be happy with all the cool stuff we have in the pipeline, though.
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
Anthrocon reports will continue, but a brief break to talk about the three-day weekend.

Isn't it funny how what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend suddenly becomes a very busy one very quickly? We started things out well - I slipped out of work an hour early on Thursday and got to relax a bit at home. [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I stayed in, watched some Tivo, and generally relaxed. I packed it in relatively early, but Dan stayed up late doing some baking and watching some shows I wasn't interested in.

Friday morning was rather pleasant. Not a whole lot going on, just chilling at home, chatting on Furrymuck, that sort of thing. We finally got going in mid-afternoon and drove down to [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's place in Lombard, where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] dexcat and Dexgirl for a fantastic evening of good food and good company, capped off with fireworks just a few hundred yards from their back deck. We ended the evening watching Harry Potter Being an Angsty Teen, though I was falling asleep periodically through it. We crashed for the evening at the felines' house.

On Saturday we made the pilgrimage to Juicy-O, which was fabulous as always. Dan and I drove home while Cheetah and Cala tended to some stuff at home. We were joined not long after by [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet, then Cheetah and Cala again, and we all went to see Wall-E at the McHenry Downtown Theater. I think I prefer the Antioch theater (the same company owns both of them) - it seems a bit cleaner and more pleasant in general. The movie was very good. Not quite a Pixar masterpiece like Ratatouille, but still a fun and enjoyable movie. Afterwards we lazed around our place while Dan cooked up some burgers. We also introduced Cheetah and Cala to Boom Blox :-)

Sunday was a big day - we were supposed to be testing recipes for the LAFF Softball Picnic coming up on June 19th. Roho, Genet, [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus joined us to help pick apart the recipes, discuss improvements, and generally refine things overall. They were all a huge help in preparation and cleaning as well, something for which I am very grateful! We came up with this menu:

  • Asian mixed green salad with baby bok choy, scallions, and snow peas, tossed with a sesame vinaigrette and toasted sesame seeds

  • Potatoes with kosher salt, Tellicherry pepper, and garlic, grilled in foil

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brined and wrapped in thick-sliced bacon, grilled to perfection

  • Grilled Arrachera (marinated skirt steak) tacos with corn or flour tortillas

  • Old-fashioned pound cake served with a raspberry coulis and fresh whipped cream

  • Fudgy Texas chocolate cake with (or without) toasted pecans


Right now we're cooking for 40, but we'll see how many RSVP's finally come in (need to RSVP? You can find information on the picnic and RSVP instructions here). Given how stuffed everyone was at the end of the meal, I think we've got a winning menu put together, and it's manageable for the number of people that we're talking about. Given that the only facilities we're going to have is coolers, some tables, and a five-foot-by-two-foot charcoal grill, our options are somewhat limited but I don't think this shows in the above menu.

And now it's Monday and I'm back at work. Booo! Still, there's a ton of stuff to be done today so I need to get started on those...
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Now that was a truly amazing weekend, and exactly what I needed!

With Anthrocon quickly coming up, I admit I was not the most pleasant company for much of last week. Worries about preparations compounded with concerns about projects that were hitting at work right after the convention had me irritable and sleeping quite poorly. [livejournal.com profile] takaza, as always, was a saint and put up with me somehow. Then on Friday, I realized that 95% of what I needed for the convention was done and what wasn't done could be handled at the con. At the same time, I found out that due to equipment and material delivery issues, my projects were being pushed back to late July. All of this set the tone for me to be very relaxed for the weekend.

We kicked off the weekend by checking into the Westin Chicago North Shore. You see, Dan won a free weekend in the Wheeling Suite there (yes, the suite which will be home to the Con Suite at Midwest FurFest) and he suggested that this would be the ideal weekend for it. So after we got settled in, he had to go have lunch with his cow-orkers. I met up with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus and we had dinner at Wakaba, a Japanese restaurant just up the road from the hotel. It was...underwhelming. Standard suburban strip-mall sushi, at slightly inflated prices. I don't see us going back there. After dinner we relaxed on the suite balcony (15 floors up) and relaxed. That was a nice end to the evening.

Saturday brought Dan's company picnic. He was in an organizational role this year (yeah, imagine that) and so I was left to run bingo myself. Fortunately, Paul, [livejournal.com profile] roho, and [livejournal.com profile] genet volunteered to lend a hand, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon calling bingo to several hundred people and giving away over a thousand dollars in gift cards. It was surprisingly entertaining. Afterwards, we had a quick but refreshing swim in the hotel pool, then it was time for the party.

What's the fun of having a ritzy suite if you can't have a party? We welcomes a small group of friends up to the suite, ordered pizza, and mixed up some drinks. The weather was perfect as we chatted out on the balconies, admiring the views and watching fireworks set off in distant towns. We took a break at about 10 PM and everyone went down and swam for an hour until the pool closed, then it was back upstairs to chat and refill our drinks. I had a fantastic time and the party really let me relax and not worry about work or Anthrocon.

On Sunday it was time to check out (after sleeping relatively late). [livejournal.com profile] jet_der_hund had spent the night with us, and he kindly assisted us in carrying all of our stuff down. Dan took a nap in the afternoon while I puttered with Anthrocon preparations. Following a reasonably short online MFF staff meeting, we both worked on AC stuff while I introduced Dan to some of Big Blue Fox's outstanding megamixes.

And now it's Monday and I'm back at work. I'm going to struggle to maintain focus and get stuff done here, but I leave here at 2 PM tomorrow, pick up Dan from work, and then we head for a brief overnight in Cleveland, then Pittsburgh Wednesday morning. By the way, A note to folks in general: if you e-mail me between now and the coming weekend, don't expect any response until after Anthrocon at the earliest!
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
A relatively busy weekend and a very busy week.

On Saturday we went to a St. Patrick's Day party; I had wanted to make something in advance but just couldn't muster the motivation, and as it turned out there was more than enough food. The corned beef and cabbage was excellent, and the shepherd's pie was really yummy too. Unfortunately, the evening was clearly taking a turn towards very heavy drinking, something that isn't really a lot of fun to be around when you're not doing the same (usually three drinks over an evening is good enough for me), so we bowed out early. Not that it's any judgment on the people involved, just...not our scene, y'know? (and even less so [livejournal.com profile] takaza's, since he rarely drinks at all)

Sunday was the second in-person Midwest FurFest staff meeting of the year at the Westin Chicago North Shore. I was pretty happy with my preparation going into the meeting, and looking at the meeting notes so kindly provided by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, I see that we managed to keep the meeting to exactly an hour. This makes me happy. Over eight years, I think I've learned that 60 minutes is just about right for our meetings; any more than that and people get restive and the meetings become more of a trial for everyone involved. I think we had a good balance of stuff addressed during the meeting and stuff addressed in smaller groups afterwards. Several staff members who hadn't seen the hotel got a tour of the place, and everyone seemed suitably impressed.

After the meeting and attendant after-meetings, we adjourned to Claim Jumper, which is located right next door to the hotel. Granted, we had a group of 16 people, but still - 2.5 hours from seating to paying and leaving seems a bit excessive. I will also say (and I preface this by saying that I'm very picky about my restaurants), I don't have much interest in going to Claim Jumper again (sorry [livejournal.com profile] little_wolf!). I've eaten once at the Lombard location and twice at the Wheeling location and I have yet to really be happy with the food there. The prices are a bit high, but that's because you are literally getting two portions (or more!) on your plate; if you don't take the other half home you're really losing out. Sadly, my fish and chips were more batter than fish, and the in-house beers were merely "meh". Oh well - I have two months to try to find the next option for our after-meeting meal.

This week has been a little nuts at work for me. On Friday my boss dropped a quick project in my lap that had me running all over on Monday getting signatures and talking with other departments. Then yesterday, I spent the day across campus implementing a laboratory instrument that I've been trying to get validated for fifteen months now. Maybe now I can finally get it and all of the associated paperwork off my plate! Today will be spent back over there making sure all the lab techs are comfortable using the instrument, then I've got meetings for much of the afternoon. Fun.

Last night brought an enjoyable surprise, though. We got a call from Linnaeus asking if we wanted to join him for dinner. He had to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet to return Briana, their floofy, brainless Samoyed, after R&G had spent the weekend skiing in Maine. We met up at BW3 in Vernon Hills and had an extremely tasty dinner (I tried the mango habanero sauce, which was really tasty but very burn-y too!). We also had a lot of fun playing NTN Buzztime, where I proved I still have my old College Bowl chops :-) Sadly, Roho was detained by his evil employer and unable to join us; this just means that we will need to get everyone together again and drink beer and play NTN. Oh darn!
duncandahusky: (Default)
Yesterday was a bit of an oddity. Both [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I had to work; Dan had to help out in his office for a bit following their relocation on Friday, and I had to go in as part of a plant-wide work day in exchange for everyone getting Monday the 24th off. I was OK with this. The majority of my department sacrificed a vacation day not to come in, but considering I went in at 9 AM and left at 1 PM, I'm glad I went in (plus I don't have any vacation days left!).

Once I got home, I worked on the dish I was making for [livejournal.com profile] datahawk's birthday party while waiting for Dan to come home from work. And waited. And waited. Right when I really started to get worried I heard the garage door open. You see, it was snowing heavily by that point, and he had to drive Route 12 from Palatine to Volo at 25-30 mph. After he got home, the snowfall intensified, and after much discussion and deliberation and worrying, we decided that it just wasn't a good idea to try to make the 42-mile drive down to the party. We're sad we couldn't attend, and I hope that everyone had a great time.

Instead, we spent the evening relaxing, watching the snow fall, and catching up on some of the tons of stuff we have on the Tivo. Dan also made some tasty macaroni and cheese. I trundled off to bed early, while he stayed up to watch stuff I'm not interested in, like "ER".

The sun is out this morning and it looks like the snow has ended. The Magical Snow Elves have come through and plowed our driveway and shoveled our sidewalk, which is lovely. We don't have much plans for today besides laundry and making plans for Christmas. I may try to get a bit of cooking done for Wuffmeet, though, if I feel motivated to run to the store. This is the first time in a few months that we've had a day completely that we didn't need to do anything, and it's a lovely, though strange, feeling!
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
And so we enter the last few weeks before Midwest FurFest. Saturday was spent doing a good bit of preparation for Midwest FurFest 2008, the fruits of which I hope will be evident at this year's Closing Ceremonies. After [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I met [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff for lunch, Dan headed home to work on Publications stuff (yes, still). Mirko and I worked on The Super Secret Project, then drove into Chicago. We had some time to kill so we tried a couple of nicer restaurants around Lincoln Square, but either their menus were unexciting or they were completely booked for the evening. Man, I hate trying to eat out on Saturday nights. We wound up settling for a small taqueria at Lincoln and Montrose that was actually amazingly good, and cost about a fifth of what dinner at any of the other places would have run. Great horchata, too! Afterwards, we headed over to an impromptu party that [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn was hosting. I'm sure descriptions of who was there and that accompanying embarrassing pictures will show up in his journal soon, but suffice to say that I had a good time and it was fun to meet his other friends. Alas, Mirko and I had to head home on the early side (i.e. before midnight), so we missed the various eating-of-cake-off-body-parts, etc. Ah well.

Sunday brought he final planning meeting for Midwest FurFest 2007. It was pretty much the shortest meeting we've had all year (36 minutes!) because really, if you don't have your act together this late in the game, you're pretty much screwed anyway. Fortunately, every appears to be on their game and we're in for an excellent convention, I think. For my part, pretty much everything that needs to ordered is in, with the exception of badge blanks and at the door registration forms, which will hopefully be sent to [livejournal.com profile] dexcat tonight. Our numbers are looking good, with not only our total attendance following past normal growth patterns, but our sponsorship numbers are matching last year's as well. The latter is a nice confirmation that we're doing something right.

After the meeting broke up, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus joined us back at our place, and we were shortly joined by [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell and [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw. Pizza was ordered, tasty cheese and crackers (and wine) was enjoyed, and we had a good time watching the season premiere of The Amazing Race 12. I was quite pleased with the outcome of the first leg, and I see several teams in there that I will really be cheering for this time around.

The rest of this week will be helping Dan with the last bits of Publications, including a really nice innovation he came up with last week: a small pamphlet for staffers that has all of the information they'll need, from telephone extensions to emergency procedures to quick schedules, and a lot more. With luck, that will be wrapped up tonight or tomorrow and we'll get a night or two to relax. On Friday we're going to Windycon in Rosemont, where we will be working on Operations staff and in our spare time maybe helping out the Dorsai. It should be a fun weekend, and it's a nice change of pace since neither of us is actually in charge or anything :-)
duncandahusky: (WTF?)
Crunch time is upon us for Midwest FurFest. This past weekend was spent preparing several different orders for sponsor and Registration items, gathering information, etc. I won't bore you with the details, but that pretty much ate up most of my Sunday. Saturday was a lot more fun, though! While [livejournal.com profile] takaza slaved away on the Con Book and hotel issues, I made a savory sweet potato casserole which was simply divine. I figure anything that's made with half a pound of bacon and three-quarters of a pound of cheddar cheese can't be bad! I'm not a huge fan of sweet potatoes, but this was just delicious! I was fascinated by the way the sweet potatoes added a complex, almost curry-like flavor to the dish. The dish was my contribution to [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad's birthday party; once it was done I packed it into a cooler with layers of towels to keep it warm and drove on down. The casserole was a hit (yay!) and the party was a blast. I was able to chat with [livejournal.com profile] perro, [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph, and [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus about con stuff (sorry if the smoffage put everyone else off!) and had a great time chatting with all of the other folks there.

On top of all of this we have the preparations for Midwest FurFest 2008. I was vastly relieved to get confirmation of our second (of three) guests of honor yesterday. The third slot will probably remain open until early next year. A theme has also been chosen, so we can go ahead and add those to the promotional materials for next year. (What's the theme and who are the Guests of Honor? Come to Closing Ceremonies and find out!) This is a nice weight off my mind, though.

Unfortunately, Dan's health issues continue, with good days and bad days. I worry about him a lot, and it's frustrating that there's really not a lot I can do to help. We'll muddle through this somehow, but I do hope it passes sooner than later.

In happier news, a couple of nice things from yesterday: 1. My Aeropress came in the mail. I may make my first cup of coffee with it tonight (early in the evening, though!). 2. With CBS canceling the apparently-execrable "Viva Laughlin", the gap in the schedule opens the door for the premiere of the new season of The Amazing Race on Sunday, November 4 at 7 PM CT. Yaaaaay! Anyone interested in making a social event of the premiere?
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Ugh. It appears that both [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I were afflicted with insomnia last night, during different parts of the night. That make for slow canines this morning!

The weekend was quite entertaining, for all that it started inauspiciously. On Saturday morning I had to make another visit to my podiatrist (cut for those not interested in medical details) ) After that, Dan and I puttered around the house for a while before heading out to [livejournal.com profile] dancingninny and [livejournal.com profile] artemisfur's place in Dekalb for their "Flood Party" (it hadn't started out to be a flood party, but due to the weather it kind of got that way).

The drive there was interesting - between detours for construction and random roads being closed due to flooding, it was something of a challenge to get to the house. And what a house! They've got some awesome digs there, hidden in the blandness of a suburban neighborhood. My only addition to the place would be a nice spacious deck on the back, but I can understand their priorities (and the delays, as well!). The party was a blast, and it was great to see so many of our friends there (and the burgers were quite tasty!). Alas, we had to head out early, once again having to hit the road before the party really gets started. Bleah.

The drive home is worth mentioning as well. We learned that while you might be able to drive around the "Road Closed" signs to carefully ford the water across the road in the daytime, if you try that at night you'll get a $300 ticket. Fortunately, we witnessed this happening as we stopped for directions around the closed road and were not the recipients of said ticket. Once we pingponged around Dekalb County a bit we finally got to IL 47 and headed home. I wasn't quite tired and I suggested something that we haven't done in ages (for me, in decades!): midnight breakfast! So we stopped at Around the Clock in Crystal Lake (the only 24-hour joint we passed on the way home) and I had pancakes while Dan had bacon and eggs. We amused ourselves by eavesdropping on the drunk people around us. We got home at about 1:30 AM and got to bed at about 2.

Sunday was intended to be spent working on Midwest FurFest-related stuff, but it didn't work out that way. We wound up making a circuit of Lake and McHenry Counties. First we took an extensive tour of some townhomes being built right near my employer. They are quite lovely, but they won't be building any more with basements until early 2009. We found just the model that we liked, and with a basement it would be a killer floor plan (think 12' x 16' kitchen with a nice big island!). The biggest problem is that, with the expected $20,000 - 30,000 of upgrades we'd probably want, I expect the price would come in at around $260,000. The good news is that we'd be better equipped to deal with a home purchase (at ANY price) come 2009, but will we be equipped to handle that much? We'll have to see.

After that, we drove over to the grand opening of Wickes Furniture in McHenry where we drooled over sectionals with recliners and sleigh beds. Alas, having looked at real estate immediately before, I was reminded that extending our debt with still more revolving credit is probably not a good idea, so we'll see if we can keep our sofas alive for a little bit longer. Toward the end of our shopping there, we stopped by the customer service counter to pick up tickets for the pig roast they were hosting outside. Taking in Dan's Hawaiian shirt and my T-shirt, the woman there (obviously) lied and said they were running out of food and declined to give us tickets as we walked out they were setting out more food from the grill). OK then. If we ever should purchase anything from Wickes Furniture, we'll be buying from some other store than that one.

After a quick bite for lunch and a disappointing stop by a farmstand, we circled back to Garden Fresh Market and picked up the week's groceries. I was supposed to make chicken tikka masala for dinner, but we had eaten lunch late enough that neither of us were hungry, so that got deferred to later in the week. The evening was spent relaxing and watching Alton Brown, which is always entertaining!

And now, this week: Not too much going on, though we'll be needing to make some decisions by Wednesday about what we'll be grilling up this weekend for friends and family; that will probably entail a trip to Antioch Packing House. Other than that, the usual grind, which is just fine.
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
You know, as exhausted as I felt at work on Friday, I was astonished at how much energy I had when I got home. It turned out that the power had actually come back on at 8:30 AM, which meant that while the freezer was pretty much OK, some serious culling needed to be done in the refrigerator. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad - mostly party leftovers and anything with dairy in it (including, sadly, the Keke Key Lime Pie liqueur). Once [livejournal.com profile] takaza got home, we talked a bit about dinner and decided that we both wanted something more than a hot dog. We decided that Indian food sounded good, so we met up with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet for dinner at Bombay City. The food was, as always, delicious and the company was excellent as well. It was fortunate that we weren't far from home, because once the food coma set in, I was very quickly ready to fall asleep.

Saturday found Dan and over at his mother's house with some family to play some games. I have to admit I had some trepidation going in, but I was readily accepted and we had a whole lot of fun. We played Scene It, Apples to Apples, and Taboo, and it was a blast. It was even better since we moved the table out to the deck and we got to enjoy a perfectly beautiful day outside. At about 7:30, it was time to head south to [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin's birthday party. Because it was such a beautiful evening, we wound up taking back roads through Crystal Lake down to Randall Road, all the way down to Aurora. It was a very pleasant drive along the western edge of the densest Chicago suburbs. When we got to the Holiday Inn Select Naperville (her party was held in conjunction with Duckon), we hung out for a little while, but as is always so typical, between being tired and having a long drive ahead of us, we had to leave before the party really got going well. It was a pleasure to see so many of our friends, albeit briefly. One nifty thing: On the way out through the parking lot we passed by the Tesla coil demonstration. I thought to grab our camera out of the car and grabbed a quick 30-second video of the powerful electrical arcs, which were set to music:


On Sunday, we met up with Roho and Genet to see Waitress. It was a lovely movie, and I really enjoyed it. Not too deep or profound, but enjoyable nonetheless. Keri Russell was fantastic in her role, Nathan Fillion was adorable as always, and the late director was also very good in her supporting role; it's a crying shame that she passed away before the move was released. After the movie we retired back to our place for a marathon of home improvement shows, including Hometime, The Real Estate Pros, and Flip This House (as well as some Good Eats and Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares). We ordered some pizza somewhere in there, and mainly just relaxed and hung out. Quite a nice, low-stress day. Right before bed, though, I was contacted with an interesting bit of news that left me a bit gobsmacked and made getting to sleep difficult. Nothing bad, just surprising.

And so we have this week. Looks like I may have to work some off hours this week (and maybe the next few weeks) to support a project here, which is fine. If anything, it's unusual that I haven't been asked to do this before, and it's not as if it's mandatory (the boss is cool like that). We'll work something out.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
So, other stuff going on...

I neglected to mention that last Friday we met [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet for dinner at Scott Dogs, a tasty find on Grand Ave. in Lake Villa. I had a couple of homemade empanadas and the (gulp!) deep fried dog. It was excellent, but the cheese sauce was over-the-top. Afterwards we went down to Wine Knows in Grayslake to check out their Friday evening tasting and Roho picked up a bottle of a tasty Spanish cava. We capped off the evening by going next door to Something's Brewing for some dessert; [livejournal.com profile] takaza got a hot chocolate, and I got to demonstrate the lost art of pouring hot beverages down the front of your shirt. No harm done, except to my dignity.

On Saturday evening, we met Roho and Genet again for a coffee tasting at Grinders in downtown Grayslake. It was definitely an introductory session, but they covered some interesting aspects of regional coffee variations, and we had a lot of fun. I've never really drank that much black coffee, and I found out why when all that acid returned with a vengeance later that night. Ugh.

This week we've been relaxing a bit, which is nice. Erin ([livejournal.com profile] nymphara) hitched a ride home with Dan on Monday night rather than deal with her commute in from the South Suburbs on Tuesday - good call. We had a pleasant evening watching some good episodes of Heroes and The Dresden Files. Then last night we went to work on shipping out the leftover sponsor items from MFF. We actually sold seventeen sponsorships after we ran out of pint glasses, and in the chaos of the holidays then moving this was the first chance we've had to get these out. Dan kindly packed everything up; I had to print up the letters to go inside the boxes and the shipping labels today. I'll seal them all up and put them in my car tonight and take them to the post office tomorrow. After that, my focus tonight is going to be on making a tasty batch of chicken and dumplings. Yum!

Finally, PICTURES! Erin posted the pictures that she (and Dan) took at my surprise birthday party on Sunday. Lost of great (and embarrassing) shots there :-)

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