duncandahusky: (Me- Jacket)
And now it's come to this: After seven years, my final Midwest FurFest Registration Report.

Executive Summary: Proper Prior Planning Prevents P*ss-Poor Performance.

In hindsight, I can see that it is a good thing that this was my last year as Registration Director for Midwest FurFest. A whole lot of the planning that went into this year fell into the category of "let's do it like we did last year", which is great for maintaining the status quo but also stifles creativity and innovation. If you don't change, you don't improve. So while everything went well this year and there were no complaints, I'm still leaving somewhat dissatisfied, but glad things are being turned over into good hands.

Pre-Convention Planning )

At the Convention )

Traffic Analysis )

Demographic Analysis )

This concludes my Registration Reports for Midwest FurFest for the foreseeable future. Will I write something similar as chairman next year? Tune in and find out!

I want to close by thanking everyone who made my tour at Registration such an enjoyable and fulfilling experience:
Kodian - who stepped in the first year and got us off to a great start
Rustitobuck - who created not one but two completely new Registration systems that have made us the model of efficiency that we are today, and also for suffering through my panicked requests for technical support with dignity and grace
Rama - for providing a bulletproof online registration system
Puma - for making online registration possible and putting up with my quirky requests
DaveQat and Neowolf - both have served as my second in command over the years and both were helpful, reliable, and personable (well, mostly personable, in Dave's case :-)
Everyone who has served on Registration staff over the last seven years - Every single one of you is amazing and fabulous. Want to help out next year? ;-)
Robert King, Aureth, Takaza, and Linnaeus - all the past chairmen of Midwest FurFest. Each of them provided support and guidance when I needed it. I can only hope that I can live up to the fine legacy that you gentlemen have created.
And finally I (again) owe my thanks to my loving husband Takaza, who has gone above and beyond to support, advise, remonstrate, and put up with me. I love you, Dan!

With this report I turn the reins of Midwest FurFest Registration over to Neowolf. I do so knowing that the department will be in good hands.

I will see all of you next year as Chairman of Midwest FurFest at the Westin Chicago North Shore!
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: (Inquisitive)
Another year, another frantic scramble to get everything required for Registration set up. It stuns me to realize that this is the seventh year I've been doing this, but I'm also realizing that it's really a good thing that I'll be handing off the reins for this next year. A certain sense of "just do it the same way we did last year" sets in, and that's not good when we're pushing for innovation and excitement about the convention. I'm sure [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2 will bring some great new perspective to the position and go great places with it.

So, what has consumed all my time over the last few weeks? Well, let me tell you... )

In addition to all of that, I've been helping Dan with the Con Book and Pocket Program, working on a few small pieces of it while he assembles the whole. He was up until almost 12:30 AM last night working on the Pocket Program; I do hope that he can get that completed and off to the printer in the next day or so. He needs the sleep!
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: (Thoughtful)
Midweek updates are always so boring, but hey, what the heck.

I've been updating the Midwest FurFest registration database over the last few days, and I should be sending out the next batch of confirmation postcards in the next day or so. The dribs and drabs of online registrations have become a steady trickle, one that will steadily increase until the end-of-September cheap preregistration deadline, then it'll stay steady for the next month and a half until only registration ends. Our numbers are looking good still; a healthy amount of growth, but nothing to cause me to freak out. Yet. We'll see :-)

[livejournal.com profile] takaza is off in Indiana this week, crunching numbers in the heart of Da Region until at least tomorrow. Last night was pretty quiet. I watched some TV while making a quick dinner, then ran some errands before coming home and heading to bed early. After work today, I figure I'm going to change into some more comfy clothes (and get these damn shoes off) and wander around the Grayslake Farmer's Market. My goal is to see if I can find enough interesting fresh stuff to put together a meal from. We'll see how successful I am.

As for my toe, it's healing up as fast as I'd hoped. After gimping around badly yesterday (enough that the limp was causing muscle pain in that leg), I'm able to walk a bit more normally today, albeit somewhat slower than usual. Walking in my Birkenstock sandals is MUCH easier and less painful, but since I work in a manufacturing environment that's not really an option during the day.

As for other hot-button topics flying around LiveJournal these days, I've been thinking of a valuable piece of advice I received many years ago: "A closed mouth gathers no foot." I suspect I'll be heeding that for the foreseeable future.

So. Looking ahead to the next few weekends, we have Indian food on Friday, LAFF softball on Saturday (no idea what's up afterwards, but I suppose I'll think of something), then...something on Sunday. I don't think we have any plans right now, but that can change. And next weekend: for the first time in years, I'm actually going to skipping Irishfest in favor of the Chicago Air and Water Show. Should be fun!
duncandahusky: (Me- Jacket)
Another year, another Midwest FurFest Registration report. For those of you who like to look back in history, you can find past Registration reports since 2002 here.

Executive Summary: Good heavens, where did all these people come from? But we made it work anyway.

Click here to read the (long!) report )
See you all next year!
duncandahusky: (Geeky)
As one might have guessed from my last update, Midwest FurFest is weighing heavily on my mind.

Friday I took [livejournal.com profile] takaza into work and took advantage of the glorious weather to take some nice pictures in and around McHenry County (well, except for the first one; that's on Milwaukee Ave. in Niles). You'll be seeing some of those pictures again come the convention. After driving for several hours I made a big loop and stopped back by Schaumburg and found a good place for MFF to store our stuff for the next year right near the hotel. I'll be stopping by there later this week to nail down a contract with them. Afterwards I went to Dan's employer and read the paper and killed some time until he was ready to leave, only about two hours after quitting time. [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell was over visiting so we had a pleasant evening of dinner from the taquiera and good conversation.

On Saturday I took off early and headed up to [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet's place where we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2 and attempted to assemble all of the parts of the Registration server. Things didn't go quite as well as we'd hoped. Computer geekery ensued, and Unix-y troubleshooting )

After we wrapped up our work on the Registration system, I met Dan and [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff for dinner at Johnny's Chophouse in Prospect Heights. It took a long time to get seated and the food took even longer to get to us, but it was pretty good once it got there. And the "Moonshine" (Level vodka, Peach schnapps, and cranberry juice) was extremely tasty.

Then on Sunday it was time for the last-minute "Oh Sh#t!" MFF staff meeting. This just entailed going around the room and making sure all of the departments were ready to go. I made the happy discovery mentioned above, and that made the day so much better. After we wrapped up, Dan and I grabbed dinner at Potbelly's, then came home and worked on some last-minute signage and watched The Amazing Race (the ending of which, while sad, was pretty much destined to occur).

So here we are: a new week. I've got some househusband stuff to deal with today (laundry, groceries), as well as some more signs to work on. Wednesday I'm planning on visiting Neowolf's to work on the Registration system, and hopefully make any PHP tweaks that might be necessary for the system, though an additional pilgrimage to Rusty's sometime thereafter may be necessary (Rusty: we'll talk about scheduling should it become necessary. I don't want to dump anything on you unexpectedly!) Friday through Sunday we'll be at Windycon, where Dan and I are on staff in Operations. That should be a fun weekend, made all the better by a relatively relaxed atmosphere and the fact that we're not actually in charge of anything :-)
duncandahusky: (happygolucky)
My life, reduced to bullet points:
  • On Tuesday I had an interview with large nameless healthcare company that happens to be in Round Lake, IL. Promising position, and would be very exciting. Contract-to-hire, three or six month contract (to be determined), then hire full time at 15% less pay (but with benefits and vacation). If hired, it'd be a bitch of a commute for the short term, but we've been wanting to get a place in the Northwest Burbs, and this would be the catalyst to do so. I might know something by the end of next week. Maybe. The good news is that my recruiter is going to see about submitting me to another position at the same company.

  • Not much action on any other fronts. Still putting out lots of resumes, but not a lot of nibbles. It’s a bad time of the year to be unemployed, unfortunately. The good news is that between Dan's income and unemployment, we're covered for the short term, at least.

  • So this leaves me lots of time to sit around and play video games all day? Not likely. This is the peak time for preparations for Midwest FurFest. In addition to being an engineer, I suddenly get to become a graphic designer, making layouts for all of the items we're having imprinted, plus designing the staff and attendee badges. We're trying some new stuff (thus all of the nifty new equipment) that will hopefully make our lives easier and make Registration run even faster. So in addition to being an engineer and a graphic designer, I also get to be a software designer/network engineer, as we tweak the Registration system to accommodate the new equipment. I also get to flex my management skills, since once the programming schedule is posted I need to figure out how to schedule the seventeen (!) people we have on Registration staff to maximize volunteer hours for those that want them and to make sure no one has to miss any event they wanted to see. You understand why I get a bit flustered at the convention approaches.

  • It's been a chilly day here, inside and out. I didn't notice it earlier when I absorbed in computer work, but now I'm realizing my fingers are getting a bit numb. I've set foot outside only to get the paper this morning, but the chill is quite penetrating. I'll have to brave the cold later to go out and forage for dinner - I'm not really looking forward to that.

  • Tomorrow looks a lot more interesting, though. The present plan is that I will drop [livejournal.com profile] takaza off at work, stop for some breakfast, stop by the printer to drop off the files for the attendee badges, then strike out westward to take pictures of...something. Things that evoke "County Fair". Yeah, it would have been nicer to do this earlier in the year, but we didn't realize just what nice signs we were going to be having. It should be a nice, clear, chilly day, and I expect I'll be driving around Huntley, Marengo, and Woodstock, which is very pretty country anyway. Later in the day I'll pick Dan up at work and we'll do, um, something.

  • This bullet point intentionally left blank
duncandahusky: (Chewy!)
Yeah, no posts of note last week. I was feeling kind of down and much feel like posting.

So what did I do? Well, on Wednesday I struck out northwestwards to get some pictures for use by Midwest FurFest. This put me conveniently near the engravers who handle our staff badges every year, so I was able to stop by, chat a bit, and kick around ideas for this year's designs. I'm pretty happy with what we decided on, and now all I have to do is e-mail him the template and the list of names and titles and we'll be good to go (and this year I won't forget the Guests of Honor like I did last year, with that lovely "Oh sh#t!" moment on Wednesday night). Afterwards, I drove down and picked up [livejournal.com profile] takaza after work. Last week was month-end for him, and between doing the work of multiple people and the stress of more and more tasks being piled on him, it was not a good week. I hope I was able to help a little bit, anyway.

On Thursday, after I took Dan in to work, I stopped by the MFF storage locker and picked up a few things, and dropped off a few things that had been sitting in [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus's garage since Anthrocon, as well. I stopped by a printer and got a quote for the attendee badges for this year - we're going to a new, faster system, but wow, the price of badge blanks just got a lot more expensive! I need to call a couple more places for quotations and see if I can get the price down at all. That was also an especially tough day for Dan at work, so I drove back out and picked up dinner for him (and a tasty milkshake as a special treat), and after we ate I sat at the desk across from him and read the paper while he finished up; he finished up and we left $employer a little after 9 PM.

Dan got out of work surprisingly close to on time on Friday, and in much better spirits too. After I picked him up, we took back roads up to Antioch and had a lovely evening with [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, and the visiting-from-Maryland [livejournal.com profile] ottr. We had a delightful evening filled with tasty burgers at Charcoal Grill, a hysterical shopping trip in the liquor department of Woodman's, drunken Apples to Apples, and the alarmingly rapid consumption of a bottle of Pucker ("How does it taste?" "Blue."). The next morning, following a typically delicious breakfast at Las Vegas Restaurant (mmm, chocolate chip pancakes...), we all went our separate ways.

The rest of the weekend was spent working on MFF-related stuff: preparing last-minute orders for promotional materials, Dan working on the con book, me helping Dan work on the con book, and other fun stuff. I've got a stack of confirmation postcards to go out (and I need to print more of them and buy more postage - great googly moogly, that's a lot of registrations!) We also took some amusing pictures to accompany the Chairman's Welcome (I'll be keeping those for future blackmail material, Paul ;-) Dinner Sunday night was some tasty steaks, and catching up with "The Amazing Race."

Lots to do this week - hopefully some good stuff going on tomorrow, but in the meantime there's a ton of orders I need to place and phone calls I need to make. Never a dull moment...
duncandahusky: (huskypuppy)
And now with the charts and the tables and the statistics and oy!
Click for the report )
duncandahusky: (Me- Jacket)
This is the Registration Report for Midwest FurFest 2005. This marked the sixth Midwest FurFest and my fifth year running registration. You'd think I'd have things down pat by now, but I am always working on improving and making things run smoother. This is the third year that I've tried to put together a comprehensive Registration report (see reports for 2003 and 2004), and while it helps me sum up the year and make notes for next year, I also welcome any questions or comments anyone reading this might have as well.
Click to read the report )

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