duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
You've been following along with all of the puzzles this week, now it's time to find out how everyone did. Click to see who won, who placed, and who just had a bunch of fun )

I hope that everyone who participated enjoyed themselves. Takaza and I had a blast putting together and running the puzzle hunt. Will there be one next year? Perhaps :-) Then again, you may see a puzzle hunt at an event near you, sooner than you expected!
duncandahusky: (Fruity Oaty Bars!)
And now, the last checkpoints in the New Year's Puzzle Hunt!

The title of this puzzle is "Rockin' Around The Clock". The following text was printed below:

Donnie was a player, all right. But he got played. He was supposed to pick up his girlfriend, Veronica, for the darts at her place at 12:33 PM. Little did he know that she had just had a cozy little lunch with his best friend, Leon, that finished at 12:21 PM. She rushed home and got there at 12:30 PM, just before Donnie did. She checked her text messages and saw that Leon wanted to meet again at 12:45 PM, so she told Donnie that she wasn.t feeling well, and left poor Donnie standing at her front door at 12:33 PM, right when he was supposed to be there.

Go to where you commonly lose these, and text or call us and tell us: How much does it cost to get these wet?
Click for solutions )
The title of this puzzle is "Double Feature". The following text was printed below:
The last few months have produced some great movies! If you like train flicks, there was Unstoppable. Disney gave us some cute animation with Tangled. Prefer westerns? There.s Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, too. All the reviews say Natalie Portman is great in Black Swan. Unfortunately, there are some bad ones out there, though, like Yogi Bear. And the plot in Tron: Legacy got somewhat muddled. As long as you didn.t want something deep or profound, though, it was a fun movie to see.

There are some very interesting movies coming up, also. The French film La Chance de Ma Vie asks, .What if Eve had not eaten the apple in Eden?. In Season of the Witch, Nicolas Cage plays a Crusader battling to save a woman everyone thinks is a witch. Ong Bak 3 moves the martial arts action to Hawaii. And I hope that they will not screw up the story with The Green Hornet. More than likely the producers are going to mess that up, though.
So.now that you know what to look for, find them and text or call us with the sum of all of them.
Click for solutions )
The title of this puzzle is "Mastering Administration". The following text was printed below:
Find this picture:

When you find it, text or call us and tell us: What is the number on the phone?
Click for solutions )
The title of this puzzle is "Well, That.s Just Dandy". The following text was printed below:
You see, this is the fifth year of Wuffmeet. That.s a lot of parties. When we started these things, we had
an idea that they might be fun, but never expected how well they would take off. From the La Quinta to
new digs at the Hampton Inn, we.ve been through four hotels and have provided twenty or thirty or so
kinds of meals and entertaining things for folks to do. At first it was just a nice get-together, a muddled
event where we got some friends together for Memorial Day. Then came the first FRAC, a fun race where all .
even those who didn.t finish . had a fun time. After that, we decided to schedule Wuffmeet on New Years. Eve.

Growing each year, we continued to get more and more ambitious. The second FRAC had the participants going
outside The Loop, into River North and battling crowds in Wrigleyville, and Lincoln Square. Then, the runners bid adieu
in grand style to the city, solving a difficult puzzle on the way back to the finish line. We were afraid the race might flop .
never were we so glad to be wrong! Will we do it again? You bet! Puzzle hunts are too fun to stop so soon, period.

So, here.s a question: Where can we find uncle? Text or call us when you know.
Click for solutions )
The last three envelopes in the teams' packets were fakes :-) This was a way for us to make sure that no one was just opening envelopes indiscriminately. The clues in each of these read "Text or call us with the word .Derp. and we.ll tell you your next clue."

Oh, and the room key that was in each packet? That was another red herring - it was blank.

So, how did the teams do? Tune in this weekend for the full results!
duncandahusky: (Default)
The Puzzle Hunt continues! Yesterday we had the first three checkpoints, now here's the next three:

The title of this puzzle is "Just Like The Dorsai". The following text was printed below:

hampton wildfire factory company
inn potbelly kona cosi
milwaukee redrobin grill
bigbowl cheesecake noodles

When you solve the puzzle and find the item, text or call and tell us:
What is the sum of these ladies?

Click for solutions )
The title of this puzzle is "Touch And Go". The following text was printed below:

Text or call and tell us: Who is the leader of this group?
Click for solutions )

The title of this puzzle is "Upstairs, Downstairs". The following text was printed below:

So.who is it? Text or call us when you know.
Click for solutions )

Tune in tomorrow for more checkpoints...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
So, how did you do on the Trivia Quiz? If you found it tough, don't feel too bad - it was supposed to be! The average score on the quiz was 46%, with a low score of 30% and a high score of 72%. At 6 seconds per correct answer, that means that everyone got at least a little bonus out of it, from as little as two minutes to as much as three minutes and 36 seconds. (Side note: Thanks to Genet and Street for grading the trivia quizzes!) Also: Want to see the trivia quiz answers? Highlight the black boxes in the first post and you'll be able to see them!

At this point we handed out packets to each team. On the front of each packet was written the team name, a phone number, and the name of the first checkpoint for the team. Inside were thirteen envelopes, a bag of jelly beans, and a Hampton Inn room key. The envelopes were labeled Skwentna , Rohn, Nikolai , McGrath , Takotna , Ophir, Shageluk, Anvik, Grayling, Kaltag, Unalakeet, Shaktoolik, and Koyuk. As I'm sure you know (really?), these are all stops on the Iditarod Trail. The names don't really have any significance beyond providing a name for each checkpoint that was non-sequential.

The phone number on the packets was intended for the teams to text requests for hints and guesses at answers to. The phone numbers were actually Takaza and my Google Voice numbers, and we had half of the teams reporting to him, and half reporting to me. After about 20 minutes, though, Dan and I got utterly swamped with the incoming text messages. Instead, we switched to having the teams report to the common room for hints and to submit their answers, one team allowed in the room at a time. This turned out a lot better, since it allowed more interaction and allowed us to better gauge how things were going.

Let's start in with the checkpoints!
The general format for each checkpoint was that the teams first had to solve a puzzle, then use the information derived from the puzzle to answer the question posed in the clue.

The title of this puzzle is "Surely You Can't Be Serious". The following text was printed below:

jyi acfbvagi cz wvpcgq ycqy moif eagyajjag. cj cz rviafvp a ocgjaqi emniv, agn gmj hdcvj firigjvp. zm jivv dz: xyaj piaf xaz jyi bcrjdfi jalig?

Click for the solutions )

The title of this puzzle is "X Marks The Spot". The following text was printed below:

Look under the X for your next question.
Click for the solutions )

The title of this puzzle was "As Easy As A Clapton Riff" and the following text was printed below:
A Green Apple
B Cream Soda
C Strawberry Cheesecake
D Crushed Pineapple
E Buttered Popcorn
F Sizzling Cinnamon
G Sour Peach
H Red Apple
I Strawberry Jam
J Skunk Spray
K Lemon Lime
L Island Punch
M Juicy Pear
N Caramel Corn
O Dr. Pepper
P Chili Mango
Q Chocolate Pudding
R Mango
S Strawberry Daiquiri
T Kiwi
U Baby Wipes
V Centipede
W Lemon Drop
X Top Banana
Y Raspberry
Z Very Cherry

Use the Jelly Beans.

Find number 66. Text or call us with the ID number.

Click for the solutions )
So that's the first three checkpoints. More to come tomorrow!
duncandahusky: (Geeky)
This year at Wuffmeet we held the initial New Year's Puzzle Hunt. Teams spent an afternoon racing around the Hampton Inn Lincolnshire trying to work through the clues and get the answers to the questions we posed to them in the fastest time with the least number of hints. The rules were simple:
1. No asking for help from anyone else or using the Internet.
2. If you leave the hotel You're Doing It Wrong.

After a bit of sorting out, we got everyone together into eleven teams of two. They were:
Coondog DataHawk & Linnaeus
Die Piggies! Rama & RB
Easy As Jam Aureth & Jenne
Ginger Squee Initially Basil & Jen, then Quasi & Jen
Isentropic/Failing Illini Hartree & Roho
Minot Artemis & Dbruin
Team Awesome Woody & AidenDingo
Team Burnout Stevie & Zexyz
Team Hot Tub Spork & Madius
Team Rawr Rusty & Kellic
Team Slobber Tolemur & Vish

We started out with a 50-question trivia quiz. There was no penalty for incorrect answers, but each correct answer was worth a 6-second reduction in the final time. We gave everyone exactly ten minutes to complete the quiz. The quiz is shown below (highlight the black box to get the answer).
The Trivia Quiz... )

Once the ten minutes were up, we sent all of the teams out at once. We had a total of ten checkpoints for each team to complete. The order in which each team visited the checkpoints was randomized for each team. What were the checkpoints? You'll have to tune in here tomorrow to find out! :-)
duncandahusky: (Default)
Wuffmeet 2010 is over! And damn, was it good.

For those wondering, Wuffmeet is a gathering of our (Takaza and my) friends that we hold every year at a hotel around the Chicago area. The number of people in attendance varies, but this year was one of our bigger ones, with around 70 in attendance. This year we moved from a Courtyard to a Hampton Inn, and I think it was a move for the better. Certainly the function space was an upgrade: we went from two rooms and a room on the side for booze to a single large room where everyone could eat, chat, and drink. The hotel rooms were better, and the suites were actual suites. We were in a great suite right next to the function space, where we had the luxury of a full-sized refrigerator and a kitchenette.

We started things off with a fantastic dinner that RB put together. Fourteen of us ventured down to Otom Restaurant in Chicago for an excellent meal (and some really tasty drinks - who knew butternut squash juice could be so good in a cocktail?). This made for an excellent start to the weekend.

Friday we started things off with getting the common room organized, then a nice day of hanging out, chatting, and welcoming friends as they arrived. The annual Wuffmeet Poker Tournament was that afternoon, and it was won by Gir, with Rama in second place. Then it was time to set up for dinner, which was an excellent meal catered by one of our favorite Chicago BBQ places: Smoque BBQ. I was happy to see that we ordered almost the exactly correct amount, just a little too much. Can't ask for more for a buffet! We had ice cream for dessert, and got to the serious business of partying in the new year. We served champagne (and sparkling cider) for the toast at midnight, and the other New Year's revelers in the hotel were vastly amused by the appearance of fursuiters in the lobby.

Saturday started as slowly as you might expect. Once folks started making appearances in the common room, I put some hot dogs on to heat up. Those seemed to go over well. Lunch was followed immediately by something new: The New Year's Puzzle Hunt. This was an awesome new event that Dan and I had a blast putting together. Look for a series of posts to follow detailing all of the quizzes, puzzles, and solutions! For dinner this night, we had served tacos - beef, chicken, cheese, onions, lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, avocados, and the choice of corn or flour tortillas. For dessert we had a variety of cakes and pastries. In the evening, there was more socializing, somewhat less boozing (what a surprise, given the previous night), and we capped things off a session of "Horrors from the Web" (though really, it was more relegated to "Horrors from e621" :-)

We had originally announced that we would wrap up the party on Sunday, but when Dan and I realized we had Monday off, we decided to push on through one more day. Unfortunately, many did not have the luxury of a holiday on Monday, so over half of the group left over the course of the day. For me personally this was the best day of Wuffmeet, and a reminder why I enjoy the party so damn much. It was a very low-key day, with some socializing, some chilling and browsing the net, and finally some swimming (my first chance to do so all weekend). For dinner we ordered pizza from Lou Malnati's, and it was very good.

Today, the last stragglers gathered for brunch at the nearby Walker Bros. Pancake House - a hearty group of nine folks. Great company, and good food - an enjoyable way to finish off the weekend. Thanks so much to Jet, Hunter, Rusty, and Josh for their assistance in getting everything packed up into our cars. We got home at around 2:30 PM, and had unloaded and picked up Buddy from Dan's mom by 3:30 PM.

So yeah. Wuffmeet really rocked, I think. A few things in summary, from my personal perspective:
What worked
* The new hotel was a great fit for the party, and the beds were much more comfortable
* A single room make things feel more cohesive, and having the (epic) bar close at hand was quite nice as well
* The Puzzle Hunt was a blast!
* I loved the Thursday night dinner - a very nice way to start the party off
* The food from Smoque is always delicious!
* The media PC was a good addition. Having the low-level background music was nice. Many thanks to Gir for bringing the projector!

What didn't work
* The taco bar, while tasty, was a crazy amount of work. I spent 8 hours cooking the beef and chicken on Thursday (with the generous assistance of Roho and Genet!), and that was very stressful for me
* The way events were scheduled, and the proximity of the puzzle hunt to the taco bar ramped up the stress for both Dan and me
* No more garlic for Dan!
* An event like this is getting too big for two people to do everything - we need to start delegating some of the work around to others, or we won't get any of the relaxation time that makes Wuffmeet so great. (OK, this has been the case for the last few years, we just need to actually do it!)
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Right, about time for a proper update I suppose.

Once again, [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I were able to celebrate the new year by hosting Wuffmeet New Year's Eve (our fourth in a row). Once again, it was an awesome party as we welcome about 40 friends to the cozy confines of our usual hotel for three full days of hanging out, swimming, hot-tub-soaking, and just a wee bit of imbibing. I think we really did well on the food this year: the New Year's Eve dinner from Brown's Chicken was tasty, but Saturday night's dinner catered by Smoque was definitely a home run. Add to that a very entertaining (and very inexpensive!) trip to Whirlyball, and I'd say that it was an excellent Wuffmeet all around. Thanks to all who could make it! A notable thing about this year: it's the first Wuffmeet ever where we were in the black, even if it was just a little bit. That was a nice change, too.

Work has been crazy over the last few weeks, including having to work between Christmas and New Year's for the first time in a few years. It was annoying, but not the end of the world, even if I did have to work until 2 PM on New Year's Eve. I finally wrapped up the last bit of really high-pressure stuff yesterday, so it's nice to actually have a chance to breathe again.

Things weren't helped by the fact that both Dan and I got sick after Wuffmeet (only two of several folks who got sick, unfortunately). Dan's getting over a sinus infection and mild bronchitis, and I think I need to see a doctor about my chronic bronchitis since I'm coughing a lot at night. This should be fun since at the first of the year I moved onto my employer's health plan after having been on Dan's plan for the last eight years. We had the distressing realization that with the tax penalties for domestic partners, we were losing about $1,300 per year by keeping me on his health plan. So, I don't have a health insurance card or prescription card, but I'll need to figure out how to see a doctor in the meantime. Fun!

Finally, we had the pleasure of spending the some time with [livejournal.com profile] girtygrin, [livejournal.com profile] nikvulper, and [livejournal.com profile] eddiddiums as they visited Chicago last weekend. After hanging out and chatting at their hotel on Friday (joined by [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl, and [livejournal.com profile] tecknow as well as several locals who we saw fleetingly before they took off), we met up with them in time for brunch on Saturday, which we had at Wishbone (and were joined by [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus). The biscuits and gravy were transcendent, and my shrimp and grits were delicious.

We then walked up to Paulina Market where we picked up some tasty meats (and I got some duck fat, yum!), then it was over to Dave and Jim's place to hang out and chat for a bit. We ventured into the cold to stop by Evil Squirrel Comics to say hi to [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn and Ryan, then it was time for dinner. We wound up at The Curragh (yes, the Irish pub that was near Woodfield Mall - they finally re-opened in Norwood Park!). Dinner was excellent, and the Magner's cider was much appreciated. It was a very fun day spent with some very cool folks - we definitely need to return the favor and see more of Ann Arbor soon.

On Sunday...well, on Sunday we rested. It was glorious - a quiet day at home, and after spending the morning doing not much, I took a nap in the afternoon. Unheard of! Dan got to sleep in untilt he crack of noon as well. It was just what we needed, I think.

So that's about it right now. Oh, I did want to mention that yesterday marked the eighth anniversary of this journal. It's been a crazy eight years, but I'm pretty happy with how everything has worked out.
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
We're home now, and everything is unloaded from the cars. Unpacking will have to wait until tomorrow, at the earliest.

We had an amazing time this year, and a hell of a lot of fun hanging out with dear friends. Thanks to everyone who joined us! We are already looking forward to Wuffmeet 2010 and making plans, so you know it was a great weekend for us.
duncandahusky: (License)
So work has been eating my brain lately, but the good news is that one way or another it all wraps up by 2:30 this afternoon, which is when I have to go.

We're flying out of Milwaukee this evening at a little after 5 PM - hopefully just before the worst of the snow and ugliness that's coming. We're flying down to Atlanta, spending the night,t hen tomorrow driving up to spend Christmas with my family in exciting Anderson, SC. We'll be there until Sunday, and will be flying home Sunday night.

And next week? More work, then it'll be time for last-minute Wuffmeet preparations! But that's next week. Now, I just need to concentrate on surviving the next six hours...
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
My goodness but I'm slack about updating this. Granted, I have good reason. Following my last substantive post (way back on December 29), we kicked preparations for Wuffmeet into high gear. Wuffmeet is the New Year's Eve party that [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I have put together for the last few years. It generally consists of getting some meeting rooms at a comfy hotel, supplying a few tons of food, and putting together various bits of entertainment every so often, interspersed with visits to the pool and hot tub. This year we welcomed 50+ friends (down from last year's 70, but the calendar was unkind to us this year) and we started on Wednesday, December 31 and went clear until Sunday, January 4. It was an awesome shindig, and we had a great time hanging out with friends and meeting some new faces as well.

One of the highlights of the party was putting together a dinner buffet for 50. We're definitely still new to this so we had a few kinks, but Dan sauteed 20 lbs of chicken and served that with homemade gravy over rice, I made four pans of the lasagna Bolognese that I mentioned a few weeks back, and Dan's mom made about ten pounds of Swedish meatballs and gravy. For dessert, I made a Texas sheet cake (which came out like potent chocolately brownies) and Dan made two "Sock It To Me" cakes. I was very pleased with how it all worked out, though next year we'll work on getting everything warmer sooner.

Another highlight was a group of ten of us taking the train to downtown Chicago for lunch at Heaven on Seven, my favorite Cajun place and just an awesome restaurant all around. The gumbo was divine, and my shrimp po' boy was delicious. The bourbon chocolate pecan pie was completely over the top, but fun to share around the table. We capped off the afternoon with a quick trip to Millennium Park and a nice stop by Intelligentsia Coffee to warm up. A perfect quick trip into the city, and hopefully enough to whet the appetites of those who hadn't seen much of it before.

Mostly, though, the best parts of Wuffmeet were the times spent chatting with friends. The morning coffee chats, sitting around the hot tub, or sharing a truly awful herbal liqueur. It was a wonderful time, and we're already making plans for the coming New Year's Eve. Even more scary, we're kicking around ideas for the upcoming year that may involve the return of FRAC. Could it be? We'll see what happens!

We got home from Wuffmeet at about 3 PM on Sunday, and Dan went to bed about two hours later. We've both been pretty rough since the weekend, though he's definitely fighting off a nasty cold bug of some variety. That's had us going to bed early each night and dragging a bit through the days, which makes for unexciting journal entries :-) Still, we're working on some stuff in the background and should have some good stuff to show for it in the next week or so.
duncandahusky: (Ky00t Duncan)
We're home. The cars are unpacked, stuff is mostly stowed, and we're relaxing on the sofa. Wuffmeet 2008 was a roaring success, and we're already kicking around ideas for next year. That's generally a sign of a pretty darned good event. Thanks to everyone who came! Watch LJ over the next few days for the usual requests for feedback and stuff to help us plan for future Wuffmeets!
duncandahusky: (Stay off of my lawn!)
So after adventures in muscle spasms on Friday, I curled up with a nice combination of Valium and Vicodin. [livejournal.com profile] takaza stayed home as well because the weather was pretty lousy, with around 10" of snow falling. I napped a good portion of the day and was quite grateful for the pharmaceutical assistance.

By Saturday the spasms had pretty much abated, though my neck was still stiff. I came in to work (which was mandatory, in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off) and puttered around a bit, then Dan and I went over to his mother's to exchange Christmas gifts and enjoy a lovely dinner.

Sunday was much more relaxed, though we finally ventured into the high winds and blowing snow to do some Wuffmeet shopping. We did some price comparisons at GFS (and got some good ideas for food), picked up all of the bubbly we need for New Year's at Trader Joes, and took advantage of a fantastic sale on sodas at Meijer to get $160 or so worth of soda for $90. Unfortunately, while moving all that soda, Dan torqued his back, which has left him somewhat the worse for wear today. As for me, my neck still is a little stiff and I still get occasional pain, but I've regained about 80% mobility, which is a huge improvement.

We're supposed to drive down to St. Louis on Wednesday to spend Christmas with my parents and my sister's family, but the weather is looking most unpleasant. The snow I could deal with, but the mention of freezing rain between here and there gives me pause. I'm hoping that, at worst, we'll have to delay our departure until midday Wednesday, but if it's bad enough we may have to drive down on Christmas morning. We'll see how the weather works out. Alas, our visit down there will be brief, since Dan has to be back at work on Monday the 29th and I need to tend to all kinds of New Year's preparations. The one spot of good news is that it looks like I won't be called in during plant shutdown, which will leave me free to concentrate on party planning.

I hope everyone's holiday planning is going well. Stay warm and safe!
duncandahusky: (Husky Sign)
Whoa. Been kind of quiet around here.

Work has been busy, and between that and Midwest FurFest planning I haven't had too much to write about here.

Last week was [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus' birthday. We celebrated this by going out to one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago, Heaven on Seven. We carpooled down with [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet; Roho was kind enough to brave the horrid Friday traffic. the company made the time pass quickly, though, and we got there with time to spare. We were joined by [livejournal.com profile] simbalion, [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar, and [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck, and we had a very good meal. Not as awesome as usual (the halibut was only so-so, and the beef tips were served with an unfortunate Worcestershire-based sauce that was very like A-1 Steak Sauce), but the company and the very tasty drinks made up for it.

On Saturday I was up far too early to go in to work. We had some testing that needed to be done when the plant was not in production, and this was one of the few weekends we could do it. I got in at about 7:30 AM; by 9:30 AM the engineer we were working with had determined that the database he had prepared the upgrade files with was of a newer revision than the one on the production floor and that he had to completely revise his files. While he was doing that, I took off for home since there was nothing for me to do there. As I was leaving the parking lot I heard the dreadful "tick tick tick" sound of something lodged in one of my tires. A quick trip to the nearby tire store and a $30 repair later, I had the upholstery nail that had been lodged in my tire. Bleah. At 2 PM I got the call that they were ready to resume testing, and I went back in and worked until 6 PM or so.

Sunday morning was nice and lazy, which was pleasant and needed. At around 1 PM [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I drove down to [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell and [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw's place for a birthday party for Magicpaw and Linnaeus. Various folks were there and a fun afternoon of movies and games followed. We ducked out a little early to take care of our grocery shopping for the week, then came home and relaxed.

Back to the grind now. I've got a couple of projects going right now, one of which is in the process of wrapping up. The boss is out on vacation this week, so things aren't too stressful. On my to-do list for tonight is to cut up the ten pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts we bought on Sunday ($1.59/pound!) so we can freeze it in smaller portions perfect for a single meal.

This weekend we're hosting Dan's family for a birthday BBQ for his mom; looks like the weather will cooperate so I suspect we'll be grilling up some steaks. On Sunday there's a possibility of another BBQ, but we need to see what the plans are there.

Midwest FurFest plans are slowly coming together. If you have mentioned to me that you were interested in volunteering and I haven't yet directed you to someone, do please remind me because I have some departments in mind who could use a bit of a hand. We also have some loose plans percolating for Wuffmeet, especially on how to divide things up so Dan and I aren't quite so stressed out the whole event.
duncandahusky: (Gay Broadway!)
Well, damn. Rumor has it we give good party. I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree.

But first, I'm going to sleep...
duncandahusky: (cranky)
So after lounging around all morning yesterday I decided to get a start on the cooking for Wuffmeet. The plan was to make Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Lamb Stew. After some annoying issues that included having to buy the lamb sirloin bone-in (and subsequently getting about 2 pounds of lamb from a 7-pound hunk of meat, bone, and fat after butchering it myself), I got a later start than I would have liked. By 11 PM, the stew was done cooking, so I packed it off and put it down in the garage. I figured that the low temperature was going to be in the teens so it would chill quickly, a tall order for eight quarts of stew.

This morning I checked the internal temperature: 86 degrees F. That would mean that it spent 8 hours in the "danger zone" of between 140 and 40 degrees F, providing a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. And after some online research to confirm my suspicions, I found that even if you kill the bacteria by reheating to 165 F the toxins that the bacteria generate will still be present. And as much fun as it would be to give all of our friends food poisoning, I think I'm going to take the safest course of action and throw it all out. It sucks, but I'll chalk it up as a learning experience. Besides, the overwhelming flavor of the stew was curried carrots, which...well, it's not what I was going for. So I think I'll be making something else in its place, though I'm not sure what just yet.

Tonight's entertainment: Cooking up the Chili Con Carne (and then properly cooling and storing it!). The recipe looks delicious, and I have a couple of tweaks that I am sure will be very good.
duncandahusky: (Default)
I had all kinds of plans Friday of the wonderful cooking I was going to do when I got home from work, but as the day wore on...not so much. Instead, we opted for a simple burrito dinner and spent the evening relaxing and making plans for Saturday.

Saturday, on the other hand, things were hopping! We got a relatively early start (11 AM) and headed north towards Antioch. We got sidetracked, though, by the realization that we needed lunch and we needed to line up food for New Years Eve. How fortunate that we were going by one place that would provide a solution to both problems: Scott Dogs! Following a delicious lunch (I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich), we sat down with Scott's aunt, who runs the catering business, and we got a quick education in planning a catered event. Our original plans were for three appetizers, three entrees, three side dishes, and two desserts - all for $15 per person.

She was nice and didn't openly laugh at us, but we had a great conversation about buffet psychology, serving portions, and the virtues of having too much food vs. too little food. We scaled things back a bit in terms of options and upped the number of portions, and we only came in a little over budget (mostly due to taxes and delivery fees, which were still very reasonable considering they were planning on being closed that day and will be coming in expressly to make our order and bring it to us). So now we'll be serving roast pork and stuffing and Chicken Vesuvio, with garden salad and pasta Alfredo on the side. For dessert, we'll have homemade apple strudel and three-layer chocolate cake. Yum!

It was a great experience and extremely educational, but unfortunately also took a couple of hours we hadn't budgeted for. We scrambled to stop by Antioch Packing House and pick up stuff to put in our shiny new freezer, but had to pass on Antioch Liquors, where we had planned on buying champagne for the New Year's toast. Following a quick stop by the house to drop off our meaty purchases, it was off southwards to Schweppes, my favorite restaurant supply store. We shopped around a bit there and got some items we needed for Wuffmeet, as well as some much-needed items for our kitchen (like replacing our old, scarred cutting boards with nice new color-coded cutting boards). It wasn't a cheap visit, but we got a lot of very useful items.

From there it was down to Yorktown Mall, where we met [livejournal.com profile] aeto for a showing of The Golden Compass. Many others have reviewed it, but my thumbnail version: great cast, wonderful effects and scenery, nifty armored bears, but...it seemed to lack an essential something. I'd give it maybe a 7 out of 10, which is a heck of a lot better than the 5 out of 10 I'd give Enchanted. Still, it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours so I won't complain. Afterwards we grabbed dinner over at an Irish place in Glen Ellyn (the bangers and mash were quite tasty, though Dan's burger was less so). The evening was spent at [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] darkwolph's place, celebrating Wolphy's birthday; Perro documented that disturbingly well already, though.

When we left, we got to chip our car out of the ice that had encased it (gotta love freezing rain), then make a very short drive over to [livejournal.com profile] justincheetah and [livejournal.com profile] calapurr's place, where they were kind enough to put us up for the night. Following an excellent night's sleep and a pleasant morning chatting, we had an excellent, if rather heavy, lunch over at Juicy-O. Oooh, so good. Then we all headed over to Sam's Wine to do the booze shopping we had skipped the day before. An excellent cava was procured for New Year's Eve, as well as a number of other tasty drinkables. We parted ways from the kitties and drove home to relax and recuperate from a busy weekend.
The one thing we did accomplish that evening though was to divide, bag, seal, and freeze our meat purchases of the day before, so now we have 10 pounds of hamburger patties, three one-pound packages of bacon, and a 2.5 pound package of stew meat in our freezer, with more to come. I'll be running to Target this week for more Foodsaver bags, though!

As for the coming week, I'll be finally getting back to making that lamb, lentil, and tomato stew for New Year's, as well as a chili con carne. Oh, and I have to work on Saturday (boo!) but in exchange I get Monday the 24th off (yay!). I expect that will be a pretty laid-back workday, though.
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
Yep, it was a weekend so big it's going to need two posts!

Going into this weekend, both [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I were somewhat disappointed. For the past two years we have hosted Wuffmeet on Memorial Day weekend, a gathering of 30-or-so friends at a local hotel for a weekend of hanging out, good food, and lots of fun. This year, between conflicting schedules, lack of money, and general lack of interest (perhaps it was too soon after New Year's?), Wuffmeet just didn't come together. So we went to Plan B: Hanging out at Duncan and Takaza's. We spent a good bit of last week cleaning the house, shopping, and making plans. I'm very pleased with the way things turned out, and I think Dan is too.

On Friday, after a few last-minute cleaning tasks in the kitchen, I joined [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] midwestcougar, and [livejournal.com profile] nyuni over at The Firkin for dinner. It was a pleasure to see Nyuni again (who apparently I had met at MFF a few years back, but it was during one of the "Chairman's Receptions", so I was a little hazy on that :-) He's a fellow homebrewer and has a fine appreciation for beer, and The Firkin is the perfect place for that! Dinner was tasty and the beers were plentiful. It was quite enjoyable. Once I got home, I put the pork butts in to brine and put a nice, spicy rub on the beef brisket and put them all into the fridge.

On Saturday morning, I woke up unconscionably early. This gave me time to make coffee, catch up on e-mail and LJ, and generally enjoy a quiet hour, before going to work on the smoking. We had two eight-pound pork butts and a nearly-nine-pound beef brisket that needed to be smoked. After getting the charcoal lit and well-stoked in the firebox, I added chunks of hickory and apple wood. After a few hours, it looked like this:

As you can see, it was a bit rainy, but fortunately I had positioned the grill under our balcony and covered the balcony with a tarp, so the grill stayed nice and dry. I put the meat on to smoke at 8 AM and was able to follow the temperature of both the meat and the smoking chamber using a handy gadget I quick-ordered from Amazon on Thursday (bless you, Amazon Prime - I {heart} $2 next-day delivery). At 1:30 PM, I pulled everything off the smoker and wrapped each one in foil and put them into an over at 300 degrees F to finish off the cooking. After re-rigging the grill a bit, I started up a couple of charcoal chimneys in the main grill portion and then used those coals to grill 30 hamburgers and 16 bratwursts.

As expected, most of our guests showed up after the projected 2 PM lunch time, but over the next few hours we were joined by (big breath here) [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] midwestcougar, [livejournal.com profile] nyuni, [livejournal.com profile] serinthia, [livejournal.com profile] todd_riverden, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar, [livejournal.com profile] simbalion, [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin, [livejournal.com profile] uncle_vlad, [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] foxish, [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, [livejournal.com profile] magicpaw, [livejournal.com profile] rcking, [livejournal.com profile] nymphara, [livejournal.com profile] rustitobuck, Dan's mom, [livejournal.com profile] luckytheevildog, and [livejournal.com profile] quasiskunk (I think that's everyone).

In an additional bizarre and random occurrence, I got a call from my sister that my mom, who was flying from Portland, Oregon to Greenville, South Carolina via O'Hare, was going to miss her flight and probably be stranded in Chicago for the night. Right after we had finished slicing the brisket and pulling all the pork and we were about to start setting the food out, I got the call from Mom that she was at O'Hare. I jumped into the car and about the 90-minute round trip to the airport and Mom got to hang out with some of the folks who were at the party (she mainly stayed in the garage "smoking lounge"). So it was a weird twist, but it was a real pleasure to see her again.

The rest of the evening was filled with Apples to Apples, consumption of Beverages, and general merriment. Thanks to all the folks who brought side dishes (Robert's orzo salad was tasty!), desserts (Jaycee's ever-full boxes of cupcakes!) and drinks. That many people in our little townhouse gets a bit crazy, but we have so much fun hosting these parties and I hope everyone had as great a time as we did.

Next post: Sunday and Monday - Las Vegas, games, werewolves, and new addictions!
duncandahusky: (Default)
Now that was a goddamn good party.
duncandahusky: (Tom and Dan)
The weekend is done and we are pleased to report that Wuffmeet 3 was a success! Thanks so much to the wonderful folks who showed up to make the weekend so much fun: [livejournal.com profile] artemisfur, [livejournal.com profile] crim_ferret, [livejournal.com profile] werellama, [livejournal.com profile] datahawk, [livejournal.com profile] daveqat, [livejournal.com profile] dancingninny, [livejournal.com profile] genet, [livejournal.com profile] foxish, [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus, [livejournal.com profile] lisagems, Max, [livejournal.com profile] mirkowuff, [livejournal.com profile] mistletoe, [livejournal.com profile] wooisme, [livejournal.com profile] mstegosaurus, [livejournal.com profile] neowolf2, [livejournal.com profile] posicat, [livejournal.com profile] roho, [livejournal.com profile] simbalion, [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar, [livejournal.com profile] steviemaxwell, [livejournal.com profile] stormdog, [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl, [livejournal.com profile] tincrash, [livejournal.com profile] tremaine, [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad, [livejournal.com profile] vidarwolf, and [livejournal.com profile] wyldekyttin. Many beverages were consumed, much food was eaten, and I laughed more than I have in quite a while!

Things kicked off Friday with some tasty food for dinner: beef stew, chicken white chili, and kielbasa, kraut, and potatoes. Judging from the alacrity with which the food disappeared, I gather it was of acceptable quality (or everyone was really hungry). As requested, I'll post the recipe for the white chili here in the next few days. Saturday was FRAC (Furries Race Across Chicago), followed by a pizza feast and socializing into the wee hours. Sunday was a late start for some reason (gee, where's all those empty bottles come from?) :-) We took a sizable crowd over to Emmett's Tavern, where we had a delicious lunch and enjoyed a sampling of their beers. Later, we sent out for various cuisines for dinner, which were all distinguished by being pretty much awful. And this morning, once we got everyone rousted up and checked out of their rooms, we grabbed a late brunch at Apple Villa, which turned out to be an excellent alternative to the dreadful IHOP which was next to the hotel. From there, everyone scattered to the winds, to head home and crash.

Planning this event was a world of fun, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be. I was pretty stressed on Friday hoping that everything would work out right and that [livejournal.com profile] takaza and I had budgeted properly, but I should have trusted my wonderful wolf - everything worked well, with the exception that we came up a few cans short of diet sodas on Sunday. Dan and I came up with a good approach this year: I took the early shift and he took the late shift. That meant that I was up early to make sure that everyone had their coffee, kringles, and oatmeal, and Dan stayed up late to clean up and lock up when everyone went to bed. The downside of this is that he got to bed at 5:30 AM this morning; needless to say, he's taking a nap as I write this. We hope that everyone enjoyed themselves, and we look forward to the next Wuffmeet!

And what about FRAC, you say? How did it go, and who won this time? You'll have to wait for that! I'll be putting up some lengthy posts tomorrow detailing the clues, the hints, the answers, and the winners (with pictures!). But for now...time to collapse and relax.
duncandahusky: (Inquisitive)
Good news! I have too much blood in my cholesterol system. Or rather, I don't have too much cholesterol in my blood system. Well, I do, but it's not something I need to take meds for - I'm classified as "high borderline" on most counts, but compared to last year the numbers are declining, so all my work at the gym has paid off. My weight hasn't really changed much, unfortunately; this means that in the diet-exercise balance, I need to work on improving my diet. The even better news is that everything else checked out, and I'm pretty healthy otherwise.

This week has gone by pretty quickly. Tuesday we helped [livejournal.com profile] woodychitwn pick up some shelving for his about-to-open comics store (they do mail-order, too!), and had a tasty dinner at Heartland Cafe. Last night [livejournal.com profile] siriuswolfstar and [livejournal.com profile] simbalion joined us for dinner, and tonight we're going to have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] daveqat and [livejournal.com profile] jimcyl. I reckon we'll have to have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] perro and [livejournal.com profile] prfanity at some point just to complete the apartment trifecta :-) Tonight should be fun, though - we're going to check out Tweet, which gets good reviews from The Reader.

Planning continues apace for Wuffmeet. To those of you who are attending and have not yet made your hotel reservations: DO IT NOW! We're being asked to give up some space because it appears (to them) that we don't have many people in our room block. The sooner you reserve, the more bargaining leverage we'll have. If you need the info again, just let me know.

Back to work now!

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