feren: I AM THE MAN (card)
[livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I left the farm after brunch and some frenzied car-packing, getting onto the road at around 1430. We drove into town, got fuel and then I realized I hadn't helped with a chore prior to departure. Ever the dutiful son I turned the car around and drove back to the farm despite my parents' protests on the phone. I helped my dad make short order of the work (hauling old reclienr out and a new recliner in) and then got back on the road sometime around 1500. We got home around 2210 and I had the car unloaded by 2220. By 2240 I had the venison packed into freezer, the three new guns put into the safe (and while rearranging the handguns in the safe I discovered flecks of rust on the slide of my S&W SW9VE, which has me... annoyed) and all the laundry unpacked from our luggage.

I'd write up a more detailed summary of events but right now I'm unwinding with a drink and basking in the glow of a a wonderful, albeit much-too-brief weekend. Once the drink is done I'm heading to bed.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Zhivagod - Feren_happy)
So it's been decided: [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I are heading North this afternoon! But in a departure from our usual migration pattern, we aren't stopping in the Kenosha/Antioch area. No, instead we're going all the way up to Minnesota to spend the weekend on the farm with my folks. Yes, it's a very long drive for a very short weekend, but the opportunity to get away from everything is too tempting.

I'll get to pick up a few toys, see my parents and in general unwind. Well, "unwind" as much as one can when driving 800 miles over the span of 48 hours. :)
feren: I AM THE MAN (card)
Last Thursday it was off to Wheeling via ORD (playing taxi) for con. Today we are off to Minnesota by way of Antioch (lunch with out of state friends) for Thanksgiving on the farm with my family.

More later. Safe travels for those doing like us!
feren: I AM THE MAN (Technology makes me punchy)
Off with [livejournal.com profile] markvd in the rental truck (Saturn Outlook) to go set up the new datacenter for $EMPLOYER. Will be back late this Friday evening. Probably will check in with LJ land as the week progresses.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Blotch-TooCoolFeren)
... or at least I am with [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon at the World's Smallest Flat in Kenosha. I caught the 0700 EDT flight out of LGA (meaning I had to be awake at 0400 EDT, which netted me something like 3 hours of slee) and arrived on time at 0832 CDT. I picked up the Expy, paid the long-term parking bill and drove North. I estimate my time of arrival to be something like 1000. I promptly stripped myself of clothes that stank of travel funk and defeat, crawled into bed with one of the cats and slept until 1635.

I am now awake, showered, shaved and ready to get some food.
feren: I AM THE MAN (pissy)
Ultimately it wasn't just my flight that got canned! It was all flights to Chicago that got canceled, along with a number of flights to other destinations. Once I was sure that I was screwed out of my flight options with United I called my Corporate Travel Monkey's emergency line to get something rolling and see if I could get out on another airline. It wasn't long before we discovered that it didn't matter if the airline was United, American or "other," nobody was getting out of La Guardia if they were waiting for a plane to arrive. Why? Because nothing was landing! There was just no way for me to get out of LGA tonight. So, knowing that I was going to be stuck for the night and seeing the line to the ticket agent in front of me growing by the pico-second I had to make a choice. I got the travel agency moving as fast as they could to book a flight out tomorrow. I knew they had to rush because getting re-booked was what everyone in line was trying to get done. Once the flight was secured I had the travel agent race the other eleventy-humpillion displaced travelers to a hotel reservation. I was assured that I had been successfully booked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel, La Guardia. I went outside to wait for my shuttle bus and, after 35 minutes and an upset phone call from me, I was directed to where I was supposed to meet the bus. And there it was! I felt like an idiot but at least I was an idiot on his way to the hotel.

By the time I arrived the hotel was completely oversold, probably due to the same cancellation that took me out of play tonight. There were some very angry individuals in the lobby. I wasn't sure what to expect, after being burned by the seemingly opulent hotel in Manhattan that turned out to be actually quite disappointing. It seems that my worry was all for nothing: this is a much nicer hotel than what I stayed in during the week and it seems to be approximately half the cost to boot. To put things in perspective, the bathroom alone in this place is about the size of the entire room at the hotel from during the week -- and it doesn't have any sinks held up by metal rods. It has really spacious layout and an alarm clock that works! And pretty art on the walls. I also found a CD left for me on the bed. SLEEP SOUNDLY, it invited me. With the Sleep Advantage CD. Sure enough there's a CD in there with advice for good sleep and soothing sounds as well as lots of tips inside the CD jacket. There's even an included drape clip! There's also a little bag (that reminds me of the Crown Royal bags used to protect the bottles) that has complimentary ear plugs, lavender-scented linen spray and an eye mask. AN EYE MASK!! It's like something out of the movies. Either this is incredibly cool or I'm sleep deprived. Maybe it's a bit of both.

I guess it's good to have a corporate travel monkey.

I ordered a skirt steak and four beers from room service just now. I think 4 is a good number for starters, I can always order more if need be. I have about zero desire to move outside this bed right now, let alone the room so I dunno how they're going to give me my food when it arrives.

Oop, food's here. I'm going to go enjoy a well-deserved meal. And beer. Mmm, beer.

Time keeps on slippin'
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
I'm at gate C9 in La Guardia Airport and for the foreseeable future I'm not going anywhere. My flight, which was running late already, has been diverted from LGA to PIT. According to the overhead announcement the plane hasn't even touched down yet at PIT -- but once it has there will be some sort of an updated announcement. Apparently there is nothing landing at LGA right now. The official reason? The weather. Which is interesting to me because right now it's 81 degrees F with scattered clouds. A quick load of Weather Underground shows that things are just fine for miles around and the closest storm front (in Poughkeepsie) is moving North-northeast.

Hell, if I could get a photo uploaded from my Treo you'd see it's sunny everywhere you can see through the terminal windows. "The weather." That's so perfectly plausible, isn't it? Please, won't somebody save the airplanes from the sunny sky and scattered clouds?

[Edit @ 1849 EDT: My flight just cancelled.]
feren: I AM THE MAN (card)
I've driven past it perhaps dozens of times in the last five or six years, but I've never stopped there. That was taken care of last night, however, when [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I were just out for a drive in the area -- I can now officially (and with great pride) say that I have been to the Mars' Cheese Castle in Kenosha, WI.

I cite random circumstance and a deep-seated fear that I would die before I visited this local landmark as the reasons for attending.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Feren-2003)
I'm taking off for the great North to witness the marriage of [livejournal.com profile] tremaine and [livejournal.com profile] mistletoe. Despite the insane gas prices, I think the drive will do me good.
feren: I AM THE MAN (pantherhead)
I'm home.

I started to see snow flakes at the 90/94 junction in Madison. By the 12/18 exit in the same town it was snowing quite hard.

While this trip didn't qualify as The Drive From Hell, it got style points for the ridiculous number of accidents I saw (The SUV that was laying on its roof behind a length of K-rails is the clear winner of the "How In The Blazing Blue FUCK Did You Manage That?!" award... We were going five miles an hour!). For added bonus score the drive absolutely sucked from Janesville WI onwards.

And oh yeah, honking your horn when you're sliding sideways towards me is an excellent sign you're an idiot. I'm in control of my vehicle, how about you worry about getting yours out of that skid?

Shower and sleep are quite high on my priority list right now.

Momma's gonna worry

Phone Post:

Jan. 4th, 2004 12:51 pm
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
[Bad username or site: feren' phonepostid='6' / @ livejournal.com]

Phone Post:

Jan. 4th, 2004 10:18 am
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
[Bad username or site: feren' phonepostid='5' / @ livejournal.com]
feren: I AM THE MAN (card)
I dare anyone to tell me where I borrowed this subject line from. The first person to answer correctly gets a prize, although I do not yet know what that prize will be. Caveat guessor, or something.

In just about 26 hours I'll be climbing back in the Expedition and making my way home to Illinois. My dad and I did a quick bit of routine maintenance on it yesterday, namely I topped off some fluids (coolant, washer fluid, etc) and put some additive in the transmission while he did an oil-and-filter change. According to my maintenance log I was about 900 miles over the point where I usually change oil, so it's reassuring to know that I got that taken care of before I add another 400+ miles to the odometer. Sure, they're highway miles... but why tempt fate? This engine needs to last me for a long time, and the simplest way to ensure that is to regularly change the oil.

Today I'll be loading up the truck with my Christmas bounty, and then trying to work in the other boxes and bags of stuff that I bought while I was out shopping earlier this week with my folks. My truck will become something of a rolling warehouse until I get a chance to visit my storage unit, but I can't complain -- I got some really stellar deals.

Tonight, after the truck is packed and my clothes and stuff are once again folded in my duffel bag I'll be going out to dinner with my mother and my grandfather as sort of a "last hurrah" for family visitation. I'd ask Dad to come along with, but he had to go back to the stationhouse last night to work some overtime and he's scheduled for a regular shift today... so he won't actually be home until sometime in the morning tomorrow. At least I'll get to see him before I leave. I didn't get a chance to visit my cousin Pris a second time, so I should try to make sure that I give her a call tonight before bed.

On a completely unrelated note, work came barging into my personal life again yesterday when I was assigned a high-priority helpdesk ticket at around 10:37 AM. The only reason I know this occured is because a copy of the notification e-mail was forwarded to my Sidekick by one of my Outlook rules. Apparently it's a pretty urgent problem... too bad they assigned the issue to somebody who is out on vacation until the 5th! I love how amazingly inept these people are. As I am on a much-needed vacation I wasn't about to work the problem, nor was I going to call the Help Desk and tell them they'd assigned the ticket to the wrong fellow. I gave them ample notice of when I was going to be out of the office, and when I'd be coming back. Then, the day I left, I sent them a reminder "just in case" they'd forgotten the letter from the week previous. I just checked my ticket queue and the darn thing is still there, so I guess they're rather slow to pick up the hint. Oh well! As my old manager would say, "NMFP."
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
[Bad username or site: feren' phonepostid='4' / @ livejournal.com]
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
[Bad username or site: feren' phonepostid='3' / @ livejournal.com]
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
[Bad username or site: feren' phonepostid='2' / @ livejournal.com]

Mutter.

Dec. 22nd, 2003 08:19 am
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-angst)
I woke up this morning around 8:10 after Ra's dedicated efforts rousted me from my bed. I began with the daily chores of feeding Ra, feeding myself, feeding the fish and putting up the cat food. Once that was done I tossed my robe into my bedroom and prepared to take a shower. Just as I was stepping into the bathroom the doorbell rang. Typical! I had to ask through the window that the mail carrier give me "just one minute," then scrambled about as I tried to get dressed. I imagine he figured I was an absolute lunatic, but what was I going to do, greet him in the buff with a bit of wrapping paper to hide my shame?

So yes... the mailman showed up at 0815 this norming with a package, and then didn't even have the courtesy to make it the one from another country that I've been waiting impatiently for.

Ah well.

T-minues 6 hours and counting until I depart for Minnesota with boxes, bags and cats.
feren: I AM THE MAN (groat)
As of 1600 hours today I am officially On Vacation. This is my first "real" vacation in about two years -- this time it's more than just a day or two off that I cobbled together to coincide with a weekend. No, my friends, this is an honest-to-god "I'm burning 40 hours of my 126 accumulated hours of vacation" vacation. I feel weird saying it, but it's true: won't be back to work until next year. My return date for the office is Monday, January 5th 2004.

If all goes according to plan I will be driving up to Minnesota on Monday the 22nd. As [livejournal.com profile] roho and [livejournal.com profile] genet are going to be out of state for about a week I'll be taking my special-needs cat with me. That's right, I'm taking Ra with me for the 420 mile, 7 hour drive from Illinois to Minnesota. I fully expect the poor animal to torture me for most of the drive with howls and maiowls... after all, the longest he's had to be confined to a carrier in a vehicle was about an hour. Of course, that was back in 2001 when I was taking him to stay in Milwaukee. As I'm sure you've all figured out already a drive to Milwaukee is a lot different from a drive to Minnesota. I'm not sure if I'm making the right choice by doing this but it's about the best option that is available to me.

Tonight I relaxed in a mostly empty apartment (the cats, fish and snake kept me company) and watched some DVDs. I finished Catch Me If You Can, which was remarkably interesting. I also watched Suicide Kings just because it had Christopher Walken in it. To say that I was surprised by Suicide Kings is a bit of an understatement. I haven't seen a film with such excellent plot and acting since Fight Club. I wonder if this was adapted from a novel as well?

It's the season to be jolly and share, and somebody shared with me their winter cold. I wish I could say I was surprised that I contracted a cold, but I'm not. When you factor in the typically arctic condition of my bedroom (damn vaulted ceiling) it's actually surprising that I didn't get sick earlier. What really caught me off-guard is that this cold is exhibiting some extra value: as a bonus to this winter cold it would seem I have garnered an ear infection as well. If it's not an ear infection then the only other explanation that makes any sense is a midget with an icepick sitting in my right ear, occasionally stabbing my eardrum. I really hope this subsides before Monday, because driving with an earache is rather distracting.

My plan for the weekend is simple: I will do laundry and pack it for the two weeks that I'll be spending back on the farm. Presents will be wrapped and stacked neatly in the back of the Expedition. On Monday I will give the remaining two cats a batch of food to tide them over during my absence and then make tracks back to my parents. While I'm up in Minnesota I hope to achieve three things. First, I want to see my cousin Priscilla at the hospital. She was recently moved out of critical condition and just got to imbibe her first fluid this week! Her organ donor (Conway, her half brother) seems to be doing well -- he's actually eating jello. I'm looking forward to seeing them both. Second, I want to spend some time with my grandfather Schep. I don't thing he's going to be much longer for this world and I'm feeling a lot of guilt. I was his first grandchild and he's always doted on me as a result but I've been careless and never have I properly returned that affection. I can never "make up" for that lost time, but I want to ensure that he knows how much I appreciate what he's done for me. I'd hate for him to pass before I got a chance to tell him these things.

My third and final goal is to spend some quality time hanging out with my old friend from the days of Benden Weyr, [livejournal.com profile] chebutykin. I really want an official tour of the Asylum, and there's no time like the present to visit, right? If nothing else I can get in a good pub crawl around Minneapolis and pass out in her bathtub.

But that's all for the future. For now I'm feeling sleepy and reluctant to write much about what's going on in my head. I think a trip to the bathroom for a hot shower is in order, and then I'll crawl under the covers and sleep until Ra wakes me up tomorrow morning. If he follows his current schedule that should give me... four hours of sleep before he starts becoming a pest.

Sometimes it's hard to be a daddy.
feren: I AM THE MAN (groat)
These last five days have been something else, to say the least. I'm still unsure what my final impression of them is... I'm walking away from a convention with a bag of emotions that need to be sorted, organized and evaluated. This is nothing unusual for me, my (increasingly) antisocial nature generally leaves me somewhat dazed by large gatherings of people, and this trip to Memphis for Mephit Fur Meet was no exception. Added to the mix was the stress of the fact I've never been to this con (I do realize that most normal people would dub this "exciting," not "stressful" like I do) and the immense amount of travel required to get there. Thanks to my years with DeVry I have become accustomed to the airplane as my usual mode of transportation to traverse distances over 80 miles.

So where to begin? I guess I should begin with the beginning, move through the middle and stop at the end. It's logical, isn't it? Trust me, I'll deviate from the flight plan a number of times before this is over.

Thursday morning saw the arrival of Jen, sometime around 11:30ish. Roho was running late, something he had sort of expected would happen, given some situations that had come up at his place of work. His arrival at around 2:00pm made sure I had time to gather up all my travel bags and have some semblance of order for their loading into his car (No, I could not find my triple-damned Browning cap. I gave up and ordered a new one from Bass Pro Shop's online site, only to discover I could have had Jen pick one up for me on her drive down from Milwaukee) and double-check my readiness for the trip. Jen kvetched once or twice that I was being an overwhelming geek by bringing along my laptop and my Mind, but I was sort of expecting that. Yes, I am a geek, and I'm fine with that... it all worked out.

Once Roho arrived we made short work of loading up the back of his car, hopping in and heading for the road... only to decide that Jen and I needed a bite to eat before we really got rolling. This lead to a brief stop at the local KFC so that we could get a much needed meal. We made short work of our food and then hit the highway. We could tell straight away that it was definitely Labor Day Weekend. It was only 3:00pm on a Thursday and the roads were already beginning to show signs of congestion. What made things even more difficult was the immense amount of roadwork being done on some of the more traffic-prone strips of road (namely I-294). We saw copious amounts of stupidity occurring, such as people attempting to cross lanes of traffic through construction areas (I wonder how that vehicle ever made it out of there) and some wit who thought they'd beat the traffic by running down the blocked-off section of road having to back their land yacht through the orange barrels... it seems the portion of road they'd been tearing through had suddenly stopped (the barrels had slowly been merging together, presenting the driver with an obstacle they couldn't get around). Boy, did I feel vindicated by that.

Finally freed of construction, we made fairly good time. Roho and I had merged our respective travel CD collections in his six-disc changer, ensuring that we had some good, random music to listen to. This helped keep us awake, sociable and aware of our surroundings. I got to take my turn at driving the car, and was really quite impressed by it. I don't think I've been converted entirely away from my passion for American muscle but maybe, just maybe, there's a small bit of subversion going on. Very little of note happened along the trip, aside from my getting very excited about a stretch of 57 that had old glass insulators still intact next to a railroad track (Jen thinks I'm nuts). I may go down there and pilfer a few for my mother as a Christmas gift -- she collects them, and I think maybe some of the ones I grab will be new to her collection... or at least I hope they will be. Also of amusing note was the strange accosting that Roho took at a rest stop on the way down... the janitor at that rest stop was standing right behind Roho while he was attempting to relieve himself, and further unnerved the poor fennec by speaking in what can only be described as "tongues" in a low and mumbly voice. I was spared this insanity by taking a stall and hiding in there.

We pulled in to the hotel at around 10:45pm, making our trip a good 8.5 hours or so, which isn't too shabby. Registration for the con was still going and the lines were fairly short, so I felt we'd arrived at an opportune moment. I went up to the hotel desk to pick up the room keys, leaving Jen and Roho to decide what they wanted to do (get dinner, etc).

That's when the bullshit began.

After standing in line for ten or fifteen minutes (the hotel only had one clerk staffing the main desk) I had heard several gripes from the other hotel guests... and I was beginning to think this wasn't such a hot place. This suspicion was confirmed when I attempted to confirm my room and get the keys... the clerk told me that my reservation had been cancelled. "Uh, why?" I asked. I was told that since I hadn't arrived at the check-in cutoff my reservation had been scrapped. "You scrap reservations for con attendees?" was my incredulous response. Oh, no, just people who have non-guaranteed reservations. "What? You mean my reservation... isn't?" No, it was just non-guaranteed. Well, that's bull, because when I'd called three days before to inquire if they needed a credit card to hold it they'd told me no, that wasn't necessary, even if I was coming in late. Stupid me, I believed somebody who answered the phone and appeared to be in posession of a clue (Oh yes, and I should mention that by now I had noticed the hotel security staff walking around, quite visibly carring handguns -- this is far from reassuring to me). At this point I'm becoming a little frustrated. "Well, we can get you a room. Smoking or non-smoking?" I told her that either was fine. "Well, it's a handicapped room." I don't care. "You're sure?" Yes, I'm goddamn fucking sure, and I told her that I didn't care what it was so long as she just give me a room so that I had somewhere to sleep after travelling for almost 9 hours. While she was setting up the room keys I asked if the hotel did airline miles, and got a blank stare. "Airline miles. United? A company that flies silver birds into the sky with people inside them?" Vague comprehension, and a "Well, I'll find out." I never got an answer that night. In disgust I took my keys and walked back to where Jen and Roho were standing, so that we could take our place in line for registration. That was a pretty quick, painless affair. I was impressed by it, although there did seem to be some rather extraneous bantering that slowed things down... but since we were almost the only people in line and it was late on a Thursday night I don't see reason to really complain. Once our group had secured our badges we made our way to the hotel bar... which had closed.

Well, shit. So much for a relaxing, much-needed drink.

We struck out for parts unknown, searching for our room, following instructions that originally didn't make much sense. We quickly discovered that the layout of this hotel was a little odd, which shed some light on why we had been given such strange directions to our room. Once we got to the ground floor, where our room was, we were greeted by the ever-so-lovely presence of one big ass cockroach, which I quickly dispatched. This whole thing was leaving me with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

The hotel room itself was not too shabby -- two full-sized beds, an air conditioner which was enthusiastically lowering the room temperature to a chilly 62 degrees, an entertainment center of sorts, and a recliner couch that was mighty tempting. Roho and I took a quick peek at the TV and discovered that they'd made it "tamper proof" by adding a form of collar around the coax cable so that you couldn't remove it. We decided we'd deal with it in the morning, since Roho's PS2 didn't have the prerequisite parts to hook into a TV with anything less than RCA cables at this point. Jen, Roho and I crashed out in short order and slept fairly well. It was the next morning that I awoke, somewhat, to the sounds of Roho getting out of bed and fumbling around by the sink and the bathroom (The door to the bathroom was warped and wouldn't close without excessive force, and the switch for the bathroom light was on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom, not inside. Oh, and I should mention that there was NO exhaust fan to speak of inside there... this will come back to haunt us later). A few moments of silence, then the sound of running water... and then a yelp of dismay that I had no idea Roho could give voice to. Water ran for another few minutes, then the shower came on and I dozed back off. I woke up again when Roho emerged from the bathroom, sputtering a little and toweling off his hair. "Guys, I don't mean to alarm you... but the water that came out of the spigot was the color of a fine merlot." Well, there's a line to wake you up. It didn't do much to make me feel better about the hotel room, knowing that our bathroom was acting out scenes from The Shining. Fortunately, Jen and I were able to take our respective showers without too much going awry. I did come to hate that lack of an exhaust fan, though -- every time I stepped out of the shower it was visibility of zero feet because of all the steam trapped in there. Not to mention the tiles were very flat and very smooth, lending themselves to a slipperiness when wet that could only have been improved by adding a few quarts of Quaker State. Hilarity ensues....

Most of Friday was spent wandering the hotel and attempting to discern the schedule and layout, or driving around the greater Memphis area. Roho, Jen and I were out searching for PS2 parts (found a Toys 'R' Us that had what we needed later in the day, thanks to a helpful lady at the hotel desk), crossing state lines to buy booze (honest, officer, it was a mistake), dining at Denny's, buying pens, buying bandages and aspiring and attempting to find shampoo bottles that don't suck (it's just better if you don't ask... or better yet, ask Roho). Friday evening found us lounging in the hotel lobby, awaiting the arrival of the illustrious Koz and Aureth. The hotel lobby was an interesting open space in the middle of the building, with some pseudo-Roman architecture in there that would have been fascinating if I hadn't been so distracted by the floor of the lobby bouncing very noticeably for no apparent reason every five minutes or so. Sometimes it could be linked to very heavy-set people moving across the lounge, but other times it just happened spontaneously. Very eerie. Any ways... Koz showed up around 8:30pm or so, and it was pretty interesting to meet him in person. He was both what I expected and not what I expected at the same time. Regardless, the man is (even when tired from long drives, it seems) quite a bundle of energy... and rather fun to talk to and be around. He snuck up on Roho and managed to give him a good shock as a way of saying "hello." After he'd settled in to a chair across from Jen and myself the four of us shot the breeze for some time. Occasionally Koz passed a sketch book around, which afforded me the opportunity to see some material (mostly sketches, but the occasional completed drawing was in there) I'd never seen before, as well as the originals to several of the classics that I've seen or been part of (Damn you again, Roho, for that assless chaps remark). After we'd talked for a while we headed down to the general lounge/gaming area outside of the Dealer's Room, where I was introduced to the game of "Acquire" by Koz. Jen, Roho and I had our heads handed to us, which was little surprise. What was amusing was that a friend of Koz and Roho by the alias of FuzzyFox had appeared, and watched us for a good portion of the game, doing the occasional sketch and inserting some witty comments throughout the game. It was when we were about 3/4 of the way through the game that Aureth arrived at the hotel. He'd procured his room key (remember this, kids, we'll come back to it later) from the front desk, dropped his stuff in the room and been able to sniff us out in relatively short time. He sat by, idly bantering with Koz while we wrapped up the game. Once that was done we all went our respective ways, with Roho, Jen and I heading back to the room to ready for bed -- only to find our keys didn't work in the door anymore! Woohooo! We end up trooping BACK to the front desk, where I toss my key on the counter. "Okay, first you munge up my room reservation, and now my key doesn't work. Can you please fix this?" "Well, sir, if you rub these cards against metal or leave them next to your credit cards they'll get erased." Oh my, yes. Credit cards always spontaneously erase one another, so they're going to erase these magnetically encoded room keys too, right? I mean, everybody knows about the erasing-effect that credit cards have. I can put my AmEx next to your TV screen and watch it pull the color guns out of alignment! Watch my Discover card blank your floppy disks! Yes! Yes! Behold the power! Give me a break, lady. You botched our cards when you encoded Aureth's. I don't expect you to be sorry, but I do expect you to fix your mistakes and not try to blame them on me, especially since I kept the damned key in my shirt's breast pocket (Oh, wait, I forgot that denim shirts erase card keys too....). Any ways, my card got reset... and Roho's too, after I had to explain to her that he was also a guest in that room. When our group got back to the room I found that while Roho's card worked, as did mine, Aureth's and Jen's did not. Yay for the limitations of hotel card key systems. But what do you want from a box that reads a fifty-cent piece of plastic? We got them fixed the next day, any ways.

We woke up Saturday to the sound of an ear-splitting buzz, that went on for five minutes or so and then turned off. Ten minutes of blessed silence followed, which was broken by a fifteen to twenty-minute repeat of the fire alarm going off for no discernable reason (I later found out thanks to Koz that the hotel had announced to the dealers that they'd be testing the fire alarm system and not to be alarmed. Nice of them to inform the rest of the staff and guests). Later that day found me milling about the dealer's room. I bought some prints and portfolios from Koz. I perused the wares of the other dealers. I was idly considering getting a badge done but nobody there really caught my fancy. Later in the day, Roho, Jen, Aureth and I attended the charity auction for Tiger Haven, a big cat rescue and rehabilitation center, something I find to be very impressive and highly worthwhile. I didn't buy anything at the auction (although I donated to Tiger Haven later on by sponsoring a black leopard named Bagheera and buying a T-shirt with a lovely picture of a puma on it), and really wasn't impressed by how it was handled. They had a lot of merchandise for auction, a limited amount of time to sell it in and went about it at a snail's pace. The auctioneers were inexperienced, which was the biggest problem. That's not something I hold against them, because it's a hard job and takes practice. What did amaze and annoy me was the material that was presented. Some of it was really cool and should have gone for high prices -- and didn't. $60 or so was about the average price. Things that I couldn't see going for a very high price went nuts in bidding -- a skunk tail (tails are very popular to wear at furry conventions) that retails for $140 went for over $500. I'm a little at a loss to explain the difference in price between a piece of woodwork done by scroll saw (must have taken hours and hours of very meticulous work to complete) going for $50 and a skunk tail selling for ten times that. I dunno, and I don't think anybody can explain it to me. This difference in value just goes to further my very skewed opinion of Furry, with the saving grace being that all the proceeds of the auction went to help a worthy cause, so I won't complain too bitterly ($500 was about 1/6 of what the auction brought in at closing, so it helped a lot). Ah yes, getting back on topic... the other thing, beside the glacial pace set by the auctioneers (and how payment was immediate, often slowing the auction further) was the stuff that was for donated... half of it was stuff that had obvious retail value or sentimental value, and was cool with me. The other half, well, it was like the people who donated it thought it was more of a rummage sale. Occasionally an item that was donated by the auctioneers was brought up with a lead in like "Boy, am I glad to get rid of this..." I think they were searching for laughs, but it just made me think of "wow, a chance to unload something I don't want anymore! Here, buy it!" Again, I shouldn't bitch too heartily, as all the proceeds went to a worthy charity... but who in their right minds wants somebody's scraps? Ah well....

Jen and I left the auction after a span of time so long I can't bring myself to bear thinking about it. I was, at that point, feeling rather frustrated, anti-social and ill. We retired to the hotel room, where I napped on and off for a few hours. Jen slipped out to go socialize with the boys (Koz/Aureth/Roho/et all) and see the masquerade. I settled in to watch a movie and try to improve my mood, something that met with little to no success. She came back a while later, letting me know that Koz and Roho had gone off to get chow at the popular BBQ joint, and that Aureth was off doing... something. I don't recall exactly what. Once Jen had picked up the bottle of Skyy vodka I'd procured across the state line and slipped out again I tried to nap more and found I couldn't; instead I was just sitting in bed, fuming at the con, at the hotel, and at myself. As time ground on I ended up just getting more and more frustrated, so I slipped out of bed, tossed on a quick change of clothes, and stepped out for a breath of fresh air. That was around 10:00pm or so Saturday night... I didn't come back to the hotel room until 4:30 Sunday morning. Evidentially my absence was noted, because Jen had Koz and other folks combing the con for me, and she was quite upset I was absent without warning or note. I feel bad for upsetting her, as well as for making people who had better things that they wanted to do go looking for me, but at the same time I'm damned glad I snuck out of there. It was a much-needed breather and provided me distance from people who are generally annoying to me. This little jaunt gave me time to reset and get back to being somewhat normal in temperment, rather than the super-grumbly state I was in earlier that day.

Sunday passed without much event, aside from the fire alarm going off three more times (twice in the early morning, once in the afternoon -- at this point it had gone from mildly annoying to patently fucking ridiculous). I ran into Eli and his GF while wandering the halls with Jen, and spent some time talking with them. I later stopped by the dealer's room, bought my shirt from Tiger Haven and put in my sponsorship payment and paperwork. I got to see that Koz had taken a moment to celebrate my crabbiness on Saturday by drawing me as a crustacean in his sketchbook, which gave me a small chuckle. In the afternoon Eli and Kaylo joined Roho, Jen and myself in our hotel room, engaging in a "Fluff Match" on the PS2, a sort of free-for-all deathmatch battle that Roho's new game, dubbed "Fur Fighters," supported. It was rather amusing, especially since Eli picked up rather quickly on the controls and nuances of the game and became a formidable opponent. At 3pm Sunday afternoon, Eli and Kaylo called it quits and went back to the Dealer's Room to collect Koz for the drive home. Aureth, Roho, Jen and I retired back to the hotel room, where we played some Gran Turismo 3, which I had picked up in a fit of "Wow, a racing game that looks cool!" while we were at Toys 'R' Us. I'm very impressed with that game. The handling is excellent, the cars are most lovingly rendered, and it's just a lot of fun to play. I'm sure I'll be chewing up plenty of time on my PS2 here in the apartment playing that.

Oh yeah, did I mention that on Saturday morning Roho was the first person in the shower again, and that he once again was treated to a scary color of water coming from the pipes? He described it, I believe, as something like a "mellow iced tea." Bleah.

Sunday night we hauled over to Corky's, since the "Closing Ceremonies" of the con were crowded, slow to get anywhere near ready to start, and I was ready to tear the throat out of the next person who made a high-pitched "whee!" in the room. Yes, it's good to see that most Furries are about as socially inept in terms of tact and good sense as Trekkies and other Fandom-geeks are known to be. I'm told there was some sort of inside Furry joke behind that obnoxious noise, a joke which quickly lost its charm with me the first two thousand times I heard it Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, after the sixteen-thousandth time I heard that sound in that room alone it was just plain fucking annoying. Think Chinese Water Torture if you want to know how I felt right around that point. Here's a hint to the clueless: a joke is only funny until you pile-drive that motherfucker into the ground. Did you find "All Your Base" annoying after the millionth time you heard it? Well, this is the same thing, people. Any ways... after bailing from the closing ceremonies room we went over to Corky's Barbe-Q, which was a neat place to go. It was terribly crowded and we had to walk a block or so from where we parked to get there. The wait was something like 45 minutes or more, which was punctuated by watching people driving like idiots in/around the Corky's parking lot and lots of loud, annoying "classic oldies" in the speaker. I quite honestly would have cut the wires to that speaker with Roho's Leatherman tool if Jen hadn't made it abundantly clear she'd kick my ass for doing so. It turned out just as well that I didn't cut the wires, as that was also the speaker that the seating announcements were made from. The atmosphere inside the restaurant was a lot nicer, I must say. The music was nowhere near as loud, the food was good, the waiter very pleasant and outgoing. The BBQ ribs were great and the beer I had was a perfect compliment to the BBQ sauce. Their biscuits were a little off-tasting to me, but overall the meal was very enjoyable. We all consumed far too much food (Jen ended up paying for hers with lots of unpleasantness on Monday) and eventually waddled back to the car. Once at the hotel room, Roho and Aureth went off to some drinking/smoking/planning MFF meeting while Jen and I stayed in the room and watched the new "Adult Swim" show on Cartoon Network, which was a laugh riot. They had two new shows, called "Harvey Birdman" and "Sea Lab 2021," which were a hoot to watch. They also had a new "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" which was incredibly funny and also terribly strange... in other words, classic SG:C2C material. After that was over we were both pretty tired, so we hit the hay and snoozed off...

Monday morning was pretty short-lived. We packed our things, tossed our bags in the car, and checked out of the room (FINALLY.. although it was at this point I asked again if they did airline miles, and this time I got a very solid "No" as an answer. I couldn't believe it. $420 on my AmEx, and they don't do airline miles? I told them point blank that it was rather ironic that they didn't do airline miles, especially since they're a hotel located RIGHT ACROSS THE FUCKING STREET from an airport. This sealed my opinion of the place as utterly clueless). Aureth, Roho and Jen said goodbye to some of the folks that were lingering in the lobby and then we headed for the parking lot -- with Aureth in tow, since he'd decided to ride back with us (nobody was going to go out and about in Memphis during the afternoon, which is what he'd wanted to do... and he didn't want to sit around the lobby until 8:00pm, when his flight was due to leave). We got on the road at approximately 11:30am and, despite Labor Day traffic, got out of the state in short order. We made fairly decent time back, with Roho and Aureth taking turns driving. We had Sonic for lunch on our way out, which was interesting, since I've never eaten there. It's okay food, not great, not bad. Typicalish fast-food fare, I guess. I spent a vast portion of the drive either staring out the windows and nestling against Jen or sleeping, both of which made the drive quite tolerable (it's easy to get bored if you're not driving, and I can't read in a moving car without being violently ill to my stomach). We made it to the Chicago suburbs in fairly good time, around 8:30pm or so. Once we'd dropped Aureth off at O' hare so he could reclaim his car, Roho and I got turned around on the back roads and ended up getting lost for a short while. Eventually we found our way back to my apartment. I unpacked my bags, got Jen situated with her luggage, and saw Roho off. Jen and I were both starving so we took a quick drive down to Denny's and got a bite to eat. She'd decided to stay the night because of the lightning over head, which promised lots of rain, and the fact she still wasn't feeling well and it was getting late for her to drive back to Wisconsin (it was 10:30ish by the time we got done at Denny's).

So that's it, those are the moderately-detailed chronicles of the exciting five days and nights that comprised the majority of my vacation this month. To be honest I'm not sure what to think. I suspect that given my temperament and general attitude towards Furry as a whole right now that Aureth and Roho would rather I'd not gone along at all, and that's fine. All told, the con as a whole did not impress me. I felt it was badly organized (The con book had next to nothing for details on events, and it was all just horribly documented) and it just this undertone of being scattered, hurried and very "seat of the pants." The Con Suite was well-intended but spartan in terms of foodstuffs (had lots of beverages, though, from Coke and Sprite to Barqs and Hawaiian Punch)... I guess I'm spoiled by the hospitality suites that Duckon and MFF had. What panels were there were badly labeled and the schedule non-existent. I didn't know what was going on where, or when. When I did find out what was going on I wasn't interested by it in the least. The hotel was a farce -- besides all the fun I got to experience with the hotel room, I found out that half the con space had been rearranged THURSDAY MORNING because the hotel had double-booked public function space. Their excuse? Oh, a lightning strike had corrupted their reservations database, thus removing all traces of MFM reservations. Excuse me, but what fucking hotel on this planet DOESN'T do a nightly back-up of their computer systems, if only the room and function space databases? Gah, total incompetence... Amidst all this annoyance, there were some good things: It was nice to see Eli again, and to finally meet Koz in person. I also got to run into a few other people I haven't seen in some time, which provided a bright spot now and then. However, in summary, I just didn't enjoy myself. Even if I hadn't ditched the Fandom I wouldn't go back to MFM, I don't think... the fun-to-dollar ratio just wasn't there for me.

I guess we're all going to be what we're going to be

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