altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
The good news: It appears that Midwest Furfest was bigger than ever (5600+ attendees, almost 1600 fursuits in the parade, $62,000 raised for this year's charity "Save-a-Vet".)

The bad news: Though I'd agreed to do a panel with Sparf and Tempe O'Kun, and did register for the con, when push came to shove it was simply not practical for me to get there. I had originally thought I could just drive down for Saturday, but it turns out that parking is non-existent or quite expensive in the area, and dubious at night. The panel was from 8 to 9 pm on Saturday, which would have meant returning alone in the dark to a remote parking lot to drive back home.

I don't much care for driving to begin with, and in a congested unfamiliar area, in the dark, this didn't sound at all appealing. So I thought maybe public transportation would be better. Well, it's theoretically possible to get to the convention hotel from my home if I take Metra commuter rail from Woodstock to Jefferson Park in Chicago, and then transfer to the CTA Blue line to get to Rosemont. It's about a quarter mile walk from the station to the hotel. This would have been workable except that the weekend train schedules are sparse (to put it politely) and with the panel ending at 9 pm, there was only a single train to get me back to Woodstock. Miss that connection for any reason (and there are many possible reasons, from time overruns to a CTA delay which is fairly common) and I'd have been stranded. Even if it worked, I would have gotten back to Woodstock after midnight, and likely have had to stand around in a nearly deserted station at Jefferson Park for 30-40 minutes which is never a pleasant prospect after dark. I've had unpleasant and near-disastrous experiences with that before.

So in the end, I gave up on the whole idea. I felt bad about backing out of the panel, of course, but I knew that Sparf and Tempe would manage it just fine. So I sent my apologies and missed the entire convention. The last time I actually attended MWFF was in 2008. The con has nearly quadrupled in size since then, which is good I guess, but makes it so big that I'm reluctant to go at all. This experience makes it even less likely that I'll try again. Friends who were actually there found the crowds so oppressive at times that they had to leave the hotel to find open and relatively quieter space. I'm very prone to claustrophobia, so avoiding such scenes is probably a better choice for me. I was looking forward to the art show, and a chance to hear Fox Amoore live as well as seeing some friends from out of state, but it didn't work out.

On the other hoof, I did get to attend two of my husband's three live performances that took place this weekend. I would have missed those had I gone to the convention. Saturday morning he was with the Kishwaukee Ramblers at the Woodstock Farmers' Market. That evening the Ramblers appeared again at the Boone County Conservation District's annual Christmas Walk in Belvidere. The setting for that event is a park that includes some historic cabins and a one room schoolhouse that has been reconstructed on the site. The Ramblers played in the schoolhouse by lamplight, where visitors to the park could stop for refreshments and warm drinks after touring the cabins and the blacksmith shop along trails illuminated by luminaria set along the ground. Here is a photo of the 19th century schoolhouse setting, with my husband Gary on the left playing concertina and hammered dulcimer.

Kishwaukee Ramblers

I caved...

Nov. 8th, 2015 05:42 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
It was my intention to attend MWFF on just a one day admission for Saturday. However, that requires a full registration at the door process. Looking at the schedule of panels and events, I see things I might like to do on Friday or Sunday, though I doubt I'll show up all three days. Still for the $20 extra to get a full membership, I can drop in any time during the weekend and get to go through the (somewhat) shorter registration line. So I went ahead and pre-registered today. Depending on weather and driving conditions, I'll probably make it for part of Friday at least, and much of Saturday.

It's getting so that actually staying at the hotel for these things is ridiculously difficult. You have to commit almost a year in advance because the reservation blocks fill up so quickly. As I've been saying for several years, furry conventions are getting too large to be practical. Scary events like the chlorine attack last year at MWFF don't help either. It seems like we should be able to find some other ways to promote gathering and socialization in more moderate sized groups. I know that the UK has "meets" that take place on a monthly basis in some regions, for instance.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I see that I failed to post this announcement here when I added it to my writer's guild forum.

More than a month ago, I was pleased to receive notification that my story "Harvest Home" has been accepted for publication in the anthology Fragments of Life's Heart (release anticipated early in 2016 from FurPlanet.) This story features my two favorite characters, Argos Weaver (a white wolf) and Fennec Redtail (a red fox,) about whom I have written reams but none of it has ever seen formal publication. Many excerpts appear in various spots on the web, however.

I will be sure to let everyone know when it is actually available. In the meantime, I remind you that my story "Coyote's Voice" appears in ROAR, volume 6 which was released in July of this year, also from Furplanet.

I have also been invited to appear on a panel at Midwest Fur Fest in Chicago, December 4-6. The panel is titled "Making Anthropomorphism Matter" and is set for Saturday, December 5, from 08:00 to 09:00 PM in the McCarran meeting room. Two other writers will be on the same panel: Tempe O'Kun and Sparf. I haven't attended MWFF since 2008, and look forward to the much enlarged event with a bit of trepidation.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (radio)
It may seem to most of you that cell phones and the internet have taken the appeal out of amateur radio, but I would disagree. For one thing, internet usage is controlled by the corporate world, which means everything is profit based, advertising stuffed, and overpriced. For another thing, those of us who live in rural areas continue to be severely underserved when it comes to internet bandwidth. Unlike European countries, where populations are densely packed and governments make an effort to insure equal access to all their citizens, the US has left the internet in the hands of telephone and cable companies who prefer to cherry pick service areas that promise the highest profit for the least investment in infrastructure.

Amateur radio continues to offer communication capabilities to those of us in rural areas, where cell phones are often unreliable and DSL or cable internet is simply not available.

So here's my public service announcement to my furry friends:

1) It is easier than ever to get an amateur radio license in the US. You don't have to learn morse code any more. The Technician examination requires only a brief period of preparation to pass, and covers just a few essentials of electronics and radio, along with the regulatory aspects of amateur radio itself.

2) The opportunities for a computer oriented ham to explore new ideas and technology that join the personal computer with the radio spectrum are nearly unlimited. Functionalities that you probably identify with cell phones and broadband internet are often available through amateur radio without the commercial trimming (advertising, tracking, spyware, etc.)

3) Furries have their own subset of amateur radio activities. Fox hunts have been popular at conventions. We have our own ham radio club (thanks to Yappy Fox, K9YAP,) Furryhams (www.furryhams.org) and thanks to Tycho Aussie, NE8K, our own weekly chat net on the Echolink network. (Tuesdays 9 PM EDT/Wednesdays 0100Z on the *DODROPIN* conference channel.)

Even the equipment needs are minimal. I linked to the Furry chat this week using just my cell phone and a bluetooth headset. The headset made it more convenient, but the cell phone alone was adequate. A license is required, however. The license is free, but there is usually a nominal charge for taking the exam.

For those of you who will be attending Midwest Fur Fest this year, I understand there will be a ham radio panel where you can learn more. Probably there will be demonstrations and a fox hunt, and I hear that you will even be able to take the exam if you wish.

Amateur radio is a social opportunity for the technically inclined. I think it's well suited to a lot of furs, and is worth a closer look.

73 DE ALTIVO K9NZI
("Best wishes from Altivo K9NZI")

So...

Aug. 16th, 2012 09:16 pm
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
I haven't updated for almost 2 weeks. Blame the flurry of getting ready for a con, going to the con, recovering from the con. I refer to Indy Fur Con (Indianapolis) which is smallish yet, but showing the makings of something that will endure and grow. They need a little more finesse in allowing programming to balance itself, and some fine tuning on the con suite management. The hotel was adequate, and of course a small group (less than 500) has to take what it can get in order to have space for the usual con events. In that respect they did well, with dealers, artist's alley, art show, charity auction, photographer, parade, a zoo and a game room in addition to the con suite (something FCN needs to learn, as their con suite becomes unusable when it is permanently occupied by social groups playing cards, etc.) I can't speak to the dances as I avoid them, but I imagine they went well enough. Certainly I heard no complaints.

Elevators, as always, were an issue. This was aggravated by sharing the hotel with a boisterous and very conformist college fraternity convention. The frat boys (and alumni of some years) in their blazers or preppy shirts were amused or offended in turns by the presence of the fursuiters. I did not witness direct confrontations, but apparently some did occur. Police were summoned in one instance of which I'm aware. Overall, though, I give IFC 2012 four of five possible stars. (And I'm not easy to please, as yuo can tell.)

There's something to be said for a gathering where you can actually talk to people and get to know them, or exchange pleasantries without knowing them, and everyone keeps smiling. The suiters were delightful, the non-suiters tolerant at least, and things seemed to happen pretty much on schedule. Support the regional conventions when you can. They're working hard for you.

On the home front, it finally has rained. Twice this week, a half inch each time which may not seem like much but as dry as this summer has been that's significant. The grass has greened up already. Unfortunately we're scraping the bottom of our hay supply and I don't know what we're going to do to keep the horses fed for perhaps a month or more until another cutting comes in. So far all the suppliers we've tried are coming up empty. Our regular guy promised us 500 bales earlier, and still says he can deliver but not yet. We can get through the winter on 300, or make it to the first cutting next year on 350 or so. A stockpile of 450 would be comfortable, 500 almost ideal. Right now I'm worried about getting a couple dozen bales and what I'm going to have to pay.
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
Shortly after I got to work this morning, Gary called me. He was calling to tell me we now have ten sheep. It took a moment for that to sink in. Last night we had nine. A completely unexpected lamb was born this morning, a tiny black ewe with huge ears. She seems to be doing fine, eating and exploring on shaky legs.

Anyway, we had already been talking about getting rid of the entire flock if we can find someone to take them. We'll give them for free to anyone who can pick them up here, and who wants them for wool, or to use in sheep dog training or testing. A potential 4H project perhaps? Anyway, if there are no takers then in another month or so we'll be taking them to an auction. We've gotten a lot of amusement out of the sheep, as well as considerable frustration. It has been eleven years since the first one (the only one we paid for, BTW.) That was our foundation ram, Shaun. He's been gone for a couple of years now, but his offspring live on after him. We have ten sheep ranging in age from a few hours to more than eleven years.

Since I've registered to attend Indy Fur Con in August, and their theme is "Furs in Space," I've been debating how to add that theme to Argos, my white wolf suit. Gary had the winning suggestion, I think. Dr Who, Tom Baker era. I have the scarf around here somewhere that I knitted. All I have to do is find a suitable floppy hat. And maybe a sonic screwdriver?
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Succeeded in getting two old/slow SD cards to work with the Kobo eReaders, so putting one in Gary's reader and one in mine. This makes it really easy to swap or share non-DRMed content, and easy to keep our Calibre loaded stuff out of the way of the Kobo internal SQL database.

I gather from veiled comments I've seen that it is possible to strip off the DRM on .azw and .epub files, but no one tells you how to do it in the open for fear of legal or other reprisals. Boo. Sue me for giving away illegal copies, sure. But don't sue me for wanting to remove the pointless shackles you tried to attach to something I have purchased legitimately and want to be able to backup or move from one device to another.

Got time off work for Indy Fur Con (Aug. 9-13) and registered online for the con. This year's theme is "Furs in Space." So wondering how to make Argos look "spacier" than he already is. Not so easy to do, I think.

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