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: (rocking horse)
Three years ago we presented Marni McGee's book Winston the Book Wolf with a fursuit appearance by Argos in the role of Winston. This evening we repeated that event, with a few enhancements.

Book Wolf 7
Here Argos greets a young fan after the story presentation.


Book Wolf 8
And he expresses dismay at the smaller children who were apparently afraid of him as he waits for them to make paper wolf puppets in the next room.


For a full sequence of 10 photos of the event, start here and proceed by using the "next" button at the top right corner of each photo.

Of course the weather has been pleasantly moderate all week until today, when the temperatures again climbed into the 90°F range. My fault I'm sure, for scheduling a fursuiting event.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Let's see. Our dog Red may have eaten a pair of socks again. He did this once before and eventually barfed them back up. I'm not sure whether he ate the socks or not, but Gary's convinced. What I do know is that I walked into the bedroom and caught the dog trying to eat Gary's underwear next (or first) which was in fact prevented. It's weird. He hasn't done anything like this in more than a year, and we have no idea what set it off today.

On the way to work I was delayed a few minutes by an eviction taking place on the street west of the library. Several cop cars, a lot of people standing around staring, and more furniture and clothing piled on the lawn than I would have thought could be fit into the house. Street was blocked for a while.

Then the blood drive. They use the library for their summer vampirism because the church buildings they use for the rest of the year are not air conditioned. That would be all right, except they take over the entire building, and are very noisy and obnoxious. They also make demands of us, rather imperiously. In particular, they are never happy with the temperature in the meeting room they use for drawing the blood. It's always too cold or too warm, and they will demand to have it changed four or five times in the six hours they are there. They were late clearing out, which displaced a board meeting and a book club meeting for which we had to find space.

Tomorrow I'll go in to work late at 4 pm because I've agreed to play Winston the Book Wolf again for a story hour presentation. As long as the weather doesn't get horribly hot, that should be easy fun. Pretend to eat a book, get chased by "mean" librarian (my boss gets to chase me with a broom.) Sneak back in and sit with the kids until the end of the story, when they get to have pictures taken with me if they like, and make a paper sack hand puppet of a wolf.
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: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Proof that Steed must like Argos, or at least that he tolerates the wolf pretty well:

Argos and Steed


For photos from the fursuit parade at FCN, just follow this link.

All unpacked, incredibly enough. Now to do something(s) useful tomorrow, I hope. Rain finally stopped, replaced by a day of roaring gale force winds as the sun gradually returned.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Nothing routine about this Saturday. Well, except we still had to feed and care for animals. But the day started off with some rather freakish thunderstorms, really isolated little pockets surrounded by clear skies at least as far as the radar was concerned. There was heavy hail, though no tornado threat, and sudden intense rain. The storms moved slowly, and the rumble of thunder continued from various directions for almost two hours, sometimes continuously for several minutes.

Then we went to the Harvard Expo, where I had offered to appear for two hours as the Book Wolf at the library booth. That went well enough. Gary came along to help and did get some photos.

Argos at the Expo


Believe me, it was warm under all that fur for two hours. By Gary's count, one in five younger children was terrified of me, though the others were eager enough to come up and get a cookie at least.

Barely got the costume dried and myself showered before it was time to run off again for a St. Patrick's Day musical performance at the local banquet hall and restaurant. Gary's Wednesday session group was down one violin and they asked me to sit in on flute, as I mentioned before. It went reasonably well. The group was paid something, I'm not sure how much, but we also got dinner out of it. The corned beef was good, with red potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. And they had malt vinegar and horseradish, not just the usual ketchup and mustard for condiments. We played from 5:30 to 9:00 pm with a break for dinner. Some of the audience were quite enthusiastic about it. At least no one threw anything at us. ;p
altivo: 'Tivo in fursuit (fursuit)
I've mentioned before that I committed to appear in fursuit at the library booth, Harvard City Expo tomorrow. I agreed to a two hour stint, in the morning, which is fortunate as tomorrow is supposed to get hot and humid by afternoon I guess. Argos the white wolf will be carrying a basket full of library fortune cookies (yes, really) because our summer reading theme this year is food based. The booth is the "Diggins Diner" because our library was founded by Delos F. Diggins in 1909. I thought the book wolf should have a staff ID, so I cooked this one up for him to wear on a badge lanyard tomorrow.

Library ID badge - Argos

Then in the evening I'll be playing Irish flute with one of Gary's groups as they perform for St. Paddie's at a local bar and eatery. The restaurant is actually Italian, but I guess drinking and eating works in any language. Ran through the music with Gary last night and I don't expect to cause any disasters. Their lead fiddler couldn't make it that night due to an orchestra performance I think, so they asked me to sit in.

So off to bed early and hope I can sleep. I know I'll sleep well once this is over.
altivo: Gingerbread horse cookie (gingerhorse)
It was hot today. This is the Ides of March, not traditionally a sweltering day in the sun in this part of the world. We got to 77F here with some significant humidity. It's cooling off now, and supposedly we are in for dense fog and possible thunderstorms.

First barbecue of the year, after we went out at lunch time and voted in the nearly pointless Illinois primary. I do usually vote for a handful of Republicans, but they are in local offices in this totally GOP county were there are often no Democratic candidates at all. Fortunately, some of them do a good job at what they are doing (not the sheriff, alas, but the county clerk and the state senator are at least OK and the county board members from our district are in favor of conservation, preserving farmland, controlling development, and keeping property taxes down.) I might not want some of these same people to be in Congress, but locally they are good. Anyway, take a Republican ballot? No, not interested. On the Democratic ballot, there were really no significant choices. One candidate (or none) for each slot. Except for a choice between two for US congresscritter. The incumbent is a Republican and the usual sort of anti-everything jerk who hates women, gays, unions, and the environment but loves big corporations. Alas, he will undoubtedly win. But I want a real candidate to run against him. We actually had a choice between a gray-haired businessman who takes few positions in public but makes a big deal of the fact that he's a Catholic, married, with kids. Sorry, but I can just guess how he would vote on gay marriage, women's rights, or other issues near and dear to me. Fortunately, the other candidate is in his 20s, a geeky information technology type with longish hair and a beard, and has taken public positions in favor of gay marriage, pro-choice, public health insurance, and other issues I support. He gets my vote and I took the Dem ballot specifically to vote for him. Of course he won't get the nomination, but I tried.

Gas prices are going through the roof. In Harvard they went up by 24 cents just today. Oddly enough, one station in Marengo was bucking the trend and went down by five cents. This made for a 41 cent difference in the price of unleaded regular between Marengo and Harvard. The distance between the two towns is only about 12 miles.

Went over my Argos fursuit and conclude that it's as ready as it will be for an appearance Saturday as the library book wolf. Then that evening I have been arm-twisted to sit in with one of Gary's groups for a St. Patrick's Day session at a local restaurant. Their lead violinist is unavailable that evening and they asked for me to play flute (not violin, not up to that) with them. I agreed, but reluctantly. I understand we get dinner for free and the crowd was reasonably polite last year, so I'll survive it.
altivo: 'Tivo in fursuit (fursuit)
Started work on the Argos rehab. High priority was relaxing the fur under his chin, which has always been excessively tight. I inserted a diamond shaped gusset that is a considerable improvement. To be done: tail adjustment, pawboot repairs (I suspect), and possibly some leg padding.

After yesterday's rain, we still have puddles, even though it was sunny today with a high around 65F. Tonight we heard frogs. I'm sure this is really early in the year for that. Gary also saw the first bluebirds of the season, inspecting our two houses. Unfortunately the houses are in the middle of a small lake at the moment and probably haven't been cleaned out since last year. The wrens fill them up with sticks, which bluebirds apparently don't much care for.

For anyone in the McHenry-Boone County area of Illinois who might be interested, Argos will appear at the Harvard Expo (Crosby School, Marengo Rd. and Herely Rd., Harvard) from 10:30 to 12:30 or so on Saturday morning, in the guise of the library "Book Wolf." Free bookmarks and fortune cookies for all comers while supplies last. ;p
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Probably tomorrow or Sunday evening they say now. Another outburst from the same sunspot group took place today. Venus, Jupiter and the slightly past full moon are well worth seeing anyway.

Interlibrary Loan person out sick this week, last in on Monday. Today the pile of waiting stuff got large enough that I thought I'd better process it. Took three hours. Each item is different, it's all process intensive.

On St Patrick's Day I agreed to do a couple of hours of fursuit (wolf costume) as part of the library's presence at a city expo. Today I learned that they want me to pass out fortune cookies. They got a special deal on 500 individually wrapped cookies with custom fortunes in them There are 17 different messages. The cookies arrived today. They look just like the ones from Chinese restaurants.

So this weekend I need to go over the suit and make any needed repairs as well as some adjustments to see if I can get the moving jaw to work the way I originally intended it.

Saw literally hundreds of geese flying in every direction over one small field on my way home today. No idea what that was about.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Snow didn't accumulate much beyond what it was last night. Flurries all day today didn't add much, but wind definitely made drifts. Now it's dropping down into the bitter cold range, as usual following a serious snow storm here. May get into single digits, so we have the woodstove going full blast.

Scheduled vacation time for FCN, and also for next Wednesday when my brother will be in town on business and we'll have a chance to see each other. He lives in MD so once or twice a year is usually all we get.

Agreed to make a fursuit appearance as "the book wolf" for the city expo in March. That will give me an extra incentive to go over Argos so he's in top shape before FCN.

And that's about it for today. Tired, sleepy, cold... Tomorrow a guild meeting and a trip to a model railroad show in Schaumburg, so must catch up on sleep tonight.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Today was the day. At least 27 kids were signed up, so I showed up ahead of the appointed time and cranked the air conditioning down in the meeting room where we were giving our story presentation: Story Hour with Winston the Book Wolf, featuring John Rocco's Wolf! Wolf!

When the thermometer got down to 62F I decided maybe it would be too cold for the kids and switched back to normal thermostat control. Too soon, I think. It seems to have warmed right back up. Anyway, I hid in a closet while Miss Janet present an introductory story about a farm that featured bored animals visiting the public library for something to do. Only the hen was able to make herself understood by proclaiming "Book! Book! Book!" at the desk, after which the librarian lent them all books to read.

Enter the old wolf The main event followed, with Rocco's marvelous Chinese style illustrations of a retelling of the Aesop story of the boy who cried wolf. In Rocco's version, the wolf is elderly and can't catch animals to eat so he decides to plant a garden. The garden is overrun with weeds though, so when he hears a boy crying "Wolf!" he goes to investigate. In the end he blackmails the shepherd boy into giving him a goat. His plans for "mu-shu goat" are ruined when he discovers that the goat will eat the weeds from his garden but she doesn't like vegetables and will leave those for him. This convinces him that the goat will make a better friend than she will a breakfast.

Click through the thumbnail for additional photos of the event. This year more of the kids were willing to come up and touch the wolf afterwards. In spite of the air conditioning, though, it was darned hot in that suit. I'm pleased with the way it looks, though, and it was fun putting it all together with Janet.

Home now with a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warnings to keep us entertained. One more major event dealt with. Now I can focus on meeting the county fair deadlines.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
"Erg..." [A dyne-centimeter, get it? You may now groan.]

That's how I feel at the moment. Door count at work was just shy of 1200 and I swear they all came in the last hour before closing. That includes a whole class of English as a second language students, with teacher, who wanted library cards and internet access. Most of them spoke no more than a few words of English and required the teacher as an interpreter.

Then of course it's the last week of summer reading so there's a frenzy of kids trying to catch up and claim all their prizes, including the much desired family pass to the swimming pool party that celebrates the end.

Worst though was the youngish and very unfocused woman (may have been drugged, legally or otherwise) who was sending a response to an unemployment denial... to an unemployment office in Michigan. She had five pages of stuff, some of it double sided which requires copying to go through the fax machine, and was still writing out her responses in longhand at the circulation counter at ten minutes before closing. She kept complaining that she couldn't see what she was doing. I think even I would have laid her off from her job.

It was nearly a quarter after before we managed to herd all these cats out the doors and lock up.

Ebay is a dangerous place. I got a useful piece of Alpha equipment there last week (specialized video card) for a good price. When I went to leave feedback for the seller, I noticed a real DEC VT220 terminal and keyboard, well used but intact and working, for a very low price. Now I've been looking for one of those on and off for several years. It would make an ideal operator's console for an Alpha and thus avoid needing a whole PC dedicated to the job. You can use a regular PC keyboard and monitor plugged into the server itself, but that's how I use the graphical user interface, and having operator messages pop onto the screen at inopportune moments is, well, a nuisance. Turning them off, while possible, risks missing something important. So I dropped a bid in. Tonight I found that I won the terminal. For the princely sum of $22.01, plus shipping. The shipping is almost as much as the purchase price, but even then it's a bargain as long as the unit is in working order as stated. These are selling for $100 and up, $300 or more if they've been "refurbished." I'd been looking hard and long for an original VT100 or VT102, but those are going for even more, despite their limited capabilities.

So I just confessed to Gary that another piece of junk is on its way to our house. Fortunately he admitted that he'd just purchased a vinyl LP for the same amount today, so we're even. Who'd pay that for an LP? Well, it's a rare and exotic one, all right, that I'll admit. I doubt I'll be listening to it, though. ;p

Sarah is doing fine, putting some weight on the foot now, and leaving the bandage alone. Weather is holding fair and not terribly hot or humid, but that is supposed to change. Or at least, they keep telling us it will change every day but it doesn't. Mosquito counts are dropping fast. Unfortunately, the flies are on the rise now.

Found my Japanese paper umbrella, cane, and shawl for Argos to wear tomorrow. He should have an ear trumpet too, but I'll settle for cupping a paw to one ear unless Janet comes up with something suitable. She thinks she has an old phonograph horn that will work...
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
She came back from the vet today with her stitches out and the splint removed. She's allowed to walk on the leg but we're supposed to inhibit jumping and running. (Good luck with that.) It's still bandaged, but much more lightly, and of course she is not supposed to chew or lick at it. The "cone of shame" may yet find its way onto her neck. ;p

Demoing done for the moment, fursuit work is on the top of the agenda until Thursday's event is over. Fortunately nothing urgent, but there are some small improvements I'd like to get done. Also still need to stuff that "flat" plush goat I got from Amazon. Working on those tonight.

Weather was pleasant yesterday, starting to heat up again today. This morning we had very heavy fog, which isn't too unusual here at any time of year but this was denser than usual.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I've spent free moments of the last 24 hours filling a friend's LJ post with personal philosophies and expressions of dismay at a changing world. If you're feeling particularly masochistic, you can look here.

Meanwhile, time marches on and the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. Forgot that the farrier is due here for the horses tomorrow (actually we had him marked on the calendar for next week, so good thing he called to confirm.) Thursday is the spinning study group and I'm still dawdling with the end of last month's project and haven't started the new one. Fortunately the new will take several months so I can still get to it.

The trilliums are still doing well. At least four of the divisions are opening blossoms in spite of having their roots horse-whalloped. None are wilting or lying down on the job yet. (hooves crossed)

New (hopefully temporary) work schedules are being completed, taking into consideration the departure of my cataloging assistant at the end of April and the present director by the end of June. It looks bleak and unpleasant, and especially so if the new director chooses to stay in her office rather than take shifts at the desk. I may well be working two evenings a week instead of one, a prospect that makes me most unhappy. Two existing part timers have agreed to increase their weekly hours by three or four apiece, but that doesn't fill all the gaps and there are not sufficient funds to allow hiring someone new unless something else is sacrificed. The new fiscal year begins May 1, and I suspect that raises (if any) will be very thin, even moreso than last year's (which failed to match inflation, let alone the increase in health insurance costs.)

Whatever happens, I must endure until my pension is vested around the end of this year.

On a more amusing note, I was asked to reprise the role of Winston, the Book Wolf again during Summer Reading this year. Now that I've at least temporarily stopped attending furry conventions, an opportunity to fursuit is not all bad. I said that this year we must do the skit in a space with working air conditioning though. I nearly sweated myself to death last July.
altivo: (rocking horse)

Draft READ Poster
Originally uploaded by Altivo
No, not vore-aciously, thank you.

This is the proposed draft for a library READ! poster featuring yours truly and Ms. Janet, who read the book for the kids. (Winston the Book Wolf by Marni McGee.) Click image for a larger view.

No, a "locovore" is not someone who eats locomotives, either.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

Draft READ Poster
Originally uploaded by Altivo
No, not vore-aciously, thank you.

This is the proposed draft for a library READ! poster featuring yours truly and Ms. Janet, who read the book for the kids. (Winston the Book Wolf by Marni McGee.) Click image for a larger view.

No, a "locovore" is not someone who eats locomotives, either.
altivo: (rocking horse)

Winston the Book Wolf 6
Originally uploaded by Altivo
Here is Argos in the role of Winston the Book Wolf, with storyteller Ms. Janet dressed as "Granny Winston" as she appears at the end of the book by Marni McGee.

For a sequence of six photos, click here.

The event was an unqualified success. Most of the children were a little bit afraid of the wolf, but after the story was finished they had a craft session in which they made wolf hand puppets from paper lunch bags, and then they were all eager to show the puppets to Winston.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

Winston the Book Wolf 6
Originally uploaded by Altivo
Here is Argos in the role of Winston the Book Wolf, with storyteller Ms. Janet dressed as "Granny Winston" as she appears at the end of the book by Marni McGee.

For a sequence of six photos, click here.

The event was an unqualified success. Most of the children were a little bit afraid of the wolf, but after the story was finished they had a craft session in which they made wolf hand puppets from paper lunch bags, and then they were all eager to show the puppets to Winston.
altivo: (rocking horse)
The story session was a hit. Only a small number of kids, about 12 or 14 I think, but parents and grandparents were there too. The adults were very impressed with the fursuit and presentation, the kids were a bit young to appreciate it all but many did want to "pet" the wolf and some were afraid to get close.

It was hot! The space in the library that I chose was ideal for what we needed, but I forgot that late afternoon sun would be pouring in through a glass wall there. I survived, drippily but it didn't show.

Janet and I posed for photos afterward that may be made into a READ! poster (toes crossed.) I made ears for her and pinned them to her flowered hat, and she split the back of her long skirt so the tail I gave her showed nicely when she stood up at the end.

A nice change for a Wednesday, in any case. Photos by Friday, I hope.

Next project: spinning demos this weekend at McHenry County College.

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