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
altivo: (rocking horse)
Steed and Bear arrived Friday evening from MFF, and we went out for dinner and hung out. They stayed overnight and this morning we had breakfast (I made an apple-filled German pancake, with bacon and lots of coffee) and we played around with the horses and dogs and then took photos of Steed in his fursuit before they went back to the hotel to catch the parade and head home.

So I got a little bit of MFF without actually having to brave the madness.

Went grocery shopping, and observed that the price of gasoline is fluctuating wildly in town here. This week the observed prices have been:

Monday about 8 pm, $2.62
Tuesday afternoon, $2.63
Thursday about 8 pm, $2.75
Saturday 2:30 pm, $2.59
Saturday 4:00 pm, $2.57

This is all recorded at the exact same station. Meanwhile, up in Harvard, prices have been locked solid at $2.74 for a couple of weeks. Down in Dekalb on Thursday the price seemed to be $2.59 everywhere I looked, and it was similar to that in Indiana last Sunday. In Ohio I saw one station at $2.39, though, and several at $2.44.

Some NaNo progress, gaining ground but not fast enough.

Current word count: 19,878
Today's quota: 35,007

Last hay

Nov. 17th, 2009 07:42 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Finally. The last load of hay for the winter got here at 8:30 this morning, so I ended up late for work. In order for the truck and hay wagon to get into the arena, we have to fold up the portable panels that make up Tess's pen. In turn, that means she stays in her stall or goes out to the pasture until the pen can be reassembled. Since I had to go to work and we wouldn't be unloading immediately, she stayed in until the wagon was parked and then we reassembled and put her into the pen as usual. Didn't get to work until 9:45, an hour and change late, but at least the hay business is settled.

Making NaNo progress, but slowly. Keeping up with the daily quotas now but finding it hard to exceed them, which I must do in order to make up the 15K words or so that I'm lagging the pace. Still hope to succeed though. I have plenty of material, just some of it is harder to write than what I usually do. More editing is going to be needed to put all the scrambled parts (written out of order) together in the end.

My desk is back to normal, more or less. Network problems are not. It seems that sometime while I was gone, someone added enough data mass to the network file server that the overnight backup will no longer fit on one tape. Figuring out who and what on a Windows 2000 environment is not easy. Once again I'm reduced to pressuring people to get rid of old files instead of letting them sit forever.

In case anyone is still wondering, no MFF for me. Too big, much too expensive, it has outgrown my size tolerance I think, and I don't like Wheeling Illinois or the Westin at all. Snooty restaurants, inadequate parking, all contributed to my negative response last year. Not doing it again. Have fun if you're going, and be safe.

Now, back to the word processor for me.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)

Argos with Oryx
Originally uploaded by Altivo
Pictures continue to trickle in. I liked this one a lot. Here I am posing with [ profile] horny_oryx who was in a hurry to catch the elevator on Saturday afternoon but still was nice enough to let [ profile] goldenstallion snap this one. Thanks, Oryx!

P.S. He did catch the elevator. I'd be snagging those horns on everything all the time, but he's good at managing them.

Another nice snap of Argos by himself. Finally one where you can see the famous bracelet on his left wrist.


Nov. 26th, 2008 05:18 am
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Erg! Still tired, trying to pick up all the threads that were dropped for MFF...

I see with considerable astonishment that the reader count for last year's NaNo excerpt has now exceeded 10,000. This is moderately surprising, since it contains no pr0n, and is only an excerpt without the full conclusion to the story present in the online version. The limited amount of feedback I actually received on it hasn't inspired me to polish it for actual publication, and the fact that it continues to garner additional readership is, well, interesting.

I'm too busy to have PCD. I'm too busy to... Aww, I've got it. Bad. It's making me want to sit and stare into space while stroking plushies or else pound my brain into oblivion with Muppet movies or something. I'm particularly bothered that I missed so many friends who were actually present at MFF. I dunno whether it's a good thing that I only have two workdays this week, or not. The schedule is so busy anyway because of tomorrow's holiday that I don't have time for "melon collies," and I want some anyway. Heck, even a doberman would do. ;p

In a sense, this is inevitable, I guess. Furry is a youth culture, and unfortunately it came into public visibility a bit too late for me. Many elements of the milieu are alien (gaming, late nights, dance music, unabashed sexuality, for example) and yet the common shared interest, the yearning for that fantasy moment is still there and very powerful. My long term interest in theatrics and anthropomorphic characters is stronger than ever, which makes the whole thing irresistible to me even though I end up in orbit around the outside of it all, never quite an insider.

It's hard to work now rather than browsing all the convention photos as they pop up on the web, but I have to do it. Yesterday I continued to rub the wound with salt by wearing my Argos sweatshirt and "the bracelet" to work, and displaying the first available photos of myself in suit to a willing audience. That only prolongs the ache, though. I have real work to do and should get some of it done today. Thank goodness we shortened the hours for the eve of Thanksgiving, so it's not going to be the usual Wednesday horror.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

Steed and Argos at MFF
Originally uploaded by Altivo
Milling about after the parade at MFF on Saturday. This is a tiny detail snipped from one of Dexcat's shots of the post parade gathering. See for many more photos taken from above the scene. Extreme left here, from top: Argos (white wolf) and Steed ([ profile] goldenstallion with Alaska flag.)

Con was good. I hope the staff will forgive me for saying it didn't last long enough. (That's a compliment, guys and gals.) Hugs and chatter exchanged with many, some new folks met, a few who were there and I'd have enjoyed seeing were missed somehow in the fray. Well, maybe not so surprising, since the final report shows just shy of 2000 attendees, $23K in sales at the art auction, and $15K raised and donated to the charity. I suppose there must have been a few "mundanes" staying in the hotel, but they were very much in the minority as we took over the entire place. Still waiting for the official fursuit count, but it was wonderful seeing so many suiters out and about the whole time we were there.

'Tivo's official rating: 4.5 apples out 5 possible. (Slightly faulted by flaws of physical location, parking, restaurant access. Highly rated for programming, hard working staff, and general congeniality.)

P.S. Just found some photos by T'Chall, nice too:
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

Argos by Jim Groat
Originally uploaded by Altivo
Here is Jim Groat's fun caricature of Argos, at work with his weaving. Unlike my two year old 'Tivo badge, I had the privilege of watching the master develop this drawing which was fascinating in itself. Thanks, Jim.

Fursuit photo ID badges are here.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Oil down $4 to under $50? Incredible. They say demand is off so much that the price just keeps dropping. Also incredible. I just bought gas for $1.95/gal and I honestly don't remember the last time it was below $2 around here. Certainly it's been at least three years. The rate of drop is more amazing, and in my entire life I've never seen anything like it. A week ago I paid $2.19/gal. Just one week. That's a 24 cent or 11% drop in just seven days.

In spite of my food price complaints, the Consumer Product Index is shrinking. This is, or can certainly be, deflation setting in. Dropping prices sound good at first glance, but when they drop too fast, too widely, that's deflation and it's a sign of economic disaster. Serious, persistent deflation played a major role in the depression of the 1930s. Cutting interest rates or printing more money is supposed to fight this off, but it's really not that simple. Like the falling stock market, what we are seeing is everyone tightening their belt. (Well, everyone except the CEOs of failing companies, who keep holding million dollar "conferences" and flying their private jets to Washington to ask Congress for money.)

Once deflation takes off, people quit buying things except for absolute immediate needs. After all, why fill your tank today if you can count on the price being lower tomorrow? Why stock up on groceries if prices are falling so fast that you'll save money by buying only a couple of days' worth at a time? The slowing cash flow causes more places to shut down and lay off employees, which in turn tightens the crunch even more. It's a feedback loop, and a tough one to break.

We still have those space cadets wandering around, of course. I mentioned the CEOs flying expensive private jets to Washington when they could have taken seats on commercial airlines or at least all shared one jet. Even at the local level, in Harvard, here's an example. I pass four gas stations between the city limits and the library, twice a day. It's been fascinating watching them change their prices, going down a penny or two between each time I drive by. Except... the BP station has had its price stuck at $2.35 for weeks now. No changes at all. And, now, no customers either. When the station right across the road is at $2.01 and two more a mile north are at $1.99, who is going to pay $2.35? Stubbornly, they persist, refusing to lower their price. I noticed this week that they are now closed in the evening. Presumably can't pay help to keep the place open that many hours. Doomed, obviously, but they just don't seem to get it. There's only one answer: take a loss if necessary, but lower that price to match the competition. No one believes that BP gasoline is that different from Marathon or Shell or whatever that it can justify a 35 cent price premium.

Overall, I'd say things are looking really bad. I've been trying to encourage my mate to stick by his retirement investments and wait for improvements, but yesterday he talked to someone at Fidelity and backed all the way out, splitting his remaining reserves between cash and government securities. He was already in the most conservative funds they offered. They asked him to rate his willingness to take financial risk on a scale of one to six, but before he could answer, they went on to say that he was already invested "like a one" and his only option that would be less risky would be to get out of the stock market entirely. I imagine others are doing the same, which doesn't help the DOW or S&P.

Argos status: Zipper installed this morning. A few straight line seams to be sewn and he's done. Some optional details can be added if I have time yet today.

NaNo status: Still at 21,556 words, but I should be able to start rolling again by tomorrow night at the latest.

MFF status: Weather concerns. My room mate [ profile] goldenstallion has to cross Indiana tomorrow to get to the con, and currently the forecast calls for as much as sixteen inches of snow between now and tomorrow morning. Not good. No snow on the ground here, but it's darned cold and windy. Good fursuit weather, I guess, though I think in this I prefer to stay indoors even in suit.

Oh, and one other thing. Instead of an artist type character badge for Argos, Gary embroidered a black sweatshirt for me with a white wolf and the name "Argos" on it. My con badge will have "'Tivo" on it, of course.

[Edit 4:20 pm] And the Dow closed down another 444. Enough with the "pep talks" and promises, I say. Time for the supposed experts to either admit that they don't know what's going on or that this really is more than just a "two or three quarter recession." I don't see any way that even half the loss will be recovered in that time. Six years of recovery from the post 9/11 slides have all been wiped out now. I guess I'll go scoop manure and stop thinking about it...

Wolf pelt

Nov. 19th, 2008 11:04 am
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

Wolf pelt
Originally uploaded by Altivo
One more tricksy step, and that's inserting the front zipper. This is a back view, showing the "mane" patch down Argos' spine to his tail, which is laid on top for position. Cutting this lush fur makes me nervous, but so far no problems.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)

  • Yes, I'll be there. Arriving Friday AM, leaving Sunday PM.

  • Steed ([ profile] goldenstallion) and I are sharing a room in the main hotel.

  • I am bringing my Argos fursuit (see user icon.)

  • I will be attending some panels, but am not leading any.

  • Yes I am huggable, but Argos prefers not to be grabbed from behind without warning (as do I, for that matter.)

  • Anything else is subject to change without prior notice. ;p
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Still on the con high, full of hugs and murr, and thus not focusing on work very well. Fortunately it's been a slowish day.

When I listed names, I shamefully omitted [ profile] iceleopard and [ profile] aeto who organize the fursuit track and make up fursuit badges respectively. Great guys both, and they make the experience really a plush one (pun intended) for the suiters. For those who don't know, a fursuit badge is a badge with a photo ID of your fursuit on it, so that you can wear it when you are out of suit and people can match you with the suit they saw an hour or two earlier. :)

In keeping with this year's pirate/nautical theme, Aeto crated us all up as "live animal" shipments with care instructions. Though I note, he forgot to say that we should be fed and watered regularly...

Money paid for the badges ($5 each for the last several cons) goes to the charity of the year. I believe Aeto donates the materials and a fair chunk of his time. Thanks, Aeto.

Silly astrology meme, or I am NOT promiscuous but... )
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
MFF was the best yet from my point of view. I did attend a single pawful of panels, most of which were well worth the time, but I spent most of my hours socializing instead of being so busy. This was good because I returned home this afternoon chock full of hugs and murr. I suppose I might actually get PCD, which won't be so nice, but maybe I can avoid it simply by having too much other stuff to do this week to take time for it.

Shout outs go to the following in no particular order, for making my weekend extra special (If I've left you out, I apologize. Nudge me and I'll fix it.):

[ profile] goldenstallion [ profile] zachary_geminus [ profile] lobowolf [ profile] damnbear [ profile] loriana [ profile] aerofox [ profile] deffox [ profile] dakhun [ profile] quickcasey [ profile] tinbender [ profile] rrwolf [ profile] kaysho [ profile] tosdragon [ profile] brokkentwolf [ profile] trailhorse [ profile] innerwolf [ profile] linnaeus [ profile] hartree [ profile] takaza [ profile] duncandahusky [ profile] tango [ profile] cbrenton [ profile] vakkotaur [ profile] jmaynard [ profile] dlorn [ profile] shadowtxhorse [ profile] mistletoe and many more...

Most awesome, inspiring fursuit awards go to [ profile] loriana for her gorgeous cross-fox and her very attractive playing of the part, and to [ profile] stitchwolf for his glorious Roman soldier lion who was so attractive I had to sit on my hooves to keep from reaching under his red cloak to tweak him. :D It was also delightful to see [ profile] goldenstallion fursuiting at last as the overly awesome Steed (and really liking it, I must add) as well as to see [ profile] kaysho and [ profile] deffox in the fur, as it were. (Both are so cute I just want to cuddle them.)

Other than food, and room, I did very well financially, restraining myself to the purchase of one book (a compilation of the first four issues of the Circles comic that several of you recommended to me recently,) one print (Heather Bruton's irresistible Draped Collie,) one bear-themed t-shirt and one tiny plush sheep with butterfly wings (as gifts for Gary.) He declared the sheep's name to be, obviously, "Baaah-tah-fly."

As for the NaNo-Novel, I'm only a bit behind quota, should be just over 30,000 by midnight, but I think I did well considering all the distractions at the con. Here is your chance to find out just where Argos' bracelet came from, and why it means so very much to him (and to Fennec if he will only admit it openly.) Next segment is more than half done, but not yet complete so not posted.

New chapter is here.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29,022 / 50,000
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Survived the "early practice" session, fursuiting at the library's Family Reading Roundup night. I have to say, I didn't design my suit for dealing with little kids. Once they get in close, I can't see them any more. ;p I can sure feel them hanging onto me, though, which makes for a lot of very slooooow deliberate moves. Real horses have a lot of similar visual restrictions, of course, which makes it impressive that the big draft horses can be so patient and careful with human children.

The kids were shy at first, though when the opportunity to have their picture taken with me arose, a lot of them conquered the shyness at that point. The long black shag I have for feathers on my arms and legs is apparently quite "pettable" too. I hope it isn't all full of cookie crumbs now.

Slight changes to the suit this year: finally finished feathering. Added a rope halter and I kind of like the look though I'm still adjusting it. Note for after the con: time to make a new tail. The old one has three years of wear on it and is getting a bit too frizzy.

Sleep deprived already, I'm afraid. Heading to MFF in about 3 hours now, still gotta pack and feed all the critters here before then.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
OK, I'm not going to be giving an hour by hour report of everything I did or didn't do. That's too boring. I'll just mention a few highlights.

Con report cut to spare the uninterested )

MFF 2006 gets five out of five possible apples from me. There are always a few glitches, but none of them marred a wonderful friendly and fun experience.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Home safely. My last impressions of MFF are walking out into a chilly sunset from the panel "Hero is a Four Letter Word" (about writing) given by [ profile] genebreshears and [ profile] unclekage into a clear sunset over the parking lot (and Ikea, bleah) and being met on the steps by [ profile] lobowolf and [ profile] damnbear in their fursuits. Lovely soft furry hugs and then off into the lot where [ profile] animist presented me with a handsome book about the Chinese myths and symbols of the horse. Regretfully, I drove home because my horses needed me there to feed them (my mate had a choir engagement tonight and wasn't getting back until later than usual.)

It was all lovely, even though it didn't last long enough and there wasn't enough time to do everything or see everyone. That's all normal, I guess. More reportage tomorrow after I get some rest.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Busy! Hugs to all from MFF. Full report later tomorrow. Wish you were here to make it even better.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Got to MFF, registered, stood around chatting and trading hugs until I had sore feet. Now time to moderate a panel. Bye 4 now.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Only four months to MFF.

Stuff to do list )
Not such a terribly long list, actually. :)

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