The Day Before

My excitement on the eve of Rainfurrest is tempered by the fact I have to pack two fursuits and their respective accessories, enough electronics to get me placed on a watch list, normal clothing and morning survival food since the Hilton breakfasts require taking out a second mortgage.

I'm sure I'll have time for fun soon after all this. :)

Is the Holiday Spirit Coming Back?

For about the last 6 years, I really haven't been that into the Christmas season at all. Once upon a time it used to be my favorite time of the year. It probably started because my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer around the holidays so my focus just wasn't there. After she passed the interest never really returned. That and the fact that commercialism of the holiday has achieved God-level stupid status just had me wanting to stay locked away at home.

Things might be changing a bit though. Yesterday I took a trip to the bay to the Dickens Christmas Fair. I've been to it several times in the past, but this time it really was on my own volition and not as a rider with family or friends. Ostensibly, I went to try to get some Victorian attire to be in theme for the upcoming Further Confusion. Found what I liked, but wasn't able to get a fast enough turn around customizing time. That money will instead be earmarked for a future Bjorn v.2. Did get Tina a few celtic-themed hair bands that she likes and wandered a bit. As always the overwhelming holiday scents got to me after awhile so I left, mission half a success.

From there I took BART to Powell/Market. San Francisco used to be a magic cure-all to get me in the proper holiday mood and it really did it's best to help with the crowds and the store displays. Enjoyed a few hours walking around, playing my new crack-addiction Ingress and stopping in for a few beers and some sushi before packing it up and beginning the trek back home.

Home for this weekend. I'll probably plan out how I want to set up Christmas lights this year. This is another advancement - I've veered away from doing the whole front-of-house displays for the past few years. Can't really put anything up until the rain gives up though. Next week, I fly to Chicago for my first ever visit to Midwest Furfest and it's host city. I'm hoping a visit to a cold-weather city during the holiday season will further pick my holiday mood up and if it doesn't, I'll be surrounded by a ton of cool people doing fun things. Looking forward to this one.

Why is it important that I get my Christmas mojo back? This has been an especially difficult year for most of my family members with serious illnesses, job issues, and overall bad things. Strangely enough, I myself have been doing well through most of it. I'm at a good place with my job, I don't have money issues, I'm enjoying life more than I have in recent memory. I want to be able to gift some of this to those closest to me to at least give them a small break from the tough times they're going through. Not expecting the "Christmas Miracle", just something for them to smile about.

Heh! It's funny! I'm at the end of this journal, thinking of a way to close it out. Just looking at what I put down, I already feel more committed to making sure my tribe has a great holiday season. Maybe some of the magic is coming back?

Helpless Hands

While it might not be a surprise to some of you, I thought it was time to air out a true confession:

I suck at home repairs.

I have a phobia about working with home wiring. I pretty much have to analyze any problem at length before I can begin attempting to fix the problem. I find I don't often have the right tools for the job and the tools I do have I don't organize very well.

This was apparent in spades this weekend when called out a plumber to solve the problem of the water heater that wasn't heating water. I also asked him to really fix the issue with my toilet supply line that I almost literally placed a bandaid on. I guess my though process on the water heater was the problem was a dead thermostat and after reading up on the work involved to replace it, I didn't want any part of it. Turns out the problem was the reset switch needed to be re-tripped (doh!). I felt about 1 foot tall upon learning that news. I felt a little better seeing the effort he had to go through to get the stuck supply line off the toilet (hacksaw involved!). Nevertheless, shame and embarrassment was my overall feeling/mood throughout the weekend.

It's not that I don't have an interest in learning how to fix a lot of this myself. I do. The problem is I often have such a long learning curve when it comes to some of these fixes that I just don't have the luxury of time to struggle through it myself. I look at a lot of my friends who whiz though mechanical and household fixes with no issues whatsoever and I find myself jealous that I can't do the same. If I could go back in time and root though the toolbox of talent that people are blessed with, I'd love to pick this ability up. Maybe I'd feel a less out of place when I hear about how someone accomplished some major feat of home improvement themselves.

"Where have you been young man?"

FA and LJ have been badly neglected by me for awhile now. Sorry.

Here's some quick hits about what's up:

1) Riley (my remaining Australian Cattle Dog) died early last month. It was sort of a slow, gradual descent of his health. I do know we picked the right time to help him pass on, but I'm still haunted by the stress he went through on his final day. Still miss him very much.

2) Attended Califur - rented a car and drove this time. Fun weekend getaway and a chance to catch up with good friends, although I didn't actually do much in the way of con participation. Let's just call it "PoolCon". :)

3) Will be attending Anthrocon in...Holy Shit! IT'S IN A FEW WEEKS!! AAAAHHH!!! Quick hit trip Friday through Sunday of the holiday weekend, but no need to use any vacation!

4) Major vacation has been finalized. In August, Tina and I will be going to Germany. Although the trip will coincide with Eurofurence I'm thinking I'll probably only be around and about the con mainly in the evenings. I'm really focusing on other things this time and I don't want to be bogged down to a con schedule. Plus, it'll be my first visit to Germany, so I'll be itching to see plenty of sights. I do intend to see some good friends while at the con, many for the first time in person -- I'll make the time for that! The trip will also lead us to Denmark for the last 2-3 days before we return home.

That's it for now. I'll try to get back soon. :)

Crocodile Rock

So this happened at the right outside my office yesterday:

Since this occurred about an hour before I or anyone else arrived to work, I had zero clue that this occurred literally across the parking lot from my office and in the same building I grab my morning coffee at. The only thing I noticed when I came to work was an animal control van parked in our parking lot, which was not unusual. What was a bit different was the presence of a local tv news crew later in the afternoon. Still, I just figured they were doing a soft news story on the reptile shop located across the parking lot. Had zero clue a 4 foot nile croc had on the loose and looking for a Mongolian BBQ meal.

Theories? Mine was that skawinski's flight to Poland was radically diverted, but I see that he just posted a moment ago, so I'm going to strike that one. Guess it's origins will remain a mystery.

Old Haunts

Boring day at work means I begin reading my Twitter timeline

When I begin reading my Twitter timeline, someone tweets something that brings up an ancient race memory.

When someone tweets something that brings up an ancient race memory, I begin to surf the web to research the facts on that ancient race memory.

When I surf the web to research facts, I come across the archive site for Malls of America (not to be confused with the ginongous Mall of America near Minneapolis). Specifically, I was looking for information on two prior haunts from my sometimes shady teenage years - Mayfield Mall and Old Mill Shopping Center in Mountain View, California.

Mayfield was actually more a memory of earlier childhood. I remember my mom dragging me there because a clothing store she frequented was located there (Joseph Magnin). I have fuzzy memories of grabbing greasy mall Chinese food there and riding the escalator up to the mostly-vacant upper level of the indoor mall. Visits became more and more infrequent once the closer Eastridge Mall opened up, but we'd still pop in every once in awhile.

Old Mill is a bit more of a recent memory. Sort of a funky smallish mall with no anchor tenants, but it did have a 70's style multiplex and several restaurants and clubs that I'd hang out in towards my latter high school years. It was too far away from home to make seeing movies there a regular thing, but I distinctly remember watching one of the Witch Mountain flicks there (most likely the second one). I know there were more, but none that I can pull from the memory banks.

I'll remember Old Mill primarily as the primo stoner hangout of 80's bay area youth. On Saturday nights my friends and I would cruise up to the mall and toke up in the parking lot, drink beer (or other spirits) and hang out in Fargos - sort of an 18 & over nightclub/pizza place. Fargos used to be good for not necessarily checking IDs properly, so occasionally we'd get drinks inside the club. I do remember once getting tossed with my friends by one of the managers there who was a bit more observant of our age than his door person was.

Neither mall is around any longer. Mayfield is now a Google campus I believe. Old Mill is gone too. Not sure what's there now since I moved out of the bay long ago. Looking at the comments section on the Malls of America site though floored me a bit. Many commenters remembering the exact same thing I remember about Old Mill. I swear some of these comments were probably from some of the exact same stoner kids I used to hang with. A blast from the 80's past for sure!

I'll probably put the MoA site on my regular bored-at-work rotation. Most shopping malls from my youth are dying out or have already gone. Sort of be nice to see how my memories of those places match with others.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Loverboy said "Everybody's working for the weekend". I say "The bear works so he can takes his vacations".

Yesterday I got my crack at the vacation calendar for work. This is the latest it's ever been delivered to me, making it a challenge as to where and when I'll be going in 2014. This round I can schedule up to 3 weeks of time off, then I can schedule remaining days that I have after it circuits one more time.

The way I work scheduling time off is to coordinate as much time off that I can match with Tina as I can for our own trips. Anything that's left over goes to "me" events, like conventions. I have the whole weekend to match this time up.

Although it'll remain in flux till next Monday, right now this is how it's looking:

1/16/13 - 1/20/13 - Further Confusion (confirmed)
2/14/13 - 2/16/13 - Unknown mini-vacation with Tina as anniversary present. Probably a SoCal trip or Pismo Beach trip.
3/27/13 - 3/30/13 - Biggest Little Furcon -- I cannot schedule time during the week off for this, but I will play a sick day for 3/28. Depending on the weather, I'll arrive in Reno either Thursday night or Friday morning. I'll leave for work either Sunday evening or Monday morning.
5/30/13 - 6/1/13 - Califur (almost confirmed - easy to get to)
5/22/13 - 5/27/13 - Confuzzled -- We have to reach a decision on this. Both of us want to do another trip back to the UK and I want a redo of CFz, but we'd have to fit it in a tight vacation window to accommodate my calendar and finals schedule. We also can't afford two European vacations in the same year, so either this or EF will be the casualty. I also won't travel overseas without Tina.
7/4/13 - 7/6/13 - Anthrocon -- I don't have to take any time whatsoever for this since the holiday butts up against the weekend. I'll redeye out Thursday night and be at the con Friday morning, leaving sometime Sunday night. Short, but better than no AC at all!
8/20/13 - 8/24/13 (+beyond) - Eurofurence -- The more likely to happen European con. August is wide open on my calendar and I don't have to worry about school interference. This will likely be combo'd into a trip possibly to Poland or to Czech Republic. If I go this will be my first Eurofurence.
9/26/13 - 9/28/13 - Rainfurrest - Likely to happen. Close enough that it shouldn't be a problem.
10/11/13 - 10/26/13 - Possible major trip if the two convention plans don't pan out. We have enough points for a Hawaii trip including lodging. This could also be a different European trip that falls outside the two cons that I mentioned.

That's the tentative schedule for now. There's the potential for another con or two which could include Megaplex, RMFC or the new Furfright. This is all dependent on if these fall outside Tina's schedule or not and if I have the time available. I've sort of eaten into my stockpile of extra vacation time over the last few years, so I can't plan too much more until I accrue more.

Now let's see how much of this changes by Monday! :)

"Why the Radio Silence Bear?"

Simple answer: getting to the busy part of the year. Last two exams coming up in school over the next few weeks. We're also a short time away from the "Meet up with the families" stuff that the holidays always brings. Oh yeah, and work gets busy. Not from an increase in clients, just because everyone takes this time of the year off. This is why you never see my fuzzy ass at Midwest FurFest.

I'll just sum up a few things:

Riley, our remaining cattle dog, has reached the point of seniorhood where we pretty much have to look out for him every chance we get. He's not in pain or hurting, but he's reached sort of a senility where he gets stressed out if he can tell we're in the house but are not visible to him. He's also somewhat arthritic so he does occasionally stumble. We thought we were going to have to make "the decision" for him a week ago when he wasn't eating or drinking much. Just as we were about to make that call, he began to recover. We're still working on rigging his food up just right so it settles in him ok. In short, he's pretty high maintenance right now. Don't think we'll be going anywhere for awhile.

I set aside studying for a bit yesterday to do an all-day Doctor Who 50th anniversary geek-out session. Watched the worldwide simulcast of the latest episode and was very, very pleased! Spoilers a few lines below:

Not too late to go back!

I had a fangasm moment when Peter Capaldi appeared unexpectedly in the episode during the final battle. This is a class actor who made his mark on a successful BBC satirical series called The Thick of It. On Christmas day he is set to take over the reigns as the 12th (now 13th) Doctor. For the first time in a long time the role will be played by an older actor -- one who should bring a lot of wit and energy to it. Looking forward to his official arrival.

Everyone, myself included, almost fainted when Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, appeared and held a meaningful conversation with current Doctor Matt Smith. Was this actually a future version of the Doctor? Maybe a meta-crisis clone? Or was it just a symbolic coincidence? Don't care! It was fun!

John Hurt (now officially the 9th Doctor), was masterful in his brief appearance as the Time Lord. I almost died when he began chiding Smith and Tennant's overuse of their sonic screwdrivers -- a trope the show's producers have really let get out of hand. Hurt has said in interviews this was a hard part for him to play because of all the psudoscience and tech-speak he'd need for it, but I'm glad they managed to reel in an actual acting legend to fill such a critical role.

The beginning of the story was a bit too first episode Battlestar Galactica 2nd gen for my liking, but it paced out fairly quickly. It was a solid story about redemption and finding a way to pull though under impossible odds -- really everything DW stands for. Very, very happy with it!

End of DW raving and drooling -- the rest of you can come back now!

I'll wrap this up for now. I'll probably continue to be a bit quiet till after the semester ends, but I'll try to lurk about now and then to see what y'all are up to.

FurFright is Best Pony + Halloween Shenanigans

Bit of a late trip report on FurFright, but also haven't actually been at a computer for non-working purposes since my return.

When I first began studying this fandom, before even openly participating, I read up on most of the major convention gatherings. FurFright always stood out to me because of all the positive feedback it continued to garner in each forum I went to. I knew early on I'd want to make that a destination when the time came to get out in the open.

I had initially made plans to visit this con in 2009, but had to back off them due to my mom's health. I finally got my opening in 2010. Not only was it my first convention as a fursuiter, it was also the first time I got to actually visit a number of east-coast friends and acquaintances I had made online in the years prior. I pretty much fell in love with that con with that first visit. I realized since I'm based on the other coast that visiting it each year would be a challenge, but somehow I've found myself trekking out there three of the last four years.

Given the distance and the uncertainty of time-off availability, I can't promise a return visit next year, at least not yet. However it is now firmly burned in on my radar so I will be back for 2014 assuming the time is available. This is also a con I'd feel ok to have Tina tag along with me. It's not a non-stop fetish parade or a continual contest of who is the bestest furry of them all. It's a gathering of friends run by a core of folks who work their asses off to make sure the environment is enjoyable and positive. In my experience, only Confuzzled in the UK has come close to this type of environment.

Things I'm already missing:

1) BarWars - This goes without saying! Ever since it was founded as a forgotten round of drinks between myself, Skippy and Silvermane, this has developed a life of it's own. The small gathering has now grown to a rotating who's who of thirsty con attendees. The force of BarWars was in fact so great that it kept me out of suit on Saturday as I spent the first half of the day shaking off the aftereffects of Round One. Wouldn't change a thing though. Great time spent with great folks! Next year, swing on by the con bar. Come for the drinks and stay for the Kanic show! :)

2) Hockey - I haven't held a hockey stick in my paws for at least 10 years. This was apparent on Friday as I brought Bjorn down to the ballroom to play in Belic's Diabolical Floor Hockey Tournament of Doom!

Unsurprisingly I was held off the score sheet as I vacillated between employing a cherry-picking style of offense or using my size to lean into the other team's top players. Still, I had a not entirely pathetic shot on net in the shootout, I didn't get injured (yay!) and I had a great time. I'll be back for this, fo'sho! I had so much fun even though I was on the losing side, I won't even complain about the handicap that my team (Team Fullsuit) faced against Team Guys-With-Masks. ;)

3) Team Trivia - I knew I'd need to be at a table with smart folk for this one. Luckily I happened onto a table that had Skippy, Kittrel and Wag! at it! We did actually end up winning the thing, despite JD Puppy's table trying to confuse Belic by claiming victory! Note to myself: next year load up on more useless, non-Doctor Who trivia before playing!

4) Poker - This was a hard decision for me since I had to sacrifice the masquerade to play. Tourney was well-run and moved well for self-dealing tables. Unfortunately I played like poo-poo and ended up as the bubble boy (last out before the final table). Still, any game of cards beats even the best days of work so I had a good time overall.

5) Helping out - I'm notorious for not wanting to give up any enjoyment time to help out con operations. I blame past bad volunteering experiences and laziness for this. FurFright however is a con that I'll make an exception for. Indeed, I left the con feeling like I didn't help out enough. This just may drive me to volunteering even more next year and maybe even to seek out a staff assignment. These guys just have the ability to make me want to help. I pitched in to wrangle fuzzies out the door for the parade on Saturday, helped out in headless for a bit and carted a few things out of the ballroom after the Dead Dog on Sunday. My goal next year is to get scheduled for some work prior to the con so I know I'll be in place to pitch in when needed.

6) All those crazy furry peoples! - Reunited with some old friends, spent some time with recently acquired ones and met brand new folks! Special shout-outs go to Wag!, Skippy, Kittrel, Chen, Raz, Nemmy, WolfPaws, Border, Kar, Silvermane and all the other folks I'm forgetting. Also glad to have finally met Tibor, our awesome goalie in hockey and who was once the focus of a fursuit crush on Fur Affinity of mine. Really awesome guy I got to hang out with a bit at the con's end. Hoping we can hang out some more next year. :)

All in all, it was a great time start to finish. I noticed on social media there was a lot of hype for the upcoming Midwest FurFest, but little attention was paid to FurFright which was happening right then. Too bad. I think if a few of these folks gave this con a try they'd be as hooked as I am!


Halloween! Unless I have plans for a party or am helping out at my brother's place (he sets up an elaborate pirate theme each year), I usually am pretty "meh" about it. Trick or Treaters at the door have always seemed more like a distraction than entertaining or fun. This year I tried a different tactic.

I went out to get dinner for us at a local taqueria. When I returned home, Tina was already sitting outside, dressed in tie-dyed shirt and hippy headband with bowls of candy at the ready and the first of the neighborhood kids were already out and about. In the past I've been ambivalent about handing out candy in fursuit. One reason being the potential pedobear knee-jerk reactions by over-protective parents, the other being I never really saw any potential gratification to just doling out candy in suit. Since our house is set back a ways from the street and we had a metric shit ton of candy to give out, I decided to get down to the end of our walkway in high-visibility Hunt to direct traffic to the candy. Surprisingly kind of fun! A few kids really liked being greeted by the big polar bear. Some of the older kids (who I think are hip to the furry scene) were a bit "meh" but did remark they liked my costume. Stayed out for a few hours in him, then de-suited and sat with Tina for the last hour handing out candy to the last of the kids. Still a ton of not good for us treats left so these are going to be shunted off at work, probably all the way till Thansgiving!

Don't know what our trick-or-treat plans are. Hopefully there'll be none as we'll both be at Furfright. Time will tell though!