Forecasting the shopping on the Saturday the weekend before Christmas, it didn't look like a terribly bright idea. It ended up not being so bad.
The main goal was to get Kim what she wanted: a dishwasher. Hey, don't bitch at me. It's what she wanted.
So, the first stop was Sears, with our handy Consumer Reports buying guide in hand. As usual, the model numbers in the guide and the model numbers in the store bore no resemblance to each other. Wandering around and checking out the display was called for. The guide gave Kenmore's high marks, so we concentrated on those, and found one we liked. We then checked Maytag, Whirlpool and a couple of others. Kenmore still came out on top. We purchased. It's being installed on Wednesday, when Kim's parents will be in town if the installer comes after Kim goes to work.
Next: cell phones. We're getting T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phones this year to use in emergency situations. Kim's had one for a couple of weeks and is already expanding her use of it :).
Next task: stuff for the nieces. Most of the nieces are in Philly and we don't see them much, so gift cards are the way to go. The line was long, but move very quickly. Time to move from the mall to Barnes & Nobles across the freeway for more gift cards.
On to Petco for gifts for the animals: beds and a cat tree.
Next stop for Kim: the rehabilitation hospital to visit a neighbor. My task is to go to Half Price Books to pick up another gift card for our local niece.
I make it back to the hospital before Kim's done, so I sit out and read Spider Robinson's "Life House". Once she's done, we head off to a Christmas Tree lot. The lot only takes cash and checks: we have no checks and not enough cash. Off to the ATM. Back to the tree lot to pick out the tree.
Next stop: Rico's mexican restaurant. We'd called some friends and they met us there. We lingered over dinner for about 2 hours and caught up on current events. We hadn't seen them in a bit, so it was good to get the scoop.
Homeward bound, to set up the tree and see how the animals like their beds.
Posted by Scott Zrubek at 10:12 AM
It was time for another run at an agility competition, one year after our last one.
We got up bright and early (5:30am), after hitting the snooze bar a couple of times, and packed the last few items after breakfast. It was a chilly morning, so we packed extra towels, jackets for the dogs and jackets for the humans. We left the orbit of the house around 6:40 and got to the agility field right at 7am. Unfortunately, I'd not checked the information thoroughly enough and we were 30 minutes early. the judges wouldn't be sizing the dogs until 7:30.
The dogs needed some familiarity with the grounds, so we gave them a limited morning walk with a chance to do their business.
We brought the dogs to the stacking table and got them measured. They both were way under the height limit for the 16" class, so the judge is mailing in their height cards and they won't need to get measured at future events. We attempted to see if Tank was short enough for the 12" class, but he wasn't. He wouldn't stack well, he likes to sit in stead :).
We put the boys back in their kennels to stay warm while we checked out the schedule. Jack: Novice 1 Regular, Novice 2 Regular and then Jumpers. Tank: Nothing, Nothing, Jumpers.
Kim and I helped out setting poles on the courses while waiting for our turn to run.
I brought along a video camera to record the runs. I only managed Jack's first two runs because I had to help handle the dog that wasn't running during the Jumpers.
Jack's first run: very, very rough scorewise. I just looked at the video again and it didn't look that bad. Jack had some problems with popping out of the weaves, he went to a jump instead of the tunnel and he might have gotten points off for a contact failure on the dog walk. According to the scoring sheet, he had 60 points of faults. As the only dog running in Novice A 16", he got first place.
Jack's second run: 10 points in faults, scorewise. I think it may have been a refusal. I didn't move the camera enough to catch it. Jack got the weaves on his third try. Other than that, a nice run. As the only dog running in Novice A 16", he got first place.
Tank's Jumpers: About what we expected for his first competition. He jumped the first two jumps and then checked out the judge, the horses, the cattle and the rest of the ring. Then he came back to Kim. An elimination for Tank.
Jack's Jumpers: A clean run but for the fact he went into the tunnel in the wrong end. We think Kim may have turned right for the next obstacle a little early.
Apparently, there is no differentiation in Novice A or B for Jumpers, so we didn't even place as high as 4th place in Jumpers.
Some interesting developments with regard to future events came out of this one. The place where we train for agility (Pawsitive Impact), has decided not to run any NADAC trials in the future. They change their rules too often. Pawsitive is looking into running some trials that allow All-Americans like Jack and Tank to run, but they haven't made any decisions yet. Also, the place where we hold most of our trials (Arena without Walls) has decided that dog trials are too much trouble and will not be hosting any after September.
So, in summary, we had a good trial. We met expectations and Jack came home with two new squeaky toys and two first place ribbons will be in the mail to us shortly (they ran out at the trial).
Next up: USDAA in January, I hope.
Posted by Scott Zrubek at 9:33 AM
With the loss of Pypn and Avalon this year, we found ourselves needing to add a cat to the household. Once I started looking at petfinder.com, it didn't take long to find several that looked like they might be a good fit in the household. I was looking for a male, Russian Blue (or mix thereof) kitten.
One of the ones I found was apparently listed in error. The group that was trying to place him doesn't list kittens. You have to show up at one of their pet store adoption sessions and see if they have any you're interested. They didn't tell me where this guy would be making his next appearance.
The second one I found was at a very local pound. Unfortunately, I had to go to Portland the weekend after I saw him online and, since he was in a foster home and only at a shelter on the weekends, I didn't get to see him. When I came home from Portland, he'd been adopted.
However, the lady in charge of fostering at this shelter sent me an email about this female Russian Blue kitten that was at the shelter. She could be visited any time the shelter was open. So, last Wednesday I drove the 10 miles to the shelter to look at her. She was a darling, snuggling up to me very quickly. She also had sharp teeth that she was interested in using to chew my thumb. I was warned not to let her break the skin because if she did, they would have to quarantine her, or something similar.
I was smitten. I wnet into another room and called Kim at work to see if she minded if I brought a new resident home that evening. She didn't.
I filled out the paperwork, got the carrier from the truck (a dog-sized carrier is almost always in the truck to save time when we take the boys out geocaching or to agility) and packed Mercuri into the carrier.
The dogs, Vlad and Mercuri are getting along quite well after such a short period of time. They will all happily rest next to one another. the only problem they have is when Tank charges at Mercuri to play. Mercuri does not like that at all. In time, she'll learn that he's just playing.
The name Mercuri came from the Table of the Elements because of her color. We changed the "y" to an "i" to give it a slightly more feminine feel.
At the moment, Mercuri is at the vet recovering from her spaying. She is not happy. It nearly broke my heart to see her complaining. She comes home tomorrow.
Posted by Scott Zrubek at 6:49 PM
F.A.C.T. sent me to SMOFcon in Portland over the weekend. I was part of a number of folks from F.A.C.T. who were in attendance: Kimm, Karen, Kurt, Renee and Bill were also there. It was an educational and entertaining weekend.
I left Houston on Southwest, landing in Phoenix en route to Portland. My companion on the flight was Curt Triggs, a farmer from Mississippi of about 65 years of age. He was flying to Oregon to look at '59 Cadillac for sale by the original owner. He had once had said vehicle and was hoping to bring back some memories with the purchase. His companion on the flight was the the youngest brother of a friend of his. The friend is 30 years older than his youngest brother. Curt is also always on the lookout for cats to bring to his farm, he usually picks up one on each of his trips out of state.
Curt didn't manage to sit next to me on the second leg of the flight, I don't know who did. I was enjoying the emegency exit row and its accompanying leg room too much to care.
Arrival in Portland was quick and the ride on the light rail was easy as pie. the weather was a little chilly, however. Renee loooooooves Portland. Ask her about it. And her niece.
I didn't make in time for the first panel at 2pm, so the 3 pm panel on "Lessons learned from This Year's Worldcon" was the first of the weekend. Vince Docherty got up and let loose about problems/cool things about the Worldcon. My brain was apparently still in baggage because nothing sticks in my mind from that panel.
Next up: "Laying out space...." Based on a "hypothetical" convention in Anaheim, layout of the hotels and convention center were discussed. Ideas from the panel included eliminating the need for meeting space in one of the hotels and incorporating the pedestrian mall separating the CC and the hotels into the convention space and making use of it for outdoor events.
Next up: Dinner. At Newport Seafood Grill with Kimm, Renee and Karen. Renee flirted shamelessly with the waiter all night. Good food accentuated by a cold walk to and from.
After dinner was the Icebreaker. Patty Wells led it. She was on the committee for Orycon when their hotel was abducted by aliens. She had to find a new hotel after 17 years of working with the now-vanished one. She grouped the room into groups of 10. We were charged with taking the brochures from all of the hotels she canvassed (cleverly disguised by creative writing) and deciding on which hotel to use. A very entertaining and enlightening panel.
The next morning I walked a good distance to the Cadillac Cafe for breakfast. A great spot, and not nearly as crowded as the restaurant guide led me to believe (it would be a different story on Sunday). There was a little boy across the aisle whom I kept smiling by making silly faces at him while I was eating. His dad thanked me for that as they left the restaurant.
First Panel: "Managing in Times of Change..." dealt with personnel issues of con committees
Second panel: Keynote speaker on hotel contracts. Tyra Hilliard presented some sample contract language that she'd seen and asked for comments. The comments on most of the samples were: "Throw all of it out" A good presentation with handouts of bad and corrected contract language.
Third panel: "Promotions and PR..." dealt with how to get the word out. A bit of a difficult panel. One of the panelists was having trouble staying focused. They talked about flyers, parties, and how to generate word-of-mouth interest.
Fourth panel: "Flyers" (at the closed bar). A survey of a variety of flyers: what is wrong with them, what is right. Armadillocon 19 flyers were among those reviewed.
Fifth panel: "LACon open meeting". A presentation by the concom, who needs people (everyone), etc.
Next stop: The Portland Ale festival. Lots of beer, a little food, tons of people. Kimm, Renee and I took the light rail to this event. Too many people at this time of day to be able to sample many beers.
Last panel: Fannish Inquisition. All sorts of folks bidding on conventions got up and talked for 3 hours. At one point there were more people at the front of the room than in the audience. The audience had around 50 people in it.
Last event of the evening: No Limit Texas Hold 'em. My first, in-person, contact with this game. I did ok, finishing 6th out of 18. Out of the money.
Sunday morning was breakfast at the Cadillac Cafe. If I hadn't been by myself I would have had to wait a while to get a seat.
First panel: "Running multiple cons effectively". Karen was on this panel, so you get details from her.
Next: Crafts festival in the convention center with Renee and Kimm. They wanted to do some shopping and wanted someone along to carry the bags. Renee looooooooooves Portland. Ask her about it. And her niece.
Final panel: "Wrap up".
I managed to get some input from Sharon Sbarsky about ribbons for Art Show awards. We do so few that costs can be prohibitive.
Dinner was at Olea's. Great! Thanks, Kurt!
I stuck around until the next morning and caught an early flight home. I made it to Houston around 3:30 pm
Posted by Scott Zrubek at 9:01 AM