Sep. 17th, 2013 04:37 pm
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
A bit of a break from my onslaught of vacation pictures...

While we're on the subject of great ads, I would also like to post on my current favorite ad-series: Allstate's "Mayhem". Portrayed by actor Dean Winters, these are some of the funniest bits of Schadenfreude on television. I was looking this up for a non-US friend and found this montage of some of the best ads:

There may be a few you haven't seen yet...and they're almost guaranteed to give you a laugh if only from Winters' dead-pan, Stathem-like portrayal of Mayhem.
furtech: (Eurofurence)
This was my second year of the EF Snack Exchange. Outside of the Pawpet Show, this is easily my favorite event. People are encouraged to bring their favorite snacks (or even just weird food) from their country. There is an amazing amount of variety: you get a good idea about how many different countries are represented at the convention!

Fully Annotated Flickr Set Here

This year I brought Skittles, XXX-hot Cheetos, Pop-rocks and Butterfingers. Next year I will be earlier and more organized (instead of just throwing the food out in any available space! Embarrassingly sloppy!).

The Finns win again for having the least-palatable snacks: Pantteri and its nastier brother, Leijona. These are bitter-licorice "treats". When I asked what flavor it was, he simply replied, "Road". And yes- it tasted like what I imagine licking a freshly tarred street would be like. He was kind enough to give me the leftovers so I could show my friends back in the states. He also brought a bottle of the pure element that is one of the main ingredients of these candies: Ammonium Chloride. I dipped a finger and tried it this year (wasn't brave enough last year): it tastes like what I imagine licking a dirty cat box would taste like. The Finns have a good sense of humor about all this and I love them for that.

It was interesting to compare snacks made in different countries. For instance, American Skittles are distinctly different from British Skittles (American skittles are intensely sweet, while the British version is more pleasantly sweet).

There were cookies galore (mostly wonderful) and some new-comers: dates and treats from Saudi Arabia (omg dates) and canned Dolma.

The Italians (or were they Hungarians? I need to take better notes) were my favorite: rich, sharp cheeses and salamis. He served the cheese (kind of like an aged Parmesan) with a dollop of honey. Incredible. He also brought a jar of a home-made cabbage-ish-something. Despite it's Kim-chee appearance, it was mild and almost (but not really) sweet. I really liked this. I think his mother made it...

The photos in the set are annotated or have cards identifying them, so take a closer look!

The Austrians brought a bottle of a beerenauslese wine that was -very- nice. They also pointed me to the grocery store across the street where they bought it. I went over and found the same winery also makes a trockenbeerenauslese that I bought and brought home (can't wait to try it!).
furtech: (Eurofurence)
On Friday the convention was in full-cry: people and costumes everywhere. Friday was the day of the International Snack Exchange: one of my favorite events of the con (and one that merits its own post).

Full Flickr Set Here

We had dinner at a nearby Hungarian restaurant. I've noticed that ethnic restaurants evolve to fit their host countries. This Hungarian restaurant (which got good reviews) had a decidly Tuetonic styling to it. And the food was as good as the reviews (very).

Today was also the day of the fursuit parade. This year was less-organized than in past years where there was a distinct path, line of costumers and beginning/end. This route was longer and had cut-offs, so costumers were all over the place (and security scrambled admirably to do their work). Apparently the Mayor came out to meet the 'suiters and extol the city's love for the convention and the furries. The police even called out extra protect the costumers! So many citizens had turned out to see the spectacle that the police had to use crowd control to direct traffic and keep the parade on-track. As I said-- I'll miss Magdeburg!
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Wednesday was opening ceremonies: the con is official! Before that happened, though, I took a walk to the mall across the street and bought more stuff. Saw a beautiful English (Rough) Collie- her owner was quick to point out that English collies are smaller than their American counterparts. Very cute: almost mid-way between a Shetland Sheepdog and a (American) Rough Collie.

Full Flickr Set Here

Back at the hotel, things were gearing up and more people arrived. I hung out in the Pawpet Show backstage area and generally tried to stay out of the way as I watched the crew made silk out of sow's ears.

Opening Ceremony was fun: leis were generously handed out to all-comers. Some found creative ways to make use of the extras...

That night I watched an amazing spectacle: the last rehearsal for the Pawpet Show, "End Tide". As I've come to enjoy: I love watching things I've made be brought to life on-stage. Definitely a highlight of the convention for me.

I am in awe of this crew: on top of big convention duties (virtually all of them had committee-level positions), they do a last rehearsal on Wednesday night. This set a new record-- ending after 8am Thursday. Yes-- they rehearse all night, catch a quick nap and then they resume doing their convention duties. Such a Herculean effort!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Amazing *story* and animation:

Obliquely, yes-- it's an ad...but Chipotle dares to let the public/internet note their involvement: they have the class to leave their sponsership off this beautiful piece of animation.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
My flight from SFO to LHJ was blissfully uneventful. I had the Wool Omnibus on my kindle (along with other great books), an iPod filled with songs and audio books and a seat near the restrooms. I read two chapters of the Wool Omnibus, then promptly fell asleep for five hours.

Arriving in Frankfurt Airport was like a homecoming. Have I mentioned I love Germany? I'm still puzzled as to why so many people assume one only visits Germany for business...they were genuinely surprised to hear it was for a vacation...Fresh baked breads, pretzels, and so much efficiency.

EF 2013 SFO to LHJ collage

Full Flickr Set Here

I got to Magdeburg proper in no time at all and checked into the hotel. I got lucky again: a handicap room. Lucky because just before the trip I'd wrecked my leg, so these facilities were actually a boon for me.

It's a shame the convention is moving to Berlin. I have grown to like Magdeburg quite a lot: it's a beautiful city, on a river, with a decent zoo. The Ottokaiserfest is the best RenFaire I've ever gone to (open at night!) when it over-laps with the convention. Also, I know how to get there by rote. I will certainly miss the shopping mall and market that is right across the street: there is a giant toy store, electronics/dvd store, drug stores, travel stores and a very large market.
Having settled into the hotel, I marched across the street to get my supplies: German Meusili; Coke Lite; apples; Nic-Nacs and a few other things. Foreign countries are the few places I actually -enjoy- shopping: I like to see the different products, American foods (usually different in some way), foreign gadgets. Of the latter, the winner this year was the banana slicer: so precise-- very Deutsch.

Interesting finds: Sauerkraut juice (did not try).

Also, R0ndo brand coffee! (Bought a slab for the label. Very amused.)

Stopping in at the Pawpet room, I saw new and old friends in various states of disarray. Plus, all the hard-working team behind the show. Great to see everyone again!

PS: Yes, I know this picture (from an ad at the Frankfurt airport) has nothing to do with the convention-- but visually it's probably what most people think the airport looks like when a furry convention comes to town:
furry carousel
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I managed to scrape together the money for Eurofurence again. Love Germany, love this con. This time I tried something different: flying out of SFO and staying at my sister and BiL's place for a few days before and after. Big difference: much less stress because anything I forgot I could still get in SJ. Also, dogs stayed at dog-sister's place, so were less stressed than if they'd just been boarded (their regular boarding place is great, but still a boarding place).


Full Flickr Set Here

The trip started well: food and more food. A friend highly recommended a place in Buttonwillow, CA to stop and eat at. A bit early in the trip, but he raved about this place. He was right. The pulled pork was delicious on its own...and the salsa that came with it (served on the side!) was also perfect-- a pleasant burn, deep flavor. But the PIE! Oh, the peach pie was the best I've had in decades. Crisp texture, deep flavor and a perfect crust. So good we're making a roadtrip -just- for this pie. 100 miles and worth it!

Same friend also got tickets to the Ikea Crayfish Party . I'd never heard of it, but they sell out fast. Thank goodness there was more than just crayfish- which has too low a ratio of reward-to-effort. Eat, eat, eat.

A big bonus was getting to meet Don Knuth and his wife, Jill (who were part of the group). He wrote the seminal book, The Art of Computer Programming. Anyone who has taken a college-level computer class has seen this book; it is so far out of my ken that I have to take their words on this. Not only is he a really nice guy, but he brings a unique take on current events. I could listen all day, week, year to him. My friend was also able to get him to autograph another seminal work: an early writing sale-- to Mad Magazine. Read his Wiki: wicked sense of humor!

I also got to visit a friend who's back to working at Apple: like most large, hip tech companies, they have wonderful food-services. The seared ahi sandwich is...wonderful. It's no wonder I gained four pounds even before leaving the country. This, despite a bunch of hikes with the dogs in the hills around SJ.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Seriously-- Zucchini! I wish I had more neighbors who gardened. I've recently discovered that I love home-grown tomatoes. Never liked what can be had in a store (even "heirloom" tomatoes at WFM!): they all taste like yuck. No flavor, wrong texture and picked too green. Then my Bro-in-law served some heirloom tomatoes from their garden and I was blown away at how wonderful they were. At first I thought it was the heirloom part...but no-- it was that these tomatoes were picked ripe from the garden just a few hours previous.

For those so interested, it turns out there is a great book about this called Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit that is both depressing and fascinating. Before fresh tomatoes I thought they were only good for ketchup and spaghetti sauce.

Wow-- veered off-topic! Happy Z-Day! (<--not zombies or Zoie, for better or worse...)

SDCC 2013

Jul. 22nd, 2013 10:23 pm
furtech: (SDCC-ComiCon International)
Another year, another Comic-Con gone by.

Complete Flickr Set

I have to say that I'm non-plussed about the convention: crowds, lines to stand in to get into another line to get a ticket to stand in yet a third line. And this was just for a SDCC exclusive-- Hall H line-waiters started camping out the previous afternoon!

On the bright side, AGSMA had a fantastic masquerade skit and took Best Presentation in a year of strong presentations. I wasn't in the skit-- I just hung out and helped out backstage. If I come back for SDCC, it would be because I love my AGSMA crew and would be masquerading.

My big problem with the con now isn't just the crowds-- it's also that the media is taking unfair advantage of the crowds and publicity and sending shows there that really don't belong (but who would pass up all the publicity?). Honestly- "How I Met Your Mother"?!? WTF.

As usual it was the panoply of great costuming and lots of stuff to buy. I settled for a couple of books from Stuart Ng books and some Stan Sakai/Usagi collections.

Zombies were big again. They had two nights of Zombie Walks. There was also a big set of displays and food trucks across the street where the con had the "Interactive" area. I like the idea of off-site events like this: spreads the crowds and lets you experience exhibits with fewer crowds. Seeing the Smurfs with a big display right next to The Walking Dead was also pretty cool.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
A very good friend needs a favor and I'd like to help him out. He has a start-up company who produced a neat weather app which is today’s Amazon FREE-APP-OF-THE-DAY for Android devices.

Weather Rabbit

Could you do me a favor and download the app and-- most importantly-- review it? (Did I mention it's free today?)

They're a great group and the app is ground-breaking (if you know programming). Plus, it's a great weather resource since it utilizes Wunderground (which is has always been a terrific site). I'd love to see their hard work rewarded. If you have kids, they'll adore it!

Also, if you could share this with anyone you know with an android phone, that would be a HUGE help.

Their team will really appreciate this!
furtech: (Thenardier)
Very happy for many of my friends with regards to the Supreme Court decisions regarding marriage. Mazel tov!

However...when I read who was on the majority of the Prop. 8 decision, my brain exploded.

Scalia and Roberts helping to strike down Prop. 8??!WTF?

Kennedy and Sotomayor dissenting??!?

If there were a betting pool, I SO would have lost money with any combination of judges I would have thought possible.

Now, the HuffPost did explain:
If March's oral arguments were any indication, the justices' unusual alliances on Wednesday -- Scalia and Roberts with three liberals in the majority and Sotomayor joining Kennedy and two conservatives in dissent -- would have realigned to their usual ideological divides had they at all even noted Proposition 8's constitutional merits in their opinions.

Still...if anyone has a *simple* explanation for this juxtaposition of judges, I'd love to hear it.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
...which are now early summer updates. I've been busy, but not that busy: just distracted. Some of these distractions I direct you to below.

Life Bullet points:
• Now I remember why I never grew many tomatoes: they are like an organic super-magnet for pests, disease, fungi. Up north it was always whiteflies: clouds of them. Down here it's spider-mites. I've tried nearly everything short of an ariel Malathion bombardment. Most of the solutions (soap spray, neet, root-absorbed pesticides) seem to make the mites more robust.

• Despite the pest-problem, I remember why ripe, fresh picked tomatoes are so wonderful...and how awful store bought and even Farmers Market tomatoes are.

• Over the hump of the worst of the foxtail problem (most have fallen off by now). Two surgeries and countless painful removals later both the dogs and I are relieved.

• Enjoying June Gloom. Daytime walks. Chilly nights.

• Added a berm to the back of the lawn so the dogs don't jump down any more (hard on their backs). Also gives the lawn more character.

• Discovered (was told) that pet-safe snail death exists! Joy!

• For artists: Check out/friend James Gurney on Facebook . He's best known for "Dinotopia", but he is an amazing teacher and source of art information. He also does tutorials and links to useful resources: you won't be sorry!

• Here's an example of something he linked to: a 17th century figure drawing manual ...that can be downloaded in ebook form for *free*!! Amazing resource!

• Since Dome is just starting on tv, here's something timely: !
Stephen King Character Flowchart Now you can see how King connects EVERYTHING!

• Clockwork toy: the most amazing wooden clockwork toy I've ever seen. Applejack's Harvest (My Little Pony)
Applejack's Harvest

• Love tidepools and sea life? Aquamarine Discovery is a great blog!
furtech: (acorn)
...well, Chatsworth and Valencia, but close enough.

On a couple of recent hikes I have seen creatures (or creature-spoor) that I had not realized lived in this area or have only seen once before.

First up: Ring-tail cat track
[ profile] martes and I were walking in one of the dry washes in Valencia when she spotted an odd track: her guess was a ring-tail cat and subsequent Googling seems to prove her right. I have never seen one of these creatures, but they are -very- elusive and nocturnal.


Next up, on the same hike: horned toad!
I have seen one of these before, but not one that was so lightly colored-- almost an ivory hue. He patiently let me take several pictures and then proceeded to burrow into the sand.


Last up: Long-tailed weasel!
I did not even consider that we had native weasels in this area. Escaped ferrets, maybe, but not a weasel! On the way to visit a friend in Chatsworth for a (hot) hike, I drove past what I initially thought was a dead ground squirrel. But something in my mind threw a flag out: the color was wrong. On an impulse I went back and checked more closely. I was glad I did: that wasn't a ground squirrel-- it was a small weasel! A bit of research tells me it was a long-tailed weasel, which apparently -can- be found in this area. I've certainly never seen them in the wild.

Not long after, on my way home, nature's garbageman was hard at work: a turkey vulture was making a meal of the unfortunate weasel.

Weasel pics under links: while the first isn't that graphic (small image), it -is- deceased.

weasel-deceased, small-image

Larger pics of weasel, somewhat more graphic

All in all an interesting week of wildlife!
furtech: (no cookie)
I went to my Flickr page and felt like I ran into a neon wall: WTF, Flickr? They have completely changed the layout from a clean, easy-to-navigate page to a psychotic collage of giant images and hard-to-find controls. Oh, and with no option to keep the original page layout.

I am now looking for a new photo archive if anyone has suggestions! I want a service that I can manage the page design (being able to pick out a style) and I don't mind paying for it.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I am so behind on posts. I can't complain, though: work has been busy, but not so much that I have to sacrifice hobbies and hiking and dog-enrichment.

Here's the fully annotated Flickr set

Dogs, foxtails, vets, Pet Expo, silken windhounds, dog-with-a-blog under cut )

For those who did the TL,DR I give you instead an adorable video of a pack of 11 border collie puppies!

furtech: (no cookie)
I tried twice to get a ticket to Blizzcon. Twice I failed-- I was in the 3-4K range when they sold out each time. And this is with constant refreshing and clicking through-- less than a second-- to get my spot in line. I think the best I ended up with was 8,400.

Blizzard is a multi-billion dollar company. One would think that a company with those resources could figure out how to sell tickets to a VERY popular event. This is the first year I know of where at least the servers didn't crash when ticket sales opened. I can understand this happening the first year (unexpected)-- but that same thing happened for several more events!

Their solution to make it "easier" is to split the ticket sales into two batches. Their brilliant thinking, I guess, is: TWO CHANCES! Woo!

All that does is give the bots and others two chances to buy tickets. If they had sold it in one batch, I would have gotten my ticket. Instead, I was in the 8k spot in line twice. Yay.

If the Nitwits-in-charge at Blizzard just limited everyone to -one- ticket at -one- sales event, most of the people who really want a ticket would get one.

furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Complete Flickr Set Here

This last weekend I was at this year's 2013 Pet Expo in Orange County. I look forward to this event every year: I love running the dogs and helping them to find forever homes. There's a lot of validation when you see a dog with issues that make them not-for-everybody be adopted by someone who is absolutely perfect for that particular dog. We had some great dogs out this year and four of them went home with neat people. Considering how few adoptions seemed to be happening this year, I was really happy.

For the most part the majority of rescues were pit-mixes and chihuahua/yap-mixes. I was surprised by both the large numbers of these dogs here and that there was such a plethora of them.

I got to see a Silken Windhound for the first time in-person. Very Saluki-like in demeanor. Also saw a Japanese Ken for the first time (I think). They are bigger than Shibas and smaller than Akitas and much more out-going than either of those sister-breeds.

By Sunday I was exhausted and Apache (who was at the breed booth) was even more done.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Pet Expo this weekend! Tons of fun-- great dogs available (where you can interact with them directly and get the skinny from the foster families)-- see cool rare breeds (Beaucerons!)-- lots of neat pet stuff.

oester demo

Check it out!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Here's an update of recent happenings...hidden under a cut to spare the uninterested...

March 2013 Happenings )
furtech: (Puget Dash Point)
I had given thought to hitting Norwescon this year, but it looks unlikely: just too busy.

However, Norwescon usually has -great- programming and I always find one or two panels to attend that are memorable. I perused the programming grid: this year I didn't see anything that piqued my interest...until this:

A Boy, His Dog, and Their Sheep
Sunday 12:00 PM Cascade 12
This presentation will include the past, present, and future of sheepherding with border collies, including a discussion of the personality, instinct, and training of the dogs. Featured panelist will be a border collie named Rodeo.
Jim Kling (M)

Um. Are they -trying- to entice me-- specifically?? Of all the program items I expected to see, this wasn't on any list. A panel with a live border collie? Sheepherding? Definitely a first for me to see at an sf con. -Almost- tempting!


furtech: (Default)

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