• Category Archives Journals
  • Depression

    I’m not sure who noticed, but I haven’t really been around the last couple of weeks. Not on Twitter, nor Telegram, nor Facebook, nor anywhere else.

    Because the world and life sucks right now, and I retreated inwards and away from it and everyone.

    It’s not just all the bad political stuff that’s all over the place right now – primarily the UK and US – but that is definitely part of it.

    A good part of it is feeling increasingly trapped by situation.

    For example, as much as I adore Otter, my angry little cat as I call him, his needs from being diabetic now make it impossible for me to spontaneously do any kind of travel for a weekend. I used to be able to leave him and Cylia and drive down to Seattle for a couple of days. Can’t do that anymore, as he needs to have his blood glucose levels checked morning and evening, and be given insulin. This isn’t something that I can easily ask a local neighbour or friend to do. Many people, even pet sitting services, are squeamish about doing such things – despite how easy it actually is. Now if I want to take a trip, I have to book him in to be boarded at the local vet office, where they’ll do it for $35/night. I cannot even do a slightly cheaper option of boarding him elsewhere with someone who would be willing to do the check/shots. I did that over Christmas while I was in the UK, and Otter got himself in such a state that he needed to get taken to an emergency vet clinic.

    I feel trapped by my job. I’ve been with the same company for over 13 years. I’d like to get out, but it’s tough to find something out here similar enough to what I do to make me look worth it to a company. I’m a senior support engineer, sure, but supporting the things I do might be considered work of a systems administrator, and there’s enough that changed with other software and hardware in that kind of job that I’m not sure I would be considered qualifiers for that role anymore. Adding to that is how much the on-call stuff is getting to me. On-call starts Friday 8am and runs until the following Friday at 8am – a whole week. During these weeks, I’m constantly on edge outside of working hours, and can’t sleep properly. The last time I was on (which helped put me into these doldrums) I maybe got 3 hours a night.I can’t really even do much personal stuff out of work hours, because the primary people who are typically in front of me now are so new and almost always end up escalating to me, so I don’t trust things enough to feel comfortable to go far from the house.  I have another week of this starting Friday, and then two more weeks a week after the first one finishes. Not looking forward to that at all.

    All that’s happening down in the US right now is making it far less likely that I could find a position and move down there. The uncertainties over NAFTA (and thus, the TN-1 visas), and the chance that the H1-B and L-1 programs could here restructured enough to make it impossible for me to get in that way mean that it’s unlikely that a company might want to take the risk on someone like me. Of course, compared to up here in the Vancouver area, down in the US is where all the jobs that interest me seem to be, as well as much, muchbetter pay.

    It’s not just all these things, though. Nothing else seems to be exciting or fun anymore. I’m not sure what would even be fun for me. Things that I once may have had fun doing all seem to have dried up or no longer seem rewarding.

    I turned 43 towards the end of last year, and I have no idea where my life is going. Things just seem stalled… stuck… going nowhere. 20 years ago, back in early 1997, I had interviewed for a company out in the San Francisco Bay Area, had gotten an offer for a job, and I knew that my life was taking a new direction. By 2001, when I was laid off from that company while going through the US Permanent Residency process, things started to look uncertain. Then in mid 2003, the year my H1-B visa was going to expire, and being laid off from another Bay Area company, things really looked uncertain and that I’d have to leave everything behind and move back to the UK. Then in December 2007 I got my Canadian permanent residency. Things may have been going good then, but the Canadian citizenship I got back in September 2012 was bittersweet. That may be when things became ‘What now?’ I still have no idea ‘what now?’. I’m not sure that, long term, Vancouver is the place for me. It serves a purpose now, but things just don’t feel like I properly connect here. I feel that I’m always too much out on the edge of things and not part of anything.

    I don’t know anymore. I’m now rambling. This post started as something that I was writing on the train this morning, and now seems disjointed thoughts. Maybe I’ll leave this up, maybe I won’t. I just don’t know.

     


  • Vacation planning for 2017

    Starting to consider my vacation plans for this year.

    Here’s what I have on the board so far:

    • VancouFur – Vancouver, BC – March 9 through 12
      I don’t have a room for this, because the hotel announcement was made while I was on a work trip and I missed it. I’m not that fussed about going this year, but I could probably go down for Saturday or something. I don’t really know anyone else specifically coming up for it. My enthusiasm for it this year is fairly low, and brought lower based upon this next one.


    • Furnal Equinox – Toronto ON – March 16 through 29
      This is the big one in March for me, instead of VancouFur. It’s a convention that I’ve never been to before, and to see people I don’t often see. I’m quite looking forward to this one, and I’ll get to mock downtown Toronto in person for a change ;>
      Planning to take both Kootenay and Penryn to this.


    • Star Wars Celebration – Orlando, FL – April 13 through 16
      Something that Dreams had talked me into going to, and I still have to see if I can get a decent flight. Only costume I’d be bringing to this one would be Qesnel, since he’s my Jedi gryphon.


    • Fur-Eh! – Edmonton, AB – June 15 through 18
      Another new convention for me, and one that I’d thought about going for some years previous. Figure that I’ll once again be taking Kootenay and Penryn, but perhaps may even have something new too.
      I booked a two-bed room for this, and still need to get someone to room share.


    • Megaplex – Orlando, FL – August 4 through 6
      I went to this one last year and had a pretty good time, meeting some long-time Internet friends in person finally. Decided that I would head back this year as well. Already booked a two-bed room, and looking to room share.


    • Midwest FurFest – Rosemont, IL – November 30 through December 3
      While I’ve blocked out space for this one, I’m only going to go if I can get a room in the Hyatt once they open. In 2016 I was lucky and managed to get a room share in the Hyatt, and I’m glad that I did. Having done the walk through the overhead passages, it really does seem like a heck of a long way to do that in a full costume. I know a number of people who did that walk in full costume, and heard just how exhausting it was to even do anything once they got to the Hyatt.

    Even with all of those, I still have 14 days of vacation still left to use. That’s one of the pluses about having worked at this company for over 13 years; I max out my vacation with 26 days, and then picked up another two for having worked two days when the company was closed over the Christmas/New Year break.

    So, considering that I still have time to use, I’m wondering… what else should I do? I’m semi-tempted by Biggest Little Fur Con, except for it being just a couple of weeks before Fur-Eh!

    It also seems that the majority of the time booked off is slanted heavily towards the first half of the year, so I would like to think about something else in the latter part of the year.

    If anyone has any ideas, please reply to my Twitter post.


  • West Coast (Not So) Express

    I’ve just had a fairly lengthy conversation with one of the customer service representatives for West Coast Express (WCE). That’s one of the people who are in that office that’s tucked away on the 2nd floor of Waterfront Station that so many people aren’t really aware of, as opposed to someone at TransLink itself. The conversation was about the numerous delays there have been on the service for the past couple of weeks, pretty much all caused by Canadian Pacific (CP) freight traffic.

    Just to illustrate, this is how many times that I’ve been affected (WB = westbound into downtown Vancouver, EB = eastbound towards Mission):

    • Nov 17 (Thu) EB Train 1
    • Nov 18 (Fri) EB Train 1
    • Nov 21 (Mon) EB Train 1
    • Nov 22 (Tue) EB Train 1
    • Nov 23 (Wed) WB Train 2
    • Nov 23 (Wed) EB Train 1
    • Nov 24 (Thu) EB Train 1
    • Nov 28 (Mon) EB Train 1

    All the above delays have been in the region of 25-35 minutes late. This is the worst level of service that has been seen since the few months leading up to May 2015.

    The recent delays all have been related to freight traffic on the track where the commuter service runs. Freight trains run a lot slower than the commuter rail, so if a commuter service gets stuck behind freight a track section or two ahead, a significant delay can build up.

    So, what are the reasons for these recent delays? Some people on Twitter have speculated it’s the result of another contract negotiation between TransLink and CP Rail. That isn’t the case apparently, as the contract signed in November 2015 is a multi-year deal and we’re barely a year past that.

    It seems that it may be a couple of things. We’re approaching Christmas, and there are a lot of container ships waiting in English Bay for their chance to get into the Port of Vancouver to unload their cargo – which is then mostly transferred onto rail cars to be sent back east across Canada. The other reason is to do with grain shipments – apparently a good harvest – which needs to be shipped out of the Port of Vancouver before a certain date. Both of these issues results in more freight trains vying for track time.

    There’s another little wrinkle which was let slip in this conversation. In the previous contract, WCE was guaranteed a two hour clear window of track time where nothing should be sent by CP onto the track being used. In the new contract, it doesn’t sound like this provision is in place anymore. In other words, there is no more margin for error if there is a freight problem before and during the times the commuter rail service operates.

    One of the biggest complaints there has been during these recent delays is the lack of timely communication from TransLink. Even when I’ve tweeted about problems happening at a particular moment on a train, because I’m on that train and relaying what the conductor has just said over the PA system, it takes TransLink a long time to acknowledge there’s a problem and send out a confirming tweet or an email/SMS update. Something to understand is that the WCE office is nowhere near the TransLink office, and isn’t really even connected with it. If you file a customer service issue on TransLink’s website, it doesn’t go straight to somewhere the WCE staff can see it – TransLink has to forward it over to them. The same seems to be true for communication on service issues. The people handling service notifications at TransLink need to get updates of what is going on in order to push them out. The people at WCE do have screens that show the rail traffic between downtown Vancouver and Mission, so can see very clearly what traffic might impact the commuter service. They do also contact CP if they see something that might to find out if it will or not. But it seems that there is some kind of communication problem between WCE and TransLink – specifically where, I could not say.

    The last thing to mention is the issue of compensation for all the recent delays. Back in May 2015, prior to the Compass system fully being rolled out, this was possible; you could go into the WCE customer service office and they would re-issue a 28 day pass with a few extra days on it. Now that Compass is in place, this is no longer possible due to all the passes now being calendar month based. That method of doing monthly passes really is one of the greatest ways to screw the passenger by no longer making it possible to add extra days to a pass. Apparently, due to complaints from WCE riders who didn’t quite understand the 28 day pass, this was factored into the reasoning to no longer provide that option once Compass came in. The best I managed to get for ‘compensation’ was a travel mug and a few vouchers for free beverages from the coffee service on the Waterfront platform and on the trains.

    So what can we, as commuters, do? Filing service complaints with TransLink only goes so far. Another option that was suggested was to contact my city’s (in my case, Maple Ridge) council or mayor’s office and register complaints with them. That way CP aren’t just getting complaints from TransLink, but also the cities, and potentially even the Mayors’ Council.


  • What’s In a Name?

    Magpie

    I started online life using a multi-user “talker” that someone at the University of Warwick had written. Not sure how I found it, other than I knew a couple of people at Kingston (not a polytechnic, honest) University used it too. I’d become fascinated with magpies since my 2nd year (when I was 13) at secondary school, when in English class we did readings of a play called ‘The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew’, which had a magpie character in it. I also would set lots of magpies around the cemetery that the school bordered (as the school was closely related to and used the church there often, for assemblies and other things)

    Fox

    I can’t remember why prompted it exactly, but I ended up getting a “staff” position on this talker, and changed names to Fox. That was how I was known by for most of my university years, and even when I changed universities from Kingston to Warwick, I was even able to get “fox” as my username for the computer science department network.

    Farthing

    This was the name that I used when I first got into the Furry Fandom, back in 1994. At that time, I was using a username of ‘fox’ bac in university, but didn’t fee that ‘Fox’ as a handle would be good to use. Also around that time was a TV series in the UK called the Animals of Farthing Wood, which had been adapted from a book series into an animated TV series. Originally basing the character I used as a “descendant” from one of the foxes in this series, I went for the name Farthing. He went from a regular red fox, to a cross fox to a winged anthro cross fox.

    Francisco / Frysco

    Francisco was originally developed as just a RP character for a MUCK called Sinai, where he was a grey fox kitsune. His history was that he had started out in Japan, and moved west over the course of a couple of hundred years, and ended up in San Francisco, where he decided to use that name for himself. This was partly inspired by my upcoming move to the San Francisco Bay Area in July of 1997. His name was “corrupted” into Frysco by a wiz of the Sinai MUCK (and later RL friend), Lynx. It stuck, and I ended up using that name more than Farthing, and eventually changed over.  These days, I think most people still know me as Frysco more than any other name.

    Frysco became a gryphon due to my involvement with the Gryphon’s Guild web message board, and the Lorikeet part was (I think) thanks to a suggestion from Lyosha there.

    Morse

    He was a costume that I made for a Halloween one year. I’m not sure that he was originally intended for Halloween, but I got him finished in time for it. I think that I was thinking of the Poe poem Nevermore in part, but of course he is a magpie, not a raven. Though somehow I ended up going from that to thinking about a fictional detective drama show I remembered enjoying from the UK called Inspector Morse, and pretty much pulled this character’s name from that, even so far as keeping the same trait of “while he has a first name, he doesn’t care to use it”. (Later we did find out that the Inspector’s first name is Endeavour, but that’s not the first name of my magpie!) I later retroactively created character history for (my) Morse where he once was human, but ended up becoming a bird thanks to some magical feathers he bought for his hat while in costume at a Renaissance Faire, and ended up somehow getting transported to a world where he somewhat (but didn’t completely) fit in. I’ve tweaked with his background more so that alternatively, he fits into the Karen-verse, where he got cursed by a necklace that turned him into a complete bird for five years, before meeting Karen and finding out about a special plant that can keep him human…for a while, at least.

    Tseatah

    I needed to get a name for the “critter” I was getting from White Fox (before he used the name Arend Studios), and wanted to get a name that was “uniquely Canadian”. To find such a name, I went looking went looking at online map resources (google Maps may have been around then) and found a First Nations reserve, a small one, not too far away from Chiliwack, in B.C. that appeared on the map as “Tseatah No.2”. At the time I had no idea how properly to pronounce it (though now figure it might be similar to the silent T of Tsawassen), so used a hard T instead ; Te-Say-Tah.

    Kanshin

    This guy came about because Marylen costumes came out with a griffin costume. I already had bought a red fox and silver fox from them, but wanted the griffin. Yet I didn’t want their standard design. Instead I was able to get them to change the colors and fur lengths to get him to be a little more magpie-like. His name came, again, from Lyosha, as apparently that was the name of some relation that she had in her personal canon, but said I could usethe name  anyway with no relation to her. I set out to make this character my hockey mascot type, even getting him a Grand Rapids Griffins jersey. I’ve been trying for years to actually get him at a game that team is the visiting team at, and have come close twice. Sadly, I think that window has closed for good.

    Lutalo

    I had gotten to know Lance Ikegawa, who was well renowned for his costume creations already during the relatively early ConFurence days. I had really wanted to get something by him, and after Dark Natasha got a maned wolf (which I had considered myself too), I wanted to get something unique and a challenging, so went with an African Wild Dog instead. At the time, he was the first AWD fursuit out there, and I remember getting a test fitting of the undersuit down at San Diego Comic Con (the first and only time I’ve been) and then debuting the costume at an AnthroCon back when it was at the Adam’s Splat/Mark in Philidelphia. I wanted to set him out as a hunter/warrior, and I believe that Lutalo does mean that in some African dialect.

    Napier

    This hyena started out named Bhob and was part of a set of three made by Lance back at ConFurence 8 (maybe 9).  I loved it back then and when I found out that he was the only surviving member of the trio, made an offer to rehome him. I had no idea of his name, so renamed him Napier, with some cunning. He was a hyena, and hyenas are renowned for laughing, as if they’re in on some kind of joke. going from there, I remembered that the name of the Joker in the Batman movie (which my uncle-by-marriage had worked on) was Jack Napier. I thought that was clever at the time.

    Nikoli

    This snow spotkat was named for my original intention for him, not what I ended up doing with him. I wanted to get a Russian military officers uniform for him, as I somehow thought that would be appropriate for a snow leopard, and the name Nikoli sounded Russian. He almost was named Rasputin, because of a particular song.

    Lasrach

    After seeing a gryphon (the Neopets character, Lord Kass) made by Lance Ikegawa, I was inspired and wanted to make my own. Working with Scribblefox, he produced some art design for a hippogryph, and I took this and with the help from Diadexxus worked up some color designs. In the end, I went for a black/red/orange scheme, which I felt gave him a kind of fiery appearance. In choosing his name, I wanted something exotic sounding which appropriately described him. I found the word “Lasrach” in Irish Gaelic which meant “flaming” or “blazing”, which seemed quite apt. Jax the bat (who has since disappeared) ended up making the head, and I got help from White Fox on making the fiberglassing used in attaching some piping to some bike gear armor that formed the basis of the wing harness.

    Cackle

    After seeing Cobb the blue jay, made by RedXIX with MikeYote, I was inspired to do my own bird. At the time I was still around the #fursuit channel on IRC and had a habit of light hearted and fun mocking of things folks said. So, the idea for a mocking bird was formed. I wanted a name that seemed appropriate to the idea of a”mocking” bird, and Cackle seemed like a good idea.

    Tiwaz

    This tiger was made with two goals in mind: to be something I could use for events with our local community event mascot group, HelpingPawz, and also to fit in with whatever the current theme was for the Mountain View (California) spring parade. I think the theme was something to do with jungles that year. As for his name, for some reason I thought of an old UK Saturday morning kids show called Tiswas that ran from 1974 to 1981. Manipulating this name a little bit into Tiwaz made it sound ‘right’ for him.

    Kootenay

    I’ve already mentioned Cobb the blue jay by RedXIX, and now they had made Caspian the tern for Orzel. I really wanted to get a bird from them too, but what? I wanted to stick with a corvid, because without a doubt – of course, dating back to magpies – these are my favourite family of birds. I decided to go with a Steller’s Jay, because I live now in British Columbia, and that is the provincial bird. I also figured that I could bring him to some of the community events, and people should recognize what kind of bird he is. Hah! Of course, many people just have no idea. As far as his name, I felt inspired by a street names again. I was originally going to go with Ioco, based on Ioco Road in Port Moody. But, in the end I figured that people could read his name as Loco depending on the font his name was written in. I decided to use a name I’d seen on another sign on my drives into work; Kootenay. I think that given that he’s a “representative of the BC province”, having a name of one of the regions seemed more appropriate. Also, someone else is now using the name Ioco for one of their costumes.

    Penryn

    This guy is still relatively new, and doesn’t exist yet as a costume – but will do by mid-year. I wanted to go back to my roots again with magpies and get a new magpie costume. Even though I still hold Morse in fond regard, Morse is very much specialized to the Renaissance Faire outings. So, I wanted something a little more toony for convention and other appearances. Figuring that I am going back to my roots on this, I wanted a name that reflected that. I looked for names that were around the school where I first became fascinated with magpies, but couldn’t find anything appropriate. Then after that, I looked at where I lived, but in the end went with something connected to where I first was an ‘online’ magpie – back at Kingston University, which was on Penrhyn Road in Kingston. Manipulating the name again a little, taking out the ‘h’, I chose Penryn.


  • Rainfurrest thoughts, and using social media to help

    A couple of weekends ago I attended Rainfurrest, the furry convention in Seattle that pretty much filled the void that Conifur left. For the most part, it was a reasonable con, but a few isolated incidents created a black mark that might be very hard to recover from.

    The first was something that was strewn all over social media: a guy in the hotel convention space lobby area wearing what looked like a pup hood and nothing but a diaper below his waist. RF has long had a reputation of “catering” to the “cub crowd”, and it’s no secret that a number of their staff is part of it (based on the “crinkle” ribbons seen around this year). But actively catering to it? I don’t really think so. While RF has not officially commented on this picture (because they rarely officially comment on anything, thanks to continually poor PR skills), I would like to believe that this person was told by security to go out some pants on at least. In the scheme of things, this is a relatively minor issue anyway.

    Then there were the rumours about diapers being left various places; in stairways, on cars, and so on. I spoke with someone who had one left on their car, and they said it was “unused”. Now seriously, do you think that the “cub” group – who know that they’re getting some pretty bad PR themselves right now – are that clueless to go around and deliberately make themselves targets? They’re targets enough already, and likely they were being targeted here to try and smear that group and try and make them look more responsible for the ills of RF.

    The bigger issues is the damage that was caused to the hotel – something that RF did officially comment on.

    Usually at conventions there is always some form of minor hotel damage. I include things like elevators falling out of operation here, of which one of the ones going up to the main convention center broke on Thursday early evening. I actually saw that happen, and it was not malicious at all – just an example of how bad those elevators are in general. I was coming up the short flight of stairs to the lower elevator lobby and someone had just pressed the button to go up. They saw me and attempted to hold the doors…but not using the door open button; actually putting their hand against the door edge to try and stop it to close. Any decent elevator should detect and obstruction and stop trying to close, but not these ones. As such, the elevator broke. Wasn’t malicious and just an accident by someone trying to hold the elevator for someone.

    Other issues included the hot tub (always a problem for any con) getting broken, because something (believed to be towels) got into the pipes and blocked them. Once again, the con’s failure to deal with PR let rumors run rampant on social media about defecation causing the shutdown of the hot tub. I’ve heard such rumours before at other conventions (one of which may have been RF last year) and they’ve never been true once.  The only thing that ever came close was a hot tub at a completely different con getting shut down because a couple of people decided that having sex in it was a good idea. Anyway, regarding this rumour at RF; I decided to find someone on RF staff that was either on the hotel liaison side or very close to them and get the story – which is where I found out about the blockage and it likely being towels. Once I had that, I put out the news on places like Twitter & Telegram to debunk the rumour with something that was close to fact.

    The remainder of the issues, which can be found on RF’s “open letter to attendees” at https://www.rainfurrest.org/2016/index.php/2015/10/05/a-letter-to-our-attendees/ included a flooded bathroom causing damage to a hotel office below it, multiple petty vandalisms, and thefts. There were also multiple emergency services callouts (ambulance and police), which doesn’t really put a hotel to ease as to how an event is going.

    And now, as of last night, RF posted on the “Location” page of their website (so, not in any really visible place) that they won’t be back at the SeaTac Hilton for next year. Whether this was the hotel deciding “enough is enough” and actually breaking the contract, or the convention and hotel mutually deciding to part ways, is not known. Of course, RF PR being what it is (i.e., “bad”) this news about the con needing to find a new location was not announced by the con, but found by other people and tweeted about – which just sets the rumour mill running again.

    Where could RF realistically go?

    Nearby in SeaTac there’s the Doubletree hotel, just down the street. But the Doubletree is owned by Hilton, and hotels talk to each other. While moving there is possible, the relationship that the con has with Hilton no longer helps it and possibly hinders now.

    Downtown Seattle? That brings a whole new level of expense, as well as trying to find a hotel that has enough rooms and function space. Certainly the con is not big enough to get into the Convention Centre yet.

    Bellevue? Located on the east side of Lake Washington, there’s quite likely a hotel over there that might have enough space that isn’t owned by Hilton. It won’t be as convenient for the airport, but I think that it’s likely a contender.

    Does the convention already have something in mind? I think probably. The convention had grown enough over the past few years that it was busting the seams of the SeaTac Hilton, and a move was very likely for 2017. No doubt that potential venues had already been looked at, and now the timetable is accelerated a bit.

    Before I end this ramble of consciousness, I’ll mention again how poor RF’s PR skills are. They’ve been consistently bad in announcing various deadlines over the past years, and the failure to react to rumours during the con itself. Now, I know that during a convention people are busy. I’ve staffed conventions from 1998 onwards, held various director level positions within conventions, as well as been a vice-chair and chair of Further Confusion. But one thing that I also did was run FC’s social media from 2008 until 2012 (I think?) I had posted all the announcements on various mailing lists and forums from before then, but the Twitter account started in November 2008, after I saw what Midwest FurFest was doing with scheduled tweets. One thing that I found during my year as chair (FC in January 2009) was that Twitter was a great way to find out about problems before con ops even knew about them, and I saw the value in that. My vision from then onwards was to have a Twitter client running at con ops searching on mentions to the con’s Twitter account or the convention hashtag to find out what people were saying about the con, so we could get a heads up on things quickly. I got so much resistance to this, because people were too busy and no-one could be spared. Sometimes we did get a client there running, but I don’t think much attention was paid to it.

    Yet the events of this past RF show that there is a need for an increased social media presence during the convention as well as before it. You can see when rumours start, and then get an official notice out to squash them quickly. If you start having problems with petty vandalism, you can put out a notice to inform people to watch out for people doing such and report them to security. There is just so much you can do to make people aware of things, and when people are aware of things – even you don’t give them the whole story, but enough – then your attendees can help the convention stop (or at least, significantly reduce) the amount of bad things that happen. Yes, certainly some things need to be kept quiet, but not everything. A convention is run for the attendees, and the attendees are on your side. They want the con they’re at to keep running, so given a chance, will be able to help by keeping an eye out for things.


  • What if …

    • … I’d never found the furry fandom?
    • … I’d never moved away from the UK to California?
    • … the company that I’d worked for first had actually put in my US permanent residency application in a more timely manner?
    • … I wasn’t let go by that company in 2001?
    • … I hadn’t been cheated on by someone I loved while we were at a convention?
    • … I had moved back to the UK when my US work visa ran out instead of moving to Canada?
    • … I’d actually managed to move back to the US again 1 year after moving up to Canada, like I had originally planned?
    • … I never got permanent residency here in Canada?
    • … I never got citizenship in Canada?
    • … I’d been allowed to move into another position at the company I work at, instead of being kept there because I was too good to let go?
    • … I’d got past the interview I had down in Seattle last December?
    • … I’d got past the phone interview I had last week?

    Would I be happy then? Because I don’t think that I’m happy – truely happy – now.


  • Otter and the Vet

    For a while, Otter (aka AngryCat) has been complaining quite a bit when he was drinking from his water bowl. It was only when I took him into the vet to get him looked at for some litter-box related issues that I found out that he had some dental issues that needed fixing. So, last Sunday afternoon I took him into the vet to be overnighted (as he needed to fast, and that’s not easy with Cylia around too) so he could get these dental issues fixed the next day.

    Monday ended up being a roller-coaster of emotions related to him. The pre-op blood test they did showed that he was just into stage 2 (out of 4) kidney disease, so I will be looking at managing this with prescription food for him. That’ll again be interesting with Cylia around, and I’m thinking I may have to look at RFID pet feeders so each cat can get the food appropriate to them. Overall, I’m not worried about this problem for him. He’s 15 years old, and this tends to be a problem with older cats, and it is manageable. The other issue that got me worried briefly was the vet thought that he may have some thyroid issue, but fortunately after running the test for that it turned out not to be the case.

    He came back Monday early evening, minus 3 teeth, and pretty much spent the evening camped out by the water bowl, really as a reaction to coming out of the anaesthetic and having a tube down his throat for a couple of hours than anything else. He’s still not quite back to himself, but was showing more signs of normalizing by yesterday evening. He is being extremely uncooperative about taking the painkiller and antibiotic medications though; they’re just in liquid form that I have to syringe into his mouth… and I have fresh scratches to illustrate his disapproval at this.

    Otter after returning from vet


  • Sucky past couple of months

    Posted on by frysco

    The last couple of months have been… crap.

    Work has been so stressful and busy, and I was on call for 4 out of 8 consecutive weeks, and hadn’t been sleeping well as a result of that.

    Otter (aka, Angry Cat) is now 15 years old, and having a few health issues. He has a bad tooth that’s been bothering him (and needs removing), and a bit of a digestive tract issue (that I’m not sure has righted itself yet).

    The last two weeks of May was meant to be relaxing and stress free. The reality? Far from it.

    My flight from Vancouver to London was one of the worst that I’ve had, as there were two screaming kids behind me that didn’t really shut up the whole flight. Add to that that people who passed by in the aisle were so klutzy that they kept bumping into me, I could barely get any sleep. That pretty much set me up for catching a cold, which bothered me for about 3/4 of the time I was in the UK.

    Next, I had organized to courier a bag up from my parents’ place (near Epsom in Surrey – no, not the Surrey in British Columbia) to the Confuzzled hotel in Birmingham. The idea was that last year I had carried two big hockey bags and a roll-aboard with me on the train, and darn near put my back out. I didn’t want to do that this time, and specifically wanted to bring Tseatah (mk.II) and Cisco (my realistic grey fox made by Alopex) to the con, as well as Kootenay. After looking around, I chose Virgin’s “Bag Magic” service. They contract that out to P4D – a package management company – who sub-contract that to various couriers; in this case, TNT. A TNT courier picked up my bag on Wednesday (May 20th), gave me a signed copy of the delivery note as confirmation, and I expected it to be at the con by Friday, at the latest, when I got there. I get to the hotel, and no bag. I try to contact P4D, go into a phone hold queue for ages, and in the end don’t get an answer because they head off at 4:30pm Fridays. The customer service was meant to be monitoring their email over the weekend, but I didn’t get any response to my questions. I did find a tracking number for TNT that I could use on their website, and found the tracking page said ‘please call the Birmingham depot’; I did, and was informed that was there because the Birmingham depot knew (from the shipping order) that they should be getting a package, but hadn’t received it. I only got through to P4D on Tuesday morning, because Monday was a Bank Holiday in the UK.

    Even now, the bag has still not been located and is presumed lost, but still believed to be within TNT’s system ‘somewhere’. Tseatah mk.II & Cisco were in that bag, and the most insurance I could get on the bag was just £1,000 which covers just a fraction of how much both of those costumes cost.

    Yes, that’s right: A courier company in the UK LOST two of my fursuits. I’ve been told that packages will often show up weeks or months after they’ve been lost, but being the pessemist I am, I’m not hopeful.

    As for Confuzzled itself, I’m really not sure what I made of it this year, other than I don’t think it was as good as last year when I went for the first time.

    To summarize why:

    1. I was stressed/angry/upset about my bag not having arrived, which grew over the weekend to fears of it being lost, which also meant that I missed certain costuming opportunities that I’d really been hoping for
    2. I was under the weather, thanks to my screaming-kids-from-the-flight cold
    3. There were a few people that I thought that would be back at the con this year (that I’d hoped to see) that weren’t
    4. The socialization at the con seemed lacking from last year – particularly, last year people pretty much hung out in the lounge bar. This year, while the bar was used, more of the people that I knew/wanted to hang with seemed to head off to room parties elsewhere. By 11pm-midnight, I could count the number of people in the bar that I knew on one hand.

    Once the con was over, I went back to my parents’ place. My plan originally was to find some other folks I know and meet up one night. I ended up not because I’d become quite depressed about the bag situation, which wasn’t improving, and really felt like doing nothing at all.

    My flight back to Vancouver was no better than it was the way out; if anything, it was worse. Instead of screaming kids behind me, there was a bawling baby behind me, and then screaming kids in the next three rows in front of me. Seriously, I just could not win at all. Normally I try and get about 4 hours of sleep in the ~9 hour flight back to get me back near the time zone I usually operate in (which, despite my living in Pacific US time, seems to be Eastern US time), but didn’t manage more than maybe 90 minutes of actual sleep. So today, I’m struggling to stay awake at work (despite going to sleep last night at 8:45pm, waking up briefly at 11pm, and then waking up again at 4:15am) – and I normally do so well with avoiding jet-lag. 😛

    Oh, and I’m still worried about Otter; he seems a thinner than before I left. Perhaps it might be down to my being away, or his tooth bothering him more (which bothers him more when he drinks water than eats, really). I’m going to keep monitoring him closely.

    So, that was April and May – with May being the worst month I’ve had in a long time.

    Here’s hoping June is better. First big notable event for the month is today – when I get my new car (blue 2015 Prius V with tech package).

     


  • Canadian “Con”-tent

    This past weekend was VancouFur, a local furry convention.

    I admit that I went into this convention with a touch of the “meh”‘s. I tend to have that more when the convention is local to me instead of when I have to travel a great distance. A lot of that is that just having to drive 30 minutes is not enough time to sufficiently go into “con mode” than 16 hours of driving or 10+ hours of airplane travel.

    Another big part of the “meh”‘s is that VancouFur is a small convention, with 724 attendees. While that might seem like quite a few, it really didn’t feel like there were ever that many people there. The most people that I ever saw around the lobby area was perhaps 40-60 watching as the fursuit parade went through. The rest of the time the lobby peaked at maybe 25-30 people, and frequently went down to “I can count the people here on one hand”.

    The number of people around at any time has a direct correlation to “Do I want to get out in costume or not?” If there are enough people around, then sure – it’s worth the time that it takes to put something complex all together and get dressed and wander out. If it’s just ‘handful’, then I really don’t consider it worth the time to spend all that effort into getting ready, only to just go down to walk around the lobby area where there’s barely anyone to interact with.

    Why does this con in particular always feel like there are so fewer people there than actually are? I think that a lot of it could be due to the hotel itself. At that hotel, the Executive Suites Hotel & Conference Centre in Burnaby, practically every room is a suite, which gives you personal hang-out space that you can invite people up to and disappear from the convention for however long. Consider also that the only real “public hang-out and chat space” was the lobby which was small and didn’t have a lot of seats, and this also would drive people up to their rooms. Essentially, this makes the convention a Room Party Con and draws people away from the public gather spaces. If you’re not part of the right groups, then you can end up feeling fairly ostracized from all of those ‘parties’ going on.

    This year too, the convention hotel wasn’t large enough for everyone who wanted to stay, so perhaps half the people were over in the overflow hotel which was a fair distance away from the main hotel. This then meant that likely a good number of people were hanging out in and around that hotel instead of the main one.

    I also feel that the majority of the demographic at this convention is that of the younger, more into parties type person, of which I’m not. I’m on the wrong side of 40 years old now, and I don’t really care for the “drink yourself silly” parties that seem to be the norm with people here (locally). That, as well, may be why I seem to have fallen by the wayside of the furry community here, and never really hear about anything that’s going on.

    That leads into another reason why this convention didn’t ‘click’ for me either. The majority of people were the locals with only a few out-of-towners that I knew. With my social interests not aligning well with many of the locals these days, this meant less people I really wanted to hang out with at the con.

    Next convention for me is Confuzzled, over in the UK. I have a lot farther to travel for that, and the lounge bar in the Birmingham Hilton Metropole hotel is an awesome public hang-out space, and there’s always people around there and in the lobby… all that makes that convention look far more appealing than my local one.