Wally Hartshorn (wallyhartshorn) wrote,
Wally Hartshorn
wallyhartshorn

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Getting Caught Up ... Again

Once again, I've got 2 weeks of stuff to discuss in a single entry. You know what would be a better idea? Posting daily! Seriously, it would be great! Each evening, I could write about what happened on that very day while it was still fresh in my memory! Better yet, since not all that much happens to me on any given day, I would have plenty of time to ramble on and on about it in a humorous fashion! Well, I'm not sure whether I could do the humorous bit, but I am pretty confident that I could handle rambling.

Before that, however, here's a Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the last 2 weeks.

Wednesday, November 14: Normally this would be Funshop night. Actually, it was Funshop night. However, Lando was sick with a cold, so it was Funshop night without us, and without us, does it really count? I suspect the Funshop staff just canceled the evening when they realized that we weren't there.

Thursday, November 15: Nothing happened on this day. It might as well have not existed. Now that I look at my calendar, I see that there's a blank hole where that date should be. I apparently was abducted by aliens and had unspeakable yet completely forgettable things done to me on that day, because I remember nothing about it. Odd.

Wait! I just remembered what we did! First, we worked on cleaning up the house in preparation for a visit by Dad & Pat. Then, since we had the floor relatively cleared of cars, pillows, swords, games, stuffed animals, bowling pins, more cars, trains, more stuffed animals, magazines, newspapers, unidentifiable snacks, and so forth, I suggested that we take that opportunity to put up the Christmas tree. Not decorate it; just put it up, to claim the space. So we did that, violating our sacred vows never to put up Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving. Oh, the shame!

Friday, November 16: Our cat Marta went to the vet again for her weekly CBC blood test. She had her second chemo treatment for liver cancer on a week earlier, so they wanted to check her blood. As expected, the chemo treatment had caused her white blood cell count to drop, leaving her susceptible to infection, so they gave Dawn some antibiotics. Well, they didn't give Dawn the antibiotics; they gave Dawn the antibiotics. To give to the cat! Understand? Well then you figure out how to phrase that sentence if you're so smart!

Saturday, November 17: Dad & Pat arrived from Texas to visit for a bit. Every year Pat goes home to Murphysboro to do the Thanksgiving thing with her kids, so the weekend before they came up to visit us. The good part was that we got to visit with Dad & Pat, who we don't get to see very often, given that San Benito, Texas is over 1300 miles away. The bad part was that this was the same weekend as Crystal Ball, so Dawn & I had to miss that.

"Hey, Wally! What is Crystal Ball?" Glad you asked! Crystal Ball is an annual event held by the Barony of Shattered Crystal. ("Hey, Wally! What is the Barony of Shattered Crystal?" It's the Belleville, Illinois branch of the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism. "Hey, Wally! What is the Society for Creative Whatchamacallit?" It's an international group of people that recreate the Middle Ages, sort of like Renaissance festivals do, but with everyone participating. Are you done asking questions yet? "Yeah, I think so." Good. Now, where was I?)

Crystal Ball features an entire day of dance classes, with something like 10 different classrooms being used concurrently, so that you have a wide selection of dances to learn. After spending the day learning dances, there is a feast in the evening, followed by the actual ball itself, which runs way, way, way past midnight, typically ending sometime around 3 in the morning.

If you enjoy Medieval dancing (which Dawn & I do), then I've not heard of a better event, certainly not within easy driving distance.

Of course, with a nearly-3-year-old, things get a bit more complicated. If we had gone, we probably would have had to come up with some sort of babysitting arrangement, either leaving him with someone here, or going with someone who could take turns keeping him entertained. By next year, when he's a nearly-4-year-old, we might be able to just tell him, "Stay here, play quietly, and don't chop off anything that can't be easily reattached." We'll see.

Also, there would normally be a meetup of the Springfield Area Freethinkers on that day, but (1) they were going to Chicago's Field Museum to see the Charles Darwin exhibit; and (2) we weren't. Why does everything seem to happen at the same time?

Sunday, November 18: When Dad & Pat show up in mid-November, we always drag them to the Festival of Trees, a fund-raiser for the Memorial Medical Center Foundation. ("Hey, Wally! What's the Memorial Medical Center Foundation?" I've no idea. All I know is they charge us $4 to look at their Christmas trees. Presumably they're doing something useful, or at least legal, with the money.) I'm still posting photos from the event, but here's one of Lando with Little Cindy Lou Who:
Lando and Little Cindy Lou Who

And here's Dad & Pat checking out the gingerbread houses:
(Gingerbread) House Hunters

Monday, November 19: Another alien abduction. My mind is a blank.

Tuesday, November 20: My original plan for this day was to attend the monthly Liberty Brew & View, where we would be watching Harlan County USA. It's a documentary about a coal miners' strike in Kentucky in 1973. Will Reynolds said it was his favorite documentary, but for some mysterious reason I just wasn't that interested.

Okay, I just remembered part of the reason for my relative lack of interest. I also remembered what I was doing Monday evening.

I decided to play a video game.

More specifically, I hadn't played any sort of D&D-style computer role-playing game for quite a few years, so I decided to pull one out and play for a bit.

First, I dug out the disks for Baldur's Gate II and installed it. Copyright date: 2000. I can safely say that my computer far surpassed all of the recommended specs for the game. Actually, the game hadn't heard of a CPU faster than 600MHz and didn't trust a screen resolution greater than 800x600. Support for 1024x768 was considered experimental, and support for 1680x1050 was unheard of.

After playing Baldur's Gate II for a little bit, I decided to abandon that and instead play Neverwinter Nights. Copyright date: 2002. Again, I can safely say that my computer far surpasses all of the recommended specs for that game. However, it was a very significant advance over Baldur's Gate II, at least in terms of the graphics. It even supported 1680x1050 screen resolution! So I buried myself deep into Neverwinter for a bit (instead of posting something on my blog, I might add).

Now I'm curious as to what the state of the art is in D&D-style computer role-playing games these days. I might even go buy a game that strains the ability of my computer to run it. (Say, copyright date 2006.) However, I think I still have quite a few hours of enjoyment left in Neverwinter Nights before I think about spending more money. Besides, given how long I go between gaming sessions, it might be years before I finish the game!

Wednesday, November 21: Normally, this would be Funshop night. However, because the next day was Thanksgiving, there was no Funshop scheduled. Or perhaps they just didn't want to face the disappointment of us not showing up again. When we go for a week or two without attending Funshop, then when we finally make it, Lando stays very focused on getting in as much playtime as possible! Tomorrow is Funshop night again, so this will be the first time he's been back in 3 weeks. I expect we'll be scrambling all over that room to keep up with him!

Thursday, November 22: Happy Thanksgiving! Naturally, I had the day off. We had made plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with GM & Rosie on Saturday, so we didn't do anything special on Thanksgiving itself. However, partly because of Lando's recent interest in football and partly because watching football is a traditional Thanksgiving day activity, Dawn suggested that we do so. Of course, by the time we remembered this, it was Thursday evening, so we almost missed it! Anyway, I turned on the TV to watch a football game -- just 2 weeks after having watched the Colts play the Chargers in the first football game I had watched in years -- and found myself watching the Colts play the Falcons.

Have you ever had the experience of watching a single episode of some TV show, and then years later turning on the TV and finding yourself watching that exact same episode again? That's sort of what this felt like. And like before, Lando stayed interested for about one quarter -- throwing himself to the ground on every play. After that, he was ready to do something else, but I had to watch the other three quarters to find out who won!

Friday, November 23: Being a lazy, good for nothing state government employee, I had the Friday after Thanksgiving off. (I read that New Jersey's governor decided to end the practice of making the day after Thanksgiving a state holiday. Since Thanksgiving, for some strange reason, always falls on a Thursday, nobody wants to go to work on the Friday after. Even those who do go to work won't feel much motivation to get anything accomplished. You can argue that they shouldn't feel that way, but you'd be arguing against human nature.)

Marta went to the vet for another CBC.

That evening we went to the Festival of Trees again, this time with Eric, Patty, Sarah, and Rose. Our primary reason for going a second time was to watch the St. Andrew's Society of Central Illinois perform. Bagpipes, drums, Celtic dancers -- what's not to like? Actually, although Lando loves all of those things, he was a bit overwhelmed by the loudness of it all. Drums and bagpipes indoors, even in as large a building as the Orr Building, are very loud!

They take new dancers as young as 3, so perhaps someday Lando will give it a shot. Virtually all of the dancers are girls, so this would be a great way to meet women!

Saturday, November 24: We had our Thanksgiving dinner with GM & Rosie. I had turkey, dressing, gravy, etc. Dawn, being vegetarian, stuck to mashed potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, etc. Lando, being 2, stuck to being picky about his food.

One thing we didn't do was attend Chambanacon, a little annual science fiction convention. It began in Champaign-Urbana (aka "Chambana", thus the name), being held in the Chancellor Hotel every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving. I would go most years, partly to attend the convention, but also to a large extent just as an excuse to revisit the UIUC campus (where I went to school) and the college town area.

However, a few years ago due to increasing rates being charged by the Chancellor Hotel, Chambanacon moved -- to Springfield. Umm... What? Well, that made it much more convenient for me to attend, but it also removed one of the main reasons for me to attend. Even before that, I think that over years the Chambanacon staff had grown a bit lazy, not doing anything to attract new people to convention and pretty much just coasting. As a result, Chambanacon had shrunk -- and aged. It lacked the energy that it had had at one time. True, they advertise it as a "relaxicon", but frankly I can relax much more cheaply at home.

This year, for whatever reason, Chambanacon returned to Champaign-Urbana, although this time to a different hotel ("The Historic Lincoln"). Perhaps we'll try it again next year and see whether it has begun to bounce back. Actually, I think I'd rather try one of the other science fiction conventions that are within a reasonable distance. We'll see.

Sunday, November 25: I don't remember much about what we did during the day, but that evening, right after Dawn gave Marta her antibiotic, Marta vomited up the pill in a pool of blood. This is not something that you want to see. We debated whether we should call the animal hospital that night, but we decided there probably wasn't really anything to be done until morning.

Monday, November 26: Dawn called the vet at 7:30 AM and told them that Marta had vomited blood the night before. They told her to bring Marta right in, so I stayed home with Lando while Dawn to Marta to the vet. They kept her there until 5:00 that evening, giving her fluids and so forth. Apparently the problem was the antibiotic, which really disagreed with Marta. The good news is that there is an alternative that doesn't involve shoving a pill down her throat twice a day. The bad news is that the alternative involves giving her a shot. Us. Giving her a shot. Correction: Dawn giving her a shot. I'll hold Marta, but sticking her with a needle? *shudder*

Despite all of the drama with the blood-vomiting cat, we did something fun that day: We went on a date! Yes! For probably the second time in 3 years, Dawn and I actually went to a movie! In a theater!

It was amazing! It was expensive! $9 for a ticket?! Yikes! I had thought $7.50 was pricey! Well, $18 for tickets, plus $19 for food, making a total of $37 for this date. And we didn't even go out to dinner! Oh well, it was fun anyway.

We went to see Enchanted, which I would probably give 4 stars out of 5, while Dawn would probably give it 5 stars. It had quite a few funny bits, but I had hoped they would do a little bit more with the "fish out of water" theme than they did. It was still a good movie, though.

And it was a date! Lando stayed with GM & Rosie, who kept him well entertained until we returned. Actually, from the way Rosie tells it, Lando pretty much played quietly until Dawn & I showed up, at which point he reverted to his normal hyperactive self. *sigh*

Tuesday, November 27: Dawn took Marta to the vet again, because they wanted to monitor her again for the day. They'll want to do the same tomorrow. Marta is really getting tired of us stuffing her in the cat carrier.

This evening I attended my first regular meeting of the Sangamon Valley Group, the local group of the Sierra Club. We had attended the potluck cookout in October (when Lando fell and got an enormous bump on his head, prompting an emergency room visit), but we hadn't attended a normal meeting before. GM had said that he was also going to be attending for the first time, but didn't show up. I don't know if something came up or if he just forgot about it. I did see a few people I knew -- Will Reynolds, of course, but also Larry Trutter (who I know from my Amiga and BBS days, as well as from REALL and the Springfield Area Freethinkers) and Chris Pearson (who I know just as an acquaintance from my work with GIS and ILGISA).

The evening's presentation by Bob Barewin was about going on Sierra Club trips, particularly service trips, where you go somewhere to work on building, repairing, or in some way improving a park. The specific example covered was a service trip to Canyonlands last spring, where they worked on surveying and documenting the Anasazi petroglyphs. It sounded quite interesting, although it would be a few years before we could go with Lando. He'd probably have to be a teenager before they would allow him to participate in something like that. We would like to go on some sort of a less ambitious camping trip in the next year or two, though.

Wednesday, November 28: Hey! We're caught up to the present! And it's way past my bedtime! I think I'll post this and turn in. Good night!
Tags: cats, christmas, games, marta, movies, orlando, sierra club, thanksgiving
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