mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So once again, I went to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon. I've been to every Anthrocon since the first one, so it's my 21st Anthrocon. This time though, I turned it into an 8-day vacation so I could make some side trips on the way there and on the way home.

Read more... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
FA United was in Herndon, Virginia, this year. It was at the Hyatt Regency, just across the highway from the Dulles International Airport. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the con moving to Virginia. For one thing, this would be my third trip to Virginia this year, after Fursonacon and Fur The More. Is it an overload of Virginia-ness? Also, I figured the con would have fewer attendees this year because I heard many folks from New Jersey who were regulars at FAU weren't planning to make the trip south. Still though, some of my friends were at this year's FAU and I recognized some folks from Fursonacon as well.

The new location is both good and bad. I thought the hotel was terrific! Every room in the hotel is a suite and somehow, FAU negotiated a group rate that is lower than what I paid at most other cons. So it's a win-win. Plenty of space to lay out my gear. This is the first hotel I've stayed at that uses RFID keycards. Instead of slipping the card into a slot, you hold it against the card reader on the door. Possibly for security reasons, the keycard is also needed to activate the guest floor buttons in the elevator. On the last day of the con, I realized that I could simply keep the RFID keycard in my handpaw when fursuiting. It was kinda neat and cute when I activated the elevator reader by pressing my paw against it. Two downsides to this hotel though. First was parking was inadequate. On Friday night, the parking lot was nearly full by the time I got back from dinner. Because of that, I didn't even drive out for dinner Saturday night. Instead, I got takeout earlier in the afternoon and kept it in my room for later. The other problem, of course, was the hotel wasn't within walking distance of any stores or restaurants. It was about a mile to the nearest strip mall and the oppressively hot summer weather wasn't conducive to walking that distance.

FAU didn't have a whole lot of scheduled programming that was of interest to me. I was in the fursuit parade (which thankfully did not go outside in the 100°F weather!) and the fursuit games. I also attended Majik's sewing panels, where I made a red star squeaky toy and an ice cream cone. I also went to the Majik Mystery Loot Brawl, where my prize was a corgi ear and tail set. This game is similar to white elephant gift exchanges at some holiday geocaching events. At each turn, the player can either pick and unwrap a gift or steal someone else's already-unwrapped gift. I didn't get my first choice of gift but this was good enough.

So those events were basically it for me. The upside though was I had plenty of time between events to get meals and find geocaches and Munzees. I went for the "Virginia Trains and Roads" multicache early in the morning (before it got hot) to qualify for the weekend's Mission GC souvenir. Geocaching was actually only so-so in that area. Munzee, on the other hand, was amazing! There is a very active Munzee community there and the Munzees are well-maintained. Out of the hundreds of Munzees I went for, I think only three were missing or worn out. That is excellent because I've been to areas where the failure rate was up to 50%. I also used these games to decide where to eat. Every time I went out for a meal, I took a look at what special Munzees or geocaches were out there. I went and got that, and then took a look to see what restaurants were nearby. That led me to some interesting local favorites and ethnic restaurants. (That's another nice thing about the area. The DC Metro area has a lot of good Middle-Eastern and Indian restaurants, and most of those places are good for tasty but moderately-priced takeout food.)

Will I be back next year for FAU 2017? Probably. Can't say for sure because a lot can change in a year, but I did enjoy the hotel and the area, and a smaller convention with less programming is a nice change of pace after Anthrocon.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So that was it! My 20th Anthrocon! It's quite a significant milestone since there aren't too many things that I've been doing every year for 20 years. Geocaching and Where's George both started after the first Anthrocon. Of course, over two decades a lot has changed. The con has grown up significantly and in a sense, so have I. The con moved to another city (twice) and so did I. Can we look forward to another 20 years? I don't know. Let's take it one year at a time.

Once again, I shared a hotel room in the Westin with Marauder and Gatorman. (Well, Gatorman skipped last year but this arrangement was the same for the previous couple of years before that.) We arrived on Wednesday but this time, we stayed until Tuesday so we could spend July 4th in Pittsburgh. I didn't do too much at Anthrocon this time around. I was at the Recess fursuit games, the dances, the fursuit parade, and a couple of panels. I missed a lot of con events because the scheduling didn't mesh well with my plans or I had to go out for meals. Most of it is not the fault of con programming. However, when I answered the con survey, I pointed out that signup for the Team Fursuit Games was too early in the morning. 8:30am on Sunday morning was tough to make, especially after going to room party and a dance on Saturday night, and so I had to skip that event. That aside, the con is still very well-run. Panelists and guests were interesting and good speakers in their fields of expertise. Aside from the usual elevator line and fursuit badge line, I didn't notice any problems at all.

Sorry to say but conditions in Pittsburgh have deteriorated. This started on the day of my arrival when I saw that someone had a violent confrontation with an aggressive panhandler right outside the Grant Street bus terminal. It was an incident that required paramedic and police response. Walking around the city myself, I noticed that there were far more panhandlers than in previous years and some were more pushy than others. I heard from a friend too of an incident where he was accosted by a group of homophobes. It's scary if you're walking on your own in the city, especially at night. In addition, there was a shooting on the night of July 4th near 7th and Liberty, which is just a few blocks away from the Westin and DLCC. Luckily, I opted to watch the fireworks from the DLCC waterfront instead of going to Point State Park. However, my roomies were much closer to where the shooting happened at that time. And finally, I saw that someone had scratched my car on purpose with a coin or a key. However, I didn't notice that until the day after, when it was pointed out to me. So without further proof, I can't say whether it happened in Pittsburgh or anywhere I stopped along the way home. (Monroeville, Breezewood) My car has plenty of scratches already, so I didn't mind too much but again, it's another sign of the way things are going down the drain in that area.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
This weekend, I was at the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, VA, for Fur The 'More. This time, I shared a room with Laser Wolf from the DC area. He's a good roommate and great for conversation throughout the weekend. Also, I do prefer splitting a room 50/50, rather than three or four ways, because then we have more space and one bed per person. The running gag this weekend is I would stumble into the room in fursuit at 2 o'clock, and Laser would be in bed. This happened not just at 2am but also 2pm! :) This year, our room was on the first level, which due to the layout of the hotel, is actually half a level below the lobby level. That was quite convenient for fursuiting though because I didn't need to take the elevator to get to either the lobby or the panel rooms from my room. Just a short walk and a couple of steps up/down, and I was there!

Even in its fourth year, I find Fur The 'More to be overall an enjoyable con. I like that they try new things every year to keep it interesting. The program schedule wasn't overly packed, which is nice because I like to take breaks from attending panels and events for general fursuiting mayhem and shenanigans. However, of the scheduled programming, I did enjoy the screening of Office Space, the fursuit parade, the fursuit games (Furlympics), the fandom rant panel, the assertiveness/self-confidence panel, and the charity (Frisky's Wildlife Sanctuary) presentation. I also played about a half-dozen rounds of One-Night Ultimate Werewolf in the gaming room because it was that good! Also, handing out woven silk ties to fursuiters as fursuit tags was a wonderful idea and fit perfectly with this year's Cubicle Jungle / Office Space theme. Of course, then we found out that most folks hadn't tied a tie in years but I helped a few fellow fursuiters with their ties once I remembered how I used to tie a tie.

The only issue with the hotel was inadequate parking. Both the hotel perimeter and garage filled up on Friday and Saturday, and some people had to park along the street and side lane. Fortunately, I didn't need to drive out the whole weekend. The nice thing about the location is there are a couple of restaurants and a Walmart next door to the hotel. That's great for when you can't spend too much time on lunch or dinner because you have to get back to a con event. However, I did walk farther out (about 1/4 mile) on Sunday to try some new restaurants about two blocks down Leesburg Pike. Gotta write more Yelp reviews, you know! :)

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
I bought an early bird membership to FursonaCon in May last year because it's a first-year con within driving distance and I wanted to give it a try. Also, at the time, they were planning to hold it during my birthday weekend and I thought it'd be nice to go on a trip then. Then last September, they made an annoucement that they would be merging with Ring of Fire Con. Unfortunately, that meant the con dates had to be changed to mid-March, which would therefore not fall on my birthday. Oh well.

Truth be told though, I thought it would be a disaster. Would ROFCon, which is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, anime and gaming, mesh well with a furry con? I needn't have worried. Once I got to the Hampton Roads Convention Center, I saw that they had it well in hand. FursonaCon had its own Dealers' Den and Headless Lounge, while the two cons shared a ballroom, gaming rooms, video rooms, panel rooms, and an art show. The big advantage seemed to be that two cons pooling resources can afford to book a hotel and convention center (well, half a convention center. We shared space with a gun show.) instead of just a hotel, so there's a lot of room for everyone. Plenty of room to grow, in fact, since the rooms and halls were not filled to capacity that whole weekend. Plus, the convention center had a lot of wide-open areas for costuming and photography. What about the people though? Generally, the sci-fi/anime folks seemed very accepting of furries. I walked around con space in fursuit, raccoon by day and husky by night (not planned, that's just how it worked out), and got many requests for hugs and photos.

The hotel bears mentioning too. Every room in the Hampton Embassy Suites is a suite. So in addition to the usual bedroom and bathroom, I had a living room with sofa, chairs, and another desk! The living room was a good staging area for laying out my gear and getting into fursuit. Also, the hotel provided a complimentary breakfast buffet, saving me a lot of time since I didn't have to venture out for breakfast. If that wasn't enough, they also had an evening reception every day, with drinks and light snacks. (finger food like chips, trail mix, and assorted veggies)

Geocaching wasn't as great in the Hampton Roads area, so I mostly got those on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the way to and on the way back from the con. There were a lot of Munzee though, around the convention center and at many stops along the way. Enough special Munzees to get me over 3000 points, 3 levels, and 2 badges.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (rakket)
This past weekend was my annual trip to the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT, for Furpocalypse. I've had mixed feelings about this con, and FurFright before that, for a number of years, but still kept attending, probably out of force of habit. Furpocalypse seems to be having a tough time setting itself apart from the legacy of Furfright but I see they have made numerous small changes: making the registration line go the other way, new security, more pizza, fursuiter tags, new hosts for the quiz hour, and probably lots of other little things I didn't notice. I thought the con itself was just fine this time around and if I didn't do as much there as I'd intended, it was my problem for not pushing myself hard enough to do those things.

The problem this time was I wasn't too fond of the hotel. The Crowne Plaza has lots of problems, The first night, when I tried to check-in, the front desk staff, who seemed to be a bit lacking in training, took a long time trying to look for my reservation on the computer and had to call someone else to help. Then JBadger and I noticed that the room keys demagnetized rather rapidly by themselves. The keys didn't last two days before failing to open the door, so it was annoying having to go to the front desk multiple times during our stay to have them redo the keys. And finally, the layout of the hotel is downright confusing, although by the end of the con, I started to remember some useful shortcuts to get down to the lobby from the room. The other problem is I'm again noticing some rudeness among con attendees. Aside from the loud expletives that I heard here and there in con space, which I try to tune out anyway, I saw people rushing into the elevator before anyone inside had a chance to exit. What's the deal with that? I saw that happen a number of times, although not as much towards the end of the con. On the plus side, getting drunk-groped and drunk-clinged while I was in fursuit only happened once this time.

But enough ranting. At this con, I attended the usual events: fursuit parade, fursuit games, Saturday Morning Cartoons panel. I watched a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy), which is a change from past years when I typically ignored the movie room. And I attended the "Being a Good Social Potato" panel, which I assumed from the panel description would be a workshop on socializing better, but somehow it turned into a rant-fest on certain types of annoying people in fandom. But it was a fun panel nevertheless. I was also in two fursuit music videos by chance because I was in fursuit in the main hallway when they were asking around for participants. Aside from con stuff, I also took a few trips with JBadger outside the hotel for meals, geocaches, and Munzees. So it was a pretty full weekend with a variety of activities. Only slight regret was I fell asleep early and missed the night dances, but I certainly can't do everything.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
This past weekend was my trip to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon. As usual though, I went a day early and drove overnight Tuesday/Wednesday to do some geocaching along the way. However, other than a few around Breezewood, Bedford and Donegal, most of the caches I got were around Greensburg, where I saw giant flowers and Roadside Giants. The area is rather hilly, which makes for some nice views from even as mundane a location as a Walmart parking lot.

Finally got to Pittsburgh in the afternoon. The first change I noticed was Penn Avenue had become one-way to make room for bike lanes. That screwed me up a bit because I didn't know about that beforehand and had to take a detour around several blocks to get to the Grant Street Transportation Center red garage entrance, my usual parking location. The second change I saw was the new Westin lobby. It does look a lot more up-to-date, with modern fixtures, a green wall (with live plants) running way up, and a new lounge/office area. (They moved the Westin gift shop towards the back to make room for that.)

And finally, I saw the new smart elevators. These turn the notion of requesting a floor on its head. Instead of waiting until you get into the elevator before pushing a floor button, you have to tell it the floor you want and then it assigns you an elevator. There are no floor buttons inside the elevator. One obvious plus is this puts an end to that old prank of pushing every button in an elevator. The system can also optimize elevator assignments by putting people going to the same floor on the same elevator so it makes fewer stops. The downside is it isn't completely foolproof. People can make mistakes requesting the wrong floor or requesting the same floor multiple times because they forgot the elevator assignment or thought it wasn't coming. There is no way to undo a request, so that could end up calling more elevators unnecessarily. Also, the elevator assumes a certain number of people can fit, which could be way off if one or more have luggage carts. (A Westin bellhop told me about this problem.)

More... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So this weekend, I attended Fur the 'More 2015. (I think I've had the apostrophe in the wrong place before but I checked the website this time!) It is strange that a convention whose name is a play on Baltimore was held in Tysons Corner, Virginia, this year, but I was assured that it was due to circumstances beyond their control and they're still looking to return to Baltimore eventually. However, I thought the new location was excellent! The Sheraton is right next to two building complexes with lots of restaurants and a Walmart. Because of the variety of food choices, both fast casual and sit-down, within walking distance, I didn't need to drive out anywhere the entire weekend. (although I heard that one group went out for tacos 20 miles away, which, for that much driving, had better be some pretty amazing tacos!) The hotel itself isn't so amazing though. Air conditioning was a tad weak for the lobby area, the layout was weird, and the elevator button panel on my floor was loose and ready to fall off if I looked at it wrong. This time, I shared a room with Panzer the cat and JBadger. (who joined us on Friday)

Wall of text! )

Overall, I thought Fur The 'More 2015 was an enjoyable convention and I plan to be there again next year. There were some issues here and there, but I don't expect perfection and I'm sure the con and the hotel will eventually fix those. What I like about this con is their willingness to add new ideas to the mix every year. This will ensure that it doesn't stagnate.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (rakket)
On Saturday, I only went for geocaches around Newark, Hockessin, and Cecil County because I was planning to attend DE Furbowl 55 that evening. Actually, there were quite a number of local geocaches by this time because I hadn't been going geocaching on weekdays after work because of the earlier sunsets. I also noticed that some new geocachers have been busy placing caches around North East and Rising Sun, which is good because it keeps the Cecil County area fresh.

In the evening, I had an early dinner and then went to AMF Prices Corner for Furbowl. The place was busy! It'd been 11 months since my last Furbowl and my understanding is attendance is regularly in the triple digits now. I wore the Rakket Raccoon fursuit this time. It was a fun time, although I didn't stay all the way to the end because I had to prepare for the next day.

On Sunday, my first destination was Uwchlan to get more of the "13 Superstitions" series. It was a bummer though that the final 13th cache was under repair, but at least I got the required codes from the first 12 of those. There were some rather creative caches in this series, among them, the black cat and the clump of clover. Thank goodness the latter wasn't too deep in the bush or it may have been tough to find! After that, I went farther north to Nantmeal and Douglassville. Monocacy Hill was surprisingly packed. I wasn't able to get a proper parking space in the main area so I only got the two closest geocaches that I could access from roadside parking near a side entrance. And finally, I went way north to Bally for the "Stove Road" series of caches. The "road" here is an old woods road that's rocky, somewhat overgrown, and barely discernible in some spots, but the 4 caches were pretty good and worth negotiating the terrain to get to.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
This weekend, I was in Connecticut for Furpocalypse. From all appearances though, it might as well have been FurFright Redux 2014. Same hotel, same events, same charity... heck, even some of the prizes and goodies from the games and contests still say "FurFright"! For their first year, it's fine to ride on FurFright's momentum but I hope they'll eventually try new things and remake the con in their own vision. For the most part, I had a good time, which is hard to explain since it's pretty much the same con as last year. It could be that a slight change in the mood made all the difference. Last year, I had the impression that folks were a tad cold and distant but there was none of that this year. The only real issue I encountered this year was one of the hotel guests (not a con attendee) was very rude but I never saw him again after Thursday, so good riddance.

- Friday evening, I got back from dinner in time to join the ice cream and trivia hour. I was surprised that my group won this time. One of the prizes was the quizmaster's fake hair, which I used later at the dance.
- I was at the Saturday Morning Cartoons panel when the fire alarm started, so everyone had to wait outside in the cold. I was wearing my fleece bat pajamas at the time, so it wasn't too bad. Also, at least the alarm wasn't at 4am like FurFright 2 years ago.
- Fursuit parade on Saturday was indoors with the final photoshoot in the ballroom instead of outside, because of the rain.
- Since I enjoyed the sewing panel at FAU, I attended one again at Furpocalypse. This time, I made a squeaky toy.
- Went to the Big Gulp Party on Saturday evening. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] dalesql for hosting.
- Fursuit games on Sunday: First game was a relay race where we went in pairs and one fursuiter would push the other around the course on a dolly. Second game was charades. And the last game was the figure-eight musical chairs. (a FurFright original) I was on the red team (Team Ebola) and we got second place.
- I skipped the closing ceremony in favor of a little geocaching spree around Newington followed by dinner. (Goldburger at Goldburgers) I returned in time for the dead dog party and a bit of pizza. Originally, there was a second fursuit parade scheduled for Sunday night but it had been canceled by the con. We got a bunch of fursuiters together and paraded anyway, which was hilarious since no one expected it.

Also, there was geocaching. Connecticut does not have as high a cache density as the Philly area but I still found quite a number. I focused on the Milford, West Haven and Prospect Beach areas (Date Night, WOOF Series) on the way to the con. During the con, I dashed out for mini caching sprees in Berlin and Newington. On the way home, since I had an errand to run in Middletown, I got a few there and a bunch more in Trumbull (America's Pastime series) on the way home. There was some good hiking, although I think fall colors were already past the peak by that time.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So this weekend, I went to the Hanover Marriott in Northern NJ for FA United. I stayed in New Jersey until Tuesday to combine this trip with the "Triple Tuesday Pints & Patties - 2014" geocaching event. These two events seem to always come one right after the other, so I thought I'd inquire as to whether the Marriott could extend the con group rate until Monday night. Alas, they never got back to me so I just booked a hotel room in the South Brunswick area. (As an aside, it's very hard to find an inexpensive hotel without bad customer reviews and without bed bug reports. I run into this issue every time I try to plan a trip on my own. The Red Carpet Inn is relatively new, so it could be that they just haven't run into problems or nitpickers yet.)

Anyway, just like in previous years, FAU didn't have much programming this year, or at least not too much of interest to me. So it was a chance to relax and meet up with friends, both old and new. And oh yeah, we crashed a wedding or perhaps a wedding crashed us. This weekend, there was a wedding party at the hotel and Miss New Jersey was one of the bridesmaids! They were actually pretty cool with the furries. On Saturday, they did a wedding photoshoot in the lobby. We were trying to stay out of their way but they called us over to join in! That was pretty awesome.

In the fursuit games, I was on the yellow team. What's amazing is we won every single game! (and therefore got first place) I wasn't even sure how that happened. Maybe we just had the right combination of skills or a lot of luck. The games were the scooter race, balloon popping, clothes pegs, and musical chairs. My roomie, Argon Darksteel, was the balloon expert, so that probably helped in the second game. For the clothes pegs game, I knew from experience to just sit next to the bucket and focus on clipping all the pegs on our poor captain's lower parts. >.> And finally, I was the one who won musical chairs for the team. I was worried initially because the team was too close together (in musical chairs, the team should try to spread out a bit initially to try to eliminate others instead of ourselves) but we moved as a block and I was lucky to not be eliminated during the early rounds. Then finally, it was just me and one other player going around a single chair. I was getting a bit dizzy by that time, both from exertion and from circling that chair, but I flopped onto the chair at just the right time and that was that!

On Sunday, since there wasn't much going on in the afternoon, I went to a sewing panel and sewed a cupcake. I already knew a bit about sewing but working with patterns and fleece material was interesting, and I learnt a few little tricks too. Definitely will have to see if upcoming cons have sewing/craft panels too.

Triple Tuesday is a continuation of a long-running monthly Central Jersey geocaching event, which used to be held at Fuddruckers in New Brunswick until that restaurant shut down, then at Fuddruckers in Bridgewater until that too shut down. This month, it was at Red Tower III, another burger and sandwich place, in Somerville. Because I now live farther away from Central Jersey, I only get to attend this event once or twice a year. But it was good to get back together with the Central Jersey group for a few hours.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
For the weekend, I went to Fur the 'More at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, MD. I stayed at the hotel from Thursday to Monday and [livejournal.com profile] jbadger joined me on Saturday. Although attendance has doubled since last year, the con is still small enough that I could find everyone I wanted to meet up with easily. Yet despite the size, the con had a lot of panels and activities going on that were of interest to me. So there wasn't a dull moment. I liked that they were trying new things, such as the QR code game. Also, this is the first con in quite a while in which I didn't go to the dances but that was only because of the good video programming going on at the same time.

My only suggestion to con staff was to move the fursuit games later in the day because it was hard to get up early on Sunday morning after staying up Saturday night for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even that wasn't too much of a problem. Because of the way the games were set up, I could still join in even though I was a bit late. I think the biggest disappointment this year is we didn't get Frankie and Vinnie's, the 50s diner, because another group, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, had that section of the hotel. Maybe we'll get it next year.

I took an additional vacation day after Fur the 'More to go to the "Peanuts, Burgers, and Fries XXI" geocaching event on Tuesday. This is a monthly event at Five Guys in Toms River. The last one I attended was in December, so I figured it was time to go again. I guess I was still tired from the con, so I woke up late that day but I was still able to do a bunch of geocaches around Berkeley/Holiday City and Toms River before the event. Anyway, it was a good little gathering and I used what I learnt there to finish a puzzle cache before going home.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (rakket)
I frequently have event conflicts. For example, this weekend, I could either have gone to a geocaching event on Long Beach Island and stayed the weekend or to Delaware Furbowl 50. In the end, there were more reasons to go to Furbowl. Firstly, the 50th Furbowl is quite a big milestone, drawing some visitors from far away. (Fibre Kitty from Massachusetts, Nbowa from Iowa) Also, I was told that Furbowls will be held less frequently in 2014, so it'll be two months until the next one. What tipped the scale though was the weather forecast. Snow was forecasted for Sunday (which turned out to be correct), so if I stayed overnight by the Jersey Shore, driving home on Sunday would be difficult.

Anyway, since I was going to Furbowl, I didn't go geocaching too far from home. I got two geocaches in Delaware and then 11 more in Havertown, Upper Darby, and West Philadelphia. West Philly wasn't that great for geocaching because of the scarcity of parking spaces. Nevertheless, I parallel-parked as expertly as I could and got a few caches there anyway. I stopped geocaching a bit early to come home for a change of clothing. (pants were muddy) Then I went to dinner and then to the bowling alley for Furbowl.

I've been to a bunch of Furbowls over the years but #50 was the best one I've been to in quite a while. It actually didn't feel too crowded despite the number of people attending, and I got to meet up with my friends again. Also, the fursuit lounge seemed more well-constructed than before, probably a result of incremental improvements over many months. It's amazing how much piping, curtains, and racks go up and then get taken down again at the end of the night. It's like a traveling stage show. This Furbowl, I took the opportunity to debut Rakket Raccoon, another new old fursuit (old, but new to me and perhaps new to folks around here) I recently acquired. Because of the season, I put the springy Santa hat, which Wildwolf had included in the shipment, on Rakket's head and that turned out to be a hit! Endless zany fun. It was also fun to mess with people who didn't know yet who was in the fursuit. Really kept them guessing since I often don't speak in fursuit.

Sunday was the day of the forecasted snow. It was only cloudy in the morning, so I thought I would dash out after breakfast for a few geocaches and head home once the snow started. There was already some snow when I got to Upper Providence, so I stopped after the third cache and headed home. Well, the snowstorm had taken Delaware County by surprise so they hadn't salted the roads. I was still able to drive home on the snowy roads at around 15mph with minimal traction problems. The funny thing was I noticed the salt truck was following me for a few miles, so I got no benefit from that. Also, it would be funny if my car was on Channel 6 news since the news van was following me too. Anyway, I got home safely even though the highway was a snow field littered with spun-out cars.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
This weekend, I went to FA United 6 at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, NJ. From the outset, I didn't expect to do much at this con since the programming looked a bit skimpy but I went to the dances, the fursuit games, and the pool party, and I got to hang out with some friends from New Jersey and nearby. I think that was enough to make the trip worthwhile. There wasn't a con suite this year and I missed that, but on the plus side, I enjoyed the pool party on Saturday evening. I was told that Megaplex also has pool parties but I've never been to a con with a pool party, so this is novel to me.

The downside was some friction we had with the wedding party. I noticed that a few of them were harrassing con attendees. My handler and I (when I was in fursuit) too were on the receiving end of some impolite questions but we brushed those off. Then at around 3:45am on Saturday, there was a fire alarm. We found out later that there was a fight among the wedding party guests and someone pulled the fire alarm. Police had to intervene. I wasn't in the hotel lobby at the time, so that is what I heard from others. I hope FA United grows big enough to fill the hotel so we won't have to share with other groups who may be disruptive but that might take a while.

As usual, I went geocaching in that area both before and after the con. I also did a few during the con with my roommate [livejournal.com profile] jbadger. Northern NJ has some good geocaches at scenic locations like Boonton Falls. However, in making my rounds, I was reminded of a reason why I moved away from that area. On Thursday, I went for "Lemonade" in the Bridgewater area and saw that the cache container was trashed. If that wasn't bad enough, there was an unfriendly sign at the cache site telling us to go away. I'm sure that most people around there are nice but in my experience, a few mean ones can ruin things for everyone else and I seem to come across them far too often.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, I made my annual trip to Pittsburgh for the furry mecca that is Anthrocon. It's hard to believe that this is my 17th Anthrocon, meaning I've been to every one so far. I didn't think it was as good as last year's though, but that's mostly because I got sick just hours before the overnight drive out to Pittsburgh. The amazing thing is I was operating at 80-90% the whole con, crashing hard only when it was over. I feared though that I could have been Patient Zero, so if there was an outbreak of con crud, I apologize.

What's new this year were two groups attempting to produce fursuit music videos. I found out about one before the con through social media, but only learnt of the other one at the con itself. The first one, choreographed by [livejournal.com profile] neopantyger, was based on the Pon Pon Wei j-pop song and that took place on the DLCC rooftop Friday afternoon. I knew nothing about the dance moves but that turned out to be no problem. The dance was broken up into small parts and the whole group of us did multiple takes of each part until we got it right. The second music video was arranged by Dancing Duke. There were two filming sessions, on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. I took part in the Saturday filming. This time, there was an instructional video for the dance moves. However, there were some details I couldn't get from the video so I joined the group shortly before filming to practice it. Both music videos were a lot of fun to work on, even if the dance repetitions out on the hot DLCC rooftop were exhausting. The end result should be well worth the effort.

This year's fursuit parade, on Saturday, was an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records. To keep count, they handed out numbered straps at the door to Hall A, where we assembled for the photo. Those straps, I guess, were supposed to be armbands but were instead just stuck to our badges. The parade itself didn't seem to take that long, despite there being 1300 fursuiters in it. Maybe it was simply more efficient this time. I also took part in the fursuit team games on Sunday. I was in the green team and we were tied for third place. (No prize though.) The games this time were Scrabble (get large foam letters to form a word), machine charades (whole team has to act out each word together), hoop (get the whole team through the hoop while holding hands), and the hockey relay. (use a hockey stick to guide a ball around cones and then hit it through the goal) There were fewer players this year because of conflicts with other events, which is a far cry from two years ago when I was turned away because the teams filled up an hour before the games started.

Side trips, geocaching, etc... )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
I was at Fur 'the More in Hunt Valley, MD, this weekend. It's a first-year con so I'll hold the criticism, unless they really want to hear it. I do enjoy a small (473 attendees) con and it should not be in a hurry to grow. There were no lines at any time and none of the con events were filled to capacity. It's nice to still be able to find a seat even if one is a few minutes late to a panel or show. The fursuit parade (with only 94 suiters) was short and sweet. Even the Furlympics (fursuit games) benefitted from not having too large a crowd. With only around 20 participants, musical chairs and the limbo contest were pretty quick, and we soon got to the fun balloon-popping part of the games. As for the dances, I liked the Sock Hop on Saturday. This has been done at other cons before but it was really neat to have it at Frankie & Vinnie's, a 50s-style diner in the lower level of the hotel.

The hotel is in a rather good location because it's across the road from Hunt Valley Towne Center, a big strip mall with a variety of stores and restaurants. I had quite a number of meals from the Wegmans food court over there, although my roommate, [livejournal.com profile] jbadger, and I did venture out once for crab cakes at a local fish fry store. Unfortunately, it may not be a safe area. There was an armed robbery at the Hunt Valley McDonald's during the con and a few con attendees witnessed that. Be careful!

I didn't do too many geocaches Thursday on the way there. My main goal that day was to do "Tiger Tracks", a webcam cache in the vicinity of the Towson University tiger sculpture. I enjoyed a walk on the North Central Rail trail afterwards. Monday, on the way out of Hunt Valley, I geocached in scenic Oregon Ridge Park and took another long hike by the Loch Raven Reservoir. I should've stopped there but I ventured too close to Baltimore afterwards and encountered much dog poop, junk on the streets, and dangerous open manholes. Good thing I didn't fall into one of those!

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut halloween)
To be honest, after some not-so-good experiences at Furfright 2011, I considered skipping this year. However, I discussed my concerns with [livejournal.com profile] kgraleopard last year and seeing as how this is the tenth Furfright, I decided to give it another chance. I'm glad I did! I see a number of changes to the way the con was run that made all the difference. Just about the only problem I saw this time was the fire alarm at 4am on Sunday, which was the fault of a prankster, not the con. I thought the dances were good this year. I liked the retro sock hop, which I also enjoyed at FAU previously. Saturday night had some good music and a fun crowd too. I also enjoyed the Thriller Crash Course on Saturday morning, even though I wasn't very good at that. I was also at the Saturday Morning Cartoons party, both fursuit parades, and the fursuit games, and got to chat with many of my friends who I only get to see at this con.

As usual, I starting driving late Wednesday night so I could get to Connecticut by daybreak for geocaching. There weren't very many new geocaches since last year, so I decided to do something a bit more challenging. I went to Giuffrida Park in Meriden to hike up to Lamentation Mountain. I don't think it was a very high mountain but there were a few steep sections and it was a round trip of over 3 miles for 8 geocaches. There were good views of Crescent Lake (from the base of the mountain) and the valley. (from the peak)

Getting home on Monday was quite an adventure because of Hurricane Sandy. First, I had to leave Connecticut by 1pm because of a state-wide highway closure. I figured it was a better idea to cut across Westchester County and cross the Tappan Zee Bridge instead of going through New York City. That route also let me stop at Palisades Center Mall for lunch and to use the wi-fi internet. It's a familiar place because I used to live in the area. (And I'm glad the mall has not collapsed from ground subsidence issues.) After that, I saw that the NJ Turnpike was closed south of exit 9, so I detoured to US-1, used the bridge in Trenton to cross over to the Pennsylvania side, and returned home via I-95, which seemed fine aside from some speed restrictions. Later, I found out that the NJ Turnpike was closed only between exits 7 and 8A, so the electronic sign I saw was incorrect, but they were probably still sorting out their info at the time.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (face tree)
On Saturday, I headed downstate for the Mid-Summer's Cache Luncheon, a geocaching event at Rudy's Diner in Harrington. I thought it was a good event for meeting up with fellow geocachers from around the state, but we may have seriously underestimated attendance because the party room was packed! I had a pork roll & cheese sandwich. After that, we headed out to do all the new geocaches that had been placed for the event. Even though it was a rainy afternoon, we had a lot of fun dashing around the town. I did some of the geocaches with the group and some on my own. In the evening, I went back to Wilmington for DE Furbowl 38. I was a bit late to the event, so I didn't bowl this time. However, I still fursuited a bit, talked to friends, joined the group photo, and had a good time overall.

I wasn't sure if it was going to rain on Sunday, so I decided not to travel too far from home. I did some geocaches around West Chester, Exton, and Downingtown that I'd been saving for just such a day. Actually, a number of those geocaches were from a recent event that I didn't attend. In the end, it didn't rain and so the best part of the day was a hike in Marsh Creek State Park to finally visit the two geocaches on the west side of the lake. This hike would've been better in the fall (for temperature and scenery) but I can never tell when I'll be back.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut husky)
I was at the Hanover Marriott in Northern New Jersey from Friday to Monday for FA United 5. Shared a hotel room with [livejournal.com profile] jbadger again, just like last year. Now because I've heard a few complaints about this con, I have to say that we ought to set our expectations a bit lower since it's a smaller con than Anthrocon and Furfright and it has less programming. Given that, I thought I had a pretty good time overall. Not every con needs to be a rush of activity and I liked having the time to do what I wanted to do, to talk to people, and to let spontaneous things happen. It was slow at times but never actually dull.

The new hotel had more than enough space for our group. The common areas never seemed packed or congested at any time during the con, so it could probably accommodate a con two or three times the size. The only space that seemed a bit small was the con suite (especially at dinner time, when the line spilled out into the hallway) but the room is the size it is, so I don't think we can do much about that. Housekeeping was probably a bit understaffed that weekend; I noticed they weren't done with the rooms until the evening on Saturday.

As I mentioned earlier, there wasn't a lot of programming but I enjoyed the events that I did attend. The Sock Hop (oldies music dance) on Friday evening was fun and actually quite danceable in fursuit. The Miracle Fruit Tasting Party was the most unusual panel I've ever been to. Miracle fruit is a berry containing a chemical that makes sour foods taste sweet. So in this panel, we ate miracle fruit in pill form and then tried various kinds of food and juices. That was certainly a different experience! On Saturday night, we made our own spontaneous event, tearing around the lobby doing various funny stuff in fursuit. (Hope we didn't annoy the hotel folks too much!)

The day after the con, I returned to Bridgewater for the Triple Tuesday Pints & Patties - 2012 geocaching event. This monthly Central Jersey geocaching event has been going on for quite a number of years. It's the third Tuesday of every month. It used to be in New Brunswick but switched around to a few other places and then moved to Fuddruckers in Bridgewater after the New Brunswick Fuddruckers went out of business. I can't attend as often as I used to because I'm now further away but I figured I might as well extend my vacation by one day and do it this month. It was a comparatively small gathering this time, but I got to meet up with some of the regulars plus a few folks I haven't seen before. I noticed that the next Third Tuesday falls on my birthday, which makes attending this event again a tempting proposition if I take that day off from work.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
From the outset, I decided that I wasn't going to do as much this year at Anthrocon and that I was going to take it easy. Well, it never actually worked out that way. Although I wasn't in the Masquerade this time around, I was in the fursuit games, which I missed last year. And the rest of the time, I took part in the continuous string of events every day from morning to night. It was a load of fun.

Public Fursuiting: It seems lots of Pittsburgh locals know about Anthrocon now and there was a crowd of people on Friday and Saturday night hanging out in the Westin lobby, outside the Westin, and at the corner by Tonic, chatting with the furries and getting pictures with fursuiters. I thought that was amusing so instead of going to the dance, I fursuited out on the sidewalk in front of the Westin. It was a good, fun crowd. It reminded me of mascot gigs I've done, except this time, the adults rather than the kids were the excited ones.

There's one in every crowd: On Friday night, I was approached by a young lad who said he was not a furry but wanted to know about diaper fetish within the furry community. I wasn't even sure how to address that or if I should even say anything, so I told him that there may be some furries into that but I personally had nothing to tell him about it. Thankfully, that ended the conversation.

Tag Drama: For a number of years now, Anthrocon has issued special plastic tags to fursuiters. The design on the tag is different every year and it's a neat memento of the con. On Friday, I started hearing rumors that they weren't handing out tags to those wearing partial fursuits. One fursuiter actually started complaining to me about it, as if I had anything to do with that decision. Anyway, I took a look at who wasn't getting the tag and it was someone who wore street clothes and sneakers with just a fursuit head and gloves. Geez, if you're going to do that, at least try to have clothes that could be part of a costume instead of just the ordinary. However, I don't envy anyone who has to decide what is and isn't a fursuit. No matter where you draw the line, there'll always be borderline cases and judgment calls.

Slapband Story: We need to come up with better ways to secure con badges to our person. Three times this Anthrocon, I found a badge on the ground and returned it to its owner. On one of those occasions, the dorsai asked me to step aside. I was wondering what was up because he was writing down my badge number and name in his notebook. Then he put the band on my arm. (I was in fursuit at the time.) The "Dorsai Approved" slapband is apparently this year's version of the fursuiter ear tag. In previous years, the dorsai put ear tags on fursuiters, pretending to track them. (just like researchers tagging wild animals) Because there was only a limited run of tags, those became collectors' items. This year, the dorsai used numbered slap bracelets instead. From what I've heard, they didn't just give those out to any fursuiter. Some begged, some performed tricks, some were exceptionally cute, and one had to pee. (I'm not sure I even understood that story!) So the trick I performed, apparently, was to return a con badge. :)

Read more... )

The caches... )

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Morton Fox

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