Friday, November 04, 2005

Holy Crap!

In addition to tying up women in corsets, I also have a side job as a web developer. I work with small businesses and Artist types to develop online stores where they can sell their goods. For the past few years I have worked with a cool guy named Chris Rupp. I built him two websites and Why am I dropping these URL's? Well, he just made a very generous donation to the gas fund. And I would be remiss if I didn't pimp his sites. If you like comics, go check out these stores. You won't be dissapointed. Thanks Rupp, I'm sorry I once called you an evil, horribly misshaped gnome :P

Tick tick tick

I'm running around trying to get shit done and all manner of things are cropping up trying to slow me down. Customers are anxious about their special orders and I understand that. I'm trying to straighten everything out before I leave. I had a website to build but the client has made almost zero effort to get me the info I requested. Fuck it, he must not be in a hurry then.

Went supply shopping today. The good news, gas was $2.05 at Sams club. I'm hoping the prices further south are also dropping. That means that our money will go further. The bad news, basic stuff still costs a lot of money. We got some more cleaning supplies at Big Lots and then shopped for extra work clothes at Goodwill.

The two things that are of concern to me now are illness and injury. Not there, but here! Rossana is sick. It takes a lot to put her out of commission. And she's fighting it, but we tend to pass colds back and forth. Also, I seem to have some sort of heavy object magnet implanted on my body. I managed to pull 6 heavy metal brackets off a shelf and onto my head yesterday. I dropped a ladder on my foot and almost fell down my own front stairs.

I've been in contact with organizers for both Hands On USA and Common grounds. Both are glad we're coming as there is still a need for volunteers. I'm told that most of the National Guard checkpoints have been taken down. They are also clearing space for all of the expected volunteers. They say that they hope to be able to feed everyone but its a good idea to bring your own just in case.

I'm a little nervous because the NOPD did not have the best reputation even in the best of times. There is still a curfew and several volunteers have been hassled and/or arrested on various or imaginary charges. Thanks to a customer of mine who happen to be a lawyer in Cleveland I should be able to track down a lawyer in Louisiana just in case something unpleasant happens. (Thanks Pete and Erika!)

Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 'Can I quit now?' FEMA chief wrote as Katrina raged - Nov 3, 2005 - 'Can I quit now?' FEMA chief wrote as Katrina raged - Nov 3, 2005

Goddamit I thought I couldn't get any madder and then I read this. Go read it and then go punch something. And this ASSHAT is STILL on the payroll at FEMA for another month at least.

I have cleared out the van of the last of the Ren-faire season stuff. After 2 days of cleaning and putting stuff away our garage still looks like a war zone. Tomorrow I'll start gathing all the gear I think we'll be needing in the shop.

A request for help.

I’m sorry if you get this message several times from several sources. I’m trying to reach as many of our friends as possible to ask for your help.

Like most of you, Rossana and I watched as Katrina became the worst natural disaster in recent history. We watched the dramatic rescues. We sat in front of the TV and witnessed as things went from bad to worse. We grew frustrated and then angry at what we were seeing. We wanted to help, so we made a donation to the Red Cross. But like any large agency, it has not been able to get help down to the local level. And the Red Cross is, by its nature, an emergency response agency, not a recovery agency. I won’t even go into the problems with FEMA. They are handling large scale issues and have not been effective at getting help to many areas.

The helicopter rescues are over and the cameras have left town. Other stories have pushed the disaster off the front page of the papers and the tv. Which is sad, because the hardest part is yet to come.

Although the hurricanes are over, the destruction from Katrina and Rita is still being keenly felt by the people of the Gulf Coast.

For the past few weeks I have been following the efforts of two groups. Hands on USA and Common Grounds

Both groups are attempting to help individuals and neighborhoods recover from this disaster. Hand on USA is helping perform debris removal, helping distribute aid and performing temporary repairs on homes in Biloxi. Common Grounds is operating a Medical Clinic, and is mobilizing a large volunteer force to help clean up the 9th Ward in New Orleans.

I know a lot of us donated money and some even tried to volunteer to go help but were thwarted by red tape and logistical problems getting into damaged areas. Now that the roads are mostly open and relief groups are established volunteers can finally start helping out. On November 11th Rossana and I are heading down to help with recovery efforts. I know a lot of you would do the same if you could, but keeping ones job and paying bills is pretty damn important too. Since we are self employed we can dedicate the time to this project without worrying about if we will have a job when we get back.

We wouldn’t mind staying a few months, but the reality is we can only stay until the 27th (on this trip). The other reality is that it will take a lot of gas to move us and our gear down there. A rough estimate based on current gas prices places the cost in the $300 - $400 range round trip.

That’s why we’re sending out this email. We’re asking for help to defray this cost. If you can spare $5 or $10 I have set up a paypal account for donations. I know its kinda crass to ask for donations, but the faire season wasn’t as outstanding as we’d hoped, and we still want to go down and do our small part.

This money will only be used to get us there and back. If one cent is left over then we will donate it to Common Grounds. If you want to help these groups directly (and I hope you do), go to their websites and donate. Both of these groups are small, fast moving and use more of the donations for direct relief.

If anyone can take off work for a week or two and wants to join us, we’d be happy to have you along. Just email me ( I can supply you with a list of stuff you should bring. No special skills are needed, this is sheer grunt work. We have all the tools we should need. Hands on USA will provide shelter and basic food (MRE’s) in Biloxi; the situation in New Orleans will be rougher. Resources are limited and we will likely be in tents and have to bring in our own food.

If you want to keep track of our progress I will be posting stories and photos to my blog at as often as time, energy and phone service allows.

The gulf coast will take a long time to recover, but it will recover. Day by day, house by house, person by person.

Thanks for your help everyone.

Steve and Rossana

Photos of Hand on USA at work :

Stories about Katrina Relief failures:

If you don’t have a paypal you can send your donation to us at home:

Steve Pack and Rossana Fichera

20350 Mosher Rd.

Wellington, OH 44090

Flight Patterns

Flight Patterns

Super cool. Go see for yourself.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reprieve and Delay

Reprieve and Delay
Originally uploaded by stevepack.
Sunday at most cons is an exercise in futility. The main events are over and the circus is leaving town. But you have to be there. We had two good prospects for sales when two bouncy chicks tried on corsets and promissed to return Sunday. They didnt. I began to do some rough calculations in my head. Airfare, hotel and food...slowish sales...hmmm. I was starting to feel like a man on death row. Things are looking grim and I'm eating my last meal when suddenly there's a call from the governor. The dealers room closes at 2 and at 1:39 three women step up and make last minute purchases. I breath a sigh of relief. Looks like we'll not just break even but pull ahead. Tear down goes smoothly but we have to guess the weight of our bags and hope we don't get nailed at the airport.

We eat a great meal on a virtually empty patio by the small courtyard garden. The dead dog party is just that. A sad room with the last dregs of the con participants. We turn in early.

6am comes with a loud wakeup call. We catch a cab to the airport and are checking in (curbside strip search and standard luggage manhandling) when I get a call from the airline. Our plane is broken. We will now get to spend 5 hours at the airport. Joy.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Vampires to the left of me...

The San Marcos hotel was built in 1913. It is a grand Spanish Revival structure with gracefull arches and ivy covered pergolas. Errol Flynn stayed here, along with other Hollywood notables. I'm not sure what the original owners would think of the current Vampiric infestation.

It seems incongruous that creatures of darkness would choose to meet at such a warm and sunny location. But meet they do. Fewer than I'd like. The dealers room has several vacant tables where expected merchants failed to appear. The corsets are of course, well received. Their workmanship is appreciated. But the life of the undead obviously doesn't pay very well. We will likely break even. A few sales will show up later on line. After all, it took a lot of money to get here.

In the great tradition of the suburbs, none of the normal guess seem to see anything strange going on. Rossana wore a stunning hard leather corset and bra with matching arm and leg guards along with six inch platform heels and it barely raised an eyebrow at the Italian restaurant we had lunch at.

Tonight was the big shindig with everyone dressed to the nines. Tonight some major event takes place in the Vampire world but you wouldnt know it from the crowd. Quiet and subdued until the booze kicks in. We glide past on our way to dinner. But its late and all we find open is a Jack in the Box. "I thought these all closed" my wife says after "jeff" falrteringly takes our order.
" They hit a rough patch after the first four deaths from food poisoning a few years ago".

Rossana eyed her salad suspiciously. "Dont worry, it was the beef" I said taking a big bite of my greasy Jackburger.

Death is all around us tonight.

Steven Pack
Renaissance Fashions