As people are leaving the office today, and I am still swamped with work, they’re telling me where they’re going, or what they’re doing (Out to see 40 Year Old Virgin, in the case of JS and SR) and I’m sitting here with my head in my hands, splitting headache, stretching my face out like a rubber mask.
“I wish I were doing that.”
I think I’m making a decent run at bringing everyone down as they leave the office. Go with your strengths, right?
Thing is, with things crazy around here I’ve taken on more work than I can do. I’m a pretty decent programmer, but I’m not really fast at it when I’ve got a stress headache raging. Focus is difficult. On top of that, new organizational responsibilities put the squeeze on the actual time spent developing, and I’m also under the gun to brainstorm new development.
Almost every time I have a stress headache like this, I think back to a Stephen King book, Firestarter. One of the main characters (Andy, the father of the girl with pyrokinetic powers) has the ability to place suggestions into other people’s heads. That’s what happens to you when you submit to government psychedelic drug testing, dontchaknow.
Anyhow, Andy gets a searing headache whenever he uses his power. Near the end of the book he has to use his power in one huge push, and King describes what happens to his brain by writing something like “it burst like an old tire.”
Yeah, that’s how my brain feels like right now. Tylenol, Butalbital, Caffeine, Aspirin… nothing seems to help except walking away from the code. Yet, to the code I must return.
Hey, just writing this has helped immensely. My blog, my therapist.
The clinical benefits attributed to homeopathic treatment are merely placebo effects, according to the authors of a report in The Lancet medical journal.
[…]Dr. Matthias Egger, from the University of Berne in Switzerland, and associates searched 19 electronic databases covering the period from 1995 to 2003 to identify scientific trials of homeopathy, and matched them with trials in conventional medicine.[…]Egger and his colleagues say the results provide “no convincing evidence that homeopathy was superior to placebo, whereas for conventional medicine an important effect remained.”
Basically, when the data is viewed in an unbiased way, it turns out to be bunk. The results reported in “alternative”-friendly journals turn out to be the results of flawed research methods:
“Surely the time has passed for selective analyses, biased reports, or further investment in research to perpetuate the homeopathy versus allopathy debate.”
Put a fork in homeopathy already. It’s done.
The new saying in the office is “Lock that down” shamelessly borrowed from the second season Arrested Development episode “Meet the Veals.”
What does it mean? In the episode, Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) hears Pastor Veal (Alan Tudyk) admit that he and Mrs. Veal (Ione Skye) “got serious at a young age.” He tells the Pastor “Yeah of course who could blame you, you gotta lock that down.”
Later, he is accused by the pastor of kissing Mrs. Veal and he replies “No, she started kissing me. You really should lock that down.”
But it’s been generalized in the office to pretty much taking care of or getting control of any situation. This means there are plenty of opportunities to say it. Ooray!
This morning I was trying to say the word “didn’t” which is, of course, a contraction of the words “did” and “not.” Unfortunately, it came out sounding like “dih-int.” If you’ve heard the accent around here, you know what I mean. I have a bit of a Fall River/New Bedford area accent, there’s no denying it. But I try to get over it and enunciate so that people can understand what I’m saying, because I can’t understand about 1/6th of the locals even tough I grew up here. Of course, I choose to eschew the most egregious lazyisms.
So I corrected myself aloud several times and then declared, “I’d better lock that down.”
Exciting stuff, eh? Such is my life lately.
I can’t wait for the third season of Arrested Development to start. Until then we’ll enjoy “lock that down” at the office, mainly because there aren’t as many opportunities to say things like “I want to please you secularly.”
If you’re not watching this show, shame on you. Fox was recently showing most of the season in blocks of four episodes on Friday nights. But, unfortunately, they had 2 left that they are not airing this week. Maybe next week or the week after? We can hope.
Time for me to lock this post down.
“It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war,” he said. “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.”
Later, the nutfudge “apologizes:”
“I didn’t say `assassination.’ I said our Special Forces should `take him out,”’ Robertson said on his show. “`Take him out’ could be a number of things including kidnapping.”
Oh, right. In fact, I thought he meant to take the guy out to dinner and a movie. Except for the fact that the apology is a lie:
“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
But by “do it” he of course meant… wow, that’s a tricky one. The White House, for its part, just winked and nodded.
“I would think that people around the world would take the comments for what they are,” Mr. McCormack said. “They’re the expression of one citizen.”
Strong words, indeed!
Before GW’s term is over, I think these are going to be issued to every American citizen. Of course, the homebrew method is to turn the TV off during State of the Union addresses and such.
I’ve been heavy into work lately, although Maggie and I took a break last night to see 40 Year-Old Virgin last night with Steve Carrel and a number of other talented comic actors. The verdict on that is that it is 2 hours of rude, silly fun. Very inappropriate humor, and surprisingly even better than Wedding Crashers in my book. Ebert was right when he said “the more you think about it, the better The 40-Year-Old Virgin gets.” I have not had time to write a decent review, so I refer you to him.
This post is not exactly about work, but about something I have to put up with in my work environment. Lame situations, to put it mildly. And by “lame” I mean “having an effect on how professional we can present ourselves.” And by “what’s lamer” I mean this as a gripe post, rather than an honest attempt at taking a poll.
Lame situation #1: Our outgoing mail server here appears to be filtering outgoing messages that have “zip archive” attachments. It appears that 2 “zip” attachments automatically causes your message to be routed away from its intended recipient and into some invisible black hole from which no news or notification ever emerges.
This is really a convenient security feature when you’re trying to send code samples and such to industry partners during a meeting and time is of the essence. You are never notified that your message has been hijacked. You’re left to look at your coworkers and shrug as the people on the other end of the phone line wonder why you can’t even get an email sent. Or, you lose a week because a critical email didn’t make it to a recipient and you never got a notification that the message was eaten by the system because it was a suspected terrorist.
Lame Situation #2: A while back, I convinced my boss that it was time for him to move all his files to his new Powerbook and let his old laptop go. And I would help him with the process if he would let me use the old laptop for building the Mac-compatible version of our software. He did, and I suddenly had access to a laptop! Hooray!
Unfortunately, the laptop was buggy from day 1. Not the least of its problems were some really bright lines in the middle of the display which seemed to be caused by flexing of the screen which, through heavy use and traveling, had bent. I decided that the repair folks here at the university ought to take a look at it.
After weeks of having it in the shop, and ignoring the messages I left asking for a callback on the status of the machine. I decided I was going to have to investigat in person. When I got to the repair office, there were no fulltime people there. They’d left a student to deal with me.
He told me that they couldn’t fix the computer. I found it interesting that nobody could tell me that (they have my email address and phone number) so that I could have picked it up a week before.
The kicker, though, was when I got the machine back. It had had the cover on the screen pried back like someone had used a crowbar to get into it. There had been a ham-handed attempt to bend it back into shape, and when they had made an attempt to screw the screen back onto the hinges, they pinched one of the cables.
I used some shipping tape to keep the screen from popping apart (it did that a few times after I got it back to the office) and then the computer completely died a few months later.
So, if you’re feeling inadequate, here’s a quick way to feel better: read this post and think “well, I’ve never taken a crowbar to a PowerBook before!”
I thought the tacos came out quite good this weekend. They were very similar to No Problemo tacos. I was working completely from memory rather than bringing some home and analyzing them, so I’m convinced I’d be able to get closer if need be.
If Maggie and Julie come along soon, maybe they’ll chime in with their opinions (less biased, I should think).
Read on for the instructions.
Prepare the following marinade for about 2 lbs of meat. I used steak tips because they were a good deal this week. And they are delicious and easy to marinate and cook. But you can use flank steak or other cheap cuts because of the long marinating time.
Combine those and place in a container with the meat. I find a ziplock freezer bag works great for maximizing marinade contact.
Let it marinate for 4-6 hours but probably not more than 8.
There are a number of ways you could cook the meat, from broiling to pan frying. I chose to cook it outdoors over a grill with mesquite smoke (mesquite chips soaked and thrown in with the hot coals).
Once the tips were grilled to medium rare I diced the meat and tossed it into a saucepan on low. The meat needed salt and pepper at this point. The saucepan keeps the meat hot while I prepare the taco shells.
I heated up a 9-inch cast iron skillet to medium-hot. It was just a little bigger than the burrito-size flour tortillas I had bought. One tortilla goes into the cast iron skillet and 1/2-3/4 oz of shredded Monterey Jack cheese is sprinkled in a line down the center of the tortilla (bisecting it). As the cheese melts, the outside of the tortilla is toasting. Depending on the temperature of the skillet, this can happen quickly. You can check the progress of the tortilla’s toasting with a spatula. Light brown in spots is good. It will start to get stiffer, too.
Take your diced, cooked meat and quickly place a couple of ounces on top of the cheese.
Next, if you like black beans (and I do) spread a couple of tablespoons of black beans over the meat and cheese. See below for suggestions on preparing the black beans.
When that’s toasted, lift the skillet with a gloved hand and tilt it over a plate while you use a spatula to coax the taco to slide out. Careful, it’s hot!
Once in the plate, add a few tablespoons of pico de gallo (recipe below). Fold the tortilla in half.Wrap the bottom half of the folded tortilla in foil if you wish on getting even closer to No Problemo.
Pico De Gallo
This is a kind of a mild tomato, onion cilantro salsa or salad. Prepare it no later than 15 minutes before you want to use it, because it takes a little time for the flavors to marry. The longer in advance you prepare it the more it macerates. The liquid will come out of it and it will be a little less fresh. Aim for 15 minutes to an hour.
Combine all the ingredients. That’s it. No one will complain if you also throw in a tiny splash of tequila.
To prepare black beans for an additional delicious taco filling, try this:
Heat the oil and fry up the onion until translucent. Toss in the beans and the spices. Add a little water to keep it from drying out and to make it easy to stir. You don’t want soup, but you don’t want the beans to break up. This is easier to achieve than it is to describe.
Above all, enjoy!
Among the weekend’s planned projects were trying to mix up a Thirdmate, further testing the drinkability of Captain Morgan’s Tattoo, and a valiant attempt at recreating the No Problemo beef taco experience in the privacy of my own home.
For this PLUS more of Buster being menaced by a sheep, read on.
I threw together that animated gif of Buster in honor of the 8 episodes of Arrested Development Season 2 we watched last night. For others who have been watching the summer reruns of this excellent show, it looks as though there are two episodes left in the second season which have not been re-aired. “Sword of Destiny” (the episode with Tony Wonder) and “Righteous Brothers” (plumbing problems in the Bluth model home, and Tobias takes a liking to Kitty).
Still my favorite Arrested Development moment: In “The Immaculate Election” when Buster is discovered fooling around with the Roomba. “What do you expect, Mother… I’m half machine. I’M A MONSTER!!!!”
I’d never bought tequila before, and I needed something to cook with. So I aimed for the high middle and bought a bottle of Cuervo Especial. And at $15, Tattoo is cheap to try.
I’d sought the advice of experts on what a good drinking tequila would be. Patron Añejo (which may be cheaper elsewhere in the world) is going for an out-of-bounds $50+ here. If I decide I really like the stuff, perhaps I’ll look into the Tradicional. But, for now, I’ll experiment with the more reasonably-priced stuff.
A supermarket trip filled the pantry with other goods necessary to making Mexican delicacies.
Early in the day, the meat went into an excellent tequila-based marinade. I’ll provide recipes later. Just before dinner, I threw together a pico de gallo. Basically, it;s a salsa or salad which will go in the taco along with cheese, black beans and beef.
When Julie arrived it was time to light up the grill and grill the marinated steak tips over mesquite wood. This would definitely work for chicken as well. For you vegetarians, when you see the recipe in my next post you can just skip the meat entirely and still end up with a decent meal.
On To The Beverages
I’ll focus more on the food in the next post. But now… for the beverages.
* Three fingers of your favorite rum over ice and lime.
* Fill the rest of the glass with cream soda
We used Captain Morgan’s. The verdict? Drinkable. Extremely drinkable, in my humble opinion. I’m not a fan of cream soda, but I love both rum and lime. The sweetness of the soda was offset by the tart lime (we were liberal with the lime, using about half a fresh lime each in the first attempt.) We adjusted the rum and cream soda and found that it’s a natural.
Julie appeared to enjoy hers and I drank mine far too quickly. These are way oo easy to drink. Make sure you have lots of the ingredients on hand if you plan on serving these for more than two people.
Unfortunately, it was this point where I started to realize our refrigerator’s icemaker is no longer working. We had plenty of ice but the poor thing has just stopped making new stuff. And just when the ice started tasting decent!
Next stop, Cosmopolitans. Friday I’d had a chence to sample the much-vaunted Kelly Cosmo (cosmos mixed by Kelly at the local Not Your Average Joe’s). Kelly does mix a mean cosmo. And I think her Mojito is even better. I’m not sure what recipe she uses. We used the one I found on Webtender: Cosmopolitan #1.
A few shakes of a shaker later, we had a mixture of vodka, triple sec, lime juice, cranberry juice, and a drop or 2 of grenadine to adjust the color.
Verdict: Kelly’s cosmos are great, but this recipe does not steer you wrong. Meant to be drunk slowly, this recipe yeilded excellent results. Now, if only I had the correct glasses to serve this sucker. One of these days I’m going to have to find some cocktail glasses. Problem with this is, it just doesn’t look like a very masculine drink. It packs a punch, though, so take it seriously.
Third on the agenda as the Captain Morgan’s Tattoo. My inclination was to mix the stuff with Coke Zero. So we did.
Straight up I find Tattoo to be undrinkable. Subsequent tastes after my first were just a sub-par experience. However, in Coke Zero the stuff finds a home. I think it’s the closest I’ve tasted to “Cherry Coke Zero” yet. It convinced me to keep the bottle. In fact, it’s better in Coke than regular Captain Morgan is.
Karaoke and the Little Screen
Sufficiently lubricated, it was time for a little Karaoke Revolution 3. Maggie even joined in for a rendition of “California Dreamin’.” There was a second Thirdmate in there somewhere, and Julie experimented with Tattoo in it to generally positive effect while the kids repeatedly belted out “Joy to the World” and “Oops, I did it again.” If there was any question who Jeremia was, that question has been resolved. My kids need some practice, but they have incredible lung capacity.
As for the lot of us, we are not bad at singing. I can tell you right now that Julie knows a lot of these songs a lot better than I do. Even trying to find difficult challenges she was able to hit the right notes. Me — I’m challenged by “Under Pressure” on medium level. I guess I was never really listening to those lyrics like I thought I was.
Then came the Arrested Development Marathon. As a group, we made it through 6 episodes, with Julie and I bringing up the final 2.
I was tired, but wired from a couple of Coke Zeroes. I actually stayed up to watch that not-very-inspiring The Jacket. The acting was really good, the story was OK and for some reason I couldn’t really care. Maybe I’ve had enough of these psycho time travel stories. I don’t even really want to review it.
Stay tuned for more info on how the food came out.
Feel free to borrow my animated Buster icons.
We were lucky enough to spend a few days having Brian in town, which included a pool party and getting together for a movie like old times.
The movie was Batman Begins at the IMAX in Providence. It’s not cheap to see a movie on the super-big screen, but it certainly is spectacular.
Afterward we wandered around trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. We wanted dessert, but it was already past 9 and the lame mall closes at 9:30. We tried the Cheesecake Factory, but didn’t want to wait the 20 minutes for a table, especially since Chuck and Patty were facing a long drive north to get home on, as Chuck calls it “a school night.”
So we resorted to Borders Cafe where we were repeatedly reminded that the store was about to close in 15 minutes. There was zero chance to relax as it took the remaining time until closing just to order a drink or three, so we stood around cracking wise until they were ready to throw us out. The PA announced “We are really, really, really, really closed.” We got the message, but Brian couldn’t resist asking someone else seated nearby “Do you think they’re closed?”
On the drive back to Fall River we listened to Clapton and joked that there should definitely be a parody of “Clapton and Tenille.” After about 5 minutes of laughing about it, we were trying our hand (badly) at ideas for song parodies when Chuck, in the back seat, leaned forward and said “Wouldn’t it be funny if there were a parody of Captain and Tenille: Clapton and Tenille!?”
“You can’t hear us at all back there with the windows rolled down and the music turned up, can you, Chuck?”
“No, I can’t. Why do you ask?”
Well, Brian. Whether communications are clear or not, we’ll miss you. Thanks for the visit and travel safe!
Looks like my server here was unhappy for a while. Even more fun for me, because a good deal of my email goes through the same domain.
Not that I've had a lot of time to post here. I refuse to apologize because then you would all see me as weak and stage a mutiny.
Or am I thinking of the mirror universe again?
Amy informs me that a bit of a domain registrar snafu (caused by EA's old domain registrar) has made the address temporarily unavailable. She's trying to get a workaround for we addicted forum denizens, but she's waiting to hear back from the registrar.
You can check here and/or Amy's profile page on Epinions for more info as it develops.
Amy has a workaround:
EA Forums is having domain issues. While I argue with our former web host, you can find us by updating your hosts file to contain these two lines:
Directions on updating your hosts file
And yes I'm angry, in case you were wondering.
Driver's past not enough for drug test - Narcotics offenses plague man who struck professor (New Bedford Standard Times)
Behind the wheel sat a convicted drug dealer, who was arrested just days before on a charge of buying crack cocaine. [...]
Mr. Demoranville has a four-page rap sheet that includes arrests for driving to endanger, larceny and federal drug distribution charges.
He would still be in federal prison had he not cooperated with the U.S. Attorney's Office, according to court records.
A federal judge cut short Mr. Demoranville 12-year sentence after he gave prosecutors "substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of other persons," according to court records.
He was released on July 9, 2004, according to a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons.
I have nothing really coherent to say about this at the moment.
Really short on the links this week (and next week there will be no Shotgun). But here are a few to check out.
If you want any chance of understanding how our president thinks — hey, you might as well. We’re going down the toilet and you’re along for the ride — you must read this article on the Carpetbagger Report: What Rafael Palmeiro and intelligent-design creationism have in common
As Kevin Drum put it, “It’s like listening to a small child. He doesn’t want to believe it, so it isn’t true.” It’s annoying when he applies the standard to a baseball player, but it’s tragic when Bush applies this to everything.
How does someone get by on this planet with that sort of worldview? In case you didn’t catch it: evidence apparently carries no weight with George W. Bush. Faith trumps it, and not just religious faith. Faith as in “that’s just what I believe because I decided to.”
Here is the obit form the Boston Globe that Patti already mentioned earlier.
I think they got the shoes thing wrong. He often wore day-glo colored t-shirts and shorts. One shirt in particular was blaze orange. There was also this brown vest that he wore which was distinctly him.
For those interested, I will post here the message that went out over UMD Announce, which has details about the wake. Our Chancellor Jean MacCormack has been wonderful during this trying time.
Dear University Community:
On Saturday, the UMass Dartmouth community lost Professor James Kaput, our colleague and friend, in a tragic accident. According to police, Jim was struck by a pick-up truck while jogging near his home on Chase Road in Dartmouth. Our thoughts are with his wife, Susan, and his three children.
Jim was a mentor and friend to his faculty colleagues, an inspiration to his students, a devoted husband and father, and a public servant in the best sense of the word. Jim’s passing leaves us all with a deep personal void and challenges us all to keep alive his important work of making mathematics more accessible to people, especially young people.
We take solace in the truth that Jim’s work has opened new educational doors for thousands of people around the world. Through the students and teachers already touched by Jim’s ideas, his work will continue to spread intellectual opportunity. We also know that Jim’s colleagues in the Mathematics Department will carry on his noble mission with exemplary passion and persistence.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Waring-Sullivan Home of Memorial Tribute at Dartmouth, 230 Russells Mills Road, Dartmouth. Visiting hours are Wednesday, August 3, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A private family service will be held Thursday in Shutesbury, Massachusetts.
Tragedies such as this create difficult challenges for friends, colleagues, and students. Our University Counseling Center staff is available to help friends, colleagues, and students deal with the difficult challenges such tragedies present. The Center, located in the Auditorium Annex above the Admissions Office, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached by calling 508-999-8650.
Jean F. MacCormack
Man plans and god laughs, or whatever it is that they say.
The world is pretty much topsy-turvy at the moment, usual readers will have figured out. If today is any indication, it will take some time to absorb recent events. To keep you, my loyal blog readers, informed, I will try to remain a diligent blog author in some way, shape or form. But the light posting schedule is now going to (most probably) extend to around the middle of August.
If you suddenly see a bunch of posts appearing here, just figure that I needed this forum as an outlet and a distraction in a difficult time. Anchors are important.