Saturday, November 29, 2008

Latest Task at Work

Another thing I like about my job is that it never fails to give me interesting work. Such as unraveling poorly documented Code, and making it work properly.

To look upon some of these T-SQL stored procedures is to invite madness, but it is job security.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'd count my blessings, but sometimes, I'm not sure that numbers go that high. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

And now, because I don't think it's gotten less amusing since last year, here's James Lilek's Thanksgiving Dinner For Under $10.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Random Economy Thought

Remember all those Web site ads for Here's a New York Times article about them. Read the last quote on the second page:

Mr. Coffin was not apologetic about his company’s methods. “One thing we will probably expand to the nth degree are the dancing silhouette ads,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to double down on a proven winner.”
Barring any jokes about his name, what ever happened to those ads? You know, the ones that drove people to your business? The business of handing out mortgages to anyone on the internet?

Haven't seen those around lately... you guys taking your advertising in a different direction? ...I'm sure there's still plenty of places to advertise on... You guys aren't going through hard times or anything, are you...?

Oh, right, sub-prime meltdown. Yeah, I guess the advertising department would get cut first.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spasm Laughter Cause of Website Computer!

Many spider summon determined to global funny. With us discovered sooner! Engrish Funny holds jay pegs also movie bad transration in package print wrong and gesture spell wrong. Few are don't seize gentle custom of America, even more are the fate of some ideas, even more are not understanding. I book read my laughs until laughs runs out of eye water lower face! Mark it away.

There's a lot of web pages dedicated to Internet Humor. Here's one I found recently. Engrish Funny has pictures and videos of poor translations on packaging and signage. Some of these fail to grab the subtle cultural nuances of America, others are unfortunately suggestive, others are just incomprehensible. I literally laughed until I cried. Check it out.

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Chili Showdown

At work, one of the supervisors organized a contest to see who could make the best Chili, with prizes for Overall Best Taste, Hottest, and just because, Best Name.

The Ground Rules:
  • Only employees may provide an entry; no one's allowed to go home and say, "Honey, we're having a contest tomorrow, could you make a batch of your chili for me?" Because some people would do just that. If you can't cook it, then don't bring it in.
  • Judging is done anonymously, by ballot cast by the other departments.
  • When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the Showdown is over.
  • If this is your first night at the Chili Showdown, you have to fight.
Whoops, I think I got a little Fight Club in there. Sorry.

Anyway, I had called the week before to get my Dad's Chili recipe so as to not bumble into this without a clue; the respect and admiration of my coworkers is at stake! There were a total of six contenders, each with a fairly unique chili. I've always been surprised that the same general idea of a stew with beef, beans, and tomatoes can vary so drastically across so many people.

One contender used too many tomatoes, and it turned out like a meaty pasta sauce with some chili powder. Another was OK, but a the consistency was a little too watery. Another entry was kinda mediocre; nothing bad in particular, but failed to make a lasting impression. What baffled me was that about half of the entries did not have any cumin in them, at least not that I could taste.

People, let's make this clear: If you don't have cumin in it. don't call it chili. Call it bean soup with beef, call it southwestern stew, whatever. But. It's. Not. Chili. Without. Cumin. That is all.

The top three were my chili, the second a spicy meaty entry, with chunks of chuck roast stewed in (named "Vegan's Nightmare"), the last decided defy the usual seasoning mix and added cinnamon and cocoa powder to the mix which made for kind of a sweet flavor. I didn't much care for it, but a lot of other people loved it, so what do I know?

Anyway, the organizer didn't want any one entrant to win in multiple categories (I got the rankings from him after wards) and even though he submitted a chili, he's too much of a class act to give himself a prize in his own contest. Because vegan's nightmare took the "Hottest" Category, I took best name, and the cinnamon/cocoa chili was his own, the prize went to the mediocre chili. I guess people don't like watery chili or tomato sauce with beans masquerading as chili.

So, without further ado, here's my chili, complete with winning name:

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir

Measurements are approximate; the best cooking does not submit itself to metrics!

2 cans (15oz each) of Red Kidney Beans (do not drain)
2 cans (15oz each) of Pinto Beans (do not drain)
1 can (15oz) of Black Beans (yeah, go ahead and drain/rinse these ones)
1 lg. can (29oz) tomato puree
1 lg. can (29oz) diced tomatoes
8 oz beer (you can use 12 oz, but a portion of it seems to [burp] disappear in my kitchen)
1 med-large onion, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1.5 - 2 lbs ground beef
2 - 3 tbsp chili powder
1 - 2 tbsp cumin (srsly. Not chili without it!)

1) Sweat onion and green pepper with some oil in a 5qt pot until tender.
2) Brown the ground beef
3) Add tomatoes, beer, and beans. simmer for an hour
4) add seasonings, simmer for another hour
5) Om nom nom nom nom...

Final Notes: Dad's original recipe didn't call for beer, but another 29 oz of crushed tomatoes. Space limitations in my cookware caused me improvise (here's an Christmas gift idea for the folks: 6qt or greater capacity soup pot.)

This is even better when served over some Fritos and topped with Cheddar Cheese.

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir is the lugubrious cure for Melancholy, the Grippe, out of balance humors, nervousness, and hysteria. It also packs enough flavinoids and cytoroids to take the lethargy out of the most slothful person and give him enough energy to jitterbug all through the night. Why delay? Get yours today! Hurry, before they're all gone away!!

Dr. Studlington's Stewed Chili Soup and Health Elixir may not cure one or more of the afflictions listed above. Side effects may include rapid weight loss, rapid weight gain, unusual hair growth or loss, numbness in the extremities, cancer of the breast, prostate, or pancreas, growth of a tail, cancer of the tail, moodswings, sudden sexual attraction to the same gender, or a different gender of a different species, hallucination, or dry mouth. Do not take if you are nursing, pregnant, may become pregnant, might cause someone to become pregnant, often flip through baby name books, have any thought remotely involving babies, or have had at least one parent that had ever been pregnant. Use as directed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The New Redneck

Friday night, I sat in a bar stool between a Mine Worker from Mexico and our Right of Way Engineer as they conversed in Spanish.

A few minutes later, the Engineer decided to show off a little of his Japanese Language Skills. One of the locals who was sitting on his other side responds, and these two maintain a conversation in reasonably fluent Japanese for the next hour. At a redneck bar in a backwater country town of less than 1500 people.

Make no mistake, we've got plenty of Rednecks, Cowboys, and White Trash up here. But if you write us all of as uncultured, uneducated, inbred, hicks that can barley write our own names, we'd like you to know that you're sadly mistaken, and we'll probably tell you so in a language that you don't understand.

Viva Wyoming!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Opportunity DOES NOT come from Nigeria via Email!

It's for the best, really. People this stupid are less of a danger to the rest of society once their money is taken from them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winter is Coming...

No, I'm not referring to the local climate, but the news that George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has just been greenlit for an HBO miniseries.

I've may have mentioned, if not on this blog then face to face, that I don't have TV service right now, and don't really feel a need or desire for it. Once we get an air date for this, I'm calling up DirecTV for the lowest package that includes HBO.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time for an Upgrade

Last year, I purchased a low-end Laptop computer because I didn't want to drag my old Dell across the country when I had plans to replace it as soon as possible anyway. This little laptop was meant to be sort of a transitional machine; meant only to fill in the gap between the Move and the time when I would get a new high end desk top to run all of my important applications.

It's been a year since then, and I'm still using the laptop, as it fulfills my need for the intarwebs, and I've purchased a PS3 and a PS2 to run my critical software. So I've been putting off the purchase of the Super Box for a while now. But one of my best friends decided he needed some more cohorts on his favorite MMORPGs, and he gave to me an extra copy that he had, with the hopes I'd install it and play it. Sadly, this laptop has no graphics acceleration, which means everything I'd try to run on it would go into slide show mode. A lot of machines are fast enough to use use the system RAM to run older games, but because this was meant to be a temporary machine (and because I hadn't yet loosened the fiscal restrictions of my previous job) I had purchased a Windows Vista machine with only 1GB RAM. enough to run the OS and a few apps (Browser, Instant Messenger, Email, Music Player, etc.) but didn't have enough to spare otherwise.

So now, I'm looking to cash out my New-Computer-Slush-Fund that's been slowly accumulating for most of this year so I can finally play this MMORPG, World of something or other. I dunno, all the kids are talking about it, and I think some kinda new add on was released just today; something about a Monarch and his Angry Lichen, or some nonsense.

Anyhow, this will be the first mid-to-high end computer I've purchased since I blew all of my High School Graduation Money on an IBM Aptiva with 64MB RAM, and 450MHz of blazing speed. (Remember, that was respectable in the Summer of 1999.) Now, with the advice of Co-workers who build machines for family and friends as a source of supplemental income, I'm looking to spend between one and two grand on a machine that will still play the latest games run my life enhancement applications with little performance slowdown within the next 2-3 years. I've been told I can have such a machine for under $1,000, (search around on Newegg) but I'll also need to buy a monitor as well (a big reason why the old Dell didn't make the move is because I didn't want to lug that HUUUGE Cathode Ray Tube with me).

So, I'm open to suggestions, with these two caveats:
  1. Tiffany, Tom, you can keep your damned Kool-Aid, I'm not joining the Mac Panthers.
  2. If you're about to recommend that I build my own, then you should read this first.
Give me your wisdom, oh vast Hive Mind of the 'Tubes!

UPDATE: I usually don't like deleting people comments, but when they are posted with BLATANT DISREGARD with the only two caveats I listed in this post, I terminate with extreame Prejudice. Try again, Laedelas.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Week Warning

On November 18th, my old Verizon phone will no longer be in service, nor will that phone number.

About two months ago, I sent most of the people who would read this a text message with my new phone number. If you haven't received that number, it's 307-747-xxxx, where xxxx is the last four digits of my old number. If you don't know what that is, than I never gave you my phone number in the first place, and sure as hell won't give it to you now.

One more telecommunications fact: The laws for local number portability state that if you want to port from Company A into Company B's network, then Company B's service area must include the Area Code into which you are porting from, or the FCC won't allow it. So, if the company I'm porting to doesn't have a tower in the Pittsburgh Area (and they don't), I have to get a new phone number.

But, if I ever leave Company B and return to Company A or even Company C, their service area includes where I am now (even if it is a stretch), and can port this number back to A or C.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hooray for Paid Hollidays!

November 11th is Veteran's day!

Hooray for days off in the middle of the week! I kinda needed this one, as my Labor Day weekend wasn't exactly relaxing with the Scone Sale and all. And two weeks there after, is Thanksgiving. But sadly we don't get Black Friday off as well.

FUN FACT: I first thought that this was because my employers or its HR department didn't believe in in four-day weekends, but I learned that the truth is, the FCC doesn't believe in them, at least not if you're a utility company. I think we really need to consider abandoning the Land Line business, dig up the copper wire for scrap, and just push our wireless service. It'll probably happen eventually, but not in my lifetime. Heck, Western Union didn't officially shutdown their telegram business until January 31st, 2006!

And now you know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Level Completion We Can Believe In!

What will the world be like in a Barack Obama Presidency?

Hopefully, this much fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"..shouldn't Fuzzy have been back by now?"

Oh, right, I promised Pictures. I didn't get to bring out the Camera as much as I would have liked, but that's OK, because aside from the obligatory wedding pictures, I didn't take many. I was never a real shutterbug, but I try to make the few I take good ones.

Anyway, after I got off the plane at Pittsburgh International Airport, me and the guys took care of a major prority on my Itenerary:

Primanti Brothers
Primanti Bros. Lunch: Check. Moving on...

Friday, I spent the morning with the Grandparents before I got a second fitting on my tux, picked up a wedding gift, and attended the rehearsal dinner at the China Garden in Dormont.

Saturday: Ding, Dong, the bells are gonna chime; we made sure Matt got the to church on time. Being the good buddy, I told him that in the 3rd pew from the back on the left side, I stashed my car keys for him in case he had second thoughts. Under the passenger side seat, there was a plane ticket to Mexico and $500 cash. We look out for each other like that. Fortunately, he went through with it:

Matt & Jamie Horvat - October 25th, 2008 A.D.

The next day, headed to church, and went to the Melting Pot for lunch.

The Gang at the Melting Pot

Fondue is best with four to ten people, as it tends to be an especially social meal.
And then after a short D&D session for old times sake, I returned to the folk's house, crashed, and got on the plane the next day.

Overall, a successful trip, although I didn't get to see the parents nearly as much as I would have liked to. I'll be sure to adjust my next trip home heavily in their favor next time.