Sunday, April 26, 2009

Condimental Divide

Ketchup vs. Fry Sauce
Ketchup vs. Fry Sauce, originally uploaded by Jack Black's Stunt Double.

My first month in Wyoming, me and some coworkers were eating lunch and someone was dipping his fries into a pinkish sludge. I asked him what it was, and he replied "It's Fry Sauce".

My initial thought was to say "Oh, we had that back in Pittsburgh, but it was redder, and we called it 'ketchup'." but instead I asked him if it was any good, and he gave me a taste.

I was underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, but it was no alternitive to ketchup. I might be biased, because the Heinz factory is in Pittsburgh, but when I want sauce on my fries, I reach for the red stuff. Anyway, I was in Ogden, UT on a pleasure trip and on the way home, I decided to stop into one of those Arctic Circle restaurants that the Utah natives keep taking about.

Arctic Circle is pretty much like a Dairy Queen Brazier store. Like DQ, they have burgers that are better than those of most fast food places. Unlike DQ, these guys claim to have invented Fry Sauce. Admittedly, the stuff in Arctic Circle did taste a lot better than the little condiment tubs from the Grocery Store Deli, but again, the greatest strike against it is that it dilutes perfectly good ketchup with Mayo.

I think it's one of those Utah things that just can't get any traction outside of the West. I've never heard of this stuff until I moved out to Wyoming, and I think if I asked for it in any restaurant back home, the staff would just give a confused look (I'll have to try that next time I'm home).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Drug Tests Won't be the Same Around Here

Nancy Braden moved up here from Michigan a long time ago seeking work, and took a job as an English Teacher. She later became the local librarian and then the admin assistant in our HR Department. Several of the long time staff that grew up around here remember her from her previous jobs when they went to high school.

I would chat with her from time to time outside while she and some of the accountants had a smoke break. She always sounded cheerful, like she always had life in a proper perspective. She even used some casual sarcasm to lighten the mood whenever she went around the office to inform people that they've been selected for our random monthly drug screening.

Last week we found out that we shared a common view on Tax Deadlines: Why get ahead of the game when you can wait until the last minute? We both have better things to do! She was definitely my favorite person in that department.

So it came as a shock to everyone when HR sent out an announcement that she passed away at her home on Thursday night. Thanks for all the laughs, Nancy. Whenever I have to urinate into a cup, I'll think of you! Umm... but in a respectful and tasteful way. ;-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Be a Dick

So I've been playing more Acquire at GameTable Online, and it gave me yet another reminder of why I haven't bothered to pickup World of Warcraft, or any other MMORPGs. The guys behind Penny Arcade illustrate it better than I could describe it.

My sister keeps telling me that you can shut off the global chat, so you can only communicate with those on your friend list, or channel, or whatever, but something about the action of joining a game with the world, and then shutting out the world just seems counter-intuitive. If I'm going to play a game with only a handful of friends, I'd rather do that Face-to-Face. In fact, I'm taking three days off from work, and flying 1400 miles to do this with total strangers! (Yes, another Origins plug, but I'm excited. Sorry.)

The worst part is how they drag you down into their petty quest to inform you what and idiot you are to you and everyone who will listen. In most other situations, you'd be the better person, give in, or just walk away with a feeling of pity for the idiot. But again, webcomics describe it better:

image courtesy of (xkcd) (permalink)

True, these jackasses also pop up face to face at times, but far less. In addition, they are shunned by others who would rather play games face to face, and not have to deal with their bullshit, and often even their own friends disavow them out of embarrassment. Remember: It's easier to be an asshole to words than people.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beatings from the World of Tomorrow!

In Terminator, Skynet sent an android back in time to kill the mother of the Human resistance faction. Did you ever wonder what would happen, if the Humans had been able to send a squadron of guys to destroy the time travel device before Mecha-Schwarzenegger went through the portal?

I've recently read through Rant by Chuck Palanhiuk, which also explores questions of the Grandfather Paradox. It provides a different theory altogether, rather than the usual destroy the universe or cause a second parallel universe to come into existence.

I mention this all because I've just discovered Achron, a yet to be released Real Time Strategy game that allows you to send units back into time, or even forward in time at certain intervals. Want to prevent an nasty attack on your base of operations? go back 60 seconds and shore up your defenses. While it's not the first game to feature manipulation of time, I think it's the first one to allow you to to make sweeping and dramatic changes. Check out the video below, and go to Achron's own website to see more. I'm not sure how it's all going to work, and I can't even wrap my head around all the combat possibilities, but it's nice to see someone trying something new.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grubbin' With Fuzzy - Quiche

A logistical miscalculation regarding a breakfast potluck at the workplace left me with over a dozen raw eggs, in addition to the dozen I had recently purchased for my own groceries. Looking for recipes that uses several eggs, I decided to make Quiche.

Alton Brown renames his quiche as "Refrigerator Pie", in order to get people around the loss of Man Points associated with consumption of the dish. Being the secure kind of guy I am, I rolled up my sleeves, turned up my upper lip in tough looking sneer... and made pie crust.

The pie crust wasn't as difficult or time consuming as I thought it would be, but I had to use all butter for lack of shortening (I don't bake enough to justify buying it) and had to substitute an old glass soft drink bottle for a rolling pin, which worked surprisingly well. Not having made pie crust before, I was a little worried that the baked crust contracted back into the pie pan leaving the crust a little more shallow than I expected, but I think I successfully patched it up with another ring of dough around the edge.

Now for the filling: 5 eggs and one cup of milk for the custard, and some chopped spinach, cheddar cheese, and left over chicken pieces for the fun stuff. About a half hour and 375 degrees later, I had emasculation pie quiche.

Verdict: Turned out pretty well. I'll try it again sometime, maybe using the traditional Quiche Lorraine ingredients. As for the old addage "Real men don't eat quiche,"I think that I'll let Joel Veitch from Rather Good handle that one: Man Quiche.

Warning: Do not wander around on alone. It contains several affronts to one's good taste, and will assault your values. Then again, I would like to get my hands on some of that HoverBacon...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vampire Turkeys?

Born on Thanksgiving Day in 1865, Dr. Plymouth Van Helsing has made it his life's work to erradicate meanace of Transylvanian Poultry.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

False Positive

Today we learned that several emails and resumes for positions like "Training Specialist" and "Marketing and Statistics Specialist" were getting caught in our spam filter. Can you guess why?

Marketing and Statistics Specialist... maybe they only have experience marketing a different product that does fit in with our business plan. Or maybe their domain was black listed. Another posisbility: maybe there's an undocumented feature* that weeds out bad candidates that have resumes that were poorly worded or unreadable.

Training Specialist

Could maybe the attachment had a worm or something, and the filter caught it. We had that problem before, and it was several months before we could get it all sorted out. Maybe the vendor for our spam-filter isn't an Equal Opportunity Employer, and it was filtering out Women, Blacks, Hispanics, and Handicapped people. Or maybe, it's something most of us would overlook...

Marketing and Statistics Specialist

Did you see it? look again, closely.

Training Specialist.

I LOLed when I heard about this. This is why you need to fine tune your software.

*For those unfamilliar with IT jokes, an "undocumented feature" is a programmer code phrase for "bug that we're trying to pass off as intentional so we don't have to fix it or admit we screwed up."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fantasy Help Desk Support

Here's the situation. We had a controlled outage today of our ISP service today that lasted longer than we thought it would. Most customers are understanding about this, if a little frustrated. Other customers, like Barbara Westin (name changed to protect the obnoxious), not so much.

We suspect that Barbara relishes these outages so she can talk down, curse, and belittle our ISP Support Staff. She suspects that our help desk team habitually sever a cable, dump coffee on a switch, or power down servers in order to justify their jobs.

Durring her second call of the outage, we offered to put her on the phone with our director, who voluneteered to speak with her if she got too abusive. This provoked the sardonic response "Will THAT get my internet back up faster?!?"

"Yes, m'am! You see, on a wall in the Director's Office, there is a large throw switch. That switch is labled 'Barbara Westin's Internet Connection'. Right now, it's in the Off position. We do that from time to time becuase it gets lonely here and wE JuSt LoVe to talk to a woman of your charms, so we need to give you a reason to pick up the phone! My director would be ever so happy to turn it back on for you, but I'm the only one that has the power to transfer you right now. So my question is, what could you say, do, or offer to me that would make it worth my while?"

Thankfully, we handled it better than that. But the odd thing was that about an hour after it wend back on, she called again to complain, not realizing she was back online. This strengthens my theory that she is one of those people who value the act of complaining more than having stuff that works, and thereby leaving her no reason to whine about it.

BONUS IRONY: She does tech support from home for a larger service provider, so one would think she might think better of abusing the staff that are powerless to do anything about it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Securing Information at Work

Here's a protip for anyone looking to tighten up document security at the workplace.

If your screen saver at work is a slide show of pictures you took, be sure that only photographs are in that folder, and that the screen saver isn't also pointing to folders full of purchase orders, performance reviews, and reimbursement requests. Otherwise, they will show up on your screen when the screen saver kicks on.

And before you ask, NO, it wasn't me.