Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quote of the day

"And one thing I have learned is where craisins are, the joy of the Lord will come soon after."


Blood oranges are the improbability drive of the kitchen.

No matter how awesome "blackberry and blood orange tarts" sound, the blood orange portion is not recommended. They develop a Whang when baked: not so much nasty as, well, bizarre. Improbable, even.


A little thing, this new jar of cinnamon, but it's amazing. So potent, so sweet, so spicy, so holiday-ish. It even has an impressive name: "Spice Islands" Ground Saigon Cinnamon (100% organic, certified). Doesn't it sound exotic and tropical? And monkey-bread made with it makes your house smell just like Cinnabon. Yummm!

It's good stuff, in other words. :-)

I wonder if the forests where cinnamon-bark-growing trees come from smell like cinnamon.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What I've been up to

So: we beat the February 1 deadline at work. We (especially Tech) jollied the server into hanging in there, and even got to use the queues again. We all, but especially my team, had been working overtime like crazy people (especially John Who Attends Conferences), and so when we hit the requisite number of claims about Tuesday noon, the energy level at large sort of deflated, whoomf. It's been a very long week since then.

In other news, I've been getting Officially and Properly Hired, and am no longer a lowly temp worker. Not that anyone said so; but thus it was. Less easily got rid of was the insurance from the temp agency, which in a brilliant burst of irony called the very afternoon I'd signed up for the new insurance, and said actually there was a glitch and it isn't my fault but I wasn't signed up for 2009 after all, and did I want to? Well, probably. So I've had to be firm but very charming with two insurances.

It occurs to me that I haven't introduced the characters at work. We have them. John the Conference-Goer is called so to distinguish him from the other Johns in my work life, especially John My Supervisor and John Boatwrong. John the Conference-Goer started the same time I did, and before a meeting we got to talking.

"Have you been to the aquarium in Baltimore?" he asked. I hadn't. Had he? "Well--I hear it's really good, and I've been to it, but I haven't gone in." Why not? "I was just back from a... Conference. And I'd spent all my money on... Goods."

"What Conference?" I asked, innocently. I really was innocent.
"Arcfhmmf," he mumbled.
He looked around sheepishly. The room was full of people pretending not to be listening.
"It's an anime conference..."

That's the kind of Goods he'd spent his money on! But he's a good enough sort; friendly; I shared my Christmas cookies with him, and today he offered me his extra egg roll.

He's been working maximum overtime, which is 7 am to 10 pm. That's not civilized. I asked what he's going to do, now the deadline's over. He looked pensive and replied, "Take kung-fu." Apparently he's already signed up.

He likes to wander up to my desk while I'm working.

"What's up?"
"Not much."
Another pause.

Usually at this point, one of us will offer a topic, such as fish or movies, and we will actually start conversing. I find this process entertaining. He likes fish, especially in tanks, but eats sushi. I don't ask.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


"It is the decided opinion of all who use their brains, that all men desire to be happy."

"Being attached to him, or rather let me say, re-attached--for we had detached ourselves and lost hold of Him--being, I say, re-attached to Him, we tend toward Him by love, that we may rest in Him, and find our blessedness by attaining that end."

"For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God."

--Augustine of Hippo, City of God, excerpts from Book X, 1-3. You've got to love Augustine, especially when he's cheerfully co-opting Platonism for Christianity!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A melancholic server

"A server crashed at a big law firm downtown and ended the world as they know it." --Mrs. Smith

The server of my big law firm downtown has developed something of the melancholic, not to say obstreperous, temperament. It becomes burdened with self-doubt around 3:00. This becomes particularly evident to those who finish a claim, go to the queue, and request another claim.

The server finds itself forced to make a decision. It freezes. "Maybe I should give you this one. No, that one. No, that one. Oh no! Someone else wants another claim too! AHHHHH!" And the patient reviewer sits and waits, and gets timeout messages and unhandled exception messages and "You have been chosen as the deadlock victim" messages, and has time to write short stories about deadlocks and victims while the server second-guesses itself, and eventually restarts her computer in an attempt to jolly the server into thinking she didn't really mean it.

Julie, my project leader, is keenly, even painfully, aware of the server's shortcomings. So she's trying to work with it. She has a spreadsheet of all the claims that need to be dealt with, and she doles them out as we go. This has helped keep the server from having to make queue decisions, but now it isn't sure it can even work up the strength of soul necessary to save our work. We ask, and it sits and contemplates something, probably its own impending doom. The reviewer is reminded of the strange Renaissance habit of painting decorative young persons meditating on skulls as a memento mori, a reminder of death. Hamlet's random conversation to Yorick's skull comes smack out of that tradition, and isn't quite as random as it looks.

My theory is that the server gets an afternoon low in its blood sugar, and needs a snack. I find reviewers do. Either that, or the tech-gnomes need an afternoon snack and get a bit nibbly in the gigabytes. Meanwhile, our January 31 deadline is getting loomier and loomier. We all hope Julie doesn't have a stroke, or a conniption, or a fit of insanity, or whatever project leaders do get, brought on by a melancholic server.

Quote of the day

"And I don't think he's developed much of an idea of my constitutional reasoning, because of yet the only words I have said in his class, and I quote, are 'Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripped.'" --Jonathan

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A name for a pizza

Every once in a while, we feel the need for a pizza. It's a natural, human desire, I think. So we generally get carry-out from our closest little Pizza Hut. They're quite nice and all, but they do have a terrible time with our name.

The first time we went--not long after we moved here--I explained to the girl what our name was. "With a B," I said. We picked up the order for "Vail." Ah, well.

Next time we went, I explained our name again. They earnestly wrote it down, and they found our pizza under the name "Bates."

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I called in our order. I gave my name and phone number, and the guy took forever to enter it in, as they just got new software. (I feel his pain.) But he repeated my name back correctly, and even said, "Oh! With a B!" So I was reasonably confident.

I got there--a bit later, because in one of Richmond's less charming traits, during rush hour they randomly put up "No left turn" signs at intersections, and haply the intersection I wanted was one of them so I had to go up and turn around--but I got there.

This time the ticket was for "Cales."