mytopleft

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, and keep coming by; Update!

I just wanted to thank all of you for a wonderful year at Eff You, and I hope you'll keep coming by in 2014. We lost a blogging friend at Romeo Alpha Foxtrot, but I seem to have gained many new readers, so the year had its ups and downs. I wish all of you the best in 2014.


Stay safe, if you drink too much tonight, sleep where you are or take a cab, and if you can't do that, live by my motto: for God's sake, don't get caught.

Update: Just to avoid confusion, Romeo Alpha Foxtrot, who commented on this post, is not dead. His blog is, though, and the site is gone, along with all it's cool pictures and commentary. I didn't mean to make it sound like he was no longer among the quick, but I did mean to convey that I miss his blog.

Jon Bon Jovi, spokesman of a generation?

Thought I might do an open discussion thread -- just post a comment. The topic for discussion tonight: Jon Bon Jovi -- American Poet, or Scourge of the '80s and the '90s. Discuss.


Get ready for your New Year's Day traditional food porn!

Naturally, you took my advice and bought a bag of black-eyed peas, right? If so, you can participate in real time. First, get out that bag of dried peas:


Pour the peas into a suitably large soup pot (a big saucepan will do) and cover with at least an inch of water:


Put the cover on that sucker and go to work. We're not doing anything with this until they've soaked at least 24 hours. Tomorrow, we turn them into New Year's traditional goodness.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Most triumphant division-champion game food porn

Yeah, Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb came back from injuries just in time to put the Bears in their place. Game food doesn't taste much better than when you get to eat it while watching a 4th-and-8 touchdown pass for 48 yards with only 38 seconds left in the game.

Anyway, because it was a 4:30 game, once again game food was also dinner. So we had a vegetable tray to keep people from accusing me of meat bias:


Naturally, we had potato skins, which in my opinion contain all the vegetables anyone could ask for:


And we had onion straws with sauce:


Later, when Cpl. Wolves got home from work and the game was entering the 4th quarter, we had brats and baked beans:


Oh, so good. And, of course, with 38 seconds left in the game, on fourth down and eight, we had Randall Cobb catch a 48-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to deliver the win over the Bears, dealing them the defeat they knew was coming:


Next week: playoff game food porn against the 49ers. Can't wait.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last reminder

Did you get your dried black-eyed peas yet? You will need to start soaking them no later than New Year's Eve morning to participate in the live New Year's Day food porn. We won't be quite real time, as I won't be doing a web cam, but the post for this very Southern traditional New Year's Day food porn will be up in the morning Jan. 1, and you will be able to join the tradition that day. So get your beeps!

Market rejection for liberal talk radio

It would appear that even in big-time liberal cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, leftist talk radio is a failure:
2014 will mark the beginning of a massive change for liberal talk radio across the country. In New York, WWRL 1600 AM will flip to Spanish-language music and talk, throwing Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and Alan Colmes off the air. In Los Angeles, KTLK 1150 will be dumping Stephanie Miller, Rhodes, Bill Press and David Cruz off the air in favor of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. In San Francisco, KNEW 960 will leave Miller, Hartmann, and Mike Malloy without a radio home in the market.
 All those lefties leaving the air in those big markets means that libs in those places will have to rely on NPR for their daily fix of left-wing horseshit. Fortunately for them, NPR doesn't have to worry about market forces to stay on the air, as taxpayers subsidize them. Interesting to see what happens to liberal talk radio without taxpayer subsidies. Not only do they get the boot, but in LA they're being replaced by conservatives.

Just a traffic post

The Thanksgiving-Christmas season normally is not a good one for blog traffic -- people have better thinks to do -- and this year has been no exception. On the other hand, while I have only two other Decembers in my blog history for comparison, this one has been the best one yet, with a couple days still to go, and it isn't even close. So, thanks for coming by. I'll try to make it worth your while.

You will take unpaid time off and you will enjoy it, dammit

As projects go, this one is pretty good. We don't get a lot of meaningful interference from the firm -- there is a good argument to be made that the law firm and, apparently, the client don't really care much what we do -- the administrative horseshit is kept to a minimum, and, in general, the hours are good. Of course, there are downsides. The firm's project manager is a Jeckyl-and-Hyde combination of Capt. Queeg and Larry the Lounge Lizard. But manager personalities are something you have to live with and if he had better people skills or was a better manager, he wouldn't be here anyway, so there's that. The agency for which we are working is doing its best to take away everything it possibly can except for what the law requires, but that isn't unexpected or uncommon in the tough times the industry has been going through for the last five years. And since things are only getting worse in this industry, we can look forward to even more of these cost-cutting measures. So even in light of all that, warts and all, this project might not be the best one ever, but it beats the alternative, which is what too many temps are suffering through these days. (Unemployment, people.)

Having said all that, this is a tough time of year on most temp projects. The Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's holiday run might be a joyous time in most ways for most people, but for temps it is often nothing more than a serious cut in income. When the holidays fall in the middle of the week, as they do this year, it is especially bad. The firm that manages this project has really pounded us on holiday hours. Because firm employees get paid for holidays even if they don't work, the firm doesn't really think much about shutting us down for the holiday and the day before, whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's. Even the firm's hourly employees get paid for the holiday, so by and large they appreciate the extra day off to celebrate the holidays.

For temps, it's a little different. We lose two days' pay and with it the chance to make any overtime, which is the only way this business is worth it. When that happens for three weeks out of the last five or six weeks in the year, it gets a little punishing. This is the first project I've ever been on when the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve have been no-work situations. Those days are often sparsely attended, but you can tell who has a spouse with a good job and who does not based on who shows up.

Anyway, this week has been an interesting one at work, as attendance has been minimal. Most folks, I guess, decided to go somewhere for Christmas, or at least most of the week. I know some people worked Monday so they could take a sick day Thursday and/or Friday, thus circumventing company policy on sick days. In response to people taking sick days during weeks when they didn't actually work (vacation or whatever) the agency banned the practice, since the sick days the law in D.C. requires the agency to give aren't supposed to be just paid time off. The agency further restricted the use of sick days by instituting a policy that sick days could only bring your hours up to 40 -- if you worked more than 40 hours in a week, no sick day. Since we work 60 hours a week (or, at least, we can) the people who go for max overtime basically can't take sick days unless they also reduce their hours the other days so that their total with the sick day is only 40 for the week. It is a perverse incentive and no one in their right mind would forgo overtime just to take a sick day at straight time.

With holiday weeks like this, though, all bets are off. Once you can't hit 40 hours, if you have sick time accrued, there is no reason not to take it. Hell, it's the only time you can and not pay a penalty. So people are taking it. If you work 60 hours a week, you accrue a lot of sick time. Since this is the only time you can take it without penalty, there ain't nobody at work. Doubt there will be next week, either. And since the D.C. government just eliminated the part of the law that says an employee must be on the job a year before sick leave starts accruing -- it now accrues from day one -- you can bet there will be even fewer people at work next Christmas and New Year's weeks. Hell, the only reason I'm there is because I got slammed by the year-on-the-job requirement, as I only started in January.

Of course, by this time next year, I'm sure the agency will have figured out a way to fuck us out of this last remaining benefit, too. It will be interesting to see how they get around the law. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, kids!

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year's Day food porn preparation for readers

Just as a warning, you need to pick up a bag of dried black-eyed peas this weekend so you can participate in New Year's Day food porn in real time. Those suckers need to soak overnight, up to 24 hours if possible. So get ready if you want to participate in this long-standing Southern tradition.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Oh, dear God, is he making another pie?

Oh, hell yeah! Told you, Mrs. Wolves wants the chocolate pie of her childhood. As her mother no longer is around to help with this, I am test-driving recipe after recipe to find the elusive perfect chocolate pie. The good part? Ain't no damn thing, apparently, as a bad chocolate pie. So without further ado, hear goes Recipe No. 3.

You will need 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 5 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 14-oz can of sweetened conensed milk, 3 egg yolks (beaten but still defiant), 2 tablespoons of butter, a teaspoon of vanilla, 1-2/3 cups of water and 1 9-inch pastry shell, baked.


OK, so separate those yolks (one of these days, I have to get me one of those fancy-schmancy things that you crack an egg over and it separates the yolk from the white. As it is, I crack the egg into a bowl and lift the yolk out with a spoon):

Beat the yolks, the set them aside:


Mix the cornstarch, cocoa and water in a saucepan. No heat yet. Beat until smooth:


Mix it up right. Smooth yet:


Once smooth, stir in the egg yolks.


Then stir in the sweetened condensed milk:


Add the butter and vanilla, and stir constantly over low heat:


Cook until it thickens:


Once it gets thick, remove the mixture from heat and let cool a little, stirring occasionally. Then, pour into the pre-baked pie crust:


One the pie cools some more, you can chill in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream, and bon appetiti.

Christmas breakfast food porn!

Look, I swear this is not a food blog. I just blog about food sometimes. Having said that, we have some breakfast food porn that I served the morning of Christmas Eve. It's easy to fix and can be done the night before and shoved into the oven straight from the fridge -- quick and easy in the morning.

You will need a pound of bacon, 6 eggs (beaten), 2 cups of shredded cheddar, 1-1/4 cup of shredded swiss or mozzarella, 1 onion chopped, 4 cups of shredded hash browns and 1-1/2 cup of cottage cheese:


Shred those potatoes and chop that onion:


 Cook the bacon and onion in a skillet, and add the shredded potatoes. Depending on your bacon's fat content, you might want to drain the fat about halfway through the onion-bacon cooking, then add the potatoes at that point. Or, leave it. Fat makes things taste good.


Meanwhile, you have beaten your eggs. This remains legal everywhere except New York and Illinois:


 Time to combine a bunch of ingredaments. Into the bowl containing the beaten (but still defiant) eggs, add the various cheeses you will. (Gotta love cooking with Yoda):


Mix it up right, people:


Now stir in the onion-bacon-hash browns mixture:


Any time now, feel free to salt and pepper to taste. I prefer to leave that to the consumer. Pour that mix into a big ol' casserole dish:


Preheat the oven to 350, bake for 35-40 minutes until the mix is set firm and bubbly. Let it sit for 10 minutes once out of the oven, then serve and enjoy:


Do everything but bake it the night before, easiest damn breakfast you ever ate. Next time I make it, I might try diced hash browns instead of shredded, for more texture. Still up in the air on that. Either way, freaking excellent. Bon appetit!

A little Christmas music

Just to put you in the mood:


RIP, Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. Tommy and Marky (the drummers), merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, people


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In case you get jammed up at the mall today, remember this

This is what Christmas is all about, people.


Merry Christmas.

Well, it is Christmas Eve, after all

So I suppose we should have an appropriate message. Hat tip to Ace, and here's the Drop-Kick Murphys:


Merry Christmas, y'all.

TransCanada CEO apparently has faith in our Liar-In-Chief

For reasons that are entirely unclear to me, the CEO of the Canadian company that still hopes to build the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico still believes that Emperor Barry will approve the cross-border pipeline, as opposed to doing something unpleasant in the TransCanada Corp. CEO's mouth:
TransCanada Corp. Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said he is “very confident” the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will be approved by President Barack Obama.
Girling apparently believes that the guy who was awarded Politifact's Lie of the Year award for his claim that if you like your health plan, you can keep it -- shouldn't that have been the Lie of the Year for 2009 through 2013, and not just 2013? -- really means to approve the pipleline that he's been holding up for five years. The Keystone XL pipeline, which only needs State Department approval because it crosses the US-Canadian border, was on the verge of approval when Barry took office.

The decision was delayed because the issue, under scrutiny for about more than a year when Barry got to the White House, needed more study. That was five years ago. No study has found any problem with the pipeline -- most of which has already been built. The pipeline is supposed to go from Alberta, where Canada is drawing oil from its tar sands, to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, by way of Cushing, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma-to-the-gulf portion is already in place and is about to start transporting oil.

It's important to note that the original Keystone pipeline -- which is why the current proposal is called "XL" -- has been in place for years and transports oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Patoka, Illinois. For some reason, that section is not controversial. The delay is do almost entirely to so-called environmental groups that claim the pipeline will add to "global warming" -- don't get me started -- by encouraging Canada to develop its tar sands.

I have bad news. Canada is going to develop that oil. They will sell it to us, and a pipeline makes that more convenient and cost-effective. If we won't build a pipeline, they will either sell it to us via another means of transportation, or they will build a pipeline to Vancouver and ship that stuff to China, who would love to buy it. The oil is coming out of the ground and getting sold, no matter what we do. The only folks who can be hurt here are the citizens of the US, who will pay more for a less-secure source of oil if there is no pipeline.

In the absence of the pipeline, TransCanada apparently is working on building a rail bridge to transport the oil to the U.S. Seriously, which do you think is a safer way to transport oil -- by rail car, or by pipeline? Seems easy to me, but a lot of that oil is already coming to the U.S. by rail. Seems to me that environmental groups actually concerned about the environment would favor a pipeline that would eliminate rail shipments to the U.S. and tanker shipments to China, both of which pose a greater risk to the environment than pipeline transport.

This all about so-called environmental groups that oppose fossile fuels at all times and in all instances for no logical reason, combined with the fact that these groups are major contributors to the Democratic Party. Barry acan't afford to piss them off, so he has put off an easy decision that would secure reliable energy and thousands of jobs for the U.S. simply because he doesn't want to cut off the flow of political donations from the Sierra Club and its ilk. Nice basis for policy.

Hat tip to Hot Air for getting me started on this.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Game food porn, Part II

Game food had two elements this week, as with most 4:30 Packers games: we start with munchie-type game food, then later in the game move on to more meal-like game food, on account of that's dinner. This week was no different.

With the vegetable tray still out there, and the chocolate pie still to come, I added two elements to the mix to complete dinner: scallop corn burgers and hush puppies. For the scallop corn burgers, you will need 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, a lime, a teaspoon or so of Tabasco (green or red -- recipe says green, I use red), salt and pepper, 3 ears of corn, some olive oil, 1-1/2 pounds of sea scallops, 1 teaspoon of Cajun spice (I use Tony Chachere's), 3 green onion stalks, minced, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, a bunch of bacon, and two lemons:


First, chop up your green onions:


Then, cook your bacon -- recipe says 12 slices, I say bacon to your taste, but at least a shitload -- mince the bacon, and add it to the minced green onions:


Meanwhile, you need to grill your corn. Take each ear of corn, slather it with melted butter or olive oil and wrap it in foil:


They will look like this:


You will toss those suckers on the grill and roast them for about 20 minutes, turning periodically:


OK, looks good:


Once the corn  is cooked and cooled, slice the kernels off the cob:


And add half the corn to the green onion-bacon mix. Save the other half:


Take the other half of the corn and toss it in a food processor, then grind those suckers into paste:


Add about 1/3 of the scallops and puree that stuff. Mix it up right, people. Then, gradually add the remaining scallops, but just blend it a little so it's nice and chunky:


Does this look chunky? It should:


Now, get out those lemons and a grater:


You will need to get the zest from two lemons. This is a fancy way of saying, grate the surface peel off a couple lemons. Be sure not to zest a knuckle, as that hurts like hell and gets blood in the lemon zest, something most recipes do not call for:


Once your lemon is all zested, you will put the corn-scallop mixture in a large bowl and add the lemon zest. You also might squeeze those zested lemons into the bowl, but that is up to you. Add your salt, pepper and Cajun spice, then mix it up right.


Once you have that stuff added, toss in the bacon-green onion mix:


Add the rest of the corn:


Add the bread crumbs:



Mix it up right, oil up your hands and form that stuff into burger-like patties:


Refrigerate those for 60-90 minutes, or longer. When you're ready, toss those suckers on the grill at 375 for abou 4 minutes per side. If you like sauce, you can mix the mayonnaise, Tabasco and the zest and juice from that lime and use that as sauce. I don't, but hey, your call. Anyway, you grilled the patties, right?


Serve on a hamburger bun, with or without sauce, or not on a hamburger bun, also with or without sauce. They're pretty freaking good either way.

Toss in some hush puppies:


That should make you happy. I would give you the hush puppie recipe, but this one was OK, but not the right one. I'll get back to you on that. In any event, bon appetit.

Game food porn, part I

Sure, the Packers lost -- mostly because of ineptitude, but we will not speak of this, as the Bears crapped the bed and gave us one more chance to with the division -- but we enjoyed the hell out of the game food. This game food post will be in two parts (three, if you count the pie) -- this one, with the standard game food offerings, and Part II, in which I detail the dishes that comprised dinner later in the game. So, without further ado:

We had pigs in a blanket, because they are always good.



Serve those with mustard, kids. Can't beat it. Naturally, we had stuffed potato skins, because that's what we do:


Finally, we had a vegetable tray, on account of Marrying Into Wolves came over and likes that kind of thing. Also, that way I could claim I had vegetables with dinner without relying on the skins:


Stay tuned for the dinner portion of the game food. (Jeez Louise I cook a lot during 4:30 Packers games!)