mytopleft

Friday, January 31, 2014

Missed it by that much

Yeah, it's an old Get Smart reference, but I fell 6 visits short of my traffic goal for January. I was aiming high, though, so it was a good month -- in fact, only three months in the history of Eff You have had more traffic. So I've got that going for me. Trying to do the taxes tonight, having laboriously gathered all the forms required. Might not finish tonight, but should be filed by Monday. Good luck on your own taxes, and enjoy the Super Bowl (commercials).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super Bowl food porn preview

Yeah, I got people coming over for the Super Bowl, which means I'm preparing game food. Super Bowl game food, of course, requires an extra effort, which means that, in addition to numerous dishes, there must be new dishes to tantalize the tastebuds. This year will not disappoint.  While there will be a number of old favorites, there will be at least three new game-food items. I hope to have the time and presence of mind to document them for you step-by-step so that they can join your game-food repertoire, as well. Also, I expect some dessert food porn this weekend, so stay tuned. Plus, looks like it will be a good game.

Is Obama a Belieber?

Guess we'll fuind out soon enough. It would appear that a petition on the White House website calling for the deportation of Justin Bieber has reached the 100,000 signatures that the administration says are needed for it to consider acting on a petition. Granted, the whole petition idea was stupid. To avoid having to consider really moronic petitions the White House moved the threshhold from something like 10,000 signatures (fuck, I could probably get that many) to 100,000 signatures, a tacit acknowledgement by the White House that thet whole petition idea was stupid. But now they're stuck with it, and a "Bustin' Justin" petition has hit the White House's "look at me" mark.

So now what? Well, the guy who started the petition thinks the law should be applied:
"We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture," says the petition, created by one "J.A." in Detroit on January 23, the day Bieber was busted in Miami Beach for impaired driving and illegal drag racing in a flashy Italian sports car. "We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug-abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation's youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society."
Bieber, in the country on a renewable work visa, not the so-called green card -- it isn't green -- has had his legal problems lately:
Now out on bail, Bieber is due back in Miami for a court appearance on Valentine's Day, when he will also also face charges of resisting arrest and using an expired driver's license.
Police in Los Angeles are pursuing their own investigation into an earlier incident in which Bieber allegedly hurled eggs at a neighbor's house.
So, Bieber's a douche. We knew that even before he started getting arrested. But now he's getting arrested. Normally, that's a good way to get your visa revoked. Will it happen? Well, like all other Obama promises, the whole petition program isn't intended to actually accomplish anything:
But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki cautioned that the petition program "doesn't always determine a step will be taken, it's more of another opportunity for the voices of the American people to be heard."
That's right -- it's just to make people feel like the administration is listening to them, not to provide an avenue by which the administration actually does listen to the people.

Ultimately, I don't think Bieber has to worry about deporation. Hell, Obama won't deport illegal immigrants, and Bieber is legal, so I don't think Justin needs to worry about getting sent back where he came from. That's not an Obama thing, after all.

I'm detecting a pattern here

The pattern is, it seems to snow every damn week at least once. Maybe not a lot, at least not every time, but often. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, it did it again. This time, it was just a dusting. At 5:30 Wednesday morning, I took Jeb the Wonder Dog out to pee and found that about 1/4 inch of snow had fallen sometime during the night.


Because the temperature hasn't been above freezing for about two weeks, still lots of snow from previous snowfalls still on the ground. Jeb the Wonder Dog, of course, doesn't mind snow as he has a nice fur coat:


I'll try to get a picture next time, but when I am working outside in the snow and Jeb is with me, he cheerfully lies down in the snow to wait as if he were indoors on a nice, warm sofa.

While we were out walking, Jeb the Wonder Dog and I saw deer tracks on the sidewalk. So good to be close to nature, especially when nature is civilized enough to use the sidewalk:


Granted, this was a trivial snowfall, but apparently it is snowing a lot this winter all over the country. A reader sent me this picture, and I wanted to give credit to the website that originally posted it. Unfortunately, a Google search (for images) will tell you that a whole bunch of churches have put up similar signs:


Doesn't make it any less hilarious.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Finally, a good vacation destination visits Eff You

Martinique, bitches!

According to Wikipedia, the infallible source of all knowledge (take it with a grain of salt), Martinique "is an island in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 386,486 inhabitants (as of Jan. 2013).[1] Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of St. Lucia, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica."

The official language of Martinique is French, but a lot of folks there also speak Antillean Creole. And, of course, Martinique was where the film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not," starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was set.


So, Martinique, welcome to the Eff You family. Bring your friends next time, and I look forward to visiting your island in the future.

Yeah, I got dessert food porn

Tonight's entry is banana pudding. As I mentioned, Mrs. Wolves is pursuing the desserts of her youth. Unfortunately for me, her mother was a woman of the South, schooled in the ways of Southern cooking. I, alas, am the child of Yankees who knew fuck all about that shit. That's why it took so many chocolate pie recipes to find the right one.

Fortunately, we found the right banana pudding recipe on the first try. The recipe is simple, but delicious.

Naturally, everything begins with the ingredaments:


You will need a box of Nilla Wafers, 1/3 cup of flour, a touch of salt, 2-1/2 cups of milk, 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 egg yolks (I increased this to 4, since the meringue calls for 4 egg whites -- no problem there), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 cups sliced bananas, 4 egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar.

First, mix the flour and salt in a large sauce pan. Add the egg yolks:


Add the sweetened condensed milk:


And add the milk. (No picture, use your fucking imagination.) Stir that mix like a big dog over medium heat. After a while it will be smooth and thickening. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.


Slice your bananas:


Take a 2-quart casserole dish, layer the bottom with banana slices. Pour in 1/3 of the pudding mixutre, then layer with Nilla Wafers:


Do it again with bananas,  pudding mixture and Nilla Wafers. The thir iteration, layer with bananas, then pudding mixture, but instead of putting the cookies in a layer, set them on edge around the edge of the casserole dish, kind of like a fence.

Now, beat the shit out of those egg whites:


Slowly add the sugar while beating the egg whites. Beat until stiff -- peaks will form when you pull the beater out of the mix. Layer the meringue over the pudding:


Heat the oven to 325, then put the pudding in for 25 minutes until the meringe is a light golden color. Let sit for 30 minutes.


You now you want some.


Bon appetit.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Bored in a combat zone? Music video time!

This time it's Swedish Marines in Afghanistan doing "Greased Lightning." And doing it well, I might add:


Go Sweden!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This gives a whole new meaning to "Hawaiian dope"

Despite federal laws against the possession and use of marijuana, Washington state and Colorado recently "legalized" the use and possession of small amounts of pot, even opening state-sanctioned (and taxed) stores. While I think this is the proper way to treat pot ( ban it, tax it, whatever, let the states do what they see fit) that really has nothing to do with anything here. No, we need to look at how the attitudes of state governments toward pot are chagnging.

Apparently, those attitudes, at least in some states, are leaning toward  forming a drug cartel. Hawaii's state speaker of the house -- not some back-bench fuck, mind you -- thinks it would be just fucking ducky if Hawaii became a major trafficker in dope:
She promised she hasn’t inhaled, but House Majority Floor Leader Rida Cabanilla is looking to marijuana to solve some of Hawaii financial troubles.
Cabanilla said she hopes to legalize cultivation, manufacturing and exporting of marijuana and marijuana food products in Hawaii to pay off the state’s billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities as well as make infrastructure repairs and fund public education and human services programs.
“This state would turn into a manufacturing state. Can you imagine factories that would be making ‘Maui Wowie’ cookies and making marijuana macadamia nut candy for export? I think that would be wonderful,” said Cabanilla, who represents Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe and West Loch.
Because she's a Democrat, of course she has no vision of eliminating other taxes or reducing the state's unfunded liabilities. Instead, she envisions massive tax revenue to fund government spending that is not now possible:
Hawaii has some $25 billion in debts, encompassing the state retirement system, the public employee union health fund and outstanding bonds. The state also needs billions in repairs for roads, schools and infrastructure.
“I am not even a fan of it. But if that is what it takes for our state to be in the forefront where we can fix our roads, we can build more affordable housing, we can help the homeless — that is the route we should go,” she said.
...
While Hawaii already has among the highest overall taxes inthe nation, Cabanilla said the taxes on marijuana exports would be sky high — at least 25 percent.
Hawaii has been a one-party state since it was admitted to the union in 1959. It is no surprise that state Democrats are casting about for something else to tax the living shit out of. Not surprising that their latest target for taxation is something that isn't even legal. Always thinking ahead, I say.

Damn if we don't have some Poland

Got our first visitor from Poland a little bit ago. Poland, while famous mostly for getting curb-stomped by the Germans in 1939, is, of course, the birthplace of the late Pope John Paul II. Poland, as I'm sure the erudite readers of Eff You are aware, is bordered east and west by Ukraine and Germany, with a couple small countries like Lithuania, Belarus, and the Czech Republic scattered around it as well. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1065, and the current Republic of Poland was formed in 1989 in 1989 when the Poles told the Soviet Union to fuck off. In between, Poland was batted around by various European powers and generally had a hard time of it. The great astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, was a Pole.

Interestingly, Poland retains much of the wildlife that the rest of Europe killed off centuries ago:
Many animals that have since died out in other parts of Europe still survive in Poland, such as the wisent in the ancient woodland of the Białowieża Forest and in Podlaskie. Other such species include the brown bear in Białowieża, in the Tatras, and in the Beskids, the gray wolf and the Eurasian Lynx in various forests, the moose in northern Poland, and the beaver in Masuria, Pomerania, and Podlaskie.
In the forests, one also encounters game animals, such as red deer, roe deer and wild boars. In eastern Poland there are a number of ancient woodlands, like Białowieża forest, that have never been cleared by people. There are also large forested areas in the mountains, Masuria, Pomerania,Lubusz Land and Lower Silesia.
Poland is the most important breeding ground for European migratory birds. Out of all of the migratory birds who come to Europe for the summer, one quarter breed in Poland, particularly in the lake districts and the wetlands along the Biebrza, the Narew, and the Warta, which are part of nature reserves or national parks.
For those who don't know, this is a wisent:


Looks a hell of a lot like an American bison, doesn't it?

There's lots more interesting stuff about Poland, but this isn't a foreign cultures blog, except when it is. Anyway, visitor from Poland, welcome to the Eff You family, and bring your friends next time.

We're bad, we're nationwide

Yeah, sometime early this morning we went rocketing through 80,000 all time visitors to Eff You. Thanks for coming by, and I hope you'll keep coming. When we hit 100,000, drinks are on me. Literally. I'll probably get so pounded that I'll be spilling everything all over myself. You didn't think I was going to buy drinks for everybody, did you?

So keep coming by, and if you need to shop on Amazon, you can support this blog by going through the Amazon gadget to the right over there. Thanks again, and now, a little mood music:


Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Volokh Conspiracy is already scaring the shit out of Washington Post readers

A magnificent legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, recently became affiliated with The Washington Post. Unlike this blog, the Volokh folks deal with weighty legal issues. They are law professors, and that's what they do. I'm a contract attorney, so I write about trivial shit in Temp Town. Plus food porn. And whatever. But not these guys.

Anyway, I assume they are now getting paid some decent coin by the WaPo, which is good. For them, at least. Not for me, really, because, well, the money goes to the Volokh guys, not me. But let's put that aside.

The Volkh guys apparently have already put scorpions in the underwear of WaPo readers:
A commenter on the post mentioning our new @VolokhGuns Twitter feed writes:

? I open up the “Saturday Morning Headlines” email and this is at the top. Is the WashPo going gun nut? They hired what looks like a teenage law professor? “Negroes and the Gun”?? What? And what the hell is a Volokh Conspiracy?
You go to read NEWS, and you get BIZARRE. That’s the internet for ya. Too bad it’s happening at the Washington Post. Yet another sign of decadence.
Exactly the reaction I wanted! Well, not quite, but it points to a reaction that we very much do want, and that is the main reason for our experiment with the Post.
This particular reader probably won’t be much receptive to our ideas, at least about guns. But people fall on a spectrum on this issue, as on others. There are those who already firmly agree with us. There are those that so disagree with us that they won’t be swayed.
And there’s a wide middle zone of people, on this subject and on others, who are open to hearing arguments — and facts — and who might be swayed by them. (I was one myself, before I started researching gun issues seriously in the mid-1990s.) But to reach those people, you have to be in the publications they read, with the credentials they respect, both our preexisting academic credentials and the credential of affiliation with the Washington Post.
The Volokh guys are hoping to put a little educating on the Post's readers. I hope they succeed. You should stop by. Their commentary on legal issues and court decisions of the day is absolutely must read. Even if they're doing it in the Post these days.

I really don't care what the article says, the cover is just fucking creepy

The New York Times Magazine's most recent edition's cover story is about Hillary Clinton and her unofficial 2016 presidential bid. It goes into a lot of detail about  the people surrounding the Clintons and how they might or might not fit into a 2016 run. Frankly, I thought the article tried to tread a fine line between critical and fauning. I'm not sure where this paragraph was supposed to fall on that scale -- I'm not sure the author realized how damning it actually was:
It was just another hectic fall evening in Manhattan for Clinton, and she was keeping herself busy as usual in the “is she or isn’t she” interim. There were paid speeches to give (at $200,000 a pop) to the American Society of Travel Agents and the National Association of Realtors, filled with the wisdom gleaned from being the nation’s top diplomat (“leadership is a team sport” was one favorite; “you can’t win if you don’t show up” was another).
You're getting 200 grand a pop for horseshit? Christ, I'm in the wrong business. Seriously, is that all she learned as secretary of state? Did the author think that crap passed for "wisdom" or was that just the best the author could pull from the mooseshit pie that Hillary calls a speech? "You can't win if you don't show up" sounds like the DC Lottery commercials -- "You can't win if you don't play." That's wisdom? As for "leadership is a team sport," I think that proves Hillary has missed the point of leadership and, perhaps, totally explains why Chris Stevenson is dead. She thought someone else on the leadership team would take care of security in Benghazi but -- oops! -- didn't happen. Of course, don't hold your breath waiting for Hillary to say "My bad" over that one -- leadership is a team sport, after all, so it could be almost anybody at State, and, besides, "What, at this point, difference does it make?" Count on that being in commercials if there is a Hillary 2016 run. Just not in Hillary's commercials.

But none of that or the other turd blossoms throughout that article are what grabbed my attention. It was the magazine cover. Let's face it, this is just fucking creepy:


Seriously, who the fuck thought this was a good cover? She looks like a Star Trek villain from the original 1967 series. I have no other words. I'm too creeped out.

We could totally hit 80,000 visits tonight

Only about 20 away. I realize that major, important, popular blogs do more than that in an hour, as opposed to two-and-a-half years, but this blog is not major, popular or important, so cut me some slack. Plus, if you're doing any shopping on Amazon, please feel free to go to Amazon through the gadget to the right over there. Eff You gets a cut, and it costs you nothing (except coming to Eff You to access the gadget. Small price to pay for sending me some jack. Thanks in advance.)

Stay tuned, because I think I am making banana pudding tomorrow and posting as food porn. (No box mix involved, thank you very much.) Mrs. Wolves, having found the chocolate pie of her you, now is seeking the banana pudding of her youth. I really wish she'd gotten the recipes from her mother. I made four or five different chocolate pies before we found the right one. Not sure I can eat that much banana pudding. We'll see.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A totally unnecessary warning from the State Department

Apparently, the State Department thinks that the threat of anti-American violence or terrorism at the Sochi, Russia Winter Olympic Games is so severe that it is warning American athletes not to wear their team gear when they are out and about outside of "secured" areas:
The memo, which details steps athletes can take to ensure their safety during the games, cautions them to avoid wearing team colors too prominently outside of the 1,500-mile so-called “Ring of Steel” security perimeter established by Russian security forces.
“The U.S. Department of State has advised that wearing conspicuous Team USA clothing in non-accredited areas may put your personal safety at greater risk,” said the memo, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The athletes have to wear the official gear for the opening ceremonies. After that, it's up to them. Frankly, I don't think the State Department needs to be worried about anybody wearing this shit anywhere they don't absolutely have to:


The claim is that Ralph Lauren designed this nasty-looking patchwork shit. Maybe so, but it looks more like the winner in an ugly-Christmas-sweater contest. But what do I know from fashion?

I guess this is a step in the right direction, though -- if Hillary were still secretary of state, she'd probably have a Benghazi moment and say, "Hey, don't worry about terrorism in the neighborhood, go ahead and wear that ugly crap. And put this bullseye on your back, too."

It's embarrassing enough without having to provide details

As I mentioned yesterday, there are some of us at work so desperate to talk sports smack to each other that we are willing to trade insults about our fantasy Puppy Bowl teams, and put money on the outcome. None of us has a team in the Super Bowl, so insulting those teams does not carry the oomph that accompanies insulting the favorite team of a co-worker. It's a guy thing, you wouldn't understand.

Sure enough, a reader didn't understand and sent an e-mail asking the following:
I don't get it? What do they do? How could you win? And what in the world do you put money on?
First things first, I would suggest you use the comments, not direct email, as a comment makes it look like people are reading this blog. People might actually be reading this blog, but the existence of comments not posted by me or spam robots from Russia seeking porn (boy, does food porn confuse them) tends to lead people to think that maybe they aren't the only person on the planet reading this. Just sayin'.

OK, having put that out there, I will now explain the Puppy Bowl and how we have monetized it. First, I will let Animal Planet explain the game itself:


Basically, you have a random event -- a bunch of puppies with chew toys in a large room. If one carries a chew toy over the goal line, that's a touchdown. Fantasy players can draft a three-dog team; the points those dogs score are the fantasy player's score, just like any other fantasy sports league. Four of us at work have drafted teams; Animal Planet will track the scoring, and whichever one of us has the highest-scoring fantasy dog team, wins. Each of us puts an entry fee in the pot, winner takes all. Simple, yes?

Sure it sounds crazy, but if we could get a bookie to cover prop bets, such as in which quarter will a dog first pee on the field, we'd do that too. So fantasy Puppy Bowl teams really isn't that far out. Either we're very sick to bet on this, or we are visionaries. Still not sure.

We are reduced to this

Since none of us on the project has a team left in the hunt, and thus are unable to talk smack about our team being great or someone else's team sucking, we are all drafting Puppy Bowl fantasy teams so that we can throw out insults like, "My dogs are planning to hold Michael Vick fights" and "You're drafting the All-Neutered Team" and "Is it a penalty if my dogs hump your dogs?" and "SI is reporting your dogs are juicing" and, well, you get the idea. I'm so ashamed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The agency may be winning the war on fun, but they are losing the war on stupidity

As I noted earlier, it would appear that the agency I'm working at is waging a war on fun. Part of this is because they worry about us wasting time, and part of it is because they get complains from a select few (two or three) people who get bent out of shape if someone is actually enjoying life more than they are. Because everyone enjoys life more than these two or three people (on every project, I might add), they are chronic complainers, no matter what project they are on. If we could kill them without legal repercussions, we would. But I digress.

No, this post is about the agency's war on stupidity. There are a number of signs up in the common kitchen area: keep the noise down, throw out your nasty ass lunch that you forgot about once a few weeks have passed and it is on its way to becoming a new life form, don't microwave stinky food that makes the entire work area smell like dead fish (this, of course, is the most ignored edict of all). Of course, I am paraphrasing the kitchen signs.

Today, we got a new one, and this is a quote, not a paraphrase: "Please do not put aluminum foil in the microwave." How fucking old were you when you learned you could not put aluminum foil -- or any other metal -- in the microwave? How old were you when you learned that aluminum foil was metal? Seriously, I'm not sure what kind of beanhead this is aimed at, but someone obviously did it, or there wouldn't be a sign up.

The problem is, nobody in Temp Town thinks these signs are aimed at them. One agency I used to work at a lot had signs all over their kitchen, "Please do not eat other people's food." What?!? People were constantly saying, "Who would do that?" The answer was, somebody, often enough that there are signs all over the place about it. The guy microwaving fish three times a week probably wonders what asshole is nuking stinky food. We've talked about this guy before and how the sign needs an addendum that says, "Odorous foods means your stinky fish, motherfucker." Shit, he don't know it means him -- he's a temp, no rule was written with him in mind.

So any day, now, apparently, some dickwad is going to blow up the microwaves with aluminum foil because that sign clearly could not have been meant for him.

I hate this job.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For this I missed 12 hours of overtime?

That's how temps look at being forced to stay home by the weather, holidays or whatever. You don't work, you don't get paid. This was a holiday week already, since we were idled by MLK Day. Throw in a snow day, you turn a mediocre paycheck into a shit paycheck.

That doesn't mean we can't enjoy the snow, right? It started at about daybreak and by noonish looked like this:


And this:


And this:


And this:


Just from the front porch, four or five hours in. Of course, it snowed all day. At some point, Jeb the Wonder Dog is going to have to pee. So out we went. Jeb digs snow:


Likes to run around in it:


Here's the beanfield at about 4 pm (sometimes it's a cornfield, and last spring it was a wheat field -- it's flexible), one of Jeb's favorite romping grounds:


Now he just wonders what the hell is taking me so long to get him back inside for his hot chocolate (I kid -- I would never give Jeb dog-killing chocolate):


As darknes started to fall, the whole thing was getting a little tedious. It snowed a couple hours into the night, finally tailing off at about 7 pm, leaving us with about 10 inches. Lots of wind, so some areas were blown clear, and others got some deep drifts. Hope to capture a little of the wind-sculpted snow later.


The only icicles were on vehicles that went for a spin. Otherwise, it was too cold for any melting, a crucial element in icicle formation:


The temperature forecast for the next 10 days seems likely to leave us with snow on the ground for quite some time. It's not warming up anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So what did you do today? Update!

We got shut down at work because of a snow storm today. Forced to stay home, I got productive. I changed the HVAC filters, shoveled the sidewalks (twice), snaked the basement bathroom sink's drain, replaced several lightbulbs, cleaned the freezer, cleaned the refigerator, blogged repeatedly, and made chicken noodle soup (although I made the stock over two days prior to today). So, to quote a hot internet mom:


Update! Photo of the chicken noodle soup:


Yeah, I liked the hot mom better, too, but good soup is good soup.

Um, is this what an ambassador is supposed to do?

I think the answer is "no." A rich socialite waltzing in and criticizing local practices is not the best method for winning friends and influencing people:
U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy has tweeted her concern at the “inhumaneness” of a Wakayama Prefecture village’s traditional dolphin hunt.
“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG (U.S. Government) opposes drive hunt fisheries,” she tweeted Friday.
Kennedy, the lone surviving child of assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy, took up the diplomatic post in November.
Every year the fishermen of Taiji corral hundreds of dolphins in a secluded bay, select a few dozen for sale to aquariums and marine parks and then stab the rest to death for meat.
This year, fishermen and divers in the village have caught at least 25 dolphins in a process to select captives before the mass slaughter, environmentalists said Saturday.
I think this makes a compelling case for ambassadors not being allowed to tweet. By Kennedy's definition, all killing of animals for food is inhumane. Please note that the reference to "hundreds" of dolphins is clearly superceded by the paragraph that states the fishermen caught "at least 25" dolphins. Kind of a big difference there, isn't it?

Frankly, I don't give a fuck about how people catch their food. If they eat what they catch, why do you care who they catch it? I doubt that tweets like this will help make Sweet Caroline an effective ambassador. Plus, if that song really was written about or inspired by the 3-year-old Caroline, then it is really fucking creepy:


Boring traffic post

We are on pace to make January the third or fourth best month in EffYou history. While this is not saying much, as this is not a high-traffic blog, it's something, and I'll take it. Also, please note that you can do your Amazon shopping through the gadget to the right. EffYou gets a piece, and it costs you nothing. Hook a brother up.

Catch a wave

Hawaii, where Barry and I went to different high schools together (he rode the bus, I carried my lunch) apparently is in for some massive waves:
An approaching "giant" northwest swell has prompted officials at the National Weather Service to issue a high surf warning for the north and west shores of most islands as waves up to 50 feet are expected.
The warning, scheduled to take effect at midnight tonight and run through 6 a.m. Friday, covers the north- and west-facing shores of Oahu, Kauai, Molokai; the north shore of Maui and the west shore of the Big Isle.
Forecasters expect surf along the north- and west-facing shores of Kauai and Niihau and the north-facing shores of Oahu, Molokai and Maui to reach 40 to 50 feet. Surf along the west-facing shores of Oahu and Molokai are expected to reach 20 to 30 feet, while the west shore of the Big Isle is expected to reach 12 to 18 feet, according to weather officials.
What does a 50-foot wave look like? Weather Service measurements, of course, measure the face of the wave. So-called Hawaiian measurements gauge the height of the wave from behind, which results in the stated height being about half the NWS measurement - what the NWS calls 50-foot waves, in Hawaii they would call 25-foot waves. I think the face is what matters -- after all, that's the part of the wave you're surfing.  So what does a wave that big look like? Something like this"


I realize this is a term of art that non-surfers might not understand, but this is what is referred to as "fucking huge." Or, as the Beach Boys put it:


EffYou nation, please welcome South Africa

We have a visitor from South Africa, which means, of course, that I have to give you a little education on South Africa. From Wikipedia, we learn this:
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans.[7][8][9] To the north lie the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory.[10] South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation.
One of the oddities about South Africa is the lack of a genuine capital city, apparently:
South Africa has no legally defined capital city. The fourth chapter of the Constitution of South Africa, states that "The seat of Parliament is Cape Town, but an Act of Parliament enacted in accordance with section 76(1) and (5) may determine that the seat of Parliament is elsewhere."[75] The country's three branches of government are split over different cities. Cape Town, as the seat of Parliament, is the legislative capital; Pretoria, as the seat of the President and Cabinet, is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein, as the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal, is the judicial capital, while the Constitutional Court of South Africa sits in Johannesburg. Most foreign embassies are located in Pretoria.
South Africa by all accounts is a beautiful country. It is one of the places I hope to visit one day. In the meantime, welcome, and to our South African visitors (there actually were two) we send forth a hearty EffYou.

The Obama vs. Putin photo death match

Over at The People's Cube, found this magnificent comparison of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama. Guess who wins?


Yeah, that about says it all. On the other hand, Obama has a better domestic spying apparatus. So he's got that going for him.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Something football fans ought to see

Seriously, if you love the NFL and have never been to ProFootballMock, you need to go. It is hilarious. A couple years ago, a fanboy site run by a lawyer with good NFL contacts became ProFootballTalk. It had a lot of scoop other "professional" sites missed. So it got bought by NBC or somebody, and the guy who ran the site is now rich and all over the NFL TV scene. ProFootballMock takes off on that, crossing it with Deadspin and creates totally made-up content that is hilarious. If you have no other contact with the site, you need to look at the weekly feature NFL QBs on Facebook. It might be the funniest sports feature on the internet. Go read it. Seriously. Now. Why are you still here?

By the way . . .

Colorado and Washington, home states to the Broncos and the Seahawks, respectively, both have legalized marijuana. So that raises the question: is this the Doper Bowl?

So, a Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl

I'm already planning the game food menu. Looks pretty good, but you'll have to stay tuned to find out what it includes. Watched both games today. Didn't really give a shit who won, but the Seahawks win frees me to root for the Broncos. Normally, I root for the NFC team regardless of who it is. This has forced me to root for the Cowboys, the Vikings and the Bears, all of whom I hate, but that's the way it is.

However, I'm not really rooting for the NFC -- I'm rooting for the old NFL, the teams that were in the NFL before the merger with the AFL. Since the Colts, Steelers and Browns (not the current Browns, who are an AFC expansion team, but the original Browns, who are now the Ravens) were NFL teams before they were moved to the AFC for numerical balance, I am allowed to root for them.  Is that complicated enough? Gets worse.

The Seahawks originally were an AFC expansion team, but got moved to the NFC during realignment. They have no ties to the original NFL. Thus, I don't have to root for them when they represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Of course, the Seahawks historically suck, so the only other time the issue came up was Super Bowl XLI (is that 41) My Roman numerology is not good.), when the Seahawks played the Steelers. The Steelers are an original NFL team, the Seahawks are not, so I was able to root for the Steelers instead of the Seahawks. Which was good, 'cause I just don't fucking like the Seahawks.

Update: Yes, this means I am rooting for the Broncos. Maybe if they win, Peyton Manning will take his massive forehead and go home to Louisiana for good.

So we had game food even though we have no dog in the hunt

Watched both conference championship games and, because of the 6:30 start for the NFC game, fixed dinner-ish game food in shifts so that Cpl. Wolves would have something resembling dinner when he got home from work. The food was put out on a rolling basis, so there was always something just coming out fresh. Anyway, we started, of course with stuff potato skins:


To provide a little balance, also in the first quarter we had, as we usually do for dinner-like game food, a veggie tray:


Bacon-wrapped dogs came in about 2:53 into the second quarter:


 By halftime, we had the onion straws:


Finally, about five minutes into the third quarter, when Cpl. Wolves got home, we brought out the chicken fingers:

Enjoy, people.

Yes, I really am testing another chocolate pie recipe

Good news is it's a really good one. I fixed this pie yesterday but it was still setting in the refrigerator and was not ready for consumption after dinner last night. Naturally, Mrs. Wolves had a slice for breakfast today to make sure it was edible. It was. So here you go:


You will first need to make or buy a graham cracker crust. We've been over this before, but you can make your own graham cracker crust. I used chocolate graham crackers for this recipe. Anyway, in addition to the crust, you will need 2/3 cup of sugar plus two tablespoons (don't ask me why, because I don't know), 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 4 egg yolks, 3 cups of half-and-half, 8 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate, two tablespoons of softened butter and 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.

First of all, separate those yolks from the rest of the egg. You could make meringue with the whites, I suppose, but I never know what the fuck to do with the whites. This isn't a meringue pie:


In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan (to prevent scorching, doncha know) combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks:


Whisk in the half-and-half:


Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly:


Add the chocolate, stir it in until melted and smooth, then cook for about a minute or two:


Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla:


Pour that shit into the crust that you made or bought and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours:


By the way, why do we call it the Fridge when there is no "d" in refrigerator? Just sayin'. Anyway, enjoy the pie, 'cause it is fucking awesome.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Iowa lawyer auditions for position as contract attorney

Unfortunately for him, he might be too stupid even for this mindless line of work. A reader emailed me a link to this story about a month ago, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with it ever since. It isn't about contract attorneys, and this isn't a blog about the legal community generally, except when it is. So here you go:
An Iowa lawyer who believed his client was due to inherit $18.8 million from a long-lost Nigerian cousin has been suspended for tapping clients for loans in a failed effort to reap the windfall.
The Iowa Supreme Court suspended lawyer Robert Allan Wright Jr. for a year, according to the Legal Profession Blog, the Business Record and KCCI.com. According to the opinion (PDF) issued Friday, Wright believed his lucky client had to pay $177,660 in Nigerian inheritance taxes and additional cash for an “anti-terrorism certificate” before receiving the money.
Wright charged a 10 percent contingency, which would amount to $1.8 million if successful, to help his client obtain the Nigerian inheritance.
I remember when I moved to the DC area in 1995 after graduating from law school and seeing an article in The Washington Post about people who had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Nigerian scam. It was well-known to law enforcement even then. How the fuck does anybody fall for it nearly 20 years on?

Well, this bozo borrowed hundreds of thousands from other clients and promised them huge returns once the inheritance came through. How did that work out?
Wright apparently transferred all of the loan proceeds to the scammers, but his client’s inheritance was not forthcoming. During the course of his work, Wright spoke with people he believed to be lawyers, bankers and even the president of Nigeria. His client traveled to Spain in hopes of securing the inheritance (for an additional fee), said to be stashed in two suitcases in Madrid.
The Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board had concluded that Wright “appears to have honestly believed—and continues to believe—that one day a trunk full of ... one hundred dollar bills is going to appear upon his office doorstep,” according to the Iowa Supreme Court decision.
I'm sorry, but this guy might actually be too stupid to be a contract attorney. And that's saying something.

The legal establishment notices that life sucks for contract attorneys

The January edition of Washington Lawyer, which I guess is the official publication of the D.C. Bar, put the plight of contract attorneys on the cover. It finally is online here. Took a few weeks, I guess. Anyway, it is an interesting piece, and I have waited to comment on it until it was available online, so I could link it, and until I had time to really go over it, so I could make some sense of it.

Anyway, I guess I've reached that point on both counts. All in all, I think it is a good piece. It hits on the dissatisfaction of contract attorneys, the shitty working conditions and pay, and the threat of no longer having a job as a contract attorney because of overseas competition and computerized review programs. Nonetheless, the piece fills me with mixed emotions. It starts like this:
Temporary contract attorneys are, by most accounts, crucial to the legal workforce in Washington, D.C. But some contract lawyers are not, to put it bluntly, happy about their fate. They bemoan what they describe as poor working conditions.
Sometimes there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom. Sometimes they are not allowed access to their cell phones or the Internet. The work, they say, is tedious. The hours can be long, and the rooms can be windowless.
When they talk among each other, they share their stories of mounting debt, low wages, and what they see as humiliating treatment by law firms they had once dreamed of joining. They describe themselves as disillusioned and, most of all, trapped by their inability to find other more permanent employment. “We are treated like day laborers. We are the [migrant farm workers] of the industry,” says Fiona Edwards, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who “stumbled into the contract market” and has never gotten out of it. “We are treated like an inconvenience when, in reality, law firms are making lots of money off of us. The morale among contract lawyers? Disenchanted.”
You know, all that is true. And I bitch about these things as much as the next temp -- actually, more, because I have a blog that depends on my bitching about temping for content. That's why I do stuff like food porn, politics, music and other stuff -- even temps can only take so much bitching about how awful it is to be a temp.

Having said that, there are a couple segments of the article that made me want to load the .45 and go looking for some folks. One guy quoted prominently was Marc Zamsky, identified as the chief operating officer at Compliance Discovery Solutions, described as "an e-discovery legal staffing company." That's a fancy way of saying "a temp agency."

Now, I've never heard of Mr. Zamsky, but I've spent a pretty significant amount of time working for Compliance. He says some shit about working at Compliance that makes me wonder if he jumped the gun on DC decriminalizing marijuana. And complaints about Compliance can largely be applied to pretty much every agency I've ever worked for, so he not only is ignorant about his own agency, he really knows nothing about conditions in the industry. Or maybe he's just adhering to Rule No. 1: they're lying. Zamsky basically says that any complaints by temps about pay, working conditions or anything else are just made up.
Law firms and legal staffing agencies counter that the complaints they have heard and seen on blogs are often embellished and not connected to the reality of what they have seen on a daily basis.
“Of the recent complaints that have made their way onto the blogosphere, many, if not all the things cited, were either out of context or patently wrong,” says Zamsky of Compliance Discovery Solutions.
Compliance has its own centers to house contract lawyers while they are conducting document reviews. Zamsky says Compliance makes a point of ensuring that the facilities have comfortable work stations, fully stocked kitchens, and properly working air conditioning or heat, as needed. He says the contractors get a “fair market wage.”In addition, Zamsky says, law firm clients often work at the facilities alongside the contract staff.
“Our facilities are all in Class A buildings and provide the highest grade amenities. The facilities are kept clean and the bathrooms are maintained,” he says. “We have the understanding that all our attorneys want to work in a nice environment with windowed facilities. In my experience, complaints can often be exaggerated and unsubstantiated.”
Zamsky says there are certain restrictions on Internet access and rampant phone use as a “security protocol” that law firms and their corporate clients demand.
Zamsky's references to complaints on blogs alludes to this article at the popular legal blog, Above the Law. I commented on that same article, which focused on some emails sent by a temp on a Compliance project to Compliance managementcomplaining about various problems and injustices, here. Follow that link and you will see that my main advice to the complaining temp was "shut the fuck up and quit whining." That post was not meant to imply that Compliance -- or agencies in general -- are blameless, or that the temp was making spurious complaints. Rather, my point was that conditions suck in Temp Town and if you didn't know that, you better get used to it. Maybe my "tough love" was a little harsh, since I told the bitching temp, who was all butt-hurt because Compliance lied about the hours and was out of free coffee:
What makes you think you're entitled to anything? The Above The Law post that featured your emails focused on how tough it is to be a temp, but your emails make it clear that temps -- or at least you -- don't understand the legal market as it stands today. Of course the hours aren't as advertised -- they change to fit the needs of the client, not to fit the needs of the temp. Of course the working conditions are horrific -- the agency is trying to stuff the number of attorneys the firm wants into the space the agency has. And of course the agency is out of coffee. They have too many people on site for their standing coffee order, and nobody thought about increasing the standing order, because they know that no one will jump because there isn't any free coffee. So go across the street, buy some coffee, and either shut the fuck up or go get a real job. You're embarrassing me.
I stand by that. However, I must also say that Zamsky either doesn't visit his own review space, or he is a firm believer in Rule No. 1, because pretty much everything he said about Compliance's facility is wrong. They aren't the worst, nor are they unique. Every agency tries to minimize costs however they can. You can bitch about it -- I do, obviously -- but you really can't change it. You need to either find another line of work, shut the fuck up, or start a blog. At least then you can vent.

The article is pretty good and I recommend it. I also recommend the Above the Law piece I linked above. I don't think either one really pays enough attention to the likelihood that temps in this country are going to be phased out in the next few years by low-cost alternatives overseas and technology, but that is maybe a topic for another day. At least if that happens, temps will quit bitching about temping. Of course, they'll probably bitch about whatever job they find themselves in afterward.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What kind of response do they expect?

On Wednesday, some agency put an ad up on The Posse List for a project starting sometime next week. Naturally, they wanted particular expertise and a DC Bar membership. Other aspects of the ad make this particularly attractive:
DC barred contract attorney(s) needed for research project in the aerospace industry, IP attorneys with engineering/technical background preferred.
Details:
*Must be DC barred
*In DC near metro
*Phone interview required
*One week or less in duration
*No OT expected
*Starts mid next week
*Pay rate depends on experience, will be competitive
Please send resumes to [an agency I don't think I've ever worked for] for consideration.
Seriously, less than a week with no OT, and you want me to have IP/engineering experience and go through a phone interview? I know the market is bad, but this kind of thing is ludicrous. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon. They'll get someone who has experience in the aerospace industry (having flown on airplanes numerous times) and doesn't mind a short project with no OT (because he hasn't worked in weeks, so this beats nothing). I'm sure the cream of the crop will be beating down their door.

I guess this counts as snow

Unexpected -- at least as far as I was concerned -- overnight snow. I had heard rumors of flurries, but no accumulation. Looked out this morning, saw there was maybe a quarter inch on the ground and cars, but nothing on any pavement. Still, consistent with the patter of much more measurable snowfall this winter than in the last two or three years.

Here we are looking left:


And looking right:


Not much there, but we've already beaten last year's snow accumulation handily. Damn that global warming. Yeah, I know, weather is not climate (unless you are a warming alarmist and you think the weather supports your argument). Don't make me school you. You would be smart to be preparing for a repeat of the Maunder Minimum, or at least the Dalton Minimum. If you don't know what I'm talking about, why the fuck do you buy the man-made global warming horseshit? Just sayin'.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The war on fun continues

I don't know if it is because of complaints from tight-asses, or if the agency thinks we are wasting time on this kind of stuff (hint: we are), but a recent spate of NFL-related trash-talking has been brought to a screeching halt. On this project, we have fans of the Redskins, Packers, 49ers, Panthers, Colts, Broncos, and Patriots, among others. Obviously, the Redskins are pathetic, but the rest are (or were) playoff teams this season. Naturally, the partisans of these various teams have sought to tout their team's supremacy, sometimes even after their team was eliminated.

One way in which this touting took place was by changing the wallpaper on the three internet-access computers. These terminals are outside the work area and can be seen by pretty much anybody, which is part of what made what folks were doing hilarious, and also makes the agency banning the practice somewhat understandable, although not really. Seriously, who fucking cares?

It started, of course, with some digs at the utter shame that was the Redskins' season. Somebody -- hey, I'm not throwing anyone under the bus -- posted this picture as the wall paper on at least one of the internet terminals:


There were others, of course, but it really got into gear as the NFL entered the playoffs. As teams got knocked out, the wallpaper-changes got fast and furious with pictures intended to insult. Like this picture of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady when he suffered a season-ending knee injury several years ago:


Or this picture after the Panthers lost to the 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs last week:


Yeah, that's Panthers quarterback Fig, er, Cam Newton. And then there was this vaguely creepy photoshop of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as Mr. Rogers, from the neighborhood:


Yeah, a little scary. Anyway, there were others, changing minute by minute. I guess the agency got tired of it, because they posted this warning on each of the three internet terminals:
Please do not download any type of file or change background, fonts, themes, or homepage settings. Thank you!
And thus ended what I thought was an amusing, harmless and creative activity. I imagine the agency wants to be seen as putting its foot down and getting the temps back to work. In reality, the law firm doesn't give a fuck about our progress, because they feel no pressure from the other side (why else would be we taking every single holiday off and more) so I really doubt they would care about this little insult duel. On the other hand, the easy-going project manager is gone, leaving us with Capt. Queeg, so maybe the agency isn't to blame. Who knows? But somebody shut down an amusing diversion. I guess they think it helps productivity to crack down on fun. Nah -- we just waste time looking for other ways to waste time.