mytopleft

Friday, February 28, 2014

Barry plans sternly worded letter to Putin over 'uncontested arrival' of Russian troops in Ukraine.

Boy, that'll show him. Thank God Russia is not invading Ukraine by sending troops into Ukrainian territory -- it's just an "uncontested arrival." That characterization sounds vaguely reminiscent of how Nazi Germany took over Norway -- hey, kids, no fighting, so it wasn't an invasion, right? Certainly it is all the indication anybody, especially good old Vlad Putin, the cupcake who runs Russia, needs to know that Russia can do whatever it wants in Ukraine and Obama and the rest of the West -- but especially Obama, the leader of the only country with the wherewithall to do anything meaningful -- will do fuck all about it.

Of course, Barry threatened to cancel trade talks and boycott the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi, Russia. Like Vlad gives two shakes of a rat's ass about that. Does Barry think he gains influence at the G8 by not attending and leaving Vlad alone with mostly European leaders who depend on Russia for natural gas shipments (through a pipeline across Ukraine, no less)? As Ace  would say, Vlad will just tell the other G8 members, "You may have your natural gas. But first, you will blow me."

As it is, The Independent in Great Britain is reporting that Russian troops are in Ukraine:
Russian troops were on the move inside Ukrainian territory on Friday, prompting US President Barack Obama to warn Moscow that “there will be costs for any military intervention”.
Moscow obviously is quaking in its collectivist boots. Barry, after all doesn't intend "costs" to imply we'll do anything -- he just means that it's expensive to send troops into other countries, whether that's at invasion or just an uncontested arrival. And Charles Krauthammer makes it clear Barry intends to do nothing and that the rest of the civilized world is a little surprised at how clear Barry made it that he intends to do nothing:

Charles Krauthammer responded on Special Report tonight saying, “The Ukrainians, and I think everybody, is shocked by the weakness of Obama’s statement. I find it rather staggering.”
Krauthammer thinks Obama’s statement is about “three levels removed” from actual action. He explained: Obama said “we will stand with the international community — meaning we are going to negotiate with a dozen other countries who will water down the statement — in affirming that there will be costs — meaning in making a statement not even imposing a cost, but in making a statement about imposing a cost — for any military intervention.”




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Still holding your breath?

Anybody still holding their breath waiting for me to apologize for not posting lately is either dead or lying about holding their breath, so I'm not going to apologize to dead people or blatant liars. Refer to the title of the blog if that makes you unhappy. Perhaps this will satisfy you:

I have previously written about the so-called art that is on the walls of the agency at which I am working (suck on that proper construction, Preposition Police!). Well, today, an enterprising individual added to that legacy. One of the "art" pieces recently was taken down, and was not replaced. This morning, in that blank place on the wall, someone put up this:


Naturally, as soon as the agency folks arrived, one of them (probably the first one through the door) took the new art down. Pity. I liked it better than the other stuff.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mea culpa. Or not.

Yes, I realize I have been extraordinarily slack about posting lately. Lot of factors involved there. I could apologize profusely, or I could tell you to refer to the name of the blog.  Everybody waiting for an apology take a deep breath, hold it, step to the left and wait for me to apologize. No cheating by taking another breath. The rest of you, well, Eff You.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apparently, we will not rock and roll all night

 Because of a dispute over which lineup of band members to use, KISS will not play during their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April:
The 40-year-old group is unable to agree on which lineup should perform during the April 10 ceremony in New York City, and has decided not to plug in at all.
The dispute concerns whether original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss would join Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in a live performance, or whether the current lineup of Stanley, Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer would play instead.
Naturally, this sucks. I think two drummers and an extra guitar player would be most excellent. But I was not consulted. Consequently, we will not hear this in April:


Somebody needs to figure this out. Gene, call me.

Happy anniversary, Iwo Marines; Update!

Today is the anniversary of the Feb. 23, 1945 raising of the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi by Marines assaulting the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima. The photo, taken by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, became an instant icon, appearing on hundreds of newspaper front pages and even becoming a postage stamp. Five Marines and a Navy corpsman -- you will have a hard time finding a Marine who doesn't consider their Navy medics every bit as deserving of the title Marine -- raised the flag on top of the island's highest point only four days into the invasion. It would take more than a month -- a very bloody month -- to secure the island, so the raising was mainly symbolic, but it was a powerfuld symbol, and Rosenthal's photo captured it:


On the other hand, the first flag-raising goes largely unnoticed. It turned out the first flag was too small to be seen from the ships offshore, so the larger, second flag was raised. Different people involved, different photogapher.


Iwo Jima, of course, is one of the most sacred events in Marine history, and I intentionally use the term "sacred."  The battle led Adm. Chester Nimitz, the commander-in-chief of U.S. naval forces and of all allied forces in the Pacific, to say, "uncommon valor was a common virtue."  James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, said that "The raising of the flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years," effectively putting a halt to talk of doing away with the Marine Corps.

Of course, the photo is the basis for the Marine Corps Memorial outside of Arlington Cemetary"


Thanks to americanveteranscenter.org  for the photo.

Update: This is a photo of the memorial that sits at the site of the flag-raising atop Mount Suribachi:


Also, there are smaller replicas of the Marine Corps Memorial located just outside the front gate of Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, adjacent to the parade deck at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, and just inside the main gate at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawaii. As the son of a Marine and the father of a Marine, I have been to all three, two of them repeatedly because I lived in those places as a child, and the third, at Parris Island, when I attended my son's graduation from boot camp. All of them are inspiring. Semper Fi, Marines - happy aniversary.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Decadent dessert food porn letdown

Having overpromised, I will now underdeliver. I was hoping for some chocolate-dipped bacon rose madness, but the results a) were underwhelming and 2) didn't turn out well in photographs. I need more practice with making bacon roses -- trust me, I will practice -- and I need a better camera. Perhaps Mrs. Wolves will do the honors next time, as her camera is much more up to the task.

In any event, the chocolate fondue turned out delicious and, pictures or not, bacon dipped in chocolate is surprisingly good. To tease you until I get it right, I give you this:


It was pretty good.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Decadent food porn preview

Can you tell I have too much time on my hands over the holiday weekend. Lots of cooking going on. For this evening, I am planning and appetizer-dessert food porn event, however. A reader sent me this:


That's right, bacon roses. Perfect for Valentine's Day, of course, but surely something for all occasions, as well.

This got me to thinking, so I went looking and sure enough, found this:


Not just bacon roses, but chocolate-dipped bacon roses. Tonight, when Marrying Into Wolves gets here, I plan to attempt to recreate the bacon-chocolate roses. Without the stems, probably, unless I have time to get to a crafts store. Naturally, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Not-really-snowbound food porn

Temperatures hit the 50s Friday, and there was a lot of melt-off, so we're not really snowbound. The roads are clear and folks are moving around as normal for the most part. But that doesn't mean I can't have some more snowbound food porn!

Last night's entry was a hamburger casserole -- excellent wintertime comfort food that happens to be really, really good. It starts like this: a cup of uncooked wild rice, a can of cream of mushroom soup, 1-1/2 lb ground beef, 1 can cream of chicken soup, a small can sliced mushrooms, 1 cup beef bouillon, 3/4 cups chopped celeger, 1/2 chopped onion (I think you should just use a whole small onion. What do I know?), 1/2 cup slivered almonds and 1 bay leaf:


About that wild rice -- hard to find in grocery stores outside of an Uncle Ben's mix. If you're OK with cannibalizing the rice from a mix and tossing the Uncle Ben's seasoning, that works. Otherwise, if your grocery store doesn't carry plain old wild rice, I have a suggestion:


Ordered online, I now have a lifetime supply.

First, pour 4 cups of boiling water over the rice, and let it soak for 15 minutes:


Now, chop up the onions and celery, and sautee them together:


Drain the wild rice (assuming the 15 minutes have passed):


Now add the cream of mushroom soup, the cream of chicken soup, the beef broth and the seasonings. It can get too salty if you use all three salts, so you might want to sub onion powder and garlic power for the onion and garlic salts, and just go with the celery salt. Up to you.


Add the sauteed onions and celery:


 Mix it up right:


Brown the hamburger and toss it in with all the other stuff:


Mix it up right, people, then pour the whole shooting match into a casserole dish:


Top with sliced almonds, cover and bake for 90 minutes. Bon appetit:




Saturday, February 15, 2014

The swordfish is looking a little peaked -- definitely unwell

I've fallen back on the swordfish metaphor lately in referring to this project. The fish is wearing down. We worked Friday, but it was on the two-hour (actually four-hour) delay, so with the early closing recently imposed for Fridays, we only got in a max of seven hours. It sucked, but at least they were all overtime hours for me, having loaded the front end of the week with max hours, knowing the snow was coming.

But the real news Friday was that the paralegals -- also temps, as they got rid of any firm-employed paralegals as soon as the sale closed on our original client company -- got cut to 40 hours a week right after the sale closed. Nobody knew this before -- except the paralegals, of course. Since they won't  want the attorneys working without paralegal support, I think this pretty much guarantees that we'll be cut to 40 hours soon. Probably not next week, because the President's Day holiday cuts our hours anyway, but almost certainly the week after. I hope to be wrong, since the market sucks and I'm not sure I can even find an overtime project elsewhere, anyway. There just aren't that many of them these days. Leaves me wondering: how long before 40 hours pushes me into bankruptcy? The over-under is 6 months. Exit strategy is in the works.

Walking in a winter wonderland

Actually, it's jsut cold and snowy and kind of miserable. And ain't nobody going to conspire by the fire later on. Only one loving it was Jeb the Wonder Dog, who does not seem to realize it is cold. He does realize it is snowy -- and he likes it. So there's me and Jeb, trudging through the field. As you can tell from the lack of other tracks, we were the only ones stupid enough to do so:


Jeb likes to wander far and wide, but he always comes when called, at least when there are no deer to chase. Here he is in the distance, bounding back in answer to a call:


And closer:


And here he is, happy as a clam, romping through the snow:


He's a pretty good dog, I have to admit.

Friday, February 14, 2014

More fun with math and weather delays

We actually worked today, although we were under the four-hour delay policy. One o the guys on the project decided to apply a rational interpretation to the delay announcement and, naturally, got stomped down. Because the feds and the firm weather hotline both said there was an optional two-hour delay today, this guy figured optional meant optional. He showed up at 9:30 am and found the firm guy who is in charge on site for this project was already there. The honcho from the firm told him that two-hour delay meant he couldn't bill until 11 am. In a huff, he sent an email to the agency, laying out his rationale for why he should be able to bill from that moment.

So I got there about 10:30, and this guy was pissed. He had not yet gotten an email response from the agency, but he had the word from the firm: start at 11. He railed at me about the righteousness of his position and announced that he was here at 9:30 and dammit, he was going to bill starting at 9:30. So I told him this: You might be right logically, but the guy who approves your time just told you that you can't bill until 11 am, so sit down and shut the fuck up.

He blustered and fussed, and then he got an email from the agency that said, yeah, logically your analysis is correct, but the guy who approves your time said don't bill until 11 am, so sit down and shut the fuck up.

God, I hate being right.

Snow-bound food porn

I was snowed in -- what could I do yesterday but create food porn? I can't believe you people act like I had a choice. Wait a minute, what do you mean, "you people"?


Anyway, there I was, up to my oompaloompas in snow (official total was 20 inches) I had to do something. Naturally, I cooked. In this case, I cooked jambalaya.

You will start with 2 slices of bacon, diced; a cup or more (taste) of tomatoe pulp, a chopped onion, 1/3 cup of water, 1/4 tsp thyme, some worcestershire sauce, 3 cups of cooked rice, some salt and pepper, 1 tbsp flour and 2 cups or so of cooked ham, sausage, chicken, shrimp, crab, scallops or whatever, or any combination thereof. I went with sausage, shrimp and some scallops:


So dice up that bacon, then sautee it in a pan that will accommodate the whole enchilada. Don't go small:


Now chop up that onion. I won't show you a picture of chopped onion, because if you read this blog, you have seen more than one picture of chopped onions. Chop that onion -- it should be a sweet onion, even if Vidalias aren't available this time of year -- and put it in with the bacon, without draining the grease.


While that stuff sautees -- stir it, people, stir it -- slice some sausage:


I actually don't care what meat you put in your jambalaya. This is what I'm going with. If you want ham, chicken or whatever, do that. But cook it first. Anyway, now brown that sausage:


I hope you are up to multi-tasking, because now you need to turn to the other pan on the stove and add the flower to the onion-bacon mis:


Stir that up right, then add the water to the mix:


Then add those maters (tomatoes to you Yankees):


Toss in some salt and pepper, worcestershire sauce to taste, and the thyme, and bring it to a boil, then bring hte heat down low.


You will now add your sausage and, in my case, some shrimp and scallops I had in the freezer:


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you fixed three cups of cooked rice. I will not insult you by telling you how much dry rice to start with. If you don't know, please contact me through the comments and I will insult you there.


You will now take that rice and toss in in with everything else:


Mix it up right, and make sure everything is heated through. The jambalaya is now ready for you to serve it up, hot and delicious:


Do so. Best in bowls, but if you throw in more rice, it can go on a plate. Your choice.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Here's something new -- a post about more damn snow

And this time it is a lot of snow -- the offiicial total for New Market was 19 inches (and it is still coming down). I guess we're wimps, though -- Walkersville got 19.1 inches. Of course, we have 3-5 inches forecast for Saturday. New Market's average annual snowfall is 25.48 inches (as compared to a Maryland average of 20.61 inches), so I know we're well above that for the season already. Probably working on double, really. But never mind that.

Naturally, no work today, so there goes 12 hours of overtime. Not sure about tomorrow -- no word yet on whether we work. Be nice to know early, so I know whether I can sit up late drunk-blogging, or go to bed. Ah, well.

In any event, work, no work, snow, more snow, whatever, I have some snow pictures. Woke up this morning, had a little trouble opening the door:


So, I went outside, shoveled the porch and walk to try and make it possible for the backup auxiliary dog to go do what dogs do when they go outside:


She wsn't crazy bout the whole thing:


Although on a later trip outside, she decided to snowplow with her face:


Things got buried pretty good:


Like I said:


Still, folks managed to dig out:


None of this bothered Jeb the Wonder Dog:


He managed to strike gallant poses everywhere he went:


He complained that the closeup took something away from the context of the original photo, which resembled the windswept Russian steppes and cast him as a cross between Jack London's White Fang and Dr. Zhivago:


So I hope the dog is happy. I'm so sore from shovelling that happiness is beyond me.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe facts should matter

Part of the problem with the whole global-warming horseshit is that so many people have decided that facts don't matter. All the dire global warming predictions you hear and see in the media are based  on models the predict this or that combined with claims that this fact or that fact supports the models' predictions. The fact is, that is just horseshit.

Put aside for the moment that most lay people who "believe in global warming" (like it was the fucking Easter Bunny or something -- actually, that's a very appropriate comparison) could not explain the theory to save their lives. Shouldn't people be asking how accurate the climate models have been in predicting global warming over the last several decades (since Al Gore tried to make this a policy driver in 1988)? Well, they aren't, and there's a reason for that. The models suck.

Just ask Dr. Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, who overseas the satellite temperature measurements there:
I’m seeing a lot of wrangling over the recent (15+ year) pause in global average warming…when did it start, is it a full pause, shouldn’t we be taking the longer view, etc.These are all interesting exercises, but they miss the most important point: the climate models that governments base policy decisions on have failed miserably.I’ve updated our comparison of 90 climate models versus observations for global average surface temperatures through 2013, and we still see that >95% of the models have over-forecast the warming trend since 1979, whether we use their own surface temperature dataset (HadCRUT4), or our satellite dataset of lower tropospheric temperatures (UAH):
Whether humans are the cause of 100% of the observed warming or not, the conclusion is that global warming isn’t as bad as was predicted. That should have major policy implications…assuming policy is still informed by facts more than emotions and political aspirations.
There you have it. Even if you accept the alarmist premise that humans are 100 % responsible for the warming they say has happened -- and, by the way, the surface temperature record is suspect for a lot of reasons, and even then it doesn't support the thesis -- they have been wrong, wrong, wrong about the magnitude of the impact. If the data don't support the theory, why accept the theory?

The bottom line is, the alarmists argue that the observed facts must be wrong, because their computer models on what the climate should be doing can't be wrong. Does that sound scientific to you?
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A post about a milestone for posts -- No. 1,000!

It would appear that on Sunday I posted the 1,000th post for this blog. Looks like it was this one. So that's a milestone, right?

Sad-face times descend upon project

Things are pretty tense around the project these days. Everybody knows that we're going to get a decision soon on whether hours and/or people will be cut. For the folks who need the overtime just to pay the bills, disappointment is almost inevitable. It seems really unlikely that the 60-hour cap will stay in place, which makes the best-case scenario not very good.

On top of that, there is a huge snowstorm forecast for Wednesday night, almost certainly big enough to force us to miss Thursday and probably even Friday, an hours cut put in place by a combination of Mother Nature and candy-ass bureaucrats. Because the law firm we are working for sets its snow policy by what the federal government does, we are subject to the decisions of the wimpiest, limp-dickiest, most risk-averse bunch of fuckheads the planet has ever seen. Add in the holiday Monday -- this law firm takes all of the federal holidays, and then some -- and I might be looking at a five-day weekend. Unpaid, of course. Fuck me.

Look on the bright side. Maybe if they cut people instead of hours, 1) it won't be me that gets cut, and b) it'll be some dickweed I don't like. So that could still happen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Jeez, Louise, I hate being right

When they announced a cut in Friday hours last week, I worried that the project might not have the legs everybody seems to have thought it did. No defiitive word yet, but my pessimism might be well-placed. The law firm for the new owners of the company is getting a presentation from the lawyers from the old company on options on what to do with this document review. I don't know what the options being presented are, or who favors what, but I know this: the only possible options are leave the review as it is (same number of people, 60 hours a week max); cut the hours; cut the people; end the review until there are new developments in the case.

I think the first and last options are the least likely. So we sit here not knowing what is going on. If I had to bet, I would bet on the review continuing with the same number of people at 50 hours. Alas, I was not consulted, so no one knows what the fuck is happening. The project might be over, it might go for years.

The whole situation has entered the swordfish scenario:
A document review project is like a swordfish on the hook. At first, it's running strong and fast, no end in sight. Soon, though, it starts to get tired, and it starts leaping out of the water, thrashing around in the air and generally getting chaotic. Then, out comes the gaff hook, and the swordfish is on the deck of the boat, almost done. There is still more thrashing around, more chaos, and with that sharp sword-like bill, somebody is bound to get hurt.
And then the damn thing is just dead.
This swordfish might have a lot of life left in it. But it sure is acting sluggish at the moment.

Not really sure what to make of this

From the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, we have this:



Clearly, a number of the older members of the group are not into this. Note the ear-monitors that the younger members singing back-up have, and the dour faces the other guys have. Like most right-thinking people, they fucking hate the French. Daft Punk is like De Gaulle in robot helmets. Anyway, I'm sure they'd rather be singing this:


It was 50 years ago today . . .

OK, it wasn't Sgt. Pepper, it was the first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, marking the official start of the British Invasion and, more immediately, Beatlemania. Here's a short clip:


Here's the whole thing:


The world of music would never be the same.

A little random food porn

Today I made some navy bean soup, also known as ham-and-bean soup. As the second name implies, the primary ingredients are, duy, ham and beans. So, we start with the beans.

Get a one-pound bag of navy beans (you can use great northerns, as well, but it isn't as authentic. Also, navy beans are slightly smaller.). Soak them overnight:


Go to bed. When you get up the next day, gather the ingredients. You will need about a pound of carrots, a few ribs of celery, a hambone (which I hope you stuck in the freezer after you ate a ham at New Year's), chunks of ham (which I hope you also stuck in the freezer after New Year's), and an onion or two, depending on size.


Your seasonings will be salt and pepper to taste, but that comes later.

First, drain the beans, put that water in a soup pot and add about two quarts of water. Put the hambone in there and bring to a boil.


After a couple hours, take that hambone out:


Add the beans and bring that to a boil:


After that cooks for an hour or so, add the chopped celery, onions and carrots:


Bring that to a boil, then turn it down to simmer for an hour or so.


Meanwhile, chop up that ham into chunks:


By the way, this is what dogs look like when you are chopping up ham. They want.


Now add the ham chunks to the soup.


Simmer for a while longer -- long enough to let the ham flavor permeate -- and then go ahead and serve it up, people.

Bon appetit.