Sunday, January 31, 2016

I smell something else. It smells like fear, too.

Actually, I think this time it is fear. The project is reaching the point where people are starting to wonder how much longer this swordfish can carry on. The answer, of course, is not much longer. The problem with trying to answer that question, though, can be summed up in two words: imperfect knowledge.

Temps always make their judgments on how long a project will last based on two things: what they are told and what they can see. Sure, I talk about a project being like a swordfish, but most temps don't think like deep-sea fishermen. If they are told a project will last six weeks, they will apply their own private calculus to that and decide that the project will last half that long, or that long plus two weeks, or whatever. They will make a decision based upon their personal experiences. No problem with that.

Well, it appears that the fear factor is rising, as many people seem to be making escape plans. We were told the project would run through Feb. 14. That's one data point, but without knowing how they got that date or what went into the calculation, we have to assume that Rule No. 1 applies. The only question remaining is in which direction will that end date move?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I smell something. It smells like . . . fear.

Actually, it smells like burned popcorn. For third time in four days, some idiot -- Latin for temp --  has burned popcorn in the microwave.

The reason this person -- or multiple persons -- is/are idiots is not because they burned their popcorn. It is why they burned their popcorn. From the first day of this project, it has been clear that the microwave oven in the kitchen is very low wattage and is not up to making popcorn. The microwave pops about 1/3 of the bag and then starts burning what has popped. Happens every time, and has happened every time for about six weeks. Some people are slow learners. Not only do they continue to try and make popcorn in the clearly underpowered microwave oven available to them, they set the timer and then go away, not even bothering to monitor the progress of their intended taste treat.

This approach might work at home, where you are familiar with the microwave settings that will produce primo popcorn. If you are not sure of the appropriate settings on an unfamiliar microwave, that approach might not be a good idea. And in a situation where you know that every attempt at microwave popcorn results in burned popcorn and the smell of death permeating the review space, it might not be a good idea to set the timer and then walk away.

You can't eat that burned-up shit, but we can smell it. All day long.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why, yes, I do see this in Chez Wolves' future. Near future.

This might be the most magnificent food discovery ever: bacon shot glasses dipped in chocolate. Sweet baby Jesus, what's not to like?

Yes, I will be making these soon. Trust me, you'll hear about it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

You sure you want to send that?

Like most projects, and certainly projects of this size, with hundreds of contract attorneys, our primary source of shared project-related information is e-mail. The project managers send us e-mails to keep us up to date on what we are supposed to be working on, protocol for how to deal with documents, that sort of thing. Totally normal for a project like this.

On every large project, though, there are a few people who don't understand that e-mails that are sent to everyone, including e-mails that are sent to everyone and solicit replies, such as e-mails asking if you are willing to work Saturday despite the impending blizzard, are not asking you to reply to everyone who received the email. Alas, on every project, there are people who always hit "reply all."

This project, however, seems to be overrun with people who hit "reply all." I have no damn idea who "all" includes, but I am willing to bet that a fair number of people working for the law firms that we work for are on that list. With that in mind, do you really want to hit "reply all" inquiring about brownies brought in during the storm, as in "where dem brownies"? Should you hit reply all to an unrelated message to let folks know that a name on the attorney list is actually not an attorney at the client but is an attorney at an outside law firm when we were told that about this particular individual on Day One?

"Reply all" actually is a wonderful way to look stupid in front of the maximum number of people. Take the four or five people who responded to "reply all" to an email asking if they would be in on Saturday. They were, of course, supposed to reply to the sender only, who was attempting a head count for HR purposes only. For the five or six people who responded to that email via "reply all," I responded to them individually and thanked them for their dedication to the project and for sharing that dedication with everyone. Oddly enough, none of them thanked me for my gratitude.

Today, I guess, management got tired of that shit. We got an e-mail letting us know that "reply all" is not the preferred means of responding to a message sent to the entire project team. I'm guessing it won't make a damn bit of difference.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The final countdown

As of 3:30 pm Saturday, we had 35 inches of snow in New Market -- more than any other area of Frederick County, and more than any other DC suburb. Plus, we had about 6 hours of snowfall after that, so I don't know what the total was, but it was more than 35 inches, which is a record. Today, we were less concerned with records than getting out. Not an easy proposition:

Snow-nami might be gone, but the snow was not. Much digging Saturday night got my car sort of clear, but with much digging on Sunday Mrs. Wolves got it so you can see the car:

Of course, the satellite dish was buried -- that little black dot on my roof is the very  tip of the satellite receiver. Not getting any TV through that shit. Fortunately, we were able to get to DirecTV through the interwebs and watch the games:

We are going to have piles of snow until June:

With a little luck, they won't be behind our cars:

As of about 7 pm, the HOA plow guys had finally made it possible to pull my car out. I will be back at work tomorrow. Not sure how I feel about that.

Still waiting on a definitive word on how much snow we got, but I'm pretty sure it was close to 40 inches. We'll see what the final countdown is:

We might have had a blizzard, but we still have football -- and game food porn

We had major snow clearing activities today, but we also had AFC and NFC title games. Sure, the satellite was down, but the internet wasn't, so we watched the Patriots lose in between bouts of shoveling the cars out of Tsnow-nami. We did brown sugar bacon dogs:

Miniature lasagnas, which were so good:

And, of course, we did stuffed potato skins:

All in all, a good looking spread.

And all of this was for the early game. Might even have some game food porn for the Panthers-Cardinals. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Darkness falls, and so does the snow

I'm pretty sure we're over 3 feet at the point these pictures are taken -- about 5 pm. People were out shoveling:

But Jeb the Wonder Dog needed to excrete:

While Jeb was about his business -- maybe -- I tried to get some perspective on the mountains of snow in front of my house:

Jeb the Wonder Dog is less of a snow weenie when some shoveling has been done:

Unassisted by shoveling cast-offs, the snow was up to the windows as one of my neighbors:

Jeb the Wonder Dog is, of course, not the only dog in the house that needs to excrete. Sadie the Auxiliary Back-Up Dog also has needs. She likes snow even less that JTWD:

She peed as quickly as possible and headed for the door:

My last check, at about 9 pm, indicated snow had stopped falling. It might just be a pause. We'll see if the Tsnow-nami is over. And how long it takes the area to recover.

I don't think we could let a blizzard pass without a little food porn

Just a little, but a little food porn goes a long way. I've done this one before, so you can see how to make it here, but to get us through the Tsnow-nami, I went ahead and made my mother-in-law's vegetable beef soup recipe, which we call Jean's soup. It's really good:

Throw in some saltines and enjoy.

The downfall of American exceptionalism in one resume

American exceptionalism is the notion that America has risen to its position of leadership in the world -- at least pre-Obama -- because people in this country are free to exercise their talents, to strive to achieve what they desire without being restrained by a class system such as exists in most of the world. People with a dream and drive can achieve that dream through hard work, regardless of their birth. Not everyone will achieve their dream, but American exceptionalism is rooted in the notion that everyone has the opportunity to do so. Alas, things are changing.

More and more, government and notions of social justice -- whatever the fuck that is -- are placing burdens on the ability to achieve one's dream. Government strangles entrepreneurs with regulations that favor big business because of the economies of scale required to comply with those regulations. The social justice warriors among us seek to impose upon businesses a code of conduct that encourages business to ignore merit and embrace a way of thinking that really has nothing to do with business success and has everything to do with equality of outcome, regardless of merit. We used to call this political correctness.

I've long believed that political correctness is strangling American business. Alas, I have another nugget of proof. Under circumstances I decline to reveal, I recently saw a resume submitted by a successful applicant for a promotion at a major U.S. corporation, which shall remain nameless (as shall the applicant). What the applicant cited on her resume as "key accomplishments" left me dumbfounded. They included:

  • Graduate, Women in Leadership
  • Current Advocate, Women in Leadership
  • Executive Sponsor, Inclusion and Diversity Program

OK, seriously? These are "key" accomplishments? How about "successfully led marketing campaign" or "returned region to profitability" or "cured cancer"? Would you have listed "took some bullshit courses?" Of course not. But you took some bullshit courses and then listed them by name instead of saying "Took some bullshit courses." Those are not key accomplishments.

And they are bullshit courses. The titles did not include anything about recognizing people with potential, or getting the most out of staff, or increasing productivity, or anything else that might actually help the company. And even if the courses had been in something that was not bullshit, taking the course is not a key accomplishment. Using what you learned in the course to achieve positive results for the company would be a key accomplishment. This is like calling a children's sports league participation trophy a key accomplishment.

We're doomed.

2 pm and Tsnow-nami continues to try and kill us

I've never seen anything like this. I've always lived in the South -- this is as far north as I have ever lived -- but this is astounding. I realize many parts of the country get this kind of thing routinely, but this isn't one of them. This storm is a record-setter for this area. We're at about 3 feet of snow, and it is still coming down. These pictures are from about 2 pm -- probably 6 inches ago. Here, we have Jeb the Wonder Dog allowing me to break trail so that he can go drop a deuce:

Eventually, he had to go find his own spot. It was hilarious to watch him bounding through unbroken snow:

I think he eventually found a spot underneath a pine tree where the snow wasn't up to his asshole. On the way back, I marveled at how high snow was piling up on our neighbor's dormers:

It is still coming down, of course, but it's now dark. I still have a set of photos to post from about 4 pm. Stay tuned. Power still on, satellite still works. Life is good.

The kitties wanted in on the Tsnow-nami action

Who could deny them, after all? Sure, Mischief wanted to go out. Who wouldn't?

Murder joined her outside, while Mayhem stayed nice and toasty inside. Murder and Mischief apparently wanted to help clear the porch. Or something:

Even so, I think the cold proved to be too much. Mischief led the charge to get back in the house. You can see an amused Mayhem looking out through the glass, refusing to let Mischief in:

Saturday came, and with it, white death

The Tsnow-nami is for real. No shit, today at about 8 am, I had to shovel the porch and part of the walk just so I could open the door and give the dogs a place to pee. First thing in the morning, this was already one of the biggest snowstorms we're ever had in my 20 years of living in the DC area. Here's the view looking to the right from my front door at 9 am:

Moving down the sidewalk a bit and looking left:

At about noon, Mrs. Wolves took Jeb the Wonder Dog out. On the way out, he followed in her footsteps, letting her break the trail. On the way back, the snow weenie bolted ahead of her, using the trail already created to get his wimpy ass out of the snow:

Mrs. Wolves soldiered on behind him:

Yeah, I shoveled again:

But by the time I got around to taking a picture from the end of the walk looking toward the house, the walk was already covered in snow again:

Looking left (east):

And right (west):

More or less straight from the doorway (south):

Yes, still coming down, and expected to until tomorrow morning. Please, God, let the power stay on.

The Tsnow-nami started Friday afternoon

Friday I worked until noon, then went to the grocery store on the way home. But the time I got home -- about 3 pm -- the snow had been going for about an hour and was accumulating nicely. Naturally, Jeb the Wonder Dog wanted to go out the minute I got in the door:

 Things were still looking like a typical snowstorm around here: snow on the ground, but totally manageable. Hell, at this point, it was just a dusting:

Here's what we saw looking back toward the house after getting started:

We took the back way, using the footpaths the homeowners' association put in:

Very pretty in the early snow:

No hint of the nightmare to come. Predictions included a 20% chance of us getting 40 inches in this area. no way, right?

Friday, January 22, 2016

This is what caused havoc Wednesday night

Apparently the dusting we got Wednesday evening -- about an inch of snow -- caused many people to spend hours and hours on the road, with some even sleeping in their cars. This is bizarre to me -- my commute home was only about a half-hour longer than usual, and most of that was because of loser freaks in front of me exercising undue caution. Anyway, this is what cause mayhem on the roadways:

Seriously. You had to look hard to find actual snow:

And yet, you would think it was the end of the world as we know it. Naturally, this calls for a musical tribute:

And we're not even talking about what's happening today yet. But we will.

This storm is fucking with my livelihood, and it isn't even here yet

The minute I called in sick on Monday, I should have realized that a winter storm of Biblical proportions would hit sometime this week and cause me to miss even more work. Bingo! A snow storm of historical size (predicted, anyway) is set to start Friday afternoon (I guess that means today, since it is after midnight) and continue snowing until sometime Sunday morning. DC is supposed to get about 24 inches, and where I live is deemed to be in the 25-30 inch range, with the possibility of 30-40 inches. That is an ass of snow or, as the Marines like to say, a metric shit ton. Any way you measure it, that's a whole lot of white stuff.

Metro, ever bold, ever ready to serve the public, promptly announced that it would be closing Friday night and there would be no more Metro trains until Monday morning. This is a subway system, for fuck's sake. Most of the tracks are underground. I get it, they can't run above ground if the snow gets too deep, but they could keep the underground part running. Nah, too much like work, so they've already thrown up their hands.

So, what did the law firms running this project do? Their reaction yesterday was damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Given the likelihood that I would be unable to get to work during the Saturday blizzard, I didn't really care whether the site is open Saturday, but I had hopes of being able to work Sunday, so this was encouraging.

That  all changed this morning. I used to be an associate at one of the firms running this project, so I already knew they were not exactly Viking warriors when it comes to staying open during major snow storms, but the speed and extent of their collapse on this was pretty impressive. They went from "fuck the weather, we're working" to "actually, we're closing at noon on Friday, we're closed Saturday and Sunday and we might stay closed Monday." Bold motherfuckers, I must say.

On the one hand, I am losing hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to this storm. On the other hand, I get to watch the NFC and AFC championship games on Sunday. If I have power. And if I can keep the satellite dish clear of snow. Believe me, if I have power at game time, that dish will be clear of snow and receiving a signal.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How is this guy still in the business? And why?

I have commented here before about a temp who apparently never wants to work as a temp again. Oddly enough, he is not only on this project I am on, he is a "team leader" or whatever they call the people on this project who are paid more than other temps to be available to answer questions that they are no more prepared to answer than any other temp with a room-temperature IQ.

I find it odd that he is still getting hired, as law firms and temp agencies are notoriously reluctant to hire people with a history of suing their employers. I also find it odd that I really can't find much online about his lawsuit against the firm he used to temp for that he sued. Maybe they settled for nuisance value. I'm afraid to ask him.

Well, that was interesting

All of the DC metro area is talking about the snowstorm of Biblical proportions that is supposed to hit the area starting Friday and running through Sunday. My neck of the woods is currently in the 15-25 inches band, although there is a 20% chance that we will get 25-35 inches. We'll see. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

Tonight, starting at about 5 pm -- perfect for rush hour -- we got what was supposed to be a "dusting" of snow that turned out to be about a half-inch. That's nothing, really, but it has been so cold the last couple days -- highs below freezing -- that every single snowflake stuck. DC drivers, notoriously unable to handle driving in snow, once again failed miserably. Traffic was tangled all over the region, even when I left work at 9 pm (and got to my car at the Metro station at close to 10 pm).

Road conditions just weren't that bad, but all it takes to fuck things up is a couple people who think road conditions are that bad and then turn on their emergency blinkers and drive 10 miles per hour in the left lane. What I wouldn't have given for machine guns mounted on my hood.

Anyway, I got home fine -- although considerably later than usual -- and am now all fired up for the actual snowstorm that starts Friday afternoon. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ah, shit -- why did Glenn Frey have to be the third?

They say that celebrity deaths come in threes. We just had David Bowie and Alan Rickman, so I guess that makes former Eagles guitar player Glenn Frey number three. I was kind of hoping that Grizzly Adams was going to fill the bill, but apparently not.

Glenn Frey, who co-wrote so many of the Eagles greatest songs, died Monday in New York City. He was 67, even younger than Bowie and Rickman, both of whom were 69 when they died last week.  Frey was less of an influence on music as a solo act than he was as a member of the Eagles, but the Eagles were a huge influence on music in the 1970s, and Frey was a driving member of that band.

I said previously that no band I was ever in covered a David Bowie song because we couldn't do it justice. Well, we covered Eagles songs, including ones that Frey co-wrote. The Eagles in general and Frey in particular were much easier to deal with, musically, because the only real obstacle was harmonies. I was in bands that could do harmonies, so we did. It enabled us to cover some of the great Eagles songs, such as "Already Gone" and "Take It Easy." We did others, sometimes on the fly, but Frey was definitely an influence for me and many others.

I have always felt a personal connection to that song because I have actually stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, hitchhiking. No such luck with a girl in a flatbed Ford, I have to admit. I never did more than sing harmony on this one, but it was always fun to perform:

He was not my favorite Eagle, but I mourn his passing. Rest in peace, Glenn.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Can Hillary be president if she's under indictment?

Actually, anyone who thinks that Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a complete Obama flunky, will allow any Department of Justice employee to indict Hillary Clinton is absolutely batshit. It won't happen. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation apparently has about 100 agents working the case regarding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server for public business during her tenure as secretary of state. Previous email releases from the account by the Department of State in Freedom of Information Act cases have revealed hundreds upon hundreds of classified emails, despite Hillary's dogged claims that no classified material passed through her private server -- a claim no on ever believed anyway.

Well, now it would appear that the State Department, despite its protestations of "Private server? What private server?" knew full well what Her Majesty was up to and didn't like it. Naturally, Her Majesty's aides told the State Department to blow, and they said "OK:"
Bombshell emails from the State Department show that a top official at the agency suggested to Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, in August 2011 that the then-secretary of state begin using a government email account to protect against unexpected outages of her private email server.
But as the emails show, Abedin pushed back on the suggestion, telling the official, Stephen D. Mull, then the executive secretary of the State Department, that a State-issued Blackberry equipped with a email address “doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Besides showing that Clinton’s top aides were against the idea of her using a email account, the emails show for the first time that top State Department officials were aware of Clinton’s private email server arrangement.
Security issues surrounding Hillary's use of a private email server have dominated much of the debate, but the primary reason Hillary used such an arrangement -- to avoid scrutiny from Freedom of Information Act requests -- has been curiously less examined. No one believed for a second that the Secretary of State received no classified information over her sole point of email contact from anyone in the State Department, and  subsequent emails have proved that she did, in fact, receive hundreds of emails containing classified information. But the State Department has maintained it knew nothing about the private server -- also an obvious lie, since everyone who ever sent an email to or received an email from Mrs. Bill "I Like 'Em Young" Clinton knew she was not using a email address. The latest email releases prove the State Department knew about the private arrangement:
The State Department — and Clinton — have resisted questions about who inside the State Department knew about and signed off on the private server, which Clinton kept at her house in New York. The FBI seized that device in August after it was discovered that two “top secret” emails had been sent to Clinton.
Besides Mull, the emails show that Patrick Kennedy, the under secretary for management at the State Department, knew of the private server. Kennedy is a powerful figure within the State Department. The career diplomat handles logistical issues within the agency and was the official responsible for requesting emails from Clinton and her aides.
This is, of course, the typical Clinton approach that rules are for other people. That the State Department was complicit in this felonious behavior -- yes, it is a felony to convey classified information over a nonsecure network, and it is a felony to intentionally evade FOIA requests --only shows that the federal government has become no better than a self-perpetuating criminal conspiracy.  Those who want to continue to expand the control of government over the people get a pass from the very bureaucracy that is supposed to enforce the rule of law. Fuck 'em. At least if they keep this shit up, more people will realize that the only solution is tar and feathers.

That would've been a great game if we'd won. The game food was great regardless.

Saturday night, the Packers lost in overtime to the Cardinals in a classic contest, 26-20. Packers scored a touchdown on an incredible Hair Mary pass as time expired, but decided to kick the extra point to tie the score and force overtime. We lost the toss, the Cardinals scored quickly in overtime and we lost. Should've gone for the two-point conversion at the end of regulation. Oh, well.

The game food was anything but "oh, well." We did something new and, as it turns out, magnificent. You start with about 1-1/2 pounds of skirt steak, some salt and pepper, 4 oz. of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, some lemon zest and 3/4 cups of chopped fresh parsley:

Skirt steak was unavailable. Flank steak, my second choice, was available only in cuts much too thick. I went with top round. Whatever you use, make sure it is no more than 1/3 inch thick and at least 4 inches wide. If if fails to meet those parameters, get out the mallet and beat your meat:

Cut it in half width-wise:

Gitcher parsley:

Chop it up:

Take that cheese and spread it over the steak:

Spread the parsley on top of that:

Leave about a 1/2-inch margin around the edge of the meat. Now carefully roll that sucker up, starting at the narrowest end:


Yeah, it should look like that, more or less:

Take a length of butcher's twine and tie it around the middle:

Tie lengths of butcher's twine around the two ends, roughly halfway between the middle of the roll and the end, then cut that bad boy in half at the middle piece of twine:

Depending upon how wide your steak is, you might also cut the roll at the outer pieces of twine, as well. I did, leaving me with eight pinwheels:

Ideally, this is what they will all look like. Not all of them will be ideal:

 On a grill, or in the oven on broil, cook the pinwheels cut-side down for about 6 minutes, flip them and cook for another 6 minutes:

They gon' be good:

I also made some bacon-wrapped tater tots:

Made for a good first wave during the Patriots-Broncos game:

Later, I threw out some brown sugar bacon dogs:

All in all, the food experience was most satisfying, even if the game result was not. Considering how beat up we were, I was proud of the boys. Personally, I thought we should have won, but "should have" does not outweigh the score of the game. Next year, I guess. We'll see what kind of food porn we get between now and next football season.  Bon appetit.