Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Soy-ngriness occurs when your hunger and your revulsion to soy products comes into conflict.
Vegan month was more or less a success. I'd be willing to try it again when we have regular access to fresh produce at the farmer's market. Microwaved beans and rice and broccoli on flatbread is good for a meal or two. Not twenty.

One of the major lessons I learned was what really goes into our food. I had to read every ingredient carefully to make sure there was not animal products in there. I applaud the new labels that specifically state "Vegan" or "Vegetarian" but it was eye opening to see what all goes into meat and dairy substitutes. Most veggie burgers were not allowed as egg white and/or Parmesan cheese were ingredients. Soy milk has about 15 ingredients. Real milk has one. I know a lot of vegans and vegetarians decry the factory meat industry yet the soy products are factory made as well. I'm pretty sure any food from any sort of factory is probably not very good for us.

Mark Bittman's "Food Matters" was a book we received a few years ago that was kind of eye opening. I think our big take-aways from vegan month will be that meat will be consumed sparingly -- either purchased from local producers or only when unavoidable otherwise. Eggs and dairy will be locally sourced where possible. Vegetables, especially fresh, local, in season vegetables will play the main role on the plate.

And for the record, the first fried egg after vegan month was fantastic. The second egg with havarti cheese and bacon was even better. Although a week later I am craving fresh vegetables.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Dear Mitt Romney,
I'm fighting against your imposition of religion, specifically your religious views, on the laws that govern my life. GOVERNMENT IS NOT MEANT TO BE BASED ON RELIGION IN THIS COUNTRY!! This is why we are better than Saudi Arabia.
BTW, please take better care of your pets.
Eat a bag of dicks,

Surging Santorum

So I was waiting for a call to start last night where there were about 6-7 people on the conference call while we waited 30 minutes for the last attendee to join in. While surfing the news, I was a bit appalled by all the articles about Rick Santorum so I visited his website, mainly to send him an email discussing my distaste for his American Taliban-esque stance on social issues.

To my surprise, the website allowed me to sign up to "volunteer" to call potential primary voters. This was after I sent my email to him where we "disagreed" on the issues. The web manager for inbound emails apparently does not talk to the web manager for volunteers.

Anyhoo, I received login credentials to the dialer database. Rather than get in trouble for making harassing calls, I'm just going to post the script they wanted me to use. Then I will post my version of the script I would use.

Hi, is [Name of potential Rick Santorum supporter/mental patient] available? Hi my name is Gorrck Reinheitsgebot and I am calling for Rick Santorum who is running in the Republican primary here in Arizona next Tuesday, February 28th.

Can Rick count on your support? (answer the question at the end)

YES - With his wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, Rick Santorum has the chance to unify conservatives behind a strong candidate who will beat Barack Obama. Your vote could be the one that makes the difference for Rick.

If you want to help Rick even further, we can send you a sign for your yard, or even make you a special primary captain to help with our efforts to get your friends to vote for Rick Santorum.

Would you be interested in a sign or being a primary captain?

Thank you,

This call was paid for by Rick Santorum for President.

UNDECIDED - We have a clear choice between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum is a principled conservative whose family values, deep faith and personal commitment to life and liberty have defined his career as a husband, father and public servant.

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney has spent millions on attack ads to hurt conservatives. Frankly, changing the subject and attacking conservatives is Mitt Romney’s only chance – he’s hoping you ignore the fact that he supported the Wall Street bailouts, the Obama-style individual healthcare mandate, and job-killing cap and trade.

Rick Santorum is the only candidate who can unite the Republican Party and defeat the liberal Barack Obama this fall.

Can Rick count on your support? (answer question at the end)

YES - With his wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, Rick Santorum has the chance to unify conservatives behind a strong candidate who will beat Barack Obama. You vote could be the one that makes the difference for Rick.

If you want to help Rick even further, we can send you a sign for your yard, or even make you a special primary captain to help with our efforts to get your friends to vote for Rick Santorum.

Would you be interested in a sign or being a primary captain?

Thank you,

This call was paid for by Rick Santorum for President.

NO - We hope you reconsider. Rick is the best-qualified candidate to defeat Barack Obama. I encourage you to visit www.ricksantorum.com to find out more information.

This call was paid for by Rick Santorum for President

Can Rick Count on your support? (ANSWER HERE)

VOICEMAIL: Hello, my name is Gorrck Reinheitsgebot. I'm calling Arizona voters on behalf of Rick Santorum for President. We need a proven leader with strong conservative values who will put an end to the out of control spending and bring the American voice back to Washington! That candidate is Rick Santorum. Please visit www.RickSantorum.com to learn more or to get involved as I have in taking back the country. Thank you! This call was paid for by Rick Santorum for President.

Aaaaand this is why I cannot call any of the people in the web dialer application...

Hi, may I speak to [name]? Apparently Rick Santorum thinks you, (yes you!) are worthy of receiving his salvation by voting for him in next Tuesday's Arizona Primary. As you know Rick Santorum is finally starting to overcome that horrible liberal prank where he shares the same name as a frothy mix of lube and fecal matter. Santorum is surging across Arizona! You can do your part next Tuesday!

(Pause for effect)

What? You don't know about the search result when you enter Santorum in your Google search? Do you use Bing? Really? No, AOL? That makes sense. I don't know if it works on AOL. Try it on Google.

(If male answers, continue here, if female answers, continue after section for males).
Since you are a man, you know that Rick Santorum is the strong candidate for men to make sure women are kept in their place. What right do they have to make decisions about *THEIR* body? That's right, they don't if it angers Rick's view of religion. And we like it that way! Hahah, aspirin as birth control. That's rich, and the guy who said it is richer. Thanks to him and his donations to the SuperPAC we have the funds to make these calls! Thanks Foster Freiss!

We don't want that Kenyan usurper to tax Mr. Frosty Freeze -- he's a job creator and a damn fine model of modern Conservatism! Say no to women's rights and say no to socialism (as defined by us!)

(for women)
Really? You support Rick Santorum after his public policy stands that basically are an affront to women and women's rights? Ok, I guess your vote equals a second vote cast by your husband. I weep for the future of this country.

(for all)
Mitt Romney is a robot. There, I said it. Try finding emotion in that man. Your dog wouldn't vote for Romney. Rick Santorum is *THE* best chance for a solid conservative voice in Washington. Rick Santorum is the only choice to lead this nation proudly into the 12th century! [not a typo]

Rick Santorum is not afraid to cry. His tears nourish Chuck Norris. Rick Santorum is not afraid to make choices for his own family that he won't allow you to make for yours.

Can I count on you to support Rick Santorum next Tuesday? Can I have your social security number and your mother's maiden name? Why not? You're considering voting for Santorum, so I figured you might give out that info too. My bad.

See you next Tuesday in Arizona for a Santorum surge!

This call was paid for by Rick Santorum for President.
Why am I doing this? Because I believe that Rick Santorum's stance on social issues make him an absolutely terrible candidate for national office, or any office. This just isn't about "religious freedom" to oppress women, this is about handing the nuclear launch codes to someone who in his heart believes that women's rights are secondary to his religious beliefs. I have no problem with him believing the way he does, but I have a huge problem if he is advocating *HIS* beliefs on the rest of us. That friends, is not America, nor is it freedom. Religious oppression is still oppression.

And the fact that in 2012 Rick's brand of crazy still has him as a solid challenger to Mitt Romney speaks volumes of how divided this country truly is. There are enough people out there that think that Rick Santorum is a *GOOD* option.

After the neo-conservative experiment/disaster of 2001-2009, I will make it my duty to make sure this level of narrow-minded bigotry does not ever hold a position of power again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Month of challenging oneself

For the past few years, my wife and I have used the month of February as a time to give up something we typically consume. Similar to lent, but 12 days shorter and no religious implications other than the acknowledgement that most religions have some ceremonial fasting (footnote: full credit for this observation goes to beautiful wife. I grew up Lutheran, lent wasn't really followed.)

One year we gave up sugar. Another it was cheese. It was surprising how at the end of the month, we consumed less of what we gave up when we resumed consumption and how during the month there were not the crazy cravings.

This year we dialed it up to 11. Vegan.
For the 3 of you who read this blog, here's the difficulty. I'm traveling for a project in the upper Midwest where every salad has meat, let alone cheese. There is limited Asian food.

Even though tomorrow is when the month starts, I started on Monday. And so far so good.

Breakfast on Monday: ful mudammas (Egyptian fava bean stew)
here's close to the recipe we use:

We've tested it before and our vegan friend approved. Stick to your ribs good.

The challenge on the road with no restaurants within 90 miles that serve good vegetarian let alone vegan was solved with the microwave, fridge and local grocery store.

dinners: microwaved some Uncle Ben's rice and mixed with black beans. Served on a tortilla with spinach and hot salsa
Tomorrow: Chick peas and spinach served with diced jalapenos and hummus on flat bread

lunch: flat bread/tortilla wraps with vegetables. Sliced cucumber, bell pepper and sliced mushrooms with hummus and mustard.

breakfast: instant oatmeal made with the in-room coffee pot

Nothing fancy or gourmet, but tasty and filling.

Midwestern mischief

Apparently I've entered a time space vortex and landed in the late 1990s.
I'm in a northern Midwestern state that is either ahead of the flannel revival or never realized that it went away. Somehow I'm wearing the hat of a junior level consultant where the strict rules of projects and travel are enforced. The customer is a generally friendly lot. The project team is a bit different though. I've spent 12 hours in meetings in the past 2 days and 8 hours documenting the meeting notes.

The kicker, I emailed the notes over a few minutes past the deadline (yes, deadline) and 4 (four!) minutes later I received an email that mentioned that the notes looked good (10 pages) *BUT* they needed to be in the official template. I will *not* put the new cover sheet on my TPS report this week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

coding standards

I received an email from the consulting partner company who is the lead on the project referenced in the post from yesterday (1/24/2012) regarding coding standards...

Attention to all [company name redacted] developers, [software company redacted] technicals, and [software company redacted] functionals writing or specifying code:


Your performance and evaluation will be based, in part, on how well you follow the standards and how your code performs.

If, during a code review, your code does not follow these guidelines, you will be required to modify your code on your own time after [company name redacted]'s normal business hours.

Following these standards is a condition of employment at [company name redacted]

...(blah, blah, blah)...

Thank you,

Human Resources Department
[company name redacted]

Where to begin? Maybe from the signature signed from the HR department discussing coding standards requirements. I haven't found much use for HR departments in general, and I usually find them rather inert, but to hold coding standards accountable as a condition of employment? Really?

I think my favorite part is where coding standards will be your responsibility outside of "normal business hours." This begs the question of what are the "normal business hours?" When I was a young consultant, that meant from 8a.m. until 11p.m. or later Monday through Friday and 8a.m. to 6 or 7p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. (Even now I have "office hours" between 8a.m. and 5 or 6p.m. but am online and busy starting about 6a.m. and ending whenever I can safely go offline without leaving someone waiting on a response.) I'll give them that coding standards are important, yet one of the first items cut in a project timeline is documentation, followed by testing. Nice way to make sure the coding is done correctly without having to pay for it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

worker and parasite

So I'm becoming the go-to guy to fix major technical fuck-ups at work. I am getting randomly assigned new projects to help our development team. This week I ended up getting assigned 82 hours of work.

One new project that has already run into trouble is now requiring me to be on site as soon as possible to help fix the situation. Usually this would not be a problem, but apparently the project is structured with 100% travel with a Sunday overnight. And all travel is booked through the parent company travel agent.

I was on the road 100% for seven years. I slowly was able to get to an "every 3rd or 4th week" remote schedule before I was finally able to find employment where travel was not required. During that time, I lost almost every Sunday to travel due to airline schedules and time zones. For part of that time I was single, so the only time lost was mine. Once I was involved in a relationship and married, that time lost was now ours. I will not lose that time again.

Ten years ago the high speed internet was not as widespread and on site was generally required. Now the only reason to travel is to "build the relationship" as my colleague states. There's the rub, I'm the technical "fix it" guy. Regardless of the relationships built with the customers I'm trapped in the technical track.

Apparently the project I've been asked to come in and save is a situation where we've had a resource replaced for whatever reason and I've been called to come in and "right the ship." The primary consulting company's policy is 100% on site. The project is one state away and the travel requirements are Sunday overnights.

I am standing my ground. I will not donate any more weekend time to the corporate machine.