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May. 23rd, 2016

Haven't posted in ages, apparently.  Well, I log in to do my 1word1day post each week, then log back out of LJ without even checking the friends feed.  Which means I've missed a lot of things.  Same with Facebook...it's been a couple of months since I've been there.  I don't much like Facebook, but it is handy for checking up on nephews and nieces, seeing invites for parties, etc.  So, I should check it occasionally.
No particular reason for having gone silent.  Busy, but not much more than usual.  Niece's wedding was last weekend - it was the right wedding for her, and very nice.  I like the new nephew-in-law; he's one of those people who can see problems coming and arrange to avoid them - she is a headlong-into-things person, so that will be handy.  In a few weeks, niece #3 will be getting married (niece #1 has been married for years).  It will be a very different affair - small family-only ceremony then a casual party - which sounds like the right wedding for her.
The late hard freeze did a number on the mosquitoes, and I was able to wait until after the freeze to plant the seedlings.  Still working on getting the garden planted; it's coming along fine.  Plenty warm now.
My allergy season is here.  Should be over around July 4.  Until then...drugs.
K's knee replacement went beautifully.  She is a terror when driving those motorized carts at the grocery store, but she missed the tower of oatmeal.
Met up with Z, and with Ski and family, yesterday.  Flower Factory - got a nice cartload of fine things - then Curry in the Box, followed by dessert at the Michoacan ice cream shop.



In which I review a movie from 2014

So, spoilers, but likely everyone who cares has already seen it.  I repeatedly think "oh I should go see that", then the next time I think of the film it's on cable free previews.
Anyway...Interstellar.

It's worth seeing once.  Probably exactly once.  The wormhole bits and alien planets are worth seeing.  It was clear they had a proper physics consultant (Kip Thorne), and they put a lot of time, thought, and money into those visual effects.
The film has a strong feeling of something specifically crafted for IMAX, which is fine if that's where you're watching it, but a bit distracting otherwise.
I can't help it:  whenever I see Matthew McConaughey, all I can think of is those stupid car commercials.
Everything outside of the wormhole story was hard to follow, and hard to care about.
There was something very flat about all the acting, as if the story itself was just an afterthought - the minimum effort needed to get the viewer to the wormhole stuff.  I wanted to like these characters, but I honestly didn't care if they lived or died.  Well actually, I kind of cared about what happened to Murph's brother...but that character was basically ignored until he died off-set.
And what was with that "faked moon landing" textbook thing?  That felt like one of those storylines that any sensible writer would have recognized as self-serving and unnecessary and would have cut from the 169-minute story.

And then there was the other part of the story:  an entire branch of science treated with zero respect.  The volume of questionable agriculture/blight/famine scenes/comments...I'm not even sure where to start.  There was clearly no scientific consultant for this part of the movie.  Pretty sure they never even talked to a farmer.  It felt like they watched Ken Burns' The Dust Bowl, and maybe leafed through a Michael Pollan book, and then ran with it all.
It wouldn't have taken that much effort to come up with a sufficiently-believeable way for the characters to be in the bind they're in.  But the story they used was just a train wreck.
The whole ag story seemed very America-centric:  choosing corn and okra as the last crops.  Plus...corn and okra would not be the "last crops":  the crop that will survive the longest will be something with way more genetic diversity and far less dependence on humans (and fossil fuels) to make it grow.
If there really was a huge famine, then - let's face it - the poor and under-represented would have taken the biggest hit.  So, primarily rich&privileged left...yet here's Cooper, living in this rustic farm house...I'm just having trouble making that whole backstory work.
What was with all the remote-control combines, roaming around when the corn wasn't ready to harvest?  And if there's a huge famine, then why is Cooper so willing to drive his truck through the cornfield?  Isn't that food supposedly all humanity has left?
If the only "crop" left truly is corn, then humanity is already screwed, since we cannot survive on corn alone.  Plus, there must be other plants, otherwise every ecosystem everywhere would have collapsed.  So...there must still be other plants - as evidenced by the occasional tree, and by the bottles of beer they're drinking.  So...how stupid is humanity, if they couldn't figure out to eat anything other than corn.  There are hundreds of edible things in my yard alone:  plants, insects...woodchucks....
And then at the end (a really bootstrappy ending), here's humanity looking pretty healthy and acceptably-fed on a space station.  If that were possible...why weren't we pursuing that sooner, instead of saying that the only options were death on earth or a new world through the wormhole?
It was a very sketchy and disrespectful treatment of the whole biological side of the story.
I would have ecstatically forgiven everything else if they'd made even remotely equivalent efforts on both of the science stories, and not just one.
Rant over.

owl house!

Well, whatever else I get done this weekend, the owl house is installed.
I bought it at last year's Badger Steam&Gas festival - they have many affordable and fine birdhouses, made from scrap.
It's roughly 14 feet up, at the top of the denuded spruce trunk - I felt bad maiming/killing 3 perfectly good trees, but they were shading the garden more and more each year, and making it harder and harder for the propane guy to navigate the path to the tank.  I'll try to make the best of the destruction:  owl house on this one, the other two will be the main verticals for the Proper Compost Bins, with the removed branches forming at least the long wall.  The other limbs have made a brush pile that should house a sizeable wildlife population.  Might use my fine new power drill (Dewalt DWD110K) to drill trendy native bee homes in the trunks.

For the types of owls most likely to show up here (and use a nest box), I did not need to pre-load it with wood chips.
LIkely an owl would prefer something less exposed - if I buy another owl house, it will likely go up in one of the white pines, or the bit of woods out back.  This one overlooks the garden - so, good rodent hunting, I would think.
It's possible it might attract a flicker woodpecker - they're also cool, and seem to do fine around here without nest boxes.
Or, it could attract a squirrel.  Oh well.

better week so far

The talk with idiotboss didn't go as desired.  I really had no interest in having a big Talk; I just wanted to acknowlege that I had talked to otherboss (since otherboss would have told him anyway), and if switching over there was going to mean that someone from that team had to move to this team...it would probably be a net loss for both teams, at a time when neither can afford it, so just leave things as is for now.  Maybe get his ass in gear with the team restructure that's supposed to bring both teams together, with a mutual front-door team...yeah, so he isn't moving very fast on that.

But then I started talking about all the stuff that bothered me.  He interpreted my comments as me "not trusting him".  Which implies that I think he's deceitful or something.  I think many things, but not that - he's honestly clueless.  So now I need to figure out how to redirect him, let him know that my actual point is that I don't trust his ability to accurately represent us.  For which I have many examples.  And I'm not the only one who's given him that feedback.

The agitation I feel is taking up entirely too much of my brain power.  But I did get some good work done over the weekend and today, and I will try to keep the momentum going...a few wins will help me tackle the other stuff.

Good yardwork weekend - that always helps too.  Cleared all the tree stuff from the location for the Actual Proper Compost Bins (blame Will Bonsall's book).  Now to submit a request to Digger's Hotline to mark the area (I know there are lines under there) so I can sink a few posts.  I think the long back wall of the bins will be made of wood from the cleared trees - much hand-sawing to do there.

Food:  threw together some stuff that seems to have made sweet potato and red lentil cornbread - ancho pepper and cumin for seasoning.  Turned out well - dense, but in a good way, and more moist than regular cornbread.  Ate it with pinto beans and garlic butter brussels sprouts; tonight made a black bean - okra - tomato thing to go with the rest.

Went to a gaming meetup with ex-housemate yesterday.  It was nice, but I didn't stay long - non-stop meetings 8:30-4 today; I needed to bulk up on non-people time as much as possible before this week began.

food

Cooking is one way I cope - at least until I run out of clean dishes.  And anyway, I need to eat...and it's better to eat home-cooked.

It's official: I cannot make a light minimalist broth-y soup.  All my soups eat like a meal.  Thankfully, usually a good meal.  The "soup" in the pic is rice noodles topped with a Thai-esque broth (chicken stock, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, lime leaves, fenugreek, Penzey's Bangkok spice blend, peanut powder, coconut powder), with veg (jalapenos, bok choy, carrots, peppers, sundried tomatoes), and topped with a few fried scallops (fried in butter, then I added a spash of sorghum whiskey), and some sardines.

Over the weekend, I learned that one can puree entire (organic) oranges - including skin, minus seeds - and mix them into boxed brownie mix, along with a chopped bag of mixed nuts and fruit.  Turned out well.  I'd gotten the oranges to try Langbein's orange lightning cake, but just couldn't stomach doing something new at the time - even something simple - and wanted to make sure the oranges were used up before they turned.

Last night I used up all remaining fridge veg to make asparagus and bok choy spicy coconut curry - also contained tofu, sundried tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, a small bag of wasabi peas, dry yellow mustard, smoked paprika, ancho powder...other stuff.  MIllet and fenugreek rice.  The assortment of things to stand in for not having any fresh chiles on hand turned out surprisingly well.

yeah a bit more venting

Coworker was abruptly let go today.  I've gotten wind of the possible reason...which would make the expulsion standard company policy - but I flatly disagree with zero-tolerance policies:  any decision worth making deserves actual thought.

It's put that team in a worse position than what they were already in.  That coworker was the sole person for multiple important tasks, and there was no handoff.

After running it past a friend and a couple of teammates, I talked to otherboss about possibly joining his team.  We had a useful talk.  He kind of talked me off the ledge.  I know enough about that team's work to know it isn't a good fit for me - I'm just so frustrated with idiotboss that I thought it might be worth it.  (I didn't relate that last part as a reason for moving:  idiotboss and otherboss are longtime friends.)  Otherboss reiterated his plans to sort of merge the two teams - something I'd lobbied for before idiotboss took over - and if he does then I'll be on the sub-team that I want to be on, doing what I want to do.  But we've been actively talking about this for a year, and progress has been minimal.

Otherboss isn't any prize either.  He's pretty bent on getting rid of one of the consultants.  She has an abrasive attitude (although no worse than his is sometimes), but it's because she's overworked and expected to head off every single problem.  And she does a good job of pointing out potential problems.  She has hurt some people's feelings - but it is totally possible to establish a good working relationship with her.  I know because I've done it.  When she calls me on stuff, she's usually right.  When she isn't and I explain why, she's totally ok with it.  And when she's on your side for an issue, she will fight to the death for you.

I've been increasingly irked with everything lately.  Trying to do the most pressing bits of four different jobs (doing front door analysis of all incoming requests, doing end-to-end development work for 2 projects (one of which is huge), trying to tackle what is now a four-page list of assorted investigations, procedural gaps, miscellaneous urgent requests, and documentation needs, and trying to plug all the managerial holes that idiotboss leaves) - and therefore doing them all way below my standards...so when idiotboss sends me an email asking me to do something, because he didn't bother to take note of what actually needed to be done (it's something we specifically asked him to do last week)...yeah, that burns.  He wants me to write everything up so he can "re-package" it - i.e., send it as if he wrote it.
Hard to concentrate when I'm pissed, so then I get less work done.  Which I cannot afford.  I know what I need is a long vacation, but now we're down even more people (another is retiring in a few months), plus hugeproject is revisiting all tjhe requirements with 3 full-day meetings next week, because the solution changed.

My meds did slightly change about the same time my irritation levels increased...but I really don't think that's it.  Only the one med changed, and just to a level I've been on before with no ill effects.

One-on-one with idiotboss tomorrow, when the talk of moving to the other team is sure to come up.  Not sure yet how that will turn out.  I'd only told otherboss that I wanted a "change of scenery".  Idiotboss has a good chance of prompting me to say something more...honest.

Meanwhile...yes, the resume is being updated. 

lost weekend, geek style

I invited friends over for the weekend.  Friday afternoon I finished All The Chores, so I could take the weekend off.  Head-injury D showed up Friday night, and I subjected him to a few episodes of Rick and Morty.  He had Strat-o-Matic draft in the morning, so went to bed relatively early.

Saturday, jtj608 showed up, and after strat draft and a hearty lunch we settled in for boardgaming.  Later, 'Ski and Schnauzerhaven turned up, so we switched to 5-player games.  K arrived too, and she and I had a nice chat while "the boys" gamed.  More food, more gaming...got to sleep about 3am.

D had to get up early again for more Strat draft on Sunday, then needed a nap before even more gaming.  Things broke up somewhere around dinnertime.  jtj608 needed to gird his loins for the upcoming week (tax season, so currently he's working two jobs).  C and spouse weren't able to join us this time; bummer.

Today, I have vacation.  All heck was breaking loose on Friday when I logged off...but I find it hard to care just now.  It's sunny and warm; I will spend some time outside.  And, I think begin setting up the sunroom for seed-starting.  Last night it rained, and the forecast all week is for highs above 50.

Food for the weekend went well.  Chicken thighs marinated in almond milk and mild Thai seasoning, then topped with "southwest fiesta chicken brats" and the whole thing baked; yeah, it worked, and all the chicken was moist.  Baked beans (3 cans of beans and one bag of frozen blackeyed peas, 2 jars of Renfro's pomegranate chipotle salsa, a big spoonful of allspice, all in the big bean pot and baked as long as possible).  Baked potatoes (I top mine with sour cream, hummus, and baked beans).  And a big pile of veg (fry up 2 onions, some chiles, and 2 bags of whole small green beans, add roasted carrots and mushrooms with thyme, add 3 heads of roasted garlic, a bag of sundried tomatoes, a bunch of pepper, juice of 1 lemon, and some salt).  It was all very fast to prepare and mainly involved shoving things in the oven and waiting.  Plenty of options to satisfy all palates.

Despite getting 12 chicken thighs and a fat tray of brats, we were mostly out of meat after Saturday night.  So Sunday I grabbed a couple pizzas.  Sent all leftovers home with D and jtj608, except for the veg - I'll add some pasta and protein and that will be lunches for a couple days.

Games played:  For Crown & King, Walnut Grove, Cinque Terre, Amun Re, Ticket to Ride:  United Kingdom.

I have curled

Otherteam boss is big into curling.  So last week we had a multi-team "team building" event and he rented the Portage Curling Club for the afternoon; other club members (and otherboss's wife) were there to help train us.

I can see the appeal, but...I have a life; I feel no need to fill it with spending hours prepping ice then shoving rocks around on it.  And it's a social sport with extensive rules and behavoiral guidelines - none of which are my favorite things.  The ice is pebbled, so getting around is pretty easy, unless you go too fast.  Oh, except when you are actually launching the rocks:  for that part, there is a sheet of teflon under the foot that you end up balancing on.  Because my left knee is...not so great...I ended up curling left-handed (so that most of the impact of crouching would be on the right knee).

The next day, muscles were sore from knees to ribcage, but they recovered nicely.  They were troopers all afternoon, then as I started down the stairs to return the brooms to storage...my legs just crumpled.  Stopping a tumble down a stairwell is challenging when both legs stop working and one arm is full of brooms, but I managed.  And, being stubborn, then carefully descended the stairs, put away the brooms, and slowly climbed back up.

In accordance with Wisconsin team-building traditions, afterwards we sat around eating snacks and drinking alcohol.

Otherboss did a good job of providing history and fun facts.  It takes 500 hours to prepare the court at the beginning of the season.  And a full hour to clean and prep it before every game.  The stones weigh 44 lbs each and are made of a granite that is free of imperfections and can only be found in two places in the world; each set of stones costs thousands of dollars. The clubhouse isn't cheap, either, needing some level of climate control for the ice, and multiple machines to prep it.

(As a welcome-to-the-team gag gift a while back, otherteam gave him a pet curling stone - a pet rock with a little handle attached.)

espirit de corpse

Had my annual review with boss.  It was sufficiently glowing for me to not bother pressing the fact that he dismissed everything I did for the first half of the year (when he wasn't our boss), despite repeated reassurances in the past that he would not do that.  And he only listed a small portion of things I'd done even in the last half of the year.  Explaining those other items to him would have been exhausting (he only listed the work he could understand), and I decided it wasn't worth the bother.

There is always a section at the end about what to improve for next year (no matter how good this year was).  He's wanting me to display more leadership - ironically, I'd been intentionally holding back lately because I felt it wasn't right for me to be doing his job for him.  Picking up every ball he drops isn't leadership, it's babysitting.

Anyway,
one of the phrases in that section was "esprit de corps".  Which surprised me, since I would have assumed he didn't know the meaning of the phrase.  Well...he didn't.  When he got to that section, he pronounced it "espirit de corpse", mumbled for a while, then said it was a phrase from D - a boss-of-boss who left two years ago.  So...boss didn't write his own performance reviews, he just plagiarized them from past reviews?

Toward the end of the review, he started talking about how he was a role model for me, that I should look at him and say "this is who I can be in a few years".  Um...no.

At the end of the review, I brought up the story he'd related to my teammates earlier that day, and tried to explain to him how deeply inappropriate it was.  It was the story about him playing jokes on the ex-coworker with severe OCD, by repeatedly moving his stuff.  To be clear, he told this story - and laughed - only days after he'd asked the team for a list of things to improve and had been told (among other things) to stop making inappropriate jokes.

On the one hand, he's an idiot.  On the other hand, he's said he will basically just let me do whatever I think needs doing, since that appears to turn out well.  So in theory, I'm my own boss.  Except of course I'm not, because he keeps mucking things up, so half of "whatever I think needs doing" is cleaning up his messes.  So, I can stay employed there as long as I like, but yeah I still need to be looking for a new job.  The assorted bonus&raise stuff comes in March and April; there's a regular annual company exodus after about mid-April.

Two teammates and I were talking last week, about one of the teams that is glaringly absent from the company, and has been since Conversion.  It would be pretty easy to make a case for how much good that team could do...and the three of us would all love working on that team.  So, that's another thought.  Who to sell it to and how...that's the big hurdle.

warm&fluffy

Some days you just crave...something.  Today was a long day, composed primarily of meetings, administrative deadlines, and covering for my boss so the team didn't suffer.  It was good to get home.

It's a point of personal pride to be able to scour the cupboards for anything that sounds good, then turn it into something decent.  This allows me to address cravings without having to deal with actual people (after 11 hours of...interacting...that's the last thing an introvert wants to do).

Tonight, a small cake.  With no regular flour and no regular sugar.  Texture is perfect.,  Flavor is...unusual, but exactly as expected.  It took care of my cravings, which were somewhere around "peanut butter cups, but warm and fluffy".

recipe...Collapse )


I entertain faint hopes that tomorrow can be devoted to analyzing design docs, and getting the database to give up its secrets.