Tuesday, September 6, 2011

LMAO: Tuesday 6 September 2011

So I'm zipping through the light at the end of Belmont Ave right past Mount Auburn Cemetery, heading into class, when a Tim McGraw song on the radio has me doing a serious belly laugh. You can listen for yourself as long as the YouTube link works, but the short story is this guy who's actually dying is running through the things he's checked off his bucket list, and one of them is "I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu."

I'm pretty sure the belly laugh went the full eight seconds and it was loud enough that some folks in other cars were looking at me and smiling politely.

Dunno. It made me laugh. Of course, strangers look at me funny and smile politely, so your mileage may vary...

Makes me think of yesterday, when what made me laugh was the admonition on the Mike's Hard Lemonade: "Mike's is hard. So is prison. Don't drink and drive." So I think you're all stuck with a semi-regular column here, unless things that make me laugh stop showing up in my life.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Mosquito Post

Everyone experiences mosquitos in Italy. They’re actually worse than the tour groups. Resign yourself now to the fact that while you’ll eat very well, you’ll give back via those vile little bloodsuckers. If it is any consolation, your blood will spawn the next wave that will plague the tourists that follow you, and some Italians too.

Why are they suck a problem? Well, for one thing, window and door screens are a rarity. And it’s hot. So you have some choices to make. Open windows with the chance of some air and the certainty of mosquitos--or a bedroom sauna.

That said, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Italian supermarkets sell little devices you can plug into the wall. They take little tabs that are good for most of the night and seem to help a lot. Get one and a box of refills. I have not been able to find the new Off! Clip-On refills in Italy.

It seems the mosquitos know where all the best restauranti and gelaterie are, so you’re going to get bit. I’ve found that Off! AfterBite works well, as does their Italian product, Dopopuntura. The American product is basically ammonia, which also works well if you’re in a pinch. The Italian product is more of a gel that has other active ingredients. If you’re like me, with that sangue-dolce, then bring some of the American product and get some of the Italian while you’re here.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Tomato Connection

I love Tuscany by train. For one thing—and this makes no sense—I find myself listening to Little Feat when I’m on the train. Little Feat. The beautiful Italian countryside with vineyards and olive orchards and walled cities. Does it really surprise me that there’s a Ben & Jerry’s within the shadow of the Duomo in Florence?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Coca-Cola in Italy

Coca-Cola is my guilty pleasure. But I’ve noticed several places charging upwards of €3 for a 500ml bottle, and as high as €3.80… Crazy. Wine is cheaper by far—it’s possible to get a decent bottle of Vin Santo at the Consorzio Agrario Siena for less than that. Of course, the Consorzio will sell you a bottle of coke for €0.85, so another lesson learned is: look for such things in the little supermarkets you’ll come across.

Another (less American) option is Lemon-soda. It’s like carbonated lemonade. Just as good but without the caffeine, I tend to drink a little more of this and a little less of coke as our vacations progress. But no one ever mistakes me for an Italian…

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Traveling Notes

Some random tips garnered from my travels:

  • If you have one of those hiker's headlamps, pack it in your carry-on! They are invaluable on overnight flights when they flight attendants turn down the lights and occasionally while poking through an unfamiliar room late at night.
  • Wash clothes are rare in some parts. (Italy in particular...) Pack your own in a ziplock bag.
  • Mini moleskin notebooks are great for scribbling notes, phone numbers, addresses and hours, recipes--just about anything. I find one 80 page note is good for a few weeks.
  • The Italian Mosquito, well that's an entire post unto itself.
As always, your mileage may vary...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Switching registrarsfor aleastory.com

It's probably not going to be smooth, but I should be back up (and actually posting) on the 25th.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview Questions

I personally have most of these questions at one time or another in my long and notorious career as a software engineer. Can't remember where we stole these from. Shame. I'd love to credit them.
  • Walk me through a time when you were working on a small team, and the team disagreed with your ideas
  • Tell me about a time when you had to give negative feedback to your direct superior
  • Tell me about a time the system crushed your spirit and turned you into a bitter misanthrope
  • Tell me about a time you overcame your bitter misanthropy and pretended to care about management's fad du jour
  • What is the most entertaining pointed question you ever asked management in a meeting?
  • Have you ever played buzzword bingo?
  • Brainstorm how your diversity will synergize customer-focused quality transactions with our core competencies
  • Tell me about a flawed evaluation metric* you have seen and what it actually rewarded
  • How do you prefer to procrastinate?
  • If you were to "sell out", how much would you want? No, really - how much?
[*] Works best in tag team interviews. The person not asking this question should be scribbling on a clipboard or playing with an iPad or laptop and yell out "Bingo!" at the word "metric".

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thank you dad, may I 'ave some more?

So we have this thing called a "kibble nibble"--it's basically a plastic egg shaped thing with holes on either end. You can open it up and fill it with kibble, and then set it down and your dog can feed himself by rolling it around and gobbling up what falls out. It turns Furbo's 90 second hoover at the bowl into about 3-4 minutes banging around in the living room.

So this morning I turn him loose with it, and hear him banging around in the dining room, getting close to the kitchen where I'm fixing my breakfast. He goes quiet for a bit, and then the kibble nibble rolls a little more, right into my heals. I turn around, and Furbo is sitting very nicely in the doorway to the dining room, looking up at me like the kid from the Dickens' novel.

"Nice job buddy. I'll put that away."

I pick it up and put it on top of the kibble container. Figuring that he's not getting more, he snorts, wanders over and gets a drink and then wanders off. I figure I'll see him on the couch as I head back up to the office with my coffee, but he's no where to be found.

Finally I see him. Snoring in his crate. Tali babbo, tali figlio...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Road Warrior

Finally back home.

Enjoyed the way north today, mostly to myself, up through about exit 8 on the NJ turnpike. We should have snow emergencies every time I travel back and forth to VA. Dry roads all the way to just this side of the Tappan Zee, no snow on the road until CT.

Despite listening to "Sweet Baby James", the turnpike was not covered from 84 to Boston. In fact, the entire road surface was clear to pavement. Can't speak to how it's doing out towards Stockbridge.

It was, however, completely covered from Hartford all the way to the MA border. With 10 miles of that down, it did indeed seem like 10,000 to go. I won't say it was nightmarish. But it definitely wasn't dream-like. Lots of us bushwhacking our way to Boston at 30-45mph. And Reins Deli was closed. And that stupid Exxon next door doesn't have a bathroom. Ended up eating a leftover tuna fish sandwich with some chips and a coke from the floor board cooler while sitting at the rest stop just after.

11 hours total.

Big shout out to Lieutenant I-Forgot-Your-Name, who pulled me over just east of Danbury on the trip down. He read me the riot act for passing on the right and generally driving like a jerk, but very kindly didn't write me up. I got my mind right and spent (most of) the rest of the trip down and back in the right lane (getting passed while) sticking pretty close to the speed limit. He'd be happy, I think.