30 November 2016

Flan is Yummy and Sort of Easy

Pictured: Hassle
I mentioned that I made some treats. Aside from pumpkin pie and apple pie and samoa cookies (twice) and brownies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I also made a flan. It turned out pretty good. I ate half of it and gave the rest to my peeps that I shared the samoas with. They live walking distance and they have small kids so they're often home and (importantly) they don't mind if I show up with desserts that I already ate a generous portion of, as with the flan. Best kind of peeps.

Getting the caramel right is the hardest part of making a flan. I made a mexican flan with the lechera sweetened condensed milk so the custard part was a breeze. Making the caramel was a bitch. Fortunately I had the advantage of having eaten hundreds and hundreds of examples of flan over the years so I had a pretty good idea what I was aiming for with the caramel.

Took a picture of the finished product but the coating was the real magic. That's the goods right there. Gaze upon it in wonder.

28 November 2016

Getting Caught Up

How was your thanksgiving? Was it good? Did you give thanks? It was a Thursday again this year (weird). Mine was good in that I got to visit with some friends that I enjoy, but not so good in that I made some pies that were merely adequate; the recipe sucked for one of them and then the other one I sacrificed so that my friends pie would turn out better. We shared filling, and she needed more filling for her pie so that it was amazing and delicious. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the greater good. It was tough but I managed. Oh also shitty was my back went out on Thursday. I maybe aggravated it doing some boring and lame yoga poses (I don't do the zany shit any more). So I dunno. Just the cost of doing business I guess.

Did I mention that I made some treats the past couple weeks? I made some treats. It's not all about me but still: treats! Pictured here are the homemade 'samoa' cookies I got from a recipe off ye olde internet. They are no longer called samoa cookies btw, and the recipe got pulled for some unknown reason. Could be that the cookie name is culturally insensitive, or it could be that the recipe was not well vetted. It was obviously something that they built in individual parts and then gave you the quantities for those successful recipes; not much care was given to the amounts relative to one another.

Aside from not being well written, the recipe did not make nearly enough cookie dough relative to the enormous amount of caramel/coconut mixture, and then I needed about 2x as much chocolate as they suggested. In other words it was about what I would expect from a recipe that I got from a popular  internet site that puts shortcuts in almost everything. (Biscuit dough from a can is a regular ingredient.) Upside: The price was right and everything turned out well enough, all things considered.

Photo is from the second iteration because I had enough filling/topping to make a second batch. All I had to do was make more cookies, which was pretty easy since I didn't bother with the doughnut shape cookie called for in the traditional samoa. Rolling and cutting and baking all this was enough of a hassle. Plus it made spreading the topping on a little easier. I ended up sharing most of these with my peeps. They probably took them to work; it ended up being a lot of dense cookie by the end. I could barely eat three or four at a time like I usually do.

23 November 2016

16 November 2016

Colin Nissan is a True Hero for Our Time: Decorative Gourd Season



It's that time of year again! That's right, it's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers. I'm ready. Are you ready? I SAID ARE YOU FUCKING READY? Get fucking ready because it's called Decorative Fucking Gourd Season for a reason, motherfuckers.

Usually this time of year is above average. I hear Fall is lovely in certain parts of the country. Recent events may have crushed dampened your spirit somewhat, but that's no reason to throw in the towel on Decorative Gourd Season. Now more than ever it is essential to fight the good fight. Do not let unrepentant asshats normalize aberrant behavior, and by that I mean fuck gluten free vegan desserts right into the goddamn trash where they belong. What did you think I meant?

Are you lonely and depressed and disappointed and disillusioned? Me either! So I'm going to give this playlist a try, make some desserts. It might be good. It might be rubbish! There's no knowing until you give it a listen. It's like a metaphor for life in that way. First track is very strong, so start there, and see where it takes you. If that's not doing anything for you then maybe try and take a nap.

See you out there.

15 November 2016

Fundraisers: Wade's Army

Me in a t-shirt / Meredith is festive in a cape (She's rad like that)
My gym participates in a fundraiser every year for Wade's Army. It's a good cause, and the group that organizes it donates their time and resources so that all of the money they raise goes to families or groups that support the families with housing or resources. This is important, because most of the money donated to charity goes to the overhead associated with running a business, which is why most charities end up spending more money on marketing than they do on actual support.

So if you didn't already have enough commitments and were interested in supporting an organization that helps families with children that are battling neuroblastoma, then you can go here and make a contribution. If you sign up for the mailing list you can donate next year and get a free t-shirt (weights and man-tights not included*).



* It's very important to stay warm during workouts. Science.

09 November 2016

This is a Motorcycle

Please Build This Please Please Please
We still love fast motorcycles in this space, although tastes have changed and I now prefer bikes that won't make my back hurt just by looking at them. This bike is a concept and it looks lovely. Put a light on it and go bananas.

This motorcycle is from Honda (it's a cb1100 TR) and it has an analog from Yamaha that is already in production. Supposedly that is a pretty good bike to ride. Unfortunately it is also a bug-eyed monstrocity. (What were they thinking?)

Our Long National Nightmare Is Ov- Wait, What? Oops - Our Long National Nightmare is Just Beginning

A lot of digital ink has been spilled over the last 12 hours about Donald "Grab them by the Pussy" Trump's historic win in the presidential election. Like most sentient people that vote in elections* I have some thoughts. Let's do this!

It's hard to be too surprised that Trump won an election when you remember that this country elected George W. Bush twice. He was a historically bad leader and as a result his successor(s) lost elections to a smart, polished, charismatic senator from Illinois. Obama was 'bad' for the country in that he tried to give poor people health care and protect the environment and reduce the absurd wealth inequality that characterizes America. Along the way he encouraged / forced the country to have some difficult conversations about racism. That is to say, difficult if you are a racist, which is something that a great many people are but would rather not cop to, as they find it upsetting. ("Why do people talk about race? It wouldn't be an issue if people would just not talk about it." - something that a co-worker of mine said to me with a straight face, as though a gangrenous infection that runs through our cultural body will get better all on its own.)

The right-wing media machine has been blowing that racist dog whistle long and hard for the past 8 years. Donald Trump was on board early with his birtherism bullshit, but you couldn't throw a rock in this country without hitting a conservative talk radio host or tv host or columnist or twitter egg trying to identify Obama as the Other. That message really landed!

The next big takeaway from all this is that white people don't care what a candidate says as long as he gives them something to believe in. It might be a complete fiction (immigration is not the problem in America, wealth inequality is the problem), but that doesn't matter if it gets people off the couch.

lol you probably thought the key word in that last paragraph was 'believe'. Gotcha, sucker. The key word was the male singular pronoun HE. White America refuses to be governed by a woman. Educated white America, uneducated white America, male white America, and female white America all voted the same way: Trump. Men by a wide margin (~70% Trump / 30% Clinton), women less so (54% Trump / 43% Clinton), but you can see the numbers and results right there for yourself. These facts are hard to reconcile given all the things that Trump said during his campaign. He is not religious, he had little support from the party. If Trump were even marginally qualified for office we could point to other factors. Fortunately(?) for us he is not, and this throws the gender and racism in the system into stark relief. Welcome to America! It's exactly as dumb as it looks on TV.

Look forward to four years of dismantling Obama's legacy on health care, the environment, wealth inequality (rich people are about to get even richer!), gender inequality, gay rights, and more. This country takes one step forward, three steps back. White America is stupid far beyond science's ability to accurately predict. Fuck them, and fuck Donald Trump.


* And unlike Donald Trump , who voted for only the second time in his life in this election; he is seventy years old.

02 November 2016

Election 2016! PREDICTIONS!!1!ELEVEN!!!


Hilary Clinton is a not a great presidential candidate. I never in my life thought I would consider voting for a Republican president. I am not wealthy by GOP standards. I am not religious. And I am not obviously stupid enough to vote against my own interests. That the GOP promotes and enables religious fanatics and similar idiots does limit my options, but still: Hilary is not a strong candidate. If the GOP could field a decent alternative then they had a real chance at my vote.

The GOP did not field a decent alternative. The GOP trotted out a bunch of clown shoes masquerading as Serious Men of Leadership and Seriousness. The clown that won the party's nomination is historically bad.

There are alternatives to the two mainstream party candidates. These alternatives are also not good. At all. (Hat tip to Jeffy for the video recommendation.)

Is this the best America can do? It seems so, for now. 

In a few days days our long - very, very long - national nightmare will be over. I have no idea who will win, but I do know that an asshole will become president. You heard it here first.

24 October 2016

I Have Something I Know That You Want



John Oliver is strong to very strong.
5 minutes of video, but you will need sound.

23 October 2016

Nightmare Fuel: Spider Eats a Mouse

YE GODS WHAT THE HELL
This is all over the interwebs (HONK!) but it's worth revisiting here.

Photo shows a huntsman spider carrying off a small mouse that he, you know, killed, and is going to go eat. A bit of take-away, if you will. Take out? Whatever they call it down under. Who cares? Australia is terrifying. Everything there is poisonous. Even the mammals.

16 October 2016

Your "Smart" Watch is Disposable Trash

Do You Know What Time It Is?
Let's get this out of the way up front: "Smart" watches are trash. I understand that this is a warm to hot take but I feel good about it. Let's unpack their disposable trash-ness.

Some context: In 1992 I bought a stainless steel (unusual for that time, when most Casio cases were resin) Casio Pentagraph DW-7200. I think I paid the princely sum of $120, which is about $200 today, so it was at the high end of the Casio range, mainly because of stainless case and screw down backing. Browsing the internets it seems that most people bought this thing because it looked cool: they liked the dials on the front (hence: 'pentagraph').

Since then I have replaced the band four or five times, and the battery once(!). It is no longer waterproof to 200M but it has served admirably for the past 20+ years. The only threat to its continued service is my own negligence. At this point it's the most reliable object I have ever owned. If everything else I bought lasted this long then the glorious consumer engine that is the American economy would shudder to a screeching halt. And it looks pretty good for what is now officially a 'vintage' Casio.

Contrast this functional, robust instrument with whatever 'smart' watch you like. This device has almost none of the features you can find on your Series 1* Apple "watch" (no retina display, no bluetooth -lulz, no wifi- lulz, no heart rate sensor, no 'watch os2' - whatever that is). It also doesn't have "up to 18 hours of battery life", which is a very interesting feature to offer in a device that is supposed to report the time and date, and also: are you fucking joking? What kind of asshole buys a 'watch' that can't even tell the time for at least 18 hours?

There are other watches that perform marginally better, but for the most part the pattern is the same. It's a micro-computer that integrates with the mini-computer in your pocket or purse, and in that role it is barely adequate. It does do some things, but you can get all of those things from your phone and a fitbit.

Also, let's be honest about what a 'smart' watch is: it's an excuse for someone to check their email and text messages without getting out their phone. So it gives you a new and novel way to be that asshole that is constantly checking your phone. Congratulations?

Will anyone be using these 'smart' watches in 20 years? Hell no. 10 years? No. Five years? Umm, no. In two or three years they will all be obsolete. And you will buy a new one, and then you have a growing collection of junk watches that won't even be as useful as the early-gen Ipods, which were at least viable as external hard drives.

Please don't buy a 'smart' watch. They are bad and dumb, and you are neither of those things. Right? Right.


* Note that the Series 1 is the old, even more trash version than the new version - Apple loves selling you overpriced disposable consumer items more than anyone. Don't people get tired of planned obsolescence?

15 October 2016

Trolley Problem: Solved



Bit late to this but if you are familiar with the Trolley Problem then you will probably enjoy this creative solution. Kid gets a perfect score for fairness; empathy score is, ahhhh, somewhat lower.

Short summary of the Trolley Problem - a runaway 'trolley' is barreling down tracks towards five people. The resulting, inevitable crash will kill all involved. You can intervene by pulling a lever so that the trolley switches to a different track, killing only one person. What would you do?

14 October 2016

Trump Sandwich

Much like the man himself - we know it has terrible taste.

Signboards are kind of a theme this week.

This Will Make You Feel Better



If this doesn't make you smile then I can't help you.

13 October 2016

Microservices: Culture -> Strategy -> Skills -> Tools

(This post is related to a presentation I gave about two months ago on microservices tools. If you don't know what that means and/or aren't interested in it then just ignore. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming shortly.)

I was asked give a talk at a microservices seminar. My job was to cover/demo  the tools used for 'typical' microservices deployments. ('Typical' is a generic term and does not lend itself well to this kind of talk, but whatever.) The tool-specific section of that talk is less important than the overarching themes I explored when I introduced the tools. Specifically, I outlined a hierarchy of dependencies that will enable (or derail) any microservices initiative.* They are, in descending order of criticality:
  1. Culture
  2. Strategy
  3. Skills
  4. Tools
Any organization that attempts to adopt a microservices initiative without alignment in all of these key areas will never reach their full potential. At best they will fumble along with intermediate or haphazard success; at worst they will fail spectacularly.

No strategic microservices initiative will succeed without a culture shift. No amount of brilliant developers and their concomitant skills can overcome a weak or antagonistic strategy. And the best tools cannot help you if you don't have the requisite skills.

If you are considering a microservices strategy and aren't sure what tools to use then it is very likely that you have other, more serious challenges. Is your culture in alignment with microservices principles and best practices? Is your strategy in alignment with your culture? Does your team have the skills to execute your strategy? If so, what tools are they most comfortable with?

Of course there are a great many other issues to consider - that's why Amundsen, et. al. wrote a book. Go there for more information, or use the google. It will not take very long to find more information than you ever wanted to know. If that's not enough then I will unpack each of the component dependencies in a later post (get excited!), but if all you take from this is the four key elements then you are off to a good start.

Thanks for reading.



* None of this happens in a vacuum. I adapted the work of the authors of this book along with some interesting and useful strategic thinking from some other hobby interests of mine.

12 October 2016

Costa Rica is Nice, You Should Go

Click to Embiggen
Liked my trip to Costa Rica well enough. Had some good experiences, and the yoga was great. I took hardly any photos so the only photo record I have is from my friends that were there at the same time. This is one of those photos.

Having my picture taken is a sadness so as soon as the camera came out I made sure to try and get out of the way. Limited success on the photo-dodge but the result is a good example of how I spent most of my non-yoga time in Santa Teresa and surrounding environs: out hiking or at the beach or on the quad to get to different hiking or beach or lunch spots. Good times.

11 October 2016

Van City Beers and Van City Bears

I'm Risk Averse
This is from a couple months ago when I was in Van City. Enjoyed the sign so much I went inside to see what they had in they way of beers. Plus bears are dangerous, and you never know. 

(I didn't see any bears in Van City - I saw a lot of heroin addicts and able-bodied homeless and general street trash but no bears. Go figure.)