plonq: (Christmas Mood)
I braved cold and traffic to try and do some Christmas shopping this evening. We're not doing a very ambitious Christmas, so I only had a few things on my list for [ profile] atara.

After my first couple of stops though, I began to suspect that I may have left my shopping until too late in the season. Each store was like that cheese shop in the famous Monty Python sketch.

"Sorry, we're fresh out of those. Oh my, it looks like we had a run on those too."

Even so, I managed to come away from the ordeal with a couple of items to put under the tree. Right now all we have under the tree at any given time is cats.


There is an ugly rumour circulating at work just now about how they plan to handle training in the new year. There is talk about them shipping anyone who is in progress out to Calgary and hold them there until they are qualified engineers or conductors, whether that takes seven weeks or twenty. I guess we'll find out in January.


Dec. 8th, 2016 10:32 pm
plonq: (Trying to be cute)
Human rhinoviruses occur worldwide and are the primary cause of common colds. Symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and cough; sometimes accompanied by muscle aches, fatigue, malaise, headache, muscle weakness, or loss of appetite. Fever and extreme exhaustion are more usual in influenza.

Our first big snowfall of the winter timed itself to arrive with my first cold of the winter. I've had worse colds in past years, but this one has decided that my chest seems to be a good place to park itself. If past experience with chest colds has taught me anything, it is that I will probably still be hacking a couple of weeks from now. Apparently my chest is a very hospitable place for cold viruses.

I took my phone out with me when we shovelled the walks during the first night of the blizzard. It does not look like a lot of snow in this shot, but I can assure you there are cars stranded all over the city, with some of the side roads and parking lots still barely navigable. Ah, the joys of living in a cold climate. Now that the storm has finally passed, we are settling into a deep freeze. The words "polar vortex" have been tossed about in the news this autumn, which means we can expect a very long, hard, cold winter this year.

The cats, for their part, are oblivious to the inclement weather. They curl up under warm lamps after dinner and dream of sweet revenge against their oppress... oh, hey, I need that lap!
plonq: (Hipster Mood)
I have heard the expression "dog days of summer", but with our weather the past couple of days, I think this weather is more appropriate to sled dogs. We had a destructive cold font move in on Saturday, and yesterday's daytime high tied the lowest on record for that date. This morning we woke to brisk winds and single-digit temperatures.

The expertise that has kept me employed in my current position harks back to my extensive business knowledge, and my ability to translate business requests into useful reports. When my reporting group got pulled back into IT, the first thing they decided was that we were spending too much time doing reporting and problem solving for the business, so they put a moratorium on that work and assigned us all to projects.

I am currently on two different projects. On the first project, they assigned me the task of establishing reporting standards and procedures for the new scorecard - something way outside of my usual realm of expertise. I sent something half-assed off to my boss last week and am waiting to hear back from him.

In the other one (which, thankfully, is currently winding down) they sent me off to do target-mapping of data. I don't have the proper tools for that, so what I ended up doing was looking at existing data names in a current report and trying to cross-match them against schemas in MS Access.

During one of our daily conference calls, the project manager and developer were puzzling over some duplication of cars on the report. I tried without success to get the car number from them a few times before I finally managed to snag it from a screen they were sharing in IM. I quickly ran an independent query of my own and immediately spotted the problem.

They were puzzling over why they had a duplicate report for the car, each showing at a the same location with a different time, and in a different time zone. I finally managed to get them to listen to me by all-but yelling into the phone.

"Now listen up - the second event is invalid. The first was the valid event that we need to keep, the second was reported improperly. The station where the events took place is at a time zone boundary. When the first - proper - event was reported, the car was moving eastbound, so the event was reported in eastern time. The second - improper - event was reported as a westbound move, so it was reported in central time. That's the way it works at the boundary stations. The second event was misreported, and is wrong. Ignore the second event. Keep the first event."

They considered what I said, then went right back to puzzling over the events as if I had never spoken, so I just muted my phone and browsed Reddit while they worked. Eventually somebody from Operations showed up at their meeting room, and they showed him what was happening on the report they were designing for him.

He said, "The second event is wrong; this why the business rules we gave you told you to keep the *first* event in cases like this."

Well, what do I know? I'm just the guy with 27 years of business knowledge.

Even when I took this shot, I detected a bit of shutter lag and I feared it would be blurry.

It was. I ran a couple of passes of sharpening over it, which ultimately gave it a somewhat surreal look. I liked the feel of the picture, if not the actual look, so I decided to push the processing a couple of steps further to give it a "captured by a security camera" appearance. IMO that works better with the slightly off-focus, over-processed effects in the shot.
Pigeon Shot

Con Crud

Nov. 22nd, 2012 11:45 am
plonq: (Dubious Mood)
In spite of all the hand washing and liberal use of hand sanitizer, I managed to come home from the convention with a minor cold. I am not surprised, as it sounded a bit like a tuberculosis ward at the breakfast buffet on our last morning there. [ profile] atara has managed to avoid the cold so far, but I daresay that if yesterday was the worst it plans to hit me with then I will count myself as lucky.

I don't know if this man was checking in or out, but the automated kiosk was apparently giving him trouble. He spent at least ten minutes at the kiosk while a parade of various hotel staff came by to help him. Just a thought, but when something has not worked after the first five minutes, it may be a cue to step to your right and let a real human tackle the issue.

Anyway, here is another of the hotel staff pitching in to help with whatever was giving him trouble. I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of the surreal, Kubrickesque lighting in the lobby of this hotel, and this picture manages to capture a bit of that.

The bulk of pictures that I took at the con were of the fursuit parade. Fursuit production is starting to reach a point of maturity, which is a mixed bag of blessings in my opinion. On the plus side, the quality of the suits in the parade gets better every year. On the down side, as 700+ suits pass you, there is a growing air of sameness about them. I think part of that is because more people are commissioning them than creating their own. Let's face it, if the choice is between building a baggy suit with an ill-fitting, cut-foam head or ordering a custom-fit suit with 3D eyes and an articulated jaw, who wouldn't spend the extra few bucks for a clean, professional-looking getup? I've been tempted a few times myself...

I am not going to lie - I think I prefer the current state to the droopy, smelly suits of bygone times, but at the same time I do feel like we've lost a bit of the charm. My biggest quibble was the sameness of a lot of the suits, and I am wondering that this is just a transition phase, like when every artist was trying to emulate Michele Light. Anyway, this is just a quibble rather than a complaint. They all had better suits than mine.

A couple more pictures behind the cut )
plonq: (Irked mood)
Even though it is on the wane, the H1N1 hysteria continues...

"You’ve been identified as a [our company] employee critical to maintaining our business in the event of a wide spread outbreak of influenza..."

Except that I have not.

The message goes on to outline how they will be holding special, mandatory town hall meetings for all of the critical management and specialist personal outlining their strategy of distributing Tamiflu® to those individuals in the event of a flu outbreak. The only reason I knew about the message is because a couple of the other managers in the office asked me why I hadn't been included in the distribution list, and one of them forwarded me the original message.

I'm not really upset about being excluded, in fact it's nice to know that I am not considered critical. I will bring this up the next time they try to turn down a vacation request because of an important project.

The traffic guy on the radio this morning launched into a rant about a subject that has been a sore point with me ever since I moved here. Every year when the temperatures begin to drop, the traffic lights around town start malfunctioning. Either they will get stuck red one direction and either green or yellow the other, or they will simply go dark for fifteen to thirty seconds at a time.
We live in a cold climate. )

One would expect that since the city has been situated here for well over a century, somebody might have come up with a way to upgrade our traffic control system so that it does not fail every time the mercury drops, but it seems like every time we get into the double digits, the switches freeze. A large part of the problem is that some of the switch boxes that control the lights here have been in operation since the 1940s. That would also explain why they are constantly, woefully out of sync.

They are affected by the rain as well. Not like it ever rains here. Oh wait, it rains here all the time.

On another annoying front, we got a call from our bank's security department last night. Apparently my ATM card got caught by one of those skimmers that are rampant in this town. When I stopped at the bank today they couldn't tell me where it got scanned, or how long ago it happened. The girl at the bank said that it probably got skimmed months ago, and either the bank had finally got around to identifying my card as being potentially at risk since it was used in the same machine at the same time as others that had been used fraudulently, or somebody (probably in Quebec, since that's our resident criminal hotbed for card and phone fraud) had tried using my card and PIN and it had been flagged.

We keep pretty close tabs on all of our card activity, and we haven't seen anything that caught our attention, so I am thinking it is probably more like the former explanation. In any event, I have a new PIN, and a new card coming to me in the mail. It has the same number as my old card, but this is one of the new cards with the embedded security chip.

The tinfoil hat person in me wonders if this was just a ruse on the bank's part to foist one of their chipped cards on me. They are being pretty aggressive about trying to get those out there. Easier for the black hats in government to track you with one of those.

Or it might just be a case where I need to start paying cash for my porn.
plonq: (Fiddling a variant)
It seemed that no matter which way I turned this morning, the wind managed to blow directly in my face. It was a cruel wind, both biting and numbing at the same time. After enduring it yesterday morning, I swore that I would remember my scarf today. I did remember it today, quite vividly actually. I could see it very clearly in my mind, lying on the trunk at the foot of the bed. This mental image became much more acute every time a gust caught me full in the face, and billowed out the hood on my pull-over like a balloon.

The temperature is supposed to start climbing today, so the chances are good that I will remember to wear my scarf tomorrow.


I have posted before about some of the interesting things that happen when the temperatures drop really low (exhaust fog, snow squeaking underfoot), but another curious thing that happens is that the soles of my shoes freeze when I am walking from the car to the office. By the time I get a couple of blocks from the car, my feet are producing a pronounced "clonk" sound with each step. I may as well don a pair of Dutch clogs before walking down the back hall to the office. Clomp! Clomp! Clomp! Clomp!

The only problem I have with this weather is that it is cold enough to be really unpleasant, but not cold enough to be really interesting. I wish that it would either drop another 15 degrees so that I could do some of those fun cold-weather experiments, or climb back up to normal for this time of year. According to Environment Canada, it is planning to do the latter.
plonq: (Mediocre mood)
I picked a bad day to forget to plug in the car...


Jul. 12th, 2005 08:25 am
plonq: (Blah Mood)
It's time for another episode of "cooking with [ profile] plonq".

At one point last week I found myself in possession of two mid-sized gutted, headless Pacific salmon.  Apparently the expectation was that I would work some kind of magic on these fish to render them edible (it's in your blood when you're born on the coast, don'tcha know?)

I would like to point out that in the past 20 years, my sole experience with preparing salmon has involved dealing with boneless, skinless fillets that I have either cut up and served raw with sushi rice, or cooked on a cedar plank on a barbecue.  On the other hand these fish would have been flopping around on the counter, but for the lack of heads and intestines.  It would be an understatement to say that I was at a bit of a loss.

I searched my memory banks in desperation, and finally settled on an old recipe that I remembered hearing about when I was 8 or 10 - though the recipe called for the fish to be thrown into a campfire, and I wasn't sure how our host would feel if I tried to spark up a fire in his kitchen.  I did my best to improvise, and here's what I came up with:

First I stuffed the fish with butter, brown sugar and lemon juice, then I added a layer of the same on top for good measure.  As an after-thought I sprinkled both fish with salt, pepper and crushed garlic, then wrapped them in foil and put them in a 350' oven for 45 minutes.  The end result was something quite edible.

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