plonq: (Masturbatory Mood)
While we were visiting Ohio on this trip, my in-laws took me to witness something that is apparently an annual event in these parts. It appeared to be a march, where various factions boisterously presented their colours.

When we arrived, people were already gathering in a manner that appeared to be partly organized, but mostly ad hoc. Most were lining the sides of the street, kept on the side walks by a light police presence.
Homecoming Parade

The main part of the march was preceded by a procession of modified cars, but soon it was dominated by marchers carrying banners bearing their colours, and the names of their affiliated groups. These were interspersed with more vehicles, many of them modified to allow groups to assemble and ride on open platforms. Some of the riders would occasionally reach into bags they had brought with them and throw handfuls of small objects into the crowd - especially if they saw children.
Homecoming Parade

Many of the grim-faced marchers carried instruments with them that were often as ungainly as they were loud. They used these to play the soundtrack of their march, keeping time for their steps with staccato blasts and the thud of drums. The police were ever present in the background.
Instrument of Choice

As is often the case at events such as this, the police swept in after the marchers in force to clear the streets and maintain order. After a brief, potentially awkward stand-off with this young bystander, the situation was quietly defused when he picked up what appeared to be a piece of candy from the street and then stepped aside to allow the police to pass.
Homecoming Parade

Apparently they call this a "homecoming parade" - a local tradition to welcome home participants in one of their athletic sports. It was all a bit surreal, but it ended happily enough for all involved.
plonq: (OK...)
Semagic began giving me errors this evening when I tried to post my last entry. I use Semagic because I like the interface, and because it lets me simultaneously post to LJ and Dreamwidth so that I can keep both accounts going.

After playing with it for a few minutes, I discovered that it would let me post to LJ, but Dreamwidth kicked me out with a redirect error. My suspicion was that DW may have disabled the non-secure connection, so I tried changing the settings on my DW connection to port 443, and enabled SSL.


If you are using Semagic to post here and having trouble with it, you might want to try the same fix.

Bang Bang

Oct. 2nd, 2017 07:55 pm
plonq: (Kinda Bleah Mood)
I've been so busy of late that I've been letting my journal lapse again.

I am still technically too injured to continue with training at work, though at the moment they have suspended the training program as part of their bargaining with the running trades unions, so my buggered ankle is moot at the moment.

I moved into the new office today. The other IT guys got there first and claimed the more desirable desks, but in the grand scheme of things, this office has a much better layout than the other one, and there are no bad desks. I really like the new office, and my new desk. We don't have windows on our side of the office, but I can stand up see out the large end windows by leaning over my partition. We have a view looking east up the length of the yard. Not exactly scenic, but it allows a lot of daylight in during the morning.

There was a hiccough or three in the move. The first was when I chose a desk and began setting up my workstation only to discover that both of its network plugs were dead. Rather than move everything immediately, I took my phone to the desk that was my second choice, and its connections were both dead too. Hm. One of the guys from Damage Prevention overheard what was happening, and he explained that they hadn't had enough free spots on the switch for every desk, so they'd picked a couple at random to leave unconnected.

I finally moved to the desk next to the east office which was, in retrospect, probably the best of the three anyway (not only because it had working network ports). Things were going well until I fired up my workstation and saw this:

I was a little miffed about this because I tore down the workstation when I got kicked out of my old desk, put it into storage, and performed the move myself, so I know that it was handled gently and (more importantly) not dropped at any point during the move. I had noticed that the post-it with my name had disappeared from the monitor while it was in storage, and now it is pretty clear that the not did not vanish; the monitor did. Somebody on one of the weekends or other off-shifts swapped out their broken monitor for mine and didn't bother to tell anyone that it needed replacing. Bastards.

The head IT guy in our office gave me the 24" off his desk and ordered a replacement for himself since he is still working out of the other office, so in the end it worked out.

Once I got the computers set up, I got busy taking care of the important things:
Nightmare Moon

I'd have worried about leaving this out in our old office, but we have a very small number of people working in this building, and most of the staff do not have a pass card to get in here.

On another front, we woke up this morning to the news of another mass shooting. I'm sad, but not surprised. It makes me think that there might be some wisdom in the idea of building border walls to keep out the crazies. Right now we share a very long border with a country whose citizens are content with regular mass shootings. We wouldn't even need a particularly sturdy or tall wall to be effective - we'd just need to line it with signs warning that there is socialized medicine and legal gay marriage on the other side, and it would act as repellent to the craziest of the lot.

The original of this entry was posted over at I will keep mirroring my entries over here for as long as LJ does not suspend or close my account.
plonq: (Usual Silly Mood)
I had a weird, work-related dream last night.

At the start of the dream I wasn't actually working, rather I was just out with my younger brother and we happened to be down by the tracks watching them move cars. In this case, the cars were being moved by somebody who was obviously a contractor, because rather than a locomotive, he was driving a Semi that had been modified to run on rails. He was tied onto about a dozen cars, and was trying to back them around a fairly tight bend into what I assumed was a storage siding. The guy was having trouble getting the cars to move, and finally he floored it and they started to move. I remembered part of my training about the dangers of applying too much throttle when pushing around a corner, and even as I thought that, one of the cars in the middle of the cut jumped the rail with its trailing set of trucks and began bouncing along the ties.

I hopped of the car and ran toward the guy, frantically waving a stop signal at him with both arms. He stared at me for quite awhile, pushing this derailed car up the rails before he finally stopped. When he stopped, the slack ran out and the car hopped back onto the rails. Naturally he did not believe me about the derailment, even when I pointed to the trail of broken ties. He yelled at me about how I was killing his productivity, hopped back into his truck, and floored it again.

This time he managed to jackknife and derail the whole track; cars went everywhere.

He was livid. He started screaming at me about how this was all my fault for putting him behind, and how he was going to kill me and my brother. By this time I was back in the car (because he had at least cleared the crossing) and we both agreed that we should probably report this incident - not the least reason being that he was threatening our lives.

The dream transitioned to the office, where I was looking for somebody who might care about a contractor who had derailed a dozen cars and threatened to kill an employee and his family member. The office was mysteriously empty, but I finally managed to track everybody down in one of the large meeting rooms. One of our project leads was out from the head office, giving a talk about swearing in the workplace. The focus of the talk was not what I'd have expected though, focusing on how swearing has been shown to be good stress-reliever, and is a valuable tool when employed respectfully. She illustrated a respectful use of swearing.

"Our new director is a cunt."

Everybody applauded - well, in fairness I did not. I was a bit appalled, thinking, "That's not really very respectful at all, even if she used a fake Aussie accent when saying it. Our new director is actually very nice."

It was about this time that I began to suspect that it was a dream, and I woke shortly after.


Sep. 11th, 2017 10:09 am
plonq: (Somewhat Pleased Mood)
We bought a new microwave oven on the weekend to replace the one that died on Friday. On my list of exciting things to do, buying a microwave oven rates pretty low down the list. A microwave oven is not one of those fun appliances that you stand around and try different things with. Not any more. We all know what happens when you put an egg, grape, puppy (etc) in the microwave oven; it does not end well.

The old one was getting on 30 years old, but it was actually pretty fancy for its time. Many of the ones available at the time still had dials, but mine had push buttons, and pre-sets, and even a meat probe that I never got around to using. It also had a couple of clever ergonomic touches that I have always thought should be standard in every microwave oven.

We did a bit of research before both of us decided that a microwave oven does not require the same level of careful selection as a camera, or a car, or something else that is actually fun to buy. We drove up to Canadian Tire and picked up a free one using our accumulated points there. Our two main criteria was that it should be at least 1000 watts, and large enough to be useful, but small enough to fit the existing microwave stand. It's effectively the same brand as our old one (Panasonic versus Sanyo), so I hoped that some of the features of the old one would carry over.

My favourite feature did not.

The turntable in our old microwave oven always stopped in the same position as it started. If I put a cup of coffee in the oven and hit any amount of time, when I opened the door at the end, the turntable would have completed its rotation so that the handle was facing exactly where I had left it. This new oven behaves like all of the ones in our office (they have 3 different brands strewn about in the break room). When the cooking stops, the turntable stops.

I am left wondering if this was some patented action that Sanyo licensed very briefly and then stopped using it, or if I just happened to buy an oven that was designed by forward-thinking engineers who said, "This would be a really nice little ergonomic touch..." It was just one of those nice little things that one takes for granted until it is gone.

--- The original of this is posted at
plonq: (Please Sir May I have Some More)
We had a very modest dinner this evening (a small, frozen pizza split between us) and I was in the mood for dessert. I suggested walking up to the corner shop for sundaes, but the other half of "we" in the equation was not interested.

I considered moping about it for awhile, but decided to be more productive and make myself a dessert instead. I've made those microwaved, coffee mug brownies in the past with good success, and that seemed like just the right amount to sate my dessert cravings.

It was a smashing success, right up to the point where the microwave oven died about 1/4 of a second after I hit the power button. At first I assumed I had blown the breaker, but further investigation narrows it down to the microwave oven itself.

I've had this oven for almost thirty years, so it really doesn't owe me anything. I guess we'll be shopping around for a new one this weekend (unless we discover that it's just a blown fuse in the microwave itself - we'll pull it out for a look on the weekend before we start spending money on a new one).

I never did get around to using the meat probe that came with it, though I will admit that the thought of cooking a roast in the microwave oven never crossed my mind in all this time.

In work-related news, my company released a notice to the press that they have signed a one-year contract with the T&E and Teamsters that will take them through to the end of 2018. The plus side for me is that it relieves a bit of the pressure off the company to cram as many people through their awful management conductor/engineer training program to have them in place for strike work next year.

This does not mean that I won't get forced into the program again once my ankle is finally fixed, but it increases the odds that by the time they push me back into it, I'll be so close to retirement as to make it pointless for both of us.

I was chatting with a co-worker last week who is in the management conductor pool, and he mentioned a curiosity that he has noticed on the list of people on call for it. He said, "It's weird, but for all the people the are cramming through the program, the number of people in the call pool is not getting any larger."

Actually, it's not that weird at all. Most of the people they are forcing into the program are older employees who they consider less of a flight risk; that is, people who have enough time invested in their career that they will deal with the hardship rather than throw away 20+ years of pensionable service. The problem is that these are mostly people like me, who have been working sedentary desk jobs for decades. Also, the way they treat qualified people in these positions is abominable, often sending them off to remote locations on same-day notice.

"Hey, pack your bags and fly out tonight for ten days in Cousinlove Saskatchewan, where you get to work in a stressful situation with people who resent you."

"Sure thing. The dog and kids can take care of themselves."

Anyway, it turns out that for everyone who qualifies, another one either gets injured, gets medically disqualified (arthritis flared up, heart condition, bad back - you know, the kinds of things that can happen to older, sedentary people who are suddenly thrust into outdoor manual labour around heavy equipment), goes on stress leave because of the awful conditions, retires, or quits.


Sep. 4th, 2017 04:38 pm
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
How is it that I have never before seen this video?!

I purchased this on vinyl many years back when that was still my main means of playing music. At the time, I was just beginning to collect earlier works of Jethro Tull after being introduced to them by way of their Broadsword LP. The album that I purchased came in a plain white sleeve, with the words "NOT FOR RESALE" clearly printed on the cover. The used record shop obviously felt that the warning only applied to new copies.

I really liked a couple of the tracks on first listening, but the rest of the album grew on me over time. This was always my favourite track.

Iron Pen

Aug. 27th, 2017 07:18 pm
plonq: (OK...)
I entered the Iron Pen contest again this year at Furry Migration, and I finished down in the pack again for the second year running. On rereading this one, I can see why I fell short again. I can also see a few mistakes that sneaked into it when I was madly editing it to bring it into the allowed word count (not over 1000 words). My first draft was 1128 words, so I had to do some significant editing.

I would do some clean-up if it was going to go into the con book, but that honour goes to [personal profile] atara for the second year running. She has been on a writing tear of late, and I have always told her she is a better writer than I am. Maybe she will start to listen after trouncing me two years running in this contest.

8<---- losing entry below ----

The beaver could not suppress his giggles as his friend led him, blindfolded, toward what he presumed was the basement of the house. "All I'm saying," he said between chuckles, "is that slapping a blindfold on your best friend and then leading him to the basement seems a little risqué is all."

"It's because it's a surprise," said the goose. "If you could see then it wouldn't be a surprise."

"I could just close my eyes."

"You'd peek. I know you."

"I could peek now," retorted the beaver. He tilted back his head to show the gap between the blindfold and his muzzle. "I see you, Tommy…" he said, peering at his friend under the blindfold. The goose honked angrily and clapped a wing across his friend's face.

"No peeking!" The beaver continued giggling, but he complied with the order while the goose led him carefully through the house and down the back stairs to the basement. Finally, he gently tugged the beaver to a halt and dramatically announced, "Welcome to my secret lab."

"It smells like your bedroom," said the beaver, wrinkling his nose.

"It's multifunctional," said the goose primly. "You may now remove your mask and be amazed on the count of three. One… two…" The beaver whipped off his mask. "Todd!" said the goose with another wrathful honk, but he could not stay angry when the beaver emitted a squeal of delight.

"Omigod that is so cute! Dude, you got a dogbot!" The beaver dropped to his knees to get a closer look at the little dog standing in the middle of his friend's bedroom floor. In truth, it would have been hard to miss the diminutive mechanical beast as it was in a small oasis of clear floor, surrounded by a ring of discarded clothes, snack food wrappers, and other knickknacks that tended to accumulate in an unkept room. "I didn't know your family was rich. How did you afford this little guy?"

"I built him," said the goose with affected humility. He buffed his chest with the tip of his right wing. "That's why I was working two jobs all summer. I saved up every credit until I could afford to download a kit from Earth." He called to the dog. "Watson, speak!"

"Hello, my name is Watson," said the dog in a tone and accent that seemed to be as neutral as one could design.

"Wow, you're already teaching him tricks," said the beaver in hushed wonder. "Is he friendly? Can I pet him?" The goose nodded, and the beaver gently patted the robotic dog on the fake fur between its ears. It responded with a faint whir as its tail activated and thumped rhythmically on the floor. "Did you get him at Dogmart?"

"Got him from Fidonet," said the goose breezily, "and I printed him at the library. I could only print a couple parts at a time, but it was cheap."

"Fidonet?" said the beaver with an incredulous slap of his tail. "You pirated a dog?"

"Do you know how much the bandwidth cost to download this dog?" demanded the goose defensively. "I paid more than what he'd have cost in downloading him. Totally worth it though because he's one of the premium kits. This is Corgi_V2 Model_7, three-time winner of Best in Show at the Kiev dog show."

"Wow, best in show…" said the beaver. He drew it out into a long sigh, and reached out to pat the dog again. He paused with his hand an inch above the mechanical beast's head, and his expression changed. His muzzle scrunched up in thought. "Wait, did you say corgi? I've seen pictures of dogs, and this ain't no corgi. This is, like, a schnauzer."

"What?" demanded the goose. He snatched his tablet off his bedside table and quickly tapped and swiped through a few screens before turning it to his friend with a triumphant sweep. "Well, I've got an assembly manual that says otherwise. Look here, it says Corgi_V2 Model_7." The beaver looked unconvinced. "Fine," said the goose with an exasperated puffing of chest down, "Let's ask him. Watson, what dog breed are you?"

"I'm a mechanical dog," replied Watson unhelpfully, thumping the floor again with its tail. "Shall we play fetch?"

The beaver pulled a phablet out of his coat and held it up. "Computer, show me pictures of schnauzers," he said. The device complied, and the beaver reluctantly turned it so that his friend could see. He felt a pang of sadness when Tommy's feathers flattened and wings sagged as he glanced between the pictures on the phablet and his new mechanical pet.

"They ripped me off," he wailed. "They sent me a bad dog."

The mechanical dog's ears immediately drooped in response to the words. "Disciplinary speech pattern detected," it said in as contrite a manner as its neutral tone allowed. "Please identify my errant behavior so that I may recalibrate my network to avoid this action in future."

"It's nothing you did," said the beaver, patting the forlorn-looking mechanical schnauzer on the head. "It's more of an, uh, existential kind of bad." The little dog's mechanical ears pivoted while it absorbed this new tidbit of information.

"This model is not programmed to contemplate on deeper philosophical matters," it said. "I require additional data on the objective criteria that differentiates conceptual good from bad. How does one calculate a concise measure of bad?"

"Would you bite my sister?" said the goose.

"I programmed not to bite except in defence of my master," replied the robotic dog.

"Would you bite her if she was being a total goober, and I asked you to bite her?" The dog's ear's rotated in thought.

"Yes," it said, "I would bite your sister if she was being a total goober."

"Well you may not be a corgi, but you are a good dog," said the goose. He bent down and patted the little mechanical dog's head with the tip of his wing. "Good dog."
plonq: (Masturbatory Mood)
We likely won't be making it to any of the larger cons this year due to scheduling conflicts, but we drove down to Furry Migration again because we really enjoyed it last year. We like the larger conventions, but there is a certain appeal to the smaller ones as well. With the more intimate venue and lighter schedule, there is a much greater chance of encountering people you know, and more freedom to organise outside activities.

We would like to come back to this one again next year, but it comes so close to my projected retirement date, there is a good chance I will be completely consumed with work activities around the same time as the convention.

The weather was much nicer last year, but we did not allow the cool, damp conditions to put a chill on our activities. We managed to see all of the people we wanted to see, and to go all the places we were hoping to go.
Gloomy weather

Somehow my camera just knows how to pick out the snow leopards in the crowd.
plonq: (Emo Luna Mood)
Dear Mount Hagen Coffee,

I purchased a small jar of your freeze-dried, instant, decaffeinated organic coffee because my experience with the three previous brands of instant coffees I had tried were disappointing, and also I have no self-respect. I can say with some assurance as I gleefully tossed the empty jar into the recycling bin this evening that the coffee therein was not disappointing. I daresay it vile to the point of being insulting. These horrid little crystals bore as much resemblance to coffee as the ashes of a dearly departed. Did anybody taste the product before it was labelled as coffee? I would suggest that a the consumer would be better served if this product was renamed to, "freeze-dried tragedy. Serve hot."

I would not serve this drink to my enemies, though I would venture to suggest that I might make a few by serving good folk this abomination.

If I could find a silver lining in this brew of putrescence, it is that it spurred me into dropping all pretence of coffee in the evenings, and made me seek out an alternative to decaf entirely. The problem is not that I dislike coffee, in fact I love it too much, and I drink it in all of its full-caffeine forms during the day. I would just like to enjoy the brew in the evenings without disrupting my sleep. I've had some mixed success with whole bean and ground decaf coffee, but I was hoping to get away from the fuss and mess of brewing coffee by lowering my standards a bit - a lot, actually - and and trying my luck with instant coffee.

Anyway, I blame you and the sheer repulsiveness of your product into rendering me susceptible to my next ill-advised purchase: Bambu instant organic coffee substitute.

The product caught my eye while I was shopping for other products, and I happened by the section of the store that offers products like Almond Milk, Flavoured Soy Drink, and other items that tend to serve as a ward people who do not hate themselves. I was intrigued by the label which showed a couple spikes of wheat, several whole acorns and half a fig flying gleefully into a swirling mug of foamy, brown liquid. I held the product in my hand in a state of detached, morbid fascination before I quickly tossed it into my basket lest somebody see me and misidentify me as a pod person. I mean, surely nobody would make a product like this as anything other than a trap to ensnare aliens trying to pass themselves off as humans.

"Hello, fellow humans. Would you care to join me in a cup of beverage made from nuts, grains, and a pulpy fruit normally used for making newtons?"

I had low expectations for this beverage, so nothing would delight me more than to tell you that it was delicious. But it wasn't. It was a disappointment. From the very first cup of hot, steaming, what the hell was I thinking, I knew that I had made a big mistake. I made another cup the next night, and tried adding enough sugar to mask the flavour. No amount of sugar helped. The second cup was naught but sweet regret.

I left both products sitting on the kitchen shelf, untouched for almost a week after that. I finally concluded that I was never going to drink either of them again, and though I am loathe to waste a product, I went out to the kitchen with the intent of pouring both into the sink and recycling their jars. It was when I had both jars in my hands that I performed an act that I can only attribute to temporary insanity, or suppressed self-loathing. I decided that they deserved a proper send-off, and I was curious if their awfulness was additive or multiplicative, so I scooped half a proper portion of each into my mug and prepared it as I would a regular instant coffee.

What I had not anticipated was that their union was neither of those, rather it was subtractive. The resulting blend was not simply not bad, it was actually pretty good. It would be like putting a pug and a shih tzu into a grinder and... well, actually we could stop right there and we'd still have a winning condition. But in this case, it would be like putting two yappy, snorty dogs into a grinder and having a border collie come out the end.

I finished the last of the Mount Hagen coffee this evening, and I have since purchased a brand that was more passable. I am hoping that it will play as nicely with this coffee substitute as its predecessor. I suspect it will. I remember years ago it was common for coffee companies to add chicory to their instant coffees, and it is the main ingredient in Bambu.


Return to Pinawa

Path of The Rock

Happy Birthday CanadaHappy Birthday Canada
plonq: (Entertain Me)
One of the things I plan to do after I retire is explore local restaurants. My goal is to venture out at least a couple of times a week to sample a wide variety of breakfast and lunch places, hopefully hitting a different one each time. A good friend of mine is retiring later this year, and when I mentioned this plan to him, he immediately said, "Sign me up!"

Ultimately I want to walk or cycle to as many of them as I can, or walk there and take the bus home again; the idea is to get exercise as well as a meal. My plan for my retirement years does not consist of sitting on my butt as I slowly fade away.

I know it's not a unique or new idea, but I am also planning to BLOG about the places as I visit them. I am torn between creating a public BLOG for it (maybe see if I can coax my dear wife to give me some space on one that she has already created), or just post it here.

I may experiment with a few formats before I settle on something consistent, so please bear with me. Also, don't expect a lot of entries on this until I'm actually retired in a year.

Relli's Breakfast & More
Home Style Cooking

Attached to the Green Brier Inn, North Main St, Winnipeg

August 11, 2017

[personal profile] atara and I spotted this new place when we were walking down Main Street a couple of weeks ago to hit up a local butcher shop. There have been a couple of other restaurants that have set up shop in the front of the Green Brier over the years, but each has looked sketchier than the one before.

At this point I should probably give some background on the Green Brier itself. This is a pub located in the north part of Winnipeg, with an attached liquor vendor, and (as I mentioned above) a succession of restaurants occupying the other street-front portion of the building. In fairness to the pub, I have only been in there once, and it was long before its renovations a few years ago. At the time when I visited, it radiated an unwelcoming, stabby kind of vibe that caused my friend and I to exchange an uneasy glance before we wheeled and walked out again by unspoken, mutual agreement.

The fact that there was drunken, off-key karaoke taking place at the time did not hurt our decision process.

When we passed this new restaurant (New as of June this year, as I later learned from the owner), I told [personal profile] atara of my plan to walk down there for breakfast at some point during my week of vacation. Yesterday I followed through on that.

Between the gaily painted window - which features a smiling portrait of (who I presume to be) the self-same Relli taking an order, and a grinning cup of coffee holding a breakfast sandwich - and the Venetian blinds inside, I could not see into the restaurant from the street. I dithered outside for a minute, trying to find a write-up about the restaurant on my phone before I finally admitted to myself that I was just procrastinating.

I opened the door and ventured into a rather pleasant, homey little diner. It had five tables in total, one of which was occupied by a family of four, and another by a young woman who was drinking coffee and reading the paper. It did not take me long to figure out that she is the owner's daughter, first when she offered me a menu and told me to help myself to coffee, and again later when I heard her complain, "Mom, I'm not even supposed to be working today."

Mother and daughter were both very friendly, and quickly defused any hesitation I may have felt about trying the new restaurant.

The menu selection was fairly limited - if memory serves me, they offered a maximum of five or six breakfast selections. I glanced over the options quickly before choosing the pork chop and eggs, as pictured below.


The coffee was fine, but not extraordinary. It tended toward the lighter and thinner end of the spectrum for my liking, but it was fresh thanks to the high throughput. If one was looking solely for coffee, I would steer them toward other outlooks first, but I would not actively discourage them from coming here.

I ordered the eggs with my meal sunny-side-up, and they were cooked to near perfection. Most place are pretty good when it comes to eggs, but it is nevertheless a nice treat when they nail it. The potatoes were also handled well. The breakfast potatoes are usually the things I dread most when I try a new place, but these had just a nice amount of crunch where they were browned, and just enough onion mixed in to give them a good flavour. It's possible that they were cooked from frozen, but I'd still rate them around the same level as what you will usually get from one of those family-style chain restaurants.

The rye toast could have been left in the toaster for another minute in my opinion, but I will take slightly light toast over burnt any day. The toast was buttered, but not saturated as some places are wont to do. When I say buttered, I think it is more likely that it was margarined - at least, that's the impression I was left with from the taste and texture of the spread. They offered no sides (jam, jelly, peanut butter), and I did not see any readily available for patrons. They probably would have brought some if I had asked, but I was satisfied to dip the toast ends into the egg yolks and enjoyed it that way. Still, next time I will ask for peanut butter.

The only real disappointment with the breakfast was the pork chop. I have seen some thin cuts of meat in my time, but it takes real skill to shave off a chop this thin. It's not like I think the breakfast needed a thick chop - it was quite filling, and the chop was more for flavour than anything else, and I understand that a thin chop cuts the cooking time during the busy breakfast hours. It was well-seasoned and flavourful. My issue with the pork chop was that it was overcooked. It was not quite reduced to jerky, but it was tough and chewy. One does not want to serve raw pork, but this one would have benefited from a minute or two less on the griddle.

The slice of strawberry and summer melon were a nice finish, but in a small enough portion that I would almost classify them as garnish rather than as part of a meal.

Overall, I would rate the meal as good, but not great. The diner was clean, and the atmosphere was friendly. The food was about on par with what you would expect from a little family-run diner.

I won't actually give a review-style rating for the place since I have only been there once, and I like to return and try other dishes before I actually do a review, so I'll finish with a tentative rating of will return.
plonq: (Masturbatory Mood)
The fencing guys were supposed to come by yesterday, but when we woke to pouring rain in the morning, we were not surprised when they called mid-morning to announced that it was too wet to work. He said that they had another job to finish today, and that Friday was iffy, so we likely would not see them until "early next week".

He did not say what caused the change-up today, but he called at 6:50 this morning and said, "I can be there in 20 minutes."

This is a picture I took in early July, a couple of days before the landscapers were due to arrive.

This is what it looks like now, an hour after the fencers left for the day. )

The fence looks better than we were expecting, so we're willing to forgive them the delays.
plonq: (Trying to be cute)
I have always considered [personal profile] atara and me to be middle-class, if perhaps living a bit below our means.I really don't have much to add on that front, other than to use it as a segue into something I saw on Reddit a few minutes ago. Somebody in /r/AskReddit asked, "What is the most middle class thing you can think of?" I have a feel for how the hive-mind works, but sometimes it surprises me. In this case it was the second highest response in the thread. "I'm really confused, some people are likening middle class to being poor, while others are comparing it to being wealthy. I guess that's why it's middle class."

I found it an interesting response, because I have heard of this before, and it is something that politicians use to pit classes against one another. People who fall below the threshold of middle-class consider themselves to be middle-class because they don't like to consider themselves as poor, and people above the threshold don't feel like they are rich enough to be considered well-off. It is also a symptom of the shrinking middle class. Wages are becoming more and more polarized, but since everyone identifies with the middle class, it's creeping up on us without a lot of notice. Politicians use it by accusing their opponents of waging war on the middle class, and since everybody considers themselves to be middle-class, they feel like the politicians are on their side.

The truth of it is that the fabulously wealthy are waging war on all of us, but they have convinced us that our problems are the fault of the poor. Everyone wants to be middle-class so that they can have somebody to look down on. Nobody wants to be part of the problem. The poor certainly aren't getting any richer, and if the middle earners are getting poorer, that kinda suggests where the money is flowing.

Speaking of middle-class things, after talking about it for years and having at least one contractor flake out on us, we finally got the back yard landscaped into something useful. It had a trashy garden that we had not used in the past three years, and a patch of weeds where a tree stood at some point before I bought this house. Now we have a stone patio, chips, and a small patch of turf in what used to be the spot that served as a patch of weeds surrounding a herb garden.

The only thing missing was a fence. We have the remains of a chain link fence that enclosed the yard when I bought the house. We replaced the front part of it with a black metallic fence, with the intention of replacing the rest of it down the road. When we booked the landscaper, we asked him if he could suggests a fence installer, and he recommended a company with whom he has worked in the past. He said they would coordinate their efforts for efficiency. Then, as one might expect, things started to fall apart.

First, the landscaper seemed to lose our number. We only knew that he had not forgotten about us because one of [personal profile] atara's co-workers knows him, and she let us know that he had run into delays on a couple jobs ahead of ours. In the meantime, the fence installer forgot the part about coordinating with the contractor, and he phoned us to let us know that he was ready to begin work about three weeks after we had first expected the landscaper to show. I let him know that the landscaper had not shown yet, that they were going to be grading the property as part of their work, and that they had specifically asked us to keep a clear path to the back alley. I reminded him that he was supposed to coordinate with the landscaper.

The next day, the landscaper called and said, "Hey guys, sorry it took so long. I'm ready to start now!" I called the fence guy back and advised him that the landscapers were starting their work the next day, and he could come in any time after they were done. He asked us to get details on any underground utilities, and that once that was done, he would let us know when he could start. We got him what he needed, and by that time the landscaping was done, so we told him he was free to start at any time. His response was, "Great! I'll start on it next week."

That was July 12. Next week came and went, then another week. [personal profile] atara contacted him to ask if everything we'd sent him was in order because we were eager to have the fence completed. He confirmed that everything was good, and he'd be starting any time. Then another week went by.

I phoned him this morning to get an ETA on when he would be getting to us, and he said that he was still waiting to hear from the contractor to let him know that he was done.


We told him that. Twice.

He was very apologetic, and promised to start work tomorrow. It should only be a one-day job - weather permitting - so with any luck we will finally have some privacy to go with our new back patio.

I can't shake the feeling that he was intentionally playing dumb to work on higher-paying job sites before he got around to ours, but I'll just be happy to have the fence done and be finished with contractors for the nonce.

Finally, in other news, I have my first appointment with the physiotherapists on Monday to attend to my foot. I asked them about the Functional Ability Forms from work, and the impression they gave was that they are in a position to fill those out for me. The other alternative is to try and get in to see my regular GP again. I'd prefer if these guys could just file them for me - I'll even pay the $25 out of pocket for it if they have trouble direct-billing my employer.
plonq: (Crashing Mood)
It has been a little while since I updated here, so I am trying to remember where I left off.

I think I mentioned the email I got that wanted me to show up for 3 1/2 months of intensive training on very short notice. The news on that is currently a holding pattern. The foot that I injured last year had been troubling me, and after pestering my doctor about it for months, he finally sent me off for x-rays. When I booked a follow-up appointment with him (to renew my prescriptions in case I got sent out of town, and to find out the results of the X-ray), he admitted that he is not an expert on feet, but that there was no obvious breaks or bone spurs. On the other hand, there were clear signs of swelling. He instructed his front end staff to refer me to a specialist.

The hemmed and hawed over it before finally recommending that I go to the Pan Am Clinic. It's a walk-in, first-come-first served clinic, though they prioritize by severity. They took down my details and gave me a number. Forty-five minutes later I saw a triage specialist who took down more detailed information, including the name of my family doctor. Then they told me to return in about four hours.

I had another two hour wait before I finally got in to see an actual doctor, though when I saw the condition of people who they were taking ahead of me, I did not begrudge the wait. He poked and prodded my foot and ankle, asked me a few questions, then called up the x-ray. When I described what had happened last year, he said that the x-ray confirmed it, and he then exactly described the symptoms that I would be having now because of it.

In a nutshell, when I pushed off with my left foot to straighten a draw-bar, the strain caused one of the small bones in my foot to dislodge and cross over one of the other bones. When I was flexing the foot a couple of days later, the pop I felt was the bone snapping back into place. In the process, it tore the tendon. I probably should have gone to see a foot specialist at the time, but it happened over the long weekend, and by the Tuesday, it was feeling much better and seemed to be on the mend.

The problem now is that when the tendon has suffered scarring, and it healed too short. As a result, I experience pain from walking, and shooting pains when walking on uneven terrain, navigating stairs/ladders, or otherwise pushing off from that foot. You don't want unexpected, shooting pains in your foot and ankle when you are working around large, industrial equipment.

Now that I have the formal diagnosis, I need to set up an appointment for physiotherapy where they will use ultrasound and lasers to essentially damage the tendon again and stretch it out properly as it heals. Does not sound pleasant. I also need to get some paperwork filled out for work to indicate that I am under a doctor's care until further notice, and will not be available for training in a safety-sensitive position.


Over the winter I started buying instant decaf coffee to drink in the evenings. I used to buy ground decaf, but it always took me so long to go through a bag of it that it was invariably stale before I got to the end. With the instant decaf, the coffee is bad from the get go, so I can drink it at my leisure.

I have been trying a variety of brands in a quest to find the least awful of them. A couple of them were actually surprisingly drinkable, but the most recent one I bought was a German import that is vile. I had this misguided idea that Europeans know good coffee, so if it was from Germany, it must be good. I conveniently forgot that there are probably still old Soviet factories operating in some of the more remote parts of eastern Germany, and that this horrid product probably came from one of those. It tastes like coffee that was infused with despair and then had all the joy distilled out of it.

When I was out shopping last week, I found a coffee substitute in the organic food section of the store. It was a brand that I had never heard of, made from ingredients that sounded only vaguely familiar. I was both intrigued and repelled at the same time, so naturally I bought it. I made a cup of it the day that I brought it home and it's ... a thing. I tried it again the next day, making it slightly stronger, and adding sugar. It was a ... slightly stronger, moderately sweet .... thing. I can't really come up with adequate words to describe it. It's not what I would call good, but it's not really that bad either. I cannot claim that I enjoyed drinking it, but neither did I dread each sip.

I had a bit of a rough day today (had to spend a few hours dealing with work-related support issues), so this evening I decided to round out the awful with some decaf. I had the German crystals in my hand and briefly considered throwing them in the garbage, but on a whim I brewed up a cup with 60% of the German decaf, and 40% of the coffee substitute.

Oddly enough, the result was actually pretty good. I don't know what weird alchemy happened in my coffee cup, but apparently two wrongs can make a right if mixed properly.
plonq: (OK...)
When we signed up for Spotify Premium a few weeks ago, I thought it would be nice to put together a put together a few play lists for when I am at work, or relaxing at home, working in the yard, plotting revenge, etc.

Instead, what I ended up doing was just dumping every song I could think of that I like, or might like at some point into a giant play list of 3000+ songs.

On the plus side, it means I can hit shuffle and have a personal radio station of just music that I like. The down side is that it's like having a personal university station, where Tommy Dorsey might cross-fade into Killing Joke.


That said, I enjoy the eclectic mix. I don't need to worry about getting bored with Pantera when, likely as not, Michael Bublé will be on next.
plonq: (Kinda Bleah Mood)
I got an email late Tuesday instructing me to board a plane the following Monday (a holiday up here) to fly out of town for an intensive 3 1/2 month training program on operating locomotives. if you do the maths, you will notice that they were giving me three working days notice for a 14+ week absence from home.

Sure. Fine. I'll just open 14 weeks worth of cat food and let them fend.

I told them to get stuffed - though in politer terms. I said that it was a ridiculously short notification, and left me no time to renew critical prescriptions, nor handle other pending issues. One of the issues being the foot that I injured during training last year that has been giving me increasing grief of late - long before they dropped this last minute bombshell on me. I got the results from my doctor on the x-rays he ordered for it, and though there are no visible fractures, he said there is definitely visible swelling. He has advised me to see a podiatrist, or or somebody who specializes in soft-tissue injuries.

When I advised the training department that there was not a chanced in Hell that I would be on a plane to the training centre on Monday, they responded by sending a passive-aggressive missive to my boss about how they had expected to find me "fit and ready" when the call came. He forwarded that to me, and if I had been angry with them before, I was even more angry with them. It appears that all of their communications have been with him - cutting me entirely out of the loop until they could drop a last-second demand on me to show up for training. The only reason I know about their snot-o-gram is because he forwarded it to me and asked for my comments.

I may have been a little acerbic in my reply, and pointed out that they were making some pretty broad assumptions about my immediate health and availability when the note they sent me last week was their first contact with me at all since October of last year. I have still not been directly advised by either my boss, or the training group that I was not expected out there on Tuesday. The communication in this whole management training program is bad beyond the point of farcical.

Something else I have raised a few times, but seems to be falling on indifferent ears, is the fact that I have about 290 working days left until I reach full pension. This means that if they force me into the 14+ week program, and I come out of it qualified as an engineer, I will still have a few months of familiarization and OJT before I am ready to start running trains. They are looking to spend a bucket load of money training me up for, at best, 150 working days of productivity.

As a shareholder of the company, I am appalled by the waste. Then again, this program is as much a social experiment as anything else. The CEO who brought it in here first set it up at our competition when he was running that company. Their board eventually pushed him out the door, and the company immediately began ramping the program down as an expensive a flop. One of the reasons they are still pushing hard to try and shove managers through this program is because of the alarming attrition rate. I don't know the actual figures, but from the results I've been seeing, for every ten people who they force through the program, two become medically disqualified shortly after they complete it, two go on long term stress leave, and another one quits to find work at a company that sucks less.

Go figure.


Jun. 26th, 2017 11:29 pm
plonq: (Somewhat Pleased Mood)
I did a rage uninstall on my phone today, and left an indignant one-star review on Google Play. It is the first time I have been moved to post a review, but these developers are particularly sketchy.

The strange part of it is that this was in response to a game that I've had for a couple of years. This was one of those typical jewel games where you flip the positions of coloured stones to create rows or columns of the same colour in a race against the clock.

The game has always been an ad-supported, but I've avoided installing ad-blockers on my phone because I can tolerate a few ads to support developers. Originally the ads were pretty unobtrusive, consisting of a small banner at the bottom, and the occasional full-screen ad after clearing a few levels. Over time, the ads became more frequent - usually after clearing 2-3 levels. For a brief span they had ads that would automatically bounce you to the download page for one of their other apps on the Play store, and I came close to dumping the game there, but they reverted that quickly after user complaints.

I did not play the game very often - and usually when I played, it was on long plane trips where I did not have net access, so their ad service behaved itself. Even so, whenever I played the game more recently, I noticed that it was up to popping an ad between every level clear, and then interrupting game-play to display full-screen ads. Again, after users pushed back, they scaled it back to ads ever 2-3 levels, and stopped interrupting in the middle of a level clear.

Today their game hijacked my lock screen with an ad. My phone had got an OS update earlier in the day, and at first I thought that Google had finally gone off the deep end. I closed the ad, and moments later it appeared again. I quickly realized it was tied to the Jewels Star, and I jumped to the play store to see if there were any comments. Sure enough, there was a flood of 1-star reviews by angry people who had encountered the same shenanigans.

The really insulting thing about it is that the developers are responding to the reviewers with a boilerplate response:

"ITREEGAMER June 26, 2017
Hello dear customer, thanks for your feedback and sorry for causing you this problem. We designed this lock-screen in order to make your screen more beautiful and protect your battery while charging. You can close it any time by pressing the button on the top-right corner of the lock screen."

The developers know that they have stepped over a line with this move, but based on their responses, they don't appear to care. I have a niggling suspicion that the company that developed this game may have changed hands at some point, because in spite of their irritating ads earlier, they were at least moderately responsive to the user comments. Now they are nudging the line between irritating and outright malware.

I'd recommend avoiding anything produced by these developers.
plonq: (Trying to be cute)
Spotify has become a rabbit hole for me lately.

CBC played a song earlier this evening, and though I tried to get Soundhound on my phone to recognize it, I guess it was too obscure or Canadian or something for the app.

At the end they identified the artist as Buffy Sainte-Marie. I went searching, but had no luck until some dedicated Googling revealed that it was actually a song she'd done with Tanya Tagaq.

Sadly, the song is not on Spotify.

No matter. I added a different song by her that I liked, and grabbed a couple by Tanya Tagaq while I was at it (she's one of those artists whose name I can never remember on demand. "You know - that lady who does the throat singing.")

I knew I had been spending enough time on Spotify when, ninety minutes later, I found myself adding Meat Puppets to my playlist.
plonq: (Emo Luna Mood)
Reddit has taken a sharp turn toward the lower end of the Int rolls since school got out for the summer. I don't know if we've been feeding this current crop of kids a steady diet of lead paint chips, or if 4Chan has sprung a leak, but it has been some time since I have seen such a big influx of herping and derping.

It's not the stupid that bothers me as much as it is the ignorance, and not even so much the ignorance, but the perverse pride that the ignorant take in their own ignorance. People proudly wear their lack of knowledge like it's some kind of achievement badge they earned for drinking the most turpentine without quite dying.

I understand that there are some subjects that will never interest some people. If somebody tells me that they have no interest in learning about a certain topic because it does not interest them, I will take them at their word and try to refrain from being judgemental, even if it is a topic in which I have a great deal of interest. I may consider them a dullard at that point, but I will cede their right to be one. There are matters out there that hold no interest for me, and I am sure that there are people who consider me a dullard for having no interest in learning about their passions.

On the other hand, I hold people in much lower esteem when they preface their statement ignorance with, "I am proud to say that I know nothing about X..."

That declaration can be implied, by expressing ignorance in something that could be figured out with a modicum of critical thinking.

A special lad posted a picture of a carton of Ice Milk today and said, "wtf is ice milk?"

I snarked at him that ice milk is exactly what it says it is.

There was a picture of the product on the carton. His picture included the ingredients list. A moment of critical thinking might have led one to conclude that ice milk is the same thing as ice cream, but with less fat content. Or, you know, just made with milk.

It's not rocket surgery. It just required thinking from somebody with an aversion to thinking.
plonq: (Somewhat Pleased Mood)
A couple of weeks back the CBC morning show was giving some air time to a young woman who was talking at some length on the topic of cultural appropriation. The concept is not new, as it reflects the natural flow of memes and influences across different cultures when they meet. Our western culture is a result of millennia of intermixed religions, cuisine, traditions and language. English is a bastard child of almost too many different languages to count.

Lately - especially among the Tumblerina crown - there is a growing use of the term Cultural Appropriation in a negative light. The suggestion is that people gain a kind of inherent copyright on their language, style of dress, food, music and other things that fall under the shroud of their cultural aegis. This girl had made it her life goal to publicly shame people - mostly those with a higher profile in the community - whom she considered to be guilty of engaging in cultural appropriation.

I don't know what goal she pursues with her end game, but I imagine it's that she wants every culture carefully socked into isolated silos, with no cross-blending of ideas. While I am pretty sure she presents herself as a champion against racism, she seems to be chasing a means to encouraging the kind of isolation and ignorance that leads directly to it.

I think that the concept of cultural misappropriation is one of the dumbest things to come out of this century so far.

On another front, every time I start to think that maybe I'd like to keep working past my earliest retirement date, my company gives me start reminders of why I want out. I will miss the people, and I will miss the feeling of being part of a larger thing. I love being one of the old timers who has forgotten more than most of the newer folk have learned. I was joking with one of the others in my seniority group about how the top three of us had about 110 years of experience between us. Also, my director has made no secret of the fact that he's a bit scared of losing any of the three of us. We are not as technically skilled as the newer folks who have more schooling, but we have a very deep business knowledge, and we actually understand what the data we work with represents.

I got a call at 4:20 this morning from my immediate manager who had a bit of a panic attack over whether one of our key jobs had run properly (it had). At around 10 this morning I got another call because we'd had some issues with a patch on one of our Linux servers (always give us more grief than the Windows servers) and it caused the revenue numbers on our morning dashboard to be low. I was on and off the phone for the next six hours before they finally released me.

I have to be back on again at 1:30 tomorrow morning for another four hour stretch to monitor everything that runs because they're having fainting spells over the idea that the same problem might recur.

For most of those four hours I'll just be listening to the phone and levelling up my rogue in WoW. Time better spent sleeping, IMO.

On that note, I'm off to bed to see if I can catch a couple of hours nap before the long night begins.

This is something I won't miss after I retire.

October 2017

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