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and things went downhill from there
(a desperate plea for fish)
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29th-Jan-2017 10:04 pm - Purple Pie
Bork Bork Bork
The weather took a turn for the cooler this weekend. Not bitterly cold, exaclty, but cooler than it has been. They reopened the river walk on Saturday after closing it during our freakish warm snap, and since we are still in a period of unseasonable warmth, we bundled up and took advantage of the weather and opportunity.

The last time we did the river walk, it was nigh overrun. This weekend it was busy, but not swamped - though the volume was picking up substantially as we left.
River Walk

I got the itch to make sweet potato pie for the first time since before I was married. As I was picking out some appropriate yams, the purple yams caught my eye, and I wondered how they would be in a pie.

Now I know.
Sweet Potato Pie
24th-Jan-2017 10:37 pm - One down...
Crashing Mood
If there is one consistency in my life it is that I was born clumsy, and clung to it like it was a virtue. I have fallen many times in the ice and snow, but the spill I took a week ago Friday was the roughest one yet. I skipped the morning at work to go into town for a scheduled dental appointment, and the mishap happened on the way home. I knew that the walks and streets were slick because I was slipping and flailing all the way from the dentist's office to the bus stop.

It was tough slogging down the sidewalk at this end of the bus trip because the folks at the Main Street end of our road had not bothered to clear the walks in front of their houses. I trudged through the snow for the first half of a block and then decided that the street looked much more passable because at least it had been plowed. The moment I stepped off the curb, I discovered that the street was not quite as benign as it had appeared. What looked like hard packed snow was actually hard packed ice that sloped away from the curb, and both of my feet shot straight out from under me before I could even even muster a pretense of reaction.

I landed hard on my elbow and hip - hard enough that at first I thought I had shattered the elbow. Had I not been wearing as many layers, I think that it is likely that I would be in a cast right now. My elbow and hip were remarkably sore for a couple of days, and the elbow is still tender to the touch a week-and-a-half later. Last Monday I woke to a sore, stiff neck. At first I thought that I had slept wrong, but over the course of the week it became progressively worse and spread to the shoulder before I finally made the connection with my fall a couple of days before.

It was very painful all day yesterday at work, and I made myself a promise that if it was that sore again today I would skip the morning and head up to the local walk-in clinic to get it checked. Yesterday evening atara applied an icepack to it, and followed that up with a hot pad. It helped at the time, but this morning my shoulder was on fire again as I was getting up from bed. This evening I am almost feeling normal. Maybe the ice and fire treatment was just what I needed.

A walk in the park

Late last week our CEO announced rather abruptly that he is leaving. He was supposed to be around for a few more months, and had planned to stay on as a consultant for another three years after his retirement. It seems tha the has decided to sever ties with us and head off to fuck up a different railroad. If he gets his way, the CSXT can expect to be ruthlessly gutted. Good for the shareholders, but not so good for the railway. He slashed 40% of our workforce in the five years that he was with us.

Most companies have a certain amount of fat that they can trim, but almost no company can afford to lost 40% of its workforce and expect to continue operating normally. One of the ways they are making up for the shortfall is forcing managers into pulling double duties (like running trains, repairing cars and the like).

On the plus side, the scuttlebut around the office is that our VP of IT is likely going to be departing sooner rather than later as well. He was one of the departing CEO's hand-picked sycophants, and folks in the head office say that he does not see eye-to-eye with our new CEO. His long term goal for our IT shop seems to have been to turn it into a micromanaged sweatshop, so there are few who will mourn his departure if he goes.

All I can say is that unless things turn around quite dramatically in my company, my only goal at this point is to try and hold out until my earliest retirement date.

A walk in the park
31st-Dec-2016 10:41 pm - Dreamwidth
Crashing Mood
I have noticed a few people here have mentioned that they are moving over to Dreamwidth, or at least mirroring their entries over there. I gave it some thought and decided that's not a bad idea. I created an account over there years ago, and Semagic makes it very easy to mirror my posts on both sites.

I am not looking to abandon LJ yet, but going forward I am going to start mirroring my posts on both sites. If you are looking for me over there, I am on the site as ... plonq.

28th-Dec-2016 11:03 pm - Boil all the things!
Christmas Mood
We kept a very low-key Christmas this year, though unlike last year, we decided to exchange gifts. I gave atara some new slippers and headphones for work (the latter are for work), and she gave me a wooden bow tie, and one of these:

We have toyed with the idea of buying one of these for a few years, so she solicited suggestions from those who already own such devices and ended up ordering this one.

We picked up a couple of steaks yesterday and tested it out for dinner. It worked well, but I definitely took away a few lessons for the next time we use it (possibly this coming long weekend).

In terms of lessons, the first change I will make is to get steaks that are smaller, but thicker. I might lower the cooking temperature a couple of degrees as well, but I think 58C would have worked fine if they had been a thicker cut. I seared them in a cast iron pan after they came out of the water bath, and it pushed them past medium-rare into medium/medium-well territory.

We've already decided that we are going to try chicken next. I've head wonderful things about chicken breasts cooked by this method.
24th-Dec-2016 12:30 pm - I'll be home for Christmas
Christmas Mood
Several of my co-workers got deployed to work as engineers, conductors or car mechanics over Christmas. Fortunately I am not qualified yet, so I get to spend Christmas at home.

There has been fairly wide-spread discontent in the ranks for awhile over this program, but this stunt over Christmas is pushing a lot of the staff close to rebellion. At the very least we've had a few people up and quit recent - though I guess that falls into the "reduce through attrition" thing they've been promising the shareholders.

We are having a quiet Christmas at home this weekend, and as modest as our Christmas dinner is going to be, we've been arguing over discussing the menu. I thought I might just put it up here for a crowd-sourced vote and let the internet decide.

Poll #2060137 Christmas Dinner Quiz

What should we have for Christmas dinner this year?

Ham shank
Prime Rib Roast
Chinese Takout
Cut up the prositute in the basement
Something less traditional

Other (your suggestion here):

18th-Dec-2016 09:31 am - Christmas Quiz
Christmas Mood
I found a cute little quiz buried in the middle of an article that my brother shared on Facebook last night.

As we slide into the last week of the long Christmas celebration, two pressing questions come to mind. The first one is, who thinks that it is a good idea to give frankincense and myrrh as baby gifts? I'll bet Mary would have been way happier to receive things like diapers, baby clothes, and maybe a proper crib.

The other question is, how well do you know your Jesus? Since this coming date has been arbitrarily chosen to celebrate his birthday, I think it behooves us to know a bit about him while we're engaging in the excesses of the holiday season.

Here is a quiz about his life and death. Don't be disappointed if you get some wrong, I missed a few as well.

Nothing says "Happy Birthday Jesus" like a fake tree covered in pagan decorations.
18th-Dec-2016 12:24 am - Dogs of the Sun
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 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.
Wolfish Mood
Our garage windows always turn very pretty with the first deep cold snap of the year.

8th-Dec-2016 10:32 pm - Cough
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!
Masturbatory Mood
Plonq sat hunkering alone in the dingy corner with his muzzle buried in a two-page plastic laminated menu. The waiteress, alerted by the little snow leopard's furtive glances over the top of the menu, scurried over with an order pad.

"Whadda ya want?" demanded the shrew around a pencil stub that dangled from the corner of her mouth like a well-chewed, surrogate cigarette. The snow leopard sighed.

"I'm not sure," he grumped. He stabbed the menu with his stubby index finger. "All of your things have weird names, and the descriptions aren't much help. You have a drink here called Self Loathing that the menu describes as a shot of Uncertainty with a splash of Depression.

"That one is very popular in here," said the waitress in a gravelly voice that suggested she was not one to shun a cigarette, "especially with guys who drink alone." She picked up a loose leaf from the table and slid it down into the menu.

"If you look at our specials, we have a deal where if you get Self Loathing with a chaser of Underachievement and you get half off a plate of Fried Expectations."

"What are Fried Expectations?"

"Not what you would expect," said the waitress with a shrug. "An acquired tasted, but you get used to it. I mean, they're half off."

"Eh, I'm not feeling that adventurous," said the snow leopard. He scratched the side of his muzzle in thought. "I'll take the Wasted Potential, hold the Satisfaction and a Dead End Career on ice."

I caught a picture out the window of the plane as I was leaving Calgary for (what I hope is) the last time this year.

Since I was home this weekend, atara wanted to put up the tree. Merry ... "helped." We put up the tree on Sunday, and when we got home from work yesterday, we found three ornaments on the floor and the skirt all bunched up. Ah, cats.
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