Saturday, April 26, 2014

What would your entrance music be?

Watching the UFC PPV tonight, I was struck, as always, by the odd choices of entrance music of many of the fighters.  I wondered why they chose the songs they did, whether they had to pay for this use of those songs (I assume so), what that cost, and so on.  What I most wondered, though, was what it would be like if we could all have entrance music announcing our arrival at our jobs, and what my song would be.

For big office buildings, entrance songs clearly wouldn't work, because loud music would be playing constantly during typical morning arrival times.  Worse, songs would have to play on top of one another.  In smaller companies, though, it just might be possible, though obviously disruptive. 

Screw the reality of it.  Let's get to the important question:  What song would each of us choose?

I like to think we could mix it up, choosing one tune one day and a different one the next, but even with that flexibility, most of us would settle into routines.  Maybe it would be "Bad To the Bone" on days you're feeling angry, or "Born To Run" when your life needed a little Bruce juice.  Some days, "Help" might be all we wished for.  "This Is Why We Fight" might perfectly sum up the mood on other days. 

I couldn't settle on a single song for myself, though all of the above obviously came to mind.

What would your entrance song be?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday night indulgence

Not too long ago, our most excellent local ice cream shop, The Parlour, started doing ice cream flights on occasional Friday nights.  This week, Vanessa, the ice cream genius who creates their wonderful treats, announced that this week's flight would feature strawberries:

Shortcake: cream biscuits, vanilla bean ice cream, macerated strawberries, cream.
Terrine: lemon curd ice cream layered with yellow cake and strawberry coulis.
Strawberry fool: strawberry compote, rosewater cream, ladyfingers.

We obviously had to go, so earlier tonight a group of us ordered and shared a bunch of these amazing trios.

Click an image to see a larger version.

We began this appetizer sharing with another appetizer, a bowl of Dulce du Leche Cheesecake ice cream.  Though too sweet for a few, most of us loved it.

After all these starter courses, we clearly had no choice but to seek a main meal.  With Bull City Burger and Brewery only a few blocks away, meat was in order.  We headed over and feasted on various types of burgers and hot dogs.  I ate some but not all of two amazing dogs.

Yes, one has pimento cheese and bacon, while the other has chili and slaw.

Not the healthiest Friday night, but an amazingly tasty one.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A bit of highway magic

As I was driving home from work in the fading sunlight, I noticed a man and a car on the side of an on-ramp I was about to pass.  The car sat empty.  The man sat beside the car.  In front of him was a drum kit.  He was playing the drums.


I wish I had been able to take a picture.

As luck would have it, others have indeed photographed this guy.  As you can read in this short article, this man has done this before, apparently multiple times.  He sits there for a simple and practical reason:  To avoid noise complaints from his neighbors while he practices his drums. 

I don't mind that his motivation is practical.  I still love what he's doing, and I consider it magic.  It made my day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's been that kind of day

Well, at least parts of today have been that kind of day; much of it has also been lovely.

When I hit those parts, though, I sometimes think of this Ramones song.

Two and a half minutes of three-chord rock that takes care of business.

No, of course, I don't really want to be sedated.  I'm not the kind of guy who deals with his issues with drugs--though if we count food as a drug, and I can make a case for doing that, then I do have this weakness. 

The song still hits home in my current mood.

It'll pass.  I'll work, and I'll listen to rock and roll, and this will pass.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When I find myself in another city

should I post an invitation here to blog readers for an informal get-together?  I've considered it, but I don't know if anyone reading this would be interested in such a thing. 

In upcoming weeks, I'll be in Portland, OR (next week) and Austin, TX (mid May).  Should I give this a try at one or both of those cities?

Comment or email me if you're interested.  If crickets respond, that'll be my answer.

Monday, April 21, 2014

On interviewing for a job: Contacting a company in email

I wrote in an earlier post about the research you should do before interviewing with a company.  You should do that research not only before your interview but also before your initial contact with a company.  When that contact comes through email, as it very frequently does today, you have a great opportunity to make a big impression on the company.  Whether that impression is good or bad depends on how you handle your message. 

For starters, make sure all your text is clear, to the point, grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors.  Note I said "all your text".  That's because you're writing not just a message body but also possibly a cover-letter attachment, a resume, and a Subject line.  I have seen many an error on the Subject line, and those errors are sure to leave exactly the impression you don't want.

You can avoid many of these errors through a simple trick:  compose the entire message, including the Subject line, in Word, and turn on its grammar and spelling checkers.  Those tools are far from perfect, but they will at least stop a lot of the most obvious errors. 

You should make sure you customize the content of everything you send to the particular application you're making.  Yes, that is a lot of work, but the whole process takes effort, so get over it and do the work.  Nothing will make you look like someone who doesn't give a damn quite as much as a message that refers to a job from another company's ad--or even that other company; yes, I have received such messages. 

Instead, state clearly and in brief why you want this particular job at this particular company, and then why you think you'd be great at it.  If you're a hard worker committed to learning and improving, say so.  You might think everyone is and everyone would say so, but you'd be wrong on both counts. 

I'm not going to spend time going into resumes, because you can easily find plenty of information on how to compose them, except to make these two points:  list your experience in reverse chronological order, from most recent job to first, and keep it short.  I've been working full-time for decades, and I've had a lot of jobs, and my default resume fits on one page. 

If everything I've said sounds to you like a basic tidbit that everyone should know, I agree.  I'm always amazed, though, at how many first email messages fail to obey these most basic guidelines--and at how many job opportunities those errors cost people.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I left this movie with very mixed feelings.  On the one hand, as I usually do, I had a good enough time watching it.  It kept me reasonably engaged, even though the plot arc was clear from the start.  Johnny Depp turned in his usual odd performance, but for the most part I bought him as human; he was much better suited to the slightly inhuman, awkward AI that he played for most of the film.  The supporting cast turned in appropriate performances, with Paul Bettany delivering possibly the best character portrayal I've seen from him.  The subject matter is of great interest to me, so I enjoyed seeing other people explore the ethical questions involved. 

Despite all those positives, I can't come right out and say I liked it.  The best I can do is to say I sorta liked it, but I need that qualifier. 

Its biggest weakness may be that it added nothing new to this ongoing public and entertainment-media discussion.  Nothing felt at all new or original to me.  It also seemed to be unable to decide how it felt about the various people and organizations in its story.  Depp turned crazy--maybe--but he was also doing good work.  His wife, Rebecca Hall delivering a solid acting job, was the innocent victim--and also possibly the source of all the trouble.  The terrorists were short-sighted AI-age Luddites who murdered a ton of researchers--and who turned into kinda-sorta good guys working with the government at the end.  The power went out and stayed out all over the world--but everything seemed to be peachy-keen. 

Obviously, Transcendence was yet another of the many movies that you can't think at all hard about, because it cannot bear the scrutiny, but that's most films these days (maybe, probably, most films and works of fiction always).  Yet I did think about it afterward, and I'm thinking about it today, and so perhaps that's enough to make me give it a very qualified recommendation. 

Check it out if you are interested in this area and have the time, but don't go out of your way for it.


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