Saturday, May 9, 2015

A great Delta Rae show

Earlier tonight, a group of us headed to The Ritz, my least favorite local venue, for a concert by my favorite locally based band, Delta Rae.  The show was the last of a tour that was supposed to run longer but which they had to cut short due to an injury to one of the band members.

Their performance was wonderful.  They are great performers, and they were at the top of their game tonight, tearing up the stage and belting out great song after great song.  They played cuts from both of their albums, including this one, "Run," which is a favorite of mine from After It All.

If you don't know Delta Rae's music, you need to.

If you get a chance to see them live, take it.

I often skip opening acts, but tonight I did not, because the opener was a singer-songwriter I quite like, Greg Holden.  Though the mix did his voice, which is not strong, no favors, I still enjoyed his performance and would like to see him in a better setting.  He performed all of my favorites of his, including this one, "Hold On Tight," whose video my sentimental self finds touching.

As I've said many times, live music holds a special power to fill us and enrich us.  I'm almost always glad when I go to a concert, and I was certainly very happy to have had the privilege to attend tonight's show.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Scott graduates

Earlier today, after a week that contained a few related activities, Scott graduated with honors with a B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State University.  He worked very hard for four years to earn his diploma.  He already has accepted a job offer.

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but I am incredibly proud of him.  (He's slouching a bit, because he's actually a little taller than I am.)

Click the image to see a larger version.

I am an incredibly lucky man to have such a wonderful son.  As I have said since he was born, I have the best son in the world.

At the risk of embarrassing him, I will say here what I tell him every chance I get:

I love you, Scott, and I am so very proud of you.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In spring our minds naturally turn to

servers, Chromebooks, and dropping picnic (and other) items onto a hard floor to see how they splatter.

Well, the minds of some of the folks at PT turn to this sort of thing in the spring, which is why we have this new episode of Now with PT.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Saint-Jacques' spring menu delights

As I've written many times in the past, when you're in the mood for classic French food, you can't go wrong by heading to Raleigh's Saint-Jacques French Cuisine restaurant.  Don't let the North Raleigh strip-mall location put you off; inside you will find an oasis of fine French dining.

On a recent visit to sample the spring menu, our amuse bouche was an unusual but tasty start to the meal:  a French meatball with onion.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Dense and flavorful, it set the tone for an evening of strong, delicious flavors.

I began my meal proper with a classic, the brie en croute.

The dish was everything one could hope for in this timeless concoction, rich and cheesy and possessing just a hint of sweetness from the apricot inside.

Next up for me was the foie gras.

A perfectly prepared slice of foie sat atop a delightful tart. Adding the sauces brightened the flavors.

To cleanse our palates, they offered a small rosemary granite, which did its job perfectly.

For my main, I chose what is rapidly becoming a staple of the menu, a small filet mignon with fried asparagus and a bacon and potato tower.

The meat was perfectly medium rare, covered in a thin layer of lobster and lobster butter.  The asparagus and potato tower served as excellent complements to the flavorful piece of beef.

I finished my meal with a simple peach cobbler that included lavender honey and a scoop of house-made vanilla ice cream.

Lil and Lori Lacassagne, the owners, are good people who run a good business.  Though I think of them as at least casual friends, I recommend Saint-Jacques entirely because the food is so good that you'll be glad you went.

If you've never gone, do yourself a favor:  book a table, and then relax and enjoy a good French meal.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A few tips about applying for jobs

Because PT is hiring, as I wrote in yesterday's blog entry, I've been thinking a lot about people who are applying for jobs.  I've also heard a lot of interesting comments from those of our staff who are reviewing resumes and cover letters.  Between those comments and my own past experiences, I thought it might be useful for me to share a few basic job-application tips.

Do your homework before you apply.  

Learn about the company to which you're applying.  Visit its Web site.  Check out its products.  Learn enough that you know what the company does and how your skill sets might help it.  If your written submission or your interview convince people you know nothing about their company, your chances of getting hired will drop precipitously.

Send a cover letter, even if only a brief one.

This is your chance to introduce yourself.  Take advantage of the opportunity.  Don't write a massive missive, but do motivate anyone reading the letter to check out your resume and then contact you.

Send a one-page, well-formatted resume.

I'm not going to outline what a resume should include, because that information is easy enough to find online.  I will say that most people don't need more than one page to hold their resumes--I don't--and the key to fitting all your background in that page is to be succinct and clear.

Spelling and grammar matter.

Regardless of the job you're applying for, your spelling and grammar really do matter.  I don't care what any teacher told you:  people who review cover letters and resumes will notice mistakes.

Avoiding these errors is also easy.  Word's spellchecker and grammar checker can help a lot.  So can your friends, or reading aloud these pieces, or just checking them a few times.

These two facets of your submissions matter even more if you're applying to be a writer.  If you can't get them right on the materials you send to represent you, why should any potential employer believe you will turn in grammatically correct work for them?

Make sure you're a match for the job requirements, or explain why a company should consider you anyway.

If you want to get past the initial filtering most companies will do, your resume and cover letter must make clear that you have the skills the companies are seeking.  If your background doesn't make that point for you, then you have to explain why a potential employer should consider you despite these apparent shortcomings.

Triple-check your materials to make sure they address the company to which you're applying.

Nothing says "I couldn't care less about you" than applying to company X and saying in your cover letter how much you could help company Y.  Yes, we all make cut-and-paste errors, but we should strive to avoid them, because they pave fast paths to the trash can for your application.

I know all of these tips are basics, notions any job seeker should already know, but trust me when I say that people routinely ignore one or more of them in their applications.  In fact, as best I can tell--and this is informal data, not a sure thing--more submissions we see violate these basic principles than follow them.

Doing that almost never goes well for the applicant.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Principled Technologies is hiring

As you can see on the careers page, PT is looking for a senior graphics designer, an entry-level tech staffer, and two writers.  We're trying to find the very best people for those jobs, so if you're one, please contact us.

As one of the co-founders and co-owners of PT, I am obviously biased, but we genuinely strive to do great work for our clients and to be a great place to work.  We have an unusual culture and work style--for example, we have no titles and no formal org chart--but we're in our thirteenth year and it's working well, so we believe we're onto something good.

If you're looking for one of these types of jobs, please contact us.  If you know of friends who work in these areas who are currently unemployed, please pass along this note.

I hope one day to work with folks who read about these jobs here on the blog!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Putting a plate of bacon on the counter

summons Holden faster than any dog whistle or command ever could.

After verifying he cannot simply reach up and take the lovely strips, because even he won't do that when humans are actually watching the plate, Holden begins his various approaches.

First, he tries a speed run around the kitchen island.

Click an image to see a larger version.

When his super speed fails to distract us, he moves to direct entreaties.  First up is the head tilt with mild drool.

Next, he busts outs the slightly calmer and ever so slightly sad, "surely you want me to have bacon" look.

When those fail, he moves in and applies the giant hypnotic eyes approach.

Alas for poor Holden, that evening there was no bacon, because I held firm.

I remain confident, however, that when next bacon appears on the counter, Holden will try again for the delicious prize.


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