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July 17th, 2018

Desert Hiking Safety Kit

There’s a joke I heard once on the Johnny Carson show late one night. It was one of those 1960s lounge lizard sort of jokes and Ed McMahon was telling it. So it went: one way to never get lost in the desert is to pack along stuff you’d need to make a good martini. If you find suddenly that you’ve lost your way, just unpack the martini fixing and start making yourself a good martini. Sure enough someone will come along, tap you on the shoulder and tell you no, no, that’s not the way to make a martini.

As I said, a lounge lizard joke. But nine year old Baptist kid me still thought it was funny, and I still do. You can alter the joke in many ways and still get the same punchline. Take your laptop computer with you out into the desert. If you get lost take it out and begin typing out a vigorous defense or brutal criticism of The Last Jedi. Sure enough someone will come along, tap you on the shoulder, and begin arguing with you about it.

Which brings me to the perfect margarita. For me that’s what I first heard was called a Godfather Margarita. I first tasted one years ago at a place in DC called Alero. It was Wonderful! From then on it was my go-to margarita. But all I knew about it from the menu was it had Amaretto in it.

For years off and on I’ve been trying to figure out how to make one at home, and failing miserably each time. Several weeks ago, at Bar Louie’s, on a hunch I asked the barmaid if she could make me a margarita but swap out Cointreau for Amaretto. She did…and that was it! Perfect! Good thing I was taking the light rail that day.

So I went back to work, fiddling with classic margarita recipes, and failing miserably. Nothing I did at home seemed to work. When I tried just swapping out the Cointreau for Amaretto they all tasted horrible.

Long story short, what I finally figured out is most bars don’t make you a classic margarita, which according to the Received Knowledge is just tequila, lime juice and either simple syrup or agave. They’re using sweet and sour mix instead because that’s what they have mixed up for making drinks. So I tried using sweet and sour sauce and it clicked. Finally. My perfect margarita.

Here it is:

2 parts tequila. I use Tres Generaciones blanco, but any good top shelf tequila will do. I am convinced now that the reason tequila has such a bad reputation in this country is Cuervo. No Steely Dan, the Cuervo Gold does not make this night a wonderful thing. Treat your fling a little better and they might come back for more.

1 part Amaretto. Note: Disaronno is NOT Amaretto. They seem to be really good and obtaining shelf space at the liquor store, but they don’t make Amaretto. Amaretto is made with almond infusion. They can’t even call it Amaretto on the label anymore, probably because some Italian rule says unless it’s made with almonds it can’t be called that. I use Lazzaroni, and drink that by itself on the rocks from time to time and it’s Very nice. Try a real Amaretto once and you’ll see the difference immediately. Way more flavorful.

1 1/2 parts sweet and sour sauce.

Ice.

Combine in shaker, shake well. Serve over ice.

Is this a strong drink? Yes it is. So…no driving afterward, please. Have one at home with a nice cheese plate.

And if enough people object that this is not the way to make a good margarita, I will definitely take the fixings with me when I go hiking in the desert.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Desert Hiking Safety Kit

April 21st, 2018

Wait…Where’s That Light Coming From..??

Note to self: remember to take off your nice new wristwatch with those really really bright phosphorous hands and numbers, before you go into the darkroom…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wait…Where’s That Light Coming From..??

April 8th, 2018

Don’t I Feed You Enough??

Feline love. I have the front door opened and the outer storm door closed to let more sunlight in. I look up from my lunch to see the neighborhood calico on my doorstep looking in. So I walk over thinking she would like some food and maybe some fresh water. But…no. She’s presented me with another offering of dead bird…the fourth one in two weeks. Feathers are everywhere on my front porch, and the fresh kill right on my doorstep. 

As I open the door she fixes me with that unnervingly steady cat gaze. Where’s all that cat food coming from…how come I never see you kill anything…here, let me show you how it’s done…

Yes dear…I know you love me. Another one I have to give a proper burial to in my garden. As I wrap the bird up I wonder if Klingons leave the dead bodies of their enemies at the doors of their boy/girl friends as a token of love…

 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

March 15th, 2018

My New Favorite Place in DC!

Hahahahaha…

 

…and tacos are their specialty! Tico’s Tacos! I lived to see it! Oh…and at a nice upscale spot on 14th street where they serve pricey cocktails.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on My New Favorite Place in DC!

May 31st, 2017

The Internet Highway This Morning

covfefe south of the boarder

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Internet Highway This Morning

April 29th, 2017

Onions Onions La La La…

I feel sorry for this guy. Really.

Middle-Age-Waiter-Going-Nowhere

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Onions Onions La La La…

April 5th, 2017

Unstuck In Facebook Time

Something Facebook kindly threw in my face this morning, because it loves me: how it was before the Crisis (or whatever it was, I’ve no idea, I was out of the loop…) Of Summer 2012, after which our conversations could no longer be private.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 9.01.04 AM

So it goes as the Tralfamadorian’s would say…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Unstuck In Facebook Time

February 5th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

…in which our hero discovers that knowledge isn’t necessarily power.

acos_22-sm

A Coming Out Story, Episode 22…Here.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

February 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

In which our hero learns that fast food can be bad for the heart…

acos21-sm

A Coming Out Story…Episode 21…is Here.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

January 19th, 2017

We Aim To Please!

It’s winter here in Charm City, and certain establishments have enacted winter dress codes. I just saw this notice posted at a local convenience store…

No hoodies.
No face masks.
We have heat inside.

A more deft double entendre I have never seen…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Aim To Please!

November 6th, 2016

When Lovecrime Happens, Who Ya Gonna Call…?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Lovecrime Happens, Who Ya Gonna Call…?

August 17th, 2016

Oh Microsoft…How I Love Your Pretty Little Lies…

Mostly, I do business software. That may seem surprising since I work for the Space Telescope Science Institute and we not only operate Hubble for NASA but we’re also working on the James Webb Space Telescope, which is the project I’m deeply involved in at the moment. So you might think the work I do here is all sciencey and stuff and it mostly is, but not in the flight engineering sense of it. I do business software, and science like everything else has to account for its money and time. So as it turns out, a lot of my work still revolves around Microsoft products, and doing traditional business client-database applications.  The other day I was tweaking something I’d done in Excel VBA (Visual Basic for Applications…a product Microsoft hasn’t upgraded in decades, probably because there is so much legacy stuff out there in their business user base). It was your basic fetch some data from a backend database server and feed it to Excel and let Excel make tables and charts out of it for management to ponder. And I needed to do something that I figured I could use a custom document property for. Which I could, but not exactly in the way Microsoft’s documentation said I could.

You run into this phenomena quickly in this trade:  The Documentation Lies. Or more charitably, it is out of date. The documentation is buggy. The documentation is written by people who write software and hate writing documentation. If religious fundamentalists had to actually use passages in the bible like we software developers have to use the documentation and example code snippets we’re provided with maybe they’d stop waving that thing at everyone, and try a little figuring things out for themselves like we’re always doing…desperately at times. Oh you’re worried about the second coming are you? Let me show you my project’s Gantt chart…

See…I hate using Magic Numbers…

In programming, a “magic number” is a value that should be given a symbolic name, but was instead slipped into the code as a literal, usually in more than one place.

It makes the code hard to understand, which makes it hard to maintain. This is something a programmer is wise to avoid, even if it’s code you are nearly certain only you will be maintaining. Time passes, the universe expands, and you open a code file you haven’t touched in years to make a small change and you’ve forgotten what ThisWorkSheet.CustomProperties.Item(1).Value referred to.  Better to write it ThisWorkSheet.CustomProperties.Item(“GetsGraph”).Value. And lo and behold the documentation says I can call that property with either a numeric value (the property index) or a string value (the property name). But it does not actually work that way.

Let it be said Microsoft is hardly the only culprit here. My first experience with this sort of thing happened right at the starting gate of my career as a software developer many many moons ago, when I was a youngster doing volunteer work for a gay BBS system (before the Internet Tubes came along) and I was asked to write a system for a local gay activists organization to generate welcome letters and membership funding letters and mailouts and so forth. They had a licensed copy of Ashton-Tate’s dBase IV which back then was the powerhouse database system for PCs. It was working my way through the dBase documentation while trying out their code snippets I had the displeasure of finding out that computer documentation will lie though its teeth at you and laugh at your pain and suffering. In those days I hurled many a programming book across the room. Nowadays I glance at the time and do a quick rough calculation of how many minutes until Happy Hour. 

So I got through my little difficulty the other day by creating a sensibly named numeric constant that I can pass in lieu of actually passing the value of the name of the custom property whose value I want to check. That’s what we call in the business a kludge, because I’m not certain the property I want will have that index value Every Time. I think it’s likely since I’m the only one maintaining this code, for now, and I only have that one custom property in there. But what happens when someone else gets into this code? Okay…I’ve commented my useage of the property. But maybe the next update to Excel changes the starting index from 1 to 0? Surprise! 

Oh well. So I get things working to a close approximation of my satisfaction. Then I sit back and I ponder the Five Stages of Software Development…

Denial: Oh I probably just forgot to close a parenthesis somewhere.

Anger: Oh F*ck Me…that is a COMPLETELY LEGAL FUNCTION CALL!!!

Bargaining: Maybe if I use single quotes instead of double quotes…

Depression: I should have gone to art school…

Acceptance: My software tools are buggy, the vendor is shady, the next upgrade cycle will probably depreciate my entire code base, but the bar at Rocket To Venus is open late.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh Microsoft…How I Love Your Pretty Little Lies…

August 2nd, 2016

That Feeling You’ve Done All This Before…But Differently…

Facebook has this memories thing where it shows you all the posts you’ve made on this day, running back to the beginning of your Facebook account. Here’s what came up in mine today…

my_life_as_a_tolkien_story

It was prescient…I watched Gollum fall in with it last spring. But he was happy at last, so there’s that.

It would have been ten years this October 6. Now I just wait for the boat to take me to The Undying Lands

 

happy_gollum

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Feeling You’ve Done All This Before…But Differently…

July 28th, 2016

Good Morning!

I wake up this morning from what my Fitbit confirms was a really lousy night’s sleep. Ten hours, but sprinkled within that two periods of wakefulness and 23 (!) periods of restlessness. I turn on my morning Pandora station, a generic “Relaxation Radio” channel. It starts playing a lovely, relaxing piano melody. Now I’m beginning to feel a tad better. So I look to see what it is that’s playing.

It’s called The Dark Night of The Soul.  The artist is Philip Wesley. I had no idea the dark night of the soul was so…relaxing.

Some days you get up on the right side of the bed. Some days you get up on the wrong side of the bed. And some days you get up on the surreal side of the bed.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Good Morning!

July 3rd, 2016

Gunshots That Echo Forever

Wandering the all new Disney Springs today. Almost the entire area that was once Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island has been massively redone. The old maps in my head are half wrong now. But staying at a nearby hotel makes it possible to get it out of my system without having to deal with the new parking garages and street changes. Tuesday I go to my DVC room at Boardwalk for a few days. I reckon I’ll hit the water parks in the morning and the theme parks in the evenings. Maybe. Boardwalk is nice enough I can just hang out there all day too. This makes for a nice respite from travelling the great plains last week, and my cameras being mostly disappointed this trip. But I got a few good ones. Tell you more later.

Disney Springs is crowded this holiday weekend. That’s to be expected. Normally I hate crowds. But every now and then they bring me nice things. Like beautiful young visiting latinos who still wear briefs, out of style though they seem to be in this country, and silken athletic shorts over them that, long and baggy though they may be, make that fact clearly evident, and let you see the seams move as they walk along in front of you…

I made reservations for the dining room at Wolfgang Puck’s tonight since it’s holiday crowded here and I wasn’t sure I could sit at the bar downstairs. Turns out that was no problem, but there was a bar upstairs too so I sat there. It’s not that I have to drink Every Night. But sitting at the bar makes it easier for the single traveler to talk with his fellow diners. And if the bar is empty, as it was this night for some reason, there’s always the bartender.

I was wearing my rainbow Mickey pin and the bartender noticed. He began telling me about his friends who were at Pulse the night of the shooting. Three guys, two of which were on the fence about going that night, and the third who really wanted to go, so the others went along with him, and they died and he lived, and now he can’t forgive himself…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Gunshots That Echo Forever

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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