Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bacon for Christmas

This year I am experimenting for the holiday cookie exchange.

For your consideration, Bacon cookies and Bacon Fudge!

bacon chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies (Nestle Toll House Recipe)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz toll house semi-sweet chocolate morsels

candied bacon
1 pckg thick cut bacon (about 10 strips)
brown sugar for sprinkling

1. make the candied bacon: preheat the oven to 350 F. lay bacon on a parchment covered baking sheet so they are not overlapping. sprinkle about 2 tsp brown sugar evenly on each strip of bacon. bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, flip bacon and drag it through the syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. put the bacon back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes, until it is fully cooked and very dark (mahogany). remove the strips from the sheet and cool on a wire rack. after they have cooked, chop them or quickly food process into tiny pieces.

2. make the cookies: combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. beat butter, both sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. add eggs, one at a time, beating well. gradually beat in flour mixture. stir in morsels and bacon pieces.

3. spoon dough (about a Tbsp per cookie) onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 9-11 minutes. i tend to go a little under 9 minutes so they come out just underdone. remove to cooling racks or eat immediately with a tall glass of cold milk.

Bacon Fudge

Makes 49 squares

12 strips maple-smoked bacon, with 2 strips reserved for garnish

1 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup peanut butter chips

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Coat an 8-inch-square pan with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning several times, until browned and done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely. Reserve 2 of the chopped slices for garnish.

Combine all ingredients except bacon in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir continuously until chips and butter are melted, and mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in bacon.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved chopped bacon on top and lightly press with your fingertips. Cover with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Slice into 7 equal rows to create 49 squares. It's a good idea to use a ruler to ensure equal-sized pieces. Serve at about room temperature.

Recipes inspired by NPRs story on unusual holiday treats :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Some people consider me high-maintenance when it comes to what I eat, but there is a reason behind it. Living with a life threatening food allergy is rough.SO I make the most of it and and enjoy food that is safe for me in it's finest forms.

A few years back, after a close call with Anaphylaxis, I was diagnosed with a deathly allergy to MSG. MSG and/or Monosodium Glutamate is a food additive that has no positive benefits in our food. It exists simply to allow food manufacturers to use cheaper ingredients of little or no nutritional value.

In the 1970's scientists demonstrated that at least 25% of the population react to monosodium glutamate. Today those reactions are recognized from mild and transitory to debilitating and life threatening.

MSG-sensitive consumers react to free glutamic acid (or free glutamate) that occurs in food as a consequence of a manufacturing process or fermentation -- regardless of the name of the ingredient that contains the processed free glutamic acid (MSG). The Food and Drug Administration has even acknowledged that consumers refer to all free glutamic acid as MSG. Yet, consumers who choose to avoid MSG have great difficulty doing so, because more than 40 different food additives contain MSG without disclosure.

There are three neurotoxic amino acids commonly used as food additives: glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and L-cysteine. Free glutamic acid ingested as MSG can cross the placenta during pregnancy, can cross the blood brain barrier in an unregulated manner during development, and can pass through the five circumventricular organs, which are "leaky" at best, at any stage of life. In addition, the blood brain barrier can be compromised by such things as drugs, seizures, stroke, trauma to the head, hypoglycemia, hypertension, extreme physical stress, high fever, and the normal process of aging. It is generally accepted that the young are particularly at risk from ingestion of MSG.
MSG-sensitivity and allergies are difficult to diagnose because the reaction is not IgE mediated; because individual tolerance levels vary; and because MSG reactions may occur anywhere from immediately to 48 hours following ingestion. The key to diagnosis lies in the fact that an individual typically responds to MSG with the same reaction(s), and after the same elapsed time each time that MSG ingestion exceeds the individual's tolerance level.

MSG is contained in just about every fast food on the market - Ever think about why your McDonalds fries taste so good? A small kids fry contains 28 grams of the addictive additive.

So call me high-maintenance all you'd like, and keep on downing your death fries. I like my high maintenance foodie ways, I also like breathing and not having to inject myself and make the trips in ambulances to the ER.

Today I had pecan pie and cranberry sauce for lunch - the turkey, gravy, beans, stuffing, ham, potatoes, and almost everything else that was catered or brought in has MSG in it. I quite enjoyed my lunch, and tonight I plan on eating a bloody hunk of dead cow to make up for the missed protein. I'll live :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Cake Is A Lie

In honor of the annual IT Dept BBQ I made a binary


I thought about going for the full "The cake is a Lie" in binary on the cake, but I work in possibly the most un-geeky IT department of all time, to put that much effort into my culinary art project. Perhaps I will play the GlaDOS song while serving the cake? Wait, no one but me plays video games here... Hrm...

"quit now and cake will be served immediately"

"there's no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying 'till you run out of cake"

Friday, October 16, 2009


It’s been some time since I’ve posted, and for good reason. We had a real life disaster exercise last week. A hardware issue rendered our system lifeless and although we did everything we could, we were still down for appx 24 hours. No data loss (thanks to some creative knowledge on how to recover missing files) but I still went without sleep for 40 straight hours to complete the recovery process.

In the spirit of last week I figured now was as good a time as any for a review of what should have been. No one should be without a DR plan.

  • Step 1 in disaster recovery planning: organize the disaster recovery planning team. The team should consist of a primary representative and an alternate from each participating department. Organizing the disaster recovery team begins by creating a group consisting of members that represent all functions of the organization. The team must also include a high-level manager, or CEO, to endorse the plan and eliminate obstacles. Once arranged, the team will start an awareness campaign and create a schedule of their anticipated activities.
  • Step 2 in disaster recovery planning: assess the risk in the Enterprise. The goal in this step is to assess the potential economic loss that could occur as a result of the determined risks. The team will use a business impact analysis to assess risk. In the analysis, all business processes should be identified and analyzed. As with any assessment, business processes should be ranked as critical, essential, necessary, and desirable. Legal and contractual requirements should also be assessed for consequences of business disruption.
  • Step 3 in disaster recovery planning: establish roles across department organizations. The disaster recovery planning team determines the role each department and external party must play in disaster recovery. This ensures that all resources and expertise are properly utilized.
  • Step 4 in disaster recovery planning: develop policies and procedures. Procedures are the step-by-step methods, while policies are the guidelines. Both are very important in recovering from a disaster. This step requires attention to detail. Procedures must be in place for every step in disaster recovery and response. Each function must be spelled out in black and white to ensure continuity. In our case having all the procedures in my head does not count towards documentation. Yes, I can do it from memory and experience, but should I not be here, what are they going to do?
  • Step 5 in disaster recovery planning: document disaster recovery procedures. Policy and procedures must be documented and sent through the proper channels for approval before being stored for future implementation. Each policy and procedure must be drafted, reviewed, and approved by management and all departments and organizations responsible for implementation. The plan must be available at all times during the testing phase, and especially during disaster response. Again - not something you only want one person to know.
  • Step 6 in disaster recovery planning: prepare to handle disasters. An “information campaign” is the word that works here. Get the information out, make everyone aware, and ensure they all know the plan. All parties must be aware of the plan from executives to general staff. Nothing worse than closed door communication - especially with your IT staff. Make sure they are well informed.
  • Step 7 in disaster recovery planning: train, test, and rehearse. Practice makes perfect! During this step, the organization conducts a live simulation including all departments and supporting organizations–as if a real disaster is taking place. Observers are in place to monitor and evaluate the procedures being implemented. Weaknesses are determined so updates and modifications can be made.
  • Step 8 in disaster recovery planning: ongoing management. Maintenance is the key here. Continual assessment of threats, changes in structure, and impact of new technology and recovery procedures. This step requires continual monitoring of new technologies and system changes. Any changes are documented, and updated training is given.
Long story short - we survived and all is heading back to normal. It will take time to document and make things right. I just hope we can avoid another hardware failure or disaster in the meantime. I was really hoping my days of pulling all nighters as an operations specialist were over. Yes, I CAN do it, and probably will if you ask me to, but I don't enjoy it as much as I once did and I think it's time for someone else to share the role of know-it-all recovery guru.

Monday, September 21, 2009

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conference Memories

In honor of tomorrow's virtual SEC, I figured I would reminisce over conferences of the past. So many great memories and so many pictures to choose from, I narrowed down to some of my favs in the past 4 years.

Meeting Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and being heckled by Gilbert Godfrey is somewhere near the top of the list. I really did like him in Aladdin!

There has always been an ongoing Star Wars theme for us geeks! I am surprised we haven't had a full cos-play event at one of these things yet!

Swing dancing was probably my favorite of the interactive, not that it ever stopped me from dancing at any of the parties. I generally had to warm up the dance floor for a good hour or two at any event before I could convince others to join me (or maybe they just needed that time to have some liquid courage)

I fear (and yet would probably still be very amused) should Jim ever decide to create a video montage of my dancing antics.

Go kart racing was a blast in Fort Wayne, even tho my car got buried in the snow... And who could forget snow doughnuts? Gotta love those vendors!

While most everyone loved their cardiac arrest in the bun in Philly - I really could have gone my whole life without a cheesesteak, but what a great photo op for the Symi-Mafia!

And who could forget the infamous recreation of Milli Vanilli's blame it on the rain in San Diego? That evening set an all new standard for male chest bumping in water!

Or what about JBF's inappropriate care bears in San Antonio?

Or the trip to Sun Studios in Memphis? That's where I officially became a published recording artist with "pretty hair" sang with Elvis's mic and got to play Johnny Cash's guitar!

And the countless karaoke songs sung - I think I covered all of the Madonna "Like A" songs over the years... Virgin, prayer, etc...

Or creepy drunk Santa who wasn't really all that creepy or drunk after all?

And dodgeball!!! Oh how I miss playing dodge ball this time of year!

While I am sad to not be on the tennis courts today, I am looking forward to the next two days and virtually networking with my people. I heart my Symi friends!!! I wonder if we'll crash the chat servers or if there will be a side FB conversation? I'll be playing virtual dodgeball tonight for old times sake and hoping to make new, yet I am thinking somewhat less photogenic memories this year!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Warped Birthday Cakes

Today is the birthday party for a dear friend with a rather warped sense of humor. I couldn't decide between a zombie baby or a cat litter cake, so I made both for tonight's party at the Saucer.

Zombie Baby cake was inspired from the time Josh etched RIP into a cake at work because e thought it was a tombstone cake, come to find out it was a cradle cake for a baby shower at his office.

The cake is a blood red inside with gummy worms that will fall out when he cuts into it.

Cat litter cake is an old Halloween standby of mine. It's german chocolate with chocolate frosting covered in crushed white oreos colored green and blue like cat litter. The cat turds are made from large tootsie rolls with pinched ends and it's a delicious creation that most people never taste because they can't get over what it looks like.

It's served in a new cat litter box with a new cat litter scoop. I promise both were washed and sterilized and it's completely edible and delicious :) I will say this is the first time I have ever spelt out someone's name in fake poop.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Not so little known factoid about me...
My prior career was in the event/wedding planning industry. I used to bake wedding cakes, sew wedding dresses, create floral arrangements, and cater parties. At some point in the late nineties I gave it all up for coding and haven't really looked back since. Dealing with a computer is way easier than putting up with a BrideZilla.

Nonetheless, I get cravings to get back to my creative culinary roots, especially the sugar iced kind. Lucky for me it's birthday/cake party season right now and I have 3 cakes in 1 week.

Cake #1 is for my friend Jen's 30th. We held the party at a sushi restaurant and so what better to theme the cake with than.... SUSHI!

The cake was yellow pound with a fudge filling, butter cream frosting and light almond fondant

I decorated the borders with hand painted fondant bamboo and metallic centered sugar blossoms

The top was sushi created from twinkies and ho-hos wrapped and iced to look like dinner complete with hand sculpted soy dish full of "gel"-soy and fondant sculpted ginger and wasabi. Coconut rice and jelly belly Ikura and all.

I will post cakes 2&3 later this week :) Full pics of the cake construction are on FaceBook

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tastes like RepGen

If you know me.. you know that the two non-human loves of my life are code and food. So is it really all that surprising that I spend a great deal of time posting randomly on those two subjects?

A few years back the two merged and became RG - FOOD. A specfile html decision engine for lunch determination. Lately I have been consumed with other more relevant projects at work, so I use my twitter and facebook outlets to handle my food porn addiction.

While having lunch yesterday, a coworker questioned my iPhone picture taking of a bowl of rather tasy Pho. I tried to explain the food porn/blogging/posting thing and they clearly did not understand. The comment "you're a programmer, aren't you supposed to eat crap/" struck a nerve.

One, that's a horrible stereotype and two, most programmers I know have a great palate and enjoy eating yummy delicious stuff as much as I do.

I also know plenty of people who do get me and my love of being a foodie - and even more who love benefiting from my obsessive need to counter my workaholic nature with marathon kitchen therapy sessions and ten course tasting menus.

So in honor of that.. I proudly post my top foodie finds of the week:
all of the items below have arrived at my desk this week in gift form for random geek performed tasks such as coding work or PC rebuilding in my spare time. It's not even my birthday yet! I feel loved!

I need a sign for my office "will perform geek tasks for food porn inspiration"

Coconut M&Ms... yes it seems that even the candy industry is attempting to re-invent a perfectly good thing into something it's not. Luckily for us the M&M company is good at making exceptions! Coconut m&ms are sweet and tropical. Think island paradise where you are being fanned with palm leaves and tended to by Grecian sculpted bodies.... okay.. maybe not that good, but close.

Wild Cherry! They are made with a dark semi sweet which puts them at the top of my yum list. They are rich and decadent and worth indulging with each luscious bite.

Thanks to anonymous CU gifter for sending me samples of chocolate yum.

Danzka Vodka! Stright of the plane from Norway (Thanks Brenda)
The bottle is "made to chill" and goes great with pool parties.

This vodka is one of my favorites for making martinis.
Try this recipe:
1 part Danzka
1 part cranberry juice
2 parts grapefruit

Pink Oranges!!! I got some of these as a gift Monday and had to run out and buy an entire bag.
I'd heard rumors of this new hybrid fruit and sure enough the local Costco brought in a shipment.
I pulled out my desk paring knife (how weird would it be to carry my chef's knife case to work?) and revealed pink flesh. Pink! Glossy, tiny little sacs straining with sweet citrus. I took my first bite.

You can forget the overdone blood oranges and boxes designer mandarins and Clementines and leave off the plain old orange-oranges. THIS is an orange, if not THE orange to beat all other oranges. My teeth pressed into the rosy flesh, bursting through the skin. Sweet juice squirted into the air hitting me on my nose, running down my lips around my chin and along my neck. The whole fruit disappeared in seconds and I instantly wanted more. Pink Oranges are my new favorite citrus fruit!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Don't get me started about the shoe blocking.. I got blocked shoe shopping in PA during symeast.
Shoe store blocking is just wrong!

And no, not moonlighting...
"Adele Services" is the actual merchant... I saw it come up on a few months back

They are trying to steal my name :-P
There can be only one.

Although I could be convinced to leave programming forever for Adelle's job on Dollhouse.

and I could go on for days about how mad I am over the cancellation. Finale this Friday at 8pmCST. Yay Tivo or else I would have had a scheduling conflict with Star Trek.

Beastie Boys featured in Star Trek? Yes! I can't wait.

ELA projection errors are giving me a headache... I think I need some caffeine to focus.

as seen on SMUG

Friday, April 17, 2009

Airline madness

Not sure how well blog and iPhone work together without an app, but with who knows how much time on my hands, why not try?

American airlines had cancelled all flights into SA this afternoon. After flying in from philly, I was planning for the worst. The turbulence on the first flight was by far the worst I have ever experienced. We were coming up out of our seats and banging around for the last 30 minutes of that flight. Some people got sick which caused others to get sick. It was simply awful. We landed and were then told we could not get off the plane due to severe lighting (which was very visable and loud)

We finally got off the plane and were told lots of flights had been cancelled. I ran over to baggage which directed me back to the ticketing counter. They told me I was not likely to get my bag in order to drive the last 4 hours home, but if I could run, they could get me on the last flight leaving for SA. I agreed and ran as fast as I could from c16 to the d terminal gate 34. I had to go back through security. They decided to confiscate my mini pink leatherman and without time to argue I decided not to attempt to argue with them.

I made it to d34 just as they were about to close the doors. I got to my seat only to hear the captain announce that when loading bags the mechanics had detected damage from the storm. So here we now wait on the plane. Waiting to see if the damage is reparable or if this flight will get cancelled like the rest. I am concerned about my luggage, but more concerned about making it home in one piece and before tomorrow.

SymEast was so great this week. I have to say this is the first bad thing to go wrong for me all week! Oh well. At least no one is vomiting and we are all safe and still :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Themed suites for SymEast

How do you top a trip to sun studios in Memphis, TN?

check out this link: fanatsy suites

The hotel has 20 "themed" rooms.

Some how the symeast group seems to have been placed in the majority of them.

I am in one of the 20 for the next 2 nights, switching to another theme on Thursday thanks to the front desk staff. Should make for an interesting week. I think we'll be doing room tours later so everyone can take a look at the 1970's themed decor.

I have a red jacuzzi that seats 4! LOL

One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead

Okay, so it was Monday and not Saturday, but I did finally make it to Zipperhead. Crash Bang Boom has actually been moved around the corner, but the signature zipper ants are still on South Street.

There was very little Dead Milkmen memorabilia, but I did pick up a few cute souvenirs.

One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead
I met a girl there and she almost knocked me dead

Punk rock girl
Please look at me
Punk rock girl
What do you see?
Let's travel round the world
Just you and me punk rock girl

The flight in was pretty non-eventful, sans the woman eating bell peppers as if they were apples fresh off the tree. This is not appropriate airline passenger behavior. What's next? Hey let's bring a pot of menudo on the plane or maybe some beef kidneys? What smelly food item can I eat in a closed confined area where it impedes the personal nasal space of the passengers around me?

Made it to the hotel in time for dinner, ran back up to my room to log in and work on some code reviews and email catch-ups. Then back to the bar to get a couple hours of socializing in. With SEC going virtual this year, I have lots of sym-socializing to fit in this week and in May. Networking in the community is one of the most valuable resources out there. I can't stress the benefits of user group attendance enough.

Woke up bright and early this morning, took a nice jog around valley forge national park, saw a few deer, and headed back to start my day.

On today's agenda is RepGen roundtable. Ray is stuck in Atlanta, so Ron is flying solo this morning - and doing a great job. So far the topics have been imaging, symform, PRN, and collection note creation. There's a great group attending the class this year. All levels of expertise and experience. Makes for a great discussion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wine Tasting with Maynard James Keenan

This morning I went out early to grab a ticket for the Maynard Wine event at the local Whole Foods. They only had 500 tickets and I was able to get #291.

The set up was Whole foods would be selling Maynard's wines and offering signing in a private room for the first 500 people. Key points of interest leading up to the event:

#1 Maynard's wines are very hard to get a hold of. If you want to buy them you have to a) visit the vineyard in Arizona or b) catch him on a wine signing tour - this round only had 4 stops. Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. c) get lucky enough that they have what you want on line and that they can ship it to you for reasonable cost - these wines are expensive and very limited.

#2 Maynard is known for being impersonal and rude. Not that I minded. It wasn't going to stop me from going. I was hoping this was just hype.

#3 The place was expecting 3,000-5,000 people to show up. I had no plans to be stuck in the crowd all day (people started lining up at 8am for a 5pm signing)

#4 The security was insane - no purses, no phones, no camera, nothing but your ID and $$ to make your purchase. Metal detectors, bodyguards and all...

So here's how I made the most of my Maynard experience:

I called ahead to the store and got a hold of a chef friend. I told him I would be buying at least a case and I wanted to avoid the idiots in the crowd. He told me to show up @8, get a ticket and it would be numbered. Park at the front of the store in a reserved space at 4:40/5pm and he'd get me back to the "curtained area". I told him he was awesome, and he told me I was owed from a referral I gave for a private party. (he has a catering business on the side) It pays to have foodie friends!

I showed up on time and like clockwork I had my #291 place in line, no waiting. By then I was maybe 20 ppl from the door. I found my friend and he let them know I was indeed purchasing a case. I opted for the Merkin Chupacabra - because what makes a better dinner party than hairy goat? Once I had my case, I had them carry it for me to the back. Wine is heavy! There was a small room where people were taking in their bottles to be signed by Maynard with a literal "curtains pulled back" reveal of Maynard and Eric for each customer.

They had sectioned out the line in 20 person segments, so once that current segment had finished up I got to go in with my case and have a seat. It was surreal. I introduced myself and Maynard and his partner Eric immediately asked in unison :what are you planing to do with a case of Chupacabra? I explained my "hairy goat" plan and they laughed. Maynard, in his black tshirt, board shorts and flip flops, asked me if I knew what a merkin was. I nodded and told him that was 1/2 the fun. I guess not too many people in SA know about pubic wigs? The only reason I knew was a BBC Graham Norton episode - which I admitted to them both. We all had a laugh and started talking goats and merkins, and would a goat merkin be for a goat? or made of goat for a human?. Maynard asked if I had tasted the wine. I told him no, and let him know I was fully aware that with only 500 cases made and not living in AZ it would be unlikely that anyone here had tasted it outside of the idiots who might have corked a bottle in the parking lot. He pulled out glasses and poured me a glass from the bottle at his side. This is when I first noticed how short he was. Shiny bald head, beautiful eyes, but really a small guy. Granted most people are short compared to me, but he was much shorter than I would have expected.
We sipped, the wine had a light body with a sweet blackberry tinge and a small citrus finish on the end. Great nose and would pair well with a bloody steak, which makes sense having named it after a blood thirsty goat. We talked about the central cost of CA, food and wine parings, more about goats and merkins, tasted 4 more of the wines from their vineyard and then the bodyguard told me it was time to go. Eric and Maynard told them "give her a few minutes, she bought a case" and they went about signing my 12 bottles.
I said my goodbyes and Maynard shook my hand and told me I sould come by the vineyard next time I am in AZ. I promised (quite honestly) that I would. I didn't quite get the "I'm never going to wash this hand again" feeling with him, but I was seriously in awe and star struck. He was a genuinely nice, well spoken, beautiful, and intelligent man.

I exited the store with my case, watching the thousands outside standing in line like cattle wondering how long it would take a Chupucabra to devour the herd. I think I am one of the luckiest people I know. What a great event!

I am now a proud owner of 1 of the only 500 cases of 2006 Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra. I couldn't resist that it's partly named after a mythical creature that drinks blood from livestock, and partly after a pubic wig that always reminds me of British humor. The bottle’s design is simple but appealing, with a sepia-toned, vintage-looking label decorated with a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vetruvian Man” drawing with a bunch of deep purple, luscious grapes hanging over the loins. The back of the bottle has this mystic-cryptic inscription from Maynard himself:

“The Trickster. The Shape Shifter. The ever elusive shadow who mutates with the Sun and Moon. One year a Dragon, another a Snake. This is our Mystery Hand. Think forest, not trees. Think weather, not rain. Stare, and the CHUPACABRA, who dwells in your heart and not in your head, will vanish. Only a True Alchemist can draw holy blood from a stone, and the CHUPACABRA is his opus, his phoenix, his cherub, his child. Bravo, Mr. Glomski, Bravo! – M.J. Keenan, Owner & Novice Winemaker”

Glomski is Eric, his partner in AZ and also quite a nice guy.

I highly recommend checking out the site for Caduceus Cellars (, where Keenan maintains a journal and has an entry about the 06 SENSEI that explains the creation and evolution of the Chupacabra wine. You can order some of the other wines from the site (most of the Caduceus wines are limited quantity; and there were only 500 cases made of 2006 Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra). So, if you want to try the Chupacabra wine, wou'll have to come to dinner at my house :) Date TBD.

Xtine - I have an autographed bottle set aside just for you :) I had snuck in my iPhone, and I showed him your facebook post from earlier in the day. He said "that's cute" and then asked me how I snuck the phone in. I told him a smart girl never reveals her secrets.

I should have been sneaky and taken a picture, but the bodyguards were scowling at me with the iphone to begin with.

I am a happy foodie and Tool fan!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day - Barbara Fraire

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron is widely known in modern times simply as Ada Lovelace. She is mainly known for having written a description of Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. She is today appreciated as the "first programmer" since she was writing programs—that is, manipulating symbols according to rules—for a machine that Babbage had not yet built. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities. Babbage was impressed by Lovelace's intellect and writing skills. He called her "The Enchantress of Numbers". In 1843 he wrote of her:

Forget this world and all its troubles and if
possible its multitudinous Charlatans — every thing
in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.

Ada Lovelace died, at the age of 36, on 27 November 1852. This was due to uterine cancer and bloodletting by her physicians. (not the Concrete Blond album) She left two sons and a daughter.

Over one hundred years after her death, in 1953, Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished after being forgotten. The engine has now been recognized as an early model for a computer and Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.

If you are familiar with DOD computer languages, you'll know her by Ada - MIL-STD-1815.

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I want to recognize one of my early mentors, Barbara Fraire.

In 1997, I found myself embarking on a new career path, away from sewing, cakes, and catering, and into the world of programing. What started as a hobby of designing web pages and a heavy BBS habit, landed me a job at a local credit union. I was quickly recognized as "computer knowledgeable" which back in 1997/1998 meant you knew how to turn one on and create and retrieve data from the web . I quickly learned that the core processor was wide open to customization and decided I wanted to figure out ways to apply my creative skills. My CEO who was inspiring in her own right, told me that I was free to explore the system and see what I could make it do. These were the early days of vi editor and Symulate, but there were still some amazing concepts available to us. The CEO sent me to San Diego for a "rep gen" class. That's where I first met Barbara.

At the time, I had stereotyped programmers as pencil protector style men with gray hair and thick rimmed glasses. Even though I grew up knowing otherwise, I found it hard to believe that there were lots of great minds that broke that mold. Barbara did not have glasses, nor a pencil protector. She was young, pretty, and smart. I found myself amazed that it was possible to remain feminine and still work in this field. It was okay to be smart and creative at the same time. If you would have asked me back then where I would be today, and what I would be doing, I never would have predicted this outcome.

In that first class, Barbara taught advanced rep gen. I had skipped basic, so I was a little worried if I would be able to grasp the concepts. With no formal education on the subject and only years of "playing" under my belt, I will admit I didn't go in with a positive attitude. But starting with day one, Barbara showed us all how flexible and nimble the system was, and how with a few simple lines of code you could make it do just about anything you wanted. She set us up for success. I had always pictured programming as rigid and rules based and "not for me". She taught me that it was okay to put the logic to good use, and that there was room for both creativity and smarts in this line of work. I was thrilled and excited to head back to the office with my new found skills and put them to work. Then came SEC. The fall conference had this session which caught my eye and to this day remains my all time hands down favorite, "Creative Solutions/Unique Uses". The simple concept of presenting fresh and innovative ideas convinced me I had found my calling. As Barbara and the presenters called out each and every idea and example of what was being done out in the real world synapses started firing in my head. I had more inspiration than time to complete everything that sparked in my brain. The sessions she helped present over the years, the 10+ years of mentorship, and countless amounts of inspiration that have lead to my great success as a programmer are why I want to recognize Barbara Fraire as someone who I admire in my field of credit union technology.

To this day I admire her for her hard work and dedication to this system. From rep gen, to GL's and AP, to Indirect Lending, and everything in-between - she is an expert by all definitions, inspiring the rest of us to follow in her footsteps. (extra bonus points for the recent help with indirect lending, which if anything teaches us all just how much we need creative solutions to solve every day problems!)

I have a great memory of a conversation we had over a bowl of Pho at a local San Diego restaurant in the late nineties. I was down in San Diego for a class, and we had gone out for lunch that day. We were discussing some of the new enhancements to the system and how they could be used to do more for the credit unions. I remember asking her if she was happy coming to work each day working with this system and in the muck of the code. She told me that this was a line of work in which one would never be bored or at a loss for things to do and that that having purpose and being able to see results is a great reason to be happy. It's 10+ years later and I still love my job, and Pho :). Thanks Barbara!

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognized. We need to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, make sure to celebrate her achievements today.

Monday, March 9, 2009

non-distracting alpha

After spending a week dedicating my brain to the efforts of release testing, I had a realization of just how distracted office life is. Prior to my arrival at my current employer, I was telecommuting and enjoying the associated super-productivity. When I made the job switch, I continued the super productivity, but it took much more effort and longer hours.
I enjoy being in the office, I am a social creature at heart, but my work often suffers from the little distractions here and there. When I am in my "zone" I get amazing things done in minimal amounts of time. I can multi-task like there's no tomorrow. But when you add in the chatty noises of people on the phone all day within earshot, the movement of 200 people in a high rise building, and the general distractions of working in this environment, productivity goes down hill.

Last week I was able to work up 13 defects (in the office this work normally takes me 3-4 weeks to research and complete). I even managed to learn the missing pieces of my IDL knowledge base (not that anyone wants to be a know it all on indirect lending, but it helps when debugging) I didn't have much free time (no shopping or beach trips) but I feel super accomplished and refreshed. I didn't even manage to get in my traditional CA sushi fix! I am still a little shocked about that one. I did find a break for fish tacos, a late night dinner trip to Asti (super yum Italian seafood in gaslamp), and was able to meet up with a few friends for late night meals/drinks. Just not my normal CA travel agenda, which was fine.

I also managed worked in a 3:20 am showing of Watchmen on the last night, banking on the long flight home to recoup some sleep time. I figured it was a good reward for working 12-14 hour days between alpha and keeping up with projects back home. My favorite line of that movie being "I am used to going out at 3 a.m. and doing something stupid." I think the lack of sleep and the timing made that way more hilarious than originally intended. I loathe the color yellow, but the film was made well enough for me to ignore my normal annoyances with color palates and allowed me to focus on the great storyline. (I think I would have liked giant CGI squids better for the ending, but that's just me)

Misc thoughts on the upcoming release:
*account number change - great idea, but can't use it with remote poster/failover D :(
*loan queue enhancement - bug free and looking forward to the screen and field additions
*masked hb param changes - again long time coming security feature that will be put to good use
*syc off/onhost - possibly my favorite list item
*ezwriter datafiles - I don't use ezw, but I know alot of people who will appreciate this addition
*created by fields - looking forward to this one and modifying the fmhist searches out of existing specfiles to speed up processing
* lots of good stuff in this release and nothing too crazy to warrant months of pre-load testing

It was a great week. I learned alot and was able to share my brain with a few other industry people in the process. I will have to get make-up sushi another time :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Gaiman History

Last night I re-confirmed one of my own beliefs. Neil Gaiman is one of the greatest modern storytellers.

For me it started in 1989. I was wandering through a comic book shop and saw the beautiful artwork of Sandman Issue #1. I was instantly hooked. I was a faithful reader and collector of the series through 1996. My collection survived my brother twice; once when he burned my issue 8A (the rare alternative print release), and the destruction by shred of my copy of issue #1 that began it all. I was blessed with the good fortune of a godfather who owned his own comic book shop as a "hobby" - he was a FBI agent by day and comic book n3rd by night. He was my guide growing up to the world of fantasy found in the thin paper pages I loved so much. I owe him a million times over for introducing me to the world of comics and gaming.

By 1996, I was starting my life as an adult, but I refused to give up the comics. Lucky for me I married a comic book n3rd and we were able to find a home for our collections throughout our new house. I was sad at the loss of the Endless storyline, but this was about the same time Gaiman's novels began to appear. Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, and in 2005 - Anansi Boys - which remains one fo my favorite books of all time. He also started writing children's books. The Graveyard Book, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and Coraline just to name a few.

The Woves in the Walls, one of my favorite of his childerns series, has a frequent appearance in our evening reading schedule, as do most all of his books. I love sharing my love for his work with my daughter. I can't wait until she is old enough to enjoy his comics and novels. We went to see Coraline last night, and although it wasn't a word for word interpretation of the book, it was beautiful and wonderful, and we all adored it on the big screen. The 3D technology was amazing and impressive. The paper mice sequence at the end (post credits) was breathtaking.

I can't wait to see what he has planned next. And yes, I am still holding out for the film adaptation of Death. I have been promised a long awaited Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman collaberation for many years now and I refuse to give up hope :)

I have been a faithful fan of Neil Gaiman for 20 years now. I am thankful for the enjoyment his works have brought me throughout my years, and I hope to continue enjoying his creations for many years to come.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lost Party!!!

In preparation for tonight's Lost Viewing party, I decided to work on some craft projects

I found labels for some of the foods on the web, and made some others using photoshop.

The Boarding Pass Shiraz is very close to Oceanic Flight style.. so no labeling was required there.

I had thought about doing mini liquor airplane bottles for cocktails, but didn't have the time to get to the liquor store before they closed.

Next I took pearl station Dharma logos and rolled them into the toilet paper for the bathrooms.

I didn't plan for the correlation to Paulo finding the toilet in "The Cost of Living" episode, season 3, but it worked out really nicely.

I am wondering who will be the first to get the TP surprise this evening.

The centerpiece of the table is a conglomeration of Dharma food rations and meds.

Epi pen testers make great pseudo auto injectors and left over med bottles have been labeled with the antidote for the island.

The menu for tonight is Cluck's Chicken (for Hurley), Dharma mac and cheese supper rations, assorted island fruits and veggies, and I found some Peanut Butter Klondike bars. (Peanut Butter and Polar Bears - Oh My)

There are also Saywer's Fish Biscuits (I baked and detailed sugar cookies instead of preparing actual fish flavored ones) , Dharma Rationed beer and soda, and random other assorted themed foods. It should be a fun night!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

floating point binary

from the math thread on smug earlier today... why MONEY doesn't compute

Here's my 2 cents on fuzzy computer math: (please feel free to ignore my ramblings)

Floating-point is a lot like scientific notation. It generally has a radix (coefficient), which can be adjustable and an exponent or scale. The radix is multiplied by the base to the power of the exponent.

Ex: 123456.7890 in ten digit precision = radix - 1234567890 with a exponent of 2 (the radix point follows the first digit).

So the value is 10^2*1.234567890 or 123456.7890

Because the radix point is adjustable the floating point notation the math gets fuzzy.

EX: 0.15 * 0.15 = 0.0225

In float point

EX: (1.5*10^-1)x(1.5*10^-1)=(2.25*10^-2)

Computers then use rounding modes to compute the results of floating point operations

In multiplication the radix is multiplied while the exponents are added and the result is rounded, small errors are reported as multiple operations are completed. The errors will occur then the exponent is either too large or too small resulting in hidden bit differences in the math. (side google note: Horner scheme computation for a great algorithm for floating point multiplication and division)

If you made it this far and didn't fall asleep, check out this book "What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating Point Arithmetic" Goldberg, 1991... It's a great read if you enjoy this kinda stuff.

Or in the words of Xena... WIZARD!

The Pandas are coming

I saw this in the news this morning:

Panda Attacks Man... Again

I am amused by the previous drunken attack where the man bit back.

The story reminded me of the Sifl & Olly "Panda Song"

After dark the pandas stalk
Nightmare creatures with black hearts
Ravenous teeth that glow in the dark
feasting on bums that sleep in the park

the panda is indeed the most mysterious of all creatures
shrouded in the enigma of it's black and white coat
what kind of camouflage is this?
black and white?
hiding in an Oreo factory could be
that's just another chapter in the endless saga of the panda!

the pandas are coming!
to rip off your head!
the pandas are coming!
on a rampage of the dead!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hannah Montana Release

Should I be concerned that on my commute into the office this morning I found an insightful work related song? I am driving a rental until my car gets fixed form the wreck. Figures no German car parts are in stock anywhere near here.
Rental has satellite radio and I have been sampling the airwaves on my commute each day. Radio Disney is a few clicks away from Raw Dog which makes me laugh too much (broken ribs).

Hannah Montana must have dealt with last minute release loading issues to pull this one off:

Sometimes I'm in a jam
I've gotta make a plan

It might be crazy

I do it anyway
No way to know for sure

I'll figure out a cure
I'm patchin' up the holes

But then it overflows
If I'm not doin' to well

Why be so hard on my self?


Sometimes I work a scheme

But then it flips on me

Doesn't turn out how I planned

get stuck in quick sand

No problem, can't be solved

Once I get involved
I try to be delicate
Then crash right into it

My intentions are good

Sometimes just misunderstood


Next time you feel like...
it's just one of those days...

when you just can't seem to win

If things don't turn out the way you plan,

Don't stay down! Try again! YEAH!

I think I will have to download the mp3 to listen to today while I try to find out who has the patches for the holes in 2008.02 Indirect lending purge fatals. I have a deadline of Sunday January 11,2009 to get this release up and running without corrupting the system. I escalated the cases, and now I am just waiting for a patch re-install. Maybe it's about time to start up a indirect lending module support group? Symitar is being supportive, but I think they're feeling the stress form this one too.