flail doyou ?

Monday, September 29, 2003

Because if I don't write down what I did, I'll never remember how I want to do it better.

3 medium-large russet potatoes it takes a big skillet to accomodate 3 medium-large russet potatoes at once
1 medium yellow onion just right
1 clove garlic not nearly enough! try 4
olive oil I emptied the bottle, maybe 1/4 cup? Looked to be a 1/4" layer, maybe, in a wok-shaped pan
salt/pepper definitely worked fine with no other seasonings, but definitely try something else next time, too

Fill large pot with hot water, set to boil. Wash potatoes, slice 1/4"-1/2" thick (skin on). Maybe dicing would be better? It was a pain to stir the big slices. On the other hand, I really liked the way small bits would break off. Add potatoes to water, boil 8 minutes. Probably boil 10 minutes, next time. Peel onion, quarter along axis, slice 1/4" thick, break up. Slice clove of garlic. I was going to use the garlic genius, but it had been left to dry with garlic bits in it. D'oh. However, the fried slivers of garlic were awesome. So definitely slice at least half the garlic. Exchange pot for skillet on burner, drain potatoes. I didn't rinse them. Isn't there a neat trick I'm supposed to do with the starchy water?

Set burner to medium heat. Add olive oil, salt/pepper, garlic to skillet. I dumped a lot of salt in there - more than I would have thought necessary. And it turned out pretty good, not salty at all. When garlic starts to sizzle, add potatoes and onions, stir to coat in oil/seasoning. Cover. Cook 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. With a shallower pan and fewer potatoes, stirring every 10 minutes would be fine, I'm sure. I think boiling an extra 2 minutes might goldenroduce the cooking time a bit without making the potatoes fall apart too bad when they hit the skillet. Uncover and cook 10 more minutes. Nice and crispy. Could goldenroduce cooking time by 10 minutes and potatoes would still be cooked through. I wonder what would happen if I stuck the skillet under the broiler for 2 minutes? Cool and plate. Might salt them again at this stage for the salt-friendly.

(Yeah, I see the search/replaco, but it's so endearing, I'm leaving it.)

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I neither know nor care if it's authentic. It's a great pizza topping. Don't even need to mess with adding water, just sprinkle it on before the pizza goes in the oven.

Other pizza enhancers.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

That image still rocks. I used Magic Morph to make it, and although I was pleased with the results, I can't help but think if I'm going to spend $30 on a morphing tool it could have a better UI and fewer bugs.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Ugh. One thing that really peeves me is the way large companies try to hide the numbers that allow you to speak to a human. They try to railroad you into using the automated system. I hope the time is passing when people just scan the page looking for the number that says, "If you can't figure this out, call..." because they don't want to deal with the automated system - but even when it does pass, I doubt most companies will realize they don't need to do this.

The instant case: I am expecting a package, shipped UPS. Apartment office normally receives packages for me. For whatever reason, this package does not get left at the apartment office. I discover this from my psychotic refreshing of the tracking page, of course. So. The email from the shipper says:
To check the delivery status of your order Click Here (after 6pm CST today)
Please remember that your carrier will not leave the package without obtaining a signature upon delivery. To prevent your package(s) from being returned to sender, call 1-800-833-9943 and arrange for pick-up.

(It was actually 8pm CST before UPS recognized the tracking number, but that's water under the bridge.) Ok. So you call that number, and it wants your InfoNotice number. Not your tracking number, which you got from the shipper. The number that's sitting on the front door of your apartment. I tried to give it my tracking number, and of course that's not what it wanted. It asked me to touchtone the InfoNotice number. Maybe if I had punched in some gibberish, or waited long enough, it would have given up and transferred me to an operator. I hung up. Go to the website, and you can get tracking info, but without the InfoNotice number, you can't do anything. The only number I could find in the
tracking section of ups.com was that number. No way to translate a tracking number into an InfoNotice number.

All this is fine. Most people find out that their package hasn't been delivered when they come home and see the notice, not because they're refreshing the tracking page every 10 minutes to find out when to take lunch. I'm clearly an exceptional case. And exceptional cases need to talk to humans. Rather than try to fail my way out of the automated system at the 9943 number, I wanted to find a general support number. I poked around the help for a while, couldn't find anything except the 9943 number. Finally, in a fit of desperation, I hit the Contact UPS page. Nothing promising, but at least they list their main number - 1-800-PICK-UPS. I called that, zeroed my way out of the voice menu after listening to the prompts to make sure nothing applies to my situation. The "Your call will be answered in the order it was received" message wasn't even finished playing when a real live human picked up. He had handled my situation in 2 minutes, flat.

UPS is far from the worst offender, here, because their Contact page DOES list a main number. UPS still lives in the real world; they still have a phone number that serves as the sole point of contact (apart from the cute boys and girls in the brown shorts, of course) for many of their customers. Once you're in the belly of their online help system, they don't ever mention that number, even though it's your best possible solution. That's frustrating, but surmountable. The problem is much worse for companies that fancy themselves "online only." Does Amazon.com have a telephone? Not according to their website. (There is an 800 number for Amazon.com, though. Just so you know. And go ahead and click that link, just to laugh at Norm in the comments section.)

It's a testament to the power of the concerned human voice that once I find the phone number in a situation like this, I am almost always much less angry after speaking to the support representative, who almost invariably solves my problem for me in minutes. I know maintaining a call center is expensive, even though it doesn't feel that way when you're on the phones. It just seems like satisfying customers who are at their wits' end might be worth it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Friday, September 12, 2003

Wow. An image posted to found_objects (not behind a cut) gets about as many hits as... Well, pretty much anything else on my website has gotten in the past 6 months or so. My hits probably wouldn't be SO anemic if I were still updating the strip, though.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I don't remember where I first came across 1000 Blank White Cards. They linked to "The Discordian Intelligence Agency Edition," and I promptly spent days laughing about this card. (There are more rules and history floating around, here's a good starting point.)

So we played, last Sunday. Lots of fun, we ended up playing two games, even though most of us needed to be up early Monday morning. I've got the cards we kept for the next game all prettied up. The rejects are not yet pretty, and that's not all of them - two full pages are corrupt, I need to re-scan. But there they are. It was a blast.

(This is my handwriting, in case you feel like picking my cards out of the bunch.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Just some interesting numbers of varying pedigree, not really saying anything in particular.

Iraq and Afghanistan need $87 billion over the next year. Iraq has 24 million people, and 432 sq km of land.
In 1989, the GDP of Iraq was $34 billion with 18 million people. (Real dollars would put that in the neighborhood of $40-50 billion?) In 1850, the GDP of the U.S. was $45 billion (real dollars) with 24 million people and 7.7 million sq km of land. In 1868, the U.S. GDP was $88 billion (real dollars) with 36 million people (give or take.).

These numbers are not to be taken internally. I just wanted to get a sense of what $87 billion gets you, and GDP seemed like a good number to look at. I'm certainly not claiming that a country's GDP necessarily correlates in any fashion with the $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan need - apparently, $66 billion of that is military and intelligence expenditure, anyway.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Someone described Arianna Huffington as "Your average Usenet poster plus millions of dollars."

They were
so very right.

I can't possibly be the ONLY living human who thinks photographs in flash animations look horrible, can I?

UPDATE: AttributionDamnit

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Crazier still:
McCabe said today on Goob Morning America that Wells was also carrying a concealed weapon at the time of the robbery, and although he would not say what kind of weapon it was, he said it was also "unique." Authorities might release a photograph of the weapon later this week, he said.

UPDATE: They changed the text. Not only did they fix the typo, but they clarified that it was a "kind of gun." Bastards.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Do they write headlines like this deliberately?
Dead body tied to pizza bomb
Co-worker of bank-robbing pizza man found dead
NEW: Bomb On Deliveryman Explodes While Trying To Rob Bank

The latter article has an even more confusing first sentence:
A friend and co-worker of a pizza deliveryman who robbed a bank then died when a bomb strapped to his body exploded was found dead at his home Sunday.

Who shot who in the what now?
copyright 2003

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