I tried to record this morning’s instructional video last night before going to bed and had to bail because I was finding myself entirely incapable of explaining adding and subtracting negative numbers in a way that made sense. Like, even to me. So I went to bed and tried to get up early to finish it.

And failed, because I slept for shit last night, and I’ve spent most of the day just sort of gazing into the middle distance.

I have nothing intelligent to say tonight. Have a woodworking video as penance.

On not fooling anyone

google-deepmind-artificial-intelligenceSo I got a phone call at work the other day.  I answered it and was greeted with a couple of seconds of silence before the person on the other end asked for some sort of manager– in charge of marketing, maybe?– that our specific store doesn’t have.  I explained that we’re corporately owned (this type of phone call, at least the initial part, happens more often than you’d think) and that not only did I not know the name of the person who was in charge of marketing, they likely weren’t called the “marketing manager,” and they were also almost certainly in Denver and not Indiana.

A brief moment of silence again.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that,” the person on the other end says.  “Can you repeat your answer?”


“I’m talking to a robot, aren’t I?” I said.

A brief moment of silence.

“No.  This is a living person,” the robot on the other end lies.  At which point I hung up on it and it didn’t call back.  I briefly regretted not asking it what the main ingredient was in tomato soup as a quick Turing test and then went on with my day.

Your question for today:  Even assuming that we live in a world where a voice-recognition computer program is the tool you want to use to determine who runs marketing for various local furniture stores, why would you a) program that computer to lie about being a computer when challenged, and if you choose to program the computer to lie, why would you program it to lie in such an unconvincing manner?  No actual living person would have answered like that.  Not one, anywhere.

Theories are welcome.

In which NAILED IT!

Let’s start with the picture from the recipe, shall we?

1482805_271797289641052_303151807_nAnd here’s the entire recipe.  I found this on Facebook:

Cream Cheese Mints
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
exactly 1/2 teaspoon peppermint or spearmint extract
3 cups powdered sugarBeat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth, add the extract and some of the powdered sugar and mix until combined well. Then add the remaining sugar and mix until well combined.

Shape into 1/2″ balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press flat with a fork and then chill until ready to serve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two weeks or freeze for up to two months.


Lies.  LIES, I tell you!  First of all, you cannot meaningfully do anything to four ounces of cream cheese with a mixer.  Four ounces of cream cheese is a very small amount of cream cheese, folks!  I knew this, but fooled myself into thinking I didn’t, and thus did not immediately double the recipe.  The cream cheese immediately sucked itself into the blades of the mixer and stayed there, mocking me.  Adding the sugar, a cup at a time, didn’t help much, and when I was done I had a lump of cream cheese and sugar maybe the size of a baseball.  Maybe.

I love the verb “shape.”  Does it say how?  Of course not.  I had pictured some sort of rolling with my hands, as I’ve done with a variety of meatballs and my reindeer shit, but it’s cream cheese with sugar in it.  It’s way too goddamn sticky for that.  I considered coating my hands with sugar, like I’d do with flour if I was working with dough, but, y’know, sugar is pretty sticky itself, and I don’t think that would have worked.  I ended up using a melon baller, which did the job OK, I guess, but didn’t produce anything even remotely round.  Press it with a fork?  Fuck you, it sticks to the fork.  

So basically I ended up with a dozen or so cream cheese lumps that I just put on a plate, because the idea that I needed an entire cookie sheet for them was ludicrous– this does not produce very many not-cookie things.  They were horrifying-looking.  I knew they’d be tasty, as I’d sampled them, and it’s not exactly surprising when peppermint, cream cheese and sugar produces something good, but hell if they didn’t look terrible.

So I melted a few dozen chocolate chips and drizzled some chocolate on them too, because to hell with it.


Nailed. It.


Oh man oh man oh man oh man dudes.

Dinner at my brother’s today, and MLW and I are bringing most of the food.  There will be SO MANY food pictures later.  One of the recipes I’ve made before– I’m good at my baked ziti and have made it a few times and it’s going to be delicious and I’m not going to screw it up.

But dessert.  I’m making dessert too.  Two different kinds!  Cookies and apple crisp!  And I’m going to screw both of them up because the universe will not let me bake correctly.  So you have an “I’m an idiot” post to look forward to later!  You guys love those!


Parenting fail of the day


True fact:  George H. W. Bush is my favorite Republican president of my lifetime.  Which, I admit, isn’t saying a whole lot, but unlike Ford, Reagan, and Bush II I at least feel like the evil old nut-cutting CIA sumbitch had a little bit of a soul.    (Well, OK, I’ve got nothing against Ford.  But he was only president for a couple of months of my life anyway so I can safely disregard him.)  “George H. W. Bush is witness at gay wedding” means precisely nothing meaningful to anybody who wasn’t at the wedding.  It doesn’t really signal any change in the zeitgeist that wasn’t already happening no matter how much I want it to– Republicans have always been for rights for their people, and some of them– like, say, Satan— are pro gay marriage because there are acknowledged gay people in their family.  This has been true for a while.

I really only posted the picture because I want someone to explain the socks.  There is no way the former President of the United States leaves the house in mismatched socks unless he wants to, and I want to know why. Someone tell me.

Long intro to a very short anecdote, but I think it’s funny anyway:  I had to put the boy in his high chair earlier, and decided before I did so that I would lift him way above my head.  He loves this, like all little kids do.  I’m never doing it again, because this time he chose to take advantage of his added height by kicking me in the chest with both feet.  For which he was nearly dropped on his head.  Which would somehow have been my fault.  I think I have bruises.

Pointless griping time– As anyone who knows me IRL is already aware, I started a stupid little project on January 1 where I decided to keep track of all the books I read for a year.  I’m using Facebook to track everything– in fact, book posts are the only thing that I let stick around on Facebook for more than a couple of days.  I’m also keeping track in a spreadsheet, which you would think would make Facebook irrelevant but it’s not.

You knew I was a data nerd, right?  So of course I have numbers.  I have, as of right now, September 26th, reading my 145th book of the year.  That’s not a typo.  145 books, at an average of 336 pages each.  Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll cross 50,000 pages on the year; I read approximately 175 pages a day.  This does not count comic books (at least four or five a week, sometimes more) or anything online, although it’s included a handful of ebooks.  That’s every day.

I’m not bragging.  I suspect this may qualify as mental illness.

At some point, it became clear that it was within the realm of possibility for me to read 200 books in 2013.  I am, right now, five books off that pace– I’d need to have read 150 by the end of September; there are four days left to read those five books– which is actually possible if I’m careful about what books I choose, but probably won’t happen.

Here’s the problem:  As soon as I realized I could conceivably read 200 books in a year, the list became about reading 200 books in a year, and despite my respectable per-book average, I’m really starting to tilt my reading toward shorter books and rereads that I can get through quickly so that I can get “caught up” to this meaningless goal that only I know about and absolutely no one cares about so that at the end of the year I can brag to no one at all about how I read 200 books a year.  This even though I could easily justify telling people I read 175 books a year without fear of contradiction and without altering my reading habits.  The median number of books read by Americans?  Six.  The average is twelve, but that’s inflated by psychotics like myself.  Either way, right now I’ve squared the number of books the average American read last year and I still have three months left in 2013.  200 is not more impressive than 175; it’s just rounder.

I have a problem.  I have four or five hefty nonfiction books and Gone with the Wind (did you know that book is a thousand goddamn pages long?) on my shelf waiting for me and I’m not reading them because I know I can’t finish them in a day or two.  That’s fucked up, and the fact that I want to do something about it but apparently can’t is weird even for me.