Monday, March 24, 2014

If only, if only, if only

After a large number of very rant-worthy things continued going down at work for lo these many months, I finally dusted off my rolodex, sharpened up my internal job board searching skills and got busy.

I was then a bit surprised to find myself on the receiving end of a very nice internal transfer offer, almost immediately. It’s a nice promotion for me, and more importantly puts me back into the development chair – whereas to be honest, lately, it’s felt a lot like I was a line cook at McSpeedyNoms Burgers and SQL Code or something.

Your job is to SHUT UP and CODE FASTER. We have ITEMS to deliver. NO, DON’T STOP, DON’T THINK, DON’T ARGUE! Just DO it, and if it proves to be a crap-decision, well, a) it’s not our problem, it was the requirements and b) we’ll go back and fix that in a future release.

I really can’t be like that. Doing stuff I know is going to hurt the app, stuff that is going to get me paged out of bed to deal with the inevitable failure, stuff that is going to make existing problems worse and render our app that much less usable for folks…it burns me.

But of course, my trying to put on the brakes was immediately met by having the items I’m going, “Waitasecond, guys, this is going to…” about being snatched over to somebody else to “help” me, who would immediately and with a lack of thought and/or understanding that was beautiful to behold would just do it for them.

In some ways, this is the gotcha of having a team largely populated by contractors: Of course they’re willing to do the dumbass thing you just told them to do quickly and with a big smile, even if they do know up front it’s going to lead to having to work all night during their on-call rotations.

They are paid hourly, you idiot.

It does not pay such a one to fight hard and be unpopular because of it in order to have a well-running application; especially when there is no harm to you for doing the wrong thing because you can honestly say you did exactly what you were supposed to do, see? Because, requirements said.

Can’t call somebody incompetent when you’ve removed their ability to even use any competence they have with this kind of crazy-cake development method.

Plus, knowing how to fix what inevitably broke before it even broke the first time? Elevates them to frickin’ HERO status, instantly.

It’s like the wins just keep coming, ain’t it?

And yeah, takes one to know one: I spent a looooooong time as a consultant / contractor. You don’t have to like the game, but it is how it is played…and contractors who do try to “take ownership” and “own” design and tell the people who sign their checks that they are being dumbasses…are not going to collecting those check for long.

No matter how carefully they phrase their objections so as to avoid actually calling anybody a dumbass. 

But I digress. Rantingly.

Anyway, this was about a month ago – which at the time seemed like an impossibly long time, plenty of time to do anything I could possibly want to do in terms of hand-offs and knowledge-transfers and other such things.


I have exactly three more days of work-time left before I am technically no longer working for this group. And I still have a pile of stuff up to here that hasn’t been handed off, talked about, or otherwise settled in any way.

And there are still a few folks who are very much NOT OK with me leaving.

A few of them are downright annoyed about it.

And a few others are slightly panicked about it. Which is why both last week and today so far have been spent stopping a lot and going, “There, there, no, it’ll be OK, c’mon…you guys can totally handle this, I don’t do that much around here…”

I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen after I leave; while I’m pretty sure the answer is “nothing, everything will just keep on keeping on, just like it does today,” there’s a part of me that worries that it really won’t.

That this is cutting the team just a little too deeply; that we really are losing “the last” developer on the team who has the intensity to really stay on top of everything our beautiful – but rather demanding and occasionally irrational – application gets up to night and day.

I’m sure I’m wrong. It managed before I came along, I’m sure it will manage after I’ve gone too; and while I’m leaving her a little bit light on the seasoned backend developer / DESIGNER side, well, they weren’t going to let me be that for her anyway.

What will be will be, whether I stay or whether I go.

But of course, all I could ever really do was stand on the sidelines pointing out the cracks and saying, “Right there. There. We need to fix that. That’s a load-bearing wall, you can’t ignore cracks in it. Hello? Is this thing on mute? SEE THAT? RIGHT THERE? THAT IS BAD, VERY VERY BAD, WE NEED TO FIX THAT NOW…what are you doing? that’s going to make it worse, not better, what is wrong with you? hello? you’re ignoring me, aren’t you…ooooookay, and now the DBAs are hollering at us because the damned thing just erupted into flames and fell over…can we please fix the…what are you doing? No, you can’t just slap a patch over it, we need to…holy snot rockets, you’re gonna just patch it so it looks OK, aren’t ya…never mind ME, what do I know about anything, I’ve only been doing this shit for a hair over fifteen YEARS now, what could I POSSIBLY have picked up about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to relational databases…sure, why not, just go ahead and add more RBAR, ignore the space issues, who cares about how the tempdb is doing, WHATEVER, IT’S JUST A RENTED CAR, RIGHT?!

{rips up resume and throws confetti out window – MAZEL TOV!}


My team, I will miss. Dreadfully. And the application, too, because there were so many interesting things we could have done together. We shoulda coulda woulda, if only if only if only.

But I won’t miss any of the things that kept us from doing it.

Not even a little tiny bit.


Monday, March 03, 2014

The ‘Only Happens To Me’ Files, #2,721

I swear, sometimes I really do ask myself why I ever leave the house. It sometimes feels as though every time I go forth amongst my fellow man, if there is even one person who wakes up that day thinking, You know what? I’m feeling EXTREMELY random and am in the mood to SHARE this randomness with someone!, they will be brought into my path in order that I will be left staring after them muttering, …what the @^*&@ just happened THERE?! to myself.

Which is itself prone to making people stare at you.

Anyway, today was apparently clearly you are not knowledgeable about that sort of thing day. Which is to say that not once but twice, someone mistook me for a member of the common buying-plastic-wrapped-baked-goods sects.

I am starting to develop a complex about it. I may have to start dusting myself with flour before I leave the house, in order to make it obvious that I do, too, bake.


With ingredients. Such as flour, sugar, water, milk, eggs, yeast…

The first time, it was over muffins.

Yes. Muffins.

When I bake muffins to put in the freezer for breakfasts, I use mini pie pans – like these guys. They’re bigger than a typical made-in-a-muffin-pan muffin, but still smaller than the typical bakery muffin.

This frequently leads to the understandable assumption that I purchased the muffin somewhere “downstairs” – at the Starbucks or one of the neighborhood bakeries or something like that.

Which I would, if I weren’t a) cheap and b) picky.

So this morning I grabbed a muffin out of the freezer and took it with me for breakfast. As I was warming it up at work – at Too Early O’Clock – a lady I’ve never met (possibly because I’m only in the office maybe once a week, and almost never on Mondays but this week is special that way) came into the kitchen, looked at it in the microwave, and remarked that she didn’t know such-and-so place was open that early.

I rejoined that this had come from my freezer, not such-and-so place, ha ha ha.

She looked me in the eye and said, “No it didn’t, they sell those.”

So I looked her in the eye and said, “They may sell muffins, but they don’t sell these, because I made these.

This is where things get slightly surreal.

“No you didn’t. You probably can’t even say what’s in them.”

{reseats bifocals on nose} Challenge. Accepted.

“Flour, sugar, salt, butter, baking powder, plain yogurt, juice and zest of two lemons, half an average nutmeg, ground, and a sprinkling of raw sugar on top for the crunch.”

And she looked me in the eye again and said, “See, that just proves they came from such-n-so. That’s what it says on their label.”

And then she wandered away, while I stood there thinking up all kinds of snappy comebacks that really shouldn’t be said in an office environment.

But then I shrugged and chalked it up to being Before Coffee o’Clock logic at work and went on with my day.

Now, fast forward several hours. I’m waiting at the ladies room after a meeting because why is it that we ladies so frequently seem to be standing around waiting like this, and these two youngish gals are doing the, “I know, you know?” thing about this and that.

And then one of them started going on and on about you know, that thing, you know, somebody was talking about it earlier and it was that THING, you know, the one with the stuff and the other stuff?

And quite a bit of this later, she finally put together enough keywords for me to go, “Oh. She means a cream puff. Mmmm, cream puffs…

Shortly after which, they suddenly (and inexplicably) included me in the conversation by abruptly asking, “You know? Those things with the cream and the soft dough stuff and there’s chocolate on top of it or something? Not the round doughnut things, the other ones.”

I said, “Cream puffs.” Mmm. Cream puffs.

“Yeah! Cream puffs! Those things! They’re, like, in croissants or something…but not like a normal croissants, it’s, you know, different croissant dough or something, maybe they deep fry it…”

And I went like this: (o_O)

For a second, I toyed with the idea that maybe she really was talking about the ‘cronut’ thing. But, no, what she was describing was definitely a good old cream puff, not one of them fancy newfangled cronut doohickeys.

For evidence, I submit the following:


Cream puffs (with omg, recipe!)

(Hmm. Source blog appears to be in a state of hibernation at present. This is sad. People who post things like this which make me sit up and go, Ooo…toasted coconut cream puffs, you say?! This sounds like happiness in puffy toothsome choux crust and I must make it IMMEDIATELY-ish…need to continue posting things. Many, many things. I – nay, the WORLD – needs these things. NEEDS. THEM. I have spoken. Make it so. Hail Pharaoh.)

But, partly by way of making SURE I was right so that I could sleep well tonight, and partly because I can’t seem to resist spouting off valuable bits of worthless information sharing knowledge with people, I then explained the difference between croissant dough and choux pastry.

Also known as, the difference between a cronut and and a cream puff.

They looked at me as if I had just proposed that the space station had been built by the snake people from the planet Thsssslphfffbbt and that human kind were being replaced with doughnut-rejecting androids.

The first one said, “Noooooooo, I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the same dough. You must be thinking of something else, because, they’re like, exactly the same. I think maybe they just deep-fry the croissant dough or something.”

And the other one said, “Yeahhhhhh, plus I don’t think there’s any yeast in croissants and definitely not a lot of butter, because they’re really light and I’m sensitive to gluten so if they had yeast it would really bother me.”

And the first one went, “Ohmygahd, me too! I can only eat really light breads, you know? Like baguettes, they’re fine and stuff, but heavy ones, they kill me, because they have a lot more gluten…”

And I went like this.

Because what I wanted to point out was something along these lines:

  • Yeast != Gluten
  • “Light tasting” bread != “light gluten” bread
  • Shoot, depending on what kind of “heavy” bread we’re talking about, serving for serving the “heavy” bread may actually have less gluten than the “light” one
  • For example, let’s say I’m making one loaf of typical ‘light’ white sandwich bread, and one loaf of pumpernickel
    • French-style white bread will be all plain old bread flour, at about 14% gluten
    • Pumpernickel is a roughly 1:2:4 blend of oatmeal, rye and bread flour
      • Oatmeal typically has no gluten, except what it may have picked up by being shipped on containers that once held wheat, or being processed on machinery that also processes wheat
      • Rye does have some gluten, but it measures in the so little that you literally can’t wash the gluten out
        • Yes. Washing gluten from of flour is a thing
        • See: Seitan
        • Also see: “Proving” the quality / quantity of protein in a flour
      • And bread flour is usually between 12 and 14% protein
    • Soooooooooo, the “heavier” bread is actually lighter on the gluten-per-se
    • Just sayin’

buuuuuuuuuuut, I had a pretty good idea of how that conversation would go.

Since clearly I can’t speak to Such Things don’t know the difference between a cream puff and a croissant, or that I buy my muffins from a local convenience store, sneak them home, repackage them in Ziploc baggies and hide them in my freezer so that I can later claim to have made them myself even though clearly I didn’t because I also know that they contain flour, sugar, butter, salt, baking powder, plain yogurt, juice and zest of two lemons, half an average nutmeg, and a sprinkling of raw sugar on top for the crunch.


I let it go.

And spent the rest of the day craving cream puffs. Mmmm, cream puffs…