Saturday, February 22, 2014
As we walked along the road, we saw fourteen cents and a pair of nail clippers scattered on the ground. I eyed it, and contemplated if stooping to pick up abandoned money would be worth the coughing fit that bending would trigger. Looking over at Calmer Half, I saw the most disturbed look on his face, as his eyes scanned the quiet suburb intently, hand hovering over the pocket that hangs heavy.
"Love?" I couldn't figure that one out. He looked over at me, and grimaced.
"I'm used to things like that being left in the street so the target will stay still long enough for the sniper to get a good shot." He squeezed my hand in a vague apology.
"Ah, but you're in America now." We toddled on, leaving the coins, and the past, behind.
"I love this country."
"I love you."
Friday, February 14, 2014
It was even better than expected - the owner was out, and while his wife was being sole waitress, the son had been dragooned into cooking. The guy was doing his best, and it's clear he really learned how to cook from his parents! However, he's very new at the restaurant - he wasn't up to doing the full menu, and the food we got was made much closer to home cooking than restaurantized-thai. His mother rocketed around looking anxious while he whipped up fresh spring rolls half the size, half the meat, and bursting with flavor, and the tom yum soup I got had at least twice the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves westerners normally get. He did forget that critical question of "how hot?"
That's okay, I know what sliced bird's-eye chilis look like, and how to pick them out. It was glorious!
Monday, February 3, 2014
Well, higher management was making noises suspiciously like giggling, and contributing radio traffic like "After the input from Dagoba, there, the Death Star has decided..."
...yeah. Fortunately, higher was also pretty good at working with me today on "I've got X,Y, and Q under control, Z will take care of itself until the boss between us gets back, So-and-So already has a heads-up that he may need to fill in for me, so when you can spare him from critical task F, just pull him. I go see the doc now, and not coming back till I'm well."
I have good management. Though, higher has the funniest face when they come out of a blind corner, so I don't see them until after they've heard me say "Someday my prince will come, and he'll be bearing ten thousand rounds of 22 Mag..."
Thursday, January 16, 2014
If you're in the mood for the love child of Dashiel Hammett, Larry Correia, and Jim Butcher, try Pixie Noir by Cedar Sanderson.
It's got all the gritty detective feel of a detective noir film - except the PI's a pixie, who's paid to bring a lost faerie princess to court. Said princess lives in rural Alaska, rides snowmachines, is proficient with a shotgun, and has no inclination to go anywhere with a stranger...
As for the authenticity of detail and the level of humor, Cedar lived out close(ish) to Tok. This is a woman with an impish sense of humor, a motherly eye for knowing when trouble's about to get disastrous, a steady hand on the shotgun, and a deeply shared appreciation of the awesomeness of indoor plumbing.
Want more detective noir, heavily leavened with humor that's about as non-PC as you can get? Try Dave Freer's Bolg PI series. Some of you may know Dave already from his Baen work (Rats, Bats, and Vats - a darkly humorous look at cloning soldiers in the future, and culture clashes.)
Start with Bolg, PI: Away With The Faries
Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI's would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies too well, and they're mean.
(Includes a magician who charms feminists into doing his ironing, and the PI thinks the pub's sausages are organic - after all, they probably have organs in them... Yeah, that kind of book.)
Dave Freer is another former South African who, instead of moving to the USA like Calmer Half, moved the family to Flinders Island, Tasmania, where he homesteads, dives for lobster, and hunts wallaby for dinner. He also writes YA steampunk, and helps me tease my husband by reminiscing about food from home not available elsewhere. (Calmer Half is currently counting coup by having found an intermittent source of Mrs. Ball's Chutney.)
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
At which point, a high, clear voice perked up from the small child in the passenger seat whose head barely peeked above the windowsill (No, Auntie didn't believe in car seats, either.) "New word, auntie?"
...such trouble, such danger, such a bright and precocious little pitcher, ready to parrot anything her favorite Auntie may say!
"Cow, Auntie?" Somebody was puzzled.
"Yes, cow. It's a very British insult." Auntie nodded firmly, with a grave dignity.
... so now, I have learned another New Word. Well, it was actually a phrase, muttered with all the force of a swear.
As in, "When's this damnyankee weather going back north where it belongs?"
It boggles my mind that I live in a place where one expects to simply be able to wait out winter by staying home for a day or two, instead of learning to cope, or dress for it, or drive in it... and it's true, they don't need to. Snow is gone within four days for a historic cold! Culture shock all over again, I tell you. And New Word.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Do not accidentally order a dish, with nearly-correct Thai pronunciation, that is a variation not on the menu.
If you do, and realize it when the waitress looks at you in surprise and says "Oh! Yes! We can make that, too!", the first thing to do is hastily apologize, and say no, you'll be pleased to eat whatever the cook wants to make, your apologies.
Realize, the cook is going to bring the dish out, and the main entree, and that when the main entree comes out, the "mild" you asked for is going to be Native-Thai-mild, not American-mild. Smile, eat the dish, try to pick out the shaved slices of thai bird chilis, and declare it perfect. Because it's your fault for absentmindedly letting the very nice waitress assume you know enough about the culture and food to be able to handle the culture and food.
So, remember, self!
Tom Yung Koong is tom yum soup with shrimp. That is what Siam Cafe offers. Tom Yum Gai is with Chicken. Do not order tom yum gai if it's not on the menu, or be prepared to sniffle and sweat through your "mild" Koong Pad Ped! (red curry with shrimp and veggies)
Friday, December 6, 2013
You don't need to be bored with the minutiae of my day, and I'm sure you can substitute things from your own day. But the reason is to force me to look past all the people wanting things right now, and make sure I get the right things done. Distractions and time-eating tasks will pop up everywhere, and competence means your bosses will want to hand you lots more tasks because you Get Things Done. (It also helps me figure out when I need to start load-shedding tasks on subordinates, and when I need to start load-shedding tasks on coworkers or bosses. Surprisingly, when I come back to my boss with the critical-urgent list and say "Which of these following tasks do you want me to drop in order to do your new Project X?", they're usually pretty good about saying "Oh, I'm going to do that myself", or "I think I'll give that to your coworker, instead."
The second tool I use is a process flowchart - a high-level concept of "what do we actually need in order to get the product to the customer?" This proves very valuable at communicating with other departments when I need to borrow their resources, and with knowing when it's a really, really smart idea to crimp my efficiency and lend the asked-for help. (And when it's a really, really smart idea not to, as well.) However, it also means that when one of my subordinates comes up to me and says "Can we try X process change to make my life easier?", I can respond, "If we do X, it's going to hurt Y, which will affect getting the product to the customer." (I don't say 'out the door' because some of the unpopular process changes I have done were to cut down on damage in transit. If the customer isn't happy with the end product, we failed.)
The most important chart I have, though, is the Bacon Theory of Happiness flowchart.
1. Customer wants something, and they want it by the promised delivery date.
2. We get the right product to the right customer, in the shape they expect, at or before the promised time.
3. The customer is happy, and recommends us to their friends.
4. We grow, and get more money to buy bacon. Life is Happy.
5. If we fail to get the right product, or the right customer, or the right time, the customer is unhappy.
6. If the customer is unhappy, they actively recommend against using us.
7. This means less money, so we get laid off and can't afford bacon.
8. Life without bacon is Sad. We don't want to be sad.
9. So, make the customer happy, and enjoy our bacon!
Everyone from the head of the project to the freshest new employee gets the Bacon Theory of Happiness. They may roll their eyes at it and proclaim it hokey, but it does a good job of introducing the concept of "consider everyone downstream of you when you are doing your job, or you will lack bacon and happiness." Sometimes I provide rewards and encourage happiness; sometimes I unfortunately must point out that their causing unhappy customers despite coaching, counseling, and retraining means they will now be one of the unhappy bacon-less people. Either way, we all have a common bacon ground of understanding.