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Mon, Jun. 1st, 2009, 09:31 am
Stripping cast iron

So, Heather has an old cast iron skillet. The inside was nice and seasoned, but the outside was in really poor shape. So, I decided to strip it completely so I could get the rust off that had to be hiding under the seasoning, clean it, and reseason it.

There's a lot of information out there on the Internet about doing this. Some people put skillets in a lye bath for a week, others use oven cleaner. The lye bath seemed like more trouble than it was worth, and I've tried oven cleaner before. Oven cleaner doesn't do much for the layers of crud, it just removes some of the oils and seasoning (which can be useful on cast iron that isn't as bad as this skillet was). And I've also used Chore Boy scrubbers on them before, and it sometimes seems that they take more skin off my hand than they do crud off of cast iron.

This morning, I stuck her skillet (along with two others we found at thrift stores this weekend) in the oven and ran it through a cleaning cycle. That did the trick. The thick (and I mean thick) layers of crud on the outside are ash now. The skillet is completely grey and clean now. I'm incredibly happy with how they look. Once they completely cool, I'll scrub them with salt and oil to get the remaining rust off, and then reseason them. Heather is going to be really happy when she gets home and sees the skillet!

Tue, May. 12th, 2009, 08:56 am
Technical recruiters

Why do people hate technical recruiters? Some recruiters seem to think that geeks don't appreciate the sales and marketing side of job hunting, and that explains the disdain for recruiters. I think they're wrong. Here's why I hate recruiters:

1) They cold call with jobs you're not qualified for. Do you see "Windows Server" or "Weblogic" on my resume? Then why are you calling me about a job that requires experience with either of those things? This frequently happens with crap recruiting companies like Pyramid and Artech that use offshore "recruiters".

2) They use your references as a sales resource. Well, most don't, but some do. I've seen a recruiter who wanted twelve references. If you think they're really going to use the references you send them for anything other than data mining for their own purposes, you're crazy. And if you're a recruiter that thinks I'm giving more than a handful of reference contacts, you're nuts.

3) They don't do the little things they promise you. Did you say you were going to call me this afternoon? Then call me. Or at least send an email. A recruiter at one firm has been promising me a call from another recruiter in his office for two weeks now- she's supposedly very interested in submitting me for a job, but hasn't yet picked up her damn phone. Yet the other recruiter calls me every other day to tell me that she'll be calling any day now.

4) They send you to clients they haven't properly vetted. This is my biggest gripe. I've gone out for several interviews with several recruiting firms over the last two months. Each time, I'm told that I'm the top candidate and they want to hire me. Then nothing happens. In one case, the client isn't returning the recruiter's emails, phone calls, or text messages. In another case, the client keeps telling the recruiter they want to hire me, but their VPs are sitting on the approval for the position. Look, if your client hasn't gotten approval for the headcount, why are you working with them to fill it?

5) They're disorganized. A large, international, well-respected recruiting firm had me in for an initial interview a few weeks ago. I was treated like a rockstar. They submitted me for three different positions. Then the recruiter I was working with there stops returning my calls. Turns out he got fired. And nobody knows what's going on with his clients. Nobody there can give me a status about the three jobs. Look, you're a huge recruiting firm with a reputation. Don't you have fricking contact management databases?

Or how about recruiting firms that have two or more recruiters call you about the same job?

In any other line of business, you'd dump any vendor that was this flaky. But when you're looking for a job, you're forced to deal with them. It's crazy that something as important as job hunting is in the hands of people who might not be able to find their own asses with both hands. Maybe I need to be a recruiter..

Fri, May. 8th, 2009, 08:05 pm
Red House Furniture

It's a furniture store for all people! (yes, this really appears to be a real ad for a real furniture store- their website has a link to a behind the scenes video that's also funny)

Sat, May. 2nd, 2009, 12:55 pm
Nathan Deal and voter disrespect

Dear Nathan Deal (and other Georgia political candidates who think spam is a great idea):

Sending unsolicited email to voters isn't going to make us more likely to vote for you. It just makes us think that you're an inconsiderate asshat who doesn't care about filling inboxes with content-free messages.

Sure, I'll remember you on election day. But certainly not in the way you intended.

(who won't be voting for Nathan Deal)

Fri, Apr. 24th, 2009, 10:56 am
Old Lonely Planet

Today I got the first edition (1977) of Lonely Planet's "Africa on the Cheap" in the mail. I found it for only a few dollars- surprisingly, I've seen copies go for $50 or more on Ebay!

At the end of each country chapter, there's a section on where to buy pot. And there are lots of notes on where to stay cheaply "if you look and act straight and not like a freak".

Tue, Apr. 21st, 2009, 08:52 pm
Bad idea: reporting a fake crime to the police

Georgia State U sent this out at about noon today:

Campus Alert
04/20/09 6:45 p.m.

A Kidnapping was reported to Georgia State University Police, at 2:18 a.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2009. A GSU student reported that on April 20, 2009 at 6:45 p.m. she was approached by a man who snatched her purse. She chased the suspect to his vehicle and attempted to retrieve her purse from the vehicle. The suspect then pulled her in the vehicle. He drove the victim to 3480 Greenbriar Parkway where he threw her belongings out of the vehicle. The student then exited the vehicle and called for a ride home. There were minor injuries reported.

The suspect is described as a black male with brown complexion, approximately 20-25 years of age, about 6’1” to 6’2” in height, with a slim build. The suspect was wearing a dingy white T-shirt with blue-green jeans, with socks and flip flops. He also had two earring holes in his right ear.

The vehicle is described as a gold or tan SUV with dark windows and a Georgia tag.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Georgia State University Police at (404) 413-2100. You may also call the Police Tip Line at 404-413-3211.

You may request a safety escort on campus by calling the GSU Police at (404) 413-2100. A police officer or a security guard will drive or walk you to your destination.

Please contact Crime Prevention at (404) 413-3213 for Safety Tips and Safety Programs.

Then, just now, an update:

In reference to the Campus Alert that was reported on 4/21/09 at 2:18
a.m., the complainant was interviewed by investigators with the Georgia
State University Police Department on 4/21/09 at 5:00 p.m.

During questioning and video evidence, the complainant recanted the
reported kidnapping. The alleged suspect was an acquaintance of the

The complainant has been charged with filing a false police report.

Connie B. Sampson
Interim Assitant Vice President/Chief of Police
Georgia State University
(404) 413-3230
(404) 413-3231

Thu, Apr. 16th, 2009, 09:15 am
It's over

Finally, our national nightmare of men teabagging each other in the streets is over.

Wed, Apr. 8th, 2009, 03:12 pm
Gardening time..

I hereby declare it Spring. No more freezes in Atlanta are allowed. It's time for the front of our condo to look like a jungle again.

Today I moved the citrus outside. Fortunately, all but the kumquat made it through the winter alive. For some reason, the kumquat (which is usually very hardy) died above the graft. Whatever is below the graft has put out new shoots, so I might let it grow a little and see what comes from it. I've already got a small replacement kumquat. It won't bear any fruit this year, but maybe next.

I've got some other new edible tropicals this year. I've got a couple of miracle fruit plants that I'm still waiting to put outside. One of them came from a nursery in Florida that I've used before, another came from a guy in Thailand. I didn't expect the Thai plants to arrive, but yesterday they appeared at the post office. They were shipped bare root, and the plants are known for being very particular about their environment, so the jury is still out on whether the Thai ones live... but if they do, I expect to see some berries this year, because they're pretty large, mature plants. Right now they're potted and tied up in a large plastic bag so they can have a humid environment. Later this Spring, I'll put 'em on the back porch.

And, I'm also trying out a dwarf mango (cogshall variety) tree. I don't know what to expect, maybe it'll fruit this year, maybe not.

Sadly, my crazy neighbor still lives next door, so I can't do my container vegetable garden. I had considered putting out tomatoes and peppers in the upside-down planters and hanging them like hanging flower baskets, but I think I'll use that space for the citrus instead. Maybe next year she'll move away and I'll get a new, sane, neighbor.

My parents have offered to let me put out some veggies in their backyard, and I might take them up on that. I really wish there was a community garden in or near Tucker.. But at least I'll get some tomatoes and hot peppers.

Wed, Apr. 1st, 2009, 10:14 pm
Vintage Lonely Planet

(Crossposted to the expats_in_africa community)
I've discovered that going through old Lonely Planet travel guides can be fun. Yes, I'm a total nerd. Today, the second edition of Lonely Planet's Africa guide ("Africa On The Cheap" by Geoff Crowther) from 1980 arrived. Some interesting points.. if you're interested in Africa. If you're not, you can just skip this post.

Many of the maps are hand-drawn. Several countries (Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, one or two others) have only two pages of detail, as they can't find anyone who's been there... though in the third edition (which finally gets the name "Africa On A Shoestring") Crowther talks about getting a tourist visa to visit Equatorial Guinea, and discovering that it's Tourist Visa #001.

All of the country chapters are fairly brief on detail. Occasionally you'll see editorial comments that would never make it into a modern LP book- in the section on getting visas for other countries in The Gambia, Crowther notes that "the Secretary at the Sierra Leone High Commission is a real bolshie bastard".

Crowther says Lagos, Nigeria is a hellhole, but that "if you are crazy, do not miss this place". Roads in Nigeria are "very good and most are sealed" and "journeys are relatively short". How much has changed.. There are details about taking trains around the country (try that now!), and even information about sleeper cars and first/second class seating.

In the third edition, things have changed a bit- Nigeria has hit its 1980s economic bust and has finished its mass expulsion of Ghanaians and other foreigners. All of its land borders are sealed, and the only way in or out of the country is by air. And that's not a very happy way to enter the country either- Crowther warns that you absolutely do not want to be the last person off of an arriving international flight, otherwise you're going to have to hand out bribes right and left.

I still haven't found the first edition for sale yet, but I'm looking....

Wed, Apr. 1st, 2009, 03:17 pm
Restaurant reviews

OK, first off, I understand that Yelp is a fairly worthless site for posting reviews. I occasionally post a review there, but since they blackmail restaurants into paying them to get rid of bad reviews, I don't put much faith in their reviews anymore.

Still, there's something going on I need to rant about. WHY DO PEOPLE LOVE EATING AT BAD RESTAURANTS?

Here's an example: Country Cafe Too in Tucker, GA. It's awful. I mean, horrible awful bad food like you can't imagine. It's a buffet where they dump the food out of cans early in the morning and it sits under heat lamps for the rest of the day. If you go there for dinner, the stuff on the steam table will have turned into a science lab experiment gone awry. As I said to Heather- the sign says "all you can eat", and by god one forkful was all I could bring myself to eat. Aside from that, the restaurant is dirty and run down.

So, "Robert M" posted a review raving about their meats. He says "the real draw are the vegetables". He goes on to describe them... even claiming that they have "better-than-average homemade salad dressings" and "fresh ripe lettuce". This is where I call bullshit. There is NO way someone could look at that salad bar and rave about their Sysco canned salad dressings and old wilted lettuce. "Robert M" is either blind with no taste buds, or he owns the place.

Here's another example: Heavy's BBQ in Crawfordville, GA. It was also bad. Bad. Heck, read my review for the details. But also read the other reviews- from people that supposedly love it. What are these people SMOKING? "Kristin B" seems to respond to my bad review by pointing out that even though the meat was "mushy", it's North Carolina style. If I was Kristin, I'd avoid traveling through North Carolina, because I think they'll take that as a grave insult. She also opines that "a 'que joint cannot be judged by meat alone". So, I can water down some dog food, add some liquid smoke, and serve it with a fantastic sauce and fresh veggies?

I can go on. People actually recommend that you eat at Oga's on Peachtree Industrial. I assume they mean it seriously. How can these restaurants stay in business? Seriously!?

An aside: there seems to be a common theme to many of the bad southern restaurants in Atlanta.. they're all owned by Koreans. I won't eat at a Korean-owned Southern restaurant anymore because of this (think Oga's, Country Cafe, Kaycee's Country Cooking, and countless other places I can't remember the names of now). Anyone else notice this?

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