Tuesday, June 30, 2009

6-30-09: Connecticut Post: Illegals hired at Senor Pancho's

I read an article today in the Connecticut Post that creates a personal connection for me and the topic of illegal immigration.

In principle, I completely agree with the law. Employers should be required to hire only legal immigrants. But this time around, it feels weird. My family had gone (until my parents moved a few months ago to North Carolina) to Senor Pancho's in Monroe literally hundreds of times. It is my father's favorite restaurant on Earth. We became very friendly with the owners, including Andy Adames, who admitted to hiring illegal immigrants today.

This isn't something completely shocking to the regular customer. Several months ago, the restaurant was purged of several employees who had questionable to blatantly illegal status in this country. The business suffered for a while because of the severe drop in staff (well over 15 employees in total incuding the other locations), but began to recover slowly. The trial was pending. It was only a matter of time.

What I think is odd, among all things, is that there has been a more substantial crack down in illegal immigration since Obama came into office. It's a bit unexpected. I'm not saying I disagree with it. I'm just saying it's not normal to see a Democrat that's more hard line than a Republican. But then again, this also might be decisions made by the Bush Administration that are beginning to take a stronger effect; Obama really hasn't been in office all that long. I'm not sure, but I feel genuinely sorry for Andy Adames. I have a gift certificate from last year's Senor Pancho's Golf Classic for a free round of golf with him. I think I'll hold on to it for a while.

Best of luck, Andy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6-27-09: Another Attempt at the Crock Pot Lifestyle

I inherited an old Crock Pot from my mother when I moved into my new apartment some time ago, and have recently started to get into crock pot cooking. It's pretty damn easy (and cheap!), and there's nothing quite like walking into the kitchen after arriving home from work and smelling the delicious concoction that had stewed while I was in the office. Very nice.

Here is the recipe I am trying tomorrow (from About.com):

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pork Loin

By Diana Rattray, About.com

This is a delicious slow cooker pork roast with a sweet and lightly spiced glaze. Serve this pork loin roast with mashed potatoes and your favorite side dish vegetables.

Cook Time: 9 hours


  • 1 boneless pork loin roast, 4 to 6 pounds
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


Wash pork roast, trim excess fat, pat dry, and rub with garlic halves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then prick the roast all over with a fork or skewer.

In a cup or bowl, combine 1 cup of the brown sugar, the mustard, and vinegar. Rub all over the roast.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours. Pour off the excess juices.

combine the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar with cinnamon; Spread the mixture over the top of the roast. Cover and continue cooking on LOW for 1 hour longer.

Serves 6 to 8.

Friday, June 26, 2009

6-26-09: Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"

I saw a review of their new album in TIME. This is pretty good stuff.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

6-25-09: RIP Michael Jackson

Despite all the jokes people could make, he was a hell of an artist.

Here's one of my favorites (no this isn't a conspiracy theory joke):

Don't Get Tripped Up By Tricky Interview Questions

I do interviews for my company. These answers are spot on.


Sent to you by Pat via Google Reader:


via Alexandra Levit's Water Cooler Wisdom by Alexandra Levit on 6/24/09

Job hunting?  Don't get tripped up by these tricky interview questions (courtesy of Ford R. Myers, author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring).

1.       What weaknesses do you have for this job?

Answer is to ponder the question for a while, and then state that "you can't think of any weaknesses that would compromise your performance at this job or that would negatively impact your handling of the job's responsibilities."

2.       Are you considering other positions at this time?

Simply say "Yes." If you say no, you'll seem like a loser who nobody else values as an attractive candidate.

3.       What changes would you make to our company if you came on board?

This question can instantly derail your candidacy.  No matter how comfortable you may feel with your interviewer or the situation, you are still an outsider. No one, including your interviewer, likes to think that a know-it-all outsider is going to come in, turn the place upside down, and promptly demonstrate what idiots everybody at the company has been for years.

4.       What do you expect to get in this job that you haven't gotten in your current/previous job?

State that your current/previous jobs have met or exceeded your expectations. With this new position, you would hope to have broader responsibilities and make greater contributions over time.

5.       Tell me about the greatest achievement, and the greatest disappointment in your life.

Give one personal example (like meeting your spouse and getting married, putting yourself through college, saving up to buy your first house, etc.). Then give your best professional accomplishment story (make it relevant to the company's apparent needs and challenges). As for the disappointment, give an answer similar to the one above, such as, "Overall, I would say that I'm quite satisfied with the way my life and career have been developing, so I really can't think of any major disappointments."

6.       What did you like best/least about your last job?

Explain what you liked best. Then say, "While every job has its challenges, I have been fortunate enough to learn and grow professionally in each of the positions I have held."

7.       Why should I hire you?

This is a killer question, because so many candidates are unprepared for it. If you hesitate or improvise, you'll blow it.  If you know the employer's greatest needs and challenges, this question will give you a big advantage over other candidates because you'll offer better reasons for getting hired than anyone else. Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly or not, this is the most important question of your interview! After all, the interviewer must answer this question favorably in his or her own mind before you'll be hired. So, here's what to do. Walk through each of the position's requirements as you understand them, and follow each item with how well you meet that requirement.

8.       At your previous job(s), what did you think management could have done to make you function more effectively as an employee?

Say something like: "My employer was very good in providing resources and support to my position, so I have no complaints about this."

9.   Tell me about the best/worst boss you've ever had.

Say, "While every boss has been different, I have worked productively with, and learned something from, each one." (Be prepared to give some examples of what you have learned.)

10.  What do people criticize about you?

Say that "You can't think of any criticisms you have received from colleagues on the job. Of course, there have been areas for development, such as when your supervisors would have given you your performance reviews, and they might have made some suggestions for improvement." Say that "You have always taken these suggestions seriously and have taken steps to make the improvements that were requested." Add that "This has made you stronger as a professional."




Things you can do from here:


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6-24-09: Follow-up: Wired Magazine Article on Data.gov

This is probably a first for me. I first read "And Data for All: Why Obama's Geeky New CIO Wants to Put All Gov't Info Online" in a physical copy of Wired that was mailed to me via subscription. Then I saw the online article via a Google Reader RSS feed. Then I saw the video of the interview online (see below), embedded in the article. Marvelous use of technology to cover a story.

I'm a Conservative, I think by nature. On the whole I don't agree with what Obama is doing. But when I saw this interview with Vivek Kundra, the CIO of the United States (the first CIO I might add), I came to the conclusion that, on the technology front, Obama is on to something. Specifically: Data.gov.

Throughout the interview, Kundra mentions how they are trying to save taxpayer money, which is a key principle among conservatives like myself. This program also gets at the core of how the Federal government is supposed to operate, which is partly as a hub of information. The purpose of Data.gov is to allow the American people to tap into the vast wealth of data collected by the Federal government. Kundra speaks of creating applications for the iPhone or starting up new businesses that use this raw data for good. I like that. That's innovative thinking I can believe in.

There are also some obvious drawbacks. There's always going to be the question of how the Administration's agenda plays into it (healthcare reform is one). It'd be hard to prove, since they are merely providing raw data, but people always suspect bias. What I'd like to see, as a person who mostly disagrees with Obama's tax and spend policies, is something from Data.gov that changes how the Obama Administration operates. That would be good. I don't want this to simply be a program that says "Hey, look at how ass-backwards the Bush Administration was. All they ever did was delete a bunch of e-mails." Transparency is all well and good, but if it doesn't serve a general and objective purpose, people will simply see it as a political football.

There is a lot of promise in Data.gov, and I am really interested in seeing it succeed on an objective level.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Article from Wired Magazine on Data.gov

Pat Canny thought you'd like to see this on wired.com

An interesting read.

Click here to see the page on wired.com: http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/magazine/17-07/mf_cio/

6-23-09: Big Summer o' Soccer

It is shaping up to be a really nice summer for soccer fans in the U.S. We still have the Confederations Cup going strong, with the U.S. playing Spain tomorrow (2:30PM ET on ESPN2) and the tournament final set for Sunday. Next up for the U.S. squad is the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.

But I'm looking forward to a special treat: the World Football Challenge. They may mostly be in "pre-season" mode, but six big teams are playing here in the U.S., and I'm very tempted to check out the AC Milan vs. Inter Milan matchup in Foxborough on July 26th.

Here's the schedule of matches and TV broadcasts for that:

July 19, 2009, 19:00 EST
Club América  v  Inter Milan

July 21, 2009, 23:00 EST
Chelsea  v  Inter Milan

July 22, 2009, 19:00 EST
Club América  v  Milan

July 24, 2009, 20:00 EST
Chelsea  v  Milan

July 26, 2009, 17:00 EST
Inter Milan  v  Milan

July 26, 2009, 19:00 EST
Chelsea  v  Club América

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I'm not really into video games all that much (mostly shallow sports games), but I do like Star Wars themed games (though I rarely buy any). I found these two videos on Youtube for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Good geeky glory.

6-21-09: John Hodgman: Jocks vs. Nerds

Thursday, June 18, 2009

MLB.com News Story - Orr emerges from Monster to meet Bay

Pat (pat.canny@gmail.com) has sent you a message from MLB.com.

Bobby Orr: what a guy.

Orr emerges from Monster to meet Bay
June 18th, 2009
Ian Browne / MLB.com

A lifelong hockey fanatic, Jason Bay was disappointed he didn't get to meet Bobby Orr before Wednesday's game. So the Boston Bruins legend surprised the Red Sox left fielder by coming out of the Green Monster to shake hands.


Thanks for visiting MLB.com, where baseball is always on

Monday, June 15, 2009

6-15-09: Manchester Orchestra - "I've Got Friends"

I heard this song for the first time today, and it's now stuck in my head.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

6-14-09: Confederations Cup

Today marks the beginning of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa. The first match featured South Africa, the host nation, and Iraq, the Asian Cup winners.

The tournament is held every four years in the same nation hosting the following year's FIFA World Cup. The participants are the winners of the various FIFA confederations, six in all, as well as the defending World Cup winner and the host nation. This year's participants are (in alphabetical order):

Egypt (CAF)
Iraq (AFC)
Italy (World Cup 2006 Champion)
New Zealand (OFC)
South Africa (Host)
Spain (UEFA)
United States (CONCACAF)

The tournament isn't as competitive as the Euros, or nearly as popular as the World Cup, but is a good opportunity to see some countries you might not often see. I'm looking forward to it as a good warm-up to next summer's World Cup. The first match was mostly a dud, with two low-ranking teams. It got a little more entertaining towards the end when South Africa started to make a push, but still finished 0-0. There is another match, which starts today at 2:30PM ET, against New Zealand and Spain. It should hopefully be a better match.

Here's the tournament schedule and broadcast times (from ESPN Soccernet):

Sunday, June 14, 2009
10:00 ET South Africa v Iraq Group A Ellis Park
14:30 ET New Zealand v Spain Group A Real Bafokeng
Monday, June 15, 2009
10:00 ET Brazil v Egypt Group B Free State
14:30 ET United States v Italy Group B Loftus Versfeld
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
10:00 ET Spain v Iraq Group A Free State
14:30 ET South Africa v New Zealand Group A Real Bafokeng
Thursday, June 18, 2009
10:00 ET United States v Brazil Group B Loftus Versfeld
14:30 ET Egypt v Italy Group B Ellis Park
Saturday, June 20, 2009
14:30 ET Iraq v New Zealand Group A Ellis Park
14:30 ET Spain v South Africa Group A Free State
Sunday, June 21, 2009
14:30 ET Italy v Brazil Group B Loftus Versfeld
14:30 ET Egypt v United States Group B Real Bafokeng
Thursday, June 25, 2009
14:30 ET TBD v TBD Semi-finals
Ellis Park
Sunday, June 28, 2009
9:00 ET TBD v TBD Third Place
Real Bafokeng
14:30 ET TBD v TBD Final
Ellis Park

Saturday, June 13, 2009

6-13-09: Hot Stone Massage

After a good hard day of manual labor at Habitat for Humanity, I could use one of these.

Large Stone Placement for Hot Stone Massages -- powered by ExpertVillage.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6-11-09: Two Years

Today marks the second anniversary of the beginning of my professional career. I was just reading the post I made a year ago, and am surprised to see how accurate it was.

In the past year, I've gotten a lot more responsibility, and am enjoying my professional life significantly more. Things have changed. Some of my good friends have either left the company, or moved back to our main plant (I work in an off-site building across town). I still see them, just not nearly as often. Fortunately, one of them is moving back soon, which should be nice.

I still see some ageism, since I am STILL the youngest guy in my group. It's not nearly as obvious, though. I'm treated much more like a peer now, which is really nice. I'm a lot busier, which makes the work day go by faster. I still constantly work on my interpersonal communication skills, but they have improved.

The only really new observation since last year is that big companies move slowly. Really slowly. I like to see results fast, and quite often it just doesn't happen anywhere near to speedily. I've learned to be more patient, but it can be immensely frustrating. I've been trying to get a new computer workstation since early February. It's been deathly slow.

The recession has hit my company, which has meant a delay in raises and promotions, and a few furlough days. It hasn't been too bad, though. We're doing better than most. I don't know if we're actually getting our scheduled raises and promotions at the end of the month. I hope we do, but you never know. Still, I'm maintaining a positive outlook, and am having fun. I'm, once again, looking forward to another year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

6-9-09: Franco Out as UCLA Commencement Speaker

I heard a peculiar and rather pointless story out of UCLA on the radio about an hour ago. Apparently actor James Franco was slated to address the student body at their upcoming commencement ceremonies, but has pulled out after a student protest.

Before hearing why, I thought it may be because of some role he had in a movie, or maybe he did something stupid. Nope. He's just inexperienced. The student who started the Facebook group to protest the selection said she liked his acting and thought he was a good person, but didn't like how they picked a student who had graduated a year ago. Franco received his degree from UCLA in 2008.

He has been replaced by Brad Delson, the lead guitarist from Linkin Park, who graduated from UCLA in 1999. No protest is scheduled against him.

I think this was a pointless exercise put on by bored students. I don't know why this is a national story, either. Sure, it's interesting in that a young actor can't give a speech, but he didn't do anything stupid. He's just young and inexperienced.

And, on top of that, they're getting some other guy who probably has just as much to tell the students, only he's not a trained actor. I'd rather have a Hollywood star ten times out of ten as opposed to whoever I had at my graduation. The Class of 2007 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute was treated to a speech by... Deborah Dunsire MD, President of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, who coincidentally had just donated a lot of money to the new Gateway Park, and were planning on funding various biomedical research projects at the new facility that almost none of the graduates would ever use. I remember absolutely nothing from her speech. What I do remember was Neil deGrasse Tyson getting up to receive an honorary degree. The famous TV astronomer said "Don't forget: nerds rule the world" and mentioned how he had Pi to 1,000 significant figures on his PDA. He was awesome. He probably spoke for three minutes and I remember more of what he said than Deborah Dunsire (who I had to look up as I wrote this post). That was two years ago.

Commencement speeches are usually very boring, and I hope Delson bores the UCLA Class of 2009 to tears out of spite. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I'd much rather have James Franco, who is a professionally trained entertainer. At least I'd remember something.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Nice Hike at West Rock

Since the weather this weekend was absolutely outstanding, the lady and I went on a nice hike in West Rock Ridge State Park.

We started the walk at her place, which is only a couple miles from the park entrance. On the way over, we stopped for brunch at Lena's Cafe & Confections on Whalley Ave. Delicious, delicious pancakes and bacon. I will stop in there again, hopefully in the near future. I need quite a while to digest my full stack, but it was worth every bite.

Once we arrived at the park, we took the Red Trail around Lake Wintergreen, then met up with the White Trail. On the way around, I got a chance to practice my limited rock-skipping skills. I got about seven or eight skips a couple times. After walking around the lake, we hiked up to the top, where she found out just how afraid of heights I really am as she sat down on the ledge and looked over. I kept my distance, not coming within 10 feet of the edge. I'm not into concurring that fear any time soon. But the view was good where I was anyway. We couldn't quite see New Haven, though, and Konolds Pond is rather covered in algae.

On the way down we passed by the T-Mobile radio tower, and got to see the entrance to the Heroes' Tunnel (more popularly referred to as West Rock Tunnel). It wasn't a technically challenging hike by any means, but was quite fun. We ended up exiting the park at the trail directly behind Common Ground High School. Interesting place.

The walk back was pleasant. We stopped at a park with a playground and threw the frisbee around for a little bit, then headed back.

Fantastic weather, and a very fun time. We wrapped up the day at a friend's place with a small dinner party.

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6-7-09: The Phillips Machine

I saw this on NYTimes.com the other day. Wow.

Details here and here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6-2-09: GDP by State

I got this from a report released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It shows the growth in Gross Domestic Product at the state level for 2008. Look at how well the Rocky Mountain region did! The figures are in % (e.g. Connecticut's GDP dropped by 0.4% in 2008).

Monday, June 1, 2009

6-1-09: Cap and Trade Articles

I found two good articles today (thanks go to Marginal Revolution) about "cap and trade" legislation:

"Cap-and-Trade: All Cost, No Benefit" by Martin Feldstein

"The Costs of Carbon Legislation" by Robert P. Murphy

I think Feldstein's article is dead on from an economic standpoint. It should be, though; he's an economics professor at Harvard. It's nothing brand new, but it's a good, concise take on the issue. The basic point is: unless China and India are on board with global carbon limits, there is no point in the United States trying on its own. Good economic reasoning.

Murphy goes a step forward, and questions the logic of heralded economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. He also brings some of the science in, but sticks almost entirely to the economics. He's quite harsh, but it's an interesting read. The homage to Cowen, owner of Marginal Revolution, is quite fitting (and a possible reason for the link?).