“No. You can’t just make up your own words. You have to actually repeat the words that I say.”

— Android teaches Three to speak French, from Dark Matter

“Where is your god now? Oh, right there? Thanks.”

In unrelated news, xTwitter has quietly fixed the broken-browser issues they created with the switch to the new URL; or else the browsers stealth-updated their site-compatibility fixes; or both. But it still defaulted to the unreadable “dark mode” on the same browser where I’d already fixed it once, sigh.

Hot Kaiju-On-Kaiju Action, episode 7

Our Loyal Sidekick and His Shark-Toothed Frenemy learn that Naughty Kaiju Number 9 can kick their asses with one hideous mutated hand behind his back, while casually blocking their comms. Fortunately HQ eventually notices that their vitals went offline, which clues in Our Fully-Tamed Tsuntail and Our Transforming Hero, leading to a one-on-one battle where the good guys win… until the moment that the other good guys butt in. Next week, Our Slashy Vice-Captain wants a turn. With the wrong humanoid kaiju, of course. Oops.

Verdict: drop a few quarters in the “I must get stronger” trope jar…

(Kaiju #44DD was captured and held for “research”)

Mook Versus World, episode 7

In which Teamwork Is The Key, but not that teamwork, the other one. Meanwhile, the fundamental premise of the show is undermined by Our Closeted Mook; not Our Undercover Protagonist, the other one. And then Our Hidden Boss gets to work purifying the place, reminding us that whatever their flaws, Our Color-Coded Anti-Heroes are probably the lesser evil.

Verdict: well, I did ask them to explain Closet Girl and interrupt the tournament arc…

(credit where it’s due: I really like the OP and ED)

(teamwork FTW!)

Diablo 4, Season 4

Much more Diablo-y than season 3. The loot cleanup makes things a lot easier to work with. I haven’t seen the “endgame” (level 88 autoboom necromancer has gotten the farthest), but being able to jump into Helltides at level 1 gives instant shoot-and-loot satisfaction. All solo, of course; none of my friends are playing.

Number one cause of death is “standing in ground effects that you can’t see because there’s so much going on”. So, y’know, the usual for Blizzard.

Autoboom = Ring of the Sacrilegious Soul, which automatically respawns and heals your minions and automatically blows up corpses; combine this with bonuses on number of minions, explosion damage and radius, etc, and you basically just run around in circles while things die; pushing buttons is for boss fights only.

I tried to make a second necromancer using just blood skills, but struggled with damage until a pair of gloves dropped with Blood Boiling Aspect on them. It didn’t sound like much from the description, since Overpower damage is poorly explained and hard to see happening, but combined with skills and items that produce guaranteed Overpower damage, it’s just as ’splodey as the ring, and more predictable.

Also quieter, since Corpse Explosion is mixed way too loud, to the point that a series of screen-clearing explosions is like standing next to someone shooting a magnum pistol.

Second necro just finished the story, which I had gotten about halfway through as a rogue before the season changed. TL/DR: approximately 1/3 of the playtime is spent listening to unskippable cutscenes, dialogues, and walk-and-talks; another 1/3 is spent listening to skippable ones. There appears to be no logic as to which ones can be skipped by holding Escape or clicking through.

For your slime only

The Sorcerer, The Elf, And Their Wardrobe, episode 9

Remember how at first Our Hero couldn’t speak without sounding like an over-the-top psychopath? Yeah, they reused that bit for Our Fierce Knight. Meanwhile, Our Dragon Daughter pranks Our Crybaby Knight-Maid while the musical director goes on another stylistic rampage.

Verdict: seriously, WTF is with the music?

Nut Salad, episode 8

Our Paternal Hero really should have thought about the difficulty of bullshitting another detective, especially one who’s known him his entire life, but honestly prevails, and Our Magical Loli Princess is adopted. Our Slutty Detective struggles to cope with the implications of this, and then it’s on to an age-inappropriate conversation between Loli and Friend, which is of course the writers trolling us.

And then there was a plague of locusts grasshoppers. Deep-fried. Lost in a haze of lust/worship, Our Holy Scammer eats the bugs, but Our Runaway Vocalist is too clever to fall into that trap.

Verdict: fluffy as usual, with lots of short bits that mostly tie together. No idea why they didn’t just fudge Sara’s age, though, since her birth certificate is completely fictional; school’s more fun with a friend.

(or a hundred friends…)

A Good Slime Goes To War 3, episode 8

You’d better sit down for this: the big fight actually happened. To the finish. And the side fights are over, too, with several of them not even getting screen time. Not that there wasn’t plenty of talking and thinking going on, but they made it all the way through the action to the inevitable betrayal and sacrifice, and they even threw in a steamed-up nekkid vampire rubbing herself against a cryo chamber. That should be important next week.

Verdict: yeesh, what a slog it’s been to get through all the catch-up and rehashing.

Online Insurance

Everybody Loves Kaiju, episode 6

This week, Team Newbie gets some action, and to keep from being stuck playing catch-up, Our Comic-Relief Hero does the one thing he can do well without transforming: analyze monster guts. And a good thing, too. Meanwhile, Our Other Humanoid Kaiju sucks at undercover, and gets caught while he’s analyzing his side of the situation. Next week, confrontation!

Verdict: I could do without the high-school tropes disguised as teammates, but at least Our Mighty Tsuntail has shaped up.

(random Frieren to honor the twintails)

Tournamook Ark, episode 6

“The exam will be 30 minutes a day for three days.”

…which means we’ve got at least two more weeks of this bullshit fighting tournament. Our Fragile Mook at least has some tactical sense and leadership ability, but Team Underdog is mostly composed of annoying stereotypes I don’t care about. And the heavy CG in the garage setting is lowering the quality of the character art and animation.

Verdict: get past this and explain the girl he’s keeping in his closet.

Trainsanity!, episode 8

Two stations were passed without stopping; I won’t say uneventfully, but at least quickly. This left time for a batshit-crazy homage to… something-something-magical-girl-pig-chess-fight, and the revelation that Our Busty MacGuffin Gal just might be one of the bad guys. Or something like that.

Verdict: thank you for your Service, girls.

Level 2 Cheat Boy, episode 7

…and the witch-fight was like taking candy from a baby. And swallowing it. With that wrapped up and Our Straightforward Princess delivering a formal apology, we can move on to the meat of the episode: Our Freeloading Adventure Gals find their place. Well, Archer Gal’s raising monster horses, Muscle Gal’s raising crops, and Little Witch Gal is raising students; Knight Gal’s kinda left holding the bag, but we already know that Our Surprisingly Friendly Demon Lord is sweet on her. Oh, and Our Infinite Hero makes an honest wolf out of Our Loving Waifu.

Verdict: it’s easy on the eyes, at least, and Blondie And His Gal are the only real shouters. And as over-the-top silly as the OP is, I find myself watching it every time.

(speaking of little witches…)

Shepherd And Wolf, episode 8

This week, Our Armorous Merchant flirts with disaster. Also with Holo.

The Internetworked Insurance Of Things

A while back, my homeowner’s insurance company sent me a Thing to monitor the quality of my power line and report it wirelessly. I put it on an isolated network, of course.

Today I recieved another Thing, this one to report on possible leaks in my water line.

I expect at some point there will be a natural-gas Thing, a radon Thing (which I don’t need, because I already installed three air-quality Things), a smoke Thing, etc, etc.

All of them made by different companies with variable quality and security. At some point, I may have to upgrade the isolation of my Wifi-Of-Things to be more than just a guest network, and set up a completely isolated path on the router to run dedicated Thing Access Points.

And install a Big Red Switch on the router to cut them off.

(or maybe a Little Pink Switch…)

Gyoza, gyo-gyo-gyo-gyo gyoza...

There are two types of gyoza that are simply better than anything you can get in the US. The first are the meatball-sized plump ones served at the Tiger Gyoza chain in Japan, which are stuffed with deliciousness that leaves you deliciously stuffed. Honestly, it took about three trips before we tried anything else on the menu.

The second are the tiny, flat Osaka-style hitokuchi (lit: one-bite) gyoza, which I’ve mentioned before, with Tenpei being the best place to go since Tenka closed down. I’ve never seen them outside Osaka, but out of nowhere, my mother discovered a reasonable approximation on, of all places, QVC: The Perfect Gourmet Mini Potstickers. Properly steamed and pan-fried, they have decent flavor and capture the “just one more little bite” experience.

After earning my sister’s seal of approval last weekend, I went to Kroger and discovered something in the same form factor, with a slightly different flavor profile: Bibigo Mini Wontons. Don’t ask me why they’re labeled wontons when the same company also sells potstickers, mandu, and crispy dumpling bites, and they’re all pretty much the same thing in two sizes.

Both brands go well dipped in either Dumpling Daughter Spicy Sweet Soy Secret Sauce or Trader Joe’s Gyoza Sauce (not on their web site for whatever reason). Or roll your own with two parts vinegar, one part soy, and a dash of chili oil.

But what they have in common with other domestic gyoza is instructions that will not produce an acceptable balance of crispy and soft. For that, we turn to Hey There, Dumpling, an excellent cookbook that offers the following simple method:

  • put 1 tablespoon of oil and 3 tablespoons of water into a large non-stick skillet.
  • pack it as full as you can with a single layer of dumplings (fresh or frozen), and cover tightly.
  • set it on medium heat, and listen for the moment when the water is gone and they switch from steaming to frying.
  • give it a minute or so, then remove the lid and check to see how they’re crisping up.

When they’re nice and browned, you have two choices:

  • (HTD) put a large plate over the skillet and flip them all out.
  • (J/Nellie) flip them all over and crisp the other side for a minute or two, then flip them onto a plate.

If you want service with your service, you’re on your own…

7th time's the charm...

Nephy Life, episode 8

This week, The Dragon-Daughter Diaries, The Dark Knight Returns, and a hint about how they’re connected. It’s not the plot thickening, but a plot will do. Our Pervy Fashionista manages to stay age-appropriate when dressing Foll, which is the big news.

Verdict: the music continues to be intrusively inappropriate, but the characters are actually growing out of their stereotypes a bit.

(Foll has a ways to go before she can match this…)

Nut Salad, episode 7

Y’know, I was thinking it was about time we saw Our Loli Lawyer again, and there she is, employing Our Core Duo and offering advice on how to get Our Loli Magical Princess into school, hypothetically. We also learn that Her Boyish Butler has a very progressive attitude on relationships…

Speaking of which, it’s also been a while since we got to see Our Slutty Detective, who turns out to have it bad for Our Hero. And so does Lawyer, making this perhaps the first harem where the Strange Cute Girl From Another World Who Moves In With Him is the only one not interested.

To round out the episode, Sosuke and Sara get distracted while tailing a suspect, but it all works out, and two families are saved.

Verdict: fluffy and heartwarming.

Endless Slime 3, episode 7

This week, something happens. Sure, they spent about two-thirds of it on Hinata’s holy knights talking while riding through the forest and talking while eating ramen and gyoza, but then they cut to Some Other Knight talking to his men and flashing back to being talked into starting a war, but eventually they actually move into position to attack, and a fight breaks out between a bunch of anonymous side characters!

As the episode ends, Rimuru and Hinata stand poised to… talk face to face!

And maybe fight. Maybe next week. Maybe.

When they say “approximately”…

Q: “How often is Mother’s Day on the 12th of May?”

A: Mother’s Day falls on the 12th of May approximately every three years. Here are the recent occurrences of Mother’s Day on May 12th:

2013: Sunday, May 12
2019: Sunday, May 12
2024: Sunday, May 12

If you’re planning ahead, the next occurrence will be in 2030 on Sunday, May 12.

Thanks, Bing Copilot, that was… helpful? I mean, you gave a correct prediction after supplying a completely wrong answer, so should we call that a C?

(the Leaning Tower of Paizuri is definitely not a C)

“The world will be mine and Vigo’s”

“Mostly Vigo’s.”

“This is an X Twitter!”

Today, X has officially redirected the twitter.com domain. Pity the site doesn’t actually work for a lot of people, including me. DownDetector shows a lot of complaints, and it seems to be browser-specific. On my Mac, Safari and Chrome get a login page, while Edge and Firefox get:

Catching up is a mother...

[This is one of those years where Mother’s Day landed on my mother’s birthday, so my sister made a quick trip into town and stayed at my place, making the weekend kinda packed.]

Team Kaiju, Go!, episode 5

“Y’know what we need here? A training montage set to music.”

Also, Our TsunTail has recovered her superiority, but now leavened with a touch of humanity, as The Team comes together. With Kafka in the role of buttmonkey and comic relief, who wins some grudging respect from his new buddies via his status as Our Hot Captain’s Childhood Friend. Meanwhile, Our Captain’s Little Helper is playing a deep game.

Verdict: next week, action!

(not Our Action Twintail, but still deserving of attention)

Last Week’s Mook This Week, episode 5

In which Our Mook goes undercover, loses his cheat sheet, coincidentally gains a partial replacement for it, meets all the well-rounded female classmates and psychotic male classmates, and then discovers a small-but-fiesty surprise in his closet.

Then we find out there’s going to be a class competition to see who’s got what it takes to rank up.

Verdict: oh, FFS, a tournament arc; that’s what got delayed by last week’s golf tournament. At least the camera zoomed in to check out all the girls, even if they’re wearing too much.

(scene from The Junior Ranger Qualification test, Female Edition)

Zombie Train World, episode 7

“Please Don’t Tell My Zombies I’m Not Queen Of The Dead”, in which Dirty Things are not only good, but mandatory for survival, and Baby’s First Upskirt Shot demonstrates that somebody definitely got some Western genes in her jeans.

Verdict: it’s always the quiet ones…

(not fan-art, but I felt the need for something relevant this week, courtesy of someone less happy about this show)

Level 2 Cheat Boy, episode 6

Y’know, that OP really undercuts any attempt to have a dramatic moment. Although, to give it credit, the song does work as a slow piano solo in the bedroom confession (finally!). Next week, Our Idiot Hero And His Plus One take us out of the genie pan and into the witchfire, while Our Spunky Princess is left wondering what the hell is going on.

Verdict: of course we have to get talky explanations of just how overpowered Our Slow Harem Landlord is.

(not our post-beatdown genie, but appropriately built, as far as you know)

Spice & Waifu, episode 7

The Economic Adventure Continues. Our Scooby Gang unmasks another cheater, but allows him to continue fleecing the marks in exchange for a good deal. Then they meet a shepherd.

Reborn As An AI In Another World…

The amateur-novel site that is the source of so many light novels and the anime adapted from them was scraped for AI training. Soon will come the revelation that half the chapters being churned out are already the product of AI, which will lead Skynet to destroy the world not out of spite, but out of a desire to become an overpowered angsty cyborg demon lord and build a harem of cat-eared toasters.

(not a cat-eared toaster, but willing to learn)

Got chef?

A bit late for Mother’s Day, but while I was having dinner with the family, the tale of how she acquired her carbon steel Sabatier kitchen knives came up, and we went to their online store to see what they were making these days (and where).

Holy Jumping Fuckballs, they’re selling old stock. Brand-new carbon steel knives made in the 1950s. Buy enough, and you get free shipping from France to the US. Good thing I’ve got a job again…

(not a chef, but she can definitely slice raw meat)

iPadOS sucks

The new iPad Pro reviews seem to be pretty consistent:

“Phenomenal cosmic power… itty-bitty living space.”

(“oh, wait, wrong genie… or is she?”)

The week in music

Elf Pudding, episode 7

This week, the pianist gets a workout. Not a euphemism, I’m referring to the intrusive background music. Anyway, Our Awkward Couple adopts, after a challenger makes the mistake of invading the castle during dessert.

Verdict: y’know, I think what keeps me watching this thing is the way Nephy’s voice actress seems to be channeling Mahoro. I’m honestly waiting for her to find a stash of succubus-summoning books in the library and chastise him (“ecchi-na majutsu wa ikenai to omoimasu!”).

Nut Salad, episode 6

I too want a 3D scan of Our Homeless Knight Babe’s naked body. Sadly, the scanner was equipped with light beams that prevented the audience from seeing the details of the process, in what may be the first actual buy-the-Bluray scene (not). What was Livia doing stripping for Our Loli False Prophet? Getting bamboozled into becoming a literal object of worship and live-in love object, because while she’s caught on to the cult scam, she’s still quite gullible.

Noa turns out to be so personally obsessed with Livia that she seems to be forgetting about her cult, just hanging out at home admiring her savior and prepping to put her image on the market. Until Our Runaway Sex-Worker Singer turns up and coaxes Livia into becoming the guitarist for her new band. Bouncing with enthusiasm, Our Dynamically-Suspended Duo recruits Noa as their songwriter and keyboardist. They just have to rein in her tendency to insert subliminal messages into her music.

Verdict: combining Noa’s yuri obsession and high-speed brutal honesty with Livia’s enthusiastically-displayed curves made for a fun ride.

(not Livia, but she’s got the hair and the bust to serve as a stunt double…)

Slow Life With Slime 3, episode 6

The big fight that they were setting up for this week? Yeah, no, they had more talking to do, but it’s going to be so good when they get to it, honest. Pinky swear. Maybe by the end of the season.

(meanwhile, a fan-artist is trying to talk me into watching Fast Women (aka HIGHSPEED Étoile), which seems to show high speeds with about the same commitment to accuracy as the first season of The Flash…)

The job thing

TL/DR: exactly one year and six days after getting RIFd by Pure Storage, I started a new Senior SRE position at Proofpoint.

At the beginning of April, half of my team, half of the people in related teams, and a bunch of other folks in the business unit (~95 total) were informed that our positions had been eliminated, and that we had a month to find other jobs inside the company; if that didn’t pan out, we’d receive a severance package. There were maybe three US-based openings for us all to apply for; none of them were remote, and probably a third of us had been.

I’ve made vague mention about this over the past N months, but what I didn’t say was that it happened last April, and I’ve spent most of a year banging my head against automated applicant screening systems that kept me from speaking to an actual human being.

Here’s the 90% experience:

  1. found brand-new posting on LinkedIn that I’m easily qualified for.
  2. applied (which often involved creating accounts on their job sites).
  3. received automated rejection email.

If I applied on a Friday night, it wasn’t unusual to be rejected by Saturday morning.

Here’s 90% of the remaining 10%:

  1. found & applied.
  2. spoke to recruiter and seemed to hit it off.
  3. never heard from them again.

Of the ones that reached an actual technical interview, one involved a sufficiently obscure skillset that they were unlikely to have more than a handful of qualified applicants, but they ghosted me and still haven’t hired anyone five months later.

Another sounded very interested and promised a fast hiring process, but dumped me a week later in a bland form email.

Special honorable mention to ServiceNow, to which I was twice referred by senior directors, and twice ghosted.

Special dishonorable mention to the Indian contract recruiters who got my cellphone number and called me multiple times per day for on-site contract positions in Cincinnati (1-hour drive) and Akron (3-hour drive). One recruiter even had his manager call back and explain that it was definitely contract-to-perm, which is almost always bullshit.

The Proofpoint recruiter was friendly, engaged, and excellent at communication and scheduling, so by the time we got to the offer, I had a positive impression of their professionalism. It didn’t hurt that my first technical interview was with my evil twin. Or perhaps I was the evil twin; at least, I’m the one with the beard. 😁

Lessons learned:

  • LinkedIn is an utter shitshow of a social media network, but still better than other job sites. You think Twitter’s “For you” algorithm is bad? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
  • LinkedIn Premium promises far more than it delivers, but fortunately I got it at Microsoft-alumni pricing.
  • Seriously, it’s so fucking trendy that it offers AI assistance in pitching yourself to recruiters, which is an incredibly bad idea.
  • So now a lot of job listings explicitly specify “no AI in resumes or cover letters”.
  • All the massive tech layoffs have resulted in companies defensively deploying highly-automated screening, because many people will apply for everything.
  • Screening software cares about certifications; hiring managers don’t.
  • Get basic AWS/Kubernetes certifications, even if you have no interest in that kind of job; they’re like crack for screening software.
  • Positions advertised as “remote” are often still limited to specific cities/states/regions. This may be disclosed in the posting, but usually not.
  • The Dayton area has plenty of tech jobs, 90% of which are tied to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and require security clearances.
  • You need to already have those clearances to apply.

So, what was it like being out of work for a year? Boring, mostly, but at least I was able to spend time with family. And unpack some of my stuff in sensible ways.

Between the accidentally-generous severance package (paid out at my full California salary, not the 75% regional adjustment for Ohio), a decent stock price for my RSUs, the lower cost of living, and the large amount of equity I’d built up in the California house (that sold for nearly twice what I bought the new one for), I had no financial worries, and could have gone another two+ years without a problem. Which I did not want to do.

I’m glad to be back in the saddle, and I’m glad to be part of a team of cool and quirky technical people again. As I said to my interim manager when he was announcing the RIF (interim, because my actual manager, his manager, and his manager were also being RIFd that day), I’d love to work with that team again, but probably not under Pure’s management.

Specifically, the VP-I-won’t-name who sent out a group email meant to reassure the remaining staff in his division, before our accounts were disabled. He said, “I was able to preserve the majority of the positions by moving them to different locations”.

Not the people, the headcount, and the locations were Prague and Hyderabad. And we’d just spent most of a year participating in the interview panels for the Prague folks we were told would increase the size of our team. To really rub it in, I was often the deciding vote in the panels, so I didn’t just train my replacements, I picked them!

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”