This is Not Tech Writing

Tech writing fails: print, web, and design products that should have stuck with Lorem Ipsum.

Q
Hey!! Its AmberRosa, I have to admit your blog just made me laugh out loud in the coffee shop. I salute you. Lets be friends :)
A

Ah! Apparently I havent’ checked this in a whilllle. Though it’s supposed to forward to my email, I believe. 

But thanks!

What Are You Trying to Say, Stairs?

Hey Team, 

I work in an office, and while most of the cautionary whales use the elevators exclusively, I occassionally dabble in a hobby I call “Using the Fucking Stairs.” 

What I don’t like dabbling in is madness:

image

Now, our stairwells have other signage as well. The classic “No Smoking”, and “DEAR GOD HOLD ONTO THE RAILING.” Now, those seem a little silly, but fine, it’s a legal thing. And it wasn’t really until the 1990’s that people stopped smoking in office buildings [Ed—gross, right?]. But this guy…what are you telling me?

Cameraman, bring it in for the closeup:

CAMERAMAN

The colour blue generally denotes non-mandatory information. Yellow means caution, i.e.: you could break something. Red means warning/danger, i.e.: you could break yourself. Blue is kinda neutral (in North America). So, we’re in an FYI situation. But…what information are you for, signage?

It is clearly a picture of a flight of stairs. It matches the physical surroundings (see above). The area that can be walked on with standard human feet indeed has steps, and the underside of the flight is indeed smooth. 

However, the signage seems to imply that the steps, where feet go, can only be used to travel upwards. To travel downwards, one must …slide down the underside of the stairs? Gravity won’t allow that bullshit. You won’t slide at a downward diagonal, you’d just fall down onto the steps below. Though because the sign is blue, it’s not saying you MUST use the underside to travel downwards. Just that it’s an option. Possibly a best practice? 

Wait, let’s back up. Do the arrows denote travel direction? Or simply which way the user should be facing while using the means of conveyance? Therefore implying that the stairwell is best ascended traditionally, facing  the direction of travel, but descended by walking backwards. This would then double the import of the “HANDRAIL!” signs (which are yellow, denoting caution). Following this train of logic [Ed—pfa, what?] when using the smooth side of the stairs, one should be travelling headfirst, belly down. But that doesn’t solve the gravity issue. 

Oh, shit, this entire analysis assumes the sign is for humans. 

I, FOR ONE, WELCOME OUR NEW MACHINE OVERLORDS. 

-Julia out

7 Words that Came About from People Getting Them Wrong

Since I write a blog whose sole purpose is to cut down other people’s writing, it is often assumed that I believe that the English language has concrete rules that must be followed at all times. 

Not so! There are times when poor grammar will better communicate your point. Start dropping too many whom-bombs and people stop listening. 

The English language, and the guidelines surrounding it’s use, are completely fabricated. My “knowledge” of grammar is the same as my “knowledge” of Discworld canon. It’s a bunch of hilariously complex bullshit that makes me greatly avoided at parties.

To wit, here is a list of words that changed over time:

nevver:

  1. PEA
    Originally the word was “pease,” and it was singular.The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural ‘s’ marker.
  2. CHERRY
    The same thing happened to “cherise” or “cheris,” which came from Old French “cherise” and was reanalyzed as a plural. So the singular “cherry” was born.
  3. APRON
    Originally “napron” often enough as “an apron” that by the 1600s the “n” was dropped.
  4. UMPIRE
    Umpire lost its ‘n’ from the same sort of confusion. Orinally nompere, the n-less form won out.
  5. NEWT
    A newt was originally an “ewt” - with “an” thus it became the “newt.”
  6. NICKNAME
    The ‘n’ also traveled over from the “an” to stick to “nickname,” which was originally “ekename,” meaning “added name.”
  7. ALLIGATOR
    Alligator came to English from the Spanish explorers who first encountered “el lagarto” (lizard) in the New World.

Launch Day means sitting and waiting for the fires to start

Hey kids,

Today we launch the internal site we’ve been working on. There’s some weird talk about how we’ll “miss the old one.” No. No you will not:

image

I am so glad I didn’t help build that thing. 

But I did help build this! And yeah, I still find fault with it.

image

As of now, there’s been no explosions. But man. There will be.

- Julia out

Yesterday, this flyer was in my mailbox. 
I totally understand that being a small business owner is fucking hard. You can’t always afford slick advertizing. 
But you can afford to not send this unreadable piece of terror to my home. Where I sleep. You purport to sell beauty, yet you sent me something so very ugly.

Yesterday, this flyer was in my mailbox. 

I totally understand that being a small business owner is fucking hard. You can’t always afford slick advertizing. 

But you can afford to not send this unreadable piece of terror to my home. Where I sleep. You purport to sell beauty, yet you sent me something so very ugly.

The Gumbo Recipe (because recipes remain totally tech writing)


This is the recipe handed down to us from Kevin Conway many years ago. It has since been bastardized, permutated and resulted in the deaths of many defenseless animals.

Gumbo is not about finesse, exact measurements, or happiness. It is about pain.

It is also about having fun. One time we just put a whole fucking ham in the pot. One time I accidentally confused protein powder for flour. One time Conway put in like a gallon of oil, and everyone threw up. Good times.

Mandatory Ingredients

  • 4-6 Large cans tomato-based pasta sauce
  • okra (2 frozen packs or 3-4 cups fresh)
  • butter or bacon fat (1/2 cup)
  • flour (1/3 cup ish)
  • 1 club pack sausages (1 kg)
  • 1 club pack boneless chicken thighs (1 kg)
  • 1 club pack ground beef (1 kg)
  • Satan’s Blood hot sauce (4-8 drops) (or another hot sauce with 800,000 Scoville units)

Equipment

  • huge fucking pot (or like 3 Dutch ovens) (I can fit a 6 year-old in mine)
  • knives
  • frying pans
  • whisk
  • slaves

What Julia Adds

What I add is entirely based on mood and the contents of my kitchen. But here’s an idea:

  • chipotles (whole can, with the adobo sauce)
  • bacon (500g)
  • brown sugar (1 cup)
  • cinnamon
  • soy sauce (1/2 cup)
  • garlic powder
  • oregano
  • pepper, salt

Instructions

I usually relegate meat-browning to my sous-chefs and deal with the sauce while the meat is browning. If you are doing this alone, fuck your life.

If you are using several small pots to make your gumbo, I suggest altering the seasoning and spice ratios. It’s fun and some of your guests will appreciate having less spicy gumbo. And some people want to get their asses blasted.

Cooking the Meat

  1. The meat needs to be fried a bit first before it goes in the pot. Set down some frying pans: I usually use two big ones. Preheat your elements to medium. Throw a little oil or bacon fat in there.
  2. I do not cut before frying. You’re just browning, so it’s easier if everything is whole. Remember to pierce your sausages with a fork to prevent explosions.
  3. Add chicken to one, and sausage to the other. I usually keep chicken separate from sausages, because they have diff cooking times. I start with the chicken and sausages, and then just cook the ground beef while I’m cutting up the cooked chicken/pork. Ground beef don’t need no cutting.
  4. Brown your damn meat. DO NOT cook all the way through. Chicken, beef, pork should all remain pink inside.
  5. Now you need to cut your chicken into cubes and your sausage into disks. Yes, they will be hot. I highly suggest getting some slaves to help you cut everything. It takes forever.

Getting the Sauce Ready

  1. Put your huge fucking pot down and preheat on medium-low. Or put your two-three pussy Dutch Ovens down. The Dutch, as always, are scum.
  2. Add your butter/bacon fat. Let it get melty. DON’T WANDER OFF.
  3. Slowly whisk in your flour. You should be getting a paste, but one that is still liquidy. A legit roux should be thick, but this recipe isn’t that kind of legit.
  4. Pour in all your tomato sauce.
  5. Add sugar, spices, soy sauce, chipotles, other jazz. Stir.
  6. Add Satan’s Blood. CAREFULLY. If I am using my mega pot, I put in like 4-6 drops. I’m also usually adding chipotles and stuff. I believe Bryan does more like 8 drops. Stir.
  7. Add meat. Stir.
  8. Lower heat to low. Let simmer uncovered for at LEAST 2 hours. Please. If you can let it go for 4-5, that would be best. Stir it occasionally. Scrape the bottom to make sure it’s not burning.
  9. Consume.

Choosing Your Ingredients

Meat

Get the cheapest damn shit you can find. I get just Loblaws/Costco beef, sausage and chicken thighs. Don’t spend the money on chicken breast or grain-fed halal veal. You are about to coat that shit in ass-burning hot sauce and let it sit in a pot of tomato sauce for 5 hours.

Veggies

I don’t really add veggies, except the okra. Sometimes I add spinach. Usually not.

I usually get frozen okra because fresh okra is harder to find. Using fresh okra is nicer, but well, see above.

Sauce

We usually get 4-6 large cans of Hunt’s tomato sauce or like 2 huge things of basic Prego. I like getting unseasoned tomato sauce and adding my own seasoning. But feel free to get pre-seasoned sauce if you’re not sure how to match up different seasonings.

If you think I make my own tomato sauce for this, you haven’t been getting the theme of this recipe and you need to leave.

Seasoning

There are a million ways to season all this, but remember: the Satan’s blood is going to cover the taste of everything. Please don’t bother with fresh basil, etc. Don’t think about “subtle notes of thyme.”

What I do is pick a generic slightly racist theme like “Fasian”, or “that area of America with Spanish names” and stick with that as a baseline. Don’t mix fucking curry with rosemary and thyme. That’s for big kids.

Hot Sauce/Other Spicy Shit

As a tradition, we always use Satan’s Blood. Satan’s blood has 800,000 Scoville units. Tabasco sauce has 2,500–5,000 SHU. From wiki: “The Scoville scale is a measurement of pungency, the “spicy heat” of chili peppers. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU)  indicates the amount of capsaicin present.”

Satan’s Blood is hot as balls. You CANNOT touch it with your hands/face/cock. You will be adding 2-8 drops or so, depending on how hot you want it and whether you are cooking in one huge pots or a bunch of little ones.

You will need to hit up a speciality hot sauce store for this or a similar product. No amount of Tabasco will compare.

If I have spicy peppers in the house, I usually also throw them in, because I’m an asshole, but there is no real need to add extra spice.

Why Do I Need Flour??

Because you will be making a roux, you barbarian fuck.

A roux is a mixture of fat (butter, lard, bacon fat) and flour which acts as a thickening agent and helps stop the bottom of your pot from burning.

About Cheese

Many of you will be surprised to see that there is no cheese in the recipe. I add grated cheese on top of my bowl when it’s done. I don’t add it to the pot because I don’t know what would happen if cheese cooked for 5 hours. And because this stuff already plays hell on your digestion, so in honour of my lactose intolerant friends, I don’t add extra dairy.

About Adding Bacon

Bacon is awesome, but often gets lost in this clusterfuck. If you are adding bacon, get the thick cut stuff. You will also need to cook it before adding it to the pot. I always broil my bacon. The really hard part is not overcooking it first. It will cook more in the pot, but unlike the chicken, etc, if it’s too raw, it just kinda boils and gets sad and floppy. So you want to pre-cook it until it’s nice and red and a lot of the fat is cooked. Don’t go crispy.

 

Government, Social Media is Not for You

I got a new gig! Excitement, yes?

We have this internal Facebook situation, which I am trawling for the first time today. I hilariously thought that it might be kinda useful. I’m the new guy! There’s gotta be interesting posts/articles about what we do here, right?

ERRONEOUS. 

-Julia out

This is a photo of a page of the TERRIBLE book my friend was reading. He, an animator, took no issue with EVERYTHING THAT IS CLEARLY WRONG HERE. 

This is a photo of a page of the TERRIBLE book my friend was reading. He, an animator, took no issue with EVERYTHING THAT IS CLEARLY WRONG HERE. 

Julia’s Goddamn Bacon Tart Recipe

Hey team,

This post isn’t super tech writey, but well, it’s a recipe, which are actually very tech writey. People ask me for this recipe all the time, to which I respond “Uh, well, it’s not…fuck.” And here we are.

The original recipe is from the LCBO’s Food and Drink Guide. I have changed it tremendously. Example: they wanted me to use 8 large spanish onions. That can fuck right off. 

Ingredients

(Note: If you are making this for the first time, I would suggest reading Appendix I: About Things, before you go grocery shopping.)

  • 2 boxes frozen puff pastry (794 g)
  • A shit ton of bacon sliced into 2-inch squares [original recipe calls for 8 oz (250 g)] *see “About Bacon”
  • 1 large, sliced Spanish onion (cut onions in half before slicing)
  • 1/3 cup spinach, chopped
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, or 2 tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
  • Freshly ground pepper

Tools

  • Huge frying pan (or two medium ones)
  • Large baking pan
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Various knives

Timing

  • Defrosting pastry: 2 hours if left on counter; overnight if in fridge
  • Cutting/chopping: 5-10 minutes
  • Pan-frying: 30 mins
  • Baking: 35-40 mins

Intructions

  1. Alright, so you have two boxes, or 4 “squares” of puff pastry. I use 3 “squares”, and save the 4th for…well, to make bacon tart another day.

  2. Defrost your puff pastry. This takes a couple hours if left on the counter. Overnight if you leave it in the fridge.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

    NOTE: Depending on how much bacon and onion you are using, you might want to cook this all up in two pans. It will cook more evenly if everything isn’t crowded.

  4. Heat your frying pan(s) up over medium heat. Don’t add any damn oil. You are about to start cooking bacon: it’s self-lubricating. You want your pan to be hot, but don’t go so long it starts smoking.

  5. Add bacon and sauté for 3-10 minutes or until fat is beginning to melt. Basically, the cooking time depends on how thick the bacon is.

  6. Add onions, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and sauté for 20 minutes or until onions are a slightly golden tangled mass. At the 18 minute mark, throw in your spinach.

  7. While that’s all sautéeing, roll out your puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle. It does not have to be a perfect rectangle. Slap that badboy into your baking pan.

  8. Using your fingers and a little water to moisten dough, make pleats in the edge of the pastry to make a ¾-inch (2-cm) edge that stands up like a tart shell. Don’t worry about making it exact. When you’re done smooshing, put it in the fridge.

  9. Grab that mixing bowl. Combine eggs, ricotta and whipping cream and season well with salt and pepper. Use a fork: it’s too thick to use a whisk.

  10. When all the onions and bacon are done cooking, remove pastry from refrigerator. Pour in egg mixture to make a thin layer. Spread bacon and onions in an even layer over top. You may want to take the bay leaves out: I usually do.

  11. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until pastry is browned and filling is set. When I make this, mine alwys puffs up: make sure there isn’t a rack placed closely above. When you take it out of the oven, just pierce any puffed up parts with a fork.


Appendix I: About Things

About Bacon

Bacon is the fatty heart of this bad-boy. I prefer to use President’s Choice Old Fashioned Bacon. It isn’t sold everywhere. The package holds 1 kg of amazingly thick cut bacon. If you can’t find that, try to find the thickest cut of PC bacon you can. I used the maple one once, and it worked out okay. Applewood-smoked is a killer, but a bit more expensive.

I assure you, reader, that I have tried almost all brands of bacon in the Ottawa area. A real butcher will give you the best stuff. If we’re dealing with a store, it’s PC all the way. Everything else is bullshit: it’s too thin, burns too easy, or is alllll fat.

In terms of amount: if it’s the PC old fashioned, I use about half the pack. So, 500g. If it’s normal PC, I use about 3/4-to a full pack, so 375-500g.

About Onion

This is some oniony tart. If a full onion seems too terrifying, feel free to lessen the amount. This won’t affect the recipe.

I have always used spanish onions: I consider most other onions bullshit. Shallots would also be amazing, but you’d had to cut up like…8? 10?

I’ve never tried using red onions: it could be an interesting remix.

I usually dice up my onion: but you can slice it so you get long thin strands as well. This also looks prettier. However, long thin strands are more likely to fall off during eating.

About Puff Pastry

Making your own puff pastry is a fool’s errand. If you told me you were going to try, I would think you were deeply, deeply stupid and very lonely. Even Patterson laughs in the face of the idea.

Phyllo pastry is awesome, but is NOT A SUBSTITUTE for puff pastry. Using phyllo in this recipe will reward you with a burnt piece of shit.

If you need a subsitute, get some frozen pie shells. You’d need about 3 9-inch pie shells. The baking time will probably be slightly less, more like 35-40 minutes.

About Spinach

I’m a fucking asshole, so I usually use frozen spinach. This shit is so creamy and bacony, it really doesn’t matter. But it certainly looks prettier with fresh spinach.

About Adding Other Veggies

You…can? I would stay away from anything too carby. And anything that holds a lot of liquid, like tomato. However, sundried tomatoes work like tits. Zuchinni would probably work as well.

About Adding Other Meat

Frankly, a waste of money. Save your cows and chickens for something less…brutal.

I just realized I’ve never made this with …several kinds of bacon. I’ll have to do that next.

About Spices

Spices that would also work: rosemary, cinnamon (small doses), basil, oregano. There’s so much onion I wouldn’t bother with garlic. Since the recipe is very eggy, you could also douse it in paprika.

About Fruit

Bacon is a pork product, so it is amazing with apples, pears, apricots. I again worry about the water they would add. Any fruit would have to be sautéed first.

This Cereal is the Work of the Morningstar

Eating healthy is a complete pain in my balls.

I have a friend who is always “up” on the newest health food/exercise trends.

Last summer, us boys were up at the cottage. Said friend says he has this super awesome new cereal. It’s made from spelt, which is a cousin to modern wheat, but hasn’t been modified to the point it’s a monster (see: corn).

I wander into the kitchen and see…this:

 

“Jesus cereal? You’re eating the body of Christ?”

“Whatever. It’s full of protein.”

“This is, literally, the scariest thing you’ve ever done.”

 I recently bought some of this stuff, as it was on sale. It tastes okay, and the nutritional stats are off the hook:

 

But…the box…. it creeps me out.

 

Text

Let’s start with the quote: Ezekiel 4:9. I have no idea why they are italicizing and capitalizing “wheat”, “barley”, etc. Do they think the Prophet Ezekiel was talking about a book entitled Millet? Are they just trying to emphasize those words? If everything is italicized, then nothing is italicized.

 Here’s the full quote from the Old Testament, in the American Standard Bible:

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof; according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, even three hundred and ninety days, shalt thou eat thereof.

That line is from when Ezekiel was predicting the destruction of Jerusalem. So he’s talking about how you need to prepare enough bread to withstand a siege. And then he goes on to describe how it doesn’t matter, because Jerusalem is doomed. I DON’T NEED YOUR APOCALYPTIC MUMMERY WITH MY DAMN BREAKFAST.


Imagery

Notice the colour of the box? Does it seem familiar? Are you feeling nostalgic? Think about it. Purple box. Happy sun.

It’s Raisin Bran. They are ripping off visuals from Raisin Bran. Inception!

 However, they then destroy my feelings of goodwill by having the rest of the box cluttered with bullshit. We’ve got:

  • our happy pagan sun
  • the huge seal stating ORGANIC for the hippies
  • The yellow banner with nonsensical slogan: “The Sprouted Grain Difference!”
  • the kosher symbol, weirdly placed inside the scripture text
  • HUGE FREAKIN’ JESUS DOVE

 You can’t have all these things. Your box literally has all the kinds of thing. It’s like by trying to appeal to everyone, we all feel alienated. Much like Nascar, this box would only appeal to the lowest common denominator. Food of Life, what you are doing is vile.

Wait.

This box. This box is EVIL. PURE EVIL.

SATAN MADE THIS CEREAL TO CORRUPT THE INNOCENT.

Play me out, Hova: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8h0d00gEh4