Tag Archives: Liquor

It’s Miller Time


When it’s time to relax, when it’s time to celebrate, it’s time to break open the champagne of beers. 

Today I began my new career as a Magenic Technologies consultant.  I first became acquainted with Magenic through my work a few years ago with the CSLA framework which, during a time when business objects were all the rage, was one of the few technologies that implemented the concept well.  Even better, the framework dovetailed perfectly with the emerging interest in code generation, and all of the major code generators, de rigueur, are obliged to support templates for CSLA due to its central place in the development of the field.  After all, what’s the point of having a code generator if you don’t know what you are going to build with it?

CSLA is the brainchild of Rocky Lhotka, whose book Visual Basic 6 Business Objects not only introduced many VB programmers, including myself, to the world of Object Oriented programming, but probably helped pave the way for the later success of C#.  Rocky Lhotka, in turn, is a principal consultant for Magenic.

If any of these claims seems a bit grandiose, I suppose it is fair to say that I am somewhat partisan at this point — though I feel confident that had I written this yesterday, I would have said much the same.  And since I have in effect attempted what is commonly referred to as a "full disclosure", I might also add that Magenic has a reputation for having some of the smartest people doing software development today — which begs the question of why they hired me, but I’ll leave that for a later post … maybe …

The only fly in my vocational ointment is the fact that Bill Ryan, with whom I was looking forward to working, who actually tech interviewed me for the consulting position and helped me to get the job, is now leaving Magenic.  For some reason I had gotten it into my mind that he would mentor me in the ways of the modern software consultant, would guide me through my first book writing venture, would lead me through the dazzling new technologies coming out of Redmond — but instead he is heading off to form a (undoubtedly successful) consulting business of his own in South Carolina.

And if I now come across as a bit lugubrious, it is probably due to the fact that I am somewhat tipsy.  Not from Miller High Life, however — a noxious beverage, all things considered, which cannot hold a candle to the fine brews I lived on for a year in Central Europe.  Instead I’m drinking a lovely distillation my wife bought for me for Christmas: Labrot and Graham’s Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  I horde it like a miser, only bringing it out for special occasions, drinking it neat with a splash of water, rather than iced down as I normally do with whiskey.  It’s just too good to be wasted due to the dissipation of melted ice.  While I’m on the topic of distilled liquors, I might also recommend Chopin Potato Vodka, for those who have a taste for it.  It is best served fresh out of the freezer, to give it the proper syrupy quality, poured into a tall shot glass, and thrown down the hatch with a toast and a chaser.

Here’s to the changing of the seasons, to the friends we might have made, and to the friends we hope to make.

Drinking with the Immortals


There are various legends about drinking with the Immortals.  They typically involve a wanderer lost in the wilderness who is offered shelter by strange people.  He is brought close to the fire and given beer, or wine, or mead, depending on the provenance of the folktale.  As his clothes dry out, he is regaled by tales of ancient times and slowly comes to realize that his companions are not typical folk, but rather denizens from behind the veil.  He has fallen, through no merit of his own, into the midst of an enchanted world, and his deepest fear is not of the danger that is all around him, but rather that once the enchantment is disspelled, he will never be able to recover it again.

It occurred to me recently that I had such an experience about a year ago.  I was sent by my company to the Microsoft campus in Redmond to spend several days with the ASP.NET Team and other luminaries of the .NET world.

The names will mean nothing to most readers, but I had the opportunity to meet Bertrand LeRoy, Scott Guthrie, Eilon Lipton, and others to discuss the (then new) ASP.NET Ajax.  I had been painfully working through the technology for several months, and so found myself able to almost hold a conversation with these designers and developers.

On the final night of the event all the seminar attendees were taken to a local wine bar and had dinner.  As is my wont, I drank as much free wine as was poured into my glass, and began spinning computer yarns that became more and more disassociated from reality as the night wore on.  I’m sure I became rather boorish at some point, but the Microsoft developers listened politely, and in my own mind, of course, I was making brilliant conversation.

Even to those who know something of the people I was talking to, this might seem like no big deal.  I went drinking with colleagues in the same industry I am in — so what.  But for me, it was as if I were suddenly introduced to the people who make the rain that nourishes my fields and the sunlight that warms my days.  Microsoft software simply appears as if by magic out of Redmond, and like millions of others, day in and day out, I dutifully learn and use the new technologies that come out of the software giant.  To find out that there are actually people who design the various tools I use, and build them, and debug them — this is a bit difficult to conceive.

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf reflects on Charles Lamb’s encounter with a dog-eared manuscript of one of Milton’s poems, filled with lines scratched out and re-written, words selected and words discarded:

“Lamb then came to Oxbridge perhaps a hundred years ago. Certainly he wrote an essay-the name escapes me-about the manuscript of one of Milton’s poems which he saw here. It was LYCIDAS perhaps, and Lamb wrote how it shocked him to think it possible that any word in LYCIDAS could have been different from what it is. To think of Milton changing the words in that poem seemed to him a sort of sacrilege.”

My own discovery that the things of this world which I consider most solid and most real — because they are so essential to my daily life — could have been otherwise than they are, was a similar moment of shock, tinged with fear. 

In a moment of anxiety during this sweet symposium, I leaned over to the person immediately to my right and confided in him my strange reflections.  He laughed gently, and dismissed my drunken observations about the contingent nature of reality.  I later found out he was the twenty-three year old developer of the ASP.NET login control, used daily in web applications around the world, when he inquired of me whether I had ever used his control, and what I thought of it.

The Bond Martini


We all know that James Bond drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred.”  In the first Bond novel by Ian Fleming, we are actually given directions for making a very large martini, which Bond invents and later dubs ‘The Vesper,’ after Vesper Lynd, the heroine of Casino Royale


Bond insisted on ordering Leiter’s Haig-and-Haig ‘on the rocks’ and then he looked carefully at the barman.

‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’

‘Oui, monsieur.’

‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.  Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?’

‘Certainly, monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea.

‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter.

Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one drink to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.’

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

‘Excellent,’ he said to the barman, ‘but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.’

‘Mais n’enculons pas des mouches,’ he added in an aside to the barman. The barman grinned.

‘That’s a vulgar way of saying “we won’t split hairs”,’ explained Bond.