Let Them Eat Cake

I work for a software company. The thing about software companies is they’re always making improvements to their software. And so periodically — typically every 60 days or so — we release those changes out into the wild. When that happens, the other technical writer and I have to make sure the Help Center is all up to date and reflecting those changes.

But the previous release, scheduled for early November, was canceled. I guess the devs needed more time for the new features. Unfortunately, I’d already made changes to the Help Center, and it would’ve been a huge waste of time and effort to try to roll it back. (Don’t ask why.)

So, suffice it to say that we held all the changes we’d made from the end of October through December 6. All those updates went live at the same time, late in the afternoon of release night.

How many are we talking about? Well, for reference, we normally publish 100 or so pages on a release night. On a big night, we’d publish 200 pages. We have to check every one of those pages: What were the changes, and did the changes make it into production? This is not as easy as it sounds, because we have ways of excluding content, and it’s surprisingly easy to inadvertently exclude — or not exclude — content that gets published to production. Hence the diligent checking.

This release, we published 1,080 pages

Imagine two people trying to diligently check over 1,000 pages.

We spent the entire week running up to the release pre-checking pages, even working from home to keep on pre-checking. But even just spot-checking 1,080 pages takes a long time. We anticipated leaving work very, very late.

Fortunately, the company buys dinner for everyone who has to stay late for releases, including us! This time, a different person was responsible for organizing the dinner. She opted to do a group order from Cheesecake Factory.


Have you looked at their menu lately? It’s really just different ways to combine grease, carbs, and sugar. This from me, and I love grease, carbs, and sugar! But reading the menu, I could just imagine what a gut-bomb any of those meals would be once I’d consumed all 1,500+ calories.

Again: Ug.

But it’s the Cheesecake Factory. Naturally, the menu includes tons of cheesecakes. I opted to take the road less traveled (by which I mean totally untraveled; nobody else did this) and I ordered an entire cheesecake for dinner. Just the cheesecake. 

Here it is, in all its release-night glory, my 7″ lemon-raspberry cheesecake:

Release Night Whole Cheesecake
A whole lemon-raspberry cheesecake for my release-night dinner.

Release Night Cheesecake
Best release night dinner ever.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure the people organizing dinner would let me order an entire cheesecake. I thought somebody would stop me. But no; it went right through and arrived along with everyone else’s gut-bombs.

That’s not to say I didn’t get many comments along the lines of, “You ordered an entire cheesecake?!” to which I gave the only possible answer: “Yes. Yes, I did.”

I took some to save for later, and I took as much as I wanted for the evening (one moderate slice), and then I put the rest out to share. Locusts descended and gleefully partook. It lasted a grand total of maybe five minutes after I made it widely available, and all takers greatly enjoyed the fruits of my audacity.

It was the best release night dinner I’ve ever had. Delightful. 

I hope they let us order Cheesecake Factory again. I’m keen to try one of the chocolate cheesecakes this time.

Oh…yes, in case you’re wondering, I did actually provide myself with a real dinner.

Christmas Movie Madness

My team at work is doing a rainbow unicorn Christmas decoration theme (I found this!). In the spirit of embracing the utter silliness, I have embarked upon an ambitious scheme of watching one Hallmark-style* Christmas movie every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Madness, indeed.

Not that they’re hard to find on Netflix, but I’ve found a handy list of all the Christmas movies available right now.

I’m just going to give my elevator-pitch summary of the experience. I’m not going recap plots, which are trivially easy to find online (let’s be honest: so are reviews). I’ll also include a link to a review I think pretty accurately reflects the experience.

When Christmas is over, I may try to synthesize my sincere thoughts on these — there’s a lot to say about stuff like gender equality, glorification of wealth and consumerism, women’s role in society, and so much more — but for now let’s just leave it light and fluffy.

Week 1 | November 25, 2018 | The Princess Swap

In this movie, you’ll literally know exactly what’s going to happen from the moment the premise is revealed. There’s not one single moment of surprise or even concern that you might not know what’s going to happen. In fact, the director even said so himself:

Most of the similarities between The Princess Switch and its obvious predecessors—particularly The Parent Trap and The Princess Diaries—were intentional. “All we’re really doing is doing a new arrangement of somebody else’s orchestration, and putting our own color to it,” Rohl said.

Vanity Fair: “The Princess Switch Director Answers Burning Questions About Netflix’s Christmas Sensation.”

Sadly, there’s not much chemistry or even acting involved, although there are the occasional wacky hijinks.

Yet it checks all the boxes of a classic Hallmark Christmas movie (including incredibly low production quality), with the kind of mindless sweetness and predictability you must might be hankering for as an escape from the harsh reality of immigration conflicts, climate change politics, etc.

Overall: I acknowledge that it was formulaic, yet I still loved it.


CNet: “The Princess Switch review: Not the classic holiday rom-com 2018 deserves.”

Week 2 | December 1, 2018 | A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

If you didn’t watch A Christmas Prince last year, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything that won’t be amply recapped in the first five minutes. Plus, like A Princess Swap, they strictly adhere to the formula, ensuring that you don’t even need to stay awake for the entire movie to know exactly what’s happening at every moment. On two separate instances, Ian anticipated word-for-word the exact next phrase the character would say.

Unfortunately, I found this way less enjoyable than the original Christmas Prince or A Princess Swap. It’s ostensibly a romance, but most of it follows the strangely hapless, clueless Amber as other people trample her desires — no romance in sight. The few scenes with her and the prince (King?) are so lacking in chemistry they can’t make up for the lack.

Overall: Meh.

Vox: “Netflix’s A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is straight trash. But it’s cozy trash.

*”Style” because (a) they are probably going to be made by Netflix, not actually Hallmark; and (b) I’m counting Muppet Christmas Carol, which will, without doubt, be the best one of the lot. Because it’s one of the, if not THE, best Christmas movie of all time.