Our Excoriatingly Negative Review of Champion Windows

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:24 am

This review is both long and long-winded, for which I apologize. However, it tells a story that should be of great interest to any potential Champion customers, so I would recommend wading through it.

In March of 2019 we signed a contract with Champion to install a 15 x 10 foot sunroom on our Western Washington house. Paid $52,000 for it. Install went well as far as we could tell, but the first time it started to rain the floor was covered in water. The workers who built the structure came out to deal with the issue multiple times: caulked around the interior and exterior of the wall, drilled holes around the base of the structure (something they were apparently supposed to do upon install), added more holes/bigger holes around the base. Nothing would stop the flooding. A few weeks in, the person running the job on the ground (one rung below foreman, I believe) came to tell us that he had been drilling the wrong type of holes in the base, that he had just been informed that perfectly round holes won’t drain properly, that they needed to be oval in shape. He ovalized the holes, problem solved. That problem, anyway, and only after weeks of ineffectual bumbling.

Next–and ongoing, as of this writing–problem: the roof started leaking almost at the same time as the floor started flooding, every time it rained more than a sprinkle. First leaks were right up against the join between the house roof and the sunroom roof, water dribbling out up and down the width of the junction between the two. Same crew that didn’t know they were supposed to drill holes in the base came out to address the new problem, basically blamed the leaks on the fact that our fascia and soffits were somehow strange and unlike other fascia and soffits. Went on the roof and tightened things up in some way. Leak continued, they came back and tightened things up again, or more, or whatever it was they did. My memory isn’t perfect, but I believe they came to our site three times to fix that particular leak. Eventually it stopped.

That is to say, it stopped leaking at the roof/roof junction. Instead it began leaking further down the roof line. I don’t think it would be inaccurate for me to assume that what the previous crew had done was to plug up all of the most upstream leaks that allowed water to breach the sunroof’s interior at that particular spot without actually preventing the water from penetrating the roof itself, and now the water was traveling down the interior of the sloped roof and finding its way out anywhere it could. Causing God knows what kind of damage to our new and existing structures along the way.

Parenthetically, during their time on our job, we learned that the person on the ground in charge of our project had never led one of these before, that we were his inaugural sunroom. We also recently learned that neither of the two people who put in the vast majority of the work on our site is still with the company. Frankly, nothing we have learned about this whole situation has made us feel anything but less confident in the work done on our home. The impression we got was that an inexperienced, unprepared and under-supervised team was sent out to perform the construction at our site, and that the quality of the build suffered for it. Tremendously.

Over the next two years Champion sent people out to our house perhaps two or three more times. Asking them to come out every time the roof leaked would have been ridiculous, because a) the roof leaked every time it rained for more than an hour or so and b) it would be near-impossible to successfully attend to the problem in the middle of a season of perpetual precipitation. So I reached out to them about once or twice a year, and they came out once or twice a year to try to resolve it. Their general strategy was to apply one or another type of fix (caulk this, add more screws to that, re-tarpaper the roof etc.) then tell us to call back if that didn’t fix the problem. It never did.

The last time they came out, in the dry season of (I’m almost certain) 2021, the person they sent ran water down our roof from just above the line of the roof/roof junction, onto and down the sunroom roof. He ran it for about an hour, saw no leaks inside the sunroom, and claimed to have “proven” that the problem had to be occurring above the line where Champion’s work was done, and was therefore not their responsibility. He suggested that the leaks were coming from the supports that hold up our photovoltaic panels, so we had the company that installed them come out and inspect the braces, no issues there. And anyway, the PV panels were installed the year before the sunroom, and we had experienced no issues with leaks during that time; only after the sunroom was built. On top of that, however, the most glaring problem with Champion’s “proof” is this: having come out to inspect the building during a period of sustained clear days and high temperatures–with sunlight beating down on the roofline of both the house and the sunroom, causing everything to expand and shift in the heat–the inherent makeup of both roofs and the intersection between them was totally different than in in a period of sustained lower temperatures and precipitation. There is absolutely no justification for coming out in a period of hot, dry weather and claiming to have proven that no leaks can possibly be occurring in cold, damp weather. Claiming so defies logic and common sense.

In December 2022 I reached out to Champion for what was ostensibly going to be my very last time before giving up. I managed to get hold of Roy Richter, Regional Manager for Champion in the West. He agreed to come out and take another look at the work that had been done. I didn’t tell him this of course, but if (as he had over the phone) he denied any responsibility on behalf of his employer for the damage and/or poor workmanship we had paid tens of thousands of dollars for, I was going to ask him for his recommendation as to what sort of company (roofing, general contractor, exorcist, whathaveyou) he would recommend we bring out to completely repair the roof from peak to gutter over the affected area, and call it a day. Roy and I arranged a time for him to come over.

The day before the appointment he called up to say that the employee he was planning on sending to our house (beg pardon? I thought you were coming out personally, Roy; that’s what you said over the phone) Had called in sick and that he (Roy) would not be available until after the 13th because he was going on vacation. I said no problem, let’s meet up after the 13th.

Since then I have emailed Roy directly twice and called his mobile number twice, with no response of any kind. I don’t think it’s out of bounds to interpret this as indicating an attitude of, “f— this guy, I’m sick of hearing him complain about his roof.”

Well Roy, if you’re sick of hearing about our leaky roof, imagine how we must feel, living as we do underneath it.

I find it noteworthy that Champion has been acquired by other companies at least twice since 2020; first by a real estate management company and then by a property improvement conglomerate. (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211228005195/en/Great-Day-Improvements-Acquires-Champion-Windows, https://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2020/04/02/exclusive-one-of-world-s-largest-real-estate.html)
This sort of situation does not speak well of the motives of the buyers or the outcome for the company purchased. Typically the plan is to use the good name and reputation of the company acquired to produce a short-term profit (usually by some combination of dramatically cutting costs, trimming staff and reducing quality of products/services), then either strip the carcass bare or resell the business while there’s still some scraps of meat left on the bones. Based upon our experience, the strategy with Champion would appear to have been the latter.

When we first did our research on Champion prior to signing our contract, the company was apparently still hanging on to the last fraying threads of its reputation, as both institutional and customer online reviews were still quite positive. Since then their reviews have plummeted; currently have an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, for instance. And while the reviews on sites like TrustPilot skew towards the positive (3.8 out of 5 on that site at the time of this writing), we noticed that the bulk of the positive reviews were focused on the friendliness and knowledgeability of the sales reps, and the negative reviews were mostly about customer service and–of particular note to us–the failure of representatives to respond to repeated inquiries about problems with the company’s work.

I truly wish we had never let these people through our door. We had quotes from two other, locally-based companies to do the work, but we ended up going with Champion because they had a good reputation (at the time) and a national infrastructure, which we thought would mean stability and longevity. We will be kicking ourselves for the rest of our lives for having been suckered in by the siren song of “Over 70 Years of Total Awesomeness!” As far as we’re concerned, Champion is now just another of tens of thousands of companies that exist primarily as a fine-mesh screen to filter money out of consumer’s pockets. That is literally all you will ever mean to them, in our experience. Even if the people who come to your door or to your job site want to do good work, they won’t be given the resources, and certainly not the mandate, to actually do so. Find a local or regional company, do some deep research, save yourself the aggravation and disappointment that comes from paying thousands of dollars for the pervasive feeling that you have been had.

ADDENDUM: In January 2023 I gave up trying to get Roy to respond to my repeated inquiries and instead reached out through Champion’s customer service Web portal. I was contacted shortly thereafter by Rodney Lacheney, the Install Manager for Champion in the Northwest, or perhaps just the Puget Sound area, not totally certain. Instead of denying the obvious or actively refusing to communicate with us, Rodney agreed (he might even have broached the subject himself, I don’t recall) to send out a roofing contractor with which they work, Forever Roofing, to check out the situation. Sam Josan from Forever Roofing contacted me shortly thereafter and we arranged to have him come out and check out the situation. After arriving, Sam took a five-minute walk around the roof and announced that he had found the problem: the people who had installed the sunroom had laid the new section of the roof over the existing roof rather than tucking it under. There was never any chance in any plane of existence that the roof was not going to leak, and no less (and possibly more) than four different people from Champion had walked around on this same roof and failed to notice this. Sam’s team came back and fixed Champion’s glaring, stupid, infinitely avoidable error, and our sunroom did not leak through a typically rain-soaked Puget Sound Winter and Spring, nor has it since. Check Forever Roofing out if you need some roof work done, they’re good people. And to give Rodney credit, Champion paid for the repairs.

Who will pay for the table ruined by the leaks, any possible damage caused inside our walls and ceiling by consistent exposure to water over a period of three-plus years, the abatement of any Stachybotrys, Aspergillus or other “Sick House Syndrome” fungi that might be accumulating in our now-waterlogged structure, or any health effects we might suffer from exposure to same, remains in question. Not to mention compensation for the hours we spent on the phone and in person trying to convince various representatives of Champion that our roof was still leaking and that they were at fault. I suppose we’ll have to bring that up with whomever buys Champion next, should the need arise.

To summarize this addendum, Rodney was the one person we came across at Champion who didn’t seem to be either incompetent, uncaring and/or unscrupulous, and I thank him for that. He is, by all appearances, a good egg. The rest of the organization seems to be a company in severe decline, and we would recommend, in the strongest possible terms, that you stay away.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2022

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:38 pm

This Saturday marked the long-awaited return of the annual Pumpkin Pogrom. This was a smallish affair, in the name of COVID safety. Many pumpkins were sacrificed to the Gourd Gods, and a good time seemed to be had by all. Many thanks to everyone who participated!


Blessings on your hat and the head beneath it.

Filed under: @ 6:01 pm

Valerie and Curt are right, it’s not fair to leave y’all hanging. And truthfully I didn’t do it on purpose, I always did plan on coming back and finishing the story.

Let’s see.

So we were in the ER at Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe feeling like we’d both been set upon by rabid Sumo wrestlers.
After I finished having my hypersensitivity reaction and they’d convinced themselves that neither of us was going to spontaneously combust any further than we already had, the medical folks told us to go home (oh how I WISHED) and go back to bed.
Which we promptly did.

A profound nap later and we were addressing part B of this most clustered of fucks. Which is to say, we were trying to figure out how we could get home. NOW!

Andrew was sitting in his bed with his laptop and phone. Andrew was taking on the “how soon can we travel” and the “how in hell are we going to get from the airport to our home?” part of the issue.

Since I’d made the reservations I was the lucky stiff who got to deal with the plane tickets. Piled in pillows on my bed I was switching between my phone and my tablet.

I started with American Airlines. We’ve got tickets for July 6th. We want to see if we can move them up to July 4th. Shouldn’t be difficult, right?

WRONG! This might have been true in some universe but the multi-verse version of our reality was the “Wow you need a really sucky vacation.” one and it absolutely was not easy.

I spent an hour on the phone with the ticketing people at American Airlines. I had gotten far enough that we had new flight numbers, new times, and new seat assignments. Since we’d purchased first class tickets *and* flight insurance we weren’t even going to have to pay extra to change our tickets.
But when it came down to issuing the tickets the computer at American Airlines shit the bed.
Another half an hour passed while I improved my familiarity with the hold music for American Airlines ticketing.
The ticket agent with whom I had been working finally came back and asked if I’d booked my tickets directly through American Airlines.
Why no. No I hadn’t booked directly through American Airlines.
Which, of course, was the problem. To be able to change my American Airlines tickets I’d have to talk to the people through whom I’d purchased the tickets. Travelocity for the record. Why on EARTH would I think that I could change my airline tickets by talking to someone from the airline? Silly me!

So I went to Travelocity. I went to the “I want to change my plans” part of the website. Which told me I had to talk to the airline.

Much language.

Y’know that part of pretty much any website out there where you can click on a menu, a tab, or a button that says “Contact us”? You wanna know how challenging it is to find that section of Travelocity’s site?

Andrew ordered dinner while I was arguing with Travelocity.com. I finally, FINALLY found somewhere that I could go for live chat help and was promptly told I had to wait for the next available warm body to answer.

We ate dinner.

45 minutes later I was connected to a lovely person named Avinash in some place like Bangalore (I assume. I know that English is not this person’s native language at least.)

I proceeded to spend the next *TWO HOURS* on live chat with Avinash.
I was falling asleep in the interstices of my conversation with Avinash before we got everything hammered out.
But by 10 p.m. on Friday July 1st Andrew and I had tickets for a flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix and a flight from Phoenix to Seattle that would land us at home around 3 p.m. on Monday the 4th.
After offering blessings on Avinash’s hat (and head) we shut down the tech, plugged everything in to recharge for the next day and went. the. fuck. to. SLEEP!


Thank you Christus St. Vincent

Filed under: @ 5:14 pm

Friday morning came around and, in a passionately desperate attempt to get the EFF out of Santa Fe before we had to remove ourselves from the hotel and sleep in Meg’s back yard or something, we decided to call around and see if we could get an Approved Treatment sooner than Saturday morning.
At that point we really didn’t care who we had to run over to get there, we just. Wanted. Out. I can say with authority that I have never been so homesick.
So we called the health department. Who didn’t have any idea what we were talking about. They didn’t have doses of monoclonal antibodies to administer, why would we think they did? The person that I spoke with actually seemed affronted by the question.
We knew that the hospital that was just up the road from us wouldn’t be able to help. It was they that had told us to call their infusion center the day before. So we called the only other hospital in town, Christus St. Vincent.

Yes! We were told. Their ER did have doses of monoclonal antibodies to administer!

So we threw on garments that might have been classified as clothing and headed for the car at full steam.

Which, for the record, is a remarkably snail-like pace when one has Covid.

Andrew had far worse respiratory signs than I did. I had the fatigue and body aches more dramatically than he did. I felt like someone had spent most of the previous 24 hours trying to remove my bones and had stopped halfway.
Which is why Andrew drove.

Drove me up to the front door of the Christus St. Vincent ER in fact. I got out, flolloped myself up to the triage desk and said (I swear I’m not making this up): “I tested positive for Covid yesterday and I heard you guys have doses of monoclonal antibodies. I’m hoping you can either make me feel better or kill me.”
The dude behind the triage desk was remarkably sanguine about that statement. He printed me out a wrist band and told me to go sit over there.
Which I gleefully did. Standing up was not my favorite thing right then.

In the mean time Andrew was abandoning the car in the closest possible parking spot which might have been the “reserved for physicians” parking area. I can neither confirm nor deny that.

When Andrew flumped himself up to the triage desk and told them that he was a solid organ transplant recipient and that he’d tested positive for Covid the night before the dude behind the desk was not at all sanguine. Andrew got a wrist band and was hustled off into some (to my perception) mysterious back room in the blink of an eye.
15 minutes later they called my name and I shuffled into the room where they’d secreted Andrew. It looked like a re-purposed conference room, being large, airy, and separated from the rest of the emergency department by solid doors and windows, but at that point the only thing that really mattered was that there were reclining chairs on to which I could collapse.
Which I did.

Nurse took my vital signs and, having had the detailed story from Andrew a few minutes previously, only took a very brief history from me.
Nurse went to get the attending PA who, having gotten the detailed story from Andrew a few minutes previously, only asked me a few questions and told me that he’d already ordered me a dose of the monoclonal antibodies.
Prior to this experience I’d not realized that miracle workers wore ceil blue scrubs and Dansko work shoes.

Presently we had both had IV catheters placed. Some time after that the nurse came in with the drugs. 10mL followed by a 10mL saline flush then, since this is a relatively new drug and since Andrew is a solid organ transplant recipient, 45-60 minutes of observation.
The nurse filled Andrew up with *The Good Stuff*, filled me up, then went over to the computer work station do start in on whatever paperwork she had to do while keeping us under observation.

I had hoped to nap but within a few minutes I felt like someone had reached their fist in through my chest and was squeezing.
Then I noticed that my lips and the tips of my fingers were all tingly.
It was as I was saying to the nurse “Hey, am I supposed to feel like this?” that Andrew looked over, gasped, and said “You are BRIGHT red!”
Which is apparently a good way to get the attention of a nurse.

Nurse hooked me up to all sorts of monitoring equipment and, having assured herself that I wasn’t actually at a point where she’d have to trigger all sorts of alarms, went to go get the PA. Who brought the attending MD. Both of whom poked and prodded at me but since the reaction was calming down they decided that they didn’t really need to give me any sort of drugs.
I have the peculiar honor of having been only the second of thousands of people to whom Christus St. Vincent had administered that particular monoclonal antibody to have an immediate hypersensitivity reaction to it.




Filed under: @ 5:37 am

We grabbed Libby — Caitlin was staying home with Calvin since he’d been sick enough to go to the ER with, as it turned out, croup two nights previously — and headed to Julia’s house on Thursday morning.
There was a good deal of chaos going on there. Julia was very much interested in taking her two older kids to see the pueblos and Julia’s mother in law, Marianne, was also in favor of pueblos. Julia’s wife, however, was the dissenting vote so we ended up bagging Bandalier National Monument in favor of driving up to the Santa Fe National Forest.
Andrew and I had been told by a nice lady at an art gallery that this alpine retreat was lovely, cool, forested, and crisscrossed by nice little streams. Meg had confirmed that report and had recommended a second place up in the mountains so up we went.
And up.
And up.

Seattle is close to sea level. The elevation of Santa Fe is something like 7200 feet. The elevation at the top of this mountain was something like 10,000 feet. It was everything that we’d been promised. Cool, tree lined, crisscrossed by nice little streams. It was quiet and breezy and didn’t smell anything like a western Washington alpine region. The resinous evergreen scent was quite different.
I wasn’t really surprised when I was winded walking around on the short hikes that a few of us indulged in. There simply ain’t no air up there. At least not according to my lungs.

We went back down the mountain for a late lunch at an incongruous Japanese restaurant that is attached to a hot springs resort just outside the boundaries of the Santa Fe National Forest.
It was good food, but I wasn’t really hungry. And I was beginning to realize that I’d had a headache for a while. By the time we got back into the car I was really tired.

By the time we got back to our hotel – after a stop at the Albertson’s pharmacy for Sudafed, Benadryl, and a thermometer (my nose had started to run) I felt bad. Scary bad. Tired and achy and stuffed up and hot. And the Covid test I took once we got to the hotel turned positive after about five of the fifteen minute run time.


So It’s Been a Month

Filed under: @ 6:32 pm

Thirty one days actually. Lessee, that’s nineteen trips back and forth between here and First Hill, 10 or so medical doctors, 20 or more nurses or medical assistants, and countless needles collecting buckets of blood.
It’s $150-ish in parking, two separate and very tightly packed parking garages, one carefully engineered sneaky back route that got us past the traffic most of the time, most of a tank of gas for my Forrester, and a $237 speeding ticket for driving 24 MPH in a 20 MPH school zone. Don’t forget to watch your speed when you’re driving in school zones in Seattle!

We saw Dr. Reddy today. We’ve been seeing Dr. Vadivel, the medical director for the transplant center, and last week we saw Dr. Gravetz one of the surgeons. Dr. Reddy, who looks an awful lot like the Dr. Reddy who was my freshman anatomy professor at WSU, but who isn’t related, is a nice dude with a very comforting manner. Andrew has gained 20 plus pounds since the surgery, all fluid weight. Since I’ve got to go back to work on Monday and, of course, since my medical knowledge says “Hey, you probably shouldn’t be gaining 20 pounds of edema this far post-op!” I’ve been a little wound up about the whole situation.
Dr. Reddy, however, spoke to me doctor to doctor and managed to get the information through my head that while this isn’t something that they expect a post-transplant patient to have, it’s not an UN-expected occurrence thus I don’t have to fuss about it too much.
Doesn’t mean that I won’t, of course, but it does mean that my level of fussing can be ratcheted down a notch.

Which should be a relief to *my* MD since I won’t need a refill on that Xanax as soon as I might have otherwise.

I’m sorry to have to go back to work. Sorry, of course, because I enjoy puttering around the house and spending time with my husband, but also sorry that I won’t be going to Andrew’s appointments with him. We’ve met some truly stellar examples of the human medical profession. I’ve been very impressed with the level of dedication and care that everyone has shown and I’ve been thoroughly gratified at how those people to whom I have revealed my profession have adapted their language. Because we’re “just” animal doctors veterinarians often get a lot of disdain from some human medical professionals, but not from any of these folks. Having a highly specialized medical professional speak to me with the respect they would another human medical professional is a little unusual in my experience. Most “RDs” (“real doctor” being a mildly pejorative term amongst veterinarians for those human medical professionals who look down on us as less medically educated than they are) are a little snooty or a little irritable about dealing with veterinarians, but I’ve not gotten a whiff of that in all the time we’ve been doing this. I’m thoroughly impressed.
I’m also sorry to be at a point where I won’t be able to keep up with some of the other transplant patients we’ve met. Dirk, for instance, got a kidney and pancreas transplant 3 days after Andrew had his surgery. Nice guy, formerly a type 1 diabetic and he’s still getting used to the idea of not having to check his blood sugar all the time. Dirk lives in Tacoma but he and his fiancee have been living in an extended stay hotel during all of this. Oh, and he shares Andrew’s birthday. To the point where the lab tech at the transplant center yesterday had to come out and confirm Andrew’s name to go with his sample because she’d just looked at the birth dates on the paperwork and wanted to be sure that the right paperwork went with the right samples.
And I’m also sorry that I have to go back to work and leave Andrew at home with this cat who will be ramping up his neediness by at least half. Andrew says that his co-workers already stop during phone conversations to ask which of his stuffed toys Pogo has killed this time (Pogo having a rather penetrating “I just killed this for you please come and praise me.” call) and I rather imagine that he’ll just get louder and/or more frequent for a while.

But we’ve got this pesky mortgage and there’s this pesky need for health insurance. The last real vacation we had was May of 2017. I do *not* count last spring’s trip to Hawaii as vacation since it is *not* vacationing to be doing what we were doing during that trip. By the time Andrew’s surgery came around I was ready to run amok slaughtering everyone in sight just to get some me time so having had a month of us time has been refreshing. Still not a vacation, but at least refreshing.


And Now, a Message from the UAdNSPCA….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:44 pm
Or, what happens when you’re snowed in with access to a video-capable smartphone.


It’s DONE!

Filed under: @ 6:14 pm

When we lost the Scamper in 2007 we decided that we would continue family tradition and plant a rosebush for him. So Scamper’s ashes, his food bowl, a special favorite treat, and his favorite toy were planted under a climbing rosebush that spring.
I’d found a metalworker at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show who had built a trellis that I really fancied out of scroll work cast iron. When I bought it it had flat feet – a problem for those of us wanting to put the trellis in the ground instead of in a house – so the metal worker welded a couple of 18″ pieces of rebar on to each of the corners. Before we planted Scamper’s rose I had dug four holes, mixed up four bags of concrete, and planted the trellis in them. It would not, I figured, go ANYWHERE.
And when Scrum died a little over a year later we gave him his Egyptian burial on the other side of the trellis and planted another climbing rose.

And it was lovely for 10 years.

Until last fall when I thought to myself… “Self, are those climbing roses leaning more than they were last spring?” And, of course, the trellis had had enough motion over the years that the cast iron center bar had fatigued at a spot just above the feet (a.k.a. at the base of my now 10 and 11 year old climbing roses) and had started to rust through.

So I bought four 6′ pieces of rebar, pounded them 2′ into the ground and attached the trellis to them with 2″ ratchet straps so that it wouldn’t fall over during the winter and spring and planned to replace the trellis over the summer.

Today I finished. 🙂

My grandfather was and my father is the type of person who can build things. I’ve never really been very good at it so I’m immensely smug about the fact that I dug the site, built the forms, set the blocks, poured the concrete, and did all the woodworking (sanding/shaping/staining/finishing) and assembly myself.
Because I am my father’s daughter and my grandfather’s granddaughter this sucker is STURDY. The uprights are varnished, pressure treated 4″ x 4″s bolted into 8″ square 20 pound pier blocks which are, in turn, sunk in 2″ of concrete. The horizontals are 2″ x 6″s bolted to the uprights with 8″ X 3/4″ bolts. And all of the rest of the attaching was done with 3″ deck screws.

Because I am my own person, however, and not necessarily just an extension of my paternal bloodline, I can legitimately point out that the two uprights on the left side are about 1″ closer together than the ones on the right side. That the stain on the horizontals is “fruitwood” and the stain on the cross bars is “golden oak” because I didn’t check to see that I had enough of the “fruitwood” colored stain. And that I haven’t put in the cross bars between the horizontals (and may never do so) because since the uprights are about 1″ different from left to right that means the horizontals are too and right now I’m really disinclined to cut progressively larger bits off of the rest of the crossbars that I manufactured to make them fit correctly.

I think it’s a pretty good job anyway.

And if it falls down I give up!


Another Pumpkin Pogrom Down The Hatch

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:21 pm

Many thanks to all who participated!


Anyone Wanna ‘Fess Up?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:12 pm

Would the person(s) who sent me this amazing Man Crate of exotic animal jerky care to admit to it, so I can thank him/her/them properly?

UPDATE: Turns out it was the awesome folks at my place-o’-employment. Thanks so much everyone!

Man Crate


Has Anyone Else Noticed….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:16 pm

That Aaron Paul


Looks for all the world like Chris Hardwick’s parallel-universe evil twin?


Sorry, didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.


Beg Pardon?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:44 pm

Like so many of us, I have become altogether too dependent upon the (hopefully) beneficent ministrations of the fine folks over at Amazon Prime. I have surrendered a small but not insignificant portion of my free will to their mind-croggingly vast inventory of must-, might-want-to- and why-in-God’s-name-would-anyone-wish-to-have items for just about any occasion or predilection. In the process I have also become somewhat indentured to Amazon’s recommendations, based on carefully-tuned algorithms, lovingly coded by the finest Morlocks of our generation to suss out my every whim and tempt me at every click. Sometimes, however, they seem to get it hilariously wrong. Like this time, just f’rinstance.

I’ve been looking for a new charger case for my Samsung Galaxy S7. A fine phone if ever there was one, but unfortunately the un-augmented unit has woefully underwhleming battery capacity. In the eternal race for slimmer and slimmer phones—presumably so that they are easier to lose a grip on and unintentionally deposit in the john whilst trying to Google your Facebook—Samsung, like all phone manufacturers, has had to sacrifice something, and that something is battery life. I, with my Swift Premium Brown ‘N Serve Sausage fingers, am not particularly interested in owning a phone slim enough to use as a scalpel, but I do want the horsepower, high-quality camera and other features that come with the latest line of phones.

The compromise comes in the form of a phone case that contains an additional lithium-ion battery. There are lot of them to choose from, now that the S7 has been out for a bit. I have one of the earlier varieties now, and it’s okay, but it doesn’t do a lot to actually protect the phone, so now that the market has matured a little I went on another expedition into the Amazon to see whether I could find something a little more to my liking. There are a few newer, reasonably-priced battery cases out now, and while perusing the selection, I came across this:

Say What?

Amazon, far be it from me to question the power, the precision, the overwhelming efficacy of your digital minions who plumb the vasty deeps to bring me the most relevant cross- and up-sell offerings this side of Heaven. At this point, I am entrusting you with more and greater insight into my habits in all areas of my life than it is possible that I with my meager meatware am able to achieve. And yet, in spite of all the computational dei running through your machinas and all of the demographic scintilla you weave into the fabric of commerce every second of every day, of this I am relatively certain: I have pretty much locked down the act of taking a whiz. But thanks anyway.


Another Great Pumpkin Pogrom

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:06 am

Pumpkin Pogrom 2015

Many thanks to all who participated!


Caitlin and Cameron Sittin’ In A Tree

Filed under: @ 5:09 pm

Cat & Cam 2014

Caitlin Rachel Pomaik’ai Slattery & Cameron Phillip Hughes

Mazel tov you two! Best wishes for a long and joyous life together.
Sorry we couldn’t be there. We love you!


Just a Passing Thought

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:44 am

There has been a lot of chatter lately about the Authorization for Use of Military Force. I have little to say on the matter, save this: I don’t feel comfortable with any governmental doctrine whose acronym sounds like a monster swallowing the world in one bite.



Rest in Peace

Filed under: @ 8:52 am

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (Genesis 3:29)
“Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou wilt return.”

Joan & Tony on the sofa

Joan Lee (Linn) Lenzer. March 18, 1930 – March 10, 2014

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
Requiem et lux perpetua luceat eis:
Requiescant in pace. Requiem. Amen.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2013

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:08 pm

Many thanks to all who participated. Click on a picture to get the full-sized version.

Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013


From This Year’s Independence Day Celebration

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:32 pm

This was without a doubt the most hazardous July 4th we’ve ever hosted at 121….well, technically it was only almost hazardous. Two aerial fireworks managed to go waaay off course and fly into the garage, nearly tagging two of our guests, both first-timers. Ah well, try not to hold it against us, guys….

After our niece Anastasia (okay, she’s really our friend Shawn’s daughter, but that whole crowd is like family to us) narrowly avoided a Close Encounter of the Burned Kind, she retreated indoors. After a particularly rambunctious 500-gram cake seemed to—finally—spend itself, Don, Rob and I (none of us the petite type) all sort of crept towards it. Noting our progress from the living room bay window, Anastasia was overheard saying to no one in particular, “sneaky potatoes….”  😆

Other than that, it was lots of fun. Much food and good cheer. We got to show off our new patio, which worked exactly as planned; we easily seated 8–10 people outdoors, and everyone seemed to enjoy the new setting. Many thanks to everyone who came out.

Here’s a clip of one of Don’s FrankenFireworks, two 200-gram cakes duct-taped to a 300-shot Saturn Missile Battery. I think it was one of the missiles that almost took out our niece. 😯

[flv width=”960″ height=”540″]http://www.uncle-andrew.net/blog/pics/fireworks-2013.flv[/flv]


Election Eve wisdom from “Da Youf”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:31 am

Got this from my father via email. Apparently he and my Mom were chatting with my thirteen-year-old niece Lucy last night when the subject turned to the upcoming election.

Lucy is quite erudite, in her own very special way: she has an amazing grasp of language, with an insanely outsized grasp of wordplay and deadpan comic timing. When my parents asked her what she thought of the presidential candidates, she replied, “Romney is boring. He sounds like a teacher lecturing on the history of dust.”

What about Obama, they asked?

“I like him,” she said; “he has big ears, which is funny, and makes children laugh.”

From the mouths of babes, indeed. Here’s to you, Babe. 😀

And to All, a Good Election Night.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2012 Was a Success!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:00 pm

Pumpkin Pogrom 2012

Many thanks to those who participated!

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