The Battle For Boobies Rages On

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:53 pm

Well, better late than never. Much better, in fact. Margaret finally got around to compiling her journal for the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk in 2002, and asked me to put it online. You can look at it here.

Her timing is excellent, since she and some friends will be taking on the Seattle 3-Day again this year, and she will need y’all’s help. So get your coin purses ready; we’ll be begging for your contributions soon enough. 😉

Since the walk has been over for a while (thank goodness; she’d be dragging herself along on two bloody femur stubs by now) and the entry is pretty long, I have edited the timestamp to make it appear August 31, 2002 on the calendar. This means, among other things, that comments for that entry are closed. If you’d like to leave comments regarding her journal, post them here.

UPDATE: Okay, I’ve fixed the journal. Apparently is was too long for WordPress to handle, so I broke it into three parts. Thanks, Val, for the heads-up!


E-Tailing Disorder

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:16 pm

I was in the office on Thursday—a more or less weekly occurrence for me—working on some computer problems when someone got off the phone and sighed.

“Has that order for – – – – – – – – – gone out yet?”

“No, it’s still waiting to be packed.”

“Well, don’t bother. He called to cancel it.”

Steve, with whom I was discussing the aforementioned computer problems, chuckled.

“What?” I asked.

“That guy has canceled every single order he’s ever placed with us,” he explained. “We’re just lucky this one didn’t go out yet. It’s like he’s a compulsive shopper who can’t afford the credit card bills, so he returns everything after he’s bought it.”

I got into the spirit of it. “Yeah,” I said, “Binge and purge, like an eating disorder.”

Then it hit me. “Oh my God, he’s buylimic!”

Maybe you had to be there.

More Low-Carb Eye Snacks For My Viewing Public….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:18 pm

….all eight of you. 😉

Sorry it took so long for me to post another entry, but I’ve been busy setting up my newest toy, The Birdie Cam, which lives in the left column of my blog, just above the weather reports. By popular request (i.e., Margaret, the most popular person in the world, to me at least), I have gone and erected a Web cam pointed at our back yard bird feeder. Here you are likely to see house finches, chickadees, starlings, flickers and others, depending on the time of day and season. The suet feeder will occasionally be completely covered with a swarm of bush tits (if you should catch one of these events, feel free to shout out “Whoah, look at the bush tits on that one!”)

I managed to pick up an Intellinet 550710 IP Camera for a song at my favorite local computer store, Computersonics. It’s a wonderful camera, capable of hosting up to 100 simultaneous users, with a lot of nice bells and whistles not normally found in a camera in its price range. Among other things, it streams images via both and ActiveX (read: Microsoft plugin, Microsoft browser, probably only compatible with Microsoft eyeballs), and Java, which is fairly unusual. A lot of cheaper cameras only offer ActiveX, which makes them unavailable to Macintosh users. It even supports Power Over Ethernet (POE), and has a CS lens mount, compatible with a wide range of closed-circuit television/security cameras.

I upgraded the lens to a Computar 12–75 Zoom Lens, which brought the bird feeder to a zoom where you could actually identify the birds. Hell, at this zoom you can practically see up their little nostrils. (Do birds have nostrils? Have to check with my wife on that. Of course, she’ll probably say “How the hell should I know?” which is what she usually says when I ask her an animal-type question, despite the fact that she’s a veterinarian.)

Anyway, I hope to enjoy many hours streaming the video while I work, and I hope you find some mild amusement in it as well. The bird traffic should be much higher during the summer, so check back as often or as rarely as you see fit.

Postscript: turns out I’m using the wrong lens, which explains some focus problems I’ve been having. Have to get a spacer to make this lens fully compatible with the camera. Yippie, more to tinker with! I may make a hobby out of this.


Bad Genetic Combinations

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:30 pm

Off-topic for this post, I have added some more goodies to my site, namely weather updates for various locales of significance to me. They live along the left side of the page, after all the other gunk. They may cause a slight slowdown for some visitors, but as I have said before, I put this thing up in the first place for my enjoyment, not yours. 😉

I’ve had this thought bouncing around in my head for a while, but didn’t have a great venue for taking it public until now.

Can you imagine what would happen if two of the scariest mouths of our time:

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler

And Carly Simon

Carly Simon

were to have a child?

The unfortunate offspring would probably look something like this:

Littly Jimmy Tyler-Simon
Artist’s Rendering


The President Has Seen His Shadow

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:07 am

….so it’s four more years of political winter for everybody.

I didn’t pay much attention to the inauguration, not surprisingly. I mean, I think that a little pomp and ceremony is in order; the guy won, after all. If not fair and square, then at least fair and polyhedronal. And the (re)election of a President should be celebrated. It should also be protested, because it is our right to do so, but I couldn’t even get it up enough to watch much of that. Hurling insults at an armored limousine speeding by seems, well, really flaccid and ineffetive. I would have liked to see something a little more dramatic yet relevant. Maybe a nationwide outbreak of impromptu soup kitchens to feed those who have lost their jobs to outsourcing, or a flash mob of people delivering pizzas to mangled vets in VA hospitals all over the country.

A man standing with his five-year-old daughter on his shoulder, shrieking “Murderer!” at a passing limo might have been cathartic for him, but it did nothing for me.

Frankly, I was a little surprised that protesters were allowed along the route at all. Here in the post-September-11 USofA, I was sure that the Bush administration would find some reason to keep all protesters out as a security measure. After all, audience-filtering was a big hit at the campaign rallies, and they had a good start with the ludicrous ban against signs on sticks (“Tragedy at the inauguration today as President Bush’s bomb-proof limousine was crushed by hundreds of pieces of half-inch lath….”). I guess they decided that the ensuing media coverage would be worse then the protests.

And wasn’t it great how the White House chalked up a $20 million tab for security and then turned around and made the District of Columbia pay for it? Out of their Homeland Security budget, no less. Guess it stands to reason, in some wierd stunted way: we’re holding this event in your homeland, DC, and it’s going to take a lot of security, soooooo….

They would have made DC take it out of their Head Start budget, but sadly there weren’t sufficient funds available.

My favorite factlet surrounding this brouhaha is the now-familiar comparison between this inauguration celebration and that of FDR in January 1945, in the midst of World War II. Roosevelt restricted the proceedings to a ceremony on the White House balcony, with a buffet lunch of chicken salad and pound cake. Cost of the 2005 wartime inauguration: approximately $50 million, which can only be described as a whole holy fuckload of chicken salad.

Like I said in the beginning, I’m all for a little whoop-de-do at an event such as this. But really, can you imagine the good karma the President could have enjoyed if he had kept the glitz and expense to a minimum, instead of topping Clinton’s second inauguration by more than $15 million? If Bush were the kind of President who might, say, mandate that the various inaugural banquets serve nothing but MREs in honor of the US soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hot spots worldwide…..hell, even I might have voted for him.

I was horribly depressed after the election, but I wasn’t one of those who threatened to emigrate, mostly because I still love my country but also because I’m way too entropic to consider such a massive disruption in my life. I’m also something of an optimist in that I think this current trend to the right is just one half of the complete swing of the pendulum. I think that a few more years of G.W. might be just the thing to set America on the right—er, left—proper path again. Four more years of environmental deregulation, economic inequality, perpetual war and smarmy false piety, and I’m hoping people will rethink their outrage over oral sex in the Oval Office.


Odd Todd Makes It Big!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:27 pm

I was turned on to this by one of my sisters (Thanks Meg!). Odd Todd, one of my very favorite Flash authors, apparently got hisself a mainstream gig. He did some content for a story on Social Security presented on ABC’s World News Tonight on January 11.

Go here to see the piece. You need Windows Media Player to watch it. It probably won’t work with the Macintosh version of WMP, due to that verdammt WMV3 format. Sorry! 🙁

Odd Todd taught himself Flash after being fired from his dotcom-turned-dotgone job, threw up a Web site to display his work (mostly on the subject of being unemployed), put a virtual tip jar on the site, and the rest is history. I don’t know how much he makes from his site these days (even I gave him five bucks), but at one point in time he was apparently pulling in thousands of dollars a month. It’s the American Dream, with a piquant Slacker twist.

Personally, I love the idea of Odd Todd going all frufru on us. I hope he gets lots of work out of this. Hell, maybe he can get some ad work, on either end of the lens. (“Odd Todd, for the American Express Card!“) Like the Crocodile Hunter doing commercials for Pentax cameras, I think he ought to make the most of his popularity while the makin’s good.

More power to you, Man!


Kaloo Kalay!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:02 pm

This just in from the fantastic folks at Google: a really great new way to combat comment spam in blogs. Since so much of the comment spam out there is used for Google Bombing, this might very well spell the end of a lot of spammers’ efforts.

Of course, there are likely to be countermeasures, possibly even hostile actions against those blogs that employ the “nofollow” attribute, but I do truly love the idea of rendering the goal of the vast majority of comment spam unattainable for the spammers.

You go Google!


Unsolved Mysteries; Solved

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:36 am

Today is a typical Seattle Winter day, weatherwise: temperatures in the mid-40’s, with a steady rain. The kind of weather that made me fall in love with this part of the country in the first place….something that, as a long-time resident of Hawaii, it took a long time for me to admit.

I was outside tending to the hot tub when I noticed a greater-than-usual amount of bird crap on the cover to the tub. Not disturbing, but certainly a little perplexing.

A while later Margaret called me out of my office to witness the explanation: a veritable Air Force of little birds (finches, chickadees, bush tits….an assortment of what we generically refer to as “Tweedlybeeps”) taking shelter from the rain in the Winter-bare vines of the grape arbor that covers our tub. Must have been thirty of the little beggars.

This footage was taken with an el cheapo digital camera so it’s not terribly clear, but you get the general idea. Requires Apple’s free QuickTime Player to play.

Click here to download the video (reduces load time versus embedding it in the page).


Cigars for Everyone!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:14 pm


Meet the newest member of our little dysfunctional computer family, and the chewy center of my blogging universe: Ichabod, the Headless PowerBook.

This little feller started life as my boss’ main work computer, until a freak accident (well, it was an accident, and a freak was involved, let’s just leave it at that) left it with a Hibachi’ed screen. It went into my computer graveyard for a few months until I took to it with a screwdriver and removed the now-useless top half. I lent it to some friends for use as an email computer for a few years, until recently when I decided to take a shot at using it as my Web server.

Technically, this computer is not compatible with OS X, but really the only thing that’s missing from it is the built-in USB ports, so I went ahead and used a godsend of a program called XPostFacto, which got it installed and running in, well, not no time, but not not no time, neither.

The only potential catch is the relatively low horsepower. Basically, this thing is the equivalent of a first-generation iMac. While it runs the OSX GUI—and all the attendant eye-candy—at a pace slightly less than “blistering”, the UNIX underpinnings should run at a decent clip, including the MySQL database needed to run a blog. And really, let’s not kid ourselves; it’s probably a red-letter day when three people access this site at one time.

So if ‘yall would do me a favor, leave a comment let me know how our new little bundle of joy is doing at its task, be it sprightly or sludgy. Mahalo Nui Loa!


Food Fright, Part 4

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:20 am

Food Fright Part 4

This is not strictly a food-based fright, but short of starting up a category called, oh, say, “Packaging Peculiarities”, I had nowhere else to put it.

This is a package of pub scones, a sort of shortbready, cookie-ish treat we were introduced to at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party in December. They were quite tasty, but I was captivated by the strip of clear adhesive plastic tape that was used to seal the container, shown here in the extreme foreground. It’s a little obscured by the lip of the container, but it reads, “Tamper Seal”.

“Tamper Seal”. Not “Tamper-Evident Seal”, not “Tamper-Proof Seal”. This appears to be another instance where a good idea meets poor planning….or at least poor English.

Think of other examples of this sort of nomenclature. “Presidential Seal ” indicates the seal of the President. “Good Housekeeping Seal” indicates the seal of, um, Good Housekeeping, whatever that is.

Following this line of logic, “Tamper Seal” would indicate the seal of tampering. In other words, that little strip of tape tells the consumer that this product has been subjected to bona fide tampering.

I suppose it’s nice of the producer or reseller to offer up this particular information, but I find it hard to believe it moves a lot of product off the shelves.


What Is The Helix?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:06 am

Oh God, please don’t let this be a prank! Probably not, since they have a sheet at IMDB.

All of us who would have slept through Reloaded if it weren’t so fucking noisy need this film.

There is no spoof!


Blood (Boils) On The Highway

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:14 pm

Exactly when did it become kosher to run red lights?

I don’t mean yellow-then-red lights, and I’m not talking about oh-shit-I-just-ran-a-red-light red lights. I’m speaking of fat, juicy, vine-ripened, red-for-at-least-one-Mississippi red lights.

A few years back Margaret and I took a trip to the DC area. We were horrified to discover that people there seemed to run stoplights of any color they pleased. It was as though some horrible cone-eating parasite had attacked the Eastern Seaboard and was quickly rendering everyone color blind. We really enjoyed our vacation, but were more than a little relieved to get back to the relative peace and sanity of the Great Northwest.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever. Nothing good, anyway. The plague has swept westward, borne perhaps by citizens fleeing to less blighted areas of the country. I’d like to think these hapless vectors know not what they carry….but I can’t help wondering how many stoplights they ran on their way here.

I recently brought this up at a party, and a friend with the Seattle Police Department told me that the phrase for this in Cop Speak is “DWA”, or “Driving While Asian”. He said that the vast majority of cars stopped for this infraction are driven by Asian males, apparently first-generation immigrants. The presumption being that, where these drivers originate, the strictures of traffic lights are largely ignored—if, in fact, the lights exist at all.

I won’t presume to second-guess the Seattle PD on this, but if this is indeed a condition of Asian immigrants, it is a communicable one, and has been passed along to the gwailo with lightning speed.

The average driver I witness running a red these days is….hell, there is no average type. It’s everybody: pimple-encrusted teenagers in tricked-out Celicas, soccer moms in Dodge Caravans, twenty-somethings in Toyota 4Runners….every possible combination of race, gender and automobile. The only trait they all share—short of their criminally antisocial tendencies—is the look on their faces as they do it. Eyes locked straight ahead, staring with great intensity at a point some fifty or sixty yards distant. The message is clear: don’t honk your horn, don’t offer me a finger by way of greeting, it won’t do any good. I am simply too absorbed in my very important task at hand to respond to or acknowledge in any way your anger, your rights, your very existence.

If there is any single factor that I feel might give rise to a fascist government in the United States (okay, okay, a more fascist government), it is the increasing lack of simple regard for one’s fellow human beings. In the last few years, I have begun seeing this general disregard for others creep into more and more facets of life. The folks who let trash blow from overspilling cans all over the street. The people releasing their pack of dogs in the morning, to roam the neighborhood, shit in other people’s yards and take down the occasional jogger. The motorists who would rather lay on their horn in a crowded parking lot, scaring everyone around them to death, than stop to let someone back out of a stall.

“Less government” types often say that it’s wrongheaded to use legislation to try to control human behavior (of course, they tend to say that in regards to things like compulsory recycling and carpool lanes, not recreational drug use or gay marriage). Personally, I’d have to say that my own leanings are towards more rather than fewer restrictions. From smoking bans to leash laws, I love the idea of rewarding people for the good that they do and punishing them for being assholes.

And sure, it would be great if we could count on individuals or even communities to enforce the social contract for their constituents. But no one feels they have the authority to do this any more, and in more than a few cases they probably don’t feel that they have the firepower. Who wants to risk their safety in order to try and revitalize someone’s sense of civic obligation? Someone who casually runs a red light based on the rationale that most people will be observant enough to not proceed into the intersection just because it’s their turn probably does not have a really high regard for the welfare of others. Who’s to say that same person might not pull out a gun and blow your head off, rather than undergo the potential delay and discomfort of stopping to receive your redress?

There’s just never a jack-booted government thug around when you need one.

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