Recommended Reading

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:49 pm
Zombie Survival Guide

This book is an absolute gem. It was given to me by my brother-in-law Matt and his wife (when I figure out the nomenclature for spouses of in-laws, I will add it to the Neologism section), who saw it in their neighborhood bookstore and immediately thought of me. Thanks guys!

The Zombie Survival Guide is patterend after the venerable Air Force Survival Manual, combining no-nonsense tips on surviving against the undead and hilariously understated line-drawing illustrations.

The author writes as though he regards the subject matter with utmost gravity. He offers well-defined and organized chapters such as “The Undead; Myths and Realities”, “Weapons and Combat Techniques” and “Living in an Undead World”. There’s even an extensive collection of “Recorded Attacks”, “actual” historical skirmishes between humans and the living dead, which are used to illustrate the practical applications of the tips and techniques offered throughout the book. Even the origins, biology and epidemiology of zombies are laid out for the reader.

Throughout the first third or so of the book, I laughed quite often, openly amused at the deadpan delivery of such a fantastic subject. Over the next third or so, I caught myself thinking that the information being provided was pretty useful—who would have the foresight, for instance, to consider the hazard of submerged zombies walking around on the bottom of ponds, lakes and other bodies of water?—then I would remember that the subject at hand is completely fictional and give myself a mental slap across the face.

By the end of the book, I was treating it as a well-thought-out survival guide, chock-full of pertinent information. I guess that qualifies as either a favorable review for the writing style of the author, or a less-than-favorable one for the common sense of Yours Truly.

The answer to that question I will leave as an exercise for the student. But either way, check out The Zombie Survival Guide. Available wherever fine paperbacks are sold. For more information, visit the Web site (of course there’s a Web site!)

Pluggity Plug Plug

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:39 am

I hope to have a book review up sometime later today. Until then, I’d like to take up some of your precious time to make a plug for my friend Trish and her online comic, Action Figure Diary. It’s the story of a married couple and their four living dolls, by which I do not mean that they are excessively good looking, though a couple of them are pretty cute. It’s quite creative and good fun. Plus I get a thirtieth of a cent every time someone clicks the link to her page. Not really.



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:35 am

Rain. Rain, rain, rain, rain.

Gentle sheets of mist-like droplets settling on the leaves of rhododendrons, to collect and pool and drip off the downturned points in a muffled patter.

Heavier drops striking the asphalt with a crisp platting sound, the impacts so closely timed they make almost a hissing, a white noise backdrop to the morning birdsong.

Raindrops beating a random, metallic tattoo on the exhaust hood for our stove, the sound making its way down the long conduit to the kitchen, distant and present at the same time.

Mmmm, rain.

Let’s hope we get about six more weeks of this.



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:03 pm

Margaret and I were just in the middle of watching a rerun of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (yes, yes, I know, not only have we no lives, we also have no taste). The show hit a commercial, and as is our wont, we began channel-surfing for something else to occupy our attention and keep us from meaningful conversation with each other. We happened on a channel showing a program about a small town in Utah where polygamy is pretty much the standard for the community. We watched a few minutes before returning to SVU.

During the next break, we flipped back to the polygamy show. It was at that point that I realized that this program was being aired on….Country Music Television.

Does anyone else find that just a little, um, disturbing? Without passing judgement on the act of polygamy itself (after all, I’m one of those whack-jobs that want to make it legal for a man to marry a turtle), is marital deviancy in the back country really the kind of topic with which CMT wants their viewer demographic associated?

To my mind, there seems only a step or two between this and producing an hour-long program about marrying your first cousin. 😯


Dial “W” For “Waaahhh”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:02 am

Bother. I just got my brand-spanking new 15 inch PowerBook G4 yesterday, and already I have to send it in for repairs. Damn CD combo drive sounds, in the rather apt words of the Apple Support rep, like a dirt bike. Sounds like a balance problem to me.

The bad news is that it has to go in for repairs. The good news is that they overnight a box to you so you can overnight it back to them, free of charge. When they’re finished doing the repairs, they overnight it back to you. The overall turnaround time, in my experience, is less than that of getting an on-site repairman to clear a place on his calendar, figure out where you live, get to your house, look over your computer, figure out that he doesn’t have the right replacement parts on him (despite the fact that you told the repair dispatcher exactly what needed to be replaced), come back two days later and repair your computer.

So my computer will go out tomorrow, leaving me with a whole weekend with only my three-year-old PowerBook G4 laptop and my four-month old desktop Dual-2GHz Power Mac G5 blowtorch with which to work. I may not see the thing again for as many as five days.

*Sniff* Can’t continue….tears of inconsolable loss shorting the keyboard….

Don’t bother wishing you could kick me in the ass. I’ve done it for you already. Kicking yourself in the butt, by the way, is hard on the ol’ hip socket.


Under Siege

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:22 am – – [23/Mar/2005:06:22:43 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53 – – [23/Mar/2005:06:29:24 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:06:35:57 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:06:42:22 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:06:48:39 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:06:54:47 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:00:53 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:06:31 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:12:14 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:17:56 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:23:27 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:28:53 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:34:16 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:39:31 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 531 — [23/Mar/2005:07:44:43 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:49:56 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” – – [23/Mar/2005:07:54:49 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:07:59:44 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:08:04:36 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41 – – [23/Mar/2005:08:14:02 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 302 27 – – [23/Mar/2005:08:14:19 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.1” 200 53

The comment spammers are smashing into my computer like waves against the shore. Very little is getting through at this point, thanks to the army of PHP coders out there who hate comment spam as much as I do. I must have ten separate WordPress plugins or PHP hacks protecting my blog from this crap.

Got another one just now: – – [23/Mar/2005:08:18:37 -0800] “POST /blog/wp-comments-post.php HTTP/1.0” 200 41

All’s I can say is, donate to your favorite plugin writer. They deserve the recognition and the recompense.


Another Beachhead Lost In The Spam Wars

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:37 pm

If you run a blog, you’ve probably been seeing what I’ve been seeing lately: comments inserted into posts, made up of nothing but seemingly random characters. There are no useable URLs, no real words, and seemingly no reason for the entry except to annoy the blogmaster. This, Dear Readers, is Trackback Spam. Or, more accurately, it is a probe into my blog by trackback spammers. The seemingly random garbage is actually a unique identifier so they can track the results of their incursions, in preparation for the main assault.

As a result, I am turning off trackback and pingback on my blog. No big deal, for most of you; Lord knows I never use it. And as I’ve said in the past, the blog is primarily for my enjoyment, not yours. 😛

If this is a problem for you, please accept my apologies, and feel free to WinNuke the content spammer of your choice.


I’m Breathless

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:35 am

Heard an official from the National Institute on Drug Abuse talking on the radio about a recent report on inhalant abuse among children and teenagers. Apparently, aproximately 17 percent of all eighth graders have abused inhalants—paint thinner, hair spray, glue, nitrous, etc. Pretty scary stuff. But this person saved the worst for last. Studies show, he reported ominously, that children who regularly abuse inhalants invariably move on to…..marijuana! (Dun-dun-DUUUUUUUN!)

Don’t get me wrong; I am no proponent of childhood drug abuse. Hell, I’m a survivor of it. But the first thought that popped into my head at this announcement was, “Oh, thank God! If only those poor little tykes had started on pot sooner!”

Sorry to say it, but there’s no comparison between the potential damage of smoking a doobie and huffing a can of Aqua Net. To imply that moving from the latter to the former is anything but an improvement would lead one to wonder what you’ve been smoking. Or snorting.


Blood (Boils) On The Highway, The Sequel

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:29 pm

You may recall my having mentioned my annoyance with the rise in motorists running red lights. Rather further back in terms of danger, but not lagging much behind in potential to annoy, is my rant for today.

I’m stopped at a red light, behind and to the right of a large pickup truck of indeterminate pedigree. As we all sit waiting our turn, the truck begins inching forward, wheels turning as slowly as the combination of drum brakes and an overendowed V6 engine will allow. The front tires touch, then cross the stop line, and still the light remains red. The driver finally relents and steps fully on the brake as his front bumper noses into the crosswalk. Then, when the light fails to change in deference to his overture, he begins his slow, torturous journey once again, creeping inexorably toward the intersection and the open road ahead he knows is his by birthright.

The truck has completely overrun the pedestrian crosswalk and is perhaps a foot from actually breaching the intersection when the light finally takes the hint and turns green. With a rumble and a roar he is off, easily feet ahead of the rest of us sheep who waited patiently behind the stop line for the light to change.

Now, there’s a man who knows that time is precious. Every femtosecond lost to inertia is an opportunity that might slip through your fingers. After all, who knows what might lie around the corner? An abandoned wallet, an overturned beer truck, a Cabriolet full of drunken cheerleaders….all could be lost if you take your eye off the ball, your foot off the gas.

I simply cannot understand what is going through the minds of people when they do this sort of thing. I guess some folks are so dense that their personal gravity becomes irresistible, forcing the rest of the universe to revolve around them.


“The Contraption”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:43 pm

In case you are not a reader of SlashDot (and why the hell aren’t you?), you might have missed this. It’s pretty cool.

Assembled over an approximately 12-hour period by a few University of Cambridge students, The Contraption is kind of an homage to the amazing “Rube Goldberg” Honda Ad.

Click here to view the movie. Requires a DivX-compatible movie player to view. For Mac users, I recommend saving the file to disk and viewing it using VLC Media Player for OS X. OS 9 users are pretty much SOL.

Click here for The Contraption Web site. (Kinda ho-hum, but they deserve the link, and the credit. Thought I’d mirror the file instead of costing them bandwidth.)

Agnostic Depressives, Unite!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:04 am

Men’s Health Magazine recently released a survey of America’s most depressed cities. “Criteria for the rankings included information on antidepressant sales from NDC Health, suicide rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and information from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.”

Seattle received a “D”. As in, “D-pressed”.

Of course, there are a few things one might tick off about life in the Northwest that tend to make folks depressed: excessive rain (at least most years; this season we’ve had about 20% of our normal rainfall, and thinking of the drought-stricken summer ahead just makes me more depressed), a sluggish economy, ridiculous housing prices despite the aforementioned sluggish economy, traffic congestion, etc.

But local talk-radio host Dori Monson thinks he has unearthed the real reason that Seattleites are depressed, namely, our bent toward liberal politics, combined with the fact that Seattle has one of the lowest levels of church attendance in America.

This is not the first time this has come up on the air. About a year ago Michael Medved was crowing about the 1998–2002 NORC General Social Survey showing that extreme convservatives report being “very happy” in much higher numbers than extreme liberals.

The conclusion being drawn here, of course, is that we godless liberals are too busy whining about the state of the world to relax and enjoy life like rational adults.

I am perhaps not the best person to tackle this issue dispassionately since I am, in fact, prone to depression. But I think I speak for a lot of liberals when I say that I am neither surprised nor disappointed that I lag behind extreme conservatives (whatever “extreme conservative” means—I’ve got a picture in my mind of a fat white guy in a business suit bungee jumping off a bridge somewhere in New Zealand) in the happiness department.

In pondering this deficit, two old sayings come to mind: “Ignorance is bliss” and “If you’re not angry, then you haven’t been paying attention”.

Take current events, just for example. An “extreme conservative” might find our nation’s path since September 11 to be the just and, dare I say, righteous one. He might support our efforts in the War On Terror. (Why is it “Terror” rather than “Terrorism” or “Terrorists”? How can we wage war against an emotion? Criminy, we have yet to force even a holding action in the War on Drugs, despite the fact that drugs, unlike terror, actually occupy physical space in the universe.) He might stand firmly behind the USA PATRIOT Act. He might applaud the invasion of Iraq—hell, he might be among the third of Americans who believed back in 2003 that our troops had actually discovered weapons of mass destruction there (not sure how many remain that staggeringly uninformed). He might believe that exporting “terror suspects” to countries that have no laws against torture for their interrogation is not only acceptable during a time of war, but in fact no big deal.

To him I say, mazel tov. I’m happy you’re happy. But I don’t share your happiness.

If we liberals are guilty of “sabotaging” our own happiness, I think it’s because we tend to try to see things from too many angles. A can of tuna can simultaneously represent a tasty sandwich, a drowning dolphin, a fisherman’s livelihood, a dose of mercury and a startlingly high representative sample of rat feces, all in one six-ounce container. There’s something to be said for the mellowing effect of obliviousness. Though there isn’t much data to suggest that higher levels of education or intelligence affect happiness either way, one can imagine that simply being unaware of the turmoil around you would tend to lighten the load a bit. Facing your own problems can be problematic enough, without adding the weight of the world to your shoulders.

As foibles go, thinking too much about cause and effect goes somewhere after failing to pressure-wash our front steps once a year on my list of Unforgivable Character Flaws. I’m not going to feel bad about not feeling great about the state of the world. And I’m sure as hell not going to feel guilty about it.

Upon further reflection, I’m not at all certain that what we’re talking about here is actual “happiness” per se. Politics aside, is anyone really simply thrilled at the way everything in their lives—from their last dental checkup to the value of the dollar—is going? Where are the lines drawn? Do conservatives dislike fewer things in life than liberals, or do they just assign different things higher levels of priority on the love/hate scale? If you love your family but hate your job, are you happy? How about if you hate your job, love your new car, like your Congressman, feel indifferent toward your spouse and actively despise one of your three children?

I think what we’re talking about is more like complacency, or at best contentment. You can be complacent regarding your problems, you can be content with what you have, and still not be “very happy”.

The church part, on the other hand, is hard to argue with. Nothing has really grown to fill the void in people’s lives left by the decline in participation in organized religion, which is too bad because a certain sense of community has definitely been lost in the process. And to be certain, there’s nothing like knowing that God loves you to give your life a sense of purpose. I think even the most devoutly religious among us would admit that, in an epistemological pissing match, pulling the “well, I’m cherished by the Supreme Creator of the Universe!” card is kind of cheating.

On the other hand, I think that the question of one’s spiritual underpinnings is too important to be influenced by—or subsumed in—one’s craving for feelings of self-worth. It’s one thing to decide that you feel good about Life, The Universe And Everything because you have a deep and abiding belief in the Almighty. It’s another thing entirely to strive to believe in the latter in an effort to improve your outlook on the former. Personally, I would feel like a complete horse’s ass attending an institution dedicated to something in which I have no inherent belief, just so I could enjoy the benefits of a ready-made emotional support structure.

Basically, I think that concepts such as “happy” and “depressed” are far too complex and multi-dimensional to be easily interpreted through as myopic a medium as a social survey, much less conservative Talk Radio.

And, though I tend to be dissatisfied with my level of complacency, I’m content being unhappy. 😐



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:11 am

Sick. Very, very sick. Went over to a friend’s house to help him with his computer and was promptly inoculated with the flu by another friend who was convalescing on his couch. My fault, I knew he was sick, but the computer stuff was critical.

I’m still knee-deep in computers. Three workstations went down at work, and I had to build a new one from scratch. Now I’m working on a mail server. This is the job of the Webmaster, when you work for a small company. 😯

Anywho, just a quick observation. I note with some exasperation that, on the eve of Congressional hearings on the subject of identity theft (stemming primarily from the recent ChoicePoint debacle), data mining giant LexisNexis has had its own identity theft problem.

My main talk-radio man Dave Ross had a great idea on how to deal with this and the general problem of unauthorized/undocumented/unwanted transfer of your personal information: everyone’s name should be copyrighted. At whatever point in time you get yourself a social security number, your name, in combination with this number, would automatically receive copyright status. Thereafter, anyone who wished to use your name and/or Social Security number for any reason would have to contact you for permission, and possibly pay you a royalty.

Isn’t that awesome? Why the citizens of the 8th District didn’t vote Ross in for Congress is totally beyond me. Oh well, at least I get to keep listening to him on the radio.


Neologism A Go-Go

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:18 pm

Got another one for y’all.

Ever been pouring a bowl of some healthy-type cereal—Shredded Wheat, for instance—from a box that’s nearing empty, and just before you’re about to stop pouring and add the milk, a rush of pulverized cereal bits surges forth, filling your bowl with a talus of dust-mote-sized particles of breakfast chaff?

This, dear readers, is what I refer to as brandruff.

“….But If You Want To Leave A Message….”

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:51 am

Bad couple of weeks, folks. Bad, baaaad couple of weeks. No biscuit.

I spent this weekend working on other people’s computers as a way of relaxing from my long week of working on my coworker’s computers. I feel pretty sanguine about it, though, as it was all for a good cause.

As a result, however, I got nothin’ for ya. So here’s some more of other people’s stuff.

Happy Nowhere’s Mac Ad Parody

Warthog Jump; a Halo Physics Experiment

Ying’s Mushroom


Hi, I’m Not Home Right Now….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:45 pm

And won’t be for a few days. Computers are dropping like flies around the office, and I have had a brand-new color laser printer in the back of my car for a couple of days that has to be installed at the office as well. In short, I’m the walking dead. Y’all will just have to entertain yourselves for a bit. But here are a few things you can tide yourself over with.

All Your Base Are Belong to Us

Elvis Lives In Flash

“The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins”, a music video by Leonard Nimoy (turn up your sound, then turn it off and run screaming)

How Ketchup Is Made

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