3/31/2006

It Finally Happened….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:04 pm

At 10:31 this evening, someone from Bronson, Michigan or thereabouts, made it to a particular post on my blog from a search on Yahoo.

The phrase this person entered?

Why, “Erin Esurance nude”, of course.

I’m the happiest boy in the world. :-D

3/29/2006

Ouch!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:21 am

Margaret, Shawn and I were sitting around watching South Park last night (sort of ironically, the episode about war protests) when Margaret mentioned that Caspar Weinberger had died.

“Huh!” Shawn remarked. “I thought it seemed a little sunnier today.”

Opus

3/28/2006

My Ancient Nemesis….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:34 am

That seems like a terrible thing to say about witty, erudite, talented and acclaimed author Allegra Goodman, so before I go any further I think some elaboration is in order.

Allegra and I both attended Punahou School growing up in Hawaii. We were not school chums, we did not attend classes together—I can’t imagine we had occasion to exchange three words in the six years we both were there. It wasn’t a question of mutual enmity; we didn’t hang with mutually opposing cliques or anything. In fact, as far I can tell, neither of us were part of any group sufficiently self-perpetuating or reinforcing as to call itself a clique. God knows I wasn’t.

A little background: I came to Punahou in the sixth grade. When I entered its hallowed halls I was a highly intelligent, totally insecure geek with a small group of friends and a desperate need to be liked. By the time I left I was a highly intelligent, dangerously angry survivalist with a small group of friends and a desperate urge to scare away anyone I perceived as a threat. I trust my readers can fill in the blanks between those two bookends of my pre-college school life.

My time at Punahou was marked by academic performance that might best be described as “spotty”. I don’t cotton well to “book larnin’”; my ability to buckle down and study is limited. I learn best by trying things out on my own. I looked at the crushing load of work expected of me by my teachers—Punahou is an incredibly rigorous institution, more so than many colleges—and decided that ignoring it might be the most prudent plan of action. Perhaps it might go away on its own, or over time compost itself into something more palatable to me. Say, weed, for instance.

I have nothing solid to back this up, but I imagine that Allegra was quite the opposite. She seemed at the time and to my peripheral observations to be the consummate bookworm, a slender ghost haunting the halls, a textbook delivery device passing almost unnoticed through the campus. Something about her simply shrieked “FUTURE ENGLISH LIT MAJOR!” (This is not meant to be a deprecating observation: to the impartial observer, I myself probably screamed, “FUTURE BELL-TOWER SNIPER!” So who am I to poke fun?)

Since I did not perceive her as a threat—and she boasted none of the mammalian nonlinear hypertopology that informed and influenced the other 90 percent of my brain—Allegra barely registered at all on my sensorium throughout our mutual time at Punahou. I was far too involved with more pressing concerns, such as getting high, drinking Mountain Dew and scaring people I thought deserved it. I certainly don’t think I registered on her radar either.

It was only after I had left high school that my long-running, highly traumatic relationship with Allegra really began.

It all started with the release of her first book, [whatever it was], released in [some date I'm sure I could track down if only I cared]. During the course of a phone conversation with the family back home while I was away at college, my Mom brought up the news of the book’s release. Apparently it had to do with the Hawaiian Jewish community (that is, the community of Jews living in Hawaii, not a bunch of mokes in peyos curls and yarmulkes), and was causing something of a stir. “Do you know this Allegra Goodman?” Mom asked me. “I know of her,” I replied. “She was in my graduating class, but we never had any contact with each other.”

I think this is a good time to point out that I’m a bit of a disappointment to my parents. That is to say, they are delighted that I’m still alive and managed to somehow con the most wonderful woman in the world into taking me into her life, but I didn’t turn out to be quite the adult they were hoping for. Thankfully, none of us Lenzer kids did, so there’s no markedly better sibling to be compared to. We’re all just sort of getting by, making it up as we go along: no doctors, no statesmen (that’s left to my nephew Ben, who will some day rule the earth, so don’t make fun of his oversized head), no great writers. “Author” was supposed to be my role to fill, that or a renowned academician like my father.

So when a former classmate of mine popped up on the literary scene with a fabulous, well-reviewed, controversial work of fiction, one might understand why my mother might become just a tiny bit obsessed with her. On the other hand, why she chose to spend the next few years torturing me with the news of Allegra’s comings and goings, waxings and even-waxingerings, is pretty much beyond me. Like the newspaper articles about the health effects of smoking that Mom would occasionally clip and tape to my sister Elizabeth’s bedroom door, there was no malice involved in these acts. It was just information, after all. Didn’t I find it interesting that Allegra’s new book was doing so well in its first week of hardcover release? Don’t I want to read this fascinating interview with her and her new husband in last month’s Atlantic? Isn’t it nice to know that a former classmate of mine is doing so well, that she’s so successful and happy?

It took about five years for me to get it through Mom’s skull that, no, in fact, I was not interested in Allegra’s newest book, her latest escapades, her warm, wise and wonderful traverse through the sunlit garden that is her life. That in fact her constant reminders to me about Allegra’s ongoing, scintillating ascendance into the literary firmament was to me just yet still another reminder of just how little I had accomplished, or seemed likely to. For her successes, Mazel Tov, I’m happy. I just don’t care. And I certainly don’t want to hear about it any more.

Thusly things remained. Until yesterday, when my friend and fellow Punahou grad Mike, completely out of the blue and for no reason I can think of, sent me the following email:

“You guys catch the story and photos of Allegra Goodman in this week’s Entertainment Weekly? March 24′th issue, pages 39 and 40.”

Huh? Fucking huh?? What am I missing here? Have Mike and I ever discussed Allegra Goodman in any form or context whatsoever? Have I ever expressed so much as a scintilla of acknowledgement of (much less interest in) her existence, to him or any other of the narrow band of high-school friends with whom I still have contact? Is he, in fact, so strapped for cash that he would accept a contract job in the employ of my mother?

Here I thought that I was finally, completely free of Allegra Goodman, despite having never spent five minutes in her company nor exchanged a complete sentence with her in my life….and someone decides to drop the A-bomb on me yet again. It’s devastaing, in a sad, cottony sort of way. Like being severley beaten with a sofa cushion.

Allegra, should you ever stumble across this entry whilst idly Googling your name from the comfort of your back porch on a brisk Cambridge morning, let me just say that I hope you are happy, content and secure in your achievements, both personal and professional. I’m sure you deserve no less.

But if you do happen across this post, please extend me the courtesy of not attempting to contact me, should you for some wierd reason be tempted to do so. Let this wound, of which you had no hand whatsoever in inflicting, finally heal.

3/25/2006

Testing….Testing….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:52 pm

If you can read this, you are visiting Uncle Andrew Dot Net at its brand-new home on the Interweb, some twenty inches or so from the previous one. Let me know if y’all have any troubles with it and I’ll try to track them down.

3/21/2006

Food Fright, Part 11

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:39 pm
Food Fright, Part 11

I’ve been bandying about this particular entry for at least a week or two, but was only recently able to snag a few screen captures via the TV tuner card in my computer so I could bring this to life for you, my adoring readership (hack puke wheeze).

This is—purportedly—the new Prime Rib Sub from Quiznos. According to Quiznos’ (I have no goddamn idea what a “Quiznos” is; it is apparently not a name, since if it was you’d assume that there’d be a possessive apostrophe thrown in there somewhere, other than the one I just hung on myself for the sake of good grammar) Web site, the Prime Rib Sub consists of a “Double portion of prime rib ["double" compared to what, I wonder?] with mozzarella, sautéed onions, and Mild Peppercorn Sauce.”

I have to say up front that I’m not a huge fan of Quiznos. Their food, while not particularly vile or poorly prepared, aspires to something it most certainly is not, namely not fast food. That is to say, it ain’t not fast food. It is. Fast food. I don’t care if you toast it, squirt some sort of weird sauce over it and serve it on flaccid, wholly contrived faux-artisan bread. It still tastes about the same as an equivalent Subway sandwich. Which itself is largely reminiscent of Hollofil sleeping-bag insulation.

So basically what you get at Quiznos is a warmer, slightly knobbier version of what you get at just about any megachain fast-food sub joint. Only more pretentious.

With this new sandwich, however—and particularly the attendant, incessant television campaign—the Quiznos Corporation seems to aspire to so much more than mere fooditude. They seem to be reaching for genuine terror, a veritable Subzilla.

I’d be willing to bet that the folks who threw this commercial together never previewed it on a big-screen TV:

Food Fright, Part 11

The first time I ran across this ad, I literally let out a yelp. “Holy crap, what the hell is that?” I exclaimed. I witnessed a similar reaction in our housemate while he and I were channel-surfing a few nights later. “My God!” he yelled. “That is one ugly sandwich!”

When my words returned, I managed to say, “It looks like it’s made from toasted skin grafts.”

I repeated this line to Margaret when she returned home from work, during a reprise of the ad. To my mingled delight and revulsion, she replied, “I’ve done skin grafts, and you’re right: they look pretty much just like that.”

I mentioned this offhandedly to another friend during a car trip, and he responded by telling me that his girlfriend is terrified of these ads.

So apparently this phenomenon is not isolated to our household, and is therefore less likely to be a byproduct of some other random factor, such as radon or carbon monoxide. If anything, this makes me feel worse. It means that someone felt—in fact, was paid probably quite handsomely to feel—that presenting this baleful, glistening Signal 30 of a concoction to the after-dinner television audience would cause folks to flock to their local Quiznos instead of making a mad dash for the john.

Remember, you can’t spell “Quiznos” without “Quease”. :-P

3/17/2006

Irony Supplement, Part 9

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:46 pm
Irony Supplement, Part 9

This was in my box at work and I just couldn’t pass it up.

Now, I don’t know which of the two commonly-known phrases composing the acronym POS came first; “Point of Sale” or “Piece of Shit”. But irrespective of the original title-holder, you’d think that the people whose livelihoods are dependent on the promotion and sale of point of sale equipment would wise up and find a new acronym. Front-End-Retail-Presence (FERP). Saleshuman Interface Terminal (SHIT). Something, anything but POS.

Not only does Dell cop to selling a POS on this catalogue cover; they brazenly admit they’re selling a “complete POS”. Does nobody proofread these things?

The fact that this catalogue happened across my path today at the office is of particularly delicious irony, as at the time I was heading out the door with another POS from Dell in my possession; an Optiplex minitower whose less-than-two-year-old power supply had just gone kaflooie. I had a spare high-quality Enermax PSU on me, but of course the non-standard Dell case design prevents one from installing a power supply that includes a rocker-type on/off switch. Something present on almost every single after-market power supply. “Complete POS”, indeed. :roll:

3/15/2006

Oh, Wow….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:08 am

In case you haven’t seen this video about Microsoft repackaging Apple’s iPod, run don’t walk to go see it now.

In an orgy of extra goodness, it turns out that this video was created by Microsoft employees as a humorous poke at their own packaging design. Way to go, Big M!

3/13/2006

All Points Bulletin

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:33 am

Would the individual who had this lovely piece of chocolate sushi Fedexed to my house

Chocolate Sushi

please come forward so I can thank you personally?

3/9/2006

Come Frag With Me

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:31 pm

Recently I came into (re)possession of an older Athlon XP PC I had lent out to my brother-in-law. After swapping out the hard drive and installing an OS, I debated what to do with it. I could turn it into a Web dev testing environment, but to be honest, in order to do so I would have to actually learn something that needed a whole separate system upon which to develop it, and frankly I have enough on my plate as it is.

After mulling it over for a bit, I decided to turn it into an Unreal Tournament server.

I’m not going to bother with an introduction to the game; if you don’t recognize the name then you’re likely not interested in first-person shooters in the slightest, which is fine. Might as well stop reading right now. It’s the standard Internet-based deathmatch game, of the same vintage as Quake III Arena. And while Q3 has many things to recommend it, I prefer Unreal Tournament in general, not the least reason being that the game does not require a CD key, either to install or as protection against piracy during gameplay. (I fully support Id Software’s right to protect their commercial investment. However, seeing as the game is now over 5 years old, it would be nice if Id would give up and abandon control of the game at this point, rather than forcing people to download pirated installers and CD-key-generating programs in order to play their game.)

Unreal Tournament runs just dandy on older systems like my recently re-acquired Athlon XP 1900 with a 200Mhz frontside bus, particularly in dedicated server mode, where the processor cycles required to run the fancy graphics aren’t an issue.

For some reason, I find myself particularly attracted to so-called “mouse maps”; gaming maps that are built around a common location—a kitchen, a bedroom, whatever—but where the players are tiny, perhaps three inches tall in comparison to the size of the room. While often very simplistic in their construction, I find these maps to be exceptionally cute.

Bathroom

I run the server in “low gravity” mode, which makes it easier to get around what can often be extremely large maps with lots of precipitous falls.

Bathroom

I use a lot of custom player and bot skins as well, to spice things up. If you’re the type of sociopathic technology freak who enjoys plugging other people over the ‘Net, you’ll find it even more enjoyable plugging people assuming the forms of Invader Zim, ED-209 or Eric Cartman.

Bathroom

Since it’s a 100% mouse-map experience, I have named my server, “Domestic Violence”. :eek:

If you’d like to join the fun, all you need is a copy of Unreal Tournament (not Unreal Tournament 2003, 2004, Unreal MCMXVII; the original Unreal Tournament) or Unreal Tournament Game of the Year Edition. It can still be had for a song at various software outlets, such as GoGamer.com. Often you’ll find them in the “Big Cube O’ Outdated Games” displays at your local CompUSA.

After you’ve installed the game, you’ll need all the custom maps, models and skins I’m running. I’ve made them available for download at http://www.uncle-andrew.net/bin/ut/. Files that end in “.umod” can be double-clicked to install them (you might need to enter the path to your Unreal Tournament folder into the appropriate box during the install). Maps are somewhat trickier: they need to be unzipped and the contents manually put in the appropriate places in your Unreal Tournament folder. Files that end in “.u” go in the System folder, files that end in “.unr” go in the Maps folder, “.utx” go in the Textures folder and “.umx” go in the Music folder. There will sometimes be duplicates among the files.

I’ve also thrown some Mac updates up there, but to be frank, getting a working Unreal Tournament install together on a Mac will be problematic, though I’ve managed it myself. Should you decide to do so, you are on your own. :-(

You can access my UT server by entering “www.uncle-andrew.net” into the “Connect to Server” window in UT. Password for the server is “spam”. I don’t post the address on the main UT boards, so don’t bother looking for me among the advertised servers. We’re open for business from about 5 in the afternoon until 1 in the morning most days. the number of live players is limited to 20, but so far we’ve never had more than 4 at a time. Attendance is—spotty. But perhaps that will change over time.

If you are interested in joining, do me the courtesy of sending me an email so I know you’ll be aboard, otherwise I might ban your IP in a fit of pique. I’ll also put you on a mailing list for news about updated maps and models. I promise not to send you any ads for herbal Cialis.

Hope to see you online sometime….through a sniper scope. ;-)

3/5/2006

Celestial Cock-Up

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:32 pm

I had to return something to my favorite computer store Computersonics today. I had bought a 256 megabyte module of RAMBUS memory from them to install in a friend’s long-in-the-tooth Gateway PC. (RAMBUS; pfleh. One of those great ideas that never really took off because the license holder would rather milk as much money out of their IP as possible than to see their product widely adapted.) Anywho, the RAM I bought didn’t quite fit the configuration of the Gateway’s memory slots, so I had to take it back.

But alas, she was working today.

I wouldn’t care to guess at her ethnicity, though the blanket term “Middle Eastern” probably suffices for the purpose of visualization, a broad swath of physical cues that places her somewhere between northern Africa and Asia Minor. Her skin is sort of a terra-cotta color. Her hair is deep brown with lengths of honey-gold running through it (quite probably not its natural hue). She is tallish for a woman, and pleasing of form, with all the appropriate convex- and concavities to draw the favorable eye of a heterosexual Western male. But it’s the face that does me in, particularly the eyes. The pupils are the most unlikely tiger’s-eye color, ringed with dark chocolate.

There’s a kind of fierceness to her physiognomy, a quality I would probably refer to as “valkyric” in a more Nordic individual. Her actual and heretofore undetermined ethnicity notwithstanding, I see her as the embodiment of Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. I can easily picture her perched on a throne of skulls, a scimitar in one hand (of six) and a kukri in another, doling out favor and fatality in equal measure to her adoring, petrified supplicants.

All this may serve to give you a better (and perhaps more favorable) take on my reaction to this person. Yes, she’s extremely attractive; but like all extremely attractive women who are not also my wife, she also scares the whimpering piss out of me.

Approaching the counter, my flight-or-flight-faster reaction nearing a fulminating boil, I finally remembered how to speak. The following is a relatively accurate accounting of both my audible [and internal] conversation:

“Hi! Uh, I need to return this stick [you didn't just say 'stick', did you?] of RAM [oh great, 'stick', 'RAM', what's next? {all right, just calm down, everybody calls it RAM, nothing wrong with that}]. It’s, uh, not compatible with my motherboard [okay, that went well enough; stay the course, old chum]. Um, see this spot on the stick [d'oh! spotted stick, indeed]? There should be a hole [oh, for the love of—] there, like the hole [STOP SAYING HOLE] on the other end [!!!]. Um, because that’s where the slots [you're trying to make an ass of yourself, aren't you?] on my motherboard have a little, um…[okay, you've trashed your routine, let's see if you can at least stick the dismount]…a little hump.”

Needless to say, I got out of there as quick as humanly possible, before Kali could run me through with her scimitar….or geld me with her kukri.

3/2/2006

Rumination On The Relation Between Perspiration And High-Tech Hydration

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:20 am

I just noticed something this morning after my soak.

Should it bother me that my deodorant should come in a variety of “scents” whose names strangely mirror the names of the “flavors” of my sport drink?

Sample of Varieties of Speed Stick:

Icy Surge
Fresh Rush
Cool Fusion
Clean Blast

Sample of Varieties of Gatorade:

Ice Punch
Riptide Rush
Cool Blue
Glacier Freeze

Sensing a pattern here?

Why do I get the feeling that these two unique products are made in adjoining rooms of a giant New Jersey “Toxic Corridor” chemical plant? In fact, that is no doubt the case, and should hardly surprise me.

The only question now is whether I could kill two birds with one stone by rubbing Gatorade into my armpits….or drinking my deodorant.


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