9/29/2007

This ‘N That

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:02 pm

I’ll be out of town for, if all goes well, a day. And if all goes to shit, two to three. I have to drive down to Eugene, Oregon to be present for a press check on our Fall catalog. I will try very hard not to let the bright lights of the big city draw me under their spell. 🙄

We do our catalog on a web offset press, which is very economical, but it also means that doing the full press run takes for fucking ever. I’m only showing up for the press check for the first signature, or set of pages; to be there for all six eight-page sigs would probably take three or four days, being called every fifteen hours or so–day or night–to come in and say, “Yep, that looks like a mushroom all right.” Most customers don’t come in for any press check whatsoever, but we’ve only been working with this company for about a year, so I want to be on hand. Web offset presses tend to have registration problems (the dots that make up the images on the paper tend to slip out of alignment with each other, causing fuzzy text, pictures that look “hairy” and, in really bad cases, the kind of bizarre 3D-glasses effect you occasionally see in bad press runs of the Sunday Funnies) and unless someone is looking for every little defect, it’s quite likely that some will slip by.

So I leave tomorrow around noon to drive about five hours down to Eugene, stay in a hotel overnight (a much better one than last time, I assure you) and get up Monday morning for a press check that, ostensibly, is set for 9 am. Of course, the press check last year started some nine hours late because of unforeseen complications with the print job scheduled before mine, so I don’t really know how long I’ll be down there.

Actually, though, the real reason I’m writing this is to let those members of Fragslist know that my Unreal Tournament server seems to be, if not down, then at least confused and irritable. I’m having a terrible time with the bots right now; they blink in and out of existence, even run through walls. I think it’s a networking issue, but I have yet to nail it down. Things like work and family keep getting in the way, dammit. 😛

Anywho, if you want to try it out, feel free, but I think you’re going to be disappointed. If anyone wants to offer up their educated guess as to the solution, feel free to chime in. I could use some reports as to people’s pings as well. Remember, the UT server is at 208.64.242.11. Mahalo Nui Loa for your kokua!

9/27/2007

Well, That Was Exciting

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:52 pm

So my server was down all day; yes, yes, I’m aware of it. I decided to take the piping-hot new motherboard I got as a temporary replacement for the one that went “foof” a few weeks ago and wrap a whole new Web server around it; one that could handle all the myriad tasks asked of it (Web server, Unreal Tournament server, security camera server) with a little more aplomb. The new server is breathtaking, to be sure (2 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2 gigs of RAM, rowrrr); what I didn’t plan on was hosing my old server in the process. Yee-fucking-ikes. 😯

On the other hand, everything seems to be working now (knock Formica, kill a chicken over my keyboard, whatever it takes), and I think you might notice my Web site loading a bit more sprightly now. Dear Deus ex Machina, I hope so.

A Jillion-Dollar Idea

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:24 am

Every once in a while I come up with one of these, and since I’m a total boneless lazy-ass futon tuber and never get around to actually implementing them, I figure I ought to just talk about it here and perhaps someone else can help to bring it to fruition. Perhaps you, whomever you are, would be so kind as to give me a cut of a quarter-jil or so for having come up with it? Thanks in advance.

This post came up as the result of a discussion with my chiropractor, but really I’ve been bandying the concept about for some time.

My back-cracker was lamenting his recent experiences with the Medicare system. He had to apply for a series of health care provider numbers based on various aspects of his practice, and he was having a terrible time getting someone from Medicare to accept the forms he had submitted with all of these provider numbers attached. Every time he spoke to a new person on the phone he was told that Medicare would not accept his application until he submitted his application with the numbers arranged in the “right” order, and every representative he talked to told him to arrange them a slightly different way. I don’t have the requisite mathematics background to calculate the total number of possible permutations, but take a group of six different account numbers, multiply them by the total number of possible arrangements of those numbers, and even before you throw in the number of different possible phone operators at the Medicare office and their (presumably) randomly-distributed opinions as to the “proper” order of the six numbers—assuming that none of them are lying and just telling my chiropractor that he got it wrong out of pure orneriness—and you begin to see just what sort of potential pickle he was in.

I commiserated with him, relaying the more modestly harrowing tale of our recent efforts to move Margaret’s 401k from her previous employer’s system over to our own personal investor guy (yes, we have our own investor guy; we’re old). One person at the financial entity that holds the fund told Margaret that we needed a notarized Spousal Consent Form; the next one she talked to said that all we needed was to call in with a verbal confirmation from said spouse (me). We’re still working it out, but I have no doubt whatsoever that, should we find it necessary to call again, that representative will tell us that we must first obtain the Emerald Third Eye from the Statue of Graag in the Blood Caverns of Bal’ Adur. And have it notarized.

The point being, every time you talk to someone at a large company or organization, you seem to get a different story. There is no good way to strive for—or demand—consistency. Hence my invention: The Phone Rep-O-Tron ConsistoMatic 9000™.

You know how, no matter what commercial or governmental entity you call these days, you are informed that “your call may be monitored and recorded for quality assurance”? Why on earth should this handy-dandy tool be reserved solely for those least likely to offer—much less assure—any quality, namely the underpaid wretches on the other end of a caller-ID-blocked phone line in the guts of a vast call center somewhere in Indiana (or India)? Why should we, the folks whose quality of experience is most threatened by the circumstances of the exchange, not use this valuable technology in furtherance of our own ends?

At its heart, the ConsistoMatic 9000™ is a simple recording device, with two RJ11 phone jacks. One plugs into the wall outlet, the other plugs into your main telephone. The device records digitally, using a modest 32- or 64 kbps MP3 encoding scheme, and contains enough storage space for perhaps thirty hours of continuous conversation—say, the projected maximum time one might spend on the phone dealing with a contested insurance claim, or something like that. The unit would also feature a USB 2 port so you could offload stored conversations onto an external USB hard drive, CD burner or keychain drive. The Deluxe model might even sport an Ethernet port so it can be accessed via a Web interface. Each audio file would be stamped, both by file name and in a meta tag, with the date, time and duration of the call, along with the Caller ID information for the incoming call or the number(s) dialed by the owner to initiate the outgoing connection.

When placing or receiving a call, the ConsistoMatic 9000™ would automatically start listening in and recording the call. If the user does not press a specific key sequence on the phone’s keypad, the conversation will be dumped as soon as the connection is broken. If the user presses the key sequence during the conversation, the unit will break in with an announcement: “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.” At that point the unit will be reset to start recording from the point at which the key sequence was pressed, retaining only the meta information about date, time, phone number, etc. That way, no one can ever claim that they were not informed during the recorded portion of the exchange that their call was being recorded.

The unit would also feature a small backlit LCD screen, along with a scroll wheel and transport controls for playback, pause, rewind, the usual. An iPod-like playlist interface would also be nice, so when (for instance) phone rep B tells you that there’s no way your Priority 1 order could possibly go out by end of business today, you can scroll back to earlier that morning when you placed the order with phone rep A, who swore that the order would ship no later than noon that day, and play it right back into the phone for him. “If it would clear things up”, you can add helpfully, “I can email an MP3 of the entire conversation to your manager. What’s their email address?”

Imagine the potential such a tool, properly implemented, might offer for improving one’s customer service experience!

There is simply no reason why straightforward technologies used by massive companies and institutions for their benefit cannot also be used against them for ours. Look at the TeleZapper: one of the best quality-of-life appliances of the last twenty years, based around the same tools used by the telemarketing industry to ruin our lives….or at least our dinners. The Phone Rep-O-Tron ConsistoMatic 9000™ could be one of these as well. Won’t you help make this dream a reality? And then pay me handsomely for thinking it up? :mrgreen:

9/25/2007

Okay Folks, This Is It….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:51 am

Time to step up, join in, and eat brains:

Seattle Zombie Walk, October 21, 2007

Who’s up for it? Come on, let your haunting, graveyard-dirt-clotted voice be heard!

Fernando Approved!

THIS JUST IN: Ahhhh, shit: I can’t go. We’re going to be at The Herbfarm stuffing our faces with exotic wild mushrooms. 👿

9/24/2007

Be Open To New Experiences

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:12 pm

That’s what Margaret and I told each other as we drove south on Highway 167 yesterday, on our way to Emerald Downs to join her co-workers at a company-sponsored outing to watch the horse races, something we had never done before and, frankly, had never contemplated doing in our lives. Margaret’s allergic to horses, I’m allergic to gamblers and neither of us is much on leaving the safety and comfort of our house for the Great Unknown. Nonetheless, it was a very nice gesture on the part of her new employer, and it seemed only meet for us to show up and fly the colors. So off we went.

Emerald Downs is located well south of the Seattle area, near the city of Auburn. It is owned at least in part by the Muckleshoot Indian tribe, and is sort of an expansion of their casino interests. We gave ourselves 45 minutes to get down there and made it in good time, which was a good thing because it was a quarter-mile walk from where we parked in the free lot, past teeming hundreds of 5-dollar spots, to the track itself. I was simply flabbergasted by the number of parking spaces available at this thing. It appeared as though the Muckleshoots might be expecting the entire city of Auburn to show up to drop a fiver on Philly Cream Cheese to place in the third. (That was the actual name of one of the horses racing that day, though I’m not sure if she ran in the third race or not. Cute name, though.)

Emerald Downs looks rather like what I imagine a bus terminal would if it were located in a nicer neigh (heh heh, “neigh”) borhood, say, Victoria, British Columbia. It’s big, sorta sterile and foreboding (all concrete, sheet metal and Department-of-Correctioins-grade Formica’ed particle board), but squeaky-clean and with some brightly-colored signage and other three-quarter-hearted attempts to cheer up the place. There were banks of betting stations everywhere you turned (surprise, surprise), and rows and rows of tables with people sitting at them, carefully poring over booklets with the day’s tracing information. It looked vaguely like last-minute cram time for a trigonometry test at a high school library, only with more (albeit, probably not a lot more) booze.

I was amused, then a little bowled over by the fact that a security guard asked to search my bag. Turns out he was looking for outside alcohol; I could bring in any store-sealed nonalcoholic beverage, food item or just about anything else that I choose, but apparently they have a terrible time with folks smuggling in booze. That there might be a coherent causal link between horse racing and over-consumption of alcohol had not really occurred to me, but in retrospect it seems kind of obvious. Substance and process addictions go together like opiate-laced peanut butter and, uh, jelly that compulsively masturbates or something. Man, I gotta work on my metaphors. 😐

We were seated in a most privileged area, I am told, up in the box seats where the riffraff fear to tread. Margaret’s boss actually laid out some dough to get the “purse” for the 5th race named after the clinic, which was kind of cool. I hope she was able to take that out of the advertising budget and get a tax writeoff for it. This may have something to do with our seating arrangements, I’m not 100% clear on that part. In addition to being able to watch everything that happened on the track—which was not much in fact; six horses running their magnificently muscled asses off for about a minute every half hour or so—the shape of the grandstand made an almost perfect collector for stray electromagnetic radiation, allowing me to capture a clean signal from any of about five unsecured WiFi access points in the surrounding area. So while Hold The Check was edging out Sadie’s Pride to win the Second, I was using my laptop to troubleshoot my VPN endpoint and checking the camera server at work. Oh, and eating garlic fries. Can’t say much for the coffee at Emerald Downs, but they sport some truly ass-kicking garlic fries. I think there was about a clove of garlic per fry.

We stuck around through the 5th race, which was the clinic’s purse. We had been given 20 dollars to spend “as we saw fit”, and we went down with the rest of the staff to check out the horses in our race. I restrained myself from the almost overwhelming temptation to exclaim, “Oh, I just can’t pick one, they all look so delicious!“, figuring I probably would have gotten my ass booted out the door at best (and possibly shot off at worst). We both liked the looks of Number 3—can’t for the life of me remember her name—and placed a ten buck bet for her to win.

I have since leaned that one does not pick one’s horse at the track the way one picks one’s lobster at the restaurant; just because one particular horse looks all feisty and rarin’ to go does not mean (s)he is going to win.

Go Number 3!

Yep, that’s good ol’ Number 3 bringing up the rear. We left shortly thereafter.

All in all, it was a nice time, with good crisp Autumn weather, affable companionship, and garlic fries. Between the 20 bucks we were given, the bet, the food and the gas it took to get there we broke even, and I had a chance to interact with Margaret’s new co-workers in a way I had not yet managed to do. So I’m quite glad we went. But I don’t think either of us will be making a habit of it. Like professional sporting events involving other species, the allure of horse racing just seems to escape us. And if the allure of watching them manages to get away from us, the allure of betting on them blazes off in a cloud of dust like—um—well, like some kind of fast-running animal, anyway. It’ll come to me eventually.

9/23/2007

Day 3

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 6:53 pm

I was crosseyed and nauseated Sunday morning. My metabolism just simply DOES NOT work at 0500 and forcing myself to eat enough breakfast to get moving is not fun. Shower, HOT shower does help, as does an infusion of triple powered ginger mint tea but I still couldn’t eat much more than half a bagel and a glass of milk.
Having his people getting up at that hour of the morning on a weekend confuses the crap out of Scrum too. Scrum has very quickly adapted to my new work schedule and even though he is usually convinced that I should be up on Thursday and Friday mornings at 0530 (when I usually get up for work on Monday through Wednesday), he is UTTERLY convinced that people shouldn’t be up and about at 0530 on weekends. Much cross blinking and muttering as I stumbled around then, when his metabolism kicked in and he woke up (about 10 minutes after I turned on the light), there was a considerable amount of “GYOW! PROW! NYOW!” at full volume letting me know that there was something not right with the cat’s world and that he wasn’t willing to let it go without comment. He desisted after I bunged a pair of socks at him but it only made him subside into the cross blinking and muttering again. Punk.
I had a long and involved discussion with myself about whether or not I’d be taking a pair of flip flops (note for those not familiar with Hawaiian pidgin: I’ve called them slippers for years and will continue to refer to them as slippers, I only call them flip flops here to clarify what type of shoe I’m talking about) with me. The closing ceremonies usually have a culminating moment in which there is a shoe salute. If you’re not wearing another pair of shoes it is a physical impossibility under the circumstances (the crowd and your physical condition being the limiting factors) to remove one shoe in enough time to participate in the tribute. If you carry a pair of slippers with you on the last day however, you’ve not only got easy access to your walking shoes for the shoe tribute, but you’ve also got a light, moderately supportive, soft, and unconfining pair of shoes to change into when you’re done walking and you can let your feet swell. I was pooped enough Sunday morning that I convinced myself I didn’t want to carry something else with me and so left my slippers at home. A decision I had cause to regret later on which resulted in me becoming way more familiar with all the convenience stores along First Avenue in downtown Seattle than I ever wanted to be.

I wasn’t sure how I would find my sweep van gals to give them their discs. The Princess Girls had given me their tent number, but I couldn’t remember it and although I knew where the vans were parked I didn’t want to take the time to run down to the van park and deliver the CDs before the route opened. I slipped the discs into my pack and went to stand in line for the bus.

Sunday morning they bussed us from camp in Burien to the south parking lot at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. A longer line of school busses I have not seen in a LONG time. Every free bus and bus driver in the city must have been lined up waiting for us. It was chilly and there was considerable rebellious murmuring when one bus was filled up and then for some explicable reason the line stopped again. Stood around for another 15 minutes or so stretching, wishing for a cuppa, and comparing shoes.
On my first 3 Day in 2002 I went to one of the official outfitters, Shoes & Feet in Bellevue. Walked in with the shoes I’d been wearing while walking on the treadmill for the previous 3 years and showed them to the shoe man. Said to him: “I’ve got high arches and bad knees, I’m walking 60 miles this summer, set me up.”
Shoe man trotted out about 15 pairs of walking shoes and, in between telling me how horrid the previous shoes had been, gave me a lot of good information about walking shoes. I spent about half an hour trying pairs of walking shoes and walking on their treadmill before I struck gold. Brooks Avias are now my shoe of choice. Sitting here in my office I can lay eyes on four pairs in various stages of degeneration from brand new (found a pair on sale just before the 3 Day) to geriatric in the extreme, and I have two other pairs. For my feet and my knees, Brooks Avias with Superfeet insoles are IT. One odd quirk of the Avias in general, and the Avias with Superfeet in specific, is that they have a very distinctive creak. I’ve run across one shoe guy at Shoes & Feet who managed to do something mysterious to the insoles to make the shoes NOT creak, but no one else seems to know what he did or how to reproduce it.
So I’m in line for a school bus with a group of women all stretching and I heard that creak. I turned and pinpointed a woman about two back from me and said: “Brooks Avias, right?!” Which set off a general conversation about shoes especially when it turned out that one of the women who was walking with Miriam (remember the little old Amazon woman I was walking with after lunch on Saturday?) had trained in and was walking in a pair of elastic strap shoes with no socks. These shoes are terribly popular for outdoor sports these days, they have some special name which I’m guaranteed not to remember, but they don’t look like they’d be any good at all for walking any distance in especially without socks. Miriam’s teammate swore by them though. Said she had no blisters and her feet were holding up remarkably well. The woman must have no arches at all.

How many years has it been since I’ve been on an actual yellow school bus? Lots of years. The stairs are remarkably steep if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work well, the aisles are very narrow for a bunch of adult women wearing waist packs, and the leg room in the seats is quite minimal especially if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work normally. It was, however, a place to sit and be warm. Waiting for the busses to load we’d all temperature regulated to the point where being outside at 0630 on a September morning wasn’t uncomfortable. Getting on the bus we realized how chilly we’d been and by the time they let us out at Lincoln Park we were all warm again which made the porta potties the next vital stop for all of us getting off the bus.
Chilly as I was though, I waited at the sidewalk outside the line of potties because the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was right there. The driver was chatting with a woman who had a sling on her left arm, arranging a pickup after the second pit stop. She was THRILLED to get the new music and I was off.

West Seattle right along Puget Sound. A lovely neighborhood to be walking through at 0645 on a Sunday morning, but frustrating because everyone was still in bed and we had to be extremely QUIET. A few blocks up from the bus stop we ran across the Pimp Van (there’s a photo, you’ll just have to see it) whose crew was out cheering for us…. silently. We wandered through a maze of less populated streets and were able to speak up a little bit, but when we took a sharp turn west and started heading down through the south end of the Alki neighborhood we were under strict orders to shut the heck up. To the point where, when one of the ambulances went past blowing their noxious music on their PA, one of the crossing guards at the crosswalk we were waiting at chased them down and scolded them. It was nice. Nice neighborhood, early morning with everyone cheerful and upbeat, but this extremely quiet undertone conversation. No honking, lots of waving.
The Breast Friends with their decked out Mustang were about a mile or so in, parked along some side street with the four of them on the sidewalk handing out candy. The moms were cheerful of course, but the daughters cracked me up. One of them, maybe as much as 15 or so, has got to be a cheerleader. If she’s not her school is wasting her talent because a more natural extroverted ham I have never seen. Here’s this skinny little blond chick in sweats and a crop top T-shirt with a GINORMOUS lace bra (stuffed) strapped to her chest bouncing and waving for all she’s worth…..absolutely silently. Had to be killing her to hold in the shouting. Fortunately for her she got to let all the cheering out later on that morning, but it was a serious crack up watching her cheer silently.

Pardon me for the odd exclamation, but SHAZAM is Alki a nice place to walk! We walked a winding trail through the neighborhoods above the water and then broke out onto Alki proper. I had managed to get my flag finally. Asked the guy carrying the BELIEF flag what it took to get one and he said: “I’ve only been carrying this for a short while, but you can carry it. Just watch the overhangs, it’s taller than you think!”, handed me the flag and then was off. The weather was beautiful and especially inspiring if one was carrying a flag. Clear blue sky, cool bright sunshine, and a great breeze off the water to keep the flags flying. Someone got a photo of me just after I’d gotten the flag, backdrop of the sky and the water….Damn it was nice. Felt bad about the photo though, because while I was getting snapped I provided enough of a distraction for a woman walking past us that she tripped and skinned her knee. She bounced up off the sidewalk though and was all for walking on without any assistance when a group of us descended on her and bullied her into accepting a cleaning, some triple antibiotic and a bandaid from a passing sweep cycle.

My therapist opines that I find these events to be such a mind blowing experience because they allow me to be an anonymous extrovert. Being involved in such a tremendous group effort with such a tremendous group (as it were) in circumstances under which no one is liable to remember much more than my costume and (maybe) my first name is a wonderfully freeing feeling. For one weekend there are no politics, there is no outside world, there is nothing else but what we are all united in doing. It’s great.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have approached the guy with the flag, wouldn’t have had so many wonderful conversations with so many random strangers and I sure wouldn’t have been such a loudmouth about the woman with the skinned knee. Simple courtesy would have dictated me asking if she was okay and asking if she wanted any help, but I normally wouldn’t have run my mouth to another person running past asking for help for her knee when she had already declined same.

It was 0800 or so by the time we got to, for want of a better term, the Alki strip proper. Enough people were up and about that the cheering started to get loud again. Turning tide with lots of seagulls wheeling and herons stalking around in the shallows. Honking, hooting, and hollering. People along the beach clapping. Someone etched “GREAT JOB WALKERS!” in the sand on the beach. One long, miles long, cheering station. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van stopped abreast the sidewalk and the driver stuck her head out saying: “That disc you gave us is FANTASTIC! And we’re only on the first song!” (another new Melissa Ethridge fan).
The Pirate Pit Stop was in a community sports field and they had a fresh shipment of chilled peanut butter graham crackers. Sat, enjoyed the sunshine on the bleachers while licking peanut butter and jelly from my fingers and then had a great series of supports on which to stretch. Bleachers are about the best stretching buddies a girl with questionable knees can have.

A woman along the sidewalk taking photos for The Renton Reporter and the Highline Times. I’m almost sorry we don’t get the Highline Times anymore because I’d like to see the photos she took. Also it makes great liner for the snake cage, but that’s another story. Another woman about a mile and a half later taking photos of flag bearers and other somewhat out of the ordinary walkers for her website. She owns a bakery that features a Susan G. Komen pink silk pie. Okay, what the heck. She got me and my flag and I walked on just as she was accosting a husband and wife team whom she thought were particularly cute.
Divers suiting up and a conversation about local diving with a woman who was also sporting a knee brace. I’ve spent too many years discussing local diving conditions with Joanne and Ray and so was able to pontificate about the diving conditions along Alki and whether or not one would encounter sharks while diving in Puget Sound. We parted with her utterly convinced that her diving fanatic husband would never dive in the area because I was able to testify that one could, in fact, encounter sharks diving in Puget Sound.
Around a curve and then glory be! The Space Needle! Our first view of the end point! The Super Pit Stop was in a pocket park just past the more urban section of Alki and we were accosted at the opening of the park by a pair of women with stamp pads one of whom was stamping us with Super Stamps and the other giving out “new pairs of feet”. For the rest of the day most of us were walking along looking like someone had been beating on us because we all had super stamps on each shoulder and purple feet along the backs of our calves that looked a lot like bruises.

A power walker powered past me asking if she could carry the BELIEF flag. I got her photo with it before she powered off and was soon out of sight. It was nice to have both hands back, but it was also kind of disappointing to be less obvious again.
The Princess Van finally drove past just after I left the Super Pit Stop. I flagged them down and went hobbling down the road to where they’d stopped. Princess Vicki was just starting her “Welcome to The Princess Van…” spiel when I had to interrupt and apologize for flagging them down under false pretenses, but I was forgiven when I gave them the new CD.

Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. One of the cheering station people with a baby in a Snugli on her chest. Wrapped up in blankets and buntings and a hat with a t-shirt strapped across her (?) chest reading “MINI-MELONS”. A pair of quarter watermelon slices in a suggestive spot with spaghetti straps up over the shoulders. Kid seemed a little mystified by the attention she was attracting, but we all thought the shirt was a crack up.

Up under the West Seattle Bridge and Admiral Way and along through the Delridge neighborhood, somewhat southeast of West Seattle proper. A little run down, certainly a lot less affluent than West Seattle proper, and entire streets full of people living in housing projects with their kids lining the sidewalks giving us high fives.
Lunch at Delridge Park at 9 miles. I hit the lunch stop just before 1100, not making nearly as good time as I had on day 1 (and who, exactly, is surprised at this point?) but feeling good none the less. I originally found myself a patch of shade under a tree but soon found myself too chilly. It takes a lot of effort to move under those circumstances. I had removed the knee brace, taken off my shoes and socks and pulled a bunch of stuff out of my waist pack to get at my phone so I could call Andrew and give him a progress report. SNORT! Stuff all my loose crap into my lunch bag, clip the knee brace into the strap for my pack, tie my shoes together, and lever myself up off the ground to collapse gracefully in the sunshine and finish my lunch. I had a brisk argument with my phone, trying once again to figure out how to set the alarm for a specific time, and when I’d finally made it see things my way, I lay back in the sunshine for another postprandial nap. But as it turned out the phone had sneakily set itself for a time that I hadn’t approved and when, 15 minutes later, the alarm hadn’t gone off I sat up anyway, rubbed my feet and calves down, changed socks, re-applied my sunscreen and got set to go. The phone, duplicitous little git that it is, started beeping just as I was getting up causing me to trip over my feet. It’s remarkable how clumsy one becomes. It’s not just muscle fatigue, it’s a combination of muscle fatigue and the realization that while your reflexes might be as fast as usual, it’ll really hurt to respond in a normal fashion. It’s a hell of a choice to have to make on the spur of the moment: “Hm! Will it hurt less to save myself from falling than it will to take a face plant in the grass?” I can’t say about the face plant, but stumbling around trying not to step on people was moderately uncomfortable.

We left our southeasterly path and turned straight north for a while, walking back towards the West Seattle Bridge. Kind of irritating to be covering the same territory just several blocks east of where we’d been walking before lunch, but I can forgive them their twists and turns for the sake of having had such a great route otherwise. Under the freeway, under the freeway bridge and across the Duwamish River. I’ll never be able to figure out where precisely we were walking and how we managed to get there, but the river crossing was nice and just across the river were Polly the Dinosaur woman and another of the safety crew escorting us across two rather busy intersections. We were across the intersection safely and Polly was just stepping back up onto the curb when an obviously *very important man* in some sort of zippy expensive car who had been waiting at the red light stomped on his accelerator and came within centimeters of tagging her as he zoomed past.
To put it lightly, Polly was PISSED! What I caught of her tirade was: “YOU MANIAC! I WAS STILL IN THE INTERSECTION!!!” at which point we were far enough away from each other and the traffic was loud enough that I missed the rest. I imagine for the sake of the image of the event, Polly wasn’t going to engage in any profane hollering, but I could see the blue cloud around her head.
Past a fishing terminal along the Duwamish waterway. A really crowded fishing terminal. A really crowded fishing terminal with people with buckets apparently keeping their catch. Yeesh! I’m certain I’d never want to eat anything that came out of that section of the water.
Since we were walking along the approach to the southern freight terminals there were a lot of semi-trucks driving past. All of whom were more than willing to blast their air horns in response to the traditional pumping arm request. It was a noisy day along Marginal Way at Spokane Street.
A zig northwards along Marginal Way, a zag east to First Avenue, past the Parrotheads of Puget Sound stand where they were giving out (yigh!) APPLE flavored sport drink slushies and then we were on final approach northwards along First Avenue south of the stadiums.
Also south of Krispy Kreme.
Dude standing out in the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme with an entire rack of boxes of doughnut holes. Turns out he was the manager and absolutely thrilled that we were walking in front of his store. Enh. Doughnut holes were good, but my favorite was the woman at the card table in front of Starbucks who had fresh veggies and (oh praise Zeus, PROTEIN) a huge plate full of beef jerky.

City walking is a lot of fun because there’s lots to look at and a lot of innocent bystanders to confuse. When I was going to Norwescon (the local science fiction convention) every year we engaged a lot in a game we’d call “Freaking the Mundanes”. Mundanes being those non-con related people staying at the hotels or eating at the restaurants that the con was overwhelming. Freaking being…..well, just being odd, oddly dressed, or prone to breaking into choruses of odd songs at the drop of a hat. Playing Freaking the Mundanes as a 3 Day walker is a lot of fun.
City walking is NOT a lot of fun because every block or so there’s a damned controlled intersection and you have to wait while the light changes. Now granted stopping at the crosswalk is a great time to engage in the continuous stretching that we were instructed to perform, but the stop and go is freakin’ murder.

Just south of Safeco Field (I won’t get started on my rant about publicly funded sports stadia in Seattle) there is an empty lot which, I believe, is the usual site of a beer garden on game days during baseball season. On Sunday it was home to our final pit stop. A lovely place with actual chairs, a snack stop with an actual tent around it so we could sit in the shade, and close enough to Qwest Field that we were starting to mingle with and starting to confuse the bejeesus out of the folks streaming in to the upcoming Seahawks game. I was sitting with my feet up eating a packet of potato chips and drinking orange Gatorade (hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! At least not until you’ve spent 2 1/2 days and 57 miles drinking lemon lime Gatorade) when one of the sweep vans blew past. Standing at the corner waiting for the light were a couple of football fans. The sweep van was decked out in a fight theme with “K-O CANCER” on one side and “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL” on the other with a couple of boxing gloves flapping from the side mirror. The navigator in a bright pink fuzzy hat hanging out the passenger window waving pink pompoms and shrieking at the top of her lungs. Even though I was half a block away or so I could hear the confusion in one guy’s voice when he turned to his buddy and said: “Fight like a girl?!!” It was wonderful.

Leaving the pit stop I hooked up with Miriam and her team. This is a group of four older women, all over 55 and at least two past 65, all of whom were wearing hand made vests with bra print fabric on one side and a hand quilted chicken on the other. I never asked the meaning of the vests, I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year. It was nice walking for a while with a group that I knew was not going to leave me in the dust. I had, in fact, to slow down a bit to keep pace with Miriam but we were having such an interesting conversation it was worth it. We talked a lot about cancer (she’s a breast cancer survivor) and cancer prevention. She had a lot of crusty comments to make about her feet, the condition of her joints, and the exact moral character of all the people who were streaming towards the football stadium to spend all their hard earned money watching people bash their heads together like idiots while drinking beer at 1:00 in the afternoon. Miriam and I got along JUST FINE.
Now let me paint a picture. In front of us a pair of younger women (early 20s-ish), both stripped to shorts and sports bras with figures that we all wished we had in our early 20s. They’ve hit that part of the weekend where the only thing you think about is putting one foot in front of the other and by god keeping moving at all costs until you’re done. In other words, they were completely oblivious. Miriam and I, taking up a great portion of the sidewalk since I was on the building side limping on my left leg and she was on the street side limping on her right. We cross an intersection and from around a corner comes up behind us a pair of (as they turned out) drunken Hummer salesmen on their way to the Seahawks game. So the picture is, the two 20 somethings in front, Miriam and I in the middle, and coming up close from behind are the two drunken Hummer salesmen. They pulled abreast of Miriam and I, asking typical idiot questions about what we were doing and how long we’d been walking. One, wearing a pink striped rugby shirt, claiming that he was supporting us on our walk because he was wearing pink and his mom had had that cancer on her nose and didn’t that really suck and all. Obnoxious, but not really threatening. When the Hummer salesmen started making somewhat ribald comments at the girls in front of us, trying to impress them with how hip and supportive they were of the cause (or at least supportive enough to impress two scantily clad hard bodies enough that they (the hard bodies) would take some notice of them), Miriam poked me and said: “Speed up a little bit, we’ll protect them!”. We stepped up a little bit, fell into lock step and left the Hummer salesmen behind mentioning loudly how cool they were since one of them was wearing pink.
The best part of this is that the 20 something hard bodies never even noticed that the Hummer salesmen were there. They were really in the zone.

North through Pioneer square, mystifying completely the group of Japanese tourists on the Underground Seattle Tour. North through the sleaze district and I started wishing intently for a pair of slippers that I could change into once we were done. Do you know how many cheap little Kwikie marts there are along 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle? A LOT! Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t be able to pay me to go into one, but under the circumstances I was pretty desperate. Only one proprietor seemed to recognize what I was asking for and he directed me far back in the back to a bin of leftover summer merchandise. He did, in fact, have slippers for sale, but they were all infant size and I resigned myself to missing the shoe tribute again.
Just south of the Hammering Man I was walking with a woman who had to walk in circles every time we reached an intersection where we had to stop. She said if she stopped walking her calves would cramp and she’d collapse in a heap. Around the corner comes one of the horse drawn downtown Seattle carriage tours. Two women and a girl on the seat looking thoroughly confused at my circling companion. One of the sweep vans pulled up and asked if she (the circling woman) needed any help but she declined. That interaction obviously gave the women in the carriage some sort of idea as to what was going on and we managed to have a conversation with them for about 3 blocks until they pulled off into Pike Place. The best part of the conversation being that when we told them we’d been walking for 3 days and almost 60 miles one of the women, completely seriously, asked: “So, like, do you get to stop at night or what? I mean….do you walk all day and all night too?!”
At that point I was so wiped I really did consider telling her that yes, we’d been walking without stopping since 0630 Friday just to see what her reaction would be, but was thwarted when the circling woman told her that no, we’d camped every evening. Oh well, so much for missed opportunity.
North past Pike Place, north into Belltown. I was still walking with Circling Woman when we came up with the Three Truths of The 3 Day and they are as follows.
1. Going is better than stopping.
2. Ramps are better than curbs. and
2. Uphill is WAY better than downhill.

And then we were through Belltown, crossing Denny and walking up along the west side of Seattle Center. Up past Key Arena, around a corner and once again, it was done.

They routed us down just north of the Northwest Rooms, through the inflatable gates that we’d passed through Friday morning, past the medical crew handing out cups of Gatorade and additional snacks, past the woman with the bar code reader and we were finished.
Gimpy knee and all I still finished in the first 500 of which I am quite proud. The holding area was in a basement room underneath PNW Ballet so you walked through a double pair of open doors then down the stairs into a roaring applauding crowd…..
The closing ceremonies were really something quite special. I’ll finish Day 3 here and cover the closing ceremonies separately.

9/22/2007

Day 2 Part 2

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 2:15 pm

I napped on a nice grassy bank with an ice bag on my knee, a bag of Sun Chips on my chest, and my hat over my face for about half an hour. Slugged down 400mg ibuprofen, took slurks off of my water bottle and listened to some quite remarkable conversations.
One woman bemoaning the fact that her shoes had gotten wet and she was wondering what would happen if she walked the rest of the day in wet socks. Fortunately someone found her a pair of dry socks and convinced her that trying to dry her own was a bad idea as she’d end up with most of the skin peeled off of her feet. Someone talking about how he couldn’t get out of his shoes because the laces had broken and he’d had to tie square knots in the laces which had now cinched down so tight he couldn’t untie them. People complaining about how horrid the walk down the driveway had been. People opining that they’d never leave the beach because they’d taken their shoes off in the sand and their feet were too happy. And over it all wafting slack key guitar music…… It was an surreal little nap.

Changed my socks, stripped off my shirt and shook the grass out of the back of my neck. Reapplied my sunscreen, cranked down on my own shoelaces, returned, much to the amusement of the people handing them out, my ice bag and started the hike back up to the road. Uphill is much, MUCH, better than downhill.
Before I left the park proper I talked to Pink Beard Guy. Relayed to him the comment about it taking a real man to wear a pink beard which amused him greatly. He did, however, refuse to have his photo taken in the position in which we’d first started our conversation which was flat on his back with his heels up over his head stretching his back.

The ridge above Puget Sound in Des Moines is a very fine place to walk. Broad sidewalks, polite traffic, lovely homes, a GORGEOUS view….. If it weren’t for the overwhelming constant airplane noise one would almost want to live there, but directly in the south flight approach of a major airport is not my idea of an appealing place to live.
I walked for a while with Miriam (more on her later), but when she and her group of little old Amazon women out paced me I just kinda walked. The ambulance guys must have passed us about six times back and forth. All the while playing, I believe, Barry Manilow over their PA system. What IS it with ambulance guys and soft-n-easy listening?! Matt, care to comment?
Lots and lots of pink balloons on the fence outside what used to be the Masonic retirement home which is a lovely old pile of a building that otherwise appeared to be entirely deserted.
Down the hill (damn, damn, DAMN the thrice cursed down hills!) to the intersection with Marine View drive then down to the Des Moines Marina where we walked past the Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market. The Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market had very kindly posted signs that we were to stay the hell away from their porta-potty thank you very much and that they did NOT represent a free snack stop. Lovely welcome we got from them, although there was an oompah band playing very tuba intensive polka music on their main stage as I was walking past. I found that in addition to disco, polka music makes very decent walking music indeed. I think they were a little disconcerted (heh, dis-CONCERTed) when after the polka had stopped playing I hollered out “MORE POLKA!!” Didn’t seem to endear me to them very much.

Along the Des Moines Marina where I got the first, and only, question of the weekend about the veterinary caduceus that is on the back of my shirt. I was gimping along with nothing really on my mind but my hat when a voice behind me asked: “WHO is your sponsor?!”
I laughed and admitted that I didn’t really have a major sponsor except for myself and that the shirt honored the fact that I’m a veterinarian.
Tallish, skinny woman pulls up beside me and it turns out that she’s a veterinarian too. Works somewhat north of Everett and I noted that she had been the only one all day to recognize the caduceus. We chatted for a while about my shirt, she was, I think, the only person who was reading the list who didn’t ask me what a tenrec is but since she was able to walk at a fair clip faster than I we soon parted company.

There’s a lovely little park at the very north end of the marina that I’d never have known was there otherwise. The next pit stop was there and I began to realize that it was not in any way a normal pit stop, no, this was THE SUPER PIT STOP. I can’t think that they hadn’t been present on Friday, but I know that Saturday afternoon was the first time I’d noticed the SUPER PORTA-POTTIES and the fact that we were being served SUPER WATER and SUPER SNACKS. Fantastically, awfully, 1970’s Batman-like “WHAM” and “POW” exclamations on the potty doors. The guy that was running around in a black SUPER cape and SUPER mask protecting his secret identity was the real hit of that show. Nut jobs, every single one of them.

Just up a ways and right around the corner and here we are at the second cheering station of the day. Candy and drinks and businesses along the way who had set out cheerful signs and one that was offering a flush toilet stop to anyone who was wearing a walker credential. Andrew, Shawn, Anastasia, and my folks (and the dog) were there which gave me the opportunity to hand off my flamingo deeley boppers which were somewhat less than convenient to walk around with. Make you about six inches taller and thus subject to catching on low hanging branches. Besides Anastasia looks a lot cuter in them than I did anyway. Much cheer from the family, a lot of pointing out of people I’d been walking and chatting with. I couldn’t really stop for long though. It’s true that once you’ve gotten going you just hit a momentum and if you stop you’re done for.
On the other hand, I knew the direction they were taking us and even though uphill is way better than downhill I sure as hell didn’t want to walk UP the hill out of Des Moines and into the south end of Normandy Park. It was very convenient then that the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was in a parking lot at the base of the hill. I was the last they could fit for that run so I swung in and we were off up the hill. It was a mile, maybe a mile and a half to the next pit stop, a small park in Normandy Park, but it really doesn’t seem like a long way until you drive it. I was REALLY glad for the rest especially since I was in the beginning stages of what I was to describe to the amusement of the MD at the next medical tent as “Acute Brace Rash” and there was a patch on the outside of my calf that was threatening revolt without some additional help. We trailed through Normandy Park towards the pit stop with the navigator hanging out the windows chatting with everyone we drove past and the driver flipping in increasing frustration through the CD in the stereo looking for at least one song that they hadn’t listened to 36 times in the last 24 hours. An idea began to percolate through my brain.

They dropped us all off at Mara Vista Park which I’d never seen before. It’s in a section of the neighborhood where I don’t usually walk, but now that I’ve got that section of the area sort of plugged into my mental map, I’ll sure go back.
I got the bemused MD to pad up my leg to protect my calf from the pressure of the brace, hit the potties, grabbed my snack, stretched in various obscure ways and was off again. Except for the small part of that section that involved Mara Vista Park and elementary school where I’d never been before, we were then walking right along my regular training route. I was thrilled, and probably a little obnoxious truth be told, to be walking through my own neighborhood. We were pretty strung out at that point and I wasn’t really walking with, let alone talking with, anyone. However every chance I got to bring up in casual conversation that this was where I lived and had trained, I did. There’s something really giddy about doing something this unusual in front of people who might casually recognize you. I must have been a real pain in the butt.

It was down along Marine View Drive, just outside one of my favorite-est walking spots in the neighborhood, that we ran across the Parrotheads of Puget Sound booth for the first time. This is a local group of, I believe, Jimmy Buffet fans who had set up a tropical themed stand and were handing out Gatorade slushies. What was most notable about them, outside of the fact that they’re all completely nuts and utterly wonderful for hanging out handing out yummies to us lunatics, was that the blenders they were using to create said slushies……. SOUNDED LIKE A FREAKING CHAINSAW! I powered right through them, collecting my yummy frozen treat along the way, and didn’t actually consider that the chainsaw that I was hearing was the blender they were using. I thought one of the neighbors was taking out a tree. It wasn’t until I ran across them on a dusty downtown street on Sunday that I realized it was their blender that was making those frightening noises. Apparently if one is a significant enough margarita fan one can actively seek out one of these hideous monstrosities that are, in fact, run by the motor for a gas powered leaf blower. It takes a serious blender fanatic to have a blender that has to be started with a pull cord.

I was REALLY jazzed to be walking through my own neighborhood. So jazzed, in fact, that when we got to the last pit stop of the day (the Wizard of Oz stop) I was inspired to take a multitude of photos detailing the fact that the pit stop was *In My Very Own Neighborhood*. At the Normandy Park City Hall, to be exact. Normandy Park is a tiny entirely suburban city and city hall is deeply ensconced in the middle of a neighborhood exactly where you wouldn’t expect a city hall to be. Normandy Park City Hall, in fact, is exactly where one would expect to find an elementary school (which I suspect it once was) with a lovely little grassy park and some play equipment. I had a lot of fun taking photos of the porta potties because it amused me greatly to find porta potties at my *very own* City Hall. Hey, gimme a break, I’d walked 37 miles at that point and I was pooped. A lot of things seemed amusing or reasonable.
There was much wailing and sounds of disappointment when, after having been presented with several sets of beads each, the Normandy Park firefighters who were in attendance there didn’t show us their chests. It must be a Mardi Gras thing, but apparently when one is presented with a set of beads one is supposed to flash one’s chest. These were some seriously good looking guys too.

Anyway I struck out from City Hall for the last 3 miles before camp. Up some hills that I didn’t know existed. I am very familiar with the route, but since I come from southeast and head north before turning west, and in this case we were coming from southwest and heading northeast….. Well, just accept the fact that the route was backwards for me and what had seemed like a nice gradual down slope when I was in training was a pretty significant up slope when I was walking. Even though uphill is WAY better than downhill, it was a bit of a betrayal. Through some truly lovely sections of Normandy Park then a sharp left and we were walking right along 1st Ave. South.
Busy road. Lots of traffic, lots of honking, lots of extremely confused looks. Nice old folks outside the retirement home and another pox ridden LONG downhill just south of 160th (we were camped on 156th). Since the route was taking us straight past Five Corners I really desperately wanted to walk that last stretch since I wanted to make an obnoxious spectacle of myself outside the building where I’d worked for the last 9 years. Unfortunately my knee had other things to say about it and when it gave out, I mean literally I just about collapsed in a heap at about 163rd, I gave in in bad grace and flagged down YIPPEE! MY PRINCESS GIRLS!
The sweep van crews are really something special. I was truly bummed at not being able to walk the last bit of the day, but the Princess Van girls really managed to cheer me up. We zoomed back to the last pit stop, picking people up along the way playing bouncy and up tempo walking music. The Princess Van girls were also suffering from severe music repetition and another idea started to percolate through my head. There were only four of us in the van (the two of them, another walker and I) when we started to head back to camp. We started talking about why we were walking and they seemed truly touched when I told them about Grams. When I asked if they’d like some additional music and how I’d be able to find them before the route opened Sunday morning they were enthusiastic and thrilled. They were also nice enough to stop in the parking lot at an apartment complex just before we got to camp so they could let us out and we could walk in to camp. A great group of folks.

I signed in at camp, officially signed out for the evening and called Andrew for a pick up.

Postscript for Day 2 includes me going home, slugging down a huge volume of Praying Mantis Juice (ask Andrew for the recipe. If you’re prone to leg cramps this stuff is the shit.), eating a very proteinaceous dinner off of my chest while collapsed in bed with an ice bag on my knee, and slipping into unconsciousness by 1930. I don’t think I’ve been out for the night that early since I was about five. I did stop, though, to burn a pair of CDs for my two sweep van drivers. I’d made Andrew a CD of cheering station music, listening to it right now in fact, that mixed some of my best walking music with some of the best walking music from the mix disc that Robbie made for me. Titled “TOTALLY ROCKIN’ WALKING”, I was very eager to hand them off the next morning.

9/21/2007

Does This Scare Anyone Else?

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:25 am

At 6:03 Pacific Time this morning, someone got to an old post on my blog via a Google search for the phrase, “TRACE PIGGYBACKER”.

Now, the concerns that engendered the search are probably quite justifiable, and the article in question did mention wireless piggybacking….though not in a way that would be super-extra helpful to most folks.

No, the real show-stopper here was the source of the search: a computer in a cluster belonging to dhs.gov.

That’s the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security is looking to me to help solve their computer security problems.

Be afraid; be very afraid. 😯

9/19/2007

Good Kitty

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:10 pm

I had a dream last night where I was in the kitchen and noticed our cat Scrum staring intently into a patch of empty space just inside the hallway leading into the living room and bedroom area. All of a sudden I knew, just knew that he was seeing Scamper. I dropped to one knee, stretched out my right hand and began snapping my fingers lightly, the way I always do when trying to get one of our cats’ attention. As I did, Scamper materialized a couple of feet from me, just coalescing into being as he lumbered forward towards my outstretched hand. I began twiddling my fingers in the ruff around his left cheek and ear, and he burrowed his head into my fingers the way he always did. I began crying and telling him he was a good kitty, and then as my vision blurred with tears he dissipated into nothingness again.

I didn’t wake up, but I know that if I had, my face would have been damp.

This was a good dream, a happy dream. If I were to infer anything—and I’m not sure that I do—I would take it to mean that Scamper is content wherever he is, even if he’s just hanging around the house. Shawn once opined that in fact he is (and took this as a good sign), and while I have neither the belief structure to take his word for it nor have asked him about Scamper’s presence since, it gives me some measure of peace to think that it might be so.

I relayed my dream to Margaret this evening, and she took it pretty hard. I forget that, along with being a beloved pet, Scamp was a patient of hers. She will never quite get over the fact that she could not rewrite the laws of Nature and the Universe to save my cat from death, and I can only hold her and comfort her as best I can when some insensitive lummox reminds her of it.

All in all, I think it’s a good thing that I can still be brought to tears over the memory of a pet. It means I’m not completely selfish, that I feel for creatures other than myself. (Even as a pot of pork chili bubbles on the stove top in anticipation of tomorrow night’s dinner. On the other hand, the pig in question got to our house DOA; his petting days were long over. If I start seeing angry pig ghosts about, you can betcher fur I’ll be rethinking the whole meatatarian thing. Till then, pass the Tabasco.)

And when the unthinkable happens and Scrum also leaves us, I think I will want to take a bit of a sabbatical before bringing any more pets into our lives. We’ll probably still have our two pythons Chuck and Sally (they can live for 30 years of more), but reptiles are a different kind of pet; there’s no emotional attachment on their part. They recognize us as nonthreatening, but that’s about it. They don’t pine for us in our absence, they don’t perk up when they hear us coming. We’re basically just an armature of nice warm spots to curl up in or hang off of.

But while I don’t doubt there are more cats in our future (and who knows, maybe even a dog? Stranger things have happened), I think I will feel the need for a hiatus, for a caesura of a little silence and stillness, before diving back into the bright, happy distraction of young lives zipping hither and yon through the house. Give Scamp and his brother some time to reacquaint themselves before moving on to whatever it is that awaits them.

*Sigh* Good Kitty.

“It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch.”

—Unknown, written on an anonymous tombstone

9/17/2007

Day 2 Part 1

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 2:52 pm

Despite ice, ibuprofen, and falling asleep at 2000 on Friday night, I was really stiff Saturday morning. My knee didn’t hurt so much, it was more that I could feel that the joint wasn’t normal. Full weight bearing extension, like going down stairs, hurt, but normal walking was comfortable although I could feel the weakness in the joint.
Got up, showered, ate some breakfast and strapped myself into the bionic knee.
Andrew was almost crosseyed at 0530 but conscious enough at least to drive me back to camp so I could get there in time to get to the medical tent and have someone check the brace before the route opened at 0630. I was concerned too about what sort of skin irritation I was going to be subject to having this thing rubbing on my thigh and my calf for 20 miles so I was very enthusiastic about standing in line at medical.
Morning sick call, as it were, is composed of people who need medical help for blisters, people who were red carded the previous day, and people who have woken up feeling more like they’ve been hit by a bus than the rest of us. They shot me and the red carders to the head of the line and when I told the people that were doing triage that all I needed was someone to check the brace and give me something to keep from chafing under it, even the red carders let me go first. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t take much time to fix.
Out comes the roll of tape padding foam and the sadist in the sports medicine tent strapped me into the brace much tighter than I would have done so myself and I was good to go.

Sorta.

Up stairs isn’t a convenient thing when one has a knee that doesn’t extend properly but I was still right near the front when they opened the route.
At least for about the first five minutes.
We left camp on a long shallow downhill and I discovered that, brace or not, downhill is NOT comfortable. The brace was slipping a little bit, my knee hurt like fury and I pulled off the sidewalk to remove the brace. Took a few steps without the brace and discovered that as uncomfortable as I had been with it, walking without it was MUCH WORSE.
Right. Many bad words and much futzing with about eighteen velcro straps then I just limped.

Saturday morning was clear and beautiful with dew on the grass, but a little cool. We were all a little chilly and I was glad for my long sleeved overshirt. We turned a corner and started on the flat section of Des Moines Memorial Drive. Ah! MUCH better. My gait was in no way normal, but I was at least learning how to compensate to make the brace, The Knee, and my right knee (which hasn’t been 100% normal since I broke my right little toe in Hwarang Do class 10 years ago) all work together.
I had an odd realization too at that point, that I had suddenly gone from the category of “people who are sore and walking anyway” to “wounded walker”. The brace was a big focal point about my appearance for the rest of the weekend and I got comments ranging from “How are you doing? Are you doing alright?” to “Well bless you for walking under the circumstances!” It was also frustrating to want to walk at a much faster pace than I could. A nice rolling gimp is about 2-1/2 to 3 MPH and my natural pace is about 3-1/2 MPH. Frustrated by the limitations I mentioned same to someone who came up behind me and asked how I was doing. When she said “Well, hey, it’s gotta be easier than chemo!” (which was sort of obnoxious under the circumstances since she had asked me how I was doing and I had answered her quite honestly) I decided then that I’d just shut up. My stock answer after that whenever anyone asked me how I was doing was “Oh, I’ll do!”

About half an hour out I was warmed up enough to not need my overshirt anymore. I’d been waiting for WEEKS to unveil my team shirt and it was quite satisfactory. Walking up Des Moines Memorial Drive I pulled off the overshirt and first thing I heard was the woman behind me snort and say “NO WAY! Rats got TWELVE?!”. I had more fun with my Team Eccentrica shirt! I got into some great conversations. People asking if the numbers were really accurate (no, I just made them all up), people asking what a tenrec is (for some reason that was the one that got the most confusion), people asking where I’d gotten the list……. That shirt was so much fun. I was disappointed that no one really asked about sperm whales, platypusses, or saber toothed tigers, but a girl can’t have everything.

Des Moines Memorial Drive isn’t exactly what you’d call the heart of suburbia, so passing drivers felt free to honk and the ambulance crew were playing their music REALLY LOUD over their PA system Why they thought easy listening was appropriate walking music to play for us I’ll never know, but at least they were cheerful about it. We walked up Des Mem Drive then down Des Mem Drive past a coffee stand on the corner of two relatively busy, very commercial streets. I doubt that coffee stand has seen that much business in the past six months as they saw that Saturday morning.
Up and down and around along the flat. Turned left at a corner lot behind whose fence were a pair of largish dogs both barking their lungs out. If I’d have been their neighbors I’d have strangled the dogs long ago.
The first pit stop was at a church on the top of a small rise just southwest of the airport. If you’re interested in airplanes, it was a great place to stop because we were watching approach and take off from just far enough away that the noise wasn’t overwhelming.
Porta-Potties are not the most convenient places when one is somewhat limited in mobility. If you’ve never had the (dubious) pleasure, imagine an airport lavatory with a steep step and you’ve pretty much got the right space limitations. Except there’s no sink, you’ve absolutely no chance to wash your hands (there’s a container of gelled alcohol hand sanitizer on the wall) and you know you have to hustle because there’s about 50 people waiting in line behind you. Now add a leg that doesn’t bend in the right way. Getting up and down and in and out was difficult and it took me about four pit stops on Saturday to realize that it was easier to take the step UP with my right leg and the step DOWN with my left.

mmmmMMMMM peanut butter graham crackers!

Down a long hill then a quick left and out to 188th. 188th runs along, and under, the south end of the airport. There’s a tunnel, in fact, that goes right under one of the runways. When I saw the direction we were walking first thing that morning I was rather hoping that they weren’t going to run us through the tunnel, but there wasn’t any practical way to avoid it. And as if it wasn’t noisy enough to begin with, two lanes of traffic going in our direction in a small concrete tube, the passing drivers decided that honking was a good idea. While I appreciate, even encourage, people to honk when they’re driving past, doing so in a tunnel is a VERY BAD IDEA. Most of us marched along in single file, heads down and hands over our ears. It was quite noisy.
We intersected with Pac Highway (some two miles south of where we’d crossed the previous day), took a right much to the annoyance of people waiting at the intersection and started heading straight south. Pac Highway isn’t so much an entertaining place to walk, but I gotta say we sure attracted attention.
Up and up and up, uphill is WAY better than downhill, and in what seemed like a remarkably short period of time we were 5 miles out at the second pit stop. I had discovered about half a mile earlier that the way I was moving with my right leg to compensate for my left was causing a remarkable cramp in my right calf. I gimped past the JV cheerleaders who were out practicing their routines on us and lined up at the medical tent again.
The next available sadist was named Jennifer and when I showed her my brace and explained the situation she told me that I was wearing it too loose and too low which was why it was slipping. She shifted the brace somewhat northward, cranked it down and then approached my right calf.

Consider carefully the term “sadist”.

AGHK!
She dug her fingers into the cramp so hard that I was sure my eyeballs were going to fall out. When she noticed my eyeballs falling out, Jennifer grinned and said “You’ll hate me now, but you’ll thank me later!” which was true. She did manage to release the cramp and then showed me some very specific stretches for that area. To the point where I was moving pretty darned well when I left the pit stop.

Up Pac Highway, down Pac Highway. I limped along with a woman for a while who told me that she was walking with a team but that she’d “left the gimps back at the pit stop” because she had a cramp in her thigh that threatened to strangle her if she stopped moving. The rest of her team had blisters that needed doctoring, but if she stopped moving she wasn’t sure she was going to ever get going again.
At a major intersection along Pac Highway we met the Duck Man for the first time. Duck Man is another one of the safety crew crossing guards. Older rocker looking guy. Shoulder length gray hair, big gray mustache and he and his bike are all decked out in rubber duckies and devil duckies (check out www.mcphee.com if you’d like a devil ducky). Duck Man also has a plastic yellow duck bill that hangs from an elastic strap around his neck. When he needs to provide vocal direction or when he is having a conversation with anyone, the duck bill comes up and he quacks. I don’t think any of us ever heard his actual voice, he just quacked all weekend.
Six miles along, seven miles along and we were taking another damn long downhill when my knee went GINK!
Right.
SWEEP VAN!!!!

I managed to flag down the 18 Hour Lift and Support van again, I was their first customer of that run and so waving off the bag of Tootsie Rolls that was being offered I managed to get a seat right up front. They asked if I minded if they didn’t deliver me directly to the next pit stop since they were just starting their run.
“Why on earth would it matter to me? You guys are driving!” and I sat back and relaxed.
Aside from the underlying terror of riding with the lunatic behind the wheel, it was a lot of fun. The navigator is a superb cheerleader and she is a lot of fun to watch. It wasn’t very long before we drove past the same quartet that I had been swept with Friday afternoon and when the navigator said to the driver “Well Chuck has got to show us some leg before we’ll pick him up!”, oddly enough at that point one of the guys stepped one leg off the sidewalk where he was walking and hiked his shorts up in what was obviously meant to be a sexy come hither pose.
And we pulled a big gigantic u-turn in a 12 person passenger van across six lanes of major arterial on a busy Saturday morning and went to pick them up.
A couple more pick ups and we had a full van. Jim, one of the husbands far in the back, had a major caffeine jones going so with a little sweet talking on his part we pulled into a Kwikie Mart along the way to the next pit stop. A screeching halt just outside the door and the navigator, gigantic sunglasses, straw hat with accompanying bra and all, hops out to go grab some sodas. She walked in and got a really odd look from the poor kid (all of about 20 maybe) behind the counter. Inside the van Jim suddenly starts agitating from the back.
“Hey! Up front! Open the door! Open the door!”
On the assumption that he was signaling some sort of distress and was maybe in need of exiting the vehicle at some speed, the woman sitting next to the passenger door quickly pulled it open at which point he got up, stuck his head out the door and yelled:
“HEY! GIVE HER A DISCOUNT, SHE’S A PRETTY LADY!!”
At which point the poor guy behind the counter turned from the pink and sunglasses in front of him and noticed that the gigantic van outside his door was covered in lacy bras.
The look on his face was beautiful.
He waved in an utterly confused sort of way, the navigator came out with the sodas and we roared off for the pit stop.

A little ibuprofen, a little gatorade, some string cheese, and a potty stop and I was good to go. Especially since we were going uphill.
An involved conversation with two women behind me who were sure that beavers shouldn’t be on my shirt because they were convinced that beavers didn’t nurse their young. Another conversation with another woman about why I hadn’t included parrots on the list.

The first cheering station of the day was at Highline Community College and it was HUGE. A quarter to a half mile at least of people clapping and cheering, of bubbles, and candy, and high fives. One group of people with mist bottles, a second group (as it turns out) representing the Woodland Park Zoo handing out deeley boppers with pink flamingos on the end (Woodland Park is opening a flamingo exhibit next May). The cheering stations are so intense. It’s such a weird thing to have perfect strangers thanking you sincerely for doing something that just doesn’t seem that extraordinary. People thanking me when all I’m doing is, well, just walking.
It was a good thing I was wearing wrap around sunglasses, because these folks got me crying.

And it didn’t help that the dang cheering station was on the top slope of a long and steep downhill. I managed about half the way down when my knee gave up the ghost again. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van passed me going the other direction and I signaled them, but there were too many people and too much traffic for them to safely get over to my side of the road. The driver shouted that she’d signal another van for me and I kept walking (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch) which turned out to be the wrong thing to do because when the Princess van finally came to get me they were sure that they had to pick up two people just past the cheering station and then they couldn’t find us (the other pick up had kept walking too).
The Princess van pulled over and with one Princess, complete in pink tutu, out in the middle of the road holding up traffic for me I managed to hobble across the road and swing up into the van.
What a horrendous pink monstrosity! I believe my exact words were:
“Wow! Tack-o-rama!”
Sparkly stars and crowns, rhinestone sunglasses, magic wands with shiny mylar ribbons streaming off of them, enormous pink puffy crown shaped pillows with ‘PRINCESS’ embroidered across them….. It was wonderful.
I was forcibly handed a pair of Hershey’s kisses, some stickers, one of the pillows and a permanent marker. I was instructed in no uncertain terms that I had to sign the pillow. I signed the pillow and we drove off looking for other pickups. Since we were driving right through we were talking about the cheering station and how wonderful all these people were coming out to support us like this. The driver and her spotter had walked in 2006 and the driver said that a friend of hers had engineered a special pair of sunglasses for her after talking with her at the second cheering station on their first day. She pulled out the sunglasses, a small pair of closely fitting pink plastic sunglasses. Each lens had a small section of sponge glued to it. The driver said that they were extremely helpful at the cheering stations because you didn’t have to take any time searching through your waist pack for Kleenex.

A few more pickups and we were off for lunch. When I got the e-mail that said we’d be “lunching right on the shores of Puget Sound” I was sure that we’d be having lunch at Saltwater State Park and I was right. And getting down into the park I was extremely glad that I was in the van and not trying to walk DOWN into Saltwater State Park. It’s a gorgeous place to eat lunch but the driveway is very steep. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, there were sunny bits with picnic tables, there were shady bits with soft grass, there was a nice breeze off the sound, and sitting on the fender of one of the semi-trucks that was used to help move the food from place to place was a ghoul in a straw hat. Andrew knows what sort of ghoul it was, it’s apparently a prop from some or another horror movie, but it really threw me for a loop to be walking past with lunch on my mind and have this…um….thing suddenly pop up in front of me.
The theme for lunch that day seemed to be Hawaii with a twist. People in grass skirts, cardboard cutout palm trees taped up all over the place, a lot of coconut bras, especially on the men, and over all of it wafts the slack key music.
I was pooped. Despite the van assists, I was outright pooped. The tummy weasels were a little unhappy, my knee hurt and I was just ready to stop.
Got the lunch, sat down with the lunch, and started nibbling on the lunch when some of the music finally started percolating into my conscious mind. I looked up suddenly and caught the woman down the table from me at the exact same moment that the realization that had just hit me, hit her.
“Did I really just hear that or did I hallucinate it?”
“No, if you hallucinated it, I did to. Did you hear ‘Rocky Mountain High’ translated into slack key guitar with Hawaiian lyrics?”
“Yup!”
“Oh dear.”
I have no idea where the music came from. I have no idea of the artist, the band, or the REASON, but John Denver in slack key guitar it most certainly was. *shudder*
I finished my lunch and limped off to find an ice bag and a nice sunny grassy spot then lay down to ice my knee and eat chips off my chest with my hat over my face.

And that’s all of Saturday that I’m going to detail at the moment. I’ve got to unload the dishwasher and check my dehydrator (dried tomatoes and plums thank you very much) then I really should go and socialize with Joan and Tony for a while more before we go off to dinner. Further installments as time allows.

Stand By….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:38 am

Things have been a bit hectic because my parents have been in town for a brief stay, so I haven’t been posting. Probably won’t get around to putting another one up until after Friday, when they’re gone and the Fall catalog for FP is finally and irrevocably out the door. So here, in the stead of actual content, is a really cute Scottish Toyota commercial my brother forwarded to me (QuickTime format).

9/15/2007

Day 1 Part 2

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 8:13 am

Okay, so now that I’ve had a few days to let the swelling in my feet go down…..

Well, not really. Getting up for work at 0530 for the last 3 days my feet haven’t been swollen, but by the time I’ve been getting home feet, ankles, and knees have all been pretty dang puffy. I ended up having to wear my Birkenstocks to work on Monday and Tuesday because my feet were so swollen my regular work shoes (carbon copies of my walking shoes) wouldn’t fit.

So where were we? Oh yes, they’d just opened the flood gates and let us loose on the BCC campus.

Gorgeous, STUNNING morning. Clear and cool with the sun just coming up, the sky all pink, and PRAISE ZEUS A PORTA-POTTY! Two cups of tea and enough water to slug down my morning handful of vitamins combined with about an hour of standing around in the cool combined to make it necessary. Shortest danged line I’d see for a potty all weekend to tell the truth.

We wound our way across the BCC campus and over I-90 (I got a great photo of the sun coming up over the Cascades and the highway all pink and empty). I was walking with no one in particular and then I fell in with a pair of sisters with whom I chatted for a while. We overtook Sue, wearing a bright green “Breast Buddies” T-shirt, and they walked on while I slowed down to talk with Sue.
I walked the first three miles or so with her (there’s a photo of her and one of her Breast Buddies teammates in the Day 1 photos). She was walking a little slower than my normal healthy pace, but she was interesting to talk to so I kept pace with her. We were walking west along the south side of the freeway when the first casualty of the day occurred. A metal plate in the sidewalk was dew slick and someone went down and skinned her knee. It was fortunate timing as it turned out since, as Sue pointed out, we were right in front of Group Health and one of our ambulance sweeps had just passed us. The EMTs were out in nanoseconds and patching her up much to general applause.
Sue was walking, especially on the down hills, with an odd stiff legged gait and while I didn’t want to ask why she was walking like this, she broached the subject herself when she asked me what my connection to the 3 Day was. For the first time of many that weekend I answered that I’d first done it as a challenge to myself and then continued to do it as a tribute to my grandmother who had died on the third day of my first 3 Day. Sue said that she didn’t have any personal connection to breast cancer either, but that she’d had bone cancer and had had most of her right femur, her right knee, and a good deal of her right tibia excised and replaced with titanium implants. Sue has a friend who had walked the 2006 3 Day and the friend had approached Sue for that walk, but since she was so recently out of surgery and chemotherapy she could not. Sue went on to say that she was unlikely to be able to complete anything but the first three miles but that if she could do that she’d consider it a triumph.
And she did. We walked down past Factoria, down into the swampy bits where the south end of Bellevue meets the east shore of Lake Washington. The walking was stunning. Bright sunshine but a nice breeze, wide trails with lots of wildlife, and one of the route marking crew that had come through with a piece of chalk and pointed an arrow at each and every bench along the way with the words “REST STOP” in front. Along the trail and then amazingly soon a stop at Enetai Beach Park for our first pit stop. Sue was limping pretty badly by the time we got to the pit, but she was so jazzed that she’d managed to walk that far. She caught up with the rest of her team, told them what she was doing, found herself a sweep van and I didn’t see her for the rest of the weekend. It is possible that she did all that fundraising and did all the training walks with her team and walked her three miles and went home.
But it was still pretty dang inspiring.

We left the pit stop and walked UP for our first taste of freeway walking. Caught the pedestrian walkway along the East Channel bridge and had a very bad effect on morning traffic. At that point we were getting more blank stares than anything else (early Friday morning daze on the part of the drivers), but pretty soon people started catching on and we were getting honked at a LOT. We crossed the east channel and started walking through Mercer Island which was pretty, clean, and really really really dull. I guess people were worried about disturbing their neighbors or something, but for all that we had a lot of traffic passing us we sure didn’t seem to attract any attention. The woman from the King 5 News van got more attention from passing motorists than we did.
I hooked up for a while with a woman named Judy. She didn’t have any direct link to breast cancer either, but she said she was walking mostly because she figured that any research into cancer was a good thing. She seemed earnest but also seemed to get a lot of her information on health and health care issues from the internet or from her local health food and incense store employees. I say this because she spent a LOT of time talking about environmental toxins and how one day you’re not supposed to cook in aluminum and then you’re not supposed to use anti-perspirants but then it’s okay to use anti-perspirants, but you absolutely had to avoid trans fats. She seemed a little confused.
When she learned that I was a veterinarian she spent at least 10 minutes telling me a long and involved story about how her cat had died because of some sort of intestinal mass or maybe it was an intestinal obstruction that had been caused by a mass that had grown up around some plastic and that the cat had been perfectly normal one day and then really sick and jaundiced when they took it to their veterinarian the next day and and and and and….. Nothing annoys me more than having someone bring a pet to me that has obviously been profoundly ill for a good deal of time and exclaim “She was perfectly normal yesterday Doc!”. I’ve always wanted to follow that with “REALLY?! Do I have the word STUPID tattooed on my forehead or did you really expect me to believe that?”
Judy and I didn’t walk together for very long.

The last pit stop before the I-90 floating bridge was at a GORGEOUS little park just above the east highrise. Water clear and sparkling, sky bright blue with a few little wispy clouds. Enough dew on the grass to make stretching in any aggressive way a little bit damp, but we’d only gone about 5 miles at that point and at least I didn’t really need to stretch TOO much. I saw the Breastie Boys for the first time at that stop. Fell to talking with two of them, Todd and Troy, both wearing pink shirts emblazoned with their team name across the front. I didn’t realize until later (i.e. until they were walking in front of me) that they were all walking in honor of Todd’s wife Tana who had died of complications of breast cancer. All of their shirts read “WALKING FOR TANA” across the back.
I was really astonished at the number of men walking this year. In 2002 there were maybe a handful of guys. In 2005 there were a few more, this year there were a LOT of guys walking. Guys walking with their wives, guys walking solo, guys walking in all guy teams. One guy (I’ll get to him later) walking with the woman that he married Friday evening. It is a rare pleasure to see this sort of dedication to a disease that most people think as a female only problem.

The floating bridge was a hoot. Nice breeze, sparkly water, everyone in the entire freakin’ world honking at us, and someone in a small (pink) pleasure boat cruising between the east highrise and the west highrise blowing an airhorn and hooting and hollering. I was sort of loosely walking with a group of power walking women who were all wearing shirts emblazoned across the back with the lyrics of the Melissa Ethridge song about breast cancer. I was familiar with the song (thanks Robbie!), but not the artist and when I asked the team leader who had written the lyrics she said “Melissa Ethridge….who’s probably going to sue us for copyright violation or something!”
I was feeling great, probably too great, and making fantastic time which was eventually my downfall. We crested the west highrise, did a 270 degree turn along the pedestrian path and then headed down along Seward Park. Just as we were getting off the bridge I noticed an older guy in front of me wearing his pink ‘bub’ (a semi-elastic pink tube bandanna that they handed out before the opening ceremonies) on his head. That wasn’t the most notable thing about his appearance, however, there were a lot of guys wearing pink that weekend and the bub was a good way to keep your hair from flying around. No, what I found most charming about this guy, sadly I never did get his name, was that he had dyed his white beard pink. As in freaking neon pink. Glow in the dark (probably not literally), NEON pink. One woman behind me said to no-one in particular when she saw him “You know, it takes a real man to wear a pink beard!” a comment that I couldn’t help but pass on to him when I met him at lunch the next day. He was very flattered, but at the time it made me snort Gatorade out my nose (don’t try it, it hurts).

The first major crossing on Seward Park Avenue (drive, place, whatever) was manned by Polly the Dinosaur Lady! I was thrilled! Polly, for those to whom I haven’t raved about her, is a short stout little tough lady who rides a HUGE Harley that’s decked out in various 3 Day paraphenalia. Polly does safety crew for every west coast 3 Day every summer and she always has a little squeaky dinosaur that encourages us across crosswalks. If you get too close to the squeaky dinosaur as you’re crossing the crosswalk you get a little squeaky dinosaur kiss. Polly’s a hoot and, as I was to learn on Sunday, she takes her responsibilities extremely seriously (more on that later too).
Seward Park is an extremely pleasant place to walk first thing in the morning. Lake is blue, sky is blue, ducks are quacking, ambulances blow past blasting the most NOXIOUS music across their PA systems. You round a curve or two and you can see the I-90 bridge again, far in the distance with a huge long line of little teeny people dressed in pink and white. If you get the wind in the right direction you can still even catch the honks of the passing semi-trucks.
Breathtaking pit stop right on the beach with PEANUT BUTTER GRAHAM CRACKER SANDWICHES! Laurie will remember how hideously addictive these things are. The ones they handed out in 2002 were fabulous, the ones they handed out this year were better. Especially if they were refrigerated and the peanut butter was cold. MMMMMmmmm! Peanut butter. I swear they put something addictive in those things because you’d think the least appealing thing you could feed people doing heavy exercise would be peanut butter, but there’s something about the combination of protein, fat, and sugar that makes these bloody things……well, the peanut butter graham crackers were always the snacks that ran out first. It pays to walk in the first thousand or so otherwise you’ll never get any.
Past the first cheering station where the Redmond Police department was handing out wristbands in honor of their team members walking in the “Cops For A Cure” team. There was also someone handing out orange popsicles which, at about 10 a.m. and especially after the peanut butter, were pretty hideous. Actually that cheering station was probably where we saw the Breast Friends for the first time too. A pair of women and a pair of young-ish (mid-teens maybe) girls, likely mothers and daughters, had decked out their red Mustang convertible with every pink accessory and frill available and had painted (please let it only have been colored hairspray!) “BREAST FRIENDS FOR EVER” along both sides. The moms took it in turn driving while the daughters hung out the back waving pink pom-poms and cheering their lungs out. These four tailed us all weekend, playing bouncy music, honking shouting, handing out candy and just generally being wonderful.

And then I was at lunch. The very south end of the lake 1045, and someone at the opening of this small park with a counter keeping track of how many people were coming in while someone behind her was handing out little crocheted pink button up armbands. I mean, I guess they were arm bands. I wore mine on my arm for a while. I saw a lot of them on ankles and wrists, some around the crowns of hats, some just hanging off of waist pack straps. I guess if you’ve got the time and a bunch of pink yarn…. Struck me as a little odd though.
11 1/2 miles out and I was ready to sit. Visited the comfort stations, grabbed my lunch, found a sunny patch of grass and sat down. It is almost obscene how good it feels to take your shoes off at that point. I called Andrew and made ecstatic noises at him while I was wiggling my toes in the grass. I engulfed my chicken sandwich and potato chips (here again my hat is off to whoever does the nutritional planning for these things. Potato chips are appealing, an easy source of carbohydrates, a GREAT source of salt, and they make you thirsty as hell so you tend to drink a lot.). I ignored the potato salad, ever since I got salmonella during a week long junior high school trip I’ve been a little leery of commercially prepared potato salad, but dutifully ate my apple. Then I collapsed in the sunshine and let my back stretch out a little. Changed socks, geared up, got up, and was back walking by 1130.
Ooof! Too much lunch!

Even slow and sludgy on a postprandial carbohydrate rush I managed to get caught up with someone I’d been wanting to talk to for two years. There’s a guy that walks the Seattle 3 Day with bright pink dyed hair, wearing a UtiliKilt and knee high, as it turns out, pole climbing boots (minus the spikes). He also carries all his gear with him in a large backpack regardless of the gear trucks being willing and able to carry it for him (weirdo). I’ve only ever known him as UtiliKilt guy, but his name is William and he is walking in honor of his wife. We talked for a while about his somewhat unorthodox choice of foot gear and the odd looks one is likely to get power walking in odd dress through somewhat conservative neighborhoods. William lives in Seattle but does most of his training in Bellevue and Redmond and I can just imagine the looks he gets wandering through Bellevue in a UtiliKilt to say nothing of those boots. I’m surprised he hasn’t been arrested or at least harassed by the Bellevue constabulary.
Dang I was making good time.
I powered past William after a while and spent a lot of time gawking at the gorgeous mansions along Seward Park Drive. There was one in particular that I’m sorry I didn’t get photos of. Gated drive with the obligatory stone lions guarding the gate posts, huge manicured sweeping lawns with, no shit, a statuary garden. Gigantic replica of Michaelangelo’s David, the Venus De Milo, stone elephants, the works. I never thought things like that were real life! I was convinced they were entirely the construct of romance novel authors.
Seward Park Drive eventually intersected with Rainier Avenue where we turned south. Seward Park Drive was a charming place to walk. Rainier Avenue wasn’t so much. It was 1300 or so by that time, it was getting hot and the breeze off the lake was blocked by all the mega-mansions along the east side. Lots of traffic, gritty. Pretty on the east side, pretty depressing along the west side. Dodging sidewalk parked vehicles, garbage and recycling cans. And hot.

It was about at mile 14 that my knee started to hurt. I was still making really good time, passing a lot of people (I just thought they were walking slow, but as it turns out I was walking FAST). Stepping down off of curbs with my left leg started to be moderately uncomfortable so I started using the easement ramps which helped some. So did stopping at the pit stop at mile 15 and eating my snack, drinking, and stretching very, very carefully. By the time I was leaving the pit stop, that was the first “3 Day Tacky Tours” pit and everyone had to get their 3 Day passport stamped with “PARIS”, my knee was feeling pretty good. Pretty normal in fact.
Which lasted all of about another mile and a half or so when it became acutely obvious even to me in my stupidly enthusiastic state, that SOMETHING was WAY out of order. I was just coming up on the Renton Municipal Airport when I stepped off a curb and my knee went “NOPE! NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE!” and I decided that flagging down a sweep van was probably appropriate.
I was really quite disappointed at having to be swept. I had hoped to walk every single step this year so I was pretty sad to have to grab the van, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to go much of anywhere without some help. And then I met the inhabitants of the “18 Hour Lift and Support” van and I was a lot more cheerful.
Sweep vans are manned by two people. You have your driver and then you have your navigator cum spotter who hangs out the window shouting and looking for people who need a sweep van. It is obvious that during crew training they emphasize to the sweep crews that people who flag down the vans are likely to be a little disappointed to have to be swept, so the sweep crews try to make it somewhat less of a disappointment. Case in point. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van was crewed by one middle aged stumpy woman from Minnesota who was the driver, and an older leathery woman from Redmond who spent the weekend wearing a gigantic pair of sunglasses and a straw hat with a bright pink bra pinned to the crown. You signal the van, they pull some truly astonishing and doubtless illegal manouvers to get to you and out hops this pink and blond vision with a step stool to escort you into the van. The outside of the van (by the way, all the sweep vans are rented locally for each event. I can’t IMAGINE some of the odd detritus that ends up getting cleaned out of these vans by mystified rental van monkeys after each of these things.) is decked out in a long string of lacy bras with additional bras flying from the side mirrors and the antenna. To each of the passenger side windows is taped a lace encircled pink paper plate which are connected to the roof with “straps” of pink crepe paper. You step inside the van and pinned to the ceiling are a large variety of lacy bras.
I found my seat and was immediately handed a squishy pink foam ribbon –you know all those crossed ribbons that are so popular to show which cause you support — yeah, translate one of those into 3D squishy foam and that’s what I was handed.
“Do you need some water? Do you need some candy? Turn on those vents in the ceiling, those are the AC vents! Are you okay? Next stop is Pit 5, did someone give you a ribbon?” Bouncy music and a hoard (okay eight) other people who needed to be swept. Everyone in pretty good spirits, two husbands and two wives obviously familiar with the sweep crew, giving them shit and getting it right back and then the traffic STOPPED. It was a good thing I didn’t need a potty stop, because driving along the south end of Rainier Ave. on a Friday afternoon you tend to go sssslllloooowwwwwllllyyyy!. To the point where the navigator was sticking her head out the window and having actual conversations with the passing walkers (yes, they were passing us).
That was the first time that someone pointed out Doreen and K.C. to me. He was wearing a shirt that read across the back “SHE WALKED 23.5 MILES TO THE WEDDING” and she had a frilly piece of bridal veil pinned to the back of her waist pack. They were also being tailed by someone in a PC Cruiser that was all decked out in pink and frills with “K.C. AND D.C. SEPTEMBER 7TH, 2007 WALKING TOGETHER FOREVER”. Yes, they walked all day, they got into camp, they ate, showered, changed, and were married. I was sorry to miss the wedding (everyone in camp was invited), but once I got home I went down and wasn’t going to get back up again. After they’d exchanged their vows and the minister said “You may kiss the bride.” he dropped to his knees and started massaging her feet. Apparently there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
But I was in the sweep van and we were creeping along Rainier Avenue to FINALLY make the turn on to Grady Way. The traffic was a little (not much) better. I wanted to be let off at the cheering station at mile 19, but the vans aren’t allowed to discharge people at anything other than a pit stop so they at least let me squish in to one of the seats in front so I could see whether or not there were any people there cheering for me. There weren’t but it was still fun to be a moving road block along Grady Way so I could check. At one point the traffic had stopped and there was a guy a car length behind us on the left who was so stunned at the sight of the van that he neglected to start driving again when the light changed. His mouth was actually hanging open!
We missed the driveway into the Denny’s parking lot that was hosting the last pit stop so we had to make a right just past it and pull a u-turn across a double yellow line so the sweep van could let us out. I gimped across the intersection and right up into the medical tent. There fortunately wasn’t a line so I sat down and said “It hurts, please fix it!”
A passing sadist named May who was remarkably talented with white medical tape poked and prodded, flexed and extended, then made me stand up and walk back and forth so she could see what I’d done. She told me that I’d been walking too fast and that I’d hyperextended my knee and bruised the lateral meniscus. She said that I’d have to keep my knee flexed for the rest of the weekend and ice it when I wasn’t walking. She stood me up with my heel resting on a lift so that my knee was bent, took out a roll of foam wrap and a roll of 2 inch white medical tape and proceeded to turn my left leg into something vaguely resembling a mummy. When she was done I couldn’t extend my knee the whole way, but it didn’t hurt. At least, it didn’t hurt when I was walking on the flat or walking uphill. Downhill was another story, but I wasn’t to learn that until later. Lots of ibuprofen and I was good (or good enough) for the final 3 1/2 miles.

Down past Southcenter then up through Tukwilla. We were essentially following the tracks for the new light rail service that will be open to the airport in another 18 months or so. Since we live close Andrew and I have been following the progress of this project with great anticipation and it was really cool to see it in slow motion and close up. As we crested the top of the hill we crossed Pacific Highway, a major arterial that runs from south of the airport to far into Seattle. Pac Highway is, at least in that area, a local haven for cheap sleazy hotels, tire and body shops, smoke shops, and prostitutes. It’s not the nicest area to be walking through and I was glad for a group of women who were walking slowly, to say nothing of the tough leathery looking dude on the motorcycle with the boobs strapped to the wind screen who was the crossing guard at that intersection. We were waiting for the light and the crossing guard was directing us in stretching which I must say I was not particularly enthusiastic about, when a tow truck pulled up at the light next to us. Out pokes the head of a guy who is the epitome of the term “grease monkey”. Every stereotype that comes to mind when someone uses that phrase was personified from the filthy backwards baseball cap to the stubbly grease stained cheeks, to the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, to the grungy blue coverall with his name on the chest.
“Hey! How long you guys been walking?”
“Oh, about 20 miles!”
“WHOA! Where’d you start?”
“Bellevue Community College at 6:30 this morning!”
“DUDE! GOOD LUCK!”
And then they roared off.
It was odd and wonderfully complimentary to get an honest, an astonished and heartfelt wish from a guy who looked like he hadn’t been impressed by anything any woman in his life had ever done.

So we walked past the airport and just a wee bit west of the airport there was a woman who was off the sidewalk messing with her knee. Any sign of distress and there’s immediately a crowd. Someone handed her an ace bandage, someone else gave her some ibuprofen and since her knee was doing a lot of what my knee was doing (and since I needed someone to walk with who would SLOW ME THE HECK DOWN) I said to her “Gimp buddies?”
She grinned and we fell into step, she limping heavily on her right leg, me on my left.
I walked with Keisha all the way into camp. Underneath what will be the third runway, along some remarkably pretty and extremely noisy wetlands (limp, limp, limp, limp, limp, limp, limp….do you know that walking downhill hurts more than walking up hill?). People passing us asking if we were okay, both of us acknowledging that we’d been better but we’d do, and me speculating wildly about where camp was going to be. We crossed Des Moines Memorial Drive, gimped a little ways up the hill on 156th and we were home.

Keisha headed for the medical tents, I checked in at the camp master station, told them I wasn’t going to be camping and then headed for the cafe where they weren’t serving dinner yet but where I could at least get a couple of peanut butter graham crackers.
I sat, CAREFULLY, in a folding camp chair and called Andrew to come and get me.

Postscript: May the Sadist had told me that I needed to keep my knee flexed for the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t see having to wait twice, or even three times a day at the medical tent for someone to strap my knee up with tape, and I had a very bad experience with white medical tape and skin in 2005 so I thought that getting some sort of neoprene (heh! kneeoprene?) support brace would be a good idea. Andrew showed up and we headed for our local pharmacy. Manhattan Pharmacy is kind of a throwback. It’s small, family owned, and everyone who works there knows everyone in the neighborhood. Its variety store items are reminiscent of those that I purchased obsessively during trips to the Ben Franklin in Eureka Illinois on summer visits to the Illinois family, and I find it a quite pleasant addition to the neighborhood. So in I limp, covered in white medical tape wearing a loud t-shirt, bright pink beads and an ID tag around my neck with stickers on my hat, a pink crocheted arm band, and a rose stuck through my hair. I got a lot of odd looks.

9/14/2007

Now That’s More Like It

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:09 am

A few months ago I made an observation about the seemingly poor implementation of advertiser positioning during the traffic reports on local NPR station KUOW. I opined as to how letting NPR listeners know that their morning traffic report had been brought to them through the kind and conscientious stewardship of World Extreme Cagefighting might not do a lot to sell tickets—or pay-per-view slots, or commemorative severed heads, or whatever World Extreme Cagefighting is selling.

One might think that they actually heard my hue and cry, because WEC no longer sponsors morning traffic reports. In fact, the current sponsor is one with a much more….um….targeted….er….base.

“Support for traffic reports on KUOW is provided by Preparation H Medicated Wipes.”

Too bad FCC edict and common sense prevent them from adding, “….for relief from that other pain in the ass!” 😆

9/11/2007

Food Fright, Part 19

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:16 am

Food Fright, Part 19

Shot this in an end-cap cooler case at the grocery store yesterday.

I have long been known to comment on the fact that so many of the insta-foods—particularly those marketed to children—seem to have colors in place of flavors. Finally, someone has closed the conceptual loop by producing the Crayons® Fruit Juice Drink.

The product’s Web address, http://www.drinkcrayons.com/, would seem to say it all.

Ironically, this product is marketed as a healthier alternative to many kid-oriented fruitish juicoid products: all-natural (for what that’s worth: the USDA is pretty spotty on the use of the term), no high-fructose corn syrup, 30% juice, 90 calories per 8 ounce serving (only 7 calories less than a can of Coke). Not bad. Not great, but not bad. Certainly appreciably less like drinking a real Crayon than would be the case with, say, a bottle of Sunny Delight.

Hmm….upon further reflection, perhaps drinking a CrayonsÂŽ Fruit Juice Drink really is more analogous to ingesting an actual crayon. After all, crayons contain natural ingredients as well (wax, paper), and as many a parent of a toddler will tell you, they can be taken internally with relatively few adverse side effects.

Following this logic, then, drinking something like a Sunny D or a Snapple would be more akin to, say, sucking on a purple Sharpie.

9/9/2007

Day Three Of The Three Day!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:03 pm

Yahoo! Margaret made it, and we’re all damn proud of her. 😀

Here’s the last round of pictures, broken into two sections. This is a mix of Margaret’s pictures from the entire day and ones I shot from high up in the nosebleed seats at Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium, where the closing ceremonies took place.

Day 1

MargaretMargaret
Filed under: @ 7:16 pm

My deepest apologies for those who have been tuning in, especially to those VINners who have been popping in from all over the continent, expecting to see some actual commentatry about this last weekend instead of a series of random and sometimes mystifying photographs. However, due to my occasional predisposition for being an exuberant idiot, I managed to hyperextend my left knee and bruise the lateral meniscus (a chunk of cartilage within your knee joint) on the first day which has meant that I’ve spent the last two evenings with a pillow under and an ice bag on my left knee to avoid being red carded (only allowed to continue walking with medical approval).
That having been said, my knee is actually not particularly uncomfortable. My muscles are sore, my feet are sore, but what actually is the most notable at this immediate moment is the blister on my right little toe which is A. the only blister I have, and B. a doozy. Do you know how many nerve endings are in the sole of your little toe? A LOT, that’s how many.

I would also like to add my sincerest thanks to my chief of support, the love of my life, and mixer of a mean bottle of Praying Mantis Juice. Sweetie I could not have done this without you. A big shout out also goes to my folks who were willing to get up at Dark:O’clock on Friday morning to drive me to BCC and who sat in the sun (granted in what Dad would term a “target rich environment” which means that the people watching was beyond all measure) for a couple of hours on Saturday at the cheering station in Des Moines. Thank you also to Shawn and Anastasia who were also cheering. Matt, brah, I missed seeing you on Saturday, but I hooted and hollared at all the guys in the ambulances who were scouring the route in your honor.

Friday morning started at 0445 with my cell phone alarm going off like the trump of damn doom which is guaranteed to make me surly and hard to start. Having the shower pound me with scalding hot water did help, as well as the pre-walk jitters which got me dressed and through a plate of eggs and toast. How anyone can eat that much breakfast at 0515 is and forever will be beyond me. My metabolism just does not work at that hour of the morning.
I was assigned to tent section “I” which meant that they wanted me at Bellevue Community College between 0545 and 0600. Opening ceremonies were scheduled for 0630.
LOOOONNNNGGG line of traffic outside Landerholm Circle on the BCC campus. Much better (tons better, VOLUMES better) access than what we had at Lake Sammamish State Park in 2005, but when you have 2500 people all converging in one spot between 0500 and 0615 it does take its toll. They were letting cars stop in the curb lane to let people off so long as you could do it “quick and safe”. There was only one of me and I only had a small backpack so I managed to leap fairly quickly and wander off towards the gear trucks. There’s a gas station just outside the main entrance to BCC which was playing host to a huge number of drop offs including a stretch limo out of which leapt five people in bright blue t-shirts and neon pink tights. That got me grinning as did the costumes on the gear monkeys on the “I” gear truck who were wearing some variation of hospital gowns and/or scrubs with large fake boobs strapped to the outside (men and women).

It is a rare and wonderful thing to be a full grown adult and spend the weekend being encouraged and celebrated in making booby jokes.

Dropped off my backpack and went wandering into the crowd. Still dark, but gorgeous and clear. Stars, waning gibbous moon, and a forest of chilly people in neon fluff covered deeley boppers parked along the fence in the walker holding pen just in front of the stage.
Erp?
I asked one of the women in the outlandish headgear what purpose or symbolisim it represented. She grinned and said “Oh nothing really, it just makes our team mates easier to find!”. They were members of the Warming Hut Hotties team and they all wore their deeley boppers, so far as I could tell, at all times except in the shower all weekend. Even their tents had deeley boppers on them.

Standing, waiting, stretching, bouncing. Talking with anyone and everyone. Then it was finally light and the stretching guru got up on stage to lead us in some official stretches. During any of these ceremonies the best fun is to be had watching the ASL translators. During the stretching the ASL translator was a chilly looking blond woman whom I managed to photograph while she was translating the stretch guru explaining about the stretch we were doing. He called that particular stretch “the porta-potty squat” and the photo of the translator taking that from spoken English to pictographic ASL is stunning.

More stretching, and music, and intense longing for a cup of something hot or at least for all of us to be there and the dang ceremony to be over so we could start to walk and get our blood moving. Two local news stations with crews on the ground and a third sent their traffic chopper.
There was a new twist this year. Inside the walker’s holding area there is always a fenced off center aisle with a small stage in the middle. Eight breast cancer survivors are invited to take part in the opening ceremonies and they’re always trotted up on to this center stage to look inspiring while the people on the main stage pontificate. Only this year they were preceeded by an honor guard of twelve walkers, I think all people who have lost family members to breast cancer, each carrying a flag printed with reasons for walking on it. “JOY” and “ANNIVERSARIES” and “BEST FRIENDS” and so forth. The honor guard walked up on to the main stage, the survivors with their eight flags “BELIEF” and “STRENGTH” etc. came up on to their stage and planted the flags. Each of the 20 flags was reproduced in semi-minature (i.e. the traveling flags were only about 3 feet long) and we were told that the flags would walk with us all weekend, ideally to have each walker carry a flag at least once over the next 3 days.
The honor guard took their place lining the opening of the route, the survivors started their walk, the gates opened and we were walking.

And now I’m really tired. Sorry, but I got up at 0500 this morning, walked 16 miles before 1430, and me and my chubby feet have got to be at work ato 0700 tomorrow.
Y’all are just going to have to be patient. I’ll get through the whole weekend eventually.

9/8/2007

Today Is Day Two Of The Three Day

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:20 pm

And here are the pictures to prove it!

9/7/2007

3Day2K7r1

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:42 pm

Or, day one of the 2007 Breast Cancer 3 Day, for those who don’t speak geek.

I’ll leave it to Margaret to blog about the event itself, but I did get a dump of her digital camera, and have made the pictures available here. Enjoy!

Bloggy McBloggington And The Bloglet Of Fire

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:54 am

No, I don’t have any idea what that means.

I’ve been spending a bit of my off time this last few days building and configuring a blog server for my brother-in-law, and it got me wishing that I had the sack to start the process of building and configuring my own server all over again. If I did, I’d do it on a Mac.

Matt’s server is an old (as in ooooooolllllllld, like, 1999 old) Power Macintosh G3 Blue & White, aka “Yosemite”. I had a couple of these things just sitting around after they were put out to pasture from their jobs as fax servers in the office. We still have one acting as a time clock/NAS box. The Revision 2 Yosemite is just about the most perfect Mac ever made. Rev 1’s had problems with their onboard ATA, but even that could be worked around with the addition of a PCI controller card. These things simply will not die (even as I type this, I bet the solder on some vital internal connector in Matt’s server-so-be is starting to crack, waiting only until he gets it home and plugged in to finally and irretrievably fail). Due to their piss-elegant design, there is so much air space inside them that they stay cool under just about any circumstances. They use industry-standard components for nearly everything (except the power supply; if replacing the G3’s PSU with a standard ATX unit you need to clip a single wire before plugging it into the ATX connector on the board, otherwise bzzt!). They’re made with the quality of construction that was key to Apple’s success at the dawn of the new century. (It seems to me that Apple is pulling slightly ahead of it’s own reasonable expectations for compactness and speed with things like the flat-panel iMacs. It’s just monstrously difficult to build stuff that tightly-packed and have it work as well as you would expect. Apple’s recent rates of unit failure would seem to back me up on this.) And thanks to OS X, Macs can handle a wide variety of low-cost PC hardware right out of the box—gone are the days of “Mac Edition” peripherals that cost 50% more than their PC counterparts. The main exception is video cards, though you can flash most ATi video cards with Apple ROMs, if you have the time and the skill….or you can buy them pre-flashed on eBay for about the same price as the PC versions.

I stuffed 512 megs of PC133 memory and an 80 gig ATA drive I had sitting around  into the thing, along with a Mac-ROM-flashed Radeon 7000 video card and a 10/100 PCI card, and loaded it up with OS 10.4 from a “family-pack” DVD I had bought a year or so ago. (Installable on up to five computers….legally. Realistically there’s no limit to the number of computers you could install it on, because Apple makes their money selling hardware instead of operating systems. If you buy their hardware, they’ll pretty much let you install any copy of their operating system that you like. Unlike Microsoft, which is a seller of operating systems and is therefore denied a sale every time someone installs a single copy of their OS on more than one machine, and who as a result makes it as difficult as practical to do so.) OS X comes with a full suite of Web-ready applications and shims built right in; Apache for Web serving, CGI, PHP, Perl, Python, all there just waiting to be enabled and tweaked. Installing and configuring MySQL for OS X requires only a little technical expertise, and there is a universe of tutorials out there for those who need help (like me!). OS X also has the IPFW firewall and Snort built in, only waiting for a few lines in config files or the introduction of a few free software front-ends to make them spring to life. A few hours later I had a stable, reasonably-well-protected, robust if pokey blog server, complete with a Web stats generator and a handy widget that lets me see who’s connected in real-time. All for the cost of a bunch of technology you could hardly give away at this point.

I ran my own blog on an OS X machine for a long time—actually a series of OS X machines, including half a PowerBook G3—but I had never run an IIS server before and wanted to give it a try. I also wanted to run several major functions simultaneously—a Web server, a security camera server and an Unreal Tournament server—and the spare Apple hardware I had lying around just wasn’t up to the task. For about 400 bucks I was able to put together a Windows machine that….barely….handles all of these tasks at the same time. A comparable Mac (comparable in functionality, not necessarily in raw horsepower, though there’s an argument to be made there as well) would have probably run me closer to six or seven, used.

I have to admit, IIS is extremely easy to set up. Microsoft has made the configuration and administration of an IIS Web or FTP site quite simple. Unlike Apache, which is largely configured via the command line or through the editing of text-based config files, the IIS Administration Console does it in a graphical user interface, with step-by-step instructions and prompts. There are free- and shareware programs available for OS X that provide a graphical front end for Apache, but one has to know they exist and go looking for them; IIS has it right out of the box.

Offsetting this simplicity is the basic vulnerability of Windows (XP, my case) to a number of forms of attack. Any server running under any operating system is vulnerable to one extent or another, particularly a server running a scripting language such as PHP, the brainstem of the common blog. But the number of potential exploits for an unprotected Windows machine is far greater than for an unprotected Mac. That being said, I don’t run any computer attached to the Internet without some form of protection. But with my Windows box, unless I want to learn how to write my own custom DLLs, the security I use must be robust and continuously updated….that is to say, a commercial product. On the Mac, a combination of freeware tools, a basic knowledge of firewall configuration, and the one-two punch of security/obscurity enjoyed by the Mac platform serve to protect me from the majority of attacks. That is certainly not to say that an experienced hacker could not get into a Mac so protected with relative ease; the point is, why would they? I’m only worried about the script kiddies out there. The Ăźbergeeks I know who could easily pull off such a caper would have no incentive whatsoever to do so (I try to bake them fresh banana nut muffins on a regular basis to keep on their good sides), and the anonymous penetration pros out there in the Intertubes have much bigger fish to fry than one lowly wiseass shouting from the corner of his yard.

Now that I have played around with both IIS and Apache, I think I would rather run an Apache server. There’s just something satisfying about hammering away at the brainstem of a Web server via text files and getting it just so. Of course, I could always run Apache on my Windows box, but I would still need all the extra medicine needed to keep a Windows machine protected. OS X is the obvious alternative, but I could easily do it under another *nix distribution such as Ubuntu. I’ve put together a couple of Ubuntu machines lately—including one on another Yosemite G3 I had lying around—and I must say, it runs like a top on an older machine. But I’m afraid that I’m just too lazy at this point to make such a sweeping change in my server environment, when things are running so relatively smoothly. I think I’ll wait until the inevitable catastrophic failure before making any major changes. Way my summer’s been going, that ought to be any day now. 😉

9/5/2007

Thanks, I Think I’ve Had My Fill

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:59 pm

I was putting together a curry for tomorrow’s dinner this evening (chicken coconut lime, mmm mm) and listening to the BBC World Service on NPR. They were quite abuzz over the imminent announcement of Fred Thompson’s run for the Presidency. The reporter covering the story referred to him as, “the next Reagan”.

“Oh God, not another one!” I screamed at the radio. “We’re still paying off the tab run up by the last Reagan!”

Our Vietnamese neighbor was out on his back deck and obviously heard me through the open window; he kind of jumped a little. If you happen to run across this post, Chin, sorry about that!


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