Food Fright, Part 21

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:43 pm

I was twigged to this particular Food Fright by my lovely wife, who spotted it at the QFC a few days previous:

Food Fright, Part 21

Yes, you read it right: Bacon Salt™. When your creme brulee simply doesn’t taste sufficiently bacony.

Now it must be said that, as an avowed carnivore, I have no quarrel with the concept of bacon in general, nor bacon-flavored seasoning in particular. If creators Justin and Dave manage to make a living off of this product, more nitrites to ’em. The mere existence of this product doth not a Food Fright make.

No, the only real stumbling block for me can be found on the display rack pictured above, around the end of the first line of text under the logo: “vegetarian“.

To begin with, while a cursory Web search was unable to confirm this, I can only assume that the chief flavoring agent is something incredibly, overwhelmingly artificial, something inherently non-bacony in origin. After all, if the creators could have made this product from ingredients that would allow them to include the phrase “all natural”, don’t you think they would have? (Amusing side note: Proving once again that the science of sponsored search-query-driven advertising is still in its infancy, check out the ad I got back when doing a search for “artificial flavor bacon”.)

Secondly, while this may be excessively vindictive, there is some part of me that wants very much to deny those who spurn meat the ersatz trappings of a carnivorous/omnivorous diet. It seems somehow unfair that vegetarians should be given the opportunity to sup at the banquet of flesh rent asunder without getting blood on their hands. After all, I’m not scrambling to add artificial quinoa essence to my hot dogs, so why should my herbivorous brethren—these dietary dilettantes—be free to avail themselves of my kind’s dead-animaly goodness? As my brother-in-law once said, “vegetarians eating fake meat is like monks having sex with blow-up love dolls”. (Ironically, he has since gone veg, and is known to bring soy bratwurst to our barbecues, which I do my best to rub up against a burger or two whilst grilling.)

But beyond these arguments is a simple, axiomatic principle: I’m sorry, but much like alcohol-free beer, meat-free bacon flavoring is a crime against Nature, a perversion of the basic underlying principles of the Universe. In fact, I’m fairly sure that it is one of the signs of the Apocalypse. For is it not foretold in the Book of Revelation:

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the bacon became as broccoli.


A Favor For A Friend

Filed under: @ 5:10 pm

A little over a year ago (January 24th, 2007 in fact) one of my VIN buddies came to work to find that an employee had been raped and murdered in his hospital before opening.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a “VIN buddy” is a veterinary colleague with whom I correspond on a fairly regular basis, there are hundreds of people that I “know” across the country and across the world this way, on the Veterinary Information Network.

Andrea was the opener for Michal’s hospital that day. She was in the building alone at 0530 when someone broke in, raped her and then stabbed her to death.
Michal’s hospital is in a fairly nice section of a quiet city in Florida. The suspect, who was arrested within a fairly short period of time, was a multiple offender who had been granted early release from prison on a previous rape charge. He is currently awaiting trial for first-degree murder. It is not clear at this time where or how he picked Andrea, nor how he managed to follow her without her noticing.

On this first anniversary of Andrea’s death many in the VIN community are lighting candles in her memory.
This is, and has been, a shocking thing to us. Despite the loonies that we deal with on a fairly regular basis, despite veterinary hospitals being targeted for break ins for drug theft, Andrea’s murder was personal for all of us. Local tweakers breaking in to steal ketamine is one thing. Having a friend’s employee left to die on the floor of his hospital was something we never thought we’d have to even contemplate.
Reading what details Michal has been able to provide over the last year we have all thought of our own safety, the security measures that are present for our buildings and our coworkers and staff and what measures we can take to provide just a little extra safety for everyone. If anything good can come from Andrea’s death it is that thousands of people around the world took a step back to consider the safety of their workplace and, hopefully, implemented changes to improve it.

It’s a scary world out there sometimes people. Please be careful of your family, your friends, and yourselves.

Michal this is for you, your staff, and Andrea and her family.

Andrea’s Candle


Hot Tub Hummingbirds

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 6:34 pm

Okay, so they’re not really in the hot tub, but you get the point. Hey, at least I didn’t entitle the post “Hot Tub Hummer”. Ooo, can’t wait to see the searches I catch in my referrer log now…. 😆

Based on a suggestion from Shawn, we recently moved our two hummingbird feeders in from their habitual spots on the outer edge of the grape arbor we built over our hot tub. They are now hanging under the roof of the arbor, suspended from some of the hardier grape vines. This helps to protect them from the near-perpetual drizzle of Winter while simultaneously obviating the need for some sort of rain-umbrella arrangement, which tends to get semi-airborne during the occasional high wind.

Contrary to my fears, the greater proximity to the hot tub (and the attendant humans poaching themselves therein) has not fazed the hummers in the least. In fact, they seem to have easily incorporated us tubbers into their internal geographic lexicon of acceptable terrain elements without a hitch. I believe that this is because they simply cannot conceive of anything as glacially slow as a human as representing an actual threat. Like an inanimate pile of boulders, so long as they keep their eye out for the occasional avalanche, we present no perceptible hazard. It’s not true, of course, but the hummingbirds can be excused for not recognizing the dangers represented by global climate change, gray water runoff and industrial pollutants. After all, they gots a brain the size of a poppyseed.

Se we’ve been seeing a lot of the little buggers over the winter. The primary hummingbird for this area is the Anna’s, a medium-sized hummer in a nice tasteful shade of jade green.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s are notoriously territorial, and will often spend more time chasing other Anna’s (“Anna’ss”? Plural for more than one Anna’s? Whatever) away from the feeders than they do actually drinking from them, which strikes me as counterproductive, but whatever, it’s not my problem. It’s tremendous fun to watch them zipping in and out of the arbor, landing, drinking, flitting back and forth between the two feeders and driving away competitors in a dizzying three-dimensional ballet of aerial thrust, parry and dodge. Good fun for all involved.

Margaret and I were watching the Anna’s this morning when it struck me to wonder just how the species managed to survive the Washington winters before the arrival of humans and their bottles of sugar water. Many species of hummingbirds migrate during the cold months, but here in the Puget Sound area the Anna’s seem to hang out year ’round. While we’re certainly no frozen tundra, it can get pretty cold from November through March (nights are in the twenties right now), and there’s certainly no abundance of flowers from which to draw their sustenance.

As it turns out, these particular hummers don’t usually migrate per se; that is, they don’t travel long distances to a separate habitat when the temperatures plunge. Rather, the Anna’s Hummingbird travels only as far as is needed to find comfortable climate and a consistent food supply. In fact, according to BirdWeb, the Anna’s are a fairly recent emigrant to Washington, having followed the wave of newly-erected hummingbird feeders up from their native stomping (can something that weighs in at maybe an ounce soaking wet even manage a “stomp”?) grounds in California, all the way up into British Columbia. Human beings have influenced the dispersal of this species, not through habitat destruction as is our wont, but by providing a surfeit of readily accessible food.

As a Liberal White Guy living in an industrialized nation, I should probably feel guilty about this massive disruption of the normal life cycle of the Anna’s Hummingbird, but I can’t bring myself to do so. I enjoy their presence at our feeders too much. And the hummers seem all for it. Maybe I can assuage my conscience with a check to the World Wildlife Fund or something. And an extra bottle of sugar water. 😉


Dear Second Look Project….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:51 am

Dear Second Look Project,

On this, the 35th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, I wanted to take a moment to let you know how affected I was by your “Heartbeat” ad, recently aired on my local progressive Talk Radio station, KPTK Seattle.

I’m not normally the kind of person who makes decisions based on a radio campaign, but your message—and in particular, the place you chose to air it—stirred me to action.

As a result, I am sending out two checks today: one to Planned Parenthood of Western Washington, and another to the National Abortion Rights Action League. Furthermore, I am exhorting all of my friends, relatives and coworkers to do the same.

Thanks so much for helping to galvanize my convictions and inspire me to become part of the solution. Keep up the good work!

Warmest Regards,


“The degradation of women functions in every aspect of society
Politics, education, business—
Women’s reproductive rights are no man’s business
The myth of Man protecting life is a bunch of shit. History will verify this
It takes a nation of men to hold you back so take control”

Love, Honor and Respect
from the album The Myth of Rock


Lordy, Lordy….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:08 am

….tomorrow I turn forty.

I plan to spend the day stuffing my face with all the sorts of goodies I normally deny myself, then top it off with a huge round of take-away sushi and maybe the first few discs of the remastered Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Edition box set.

In point of fact, this “milestone” means little to me. I certainly don’t feel any more mature….more like a big, creaky, slow-witted teenager. I feel better now, physically, than I have in a few years, which is nice. I am of course in much worse shape than I was in my twenties, but I don’t feel particularly bad about it. I mean, I’ve had some serious debilitating physical problems over the last ten years or so, and my job has become more and more sedentary over that same time period, so some incipient decrepitude was certain to set in.

Emotionally I’ve never been happier. This is not as glowing a review as it might seem on the surface: until I started hanging out with Margaret I was a horribly depressed and sometimes unstable individual. But better is better—hell, better is much better—and the truth is, I wouldn’t trade my life right now for anything.

So, forty it is. Yee-haw, pass the Metamucil, and you kids get off my damn lawn. 😡

I really only brought up the subject because I’ve received a number of birthday cards in the mail from family members (thanks everyone!). They were all very cute, and very much appreciated.

But my hands-down favorite one came, not from a friend or family member, but from an organization:


I can’t decide whether this is just a mistake, a joke on the part of some anonymous AARP envelope-stuffer (or more likely, some anonymous data miner for a direct-mail company in the employ of the AARP. In fact, that’s just how I would amuse myself during slow periods, were I in the employ of such an agency), or an honest attempt to sucker me into becoming a dues-paying “member” ten years before I am actually eligible.

Whatever the answer, I’m seriously tempted to take this as a Sign and send in the membership form. My feeling is that it’s never too early to get started on codgerdom. 😉


You May Run Across This Yourself

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:39 pm

I meant to post about this earlier but I was first derailed by three weeks of “Hawaii Time” laziness and then by the death of our last cat. This happened to me while waiting for our flight out to Hawaii at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in December.

As I am wont to do when I am bored or otherwise unoccupied, I used the wireless card in my phone to stumble for WiFi, seeing if there were any free services available amongst the usurious pay-for-play wireless networks typically available in airports around the world. Usually there aren’t—the for-profit companies tend to have a serious lock on the market, and few municipal airport systems have felt the need to provide this service free of charge for their overbooked, overstressed, sometimes overnight customer base—but it’s always worth a shot. Heck, later in our vacation I was able to while away a lengthy stay at the Kona Airport surfing the Web via Aloha Airlines‘ complimentary WiFi network….I’ve been meaning to drop them a nice little note about that.

Anyway, I fired up my favorite little Windows Mobile wireless stumbler, and there, amongst the encrypted Port of Seattle private networks and the public-but-pricey commercial service providers, was an SSID called “Free Public Wifi”. Interesting! Only things weren’t exactly kosher with ol’ Mister Free Public WiFi; it was an ad-hoc, or peer-to-peer network. Ad-hoc networks are generated by a single computer; by contrast, the more common infrastructure networks are generated by a wireless access point. Unlike infrastructure networks, ad-hoc networks generally do not connect to the Internet or to any other place except the computer that it generating the signal. They are typically used to exchange files between two or more computers. And while there may be reasons for an individual with a WiFi-enabled computer to have created an ad-hoc network—even at the airport—there is basically no legitimate reason for said individual to give this network a name implying a service that is not in fact being offered.

So an ad-hoc network bearing the name “Free Public Wifi” would seem contradictory at best, duplicitous and potentially criminal at worst. The most obvious explanation as to its existence was that some unscrupulous individual was broadcasting the SSID in an attempt to get feckless Internet-seekers to attach to it, at which point (s)he would attempt to browse their hard drive, analyze their network traffic or install malicious software on the victims’ machines. It is even possible—easy, really—to set up a system by which users connecting to the ad-hoc network actually can use it to get out onto the Internet, but every packet sent from their computers is captured and analyzed for useful data; email passwords, credit card numbers, etc. (By the way, this sort of packet sniffing is also easily performed on regular old infrastructure networks. Unless you are visiting a secure Web site [one whose address beings with “https” instead of just “http”] or are using an encrypted VPN tunnel [here’s a hint: if you don’t know whether you are using an encrypted VPN tunnel, then you’re not], you are best off not using public WiFi for any task more potentially sensitive than, say, checking out the adorable critters at Cute Overload).

I mentioned the ad-hoc network and my theory about it to Margaret, snorted in a “people these days!”-like fashion to no one in particular, and dragged out a book to read instead.

It was only after we got back from vacation that I thought to Google the network name and came back with an alternate explanation for “Free Public Wifi”. It turns out that both Windows 2000 and Windows XP have an interesting quirk: if a wireless-enabled Win2K or WinXP computer fails to find a wireless network to join upon powering up, they are set by default to rebroadcast the SSID of the last wireless network to which they were attached, only in ad-hoc mode. This is a major security flaw in Windows (Macs do not do this, by the way), and has been discussed ad nauseum on the Web. There are a number of workarounds, should you need one. I pulled these off of nmrc.org:


Until Microsoft releases Service Packs for the affected platforms, use one of
the following three workarounds:

Workaround #1:

Disable wireless when not in use. Simple, eh?

Workaround #2:

Use an alternate Wireless Client Manager, (e.g. for an integrated Intel Wifi
connector, use Intel PROSet/Wireless) as all others tested do not seem to
have the problem (this testing was not all-inclusive).

Workaround #3 (recommended):

1. Click on the Wireless option in the System Tray and open the Wireless
Network Connection window.
2. Click on “Change advanced settings”.
3. In the Wireless Network Connection Properties window, click on the Wireless
Networks tab.
4. Click on the Advanced button.
5. Click on “Access point (infrastructure) networks only”

This workaround prevents you from connecting to any ad-hoc network in the
first place.

The part of it that I found to amusing was the “viral” nature of the bug. Here’s the basics: laptop user A connects to an infrastructure WiFi network called “Free Public Wifi”, at a coffee shop or a municipal wireless hotspot or wherever. A few minutes/hours later he signs off. The next time he opens his laptop up, there’s no available wireless, so laptop A instead begins broadcasting an ad-hoc network called “Free Public Wifi”. Laptop user B sees the SSID and connects to it, only to find that she can’t get on the Internet via “Free Public Wifi”, and signs off. Then the next time laptop user B opens up her laptop, laptop B begins broadcasting the “Free Public Wifi” ad-hoc network. Laptop users C and D connect to it, give up, sign off, and then pass the SSID on to laptop users E through H, who pass it along to I through Q, who then pass it on to R through M4, and so on.

Security questions aside, I find this tableau fascinating. At some point, there had to be a Patient Zero, the first laptop to fail to reconnect to “Free Public Wifi”, then begin to rebroadcast the SSID in ad-hoc mode, passing the torch to others. There must be hundreds or thousands—or tens of thousands—of PC laptops out there propagating this network. Just as fascinating, there must be instances when ten or twenty “infected” laptops are congregated in the same place, all rebroadcasting or rejoining the same useless ad-hoc network, commingling in a raucous orgy of futile and potentially disastrous packet exchange.

All of this should serve as a reminder: be aware of what you are doing with your computer, and what your computer is doing on its own.



Filed under: @ 5:55 pm

Since the sunshine on our sheet-less bed brought me to tears just now, I thought the time was finally appropriate to write my tribute.

Master Scrum Archie Tweedletrousers The Futon Torpedo.
snake cage Scrum

Scrum was the smaller, the skinnier, and the sicker of the two kittens that we adopted from the Moscow Animal Shelter in July 1991. It is a statistical probability that kittens that end up in animal shelters will end up with upper respiratory infections and Scrum had it in spades.
At the time we were heating Chuck’s cage with a heat lamp that shone into the tank. There was a small ledge, just large enough, in fact, to support two sniffly kittens, between the edge of the table and the front of the tank. Scrum discovered that sitting on this ledge was the ideal way to make the most of the extra heat that the lamp was throwing off. Scrum and his brother spent a lot of time there, I distinctly remember cleaning kitten sneezes off of the front of the snake cage, and Chuck spent three days trying to figure out how to get out and munch the furry little yummies that were so conveniently presenting themselves. After one of them moved injudiciously while Chuck was in hunt mode and he struck at the glass (and we subsequently spent several hours trying to coax them out from underneath the bed……after we finished laughing) they decided that sleeping in front of the snake cage was probably a pretty bad idea. An idea that they didn’t revisit for another 3-4 years when they were finally aware of the fact that they were much larger than the snake and he wasn’t much of a threat.

But Scrum was always the more seriously endothermic of the two.
From sleeping directly in the path of the fan behind our wood stove in Pullman or, as we found one one harrowing occasion, directly under it woodstove cats
(I would like you to note that both cats are featured in this photo, it just doesn’t look much like it),

to being a dedicated lap snuggler recliner margaret Scrum
(something that few, if any, of you will have seen)
to being absolutely passionate about a fleece snuggle sack that Andrew gave me for Christmas one year, if Scrum was hot he was happy. Except that he was never much of an under the blanket cuddler. Where Scamper would happily worm his way under the covers and spend hours at a time breathing blissful hot kitty purrs into your armpit, Scrum only wanted to be hot if he could be unrestrained.

Which says a lot about his other personality quirks as well. Scrum was high strung, pig headed, and far more intelligent than his brother. Where Scamper was an easygoing laid back sort of cat, Scrum was insatiably curious. Passionately curious. Determinedly curious. And if he couldn’t get his curiosity satisfied he would sit back and THINK of a way to figure out how to satisfy the question of the day.
What’s behind the sliding doors of the closet? Let’s spend some time figuring out how to open the doors to get in there.
And so he figured out how to open closet doors and subsequently took the habit of sleeping in the closet, playing in the closet (one of the reasons we hung trousers folded in half for many years) and teaching his brother how to hide in the closet and mug people who were opening the doors.
Scrum progressed from closet opening to cabinet opening. When he figured out how to open the cat food cupboard, and thus encouraged his brother to get into said cupboard and open the 5 pound coffee can where we kept the dry cat food to the great detriment of our carpet, we put child proof locks on all the cabinet doors. We had to keep our kitchen cabinets child proofed until we moved into our current home in July of 2001 (well after Scrum’s 10th birthday). When his cabinet opening was frustrated Scrum moved on to opening drawers.
Of the 23 dresser drawers that are currently in our bedroom, NONE of them are minus a few claw marks. Scrum didn’t open drawers to pull things out of them and throw them around and he only rarely opened drawers to crawl in and sleep on the wonderful soft things inside…… Although he did once. After we got our current bed with the storage drawers underneath I started keeping extra blankets in one of the drawers. I came into the bedroom one afternoon to find the drawer with the blankets opened up. I sighed, pushed it closed with my foot, and didn’t miss the cat for hours. We all spent a harrowing half hour or so tearing the house apart and wandering around outside with flashlights calling the cat until I remembered that the blanket drawer had been open and went back to find Scrum comfortably asleep in a blanket nest.
No, making a mess was not Scrum’s primary reason for opening things. Scrum just wanted things open because he couldn’t stand not knowing what was inside.

Scrum was also by far one of the more height oriented cats I’ve ever known. Scrum wanted to catch the ceiling fan in the front room of our mobile home in Pullman. So he worked his way to the TOP of the front door where he stood for I don’t know how long on three legs taking swipes with one front foot at the blades of the fan as they swung past.
door fan Scrum
Scrum wanted to know what was on the top of the curtain rod in the living room of our house in Olympia. So he got up there (without, I will add, climbing the curtains) to see.
scrum on the curtain rod 1994
And the day that I caught him standing on the edge or our bed looking into the open closet trying to figure out how to get up on to the top shelf I did take pity on him and lift him up. I’m not sure if that was pity or practicality though. Knowing how his mind worked I could just see him spending a couple of days trying to get up there trashing the clothes in the closet and likely knocking the closet rod down in the same jump. Lifting him and letting him wander around on the shelf was a lot easier.
Since the day we purchased it Scrum had a passion for finding out what was on top of the oak bookshelf that is in our living room. Because of its placement in our various homes, he never did get a chance to get up there. I picked up his ashes the other day and, pending his funeral later this spring, put them on top of that bookshelf. I hope he’s happy up there.

Scamp and Scrum both had about the widest vocabulary of vocalizations that I’ve run across in any cat. I heard Scrum meow an actual meow twice in almost seventeen years. Scrum chirruped, he chattered, he had a vocalization that I can’t define as anything other than the onomatopoeic “gickle”. But never (okay, almost never) “meow”. I’ve found that cats that belong to people who talk to them have a larger vocabulary than cats who belong to people who don’t interact with their cats much.

I can’t forget to mention the troll either.
In addition to catnip pillows and the pull tabs around the lids of plastic milk jugs, Scrum’s lifelong favorite toy was always a troll doll.
When we moved into our house in Pullman Naara, for some reason that I can’t currently recall, gave us a troll doll refrigerator magnet. We put the magnet on the refrigerator and paid it about as much attention as one does any other refrigerator magnet. Which is to say that it left our conscious ken until I found it on the floor of the kitchen. Thinking that the magnet had been too weak to hold it on, I picked it up and put it back on the refrigerator. And found it, soggy, on the floor some hours later.
Put it back on the refrigerator and turned back to my studying only to hear a thump and skitter. As anyone who has had young cats knows, thump and skitter are ominous noises. I went out into the kitchen and found Scrum with the troll hanging by the hair from his mouth.
Took the troll from the cat scolding him letting him know that it was, by God, my troll and it wasn’t for him to play with. Put it as high up on the refrigerator door as was possible thinking that would fox him. Nope.
Half an hour went by before he figured out where it was and how to get there.
Because he was eviscerating the troll by holding it down with one front foot and pulling its hair out, visions of multicolored hairballs prompted me to take the thing away from him completely and put it on top of the mirror in the master bathroom. Now because of various vagaries of living in a mobile home, the door to the master bathroom was kept closed all the time and it was also rather difficult to open. The doorknob was useless and you had to push against it fairly hard before the door would swing open. We usually kept our bedroom shut during the day when we were out so really the only time the cats had access to our bedroom and, more importantly, the bathroom, was for a short period in the evening when we were getting ready for bed. It took Scrum two weeks to figure out where the troll was. One Saturday morning we were lazing around in bed, heard a squeak and a double thump and looked up to find Scrum, troll in mouth, trundling across the bedroom.
Which is when the troll refrigerator magnet started living in a junk drawer in our bathroom.
Fast forward some months. We had been away for the summer during which time the troll had been languishing in the drawer in the bathroom. We got back, got unpacked and got the house cleaned up. I found the troll in its drawer and figuring that Scrum had forgotten it, put it back up on top of the mirror.
Nine days. It took him NINE DAYS to realize where it was. In the middle of the night there’s a squeak, there’s a double thump, and here comes Scrum across the bedroom floor with his prize.
It was at that point that I gave up, went into town, and bought the little demon a troll of his own. Since Scamper had taken a passion for Andrew’s stuffed gorilla I bought him a stuffed poodle with similar fur to the gorilla (couldn’t find a similar gorilla). I put the troll in front of Scrum, the poodle in front of Scamper and stood back to watch.
Scamp looked at his poodle, looked at the troll (at which Scrum was goggling in astonishment), then abandoned the poodle and stole the troll.
Take a break to restore the correct toy to the correct cat and stand back to watch again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
I finally threw up my arms and went BACK into town to purchase a second troll doll so they could each have one of their own.
Scrum wasn’t much interested in toys as he got older, but be would always take a swipe or two at a troll. And for the record, ingesting large amounts of synthetic troll doll hair doesn’t seem to affect cats’ digestion much.

Scrum was, in every way, my cat. He was very routine oriented. In his later years he would start to gickle at us at around 9 p.m. letting us know that regardless of whatever else we were doing, it was bedtime for the cat. Because we lived in a mobile home in a wheat field five miles outside the middle of nowhere (er…. Pullman) when they were young, Scrum never really socialized to anyone but family. Where Scamp could be convinced to accept attention from other people, Scrum only started hitting Andrew up for attention after Scamper died and he NEVER sat on anyone’s lap but mine. Ever since he was a kitten whenever I sat down on the sofa I would put a pillow on my lap (still do). Not, as I was once asked, because I was having menstrual cramps, not because I was chilly, but because I expect a cat to come and wump down on my lap and ask to have his tummy tweedled.
Gickle, tweedletrousers, wumpling, Gnocci (the potato wumpling), Kitten, baby cat, Archie, KNOCKITOFF, Thing One.
Scrum was a challenge, a frustration, and a delight.
scrum in the sunshine on the bed

I will miss him the length of my days.
scrumtoesscrum paw


More Fun Than A Barrel Of 50 Inch Plasma Monkeys

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:25 am

Saw this on Fark today.

What happens when you combine the Consumer Electronics Show, a bunch of TV-B-Gone’s, and a camcorder? Why, hilarity, that’s what!

Almost Jackson Pollocked my monitor with coffee while watching the video. 😆


Oh, Heck, Why Not….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:57 am

What’s one more useless poll among friends? Particularly at this point in time….

Saw this quiz on YakBoy’s blog, and I figured I ought to throw my hat into the ring:

My results for the gotoquiz.com Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

87% John Edwards
85% Hillary Clinton
85% Barack Obama
84% Mike Gravel
84% Chris Dodd
83% Dennis Kucinich
78% Joe Biden
76% Bill Richardson
40% Rudy Giuliani
26% John McCain
24% Tom Tancredo
20% Mike Huckabee
19% Mitt Romney
15% Ron Paul
11% Fred Thompson

Pretty much exactly what I thought. Except that I would have put McCain over Giuliani.


Initiative Until Proven Guilty

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 7:06 pm

I caught a somewhat disturbing article on Morning Edition as I was puttering around the house today. It seems that some municipalities in Kansas are empaneling grand juries to investigate abortion providers in the state, despite the apparent lack of any serious basis for an investigation. A long-standing Kansas state statute mandates that a grand jury be convened if petitioners can gather signatures from two percent plus 100 of citizens in the county where the purported offense takes place. Conservative Kansan groups have used this law to force obscenity investigations against Kansas smut shops in the recent past. Now the right-to-lifers have jumped into the ring as well, collecting signatures to convene a grand jury to look into allegations against Planned Parenthood of Overland Park. The groups behind the petition—local chapters and agents of Operation Rescue, Concerned Women for America and Women Influencing the Nation—accuse a Wichita abortion provider (and through him, Planned Parenthood) of performing illegal third-trimester abortions, falsifying records and lying to authorities.

Maybe I’m being a little reactionary, but I don’t feel comfortable knowing that two percent of the population can bring legal weight to bear against a person or organization with no greater forethought or impetus than it takes to sign a piece of paper outside of the Pak-N-Save. I tend to think that human beings make better choices in the collective than in small, hyperreactive cliques.

To start, I’m not much of an initiative guy myself. As a resident of Washington State, I have been the repeated victim of perennial initiative filer, avowed anti-tax activist, noted embezzler and demented political pixie Tim Eyman. Mr. Eyman has been sprinkling his unique brand of magic fairy dust over Washington voter’s pamphlets for about ten years, doing his best to hamstring our legislature, our tax base and our transit system, to greater or lesser effect depending on the whim of the voters. His relentless cries of Waste, Fraud and Abuse often resonate with a certain class of citizen; the kind that believes in their heart of hearts that funding for services can undergo draconian cuts without affecting the quantity or quality of said services. This belief seems to be something of a reflex among many people, and these are often the sort of people who feel greatly empowered when they use their signature to overturn the mandate of the greater commonwealth as expressed through their elected representatives.

Of course, there are instances when it is necessary to go against the will of the majority in order to protect the rights of the minority—abolition comes to mind—because doing so sets a greater precedent for the protection of everyone’s rights. This, I imagine, is the rationale behind the quasi-extralegal persecution of Kansas Planned Parenthood; selfless human-life-boosters coming to the aid of the imperiled unborn minority. And that’s their call to make….within the confines of the law.

But there’s something to be said for letting appointed officials—including the police—do the job they were put in place to do. After all, law enforcement officials in Kansas had ample opportunity to pursue an official investigation against the doctor in question, but declined. Kansas is not particularly known for a laissez-faire attitude towards either criminal behavior or moral turpitude, so one would think that an organization performing legally questionable abortion procedures within the state of Kansas would receive its fair share of scrutiny. And just as I do not feel particularly comfortable having individual citizens or small groups regularly making other critical public safety decisions for me—such as when, where and why to blow another citizen’s head off—I do not draw tremendous comfort from the idea of a randomly sampled two-percent-plus-a-hundred deciding whether abortion providers are committing heinous crimes or simply doing their job.

It is one thing to use the power of the initiative process to change the law, and another thing entirely to use it to enforce the law after the fact. Particularly in a case such as this, where the alleged criminal activity in question has already been dismissed by those in the best position to evaluate it. And extra-double-particularly when the august bodies wishing to spearhead said enforcement are the type that think that freedom of speech means The Nuremberg Files, and the right to peaceable assembly means screaming, “DON’T KILL YOUR BABY!!!” at distraught and emotionally fragile young women entering a clinic.

As is so often the case, the people who are the most ardent about defending their rights often seem to want to do so at the expense of someone else’s. Guess I should count myself lucky that all our local initiative junkies want to do is destroy our state’s infrastructure. By all appearances, things could be much worse.


I Guess It’s My Turn

Filed under: @ 7:03 pm

I was going to write my last vacation post and fill it with my observations about the UH Warriors’ performance in the Sugar Bowl, the afternoon we spent snorkeling, and the really cool green geckos that we saw at the Kona airport.

But we got home Thursday night and Scrum was really happy to see us, but he wasn’t well, he wasn’t comfortable, and he wasn’t happy. He followed my instructions to the letter. Before we left on the morning of the 18th I had told him in no uncertain terms that he had to wait for me, that he absolutely couldn’t die while I was gone. And he obeyed me without question for once in his life. By Friday evening he was ready to go and so we called nice Auntie Rachel who came and euthanized him for us. Scrum fell asleep purring in my arms and never noticed the final injection.

The house is quiet, although scrupulously clean (Andrew and I had a cathartic cleaning day on Saturday), and very empty without a cat around. We will, without a doubt, have cats again at some point in the not too distant future, but for now we need some time to decompress, to mourn, and to celebrate their lives.

Bummer of a post with which to start 2008, sorry about that. At some point I’ll get around to writing my eulogy for Master Scrum Archie Tweedletrousers The Futon Torpedo. I’m sure his brother is overjoyed to see him.


Happy New Year!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:22 pm

[I originally wrote this at the Kona Airport on January 2, but due to server problems I was not able to post it at the time. –Andrew]

Hey everyone, welcome to 2008! We spent our New Year’s Eve playing a most hilarious round of Bingo with my sister and brother-in-law’s community of friends, competing for “fabulous prizes” (I myself managed to hide many of them throughout their house before we left this morning) and topping off 2007 with an Earth-shattering kaboom of ten thousand firecrackers. Yee-effin’-haw!

The morning of New Year’s Day was spent at Kahuluu Beach, snorkeling and taking pictures with our (so far) trusty Sony underwater digital camera housing (pictures can be seen here). Most of the photos turned out quite well, though towards the end condensation started forming in the lens housing and stuff started to go blurry, which is a good sign that it’s time to get (the camera, at least) out of the water. We returned to the house to watch the UH Warriors get the almighty piss walloped out of them in the Sugar Bowl. (No, I have not suddenly developed a passion for football like some wildfire brain tumor; it’s just that the TV was right next to the pupus, so really I had no choice but to be within sensory range of the event. Also, I really wanted to see the Warriors do the pregame Haka. [Interesting side note: the officials for the Sugar Bowl warned Warriors coach June Jones that his team would be assigned a fifteen-yard penalty if they performed the haka, because it was determined to be “too intimidating” to the other team {do three-hundred-pound college linebackers really intimidate that easily?}. The Warriors accepted the penalty and did it anyway. Good on ’em!])

Anyway, now we’re chilling in the Kona Airport, waiting for our flight out to Oahu (vamping off of free WiFi at the airport, courtesy of Aloha Airlines. Kudos to them!). Tomorrow we return to the Northwest and commence the arduous three-day process of eroding all the sense of fun and relaxation garnered over a three week vacation. Oh, well; at least we’ll have our photos and our extra Manapua pounds with which to remember our time here.

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