I suppose that if I had actually liked The Breakfast Club, I would be even more resentful about this. As it is, this just makes me feel really, really old. Ancient. Archaic, even.
Fuckin’ JC Penny….get offa my lawn!
I suppose that if I had actually liked The Breakfast Club, I would be even more resentful about this. As it is, this just makes me feel really, really old. Ancient. Archaic, even.
Fuckin’ JC Penny….get offa my lawn!
John McCain needs better handlers. That, or longer naps. Just about everything that has fallen out of his politics-hole in the past few weeks has just made his opponent look that much better.
He did it again today during a radio address to the nation, lambasting Obama for advocating an increase in troops deployed to Afghanistan. He accused Obama of being wishy-washy on the current conflict(s):
“My opponent advocates the deployment of two new combat brigades to Afghanistan; in other words, a surge. We’ll have to wonder how he can deny that the surge in Iraq has succeeded, while at the same time announcing that a surge is what we need in Afghanistan.”
This is, McCain said with much gravity, “not the kind of judgment we seek in a commander-in-chief.”
Oh, absolutely, John. We certainly wouldn’t want someone at the helm who thought there might be a difference between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We wouldn’t want to leave the reins of power in the hands of someone who might realize that Afghanistan is completely different—politically, strategically, historically, geographically, culturally and probably a few other -ally’s—from Iraq. And we sure at shit wouldn’t want to trust our nation’s security and perception in the world to someone who seems to realize that, unlike Iraq, the ruling powers in Afghanistan played a quantifiable role in abetting the attacks on American soil that sparked this whole conflict in the first place.
And if we don’t want a leader capable of making those distinctions, imagine the peril we’d be in if we allowed ourselves to be taken in by a person who might actually believe that a strategy that fails in one scenario might be successful in another? If we don’t elect someone utterly committed to stay the course at all costs—someone that simplistic, that ossified, that fucking stupid—to office, how will we ever manufacture the rationale needed to bring more of that good ol’ fashioned War-On-Terror-style peace and freedom to other imperiled nations of the world? Like Iran, say?
I guess that McCain and/or his machinery believes this kind of highly compartmentalized, alligator-brained thinking still resonates with a majority of the American public—or at least the American voting public. He lets this philosophy shine through in phrases like, “he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory”. Big, bold statements of conviction. Solid, immovable, slablike declarations, didactic monoliths, drawing a clear dividing line between him and Obama, Self and Other, Good and Evil, Black and Wh—well, Good and Evil.
Maybe he’s right, but I’d like to think that seven years of “You’re either ready to help us stick a boot up the ass of the rest of the world, or you eat aborted babies for breakfast” has left people a little more open to the idea of thinking stuff over before saying it into an Associated Press microphone, much less before mobilizing a few armored divisions to act on it. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
But personally, I appreciate Senator McCain’s candor, his willingness to speak his mind, and think he ought to do so whenever and wherever he feels he should. He’s making our guy’s job a lot easier.
Got this off of EcoGeek today:
That is so well put together I almost believed it. Then I almost hemorrhaged myself laughing.
Originally, this whole Refer Madness thing was supposed to be a lark. You know, me chortling out loud and in “print” about the escapades of my fellow Netizens as they stumble across Uncle Andrew dot Net looking for amusing and/or unusual Web pages. Nuthin’ but good clean fun. Well, good PG-13 fun, at any rate.
But every once in a while I consult my access logs to find something I really wish I hadn’t. All the creeps looking for incest porn, for instance. And then there’s this guy—gal—organism from the Fredericksburg, Arizona area, who hit my blog at around three o’clock this afternoon looking for….drumroll please….
“videos of celebrity guys going to the bathroom”
Out! You heard me, out! SHOO! 👿
I feel like I should Nolvasan® my Web server before letting anyone visit it again. That and start wearing a mental dam as part of established protocol for checking my referrers.
Way, waaayyyy off topic: it has been brought to my attention that a couple of people have experienced problems accessing Uncle Andrew dot Net from PCs running Windows XP and either Internet Explorer or FireFox. Apparently a couple of people have had their browser crash when attempting to visit my blog. I tend t think the problem is my embedded QuickTime movies. I made a couple of changes to the code by which they’re embedded. If any one has/continues to have a problem, could you post here to let me know? Mahalo Nui Loa for your kokua!
So for the first time since I’d learned about it, I actually managed to show up for the Sequim (pronounced “squim” for those not cognizant of the pronunciation of Northwest Native American languages) lavender festival this year.
Sequim is, for those unfamiliar with western Washington, along the very northern end of Puget Sound before it flows into the straits of Juan de Fuca just south of Victoria BC.
It’s about a two hour drive (or ferry ride and drive as the case may be) from Seattle sitting in the warm rain shadow of the Olympic mountains. Which means, for some odd reason, that the climate is ideal for growing lavender.
I don’t know how long there have been lavender farms in Sequim. I do know that the festival has only been around for twelve years. And every single dang year for the last -oh- 10 years or so I’ve been occupied during the weekend of the festival. Mid-July is absolutely the right time for lavender. Most varieties are in full bloom and those that aren’t blooming have mature pre-bloom flower bracts that are ideal for culinary or scent use. And if you are, as I am, a major garden geek, spending the day snorfing at lavender bushes while wandering absolutely stunning gardens and interacting with a wide variety of other garden geeks…. well…
Sheri and her mother in law, Nancy, and I started out from Sheri’s house at 0800. We caught the Bainbridge Island ferry from the Coleman ferry dock downtown before heading basically northwest across the Hood Canal and up along the sound almost all the way to Dungeness.
There are eight major lavender farms involved in the festival as well as a number of minor farms, a biggish street fair, and more garage sales per square foot than I’ve ever seen. People in Sequim must save up their garage sales for this weekend knowing that there will be literally THOUSANDS of tourists driving through town with wads of cash willing to purchase anything from anyone that has lavender anywhere close to their wares.
Sheri and Nancy and I hit our first farm, Sunshine Lavender, at about 1030. We got our tickets and spent the next hour wandering through the gardens, inhaling lavender and honeysuckle (a charming combination) brushing leaves of various herbs that were inter-planted with the lavenders, and drooling over the smell of the grill that was going next to the plant stand which was turning out some type of lavender spice rubbed meaty yummies.
Since Sheri and I had good reason to visit the plant stands (very good reason, honest, I’ve still got big empty patches in my front garden), neither of us really tried to restrain ourselves or each other from purchasing plants. I thought I’d seen most of the varieties of lavender, I was absolutely wrong. I’ve got seven or eight lavender varieties in my collection, I am WAY outclassed. I think I counted forty seven different sub-species. I did not, in fact, purchase one specimen of each of the ones I don’t have. But I got a lot 🙂
I lost track of all the names of the six farms that we ended up going to. The ones that stand out were Sunshine where we heard a remarkable twangy honky tonk country band. The Purple Haze Lavender Farm, which is on Bell Bottom Drive (of course), where we heard what I originally thought was Jimi Hendrix on a PA system but what turned out to be a guy playing a didjeridu that was longer than he was tall. The didjeridu band played for the best part of the hour that we were there and I can attest to the fact that the didjeridu (that’s a fun word) did NOT stop. At all. Ever. I’m not sure there was an actual human on the business end of the instrument, I think it was a human shaped air compressor. That dude REALLY had his breath control down.
On the subject of breath control, I present this which was displayed prominently at the didjeridu booth which was one of the artist’s booths present at Purple Haze.
I’m not sure whether it’s better to annoy your bedmate with snoring or to annoy your neighbors by practicing the didjeridu.
At the last farm there was an all woman marimba band. These were, by far, the most animated musicians I’ve seen since the last time we went to see Taiko and they were making some remarkable noises. They had several of their marimba tubes doctored so that when the plank was struck the resultant noise would be resonant and buzzy, rather like a kazoo. It was wonderful. So was watching this lady. I think my father would have tried to appropriate her for his ecstatic dancers series.
We spent seven hours touring six farms, eating lunch at one and, of course, sampling lavender ice cream at others. For the record I’d seriously recommend blueberry lavender ice cream, it’s really something.
Andrew wouldn’t have enjoyed it, basically a seven hour garden tour and shopping trip, but Nancy, Sheri and I had a lovely time.
Okay, so I got the semi-peri-penultimate diagnosis from my nephrologist this morning.
And the winner is….
Yes, the diagnosis that simply could not be the case, is! The doc is consulting with a specialist up at the University of Washington just to be super-extra-sure, but he really doesn’t have any doubts at this point.
Overall, this could be a lot worse. At least it isn’t cancer or some truly bizarre exotic autotimmune disorder. It does bring up the question of how I came to have a condition which is a symptom of uncontrolled diabetes when a) my diabetes is extremely well controlled, and b) I don’t have any of the other symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes. My doctor’s best theory at the moment is that the symptoms I’m experiencing now are the culmination of damage incurred before I was diagnosed, which kind of makes sense.
Pending any remarkable findings by the specialist at The Dub (tiny demons living in my kidneys, some sort of gypsy curse, whathaveyou) my treatment regimen won’t change appreciably. Everything I’m doing to manage my diabetes—sugar control, blood pressure control—is helping my kidneys as well. I will probably consult with a dietician specializing in renal health, and continue to (ahem) have the piss monitored out of me.
This news comes as a relief. It also came at an amazingly portentous moment, as our friend Scot got the call this morning from his hospital and is even now in final testing and prep to receive a much-needed kidney transplant. Everyone please take a moment to think some good thoughts for him. Break a leg, Scot! But go easy on the abdominal cavity. 🙂
Another one from Gavin, though I’d seen it elsewhere as well. Gotta go check it out. From the fertile, febrile imagination of Joss Whedon
I’ve mentioned before how little I care for newspapers. Not the writing itself, but the medium: I shouldn’t have to get my hands filthy just to get my morning news. Mostly I get my news from the radio, and today I got another example of why this medium is not only less messy, but often more fun.
I was listening to a Morning Edition article about the issue of off-shore oil exploration and how the Presidential candidates will have to deal with it. Personally, I’m not sold either way on this topic. Off-shore oil platforms have a safety record that seems comparable to that of oil tankers—200,000 gallons of oil lost in the oft-cited 1969 Santa Barbara oil platform rupture versus 10.8 million gallons from the Exxon Valdez—and performing the off-shore extraction under strict government regulation here rather than off the coast of Nigeria might very well improve that record dramatically. And personally, I don’t think that their presence on the horizon of any given coastline is such a monstrous detriment to the esthetic of the area. Certainly no more than one of those awesome off-shore wind farms that are gaining in popularity, and I would approve one of those off my coast in a heartbeat. On the other hand, the total petroleum to be gained from such a venture is in all likelihood quite low, so this is absolutely no solution to the greater problem of our dependence on a finite, environmentally hazardous energy source. I hate wasting time bickering over the latest and greatest aspirin tablet when what we really need is a big ol’ ampule of Interferon.
Anyway, none of that has much to do with the point of this entry. The real reason I wanted to jot this down had to do with the difference between listening to a person’s voice and reading printed words on a page. At one point in the story, we heard encouraging words about off-shore oil extraction from Scott Smith, vice president of the energy engineering and construction company Black and Veatch.
After I got out of the tub I had to go look the article up online, because to the uninitiated ear, the name of Mr. Smith’s company sounded for all the world like “blackened beach”.
See, this kind of thing just doesn’t happen with newspapers. I wouldn’t trade that experience for all the smudgy fingertips in the world. 😆
Muchas Mahalos to my friend Gavin for sending this along. These have been around since February, but I only just became aware of them.
Kellogg’s Wild Animal Crunch is a naturally-and-artificially-flavored cereal that comes in a variety of “Collector’s Package” Animal Planet-themed boxes featuring seals, pandas, meerkats and polar bears.
God knows, cereal companies like Kellogg’s have been responsible for some damn silly cross-brandings and tie-ins over the years (see one of my previous Food Fright entries for an example), but this pertickler venture kind of makes my skin crawl.
There’s the obvious point of interest regarding the product’s name, of course. While it was inevitable in this case that the concept of the wild, animals, or wild animals would play a big role in the packaging, I have to take exception to the designers’—and more to the point, the marketers’—seemingly total lack of skill in wielding it.
If one buys a box of, say, Raisin Bran, does one not assume that the product ensconced therein is made—at least in part—of those selfsame constituents? Is it not the same for Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, and Honey Nut Cheerios? Oh sure, there are exceptions: no one who has sampled it expects that there are any grapes or nuts in Grape Nuts—just quarry gravel—nor any actual naval officers in Captain Crunch. But the general rule is that the things named on the label are representative, in whole or in some part, of the stuff in the box.
I’ll admit that baby seals can be a nutritious part of a complete breakfast. (And certainly crunchy!) Only problem is you take a chance on receiving a hefty dose of brucellosis with your breakfast.
The designers could not seem to be troubled to find a more deft play on words to use than one that brings to mind the insouciant mastication of still-wriggling field/forest/ocean critters. Hell, I just right this moment pulled the phrase, “Animal Planet’s Wild Crunch” straight outta my ass, and it’s at least fifty times better than “Wild Animal Crunch”. So where’s my multimillion-dollar advertising contract?
Further reinforcing the somewhat gruesome idiom represented by the name “Wild Animal Crunch” (I’m reminded of the old “Whizzo Quality Assortment” sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, where a member of the Hygiene Squad is drilling the president of the Whizzo Chocolate Company about his popular confectionery, Crunchy Frog. “Don’t you even take the bones out?” he shouts. To which the proprietor hotly replies, “If we took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it?”) is the fact that the cereal itself comes in a myriad of fun-type animal shapes like elephants, turtles, and yes, seals. So you can extend the metaphor all the way through to the actual consumption of the cereal. Now that’s a complete package!
Beyond the weirdly disjointed package design/marketing strategy, I also think it’s worth noting that, despite the animal-friendly (if chewing on them can really be considered “friendly”) theme, the purchase of this product does not seem in any way to help protect, preserve or enhance the quality of life for any animal, wild or domestic. The box bears the logo of Discovery Channel’s R.O.A.R. program, a non-profit enterprise that covers a lot of ground, from animal adoption to habitat conservation. I’m not sure how effective the R.O.A.R. program is or how much of the money it receives in donations actually goes into their programs, but that’s not really terribly relevant to this polemic. Whatever the impact, hooray for them, chalk one up for the good guys, etc. The real point of my bringing it up is the fact that, as far as I can tell, the Kellogg’s company does not contribute so much as a farthing to the actual R.O.A.R. program itself, or to any other pro-animal/pro-wildlife endeavor. If they did, you think they would be crowing it from the highest mountaintops….or at least from the side of their own cereal box. The logo is there, but no “Proud Sponsor of” emblazoned above it, no mention of Kellogg’s unwavering support for this or any other program of its type on the Wild Animal Crunch web site. Zippo.
So at its core, what this boils down to is a simple cross-marketing campaign used to pimp another form of sugar-crusted oat chaff to kids, coupled with an added extra-flaccid educational/activist component to provide a little filler. What this product gains in karma is immediately lost through disingenuousness. Leaving just about back where you started, at the level of a box of Lucky Charms….only without even a purple horseshoe to show for it.
Meet our new housemates: Flit (top left) and Pogo (bottom right).
We’ve been preparing for this for a some time now, both strategically and emotionally. Neither of us wanted to jump back into cat ownership without a period of reflection. Not mourning, really (though there was plenty of that after our last cat died), but something more akin to a moment of silence. I won’t speak for Margaret, but I wanted to spend some time feeling what it was like to not have cats in my life, to sort of examine the hole left in my environment by their passing before filling it up again.
Additionally, the weeks immediately following Scrum’s death would have been a bad time for new kitties: new construction both inside and outside the house, the insecurity of my recent medical problems (no, I STILL don’t know what the fuck is wrong with my kidneys; more tests have to be done on the tissues they biopsied. Given how long it’s taking, you’d think they were using them to grow new fucking kidneys to slap in place of the old ones), and the then-upcoming 4th of July holiday all conspired against the idea of bringing new mewlings into the home.
So instead we gathered up all the necessary accoutrements—cat boxes, pet beds, dishes….everything we gave away or was buried with our previous kitties—and waited for the Right Moment. Which just happened to turn out to be this Friday.
Before we left to go cat shopping, I spent a few minutes of quality time with Scamper and Scrum in the back yard, stroking the leaves of the climbing roses under which they are buried and assuring them that no one was ever going to take their place. This choked me up a little, which means I’m probably a much bigger sap than I normally give myself credit—or blame—for. But I felt better afterwards, more prepared to give my heart away again.
This doesn’t come easily for me. Losing three cats over a period of about seven years just about did me in. Each one was harder to let go of than the last. Fact is, I just don’t handle loss of this type with any sense of grace, and it took a fair amount of emotional buttressing to get myself ready to do it all over once more.
We picked these two up from the Kent Animal Shelter, a very well-run branch of greater King County Animal Control, which is itself a top-shelf operation. They have, as one might expect, a lot of kitties looking for homes this time of year: over three hundred at the time we showed up. We were were directed to a large multi-cage assembly of “showroom models”—kittens who were all healthy, recently spayed or neutered, and vaccinated—and these were the first we looked at, a brother-and-sister pair. We checked out a few others after that, but we were pretty kitten smitten from the get-go.
A two-page questionnaire (the form we had to fill out was somewhat daunting; lots of questions about the conditions under which our new pets would live, about the disposition of any current pets we might have, etc. The Animal Control Officer who assisted us said that she had denied adoptions to more than a few applicants based on their responses, which is just jim-dandy by me) and eighty bucks later, we had them packed into a carrier and on their way home.
The girl’s name came pretty easily. She’s the more adventuresome of the two, and shot out the carrier and began investigating her new home the second the door was opened. Watching her zoom around the house, the name “Flit” came to mind. So Flit she is, aka Flitten, aka Flitterbug. The boy took a little longer, but after a few hours watching his prowess at springing onto high or precarious perches, we elected to name him Pogo, aka Pogo McBoing. Yes, by all means, you can stop reading for a moment to go vomit. I’ll wait.
I don’t know if this is what happens in other two cat/two person households, but pretty quickly the cats decided with whom they were going to primarily associate. Flit chose me. I kind of wonder if she did so because our fur is of a complimentary color (she’s got this great Tortie/Tabby—”Torby”? “Tattie”?—thing going on that gives her lovely russet inclusions throughout her pelt), but whatever her reasons I’m cool with it. The attraction was obvious early on, when the little fiend got really happy and decided to start nurking on my beard:
It only seems fair that the cat who is undoubtedly going to be more trouble should cleave to me this time, seeing as how last time ’round Margaret’s cat had the mind of a Shaolin safecracker. Pogo is bright and a very affectionate cat, just a little more sedate than his sister.
It’s kind of freaky having to re-learn everything one needs to do with kittens. We bought about ninety spray bottles to seed around the house, so that one is always at hand with which to administer a little liquid discipline whenever a cat gnaws on a phone cord or climbs a screen door. We have to remember to remove every scrap of food from tables and counters whenever we are going to be out of eyeshot—lest we return to find our sandwiches nommed and our beverages overturned. And we had to relearn the Kitty One Step, where you pass through a doorway using an outstretched foot as a cat-catcher to prevent jailbreaks.
But it all seems to be coming back. It’s like riding a tiny, furry bicycle….one that constantly tries to crush itself under your big steamroller feet while you’re fixing its breakfast.
Don’t worry; we will do our very best to keep the “oh, aren’t our little woogums adorable?” crap to a minimum. These are just the inaugural festivities. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming of liberal whinging and pictures of odd comestibles in short order. 😉
Perhaps it was a surfeit of brie, medical marijuana and gay marriage clogging my liberal ears this morning as I listened to the bottom-of-the-hour news headlines, but I could have sworn I heard NPR News anchor Jean Cochran relay a story about, quote: “Democrat candidate Barack Obama”.
“Democrat” candidate, not “Democratic“.
That sort of omission tends to get my hackles up, particularly in the context of a news program, extra-super-particularly when I’m hearing it on National Public Radio instead of, say, The O’Reilly Factor.
I could have totally misinterpreted this little gaffe, of course. It could have simply been a slip of the tongue. And after all, Obama is a Democrat, and he is a candidate, so the term “Democrat candidate” is not as incorrect or as inflammatory as would be, say, “baby-killing tax-and-spender candidate”.
But it’s hardly state of the art in English language usage, either. Do wellness advocates practice “tantra yoga”? Do heart-attack victims suffer from “ischemia cardiomyopathy”? Did the last Indiana Jones film feature a “formula plotline”?
That little “-ic” conveys a lot of meaning. As, in the case of the word “Democrat”, does its omission.
I realize that the staff of NPR—including the on-air talent—must feel somewhat besieged at times, relentlessly hounded as you are by conservative politicians, commentators, wags and whackos with the totally unfounded charge that you are unbalanced in your reporting and your mission. Truly, I can sympathize with your plight.
However, I don’t think that falling back on a turn of phrase championed by the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and since contemporized by hard-line conservatives and Fox News (“hard-line conservatives and Fox News”….is that being redundant?) is the best way to ingratiate yourself with the bullies of the airwaves.
As all of our mothers once told us, if they’re picking on you, then they’re not your friends.
Like I said, I could have completely misunderstood Jean’s purpose (or lack thereof) in dropping this crucial adjectival ending during the broadcast, in which case, please feel free to ignore this missive, and accept my apologies for taking up some of your time.
But please also be aware that I will be keeping an ear out for any future truncations. And I plan to knock fifty dollars off of our annual contribution to Public Radio for every one I hear….even if it costs me a travel mug or tote bag.
For everyone who came and helped make this year’s July 4th Barbecue a smashing, flaming, kaBOOMing success, thank you one and all. Along with a cavalcade of burgers, bratwurst, beer and a lot of good company, we enjoyed a veritable inferno of quasi-legal firework fun. The grand finale was a 500-gram, 180-shot cake called The Peacock. A great time appeared to be had by all. 😀
I imagine that I’m hardly the only (and certainly not the first) person to express the opinion that America received one of its bestest-ever birthday presents this Independence Day, when Repu Senator Jesse Helms decided to slough his mortal coil and depart for that grand ol’ “Whites Only” country club in the sky. A spokesperson for the Jesse Helms Center For The Prevention of Miscegenation and Preservation of Purity of Essence—I’m pretty sure that’s the name, have to double-check—announced that the Senator died at 1:15 this morning.
The symbolism of Helms kicking the bucket on the 4th of July goes both ways, of course; so much so that I can’t help but wonder how much preplanning went into it. The cause of death has not yet been released. Given his penchant for political showmanship it’s not totally out of the question that, seeing both the holiday and the end drawing nigh and wanting to go out with—ahem—a bang, Senator Helms might have arranged for an aide to smother him with a pillow.
Whatever the circumstances, and wherever he may be now, I will light a Roman Candle or two in his memory this evening. If everything I hope is fair and true turns out to be wrong, and his soul is indeed ascending toward its heavenly reward, there’s at least a infinitesimal chance that I’ll manage to shoot it down.
Rest, Senator Helms. It’s not for me to say whether you do so in blissful peace, eternal torment or in solitary and entropic stillnes. For many of us, it’s enough that you rest.
Can anyone help me to understand how a Rocklin, California cable Internet customer got to this picture on our blog
From a Google Image Search for the phrase, “Bear tripping over a car“?
Bad, baaad search algorithm, no biscuit!
UPDATE: I got another hit for this same Google Image Search from a computer in Bremerton, Washington, at about 7 this morning. WTAlmightyF?
This happens, occasionally: some new topic or meme will bubble up out of the rich primordial soup of the collective Web-mind, and bizarre, seemingly inexplicable requests will start washing up on the shores of Uncle Andrew dot Net. More often than not the tide will quickly turn and the hits will stop coming, usually before I am able to figure out just what the hell made all these people come looking for whatever it was they were looking for in the first place.
Frankly, while curious, I’m too lazy to put in the requisite effort to uncover the original source. The truth is not only out there; it’s doubtless more than a little Out There. Best to just leave it alone.
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