Talk About Timing….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:46 pm

Sometime this weekend, my former blog server shit the bed, big time. My first warning came when I fired up my PDA phone this afternoon and discovered that I had 176 pieces of unread mail. Knowing my average load of legitimate mail—and relative unpopularity—it was immediately obvious that my anti-spam ‘ware was not doing its job. I run NoSpamToday For Workstations, a highly powerful and customizable spam fighter that I would recommend to anyone who has 1) More than one device on which they receive email and 2) a Windows machine that is powered on all the time. Just install and configure the software, then set your favorite mail client to run full-time on the same machine, checking your mail every five minutes. Mail that is flagged as spam can then be easily deleted via the application of a simple rule set of some sort, cleaning the crap out of your inbox for all of your computers. It’s not for the complete n00b, but neither is it overly cryptic. If you know what POP3 and SMTP are, then you can certainly set this thing up. I’ve been using a combination of NoSpamToday and Mozilla Thunderbird to control spam for about a year now, and have been quite pleased with the results. Of course, for optimum performance, it is highly recommended that the machine upon which you use the software actually be running. 🙄

ANYway, so finding a clot of junk mail thrombosing my phone’s inbox told me that my anti-spamware was not running. And as it turned out, some six days after I decided to move Uncle Andrew dot Net to a new home, the old one died some sort of nasty death. Quite serendipitous. Unless, of course, the computer in question twigged to what was going down and decided to off itself in a fit of pique, something I would not put past an inanimate conglomeration of metal, ceramic and petrochemicals; I’ve worked with these things too long to believe otherwise.

I’m using this sad turn of events as an opportunity to field-test my backup software, Acronis True Image. I of course ran backups religiously on this machine (you run regular backups on your important computers too, right? RIGHT?), but until you get to test your backups in a real-world situation, you never know whether you’re truly protecting your precious data or just wanking. Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you today to tell you that, with Acronis True Image, thou dost wank not. My box has been returned to the bloom of health. Still not going to move my blog back onto it, though.

Other than my Windows box’s Lazarus act I don’t have much to report right at the moment. As of late, my life revolves around grinding out my company’s upcoming holiday catalog, my wife and our cats. The actual order of priority depends upon the moment in time at which you happen to catch me. Margaret is leagues more important than either of the other aforementioned, of course. On the other hand, if I’m desperately trying to come up with some scintillating copy to describe a bottle of freeze-dried mushroom capsules and a cat has just jumped onto my keyboard and shut down my page-layout program, my hierarchy of priorities might skew cat-centric for just a minute or two….at least long enough to duct tape it to something heavy. 😉

That all being said, I have a couple-three minor observations I guess I could use to fill some screen time….

Observation the First
I was listening to NPR yesterday morning when I overheard a sponsorship message paid for by Madison Market, a local natural foods store. Said message included the note that the market offers, “sustainable meats and seafood”, which struck me as an odd turn of phrase. Of course, I understand the basic concept of sustainable agriculture, and support the business model both implicitly and explicitly. (When possible: ain’t a lot of sustainably-grown food available ’round the Burien/Normandy park/Des Moines axis, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to burn lots of extra planet-pooching hydrocarbons going out of our way to buy our tuck. Eventually I hope to get over my cultural baggage and start raising organically-grown bugs for protein at home….but that’s a story for another day.) I am particularly in favor of sustainability in agriculture in the face of the current business model for meat production in this country; 100,000 metric tons of manure are produced by feedlot animals every minute in the United States, with no sewage treatment system to manage it. That is a serious imbalance in the food-to-shit ratio, and that bugs me a lot, without even getting into the questions of rampant abuse of antibiotics, propagation of foodborne pathogens, unsafe working conditions and unnecessary cruelty to food animals. So sustainably grown meat sounds great. Unfortunately, that is not the image I get from the phrase, “sustainable meat”. That sounds like a piece of rib-eye that grows back as fast as you can eat it. Which, frankly, would be even cooler. I really should pursue this further with Madison Market, ‘cuz if they have that goin’ on up there, it’d be worth driving downtown to buy my steaks.

Observation the Second
You know those little clip-on display units they sometimes attach to shelves at the grocery store? The ones that stick out into the aisle a little bit and have one or two columns of metal pincers running down them, with which to attach lightweight items so they catch the eye—and occasionally the clothing—of passing shoppers? One would think that, in the case of the two-column models, it makes the most sense for the two items being displayed to serve complementary, even actively interdependent functions for the consumer: toothbrushes and dental floss, say, or kitchen sponges and those red-and-yellow clown-afro-looking plastic thingies for scrubbing stubborn food from your dishes. Based on this presumption, I most definitely do not want to know what the modern consumer is doing with him- or herself these days, as indicated by the two-column display rack in the Health and Beauty aisle of my local QFC bearing Ricola cough drops….and disposable latex gloves. 😯

Observation the Third
In lieu of a more detailed report on our recent trip to McDonald’s (about which I may yet post in further detail), I will relay a single fact regarding same. The Big Mac sandwich has but a single flavor: Secret Sauce, aka Thousand Island Dressing. The rest of the totality of the Big Mac experience consists of textures, and not particularly fantastic textures either. The buns are springy and strangely unyielding, like round slices of upholstery foam dotted with sesame seeds. The “cheese” splays limply across the the two-all-beef-patties like a sloughed skin, and the patties themselves seem to have shrunk over time to almost monomolecular thickness. There is no longer enough bona fide muscle tissue left in these things to cushion one’s palate from the squeaky crink! that occurs when gristle is crushed between one’s teeth. The sloppy mess of shredded lettuce, pickles and diced onions, swimming in dressing, has a bizarre, pulpy texture. The closest I can come to describing the sensation is to say that it is like a mat of hair pulled from the shower drain of a Rastafarian, only Thousand-Islandier. Overall, a ghastly cornucopia of sensual experience. This wretched concoction bears seemingly no relationship to an actual hamburger: a beautiful bountiful bundle of juicy animal bits, gooey cheddar or monterey jack, crisp lettuce just beginning to wilt under the onslaught of heat, slices of cool tomato, maybe a strip or three of partially-incinerated bacon riddled with dangerous but delicious polycyclics, your choice of condiments and a bun made out of honest-to-goodness bread or better yet—oh Saints be praised!—a couple of slices of toasted sourdough. Available in one approximation or another at any of a dozen local roadside rotguts in your neighborhood, or crafted to perfection at a backyard barbecue. To settle for that which can be found beneath the Golden Arches is to express the conviction that you deserve no better. You do. Or at least I do.

I’d best hit the sack before Margaret notices I’m not there yet, so that’s all for now. Cheerio!

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