All pau!

Filed under: @ 6:25 pm

It’s done, it’s all FREAKIN’ done!
The remodeling process that started in February with the sewer guys digging holes in the driveway has finally, FINALLY been thoroughly and absolutely completed. Sheri finished the raised beds and the mulch last Monday, I built the retaining wall around the lithadora bed on Saturday and finished transplanting the last two plants that had been in pots this afternoon.
The sewer is connected, the garage has been patched, Andrew’s office is done, the laundry and downstairs shower are functional, we’ve got lovely shelves in the living room, the upstairs bathroom is no longer a nightmare of maroon and pink, my study and the laundry room are painted, and the front garden….
Well, you’ll just have to see the photos.

Northwest Through The Trellis

Northwest Through The Trellis

West Across the Lithadora Bed

West Across the Lithadora Bed

Southwest from The Street

Southwest from The Street

Northeast Across The Raised Beds

Northeast Across The Raised Beds



Azteca Dahlia

Azteca Dahlia

Purple Prince Dahlia

Purple Prince Dahlia

We even have managed to get rid of the toilet and sink that have been living in the garage for the last five months. It’s quite liberating.
And I never want to do it again!


Day 2

Filed under: @ 9:30 am

I sleep cold. At least once every winter Andrew gives me a hard time about being buried in blankets. I also tend to sleep with my head mostly covered and only my nose sticking out. I like to be well covered when I sleep. Also, because of a sketchy neck and shoulder combination I sleep with a lot of pillows. As few as four, sometimes as many as six.
I have two sleeping bags. The first is an ancient relic of my childhood, a sleeping bag that I’ve had since I was old enough to graduate from the miniature “baby bags” to a full adult sized sleeping bag. The second is one of a pair that Andrew and I purchased about 10 years ago just before we flew to Maui to hike Haleakala and stay the night in the crater. This newer bag is, of course, thicker, warmer, and lighter. When packing I debated about which sleeping bag to bring, concerned that if I brought the newer bag I’d be too warm and I’d not have enough space to uncover and cool down enough to sleep well. As a compromise I brought the newer sleeping bag and packed a flannel sheet, figuring that if I got too warm I could always crawl out of my sleeping bag and cover up with the flannel.
We are limited in our luggage to one bag, not to exceed 35 pounds, that must contain or at least encompass all our clothing, personal items, and sleeping gear. I couldn’t pack two full sized pillows, let alone four, so I compromised and packed one real pillow, one travel pillow, and figured that I’d have Andrew bring me a third when he came to see me Friday night.

Let me take you back to Friday evening.
Andrew had just left, taking my laundry and leaving my third pillow, and I went for my shower. It was coming on dark — call it 8:15 or so — and I was in thermal tights, Polarfleece socks, a t-shirt, and sandals. Still grubby, but the only task left for the day was a shower and bed.
I worked my way through the shower line, got my shower which wasn’t as hot as I like them but still a decent temperature, brushed my teeth and headed for bed.
Because I dislike having things on my feet when I sleep I took off the socks before I collapsed into my sleeping bag for the night. This was A MISTAKE.
I have rarely been so cold when sleeping – or trying to as the case may be. Clear night on the end of a row of tents up against a wetland. Heavy dew on the outside of the tent and heavy condensation from Anne’s and my breathing on the inside. The walls of the tent were wet and I was trying like mad not to contact them. So here I am with my damp hair in a towel, a convenient t-shirt covering most of my head, wrapped in a flannel sheet in thermal tights and a t-shirt, stuffed as far down in my sleeping bag as I could manage and I was still *freezing*.
Since I was also exhausted I did, in fact, fall asleep, but it was a tenuous sleep where you’re not really sure that you’ve been asleep until you wake up and realize that you’ve just woken up.

To avoid dehydration and muscle cramps we are instructed to continue to “hydrate” throughout the evening, also that we should expect to have to get up to pee at least once during the night. Having woken up dehydrated with a splitting headache and nausea on the second morning of one of my events, I tend to take these instructions to heart and drink PLENTY with my dinner. At about 1 a.m. I could ignore the urgent commands from my bladder no longer and got up. Dark of course, and with a heavy ground fog that made the moonlight soft and pervasive. The whole camp was glowing as I popped out of my tent and headed for the potties. I was not, by any means, the only stumbling, half asleep walker on my feet. No one was making a sound so all that I heard was the shuffle of feet and the zipping of tents. As I got back to my tent I realized that one upright figure in my tent row was fully dressed and wearing actual shoes, laces tied, instead of sandals. This did not make sense. No walker, woken in the middle of the night by a full bladder, would take the time to dress fully. I thought he was a loon. Then I saw a light flash on his orange “safety” shirt and realized, I’d never known this before, that part of camp services includes having people to patrol the tents at night. I checked later and found that the night wardens are there for security, to help people lost on the way back to their tents from the potties, and to rouse the night shift medical people if they’re needed. Once again I am impressed with the organization that goes into these events. Who would have thought that having someone conscious and coherent to wander the camp all night would be necessary, but I have no doubt that the night wardens are. Attention to details I wouldn’t even have considered.

Woke up at 4:15 when some nitwit’s alarm started to go off. She was either deaf or dead because her alarm kept going off for what must have been 10 minutes before it shut itself off. Or, come to think of it, her tentmate murdered her and shoved the still ringing alarm under her dead body before going back to sleep. It was an option that I considered, but I’d have had to get up again and the inside of my sleeping bag was at least nominally warmer than the outside.
Buried myself back in my sleeping bag until my alarm went of at 5:30. The sun doesn’t rise in mid-September until 6:30 or so. It’s still well dark at 5:30. Managed to get most of my dressing done in my sleeping bag, having forgotten the camp trick of sleeping with one’s underwear in the sleeping bag to avoid the morning nipple freeze. Trying to avoid having my skin in contact with any of my clothes I managed to work my way out of the tent without getting soaked, to get my shoes on without stepping in the wet grass in my socks, and head for breakfast.

They actually feed us very well in camp. For all that what they feed us is mass produced steam tray fare, it’s well cooked and well seasoned. It’s cafeteria food, but it’s good cafeteria food and you don’t have to worry about not getting enough. Saturday morning breakfast is scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, fruit, cold cereal and yogurt, and all sorts of juice, milk, and hot drinks. Despite the spaghetti beast having been fed only a few hours before I was STARVED and ate far more breakfast than any normal person should be eating at 6 in the morning. I also managed to fill my stainless steel water bottle with hot water from the tea making station so I could get some feeling back in my fingers before I left camp. Brush the teeth, brush out and re-braid the hair and we’re off!

I had seen the Texas Cowbelles the day before. I’d seen the route peppered with their dumb cow jokes by the dozens but I’d not gotten the chance to actually meet them. The Texas Cowbelles were hanging out in a parking lot in downtown Redmond a short distance after we’d left camp.

I’m not sure whether the Texas Cowbelles were official cheerers that were endorsed and/or funded by The 3 Day or if they were just a pair of cow crazed ladies from Texas who were interested in keeping Seattle 3 Day walkers amused. A pair of older women, mid-50’s to early 60’s I imagine, both dressed, as you can see, as cows driving about in a tricked out PT cruiser waving cowbells, playing music, honking, cheering, and handing out “heifer hugs”. The heifer hugs were dandy, a good way to suck a little more warmth into my body and the fact that the Cowbelles were stationary gave me a good chance to photograph their car which was a work of art. Vaguely obscene from some angles, but a work of art nonetheless.

The back of the car sported a long tail that was want to stream behind them as they drove along. I came to think that it was probably easier to be a walker than it was to be one of the cheer squad. Not having to put that much effort into one’s costume and persona for the weekend is considerably easier I think.
We walked through downtown (as much as there is) Redmond. Walked past McDonalds where a manager was out with a table offering to sell us cups of coffee and hash browns for $1 apiece. I didn’t see anyone take her up on the offer, but a few blocks down the way EVERYONE was taking the Jamba Juice people up on their offers for free smoothies and the Starbucks guy across the street up on his offer for free coffee and croissants. McD’s was the subject of much scorn that morning.

We finally ended up getting back on the Samammish River Trail at the same point where we’d gotten on the afternoon before. Heading north towards Woodinville we were still early enough in the morning that the ground fog hadn’t dissipated yet and the surrounding cow pastures were beautiful in the early morning light.

Walking hard we were all warm enough, but it was welcome when the sun got high enough to burn off the fog in the river valley.

The second pit stop of the morning was along the river trail complete with a team of cheerleaders from the local junior high school. How do you manage to convince teenagers to haul their carcasses out of bed to be at a pit stop on a cold river trail at 7:00 on a Saturday morning to cheer for people who are working towards something that probably has no meaning to you at the time? Granted these kids were probably warmer than we were, standing in one spot and bouncing up and down, but it was still BLOODY early in the morning. When I was that age it was difficult to get me out of bed at that hour with a spatula, let alone expect me to be perky about it. Kids these days………

North towards Woodinville, a sharp left then east northeast through Kirkland. Warm enough now, up hills that weren’t extreme but were awfully LONG and through the sort of scrubby far east end of Kirkland. Lotta strip malls, car dealerships, BO-ring.
Except the people. People in the parking lots, people driving up and down the route, people standing on the sidewalks handing out popsicles at 8:30 in the morning, people with their kids waving flags and giving us high fives and hands full of bubble gum as we walked past.
North again past Evergreen Hospital then up along a pedestrian overpass over 405. LOTS of honking as we went over 405.
I started to recognize some of the territory as we headed west through suburban Kirkland. Susan and I walked some of the same route when we did the 2005 3 Day. One bit in particular that stuck in my head was walking past a vacant lot that had a developer’s sign out front. The chunk of land was going to be developed into 18 new single family town homes. All sorts of fancy doodads mentioned on the sign, but what made me sit up, as it were, and take notice was the dimensions of the homes they were advertising. “Starting at 7000 square feet….” the sign read. Seven. Thousand. STARTING at seven thousand square feet. Eighteen homes on this one parcel of land, all better than seven thousand square feet. I discussed this at length with a woman who had been walking behind me. Our discussion lasted half a mile or more and we came to the conclusion that to fit eighteen homes of that size on that parcel of land they’d have to have basements for their sub-basements and they’d all need to be six or more floors above ground. Foolish.

I was wearing my new Team Eccentrica shirt and as we wound down through Kirkland towards Lake Washington I spent a lot of time talking about shirts with members of the Tough Titties, a large, mostly male mixed team the backs of whose shirts read “Busting our balls for boobs……AGAIN”. For some reason my blue footed booby shirt struck a chord with the guys because later in the day I was passed by a group of Breastie Boys who were absolutely convulsed by it.

We stopped for lunch at Juanita Beach Park. I scored a nice shady patch up against a fence in which to eat my lunch, argued briefly with a seagull about whether or not he could have the tortilla from my teriyaki chicken wrap (which was repulsive by the way) and then moved out to a patch of sunshine to take a nap and dry out my feet (it was lovely shade, but it was a bit damp).

Walking through Kirkland along Lake Washington is lovely. There’s a whole section of wetland walkway that takes you through some of the tail end of Juanita beach. Shade on one side, sun on the other. Lake on one side, wetland on the other. If you are, as I am most passionately, interested in wetlands more than beautiful, but mostly empty lake views, you walk along the boardwalk in the shade looking at the shoreline plants and animals. The boardwalk is softer and more irregular to walk on (soft and irregular is somewhat more comfortable than harder and smoother when you’ve walked 30 plus miles)…. I really think I had the best of the two options, but I did get some odd looks from my fellow walkers.
And for the second time I ran across the “Proud of the Whole Bloomin’ Bunch!” guy. Along with the “Be a Film Star, Have a Mammogram” guy, this is one of the regulars that shows up at least once along the route every day of the Seattle 3 Day. His wife is a team walker and while standing there with his banner (that reads, of course, “Proud of the Whole Bloomin’ Bunch!)he not only hands out candy, he puts out a garbage bin about 50 feet down the road from him so we can empty our pockets of all the junk we’ve been carrying since the last pit stop. It’s very thoughtful of him because you do end up with pockets and waist packs full of random wrappers, baby wipes, kleenex, and other debris that you would prefer not to carry, but you can’t, of course, just dump on the ground. Unless you’re walking right through the downtown core of a city or inside a municipal park, there just aren’t a lot of trash cans around. You learn to appreciate the little trash cans that King County Metro attaches to their bus stops. Or considerate guys with banners and trash bins.

We walked through downtown Kirkland proper, walking along the lake front which was lovely. Some uku expensive real estate down there, sheesh! Waterfront Kirkland has a huge number of up scale boutiques and bistros. A lot of whom were advertising open restrooms for people with walker credentials. One day spa was offering free 5 minute foot massage. I didn’t see anyone take them up on it, though I know we all thought about it. One of the weirdest offerers of a freebie that was out along the sidewalk was a guy that was handing out samples of this super powered antioxidant juice. He was standing right at an intersection with his little table, business cards, books for sale (selling books? To people who have another 10 miles to walk? Weirdo.), and what looked like bottles of red wine. Because he was standing at the intersection and we had to wait for the light to change, he was getting a lot of business with his freebies. He was doling out little paper cups of what looked like grape juice concentrate, all the while explaining to us how wonderful and healthy this stuff was. It certainly may have been healthy and full of antioxidants, but it tasted like nothing on earth and was so sweet at the first taste that when the tangy hit your tongue a second later it was like having someone apply a pipe clamp to your face. There was a Metro bus stop about half a block down the sidewalk in which I saw an awful lot of mostly full cups of purple juice.
Down through suburban Kirkland, absolutely STUNNING lake front homes probably priced, even in this market, at better than 2 million. Walking along a side street there were lots of families out with their kids, spray bottles, candy, signs, balloons, and clapping. Stopping to get a semi-melted Tootsie roll from a kid who can’t have been more than about three, I was nearly bowled over by his probably 5 year old sister who obviously didn’t want to be letting her little brother get all the glory. She put a hand up to stop me, imperiously shoved her pile of candy at me, said “I think that you should have THIS one!” and handed me a chunk of bubble gum. Never let it be said that I don’t obey the promptings of fate. Come to think of it, that was the spot where about a third of the kids were wearing powder pink t-shirts that read “My Daddy is a Breastie Boy!”.

Zigzag through Kirkland. There’s a LOT more Kirkland than I’ve ever known about. Stopping at an elementary school for the final pit stop before the second cheering station for the day. An excruciating 15 minutes on the bench of a picnic table (you wouldn’t believe how many muscle cramps you can get by trying to fold yourself up and look at the soles of your feet when you’ve walked that far) to figure out whether or not I was getting a blister on the ball of my foot (I wasn’t…..quite). Stretching in any number of exotic ways and then someone handed me the tube of Ben Gay. I’d forgotten about Ben Gay! I slathered my legs from knee to ankle in Ben Gay which was a miraculous relief after a second or two then stumbled off past….. Well, you’ll just have to see it.

Understand that the theme for this pit stop was “The Double D Ranch”. The doors of all the potties were decorated with paper cut out stars and moons to make them look like old time outhouses, the crew were wearing cowboy outfits and handing out cowboy stickers. At most pit stops the crew makes an effort to have some sort of thematic backdrop against which people can take photos. This, um, horse? was part of a typical straw bale, lariat, and horse blanket sort of backdrop. The type of thing you see at those campy places that let you take photos in period dress from the old west. Except for the horse. That was one of the more well dressed pieces of stage prop that I’ve ever seen.
I went for my snack and realized that I’d forgotten about Ben Gay.
See, there’s no place to actually wash your hands except at camp. When you come out of the potties there’s bottles of waterless hand sanitizer and buckets full of Sani-wipes.
So when you have something smeared on your hands you tend to wipe it off as best you can with the Sani-wipes, or you rub it in or let it dry off.
Carrots and Ben Gay is a bad combination.

Through the elementary school, around a corner. Up a hill. A left turn and up another hill. Then around a curve and up another hill. And another hill. And smarmy gits standing out in their driveways clapping and encouraging us with “You’re almost to the top!”.
Then we went up another hill.
At the top of the third hill after that, a group of us were standing to blow, catch our breath, and bitch about the sadistic sons of bitches that were the route planners when someone looked up along the route and saw that to get across 405 again we had to use a pedestrian overpass. To get to the pedestrian overpass we had to walk up a tight spiral sidewalk that had to rise better than 20 feet in the air.
We were not amused.

Crossing from west to east across 405 we were considerably less enthusiastic about waving at the people blasting past and honking underneath us.
But we really were at the top at that point. We walked through the Bridle Trails neighborhood and on to the afternoon cheering station.
I am consistently astonished at the sheer bloody number of people that are coming out to cheer. Sure a lot of them are there to see specific people, but not all of them are and I suspect that not even a majority of them are. Too, the outpouring of emotion is very moving. I’ve said it before that I don’t consider doing the walk to be anything particularly spectacular. Having literally hundreds of people standing and applauding, patting my shoulder, high fiving, and thanking me for, well, just for WALKING always brings tears to my eyes.
Andrew, my folks, and my sister were there cheering for me. I couldn’t stop for as long as I liked, because if I stopped moving for too long my legs threatened to cramp. I visited with them for a while, Andrew got photos of me in the booby shirt, and I walked off again.

Down through Bridle Trails and into, as it turns out, Redmond again. I started thinking that I recognized the neighborhood where we were walking and was seriously confused then absolutely floored when the last pit stop of the day turned out to be the same last pit stop of the day from Friday. The route planners may have been sadistic sons of bitches, but they were efficient, I’ll give them that.
At that point, though, I had developed pretty decent blisters on the balls of my feet and remembering the last mile or so of the route along the river trail from the day before (also knowing that a good deal of the approach to the river trail was downhill which is flat murder on blisters), I gave it up. There’s a bus that hangs at the pit stops and at the lunch stop that will take you either to lunch (if you catch the bus before the lunch stop) or straight to camp (if you catch the bus after lunch). My feet hurt and I most emphatically did NOT want to walk that last mile or so of the river trail with a full bladder and blistered feet. I caught the bus which was soft to sit in, had reclining seats, was air conditioned, and moved a hell of a lot faster than I could have at that point.
They drove us back into camp, scanned our credentials, and day 2 was done.

Mom and Dad again went above and beyond by offering to pick me up from camp to drive back to their place for a shower and dinner. At that point a shower to myself that I wouldn’t have to wait upwards of an hour for was a concept that I looked upon with unseemly lust. Mom and Dad came down, picked me up, and I had a simply glorious shower. Hot, decent water pressure, no wait, big towels…. Lovely.
And dinner. Serious amounts of dinner. I was fading fast after dinner and needed to get back to camp before it got too dark for me to find my tent.
Mom and Dad drove me back to camp, I swiftly, or as swiftly as I could under the circumstances, headed for my tent to put on more clothes. Adding tights, a t-shirt, and fuzzy socks on top of my shorts and tank top warmed me up again to the point where I realized that I was hungry. Again or still didn’t seem to make much difference, so I went to the dining tent and had a second dinner. Fully meaning to sit in a quiet corner and start writing I got caught up in the activity and you all have read the narrative I’ve written about that.
Suffice it to say that the dancing was energetic, although there were more than a few people who were only able to rhythmically shift their weight from foot to foot, and it kept all of us quite warm and happy. It is a very surreal thing to be boogie-ing with a group of women in jammies all reeking of Ben Gay.
But a mighty joyful one at that.

Day 3 and the closing ceremonies to follow.


Oh, Ag…

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 12:38 pm

‘Sbeen a while since anything came across my referrer log that was sufficiently novel, funny or icky to warrant posting. I’d say this one qualifies.

Of course by this time I am used to seeing the mouse droppings of Netizens who have reached my site while perusing the Web for various and/or nefarious forms of pr0n, from the amusing (“Erin Esurance nude”) to the disgusting (“enema cam”) to the downright criminal (“uncle fuck niece”). I’ve learned to pretty much shrug it off. If I were much, much more skilled in the way of computer forensics I might try to set some sort of honeypot trap for the folks in that last category, but I’m not. (Frankly, I’m not sure what I’d do with them after I caught them, though “tag and bag” comes to mind.) So I try to more or less ignore it.

The one that came in yesterday was, while by no means criminal, so icky and yet so hilarous that I scarcely have the lexicon with which to describe it. A whole new word needs to be cobbled together for this. Funny yet icky and really kinky….Finucky? Funincky? Fuckedinsky?

I’ll bet dollars to donuts the Germans already have some term for it, just because their language lends so well to single words comprised of three or four or twelve other complete concepts.

This was a Google Image search for….

bioshock porn”.

Okay, of all the varied permutations of anime/manga/videogame-themed smut there may be out there, of all the vasty depths of the genre that one may ply looking for your kicks….why for the love of God BIOSHOCK?

Whatever else they may be—cleverly crafted, somewhat cartoonish, disturbing and creepy—the denizens of the underwater habitat of Rapture around whom the game revolves are not sexy.

Spider Splicer

Would you want to spend an evening in flagrante delicto with this gentleman?

Or how about this comely lass? Care to make the beast with two backs with her?

These creatures were actually loosely modeled around photographs of early experiments in reconstructive surgery; as in, the ones the surgeons were performing before they started getting it right. Mmm mmm, gotta get me summathat!

Of course, there’s a special place for everyone on the great big beautiful Pervert Rainbow, and people who might enjoy looking at illustrations depicting a couple (or trio, or more-o) of insane, homicidal self-mutating plastic-surgery disasters go at it are probably no more warped or less capable of being integrated into society than amputee fetishists, fecophiiles or the folks who keep the Real Doll company in business. But still, it boggles the mind. You have to wonder what kind of bizarre titillation this person was actually looking for in this motley crew. I mean, the only creatures who aren’t just completely hideous in appearance are….

Oh, no. No, no nononononono.

Now I want to not only wash my mind out with soap, I want to Lysol my DSL modem and give my Web server an enema. Only problem is, that’ll probably just bring more of the sick bastards to my virtual doorstep. 😯


Just About All I Have Left To Say On The Subject

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:18 am

I think I’ve exhausted my meager repertoire of pithy observations as regards the whole investment bank bailout thing. I wasn’t anything like an expert on the subject to begin with, and delving deeper into it, while possibly increasing my understanding, has also increased my frustration and bewilderment.

So into the knacker it goes, at least for the moment. Hopefully I can fill the space currently occupied by this stuff with something more productive….something like, say, Mirror’s Edge would do nicely. 😉

However, I do have just one more observation to make, which came to me yesterday evening while listening to—quel surprise—Marketplace.

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that, should no other benefit to the American taxpayer be derived from this now-projected-to-be-$700-billion bailout (a number that would, just as an aside, pay off all of the approximately 1.4 million mortgages in foreclosure, assuming each of those loans owed an average of $500,000….and that’s just a flat-out buyout, without even renegotiating the terms), we may at least possibly expect that having the US government in charge of a controlling share of these formerly august institutions might go some way toward offering a sort of meta-regulation that they have not up to this point had to bear. On the other hand, I’m not so thrilled with the idea of concentrating that much extra power in the hands of the Treasury, even less so with the concept of doling out the dough without some serious, mast-lash-quality strings attached, as the Repus would seem to prefer.

Yesterday another potential benefit came to mind.

It would be nice to think that this whole imbroglio might finally and forever quash the notion that Social Security should be put in the hands of individual investors and the private sector. Dear God, let’s hope so. Almost be worth the 700 bill if it did.

Of course, by the time we finally finish infusing life-giving capital into Wall Street and life-taking money into Baghdad, there’s not likely going to be much left over for Social Security anyway. Thank goodness we’ve got our IRAs! Oh wait, right. 🙁


This Just In….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:09 am

Mahalo to my father for sending this along to me. I don’t normally advocate participating in online polls, but apparently PBS’s NOW is offering a poll on Sarah Palin’s suitability as a vice-presidential candidate. The poll is a couple of weeks old at this point, but it appears that conservatives—or perhaps just pranksters—have been flooding the thing with “YES” votes, as I don’t believe that a 54% majority of PBS viewers would say that she was.

If you have a moment and would like to offer your input, here is a link to the poll. No registration information is required, though of course PBS is probably harvesting your IP address and TCP headers to sell to Valpak Incorporated.

Now if we could just get them to offer a poll on whether to make David Brancaccio lose that awful perm….


Day 1

Filed under: @ 12:37 pm

Understand that I started writing this, a computer being unavailable and impractical at the time, in a notebook while sitting in the dining tent after dinner last Saturday. It’s not exactly in chronological order, but the flavor of the narrative is so good that I couldn’t stand to discard it.

That having been said…..

So here we are 40 miles into it and there’s loud dance music with better than half the dining tent, the kitchen crew, and free safety and medical personnel of all ages dancing like there’s no tomorrow.
And my shrink wonders why I’m so high after I finish doing one of these.

Thursday night… God I must have dreamed 6 or 8 times that I’d missed the first day. Traditional “sleeping in a strange bed” light and wispy sleep hearing my parents’ clock chime the 15s what seemed like, but couldn’t have been, all freakin’ night.
And over and over and over again dreaming that it was noon Friday and I was only just starting, dreaming that I woke up Saturday morning and had missed Friday entirely. Normal stress/anticipation stuff. I was walking through Kirkland this afternoon and I met someone who had actually missed Friday. Somehow this woman had gotten it in her head that the walk was Saturday/Sunday/Monday and, despite walking with a team and exchanging e-mail from them, to say nothing of having gotten all the official e-mails, she was never corrected. One of her team called her at 0430 on Friday and told her to get packed and get her butt in gear, but she had to work on Friday so she caught up with us this morning.

Now there’s a conga line. No, two.
Sweet Jesus, where did the Glo Stick Hula Hoop come from?
The conga line leader, or one of them, is wearing a giant pair of styrofoam boobs on her chest with giant tassels on the nipples. I may have to join this, they’re playing Abba.
(time passes)
I may dance to Abba, but I DON’T line dance!

Anyway, where was I? Oh right, Friday.
Too early, too chilly, too little sleep, and too excited to have anything other than flash impressions of the early morning.
Two seep van crew in spotted jammies and dog ears helped me haul my bag what turned out to be a shocking distance and even volunteered to take it to the gear van for me. Told me that if I needed a lift at any time during the weekend I was to call on the Paws Van. Weirdly, despite desperately needing, and even once catching, a ride to the nearest porta-potty a few times over the weekend, I didn’t see them again until closing ceremonies.

Hold on – gotta dance again.
A. I was wrong. The boobs aren’t styrofoam, they’re stuffed and covered in synthetic fur.
B. You ain’t seen weird until you’ve sat through almost an hour of slipper and (mostly) flannel jammie clad (mostly) women wearing beads and Glo Stick jewelry dancing to everything from The Village People to a techno remix of Michael Jackson to Garth Brooks while reeking of Ben Gay. Along the lines of Dogbert’s “You haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen dinosaurs dance.” This isn’t, unless you’re a lousy mean person, in any way ugly but it sure is more surreal than normal.

Okay, back to Friday. The music is ending and I’ve got to get into bed before I freeze my butt straight off.
Another flash, and, in fact, a photo, of the channel 5 news helicopter alone in a patch of wonderfully soft blue sky just as the sun is starting to rise.

And probably almost an hour of standing waiting to get through the gates to the walk out after they officially opened the 2008 Seattle 3 Day. At the time I wasn’t sure how many of us there were, but it seemed like there were a lot more walkers this year than last. (Brief editor’s note: I was right, too. Last year there were only about 2700 of us, this year it’s more like 3300).
Finally walking, finally warming up and the first casualty of the day less than five minutes from the starting gate. Some poor woman sitting in the road crying almost as much as she is bleeding, having tripped, slipped on a manhole cover, and ended up doing a face plant into a curb. The sweep van drivers, fortunately about 50 feet away in a parking lot waving down the Tri Med ambulance that was sitting in the same parking lot. A huge knot, I’ve never seen such a thing, half the size of a tennis ball I swear, on this woman’s forehead and her nose bleeding down her shirt and into her lap. I found out later that she’d broken her nose. We were through the BCC campus and on to 148th when the ambulance came blasting through with her. Since she was sidelined for the whole weekend, and, honestly, is probably only just now getting over the headache, I surely hope that The 3 Day allowed her to transfer her registration and her fundraising to next year.
Walking for a short period of time with William the Utilikilt guy. Pink hair, Utilikilt, knee high pole climbing boots and all. This year William was carrying, in addition to the backpack full of his gear that he usually carries, a pair of wrist and hand weights. BIG wrist and hand weights. Claimed that they kept his hands from swelling and they probably did. I think he’s more than a little crazy though.

Walking off of the BCC campus we were supposed to cross an intersection northbound then funnel on to a pedestrian overpass over 148th and continue northbound on the east side of the street. There were city of Bellevue traffic officers directing traffic at the intersection because there were so damn many of us and it was the middle of the morning rush. It would have worked well, but the approach to the pedestrian overpass would only allow people to walk three abreast. A major traffic jam appeared and we were starting to line the road all the way back through the BCC campus. One traffic cop looks at the other, one standing in the middle of the intersection brings traffic in both directions to a stop. Then they motion us, a hundred or more of us, kitty cornered across the intersection to relieve the congestion. They kept sending us across in batches that way, keeping people moving across the pedestrian bridge at the same time, thus keeping us all in motion as much as possible. Not for the first time were we thankful for the local constabulary.
Through Lake Hills, down Main Street (the suburban one, not the downtown Bellevue one for those who are familiar with Bellevue) and down past Samammish high school. A quick shot past a bus stop where the striking Samammish school teachers were waving signs and shouting for us instead of against the Bellevue school district (one with a sign that read “We’d be here anyway, good luck!”) and down the Lake Hills Connector. LHC is a surface arterial that connects suburban Bellevue with downtown Bellevue running through a beautiful piece of green belt and wetland. I am most intimately familiar with the route since Dad used to drive me to school every morning down that route. I’d never walked it of course, and it is more lovely on foot than it is at 40 miles an hour.
It’s a big inside joke, probably not even most of my family will get it, but Pop, this one’s for you….



Through downtown Bellevue, or at least the southeast skirts thereof. Across 405 for the first of several times that weekend and down and around through the business parks at the south end of Bellevue. A nice place to walk, shady and all but kind of boring until we intersected with 108th and started to head north again. North right past the precincts of Bellevue High School where I spent much stomping time as a teenager. I’d hoped never to walk along there again…. yeesh. Past the bus stop where David Hagen broke both of his shins running from a bully, past the KFC which ain’t one anymore and a swift jaunt west along the downtown Bellevue section of Main. For those who keep track of these things, the Triple Alliance is now (sadly) a pool bar. Another crazy inside joke that very few people will get.
Main Street in downtown Bellevue is at least an interesting place to walk. I’d like to think we offended at least half of the people we walked past, but it may only have been as many as 2/3. We were very noisy, very flamboyant, and NOT very proper upper crust Bellevue.
Lunch at Bellevue’s downtown park, a very respectable piece of green within what has become a rather large small city’s downtown core. Nice place for lunch, but too dang hot, not nearly enough shady bits.

Too I discovered at lunch that massaging hot feet with peppermint foot lotion might feel good, but is likely to cause a wicked itchy rash.
A brief interlude while I sit at medical with an ice bag and 1% hydrocortisone cream on my left foot. Aaaahhhh! Ice bag!
I re-socked and re-shoed but still had the ice bag. Don’t want to carry it, medical won’t take it back. Aha! I tucked the ice bag under my hat and, with a somewhat prolonged break to act as photographer (I got asked to take photos for everyone that weekend. Don’t know why a solo walker is everyone’s automatic choice, but I did get some interesting conversation out of it.) I walked off. North through Bellevue, east again, north again, east again. They had us zig zagging all over freaking creation and while Bellevue is clean and doubtless a safer place to walk than, say, Federal Way, the back and forth got a little dull.
Back over 405, past Overlake hospital and then…. and then…..

Really up.
Not steeply up, just up for a LONG time. Up and hot and cement and lots of strip malls and HOT. GAK!
A pit stop at the little park that’s behind the YMCA where I took swimming lessons as a kid. Nice park, full of bees. Yellow jacket sting for a small fry playing on the playground equipment who had the lung capacity of the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir. No one, I mean NO ONE can holler like this kid can. Medical forwarded him a cup full of ice and that, combined with several cookies that were donated by those of us in passing, seemed to soothe things.
Oh yeah, the cookies! One of the more organized groups that showed up at the cheering stations all weekend had a table full of home baked cookies. Fantastic cookies, best gingersnaps I’ve had in a long time. The people at the cheering stations were so great.

Finally ended up at the northeastern end of Bellevue just before it turns into Redmond and then we entered THE MICROSOFT ZONE.
I found walking through the Microsoft campus a little creepy.
Clean, sure. Well marked and plenty of controlled intersections, sure.
But everything with that overtone of “You are on corporate property, never forget it!”. Even to the point where, when we started walking past the apartment complexes that are associated with the campus I was forced to wonder whether the complexes are Microsoft property as well, owned by for the express use of employees of Microsoft. No one around could answer that question and plenty of us were asking it. Jaunthie, any comments?
Oh, and I’d forgotten about Ranjit.
I walked with Ranjit for a bit in the morning as we were headed down out of Lake Hills. Ranjit is a Microsofty, an Indian (No! Really?!) import from Bangalore. Ranjit was walking because his wife who had been doing all the fundraising and training, was suddenly unable to walk. The 3 Day allowed them to transfer her registration to him and so Ranjit was walking for his mother, a breast cancer survivor who was visiting from India. As we walked through the Microsoft campus Ranjit’s family, Mom included, was standing outside their apartment all waving signs and cheering. Mom had tears in her eyes when I passed her. It’s cool that The 3 Day let them do that.

Into the depths of Redmond, across 520 for the first of several times, and finally we run across Polly The Dinosaur Lady! I hadn’t seen her all day, was worried that she wouldn’t be crewing this year. I’d seen The Duck Man….

I’d seen Bubba

(and just for the record, this photo of Bubba is from the 3rd day when all of the male safety crew were wearing pink lacy bras. Bubba had stuffed his with a pair of pink fluffy teddy bears and was heard to say that his was the only 3 dollar boob job from Target on the face of the planet.)
But until that point there’d been no Polly.
Polly is special, she’s got more energy, more capacity for improvisation, and a better capability to inspire than just about anyone. Squeaking dinosaur kisses as you pass, “C’mon sugar britches” or something of the sort if you’re lagging or sore… Polly is a character and I was very happy to see her.

One final pit stop at a park in Redmond and I HAD to stop at medical. My right little toe had been sending up gradually more insistent cries for attention and, while I hadn’t planned to take my shoes off until I hit camp (it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively, to have to stuff swollen feet back into your walking shoes), I had to find out what was going on with the toe. It felt like someone had inserted a balloon under the nail and was gradually peeling it off of my toe. There was no blister, the toe was red but nothing obvious. A passing RN in kneepads (there’s a lot of kneeling to look at feet on this event) took a gander and she couldn’t see anything either. The RN went to grab one of the sports medicine people who looked, trans-illuminated my toe with a penlight and told me that the nail was going to fall off. My shoes were a wee bit too tight in the toe box, she said, and that toe had been rubbing. I could cut a hole in my shoe she said, (NOT AT $139 A PAIR I COULDN’T!) or I could take the bus back into camp. It was only three miles and that way I’d be saving my feet for the next day.
Unh huh.
Now understand that I have the greatest respect for the people, especially the medical people, who volunteer for these events. I normally would pay attention to their instructions knowing how irritating it is when I run across people in my professional capacity who think they know better about their pets than I do. I trust implicitly the instructions that these folks give about blisters and foot care, they know far more about people feet than I ever will.
So I lay down in the grass with a bag of ice, my Gatorade bottle and my snack. I elevated my feet, with ice bag in place, against the nearest tree and ate pretzels and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Oh those PB&J sandwiches! Nothing you’d catch me dead purchasing or eating in my normal life, but these packaged, refrigerated to partially frozen, crustless, white bread with PB&J smished in between sandwiches are absolute freakin’ AMBROSIA when you’ve been walking hard. Don’t go so well with green Gatorade though, I’d recommend the blue.).
By the time I’d finished with my sammich and pretzels, stretched and re-laced my shoes so they were pretty danged loose… The pinky toe actually felt pretty good. So I walked on. It was, as Sports Medicine Lady said, ONLY 3 miles.
3 miles straight down though. Yeesh!

Down through the tail end of Redmond into the Samammish river valley is a nice walk. Beautiful view, entertaining walking (that is, there’s plenty of traffic to keep you occupied and entertained), but it’s DOWN. And DOWN HURTS! Especially if you’ve got a mashed toe and can either lace your shoes tight so that your toe remains mashed or you can lace them loose and allow your toe to mash with distressing regularity against the end of your shoe.
Finally got down to the Samammish river trail, one final potty stop before we hit the trail and head south towards camp. No access for the sweep vans, once you’re on the trail you’re on the trail until you hit camp, you fall into the river, or you climb up out of the valley in which the trail runs (up the river bank basically) and hitch a ride from a passing car.
Did I mention that it was stinkin’ hot on Friday? The morning was fine, but come about 11 a.m. and it was hot. And we were drinking volumes and volumes of water and Gatorade. The last mile or so of Friday’s route was along the river trail, I had a really sore toe, one empty bottle and a second half full of tepid khaki Gatorade (never mix the orange and the green by the way), a full bladder, and the strap of my waist pack cinching me in two right across my hips.
The last mile or so of the route SUCKED BALLS.
Finally, finally, FINALLY through the west gate at Marymoor park. About a quarter of the way up the driveway there’s a series of baseball fields. Each two fields is equipped with a double porta potty. And they were all full. A line stretched from all of them, but since they were considerably closer than those at camp (about another half mile down the road), I joined the line.

After that it was smooth sailing. I called Andrew, far to early as it turns out, and told him I’d hit camp. We’d arranged that he’d come out to visit me after I got in and so I figured on calling him and getting him on his way while I got my stuff into my tent and got a shower.
Except that his traffic was better than either of us would have predicted and mine was much worse. I checked in at camp, found my tent section and gear then had to drag my bag all the way from tent E 100 (where the sign marking the E section was planted) to my tent site at E 1. Only to find…. no tent.
Damn damn and double damn. I poked my head into the tent across the aisle and found that I was supposed to pick up my tent where I’d picked up my gear. Went back to the gear trucks, I had a shorter route this time since I didn’t have to detour 99 tents to find the gear trucks, only to find that there were no tents.
Pallets with empty tent boxes, but no tents.
Gear monkeys with radios and chairs too, damn them, at the pallets trying to figure out where all the tents had gone, but no tents.
I started to have visions of sleeping in the grass.
3300 walkers plus 400 plus crew and volunteers equals about 2000 pink dome tents. The camp was massive and some of our tents had been mis-routed to the P-Z tent sections. It would take about 20 minutes for them (yes, the camp was that big) to send a tractor over with the tents.
So grouchy, sweaty, sticky, and still fiercely hot, I stood around waiting for my tent.
When the tent finally arrived it was brand new. It was also small and easy enough for one person to pitch. I needed a little help with the rain fly, but managed well, all the time wondering whether or not I’d have a tent mate. I started to have visions of having an entire tent to myself. Not a lot of room, granted, but considerably more than one has sharing a tent.
Anne showed up with the rest of her teammates as I was unpacking my shower gear though so I ended up with a roommate for the weekend.
Anne was a gracious roomie, an older (mid to late 60’s) breast cancer survivor who, when she learned that I was walking solo, made me an official honorary member of her team. I’m now an official member of the Moody Boobs. She and I got along well together especially since both of us were much more interested in showering, eating, and SLEEPING when we were in camp rather than hanging out drinking beer as the “Miller Lite” team in the E 30’s were. How they managed to smuggle in, let alone get away with drinking, Miller Lite in camp (alcohol is strictly verboten) I don’t know but I was glad not to be sleeping next to them. Anne and I were also about four rows away from the porta potties. Far enough not to be bothered by noise or smell, but close enough that stumbling to go and pee in the middle of the night was not a chore. Altogether a decent, if damp, camp experience.

Andrew called to let me know that he was en-route just as I was lining up for my shower. Since a shower in those circumstances can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour I went to go meet him. Still dressed in my filthy gritty clothes, dying of hunger and sticky in a number of remarkable places, it was wonderful to see him.
Andrew carried my junk and stood in line for dinner with me. Laughed at me because, and I quote, “I don’t often get to see you eat like this. You’re eating like a lumberjack!” Which was true. Friday is spaghetti dinner night and even though I didn’t think I would eat all of what the dinner lady gave me…. I vacuumed it up. I always forget what that sort of exercise does to your metabolism.
The spaghetti beast tamed, we dropped some things off at my tent, Andrew (wonderful man, I’m not sure what I did to deserve him) took my dirty laundry and I went off for a shower. The shower line took me half an hour, I brushed my teeth then collapsed and died.
Day 2 and Day 3 to follow, but since it’s taken me almost three hours to write this, y’all are going to have to put up with this saga in serial.
Andrew took these two photos on Friday night.

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

Rising moon from my tent

Rising moon from my tent

As An Antidote To The Last Post….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:54 am



If Only I Were Smarter

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 3:20 pm

….I might be able to do more than stare at my 401(k) statement and whimper. But I ain’t, so I just tell myself that this particular trough will smooth out over the next 20 or 25 years and I’ll end up sitting on the front stoop in my adirondack chair, sipping a microbrew and reminiscing about the Big Scare of Ought Eight. That is, assuming that the entirety of the retail financial sector has not been acquired in receivership by the US government or absorbed into Wal-Mart Worldwide Financial by then, and I’m actually sitting in a shallow tank of support brine keeping my brain alive because all of my organs have been harvested to pay our property taxes.

Being a medium-grade ignoramus about the economy, I have to more or less take my government at its word when it funnels 85 billion dollars into a pack of avaricious, idiotic nest-wetting carrion feeders like AIG because failure to do so would cause the worldwide financial market to suffer untold damage. After all, the collapse of the world’s largest insurance entity can’t be a good thing for anyone affiliated with it, which from the reports coming out sounds like it might include half the mammalian biomass of the planet and maybe a few million echinoderms as well. And as it stands, having the government hold an equity stake in the doings of a struggling financial behemoth does not seem to be such a bad move. Almost as good a move as it would have been to have a GOD DAMN REGULATORY INFRASTRUCTURE WITH SOME FUCKING TEETH IN IT TO KEEP COMPANIES LIKE AIG FROM SELLING ALL THOSE SUICIDAL MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES PROTECTION POLICIES IN THE FIRST PLACE—but, I digress. All dollars under the bridge now. Millions and millions and millions of dollars.

But it all seems so weird; when exactly did it become sound fiscal policy to deny a safety net for individuals for making stupid mistakes yet bail out huge companies for making mind-blowingly huge, earth-shatteringly stupid mistakes? Imagine if the US government had dedicated 85 billion clams towards mortgage relief for homeowners. It would have accomplished the same end result: mortgages wouldn’t have gone into default, so the mortgage-backed securities would have remained solvent. So the dipshit insurance companies who protected those securities with policies wouldn’t have lost their shorts. In fact, that way might have been a whole hell of a lot simpler, even potentially a lot better for the economy as a whole. Keeping homeowners in their homes would have provided aid for every rung on that rickety ladder instead of just those hanging by their nails from the brass ring.

But no: giving money to a desperate homeowner is a handout. Worse yet, it’s rewarding irresponsibility. Not to mention the potential for fraud involved in cutting checks to thousands of individuals whose mortgages are in the ICU. Oh sure, it may not sound as fraudulent as, say, giving the asshole who drove the largest insurance company into the ground a $1 million annual salary, plus $4–$8 million in annual performance bonuses, $13 million annually in long-term incentive pay and a one-time $24.5 million stock package (which admittedly must have taken a pretty big hit in the last few days)….but remember, these people failed to show financial common sense! For the love of bailouts, where’s the accountability?

Quick: what’s dumber than taking on a mortgage you can’t possibly afford? Offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford. And what’s dumber than offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford? Offering investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford! And now, for the $85 billion grand prize: what’s dumber than offering investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford? You guessed it! Offering INSURANCE POLICIES on investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford!

[What could possibly be dumber than all that? One might reasonably assume it would be offering a bailout of the provider of insurance policies on investment products based on companies offering mortgages that people can’t possibly afford. But frankly, any dumber and you’d probably have to be watered twice a day.]

I’ll admit that the idea of letting AIG fall completely to pieces does not appeal to me. But using billions in treasure we do not have to keep it afloat—to all but admit that some institutions are too big to allow to crumble, no matter how insane and out of touch they seem—is very disturbing. It’s like….well, to be frank, it’s like being too large a nation on too wack a mission for anyone else in the world to prevent. It’s like sinking all of your money and effort into a big institution (or incursion) while ignoring the little guy. You know, the guy hiding in a cave.

It’s all very unsettling and very, very familiar.

I’m not quite ready to invest in mattress-backed securities yet, but I am regularly checking the market value of my corneas.



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:12 pm

I’ve updated the 2008 3-Day Page with all of the pictures. I hope to distill the video I shot down to a useable length and post that as well.

Margaret is of good cheer and doing well; better than the last time, IMHO. She did a great job of pacing herself this time ’round, and it shows post-walk. I suppose that helping to dig up over 8.6 million dollars for breast cancer research—over 35 percent more than last year—helped a bit. 😉

Go Margaret! Go walkers!


Day 1 Of The 3 Day

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 11:13 am

Here is a link to pictures from Day 1 of the 2008 3 Day. Margaret is doing well, albeit with a sore little piggy on the right foot and her trademarked case of prickly heat of the tootsies. She is in good spirits and just drinking in the contact high. Girl Power!


Can’t Sleep….Invid’ll Eat Me….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:30 am

From Kotaku this morning:

I have officially found the only reason why I would ever want to own a PlayStation Portable: Macross Ace Frontier.

Fortunately for my wallet, a) this title is not currently scheduled for US release and b) I’ve already blown all of my disposable income on another cool piece of portable hardware, which should be arriving today.


……and counting!

Filed under: @ 9:39 pm

In a little over 24 hours I’ll be on my feet for the first of three amazing days. I’ve got all my gear (not all in one place, but I’ve got it all), I’ve got the route map, and I’ve got enough anticipation to keep me awake for days. Thank God for Benadryl.

Please consider coming out to one of the cheering stations. I’d love to see any and all of you and it’s great good fun. Besides, if you’re lucky you might get to meet Polly the Dinosaur Lady.

Polly The Dinosaur Lady

Polly The Dinosaur Lady


Random Rumblings

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:55 pm

I’ve got a few things bouncing around in the old coconut that I probably ought to get out before they bust a hole….

First, I thought I’d provide a little feedback about my new Shuttle SG31G2 Barebones I put together to house the remains of my server environment. After I moved my blog over to the Cube I had lying around, I still had some server functions that I needed to run on a separate computer, preferably a PC so I wouldn’t have to find and configure new software to fulfill existing functions. Of course, I still had my old blog server sitting here, but it was a little ridiculous to run a spam filter, a camera server and an Unreal Tournament server off of such a ridiculously overpowered rig. In addition to being a waste of a killer motherboard (ASUS P5N32-E SLI), the thing took a lot of power and threw off a lot of BTUs, not to mention being a bit on the noisy side given the five fans needed to keep it cool. So I decided to move the CPU, RAM and drives over to a Small Form Factor PC case, and after a little research chose the Shuttle.

Comparison of Shuttle and Power Mac G4 Cube

Comparison of Shuttle and Power Mac G4 Cube

The SG31G2 is a perfectly serviceable unit for low-to-medium-demand tasks. it takes LGA775 CPUs like the Core2 Duo and Core2 Quad, can handle up to 4 GB (2 x 2GB sticks) of RAM, includes an Intel GMA 3100 graphics chip and two independent video outs (one VGA and one DVI), gigabit NIC, one PCIE x16 and one regular PCI slot, 6 USB 2 ports, 2 FireWire 400 ports, 7.1 audio, PS/2 ports, ATA, SATA2, room for up to 2 hard drives and one optical drive….cripes, what doesn’t it have? You will never find a more complete meal deal in such a small package. But there are caveats. While the processor cooling system (they call it Integrated Cooling Engine 2, or ICE 2; kewwwwwl) is quite reasonable at maintaining the internal temperature with a minimum of noise, the power supply is another story. It’s a teeny-weeny special-purpose PSU with a 40mm fan built in for cooling, half the diameter of a standard ATX power supply’s fan. As a result, it is a bit loud. Loud isn’t even the word, really; it’s not noticeably louder than a standard PSU’s exhaust fan. What it is is whinier; a sort of sibilant “fffffhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh” noise—complete with a complimentary harmonic—that will drive some people insane. I would never want to use this thing as, say, a Home Theater PC, or anywhere else that doesn’t already have a decent noise floor. On the other hand, there is an aftermarket PSU called the “Silent-X” that is supposed to do a whole helluva lot to quiet the thing down. I may or may not elect to install one at some point, but in this office of mine the extra noise is hardly a serious bother. (All in all, the Shuttle’s still quieter than the old server. Keeps the office a lot cooler as well.) I don’t think I’d ever want to dump in a high-octane graphics card and use it for gaming or anything—the extra heat from a hardcore video card would probably kick the fans into high gear, which I imagine would make the thing sound like an HO-scale leaf blower. But for anyone needing a super-compact PC, the SG31G2 offers a lot of bang for the buck.

On to other stuff.

If you happen to be in Renton (practically in Maple Valley, really) and are dying for some ass-kicking barbecue, might I recommend Bill’s Bodacious Barbecue, an absolutely fabulous Mom-N-Pop joint built into what appears to be a defunct Seven Eleven. It’s out of the way—not out in the sticks, but set like a jewel in a vast and soul-sucking expanse of tract houses and strip malls—but more than worth the trip if you are in downtown Renton with 90 minutes to kill, a good sense of direction and a mad case of the pig-munchies. We stopped in there for some take-out on Saturday because we were jonesing for barbecue. Margaret suggested the Cave Man Kitchen, but, while Cave Man is good, it is not in my opinion an actual barbecue joint. Any place that pretty much only offers sandwiches is not barbecue: no ribs, no thanks. I’m perfectly happy to stop in at the Cave Man for lunch after business in the Kent industrial corridor or browsing through Jerry’s Rock and Gem, but if my mind’s set on by-god barbie, it needs to be reeking of smoke and falling off the bone.

‘Round these parts the gold standard to which all other barbecue is to be compared is Dixie’s in the Bellvue area, and I’d have to say that this place compares favorably. Their selection is probably not as vast, but they have a good variety of meats, sides, and specials, and everything we had was marvelous. We just happened to seek them out on Smoked Prime Rib night, so we picked up a couple of slabs of that, a slab of pork ribs, slaw, baked beans and potato salad—a haul we are still finishing off. The smell was driving me batshit all the way home; next time we eat in.

Lemmetellyou, if you’ve never eaten prime rib slow-smoked over an alder wood fire (alder’s a lot like mesquite only with a sweeter, slightly less acerbic undertone to it), you have not repeat not eaten prime rib. I know, I know. I thought I had eaten it too. I had not. This was incredibly juicy, with a delightful smokiness that did not overwhelm the signature prime-rib flavor. The pork ribs were also just stupendous: ranging from tender-juicy to charred and chewy, served with sauce on the side rather than slathered all over everything. The sauce is a zingy sweet/sour affair, with a base that includes lots of finely diced onions, (cider?) vinegar, and enough cayenne to make the tip of your tongue twitch but not fall off and scurry around the dining room. Some folks are not going to like the sauce. I’ve read a few complaints that it is too Asian in affect, too “sweet and sour pork”-y. I don’t agree; I think it’s dandy, and I really like being able to add or omit it as I please.

The sides were all homemade and high quality and we hardly touched the full repertoire. In addition to beans, slaw and potad salad they offered red beans and rice, collard greens, cornbread and a selection of homemade desserts such as sweet potato and pecan pies. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of stuff—didn’t even get to the baby back ribs or the chicken—but we’ll be going back, don’t you worry. Bill’s Bodacious Barbecue gets four enthusiastic thumbs up from the South End Detachment. Go there, eat lots, go home sticky. 😉

What else, what else….

I’m not really paying a lot of attention to the current political scab everyone just can’t seem to keep from picking, namely the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s veep. It’s such a non-starter for me. The poor lady is so obviously meant to be McCain’s political arm candy it’s ridiculous. She’s supposed to revitalize the ticket and draw in the fence-sitters with her gung-ho attitude, her hardcore right-wing beliefs….and her genitalia. Great; if those are the main qualifications, why not pick Phyllis Schlafly? She, at least, doesn’t have a new baby at home to distract her.

Honestly now: with dozens of other, more experienced, more qualified, more tested potential female running mates at his disposal, the people running the machinery behind the man decide on the VPilf instead? I can’t really fathom the logic behind it, but then again I can’t really fathom Pro Life death penalty advocates either, so it’s obviously a problem with me.

Just about the only possibly noteworthy thing that has come to my mind about the Palin nomination is the question of whether or not anyone has managed to uncover her blood and tissue type and cross-match it to McCain’s. It is entirely within the realm of conceivability that Palin is on the ticket for the sole purpose of acting as a live organ bank for ol’ President Methuselah. Talk about being one heartbeat away from the Presidency….

And lastly, I’d like to let folks know that the list of cheering stations for the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day is now available online. I’m not 100% sure which station I will be manning, but it will definitely be on Saturday the 13th. Friday I have to work, and Sunday I’ll be at the closing ceremonies to pitch my wife into a wheelbarrow and truck her on home to the hot tub.

Whatever day or time might work for you, if you can manage it, please feel free to come out and show your support for all the walkers, and Margaret in particular. She’ll be the one wearing this shirt:

Many thanks to Bill Saltzstein for permission to use his Blue Footed Booby picture, and to jaunthie for both the initial idea and for making the photo request on our behalf.


The Sociology of Dishes

Filed under: @ 4:09 pm

While emptying the dishwasher this morning I was struck by our collection of coffee mugs. Not struck as in: “Wow what a beautiful selection of artistic dishware!”, but rather: “Damn, that’s an extremely weird mix!”. I’m not sure whether I’m proud, or a little disturbed about the comments we have made about ourselves in choosing and keeping this motley collection.

In our mug cupboard we have the standard collection of hot beverage containers with decorations ranging from the extremely straightforward to the eclectic to the bizarre. In addition, so far as we can recall, we have actually purchased only one of the close to 30 mugs.
When future archeologists sift through the strata that will have once been our kitchen a fairly clear picture of Margaret and Andrew will come forth. And so I wonder….. in the personal spaces that we call our homes, is there some other collection of objects that can, all at once, so well define the personalities, preferences, senses of humor, and political leanings of us as individuals?

So I’m setting up a (very) informal poll of you, the dedicated readers of UADN, regarding your dishware.
What mugs are in your mug cupboard?
How many, and which ones, did you actually purchase?
Which one(s) do you use most often? Why?

In the interests of full disclosure, our cupboard contains:
–two KUOW/Morning Edition mugs that were premiums for donations to our local NPR station
–one Kona mug (gift)
–one Kalapawai Market mug (purchased)
–one U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701 mug (gift)
–one Dr. Science “I know more than you do” mug (gift)
–one Far Side mug (gift)
–one Stonehenge mug (gift)
–one molecular structure of caffeine mug (gift)
–one Valve Software mug (gift)
–one Oregon Shakespeare Festival mug (gift)
–one “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you” mug (gift)
–one “Teamwork, Attitude, Excellence” mug (a premium from my former employer)
–four blue glass mugs, two with snowflakes and two without (gifts)
–one two pint Mason Ball jar mug (adopted as a foundling when it was left in the kitchen of my unit room at Camp Sealth in 1987 I think)
–and, I believe, six insulated travel mugs of which three were NPR premiums and we’re not sure of the genesis of the other three.

But just looking at this list you can put together a pretty decent picture of us can’t you? Kind of a hard question to answer, actually, since the assumption is that the people that read this blog are ones that know us well.

I use the Mason Ball jar mug almost exclusively. I’m not sure why I use it outside of the fact that it fits my hand well (as do many others in the cupboard) and it holds a holy hell of a lot of tea. I’m not much of a dainty cup of tea drinker, I want my tea in good quantities. During the cold months of the year when my tea consumption doubles or more I tend to have one mug in the dining room, one in my study and if it’s very cold I’ll have a third in the bedroom. When I branch out I’ll use the blue glass mugs because they’re bigger than a standard mug.
Andrew tends to favor one or more of the insulated travel mugs, but will take fits of using the Kalapawai mug, the U.S.S. Enterprise mug and the Valve mug.

The world wants to know! (Okay, I want to know!)


The Joys Of Cat Ownership

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:11 pm

Part of the strategy for raising a new kitten (or pair of kittens, in this case) and simultaneously retaining your sanity involves learning to anticipate the unanticipable. Forbearance is the watchword: it’s not possible to think of everything, but the more scenarios you can conjure up—no matter how outlandish they may seem at the time—the better prepared you will be.

A case in point? Why certainly, thanks for asking!

I was fairly groggy this morning; my carpal tunnel syndrome was acting up, which kept my left hand all hot and tingly for much of the wee hours. At 7:20 I hauled my carcass out of bed. I stumbled down the hall to take a leak and, seeing no cats, failed to close the bathroom door.

The time—among other things—passes uneventfully….

I had (thankfully) finished my business but had yet to completely conclude the transaction when Pogo, silent as death and ten times dumber, eeled into the WC on stealthy ninja kitty feet. Before I could flush, he slipped in next to me and jumped up onto the top surface of the toilet to see what all the hubbub was about.

But of course, there was no upper surface to the toilet at that moment; otherwise how would my waste successfully complete its magical journey from self to sewer? Ka-BLOOSH.

Seconds later, now wide awake, I am washing off my highly befuddled, urine-soaked cat under a stream of water in the lavatory sink. Only a supreme act of self-control kept me from simply slamming down the lid and flushing him away with the rest of the bowl’s occupants.

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