Filed under: @ 8:00 am

tennis elbow?!
it’s 30 years or more since i’ve touched a tennis racquet and yet the hand specialist says that the ouchie elbow thing that has been tormenting me for weeks is effin’ tennis elbow?!
i don’t make enough money to have a snooty complaint like tennis elbow.

but it doesn’t matter really, that’s what the hand specialist says. actually he says “lateral epicondylitis” which does sound a bit less snooty.
and in the relief of same he’s injected cortisone around the tendon that passes over the lateral epicondyle of my left ulna.

he said yesterday that at first i’d not thank him for the cortisone injection since initially it would increase the pressure and inflammation of that area and y’know….. he was right. once the local anesthetic he poked in with the cortisone wore off my left elbow has been, by far, the most noticeable part of my body. 😯 i think you could probably see my bloody left elbow from space. DEEP space.

so i’m to spend the weekend with my arm in a sling wearing slip on shoes, and pants with elastic waistbands since i can’t tie my shoes and i can’t manage buttons or zippers. and you, my friends and family, are the proud perusers (if that’s a word) of the very first UADN post done entirely in hunt and peck with one hand.

it’s amazing what one can do with only one hand. and really, really, really frustrating to find out what i can’t dowithout my left hand.

anyone want an elbow? i’ve got one i can let go cheap.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2009

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 5:00 pm

This year’s Pumpkin Pogrom was, by all appearances, another hit.


Much chili, beer, coffee and junk food were consumed, and by all recordable measures a good time seemed to be had by all.

We had a couple of firsts this year, chief of which being the presence of my venerable Mom and Dad, who seemed rather impressed with the motley assortment of geeks, kooks, waifs and wastrels with whom we associate. Second of the firsts—um—yeah, anyway—was the presence of friend Anne and her boyfriend, who, being from Wales, had never carved a pumpkin for a Jack-O’-Lantern. Tradition in Wales and much of the rest of the surrounding area is to make them out of turnips, which he assured us are a damn sight harder to carve. Did rather well, too.

Anyway, thanks to all who came out to participate and help make the evening memorable. If you were not among those invited this year, please accept my apologies. We had something like twenty people over this year, at the same time that we were hosting my ‘rents for a few days’ stay. As it was, our carpets were heard to be whimpering softly to themselves well into the wee hours of the morning.


The Harvest Moon

Filed under: @ 3:37 pm

I haven’t the faintest when the actual harvest moon occurs, but this is the time of year when I start to get the urge to tally up the garden produce in some odd attempt, I suppose, to assure myself that spring will come again.
I’ve always said so, but I guess it really is true that I personally was meant to hibernate.
So starting from the top down…
Grapes? Check.
Lots of grapes. Lots and lots and lots of grapes. Raisins in the pantry, bags of grapes in the freezer waiting to be made into grape jelly (anyone want some grape jelly? I’ve still got some from last summer….).
Loganberries? Yep.
Stewed loganberries in the freezer. I’m going to make jam with some, Andrew is going to experiment with meat glazes and salad dressings with others. Next year we’ve got plans to have fresh berry salads.
Rhubarb? Oi.
Despite pounds in the freezer I was still harvesting rhubarb in SEPTEMBER for god’s sake. I really do have a mutant garden.
Potatoes? Plenty.
From about five pounds of seed potatoes I harvested about thirty pounds of Cranberry Reds, Yukon Golds, All Blue, Russian Banana fingerlings, and a small, white, round variety that I’ve never been able to classify since they’re still volunteers from the plants that Irv and Mabel grew when they lived here.
Onions? Ditto.
Most of the Walla Wallas ended up as flavoring in the green tomato pickles since they don’t store well and they were getting close to rotting on us. They’re absolutely delightful as such so I’m still going to plant them next spring even though I mostly plant onions with the idea of having storage onions for the winter. Plenty of those, too, although next year I think I might try a different subspecies since the Copras are awfully small. A gallon jug of pickled Cippolinis thank you very much. I’m hopelessly addicted to pickled Cippolinis. A two quart jar of mixed dried Cippolinis and dried leeks. I dried the ones I did because for some reason a lot of them bolted and the centers were too woody for either fresh eating or pickling. The dried onions are delightful in (or on) hamburgers and meat loaf.
Pickled beans, frozen beans, dried beans. Black beans that is. Enough Scarlet Runner beans for seeds for next year (the hummingbirds love the flowers) and hopefully next year there’ll be enough beans to harvest for soup.
Two 2 quart bags of frozen currants, black, red, and a few gooseberries. I’m going to try again to make a decent currant jelly. The stuff is gorgeous and I love it, but the last time I tried it I boiled the syrup for too long and it turned into a brownish gunk with the adhesive qualities of whatever it is they use to keep the heat shield tiles on the space shuttles.
Dried tomatoes (they’re gorgeous!), pickled green tomatoes, frozen stewed tomatoes. Next year I might try making tomato chutney, but since we both adore the tomatoes fresh, I may not ever have enough ripe tomatoes to chutney.
I am not sure why, but the raspberries fizzled entirely. I’m working at replacing our red raspberry patch with a black raspberry patch. My parents keep bringing me black raspberry starts from their patch, which they frequently have to keep under control with things like machetes and flame throwers, so I’m hopeful that as these babies mature I’ll start to have raspberries again. Andrew is passionately fond of raspberries.
Lots of herbs. Lots and lots and LOTS of herbs. I don’t ever dry rosemary, the rosemary bush is so convenient to the kitchen. I have plenty of dried sage though, since the sage that one can pick in the winter is a little squashy and of poorer flavor than that which you pick in the summer. I’m currently babying a French tarragon plant with the hopes that it’ll be able to overwinter and be a big, burly French tarragon plant next spring. I got enough lemon verbena to keep me in tea over the winter and the stevia should be sufficient for the winter as well. I’m up to my eyeballs in mint, lemon (or lime) balm, and winter savory and I got my first batch of marjoram off of the golden marjoram plant that I put out last summer. I’m very pleased with the golden marjoram. Also chives. Lots of chives. Dried chives in the pantry, fresh chives out front to be snipped when a chive and parmesan omelet is required (mmm, chive and parmesan omelet….).
The fall peas are doing well, but they’re subject to slugs and they just don’t have the flavor that spring peas do. I may just continue to focus on spring peas.
We’ve eaten our way through the two quarts of pickled spring beets. The fall beets are looking fantastic, especially after the recent rain, and since they’re doing so well I’m going to try again with beet seeds next spring.
The cantaloupes are, of course, finished, but I did run one through the dehydrator so I’ll have a teeny, tiny batch of dried cantaloupe to savor over the winter.
I’m going to have to try pumpkins again next year. I think this year’s plants were too crowded or they didn’t have enough organic matter in the dirt (note to self, the topsoil that is sold commercially is NOT adequate for gardening). There are a few pumpkins for carving and I ended up with enough sugar pumpkins for the annual pumpkin cheesecake, but beyond that the pumpkins kind of fizzled.
And I’m not sure whether or not it counts as ‘harvest’ since it’s not for edible, or at least not human edible, purposes, but we ended up with a LOT of sunflowers. I didn’t harvest the seeds this year because I’ve still got a half gallon yogurt container of seeds left over from LAST year (or the year before, I can’t remember), but we’re having a ton of fun watching the squirrels scale the sunflower stems, chew off the mature seed heads and run off with them. If the leavings are any indication, I may end up with a whole forest of squirrel planted sunflowers next year. Little buggers are leaving them all over both in front and in back. I’m also pleased to report that the squirrels are climbing over the back fence and eating their sunflower heads in the undeveloped lots behind our property. There was a pretty decent crop of sunflowers back there this summer and next summer should be even better.
A good summer, a good harvest. I hope it’s enough to keep me occupied over the winter.



Filed under: @ 9:25 am

Granted, something I’m not quite sure of having happened to my cucumber vines, I only got about two cucumbers this year so we’re not talking pickled cucumbers, but by god, pickles they are.
I’ve been working over the last few years at modifying and personalizing my aunt Doris’ recipe for green tomato pickles. Possibly because they were one of the foods that my mother craved while pregnant (after Matt was born Dad actually threatened open revolt if Mom brought another bottle of green tomato pickles into the house) I’ve always been rather fond of green tomato pickles. I guess the genes for food preference run deep.
Doris’ recipe is a little plain and, as I found the first time I used it, quite salty and VERY pungent. The first batch I made to Doris’ plan stayed around for years before we plowed our way through them. Since we’ve been in this house, that is, since I’ve yearly had the tomato patch from the Black Lagoon, I’ve had the chance to tweak and modify and this year’s batch is DAMN good.
As part of preparing for Joan & Tony’s visit next week I’ve been spending most of the last three days doing my version of fall house cleaning. Those of you who garden will understand why picking green tomatoes and making pickles counts as cleaning house. For those who don’t garden I will offer as explanation that today my house cleaning chores will also include raking leaves and sweeping the driveway. It’s a perversion, I’ll admit.
Anyway I ended up with about two gallons of hard green tomatoes. As the years go by and my garden matures I’m getting closer and closer to my goal of having my pickles all be home grown. This year I managed the tomatoes, the beans, and the onions. I’ll have to remember to plant more Walla Walla sweet onions next year, I think they’re going to be the best choice for further batches of ANY type of pickle. Next year the garlic patch out front will be big enough to supply my pickling needs, I’ll have another chance to work on growing my own ginger, and I’ll be finally finished with the frozen dill that I bought two years ago so my pickles will have home grown dill too. When I get around to making my own vinegar y’all will know for sure that I’ve officially lost it.
I tend to make my pickle brine based on whim.
This year the tomato pickles ended up with a base of white vinegar sweetened up and cut down with red wine vinegar and just a touch of balsamic. Add about half a cup of pickling salt, about a quarter cup of brown sugar, a whiff of garlic (okay, more than a whiff…. MUCH more than a whiff), a righteous chunk of ginger and if I must say so myself
If the fragments of pickled onion that I snorfed down while getting the jars packed before sealing them are any indication, these are going to mature into some truly serious pickles. Please come over to taste!


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 9:13 pm

My blog has been up and down like a yo-yo for about a week now. I was twigged to it when my friend Scot reported being unable to reach Uncle Andrew dot Net. At first it seemed as though something bad had happened to my installation of Apache, so I un- and reinstalled it, which took a while. That’s okay; gave me the chance to upgrade to the newest stable versions of Apache, MySQL and PHP while I was at it. Never hurts to juice up the system with the newest releases. Okay, so sometimes it hurts, and on rare occasions it outright kills. But this was not one of those occasions.

However, after a few hours of installing, configuring and tweaking the brainstem of my Web server—the hours of 12:00am to 3:00am on a weekday, to be more precise—it turned out that the actual problem was my firewall software.

Now, technically, a blog being served out from a perch safely NATed behind a router that is itself a firewall appliance, on a machine that is filtering all incoming traffic through its own (admittedly rudimentary) firewall, should be fairly secure. I say “fairly” because no computer is ever totally secure, just like no sex is ever totally “safe”. But that much preemptive filtration should be well enough to keep the script kiddies from getting much of anywhere with my machine, and the true black hats would hardly be interested in fucking around with some random jackass and his piddly online soapbox. But I run too many services from this box (and therefore too many port-forwards through my firewall) to feel totally comfortable exposing my tender pink interfaces to the outside world without some extra medicine on board. It’s not enough to be all but certain that I’ve got the majority of my sphincters puckered; I want a second opinion, and firewall software can be a good resource for this. Cheaper than hiring a forensic network specialist to sit in my office with me and hold my hand.

Up till recently I was using Checkpoint Software’s Zone Alarm Pro, which—up until recently—I found to be an excellent and full-featured piece of security ‘ware. Problem is, something just started going wrong with it recently. I really don’t know what the problem was, but parts of the network driver add-ons that ZA installs started causing problems, most notably intermittent network shutdowns and—hilariouser still—random Blue Screens of Death. No amount of un/reinstalling, conflict hunting or system simplification would keep my system stable. So I chucked Zone Alarm and have been evaluating a few different packages since. One or more of these packages were more trouble than they were worth, which accounts for some of the other unexpected outages here at UAdN.

I think I’ve found a potential winner, but for the sake of paranoia I will refrain from naming the product, lest it come up later as having some heretofore unreported vulnerability that someone might exploit by Googling the name looking for those who use it. Yes, that’s highly unlikely, I know. But it helps me to sleep at night. Well, that and Benadryl.

If anyone has any recommendations of their own for reasonably-priced network security software for a home mail/Web server, I’d be delighted to hear about it. I’m always willing to tap the pool of knowledge resident in the vast herd of nerds that make up my social web. :mrgreen:


October’s Worse Than January

Filed under: @ 4:28 pm

With the birth of Renee & John’s new daughter VERY early yesterday morning our total count for October celebrations is at nine. That’s one birthday or anniversary every 3 days, for those that are counting.

Allow me to be the first to say (very deep inhale)
Happy birthday (October 2)
Happy birthday (October 4)
Happy birthday (October 7)
Happy birthday (October 8th) {I had to put in the “th” after the number on this one because otherwise it turns out like this 8) }
Happy birthday (October 9)
Happy birthday (October 10)
Happy birthday (October 14)
Happy anniversary (October 17)
Happy birthday (October 20).

gasp gasp gasp.

Happy birthday y’all. Gonna take a lot of breath to blow out all those candles.

My, I Amuse Myself

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:36 am

Whilst exchanging emails with a couple of friends, I came up with an observation I just had to share.

Just about everyone is cognizant of the “tramp stamp“, that thankfully-slightly-less-ubiquitous-than-previously lower back tattoo of the young, drunk and judgement-impaired.

Wouldn’t a “Biohazard” symbol be the ultimate tramp stamp? 😀


Notes From Flatland

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:07 pm

[I wrote this while waiting for my flight to arrive during a recent business trip. I fully intended to publish this from the airport as well, but Boingo Wireless’s equipment does not seem to like my Macbook’s packet radio card, so I had to wait until I got home to do so.]

Stuck as I am in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport for a few hours, I thought I’d take a passel of moments to regale avid readers of Uncle Andrew dot Net with the tales, trials and travails of my trip to scenic Pontiac, Illinois for our catalog press check.

Our Winter 2009/Spring 2010 catalog is being printed by RR Donnelley, a rather large conglomerate of various printing facilities seeded throughout this great land of ours. This is our first project with them, and by and large everything has gone quite smoothly. As is usually the case with large, expensive or crucial printing projects (this happens to be all three), we have elected to send a representative—me—to the site of the printing to oversee the process.

The facility RRD is printing our catalog at is in Pontiac, about 120 miles south of Chicago. It’s easy to forget that much of Illinois is highly agrarian until you are driving through it. Take a look at a satellite view of the area and you’ll see what I mean about “agrarian”; practically the entire state looks like a patchwork quilt of farm plots. Along much of I-55, densely packed fields of corn appear to stretch to the horizon on either side of the road. Amplifying the effect is the flatness, the unrelenting, mind-croggling flatness. My brother-in-law once stated that Central Illinois is the only place he’d ever been where you could get road hypnosis simply looking out the living room window. At one point, a series of girdered towers supporting strands of multi-hundred-kilowatt power lines marched across the highway and into the distance, like an advancing skirmish line of War Of The Worlds shock troops. They gradually vanished into the light haze of atmospheric distortion….or possibly over the curvature of the Earth. All in all, once you’ve left the manmade megaliths of Chicago proper, driving through Illinois is basically a traverse through a seemingly limitless expanse of miles and miles of miles and miles.

I found myself thinking that perhaps the state could avail itself of some of the federal stimulus money and buy itself a Z axis.

Pontiac is little more than a wide place in the road, a farm town and railway whistle-stop that just happens to be ideally located for plonking down a rather impressive sheetfed web-offset printing facility. Land prices are doubtless extremely reasonable, and I imagine that the Town Fathers were willing to offer just about any concession—up to and including virgin sacrifice—to secure that kind of industry. From the looks of it, choices in employment in Greater Metropolitan Pontiac are restricted to farming or working at the Wal-Mart (of course there’s a Wal-Mart). The RR Donnelley facility must employ at least sixty or seventy-five people, at a more than appreciable average wage for that community.

(On the subject of the Scuzzy W, something that I noticed since my last trip to Central Illinois many years ago: the Wal-Mart to Hardee’s ratio has drastically altered over time. It used to be that you couldn’t find a Wal-Mart in a community without also encountering at least a brace of Hardee’ses [Hardi?] as well. At the time, Margaret and I concluded that the two enterprises coexisted in a predator/prey relationship, the spry and wily Hardi forming packs to track and consume the larger, slower Wal-Marts. Or perhaps the Hardi served a function more closely akin to that of a remora, affixing themselves to the host in order to make the most of its leavings—presumably soiled Pampers and discarded RV tires, which would go a long way towards explaining the quality of the food served therein. Whatever the real answer, there was not a Hardee’s to be found in Pontiac, despite the all-too-evident presence of the prey/host organism [Wal-Mart is by far the tallest thing in town; you can practically see it over the horizon. Then again, you can practically see folks’ mailboxes over the horizon too. In summary, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the place is FLAT]. What this indicates about the delicate retail ecosystem of the Midwest is not for me to say.)

Aside from the relative dearth of employment opportunities, the town of Pontiac is one of those storybook-cute farm towns you see all over the United States, anywhere where folks can convince things to grow that other folks can be convinced to buy. Long shady tree-lined lanes, peak-roof houses, small cozy churches, friendly local diners (the main one in Pontiac is called “Baby Bull’s”; great place for a steak, unsurprisingly). And not a decent cup of coffee to be had for love or money. Really, this is just about the last place on earth to be entirely Starbucks-free, much less any local independent gourmet coffee shops. You want that kind of highfalutin’ city slicker shit, gotta go to Bloomington.

I’m being snarky here, but it’s not like I don’t understand that this is the way folks in Pontiac and countless other small American communitites would seem to like it. And that’s great: not everywhere on the planet wants or needs espresso stands, comic-book shops, computer and electronic parts stores and a good spot for Unagi or a Caterpillar Roll. But I do. In fact, I don’t think it’s out of the question to identify these things as a requirement, a staple of survival as vital—for me—as shelter or fire. More than a few days’ abstinence from any two of these things and I’m likely to go into withdrawal. And for those in Pontiac who want a touch of the exotic, the aforementioned Bloomington is only about thirty miles away, and they have at least three of the crucial amenities I listed above. Haven’t tried any sushi there, but I’d be willing to give it a stab. Might stay away from the fugu, though.

Anyway, despite the fifth or sixth worst night of sleep I’ve had in my life (just don’t sleep well in hotels, particularly the day before something important), the press check went extremely well, and I topped off my visit with a quick picnic lunch in a small local park. Folks were out walking their dogs in the crisp but perfectly lovely October sunshine, others were playing with their children or slowly paddling down the lazy Chautauqua River that runs through the community. All in all a positively idyllic scene. At least until the guy in the meshback cap and bracers started bellowing to someone out on the river about health care and the economy, at which point I wadded up my sandwich wrapper and got the fuck out of Dodge—sorry, Pontiac.

Since I didn’t know how long the press check was going to take—I’ve had them last better than two days at times—I scheduled myself for a flight back to Seattle on Tuesday (the day after rather than the day of the press check), with an overnight stay in Chicago, which I’ve never visited except for the airport. Chicago is a surprisingly easy town to get around in by car. I hear it’s also a great town for transit, but since I didn’t feel like paying a cab driver eight hundred dollars to take me to Pontiac, I already had a rental car in my possession, so I decided to keep using it. Heading out for a little dinner, I decided to take the opportunity to sample the famous Giordano’s Stuffed Crust Pizza. I had experienced the stuff sort of second-hand when a friend and Chicago native had some shipped here for a pizza party (we also sent some to my nephew and his wife after the birth of their kid, figuring they had enough cards and balloons to last them for a good long while), but I wanted to try it as it was meant to be eaten—fresh off the vine, so to speak. I found a location in the Irving Park area and struck out in a quest for pie.

Chicago seems to have a lot of just the kind of roads I like, namely “back-“. I never take a trip on one highway when I can take six surface streets instead, and getting around the greater Des Plaines/Chicago area on the local roads was a real adventure, particularly since the Chicago DOT seems to repave their highways and byways once every hundred years whether they need it or not. In addition to tooth-loosening potholes, the trip to Giordano’s featured everything from charming tree-lined boulevards to what would pass for slums in the minds of a lot of spoiled whiteys such as myself, but were probably just mid-to-lower-working-class apartments. I found the restaurant with a couple of false starts, parked on the street and went inside to some of the best pizza I have ever eaten (though my heart—and my gut—will always belong to Peppinos): cheesy, gooey, with a wonderful flavorful crushed-tomato sauce and an amazing, almost pastry-like crust. Outstanding.

All in all a great dining experience, which really helped to ameliorate the fact that, upon leaving the restaurant, I discovered that my rental car had been sideswiped by a Chicago Transit Authority bus while I was eating. Harold, the bus driver, was forced into my car by another motorist who attempted to merge into his lane. Rather than stay where he was and bounce her into oncoming traffic, he pulled to the right, clipping the front of my car in the process. I know all this because Harold, bless his heart, waited in his bus for over an hour for me to get back to my car so he could explain the circumstances. He and I had a nice chat while we waited for the police to arrive. Even now I find myself positively charmed by Harold’s earnestness, his honesty and his unflappable demeanor in the face of what must have been a really long, really boring wait for little expected return. Assuming that the CTA covers the damage to my vehicle without complaint, I will be writing them a glowing note regarding his job performance.

After I and my wounded Hyundai got back to the hotel, I found out from the concierge that there was a Giordano’s around the corner, about a thousand yards from where I was staying. How do you say “D’oh!” in a Chicago accent?

Anyway, the next day I returned my slightly-worse-for-wear rental car and headed off to the airport, where I remain to this very minute. I made sure to give myself plenty of time in case Budget wanted to subject me to enhanced interrogation techniques regarding the accident, but they seemed pretty satisfied with a copy of the police report. That gave me  p l e n t y  of time to take in the fleshpots of O’Hare Airport, which, truth be told, are in fact fairly fleshy. I was able to grab a decent cup of coffee to go with my Chicago-Style Philly (?) from Giordano’s, and sit around on some of the more comfy airport benches I’ve ever encountered whilst gnawing on my nosh and assembling this entry. Some day soon I expect to board my flight and bid fond adieu to the Midwest, returning home to my sweetie, my cats and my Tempur-Pedic mattress.

Tap, tap, tap….there’s no place like home….


Honest, it doesn’t bother me if you ask

Filed under: @ 10:51 am

Very, VERY soon after I got my DVM I realized that my professional life was going to be inextricably entwined with my personal life.
I wasn’t but three or four days past graduation when a neighbor came knocking at the door of our trailer in the wheat field next door to the Whitman County landfill outside of Pullman. Their cat, he said, had gotten into it with a coyote (looking back on this I can tell you for sure it wasn’t a coyote that their cat had fought with, but that is beyond the point) and had an abscess. The farmer that owned the property on which our trailer sat had told him that I was now a veterinarian and could I come and help? At that point I was so new in my profession that my DVM still squeaked when I turned around too quickly, I was unemployed, worried about my future, and bored out of my skull sitting in our trailer in the middle of a wheat field. OF COURSE I would come and help their cat.
There wasn’t a lot I ended up being able to do. The neighbor held the cat down while I opened the abscess, expressed out the goo, and flushed it as best I could with hydrogen peroxide (and why the cat didn’t immediately eat his owner in an attempt to get away is still beyond me, but that, too, is beyond the point). I told the neighbor that the cat really needed antibiotics, but since I didn’t yet have an official license I couldn’t prescribe anything. Despite my protests he insisted on handing me a $20 for my help.
Having cut my teeth on James Herriot, I was certain that my veterinary career was off to a roaring start.
I got a job, we moved, and I started learning that the realities of modern veterinary medicine are NOT like what is detailed in James Herriot. One of the most major differences being that there are, in most communities, after hours emergency veterinary hospitals so those people whose pets had medical problems when I wasn’t in the office had no real reason to call and wake me at godawful hours of the morning.
Granted that the definition of godawful changes based on the person and the day in question, but in my case the next experience I had with having my professional life interfere with my personal life was the idiot that called me at 0630 on a Sunday. It was a sometime client of the hospital that I worked for, I had seen her dog once. She had found my home phone number in the phone book and had called me because her dog had been vomiting all night. When I, somewhat testily, told her that she should call the local ER, she told me that she’d already talked to them and that she didn’t like what they had told her (again, the voice of experience now tells me that they told her that she’d have to have the dog examined before they could help him at all and that she didn’t want to pay for an exam, but like I said before, it’s all beyond the point). Having been yanked out of sleep at 0630 on a weekend and having had the instinctive reaction that everyone has at getting a telephone call at an unreasonable hour on a weekend, i.e. that the telephone was ringing to inform me of something drastic having happened to a family member, I was a little less than pleasant when I told the silly twit that I couldn’t help her, that I (big fat lie) didn’t even have a key to the hospital and I couldn’t go and see her dog. I slammed the phone down and called the telephone company to have my number changed and de-listed.
As an aside…. I have maintained a de-listed telephone number since that day. When I moved from Olympia a lot of my former clients were looking for me and since I hadn’t told my then ex-employer where I was going to be going they weren’t able to relay any information to people who called to get appointments specifically with me. Matt, whose initials of course, match mine, lived in Olympia as well and did have a listed telephone number at that point. He told me later that he had received more than a few phone calls from people who had seen the M. Hammond in the phone book and called him to see whether or not he was me. Loyal brother that he is he didn’t tell any of them that he was my brother and told them all to piss off.
We moved to Burien and ended (shudder) in a neighborhood where we did NOT fit. Large numbers of dogs in the neighborhood, large numbers of whom wandered the neighborhood all day. Next door neighbor who thought it was a good idea to scoop the dog crap out of his yard and dump it in a corner of ours (“But Aaron never minded it when I did it when HE lived there!”). Next door neighbor whose two large lab type dogs roamed all day whose daughter crowed to her mother in my hearing “Mom! Buddy got into a fight with another dog and I played that I was the veterinarian and put a band aid on his cut!”. I decided early on in our time living there that NO ONE in the neighborhood would know what I did for a living.
I’m not sure how the neighbors learned what I did although since I did work close and at the only local emergency hospital I’m sure that someone saw me or my car at work and at home and then put the pieces together. The one time that ended up being a nuisance was, in hindsight, almost laughable.
A few months after we had moved in I was at work and a large and aggressive dog managed to pop his muzzle off and nail me in the shoulder and upper arm. I ended up at the local ER where they cleaned the wounds, gave me a tetanus shot, and filled me full of antibiotics and pain killers. By the time I finally got home I felt, and this is not exaggeration, like death warmed over. Thanks to the tetanus shot my un-bitten left arm was swollen and throbbing, I was bruised and swollen from clavicle to elbow and oozing serum and iodine antiseptic solution from my right arm, and the combination of antibiotics and pain killers had made me so dizzy I could hardly stand. I was lying in bed watching the ceiling spin and hoping that I’d just throw up and get it over with when someone came banging frantically at the front door. Andrew got up to answer the door and found a gaggle of neighborhood urchins with a kitten. The kids said that the kitten had been treated with dog flea control product the previous afternoon and had been having seizures ever since. Their parents had told them that a veterinarian lived here and couldn’t I come out and save their kitty? Andrew was beautiful. I heard the front door slam and Andrew rumbling then he came back inside and they left. He’d told them, he said, that I was sick and that I was a VETERINARIAN not a veterinary HOSPITAL, that I had no capacity to help their kitten at home even if I wasn’t sick, and if their kitten was so sick that they were coming to bother me that they should just save some time and have their parents take it down to the local emergency hospital. Whatever impression he made on them at the time it seemed to stick. Outside of having constant problems with barking and shitting dogs, we never had anyone from the neighborhood disturb us again.
In the neighborhood where we currently live I would doubt that there are more than three or four people who know what I do. A benefit, certainly, I have colleagues whose neighbors have presumed in every conceivable way on their professional capacity.
Family and friends, of course, ALL know what I do. And this brings us to the point of today’s missive. In 15 years of practice I have ONCE been bothered by having family or friends impose on my professional capacity. It was a friend of a friend type situation where my home phone number was given to someone I’d never heard of and I was called at home by a perfect stranger to discuss breeding poodles. After I pitched my snit at the dude on the end of the phone I called the perpetrators and pitched my snit at them. For family and friends I will always be available for veterinary advice. For casual acquaintances I will NOT. I treat my parents’ dog, my brother’s cats (both in person and over the phone). I’ve offered advice for in-laws and cousins, I’ve aided in referrals for friends. So y’all really don’t have to worry about asking. If you’re one of the few who knows my home phone number or my personal e-mail address you’re in. Be assured that I will give you my honest opinion, and the best options available to you under the circumstances. It’s incredibly liberating to be able to offer my opinions without first sugar coating them in professional-talk. And don’t worry, if you annoy me by asking I’ll be sure to let you know. Just don’t call me at 0630 on a Sunday. 😀

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