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I haven’t done such a hot job of this recently. I’m not sure why.

Given my track record, there should be plenty of stuff to occupy my attention. College football is an obvious one, but not even a 9-0 start by the Buckeyes is enough to get me to sit down and get some stuff posted here.

I have a couple of guesses as to what’s going on. First — I may be experiencing a little bit of blog-fading. That’s a term that was initially applied to podcasters who inexplicably slowed the pace of new shows, sometimes even stopping altogether. You get tired. As of next month, Uncle Crappy’s been around, in one form or another, for four years. That’s a long freaking time. And while I’m not ready to quit — in fact, I’m still looking at new stuff to do, like my own podcast or maybe even an occasional Talkshoe talk show — there’s no question that this can be a difficult thing to maintain. And that’s how I’ve been feeling this fall.

I’m also feeling a little conflicted about what Uncle Crappy should be. When I attended the second Podcamp Pittsburgh in August, I heard one message about social media over and over and over — this is about building and maintaining community. There always has been a little community associated with Uncle Crappy — at least after I outed myself to friends in February 2005 — but I started thinking about what would happen if I wanted to participate in the community that exists here.

To do that, I’d have to become a little less concerned about letting people know who Uncle Crappy is. I’ve done that, to an extent. After Podcamp ended, I opened the door to a couple of Pittsburgh bloggers, who, being the smart folks they are, walked right through. And the world didn’t end. I also opened the same door to a couple of trusted co-workers, and they figured it out as well. Again — no apocalypse.

This means a couple of changes. The political posts of the past — the ones that are most likely to get me in trouble with current employers or potential ones — are in the process of disappearing, from these pages at least. And there won’t be any new rants posted here. I’m in the process of setting up another site, password-protected, that would contain the full Uncle Crappy archives — bleeding-heart liberalism and all — and be the new home to whatever political rants occur to me from this point forward. When it’s ready, a few of you folks who have been here for a long time will receive an email with log-in and password info, if you want to continue to read Uncle Crappy in all his unadulterated glory.

The other part of this has to do with what I’m writing about. Do my new friends in Pittsburgh really want to read daily updates about Ohio State football? Probably not. Will the people who have been reading since 2005 appreciate a steady stream of Pittsburgh-related stuff? Again, I’d guess the answer is likely a no.

What’s the solution? I’m going to do the thing that will make no one but me particularly happy — I’m going to do both. So it’ll be the same as it ever was, but with a little more Pittsburgh-specific stuff thrown in.

And my readership will probably plummet as a result. Whoo!

So. Uncle Crappy’s going to look a little different, but really, not different enough to be concerned about. Most of the stuff will be the same, including rule No. 1 — we’re still not going to name anyone here, especially not me, unless you’re comfortable with outing yourself.

And we’re going to solve the dearth-of-posting problem with an exercise. You may or may not be aware of NaNoWriMo, the shorthand name of National Novel Writing Month, which takes place each November. It’s an exercise where participants try to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month. I’m always blown away by the discipline necessary to even make an attempt, not to mention those who actually finish a novel in 30 days.

And I won’t be doing that.

I may be participating in NaDruWriNi — National Drunken Writing Night — or NaDruBloDa — National Drunk Blogging Day — if I can figure out when they take place. Those I can definitely do.

But that’s not what I’m talking about either.

nablo07_seal.gifNaBloPoMo, or the National Blog Posting Month challenge, is the one I’ll be participating in. It’s simple — you pledge to post once a day through November. Skipping a day just because you feel crappy or you don’t think there’s anything worth writing about isn’t allowed.

I think this workable. It doesn’t require the same level of discipline that writing a fucking novel in one month does — and we all know that Uncle Crappy shouldn’t even think about giving that one a shot — and it apparently doesn’t matter whether I’m drinking or not when I’m putting a post together. In my mind, this sounds perfect — and it should give me enough of a push to kick the funk that kept me from properly ranting about the season Ohio State has been having.

So, boys and girls, let the ranting begin. Tomorrow. On November 1.

calmed down.

Are they gone?

OK. That sounds wrong. I’m grateful that my contribution to the debate over Rhino’s decision to cut off the downloads at their Tapers’ Section got the attention it did. For the second straight week, I’ve found myself a little bewildered over an explosion over a post — and this time, since one came on the heels of Podcamp, I found myself wondering if there’s something I should be doing to capitalize on the influx of newcomers.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to write about Ohio State football.

Yeah. Sorry.

Actually, there are a few things:

  • Before we’re done with the Grateful Dead/Rhino thing, I noticed a couple of other points that should be addressed. Many of the people who posted comments on last week’s Tapers’ Section were content to voice their opinions/concerns about the change; a few, however, were not. There were personal attacks directed at David Gans, who had the nerve to suggest that we be a little patient; there was a discussion about whether people posting were real Deadheads, or who was more of a Deadhead than someone else. I have no desire to bash DG, who’s devoted much of his life to bringing the music to us — and his notion that we relax just a bit is probably good advice. And the whole Deadhead/non-Deadhead/real Deadhead thing is just brainless — if you like the music and have an appreciation for the scene, you can call yourself a Deadhead in my book. One poster went through his entire resume — first show in ’72, 18 kajillion hours on tape, 1,000 shows, etc. — and then tried to convince us he wasn’t bragging. Please. Can we maybe focus on the issue, instead of trying to dismiss someone because he/she didn’t have the good fortune of being born in time to see GD?
  • As far as the actual issue: As I’ve said already, my problem is with the lack of communication. There’s a chance that could be addressed tomorrow morning, when the next installment of the Tapers’ Section is released. I’ll be checking to see what transpires.
  • While The Wife and I were wandering around Saturday afternoon looking at houses, we stopped at 517521 in Bellevue. If you look around in the store long enough, you’re bound to find something you need to take home — and, of course, I did (Fred, you have an awesome gift on the way this weekend). After I settled up, I turned and saw that The Wife was giggling over a stubby little plastic skateboard that was propped up next to a display case. The board was a 1970s-vintage GT Spoiler with a baby-blue deck; she was excited because it was the same skateboard she owned when she was a kid. Before I could chime in — because I owned the same skateboard when I was in grade school — she laughed and said the only difference between the one we were looking at and the one she owned was the color; her board was a neon green. As was mine. It’s a good thing we’re already married. You know, to each other.
  • Anyone else find it interesting that the very summer we decide to finally buy a house in Pittsburgh is the same summer when the mortgage market collapses? Me neither.
  • More good beer in Pittsburgh. We visited the new Rivertowne Pour House in Monroeville last night, and sweet holy jesus, was it good. Make the trip, even if it means suffering detoured Parkway traffic on the weekends.
  • I’ve added new links over there on the right. New Podcamp friends. People I’ve been reading for a while who should have been there a long time ago. One who should post more than once a month (you know who you are). But they’re all worth a read. Go.
  • Podcamp got me thinking about Uncle Crappy’s place in the world. If there is one overriding message to take away from that weekend, it’s that social media is, duh, social — making connections, building community. I’ve largely deprived myself of that aspect of the whole blogging thing … and so I’m thinking about making some changes. There will be more about this later.
  • We’re rapidly heading towards the start of college football season. The Wife and I are talking about the first tailgate. I’m grumbling more and more about the fact that we open with a 1-AA opponent. I’m already thinking about games in late October (Penn State) and early November (Wisconsin) — but, no, coach, I’m not looking ahead. On Friday, I bought the bottle that will serve as our toasting liquid this season (oh, it’s going to be good…). It’ll be perfect — just as I start working to make Uncle Crappy a little more relevant to Pittsburgh, I start with this year’s edition of the All-Ohio-State-All-The-Time format.
  • Hm. Maybe if I mention Steely McBeam a little more often…


Pittsburgh changed popular culture last week. Twice.

Both instances are related to the Pittsburgh Podcamp sessions I attended with a wonderful assortment of geeks and geniuses (I am technically neither, although I’m a wannabe both) at the Art Institute. The first one we can’t really take credit for, but the Burgh was its epicenter nonetheless. iJustine’s video about her 300-page iPhone bill was THE hot internet video of the moment, racking up more than 3 million views since she posted it early Monday. For the uninitiated, Justine is runs her own Web design and marketing business; she also has her hand in nearly every possible social media opportunity available, including on, where she broadcasts her life around the clock.

She had deal with the kind of backlash that is probably inevitable when you’re a pretty, blonde 23-year-old working in the tech biz. I can’t say I know her, but after talking with her a couple times last week, my impression is that she is anything but dumb. She also seems genuinely nice and was certainly accomodating to all us media types — besides me, there was all the other local print and broadcast media, as well as a dizzying array of letters: CNN, Fox, ABC, NPR, AP, etc. — who have been pestering her from Tuesday on. How can you hate on that?

And if you’re one of the dozen or so people on the planet who hasn’t yet seen the phone bill video, you can find it here.

The other thing? Bacn. The term, coined during one of the Saturday sessions, is fairly simple — it’s those emails that you want, but don’t really have time for right now. Not quite spam, which you don’t want at all, but bacn. Google alerts? Facebook updates? Twitter follower messages? All bacn.

Since Saturday, bacn is sweeping the internets. It’s already No. 2 on Google, if you skip past a handful of acronyms. There’s already a site dedicated to the term. It’s everywhere — and it started here.

I picked up plenty of other good stuff at Podcamp as well, things that will help both personally and professionally. It was a great weekend, and I’ll keep attending as long as Justin, who might just be the smartest man in Pittsburgh, and his crew keep putting them on. Thanks, y’all…


I’ve been thoroughly immersed in the blogging world all week, but not to the degree that I’ve had a ton of time to pay attention to Uncle Crappy. It’s work stuff, and if you’re curious, let me know — it’ll be kind of a different story, and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction once it’s ready.

And it’ll be ready, at least on my end, by Wednesday morning. That’s right, boys and girls — I took the rest of the week off. Not going anywhere, not doing much — just making sure I have the proper amount of time to get prepped for Ratdog and the Allmans Wednesday night. Thursday is for recovery — and for other low-stress activities, like talking with bank people about mortgages. Yikes.

This weekend should be pretty nice too, but in a different way — I’ll be at the second Podcamp Pittsburgh, a discussion of all things related to new media and how it applies to both Uncle Crappy’s goal of total world domination — and the almost-as-important goal of being so good at this shit that I’ll be employable at newspapers until I’m ready to retire. If you’re reading this from someplace in the Pittsburgh area, you should check it out — last year I attended only two sessions but got a ton of information from them. If you have any interest at all, you’ll find something in the schedule you’ll appreciate.

And as long as we’re discussing readers from the Pittsburgh area … I’ve noticed continued interest in Uncle Crappy from local IP addresses I don’t recognize, something that spiked last week with the whole Steely McBeam thing. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to maintain that interest — once I start blabbing about Ohio State football, it may drop precipitously — but I’m at least going to give it a shot. And I’m going to do that by making sure I mention the name Steely McBeam whenever I can.


OK. Me and YouTube made nice. Sort of.

The heavily compressed version of the video is up, after nearly a full day of teeth-grinding, swearing and fucking around with various computers. It’s a little disappointing, because the quality of the compressed version really suffers — although not to the degree that you’ll miss the point.

And I’m still holding on to my opinion that in my admittedly limited experience, YouTube’s support system sucks. There is nothing in the help pages that addressed my problem, and the notion that their user support staff might get back to you at some point is complete bullshit.

But if I’m going to do this — and I intend to, as part of my plot to one day completely dominate the entire internet — I’m going to have to figure out some of this stuff for myself. Because, apparently, YouTube isn’t going to be much help.

Anyway. Here it is. Go. And let me know — both there and here — what you think.


This is a completely accidental post, based on a completely accidential video I shot with our digital camera while The Wife and I were out looking at houses today. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been curious about several homes in the Mexican War Streets and the surrounding area. Because of the right streets — and parking difficulties — we thought it would be easier to scope out some places if we brought our bikes along for the trip.

At one point, she veered to the right off Jacksonia and charged up a steep cobblestone hill. She eventually gave up and walked her bike up to the top but I — being not quite as bright as she — kept riding. That explains the panting you hear when I accidentally started up the video function on the camera — which I was holding in my right hand — as I started back down. You’ll see the rest, including divine intervention by a deity who looks like he’s just visited Fantastic Sam’s.

This is Uncle Crappy’s first foray into the video world, boys and girls. My real-life alter ego has been up on YouTube for about a month now, but this is the first one that I’m directly responsible for — even if it was an accident. It’s a brave new world, and I anticipate more activity like this in the very near future.

As soon as we find a house or something.

YouTube says it can take a while for newly uploaded videos to show up on their pages. When I get up in the morning, I’ll post a link right here.

UPDATE, July 15: It all sounded so simple last night.

But YouTube has proved to be an enormous pain in the ass. I’ve uploaded the clip six times; each time it uploads successfully but then fails somewhere in the YouTube processing part of the equation. And this is after ensuring the clip meets their size restrictions and is in one of their supported formats.

Their help section isn’t especially helpful, and if you send them an email with a question, they tell you they might get back to you. Fuckers.

I’d love to be part of YouTube, but if this is a good example of their interface, Uncle Crappy is going to be taking his videos — and his massive audience — elsewhere.

UPDATE, a little later, July 15: It failed again. Everyone who has ever been associated with YouTube can go fuck themselves.

UPDATE, a while later, July 15: OK. I compressed the hell out of the video — even though the original was well within YouTube’s size limits — and added some text and stuff. It’s uploaded, and we’re waiting to see if YouTube is going to crap out on me once again. If it does, you’ll be able to hear Uncle Crappy cursing YouTube from miles away. If it doesn’t, a link will be posted here shortly.