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Bullet Sunday 488

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Dave!There's hope for 2017, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Love! The reason I managed to get through 2016 was because I have a lot of internet friends holding my virtual hand. People can diminish online friendships all they want, but the people on the other end of the screen matter to me, and the importance of those relationships cannot be understated. There were days that they were all I had, and I'll always be grateful. As we head into 2017, I'm guessing a lot of people are going to be relying on an online community to get through. Here in the US we essentially elected a license to hate and, though hate is nothing new, there are already signs that it is escalating to a frightening degree. Maybe it's because of how you worship. Maybe it's because your skin color. Maybe it's because of your sex. Maybe it's because of who you love. Maybe it's because of where you live. Maybe it's because of how much money you have... or, more likely, don't have. People can be horrible to each other, and choosing to be kind in the face of that is going to mean the world to somebody out there. Keeping that in mind as you interact online in the coming days is vital. I'll be paying it forward by trying my best.

   
• Help! All that being said, if you're in the US, need help, and can't find the support you need, there are places you can call free of charge...

Get the support you deserve. There are fellow humans wanting to help.

   
• Inspiration! Here's Simon Sinek on why good leaders make us feel safe...

We can all be good leaders for each other.

   
• Sleeping! How Jake Sleeps...

Jake Sleeping in a Very Odd Position

Meanwhile... I can be laying in the most comfortable bed on planet earth and still not be able to sleep.

   
• Roast! The late Carrie Fisher was damn funny on top of being talented, beautiful, and brilliant. This video of her roasting George Lucas has been making the rounds is undeniable proof of all of it...

And here she is on Harrison Ford...

Miss you, Carrie.

   
• New THRICE! Hey... did you know that the latest issue of THRICE Fiction has been released? And did you know that you can download the issue for FREE? If you didn't, now you do! If you did and didn't believe it, I'm here to tell you it's all true! Head over the ThriceFiction.com and grab it!

Thrice Fiction Magazine Issue No. 18

   
• More Simon! I catch shit every time I mention how tough it is to hire from the crop of Millennials that have permeated the work force. Every time I'm told "The generation before us complained about us, the generation before them complained about them... it goes on and on, and dumping on Millennials is just continuing a tradition." Which is probably true... but when it comes to THE ACTUAL WORK... to interacting with people to complete a task... Millennials can pose problems unlike anything else that's come before. Simon Sinek has completely nailed it in this video, which is so worth your valuable time to watch...

What's interesting to me is how NON-Millennials are adopting the habits of Millennials which Sinek is discussing. Particularly when it comes to mobile phones. Nobody will put away their phones for five fucking minutes anymore, no matter what their age, and we're all losing because of it. That goes for performing in the workplace... and double for maintaining healthy friendships. My only resolution for 2017 is to pay more attention to the people in front of me.

   
And... that's the last of the first bullets of 2017! Be safe and be kind, everybody.

   

Suicidal Electra Joke

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Dave!Since returning from hiatus, there have been a number of half-finished entries floating around that I've been meaning to finish up and post. This is one of them.

My love of comic books and movies have collided in amazing ways last year... Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, and Doctor Strange were incredible. Unfortunately there were also boat-loads of crap courtesy of DC Comics, who just can't seem to get their shit together... X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman vs. Superman were complete garbage.

There were three other super-hero films I saw in 2016, how did they fare, I wonder?

Movie Posters

   
• Suicide Squad. DC Comics' concept of super-villains being forced to become a covert team of super-heroes has been going on in the comic book world since the late 80's. While passably entertaining on occasion, I never saw much potential as a movie franchise, yet here we are. The result is an epic mess that is a notch above the shitty Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman films... but not by much. The moronic, scattershot plot populated with a bloated cast of forgettable characters and filled with ridiculous dialogue and forced humor (that wasn't funny) ended up being just... bad. Unless you can be entertained by random special effects blowing shit up between periods of utter tedium, there's no entertainment to be found here.

And now... I'm just going to get this out of the way... Jared Leto's "Joker" was total shit. The look was apparently copied from the comic arc Batman: Endgame, which wouldn't have been too terrible, except they added metal teeth, a bunch of tattoos that were utterly stupid (why the fuck would The Joker ink "damaged" on his forehead?), and then made him a frickin' drugged-out buffoon. A massive downgrade from Heath Ledger's brilliant take in the The Dark Knight. The rest of the cast? They fare somewhat better. Viola Davis was her incredible self and dominated her every scene as Amanda Waller. Will Smith's Deadshot was pretty much Will Smith being Will Smith, but at least he's entertaining. Margot Robbie was designed to be a stand-out as Harley Quinn and, when it works, it's the best thing about the movie (though I still think the character will never be better than she was in Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series). Every other character was just window dressing with nothing of substance to do and mostly boring.

I'd get into the story, but that would be pointless. It's pretty much Suicide Squad vs. magical zombies and there's pathetic little character development or consequences for anything. RATING: D

   
• Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. It would be insanity to put a cheesy Sid & Marty Krofft Batman parody remake up against anything Marvel is doing when it comes to the super-hero film genre. This is not that kind of film. But I found Electra Woman and Dyna Girl infinitely more fun and entertaining than anything DC has put out lately. Based on the Krofft Saturday Morning live-action kid's show of the same name (starring Days of Our Lives' Deidra Hall!), the movie features online media stars Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart as two normal humans named Lori and Judy who dress up and play super-heroes in a world filled with heroes that have real super-powers. Eventually they get "noticed" by a super-hero publicity agent who turns them into the super-powered heroes they dreamed of becoming. Using gadgets dreamed up by genius Frank Heflin, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl hit the big-time and become crime-fighting media sensations. This leads to a rift in their friendship that comes just as the rise of the first super-powered villain to appear in ages. Hilarity (and some surprisingly entertaining antics) ensue. What's surprising about the movie is how it manages to be faithful to the original show, yet be completely fresh, new, and different. And pretty damn funny. For what it was designed to be, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl is a success. RATING: B-

   
• Batman: The Killing Joke (animated). Considered one of the best Batman stories to come out of the comics, The Killing Joke has been both praised and mired in controversy since its release in 1988. Praised because it featured Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's thoughtful look at the origin and longtime relationship between Batman and The Joker... controversial because of its misogynistic overtones in the crippling of Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon as a throw-away plot element. Ultimately I liked the book, but understood that it had some serious story issues that would be too much for some comic book fans. So when I heard that DC was turning it into an R-rated animated film, I was curious. Would they stay close to the original story... or would they try and fix some of the things that caused no small amount of backlash?

Turns out it's Option #3... LET'S MAKE THE STORY WORSE IN EVERY POSSIBLY WAY! I hated this film. There's a myriad of problems that ruin any chance of Batman fans embracing the movie... even if they liked the story on which it was based. Primary of which is that they have Batman and Batgirl in a sexual relationship, which is fucking absurd. Once that bullshit is out of the way, the film tries to get back on track... but the damage has already been done. RATING: F

   
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard with another brilliant Marvel effort...

The Avengers... A+
The Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy... A
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Hulk... C-
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass... B+
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher... C+
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man... B+
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Suicide Squad... D
Amazing Spider-Man... B
Amazing Spider-Man 2... B-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor... B+
Thor: The Dark World... A
Watchmen... B
The Wolverine... B
X-Men... C
X-Men 2: United... D
X-Men 3: Last Stand... F-
X-Men Origins: Wolverine... D
X-Men: First Class... B
X-Men: Days of Future Past... B-
X-Men: Apocalypse... D+

   

SECURE IT, DAMMIT!

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Dave!IF YOU READ ONE THING IN MY BLOG THIS YEAR, LET IT BE THIS ENTRY!

A video is making the rounds that you need to see if you have furniture in your home...


Horrible. That kiddo is lucky he didn't end up severely hurt or dead.

Furniture topples like this are a very common problem. It's so common that IKEA has an awareness campaign about it. And it's not just kids getting squashed by unsecured furniture... it's pets and adults as well. When I bought my new IKEA furniture, every dresser and shelf unit came with an anchoring kit and instructions to get others for FREE if you had older IKEA furniture that didn't come with a kit. For any non-IKEA furniture, anchoring kits are available at many hardware stores for a nominal fee.

I took them seriously and secured every unit in my home. I do not want a curious kitty getting squished!

And if you're thinking "Well, yeah... of course cheap, lightweight IKEA crap is going to fall over... I bought real furniture so that won't happen to me!" then you need to know you're wrong. Enough weight in a drawer (like a child!) can tip any unit... because leverage. In fact, heavy furniture is just more weight to land on somebody and cause more damage. And if you live in an earthquake zone, then you should know that your unsecured furniture could be toppled by even mild tremors... regardless of how heavy it is.

So... if you're into New Year resolutions, make one to secure your furniture so this doesn't happen to you... your kid... your pets... or anybody who enters your home!

Be safe, everybody!

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The State of Liberty

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Dave!Every ten years or so, discussion starts up on dividing Washington into two states. It never really goes anywhere... mostly because it can't go anywhere... but we'll get to that in a minute.

But first, here we go again...

Early last December, dumbass politicians from Spokane (the biggest city in Eastern Washington) announced they wanted to split Washington in half and officially create a new state called "Liberty." The argument being that we here in the East are tired of godless liberal politicians in Seattle telling the people of Redneckistan how to live their lives, and we need to go our own way.

The statement is not completely unfounded, but it is stupid.

Eastern Washington has about twice the land but one third the population of Western Washington. This means that State government doesn't give a shit about Redneckistan, because the people who get them elected are west of the Cascades. It doesn't take a genius to guess who politicians are going to spend their time, effort, and money keeping happy. This creates eternal conflict between East and West which, four years ago, I summarized in a cartoon that went like this...

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

That's pretty much my home state in a nutshell.

The problem is that Eastern Washington can't just up and decide to split off from the state. First we'd need a majority of Washingtonians to support it. Then we'd need an act of Congress to actually do the deed. And while I'm sure there are plenty of people in Western Washington that would just love to tell Redneckistan to fuck off and don't let the door hit your ass as you leave... I can't imagine that a majority of people on either side of the state would want the split. Nor can I imagine Congress supporting such a thing.

Hence the "stupid" part of the equation.

Which is where dumbass politicians keep wasting everybody's time and money with idiotic bullshit like this. And, in what seems to be a growing trend, there are actually people here in Redneckistan totally buying into it even though a split would be against their own self-interest.

A moot point given that it ain't gonna happen, but frustrating just the same.

Fortunately, Washingtonians always have something they can come together and rally behind...

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Yes. Go sports teams, go.

   

Hate Makes You Stupid

Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Dave!If I had a nickel for every time I've heard somebody tried to use "The Bible" as their argument... when they clearly have no idea what they're talking about or what The Bible is actually saying... I'd have a lot of nickels.

And it drives me insane.

You would think that people would make an effort to understand a book they're (purportedly) devoting their lives to, but that's apparently asking too much. Rarely can you find somebody who can name The Ten Commandments... let alone put what scraps of Scripture they think they know into Biblical context.

This exchange on Tell Me Everything is a classic example...

Stupid indeed.

But so very typical.

   

Star Trek: The Ranking

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017

Dave!I can never quite figure out whether I am more of a Star Trek fan or Star Wars fan. It's probably I love them both equally. One big difference is that there's little debate on how the Star Wars films should be ranked. Empire is the best, the original is next, and everything that followed was total shit until Force Awakens kinda made things good again.

With Star Trek it's a radically different situation. Since I'm old enough to be an original series fan, my picks skew towards Kirk & Co. — while Trek fans that came late to the game tend to gravitate towards Next Generation.

With that in mind, here we go...

  1. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan The gold standard for Star Trek films. A beloved villain, plenty of action, smart humor, a great story with lots of memorable moments, and a shock ending that rocked the sci-fi universe. On top of that, the special effects were fantastic. But my favorite thing about the film was the dialogue, which was written and performed so beautifully. Weather it's quiet moments of reflection or Khan's unhinged rants... it's a delicious feast for longtime Star Trek fans from beginning to end.
  2. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home A great story built around a great idea is all you really need for a fantastic Star Trek film... everything else will work itself out. But The Voyage Home went beyond that by giving fans a time travel story packed with some of the funniest moments in Trek history. The end result is just a plain fun movie with appeal outside of the franchise's fan-base.
  3. Star Trek The potential for disaster in rebooting the franchise was huge, but JJ Abrams reboot got so many things right... even if it bathed all of them in an ungodly amount of stupid fucking lens flare. The casting was note-perfect... especially with Karl Urban channeling DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy. We got a good story as well, packed to the rafters with excellent action and special effects. Using rogue Romulans as bad guys wasn't exactly inspired, but it worked. Overall? A very good start. Or re-start, as it were.
  4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country This was a terrific Star Trek adventure, even if there were hiccups along the way. But, more importantly, it was a good send-off for the original series characters (thank heavens it didn't end with the hot mess that was Star Trek V). That the film also built a bridge to The Next Generation without shitting all over itself was just the icing on the cake.
  5. Star Trek Beyond It may have gone off the rails a few times and had an overly-complicated ending... but it was still a lot of fun to watch because there was plenty of action and "Star Trek magic" to keep things moving. A nice recovery in the reboot universe after being disappointed with Into Darkness.
  6. Star Trek: First Contact The only Nest Generation film I enjoyed, this was a smart, clever outing that moved at a speedy clip and featured one of the best thing to come out of Next Gen: The Borg. But they didn't just leave it at that, they came up with The Borg Queen to make things fresh... and added time travel to make things fun. If only everything that followed was even half this good.
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness Though the reboot sequel had some harsh criticism lobbed its way, I actually enjoyed it. Would I have rather see something different than a re-telling of the best Star Trek film on this list? Sure. But it was entertaining to the end, and that's more than you can say than many films on this list.
  8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Yes, it was unbearably long, drawn-out, and even boring in spots, but it was the first film in the franchise and there was a lot to love, even if just the chance to see all the characters again. And I still think the story concept is one of the best to come out of Trek canon. It's just that it could have been so much more entertaining with action added to the mix and less pertinent elements dropped.
  9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock When an entire movie is devoted to rectifying the mistake of killing off Spock, you're sure to get into trouble real fast. If not for the inspired casting of Christopher Lloyd, this movie would be pretty much a loss.
  10. Star Trek: Generations I never understood how anybody could greenlight a script with so many obvious problems, but I'm guessing that they felt the historic mingling of new and old would cover any sin. They were wrong. I didn't think Star Trek could get worse than killing off Captain Kirk in such a lame-ass manner, but all I had to do was wait for the final two movies.
  11. Star Trek: The Final Frontier This movie was a huge waste of time, effort, and money. Surely they could have come up with something better than this to follow The Voyage Home, but no. Instead we got Spock's half-brother in an idiotic quest to find God in the center of the galaxy. Barf.
  12. Star Trek: Nemesis This is a film that could have slayed with its story concept... if only the writers would have had bothered to find a way to make it interesting. Instead we get something that plays out like a forgettable episode of the TV show. They could have at least let the Next Generation crew go out on a high note after the previous disaster (see below), but instead we got this mess.
  13. Star Trek: Insurrection So awful I don't even know where to begin. This was like a very long, boring, and badly-written episode of Next Generation but with less scope and precious little genuine humor.

And next up? Star Trek: Discovery. I had high hopes when it was announced that Bryan Fuller was at the helm. Then became worried when it was announced he had stepped away. But, still... it's Star Trek, so I'll be watching.

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Caturday 10

Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Dave!Just what you were hoping for... another entry about my cats!

This time of year that's about all that's happening for me. And so...

This is handsome Jake when he's laying on your lap being petted...

Happy Jake Getting Petted

Here is what happens when you stop petting him so you can take a picture...

Mad Jake Not Getting Petted

If he had a knife... he'd cut a bitch for sure. Which is why I'll go back to petting and photographing at the same time...

Jake Snuggling Up for TV Time

And I guess I should stop working when Jake wants to be petted. It never works out anyway...

Jake Invades My Laptop

Jake can't help but be irritating. The minute I leave the house, he's all over the kitchen... the one place he's not supposed to go. I finally installed an alarm that sounds if I'm out of the house and there's movement in the kitchen. It works great. Here's the security cameras catching Jake two seconds before the alarm starts blaring...

Jake Snuggling Up for TV Time

I'd post a photo of him while the alarm sounds, but it's just a blur as he high-tails it out of the kitchen.

Jake isn't just irritating to me... he's also irritating to his sister. A while ago she brought up Jake's stuffed lion toy as her morning tribute. Jake was upset about this, and threw himself down next to it. Jenny, not dissuaded at all, snatched the lion and ran back downstairs with it. Jake, of course, tore off after her. A few minutes later, Jenny came sulking back, then threw herself on the window perch to pout...

Jenny Pouting

I didn't know what was bugging her until Jake came back up with his toy lion in his mouth. Apparently he snatched it back...

Jake Gets His Lion Back

As for Jenny... she's still as adorable as ever. When not pummeling her brother for irritating her, she's been spending a lot of time out in the catio...

Jenny in a Cold Catio

She's also taken to hogging the blankets on my bed. I started rolling them back so she wouldn't lay in the middle, preventing me from being able to get in. So now she just lays on the roll of blankets...

Jenny Steals My Blankets

Every morning Jenny drags toys upstairs as a tribute in exchange for breakfast. Or at least I think that's what she's doing. And now she's going overboard with it... bringing up an abundance of toys. I think she's trying to build an altar to the cat-god Bast.

And every morning I kick all the toys back downstairs so she has something to do the following morning.

Except a couple times now, she's having none of it. She barricades the steps so I can't kick the toys anywhere...

Jenny Steals My Blankets

Typical.

And now I suppose it's time to go to bed.

Assuming the cats will even let me in my bed.

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Bullet Sunday 489

Posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Dave!There's hope for 2017, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• WALL! And so now The American People are going to have to pay for President Pussy-Grabber's idiotic Mexico border wall. As if there were ever any doubt. Can I just have the $25 instead? Giving everybody in the US $25 would be just as effective as this HYSTERICAL LEVEL OF DUMBFUCKERY would be in protecting the country. Look, it's not going to work. It's not going to stop drugs. It's not going to stop illegal immigration. And it's FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE TO BUILD THIS BULLSHIT IN THE FIRST PLACE... JUST ASK ANY ARCHITECT! — And Trump's 8 Billion price tag is a joke. It's going to run billions over that in costs AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT. And the price doesn't even include the outrageous cost of maintaining such a wall... which is BILLIONS more. This is absolutely one of the most stupid fucking things I have ever heard of. It's a security blanket for total morons, and we're all going to have to pay the price. And if you honestly believe that Mexico is going to reimburse us for the final cost of something that doesn't even work? You need a serious reality check.

   
• Home! I'm a big fan of unique houses, and just when I think I've seen it all, something cool like this comes along...

Yeah... I'd have figured out a way to have a bathroom up there, but other than that? What an awesome place to call home!

   
• LARSENNNNNNN! I head to Antarctica for a photography expedition in 324 days. After wanting to visit for decades, I finally decided to throw finances to the wind and go this year because every time I see Antarctica in the news, it's because another chunk of the ice shelves is breaking off. And scientists are saying another massive chunk is about to go...

A map of Larsen C's iceberg by MIDAS/Swansea University/Aberystwyth UniversityA map of Larsen C's iceberg by MIDAS/Swansea University/Aberystwyth University

Now I'm just hoping that enough of Antarctica holds together for me to see it come December...

   
• This is It! If you're into cheesy Norman Lear comedies from the 1970's, then have I got a treat for you. Netflix has used that same framework to delve into contemporary issues by remaking One Day At A Time with a Cuban twist. It's a glorious trip back in time that's about as well-done as comedy gets...

As if that weren't enough, they had Gloria Estefan remake the theme song with a latin twist...

I really, really hope that this critically acclaimed show gets a second season. There's a lot more to be said.

   
• Maui! I was saddened to learn that the Hard Rock Cafe in Maui closed this past week. This was my very first Hard Rock, and is what got me into traveling the world to visit 165 more of them (and counting!). It had the perfect location at the end of Front Street in Lahaina, and was about the most laid-back cafe you could hope for when vacationing in Hawaii. From my DaveCafe blog...

While vacationing with friends in Maui (circa August 1990), we were wandering around Lahaina looking for a place to eat. As we came to the end of the Front Street tourist shopping district, one of us spied a place called “Hard Rock Cafe” in an unassuming building across the street. It sounded like fun, so away we went.
   
Little did I realize how my life would change after that moment.
   
At the time I remember thinking “The Hard Rock Cafe is such a great idea… it’s like eating in the middle of a Rock-n-Roll museum!” I hadn’t seen anything like it, and was so impressed I bought a couple pins at the gift shop. When we went back to Lahaina a few days later, I ended up buying a denim jacket that I still have today.
   
When I got back home, I discovered that there were 22 other Hard Rock Cafes around the world. But none of them were in Seattle, which is why I hadn’t heard of them before. Some were in places I might visit one day (San Francisco, New York, Chicago)… but others seemed like impossible destinations I’d never see (Reykjavik, Stockholm, Singapore).
   
How wrong I was.
   
As time went on, I started traveling more and more, and managed to see some Hard Rock Cafes along the way. Pretty soon I found myself traveling to places specifically to see the cafes there. By that point I was becoming obsessed, and set a goal to visit 50 properties before the end of the year 2000, 10 years after my first visit in Maui. That I did in December of 2000 when I vacationed in Rome, Italy. I always thought that once I reached my goal, that would be the end of it all, but I was wrong again. I kept going, visited properties around the globe and adding to my growing collection of pins, T-shirts, and glassware.
   
I owe a great debt to the Hard Rock Cafe for exposing me to places I probably never would have seen if not for their restaurants, hotels, and such. Amazing places like Warsaw, Poland… Bali, Indonesia… and Lisbon, Portugal (to name a few). Even nifty places here in the USA that I never would have gone to if not for checking another cafe off my list. I may go for the Hard Rock, but I always stay for all the other wonders these places offer.
   
And there are still so many places yet to see.

You will be missed...

Hard Rock Cafe Maui

And, while we're on the subject...

The original Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas (in front of the Hard Rock Hotel) has also closed. Probably because they opened a second cafe on The Strip, and there wasn't enough room for two of them. This is a shame, because the original had a much better "Hard Rock feel" to it... as opposed to the "Hipster Lounge" style that they've got going now.

Ah well. Progress and all that.

   
I'm outta bullets, so have a good week, everybody!

   

Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them

Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2017

Dave!Though Trump was never mentioned by name, Meryl Streep's speech at The Golden Globes clearly condemned his horrendous mockery of disabled Pulitzer Prize-Winning investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski.

Trump says he never did that. Would never do that. And he was merely imitating the reporter "groveling."

Anybody who has seen the video (and understands the context of the video) knows that this is a complete lie. Our President Elect was clearly mocking the reporter. There is no other way of interpreting it.

Trump Mocks Disabled Reporter
Photos from CNN video and an uncredited article at Heavy, which summarizes everything.

How such an outright disgusting act wasn't a dealbreaker for his campaign, I will never know. Or understand.

Because this right here encompasses everything people should loathe about Donald J. Trump... and everything that's wrong with him representing our country.

I guess his supporters believed this obvious lie from a sea of his obvious lies, and mocking a disabled person was something they could overlook?

Not that lying is exclusive to Republican candidates by any means... politicians will be politicians, after all.

But there are some things that should be impossible to overlook.

   

I Did Not Have Urinary Relations With Those Women

Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Dave!And so... about those Golden Globes...

I'm not a huge fan of award shows, because the winners rarely reflect the movies I enjoy and the performances I gravitate towards. But, then again, my favorite films of 2016 were Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Deadpool, so make of that what you will.

Anyway... this year the Globes were better than most, but there are still some corrections I would make...

   

MOVIES

Best Supporting Actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals
Who Should Have Won: Sebastian Stan, Captain America: Civil War (the entire weight of the movie rested on The Winter Soldier, and Stan killed it).

Best Original Score: La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Jóhann Jóhannsson, Arrival (beautiful, powerful stuff).

Best Original Song, Motion Picture: "City of Stars," La La Land
Who Should Have Won: "How Far I'll Go," Moana (never saw "La La Land").

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Who Should Have Won: Viola Davis, Fences (never saw the film, but... Viola Davis).

Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool (not even a contest).

Best Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Doctor Strange (markedly fresh super-hero fare).

Best Animated Film: Zootopia
Who Should Have Won: Kubo and the Two Strings (Zootopia was fun, but Kubo was on another level entirely).

Best Foreign-Language Film: Elle
Who Should Have Won: The Handmaiden (absolutely stunning cinema).

Best Director: Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Captain America: Civil War (wrangling this many heroes in a coherent film is amazing).

Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Emma Stone, La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Grace Helbig, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (no joke... the funniest female performance I saw all year).

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy: La La Land
Who Should Have Won: Deadpool (so obvious).

Best Actor, Drama: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Who Should Have Won: I dunno.

Best Actress, Drama: Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Who Should Have Won: I dunno.

Best Picture, Drama: Moonlight
Who Should Have Won: I dunno. Moonlight looks good, but Arrival was the best drama I saw in 2016.

   

TELEVISION

Best Actor, Television Drama: Billie Bob Thornton, Goliath
Who Should Have Won: Matthew Rhys, The Americans (a great show and he's great in it).

Best Actress, Television Series Comedy or Musical: Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Who Should Have Won: Kristen Bell, The Good Place (what can I say, I love her and I love this show).

Best Television Series Comedy or Musical: Atlanta
Who Should Have Won: No Tomorrow (love Atlanta, but No Tomorrow is my favorite show of 2016)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Who Should Have Won: Charlotte Rampling, London Spy (this was a great show, and Rampling had a lot to do with why).

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Who Should Have Won: The Night Manager (such a great spy thriller).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager (seriously, such a good show).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager (ditto).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
Who Should Have Won: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager (ditto again).

Best Actress, Television Drama: Claire Foy, The Crown
Who Should Have Won: Keri Russell, The Americans (toughie... loved Foy, but think Russell had the edge).

Best Television Drama: The Crown
Who Should Have Won: Westworld (as much as I liked The Crown, Westworld was my favorite).

Best Actor, Television Series Comedy or Musical: Donald Glover, Atlanta
Who Should Have Won: Donald Glover, Atlanta (absolutely deserved).

   

Tiny Dicks and Journalism Combat Training

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Dave!President Elect Trump's first press conference since being elected was everything I dreamed it would be.

And everything I feared.

This, my fellow US citizens, is how the end begins.

You may not like the media. You may not agree with how they cover events of the day. You may even consider any journalistic endeavor that doesn't fully support our elected leaders as treasonous. But it doesn't really matter what you think, because the guarantee of a free press is a fundamental building block of this country. Our founders designed it that way.

And while those who have lead this country may not like all aspects of the media, they have tolerated it... even supported it against all rational thought... because they know that's part of the job. They know it's important.

Well, at least they did.

Until now.

Don't think for a second that President Obama wouldn't have liked to tell the asshole brigade at FOX "News" to go fuck themselves ten times a day... any sane person would. But he was a bigger man (and better president) than that, and so he rose above. I may not have always agreed with his politics, but I respect how he put up with the non-stop parade of shit reigned down upon him by the media... yet continued to play the game in the name of Freedom of the Press.

But our President Elect? Not so much.

What a tiny, tiny penis Donald Trump must have to resort to this. At least I'm assuming that's the case. He's got a minuscule little dick, and this is how he wields power to compensate for it. The free press of the United States of America can piss off because our new president has a cocktail wiener for a cock.

CNN reported on the story of an unverified piece claiming the Russians have footage of Trump involved with some fancy piss-play with two hookers. They did not publish the actual unverified document, nor did they publish any details from it which talked about Donald Trump liking golden showers. They merely did their job as journalists and presented current events as they were happening. I may loathe CNN (in general) and Wolf Blitzer (specifically), but they did not publish "fake news" (though I will agree that their organization is terrible).

But President Pussy-Grabber doesn't care about any of that. He apparently feels that the only thing that CNN should ever do in such circumstances is condemn any criticism of Donald Trump. Anything less means that you don't get to ask questions. This is essentially "If you don't kiss my ass, condemn my critics, and support everything I do... I'm dismissing you, restricting your ability to question me, and discrediting your voice."

Which is ironic considering that Trump just compared intelligence agencies releasing "fake news" to Nazi Germany.

Apparently he is unaware of the fact that a big part of how the Nazi's got into power was to control and censor the media. By squeezing out those voices who did not support the Nazi Party and allowing only positive reporting of their actions, it was easier to convince citizens that they were righteous in their acts. Or at least those acts they allowed to be reported on.

And with the Trump presidency, we're half-way there!

Which is kind of embarrassing for a country that won't shut up about their superiority THANKS TO AMERICAN FREEDOM, BABY!

But only half as embarrassing as the fact that we have a president who feels the need to constantly lash out at the press... even when they did nothing wrong... as compensation for his tiny, tiny dick.

Which is nothing to be ashamed of, sir! Plenty of big men have wielded power wisely and respectfully despite their tiny member! No need to go starting World War III over it!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's nearing midnight and me and my massive penis* need to get some sleep.

   
*I'll provide proof when Donald Trump releases his taxes.

   

Reward and Punishment, Carrot and Stick

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Dave!Tonight one of my worst fears nearly came true.

I went out the front door to drag the trash can from my driveway to my house. After I finished, I went back to open the screen door and noticed that I had left the front door behind it slightly ajar. For some reason I glanced down before opening the screen door and saw... Jake. I pounded on the glass to scare him the hell out of the kitchen before going inside. And then broke out into a cold sweat when I realized that, had I not seen him, it's likely he would have darted outside. The little bastard.

I have done everything I can think of to keep the cats out of the kitchen for just this reason. I even bought "scat mats" to discourage them from stepping foot inside. Touch the mat, and they get an electric shock. That worked for all of two days. On day three, they just started jumping over it...


ZOMG! MY CATS WERE SO ADORABLE WHEN THEY WERE LITTLE!

Eventually they learned that I would yell at them if I caught them in the kitchen... so they started only doing it at night when I was asleep. After I realized what was happening, I had my security system alert me if there was motion in the kitchen after I go upstairs for the night.

Eventually they learned that even if I wasn't in the room, I could still yell at them if they went into the kitchen if I were home... so they started only doing it when I was away at work. After I realized what was happening, I bought an alarm that would sound if there was motion in the kitchen when I'm away from home.

Eventually they learned that even if I wasn't in the room and wasn't home, there was still punishment for going into the kitchen... SO NOW THEY ARE DOING IT WHEN I AM HOME SO THE ALARM DOESN'T SOUND, OUTSIDE SO I CAN'T SEE THEM, AND DOWNSTAIRS SO I AM NOT ALERTED?!? I mean, come on... exactly how many contingencies do I have to plan for before all bases are covered?

Living with cats is enough to drive one insane.

Especially since the little fuckers still pretend to respect the boundaries that have been set for them. When I'm getting them breakfast in the morning, they wouldn't dream of stepping foot into the kitchen...

Jake and Jenny Won't Enter The Kitchen

But there's no question that they are planning their next kitchen break-in. Conditioning by reward and punishment is never cut and dry where cats are concerned.

Also not in question? How Trump is going to react in any given situation.

If you say or do something which displeases future Lord President Trump, you get the stick...

CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are taking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!

If you say or do something which pleases future Lord President Trump, you get the carrot...

Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L. Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L. Bean

Never mind that there are plenty of American companies in competition with LL Bean who have done nothing to deserve LL Bean getting preferential treatment and free advertising from their soon-to-be-president. But they didn't donate enough money to Trump to merit such treatment, so tough luck, I guess. Maybe if Lands' End were to put Trump's face on the cover of their next catalog proclaiming him "The Best President Ever!" they too will have Trump telling everybody to buy their stuff.

Which is a disgusting abuse of power by the president, but not entirely unexpected.

I live with cats. Nothing is unexpected to me.

   

Big Mistake, Michelle

Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dave!Many years ago (I'm thinking 1998), while I was at a Star Trek convention (yes, I know)... they had a roundup of Trek news you had to sit through before William Shatner (or whomever it was) took the stage. The guy that was reading the news was kind of an asshole, but the internet wasn't what it is now*, so this is how you got the TV gossip of the day. Eventually the guy started talking about the upcoming new series... Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He then announced that Michelle Forbes, who played Ensign Ro on Star Trek: The Next Generation, had declined to be a part of DS9. This was kind of shocking to hear, because Ensign Ro was Bajoran and the space station was next to Bajor. Ro was, presumably, the lynchpin of the series.

And that's when the news guy said "Big mistake, Michelle. Big mistake. Deep Space Nine is going to be huge. And you missed out."

I remember sitting in the audience thinking "How the fuck does he know Michelle Forbes was making a mistake? Maybe playing the same character over and over isn't something she wants to do. Maybe she found something she enjoys more than acting? Did you even think to ask Forbes why she decided not to join the show?"

But of course they didn't. Creation (the company behind the conventions) made their bread and butter off of Star Trek, so it was easier to just blindly bash anything that was a threat to their cash cow. Michele Forbes had turned her back on Trek, so Creation was turning their back on her.

At least until she agreed to speak at one of their conventions, I'm assuming.

I was reminded of all this after I fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole and ran across this response from an interview with... Michelle Forbes...

"There were all sorts of rumors about why I didn't take [the DS9 role] and that I was quite arrogant about the whole thing. It wasn't that at all. It was, again, about wanting variety in my career. If I'd gone on to do DS9, I might not have had the variety I've been lucky to have in my career. That's not to say I wasn't grateful for the opportunity; I genuinely was. However, I had to make a choice that felt right for me, which was a difficult one, especially as a young actor being offered a steady job." —TV Zone Magazine, January 2005

So... what people saw as a massive mistake doesn't sound like it turned out to be much of a mistake at all.

Sometimes the easy and obvious road isn't always the best journey to take.

Which is quite the important life lesson.

Thanks, internet!

   

*Yeah, that's putting it mildly. This is what the internet was like in 1998...

   

   

Caturday 11

Posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Dave!For about a month now, I have been turning the thermostat down in order to save money on my electricity. Heating is by far the priciest contributor to my bill, so I thought it was worth a shot. I never minded adding a couple layers to stay warm... but eventually couldn't take having cold fingers while working, so I relented and went back to a more sane thermostat setting.

The cats never seemed to care one way or another about the lower temperature. Them having fur coats and all. But they don't have to worry about their fingers getting cold while they type.

They don't do much typing on their iPad.

I was reminded of this when I found an old memory card and ran across some photos I took of Jake and Jenny when they were kittens. My favorites being them goofing around on a video game made for cats...

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jenny is an all or nothing kind of gamer.

Jake would rather sit around being handsome than play games...

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Some things never change.

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Bullet Sunday 490

Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Dave!Don't give the horrors of reality another thought, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• iPhone! A decade ago, Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone on an unsuspecting world. The reactions at the time were gold. And, in hindsight, hilarious. The Telegraph has a nice retrospective on it all which you can read by clicking here.

   
• Banshee! I was recently turned onto an amazing Cinemax television show, Banshee, by long-time blogger friend Karen Sugarpants. It's the story of a man who gets out of prison after 15 years and, after an accidental series of events, ends up sheriff of a small Pennsylvania city in the heart of Amish country. I was hooked immediately, and have been binging all four seasons over the past week. It's packed to the rafters with insane amounts of violence and sex... but, in-between all that, there's some fantastic moments. Like when the sheriff hires a former white supremacist as a deputy in the middle of an assault on the police station...

Seasons 1 & 2 are streaming on Amazon free for Amazon Prime members. If you can stomach the show, it's worth checking out.

   
• Ghibli! Speaking of Amazon Prime Streaming... there's an upcoming animated series called Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by the magicians at Studio Ghibli...

Gorgeous. And available at Amazon Prime Streaming come January 27th!

   
• Switch! I've owned a lot of video gaming systems over the years. But my favorites have all been Nintendo. It doesn't matter that my XBOXes and PlayStations have better graphics and more power... it's the Nintendo systems that have the most fun games and innovative gameplay. Wii was a quantum leap forward. Wii-U was kind of a misstep, but still had amazing games available. And now Nintendo has announced their latest... Switch...

Needless to say, looks like a pretty nifty way to play video games. I'd buy one, but I never have time to play much anymore. If you're looking for more details on the system and the games being developed for it, Nintendo had a presentation on it the other day.

   
• GO GO MEOWER RANGERS! Now that Power Rangers is getting rebooted, it seems only appropriate that this cat-infused version of the show is working its way around the internet...

Good luck. And may the meower protect you!

   
• Diet! Um. Yeah...

"Diet Racism" and "Diet Homophobia" are responsible for me taking a mini-sabbatical from Facebook this week. I've got my sanity to think about.

   
No more bullets for you. See you next week!

   

All Talk, Talk, Talk

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2017

Dave!This morning I started out the same way I begin every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his beautiful I Have a Dream speech in its entirety.

As always, those words have proven relevant and timely in oh so many ways.

A couple days ago Representative John Lewis says he feels that President Elect Trump is an illegitimate president and that he won't be attending the inauguration.

Trump fired back, responding to Lewis by saying he's "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results."

Trump on John Lewis

Now, say what you like about Representative Lewis's remarks. You can agree with him. You can disagree with him. Whatever. But to attack somebody who has been at the forefront of The Civil Rights Movement... who marched with Dr. King and was one of The Big Six... who has fought tirelessly for human rights... who has been beaten, jailed, and paid for his activism in blood... to say such a man is "All talk, talk, talk - no action or results"... is the height of ignorance.

Not that ignorance is unknown to Trump, but still...

What's even more disturbing than the President Elect being this stupid is that 74,000+ people "loved" his Twitter dumbassery.

If you're one of them, may I suggest you get yourself a copy of Volumes 1-3 of Representative Lewis's wonderful March graphic novels, which tells the story of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement from his perspective. Which is a fairly important perspective since, you know, HE LIVED IT...

March Vol. 1-3 by John Lewis

   
And, while you're at it, perhaps you could buy an extra set and send them off to "comedian" Rob Schneider, who felt the need to explain Martin Luther King Day to Representative Lewis...

Trump on John Lewis

I don't know if starring in such films as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Hot Chick could be considered a benefit to humanity... so perhaps Rob Schneider has done him part... but still...

You can get the entire March trilogy at Amazon by following this link.

   

Happy 95th Birthday Betty!

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Dave!I first became a fan of Betty White when she played Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show... and proceeded to fall in love with her over her many game show appearances through the 1980's. Then The Golden Girls came along and everybody fell in love with Betty White. She's been an American icon every since.

And today she's 95 years old!

Which got her an interview with Katie Couric...

Happiest of birthdays to you, Betty!

   

Welcome to Home Ownership

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday afternoon we had freezing rain.

Yesterday evening I had water pouring down from my kitchen ceiling.

I knew it most likely wasn't the roof. It's been inspected three times in four years as a part of people moving into the condos. All three times we were told it's in great shape. And so my guess was that the freezing rain was pooling in a valley on my roof, getting trapped behind some ice, then flowing back up under the shingles. These condos are some of those modern-looking structures with complex and idiotic roof designs that encourages this kind of thing... despite the fact that we're living in an area with harsh winters where simple roof designs are far smarter.

Oh well.

This morning I thought I'd head up into the crawlspace and see what the damage was. But, not surprisingly, the complex and idiotic roof design means that it's impossible to get anywhere near my kitchen. There's a construction plane completely blocking it off.

So my only option was to remove the recessed lighting can in my kitchen so I could investigate that way. And while it's not easy trying to access an entire ceiling through little holes, I did manage to clean out the water that had pooled there and find out it wasn't too bad. The only thing I have to worry about is mildew and mold forming, so I've elevated the insulation with slats to help things dry out.

If that doesn't work, I'll have to pull the insulation out.

If that doesn't work, I'll have to hire somebody to cut out my kitchen ceiling and repair things that way.

Yay.

I'm trying to think of just how much is left that could possibly go wrong with my house where I've lived just under a year. The obvious answer is the HVAC furnace/air conditioning... but something tells me it will be something more subtle than that. I've already had two electrician calls... but maybe third time's a charm? I've already had two plumber calls, so ditto for that. Hot water heater, perhaps? I dunno. Last year I had to come up with $2000 for the HOA's stucco repairs, this year it's $2500 for paint. Next year it will probably be thousands more for a roof.

In the meanwhile I guess I need to buy some heating cables so that I'm not up on a ladder in the middle of the night chipping ice off the roof. On the bright side, at least I was smart enough to buy myself a ladder for just such an occasion.

Welcome to home ownership.

Bring your wallet.

   

YOU HAVE BAD INFORMATION!

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Dave!

I've been online since... well... before the internet was a thing, really. Back when it was all bulletin boards and CompuServe and modem-to-modem and stuff like that. In oh so many ways, things have changed radically from those early days. But not everything. Some things haven't changed one damn bit.

Here is how online forums have worked since the dawn of time...

Poster: I am a bit confused about something and would appreciate people's experiences and opinions on this matter.
   
Me: Here is my opinion and my experience from having this opinion.
   
Commenter: YOU ARE WRONG! YOU HAVE BAD INFORMATION! GO FUCK YOURSELF!

For a goodly chunk of people, it's never about presenting their own opinions and experiences... it's all about attacking people who have opinions and experiences that differ from theirs.

Responding to some topics is more likely to invite an attack than others... like... say... "What's the best brand of mobile phone, iPhone or Android?"

Another example? As I found out last night, coming out against declawing cats is a topic that invites all kinds of attacks...

Jake!

My opinion on declawing cats is pretty cut and dry... you just don't fucking do it. It's not like cutting your nails, it's like removing the entire tip of your finger down to the first knuckle. And if you're okay with doing that to a kitten, then you probably shouldn't have a cat. I would let my cats scratch the shit out of everything I own and still never consider maiming them like that.

Or...

I'd buy a shitload of scratching posts and cardboard scratchers, put them next to everyplace that my cats want to scratch so they have a more pleasing alternative, cover them with catnip to make them more attractive, put sheets of double-stick shelf-paper on things I want scratch-free to make them less attractive, then slowly remove half of the scratching alternatives once I figure out the ones they prefer.

Time consuming and expensive? Yes.

But it worked. My cats have their claws and me and my furniture are still in one piece.

Though some of my IKEA is sporting scratch marks from the training period. Oh well. Small price to pay.

Of course, there are people who have different opinions. And they are not afraid to attack you because of it. They call you names. They tell you that you're attributing human feelings to an animal. Provide "evidence" that declawing is not inhumane. Berate you for trying to make everybody hate them because they support declawing. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But whatevs.

All I did was provide my opinion and relate my experience, as requested. I don't really give a shit if people want to attack me for it. That's the risk you take.

I'm used to it. I have a blog.

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Thanks, Obama

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017

Dave!=sigh=

Back in 2008, I was an enthusiastic Obama voter. His advocacy for Hope and Change was a message that resonated with my loathing and disgust of the political machine that's been destroying this country for decades. I wasn't necessarily convinced that anything would change for the better... he's still a politician, after all... but I was hopeful that he would at least try and improve government transparency as he had promised in his campaign.

I was disappointed almost immediately. His seat in The White House wasn't even warm before President Obama's administration was classifying documents on ACTA instead of making them public as any government promising transparency would have done. The ACTA discussion was considered a "matter of national security" which was (and still is) fucking bullshit.

Obama and I were off to a bad start.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

But I kept telling myself anything was better than MIA/POW traitor John McCain and the shockingly idiotic Sarah Palin... even though a part of me wondered if that were true. Sometimes you're better off with the devil you know, and I had come to know the devil that is John McCain very well through my MIA/POW advocacy.

This is not to say that I didn't respect and admire Barack Obama as a person. Despite my many disagreements with how he ran things, I honestly think that he felt he was doing his best to represent the American people both at home and abroad. Needless to say, being President of the United States of America is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but President Obama always seemed to handle it with a grace and humanity that belied the horrendously difficult decisions he was called to make every day. He's a true leader who inspires people, which wasn't easy when his political rivals were determined to fight absolutely everything he tried to do and smeared him with hate and lies every single day.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

When it came to his re-election, I went candidate shopping. President Obama had proven a disappointment when it came to transparency and lobbyist reform, so maybe there was somebody else willing to take up the cause? My favorite GOP candidate was Jon Huntsman Jr., but he was (predictably) eviscerated by his own party, leaving us with Romney/Ryan... both of whom I loathed. Instead of voting for Obama as I had done in 2008, I ended up voting against Mitt Romney in 2012.

And so... another four years of President Obama. Maybe since he didn't have to worry about running again, he'd get around to his promises from the first time around?

Not so much.

If anything, government transparency worsened as Obama's administration ramped up drone strikes, expanded spying on American citizens, and made an overall heinous mess of foreign policy that was bad in ways even his most fervent detractors never saw coming. My opinion of President Obama took a dramatic downturn. Partly because I could not grasp how he was failing so badly... but mostly because I didn't understand why he was failing so badly. Sure, Republican opposition to absolutely everything made Obama less effective than he could have been... but things going sideways everywhere from Syria to Israel was clearly in his court.

And yet...

Despite it all, I still liked the guy. Probably because he made it so difficult to dislike him...

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama has always been warm, funny, kind, genuine, and, in so many ways... patriotic... in his service of the USA. Yes, he did some decidedly unpatriotic things, but I'm saying that as an outsider looking in. I don't know what he knows or what information he had that compelled him to make those decisions I didn't agree with. All I know is that there is no doubt Barack Obama cared for his country. And he did so even when his country didn't love him back. When they questioned his citizenship. When they said he was going to declare martial law, round everybody up, and put them in FEMA camps. When they accused him of planning to take everybody's guns. When they labeled him a Muslim terrorist. The list goes on and on. And yet he ultimately managed to rise above it all and become a great president. A few of my favorite hits...

  • Dramatically improved America's image in foreign lands. As a world-traveler, I am so very grateful for this. After being in the toilet from Bush missteps for years, I didn't have to be quite so embarrassed to be American abroad.
  • Expanded broadband internet access and promoted net neutrality. The internet is an equalizing force that must be made easily available and provided free from interference by assholes for everybody. Period.
  • Improved support for our veterans. I argue he didn't go far enough, but Obama made big moves to support those who served their country, cutting veteran homelessness in half.
  • Repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell." LGBT Americans have every right to serve their country the same as anybody else. This was a long time coming.
  • Aided in economic recovery, growth, and job expansion while working to reform Wall Street so they don't fuck us over quite so heinously next time and wipe out any gains we make in economic recovery, growth, and job expansion.
  • Salvaged the US auto industry, creating not hundreds... but thousands upon thousands of jobs in the process. Though I'm not a fan of this kind of government intervention, at least this time it was intervention for good!
  • Advocated for green initiatives in many areas. His efforts to support science and combat global warming, reign in pollution, and promote resource efficiency made the US a global leader in leaving a better planet for future generations
  • Took a stand on hate crimes by introducing new legislation. While the concept of "hate crimes" is controversial, I support any measure that aims to stem the tide of violence against people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any disabilities they might have.
  • At least attempted to do something about the sad state of health care in this country. Yes, it ended up being a mess and I still support single-payer reform to keep asshole insurance companies from destroying affordable care... but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and I can't fault him at least trying.

Of course his biggest accomplishment is probably serving two terms without some outrageous personal scandal erupting... quite a feat for a politician!

My admiration for President Obama is only eclipsed by my pride for our First Family. Michelle Obama was the epitome of beauty, style, grace, and heart. She used her position to advocate for those Americans who needed it most. Whether it was veterans in danger of becoming homeless with the Joining Forces Initiative... or children being inundated with unhealthy lifestyles and foods with the Let's Move! Campaign... or girls who were excluded from education around the world with the Let Girls Learn Initiative... our First Lady put in the work to improve the world. That she was also a mother to two wonderful girls who represented their country beautifully (even under the most heinous of circumstances) is just the icing on the cake. When it comes to a First Family, we really lucked out. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your service.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

And, naturally, the past eight years wouldn't have been the same without "Uncle Joe" Biden by his side. I never gave much thought to the Vice President all these years, but all that changed when I started reading about his tragic history... a history so devastating that I can't fathom how Biden continued to function, let alone serve his country. That such an enduring friendship between President and Vice President managed to come of it is remarkable given the toxic state of American politics (and is a friendship deeper and more heartwarming than I could have guessed). Many thanks, Mr. Vice President.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

And so...

We may have had our differences over the years, but that in no way diminishes my appreciation, gratitude, respect, and love for President Barack Hussein Obama, 44th president of The United States of America. I suspect that I will miss you every single day for the next four years.

Probably longer.

From the bottom of my heart... thanks, Obama.

   

Caturday 12

Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2017

Dave!We've hit a bout of above-freezing weather this week, which has the cats in and out of the catio all day and night. Especially Jenny, who just loves ripping it up out there. This has me forward to Spring when I'll start working on Catio: Phase Two, which will add even more cat-tastic fun! Though I'll probably be looking at installing gutters first, since the guy I hired never showed up and there's water everywhere.

I think the wet floor is why Jake would rather hang out with me on the couch...

Handsome Jake!

Jake Snuggler!

Jake Snuggler!

Not that Jenny spends all her time outside. She likes to snuggle up from time to time too...

Mopey Jenny!

Or sit around watching television...

Jenny Watches TV!

Also this week... I've started bribing them to spend time in the new cat carriers I bought for their vet visit next month...

Jake & Jenny Crate Training!

Not something I'm looking forward to. At all.

I'm pretty sure the cats won't be thrilled with the prospect either.

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Bullet Sunday 491

Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Dave!Don't despair that The Age of Darkness is upon us, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Inauguration! No, I didn't watch it. The last thing I felt like doing was celebrating a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, sexist, hypocritical bigot ascending to the highest office in the land. I did see photos in my newsfeed, however, and thought our new First Lady sure was lovely...

First Lady Melania!

First Lady Melania!
Photos from The Associated Press

Though she seemed to be channeling Jackie Kennedy's fashion sense...

Jackie Kennedy!

But, hey... if you're going to copy somebody, copy the best! Which is apparently what Trump's team did with the inauguration cake.

   
• Melania! I should confess that I have serious concerns for Melania Trump. What bothers me most is how badly our new First Lady has been slut shamed throughout the campaign because of her past. From all indications, she is doing her absolute best to be respectful to the role she has to play. She was radiant and classy at the inauguration. She seems genuine and sincere about living up to her obligations. She has even said she plans to use her new position to address such horrors as cyber-bullying. What more do you want from her? Go ahead and bash her for swiping First Lady Obama's speech or Jackie's clothes... or whatever... but not for her past, which was hers to live. In all likelihood, Melania Trump may well be the only thing that's half-way decent to come out of the Trump presidency, so cut her some slack.

Because her husband sure doesn't seem to. Facebook was exploding over the fact that President Trump seemed happy to ignore his First Lady at every opportunity. Given how nervous the poor woman appeared, this was kind of shitty... but not surprising. At The White House transition, he didn't bother waiting for her before bounding up the steps... then ignored her when it was time to go inside. Fortunately, President and Mrs. Obama were there to help...

Contrast and compare the same moment from the Bush/Obama transition (45 seconds in)...

And then there's this gem...

Stay strong, Mrs. First Lady!

   
• Size Matters. President Trump's obsession over the size of his crowd at the inauguration has me laughing so hard I almost can't breath. He even has his press secretary wasting valuable time admonishing the media over it. Like there's nothing more important for him to focus on right now other than how YUGE his crowds were? In all seriousness, YOU'RE THE PRESIDENT OF THE FUCKING UNITES STATES OF AMERICA, YOU PATHETIC PRICK! Is this the kind of petty dumbassery that's going to dominate your presidency for the next four years? Can you imagine the reaction by Republicans if President Obama were to spin his wheels over this kind of inconsequential bullshit? How fucking embarrassing for this country. Our Cheeto-Faced-Ass-Clown-In-Chief must have a penis the size of a Tic-Tac if something this idiotic has him so riled up. I can't wait until President Trump decides to compensate for his small dick by blowing off his YUGE nuclear arsenal. BWAH HA HA HA HAAA! We're all fucking doomed.

   
• Size Matters? In other news on crowd size... 20 Million Muslims March Against ISIS and The Mainstream Media Completely Ignores It. Because covering such a massive demonstration doesn't fit the media narrative that ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS! How can people complain that Muslims aren't condemning Muslim extremists when something like this is out there?

   
• Size Matters! And then there was the Women's March on Washington (and numerous other cities) which was an attempt to remind President Trump that the women-folk aren't going to go quietly into the night as their rights are threatened. Whether it's defunding Planned Parenthood where many women in poor and rural communities are able to get care... or restricting access to abortion as guaranteed by The Supreme Court... or continuing to marginalize women when it comes to fair and equal treatment in the workplace... ladies everywhere were marching. Even in Antarctica...

First Lady Melania!
Photo Credit to Linda Zunas

And that's all seven continents.

It would be nice to think that President Trump could take ten fucking minutes away from blowing himself on Twitter to use the march as inspiration to start taking women's issues seriously, but I think we all know that's not going to happen. Between shitting all over our military by saying rape is to be expected for women who enlist... to saying it's hard for women to be attractive if they don't have large breasts... to bragging about him sexually assaulting women... well, his record is pretty clear. And pretty disgusting. March on, ladies.

   
• Mantra! I keep seeing Republicans condemning people for not rallying behind President Trump "for the good of the country." Which is hypocritically insane given how they did nothing of the sort when President Obama took office. Both times. The unhinged reaction to Obama was based on outlandish shit that was mostly fantasy. The reaction to Trump is based on outlandish shit he's actually said and done. And while I usually attempt to take the high road and "rise above" when faced with this kind of crap, don't expect it this time around. Unless President Trump suddenly rejects all past action to become a shining beacon of tolerance, acceptance, equality, liberty, and freedom... he just doesn't deserve it.

Which is why I'm trying to come up with a song that I can use as a mantra for the next four years. I think I have it narrowed down to two...

It will either be this bit of genius from the movie Popstar by The Lonely Island...

OR... perhaps this classic from Lily Allen...

Decisions. Decisions.

   
And that's bullets for this Sunday. Fortunately President Obama never got around to taking our guns, declaring martial law, outlawing Christmas, enacting Sharia Law as a Secret Muslim, executing white people, putting everybody in FEMA camps, forcing everybody to get gay married, starting up death panels... or turned out to be The Antichrist... so I might just be back with more bullets next week.

   

Maintaining Focus in the Era of Hate

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Dave!

I touched on this yesterday, but the shit is really getting out of hand.

The loathing lobbied at both our former and current First Ladies has reached a level of toxicity so terrible that I'm almost afraid to login to Facebook or open Twitter.

Michelle Obama is one of the most beautiful, accomplished, and classy First Ladies to have ever graced The White House. The horrific racist comments and extreme levels of hate she endured on a daily basis breaks my heart. And yet she rose above and survived eight years of those who would demean, disrespect, and dismiss her. Michelle Obama is a role model of strength and conviction that has inspired the world in more ways than can be counted, and I am ever so grateful to have had her as a part of our First Family.

And now? Melania Trump looks like she's doing her level best to respect her new position and act with grace, dignity, and class. And yet her pick for a husband and past career choices are going to be wrapped around her neck like a boat anchor for the next four years. My heart goes out to her, and I truly hope that she has the strength to endure the hateful attacks that I keep seeing thrown her way over and over. I may loathe President Trump with the heat of a thousand suns, but he's earned that. From all appearances, First Lady Melania Trump has done nothing but try to be a good wife and mother in the face of overwhelming pressure. Her reasoning, her past, and her choices are hers. Until she proves me wrong, I'm just going to accept that she's done the best she can with her life and focus on the shit that actually matters.

But it doesn't end there.

Just as Sasha and Malia were the victims of disgusting attacks by their father's political opponents, now it's Barron Trump's turn.

Barron is 10 years old.

He's a 10 year-old kid.

I'm pretty sure he never signed up for this crap. I'm almost positive that he was never consulted over his father's words, actions, or political policies. He's just trying to be a kid under circumstances that would crush the strongest of adults... at 10 years old. His wealth and privilege aren't even on his radar yet. And nobody knows what his future holds. For all we know, he could abandon it all and become a monk... or dedicate his life to helping the poor... or use his wealth to benefit those in need. He is in a rare position to literally do whatever he wants with his future. Until he proves me wrong, I'm just going to accept that he's doing the best he can with his life and focus on the shit that actually matters.

And, needless to say, there's a lot of shit going on that needs focus right now.

   

The Cats of YouTube

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Dave!Today was a horrific day for the country in so many ways. I cannot fathom what it's going to be like after four years.

As if that weren't bad enough, I woke up to an idiopathic angioedema attack (which causes random swelling of random places like my tongue, throat, face, hands, or feet). Fortunately, it was just my right foot this time, which is painful and inconvenient... but not life-threatening like other areas can be. I took one of my massive antihistamine pills and hung out until I could put on shoes, then went to work knowing that it wouldn't last. Angioedema fatigue on top of antihistamines is a recipe for falling asleep at your desk.

I expected to head home at noon, but lasted until 2:30. Go me.

After napping for a few hours, I awoke to find that my foot had ballooned back up. So much for some desperately-needed vacuuming.

Which was okay with the cats. Especially Jake, who snuggled up to watch YouTube cat videos for a couple hours...

Jake Loves YouTube!

He can't get enough of those "funniest cats" compilations.

Jake has always been the more affectionate cat... but he's really been ramping it up this past week. He's crawling around my legs whenever I'm standing still. And he's all over me the minute I sit down. I don't know what it's all about, but I don't mind the company. Jenny still likes to sleep next to me on my bed and cry for the occasional cuddle. I guess that's enough for her.

And now... time to take another massive antihistamine pill and hope that something else doesn't decide to go all angioedema on me in the middle of the night. Especially not my tongue or throat... for which I keep an Epi-Pen on my nightstand, just in case.

Though waking up alive in America ain't what it used to be, so who knows if I'll actually bother to reach for it.

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Jake 25

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Dave!Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.

It's Jake!

   

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Jake 26

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Dave!Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.

It's Jake!

   

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Jake 27

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2017

Dave!Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.

It's Jake!

   

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Caturday 13

Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Dave!A woman once called my cats "ordinary" after I posted a photo of them when they were impossibly adorable kittens. I'm assuming she was referring to the fact that they were "merely" American shorthair cats, and exceedingly common. Unlike the three Persians that graced her profile.

It was kind of an odd reaction, because I never said anything about them being "extraordinary." I think she was probably just jealous that so many people commented that they were cute.

I asked her if her precious Persians could solve quadratic equations, because MY CATS FUCKING COULD! She never commented back.

Anyway...

This is not my week. First The United States of America ends up in the shitter and now my cats won't let me dry my washing! Jenny loves the clothes dryer. I can never get my clothes out fast enough because she hears the buzzer and immediately runs to the laundry room. Oooh... nice, warm clothes...

Cats in the Clothes Dryer

Once I manage to get my clothes out, Jake decides to hop in too. It'll be at least 15 minutes before I can put the next load in now. But... awwww... look how Jake has his arm around Jenny!

Cats in the Clothes Dryer

Jake sure has grown up to be a big boy!

Speaking of Jake... all the photos I've been posting lately have been on him hanging out with me watching TV. But Jenny does that too...

Jenny TV Watcher

Jenny TV Watcher

The difference being that when Jenny sees something that upsets her on the television, she will run up and smack it. For example, here she is about to smack a 5ive Gum commercial...

Jenny TV Watcher

Other times she will run up just to see what's going on in the world...

Jenny TV Watcher

Smacking my television is a bit upsetting, but she's always really gentle about it, so I don't say anything. When it comes to cats, you have to pick your battles. So far as Jenny goes, she pretty much behaves all the time, and I'd like to encourage that.

Jake, on the other hand?

Well... when he's not going places he shouldn't go (like the kitchen) and getting into things he shouldn't get into (like the water fountain reservoir)... he's doing things he shouldn't do.

Like smacking pictures on the wall. Which he does every chance he gets for whatever reason.

In most cases, I just remove or move the picture. But there is one picture that I can't really move... my original Pulp Fiction poster. It hangs in the stairwell below the banister, and you can only see it going down the stairs. Jake likes to lay on the banister and smack at it. Until I admonish him, at which time he'll sit there pretending he's just innocently looking at it...

Jake Smacker

You can see that he's made it all crooked.

Eventually I can't take how adorable he is and call him over for petting, which he loves...

Jake Smacker

AWWWWWWW! What extraordinary cats I have!

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Bullet Sunday 492

Posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Dave!We're all gonna die! Because an all-new Trump-inspired Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Chicago! I could fill this entire Sunday with the psychotic insanity of President Trump's first week in office... but there's numerous places doing a better job than I ever could (like here, here, here, here, here, and here). And yet... it's hard to say nothing in the face of current events. I mean, come on, the guy declared his own inauguration day "National Day of Patriotic Devotion." That alone puts Donald Trump's presidency in vivid relief. But, of course, he didn't stop there. One of his tweets, in addition to showing that he doesn't know how "quotes" work, called out Chicago for their "carnage." Which he will fix by sending in the Feds if they don't handle it to his satisfaction...

Cats in the Clothes Dryer
Always screencap Trump's tweets... he might delete them.

An interesting aside here...

So why does President Trump keep picking on Chicago when there are bigger fish he could call out? Obama, of course. That's where his political career started. It's also where it ended, as that's where President Obama gave his farewell address (Trump claimed two people were shot and killed while Obama was speaking, which turned out to be yet another lie). Trump's obsession with his predecessor will put Chicago in his crosshairs for all eternity. Might as well get used to it...

Except I will never get used to it.

   
• Protest! For people who think the Muslim Ban Protests are a overreaction... I disagree. Had Donald Trump not banged the anti-Muslim, xenophobic drum so constantly and consistently at all stages of his nomination and election, would the reaction to his temporary, selective ban be seen as something other than a "first step" to deporting and banning Muslims from the country permanently? We will never know. All we have is the hysterical ramblings of Donald Trump from which we can base our interpretation of Donald Trump's actions. Better safe in protest than sorry in despotism, I always say.

   
• Apples! Just a reminder... Steve Job's father was a Syrian refugee...

   
• War! Scariest story this week: China military official says war with US under Donald Trump 'becoming practical reality'

Watchmen Five Minutes to Midnight

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, everybody!

   
• Love! With all the horrors awaiting me every time I access the internet, it's nice to see something pop up that's actually good news for once. This is a sweet story that had me wondering for the millionth time how homophobic dumbasses like Michelle Bachmann can spout the kind of hatred she does. These guys could have very easily been killed just for being who they are. That they would somehow CHOOSE "evil homosexually" under such circumstances and endure what they had to go through for four years is insanity. That's adding idiotic complication to something so simple as two people falling in love...

Though I admit that I did laugh when they got that check for $25,000. It's a lot of money, of course... but in Seattle's housing market? LOL! Good luck, gentlemen!

   
• Welcome! The Netherlands welcomes President Trump!

America First! Yes! But the Netherlands, second. Tremendous.

   
And... here's to surviving another week!

Maybe.

I guess.

   

Travel Mexico

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017

Dave!It's going to be a long four years.


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel China

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Dave!It's going to be a long four years.


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Germany

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Dave!It's going to be a long four years.


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Australia

Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Dave!It's going to be a long four years.


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Greece

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Dave!It's going to be a long four years.


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Caturday 14

Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Dave!My cleaning routine is fairly basic. I divide the house into sections, tackle a section each morning... then vacuum on Saturday... and finally handle any needed repairs or remaining cleaning on Sunday. Simple, really. Except not really. BECAUSE CAT HAIR! GAAAAAHHHH! Cat hair goes beyond dusting and cleaning because it gets into places that require you to tear apart your home to get to. And so I do this on the first Saturday of every month. Which is today. This morning, in fact. Which means my house right now is the cleanest it will be for another month. It's been completely ripped apart with all furniture moved and every crevice vacuumed out.

And then... just as I was sitting down to type this... a clump of cat hair goes floating past the window.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?!? WHERE WAS IT HIDING? WHY, LORD... WHYYYYY?!?

It's interesting how my cat's behavior is ever-changing.

As an example, I have a water fountain that I bought for Spanky to try and keep him from meowing for the bathroom faucet. I've had it out for Jake and Jenny since day one. But, unlike Spanky, they never drank from the water spout... they just lapped from the bowl at the bottom...

Kitty Fountain!

Then today I noticed that Jake has started drinking from the water spout instead of the bowl, just like Spanky did. Jenny looks like she's trying to do that, but she goes in sideways and gets more on her face than in her mouth. Oh well. I'm sure she'll get it eventually.

When it comes to ordering pet food and supplies, I bounce between Petco, Amazon, and Chewy. Chewy was recommended by friends, and they've got the best prices on most things, so that's where most of my stuff comes from now. Especially food. You can tell when my bi-monthly shipment arrives, because the cat cupboard is full-up...

Cat Food!

Cat Food!

If there's one place in my house that's organized, it's the cat cupboard.

And then...

STEP ONE: Sniff at the box!

Cat in a Box!

STEP TWO: Step into the box!

Cat in a Box!

STEP THREE: Get in that box!

Cat in a Box!

And that's the way we do it...
It's a cat in a box!

At least they're taking turns...

Cat in a Box!

Cat in a Box!

Cat in a box, yeeeaaaaah!

And now, in security camera theater...

Listen to this and tell me that Fake Jake isn't possessed by Satan! It starts out mournful, but then goes full-on crazy. Note that when Fake Jake smashed into the catio fencing, Jenny ran inside. BUT THEN MY LITTLE TROOPER WENT RIGHT BACK OUT AGAIN! And... can anybody tell if Real Jake is growling back at Fake Jake? It kinda sounds to me like he is!

I have two sets of security cameras. One has video history, the other does not, and only stores a few clips at a time when it notices motion. I had an extra clip camera, so I decided to put it in the guest room, which is where the cats are always getting into trouble. A couple nights ago I heard a crash from the guest room while I was on the phone. When I got off the phone, I go running in and see this...

Cats on a bed!

I check the clip camera and see this waiting for me...

Cats on a bed!

Turns out Jake knocked another rabbit off the shelf. I'd be mad, but he's been playing Jungle Panther Cat lately, and he's too cute to be mad at...

Cats on a bed!

Alrighty then... until next Caturday...

Cute Jake!

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Bullet Sunday 493

Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Dave!It's the laziest of Super Bowl Sundays, because an all-new Video Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...


   
• The Right God.

   
• Our Reality.

   
• Our Reality, Redux.

   
• What About This Guy?

UPDATE: Here's the full story of Dan Lasko, as told to Pedigree...

   
• Conan.

   
Bullet Sunday will be back next week. Assuming there's a Sunday to put bullets on.

   

Monday Lessons in Angst

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017

Dave!I've been thinking a lot about existentialism and the authenticity of self as it defines the dread of existence lately.

Not sure why.

Might have something to do with it being Monday.

Kitty Fountain!

Or the fact that a neighbor decided to try and plow the street after last night' snow instead of waiting for the city to take care of it, and now there's a massive pile of snow in the street in front of my house.

That might be it.

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Tacoless Tuesday

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Dave!What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you on a Tuesday?

Getting your taco fixin's together for Taco Tuesday and finding out that the cats put the taco shell box back into the cupboard EMPTY so you have no idea that you're out of taco shells and Taco Tuesday is CANCELED!

Empty Taco Shell Box!

Taco salad it is then.

sigh

   

Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse 2017

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Dave!And so we're in the middle of yet another winter storm warning.

It's strange. I haven't seen this kind of snow in a long time, and yet... it's still not what it used to be. When I was a kid, we could literally tunnel under it from yard to yard. When my mom was a kid, she could jump off the roof into it. And yet... still a lot of snow.

The pile of snow in my yard is massive. Over five feet tall now. Not all of it is from my driveway though. The neighbors apparently think that all the snow on the street should be piled up in my yard as well. Here's what it looked like on Monday...

Dave Mountain!

There's probably been a foot more snow since then. Here's the view out my kitchen window...

Dave Mountain!

The cats love it though.

When it's snowing heavy, they're out in the catio batting at the snowflakes as they fall. When the snow spills in through the fence, Jake likes to lick it like a snowcone.

Tomorrow an ice storm is forecast, which is terrific news for driving on already-hazardous roads.

When I came home from work this evening, the streets in my neighborhood had not been plowed. Which means you have to go slow and work your way through. What you don't want to do is stop, because then you run the risk of getting stuck and not being able to start again.

Usually this is no problem. But when I turned onto the street that leads to my street, a woman was out shoveling with her dogs. Dogs that decided to run in front of my car. Needless to say, I was pissed. Control your fucking animals. I slowed down as much as I dared in an effort to work my way around the idiots, and nearly got stuck twice.

So when I turned onto my street and saw another dog out, I decided I wasn't stopping. I was going slow enough that the fucker could just get out of my way. Except he didn't, which led to me laying on the horn and nearly getting stuck again.

Why in the hell do people get a dog and not fence them up or keep them inside so they don't get hurt?

If this happens again and I end up getting stuck, I'm going to track down the owner and THEY can come shovel my car out of the street. I ain't doing it.

Welcome to my winter wonderland.

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Sunset Garage

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Dave!One of the benefits of living in a condo that has an HOA is that I don't have to worry about shoveling the driveway. I mean, I have to pay for it with my dues, of course... but there's no actual shoveling involved for me, so it's all good.

But what's even cooler than my shoveled driveway is what's at the end of it... my garage!

I've never had a garage before. I've never even had a carport. I've always been parking out in the elements, which makes for a miserable winter if there's an abundance of snow.

Like this year.

I mean, is there anything worse than getting up to go to work in the morning and having to clean a foot of snow off your car first?

Probably.

But it's definitely in my top-ten of most hated things.

If only the HOA would come and clean all of the junk out of my garage so I wasn't ramming my car into a pile of crap every day, that would be great.

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The Horrors of the Bedpan

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2017

Dave!When my grandmother could no longer live on her own and was moved to the nursing home, I packed up all her photo albums and memorabilia and stashed them in my storage unit. After she died, I put off going through everything because I was in the middle of moving house. Once I was moved, all her stuff went into my garage where it sat for a year.

Every once in a while, I go grab a box and rummage through it. Tonight I decided to tackle one of "the big ones" since I didn't bring any work home with me. The box is a hodgepodge of stuff that ranges from the late 1800's to the early 1900's... all of it interesting.

And if there's one thing I can conclude after sifting through this stuff for five hours, it's that people back then were crazy-weird. I can only guess that it was the non-stop boredom of living in a pre-internet society that drove them to be that way.

And if I open up one more damn envelope filled with hair, I'll be joining them. So gross. I mean, what was the obsession with saving hair? There's hair from babies... hair from birthdays... hair from people who just died... hair, hair, and more hair.

And then there's the letters.

People wrote a lot of letters back then. And they were really creative about it. Take, for example, the letter from my great-great-great-whatever that she wrote from the hospital. It included a kind of poem...

   

The Horrors of the Bedpan
by Gayle Monroe

I wanted to use the toilet
The nurses don't agree.
They say I use the "bedpan"
That thing's so cold on me.

I ring and ring the buzzer
I say I have to go.
Out comes the old cold bedpan,
I think, again? Oh no!

I sit and strain for hours
and then to my despair,
I think relief is coming,
but tis just a gust of air.

I grunt 'n' groan 'n' suffer
and then with an awful jerk
I let loose with a mighty stream
right over the end I squirt.

I ring again the buzzer
and then with an auful stink,
She wisked away my bedpan
and dumps it down the sink.

And then to my great horror
The job was just a stall
I backfired on a belch, Oh God!
It wasn't a belch at all.

I thought I'd clean it up
with the corner of my gown
That spot? It just got bigger,
A hideous glob of brown.

Most folks have their troubels
As you can by now see
A "slip" can be so treacherous
Just ask my cousin and me.

   
I mean, crazy-weird, right?

Where did the cousin come from at the end? Had she been there the entire time Gayle was in the hospital?

Maybe one of the other letters will explain it all. But probably not. It's crazier-weirder if it's a mystery.

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Pass Report

Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Dave!After winter storms closed down the mountain passes, I honestly didn't know if they would be open for my drive over today. Fortunately, they were not just open... but in beautiful shape... which made for an uneventful journey for me...


Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

   
Well... not really though. There was this car driving 45 in a 60mph zone, which had a lot of people pissed off. And since the jerk wouldn't pull over, cars were making dangerous passing gambits to get by. At one point the asshole behind me (fifth in line!) tried to pass, but then had to cut in front of me to avoid hitting a car. After slamming on the brakes so I wouldn't plow into him, I laid on the horn for entirely too long.

I can be an asshole too.

   

Bullet Sunday 494

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Dave!Stop what you're doing, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Stuff. This PBS article entitled Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parent's Stuff is a must-read if you're going to be the one cleaning out the house of a parent, friend, family-member, or loved-one after they pass on. It perfectly describes the sad reality I have been facing with my mom and grandmother's stuff. It's not like it's anything luxurious or expensive... but it's nice stuff that I assumed somebody would want and use. Nope. Can't even give it away... let alone sell it. And I tried absolutely everything I can think of. Dishes, furniture, knick-knacks... all of it ends up in the garbage, because I don't want to leave behind junk nobody wants when I kick the bucket. It's tough to make that call... but the memories aren't there for other people, and getting your head around that makes it easier to do what must be done.

   
• Reality. I'm just going to leave this link right here, because apparently there are people who need to see it: No One Wants to See ISIS Defeated More Than Muslims

   
• LEGO Dimensions! Way back in 2015, I reviewed LEGO Dimensions, which combines physical LEGO toys with the adorable puzzle-filled LEGO video games that I've been playing for a decade...

LEGO Dimensions Game

For the most part, I liked the game despite the tedious way that the LEGO toys have to be moved around on the "puzzle pad" to get through the levels... and the fact that you can't play 100% of the game unless you buy the toys required to play some areas that are locked off. For example, I don't care about LEGO Ninjago toys, and don't care if I play the Ninjago World that's in the game. But the main story has some spots where you have to have a Ninjago toy in order to use their "spinjitsu power" to unlock the door for a side-quest. That's pretty shitty. Eventually LEGO got tired of people (rightfully) bitching about this, and came up with "Hire A Hero" so that you can pay LEGO studs in-game to use a character that has a power you need to open a door (or whatever). It's a great solution when it works (sometimes I get to a place that I need to Hire A Hero but am not given the option for some reason). Even so, I'm kind of done with the game. OR WOULD BE IF THEY WOULD STOP RELEASING SUCH AWESOME ADD-ONS TO THE GAME!!! Lately LEGO has been killing it. The Mission: Impossible Level Pack was loads of fun. Ditto for the Adventure Time Level Pack, which was so faithful to the cartoon that you feel like you're INSIDE THE CARTOON. And they didn't stop there... they've got add-ons coming for everything from The A-Team and Knight Rider to Gremlins and The Goonies! Yes, the game-play is more of the same, but there's something about these unlikely but awesome add-ons that keep me playing.

   
• Akilah, Obviously. If you don't know who Tomi Lauren is, consider yourself lucky and skip this bullet. But if you do know who this moronic piece of shit is, then here's the ever-dreamy Akilah dropping the mic... on her head...

Akilah's entire YouTube channel is gold. I highly recommend checking it out.

   
• Poor. According to Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, being born into poverty is apparently a punishable offense. No surprise there. Our government has been doing this for decades. Eliminating living wage jobs then giving power to companies to exploit those caught in the fallout is essentially creating poor people then punishing them for being poor. But, hey... so long as the rich get richer, we'll continue to get the government they purchase for us, so carry on.

Except to say... I wonder if this STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLE even comprehends that, to kids, EVERY LUNCH IS A FREE LUNCH SINCE KIDS DON'T HAVE JOBS AND EVERYTHING IS PROVIDED FOR THEM. Probably not. STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLES are STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLES for a reason. This is not a bipartisan issue. I hope that people in Georgia wake up and vote out STUPID FUCKING ASSHOLE Jack Kingston for the good of all humanity.

   
• God Help Us. When even Iran... IRAN... can find humor in your president, you know you're in trouble...

The whole Trump presidency is just one horror after another, and it simply does not stop. Every fucking day there's a new disaster to pile on an already massive pile of disasters. It's quickly getting to the point where even Republicans are going to have to denounce President Pussy-Grabber if they value their jobs... or if they value avoiding World War III.

   
So many bullets, so little time... until next week, then!

   

Profoundly Perfect

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017

Dave!This afternoon as I was mentally preparing myself to drive home a day earlier than planned, I saw a kid with a Curious George backpack walk by. As I've mentioned numerous times, Curious George is a personal hero of mine, and any time I see him being embraced by a new generation, it's worth celebrating.

Which reminds me of my GoodReads review of one of my favorite books ever...

Curious George Goes to the Hospital by Margret Rey, H.A. Rey
★★★★★
Recommended to David by: God
Recommended for: All Humanity
   
Dave!After re-reading "Curious George Goes to the Hospital" I am convinced that it is the peak of literary perfection, unmatched by any other human accomplishment. The entire spectrum of drama is fully represented in a tale so filled with wonder and delight as to make all other books redundant. The fact that the story's wealth of knowledge and inspiration is so remarkably accessible to persons of most any age is surely a testament to the unarguable brilliance of Margret & H.A. Rey. I loathe to attribute something as mundane as a "Star Rating" to such a transcendentally significant work which redefines the boundaries of human/primate existence, and so eloquently conveys the folly and ultimate triumph of monkeykind... but if forced to do so under the GoodReads review standard, I offer TWENTY-SIX STARS (of which only five are be visible for some reason). You owe it to yourself... nay, you owe it to ALL HUMANITY... to read this literary masterwork and thrill to the sublime illustrated artistic triumphs which accompany it. "Curious George Goes to the Hospital" is, quite simply, the most profoundly perfect book ever created, and shall undoubtedly remain so until the end of time.

Yes. It really is that good.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my cats are crawling all over me because my being gone for two days apparently felt like it was two months.

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Valentine

Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Dave!I may be a little bit bitter about VD this year...


LEGO Dimensions Game

   

For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!

   

Fake Jake and Curiosity

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Dave!You might remember Fake Jake... the cat who looks a little bit like Jake, which resulted in my brother accidentally bringing him in while housesitting because he thought Real Jake managed to get out. He's also the cat that has been routinely terrorizing my cats when they're out in the catio... though they aren't so scared of him now that they realize he can't get in.

Anyway...

Fake Jake has learned my daily routine, which makes for some interesting times.

In the evenings, he knows what time I get home and will wait for the garage door to open so he can dash in before my car rolls up. This means I have to walk him out before closing the garage door so he doesn't get trapped... or, even worse... follow me into the house.

In the mornings, he knows what time I leave and will wait for the garage door to open so he can dash in after my car rolls out. This means I have to get out of my car, walk him outside, then "distract" him with some petting until the garage door closes...

Fake Jake Mornings

Fake Jake Mornings

He really is a sweet cat... even if he doesn't get along with my cats very well. And, despite living outdoors (even when it's freezing cold out) Fake Jake seems to be a happy, healthy kitty.

Probably a good thing my cats don't get along with Fake Jake... I'd be sorely tempted to steal him.

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The Veterinary Clinic Adventure

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Dave!This is a long one, so strap yourself in.

When I adopted my cats one year ago today, I was supposed to take them back to the vet in six weeks as follow-up for their spay/neuter surgeries and to get a booster for a shot they had just gotten. It was never going to happen. As feral rescues, they were still hiding under the couch most of the time at six weeks. I called the vet and was told that since they were indoor cats they could probably get away with waiting for their annual check-up in a year.

Which was today.

This was something I absolutely did not want to do. In preparation I had read several stories from people who had said that their cats became hostile towards each other after their first visit. Something about the vet smell screwing them up or whatever. Jake and Jenny are so sweet to each other that this would kill me, so I was about as nervous as I've ever been. My first time having sex was not nearly as nerve-wracking as this. Needless to say, I did not get any sleep last night.

And then, before I knew it, it was time to go.

Months ago I bought new pet carriers that had doors on the top. I had numerous people tell me that it was the best, least traumatic way of loading your cat for transport.

Thank heavens I did.

I had been training them to go into the carriers for the past several weeks by bribing them with treats. It never failed. Until today of course. Jake went right in. Jenny refused for some reason.

My whole plan was to lock Jenny in first, because she was the one I was most worried about getting to stay in the box. So I grabbed her, with the intent of dropping her through the top of her carrier. She put up a fight, but I got her in on the third try. The commotion agitated Jake, but I was able to shove him in his carrier before he could back all the way out of the box. I quickly locked all the doors, sprayed a shot of Feliway to calm them down, and... voíla... two cats, ready for transport...

Cats in Carriers

At first, they were quite calm about the situation. Yes, they were trying to open the doors and get out, but they were more curious than upset about their predicament. After giving them a few minutes, I hauled them out to the car. I had put a 2x4 in the back seat so they wouldn't be at an angle, then faced the doors towards each other so they could see they weren't alone.

Two minutes after pulling out of the garage, I honestly thought I was the luckiest person alive. My cats were still calm and collected. This was going to be a piece of cake!

Three minutes after pulling out of my garage, Jenny started crying. Seconds later, Jake had joined in. Guess I wasn't going to be so lucky after all.

But the real drama began once I hit the highway. Jake started yowling. Then he was thrashing in the carrier so violently that I was worried he was going to hurt himself. Jenny went catatonic and just laid in her carrier frozen in terror.

Eventually Jake calmed down, but still went into howling fits from time to time. Jenny was in some kind of shock and didn't make a peep.

22 minutes after leaving my house, I pulled into the veterinary clinic. It felt a lot longer than 22 minutes.

When I got out to check on the kitties, I noticed Jake was panting hard and his bedding was flipped on its side. On top of that, his nose was scraped up, the poor guy. His efforts to escape had him in a sorry state. But by the time I had checked in and came back out to get him, he was calm again.

The nurse weighed and took Jake's temperature first. He took it like a champ, then went exploring. Jenny had to be dragged out of her carrier, but managed to be weighed/temperatured without too much of a struggle.

Jenny Hides

The nurse left, then the adventure really began as we waited for the doctor. Jenny ran to hide immediately. First trying to hide under the paper towels...

Jenny Hides

But eventually finding a much better spot...

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

She would stay there until forced to leave.

When the doctor came in, he let Jenny be and took a look at Jake first. The good news is that Jake is in perfect health... but, not surprisingly, could stand to lose 3 or 4 pounds. While I distracted Jakey-Bear with head rubs, he got the vaccinations he needed and didn't even flinch. Then he tried to escape by jumping to the TOP SHELF of the cupboard, and failed miserably. Lucky for him, the doctor had quick hands and caught him before he hit the sink. "Wow. That was pretty good for a cat his size! If he was four pounds lighter he would have made it!"

For safety's sake, we loaded Jake back into his carrier.

Then it was Jenny's turn.

Bless him, the doctor was really sweet in trying to calm her down and make her comfortable. He even let her stay put for the first half of her exam...

Jenny Exam

He finally had to pull her down to give her vaccinations. It wasn't too bad... though I did have to hold her down because she was just not into being exposed in the open like that. The doctor said "you have beautiful cats," and then... $200 later... it was over.

Jake started yowling a bit as we were half-way home, but he wasn't thrashing around hurting himself this time. Jenny never made a peep, but I think she was just exhausted and not catatonic again.

When we got home, Jenny immediately ran upstairs. Jake started walking around the room smelling everything.

Eventually Jenny came downstairs to forgive me for such a betrayal...

Jenny Petting

Jenny Petting

Jenny usually likes gentle petting. But the harder I scrubbed her, the more she liked it. This left her looking a mess, but I think it helped get the vet smell off of her, which I'm guessing was the goal...

Jenny Scubbing

After twenty minutes or so, Jenny hopped off so Jake could have his turn. He was still pretty freaked out...

Jake Petting

But calmed down after five minutes or so...

Jake Petting

So... probably more traumatic for me than them, all things considered. Or so I'm guessing. What I do know is that =knock wood= I am so very glad I won't have a vet visit for another year...

Jake & Jenny Petting

In the meanwhile... all is well...

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The Joy of Home Automation

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017

Dave!I've long been fascinated with home automation... even before I had a home of my own where I could implement it. Once I actually got started with the stuff I became even more fascinated, because you just don't know what you can do until you're hip-deep in the culture. Depending on how clever you are (and how much money you're willing to spend), home automation is the ultimate lifestyle hobby.

Most people think that simple tasks... like turning lights on-and-off automatically or locking and unlocking a door remotely... is what home automation is all about. And they would be right. Except it can go so much deeper than that.

Take for example my morning routine.

I am usually up and working in bed around 5:00-5:30am. But my first task of the day... feeding my cats... doesn't happen until 7:00am. Once that time comes, here's what happens...

  • At 6:30am, the furnace/air conditioning comes on, as needed, depending on the temperature in the house.
  • If 7:00am happens before sunrise + 15 minutes, my bedside light, staircase light, dining room light, and kitchen light all come on.
  • I receive a text alert that it's time to feed the cats.
  • If a motion sensor isn't triggered in 15 minutes, I get another alert.
  • Once the cats are fed, I head back upstairs to get ready for work. A motion sensor sees this then turns off my bedside light and kitchen light, then dims the dining room light to 50%, if it was on (cats see better in low light than I do!). It also turns on the upstairs bathroom light and the shower fan.
  • After I'm finished in the bathroom, I say "Alexa, turn off morning bathroom," and everything shuts off there. If it's sunrise + 15 minutes or later, the stairway light goes off as well (if it were turned on).
  • When I leave the house, I tell Alexa and she shuts off any lights that happen to be on. The thermostat goes into "Away Mode" to save energy. Security cameras in private places (like my bedroom) turn on (they are off when I'm home).

It sounds kinda complicated, but it's actually dead simple to set up once your home is wired for it.

Take, for another example, garbage day.

I keep forgetting to put the garbage out on Wednesdays when I get home so it will be picked up Thursday morning. Thinking like a home automation hobbyist, I wonder how I can have my home assist me in remembering. The program to do that is pretty simple...

Home Automation Code

On Wednesdays after 2:00pm, my house is alerted to start looking for me to arrive home. It's able to do this because my iPhone (which is always with me) will trigger an alert whenever I am within 50 feet of my house. Once I arrive, a notification is sent to my iPhone which reminds me to take out the garbage. You can see it in my iPhones alert screen (which you have to read from the bottom up)...

Home Automation iPhone Alerts

The first message I get is that I've entered my "home zone"... then I get a reminder to "Take Out The Trash"... then the garage door opens (while the sensor in there lets me know there is now motion in my garage).

It worked perfectly, but I was worried I'd miss the alert if my phone were in my pocket. So I added a line of code to turn on the light outside my garage. It's easy to notice because it's green (for the Green Light a Vet project)...

Green Garage Light

So now, even if my phone is in my backpack or on silent or whatever, I still have a reminder that I need to take out the garbage can.

What I really need to do is get a bulb that can change color. Then, on alternating weeks, I could have it turn blue to remind me that the recycle bin also needs to be set out.

Ooh... then I could put a sensor on my garbage can and recycle bin so that the garage light is turned off once the task has been completed. That way I'll be saving energy until it gets dark and it comes back on automatically!

And then I could set up a security camera alert to let me know when the trash can and recycle bin have been emptied!

And then I could...

Yeah. Probably best to leave it at that. Home automation can get expensive, yo.

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Caturday 15

Posted on Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Dave!It's a lazy Saturday.

Which is fine for the cats, but I've got stuff to do. Which would be fine except the cats are lazing all over me as I try to get my work done...

Lazy Kitties

Or begging for attention...

Lazy Kitties

Eventually they decided the floor next to me was close enough...

Lazy Kitties

And now? Back to work for me...

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Bullet Sunday 495

Posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Dave!Stop what you're doing, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Phone Home? Are you an American who travels internationally? Or a foreigner visiting the USA? Then here's an article for you: I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you. We're quickly coming to a point where personal privacy and freedom is being tossed right out the window. It's only going to get worse.

   
• This Guy. Thank heavens John Oliver has returned from hiatus to save our sanity...

And just when you think things can't get worse...

   
• Sorry. It would seem an apology to Sweden is in order...

WE LOVE SWEDEN!

Guess I'm going to have to make apology graphics for all the countries of the world. I'm confident President Trump will get around to saying stupid shit about all of them eventually...

We Love the World!

And I thought George W. Bush was a fucking embarrassment.

   
• Merry Marvel. The little promos that Marvel is releasing in anticipation of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok have been really funny. This past week they released Team Thor: Part 2...

The surprising thing is that the next Thor movie isn't here until NOVEMBER! Before that we've got Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on May 5 and Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7. If you haven't seen it yet, Team Thor: Part 1 can be found on YouTube.

   
• Gerrymandering. Yes. It's time to stop this fucking bullshit...

We get the government politicians buy for us. Time to start giving a shit.

   
• PAY! PAY! PAY! As I mentioned a while back, LEGO addressed complaints about having to buy additional toys to complete a mission by adding "Hire a Hero" where you can have temporary access to the toy you need... for a price. A price that gets more expensive the more often you need it. But... hey... beats having to buy a LEGO set you don't want, right?

Not really.

As I found out by playing the LEGO Dimensions Knight Rider fun pack, you need the LEGO Dimensions Mission: Impossible level pack because the 30 seconds you get for "Hire a Hero" Ethan Hunt isn't long enough to solve one of the puzzles. And now I find that I can't really completely LEGO Dimensions A-Team fun pack without the LEGO Dimensions Adventure Time level pack because the 30 seconds you get for "Hire a Hero" Finn the Human isn't long enough to solve one of the puzzles.

LEGO Dimensions A-Team!
I PITY THE FOOL WHO MAKES ME BUY MORE SETS TO COMPLETE THE SET I JUST BOUGHT!

Needless to say, this is pretty shitty. When you "Hire a Hero" you should get to keep that hero until the puzzle has been solved. Anything less is just going right back to a massive paywall that's incredibly unfair. But... there's money to be made, so whatever. Guess buying one toy will never be enough.

   
AND I AM DONE WITH BULLETS FOR THE WEEK!

   

It’s a Holiday…

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017

Dave!...or something. The reason I know this is that there was nobody at work when I showed up.

Oh well. Seems as good as time as any to say don't forget to wipe.


Toilet Paper Roll

   

   

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Kickstart My Heart

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Dave!If you're not familiar with sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and IndieGoGo, they are fundraising sites where individuals and companies can bring a product or service to market without having to find investors. Essentially, the people backing their fundraising campaign become the investors and are repaid with "rewards" that often include the product/service itself. Most famous of these would be something like the Veronica Mars movie, where fans of the awesome TV show pitched in $5,700,000 to help get a film sequel made.

I've backed around 35 projects from these sites, and most of the time end up regretting it.

But I keep buying into the idea because every once in a while it's worth it.

As I pledged to yet another project this morning, I thought I'd run through ten of my most memorable campaigns from the past six years...

  • Flag - Free Photo Prints Forever
    Price Paid: $25 — Received?: No — Verdict?: Scam
    Usually the word "free" is a massive red flag to be avoided at all costs, but Flag's business model actually seemed legit. They subsidize the cost of their high-quality prints by selling advertising on the backs of any prints ordered. The fundraising campaign was to get the money needed to buy the equipment required to get started. Anybody backing the project get moved up the list of when they could started getting 20 free prints a month. Everybody was raving about the quality, so I thought $25 was a small price to pay for those times I wanted occasional prints of my snapshots. Well, I paid back in October, was initially given a start date of December... then kept seeing the start date moved further and further back. Right now I can't order my first batch of prints until May. It wouldn't shock me if it keeps moving back and back, because the people behind Flag have stopped all communication about the project. Odds are, I'll never see anything for my $25 at this rate.
  • Everyday Backpack
    Price Paid: $380 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Legit
    Peak Design is a respected company that has partnered with photographer heavy-hitter Trey Ratcliff in the past. They are deep into photography culture and seem to really know what photographers want out of their gear. Given my horrible experience in getting a decent camera bag, I was intrigued when Peak started a campaign for a backpack that looked too good to be true. I signed up not only for the bag, but for a slew of other products that all looked pretty great and had reviews that were stellar. When the backpack finally arrived, it was a pretty decent product. Not perfect, by any means, but better than what I had been using. I'll post a review sometime in the future... but, in the meanwhile, suffice to say that I wish the zippers were bulkier, the straps were more padded, and the organization was more functional. Otherwise? A decent investment.
  • CUJO - The Smart Way to Fight Hacking
    Price Paid: $209 — Received?: Yes/Refunded — Verdict?: Returned
    Since most everything in my house is connected to the internet, security has become a valid concern. The idea of somebody hacking into a thermostat to gain access to the entire house is an actual possibility. Problem is, great security is cumbersome and expensive. So when a device called "CUJO" came along which promised to solve all this, I jumped at the project. Thanks to IndieGoGo's shitty website, I actually ended up backing the same project three times... so I guess you could say I did more than jump on it... but the people at CUJO were good about getting it all straightened out, so no harm no foul. Except... I could never get the product to work, despite hours on the phone with tech support and multiple attempts at configuring/resetting/configuring my router. Apparently how CUJO works is by using "ARP spoofing" which kept taking my entire network down. Ultimately I returned the product for a refund because it (apparently) wouldn't work for my setup... but not after wasting many, many hours trying to get it to work for me. Oh well.
  • Luup Litter Box - The Best Cat Litter Box Ever Made
    Price Paid: $98 for 2 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Garbage
    Before I even got cats, I knew I would be getting cats, and part of having cats is having to deal with the horrors of their litter boxes. Luup promised to make the chore a pleasure with their interesting technique of layering three interlocking trays that have slots in the bottom. When it comes time to clean the litter box, you lift the top tray, sift out the waste, dump it, then place that try on the bottom so as to set up the cycle for next time. It's a great concept. In theory. In practice? Not so much. First of all, the plastic they used bonds to pee like cement. I never, ever, got to just sift out the waste... I was forever scraping it off the sides of the tray (or, out of the slots, which was horrible). Essentially, this fatal flaw defeated the entire purpose of the product. To make matters worse, if you accidentally stack the tray the wrong way? Litter everywhere. Sometimes you get litter everywhere even when you do stack them correctly. Ended up hating the Luup trays so much that I ditched them for "regular" litter boxes again.
  • Aftermaster Pro - Hear the Dialogue on Your TV
    Price Paid: $150 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Jury Still Out
    If there's one thing I hate, it's having dialogue in a TV show or movie completely obliterated by background noise, music, special effects, or whatever else the audio mixer assaults it with. Enter Aftermaster Pro, a device which claims to have solved all of this. I was skeptical, obviously, but the company is a huge success in the music market (attracting partners like Justin Timberlake), so I signed up. $150 is a drop in the bucket compared to how much I've spent on my home theater, so why not? I finally got the product after months of waiting, and am still not sure it's worth it. What it seems to be doing is boosting volume in the mid-tones (where dialogue lives) which IS an improvement... but nothing I couldn't have done with a cheap equalizer. The company claims that there's a lot more going on, and I'm inclined to trust them on that, but I'm just not getting the massive improvement in experience that I was expecting. I dunno. Maybe after some more comparisons and testing I'll feel otherwise but, in the meanwhile, I wish I had saved my money.
  • PUGZ - World's Smallest Wireless Earbuds Charged Through Phone
    Price Paid: $119 — Received?: Eventually — Verdict?: Scam
    I've purchased three or four pair of wireless Bluetooth ear buds since they first started making them. Most of the time I end up disappointed. The sound is bad. The connectivity is flakey. The sound fades in and out. They're just not worth it, and ultimately I end up going back to wired earbuds. But then came PUGZ. Not only did they advertise being the smallest you can get with amazing audio quality... they were also able to recharge from your iPhone! Sweet! Sign me up! And then... ended up being my most regretted Kickstarter purchase ever. First of all, they never got Apple certification to charge from the iPhone as promised. They SHOULD have canceled the campaign and refunded right then and there, because now I'll be charging from a USB cable just like all the other Bluetooth earbuds I bought. But they didn't. Oh well... I'll still be getting amazing sound quality, right? Nope. The audio is so fucking terrible that they are basically unusable. Weak-ass bass. The highs are tinny and have static in them. Battery life is also shitty. I hate my PUGZ, and can't believe I wasted $119 on them when I could have got a pair of Apple AirPods for $40 more by the time I finally got the damn things. If any project taught me a lesson, it's this one. I will never, ever back an unestablished company for this kind of money again. Utter garbage.
  • I Wonder What It's Like to Be Dyslexic - Book
    Price Paid: $35 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Fantastic
    As somebody who is mildly dyslexic, I often struggle trying to explain what it's like to be me and read something. Most of the time, it's not a big deal, as my brain has adapted so well to the situation that rarely even notice it. But sometimes... usually when it's a weird typeface or I'm tired... just reading a simple passage can be a huge ordeal. So when I stumbled across the idea of a book which illustrates how it is for a person with dyslexia, I was all over it. And, for $35, it ended up being one of my favorite Kickstarter projects. The book is beautiful. And while I'm not sure it tells the entire story of reading while dyslexic (a printed book can't show movement of the letters, which is a big part of it), the book does get the general point across. If you want to learn more about the project, here's a link to Reedeeng, the site behind the book.
  • The Veronica Mars Movie Project
    Price Paid: $50 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Fantastic
    As a huge, huge, massively huge fan of one of the best television shows to ever grace my television, Veronica Mars, it was a complete no-brainer to back the project for a movie sequel. And it was worth every penny. While the movie suffered from the fact that it had to be accessible to people who hadn't seen the television show, and wasted time on back-story and cameo appearance distractions. But, ultimately, it was a really good story with a terrific central mystery and packed with stuff any Veronica Mars fan would love. As a backer at the $50 level I got a digital copy of the film, which was the perfect award. If Rob Thomas were to start a sequel movie campaign, I'd be one of the first people to sign up.
  • Help Fund The Local Strangers' 1st Full-Length Album
    Price Paid: $155 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Legit
    Years ago I had just finishing up a day of work in Seattle and was hanging out with work-friends. They all wanted to go out since it was a Friday night, but I was too tired and not feeling it. I just wanted to go back to my hotel and crash. I changed my mind after a friend Googled the band that was playing at a nearby club called "The Local Strangers." Turns out it consisted of Aubrey Zoli... whom I hadn't heard of... and Matt Hart, who was from Chicago. "Matt Hart" sounded familiar, and I suddenly realized that it was most likely the Matt Hart from "Cobalt and the Hired Guns," a Chicago band that I had become a fan of in my many trips working in the city. Turns out it was that Matt Hart, so off I went. And had a great time. And became a fan of the band. So when I found out they had a Kickstarter to raise money for their first album, I went for the full-on package of $155, which meant I would get any music and merch they put out plus free entry to their shows, so long as the band was a band. And while I don't know that I'll ever get $155 in merch and music out of the deal... that wasn't the point. I got to help a local band I liked, which means more than the money I spent. You can take a listen to their stuff and learn more about the band on their website right here.
  • Project GODUS
    Price Paid: $46 — Received?: Yes — Verdict?: Scam
    Peter Molyneux is responsible for one of my favorite games of all time... Populous. So when he decided to revisit the "God Game" genre with a new title that took advantage of everything modern computers have to offer, I didn't even think about signing on. That turned out to be a mistake. The game was glitchy and I lost progress often. The gameplay was repetitive and boring. Many of the features that Molyneux promised were never delivered. The game was ultimately abandoned.

And... that's a wrap. Looks to be a mix of hits and misses I can live with. If nothing else, it's been a learning experience that has me being a lot more cautious now than I used to be.

   

Chained to the Rhythm

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Dave!Katy Perry has a catchy catalog of hits which she supports with a variety of excellent music videos. She's an artist of talent and vision, and I've always respected her for the visual "world" she creates, even though I've not always been a fan of her music.

Her latest video for Chained to the Rhythm has just been released, and my estimation of her has ticked up a notch.

Yes, it's unnecessarily complex in spots for a pop song, but I do like it... and the video is amazing. On the surface it's all clever eye candy... but there's some depth there.

And a message...

Good luck getting that hook out of your head. It's been stuck in mine all day.

You're welcome.

UPDATE: KAty performed the song at The Brits and it was pretty spectacular...

A lot of work went into that performance!

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Winterbreak

Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Dave!As if Wrabel wasn't a big enough gift, Jester has turned me onto another musical obsession... MUNA. A three-girl band out of Los Angeles.

The song Winterbreak is effortlessly haunting and beautiful, and is everything I love about the band wrapped up in a single song...

   

If you've heard a song by MUNA, it's probably I Know a Place which is poppy perfection...

   

And their latest bit of lyrical wonderment is called Around U...

   

Needless to say, this is an easy bet for one of my favorite albums of 2017

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Same Bat-Friday

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2017

Dave!It's all going to be okay.

Eventually.


LEGO Batman

   

   

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Caturday 16

Posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Dave!My life with cats.


Kitties

Kitty Toy

Kitties

Kitties

   

Which is probably better than my life without cats, I'm guessing.

   

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Bullet Sunday 496

Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Dave!Don't panic just yet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• A Simple Difference. I love advertising that really makes you think, and this ad from Australia is absolutely brilliant in getting its point across. Before watching, it may be helpful to know that Aussies use BBQ sauce the way Americans use ketchup. And Aussie tomato sauce is much like ketchup except not...

For an equivalent American context, the guy telling his dad he likes tomato sauce is the equivalent to going to Chicago and telling the hotdog vendor that you want ketchup on your dog.

   
• Dyer for Govorner! Now THIS is transparency on a candidate website! Not really anybody's business but his, but I get why he's written it. I think most people would hemorrhage if they were to have this kind of insight into the people they've elected. Well, except for President Trump. Apparently he can do whatever the fuck he wants... no matter how heinous... and it doesn't matter to his supporters. Even though those same supporters have condemned the same activities in others.

   
• Dimensions Now that Disney Infinity has died, I am really, really hopeful that LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes will end up in LEGO Dimensions. The epicness of such a fusion would almost be too much for me to handle. Darth Vader driving the Batmobile? Spider-Man slinging through Adventure Time world? Catwoman meeting Black Panther? The possibilities... the possibilities...

Big fun awaits... if Disney will play ball.

   
• HeLa Can. Not. Wait. The book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was excellent. And while I've never liked Oprah as a talk show host, I've always loved her as an actor...

If you haven't read the book, it's worth a look.

   
• Ross! Be yourself. Unapologetically. Be like Ross and let the haters hate on... it's all they have...

Ross has got to be one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. Milo Yiannopoulos has got to be one of the biggest assholes on the planet. There is no contest here. None.

   
• ALARM! Why is the iPhone alarm system so shitty? Can't skip an alarm without turning it off. The alarm plays... FOREVER... instead of turning off after a few minutes. The snooze feature is absolute garbage because it's so inflexible. The list goes on and on. If you use your iPhone as a clock like I do, this is a daily frustration that drives me bonkers, especially on the weekends. Apple... you have BILLIONS of dollars. Why not take a fraction of that money and fix your shit?

   
And... aren't we all glad that's over?

   

Mini Fake Jake

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2017

Dave!And so Fake Jake has a new friend.

Kinda.

When I opened the garage this morning, it was two cats I found waiting for me. Introducing... MINI FAKE JAKE!!

Mini Fake Jake!

Mini Fake Jake likes to follow Fake Jake around, which Fake Jake finds very irritating. Poor Mini Fake Jake is constantly being swatted away...

Mini Fake Jake!

Mini Fake Jake!

Mini Fake Jake is shy, but completely adorable.

And now I have to chase two cats out of my filthy garage each morning...

Mini Fake Jake!

I sure hope that Mini Fake Jake has a home to get back to. It's still fairly cold at night.

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City of Angels

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Dave!And so here I am back in California for another quick work trip. Though, unlike my previous trip to San Diego which was a breezy nine hours, I'm sticking around Los Angeles for a couple extra days to decompress a bit. I haven't had a vacation in over a year, so it's the least I can do.

The good news is that the weather is supposed to be beautiful for the length of my stay. Given the flood of rains that have been pelting SoCal, that's a pleasant surprise.

The bad news is that I couldn't fly out yesterday, so I had to take an early morning flight to make my meeting...

        "Alexa? Set an alarm for 3:30am."

        "I've set an alarm for 3:30am."

        "Alexa? Kill me now."

I don't sleep very well these days, but I do like laying around in bed. Even if I'm working in bed. Having to drag my sorry ass out of bed at such a heinous hour makes me stabby.

Just ask my cats.

Not that they're happy about it either.

Jenny brings me toys every morning as some kind of tribute. I think that she thinks she has to bring me stuff so I'll get up and feed her. Some mornings she brings one toy... other times she'll bring a half-dozen. The hungrier she is, the more she seems to bring.

This morning when I got up at 3:30 to take a shower, Jenny flew into a panic and ran downstairs to start dragging toys up to me. Since I wasn't in my bedroom, she was confused as to what she should do, so she started making a pile in the upstairs hallway...

Kitties

Poor thing probably thinks she overslept!

Though my cats definitely have a better sense of time than I do, so who knows what goes through her fuzzy little head.

Anyway...

After having made sure that the Litter-Robot was emptied, the Feed-And-Go was filled, the television was turned on with the brightness lowered, and the extra litter boxes were set out, I was off to the airport.

Two flights later, and I was back in L.A.

A city for which I have mixed feelings.

Way back in the day, I worked on a project here over seven months. It was nice money, but having to fly back and forth every other week was tough. Even tougher was having to deal with the business behind showbusiness, which was awful to a mentally-debilitating extreme. Turns out I just wasn't cut out for the Hollywood lifestyle... nice as it was to live it for a little while.

But hey... after work I get to go to Disneyland, so there's that.

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The Happiest Place on Earth

Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Dave!I was supposed to fly home today since work is done, but I decided to stick around and hang with Mickey Mouse instead. The last time I was in Disneyland was four years ago. A lot has happened since then.

And I don't just mean that The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is closed for repairs... though that is irritating since it's my favorite theme park ride ever, and the Disneyland version is better than the Disney World version by a long shot.

No, what's happening is a shockingly large expansion of the park to include the new "Star Wars Land" that's being built just above Frontierland. You can catch glimpses of it from the top of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride and the Splash Mountain ride, but Nearmap has an aerial view that reveals the true scope of the project...

Star Wars Land Aerial View by NearMap
Image copyright NearMap... CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESOLUTION

To give you an idea of just how huge that is, I've draw it on a Google Map of the entire park...

Star Wars Land Overlay Map

It's a safe bet that eventually "Rivers of America" will be made back into a loop so that the river rides and Tom Sawyer Island will be running again... but they're probably having to make adjustments to keep Star Wars Land separated off from Frontierland so the illusion of being in a "world" won't be spoiled.

Even so, that's a massively huge addition to Disneyland. I figured that since Disney World has so much land available that theirs would be big... but Disneyland? Who knew? The end result is probably going to be double the size of Tomorrowland, and they've still got room for future expansion.

Here's some concept art from Disney showing what Star Wars Land will look like...

Star Wars Land Concept Art

Star Wars Land Concept Art

Yeah... definitely returning to take a look at that.

But I first need to get back to Disney World because they've got "Pandora: The World of AVATAR" opening up in May.

In other news... The Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade is back. As I was leaving the park last night, I heard the music start up. It's the same music they used for the parade when I first visited Disneyland in 1976. The minute I heard it, I was ten years old again. The floats look to be the same as well... but, hey, that was forty years ago, so I could be mistaken. Interestingly enough, the parade doesn't seem dated at all.

Given that this is February, the crowds at the park were surprisingly dense.

I usually stay at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel (one of my favorites, because it reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World), but that was booked solid. The Disneyland Hotel was likewise unavailable. I thought I might finally get to stay at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, but that was a no-go as well. Why aren't all these kids running around in school?

Pirates of the Caribbean being closed wasn't the only disappointment. Tower of Terror is closed as well because it's being re-themed as a ride for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Prepare yourself for Joe Rohde and his absurdly stupid earring...

On one hand... it's upsetting that Tower of Terror will be no more. It was a great ride that perfectly integrated The Twilight Zone into the narrative. On the other hand, it will be nice to have something new... and it will feature movie characters I love.

Guess there's always Tower of Terror at Disney World... but that ride was never as good, because so many of the cool features of the Disneyland version were abandoned (such as the elevator car leaving the shaft to venture out into the hotel).

One transformation which has already been completed is "Space Mountain" becoming "Hyperspace Mountain" back in 2015. Decked out with all-new Star Wars theming, it is an even more awesome experience than before. I rode it last night and was surprised at just how well it works. They try to make it seem as though you're in a high-speed space battle, and you actually feel it. Sure, the glimpses of Star Wars elements are brief... you're on a roller coaster after all... but they've added laser blasts and other nifty things to really sell it. That alone was worth the price of admission.

And speaking of the price of admission...

Holy crap is Disneyland expensive. Usually I get free tickets from work, but that program ended back in January. I went to buy my own tickets and nearly fell into shock. I was going to get three days for $315, but four days was only $20 more so I thought "What the hell?" and did that. Even two days is a whopping $244 (Park Hopper), so you might as well go full boat. Especially if the park is busy, as you'll spend most of your time standing in line.

And now... time to go out and enjoy the lovely weather they're having here. Though it still gets cold at night, the days are ll sunshine and clear skies. A nice change of pace from the overcast skies and snow back home.

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Disney Top Twenty Attractions

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Dave!My favorite theme park attraction of all time was Universal Studio's Back to the Future: The Ride. It was absolutely flawless in execution and felt like an essential part of the Back to the Future movie trilogy in a way that other movie tie-ins can only dream of. Alas, it was gutted so as to install a ride for The Simpsons which is only half as good... so if you never got to ride it, you're out of luck.

Many people find it surprising that my favorite didn't come out of Disney, since they are the company that popularized the entire concept of a theme park. No, they weren't first, but they came along and did it bigger and better than anybody else ever had... partly in thanks to having such an established brand with a multitude of characters and properties that translated perfectly into attractions.

That being said, I decided to rank my favorites from both Disneyland and Walt Disney World into a single list. Partly because I want to make sure I don't miss an attraction for my time here... but mostly because I don't feel like working tonight...

  1. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (DL WDW)
    Proving that Disney was the right home for the Star Wars universe all along, this space flight simulation attraction in a moving theater got a serious upgrade when they randomized segments so it's practically never the same ride twice and made the whole thing in 3D. Epic in scope, it's a great Disney experience on either coast. Though the queue is far better at Disney World, the attraction itself is the same.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean (DL WDW)
    If there's a ride that sets the tone for everything that a Disney attraction can be, it's this one. The Disneyland version is vast, with an abundance of signature moments that build a complete "world" for you to inhabit. Even with the Johnny Depp upgrades, the ride still feels a bit dated, but it's such a great experience that I just don't care.
  3. Soarin' (DL WDW)
    Originally called Soarin' Over California this immersive theater experience (complete with smells!) is so breathtakingly awesome that you never tire of it. The attraction was recently changed to Soarin' Around the World featuring world landmarks in a very cool way, but I kinda miss the California version.
  4. Expedition Everest (WDW)
    Disney's themed roller coasters are always fun, but reached its peak (so to speak) when Expedition Everest. The fact that they added a new level of thrills by having a portion of the ride run backwards is just the icing on the cake. The Tibetan theming throughout the ride is immersive and wonderful.
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (DL WDW)
    The roller coaster itself is nothing groundbreaking... it's the way that it's themed that makes this ride so darn compelling. Old West elements tied together with a runaway train on a fun track go a long way towards creating a memorable attraction.
  6. Splash Mountain (DL WDW)
    A flume ride to end all flume rides, Splash Mountain integrates Br'er Rabbit and company into a terrific story that sweeps you up as it sweeps you along. The plunge at the end has real weight to it, making this a heavy hitter in the thrill ride department. The version at Disney World has side-by-side seating that's a lot more comfortable than the Disneyland version.
  7. Hyperspace Mountain (DL) — Space Mountain (WDW)
    Having a roller coaster dark ride was always a fantastic concept, making Space Mountain an immediate hit. But then they added a Star Wars overlay and re-christened it Hyperspace Mountain which elevated the ride to a whole new level. Unfortunately, that's something they don't offer at the Disney World version, which would probably drop that version down on my list a few notches.
  8. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (DL WDW)
    Leave it to Disney to make a tower-drop ride interesting. By building a creepy hotel around it and adding The Twilight Zone theming, Tower of Terror is one of those attractions that uses story to make the mundane something special. The Disneyland version has the drop-car leaving the elevator shaft and wandering out into the hotel, which makes it a much better ride than the static Disney World version. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how it turns out, the Disneyland version is dropping The Twilight Zone in favor of a Guardians of the Galaxy: Breakout ride. Could be a disaster. Could be just the ticket to rejuvenating an aging attraction.
  9. Haunted Mansion (DL WDW)
    This timeless attraction is low on thrills, but the painstaking attention to detail and creepy atmosphere makes it a far better "haunted house" than it has a right to be. The original at Disneyland is probably my favorite... even though the extended queue at Disney World adds more cleverness to an already clever ride.
  10. Mission: SPACE (WDW)
    Disney took NASA's High-G-Force Centrifuge and turned it into a nifty simulation of what astronaut training might be like for a mission to Mars. The result is surprisingly good, though not for everybody. If being accelerated to 2.5Gs is too intense for you, there is a "non-spinning" option that you can ride, though it kinda defeats the purpose of the attraction.
  11. Toy Story Midway Mania! (DL WDW)
    Probably the most refreshing concept for a Disney attraction in ages, you board a moving car that takes you from one 3D "shooting gallery" to another, where you hit targets by pulling on a string attached to a "blaster" at the front of your car. It's cute. It's fun. And it's themed flawlessly for the Paradise Pier midway at Disneyland's California Adventure. Since Disney World doesn't have a midway, they have you taking a trip into Andy's room (from Toy Story) which is almost as cool.
  12. Ellen's Energy Adventure (WDW)
    It's amazing to me how well this attraction holds up after 20 years. It's part comedy movie, part educational film, part ride, part diorama... and all entertaining. And, in addition to Ellen DeGeneres, you also get Bill Nye The Science Guy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Alex Trebek with Jeopardy. Every time I ride it, I'm afraid that it will be replaced before I return to Epcot.
  13. Radiator Springs Racers (DL)Test Track (WDW)
    Disney took their Test Track technology (boarding a six-seater car to drive through automotive endurance tests, then a high-speed run on a test track) to a higher level when they built an entirely new addition to California Adventure around the concept of Pixar's Cars. In addition to a lot of huge animatronic characters from the film, you ultimately get to "race" against another car in a (relatively) high-speed drive through the Cadillac Mountain Range from the movie.
  14. California Screamin' (DL)Rock n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (WDW)
    Two really good rollercoasters. It's as simple as that.
  15. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye (DL)Dinosaur (WDW)
    While two very different concepts, both of these attractions feature a ride in "Enhanced Motion Vehicles" over a bunch of simulated hazards. You'd think that the Indiana Jones theming would make the Disneyland attraction a far better experience, but that's not really the case. In fact, before Dinosaur was re-themed to be a crappy movie tie-in, it was called Countdown to Extinction and actually a better ride. Now? Not so much, and I'd definitely put Temple of the Forbidden Eye first.
  16. Kilimanjaro Safaris (WDW)
    Until I actually went on an African safari, I thought that Kilimanjaro Safaris was undoubtedly a highly abstract idea of what a real safari might be like. I was wrong. It's shocking just how faithful Disney was in trying to recreate the experience. The massive potholes in the roads. The sounds. The smells. The animals (when they're out)... this is as close as you can get without stepping foot in Africa. Yes, it's been Disneyfied, but mostly in a good way. As an aside... if you plan in advance and have money to burn, I highly... highly... recommend booking the Wild Africa Trek excursion (which I talk about in detail here). It is a fantastic experience that's worth every penny, and one of the best Disney attractions you'll find.
  17. Grizzly River Run (DL)Kali River Rapids (WDW)
    While essentially the same concept (you board a giant circular raft and go whirling through a water track), Disney World's Kali Rive Rapids is a pretty lame experience, built around the story of illegal logging and forest conservation. It also seems like a tamer ride. Disneyland's Grizzly River Run, on the other hand, took the idea to a better, if not slightly wetter, more extreme level... trying to simulate whitewater rafting through a terrific forest setting.
  18. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (DL) — Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin (WDW)
    Essentially a shooting gallery combined with a moving car dark ride, the Buzz Lightyear attractions in both parks were one-upped by Toy Story Midway Mania, and feels dated by comparison (despite being quite new). Even so, it's a fun ride that's worth your valuable time.
  19. Jungle Cruise (DL WDW)
    This badly-dated attraction is in desperate need of a major upgrade, but will probably never get one. The best they can do is have the boat captains add jokes and bad puns to their tour dialogue, which is fun the first time you hear it, but gets really old, really fast. Still, it's a pleasant diversion from the rest of the park, and still a great concept.
  20. Matterhorn Bobsleds (DL)
    It's not that I dislike The Matterhorn, it's just that it's been so massively eclipsed with Expedition Everest in every way that the original feels more like a toy than an attraction. Still, if you're visiting Disneyland and don't mind being crammed in tiny cars zipping around a track, this is still a pretty great ride. When it's open. Which it isn't a lot of the time.

Time will tell if this list changes after the new Pandora: The World of AVATAR and Star Wars Land projects debut. I would certainly hope so.

   

Those Darn Cats and a Farewell to Disney

Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Dave!Last night at a wonderful early birthday dinner with friends, I had told them how proud I was that I finally managed to get Jake and Jenny trained to not jump on the kitchen counters. Yes, Jake still wanders into the kitchen from time to time but, thanks to sticky mats, his days of climbing over my kitchen counters was over.

And then... less than an hour after getting back to the hotel... I get a motion alert on my iPhone that there's movement in the kitchen. A quick check of the security cameras and, sure enough...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

I rewound the footage to see what made Jake suddenly revolt, and was surprised to see that it was actually Jenny who was the instigator. You can see her beady little eyes reflecting in the dark on the refrigerator return before she makes a spectacular leap across to the kitchen counter...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

Jake hopped up a minute later...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

I thought Jenny had hopped back down, but nope... she was over digging in the sink...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

Eventually I started talking to them from the speaker on the security camera, which was all kinds of confusing for them as they started looking around trying to find out where I was. Jake seemed to think I was on the ceiling, but Jenny seemed to figure it out eventually...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

What's weird is that A) The motion alarm did go off, which usually scares them away, so apparently they are immune to that now, and B) My yelling at them to get off the counters through the camera speaker was equally ineffective. Eventually I rang the doorbell, which finally did the trick.

Guess I need to figure out how to tie the motion detectors to the doorbell when I get home.

It also looks like I will be disinfecting my kitchen counters when I get home.

Blargh.

   
I was pretty much Disney-ed out half-way through yesterday. But the hotel kicks me out in an hour... my ride to the airport isn't here until 3:30... and I have another day left on my park ticket... so I guess I'm going back to Disneyland again today. Oh well. There are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Still... vacation goals achieved...

  • Ate lunch at Earl of Sandwich daily.
  • Ate a Dole Whip Float from the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland.
  • Ate "The Grey Stuff" and Gaston's Brew at The Red Rose Taverne restaurant.
  • Ate beignets at Jazz Kitchen Express in Downtown Disney.
  • Didn't kill anybody.
  • Rode all my favorite attractions (except Pirates and Tower, which were closed).

Until next time, Disneyland.

   

Caturday 17

Posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Dave!Traveling when you've got pets back home is the worst.

Not only are you missing your pets while you're gone, but you're worrying about any trouble they might get into as well. And so, even though I have spent a crazy amount of time cat-proofing my house and making sure there's no trouble they can get into, I'm still checking the security cameras several times a day...

...so I can watch them get into trouble.

Yesterday I posted about them jumping on the kitchen counters where they know they're not supposed to be.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg...

• Jenny dragged most of her toys upstairs, as expected. She also dragged up an iPhone cable, which one of the cats conveniently bit in two. No idea where she got it.

• I left my Hanes hoodie hanging on the back of a chair. It was pulled down, scratched up, chewed on, and dragged around the house.

• My upstairs office is now officially the cat's play room. I've had to pull all of my stuff out because they love to "play" with it. The only thing I had left in there was a desk, book case, and a box of envelopes. Now all I have is a desk and a book case.

• I'm working on a family photo collage in my stairway. Since it's an odd-shaped wall, I've used masking tape to section off where the photos go. Jake ripped down every bit of it he could reach.

• Which was a prelude to him ripping down a "DO NOT LET CATS OUT!" sign that's been in the catio for months. Apparently he's been hating it for a while and suddenly decided he'd had enough. So then, without hesitation...

Thanks, Jake.

   
When I got home last night after midnight, the cats went crazy ove me. Which was nice. Until Jenny decided she needed petting at 1:00am.

And 2:30am.

And 3:45am.

And 5:00am.

Neither her nor Jake have ever bothered me while I'm sleeping, so I'm guessing that she's just making up for lost time?

Anyway... today they had calmed down to their normal(?) selves and spent most of the day outside in the catio because it was just too beautiful out to be inside.

When I left, the weather was like this...

Cali Weather

L.A. was like this...

Cali Weather

Cali Weather

Now that I'm back? This is the view the cats have from their catio...

Cali Weather

Looks like I brought California skies back with me.

Which is great, because this snow can just go away any time now.

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Bullet Sunday 497

Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Dave!Pull out your Mickey Mouse ears, because a Very Special Disney-centric Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• I'm Going to Disneyland. Now that Disneyland has no "off-season" and is hellishly busy all-year-long, there's really only one piece of advice I can offer: Don't make your Disney vacation all about standing in lines. Stay multiple days... divide up the attractions you want to see so you're only standing in line for them part of every day... then get the hell out of the parks to have an actual vacation. Go see what else L.A. has to offer (which is a lot)... or just hang around the pool at your hotel. Spending the whole day in a massive crowd at Disneyland is just guaranteeing that you'll need a vacation from your vacation.

   
• Princess Vader. I honestly can't decide whether this is the coolest thing ever, or just pain wrong...

Darth Vader Dress

All I know is that Disney's marketing of Star Wars is way off the charts.

   
• Reimagineering. Earlier this week I brought up the new Star Wars Land additions coming to both Disney parks. This is on top of Disney World getting a Pandora: The World of AVATAR "land" in Animal Kingdom. New stuff at the Disney parks is always great... but I can't help but wonder when rides like Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion will get an upgrade. Surely there's a way of remaining true to the original concept while enhancing the attractions with today's technology? Otherwise I have to wonder how much longer they can last. The parks (particularly at Disneyland) do not have infinite space to expand, so the worry is that even "E-Ticket" attractions will eventually be eliminated in favor of something fresh to keep the crowds coming.

   
• Grey Stuff. Yesterday I mentioned that I checked-off one of my life goals at Disneyland... eating Grey Stuff Gâteau (which they spell "Gateâu") and Gaston's Brew. Nobody seems to know what that meant. Well... "Grey Stuff" is something served to Belle in Beauty and the Beast...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

This is what the real-life version looks like from The Red Rose Taverne in Disneyland's Fantasyland (a temporary restaurant re-dress in celebration of the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie coming in March...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It's a white chocolate mousse that's been tinted grey then heaped on a small red velvet cake that has raspberry in it...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It comes piled on a shortbread cookie that seems to have a rose drawn on it?

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It's not too bad. The cookie is dense and bland rather than buttery and flakey... and the whole ordeal is too sweet for me... but it's totally edible. Gaston's Brew, on the other hand, is excellent. It's apple-mango juice that's topped with a passion fruit foam "head." Something I'm going to have to try and make at home.

   
• Magical Morning. One of the benefits of buying your ticket to Disneyland online is that you get a free "Magic Morning" on tickets for three days or more. "Magic Morning" means that you get into the park an hour before opening. In my case, that meant 9:00am instead of 10:00am. This used to be available only to registered hotel guests at one of the Disney hotel properties... but now anybody can get it. The problem being that now anybody can get it. Which means the park gets just as crowded just as quickly as it would without magic morning. Sure you might get one or two rides in at a reduced wait time, but it's hardly the deal it used to be. I got to ride Space Mountain in 20 minutes instead of 60... but after that the lines were right back to normal. Bummer. I'd be pretty pissed if I were a hotel guest counting on this perk.

   
• The Sign. I could spend hours just wandering around Disneyland looking at the beautiful signage that's displayed everywhere. It's not as fun as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it certainly beats standing in lines all day. My favorite signs are in Adventureland. So many beautifully-carved pieces...

Signage from Disneyland

Signage from Disneyland

But it's not just the extravagant larger signs that are given such detail. Even small signs... like numbers on a door... are beautifully themed for the area they occupy...

Signage from Disneyland

Even throw-away signs from an exit queue are painstakingly designed...

Signage from Disneyland

And every exterior sign is beautifully-crafted, of course...

Signage from Disneyland

So... next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, stop for a minute and look for the signs. They're an attraction all on their own.

   
And now? Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go...

   

Couching

Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017

Dave!I've been getting up early each morning so I can catch up with the work that piled up while I was kicking' it in Disneyland. Even though I am not a "morning person," I seem to be most productive when I just wake up.

This morning I managed to make some huge headway... first while working in bed... then by moving down to the couch in the living room. When I got out of bed, Jake jumped up and took my spot. When I got off the couch to go into the office, he did it again...

Jake on the Couch

Apparently he's taking advantage of my residual body heat, which is nothing new. When it's cold outside and he's been out in the catio, his first stop when he comes back inside is to glom off my body heat by lying across my lap... whether my MacBook laptop is there or not.

Jenny, on the other hand, seems to actually like chilly weather.

Today after opening the windows for the first time since winter started last year, she was all over it...

Jenny at the Window!

Never mind the pet door out to the catio that she's been using all winter... looking out a window is fun stuff!

As is looking down at me while work... silently judging me as cats are won't to do...

Jenny on the Cat Tower Judging You

None too impressed, is she?

Honestly, I think that's her natural state.

She is a cat, after all.

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Veterinary Email Horrors

Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Dave!In case you missed it, I took my cats to the vet for their one-year check-up last month.

Not that I wanted to, mind you, but it is required by Washington State law that your cats have current rabies vaccinations. And it is required by my pet insurance that they get an annual checkup. And I wanted to make sure that they got any other vaccinations that are recommended for cats to have so they stay healthy.

The whole ordeal was a traumatic experience for all three of us.

But mostly for me, and I was thankful that I could wait an entire year before having to go through all that again.

And then I get THIS emailed to me this morning...
   

Jenny Needs a Vet Appointment for her FelV Vaccination!

   
After shitting my pants at the prospect of having to take my cats back for another vaccination when I was just at the vet less than a month ago... I called up to find out why in the hell Jenny didn't get this shot already.

Turns out that she did, it's just that the way they have to bill vaccinations sometimes causes erroneous emails to go out. I actually don't have to go back (knock wood) until 2018.

So...

Pants shitting aside, all's well that ends well.

Sometimes, anyway.

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Thirteen Minutes Twenty-Seven Minutes

Posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Dave!Thirteen minutes.

Thirteen minutes is the amount of time between when I leave for work in the morning and when Jenny starts hauling all the toys upstairs that I had just brought down before I left.

Twenty-seven minutes.

Twenty-seven minutes is how long for her to make the nine trips up and down the stairs to do it...

Jenny Toys!

Which means I have to toss all the toys back down again before I go to bed so that she can "go hunting" for her "morning tribute" that she drops by my bed every day.

I'm happy Jenny is keeping herself busy... and all that stair-climbing is certainly good exercise... but I can't figure out what is compelling her to make sure all the toys are upstairs at all times. I had thought that dragging them up was a random process that she did throughout the day. But now, thanks to my security cameras, I know that's not the case. She starts in almost immediately and then keeps going until the job is done.

Guess I am going to have to buy more toys.

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Musically Disinclined

Posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Dave!I was discussing those "songs that other people like, but you hate" lists and found out that no matter what a person's taste in music... there's inevitably some overlap on the "hate list." I find it to be strangely comforting.

When it comes to my personal list, it would be easy to populate it with popular artists I don't care for... like Nicki Minaj, Bob Dylan, or Lou Reed... but the least I can do is put some thought into it.

So here we go. Twenty Songs Other People Seem to Like But I Hate. It's an incomplete list, because I can only grab those songs that pop into my head... and songs I hate get buried and forgotten... but it should give you a pretty good idea of what I don't like in a song.

   
Mr. Roboto by Styx.
There are no words to describe my raging hatred of this idiotic song. Whether it's Dennis DeYoung's awful, awful voice and delivery... the inane, insipid, and painfully bad lyrics... or the fact that this is the cornerstone of one of the worst albums of all time, the "rock opera opus" Kilroy Was Here, it all adds up. Hate, hate, hate everything about this "music" and the fact that it was so popular back in the day.

   
Whip My Hair by Willow Smith.
I scream every time I hear this musical travesty. Repetitive garbage. Nobody gives a shit.

   
Your Love by The Outfield.
The whiny, horrific, screeching delivery of every word in the lyrics is enough to make me want to kill myself.

   
Take Me to Church by Hozier.
I do not get it. I cannot for the life of me understand how people like this song. I furthermore do not understand why everybody and their dog wants to cover this song.

   
Zombie by The Cranberries.
I was never a huge fan of The Cranberries, but I didn't hate them either. Songs like Linger were actually nice. But this... THIS piece of repetitive, unbearable screaming is not music. It's noise.

   
Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil.
THE LEAD SINGER CAN'T FUCKING SING! GAAAAHHHHH! And while I appreciate the Aboriginal people advocacy that this song strives for... the lyrics are just shit.

   
Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex.
No. Just no.

   
You're Beautiful by James Blunt.
This song is the very definition of "painfully awful," and yet it was a massive hit. Bad for me, because massive hits get a lot of airplay. The lyrics are grotesquely insipid and are delivered in a kind of wavering falsetto that drives people to kill.

   
Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye.
Boring as fuck with no redeeming qualities to make it worth listening to, this torturous pile of shit was posted to everybody's Facebook wall for weeks.

   
My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas.
Why, Lord? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?!?

   
Tall Cool One by Robert Plant.
If you love hearing "Lighten up baby, I'm in love with you" repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you want to die... this might be the song for you!

   
Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars.
A song so fucking popular that it was impossible to escape... which is all kinds of horrible when it's as bad as this is.

   
Hey, Soul Sister by Train.
It's not just me. Everybody thought this song was just plain awful.

   
The Leader of the Band by Dan Fogelberg.
Having to listen to whiny crap like this is what I envision hell to be like.

   
Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
How the hell anything by Macklemore gets airplay is something I will never understand. Thrift Shop is the most inexplicable of all. Its lame lyrics punctuated by swear words that are wildly out of place and seem to be added solely for effect. Making a lame song even worse.

   
Hey Jude by The Beatles.
Proving that even one of the greatest bands in the history of the world makes mistakes, Hey Jude and it's endless refrain of "na na na na" is as bad as it gets.

   
What's Up? by 4 Non-Blondes.
Linda Perry and her stupid-ass hat belting out this screech-fest of a song is enough to drive anybody suicidal. Which is a shame, because Linda Perry herself (AKA Mrs. Sarah Gilbert) seems like she's that effortless kind of cool that most people strive for but never reach.

   
Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
I would hope that I don't have to explain this one.

   
The Final Countdown by Europe
The song itself isn't quite so bad... it's just the way that Europe sings it like it's this massive epic that's crushing every other song ever made that has me hating on it.

   
Baby by Justin Bieber
To be honest, I loathe every single Bieber song I've ever heard. Which hasn't been many, because I avoid his "music" like the plague. The worst offender to me is Baby which is just lame-ass boy-band lyrics on repeat.

   
And there you have it! Hope I haven't destroyed your will to live.

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So Long FlightTrack

Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017

Dave!Every once in a while it hits me just how much travel has changed since smartphones entered the scene.

The biggest change for me has been eliminating maps and guidebooks. It was something I put off for the longest time, because I absolutely love maps and guidebooks. Especially printed maps. You can get lost in a destination before you even arrive just by unfolding a map. But the benefit to having everything on a phone you're already carrying cannot be understated. Nor can the built-in GPS, which makes getting lost almost impossible now. I'm not completely convinced that's a good thing... I've discovered many a treasure while lost in foreign lands... but it sure makes getting around a lot less intimidating.

Then there's getting rid of boarding passes. How liberating is that? I never realized just how awful it was being chained to a printed boarding pass. Even when we got the ability to print them ourselves, it could still be a burden. Especially if you're out of toner or the hotel's printer is broken (which happens more times than you'd expect!).

And how about music and videos? Two pieces of equipment you no longer have to stuff in your backpack.

And then there's travel apps.

There truly is an app for just about everything, and collecting the best travel apps is an obsession that I've been occupied with since apps first appeared.

Probably my most favorite... by a long shot... is a genius app called FlightTrack and, to a lesser extent, it's companion app called FlightBoard.

FlightTrack siphons your travel itineraries off TripIt and keeps track of your flights for you (or you can manually add them to your list). When you travel a lot, that's already a godsend... but it does so much more. If you have access to internet while inflight, you can also track your progress from the map screen...

FlightTrack!

   
In addition, it pushes gate changes, flight status, and other useful information to your phone's messaging system... this is also a godsend when you have a tight connection and need information fast...

FlightTrack!

   
The companion app, FlightBoard gave you access to an airports flight board so you can get information on all the inbound and outbound flights. I used this a little bit for finding alternate flights... and a lot for picking people up from the airport...

FlightTrack!

   
Pretty amazing, right?

Except both apps are now dead.

Expedia bought both apps from Mobiata, then purged them while I was in the middle of my L.A. trip last week. The apps worked on the way down to California... but on my way back it was non-functional. A visit to the Mobiata website told the story...

Dear Friends,
   
There is never an easy way to share disappointing news. So it is with great appreciation and respect for your many years of loyalty that we share the difficult decision we’ve made to sunset our FlightTrack 5 and FlightBoard apps.
   
For many of you, this isn’t surprising news. We haven’t provided much maintenance or improvements to either app over the past year. Regardless, you haven’t faltered in letting us know how much you love the apps. Although this is sad news, our hope is that over the past eight years the apps have served you well during your many travels.
   
So why are we doing this? The travel market is a rapidly changing place and companies, big and small, must constantly be able to innovate in real-time and predict market trends. Recently, Expedia’s mobile team conducted a critical assessment of the growing market demand for travel app products that offer one-stop shopping, itinerary management, and unique, customizable experiences.
   
Expedia, our parent company, is dedicated - as are we - to delivering this kind of mobile experience. To this end, we are bringing Mobiata’s passion for combining beauty with technical excellence to the Expedia app. Our goal is to contribute to creating the most visually stunning and useful travel app in the world. Don’t be surprised if you see a little bit of our FlightTrack and FlightBoard ingenuity appearing in the Expedia app down the road.

   
Needless to say, this sucks.

I have looked through every app claiming to have similar functionality, and none of them come close to the beautiful design and functionality that FlightTrack had. Just as my travel got a little bit better with FlightTrack in my life, it just got a little bit shittier now that it's gone.

I wonder which brilliant app I use will be bought out, shitted on, then purged next?

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Caturday 18

Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Dave!Adopting Jake and Jenny have me contemplating a lot of "What If?" scenarios.

The biggest "What If?" being... What if I hadn't adopted them? What would have happened? I came very close to not getting them because I didn't understand the rules at the Humane Society. If it wasn't me, I'm sure somebody would have adopted the kittens... they were tiny and adorable after all. But they likely would not have been adopted together, and I have a mild panic attack at the thought of Jenny having been separated from her brother at the beginning. Now she would do fine. But, as a kitten, she took a lot longer to come around. The only thing that helped keep her from being terrified for months was that she had her brother to lean on.

Another "What If?" that plagues me is... What if I had gotten to adopt Jake and Jenny's brother? I certainly wanted to once I learned there were three siblings. But somebody had "reserved" the third kitten, which was something I didn't even know was allowed...

Baby Kitties

The only thing I do know is that his name would have been Roger. The name I wanted to give Jenny before my mom forbid it.

Ultimately, two cats is what I wanted, and I do think that a third would have added some difficulty with my travel. Litter Robot would need to be emptied faster, so I couldn't be gone as long. Feeding would also be more complicated. So... all's well that ends well. At least I hope that's true for Could-Have-Been-Roger.

Anyway...

Jenny has become addicted to television. Every night she waits for me to head upstairs, then runs ahead of me... excited that we get to watch TV in bed. And heaven help me if I don't turn it on fast enough! She will start meowing at the television until I do...

Jenny Watches TV

Once it's on, she'll have a seat...

Jenny Watches TV

And watch for an hour or more...

Jenny Watches TV

She likes shows with people talking the best. The West Wing is a favorite. She does not like action-packed shows very much. The noise and fast camera swaps seems to be a turn-off.

If it's too late... or I am concentrating on work and don't want the TV on... Jenny will sit and stare at me with a disapproving look on her face if I ignore her meowing...

Jenny Watches TV

When that doesn't work, she throws herself down and pouts...

Jenny Watches TV

Other than TV time in bed, Jenny doesn't hang out with me very often. Could be because Jake has been really clingy lately. He's on me in the morning before I go to work. Taking a nap while Jenny hauls up her morning tributes...

Jake Hanging Out

And on me in the evening when I get home from work...

Jake Hanging Out

Covered in cats from sunrise to sunset.

There are worse ways to spend a day.

   

Bullet Sunday 498

Posted on Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Dave!Thank heavens I'm taking half-a-day off work, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Stop the Insanity! Make it permanent... abolish it... split the difference... I honestly don't give a fuck. Just make it so that we're not dicking around with the clocks twice a year. This stupid shit... this utter madness... has got to end...



Seriously. If Trump wants to do ONE FUCKING THING that will benefit humanity in a way that every other fucking thing he's done has not... GET RID OF THIS IDIOTIC BULLSHIT!!!

   
• Healthcare. Finally. Broken down so even I can understand it! The puzzling way Republicans want to replace the individual mandate, explained with a cartoon.

   
• Wonderful. Do I dare get my hopes up after DC has shit the bed so many times now?

It could be incredible. If... only if...

   
• Loneliness. A sobering article that makes for an interesting... albeit more than a little depressing... read: The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness...

Loneliness
Illustration by Mario Zucca / Boston Globe

I don't know that I'm "lonely" so to speak. But most of the people I'm closest to don't live near me, and that can be difficult.

   
• Olive Garden. I had no business laughing at this as hard as I did. The whole concept of people in Olive Garden commercials acting like they've never seen a restaurant... or food... before, is epic...

I dare say that President Trump existing has made Saturday Night Live the funniest it's been in years. Even for sketches that don't feature President Trump.

   
• The Most Important Thing You'll See All Day. Yes. You can resist authority. In some cases, you're obligated to resist authority. Like when you are being lied to and your rights are being violated by authority. The video below is in three parts. Watch all three of them. Know your rights...



And here's a follow-up interview (good information, terrible sound)...

Have a phone with video capabilities? Film everything. Always film everything when it comes to the police. Even if you support the ideal of law enforcement (as I do)... Always. Film. Everything. Even when it's not happening to you. Because the police are not above the law and you just never know.

Note that the guy who filmed the video, Jesse Bright, tried to handle this without going public. All he wanted was an apology for having been lied to and illegally searched. Only after he was deterred at every turn did he released to video... not for personal gain, but to let everybody know what their rights are. He has no interest in any officers being punished or fired or anything. He just wants this critical information out there. Good for him.

I have a card in my wallet and in my car with the following statement:

Statement If Stopped or Questioned by Police or any Government Official
   
“Officer, I Assert My Fifth Amendment Rights As Stated On This Card”
   
Pursuant to the law, as established by the United States Supreme Court, my lawyer has advised me not to talk to anyone and not to answer questions about any pending criminal case or any other civil, administrative, judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory matter. Following his advice, I do not wish to talk to anyone about any criminal, civil, administrative, judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory matter, without my lawyer present. I waive no legal rights, nor give any consents, nor submit to any tests or other procedures, without my lawyer present. I ask that no one question or talk to me, without my lawyer here to advise me. I do not wish to answer any questions. I want to see my lawyer. Please call my lawyer immediately.
   
See: Miranda v. Arizona, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), Maness v. Myers, 419 U.S. 449 (1975), Hoffman v. United States, 341 U.S. 479, (1951), Lefkowitz

Know. Your. Rights.

   
And now it's time to chew gum and vacuum. And I'm all out of gum...

   

Fake Jake Waits

Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017

Dave!I mentioned a while back that Fake Jake has learned my schedule and waits for me outside the garage every morning when I leave to work and every night when I return.

Yesterday being Sunday, I didn't see him coming or going because I was on weekend hours. But this morning, sure enough, he was waiting for me as I opened the garage door... wanting to be petted...

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

   
Such a sweet kitty. To people anyway. He doesn't seem to get along with other cats at all.

Speaking of other cats... no sign of Mini Fake Jake.

Hopefully that kitty made his way back home.

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Midnight Alarm

Posted on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Dave!There's one place in my home that my cats are not allowed to go... the kitchen. Partly because that's where the front door is and I worry about them getting out. But mostly because I don't want cat ass on my kitchen counters.

I had tied the kitchen motion detectors to an alarm to scare them away, which worked great at keeping the cats out. Until it didn't.

I had bought some sticky tape to put on the counters, which worked great at keeping the cats off. Until I removed it after a month because I thought they were "trained." But they weren't.

I was still able to scare them out of the kitchen by remotely ringing the doorbell, but tonight that failed too.

Well, it failed with Jake. He just starts looking around to see where the noise is coming from...

Alarm Cats

Jenny, on the other hand...

Alarm Cats

   
I just don't think Jake is smart enough to learn a lesson.

And so I've added anti-germ wipes to my shopping list.

Again.

I wonder if they sell remote-control water guns?

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Dave!The cats know when I'm leaving.

Packing the suitcase. Emptying the Litter Robot. Filling the cat feeder. Cleaning and filling the water fountain. It all adds up.

And once they realize what's happening... they stick to me like glue...

Leaving Kitties

Follwing me everywhere right up until I walk out the door...

Leaving Kitties

Nobody lays down a guilt trip like cats do.

And I'm off.

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You Know How I Get When I’m Alone

Posted on Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Dave!I'll visit San Francisco at the drop of a hat for any reason at all. It's just an hour-and-a-half flight out of Seattle, which means I can get there from Redneckistan in around four hours. Wrabel has a show at the Rickshaw Stop? Sign me up!

One of the many nice things about San Francisco is that I never have to worry about playing tourist when I'm in town. I've been here so many times that I'm over it. Another nice thing is that there's a lot of vegetarian fare to be had in the city.

I've been wanting to try this Singapore-based burger chain called "Vegan Burg" but never wanted to venture out to The Haight to actually do it. Today was finally the day for a Cracked Pepper Mayo Vegan Burg. It's a beautiful presentation and a decent alternative to other veggie burgers, but I'd have rather have gotten my regular Johnny Rockets Streamliner (no grilled onions). The Vegan Burg is kind of boring. The only thing notable about it is the crispy texture... which I'm not sure I liked. Bun is decent. Seaweed fries were okay. The mango lemonade, however was weak. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Vegan Burg!

Then it was time to meet up with Jester and friends for the show...

Wrabel!

Which absolutely did not disappoint.

If Wrabel shows up in your neighborhood, go. Just go.

In addition to being a brilliant songwriter/musician, Wrabel is massively entertaining. He tells stories. He interacts with the audience. It's just non-stop wonderful from beginning to end...

He says he's working on an album. Hopefully to be released later this year.

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Return to Sender

Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017

Dave!And that was San Francisco.

Jester dropped me off at the airport and, before I knew it, I was on my way home. Via Virgin America Airlines, which I hadn't noticed on my ticket until yesterday... but, now that they're merging up with Alaska Airlines, I'm guessing this will be happening with greater frequency.

SFO had a display of Ouiji boards on my concourse, which was interesting but surprising. Given how freaked out some people are by them, you'd think they'd avoid putting such an exhibit in a public space like this. And yet...

Quiji Display at SFO!

Quiji Display at SFO!

Quiji Display at SFO!

   
The trip home was nothing exciting, which is the best kind of trip to have.

The cats were, of course, excited to see me. Jake was all over me from the minute I walked in the door, and needed a lot of attention before he settled back into normalcy. Or whatever passes for normalcy in a cat.

Jenny was a bit more reserved... until bedtime.

Then she decided to make up for lost time by bringing me a toy as a welcome back present. Or so I would imagine...

Jenny's Welcome Home Tribute!

Jenny's Welcome Home Tribute!

I started to pet her, but she was more interested in television, as usual...

Jenny Watching TV!

So I guess we're good.

Nobody tell her that I'm leaving again tomorrow...

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Pack It Up

Posted on Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Dave!And now I'm off again.

Of course the cats figured it out, they always do.

Jenny was particularly upset by the news. So much so that she thought it a good idea to prevent me from packing my suitcase...

Jenny in my Suitcase!

I distracted them with kitty treats and... away I went.

The drive over to Seattle was pretty bleak for March. Usually we're in almost-Spring mode here by then, but not this time...

Seattle Drive March!

Seattle Drive March!

Oh well. The roads were pretty much clear, which is all that really matters.

Las Vegas, here I come.

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Vegas… Day One

Posted on Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Dave!Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 3
Gambling Tally: Down $22
Time To Bed: 3:00am


My friends and I arrived in Las Vegas at 1:30pm after a quick 2-hour flight from Seattle.

We had a late lunch at my new favorite restaurant in the Fremont area... Nacho Daddy, which is amazing from top to bottom. Great service, great music, great atmosphere, really great nachos, and incredible drinks...

Long Island Ice Tea!

I decided that my drink of the trip would be the Long Island Ice Tea, due to the high alcohol content. The last thing I was to do is be sober in Las Vegas.

Most of my friends went to "O" the water show by Cirque du Soleil. Since I am completely baffled by the appeal of Cirque, I took a pass and met up with some other friends who were in town.

After that there was much drinking and gambling until the wee hours of the morning.

Which sounds uneventful enough, sure. Except... the hotel had to be evacuated twice. Both times because somebody was vaping in their room. Apparently the smoke detectors in The Golden Nugget cannot distinguish between smoke and vapor, so this "happens all the time." At least according to the security guard on the sidewalk.

If vaping sets off your building evacuation alarm three times a day at all hours, perhaps it would be prudent to alert people to this fact when they check in so vapers aren't constantly evacuating the hotel. Just a thought. Because... seriously... this is some outlandishly stupid shit.

In better news... WONDER WOMAN SLOTS!!!

Vegas Slots!

And just to prove that they can make a slots game out of anything... HOUSE OF CARDS SLOTS!!!

Vegas Slots!

Though, I have to say... Orange is the new Black slots would be m favorite of the night. Who knew?

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Vegas… Day Two

Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017

Dave!Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 6
Gambling Tally: Up $108
Time To Bed: 2:30am


I was awakened around 9am by a security alert on my phone, which turned out to be Jake wandering around the kitchen. I yelled at him through the camera speaker to get out, but this ended up backfiring in the worst possible way. Both cats came tearing into the kitchen when they heard my voice... assumably because they thought I was there. Yeah, I felt pretty terrible for the rest of the day.

I ended up loving Nacho Daddy so much yesterday that I headed there for lunch again today. Since it had just turned noon, I was just in time to start in on the Long Islands for the day...

Long Island Ice Tea!

Long Island Ice Tea!

Dinner was at Margaritaville on The Strip, after which we headed over to The Luxor for one of my favorite shows, Blue Man Group, which I've seen in various places five times previously. They added a bit of new material since the last time I saw them (in Orlando, I think) which is always nice. Heck of an entertaining show (as always) and I highly recommend checking them out if you have the opportunity...

Blue Man Group Vegas!

After the show, we headed back to Fremont to finish out gambling for the day. And to visit Nacho Daddy for my last Long Island of the day...

Long Island Ice Tea!

   
And now... a missive on The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Las Vegas...

This is my third time staying here, the last time being in 2009. I had zero complaints my previous visits. The Old Town location is great. The staff is great. The rooms are clean. What more could you want?

Well...

Turns out it's quite a bit.

Like not having to evacuate the hotel twice in one day.

Yesterday while I was relaxing before dinner, the hotel speaker system started screaming for people to evacuate the building. I waited to see if it were a false alarm, but eventually made my way down the stairwell to the outside of the building as the alarm continued. Where a bunch of us waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually I asked a passing security guard what was wrong and how long it would be before we could go back to our rooms. "DIDN'T YOU HEAR THE ALL-CLEAR?!? Uh. No. No we did not. There are no speakers outside to hear it. I then asked what happened "Somebody vaping on the 7th floor. Happens all the time."

Which turned out to be true. Because it happened again at 2:00am.

And I found out it had happened earlier before we even arrived as well.

Just a thought... if vaping sets off your building evacuation alarm three times a day at all hours, perhaps it would be prudent to alert people to this fact when they check in so vapers aren't constantly causing the evacuation the hotel. When I checked in, nobody told me vaping wasn't allowed inside. Nothing on my welcome card mentioned it either. I don't vape, so no harm no foul on me. But for others? Seriously... this is some outlandishly stupid shit.

And speaking of outlandishly stupid shit at The Golden Nugget...

This being Vegas, you have to pay $30 a day in "resort fees." This gets you...

  • Two bottles of water daily. But not really, because my water was never replenished.
  • Internet access. But not really, because neither my laptop or iPhone could ever connect.
  • Use of the gym and pool. But not really, because the famous waterslide at the pool was broken and the pool isn't 24 hours. Hell, the frickin' hot tub isn't even 24 hours.
  • Complimentary airline boarding passes printing via the Front Desk or Box Office. But not really, because this is a non-feature... who the fuck prints their boarding pass in 2017?
  • Complimentary newspapers. But not really, because they are not delivered to your room... you have to go down to the lobby to read them. And who the fuck reads a physical newspaper in 2017?
  • Discount coupons. But not really, because most of them are 2-for-1 deals, which are useless if you're in Vegas as a single. Unless you care to pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet twice just because the second one is free?

So essentially I was forced to pay $30 a day and got jack-shit for it. I already hate "resort fees" with a passion... and the hotels who rip you off with them... but The Golden Nugget is just beyond a shithole for not delivering any value with theirs. Will not be staying there again.

And I don't know about gambling there again either. Over half of their automated cash-out/ATM machines were broken...

Golden Nugget Sucks!

Looks like you're standing in line forever at the understaffed cashier window.

Oh... and the fee for withdrawing money from their ATM when you find a working one? SIX FUCKING DOLLARS. Thanks, Golden Nugget... you pile of crap.

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Vegas… Day Three

Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Dave!Long Island Iced Teas Drank: 4
Gambling Tally: Down $82
Time To Bed: 1:30am


Another day, another couple rounds of Long Islands at Nacho Daddy...

Long Island Ice Tea!

Long Island Ice Tea!

   
Today's plan was to relax, and so I did.

Until it came time to zipline down Fremont on Slotzilla.

In case you don't know what that means, somebody documented the experience for you...

Since I've been skydiving, bungee jumping, and zip-lining before, this was a piece of cake. But I admit that my heart skipped a beat when that door dropped from eleven stories to reveal what you're about to do!

A very cool experience for $45 that I would gladly do again.

And... another trip to Las Vegas is over.

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