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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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