When I shop for home furnishings, clothing, or luggage now-a-days, my first stop is JC Penney. I support companies which embrace equality and fairness for everybody, and JC Penney is leading the way when it comes to being inclusive.
And they're not being subtle about it. Their recent advertising campaigns celebrate diversity in a very obvious way. Which is causing no end of drama with bigoted organizations like "One Million Moms" who seems to think that showing "non-traditional families" in an ad is the end of the world.
Sorry, but I don't see the end of the world.
I see a happy family with a couple of kids that are lucky to have two dads who love them...
Father's Day ad from JC Penney • First Pals... What makes Dad so cool?
He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver—all rolled into one.
Or two. Real-life dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.
And somewhere out there, a gay kid who is being ruthlessly persecuted day-in and day-out for something he has no control over, will see this ad and realize that he has a future. That the hurt and despair he's feeling is temporary and he has a shot at happiness just like everybody else. That even though he's labeled as "different," he can have a normal life if he just hangs in there long enough. That the world is changing and there's a place for him in it where he will be valued and embraced for who he is.
And maybe this will be the light he needs to keep from doing something tragic in a world that has more than enough tragedy in it already.
And I seriously don't give a fuck if a million bigoted bitches have their panties in a bunch just because they don't want to talk to their kids...
"It doesn't have any effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it's a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say "How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married? I dunno, it's your shitty kid, you fucking tell them. Why is that anyone else's problem? Two guys are in love but they can't get married because you don't want to talk to your ugly child for fucking five minutes?"
— The ever brilliant Louis CK
JC Penney is setting an example with their advertising that is helping to make this country a better place. And not just for gay kids... for everybody. They aren't sitting on the sidelines of this so-called "culture war," they're in the game fighting the good fight.
And I'm supporting them with my business whenever I can because it's a fight that needs to be won.
Let's get ready to rrrrrumble... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Dawson. Game show host, game show player, and actor Richard Dawson passed away. While best known as the host of Family Feud, I remember him best for his funny appearances on Match Game. And, of course, as one of the most genius film role castings ever... Damon Killian from The Running Man...
Ahnold says "I'll be back!"
A movie that was "The Hunger Games" before there was The Hunger Games, and far more entertaining. Rest in peace, sir! You'll be back... in reruns.
• Joosten. Continuing the sad news, Kathryn Joosten, who played Mrs. Landingham so brilliantly on The West Wing has also passed away...
West Wing fans know that killing off Delores Landingham at the end of the second season was one of the most memorable and emotional moments from the entire series, and nothing was quite the same after she left. This was all due to Joosten infusing her character with a charm and dry humor that never ceased to steal any scene in which she appeared. Though I wasn't a fan of Desperate Housewives, I was looking forward to seeing Joosten in another series after it ended. You will be missed.
• House. As the primary European airline partner for Northwest Airlines (later merged with Delta), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines got a bit of my business back when I was flying to Europe regularly. On one of my trips, I was bumped to "World Business Class" and given a gift... a miniature Dutch house filled with gin. I thought it was kind of cool, but gave it away when I had forgotten to buy a gift for my (then) girlfriend. I think it was this one...
Photo taken from KLM Dutch Houses
What I only recently found out was that KLM has been coming out with a new house every October 7th for 92 years! The house I got was not a one-time event for the airline, but a tradition that had been going on for decades. On top of that, each house is based on a real house somewhere in the Netherlands.
You can read all about the 92 houses that have been released on KLM's website... but the coolest way to explore the collection is by getting the KLM Houses App for iPhone. With it you can even get a Google Map with directions to the actual house that the miniature is based on.
Something else I learned today, "KLM" stands for "Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij"... which is Dutch for "Royal Aviation Company." Try saying that ten times fast.
• Fresh. Speaking of DutchyLand... TULIPS!
Hard to believe this was taken just 50 days ago.
• Fresh. Congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee and 60 years on the throne...
One of the most hauntingly beautiful portraits I've ever seen... by Annie Leibovitz
NOW can I get my knighthood?
And... time to pack my suitcase. It's going to be an interesting week...
Last night as I was sitting down to dinner, I had some unexpected pains shooting through my groin. "Well, this can't be good!" I said out loud to nobody in particular.
And, sure enough, it wasn't... because a couple hours later it felt as though I was pissing razor blades through my urethra. "That's funny," I mused... "I don't recall buying a diseased crack-whore recently!" Though, to be fair, my memory isn't quite what it used to be, so I went to bed wondering if I was going to end up with a prescription for penicillin and a frowny-face in my medical record next to some exotic STD.
Then, sometime around 4:00am, I awoke to agonizing pain shooting through my John Thomas.
Seriously, it felt as if my unit had been sliced open... turned inside-out... and then had lemon juice poured on it.
Hobbling to the toilet, I was fully expecting my wanger to explode into shredded streamers like a party popper...
Image from Yatego Shopping.
But instead... a kidney stone dropped out, and the pain instantly subsided.
Yes, somehow I had a kidney stone and never even knew it. That's because usually a kidney stone starts causing excruciating pain long before it gets to the end of the line...
Usually, I am in total agony as the stone travels from my "Dual Water Filters" (kidneys) to my "Water Bucket" (bladder) all the way through the "Sensitive Tubing" (urethra) and out my Massive Nozzle (wiener)... which can take days. This time I didn't feel a damn thing until the bastard made it to my "Sensitive Tubing."
Which is very odd (but totally welcome because it saved me several pain-filled days in bed). Guess I'm just lucky that this got cleared up in time for me to take an early drive over to Seattle for work this morning.
But was it alone? Or can I be expecting a buddy to start causing hideous amounts of pain any minute now...
I am way, way too tired to be blogging.
Even worse, I have absolutely nothing to blog about. Well, except this meme I ran across...
From SoBadSoGood, here's "30 questions that will change the way you think about the world."
Well this ought to be exciting...
It used to be that I came here two or three times a year. But then things changed and I haven't been to "The City by The Bay" in... oh... I don't know how many years.
No. Check that. I have a blog. So actually, I DO know when I was last here... that would be three-and-a-half years ago. Still, no matter how many years it's been, my many trips to San Francisco in the past means that I don't have to play tourist. Instead I can wander around doing mostly nothing... which is my favorite thing to do in a city. Especially when the weather is like this...
I think the last time I walked by the St. Peter and Paul Church, it was undergoing renovations. Nice to see how well it cleaned up.
There's a lot of interesting places in San Francisco, but the only must-visit on my list is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company where you can buy freshly-made cookies and get a taste hot off the griddle. I've been coming here for decades...
While I generally tried to avoid touristy areas, I did go down to Fisherman's Wharf to see what's new at the Hard Rock Cafe and to have a sourdough bread sandwich and mini donuts for dinner...
From there it was back to my hotel so I could get some work done.
Which proved difficult, because this was going on next door...
Serial Bassoonist by Pearson Scott Foresman/Wikimedia Commons
Some guy or gal was practicing their bassoon* for hours. It wasn't even music, but just musical scales up and down and up and down. Apparently there's a whole bunch of musicians staying at the hotel, so I guess I should be lucky it was only a bassoon and not the rest of the orchestra. Eventually I went to the bar because I couldn't stand it any longer. My hope was that A) alcohol would have me not caring that someone was practicing the bassoon next door, and B) the bassoon player wouldn't feel the need to practice at 5:00am or something.
When I got back, the noise had stopped. Thankfully.
And so now I am trying to blog and get some work done, which is still difficult. Not so much because I've been drinking, but because I am excited for tomorrow. It's a rather big day for me...
*To be honest, I don't know if it was a bassoon... could have been a French horn or whatever... but the point is that it was irritating as hell.
As far back as I can remember, I've had a bit of an obsession with pirates. This led to an infatuation with their "skull and crossbones" symbol, which I've been drawing on my stuff for decades. Ultimately, it kind of became my personal symbol, and was even part of my signature at one point.
So, on a trip to Maui 26 years ago when the idea of getting tattoos was floated, I knew exactly what I wanted... the skull and bones.
It never happened, but the idea of getting a tattoo was planted.
But there were always excuses. "What if I change my mind in five years and regret getting skull and crossbones?" or "What if a total stranger gives me a crappy tattoo?" So I never got one.
And then I slowly came to realize that I hadn't changed my mind in 26 years as to wanting a skull and crossbones for my ink, so I probably wasn't going to change my mind five years from now.
And then I started seeing the amazing stuff that my Facebook Friend Michael DeMatty was posting to his wall, and all my excuses vanished. So today was the day...
Now, I'm not nearly macho enough to pull off a badass "realistic" skull and crossbones... but a DaveToon skull and crossbones? Definitely more my style...
I couldn't be happier with it...
And so at long last... after 26 years of dreaming about it... I finally have my first tattoo. Thanks to Michael at Black & Blue San Francisco for working so hard to make it happen!
ZOMG! WHAT HAVE I DONE? WHAT WAS I THINKING? I CAN'T BELIEVE I MADE SUCH A TERRIBLE MISTAKE!
How could I have forgotten to pack my lucky boxer shorts?
This will be a tragedy that haunts me for the rest of my life. If my plane goes down on the flight home Monday, at least now you'll know why.
And now for some questions/comments that have popped up since getting a tattoo yesterday...
• Why not Bad Monkey? Six year ago when I was joking about getting a tattoo, I thought it would be funny...
But the only serious option I ever considered was the skull and crossbones. Bad Monkey would make for a cool tattoo, and maybe one day that will happen. But first it's got to be what I've been wanting for 26 years. In any event, I think Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey would approve...
• Where'd you get that design? I drew it. Which is kind of odd, because I was pretty dead-set against designing my own tattoo for the longest time. But Michael encouraged me to send in my ideas, and eventually he kind of led me to where I needed to be. Ultimately, it kind of makes sense, so I'm glad things ended up that way. But it was not an easy process. I drew dozens of different versions before I had answers to the questions that were keeping me up at night... Bones behind or bones under? Eyepatch or no eyepatch? Cheek bones or no cheek bones?
No eyepatch. Yes to cheekbones. Bones under so it would fit better on my skinny arm. In the end it couldn't have been any other way.
•It's bigger than I thought! I get that a lot, thanks. OH... YOU MEAN THE TATTOO! Yeah, at first I had pictured something around 2-inches tall. But Michael said that I should take a look at something bigger, so I made cutouts at my hotel that morning and played around with how the sizing would look. I quickly found out that he was absolutely right... the bigger I made it, the better I liked it. This was the opposite of how I thought it would work on my bony arm, but it felt right. Eventually I printed out four different sizes of big and let Michael pick which he felt was the best fit. It turned out so badass awesome that now I can't imagine I ever considered it having it inked so tiny.
• Did it hurt? No. Not even a little bit. I was the first person to think that I'd be sobbing uncontrollably and screaming like a little girl, but it never happened (at least not during the tattooing). The outlining felt like somebody was dragging a needle across my skin, scratching it. The filling-in felt like somebody was dragging a popsicle stick across my skin. It didn't hurt at all. I was told that eventually it would feel like I had a bad sunburn, but that never happened. Then I was told it would sting in the shower when water hit it, but that never happened either. If it weren't for being able to look down and see it, I wouldn't know that I had it done. I chalk it up to my mutant healing factor, because this is apparently not typical.
• Weren't you nervous? No. And I wasn't excited either. The whole time it felt like this was something that had already happened and I was just reliving the moment. I can't explain it any better than that, but it was a bit surreal how unaffected I was over getting something permanently marked on my body. I guess I knew it was meant to be all along.
• How long did it take? One hour, forty-five minutes after we decided where it should be placed and got the stencil applied.
• Will you get another tattoo? It's strange... after wanting this so badly for 26 years, I thought that finally getting my skull & bones would get it out of my system and I wouldn't think about tattoos anymore. But now that I have it, all I can do it think about how I would like to add something to it and expand the design down my arm just a bit... or try something different somewhere else. Maybe the feeling will pass but, as of right now, I can't imagine not getting another piece of ink.
Annnnnd... it's time to get out and enjoy the incredible weather going on here in the Bay Area...
Take time to be kind... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Prometheus. After getting caught up with work I decided to take a break and go see genius director Ridley Scott's return to science fiction... Prometheus. It's the story of mankind's quest to find the origins of life by following an "invitation" from our "engineers" to another planet. Chaos ensues.
Michael Fassbender as synthetic person "David," the only interesting character in the entire film.
I still don't know quite what to make of the movie because almost nothing made sense. I simply could not figure out how characters knew what they knew or why they did what they did. But, worst of all, there was no payoff story-wise at the end. Everything seemed totally pointless... even when somebody died. Especially when somebody died. And though there was an effort to tie the film to Ridley Scott's brilliant Alien... any effort to use what happened in Prometheus as a back-story doesn't reveal anything particularly interesting. Maybe that comes in the sequel, for which this movie was an obvious setup.
Overall I give the movie an A for the stunning visuals (which I experienced in IMAX 3D, and it was amazing)... but knock it down to a C when you factor in the mostly boring characters and a weak story with few thrills. And while it was nice to see some sci-fi on the big screen, I was mostly disappointed with Prometheus.
• Super. Well, I finally managed to eat at Super Duper, which is where some of my friends swear the best veggie burger on earth resides. And while I still prefer the vegetarian fare at Johnny Rockets, I have to say it's a good-tasting burger if you happen to be a vegetarian in San Francisco (it's got hummus on it!)...
• WWDC 2012. Tomorrow is the start of Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference here in San Francisco. In the past it's been a big event for the release of new hardware and operating system updates, and this year will probably bring us more of the same. New
I wish I could stick around for the event, but tickets sold out in 2 hours and my flight leaves tomorrow morning. Oh well. Guess I have an excuse to buy internet on the plane now so I can keep up with things while I'm in the air. I'm hoping for an iPhone update that finally makes my "smart phone" into an actual smart phone... with features like AUTO RE-DIAL and SELECTIVE CALLER BLOCKING and TIME-SCHEDULED BLOCKING and all the other stuff that makes my iPhone a not-so-smart phone. Time will tell.
And with that... good bye to the City by the Bay.
As I catapulted off the runway of San Francisco International Airport this morning, a kid in the row across from me shouted "WOW! THIS IS JUST LIKE ANGRY BIRDS!"
This was good for a laugh, which I desperately needed. Because as we were taking off at 10:10am, I knew that I'd be missing out on all the cool stuff happening back on the ground in San Francisco's Moscone Center. It was there that Tim Cook would be taking the stage to introduce some of the cool new stuff that Apple had been working on, and I was going to miss it.
After landing in Seattle, I drove 2-1/2 hours, went to work until 7:30pm, then (finally) made it home so I could plop in front of the television and watch the Apple WWDC Keynote stream from my iPad to my Apple TV box. What follows is the deranged ramblings of a Certified Apple Whore, so proceed at your own peril...
The Siri intro was pretty darn funny. Tim Cook was suitably channeling his inner Steve Jobs. The crowd was enthusiastic and the energy in the room was high. Then Tim ran through the astounding numbers touting the unprecedented success of the company and its products. After that, it was time for one of those heartwarming videos that Apple does so well... informative and inspiring without being sappy or tacky. And then? Off to what people really want to see.
I need a new laptop to replace my aging, banged-up MacBook Pro, so I was understandably excited when Phil Schiller took the stage. I wanted so badly to have a machine with the power and 15-inch screen-size of a MacBook Pro, but the thinner form, lower weight, and fantastic SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE from the MacBook Air. At first, I didn't think I was going to get it, because Phil just rambled off expected bumps in speed and features for the existing models. But then something happened...
Introducing the MacBook Pro with Retina Display... AND ALL THE STUFF I WANTED IN A NEW LAPTOP! Thinner? Lighter? Faster? Quieter? SOLID STATE HARD DRIVE?!? Yes please. I am now officially poor, as there was no way I could pass up on something that will save me a lot of time, money, and agony when trying to work while on the road...
• MAC OS X - MOUNTAIN LION
Call me jaded, but it seems as though innovation is coming a lot slower to Apple's desktop products than their mobile products. In fact, the features shown for OS X that interest me most were those that make it easier to go from my laptop to my iOS mobile devices. Where are the compelling new OS X features that are redefining the non-mobile user experience? I dunno. Instead we get tighter integration with Twitter and Facebook. Whee. Don't get me wrong, any improvements or new features are appreciated)... especially for a jaw-dropping $20 price tag... but come on. This was kinda lame. Especially when you take a look at what Microsoft is up to for their next OS.
• iOS 6
Uhhh... yeah... it all sounds great. BUT I HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THIS FALL?!? I'm assuming that this release date will coincide with the release of a new iPhone, but sheesh.
In any event, the new features really do sound great. The new maps look fantastic (and apparently the data is served up by TomTom, so they're be functional too!). Siri just keeps getting better. FaceTime over cellular and Mail "pull-to-refresh" are long overdue. Passbook is going a long way towards helping people lighten their wallet. The new integration with Twitter and Facebook is nifty. And the Accessibility enhancements are GOLDEN when configuring iOS products for non-techies.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE "PHONE" PART OF iPHONE?!?
I still think it is embarrassing (and fucking stupid) that there's no auto-redial on my iPhone. WHY?!? Why in the hell would such an obvious and useful feature keep getting the shaft at Apple? Insanity! But at least they are addressing my long-standing complaints regarding having some control over your incoming calls. They call it "Do Not Disturb"...
FINALLY... AT LONG LAST... I will be able to block unimportant calls and mute non-essential notifications when I don't want to deal with the shit. LIKE WHEN I'M SLEEPING! And, from what I can see, it looks pretty smart. Apparently you can one-touch do not disturb AND have an automatic do not disturb schedule going... hopefully both at the same time.
And that's all she wrote. No new iPhone... yet. No new desktop Macs... yet. No new iToast... yet.
I guess there's always next year.
This morning began with me staring into the mirror in horror as I saw that my once-beautiful tattoo had started smearing as I put on some healing cream. "GAH! IT'S MELTING!" I shouted to the world as I grabbed the tube of ointment. My first thought was that I had somehow used too much of the stuff and I was reading furiously to see if I had missed any warnings in the instructions. But then I noticed that my fingers had flakes of inked skin on them, and realized that it wasn't smearing at all... the dead skin was just mixing with the ointment to make a smeary mess on my arm. Jester said that would happen, so I stopped freaking out and just left it alone.
By this evening, most of the blackened dead skin had rubbed off when I put more ointment on, so everything was back to normal.
Well, not everything was back to normal.
My Blu-Ray copy of John Carter had arrived so I decided to take a look. Since it was based on one of my favorite books of all time, A Princess of Mars, and the preview footage looked awesome, I was always mad that I had missed it in the theater despite all the bad reviews...
Now, I should start off my "review" by stating that I had extremely high hopes for this film. Director Andrew Stanton was a self-professed fan of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and his track record for telling a story with Finding Nemo; Toy Story; Monsters, Inc.; and other amazing Pixar flicks was solid. So when the bad reviews rolled in, I was unconcerned. And when Disney announced they had a massive flop on their hands and were going to lose 200 million dollars on the film, I was even more unconcerned. Obviously Andrew Stanton had created a movie that was so faithful to the source material that the idiot masses of the movie-going-public-at-large were too stupid to appreciate it. And I also blamed the shitty film title and horrible marketing that did nothing to explain the concept of the film. It couldn't be the movie, it was everything else that was bad... right?
Um. No. This movie sucks balls and has to be one of the biggest cinematic disappointments in the history of the movies. If you are sensitive to sporadic graphic language, a warning...
My spoiler-filled "review" is in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Years ago (I forget how many) there was a gas crisis which caused fuel prices to skyrocket. Nothing like what we're going through today, but it was enough to really put a dent in my wallet. At the time, I had to drive 25 miles roundtrip each day for work, which ended up being around 550 miles a month, 6,600 miles a year. When I sat down to calculate my car's gas mileage, it ended up being around 28-31 mpg for my daily commute. That works out to my buying 200+ gallons of gas each year just to get to work and back (give or take). Factor in that I was also driving to work on many weekends... and sometimes making the trip twice in a day when I had an appointment or something... and it was a lot of money being spent.
So I made the decision to move closer to work.
Now I drive 2-1/2 miles roundtrip, which is a tenth of the gas being burned and the money being spent. Even when gas prices (eventually) returned to normal, I was thankful to be saving so much bank. Now that gas prices are astronomically high again, I'm even more thankful that my commute is so blissfully short. The time saved is just icing on the cake. I wish that I didn't have to drag so much crap back-and-forth, because I'd love to start riding a bike to work and using -zero- gallons of gas. But I'll take what I can get.
For the longest time, I was kind of an asshole whenever people would lament how much money they wasted driving to work each day. "Why don't you move closer to work or get a different job?" I'd say. This would usually result in excuses like "I can't afford the housing near where I work!" or "I love my home!" or "My wife doesn't want to move!" or "I don't want to quit my job!" or whatever. I was pretty unsympathetic, and would always say something along the lines of "Well, then it's your choice to spend the money on gas, so don't cry about it!" And though I was saying it as a joke, deep-down I really meant it. Don't like spending money on gas? Then move closer to work. If it's more expensive to live there, then you have to decide where you'd rather have your money being spent. Granted, our public transportation options here in Redneckistan suck, so there's not a lot of alternatives to driving... but, still, don't whine to others about what you've chosen from the options available.
Now-a-days, however, things have changed.
Gas prices are high and the job market is horrible and the bottom dropped out of the housing market. Those who may want to move cannot do so because there are no other jobs or their home's value has dropped so badly. Even if they managed to sell it, they'd have to pay the bank to get out from under the loan they took out. People are in the horrible position of owing more on their home than their home is worth. They have no choice but to ride it out... no choice but to keep their expensive commute.
And so now there's really nothing I can say to people who complain except "I'm sorry."
I'm saying that a lot now-a-days. Somebody loses their job... loses their house... complains about the cost of their commute... it's always "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"... "I'm sorry"...
And the words feel completely inadequate, because these have all become devastating blows that end marriages... destroy careers... ruin lives... and otherwise makes a lot of very good, honest, decent, hard-working people end up miserable, alone, and afraid. And then, just when things can't get any worse, they get used as a toilet in a political pissing match between asshole candidates who don't give a flying fuck about anything except getting elected and burying their opponents in the process.
Somehow we let this become our new normal.
It's no longer about how we can come together and build something that's great, it's all about how we can divide people and let hatred mire us in something that's failing. We've bought into a system that's more interested in destroying than creating, and now all of us are paying the price.
And I'm just tired of it. I'm tired of having to say "I'm sorry" because there's nothing else I can say.
Fortunately, this is a system which is ultimately unsustainable, and that's what gives me hope to carry on.
It's only a question of when.
And if I'll be lucky enough to see it happen in my lifetime.
It's Flag Day today!
I may be having serious issues with the polarizing state of this self-destructing country, but I still think our flag is a pretty one.
According to Wikipedia, Flag Day in the United States of America commemorates the adoption of our flag on 14 June 1777. Want to know even more? Wikipedia also has a really cool entry with all kinds of information on the American flag.
One week later and still lovin' it.
My morning routine is five minutes longer now...
This blog entry is brought to you by... DIBS!
What makes ice cream taste better than ever before?
What makes ice cream unhealthier than ever before?
What is so addictive that crack addicts use it to wean themselves off the pipe?
What consumes your life so completely that it's known as "Satan's Candy?"
What snack is so overwhelming that even Charlie Sheen won't touch it?
What did I have with every meal today?
Yes, that's right... it's DIBS! Delicious bites of ice cream that's been covered in chocolate and rice crispies, then frozen in tubs for your eating pleasure!And now... I'm sure I had something I wanted to write about today, but who can blog at a time like this when I've got DIBS left in the freezer!
Put that Father's Day barbecue on hold... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Meh-crosoft. The big news in technology is that Microsoft will be making a major announcement tomorrow... probably some kind of tablet... and nobody cares! Tablets have been done. So unless they've got a tablet with a 3-D holographic display and free unlimited satellite internet connectivity, stop wasting our time! You want to really impress me? I'm still waiting for my flying car. Why not announce that shit tomorrow?
But noooooo... odds are we get yet another tablet. Which probably won't be as good as an iPad anyway. Yawn.
• Glass According to the Seattle PI Blog, The Space Needle is getting "glass window box" upgrades. As if it wasn't already scary enough...
The glass window boxes at Chicago's Willis Tower, known as "The Ledge," were enough to make me nearly wet myself. And they were on a building. These are going to be on a frickin' tower. Guess it's still not as bad as The Grand Canyon Skywalk though.
• Holes The movie Prometheus was a beautiful disaster that looked stunning (especial in IMAX 3D) but, unfortunately, had so many story problems that I had a hard time enjoying it. Red Letter Media has encapsulated many of those problems in an amusing, SPOILER-FILLED, chat...
If you haven't listened to the amazing "Mr. Plinkett Reviews" of such films as the Star Wars prequels, and various Star Trek films, and other flicks like Avatar and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... you're really missing out. Yes, they're meant to be funny, but the insight Red Letter Media has into the art of filmmaking is brilliant.
• Nowalla So much for Gowalla's promises of being able to download your check-in data and stamp collection from their now-dead service... Gowalla.com is down and the domain doesn't even resolve any more. So glad that I spent huge chunks of my time adding spot data, correcting spot errors, and spending my money buying custom stamps. But, hey, they got bought out by Facebook and got paid... so screw all the people who helped build their service! You'd think they'd AT LEAST allow you to import your check-ins and stamps into Facebook or something.
And... I'm prematurely out of bullets. I'd be embarrassed, but I hear it happens to every guy from time to time.
I've been working 18-hour days since Wednesday, straight through the weekend, and into today.
This afternoon it finally caught up to me. I haven't felt this bloody awful in a very long time.
So now I am attempting to make up for some much-needed rest by taking some sleeping pills and heading off to bed at 10:00pm. Maybe if I force myself into a chemically-induced coma for eight hours, I'll snap back to my normal self... or at least get close enough that I can function.
The only problem is that all I can do is think about the work I'm not getting done, and the idea of getting so far behind is keeping me up at night.
All I really want in life right now is an off switch.
It's an interesting time to be living in Washington State.
For one thing, you can walk into a store and buy hard liquor. Tequila at Safeway... Vodka at Wal-Mart... Rum at Costco... when it comes to buying alcohol, our choices are overwhelming now. This is a radical change from the old days when only government liquor stores were allowed to sell such beverages. And by "old days" I mean "last month." It's going to take a while before I get over the shock of walking into the grocery store and seeing booze for sale. Of course, having such easy access to said booze will probably help.
But the bigger change is yet to come.
Back in February, Washington lawmakers passed a marriage equality bill which legalized same-sex marriage. This mobilized the anti-equality brigade, because some people feel that basic human rights and freedoms should be put to a vote. Signatures against equality were collected... enough to force a ballot measure... so now we wait until November to see if an entire group of tax-paying citizens get the same right to marry that everybody else has.
Current polling shows marriage equality winning out, but I'll believe it when I see it. Sadly, you can never underestimate the power of disinformation, fear, lies, and ignorance when it comes to the public at large. And I'm sure that we're going to be seeing plenty of that in the coming months.
Which is really disheartening when you consider the consequences for people whose lives are affected.
Last month I shared an incredibly moving video which explained why marriage equality is so important. Today that video is now a Kickstarter project to become an actual film BY LINDA BLOODWORTH-THOMPSON (of Designing Women fame)...
If you can spare a few bucks to help counter the disinformation, fear, lies, and ignorance, head over to Kickstarter and donate, won't you?
Me in Iceland.
After 18 hours traveling.
"You've had insomnia for as long as I've been reading your blog. When was the last time you remember getting a good night's sleep?"
This afternoon I barely managed to escape death when I jumped out of the way of a car that tried to run me down in the parking lot.
Well, maybe not "death"... but certainly "injury." And probably not really "tried" but more like "accidentally"... but the big picture is this: The car that nearly hit me had a big ol' bumper sticker on the back which said "SEE BICYCLES."
Which has me wondering if I should slap a big ol' bumper sticker that says "SEE PEDESTRIANS" across my ass...
And now for something interesting... that bright yellow "SEE BICYCLES" bumper sticker that's popping up everywhere was actually created by a guy in the city just down the road from me. Apparently he is a cyclist who was injured by a pickup truck back in 2004, and is now trying to raise awareness and make the roads safer for cyclists.
There's something to be said about a guy who takes personal tragedy and uses the experience to try and make life better for others.
If only there was a way I could turn the tragedy of this crappy frozen burrito into making life better for others.
I was an hour late getting to work because I was having a bit of a waffle crisis this morning.
Once I finally got there, it started dumping down rain. This was very bad timing on the weather's part because there's a parade going on downtown this evening. Apparently the rain eventually realized its mistake, as it retreated before the festivities began. Since I had no plans to attend the parade I shouldn't have cared about the weather one way or another, but was kind of glad I didn't get drenched going out to my car when it was time to go home.
I live just five minutes from work. But Since I had three errands along the way, it took me two hours to get home.
I should say that usually I live five minutes from home. Thanks to half the town being closed off for the parade, tonight I lived fifteen minutes from work. I guess this means my errands lasted only an hour-and-forty-five minutes, but it sure seemed like two hours.
Now that I'm home, it was time for inevitable frozen pizza dinner.
I say "inevitable" because frozen pizza takes no thought or effort. It's the microwave popcorn of Saturday-night dinner. Or it would be if microwave popcorn wasn't already the microwave popcorn of Saturday night dinners. If only I had microwave popcorn I wouldn't have had to settle. But the idea of fighting parade traffic for a trip to the grocery store was more than I could bear after the nearly two hours I spent just getting home.
It's at times like this when I'm safe at home while people are fighting for their lives in a parade that I think about how Katy Perry totally ripped off her Fireworks super-powers from the X-man formerly known as "Jubilee." Somebody at Marvel Comics should sue...
And by "sue" I mean "ask Katy Perry to appear in the next Avengers movie." Because, seriously, everything that Katy Perry touches turns to gold!
And now I suppose I should finish polishing all those imaginary trophies I won in that desert submarine competition. Tomorrow I have to do this all over again (sans parade) and that tarnish isn't going to remove itself.
Please remind me to pick up some microwave popcorn so I can have a decent dinner tomorrow night.
This morning I got my bajillionth email asking me how I manage to take all the trips that I do. My best answer is usually "Find a job that requires a lot of travel." But most people are asking about leisure travel, which is something entirely different. And though I can't speak for everybody, I can say what works for me. With that in mind, a special All Travel Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• SET MY PRIORITIES! I drive a crappy car. I will continue to drive the piece of shit until the wheels fall off because it's paid for. It's not that I wouldn't like to have a nice car, it's that I'd rather spend the money traveling. For some people, their priorities would be exactly opposite, and that's fine. I take two vacations every year because that's where I choose to spend my money. You don't have to be obscenely wealthy to travel the world, you just have to make it a priority in your life.
• SAVE MY MONEY! I save up the money needed for a trip before I take it. Sometimes this can take years, and I'll take smaller vacations while I'm saving for the bigger ones. When it comes time to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms, if I don't have enough money saved then I do not go on vacation! It's un-American I know, but the stress of having credit card interest build up on debt I have to pay back would completely negate any fun I might otherwise have. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to have enough money during my Australia holiday once the plane tickets had been purchased and the hotels had been reserved, I was in a near-panic. I couldn't cancel my non-refundable fees for a later date to save up more money. I certainly wasn't going to fly all the way there and do nothing because I couldn't afford it. My only option was to run up $1300 on my credit card. I chose not to worry about it while I was on vacation, but it bothered me badly when I got back. Some people don't have any problem paying for their trip after they take it... I've found it makes for a better vacation if I do the opposite.
• CREATE MY BUDGET! My first real trip "on my own" was to New Orleans when I was in high school. I had won a DECA competition at Washington State Finals and went on to compete in Louisiana for Nationals. My mom and dad paid for airfare and hotel, so the only budget I had to worry about was food. To pay for my meals I was given money by my parents, and also had some meager funds I had saved up... it was more than adequate, but hardly extravagant. My "system" for maintaining a budget was to split my money into the number of days I had. After paying for my meals of the day, I took whatever money was left over and saved it for souvenirs and crap. This gave me a big incentive to eat cheaply so I had pocket money to spend. And since the drinking age of 18 was rarely enforced on my 17 years of age, most of that pocket money went towards alcohol... the best souvenir money can buy! And even though I now have credit cards, ATMs, and whatnot, the money lessons I learned in New Orleans back in 1983 set the pattern for every trip I've taken since.
• INCREASE MY FLEXIBILITY Believe it or not, most of my vacations are based not on where I most want to go... but instead on what's on sale. I subscribe to dozens of email newsletters (Airfare Watchdog is my favorite) that have all kinds of travel deals (and most airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains, and travel sites have newsletters too). When I see something that's affordable and appealing, I grab it. I've taken ridiculously cheap vacations this way. By being flexible I can easily halve my travel costs (or more!). I once flew to Copenhagen for one day to attend a birthday party. It was finding an airfare deal for $298 roundtrip that made it possible. I once took a four-day vacation to New York because I got an airfare/hotel package deal for $400. I flew to San Francisco once because of a $89 roundtrip airfare introductory special. I once got a last-minute roundtrip Hawaii ticket for $199. My airfare for the trip to Venice I took last year was FREE (+ $120 in fees) when I signed up for a credit card (which I immediately turned around and canceled before I had to pay the annual fee). If you have an open mind and can be a little flexible on dates, you can get deals that are almost too good to be true.
• DO MY RESEARCH! Back in the 80's and early 90's travel was very different than it is now. The way you saved money was to find the cheapest alternatives for stuff you needed. For me this meant sleeping on trains or finding hostels instead of staying in hotels. It meant buying food at the market instead of going out to restaurants. It meant a lot of research and a lot of planning. It meant a lot of calls to a travel agent. All this changed when travel sites like Orbitz came along. Easily being able to find and compare cheap airfare and hotels meant my travel dollar went further. I could stay longer and do more than ever before. Everything change again when bidding sites like Priceline came along. Now I could stay at fantastic hotels cheaply. Kayak arrived and suddenly finding the best price on airfare was a snap. Today I am traveling in sheer luxury compared to how I used to travel... and yet paying budget prices. Thank you, internet!
• MAXIMIZE MY REWARDS! I purchase absolutely everything on my rewards credit card. Everything. $35 in gas? Credit card. Cable TV bill? Credit card. Phone bill? Credit card. $3.50 bagel? Credit card. Whenever humanly possible I buy everything on credit card because each dollar translates into reward points. Points that I can then spend to get free airline tickets. The only thing you have to do to make this work in your favor is to pay off your credit card balance every month (I pay mine every week). How can I afford to attend Bitchsterdam in the Netherlands each year? Free airline ticket. And it doesn't stop there. I have frequent flier cards for every airline I fly. I have hotel stay reward cards for every hotel I stay at (even though you don't get points for discounted Priceline stays, you still get perks for visits). I enroll in every loyalty program that's free even if I don't think I'll ever use it again... you just never know.
• PLAN MY VISIT! Once I decide where I'm going and what I'm doing, I plan for the trip. Not necessarily down to the last detail, because I don't like having to be on a schedule... but enough to know what I want to do and what I'll be spending to do it. I research how much meals cost. I research what activities there are and how much they cost. I ask questions of people who have already been there. I pour over travel websites. I do everything I can to anticipate every dollar I'll have to spend so I can save for it. Most of the time I'm very good at this because I'm well-informed before I even get there. On rare occasions, shit happens and you go into debt to pay for it, but imagine how much worse it would have been if you had gone in with no planning at all?
• FOLLOW MY BUDGET! I use the same strategy now that I did for my first trip when it comes to a budget. I divide the money I have available for expenses into the number of days I'm away. Anything I have left over at the end of the day is then used for souvenirs and crap (but mostly alcohol... some things never change!).
And that's pretty much it. Other people have their own way of traveling, and that's great, but this is what works for me. Happy travels!
So this is what the weather is like at End of Days.
Since Saturday we've been flipping between gorgeous blue skies one minute... followed by thunder showers just minutes later... followed by gorgeous blue skies again soon after. And while the changes are shockingly rapid, they're actually really cool to watch. Today on the way to work I watched a rain shower crash down from the mountains like a wave. As I was driving home I saw a thundershower retreat to the horizon like smoke in the wind. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Mother Nature can deliver.
Which leads me to...
The Newsroom premiered Sunday on HBO. It's weird. It's wacky. It's wonderful in a way that only Aaron Sorkin can deliver.
Remarkably (for HBO anyways), they've just made the first episode available on YouTube in its entirety. Because of Sorkin's near-flawless run on The West Wing, his totally-flawless run on Sports Night, and his mostly-flawless run on Studio 60, I had no choice but to give it a watch... despite the rather shocking number of poor reviews it's been pulling.
Unsurprisingly, I really liked it.
Partly because it stars Emily Mortimer, whom I love more than chocolate pudding, but mostly because Sorkin's commentary on the state of "news" in this country mirrors my own to a scary degree.
Not to say there aren't problems. First of all, this first episode felt exactly like the first episodes of Studio 60 and Sports Night. Twice on the opening similarities I could forgive... but three times feels like Sorkin is fresh out of ideas on how to start a new show. Second of all, too many situations go too dramatic too fast. Not every little thing in life has to end in high drama (except if you're Aaron Sorkin, apparently). Lastly*, the show takes place not in present-day... but back in 2010. This means every show is going to be re-living news that already happened (starting with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster this episode). I can only guess that this is due to Sorkin wanting to run the news as it really went down instead of approximating news events that are currently going on. Yawn. The West Wing handled a kind of "faux current" reality so beautifully, why is The Newsroom stuck in the past? I'm hoping this doesn't end up boring me.
Regardless, I'm just happy to have Sorkin back. Nobody writes television like he does, and anything he's involved in is bound to be worth watching. You can decide for yourself by clicking over to YouTube.
*Well, not lastly. "Lastly" would be that The Newsroom is so overrun with placement advertising for Dell Computer that I have to wonder if Michael Dell is secretly blowing Aaron Sorkin in addition to handing over sticky wads of cash. It's downright embarrassing, and a huge distraction.
During the "Dot Com Explosion" of the late 90's I knew more than a few people who amassed considerable wealth in a very short amount of time. This did not include me, however, because I was becoming increasingly involved with the Buddhist studies I had stumbled upon a decade earlier. Material wealth was something that took a distant back seat to my spiritual wealth back then, so chasing the buckets of money was not a priority. Even so, it was an interesting period in my life precisely because of all the money that was to be had.
And the randomness of where the money went.
Some people I knew stumbled into shit-loads of money almost by accident, but were smart enough to turn it into a personal fortune while the gettin' was good.
One guy... a kid, really... was pulling down thousands of dollars a week just making simple banner ads in his spare time. He not only earned enough money to completely pay for his college tuition, but had enough left over to pay for a bug chunk of his sister's education as well.
Another guy got a full-time job with a massive salary working from home on a corporate website. This occupied so little of his time that he ended up getting two additional "full-time" work-at-home-jobs... all of which he held at the same time. After six months he had enough money saved up that he started his own business, which he ran successfully for nearly a year before selling it for a staggering amount of money. This would be a cool story in itself, but it's made all the more incredible when you know that he kept all three of his "full-time" jobs that whole time!
Still another guy made huge, huge money because he owned a "worthless" low-rent office building that his family had purchased decades earlier. He inherited it after his dad died and had tried to sell it several times without success... until the neighborhood became a hotspot for dot-com start-ups. Luckily for him, he quickly learned the value of what he had, and was able to milk it for incredible profits... before finally selling it to a big company that bought it only so they could tear it down and build their new headquarters on the land.
Money was raining down from the heavens at an incalculable rate, and a lot of people became incredibly wealthy chasing it.
But not everybody.
Some people, try as they might, could never manage to get their piece of the pie no matter how hard they tried. They would start up one failed business after another trying to figure out where the money was... but never managed to find it.
These were some of the most bitter, angry, resentful people I've ever met. And the most educational, as they clearly confirmed that my embracing anti-materialism was the right path to be on. This was never made more clear to me as when I joined a group of them at a housewarming party thrown by a guy who was making bajillions of dollars in dot-com cash. He proudly showed off his incredible new home, only to be cut-up from one end to the other the minute he left the room. At one point some guests were discussing the "horror story" that was the kitchen decor. I found this funny... and said so, which lead to this conversation...
"You actually like that ugly mess?"
"Well, it's not my taste, but he's clearly happy with it. Since he's the one that has to live with it, what should it matter to anybody else?"
"Because he has the money to hire a decent interior decorator and still chooses to have an ugly kitchen!"
This was good for a group-laugh, which was fascinating to me...
"Well, fortunately the only thing wrong with him is something that can be fixed by a coat of paint... we should all be so lucky."
The implication of that statement went right over their heads (thankfully), but stuck with me for a very long time. Even when I strayed off the path of anti-materialism because I realized that some "stuff" made my life much more fun. Like a
Eventually the dot-com bubble burst. Some people who made a lot of money ended up losing a lot more.
This, I'm sure, was a time of glee and much rejoicing by all the bitter, angry, resentful people who were so tortured by the monetary success that eluded them during those heady days. Finally, at long last, those who succeeded where they had failed were "getting what they deserved!"
The irony being that all the bitter, angry, resentful people were getting exactly what they deserved, even if they didn't realize it.
Which is why I am trying hard — so very hard — not to be bitter, angry, and resentful that Justin Bieber's new album, Believe, has just become the year's top-selling debut... despite being filled with songs that I loathe so badly that I can barely listen to 10 seconds of the 90-second preview snippets on the iTunes Store without gagging.
Fortunately, Matt & Kim, a band I love more than buckets of money, just released a new single to keep me on my path...
Life. Is. Good.
This morning as I was walking towards my car, I heard loud ruffling... then felt something smack me on the side of my head. When I looked up, I saw a large quail flying up to the carport roof. "Help. I'm being attacked by a giant quail." I yelled.
Nobody came running to rescue me.
The bird just sat there glaring at me as I slowly backed away.
So I got into the car... slowly... then drove off.
Things just went downhill from there. And when I finally came home from work, I admit I took a good look around, thinking that the big quail would be there waiting for me. But he wasn't. Apparently he had other people to terrorize.
As if the evil geese weren't enough to worry about. I swear, sometimes living in the wilds of Redneckistan is enough to drive me crazy. I may be a vegetarian, but right now I'm wondering which is more delicious... quail or goose. Forget Turducken, it's time for Gooquaiken.
Assuming they don't get me first.
So... I worked straight through all day and have been completely out of touch with the world. Anything happen while I was gone?
Well, other than Olive Garden's 2 for $25 Italian Dinner Special... WITH UNLIMITED SALAD AND BREADSTICKS!
I just wish they didn't mandate that you have to pay for the dinner in order to get the unlimited salad and breadsticks. Why should I be forced to pay for something I don't want just to be able to get unlimited free access to something I do? I mean, it's nice they made it cheaper and easier to get, but who knows when I'm going to eat that breadstick... I may end up never eating it! And that means I was forced to pay for dinner for nothing!
Sure, I still get all the benefits of dinner that will get me all the salad and breadsticks I need if I ever end up needing some... and, yeah, it wouldn't be fair to just wander into Olive Garden and demand unlimited salad and breadsticks when I didn't pay for any dinner... and, certainly, it's the money that's coming in from the dinners that allows Olive Garden to provide the unlimited salad and breadsticks in the first place... but forcing people to buy something is totally un-American! It's like a socialist plot invented by... oh, dunno... the Italians or something!
I should be able to refuse to buy dinner and instead fucking starve to death because I can't afford to pay the $200,000 for a salad and breadstick emergency... which is how much something like that costs when you didn't purchase the dinner plan. I mean, it's my right as an American to gamble my life away! That's why we're the best country on earth and leaders of the free world!
And it's also my right to decide I don't want to die... and to change my mind at the last minute if an unexpected salad and breadsticks emergency happens... and to then shame this country for killing its citizens just because they made the mistake of not getting dinner when they had the chance. Would Jesus allow a man to die just because he had no dinner and couldn't afford emergency salad and breadsticks? I think not!
I dunno. I just don't get it. What's next... is Olive Garden going to force me to buy Justin Bieber albums? Or force me to do some other random thing that sounds crazy but has absolutely no bearing what-so-ever on Americans' access to unlimited salad and breadsticks?
Bad enough that I am forced to buy dinner... but the fact that some of my dinner money is going to provide salad and breadsticks for the poor is what really pisses me off. Because they're poor. They should just be allowed to starve to death because feeding the poor is socialist. I'm pretty sure that's in The Bible.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat AT TACO BELL. Where real Americans eat American food like American Nacho Burrito Supremes... just like our American Founding Fathers did.
U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!
And so Apple has made me poor.
Except not really. Yes, their new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has put me in debt, but it's also replacing my aging and busted MacBook Pro which I use constantly for my work. And replacing it beautifully. It is without question the most remarkable laptop... most remarkable computer... I have ever seen or had the privilege to use...
And while the "Retina Display" alone would make this machine a quantum leap beyond any other portable, Apple didn't stop there. They have adopted many of the same features which make their beautiful MacBook Air line so revolutionary. It's the crossroads of power and portability, and hands-down the ultimate laptop for graphics work like I do every day.
Except it's gonna cost ya. The cutting edge always does.
I'm going to run through all the specific features in an extended entry, but the bottom line is that the minimum baseline configuration for this machine costs $2,199. For work like I do, you really need the next step up, which runs $2,799. But I felt I needed something stronger, so I customized a machine that has the faster 2.7/3.7GHz CPU (+$250) and a maxed-out 16GB of RAM (+$200), which totaled a whopping $3,249. I stuck with the 512GB Flash Storage (Solid State Drive) because it was enough for me (it's bigger than the 320GB hard drive in my old MacBook Pro!) and I couldn't justify the additional $500 to bump that up to 768GB.
Now, when I look at that $3,249 price tag, a part of me wants to start screaming. But this isn't a toy that I use to just read email and surf the web... it's a critical work tool which I use to make a living every day. For me at least, it's a bargain. And every time I sit down to use it, I know exactly where that money went. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a boon to my productivity and a pleasure to use. I love it passionately, and can't imagine going back to a "regular" laptop.
If you want to know why, all my notes are in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Here in the wilds of Redneckistan in Eastern Washington, nice surprises do happen.
Though, in the political arena, this is quite rare. We are the Red half of the state by a wide margin, and Conservative politics dominate the region. Heck, I usually end up voting Republican locally, because it's nice to have some representation in the state I live in. Otherwise, we would be completely forgotten as the Democratic-dominated politicians over on "The Coast" pander to their mostly-liberal voters...
My biggest problem with political representatives in this country is that a good chunk of them don't actually represent all all the people they are supposed to represent. They choose to represent only those people who think and believe the same as they do. A lot of the time, that's what got them elected, that's what is going to get them re-elected, and they don't really give a crap about anybody else. You can't really blame them for their attitude since it keeps them alive politically... except I most definitely do because that's NOT the way it should be.
And yet, as I said, there are surprises.
Like when Representative Maureen Walsh, a Republican from Walla Walla in Washington's very Conservative 16th District, made a rather touching speech in support of our state voting to legalize marriage equality...
Unsurprisingly, her support (fueled largely by her daughter, I'm sure), put her on a political hit-list here in Redneckistan. She's now running against an opponent whose opposition to marriage equality is the cornerstone of their campaign.
And then something interesting happened. Rep. Walsh started getting contributions to her campaign from gay donors that were not only out of her district, but out of the state. This has sparked strong criticism from her opponent, Ruth Edwards, who says taking money from out-of-staters shows that Walsh is out of touch with her district. A district who reelected Walsh after she supported extending benefits to domestic partners in 2009, even though the measure itself failed miserably in that same district. Surprise!
I guess we'll see if Edwards stands on the same principles if an organization like the equality-haters from "National Organization for Marriage" decide to dump money on her campaign.
In any event, even though I don't agree with all her politics, I just made a contribution to Walsh's re-election bid. She seems to be one of those rare politicians who makes representing the rights of all the people in her district a priority... even if supporting their right to equality may not be politically in her best interest. Because, with all due respect to Ruth Edwards, it's not just people out-of-state that want to see Washington on the right side of history.