Yes. Yes I know that it's Wednesday. But I always have to juggle the last Bullet Sunday of the year around so I don't mess up my year-end Best Lists. But don't despair... because a special New Year's Bullet Sunday (on Wednesday) starts now...
• Resolute! My New Year's Resolutions are the same every year. 2013 was a yet another piece of cake...
And what am I looking forward to this year?
• Travel! I honestly thought that I would be better organized for 2014 than I was in 2013. But, alas, no. So many places I want to go this year... but I have no idea where I'm going to end up. Hopefully somewhere amazing.
• Movies! About the only think that's hit my "must-see" radar for 2014 are the two Marvel films we're getting... Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy... oh, make that three... becauseVeronica Mars. Other films that may entice me to the cinema... The LEGO Movie, Muppets Most Wanted, RoboCop, Tomorrowland, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
• Music! Macintosh Braun, Garbage, Blondie, Foo Fighters, Broken Bells, and Matt & Kim, perhaps?
• Fiction! As THRICE Fiction continues to defy odds for a magazine by forging ahead into Year No. Four, I'm hoping for more of the same great content.
• Apple! iPhone 6? Probably! Apple Smart Television? PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! Hoping to be thrilled by my favorite fruit-themed computer company this year.
• Ink! I want to keep forging forward with the pieces of my forearm band... but this may be the year I finally get "that big tattoo" that I've been saving my right arm for.
But, mostly, I'm looking forward to a year filled with mostly good news for once.
Grass. Weed. Reefer. Pot. Skunk. Bud. Chronic. Mary Jane. Ganja. Herb. Wacky Tobacky.
No matter what your name for it, Marijuana is now legally for sale in Colorado... and will be legally for sale here in my home-state of Washington sometime this Spring.
And while I was a huge proponent of legalizing marijuana for personal use, I will undoubtedly not be partaking myself. That would be money wasted when Jägermeister already does such a great job of ejecting me from reality when I need that...
But I make no promises.
The reason being that I am so rarely able to keep my promises.
As an example, I once promised that I would no longer write editorial rebuttals on my blog because they so rarely do anything to elevate the conversation. Probably because the only reason I write editorial rebuttals in the first place is that I'm very, very angry about said editorial. And while angry rants may be a release... may be cathartic... and may even be fun... they're also overly-emotional, profanity-laden, and sometimes even incomprehensible.
Thus my promise.
A pathetic joke of an op-ed piece in The New York Times' by David Brooks was published today. It's rife with the kind of condescending rhetoric that a sane person would avoid at any cost but, like the fool I am, I dove in anyway. And, while I honestly don't give a shit about Brooks or his laughably transparent attempt at manipulating his readers, I do give a huge shit about what the fucking douche has to say about legalization supporters like me.
But, before we get there, it's important to put it into context.
The first half of his op-ed waxes poetic about how Brooks smoked pot when he was a teenager, but eventually gave it up.
And then we get to this...
"We now have a couple states — Colorado and Washington — that have gone into the business of effectively encouraging drug use. By making weed legal, they are creating a situation in which the price will drop substantially. One RAND study suggests that prices could plummet by up to 90 percent, before taxes and such. As prices drop and legal fears go away, usage is bound to increase. This is simple economics, and it is confirmed by much research. Colorado and Washington, in other words, are producing more users."
"But, of course, these are the core questions: Laws profoundly mold culture, so what sort of community do we want our laws to nurture? What sort of individuals and behaviors do our governments want to encourage? I’d say that in healthy societies government wants to subtly tip the scale to favor temperate, prudent, self-governing citizenship. In those societies, government subtly encourages the highest pleasures, like enjoying the arts or being in nature, and discourages lesser pleasures, like being stoned."
Well fuck you David Brooks.
Will legalizing marijuana bring about more drug users? I have no clue. It's not going to change my habits. Will there be people who abuse legalized marijuana? Of course there will. And they should be punished just like alcohol abusers are now. Driving while drunk or driving while stoned, it doesn't matter... you break the law you pay the price. The precedent has already been set, so move along, there's nothing to see here.
Seriously, there's nothing to see here.
Which is why, after reading this piece, I can't quite decide whether David Brooks is pretending to be so obtuse... or if he is, in fact, mentally deficient.
A few points...
If nothing else, smoking a join would sure beat lesser pleasures... like reading unintelligent op-ed trash by David Brooks.
Don't believe me? Just ask a teenage David Brooks.
I miss reading. I used to read a lot. Like... really a lot.
I'd easily tear through 25 books a year, and it wasn't unheard of to do double that. I'm a fairly quick reader, so a book a week is a piece of cake if the material isn't too challenging (Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco was insane and took over a month to get through).
But then stuff started getting in the way.
Video games got more complex and time consuming.
Work got more and more involved.
Social media became a time-suck of epic proportions.
Now-a-days the only time I get to read is when I travel, and even that's diminishing. I'm either catching up with movies on my iPad, using in-flight wi-fi, or playing with my Nintendo 3DS. For a while I thought audio-books were a way to keep "reading" in my life, but so few books are enjoyable to me that way (David Sedaris, for example, is better on audio-book, but good sci-fi is almost impossible for me to get through).
In 2013 I read three books.
And so I've set a goal for myself to read six books in 2014.
Wish me luck.
As winter storm warnings drop across the USA, better bundle up tight... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Return! Dan Harmon is back to running Community after having been canned from it last season. And even though only two new Harmon episodes have aired, it's clear that the show is going to be as good as it ever was. If you're not watching the show... or quit after Harmon left... it's time to jump back onboard.
Just don't remind me that Troy only has three episodes left before his character is written out...
• Good Bye. Was really sad to learn that James Avery died this past week. Immortalized as Will Smith's "Uncle Phil" on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Avery was an actor who somehow managed to hold his own in scenes that would seem impossible to do so...
So long, Uncle Phil.
• Snack! ZOMG! THESE NEW SARA LEE DEVIL'S FOOD CREME CAKES ARE LIKE CAKE AND CANDY IN ONE! LOVE THEM!
And are as bad for you as you'd imagine them to be. Oh well. At least they don't have DISGUSTING LARD like Hostess snack cakes do.
• REALLY? Speaking of things that are bad for you... When it comes to stupid fucking idiots, it's pretty tough to top Jenny McCarthy. She advocates not vaccinating your child (based on bad, inaccurate information) under the guise of "saving children from autism"... but then turns around and glamorizes smoking and nicotine addiction with her Blu e-cig commercials...
For the children, I'm sure.
It's bad enough that her anti-vax idiocy is spreading illness and death... now she's promoting an unhealthy habit too? I'm guessing that whoring herself out for huffing gasoline is next. All she has to do is find somebody to pay her to make an ad for it.
And... I think I'm done. I'll just let that last bullet sink in a bit...
As somebody who has been stuck because of weather many times, this so-called "Polar Vortex" that has descended on North America has me incredibly grateful that I'm not traveling right now.
And yet... when I try to recall horrible experiences I've had while being stuck traveling, it's not as easy as I thought it would be. Yeah, spending hours on end at an airport waiting for weather to clear is awful, but when it comes to serious travel delays... e.g. days... it's not so bad. I don't know if that's because I tend to make the best out of a bad situation or what, but I have only good memories of the times I've been stranded for extended periods.
I was once stuck in Germany for three days. It was a very expensive problem to have because hotels were pricy and difficult to come by... but I drank a lot of beer and spent time goofing around the local Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Outdoor Market) so I didn't mind at all.
I've also been stuck in Japan for three days because my work ran late and I couldn't find a flight home... but that was almost like a mini-vacation, because it was over a weekend and I had friends in the city to keep me occupied.
Domestically, I've been stuck overnight many, many times, and that's not so great. But the time I was stuck in New York for four days? Glorious! Two unplanned days in Orlando? Great! A half-week stuck in Chicago? So awesome.
Even my worst delay ever of nine days ended up being a lot of fun...
First I was stuck in Arkansas.
Then I was stuck in Minneapolis (fun times at Mall of America!).
Then I was stuck in Seattle (funner times spending an unplanned five-day Christmas vacation with my sister!).
By the time I finally got "un-stuck" I was a little depressed at the idea of having to go back home.
So maybe I shouldn't be quite so grateful that I'm not traveling after all. Maybe I'm missing out on an awesome adventure by being stuck at home instead of being stuck someplace interesting. Maybe serious weather delays are the best excuse ever for skipping out on life for just a little while.
Thou shalt not avenge , nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. — Leviticus 19:18 (KJV)
Grudges are always more destructive to the person holding them than the person who's a target of them. Which is why it's not terribly smart to hold grudges, and you'll be a lot healthier and happier if you heed Holy Scripture and just let things go. Bygones, and all that.
But "letting go" of those you feel have wronged you is not always an easy thing to do. Thus a grudge by inaction becomes revenge in action.
Humans are hard-wired for revenge, and modern humans have elevated it to an art-form. When we're not seeking revenge, we're enjoying it as entertainment. This is not something we're proud of. Our aspirations are so much higher. But you can't fight human nature.
And by "you" I mean "me."
I expect so much better of you.
Snow ain't what it used to be.
When I was a kid it would snow as early as Halloween, last through March, and be so deep that you could tunnel under it. Now it's lucky to snow before Christmas, last through February, or be deep enough to matter. I don't know whether to be happy or sad about that. The good news is that I won't have to move to Arizona any time soon. The bad news is that lack of snow now means lack of water later.
This year, our first snow happened today. I know this because I had to scrape it off my car after work...
It won't last.
Which means it's only here long enough to be irritating.
What else is new.
"Dave 2 will be the first to admit that his blog is mostly crap. But there's some interesting stuff in there if you're willing to dig through all that crap." — StuckyTruth
"Too much work." — Sam R.
If that doesn't sum up Blogography, I don't know what does.
Thanks for putting up with my crap, fearless reader!
As expected, today was a lovely Spring day with gorgeous blue skies and warm temperatures. Which means the brief snow we got on Wednesday has evaporated.
For now. I'm guessing Winter... what little of it we're going to get... is still ahead. Hopefully the mountains are fairing better, or else we'll be in the middle of a drought come Summer.
In other news...
Literally in other news...
If you hadn't noticed, the whole Chris Christie Bridge Scandal exploded this week. The gist of the story is this...
The million dollar question remains... How much did Chris Christie actually know about the closure, and was he the person behind it all? He denies it, of course, but he's a fucking politician. They don't know how not to lie.
But whatever. For me, whether Christie was or wasn't behind everything is secondary to his disgusting behavior as the scandal unfolded. THIS was a top contender for the office of President of the United States?
And it got me to wondering. Are there ANY contenders for President out there that I would actually want in office come 2016? So I started looking into the top people rumored to be in contention for the job. And the answer was not at all surprising...
No. No there are not.
I think of politicians like Paul Ryan, Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Bobby Jindal, Andrew Cuomo, Ted Cruz, and (God help us) Marco Rubio as President of the United States and I feel like I'm going to vomit then crap my pants and die. These people are PRESIDENTIAL material?
No. No they are not.
Which means somebody has got to step up to the plate and captivate the country Real Soon Now. Preferably somebody who's not a polarizing, divisive figure. And somebody who can be tough but fair. And supports personal freedoms. And has a brain in their head.
Somebody like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But, you know, real.
Not that blood-sucking vampire hunting skills wouldn't be handy in Washington DC.
I have no opinion on ketchup brands. Heinz, Hunts, Del Monte... whatever.
I have a very serious opinion on things that matter. Like taco sauce (La Victoria), cola (Coke), toilet paper (Charmin), and handbags (Dooney & Bourke).
And while having opinions is all well and good, sharing opinions can sometimes get you into trouble. Well, not "trouble" per se... but opinions can certainly get you unwanted drama. Especially if you share those opinions with the entire world on the internet.
This morning I went to approve some comments on my blog. One of them gave me an error, so I clicked through to see what was wrong. My guess is that the comment was too long, as I was having to scroll through pages of it before I got to the end.
Apparently somebody took issue with my opinion that Lost was one of the shittiest television shows ever to air on television because, after a great start, the writers didn't know what they were doing or where the hell they were going with the story. The point of the comment, if I had to guess, is that I am "too stupid" to understand how great Lost is, so my "opinion is invalid."
And so I started dicing up the comment so I could get it to post it over several comments... all so I could type some snarky one-sentence response to their ten-page rant. But then I realized just how much I don't give a crap over this person's opinion of my opinion, and just deleted it. That'll teach you to call me stupid, you stupid-head!
Or probably not. Because internet, and all that.
Just five years ago, I would have not only figured out a way to post that comment, but would have written an equally-long point-by-point response justifying my opinion. I don't know what's changed in me since 2009, but I can't fathom doing that today. I just don't care enough to put in all that effort over a television show that ended ages ago.
Especially a show that ended so badly.
Oops. There I go again.
Grab onto those Golden Globes... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Seahawks! And so the Seahawks won their NFL Second Round Playoffs game against the Saints. Here in Washington State, it's kind of a big deal. And while I support the home team, of course, I'm not a rabid Seahawks fan, so it's more of a passive activity...
But for most everybody else, it's a bit more obsessive than that...
It's important to note that quite a few of these fans are only fans when the Seahawks are doing well. When they're doing shitty, these same "fans" will be back to bitching about how much the "SeaChickens" suck.
All I know is that I wouldn't be caught dead at a Seahawks home game any more. The whole "12th Man" phenomena is just too crazy. The entire object of which seems to be to maintain Seattle's reputation of having the loudest fans on earth. Which is something to be proud of, I guess? Personally, I don't get it. Who wants to stand in the middle of a bunch of people screaming non-stop at the top of their lungs? Oh... die-hard Seahawks fans, that's who. Oh well. Good luck, Seahawks!
• Miyazaki! The Simpsons unleashed a wonderful, beautiful, amazing tribute to anime and Hayao Miyazaki in a recent episode. So cool...
Time to go watch Spirited Away for the hundredth time.
• Veronica! Two months. Two short months...
Yeah. I'm excited.
• WD-40! Don't you hate it when you're focused on your work when all of a sudden you find yourself thinking "Hey, what's the deal behind WD-40?" And "Why is WD-40 called WD-40 in the first place?" Then, unlike in the past when you'd just shrug your shoulders and go back to work, you instead waste 15 minutes getting caught in a Wikipedia black hole?
In case you're wondering... WD-40 was a scientist's 40th attempt to create a Water Displacement formula to prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles. Personally, I would have lied and said it was my 43rd attempt, because WD-43 sounds a lot more fun. Which is important when you're talking about preventing nuclear missiles from corroding.
• Globes! Was very happy to see that Breaking Bad got some recognition. Great to see Jennifer Lawrence be her amazing self once again with her American Hustle win. Having Spike Jones win for Her just makes me want to see this film even more than I already did. And Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did a fantastic job hosting, as expected. The only two complaints I had were... A) Most of the award speeches were seriously bad, and B) The tribute to raging pervert Woody Allen had me wondering if everybody had forgotten how he HAD AN AFFAIR WITH HIS WIFE'S ADOPTED DAUGHTER, THEN MARRIED HER... and is STILL under suspicion for molesting one of his wife's other adopted daughters... WHEN SHE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD! If everybody did forget, we have Woody Allen's son on Twitter to remind them...
Not to mention the fact that I think all of Allen's movies are shit anyway.
And, there you have it. No more bullets for you.
And so I received notice that I have to call in for jury duty... AGAIN.
I swear, I get called for jury duty more than anybody I know. Hell, just since starting this blog I've been summoned September 2003, February 2006, May 2008, and December 2009... and at least three times before then. That's seven times when most people I know are lucky to be called once. I guess I should feel lucky that it's been four years since my last one. I think that's the longest I've ever gone between notices, as I am usually summoned at least every two years.
I don't know how jury duty works for everybody else, but here you are given a time to call in to see if there's a trial needing your service. If there's not, you keep calling in over a two week period to see if you're needed. So, basically, I have to completely rearrange my life for TWO WEEKS when I'm lucky to be able to schedule that much vacation time after planning months in advance.
How in the hell is this considered acceptable?
Surely the court has a FUCKING CALENDAR where they can ACTUALLY SCHEDULE THE FUCKING TRIALS so they can FUCKING CALL A JURY IN without DICKING PEOPLE AROUND with this stupid "Call us!" bullshit. I mean, seriously, TWO FUCKING WEEKS?!?
My disgust for our legal system is so intense that I always worry that I'm going to be slapped with a contempt charge whenever I have to show up in court.
But how is that my fault when our courts are so contemptible?
It's all I can do to contain myself while being subjected to the outrageous crap you have to endure for "justice." I put "justice" in quotes because the last trial I served at had a prosecutor who expected the jury to find some guy guilty of drunk driving... WHEN THE OFFICER LET HIM DRIVE HOME AFTER HE WAS STOPPED! Yeah, that wasn't a waste of my fucking time and our tax dollars.
And yet... I'm not expected to be in contempt of the court system.
If there were ever any doubts that our American politicians and courts are in the pocket of lobbyists and corporations, you can pretty much shove them aside now that the FCC has struck a blow to net neutrality.
I don't think I'm understating things when I say that the internet... the one true outlet for freedom and equality left in this country... is now totally fucked.
Unless this gets overturned or revised, you are no longer in control of the internet content available to you. Your Internet Service Provider is in control. Which, odds are, is a mega-corporation like Comcast, Time-Warner, Charter, Verizon, Cox, Frontier... and their confederates and owners. This is horrendously bad for many, many reasons, but your government just doesn't give a flying fuck. They're bought and paid for just like everything else in this country...
And so on. And so on. And so on.
There are people, of course, who feel that the free market will sort all this out. And I feel sorry for those who cling to this delusion, because there is no free market any more. The people who own everything will be deciding how you access the internet, and there's nothing "free" about that. Especially if you're in a rural area where you don't have any options for which company you can use to even get access to the internet in the first place.
When I think of all the tax dollars... OUR tax dollars... that went into building the internet only to have it fall into the hands of corporations, I'm shocked and disgusted. I know I shouldn't be, because that's the way everything else has gone, but I am. I always thought that the outcry against unfettered access to the internet would be so huge that there was no way it could ever happen.
Yet here we are.
Or maybe it's just me. For all I know, your ISP could decide that Blogography is an undesirable risk to their revenue stream, and my blog will no longer be accessible.
In that case, it's been nice knowing you.
Jeez what a horribly mundane day.
The only thing that's keeping me going is that I have a bag of Budget $aver Banana Popsicles waiting for me at home.
I may even have a tub of Snack-Pack Chocolate Pudding left.
Wouldn't that just be the best thing ever?
Remember when taking pictures was a relatively complex ordeal where you had to load your camera with "film" and then send it off to be developed and printed? And THEN if you wanted to get those photos into your computer you had to have them scanned, touched-up, color-corrected, and burned to a CD? Hard times. Hard times.
Back in the early 1990's, Kodak came up with a system to cut down on the hassle called "Photo CD." This was a service where you could have your film developed, scanned, and a CD burned all at the same time. I loved it. The scan quality was pretty darn good if you went to a reputable lab, and the convenience was fantastic. It also saved a lot of money over paying somebody to scan them for you or buying the equipment to do it yourself.
Unfortunately, Photo CD never really went anywhere for a number of reasons. Eventually Kodak abandoned their proprietary format, and that was the end of that. Soon after, digital photography caught hold, and film died a long, agonizing death. With that in mind, it's not like PhotoCD had much of a chance had Kodak hung in there. Still, for somebody stuck in the film era, it was good while it lasted.
Flash forward to today, and there are a lot of Photo CDs still floating around out there.
Tonight I ran across a pile of them while tossing out some old computer junk.
Needless to say, you can't just pop a Photo CD in your iMac and look at all the pretty pictures. Modern computers have no frickin' clue how to read (let alone display) any of the images in that dead format. Lucky for me, people have reverse-engineered the proprietary Kodak file scheme and there are decoders out there (assuming you're tech-savvy enough to hunt them down and figure out how to use them). Or, if you have an antiquated computer laying around with old software installed, you might be able to read Photo CDs (Photoshop v5 anyone?)... which is probably the easiest way to do it. Eventually, I might get around to converting them to JPEGs (or whatever) but for now they're just sitting in a pile on my desk.
And it gets you thinking.
Photo CD died less than 20 years ago and it's quickly becoming impossible to read them.
And it's just a drop in the bucket. Think of all the dead formats out there... ZIP disks, JAZ drives, SyQuest cartridges, floppy disks, VHS, LaserDisc, digital video cassettes... the list goes on and on. And can CDs and DVDs far behind? Does Apple even sell computers that have CD/DVD drives any more? How long before they're just two more dead formats on the pile?
If you've got any media sitting around that has stuff which is important to you... I wouldn't wait too long to get it transferred.
In twenty years, you might not be able to. At least not easily.
My "not-my-day-job" job requires a lot of patience, perseverance, humility, dedication and, above all... flexibility. Most every appointment I make involves my being "squeezed in" to somebody's calnedar, and things often change with only a moment's notice. Most times I will fly into a city a day early and leave two days late because I just don't know when I can get in the door. Often times, the trip itself happens without warning because an opportunity arises. Once I got a call as I was driving home from the airport telling me I had to turn around, go back to the airport, and be on the next flight to Orlando (which left in 90 minutes). Good thing I had a clean pair of underwear left over.
Needless to say, making personal plans while on the job is not easy. Often times it's impossible. Not that this stops me from trying. Fortunately, most of my friends in far away places are very understanding and forgiving when it comes to my having to change or cancel plans. They know it's not my choice that I can't make it to dinner or show up for a movie... it's just part of the game.
But it's not something everybody can handle.
Next week I have to be in San Francisco. Last time I was in the city for work, it was very last-minute, but my appointments were pretty well nailed-down to the daytime. So I made plans to get a tattoo and attend a farewell party during my free evenings... knowing full well that either could be canceled without notice. Lucky for me they weren't, and everything worked out fine. Until I got an email from a friend who was upset that I didn't contact them for a meet-up while I was there. I explained that the trip was a last-minute thing and all my time was booked, but promised I'd let them know the next time I was in San Francisco.
Except when I went to message them on Facebook once my schedule had been tightened up, I found out that I had been unfriended.
Like I said, my wildly erratic work and travel schedule is not something everybody can handle.
Which makes me really appreciate those friends who can put up with me.
Because sometimes it's all I can do to put up with myself.
I packed a sack lunch for work today.
Mostly because I wanted a cheese-and-potato-chip sandwich, and you can't get that at the mini-mart. So long as you pack the potato chips separately so they don't go all soggy, it makes for a pretty good meal...
And THAT was the highlight of my day.
If it were any other day except Saturday, that would be enough.
Hold on to those Super Bowl XLVII predictions... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Seahawks! And speaking of the Super Bowl... looks like the Seahawks are getting their second trip to the big game. Ironically they'll be playing the Broncos, which means it's a battle between the two states that legalized marijuana. That's quite a bowl.
• Security! Show of hands... who thinks that President Obama would have held a press conference concerning infringements on civil liberties and new restrictions on NSA surveillance if the government hadn't been caught spying on all the wrong people? Another show of hands... who thinks anything is going to actually change? Meh. It's all bullshit anyway. Politicians can say whatever they want to mollify the public, but whether it's our own government... or a company like Google... personal privacy is gone.
"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither" — Benjamin Franklin
• Freedom! To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Freedom Industries (the company whose badly maintained waste storage tanks are responsible for a chunk of West Virginia losing their water supply) have declared bankruptcy. Typical. Big corporations pay for politicians to advocate the elimination of environmental protections under the guise of "job creation," when everybody knows they're only angling to avoid paying for eco-friendly business practices. Then, when their reprehensible excuse for "public safety" fails, they declare bankruptcy so everybody responsible has their ass covered and everybody else gets screwed. Now that's freedom!
• Gilligan! Was sad to learn that Russell Johnson, the guy who played the professor on Gilligan's Island, has died. As the guy who could make a nuclear reactor out of a coconut and two bananas, he was always my favorite castaway...
Smooth sailing, sir.
• Betty! Very happy birthday wishes to Betty White who turned 92 this week!
Still one of my favorite actresses.
And... time to put away my bullets and pack a suitcase.
This morning I started out the same way I begin every Martin Luther King Jr. Day... by listening to his beautiful I Have a Dream speech in its entirety.
Man, did Dr. King know how to inspire with his words. And his actions.
This year I'm seeing more and more people posting great stuff beyond his most famous speech, which is very cool...
Worth your time, all.
And if all that's not enough MLK for you, here's a great time-lapse film of an artist creating a sketch honoring him on this day set aside to remember...
And if celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. has put you in too good of a mood today, no worries. You can always count on Sarah Palin to come along a destroy everything.
I'd usually say something horribly offensive here in response the the utterly insane levels of stupidity that seems to flow endlessly from Sarah Palin's disgusting mouth... but today... today... I'm inspired to be better than that.
After a series of nonsensical delays, I landed in Seattle with less than ten minutes to make my connecting flight. Luckily I arrived at the same terminal as I was departing, and I made it on the plane just as they were closing the door. Looks like I would be getting to San Francisco on time after all... even if my bag wouldn't.
Except... my bag did make it to San Francisco, so many thanks to the Seattle Alaska Airlines ground crew for pulling that off. I wasn't particularly looking forward to having to wash my underwear and socks in the sink at my hotel.
Which is another story entirely.
The hotel I usually stay at in San Francisco didn't have availability for all three nights, so I told the person making the arrangements to please find me a decent hotel nearby, as I was familiar with the neighborhood. And so she did. It's an older hotel, but perfectly fine... clean, comfortable, and safe... which is all I care about.
As I was making my way through the lobby to the check-in desk, a woman barged through and screeched "I'VE GOTTA POOP! DO YOU HAVE A PUBLIC TOILET??!" So now that's my first impression of this hotel, and about the only thing I'll remember if anybody asks me about my stay here.
My day wasn't all horrible flight connections and poop though.
I managed to get the paperwork for my meetings tomorrow, which means I won't be desperately reviewing the material 10 minutes before I walk in the door like I usually do. Hopefully the fact that I'm actually prepared this time won't put me off my game.
When I got back to Poop Toilet Hotel, I got an email telling me that I'd be receiving a royalties check for $17.28 — which is not a lot of money, I know, but it's nice to see a small project I worked on in 1994 is still bringing in the cash!
I also got a notice informing me that I was over-billed by my email service for all of 2013, so I'll be getting 6 months free service posted to my account.
As if that wasn't enough, I also got invited to have Indian cuisine with a friend in town.
And now it's time to catch up on the latest episode of The Blacklist here in my ol' Poop Toilet Hotel room. What more could I ask for?
"I DON"T LIKE SANFRISCO ANY MORE!"
—Kid waiting in line for a cable-car ride this morning.
Much like the side dish made famous as a "San Francisco Treat," I find Sanfrisco delightful. I fall in love with the city all over again every time I'm lucky enough to come here and never pass up on an opportunity to visit... even if it's just for a job.
After breezing though mountains of paperwork and a presentation, I was able to escape for an afternoon of bigtime fun with long-time blogging friend, Jester (right after randomly running into another bloggity friend, Dickie Maxx!).
First it was lunch at Boudin Sourdough (where we both got a slight case of food poisoning?). Then, after neither one of us could think of anything to do, I remembered an ad for "The Walt Disney Family Museum" I had seen yesterday, and away we went.
The museum is a pretty big deal, encompassing three buildings in The Presidio. I never quite figured out what a museum dedicated to the life of Walt Disney is doing in San Francisco, but they couldn't ask for a more beautiful location. The view from the back of the museum's glass panorama wall is great...
Having nothing to do with the mega-corporation that is The Walt Disney Company, the museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to Disney's life, and was founded by his eldest daughter, Diane (who sadly died last November).
Everything about the museum screams "quality," and the numerous displays all look as thought they could have been designed by Disney Imagineers (and who knows, maybe they were!). The lobby features some of the many awards won by Disney, including his Emmy and numerous Oscars...
Walt's early days are explored via audio recordings of Disney himself, which are accompanied by fantastic Monty Python-esque animation screens. Throughout the displays are many photos, letters, and other personal effects which are (as with everything in the museum) beautifully exhibited...
Eventually... inevitably... you get to Mickey Mouse, whose creation is given an entire room. Here begins Disney's many, many innovations when it came to animation, including the way audio was recorded via visual cues. There were no multi-track recorders during those early days, so coming up with the sound for a cartoon was an elaborate affair involving several people working together at the same time. An interactive display shows how it was done...
And, of course there is a nice chunk of Mickey memorabilia...
The animation process is explored thoroughly, and displays include many props... including an original Disney animator's desk and the revolutionary multi-plane camera, which added depth and realistic camera panning...
Animation cels, color tests, production drawings... it's all here...
The section on Disney's war-time contributions is interesting. In addition to anti-Nazi propaganda, Disney artists did all kinds of things to support Allied war efforts... including illustrating pin-ups for the troops, which I did not know. Why children were included in the drawings I can't fathom, but there you have it...
It's not all fun, games, and gratuitous cartoon nudity though... the museum also takes a look at the not-so-nice stuff that Walt went through. Including a cartoonist strike (which Disney attributed to a Communist plot... but wasn't everything back then?)...
And then things get really interesting because... DISNEYLAND!!! Here the museum pulls out all the stops, and leads you through all the planning that went into making the park...
My favorite part of the museum is a relief map of Disneyland... not as it exists, but as Walt Disney had dreamed it would one day be. So much of it is the same as what we ended up with, but very different at the same time. Space Mountain, for example, had the roller coaster on the outside of the structure instead of being a dark ride inside of it. Thunder Mountain Railroad was not the high-speed thrill-ride it turned out to be, but a scenic ride through the American Southwest (and included a ride under a waterfall). It's all just so fascinating. If you're a Disney parks whore like me, you could stare at it for hours...
The museum is a cradle-to-grave experience, and includes a nice video montage retrospective of his life as you exit...
And, no, you don't get to see Walt Disney's cryogenically-preserved body at the end. You do get to see a very nice tribute to one of Walt Disney's favorite artists, the incomparable Mary Blair, if you go down to the restroom level though...
All in all... the museum is worth your valuable time to visit. I had a great time, could have spent the entire day here, and thought it was worth the $20 price of admission because there's just so much... stuff... to see.
Since taxis didn't seem to exist in The Presidio, we decided to try an Uber driver. For those not in the know, "Uber" is an iPhone app that allows you to call a car to your location and have them drive you to your destination. It's pretty cool, because you are given a map with a real-time GPS location of your driver, the driver's name, a car model, license plate number, and an estimated time of arrival. For the budget-conscious, there's an Uber-X service, where you can hire regular people driving their own vehicles to give you a ride. In San Francisco, the price is up to 35% cheaper than hiring a taxi. Needless to say, this is not without controversy. Taxis are regulated... have experienced, knowledgeable drivers... and operate under safety standards dictated by the city. With Uber, you're just getting some dude and their car.
The first diver I tapped was nearby and had an estimated arrival time of four minutes. But, even after calling me, he couldn't figure out how to enter The Presidio and ended up driving all around it trying to find a way to get to us. It was pretty comical watching his GPS location on the map, because he'd drive one way... get frustrated... turn around... drive the other way... get frustrated... turn around... AND EVENTUALLY CANCEL OUR PICK-UP BECAUSE HE COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIND AN ENTRANCE! I was relieved to get the cancelation, because the ETA went from 4 minutes... to 8 minutes... to 12 minutes... and I was going nuts (on the bright side, we got to watch the worst 20-minute parallel parking job EVER).
When I tapped a new driver, he was much more knowledgable on how to get to THIS MAJOR CITY LANDMARK, and picked us up in just five minutes. Nice guy too.
If you want to try Uber for yourself (and live in a city it services) you can get $20 applied to your first ride by using the promo code ba9az (just tap the little "person" icon in the upper-left corner of the FREE Uber App and go to the PROMOTIONS link).
Anyway... Jester and I goofed around the Mission District for a while, and eventually decided to find a tapas bar for dinner. Yelp suggested a tiny little place called Lolo, and off we went...
...to a fantastic meal. Seriously delicious food. The guacamole was flavorful and amazing... the chips super-crispy... the corn with crema was so tasty and sweet it was like candy... the quesadillas unique and mouthwatering... the flaming cauldron of melted cheese was creamy and dangerous*... the berries and mascarpone with honey crumbles was mind-blowing... everything was great, and the service excellent as well. Highest recommendation for Lolo!
*Dangerous because the cheese is kept melted under an open flame and, if you're not careful (like me), you can set your chips on fire!
Thus ends my first day of adventure in Sanfrisco, and how great was that? The kid complaining about the city this morning obviously didn't spend time with Jester, Mickey Mouse, and a flaming cauldron of cheese.
BETTY WHO! And tonight Jester and I got to see her perform LIVE!
Which was the perfect end to my day, even though it's now 1:00am and I'm ready to slip into a coma. Maybe it's because I'm old, but I thought 9:30 was a really late start-time on a work-night to be holding a concert. It was made all the worse when you consider Betty Who didn't even take the stage until 11:45...
She totally lives up to the hype. Her music translates beautifully to a live set. Her performance was energetic, infectious fun and Betty gives 200% to her audience. She has a commitment on stage that equals any "big-name" act I've ever seen...
And that's what made this show so fascinating for me.
I was in Seattle as the grunge scene started to ignite. I saw small bands before they were huge bands. It was a genuine thrill to see these musicians in their early days, watching them work through the kinks, find their footing, and then go on to become these massive success stories.
Betty Who has the same feeling about her.
The sound system at the venue was awful. Weird things were happening with the mix. Betty's earpiece looked to be malfunctioning. The lighting was off. Her backing tape was miscued half the time. But it just didn't matter. Betty Who has the talent and star power to rise above it all. And the audience loved her.
I am genuinely thrilled, again, to see an artist at the beginning of their career. This was the last date on Betty's first tour and her first show ever in San Francisco. You can't help but wonder where she'll be a year from now... five years from now. Opening for P!nk on an arena tour, I'd imagine. She's that good...
Anyway... I had a great time. Though I did have to climb up on a table when I thought I might inadvertently be having sex with the two guys grinding away in front of me. They apparently liked Betty Who's show even more than I did.
Betty promised another EP with new songs will drop this Spring.
Then she stepped into the TARDIS and faded off stage, becoming one with time and space.
If you haven't bought her EP yet, you're missing out. CLICK HERE TO BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!
IT'S TATTOO DAY!
Originally I planned to fly back home today. But the layover for the connecting flight was awful, so I decided to leave tomorrow instead. This meant having to add an extra day to my hotel stay at "The Handlery Hotel" (instead of the Parc 55 Wyndham where I usually stay). When I called, they wanted $160 which was surprisingly high for a Friday night... especially for a 3-star property. Usually downtown San Francisco hotel rates plummet over the weekend when there are no business travelers to gouge on pricing.
A quick check at the 4-star Wyndham (which had availability this time), and I could get a much nicer room for $120.
Which meant The Handlery was basically saying "WE WILL PAY YOU $40 TO WALK TWO BLOCKS!"
And so I took them up on that generous (but very stupid) offer.
Time to get more ink work on my forearm band...
Beautiful line-work courtesy of Michael DeMatty at Black & Blue Tattoo...
I started with the Roman numerals.
Then added a Dharmachakra, the spokes of which represent The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
Now I've surrounded the Dharmachakra with symbology representing The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. You start in the upper-right where there's the acknowledgement that suffering exists, move to the bottom-right which ties our suffering to our desires and craving, move to the bottom-left which is the need for cessation of suffering causation, then move to the upper-left which leads us back to The Noble Eightfold Path and a quest for enlightenment and freedom from suffering.
Which is just a long-winded way of saying that the tattoo is a reminder for me to stay on The Right Path.
And so... three parts down, three to go...
And now I suppose I should pack my suitcase so I don't have to do it at 4:00am tomorrow. Blargh.
I woke up at 3:30am this morning with a feeling of dread over having to leave San Francisco.
Last night Jester invited me to join him and a friend for dinner, and we ended up at a fantastic Turkish restaurant called Troya where I ate entirely too much hummus and falafel. An experience I can't even dream about having back home.
Good times. Hence my reluctance to leave.
About the only thing that kept me going was unwrapping my new tattoo, which turned out even better than I thought it would. I never realized how incomplete it looked before. Which only makes me want to run right back and have more added to it. Or start someplace new. I dunno. I've decided I want something inside my left upper-arm, so maybe that will be my next piece. And even though I wanted some asymmetry going on, now I'm thinking I might like something on my other inside forearm too. Still don't feel like I want to go past my arms... but who knows?
Meanwhile, back at 4:00am...
I don't remember the ride to the airport.
The only thing I recall about my flights was the yogurt parfait they served out of SFO.
I can't even remember how I got home.
I suppose the fact that the entire day's travel is one huge blur is a good thing? Funny it doesn't feel that way. Or maybe I'm just imagining it. Because all I'm feeling now is tired.
Now there's a full year of Bullet Sundays ... because a Very Special THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIFTH edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mac! Happy 30th Birthday to the Macintosh. It's easy to overlook the importance of something when you use it every single day, but I love my Mac more now than I ever have...
If you haven't seen Apple's look back at Mac innovations, it's well worth exploring If I were forced to pick that one year of Macintosh history that was the biggest for me, it would have to be the release of the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001. Not only was it sexy as hell, but it was also the first time I felt I could do everything on a portable that I could do on my desktop Mac.
Here's to 30 more years of kicking ass.
• Truth! The greatest concert I ever saw was Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses tour back in 1988. A close second would be P!nk's Truth About Love tour from last year. Absolutely spectacular. If you didn't get to see it... or just want to see it again... it's been released on video and is for sale at the iTunes Music Store for just $15 and it's worth every penny...
Just an FYI... the tour is actually still ongoing, with three more dates remaining for Anaheim, Fresno, and Las Vegas. If you've got loads of money sitting around, it's worth tracking down tickets for this sold-out show.
• Bernice! Looks like I need to start watching South Beach Tow! Because, BERNICE! How awesome is she?!?
Holy shit! I hope her ObamaCare has kicked in by now... she's got a rough job!
• Unintelligent! I have been recording the new show Intelligence on my DVR, stacking them up in the hopes of discovering another Black List. No joy. This is easily one of the stupidest shows ever to air on television. It's yet another one of those shitty series where the writers are constantly pulling some kind of random techno-bullshit out of their asses not because it makes sense for the story... but because they're too fucking lazy to come up with something... intelligent... for lack of a better word. "HOW ARE WE GOING TO STOP HER? SHE HAS A COMPUTER CHIP IN HER HEAD?" — "I KNOW! LET'S PRESS A BUNCH OF RANDOM BUTTONS AND EXPLOIT SOME HERE-UNTO NON-EXISTENT FLAW IN THE CHIP SO WE CAN HACK HER HEAD AND SAVE THE DAY!" — YEAH! WHO GIVES A SHIT IF WE ARE THE VERY DEFINITION OF DEUS EX MACHINA! IT BEATS HAVING TO USE LOGIC FOR A LIVING! Seriously, I don't understand how this crap-fest ever made it to air.
• LEGO! Just when I think that I couldn't possibly be more excited about the upcoming LEGO movie, this comes along...
"Epic" isn't an epic enough word to describe the epicness of just how epic this movie is gonna be.
And there it is... a year's worth of 365 Bullet Sundays in the can. And you said it wouldn't last. Shame on you!
The iTunes Music Store had the Duncan Jones film Moon on sale for $10 so I snapped it up. In many ways, I consider it to be the 2001 for a new generation... but without all the ambiguity and confusion. It's just really good straightforward "science sci-fi" at its best (a genre that seems to be rapidly disappearing). The entire film is a showpiece for Sam Rockwell, who should have been Oscar nominated for the role of Sam Bell (Sean Penn in Milk was good... but Rockwell's performance in Moon eclipsed it, in my humble opinion). Having Kevin Spacey as the voice of the HAL-inspired GERTY was just the icing on the cake...
I've probably seen the film three times already.
But this was the first time it occurred to me that the scenes outside the moon base make a half-hearted effort to simulate the moon's lesser gravity... but all the scenes inside the moon base take place with full earth gravity.
Now, from an artistic and budgetary standpoint, this makes perfect sense. If Sam were in 1/6th gravity as he was running his scenes, that would be a huge distraction from his performance. Not to mention a very expensive series of special effects shots. And I get that. But now it kind of bothers me when I'm watching the film. Obviously, there's got to be some kind of Star Trek type artificial gravity thing going on... but no mention is made of it. Duncan Jones probably doesn't want to mention it specifically because it would make his serious attempt at science-fiction feel too much like fiction.
But it's there.
And it's to the film's credit that I didn't pay much attention to it until my fourth viewing.
I can pretty much count on it being at the forefront of my mind on my fifth.
"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." —Groucho Marx
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." —Leo Tolstoy from A Confession
"It is very unnerving to be proven wrong, particularly when you are really right and the person who is really wrong is proving you wrong and proving himself, wrongly, right." —Lemony Snicket from The Blank Book
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." —Thomas Sowell
If somebody could just take me off this planet, that would be great.
And so it did occur that snow hath fallen in the amount of six inches upon the glorious plains of Redneckistan.
As somebody who exists with uncovered parking I was not pleased.
As somebody who appreciates having oh... I dunno... WATER, come summertime, I was elated. Though this is most probably too little too late. Even if we were to suddenly get a windfall of snowfall in record-setting amounts, it's going to be a dry summer. Which means drought and wildfires. Again. This was made abundantly clear when I flew back from San Francisco last week. The surrounding mountains, which should have been completely covered in the white stuff... errr... weren't...
This morning I ended up getting stuck in my driveway.
But by noon the sun was shining and the roads were bare.
Then around 4:00 it started snowing again, but lightly.
The forecast for the rest of the week is sunny. For those keeping track... that's one "real" snow for our entire winter. I'm beginning to doubt there will be another one.
On the bright side, I don't have to scrape my car windows in the morning.
"I'm never leaving my house again."
—Everybody who has ever seen a bed bug in their hotel ever.
Back when I was traveling poor and sleeping in hostels (on good days) or train stations (on not-so-good days), I fully expected that I'd eventually wake up to find a spider on my face... or cockroaches in my shoes... or rats in my luggage... or some other infestation nightmare. I took every precaution I could but, when you're lodging on the cheap, there are inevitabilities that you learn to accept.
But I was ridiculously lucky.
With the exception of a minor ant problem once, I don't have any such horror stories to tell.
And once I was making a bit more money and started staying in nice hotels, I never thought I would. Even once a resurgence of bed bugs was being reported. "Surely that won't apply to me and my four-star hotel!" I'd say to myself.
Except I was living in a dream world and it was only a matter of time before everything came crashing down.
So when, at long last, I finally awoke to find two bed bugs crawling on my comforter, I was anything but shocked. My astounding run of luck had come to an end and nothing more. It was a horrifying wake-up call, and I tried to be grateful I wasn't bitten, but it's not like freaking out about it will do any good.
And that's when you start combing the internet to find out what to do.
Only to find out that any hotel can get infested with bed bugs regardless of how much money you pay. Even worse, no hotel is really immune from being infested because there's simply no way to avoid the problem when you've got a steady stream of people passing through your doors... any one of which could be bringing unwanted guests with them.
So this is my new reality...
The good news is that I found no evidence of bedbugs after baking all my stuff. But I regret nothing. Not the $350 I spent in bed bug defense. Not the extra time and effort it took to be cautious. Not the paranoia in going above and beyond in making sure I'm not unleashing an infestation in my home.
Because the alternative... having to get rid of bed bugs when they're so notoriously difficult to get rid of... is so much worse.
Better safe than sorry and all that.
And if you do any traveling? Better protect yourself. It's only a matter of time.
It's the Year of the Horse!
Or, to be more accurate, it's the year of the WOOD HORSE. Apparently, this is supposed to be a good year for me since I was born in the year of the FIRE HORSE and there's some kind of compatibility thing there. I'm not one to place a lot of faith in astrology, numerology, and all that stuff... but I admit that the Chinese zodiac has shown some eerie coincidences over the years...
While mostly associated with being outgoing and successful, Fire Horses are also considered to be harbingers of rebellion and destruction. This is apparently a good thing for a men but a horrific prospect for women and, historically, baby girls were at risk for infanticide because of the doom and gloom they would bring upon a family (including an early death for her father). Fortunately for everybody, Halle Berry and Janet Jackson were allowed to live anyway.
Luckily, girls born in the year of the Wood Horse fare much better... being known for their dedication, creativity, and patience.
Still... probably not a good year for Trojans though.