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The Horror

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Dave!Halloween is one of those holidays that I've been able to safely ignore for the past two decades. I don't have kids to take trick-or-treating, I haven't attended a Halloween party in years, and the neighborhood I used to live in never had trick-or-treaters stopping by. Sure I'd buy candy just in case... but the only person eating any of it was me.

All that changed when I moved into my new neighborhood. Which actually used to be my old neighborhood.

What's also changed? Kids with restrictive diets. Can't have peanuts. Allergic to gluten. Will die if they consume artificial colors. That kind of thing. So in addition to KitKats and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I also purchased "Yum Earth Fruit Snacks" that were naturally flavored, no synthetic colors, certified organic, gluten-free, fat-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, vegan, no soy, no egg, non-GMO, no dairy, no high fructose corn syrup, and no animal products. I figured that would cover all my bases. Last year I bought toys for kids that couldn't eat candies, but lost them in the move. Thus my Teal Pumpkin Project banner didn't get put out this year. I'll be sure I'm better prepared next Halloween... even though I've never had a single taker. Probably because I never had any trick-or-treaters.

Apple's new not-pro pro MacBook laptop

Anyway, my 2016 Halloween in bullets...

  • Only ended up getting the 50-60 kids I was anticipating instead of the 120-130 I was told would appear in my new (old) neighborhood. More candy for me!
  • Pleasantly surprised that so many of the costumes had some effort put into them. The creativity made for an entertaining night.
  • A fairly young kid showed up as Deadpool... a movie (or comic) he probably should not have seen at his age, but must have? Disconcerting.
  • The cats may not have appreciated the "spooky ghost" ringtone on my Ring doorbell, but the kids sure did! Quite a few of them remarked that it was "cool."
  • Most of the kids... over half... picked the "healthy" treat I got for kids with allergies and stuff. This was unexpected, but not unwelcome. I've got tons of REAL candy left over!
  • At least half of the kids never said "Trick or Treat"... most did say "Thank you," however.
  • Most all of the kids were accompanied by parents. In this day-and-age, you can bet your ass I wouldn't let my kids out alone on Halloween... no matter how old they were.
  • My kitchen is at the front of the house, so to avoid running back and forth between the door and my living room, I decided to stay in the kitchen and clean it. A lot of work, but oh so nice. Still don't know how to clean my glass range-top completely. Even with Soft-Scrub and a Scotch-Brite pad, there are still spots that won't come clean.
  • I had my last microwave for at least 15 years. Built like a tank and a dream to clean. The only reason I got rid of it was because I bought a built-in for my new place. While cleaning it, I was shocked at how cheap it's constructed considering the rather hefty price I paid. The interior is lined with thin metal that bends every time I apply even slight pressure.
  • When I moved here, I just took everything that was under the kitchen sink at my old place and transferred it. Tonight I actually went through everything. Shocked that I ended up tossing out 3/4 of it all that was either expired/dead or completely unneeded.
  • Jenny now gives zero fucks as to what areas of the house I feel she isn't allowed (i.e. the kitchen). While cleaning, she pounced right up on the countertop and came to see what I was doing. Jake will follow her example, I'm sure.
  • Because of this, I am immensely relieved that both cats are still terrified of everybody but me. There was no chance of them running out the door, because every time somebody arrived they were high-tailing it upstairs.
  • I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer, bread maker, Cuisinart, gelato maker, and blender. None of them have been used since I moved here. This needs to change. I used to love making fresh bread and other baked goods.
  • The only thing I didn't clean was the oven interior. It has a really cool "Slow Steam Automated Cleaning" feature, but I can't find the instruction book to know how to use it. Looks like I'll be hunting the manual down this weekend.
  • After not having trick-or-treaters for the past 20 years, the evening wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be!

And now I'll be over here eating Halloween candy and trying not to go into a sugar coma.

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Cat Catchup: Kittens

Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Dave!It's tough coming back from my self-imposed blog sabbatical and know what to talk about. Much of what took me away from blogging is a personal matter and won't be discussed here. Sure, there were other things going on, but it's all become a blur that I'm probably better off not revisiting. There are exceptions, however.

The biggest one being my cats, so let's get caught up on that in PART ONE of a THREE PART SERIES, shall we?

First of all, they're doing great. Jenny has become a pretty, petite young lady...

Jenny!

Jenny!

And Jake... well... Jake is still Jake, just a little more grown up...

Jake!

Jake!

He still spends a lot of time laying spread eagle for some reason...

Jake!

Jake!

The siblings still adore each other...

Jake and Jenny!

And do most everything together...

Jake and Jenny!

Jake and Jenny!

Even more important than that, they have become more and more comfortable hanging out with me. At one time I was afraid they'd never even let me touch them... now they've turned into cuddle buddies that can't get enough petting...

Jake!

Jenny!

Jake!

Jenny!

Jake!

Rescuing two feral kittens has turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. I love them more than I could love just about anything.

Now if I can just keep away from the Humane Society so I avoid adopting ten more of them.

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Cat Catchup: Catio

Posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Dave!Hey! This is PART TWO of THREE PARTS updating everybody about my cats.

Way back in April, I mentioned that I was planning on building a "catio" (cat patio enclosure) so Jake and Jenny could go outside while still being safe. My original intent was to design and build it myself, but work got so busy that I ended up hiring a contractor to build the exterior part plans I made, then I could build the interior pieces myself as time permitted..

Catio Building

Catio Plans!

Catio Building

After a few days, it was time to unleash the kittehs!

Catio Building

Catio Building

Catio Building

The cat outside is named "Fake Jake." That's because when my brother was cat-sitting, he thought she was Jake and brought her inside. Hilarity ensued. Fake Jake is kind of crazy-aggressive, and likes to terrorize my cats from time to time...

Fake Jake Terror!

Fake Jake Terror!

Fake Jake Terror!

The contractor ended up putting in four window panels instead of the three I had drawn up in my plans for some reason. This meant having to change my concept for the inside shelves, but it all worked out in the end. I made them to have removable panels so I could use heat-trapping rubber-backed mats in winter to keep them warm... and a mesh floor in summer to keep them cool...

Catio Building

Catio Building

Catio Building

Going from three panel windows to four meant that I didn't have room for a ramp to the top shelf. Instead I devised a narrow "catwalk" that would allow Jake and Jenny to navigate the upper-level and have a shelf to be able to see out of the narrow end...

Catio Building

Catio Building

The finished shelving...

Catio Building

Pretty nifty, huh? Needless to say... a ton of work. But a good project for a novice woodworker because I learned a lot. I also discovered the joys of owning a pneumatic brad nailer, which is about the handiest thing for light construction projects you can imagine.

But the best part of it all?

The cats love their catio.

They are out there all the time...

Catio Building

Catio Building

In the Spring I'll start PHASE 2 of construction, which includes adding a ramp next to the house... adding a log climber in the narrow end... adding a cat-ladder on the opposite narrow end... putting in a cat grass tray... and tiling the floor.

Something fun to look forward to!

And About Those Cubs...

When the Red Sox finally broke their "curse" in 2004, I was on a cruise ship. I was wearing my Boston jersey the whole time, and kept running into a couple who were also wearing Red Sox jerseys... we'd give a "GO BOSTON" wave whenever we passed. The final game of the series was a "sea day" and I remember sitting in a bar on the starboard side of the ship watching the game. When the Red Sox won, I let out a yell and heard another yell coming from the port side. I ran to the banister to look across, and the couple I kept running into did the same. We were yelling across the ship and waving our arms like crazy people. Heck, we WERE crazy people. It was kind of a special way to celebrate a win that some Red Sox fans had waited 86 years... a lifetime, really... to see. So, if it couldn't be Boston, I'm happy for the Cubbies winning the World Series after waiting 108 years! Congrats to the team and all their fans!

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Cat Catchup: Automated

Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2016

Dave!Hey! This is PART THREE of THREE PARTS updating everybody about my cats.

While I love Jake and Jenny and wouldn't trade them for the world, there's one small problem that becomes a big problem when it comes to them allowing me to have them live with me. And that would be when I'm not at home. Travel is something I cannot avoid, which means there are stretches of time that food won't be put out and litter boxes won't be cleaned.

The easiest solution is to have a friend or neighbor drop by twice a day to take care of things. But it's kind of a burdensome thing to have to ask somebody. And so I went looking for automated solutions that would cover me for short trips away. Longer trips would still require a cat-sitter, but those are far and few between.

The first thing I looked at was an automated feeder.

There are "gravity feeders" that are basically a never-ending buffet of food that keeps replenishing itself until it runs out of kibble. This would be problematic for Jake, because he would eat and eat and eat all day long. They also have gravity feeders that are portion-controlled and timer-driven... but when I bought one for Spanky at my old place, it would clog up and a neighbor had to keep checking on it. I wanted something that wouldn't jam and also allow me to verify that the feeding took place.

Enter the Feed-and-Go automated, web-enabled pet feeder...

I bought two. They work flawlessly. There are six compartments that rotate through the feeding window. That means you have five days (in addition the day you leave) to be gone with once-a-day feedings. If I'm gone for three days or less, I put half-portions in the cavities and set it up for twice-a-day feedings so there's some variety. I had concerns as to what happens if the internet goes down... but each feeder stores a schedule locally, so it's all good. Pricey as hell... but good.

FEED-AND-GO SMART PET FEEDER: $199 from Amazon.

   
But what about the litter box?

I did a lot... and I mean a lot... of research. But every time I read the reviews on those litter trays that essentially drag a rake through the kitty litter to clean the box, there were always horror stories. Rakes getting jammed. Rakes getting clogged with poop. Rakes bending out of shape if two clumps of pee were fused together or if a clump fused to the bottom of the tray. They just didn't seem very reliable.

And then I came across the Litter Robot...

This thing is frickin' magic.

Because it uses gravity to do its dirty work, there's no rake to clog or break. The bottom floor of the unit is a flexible rubber sheet that pops out of place as the dome rotates, so even if a clump gets fused to the bottom, it's still getting cleaned out. I had some problems with the weight sensor at first... but after dumping the litter and re-calibrating, Litter Robot has been operating flawlessly ever since.

And my cats love the thing. They took to it immediately. All I had to do was put the Litter Robot in the same spot where the old litter tray was located, and boom goes the dynamite. Which was a pleasant surprise, because they are generally fearful of entering a space where they can't see a way out. I was more than a little worried that they would be too afraid to jump in. But, hooray, that was not the case. I have two other litter boxes in the house. I took one out, but left the the one upstairs so there's a box on each floor. They hardly ever use it, preferring to go downstairs so they can use the Litter Robot instead. I guess they like the privacy of the dome... and the fact that the box is always clean and ready to go.

The best part? Even with two cats, it only needs to be cleaned every five to six days. In other words, its schedule is the same as my Feed-and-Go pet feeder! Changing out the bag is easy, and I always dump in a Red Solo Cup of fresh kitty litter to replace the litter that was clumped and removed. So far, the litter inside looks like its staying clean. But, for sanitary reasons, I'll probably replace it anyway every two to three months.

The not so best part? Magic comes at a price.

I bought the larger "Open Air" model to accommodate my cats' claustrophobia. It's also the most expensive model (which I recommend it because I think it's how a cat would be most comfortable). So prepare to chop off an arm and a leg. But... damn... I could never... and I mean never go back to scooping out a litter box again. This product is just too perfect. I recommend buying direct from the manufacturer because you get free shipping and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

LITTER ROBOT OPEN AIR: $449 from Auto-Pets.

Jenny and Litter Robot

   
After I ended up being so thrilled with the Litter Robot, I ordered a few accessories. First was the Litter Robot Ramp, which will make it easier for the cats to reach the box when they're older ($50 from Auto-Pets)... next was the Litter Robot Fence, which helps keep the kitty litter in the box (and should come with the unit instead of being an add-on ($25 from Auto-Pets). And, of course, you'll need replacement drawer-liner bags ($50 per 100 bags from Auto-Pets). You can use any clumping litter in the Litter Robot, and I top off with Arm & Hammer brand litter because it's always on sale at Safeway. But I ended up buying the "official" Litter Robot litter too, as it comes pre-measured to perfectly fill the tray when starting out or when replacing old litter. Pricey, but very convenient ($46 for two, 10-lb. bags from Auto-Pets).

   
And there you have it. An automated solution that can cover my being gone for up to five days! It ran me around $1000 for both Feed-and-Go feeders, the Litter Robot, and Litter Robot accessories... but that's a small price to pay for the peace of mind I get when having to leave my Jake and Jenny at home alone. Luckily I already had security cameras installed so I can check in on them as well.

And did I mention that the Litter Robot is frickin' magic?

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No… God, No… Please Save Us…

Posted on Saturday, November 5th, 2016

Dave!I was tempted to resume blogging after Election Day so I wouldn't have to comment on the dumpster fire that is the United States presidential race... but here we are.

I would like to say that my feelings towards the candidates are nuanced, complex, and well-formed, but that's not the case. I loathe all the candidates... I especially loathe the Republican and Democrat candidates... and knowing that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be my president makes me want to vomit until I die.

My disdain of Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with all the idiotic rhetoric over current or past scandals, or her moronic email missteps, or her husband's indiscretions (?), or even Benghazi (of which a Republican-lead committee found no wrongdoing by Clinton). The simple truth is that Republicans have spent millions upon millions of dollars trying to hang her with something, but nothing ever sticks. Probably because Hillary Clinton is no more or less guilty of the crap that usually goes on with our corrupt politicians. So whatevs.

No no... my problems with Clinton have to do with actual stuff she's done as opposed to all the crazy accusations that plague her. And while there's a lot of examples I could provide, I'm going to limit myself to the two that boggle my mind most because they are almost never brought up.

  • War on Violent Video Games. You think Donald Trump can become unhinged? Turn the clock back to 2005 and the absurd level of hysteria that Hillary Clinton came up with in her quest to ban violent video games (which I'm guessing was an effort pander to Right-leaning voters). At first blush, it was an admirable effort to protect kids from mature material they were too young to process and give parents the tools they need to determine if the games they buy for their kids contained this material. Except her "Family Entertainment Protection Act" was more like a full-out, unconstitutional assault on artistic expression. Instead of ESRB ratings being a guide, they would be retooled to become law, and severe penalties would be levied against anyone who defied them. So, basically, you have a government entity dictating what they deem to be "age-acceptable" material to a private entity, whose findings would then be used by a government entity to enforce the law. What could possibly go wrong? Ultimately everything was so draconian and vague that developers would be discouraged from making "violent" video games just as retailers would be discouraged from selling them. The fact that Clinton is willing to drift into this level of anti-freedom censorship and make it become law (as a pandering measure!) is a deal-breaker for me.
  • Destabilizing the Middle East. If you consider my concern over video game censorship to be "petty" or even "alarmist" then there's something much bigger on my radar. Hillary Clinton is a total warhawk. Her actions as Secretary of State are reprehensible in this regard... particularly when it comes to Libya, a country her policy has decimated. Rather than retread on an area that was written about better than I could ever do, here's an article I highly recommend: Even critics understate how catastrophically bad the Hillary Clinton-led NATO bombing of Libya was. If you consider my condemnation of this kind of horrific "leadership" to be petty and alarmist, then there's absolutely nothing I can say to caution you against a Hillary Clinton presidency. Cast your vote with confidence.

And then there's this fucking asshole...

Toxic Cheeto Jesus
Photo credited to Newsweek/Photographer unknown

If the prospect of a Clinton 2.0 presidency is something that makes my stomach churn... the prospect of a Trump presidency has me borderline-suicidal.

Forget that he is a horrible businessman who regularly cheats hard-working people out of their livelihood to make a buck. Forget that he is a notorious liar whose dishonesty is so massive in scope and count that he makes Hillary Clinton look like a choirboy. Forget that he a vile excuse for a human being who gets off on demeaning others. Forget that he changes his mind on major issues at the drop of a hat and has no real plan for anything he promises (much of which is impractically impossible). Donald Trump is a racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted piece of shit. And electing Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. And that doesn't even address the embarrassment factor of having this ridiculous buffoon representing Americans on the global stage. You think we were the laughing stock of the planet during the Bush years? Try 1400+ days of Toxic Cheeto Jesus.

"President Trump" is the stuff of nightmares and goes against everything this country was built to be. So when I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, a person I pretty much despise, it's not because I am "voting for the lesser of two evils"... it's because I am voting against the Ultimate Evil.

The United States of America cannot survive Donald Trump as leader of the free world.

But it may have to. For we are a nation not of the people, but of the Electoral College...

This map is an average of projections showing how each state is expected to vote. Blue States are for Hillary Clinton, Red States are for Fuckface von Clownstick. Note that any flip from blue to red of 5 electoral votes or more spells Trumpageddon. That's not a lot of wiggle-room. New Mexico decides they want fascist America, and that's what we are. One nation under Drumpf.

And so...

Brace yourself. I am of the opinion that no matter who wins, we all lose.

It's just a matter of how big.

   

Bullet Sunday 480

Posted on Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Dave!SUNDAY BEGAT SUNDAY AND SUNDAY IS SUNDAY, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Butter. A friend of a friend closed his restaurant last December. A while back he was asked if he would share some of his favorite recipes and he did. Then somebody asked him how in the heck he made his burgers taste so good. His answer? "Butter and salt." Saturate the buns in butter before grilling them. Just before flipping, salt and pepper the patty (his restaurant had a touch of garlic powder in the mix) then flip and add more salt. Sodium nightmare? Yes. But restaurants don't have to post Nutrition Facts, so that's how he made his burgers taste great. Tonight I gave it a try with my Boca Burger patties. *AMAZING* The abundance of butter and salt totally takes them to the next level. High blood pressure, here I come!

   
• Voter. Just sayin'...

Why American's aren't rioting in the streets for an end to our fucked-up two-party system I will never know.

   
• Wierd World. Oh Lord, Really? Pat Robertson's crazy shit is hilarious, yes, but there are people who actually believe the words he's saying! I mean, the gays are going to force me to like bestiality? BUT I DON'T WANT TO FUCK A GOAT!!! THANKS, THE GAYS!!!

This guy is bat-shit crazy. Genuinely certifiable. Scary insane.

   
• OH IT IS ON! Heinz starts making yellow mustard... SO NOW FRENCH'S IS MAKING KETCHUP! =BOOM!=

French's Ketchup and Heinz Mustard

Which one is making mayonnaise next? And will Hellman's start making ketchup and yellow mustard of their own in retalliation?

   
• Dipshit Pie! Trae Crowder has become one of my favorite vloggers. His unique take on politics is comedy gold, and this was one of my favorites these past months...

Oh noooo.... where are we going to get our meth and pontoon boats?

   
• DNCE. While I was on sabbatical, I got hooked on DNCE's album Swaay for my "Album of the Summer." Their first video, Cake By The Ocean was catchy as hell and I was instantly addicted...

When they released their next video for Toothbrush, I was baffled by people calling lead singer Joe Jonas "brave" and "progressive" for featuring a plus-size model. IT'S ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM!!! She's one of the hottest women on the planet! I mean, seriously, there are guys who would take a look at ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM and say "No thank you?" It's not like he put a regular human woman in his video... IT'S ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM! Oh how brave of him! He was progressive enough to make out with ASHLEY FUCKING GRAHAM in his video! Give me a break.

The last video was for Body Moves, which was another catchy, high-energy track...

I have no idea if this was just a side-project for Joe Jonas or what. It will be interesting to see if the band stays together for another album. I sure hope so.

   
And... as good as it feels to be shootin' bullets again, this here Bullet Sunday is at an end.

   

You Know You Want It

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2016

Dave!Remember... you can always vote fourth party tomorrow...

BUT NOBODY CARES

   

Now just please let the madness end.

   

Worst Case Scenario

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Dave!I wish I could say I'm surprised.

Even when Hillary Clinton was projected to win by a comfortable margin, I was cautious. The people who made a difference this election were not the people who pollsters pay attention to. President Trump spoke to a large chunk of the population who feel that their values and way of life are fading away, and they are so desperate to hang on to all they hold dear that they elected the candidate that promised them the world. Even though deep down they know that many of those promises will never happen.

And, as I've said more than once, the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves.

They could have run just about anybody against Trump and won. But they picked a career politician drowning in scandal (real or imagined) who many, many people do not like and would never vote for. You can play up her lifetime of community service... her experience... her famous friends... her popularity with the younger generation... whatever... in the end there are just too many people who don't care about any of it. They are "Never Hillary Voters"... and, apparently, a large enough number of those were casting votes for Democrats in previous elections. This time they sat out, went Trump, or voted third party candidates to grave effect. Sadly, some of those were undoubtedly "Never Hillary Voters" because she was a woman (as difficult as that may be to accept). I am hopeful that wasn't a deciding factor but, make no mistake, it was a factor. I am convinced that a woman candidate could have won against Trump... but this woman was always a gamble.

And, just to be fair, I would have said the Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves if they had lost. Ironically, both parties picked candidates that could only lose against each other.

And soooooo... what's the worst-case scenario that comes from electing President Trump?

The Supreme Court Goes Hard Conservative. This is probably the biggest change for the USA. It is very likely that, in addition to the open seat that's there now, another seat or two will go to a Conservative judge. The ramifications are vast. Abortion will most certainly be made illegal. Money equated to "free speech" will become even more entrenched, meaning even more money in politics. Same-sex marriage and other LGBT protections could be overturned. It's likely that women's rights will take a hit. And what progress we've made in opening up voter's rights will be buried (disenfranchising voters and making it more and more difficult for anybody but Republicans to get elected). This could be a very different country four years from now... and since Supreme Court appointments are a lifetime deal, it's not something that ends when the Trump presidency ends.

Health Care Dismantled. Since Trump was so vague when it comes to his plans for replacing The Affordable Car Act, it's tough to know exactly what's going to happen here. It's likely that a lot of people living in poverty will lose any option they might have for health insurance. Could denials for preexisting conditions come back? Yep. Could lifetime limits in coverage come back? Yep. Even if you get your health care from your employer, you may be in for some shocking changes as insurance companies, free from restraint, attempt to squeeze even more profits out of the people they insure. We've been promised that competition will make for cheaper rates. But collusion between insurance companies makes this seem unlikely, because there is money to be made... lots and lots of money. Why compete when you can work together to screw everybody over and get rich? Past precedence has shown that the insurance lobby is a ruthless force in government. And now there will be nothing to stop them.

Medicare Dismantled. It's hard to know which system Republicans hate more... Social Security or Medicare. If they end up still existing at all, it's likely they will take a very different form once they've been filtered through a Republican gauntlet. My guess is that Social Security will be given some thought because the elderly are a huge voting block that Republicans can't afford to lose. And that's assuming the funding can be found with all the tax cuts Trump has promised. But Medicare? The system gains Republicans almost nothing. It will be privatized as quickly as possible. Which is to say it will die a slow death because there's not enough money in it to make it worthwhile. Whatever you do... don't be poor, unlucky, and unhealthy in America.

World on Fire. Given Trump's disparaging statements towards Muslims (specifically) and persons of foreign nations (in general), there's bound to be an escalation of hatred towards us. This will have disastrous results when it comes to galvanizing terrorists to attack The United States. Foreign relations will likely suffer as well... even when it comes to nations we're friendly with. Contrary to what Trump has been telling us, our standing in the world has taken a dramatic, unfathomable notch downward. Several notches. That's what happens when you shelve diplomacy and cooperation all in the name of "winning." The long-term consequences of this country being seen as a global bully are incalculable. Our allies in Muslim countries may no longer be allies, and that alone is a very scary thought.

A Nation of Bullies. As I said three days ago, electing Donald Trump is the equivalent of hanging a giant banner outside the country advertising the fact that we're a nation of racist, homophobic, misogynistic, foreigner-bashing, non-Christian-hating, ignorant, unstable, narcissistic, intolerant, bigoted pieces of shit. I honestly believe that. And so will the people empowered by the fact that our president embodies all those traits. I genuinely fear for anybody who's not a white, straight, Christian male in this country. Depending on where you are and who you are, your very life could be in danger (or in even more danger). Which means we're all in danger. Electing Trump is like igniting a powder keg that will blow us even further apart as a country. And we have nobody to blame but ourselves. I have no idea what Trump means when he says he's going to "bring law and order to this country," but it may very well mean martial law. For our own protection. From ourselves.

Big Issues That Never Made It to The Debates. And then there's all the stuff that Republicans have been battling over the year for which victory is now possible. I'm a firm believer that Net Neutrality will be killed off in short order. The ramifications of which are absolutely terrifying for a free and open internet. Environmental protections are going right out the window in favor of big business interests. Which means battling climate change isn't even going to be on the radar (it's just a hoax invented by the Chinese anyway, right?). The list goes on and on. I'm betting there are a lot of things that we never imagined being affected that are affected. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I just don't know. My guess is that it's a very bad thing in most cases. If wealthy people are in control of this country now, they will own this country come January. What they'll do with their new property is anybody's guess. But, unless you are one of them, odds are it's not going to favor you.

The Great Unknown. Will Trump, in fact, have Hillary Clinton jailed? Is he in league with Russia? What happens to all the lawsuits against him? And what about that wall he's going to build on our Mexican border? There are so many unknowns when it comes to President Trump that it's impossible to say what's going to happen.

   
And the best-case scenario for President Trump? The United States of America endures.

   

President Trump and Worry

Posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Dave!There are people I know who were so invested in the Clinton campaign... so certain of victory... that I am more than a little worried about their reaction to last night's election results. As you might guess, I am not so much upset by a Hillary Clinton loss as I am horrified by a Donald Trump victory. She was never my candidate. I never wanted Hillary Clinton as my president. But I was compelled to vote for her to prevent what's happening from happening.

Alas...

So where do we go from here?

President Elect Trump by word or by deed has painted himself to be a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, and an all-around asshole.

That's a huge problem.

Electing Donald Trump sends a number of messages that have me fearful for my country. I honestly believe that some dear friends of mine are less safe now than they were yesterday. My gay friends. My Muslim friends. My poor friends. My Black friends. My Hispanic friends. My women friends. I worry about them. Which in turn makes me worry about all my friends, because we are all interconnected in a very real way.

And I'm worried about myself. I'm not a Christian. Is that going to be a problem for me? I have no illusion that the forthcoming legislation supporting "religious freedom" is a Christians-only club. What is that going to mean? I'm not gay but there are people that think I'm gay. Is that going to be a problem for me? The hatred and violence seen in some Trump supporters makes me wonder. This win for Trump has certainly given strength to the more dangerous elements of our society.

And so I worry.

I'm guessing I'll worry a lot over the coming days.

And I'm a straight, white, male!

That's not even the worst of it. For everything that Trump is and as worried as his presidency might make me... it's the fact that Mike Pence is one heartbeat away from The Oval Office that puts me in a full-blown panic. He is scary on a level that I can't even wrap my head around.

Seriously... Google that shit.

If you pray, pray for the health and safety of President Trump while he's in office.

You might also want to pray that President Trump finds the wisdom, the compassion, the patience, and the sanity to govern us well.

That would be great because I'd really like one less thing to worry about.

   

That Fizzy Purple Stuff

Posted on Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Dave!I bought a 2-liter bottle of grape soda at the store today because it sounded good when I saw it on the shelf. And it's purple. And it was on sale for 88¢. I fully expected that I'd drink one glass of the stuff then toss the rest out. Things like this usually don't live up to expectations and often taste a lot worse than your brain is telling you they do. Except... turns out I'm really digging it. I never knew that grape soda was something I've been missing in my life.

And suddenly I'm reminded that the US vernacular I'm using won't make sense to some people. Even people here in Washington State, since the word "soda" is a California/Northeast thing.

So here's for you, West and Mid-Westerners...

I bought a 2-liter bottle of grape pop at the store today because it sounded good when I saw it on the shelf. And it's purple. And it was on sale for 88¢. I fully expected that I'd drink one glass of the stuff then toss the rest out. Things like this usually don't live up to expectations and often taste a lot worse than your brain is telling you they do. Except... turns out I'm really digging it. I never knew that grape pop was something I've been missing in my life.

And here's for you, Southerners...

I bought a 2-liter bottle of grape Coke at the store today because it sounded good when I saw it on the shelf. And it's purple. And it was on sale for 88¢. I fully expected that I'd drink one glass of the stuff then toss the rest out. Things like this usually don't live up to expectations and often taste a lot worse than your brain is telling you they do. Except... turns out I'm really digging it. I never knew that grape Coke was something I've been missing in my life.

And here's for you, Judgmental Pricks That Like To Point Out To Everybody That Everything They Like Is Bad For Them...

I bought a 2-liter bottle of grape CARBONATED DEATH at the store today because it sounded good when I saw it on the shelf. And it's purple. And it was on sale for 88¢. I fully expected that I'd drink one glass of the stuff then toss the rest out. Things like this usually don't live up to expectations and often taste a lot worse than your brain is telling you they do. Except... turns out I'm really digging it. I never knew that grape CARBONATED DEATH was something I've been missing in my life.

And... you're welcome.

This post ended up being a lot more work to write than I thought it would.

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Veterans Day Thanks

Posted on Friday, November 11th, 2016

Dave!This country doesn't treat their veterans as well as it should. It's been true for a very, very long time. President Obama made some nice progress when it comes to taking care of those who take care of us, but there's still a long ways to go. What will happen under President Trump is anybody's guess, but here's hoping he lives up to at least some of the promises he's made to the men and women who have served this country.

Thanks to everybody who has put their blood, sweat, and tears into defending this great nation... today and every day.

DAVETOON: Soldiers
(Apologies to the Coast Guard. You'd think I'd draw that up after all these years)

   
If you'd like to show your thanks and have a few bucks to spare, may I suggest a donation to Stop Soldier Suicide? This is a wonderful organization trying to stem the tide of the horrific number of suicides that plague those who serve or have served in our military.

And if you're a veteran who finds themselves in crisis, please don't face it alone. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255. There are people who want to help.

   

Caturday 7

Posted on Saturday, November 12th, 2016

Dave!My cats are not adapting well to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Jake and Jenny have an internal clock that is eerily accurate. Plus or minus ten minutes, they will let you know when it's feeding time. So when you change a clock that conflicts with their internal timing, they just don't give a shit. Which means now they are wanting food at 6am instead of 7am and 5pm instead of 6pm. This despite my best efforts to gradually shift them an hour later.

My refusal to give in to their demands (as logical as they may be) has resulted in acts of civil disobedience.

And outright theft.

This morning, after having the cats hop on my bed at 6:05 wondering why the hell I haven't fed them yet, I came downstairs to see this...

The cats have been in the pantry...

One of the cats (I KNOW IT WAS YOU, JAKE!!!) went into the kitchen where they know they're not supposed to be, opened the cupboard where they know the cat food is kept, then dragged out a bag of cat treats they know they're not supposed to have, and ultimately had to give up because they apparently don't know you need opposable thumbs to open the zipper lock.

Let's go to the security cameras, shall we?

I KNEW IT WAS YOU, JAKE!

I cut out the five minutes he spent rummaging around in the cupboard. Note how Jenny is being a good girl by staying out of the kitchen and observing from afar. She could have come up tattled on her brother, but I'm rather glad she didn't seeing as how the attempted theft took place at midnight.

Well, what can you do?

Because cats.

I tell you what... if President Obama wants to do something great before leaving office that would help unify the country... he could make the next Daylight Savings Time be permanent. No more dicking with the clocks while we have the Trump Administration dicking with our freedoms.

Just a thought.

If nothing else, he'd have the gratitude of pet owners from sea to shining sea.

   

Bullet Sunday 481

Posted on Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Dave!Hold on to your freedoms, fellow Americans, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

Here's my favorite reaction videos to the US Presidential Election. All of them were chosen carefully and each one is worth your valuable time to watch. But if you just want to go for the jugular, skip down to Jonathan Pie.

   
• Russell Brand. The title of this video is a bit misleading. This is actually quite insightful and more introspective than reactionary...

Indeed.

   
• Dave Chappell. God I've missed Chappelle...

I hope this truly is a comeback. We need his voice and his humor in the world... now more than ever.

   
• Samantha Bee. Still one of my favorite commentators on television...

Anybody who thinks a woman can't be funny... anybody who thinks a woman can't bring it... anybody who thinks a woman shouldn't be given a political soapbox... well, you can shut the fuck up now.

   
• Jonathan Pie. And then there's this bit of ass-kicking...

So much agreement. If only Democrats had this kind of clarity.

   
• John Oliver. And the one I've been waiting for...

Which pretty much sums it all up.

   
• And Because It Can't ALL Be Shitty. This may very well be the closest we ever get to The Fifth Element 2...

Nice! Though, oh man would I love to revisit The Fifth Element universe one more time.

   
And, speaking of time, mine has run out. See you after the anarchy begins.

   

Developers Developers Developers

Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2016

Dave!Apple deleted my AskDave! app.

I haven't been able to get ahold of the guy who helped me develop it for years, so I guess it's gone gone gone. Who knows though, perhaps one day when I have some spare time (ha ha ha!) I'll take up iPhone app development and re-do it so it is acceptable to Apple's latest standards.

Until then... a moment of silence for the passing of an app never truly appreciated in its time...

Six times the Dave, now pocket-sized.

If you have it one your phone, it still seems to work okay. Just don't delete it or you may not ever see it again.

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Ultra Mega Super

Posted on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Dave!Last night was Ultra Mega Super Moon night. As usual when celestial events are going on here, it was rainy and overcast. Fortunately, I can still bask in the glory of last year's Regular Super Moon that happened on a rare clear night.

Today was more of the same. I've been buried in work and struggling to see daylight just as I was struggling to see the moon last night.

And speaking of things I long to see... have you seen the trailers for Moana? Some of the most gorgeous computer animation I've ever seen. There have been several clips released already, all of them jaw-droppingly beautiful...

The hair dynamics are beyond amazing...

And THE WATER!!! HOLY CATS!

It doesn't hurt that it looks funny as all getout...

And it's got a chicken in it...

Moana is in theaters on November 23rd.

   

Winter is Coming

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Dave!When I woke up this morning I immediately grabbed my laptop so I could take a look at the weather in the mountains. Last night the forecast was for snow, and I didn't know if this would affect my trip over the mountain passes.

The top of the pass webcam was completely obliterated by snow...

Stevens Pass Mountain Camera.

Fortunately, the drive over wasn't bad at all. The roads were bare and wet and no trouble to drive on...

Stevens Pass Road.

Stevens Pass Road.

Stevens Pass Road.

Stevens Pass Road.

Here's hoping I have this kind of luck for the drive back.

   

Mister Doctor Strange

Posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Dave!One of the first things on my agenda while in San Francisco was to see Doctor Strange in IMAX 3D. Apparently it's filled with trippy visuals that make this the only acceptable way to see it. So I drop off my stuff and rush to one of the best IMAX theaters in the country... The Metreon... only to find out that their last ever IMAX showing of Doctor Strange was 40 minutes ago. From now on they're only showing the latest Harry Potter film (Fantastic Beasts?) in the IMAX theater.

What a bummer.

Then I remembered that there was a "Mini IMAX" up on Van Ness, and decided that was probably the next best thing. So off I went...

Doctor Strange Movie Poster.

The movie was pretty darn close to perfect.

Painfully faithful to the comic book character in all the most important ways... with a few minor changes that didn't spoil it for me.

Arrogant surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange is at the top of his game... wealthy, powerful, brilliant at his job, and able to pick and choose where his talents will be used. But then one night he's texting while driving, gets into a devastating car crash, and his hands are ruined in the process.

Desperate to become a surgeon again, he wastes away his fortune looking for a cure for the severe nerve damage that makes his hands shake uncontrollably. Then, when all hope is lost and he's on his last dollar, he travels to Kathmandu in Nepal to chase down a mystical cure he stumbles upon.

There he meets The Ancient One who trains him to save lives not with a scalpel... but with the mystic arts. Thus magic has come to The Marvel Universe.

Awesomeness across the dimensions of the multi-verse ensues.

The biggest controversy in the film was changing The Ancient One from an older Chinese man to a younger Celtic woman (wonderfully played by Tilda Swinton). This was done partly to sidestep some stereotype landmines, at which it was mostly successful. The other elephant in the room was changing the location from Tibet to Nepal... a move which was made to appease the film board in China so it could be cleared for release in their country. This was a change that bothered me more than The Ancient One, because Tibetan mysticism is at the core of the character. But, oh well... when your budget investment for a film is this massive, I guess you can't afford to cut yourself out of a profitable market.

Marvel adjusted their filming and release date for Doctor Strange specifically to accommodate Benedict Cumberbatch's schedule. This was an incredibly smart move, because he is flawless as the character. He IS Dr. Strange. This seems to be something that Marvel excels at. Could anybody but Robert Downey Jr. play Tony Stark as Iron Man? Chris Evans as Captain America? Paul Rudd as Ant-Man? Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow? Chris Hemsworth as Thor? Hell, I even have a hard time seeing anybody but Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye! Cumberbatch inhabits the character with a near-unsettling ease, and it's incredible entertainment to watch.

If you have the opportunity, see the film in IMAX 3D. It's worth the effort, as the visual effects are mind-blowing to behold that way.

Right now I can't decide whether Doctor Strange or Captain America: Civil War is my favorite super-hero film of 2016. It's a very close race. I rate Civil War higher, but Strange could leapfrog after being so brilliant and fresh.

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

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

   

Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om

Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2016

Dave!I love tattoos. LOVE them.

Had I started getting tattoos earlier in life, my arms would already be covered and I'd be starting in on my back and (probably) my legs. We have no choice as to what genetics are going to deal us in the card game of life, but being able to permanently make visual changes with tattooing is a wonderful freedom I'm fully onboard with.

Today I got my seventh, thanks to the unparalleled line-work talent of Michael Dematty at Black & Blue Tattoo in San Francisco. My right arm tattoos are all Buddhism-inspired designs I've drawn up, but I have yet to get an actual Buddha. The problem being that my arm is too skinny to get a classic "Buddha on Lotus with Om" design that will look how I want it to look.

So I took a cue from the culinary world and deconstructed it into separate pieces... which ended up fitting the space perfectly and turned out exactly as I had hoped. Which I knew it would, because that's what you get when you hire somebody as talented as Michael Dematty to ink your work...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

As with all my tattoos, I drew them up in DaveToon black-and-white style. The "om" enlightenment at the top was written in Tamil (one of the oldest languages on earth) so it would look different from the om in my more traditional "om mani padme hum" tattoo that's already on my inner arm...

Dave Deconstructed Buddha on Lotus with Om Tattoo.

Annnnnnd... guess it's time to start thinking about my next tattoo...

   

Mustache Harbor

Posted on Saturday, November 19th, 2016

Dave!Live music is a treat I don't get to experience often enough. Mostly because I almost always have to travel to get to it. This trip to San Francisco was all about getting to finally see a Mustache Harbor show... of which my long-term friend, Jester, is a part.

Last night was the first of two sold-out shows at Bimbo's 365 Club, and it was glorious...

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.
Jester as "Ace Fontana" singing to a legion of Mustache Harbor fans on SPACE NIGHT!

   
Fantastic show. And a pretty great way to spend an evening. Needless to say, if Mustache Harbor is ever playing in your neck of the woods, they are well worth checking out.

Because who wouldn't want to experience a band brought together by their astrological signs and a love for vintage soft rock and sweet staches?

   

Fortune Cookies and Falafel

Posted on Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Dave!Guess Bullet Sunday is just going to have to wait, because I've got one last day in San Francisco...

Which started rather late, because I was wiped out from a late night of enjoying the smooth, soulful, vocal stylings of Jester and Mustache Harbor for their second sold-out show at Bimbo's 365 Club last night.

It was every bit as awesome as Friday's show, where we were once again transported to OUTERRRRRRR SPAAAAAACE...

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.

WE LOVE YOU, ACE FONTANA!!!

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.
Jester as Ace Fontana as Ace Frehley — ©2016 by Tananarive Aubert Photography

   
I had two things left on my San Francisco agenda, which Jester was willing to accommodate... 1) A FALAFEL WRAP SANDWICH... and... 2) FORTUNE COOKIES FROM GOLDEN GATE FORTUNE COOKIE COMPANY...

Ace Fontana Rocks the Crowd with Mustache Harbor.

After that it was off to the airport so I can rest up before tomorrow's early morning flight.

Thanks a million times to Jester for making everything in my San Francisco holiday possible!

   

Bullet Sunday 482

Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2016

Dave!Your eyes are not deceiving you... because an all new Bullet Sunday on Monday starts... now...

   
• #TrumpsAmerica. Hey everybody! Are you tired of not being able to get through a single day without seeing yet another example of the horrendous level of racist bullshit that is inundating our Black youth? Do videos like this make your blood boil?

Might I suggest a donation to my long-time blogging friend Kelly Wickham's amazing organization: Being Black at School so she can help make a difference? She's doing the work to effect change and could use your help.

   
• Certified Pre-Owned. I love creativity in advertising. Especially when it's for such a great cause...

I'd adopt ten more if I could.

   
• Snowline. Welp, winter is coming. Confirmed as I was driving back home today...

Mountain Snow Line.

Mountain Snow Line.

Hopefully it can hold off going full-on winter until next week. I've got another trip over the mountains coming up.

   
• Soul. I was very saddened to learn that the amazing Sharon Jones died. Her performances with the Dap-Kings was a show I have long wanted to attend, and I'm more than a little upset I never got the chance...

Rest in peace, Miss Jones.

   
• Hamiltoon. The cast of Hamilton respectfully asked that Vice President Elect Mike Pence "...uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us..." at the close of their show and President Elect Trump loses his fucking mind, as usual. But that was only the beginning, because crazy-ass Jeanine Pirro of FOX "News" went full-on bat-shit insane... (I'm paraphrasing here)... "HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE THE STATE AND OUR FUTURE SUPREME LEADER! YOU'VE RUINED MY ENJOYMENT OF HAVING WATCHED YOUR PLAY WITH ALL THE BLACKS AND ALL THE LATINOS AND ALL THE HIP-HOP! BOW BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP, YOU INSOLENT SWINE! AND MAY HIS GLORIOUS REIGN LAST A MILLION YEARS!" — I swear... it is only a matter of days before we start hearing "uppity negroes" come out of the mouths of these racist pieces of shit. It is so blatantly obvious EXACTLY what they are thinking... and the team of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted trash that will soon be running this country has emboldened them to become utterly transparent. They're not even hiding it anymore. I am disgusted to my very core. Oh... and PS... REVERSE RACISM IS NOT A THING YOU FUCKING MORON!

   
Me bullets be gone. See ye next week.

   

And History Repeats

Posted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Dave!I guess we're doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Even in The Land of Couldn't Happen Here...


Good luck this time around, citizens of planet earth.

   

Sense-Less

Posted on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Dave!I should have known better. I really should have.

Did I leave the television on? Has my dryer finished running? How much electricity am I using to heat my home? Good questions all.

These are things I'd like to know, so when I saw there was a new device was coming out called "Sense" that could answer these energy questions... and more... I was intrigued. And once I watched the promo video, I was completely onboard...

After a long wait my Sense ($250) finally arrived and I hired an electrician to install it ($120). Turns out I could have easily installed it myself, but the Sense instructions said I had to go online to get info if I didn't have a breaker free... then provided absolutely nothing online... so I took their suggestion to get a professional to do it.

Unfortunately, since my electrical panel was embedded in the wall and not surface-mounted, the electrician had to add a break-out box for the antennae. Not a big deal, but not exactly elegant. Would have been nicer if the antennae could have been inside the box, but I wasn't sure it could get signal there...

Sense Antennae Breakout Box.

And so... all that was left to do after sinking $370 into this project was to download the Sense app which, fortunately, was free. And, oh yeah, there's one more thing you have to do... you have to wait. The idea is that Sense will "listen" to your electricity usage and eventually learn to recognize your various electrical devices by their "signature." The process takes days to weeks depending on whether Sense has your particular signatures on file.

After a week, my Sense was recognizing absolutely nothing, so I wrote to Sense Support to find out what was wrong. I was told I had to be patient. Eventually it will start to "get it" and devices will pop into place. Until then, I get to stare at two "usage bubbles" for "Always On" stuff (things like clocks and devices in "standby mode") and "Unknown" stuff (things that Sense doesn't yet recognize)...

Sense App.

With nothing else I can do, I decided to be patient.

A month passes.

Now my Sense recognizes exactly three things: my microwave, my garage door opener, and my water heater. It thinks it recognizes other things, but it calls all of them "Unnamed Heat" even though none of them are my heater. I try to figure out what they actually are so I can inform Sense, but I can't for the life of me figure it out, even though Sense tells me what time they turned on and off...

Sense App.

   
What's so fucking stupid here is that my ACTUAL HEATER should be dead-simple for Sense to figure out. It's the only thing in my home that causes the "Unknown" bubble to blow up like this...

Sense App.

   
But no joy. It's the most obvious thing using electricity in my house, but Sense hasn't a fucking clue.

Needless to say, I'm pissed off. Partly because this is not what I was promised, and certainly not what I paid $370 for. But mostly because Sense is stupid as a box of rocks... and there's no way to train it to be smarter about what it's sensing.

Take this morning, for example.

I turn on the garbage disposal. On the Sense app, I can see that it has the same "signature" every time you turn it on. It's right there on the screen...

Sense App.

You would think that I could tap those spikes and tell Sense "Hey, that's my garbage disposal!" but you can't do that. All I can do is scream "IT'S MY FUCKING GARBAGE DISPOSAL, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!!" at my iPhone because Sense has the garbage disposal lumped in with all the "Unknown" crap and there's no way to tell Sense anything about the "Unknown" crap. But what about those "Unknown Heat" devices?

I turn stuff off and on in an attempt to see which "Unknown Heat" it might be... but that doesn't help. My television? Lumped in with "Unknown." My oven? Lumped in with "Unknown." My washer and dryer? Lumped in with "Unknown." My stereo? Lumped in with "Unknown." My iron? Lumped in with "Unknown." My Litter Robot? Lumped in with "Unknown." Everything I could possibly want to know about is lumped in with "Unknown" which means it's useless.

And so... for now anyways... Sense is junk.

Unless I want to know if I left my microwave or garage door running.

And I really should have known better.

Just like the Kickstarter crap I've bought which turned out to be garbage, I should have waited for Sense reviews to come out before investing in it... even though I saved $50 by pre-ordering. Turns out the Sense I really needed was Common Sense. Typical.

   

Thanks for Nothing? Everything?

Posted on Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Dave!The plan was to get up at 7:00am, take care of the cats, get cleaned up, then drive over the mountains to spend Thanksgiving with family.

All of which was scrapped when I checked the weather report for Stevens Pass...

Winter Storm Warning for East Slopes Northern Cascades, WA. Several rounds of snow for the mountains through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Heavy mountain snow will pummel the Cascades today into Friday morning. Snow accumulations will make travel very hazardous or impossible over mountain passes like Stevens Pass on Highway 2 and east towards Plain, Sherman pass on Highway 20, and Blewett pass on Highway 97. Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 6 AM PST Friday.

If I had four-wheel drive? I probably would have risked it. But I don't. I don't even have snow tires on. Just some all-weather radials with an old set of chains in the trunk.

And so? Thanksgiving ruined.

Though I did try and be thankful for what I did have: A day home from work.

Thanksgiving breakfast was tacos, because that's all I had to eat. I wasn't supposed to be here, so I never went to the store. They were pretty awesome. Thanksgiving dinner was a plate of butter with some microwaved potatoes...

Thanksgiving Dinner.

Jenny and Jake sure liked having me home. They followed me around everywhere all day long. Starting when I took a shower and went to brush my teeth...

Content Jake in the Sink.

Content Jake in the Sink.

Jenny kept running out to the catio, getting cold, running back inside to steal my body heat, then running right back out again...

Content Jenny.

That's something to be thankful for, I suppose. It's nice to be useful.

Hope your Thanksgiving was equally eventful.

   

In Blackest Friday…

Posted on Friday, November 25th, 2016

Dave!There is no amount of savings that would encourage me to shop retail today. None. Even if they were giving shit away for FREE, I'd still be going into work then hiding at home the rest of the day. Buddhism has taught me not to get caught up in "stuff" and focus on more important things, so fighting over a bunch of "stuff" is about the last thing I'm inclined to do.

That does not, however, mean I won't be shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales online.

Every month I put aside $50, which comes out to $600 of funds that I spend on clothes come Black Friday. With careful shopping, you can easily turn that $600 into $1200 (or more!) worth of buying power, and 90% of my clothes for the entire year are bought during this time. I especially love that I can buy pricey brands that I could never afford otherwise.

$100 denim being sold for $40? Yes please.

$80 shirts for $25? I'll take 'em.

All underwear is Buy One Get One Free? Alrighty then.

Jackets half-price? I could use that.

Nothing quite like getting a pile of designer clothes at cheap-ass prices. This is literally the only time I enjoy shopping. This year I actually went overboard... spending closer to $700 than the $600 I had saved... but I lost some weight and ended up needing smaller sizes, so it was still a bargain.

This is the time of year I always take my spare change jar to a CoinStar machine, so I'll probably make up that $100 in no time to stay on budget (last year I had accumulated $136 in coinage!).

Which is good, because I also found Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Wii U on sale for $17 (Regular $39.99)...

Sense Antennae Breakout Box.

Doesn't get much better than that!

Happy Black Friday, everybody!

   

Caturday 8

Posted on Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Dave!My back door was glass, which meant I couldn't install a pet door so the cats could go out to the catio whenever they wanted. So I saved my pennies and bought a new fiberglass door, then had a cat door installed in it. After a day of training them, Jake and Jenny figured out how to go in and out as the pleased... without my having to leave the door open and lose heat.

I've decided to hold off until Spring to finish up the catio but, in the meanwhile, I think I'm going to try my hand at making my own cat tree. The cats love the carpeted thing I bought, but it's just so darn ugly. Surely there's a way to make something that's fun and functional, but looks more like furniture than a fuzzy monolith?

Something to think about.

In other cat news... I found some wicker baskets that had a fabric liner while I was cleaning out the garage. Jake just chews on them, but Jenny seems to think they are some kind of impenetrable fortress. Whenever she is being chased or wants to feel safe, in she goes...

Janny In the Basket.

Kinda funny how that works in her head.

But, then again, most things that cats do are funny in my head.

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Bullet Sunday 483

Posted on Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Dave!Fight through that leftover turkey tryptophan food coma... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• More. As a fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I was naturally curious about the Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: Year in the Life. The show kind of lost its way in Season 6, then really lost its way in Season 7 after creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and writing/directing partner Daniel Palladino left the show. But now they (and the entire surviving cast) is back for another go in four 90-minute "films" entitled Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall...

Gilmore Girls A Year in the Life Posters.

For the most part, I was happy to see all the characters again and felt the stories for all four episodes were solid... even though many of the mistakes I thought were made in Season 6 & 7 were, oddly enough, repeated all over again. As if that weren't enough, we finally got to hear those Four Final Words that Amy Sherman-Palladino had wanted to end the series with all along. And though the words make perfect sense and took the series to a logical place, I had two problems with how things ended. 1) It pretty much begs for more episodes. And 2) I don't know that the words mean as much now when Rory is in her 30's as they would have had they been spoken when she was in her 20's back when the series ended.

All that being said, boy was Edward Herrmann missed as Richard Gilmore. He was always such a big presence in the show, and his death left a huge void. That the Palladinos used this as an exceptional opportunity to move Emily Gilmore's story forward is to their credit.

Here's hoping Netflix will bless us with another series in the future.

   
• Watching. Speaking of television shows... my favorite show going right now is No Tomorrow...

No Tomottow Poster.

Girl meets boy. Boy thinks the world is going to get hit by a meteor and be destroyed. Adventures in life ensue. And it's funny to boot. Give it a shot if you have some free time in your television schedule!

   
• Strange? Doctor Strange has the best "Art of the Movie" book from Marvel yet. So much thought went into the bizarre visuals, and you get a terrific look at how the filmmakers agonized over them. A very cool companion to a very cool movie...

Art of Doctor Strange Book Cover.

If you're a fan of the film... or even the comic book... this is a book worth checking out.

   
• LEGO. As if the upcoming LEGO Batman Movie isn't super-awesome enough...

LEGO has just announced that the next series of MiniFigs will come from the film!

LEGO Batman Movie Minifigs.

Am dying to own them all, but here's the one that I can't live without...

LEGO Batman Fairy Minifig.

Fairy Princess Batman! Classic!

   
• Scream. Pretty much the theme song for my life these past weeks...

#TrumpsAmerica

   
And... there's your bullets for the week.

   

The Rules of Acquisition

Posted on Monday, November 28th, 2016

Dave!Unless I am very unlucky, my life is more than half over.

This realization doesn't come cloaked in sadness or despair. Nor does it fill me with depression or fear. If I were to be completely honest, the fact that it's all going to end some day is more... comforting?... than anything else. More and more I am just "done" with life in general, and am ready to move on to whatever is next.

Even if that ends up being nothing.

Not that you need to put me on suicide watch, mind you. I've got cats depending on me and all that. It's just that there's a certain peace that comes from making peace with your life.

And eventual death.

If pressed, I could probably come up with all kinds of regrets, but I've worked very hard not to live with regrets so I can make the best of what is. Because that's all you can really do, isn't it?

Except...

After having moved house earlier this year, I can honestly say that I seriously regret all the senseless crap I seem to have accumulated over the years. Well, senseless now, but it undoubtedly meant a great deal to me at the time I acquired it. Like my massive comic book collection. Sure it's fun to look back through them from time to time, but right now I'd just like to find somebody with a stack of cash to make me an offer and haul it all away. One less thing to worry about. One less thing to burden whomever is going to be stuck disposing of my possessions when I shuffle this mortal coil.

It doesn't end with comic books. I've got a staggering load of DVDs, CDs, albums, books, gadgets, travel souvenirs, and other garbage piled up in my bedroom, office, closets, and garage. And for every box I get rid of, there are dozens upon dozens more to work through.

So... note to Younger Self...

Don't be so obsessed with acquiring crap.

It's just going to hold you down and be a pain in the ass to your Future Self.

And none of it is as important or necessary as you think it is.

None of it.

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The Strategy of Acquisition

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Dave!Yesterday I talked about the regret I have in accumulating so much "stuff" in my life. There's just entirely too much crap piled around my home, and most of it... the majority of it... I really could have done without ever buying in the first place.

And yet there's still stuff I have to buy. Even in the middle of culling my possessions. Which is kind of counterproductive... and a a bummer. But not nearly as big a bummer as having to shop for the stuff. Because I really, really don't like shopping.

Which is why I hold off as much shopping as possibly for Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Because the only thing I love more than not shopping is a bargain. And this year I found a lot of bargains. Just ask my credit card. Which probably won't be paid off until February. :-(

Still, it's all stuff I needed. And it was pretty great that I ended up paying half (actually less than half) of what I would have paid any other time of year for the same stuff...

  • Tools. I got an amazing deal on a telescoping ladder ($90 regular $160!). I've never owned a ladder before, having always borrowed them when I needed one. I never intended to buy my own, but it was the "telescoping" feature that made me pull the trigger. I've got a stairwell that I want to hang things in, and I couldn't manage it with a traditional ladder. This one makes it a snap. Plus it's compact when condensed, so it fits easily in my garage. Plus it's easy to move around. Plus I have a ladder whenever I need one now. Probably my favorite purchase. And the most useful.
  • Storage. I loathe to spend money on containers and stuff like that when you can get cardboard boxes for free, but the boxes I've been using to store the crap I'm going to keep are falling apart and I needed something more permanent. Storage bins were on sale for ridiculous prices, so I snapped some up. They're much nicer for keeping things organized. I also bought a second Milwaukee Jobsite Organizer, which I got on sale at Home Depot for $20... the first one I bought has been one of the handiest purchases ever, but it's gotten full.
  • Music/Movies/Games. I buy most everything digitally from the iTunes Music Store, so I leapt at the chance to get some gift cards for 20% off. I also picked up LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens for cheap... and found Guardians of the Galaxy on 3D Blu-Ray for $12! I don't much care for 3D in the theater, but I am really digging it at home for some reason.
  • Tech. Amazon had the Echo Dot on sale for $39 down from $49... and you got a credit for $10 if you ordered through Echo. $29 to extend Alexa upstairs seemed like a heck of a bargain. And so very cool.
  • Luggage. My small carry-on that I use for 1-3 day trips was pretty much shredded, so I took advantage of a 50% off sale at Samsonite to get a new one at a great price. Probably my most-needed purchase.
  • Furniture. I needed a nice chair for my guest room but could never afford it because whenever I found one I liked it was $250... minimum! Finally found one on Black Friday closeout for a crazy $80.
  • Travel. Alaska Airlines always has really good Cyber Monday sales... if you can be flexible in your travel. I managed to get a trip from my small-town airport for less than I usually get the same trip out of Seattle... which is fantastic savings.
  • Clothes. I hate spending money on clothes. Which is why I pretty much shop for them only when they're on sale. Black Friday is the best time for this, and I put aside money all year long just to shop the sales. This year I bought jeans, shirts, hats, and underwear... all at really great prices. I was particularly happy to get some new Boston Red Sox hats from '47 Brand at 30% off. Mine are about worn out.

And there you have it. More crap to clutter my life.

How much of it will I be wanting to throw out five years from now? Probably all of it.

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Gatlinburg and The World on Fire

Posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Dave!I first visited Gatlinburg around my birthday in March of 2000. There was a Hard Rock there I hadn't visited yet, and I had some time to drive through the region after a work trip took me to Memphis. So far as places go, The Great Smokey Mountains is a beautiful part of the country. Gatlinburg itself is fairly touristy, but a perfectly charming and lovely town.

And now it's engulfed in flames...

Which is heartbreaking in so many ways... especially when you see families losing everything in the devastation. Fires like this are commonplace where I live, and we've had major fires here the past two years (The Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 and The Okanogan Complex Fire of 2015). I've been through a fire myself, and have come close more than once (the most recent close call being in 2004).

It's hard to know who to trust when it comes to all the charitable organizations that have popped up around the Smokey Mountains fires, but Dolly Parton (who was born in the area and has a theme park there) has stepped up to help...

If you can't trust Dolly Parton, who's giving a huge chunk of her own money to help, who can you trust? If you'd like to help Dolly help others, here's a link to donate to her My People Fund.

Stay safe, everybody.

   

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