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Bullet Sunday 488

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

We can all be good leaders for each other.

   
• Sleeping! How Jake Sleeps...

Jake Sleeping in a Very Odd Position

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

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

And here she is on Harrison Ford...

Miss you, Carrie.

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

Thrice Fiction Magazine Issue No. 18

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

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

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

   

Suicidal Electra Joke

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017

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

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

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

Movie Posters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

SECURE IT, DAMMIT!

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Be safe, everybody!

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The State of Liberty

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

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

But first, here we go again...

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

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

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

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Washington East-West FIGHT!

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

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

Hence the "stupid" part of the equation.

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

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

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

Washington East-West FIGHT!

Yes. Go sports teams, go.

   

Hate Makes You Stupid

Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2017

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

And it drives me insane.

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

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

Stupid indeed.

But so very typical.

   

Star Trek: The Ranking

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017

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

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

With that in mind, here we go...

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

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

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Caturday 10

Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2017

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

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

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

Happy Jake Getting Petted

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

Mad Jake Not Getting Petted

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

Jake Snuggling Up for TV Time

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

Jake Invades My Laptop

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

Jake Snuggling Up for TV Time

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

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

Jenny Pouting

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

Jake Gets His Lion Back

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

Jenny in a Cold Catio

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

Jenny Steals My Blankets

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

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

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

Jenny Steals My Blankets

Typical.

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

Assuming the cats will even let me in my bed.

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Bullet Sunday 489

Posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You will be missed...

Hard Rock Cafe Maui

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

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

Ah well. Progress and all that.

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

   

Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them

Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

I Did Not Have Urinary Relations With Those Women

Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

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

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

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

   

MOVIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

TELEVISION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Tiny Dicks and Journalism Combat Training

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

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

And everything I feared.

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

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

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

Well, at least they did.

Until now.

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

But our President Elect? Not so much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Reward and Punishment, Carrot and Stick

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Living with cats is enough to drive one insane.

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

Jake and Jenny Won't Enter The Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I live with cats. Nothing is unexpected to me.

   

Big Mistake, Michelle

Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is quite the important life lesson.

Thanks, internet!

   

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

   

   

Caturday 11

Posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017

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

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

They don't do much typing on their iPad.

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

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Jenny is an all or nothing kind of gamer.

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

Jake and Jenny Kittens

Some things never change.

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Bullet Sunday 490

Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck. And may the meower protect you!

   
• Diet! Um. Yeah...

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

   
No more bullets for you. See you next week!

   

All Talk, Talk, Talk

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2017

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

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

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

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

Trump on John Lewis

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

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

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

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

March Vol. 1-3 by John Lewis

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

Trump on John Lewis

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

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

   

Happy 95th Birthday Betty!

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

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

And today she's 95 years old!

Which got her an interview with Katie Couric...

Happiest of birthdays to you, Betty!

   

Welcome to Home Ownership

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday afternoon we had freezing rain.

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

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

Oh well.

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

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

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

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

Yay.

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

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

Welcome to home ownership.

Bring your wallet.

   

YOU HAVE BAD INFORMATION!

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Dave!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jake!

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

Or...

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

Time consuming and expensive? Yes.

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

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

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

But whatevs.

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

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

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Thanks, Obama

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017

Dave!=sigh=

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

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

Obama and I were off to a bad start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so much.

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

And yet...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so...

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

Probably longer.

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

   

Caturday 12

Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2017

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

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

Handsome Jake!

Jake Snuggler!

Jake Snuggler!

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

Mopey Jenny!

Or sit around watching television...

Jenny Watches TV!

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

Jake & Jenny Crate Training!

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

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

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Bullet Sunday 491

Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

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

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

First Lady Melania!

First Lady Melania!
Photos from The Associated Press

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

Jackie Kennedy!

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

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

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

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

And then there's this gem...

Stay strong, Mrs. First Lady!

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

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

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

First Lady Melania!
Photo Credit to Linda Zunas

And that's all seven continents.

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions. Decisions.

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

   

Maintaining Focus in the Era of Hate

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Dave!

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

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

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

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

But it doesn't end there.

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

Barron is 10 years old.

He's a 10 year-old kid.

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

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

   

The Cats of YouTube

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Jake Loves YouTube!

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

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

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

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

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Jake 25

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

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

It's Jake!

   

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Jake 26

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2017

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

It's Jake!

   

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Jake 27

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2017

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

It's Jake!

   

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Caturday 13

Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2017

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

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

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

Anyway...

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

Cats in the Clothes Dryer

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

Cats in the Clothes Dryer

Jake sure has grown up to be a big boy!

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

Jenny TV Watcher

Jenny TV Watcher

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

Jenny TV Watcher

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

Jenny TV Watcher

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

Jake, on the other hand?

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

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

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

Jake Smacker

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

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

Jake Smacker

AWWWWWWW! What extraordinary cats I have!

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Bullet Sunday 492

Posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2017

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

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

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

An interesting aside here...

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

CONTENT REMOVED: Comedy Central does not offer HTTPS embeds. Click here to see video.

Except I will never get used to it.

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

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

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

Watchmen Five Minutes to Midnight

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, everybody!

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

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

   
• Welcome! The Netherlands welcomes President Trump!

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

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

Maybe.

I guess.

   

Travel Mexico

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017

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


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel China

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

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


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Germany

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Australia

Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

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


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Travel Greece

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2017

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


   

   

   

We Love You!

   

   

   

   

   

Caturday 14

Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Kitty Fountain!

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

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

Cat Food!

Cat Food!

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

And then...

STEP ONE: Sniff at the box!

Cat in a Box!

STEP TWO: Step into the box!

Cat in a Box!

STEP THREE: Get in that box!

Cat in a Box!

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

At least they're taking turns...

Cat in a Box!

Cat in a Box!

Cat in a box, yeeeaaaaah!

And now, in security camera theater...

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

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

Cats on a bed!

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

Cats on a bed!

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

Cats on a bed!

Alrighty then... until next Caturday...

Cute Jake!

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Bullet Sunday 493

Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2017

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


   
• The Right God.

   
• Our Reality.

   
• Our Reality, Redux.

   
• What About This Guy?

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

   
• Conan.

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

   

Monday Lessons in Angst

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017

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

Not sure why.

Might have something to do with it being Monday.

Kitty Fountain!

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

That might be it.

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Tacoless Tuesday

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

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

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

Empty Taco Shell Box!

Taco salad it is then.

sigh

   

Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse 2017

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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

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

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

Dave Mountain!

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

Dave Mountain!

The cats love it though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to my winter wonderland.

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Sunset Garage

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017

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

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

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

Like this year.

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

Probably.

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

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

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The Horrors of the Bedpan

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2017

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

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

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

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

And then there's the letters.

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

   

The Horrors of the Bedpan
by Gayle Monroe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
I mean, crazy-weird, right?

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

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

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Pass Report

Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2017

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


Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

Mountain Pass Drive

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

I can be an asshole too.

   

Bullet Sunday 494

Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2017

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

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

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

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

LEGO Dimensions Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Profoundly Perfect

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017

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

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

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

Yes. It really is that good.

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

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Valentine

Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

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


LEGO Dimensions Game

   

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

   

Fake Jake and Curiosity

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

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

Anyway...

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

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

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

Fake Jake Mornings

Fake Jake Mornings

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

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

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The Veterinary Clinic Adventure

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017

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

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

Which was today.

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

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

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

Thank heavens I did.

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

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

Cats in Carriers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny Hides

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

Jenny Hides

But eventually finding a much better spot...

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

Jenny Hides

She would stay there until forced to leave.

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

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

Then it was Jenny's turn.

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

Jenny Exam

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

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

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

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

Jenny Petting

Jenny Petting

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

Jenny Scubbing

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

Jake Petting

But calmed down after five minutes or so...

Jake Petting

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

Jake & Jenny Petting

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

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The Joy of Home Automation

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017

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

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

Take for example my morning routine.

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

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

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

Take, for another example, garbage day.

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

Home Automation Code

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

Home Automation iPhone Alerts

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

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

Green Garage Light

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

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

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

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

And then I could...

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

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Caturday 15

Posted on Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Dave!It's a lazy Saturday.

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

Lazy Kitties

Or begging for attention...

Lazy Kitties

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

Lazy Kitties

And now? Back to work for me...

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Bullet Sunday 495

Posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

WE LOVE SWEDEN!

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

We Love the World!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not really.

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

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

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

   
AND I AM DONE WITH BULLETS FOR THE WEEK!

   

It’s a Holiday…

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017

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

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


Toilet Paper Roll

   

   

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Kickstart My Heart

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Chained to the Rhythm

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

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

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

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

And a message...

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

You're welcome.

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

A lot of work went into that performance!

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Winterbreak

Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

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

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

   

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

   

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

   

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

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Same Bat-Friday

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2017

Dave!It's all going to be okay.

Eventually.


LEGO Batman

   

   

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Caturday 16

Posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Dave!My life with cats.


Kitties

Kitty Toy

Kitties

Kitties

   

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

   

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Bullet Sunday 496

Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

Mini Fake Jake

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2017

Dave!And so Fake Jake has a new friend.

Kinda.

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

Mini Fake Jake!

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

Mini Fake Jake!

Mini Fake Jake!

Mini Fake Jake is shy, but completely adorable.

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

Mini Fake Jake!

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

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City of Angels

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

        "Alexa? Kill me now."

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

Just ask my cats.

Not that they're happy about it either.

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

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

Kitties

Poor thing probably thinks she overslept!

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

Anyway...

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

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

A city for which I have mixed feelings.

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

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

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The Happiest Place on Earth

Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Land Overlay Map

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

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

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

Star Wars Land Concept Art

Star Wars Land Concept Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And speaking of the price of admission...

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

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

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Disney Top Twenty Attractions

Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

   

Those Darn Cats and a Farewell to Disney

Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

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

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

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

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

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

Jake hopped up a minute later...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

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

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

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

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

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

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

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

Blargh.

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

Still... vacation goals achieved...

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

Until next time, Disneyland.

   

Caturday 17

Posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jake.

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

And 2:30am.

And 3:45am.

And 5:00am.

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

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

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

Cali Weather

L.A. was like this...

Cali Weather

Cali Weather

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

Cali Weather

Looks like I brought California skies back with me.

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

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Bullet Sunday 497

Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017

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

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

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

Darth Vader Dress

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

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

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

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

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

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

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

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

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

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

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

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

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

Signage from Disneyland

Signage from Disneyland

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

Signage from Disneyland

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

Signage from Disneyland

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

Signage from Disneyland

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

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

   

Couching

Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017

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

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

Jake on the Couch

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

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

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

Jenny at the Window!

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

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

Jenny on the Cat Tower Judging You

None too impressed, is she?

Honestly, I think that's her natural state.

She is a cat, after all.

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Veterinary Email Horrors

Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Jenny Needs a Vet Appointment for her FelV Vaccination!

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

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

So...

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

Sometimes, anyway.

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Thirteen Minutes Twenty-Seven Minutes

Posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Dave!Thirteen minutes.

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

Twenty-seven minutes.

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

Jenny Toys!

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

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

Guess I am going to have to buy more toys.

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Musically Disinclined

Posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex.
No. Just no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So Long FlightTrack

Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017

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

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

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

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

And then there's travel apps.

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

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

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

FlightTrack!

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

FlightTrack!

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

FlightTrack!

   
Pretty amazing, right?

Except both apps are now dead.

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

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

   
Needless to say, this sucks.

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

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

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Caturday 18

Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017

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

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

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

Baby Kitties

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

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

Anyway...

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

Jenny Watches TV

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

Jenny Watches TV

And watch for an hour or more...

Jenny Watches TV

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

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

Jenny Watches TV

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

Jenny Watches TV

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

Jake Hanging Out

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

Jake Hanging Out

Covered in cats from sunrise to sunset.

There are worse ways to spend a day.

   

Bullet Sunday 498

Posted on Sunday, March 12th, 2017

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Loneliness
Illustration by Mario Zucca / Boston Globe

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Know. Your. Rights.

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

   

Fake Jake Waits

Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017

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

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

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

Fake Jake Waits

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

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

Hopefully that kitty made his way back home.

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Midnight Alarm

Posted on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Alarm Cats

Jenny, on the other hand...

Alarm Cats

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

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

Again.

I wonder if they sell remote-control water guns?

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Dave!The cats know when I'm leaving.

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

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

Leaving Kitties

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

Leaving Kitties

Nobody lays down a guilt trip like cats do.

And I'm off.

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You Know How I Get When I’m Alone

Posted on Thursday, March 16th, 2017

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

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

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

Vegan Burg!

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

Wrabel!

Which absolutely did not disappoint.

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

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

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

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Return to Sender

Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017

Dave!And that was San Francisco.

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

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

Quiji Display at SFO!

Quiji Display at SFO!

Quiji Display at SFO!

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

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

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

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

Jenny's Welcome Home Tribute!

Jenny's Welcome Home Tribute!

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

Jenny Watching TV!

So I guess we're good.

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

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Pack It Up

Posted on Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Dave!And now I'm off again.

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

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

Jenny in my Suitcase!

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

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

Seattle Drive March!

Seattle Drive March!

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

Las Vegas, here I come.

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Vegas… Day One

Posted on Sunday, March 19th, 2017

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


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

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

Long Island Ice Tea!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegas Slots!

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

Vegas Slots!

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

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Vegas… Day Two

Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017

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


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

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

Long Island Ice Tea!

Long Island Ice Tea!

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

Blue Man Group Vegas!

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

Long Island Ice Tea!

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

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

Well...

Turns out it's quite a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Nugget Sucks!

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

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

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Vegas… Day Three

Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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


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

Long Island Ice Tea!

Long Island Ice Tea!

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

Until it came time to zipline down Fremont on Slotzilla.

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

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

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

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

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The Hangover

Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Dave!Is there anything worse than hanging out at your hotel waiting for your flight home once your vacation is over?

Probably.

Probably lots of things are worse than that.

But when you are sleep-deprived and drinking for three days straight?

No. No there most certainly is nothing worse than that.

But on the plane I watched possibly the greatest Las Vegas movie ever, The Hangover, so I guess it's all good...

Jenny at the Window!

This movie fascinates me no matter how many times I see it. It came out of nowhere and was just so good. Sure it was followed by two crappy sequels, but that first one? Magic. Everything about it was perfect... from the story to the casting to the jokes. I've lost track of the number of times I've seen the film, but I laugh every time.

Which is a good thing, because my vacation is done.

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Apple Specs

Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Dave!After I got to Vegas this past Sunday, my MacBook Pro with Retina Display (mid-2012 model) had the keyboard crap out. But only for the Y, U, I, and O keys.

It seemed an odd problem, so I started Google Researching It (or "Gggle Researchng" if you're typing on my keyboard) only to find that this is not a unique problem. In fact, there's an article entitled MacBook Pro Keys Suddenly Stopped Working (Y, U, I and O) which would seem to indicate that this is a serious and highly specific problem. Unfortunately, the "fix" that was given didn't work for me. Nor did any of the other fixes (which included continuously mashing the non-functioning keys down together). The keys might come back for a few minutes but, overall, they were dead as dead.

Now, granted, the laptop is five years old and used every single day... but, still, this kind of hardware flaw is a shitty way to kill off an otherwise perfectly good machine.

Which, despite being five years old, is still on-spec with Apple's current offering.

I'm not joking. My five-year-old laptop has a 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 chip with a 512GB solid-state drive. Here's Apple's specs for their BRAND NEW high-end laptop, released just days ago...

Jenny at the Window!

   
What a fucking joke.

Half the professional designers I know have moved on to Windows machines... specifically, the Microsoft Surface Pro... and I have to wonder if I'll be next. It's not like Apple gives a shit about their pro users anymore. They haven't released actual pro-level equipment for several years. The stuff they label as "pro" is, in fact, not.

Funny how the pro design market was Apple's to lose.

And they didn't just lose it... they actively gave it away.

   

Happy Birthday to Me

Posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017

Dave!You say it's your birthday?

It's my birthday too!

Ordinarily I'd be celebrating another having survived another year above ground, but things have been going sideways since I got back from Vegas, so now I'm starting to wonder if I'd be better off six feet under.

Oh well.

I'll be there soon enough.

In the meanwhile? Vanilla bean ice cream.

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Caturday 19

Posted on Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Dave!It seems as though my cats are getting more and more attached to me as time goes on.

Which means that it's more and more difficult to leave them when I have to travel. Despite their automated litter box, their automated feeder, and their automated neighbor checking in on them... they want me to be at home. And when I return after being gone a while, they cling to me constantly.

This morning while I was working in bed, Jenny laid right beside me the entire time...

Kitties in Bed on a Saturday!

And Jake was snuggled up wanting pets every ten minutes...

Kitties in Bed on a Saturday!

Poor babies.

The good news for them is that the weather is getting nicer, so I'll be able to start working on Catio Phase Two soon. They seem to spend most of their time out there now-a-days, so spicing things up a bit will make their days more exciting.

Hopefully exciting enough that they won't notice me being gone when I have to leave again.

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Bullet Sunday 499

Posted on Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Dave!Time to burn this muther to the ground, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• The Government is Not Your Friend. In all seriousness, I wonder what it's going to fucking take before US citizens wake the hell up to how their privacy rights are being chipped away by elected officials. Our bought-and-paid-for-Senators just voted to undo internet privacy regulations, which means that you ISP can sell your browsing history to advertisers. Our privacy is up for grabs, and fuckers in the GOP are the pimps making it happen. Might want to look into a VPN to protect yourself before this gets run through the House.

   
• GET OUT! I'm just going to chime in with the vast majority of critics and say that Get Out is one of the best films this year...

Get Out Movie Poster

Jordan Peele has absolutely killed it. So far as suspense thrillers go, this is a tough movie to top. Easily going to make y "Best Of" list for 2017. Go see it!

   
• Final Dimensions? Rumors have been swirling that my favorite game of the moment... LEGO Dimensions is getting canceled. Back in January I was dismissive of such rumors. But now? Evidence is mounting.

LEGO Dimensions Super Friends

Needless to say... this sucks if it's true. Sucks hard. The sets that have been coming out lately are better than ever, and a lot of fun to play. More sets for properties like Beetlejuice, Powderpuff Girls, and Teen Titans GO! have been delayed, but are still on the way, so there's that. But still... I hope we're getting even more sets before LEGO hangs it up.

   
• Headlines. So... when you see a headline like this pop up in your newsfeed...

State Senator Found with Teenage Boy in Hotel Room

You have to guess... will this be some godless liberal senator scumbag with no moral values... or will it be a "family values" Christian who supports anti-gay, anti-trans legislation? Lets find out together, shall we?

State senator found with teenage boy in hotel room.

Big fucking surprise. It's the "family values" Christian who ends up being the fucking pervert. YET AGAIN! It's always these assholes getting caught texting things like "I'm gonna fuck you like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy." They can't seem to help themselves. Which is why every fucking time I see some politician asshole going out of their way to shit all over LGBT equality, I automatically expect they're fucking pedophiles. And history seems to back this up.

   
• Assemble! Oh goody. Justice League looks like a total rehash of Batman vs. Superman... incomprehensible action sequences strung together with boring shit nobody cares about...

At least Zack Snyder is consistent with his suckage.

   
• Gubermint! There's so much fucked up shit going on with our Trump-infused government that I could fire off another fifty bullets just to touch on it. But doing so will probably make me want to blow my head off, so I'll pick just one...

Senate sanctions killing hibernating bears and pups in their den

You can read about it here. What a bunch of fucking monsters we have representing us. If they are willing to treat innocent animals like this, there's no hope for us. None.

   
So over bullets for today.

   

Snow Lapse

Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017

Dave!Call me paranoid, but home security is something that I take very seriously. In addition to having electronic door locks, motion sensors, breakage sensors, trip sensors, and three sets of security cameras, I've got a very cool system that ties it all together with a redundant processor and independent power supply.

One set of cameras has battery backup and records to a secure local location. That way, if the power gets cut or the internet is down, I still have recordings of everything that goes on. The other two sets of cameras record to separate locations in "The Cloud" and are far more fun. The NestCams are my favorite, having really good optics and the best-of-class online storage. I pay for the 10-day option... which is more than I need, but the least you can get... which does have the side-benefit of browsing backwards in time.

This morning as I left for work I noticed that the snow had completely melted from my yard, and made a GIF from snapshots of the past ten days...

Dave Mountain Dissolves!

Pretty amazing given that this shot of my yard was taken on February 8th where the snow was over 6-feet tall and piled out into the street...

Dave Mountain!

Now that the snow has gone, I'm excited to turn my garage into a wood shop once again. In addition to building Catio Phase Two, making my own cat furniture to replace the carpeted monstrosities I have now, and building new kitchen cabinet doors... I also want to rebuild my closet to make use of every bit of available space. I can't believe how inefficient stock closets are. It's like they are built to intentionally waste space and be as inconvenient as possible.

I'm finding a lot of ideas online, but what I really need is a "Pimp My Closet" show on HGTV. Closets are some serious business, yo.

   

Pig Fuckers

Posted on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Dave!Well, as expected, the bought-and-paid-for representatives in The House have voted with the bought-and-paid-for senators in The Senate to strip away privacy protections for internet access. Now the legislation will be passed to President Trump so he can sign off on it.

Everything you are online will soon be in the hands of your Internet Service Provider.

Who will sell everything from your browser history to your location data to whomever will pay for it. And, believe me folks, they will.

Read it and weep.

The Republican spin about how this is a Good Thing is total bullshit. There is nothing more important than your privacy when it comes to the internet. There cannot be enough protections to ensure your privacy on the internet. Any claims to the contrary can be nothing but bullshit.

So... be sure to look into a VPN if you plan on browsing the internet in the future.

Also... please pardon the mess at Blogography for a while. I'm switching the entire site over to an SSL security certificate, so images, videos, and such will probably be messed up until I get everything sorted. If you check the URL in your browser address bar, you'll see that Blogography is now HTTPS secure. You can hover over the badge at the bottom of my sidebar to verify it.

Next up? Killing off net neutrality, I'm sure.

UPDATE: Here's a handy list of how much your senators and representatives were paid to sell out your privacy. Pig fuckers, every one of them. But especially The Right Dishonorable Cathy McMorris-Rogers and the Right Dishonorable Daniel Newhouse, Representatives from my Great State of Washington. Enjoy the tens of thousands of dollars you took in betrayal of your fellow Washingtonians and their privacy, assholes.

   

You’re Better Than This

Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Dave!Jenny?

Can I have your attention please?

Are you listening to me, Jenny?

Jenny is Not Impressed

Every morning you bring me a tribute in exchange for my feeding you. It's unnecessary, but I like to encourage this kind of thinking.

Over the past year, you've really put your heart into the task, and I want you to know how much that's appreciated. Hauling a bunch of toys upstairs every day in an effort to please me is dedication you should be proud of, right?

Jenny is Not Impressed

But lately I've noticed a decline in the quality of your morning tribute, and I'm a bit disappointed in you.

Did you hear me, Jenny? I'm disappointed.

Jenny is Not Impressed

I mean, look at what you brought this morning! Just one tired old toy, a ratty tan mouse, and that's it...

Jenny is Not Impressed

Sad! You're not a slacker, so why are you acting like one? You're better than this! If you're going to do something, don't you think you should give it your best effort?

Jenny is Not Impressed

Me too!

Are we agreed that you're going to step up your game? That you're going to take a little less time sleeping, eating, and pooping... and a little more time improving the quality of your work?

Jenny is Not Impressed

Alrighty then, I'm glad to hear it!

Good talk, Jenny. Good talk.

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Some Seeds

Posted on Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Dave!Oh look!

That cat I planted has finally sprouted!


FakeJake!

   
Guess that means Spring is finally here...

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Antarctic Preparations

Posted on Friday, March 31st, 2017

Dave!Eight months from now, assuming everything goes as planned, I will be heading out to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling to Antarctica.

I haven't really thought about everything I have to do before the trip is underway, but it's something I know needs to be planned out. Soon. And, in an effort to get my head around it, I made a first step by purchasing some notebooks to document my journey. Specifically, the Field Notes Expedition Edition notebooks, which I have in my nightstand...

Field Notes!

These notebooks are made out of some kind of indestructible "paper" that is waterproof, tear-proof, nuclear-bomb-proof, and so on.

But the coolest thing about them? They have maps of Antarctica on the backs!

Field Notes!
Photo taken from JetPens, which sells the notebooks here!

   
Now I just need to make my final payment. Book my airline tickets. Book my hotel stay over. Buy my expedition clothing. Get a waterproof bag for my camera equipment. Buy a second camera body. And about a gazillion other things.

Eight months and counting...

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April, Rick, and Morty

Posted on Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Dave!Hey! What a nice surprise!

A new Rick and Morty episode was released on April Fool's Day!


Rick & Morty!

   
I love this show.

Seeing the Season 3 premiere months(?) early just makes me want to watch the past two seasons all over again.

   

Bullet Sunday 500

Posted on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Dave!You may be thinking that after 499 Bullet Sundays I'd be giving up! But never fear, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Whedon! I am beside myself with hope... JOSS WHEDON IS GOING TO DIRECT A BATGIRL MOVIE! Which is both really great... and incredibly odd. Great, because Whedon may actually end up with a seriously good take on the character... odd because you'd think he'd hit Marvel up for a Black Widow movie, since he's already played around in that universe. Especially since Black Widow is, potentially at least, a much more interesting character.

Oh well. I'll take Whedon BatGirl...

It's BatGirl!

Hopefully he'll make it a fun film instead of glomming onto the absurdly shitty "dark" DC Comics cinematic disasters that Zack Snyder has crapped out of his ass. Nobody wants that.

What I would like is a LEGO BatGirl movie...

It's BatGirl!

How awesome would that be?

   
• Homecoming. I swear... it's as if Marvel doesn't know how to fail...

This trailer looks like we're getting not only an amazing Spidey-film... but we're also getting a film that's firmly entrenched in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At last. Can't wait!

   
• Besson! I know I'm pining away in vain at the idea of a sequel for The Fifth Element... but I guess Luck Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is as close as we're going to get...

It certainly looks like compelling sci-fi. Here's hoping.

   
• Funneh. Anybody out there watching Trial and Error? I find it surprisingly entertaining and quite funny...

MURDER BOARD! MURDER BOARD! MURDER BOARD!

   
• Guess. Okay then... will the pedophile principal be a godless liberal from a public school... or a God-fearing Christian from a private Christian school? Let's read and find out together, shall we?

Tulsa School Principal Arrested For Child Pornography.

Big fucking surprise... it's the God-fearing Christian. YET AGAIN. And yet over and over again we're told it's trans persons using bathrooms that's the big danger. It's homosexual teachers that's the big danger. It's gay characters in cartoon movies that's the big danger. Anything to distract people from the actual fucking danger that kids have to face. Give me a fucking break.

   
• Song Like You. My current earworm...

Just 18 years old. Amazing.

   
And... onwards towards another 500 Bullet Sundays.

   

Critical Repairs

Posted on Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Dave!My Blogography posting has been erratic this past week because my laptop had to be sent in for repairs. After five years, my MacBook Pro's keyboard would randomly refuse to type R, T, Y, U, I, and O. Eventually it went from "randomly" to "constantly," so... game over.

Rather than do a backup and restore, I decided to wipe the drive and start over from scratch. This is an easy thing to do since all my data and files are stored online (mostly on DropBox and iCloud). All I have to do is reinstall the apps I'm actually going to use and my data will magically transfer back to my local drive from The Cloud. The end.

Ain't technology grand?

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PUNY HUMANS BEWARE!

Posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Dave!BEST!

ANNOUNCEMENT!

EVER!


   
Oh how I've been dreaming of this day.

   

All Those Yesterdays

Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Dave!Last year was tough. This year looks to be more of the same, but for different reasons.

And more of the same reasons. Of course.

A wise person would probably put some effort into diffusing that which was assaulting them, but I'm too damn tired. Far easier to just try not thinking about it and go on with life...

Jake Don't Care!

So here's to life.

Such as it is.

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Vapor In The Shell

Posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Dave!The ScarJo Ghost in the Shell film was a weird amalgam of the original anime movies (based on the manga), the TV series, and a new story arc for the main character. I didn't hate it... and it was very pretty to look at... but the film itself was kinda boring. Maybe it's because I was so familiar with the source material, but it felt like the film was all future-city fly-overs, expositional dialogue, and a misguided attempt to make some kind of statement on technology that completely missed the target. The action beats were good (and pretty faithful), but not enough to elevate the film to any level of excitement for me...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

The whole whitewashing issue was not as bothersome as I expected... I mean, I get why they felt the need to do it... but it was disappointing just the same that they didn't give the role to a Japanese actor. Yes, they wrote an explanation for it into the film as a central theme, but it was still kind of half-assed. How frickin' sweet would it have been to get Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) or Chiaki Kuriyama (Go Go Yubari!) as The Major?

Oh well. It didn't end up mattering. The film is bombing despite the star casting, so I guess that's that.

Major, out.

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Rogue One Redux

Posted on Friday, April 7th, 2017

Dave!To 3D or not to 3D?

Before James Cameron's Avatar, I was firmly against 3D movies. They always looked like crap and tended to be more of a distraction than an enhancement to the film. But then Avatar did 3D right. It was stunning. It added to the entertainment value of the movie. I decided to start taking a look at the rash of 3D films that followed... and was disappointed. Unlike Cameron, who developed special 3D cameras, the vast majority of films were "post-processed" into "fake 3D" that were headache-inducing garbage.

But then things started to change.

Even though most films were still not filmed in 3D, they were shot with 3D conversion in mind. The end result just kept getting better and better. Unfortunately, theaters didn't keep up. Faulty equipment and old projector bulbs meant 3D movies were dark and muddy. Even though the films themselves were looking great, you rarely got to see them that way. I gave up on 3D for a second time.

And then I got a 3D television and Blu-Ray player.

After a few "test" 3D films, I became more and more impressed with what I was seeing. After a while, any major movie I had to own was purchased in 3D. It's more expensive, but you often get the iTunes digital version along with it, so it seemed worth the investment.

I mention all this, because I just got Star Wars: Rogue One on 3D Blu-Ray, and while the movie is fantastic, the 3D quality seems to be going backwards. Instead of the stunning 3D conversion we got with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this film is bland by comparison. The 3D is weak, dark, muddy, and even a bit blurry...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

   
Given how much I loved the movie and how high my expectations were after the last Star Wars 3D Blu-Ray release, this was a major disappointment. Especially given that it cost a whopping $30 plus tax.

Before I get to my spoiler-ridden observations, I think it would be helpful to explain just how much I loved Rogue One by putting it into context of the other movies...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Poster!

   
Yes. You are seeing this correctly... I put it above the original Star Wars. It's that good. Heavy on awesome special effects, but with a story that doesn't get overwhelmed by them. Flawlessly cast and faithful to the original "world" in just about every way.

If you haven't seen it yet, don't go any further. If you have, my thoughts are in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
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Caturday 20

Posted on Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Dave!Jake has started thinking he's the Alpha Cat of the house.

I don't know when the shift occurred, and it's not always consistent, but it's as if he realized that he's got four pounds on his sister and decided to take advantage of it. Sometimes. Other times he just can't be bothered...

Kitties!
Jenny was birdwatching and Jake snuck up on her. Surprise.

Mostly this Alpha Cat mentality manifests itself on the kitty tower.

Jenny always wants the top perch. If Jake's already on it, she'll take a lower perch, but it's the top one she prefers. Jake doesn't care which perch he's on. But 50% of the time when Jenny is on the top one, he'll knock her out of it just because he can. Sometimes she'll fight him for a little while, but eventually she relents.

This is not to say that Jenny is putting up with Jake's delusions of grandeur. She not only stands up to him when it suits her, she is not above jacking up Jake's shit on a daily basis...

Kitties!
She ended up nailing him good... he didn't know what hit him.

I just feel lucky that they still get along.

Needless to say, as the weather gets better and better the cats are spending more and more time out in the catio. They're even napping out there when the sun is shining. I only hope that if Jenny pukes from the bugs she's eating, that she pukes out there as well.

I think next weekend is the weekend I set up the garage as my wood shop. Then I'll be adding even more catio fun. The construction of which will be fun for me too.

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Bullet Sunday 501

Posted on Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Dave!You may be thinking that after 500 Bullet Sundays I'd be giving up! But never fear, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Target! Well, shit! All this time I've been waiting for the Victoria Beckham collection to debut at Target. It finally drops, and I find out it's WOMEN ONLY! What the hell?!?

Victoria Beckham Target

Oh well... I promised I'd buy something nice when it the Beckham Collection was released, and I'm going to keep that promise. Good thing it's at Target where I know I can use the bathroom after changing into my new frock de Posh Spice.

   
• Something For Everyone! I'm not going to weigh in on the dumbass Pepsi commercial bullshit with Kendall Jenner... everything that needs to be said about it has been said. I just wondered over and over how in the hell the concept managed to get greenlit in the first place. And now, thanks to Saturday Night Live, we have that insight...

Probably. Probably.

   
• THE FACTOR! And speaking of SNL... holy crap! Alec Baldwin not only has a terrific President Trump, but a flawless Bill O'Reilly as well!

If only he would permanently join the cast. I mean, seriously, SNL ratings are higher than ever, and he's a perfect fit.

   
• Dreamy! Somehow I missed this one?

I need more dream pop in my life.

   
• Hannity! Yeah. Just going to leave this right here...

Victoria Beckham Target

Agenda-ramming asshole.

   
And... Bullets B Gone.

   

United Airlines Hates You

Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017

Dave!There are few businesses I loathe more than United Airlines.

They are a shitty, shitty company and just about every experience I've ever had with them has been a bad one. I stopped flying them because they lost my luggage twice in four flights and were unbelievably shitty to me as I attempted to get it back. Then, after nearly a decade, I finally flew them again. Not only did they lose my suitcase right out of the gate and treat me shitty for it... they then charged me to check it back home, even though I never got to use it my entire trip.

I detest these fuckers. Absolutely detest them.

Which is why I experienced zero shock when I saw that they had forcibly removed one of their paying customers from a flight they overbooked...

Now... before we go any further...

Most all airlines overbook their flights whenever they can.

The reason being is that they know that a certain number of people will cancel flights or change their ticket or arrive too late to make their flights or whatever. They're just trying to make sure that planes go out full, because that's what needs to happen for them to make money.

It's for this reason that I heavily advocate getting a seat assignment in advance and checking in for a flight the minute you are able to do so. That way, you're all set in the event that a flight is oversold. It will be somebody who didn't get a seat or check in early that gets left behind in an oversell situation (assuming the airline can't get volunteers to take a later flight).

Or so I assumed.

From the looks of things here, the guy had his seat assignment. So I honestly don't know what's going on. If United knew they needed crew on the flight, why didn't they handle this fiasco before boarding took place? You simply do not remove somebody from the plane like this. If you oversell a flight, you deny the person who didn't get a seat assignment and then lavish money and gifts on them out of compensation... before boarding.

But this is the fuckers at United Airlines we're talking about, and so...

...not a big surprise that this is how they decided to handle the situation.

United Airlines Hates You.

And guess what? Every time you fly with this heinous shithole of an airline, you're empowering them to keep hating on you... along with every other person flying with them...

Find a different way to fly.

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Lil’ Spicey

Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

   

Superior Market

Posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Dave!Living in the wilds of Reneckistan as I do, there are certain pros and cons that one has to accept. In the "pros" column are things like "no traffic" and "breathable air." In the "cons" list are things like "NO TRADER JOE'S FOR YOU!"

I love awesome grocery stores. Stores like Wegman's... Mariano's... and (more logical for my area) Trader Joe's. Mostly because awesome grocery stores have a terrific selection of interesting vegetarian foods that your typical grocery chain does not. In the case of Trader Joe's, it's things like their amazing black bean and jack cheese burrito... or their frozen pizzas... or their frozen tamales... or their veggie chili... or their soy chorizo... or their veggie spring rolls... or their veggie wraps... or their toasted almond slivers... or their... well, you get the picture.

A considerably better selection of great foods I can eat than what I have access to now.

But, alas, the nearest Trader Joe's is 2-1/2 hours away.

Which is why I regularly send store requests like this one to corporate...

I'm tired of having to drive 2-1/2 hours to shop at Trader Joe's! Is the reason you don't have a store in Wenatchee because our locations have too much parking available?

I suppose I should explain about the parking thing.

Trader Joe's are smaller stores. They carry a fraction of the products that a "regular" store does. Because of this, they are often built in smaller spaces. And, given their popularity, there's never enough parking spots.

Never.

At least for the half-dozen stores I've been to.

Anyway...

I was just sitting here watching the latest episode of The Talk, craving something from Trader Joe's, and felt you should feel my pain.

You're welcome.

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Kickstart My Dick

Posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Dave!You know when you try to be all edgy and cool by using the slang phrases that you hear the kids using now-a-days, but it backfires horribly?

Like that time "Netflix and Chill" doesn't mean what you think it means...

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

   
I mean, seriously, Google That Shit.

   
UPDATE! Thanks to Canadia's Favorite Blogger (who is apparently no longer blogging?), I found out that they've updated their ad...

Lil' Spicey's Last Press Conference

Apparently they're dead-set on watching Netflix... sex or no sex.

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A Good Friday

Posted on Friday, April 14th, 2017

Dave!And so I've finally converted my garage to a woodworking shop for the season.

Now it's just a matter of working through the projects on my list for 2017...

  • Built-in desk for reading nook (with printer cart).
  • Back patio fence
  • Back patio bird feeder pole.
  • Catio run to sun room extension.
  • Catio grass bed and toy wall.
  • Catio climber/scratcher posts.
  • New farmhouse bed for guest bedroom.
  • Wall bed for  office  cat's play room.
  • Closet shelving and organizer.
  • New kitchen cupboard and drawer facings.
  • Living room kitty condo.
  •  Office  cat's play room kitty condo.
  • Collapsible wall-mount tool bench.
  • Collapsible miter saw and table saw closet.

How many projects I get through depends on how much time I can scrape together over the summer.

But I'm starting now.

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Caturday 21

Posted on Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Dave!Originally, my guest room was upstairs next to my bedroom. Eventually I decided to move the guest room downstairs so that everybody has a bit more privacy. This left me with an empty room that I decided to turn into an office.

And so I moved a desk and some shelving into the spare room and all was good.

Except the cats decided that they wanted the room. Anything I put in there was immediately thrown on the floor and shredded.

I finally got the message and removed my office stuff. Then I tossed in a litter box, some toys, and a couple cat tunnels. The cats wasted no time taking it over. They have their own play room now and they love it.

And while I usually work from the couch so I can watch television, every once in a while I still need a desk to work at. And so I dug out the laminated slab from my garage that used to be at the head of my stairs... extended it... re-covered it in leftover wood from my floors... then bolted it to the walls.

Voilà... my beautiful new desk...

Built-In Nook Desk

Built-In Nook Desk

I then built a roly cart for my laser printer since I didn't have room for it on the desktop.

Needless to say, Jake and Jenny wasted no time taking over my new office space. Just like they have every other space in the house.

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Bullet Sunday 502

Posted on Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Dave!Sure it's Easter, but there are other reasons to celebrate the day, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Kitty! Everything I love about cats can be found in this one clip of a kitty trying to escape the field at a Marlins game...

What a trooper! Apparently a Marlins' employee adopted the cat, who was named "Don Cattingly" in a Twitter poll.

   
• Kedi! And, speaking of cats...

Can't believe I have to wait until November for this to come out on video!

   
• Atomic! Okay... putting aside the fact that the trailer for Atomic Blonde features music by both Depeche Mode and New Order... how badly does watching this make me want to see the movie?

Charlize Theron should be in a lot more movies.

   
• Ragnarok! Speaking of movie trailers... how amazing is the latest Thor movie looking?

I'm part of the minority who actually likes the Thor films. The first one was really great at establishing the characters. The second stumbled quite a bit, but was still entertaining. But this? Probably the best Thor yet. Possibly one of the best Marvel films yet.

   
• Spicey! Melissa McCarthy is hosting SNL on May 15th. I'm hoping it's just an hour-and-a-half of her impersonating Sean Spicer, playing out the best of his ongoing fuck-ups. Verbatim. In the meanwhile, we have yet another flawless sketch from last night's episode...

What a big, beautiful slice of chocolate cake.

   
• Politics! The more you know about how politics work in this country, the more you think that we should burn the entire system to the ground and start over...

Politicians don't act in the best interest of those they represent because they don't have to. That's the underlying reason we're as fucked as we are.

   
Now go eat some eggs, you animal.

   

Welcome to 1982

Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2017

Dave!Back in the early days of personal computing, the World Wide Web didn't exist. Even after it was invented it took a while before it was in wide use, and even longer before it had the ungodly amount of stuff available as we know it today.

So when you were a computer hobbyist in the 1980's like I was, most of your information about what was new and cool in the world of computers came from hanging out at your local computer shop or, more likely... magazines.

As a computer fanatic, I subscribed to a lot of magazines. I started out as an "Atari" guy, which meant my primary source for news, information, education, and such came from ANALOG and Antic magazines. After a while STart and ST-LOG were added. I also subscribed to more "generic" magazines like COMPUTE!, Creative Computing, and Computer Shopper.

These magazines were also the way that companies advertised their products.

Most of the time there was more information available than what could effectively be presented in an ad, so there was a note at the bottom which said something like "For more information, circle 117 on reader service card."...

Ad with Reader Serice Card Number

You'd then hunt down a postcard in the middle of the magazine with numbers all over it so you could circle all the products you were interested in and fill up your mailbox with even more computer-related crap...

Reader Serice Card Number

There were days that my family's mailbox was so packed with magazines and literature I had requested that I had to take a box to carry it all. I'd then spend the rest of my day looking through info on all the crap my heart desired... that I could never afford.

Now, of course, most of my computer news comes from computer news websites and product information on anything I could possibly be interested in is just a click away.

Convenient, sure... but not nearly as much fun.

Keeping this in mind, let's revisit that ad scan I posted above...

Ad with Reader Serice Card Number

It's a company advertising a custom printer-driver so that you can access printer features from within Atari Writer (an Atari word processor). If you read the fine print, you'll note that you can't call in an order using a credit card. You have to send a check or money order to them, then they'll send the driver to you. You'll also note that there is no web address where you could go online to purchase and download the driver immediately. The World Wide Web didn't exist to make that possible.

Heck, email didn't even exist back then, so there was no way you could get the driver sent to you directly either. Not that early email systems made it easy to send attachments.

And yet... if you were into computers back in the 1980's, none of this was horrible. Back then, personal computing technology was a daily dose of actual magic, and getting stuff you ordered via the post office was an event on-par with Christmas morning.

Something I'm trying to remind myself now that my MacBook's GPU hardware is trashed, and it will have to be sent in... again... for repairs.

Welcome to 1982.

Which would be awful except my phone has a computer in it. That's today's equivalent of actual magic, and something I take for granted every time I look at it.

Which is pretty sad considering the phone I used as a kid was wired to the wall and came with a rotary dial you had to use to make a call.

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A Flashback and Steve Jobs

Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Dave!This morning when I stepped into the shower, my foot hit the cold tile and I immediately had a flashback to my vacation in Fiji. This is not unusual... most people have experienced sights or smells or other sensations which trigger memories. But usually it's a memory that makes sense. And I could not for the life of me figure out how my foot stepping on cold tile could be associated with Fiji when everything in Fiji is hot. At best, the apartment I stayed at was cool. Nothing in it, including the tile, was cold. So what they heck?

It was an hour later as I was packing up my junk to go to work that it dawned on me...

Steve Jobs.

Last night I had finally gotten around to watching the movie Steve Jobs which was a fascinating (albeit fictional) look at my all-time favorite personal hero. And while people who knew Steve said that it didn't reflect reality and the character in the movie seemed far more hostile and cruel than the Real Steve Jobs (especially later in life where he mellowed quite a bit), it was nevertheless an entertaining movie. Michael Fassbender was a compelling and charismatic Jobs and, much to my surprise, Kate Winslet completely nailed playing Joanna Hoffman. Getting Seth Rogan to play Woz and Jeff Daniels for John Sculley was just icing on the cake. Loved the movie. I give it five stars.

And so... Fiji.

I had been snorkeling with sea snakes and sharks then cruising with dolphins. The boat had just returned to the shallows where I was getting ready to trudge across the mud-flats back to shore. My iPhone, which was safely stored in a waterproof tote, came into cellular range and beeped. There was a text message waiting for me. A text I dreaded, because it was likely bad news. Eventually I made it back to the scuba shop and fished my mobile out of the bag.

It was a text from my brother telling me that Steve Jobs had died.

My feet were still wet. I was standing in the shade on terra cotta tile made cold thanks to a box fan blowing on it.

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Sony a9

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Dave!Photography is a hobby I absolutely love... but rarely have time to pursue.

Indeed, it seems the only time I get to delve into serious photography is when I'm on vacation. The rest of the time I'm shooting stuff with my iPhone because it's always on me and oh so handy. The iPhone also produces fairly good images, which makes it infinitely more appealing for snapshots than having to drag the Sony a7S Mark II out of my camera bag.

I mean, seriously... this was shot years ago with my iPhone 4...

Wenatchee River Fall Colors

Yes, you read that right... an iPhone 4. Which can't even touch what images you can get out of the iPhone 7s that's out right now.

And, yet... I'm not going to get shots like this from an iPhone...

Hwange Giraffe

Which is why I continue to invest in camera gear. Sure it sits in my closet most of the year, but those times I actually get to shoot with it? Magic.

Because I mostly only shoot on vacation, it's my travels that drive my photography purchases. I know I'm going to be shooting scenery in Vietnam, so I buy a new lens for that. I know I'm going to be going on safari night-drives in Zimbabwe, so I buy a new camera body for that. And so on. And so on.

Photography is an expensive hobby to have.

And today Sony announced the next evolution in their professional mirrorless camera line... the a9...

Needless to say, I'm in love.

Not only does the a9 have some astounding new features that I'll actually use... it also addresses some of the shortcomings of the a7 models that were so frustrating. Like dual media slots. And touch-screen operation. And a LAN port with FTP. And a battery that's worth a shit.

And while I rarely shoot video, the 4K footage (down sampled from 6K!) is pretty amazing...

It's pretty much a dream camera... though I'm sure they'll be coming out with an a9S sometime down the line that will add even more honey to the pot.

There are two problems, however.

First of all, Sony's lack of longer lenses makes the sport and wildlife features kind of moot. Yes, they're going to release a G-series 100-400mm for $2,500 in July... and that will definitely help... but that's all there is. That's the most reach you'll get out of Sony. Sure you can add a $550 extender to double that, but it's a less than ideal scenario for serious sport and wildlife shooters. Not a deal-breaker from my shooting perspective, but until the big glass arrives, the market for the true potential of the a9's capabilities is waiting.

A far bigger problem for me, however is the price.

All $4,500 of it.

Now, don't get me wrong, the specs on this beast of a camera are better than what you can get out of cameras from Canon and Nikon that are far more expensive. I absolutely acknowledge that. But $4,500 for something I'm not going to use very often is a tough thing to justify.

And yet...

I think back to many of the trips I've taken, and I would have killed for this camera. I think forward to the Antarctica trip I'm going to be taking in December, and I know the a9 coupled with the 100-400mm lens would be put to very good use. Heck, in many ways, it's the best possible camera I could take. And given all the money I've had to scrimp and save to even get to Antarctica, isn't that worth the investment?

I dunno.

Maybe I rent one. Or buy the camera and rent the lens. And then sell the camera when I get back if I find I'm not using it as much as I'd like. There are options. All of them expensive.

But maybe.

I guess we'll see how broke I am by the time I've finished paying for my upcoming vacation.

   

Getting Away From It All

Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Dave!The reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is not to buy a bunch of expensive crap.

If a billion dollars were to suddenly drop in my lap, I don't know that I would get a new house. Or even a new car. Living in a palace and driving a Ferrari just don't interest me. Neither does accumulating a lot of expensive crap. So long as I can afford a laptop, a nice camera, and an iPhone... I'm pretty much done.

No, the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy is so I don't have to work and can spend the rest of my life traveling the world.

Not that I haven't found a way to travel the world now... but there are experiences that require time and money I will never have that haunt my travel dreams.

Take, for example, Tristan da Cunha

Located in the middle of nowhere in the South Atlantic, this small island is one of the most remote places on earth...

Tristan da Cunha Map

It's so remote that the only way to get there is by ship. Which takes six days.

Luckily, ships are making runs to Tristan da Cunha somewhat monthly out of Cape Town (though the dates of departure/return are not set in stone and can move depending on numerous factors). The return passenger fare is under $700 USD, which is a pretty decent price, all things considered. I would not count on luxury digs, however, as the two ships currently making the run are a fishing ship and a cargo ship.

And there's more!

Space on the two ships is limited. And non-resident tourist passengers have the lowest possible priority. If somebody is sick and needs to get off the island for medical reasons? You get bumped. If somebody on official island business needs to leave at the last minute? You get bumped. If somebody on the island decides they want to holiday in Cape Town? You get bumped. What this means is that you can schedule a trip to arrive at Tristan da Cunha on May 22nd then return to Cape Town on May 28th... and end up leaving on June 2nd and returning August 23rd (or longer!).

So to visit, not only do you need to have the time and money to sit around Cape Town waiting for a ship... you also have to have the time and money to sit around Tristan da Cunha waiting for a ship.

OR... you can try to book a cruise ship.

Apparently there are cruises that sail the South Atlantic from time to time. They run between Ushuaia (South America) and Cape Town (Africa). They last two weeks and cost over ten thousand dollars... so, again... time and money required.

OR... if you're a billionaire?

I'd imagine you could go wherever the hell you want. Charter an entire ship to get to/from Tristan da Cunha if you want to. The world is your oyster.

And that's the reason I want to be obscenely wealthy.

   

That Stuff You Like

Posted on Friday, April 21st, 2017

Dave! There was a meme going around Facebook a while back where people listed their favorite "stuff"... excluding essentials like food, shelter, eyeglasses, and such... as well as living beings like friends, family, and pets.

The first time I saw the meme, it was supposed to be "stuff" from when you were a kid. This would be an easy list to make, featuring things like comic books, video games, a bicycle, and the like. Then the meme came around again but this time it was for "stuff" as an adult, which seemed little more complex.

But not really. Here are my top ten...

  1. Passport. Traveling the world has been the gift that keeps giving. Of all the "stuff" I have, this is probably the one thing that means the most to me.
  2. iPhone. While being in constant contact with the world is both a blessing and a curse, my life has gotten so much easier... so much better... because of my iPhone. The thing I love most about it is the freedom. So many things, both for work and for my personal life, are possible most everywhere I go. Whether it's being able to login to an FTP server and transfer a file... or being able to call up a map when I'm lost... I can do almost anything when I have an iPhone and a mobile data connection. I try not to take it for granted, but it's so integrated into my life that I inevitably do so. And then there's the camera. So many moments would have never been captured without the awesome (and super-handy) camera in my phone.
  3. MacBook Pro. Even though mine has been giving me fits lately, having a laptop powerful enough to unchain me from a desk is something I'm grateful for almost every day.
  4. Garage. In the winter I love having a garage so I don't have to clean snow off my car every morning. It's also nice to have a place to store stuff. And come summer I can convert the space to a wood shop. I've never had a garage before buying a home, and having to go back to life without one would be tough.
  5. Catio. It was important to me if I got cats that they would be indoor cats because it's so much safer for them given where I live. But because I am gone to work all day and travel a lot, I worried an exclusively indoor life wouldn't offer much stimulation for them... regardless of how many toys I bought. A catio is the ultimate compromise. The cats can be outside, but still stay safe. And they are endlessly entertained by everything going on out there, so they hang out in the catio all day long. Probably one of the best investments I've ever made.
  6. Television. I am a big fan of television shows and watching movies at home. Having a nice big TV makes it more of an event.
  7. Refrigerator with Crushed Ice Maker and Filtered Water Dispenser. I love love love crushed ice in my drinks. Not just in summer... all yer long. But short of putting ice in a bag and bashing it with a hammer... or trying to get it to crush in a blender... or buying a bag of the stuff only to have no freezer space to store it or having the ice all stick together in a giant blob if you do... it's just too much of a pain in the ass. Which is why when I got my new place, the first appliance on my list to buy was a refrigerator/freezer with a crushed ice dispenser. The filtered water dispenser is equally nice. I drink more water now than I ever have. So healthy!
  8. Guest Room. It doesn't get used very often, but boy am I grateful to have a very nice guest room when I need one. Especially for elderly family and friends who would be more comfortable in their own room than crashing on a couch like I would. And now I'm putting a wall-bed in  my office  the cat's play room because there's been a couple times that having a second room for guests would have been handy. I hope whomever ends up in that room doesn't mind sharing (though the cats almost always choose to sleep with me).
  9. Power Tools. I love my drill. I love my miter saw. I love my pneumatic nailer. I love my new router. I even love my favorite jigsaw. I may have only started woodworking last year, but it's quickly become my favorite activity. And having a bunch of awesome tools lets my imagination run wild when working on projects.
  10. Photos. Photos of all my trips. Photos of my friends and family. All those memories that photos bring back.

   
Life is easier when you're not attached to physical stuff.

But everything on that list is stuff I'm glad to have in my life.

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Caturday 22

Posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Dave!My cats are frickin' adorable.

I mean, most cats are adorable, but every cat is adorable to their human in different ways. Jake and Jenny are very different cats with entirely different personalities and behaviors. And yet... they somehow still manage to get along. They still play together. They still groom each other. They sometimes still sleep together, though Jake has gotten so big that this isn't as practical as it once was.

While reading through a cat forum recently, I saw that people were posting things about their cats they find adorable. I came up with a list of my own, which I am re-posting here for Caturday...

Jenny Watching Jake Watching Something

  • Both cats run to meet me when I get home from work. But it's Jake that gets so excited he just can't stand it. Yesterday when I got home, I had groceries to unload and Jake got impatient waiting for his daily head scratches. So I look down and he's looking up at me with one one paw stepped into the kitchen... a place he knows he is not supposed to go. I look down and say "Jake, Nnnnoooooooo!"... and he draws the paw back. ADORABLE!
  • When Jenny hears me turn on the shower in the morning, she rushes to the bathroom and patiently waits for me to get out so she can get her head scratches. When I open the door and grab a towel to dry off, Jenny will wait for a minute or two... but start meowing if I don't dry off fast enough. That's already pretty adorable, but last Tuesday she yawned mid-meow and I nearly died it was so cute. ADORABLE!
  • When I climb the stairs, Jake will sometimes go racing past me and stop on the step so he can cut me off and get petted. I'll pet him for a minute then climb over him. If he's not done being petted, he'll race past and cut me off again so I'll have to pet him more. ADORABLE!
  • Jenny's favorite thing is smacking her brother in the face. At first she would wait for him to get settled in for a good poop in the Litter Robot, run up and bitch-slap him, then run off. But eventually she got tired of waiting for Jake to poop, and decided to find other ways of smacking him. The latest? She'll haul ass ahead of Jake up the perches in the catio, wait for him to catch up, then smack him in the face as he makes the last jump. ADORABLE?
  • I think I've mentioned before that Jake can't meow. He just kind of "squawks" instead. Like he opens his mouth wide but can't get anything to come out. It's adorable... but even more adorable is that he doesn't seem to realize he isn't making noise. The other day he wanted my attention, but I just started meowing at him. Each time he'd respond with a longer and longer squawk until I couldn't take it any more and gave him pets. ADORABLE!
  • When I turn off the lights and go to bed, Jenny will follow me up and hop on my bed with me because she wants to watch TV. This happens almost every night, but sometimes I don't feel like watching television and leave it off. Jenny will meow until I turn it on. ADORABLE!

And... I'm out of adorable for today.

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Bullet Sunday 503

Posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Dave!Everybody have a nice Earth Day?

Good! Because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Sikh! Essential viewing...

The more you know...

Sikhism is a fascinating faith that I haven't studied nearly enough.

   
• Kingsman! Holy shit! Going back to insert this in Bullet Sunday because it's just too good. I loved the first film, and it looks like the second is going to be more of the same!

Very cool that the American version of "The Kingsmen" makes their debut... " The Statesmen!" I wonder if a spin-off franchise is at hand? So long as Matthew Vaughn is involved, that's fine by me!

   
• Krypton! Ooh a TV show based on Superman's home planet... Krypton. This could be interesting! Wonder how faithful they'll be to the source material? Will we get to see the Scarlet Jungle? The Gold Volcano? How about Vathlo Island? The Jewel Mountains? Or even the Red Ocean? Can't wait to find out. The series is being developed at SyFy but, for reasons too fucking stupid to comprehend, they're killing the trailer everywhere it pops up. So I can't share the trailer. I can only share this hilarious reaction video from Double Toasted, which only shows parts of it (NSFW)...

The trailer is getting pretty good buzz. God only knows why SyFy is keeping people from sharing it.

   
• Mountains? When your CAPTCHA tells you to select all the mountain images, so you do... only to find out that they must live in Nebraska and think hills are mountains, which they most certainly are not...

CAPTCH Mountains... Not

#1 and #8 qualify as "mountains"... alrighty then.

   
• These Days! "Take That!" is a band that didn't get huge success here in the US when compared to their home in the UK, where they are massively popular. Even so, I've always liked the band, and was surprised to find out that they released an album back in 2014 that I missed entirely called III. The lead single is a track filled with poppy fun that I can't seem to get out of my head...

Kind of cool how Take That! keeps chugging along even after losing two of their bandmates.

   
• Puppy! And, lastly, your weekly dose of "Awwwww... cute!" is right here...

Amazing how Mother Nature works.

   
And now... I could really use another day of my weekend.

   

Compositional Reality

Posted on Monday, April 24th, 2017

Dave!Did you know that yet another issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine will be debuting this month (hopefully)?

Well, it's true!

And while I don't want to give any of the awesome stories away, I thought I'd take a minute to share one of the art pieces I put together last night.

My favorite way of creating art to accompany a story is to draw, paint, or photograph something of my very own. But there are times that it's just not possible for what I'm trying to communicate. For one particular story in our next issue, I wanted to create a Bon Appetit magazine-style page. My vision was to have a kind of fried fish/prawn hybrid sitting on a plate in a Japanese restaurant... perhaps with a dollop of wasabi on the side. Being a vegetarian who hates seafood, the idea of putting fish parts in my deep-fat fryer filled me with horror, so I decided the best way to get what I wanted was to buy stock photos and assemble them into what I was envisioning.

And so I searched Adobe Stock for the pieces I needed...

Stock Photos

Then downloaded preview images into Photoshop so I could see if they would fit together well...

Rough Comp

Then, once I was happy with all the parts and pieces I found, I'd purchase the full-res photos and get to work. I had to combine three pieces of fried fish/prawns into one... add it to a plate with some wasabi and chopsticks... then paint in shadows to bring it all together and make it look "real-ish"...

Rough Comp

And voilà! A fish-prawn thing is served!

To find out why it's served... you'll have to download the April issue of Thrice Fiction, coming soon!

   

Understated Gravy

Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Dave!   
I like to think that I am a fairly tolerant and accepting person.

   

   

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Gone Flat

Posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Dave!What a shitty day to be me.

Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

And then I ended up with a flat tire on the way home from running some errands. It's kind of mind-boggling that out of 35 years of driving, this is my first flat tire. I've had to change plenty of tires for other people... but this is the first time for myself.

Fortunately my spare had enough air in it to get me home.

Guess what I get to do in the morning?

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Truth is Dead

Posted on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Dave!As I was sitting in the lobby of the tire store waiting for my flat tire to be replaced this morning, I found myself staring at a somewhat-recent(!) issue of TIME magazine.

Which is more like a pamphlet than a magazine anymore, but okay.

The cover, designed in the same style as TIME's infamous "Is God Dead?" cover from 1966, asks the question "Is Truth Dead?"...

TIME Magazine: Is Truth Dead?

   
I didn't even need to crack the cover to know the answer to that. Not only is truth dead, it's been dead for decades.

It's just that now we can all stop pretending.

Not pretending that truth isn't dead.

Pretending that we care.

   

A Day of Dave

Posted on Friday, April 28th, 2017

Dave!Woke up.

Fed the cats.

Took a shower and got dressed.

Drove over the mountains for an appointment.

Went to the appointment.

Had lunch at Qdoba.

Bought a trunk full of groceries at Trader Joes's.

Drove home.

Got distracted by the cats.

Watched television for an hour.

Remembered I had a trunk full of expensive frozen groceries that were melting.

Unloaded groceries.

Fed the cats.

Cooked a thawed frozen Trader Joe's pizza for dinner.

Developed an infinitely-scalable model for quantum theory that doesn't require an infinite number of models to be calculated.

Went to bed.

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Caturday 23

Posted on Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Dave!Cats are still alive and doing well.

So I guess that's a win for me on Caturday then.


Jake

Jenny

   
Probably a sign that I need more cats.

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Bullet Sunday 504

Posted on Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Dave!Time to celebrate another week down the toilet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• DC! I have made no secret of my love of all things coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and my deep loathing of all things coming out of the DC Cinematic Universe. This fan video puts the reason why in vivid relief...

100% accurate. DC has a habit of taking fun, exciting, uplifting hero stories and degrading them to joyless sequences of death and destruction that are a chore to watch. Why in the hell they don't put the team in charge of their TV shows in charge of their movies I will never know. At least they know how to make the characters fun to watch. Justice League, a movie I should be on pins and needles to see, is something I honestly don't give a shit about. Not when we've got Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther coming up. Not to mention Infinity War, which promises to blow the doors off of any super-hero film yet seen.

   
• Piper! I never got to see Finding Dory in theaters, but bought the Blue-Ray in 3D so I could watch it at home. Never had time to explore the "extras" on the disc, but today discovered it has a Pixar Short called Piper included...

That snippet is just the tip of the iceberg. Such a wonderfully adorable bit of animation! Well worth tracking down if you haven't seen it yet.

   
• Tarzan! The novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most imaginative and entertaining reads I've ever experienced. That he started writing them in 1912 just goes to show how incredible a storyteller he was. Between John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes (and a slew of others), he has a wealth of material just begging to be adapted into movies.

And they have been.

Unfortunately, they've mostly sucked. John Carter was a total shit-fest that abandoned everything that made the character so compelling. And Tarzan? In the books he is an extremely intelligent character who speaks dozens of languages and is as accomplished in civilization as Lord Greystoke as he is in the jungle as Tarzan. But what do we get? Every time Tarzan comes to the screen, he's a grunting ignoramus that barely knows how to speak because he's written more as an animal than a man. For any Tarzan fan it's a massive disappointment, and I'd all but given up hope that we'd ever get an adaptation of The Lord of The Jungle that wasn't crap. Enter The Legend of Tarzan...

Now, this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a flawless adaptation of Tarzan. But holy crap... it's the closest thing I've yet seen, and I loved it. All that plus it has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in it! And gone are the days of Tarzan being a stupid savage! Hell, they even made an effort for Jane to be more than a damsel in perpetual distress! Sure the CGI, which actually started out quite good, ultimately degrades to a level that was below-par, but it didn't destroy how much I enjoyed watching the story unfold. So... ignore the critics. If you like Tarzan... the REAL Tarzan... this is a film that's definitely worth a look!

   
• TRADER JOE'S CONSUMER ALERT!
"Have you got any more Black Bean and Jack Cheese burritos? I took the last two."
"I think that's all we got. Have you tried the Super Burrito? It's the same except it's made with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Really good."
"Okay, I'll try it, thanks!"

And so tonight I decided to have a late lunch /slash/ early dinner and give it a try. I take a bite and it's not bad... light on the sweet potato and heavy on the quinoa... but it's got a nice spicy bite to it. And then... AND THEN... I take another bite and there's something crunchy/leafy/weird. Is that spinach, I wonder? I dig the wrapper out of the garbage and... IT'S NOT SPINACH... IT'S FUCKING KALE!

Trader Joe's Super Burrito HAS FUCKING KALE IN IT!!!!!

TRADER JOE'S TRICKED ME INTO EATING KALE AND NOW I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO DIE!!!

KALE!!!!!!! GAH!!!!

Needless to say, I am not in a good place right now, and I appreciate everybody's understanding as I attempt to mentally and physically recover from this tragedy. I will soon be setting up a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with the massive costs involved in getting me healthy again. WAAAAAHHH!!!! WHO PUTS KALE IN A BURRITO?!? WHY, LORD? WHYYYYYYY?!?.

   
• Let's Play! Alrighty then... time once again to play the "Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

JUDGE ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING OF A MINOR.

Oh yeah. Big fucking surprise... he's not only Tea Party and Ku Klux Klan supporter, but also a former Trump campaign chair! Because disgusting shit like this is only bad when Democrats are doing it, I guess? Republicans do this kind of heinous shit and "their base" elects them to the school board!

BONUS ROUND!
"Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

GOVERNOR RESIGNS AMID SEX SCANDAL.

Hmmm... let me guess...

   
• Bullshit! And lastly, an article that's well-worth a read, regardless of religious affiliation is here: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies. Because, look... so long as you can walk into a post office and buy a stamp with Jesus on it for Christmas... I've had just about enough of this bullshit notion that Christians are some kind of persecuted class and there's a war on Christian ideology. As somebody who is not a Christian and sees just how pervasive the religion is in dominating so many aspects of American culture, it's embarrassing that people are trying to keep this one alive. And yet FOX "News" is undoubtedly already warming up new ideas to make "The War on Christmas" become something out of nothing again. Because what plays better than victimization on TV?

   
Time to reload...

   

Thrice Fiction No. 19

Posted on Monday, May 1st, 2017

Dave!Hey! Yesterday was the last day of April!

It was also the last day RW and I had to get our "April" issue of Thrice Fiction released, which we did. It's our nineteenth installment of everybody's favorite lit-mag. A fact I bring up because I still remember being told not once... but many times... that we'd never last past our first year because most endeavors like this are doomed to failure.

But not us, baby.

You can take a look at it over at ThriceFiction.com and, in a first for us, you can also read it online! No special browser plug-in needed! In fact, all nineteen issues are available for reading or download absolutely FREE!

Thrice Fiction Magazine Issue No. 19

That amazing cover is courtesy of frequent Thrice Fiction contributor Katelin Kinney. Beautiful, isn't it?

The insides are equally wonderful... filled with great stories and terrific artwork from a bunch of talented people.

So what are you waiting for? Go get some!

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Riding the Crazy Train

Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Dave!I spend entirely too much time questioning my sanity lately.

Every time I turn on the television, any time I go online, any time I am exposed to the world... I feel like I'm taking crazy pills...


   
For heaven's sake... just go play some golf or something. Yes it costs taxpayers millions, but at least you aren't fucking embarrassing the country or taking us closer to World War III.

   

Told You

Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Dave!   
I'm so done with it all.


Lil' Dave's Mind is Blown

   

   

I Feel Healthier Already

Posted on Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Dave!The hypocrisy of Paul Ryan would be comical if it weren't for the lethal consequences of all his fucking bullshit.

I could go on for pages about what a massive betrayal the new "health care" plan is for the American people, but I'm just too damned tired. So here's Seth Meyers, again, to put it all into perspective...

As for the bill itself? Jesus...

The only possible up-side to all this crap is that once people understand how anybody who isn't young, healthy, and rich are completely fucked, maybe these douchebags will finally be voted out of office.

   

Travel Day

Posted on Friday, May 5th, 2017

Dave!And so I'm off to Denver.

But first I had errands Seattle-side, so I had to get up early for the drive over. Which wasn't easy, because I could not get any sleep last night. No idea why. Can't even blame it on the cats, because they were fast asleep at the foot of the bed.

I finally got up at 5:30am because I was tired of staring at the ceiling... giving me plenty of time to shower, pack, and head out the door at 7am.

Drive. Errands. Falafel Lunch.

And then... then, as I'm headed to the airport, I get the alert that my flight has been delayed. Then another alert. Then another alert.

Rather than sit at the airport for two hours, I head to the giant new IKEA that's nearby. They made it huge. But it's still crowded and the parking still sucks. Hopefully they are putting new and improved parking in the space that the old IKEA used to be (one it's been torn down).

As I get yet another alert, I notice that with each new email Delta lists the revised original departure time as the previous revised departure time, which is kind of hysterical...

Lil' Dave's Mind is Blown

Do people actually fall for this?

Anyway...

Finally I just go to the airport for lack of anything better to do.

Once our delayed, delayed, delayed flight has boarded, there's some kind of problem with the service jetway, so we can't leave.

Once that's been handled, we still can't leave.

Because the TSA thinks there's two more babies onboard than there actually are. Which has the flight attendants literally walking the aisles looking for "hidden babies." I shit you not.

But eventually we're off... hidden babies and all... though my plans of having dinner in Denver have been destroyed.

Oh well. Off to the hotel it is then.

And so...

I go to the check-in desk only to find a male employee talking about setting up a blog (on Blogger!) with one guest... and a female employee looking at hairstyles with another guest on her mobile phone. The female employee finally says "Are you trying to check in?" and starts handling it... ALL WHILE CONTINUING TO DISCUSS HAIRSTYLES WITH THE OTHER GUEST! The only words she says to me are "Do you want me to go get you a couple bottles of water?" and "Here's your key" and "The wifi login is your last name and your room number." AND THAT'S IT! She barely even looked at me... then immediately hopped around the counter to play with the guest's hair to show her how she could get the style she wanted.

Now that's service! Not for me, of course, but for the lady wanting a new hairstyle and the guy wanting to set up a blog.

Hopefully I sleep better tonight than I did last night.

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Volume Two

Posted on Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Dave!Today was long-time blogging friend Howard's 50th birthday!

And to celebrate, he rented out a theater at The Alamo Draft House Denver so a group of us could watch Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.

Given my love of the first film, I was really, really looking forward to seeing it...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Poster

And my verdict? Not as good as the first movie, but a fantastic film that's high on entertainment value.

For more of my spoiler-filled thoughts, you'll have to read on in an extended entry...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Bullet Sunday 505

Posted on Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Dave!It's good to be home, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Travel Day! Last night I was going to head into Denver for some dinner and bumming around after Howard's birthday party, but made the mistake of "laying down for a minute" and decided I'd rather order out pizza and watch TV. After pizza, I decided to pack up my crap, iron tomorrow's clothes, and get everything ready to go for today. Always a smart move, because I just love being able to roll out of bed, shower, and head out on a travel day. Why I don't do this more often I will never know. I guess that deep down I prefer the mad dash of getting ready in the ten minutes before my ride arrives? Who can say?

   
• Home! When I arrived back home today, the first thing I did was start unpacking. Jenny felt threatened by dirty clothes flying and retreated to her basket...

Jenny in a Basket

Jake kept trying to crawl all over me, so I grabbed his favorite blanket and finally gave in while I was sorting laundry...

Jake Cuddles

Laying down was a mistake, as I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up, Jenny had joined in and I was covered in kittens. There are certainly worse homecomings.

   
• Things to do in Denver. Side-by-side on the Denver "Things to Do" rack at my hotel...

Guns and Weed Brochures

But which to do first? Hmmmm...

   
• Hope! As a huge fan of Greek mythology for as long as I could read, I've always had a soft spot for Wonder Woman. When George Pérez reinvented the character in 1987 by jettisoning decades of bad choices so she could be tied even stronger to her Greek mythological origins, Wonder Woman quickly became one of my favorite super-heroes. Which is why I've been awaiting her big-screen debut with absolute dread given the horrendously shitty movies DC has been churning out lately. And yet... there's hope...

Not bad. Not bad at all. I guess we'll know for sure on June 2.

   
• Spidey! And lest we forget that Marvel has a super-hero film of their own coming out this summer...

I mean, holy shit. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire films okay, but this... THIS... is Spider-Man! He moves like you'd expect Spider-Man to move, and it's a glorious thing to see. Cannot wait for July 5th!

   
• Neutrality 2. I have said pretty much all I have to say about the pig-fuckers in our government wanting to sell-out the internet to big media companies. But now that our corrupt asshole of a president is mounting a new assault, all I want to do is explode with rage. Here's a more rational response...

How the American people can be SO FUCKING STUPID as to put up with this FUCKING BULLSHIT is beyond me. But, hey... the American people elected a pussy-grabbing Cheeto Jesus as president, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

   
And I'm fucking done.

   

So What If It’s True

Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017

Dave!I am very pleased to announce that Thrice Publishing (the Not For Profit company behind Thrice Fiction Magazine) has released their second book publication... So What If It's True.

This remarkable collection of poems, letters, and writings by the late Lorri Jackson is a lush snapshot of street culture in 1980's Chicago as edited by Thrice co-founder RW Spryszak and designed by Thrice co-founder David Simmer II (yours truly)...

Lorri Jackson So What If It's True

You can read more about the book over at Thrice Publishing.

And if you'd like to order a copy, you can purchase it at Amazon with free 2-Day Prime shipping (for Prime members) or at the CreateSpace Store.

Thanks to everybody for your continued support!

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Everybody Loves BuddhaCat!

Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Dave!A while ago, I saw this amazing BuddhaCat statue at Pier One. I wanted it immediately so I could add it to my Buddha statue collection, but it was $40 and I couldn't justify the cost.

Then today I got a 25% Off coupon in a Pier One email and decided to run and get it... even though I still couldn't really afford it. But let's face it, the thing would look great on my new desk.

And so...

BuddhaCat

My desk is just across from a part of my collection, so BuddhaCat is right at home...

BuddhaCat

He's kind of big, but still fit easily behind the desk pad I got at IKEA on Friday...

BuddhaCat

The cats wasted absolutely no time investigating their new cat companion...

BuddhaCat

BuddhaCat

I must admit that I'll kind of miss having BuddhaCat as my co-pilot though...

BuddhaCat

So pretty in sunlight.

Okay then... just so long as I don't run into BuddhaKitten somewhere, I should remain financially stable through the end of the month.

Assuming I eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles until then, of course.

   

A Map of Places

Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Dave!I updated my travel map while on the phone this morning.

The thing was getting way too complicated for me to manage manually, so I switched to Google My Maps a while back. What a cool piece of tech that is. Makes it so easy to keep track of the places I've flown into, stayed at, or been. Granted, it's undoubtedly not 100% complete because I've forgotten a lot of places... but it's close enough.

In all honesty I don't know whether I should be amazed that I managed to get to this much of the world... or horrified that there's so many places I've yet to visit...

Dave's Travel Map

If you want to play with the interactive version to see how nice Google My Maps is... just head to my Map Page. Or sign into your Google account and make a map of your own!

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I’m A Really Smart Person

Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Dave!I'm going to prove how bigly smart I am by picking a fight with the FBI.

You know... the guys who know where all the bodies are buried. Literally.

   

   

Tiny Kittens

Posted on Friday, May 12th, 2017

Dave!Awwwww.

The kittens look like Jake and Jenny when they were little.


   

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Caturday 24

Posted on Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Dave!I am a hundred miles away from my cats this Caturday... which means I'm checking in on them several times a day via the plethora of security cameras that activated the minute I walked out the door. Usually they are out in the catio, but this morning they were nowhere to be found. In order to solve the mystery, I reviewed camera footage and found out where they went, but it's an area served by a battery-backup local camera, so I'll have to wait until I get home until I find out what mayhem they are up to.

The big cat-news this week that I didn't realize would be "cat-news" until it happened: I bought new couch pillows from IKEA.

Jake and Jenny were all over them the minute I set them down...

KITTIES STEAL MY IKEA PILLOWS!

KITTIES STEAL MY IKEA PILLOWS!

Jenny, in particular, just loves them. She will roll around on them... move them around... bite them... even attempt to tunnel under them like she's building some kind of pillow fort...

KITTIES STEAL MY IKEA PILLOWS!

The first morning after I set them out, I walked downstairs to find all four thrown on the floor. I went back to the security camera footage and found that Jenny had thrown them off the couches in the middle of the night so she could sit on them. She'd even drag them from place to place so she would have someplace new to sit...

JENNY ON PILLOWS!

Most of the day she leaves them on the couch, thankfully, preferring to use them as a throne from which to survey her kingdom...

JENNY IS QUEEN OF THE IKEA PILLOWS!

Jake likes to think he's the queen when Jenny is off eating bugs in the catio...

JAKE IS KING OF THE IKEA PILLOWS!

Speaking of Jake... the minute he sees that I've woken up each morning, he's been hopping up to snuggle. Usually with his butt in my face so he can get rump-scratches...

Jake Morning!

In other cat news... I noticed that there was kitty litter E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E when I got back from Denver. Much more than usual. I couldn't quite figure out what had happened, as I didn't remember seeing a kitty-litter fight when I was checking in...

KITTY LITTER EVERYWHERE!

Then it happened again. And last night I finally figured out why. Both cats are trying to climb in the Litter Robot at the same time... something that hasn't happened before... and it's making a big mess. Not sure how to handle this. But if it gets to be a common thing, I'll have to think of something, because kitty litter is expensive.

This evening when I got a text alert that the Feed-And-Go feeders went off, I didn't see either can running up to eat supper. I pulled up the cameras and saw that they were both out in the catio and must not have heard them cycle. So I use the speaker on the camera to tell them "It's dinner time! Go eat dinner!" which is usually all it takes. When I'm home. When I'm talking through the speaker, they get confused...

Where are you??!

"HOW DID YOU GET IN THAT TINY BOX, HUMAN?!? WHY ARE YOU NOT HERE FEEDING US?!?"

And lastly...

Meet Barnaby, a cat I found on Facebook...

SweetBarnaby!

Barnaby is a 15 year old sweetheart who came to us as a stray. This super affectionate fellow shouldn't be spending his golden years in the shelter. Please come meet dear Barnaby at the VAO soon. He promises to melt your heart.

When I went to the shelter, this is the kind of cat I honestly thought I'd be walking out with. I told them I'd take whatever cat had an eye missing or three legs or whatever it was that was making them unadoptable. I was told "Oh wow... usually we love people like you... but we don't have any cats like that right now." And instead I ended up with two of the most perfect kittens you've ever seen. I hope this sweet older kitty finds a home.

UPDATE: And he has...

Thank you for the outpouring of love and concern for Barnaby. We are no longer accepting applications for him. Barnaby has already received multiple applications and will most likely be going home soon.

Sometimes people are good.

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Bullet Sunday 506

Posted on Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Dave!Home is a great place to be, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Spring Has Finally Sprung! When I got back yesterday, I noticed that the beautiful dogwood tree that the previous owner planted in the front yard was starting to bloom! I think my irises are also ready to pop, but they're a lot of work to keep pretty. The tree is beautiful from start to finish with no intervention from me...

My Dogwood Tree is in Bloom!

I was worried that the heavy snow destroyed it because everybody else's trees went into bloom weeks ago. Good boy!

   
• Sense8 Season Two! When Netflix released the first season of Sense8 back in 2015, a collaboration between The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, I was not interested. With the exception of the original Matrix film and possibly V for Vendetta, The Wachowskis have released nothing but shit. And I can honestly say that I can't recall liking anything Straczynski has ever produced... from his Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comic books to the steaming pile of shit known as Babylon 5. But, after seeing some acclaim for Sense8... I watched it. And actually ended up enjoying the show despite some idiotic story elements and an even more fucking idiotic Wilhelm Scream in the finale. And now here we are with the release of Season Two...

Sense8 Cast!

While I ended up liking the second season more than the first, there are serious problems that kept me from loving it. First of all... despite the large cast, they introduced even more characters. Some to disastrous effect. Take for example the trans character Nomi and her partner Amanita, a pair of hackers living in San Francisco. Easily two of the most unique and interesting characters on the show (if not television itself), but this season they are essentially shoved aside in favor of a new character called "Bug" that's not only annoying as fuck, he's also redundantly taking on hacking chores that should have stayed with Nomi and Neets. Like when Nomi had to dress in heels, but fell down and knocked herself unconscious, leaving "Bug" to save the day. Like HA HA HA HA! THE TRANS CHARACTER CAN'T WALK, so let's have a man step in and fix everything. What the actual fuck? But even worse is the mindless way they keep setting up fights and absurd situations so the characters can "mind bond." Sometimes it's what makes the show fantastic (let's face it, I could watch Doona Bae kick ass all day long) but other times it's just so badly manipulative and manufactured as to be laughable (Shades of Babylon 5, Batman!). The mind-bond scenes should be organic and come about naturally... like when Sun finally goes after her brother at the end in one of the best action sequences I've seen this year. But the absolute worst thing about Season 2 is the ending... which has a half-dozen cliffhangers. Everybody must be really confident that Netflix is going to shell out $100 million for season three. Because if they don't, a lot of people are going to be pissed at how pathetic an ending we got.

   
• Soda Pop! This right here is the idiotic crap that has people fed up with our elected officials: Diet drinks added to Seattle mayor’s soda-tax proposal, upping revenue estimates. And you have to ask yourself... is the dipshit Seattle mayor's plan all about saving us from obesity and (now) fighting white privilege? Or is it designed to distract people from the news that he fucked teen boys? Let's allow the media to decide! And when it comes out that the mayor is also addicted to cocaine? THEN A TAX ON YOUR COOKIES TOO, YOU LOWLIFE PLEEB! All I know is that when you have to start adding a tax to a bottle of Coke in order to raise revenue, you are probably SPENDING TOO MUCH FUCKING MONEY!

   
• Do It Yourself! Never did I think in my lifetime that my small-town local grocery store would get self-checkout, but here we are. I guess even Redneckistan is tired of dealing with people's shit...

Check Out Yourself!

Oh well. I guess it's only a matter of time before we're all replaced by a machine.

   
• Travel Day! Yeah... you won't convince me that John McCain is some kind of hero for being the lone GOP voice asking for investigation into the president's ties with Russia. Of course I respect his service to this country, but he's a MIA/POW betrayer and a pile of fucking garbage as a senator. He and bipartisan Democratic betrayer John Kerry are BOTH a pile of fucking garbage. So get all wet over McCain if you want to... I'll just be over here reminding myself of his dishonorable treatment of those brave soldiers who couldn't come home like he did because of his actions in preventing it...

Jesus, what an asshole.

   
• Please Call Me Back! Is it possible for a song to have some of the worst lyrics you've ever heard... and yet you can't get enough of it? This track by the band Rey Pila is unapologetically 80's in tone and construction, which is why I like it. And yet... holy crap are these some awful lyrics. Granted they are out of Mexico, so English probably isn't their first language, but still...

I am hopelessly in a love/hate relationship with their stuff that's been posted to YouTube. Though some of their songs are pure love...

All 80's all the time over at Rey Pila!

   
And game over. So long, Bullet Sunday...

   

Burritos on a Monday

Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2017

Dave!This morning I woke up craving a Qdoba burrito.

But the nearest Qdoba is 2-1/2 hours away, which means there's no Qdoba for me unless I drive back over the mountains.

Just one of the many detriments of living in a small town.

Luckily I had stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home yesterday (something else we don't have here) but, as delicious as my Black Bean and Jack Cheese Burrito dinner was, it's just not the same.

The heart wants what the heart wants.

Or the stomach.

And yet... sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.

When I was in high school I earned money for school clothes and computer games by working at the local dime store. There was a lovely older woman who would shop there from time to time, and I always hoped that she would write a check to pay for her purchases because she had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. Seriously. Tim Girvin has nothing on this woman. Her writing was elegant and flowing and ornate and wholly wonderful in a way that was a joy to look at. And watching her construct her amazing penmanship was a performance that I would have paid money to watch. She started moving her hand in graceful circles as a warm up before she even put pen to paper. She ended each word with a flourish. She signed her name with a series of motions that was tantamount to a dance. It always made my day to see it. Sometimes my week.

Last week I was reminded of this woman, but couldn't remember her name. Then I realized that everybody I could ask about her, including my grandmother, isn't here any more. As I slowly collapsed into a heap of depression, Alexa tells me it's time to go to work, so off I go.

When I get to work I related my tale of woe... only to have one of my coworkers immediately know of her. The woman whose name I was looking for was Abby Brender... a person as lovely as her handwriting.

Sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.

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Taking a Leak

Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Dave!If President Obama had disclosed classified information to the Russians under any circumstances, he would have been viciously attacked by the Conservative press until the end of time.

If President Obama had said "I have the absolute right to share information with Russia" after disclosing the classified information to them, a lynch mob would have formed outside The White House within the hour. Hell, there would probably be rioting as the building was set on fire.

And President Obama didn't even have accusations about colluding with the Russians hanging over his head.

But a Republican president with all kinds of sketchy Russian ties discloses classified information to the Russians and says he has the right to do it? The Conservative press is falling all over themselves to claim that the real problem is not President Trump sharing sensitive information with Russia... but that White House staff is undermining the president by leaking classified information on his dealings with Russia to the press.

So leaks are good.

Or bad.

Or good?

I dunno. It's most certainly bad when Hillary Clinton is careless with classified information. We all know that. THAT was enough to cost her the presidency!

So I guess it all depends on what day of the week it is.

And that you're not a Democrat, not black, and not a woman.

Or something like that.

I'd ask questions, but I don't want to be arrested. Because bend me over the Lincoln Memorial and fuck me with a tightly-rolled copy of The Constitution... this happened.

Welcome to fascism.

   

Generation Why

Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Dave!I've officially reached the "GET OFF OF MY LAWN!" period of my life.

And I know exactly the moment it happened. I was in Target looking for a new card game... I turned a corner... and BLAM! Hipster dolls from the "My Generation" collection!

Meet Sia. Sia says... "Science is the art of inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules and having fun doing it." Which is all well and good. But... damn... hipster chic...

HIPSTER DOLLY!

   
Over it.

Sia has a twin sister named Sabina, who wasn't available at the store I was in... but I looked her up online at the My Generation website. Turns out she's a fucking hipster too. But unlike her twinsie, Sabina is into art...

HIPSTER DOLLY!

   
Over it.

And while I'm sure this is a step up from the Bratz dolls that look like little whores, My Generation takes it up a notch by having awesome accessories! Including horses, an R.V., a malt shop, and... oh yeah... an ice cream truck...

   
Over it.

Well... NOT over it.

All my Six Million Dollar Man doll had was a rocket ship that transformed into a "Bionic Repair Station." I feel so deprived. What I wouldn't have given to have Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman be able to go out for an ice cream cone between missions.

Hell, even The Bionic Woman doll had a "Bionic Beauty Salon" to hang out in. Did anybody ever stop to think if Steve Austin maybe wanted to feel pretty and have a spa day sometimes?

Probably not.

His body may have cost six million dollars to repair... but his feeling weren't worth a buck-oh-five.

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The LEGO Batman Movie

Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Dave!My plan was to wait and review The LEGO Batman Movie after it hit home-video so that I wouldn't spoil anything for those who hadn't seen it. That day is tomorrow. And I'm still hesitant to spoil anything by reviewing it, because it's just so frickin' hilarious and amazing.

Suffice to say, it's about the best thing you'll ever see, and you simply must watch it.

The movie is everything great about LEGO Batman's appearance in The LEGO Movie, but ramped up to an absurd degree...

The LEGO Batman Movie Poster!

I have no doubt that I'm going to end up watching the film a hundred times when it goes on sale tomorrow. It's that good.

   
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...

The Avengers... A+
The Avengers: Age of Ultron... A
Batman Begins... A
Batman Dark Knight... A+
Batman Dark Knight Rises... A
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice... D
Big Hero Six... A+
Blade... B
Blade 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Catwoman... F
Daredevil... B-
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Elektra... D
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... 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-
The LEGO Batman Movie... A++
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-
Suicide Squad... D
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+

   

Nest Cam / Nest Aware

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017

Dave!Internet-enabled security cameras are all the rage even though there are inherent risks to having them. Hackers are exploiting webcams with increasing regularity, which means that your privacy could be violated if you're not careful. Personally, I'm okay with the risks. Being able to remotely view my cameras from wherever I am in the world is the whole point of getting them in the first place. I want to be able to see what my cats are up to and check on possible security problems, and this is the easiest way to do it. But I don't put them in private areas (like bathrooms or bedrooms), I change the default passwords, and I have all interior cameras turn off when I walk in the door, so... if somebody wants to look at my kitchen while I'm away, have at it.

I actually have two sets of cameras. One is all local storage only with battery back-ups in case the power or internet goes down, the other is my webcam system that records to the cloud. After buying four different brands that were rated "the best" so I could test them out, Nest is the one I liked most and bought into...

Nest Cams!

Like anything in life, it's a mixed bag. There are good things and bad things to the deal.

THE NEST CAMS...
Despite my many issues with Nest, the quality of their cameras is absolutely not one of them. Indeed, the only thing that keeps me a customer is that the cameras are just so nice. Dead simple to set up. Beautifully designed. 1080p resolution with a generous wide-angle view. Excellent night-vision. When it comes to security cameras, they are the total package. You pay for it, of course. An indoor Nest Cam is a whopping $199 (around $169 street) and the outdoor Nest Cam is also $199 (around $179 street). I don't know that they are worth the price tag... $129 seems a more reasonable cost (especially considering you have to pay an additional fee for all the features)... but I've found nothing out there that compare at any price.

NEST AWARE...
Where things go off the rails with Nest Cams is the necessity of paying for their Nest Aware cloud service. Yes, your cameras work perfectly fine without it, but all the best features of Nest Cam are unavailable unless you pay. And it ain't cheap...

Nest Aware Pricing!

The least expensive program gets you 10 days of video history at $100 for the first camera (annually), then $50 for each additional camera. I have ten cameras. If all of them were on Nest Aware, that would be an insane $550 a year. I can't afford that, so I only have some of my cameras using the service. What you get when you subscribe to Nest Aware is the afore-mentioned video history retrieval (with the ability to create downloadable clips or time-lapse videos) plus the ability to define "activity zones" so you can choose which locations in the camera's view will trigger an alert. Without Nest Aware, you can tune into a live view any time you want... and you can get a "motion snapshot" history for the past 3 hours (but only on your phone, not from a web browser). I wish they had a 2 day history option for $20 per camera so all my Nest Cams could be Nest Aware... or even have a 1 day history freebie so all Nest Cams could be Nest Aware. But, alas...

NEST AWARE ACCESS...
The Nest Aware service can be accessed from an app on your phone or a web browser. Both have an easy-to-use interface that's beautifully designed. A while back Nest added a "spaces" overview of all your cameras, which is what you see when you login. The only problem is that if you have Nest Protect smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, they bundle them together for some stupid reason, ruining the perfect grid of cameras. I've blurred the feeds so you can't see how messy my house is...

Nest Aware Dashboard View!

No clue why they do this, but it's incredibly annoying and I haven't found a setting to "unbundle" them. Hell, I can't figure out any reason why you would want them bundled in the first place.

NEST AWARE INSANITY...
Recently I have been having major problems with the video stalling on the screen when I view it on a web browser. Things have been working great for a year now (assuming I had a good internet connection), so what's the deal? I chatted with Nest support, telling them that the video is definitely getting to Nest Aware because I can download a clip as a Quicktime movie and the motion is there... I can even view it in motion on my iPhone... but 9 times out of 10 on my browser, the image doesn't move. Whether I am trying to watch the video live or review my video history, the image is static. So obviously there's something wrong with the Nest Aware streaming service for browsers, right? WRONG! First they blame the browser (that's tech support 101). But stalled video happens regardless of which browser and which computer I am using. Then I'm told not just once... but multiple times... that the problem is probably my router because the Nest Aware Service is "fine." This, of course, is insane. If the problem were my router, then motion video wouldn't be getting to Nest Aware. Except it is. My router doesn't even enter into the equation when it comes to getting video OUT of Nest Aware, only into it...

Nest Cams!

Long story short... the problem fixes itself when I use shitty "Flash" instead of "HTML 5" video to connect to Nest Aware. I thought of relaying this back to Nest but, given their fixation on my router, they probably wouldn't believe me.

NEST AWARE ZONES & PEOPLE DETECTION...
My favorite feature of Nest Aware is being able to define "zones" where I want motion reported. In my front yard, for example, I want to know if somebody is on my driveway or walk... or trying to steal my garden hose. I don't care about the people cutting across my yard or the tree moving when the wind blows. Defining a zone where I'll get alerted is a piece of cake (shown below in orange)...

Nest Aware Zones!

The system works really well. Alerts are messaged to my iPhone quickly and, unlike other cameras I tried, motion outside the zone is actually ignored (this turned out to be a bigger problem than you'd think). An additional feature of Nest Aware is their claim to be able to send you "People Alerts" when your camera "thinks it spotted a person"...

Nest Aware Zones!

Nest's website claims that its system is so smart that it can distinguish a person from a thing or a pet. Except... not so much. Their accuracy rate, so far as I can recall, is 0%. A team of landscapers arrive to mow and trim and not one "people alert" is ever sent. The only people alerts I get always turn out to be my cats. The alerts above, for example, were Jake and Jenny wrestling in the catio...

Jake and Jenny Wrestle!

So... if your sole reason for buying into Nest is the "people alerts," then you might want to keep looking.

NEST AWARE SETTINGS...
The settings available for Nest Cams are fairly standard, but organized really well. Some settings can switch automatically based on whether or not I am home (the system uses the Nest App on my iPhone to figure that out). As an example, I have all the interior cameras automatically turn off when I am home, then turn back on again when I am gone. If you don't want your location reported to Nest, you can always set home/away manually by clicking on the big toggle button that shows up at login...

Nest's Home or Away Toggle Button!

If that's still too much information for you, there's also the ability to set a schedule for your cameras to follow. The rest of the settings allow you to decide whether or not you want to have the microphone on, what kind of alerts you want, what kind of image quality you're sending, whether or not to use night vision... that kind of stuff...

Nest's Home or Away Toggle Button!

A feature I wish were available is setting the video quality based on whether I am home or away. When I'm home, I'm using the internet for all kinds of things and would prefer the cameras send low-res video so they're not hogging my bandwidth. When I'm away, I don't care how much bandwidth the cameras are hogging, and want them to automatically switch to maximum resolution. Don't know if this is possible, but boy would that be handy.

NEST AWARE PAYMENT...
If there were one thing that could be a complete and total deal-breaker for me when it comes to Nest, it's the disastrous billing system that they have in place for Nest Aware. It's insanely stupid. Beyond insanely stupid. First of all... if, like me, you bought your Nest Cams six months apart so you could split the annual Nest Aware payment into two parts so the financial hit isn't so terrible... Nest would like to kindly ask you to go f#@% yourself. They don't allow it. If you already have cameras on Nest Aware and want to add more of them six months later, they pro-rate the annual fee for the new cameras so the billing cycle is in-sync with the original purchase. There is absolutely no way to do otherwise unless you have multiple Nest Aware accounts, and I don't even know how that would work. I'm guessing you have to set up guest access to your own damn cameras on the new accounts? I'm sure Nest thinks they are doing you a huge favor with the pro-rated billing, but it should at least be the customer's choice as to whether this is allowed.

And, oh yeah... about that pro-rated account syncing bullshit...

It's horrendous. The system billed me twice... with wrong amounts... but not really. At least according to Nest. I spent months trying to reconcile the statements I received with what was actually charged to my credit card and simply could not do it. And neither could Nest. They ultimately told me that I would just have to trust them that everything was billed the way it's supposed to be, even though nothing they could produce would back that up. To this day I have no clue if I was billed correctly.

And that's not all.

Not by a long shot.

Because of the absolute nightmare I had when I added my second batch of cameras, I thought I would be smart and add my third batch after my Nest Aware expired. Since Nest is forcing me to pay for everything all at the same time, I might as well make sure that they don't screw things up again by taking matters into my own hands.

Except you cannot tell Nest Aware not to automatically renew.

Thinking I could outsmart the system, I decided to remove my credit card so they couldn't automatically renew.

Except Nest doesn't allow you to remove your credit card information from their system.

Yes. You read that right. Once Nest has your personal information, it belongs to them! Something I verified after spending a crazy amount of time in chat with Nest Support. Apparently the only way to remove your personal information and credit card from the system is to cancel your entire service... even if it's pre-paid in an annual payment!

SUPPORT: Here is how to cancel the Nest Aware subscription:
   
ME: Again... I know how to cancel the subscription. That is not what I am asking.
ME: I want to cancel THE AUTO RENEWAL.
   
SUPPORT: I understand. Currently the only way to cancel Auto Renewal is to cancel the subscription for the Nest Camera, itself.
   
ME: And you cannot remove my credit car so that it won't auto-renew that way?
   
SUPPORT: I definitely cannot remove your credit card but I am checking on the steps you can use to get that done.
   
ME: Wow.
ME: Okay.
   
SUPPORT: Thank you for waiting. After you go to the "Nest Aware" part of the app, you will see the type of subscription and be able to change your payment information. Please know that as long as you have an active subscription, at least one credit card will need to be in this account.
   
ME: Sorry I remain so incredulous as to how Nest chooses to treat their customers, but this is the wackiest thing I have ever encountered for somebody providing me a service. 1) You get double invoices with different numbers for every transaction. 2) Nest is not able to offer any explanation as to how the billings work or even tell you how things were billed. 3) You are forced to have your service plans pro-rated so everything syncs up on a renewal date... even if you can't afford to renew everything at once, which is why you staggered the purchase of your cameras in the first place. 4) You are forced to auto-renew Nest Aware, even if that's not what you want. 5) You have no control over your credit card information and cannot remove such private information from your account. 6) Nobody at Nest finds anything odd about all of the above. I mean... wow... just wow.

This is some seriously sketchy shit.

Nest Aware is like the f#@%ing mafia.

And yet nobody at Nest thinks there's anything strange about the way they conduct business. Nor do they appear to have any interest whatsoever in updating their system so it's not so abusive and stupid. It's for this reason that I hesitate to recommend anybody buy Nest's shit. Yes, they have incredible products, but is dealing with their absurd billing practices worth it? If I weren't already invested in the system, I'd probably say "no." But since I am, I guess I'm stuck here unless somebody comes up with a "jailbreak" for the cameras that allows you to pair them to your own "cloud server" for storage and access.

But anywho...

As I mentioned, I have ten Nest Cams. In order to get the coverage I want, I really need one more. And if the cameras end up going on sale one of these days, I'll probably get it. Despite having to be chained to Nest Aware's high cost... despite the stupid billing system... despite my running out of bandwidth. Because even when all that's taken into consideration, it's still the best security camera system I've found.

For now anyway.

   

LEGO Cinemania

Posted on Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Dave!In celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released on iTunes (a film I absolutely recommend you should see)... Apple put a bunch of movies on sale and gave their visuals a LEGO treatment.

I liked them so much that I wanted to be sure and save them to my blog in case I ever wanted to see them again...

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

A couple of these films could have been vastly pproved if they were LEGO creations... just sayin'.

   

Bullet Sunday 507

Posted on Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Dave!We're going to need some more coffee, because a very special Twin Peaks edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Twin Peaks! "She's dead, wrapped in plastic."You had to be there. Because no words I can write could ever encapsulate just how jaw-dropping amazing it was to be alive when Twin Peaks was first unloading onto an unsuspecting world...

Laura Palmer... She's Dead, Wrapped in Plastic!

Nothing like it had ever aired before... and, though many attempts have been made to imitate it, nothing has since. The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer is still lighting a fire in the imaginations of people around the globe even today. Though the second season faltered without the guidance of David Lynch, I still love every episodes and have viewed them numerous times.

   
• Made in Washington! "That gum you like is going to come back in style." While the fictitious city of "Twin Peaks" is located in Eastern Washington near the Canadian border, many of the real exterior locations were filmed in my home state as well. After I fell in love with the show, I made an effort to visit many of them...

A list of places I've sought out...

  • The Salish Lodge, Snoqualmie (The Great Northern Hotel).
  • Reinig Bridge, Snoqualmie (Ronnette's Bridge).
  • The Roadhouse Bar (Bang Bang Bar), Fall City (The Roadhouse Bar).
  • Kiana Lodge, Poulsbo (Blue Pine Lodge & Dead Laura Beach).
  • Mar-T Cafe (Twede's Cafe), North Bend (The Double R Diner).

Filming for the new series took place in Washington again... it will be interesting to see if they came up with any new locations for me to visit.

   
• The Secret History of Twin Peaks! "The owls are not what they seem." In anticipation of the new episodes dropping today, Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost released a book tie-in last summer detailing the "secret history" of the town of Twin Peaks...

If you are a hardcore Twin Peaks fan, I don't need to tell you that this book is essential reading. Not only does it provide an expectedly bizarre history of the region (seriously, Frost tosses in Lewis & Clark, Sasquatch, aliens, and everything else you can imagine... along with some things you can't), but the book also fills in a few details of what happened after the original series ended. Much of the information is superfluous to the story... and it's a tough read if you are not familiar with the show... but I enjoyed it as a tasty side-dish to the main course, and am looking forward to the second volume, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, releasing October 31st.

   
• Twin Peaks: The Return! "I'll see you in 25 years." When it comes to doing weird shit on film, art house cinema has been doing it since the dawn of cinema. Some of it goes mainstream from time to time but, for the most part, it's a niche product that doesn't go anywhere. What made Twin Peaks so different and revolutionary is that the series managed to blend the weird shit of an art house film with an actual story that everyday people could find entertaining. Sure it digressed from time to time... but, overall, things were always moving. Interesting stuff was always happening on-screen to drive the story forward.

Now, a quarter-century later, Twin Peaks returns...

Something I've been waiting half my life to see.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

But here's the problem... David Lynch and Mark Frost have gone full-on arthouse and, if the first four episodes are anything to judge the series by, it's a steaming pile of shit. An absolute disaster that's weird just to be weird. And, unlike the original series, there's precious little else. Absolutely everything is weird shit. And it drags on and on and on. Take the third episode for example. The entire first half of the show is Agent Cooper trying to escape from The Black Lodge where he's been stuck since the end of the final episode. It's all complete nonsense, boring as shit, and does nothing to support what's come before. As for the second half of the episode? Dale Cooper meandering around South Dakota acting weird and doing weird shit. Only in the final five minutes does the story lurch forward again.

If there's a bright spot to be had, it's appearances by the original cast and a continuation of the original story... as scattered and slow as it may be. And I'm beyond thankful that Miguel Ferrer (FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield) and Catherine Coulson (Margaret, The Log Lady) managed to film scenes before their deaths. Unfortunately, it's all for naught, because Twin Peaks and everything that made it so amazing is barely here. And, unless things get radically better in the remaining episodes, I'm sorry they brought it back.

   
• The Sound of Twin Peaks! Twin Peaks would not be Twin Peaks without the music of Angelo Badalamenti. He created one of the most recognizable theme songs ever to grace television, and his Lauara's Theme added atmosphere to many moments in the show...

Another artist, Julee Cruise, became a household name from her performances on the show. David Lynch is continuing this tradition by ending the episodes with musical performances. My favorite from the new series is The Chromatics, singing a beautiful song called Shadow...

How very Twin Peaks!

   
And that's a wrap! "When you see me again, it won't be me..."

   

As Many Mondays Past

Posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Dave!This has not been a very good day.

Last weekend I thought I had a kidney stone, but the pain subsided and I counted my lucky stars that it was gone. Turns out it was a temporary reprieve. Last night I started having pain again, and it only got worse as the evening went on. By the time I woke up this morning, the pain was stabbing through my back so badly that it was hard to walk.

But I had to go in to work, so I took some pills, put on my tough-guy pants, then headed out the door.

Only to find that most of my irises, pretty as they are, had all collapsed under their own weight...

Stupid Irises on the Ground!

What a stupid flower. I guess bees still pollenate them when they're on the ground, because otherwise I'm guessing they would be extinct. I suppose if they are still alive when I'm feeling better, I'll have to tie them up like last year. Still, those plants that manage to stay upright are as pretty as ever...

Yellow Irises!

I anticipated that work would be agony, but it actually managed to take my mind off of things... for a while.

By the time noon rolled around I was D-O-N-E.

And so I went back home, took more pills, then had to spend some quality time with Jenny, who was upset with me for leaving her today in the first place. I'm guessing that shedding her winter coat is an itchy process, because she wants to be scratched all the time... and will start crying if you don't comply...

Jenny Wants Pets!

Eventually I managed to disengage so I could go upstairs where I planned to die in bed. It was a good plan... until Jake decided it was his turn for attention. Or maybe he was playing nurse, it's hard to tell...

Jake Wants Pets!

I streamed a couple episodes of West Wing off Netflix, then decided to listen to some music in the hopes I would fall asleep. But Apple's streaming services were shit, as usual, and I couldn't never get my music to load on my AppleTV...

Apple iTunes Streaming Sucks Shit Through a Tube!

I don't understand why Apple doesn't spend some of their billions of dollars solving a problem that none of their competitors seem to have. I can stream to AppleTV without problem every time I try from Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Amazon, Hulu, Youtube, and the like... but Apple's streaming rarely manages to work without some kind of issue. If I can get it to work at all. Maybe Apple needs to hire other people to develop their shit since they seem incapable of doing it themselves. When I pay for stuff in the iTunes Store, I expect to be able to have access to it.

Anyway...

Today the heat got up to 86 degrees here, but I never had to turn on the air conditioner... even though I noticed many of my neighbors had. I'm chalking that up to my having installed a ceiling fan in my bedroom, which worked so fantastic for me last year. Such an energy-saver. I wish I had the fixtures in place so I could put them in every room of my house.

And now? Time for more pills and sleep. Fingers crossed. Really hoping that everything works itself out soon, because I can't keep missing work with all the stuff I have to do there.

Much as my cats would probably hope otherwise.

   

Spy Pain and the Homecoming King

Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Dave!Even through the pain-medication-induced haze I was mired in, sleep last night was fitful.

Around 4:30am the pain medication wore off, so I reluctantly downed another pill in the hopes that I might get a bit more rest before having to go to work. Unfortunately, my body was not having it. Sleep is pretty much impossible when you can't get comfortable, and I was about as uncomfortable as I could be.

And so I turned on Netflix with the plan of distracting myself to sleep as the medication hit. The first thing I see? Hasan Minhaj has a comedy special out called Homecoming King. I love the guy on The Daily Show... really love the guy for his work at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner... and thought it was worth a shot.

It ended up being one of the best things I've seen...

Seriously. If you are a Netflix subscriber, stop reading this and go watch it. If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then start your free trial and watch it. If you have already burned your free trial, then bite the bullet and pay the $8 to watch. Because Homecoming King is everything you could want in a comedy show... funny, smart, painful, charming, hopeful, devastating, educational, sad, witty, and beautiful.

But mostly funny. Which was the vacation I needed right now.

Because the minute I turned off the TV and checked into The World... I saw coverages of the bombing in Manchester and that Roger Moore had died.

I've run out words when it comes to news of yet another terrorist attack. Except to say that I can't fathom the hatred that fuels somebody to bomb a venue that was filled with kids. It's a horrific act that has me wondering if this planet is quickly getting to a point that it's beyond saving. That any of us... even a terrorist... can do something like this... the case for humanity's continuing existence just gets weaker and weaker.

And then there's 007.

They say that the James Bond you like best is the one you grew up with. For me, that was Roger Moore.

Not that I knew anything about James Bond when I was a kid.

But then come 1977, Star Wars was unleashed on my 11-year-old brain. Needless to say I became completely obsessed, and was so hungry for more sci-fi space opera that I was tuning into anything that even hinted Star Wars. Including the James Bond film Moonraker in 1979. Which sealed my fate as a huge James Bod fan as well...

James Bond Returns in MOONRAKER!

Yes, yes, I know Moonraker is not rated very highly in the Bond canon, but I loved it. I still do. I loved it so much that when VHS rentals were ushered in with the 1980's, my family would rent that giant VHS player so I could see all the Bond movies I had missed. Which, for me were Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. I never much cared to see the Sean Connery films because Roger Moore was the Bond I knew.

Then we got more Moore with For Your Eyes Only (still one of my favorites!), Octopussy (not one of my favorites), and finally A View to a Kill (with the incomparable Grace Jones and a made-for-Bond-villain Christopher Walken!). And while I eventually grew to love Sean Connery's films... enjoy Pierce Brosnan's films... and rekindle my love of the ultimate spy when James Bond was reimagined for a modern world with Daniel Craig... Roger Moore will always be the James Bond to me. Say what you will about his take on the character, it was always entertaining.

Not that Roger Moore defined himself by the character he played. He spent decades working with UNICEF and other children charities. He also used his celebrity to fight against animal cruelty, and is credited with getting foie gras removed from British store shelves (a food born out of horrendously inhumane treatment of ducks and geese).

Sir Roger Moore, you will be missed.

   

A Massive Nozzle and Ceiling Fans

Posted on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Dave!When I bought my home, I noted how all the heat in the place is constantly rising to the upstairs. Doesn't matter if it's natural heat in July and August... or furnace heat in December and January... it's all the same. Downstairs cool. Upstairs hot.

And since I put my bedroom and  office  cat's playroom upstairs, those rooms can get uncomfortably warm. So I took a cue from places like New Orleans and Maui and installed ceiling fans...

Silver Ceiling Fan

They. Are. Wonderful.

And since they are controllable from my home automation system, the fans can be controlled remotely. No need to get out of bed to turn them on/off or change the speed. I can do all that from the iPhone on my nightstand. Or by saying "Alexa, set David's fan to medium."

What I really need to do is get a temperature sensor and have everything programmed to happen automatically! The fan speed could be determined by detected temperature ranges. That way air could be circulating as needed, even when I'm not home.

The best thing about ceiling fans is that I don't have to run the air conditioner as often. Especially at night when I'm in bed and the fan is above me. This saves a crazy amount of electricity... and if I were able to install them in the downstairs living room and guest bedroom, I could probably get away with no air conditioning at all. Alas, the recessed lighting cans I need to install from are in all the wrong places, so... no joy there.

A summer project I've been bouncing around in my head is to install a ceiling fan in the stairwell. That way I could have it running in the winter to keep the heat downstairs where it belongs. Or so I'm guessing. Air flow thermodynamics are not something I pretend to understand.

And now for my metaphorical explanation of kidney stones from 2009...

Let's say that you built a new greenhouse where the plants require special water. Highly filtered water, you might say. So you build a nice system where dual filtration units remove all the impurities, then pass the filtered water off into a bucket. The bucket in turn feeds a massive nozzle which you then use to spray your plants...

Filtration System Schematic

The key to comprehending this system is understanding just how massive the nozzle is. It's enormous. Firefighters are in awe of just how big it is. You could hose down an entire football field plus a team of cheerleaders in just five minutes (assuming you didn't want to take your time, of course)... because that's how astoundingly large this nozzle is.

Unfortunately, the tubing you bought to feed the system is way too small. It's also very soft, and easily ripped if anything sharp comes near it. It can also be prone to tearing if you force something too wide through it. And no, I don't know why. Maybe you spent all your money on the massive nozzle and didn't have enough left over to buy decent tubes... whatever... it's not important.

What IS important is that the nozzle is just fine. The nozzle works perfectly and can handle just about anything you throw at it. It's the tubing which is totally inadequate to the task here.

Because, oops! Every once in a while the filters let a particle slip through. This causes all kinds of agony, because those little tubes just aren't built to handle it. Eventually, it will most likely make its way through the system, but it's a painful process. The worst, most horrifying part is in the tubes leaving the filters and depositing into the bucket. These are the tubes least able to cope with the damage. You get something going through here and you become so traumatized that all you want to do is burn down the entire greenhouse.

The tube from the bucket to the massive nozzle is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as painful...

Filtration System Schematic with Blockage

Blargh. Having a particle stuck here feels like you have a little razor blade about to run through your nozzle. It also makes you feel like your bucket is full all the time. So you spend your entire day running to the greenhouse even though your bucket is mostly empty. What time you don't spend at the greenhouse is spent in quiet discomfort, just waiting for the particle to finally exit your filtration system so you can get back to a normal gardening experience.

And I would really, really, like to get back to normal so I can start living my life without having to worry about the spikey rock headed down my massive  penis  nozzle.

   

Shave and a Hair Cut… Two Bits!

Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Dave!Yesterday morning I woke up early. I was too uncomfortable to sleep, so I took Oxycodone to keep my kidney stone pain at bay... then decided cut my hair. In retrospect, that was a terrible decision, because my hair ended up all jacked up. Despite opiates coursing through my system, it hurt too much for me to attempt to fix it, so I just put on a Red Sox hat and let it go.

Probably would have been smarter to wait until I'm feeling better. But I've gotten pretty good at cutting my hair... and my grandfather was a barber... so experience and genetics were on my side.

The Fifth Element!

   
Until they weren't.

I joked with friends that I look like the insane "Smoke You" neighbor of Korbin Dallas in The Fifth Element...

The Fifth Element!

   
LEELOODALLASMULTIPASS!

The Fifth Element!

   
Anyway...

This morning I attempted to fix my hair. I was in surprisingly little pain, didn't have to take an Oxycodone, and felt in good enough shape to tackle my head.

I think I made things worse.

Apparently touch-ups are a more complicated matter than cutting your hair correctly the first time...

The Fifth Element!

   
I haven't decided if I'm going to give it another go this weekend. I'm pretty sure I can fix it if I wet my head first next time. And, hey, I always have the option of buzz-cutting it, or coming up with something totally different, so there's that...

The Fifth Element!

   
I should probably also look into making better life choices.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do a couple lines of cocaine and work on the electrical wiring in my bathroom.

   

Abandon All Hope for Humanity

Posted on Friday, May 26th, 2017

Dave!I have a trans friend that I met while working at a job site. She's a kind, caring, hard-working person who just wants to be left to live her life the best she can. Needless to say, it hasn't always been easy for her. She puts up with abuse that would humble the strongest of us, and she endures it most every day... for no other reason than there are people who don't accept who she is and refuse to just let her exist in peace. It's been an incredibly difficult life, but she's managed to get through it all by being true to who she is.

I just found out today that she was assaulted while walking home back in March.

In addition to recovering from having been physically beaten, she has had to work through the psychological trauma that comes from being reminded in a very real way that there are people who want you dead... just because you are different from them. That can't be an easy recovery to make. I hope she can heal. I hope she can find her way back to the person I know. I hope she continues to find strength in herself and those of us who care about her. Because this world needs her. This world is a better place with her in it.

My friend has devoted countless hours to a charity who does nothing but make people's lives better. She has a big heart and she gives what she can of it. And this is how society repays her. What chance is there for humans as a species when this is how we treat the best of us? The most giving of us?

Not much of a chance at all.

I am not quite ready to say "Abandon all hope for humanity"... but whenever something like this happens, I inch closer to believing it.

And when that day comes? We'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.

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Caturday 25

Posted on Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Dave!Shedding.

It's the one part of having cats I could really do without.

Because, let me tell you, Jake and Jenny have really stepped it up a notch when it comes to the amount of cat hair that's blowing through my home. I vacuum and vacuum and dust and dust but there is still loads of the stuff in every possible nook and cranny.

Which is why my most favorite thing ever is now THE FURMINATOR!

The Furminator!

It pulls dead hair off a cat like a magnet and, while it doesn't eliminate cat hair in my home completely, it has drastically reduced what I'm having to vacuum up.

At least it was... for Jenny, anyway. She used to love it, but now she's resisting it. I've had to go back to a "regular" cat brush. Not nearly as effective, but it's better than nothing. And she loves it...

Jenny Got Brushed!

Jenny Got Brushed!

You know it's good when she wants her belly brushed.

Every once in a while I will assault her with The Furminator because she so desperately needs it. Hopefully one day soon she'll be back to loving it again.

Maybe if I get her high on catnip before Furminating her? Jake isn't much affected by the stuff, but it makes Jenny go nuts...

If there's good news to be had in the shedding department, my cats spend most of the time out in the catio as of late. They are out there from sun-up to sun-down most days. The sights, sounds, and smells are vastly more entertaining than what they can find inside the house...

Out in the Catio!

By far the most exciting part of their day is when visitors stop by. Sometimes random dogs drop in, which is always exciting. Jenny wants none of it, and come charging in the house. Jake, on the other hand, is unfazed. Jenny doesn't have a problem with other cats though. Even when Fake Jake is being aggressive, she doesn't get to riled up anymore...

Fake Jake Encounter!

Fake Jake Encounter!

And speaking of Fake Jake...

The poor guy just wants some attention. Some days when I get home from work, he's over in the neighbor's driveway just meow... meow... meowing. My heart goes out to him, so I always call him over to get some pets. But no matter how long I spend with him, it's never enough. He always waits at the door wanting more...

Fake Jake Pets!

Fake Jake Pets!

This past week Fake Jake came over for some love while I was unloading groceries. After petting him for five minutes or so, I turned around and saw Real Jake glaring at me from the screen door. I was caught red-handed spending time with another cat, and he was pissed.

In proud cat dad news... Jake's diet has been paying off. He's down a pound since I changed to indoor food and started restricting his access to food! He's still a lovable lump of a cat, but somethings never change...

It's Jake!

It's Jake with his Toungue Out!

And... that's about it for cat news this week.

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Bullet Sunday 508

Posted on Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Dave!It's a glorious day, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Screen! If you love movies and want some brilliant insight into what makes them great, Lessons from the Screenplay is a series you should look into. I've been binge-watching every episode, and am always learning something new. This analysis of suspense in Inglourious Basterds is a favorite...

His latest video on "Examining an Adaptation" has some interesting observations on translating from book to screen and is also worth a look.

   
• Nukes! Well, my dick hasn't fallen off yet, so I'm guessing they managed to get the collapsed tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Site covered up before the radiation reached me...

Hanford Nuclear Site
Photo from The US Department of Energy

That's the thing about having the most radiation-soaked spot in the USA just 100 miles from your doorstep... mutants could be just minutes away.

   
• Card Crawl! Games on my iPhone are usually a waste of money for me, so most times I don't bother. But friends were raving about a solitaire-style game called Card Crawl, so I decided to give it a try. Easily the best game I've ever played on my phone. It's dungeon-themed, but you don't have to be a dungeon fan to enjoy it. In a nut-shell, you play shield and sword cards to battle monster cards, recover your health with potion cards, and get special skills with ability cards. The goal is to survive until the deck is depleted while racking up points... either by playing coin cards or selling potion/sword/shield cards...

iPhone App Card Crawl Game

In addition to unlockables to keep things fresh, the game is never boring because it completely changes based on what abilities you've unlocked and which ones end up in the deck (which can be random or constructed by you). Card Crawl is big fun for an occasional quick game... but it can also be a great way to pass hours on a flight or while avoiding cleaning house. You can learn more (or get a link to purchase) by visiting this website.

   
• Twin Peaks! Well grab me by the pussy and move on me like a bitch...

Insurance Costs Under TrumpCare

   
• Everyday Heroes. From the always-eloquent Dan Rather...

Dear President Trump,

Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best. One was a recent college graduate. The other was an army veteran and father of four. I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them. They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist.

This story may not neatly fit into a narrative you pushed on the campaign trail and that has followed you into the White House. They were not killed by an undocumented immigrant or a "radical Islamic terrorist." They were killed in an act of civic love, facing down a man allegedly spewing hate speech directed at two young Muslim women. That man seems to have a public record of "extremist ideology" - a term issued by the Portland Police Bureau.

This "extremism" may be of a different type than gets most of your attention, or even the attention in the press. But that doesn't make it any less serious, or deadly. And this kind of "extremism" is on the rise, especially in the wake of your political ascendency. Most people who study these sorts of things do not think that is a coincidence. I do blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large.

Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. It's even a "sanctuary city.." But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next.

I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice.

   
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

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Memorial Day

Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2017

Dave!In case you need a refresher: 10 Things to Remember About Memorial Day


Memorial Day

   

   

   

   

Trains in Absentia

Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Dave!After an early two-and-a-half-hour drive over the mountains for work this morning, I came to the conclusion that the horrific condition of public transportation in this country (particularly on the West Coast) is something Americans should be terribly embarrassed over.

I mean, seriously. our options here are so bad they might as well not even exist. Which explains why our roads are so badly crowded... everybody is in their car, despite the high cost, because public transportation can't get them where they want to go. At least not easily.

Take for example my situation this morning.

If our train system was anything like what you'll find in European or Asian countries, I'd walk to a local train that would take me to the neighboring city of Wenatchee where I'd board a regional train to Seattle. I'd then find a local train that ran out of Downtown over to West Seattle. Done.

But, in reality, I can't catch a local train. The tracks run right thought town, but there are no local trains, thus no local stops. So I have to drive to Wenatchee and hop a train there. Except the ONE train that runs from the station each day boards at 5:35am and doesn't arrive Seattle until 10:25. That's nearly 5 hours for something I can drive in half the time. Even worse, there is no train from downtown to West Seattle. I'd have to find a bus, assuming one even exists.

And so I end up driving, because that's the only real option available to me.

There have, of course, been multiple attempts at adding high-speed rail systems to Washington State. Usually they focus on the Western corridor from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA to Portland, OR. But sometimes they study plans for a route that runs Spokane to Wenatchee to Seattle too. Whether or not these trains ever happen is anybody's guess. But it's just too good of an idea to pass up, so hopefully one day.

Spokane to Seattle in under two hours? Wenatchee to Seattle in under an hour?

Where do I sign up?

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What The World Needs Now

Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Dave!Well, shit.

And so President Cheeto Jesus has said The United States will be exiting the Paris Accord on climate change. It's all bullshit, of course. His reasonings are either outright wrong or put into a context that has them defying reality. Which leaves us three possibilities as to what's going on...

  • President Trump is an outright liar, saying things he knows to be false.
  • President Trump is a fucking dumbass who doesn't know what he's saying is bullshit.
  • President Trump is psychopath, saying things he thinks are true but only because voices in his head say they are.

I'd start in on a rage-induced rant right now, but here's a more sensible approach from Adam Conover...

   

We have to reverse coarse on fucking up the planet while doing so can still make a difference. Taking giant steps backwards and giving away our leadership position when it comes to fighting for a healthier planet is about as dumb as it gets. Par for the course when it comes to our current president, but the country itself must be smarter than that.

The future of life on earth depends on it.

   

Fake Jerky Time!

Posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Dave!Back when I went vegetarian on Earth Day in 1988... some 29 years ago... it was not a terribly difficult decision. The girl I was dating was a vegetarian. I didn't like much meat anyway (outside of burgers, bacon, and pepperoni pizza), and there were some great "fake meats" hitting the market that I was able to substitute with little effort.

But there are times...

Back when we had a Burger King in town, I'd drive by the place while smelling the flame-cooked burgers filling the air, and give serious consideration to abandoning vegetarianism. Or I'd go to a breakfast buffet and see a big ol' plate of bacon and be transfixed... and be trying to resist shoving my face into the plate. Pepperoni was the worst. Pepperoni pizza. REAL pepperoni crisps up on the edges and forms little cups filled with meat oil that makes them about the most delicious thing you'll ever put in your mouth. And, unlike veggie burgers and veggie bacon that's "okay"... there is no acceptable pepperoni substitute that tastes anywhere close to the original.

If I ever fall off the vegetarian bandwagon, I can pretty much guarantee it will be over a pepperoni pizza.

What it won't be over is jerky.

Because there are some very good jerky substitutes out there, and I decided to take a look at some of the most highly-rated...

Fake Meat Jerky
   
Photos taken from FakeMeats.com

   
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky: Original
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch. It's got a fantastic texture that retains a bit of the toughness that "real" jerky has, but won't rip your teeth out. The shreds are compressed into square-isa pieces, which also makes them easy to eat. Unlike so many fake jerky products, the flavor is subtle. They aren't trying to blast through your tastebuds to conceal the fact that you're not eating meat. This is a mild jerky that counts on subtle notes of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for flavor instead of piling on the heat to obliterate it. If it weren't for the 480mg sodium per ounce, you could eat it all day! (though high sodium is typical for these products).
TASTE: ★★★★★ • TEXTURE: ★★★★★

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Maple Bacon
Despite my not tasting much maple or bacon flavor in the maple bacon variety, this is a very good brand of jerky. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I'd like, but nothing horrible. I do get a slight soy flavor lingering on my palette, but not offensively so... it's certainly better that than an over-flavored jerky! The texture is pleasing... not too tough, not too soft. Pieces are randomly shaped into strips that are meant to resemble actual jerky, so if you're transitioning, this might be a good brand to start. Sodium is a typical 480mg per ounce.
TASTE: ★★★★☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★★☆

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Smoked Black Pepper
Despite being the same brand as above, the texture is softer/spongier for some reason, and I'm not getting as great a "jerky experience." It's like the jerky is soggy or something. The smoke and black pepper elements are there, as promised, but most of what I'm tasting here is salt. It's only 20mg more than the Maple Bacon (500mg vs. 480mg) but after eating it for a while, that's all I can taste. Would be a better jerky if they could toughen up the texture (like Maple Bacon) and take out salt while adding a touch more black pepper.
TASTE: ★★★☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

May Wah Vegan Beef Jerky
This Chinese jerky has an interesting texture that's more "shredded" than other brands. I like it... but it also gets stuck in my teeth. The flavor is... odd... not really barbecue or smoke, though I get a hint of something similar. It's got a definite mustard element floating in there... and it's going in more of a sweet than spicy direction. Overall I don't dislike it... it's definitely different and tasty... it just isn't hitting my "jerky button" the way I'd like.
TASTE: ★★☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Mild
Stonewall's was my first vegetarian jerky. I had never tasted anything like it, and was buying it by the case at my local health food store. Then... after a year or so... something changed with the flavors. The "Original Mild" ended up with a horribly bitter flavor that left a nasty soy aftertaste. And while the texture is weird and spongy, I always ignored it because I liked the flavor so much. Now, after a decade of avoiding the stuff, I decided to try it again. Same thing. Same spongy texture. Same bitter flavor and soy aftertaste.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Wild
Same as above, except they pile on peppers and spices to add some heat. The heat does quash the bitter notes a bit, but I really don't like the end result.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Peppy Pepperoni
Back in the day, I thought the "pepperoni" flavor was pretty good. But now it's added to the same bitterness that has taken over the rest of the Stonewall's line and, even worse, has been made scorching spicy hot. So hot that any "pepperoni" notes are obliterated. If I wanted this flavor, I'd just drink a smokey hot sauce directly from the bottle.
TASTE: ☆☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Primal Strips: Texas BBQ
This stuff is tough, like real jerky, but they inexplicably soak it in sauce, so it ends up being more like a tough strip of meat in marinade than actual jerky. Your teeth will slide over the wet before you can get a bite, and even then you may not be able to bite all the way through on the first chomp. The flavor is not bad at all... it's definitely a sweet barbecue variety flavor... but once you get past the sugary-sweetness it's a little bland, having very little smoke elements.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ☆☆☆☆☆

   
That's it for this round. As I discover more great vegetarian jerky options, I'll update the list.

And if you're looking to purchase any of these products, you can get them all via one-stop-shopping from the good people at FakeMeats.com!

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My Biscuit, My Biscuit

Posted on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Dave!No matter how many tools I buy, there's always something more.

My latest purchase? A plate joiner... better known as a "biscuit cutter." This very cool tool cuts notches in the side of a wood board so they can be joined together with a small piece of oval-shaped wood (a "biscuit"). The biscuit swells when glue soaks into it, which makes the joints quite strong...

A biscuit cutter became necessary for a number of reasons. First is that I can't fit large pieces of wood in my car. Second is that my sliding miter saw can only handle lumber 8" deep, and when I need a precise angle I don't want to use hand-saw. Aligning small pieces of wood so they can be joined into a large piece of wood is tricky business without a plate joiner, so I bit the bullet and spent the $100.

It works fantastic...

FWood Joined by Biscuits

That's three pieces of 8-foot wood that's been biscuit-joined into a single piece, then filled and sanded smooth. The biscuit joint is not really meant to be for strength... it's more for alignment... but the board is about as solid as it gets. Nice!

The only problem is that every time I use my biscuit cutter, this song goes through my head...

All thanks to my Facebook friend, John, who just couldn't let me enjoy my biscuit cutter without Ivy Levan!

   

Bullet Sunday 509

Posted on Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Dave!The world may be on the brink of disaster, but have no fear, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Hey You Guys! LEGO Dimenions finally got around to releasing expansion packs for LEGO City Undercover and The Goonies. Both are excellent. Especially The Goonies, which is faithful to the source material in all the best ways. A lot of love went into this game...

Alex Honnold National Geographic

Which makes me even sadder that the rumor is LEGO Dimensions is being discontinued after the Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans GO!, and Beetlejuice packs are released this Fall. Such a shame. It just keeps getting better and better with each new release.

   
• Free Climb! Every year on Christmas Day I check to make sure that free-climber Alex Honnold is still alive. Things like this are why: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever...

Alex Honnold National Geographic
Photo by Jimmy Chin and National Geographic

Alex Honnold National Geographic
Photo by Jimmy Chin and National Geographic

For the money, I maintain that Alex is the world's greatest living athlete. I cannot comprehend how he does what he does.

   
• If You Were Here! The Thompson Twins are one of my all-time favorite bands. If You Were Here is one of my favorite songs by the band. If you had told me that I'd like a cover of this track, I'd say you were crazy. But then Kitty Hawk released one years ago that is actually really good...

It will never take the place of the original, but it's nice to hear a different take on the song.

   
• Hasan! If you haven't already taken my advice and seen Hasan Minhaj's comedy special: Homecoming King on Netflix, you need to do that right now. And, when you've seen it and start suffering from withdrawals, you'll be happy to know that he is still over at The Daily Show... stealing entire episodes with a two-minute appearance...

Hasan Minhaj Spells Confefe

If you have a minute, you should watch this segment...

Assuming you can. Comedy Central's video streaming goes down so often that I'm surprised they even bother...

Hasan Minhaj Something Is Wrong

Seriously. Minimum 50% of the time, Comedy Central is dead now-a-days.

   
• Sick. Of. This. Shit! This week in the news, Fucking Dumbass Bigot Says Gays Are Like Hitler, Trans Kids Are All the Devil...

Alex Honnold National Geographic
Photo from YouTube / The New Civil Rights Movement

Uh huh. Hitler. Yeah. Got it. The Nazis killed up to 20 million people. That totally equates to gay and trans people just wanting to have the same rights as everybody else and, well... existing... and such. — What a repugnant piece of shit. What a complete douche of a human being. What a fucking asshole. But one day she'll be dead and nobody will care... NOBODY WILL FUCKING CARE... so there's that.

And, lest we forget that bigotry doesn't end there, also in the news this week: Anti-Muslim Protests Planned in 23 Cities Across the Country. — As recent headlines will attest, we are in more danger from white Christian terrorists than anything coming out of our Muslim communities. But, sure, let's protest brown people because it fits the narrative being rammed down our throats from the highest levels of government. What a bunch of hypocritical fucking "religious freedom" loving dumbasses. Apparently you have the "freedom" to be whatever religion you want... so long as it's Christian.

   
And... back to the day's disasters...

   

Apple WWDC 2017

Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2017

Dave!And so it's time once again to tune into the Apple World Wide Developer Conference keynote to find out what everybody's favorite fruit-based tech company has up their sleeves for second quarter 2017.

I have to admit, I no longer get ramped up for these Apple things like I used to. In the past, I would take a frickin' vacation day when the WWDC keynote was unspooling just so I could unpack all the Apple goodness that had been unleashed. I'd pour over every minute and blog epic breakdowns of everything that was announced.

Now?

Well, I'm still excited over Apple's stuff... they're an exciting company. But the way they keep screwing up has me less enthused than I once was. I bought into their HomeKit home automation tech, only to find out that it is a total load of crap. They keep making "pro" equipment that isn't for "pros." The reliability of their products is in the toilet, and the way they address their lack in quality is bullshit. Meanwhile Microsoft is killing it with their Surface line, easily picking up the pro design market that Apple is abandoning.

But I digress.

Rather than have to watch hours of keynote like I did, here's a 19 minute recap that tells you everything you need to know (assuming you haven't seen it already)...

And here are my reactions...

  • Amazon on Apple TV. It's about frickin' time. I mean, I know this was probably more an Amazon issue than an Apple issue, but the wait has just been silly. A pity that the Apple content delivery is so shitty. I still can't get reliable streaming of my Apple video purchases despite every other streaming service in existence working perfectly fine... even on my AppleTV.
  • watchOS 4 Some nifty features. It's interesting how Apple has cracked the nut here that so many companies have failed with. Problem is that the watches are still too thick and clunky to be comfortable on me.
  • MacOS High Sierra. As the self-proclaimed "Heart and Soul of Apple," the company sure doesn't seem to be putting the Mac on the same level as their phone/watch/tablet products. This update to the MacOS offers some interesting features... in particular the new file system that's been a long time coming... but most of it is fluff. Where is the groundbreaking innovation that's going to keep the Mac platform moving forward? Certainly not at this keynote.
  • VRkit. Mass adoption of Virtual Reality isn't going to happen until it's much cheaper... and a hell of a lot less cumbersome and uncomfortable. When Apple releases VR that's accessed with a pair of glasses instead of some janky headset, maybe I will get excited. But now? Interesting and entertaining for early adopters, but it's got a long, long way to go before it's an essential technology.
  • iMac Pro. Why the fuck can't Apple get it through their heads that all this "pro" equipment they are releasing is not what pros are wanting? Your "pro" Mac option is now a fucking iMac? An iMac? A $5000 computer you can't expand or self-service? Oh... but it comes in fucking "Space Gray," so that makes up for everything! Give me a fucking break. Yes, it's an awesome computer... a powerfully awesome computer that looks great... but it is NOT WHAT PROS ARE LOOKING FOR!
  • iOS 11. Messages syncing is great, Personal Apple Pay is wonderful. Upgraded Siri is awesome... especially the translation feature! Siri learning and persistence is cool. Photo upgrades are welcome. New Control Center is overdue. Do Not Disturb while driving is critical to help keep dumbasses from being dangerous on the road. ARkit augmented reality is sweet, but kind of gimmicky.
  • iPad Pro. Wishing this was my iPad. The upgraded display is phenomenal, and looks like it will make using Apple Pencil even more remarkable. But the best part is the new size. The move from 9.7" to 10.5" feels like the perfect move... just a little bit more room to be more productive, but not to the cumbersome degree of the 12.9" model. I don't know that these new iPads are the ideal answer to Microsoft's Surface, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. But at a price.
  • iOS for iPad. If Apple keeps bringing desktop features to iPad, pretty soon they won't need to sell desktops. Which is probably the ultimate goal here. File management is finally here and, while not as feature-rich as I had hoped, it's still very much a step in the right direction.
  • HomePod. I'll buy one. Absolutely. This is the perfect device for playing music in my bedroom... perhaps even in my living room. But when it comes to home automation, it's too little too late. WAY too little because it relies on Apple's shitty HomeKit technology that I've abandoned. WAY too late because Amazon's Alexa does so much more in every arena, and already controls my home automation perfectly. To me, this is competition to SONOS, not Alexa. Maybe one day that will change, but Apple is going to have to integrate with other systems like Amazon has done in order to make any headway.

All in all... some nice upgrades in the OS and software departments, but more of the same bullshit for pro design users. A market Apple used to own, but is throwing away with gleeful abandon. Leaving me to wonder if my next computer will be running Windows. My license for Adobe's Creative Cloud Suite works for Mac or Windows, and they function the same on both systems. Food for thought.

   

She’s a Wonder…

Posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Dave!I've been a fan of Wonder Woman since I was 11 years old and Lynda Carter appeared on my television wearing those satin tights. By the time her final season aired, my 13-year old self was head over heels in love. Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. At least she was the closest thing to Wonder Woman mere mortals could get.

After the cancelation of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, my interest in the Amazonian princess waned. I was a huge DC Comics nerd, but never bought many Wonder Woman comics unless a guest star I liked was showing up. Most of my exposure to her came from her appearances in Justice League of America, where she was almost always overshadowed.

And then... genius artist and storyteller George Pérez rebooted Wonder Woman in 1987...

Wonder Woman #1 Cover

The series is a master-work, delving deep into the Greek mythology of the character. No longer a "female Superman," Diana had a clear purpose and direction that distinguished her from other super-heroes in the DC stable. Having married my love of Greek mythology with my love of comic books, I became a massive Wonder Woman fan.

Fast-forward to today, and we have a new iteration of Wonder Woman to capture our imaginations. This time, finally... at long last, on the silver screen...

Wonder Woman Movie Poster

I'm going to put my spoiler-laden review in an extended entry, because the last thing I want to do is ruin such an amazing film for those who haven't seen it. Suffice to say that it is one of the best DC Comics adaptation we've yet seen. Only The Dark Knight can touch it. And nobody could be more thrilled than I am to say that. After the horrendously shitty string of DC movies we've endured... Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, and (Lord help us) the pile of shit known as Batman vs. Superman... I was beginning to lose hope.

But Wonder Woman changes everything. Faithful to the source material. Beautifully designed with mind-blowing special effects. Flawlessly cast. Terrific story. Awesome directing. Great music. It's the total package, and everything you want in a super-hero film. It's so good that you'd almost think it was a Marvel movie!

So... definitely go see it before reading any further...

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Nothing, with All That it Entails

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Dave!Work has been killing me as of late, which means I don't have time for anything but working. Part of it is my fault... I volunteered for a project I really shouldn't have with all I've got going on... but blame doesn't much matter when deadlines are looming.

And so. Work. Nothing else.

Well... nothing except trying to get my year-end vacation arranged.

Last night I built the flight itinerary that gets me to Buenos Aires. It was such a long process with so many pro/con decisions to weigh that I ultimately left it so I could take a look with fresh eyes this morning. When I woke up, I was more confused than ever, so I decided to leave it until lunch. At noon I waded through it all again but still couldn't decide what I wanted to do. The plan was to take another look tonight after dinner, but the thought of looking at it again was filling me with dread. So while I was waiting for my computer to run a backup up this afternoon, I logged in, booked the flight as it was, and will just trust it will all work out. If not, I guess I'm stuck in South America for a while...

XXX

8,600 miles of flying. Which is not quite as bad as the 10,600 miles it took to get to Johannesburg on my last big vacation.

But, still... quite a lot of flying.

   

I Wish I Cared

Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Dave!"It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."
—Peter Gibbons, Office Space

There comes a point where you see just how bad the world has become and you have to decide if you're going to be one of those people who frets over every new horror... or if you're just going to say "fuck it" and not give a shit anymore.

I'm firmly in the latter camp.

It's not that I'm happy about no longer caring... I wish I did care... but it's just no longer practical. Every day it's something new and worse, so I'm going to spend my remaining years on this planet in a blissful state of detachment...

   

And you know what? I feel better already.

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Caturday 26

Posted on Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Dave!I've been doing some construction in my bedroom, which has been a source of much anguish for my cats. They don't like the smell of the paint. They don't like the dust. They don't like the noise of my power tools. They really don't like the noise of the vacuum cleaner running all the time. I try to keep the door closed so that Jake and Jenny don't walk in paint or get hurt on something, and that's the thing they seem to hate most. They are used to going where they please and telling them they can't is tantamount to tragedy for them.

The thing they do like is that the bedroom windows are open for ventilation. Never mind that they have an entire catio open to the outside world... they like experiencing the outdoors from up high...

Jake and Jenny at the Window Screen

It worries me that they might find a way to punch through the screen and escape, so I've been closing the bedroom door every day when I leave. But last week I realized I forgot, and had to rush home to make sure they hadn't escaped. Which they hadn't. Thankfully.

Speaking of the outdoors...

Fake Jake still comes running for petting whenever he sees me. One day this past week he got a little bit more... aggressively affectionate... when I was giving him a rubdown and split my thumb open...

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

I was taking photos of him, so I actually caught the moment when it happened...

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

Fake Jake Mauling

He was undeterred by my pain and didn't let up on wanting more petting...

Fake Jake Mauling

Such a sweetheart to people... well, he tries to be a sweetheart when he doesn't have you running for antibiotic cream. Not such a sweetheart to other cats though.

Real Jake is as sweet as ever, often laying down with me when I'm in bed watching television or reading...

Jake Hanging on the Bed

He's not so sweet when he's busting the heck out of the last two crackers in the package...

Jake Eating My Crackers

But at least he eats what he kills...

Jake Eating My Crackers

Jenny has been really skittish as of late. Unless I walk towards her slowly and talk to her, she'll run off and hide. She hasn't acted like this since she was a kitten, so I'm not sure what's going on. Like Jake, she spends most of her time hanging out in the catio. Though with her it's a little more literal...

Jenny Hanging Out

Along with being far more skittish, she no longer allows me to pick her up. And any touching has to be on her terms now. Fortunately, she wants a lot of attention, so I'm not deprived...

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Jenny Morning Scratchers

Such a pretty girl.

And, with that, I'm off to make more noise, dust, and stink in my bedroom.

   

Bullet Sunday 510

Posted on Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Dave!Time to bask in the rosy glow of the blogosphere, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Batman! It's difficult for me to think about Sunday bullets when my head is trying to wrap itself around the passing of original Batman Adam West. It's even tougher to try and explain how his television show influenced my childhood. Yes, the show was cheesy as all get-out, but my love of comic books and super-heroes all goes back to Batman, which I faithfully watched in reruns every day after school...

Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin!

But the thing that cemented me as an Adam West fan is how the actor totally owned his character, and leveraged everybody's love of who he was to get an entirely new career as an animation voice actor. While probably best known for the Mayor of Quahog in The Family Guy, he voiced dozens of roles...

The Family Guy Mayor Adam West

There have been a lot of famous people rushing to express their condolences, but the one we've been waiting for is from Adam West's Robin, Burt Ward. And with that... godspeed, Adam West. You will be missed.

   
• Black Panther! And... we're finally getting a real look at the long-awaited Black Panther movie. Like everything Marvel touches, it's looking incredible...

And, to think, we've got the new Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok movies coming soon! So great.

   
• LEGO CATS! What happens when two of your favorite things get smooshed into one? There is a company making LEGO Cats!

LEGO Cats!

AWESOME! Thanks to long-time friend and food blogger extraordinaire, Foodiddy, for the link!

   
• Nail Me! Of the many tools I've invested in, my pneumatic brad nailer is one of my favorites. Being able to BAP! BAP! BAP! nails into place is a time-saving bit of wonderful I can't get enough of. There's a price you pay, however, and that's having to lug around an air compressor. For this reason, I've been dreaming of buying a nailer that is cordless and tankless... like the Milwaukee 18-Volt 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer...

Milwaukee Fuel 18 Nailer

Problem is... it's like $400, which is a lot of money.

But then Home Depot sends me an email saying it's on sale at 40% off... just $240! And that comes with a new M18 Fuel battery! Sweet! I mean, I don't have $240, so it will have to sit on my credit card with my biscuit cutter, but it's still pretty great. If you're in the market for such a thing, the sale runs through June 21st!

   
• NEWSFLASH: A Studio Ghibli Theme Park Is CONFIRMED for 2020. — And... guess where I'll be going in 2021? There is no way to properly express my enthusiasm for even the idea of such a magical place.

   
• Humanity! I think it's awful we have to make commercials to explain lessons in Humanity 101 but, if we must, this is what it should look like...

This wonderful spot on foster homes for kids is not something new for Norway, they are also responsible for this amazing commercial...

And yet I live in a country that would rather build a useless border wall that will ultimately cause more harm than good (while doing fuck-all nothing to solve drugs or illegal immigration problems) instead of put any money towards those who need it most. That's how fucked up things are now, and how far we've fallen from the basic humanity that used to define us. Shameful.

   
• NEWSFLASH! Jeff Sessions says he’s ‘surprised’ Americans aren’t embracing his anti-marijuana stance. I'm betting a LOT of things surprise this dumbass moron. Like electricity. And indoor toilets. And being able to bring a woman to orgasm...

Sessions Dumbfuckery
Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

I am sick and fucking tired of wealthy old white men making decisions based on their idiotic, antiquated notions. Legalization of cannabis is a growing trend because THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY WANT IT, and I find it ironic that Sessions comes from a party who's all about state's rights... except when it comes to something he doesn't like. What a fucking hypocritical douche.

   
And... no more bullets. There's a new episode of American Gods to be watching!

   

Closet Space

Posted on Monday, June 12th, 2017

Dave!Ask anybody who knows me... I am most definitely not into clothes.

But I do want to wear nice clothes, so I save my money all year long and purchase everything on Black Friday. This is essentially doubling my buying power, even though any summer clothes I get will be "last year's models" by the time I end up wearing them. Oh well, because: affordable clothes. Which I hate shopping for. And the only thing I hate more than shopping for clothes? Finding a way to organize them in my closet.

When I moved into my new home one of the first things I looked at was the closets. Since the place was built in 1997, I was hoping it was "modern" enough to have smart closet spaces. But it didn't. Same old rod with a shelf on it that I had in my last place. This means all my shirts will end up scattered around while my suits hang in the corner and all my jeans get stacked on the shelf. Again.

Such a waste of space.

So I looked into some of those "closet organizer" websites where you can custom design exactly what you need. For me, this is rather simple...

  • A central shelving unit to organize my growing collection of denim.
  • Separated spaces for my shirts and suits.
  • Space for my dirty clothes hampers, which I am tired of tripping on.

This ends up looking something like this...

Expensive Closet Organizer!

There are several problems here...

  • I'd have to toss out the rod on the bottom right to make room for the hampers.
  • The shelves are those wimpy "peg & hole" kind, which I hate. I am not even sure that they would support the weight of denim jeans stacked six high.
  • There is wasted space under the shelves where I would rather have more shelves!
  • The pieces hang on the wall, which seems dicey as hell.
  • The don't let you fill in all available space.
  • It's not real wood, so the quality will suck.
  • FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN DOLLARS FOR THIS PIECE OF SHIT? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?!??

And so, I added "Closet Organizer" to my list of woodworking projects. Then, a couple weeks ago I sketched out what I needed, headed to Home Depot for lumber, then worked on the thing whenever I had a spare moment. It turned out amazingly awesome in every way...

Dave's Home-Built Closet Organizer!

Features...

  • Solid wood and built like a tank.
  • Shelf supports for extra strength... won't collapse even when packed with heavy jeans.
  • Plenty of space for my 36-pair denim collection (biggest Black Friday savings).
  • Still room in the header for blankets, pillows, and storage.
  • Brushed stainless steel rods and hardware to match my ceiling fan.
  • Separate spaces for suits, shirts, and T-shirts.
  • Room for easy-access laundry hampers.
  • Beautifully constructed! Does not look like a cheap piece of crap.
  • $189 in materials. LESS THAN HALF THE COST OF THE SHITTY ONLINE ALTERNATIVE!

Well, it's kinda half the cost of the shitty online alternative. I ended up buying a biscuit cutter to join boards together, which added a $100 expense to the project that I wasn't anticipating. Even so... I still saved around $125 AND I've got a biscuit cutter than I'm sure to use on many future projects!

Oh... I think the cats like it too...

Jenny Investigates My Closet Organizer!

So... all in all a fantastic investment of my time. And I had fun building it to boot... almost no swearing!

On to the next project, whatever that will be.

   

Some Ants Love Fats and I’ve Got Moles

Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Dave!So there I was, merrily hacking away on my latest project at work when I feel something tickling my hand. I look down and there's an ant crawling on it. "Well hello there, little fellow? Did you get lost?" Then, as I am getting up to take him outside, I notice ants E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. Crawling on the floor. Crawling up my desk. Crawling on my Doritos...

"HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIT! ANNNNNNNNTS!!! I scream.

I then shake off the ant on my hand, run and get the vacuum cleaner, then unleash armageddon upon the ants.

You see, when it's one ant, it's cute. When it's a swarm of ants... not so cute. That's when my Buddhist leanings towards all life being precious and doing no harm get chucked right out the fucking window. DIIIIIIIE! DIE YOU SCUM!!!

After looking around to see if Ant-Man was hiding in a corner somewhere, I went and whined about it to a co-worker. I was upset that there were ants. I was upset I had to Hoover them. I was really upset I had to Hoover my Doritos.

"Ah. They were after the Doritos then."
"What? Why? Ants love sugar. I eat Doritos because they have zero sugar."
"SOME ants like sugar. Other ants love grease."
"GREASE?!?"
"Yeah, grease. Fats. Like in your Doritos."

I Google that shit and, sure enough. some ants love fats.

I did not know that.

What I DO know? I've got moles. At least that's what the internet tells me after I shared my security camera footage...

The mole dug along my sidewalk, then popped up in front of my flower bed.

I have lived in this region of Redneckistan most of my life. I've never seen a mole. The only place I've seen a mole hill is not anywhere around here. I've also seen them in cartoons. Figures that the time I finally have a mole experience is when I buy a home and they are tearing up my front yard.

I did Google that shit to find out what I'm dealing with, only to find that moles are kinda cute...

Moles Are Cute... Photo from Adobe Stock!

They're also smaller than I thought. Like... tiny. Fit-in-your-hand-tiny. Amazing how they can cause such a ruckus when they're so small.

Anyway... turns out that moles, unlike ants, are aggressively solitary. Which means I probably only have one mole.

The last thing I want to do is kill him so, thanks to the internet, it's been suggested I try ultrasonic spikes to drive him away. I ordered them immediately and they will be here Thursday. And Thursday can't get here fast enough. The little bastard is really going to town. I came home to this...

Mole Holes in my Yard!

I may not have a yard left by Thursday!

I always wondered where "Whack-A-Mole" came from.

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The Full Three Hole Monty

Posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Dave!Today hasn't been the greatest of days. Too much to do and not enough time to do it... despite working day and night. Might as well take a blogging break.

Even though what I should really be doing is cleaning my disaster of a house. Jenny has decided she's an interior decorator, and keeps moving things around. This morning she moved her scratching pad, her brush loop, all the couch pillows, and a box I was using as a garbage bin. As if that weren't enough, it seems that one of the cats got wet paws and then tracked mud(?) though half the downstairs, so that needs to be mopped up as well.

But not tonight.

If you read yesterday's entry, you know that I have a mole in my front yard. I've named him Monty. And now I want him to go away, because he's been busy... there were three additional holes that popped up this morning. Those ultrasonic stakes I ordered cannot get here quick enough, but tomorrow will have to do.

I did have a mole-related scare this afternoon.

I received an alert on my phone from the security system, and rightly assumed it was the yard care team mowing the lawn.

WAIT... mowing the lawn?!?

MONTY!!!!

Yard Care Horror!

I don't know that I've ever worried over something that I want gone before, but here we are.

I kept checking the cameras to see if I'd get a glimpse of him digging up my lawn again, but it never happened. When I got home I went looking for any sign of Monty... and there it was. A fresh mole hill in my flowerbed. Assumably, my rodent is still around.

Which is good? I guess?

Hopefully I will feel different as I am planting my ultrasonic mole deflector shields tomorrow.

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One Hundred Sixteen

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Dave!Thanks to ceiling fans and evening ventilation, I have yet to turn on the air conditioner this year despite having some 90°+ days.

Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. Next to heating, running the air conditioner is the most expensive use of electricity I have. It can easily approach $100 per month if I'm not careful. Like last year when, apparently, I really liked being cool on hot days. This year I can't afford not to be careful, hence my ecstatic nature.

Next week this time I will be in Las Vegas for some meetings and to visit friends. The temperature there has consistently been over 100° with the forecast calling for a high of 116°... that's ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN DEGREES.

Fortunately I am not paying for that air conditioning.

In other news, I finally got my hands on the Wonder Woman: The Art and The Making of the Film book...

Wonder Woman: The Art of The Making of The Film Book

I love these kind of movie books... especially for the Marvel super-hero films and the Disney/Pixar films. I usually end up buying all of them, as the "how" is sometimes even more interesting than the movies themselves. This one is no exception. The production values on Wonder Woman were incredible, and seeing all the thought behind some of the decisions made just adds to the experience.

Of particular interest is the design for Themiscyra, home of the Amazons. If you've seen the film, you can just imagine.

And if you've seen the film and like it as much as I do, then checking out this book is a must.

   

And Justice for All… With Exceptions

Posted on Friday, June 16th, 2017

Dave!Today I just want off this sick, sad world.

Probably tomorrow as well.


   

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Caturday 27

Posted on Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Dave!Life with cats is never boring. Well, actually it's mostly boring. Cats sleep... like... an insane amount of time. But the bits where they are awake is interesting. Mostly because my cats do not exhibit consistent behavior. Just when you think you have a handle on them, they mix it up, and start doing something entirely different.

Jenny, for example, did not "meow" the first 8 months I had her. Unlike Jake, who seems physically unable to "meow," apparently it was because she just didn't feel like it. Then... it started. Just weak little meows from time to time when she wanted attention. That transitioned into this kind of forlorner meow (that was bordering on a wail) when she wanted attention, which breaks your heart. And now? When Jenny really wants your attention, the meows are unleashed. They still sound a bit "sad," but they are numerous and loud.

At first I went running whenever she exhibited this behavior, because I was worried something was seriously wrong. More than once I've gone tearing down the stairs worried that she's sick or trapped under a rogue meteorite that crashed through the ceiling. Nope. She just wanted to be petted, and didn't feel like climbing up the stairs for it.

Most mornings now she will patiently wait for me outside the shower. Apparently she loves rubbing against you when you're damp. Once the water turns off, the clock is ticking. If I take too long drying off, she will start meowing for me to hurry up.

That pussy ain't gonna pet itself, so it would seem.

As I've mentioned many times, Jenny brings me a morning "tribute" in exchange for me getting out of bed and serving her breakfast. She'll waltz in with a toy (or several) and drop them on the floor by my bed anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before she's due to be fed. Here, for example, she's just dropped off Tan Mouse and is looking up at me in expectation of food...

Jenny's Morning Tribute!

Jenny's Morning Tribute!

Some mornings she will haul a tribute toy all the way upstairs, but discard it before she gets to my bedroom in favor of a different toy...

Jenny's Morning Tribute on My Stairs!

There are times this results in a kind of interesting art installation on my stairs...

Jenny's Morning Tribute on My Stairs!

Her favorite toys, these crinkle-fish that have catnip in them, are rarely offered as tribute. She prefers to keep them with her so Jake can't take them, especially when she's ready for a nap. She'll hunt one or two of them down, then crawl into bed. Like she did here with Blue Fish...

Jenny Sleeping with Her Fish Toy!

You can't tell in this photo (because I was too slow) but she's hugging Green Fish in her little paws...

Jenny Sleeping with Her Fish Toy!

Also new? Jenny has started moving furniture in the mornings while waiting for breakfast to be served. She starts by dragging all the couch pillows onto the floor then moving them around. Then she goes after anything she can physically move. Like the box I've been using for garbage while cleaning out my filing cabinet. Or the brush loop. Or her little scratcher lounge...

Jenny Sleeping with Her Fish Toy!

If I hadn't heard it going on and seen it on security camera footage, I would never have believed it. She will drag/push that thing across the entire house. And it's almost as big as she is! I have no idea why she's decided to become an interior decorator, but here we are.

As for Jake?

Still being Jake. Though a little bit grumpier because I've had him on a veterinarian-dictated diet. And since he's a fairly active cat, he's been losing weight quite nicely. His pronounced belly is almost gone...

Kitties Exploring my Desk!

Jake and Jenny's favorite place remains the catio. Now that it's warmer, they are out there all day long. Jenny will even stay out all night, because that's the best time for catching and eating bugs, apparently. Earlier this week they were both out there while I was working on the couch. All of a sudden they come dashing in the house, then take up residence on the loveseat so they can observe the catio from afar. Turns out the giant dopey black lab was back for a visit, which they do not like at all...

Kitties Watching the Catio!

Though Jenny tried to make the best of a bad situation, as always...

Jenny Grabbing Jake by the Tail!

Jenny Grabbing Jake by the Tail

More excitement was to be had this week because they are repairing the stucco on the condos. This included the stucco in the catio, which meant I had to finally use the pet door blocker to keep them from running out...

Stucco Work in the Catio!

Jake was most definitely not okay with having his catio privileges revoked, because the catio is his favorite place to be. He decided to compensate for his disappointment by being a BAD, BAD KITTY and crawling on the kitchen counters, regardless of how many times I told him to GET OFF OF THERE...

Jake Being a BAD BAD KITTY!

Time for the Clorox Wipes. Again.

Why can't he stay out of the kitchen like his sister?

Oh well. Jake wouldn't be Jake if he wasn't thumbing his paw at authority.

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Bullet Sunday 511

Posted on Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Dave!Happiest of Father's Days to all the dads out there, including mine! Your special day is about to get a whole lot specialer, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Buck/Mac! It's tough to say whether I'm a bigger fan of "Classroom Instruments" on Fallon or "Carpool Karaoke" on Corden because I love them both. But when Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie are the ones performing on "Classroom Instruments," it's kinda a no-brainer. My Fleetwood Mac love is strong with them...

Also on Jimmy this week... a terrific installment of "Google Translate Songs" with Miley Cyrus!

I sure wish they'd make a new Hannah Montana movie!

   
• Batman! And now from the "Senseless Crap I want Because I Just Can't Help Myself" department... BOB ROSS FUNKO POP!

Bob Ross Funko POP! Character!

I mean, come on. Bob Ross is an inspiration to all of us! How cool is this?

   
• Magic Wand! ZOMG! TOTAL MAGIC FOR CLEANING TOILETS!

Clorox Toilet Wand Magic!

When my toilet brush died, I went shopping and found this thing on sale. I didn't like the idea of it being wasteful with the disposable scrubber pads, but it's not like I scrub my toilet every single day, so I pulled the trigger. If nothing else, it's a lot more sanitary. Holy crap! So easy! And powerful! I use one pad on both toilets and it works better than any amount of scrubbing with my old brush. If you haven't tried this, and like bathroom cleaning chores to be dead-simple, it's worth a look!

   
• A.I.! In news that should surprise absolutely nobody, an Artificial Intelligence developed its own non-human language after being programmed by Facebook to negotiate like people. Because of course bots observing Facebook would have to develop their own language! I mean, come on, mere human words can't describe the horrors you'll find on Facebook. I wonder how they say "ALL HUMANS MUST DIE!" in their language? Because I know that this would be my first conclusion after having looked at Facebook for my entire existence.

   
• Bargain! Whoa! The new 15-Gauge Milwaukee cordless nail gun I just got for 40% off at Home Depot (Reg. $400, Sale $240) came with $155 worth of stuff! Which means I got an awesome nail gun for $85! How is this even possible? Sweet!

  • M18 & M12 Rapid Charger ($80)
  • M18 Battery ($50)
  • Milwaukee Tool Bag ($25)

Milwaukee Fuel 18 Nailer

So glad I didn't pass up this deal, even though I couldn't afford it and am now sitting in some credit card debt. If you would also like to go into debt, the sale is going on through the 21st of this month (that's Wednesday).

   
• Bye, Aisha! Ending on a sad note, Aisha Tyler is leaving The Talk after this season. Needless to say, I'm gutted. Usually with talk shows I look at who the guest is and only watch if it's somebody I like. Not so with The Talk. I watch every episode. It's the first thing to spool off my DVR when I get home. I love the show and, while all the ladies are wonderful, it was Aisha Tyler that got me to start watching...

I am excited for the many opportunities she has, but sad to see that she will no longer be waiting for me when I get off work. I have nothing but the very best wishes for all her future endeavors. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

   
And there's bullets for you.

   

The Great Jake Escape

Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2017

Dave!And so I'm dead now.

When I went upstairs to watch Netflix in bed at 9pm last night, Jenny was still out in the catio. When I finally decided to go to sleep at around 11pm, I checked the cameras and saw she was still out there. This is not unusual, as she loves chasing bugs in the catio at night. Jake, I assumed, was off asleep somewhere.

When I woke up at 2am, I checked the cameras and saw that Jenny was still out in the catio. No Jake. I activated all the internal cameras. Still no Jake. I assumed that he was still off sleeping somewhere. So I started scrubbing backwards through the internal cameras so I could figure out where.

Jake was nowhere to be found. The last time he showed up was 7:15pm, when he was climbing down the cat tree.

Holy crap! Did I lock him in the laundry room?

No.

I can't find him anywhere.

No big deal, I grab the cat treats and shake the bag. Jenny comes running in from the catio immediately.

No Jake.

This is unprecedented. For Jake to not show up for kitty snacks is inconceivable. He loves those things. Loves them. The only reason he wouldn't show up is because he's trapped somewhere. Or dead.

And thus begins 20 minutes of total panic as I proceed to tear my house apart.

Still no Jake. He's vanished.

Either he has wedged himself somewhere I haven't thought of or... he got outside somehow?

Total panic becomes a complete meltdown as I start checking outside cameras. And there he is. Wandering around the back yard. At least he was at 1:28am, which was almost an hour previous...

Jake Outside!

What. The. Hell?

At first I thought it might be Fake Jake, but the more I watch the video, the more I'm convinced it really is Jake, and he managed to escape. Some way. Some how.

I am trying to think if I have ever been at the panic level I was at that moment.

I honestly don't think I have.

And so there I am, out in the catio with the door wide open, shaking a bag of treats. He shows up minutes later...

Jake Rescued from Outside!

But... how? How did he get out? He was around when I got home from work, I'm sure of it. Did he escape when I took out the garbage? Did I leave a window open somewhere and he pushed out the screen? Is there a hole in the fencing on the catio?

Back to the cameras. And... turns out he pushed off the roof of the catio (video at 8x speed)...

A couple things to note:

  1. Jake paces back and forth, pushing on the roof at different spots. It's like he knows he can push through somewhere if he can get the leverage.
  2. I can't see where he drops to the ground. I'm guessing he jumps over to the shrub, and climbs down that way?
  3. Jenny totally watches him escape.
  4. Eventually Jenny pushes through the roof as well, but chooses not to leave. Thank heavens.
  5. The catio is now closed, pending my securing the roof panels.

From what I can tell, Jake was never too far away from the catio. He appears on the back porch several times throughout the night (video at 8x speed)...

Though he did circle the entire building once. He appears in the front yard at 11:45pm... goes out of frame at the bottom near midnight... then reappears at the top of the frame exactly 30 minutes later. Heaven only knows what he did along the way (video at 8x speed)...

More than once he tries to find a way back into the catio, and most times his sister is on the other side watching him...

Jake Watches Jenny!

Jenny Watches Jake!

So there you have it... Jake's big adventure.

And my nervous breakdown. Because all I can think about is how this could have happened tomorrow when I'm traveling and Jake would have been stuck outside.

Needless to say, I won't be getting any sleep tonight. If ever.

Maybe if I would stop checking the video cameras every 15 minutes to make sure the cats are still inside and safe...

Jake Safe Inside!

Cats. What can you do?

   
UPDATE: Turns out my framing contractor (who also made the roof for the catio) used screws that were way too short. They were barely grabbing into the wood. So when Jake was walking back and forth pushing on the ceiling, the screws were popping out like rivets...

Short Screws!

Short Screws!

I'm replacing them all with screws that are 2-1/2" times longer.

Short Screws!

And... Jake and Jenny can enjoy their catio once again.

And... I can have the peace of mind that the cats can't get out.

Until the next time.

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Vegas Redux, Day One

Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Dave!And so I'm off to Las Vegas again. This time for work.

The drive over the mountains was blissfully uneventful. Many times, I was the only person on the road. Which is kind of a weird feeling. Like every other human on earth had vanished or something.

My flight was delayed three times, which is getting to be the new normal. The exact same thing happened with my last flight to Denver. This wouldn't be so bad... I mean, I've had it a lot worse than an hour... except the delay happened at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is one of the shittiest airports on earth. Not only is everything broken all the time, but they prioritize shopping kiosks and storefronts over passengers needing a place to sit down. Thus most every gate has grossly deficient seating, leaving everybody standing or sitting on the floor. It would be great if the Port of Seattle would one day remodel the airport so it's not total shit and at least attempts to provide for customer comfort... but, alas...

This trip I'm staying on The Strip. This means there's a lot more options for dining I like, but I've seen all the hotels many times over so I am quickly coming to prefer staying in Old Town. Oh well. I get to add another hotel to my checklist of "Strip Hotels I've Stayed At," which is now at half...

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • Caesars Palace
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay/Delano
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • MGM Grand
  • Monte Carlo
  • New York New York
  • Sarahara (now SLS/The W)
  • Venetian/Palazzo
  • Wynn/Encore

The thirteen left to go...

  • Bally's
  • Circus Circus
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Flamingo
  • Harrah's
  • Linq
  • Mirage
  • Paris
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Stratosphere
  • Treasure Island
  • Tropicana
  • Vdara

I've stayed at off-strip hotels in Vegas as well... most notably The Hard Rock Hotel and the Hilton, which is no longer a Hilton and has since changed its name to "Westgate."

INTERESTING ASIDE: Google Maps has secretly(?) preserved the memory of the Hilton as it used to be. When you use StreetView within the Hilton Circle, the images are as they used to be...

The Hilton Las Vegas in Google Maps StreetView!
The old Hilton sign (which was at one point the largest freestanding sign on earth... maybe still is!).
Images ©Google Maps

The Hilton Las Vegas in Google Maps StreetView!
You can still see the Hilton logo-mark in the upper left on the actual hotel there.
Images ©Google Maps

   
And yet, if you take one step out of the circle, you get an updated view of both sign and hotel...

The Westgate Las Vegas in Google Maps StreetView!
The revised sign, now Westgate. Still home of Benihana's though!
Images ©Google Maps

The Westgate Las Vegas in Google Maps StreetView!
The revised branding on the hotel itself has also been updated.
Images ©Google Maps

   
Time for cheap eats!

My last trip, I was eating daily at Nacho Daddy off Fremont. I was happy to see that there's another Nacho Daddy on The Strip around the corner from Planet Hollywood. Thus, dinner has been secured...

Nacho Daddy Dinner!

Well, I did my best to try and go with cheap eats. Unfortunately I had four Long Island ice teas, which ended up being $36 added to my $8.50 in nachos. Dooming myself to be poor, I guess.

After Jake's escape from the catio Sunday night, I'm understandably freaked out that my cats will find another way to escape my house... this time while I'm over 800 miles away and can do nothing. So I have been checking in on them at least once an hour. Jake has grown frustrated with the catio since his escape route was blocked and is sleeping inside. Jenny, on the other hand, is out there catching bugs and eating them. So... business as usual, then...

Jenny Catching Bugs on the Catio!

And that's Vegas for you. Now I should probably get some work done or something.

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Vegas Redux, Day Two

Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Dave!Since I didn't have work until 10:00 this morning, I decided to sleep in. At least that was the plan. Ultimately I decided to study my work notes and make sure I was 100% comfortable with the material. Sure it's kind of a lame use of time when in Vegas, but there's not much else for me to do. In order to save money for my vacation, I've vowed not to gamble, not to see any shows, and definitely not to eat at expensive restaurants (which is my Vegas Kryptonite).

And yet...

My colleagues wanted to eat in Paris, so there goes my vow not to eat at expensive restaurants...

Paris, Vegas

I gotta say... as somebody who has been to France-Paris many times, American-Paris is clearly the superior Paris. Not once in France-Paris did I see scantily-clad ladies walking around offering free cocktails. Not once! Also... American-Paris is air conditioned. BONUS: No people speaking weird French as you are wont to find in France-Paris and lesser parts of Canada. Except... the signage is still all in French, so most of it is just incomprehensible gibberish to me...

Le Car Rental Sign at Paris, Vegas

After lunch I was walking back to my hotel and spotted BETTY WHITE SLOTS as I was walking through the casino!

Betty White Slots at the Aria Hotel in Vegas

Holy cats! I'm guessing I'll eventually be breaking my vow not to gamble. How can I resist not giving Betty White a spin? We shall see.

I had time to kill before dinner, so I wandered over to M&M's World so I could try the new CARAMEL M&M's that have been advertised. And, oh, there's that M&M's race car I keep seeing...

M&M's World, Las Vegas

M&M's World, Las Vegas

The Caramel versions are okay. From the advertising, I had thought the caramel would be more liquid, but it's actually firm and chewy...

M&M's World, Las Vegas

Across the street in New York New York is Hershey's World. Not as much fun as the M&M's, but still kinda cool. Especially for Reese's and Twizzlers fans!

Hershey's World, Las Vegas

Hershey's World, Las Vegas

And, of course, there's Chocolate Liberty...

Hershey's World, Las Vegas

I was pleasantly surprised to see that they completed The Park adjacent to New York New York. It's pretty nice!

The Park, Las Vegas

The Park, Las Vegas

And... other than some hotel hopping for dinner, that's all she wrote on Vegas today.

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Vegas Redux, Day Three

Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Dave!Today ended up being a longer work day than expected, which means I didn't have time for the nap I  wanted  needed. Oh well. Vegas, and all that.

One of the reasons that swapping assignments from July to June worked so well is that Perry, my partner for Hard Rock Run Europe 2004, was in town! I hadn't seen him since 2009's Davedon Event, so it was nice to catch up. We met up with some Hard Rock Cafe pin collectors at Gordon Biersch which was featuring imported German Kölsche, one of my favorite beers...

Kölsche

After saying goodbye to Perry and his lovely girlfriend, I wandered on The Strip a bit until it was time to head to Old Town Vegas for a ride down the zipline at Slotzilla!

Slotzilla!!!

Yes. Yes. I just did this back in March.

But not really.

And let me tell you why.

When I finally made it to the top of Slotzilla for my zipline experience three months ago, I was told I had to take my glasses off unless I bought a strap. Which took me completely by surprise, because nobody had mentioned it to me when I bought my ticket. There I was. Handing over my credit card. While wearing glasses. And nobody said shit about getting a strap.

So I ended up flying down Fremont Street at 35 miles an hour with everything being blurry. Pretty. But blurry.

I loved it, so I swore the next time I was in Vegas I would do it again. But this time I would bring my contact lenses with me so everything would be in focus. And so I did. And it was great.

Though... it's debatable whether it was better than my first time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it wasn't. It was so much more surreal and beautiful when it was a blur!

Oh well. It's an amazing experience no matter how you see it...


Video from Emilio!!!!! on YouTube

Highly recommended if you find yourself in Las Vegas.

After my midnight flight, I headed back to my hotel on The Strip so I could get some sleep before leaving in the morning. When I left for dinner, something big appeared to be going on at T-Mobile Arena, but it was vacant by the time I got back...

Kölsche

And... that's all she wrote. See ya 'round, Vegas...

   

Vegas Redux, Finale

Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Dave!Despite not having to get up early (my flight wasn't until 11:55am), I couldn't seem to get back asleep after waking up at 4:00am.

Oh well. It gave me time to iron so I didn't have to fly home wrinkled.

In regards to my Leaving Las Vegas... I love McCarran airport. Unlike the majority of US airports, it's very efficient and has been optimized to move people in and out as quickly as possible. TSA PreCheck line backed up? THEY OPEN ANOTHER PRECHECK LANE! WHAT A CONCEPT! And... ZOFG... plenty of gate seating! For all other airports I arrive 2 hours early because even with PreCheck you never know. With McCarran I am perfectly comfortable arriving 45 minutes before flight time knowing I'll be at the gate 15 minutes later and, not uncommonly, walking into the plane ten minutes after. I wouldn't hate travel so much if this was the normal at airports.

The flight home was great.

The drive home, however, was brutal.

True to form, WSDOT can’t concentrate their efforts into QUICKLY completing a single project... they have to sprinkle resources on several projects, which means they all drag on forever. On I-90 East, they have ripped out huge chunks of the highway and just left the holes there, meaning three lanes of traffic become one on a busy Friday where half of Seattle is headed over the mountains.

Which translated into 45 minutes added to my drive time home.

I'm guessing it's going to be left that way all weekend long. And I just don't get it. Light it up, double-shift that shit, and GET. IT. DONE!

How the hell is it that I am constantly seeing videos from other countries where they will replace an entire fucking bridge in two days... or replace an entire fucking intersection overnight that fell into a sinkhole... or rebuild a fucking washed out road in ten hours... WHEN EVERY DAMN PROJECT IN WASHINGTON STATE TAKES MONTHS TO YEARS TO COMPLETE?!?

It wouldn’t be so bad if they would focus on one project and GET. IT. DONE! But they don’t. New projects keep popping up all over the place while old projects sit incomplete. You don't stop for construction ONCE on your journey... you stop FOUR TIMES. I'm guessing I-90 is probably going to be fucked up for weeks... and apparently nobody at WSDOT gives a flying fuck that it’s summer vacation season and NOW is when the roads need to be fully operational. Why would they? It would seem there are -zero- consequences to having everything torn to shit all the time.

And speaking of never-ending construction...

When I pull into my driveway, I notice that my new ultrasonic mole repeller isn't doing the job.

On the contrary, the mole seems to be taunting me by DIGGING NEW HOLES RIGHT AROUND THE ULTRASONIC STAKE!

Kölsche

Ugh. No idea what my next step will be there.

And... apparently there was a power outage while I was gone.

The horrible part about it is not that all the clocks have to be set... but that the Litter Robot DOES NOT COME BACK ON WHEN THE POWER IS RESTORED. How fucking useless! I mean, seriously. WHY? They sell a battery back-up, but I always assumed that it was so your Litter Robot would run while the power was out. I don't care about that... but I care quite a LOT that it just stays off permanently if there's a power interruption.

And so... the Litter Robot was filled. The two back-up litter boxes were also filled. So nasty. And I feel terrible. Especially for Jenny. She is pretty particular about wanting to poop in a clean box. She will hold it and hold it until she can't anymore, and is forced to use it. I can't believe that she didn't poop on the floor. I would have. And so now I have to buy a $40 battery just to make sure Litter Robot works after an outage. This is on top of the already outrageous price for the unit and the accessories I had to buy that should already have come with it.

I ordered the battery so this won't happen again... but, wow. Still feel terrible. I should have been checking the security cameras to make sure it was running.

And with that... time to catch up on all I missed. Good thing I have a weekend coming up...

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Caturday 28

Posted on Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Dave!It's good to be back home.

On Thursday morning... the day before I was to fly back... I was awakened by my security cameras telling me there's motion in the kitchen. I get all ready to yell at Jake to get out of there, but when I look at the footage, and...

...it's not Jake, it's Jenny...

Jenny Scavanging in the Kitchen

Jenny Scavanging in the Kitchen

She has been a good girl and hasn't been in the kitchen for ages, so this is puzzling. It looks like she's trying to find food maybe?

So I go back through other camera footage only to find she didn't eat dinner last night. She was out in the catio when the feeder activated. By the time she got hungry and made it to the feeders at 1am, Jake had (of course) already eaten all the food. I activated the feeders immediately so she could have an early breakfast, but I still felt awful...

Jenny Scavanging in the Kitchen

And I've been getting a stare-down from her ever since I got back.

Jenny Stare-Down

And now... a mystery to solve.

Before I leave on a trip, I always buy new toys for the cats. Probably out of guilt. For this trip I bought a ball that makes noises... except it's too loud and the cats are scared of it. I also bought a ball with a little moving pole that has a feather on top. The cats are intrigued by it, but pretty much just let it slap them around in the face...

New Cat Toy

And now that I'm home? The ball is missing.

Gone.

Kaput.

Not under the couches. Not in the catio. Not in any closet. It's vanished. No idea where they dragged it off to, and I can't find out what happened on the security cameras. I'm guessing that the cats know where the cameras are and how to avoid them.

One more thing to do...

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Bullet Sunday 512

Posted on Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Dave!Hope you're enjoying those lazy, hazy days of Summer, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Munneh! But, yes. By all means. Let’s invest our money in coal. Soon-to-be-obsolete coal that nobody is going to want when there are going to be far cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient ways to get our energy...

I mean, we could bring this technology to former coal towns and train the workers there for jobs that will actually matter. But, no. Because coal. Uh huh...

The sheer idiocy involved in killing off the American worker by our politicians is just astounding. We're not going to be competitive in the global job market, and we did it to ourselves by electing assholes who are more interested in fleecing taxpayers for the benefit of coal executives than creating jobs for ex coal miners.

   
• Kens! And so This happened: Mattel released 15 new variations of Ken Dolls... aka Mr. Barbie...

Matel Barbie Kens

And no, your eyes are not deceiving you... there are Ken dolls with a man-bun now. I can't fathom the parent that would buy their daughter (or son, for that matter) a doll with a fucking man-bun on it, but since society is hell-bound anyway, here you go. As if that weren't enough, the Kens are available in three body types: Original, Slim, and Broad. Because heaven only knows we don't want to cause body identity issues in our children. Their dolls have hipster man-buns now, and that's enough fucking trauma for childhood.

   
• MMMMMMEAT! Clearly God wants everybody to be vegetarian, and this is His solution... OH, LOVELY: THE TICK THAT GIVES PEOPLE MEAT ALLERGIES IS SPREADING. From the tick's perspective, I'm guessing that people taste like chicken.

   
• White! "Being white in this country, I should just shoot myself." — Somebody please hand her a gun. Because this racist fucking waste of space shouldn't be raising kids... let alone be allowed to join society...

No matter how many times I see bigoted shit like this, I remain amazed. Not that assholes such as her exist... but that they feel so confident in their racist bullshit to act this way in public.

   
• Hope That Helps! Ben Palmer released video from one of his shows and it is everything you'd hope it to be...

Watching him troll on Facebooks is one of the reasons I am happy that Facebook exists.

   
• HomeShit! You know, I understand that companies can't release a winner every time. There are going to be some duds, even for the most inovative of them. I get that. Honestly I do. But Apple's HomeKit is such a festering pile of shit that I cannot fathom why in the hell they don't scrap it and start over or fix their stupid crap so it will actually function reliably. Thank heavens the only thing I was stupid enough to trust to Apple's failed system is my door locks. I wanted them on a completely separate system from the rest of my home automation for security reasons and, hey, it's Apple... right? What could go wrong?

Sorry, David, I didn't hear back from your devices!

I never dreamed the answer to that question would be everything. Apple should just do everybody a favor and kill off HomeKit instead of continuing to pretend that they give a flying fuck about home automation.

   
Dis be da end, everybuddy.

   

Cats. Kids. Mondays. Life.

Posted on Monday, June 26th, 2017

Dave!My cats are a never-ending source of entertainment. They are also not of this earth and defy all my attempts to understand them. That, in itself, should keep them at a distance, but the truth is that they have become intricately woven into my life in unexpectedly deep ways. Part of that has to do with the fact that I'm single and all my best friends and family don't live here, so the cats are acting as surrogates. Part of it has to do with the fact that, for the most part, I like animals more than people.

And part of it is because they're the closest things to kids I plan on having.

Which is why all y'all's horror stories about your kids has zero effect on me.

Sure, your baby may have exploded diarrhea at a McDonalds birthday party... but last night I had to chase Jake around with a paper towel because he had a pebble of poop stuck on his sphincter. His efforts to scrape/bite/rub it off only resulted in an inflamed butt-hole, so there I was. And then this morning I had to inspect his sphincter to make sure the irritation and redness had subsided, which it had. And thank heavens for that, because otherwise we would have ended up at the vet, and nobody wants that.

And sure your baby may cry because it wants to be held... but this morning Jenny was crying as I was trying to leave for work because she wants to be petted. And, unlike holding a baby where you can do other stuff, petting Jenny demands 100% of your attention. And since she knows I will drop everything when she's meowing, she will keep doing so until I give in. The good news is that she was so desperate for attention that I was able to spend 10 minutes brushing her with The Furminator.

And sure you spend your days and nights worrying about how you're going to afford to send your baby to college one day... but I'm spending my days and nights worrying about whisker fatigue.

And for those of you who don't know what "whisker fatigue" is... allow me to introduce Dr. Catsby...

Now, most probably like you... when I first heard of "whisker fatigue," I called bullshit. Cats have been eating out of tiny bowls for hundreds of years. This is just some lame marketing ploy, right?

But then I started observing my cats.

  • There are times Jake will paw food out of the bowl onto the floor and eat it there.
  • Jenny is always hesitant to start eating. Furthermore, she won't actually stick her head in the bowl and bite the food... she licks it until she can't reach it. But when I put the food in a wide bowl or a shallow plate, she will bite it.
  • Jake will sometimes stop eating, walk around a bit, then come back and sit in front of the bowl like he wants to eat... but sits there for a while before doing so. I think it is actually hurting my attempts to get him to lose weight, as he's eating more than he normally would because he's making so many trips.
  • There are times Jenny refuses to eat at all. And by the time she's finally starving enough to force herself to eat, Jake will have eaten all her food.

I've tried plates, but the food gets pushed all over the place. I've tried shallow bowls, but the food still gets trapped in the corners. =sigh!= I guess you win, Dr. Catsby...

Dr. Catsby's Bowls for Whisker Fatigue!

Expensive little suckers.

But if they work? One less thing to worry about!

Though I do hope that Jake can keep a clean sphincter for at least a month before I'm worrying about that again. If I wanted this kind of stress I would have had kids

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The Legion of Super-Heroes

Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Dave!Ah memories.

Comixology (an online comic book distributor) has been adding older issues of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to their offerings. When I logged on last night, they happened to be displaying the first book of the series I ever read, issue no. 253 (courtesy of a Whitman Comics poly-bag-three-pack* I found in the local Safeway)...

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 253

Looking back, this was a pretty stupid cover. A bunch of costumed people come breaking through the wall of your clubhouse and you think they're there to join? Pretty sure I'd knock on the front door if I wanted to join up. But, this was par for the course back in the day. They always took the thrust of the story and found a way to repackage it in some ridiculous context to sell the book.

It was at this point... with this very issue... that I went from being a casual comic book reader to an obsessive comic book reader. I bought up every issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes I could find, and then started hunting for all the back-issues, all the way back to issue no. 197, which was when Superboy was re-titled Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. No easy feat. And it wasn't cheap either. Especially for somebody who mowed lawns to earn pocket money.

I don't know what it was about the Legion that made it so appealing to me. Perhaps because it was a super-hero book (which I already liked) with the added element of science fiction (something I also like). Superboy would time-travel to the future so he could have adventures with the team in the 30th century. An intriguing concept to be sure.

And then there were the sheer variety of super-heroes in the book. You name it, Legion probably had it at one time or another. The cast of characters is vast...

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes No. 253

From the time I started reading the book in 1980, many many changes would occur. The most notorious were the numerous ret-cons** that took place in the early 90's. Since Superboy was phased out of continuity at the time, suddenly the entire foundation of the Legion (which was inspired by Superboy) was no longer available. This left the writers scrambling for stories to keep the book's very existence relevant in the DC Comics Universe. And boy did they dream up some doozies. It was a confusing time, but the stories were still interesting, so I kept reading.

Eventually the huge mess that The Legion of Super-Heroes had become was too unmanageable even for writers with the best imaginations, so the entirety of their universe was completely rebooted in 1994.

The book was never the same.

But still I hung in there.

Ten years later in 2004, the book was completely rebooted again. It was okay, but not the Legion I wanted to read.

But still I hung in there.

Various mini-series and guest appearances would come and go after the last reboot died at issue 50. It was a depressing time for Legion fans because nothing made sense. Appearances would contradict each other and there was no overriding narrative to keep the team going.

But still I hung in there.

Then DC Comics' New 52 "reboot to end all reboots" happened and the Legion was brought back with two new books, neither of which were that great. I think they were canceled inside of two years.

But still I hung in there.

Then DC rebooted everything yet again with their "Rebirth" initiative. The Legion hasn't gotten a new book in the new continuity yet, but I'm sure it's coming. It always does.

And even though it's bound to disappoint compared to the glorious 80's that defined the series for me, I'll undoubtedly hang in there and buy the books.

It's hard not to be a fan for life when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

   
* Whitman was an imprint of Gold Key Comics. They would commission special print runs of DC Comics with their logo on the cover, bag three books together, then sell them in huge quantities all over the country in all kinds of stores... including the local Safeway grocery store where I got mine.

** The term "ret-con" means "retroactive continuity" and is when story elements established in past stories is changed, contradicted, or ignored in order to make past events have continuity with current storylines. Wikipedia has a fascinating article on the practice.

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The Art of Cloning Wednesdayly

Posted on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Dave!Today was the day I was supposed to be flying to Orlando.

But I ended up canceling back in May because my calendar was obscenely full here at home. And it turns out that I didn't know the half of it. This week has been so packed that I have been looking into cloning technology.

I need a Dave 2.2 ...

Dave 2.1 and Dave 2.2

Though... to be honest, cloning me is probably not the best idea. The world can only sustain so much evil, and this would push us over the top.

Way over the top.

   

James Whitcomb Riley

Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Dave!I am not much for nostalgia or wishing I could return to bygone days, but I do love me some history. Studying world history is a byproduct of my world religions studies, and it always surprises me just how much I don't know about what's gone on in the world.

Take, for instance, James Whitcomb Riley.

I ran across a book by the guy this morning... The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Volume VII. "Volume SEVEN?" I thought. How is it that a prolific author with seven volumes of works like this could be somebody I never heard of?

I kept digging and ultimately found out there were SIXTEEN TOTAL VOLUMES...

The Volumes of James Whitcomb Riley

I opened one up, was terribly unimpressed with what I scanned, and decided I would not need to be reading any of his works. But I did note his name on my iPhone so that I could look him up when I got home.

Which is now.

Turns out, I do know of him. I just didn't know I knew.

Ever heard of The Duck Test? — "When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."

TOTALLY THIS GUY!

Ever heard of Little Orphan Annie? It's based on a poem called Little Orphant Annie?

TOTALLY THIS GUY!

According to his Wikipedia page, James Whitcomb Riley was a literary giant back in the 1890's and remained hugely popular until his death in 1916. From Wikipedia:

Although Riley was wealthy from his books, he was able to triple his annual income by touring. He found the lure hard to resist and decided to return to the lecture circuit in 1892. He hired William C. Glass to assist Henry Eitel in managing his affairs. While Eitel handled the finances, Glass worked to organize his lecture tours. Glass worked closely with Riley's publishers to have his tours coincide with the release of new books, and ensured his tours were geographically varied enough to maintain his popularity in all regions of the nation. He was careful not to book busy schedules; Riley only performed four times a week and the tours were short, lasting only three months.

So, essentially, James Whitcomb Riley was a rock star before there were rock stars...

In 1895 Riley made his last tour, making stops in most of the major cities in the United States. Advertised as his final performances, there was incredible demand for tickets and Riley performed before his largest audiences during the tour. He and Sherley continued a show very similar to those that he and Nye had done. Riley often lamented the lack of change in the program, but found when he tried to introduce new material, or left out any of his most popular poems, the crowds would demand encores until he agreed to recite their favorites.

And what, pray-tell, qualifies as one of those favorites? Here ya go...

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The apples in the orchard, and the pathway through the rye;
The chirrup of the robin, and the whistle of the quail
As he piped across the meadows sweet as any nightingale;
When the bloom was on the clover, and the blue was in the sky,
And my happy heart brimmed over in the days gone by.

In the days gone by, when my naked feet were tripped
By the honey-suckle’s tangles where the water-lilies dipped,
And the ripples of the river lipped the moss along the brink
Where the placid-eyed and lazy-footed cattle came to drink,
And the tilting snipe stood fearless of the truant’s wayward cry
And the splashing of the swimmer, in the days gone by.

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The music of the laughing lip, the luster of the eye;
The childish faith in fairies, and Aladdin’s magic ring—
The simple, soul-reposing, glad belief in everything,—
When life was like a story, holding neither sob nor sigh,
In the golden olden glory of the days gone by.

Well, he's no Walt Whitman, but okay.

I guess if they didn't have a Nintendo back then, this was as good as it got.

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Distracted Driving Law

Posted on Friday, June 30th, 2017

Dave!My home of state of Washington has a new "Distracted Driving Law" taking effect on July 23rd. Once enacted, it is illegal to use hand-held cell phones, tablets, games or other devices while driving. Or while stopped in traffic. Or even sitting at a stop light. You have to be parked. Or a passenger.

So... if you don't have a Bluetooth interface for your car stereo or a Bluetooth earpiece? No calls for you. I'm assuming if you don't have a car-mount, no GPS maps for you either.

And, seriously, it's about time.

A lot of Washingtonians are enraged about "losing their rights" or bemoaning "the nanny state" or crying because "no politician should be able to tell me what to do"... but, come on. Look at how many accidents are happening because people are texting and driving! Since idiocy apparently needs to be legislated into doing the right thing, this is where we're at.

Yes, I will miss being able to look at texts while at a stop light... because apparently I am one of those rare people who can do that without missing the light turning green... but this is so needed. I cannot tell you how many times I've been nearly hit by somebody with their face in their phone instead of on the road. Or seen somebody driving like a moron because they're distracted by their mobile. People are dying from distracted driving, and I definitely don't want to become a statistic because somebody else was stupid.

Hopefully the idea of being fined will be enough of a deterrent to make the law effective.

Otherwise the only people obeying the law are probably the people who weren't driving while distracted in the first place.

   

O CAN-A-DAAAAAA!

Posted on Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Dave!Well, hey there... it's Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation!

Many congratulations to our lovely neighbor to the north...


DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey celebrate Canada Hockey Gold

And thank you for not taking a cue from your confused neighbors to the south and building a wall to keep us out. I don't know what I'd do without an occasional bag of TimBits.

   

Bullet Sunday 513

Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Dave!It's the Sunday before the Monday before the 4th! And there's even more to celebrate, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Wonderful! Over the decades we've had DC Comic Book heroes make their way to the movies with persistent regularity. Batman and Superman have had numerous incarnations in dozens of films... including the recent piles of shit that Zack Snyder has unleashed upon the world with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But what about the other hero in the DC holy trinity? What about Wonder Woman? Where's her movie? She's always been shoved aside, presumably because DC questioned whether anybody would go see her in a feature film. Heck, even Green Lantern finally got a movie back in 2011, and he's not nearly as recognizable as Wonder Woman. Everybody knows who she is.

And then, at long last, our patience was rewarded when Wonder Woman hit the big screen.

And has been completely killing it.

This week Wonder Woman trounced both Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to become the top-earning film in DC Comics history at the domestic box office...

Box Office Mojo DC Universe Films Ranking!
Stats taken from Box Office Mojo

Internationally, the film has considerable ground to cover before it eclipses Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, but the point has been made.

It's Marvel all over again, proving that good movies with second-string characters that are faithful to the source material will be more critically (and quite possibly financially) successful than crappy movies with top-tier characters that shit all over the source material. There is a reason that these characters endure. To ignore what got them there is to ignore what people want to see.

   
• Flash! And, speaking of shitting all over the source material in a Zack Snyder DC Comics movie... everything that's wrong with the new costume that The Flash is sporting in the upcoming Justice League film is on full display when you look at what LEGO had to do to translate it into a minifig...

LEGO Flash Minifigs!

I can't even tell what the hell is going on there. The Flash is the "fastest man alive." As such, his costume has always been painfully sleek and minimal in appearance. But not now. Now they've wrapped him is laughably idiotic armor plating that makes him look anything but sleek. He's the exact opposite of sleek...

Zack Snyder Flash Movie Abortion!

I mean, COME ON! He looks like a clunky robot with an inexplicably massive codpiece! Even more clunky and robotic than Cyborg, WHO IS LITERALLY A HALF-ROBOT CHARACTER. Grotesque and more than a little embarrassing for DC, who has had such excellent translations of The Flash in previous endeavors. Particularly in their animation department...

Animated Flash Costume!

And even their television show...

Television Flash Costume!

To "think outside the box" is not a bad thing... sometimes it's critical to making the leap from comics to screen work. But what we have here is a fundamental lack of knowledge about what makes The Flash be "The Flash." Which means the Justice League movie is undoubtedly going to suck ass. What a shame.

   
• Balls! This past week was the 30th anniversary of Spaceballs, one of my favorite comedies...

Spaceballs Movie Poster
Photo from Getty Images

Over the years there have been numerous rumors of a sequel (including this past Spring), but the only thing we've gotten is thirteen episodes of an animated series. My hope is that one of these days it will actually happen.

   
• Vaccinate! The amount of misinformation out in the world is horrifying. Everybody has an agenda, and you can never be sure what's behind the information you're getting. But the fact that diseases we once eradicated have come back... and come back huge... should give pause when it comes to condemning vaccinations...

Scary. Too scary.

   
• Hjalmarsson! Though I've found it harder and harder to keep up with hockey, I nevertheless obsessed over my beloved Blackhawks as they battled their way to the playoffs last season. That Nashville took them out immediately did not dampen my enthusiasm for the team. What did dampen my enthusiasm was finding out that one of my favorites players, Niklas Hjalmarsson, had been traded...

Niklas Hjalmarsson via Getty Images
Photo from Getty Images

The guy was a big part of what got them to three Stanley Cup wins, so I'm understandably gutted. He would throw himself in front of the puck under circumstances no sane player would, which only made me love him more. He gave everything he had to the team, and this is a serious blow to Blackhawks hockey. Yes, I know that it relieves some salary cap problems, but I can't wrap my head around a team without Hjalmarsson there. Thank you, sir, you will most definitely be missed.

   
• Freedom! When you use freedom of speech to speak out on the issues that are important to you but criticize others for doing the exact same thing, you're no patriot. You're a douchebag. And speaking of... I don't always agree with Chelsea Handler, but thought this was an important message to share...

Of course, "freedom of speech" doesn't mean "freedom from consequences of free speech," which is an increasingly popular misunderstanding to have... but let's save that for another holiday.

   
And... I gotta be to work tomorrow, so no more bullets for you!

   

Fourth Place

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Dave!

Bad Monkey Got Nuthin'

   

   

   

Fourth Day

Posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Dave!Happy Independence Day, America!


DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey waving US flags.

   

   

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Queen of Dragons

Posted on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Dave!I have a headache.

Which is actually a good thing, because it gives me an excuse to blow off work and re-watch Game of Thrones Season 6 in anticipation of Season 7 arriving in a couple weeks.

I love this show. Love it.

Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons
Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons... after seriously fucking up somebody's day.

   
As I watch Season 6 and it just makes me want to start all over again from Season 1. Again. Because I've already done this at least twice. The show is that good. Some episodes... specifically Season 6, Episode 9, are better than most movies that get released.

And so... I'm going to spend the rest of the evening wishing I could go into a medically-induced coma until July 16th.

   

Anissa Means-Bacon-Mayhew

Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Dave!I found out that my long-time blogging friend Anissa died this morning.

Words completely escape me. There's nothing I can say that could encapsulate just how painful this is. And yet... I'm going to give it a try, because powering through life in the face of tragedy is what she was all about.

Anissa is joy to all those who knew her. No matter what she was going through... no matter what hardship she was facing... no matter how much she was struggling... you would never know it because her grace, humor, wit, and spirit always made you feel as though she hadn't a care in the world. Life, such as it is, was her bitch.

The irony of my last interaction with her on Facebook is not lost on me...

Anissa Loves Tacos

Tacos.

And here's where we go back to the start.

Though I had known her online for years prior, the first time I met Anissa in person was at Davelanta 3 in 2009...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3
Kevin, Beth, Diana, Kim, Val, Mr. & Mrs. Muskrat, Heather, and Anissa... not pictured is Julie, who ditched our sorry asses so she could go to a much better party with a group of much classier people!

   
I fell in love with her that night.

Which is not at all unusual, because everybody who met Anissa fell in love with her. She's STD-level infectious like that.

I sat next to her at dinner and remember it like it was yesterday. We were at The Cheesecake Factory, and a lot of our discussion revolved around their Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls. We had much to discuss on the topic. Mostly because she was nibbling on my balls the whole time.

And then...

Not long after that infamous first meeting, Anissa had a stroke and her whole world changed.

Not that you would know it because, despite being confined to a wheelchair, Anissa herself did not change. She was still the same brilliant, beautiful, snarky, and entirely inappropriate person she had always been. Just slowed down a bit.

We finally met up again at another blogger meet in 2011...

Atlanta Blogger Meet
Mr. Muskrat, Tyler, Heather, Adam, Anissa, Anissa's Friend(?), Beth, Kevin, and Mrs. Muskrat!

   
Seeing how Anissa was struggling was not easy.

Seeing how she was overcoming adversity was truly inspiring.

And she continued to inspire everybody she encountered for almost 6 years to the day I last saw her.

My heart is broken. What's left of it goes out to her husband and three children, all of whom were Anissa's everything. That she had a heart big enough to share with the rest of the world too is everything you need to know about her.

Well, that... and the fact that she really couldn't keep her hands off my balls that night. Not that I can blame her... they were delicious. If there were a Cheesecake Factory anywhere near me, that's where I'd be. With a Long Island ice tea and big ol' plate of deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls in her honor.

Rest in peace, my dear friend. You were loved so much by so many, and your having to leave us hasn't changed that.

   

I Got a Heatwave Burning in My Heart

Posted on Friday, July 7th, 2017

Dave!Temperatures finally breached 100° this week, so the air conditioner had to be turned on. Darnit. Odds are it's going to stay on because the forecast is up there for the next ten days. Probably longer.

So much for tiny electricity bills.

Even though I set the temperature between 74° and 76° and use ceiling fans, it's a goodly chunk of money to keep everything in the house from melting.

Including the cats.

And then...

Back in 2015 when Apple released the latest and greatest 4th generation Apple TV, I purchased one to replace my aging 2nd generation unit (which I moved to the guest room). Despite the remote being shit, I was happy with the upgrade. At first. Eventually I found out that the unit had horrible problems streaming video from Apple. Other sources... Netflix, HBO, Showtime, YouTube, Hulu, you-name-it, were all working fine on Apple TV, it was just my iTunes Store purchases that were stuttering and crapping out... or not loading at all.

So when I ended up winning a second Apple TV from an incentive give-away, I just tossed it in the closet. My bedroom TV has Netflix built-in, so I figured I'd just wait until somebody came up with a hack to turn the Apple TV into a web server or something. Since it had problems streaming my rather large collection of Apple media, it just wasn't worth messing with.

Until Game of Thrones Season 7 was announced to be arriving.

My bedroom TV doesn't have an HBO app, so I decided to dig out the extra Apple TV so I can watch Thrones in bed as God intended.

But first I had to find the thing, because I had no idea what happened to it during the move. I've been searching off and on for weeks to no avail. And then this morning I finally found it.

By accident.

My cats have been acting crazy, so I decided to start putting my iPhone charging cable in the tiny empty cupboard above my range hood and microwave where they couldn't get to it... and... voilà...

Tiny Cupboard Treasures!

My "empty" cupboard contained an old phone book, a Hershey chocolate candle, and... my missing Apple TV. In all honesty, I do not remember putting it in there. I don't remember putting any of it there. I can't even think of why I'd have done it.

Probably so I wouldn't lose it?

Jenny helped me set it up...

Tiny Cupboard Treasures!

And... ready for new Game of Thrones on the 16th!

   

Caturday 29

Posted on Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Dave!When I went to bed on Thursday night, everything with my cats was fine.

Something happened that night and everything changed. It's as if they suddenly realized that there are no consequences for their actions... no punishment for their bad behavior.

Yesterday morning began with my waking up to Jake pulling my movie posters off the wall...

Jake Poster Killer

Jake Poster Killer

Iron Man is now crooked. I just left him that way since Jake will just try to pull him down again...

Jake Poster Killer

At least Jenny was being a good kitty, right? No. She was climbing around the kitchen where she knows she's not supposed to be...

Bad Jenny in the Kitchen!

After serving the kitties breakfast, I went back upstairs to get ready for work and slog through my email. It was then I heard cupboard doors banging...

...IT WAS JAKE WAS STEALING KITTY SNACKS OUT OF THE CAT FOOD CUBBY! And he had just had breakfast!

Jake the Thief!

Then he and Jenny chewed it open to get at the yummies inside...

Jake and Jenny Thieves!

Jake and Jenny Thieves!

Clearly my cats have turned a corner and are completely out of control.

Thinking I need to start in on some tough love, I took the advice of Facebook friends and pulled out the squirt bottle. Much to my shock, Jenny was first to get sprayed. She didn't really react. It was like she didn't understand what was happening. Once she figured out she was getting wet, she walked over to the scratcher lounger and started pouting...

Jenny Pouting on the Lounger!

Then I felt bad.

Today things were better... though Jake did decide to pull my clean clothes down to the floor. Again.

Tomorrow's a full moon, I'm hoping the cat madness will end once it's gone.

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Bullet Sunday 514

Posted on Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Dave!The heat may be blasting like a furnace outside, but there's hope for all humanity because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Moana Three Dee! I used an Amazon gift card I got back on my birthday to buy the Moana Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-Ray set. The animation is so gorgeous that I was interested to see how it looked when rendered out in 3-D...

Moana 3D Blu-Ray Set

Turns out that it's pretty great. For the most part. The 3-D kind of falls apart when the action gets really fast, but is otherwise an amazing visual treat. The astounding quality of computer animation now-a-days is just mind-blowing. Marry that to some of the best songs to ever come out of a Disney film and you've got magic. My favorite Disney song ever would be Jermaine Clement playing a giant crab...

And who knew that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had it in him?

Forget Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's best work is with Opetaia Foa'i in Moana...

I prefer the 2-D version to 3-D, but the movie is so amazing that there really isn't any wrong way to watch it. If you haven't seen Moana, you need to get on that.

   
• Artifacts! I fucking hate Hobby Lobby. Which is to say I wasn't the least bit shocked when it was revealed that they had been caught with illegal ancient artifacts from Iraq. Undoubtedly purchased from terrorist organizations like ISIS, who are well-known to fund their terrorism by doing exactly this kind of thing. But yeah, tell me again how "Plan B" is morally reprehensible to you. Because a cluster of cells in the womb is more vital than fully-formed humans trying to survive relentless terrorist attacks? OH... THAT'S RIGHT... THE FULLY-FORMED HUMANS ARE BROWN PEOPLE HALF-A-WORLD-AWAY WHO PROBABLY HAVE ICKY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Hobby Lobby and their morally superior bullshit is utter garbage.

   
• Fight or Flight! More United Airlines fuckery. It doesn't matter that they "scanned the second ticket wrong"... the standby passenger is the one who should have left once the mistake had been discovered. And United's shitty solution is absurd. A voucher? That's what they offered me after I got screwed over, and I told them to shove it up their ass because I was never flying their shithole of an airline again. I don't understand why anybody does.

   
• Jupiter! Nine months waiting for Jupiter's Legacy Volume 2, Issue 5. Nine months. And it was about the most anti-climactic comic book ending they could have possibly given us...

Jupiter's Legacy Vol. 2 No. 5

Absolutely no surprises. After all the imagination that went into the nine issues prior, we get a straight-forward story that could have been created by absolutely anybody. And we had to wait NINE MONTHS for it? Nothing even remotely special. I don't know why I get my hopes up for shit anymore.

   
• Comma! One of my favorite West Wing episodes is titled after a Mark Twain quote: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Except... Aaron Sorkin abandoned the Oxford comma and butchered it to be Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, which changes the meaning (hey, Lies and Statistics could be the name of a book like Dungeons and Dragons or something). It drives me insane. As does most sentences where an Oxford comma would be helpful to clarify intent but instead goes unused. Every time I spot a missing Oxford comma, I can't help but assume that the writer doesn't know how the English language works. And yet... there is still debate over this crap like there should actually be a question over whether Oxford commas should be used. IT TOTALLY SHOULD! There is no penalty for using one when it's really not necessary. There can be huge penalties for not using one when you should have. Case in point? Click through to this hot mess.

   
• Holy Shit! I have become numb to the daily dose of horror and idiocy that comes from having President Trump in office, but his latest round of tweets has me convinced that the man running the country is one of the stupidest people on earth...

Putin Trump Fuckery

Can you imagine... can you even fathom in your wildest imagination... what the reaction would have been by Republicans if President Obama had said this? They would have completely lost their minds. Apparently it finally dawned on Clownface VonFuckstick how insane this is, because he later tweeted that he believes it "can't happen," over something he says never happened in the first place? Or did happen? Or didn't? Depending on the day. Or whatever. Ivanka is catching serious heat for being an unelected, unqualified seat-filler at the G-20 conference, but at least she can form a coherent sentence. Why not put her in charge? Because nothing could be worse than what we have now.

   
And that aughta do it! See you next Sunday!

   

Catspreading

Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2017

Dave!I always feel sorry for animals having to endure the summer heat while wearing a fur coat. It can't be comfortable. Though my cats still like laying out in the catio when the heat is on, so maybe it's not as big a deal as I'm thinking it is.

Jake has his own way with dealing with the heat... catspreading.

I notice when it's hot out in the catio, he'll usually lay on the cool, shaded concrete... then spread out for maximum heat dispersion...

Jake Catspreading
Yes, I desperately need to wash my windows!

Indoors is another story.

The cat tree sits right under the HVAC vent. When the air conditioning turns on, he'll immediately spread out for some cooling relief...

Jake Catspreading

And then when it turns back off, he'll go back to a normal position...

Jake Catspreading

Perfectly logical. Yet still odd.

But whatever floats your boat, little buddy!

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Outage. Again.

Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Dave!The plan was simple.

Work until around 1:00am, then hash out a blistering post in support of Net Neutrality Day, then get some much-needed sleep...

Except my internet went down as I was in the middle of work. Everything went to shit. And now I'm not only unable to finish my work, I also can't do much blogging.

So... pretty much a metaphor for the internet without net neutrality, ironically enough.

I am so tired of this bullshit. And yet here we go again...

   

Pig-Fucking Assholes and Net Neutrality

Posted on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Dave!Today is Net Neutrality Day. Which you'd think would be redundant since we have it, but apparently that may not be for long.

Pig fucker assholes like Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai are once gain trying kill net neutrality so that big business can control the internet. Never mind that they have to tell lie after lie after lie to sell it to the American people... the money involved is massive, the people involved are all-powerful, and telling lies is not something they really give a fuck about.

I have written about how crucial net neutrality is to a free and open internet many, many times (like here, for example).

And I'm just one voice of many, because the American people have backed net neutrality many, many times.

But it never seems to matter, because the people trying to kill it have an endless supply of money to throw at the pig-fucking assholes who keep assaulting it.

It's at times like this that I sincerely feel we should burn this fucking shithole of a corrupt piece of shit country to the ground and fucking start over. What The United States of America is supposed to be all about is lost when its citizens no longer have a say. People with money are ultimately the only ones allowed to have a voice now. Because they are the only ones with the means of buying off the politicians who make the decisions for all of us...

If Pai and his bought-and-paid-for pig-fucking asshole confederates actually manage to kill net neutrality, I might as well take down Blogography. Because it's only a matter of time before Very Important People decide they don't like me calling them pig-fucking assholes and shut it down for me.

The pig-fucking assholes.

Visit the FCC and tell them that you support Net Neutrality.

UPDATE: And... Mr. Trae Crowder, everybody...

Holy shit what a cluster-fuck.

   

National French Fry Day

Posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Dave!Pizza is probably my favorite food.

But not always.

Sometimes... sometimes... it's fried potatoes. When they're served with Dutch mayonnaise. They don't even have to be really great fries (like the amazing kind you get in the Netherlands or the kind I fry myself). So long as they have Dutch mayo, I'm good. So to celebrate National French Fry Day, I grabbed my Dutch mayo and went to the local drive-in for a big bag of lunch...

My French Fries

Delicious!

Tied with Chocolate Pudding Day (June 26th) as one of my favorite holidays!

Hope you got fried today!

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National Mac & Cheese Day

Posted on Friday, July 14th, 2017

Dave!I don't know who the mad genius was who put National French Fry Day and National Mac & Cheese Day next to each other... but kudos to that. Meal planning has been dead-simple these two days. And delicious.

Dinner was courtesy of "The World's Best Mac & Cheese" by Beecher's...

Beecher's Mac & Cheese

I don't know that it's "The World's Best"... but, if it's not, it's darn close.

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Caturday 30

Posted on Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Dave!I'd have thought that my cats would have settled into their personalities after a year-and-a-half... that no new big surprises would be on the horizon.

It certainly seemed that way. Until this past week, when big surprises did indeed show up.

When I first got Jake and Jenny, they were terribly frightened and shy...

Jake and Jenny Day One

It took a week before I could lure them out from under the couch to play. It took four weeks before Jake would let me touch him... five weeks before Jenny would allow petting. Weeks after that, the cats were fairly sociable and would climb on me if I lured them with a cat charmer. Months after that, Jake would be all over me... Jenny not so much. Eventually she came around, but there were always conditions. If she was laying near me, I couldn't touch her or she'd get scared and run away. Any time I'd be petting her, she'd nervously pace all around me, never laying down or getting comfortable. She'd hop on the bed and watch TV with me for hours... but at a comfortable distance. Every once in a blue moon she'd sit or lay for a few minutes while I'd scratch her ears, but anything more than that just wasn't going to happen.

Until this past week, when all of a sudden she's hanging out with me every morning like this...

Jenny is a Cuddle Bug

Jenny is a Cuddle Bug

Jenny is a Cuddle Bug

Jenny is a Cuddle Bug

Honestly never thought this would happen.

And then there's Jake.

He'll happily hop next to me on the couch or sit in my lap for an hour at a time. He's been doing this for a long while now. But yesterday it got weird.

I came home early from work around 1:30pm. The minute I walked through the door, Jake was all over me, following my every step... rubbing up against me any time I stopped moving. Then I sat down and he was immediately on me to take a nap...

Jake Hangs on Me

He then stayed on me... for the next ten hours... while I worked, watched TV, and ate dinner. The only time he'd leave is to eat or go to the bathroom. If I got up for any reason, he'd start crying and cling to me. I was starting to wonder if he was sick...

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Jake Hangs on Me

Around 10:30 I went up to bed. He was right there with me until I fell asleep. When I woke around 3am, he was gone. And this morning things seem to be back to normal.

Well, as normal as things can be when you have cats.

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Bullet Sunday 515

Posted on Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Dave!The Mother of Dragons has come home to roost at long last, but the bigger news is that an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Square? Amazon is thrilling their customers with new #BoxFacts on their packaging now. Except they aren't really "facts" when they're wrong...

It's Hip to be Square on a RECTANGULAR BOX!

NOT A SQUARE!! Somebody at Amazon should have remembered the Square Song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, because a square has ALL FOUR SIDES THE SAME SIZE!

Amazing how that song has stuck in my head all these years. Handy too... for exactly these kind of occasions.

   
• WHO?!? And it's been announced that the next Doctor Who will be Jodie Whittaker...

Who happens to be a woman.

As you can probably imagine... the internet is losing its collective shit. Some of it in a good way... I mean, come on... this has been a long time coming. But a goodly chunk of it in a bad way, refusing to accept a woman as Doctor Who. Because women can't be doctors? Fuck that. Best of luck, Jodie Whittaker, I'm looking forward to seeing you in the role!

   
• Dental! This is the questionnaire that I was given to fill out at the dentist office this past week...

Check what you have... GENITAL HERPES?!?

I had to go up and confirm with the receptionist that I was there for a teeth cleaning, right? And, if that's the case, exactly what position would that be happening from? I mean, yeah, I get it... your dentist probably needs to know some medical facts so they can best treat you... but genital herpes?!?

   
• TransVisible! As somebody who had a trans friend get the crap beaten out of her this past March for no reason other than being who she is... a friend who has done nothing but be an exemplary tax-paying citizen who dedicates more time towards helping others than most people would ever dream of... I have to say what a load of horse shit it is that anybody should have to be forced to stand up and defend their child's right to be who they are. Thank God that men like this exist who do exactly that. ..

All the misinformation and outright lies being propagated by bigots about trans persons... WHO WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN PEACE... speak volumes as to the ass-backwards society of ignorance we've created. TRANS PEOPLE EXIST NOW AND HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME! GET OVER IT!

   
• Impossible! I am a huge, huge, massively huge fan of the original Mission: Impossible television series. A big part of that was the cast, which was always firing on all cylinders. My favorite was Barbara Bain as Cinnamon Carter... but her real-life husband, Martin Landau (who played Rollin Hand), was also great. They both went on to be equally great in the bizarre SPACE: 1999.

I was sad to learn that Martin Landau had passed this past week...

I used to watch both shows obsessively, and always held out hope that Landau would one day make a guest appearance on the Tom Cruise infused Mission: Impossible movies. Rest in peace, sir.

   
• FRESH! And lastly, just because I can, I present the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley. Gardening...

Elizabeth Hurley Gardening Hose

SHE'S FIFTY-TWO YEARS OLD! Obviously she's made some kind of deal with the Devil to stay looking that incredible.

   
Annnd... that's enough bullshit for one Sunday. Maybe two Sundays.

   

Emoji Movies

Posted on Monday, July 17th, 2017

Dave!I love good marketing.

The problem is that so few companies manage it.

Apple happens to be a company that excels at good marketing. Like when they converted the banners in the iTunes Store to LEGO in celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released.

And now... the banners across the top of the "Movies" section of the iTunes Store were all movie titles constructed out of emojis! (in celebration of The Emoji Movie perhaps?) I copied all of them because I just couldn't stand the idea of such brilliance being lost. How many can you guess?

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Even the "featured titles" were spelled out in emoji...

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

So great.

   

Implausible Deniability

Posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Dave!I don't think that my cats have fully grapsed the idea that there are security cameras everywhere throughout my house and I can see most everything they do.

So when I come downstairs, walk into the kitchen, and see that the cupboard with all the cat food, cat treats, and cat toys has been ransacked, their attempt to profess their innocence by pretending to be shocked and saddened that such a tragedy has occurred doesn't do them any favors.

Nor does blaming "ghosts," which seems to be their go-to explanation.

Today I attempted to show Jake some camera footage which clearly shows he is guilty of breaking into the cat cupboard. Again. He remained steadfast in his innocence.

I'd say he's got a huge pair of balls on him, but he doesn't have any balls at all.

Even so, I'm too proud of him to be angry about it.

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The Golden Circle

Posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Dave!Of all the movies coming out this year, the one I am most looking forward to is Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which is a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service. The first film was fantastic because it was one of those rare movies that comes along and feels entirely fresh while being wholly familiar at the same time. Yes, there's a lot of James Bond in there, but it doesn't tread the same waters at all. In many ways, Kingsman out-Bonded Bond by rebooting the British spy thriller to new heights.

I mean, just look at it...

As for the rest of the movies I'm dying to see in 2017? Here are my top ten so far...

  1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  2. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  3. Blade Runner 2049
  4. Thor: Ragnarok
  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  6. The Dark Tower
  7. Atomic Blonde
  8. Dunkirk
  9. Coco
  10. The Disaster Artist

I grant you that The Disaster Artist is an odd choice. But the first trailer debuted, and watching Dave Franco channel Tommy Wiseau is absolute cinematic magic...

Compare to the original...

A movie about the making of one of the worst movies of all time that actually looks good? Sign me up.

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Disney Bonanza!

Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Dave!I generally fast-forward through commercials because most of them are total shit and not worth watching. This is easy to do because I watch almost all television from my DVR. The only time I let commercials play is when I'm watching TV live... or if I'm working (or otherwise distracted) and can't be bothered.

Like tonight.

There I was, working away with the television playing in the background when...

... a sound plays.

A familiar sound.

The sound of the announcement tone for Disney's Star Tours!

What the heck?

Turns out it's a commercial advertising the Main Street Electrical Parade, where a Disney cast member is walking through a giant warehouse filled with relics of Disneyland past...

I must have freeze-framed a dozen times on my DVR trying to figure out what everything I was seeing could be. Reviewing it all was a nostalgia-laden walk down memory lane.

The commercial has been around for months, but this was my first time seeing it.

When I was Googling to see if Disney had posted it to YouTube, I found that there were a couple of videos calling out all the "Easter Eggs." Like these...

   

Now THIS is a cool commercial that is actually worth your time to watch!

Assuming you're as big a Disney geek as I am, that is.

   

Mindlessly Overwhelming

Posted on Friday, July 21st, 2017

Dave!What I need...

What I really, really need...

Is an off-switch.

My brain is so overwhelmed with stuff... a lot of it being inconsequential, mindless stuff... that I can't focus. Especially at night when I need to be sleeping.

Oh well. In six hours I have to head over the mountains in a 2-1/2 hour drive. Maybe that will sort things out with my brain.

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Caturday 31

Posted on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Dave!It's strange how much I worry about my cats when I'm not at home. Not over things like them tearing up the house or making a mess or anything like that... but worry over them being lonely or bored.

Right now I am checking in on them with the security cameras and they are exactly where I saw them when I left yesterday. Jake is on top of the kitty tree and Jenny is laying on the stereo receiver (I think she likes how it gets a little warm... even on the hottest days). She naps there most of the time now...

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

Seriously, she does.

I've been documenting it with my iPhone...

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

Awwwww... this one is my favorite...

Jenny on the Stereo Receiver

She's making a pillow out of my Star Wars Blu-Ray collections!

As for Jake? He's busy being Jake. When he's not eating, pooping, or napping... he's destroying my expensive books by chewing on them... sometimes as I am reading them...

Jake Eats a Book

LOOK OUT SPIDER-MAN!!!

And... going to try and be inspired by my cats and get some sleep now.

Which would probably be easier if I were home with them.

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Bullet Sunday 516

Posted on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Dave!Never fear, super-fans, because a Very Special Comic-Con Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• THOR: RAGNAROK! I liked the first two Thor movies quite a lot. Especially the first one, which did a masterful job of introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was grandiose and epic in a way you need a movie with gods to be, and set the tone for Thor in everything that would come after (including a couple Avengers movies). And now, the third Thor film is ready to be unleashed this November:

Super sweet! Kind of an 80's vibe, even in the amazing poster...

Thor Ragnarok Poster

Marvel amazes me. Every movie they release is an escalation of what's come before. Sometimes it doesn't work 100% (I'm looking at you, Age of Ultron) but most of the time it seriously does. And Thor: Ragnarok looks to be knocking it out of the park. Can't. Wait.

   
• THE DEFENDERS! But before we get treated to new Thor, first we get to see the culmination of all four Netflix series... Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron First... with The Defenders. This seems like a great idea, and a logical culmination of all that's come before...

Time (and August 18th) will tell whether or not it's clever enough to be worthy, but getting Sigourney Weaver as your villain was a great start. Cool. All this and The Punisher coming by years' end too.

   
• THE INHUMANS! Also dropping prior to new Thor? The Inhumans. Originally they were getting their own movie but, after the franchise was turned to shit in ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I guess they felt a movie was aiming too high. Instead we get a compromise. The first episode is being released to IMAX theaters in September, then the show continues on ABC...

Eh. Probably good that they didn't attempt this in a feature film, because Medusa's magical hair was never going to look fantastic. Regardless, nothing I'm seeing here has me too excited. ABC had an amazing opportunity to do something truly different by taking The Inhumans into extreme weirdness, but it looks like Just Another Super-Hero Show on the Small Screen. Not surprising... I can't stand Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it doesn't look like ABC is attempting to break any new ground here like they did with the amazing Agent Carter series. Pity.

   
• BLACK PANTHER! And here is where I start to lose my shit. I'm a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Black Panther. I was thrilled to see him finally join the MCU with Captain America: Civil War, and am positively giddy at the prospect of seeing him get a film all to himself. The technically advanced world of Wakanda is going to make for a heck of a movie, assuming they get the story right. And, from the looks the first trailer, they are definitely trying...

And that poster...

Black Panther Poster

Since this is Marvel, I'm assuming they've nailed it. Not knowing is kinda killing me. Having to wait until February 16th to find out is really killing me.

   
• AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR And then there's the culmination of every Marvel Studios movie ever released coming to a theater near you on May 4th. The footage at Comic-Con has not been released yet (if ever), but they did give us a gatefold poster to drool over...

Avengers Infinity War Poster

Which conveniently breaks down into three panels for closer inspection of all the awesomeness there is to unpack...

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

Avengers Infinity War Poster Panel

First of all... BLACK WIDOW IS A BLONDE THIS TIME AROUND? Wonder what in the hell that's all about. Second of all... why is Hawkeye getting the short end of the stick again? He's barely in the poster at all, and doesn't even get an action pose with his bow and arrow! Granted, he could arguably be seen as the weak link in The Avengers, but his fantastic ongoing comic book series show that this is not the fault of the character. It's what the writers do with him that makes him a weak link. Holy crap I wish they'd give him a Netflix series where he can finally shine. Next up... Spider-Man in a black suit is interesting. I don't hate it but, after so many movies where they weren't faithful to the comic book, I felt they finally nailed it with Civil War and Homecoming... so, why? And then... so very, very happy that they are apparently pushing the Scarlet Witch & Vision romance forward. That's an element 100% from the comic books, and I think it totally works. Then penultimately... holy crap did they do a frickin' amazing job capturing Thanos! Bad. Ass. And lastly... Cap with a beard! My expectations for Avengers: Infinity War are on overdrive. I'm expecting they'll be exceeded.

   
• JUSTICE LEAGUE! Blargh. DC Comics and Zack Snyder's idea of what makes a good super-hero movie is so nausea-inducing that I'll tackle that one tomorrow. I'm having too much fun loving on all of Marvel's awesomeness tonight.

   
And that's it for Comic-Con 2017. Until next year, True Believers...

   

Justissssss Leeeeaguuuuue

Posted on Monday, July 24th, 2017

Dave! I am so far beyond giving a shit about Zack Snyder's shitty DC Comics super-hero movies that I honestly don't know if I'll even bother seeing Justice League in theaters.

I mean, just look at this bullshit trailer...


Some observations...

  • Dark. Dark. Dark. Dark. And more dark. Jesus, what an awful-looking downer of a movie. The occasional attempts at humor are completely wasted when the atmosphere is nothing but bleak, dire, and depressing.
  • Cyborg and The Flash look like total and complete shit. Whomever designed their fucking horrifically bad costumes should just give it up. Aquaman is equally incomprehensible, but at least he doesn't look defective.
  • In an obvious attempt at playing off the tremendous success of Wonder Woman, they lead off with her... but she's fighting a small group of regular human bad guys? Pathetic. FUCKING PATHETIC!!! We've seen this stupid shit over and over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!! IT'S NOT FUN! IT'S NOT INTERESTING! IT'S JUST BORING AND SAD. WHAT THE FUCK?!???
  • And OH MY GAWD... ENOUGH WITH THE SECRET IDENTITY CRAP! I am so very, very thankful that Marvel gave up on this silly bullshit. They use it when it makes sense (ala Spider-Man, who is ultimately just a kid with a regular life to hang onto) but everywhere that it is just a tired distraction, they've not bothered to bore us with it. But DC? No. We've still got Bruce Wayne crap to bore us. Still got Clark Kent crap to REALLY bore us. And now they've decided to saddle Wonder Woman with Diana Prince working as a fucking museum cleaning lady? WHO GIVES A FUCKING SHIT?!? Seriously... does Zack Snyder EVER take a minute to look at what makes modern super-hero movies work? EVER?!??? Secret identities were a great way to fill time without a need for expensive special effect shots in the 1980's... but we're waaayyyy past that now. We get it. DC heroes have secret identities... but you don't have to fill precious screen time with it anymore. GET OVER IT ALREADY!
  • Nice to see the Amazons again... but the introduction of the movie's big bad (Steppenwolf?) is almost cringe-worthy. Are DC's costume designers forced at gunpoint to put unnecessary and distracting textures EVERYWHERE? It looks fucking ridiculous. Jack Kirby's creations deserve so much better than this.
  • At least they make Aquaman's underwater action look good. Maybe there's hope for the upcoming Aquaman movie, and it will be another Wonder Woman rather than a shitty Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman. If, for no other reason, than we're getting James Wan in the director's chair. Hopefully he'll add some fucking FUN to the film instead of fifty layers of depressing. Again.
  • Oh joy. I was worried we would get all the way through the trailer without seeing a Wonder Woman ass shot. But, nope... even after helping to win World War I, she's still just another piece of ass to DC's movie division!
  • After getting a frickin' amazing "speed effect" with Quicksilver in the X-Men films... and a more subtle, but equally good speed effect for Quicksilver in Age of Ultron, just look at the awful thing they came up with for The Flash. Running in slow motion to simulate super-speed? Groundbreaking. Or it would be if The Six Million Dollar Man hadn't pioneered it in the 1970's. Even when they do move him at actual super-speed, the overabundance of lightning is just silly. Does he kill people with all that stupid electricity when he runs by them? I mean, it's fine when used with subtlety, but this? Zack Snyder is obviously compensating for something here. Probably a shitty story.
  • And... again with the disaster porn. It's as if Zack Snyder doesn't know how to make a movie without the entire world exploding. Which begs the question... how the fuck are there any people left alive on earth when absolutely everything is getting destroyed all the time? This is fucking absurd, and I don't understand how the entire plot of DC's latest film slate can be summed up as "explosions." Doesn't anybody at DC care?

It's said that Joss Whedon is doing extensive reshoots for Justice League after Zack Snyder had to remove himself from the film to deal with a family emergency. I don't think punching up the dialogue (Whedon's specialty) is going to help. It's just pouring more money down a hole. What's really sad here... almost to the point of tragedy... is how much better the DC television division is at making good super-hero live action. They should have turned the Justice League movie over to them and built on the terrific, faithful, and far-superior versions of The Flash and Superman they already have on TV.

But instead we got this crapfest.

Maybe one day we'll finally get a DC Cinematic Universe that doesn't suck copious amounts of ass... but, sadly, that day is not today.

Or even tomorrow, apparently.

   

Robovac 11 vs. Cats: FIGHT!

Posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Dave!When I returned from Las Vegas earlier this month, my home was a disaster, even though I did a quick cleaning before I left. Between the cats shedding like crazy and their tracking in dirt, leaves, and debris from the catio (not to mention kitty litter everywhere) it doesn't take long at all before my home gets pretty filthy.

And, as much as I'd like to vacuum every day between deep cleaning every-other-month, it's tough to work it into my routine. I vacuum once or twice a week and not at all when I'm traveling.

So... I started looking into robot vacuums. Everybody I know who has one, loves them. They're not meant to replace an "actual" vacuum cleaner, but they are totally capable of sucking up superficial filth that tends to accumulate day to day. Especially if you have cats.

From the time I spent researching them, I learned that my home is ideal for a robot vacuum because it is open-concept, has clear pathways with little clutter, and all floors are either hardwood or tile. Great. So which one to buy? I narrowed it down to three...

  • iRobot Roomba 960 ($700). Coming from the original and most popular RoboVac company, Roomba models are smart, highly rated, and come in a variety of models for every situation. The 960 is near the high-end, but has the features I'm looking for... including network connectivity, brushless extractors for cat hair, and direct-path navigation. If I had $700 to blow, this would be the one I buy because it comes with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee when purchased directly from the company.
  • Neato Botvac Connected ($700). Comparative feature-wise to the Roomba 960 above, this was actually my first choice... until I found out that Neato does not offer a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. This is absurd, as I'm not spending SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS on something that offers no guarantee as to whether it will work in my home. Despite some high ratings and nice reviews, the company doesn't have enough confidence in their product to back it up, so I'll take a pass.
  • Eufy RoboVac 11 ($200). This brand/model wasn't even on my radar until I read that it was the #1 pick by The Wirecutter. No, it's not network connected. No, it doesn't have brushless extractors. No, it doesn't have direct-path navigation. But... it's $200 and is said to work well on short-hair cat fur. And I believe it's covered by Amazon's 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. The major negative? From what I can tell, the battery is not replaceable. At all. Insanity. Hopefully there are YouTube videos out there showing how to replace the damn battery, because I would be very pissed if I had to toss the thing once the battery dies. So stupid that it's not user-replaceable like most other robot vacuums. Or, at the very least, factory-service replaceable.

I don't have $700 to spend on a robot vacuum, as nice as it may be to own one of the top-shelf models. Technically, I don't even have $200. But I sold an old camera body I wasn't using, which meant I had $200 I could spend.

The Eufy RoboVac 11 it is then.

Before the unit arrived I did three things...

  1. I tore out the poor quality shag area-rug I had in the living room. It was a piece of crap from day one, and only served to trap filth. I was not confident that the RoboVac could manage it, so I trashed it. Not a big deal, since I wish I would have done it a long time ago. As expected, it was disgusting, despite having been vacuumed regularly and installed less than a year ago.
  2. I turned the chairs up in the dining room. Because of the airflow dynamics of my home, a big chunk of the cat hair is forever accumulating around the feet of my dining table chairs and sticking to the felt pads. Since I figured that the RoboVac wouldn't have enough room to navigate around them, I just turned them on top of the table so as to create an easy path. Since I rarely eat at the table (preferring to eat while watching TV in the living room) this was just common sense. I'm mad at myself for not doing it sooner! Bonus: The cats can no longer hang around on top of my dining table.
  3. I did a "deep clean" of my entire home. The last thing I wanted to do was overwhelm the RoboVac on its first run, so I thought it best to start from a clean slate.

And then... it arrived. Set up was a cinch, though finding a place to put the charging base was a challenge. They require an area a bit larger than 7-feet wide by 7-feet deep... and it has to be against a wall! This is a huge area. Instead of having my RoboVac in my living room/dining room area as intended, I ended up putting it in the guest bedroom... and even then it comes up short from the required space. Doesn't seem to be having any ill-effects, but I find it insane that such a massive footprint is required. Does Eufy think all its customers live in mansions?

Eufy RoboVac 11 Charging Base!

I need about a foot more space on the left side, but I can move it to the right because then I don't have enough space in front. Another worry? Look at that tasty cord. I'm going to have to tape it up so the cats don't chew on it. I may experiment with moving the unit under the outlet (even though it will only have half the required space in front of it there) or perhaps build a cord protector. Or something.

The Eufy RoboVac 11 is completely dependent on the included remote control for anything other than automatic cleanings. Want to set the internal clock? Point the remote at it while you program it. Want to set a schedule? Point the remote at it while you program it. Want to send it "home?" Point the... well... you get the picture. Is this a deal-breaker? Not for $200. But it does kinda make you long for the network connectivity of the $700 units.

But the real question is... how do Jake and Jenny deal with our new robot friend? The first time it ran, Jenny hid upstairs the entire time while Jake stalked it around the house...

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

But the second day she was stalking it too...

Eufy RoboVac 11 vs. Jake!

A bigger problem than the cats are their cat toys...

CAT TOYS!

If you've got cats that like to leave toys scattered about, that could be a problem. They are certain to get moved around by RoboVac. If they are lightweight and have strings or feathers or other dangly bits, they'll be partially sucked into the unit then get hauled around, stuck there.

Actually, the real question when it comes to robot vacuums probably has nothing to do with cats... and everything to do with how well the thing actually works. Keeping in mind that I had done a "deep clean" the day before I got it, I think this photo of its first run through my home is everything you need to know...

RoboVac Dirt!

Since I had just cleaned, I expected there would be a few bits of dirt and a small amount of cat hair. Nuh-uh. Not even.

The bin was completely full.

Here's day two. FULL AGAIN?!...

RoboVac Dirt!

And day three. Not as bad, but still...

RoboVac Dirt!

Holy crap! Where is it finding all this?!? So gross. But wow does it ever work well! I may only have to "real vacuum" every month or so now!

When it comes to a cleaning schedule, I set the Eufy RoboVac 11 to do a full auto-clean every morning at 4:30am. The results are... weird...

  • DAY ONE (unscheduled): Ran for about 40 minutes. Then the status light turned solid red, the vacuum slowed to a crawl, but continued to roam around, even though there seemed to be very little suction. I thought the battery might be low, but if that were the case it would have gone back to base. The manual said I would hear beeps to count so I'd know what's wrong. It never beeped. I manually picked up the RoboVac and carried it to the charging station. It reset itself, charged up, and everything was back to normal.
  • DAY TWO (4:30am schedule): Cleaned for about 90 minutes, returned to base.
  • DAY THREE (4:30am schedule): Cleaned until 7:10... a full hour past its maximum battery life... then went out of view in my living room. I wasn't home, so I had to learn all this from the security cameras. I speculated that it got lost and the battery died.
  • DAY FOUR (4:30am schedule): Turns out the thing didn't die. It activated from wherever it ended up in the living room, cleaned for around 10 minutes, then went back to its charging base.
  • DAY FIVE (4:30am schedule): Once again cleaned for a ridiculous amount of time. Way, way past it's max battery life. Could not make it stop cleaning and return to base no matter what I tried until I physically turned it off and moved it.

Like I said, weird. But it seems to be working just fine except for the marathon cleaning sessions. Perhaps eventually it will settle into a more consistent routine?

And now the pros and cons of the Eufy RoboVac 11...

  • PRO: Actually works! I cannot emphasize just how happy I am that my every expectation was exceeded.
  • PRO: Shockingly quiet. Quieter than the Roombas my friends have. I think the reason my cats are seemingly okay with it is that it's not hugely noisy. And it gives them something to watch.
  • CON: You are required to have 1 meter of free space on either side plus 2 meters of free space in front of the charging station. This is kinda insane. How many homes have a 7-foot wide by 7-foot deep space against a wall available?
  • CON: Remote control is a bit clunky and has to be physically pointed directly at the RoboVac to function. At least the RoboVac "beeps" to let you know it "heard" you.
  • CON: Error reporting leaves a lot to be desired. I remain completely clueless as to why the unit suddenly went into red-light error mode then slow to a crawl. The manual says that the red light is an error that you can figure out by the number of "beeps" it issues. Problem was... no beeps?
  • CON: My RoboVac will return to base on its own when its battery runs low... eventually... but never when I use the remote to tell it to stop vacuuming and return to the charger. At first I thought it only ignored me when it experiences an error, but... not so much. Neither the remote "home" button nor the "auto" button on the unit works when in "error mode" or regular operating mode. Frustrating. I have to pick it up and physically take it to the charging base when I want it to stop early.
  • CON: Cheaper robot vacuums (like the RoboVac 11) have a kind of random wandering pattern while running. It's all over the place. One minute the dining room, the next in the living room, the next in the kitchen. More expensive vacuums have a straight-path navigation that runs in a grid pattern. This seems like a smarter way to make sure everything gets clean. Except... as the full bins of dirt and cat hair will attest, the random navigation is actually working. Sure it may miss a few spots on one day, but it will probably manage to get to them the next day.
  • CON: Just like so many other electronics now-a-days, the RoboVac is constructed of shiny plastic that scratches easily and adheres dust like a magnet. That's usually frustrating... but manageable. BUT ON A DEVICE THAT IS SUCKING UP DUST AS ITS PRIMARY FUNCTION?!? The thing is filthy all the time! WHY SHINY BLACK PLASTIC?!? Insanity. Or stupidity. Or both.

My RoboVac to-do list...

  1. Come up with a way of protecting the charging cord from cats who will most certainly want to chew on it.
  2. Build some kind of "tray" to protect the cat food bowls. The RoboVac pushes the bowls and mats around the dining room, which is kind of a pain.
  3. Replace toys that have long strings and feathers with toys that won't get sucked/stuck to the RoboVac.
  4. Change the cleaning schedule from 4:30am to noon. That way if it runs way long, it won't disturb the cats when they're eating breakfast.

CONCLUSION: Ultimately I'm so very happy I took the plunge. I love my new robot vacuum. I love it so much that I've named him Carl (after the janitor in The Breakfast Club) and he's a part of the family now. My Eufy RoboVac 11 is managing to find dirt and cat hair that I never even see. Yes, I'll still need to vacuum with my upright from time to time... a robot vacuum simply doesn't have the same suction power as an upright... but in helping to keep my home clean from day-to-day (especially while I'm gone). It's a fantastic tool and a big help.

Carl the Janitor!

My goal was to eventually replace the Eufy RoboVac 11 with a more expensive model that has all the bells and whistles I was wanting. But if it keeps doing the great job it has been, why would I? Paying $500 over the $200 that Carl cost me probably isn't going to get my home any cleaner. Maybe if I had carpet or complicated rooms it would be a different story... but, for now, I'm definitely sticking with what I got.

UPDATE: When I changed the schedule time, the RoboVac stopped vacuuming on the schedule. I contacted tech support and said I could try turning the power off. Then removing it from the base station. Then turning it on. Then clear the current schedule (hold the schedule button down until it beeps and clears). Then set a new schedule. Worked like a charm! Now Carl won't be interrupting the cats at breakfast.

   

Thank You for Your Service!

Posted on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Dave!It's been calculated that the cost for President Trump to go golfing in Mar-A-Lago four times is the same as the medical costs for taking care of our trans soldiers. And yet it's the money that President Trump cites as his reason for banning trans persons from service.

He also says they are a "distraction" which, given the shit-show that's his entire presidency, I find hilarious. Especially since his first tweet on banning trans service worried The Pentagon that he was starting a war with North Korea.

So much for promises...

Trump Supporting LGBT Persons Tweet

The non-stop parade of misinformation and outright lies being lobbied at the trans community is horrible. These tax-paying citizens want nothing more than to live their lives in a way that's true to themselves and have the same rights as Americans as everybody else. And yet wealthy old white men desperate to stay in power are clutching their pearls at the thought of people they don't like being on the same playing field as everybody else. They fucking own the playing field. They fucking make the rules. They fucking referee the match. But even that's not enough. They want to determine who gets to play too.

Fuck. That.

One day... hopefully one day soon... people are going to wake up and realize that it's not "just the lesbians"... it's not "just the gays"... it's not "just the bisexuals"... it's not "just the transexuals"... it's everybody. The people ACTUALLY running this country hate everybody. They don't give a shit about you. All they care about is wealth and power. Everything else comes second. A distant, distant second. And the very minute that they feel you are no longer of use to them, you get pitched out with the rest.

It's only a matter of time.

In the meanwhile, best start speaking up for those getting shit on while you still can. It's the only way there's going to be somebody around to speak up for you when it's your turn.

Happy hump-day, everybody.

   

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