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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!

   

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Thrice Fiction Magazine - March, 2011 - THE END
I'm co-founder of Thrice Fiction magazine. Come check us out!
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