Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2017
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...
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!
• 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.
Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017
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?
• 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+
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 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
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 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Suicide Squad... D
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
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+
Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
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!
Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
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...
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...
Yes. Go sports teams, go.
Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2017
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...
But so very typical.
Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2017
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...
Here is what happens when you stop petting him so you can take a picture...
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...
And I guess I should stop working when Jake wants to be petted. It never works out anyway...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
And now I suppose it's time to go to bed.
Assuming the cats will even let me in my bed.
Posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2017
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 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...
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!
Posted on Monday, January 9th, 2017
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.
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.
Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
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...
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.
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).
Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
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.
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.
Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
If you say or do something which pleases future Lord President Trump, you get the carrot...
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.
Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2017
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."
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.
*Yeah, that's putting it mildly. This is what the internet was like in 1998...
Posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017
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...
Jenny is an all or nothing kind of gamer.
Jake would rather sit around being handsome than play games...
Some things never change.
Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2017
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!
Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2017
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."
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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!
Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2017
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...
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.
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.
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.
Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017
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.
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.
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.
Despite it all, I still liked the guy. Probably because he made it so difficult to dislike him...
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House 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...
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.
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.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
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.
From the bottom of my heart... thanks, Obama.
Posted on Saturday, January 21st, 2017
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...
Not that Jenny spends all her time outside. She likes to snuggle up from time to time too...
Or sit around watching television...
Also this week... I've started bribing them to spend time in the new cat carriers I bought for their vet visit next month...
Not something I'm looking forward to. At all.
I'm pretty sure the cats won't be thrilled with the prospect either.
Posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
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...
Photos from The Associated Press
Though she seemed to be channeling Jackie Kennedy's fashion sense...
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2017
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.
Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.
Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2017
Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.
Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2017
Ain't nothin' going on but the cats.
Posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2017
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.
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...
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!
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...
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...
Other times she will run up just to see what's going on in the world...
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...
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...
AWWWWWWW! What extraordinary cats I have!
Posted on Sunday, January 29th, 2017
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...
Always screencap Trump's tweets... he might delete them.
An interesting aside here...
The FBI released crime data the other day for the first half of 2016. Chicago's murder rate wasn't even in the top 10 among large cities. pic.twitter.com/ra2lyYHbd9— Brad Heath (@bradheath) January 26, 2017
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...
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'
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!
Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2017
It's going to be a long four years.
Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2017
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...
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...
If there's one place in my house that's organized, it's the cat cupboard.
STEP ONE: Sniff at the box!
STEP TWO: Step into the box!
STEP THREE: Get in that 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, 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...
I check the clip camera and see this waiting for me...
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...
Alrighty then... until next Caturday...
Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2017
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...
Bullet Sunday will be back next week. Assuming there's a Sunday to put bullets on.
Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017
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.
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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
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!
Taco salad it is then.
Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
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...
There's probably been a foot more snow since then. Here's the view out my kitchen window...
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.
Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
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?
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.
Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2017
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.
Posted on Saturday, February 11th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2017
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...
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!
Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017
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
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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
I may be a little bit bitter about VD this year...
For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!
Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
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.
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...
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.
Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2017
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...
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.
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...
But eventually finding a much better spot...
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...
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 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...
After twenty minutes or so, Jenny hopped off so Jake could have his turn. He was still pretty freaked out...
But calmed down after five minutes or so...
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...
In the meanwhile... all is well...
Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2017
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...
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...
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)...
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)...
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.
Posted on Saturday, February 18th, 2017
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...
Or begging for attention...
Eventually they decided the floor next to me was close enough...
And now? Back to work for me...
Posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2017
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...
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...
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?
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.
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!
Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2017
...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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
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.
UPDATE: KAty performed the song at The Brits and it was pretty spectacular...
A lot of work went into that performance!
Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
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
Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2017
It's all going to be okay.
Posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2017
My life with cats.
Which is probably better than my life without cats, I'm guessing.
Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2017
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?
Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2017
And so Fake Jake has a new friend.
When I opened the garage this morning, it was two cats I found waiting for me. Introducing... 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 is shy, but completely adorable.
And now I have to chase two cats out of my filthy garage each morning...
I sure hope that Mini Fake Jake has a home to get back to. It's still fairly cold at night.
Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
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...
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.
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.
Posted on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
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...
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017
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...
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...
Jake hopped up a minute later...
I thought Jenny had hopped back down, but nope... she was over digging in the sink...
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...
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.
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...
Until next time, Disneyland.
Posted on Saturday, March 4th, 2017
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...
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.
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...
L.A. was like this...
Now that I'm back? This is the view the cats have from their catio...
Looks like I brought California skies back with me.
Which is great, because this snow can just go away any time now.
Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
It's a white chocolate mousse that's been tinted grey then heaped on a small red velvet cake that has raspberry in it...
It comes piled on a shortbread cookie that seems to have a rose drawn on it?
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...
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...
Even throw-away signs from an exit queue are painstakingly designed...
And every exterior sign is beautifully-crafted, of course...
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...
Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
None too impressed, is she?
Honestly, I think that's her natural state.
She is a cat, after all.
Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
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...
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.
Pants shitting aside, all's well that ends well.
Posted on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
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 is how long for her to make the nine trips up and down the stairs to do it...
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.
Posted on Thursday, March 9th, 2017
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.
Posted on Friday, March 10th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
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...
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?
Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017
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...
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.
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...
Once it's on, she'll have a seat...
And watch for an hour or more...
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...
When that doesn't work, she throws herself down and pouts...
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...
And on me in the evening when I get home from work...
Covered in cats from sunrise to sunset.
There are worse ways to spend a day.
Posted on Sunday, March 12th, 2017
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...
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...
Posted on Monday, March 13th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
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...
Jenny, on the other hand...
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.
I wonder if they sell remote-control water guns?
Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
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...
Follwing me everywhere right up until I walk out the door...
Nobody lays down a guilt trip like cats do.
And I'm off.
Posted on Thursday, March 16th, 2017
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.
Then it was time to meet up with Jester and friends for the show...
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.
Posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017
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...
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...
I started to pet her, but she was more interested in television, as usual...
So I guess we're good.
Nobody tell her that I'm leaving again tomorrow...
Posted on Saturday, March 18th, 2017
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...
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...
Oh well. The roads were pretty much clear, which is all that really matters.
Las Vegas, here I come.
Posted on Sunday, March 19th, 2017
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...
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!!!
And just to prove that they can make a slots game out of anything... HOUSE OF CARDS SLOTS!!!
Though, I have to say... Orange is the new Black slots would be m favorite of the night. Who knew?
Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
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?
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Is there anything worse than hanging out at your hotel waiting for your flight home once your vacation is over?
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...
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.
Posted on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017
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.
I'll be there soon enough.
In the meanwhile? Vanilla bean ice cream.
Posted on Saturday, March 25th, 2017
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...
And Jake was snuggled up wanting pets every ten minutes...
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.
Posted on Sunday, March 26th, 2017
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...
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.
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...
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?
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...
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.
Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
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.
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.
Posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Can I have your attention please?
Are you listening to me, Jenny?
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?
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.
I mean, look at what you brought this morning! Just one tired old toy, a ratty tan mouse, and that's it...
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?
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?
Alrighty then, I'm glad to hear it!
Good talk, Jenny. Good talk.
Posted on Thursday, March 30th, 2017
That cat I planted has finally sprouted!
Guess that means Spring is finally here...
Posted on Friday, March 31st, 2017
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...
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!
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...
Posted on Saturday, April 1st, 2017
Hey! What a nice surprise!
A new Rick and Morty episode was released on April Fool's Day!
I love this show.
Seeing the Season 3 premiere months(?) early just makes me want to watch the past two seasons all over again.
Posted on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017
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...
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...
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?
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.
Posted on Monday, April 3rd, 2017
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?
Posted on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
Oh how I've been dreaming of this day.
Posted on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017
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...
So here's to life.
Such as it is.
Posted on Thursday, April 6th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Friday, April 7th, 2017
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...
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...
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...
Posted on Saturday, April 8th, 2017
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 9th, 2017
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?!?
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...
• 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...
And... Bullets B Gone.
Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017
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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017
Posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017
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.
At least for the half-dozen stores I've been to.
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.
Posted on Thursday, April 13th, 2017
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...
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...
Apparently they're dead-set on watching Netflix... sex or no sex.
Posted on Friday, April 14th, 2017
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...
How many projects I get through depends on how much time I can scrape together over the summer.
But I'm starting now.
Posted on Saturday, April 15th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Sunday, April 16th, 2017
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.
Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2017
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."...
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...
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...
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.
Posted on Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
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...
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.
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.
Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
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...
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...
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.
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?
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.
I guess we'll see how broke I am by the time I've finished paying for my upcoming vacation.
Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Friday, April 21st, 2017
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...
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.
Posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
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...
And... I'm out of adorable for today.
Posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
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...
#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.
Posted on Monday, April 24th, 2017
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...
Then downloaded preview images into Photoshop so I could see if they would fit together well...
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"...
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!
Posted on Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
I like to think that I am a fairly tolerant and accepting person.
Posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
What a shitty day to be me.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
And then I ended up with a flat tire on the way home from running some errands. It's kind of mind-boggling that out of 35 years of driving, this is my first flat tire. I've had to change plenty of tires for other people... but this is the first time for myself.
Fortunately my spare had enough air in it to get me home.
Guess what I get to do in the morning?
Posted on Thursday, April 27th, 2017
As I was sitting in the lobby of the tire store waiting for my flat tire to be replaced this morning, I found myself staring at a somewhat-recent(!) issue of TIME magazine.
Which is more like a pamphlet than a magazine anymore, but okay.
The cover, designed in the same style as TIME's infamous "Is God Dead?" cover from 1966, asks the question "Is Truth Dead?"...
I didn't even need to crack the cover to know the answer to that. Not only is truth dead, it's been dead for decades.
It's just that now we can all stop pretending.
Not pretending that truth isn't dead.
Pretending that we care.
Posted on Friday, April 28th, 2017
Fed the cats.
Took a shower and got dressed.
Drove over the mountains for an appointment.
Went to the appointment.
Had lunch at Qdoba.
Bought a trunk full of groceries at Trader Joes's.
Got distracted by the cats.
Watched television for an hour.
Remembered I had a trunk full of expensive frozen groceries that were melting.
Fed the cats.
Cooked a thawed frozen Trader Joe's pizza for dinner.
Developed an infinitely-scalable model for quantum theory that doesn't require an infinite number of models to be calculated.
Went to bed.
Posted on Saturday, April 29th, 2017
Cats are still alive and doing well.
So I guess that's a win for me on Caturday then.
Probably a sign that I need more cats.
Posted on Sunday, April 30th, 2017
Time to celebrate another week down the toilet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• DC! I have made no secret of my love of all things coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and my deep loathing of all things coming out of the DC Cinematic Universe. This fan video puts the reason why in vivid relief...
100% accurate. DC has a habit of taking fun, exciting, uplifting hero stories and degrading them to joyless sequences of death and destruction that are a chore to watch. Why in the hell they don't put the team in charge of their TV shows in charge of their movies I will never know. At least they know how to make the characters fun to watch. Justice League, a movie I should be on pins and needles to see, is something I honestly don't give a shit about. Not when we've got Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther coming up. Not to mention Infinity War, which promises to blow the doors off of any super-hero film yet seen.
• Piper! I never got to see Finding Dory in theaters, but bought the Blue-Ray in 3D so I could watch it at home. Never had time to explore the "extras" on the disc, but today discovered it has a Pixar Short called Piper included...
That snippet is just the tip of the iceberg. Such a wonderfully adorable bit of animation! Well worth tracking down if you haven't seen it yet.
• Tarzan! The novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most imaginative and entertaining reads I've ever experienced. That he started writing them in 1912 just goes to show how incredible a storyteller he was. Between John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes (and a slew of others), he has a wealth of material just begging to be adapted into movies.
And they have been.
Unfortunately, they've mostly sucked. John Carter was a total shit-fest that abandoned everything that made the character so compelling. And Tarzan? In the books he is an extremely intelligent character who speaks dozens of languages and is as accomplished in civilization as Lord Greystoke as he is in the jungle as Tarzan. But what do we get? Every time Tarzan comes to the screen, he's a grunting ignoramus that barely knows how to speak because he's written more as an animal than a man. For any Tarzan fan it's a massive disappointment, and I'd all but given up hope that we'd ever get an adaptation of The Lord of The Jungle that wasn't crap. Enter The Legend of Tarzan...
Now, this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a flawless adaptation of Tarzan. But holy crap... it's the closest thing I've yet seen, and I loved it. All that plus it has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in it! And gone are the days of Tarzan being a stupid savage! Hell, they even made an effort for Jane to be more than a damsel in perpetual distress! Sure the CGI, which actually started out quite good, ultimately degrades to a level that was below-par, but it didn't destroy how much I enjoyed watching the story unfold. So... ignore the critics. If you like Tarzan... the REAL Tarzan... this is a film that's definitely worth a look!
• TRADER JOE'S CONSUMER ALERT!
"Have you got any more Black Bean and Jack Cheese burritos? I took the last two."
"I think that's all we got. Have you tried the Super Burrito? It's the same except it's made with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Really good."
"Okay, I'll try it, thanks!"
And so tonight I decided to have a late lunch /slash/ early dinner and give it a try. I take a bite and it's not bad... light on the sweet potato and heavy on the quinoa... but it's got a nice spicy bite to it. And then... AND THEN... I take another bite and there's something crunchy/leafy/weird. Is that spinach, I wonder? I dig the wrapper out of the garbage and... IT'S NOT SPINACH... IT'S FUCKING KALE!
TRADER JOE'S TRICKED ME INTO EATING KALE AND NOW I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO DIE!!!
Needless to say, I am not in a good place right now, and I appreciate everybody's understanding as I attempt to mentally and physically recover from this tragedy. I will soon be setting up a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with the massive costs involved in getting me healthy again. WAAAAAHHH!!!! WHO PUTS KALE IN A BURRITO?!? WHY, LORD? WHYYYYYYY?!?.
• Let's Play! Alrighty then... time once again to play the "Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...
Oh yeah. Big fucking surprise... he's not only Tea Party and Ku Klux Klan supporter, but also a former Trump campaign chair! Because disgusting shit like this is only bad when Democrats are doing it, I guess? Republicans do this kind of heinous shit and "their base" elects them to the school board!
"Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...
Hmmm... let me guess...
• Bullshit! And lastly, an article that's well-worth a read, regardless of religious affiliation is here: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies. Because, look... so long as you can walk into a post office and buy a stamp with Jesus on it for Christmas... I've had just about enough of this bullshit notion that Christians are some kind of persecuted class and there's a war on Christian ideology. As somebody who is not a Christian and sees just how pervasive the religion is in dominating so many aspects of American culture, it's embarrassing that people are trying to keep this one alive. And yet FOX "News" is undoubtedly already warming up new ideas to make "The War on Christmas" become something out of nothing again. Because what plays better than victimization on TV?
Time to reload...
Posted on Monday, May 1st, 2017
Hey! Yesterday was the last day of April!
It was also the last day RW and I had to get our "April" issue of Thrice Fiction released, which we did. It's our nineteenth installment of everybody's favorite lit-mag. A fact I bring up because I still remember being told not once... but many times... that we'd never last past our first year because most endeavors like this are doomed to failure.
But not us, baby.
You can take a look at it over at ThriceFiction.com and, in a first for us, you can also read it online! No special browser plug-in needed! In fact, all nineteen issues are available for reading or download absolutely FREE!
That amazing cover is courtesy of frequent Thrice Fiction contributor Katelin Kinney. Beautiful, isn't it?
The insides are equally wonderful... filled with great stories and terrific artwork from a bunch of talented people.
So what are you waiting for? Go get some!
Posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
I spend entirely too much time questioning my sanity lately.
Every time I turn on the television, any time I go online, any time I am exposed to the world... I feel like I'm taking crazy pills...
For heaven's sake... just go play some golf or something. Yes it costs taxpayers millions, but at least you aren't fucking embarrassing the country or taking us closer to World War III.
Posted on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
I'm so done with it all.
Posted on Thursday, May 4th, 2017
The hypocrisy of Paul Ryan would be comical if it weren't for the lethal consequences of all his fucking bullshit.
I could go on for pages about what a massive betrayal the new "health care" plan is for the American people, but I'm just too damned tired. So here's Seth Meyers, again, to put it all into perspective...
As for the bill itself? Jesus...
The only possible up-side to all this crap is that once people understand how anybody who isn't young, healthy, and rich are completely fucked, maybe these douchebags will finally be voted out of office.
Posted on Friday, May 5th, 2017
And so I'm off to Denver.
But first I had errands Seattle-side, so I had to get up early for the drive over. Which wasn't easy, because I could not get any sleep last night. No idea why. Can't even blame it on the cats, because they were fast asleep at the foot of the bed.
I finally got up at 5:30am because I was tired of staring at the ceiling... giving me plenty of time to shower, pack, and head out the door at 7am.
Drive. Errands. Falafel Lunch.
And then... then, as I'm headed to the airport, I get the alert that my flight has been delayed. Then another alert. Then another alert.
Rather than sit at the airport for two hours, I head to the giant new IKEA that's nearby. They made it huge. But it's still crowded and the parking still sucks. Hopefully they are putting new and improved parking in the space that the old IKEA used to be (one it's been torn down).
As I get yet another alert, I notice that with each new email Delta lists the revised original departure time as the previous revised departure time, which is kind of hysterical...
Do people actually fall for this?
Finally I just go to the airport for lack of anything better to do.
Once our delayed, delayed, delayed flight has boarded, there's some kind of problem with the service jetway, so we can't leave.
Once that's been handled, we still can't leave.
Because the TSA thinks there's two more babies onboard than there actually are. Which has the flight attendants literally walking the aisles looking for "hidden babies." I shit you not.
But eventually we're off... hidden babies and all... though my plans of having dinner in Denver have been destroyed.
Oh well. Off to the hotel it is then.
I go to the check-in desk only to find a male employee talking about setting up a blog (on Blogger!) with one guest... and a female employee looking at hairstyles with another guest on her mobile phone. The female employee finally says "Are you trying to check in?" and starts handling it... ALL WHILE CONTINUING TO DISCUSS HAIRSTYLES WITH THE OTHER GUEST! The only words she says to me are "Do you want me to go get you a couple bottles of water?" and "Here's your key" and "The wifi login is your last name and your room number." AND THAT'S IT! She barely even looked at me... then immediately hopped around the counter to play with the guest's hair to show her how she could get the style she wanted.
Now that's service! Not for me, of course, but for the lady wanting a new hairstyle and the guy wanting to set up a blog.
Hopefully I sleep better tonight than I did last night.
Posted on Saturday, May 6th, 2017
Today was long-time blogging friend Howard's 50th birthday!
And to celebrate, he rented out a theater at The Alamo Draft House Denver so a group of us could watch Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2.
Given my love of the first film, I was really, really looking forward to seeing it...
And my verdict? Not as good as the first movie, but a fantastic film that's high on entertainment value.
For more of my spoiler-filled thoughts, you'll have to read on in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, May 7th, 2017
It's good to be home, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Travel Day! Last night I was going to head into Denver for some dinner and bumming around after Howard's birthday party, but made the mistake of "laying down for a minute" and decided I'd rather order out pizza and watch TV. After pizza, I decided to pack up my crap, iron tomorrow's clothes, and get everything ready to go for today. Always a smart move, because I just love being able to roll out of bed, shower, and head out on a travel day. Why I don't do this more often I will never know. I guess that deep down I prefer the mad dash of getting ready in the ten minutes before my ride arrives? Who can say?
• Home! When I arrived back home today, the first thing I did was start unpacking. Jenny felt threatened by dirty clothes flying and retreated to her basket...
Jake kept trying to crawl all over me, so I grabbed his favorite blanket and finally gave in while I was sorting laundry...
Laying down was a mistake, as I fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up, Jenny had joined in and I was covered in kittens. There are certainly worse homecomings.
• Things to do in Denver. Side-by-side on the Denver "Things to Do" rack at my hotel...
But which to do first? Hmmmm...
• Hope! As a huge fan of Greek mythology for as long as I could read, I've always had a soft spot for Wonder Woman. When George Pérez reinvented the character in 1987 by jettisoning decades of bad choices so she could be tied even stronger to her Greek mythological origins, Wonder Woman quickly became one of my favorite super-heroes. Which is why I've been awaiting her big-screen debut with absolute dread given the horrendously shitty movies DC has been churning out lately. And yet... there's hope...
Not bad. Not bad at all. I guess we'll know for sure on June 2.
• Spidey! And lest we forget that Marvel has a super-hero film of their own coming out this summer...
I mean, holy shit. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire films okay, but this... THIS... is Spider-Man! He moves like you'd expect Spider-Man to move, and it's a glorious thing to see. Cannot wait for July 5th!
• Neutrality 2. I have said pretty much all I have to say about the pig-fuckers in our government wanting to sell-out the internet to big media companies. But now that our corrupt asshole of a president is mounting a new assault, all I want to do is explode with rage. Here's a more rational response...
How the American people can be SO FUCKING STUPID as to put up with this FUCKING BULLSHIT is beyond me. But, hey... the American people elected a pussy-grabbing Cheeto Jesus as president, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
And I'm fucking done.
Posted on Monday, May 8th, 2017
This remarkable collection of poems, letters, and writings by the late Lorri Jackson is a lush snapshot of street culture in 1980's Chicago as edited by Thrice co-founder RW Spryszak and designed by Thrice co-founder David Simmer II (yours truly)...
You can read more about the book over at Thrice Publishing.
Thanks to everybody for your continued support!
Posted on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017
A while ago, I saw this amazing BuddhaCat statue at Pier One. I wanted it immediately so I could add it to my Buddha statue collection, but it was $40 and I couldn't justify the cost.
Then today I got a 25% Off coupon in a Pier One email and decided to run and get it... even though I still couldn't really afford it. But let's face it, the thing would look great on my new desk.
My desk is just across from a part of my collection, so BuddhaCat is right at home...
He's kind of big, but still fit easily behind the desk pad I got at IKEA on Friday...
The cats wasted absolutely no time investigating their new cat companion...
I must admit that I'll kind of miss having BuddhaCat as my co-pilot though...
So pretty in sunlight.
Okay then... just so long as I don't run into BuddhaKitten somewhere, I should remain financially stable through the end of the month.
Assuming I eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles until then, of course.
Posted on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
I updated my travel map while on the phone this morning.
The thing was getting way too complicated for me to manage manually, so I switched to Google My Maps a while back. What a cool piece of tech that is. Makes it so easy to keep track of the places I've flown into, stayed at, or been. Granted, it's undoubtedly not 100% complete because I've forgotten a lot of places... but it's close enough.
In all honesty I don't know whether I should be amazed that I managed to get to this much of the world... or horrified that there's so many places I've yet to visit...
If you want to play with the interactive version to see how nice Google My Maps is... just head to my Map Page. Or sign into your Google account and make a map of your own!
Posted on Thursday, May 11th, 2017
I'm going to prove how bigly smart I am by picking a fight with the FBI.
You know... the guys who know where all the bodies are buried. Literally.
Posted on Friday, May 12th, 2017
The kittens look like Jake and Jenny when they were little.
Posted on Saturday, May 13th, 2017
I am a hundred miles away from my cats this Caturday... which means I'm checking in on them several times a day via the plethora of security cameras that activated the minute I walked out the door. Usually they are out in the catio, but this morning they were nowhere to be found. In order to solve the mystery, I reviewed camera footage and found out where they went, but it's an area served by a battery-backup local camera, so I'll have to wait until I get home until I find out what mayhem they are up to.
The big cat-news this week that I didn't realize would be "cat-news" until it happened: I bought new couch pillows from IKEA.
Jake and Jenny were all over them the minute I set them down...
Jenny, in particular, just loves them. She will roll around on them... move them around... bite them... even attempt to tunnel under them like she's building some kind of pillow fort...
The first morning after I set them out, I walked downstairs to find all four thrown on the floor. I went back to the security camera footage and found that Jenny had thrown them off the couches in the middle of the night so she could sit on them. She'd even drag them from place to place so she would have someplace new to sit...
Most of the day she leaves them on the couch, thankfully, preferring to use them as a throne from which to survey her kingdom...
Jake likes to think he's the queen when Jenny is off eating bugs in the catio...
Speaking of Jake... the minute he sees that I've woken up each morning, he's been hopping up to snuggle. Usually with his butt in my face so he can get rump-scratches...
In other cat news... I noticed that there was kitty litter
Then it happened again. And last night I finally figured out why. Both cats are trying to climb in the Litter Robot at the same time... something that hasn't happened before... and it's making a big mess. Not sure how to handle this. But if it gets to be a common thing, I'll have to think of something, because kitty litter is expensive.
This evening when I got a text alert that the Feed-And-Go feeders went off, I didn't see either can running up to eat supper. I pulled up the cameras and saw that they were both out in the catio and must not have heard them cycle. So I use the speaker on the camera to tell them "It's dinner time! Go eat dinner!" which is usually all it takes. When I'm home. When I'm talking through the speaker, they get confused...
"HOW DID YOU GET IN THAT TINY BOX, HUMAN?!? WHY ARE YOU NOT HERE FEEDING US?!?"
Meet Barnaby, a cat I found on Facebook...
Barnaby is a 15 year old sweetheart who came to us as a stray. This super affectionate fellow shouldn't be spending his golden years in the shelter. Please come meet dear Barnaby at the VAO soon. He promises to melt your heart.
When I went to the shelter, this is the kind of cat I honestly thought I'd be walking out with. I told them I'd take whatever cat had an eye missing or three legs or whatever it was that was making them unadoptable. I was told "Oh wow... usually we love people like you... but we don't have any cats like that right now." And instead I ended up with two of the most perfect kittens you've ever seen. I hope this sweet older kitty finds a home.
UPDATE: And he has...
Thank you for the outpouring of love and concern for Barnaby. We are no longer accepting applications for him. Barnaby has already received multiple applications and will most likely be going home soon.
Sometimes people are good.
Posted on Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Home is a great place to be, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Spring Has Finally Sprung! When I got back yesterday, I noticed that the beautiful dogwood tree that the previous owner planted in the front yard was starting to bloom! I think my irises are also ready to pop, but they're a lot of work to keep pretty. The tree is beautiful from start to finish with no intervention from me...
I was worried that the heavy snow destroyed it because everybody else's trees went into bloom weeks ago. Good boy!
• Sense8 Season Two! When Netflix released the first season of Sense8 back in 2015, a collaboration between The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski, I was not interested. With the exception of the original Matrix film and possibly
While I ended up liking the second season more than the first, there are serious problems that kept me from loving it. First of all... despite the large cast, they introduced even more characters. Some to disastrous effect. Take for example the trans character Nomi and her partner Amanita, a pair of hackers living in San Francisco. Easily two of the most unique and interesting characters on the show (if not television itself), but this season they are essentially shoved aside in favor of a new character called "Bug" that's not only annoying as fuck, he's also redundantly taking on hacking chores that should have stayed with Nomi and Neets. Like when Nomi had to dress in heels, but fell down and knocked herself unconscious, leaving "Bug" to save the day. Like HA HA HA HA! THE TRANS CHARACTER CAN'T WALK, so let's have a man step in and fix everything. What the actual fuck? But even worse is the mindless way they keep setting up fights and absurd situations so the characters can "mind bond." Sometimes it's what makes the show fantastic (let's face it, I could watch Doona Bae kick ass all day long) but other times it's just so badly manipulative and manufactured as to be laughable (Shades of Babylon 5, Batman!). The mind-bond scenes should be organic and come about naturally... like when Sun finally goes after her brother at the end in one of the best action sequences I've seen this year. But the absolute worst thing about Season 2 is the ending... which has a half-dozen cliffhangers. Everybody must be really confident that Netflix is going to shell out $100 million for season three. Because if they don't, a lot of people are going to be pissed at how pathetic an ending we got.
• Soda Pop! This right here is the idiotic crap that has people fed up with our elected officials: Diet drinks added to Seattle mayor’s soda-tax proposal, upping revenue estimates. And you have to ask yourself... is the dipshit Seattle mayor's plan all about saving us from obesity and (now) fighting white privilege? Or is it designed to distract people from the news that he fucked teen boys? Let's allow the media to decide! And when it comes out that the mayor is also addicted to cocaine? THEN A TAX ON YOUR COOKIES TOO, YOU LOWLIFE PLEEB! All I know is that when you have to start adding a tax to a bottle of Coke in order to raise revenue, you are probably SPENDING TOO MUCH FUCKING MONEY!
• Do It Yourself! Never did I think in my lifetime that my small-town local grocery store would get self-checkout, but here we are. I guess even Redneckistan is tired of dealing with people's shit...
Oh well. I guess it's only a matter of time before we're all replaced by a machine.
• Travel Day! Yeah... you won't convince me that John McCain is some kind of hero for being the lone GOP voice asking for investigation into the president's ties with Russia. Of course I respect his service to this country, but he's a MIA/POW betrayer and a pile of fucking garbage as a senator. He and bipartisan Democratic betrayer John Kerry are BOTH a pile of fucking garbage. So get all wet over McCain if you want to... I'll just be over here reminding myself of his dishonorable treatment of those brave soldiers who couldn't come home like he did because of his actions in preventing it...
Jesus, what an asshole.
• Please Call Me Back! Is it possible for a song to have some of the worst lyrics you've ever heard... and yet you can't get enough of it? This track by the band Rey Pila is unapologetically 80's in tone and construction, which is why I like it. And yet... holy crap are these some awful lyrics. Granted they are out of Mexico, so English probably isn't their first language, but still...
I am hopelessly in a love/hate relationship with their stuff that's been posted to YouTube. Though some of their songs are pure love...
All 80's all the time over at Rey Pila!
And game over. So long, Bullet Sunday...
Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2017
This morning I woke up craving a Qdoba burrito.
But the nearest Qdoba is 2-1/2 hours away, which means there's no Qdoba for me unless I drive back over the mountains.
Just one of the many detriments of living in a small town.
Luckily I had stopped at Trader Joe's on my way home yesterday (something else we don't have here) but, as delicious as my Black Bean and Jack Cheese Burrito dinner was, it's just not the same.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Or the stomach.
And yet... sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.
When I was in high school I earned money for school clothes and computer games by working at the local dime store. There was a lovely older woman who would shop there from time to time, and I always hoped that she would write a check to pay for her purchases because she had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. Seriously. Tim Girvin has nothing on this woman. Her writing was elegant and flowing and ornate and wholly wonderful in a way that was a joy to look at. And watching her construct her amazing penmanship was a performance that I would have paid money to watch. She started moving her hand in graceful circles as a warm up before she even put pen to paper. She ended each word with a flourish. She signed her name with a series of motions that was tantamount to a dance. It always made my day to see it. Sometimes my week.
Last week I was reminded of this woman, but couldn't remember her name. Then I realized that everybody I could ask about her, including my grandmother, isn't here any more. As I slowly collapsed into a heap of depression, Alexa tells me it's time to go to work, so off I go.
When I get to work I related my tale of woe... only to have one of my coworkers immediately know of her. The woman whose name I was looking for was Abby Brender... a person as lovely as her handwriting.
Sometimes living in a small town has its benefits.
Posted on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
If President Obama had disclosed classified information to the Russians under any circumstances, he would have been viciously attacked by the Conservative press until the end of time.
If President Obama had said "I have the absolute right to share information with Russia" after disclosing the classified information to them, a lynch mob would have formed outside The White House within the hour. Hell, there would probably be rioting as the building was set on fire.
And President Obama didn't even have accusations about colluding with the Russians hanging over his head.
But a Republican president with all kinds of sketchy Russian ties discloses classified information to the Russians and says he has the right to do it? The Conservative press is falling all over themselves to claim that the real problem is not President Trump sharing sensitive information with Russia... but that White House staff is undermining the president by leaking classified information on his dealings with Russia to the press.
So leaks are good.
I dunno. It's most certainly bad when Hillary Clinton is careless with classified information. We all know that. THAT was enough to cost her the presidency!
So I guess it all depends on what day of the week it is.
And that you're not a Democrat, not black, and not a woman.
Or something like that.
I'd ask questions, but I don't want to be arrested. Because bend me over the Lincoln Memorial and fuck me with a tightly-rolled copy of The Constitution... this happened.
Welcome to fascism.
Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
I've officially reached the "GET OFF OF MY LAWN!" period of my life.
And I know exactly the moment it happened. I was in Target looking for a new card game... I turned a corner... and BLAM! Hipster dolls from the "My Generation" collection!
Meet Sia. Sia says... "Science is the art of inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules and having fun doing it." Which is all well and good. But... damn... hipster chic...
Sia has a twin sister named Sabina, who wasn't available at the store I was in... but I looked her up online at the My Generation website. Turns out she's a fucking hipster too. But unlike her twinsie, Sabina is into art...
And while I'm sure this is a step up from the Bratz dolls that look like little whores, My Generation takes it up a notch by having awesome accessories! Including horses, an R.V., a malt shop, and... oh yeah... an ice cream truck...
Well... NOT over it.
All my Six Million Dollar Man doll had was a rocket ship that transformed into a "Bionic Repair Station." I feel so deprived. What I wouldn't have given to have Steve Austin and Oscar Goldman be able to go out for an ice cream cone between missions.
Hell, even The Bionic Woman doll had a "Bionic Beauty Salon" to hang out in. Did anybody ever stop to think if Steve Austin maybe wanted to feel pretty and have a spa day sometimes?
His body may have cost six million dollars to repair... but his feeling weren't worth a buck-oh-five.
Posted on Thursday, May 18th, 2017
My plan was to wait and review The LEGO Batman Movie after it hit home-video so that I wouldn't spoil anything for those who hadn't seen it. That day is tomorrow. And I'm still hesitant to spoil anything by reviewing it, because it's just so frickin' hilarious and amazing.
Suffice to say, it's about the best thing you'll ever see, and you simply must watch it.
The movie is everything great about LEGO Batman's appearance in The LEGO Movie, but ramped up to an absurd degree...
I have no doubt that I'm going to end up watching the film a hundred times when it goes on sale tomorrow. It's that good.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
The Avengers... A+
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 2... B
Blade Trinity... B-
Captain America... A+
Captain America: The Winter Soldier... A+
Captain America: Civil War... A++
Daredevil (Director's Cut)... B+
Doctor Strange... A
Electra Woman and Dyna Girl... B-
Fantastic Four... C
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer... D
Guardians of the Galaxy... A+
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2... A
Ghost Rider... C
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance... D
Green Hornet... D
Green Lantern... C+
Hellboy 2: Golden Army... A
Incredible Hulk... B
The Incredibles... A+
Iron Man... A+
Iron Man 2... A-
Iron Man 3... A+
Jonah Hex... F
Kick-Ass 2... B-
The LEGO Batman Movie... A++
Man of Steel... F-
Punisher War Zone... C
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World... C
Spider-Man 2... A
Spider-Man 3... D-
Amazing Spider-Man... D
Amazing Spider-Man 2... D-
Suicide Squad... D
Superman Returns... C+
Thor: The Dark World... B
The Wolverine... B
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+
Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017
Internet-enabled security cameras are all the rage even though there are inherent risks to having them. Hackers are exploiting webcams with increasing regularity, which means that your privacy could be violated if you're not careful. Personally, I'm okay with the risks. Being able to remotely view my cameras from wherever I am in the world is the whole point of getting them in the first place. I want to be able to see what my cats are up to and check on possible security problems, and this is the easiest way to do it. But I don't put them in private areas (like bathrooms or bedrooms), I change the default passwords, and I have all interior cameras turn off when I walk in the door, so... if somebody wants to look at my kitchen while I'm away, have at it.
I actually have two sets of cameras. One is all local storage only with battery back-ups in case the power or internet goes down, the other is my webcam system that records to the cloud. After buying four different brands that were rated "the best" so I could test them out, Nest is the one I liked most and bought into...
Like anything in life, it's a mixed bag. There are good things and bad things to the deal.
THE NEST CAMS...
Despite my many issues with Nest, the quality of their cameras is absolutely not one of them. Indeed, the only thing that keeps me a customer is that the cameras are just so nice. Dead simple to set up. Beautifully designed. 1080p resolution with a generous wide-angle view. Excellent night-vision. When it comes to security cameras, they are the total package. You pay for it, of course. An indoor Nest Cam is a whopping $199 (around $169 street) and the outdoor Nest Cam is also $199 (around $179 street). I don't know that they are worth the price tag... $129 seems a more reasonable cost (especially considering you have to pay an additional fee for all the features)... but I've found nothing out there that compares at any price.
Where things go off the rails with Nest Cams is the necessity of paying for their Nest Aware cloud service. Yes, your cameras work perfectly fine without it, but all the best features of Nest Cam are unavailable unless you pay. And it ain't cheap...
The least expensive program gets you 10 days of video history at $100 for the first camera (annually), then $50 for each additional camera. I have ten cameras. If all of them were on Nest Aware, that would be an insane $550 a year. I can't afford that, so I only have some of my cameras using the service. What you get when you subscribe to Nest Aware is the afore-mentioned video history retrieval (with the ability to create downloadable clips or time-lapse videos) plus the ability to define "activity zones" so you can choose which locations in the camera's view will trigger an alert. Without Nest Aware, you can tune into a live view any time you want... and you can get a "motion snapshot" history for the past 3 hours (but only on your phone, not from a web browser). I wish they had a 2 day history option for $20 per camera so all my Nest Cams could be Nest Aware... or even have a 1 day history freebie so all Nest Cams could be Nest Aware. But, alas...
UPDATE: Nest has added a 5-Day video history option which is much more affordable. I was contemplating ditching Nest because the Aware features are just too expensive, but $50 a year for the first camera plus $25 a year for each additional is perfect for me.
UPDATE: Well, that was fast. I thought that $25 was a reasonable price, so I changed my plans to dump Nest in favor of Amazon and bought some new Nest cameras. Just now I went to add Nest Aware to one of the cameras only to find that they raised the price to $30... after just five months. This company is nothing but dick moves. I will never trust them again.
NEST AWARE ACCESS...
The Nest Aware service can be accessed from an app on your phone or a web browser. Both have an easy-to-use interface that's beautifully designed. A while back Nest added a "spaces" overview of all your cameras, which is what you see when you login. The only problem is that if you have Nest Protect smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, they bundle them together for some stupid reason, ruining the perfect grid of cameras. I've blurred the feeds so you can't see how messy my house is...
No clue why they do this, but it's incredibly annoying and I haven't found a setting to "unbundle" them. Hell, I can't figure out any reason why you would want them bundled in the first place.
NEST AWARE INSANITY...
Recently I have been having major problems with the video stalling on the screen when I view it on a web browser. Things have been working great for a year now (assuming I had a good internet connection), so what's the deal? I chatted with Nest support, telling them that the video is definitely getting to Nest Aware because I can download a clip as a Quicktime movie and the motion is there... I can even view it in motion on my iPhone... but 9 times out of 10 on my browser, the image doesn't move. Whether I am trying to watch the video live or review my video history, the image is static. So obviously there's something wrong with the Nest Aware streaming service for browsers, right? WRONG! First they blame the browser (that's tech support 101). But stalled video happens regardless of which browser and which computer I am using. Then I'm told not just once... but multiple times... that the problem is probably my router because the Nest Aware Service is "fine." This, of course, is insane. If the problem were my router, then motion video wouldn't be getting to Nest Aware. Except it is. My router doesn't even enter into the equation when it comes to getting video OUT of Nest Aware, only into it...
Long story short... the problem fixes itself when I use shitty "Flash" instead of "HTML 5" video to connect to Nest Aware. I thought of relaying this back to Nest but, given their fixation on my router, they probably wouldn't believe me.
NEST AWARE ZONES & PEOPLE DETECTION...
My favorite feature of Nest Aware is being able to define "zones" where I want motion reported. In my front yard, for example, I want to know if somebody is on my driveway or walk... or trying to steal my garden hose. I don't care about the people cutting across my yard or the tree moving when the wind blows. Defining a zone where I'll get alerted is a piece of cake (shown below in orange)...
The system works really well. Alerts are messaged to my iPhone quickly and, unlike other cameras I tried, motion outside the zone is actually ignored (this turned out to be a bigger problem than you'd think). An additional feature of Nest Aware is their claim to be able to send you "People Alerts" when your camera "thinks it spotted a person"...
Nest's website claims that its system is so smart that it can distinguish a person from a thing or a pet. Except... not so much. Their accuracy rate, so far as I can recall, is 0%. A team of landscapers arrive to mow and trim and not one "people alert" is ever sent. The only people alerts I get always turn out to be my cats. The alerts above, for example, were Jake and Jenny wrestling in the catio...
So... if your sole reason for buying into Nest is the "people alerts," then you might want to keep looking.
UPDATE: While still far from perfect (my cats are still registering as people from time to time)... actual people are now being recognized correctly most of the time. Guess a benefit of having a cloud-based service is that it's easy for the supplier to update the tools available.
NEST AWARE SETTINGS...
The settings available for Nest Cams are fairly standard, but organized really well. Some settings can switch automatically based on whether or not I am home (the system uses the Nest App on my iPhone to figure that out). As an example, I have all the interior cameras automatically turn off when I am home, then turn back on again when I am gone. If you don't want your location reported to Nest, you can always set home/away manually by clicking on the big toggle button that shows up at login...
If that's still too much information for you, there's also the ability to set a schedule for your cameras to follow. The rest of the settings allow you to decide whether or not you want to have the microphone on, what kind of alerts you want, what kind of image quality you're sending, whether or not to use night vision... that kind of stuff...
A feature I wish were available is setting the video quality based on whether I am home or away. When I'm home, I'm using the internet for all kinds of things and would prefer the cameras send low-res video so they're not hogging my bandwidth. When I'm away, I don't care how much bandwidth the cameras are hogging, and want them to automatically switch to maximum resolution. Don't know if this is possible, but boy would that be handy.
NEST AWARE PAYMENT...
If there were one thing that could be a complete and total deal-breaker for me when it comes to Nest, it's the disastrous billing system that they have in place for Nest Aware. It's insanely stupid. Beyond insanely stupid. First of all... if, like me, you bought your Nest Cams six months apart so you could split the annual Nest Aware payment into two parts so the financial hit isn't so terrible... Nest would like to kindly ask you to go f#@% yourself. They don't allow it. If you already have cameras on Nest Aware and want to add more of them six months later, they pro-rate the annual fee for the new cameras so the billing cycle is in-sync with the original purchase. There is absolutely no way to do otherwise unless you have multiple Nest Aware accounts, and I don't even know how that would work. I'm guessing you have to set up guest access to your own damn cameras on the new accounts? I'm sure Nest thinks they are doing you a huge favor with the pro-rated billing, but it should at least be the customer's choice as to whether this is allowed.
And, oh yeah... about that pro-rated account syncing bullshit...
It's horrendous. The system billed me twice... with wrong amounts... but not really. At least according to Nest. I spent months trying to reconcile the statements I received with what was actually charged to my credit card and simply could not do it. And neither could Nest. They ultimately told me that I would just have to trust them that everything was billed the way it's supposed to be, even though nothing they could produce would back that up. To this day I have no clue if I was billed correctly.
And that's not all.
Not by a long shot.
Because of the absolute nightmare I had when I added my second batch of cameras, I thought I would be smart and add my third batch after my Nest Aware expired. Since Nest is forcing me to pay for everything all at the same time, I might as well make sure that they don't screw things up again by taking matters into my own hands.
Except you cannot tell Nest Aware not to automatically renew.
Thinking I could outsmart the system, I decided to remove my credit card so they couldn't automatically renew.
Except Nest doesn't allow you to remove your credit card information from their system.
Yes. You read that right. Once Nest has your personal information, it belongs to them! Something I verified after spending a crazy amount of time in chat with Nest Support. Apparently the only way to remove your personal information and credit card from the system is to cancel your entire service... even if it's pre-paid in an annual payment!
SUPPORT: Here is how to cancel the Nest Aware subscription:
ME: Again... I know how to cancel the subscription. That is not what I am asking.
ME: I want to cancel THE AUTO RENEWAL.
SUPPORT: I understand. Currently the only way to cancel Auto Renewal is to cancel the subscription for the Nest Camera, itself.
ME: And you cannot remove my credit car so that it won't auto-renew that way?
SUPPORT: I definitely cannot remove your credit card but I am checking on the steps you can use to get that done.
SUPPORT: Thank you for waiting. After you go to the "Nest Aware" part of the app, you will see the type of subscription and be able to change your payment information. Please know that as long as you have an active subscription, at least one credit card will need to be in this account.
ME: Sorry I remain so incredulous as to how Nest chooses to treat their customers, but this is the wackiest thing I have ever encountered for somebody providing me a service. 1) You get double invoices with different numbers for every transaction. 2) Nest is not able to offer any explanation as to how the billings work or even tell you how things were billed. 3) You are forced to have your service plans pro-rated so everything syncs up on a renewal date... even if you can't afford to renew everything at once, which is why you staggered the purchase of your cameras in the first place. 4) You are forced to auto-renew Nest Aware, even if that's not what you want. 5) You have no control over your credit card information and cannot remove such private information from your account. 6) Nobody at Nest finds anything odd about all of the above. I mean... wow... just wow.
This is some seriously sketchy shit.
Nest Aware is like the f#@%ing mafia.
And yet nobody at Nest thinks there's anything strange about the way they conduct business. Nor do they appear to have any interest whatsoever in updating their system so it's not so abusive and stupid. It's for this reason that I hesitate to recommend anybody buy Nest's shit. Yes, they have incredible products, but is dealing with their absurd billing practices worth it? If I weren't already invested in the system, I'd probably say "no." But since I am, I guess I'm stuck here unless somebody comes up with a "jailbreak" for the cameras that allows you to pair them to your own "cloud server" for storage and access.
As I mentioned, I have ten Nest Cams. In order to get the coverage I want, I really need one more. And if the cameras end up going on sale one of these days, I'll probably get it. Despite having to be chained to Nest Aware's high cost... despite the stupid billing system... despite my running out of bandwidth. Because even when all that's taken into consideration, it's still the best security camera system I've found.
For now anyway.
Posted on Saturday, May 20th, 2017
In celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released on iTunes (a film I absolutely recommend you should see)... Apple put a bunch of movies on sale and gave their visuals a LEGO treatment.
I liked them so much that I wanted to be sure and save them to my blog in case I ever wanted to see them again...
A couple of these films could have been vastly pproved if they were LEGO creations... just sayin'.
Posted on Sunday, May 21st, 2017
We're going to need some more coffee, because a very special Twin Peaks edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Twin Peaks! "She's dead, wrapped in plastic."You had to be there. Because no words I can write could ever encapsulate just how jaw-dropping amazing it was to be alive when Twin Peaks was first unloading onto an unsuspecting world...
Nothing like it had ever aired before... and, though many attempts have been made to imitate it, nothing has since. The mystery of who killed Laura Palmer is still lighting a fire in the imaginations of people around the globe even today. Though the second season faltered without the guidance of David Lynch, I still love every episodes and have viewed them numerous times.
• Made in Washington! "That gum you like is going to come back in style." While the fictitious city of "Twin Peaks" is located in Eastern Washington near the Canadian border, many of the real exterior locations were filmed in my home state as well. After I fell in love with the show, I made an effort to visit many of them...
A list of places I've sought out...
Filming for the new series took place in Washington again... it will be interesting to see if they came up with any new locations for me to visit.
• The Secret History of Twin Peaks! "The owls are not what they seem." In anticipation of the new episodes dropping today, Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost released a book tie-in last summer detailing the "secret history" of the town of Twin Peaks...
If you are a hardcore Twin Peaks fan, I don't need to tell you that this book is essential reading. Not only does it provide an expectedly bizarre history of the region (seriously, Frost tosses in Lewis & Clark, Sasquatch, aliens, and everything else you can imagine... along with some things you can't), but the book also fills in a few details of what happened after the original series ended. Much of the information is superfluous to the story... and it's a tough read if you are not familiar with the show... but I enjoyed it as a tasty side-dish to the main course, and am looking forward to the second volume, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier, releasing October 31st.
• Twin Peaks: The Return! "I'll see you in 25 years." When it comes to doing weird shit on film, art house cinema has been doing it since the dawn of cinema. Some of it goes mainstream from time to time but, for the most part, it's a niche product that doesn't go anywhere. What made Twin Peaks so different and revolutionary is that the series managed to blend the weird shit of an art house film with an actual story that everyday people could find entertaining. Sure it digressed from time to time... but, overall, things were always moving. Interesting stuff was always happening on-screen to drive the story forward.
Now, a quarter-century later, Twin Peaks returns...
Something I've been waiting half my life to see.
But here's the problem... David Lynch and Mark Frost have gone full-on arthouse and, if the first four episodes are anything to judge the series by, it's a steaming pile of shit. An absolute disaster that's weird just to be weird. And, unlike the original series, there's precious little else. Absolutely everything is weird shit. And it drags on and on and on. Take the third episode for example. The entire first half of the show is Agent Cooper trying to escape from The Black Lodge where he's been stuck since the end of the final episode. It's all complete nonsense, boring as shit, and does nothing to support what's come before. As for the second half of the episode? Dale Cooper meandering around South Dakota acting weird and doing weird shit. Only in the final five minutes does the story lurch forward again.
If there's a bright spot to be had, it's appearances by the original cast and a continuation of the original story... as scattered and slow as it may be. And I'm beyond thankful that Miguel Ferrer (FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield) and Catherine Coulson (Margaret, The Log Lady) managed to film scenes before their deaths. Unfortunately, it's all for naught, because Twin Peaks and everything that made it so amazing is barely here. And, unless things get radically better in the remaining episodes, I'm sorry they brought it back.
• The Sound of Twin Peaks! Twin Peaks would not be Twin Peaks without the music of Angelo Badalamenti. He created one of the most recognizable theme songs ever to grace television, and his Lauara's Theme added atmosphere to many moments in the show...
Another artist, Julee Cruise, became a household name from her performances on the show. David Lynch is continuing this tradition by ending the episodes with musical performances. My favorite from the new series is The Chromatics, singing a beautiful song called Shadow...
How very Twin Peaks!
And that's a wrap! "When you see me again, it won't be me..."
Posted on Monday, May 22nd, 2017
This has not been a very good day.
Last weekend I thought I had a kidney stone, but the pain subsided and I counted my lucky stars that it was gone. Turns out it was a temporary reprieve. Last night I started having pain again, and it only got worse as the evening went on. By the time I woke up this morning, the pain was stabbing through my back so badly that it was hard to walk.
But I had to go in to work, so I took some pills, put on my tough-guy pants, then headed out the door.
Only to find that most of my irises, pretty as they are, had all collapsed under their own weight...
What a stupid flower. I guess bees still pollenate them when they're on the ground, because otherwise I'm guessing they would be extinct. I suppose if they are still alive when I'm feeling better, I'll have to tie them up like last year. Still, those plants that manage to stay upright are as pretty as ever...
I anticipated that work would be agony, but it actually managed to take my mind off of things... for a while.
By the time noon rolled around I was D-O-N-E.
And so I went back home, took more pills, then had to spend some quality time with Jenny, who was upset with me for leaving her today in the first place. I'm guessing that shedding her winter coat is an itchy process, because she wants to be scratched all the time... and will start crying if you don't comply...
Eventually I managed to disengage so I could go upstairs where I planned to die in bed. It was a good plan... until Jake decided it was his turn for attention. Or maybe he was playing nurse, it's hard to tell...
I streamed a couple episodes of West Wing off Netflix, then decided to listen to some music in the hopes I would fall asleep. But Apple's streaming services were shit, as usual, and I couldn't never get my music to load on my AppleTV...
I don't understand why Apple doesn't spend some of their billions of dollars solving a problem that none of their competitors seem to have. I can stream to AppleTV without problem every time I try from Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Amazon, Hulu, Youtube, and the like... but Apple's streaming rarely manages to work without some kind of issue. If I can get it to work at all. Maybe Apple needs to hire other people to develop their shit since they seem incapable of doing it themselves. When I pay for stuff in the iTunes Store, I expect to be able to have access to it.
Today the heat got up to 86 degrees here, but I never had to turn on the air conditioner... even though I noticed many of my neighbors had. I'm chalking that up to my having installed a ceiling fan in my bedroom, which worked so fantastic for me last year. Such an energy-saver. I wish I had the fixtures in place so I could put them in every room of my house.
And now? Time for more pills and sleep. Fingers crossed. Really hoping that everything works itself out soon, because I can't keep missing work with all the stuff I have to do there.
Much as my cats would probably hope otherwise.
Posted on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
Even through the pain-medication-induced haze I was mired in, sleep last night was fitful.
Around 4:30am the pain medication wore off, so I reluctantly downed another pill in the hopes that I might get a bit more rest before having to go to work. Unfortunately, my body was not having it. Sleep is pretty much impossible when you can't get comfortable, and I was about as uncomfortable as I could be.
And so I turned on Netflix with the plan of distracting myself to sleep as the medication hit. The first thing I see? Hasan Minhaj has a comedy special out called Homecoming King. I love the guy on The Daily Show... really love the guy for his work at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner... and thought it was worth a shot.
It ended up being one of the best things I've seen...
Seriously. If you are a Netflix subscriber, stop reading this and go watch it. If you are not a Netflix subscriber, then start your free trial and watch it. If you have already burned your free trial, then bite the bullet and pay the $8 to watch. Because Homecoming King is everything you could want in a comedy show... funny, smart, painful, charming, hopeful, devastating, educational, sad, witty, and beautiful.
But mostly funny. Which was the vacation I needed right now.
Because the minute I turned off the TV and checked into The World... I saw coverages of the bombing in Manchester and that Roger Moore had died.
I've run out words when it comes to news of yet another terrorist attack. Except to say that I can't fathom the hatred that fuels somebody to bomb a venue that was filled with kids. It's a horrific act that has me wondering if this planet is quickly getting to a point that it's beyond saving. That any of us... even a terrorist... can do something like this... the case for humanity's continuing existence just gets weaker and weaker.
And then there's 007.
They say that the James Bond you like best is the one you grew up with. For me, that was Roger Moore.
Not that I knew anything about James Bond when I was a kid.
But then come 1977, Star Wars was unleashed on my 11-year-old brain. Needless to say I became completely obsessed, and was so hungry for more sci-fi space opera that I was tuning into anything that even hinted Star Wars. Including the James Bond film Moonraker in 1979. Which sealed my fate as a huge James Bod fan as well...
Yes, yes, I know Moonraker is not rated very highly in the Bond canon, but I loved it. I still do. I loved it so much that when VHS rentals were ushered in with the 1980's, my family would rent that giant VHS player so I could see all the Bond movies I had missed. Which, for me were Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The Spy Who Loved Me. I never much cared to see the Sean Connery films because Roger Moore was the Bond I knew.
Then we got more Moore with For Your Eyes Only (still one of my favorites!), Octopussy (not one of my favorites), and finally A View to a Kill (with the incomparable Grace Jones and a made-for-Bond-villain Christopher Walken!). And while I eventually grew to love Sean Connery's films... enjoy Pierce Brosnan's films... and rekindle my love of the ultimate spy when James Bond was reimagined for a modern world with Daniel Craig... Roger Moore will always be the James Bond to me. Say what you will about his take on the character, it was always entertaining.
Not that Roger Moore defined himself by the character he played. He spent decades working with UNICEF and other children charities. He also used his celebrity to fight against animal cruelty, and is credited with getting foie gras removed from British store shelves (a food born out of horrendously inhumane treatment of ducks and geese).
Sir Roger Moore, you will be missed.
Posted on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
When I bought my home, I noted how all the heat in the place is constantly rising to the upstairs. Doesn't matter if it's natural heat in July and August... or furnace heat in December and January... it's all the same. Downstairs cool. Upstairs hot.
And since I put my bedroom and office cat's playroom upstairs, those rooms can get uncomfortably warm. So I took a cue from places like New Orleans and Maui and installed ceiling fans...
They. Are. Wonderful.
And since they are controllable from my home automation system, the fans can be controlled remotely. No need to get out of bed to turn them on/off or change the speed. I can do all that from the iPhone on my nightstand. Or by saying "Alexa, set David's fan to medium."
What I really need to do is get a temperature sensor and have everything programmed to happen automatically! The fan speed could be determined by detected temperature ranges. That way air could be circulating as needed, even when I'm not home.
The best thing about ceiling fans is that I don't have to run the air conditioner as often. Especially at night when I'm in bed and the fan is above me. This saves a crazy amount of electricity... and if I were able to install them in the downstairs living room and guest bedroom, I could probably get away with no air conditioning at all. Alas, the recessed lighting cans I need to install from are in all the wrong places, so... no joy there.
A summer project I've been bouncing around in my head is to install a ceiling fan in the stairwell. That way I could have it running in the winter to keep the heat downstairs where it belongs. Or so I'm guessing. Air flow thermodynamics are not something I pretend to understand.
And now for my metaphorical explanation of kidney stones from 2009...
Let's say that you built a new greenhouse where the plants require special water. Highly filtered water, you might say. So you build a nice system where dual filtration units remove all the impurities, then pass the filtered water off into a bucket. The bucket in turn feeds a massive nozzle which you then use to spray your plants...
The key to comprehending this system is understanding just how massive the nozzle is. It's enormous. Firefighters are in awe of just how big it is. You could hose down an entire football field plus a team of cheerleaders in just five minutes (assuming you didn't want to take your time, of course)... because that's how astoundingly large this nozzle is.
Unfortunately, the tubing you bought to feed the system is way too small. It's also very soft, and easily ripped if anything sharp comes near it. It can also be prone to tearing if you force something too wide through it. And no, I don't know why. Maybe you spent all your money on the massive nozzle and didn't have enough left over to buy decent tubes... whatever... it's not important.
What IS important is that the nozzle is just fine. The nozzle works perfectly and can handle just about anything you throw at it. It's the tubing which is totally inadequate to the task here.
Because, oops! Every once in a while the filters let a particle slip through. This causes all kinds of agony, because those little tubes just aren't built to handle it. Eventually, it will most likely make its way through the system, but it's a painful process. The worst, most horrifying part is in the tubes leaving the filters and depositing into the bucket. These are the tubes least able to cope with the damage. You get something going through here and you become so traumatized that all you want to do is burn down the entire greenhouse.
The tube from the bucket to the massive nozzle is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as painful...
Blargh. Having a particle stuck here feels like you have a little razor blade about to run through your nozzle. It also makes you feel like your bucket is full all the time. So you spend your entire day running to the greenhouse even though your bucket is mostly empty. What time you don't spend at the greenhouse is spent in quiet discomfort, just waiting for the particle to finally exit your filtration system so you can get back to a normal gardening experience.
And I would really, really, like to get back to normal so I can start living my life without having to worry about the spikey rock headed down my massive penis nozzle.
Posted on Thursday, May 25th, 2017
Yesterday morning I woke up early. I was too uncomfortable to sleep, so I took Oxycodone to keep my kidney stone pain at bay... then decided cut my hair. In retrospect, that was a terrible decision, because my hair ended up all jacked up. Despite opiates coursing through my system, it hurt too much for me to attempt to fix it, so I just put on a Red Sox hat and let it go.
Probably would have been smarter to wait until I'm feeling better. But I've gotten pretty good at cutting my hair... and my grandfather was a barber... so experience and genetics were on my side.
Until they weren't.
I joked with friends that I look like the insane "Smoke You" neighbor of Korbin Dallas in The Fifth Element...
This morning I attempted to fix my hair. I was in surprisingly little pain, didn't have to take an Oxycodone, and felt in good enough shape to tackle my head.
I think I made things worse.
Apparently touch-ups are a more complicated matter than cutting your hair correctly the first time...
I haven't decided if I'm going to give it another go this weekend. I'm pretty sure I can fix it if I wet my head first next time. And, hey, I always have the option of buzz-cutting it, or coming up with something totally different, so there's that...
I should probably also look into making better life choices.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do a couple lines of cocaine and work on the electrical wiring in my bathroom.
Posted on Friday, May 26th, 2017
I have a trans friend that I met while working at a job site. She's a kind, caring, hard-working person who just wants to be left to live her life the best she can. Needless to say, it hasn't always been easy for her. She puts up with abuse that would humble the strongest of us, and she endures it most every day... for no other reason than there are people who don't accept who she is and refuse to just let her exist in peace. It's been an incredibly difficult life, but she's managed to get through it all by being true to who she is.
I just found out today that she was assaulted while walking home back in March.
In addition to recovering from having been physically beaten, she has had to work through the psychological trauma that comes from being reminded in a very real way that there are people who want you dead... just because you are different from them. That can't be an easy recovery to make. I hope she can heal. I hope she can find her way back to the person I know. I hope she continues to find strength in herself and those of us who care about her. Because this world needs her. This world is a better place with her in it.
My friend has devoted countless hours to a charity who does nothing but make people's lives better. She has a big heart and she gives what she can of it. And this is how society repays her. What chance is there for humans as a species when this is how we treat the best of us? The most giving of us?
Not much of a chance at all.
I am not quite ready to say "Abandon all hope for humanity"... but whenever something like this happens, I inch closer to believing it.
And when that day comes? We'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.
Posted on Saturday, May 27th, 2017
It's the one part of having cats I could really do without.
Because, let me tell you, Jake and Jenny have really stepped it up a notch when it comes to the amount of cat hair that's blowing through my home. I vacuum and vacuum and dust and dust but there is still loads of the stuff in every possible nook and cranny.
Which is why my most favorite thing ever is now THE FURMINATOR!
It pulls dead hair off a cat like a magnet and, while it doesn't eliminate cat hair in my home completely, it has drastically reduced what I'm having to vacuum up.
At least it was... for Jenny, anyway. She used to love it, but now she's resisting it. I've had to go back to a "regular" cat brush. Not nearly as effective, but it's better than nothing. And she loves it...
You know it's good when she wants her belly brushed.
Every once in a while I will assault her with The Furminator because she so desperately needs it. Hopefully one day soon she'll be back to loving it again.
Maybe if I get her high on catnip before Furminating her? Jake isn't much affected by the stuff, but it makes Jenny go nuts...
If there's good news to be had in the shedding department, my cats spend most of the time out in the catio as of late. They are out there from sun-up to sun-down most days. The sights, sounds, and smells are vastly more entertaining than what they can find inside the house...
By far the most exciting part of their day is when visitors stop by. Sometimes random dogs drop in, which is always exciting. Jenny wants none of it, and come charging in the house. Jake, on the other hand, is unfazed. Jenny doesn't have a problem with other cats though. Even when Fake Jake is being aggressive, she doesn't get to riled up anymore...
And speaking of Fake Jake...
The poor guy just wants some attention. Some days when I get home from work, he's over in the neighbor's driveway just meow... meow... meowing. My heart goes out to him, so I always call him over to get some pets. But no matter how long I spend with him, it's never enough. He always waits at the door wanting more...
This past week Fake Jake came over for some love while I was unloading groceries. After petting him for five minutes or so, I turned around and saw Real Jake glaring at me from the screen door. I was caught red-handed spending time with another cat, and he was pissed.
In proud cat dad news... Jake's diet has been paying off. He's down a pound since I changed to indoor food and started restricting his access to food! He's still a lovable lump of a cat, but somethings never change...
And... that's about it for cat news this week.
Posted on Sunday, May 28th, 2017
It's a glorious day, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Screen! If you love movies and want some brilliant insight into what makes them great, Lessons from the Screenplay is a series you should look into. I've been binge-watching every episode, and am always learning something new. This analysis of suspense in Inglourious Basterds is a favorite...
His latest video on "Examining an Adaptation" has some interesting observations on translating from book to screen and is also worth a look.
• Nukes! Well, my dick hasn't fallen off yet, so I'm guessing they managed to get the collapsed tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Site covered up before the radiation reached me...
Photo from The US Department of Energy
That's the thing about having the most radiation-soaked spot in the USA just 100 miles from your doorstep... mutants could be just minutes away.
• Card Crawl! Games on my iPhone are usually a waste of money for me, so most times I don't bother. But friends were raving about a solitaire-style game called Card Crawl, so I decided to give it a try. Easily the best game I've ever played on my phone. It's dungeon-themed, but you don't have to be a dungeon fan to enjoy it. In a nut-shell, you play shield and sword cards to battle monster cards, recover your health with potion cards, and get special skills with ability cards. The goal is to survive until the deck is depleted while racking up points... either by playing coin cards or selling potion/sword/shield cards...
In addition to unlockables to keep things fresh, the game is never boring because it completely changes based on what abilities you've unlocked and which ones end up in the deck (which can be random or constructed by you). Card Crawl is big fun for an occasional quick game... but it can also be a great way to pass hours on a flight or while avoiding cleaning house. You can learn more (or get a link to purchase) by visiting this website.
• Twin Peaks! Well grab me by the pussy and move on me like a bitch...
• Everyday Heroes. From the always-eloquent Dan Rather...
Dear President Trump,
Their names were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best. One was a recent college graduate. The other was an army veteran and father of four. I wish we would hear you say these names, or even just tweet them. They were brave Americans who died at the hands of someone who, when all the facts are collected, we may have every right to call a terrorist.
This story may not neatly fit into a narrative you pushed on the campaign trail and that has followed you into the White House. They were not killed by an undocumented immigrant or a "radical Islamic terrorist." They were killed in an act of civic love, facing down a man allegedly spewing hate speech directed at two young Muslim women. That man seems to have a public record of "extremist ideology" - a term issued by the Portland Police Bureau.
This "extremism" may be of a different type than gets most of your attention, or even the attention in the press. But that doesn't make it any less serious, or deadly. And this kind of "extremism" is on the rise, especially in the wake of your political ascendency. Most people who study these sorts of things do not think that is a coincidence. I do blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large.
Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. It's even a "sanctuary city.." But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next.
I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice.
And now... back to our regularly-scheduled programming.
Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2017
In case you need a refresher: 10 Things to Remember About Memorial Day
Posted on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017
After an early two-and-a-half-hour drive over the mountains for work this morning, I came to the conclusion that the horrific condition of public transportation in this country (particularly on the West Coast) is something Americans should be terribly embarrassed over.
I mean, seriously. our options here are so bad they might as well not even exist. Which explains why our roads are so badly crowded... everybody is in their car, despite the high cost, because public transportation can't get them where they want to go. At least not easily.
Take for example my situation this morning.
If our train system was anything like what you'll find in European or Asian countries, I'd walk to a local train that would take me to the neighboring city of Wenatchee where I'd board a regional train to Seattle. I'd then find a local train that ran out of Downtown over to West Seattle. Done.
But, in reality, I can't catch a local train. The tracks run right thought town, but there are no local trains, thus no local stops. So I have to drive to Wenatchee and hop a train there. Except the ONE train that runs from the station each day boards at 5:35am and doesn't arrive Seattle until 10:25. That's nearly 5 hours for something I can drive in half the time. Even worse, there is no train from downtown to West Seattle. I'd have to find a bus, assuming one even exists.
And so I end up driving, because that's the only real option available to me.
There have, of course, been multiple attempts at adding high-speed rail systems to Washington State. Usually they focus on the Western corridor from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA to Portland, OR. But sometimes they study plans for a route that runs Spokane to Wenatchee to Seattle too. Whether or not these trains ever happen is anybody's guess. But it's just too good of an idea to pass up, so hopefully one day.
Spokane to Seattle in under two hours? Wenatchee to Seattle in under an hour?
Where do I sign up?
Posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2017
And so President Cheeto Jesus has said The United States will be exiting the Paris Accord on climate change. It's all bullshit, of course. His reasonings are either outright wrong or put into a context that has them defying reality. Which leaves us three possibilities as to what's going on...
I'd start in on a rage-induced rant right now, but here's a more sensible approach from Adam Conover...
We have to reverse coarse on fucking up the planet while doing so can still make a difference. Taking giant steps backwards and giving away our leadership position when it comes to fighting for a healthier planet is about as dumb as it gets. Par for the course when it comes to our current president, but the country itself must be smarter than that.
The future of life on earth depends on it.
Posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Back when I went vegetarian on Earth Day in 1988... some 29 years ago... it was not a terribly difficult decision. The girl I was dating was a vegetarian. I didn't like much meat anyway (outside of burgers, bacon, and pepperoni pizza), and there were some great "fake meats" hitting the market that I was able to substitute with little effort.
But there are times...
Back when we had a Burger King in town, I'd drive by the place while smelling the flame-cooked burgers filling the air, and give serious consideration to abandoning vegetarianism. Or I'd go to a breakfast buffet and see a big ol' plate of bacon and be transfixed... and be trying to resist shoving my face into the plate. Pepperoni was the worst. Pepperoni pizza. REAL pepperoni crisps up on the edges and forms little cups filled with meat oil that makes them about the most delicious thing you'll ever put in your mouth. And, unlike veggie burgers and veggie bacon that's "okay"... there is no acceptable pepperoni substitute that tastes anywhere close to the original.
If I ever fall off the vegetarian bandwagon, I can pretty much guarantee it will be over a pepperoni pizza.
What it won't be over is jerky.
Because there are some very good jerky substitutes out there, and I decided to take a look at some of the most highly-rated...
Photos taken from FakeMeats.com
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky: Original
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch. It's got a fantastic texture that retains a bit of the toughness that "real" jerky has, but won't rip your teeth out. The shreds are compressed into square-isa pieces, which also makes them easy to eat. Unlike so many fake jerky products, the flavor is subtle. They aren't trying to blast through your tastebuds to conceal the fact that you're not eating meat. This is a mild jerky that counts on subtle notes of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for flavor instead of piling on the heat to obliterate it. If it weren't for the 480mg sodium per ounce, you could eat it all day! (though high sodium is typical for these products).
TASTE: ★★★★★ • TEXTURE: ★★★★★
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Maple Bacon
Despite my not tasting much maple or bacon flavor in the maple bacon variety, this is a very good brand of jerky. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I'd like, but nothing horrible. I do get a slight soy flavor lingering on my palette, but not offensively so... it's certainly better that than an over-flavored jerky! The texture is pleasing... not too tough, not too soft. Pieces are randomly shaped into strips that are meant to resemble actual jerky, so if you're transitioning, this might be a good brand to start. Sodium is a typical 480mg per ounce.
TASTE: ★★★★☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★★☆
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Smoked Black Pepper
Despite being the same brand as above, the texture is softer/spongier for some reason, and I'm not getting as great a "jerky experience." It's like the jerky is soggy or something. The smoke and black pepper elements are there, as promised, but most of what I'm tasting here is salt. It's only 20mg more than the Maple Bacon (500mg vs. 480mg) but after eating it for a while, that's all I can taste. Would be a better jerky if they could toughen up the texture (like Maple Bacon) and take out salt while adding a touch more black pepper.
TASTE: ★★★☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
May Wah Vegan Beef Jerky
This Chinese jerky has an interesting texture that's more "shredded" than other brands. I like it... but it also gets stuck in my teeth. The flavor is... odd... not really barbecue or smoke, though I get a hint of something similar. It's got a definite mustard element floating in there... and it's going in more of a sweet than spicy direction. Overall I don't dislike it... it's definitely different and tasty... it just isn't hitting my "jerky button" the way I'd like.
TASTE: ★★☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Mild
Stonewall's was my first vegetarian jerky. I had never tasted anything like it, and was buying it by the case at my local health food store. Then... after a year or so... something changed with the flavors. The "Original Mild" ended up with a horribly bitter flavor that left a nasty soy aftertaste. And while the texture is weird and spongy, I always ignored it because I liked the flavor so much. Now, after a decade of avoiding the stuff, I decided to try it again. Same thing. Same spongy texture. Same bitter flavor and soy aftertaste.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Wild
Same as above, except they pile on peppers and spices to add some heat. The heat does quash the bitter notes a bit, but I really don't like the end result.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Stonewall's Jerquee: Peppy Pepperoni
Back in the day, I thought the "pepperoni" flavor was pretty good. But now it's added to the same bitterness that has taken over the rest of the Stonewall's line and, even worse, has been made scorching spicy hot. So hot that any "pepperoni" notes are obliterated. If I wanted this flavor, I'd just drink a smokey hot sauce directly from the bottle.
TASTE: ☆☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆
Primal Strips: Texas BBQ
This stuff is tough, like real jerky, but they inexplicably soak it in sauce, so it ends up being more like a tough strip of meat in marinade than actual jerky. Your teeth will slide over the wet before you can get a bite, and even then you may not be able to bite all the way through on the first chomp. The flavor is not bad at all... it's definitely a sweet barbecue variety flavor... but once you get past the sugary-sweetness it's a little bland, having very little smoke elements.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ☆☆☆☆☆
That's it for this round. As I discover more great vegetarian jerky options, I'll update the list.
And if you're looking to purchase any of these products, you can get them all via one-stop-shopping from the good people at FakeMeats.com!
Posted on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
No matter how many tools I buy, there's always something more.
My latest purchase? A plate joiner... better known as a "biscuit cutter." This very cool tool cuts notches in the side of a wood board so they can be joined together with a small piece of oval-shaped wood (a "biscuit"). The biscuit swells when glue soaks into it, which makes the joints quite strong...
A biscuit cutter became necessary for a number of reasons. First is that I can't fit large pieces of wood in my car. Second is that my sliding miter saw can only handle lumber 8" deep, and when I need a precise angle I don't want to use hand-saw. Aligning small pieces of wood so they can be joined into a large piece of wood is tricky business without a plate joiner, so I bit the bullet and spent the $100.
It works fantastic...
That's three pieces of 8-foot wood that's been biscuit-joined into a single piece, then filled and sanded smooth. The biscuit joint is not really meant to be for strength... it's more for alignment... but the board is about as solid as it gets. Nice!
The only problem is that every time I use my biscuit cutter, this song goes through my head...
All thanks to my Facebook friend, John, who just couldn't let me enjoy my biscuit cutter without Ivy Levan!
Posted on Sunday, June 4th, 2017
The world may be on the brink of disaster, but have no fear, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hey You Guys! LEGO Dimenions finally got around to releasing expansion packs for LEGO City Undercover and The Goonies. Both are excellent. Especially The Goonies, which is faithful to the source material in all the best ways. A lot of love went into this game...
Which makes me even sadder that the rumor is LEGO Dimensions is being discontinued after the Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans GO!, and Beetlejuice packs are released this Fall. Such a shame. It just keeps getting better and better with each new release.
• Free Climb! Every year on Christmas Day I check to make sure that free-climber Alex Honnold is still alive. Things like this are why: Climber Completes the Most Dangerous Rope-Free Ascent Ever...
Photo by Jimmy Chin and National Geographic
Photo by Jimmy Chin and National Geographic
For the money, I maintain that Alex is the world's greatest living athlete. I cannot comprehend how he does what he does.
• If You Were Here! The Thompson Twins are one of my all-time favorite bands. If You Were Here is one of my favorite songs by the band. If you had told me that I'd like a cover of this track, I'd say you were crazy. But then Kitty Hawk released one years ago that is actually really good...
It will never take the place of the original, but it's nice to hear a different take on the song.
• Hasan! If you haven't already taken my advice and seen Hasan Minhaj's comedy special: Homecoming King on Netflix, you need to do that right now. And, when you've seen it and start suffering from withdrawals, you'll be happy to know that he is still over at The Daily Show... stealing entire episodes with a two-minute appearance...
If you have a minute, you should watch this segment...
Assuming you can. Comedy Central's video streaming goes down so often that I'm surprised they even bother...
Seriously. Minimum 50% of the time, Comedy Central is dead now-a-days.
• Sick. Of. This. Shit! This week in the news, Fucking Dumbass Bigot Says Gays Are Like Hitler, Trans Kids Are All the Devil...
Photo from YouTube / The New Civil Rights Movement
Uh huh. Hitler. Yeah. Got it. The Nazis killed up to 20 million people. That totally equates to gay and trans people just wanting to have the same rights as everybody else and, well... existing... and such. — What a repugnant piece of shit. What a complete douche of a human being. What a fucking asshole. But one day she'll be dead and nobody will care... NOBODY WILL FUCKING CARE... so there's that.
And, lest we forget that bigotry doesn't end there, also in the news this week: Anti-Muslim Protests Planned in 23 Cities Across the Country. — As recent headlines will attest, we are in more danger from white Christian terrorists than anything coming out of our Muslim communities. But, sure, let's protest brown people because it fits the narrative being rammed down our throats from the highest levels of government. What a bunch of hypocritical fucking "religious freedom" loving dumbasses. Apparently you have the "freedom" to be whatever religion you want... so long as it's Christian.
And... back to the day's disasters...
Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2017
And so it's time once again to tune into the Apple World Wide Developer Conference keynote to find out what everybody's favorite fruit-based tech company has up their sleeves for second quarter 2017.
I have to admit, I no longer get ramped up for these Apple things like I used to. In the past, I would take a frickin' vacation day when the WWDC keynote was unspooling just so I could unpack all the Apple goodness that had been unleashed. I'd pour over every minute and blog epic breakdowns of everything that was announced.
Well, I'm still excited over Apple's stuff... they're an exciting company. But the way they keep screwing up has me less enthused than I once was. I bought into their HomeKit home automation tech, only to find out that it is a total load of crap. They keep making "pro" equipment that isn't for "pros." The reliability of their products is in the toilet, and the way they address their lack in quality is bullshit. Meanwhile Microsoft is killing it with their Surface line, easily picking up the pro design market that Apple is abandoning.
But I digress.
Rather than have to watch hours of keynote like I did, here's a 19 minute recap that tells you everything you need to know (assuming you haven't seen it already)...
And here are my reactions...
All in all... some nice upgrades in the OS and software departments, but more of the same bullshit for pro design users. A market Apple used to own, but is throwing away with gleeful abandon. Leaving me to wonder if my next computer will be running Windows. My license for Adobe's Creative Cloud Suite works for Mac or Windows, and they function the same on both systems. Food for thought.
Posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2017
I've been a fan of Wonder Woman since I was 11 years old and Lynda Carter appeared on my television wearing those satin tights. By the time her final season aired, my 13-year old self was head over heels in love. Lynda Carter was Wonder Woman. At least she was the closest thing to Wonder Woman mere mortals could get.
After the cancelation of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, my interest in the Amazonian princess waned. I was a huge DC Comics nerd, but never bought many Wonder Woman comics unless a guest star I liked was showing up. Most of my exposure to her came from her appearances in Justice League of America, where she was almost always overshadowed.
And then... genius artist and storyteller George Pérez rebooted Wonder Woman in 1987...
The series is a master-work, delving deep into the Greek mythology of the character. No longer a "female Superman," Diana had a clear purpose and direction that distinguished her from other super-heroes in the DC stable. Having married my love of Greek mythology with my love of comic books, I became a massive Wonder Woman fan.
Fast-forward to today, and we have a new iteration of Wonder Woman to capture our imaginations. This time, finally... at long last, on the silver screen...
I'm going to put my spoiler-laden review in an extended entry, because the last thing I want to do is ruin such an amazing film for those who haven't seen it. Suffice to say that it is one of the best DC Comics adaptation we've yet seen. Only The Dark Knight can touch it. And nobody could be more thrilled than I am to say that. After the horrendously shitty string of DC movies we've endured... Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, and (Lord help us) the pile of shit known as Batman vs. Superman... I was beginning to lose hope.
But Wonder Woman changes everything. Faithful to the source material. Beautifully designed with mind-blowing special effects. Flawlessly cast. Terrific story. Awesome directing. Great music. It's the total package, and everything you want in a super-hero film. It's so good that you'd almost think it was a Marvel movie!
So... definitely go see it before reading any further...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017
Work has been killing me as of late, which means I don't have time for anything but working. Part of it is my fault... I volunteered for a project I really shouldn't have with all I've got going on... but blame doesn't much matter when deadlines are looming.
And so. Work. Nothing else.
Well... nothing except trying to get my year-end vacation arranged.
Last night I built the flight itinerary that gets me to Buenos Aires. It was such a long process with so many pro/con decisions to weigh that I ultimately left it so I could take a look with fresh eyes this morning. When I woke up, I was more confused than ever, so I decided to leave it until lunch. At noon I waded through it all again but still couldn't decide what I wanted to do. The plan was to take another look tonight after dinner, but the thought of looking at it again was filling me with dread. So while I was waiting for my computer to run a backup up this afternoon, I logged in, booked the flight as it was, and will just trust it will all work out. If not, I guess I'm stuck in South America for a while...
8,600 miles of flying. Which is not quite as bad as the 10,600 miles it took to get to Johannesburg on my last big vacation.
But, still... quite a lot of flying.
Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2017
"It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."
—Peter Gibbons, Office Space
There comes a point where you see just how bad the world has become and you have to decide if you're going to be one of those people who frets over every new horror... or if you're just going to say "fuck it" and not give a shit anymore.
I'm firmly in the latter camp.
It's not that I'm happy about no longer caring... I wish I did care... but it's just no longer practical. Every day it's something new and worse, so I'm going to spend my remaining years on this planet in a blissful state of detachment...
And you know what? I feel better already.
Posted on Saturday, June 10th, 2017
I've been doing some construction in my bedroom, which has been a source of much anguish for my cats. They don't like the smell of the paint. They don't like the dust. They don't like the noise of my power tools. They really don't like the noise of the vacuum cleaner running all the time. I try to keep the door closed so that Jake and Jenny don't walk in paint or get hurt on something, and that's the thing they seem to hate most. They are used to going where they please and telling them they can't is tantamount to tragedy for them.
The thing they do like is that the bedroom windows are open for ventilation. Never mind that they have an entire catio open to the outside world... they like experiencing the outdoors from up high...
It worries me that they might find a way to punch through the screen and escape, so I've been closing the bedroom door every day when I leave. But last week I realized I forgot, and had to rush home to make sure they hadn't escaped. Which they hadn't. Thankfully.
Speaking of the outdoors...
Fake Jake still comes running for petting whenever he sees me. One day this past week he got a little bit more... aggressively affectionate... when I was giving him a rubdown and split my thumb open...
I was taking photos of him, so I actually caught the moment when it happened...
He was undeterred by my pain and didn't let up on wanting more petting...
Such a sweetheart to people... well, he tries to be a sweetheart when he doesn't have you running for antibiotic cream. Not such a sweetheart to other cats though.
Real Jake is as sweet as ever, often laying down with me when I'm in bed watching television or reading...
He's not so sweet when he's busting the heck out of the last two crackers in the package...
But at least he eats what he kills...
Jenny has been really skittish as of late. Unless I walk towards her slowly and talk to her, she'll run off and hide. She hasn't acted like this since she was a kitten, so I'm not sure what's going on. Like Jake, she spends most of her time hanging out in the catio. Though with her it's a little more literal...
Along with being far more skittish, she no longer allows me to pick her up. And any touching has to be on her terms now. Fortunately, she wants a lot of attention, so I'm not deprived...
Such a pretty girl.
And, with that, I'm off to make more noise, dust, and stink in my bedroom.
Posted on Sunday, June 11th, 2017
Time to bask in the rosy glow of the blogosphere, because an all new edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Batman! It's difficult for me to think about Sunday bullets when my head is trying to wrap itself around the passing of original Batman Adam West. It's even tougher to try and explain how his television show influenced my childhood. Yes, the show was cheesy as all get-out, but my love of comic books and super-heroes all goes back to Batman, which I faithfully watched in reruns every day after school...
But the thing that cemented me as an Adam West fan is how the actor totally owned his character, and leveraged everybody's love of who he was to get an entirely new career as an animation voice actor. While probably best known for the Mayor of Quahog in The Family Guy, he voiced dozens of roles...
There have been a lot of famous people rushing to express their condolences, but the one we've been waiting for is from Adam West's Robin, Burt Ward. And with that... godspeed, Adam West. You will be missed.
• Black Panther! And... we're finally getting a real look at the long-awaited Black Panther movie. Like everything Marvel touches, it's looking incredible...
And, to think, we've got the new Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok movies coming soon! So great.
• LEGO CATS! What happens when two of your favorite things get smooshed into one? There is a company making LEGO Cats!
AWESOME! Thanks to long-time friend and food blogger extraordinaire, Foodiddy, for the link!
• Nail Me! Of the many tools I've invested in, my pneumatic brad nailer is one of my favorites. Being able to BAP! BAP! BAP! nails into place is a time-saving bit of wonderful I can't get enough of. There's a price you pay, however, and that's having to lug around an air compressor. For this reason, I've been dreaming of buying a nailer that is cordless and tankless... like the Milwaukee 18-Volt 15-Gauge Angled Finish Nailer...
Problem is... it's like $400, which is a lot of money.
But then Home Depot sends me an email saying it's on sale at 40% off... just $240! And that comes with a new M18 Fuel battery! Sweet! I mean, I don't have $240, so it will have to sit on my credit card with my biscuit cutter, but it's still pretty great. If you're in the market for such a thing, the sale runs through June 21st!
• NEWSFLASH: A Studio Ghibli Theme Park Is CONFIRMED for 2020. — And... guess where I'll be going in 2021? There is no way to properly express my enthusiasm for even the idea of such a magical place.
• Humanity! I think it's awful we have to make commercials to explain lessons in Humanity 101 but, if we must, this is what it should look like...
This wonderful spot on foster homes for kids is not something new for Norway, they are also responsible for this amazing commercial...
And yet I live in a country that would rather build a useless border wall that will ultimately cause more harm than good (while doing fuck-all nothing to solve drugs or illegal immigration problems) instead of put any money towards those who need it most. That's how fucked up things are now, and how far we've fallen from the basic humanity that used to define us. Shameful.
• NEWSFLASH! Jeff Sessions says he’s ‘surprised’ Americans aren’t embracing his anti-marijuana stance. I'm betting a LOT of things surprise this dumbass moron. Like electricity. And indoor toilets. And being able to bring a woman to orgasm...
Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
I am sick and fucking tired of wealthy old white men making decisions based on their idiotic, antiquated notions. Legalization of cannabis is a growing trend because THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY WANT IT, and I find it ironic that Sessions comes from a party who's all about state's rights... except when it comes to something he doesn't like. What a fucking hypocritical douche.
And... no more bullets. There's a new episode of American Gods to be watching!
Posted on Monday, June 12th, 2017
Ask anybody who knows me... I am most definitely not into clothes.
But I do want to wear nice clothes, so I save my money all year long and purchase everything on Black Friday. This is essentially doubling my buying power, even though any summer clothes I get will be "last year's models" by the time I end up wearing them. Oh well, because: affordable clothes. Which I hate shopping for. And the only thing I hate more than shopping for clothes? Finding a way to organize them in my closet.
When I moved into my new home one of the first things I looked at was the closets. Since the place was built in 1997, I was hoping it was "modern" enough to have smart closet spaces. But it didn't. Same old rod with a shelf on it that I had in my last place. This means all my shirts will end up scattered around while my suits hang in the corner and all my jeans get stacked on the shelf. Again.
Such a waste of space.
So I looked into some of those "closet organizer" websites where you can custom design exactly what you need. For me, this is rather simple...
This ends up looking something like this...
There are several problems here...
And so, I added "Closet Organizer" to my list of woodworking projects. Then, a couple weeks ago I sketched out what I needed, headed to Home Depot for lumber, then worked on the thing whenever I had a spare moment. It turned out amazingly awesome in every way...
Well, it's kinda half the cost of the shitty online alternative. I ended up buying a biscuit cutter to join boards together, which added a $100 expense to the project that I wasn't anticipating. Even so... I still saved around $125 AND I've got a biscuit cutter than I'm sure to use on many future projects!
Oh... I think the cats like it too...
So... all in all a fantastic investment of my time. And I had fun building it to boot... almost no swearing!
On to the next project, whatever that will be.
Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
So there I was, merrily hacking away on my latest project at work when I feel something tickling my hand. I look down and there's an ant crawling on it. "Well hello there, little fellow? Did you get lost?" Then, as I am getting up to take him outside, I notice ants E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. Crawling on the floor. Crawling up my desk. Crawling on my Doritos...
"HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIT! ANNNNNNNNTS!!! I scream.
I then shake off the ant on my hand, run and get the vacuum cleaner, then unleash armageddon upon the ants.
You see, when it's one ant, it's cute. When it's a swarm of ants... not so cute. That's when my Buddhist leanings towards all life being precious and doing no harm get chucked right out the fucking window. DIIIIIIIE! DIE YOU SCUM!!!
After looking around to see if Ant-Man was hiding in a corner somewhere, I went and whined about it to a co-worker. I was upset that there were ants. I was upset I had to Hoover them. I was really upset I had to Hoover my Doritos.
"Ah. They were after the Doritos then."
"What? Why? Ants love sugar. I eat Doritos because they have zero sugar."
"SOME ants like sugar. Other ants love grease."
"Yeah, grease. Fats. Like in your Doritos."
I Google that shit and, sure enough. some ants love fats.
I did not know that.
What I DO know? I've got moles. At least that's what the internet tells me after I shared my security camera footage...
The mole dug along my sidewalk, then popped up in front of my flower bed.
I have lived in this region of Redneckistan most of my life. I've never seen a mole. The only place I've seen a mole hill is not anywhere around here. I've also seen them in cartoons. Figures that the time I finally have a mole experience is when I buy a home and they are tearing up my front yard.
I did Google that shit to find out what I'm dealing with, only to find that moles are kinda cute...
They're also smaller than I thought. Like... tiny. Fit-in-your-hand-tiny. Amazing how they can cause such a ruckus when they're so small.
Anyway... turns out that moles, unlike ants, are aggressively solitary. Which means I probably only have one mole.
The last thing I want to do is kill him so, thanks to the internet, it's been suggested I try ultrasonic spikes to drive him away. I ordered them immediately and they will be here Thursday. And Thursday can't get here fast enough. The little bastard is really going to town. I came home to this...
I may not have a yard left by Thursday!
I always wondered where "Whack-A-Mole" came from.
Posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
Today hasn't been the greatest of days. Too much to do and not enough time to do it... despite working day and night. Might as well take a blogging break.
Even though what I should really be doing is cleaning my disaster of a house. Jenny has decided she's an interior decorator, and keeps moving things around. This morning she moved her scratching pad, her brush loop, all the couch pillows, and a box I was using as a garbage bin. As if that weren't enough, it seems that one of the cats got wet paws and then tracked mud(?) though half the downstairs, so that needs to be mopped up as well.
But not tonight.
If you read yesterday's entry, you know that I have a mole in my front yard. I've named him Monty. And now I want him to go away, because he's been busy... there were three additional holes that popped up this morning. Those ultrasonic stakes I ordered cannot get here quick enough, but tomorrow will have to do.
I did have a mole-related scare this afternoon.
I received an alert on my phone from the security system, and rightly assumed it was the yard care team mowing the lawn.
WAIT... mowing the lawn?!?
I don't know that I've ever worried over something that I want gone before, but here we are.
I kept checking the cameras to see if I'd get a glimpse of him digging up my lawn again, but it never happened. When I got home I went looking for any sign of Monty... and there it was. A fresh mole hill in my flowerbed. Assumably, my rodent is still around.
Which is good? I guess?
Hopefully I will feel different as I am planting my ultrasonic mole deflector shields tomorrow.
Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2017
Thanks to ceiling fans and evening ventilation, I have yet to turn on the air conditioner this year despite having some 90°+ days.
Needless to say, I'm ecstatic. Next to heating, running the air conditioner is the most expensive use of electricity I have. It can easily approach $100 per month if I'm not careful. Like last year when, apparently, I really liked being cool on hot days. This year I can't afford not to be careful, hence my ecstatic nature.
Next week this time I will be in Las Vegas for some meetings and to visit friends. The temperature there has consistently been over 100° with the forecast calling for a high of 116°... that's ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN DEGREES.
Fortunately I am not paying for that air conditioning.
In other news, I finally got my hands on the Wonder Woman: The Art and The Making of the Film book...
I love these kind of movie books... especially for the Marvel super-hero films and the Disney/Pixar films. I usually end up buying all of them, as the "how" is sometimes even more interesting than the movies themselves. This one is no exception. The production values on Wonder Woman were incredible, and seeing all the thought behind some of the decisions made just adds to the experience.
Of particular interest is the design for Themiscyra, home of the Amazons. If you've seen the film, you can just imagine.
And if you've seen the film and like it as much as I do, then checking out this book is a must.
Posted on Friday, June 16th, 2017
Today I just want off this sick, sad world.
Probably tomorrow as well.
Posted on Saturday, June 17th, 2017
Life with cats is never boring. Well, actually it's mostly boring. Cats sleep... like... an insane amount of time. But the bits where they are awake is interesting. Mostly because my cats do not exhibit consistent behavior. Just when you think you have a handle on them, they mix it up, and start doing something entirely different.
Jenny, for example, did not "meow" the first 8 months I had her. Unlike Jake, who seems physically unable to "meow," apparently it was because she just didn't feel like it. Then... it started. Just weak little meows from time to time when she wanted attention. That transitioned into this kind of forlorner meow (that was bordering on a wail) when she wanted attention, which breaks your heart. And now? When Jenny really wants your attention, the meows are unleashed. They still sound a bit "sad," but they are numerous and loud.
At first I went running whenever she exhibited this behavior, because I was worried something was seriously wrong. More than once I've gone tearing down the stairs worried that she's sick or trapped under a rogue meteorite that crashed through the ceiling. Nope. She just wanted to be petted, and didn't feel like climbing up the stairs for it.
Most mornings now she will patiently wait for me outside the shower. Apparently she loves rubbing against you when you're damp. Once the water turns off, the clock is ticking. If I take too long drying off, she will start meowing for me to hurry up.
That pussy ain't gonna pet itself, so it would seem.
As I've mentioned many times, Jenny brings me a morning "tribute" in exchange for me getting out of bed and serving her breakfast. She'll waltz in with a toy (or several) and drop them on the floor by my bed anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before she's due to be fed. Here, for example, she's just dropped off Tan Mouse and is looking up at me in expectation of food...
Some mornings she will haul a tribute toy all the way upstairs, but discard it before she gets to my bedroom in favor of a different toy...
There are times this results in a kind of interesting art installation on my stairs...
Her favorite toys, these crinkle-fish that have catnip in them, are rarely offered as tribute. She prefers to keep them with her so Jake can't take them, especially when she's ready for a nap. She'll hunt one or two of them down, then crawl into bed. Like she did here with Blue Fish...
You can't tell in this photo (because I was too slow) but she's hugging Green Fish in her little paws...
Also new? Jenny has started moving furniture in the mornings while waiting for breakfast to be served. She starts by dragging all the couch pillows onto the floor then moving them around. Then she goes after anything she can physically move. Like the box I've been using for garbage while cleaning out my filing cabinet. Or the brush loop. Or her little scratcher lounge...
If I hadn't heard it going on and seen it on security camera footage, I would never have believed it. She will drag/push that thing across the entire house. And it's almost as big as she is! I have no idea why she's decided to become an interior decorator, but here we are.
As for Jake?
Still being Jake. Though a little bit grumpier because I've had him on a veterinarian-dictated diet. And since he's a fairly active cat, he's been losing weight quite nicely. His pronounced belly is almost gone...
Jake and Jenny's favorite place remains the catio. Now that it's warmer, they are out there all day long. Jenny will even stay out all night, because that's the best time for catching and eating bugs, apparently. Earlier this week they were both out there while I was working on the couch. All of a sudden they come dashing in the house, then take up residence on the loveseat so they can observe the catio from afar. Turns out the giant dopey black lab was back for a visit, which they do not like at all...
Though Jenny tried to make the best of a bad situation, as always...
More excitement was to be had this week because they are repairing the stucco on the condos. This included the stucco in the catio, which meant I had to finally use the pet door blocker to keep them from running out...
Jake was most definitely not okay with having his catio privileges revoked, because the catio is his favorite place to be. He decided to compensate for his disappointment by being a BAD, BAD KITTY and crawling on the kitchen counters, regardless of how many times I told him to GET OFF OF THERE...
Time for the Clorox Wipes. Again.
Why can't he stay out of the kitchen like his sister?
Oh well. Jake wouldn't be Jake if he wasn't thumbing his paw at authority.
Posted on Sunday, June 18th, 2017
Happiest of Father's Days to all the dads out there, including mine! Your special day is about to get a whole lot specialer, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Buck/Mac! It's tough to say whether I'm a bigger fan of "Classroom Instruments" on Fallon or "Carpool Karaoke" on Corden because I love them both. But when Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie are the ones performing on "Classroom Instruments," it's kinda a no-brainer. My Fleetwood Mac love is strong with them...
Also on Jimmy this week... a terrific installment of "Google Translate Songs" with Miley Cyrus!
I sure wish they'd make a new Hannah Montana movie!
• Batman! And now from the "Senseless Crap I want Because I Just Can't Help Myself" department... BOB ROSS FUNKO POP!
I mean, come on. Bob Ross is an inspiration to all of us! How cool is this?
• Magic Wand! ZOMG! TOTAL MAGIC FOR CLEANING TOILETS!
When my toilet brush died, I went shopping and found this thing on sale. I didn't like the idea of it being wasteful with the disposable scrubber pads, but it's not like I scrub my toilet every single day, so I pulled the trigger. If nothing else, it's a lot more sanitary. Holy crap! So easy! And powerful! I use one pad on both toilets and it works better than any amount of scrubbing with my old brush. If you haven't tried this, and like bathroom cleaning chores to be dead-simple, it's worth a look!
• A.I.! In news that should surprise absolutely nobody, an Artificial Intelligence developed its own non-human language after being programmed by Facebook to negotiate like people. Because of course bots observing Facebook would have to develop their own language! I mean, come on, mere human words can't describe the horrors you'll find on Facebook. I wonder how they say "ALL HUMANS MUST DIE!" in their language? Because I know that this would be my first conclusion after having looked at Facebook for my entire existence.
• Bargain! Whoa! The new 15-Gauge Milwaukee cordless nail gun I just got for 40% off at Home Depot (Reg. $400, Sale $240) came with $155 worth of stuff! Which means I got an awesome nail gun for $85! How is this even possible? Sweet!
So glad I didn't pass up this deal, even though I couldn't afford it and am now sitting in some credit card debt. If you would also like to go into debt, the sale is going on through the 21st of this month (that's Wednesday).
• Bye, Aisha! Ending on a sad note, Aisha Tyler is leaving The Talk after this season. Needless to say, I'm gutted. Usually with talk shows I look at who the guest is and only watch if it's somebody I like. Not so with The Talk. I watch every episode. It's the first thing to spool off my DVR when I get home. I love the show and, while all the ladies are wonderful, it was Aisha Tyler that got me to start watching...
I am excited for the many opportunities she has, but sad to see that she will no longer be waiting for me when I get off work. I have nothing but the very best wishes for all her future endeavors. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And there's bullets for you.
Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2017
And so I'm dead now.
When I went upstairs to watch Netflix in bed at 9pm last night, Jenny was still out in the catio. When I finally decided to go to sleep at around 11pm, I checked the cameras and saw she was still out there. This is not unusual, as she loves chasing bugs in the catio at night. Jake, I assumed, was off asleep somewhere.
When I woke up at 2am, I checked the cameras and saw that Jenny was still out in the catio. No Jake. I activated all the internal cameras. Still no Jake. I assumed that he was still off sleeping somewhere. So I started scrubbing backwards through the internal cameras so I could figure out where.
Jake was nowhere to be found. The last time he showed up was 7:15pm, when he was climbing down the cat tree.
Holy crap! Did I lock him in the laundry room?
I can't find him anywhere.
No big deal, I grab the cat treats and shake the bag. Jenny comes running in from the catio immediately.
This is unprecedented. For Jake to not show up for kitty snacks is inconceivable. He loves those things. Loves them. The only reason he wouldn't show up is because he's trapped somewhere. Or dead.
And thus begins 20 minutes of total panic as I proceed to tear my house apart.
Still no Jake. He's vanished.
Either he has wedged himself somewhere I haven't thought of or... he got outside somehow?
Total panic becomes a complete meltdown as I start checking outside cameras. And there he is. Wandering around the back yard. At least he was at 1:28am, which was almost an hour previous...
What. The. Hell?
At first I thought it might be Fake Jake, but the more I watch the video, the more I'm convinced it really is Jake, and he managed to escape. Some way. Some how.
I am trying to think if I have ever been at the panic level I was at that moment.
I honestly don't think I have.
And so there I am, out in the catio with the door wide open, shaking a bag of treats. He shows up minutes later...
But... how? How did he get out? He was around when I got home from work, I'm sure of it. Did he escape when I took out the garbage? Did I leave a window open somewhere and he pushed out the screen? Is there a hole in the fencing on the catio?
Back to the cameras. And... turns out he pushed off the roof of the catio (video at 8x speed)...
A couple things to note:
From what I can tell, Jake was never too far away from the catio. He appears on the back porch several times throughout the night (video at 8x speed)...
Though he did circle the entire building once. He appears in the front yard at 11:45pm... goes out of frame at the bottom near midnight... then reappears at the top of the frame exactly 30 minutes later. Heaven only knows what he did along the way (video at 8x speed)...
More than once he tries to find a way back into the catio, and most times his sister is on the other side watching him...
So there you have it... Jake's big adventure.
And my nervous breakdown. Because all I can think about is how this could have happened tomorrow when I'm traveling and Jake would have been stuck outside.
Needless to say, I won't be getting any sleep tonight. If ever.
Maybe if I would stop checking the video cameras every 15 minutes to make sure the cats are still inside and safe...
Cats. What can you do?
UPDATE: Turns out my framing contractor (who also made the roof for the catio) used screws that were way too short. They were barely grabbing into the wood. So when Jake was walking back and forth pushing on the ceiling, the screws were popping out like rivets...
I'm replacing them all with screws that are 2-1/2" times longer.
And... Jake and Jenny can enjoy their catio once again.
And... I can have the peace of mind that the cats can't get out.
Until the next time.
Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
And so I'm off to Las Vegas again. This time for work.
The drive over the mountains was blissfully uneventful. Many times, I was the only person on the road. Which is kind of a weird feeling. Like every other human on earth had vanished or something.
My flight was delayed three times, which is getting to be the new normal. The exact same thing happened with my last flight to Denver. This wouldn't be so bad... I mean, I've had it a lot worse than an hour... except the delay happened at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is one of the shittiest airports on earth. Not only is everything broken all the time, but they prioritize shopping kiosks and storefronts over passengers needing a place to sit down. Thus most every gate has grossly deficient seating, leaving everybody standing or sitting on the floor. It would be great if the Port of Seattle would one day remodel the airport so it's not total shit and at least attempts to provide for customer comfort... but, alas...
This trip I'm staying on The Strip. This means there's a lot more options for dining I like, but I've seen all the hotels many times over so I am quickly coming to prefer staying in Old Town. Oh well. I get to add another hotel to my checklist of "Strip Hotels I've Stayed At," which is now at half...
The twelve left to go...
I've stayed at off-strip hotels in Vegas as well... most notably The Hard Rock Hotel and the Hilton, which is no longer a Hilton and has since changed its name to "Westgate."
INTERESTING ASIDE: Google Maps has secretly(?) preserved the memory of the Hilton as it used to be. When you use StreetView within the Hilton Circle, the images are as they used to be...
The old Hilton sign (which was at one point the largest freestanding sign on earth... maybe still is!).
Images ©Google Maps
You can still see the Hilton logo-mark in the upper left on the actual hotel there.
Images ©Google Maps
And yet, if you take one step out of the circle, you get an updated view of both sign and hotel...
The revised sign, now Westgate. Still home of Benihana's though!
Images ©Google Maps
The revised branding on the hotel itself has also been updated.
Images ©Google Maps
Time for cheap eats!
My last trip, I was eating daily at Nacho Daddy off Fremont. I was happy to see that there's another Nacho Daddy on The Strip around the corner from Planet Hollywood. Thus, dinner has been secured...
Well, I did my best to try and go with cheap eats. Unfortunately I had four Long Island ice teas, which ended up being $36 added to my $8.50 in nachos. Dooming myself to be poor, I guess.
After Jake's escape from the catio Sunday night, I'm understandably freaked out that my cats will find another way to escape my house... this time while I'm over 800 miles away and can do nothing. So I have been checking in on them at least once an hour. Jake has grown frustrated with the catio since his escape route was blocked and is sleeping inside. Jenny, on the other hand, is out there catching bugs and eating them. So... business as usual, then...
And that's Vegas for you. Now I should probably get some work done or something.
Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
Since I didn't have work until 10:00 this morning, I decided to sleep in. At least that was the plan. Ultimately I decided to study my work notes and make sure I was 100% comfortable with the material. Sure it's kind of a lame use of time when in Vegas, but there's not much else for me to do. In order to save money for my vacation, I've vowed not to gamble, not to see any shows, and definitely not to eat at expensive restaurants (which is my Vegas Kryptonite).
My colleagues wanted to eat in Paris, so there goes my vow not to eat at expensive restaurants...
I gotta say... as somebody who has been to France-Paris many times, American-Paris is clearly the superior Paris. Not once in France-Paris did I see scantily-clad ladies walking around offering free cocktails. Not once! Also... American-Paris is air conditioned. BONUS: No people speaking weird French as you are wont to find in France-Paris and lesser parts of Canada. Except... the signage is still all in French, so most of it is just incomprehensible gibberish to me...
After lunch I was walking back to my hotel and spotted BETTY WHITE SLOTS as I was walking through the casino!
Holy cats! I'm guessing I'll eventually be breaking my vow not to gamble. How can I resist not giving Betty White a spin? We shall see.
I had time to kill before dinner, so I wandered over to M&M's World so I could try the new CARAMEL M&M's that have been advertised. And, oh, there's that M&M's race car I keep seeing...
The Caramel versions are okay. From the advertising, I had thought the caramel would be more liquid, but it's actually firm and chewy...
Across the street in New York New York is Hershey's World. Not as much fun as the M&M's, but still kinda cool. Especially for Reese's and Twizzlers fans!
And, of course, there's Chocolate Liberty...
I was pleasantly surprised to see that they completed The Park adjacent to New York New York. It's pretty nice!
And... other than some hotel hopping for dinner, that's all she wrote on Vegas today.
Posted on Thursday, June 22nd, 2017
Today ended up being a longer work day than expected, which means I didn't have time for the nap I wanted needed. Oh well. Vegas, and all that.
One of the reasons that swapping assignments from July to June worked so well is that Perry, my partner for Hard Rock Run Europe 2004, was in town! I hadn't seen him since 2009's Davedon Event, so it was nice to catch up. We met up with some Hard Rock Cafe pin collectors at Gordon Biersch which was featuring imported German Kölsche, one of my favorite beers...
After saying goodbye to Perry and his lovely girlfriend, I wandered on The Strip a bit until it was time to head to Old Town Vegas for a ride down the zipline at Slotzilla!
Yes. Yes. I just did this back in March.
But not really.
And let me tell you why.
When I finally made it to the top of Slotzilla for my zipline experience three months ago, I was told I had to take my glasses off unless I bought a strap. Which took me completely by surprise, because nobody had mentioned it to me when I bought my ticket. There I was. Handing over my credit card. While wearing glasses. And nobody said shit about getting a strap.
So I ended up flying down Fremont Street at 35 miles an hour with everything being blurry. Pretty. But blurry.
I loved it, so I swore the next time I was in Vegas I would do it again. But this time I would bring my contact lenses with me so everything would be in focus. And so I did. And it was great.
Though... it's debatable whether it was better than my first time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it wasn't. It was so much more surreal and beautiful when it was a blur!
Oh well. It's an amazing experience no matter how you see it...
Highly recommended if you find yourself in Las Vegas.
After my midnight flight, I headed back to my hotel on The Strip so I could get some sleep before leaving in the morning. When I left for dinner, something big appeared to be going on at T-Mobile Arena, but it was vacant by the time I got back...
And... that's all she wrote. See ya 'round, Vegas...
Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Despite not having to get up early (my flight wasn't until 11:55am), I couldn't seem to get back asleep after waking up at 4:00am.
Oh well. It gave me time to iron so I didn't have to fly home wrinkled.
In regards to my Leaving Las Vegas... I love McCarran airport. Unlike the majority of US airports, it's very efficient and has been optimized to move people in and out as quickly as possible. TSA PreCheck line backed up? THEY OPEN ANOTHER PRECHECK LANE! WHAT A CONCEPT! And... ZOFG... plenty of gate seating! For all other airports I arrive 2 hours early because even with PreCheck you never know. With McCarran I am perfectly comfortable arriving 45 minutes before flight time knowing I'll be at the gate 15 minutes later and, not uncommonly, walking into the plane ten minutes after. I wouldn't hate travel so much if this was the normal at airports.
The flight home was great.
The drive home, however, was brutal.
True to form, WSDOT can’t concentrate their efforts into QUICKLY completing a single project... they have to sprinkle resources on several projects, which means they all drag on forever. On I-90 East, they have ripped out huge chunks of the highway and just left the holes there, meaning three lanes of traffic become one on a busy Friday where half of Seattle is headed over the mountains.
Which translated into 45 minutes added to my drive time home.
I'm guessing it's going to be left that way all weekend long. And I just don't get it. Light it up, double-shift that shit, and GET. IT. DONE!
How the hell is it that I am constantly seeing videos from other countries where they will replace an entire fucking bridge in two days... or replace an entire fucking intersection overnight that fell into a sinkhole... or rebuild a fucking washed out road in ten hours... WHEN EVERY DAMN PROJECT IN WASHINGTON STATE TAKES MONTHS TO YEARS TO COMPLETE?!?
It wouldn’t be so bad if they would focus on one project and GET. IT. DONE! But they don’t. New projects keep popping up all over the place while old projects sit incomplete. You don't stop for construction ONCE on your journey... you stop FOUR TIMES. I'm guessing I-90 is probably going to be fucked up for weeks... and apparently nobody at WSDOT gives a flying fuck that it’s summer vacation season and NOW is when the roads need to be fully operational. Why would they? It would seem there are -zero- consequences to having everything torn to shit all the time.
And speaking of never-ending construction...
When I pull into my driveway, I notice that my new ultrasonic mole repeller isn't doing the job.
On the contrary, the mole seems to be taunting me by DIGGING NEW HOLES RIGHT AROUND THE ULTRASONIC STAKE!
Ugh. No idea what my next step will be there.
And... apparently there was a power outage while I was gone.
The horrible part about it is not that all the clocks have to be set... but that the Litter Robot DOES NOT COME BACK ON WHEN THE POWER IS RESTORED. How fucking useless! I mean, seriously. WHY? They sell a battery back-up, but I always assumed that it was so your Litter Robot would run while the power was out. I don't care about that... but I care quite a LOT that it just stays off permanently if there's a power interruption.
And so... the Litter Robot was filled. The two back-up litter boxes were also filled. So nasty. And I feel terrible. Especially for Jenny. She is pretty particular about wanting to poop in a clean box. She will hold it and hold it until she can't anymore, and is forced to use it. I can't believe that she didn't poop on the floor. I would have. And so now I have to buy a $40 battery just to make sure Litter Robot works after an outage. This is on top of the already outrageous price for the unit and the accessories I had to buy that should already have come with it.
I ordered the battery so this won't happen again... but, wow. Still feel terrible. I should have been checking the security cameras to make sure it was running.
And with that... time to catch up on all I missed. Good thing I have a weekend coming up...
Posted on Saturday, June 24th, 2017
It's good to be back home.
On Thursday morning... the day before I was to fly back... I was awakened by my security cameras telling me there's motion in the kitchen. I get all ready to yell at Jake to get out of there, but when I look at the footage, and...
...it's not Jake, it's Jenny...
She has been a good girl and hasn't been in the kitchen for ages, so this is puzzling. It looks like she's trying to find food maybe?
So I go back through other camera footage only to find she didn't eat dinner last night. She was out in the catio when the feeder activated. By the time she got hungry and made it to the feeders at 1am, Jake had (of course) already eaten all the food. I activated the feeders immediately so she could have an early breakfast, but I still felt awful...
And I've been getting a stare-down from her ever since I got back.
And now... a mystery to solve.
Before I leave on a trip, I always buy new toys for the cats. Probably out of guilt. For this trip I bought a ball that makes noises... except it's too loud and the cats are scared of it. I also bought a ball with a little moving pole that has a feather on top. The cats are intrigued by it, but pretty much just let it slap them around in the face...
And now that I'm home? The ball is missing.
Not under the couches. Not in the catio. Not in any closet. It's vanished. No idea where they dragged it off to, and I can't find out what happened on the security cameras. I'm guessing that the cats know where the cameras are and how to avoid them.
One more thing to do...
Posted on Saturday, June 24th, 2017
Hope you're enjoying those lazy, hazy days of Summer, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Munneh! But, yes. By all means. Let’s invest our money in coal. Soon-to-be-obsolete coal that nobody is going to want when there are going to be far cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient ways to get our energy...
I mean, we could bring this technology to former coal towns and train the workers there for jobs that will actually matter. But, no. Because coal. Uh huh...
The sheer idiocy involved in killing off the American worker by our politicians is just astounding. We're not going to be competitive in the global job market, and we did it to ourselves by electing assholes who are more interested in fleecing taxpayers for the benefit of coal executives than creating jobs for ex coal miners.
• Kens! And so This happened: Mattel released 15 new variations of Ken Dolls... aka Mr. Barbie...
And no, your eyes are not deceiving you... there are Ken dolls with a man-bun now. I can't fathom the parent that would buy their daughter (or son, for that matter) a doll with a fucking man-bun on it, but since society is hell-bound anyway, here you go. As if that weren't enough, the Kens are available in three body types: Original, Slim, and Broad. Because heaven only knows we don't want to cause body identity issues in our children. Their dolls have hipster man-buns now, and that's enough fucking trauma for childhood.
• MMMMMMEAT! Clearly God wants everybody to be vegetarian, and this is His solution... OH, LOVELY: THE TICK THAT GIVES PEOPLE MEAT ALLERGIES IS SPREADING. From the tick's perspective, I'm guessing that people taste like chicken.
• White! "Being white in this country, I should just shoot myself." — Somebody please hand her a gun. Because this racist fucking waste of space shouldn't be raising kids... let alone be allowed to join society...
No matter how many times I see bigoted shit like this, I remain amazed. Not that assholes such as her exist... but that they feel so confident in their racist bullshit to act this way in public.
• Hope That Helps! Ben Palmer released video from one of his shows and it is everything you'd hope it to be...
Watching him troll on Facebooks is one of the reasons I am happy that Facebook exists.
• HomeShit! You know, I understand that companies can't release a winner every time. There are going to be some duds, even for the most inovative of them. I get that. Honestly I do. But Apple's HomeKit is such a festering pile of shit that I cannot fathom why in the hell they don't scrap it and start over or fix their stupid crap so it will actually function reliably. Thank heavens the only thing I was stupid enough to trust to Apple's failed system is my door locks. I wanted them on a completely separate system from the rest of my home automation for security reasons and, hey, it's Apple... right? What could go wrong?
I never dreamed the answer to that question would be everything. Apple should just do everybody a favor and kill off HomeKit instead of continuing to pretend that they give a flying fuck about home automation.
Dis be da end, everybuddy.
Posted on Monday, June 26th, 2017
My cats are a never-ending source of entertainment. They are also not of this earth and defy all my attempts to understand them. That, in itself, should keep them at a distance, but the truth is that they have become intricately woven into my life in unexpectedly deep ways. Part of that has to do with the fact that I'm single and all my best friends and family don't live here, so the cats are acting as surrogates. Part of it has to do with the fact that, for the most part, I like animals more than people.
And part of it is because they're the closest things to kids I plan on having.
Which is why all y'all's horror stories about your kids has zero effect on me.
Sure, your baby may have exploded diarrhea at a McDonalds birthday party... but last night I had to chase Jake around with a paper towel because he had a pebble of poop stuck on his sphincter. His efforts to scrape/bite/rub it off only resulted in an inflamed butt-hole, so there I was. And then this morning I had to inspect his sphincter to make sure the irritation and redness had subsided, which it had. And thank heavens for that, because otherwise we would have ended up at the vet, and nobody wants that.
And sure your baby may cry because it wants to be held... but this morning Jenny was crying as I was trying to leave for work because she wants to be petted. And, unlike holding a baby where you can do other stuff, petting Jenny demands 100% of your attention. And since she knows I will drop everything when she's meowing, she will keep doing so until I give in. The good news is that she was so desperate for attention that I was able to spend 10 minutes brushing her with The Furminator.
And sure you spend your days and nights worrying about how you're going to afford to send your baby to college one day... but I'm spending my days and nights worrying about whisker fatigue.
And for those of you who don't know what "whisker fatigue" is... allow me to introduce Dr. Catsby...
Now, most probably like you... when I first heard of "whisker fatigue," I called bullshit. Cats have been eating out of tiny bowls for hundreds of years. This is just some lame marketing ploy, right?
But then I started observing my cats.
I've tried plates, but the food gets pushed all over the place. I've tried shallow bowls, but the food still gets trapped in the corners. =sigh!= I guess you win, Dr. Catsby...
Expensive little suckers.
But if they work? One less thing to worry about!
Though I do hope that Jake can keep a clean sphincter for at least a month before I'm worrying about that again. If I wanted this kind of stress I would have had kids
Posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
Comixology (an online comic book distributor) has been adding older issues of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to their offerings. When I logged on last night, they happened to be displaying the first book of the series I ever read, issue no. 253 (courtesy of a Whitman Comics poly-bag-three-pack* I found in the local Safeway)...
Looking back, this was a pretty stupid cover. A bunch of costumed people come breaking through the wall of your clubhouse and you think they're there to join? Pretty sure I'd knock on the front door if I wanted to join up. But, this was par for the course back in the day. They always took the thrust of the story and found a way to repackage it in some ridiculous context to sell the book.
It was at this point... with this very issue... that I went from being a casual comic book reader to an obsessive comic book reader. I bought up every issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes I could find, and then started hunting for all the back-issues, all the way back to issue no. 197, which was when Superboy was re-titled Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. No easy feat. And it wasn't cheap either. Especially for somebody who mowed lawns to earn pocket money.
I don't know what it was about the Legion that made it so appealing to me. Perhaps because it was a super-hero book (which I already liked) with the added element of science fiction (something I also like). Superboy would time-travel to the future so he could have adventures with the team in the 30th century. An intriguing concept to be sure.
And then there were the sheer variety of super-heroes in the book. You name it, Legion probably had it at one time or another. The cast of characters is vast...
From the time I started reading the book in 1980, many many changes would occur. The most notorious were the numerous ret-cons** that took place in the early 90's. Since Superboy was phased out of continuity at the time, suddenly the entire foundation of the Legion (which was inspired by Superboy) was no longer available. This left the writers scrambling for stories to keep the book's very existence relevant in the DC Comics Universe. And boy did they dream up some doozies. It was a confusing time, but the stories were still interesting, so I kept reading.
Eventually the huge mess that The Legion of Super-Heroes had become was too unmanageable even for writers with the best imaginations, so the entirety of their universe was completely rebooted in 1994.
The book was never the same.
But still I hung in there.
Ten years later in 2004, the book was completely rebooted again. It was okay, but not the Legion I wanted to read.
But still I hung in there.
Various mini-series and guest appearances would come and go after the last reboot died at issue 50. It was a depressing time for Legion fans because nothing made sense. Appearances would contradict each other and there was no overriding narrative to keep the team going.
But still I hung in there.
Then DC Comics' New 52 "reboot to end all reboots" happened and the Legion was brought back with two new books, neither of which were that great. I think they were canceled inside of two years.
But still I hung in there.
Then DC rebooted everything yet again with their "Rebirth" initiative. The Legion hasn't gotten a new book in the new continuity yet, but I'm sure it's coming. It always does.
And even though it's bound to disappoint compared to the glorious 80's that defined the series for me, I'll undoubtedly hang in there and buy the books.
It's hard not to be a fan for life when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
* Whitman was an imprint of Gold Key Comics. They would commission special print runs of DC Comics with their logo on the cover, bag three books together, then sell them in huge quantities all over the country in all kinds of stores... including the local Safeway grocery store where I got mine.
** The term "ret-con" means "retroactive continuity" and is when story elements established in past stories is changed, contradicted, or ignored in order to make past events have continuity with current storylines. Wikipedia has a fascinating article on the practice.
Posted on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
Today was the day I was supposed to be flying to Orlando.
But I ended up canceling back in May because my calendar was obscenely full here at home. And it turns out that I didn't know the half of it. This week has been so packed that I have been looking into cloning technology.
I need a Dave 2.2 ...
Though... to be honest, cloning me is probably not the best idea. The world can only sustain so much evil, and this would push us over the top.
Way over the top.
Posted on Thursday, June 29th, 2017
I am not much for nostalgia or wishing I could return to bygone days, but I do love me some history. Studying world history is a byproduct of my world religions studies, and it always surprises me just how much I don't know about what's gone on in the world.
Take, for instance, James Whitcomb Riley.
I ran across a book by the guy this morning... The Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, Volume VII. "Volume SEVEN?" I thought. How is it that a prolific author with seven volumes of works like this could be somebody I never heard of?
I kept digging and ultimately found out there were SIXTEEN TOTAL VOLUMES...
I opened one up, was terribly unimpressed with what I scanned, and decided I would not need to be reading any of his works. But I did note his name on my iPhone so that I could look him up when I got home.
Which is now.
Turns out, I do know of him. I just didn't know I knew.
Ever heard of The Duck Test? — "When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."
TOTALLY THIS GUY!
Ever heard of Little Orphan Annie? It's based on a poem called Little Orphant Annie?
TOTALLY THIS GUY!
According to his Wikipedia page, James Whitcomb Riley was a literary giant back in the 1890's and remained hugely popular until his death in 1916. From Wikipedia:
Although Riley was wealthy from his books, he was able to triple his annual income by touring. He found the lure hard to resist and decided to return to the lecture circuit in 1892. He hired William C. Glass to assist Henry Eitel in managing his affairs. While Eitel handled the finances, Glass worked to organize his lecture tours. Glass worked closely with Riley's publishers to have his tours coincide with the release of new books, and ensured his tours were geographically varied enough to maintain his popularity in all regions of the nation. He was careful not to book busy schedules; Riley only performed four times a week and the tours were short, lasting only three months.
So, essentially, James Whitcomb Riley was a rock star before there were rock stars...
In 1895 Riley made his last tour, making stops in most of the major cities in the United States. Advertised as his final performances, there was incredible demand for tickets and Riley performed before his largest audiences during the tour. He and Sherley continued a show very similar to those that he and Nye had done. Riley often lamented the lack of change in the program, but found when he tried to introduce new material, or left out any of his most popular poems, the crowds would demand encores until he agreed to recite their favorites.
And what, pray-tell, qualifies as one of those favorites? Here ya go...
O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The apples in the orchard, and the pathway through the rye;
The chirrup of the robin, and the whistle of the quail
As he piped across the meadows sweet as any nightingale;
When the bloom was on the clover, and the blue was in the sky,
And my happy heart brimmed over in the days gone by.
In the days gone by, when my naked feet were tripped
By the honey-suckle’s tangles where the water-lilies dipped,
And the ripples of the river lipped the moss along the brink
Where the placid-eyed and lazy-footed cattle came to drink,
And the tilting snipe stood fearless of the truant’s wayward cry
And the splashing of the swimmer, in the days gone by.
O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The music of the laughing lip, the luster of the eye;
The childish faith in fairies, and Aladdin’s magic ring—
The simple, soul-reposing, glad belief in everything,—
When life was like a story, holding neither sob nor sigh,
In the golden olden glory of the days gone by.
Well, he's no Walt Whitman, but okay.
I guess if they didn't have a Nintendo back then, this was as good as it got.
Posted on Friday, June 30th, 2017
My home of state of Washington has a new "Distracted Driving Law" taking effect on July 23rd. Once enacted, it is illegal to use hand-held cell phones, tablets, games or other devices while driving. Or while stopped in traffic. Or even sitting at a stop light. You have to be parked. Or a passenger.
So... if you don't have a Bluetooth interface for your car stereo or a Bluetooth earpiece? No calls for you. I'm assuming if you don't have a car-mount, no GPS maps for you either.
And, seriously, it's about time.
A lot of Washingtonians are enraged about "losing their rights" or bemoaning "the nanny state" or crying because "no politician should be able to tell me what to do"... but, come on. Look at how many accidents are happening because people are texting and driving! Since idiocy apparently needs to be legislated into doing the right thing, this is where we're at.
Yes, I will miss being able to look at texts while at a stop light... because apparently I am one of those rare people who can do that without missing the light turning green... but this is so needed. I cannot tell you how many times I've been nearly hit by somebody with their face in their phone instead of on the road. Or seen somebody driving like a moron because they're distracted by their mobile. People are dying from distracted driving, and I definitely don't want to become a statistic because somebody else was stupid.
Hopefully the idea of being fined will be enough of a deterrent to make the law effective.
Otherwise the only people obeying the law are probably the people who weren't driving while distracted in the first place.
Posted on Saturday, July 1st, 2017
Well, hey there... it's Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation!
Many congratulations to our lovely neighbor to the north...
And thank you for not taking a cue from your confused neighbors to the south and building a wall to keep us out. I don't know what I'd do without an occasional bag of TimBits.
Posted on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017
It's the Sunday before the Monday before the 4th! And there's even more to celebrate, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Wonderful! Over the decades we've had DC Comic Book heroes make their way to the movies with persistent regularity. Batman and Superman have had numerous incarnations in dozens of films... including the recent piles of shit that Zack Snyder has unleashed upon the world with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But what about the other hero in the DC holy trinity? What about Wonder Woman? Where's her movie? She's always been shoved aside, presumably because DC questioned whether anybody would go see her in a feature film. Heck, even Green Lantern finally got a movie back in 2011, and he's not nearly as recognizable as Wonder Woman. Everybody knows who she is.
And then, at long last, our patience was rewarded when Wonder Woman hit the big screen.
And has been completely killing it.
This week Wonder Woman trounced both Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice to become the top-earning film in DC Comics history at the domestic box office...
Stats taken from Box Office Mojo
Internationally, the film has considerable ground to cover before it eclipses Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, but the point has been made.
It's Marvel all over again, proving that good movies with second-string characters that are faithful to the source material will be more critically (and quite possibly financially) successful than crappy movies with top-tier characters that shit all over the source material. There is a reason that these characters endure. To ignore what got them there is to ignore what people want to see.
• Flash! And, speaking of shitting all over the source material in a Zack Snyder DC Comics movie... everything that's wrong with the new costume that The Flash is sporting in the upcoming Justice League film is on full display when you look at what LEGO had to do to translate it into a minifig...
I can't even tell what the hell is going on there. The Flash is the "fastest man alive." As such, his costume has always been painfully sleek and minimal in appearance. But not now. Now they've wrapped him is laughably idiotic armor plating that makes him look anything but sleek. He's the exact opposite of sleek...
I mean, COME ON! He looks like a clunky robot with an inexplicably massive codpiece! Even more clunky and robotic than Cyborg, WHO IS LITERALLY A HALF-ROBOT CHARACTER. Grotesque and more than a little embarrassing for DC, who has had such excellent translations of The Flash in previous endeavors. Particularly in their animation department...
And even their television show...
To "think outside the box" is not a bad thing... sometimes it's critical to making the leap from comics to screen work. But what we have here is a fundamental lack of knowledge about what makes The Flash be "The Flash." Which means the Justice League movie is undoubtedly going to suck ass. What a shame.
• Balls! This past week was the 30th anniversary of Spaceballs, one of my favorite comedies...
Photo from Getty Images
Over the years there have been numerous rumors of a sequel (including this past Spring), but the only thing we've gotten is thirteen episodes of an animated series. My hope is that one of these days it will actually happen.
• Vaccinate! The amount of misinformation out in the world is horrifying. Everybody has an agenda, and you can never be sure what's behind the information you're getting. But the fact that diseases we once eradicated have come back... and come back huge... should give pause when it comes to condemning vaccinations...
Scary. Too scary.
• Hjalmarsson! Though I've found it harder and harder to keep up with hockey, I nevertheless obsessed over my beloved Blackhawks as they battled their way to the playoffs last season. That Nashville took them out immediately did not dampen my enthusiasm for the team. What did dampen my enthusiasm was finding out that one of my favorites players, Niklas Hjalmarsson, had been traded...
Photo from Getty Images
The guy was a big part of what got them to three Stanley Cup wins, so I'm understandably gutted. He would throw himself in front of the puck under circumstances no sane player would, which only made me love him more. He gave everything he had to the team, and this is a serious blow to Blackhawks hockey. Yes, I know that it relieves some salary cap problems, but I can't wrap my head around a team without Hjalmarsson there. Thank you, sir, you will most definitely be missed.
• Freedom! When you use freedom of speech to speak out on the issues that are important to you but criticize others for doing the exact same thing, you're no patriot. You're a douchebag. And speaking of... I don't always agree with Chelsea Handler, but thought this was an important message to share...
Of course, "freedom of speech" doesn't mean "freedom from consequences of free speech," which is an increasingly popular misunderstanding to have... but let's save that for another holiday.
And... I gotta be to work tomorrow, so no more bullets for you!
Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017
Happy Independence Day, America!
Posted on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
I have a headache.
Which is actually a good thing, because it gives me an excuse to blow off work and re-watch Game of Thrones Season 6 in anticipation of Season 7 arriving in a couple weeks.
I love this show. Love it.
Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons... after seriously fucking up somebody's day.
As I watch Season 6 and it just makes me want to start all over again from Season 1. Again. Because I've already done this at least twice. The show is that good. Some episodes... specifically Season 6, Episode 9, are better than most movies that get released.
And so... I'm going to spend the rest of the evening wishing I could go into a medically-induced coma until July 16th.
Posted on Thursday, July 6th, 2017
I found out that my long-time blogging friend Anissa died this morning.
Words completely escape me. There's nothing I can say that could encapsulate just how painful this is. And yet... I'm going to give it a try, because powering through life in the face of tragedy is what she was all about.
Anissa is joy to all those who knew her. No matter what she was going through... no matter what hardship she was facing... no matter how much she was struggling... you would never know it because her grace, humor, wit, and spirit always made you feel as though she hadn't a care in the world. Life, such as it is, was her bitch.
The irony of my last interaction with her on Facebook is not lost on me...
And here's where we go back to the start.
Though I had known her online for years prior, the first time I met Anissa in person was at Davelanta 3 in 2009...
Kevin, Beth, Diana, Kim, Val, Mr. & Mrs. Muskrat, Heather, and Anissa... not pictured is Julie, who ditched our sorry asses so she could go to a much better party with a group of much classier people!
I fell in love with her that night.
Which is not at all unusual, because everybody who met Anissa fell in love with her. She's STD-level infectious like that.
I sat next to her at dinner and remember it like it was yesterday. We were at The Cheesecake Factory, and a lot of our discussion revolved around their Deep-Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls. We had much to discuss on the topic. Mostly because she was nibbling on my balls the whole time.
Not long after that infamous first meeting, Anissa had a stroke and her whole world changed.
Not that you would know it because, despite being confined to a wheelchair, Anissa herself did not change. She was still the same brilliant, beautiful, snarky, and entirely inappropriate person she had always been. Just slowed down a bit.
We finally met up again at another blogger meet in 2011...
Mr. Muskrat, Tyler, Heather, Adam, Anissa, Anissa's Friend(?), Beth, Kevin, and Mrs. Muskrat!
Seeing how Anissa was struggling was not easy.
Seeing how she was overcoming adversity was truly inspiring.
And she continued to inspire everybody she encountered for almost 6 years to the day I last saw her.
My heart is broken. What's left of it goes out to her husband and three children, all of whom were Anissa's everything. That she had a heart big enough to share with the rest of the world too is everything you need to know about her.
Well, that... and the fact that she really couldn't keep her hands off my balls that night. Not that I can blame her... they were delicious. If there were a Cheesecake Factory anywhere near me, that's where I'd be. With a Long Island ice tea and big ol' plate of deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls in her honor.
Rest in peace, my dear friend. You were loved so much by so many, and your having to leave us hasn't changed that.
Posted on Friday, July 7th, 2017
Temperatures finally breached 100° this week, so the air conditioner had to be turned on. Darnit. Odds are it's going to stay on because the forecast is up there for the next ten days. Probably longer.
So much for tiny electricity bills.
Even though I set the temperature between 74° and 76° and use ceiling fans, it's a goodly chunk of money to keep everything in the house from melting.
Including the cats.
Back in 2015 when Apple released the latest and greatest 4th generation Apple TV, I purchased one to replace my aging 2nd generation unit (which I moved to the guest room). Despite the remote being shit, I was happy with the upgrade. At first. Eventually I found out that the unit had horrible problems streaming video from Apple. Other sources... Netflix, HBO, Showtime, YouTube, Hulu, you-name-it, were all working fine on Apple TV, it was just my iTunes Store purchases that were stuttering and crapping out... or not loading at all.
So when I ended up winning a second Apple TV from an incentive give-away, I just tossed it in the closet. My bedroom TV has Netflix built-in, so I figured I'd just wait until somebody came up with a hack to turn the Apple TV into a web server or something. Since it had problems streaming my rather large collection of Apple media, it just wasn't worth messing with.
Until Game of Thrones Season 7 was announced to be arriving.
My bedroom TV doesn't have an HBO app, so I decided to dig out the extra Apple TV so I can watch Thrones in bed as God intended.
But first I had to find the thing, because I had no idea what happened to it during the move. I've been searching off and on for weeks to no avail. And then this morning I finally found it.
My cats have been acting crazy, so I decided to start putting my iPhone charging cable in the tiny empty cupboard above my range hood and microwave where they couldn't get to it... and... voilà...
My "empty" cupboard contained an old phone book, a Hershey chocolate candle, and... my missing Apple TV. In all honesty, I do not remember putting it in there. I don't remember putting any of it there. I can't even think of why I'd have done it.
Probably so I wouldn't lose it?
Jenny helped me set it up...
And... ready for new Game of Thrones on the 16th!
Posted on Saturday, July 8th, 2017
When I went to bed on Thursday night, everything with my cats was fine.
Something happened that night and everything changed. It's as if they suddenly realized that there are no consequences for their actions... no punishment for their bad behavior.
Yesterday morning began with my waking up to Jake pulling my movie posters off the wall...
Iron Man is now crooked. I just left him that way since Jake will just try to pull him down again...
At least Jenny was being a good kitty, right? No. She was climbing around the kitchen where she knows she's not supposed to be...
After serving the kitties breakfast, I went back upstairs to get ready for work and slog through my email. It was then I heard cupboard doors banging...
...IT WAS JAKE WAS STEALING KITTY SNACKS OUT OF THE CAT FOOD CUBBY! And he had just had breakfast!
Then he and Jenny chewed it open to get at the yummies inside...
Clearly my cats have turned a corner and are completely out of control.
Thinking I need to start in on some tough love, I took the advice of Facebook friends and pulled out the squirt bottle. Much to my shock, Jenny was first to get sprayed. She didn't really react. It was like she didn't understand what was happening. Once she figured out she was getting wet, she walked over to the scratcher lounger and started pouting...
Then I felt bad.
Today things were better... though Jake did decide to pull my clean clothes down to the floor. Again.
Tomorrow's a full moon, I'm hoping the cat madness will end once it's gone.
Posted on Sunday, July 9th, 2017
The heat may be blasting like a furnace outside, but there's hope for all humanity because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Moana Three Dee! I used an Amazon gift card I got back on my birthday to buy the Moana Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-Ray set. The animation is so gorgeous that I was interested to see how it looked when rendered out in 3-D...
Turns out that it's pretty great. For the most part. The 3-D kind of falls apart when the action gets really fast, but is otherwise an amazing visual treat. The astounding quality of computer animation now-a-days is just mind-blowing. Marry that to some of the best songs to ever come out of a Disney film and you've got magic. My favorite Disney song ever would be Jermaine Clement playing a giant crab...
And who knew that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had it in him?
Forget Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's best work is with Opetaia Foa'i in Moana...
I prefer the 2-D version to 3-D, but the movie is so amazing that there really isn't any wrong way to watch it. If you haven't seen Moana, you need to get on that.
• Artifacts! I fucking hate Hobby Lobby. Which is to say I wasn't the least bit shocked when it was revealed that they had been caught with illegal ancient artifacts from Iraq. Undoubtedly purchased from terrorist organizations like ISIS, who are well-known to fund their terrorism by doing exactly this kind of thing. But yeah, tell me again how "Plan B" is morally reprehensible to you. Because a cluster of cells in the womb is more vital than fully-formed humans trying to survive relentless terrorist attacks? OH... THAT'S RIGHT... THE FULLY-FORMED HUMANS ARE BROWN PEOPLE HALF-A-WORLD-AWAY WHO PROBABLY HAVE ICKY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! MAKES PERFECT SENSE! Hobby Lobby and their morally superior bullshit is utter garbage.
• Fight or Flight! More United Airlines fuckery. It doesn't matter that they "scanned the second ticket wrong"... the standby passenger is the one who should have left once the mistake had been discovered. And United's shitty solution is absurd. A voucher? That's what they offered me after I got screwed over, and I told them to shove it up their ass because I was never flying their shithole of an airline again. I don't understand why anybody does.
• Jupiter! Nine months waiting for Jupiter's Legacy Volume 2, Issue 5. Nine months. And it was about the most anti-climactic comic book ending they could have possibly given us...
Absolutely no surprises. After all the imagination that went into the nine issues prior, we get a straight-forward story that could have been created by absolutely anybody. And we had to wait NINE MONTHS for it? Nothing even remotely special. I don't know why I get my hopes up for shit anymore.
• Comma! One of my favorite West Wing episodes is titled after a Mark Twain quote: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Except... Aaron Sorkin abandoned the Oxford comma and butchered it to be Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics, which changes the meaning (hey, Lies and Statistics could be the name of a book like Dungeons and Dragons or something). It drives me insane. As does most sentences where an Oxford comma would be helpful to clarify intent but instead goes unused. Every time I spot a missing Oxford comma, I can't help but assume that the writer doesn't know how the English language works. And yet... there is still debate over this crap like there should actually be a question over whether Oxford commas should be used. IT TOTALLY SHOULD! There is no penalty for using one when it's really not necessary. There can be huge penalties for not using one when you should have. Case in point? Click through to this hot mess.
• Holy Shit! I have become numb to the daily dose of horror and idiocy that comes from having President Trump in office, but his latest round of tweets has me convinced that the man running the country is one of the stupidest people on earth...
Can you imagine... can you even fathom in your wildest imagination... what the reaction would have been by Republicans if President Obama had said this? They would have completely lost their minds. Apparently it finally dawned on Clownface VonFuckstick how insane this is, because he later tweeted that he believes it "can't happen," over something he says never happened in the first place? Or did happen? Or didn't? Depending on the day. Or whatever. Ivanka is catching serious heat for being an unelected, unqualified seat-filler at the G-20 conference, but at least she can form a coherent sentence. Why not put her in charge? Because nothing could be worse than what we have now.
And that aughta do it! See you next Sunday!
Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2017
I always feel sorry for animals having to endure the summer heat while wearing a fur coat. It can't be comfortable. Though my cats still like laying out in the catio when the heat is on, so maybe it's not as big a deal as I'm thinking it is.
Jake has his own way with dealing with the heat... catspreading.
I notice when it's hot out in the catio, he'll usually lay on the cool, shaded concrete... then spread out for maximum heat dispersion...
Yes, I desperately need to wash my windows!
Indoors is another story.
The cat tree sits right under the HVAC vent. When the air conditioning turns on, he'll immediately spread out for some cooling relief...
And then when it turns back off, he'll go back to a normal position...
Perfectly logical. Yet still odd.
But whatever floats your boat, little buddy!
Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2017
The plan was simple.
Work until around 1:00am, then hash out a blistering post in support of Net Neutrality Day, then get some much-needed sleep...
Except my internet went down as I was in the middle of work. Everything went to shit. And now I'm not only unable to finish my work, I also can't do much blogging.
So... pretty much a metaphor for the internet without net neutrality, ironically enough.
I am so tired of this bullshit. And yet here we go again...
Posted on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017
Today is Net Neutrality Day. Which you'd think would be redundant since we have it, but apparently that may not be for long.
Pig fucker assholes like Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai are once gain trying kill net neutrality so that big business can control the internet. Never mind that they have to tell lie after lie after lie to sell it to the American people... the money involved is massive, the people involved are all-powerful, and telling lies is not something they really give a fuck about.
I have written about how crucial net neutrality is to a free and open internet many, many times (like here, for example).
And I'm just one voice of many, because the American people have backed net neutrality many, many times.
But it never seems to matter, because the people trying to kill it have an endless supply of money to throw at the pig-fucking assholes who keep assaulting it.
It's at times like this that I sincerely feel we should burn this fucking shithole of a corrupt piece of shit country to the ground and fucking start over. What The United States of America is supposed to be all about is lost when its citizens no longer have a say. People with money are ultimately the only ones allowed to have a voice now. Because they are the only ones with the means of buying off the politicians who make the decisions for all of us...
If Pai and his bought-and-paid-for pig-fucking asshole confederates actually manage to kill net neutrality, I might as well take down Blogography. Because it's only a matter of time before Very Important People decide they don't like me calling them pig-fucking assholes and shut it down for me.
The pig-fucking assholes.
UPDATE: And... Mr. Trae Crowder, everybody...
Holy shit what a cluster-fuck.
Posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2017
Pizza is probably my favorite food.
But not always.
Sometimes... sometimes... it's fried potatoes. When they're served with Dutch mayonnaise. They don't even have to be really great fries (like the amazing kind you get in the Netherlands or the kind I fry myself). So long as they have Dutch mayo, I'm good. So to celebrate National French Fry Day, I grabbed my Dutch mayo and went to the local drive-in for a big bag of lunch...
Tied with Chocolate Pudding Day (June 26th) as one of my favorite holidays!
Hope you got fried today!
Posted on Friday, July 14th, 2017
I don't know who the mad genius was who put National French Fry Day and National Mac & Cheese Day next to each other... but kudos to that. Meal planning has been dead-simple these two days. And delicious.
Dinner was courtesy of "The World's Best Mac & Cheese" by Beecher's...
I don't know that it's "The World's Best"... but, if it's not, it's darn close.
Posted on Saturday, July 15th, 2017
I'd have thought that my cats would have settled into their personalities after a year-and-a-half... that no new big surprises would be on the horizon.
It certainly seemed that way. Until this past week, when big surprises did indeed show up.
When I first got Jake and Jenny, they were terribly frightened and shy...
It took a week before I could lure them out from under the couch to play. It took four weeks before Jake would let me touch him... five weeks before Jenny would allow petting. Weeks after that, the cats were fairly sociable and would climb on me if I lured them with a cat charmer. Months after that, Jake would be all over me... Jenny not so much. Eventually she came around, but there were always conditions. If she was laying near me, I couldn't touch her or she'd get scared and run away. Any time I'd be petting her, she'd nervously pace all around me, never laying down or getting comfortable. She'd hop on the bed and watch TV with me for hours... but at a comfortable distance. Every once in a blue moon she'd sit or lay for a few minutes while I'd scratch her ears, but anything more than that just wasn't going to happen.
Until this past week, when all of a sudden she's hanging out with me every morning like this...
Honestly never thought this would happen.
And then there's Jake.
He'll happily hop next to me on the couch or sit in my lap for an hour at a time. He's been doing this for a long while now. But yesterday it got weird.
I came home early from work around 1:30pm. The minute I walked through the door, Jake was all over me, following my every step... rubbing up against me any time I stopped moving. Then I sat down and he was immediately on me to take a nap...
He then stayed on me... for the next ten hours... while I worked, watched TV, and ate dinner. The only time he'd leave is to eat or go to the bathroom. If I got up for any reason, he'd start crying and cling to me. I was starting to wonder if he was sick...
Around 10:30 I went up to bed. He was right there with me until I fell asleep. When I woke around 3am, he was gone. And this morning things seem to be back to normal.
Well, as normal as things can be when you have cats.
Posted on Sunday, July 16th, 2017
The Mother of Dragons has come home to roost at long last, but the bigger news is that an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Square? Amazon is thrilling their customers with new #BoxFacts on their packaging now. Except they aren't really "facts" when they're wrong...
NOT A SQUARE!! Somebody at Amazon should have remembered the Square Song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, because a square has ALL FOUR SIDES THE SAME SIZE!
Amazing how that song has stuck in my head all these years. Handy too... for exactly these kind of occasions.
• WHO?!? And it's been announced that the next Doctor Who will be Jodie Whittaker...
Who happens to be a woman.
As you can probably imagine... the internet is losing its collective shit. Some of it in a good way... I mean, come on... this has been a long time coming. But a goodly chunk of it in a bad way, refusing to accept a woman as Doctor Who. Because women can't be doctors? Fuck that. Best of luck, Jodie Whittaker, I'm looking forward to seeing you in the role!
• Dental! This is the questionnaire that I was given to fill out at the dentist office this past week...
I had to go up and confirm with the receptionist that I was there for a teeth cleaning, right? And, if that's the case, exactly what position would that be happening from? I mean, yeah, I get it... your dentist probably needs to know some medical facts so they can best treat you... but genital herpes?!?
• TransVisible! As somebody who had a trans friend get the crap beaten out of her this past March for no reason other than being who she is... a friend who has done nothing but be an exemplary tax-paying citizen who dedicates more time towards helping others than most people would ever dream of... I have to say what a load of horse shit it is that anybody should have to be forced to stand up and defend their child's right to be who they are. Thank God that men like this exist who do exactly that. ..
All the misinformation and outright lies being propagated by bigots about trans persons... WHO WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN PEACE... speak volumes as to the ass-backwards society of ignorance we've created. TRANS PEOPLE EXIST NOW AND HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME! GET OVER IT!
• Impossible! I am a huge, huge, massively huge fan of the original Mission: Impossible television series. A big part of that was the cast, which was always firing on all cylinders. My favorite was Barbara Bain as Cinnamon Carter... but her real-life husband, Martin Landau (who played Rollin Hand), was also great. They both went on to be equally great in the bizarre SPACE: 1999.
I was sad to learn that Martin Landau had passed this past week...
I used to watch both shows obsessively, and always held out hope that Landau would one day make a guest appearance on the Tom Cruise infused Mission: Impossible movies. Rest in peace, sir.
• FRESH! And lastly, just because I can, I present the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley. Gardening...
SHE'S FIFTY-TWO YEARS OLD! Obviously she's made some kind of deal with the Devil to stay looking that incredible.
Annnd... that's enough bullshit for one Sunday. Maybe two Sundays.
Posted on Monday, July 17th, 2017
I love good marketing.
The problem is that so few companies manage it.
Apple happens to be a company that excels at good marketing. Like when they converted the banners in the iTunes Store to LEGO in celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released.
And now... the banners across the top of the "Movies" section of the iTunes Store were all movie titles constructed out of emojis! (in celebration of The Emoji Movie perhaps?) I copied all of them because I just couldn't stand the idea of such brilliance being lost. How many can you guess?
Even the "featured titles" were spelled out in emoji...
Posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
I don't think that my cats have fully grapsed the idea that there are security cameras everywhere throughout my house and I can see most everything they do.
So when I come downstairs, walk into the kitchen, and see that the cupboard with all the cat food, cat treats, and cat toys has been ransacked, their attempt to profess their innocence by pretending to be shocked and saddened that such a tragedy has occurred doesn't do them any favors.
Nor does blaming "ghosts," which seems to be their go-to explanation.
Today I attempted to show Jake some camera footage which clearly shows he is guilty of breaking into the cat cupboard. Again. He remained steadfast in his innocence.
I'd say he's got a huge pair of balls on him, but he doesn't have any balls at all.
Even so, I'm too proud of him to be angry about it.
Posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017
Of all the movies coming out this year, the one I am most looking forward to is Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which is a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service. The first film was fantastic because it was one of those rare movies that comes along and feels entirely fresh while being wholly familiar at the same time. Yes, there's a lot of James Bond in there, but it doesn't tread the same waters at all. In many ways, Kingsman out-Bonded Bond by rebooting the British spy thriller to new heights.
I mean, just look at it...
As for the rest of the movies I'm dying to see in 2017? Here are my top ten so far...
I grant you that The Disaster Artist is an odd choice. But the first trailer debuted, and watching Dave Franco channel Tommy Wiseau is absolute cinematic magic...
Compare to the original...
A movie about the making of one of the worst movies of all time that actually looks good? Sign me up.
Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2017
I generally fast-forward through commercials because most of them are total shit and not worth watching. This is easy to do because I watch almost all television from my DVR. The only time I let commercials play is when I'm watching TV live... or if I'm working (or otherwise distracted) and can't be bothered.
There I was, working away with the television playing in the background when...
... a sound plays.
A familiar sound.
The sound of the announcement tone for Disney's Star Tours!
What the heck?
Turns out it's a commercial advertising the Main Street Electrical Parade, where a Disney cast member is walking through a giant warehouse filled with relics of Disneyland past. I must have freeze-framed a dozen times on my DVR trying to figure out what everything I was seeing could be. Reviewing it all was a nostalgia-laden walk down memory lane.
The commercial has been around for months, but this was my first time seeing it.
When I was Googling to see if Disney had posted it to YouTube, I found that there were a couple of videos calling out all the "Easter Eggs." Like these...
Now THIS is a cool commercial that is actually worth your time to watch!
Assuming you're as big a Disney geek as I am, that is.
Posted on Friday, July 21st, 2017
What I need...
What I really, really need...
Is an off-switch.
My brain is so overwhelmed with stuff... a lot of it being inconsequential, mindless stuff... that I can't focus. Especially at night when I need to be sleeping.
Oh well. In six hours I have to head over the mountains in a 2-1/2 hour drive. Maybe that will sort things out with my brain.
Posted on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
It's strange how much I worry about my cats when I'm not at home. Not over things like them tearing up the house or making a mess or anything like that... but worry over them being lonely or bored.
Right now I am checking in on them with the security cameras and they are exactly where I saw them when I left yesterday. Jake is on top of the kitty tree and Jenny is laying on the stereo receiver (I think she likes how it gets a little warm... even on the hottest days). She naps there most of the time now...
Seriously, she does.
I've been documenting it with my iPhone...
Awwwww... this one is my favorite...
She's making a pillow out of my Star Wars Blu-Ray collections!
As for Jake? He's busy being Jake. When he's not eating, pooping, or napping... he's destroying my expensive books by chewing on them... sometimes as I am reading them...
LOOK OUT SPIDER-MAN!!!
And... going to try and be inspired by my cats and get some sleep now.
Which would probably be easier if I were home with them.
Posted on Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
Never fear, super-fans, because a Very Special Comic-Con Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• THOR: RAGNAROK! I liked the first two Thor movies quite a lot. Especially the first one, which did a masterful job of introducing Thor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was grandiose and epic in a way you need a movie with gods to be, and set the tone for Thor in everything that would come after (including a couple Avengers movies). And now, the third Thor film is ready to be unleashed this November:
Super sweet! Kind of an 80's vibe, even in the amazing poster...
Marvel amazes me. Every movie they release is an escalation of what's come before. Sometimes it doesn't work 100% (I'm looking at you, Age of Ultron) but most of the time it seriously does. And Thor: Ragnarok looks to be knocking it out of the park. Can't. Wait.
• THE DEFENDERS! But before we get treated to new Thor, first we get to see the culmination of all four Netflix series... Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron First... with The Defenders. This seems like a great idea, and a logical culmination of all that's come before...
Time (and August 18th) will tell whether or not it's clever enough to be worthy, but getting Sigourney Weaver as your villain was a great start. Cool. All this and The Punisher coming by years' end too.
• THE INHUMANS! Also dropping prior to new Thor? The Inhumans. Originally they were getting their own movie but, after the franchise was turned to shit in ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I guess they felt a movie was aiming too high. Instead we get a compromise. The first episode is being released to IMAX theaters in September, then the show continues on ABC...
Eh. Probably good that they didn't attempt this in a feature film, because Medusa's magical hair was never going to look fantastic. Regardless, nothing I'm seeing here has me too excited. ABC had an amazing opportunity to do something truly different by taking The Inhumans into extreme weirdness, but it looks like Just Another Super-Hero Show on the Small Screen. Not surprising... I can't stand Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it doesn't look like ABC is attempting to break any new ground here like they did with the amazing Agent Carter series. Pity.
• BLACK PANTHER! And here is where I start to lose my shit. I'm a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Black Panther. I was thrilled to see him finally join the MCU with Captain America: Civil War, and am positively giddy at the prospect of seeing him get a film all to himself. The technically advanced world of Wakanda is going to make for a heck of a movie, assuming they get the story right. And, from the looks the first trailer, they are definitely trying...
And that poster...
Since this is Marvel, I'm assuming they've nailed it. Not knowing is kinda killing me. Having to wait until February 16th to find out is really killing me.
• AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR And then there's the culmination of every Marvel Studios movie ever released coming to a theater near you on May 4th. The footage at Comic-Con has not been released yet (if ever), but they did give us a gatefold poster to drool over...
Which conveniently breaks down into three panels for closer inspection of all the awesomeness there is to unpack...
First of all... BLACK WIDOW IS A BLONDE THIS TIME AROUND? Wonder what in the hell that's all about. Second of all... why is Hawkeye getting the short end of the stick again? He's barely in the poster at all, and doesn't even get an action pose with his bow and arrow! Granted, he could arguably be seen as the weak link in The Avengers, but his fantastic ongoing comic book series show that this is not the fault of the character. It's what the writers do with him that makes him a weak link. Holy crap I wish they'd give him a Netflix series where he can finally shine. Next up... Spider-Man in a black suit is interesting. I don't hate it but, after so many movies where they weren't faithful to the comic book, I felt they finally nailed it with Civil War and Homecoming... so, why? And then... so very, very happy that they are apparently pushing the Scarlet Witch & Vision romance forward. That's an element 100% from the comic books, and I think it totally works. Then penultimately... holy crap did they do a frickin' amazing job capturing Thanos! Bad. Ass. And lastly... Cap with a beard! My expectations for Avengers: Infinity War are on overdrive. I'm expecting they'll be exceeded.
• JUSTICE LEAGUE! Blargh. DC Comics and Zack Snyder's idea of what makes a good super-hero movie is so nausea-inducing that I'll tackle that one tomorrow. I'm having too much fun loving on all of Marvel's awesomeness tonight.
And that's it for Comic-Con 2017. Until next year, True Believers...
Posted on Monday, July 24th, 2017
I am so far beyond giving a shit about Zack Snyder's shitty DC Comics super-hero movies that I honestly don't know if I'll even bother seeing Justice League in theaters.
I mean, just look at this bullshit trailer...
It's said that Joss Whedon is doing extensive reshoots for Justice League after Zack Snyder had to remove himself from the film to deal with a family emergency. I don't think punching up the dialogue (Whedon's specialty) is going to help. It's just pouring more money down a hole. What's really sad here... almost to the point of tragedy... is how much better the DC television division is at making good super-hero live action. They should have turned the Justice League movie over to them and built on the terrific, faithful, and far-superior versions of The Flash and Superman they already have on TV.
But instead we got this crapfest.
Maybe one day we'll finally get a DC Cinematic Universe that doesn't suck copious amounts of ass... but, sadly, that day is not today.
Or even tomorrow, apparently.
Posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
When I returned from Las Vegas earlier this month, my home was a disaster, even though I did a quick cleaning before I left. Between the cats shedding like crazy and their tracking in dirt, leaves, and debris from the catio (not to mention kitty litter everywhere) it doesn't take long at all before my home gets pretty filthy.
And, as much as I'd like to vacuum every day between deep cleaning every-other-month, it's tough to work it into my routine. I vacuum once or twice a week and not at all when I'm traveling.
So... I started looking into robot vacuums. Everybody I know who has one, loves them. They're not meant to replace an "actual" vacuum cleaner, but they are totally capable of sucking up superficial filth that tends to accumulate day to day. Especially if you have cats.
From the time I spent researching them, I learned that my home is ideal for a robot vacuum because it is open-concept, has clear pathways with little clutter, and all floors are either hardwood or tile. Great. So which one to buy? I narrowed it down to three...
I don't have $700 to spend on a robot vacuum, as nice as it may be to own one of the top-shelf models. Technically, I don't even have $200. But I sold an old camera body I wasn't using, which meant I had $200 I could spend.
The Eufy RoboVac 11 it is then.
Before the unit arrived I did three things...
And then... it arrived. Set up was a cinch, though finding a place to put the charging base was a challenge. They require an area a bit larger than 7-feet wide by 7-feet deep... and it has to be against a wall! This is a huge area. Instead of having my RoboVac in my living room/dining room area as intended, I ended up putting it in the guest bedroom... and even then it comes up short from the required space. Doesn't seem to be having any ill-effects, but I find it insane that such a massive footprint is required. Does Eufy think all its customers live in mansions?
I need about a foot more space on the left side, but I can move it to the right because then I don't have enough space in front. Another worry? Look at that tasty cord. I'm going to have to tape it up so the cats don't chew on it. I may experiment with moving the unit under the outlet (even though it will only have half the required space in front of it there) or perhaps build a cord protector. Or something.
The Eufy RoboVac 11 is completely dependent on the included remote control for anything other than automatic cleanings. Want to set the internal clock? Point the remote at it while you program it. Want to set a schedule? Point the remote at it while you program it. Want to send it "home?" Point the... well... you get the picture. Is this a deal-breaker? Not for $200. But it does kinda make you long for the network connectivity of the $700 units.
But the real question is... how do Jake and Jenny deal with our new robot friend? The first time it ran, Jenny hid upstairs the entire time while Jake stalked it around the house...
But the second day she was stalking it too...
A bigger problem than the cats are their cat toys...
If you've got cats that like to leave toys scattered about, that could be a problem. They are certain to get moved around by RoboVac. If they are lightweight and have strings or feathers or other dangly bits, they'll be partially sucked into the unit then get hauled around, stuck there.
Actually, the real question when it comes to robot vacuums probably has nothing to do with cats... and everything to do with how well the thing actually works. Keeping in mind that I had done a "deep clean" the day before I got it, I think this photo of its first run through my home is everything you need to know...
Since I had just cleaned, I expected there would be a few bits of dirt and a small amount of cat hair. Nuh-uh. Not even.
The bin was completely full.
Here's day two. FULL AGAIN?!...
And day three. Not as bad, but still...
Holy crap! Where is it finding all this?!? So gross. But wow does it ever work well! I may only have to "real vacuum" every month or so now!When it comes to a cleaning schedule, I set the Eufy RoboVac 11 to do a full auto-clean every morning at 4:30am. The results are... weird...
Like I said, weird. But it seems to be working just fine except for the marathon cleaning sessions. Perhaps eventually it will settle into a more consistent routine?
And now the pros and cons of the Eufy RoboVac 11...
My RoboVac to-do list...
CONCLUSION: Ultimately I'm so very happy I took the plunge. I love my new robot vacuum. I love it so much that I've named him Carl (after the janitor in The Breakfast Club) and he's a part of the family now. My Eufy RoboVac 11 is managing to find dirt and cat hair that I never even see. Yes, I'll still need to vacuum with my upright from time to time... a robot vacuum simply doesn't have the same suction power as an upright... but in helping to keep my home clean from day-to-day (especially while I'm gone). It's a fantastic tool and a big help.
My goal was to eventually replace the Eufy RoboVac 11 with a more expensive model that has all the bells and whistles I was wanting. But if it keeps doing the great job it has been, why would I? Paying $500 over the $200 that Carl cost me probably isn't going to get my home any cleaner. Maybe if I had carpet or complicated rooms it would be a different story... but, for now, I'm definitely sticking with what I got.
UPDATE: When I changed the schedule time, the RoboVac stopped vacuuming on the schedule. I contacted tech support and said I could try turning the power off. Then removing it from the base station. Then turning it on. Then clear the current schedule (hold the schedule button down until it beeps and clears). Then set a new schedule. Worked like a charm! Now Carl won't be interrupting the cats at breakfast.
Posted on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
It's been calculated that the cost for President Trump to go golfing in Mar-A-Lago four times is the same as the medical costs for taking care of our trans soldiers. And yet it's the money that President Trump cites as his reason for banning trans persons from service.
He also says they are a "distraction" which, given the shit-show that's his entire presidency, I find hilarious. Especially since his first tweet on banning trans service worried The Pentagon that he was starting a war with North Korea.
So much for promises...
The non-stop parade of misinformation and outright lies being lobbied at the trans community is horrible. These tax-paying citizens want nothing more than to live their lives in a way that's true to themselves and have the same rights as Americans as everybody else. And yet wealthy old white men desperate to stay in power are clutching their pearls at the thought of people they don't like being on the same playing field as everybody else. They fucking own the playing field. They fucking make the rules. They fucking referee the match. But even that's not enough. They want to determine who gets to play too.
One day... hopefully one day soon... people are going to wake up and realize that it's not "just the lesbians"... it's not "just the gays"... it's not "just the bisexuals"... it's not "just the transexuals"... it's everybody. The people ACTUALLY running this country hate everybody. They don't give a shit about you. All they care about is wealth and power. Everything else comes second. A distant, distant second. And the very minute that they feel you are no longer of use to them, you get pitched out with the rest.
It's only a matter of time.
In the meanwhile, best start speaking up for those getting shit on while you still can. It's the only way there's going to be somebody around to speak up for you when it's your turn.
Happy hump-day, everybody.
Posted on Thursday, July 27th, 2017
As I was deplaning at Boston Logan International Airport after a 5 hour and 20 minute flight from Seattle... I noticed a fly buzzing out the door alongside me. "Huh," I thought, "I wonder if he realizes that he's 2,500 miles from home?" Followed by "I wonder if it even matters?" I'm guessing that flies in Seattle are the same as the ones in Boston, so it probably doesn't matter. It's not like he's going to spend the rest of his days trying to find his missing family and friends. He's just going to go on doing his fly stuff, whatever that is, blissfully unawares that he's been transported in space and time.
Must be nice.
Because I am not definitely not blissfully unaware of having been transported in space in time. I am fully cognizant that my friends, family, and cats are across the country from me. I'm also painfully aware that I spent over five hours trapped on a plane with a bunch of people who reminded me of why I hate people.
I booked an off off-site hotel to save money because I figured it would only be 9pm Pacific Time to me when I landed. Except... after the flight from hell, it is definitely feeling like it's the midnight Eastern Time that it actually is. And I just want to go to behhhhhhhhd.
Posted on Friday, July 28th, 2017
The cost to fly into Portland, Maine during high tourist season is astronomical. Far, far cheaper to fly into Boston and drive north than to pay for the convenience of terminating at PWM.
And so... that's exactly what I did.
Even though the last time I did this, I nearly died.
The route from Boston to Portland is fairly straightforward and takes less than two hours...
Unless you're me.
I had time to kill, so I took the crazy 3-1/2 hour back roads route to see some bits of New Hampshire I hadn't seen before. And avoid tourist traffic. And avoid a bunch of tolls...
All in all... a lot more time on the road than I had patience for, but it was all worth it because Barbara's Maine Blueberry Crisp at Flatbread Co. was waiting for me when I arrived...
Other than my grandmother's apple pie, there is no dessert on earth I would rather have than this right here. Totally worth a five-and-a-half hour flight followed by a 3-1/2 hour drive. If you're ever in Portland during blueberry season, stop in and pray it's on the day's dessert menu.
After a late lunch, I had 45 minutes more in my rental car until I arrived at my job-site.
And now... since work starts at 5:00am tomorrow morning, which means I have to get up at 4:30am... I'll be taking my leave of you this evening. Good night! Blueberry dreams to you!
Posted on Saturday, July 29th, 2017
My new cat sitter doesn't start until tomorrow, so Jake and Jenny are on their own for another day. Not a big deal, as I've been gone a lot longer than this and they've been fine. Thanks to Litter Robot, Feed-and-Go, and my security system, they are in good hands. So there's no need to worry about them. And, hey, if something comes up, I can always call a neighbor to check in. It's all good.
It's tough not to worry when you're 2,500 miles away and you've got all this crazy crap going through your head.
Take, for example, feedings.
In the past I'd fill the automated feeder to max levels so I was assured that the cats wouldn't go hungry while I'm gone. But then Jake had to be put on a diet, so that wasn't a good option any more. Now I put the exact amount each cat gets in the feeder so they aren't over-eating.
But then I started worrying that if Jake scarfs down his dinner... and wants more (which he always does)... will he push Jenny out of the way and steal her food? This is a genuine concern. He's a much bigger cat and, while Jenny doesn't put up with his shit, she's also not in a position to shove him back when she's such a petite little lady.
Last night I got my answer. The feeders activated and Jake and Jenny came running to eat...
As expected, Jake mowed through the bulk of his dinner before Jenny had even taken a couple bites. Would he force his sister out of the way to steal her food? Turns out... no... he wandered away...
That's a relief... but I know for a fact that when he's hungry later on, he won't hesitate to eat whatever food is left, and he doesn't care whose bowl its in.
In other news... Carl got stuck under the media center this morning. I heard three beeps over the security camera, which means he's sucked up something he shouldn't have. Probably a stray wire underneath. Jake was most concerned when his robot pal stopped working...
I asked Jake to pull Carl out and take him to his charging station, but that was apparently asking too much. Instead Jake climbed the cat tower and took a nap.
Which doesn't sound like such a bad idea. I've been up since 4:30am and work is just getting started now at 2:30pm.
I'm going to need a bigger Coke.
Posted on Saturday, July 29th, 2017
Time to get busy living... or get busy dying, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Sweet! Today is National Cheesecake Day! The odds of me finding decent cheesecake in the wilds of Maine are probably slim considering there aren't any Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the entire state. I'd have to drive to Boston, which is nearly five hours round-trip! But who knows? Perhaps there's some awesome blueberry cheesecake to be found 'round these parts. The question being... will I have enough energy to seek it out given that I haven't slept in two days?
• Sweeter! Also not available in the entire state of Maine? Pinkberry. Which is a major bummer, because they just added a delicious-looking Black Raspberry to their flavors list...
So not fair.
• Sweetness! Awwww...
This could be one of the best meet-cutes in history... or the beginning of a horror story to end all horror stories.
• Sweetest? In a move that I can't wrap my head around, I'm seeing posts to social media about people finding Halloween candy being put out. When it's not even August and the holiday is still three months away. Given how the leftovers go on close-out sale for the month of November, we might as well leave it out year-'round. One third of the year devoted to Halloween is absurd... and I like Halloween.
• Unsweet. Since politicians would rather tax people to death than reign in spending, we're inundated with taxes every damn day, and new taxes are never far away. Take, for example, the "Sugary Drink Tax" which adds to the cost of every soft drink (or pop, or soda, or Coke) you buy. Chicago's takes effect on Wednesday... and Seattle's takes effect in January. More cities are looking to follow suit so they can be a part of a crash-grab disguised as a way of saving citizens from obesity. It's shameless and pointless (politicians will never be satisfied with one new revenue stream when there are dozens more to be had!), but... easier than cutting spending, that's for sure. Which leads me to wonder exactly when the tax burden of everyday citizens is going trigger revolt. Could this be the one? Stay tuned.
• Sour. And speaking of bullshit taxes... Washington State's legislature is devoting $300,000 to a feasibility study of building high-speed rail from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver. Something which would undoubtedly be funded by putting a tax on the tax that's on the tax you're already taxed! And undoubtedly be run by the Washington State Department of Transportation... an organization which regularly takes projects which should be able to be completed in months, and dragging them out for years (all while creating the biggest inconvenience possible for everybody). It's a total recipe for fucking disaster. But let's spend THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS to study it anyway.
Which, in itself, is fucking stupid. We don't need a study. All we have to do is look at California and the way their high speed rail is coming along. The project is hemorrhaging money and taking much longer than originally budgeted. As if that wasn't bad enough, the projected top speed of their "high speed rail" keeps dropping below the 220mph benchmark they set. But even better? Even at the outrageous price of $86 a ticket to go from San Francisco to L.A. ... IF they manage to get a whopping 10,000 passengers to ride per day... it will STILL take 203 years to pay for itself. And that doesn't even include maintenance costs?!?
Apparently the Washington State legislature has been taking advantage of our marijuana legalization before deciding where to throw away THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS! And here's the best part... people like me who live in the Eastern half of the State and would rarely use the thing will undoubtedly be included in the taxation required to build it. Yay.
• Bitter. Holy crap where do I even start after the week in politics we've had?
Annnnnd... welcome to Shawshank.
Posted on Monday, July 31st, 2017
I've been (mostly) awake from 4:00am last Friday. As the hours all blend together, I'm finding it hard to wrap my head around what day it is. Or where I'm at.
This morning I drove from Maine to Boston so that I can fly out tomorrow morning. Early. The plan is to try and get some sleep, but first... falafel lunch and a movie.
Because you just cannot resist Charlize Theron...
Before I even get to Atomic Blonde... the soundtrack is frickin' amazing (seriously amazing, and the story behind the soundtrack is interesting as well).
The movie is a spy-thriller that takes place during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and here's (most of) the German-infused/inspired-pop tracks from that era that they picked...
Since I have bought almost all of those songs already, I don't even need to buy the soundtrack... I just need to make a playlist! One song I just had to have was HEALTH's cover of Blue Monday, which wasn't better than the New Order original, but it had a different "feel" I really liked.
As I mentioned, this is a spy-thriller set in Berlin in November 1989 just as the Berlin Wall is about to fall. An MI6 agent is killed by a rogue KGB operative who steals "The List" off him which contains all allied field agents operating in The Soviet Union and Europe. Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Broughton, one of MI6's top spies, who is being interrogated about her actions in Berlin to recover "The List"... meaning that the bulk of the movie is being told in flashbacks.
TEN DAYS EARLIER: Lorraine's contact in Berlin is MI6's top operative there, David Percival (played by James McAvoy). Working together (and even against each other), the movie is a cat-and-mouse game against the Soviets to find "The List" and identify "Satchel," a double agent for the Soviets who betrayed the MI6 agent that was killed. Along the way there are some nice twists and turns that kept me interested... but I have to admit the penultimate "twists" could be seen coming from miles away. The final "twist" was not something I anticipated, but it didn't really have any effect on the story, so it honestly didn't matter much. The film, while pretty great, could have been SO much better had they only made it so that the final moments were an interesting payoff for everything that came before. It wasn't.
That being said, I still recommend Atomic Blonde because the action sequences and soundtrack are just too perfect. And Charlize Theron is beyond kick-ass in every way possible. I would not mind at all seeing a sequel if it gets me more Lorraine Broughton!
If I had a negative, it would be that director David Leitch, who handled most of the movie with such brilliant ease, showed himself to be a fucking hack of the lowest order when he injected a Wilhelm Scream into the action. When are directors going to learn that the gig is up on this bullshit? Everybody knows what to listen for and, when they finally hear it, the sound effect immediately takes them out of the movie. Criminally stupid, and yet directors are still being idiots about using it. I wish studios would forbid Wilhelm Screams until the end of time.
And that was that.
Using the awesome Boston Silver Line, I headed back the the airport and my hotel for an epic nap experience. I would have loved to have gone to the Red Sox game at 7:00, but lack of sleep would have made that impossible.
Oh well. Next time, Boston. Next time.
Posted on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
As anybody who has read this blog for any length of time knows... I am obsessed with Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. In some ways, it eclipses sci-fi greats like Star Wars and Star Trek for me because it was just so damn fresh when it was first released in 1997.
I've spent many days pining away for a sequel that never came.
So you can imagine my anticipation level when I learned that Besson's new film was being touted as the "spiritual successor" to The Fifth Element... even though the source material for the film actually served as the original inspiration for sci-fi films like The Fifth Element.
Thus the French comic book Valérian and Laureline becomes the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets...
And... well... it's no Fifth Element.
What Valerian is can be summed up as "visually breathtaking and sublimely imaginative." Everything about the film is beautiful to look at and exciting to behold because it's just so fully realized. You get the impression that Besson must have spent insane amounts of time figuring out even the tiniest details of the Valerian universe... and it shows.
Unfortunately... there's too much else lacking for me to fall in love with the movie.
First of all is the casting. Dane DeHaan (Valerion) is certainly doing his best to be charming and interesting amongst the lavish scenery, but he never quite pulls it off. He's supposed to be head-over-heels in love with his partner in the Space Police (or whatever), but it never feels real. Instead of the roguish charms we got with characters like Han Solo, Valerian comes across as too stiff one minute, too detached the next, and downright wooden the next. I could never get vested in him at all. Slightly better was Cara Delevingne as Laureline, but it was hard to buy into her character when the sparring with Valerian feels so forced. The whole "Oh we hate each other, but the whole time we were actually falling in love" trope falls entirely flat, even though Valerian professes his feelings from the get-go.
Where the casting most decidedly did not fall flat was when we got to Rhianna playing a shape-shifting exotic dancer called "Bubble." She gave her performance everything, and the nature of her character's abilities lit up the screen. Sadly, near the end of her screen-time, Bubble condenses into tired platitudes of love that never came across as convincing, thus sabotaging my favorite character in the movie.
As I mentioned, the CGI work is mind-bogglingly good and, if there's a reason to see this film before it leaves theaters, this would be it. The reason would most certainly not be the dialogue that Besson came up with. Encrusted with enough corny lines about the nature of love to make you cringe, it's an even heavier ham-fisted effort than we got from Leeloo in The Fifth Element... which is to say that it was horribly distracting. Too many lines fell flat either by construction or delivery ("Time flies when you're having fun!" - groan, really?).
As for the story?
I don't even know.
Decades ago a peaceful race of beautiful beach-dwelling aliens on planet Mül are wiped out during a battle between two forces above their world. The small group of aliens that managed to survive are trying to get their world back by getting their hands on an adorable alien pet known as a "Mül Converter" who can shake out duplicates of everything it eats... including "pearls," a powerful energy source needed by the aliens. What follows seems to involve the aliens taking over a growing section of the massive space station, Alpha, which causes the Space Police (or whatever) to call in two of their best operatives, Valerian and Laureline, to solve the mystery of what's happening in there... because all other soldiers sent in have disappeared.
I'd hate to say that the story then becomes boring... the wild special effects are anything but boring... but it kinda does. It's also wildly inconsistent. One minute Valerian and Laureline's sentient ship ("Alex") is essential to explaining story elements... then it is completely forgotten and ignored the next. When Valerian enters the "mystery section" of Alpha, Alex loses contact. Then she gains contact. Then she drops off the face of the earth again. These kind of "deus ex machina" interludes drive me insane. If you can't be fucking consistent with a "character," or offer a clear arc for their time on screen, then it's probably best to not have that character screwing up your screenplay with inexplicable drop-ins that are more frustrating and intrusive than anything else.
By the time things finally wrap up, I was almost relieved that I wouldn't have to suffer through it anymore. There's only so far that incredible CGI effects can take you. This isn't "Star Wars Prequels Bad," but it could have been much, much better if there was something... more... to support the visuals.
So... overall? A disappointment. This was not The Fifth Element I was looking for. That being said, I'd still recommend seeing it in theaters just to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of it all the way it was meant to be seen.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is tanking hard at the box office. As I'm writing this, it's barely cleared $60 million against a production budget of $172 million. This is a real shame, because I think there was room for some very interesting stories to be told in that universe. Given a sequel, I'm confident that Luc Besson could have taken the criticism of what didn't work, fix it, then give us something that truly delivers on everything that Valerian could have been. Alas, it's probably not going to happen.
And now I'll just be sitting over here... still pining away for my sequel to The Fifth Element... something else that, alas, will probably never happen.
Posted on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
Yesterday was fairly uneventful. Woke up hideously early to make my flight out of Boston... changed planes in Seattle... and... eventually made my way home to Redneckistan. Easy!
Thanks to wildfires in British Columbia and the Okanogan, things here have become quite dire. Smoke is so thick that the entire county has been declared a hazard. THIS was my view of the valley after pulling over on the way home...
When the total eclipse happens later this month, I'm supposed to be able to see the moon obscuring 92.1% of the sun from my house. I bought viewing glasses and a filter for my camera and everything...
But, if this smoke keeps up, I won't be able to see much at all.
It'll be a real bummer if that happens.
Posted on Thursday, August 3rd, 2017
I had an appointment over on The Coast, which meant an early run across the mountains. Thanks to WSDOT and their endless construction at numerous spots, it wasn't the smooth sailing that I had hoped for. Thank heavens I left an extra hour early.
The trip back was much of the same.
Except I made the mistake of logging on to Facebook before leaving, where I received some gut-wrenchingly awful news. I decided to stop at Denny's for lunch rather than risk driving while in a state of shock.
It didn't help.
But I did get fries and a Coke out of it, so I guess that's something.
Posted on Friday, August 4th, 2017
As going to movie theaters gets more and more annoying with assholes texting on their phones and smacking their popcorn and talking non-stop, I've spent a goodly chunk of money building a decent home theater. My setup is not extravagant by any means, but it is nice enough that I don't necessary miss the theater as much as I thought I would.
The cornerstone of my set-up is an Ultra HD 4K HDR television and Blu-Ray player plus a decent stereo A/V receiver capable of processing it all.
But that's only half the battle.
The other half being Ultra HD 4K HDR movies to play on it all. It's the only way you're going to get the fantastic picture clarity and high dynamic range color that the format offers.
And so I've been buying 4K movies from time to time... especially when they go on sale.
Almost too good. The picture is more like what you'd get from a hi-def cam-corder than what you'd see in a movie theater. It looks... fake?... kinda. Not necessarily in a bad way, it just takes some getting used to. It also takes a lot of futzing with your television picture settings to get the best possible visuals. For me that meant upping the brightness, lowering the contrast, and finding a saturation level that works.
What you see, thanks to the 4K Ultra High Definition picture, is even the tiniest details of everything happening on-screen. Every stray hair... every spec of dirt... every line and crease... there is nothing that can hide from such a ridiculously high resolution.
What you also see, thanks to the High Dynamic Range, is a color pallet that's jaw dropping. You only thought that Leeloo's brilliant orange hair was bright... until you see it in HDR. It's so vivid and bright that it almost takes on a life of its own.
So... is Ultra HD 4K HDR worth it?
Yes, because it's the absolute best way to watch movies at home... assuming you have a system that can take advantage of it and a television big enough to do it justice. Newer movies (like Kingsman: The Secret Service) are mind-blowingly beautiful with their stunning color fidelity and clarity. Even older movies (like The Fifth Element tend to be gorgeous, though be forewarned that film grain will be perfectly preserved and on vivid display if you get too close.
No, because I am not entirely convinced that the cost is worth it. My 65-inch television is great, but in order to get any benefit from a 4K picture, I have to be sitting a maximum of 8-1/2 feet away, with the ideal distance being 4-feet, 9-inches. This means I have to push my coffee table out of the way and slide my couch forward every time I watch a 4K movie.
In this respect, the resolution isn't as big a selling point as the high dynamic range color, which is great at any distance.
If you can afford a massive screen on your television... or just want color that's next level... it might be worth a look. Otherwise? Probably not. For most people 1080p is plenty.
Posted on Saturday, August 5th, 2017
My long-time friend Howard died today and I am lost.
We first found each other through blogging a decade ago, but our friendship went far beyond that. Last night I was sifting through hours upon hours of texts, messages, emails, and comments, and realized that we have been in near-continuous contact since we first found each other. Our taste in music, movies, anime, and so many things were in perfect sync so there was always something to talk about.
And I guess sometimes you just know, you know?
We met in person a half-dozen times, usually when I was in Denver for work. The first was at my "Daveorado" event back in August of 2009...
Tug, Me, Hot Doctor's Wife, and Howard at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver!
And then there was that time we flew to L.A. so we could catch a rare US appearance by anime god Hayao Miyazaki, truly one of the best moments of my life.
And then there was the time we went to see Duran Duran at Red Rocks.
And then there was the time back in May when I flew to Denver to celebrate Howard's 50th birthday.
But most of our contact was just everyday stuff. Like when I first got Jake and Jenny and he decided to make them into a meme...
He was forever sending me stuff like that.
And forever talking about music. We have text conversations that go on for hours that are nothing but Pet Shop Boys. But it wasn't just our love of 80's tunes that made for good music talk. Every once in a while he'd turn me on to new music too. Most notably Holy Ghost! and Postiljonen. One minute I'm reading an innocent text... the next minute I'm obsessing over a band I'd never heard of before...
Along with music was the movies we loved to talk about. All kinds of movies... but mostly our shared love of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films. Back in February a new one was released, The Red Turtle, and I got more than just his thoughts on the film...
And then this past Monday, Howard and his "understanding guy" got married! I will be forever grateful for Josh bringing light and love into Howard's life these past six months.
Another thing I'll be forever grateful for is that Howard always knew how I felt about him. I loved him dearly, and told him so...
I could write volumes about how much Howard meant to me, but that text probably does a better job of it.
He was a soul mate.
It's as simple as that.
What's not simple is trying to find a way to carry on with life after a chunk of your heart has been ripped out. But I will find a way, because anything less would be an insult to somebody who fought so bravely every day to carry on...
Goodbye, my friend. I will always love you. I will always miss you.
And you don't have to be embarrassed about liking that Katy Perry song in heaven.
Posted on Sunday, August 6th, 2017
I've done absolutely nothing all weekend... but all that's about to change, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Domino! I loved Ryan Reynold's Deadpool movie, finding it to be the most authentic and faithful adaptation to come out of FOX's Marvel mutants shit-hole ever. Naturally, this left me very excited over the sequel plans, which include Cable (Josh Brolin from Men In Black 3 who is also Thanos in the Marvel Studios Universe!) and Domino (Zazie Beatz from Atlanta). Both were flawless casting...
As somebody with ever-increasing amounts of vitiligo, I have to say that whomever came up with the idea of making the cinematic version of Domino be an inverse image of the comic book and use vitiligo to create her distinctive eye mark is a fucking genius!
How cool is that? Coming to a big screen near you sometime next year!
• GAME OF THRONES!!! Finally...
I've been waiting seven seasons for this moment!
If you've already seen Season Seven's fourth episode, here's a fascinating look at the thinking and special effects that went into the episode...
Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
• Congressman Search and Rescue! It's funny because it is 100% dead-on balls accurate (click to enbiggen)...
Fucking politicians. But you can't really blame them. Our entire system is built to encourage corruption, so they're just playing the role we've created for them. And nothing is going to change until the system changes.
• It's a Poo! If I gave up being a vegetarian after 30 years... then ate half-dozen loose meat sandwiches... then took a massive shit... this is what I'm guessing I'd see when I looked in my toilet...
What a fucking pile of garbage. But is there anybody in the Trump Administration that isn't a fucking pile of garbage? Rather than me typing cuss-words for the next dozen paragraphs, here's John Oliver...
If you go on to watch the entire interaction between Steven Miller and Jim Acosta... go with God... because Miller's pathetic attempt at spin is so laughably idiotic as to raise genuine concern for his mental health. Apparently a requirement to govern now-a-days?
• Eagles! As a long-time fan of the American Bald Eagle, I am always touched when a new video surfaces of an eagle being rescued. Which got me to thinking about the number of times I've seen an eagle rescue video pop up, and I became curious... exactly how often does an eagle need to be rescued? A quick search on YouTube shows that it happens ALL the time! "About 608,000" hits? Insanity! It's so wonder these birds aren't extinct!
• Looking! A while back I blogged about Jake escaping from the catio the day before I was heading to Las Vegas. A surprising number of people have asked me what I would have done if I couldn't have found him before my flight. I'd think the answer would be obvious, but here it is... I'd have canceled my flight and stayed to look for him. There is no way... none whatsoever... I could have gotten on a plane knowing that Jake was outside alone. Work can be shifted. Flights can be rebooked. That's not even a blip on my radar compared to the thought of Jake getting lost forever.
Until next Sunday, then...
Posted on Monday, August 7th, 2017
The smoke-filled air has become so bad that going outside for even a minute is like painting my lungs with glue. Most days now the haze is so bad that I can't even see the surrounding hillsides. The paper said air conditions would be improving, but that hasn't happened at all.
Which has resulted in my cats being upset at me for limiting their time out in the catio.
I only let them out when I can see through the air... and even then just for an hour. Any more time than that and I worry what might happen to their little lungs.
Needless to say I really worry about the animals (like Fake Jake) that are out in the smoke all day and night. This cannot be good for their health.
Ironucally, my Solar Eclipse viewing glasses and camera lens cover arrived today. Don't know if things will be cleared up enough for that to matter, but here's hoping.
Posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
So... it's now a race.
Will President Trump's idiotic, ill-informed, and ignorant handling of North Korea doom me to nuclear extinction before the ultra-massive volcanic engine that's just been found hiding under Washington State buries me in a tsunami of molten lava?
I just don't know.
Crossing my fingers for a massive, world-ending meteor strike...
Posted on Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
I don't know what it is.
But he's a cat, so...
Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2017
The smoke pouring into the valley since I got back has made breathing increasingly challenging. Even worse, the Flonase that gets shot up my nose so I actually can breath is now causing nosebleeds. As if that weren't enough, all the above is making it impossible to sleep.
Now I'm home from work just laying here... waiting to die...
Come, come, come, nuclear bomb...
Posted on Friday, August 11th, 2017
I took a sick day today and, thanks to a drug-induced coma, spent the entire day in bed.
I didn't even watch television. I just... slept.
Now that I'm semi-awake, I decided to eat dinner and catch up with Forged in Fire while I wait for the people I hired to come install gutters on the catio.
Your blade... will kill...
Posted on Saturday, August 12th, 2017
Thank heavens for cats.
Although it's not always sunshine and roses. Jake and Jenny are still evolving in their personalities. And their brother/sister relationship. Which is not always great. Now that Jenny has been more and more enthusiastic about hanging out with me, Jake has occasional fits of jealousy where he'll chase her off so he can have all the attention. Nothing violent... yet, and they are still mostly happy together... but it's a growing concern. Jenny can definitely take care of herself, but Jake is a big bruiser of a cat that has some pounds on her.
She makes up for it in attitude though. Just look at this grumpy face...
Jenny dragged Lion all the way upstairs as her morning tribute, then had to meow so I was sure to see it. Unfortunately, it was still an hour until breakfast time, so my ignoring her did not sit well. She started ripping into poor lion, then getting upset when the fur from his mane got stuck in her mouth...
She was triumphant in the end though...
As for Jake? Still loves being Jake. Which means every day when I come home from work, he's all over me...
Fake Jake has been hanging around more than usual, which provides endless entertainment for the cats. Jake is no longer afraid of his doppelgänger, which means they actually kind of "hang out" together from time to time. Though I know if the fencing were removed, Fake Jake would likely be on the attack, so catio containment is still critical. This often results in a "Cat Watching Cat Watching Cat Watching Cat" scenario...
Ugh. Unfortunately, they just power-washed the gutters and concrete, so my windows are even dirtier than usual. Such a pity that window-washing is not including with the HOA fees!
And that's it for Caturday Saturday... now I'm off to the other side of the mountains.
Posted on Sunday, August 13th, 2017
It's not just another day in America, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Fuck It! Fuck white supremacy. Fuck the Alt-Right. Fuck neo-Nazi assholes. Fuck all of this anti-American bullshit...
The final point is the most important... if you are silent on this horrendous shit, you are complicit with this horrendous shit.
• Trump! Called it. Though even I didn't anticipate it would happen this quickly...
Only 8 months into the Trump Presidency we are on the brink of nuclear war and Nazis are in streets of an American city. Seems about right— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 12, 2017
Further reading at GQ: Charlottesville Is the America That Donald Trump Promised
• Fire! If you hate me now, you'll be happy to know I'm totally doomed.
• Pierced! Food for thought...
I have yet to visit a tattoo/piercing shop that wasn't the epitome of cleanliness and professionalism.
• Defenders! Five days... five days away...
My expectations are probably too high, but here's hoping...
• Toys! It's the little things...
And, on that note, Blogography out...
Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2017
In a time where a woman is killed by Nazis on American soil, I am finding myself at a loss to deal with the evil that assaults us day after day. In a time where our president condemns Nordstrom for discontinuing his daughter's purses in two minutes but waits two days before he is shamed to condemn the white supremacist cancer eating at the heart of this country, I am finding myself at a loss to want to try.
Now, more than ever, I understand why some people just want to watch the world burn.
It would seem we deserve nothing better.
It's tough to shake the feeling that people in general... humanity, as it were... has a potential for goodness that makes us something worth saving.
Despite it all...
And the Red Sox beat the Yankees 2 games out of 3. If that doesn't make you believe in the power of good triumphing over evil, I don't know what will.
Keep hope alive, everybody.
Posted on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
The movie review compendium site Rotten Tomatoes is both a good thing and a bad thing for the movies I love. Good because movies that critics like which might be missed are getting some exposure and hype they deserve. Bad because movies that critics hate which aren't necessarily "rotten" will dissuade movie-goers from seeing something they might otherwise enjoy.
My movie tastes are all over the map but, in general, I tend to agree with the majority of critics.
But not always.
And apparently I'm not alone, because last night I saw this article pop up: IGNORE THE CRITICS! 10 ‘ROTTEN’ MOVIES YOU SHOULD TOTALLY WATCH ANYWAY. As I read through the films in their list I was all "Yes! Yes! ZOMG, YES!" and so I thought I'd post the link and offer up a short comment on why I agree some of these films are not actually all that "rotten." Though some of them, like To Rome with Love, a film by asshole Woody Allen that stars Roberto Benigni and Jesse Eisenberg (two actors I don't care for at all)... I'll take a pass on.
Anwyay, here we go...
So... if you're ever looking for a movie to watch and you skipped one of these because of poor reviews, you might want to take another look!
Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017
Well, the world may be going to shit, but at least I have cats to keep me sane.
Just like when they were kittens... but not quite so compact...
Posted on Thursday, August 17th, 2017
Rather than focus on the hideous events from another tragic day in this country, I thought I'd search for something positive about the good ol' USA that doesn't fill me with overwhelming dread and embarrassment.
I didn't have to go far.
I recently got a notice that Rob Decker is having a killer sale through the month of August on his incredible US National Park posters. There are many people/companies creating these, but Rob's are my hands-down favorite (he studied under Ansel Adams!). He bases the designs on his own photography, and crafts them in the style of the old-time WPA Federal Art Project posters that were made in the 30's and 40's. They are magic...
Artwork © Rob Decker
Artwork © Rob Decker
Artwork © Rob Decker
All of these gorgeous 13×19 posters are signed/numbered limited editions and usually retail for $30 each (which is a total bargain)... but with his sale, you can pick them up for as low as $20 each!
Talk about something Americans can be proud of... our incredible 59 National Parks are national treasures and truly showcase America the Beautiful. I visit them whenever I can, and have plans to visit more in the near future. Here's my list with a check next to the park posters I own (click on a National Park to visit its Wikipedia Page)..
|National Parks I've Visited (17)||Planning to Visit 2017-2020 (10)||Have Not Visited Yet (32)|
|Acadia ✓||Death Valley||American Samoa|
|Arches ✓||Glacier ✓||Badlands|
|Bryce Canyon ✓||Joshua Tree ✓||Big Bend|
|Canyonlands ✓||Kings Canyon||Biscayne|
|Capitol Reef||Pinnacles||Black Canyon|
|Crater Lake ✓||Sequoia||Carlsbad Caverns|
|Everglades ✓||Shenandoah ✓||Channel Islands|
|Glacier Bay||Wind Cave||Congaree|
|Grand Canyon ✓||Yellowstone||Cuyahoga Valley|
|Great Smoky Mountains ✓||Yosemite ✓||Denali|
|Haleakala ✓||Dry Tortugas|
|Hawaii Volcanoes ✓||Gates of the Arctic|
|Mount Rainier ✓||Grand Teton|
|North Cascades||Great Basin|
|Olympic ✓||Great Sand Dunes|
|Zion ✓||Hot Springs|
Just for fun, I mapped them all out in Google Maps here...
Rob plans on eventually releasing posters for all 59 National Parks, so hopefully Hawaii Volcanoes, North Cascades, and Redwood will be added to my collection soon!
In the meanwhile, I rearranged my stairwell wall so I can fit my recent purchases into my collection...
Annnnd... my wall is full now! As I visit more National Parks, I guess I'll have to add any new posters to my office the cat's room walls.
Posted on Friday, August 18th, 2017
A terrorist attack in Catalonia.
Including Barcelona, a city I love and have visited multiple times.
You'd think I'd have found the words to properly express my sadness at these ongoing tragedies from terrorism by now, but I don't think they're ever coming. It just continues to break my heart, and it always hurts to know there is such evil in the world.
But it hurts worse when places I love suffer for it.
And I love entirely too many places on this earth.
Thank you to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for your statement on the terrorist attack. It's nice to know there's a true leader left in North America.
Posted on Saturday, August 19th, 2017
My inability to sleep has nothing to do with my cats. They've always been oddly respectful of sleepy-time. On those rare occasions I do manage to fall asleep, they leave me alone. Even if I just pretend to be asleep, they'll walk in the room, take a look, then walk right back out. It's weird them being so unselfish while being cats and all, but I'm not going to complain.
Every once in a while...
Something happens and they go all "cat" again.
Like last night when I woke up to armageddon happening downstairs. The cats were freaking out over... something... and the commotion was nuts. Is there a big bug in the house? Did a mouse climb through the cat door? What could it be?
Nothing showed up on the security cameras.
Until I reviewed outside footage.
A family of five raccoons decided to visit the catio, which caused quite a stir. I've sped-up the footage to double-speed...
Here's a zoom-in on the above footage to see them better...
I especially love the little raccoon at the end who is desperately trying to make friends with Jake, who just isn't having it...
Guess I need to look into getting some Raccoon Chow.
Posted on Sunday, August 20th, 2017
There actually is something interesting happening before the eclipse tomorrow, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Defenders! How is it that Netflix can be so damn flawless when casting every single character in every single Marvel series and in writing every single character in every single Marvel series... except when it comes to Iron Fist? Danny Rand is written horribly. The actor playing him is a terrible fit for this character. I could barely make it through the Iron Fist series, and now the character made it tough to get through the newly-released Defenders series too...
Every single time Iron Fist appears in The Defenders, everything that's moving forward so beautifully grinds to a halt and turns to shit. I mean... holy crap... they got Sigourney Freakin' Weaver, who elevates absolutely everything she appears in (including The Defenders), but even she is not going to be able to save this show when such a key piece of it is shit. There was a scene between Luke Cage and Danny Rand... fucking "Heroes for Hire" that we've been dying to see... and Mike Colter is just killing it as Cage while Finn Jones can't seem to deliver a single line with any conviction or semblance of skill. It's like he's trying to channel Keanu Reeves, which wouldn't be horrible... EXCEPT HE'S CHANNELING KEANU REEVES FROM BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. GAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!
Look, I'm sure Finn Jones is a capable actor in other roles, but his take on Iron Fist sucks. The character takes a solid 5-star show and knocks it down to four. I hope they end up doing another Defenders... the idea is too good not to... but diminish, eliminate, or replace Iron Fist with something that's a better fit. Please.
• Trolls! This. Is. Fucking. Genius.
I hope it catches on.
• Fake President! Making America... uhhh... great?... again?
So... Trump actually is accomplishing more than any other president! Finally, a truth!
• Ahnold! Just as an FYI... THIS IS HOW YOU FUCKING DO IT...
• Punch It! Seriously. I'm sick of this bullshit. We fought a fucking WORLD WAR over this. There are not "two sides" to this position. There is no "just as bad" when it comes to this. There is no confusion as to the appropriate response. We have memorials... history books... and a shitload of movies that make it quite clear...
Nothing less than 100% unapologetic, uncompromised, unconditional condemnation of white supremacists and Nazis is ever acceptable. If you don't fucking get that, then you have no business being president. Hell, you have no business calling yourself "human."
I mean, Jesus Christ... IT'S THE FUCKING NAZIS HERE!!!
• Dropt It! In a feeble attempt at ending on a positive note, this is must-see TV...
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.
Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2017
And so... The Great Eclipse is upon us!
I've decided to "liveblog" the event, and will be updating this page throughout the morning as I document my triumphs and failures in trying to capture it for posterity.
If you're here late, you'll have to scroll to the bottom and work your way back up to see things in order.
Annnd... I think I'm out. Until next eclipse, everybody!
I have to say... the very best part of staying home for the eclipse has been hanging out with my kittehs. They toughed it out to the very end, and have been incredibly sweet the entire time...
Just noticed that Carl the Robovac has gone silent. I hunt him down and find out that he never made it out of the guest bedroom. The dipshit choked on a rug...