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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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...
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.
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?
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.
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.
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...
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
State senator found with teenage boy in hotel room.
Big fucking surprise. It's the "family values" Christian who ends up being the fucking pervert. YET AGAIN! It's always these assholes getting caught texting things like "I'm gonna fuck you like a good little boy if you keep calling me daddy." They can't seem to help themselves. Which is why every fucking time I see some politician asshole going out of their way to shit all over LGBT equality, I automatically expect they're fucking pedophiles. And history seems to back this up.
• Assemble! Oh goody. Justice League looks like a total rehash of Batman vs. Superman... incomprehensible action sequences strung together with boring shit nobody cares about...
At least Zack Snyder is consistent with his suckage.
• Gubermint! There's so much fucked up shit going on with our Trump-infused government that I could fire off another fifty bullets just to touch on it. But doing so will probably make me want to blow my head off, so I'll pick just one...
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.
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.
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.
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.
That cat I planted has finally sprouted!
Guess that means Spring is finally here...
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...