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