Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2018
It's my last day before vacation! Which would ordinarily be a good thing, but Jake is sick.
On Sunday things were fine, but he acted a little strange around dinner. Then this morning he was refusing to eat. I saw that he had thrown up last night, so I went back through security camera footage to see what was going on. He was walking into the Litter-Robot, but was walking out without covering anything up, which means he wasn't going to the bathroom. Eventually he did unleash a poop today, so I thought he was fine.
Except any time he'd drink water he would immediately vomit it back up. Then at dinner he was refusing to eat again.
And so... looks like it's a trip to the vet tomorrow morning.
Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
So... not a great day.
This morning poor Jake was sicker than ever, so it was off to the vet we go. From their annual checkups, I already knew that this was not going to go well. My cats hate being stuffed into the kitty carriers. At least this time I didn't have to trick Jake into one. He was too weak to put up a fight...
Definitely not a happy camper.
And here's where things get strange.
Jake can meow now.
He has never been able to meow in the nearly three years I've had him. Not once. When he thinks he's meowing, he will let out little squawks instead. Sometimes he kinda howls (as with previous vet visits) but no meows. And then on the way to the vet this morning...
Turns out he's got some problems. The first of which is a blocked urinary tract, so they had to do surgery to unblock him. It was rougher than expected, but he managed to come through okay. They still don't know what else is involved, so he's not out of the woods yet. They need to watch him for a few days... make sure his infection clears up and he can pee okay. Then they will figure out what to do next.
And so... instead of flying out in the morning I've changed my flight and will fly out Friday instead. Then fly right back on Sunday so I can (hopefully) pick Jake up first thing Monday morning (assuming he's ready to be released).
If there's anything to be thankful for, it would be that all this happened before I left. If it had happened while I was gone, he probably wouldn't have survived.
UPDATE: The doctor called me at 6:00pm(!) to tell me that Jake was still doing okay. They're concerned that there's too much blood in his urine, but he's hoping it will start to clear up tomorrow. I get to visit him at 10:00am, so hopefully I'll know more then.
Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018
Things not going quite as well as we had hoped. Jake still has way too much blood in his urine, so no next steps can't be decided.
I got to visit him this afternoon. The poor little guy is so confused and scared. I've never been able to acclimate him to other people. There are people everywhere. He's terrified of other animals. There are animals everywhere. He's in a cone, which freaks him out because he can't see. He's tethered with a catheter and an IV, which is no fun at all. He's on drugs, which just heightens his confusion.
The good news is that I'm told he's usually sleepy and lethargic, so maybe he's not quite so bothered by it all. He was sure active when I was there though. He was rubbing up against me... probably wanting me to take him home...
So heartbreaking. It was all I could do to hold it together.
Things are not much better at home.
Last night Jenny was super excited when the dinner alarm rang. But when I put the food out, she wouldn't eat. Instead she wandered around... presumably looking for her brother. They have never not eaten together, so she was understandably upset. Eventually she just flopped on the floor of the guest room and nothing I could do would convince her to come eat.
After I left her alone for a while, she came back into the living room and lay next to me, but still wouldn't eat, even when I would hold the food in front of her...
She finally climbed onto the back of the couch and cried and cried and cried. Trying to console her just caused her to cry more, so I tried ignoring her instead...
Eventually she gave up and went to sleep on the small couch. Still hadn't eaten. At one point I got excited because she woke up... but she just gave herself a pedicure and went back to sleep...
When I started turning everything off and packing up my stuff, she decided to go eat. At last...
After I turned in for the night, Jenny wandered in to fall asleep next to me.
I woke up to her meowing again around 5:00am. Still looking for her brother.
It was around this time that Jenny realized I was laying on a heating pad. She then flops down and uses her back to keep pushing me over until she's claimed the whole thing. I tried explaining that I need the heating pad for my back or I won't be able to bend over to feed her breakfast, but she did not care. Here's me trying to slide her over a little bit... note the foot kicking me away. She is NOT having it. Oh well. I didn't need a back anyway...
After taking a shower, she was still soaking up the residual heat from the pad (which I had turned off). Guess it's time to pull our "her" electric blanket...
Really, really hoping that Jake has improved when I visit him tomorrow. It would be so much easier to climb on a plane Friday morning if I knew he was getting better.
Not that climbing on a plane is going to be easy. Poor Jenny will be all by herself for the first time in her life for three days.
Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2018
I have to leave for the airport at 4:00am. Needless to say, this has made for a hectic day today. Way too much to do and not enough time to do it. But there was no way I was going to miss out on visiting Jake in the pet hospital before I left, so that meant an afternoon trip into The Big City. Apparently I was way too excited about getting to see him, because I accidentally set off the alarm system as I was walking out of the house. One awkward call to the monitoring company later... and I was on my way.
Jake seemed in a little better spirits today. And I was told that he ate all his breakfast, so that's good news. Alas, there's still way too much blood in his urine, so that catheter isn't coming out any time soon...
He ran right up and tried to rub his head on me, but the cone kept getting in the way, so I flipped it backwards to create a fashionable poncho...
Then he could get in all the head-rubbing he wanted, which was a lot...
What he was happiest about was getting face and neck scratches. That cone makes it so he can't scratch himself, so once I got started he really didn't want me to stop...
I stayed for 20 minutes so I could (hopefully) spend enough time with him that he will be set for affection while I'm gone. But all too soon it was time to go. I flipped his cone back in place and that was the end of that...
Really appreciate everybody's good wishes for Jake. He's such a sweet kitty that it's difficult to see him hurting.
And speaking of hurting...
Jenny is still not taking the absence of her brother well. She still wanders the house looking for him. She still cries when she can't find him. She still wants to spend most of her time hanging out next to me looking sad...
Hopefully her brother will be back in the house Monday morning... fingers crossed.
UPDATE: The minute I pressed "publish" Fake Jake decided to pay a visit and Jenny went screaming out into the catio. I don't know if she's confused and thinks it's Jake or what... but she did not run away when Fake Jake started climbing up the catio...
Usually, this kind of aggressive behavior would have her running into the house and hiding. Such a brave little girl. Something tells me she'll be fine on her own for a few days.
Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2018
After spending some quality time with Jenny, I said my goodbyes and walked out the door shortly before 4am. That's an hour earlier than I would usually leave, but it's almost impossible to find out what the hell is going on with road work... road closures... road detours... and other road-related crap, so better safe than sorry. Maybe one day our State will have current and accurate information available that's easy to get to... but that's not now.
Turns out my drive was completely without incident, which meant I arrived 3-1/2 hours early. Just as a different flight to Honolulu was boarding. They had room for me in Premium Class, and so...
Oahu's beautiful North Shore awaits.
Posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2018
Flying to Hawaii for just one day would be depressing if I didn't already have to do it all the time for work. As it were, I'm accustomed to flying across half the Pacific Ocean, spending a day working, then turning around and flying back.
Yesterday at the rehearsal ended up being a pleasant enough day in paradise...
But today? On the day that I'm photographing a wedding? Looks like rain.
And here we go...
Hope my back can hold up for the next twelve hours!
Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2018
Home again and all is well... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Homeward. And, just like that, Hawaii is over for me. I would have liked to have stayed another couple days to hang out with my friends and relax but, alas, I've got a cat back home that is undoubtedly really, really anxious to get out of the hospital. I did get bumped to First Class, which is kinda like a vacation. A vacation with a bowl of warm nuts...
The last time I came to Hawaii for fun was when I managed to tack a few days on the back-side of a work trip in 2011. The four times since then were all work all the time. And while I wouldn't have missed this wedding in Oahu for anything, coming to photograph an event is still work!
• Salmon. I have been this close to flying Alaska Airlines' Salmon-Thirty-Salmon too many times to count. But I'm always a gate or two away. Like today...
It's not every day you get to fly in a plane painted to look like a big fish... and, alas, today is not my day either.
• Simon. On my trip to Honolulu on Friday I saw the available movies I hadn't seen (Tomb Raider, yawn... Won't You Be My Neighbor, awesome... and Blockers, surprisingly watchable) and so on my trip back I watched movies I enjoyed that I've already seen... Deadpool 2 and The Disaster Artist... and also Love, Simon...
This movie is so amazingly good (despite a rough start to the third act) and has an ending that's ten tons of wonderful. I've seen it three times now, and one thing continues to stand out... the casting on this film is phenomenal. Not just the main characters, but supporting roles as well. In particular, Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner as Simon's parents. I knew Garner could pull off the emotional weight... but Josh Duhamel?!? And yet...
And that clip has been edited down from the original scene.
The first coming-of-age-love-story with a gay lead character from a major studio was going to be a landmark film regardless of how good it was. Or how terrible. The fact that Love, Simon turned out to be something great is just icing on the cake. One can only hope that more films like this entering mainstream culture becomes a step towards more acceptance and less bullying in our schools. Because isn't high school hard enough?
• Haerts. In addition to being one of the sweetest, most charming, funny, genuine films in recent memory, Love, Simon has a great soundtrack. It was especially awesome that Wings by Haerts got a snippet into the movie. It's such an amazing song...
And now I'm addicted to it all over again.
• Photography. It didn't actually rain on the wedding yesterday, which was nice. A lot easier to shoot photos when you're not soaking wet. The problem was my poor back, which was in spasm the entire day. I was eating muscle relaxers like candy in an attempt to keep being able to move. The good news is that the photos turned out pretty good. Not so much because of my talent as a photographer, but because the bride and groom are phenomenally good-looking... and patient.
And... despite my not being a professional photographer (and especially not a wedding photographer), this was my sixth wedding shoot. No idea how this keeps happening to me.
• Home. Jenny meowed when I walked through the door. Meowed after me when I rolled my bag in. Meowed after me when I went to the bathroom. Meowed after me when when I went upstairs. Meowed after me when got undressed. Meowed after me when I got in bed. She did not stop. "Sheesh. I am sorry I had to leave you all alone! Are you going to calm down if I can bring your brother home tomorrow?!?"
Such a sweetheart. I hope that Jake and Jenny's reunion goes well.
And... I turn into a pumpkin at midnight, so... much aloha.
Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2018
The doctor who has been treating Jake doesn't start his shift until 11:00am, but he dropped by earlier in the morning to make sure Jake was able to go home. And so... at 9:00am I headed to The Big City to pick up my cat.
I honestly don't know what it's been like for him at the hospital. My guess is that he's been trapped in a cage the entire time... poked and prodded... having to listen to barking dogs and other strange sounds... no doubt it's been a traumatic time. I feel awful about it, but there wasn't much choice.
Hopefully he'll be back to normal in short order.
Because his car ride home was anything but normal. He can still meow now, like his sister, which should make life a bit more interesting...
I started talking to Jake to comfort him, but that just seemed to wind him up worse than he already was, so I didn't talk much on the way home. I did poke a finger through the carrier to scratch his face, which he loves.
After 20 minutes of listening to one angry, confused, and scared kitty, my next hurdle was awaiting me. How would Jenny react to having her brother home?
Not so great, actually.
I was warned that the vet smell on Jake would freak her out, and it sure did. She spent most of her day stalking him... running up and smelling him... and hissing, hissing, and hissing at him if he tried to get too close...
Or for no reason at all...
Jake was upset that he couldn't be buddy-buddy with her right away, but he was still thrilled to be home.
As day turned to night, they seemed to be getting along better. They were hanging out in the catio together for nearly an hour...
After dinner Jenny's hissing was at minimum and they seemed like they might be getting back to normal quicker than I had hoped...
And now for the bad news...
First of all, I have to crush Jake's pills, mix with water, then draw into a syringe so I can hold him down and squirt it in his mouth. He takes it like a champ, but is understandably irritated. Fortunately I only have to do this four times.
And also? Jake has to be on a special diet with special food. Which means Jenny is also on a special diet since Jake eats her leftovers. The bright spot in all this is that they both love the special food. The bad news is that the special food is massively expensive. As in maybe I'm having to discontinue satellite television expensive. But the worst news? I have nearly $240 in cat food I just bought on sale that's now going to be feeding Fake Jake...
It's expensive, low-carb, quality food-stuff... which is good news for Fake Jake, I guess.
And then there's my share of the massive vet bill... nearly $600! But, hey, it would be over $2000 if I didn't have insurance, so I can't be too upset about that.
Not that the money matters. Can you really put a price tag on this?
Jake is so sweet... such a great cat. I would be completely crushed if anything were to happen to him.
Anybody need a slightly-used spleen?
Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
Ever since I got back from my brief Hawaiian excursion, I've done very little except worry about Jake. He seems okay. He's still peeing in tiny amounts a dozen times a day, but he doesn't seem to be in pain or anything like that, so I'm not freaking out. Yet.
No, what worries me is that he appears to have some kind of PTSD.
I'm working half-days this week so I can keep an eye on him. He spends every minute I'm here hanging all over me. He's at my side constantly...
When I'm not home, however, Jake wanders around crying because he can't find me...
With the exception of the patch of fur they shaved off on his arm for an IV, he looks good physically...
Well... not entirely..
Yesterday afternoon Jenny went climbing up my massive pole in the catio. I watched Jake try to follow her... and he couldn't. Turns out his claws are gone...
This upset me to an irrational degree.
I have never trimmed my cats' claws. When they were babies they scratched stuff they weren't supposed to... but after providing them lots of better things to scratch, they stopped scratching where they're not supposed to. Now they use only the poles and scratcher boards I've bought for them.
When the vet's office called for a check-in, I asked about his claws. They said they do it as a "courtesy' whenever cats are under anesthesia. Sometimes cats are violent and scratch at the staff. Since Jake is not violent I asked if I had the option of specifying that he and Jenny's claws not be trimmed if they are ever admitted. Turns out you can, so I did.
This morning I woke up to go to the bathroom and nearly bit it when I tripped on something. I turn on the light and my bedroom floor is covered in toys...
Apparently Jake is so happy to be home that he spent nearly two hours dragging all his toys up. Including his giant Peeps Bunny. He hasn't done anything like this in months...
Jake and Jenny seem to be getting along like they used to now. No hissing is involved. I wish they wouldn't get along on top of the dining room table (pet-safe disinfectant is expensive!)...
When they're not together, they're taking turns keeping me from work...
So... I guess we're back to normal then?
Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018
Since I'm supposed to be on vacation this week, but ended up home with a sick cat instead, I've been working
He hopped on the bed with me after he'd eaten his breakfast... then proceeded to puke all over me. And, let me tell you, it was an impressive amount of vomit. Kind of shocking he was even able to contain so much spew in such a tiny body. Fortunately, it was all contained on my blanket so all I had to do was stick it in the wash... four times (just to be sure).
Afterwards he hopped right back on the bed and fell asleep...
I wanted to keep an eye on him for a while, hence my being an hour late to work.
Before heading home to see if Jake had left any puke for me to find, I headed to the grocery store since my refrigerator and cupboards are bare. While there, I was excited that there was a new brand of mayo for me to try (Heinz!)... until I looked at the price tag...
SIX DOLLARS AND TWENTY-NINE CENTS?!?? FOR MAYO?!? WTF?!? IS THERE GOLD IN IT? DOES IT COME WITH A FREE PONY? WHAT?!? Needless to say, no new mayo for me. Perhaps when I get to The Big City next I'll see if they have it for a reasonable price at the Safeway.
And... back to my home.
Which was pleasantly puke-free!
A quick look at the security cameras and I saw that Jake it still able to pee... many, many times... so I'm chalking this day up as a win.
After I run my blanket through the wash just one more time.
Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2018
Happy International Coming Out Day to my LGBTQ readers and friends!
Some of you walked through fire to get to where you are today. Some of you are dipping a toe into the flames before taking the plunge. Some of you bounded over the flames like a golden god. Some of you are happy to hang on to your fire extinguisher to keep the flames at bay a while longer. Many of you escaped the fire only to besieged with people lobbing more fire in your direction. But regardless of who you are... what your truth is... I am happy you're here, you wonderful fireproof warrior, you!
And now... time to clean up another round of cat puke. Poor Jake. I really thought he had turned a corner when he didn't throw up after yesterday morning. It was a lot less than last time though, so maybe he's nearing the light at the end of the tunnel?
Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2018
Now that we're finally getting a sequel to Unbreakable (and Split) with Glass, I got to thinking about other movies I've long wanted a sequel to.
MOVIES THAT NEED A SEQUEL...
<insert marvel studios film here>. No kidding. The films I most want sequels to are every film Marvel Studios has ever made. I keep hoping against hope that they will up the number of productions they've got going and, now that the various X-Men franchises are headed back to Marvel, that's a possibility.
Atomic Blonde. Charlize Theron's brutal take on a cold war spy drama is one of the best films in that genre to ever hit the silver screen. The story, the look, the soundtrack, the fight scenes... every frame of this film was gold and I'm dying to see more.
Central Intelligence. Nobody was more surprised than me that this Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Heart spy vehicle was any good... but it really was! I'd like to see where the characters end up next, assuming there's an interesting enough way to bring them back together... of which I'm skeptical.
The Heat. The best Melissa McCarthy movies are those that reign her in to a good degree, and this was one of those films. This was also a great Sandra Bullock vehicle, which is always a roll of the dice. There's plenty more story here to tell.
Kill Bill. I don't know if this is possible given how Uma Thurman came forward to speak out against her experience making the films, but boy does the idea have such great possibilities that were set up in the original two.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Sigh. This was such a beautifully-realized adaptation of the Aubrey-Maturin books that I can't understand why it wasn't a massive box office success. Regardless, it still made enough money that my hopes for a sequel are still burning.
The Legend of Tarzan. Easily the most faithful adaptation of the amazing Edgar Rice Burroughs books, I was thrilled to see what happens when they actually tried to make a good Tarzan film. I'd like to see another one.
The LEGO Batman Movie. Just like the LEGO video games, they completely knocked this one out of the park. Better than Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Suicide Squad, and (heaven help us) Justice League.
The Losers. A very good comic adaptation that was really smart in how it was adapted, I would have thought a sequel would have been greenlit immediately. Alas... the box office was less than stellar.
MacGruber. I don't care what anybody says. This was a funny movie and I'd love to get a sequel.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the chemistry of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can overcome any failings that might arise from trying to recapture what made the first movie so good.
Ocean's 8. As entertaining as the Ocean's Eleven trilogy ever was. One would hope that they'd work hard to come up with as interesting a caper as the first one, because that's what killed Ocean's Twelve.
Paul. A hilarious film that was so brilliantly realized that I can't fathom how it didn't manage to catch enormous buzz and become a box office juggernaut. It could so easily get a great sequel... if somebody would finance it.
Serenity. Rumor has it that we may get a Netflix show (or something) to continue on the story. Lord, I hope so. There's some good things happening with sci-fi right now, but you won't find me complaining that there's too much of it.
Spy. Easily Melissa McCarthy's best film, there are literally a dozens directions this franchise could be taken.
Star Trek. Apparently there are two films in development... one by Quentin Tarantino... and one that has Kirk time-traveling back to meet his father (Chris Hemsworth!). Both are stalled for one reason or another. Whatever the reality of what's going on, I sure hope they get everything figured out. There's too many good things about the reboot to let it die.
Team America: World Police. It honestly doesn't have to be a sequel to Trey Parker and Matt Stone's brilliant puppet movie... but it needs to be something. After the brilliance of The South Park Movie, Baseketball, and Team America, you just know they have another amazing movie in them.
MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL AT ONE TIME, BUT EVERYBODY IS PROBABLY TOO OLD NOW...
Beverly Hills Cop I honestly didn't think that Beverly Hills Cop III was that bad. No... it wasn't the sequel I was hoping for, but it was entertaining enough. And it had me hoping that there would be a fourth installment which would wrap things up in a much more satisfying way. Whether Eddie Murphy is too old to churn out another one is debatable... but I still hope.
Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension. So many years... decades, really... hoping against hope that Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League would see fruition but, alas, it was not to be.
Eurotrip. SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW! SCOTTY DOESN'T KNOW!
The Fifth Element. Instead of making a sequel to The Fifth Element, Luc Besson gave us the underwhelming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It's depressing in entirely too many ways given that Bruce Willis is probably past the point of playing the character by now.
Hancock. This was a really good super-hero movie before really good super-hero movies were common (thanks, Marvel Studios!), so perhaps a sequel isn't necessary now... even if Will Smith was ten years younger.
Spaceballs. So much material in sci-fi that's ripe for parody.
True Lies. I understand why 9/11 was able to remove the possibility of a sequel, but what a waste. The original film was remarkable for how well it was done, and I would have loved to have seen Schwarzenegger and Curtis in one more outing. We ended up with Mr. & Mrs. Smith. which was kinda the same thing... but not really.
Undercover Blues. One of the best movies you've probably never seen, this is easily in my Top 25 Films of All Time, so naturally I was dying for another outing by Jeff & Jane Blue. And while Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner are probably too old for that kind of film... their daughter Janey could follow in their footsteps and end up needing help from mom and dad... just sayin'.
V.I. Warshawski. If this film had a male lead, I'm betting it would have gotten a sequel. It was smart, funny, and had a good detective story driving it. But, all we got was Kathleen Turner being frickin' awesome, and apparently that wasn't enough.
MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL AT ONE TIME, BUT A PRIMARY CHARACTER US DEAD...
Galaxy Quest. I honestly don't know how this would have ever worked given the clever premise of the original wouldn't work a second time... but boy-oh-boy would I have loved to see these characters try. Alas with Alan Rickman gone, it's too late.
Sneakers. I always held out hope that we'd get a sequel... but with River Phoenix gone and Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier essentially retired... well...
MOVIES THAT DON'T NEED A SEQUEL, BUT I LOVE THE CHARACTERS TOO MUCH TO IGNORE...
The Long Kiss Goodnight. No idea how they would come up with a sequel that would work well when the original wrapped up so neatly, but everything here worked so dang well... and Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson had such amazing chemistry... that I'd really love for them to try.
MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL BUT WE'RE GETTING SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD...
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The American adaptation didn't suck... it was actually incredible. And Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig were exceptional in it. I was fully expecting that it would get an immediate sequel. And... apparently it is... but not with Mara and Craig? Blergh.
MOVIES THAT NEEDED A SEQUEL IF THE ORIGINAL HAD BEEN WORTH A SHIT...
John Carter. One of my favorite series of books ever, the John Carter of Mars novels are ripe for a good cinematic adaptation. Unfortunately what we got was a steaming pile of shit that was barely faithful to the books and essentially destroyed what could have been an awesome series. Such a huge disappointment.
Posted on Saturday, October 13th, 2018
Last night when I got home from work I decided to try a new frozen pizza brand I haven't had before. I don't know why I bother, because they all end up tasting like crap, but I keep holding out hope. The pizza was, as expected, truly awful.
In more ways that one, as it turns out.
While I was removing the wrapper, some of the cheese topping fell on the floor. Before I could grab a towel and get it picked up, Jake swooped in and chowed down. It was only a half-dozen small shreds... but that was all it took. Within five minutes he was puking his guts out. Poor guy.
I don't purposely feed my cats human food, but Jake has been getting into my food since I first got him, and it's never caused any problems. But now? Barf-time.
Which means I have to be more careful than ever that he doesn't eat anything except his heinously expensive prescribed specialty food.
Other than that, he's mostly back to normal. Except for the fact that he is still peeing far more often than usual (beats the alternative) and clings to me like glue everywhere I go. When I lay down on the couch to work, he'll immediately hop on top of me... only hopping off to pee, then he's right back on me...
Needless to say, any time I'm in bed, Jake is there too...
I'm still irrationally upset that his claws were trimmed. I wish I could get past that, because I know they'll grow back... but, still... upsetting...
Poor Jenny spends most of her time being jealous that Jake is getting so much attention. For some reason they have an agreement that there can only be one cat in bed with me at a time, and since that's mostly Jake... well... let's just say we've been getting our share of irritated glances...
Not that Jenny is completely ignored. I make sure she gets some lap-time too...
This week has been a tough one. I am terrified that Jake's urinary problems are going to come back and they'll end up having to cut him open. Every time he uses the Litter-Robot (which is often) I run to make sure that he was able to pee. Every time he licks his junk, I'm worried it means he's having trouble going again. Next week I'm back to working full days and I won't be able to observe him as easily. I've put alerts on the security camera system for motion at the Litter-Robots, but that's not the same as being here.
Six weeks until my next trip. My hope is that everything will be fine by then and I won't have to change my plans. Again.
Posted on Sunday, October 14th, 2018
Spent my weekend getting ready for winter, but it hasn't been all bad... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Jakespreading. My concern for Jake is either growing or easing depending on which minute of the day it is. On one hand, he is peeing regularly. On the other hand, it's too often... sometimes up to three times an hour. On one hand, he is pretty much back to normal. On the other hand, he has been increasingly clingy. Now he's sleeping with me every night. Which mostly looks like this...
He's sleeping next to me, using my leg as a pillow.
For the past two nights, sleeping beside me hasn't been good enough. He wants to sleep on top of me. Which is no biggie when I'm laying on my back but, given my recent back pains, I'm more comfortable on my side. He tries to climb on me but there's not enough room, so he falls off and starts getting upset. I fix the problem by leaning against a pillow. He falls asleep on the pillow (and against me), but is fooled to thinking he's sleeping on me. So it's all good, I suppose. But I think I'm going to start looking into some warm pads that might prove more tempting than a pillow. In the mornings when I come back from taking a shower, I always find him laying on the slats above the heating vent, so I'm guessing he might be in love with a warm place to lay just like his sister...
Tomorrow I'm going to place another call to his doctor so I can ask about the alarming number of times he's peeing... and to ask if I should be concerned that he's grooming his junk more often these past couple days. Call me paranoid, but I'd do just about anything to make sure he doesn't have another extended stay away from home.
• Who? First of all, I love Jodie Whittaker in the new season of Doctor Who. She is sublimely perfect in the role, and everything you could want for The Doctor she projects in spades. Quirky without being silly. Smart without being stuffy. Entertaining without being absurd. She IS Doctor Who...
Which is why my disappointment in her first episode being horribly boring was more upsetting than it usually would be. Things picked up a bit in the second episode that aired tonight (the new TARDIS is pretty great), but it still feels like a bit of a slog to get through. I really, really hope that things start picking up... giving both Whittaker and Doctor Who fans the show we deserve.
• Boca? When I was last at the grocery store, I noted that Boca Burgers have pretty new packaging. What surprised me is that the burgers inside are different. They are darker. And the taste is different. Not necessarily in a bad way... they're just... different. Still tasty...
What I cannot tell is what in the hell they are replacing. Used to be there was "Original Vegan" and "All-American Flame Grilled"... these are "Original All American," which I can only guess is taking the place of both? They ain't vegan (contains cheese like the All-American Flame Grilled) so maybe they are discontinuing those? Confusing.
• The Vote. LOLOLOL! Maria Cantwell just released a commercial saying that "drug companies are too powerful and prescription drugs cost too much money." Guess the blowback she got after accepting $75,000 from Big Pharma then voting against cheaper drug re-importation has her worried? Typical piece of shit politician... says whatever she feels she has to at the moment in order to get elected, and then she'll jettison it when she decides to suck Big Pharma dick for cash again. We get the politicians we settle for. We get what we deserve. Not that we're given much choice. My Washington State Voter's Pamphlet just arrived and there's only one candidate I actually want to vote for. The rest are just votes against Trump-enabling Republicans.
• Asshole. Vice President Pence would do best to just shut the hell up on all matters pertaining to anything because, odds are, his boss has tweeted something totally fucked up on the topic, which makes Pence come off as a hypocritical asshole. Like this...
Why the hell Pence pretends to give a shit about journalists when it's been made very clear that Trump's administration condemns journalists as an "enemy of the people" is beyond me. Disgusting and pathetic. Like most everything to do with President Trump.
• Groupon! Congratulations to Hasan Minhaj on becoming a father...
I can't wait for his show, Patriot Act, to debut on Netflix come October 28th! And, needless to say, if you have Netflix and haven't seen his incredible standup show, Homecoming King, you should do that immediately.
Annnnd... scene. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2018
Like most everybody, I would prefer not paying taxes.
But the only way it all works is if everybody kicks in money so that things we rely on can continue to function. Like the fire department. Like our military. Like food inspectors. Like so many things that keep us safe and make sure the services we enjoy have the funding they need.
And so... we pay taxes.
The problem is that the way we are taxed is incredibly fucked up.
Our progressive federal tax scale means that the more money you make, the more money in federal taxes you pay. The base rate goes from roughly 10% for the poorest among us to roughly 40% for the wealthiest among us. Except... there are so many fucking loopholes and bullshit conditions to taxation that somebody who should be paying 40% can end up paying less than 10% if they are creative in their finances. Billionaires can easily pay nothing if they figure out a way for their income to be tied up in investments and shit.
Like I said, the system is incredibly fucked up.
Now, I don't pretend to be an economics genius or anything... but there has got to be a better way. Something more fair and honest. But since the billionaires control all the wealth (hence they control all the politicians making the tax laws), "a better way" will likely never happen. Instead we're getting even more tax cuts for the wealthy that are paid for by huge cuts to things like Medicare and Social Security that we have already fucking paid for along with critical services... like public education.
Personally, I am all for abolishing income tax of any kind and eliminating the IRS. Instead of income tax, the taxes we need will come from the shit you buy. This is called a "consumption tax" and, in my mind, seems a lot more fair than the bullshit we have now. Everybody pays the same consumption tax on absolutely everything except food and medical expenses. Buy a new fingernail clipper? Pay a little tax. Buy a fucking mansion? Pay a lot of fucking taxes. And no buying your fingernail clippers in France so you can avoid paying your consumption tax! Anything you bring into the country is immediately subject to taxation. Don't want to pay taxes? Don't buy anything.
In the meanwhile though...
Since I am paying an outrageous amount of federal income tax on every dollar I make, I try very hard to not pay sales tax. Any large purchase... like camera equipment... I purchase out of state so I don't have to pay taxes on it. At least I did...
I get it. Honestly I do. Washington State (which doesn't collect a state income tax) relies on sales tax to pay the bills. An astronomically high sales tax that's near 9%. So when I order a $1000 camera lens from B&H Photo in New York, Washington State is losing out on $90 in tax revenue.
A tax I'd be happy to pay if it weren't for all the other shit I'm taxed on. Hell, run it up to 20% for all I care... so long as you get rid of the IRS and my fucking income tax so we have a consistent, fair tax rate that everybody has to pay equally.
But what do I know? A consumption tax sounds fair and transparent to me, but maybe it's a dumb idea. Maybe a flat-tax is better. Maybe there's an alternative to taxes which will still allow us to pay for public safety, infrastructure, and defense that's far more fair than what we got. I really don't know and I honestly don't care. So long as we get rid of the fucked up insanity we're stuck with now.
Especially since I'll now be paying more taxes than ever before.
Especially since politicians are spending more tax revenue than ever before.
Especially since Americans are getting fucked over by our government worse than ever before.
Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
What was once "National Feral Cat Day" has become "Global Cat Day," which is kinda strange because we already have a "National Cat Day" which is October 29 and "International Cat Day" which was August 8. And then there's apparently a "National Black Cat Day" which is October 27? How many frickin' cat days do we need?
Not that it really matters. As anybody who has cats will tell you, EVERY DAY IS GLOBAL CAT DAY!
Regardless, Jake and Jenny were indeed feral rescues...
And not much has changed. Other than they're bigger...
Though not feral, neighborhood abandoned cat "Fake Jake" is still hanging around. Last year before I headed out to Antarctica, I was worried that he might freeze to death in the insulated shelter I made him, so I bought a new cat shelter that could hold an outdoor heating pad. I also built a berm out of pipe insulation to help keep any wind off of him. It worked great and he survived the winter just fine.
This year when I put the heating pad and berm back in for cold weather, I added a camera so I could get motion alerts and check in on him. He wasted no time making himself at home...
The camera has night vision so I can even see him sleeping in the dark...
And so... I guess Fake Jake is set for another cold winter.
As for me? I need to wash blankets. And get winter tires on my car. And hibernate.
Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
You know how you can take two breakfast cereals you like, mix them together, and end up liking the result even more than the individual cereals? Magic! I experiment with food mix-ups like that a lot. I do it with a lot of different foods, but cereals have always been my favorite. I made Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cereal by mixing Cocoa Puffs with Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter before actual Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cereal existed.
The best food mix-ups always seem to be accidents.
I was eating some freeze-dried apples and remembered that I had bought some Apple Pie OREOs that I hadn't cracked open yet. So I grabbed a few cookies and found them to be surprisingly good but not great.
As I ate the last cookie I had in my hand, I picked up the bad of freeze-dried apples and noticed there were some crumbs in the bottom, so I poured them in my mouth and...
No, it's not apple pie. But it's a lot closer in flavor than the OREOs on their own. And it's darn tasty.
And so now I'm completely addicted to Apple Pie OREOs mixed with freeze-dried apples.
Until the next mix-up comes along.
Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2018
If there's one thing that I'll never run out of, it's mayonnaise. This is by far my favorite condiment, and I eat it at a crazy pace. I love it on fries, sandwiches, grilled cheese, salads, dressings... a lot of things, really.
Not long ago when I was cleaning out my refrigerator, I had six bottles/jars of the stuff... with at least another six in the pantry...
My favorite mayo is Dutch mayo for its delicious flavor and oh-so-creamy texture. But it's pretty expensive since it has to be imported. The easiest-to-find mayo that I buy most regularly is Best Foods (Hellmann's to some areas of the country). I like Duke's but it has to be bought via mail order because they don't sell it here.
I loathe "light mayonnaise." It tastes just awful... and usually has a harsh lemony taste to compensate for whatever it is they suck out of it to make it "light." I would really like to go vegan so poor chickens don't have to be exploited to make real mayonnaise... but there's no vegan stuff I've tried that I really want to eat (I've added a small section on that to the end of this post).
You have to be careful here, because some people want to group mayo-like dressings and sauces in with actual mayo (like Miracle Whip). Well, newsflash, MIRACLE WHIP IS NOT MAYO! Not to say I don't like it, because I do (especially on grilled cheese and in macaroni salad... at least until they made it water-based instead of oil-based), but when I need mayo it's not going to cut it. Here is what does...
Flavor: creamy dreamy • Texture: creamy • Score: 10
Here it is... the mayo to beat all mayo. Unlike American mayo, Dutch mayo is so creamy and velvety without any kind of gross gelatinous gloppiness to it. And when it comes to flavor, it's sublime because it doesn't have this overwhelmingly eggy taste... but still tastes like mayo. Great on sandwiches. Great in salad dressing. No need to mix with ketchup for your fries, it's flawless straight out of the bottle. My favorite over any American mayo by a mile.
Flavor: creamy dreamy • Texture: creamy • Score: 9.5
When tasting this Dutch miracle side-by-side with Remia, they're very close. And I'd take either one over any American mayo any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I think I give Remia the edge because that's the one that's easiest for me to find. Remia also has a slightly cleaner taste to me.
Duke's Real Mayonnaise
Flavor: tangy great • Texture: gelatinous but creamy • Score: 8
If somebody is going to battle me to the death over my Best Foods (Hellmann's) addiction, this is the mayo they're willing to fall on their sword for. The texture is definitely a little oily but mostly creamy... even a little creamier than Best Foods... but what I like about it is that it's all zip and doesn't have a sweet taste to it. For that reason, this is the American mayo I prefer for fries. But not sandwiches, where it can easily take too much away from other toppings. When it comes to salad dressing, this one is in a toss-up with Best Foods. If I have sweet toppings on my salad (like dried cranberries or candied walnuts) I'll go with Best Foods because it compliments better. If it's just veggies, give me Dukes, where that added tang is appreciated.
Best Foods (Hellmann's) Real Mayonnaise
Flavor: baseline great • Texture: gelatinous glop from hell • Score: 7.5
This is essentially the "baseline" mayo for me. It's what my great grandmother used. It's what my grandmother used. It's what my mother used. It's what I use most times. The flavor profile is eggy but clean with a hint of sweetness. Where it falls way, way short is the texture, which manages to be creamy when spread, but a gelatinous glob when you spoon it out. For this reason I like it on sandwiches and burgers quite a lot... salad dressing okay... and fries not at all. I might have put Best Foods (Hellmann's) above Duke's for sheer nostalgia's sake, but they went and changed the recipe in the early 2000's. And not for the better. I don't know that I taste a heck of a lot of difference from what I remember (I'm probably romanticizing it) but it doesn't seem the same.
Flavor: savory eggy bliss • Texture: creamy • Score: 7
Japanese mayonnaise is equal parts Dutch mayo, American mayo, and Miracle Whip... but not in a bad way. And while I don't know that I would want to eat this all the time because it has a bitter note to it, I very much like having it in my mayo arsenal. Good on fries. Fantastic on sandwiches. Amazing on vegetables and salads. I really like dipping grilled cheese in it. The secret? MSG. Ah yes. That much-maligned savory additive that freaks Americans the fuck out for no good reason. So much so that when Kewpie decided to start selling direct to the American market they dropped the MSG! I haven't tried the MSG-free version, I have no plans to do so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with MSG, and the bullshit myth that's propagated through the USA is pretty stupid. And, according to Anthony Bourdain, racist. Find out more right here. NOTE: The primary ingredients for Kewpie are oil, egg yolks, rice wine vinegar, salt, and MSG. But there are also "spice" and "natural flavors" in the ingredients. Whether or not one of those "natural ingredients" is fish-derived, I do not know. Being as this comes from Japan I wouldn't doubt it. As a vegetarian, this bothers me somewhat but, since I eat it only on rare occasions, I just pretend there isn't.
Kraft Real Mayo
Flavor: sweet and serviceable • Texture: gelatinous • Score: 6.5
If you were to look up "generic mayo" in the dictionary, a photo of Kraft Real Mayo would be sitting there. It's not bad... but not particularly great either. Mostly due to it's sweet taste, which is kind of bizarre in a sandwich. Not good for fries by itself, but when mixed with relish and ketchup it can work.
Flavor: weird • Texture: gelatinous • Score: 5.5
This is the new kid on the block and one I was quite anxious to try because they claim to be the creamiest mayo out there. Could it be as creamy as Dutch mayo? Only one way to find out... so I ordered a couple bottles. First of all... LIES! It's the same gelatinous texture you'll find in most American mayo. The first thing I did when I got the bottle was to squeeze out a bit then shake the bottle. If it were truly creamy, it would have some "flow" to it. But it most certainly does not. It "breaks" in the bottle and hangs together in a gloppy mass. Even worse, the flavor is "off" in a way I can't quite describe. Not necessarily from the ingredients, but because of the way they process it maybe? Not heinous, but not something I plan on buying again either.
Sir Kensington's Mayonnaise
Flavor: weird • Texture: gelatinous • Score: 5
Everybody was raving about Sir Kensington's Fabanaise vegan mayo, so when I ordered some to try I ordered a jar of their "real" mayo as well. I don't exactly hate it... but it's got a weird taste to it. Kind of a lemony toxic waste flavor that lingers in an odd way. It's almost bordering on Miracle Whip, but not really. Might be okay in a potato salad? Wouldn't buy again.
Flavor: sweet on the back-end • Texture: gelatinous • Score: 5
Despite coming from Alabama, I actually bought this when I was passing through Mississippi. This is another Miracle Whip wannabe masquerading as mayonnaise. I liked it on a grilled cheese sandwich, but almost nowhere else. It was pretty abysmal on fries.
Blue Plate Mayonnaise
Flavor: sweet vinaigrette • Texture: gelatinous glop • Score: 5
A New Orleans staple, I was crushed that I didn't know to pick up a jar in my many visits to the city, so I had a blog reader send this to me to try. My initial thought is that it's trying to imitate Duke's, but is doing a bad job of it. If I was having this plain on a salad it might be okay... but there's this strong vinegar taste that is fighting a weird sweetness that comes off all wrong to me.
Whole Foods 365 Mayonnaise
Flavor: overly eggy • Texture: gelatinous glop • Score: 4.5
This tastes more like light mayo than traditional mayo to me... saturated in weird lemon overtones in an effort to be tangy. Like they ran out of vinegar and just decided to dump extra lemon juice in there to compensate. Absolutely terrible on fries, even when mixed with ketchup... but not entirely terrible in an egg-salad sandwich (which is the only place I used this stuff until it expired and had to be thrown out). If there's a redeeming quality to this it's that it's not as heinous as the Whole Foods vegan mayo, which is foul.
Safeway Organics Mayonnaise
Flavor: grotesque • Texture: gelatinous • Score: 4
This is the skunk weed of mayo. It has a bizarre taste (dirt?) that lingers on your tongue and kills your palate. The texture is okay for an American mayo, but I'll only use this when there's nothing else available. If I have this on fries, it has to be mixed with a lot of ketchup.
Look, the stuff is not mayonnaise. It's just not. So stop trying to make vegan mayo happen. Sure, some are more tolerable than others, but I just don't care for it. The stuff will never take the place of authentic real mayonnaise.
Sir Kensington's Fabanaise
Anybody saying that this is "just as good as regular mayonnaise" is seriously deluded. That being said, this would be my go-to mayo if I decided to go vegan. It lacks the density of a good traditional mayo, but has a decent substitute flavor profile that isn't awful.
Best Foods (Hellmann's) Vegan Mayo
No, it's not the same as Best Foods... not even close... but it's at least serviceable as a sandwich condiment, even if it doesn't really taste like mayo to me.
Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
This is the very first vegan mayo I tried (it may be the very first ever made) and I found it gag-inducing. Threw out the jaw after trying just once. But... that was a very long time ago. I may be more tolerable of it if I tried it now knowing what I know about vegan mayo substitutes.
Hampton Creek Just Mayo
How the fuck can you call this "just mayo" when there's no eggs in it? It takes like whipped oil. Greasy and flavorless. You could probably use it to lubricate door hinges, but I wouldn't eat the stuff.
Whole Foods 365 Organic Vegan Mayo
So gross. Offensively gross. I would rather go without mayo than eat this slop.
And that's that.
At least until the next jar I find to try.
Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2018
A couple days ago when I was at the grocery store I decided to grab a couple frozen bean & cheese burritos. They're handy for when I need a quick dinner or lunch and don't want to cook. But when I went to pull one out of the freezer case, I was shocked to see that they were THREE DOLLARS AND FIFTY-FIVE CENTS EACH! They were just 99¢ a minute ago! What happened?
That's when I decided to make my own dang frozen burritos. I started with white rice, black beans, and some cheese. They turned out great. So great that I decided to make another batch... but this time use Mexican rice, seasoned beans, add some onions and green chilis for some flavor...
They are perfection!
So easy to make. So much better than the frozen ones I have been buying. And so cheap! Instead of $3.55 each, these are around $1 each, which is what I was looking for in the first place.
Just in case you might want to try making your own freezable burritos, here's my recipe...
Cook up a box of Mexican-style rice (or any rice you prefer). While that's going, dice one-half a medium onion and soften in a skillet with a little oil over low heat. Once it begins to turn translucent, stir in a couple tablespoons of diced green chilis. Add some ground pepper to taste. Drain a can of black beans and stir into the onion mixture. Once the rice has finished cooking, stir it into the rest. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large pan, soften burrito-sized flour tortillas over low heat for 10-15 seconds each side. Add two heaping spoonfuls of the bean/rice mixture to the tortilla, then sprinkle with as much cheese as you like (I use a lot!). Fold-up burrito-style. Wrap in foil and heat in an oven until cheese is melted and inside is hot (in my oven it's 350 degree heat for 17 minutes). I eat them with sour cream and guacamole. I get 8 burritos per batch, but you may get less if you fill them really full (or more if you skimp on filling).
IF YOU ARE GOING TO FREEZE THEM...
If you'll reheat them by microwaving, there's no need to wrap in foil. Just stick in a plastic baggie and get the air out before zipping them closed. If you'll reheat them in an oven, then wrap in foil before placing in plastic bags.
TO REHEAT FROM FROZEN IN THE MICROWAVE...
Open plastic bag and zap for a minute. Remove burrito from plastic bag, put on a plate, then massage the burrito to break up frozen bits. Transfer to a plate and microwave for another minute. I then massage again to make sure there are no frozen parts. Then I let sit for a minute and zap for another 20 seconds or so... which has them come out perfect in my microwave (kinda low-powered). Your microwave may vary.
But before I go...
I am gravely concerned about rising food costs. It's been bad in the past, but it's insane now. Some of that probably has to do with my small town grocery store having higher prices... but it's been a growing trend for quite a while even when I shop at a chain store in The Big City. Used to be $100 would fill the entire back seat of my car. Now I'm lucky to get three bags out of it. If this keeps up, how are people going to afford to eat? Something tells me that food ain't going to be getting any cheaper any time soon.
Posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2018
Now that I'm waking up to frost on my car, it seems like a good time to pull out the electric blanket. This is a wintertime essential for two reasons. The first is that it saves money on heat because I'm heating just my bed instead of the entire house. And the second? It's Jenny's favorite thing.
And now Blogograpy presents: The Three Stages of Electric Blanket (according to Jenny)...
1. What? What's This?!? So Jenny hops up onto the bed and immediately notices that something is different. Is that... warmth? She decides to test it out by plopping her butt down on the bed...
2. Warmth! Glorious Warmth! At this point Jenny is rolling all over the bed trying to decide what part of her body she wants to heat up first...
3. Heat Isn't Enough! The newfound warmth is okay and all, but that's no replacement for tummy rubs, which she demands as well...
Jake likes the heat too. It's nice to have a warm bum while cleaning your junk...
And speaking of Jake... a setback.
Last night while I was watching television, Jake made a spectacular vomit spew from the top level of the cat tower. Before his urinary tract problems, he never vomited. The only time he ever vomited was when his urinary problems started, so now I'm terrified that he's sick again. The poor kitty just can't catch a break. And neither can I, apparently...
I'm honestly not sure what to make of Jake since he got back from his week-long stay at the vet. He still seems terrified to be left alone. When I'm home, he's on me the entire time... or, lately now, snuggled up to his sister. Jenny tolerates it quite well... until she doesn't. At which time he's right back on me. — When I'm gone he is agitated at first, but sleeps alone or hangs out in the catio alone and seems fine with it. Maybe it will just take a while for him to get over the trauma of all he went through. I hope he'll eventually get back to his "normal." In the meanwhile, it's cute to see him snuggling up to his sister at night...
And to have a warm, fuzzy interruption from work when he wants to cuddle up next to me...
At night he still wants to sleep with me or, to be more accurate, on top of me...
Though now that there's an electric blanket on the bed, it seems like he'd rather sleep on that and just lean up next to me instead...
Jake is not one for selfies, as you can tell...
Health-wise, Jake is still peeing far too often... but both the Upstairs and Downstairs Litter-Robots are reporting that the number of uses per day is trending downwards, so maybe one day he'll be back to where he used to be...
The high peak is when I bought Jake home. The valley before the peak is when Jake was at the hospital and only Jenny was using the boxes. The day after he came back, the Litter-Robot was used thirty-six times. Poor kitty. My vet isn't concerned... yet... but I sent and email on Friday just to ask again if this is normal and will eventually subside.
It can't be fun going to the bathroom ten times a day.
Posted on Sunday, October 21st, 2018
Another weekend of winterizing, plus cleaning out my garage... but there's still a warm spot in my heart... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• BOSTON!!! Congratulations to my beloved Boston Red Sox as they head to The World Series!
And then there's this, which is pretty funny...
SUCK IT, YANKEES! BWAH HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!
• Sears. Five years ago, my local Sears store closed. As I mentioned at the time, Sears was a huge chunk of my childhood, as that's where my first PC was purchased (an Atari 800) and the games and software that I grew up with (viva la Infocom!) all came from there...
I drew this Atari 800 for the cover of Kevin Savetz's terrific book, Terrible Nerd!
So hearing that Sears is now in bankruptcy is met with a note of sadness for me. After all these decades, my local store is still ingrained in my memory. I remember everything about it. I remember exactly where the computer aisle was located. I remember what the display looked like. I remember the sound that the glass door made when it was unlocked to retrieve a box of software. I remember how excited I was when my family made a trip to Sears where I would immediately run to the computers to see what was new. That's how it was all done back in the 80's. The public internet didn't exist... certainly not like it is now. Computer magazines were always outdated the minute they were printed. There was pre-release information here and there, but I never really knew what was real until I saw it at Sears.
And now it's likely the entire chain will be gone forever. It's a tough hit to take, even though the only reason I'd ever shop there (if I even knew where to find one) was maybe for tools. Or appliances. Godspeed, Sears, you will always be in my heart.
• Owls. I've watched this too many times this past week...
Owls are such awesome creatures.
• Security! "Social Security, let’s lay it to rest once in for all... Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or erasing or lowering the deficit."
Once more for the dumbfucks in the back... YOU FUCKING PAID FOR YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE! IT'S TAKEN OUT OF YOUR FUCKING PAYCHECK! So when gaping assholes like Mitch McConnell and other Republican crooks start talking about cutting these programs to cover tax cuts for the rich and out-of-control government spending, THEY ARE STEALING FROM YOU. I honest-to-God do not understand why anybody in their right mind continues to support these pieces of shit when they are openly committed to the destruction of the working middle class. They are for themselves (like all politicians) and their wealthy puppet-masters. And nobody else. So unless you are the 1%, voting for these turds is only cutting your own throat.
• Of Note. We live in hypocritical times...
It's been pretty wild to watch the MAGA crowd go from "Saudi Arabia is an evil regime and Hillary is working with them" to "so what if Saudi Arabia murders a journalist, he had it coming probably, and Saudi Arabia is giving us a lot of money for our weapons"— PeterNorway (@classiclib3ral) October 19, 2018
It’s been quite a day for people who think abortion is murder but insist that an actual murder is okay if the people responsible are spending $100 million on mass murder weapons— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) October 18, 2018
And, just in case there was any doubt whatsoever that Pat Robertson is a steaming pile of shit... here you go...
Excusing evil for lots of money in weapons sales, just like Jesus taught us!
And had it been a Christian journalist... a journalist from TBN... who was hacked apart with a bone saw? He would be calling for President Clownface VonFuckstick to nuke Saudi Arabia. This fucker cannot die fast enough. Not that I am unaware that there are dozens of assholes waiting to take his place, but still...
• Millennium.I liked the original Swedish movie trilogy based on the famous "Millennium Trilogy" of book... I *loved* the US adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was about as flawless as movies get. Daniel Craig was great... Rooney Mara was unbelievably great... she was Lisbeth Salander. Which is why I was really sad to learn that they would not be reprising their roles for the upcoming The Girl in the Spider's Web. Instead we're getting Claire Foy, which is not a terrible choice... but it's not Rooney Mara...
Fingers crossed. Lisbeth Salander is too good a character to be wasted.
And that's the end of bullets on this fine Sunday morning!
Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2018
As I've undoubtedly made very clear here on my blog... my entire home is run by Alexa (Amazon's "Echo" voice assistant). I don't touch light switches because I just tell Alexa to turn stuff off and on. I don't adjust the thermostat, because I can just tell Alexa to change the temperature. She also turns the television off and on and changes the channels for live TV. She plays my music. She manages my shopping list. She tracks the weather and can Google questions for me. She is everywhere in my home from my garage to my living room to my kitchen to my bedroom to my bathroom. There is no part of my home that I can't reach Alexa, and she does absolutely everything for me.
Most of the time.
Sometimes she decides that she doesn't understand me, and it drives me insane...
ME: Alexa, turn on stair light.
ALEXA: I don't know the device "star light."
ME: ALEXA, TURN ON STAAAAAAAARE LIGHT!
ALEXA: =plays acknowledgement tone=
ME: ALEXA, WAS THAT SO HARD YOU $#@&!%#& #!$#@#?!??
ALEXA: =plays acknowledgement tone=
This is so stupid. I don't have a "star light" and I guarantee you I am not saying "star light" when I talk to her. You would think that she would learn that I am actually saying "stair light" because I've corrected her a hundred times, but no. I should look into seeing if there's a way of listing alternative names to a device so I can just enter "star light" as an option... but I'm too lazy.
And just this morning I wanted to listen to Haerts, which is pronounced "Harts" by the band (Hearts). Getting Alexa to understand is an exercise in frustration...
ME: Alexa, play "Wings" by "Harts."
ALEXA: Playing "Wings" by Heart Cardio.
ME: ALEXA, STOP!!!! YOU $#@&!%#& #!$#@#?!??
ME: Alexa, play "Wings" by "Hurts."
ALEXA: Playing "Wings" by Ruan Hurtgen.
ME: ALEXA, STOP!!!! YOU $#@&!%#& #!$#@#?!??
ME: Alexa, play "Wings" by "HAIRTZ".
ALEXA: Playing "Wings" by "Hurts."
ME: ALEXA, WHAT THE FUCK?!??
ALEXA: =plays acknowledgement tone=
At this point, I'm wanting to take Alexa and throw her through the fucking window.
If I had wanted "Heart Cardio" don't you think I would have fucking said "Heart Cardio?" If I would have wanted "Ruan Hurtgen" don't you think I would have fucking said "Ruan Hurtgen?" Why in the hell is Alexa ADDING SHIT to what I'm saying? And why is it that she doesn't understand Haerts as "Hurts" WHEN THAT'S WHAT SHE FUCKING CALLS THEM?!? This shit makes no sense.
And then there's this fucking bullshit...
ME: Alexa, play "Always" by Pet Shop Boys.
ALEXA: Playing "Always on My Mind" by Pet Shop Boys.
ME: ALEXA, STOP!!!! YOU $#@&!%#& #!$#@#?!??
ME: Alexa, play "Always 2017 Remastered Version" by Pet Shop Boys.
ALEXA: Playing "Always on My Mind 2013 Remastered Version" by Pet Shop Boys.
ME: ALEXA, STOP!!!! YOU $#@&!%#& #!$#@#?!??
ME: Alexa, play "Always 2017" by Pet Shop Boys.
ALEXA: Playing "Always 2017 Remastered Version" by Pet Shop Boys.
ME: ALEXA, WHAT THE FUCK?!??
ALEXA: =plays acknowledgement tone=
Don't get me wrong... Alexa is utterly amazing. I rely on her for So. Many. Things. and can't imagine going back to a life without her in it.
But come on. Amazon needs to do a hell of a lot better than this mess.
A good start would be to STOP ADDING FUCKING WORDS TO WHAT I'M SAYING AND JUST DO SPECIFICALLY WHAT I AM ASKING FOR. Also? It would be really great if what Alexa says matches what she understands. If she things Haerts is pronounced "Hurts" then fine. But when I ask her to play something by "Hurts" and get something by "Ruan Hurtgen" so I have to say "Hairtz?" That's just fucked up.
And if you were to tell the 1980's me that I would be bitching about my voice assistant not playing the correct Pet Shop Boys song I asked her to, I think my head would have exploded... so there's that.
But right now? I am left wondering if Alexa would break through the window... or weather she would just bounce off it. Because I really don't have the money to go replacing windows.
UPDATE: THIS! ALL THIS! I FEEL YOUR PAIN, ADORABLE LITTLE GIRL!
=dies of cuteness overload=
Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018
I'm not sure why I'm still blogging. Most bloggers have hung it up or have happily moved on to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I'm just stubborn, probably. I've been doing this for so long (over 15 years!) that I don't know anything else.
And so long as I'm here...
Blogs may be dead, but those of us still hanging around are facing a lot of interesting changes. Changes in the way content is created. Changes in the way content is used. Changes in the way content is displayed. Which means bloggers are faced with two options... keep doing what they've been doing, or change with the times.
Wordpress (the blogging platform I use) is pushing hard for change. And the first step is coming November with Wordpress 5.0 and their new content editor... Gutenberg. It will allow for a lot of interesting new ways to create and display content. Whether or not users will take advantage of this is anybody's guess...
The templates used for Blogography's design are hand-coded to look like I wanted them to appear. For me to be able to display content properly from the Gutenberg editor and the new Wordpress "block-based" rendering engine (now and in the future) everything will have to be re-coded. I honestly don't know if I can invest the kind of time required... but hopefully.
Time to change with the times.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018
Early voting is in progress in many places around the country. Here in Washington State where we vote by mail, the ballots have been arriving for a week now. If you're lucky enough to get to vote early, you might want to check into that so you can avoid the madness of November 6th. Because these days it's more important than ever to let your voice be heard, especially at a time when assholes are working overtime to rob some of us of that right.
There are people have died for your right to vote, so listen to John Lewis and GO VOTE...
Assuming that you haven't been purged and are able to vote, that is.
Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2018
My addiction to television is not something new. I've loved television since I was able to watch television. Now-a-days it's mostly used as background noise while I work. But back when I was in school in the 70's and 80's and didn't have to work day and night? It was more like an obsession. What else was there to do?
My favorite shows of the day were comedies, action, and escapist television. MacGyver, Magnum, P.I., The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers, The A-Team, Knight Rider, WKRP in Cincinnati, Simon & Simon, M*A*S*H, Hawaii Five-0, Three's Company, Wonder Woman, Quincy M.D., Vega$, The Greatest American Hero, The Love Boat, and... Fantasy Island. Stuff like that.
Admittedly that last one, Fantasy Island, was a bit of an anomaly. Mainly because I preferred science fiction, adventure, and super-heroes to fantasy. But there was something... dark... about that show which appealed to me. I always suspected that, despite the pretense, Mr. Roarke was secretly malevolent and evil... and the island was some kind of purgatory. This view was vindicated when the show was rebooted with Malcolm McDowell in 1993, and Roarke's true nature was no longer a secret.
Don't get me started on Lost, which I have long maintained was a shittier version of Fantasy Island except none of the writers knew what in the hell they were doing. They just threw a bunch of shit at the wall in the hopes that something would prove interesting enough to stick. Which was great for one season... but after that? Blergh.
The one part of Fantasy Island which I was indifferent to was Tattoo... Mr. Roarke's sidekick and comic relief. He always felt like a distraction more than anything else. And most times when I was annoyed with the show, it was because Tattoo was doing something stupid. I never gave much thought to the actor behind the role, Hervé Villechaize.
And now there's this...
I've always liked Peter Dinklage as an actor... long before Game of Thrones. He was amazing in The Station Agent... he was my favorite part of the short-lived television show I'm With Her. But playing Hervé Villechaize in HBO's My Dinner with Hervé was a golden opportunity for him which he did not squander. But, then again, I had no doubt that he would be brilliant in the role. The real surprise in all this was Jamie Dornan... somebody I had completely written off when he signed on to the Fifty Shades dreck.
Ultimately the HBO movie was decent enough and worth watching, but felt superficial when it came to actually giving us any insight into Hervé Villechaize. This seems odd considering this is the whole reason people would be tuning in, but I guess something is better than nothing?
Probably. Up until now all I knew was that he was Knick-Knack and Tattoo.
Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2018
This Friday blows.
I'm not even supposed to be here today.
But since I am here... I've decided to watch the movies I pre-ordered when I coud afford to be buying movies. The first was The Spy Who Dumped Me which I don't even remember buying. I don't even know why I would buy it. I do know why I would watch it, however. I would watch anything with Mila Kunis in it...
It was better than I thought it would be, but still a movie to rent, not a movie to buy. Even though it has some good jokes in it.
The other movie appearing in my iTunes? The Incredibles 2...
I saw this in theaters because I loved the first one so much. I still consider the original to be the best representation of The Fantastic 4 to ever hit the silver screen... and one of the best super-hero movies ever made. The sequel? I don't know if I would go that far, but it was still a highly entertaining film. And beautifully-designed.
Which is why I bought it. I wanted to be able to step through it frame by frame and just marvel at how amazing everything looks. Also... I love how they took one of my favorite games, Portal, and made it into a super-hero called Voyd. Up until now, we've only gotten to see Doctor Strange and Wong create "portals" in the movies.
And now I want to watch Avengers: Infinity War for the sixth time.
Or play some Portal.
Or maybe... just maybe... both!
Posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2018
The weather has been particularly overcast, grey, and cold this week. For me it's been kinda depressing. For my cats though? Totally depressing. Neither of them have felt like doing much of anything. They don't want to play. Or explore. Or run around. They just want to sleep. And it's become somewhat of a routine for them. I get home from work. I watch TV for an hour. Then I make everybody some dinner. After dinner Jenny will jump on the couch next to me and just lay there. Sometimes she'll sleep.
Though yesterday morning I put some jeans on the table so I could fold them. I turned my back to clean out the lint trap in my dryer and...
I left them there in case she might want to nap there after dinner. But, alas... right back on the couch...
Maybe I need to look into Kitty Prozac?
As for Jake? He's still sleeping on top of me every night. He's mostly back to normal after the vet, but this has lingered...
Not that I mind... I just wish I had a handle on whether he's doing okay or this is indicative of a problem. He's still peeing a lot. Too much. But he is peeing, which is the important thing. If not... another trip to the vet is in our future.
And that is something none of us want.
Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2018
It's a surprisingly beautiful day after a surprisingly nasty night, but the sun isn't the only ray of light to bless my day... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Humanity. If you visit Wikipedia's page on terrorist incidents worldwide, you'll notice something interesting. At first the list is by decade. Then by year. Then it's by half-year. Then it skips right past quarter-year and is listed by month. And it occurs to me that we may very well get to the point where it will be listed by week. At some point we will either escape from this downward spiral or destroy ourselves utterly...
With the murders at the Pittsburgh synagogue which, let's be honest, is a terrorist act as much as it's a hate crime, my hope for humanity is diminished yet again. At this point people may survive humanity... but I'm pretty sure actual humanity is headed towards extinction. There are bright spots to be sure... but the fact that somebody could enter into a place of worship (again) and murder multiple civilians (again) has me wondering if our inevitable extinction is something worth crying over. Look what we have become.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Protections. The desensitization which our minds develop to protect our sanity from the horrific onslaught of non-stop tragedy in the world is failing me. Pittsburgh ended up being one of my favorite American cities. And nobody was more surprised by this than I was. I went there to visit the Hard Rock Cafe and was expecting some big dirty steel town backwater... only to find one of the most beautiful cities on earth with a city-culture that is uniquely Pittsburgh and wholly wonderful. Which is why the devastating attack on Pittsburgh's Jewish community which left 11 people dead and 6 people injured has hit me harder than I thought it would. My desensitization protections are failing me. Just as they did with the Boston Marathon bomber in another city I love. Just as New York. Just as London. Just as Paris. Just as in every city I've been to that I fall in love with. Which, as I'm just now realizing, is most cities I visit. And they're all fodder for political points more than they are the home of innocent people. Lord knows how my mind is supposed to protect itself now.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Essential. Wow. Patriot Act is everything I dreamed it would be. And Hasan is starting out with a bang by examining Saudi Arabia and Affirmative Action in a way that few other people could...
Essential viewing. Essential.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
• Privilege. Here we go again...
As a white guy, it's easy for me to say that I would have told this racist piece of shit to go fuck herself sideways, because I would totally do that. I have done that... and for far less. But I have that privilege. A white person can tell another white person to go fuck themselves and it usually doesn't result in somebody calling the police (so long as it doesn't turn violent). But if a Mexican were to do that? The cops would be called and they'd probably be arrested for assaulting a white lady. Or even shot. So if you're looking for a way to put your privilege to good use, stepping up and telling racists pieces of shit to go fuck themselves when they act like garbage towards minority persons minding their own business while trying to live their lives is a good start.
• Anecdotal. Case in point.
And now? I'd like to say I'm going out to enjoy this glorious day. But instead I'm going to work. Until next Sunday then!
Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2018
First of all...
I wish I could say that I never doubted... but there were definitely some moments! That third game? EIGHTEEN INNINGS loss to The Dodgers? Brutal. And I watched the entire thing from beginning to end while holding my breath. Last night was easier, but I was still a bit anxious all the way through. This is baseball, after all.
Blogography has never been a money-making endeavor. Even when I sold stuff it was always at-cost, which usually meant I lost money in the end. Nope, this is just a place to write my thoughts of the day and I never wanted to clutter it up with ads and other crap.
But that hasn't stopped people from trying to advertise here.
For a while there, I had a Google Page Rank of 7 out of 10. This is about as good as it can possibly get for a personal blog (8 and higher means you're a massively popular site like Apple or YouTube). Despite saying that I don't want ads unless you're willing to pay an obscene amount of money on my About Page, I was getting advertising requests several times a week. Vitamin supplements, clothing, vacation packages, makeup, cameras... even other blogs. I very nearly buckled when I got an offer of $1800 for six months... but it was for a sketchy online gambling site, so I declined.
Over the years my Google traffic has remained fairly good, but my Page Rank has plummeted to 5. When I read up on what this means, I found that it's because I am not using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and am not actively building link-backs. Oh well. The benefit of a lower rank means that people stopped bothering me for ads, so there was a silver lining to all of it.
Then, as the internet turned into a social media machine instead of being blog-driven, Google Page Rank fell out of favor with advertisers. Sure it's still kinda a big deal if you're trying to make money... Page Rank says where you'll end up in a Google search, after all. But since social media is so huge and bypasses Google's ranking system, it's not the indicator of a website's draw power (especially blogs) like it used to be.
This little blog has been around for a very long time, is updated constantly, has a massive amount of content, and has hugely diverse number of topics (seriously, is there anything I won't write about?). On top of that, it currently has 105,483 backlinks and 1,428 referring domains. Which is nothing to sneeze at. Which is why I still occasionally get advertising offers. Like this one, which was waiting for me when I checked my email this morning...
Another sketchy gambling site, I'm sure.
Maybe... maybe... I would run an ad luring people to lose all their money if I were offered $10,000 annually. Maybe even $5,000 if I get another vet bill (STAY HEALTHY, JAKE!). But I'm not quite that desperate... yet.
Maybe I should be?
I dunno. If you ever see an ad on my blog, I haven't necessarily sold out or given up. It's just that I need the cash and my body ain't pulling on the street corner like it used to.
Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2018
This morning I woke up with Jake passed out on top of me... which has become his new normal since he got back from the vet. He doesn't like sleeping alone anymore. Also normal? Him running off to pee first thing after waking up. Ever since the procedure to unblock his bladder, he's been peeing... a lot. Ten times a day.
What was not normal was him digging a hole in the Litter-Robot... peeing... covering it up. Digging another hole... peeing again... covering it up. Digging another hole... peeing again... covering it up. Digging another hole... peeing again... covering it up. Digging another hole... peeing again... covering it up. That's five times peeing with one trip to the litter box.
His frustration was obvious, and I felt so bad for him that I decided to call the vet and find out if he should come in.
The answer, of course, was "yes."
Which caused my heart to sink, because my cats do not travel well. It's hugely traumatic. Jenny goes catatonic. But Jake? Jake just freaks out. He meows and howls and cries the entire way. Which is odd, because normally he can't meow. This time was even worse than last. More "howling" instead of "meowing"...
I usually try and time my arrival at the vet very close to the appointment time so my cats aren't left fretting for too long. Because whether it's in the car or in the waiting room, being trapped in a kitty carrier is not their idea of a good time...
Things were running about 20 minutes late at the vet, which made a bad situation worse. Eventually Jake just kinda collapsed in exhaustion...
Once in the examination room, Jake was so whipped from the trip that he didn't have the energy to do anything but cower on the table. He was clinging to me like glue, which was pretty tough to take. Poor little guy. The doctor explained that there could be any number of things going on, but a urine sample was the best place to start trying to figure things out.
That sounded logical to me... except Jake had peed in the kitty carrier (something he's never done before), so I didn't know if he had anything left in him. Turns out he did, so they went up his peepee spout to go get it. Yikes.
For the ride home, Jake was more inconsolable than usual. He was thrashing in the carrier so hard that I was terrified he'd hurt himself. And so I did something I never thought I would do because it seems like it would be even more traumatic... I let him out. I didn't care if he peed all over the place, I had to try something...
At first things were going great. He stopped crying and started exploring. Things got a little crazy when he decided he wanted to drive though...
And then things went bad again.
Very bad. He ran to the back window and started howling at passing cars... howling at the scenery... howling at road signs... howling at everything. Suddenly I felt like I might have made a terrible mistake...
And then? Right after we pulled into town he relaxed and just kind of whimpered the rest of the way home...
After pulling into my driveway I closed the garage door behind us, opened the car doors, and let him dash into the house.
Where he proceeded to drop and clean off all the vet smell...
Jenny had a tough time when Jake came home last time because he didn't smell right. This time he hadn't been gone long enough to develop a bad smell, so she was unfazed. That was good news.
Another piece of good news? Jake has lost almost a pound from when he was last at the vet! Now he's only about 1-2 lbs. overweight!
Though when I compare photos of Jake to really chubby cats, it doesn't look like he's doing so bad...
And now I wait for test results.
Hopefully they tell us something.
Hopefully it's an easy fix.
Hopefully I don't have to take Jake back to the vet any time soon.
Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
Pussy be expensive, yo.
Today I got a call-back from Jake's doctor telling me that there was a small amount of bacteria in his urine. So small that it could have easily come from the dye that they put on the urine slide so they can see stuff. The full laboratory testing is three days away, but the doc said he recommends going with a new regime of antibiotics plus a bladder relaxer plus a pain-killer plus an anti-inflammatory medication so that he's not suffering unnecessarily. I agreed, because it's been two weeks and the poor guy is still peeing ten times a day. And the fact that he is always sleeping on me might be an indication he's in pain or upset.
So off I went to pick up Jake's drugs.
Now, I fully admit that I was radically unprepared for the sticker shock that came from my cat's medications. When added to yesterday's vet visit and labs, we're past $500 now ($2,500 total since his initial visit four weeks ago). Some of that I'll get back in insurance reimbursement. But still... wow. I'm poor.
But the cost is not even the real pain here.
One of the pills has to be dumped out of a gel cap, dissolved in water, then shot into your cat's mouth with a syringe. This is the same stuff Jake was on when he came back from his procedure and it's fine. Jake doesn't like it, but he's chill enough that I got this. Kinda stupid they don't just sell it in liquid form, but whatevs.
I asked if it was the same routine with the other pills.
Of course it's not.
The pills taste awful, so you have to coax your cat into swallowing them. Something tells me that Jake will most definitely not be as chill as this cat...
They gave me a pen, but said it just makes things harder for some people...
And so... I'll give it a go. A part of me wanted to ask if I could give him the pills rectally since that's probably going to be easier than in his mouth, but I resisted. Somebody appearing to be anxious to shove pills up a cat's ass would probably have their cat taken away from them.
The final medication is a liquid. Oh happy day.
Or so I thought.
I asked if I could just drip it on Jake's food... but, alas, that was met with a resounding "no." Apparently it's even worse tasting stuff, so you really have to shoot that into their mouths so you can be sure they won't turn their nose up at it.
And... on top of all that... it's Halloween!
Last year I made the stupid, stupid mistake of scheduling a colonoscopy on November 1st so I had to pass out candy while undergoing my clean-out prep. Good Lord was that the scariest Halloween I've ever had.
Though this year was not without incident. Every Halloween I deep clean my kitchen while passing out candy. In the middle of it all, a plate slid off of a pile of other dishes and shattered into a billion pieces. Ironically, this is the Corelle stuff I bought for my mom to eat off of because, in her confusion, she ended up breaking a lot of dishes. It's supposed to be super-tough, but just look at this (please ignore the cat hair I managed to find)...
It took me a 45 minutes to clean up the breakage because shards of glass went everywhere. All the way from the kitchen though the dining room and into the living room! Such is the peril of having an "open concept" home! But I wanted to be sure I did a good job because I didn't want my cats getting hurt. I can't afford any more vet bills.
UPDATE: I figured since the liquid antibiotics tasted horrible, I would try being smart about Jake's pills. First I forced him to swallow the antibiotics... THEN I dropped his pill in some crunchy food. Since his mouth was already full of awful, maybe he wouldn't notice the bitter pill? AND IT WORKED! Totally chomped down that pill! Thank heavens. I am so grateful that I didn't have to shove that down his throat too.