Posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
Happy New Year's Day! Happy 2019!
I'm doing really well this morning since I decided to stay home and hang out with my cats instead of going out and drinking my weight in alcohol last night.
All was going well until the fireworks started blasting around 7:00pm. Jenny, who is usually the biggest scaredy cat over the smallest thing did surprisingly well. She was shocked at first, hid under the bed for a while, but was pretty much ignoring the noise an hour later. Jake, on the other hand, was scared out of his furry little mind. I was able to lure him out from under the bed with treats, but he was on edge the whole night and would be terrified whenever more fireworks would start banging.
Rather than be afraid alone, he decided to try and squeeze in next to Jenny on the coffee table cat bed where she had set up camp...
Jenny wouldn't budge, so Jake finally just shoved her out of the way...
Jenny was not at all happy about this. So she tried smacking him on the head to get him to leave...
When that didn't work, she decided biting him on the ear might be the answer...
Finally she decided to just squeeze in next to Jake like he had tried to do to her...
It kinda(?) worked...
I thought maybe she had succeeded in forcing him out just like he had forced her out...
But he was just getting re-situated and wasn't planning on going anywhere...
And so... they ended up sharing...
Which Jenny was not happy about because she couldn't get comfortable...
Finally she flipped around, which was just the ticket. Jake was happy to have something to hang onto since the fireworks were still going on...
But eventually Jenny was tired of being crowded and decided to find someplace else to ride out the firework noise. Jake looked a little depressed after she left...
If only cats could just do a couple shots of Jägermeister to make everything better.
Fortunately belly rubs work just as well...
But more on that tomorrow...
Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019
At the end of 2018 my mom's post office box expired and I closed it out. I had kept it open for six months so I could be sure to get all her remaining bills paid. Also to find out who hadn't heard she had died and was still sending her cards and letters and such. All she's getting now is mail from places like Degree of Honor and AARP Life Insurance. I have been marking up their crap "DECEASED - RETURN TO SENDER" for months, but they won't stop sending. I've even called them and sent them letters (strange they don't have email) but AARP Life Insurance is still mailing her every damn week. No exaggeration. EVERY WEEK! How the fuck can they afford that postage bill?
For some reason I thought that shutting down a PO Box would act as some kind of closure.
Of course it wasn't.
I've gotten rid of her clothes. I've gotten rid of her furniture. Heck, I've gotten rid of most of her possessions.* None of that worked. How stupid was I to think that letting go of a frickin' PO Box go was going to be any different? I dunno. Maybe I was just being optimistic. Or naive.
There will probably never be closure when your mom dies. Even if you weren't as fantastically close to her as I was.
Last night when I was burning through episodes of Schitt's Creek in an attempt to get caught up before the fifth season starts in a couple weeks, I noted that Marie Kodo has a new show on Netflix!
For those not in the know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizational consultant who developed the "KonMari Method" of tidying your home. I discovered her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up before I bought my new place. I used her methods once with my possessions before moving in. Then let things settle for a year before using her method once more to sort through my mother's things, simplify my life, and declutter my new home. It's a magical process that's difficult to explain to people who have not studied it or seen it in action. It's essentially forming a relationship with your stuff and only surrounding yourself with things that "spark joy."
KonMari changed my life.
My garage, for example, used to be a heinous mess with crap stacked to the rafters. I couldn't even park in it, things were such a mess. After KonMari, I was able to get rid of 2/3 of my junk. A huge amount of that being travel souvenirs that were never organized and just tossed into boxes. But not anymore...
On the left is my wood supply, all organized and easy to get to. Next to that in the middle of the shelf is seven plastic bins for my souvenirs (I've since bough two more for a total of nine). Originally my souvenirs were in 22 massive boxes. Most of it was stuff I didn't even care about, so KonMari made it easy to pare down to a much more manageable level, all organized by country and stored vertically for easy access. The only other things I kept were my Hard Rock T-shirt collection, some of my mom's Christmas decorations, touch-up paint for the interior and exterior of my home (with paint supplies), winter tires, plus extra bathroom tiles and extra hardwood planks in case I need to replace anything. There's also some LEGO sets I'm keeping for my grand-nephew when he gets older. Everything else? Gone. Donated or trashed.
My biggest tidy improvement in my garage was going all KonMari on my tool collection. For the longest time they were just stacked in boxes. This did not spark joy. Eventually I found that having them all hanging on a wall so I could find them is the best way for me...
Kondo-san's Netflix show is a total of eight episodes.** They are entertaining and insightful, but I don't know how helpful they would be if you hadn't read her book. At best they just show you the process in action...
I didn't learn anything new from the show, but I did enjoy watching them (Marie Kondo is ten tons of adorable in a tiny package). If you're in need of tidying your home, check out the show and see if her book might be for you.
And now back to Schitt's Creek. I should be able to watch a couple more episodes before I have to go to work.
*I still have some of mom's collectibles I need to try and sell. I am sooooo not looking forward to that. But, what else is there? leave them boxed up in the garage until I die and somebody else has to deal with it? Better to get rid of it all now while I can. Another goal for 2019 to add to the list.
**Interesting to note that the seventh episode of Tidying Up has the song A Home to Come To over the closing credits which is from the No. 6 album on my Best Music of 2018 list. How is it that Silhouettes can have their music popping up all over and still be a mystery band you can barely find?
Posted on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019
Ages ago (when blogging was still a thing) I had "met" a guy named Craig on his blog, Puntabulous! It was one of the funniest things I've ever read and I became an immediate fan (so much so that I ended up guest-posting there). Sadly, Puntabulous! Has been lost to the ages (and the Wayback Machine has only spotty entries archived). Currently Craig's old site seems to have been poached by a Slovakian link farm or something, but we'll always have the memories!
Fast-forward nine years and I'm part of a gift exchange where, miracle of miracles, I get Craig's name. I'm never sure what I am supposed to buy for gift exchanges, so I decided to to mash-up some of his favorite things and make something for him (the only way I could be sure I wasn't getting him something he already had!). And those things are... LEGO, Power Rangers, Star Trek: The Next Generation, his boyfriend Steve, and his cabin.
Custom LEGO Craig posters it is then!
This is what I came up with...
I am a huge fan of LEGO video games, so I thought I could just draw little minifies doing fun things and be done with it. Except it was a lot harder than it looked to get them looking "real" so I ended up downloading a 3D model that I could pose in Blender...
Then drop them into the layouts I had come up with...
I didn't know much about the Power Rangers except that they would scream "It's Morphin Time!" and transform from super-powered-ninjas into robot dinosaurs. Or something like that. After little Google research I found out there were loads of Power Rangers series. I liked the logo for Ninja Steel because I could turn it into Ninja Craig. All I had to do was drop in Steve Blue Ranger and Rita Repulsa, and, done...
At first I had the same generic helmets for both Rangers but, upon closer inspection, I noticed that all the Rangers had different helmets! This meant I had to go back and re-draw them to be accurate...
I'm more of a "original series" guy than a "Next Generation guy," but had seen all the episodes (of course), so it was easy to decide what I wanted to do...
I drew Craig as Number One, Steve as Data, and was planning on putting a LEGO Enterprise-D in the background. But I could never get it to look recognizable in simple LEGO form. Then I did some cyber-stalking and found a photo of Craig wearing a T-shirt that had the "LEGO Space" logo drawn as an X-Wing circling the Death Star...
Very cool! The original logo is the one I grew up with and looks like this...
It was made cool again when they introduced Benny in The LEGO Movie ...
It was a simple matter to redraw it for Star Trek: The Next Generation like so...
My original idea (shown in my sketch above) was to have LEGO Craig in a majestic pose while Steve was being surprised by a bear in the background. The LEGO bear is a rare piece that goes for big money on eBay, but I was able to find enough photos of it that I could probably draw it. Problem is, the LEGO bear is kinda hard to recognize in a cartoon drawing, so I decided to give poor LEGO Steve a break and attempt to draw Craig's actual cabin in LEGO back there...
It ended up looking pretty good once I got the LEGO studs on the roof panels. Then I added some happy little LEGO trees and happy little LEGO plants and I was good to go. But my favorite part is the plaid shirt "print" on LEGO Craig...
Has me anxious for February 2019 to get here so I can see The LEGO Movie 2...
Who knew that LEGO DUPLO would end up being so evil?
Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2019
For the past two years, I've named Schitt's Creek "The Best Show You're Not Watching" in my annual television wrap-up. I just watched through all four seasons again to prepare for Season Five, airing on the 16th.
It's most definitely one of my favorite shows going, but it's tough to fit it on a list because I'm always behind while waiting for it to appear on Netflix. Now I see that POP TV is on my DirecTV, so I will finally be able to watch it when everybody else does. That'll be nice, and I anticipate that the upcoming fifth season will land on my Top Twelve at the end of 2019.
If you haven't seen it, the concept is pretty simple. An absurdly wealthy family loses all their money when their accountant doesn't pay their taxes. With no home to their name, they ends up moving to Schitt's Creek... the only asset they have left. It was bought as a joke for a birthday gift and was deemed too worthless by the IRS for them to bother taking it.
In the first and second season, much of the humor came from super-rich people having to adjust to their new life in a new town where the locals are very different from the people they're accustomed to.
I liked the show... didn't love it...
Then everything changed in the third season.
It was at that point that The Rose Family started accepting their new lot in life and began assimilating into the community. That's when the show became total genius and one of my favorite things ever. Since New Year's, I've been rewatching the first four seasons so I can be caught up before the new season starts on the 16th. I finished this morning.
Here's what I love about the show and why you should be watching...
BEST TELEVISION COUPLE: DAVID & PATRICK
I'm not even joking here. This is hands-down my favorite couple on television. When they first meet, Patrick is just another new local who is in charge of approving David's small business loan. And though you know that David is pansexual, their romance comes completely out of left field. And you're there from the very start...
They couldn't possibly be more opposite, but it's just one of the many things that makes their relationship so heartwarming and sweet. One thing's for sure, you'll never listen to Tina Turner's Simply the Best the same way again...
For people who say that they started watching Schitt's Creek but couldn't get into it, I tell them to skip right to the third season. Patrick appears half-way through, and everything about the show changes. The fourth season is even better. After that you'll want to go back and watch the first two.
BEST TELEVISION BEST FRIENDS: DAVID & STEVIE
Their relationship started as disdain... evolved into friendship... blossomed into friends with benefits... then landed on best friends...
David and Stevie end up best friends because it seems unlikely that they could be best friends with anybody else. It's funny, sweet, and just works...
BEST TELEVISION SIBLINGS: DAVID & ALEXIS
Spoiled from birth, they behave exactly as you think they would. For the most part, they seem indifferent to each other, but still make a hilarious team. And Alexis's never-ending stories of horrible situations she's escaped from is always interesting. Almost as interesting? The way she pronounces "David." Which she says constantly. Day-vhed... Day-vhed...
BEST TELEVISION FASHIONISTA: MOIRA ROSE
Catherine O'Hara has long been one of my favorite actors. Even so, nothing could prepare me for her mind-boggling performance as the Rose Family matriarch. She has adopted an accent for the role that's tough to pin down. She grew up "normal" so we can only imagine that she talks the way she does because that's how she imagines wealthy people speak. But it's not her accent that makes the character so insanely watchable... that's only part of it. What really makes Moira appealing is the outlandish wigs and outfits that she's always wearing. Where do they all come from? Who knows? You'd think she would have long since ran out of new fashion, but she's always got outfits waiting in the wings...
BEST TELEVISION EYEBROWS: JOHNNY ROSE
Eugene Levy is positively nuts on the show... even though most of the time it's his reaction to the state of things that's the most rational.
BEST TELEVISION REDNECK: MAYOR ROLAND SCHITT
Chris Elliott could have easily sleepwalked his every scene with this character, but seems to be injecting some genuine decency and sweetness into him. So instead of just being a bumbling, clueless, moron... he ends up being a genuinely nice guy that you want to root for instead of dismiss. His wife, Jocelyn, has a bit more going on when it comes to smarts. But that's probably because she's a high school teacher...
BEST TELEVISION BEARD: MUTT SCHITT
And you don't realize it until Alexis goes nearly catatonic after he shaves it off...
If you haven't seen Schitt's Creek, take a look.
If quirky humor is not your thing, jump to the third season. It's still quirky, but more grounded.
If you aren't in love with the show by the end of the last episode of season three, there's no hope for you my friend.
Posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2019
For the longest time after I got Jake and Jenny, they were completely silent. They didn't meow at me or try to communicate at all. I, on the other hand, talked to them all the time.
Then Jenny started talking back. Jake tried to talk back, but he can't meow for some reason (unless he's stressed out, apparently). He kinda squawks a bit though. Especially if I look in his direction and he wants to be petted. Jenny mostly wants kitty treats when she meows.
They don't talk to each other at all. They chase each other around from time to time, however. Otherwise they just kinda work around each other. Sometimes literally.
Jenny was sitting directly in front of the cat door looking at something outside. Jake then decides HE wants to look outside, but he can't see around his sister. He tries one side... then the other side... then goes back to the other side. And still can't see out. He was not happy...
Finally he figures out that if he twists his head, he can look past her...
He looked outside sideways for several minutes until Jenny got bored and left.
Jenny gets bored easily. Which is why I think she likes watching television so much. Her favorite thing to watch is Rick and Morty. But I was re-watching Isle of Dogs recently and she was totally absorbed...
After a while she decided she wanted to sit next to me while watching the movie, which is what she usually does...
She's too adorable, even if she has a couple floopy whiskers...
She's even more adorable when she decides that the drawstrings on my favorite hoodie are more entertaining than what's on television. It only cost me $100 and I had to fly to the bottom of the earth to get it... but please do chew on my Hard Rock Ushuaia hoodie. It's fine...
Jake never wants to sit and watch television with me. He just climbs on my lap and falls asleep. He does like my computer to scratch his face though. They both do...
With the exception of my hoodie strings, my cats are surprisingly great about not chewing on stuff they shouldn't be chewing on. They are happy to chew on their toys when they feel the need. Assuming they let each other.
After dinner one day this past week, Jake was laying on the floor gnawing on Mufasa. Jenny comes bolting through the room, snatches Mufasa, then goes running to the stairs.
"JENNY! Why are you stealing your brother's toy?" I ask. She then drops the toy, runs up the stairs, and glares at me. I grab my iPhone to capture the moment, at which time she looks away and whistles. Or appears to be whistling. Can cats whistle? I dunno. So guilty!
Jake wasn't too bothered. A minute later he went out in the catio because he saw Fake Jake walk by.
See you next Caturday!
Posted on Sunday, January 6th, 2019
I know that having to skip a Bullet Sunday for my year-end wrap-up was tough, but don't despair... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Bandersnatch! This past week all the internet buzz revolved around Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix's new "Choose Your Own Adventure" movie. As the movie played you would be presented with choices which determined how the rest of the movie would progress...
Any guesses as to which music I picked?
This novelty alone would be pretty lame. Unless the story was really terrific, why would you want to replay it over and over to see how your choices affect things? But this is Black Mirror, and they took their excellence to another level here. First of all, the story itself addressed the idea of free will vs. control... and completely breaks the fourth wall by going meta with the concept in some story branches. It was really well done, and I ended up playing through several different scenarios to see where the story would land. Once I had gotten through the major different branches, the differences became more and more subtle, so I ended it. I'm told there are some other stories that are more hidden, but time time required to find them was too much for me. Overall, I loved Bandersnatch! It took full advantage of the concept, the performances were great, and I was entertained throughout. My only criticism was that I could play on my AppleTV (which was incompatible) and ended up having to watch on my computer. Other than that? Well worth your time to check out!
• Magic! Every once in a while, Disney's magic extends to their advertising. That's definitely the case with this wonderful ad that was airing for Disneyland Paris...
And now I want to go to Disneyland.
• Good News! If you're a little depressed with how 2018 ended up (Lord only know I am), here's the link for you: I’m Honestly Fed Up With All The Bad News So I Illustrated The Best News Of 2018 (And Recent Years).
And for all those people buying into President Trump's claim that the Mueller Probe is wasting tax dollars, here's more good news: Mueller Probe Cost $25 Million So Far, Report Says. It’s Pulled in $48 Million From Tax Cheats. It's paying for itself (and then some) as well as ripping into political corruption. What's not to like?
• Micropenis! I never suspected that Tucker Carlson has a tiny, minuscule, impotent, wee little penis... but here he is telling everybody about it. Study after study has shown that men who are threatened by women who make more money than them have tiny dicks... and who am I to question science?
What a pathetic, sexist, whiny, tragic, little pissant Tucker Carlson is. The amount of sublime ignorance as to how modern relationships work here is stunning. And yet, there are people believing this bullshit and faux science, so I'd imagine Tucker Carlson isn't going to be out of work any time soon.
• SCANDAL! Oooooh! Here it is! A SCANDALOUS video of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez was just released from her school years! I wonder what it is? Sex with animals? Doing drugs? DOING DRUGS WHILE HAVING SEX WITH ANIMALS? My gawd... what a totally reprehensible role model. SHE SHOULD RESIGN IN SHAME!!!
Seesh. From they way some conservatives are (over)reacting, you'd think that she grabbed somebody by the genitals without consent... or cheated on her spouse with a porn star and tried to cover it up... or was defending white nationalists... or hiding her tax returns. The hypocrisy is blinding.
• Roller Kingdom! There was a time I wanted to be addicted to roller skating instead of crack too. But times change...
Alas, the local roller rink was torn down ages ago here, so I guess crack it is!
• Portland! Trying to end on a happy note, this is painfully accurate... and funny...
I miss having work trips to Portland. It is really terrific city.
Stay frosty, everybody.
Posted on Monday, January 7th, 2019
I can pinpoint when my love affair with bread began... Elementary School. The cafeteria had these amazing rolls that defy description. But I'll try for you. They were dense without being heavy. They were drenched in butter for fantastic flavor. They were everything I love about bread. You used to be able to buy extras for a quarter. I bought a ridiculous amount of them. I even took them home for my mom because they were just that good.
Then I graduated to Middle School and that was the end of it. I never had them again, though I would often think back to those heady days of breaded bliss.
I'd eat a lot more bread over the years, of course, but none of it quite compared.
Then one day at a family holiday dinner, my sister-friend's mother-in-law brought homemade garlic bread. And there is was... the bread I had been missing for decades was on my plate.
Naturally I was immediately obsessed. Turns out it's a sourdough hybrid that uses both sourdough starter and yeast to rise. This means you can get good flour density without being heavy like a brick. And it wasn't sour despite having sourdough in it. I ended up taking a jar of sourdough starter home with me so I could make my own. For years I rarely bought bread, I made my own.
Then tragedy struck.
When I moved to my new place, I accidentally left my starter out in my car for a week. I thought it would be fine since it was winter, but when I finally remembered it, the poor thing was in pretty bad shape. I could never get it to rebound, and eventually it developed a reddish-pinkish hue and had to be thrown out.
My life was in turmoil back then, so it was easier to just buy bread, and I forgot about making it.
But then it was served at Christmas dinner last month and I fell in love all over again. I was given another jar of starter and have been making my own bread again ever since...
Lately I've been experimenting with the amount of flour I add. More flour results in denser bread that's not too dry, if you don't overdo it. Less flour results in a higher rise, when you want flakier bread or use it to make cinnamon rolls.
And this time I promise to take good care of my starter so he won't ever go pink again.
Posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019
"Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?"
A lot of artists are of the belief that their art is born out of suffering and in order to create good art you have to suffer for it. If that's the case, I'm a pretty shitty artist because I don't think I have ever "suffered" for my art. Though, to be honest, referring to myself as an "artist" is kind of laughable because that's a gross overstatement as to where my talents lay. I'm a very good designer. I'm a pretty good photographer. I'm a decent craftsman. I'm an amazing burrito-maker. But true "art" has always eluded me.
Probably because I'm just not suffering enough to create it.
Although I did come close to suffering in creating my "art" for the latest issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine, which you can get for FREE over at our website...
Delicious cover by SEIGAR, an actual artist.
Originally I had art for three stories assigned to myself. Eventually I ended up with a lot more because the holidays wrecked havoc with people's schedules and they had to drop out.
One of those original stories I had was titled The Woman Thinking of Nothing by Beth Shirley. I liked it a lot, and had an idea what I wanted to do for the image after reading the first two sentences of the second paragraph...
She ordered a vodka martini, very dry with two olives. She ordered a basket of fries after the first drink and ate nearly half of them slowly while she drank a second martini.
I absolutely loved the imagery of ordering a high-class drink like a martini with two olives and pairing it with something as low-rent as a basket of fries. When I read that, I was... I dunno... "tickled" at the thought of it, I guess you'd say.
But I worried that since the art needed to be a full page that I'd make a mess of it, so I handed the story to another artist. But when they had to bow out, I took the story back for myself. Because you don't defy The Universe when they give you a second chance.
I decided to go to a bar, order a martini and a basket of fries, take a photo, and call it a day.
After trying on four separate occasions over a period of eight days to be served what I was envisioning in my head, I came up empty. Either the bar...
Which lead to a lot of suffering because...
After spending $75 on martini lunches to no avail, I decided to stage my own photo in a studio. So I borrowed a martini glass. I found a piece of wood that looked like it could be a bar top. I had some liquor bottles I could place out-of-focus in the background. All there was left to do was go buy some fries and find a basket to put them in.
The basket, which I thought would be an easy get, was impossible to find. I wanted one of those cheap-looking plastic flat baskets like you used to find in diners all the time. You know, the ones they hand you when you play pull tabs to put your losing tickets into. Looked everywhere. Couldn't find one. The closest I could find was a blue plastic basket at The Dollar Store. And then there were the fries...
I wanted crinkle-cut. I really wanted crinkle-cut. But time was pressing and the only bar that served them would have taken too long so I went to Wendy's. I prefer Wendy's because every once in a while I like to treat myself to a tiny 89¢ Jr. Frosty, and everywhere else you go you have to buy a giant cup. Can you guess what happened on the drive back? Yep. I forgot why I bought the fries and ate them all along with my tiny Frosty on the way home!
Don't get old, folks. No good can come of it.
Frustrated that it was going on three weeks for a photo that I thought would take fifteen minutes, I grabbed my little blue Dollar Store basket, went back to the bar which had both martini glasses and crinkle-cut fries, then staged my photo.
The wall of bottles was too far away, so the background ended up being boring and I removed it...
I took a second photo for the background like so...
Compositing them and straightening out the foreground elements resulted in this...
With the exception of the basket not being what I originally had in mind, this was pretty darn close to what I was going for. But when I went to drop it into the story, it looked... odd. So I decided to paint over it and run the image through some Photoshop filters to make it look a little more interesting. And there you have it...
I toyed with at least changing the basket color to red, but the blue stood out better so I left it.
And if all that wasn't "suffering for my art" then what is?
All things considered, I'm fairly happy with it. I guess. Probably should have just drawn it from the start, but I really wanted a photo for this one.
I did a few more pieces for the issue. To understand why I decided on what I did, you might want to read the stories first. Otherwise I'm not sure how much sense this will all make.
For a pair of stories by the always-amazing Howie Good called Prayer Vigil and The Rain Side of the Rain-Snow Line, I wanted a drowning cross and a bird/person mashup. Again constructed from stock photos then Photoshopped...
For loneliness for taste, a story by dN eQ, I had wanted to do something which had to do with a barber shop. Like a pair of scissors and a comb or something. But that wasn't what the story was saying to me. I rethought things and decided I wanted to somehow illustrate life moving forward in ways that were both mundane and interesting. This is what I came up with...
For Mountain High Pizza Pie, a story by the always-interesting Matthew Dexter, I kept coming back to the way he'd echo pizza toppings and a fetus. I put the two together and... voilà...
Whenever I have a spread of two stories, like Her Love by Megan Gordon and Call Me Kumiktuq (Scratch) by Tom Sheehan, I try to find a commonality which I can illustrate that will tie them together. For Megan's story, I really wanted to find a way of showing lemons and lavender flower. I had no idea what to do for Tom Sheehan's story. Eventually I liked his line about snowflakes and lightbulbs and decided I could have the lemon play off the lightbulb, then use lavender and snowflakes in the backgrounds...
For the story Children of Survivors by Miriam Sagan I wanted quite badly to come up with something that would compel you to read the story... but without giving anything away as to what the actual story was about. So I zeroed in on a bit of conjecture by one of the characters which had somebody being killed over half an apple. This was taking place in an internment camp, so I had to be careful about showing the apple being too red and too tasty because, I figured, that if they were given apples at all they would undoubtedly be shriveled and older...
For a brutal story called Honeymoon (by Beate Sigriddaughter), I wanted a lit candle being strangled by vines. Originally I just drew it, but didn't like what I came up with, so I composited four stock photos and ran it through some Photoshop filters. On the page opposite is a vivid story called Clown Town by Couri Johnson where I wanted to composite stock balloons over a bright blue sky. This looked strange next to my drab candle, so I changed out the drab candle I used to a bright purple one. This ended up being kismet, because it actually fit the story better. The hope being that the character's brightness and light won't be completely crushed out
And that's the end of my contributions to Thrice Fiction Magazine No. 24! If you'd like to take a look at the issue (and see some real artists creating actual art)... head over to our website where you can take a look for FREE!
Posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
There are two reasons I decided that Jake and Jenny were going to be indoor-only cats. The first reason was to protect them. I don't want them attacked by dogs... run over by a car... or hurt by some heinous excuse for a human being. No, for my peace of mind and their safety, they are staying indoors.
The second reason was to save the poor birds, mice, and other critters that cats seem to relish torturing.
That being said, I really didn't want to deny my cats access to the outdoors. There's too many interesting things to look at (and even more interesting things to smell) which can help make their lives more exciting than if they were trapped inside all the time. and so... I built a "catio" for them so they can go out when they feel like it. Jake and Jenny love the catio... especially in Spring and Summer when they are out there all day lounging around.
Unfortunately, an occasional bird wanders into the catio. It's happened twice. The first time I was able to build a tunnel to shoo the poor thing outside. The second time I managed to rescue it and get it un-stunned so it could fly off.
Then yesterday it happened a third time. Unfortunately I wasn't home to rescue the poor thing, so I came home to a dead bird yesterday...
I had no idea which of my cats were responsible. My money was on Jake. He was the one who caught the birds the other two times. So I check the security cameras and, sure enough...
Jake sure can move like lightning when he wants to!
A part of me wants to add a fence screen to the bottom foot of the catio to hopefully prevent birds from hopping in. But then I worry that if a bird comes in from above and wants to get out, a screen might make that tough. And so... since it has only happened three times in three years (with only one fatality), maybe I should just hope it continues to be a rare event and leave well enough alone.
Having to disinfect my home because the cats bring in dead birds is no fun at all. I mean just look at Jake going nuts and tossing that poor bird carcass around...
Bring on the Pine-Sol.
And not just for dead birds.
Tonight Jake threw up his dinner.
This is scary and worrisome to me. I'm hopeful that he somehow ate a shred of cheese from my pizza to make him vomit. Because the alternative could be that he's got urinary problems again. The first time was such a horrible ordeal for the little guy that I am in no hurry to go through that again.
And I'm sure Jake would agree.
Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2019
Last month I was reading through one of the dozens of "Little Things You Can Do to Save The Planet" type articles I found online. In the list was the idea to wear clothes more than once before washing. At first I dismissed it out-of-hand. I'm not wearing dirty clothes! I don't even wear dirty clothes when I travel! And it's true. I bring more than enough clothes to make sure I can change every day.
But then I got to thinking...
Most days I wake up, take a shower, put on a pair of jeans, go to work, then come home and change into a pair of sweats after tossing my jeans in the hamper. Which means I wear the jeans for 8 hours in a clean environment and then waste water, energy, and detergent washing something that's not dirty.
And so... for a month now I've been coming home and hanging my jeans on a different color hanger so I can wear them a second time later on. Easy.
And since it was so easy, I decided to revisit the list and see what else I might be able to do.
It looks like my next step will be trying a biodegradable cat litter. I didn't realize that the clay litter I was using doesn't biodegrade.
Hopefully my cats will use it. Because something tells me that they really don't care about saving the planet...
They do care about having a clean place to poop. And I would just as soon have it not be my floors.
Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2019
I am trying my best to not dump politics in my blog day-in and day-out, but this fucking wall business is driving me insane. The government has been shut down because of it, AND IT WON'T EVEN WORK! But that's not the reason I'm losing my shit. The government spends tons of our money on stuff that doesn't work all the time. What's another $5 billion on top of the $2 trillion that Cheeto Jesus has already added to our $20 trillion national debt?
No, the reason I am beside myself with angst over the wall scenario is because of the ecological disaster it would pose. Which, in turn, would have a horrific effect on animals in the region that need to migrate to survive. Out-of-control government spending is upsetting. But destroying the habitat animals need to survive is rage-inducing.
So fortify the border where needed, yes. Increase manpower there to keep us safe, yes. Be smart about border security, yes. Invest in technology to fortify our country, yes. But get over this damn wall already. It's not going to work anyway. Even if it ever could be built (which, legally, it probably can't be).
But don't take my word for it.
Ladies and gentlemen, Amy Patrick...
To recap: I’m a licensed structural and civil engineer with a MS in structural engineering from the top program in the nation and over a decade of experience on high-performance projects, and particularly of cleaning up design disasters where the factors weren’t properly accounted for, and I’m an adjunct professor of structural analysis and design at UH-Downtown. I have previously been deposed as an expert witness in matters regarding proper construction of walls and the various factors associated therein, and my testimony has passed Daubert.
Am I a wall expert? I am. I am literally a court-accepted expert on walls.
Structurally and civil engineering-wise, the border wall is not a feasible project. Trump did not hire engineers to design the thing. He solicited bids from contractors, not engineers. This means it’s not been designed by professionals. It’s a disaster of numerous types waiting to happen.
Off the top of my head...
1) It will mess with our ability to drain land in flash flooding. Anything impeding the ability of water to get where it needs to go (doesn’t matter if there are holes in the wall or whatever) is going to dramatically increase the risk of flooding.
2) Messes with all kind of stuff ecologically. For all other projects, we have to do an Environmental Site Assessment, which is arduous. They’re either planning to circumvent all this, or they haven’t accounted for it yet, because that’s part of the design process, and this thing hasn’t been designed.
3) The prototypes they came up with are nearly impossible to build or don’t actually do the job. This article explains more. And so on.
The estimates provided for the cost are arrived at unreasonably. You can look for yourself at the two-year-old estimate that you see everyone citing. It does not account for rework, complexities beyond the prototype design, factors to prevent flood and environmental hazard creation, engineering redesign... It’s going to be higher than $50bn. The contractors will hit the government with near CONSTANT change orders. “Cost overrun” will be the name of the game. It will not be completed in Trump’s lifetime.
I’m a structural forensicist, which means I’m called in when things go wrong. This is a project that WILL go wrong. When projects go wrong, the original estimates are just *obliterated*. And when that happens, good luck getting it fixed, because there aren’t that many forensicists out there to right the ship, particularly not that are willing to work on a border wall project— a large quotient of us are immigrants, and besides, we can’t afford to bid on jobs that are this political. We’re small firms, and we’re already busy, and we don’t gamble our reputations on political footballs. So you’d end up with a revolving door of contractors making a giant, uncoordinated muddle of things, and it’d generally be a mess. Good money after bad. The GAO agrees with me.
And it won’t be effective. I could, right now, purchase a 32 foot extension ladder and weld a cheap custom saddle for the top of the proposed wall so that I can get over it. I don’t know who they talked to about the wall design and its efficacy, but it sure as heck wasn’t anybody with any engineering imagination.
Another thing: we are not far from the day where inexpensive drones will be able to pick up and carry someone. This will happen in the next ten years, and it’s folly to think that the coyotes who ferry people over the border won’t purchase or create them. They’re low enough, quiet enough, and small enough to quickly zip people over any wall we could build undetected with our current monitoring setup.
Let’s have border security, by all means, but let’s be smart about it. This is not smart. It’s not effective. It’s NOT cheap. The returns will be diminishing as technology advances, too. This is a ridiculous idea that will never be successfully executed and, as such, would be a monumental waste of money.
Remember when everybody in our district was thrilled when Dr. Kim Schrier, Democrat won over Dino Rossi, Republican in a miraculous upset victory in the last election? Remember when I said that Dino Rossi was a piece of shit and I was happy to have somebody in office who was probably still going to be a piece of shit, but not as big a piece of shit as Dino Rossi?
Yeah. Never mind.
Posted on Saturday, January 12th, 2019
Ever since Jake got home from his week-long stay at the vet, he's been more clingy than usual. He also doesn't want to be left alone. If Jenny follows me upstairs while he's asleep, he'll wander around crying when he wakes up until I holler down for him.
This has been tough of Jenny, who likes her independence.
I've tried to make sure that everywhere there's a bed she likes to sleep in, there's a second bed for Jake. This was a little confusing for her at first...
But it actually ended up working...
For a minute or two. Then Jake was right back to crowding in on her...
Needless to say, she isn't thrilled...
After a while Jenny escapes, leaving poor Jake alone again...
Every once in a while Jenny does a bit of rearranging, which kinda works...
But the minute things are back to the way they were, Jake wants to share again...
It's been three months since the vet, so I can only guess Jake's behavior change is here to stay.
How this is going to affect Jenny's behavior remains to be seen.
Posted on Sunday, January 13th, 2019
Don't let the long cold nights of winter get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Duck! It's no secret that I love museums. I've made it my mission in life to see many of the world's great (and not-so-great) museums as I can. Which is why I got a big kick out of this article: Museums around the world are soliciting duck pics from each other...
Image Courtesy of The Museum of English Rural Life.
If you're even a little fan of art, this article is a must-see.
• Cars! These Walmart curbside pickup "cars" commercials are phenomenal...
I can't fathom how much money it cost to license all these properties.
• Akeem! One of my all-time favorite movies is Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in multiple roles. It's a great story chock-full of funny situations and had some real heart to it...
There are many other things to love about the film... namely James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Eddie Murphy's parents. But there are also the incredible designs for the country of Zamunda. Make no mistake, Zamunda was Wakanda way before Wakanda was the benchmark for fictional African countries!
And now it comes to light that there is a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as Prince Akeem. Right now, I am deliriously happy about that. But given how badly things could go wrong, I'm also more than a little nervous.
• Again! Again! Speaking of an Eddie Murphy movie getting sequels... apparently Boomerang, another movie I love more than butter, is getting a television sequel...
The show will continue the story with Marcus and Angela's son and Jaqueline's daughter. No word if Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, or Robin Givens will be making an appearance. But I sure hope so. The thing that gives me hope is that Lena Waithe is onboard. As is Halle Berry as an executive producer. Fingers crossed.
• Monument! As somebody who loves travel photography but can't stand people walking through my shots, I was excited to hear about "Monument." This new technology that Adobe is developing will automatically remove moving objects from photos. It's a fascinating idea that I'm anxious to try out. There's a video which takes a look at Moment but Nick Offerman is an idiotic distraction throughout. Why in the hell they couldn't have just presented the tech without the comedic bullshit is beyond me...
It's only a matter of time before machine learning with this kind of smarts gets dropped into all our cameras. As popular attractions become more and more crowded, it will be a handy and very welcome thing to have.
• Puck! My new brown sugar container came with a small terra cotta coaster in the box. I was telling a friend about it and laughing because I don't have any glasses small enough to fit on it. "ARE YOU HIGH? YOU SOAK IT IN WATER AND PUT IT IN THE CONTAINER SO YOUR BROWN SUGAR DOESN'T DRY OUT!" In my defense, there weren't any instructions. Just the little puck thingy in a baggie. How was I to know?
Is this some secret everybody knows but me? Is there some brown sugar conspiracy to exclude me from this magic?
And... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.
Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2019
The big news of this past week here in the Pacific Northwest is the closure (and eventual destruction) of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated double-decker highway that runs along the city. Built in pieces over the entire decade of the 1950's, it's long been a controversial structure because it divides Seattle from its waterfront...
Even though it's not solid like a wall, it's a big, clunky, ugly, double-layer structure which casts giant shadows that make it feel like a wall...
I've driven the viaduct many, many times when getting from my work in West Seattle to my hotel downtown. It's kinda scary at times because the lanes are a bit narrow and the exits are awkward. That being said, the views of the city and Elliott Bay could be stunning, as shown in this terrific drone video...
There are many reasons that removing the viaduct is a good thing. In addition to getting rid of an eyesore, it also gets rid of a major earthquake hazard. Like all cities along the Pacific Rim, Seattle is in constant danger of a major earthquake which could easily flatten the viaduct and pancake anything underneath.
To replace the viaduct, Seattle built a massive 2-mile long, $3-billion tunnel that runs the length of the city. We're told that it's far safer to be in the tunnel during an earthquake than on the viaduct, but I'm not anxious to find out first-hand if that's true. It is a really cool structure though...
Image Courtesy of WSDOT.
The digging began in mid-2013 using "Big Bertha," the largest tunnel-boring machine in the world at the time which cost $80-million. The construction was fraught with criticism and had its share of problems. The biggest of which was a 2-year delay that happened when Bertha broke down after less than five months of digging.
But now it's all over, the tunnel is finished, and roads are being rerouted over the next three weeks so traffic can finally use it starting February 2nd.
And while the new SR-99 Tunnel is exciting and everything, it's not a perfect solution.
For one thing, the tunnel is two lanes in each direction. The viaduct was three. This will be offset, in part, by a new surface street which runs where the viaduct used to be. But the fact remains that there is one less lane bypassing downtown Seattle, which could be highly problematic given how bad the traffic is.
Another issue is that the tunnel will be an electronic toll road to drive on. The price will vary depending on traffic and such, but it kinda sucks that you'll have to spend minimum $2 a day to get to and from work if you live north of the city and work south of the city (or vice-versa).
Another issue is the loss of an area many of Seattle homeless use as shelter.
Yet another issue? Just look at this hot mess...
Image Courtesy of WSDOT.
I hope Google Maps is ready to navigate this pretzel of a roadway.
The plans for the space once occupied by the viaduct look nice. In addition to the afore-mentioned surface street, there are plans for greenery, bike lanes, a pedestrian walkway, some parks, and other cool stuff which will completely transform Seattle's waterfront...
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.
Overall, I like the plans I've seen very much. Where it falls apart for me is the proposed signage, which is trying way too hard to do way too many things. Signs should be pretty, yes, but their primary function should be to TELL PEOPLE HOW TO GET TO WHERE THEY WANT TO GO. But the "wayfinding markers" that were in the proposal kit are a jumbled mess of ideas that don't do a very good job of it...
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.
I mean, seriously, how in the hell is this ugly mess helpful? Especially from a distance. You'll have to be right on top of it to make use of the thing...
Image Courtesy of Waterfront Seattle Program.
The design also looks dated before they've even been built. I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and somebody will rethink things to create a more clean, simple, easy-to-read signage design which also reflects Seattle culture and its location in the Pacific Northwest.
I am anxious to see how all the plans pan out. Seattle has the potential for one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country. But it's been buried under chunks of steel, concrete, pavement, and heavy shadows for far too long.
It will be nice to see all that change.
Posted on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019
And... I had to cancel all of my March travel because there's no way to plan for a US Government shutdown that has no end date. If this thing is still going through February, I'm guessing I'll have to cancel my travel for April. This is extraordinarily bad. Both for the charity I'm trying to work with and the people who rely on that charity to, you know, continue living and stuff.
Not to mention all the people who are going to have a tough time surviving right here at home. If they have government jobs (or are in industries linked to the government) I'd imagine that money for things like rent and utilities and gas and food is going to be in short supply soon. It's really tough to see people posting their worries online only to be met with helpful comments like "YOU SHOULD HAVE SAVED MONEY IN CASE THIS HAPPENED! ARE YOU STUPID? Well, if they're like so many people, they're not stupid. They're just having to live paycheck to paycheck and don't have an opportunity to save. I paid $46 for two bags of groceries the other day. That'll cover me for about a week. If I didn't already have cat food, that total would have been higher. I can't imagine how much it costs to feed a family of four for a month.
What's difficult for me to figure is the non-stop political blame game that's currently going on. DEMOCRATS WERE FOR A WALL BEFORE THEY WERE AGAINST IT! Well, not really. They were for a "Secure Fence Act"... thirteen years ago... which was attached to a lot of concessions. Needless to say, a lot has fucking happened in thirteen years, so it's not the apples-to-apples comparison it seems. DEMOCRATS ARE WEAK ON BORDER SECURITY! THEY WANT WIDE-OPEN BORDERS! Well, not really. Any Democrat I've heard speak on the subject says that border security is a priority for them... they just want to invest money into something that's actually going to work (and not bankrupt the country over a pathetically inadequate budget projection). THIS IS ALL THE DEMOCRATS' FAULT! Well, not really. According to 2013 Donald J. Trump, weak presidential leadership is at fault for government shutdowns. NO, REALLY, THIS IS ALL ON THE DEMOCRATS! Well, not really. There are Republicans opposed to the stupid-ass wall as well. Enough Republicans that President Trump couldn't get it funded before Democrats took the House earlier this month. If Republicans can't convince Republicans when they are in control of everything, it's the Democrats' fault? Really?
What's even more difficult for me to figure is how people are okay with their very lives being nothing more than bargaining chips over a wall that's not even going to fucking work. I may loathe Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in equal measure, but they've got one thing correct: border security should be debated apart from the livelihood of Americans just trying to get by. But Clownface VonFuckstick doesn't give a shit about people who aren't millionaires, which is all the justification he needs to carry on with his temper tantrum stand-off bullshit. And that's enough for his supporters to taunt, ridicule, and otherwise rip into people wondering how they're going to be able to afford food and shelter if things keep going as they have been.
I'll ponder all that while trying to figure out how I will find space in my calendar to fit the three trips I just canceled. They're going to have to be pushed to Fall where travel dates are already scarce. But since actual lives are at stake, I'll make it work somehow.
Assuming we're not still shut down.
Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
My only complaint about Marvel Studios is that they are restricting themselves to three movies per year. This seems lacking in ambition. I understand not wanting to crowd the theaters in a wash of super-hero films, but maybe after the 21st Century Fox merger is complete they will up their game a bit? Hopefully.
In the meanwhile...
The first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home dropped earlier this week...
The most obvious piece of new information here is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio...
He doesn't seem like he's a villain... yet? I guess?
From appearances, it would seem Peter Parker is being deputized by Nick Fury to become "Spider-Man: Agent of
Since the new Spider-Man takes place after Avengers: Endgame it's interesting to note that life on earth has returned to normal. Which means it returns to normal in Endgame. Which seems to indicate that Thanos and his snap were eradicated from the timeline? We shall see.
And then there's Captain Marvel...
New character posters for the forthcoming movie have been unleashed. Notably absent is a poster for Ronan the Accuser. Kinda weird that he didn't get one when everybody else did...
Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers, of course...
Agent Nick Fury, having been CGI youthed to his 90's self...
Agent Phil Coulson, likewise youthified...
Maria Rambeau, whom I'm guessing is future-hero Monica Rambeau's mom and fellow pilot...
Goose, Carol's cat... which is named "Chewie" in the comic books (after Chewbacca)... and is apparently named after Anthony Edward's Top Gun character here...
Mar-Vell(?) is the original Captain Marvel in the comic books but, since the origin is changing for the movies, he could be playing somebody completely different...
Korath, whose last appearance was in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie...
Minn-Erva, an enemy of Carol in the comics, but apparently isn't that (yet) in the movie...
Talos, an evil alien Skrull shown here in his human form...
??? No idea who Annette Bening is playing in the movie... Supreme Intelligence in human form perhaps...
March 8th can't get here soon enough.
Posted on Thursday, January 17th, 2019
This morning while I was at work, I received a notification from my security cameras that somebody was breaking into my front door. This happens whenever anybody is in the vicinity of the exterior doorknobs. I wasn't too worried because my door locks weren't reporting any tampering. But I was curious. Did somebody leave me a pamphlet or something? Let's take a look, shall we?
Well, that's disappointing...
I love birds. Especially in flight...
And now, if you'll excuse me, the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is here! I loved the first season, so I'm hoping for more Star Trek goodness this time around...
Live Long and Prosper...
Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2019
We keep getting promised snow in the weather forecast, but it never comes. Then yesterday morning it started coming down like crazy. We had inches accumulate in short order. My cats couldn't get enough of it, and spent all morning hanging out in the catio watching the flakes fall. They came in for breakfast, but then it was right back outside.
When it was time to go to work, I stuck my head out to make sure all was well...
ME: Yes, I see that. It's snowing!
ME: Yes, how exciting!
ME: No, you can't go play in it. You'll get all wet and make a mess in the house!
But then I got to thinking that it's unfair they don't get to experience snow like outdoor cats do. They also don't get to experience walking on grass. What I need to do is create some kind of catio tunnel out to the yard. Then I need to find a way to bury some latches under the grass so I can secure a cage there. That way I can have a safe way for Jake and Jenny to walk on snow in the winter and grass in the summer... but also have it be removable so the lawn can be mowed.
Something to think about. In the meanwhile... I can shovel a little snow into the catio for them to play with.
Jenny ran out immediately so she could see what it was all about...
Jake was a bit more cautious. He circled around it trying to sniff out what it could be. Probably trying to determine if he could eat it...
Then he pawed around it for a while...
Eventually he saw me through the window and started squawking at me. Assumably telling me that the snow made his feet cold. I tried to explain that he needs to step off the snow to fix that, but he just stood there complaining...
And that was the end of that. Tonight it's pouring rain, which I'm assuming will melt all the snow. Again.
Guess it was good while it lasted.
Posted on Saturday, January 19th, 2019
I am telling you... if I end up dead under mysterious circumstances, my cats are likely responsible.
Earlier this week I was awakened by my cats raising holy hell in the guest bedroom downstairs. Wanting to know what in the heck was going on, I grabbed my phone to look at the security camera and got... a black screen. Reviewing the footage revealed that one of them had pushed the camera off the dresser at 1:02am. The last thing recorded was A GIANT ALIEN CAT EYE STARING AT THE LENS!!! ZOMG!
Which means their shenanigans this morning were premeditated. I don't bolt the camera to the wall because I need to remove it when guests are staying with me. I honestly didn't think that would be a problem. But there I go again... underestimating my cats...
In other news...
Jake has started sitting like this now...
He does it everywhere...
And he's thoroughly irritated that I'm photographing him all the time. Look at that face!
Awwww... look at that face...
And in Jenny news...
I try not to interfere in my cats' skirmishes. I worried about Jenny for the longest time since she's smaller than Jake... but it turns out that she's more than capable of taking care of herself. Not only that, but she often is the instigator. Take, for example when Jake was out in the catio running around acting the fool. She sits there watching him through the window... AND THEN... when Jake wants to come back inside, she lunges for the cat door and scares him off. SHE DID THIS THREE TIMES IN A ROW!...
I finally had to intervene so poor Jake could come inside.
But they still hang out together otherwise, so I guess it's all good...
And now... it's kitty dinner time. Can't keep the little monsters waiting.
Posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2019
Rejoice and be saved... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Stuck In Your Head! Oh man, I cannot wait for February 8th!
And... it's stuck in my head! So good!
• Judas? Two of my favorite YouTubers are John Crist and Trey Kennedy. Every once in a while they collaborate on a video and the result is darn funny. Like their latest: If Bible Characters Had iPhones...
Here's another one that's entirely too funny...
• Baroque! There's an artist named Christy Lee Rogers who is creating these stunning underwater photos that look like amazing baroque paintings...
The article over at My Modern Met is a must-see.
• NEWS! Conservatives are outraged a gay couple is on the cover of ‘Parents’ magazine
“Mothers and fathers are seeing more and more similar examples of children being indoctrinated to perceive same-sex couples as normal, especially in the media,” an unsigned blog post on One Million Moms’s website says. — Oh dear. My eyes just rolled to the back of my head and are stuck there. I am typing this while blind, so please excuse any spelling mistakes.
If a same-sex couple is what you have for parents... and they love you, care for you, provide for you, and foster your growth into adulthood... THEN YOUR PARENTS ARE FUCKING NORMAL! Likewise, if you have only one parent (for whatever reason) and they are doing their best to provide the same? THAT'S A FUCKING NORMAL FAMILY TOO!
“It could be displayed in waiting rooms of dentist and doctor offices, where children could easily be subjected to the glorification of same-sex parents,” the blog post says. — YES, GOD FORBID YOUR CHILDREN SEE A PHOTO OF A HAPPY FAMILY. THEY MIGHT THINK IT'S OKAY TO NOT BULLY THE KID WHO HAS TWO DADS!
• Dads! AND, YES, IT DOES OCCUR IN NATURE. IT IS ACCORDING TO GOD'S PLAN. AND ALL YOUR ENERGY HATING PEOPLE WOULD BE BETTER SPENT NOT BEING ASSHOLES. WHY NOT TRY BEING ACTUAL CHRISTIANS FOR ONCE?
Penguins are the best!
• Jesus Christ. When you lie, like, ALL THE TIME... it gets hard to keep your lies straight...
I mean, holy shit...
You know it's fucking bad when the Saturday Night Live parodies aren't as funny as our actual government...
This is just exhausting. I am physically and mentally checked out.
And... I'm done. DONE!
Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody!
Posted on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
I used to love going out to the movies. Then it got ridiculously expensive and you basically end up paying obscene amounts of money to watch people text on their mobile phones... or listen to them talk... or endure their kids acting like idiots. So you spend even more money to go to the VIP theater so the experience is at least tolerable. And that's an expense I'm just not going to make unless it's a movie I'm dying to see (like anything from Marvel Studios).
So, by not going to the movies, I'm saving $12 for a ticket plus $8 for popcorn and a drink... that's $20, which is how much it costs to just buy most movies on iTunes now-a-days. Or, if you're patient, you can always wait and rent it for $5 or see if it shows up on HBO or something.
More and more I'm getting my entertainment from my television, but that too is quickly getting crazy-expensive.
DirecTV is pricey and I'm starting to wonder if it's worth it. I pay $53.57 per month for the bare minimum they offer just to get Seattle-local networks and a bunch of stuff I never watch (the big exception being HGTV). This is better than it used to be. Since I'm an AT&T wireless subscriber, the $53.57 reflects a $25 bundle credit. I remain incensed that I can't just pick and choose the networks I want to see. I will never, ever watch Fox "News," so why the fuck am I paying for it?
The obvious option here is to go 100% streaming...
Interesting to note that Hulu has actually lowered their ad-supported pricing...
What I don't like about cutting the cord is that some networks withhold streaming their shows on Hulu for a while. As an example... Home Town has started its second season on HGTV, but only the first season is available on Hulu just now. For many programs, this wouldn't be a big deal... but for shows I really like, it's an issue.
Right now, receiving local channels from Seattle is worth the cost to me. But eventually my feelings may change. Saving $200+ a year on entertainment is no small amount of money.
Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019
I'm trying not to swear in front of my cats.
Well, technically I'm trying not to swear out loud any more. I worry about somebody hearing me being an ass who would just as soon not hear it. Including young kids, babies, church groups, and Vice President Mike Pence. As well as my cats.
The challenge is trying to come up with alternatives which adequately convey my feelings about a situation.
Like just now when I realized that I left my phone at work and have to go back and get it.
I was about to yell "Fuck!" but instead said "Poop on a Triscuit!"
Jake and Jenny seemed confused. I'm guessing it's because they hear me scream "Fuck!" all the time and are accustomed to it... but the Triscuit thing is something new.
I hope that Vice President appreciates that.
Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2019
As I think I mentioned a while back, I've been working on a photo wall in my stairwell. It's a huge, expensive project, but I've been loving how it's been coming together so much that it's all been worth it.
Until I went to finally finish the dang thing only to realize I'm out of black spray paint for a couple frames that are the wrong shade of black. So after work I made a quick run to The Big City and Home Depot for a stupid (but necessary) $3 can of paint.
Then I went to finally, finally finish the dang thing only to realize that I didn't have enough Command Strips to hang all the remaining photos. So there I was at 8:00pm tonight making another run to The Big City and Home Depot to buy hangers.
The good news is that I think I will finally, finally, FINALLY be able to finish the dang thing tomorrow morning once the paint has had a chance to dry thoroughly.
If not, there will be no more trips to The Big City and Home Depot. Instead I'll just light the entire project on fire and forget I ever thought about doing it.
Because everybody has their limits.
Mine was two trips to Home Depot ago.
Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2019
As I mentioned a few times (or maybe it was just yesterday), I'm building a photo wall in my stairwell. Originally it was going to be a wall for friends and family, but it became much bigger than that when I realized I wouldn't have enough wall space for everybody. So now I'm going to have a Blogger Friends Wall in the stairwell, another Blogger Friends Wall in the dining room, a Family Wall in the upstairs hall, and a Friends Wall in my entryway.
And figuring out how to go about it all is not as easy as it sounds. There are hundreds of photos to organize and frame which requires some planning. For the sixty-six photos in my stairwell, I measured all the frames I've been collecting over the past two years and drew up a schematic...
If you'd like to see a zoomable image, you can go to the project page I made right here. It has a magnifying glass so you can see everybody up-close-and-personal...
Despite being a huge amount of work and more frustration that I imagined it could be, the results are amazing...
My cats don't seem to know what to make of it yet. But they're keeping their paws off. For now.
The most important part of the plan was determining how low I could go and still see everything. If I were to put photos too far down on the wall, I'd have to be on my hands and knees to see them. After hanging test photos, I was able to see what photos I could see as I approached the stairs...
Then what I would see with each new step...
As I was testing placement I found out that my eye went to a different area depending on whether I was climbing the stairs... descending the stairs... or looking down from the second floor...
Going up the stairs I tend to look downward so I see the photos along the bottom. But going down the stairs my eyes tend to go down the middle for some reason...
This is perfect, because I end up seeing all the photos. Even the photos that are too high to be seen from the stairs are perfectly visible from above...
I couldn't be happier with how it all came together, and I actually look forward to using the stairs now so I can see my friends...
Even if hanging the photos at the top was a bit precarious thanks to my homemade scaffolding setup...
And now for my notes on creating this beautiful monstrosity...
And now on to planning my next wall.
Remember there's a zoomable image here that has a magnifying glass so you can everybody (maybe even yourself!)...
Posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2019
This morning Jenny demanded belly rubs after she had breakfast. She hopped on the bed, sauntered up to me, then flopped over on her back and waited impatiently. I was happy to comply... except she was irritated at the way I was rubbing her belly. She'd grunt. She'd flop around. She'd paw at my hand to move it. She'd contort herself to get me to the right spot. But no matter what I did, Jenny was having none of it. She kept getting more and more frustrated until she meowed in disgust and walked off.
When I went downstairs to work while my bread was rising, Jenny sat next to me on the back of the couch, but refused to look at me no matter how many times I tried to talk to her...
After some butt-scratches for a little while, she started to forgive me, but was still perturbed...
There are times I'd give anything to be able to talk to my cats. This was one of those times.
But then, with a little patience...>
In other news... my cats are still trying to kill me. Yesterday's morning tributes included Mufasa, a piece of rope I used to make the massive scratching pole in the catio, and one of my mom's rubber stamps. Made of wood. Which hurts a LOT when you step on it. Where did it come from? How did they bring it here? How did they fit it in their mouth? What does it mean? How long does it take foot pain to go away? WHY ARE MY CATS TRYING TO KILL ME?!?...
My Philips HUE light in my bedroom lights up on "low" a half hour before I get up at 7am to feed the cats. It then keeps increasing in brightness until my Alexa alarm goes off. It's supposed to be simulating a sunrise or something. Anyway... the minute light clicks on at 6:30am, Jake has learned that this means it's getting close to breakfast. He then hops on the bed to stare at me for a half hour...
IS IT BREAKFAST TIME YET? I'M LITERALLY DYING OF STARVATION! I'M JUST GOING TO SIT HERE STARING AT YOU UNTIL YOU FEED ME. I HOPE THIS MAKES YOU FEEL BAD.
If he's feeling really frisky (or hungry) he will hop on top of me...
Or, if he's feeling lazy, he'll lay down beside me and fall asleep...
Jake is pretty much back to normal after his health scare. Still likes to sit on my lap when I'm trying to work...
And he still watches for birds to land in the catio so he can attack them...
But his behavior has definitely changed, because he still doesn't want to sleep alone...
He will sleep in the guest bedrooms alone if I'm at home. If I'm downstairs, he'll sleep in the downstairs guest bedroom... it I'm upstairs he'll sleep in the upstairs guest bedroom. But his days of being fully independent when sleeping seem to be over.
So long as Jenny doesn't mind, I guess it's all good.
Hey, maybe she can train Jake the right way to scratch her belly? He speaks cat, so maybe...
Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2019
The Trump Shutdown may be only temporarily suspended, but don't let that get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Vax! =sigh= I was fully vaccinated as a kid, but it's been recommended that I get the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shot again because of a measles outbreak here in the Pacific Northwest. Since it's highly contagious, I never had it as a kid, I regularly climb into a confined metal tube with lots of people, and I only received one shot (not the series that's now recommended)... it's better safe than sorry I suppose. Fun! Thanks, anti-vax parents, for continuing to bring back diseases with gusto that we thought we had dealt with long ago. Polio, anyone?
• Just Die! And... apparently another idiot missionary is rolling the dice. If forced to choose between the death of a tribe of indigenous persons who are not equipped to handle the germs, disease, and overall bullshit that the outside world brings when it intrudes on their lands... or the death of some piece of shit missionary who KNOWS that it's illegal and KNOWS their actions can cause irreparable harm... I'm going to root for the asshole missionary to die. Hopefully in the most brutal way possible as an example to other assholes who might have similar ideas. Except that didn't seem to work the first time, because you just can't fix stupid. In the meanwhile, these Christian groups calling for the tribe to be arrested can go fuck themselves.
• Other Other! When I first heard that SNL alums Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider had a new series coming to Comedy Central, I was intrigued. Shows that fall out of Saturday Night Live talent are hit or miss, but the ones that hit are usually the most interesting and imaginative stuff to appear on television. And now The Other Two has arrived and it is about the funniest thing I've seen in a while...
Yes, that's Molly Shanon as the mom, and she's as good as you'd expect. And, yes, that's Wanda Sykes in there too (Lord, I wish they would find a starring vehicle for her that's worthy of her talent). It's a raunchy show to be sure, so it's not going to be for everybody... but, if you're intrigued, you can watch the first episode for free over at Comedy Central.
• London! I've wondered about London's airports for a long, long time. At last there are answers...
And... part two...
• Out of Network! Regardless of where you land on the health care debate, this is essential reading. Now more than ever you have to be very careful about what care plan your doctor comes up with for you. It's critical that you know to question everything so as to avoid getting blindsided by outrageous medical costs.
• TransBan! The irony is not lost that President Trump (AKA Cadet Bone Spurs), who dodged the draft with a fake ailment, is in charge of deciding who gets to serve their country now (yes, it was fake... the daughter of the physician who signed off on his foot problem came forward). His desire to strongly curtail (or outright ban) transgender persons from serving was recently upheld by The Supreme Court. To those who understand that a strong military requires talents from all sorts of people, this makes no sense. So what is the president thinking? Not surprisingly, there's a series of tweets to explain it...
“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming ... victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
— President Donald Trump
Huh. Looks like our Commander in Chief doesn't know how the fuck our modern military works. But what does he understand? Let's hear what an actual fucking soldier has to say...
"When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn't leave me behind."
— Senator Tammy Duckworth
Oh, and forgive me for completely discounting his fucking bullshit about the "medical costs" being a disruption to our military. It's not like he gives a shit about the millions of taxpayer dollars our military spends shuttling his fat ass to golf courses around the world.
Have a pleasant week, everybody!
Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2019
I have a dozen Marvel Studios posters hanging in my home. I love their movies and like using the posters as decoration everywhere. It was always my intent to have the first movie posters for the "Big Three" (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor) hanging together at the top of my stairwell. Thor was easy... I just used a stool on the landing. I built scaffolding to hang Captain America (and nearly killed myself in the attempt). Iron Man was just too high up for me to attempt it, so I hung him in my dining room and forgot about it. But now I need the dining room space for the second half of my Wall of Bloggers, so I had to find a way to hang Iron Man wayyyy up where he belongs...
I had no idea how I was going to do it without paying a painter to bring their scaffolding and build a ramp. I don't have that kind of money, so this wasn't really an option.
I was watching an episode of Banshee, which takes place in Amish country. Which got me to thinking about Amish barn raisings and how they manage to do it not with a forklift or a crane... but with long poles to push the frame up into place. Couldn't I do the same thing for my poster by using a Swiffer mop handle and some 3M Command Strips? The head on the Swiffer is kinda spongey, so it should have good grip on it.
First I cut some wood blocks which I mounted on the frame backing board. Then I attached the Command Strips to that. Then I nailed a piece of wood across the bottom of the posters to form a ledge. Then I stood on the landing, reached across with the poster, slid it into place, then grabbed the Swiffer handle to ease it up against the wall...
Worked like a charm!
Technically, Thor came before Captain America, but it looked better to have Cap's orange background breaking up the two blue/black backgrounds.
I'll probably leave the ledge up for a week or so just to make sure that the Command Strips have bonded to the wall properly. Each set can hold 4 pounds and I used 4 sets (16 pounds total), which means my 7-pound frame should be okay, I hope.
If not, hopefully myself or my cats won't be underneath it when it falls.
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
The weather has been exceptionally nice these past couple days, which is both good and bad. Good because I can park outside and do some light woodworking in my garage. Bad because I worry about us having enough of a snow pack in the mountains to avoid drought this summer.
Yesterday when I got home from work I started experimenting with making cabinet doors and drawer facings. What I want are simple shaker-style pieces which look like they would be easy to build. And, relatively speaking, they are...
These are the doors and drawers I want... almost exactly. Photo from HGTV.
But getting doors and drawers that will look great takes great patience, attention, care, and time.
Take the drawers in the above photo, for example. It looks like you just saw off a piece of wood, paint it, slap a handle on it, then crack open a cold one because you're done. But it's not that simple. Every edge has to be routed because a sharp corner has little strength and will be nicked up and dented in no time. But you can't overdo it or else they won't look like they're meant to look. And then there's the biggest issue I face... having flat, flat, super-flat boards to work with.
This is a surprisingly weird thing to have to worry about.
You'd think that the boards you buy would be cut flat (which they are) then processed in such a way that they remain flat. This is not even remotely the case. After the wood has been cut from a log it's usually dried so it doesn't warp too badly, but temperature, humidity, and other factors work on the wood over time and cause it to bend. Every single "true-wood" board I have ever bought has been warped in some way. Every board. This is a huge problem when you are trying to build something that's supposed to be flat. Like a drawer face or a picture frame.
So... what to do?
Option A is to use a material like MDF (medium density fiberboard) or hardboard. It's real wood fibers mixed with resin and heat-pressed into sheets for building. It's inexpensive, smooth, flat, won't warp, paints super-smooth, and is easy to work with. In the past it was fairly weak and lacked the strength of true wood, but now-a-days it's pretty durable stuff and can be almost as strong. As a bonus, it's easy to work with as well. The downside is that it can chip or come apart easily if you're not careful about how you use nails and screws. Since I'm painting everything white, this may be a good choice for me because you'll never see the material. I also like the idea that it's cheaper and won't warp or split.
Option B is to use "true wood" and buy a planer. Running everything through a planer will provide the super-flat boards I need to build nice doors and drawers. This is wasteful and time-consuming, but you get the durability and strength that's made wood the material of choice since cabinetry began.
Option C buy fresh-planed wood from a cabinet shop. Not really an option because it's far more money than I have to spend.
My plan is to build a couple drawer faces and cabinets with MDF and see how it goes. Once I get them built I'll beat on them a little bit to make sure they're not going to fall apart. If they hold up well, then I guess I've found my material. If not, I guess I'm getting a planer. Which is something I wanted to buy anyway, but my kitchen remodel is such a huge deal that I am not thrilled with the time involved in having to use it.
For the most part I am anxious to get started on my kitchen and excited to tackle such a challenging project. But there's a small part of me who is very aware that I don't know what I'm doing yet and no amount of YouTube videos will prepare me for the real thing. Which is why it's nice that the weather has been so good and I can experiment. I'll be a lot more confident about my plans if I have some experience under my belt.
Also? By starting in on cabinetry early I'll have more time this summer to work on more catio projects. Jake and Jenny are wanting new adventures!
Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019
Lay's potato chips were on sale at the grocery store so I bought a couple bags. And while I love them plain right out of the bag, I was craving the chip dip that my mom used to make. It was the same dip that my grandmother used to make. I think she got the recipe from the mother of one of my mom's friends. Since both my mom and grandma are gone now, I guess I'll never know for sure where it came from. One of a million things I should have asked about but never did.
Here's the base recipe...
It's good just like that, but there are optional add-ins if you're wanting something more exciting...
Tonight I just made the base recipe with a little cayenne. It was exactly what I needed.
And everything I didn't.
It's been seven months since my mom died and there's always something there to remind me that she's gone. If it's not the pictures of her on the wall or cream cheese dip, it's something else.
There doesn't have to be a ghost for you to be haunted. All it took for me was a bag of chips.
Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019
This morning before heading off to work I decided to dust off my entertainment center. It's a futile endeavor with two cats, because everything will go back to being covered in hair within seconds. As I was dodging in and out of the many crevasses with my Swiffer duster, I made my way to the fancy Blu-Ray player I had bought and couldn't recall the last time I used it. Probably to watch one of those rare movies I love that never made its way to digital.
This is more than a little depressing because the thing was top-of-the-line back in the day and cost me a small fortune. At the time it seemed like a wise investment because it could play both 3D and 4K Blu-ray discs. Little did I know that 3D would be a stupid feature because the special glasses eat batteries like crazy... and all the discs are glitchy.* As for 4K? Apple started releasing most new movies in 4K digitally (no Blu-Ray required) within months of my hooking up the player.
And so the pricey but useless piece of tech just sits there collecting more dust and hair until I want to watch Undercover Blues or True Lies or The Abyss or Strange Days again. WHICH JUST HAPPEN TO BE FOUR OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME...
The rumor mill has been going on for years that James Cameron is working on bringing True Lies and The Abyss to Blu-Ray and (hopefully) digital. I have no idea what the holdup is with Kathryn Bigelow & James Cameron releasing Strange Days (which is oddly more relevant now than it was when it was released 20 years ago). And then there's Undercover Blues. This movie is 100% awesome, and it seems impossible that nobody has released it digitally since it actually has a Blu-Ray release (albeit not a great one).
So many television shows and movies that have been lost to time. It seems... weird... somehow, that everything released within the past 25 years isn't out there for digital purchase. Though I should count myself lucky. At least these movies have DVD releases. Entirely too many of my favorite television shows (like Jeremy Piven's Cupid and Alan Ball's Oh Grow Up!) do not.
Which has me wondering how long it will be before they won't be making DVD/Blu-Ray players any more. These things always seem to happen sooner than you think.
*Seriously, I have yet to find a 3D Blu-Ray which will play properly all the way through. Their quality is for shit.
Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019
Are you converting your DVD/Blu-Ray library to digital? Upgrading your SD DVDs to digital HD?
Yesterday I talked about my Blu-Ray player and how I rarely use it. I haven't bought a DVD or Blu-Ray in years, preferring to purchase everything digitally. And mostly on sale. Few movies are worth paying full price for,* (usually if you wait a couple of months they'll drop to $10 or less). I do still have bunches of old DVDs and Blu-Ray discs hanging around. Those I watch over and over again I repurchased digitally for convenience... but most movies aren't worth buying twice.
Until Vudu joined up with Movies Anywhere, that is.
Movies Anywhere is an alliance of digital media stores and movie studios which allow you to buy a film from one store... then watch it at any other. Buy a movie from Google Play and, so long as it's a part of Movies Anywhere, it will show up in your Apple iTunes (or whatever).
This also goes for DVDs/Blu-Rays converted by Vudu, so long as...
Assuming these conditions are true, you're in luck!
Since I want to play everything on iTunes, here's how I've been converting my DVD/Blu-Ray library...
1) Look up my disc on MoviesAnywhere.com. If they have it, scroll to the bottom for the title info and verify that it's a part of Movies Anywhere...
2) If the movie is eligible, I grab my iPhone and point its browser to Vudu.com/disc (GPS location and camera are required). From there you can scan the UPC code off of you DVD or Blu-Ray and see if it's available for digital conversion...
3) If it is, you select SD or HD, and off you go!
For older movies I own on DVD, I mostly choose the cheaper $2 conversion. Many modern televisions will upscale the SD picture to something that looks just fine, even on a large display. But if it's an older movie I love which underwent remastering or it's a more recent movie which will benefit from the HD image, I spend the $5. Weirdly enough, Vudu will only allow you to convert 100 movies per calendar year. After that, you have to wait until January 1 in order to convert any more... just in case you're flush with cash and have a huge DVD library.
It will take me a few years yet to be able to afford to convert all the titles I want into digital format, but it's sure nice not having loads of DVDs taking up space in my home. It's also handy to have movies I like in digital format that can be watched anywhere. There is a drawback to conversion, however. Most digital movies don't have "iTunes Extras," so those DVDs which come with "extra features" will likely be lost. If that's something important to you, be sure to check what features iTunes has before spending your hard-earned money.
And now, if you'll excuse me, my biological clock is ticking like this... =stomp stomp stomp= so I've got My Cousin Vinny to watch.
*The exception being all the Marvel Studios movies. I buy those the minute they go on sale.
Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
As I've bragged many times, my cats are remarkably well-behaved.
They don't bother me when I'm sleeping. They don't scratch or chew on things they shouldn't. They rarely go where they're not supposed to. And they really don't try to get at my food while I'm eating it. Even Jake has the manners to wait until I'm finished before sniffing my dishes for crumbs. Jenny, on the other hand, doesn't seem interested in people food at all.
At least that's what I thought... until she made a bee-line for my chip dip...
Once she smelled garlic, she was over it in a real hurry, however.
Instead she and Jake decided to stare me down in the hopes of getting an early dinner...
In other news, Jake has started snuggling up with me since his sister has been getting more and more annoyed with him trying to snuggle up to her...
Jenny, who has always loved watching television, has started getting interested in computer videos now. Last night I was watching an otter video when she leaped up on the couch behind me to take a look...
She must really like otters, because she came in for a closer look...
Guess I need to install YouTube on the cats' iPad.
Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019
Don't the mistake of clicking that back button now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Carnivore! I choose to be vegetarian because humans can adapt to vegetarian/vegan diets. Cats and dogs were not designed to be vegetarian/vegan, and forcing them on this "diet" is unhealthy... even deadly. If you won't feed your pets the meat they were built to eat, then get a pet that is made for a vegetarian/vegan diet. Like a hamster or something. Better yet, don't get a pet at all if you don't have their health and well-being as a priority.
• Salty! After it was announced that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was retiring from baseball I started to write a blog post about it, but could never figure out what I wanted to say. I'm a huge fan...
Photo by Keith Allison @ Flickr
I'm such a fan that I ended up bidding on (and winning) his dugout jacket from the 2013 World Series...
I first became a fan when he started playing for the Red Sox (of course), but I kept up with his career as he moved on to Miami, Arizona, Detroit, and Toronto...
Best of luck in retirement, Salty!
• Taxable! Heaven only knows I'm not 100% onboard with the current taxation scheme that we're subjected to here in the US. And I don't much agree with many of the proposed alternatives either. That being said, I'm getting increasingly pissed off with those politicians who are lying assholes about how tax brackets work. Forget what you're being told and watch this short video...
It's pretty simple, yet people are incredibly stupid when it comes to what they choose to believe. No surprise there.
• Stop Doing That! Samantha Bee's Full Frontal had a segment on the challenges that deaf persons have in dealing with the police. If that's not enough to get you to take a look, Nyle DiMarco stops by to help out... and take his shirt off...
If only those who can hear will take the time to listen.
• Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch! Now this takes talent...
When I was in Wales, I had trouble pronouncing the four letter words. Attempting to pronounce this would probably kill me.
• Infinity Paint! And, lastly, this is my favorite thing on the internet this past week.
And... life goes on even though Bullet Sunday is over.
Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2019
Today I had to run into The Big City to have some dental work repaired. Going to the dentist is never fun, but today's trip was made worse by the brutal cold front that descended into the valley last night. It was so cold out that the windshield wipers fell apart after ten minutes on the road.* Which is dangerous when road-slush is fusing itself to your car...
Fortunately I was able to crank the defrost and drive carefully enough that my windshield stayed mostly-clear. At least long enough to drop by the auto parts store for new wipers.
And then it was dental reconstruction time.
Which was a piece of cake.
I can't believe how anesthesiology tech has advanced over the years. Used to be they shoot you up with novocaine and you're uncomfortably numb for an entire day... then you have that awful taste in your mouth as the drugs leach out. Gross. Then everything hurts for a while as your body recovers. Even once novocaine was replaced in the 80's, the new generation of numbing agents seem like they're improving.
Now? You feel nothing. You taste nothing. The numbness fades in hours. There's no residual discomfort or pain. The work was completed just six hours ago and I can barely tell that anything was done. How cool is that?
And speaking of cool...
There's a musician named Simon "Blanks" de Wit in the Netherlands who reimagines popular songs with his own musical arrangements on YouTube. The results are fantastic, especially when he takes contemporary music and turns it into 80's pop with a "StyleSwap"...
The result is often something I like far more than the original...
The guy is incredibly talented, posting "One Hour Challenge" videos where he attempts to remake songs in 60 minutes...
He composes his own songs as well...
His sound is still developing, and it will be interesting to see where he goes as a musician. If he can come up with an album that's 80's pop inspired, I'm so there.
*Note to self: Not replacing your windshield wipers for six years is probably not a good idea.
Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019
A while back Jake managed to murder a poor bird that wandered into the catio, leaving me a not-so-nice present when I returned home.
My hope was that this would be a rare incident. But the little maniac struck again last night. Luckily this time I was home and could run out and admonish him so the bird could escape...
If I weren't so mortified at Jake's homicidal tendencies, it would actually be funny. The minute I open the back door he's like "whut?" and the bird plops right out of his mouth and wanders out to the back porch.
As soon as the bird had escaped I immediately ran to get a box I could cut open as a temporary shelter to keep the snow off of him and (hopefully) keep him safe from another cat. But by the time I had made it back there he had flown away...
He didn't look gravely injured, just shocked, so I'm hopeful he was able to recover. I have no idea how much damage Jake does when he attacks, but I'm assuming there's some kind of puncture wound from his claws/teeth. Poor bird.
A couple weeks ago I got an alert that somebody was breaking into my house. It ended up being a bird...
Just before it snowed, it happened again...
Maybe these bird break-ins are not accidental.
What if... they are seeking revenge?!?
Somebody alert Tippi Hedren.
Posted on Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
Today I went looking for some old, old, very old files that I knew I had backed up on CD somewhere. Turns out they were even older than I thought, because they weren't on CD after all. They were on magneto-optical discs.
This poses a problem, as I have no way of reading them.
Well, I think there's a way... but it's far from an easy way.
It will involve my dragging one of my old computers with a SCSI interface out of storage, wiring up the optical drive, copying the files to a hard disk, then taking apart the computer so I can remove the hard drive and put it in another Mac which has ethernet (but no SCSI). Or something like that. Maybe I've got a SCSI CD burner around somewhere.
My guess is that CDs and DVDs will be next to die off. Just like in Back to the Future...
At some point Real Soon Now, I need to transfer all my older files to Amazon's online storage. Then it doesn't matter if I can't read CDs or magneto-optical, or ZIP, or JAZ, or SyQuest... all I have to worry about is whether or not I can read the format that the files are in.
Years ago any time a new version of Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign came out, I immediately read in all my older files, then saved them out in the new file format. That way even my oldest files would still be accessible if I ever needed them. But eventually, as the number of files I have archived skyrocketed, this became impractical.
Now I just cross my fingers that new versions of the programs will be backwards compatible enough that I don't have to worry about it.
Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2019
I've been preoccupied with work lately, starting up at at 5am and working until late. This is no fun for me... but it's even less fun for my cats. I still make time for them whenever they want attention or need to be petted, of course, but I'm not going out of my way. This is confusing to them, resulting in Jake and Jenny being a little more needy than usual.
"Excuse me. Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Hill's Prescription Diet Ocean Fish Dinner?"
After next week I'm hoping to be caught up enough that things can get back to normal.
Or whatever passes for normal when you have cats.
Posted on Friday, February 8th, 2019
I don't even know where to start.
Posted on Saturday, February 9th, 2019
And so we're in the middle of a Winter Storm Warning.
Which sounds like a bad thing, but I'm so grateful that there will be more snow accumulating in the mountains that I just don't care. Not having to go through a drought come Summer is worth it.
Jake doesn't care much about the snow or rain. He mostly ignores the weather. If the snow is really coming down, he might go out in the catio and watch for a while. Jenny on the other hand?
Jenny is greatly upset by the weather. When it rains, she meows at the drops falling on the roof. When she sees big snowflakes falling, she meows at them (and her brother) through the window...
Or hides in a paper bag...
In other news... Jenny is still stealing Mufasa from Jake whenever he does something to piss her off.
So there I was headed to take a shower when Jenny comes charging up the stairs with Mufasa in her mouth at top speed. She dashes into her bedroom and I hear rustling as she runs through the cat tunnel... then strolls out of the room like nothing happened. I must say, this is not a very inventive hiding spot...
Don't worry about Jake though. He knows how to console himself by eating my junk food picnic...
And demanding consolation scratches...
And... it looks like the foot of snow we got is going to be it. Not much of a "winter storm" if you ask me.
But don't try to tell Jenny that.
Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2019
Don't go fretting that you aren't in touch with what's new in life... because a Very Special Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...
• NEW Disco! I tell you what... Star Trek: Discovery has been knocking it out of the part again this season. Even slow, throw-away episodes (like the latest one) have surprising depth. But, then again, any time spent with my favorite Kelpien, Saru, is time well-spent...
There is a campaign to get Doug Jones an Emmy for his work as Saru, and I can't think of another actor more deserving. Jones has flawlessly constructed movement, voice inflections, and mannerisms that feel completely alien, and the skill to be doing all that while completely encased in makeup and facial appliances is remarkable. He had better at least get nominated.
If you like sci-fi and are not watching Disco, you owe it to yourself to take out a free trial for CBS All Access and see what you've been missing. I am a diehard fanatic of Star Trek: The Original Series, and feel that this is the best series to come out in the Star Trek Universe since then. I was not impressed with any of the Next Generation/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise shows, but this? This is great stuff (despite the bitching and moaning from "Star Trek fans" that hate it... which, if that's you, don't worry... you'll be getting your Next Generation pablum when Captain Picard comes back with his new show).
• NEW! Netflix has just unleashed the third season of the One Day at a Time reboot, and it did not disappoint...
If there's a flaw, it's that the show feels the need to continue addressing absolutely every social issue in existence. It's handled really well, but it can still be exhausting. Yes, it's great to see the show address current events, but it's at its best is when it focuses on the people behind the issues. Fortunately there's plenty of that as well, and I'm hoping we get a fourth season.
• NEW Boys! Pet Shop Boys have a new EP that just dropped called Agenda. And it's as relevant and interesting as you would expect...
And then there's thinly-veiled political message, perhaps?
Yeah. Just when we needed it most.
• NEW Ellen! What would it take to coax Ellen DeGeneres to do her first standup special in 15 years? Apparently it's the $20 million that Netflix ponied up for Relatable, which was released back in December...
I just watched it again last night and I gotta say... it's worth the money. Ridiculously funny. Probably my favorite of all her specials so far. Until Netflix lures her back with $50 million maybe?
• NEW Boarding! CGP Grey released a new video this past week on how to best board an airplane. It's an interesting discussion, to be sure...
• NEW Country! With rare exceptions, I am decidedly not a country music fan. Though recently Casey Musgraves has me re-thinking this stance with her amazing Country-Pop fusion, which is some of the best music I've heard in a while. Because of that, I found this analysis on the current state of Country to be a fascinating watch...
The fact that the finger-snapping madness is becoming such a predominant force in music today is pretty disheartening. Time will tell if it's eventually replaced by something even worse.
No more new for you. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2019
Worst. Monday. Morning. Evar.
Which is bound to happen when your bed ends up covered in cat vomit and you pull a muscle in your back.
But we'll get to that. First let me back up to yesterday, which was a much better day for me.
As I've mentioned a few times, Jenny has a vindictive streak and knows exactly what buttons to push on poor Jake when he pisses her off. First thing on her list? Stealing Mufasa, his stuffed lion and favorite toy. Many times when Jake has done her wrong, she runs off with Mufasa and hides him away somewhere. Jake will then spend hours trying to find him.
Yesterday I found Mufasa stuffed behind the garbage can in the bathroom so I took him to Jake, who was lounging on top of the cat tree in my bedroom. It was like Christmas morning...
Jake oftentimes latches onto Mufasa with his claws and swings him around...
But it always comes back to bite-bite time...
He was all smiles for a good ten minutes...
Good times. Good times.
I am dreading the day that Mufasa gets ripped to shreds. I've already had to repair him once, so his time on this earth is coming to an end eventually. A friend checked at the gift shop "Out of Africa" in Johannesburg's airport where I got him but, alas, they are no longer selling Mufasas. Every once in a while I check eBay just to see if one will pop up, but no luck so far.
This morning at 4:00am Jake hops on the bed and wakes me up in distress. He's making chirping noises and acting like he wants to throw up, which is a rare thing for my cats to do. I'm immediately worried that he's sick with a urinary problem again, but it turns out it was just a hairball. A hairball that took him a full ten minutes to hack up, the poor guy. He was pretty whipped after that, so I threw off my vomit-covered sheets and let him rest up for a bit before I took them to the wash.
Not wanting to disturb Jake on my bed after his rough morning, I decided to take a nap on the couch. But it wasn't ten minutes before I heard a cat howling and was freaking out that Jake or Jenny was hurt... only to realize that it was coming from outside. Turns out that the people who plow my driveway piled the snow over the path that I keep shoveled for the neighborhood cat, Fake Jake, to get around my home so he can get to his food and his bathroom out back.
And so... there goes my morning nap...
And so... crisis averted...
That'll teach me not to get up and start shoveling when the snow removal team messes with Fake Jake's routine!
After my bagel and cream cheese breakfast, I took a shower and got ready for work. All was good... until... I went to get in my car and pulled something in my back. I had screwed it up last week and had been taking care to move gently until it had healed. I thought I was fine... but then had to go shoveling a path for a cat and messed things up again.
Good times. Good times.
Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
Air travel is expensive, yo.
And as somebody who has done their fair share of finding fair fares, I can tell you that it's just getting worse and worse. Airlines are raking in millions... billions... in profit, and they're doing it by raising the cost to fly and nickel-and-diming you to death for absolutely everything. Most airlines still serve you a tiny cup of Coke and a cookie or a wee bag of snack mix for "free"... but if you want to actually have something to eat, you'll have to pay for it. Want to check a bag? You'll pay for that too. Want to sit in the front of the plane? How about have a reserved seat? Oh yeah, most airlines are definitely charging for that now.
It reminds me of a cartoon series by Al Jaffee from MAD magazine back in 1975...
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions
Artwork by Al Jaffee and ©1975 Mad Magazine — from Heritage Auctions
Funny thing is... Jaffee wasn't that far off. Kinda.
Well... unless you are an elite flyer with the airline. Then you get some of those perks at no additional cost. There's also perks (like checked bags) which you can get by having a credit card from the airline.
But for the casual traveler? Most of the things you pay for now are stuff that you didn't have to not so long ago. Given the price to fly, it's like adding insult on top of injury, but that's the way it goes.
A while back my home airline, Alaska Air, was facing stiff competition in critical markets from discount no-frills airlines. Rather than continue to lose infrequent flyers to these bargain-basement alternatives... or have to cut fares on their "Basic Economy" seats and lose money... they introduced "Saver Fares" which give you a cheaper rate with some serious restrictions...
As an example of the savings, here's a Seattle to Boston flight, each way...
So... $60 savings total, roundtrip.
Unless I was really strapped for cash and positive my plans wouldn't change, there's just no way I'd ever do this. Sure you save $60... but if something happens with your travel plans (this happens to me all the time), you're out $468 for a ticket you can't use.
Despite my having an aversion to "Saver Fares," I am awfully glad that Alaska has them for people who only care about price. I want my local airline to be successful, and anything they can do to be competitive is something I am in favor of.
At 6'2" what I'm not in favor of is cutting legroom... yet again... though it would seem the FAA has put a stop to that. At least for now. Heaven only knows what regulations Presidebt Trump is going to abolish next that fuck people over in favor of his corporate owners.
But something tells me it will resemble something straight out of Mad magazine, like everything else he does.
Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019
Don't ask me why, but I watch the Westminster Dog Show every year.
This year my dedication was rewarded with "Winky"... a little Bichon Frise running the agility course. This hilarious pup was in no hurry at all to complete the course, and was happy to stop for applause a couple of times. Needless to say, the crowd loved Winky...
Definitely not the fastest time, to be sure, but my favorite run of the show.
Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2019
For the first time in nearly 40 years, I didn't buy any flowers for today.
When I was young, my mom would give me money to buy flowers for my grandmother on Valentine's Day. Once I started earning money of my own I carried on, buying grandma flowers every year until she died in 2015. Because of that, it's tough not to think of my grandmother whenever February 14th rolls around. Even those years I had a girlfriend and would load her up with flowers and candy, it was still my grandma's holiday.
I would sometimes buy flowers for my mom, but every time I did she would tell me I should save the money for our next vacation instead. And so I did. Mostly. After she couldn't travel any more I started buying her flowers for Valentine's Day again in the hopes it would brighten her life a bit. Lord only knows she could use it given that her days were spent being confused and confined to a building.
But now she's gone as well.
And I am single.
So no flowers. But I do have my annual Valentine's Day card...
For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!
Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2019
I woke up not knowing whether or not I'd be on my way to Las Vegas today.
The forecast for this week was "partly cloudy" but it ended up being "Snowmageddon Part 2: The Snowpocalypse" and flights were being canceled left and right. I don't think I single flight left my local airport yesterday. Driving over the mountain passes was out of the question because they keep closing.
But because this is one of those rare trip to Vegas for fun with friends where I don't have a deadline... all my flights were fine. Better than fine, actually, thanks to a First Class upgrade...
It's only when I have to be at a critical meeting at a precise time that all my flights are delayed, canceled, or otherwise screwed up.
Glitter Gulch awaits.
Posted on Saturday, February 16th, 2019
I end up in Las Vegas for work a lot. Four to six times a year. On those trips, it's not my favorite place. Because when you're here for work, it can be the loneliest city on earth. It's not like most cities where you can wander to a small corner cafe, soak up the atmosphere, and feel a part of something real. Partly because there are no small corner cafes (at least not on The Strip or in Old Town), but mostly because nothing in Las Vegas is real.
But when you're here with friends?
Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities on earth.
Tonight we wandered around and ended up at the fountains at the Bellagio, which is always nice...
From there, some of us went to Brilliant, which is a light show at the Neon Museum "boneyard" where to play popular songs associated to Vegas while signs light up and videos play. I've seen it before, and it was actually quite nice...
As you can tell from that bottom photo where everybody is bundled up an shivering, this time is was bitter cold. As in "I'm wearing my winter coat but still freezing my ass off" cold. And thank heavens I had my winter coat, because I would have been a wreck without it. I rarely travel to Vegas in the dead of winter, so I had no idea this was what was awaiting me. Fortunately, I had dressed for the weather back home to get to the airport, so I was (somewhat) prepared.
At the end of the day, I was up $36 thanks to a lucky pull at a slot machine in the Paris hotel. If I play my cards right (or, better still, don't play cards at all) I just might go home with my shirt on my back.
Given the weather both here and back home, that's actually my best-case scenario.
Posted on Sunday, February 17th, 2019
Five hundred days of bullets and counting... because Bullet Sunday live from Las Vegas starts now...
• Fremont! I'm not much of a gambler, but if I'm going to do so, my preferred place to throw away my money would be "Old Town Vegas" AKA Fremont Street. It's a little more laid back, the slots are looser, and it doesn't take 20 minutes to walk between casinos. And then there's the giant canopy which helps protect you from the rain... like what was coming down last night in sprinkles. Also? It's pretty...
• Alaska! I've never had an "Alaskan Waffle" before. I've never even heard of the term. Essentially, it's a waffle with ice cream, which is genius. Needless to say, I had to try it...
Way. Way. Way too sweet for me. I could only eat half of it. But I give it a 9 out of 10... would order again.
• Venice! Most of the big theme hotels on the Vegas Strip are beautiful and well done. But The Venetian is probably my favorite. When we passed through for dinner, they had a fantastic Chinese New Year display up...
As you might guess, It's "The Year of the Pig." And this little piggy was huge. And gold.
• Dessert! One of the many restaurants in The Palazzo (at The Venetian) is Mott 32, a high-end Chinese affair. We went there for dessert after dinner at The Factory, because they're just so amazing. "I had The Bamboo Green Forest"...
Pretty phenomenal. The base is a scoop of yogurt lime sorbet floating in heavy yuzu cream. On top is shredded matcha sponge cake surrounded by crispy yoghrt crumbs and topped with white chocolate bamboo spears and crumbles.
• Wonder! Finally got a chance to play Wonder Woman slots...
I'd seen it before, of course, but never had a chance to give it a shot. Princess Diana was not kind to me. Ended up walking away with 10¢ after spending $20.
Until next week when I'll be back home. I think...
Posted on Monday, February 18th, 2019
Today I got to Las Vegas McCarran Airport just in time to see that my flight to San Francisco was being delayed. Since I had a tight connection to my Seattle flight followed by a tight connection home, I went to the Alaska Air ticket counter to find out if I was going to make my connecting plane in SFO. They thought I probably could, assuming there were no further delays, but were happy to put me on a Seattle-direct flight that was leaving right away.
This was a huge relief, because spending the night in San Francisco... or Seattle... because I missed one (or both) of my flights was not how I wanted to spend my Monday.
After arriving in Seattle I had just over four hours to kill, so I had some dinner and hung out until it was time to go to my gate.
Which was... D25?!??
I found this funny because I knew full well that the D Concourse at SeaTac doesn't go that high. Out of curiosity, I headed down D and find a way-too-small sign pointing to a new expansion, which still doesn't make much sense (where could they fit the planes?). So there I was, going DOWN to gate D25... only to find that there are no planes. Which means that they built this multi-million dollar expansion to bus people to their planes? Oh yay!
Just when I think that this piece of crap airport couldn't possibly be a bigger piece of crap... here it is. On top of having to bus, which is already a bummer, whomever designed this steaming pile obviously doesn't ever spend time at airports, because there are STILL not enough seats! As in ALMOST NO SEATS! There was one flight going out of the terminal... ONE... and people were still having to stand around and sit on the floor...
I wish I could say I'm surprised. Like everywhere else at SeaTac, there aren't enough places to sit down because they've been ripping out all the chairs to make room for retail shops. Here they had a golden opportunity to FINALLY make sure there was ample seating available in a brand new building... and completely blew it. Turns out this massive new "concourse" is MOSTLY VACANT SPACE! Hardly any seating at all. GREAT JOB, PORT OF SEATTLE! Probably rubber-stamped by the same brilliant decision-maker who decided to take down the entire fucking food court for months and months and months to make cosmetic changes to something that wasn't that old to begin with. Brilliant use of money. How the fuck do I get a job where I can do nothing but sit back and think of ways to waste tons of money and screw over weary travelers?
But the lack of seating was just the beginning.
They also put in stairs instead of escalators. How stupid is that? The vast, vast majority of people WHO ARE AT AN AIRPORT are going to have luggage with them. A burden that's far easier to navigate with an escalator... WHICH IS WHY THEY FUCKING PUT ESCALATORS IN AIRPORTS! Not that SeaTac can keep their escalators running for shit anyways. They're constantly breaking down.
And so your choices to get down to the bus gates are as follows...
And then there's this bussing business.
Look, I get it. Having to add more and more flights means more and more planes and, after a while, you simply run out of space. That being said, bussing to planes is an absolutely horrendous fucking solution, and one I absolutely hate. Especially in a city like Seattle that's known for rain. Nothing like getting completely drenched while waiting to go up a bunch of stairs after unpacking from a frickin' bus.
Even worse? Seattle's airport is simply not set up to bus efficiently because there's no room for a bus route to go. Most of the time on the ride was spent waiting for planes and service vehicles to get out of the way. And you'd think that once you finally get to your plane your troubles are over. But that's not the case. Because the aircraft is still way, way at the other side of the airport. So servicing the plane means that airport personnel also have to make their way out to the aircraft. And that takes a while, as we learned when this announcement was made...
"Sorry for the extended delay, but this spot is really difficult to get to, and we had to wait for them to find us with the paperwork we need before we can take off."
Right now you may be thinking "How much worse can this fiasco get?"
Let me tell you!
THE PILOT HAD TO NAVIGATE THE AIRPORT IN REVERSE IN ORDER TO GET TO THE RUNWAY. I SHIT YOU NOT! They actually had to drive the plane BACKWARDS... ALL THE WAY TO THE FUCKING RUNWAY! That's how much room there is in the tarmac backwater where they are piling up planes to bus us to.
You can't make this stuff up.
Just another layover at lovely SeaTac airport.
Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
Well, boo! Last week got an email from Best Buy saying that their "Gamers Club Unlocked" program is ending. I haven't been buying many video games the last couple years... preferring to spend my money on woodworking tools... but the 20% off you get from the club was great. Whenever there was a game I wanted, I'd wait for there to be a price drop or sale, then take the 20% off of the reduced price so I could actually afford it. Because, seriously, the $50 to $60 that games cost now-a-days is crazy. 20% off of $30 ($24) is much more my speed.
Oh well. I probably shouldn't be spending money on video games anyway. I've got plenty of games to last me.
The bummer is that I've got all these Best Buy rewards certificates I was saving up for the Next Big Game. Because paying $0 is even better than paying $24.
And by "Next Big Game" I'm guessing the remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening which looks plastic cartoony and wonderful...
What's truly remarkable is how they updated everything, but stayed true to the original and made it look so familiar...
So cool. And boy does that bring back video games memories.
But more on video games tomorrow...
Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
I've been a fan of video games for as long as video games existed.
It all started in the 70's when my family was eating at Mr. Geno's Pizza and they had a Pong machine that you could play from your table on a television that was mounted in the corner. It was magical being able to turn a knob and actually control something displayed on the TV. I ended up wanting to eat at Mr. Gino's a lot.
Flashing forward... I was on a field trip to coast where we were on a ferry boat for some reason (I can't remember why or where we were going). This is where I saw Space Invaders for the first time. It was a lot of money to play... 25¢... but it was worth every penny.
Flashing forward... All I wanted was an Atari 2600 so I could play video games at home. My parents obliged me for my birthday... or Christmas... or something... and it was all I wanted to do.
Flashing forward... All I wanted was an Atari 800 computer... not so I could learn how to program one, but because I wanted to play Star Raiders.
Flashing forward... And video games have been a huge part of my life. I've owned an insane number of home/handheld consoles over the years...
Flashing forward... Though I owned a PS4, Xbobx One, and a Wii U, I rarely played them because I never had time. Most all my video games were played while traveling, which meant they were played on my Nintendo 3DS. A system I loved so much that I upgraded to the 3DS XL the minute it became available.
Then the Nintendo Switch was released...
At first I mostly ignored Switch because I already had two consoles I was ignoring. But then I started spending more and more time waiting in hospitals and doctor offices with my mom throughout 2017, and the idea of playing console games on-the-go was too good to be true. So I traded in my PS4 and Xbox One and got one.
It's not as powerful as a PS4 or Xbox One... not by a long shot... but you can play games in the palm of your hands that are full-on console-quality and that's pretty amazing. Then you can also dock it to your television and play there as well. And the transition is seamless. Like the above commercial demonstrates, you can start playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the plane as a handheld, then come home and dock it to pick up exactly where you left off. And the games look pretty good either way.
What's surprising is that the Switch dock doesn't have any expanded hardware in it. When you are using the Switch's built-in screen for handheld, it's running at 720p. When you dock to your television it can run up to 1080p, and it's all coming off of the Switch unit. Given how ridiculously small the system is, that's a pretty incredible feat.
Now, when it comes to games, I'm not at all hardcore. My favorite thing to do is to sit back and play the latest LEGO video game. They're relatively easy and a lot of fun. Just what I need to kick back, relax, and forget the world. And because this is as taxing as my gaming gets, I'm Nintendo's core demographic... and the ideal candidate for the Switch. But things have taken a surprising turn. The hardware is powerful enough that some decidedly non-Nintendo-ish titles are being released. Including critically acclaimed games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and my most favorite game on the Switch, Diablo III: The Eternal Collection....
And, yes, I ended up buying the blue/red version of the Switch*
It's a flawless translation. It looks wonderful in handheld or console mode. It plays like a dream no matter how much chaos is on the screen. I have no idea how they managed to do such a good job, but it's a joy to play. And I've played it a lot since it was released last November.
Do I miss my PS4 and Xbox One? Kinda. The buttery smooth 60fps, hi-res graphics and raw power of those consoles makes video games a complete dream to play... but Nintendo's plan to sacrifice power for portability is a good one. There is nothing quite like playing Diablo III on an airplane at 30,000 feet. Especially since that's about the only place I have time for video games now-a-days.
So thanks for that, Nintendo!
*When I first saw the Switch, I was horrified by the lopsided blue/red color scheme. But when it came time to buy the thing, I passed over the grey/grey version because I decided I liked the colorful one after all. It's just so unique and pretty.
Posted on Thursday, February 21st, 2019
...I have a cold. If that's the worse thing I caught on the plane, I'll be grateful (considering we're in the middle of a measles epidemic here in Washington State).
That being said, why in the heck haven't scientists come up for a cure for the common cold yet? Oh yeah, that's right...
There ain't no money in the cure. The money's in the medicine.
Not that it makes any difference. If they came out with an immunization that prevented colds tomorrow, there would still be people taking a pass because fucking Jenny McCarthy told them that vaccinations cause autism or some other crazy shit. Which is why we're in the middle of a measles epidemic!
Enjoy your preventable diseases, everybody.
Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2019
In order to be able to take time off to go to Vegas, I had to work obscenely long hours the week before I left. Because I had to work obscenely long hours, I was sleep-deprived and my body was run down. Because I was run down, my immune system was compromised. And because my immune system was compromised, I got sick on my flight to/from Las Vegas.
It has been pretty bad. So bad that I've only been able to work part-days since returning. The rest of the time I've been plopped down on the couch watching television with my cats. But mostly Jake...
Jenny is easily spooked and would run away when I'd cough or blow my nose. Jake is somehow able to ignore it. Kinda like with the vacuum cleaner.
The good news is that I'm all caught up on my shows.
The bad news is that I'm going to have to start working late so I can get caught up on the work I missed while I was sick.
The vicious circle continues.
Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019
Like most people with cats, I do what I can to keep them amused. I put cat trees in the windows so they can look out. I buy all kinds of toys. I put scratching posts everywhere. I built a catio so they can go outside. And I play with them when I can find time.
But Jake and Jenny are also fairly inventive when it comes to entertaining themselves. Which mostly involves them chasing each other all around the house.
Jake's latest entertainment? Climbing up to the top perch in the catio, knocking icicles off the roof, then running down and playing with any pieces that landed inside the catio...
Jenny doesn't like the racket, but will gladly go out and play with any ice on the ground once the commotion is over.
The icicles on the catio are pretty small. They don't have the water volume to get very big, so they're not much of a danger. The icicles off the roof, however, are pretty severe. Once Jake and Jenny hear one drop, both cats will rush to the window and hang out for long periods of time waiting for more to drop...
Unfortunately, Jake will stare out any window waiting for icicles, even on a side of the house where there are no icicles. My neighbor slams a car door and away he goes, staring not at the neighbors, but at the roof-line...
It's okay that he's not terribly bright, because he's awfully handsome...
Maybe once the icicles are gone, I'll have to see if tossing some ice cubes in the catio will end up being something they want to play with. It's certainly worth a shot because it beats spending money on toys they get bored of in ten minutes.
Posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2019
Don't let Oscar-mania get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Oscar! I stopped watching the Oscars and other award shows years ago. The movies I like best rarely win anything and, given how little weight awards seem to carry in casting, it seems like pointless endeavor anyway. Just an excuse for Hollywood to congratulate itself in a pricey spectacle that seems to award based on factors outside of actual talent. Suffice to say I want Black Panther to win as many awards as possible (even though it will be passed over for Best Picture by The Favourite or (more likely) yet another white savior tale with Green Book. I am also pulling for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to win for Best Animated Feature. Other than that? =yawn=.
• WAKANDA FOREVER! One bit I did see from The Oscars was this hilarious intro of Black Panther by Trevor Noah...
But it gets better. Not soon after the video was posted, I ran across this...
Xhosa is a fascinating language. And every time I hear it, I think of this video I saw years ago which attempts to explain the sounds...
Things like this makes me love this planet. How exciting is it that there's so much incredible diversity out there waiting to be discovered?
• Whiskey! While I did not watch The Oscars, I most certainly watched Whiskey Cavalier which followed The Oscars...
I was not disappointed. It's kinda a James-Bond-ish spy show with some humor and a darn good cast. Time will tell if they fall into the trap of having to two lead characters fall in love (which is always when things go terribly, terribly wrong). Hopefully if they do jump that shark, it will happen later rather than sooner, because I'd like to enjoy it for a while longer.
• Oh Captain! While I am absolutely dying to see Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, I think I'm even more excited for Captain Marvel to be released next month. Everything about it looks amazing, and the fact that Carol Danvers will play a big part in Endgame is interesting to me. And speaking of Captain Marvel... I really wanted the original one-sheet movie poster that was released, but couldn't find it available for a sane price anywhere. It was Wonder Woman all over again, where I wanted the gorgeous pre-release poster but could only find it second-market for obscene amounts of money. I think they were under printed because "women super-heroes won't sell," which is really a shame. But then I was looking to see if there were any pre-orders available for Spider-Man: Far From Home when I saw that both posters had gotten a second printing! Sweet! Now they're both hanging in my upstairs hallway where they belong...
Such amazing colors in both of them! So happy that they were reprinted at something I could afford.
• Curiosity! The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity were incredible feats of engineering that exceeded their projected lifespan or two years by quite a wide margin. Spirit ran for 6 years and traveled nearly 5 miles. Opportunity ran for 14 years and traveled nearly 28 miles. And then there's Curiosity, which landed in August 2012 and is still running. Or so NASA thinks. On its most recent reboot, the poor thing went into an unexpected "safe mode" and engineers had to get that straightened out...
Personally? I think it was a moment of silence to honor the end of Opportunity's mission, which NASA called on February 12th after it had gone silent since June 10th last year. Great job, buddy. Hopefully humans will get to visit you one day.
• Pika! I've never been into Pokémon that much (despite enjoying Pokémon Let's Go on the Switch), but I gotta say... I'm looking forward to Detective Pikachu on May 10th...
Probably because they gave him Ryan Reynold's voice and rendered all the Pokémon so brilliantly. One more interesting-looking movies in a string of interesting-looking movies for 2019. With some exceptions, of course...
Absolutely no idea how Disney's Aladdin is going to pan out. By and large I haven't been enjoying the live-action remakes that much, but this one looks like the diciest translation yet.
And the award for best bullets goes to...
Posted on Monday, February 25th, 2019
Last night the Oscar for Best Picture went (unsurprisingly) to Green Book, yet another "white savior" film where stories detailing the lives of Black people are told through the lens of the white people who "rescued them" from racism and made life better for the entire Black race because of it. It's a trope that's been done to death, but Hollywood just can't seem to help themselves.
Whether it's a story of outright theft, as in The Help where a young white woman "liberates" Black servants in the 1960's by publishing their stories in her best-selling book (the story of which was stolen in real-life too)... or real events being reframed, as in 42 where Jackie Robinson's story is snatched away from him to be viewed from the perspective of the white Major League Baseball executive who decided to integrate the sport (and his white teammates who overcame their prejudices to accept him as a player)... or the unforgivable revisionist history in Hidden Figures where white Kevin Costner rips down a "whites only" sign on the bathroom so Katherine Johnson didn't have to run across campus to pee (something that never fucking happened)... it's a tired trend of making white people the hero in the lives of Black heroes when the actual stories are compelling enough as they are.
In the case of the Oscar-winning film Green Book, we get the story of real-life Black pianist great Don Shirley hiring a racist white chauffeur to drive him for a concert tour. Something which would be a great story, right? Except it ends up being the story of how Don Shirley's driver overcame his racism to build a friendship with him instead, making the white guy the hero of the movie. Because of course he was. Getting a movie about Don Shirley told from the perspective of Don Shirley is apparently asking too much. That film wouldn't get an Oscar for Best Picture because white voters wouldn't have somebody to root for (Black Panther had white Agent Ross, but he was only a minor hero in the movie... if Marvel wanted Black Panther to be a real Oscar contender, they apparently should have told T'Challa's story from the perspective of the white guy and how he saved all of Wakanda).
But I digress...
I'm not holding my breath that we'll get a major motion picture about Don Shirley from Don Shirley's perspective, but tonight on The Smithsonian Channel we did get a documentary on The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which inspired the name of the big budget film that did see release...
Titled The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the documentary is a terrific exploration of the "travel and survival book" for African-Americans who dared to travel during a time when traveling while Black was a potentially life-ending experience. Stay out too late in the wrong city with the wrong color of skin, and it could mean your death. Something that we like to think happened hundreds of years ago in this country... but "Sundown Towns" were still in existence into the 1960's... less than 60 years ago. Meaning that there are people alive today who survived this horrific segregation brutality first-hand (and some of them are interviewed in this program).
If you have the opportunity to see it, The Green Book Guide to Freedom gets my highest possible recommendation.
NOTE: The documentary is excellent, must-see material that's well worth your valuable time. As of this writing, iTunes has it available for FREE and I think other streaming services may be giving it away as well.
NOTE: Another resource I enjoyed was this article from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture which has links to digitized copies of The Green-Book as well as a US map where locations have been mapped out... and even a Green-Book travel planner tool!
The first I had heard of The Green-Book was when I was visiting one of the best museums I've ever seen... The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. They explained that away-games for Black players was often a difficult ordeal given that there may not be restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other kind of services available between cities (or even in the city once you got there). Everything had to be meticulously planned, and even then you could still end up in danger if a bus broke down or some other pitfall ensued.
As I was reading about this abhorrent concept, I overheard a couple nearby talking about "The Green-Book." I had never heard of it before, so I investigated further on Wikipedia when I got back to my hotel...
I found out that it's essentially an AAA Guide with a specific audience in mind. Namely, Black motorists during the time of segregation. Inside you get a list of African-American friendly hotels, restaurants, and other businesses designed to make travel safer and more enjoyable...
As explained on The Green Book Guide to Freedom, the books often-times had editorials and articles that went beyond travel, delving into civil rights issues of the day. As also explained on the program, the book was created in the hopes that one day it wouldn't be needed. Ultimately creator Victor Hugo Green got his wish, and the final issue was published the year I was born, 1966. Sadly Green died in 1960, four years before the Civil Rights Act came into being and six years before his book ceased publication.
Not that the end of segregation was the end of segregation. South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster infamously refused to give up his all-white country club membership when he took office... just two years ago in 2017. Not to mention a president who has said white nationalists have some very fine people in their ranks. Apparently to some people, The Negro Motorist Green-Book was not a symbol of escaping oppression but a symbol of "the good ol' days." Which kinds of puts that whole "Make America Great Again" bullshit into proper perspective, doesn't it?
Seek out The Smithsonian Channel's The Green Book Guide to Freedom. You'll be glad you did.
Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2019
Well, the family of raccoons were back last night. Though this time I only counted three instead of the five that showed up last time.
Usually when another cat wanders by the catio, Jake and Jenny are dashing for the kitty-door at top speed so they can confront whomever is invading their territory. But when it's raccoons, Jake is perfectly happy to watch them pass from the comfort and safety of inside the house...
Once the gaze had passed, Jake went dashing out to make sure they were really gone, which had me all kinds of worried. What if they came back and took a swipe at him? After the problems with his urinary tract last year, I was not anxious for yet another emergency visit to the vet for a rabies check. He spent the rest of the night wandering between all the windows to make sure the danger didn't return. By the time I went to bed at 1:30am, the poor guy was thoroughly tuckered out and fell fast asleep next to me within minutes.
Jenny, meanwhile, was obliviously sleeping in the guest bedroom... never appreciating that Jake was protecting her from the threat of DEATH BY RACCOON.
I can't fathom what raccoons find to eat this time of year. And I notice that they're noticeably thinner than last time. Hopefully it's not scarcity of food that's driven them from where they normally live. Thanks to Jake, Jenny, and Fake Jake, I have my hands full caring for enough animals already.
Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
I have been existing in a drug-induced limbo state.
I need to catch up on work, but I can't go into the office as sick as I am. So I take loads of medications which will allow me to function. But overdosing on the meds that allows me to function makes me sick to my stomach. So I work in a haze all day then end up nauseated all night. Then have to take a bunch of nighttime meds so I can even attempt to get some sleep.
It's a horrendous game of catch-22 where I get sick from the thing that makes it so I can deal with being sick.
And yet... until the weekend, I don't really have much choice.
Here's to surviving hump-day.
Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019
This has been a weird, wacky winter.
To begin with, our snow came late this year. For a while I was worried that we were in for a drought come summertime because there wasn't much of a snow pack in the mountains. After a couple false starts, the snow came down in earnest, and now it's piled up like a "normal" winter here.
We keep getting warm spells in-between the snowfalls. Warm blue skies will pop up, things will start to melt, you'll think that winter is over... and then it snows again.
Last night as I was watching television there was a rumble coming from the catio. When I looked out the window, I saw that a pile of snow had fallen off the roof, obliterating the path that Fake Jake uses to get to his food and bathroom spot. At first I thought I'd write a note to remind me to shovel it out in the morning... but then I felt bad if poor Fake Jake had to pee in the middle of the night, so I grabbed my snow shovel from the trunk of my car and headed out back to get to work.
Except I couldn't open the door...
Because of all the warm days, the catio screen door was blocked. The water drips off the roof down these massive icicles, forming a pile of ice in front of the door. Making it impossible to open. So instead I had to trudge through snow all the way around the house so I could even get to my patio...
Then I had to trudge back to get a hammer. The icicles were so big that I couldn't snap them off or break them with my shovel. Instead I had to get a hammer and chip away at them. The last thing I want is for Fake Jake to be walking there and have icicles fall and impale the poor guy.
My neighbors probably didn't appreciate my banging away after midnight, but it was all for a worthy cause.
This coming summer I need to work on clearing a pathway under my eaves to make it easier for Fake Jake to navigate in the winter. Right now it's all rocks, which are difficult to walk on, so I need to come up with something different. I also need to see about adding some kind of overhang to my pergola plans so that there's no ice buildup outside the catio. Some kind of snow removal tool in the design would be good too.
Ugh. I hope spring gets here soon so I have time to get everything done that I need to do before next winter rolls around.
Posted on Friday, March 1st, 2019
This has been a tough week. My cold transitioned into stomach flu.
Which has been horrible in all the worst ways... except today when I finally managed to keep crackers down. The first thing I haven't thrown up in two days.
Next up? A bagel for breakfast.
Posted on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
Without being able to keep any food down for two-and-a-half days, I couldn't do much except sleep. Which was fine. My hope was that I'd be able to snooze through my stomach flu. It was a nice plan, except my head and neck ached so badly that getting comfortable enough to sleep was not easy.
This morning when the alarm to feed the cats went off, my plan was to try eating a bagel for breakfast. But when I got out of bed to go downstairs, I felt waves of nausea crash over me, so I decided to feed the cats then go right back to bed.
That's when I saw that Jake and Jenny had brought up a huge number of toys in the middle of the night... assumably to give me something to play with as I lay around recovering...
Isn't that sweet?
And speaking of bed...
My cats have been by my side for pretty much the entire time I've been confined to my bedroom. Even though I've done nothing but sleep and watch television. Both of them enjoy watching television with me, so it's the perfect holiday to them...
Though Jenny often looked at me warily. I'm guessing it's because she doesn't know whether or not the stomach flu was contagious to cats...
I swear, Jenny can give the most adorable sour looks.
Jake didn't seem to worry too much about getting sick, however...
Not that my sickness stopped Jenny from taking her turn getting belly rubs...
And butt scratches...
I think the kitties actually like it when I'm sick and spend all day with them...
Kinda nice to have somebody keeping me company all this time.
I mean, it's not like they decided to clean the house or make their own breakfast to help me out.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for another nap.
Posted on Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
The King of Pop may be gone, but he's not forgotten... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...
• WAH! WAAAAH! WAAAAAAAAHH! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! Walmart has released a new online ad series called "Love is in the Aisle" which is a dating show that takes place in their stores. The second episode features two guys, so naturally hate organizations (like The American Family Association) are losing their fucking minds...
Which is kinda pathetic and sad, but it's not like you can expect anything less from a bunch of homophobic bigots who hide behind their warped ideal of "family" while persecuting actual families who happen to have two moms or two dads. Looks like these assholes are running out of places to shop.
• Porn and Candy. The new HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, has finally aired. It details allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, and a $100 million lawsuit by his estate has already been unleashed...
Photo by Dave Hogan and Getty Images
As you can imagine, it's incredibly fucked up. What's surprising to me is in the way it's fucked up. The sexual abuse was horrific, yes, but the mental abuse was magnitudes worse. One minute you're made the center of Michael Jackson's life and promised the world... the next you've been replaced with another young boy and made to wonder what you did wrong to deserve that. I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, but there are songs of his I like. Until this documentary, I was able to separate the art from the man. But now? There's just no way. I believe his victims. It's entirely too likely that Michael Jackson was a total piece of shit and I'm glad he's not around to abuse children any more.
• Sparkly! "Will she spit or poop?" — A question that always makes date night interesting...
And to think... I had to make do with G.I. Joe when I was a kid.
• Worthy! And lo did Steven Spielberg descend from his throne in Hollywood to decree that films from online studios like Netflix should be exempt from Oscar consideration. Apparently he feels that only films which have a full theatrical run (as opposed to a limited run just to qualify for awards) should be classified as "real films." Or something like that. You know... real films... like Hook or Joe vs. The Volcano.
Ummm... yeah... no.
I love a movie theaters better than most. I love the cinema. I love viewing films where the entire experience, from the size of the screen to the sounds you hear, are all optimized for the best enjoyment of a movie and the way the filmmakers wanted it to be seen. But how often does that happen? Now-a-days, you've got people texting and talking on their mobile phones... people eating and making noise... people letting their kids run wild... people being overall assholes who don't care that they are ruining the movie for everybody else. And that doesn't even begin to cover the reality that many movies could never be made or even get distribution within the major Hollywood movie system. Unlike Steven Spielberg, they are locked out and wouldn't get to tell their stories if not for alternative studios like Netflix. Movies that deserve recognition if they're worthy of recognition.
So... Spielberg can just take a damn seat and shut the entire fuck up. I'd argue that my home theater "experience" is far better than dealing with the constant distractions from assholes at the theater. AND I don't have to pay $20 for a popcorn and a Coke. AND I get to see movies that Hollywood would never touch in a million years. God Save Netflix.
• Flerf! And speaking of Netflix, they've got a documentary on the "flat earth" movement called Behind the Curve. It's mostly ridiculous, but a part of it seems to be advocating for... tolerance? BWAH HA HA HA HAAA! Yeah, right. I am not going to "respect the opinion" of dumbass flat earthers. I have zero problem mocking idiots who deny what can be observed with their own eyes and goes against fundamental scientific truths and irrefutable evidence. Every hilarious "explanation" that flat earthers come up with for things like eclipses, how GPS works, Antarctica, and the curvature of the earth, are so fucking stupid that I can't even fathom how anybody could possibly buy into it. Unless they're fucking idiots as well. These tin foil hat wearing morons aren't even worth debunking... so this documentary doesn't even try. They just present mentally deficient people like Mark Sargent and Nathan Thompson in their LITERAL bubble-reality worldview. It's all more infuriating than fascinating or enlightening. But they do have an occasional moment where they drop actual knowledge (including a hysterical bit at the end), so I guess that's something.
Until next week, stay vigilant, young crusader...
Posted on Monday, March 4th, 2019
There are 52 weeks in a year. I just wasted one of them being sick. I am more than a little upset about that. Didn't get much done at all. Didn't get through any work. Didn't watch hardly any of the television shows stacked up on my DVR. Didn't level up my character in Diablo III. Didn't clean my house. Just slept a lot and laid around with my cats moaning about how miserable I was.
Fortunately I don't get sick very often. I mean really sick where I'm vomiting all over the place and want to die. And for that I'm grateful. But I'm also starting to worry about all the upcoming travel I've got. It's not outside the realm of possibility that I will be so weakened from being sick that I'll just cascade from one ailment to another for my entire Spring.
But boy I hope not.
I other news... I turned off Carl the RoboVac while I was home because I didn't want him waking me up from whatever sleep I was able to get. Last night I finally let him run through the house and was shocked at how much cat hair piles up in a week. The bin was completely full! I let him charge up overnight, ran him again this morning, and the bin was completely full again! Kinda amazing how much my cats shed... but even more amazing at how incredible Carl the RoboVac is at keeping up with it all. Upstairs Carl and Downstairs Carl remain two of the best investments I've made!
Posted on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
Friends come and go. But good friends get stuck in your life.
When there's a friend who has been stuck with you for 34 years, saying goodbye is the hardest goodbye you'll have to say. Especially when you've had the adventures that we've had...
Some of the best times of my life have you in them, and it's impossible to me that you're gone.
Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019
Well that was an adventure.
When I drove over the mountains on Monday, it was bare roads and sunny blue skies. When I drove back this morning, it was snowy roads and overcast skies. I also had ten miles of white-out conditions where traffic crawled to 20mph as travelers struggled to even see the road.
And now that I'm home?
There have been many years of my life where winter has run well into March, but this year I'm just ready for it to be done. I need to get my garage converted to a wood shop and start in on the long list of projects I've got lined up. Several of them are going to take months of work, so the sooner I get started, the more I can get done.
In the meanwhile though?
When your heart is broken and you just don't want to face the world, what else is there?
Posted on Thursday, March 7th, 2019
I missed Aquaman in the theater. I had wanted to see it but life kept getting in the way and, to be honest, it was not a priority for me. Despite a home run with Wonder Woman, DC has a horrendous track record with their new "universe" of films, and I just don't give a shit. Especially not enough to have to sit with a bunch of rude assholes at the local cineplex. If ever there was a movie studio screaming "wait-for-video," it's DC.
But now that Aquaman is on iTunes, I plunked down my $20 to take a look. Not as good as it could have been... much better than what I was expecting. I don't plan on spoiling anything major here... but, if you haven't seen it yet (and are planning on doing so), you might want to wait before reading.
There was some stuff I liked...
And the stuff I didn't...
In the end, Aquaman wasn't a bad effort. Far from it, there was actually a lot to enjoy here. Partly because of the imagination at work in bringing Atlantis alive... but mostly because director James Wan went out of his way to run as far away from Justice League as he could. The problem with DC movies being that he had to do so in the first place. Still, they've already announced a sequel to be released in 2022, so maybe the best Aquaman movie is yet to come? Time will tell.
Time to update my "Y2K Super-Hero Comic Book Renaissance" scorecard...
Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2019
Happy International Women's Day! It seems only fitting that I saw Captain Marvel, the first movie by Marvel Studios to headline a woman, today.
When you are a huge fan of comic book movies... but also well-versed in the original comics which inspired them... you have a fine line to walk. On one hand, you have to understand that what works in comic books doesn't always translate to screen, so there will be changes made. On the other hand, movies that stray too far from the source material are throwing away what made them popular enough to be made into movies in the first place.
DC Comics' attempt at a "shared universe" of stories has been a complete disaster. They not only take a steaming shit on their source material*, they can't even be consistent between films. Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman don't match up, even though the entire point of rebooting everything was to make it so they do match up.
Marvel, on the other hand, has made painstaking strides to ensure that their entire "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is consistent and everything syncs together. There have been minor missteps but, for the most part, they have succeeded beyond all reason. On top of that, they have also been exceedingly respectful of their source material. Changes are made, of course, but they are changes that (mostly) make sense.
And then along comes Captain Marvel...
The comic book character has a long... very long... history. "She" was originally a "he" and explaining how we got from point A to point B would take pages to explain. Suffice to say that the original (male) was a Kree warrior. An explosion of an alien device merged his DNA with that of Carol Danvers, turning her into a super-powered Human/Kree hybrid known as "Ms. Marvel." Over the years she became "Binary" followed by "Warbird." Eventually she came back around to "Ms. Marvel" before landing on "Captain Marvel" in her character-defining series of the same name by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Last year Marvel completely changed her origin. Instead of being a human that became a Kree hybrid in an explosion, it turns out her mother was a Kree all along, and the explosion just "awakened" her powers.
Personally, I thought that the change was a load of shit that was entirely unnecessary. But apparently Marvel wanted a strong, independent female character whose powers weren't derived from a man, so this is what we got.
The movie is something entirely different. Ordinarily this would be a major sticking point for me... but, in this case, I understand why they did what they did. Unlike the Marvel Comic Book Universe which is going on 60 years now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just 10 years old. Adding a new character with such an extensive and complicated history like Captain Marvel and having them work within such a truncated timeline is nigh impossible unless liberties are taken. How do you have her get her powers from the original Captain Marvel without having to explain who he is? Well, within a 2-hour movie, you don't.
That being said, I think Marvel did the best they could to find a way to get Captain Marvel into their Cinematic Universe while still respecting the source material as best they could. Sure, there's a part of me that believes better choices could have been made, but only if the MCU was standing still. Which it's not. The current Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame storylines are massive undertakings which are the culmination of a decade's worth of films. Even by having Captain Marvel take place in the 1990's, there's only so much you can do.
And what Kevin Feige and Marvel did do is make a pretty darn good movie.
The story is mostly entertaining and cohesive within the bigger MCU picture. The characters are well-crafted, the dialogue is well-written (even if the humor doesn't always land), and Samuel L. Jackson turns in a computer-youthified performance that's as great as you would expect. Brie Larsen was terrific as Carol Danvers, though parts of her character felt oddly detached and lacking in subtlety. I'm hoping that this was an attempt to make her seem more "alien-like," but we won't know that until her future appearances (such as Avengers: Endgame, coming next month!).
If I have a criticism of the film, it would be that the action is not as engaging as it should have been. If you're going spend a good chunk of the movie playing detective so you can uncover Carol's past, you'd better darn well deliver when the fighting starts. Except the battles weren't quite "there"... sometimes bordering on tedious. I wish a little more thought had been put into providing more memorable action beats.
If you want to read my spoiler-filled comments on the film, you can do that in an extended entry.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, March 9th, 2019
Now that the weather has been nicer, Fake Jake is spending a lot more time outside of the heated shelter I built for him. The nights are still bitter cold though, so he's still hunkered down after sunset.
Many days he is waiting for me when I return home from work so he can get scratches. If it's warm out, I'll even leave the door open so he can visit with Jake through the screen door...
Fake Jake is too violent with other cats for me to risk letting him inside for a visit, but I think it's good for my cats to interact with other cats from time to time.
Though Jenny would still prefer to do so from a distance...
But not always. Sometimes when she's out in the catio, she'll sit quietly as one of the neighborhood cats walks by...
If they turn to engage her through the fence, however, she'll run back inside as fast as her little legs will carry her.
My cats have been doing a lot of rough-housing lately, but it must all be in good fun since they still get along just fine...
I'm really proud of Jenny. She will happily stand her ground (or even be the one to engage in battle) despite the fact that she's 1/3 smaller than Jake. This was not always the case. She used to run away if Jake even thought about taking a swipe at her. But now? She is a scheming death machine who will happily hide in waiting to ambush Jake when she is feeling sassy.
Last night Jake shoved her out of her cat bed (again) at which point she retreated to the cat tree so she could stare daggers down at him...
Meanwhile Jake is blissfully unaware that death is lurking from above...
Lucky for Jake, Jenny was really tired and face-planted while she was planning her attack...
This has been an incredibly difficult week for me, and I think my cats can sense that. On the days I've spent home, they've worked in shifts to keep me company. Jake has even taken to spending the entire night sleeping next to me...
This is a bit unusual because usually Jake and Jenny will only sleep next to me while I'm awake and petting them. The minute I fall asleep and stop petting them, they'll leave.
And speaking of leaving... looks like we've come to the end of another Caturday.
UPDATE: Tonight was a night filled with cat drama. Jake and Jenny saw raccoons outside and got all fired up. This resulted in a lot of running around the house for no particular reason. But, so long as they are entertained, I'm entertained.
There I was catching up on television when I heard a massive crash upstairs. After running up to see what happened, I see that my nightstand has been knocked over. Jenny is sitting there like "Whut?" and Jake is nowhere to be found. Eventually I find him under the bed and manage to coax him out. Unfortunately he's limping, which has me filled with dread over a possible vet visit. But... Jake's done this before, so I stop panicking and wait it out. Sure enough, pretty soon he forgets that he was ever limping.
All of my dressers and shelves have been anchored to the wall. I heard about kids getting squashed by unanchored furniture, so I took no chances with my cats. It never occurred to me to anchor the nightstands because they're so small... but I guess that's something I need to look into.
Posted on Sunday, March 10th, 2019
Stop worrying your pretty little head over whether Spring is here or not here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free! As I've mentioned more than a few times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of Alex Honnold. He's a world-famous free solo rock climber who recently rocketed into the limelight because of the Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo (sadly, I didn't get to see it in IMAX like I wanted to, and ended up renting it). I first heard of the guy in 2007 or 2008 after he free soloed Yosemite. At first I thought he was a lunatic with a death-wish, but after reading numerous interviews over the years, I found him to be one of the most philosophical, funny, genuine people on the face of the planet. And the most talented athlete on earth...
If you haven't seen free Solo yet, it's absolutely worth your time. It's an amazing film that changed my perception of Honnold yet again. But if you want to see Alex being the Alex that I became obsessed over the past decade, here he is (watch to the end, because it gets better as it goes on)...
It used to be that every year on Christmas as a part of my "End-of-Year Checklist" I would Google Alex to see if he was still alive. Now that he's so incredibly famous, I don't have to. If something were to happen to him I'm sure the entire world would know.
• Zero Stars! When I had to start eliminating carbs, the transition from "regular" to "sugar-free" sodas was a tough leap to make. What made it easier was Coke Zero, which is far and away my favorite carb-free pop (followed by Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet A&W Root Beer, and Sunkist Orange). One of my favorite sodas, Stewart's Orange Cream, has no diet equivalent... which is why I was thrilled to see "Coke Zero Orange Vanilla" at my local Safeway...
Holy shit what a horrendous load of toxic sludge! It tastes nothing like an orange cream soda, but instead tastes like an extremely artificial vanilla cola with a weird orange aftertaste. Really gross, which is why I am mad I bought an entire 12-pack. Looks like I need to investigate adding a hint of vanilla to Sunkist Diet Orange Soda to see if I can get what I'm looking for.
• Life! Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant minds in entertainment, and I'm always looking forward to what he's doing next. Turns out it's the Netflix series After Life, and it's one of my favorite things he's done thus far...
The show has a rocky start because his character is pretty awful. But the 6-episode series is a journey that ends in a very different place, and it's a worthwhile trip to take. With all the horrors I've been facing these past couple years, it's nice to run across something that is saying exactly what I need to hear. Highly recommended.
• Stick! One of my favorite kitchen brands is OXO Good Grips. I ended up replacing almost all my bakeware with their stuff and was happy with that... at first. Then I found out that my "non-stick pizza pan" can't even cook biscuits without them sticking like cement...
Even worse? The bread pans and jelly roll pan are rusting under the folded edges. And so... I guess OXO Good Grips is no longer my favorite kitchen brand. Really sad that I wasted my money on this garbage.
• Billions and Billions! Wealth inequality is something that I don't really think about because there's nothing I can do about it. Obscenely wealthy people own this country and get to decide how things are going to be. The fact that what they decide inevitably benefits only them (and their pocketbook) regardless of how it screws the rest of us... or the environment... or whatever else is in their way, is just our sad reality. Which is why shit like this is so unsurprising...
Thinking that these horrible people will ever have to pay for the lives they've destroyed is laughable.
And, on that note, I guess we're out of bullets...
Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2019
I keep getting alerts that there's somebody on my driveway... or on my back patio... or walking along the side of my house. Sometimes they are triggered by Fake Jake or one of the other neighborhood cats, but I've tried to build my "alert zones" in areas they don't walk. This makes "cat alerts" fairly rare.
No, the real culprits when it comes to intruder alerts are the raccoons. They have no set path and end up wandering all over the place. The video below from my driveway camera shows you exactly what I mean. Early on, the lead raccoon does something that cat's do not do (at least not often)... they stand up...
Adorable... but his little head strayed in the alert zone in my front yard, so my iPhone lights up with a notification that I have an intruder (which is not so adorable when it happens at 1:00am).
Raccoons are fun to watch, so I combined various angles from my security system showing the three trash pandas making their way around my yard... and across the street into my neighbor's yard!
The second section is from the camera outside my catio. You'll see a raccoon stop and pause, looking inside my house. That was the point I tapped on the window so I could say hello...
I am dying to help them make it through the winter by feeding them... but I know if I do that they will never leave. The last thing I want is some asshole shooting at them or poisoning them or something awful like that... and so I leave them be. Hopefully as the snow melts they'll be able to find enough to eat down at the creek where they live so they won't have to wander so far from home.
In the meanwhile though? More intruder alerts... of the cutest kind.
Posted on Tuesday, March 12th, 2019
Back in September I went through my mom's recipes with the intent of throwing them all away. I ended up keeping seven of them... which was five more than I had anticipated. Most recipes are either meat-based entrées or sugar-based desserts, neither of which I eat.
What I wanted to find was her Applesauce & Walnut Bread and Spanish Rice recipes. What I actually found was these...
The apple pie is one of the few recipes that I have experience making with the originator. My grandmother let me help her make her signature dessert numerous times. Everybody who tasted it fell in love with it. I tried to encourage her to enter it into an apple pie contest, but she never would. So one year I tricked her into making me a pie "for a bake sale" and entered it into a contest for her.
She won first prize, as I knew she would.
Making a seriously good apple pie is more of an art than the science of following a recipe because the apples are always different. Sometimes they are sweeter... sometimes they are more tart... sometimes they are small... sometimes they are big. And sometimes the variety of apple you want isn't available so you have to use something entirely different and make it work. My grandmother always tasted the apples before deciding how she wanted to proceed. Sometimes she uses extra sugar, sometimes less. Sometimes she added lemon juice. Sometimes she altered the spices too. Decades of making apple pies taught her just what she needed to do to get a consistently amazing pie. And she tasted and re-tasted every step of the way.
In order to develop the skills my grandmother had, I would have to make a pie a week for five years. Maybe even a decade. It's a lot of trial and error, and she's not here to offer advice on dealing with the crazy-huge number of variables.
Which is why I haven't made a single pie since she stopped baking them.
I thought I might give it a try after she passed, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it. And every apple pie I've ever eaten that's not hers falls short by comparison, so I stopped eating apple pie.
What I eat instead? Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers...
These things are better than they have a right to be. And, since they are frozen, I can cook up just one as a treat when I have some room for carbs available. Easy and delicious.
But one of these days... one of these days... I will make my grandmother's apple pie again. Or try to.
Because "Pepperidge Farm Remembers," but so do I. And what I remember is how amazing my grandmother's apple pies were.
Posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
This evening when I got home from work, I sat down to make a list of what I needed to do/buy/pack before leaving, and spotted Jake out in the catio poking his little paw at the ice which had flowed inside. Now that it's getting warmer, the ice is starting to melt, which means thin pieces of it are floating on little puddles. The cats like to bat at them to send ice chips flying across the catio. It's adorable and fun to watch, though you can tell neither Jake nor Jenny are accustomed to getting their paws wet. Each of them will take a swipe then shake, shake, shake their little foot to get the water off.
But only Jake comes running inside to wipe his paws off on me.
No joke. If he gets it wetter than he likes, he will come inside, hop up on my lap, paw at me until he's confident that the water is off, then run right back outside to play some more...
I've never resented the fact that my cats think of me as a food dispenser.
But I am starting to resent it a little bit that Jake thinks of me as a literal door mat. Can you believe that cat owners sign up for this nonsense?
Sure they make up for it in other ways, but still...
Posted on Thursday, March 14th, 2019
Why is it that banking and commerce continues to get cheaper and more automated... but banking establishments and commerce facilitators keep demanding higher and higher fees? Probably because the CEOs of these organizations need a second private jet or a fucking gold-plated toilet or something.
In other news... I'm now fully invested in the raccoons that keep triggering security alerts on my phone. They have been wandering through my yard every night now, and I look forward to seeing them.
I'm still plagued with worry that somebody will harm them (accidentally or intentionally). The raccoons are obviously hungry if they are leaving their home by the creek and venturing across roads into residential territory, so it's only a matter of time before somebody catches them in their trash or something. My hope is that people will have a little compassion for their predicament and leave them be. Instead of shooting at them or setting a trap, why not just secure your garbage?
It used to be that there were five of them.
Now there are three.
Which is why I sit and stare at my security cameras once the first one appears...
The second one is usually not far behind...
The last one always lags, but never more than a minute. Tonight they were nearly two minutes behind, providing a bit of a panic attack...
As if I didn't have enough animals to worry about.
I really hope that they are finding enough food that they don't get desperate enough to attack any of the cats in the neighborhood. They look slim, but not skin-and-bones, so I'm guessing they're finding food somewhere.
See you tomorrow night, raccoon friends.
Posted on Friday, March 15th, 2019
Yet another mass-shooting by a white supremacist in the news. This time in New Zealand where 49 people were murdered while at worship. It's a horrific event in a series of horrific events where innocent people are targeted by some deranged asshole who has been systematically conditioned to hate people of different races and religions.
Meanwhile back home, our president is inciting his followers to violence. Yet again...
"The left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay?
I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump... I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough. Until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.
But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this invest[igations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this." — President Donald J. Trump, 3/13/19
And, of course, the president's Twitter feed is nothing but a running commentary telling his followers that we are at that "certain point" right now. Which is why it's not surprising that President Trump is praised as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose" in the shooter's 74 page manifesto.
Because of course he is.
Trump is regularly singled out as an inspiration to white nationalists here in the USA and around the globe. And, despite what we are constantly being told by his supporters, it's not some kinds of accident over which The White House has no control. The Trump Administration has been working overtime to embrace their cause. Anybody thinking otherwise is seriously deluded.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a president who inspires us to all just get along?
I've traveled to a lot of places in this world and my biggest take-away has always been this... people are inherently good and just want to live their lives in peace. Whether it's in Tunisia or Istanbul or Bali or even the USA... anywhere that Christian churches, Islamic mosques, Jewish temples, and other houses of worship are built side-by-side and people of different faiths have built a community together... people want to just get along.
Until somebody comes along and tells them why they shouldn't.
And there are a lot of evil people in the world doing just that.
Our leaders shouldn't be those people.
And yet here we are...
Posted on Sunday, March 17th, 2019
I am not home on my 100th Caturday... I'm over the mountains saying goodbye to a friend.
It used to be that leaving my cats even for one night was a traumatic experience. Even with a house full of security cameras, I worried from the minute I walked out the door to the minute I walked back through. In my head I knew that cats were solitary, self-sufficient little beasts... but it's still tough not to worry about all the things that could go wrong when Jake and Jenny are left to fend for themselves.
But then I was gone for two weeks on an expedition to Antarctica. With no internet available to check the security cameras, I hired a pet sitter to stop by every day and make sure everything was okay. The rest I left the rest to fate.
Of course everything was fine. Eventually I started having the cat-sitter stop by every-other day instead of every day. Now I only hire a cat-sitter if I'm gone for more than five days. Everything from the litter boxes to the feeder is automated, so that's all that's needed.
Tonight, for the first time, the cat feeder jammed. A little bit of food dropped out and then... nothing.
I was going to call a neighbor to have them unclog it or put some food out manually, but I figured Jake and Jenny would be fine until I get home tomorrow. Having a small meal for dinner and getting a late breakfast wasn't going to kill them.
But don't tell them that.
Usually when I get home, Jake hears me fiddling with the door and comes running down to greet me. Jenny waits until she knows it's really me before she more cautiously comes to say hell.
But not tomorrow (this is being written on Sunday... sorry I'm late).
When I walked in they were not there. I called for them but they did not come. They weren't in the catio... the living room, or the guest bedroom. So I went upstaris and found them in the other guest bedroom...
Apparently they were pretty mad about having been ditched with a non-working cat feeder.
And they had no intention of forgiving me.
Until I went back down to the kitchen and started shaking the bag of cat treats. They forgave me really quickly after that.
Cat bribery works every time.
Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019
It's hard to believe that March is already half-over, but don't let the march of time discourage you... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Queer Happy! Since I have (temporarily) stepped away from social media, I've been pretty much out of the loop. But I did have a news story pop up which mentioned that Queer Eye Season Three had just dropped on Netflix...
Sweet! I absolutely love Queer Eye because it packs one of the most emotional gut-punches you'll find on television. Some of those the Fab Five help out are genuinely good people who just need a little break to be happy, and the guys always manage to come through. And then I read the comments on the story. You think I'd know better. Because the amount of hatred that people have for this show is downright unfathomable and I just don't get it. Seriously... who gives a crap how other people live their lives when it does not affect you? Do these haters honestly think that there is a finite amount of happiness in the world and if other people find happiness in ways they don't approve of it means there's less happiness for them? Gay people aren't allowed to be who they are and be happy because if they are, there's no way anti-gay bigots can be happy? What pathetic, sad, miserable assholes these people are. But I don't care. This is one of the best seasons yet, and I watched all eight episodes back-to-back. I can't wait for Season Four.
• Top Gunn! Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn made some horrific and terrible jokes about rape and pedophilia when we was young and stupid. He subsequently offered heartfelt apologies numerous times, promised to do better, and moved on to become an incredibly talented writer and director. But Disney/Marvel fired him anyway, despite him providing them two incredible hit movies....
This was a rash and idiotic knee-jerk reaction that made me (and plenty of others) pretty mad. How many of us haven't made stupid mistakes when we were younger? The guy was wasn't an actual rapist and pedophile... he just made hurtful and overall moronic "jokes" about the subjects which weren't at all funny (unlike James Carr, who may be completely tasteless and inappropriate, but is really funny about it). His apologies were sincere. He grew up. And now Disney/Marvel finally seemed to realize how fucking stupid they were... probably not because it was wrong to fire him over his bad judgement... but because they couldn't find another writer/director to replace him. Money being more important than manufactured outrage, Gunn was rehired to direct his already-completed script for Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume Three!
So happy about this. I don't believe in second chances for everyone, but James Gunn has earned the support he's gotten to be reinstated.
• BURN! I was raised Catholic. I still have family and friends who are in the Catholic Church. I say this to qualify that I would never recklessly disparage The Church and its followers. Except... The Catholic Church has a history of horrifically problematic issues that have not been adequately dealt with. Big on that list is the seemingly never-ending sexual abuse of children by their pastors and officials. Abuse that The Church has been outright denying or only half-heartedly acknowledging. It is next-level fucked up, and I am outraged that it's still happening and victims are still being ignored or shoved aside. Which is why the Diocese of Brooklyn can seriously go fuck themselves for demanding an apology for this segment on Saturday Night Live...
Pete Davidson has said some truly stupid stuff... and it's not always funny. In this case what he's saying is not only funny, it's also 100% true. Until the Catholic Church reforms... and at this point it can't really be anything except a total reform because we're way, way past second chances for them to do the right thing... I'm done. See how that works?
• Aladdin! For me, the jury was very much out on Disney's upcoming live-action version of Aladdin. The original animated movie with Robin Williams is one of my favorites, and it just seemed... bizarre... that Disney would even attempt to replace him with Will Smith. But now that I've seen an actual trailer, I'm much more hopeful...
Will it take the place of the original masterpiece? Almost certainly not? Can it be an entertaining distraction in its own right? Sure! Guess we'll find out in May.
• Honey Honey! I try to use honey instead of sugar whenever I can. Honey is the only thing I add to my tea, and I'd rather drink it unsweetened if honey isn't available. I do have packets of "Sugar in the Raw" and artificial sweetener for my guests, if they want it, but there's always honey at my home. Over the years I've read some truly misguided comments about honey and people who want me to switch to agave nectar. Finally I've found a couple of people on Tumblr who have summed up why I'll never switch to agave...
Vegans of tumblr, listen up. Harvesting agave in the quantities required so you don't have to eat honey is killing Mexican long-nosed bats. They feed off the nectar and pollinate the plants. They need the agave. You want to help the environment? Go back to honey. Your liver and thyroid will thank you, as well. Agave is 90% fructose, which can cause a host of issues. Bye.
— VampireGirl2345 via Tumblr
Beekeeper here! Just wanted to say that the fact that vegans won’t eat honey is very silly. Harvesting honey does not hurt bees. The invention of modern moveable-frame hives means we can remove a selected frame, extract the honey and return it without killing a single bee.
If we destroyed the colony to harvest honey there would be no bees for next year, and beekeepers are incredibly careful to keep their bees healthy and thriving. We take *excess* honey that they don’t need, and it stops the hive from becoming honey-bound, meaning that there’s so much honey the Queen has nowhere to lay eggs. And if the winter is harsher than expected and the remaining honey store runs low, we feed the bees plenty to make sure they survive. We also make sure that pests are controlled, bees are treated for disease, and the hive is weatherproof and in good repair, all things that wild bees struggle with.
Keeping bees in properly managed hives where they don’t starve or die from preventable disease is much better for them than being left to fend for themselves, and they’re far too important to be left alone. All the fruits and vegetables that vegans *do* eat couldn’t exist without bees, and the hives which pollinate those crops also produce excess honey which the beekeepers can sell to help keep themselves and their hives going.
TLDR: BUY THE HONEY, HELP THE BEES.
— Vertiga via Tumblr
Bats are some of the most beneficial creatures on earth. Trading in a non-existent problem for a very real problem which threatens their survival is not helping.
• Coaster! I'm a big fan of interesting roller coasters and have been on many, many of them. My current favorite is "The Incredible Hulk Coaster" at Universal Studios Orlando. It's not as well-themed as Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland... or as iconic as The Cyclone at Coney Island... or as scary as Wicked Twister at Cedar Point... but The Incredible Hulk is really fun to ride. But for me right now? The coaster I most want to ride is the brand new "Yukon Striker" coming to Canada's Wonderland this Spring...
Yukon Striker will be the fastest, longest, tallest dive roller coaster in the world. It goes up to 80mph, is 3,625 feet long, has four inversions, and lasts three minutes, 25 seconds. And it looks like loads of fun...
Hopefully I can get to Toronto one of these days to ride it!
And that's all he wrote for writing bullets this week! See you next Sunday!
Posted on Monday, March 18th, 2019
Whenever life throws a curve-ball, it feels like everything slows to a crawl and I'm trying to walk through molasses. One minute everything is a hectic mess moving at top speed... the next minute my every moment drags on and hours seem like days. It's as if some higher power is wanting me to savor every last second of misery. Which seems really cruel if that's how it works. Why can't watching a really good movie be the thing that drags on forever? Or being on vacation? Or eating a Girl Scout cookie?
Years ago I drove my mom over to Gene Juarez (a fancy spa in Bellevue) so she could have a spa-day for her birthday. It was a six hour ordeal that had three different massages, various skin treatments, lunch, hair, nails, makeup, and even a tea service. While she was being pampered, I wandered around trying to find something to do. I was bored and miserable and the six hours felt like an eternity. When I picked up my mom, I asked her if she enjoyed her day. She said that she had a great time, but it all went by too fast.
Because of course it did.
I rest my case.
It seems the answer to living forever is to just be in perpetual misery. So the next time you meet some bitter asshole trying to ruin your day, I guess you should be thankful for them trying to be your fountain of youth.
As for me? I'm going to continue using my Aveda Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Moisturizer and telling them to fuck off.
Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
Just because I've grown comfortable with leaving my cats alone doesn't mean that I don't try and make sure they feel safe and comfortable while I'm away.
A couple months ago I had thrown a pile of jeans on the back of the couch so I could fold them after I cleaned out the lint trap on the dryer. When I came back less than a minute later, I saw that Jenny had climbed on top. I assumed that she liked laying there because they were warm out of the dryer. But eventually I saw she liked laying on top of the jeans even when they weren't warm. Months later, it's still her preferred place to nap.
And so I usually leave one or two pairs of old jeans there just for her. Especially if I'm going away for a while. If it makes her feel safe and comfortable... why wouldn't I? Whenever I check in on the security cameras, that's where she is half the time.
Then tonight... something new.
Jenny decided to crawl into the pants...
A second after the last photo, she fell out and went ripping up the stairs, but still... pretty funny.
As for Jake?
I swear he can sleep anywhere. Most mornings when I'm working in bed, he camps out on top of the cat tree in my room though...
Cats... so adorable you can't help but love them!
With the weather growing warmer, the cats have been shedding their winter coats at a frantic pace. Loads and loads of cat hair are blowing across my floor at any given moment. It's so bad that Jake and Jenny are dropping hair far faster than Carl the RoboVac can clean it up. I'd pretty much have to run the poor thing 24/7 in order for my floors to be fur-free.
But that's the least of my worries.
Jake is prone to hairballs. And if there's anything more gross than having to clean up a big wad of puked-up cat hair, I don't want to know about it. So I have been working overtime to make sure that he's brushed with The Furminator as often as possible. At least every-other-day. And, for the most part, this works great. No unpleasant surprises waiting for me when I come home from work.
But then I have to leave for three days... forget to use the Furminator when I get back... and all of a sudden a week blows by without brushing. Which means I'm likely to wake up to a massive hairball in the middle of the room.
Like I did this morning.
Poor Jake, yes.
But what about poor me trying not to hurl while I'm cleaning it up?
And that's what I keep telling myself.
Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
My 7-year-old MacBook Pro is still perfect for my needs. No, it doesn't run as fast as it should considering my crazy workload, but it seems silly to replace it just so I can get things done a little faster. Besides, new MacBook Pros don't have Thunderbolt ports, "regular" USB ports, an HDMI port, or an SD card slot. You know, all those things that "professionals" need in their "pro" laptops to get shit done. New Apple laptops also don't have MagSafe power adapters, which is about as idiotic as it gets considering Apple beat us over the head with what an amazing innovation it was and how it keeps your laptop from being damaged...
Seriously, who the hell is deciding this crap? Tim Cook? Jonathan Ivy? It's as if they think that professional-grade laptops are just big phones with a physical keyboard that should look pretty. Instead of an essential tool that, by its nature, has to be mobile, powerful, and flexible so that it can adapt to work in numerous situation. Like, I dunno, BEING ABLE TO PLUG INTO A PRINTER OR A SCANNER THAT'S MORE THAN TWO YEARS OLD WITHOUT A DAMN ADAPTER!
If I didn't have everything invested in the Apple ecosystem, I would seriously tell them to go fuck themselves and buy a laptop which has the features a professional actually needs to do their job. It's not like MacOS X is vastly superior to Windows any more, so who cares? But, alas...
All that being said, you can understand why it chaps my ass that my old MacBook Pro is failing.
Used to be it would randomly reboot sometimes when I run a demanding app like Photoshop.
In the last couple of months, it's just randomly reboots because it feels like it.
I thought that replacing the hard drive would fix it (hey, it worked for my iMac), but that's not been the case. I think it may actually have something to do with the video memory being bad. Not entirely unexpected for a laptop that's 7-years-old and is worked to death daily, but given that I'm going to have to replace it with a pricey new MacBook Pro that has less features than what I have now (and will likely be of lesser quality*)... I'm more than a little upset.
One more thing to be mad about, I guess.
I just hope that I can get used to the new model and not be plagued with buyer's remorse.
And speaking of buyer's remorse... I read an article on CNN Business this morning: $1.3 trillion and 7,000 finance jobs are leaving Britain because of Brexit. That sounds like a lot. But look at that headline again. Those numbers only cover finance jobs and banking assets. The final tally will be vastly... vastly... higher once all jobs and all industries are considered.
When the measure to leave the E.U. was initially proposed, I thought that there was no way British citizens would ever agree to it. The benefits of staying in far outweighed the negatives. But lying liars duped the populace into voting for something that ended up fucking them over**, and now the consequences will be had. I have no idea what post-Brexit Britain will look like, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be pretty. I sure hope they can recover sooner rather than later, regardless of what ends up happening.
If only everybody would have known what was in store with their "LEAVE" vote. Maybe if they had just watched a video like this one before voting (and, yes, I know the video would have to fall through a time vortex)...
Time waits for no man. Or country. So the world will keep spinning regardless.
*Case in point... here's a guy who bought a FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR iMAC which was broken by an APPLE-BRANDED $80 VESA mount, for which he received abysmal support...
Used to be that Apple provided quality for the money. But anymore? Apple crap is just as shitty as everybody else's crap.
**Sound familiar, my fellow Americans?
Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019
I am not a huge horror movie fan, but I do like a well-crafted story... in any genre.
For this reason I was exited to see that Jordan Peele has a new horror movie out called Us. I loved Get Out, and the reviews for Us are phenomenal. And yet... I loathe going to the theater so much that I was debating whether or not I was going to buy a ticket or wait for home video...
To help with my decision, I emailed a document to a friend who was going to see the movie last night. In it I wrote what I thought the "twist ending" was going to be. After seeing a couple commercials and clips on talk shows, it seemed pretty obvious to me what was going on.
This morning my friend opened the document and texted me that I was 100% correct with my guess. But he also said that the movie was so great that I really should go see it in the theater anyway.
So I don't know.
I'll probably wait for home video. Having to share the theater with a bunch of rude people makes me long to be watching at home.
And speaking of watching at home...
Apparently Viacom is in a fight with my television provider, DirecTV. While watching The Daily Show and The Other Two on Comedy Central and RuPul's Drag Race on Logo, there's a black box on the screen warning you that AT&T (owners of DirecTV) are going to drop the channel...
At first the box was stationary on the left-hand side. But then AT&T started putting a black box on top of it. So now Viacom is making the box jump around the screen so AT&T has to keep moving their box. Eventually AT&T gave up. It's such bullshit and trying to watch a show where a box is bouncing all over the place is headache-inducing.
All I can say is that if DirecTV drops Comedy Central, one of the few channels I watch with any regularity, I will be dropping DirecTV. As I mentioned previously, thanks to streaming services and such, I don't need DirecTV much anymore anyway.
The monopolies of cable companies and satellite companies are over and I really don't care. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of assholes. They've been forcing bundled channels down our throats that we don't want for decades and karma is a bitch.
Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019
And so The Mueller Report has been completed and turned over to the Attorney General of the United States of America, William Barr. Whether or not anybody will ever get to see the damn thing is anybody's guess. In my humble opinion, it should be available to any American who wants to look at it. We paid for it, after all. And wasn't The Starr Report (which confirmed President Clinton's affair) made public? Why should Trump be treated any different?
Whether The President is guilty of collaborating with a foreign power is kind of incidental at this point. He's done so much fucking damage to this country, does it really matter if he did it for Russia or not?
Well, yeah. Of course it does. Because if it's true, he's guilty of high treason and should be shot.
That being said, if Mueller were to look up the asses of all the politicians in Congress with a microscope for two years, half of them would probably be shot for treason. These are powerful people who don't give a fuck about our country... they just want money and power. Treason is a small price to pay to get it.
Just ask Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Konstantin Kilimnik, Sam Patten, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, and all the other people who have already been charged by Mueller.
Guess sometimes a with hunt turns up actual witches.
In other news... The Good Fight has returned on CBS All Access.
It's a frustrating show to watch.
On one hand, it's a brilliant show that has compelling stories, great legal drama, amazing acting, and fantastic production values. On the other hand, it's constantly making up stupid shit about President Trump, his administration, and his family. In the first two episodes we've got Trump paying for a woman's abortion... Don Jr. and Eric shooting Gary Cole's character on a hunting trip... and some shady business to do with Brett Kavanaugh. All of it manufactured bullshit that's been fabricated for entertainment value. Don't we have enough to worry about with all the actual crap our president is doing?
Guess we'll find out once this Mueller thing is unloaded.
Posted on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019
And lo Spring did sprung.
This is joyous time of year to be my cats because there's a lot of activity going on outside now that the snow is melting and critters are returning. Jake and Jenny are spending a lot of time looking out windows and being on high alert out in the catio...
And it's melting so fast! This was the 19th...
This was the 20th...
Ooh! Look! BIRD!!!
And here's this morning...
In front of the catio was a 5-inch-thick block of ice that formed from the roof run-off. It's now a tiny little piece. By the end of the day it will be gone.
As Spring arrives, the neighborhood cats are restless. Here's a list of what's roaming around (not their real names, these are just the names I call them)...
• Fake Jake. He's the cat everybody in my corner of the neighborhood has been caring for since his owners moved away and he didn't want to go with them. Last year I built a heated shelter for him when it got cold. This winter I put the heater back inside and he made it through just fine...
Now that it's warm out, he's spending less time in the cat shelter and more time sitting on people's cars... for a long while...
• Ghost. This is a small grey kitty that lives across the street. They seem to get along okay with Fake Jake, though sometimes he is not in the mood for company and will chase Ghost off. Any time I try to approach them, they run away...
Most of the time I see Ghost, they are following around Fake Jake...
• Charm. This is a big black cat that likes to wait outside the catio so he can visit with Jake. No idea where they live, but I'm thinking they definitely have a home. Seems sweet, but runs away when I try to pet them...
If Jake's not out in the catio, Charm will call for him to come out...
• Killer. This is a white and grey cat who is Fake Jake's mortal enemy. Doesn't come around much, but whenever they do, there's going to be a battle somewhere (turn up your volume on this one, because holy crap!)...
And here again...
I have never seen Killer in person. But in the videos you can see a collar tag glinting in the light, so they belong somewhere.
• Bongo. This is a big grey cat that doesn't want any trouble. They are happy to keep to themselves and walk away when another cat comes along. I rarely see him, because he avoids everything and everybody.
There are other cats around, but I don't see them often enough to know if they are just passing through or if they actually belong here. I'm just hoping that no more felines arrive. Fake Jake doesn't need the competition. I think he has his paws full as it is.
Posted on Sunday, March 24th, 2019
After a week of sunshine, of course it's raining on my birthday weekend. But I'm not complaining... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Change. This is my first birthday without my mom. It's also my first birthday without one of my oldest friends. I thought I would be overwhelmed with sadness, but I just feel numb. I guess you reach that point in your life when your friends and family start to go and that's just the way it is. You can either trudge on in life and make the best of what you have left... or you give in to the sadness and stop living altogether. I'm trying for the former. And if being temporarily numb to everything is what it takes, then I guess you do what you gotta do. For five decades death was a rare event for me and I suppose I'm thankful for that. Now that I'm on the back-end of my life, that's changing. I'm doing my best to accept this new reality. I'm doing my best to find new ways to be happy. I'm doing my best to keep doing my best every day. It's the least I can do to honor those I care about who aren't here any more. Life shouldn't be wasted on the living.
• Anti-Social! Stepping away from social media after having been completely submerged in social media is a weird place to be. The majority of my friends don't live anywhere near me, so things like Facebook are how we keep in touch. What I've learned these past weeks of being anti-social is this: Being in constant contact with people conditions you to take them for granted. It's a sobering realization, and something I am vowing not to forget. When I return to my social media life next week (or whenever), it's not going to be like it was. I want contact with friends to be meaningful and engaging... not empty and boring. Maybe posting less... reading less... doing less... will make my online relationships special again. Like they were back when we were all blogging. Or so I can hope.
• Dana! One of my all-time favorite shows was Sports Night, the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin (who would go on to create The West Wing). It was incredibly good television that I became obsessed with. A big reason for that was Dana Whitaker, played by Felicity Huffman. The same Felicity Huffman who is currently embroiled in a college admissions scandal. Apparently she paid a bunch of bribe money to have her daughter's SAT scores improved, thus paving her way to college acceptance. I am sure this will be spun into a heartwarming story showing the lengths a mother is willing to go to help her child... but fuck that. Her money already provided a life of unimaginable privilege for her kids. But she felt the need to shove somebody aside who actually worked hard to earn their SAT score? This is a shining example of everything wrong with this country (and the world in general). If you have money, you get to do whatever the fuck you want. Well... hopefully not this time. Hopefully, if she's found guilty, she goes to jail. How else is she going to learn?
• Dumbfuckery! Of course, not all parents learn anything from a tough lesson. Take this story, for example: It Took Two Months and Nearly a Million Dollars to Save an Unvaccinated 6-Year-Old From Tetanus. The key takeaway from the story is in the last paragraph... "The story ends mostly happily for the boy. A month later, he was completely back to normal, running and using his bike again. But it seems no lessons were learned on his family’s part. Despite the brutal ordeal and pleading by the doctors, they again chose not to vaccinate him for tetanus or any other diseases." At what point do child endangerment laws kick in? After I was run over by a shuttle van in France and arrived home, the first thing my doctor asked me after saying I fractured a rib was "Are you current on your tetanus vaccination?" When I said "I don't think so," he laid out a horrifying picture of what death by tetanus is like. It wasn't pretty. Why anybody would risk their kid's life with such a horrendous fate escapes me. Thank you, Jenny McCarthy.
• Inappropriate! It is so wrong that I nearly peed myself watching this clip?
Probably. But that's some funny shit right there.
• Off! And now I'm loading up my car for a trip over the mountains to spend my birthday with friends. I've had enough of being numb for a little while.
The End. THE END!
Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019
I'm not much of a gambler despite being luckier at gambling than most.
Sure it has some entertainment value, which is why I'll throw some money on the table or drop some in a slot machine when I'm out with friends. But gambling is not something I seek out, nor do I use it as a cure for boredom when I'm working in a place like Las Vegas. The odds are just too stacked against the player for me to find much joy in it.
For this birthday weekend with my friends at the Tulalip Casino Resort, I decided to set a gambling budget of $100. I ended up spending $0 of it because I was awarded "free play" money by the casino for staying at the hotel on my birthday. It was $50 in credit which I ran up to $78 in real money which I then used to gamble with (and ultimately lose). Perfect. Hours of entertainment that cost me nothing. That's a kind of "gambling" that I understand.
What I don't understand is people who gamble away more money than they can afford to lose. And yet it happens all the time. People have the expectation that they're going to win, when they really should have is the expectation that they are going to lose. Winning is just a happy accident... if it even ever happens.
While I was getting my $100 out of the ATM yesterday (that I didn't end up spending) there was a guy on his phone screaming at his bank because they "took his money." Except they didn't take his money... he had probably been gambling all morning and kept taking more and more out of his account. Before he knew what had happened, it all added up, and his money was gone.
Oh well. Hopefully he had enough left for rent. But, if his screaming was any indication, probably not.
The $78 in "real money" I got was won playing a slot machine called "Mega Meltdown." As I started to lose it all, I switched to a machine called "Miss Kitty Gold"...
I never truly understand how multi-line slot machines pay out... stuff flashes and you win or stuff doesn't flash and you lose. But it had cats on it, so I figured it was an entertaining way to finish off the last of my "free money" winnings.
Next thing I know, my screen is filling up with flashing pink cats and I'm up to $60 again.
It was at this point I heard a kerfuffle going on behind me and saw some woman stomping off. I must have looked puzzled because a guy standing there said "She was mad because she was going to play that machine." Now I was really confused. "There was nobody here when I started playing." And there really wasn't. "I wouldn't worry about it. If you had really stolen the machine from her there are cameras everywhere and she'd be asking for security.
One more reason to take a pass on gambling, I guess.
Well, that... and the fact that I still have my $100.
Posted on Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
The first thing I did when I bought my house was to rip out the door locks so my keychain would be two keys lighter. My new locks are opened via keypads or via an app on my phone... no key required.
In case you haven't guessed, I am not a fan of keys. They are (literally) ancient technology that isn't necessary in this day and age. And yet I have loads of them. Most of my keys are at home in my safe. The only two I lug around with me are my car key and my office key. To carry them around more easily, I bought a minfig keychain at The LEGO Store. It looks like Greedo from Star Wars, but it's actually an ambassador from Greedo's planet named Onaconda Farr.
That was years ago.
After a while Onaconda Farr's face and clothes rubbed off. His antennae and ears also wore down. And, last week, one of his legs fell off(!).
So I found a replacement on eBay for $5 and ordered it last week. And now he has arrived...
So cool. Almost makes me not dislike keys so much.
And, oh yeah... today I drove back over the mountains from my Birthday Weekend celebration with my friends.
I was happy to see that there's still plenty of snow in the mountains. Perhaps it's enough that we don't have to worry about drought this summer? I certainly hope so...
And now back to Real Life.
Such as it is.
Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2019
My ideal presidential candidate is an intelligent, young, artistic, Black, atheist, lesbian woman who served in the military. And I'm not even joking. I want somebody in The White House who understands that freedom and liberty are more than just words... and what it's like to be marginalized by society so they will fight for everybody. Not just stupid, old, white, Christian, straight male billionaire trust-fund assholes. EVERYBODY.
If I can't have that, I'll take anybody... anybody... who checks as many of those boxes as possible and can beat President Trump in our next election.
Because right now this country does not belong to its citizens. It belongs to career politicians in the pocket of the absurdly wealthy, and they don't represent us. They don't even care about us. All they care about is (more) money and power... and re-election, of course.
Right now the candidate I like is Pete Buttigieg...
He's young, in the Navy Reserve (served in Afghanistan), gay, married to his husband, and knows seven languages (one of which he learned because he wanted to read a book in its native Norwegian). He's a Harvard kid, yes, so his professor parents have money... but he was president and valedictorian of his high school class and graduated magna cum laude from college as a Rhodes Scholar, so he knows hard work.
His political experience is not great, but I see that as a definite plus. Especially since what experience he does have is stellar.
Of course, it's still early, so who knows what else there is to know about Pete Buttigieg. Just my luck he's a serial killer or something equally heinous.
The big question is... can he beat President Trump in an election fight?
I honestly don't know.
For me, all he would have to do is show up to a debate, smile, say nothing, and let Trump be Trump. But for the majority of Americans, the fact that he's actually smart means he's not somebody they want as president. He's also gay, which too many people don't want to even exist. Apparently people want somebody who says they're smart when they're a total dumbass. And who is a serial adulterer and misogynistic asshole (so long as they're straight) and terminal liar (so long as they are lying about being a Christian).
I'd hope for a scandal that will send Trump's approval rating spiraling, but the numerous scandals he's already been involved in don't seem to hurt him, so that's a lost cause.
I suppose I just have to hope that the American people will smarten up and vote for somebody who actually has their best interests at heart...
So I guess we're doomed then.
Posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2019
Today was my twice-annual HVAC checkup where a technician looks at my air conditioning and heating setup to see if it's going to last another six months. As one of the only two things left to replace in my house*, I feel like I'm rolling the dice every time they show up.
Apparently things look fine. The system is old, but well-maintained and in good shape, so fingers crossed. Losing air conditioning wouldn't be terrible since I rarely use it anyway. But heating? Yeah. Gotta have that. So I guess the real test will be my next check-up in six months. When once again I'll be rolling the dice to see if I have a hideous home home expense.
But, in the meanwhile... Full steam ahead on my kitchen remodel.
I cleaned out my garage and have started parking my car outside. I've unpacked all my tools and have drawn up plans. I've ordered a sample of the pocket hinges and pull-handle hardware I'm thinking about. I'm looking at paint. I've priced out countertop materials I'm interested in and started researching sinks.
This weekend I'll be hanging plastic sheeting in my garage to keep the crap stored there dust-free. Then I'll be setting up my tools and a space to work.
I guess we'll find out if I can build a kitchen.
*The other being my water heater. I'm sure that's just minutes away from dying.
Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019
I've always tried to be conscious of my environmental impact. I recycle whatever I can. I reuse as much as possible. I repair instead of replace. But after reading stories about whales dying from ingesting massive amounts of plastic (among other plastic horrors), I've redoubled my efforts to use as little of it as possible.
Problem is? Trying to cut the amount of plastic we use is pretty much impossible. The junk is everywhere. Even if you stop buying stuff that's made from plastic, you can't seem to avoid buying stuff packaged in plastic. But the story gets worse. Now we're quickly getting to the point that you won't be able to recycle plastics any more.
So what to do?
Well... people are going to have to change how they buy stuff. Companies are going to have to change how they make stuff and package stuff. Everything is going to have to change.
The other day I was at the grocery store when I noticed that the dishwashing detergent I like best, Cascade Complete, was on sale. I was running out but knew I had a full container in the garage, so I was going to pass. But the price was so good. Too good to pass up. Since I have storage space for it, I decided to buy two of them.
When I got home, something funny happened though.
I lifted up the older detergent container to put the new containers under it (gotta rotate your inventory!). That's when I noticed that the old one weighed considerably less. I flip over the bucket and I see why. The new ones are lighter because there's less in them...
Was there a mistake at the factory? Did the machine that fills the buckets malfunction? Because just look at this crap...
One-third of the container looks empty! I look at the package and see that the reason it looks one-third empty is because there's a third less product in it!
Old container: 90 pods. New Container: 63 pods.
At least now I know why it was so damn cheap compared to last time I bought the shit. What's weird is that the container for less product actually looks bigger, doesn't it?
I go to Amazon to see what the "regular" price is for Cascade Complete. But when I get there, I find the story gets even stranger. The same size container has 78 pods in it...
What the actual hell?
Apparently Cascade fills the container based on the price a retailer wants to sell. Safeway wants to have a huge sale at a tiny price-point? Put 63 pods in there. Amazon with their tiny margins wants to have a price-per-unit value price? Put 78 pods in there. Target wants to have a higher dollar-ring? Put 90 pods in there.
Now, I'm not ripping exclusively on Cascade here. All companies do this. If you want to sell at a retailer, you make them the product they want to sell. But most companies don't use the same massive package for 63 pieces vs. 78 pieces vs. 63 pieces... do they?
I feel grossly misled here. I thought I was buying the same "Cascade Complete" that I had purchased before... not a container which had one-third less product! Guess that when something is too good to be true, it's really too good to be true.
States like California have packaging laws that punish companies who use excess packaging. But it's not a fair law. Massive companies want the bigger shelf facing to get their product noticed. Because they have money, they just pay the fine. Smaller companies can't afford to pay the fine, so they have to put a similar product in smaller packaging which makes it look like you get less product. Or... big companies can afford to have two packages... one for California which is smaller, and another for other states which is larger. That's even more unfair, because smaller companies can't afford to produce two different-sized packages.
And so it goes.
Cascade ain't going to change the way they do business until they are forced to change.
The only thing that is going to force them to change is their bottom line.
Because they don't give a crap about the environment, they care about profits.
I love Cascade Complete. It works better than any other dishwashing detergent I've tried... and it rinses away cleaner so there's no residue or smell clinging to my dishes. I am happy to pay a little more for it because it's worth the money. But is it worth polluting the planet with one-third more plastic than it needs to? Oh hell no. And so I won't buy the stuff ever again unless the number of pods in the container are filling the container.
Or maybe I need to see if they sell Cascade Complete in a box that you pour out... which would be cardboard instead of plastic? Do they even make that any more? I suppose I'll be looking into it.
That seems the very least I can do, doesn't it?
Or maybe I wash my dishes by hand? Except "green" dishwashers like mine use less water than washing by hand, so maybe that's a step too far. Especially since liquid soap comes in heavy plastic containers.
How are scientists coming along with that plastic-eating bacteria?
Posted on Saturday, March 30th, 2019
This morning Alexa's alarm was chiming, letting everybody know that it was kitty feeding time. I went to say "Alexa, Stop" to turn it off... and... couldn't speak.
My voice was completely gone.
This raised two questions:
I ended up just letting the alarm run itself out because I had no idea how to turn it off. I suppose I could have tried deleting the alarm from the Alexa app, but my cats were way too impatient for that nonsense.
I should have known this was coming. Yesterday I was feeling poorly so I cut out of work early to come home and take a nap. When I woke up, my butt felt warm. At first I thought that I might have filled up a hot water bottle and forgot about it, but when I reached back... it was Jake! His butt was snuggled up against mine...
My cats usually do not hang around me when I'm sleeping. But when I'm sick? They seem to want to congregate around me... taking turns throughout the day. Eventually it was Jenny's turn. Though I think she didn't care as much about me being sick as she did getting belly rubs...
She was asleep in no time, trapping my hand...
I tried to carefully remove some blankets because I was sweating, but that woke up Princess Floopy Whisker and she was not amused...
Nobody gives sour-face quite like Jenny. I think it just makes her look even more adorable.
Eventually it was just too hot in my bedroom. It's upstairs, so all the heat rises up. That's great in the winter, but can be a nuisance when the weather starts warming up. And you're sick.
It was plenty cool downstairs. At least it was until I had a warm kitty laying on top of me...
A couple days ago while I was working in bed, I heard a commotion in the cats' bedroom. Since there's always a commotion somewhere, I just ignored it. Then, when I got up to take a shower, I saw that Jake had been dragging all the toys he considers "his" onto the bed. Mufasa, Moose the Mule, Grey Mouse, Thing 2 Mouse, Blue Rag Mouse, Mr. Pretzel, and both Purple Squiggles. And he was still going...
I honestly think that he feels he's hiding them from Jenny so she can't steal them. He's growing really tired of going to play with his toys only to find that Jenny has run off with them somewhere.
Not a very good hiding spot... on top of the bed... but hey, he's trying.
Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2019
Don't let Springtime allergies get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Nate! It's very rare to find a comedian who works clean (no swearing) that can make me laugh. Nate Bargatze is one of those comedians...
If you have Netflix, I give it my highest recommendation. But before you watch... you might want to first watch his segment on The Standups, which he references in the special. Once you've done that, then move on to The Tennessee Kid.
• Endgame! This past week Marvel Studis released the official character posters for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame...
I was surprised to find that Shuri was one of the heroes who got snapped. Kind of a shame it happened off-screen, as she deserved her exit. Still no idea where the heck Nakia is for all this. Why bring back Valkyrie and not Nakia? And, oh yeah, kinda happy that Valkyrie is back. To what end is anybody's guess.
• Apollo! How utterly gorgeous are the new stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission?
Queue the fucking dumbass tin-foil hat wearing idiots who think that that moon landing was faked. If that's you, here's your sign...
Between stupid NASA conspiracy theory bullshit and the rash of flat earther morons making the news, I could vomit.
• The Card! Apple announced that they are partnering with the heinous assholes at Goldman Sachs to create their own credit card. Which, as you'd imagine, is a work of art etched in titanium...
I had a lot of questions as to how the card is going to work. TechCrunch is on that with a great article. Needless to say, I want one. It won't be my primary card (travel point credit cards are more valuable to me), but the benefits for Apple purchases and its link to the amazing Apple Pay makes it a card worth having. Especially since there are no fees for having it. I really, really hope that other credit card companies start offering the features that Apple is going to offer.
• DOOM! The Grant Morrison and Richard Case run on Doom Patrol is one of my favorite comic book series ever. It was bizarre. It was smart. It was insanely entertaining. So you can imagine my interest was piqued when I heard that DC was creating a series around it...
The snippets they've released look very good. Except... what the hell is Cyborg doing there? He's a Teen Titan who somehow got dropped into Justice League who now got dropped into Doom Patrol. It's like DC keeps thinking "We need some diversity. Let's put Cyborg in it!" Completely ignoring the actual Black characters who have been in the Doom Patrol. Like Tempest (Joshua Clay), who does appear in the credits, but as "caretaker" to the "Original Doom Patrol?"
If his powers were too expensive to put on TV, then why not have Sam Reynolds and his son Lucius? They don't have any powers at all! And if that was too boring, why not give any of the other POC heroes a shot? Why does it always have to be Cyborg? Oh well. Once all the episodes have been released I might have to sign up for DC's streaming service to watch them all. The cast certainly looks entertaining.
• Stargirl! Speaking of DC Universe... in addition to Doom Patrol, we've also got Stargirl coming up...
Welp, if the costume is any indication, they nailed it. Also? Joel McHale is attached to play Starman, which has to be a good thing.
And, I guess that's all for my Sunday. If non-stop sneezing and coughing doesn't kill me, I'll be here in a week with more. I guess.
Posted on Monday, April 1st, 2019
April is here at last.
This means I have to start traveling again. I get to start woodworking again. I need to start exercising again.
It also means that the final season of Game of Thrones is nigh...
The event I'm most looking forward to in April 2019 is Avengers: Endgame. A close second would be Game of Thrones Season 8. It could end any of a dozen different ways, and there's no telling who is going to end up sitting on The Iron Throne.
For the past three months I've been rewatching all the episodes so I'm ready to go come the 14th. Last night I finished the last one and found myself wishing I had timed it better. Now I've got two weeks to wait before I get more Thrones.
And then there's this...
I knew it had to be a prank... and yet... her reaction was so genuine!
The North Remembers. Or not.
Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019
The more I pay attention to current events, the more I am convinced that stupid is winning.
Which is why I'm going to stop paying attention to current events.
If you need me, I'll be in a cave somewhere waiting for humanity to either die out... or reboot itself somehow. What else is there?
Posted on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019
I hate to be all "Woe is me" here...
...but woe is me.
This is Day Five of not having a voice. On Monday I could have sworn I was over being sick and just dealing with my allergies acting up. Then yesterday morning I woke up feeling worse than ever. Laryngitis (still). Sore throat. Constant hacking cough. Vomiting. Random aches and pains. Not a good time to be Dave2.
Then last night... something new.
My right eye started swelling for no apparent reason, then got infected (or maybe it was vice-versa). Lucky for me I've got plenty of antibiotic gel from multiple eye surgeries, so the infection disappeared overnight. This morning when I woke up there was a little swelling left, but nothing serious.
So... one thing going right.
And now I guess I'll go back to dying.
Woe. Woe. Woe.
Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2019
Sick and tired of being sick and tired.
So there I am exhausted but not sleeping because I am coughing my head off... when Jenny comes in to complain. And I'm like "Dude, I can't help it! I can't take more cough medicine for another hour"...
This does not phase her, so I try to ignore her by checking my phone.
First thing I see is an alert that the Litter-Robot is stuck. So I go downstairs and fix it so Jenny can go to the bathroom... then take more cough medicine even though it's too soon (hey, I'm already there)... then grab some crackers... then go back upstairs.
Jenny follows me the entire way... never going to the bathroom. THEN... FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER... I hear her using the UPSTAIRS Litter-Robot. Which means she got me out of bed to fix a Litter-Robot she had no intention of using? Or maybe she did, but changed her mind? Oh well. I'm not coughing anymore, so I guess we both got what we wanted in the end.
Posted on Friday, April 5th, 2019
The night sky of ancient earth was different from what we see today. Mainly because people could actually see it. Thanks to ever-increasing light pollution, the true grandeur of the universe has become obscured to most humans. Even rural communities have enough light pollution to obstruct major features of the visible cosmos. It's a pity, really, because there are some spectacular sights to be seen.
While on safari in Zimbabwe, I got to experience what it's like to have little-to-no light pollution, and it's pretty spectacular...
Ancient Greeks explained the milky band of light across the night sky thusly...
One legend explains how the Milky Way was created by Heracles when he was a baby. His father, Zeus, was fond of his son, who was born of the mortal woman Alcmene. He decided to let the infant Heracles suckle on his divine wife Hera's milk when she was asleep, an act which would endow the baby with godlike qualities. When Hera woke and realized that she was breastfeeding an unknown infant, she pushed him away and the spurting milk became the Milky Way.
The Wikipedia article I'm quoting above has all kinds of ancient myths for The Milky Way from numerous different peoples around the world. It's And yet... here in modern times entirely too many people will likely never see it. A concept that's easier to explain with the Bortle Scale, which measures light pollution from 1 (hardly any light) to 9 (lots-o-light)...
I had never heard of the "Bortle Scale of Light Pollution" before, though I'm not surprised it exists. If there's one universal truth, it's that scientists just looooove to create units of measure for everything.
Which brings us to this...
I am developing my own scale of measurement called the "Dave Scale of Giving a Shit." Before you scoff, I am compelled to remind you that I have experience with this kind of thing. Back in 2007 I developed the Dave Number, My new scale of measure is just a logical extension of that, and runs from 0 to 9, just like the Bortle Scale...
So there you have it. And since my interest in writing more in my blog today is about a 2, I suppose I'm done for today.
Posted on Saturday, April 6th, 2019
This week I officially lost my cats to the catio.
It's been so warm out lately that they are spending most of their days laying around outside or watching all the bird activity that comes with Springtime. Jake and Jenny absolutely love it outside, which means the catio remains one of the best home improvement investments I've made...
What also comes with warm weather?
Cat hair. Cat hair everywhere.
For Jenny this is not much of an issue. She loves to be brushed with The Furminator. I try to brush two times a week, but sometimes Jenny will go running to the cabinet with The Furminator in it and start rubbing all around it and complaining until I start brushing. And she can't get enough of it. She'll roll from one position to the next, making it easy to get to every square inch of her fur.
Jake on the other hand?
He'd rather forgo the brushing and go straight to puking up hairballs.
I've started Furminating him while he eats. It isn't very efficient, but it's better than nothing.
Alas, the warm weather earlier in the week turned to colder weather and rain at the end of the week. This has irritated my cats on numerous fronts. The first of which is that I turned off the heat in March so it's been colder inside than they're used to. I keep seeing them snuggling up for warmth when the temperature dips...
It's not that cold.
And now? I suppose Jake and I should get back to watching The Jungle Book...
Seriously, Jake is totally into it.
Posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2019
Time to celebrate because I think I'm finally over my cold/flu/whatever, but also... because an all new Special Movie Edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Putting aside Marvel movies I'm already dying to see (Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home), a new Star Wars movie I couldn't care less about (the still unnamed Star Wars: Episode IX), a new Hellboy that doesn't look to be bringing anything new to the table, a new Kingsman that may or may not be happening, and a couple of Disney live-action revamps that don't have me very excited (Aladdin and The Lion King)... here's the most interesting things headed to the cinemaplex in 2019...
• John Wick 3! The Keanu Reeves contract killer movies that have no reason to be as awesome as they are...
It seems impossible that they could write their way out of the corner they painted at the end of 2, but here we are. And we're getting Halle Berry and Anjelica Houston as well? Sign me up!
• Brightburn! The Superman legend rewritten as a horror flick. Alrighty...
It's a fantastic concept, and it looks like they might have nailed the implementation. Sign me up!
• Dark Phoenix! The shitty Bryan Singer X-Men movies were redeemed a bit when Matthew Vaughn took over for First Class, took a nosedive when Singer came back for Days of Future Past, and now look to be on the up-swing again with Simon Kinberg taking over...
My guess is that I will wait for the movie to come out on home-video. Perhaps if the reviews are amazing I might be tempted to drag myself to the theater. Only problem is that this film is going to make little difference no matter how good or bad it is. The absurd convoluted timeline antics of Singer's X-Men is going to be flushed down the toilet now that Marvel Studios will be able to reboot everything into something worth a shit.
• Men in Black International! This franchise has more downs than ups for me, but it ultimately finds a way of being entertaining enough even when it's at its worst. Now we're getting a soft-reboot that could be the best way forward...
Chris Hemsworth is hilarious when the material is right. And while Art Marcum and Matt Holloway did write the original Iron Man... they also wrote Transformers: The Last Knight which was a pile of shit... and so... this will be another "wait and see" films for me. If the reviews have them knocking it out of the park, fine. Otherwise? Home video for sure.
• Toy Story 4! If there's one franchise that hasn't had a misstep, this is it. And while the plot seems as though it will be a retread of what we've seen before, it also looks mesmerizing and charming in equal measure...
Unless people hate it, I'll probably sneak into a late theater showing to take a look. Pixar films always look beautiful on the big screen of a really good theater.
• Once Upon a Time in Hollywood! Hey, its Quentin Tarantino. He hasn't steered me wrong yet...
I truly hope that Tarantino doesn't follow through on his threat of retiring after his tenth movie, because this will be his ninth. I will absolutely be seeing this one in theaters.
• Shaft! Samuel L. Jackson is back as Shaft? Isn't that a kick in the pants...
What makes it too good to be true though? RICHARD ROUNDTREE is back too?!? With maybe a bit more to do this time around.
And now for a nap...
Posted on Monday, April 8th, 2019
People are always telling me I'm "funny." Even when I'm not trying to be funny which, depending on the situation, can end up being hurtful, awkward, scary, tragic, or (less often than you'd think) a pleasant surprise. Usually when somebody says "That's funny!" after I've said something I'm completely serious about, I try to replay it in my head to figure out where I went wrong... but I can never figure it out. Maybe it's just my face that makes things be funny? You got me.
This morning somebody I hadn't seen in a while asked me how I've been doing. "Oh. I've been sick with a cold or a flu or something awful, so it hasn't been a good time to be me lately. How have you been?" They laughed like I told them the funniest joke ever, said "You crack me up!," then went on to tell me about planting their vegetable garden. I replied with "I don't think I eat enough vegetables that I'd want to try growing them, but good luck with that." More laughter. Apparently not eating my vegetables is comedic gold.
I wish I could be that kind of effortless funny when I'm actually trying to be funny.
When I wrote something just in case I had to speak at my friend's memorial service (spoiler alert: I did), I wanted it to be at least a little funny so maybe everybody could remember him with a smile on their face... even for just a moment... at a time of total sadness. It was hard work. I had to edit and rewrite stuff and everything. But I think it made everybody happy and lots of people came up and told me they liked it or that I was a "funny guy" afterwards, so it was effort well-spent.
Even if I didn't know whether or not people would think it was funny when I wrote it.
But it's always been that way for me.
Years and years ago when I was working in L.A. for weeks at a time, I was encouraged to try open-mic stand-up comedy because the people I was working with thought I was a "funny guy." And so I did. I wish I could say that I totally killed it (I did not) or that I was booed off stage so I could get some sympathy (I was not), but the truth is that I was just average. People laughed, but not in a way that made me think "Holy crap! I should totally do this for a living!"
Probably for the best though. Trying to be funny on purpose is tough. Trying to be funny on purpose for a living must be excruciating.
One of these days I need to see if I can find the little Mead memo pad I bought to write jokes in. You'd think it would be a easy to find given that it's bright red like this...
The only difference being that my red Mead memo pad has "DAVE'S JOKES" written across the front in black ball-point pen. I think I even double-underlined "JOKES" so, if I lost it, anybody reading out of the thing wouldn't be left thinking "What is this crazy shit?" Well, it's jokes. It says so right on the front. Did you not see the underlines?
I can't remember what any of the jokes were, mind you. About all I do know that none of them were about L.A. traffic. That's because I decided I wanted to be "fresh" and not tell jokes that had already been done to death. Since most of my time in L.A. was spent sitting in traffic, I figured it had probably been covered already. How could I make that funny?
"I'm from a small town in Washington State, so you can imagine how shocking it is for me to be in L.A. right now. Everything here is shocking to me. Like the traffic. We don't have traffic where I live. So after I looked at a map to figure out how I was going to get to work, I estimated it would take about 20 minutes to get there. It took me 90 minutes. Ninety minutes! When I showed up for work an hour late, everybody comes rushing up and says 'We were worried that you got lost!' I didn't want for everybody to think that I was an ignorant hayseed who didn't know how a big city works, so I decided to make up a lie to explain why I was late. So I told them that my condom had come off during sex and I had trouble finding a vet with an appointment available to retrieve it from the sheep."
Of course, that joke wouldn't work now-a-days when we have Google Maps and Waze to tell us how long it takes to drive places... but back then? Hilarious!
Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019
The other day after I attempted to rip a paper towel off a brand new roll, I became infuriated because the towel wouldn't tear completely off. The perforation isn't weak enough to get a clean edge. Instead I end up either losing a chunk of the towel I'm tearing... or losing a chunk of the next towel on the roll.
"Who the hell designed these shitty paper towels?" I said out loud to nobody but my cats.
And then I noticed that the answer was staring me in the face...
Bounty! Bounty is the shitty paper towels that won't tear properly! Thank you for conveniently stamping your name on every sheet so I know which brand not to buy.
I used to buy Brawny paper towels until I was told that the heinous fucking piece of shit Koch Brothers own the brand. And so I switched. Looks like I'll be switching again.
Fortunately I didn't have to switch from Koch Brothers' Angel Soft toilet paper to Charmin, because I already use Charmin (or Cottonelle, whichever is on sale). Then this morning I noticed that Charmin stamps their name on their toilet paper just like Bounty...
I cannot for the life of me understand why this is a trend.
Does Charmin think that one of my houseguests is going to be all "HOLY FUCK! THIS TOILET PAPER IS AMAZING! IT'S LIKE WIPING MY ASS WITH VELVET! WHO IN THE HECK MAKES THIS LIFE-CHANGING BUTT-WIPE?" And then they look down at the toilet paper that they are gently caressing between their fingers and exclaim "WOW! IT'S CHARMIN BRAND! I AM TOTALLY DITCHING MY SHITTY TOILET PAPER AND SWITCHING TO CHARMIN!"
That's just silly. If my houseguests want to know what glorious toilet paper they have been wiping their ass with, they can bring it up at the dinner table like a normal person would!
Here's hoping that Scott paper towels are perforated properly, as I think that's the brand I'll be trying next.
Posted on Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
After spending a week being sick I was ready to start feeling myself again. Alas, it was not to be, because now Spring allergies have hit me like a truck. There goes the next two months of my life. It's all sinus pressure, post-nasal drip, and coughing from here on out.
When I was younger I had allergy shots to keep me from being a complete mess. Eventually I outgrew my allergies and the shots stopped. Then, without warning, my mid-forties arrived and Spring allergies along with them. I've tried dozens of drugs... both prescription and over-the-counter... and have found only two things that help: 1) Flonase which, unfortunately, causes nose bleeds... and 2) Benadryl which, unfortunately, causes me to become useless and fall asleep. Obviously I can't go to work while falling into a coma, so I have to suffer through every day and drug myself to oblivion every night.
Such is my life.
As I mentioned a while back, every year on January 1st I convert the maximum-allowable 100 of my DVDs to digital. Sure it's $200 down the drain, but I then have access to all those movies anywhere I have internet. So much more convenient than having to dig through hundreds of DVDs to find something to watch.
Dozens of these movies I haven't seen in decades, and it's been well-worth the $2 conversion fee. I just finished Secondhand Lions which is a fantastic film I didn't even remember existed. Surprising to me that it wasn't a much bigger hit than it ended up being...
A few things...
Needless to say, if you like movies and haven't seen this one... you should probably get on that.
Posted on Thursday, April 11th, 2019
This world is so full of stupid that I find myself becoming numb to it.
Sometimes, when the stupid on display is of such a massive scale that my brain can't even process how crazy it is, I try my best to laugh about it... but can't. Especially when the stupid in question is running the country.
Take this for example...
Good Lord... how does Rep. Thomas Massie even have the brain-power to speak, let alone breathe? Does he honestly not understand the words coming out of his mouth? Massie has two engineering degrees from MIT... how the fuck did that happen?
What truly kills me is that Massie and his supporters are bragging as if they exposed some huge "gotcha"... like Senator Kerry has been claiming to be a climate change scientist, but isn't really a scientist because his degree is in political science. Kerry (a person I loathe, by the way) has never claimed to be a scientist. He has only ever presented findings by actual scientists. You know... like anybody would do when speaking about a topic outside their wheelhouse. When you are a member of government who creates laws, it's your fucking job to listen to what experts tell you when making decisions. Kerry (in this case) did his fucking job which is why he was called as a witness in the first place. How is that so damn difficult to understand?
Massie is so incomprehensibly stupid as to just how dumb he sounds that he's actually bragging about his idiotic exchange by posting it on his Twitter, calling himself "sassy"...
After watching this on Seth Myers, I was compelled to see if Rep. Massie had an explanation... or a clarification. Surely there's some kind of statement which makes this less stupid! What I found was this...
"When I asked Kerry if he had a science degree, he answered 'no' but forgot to turn his microphone on. The left has been using his flub to conceal what this exchange proved which is Kerry admitted he doesn’t have a science degree, even though his degree says 'science.'”
— Twitter, 5:40 AM - Apr 11, 2019
HE NEVER CLAIMED TO HAVE A SCIENCE DEGREE IN CLIMATE CHANGE, YOU DUMBASS!
I tracked down the entire exchange so I could see where Senator Kerry claimed to be a scientist presenting his own findings. What I got was even more stupid...
Yeah... BACK WHEN THE PLANET WAS COVERED IN VOLCANOS AND SHIT, THE C02 LEVELS WERE UNDERSTANDABLY HIGH! BUT THEN THE EARTH BECAME HABITABLE FOR HUMANS AS THE C02 LEVELS FELL!
In all seriousness... what the fuck?!?
Claims to want to get "back to the science of it," but denies actual science. Sounds about right for Congress.
Lucky for me I'll probably be dead before any of this gets catastrophic.
Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019
And so... we have an official title for the final film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
By and large, I have not been a fan of any of the Star Wars movies after The Empire Strikes Back. I positively loathed Return of the Jedi, and things didn't get too much better from there. The notable exception being Rogue One, which I actually enjoyed quite a lot. My ranking of the films is something like this...
So when it comes to Episode IX, I have no idea where it might land on my list. I never bothered to see Episode VIII in the theater (preferring to wait until home video), but maybe the last one will drag me back? Guess it will depend on the reviews. One thing for sure, there's not a lot to go on from the trailer...
Lando is in there, which is nice. And is that... Emperor Palpatine laughing at the end?!? Interesting!
Guess we'll see if it's worth a crap come December.
Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019
After some truly lovely weather, we've been getting quite a bit of rain lately. This has been wildly frustrating to the cats in the neighborhood. They want to go out to play and kill stuff, but they definitely do not want to get wet doing it. Today Fake Jake went wandering by my back window and he was soaked. I felt bad for him but, hey, it beats the alternative. As in snow.
I found this video from the dead of winter when Fake Jake thought he would go chasing after the chirping birds in the back field. He gave it a shot, but had a tough time trudging through the snow and had to nope back to where I had shoveled...
A little rain seems tame by comparison.
As for Jake and Jenny?
Still spending a lot of time out in the catio. Even when it's sprinkling, there's still plenty of action to be found. Like when Jake's buddy (whom I've named "Charm") comes to visit...
Though when it's particularly cold out, Jake is content to look out the window rather than go outside...
Jenny has no problem in the cold though. She still goes outside even on the coldest days.
Which is odd, because Jake is the one who has a little extra padding on him!
Posted on Sunday, April 14th, 2019
Time to bend the knee... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrones! The much-anticipated premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones has finally come. Since it was just an hour of set-up for the five episodes that follow, it was a bit boring... but did have some interesting moments...
One would hope that they managed to find an ending that doesn't suck... but I've seen finales fail more often than win, so I'm not counting on it. So long as it's a fun ride, I suppose I'll be happy enough. But I really want them to knock it out of the park.
• The Hawk! And so Disney has announced that Jeremy Renner has been signed to a new series for their forthcoming streaming network. I have been begging for a Hawkeye series based on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series for years. It's hands-down one of the best series I've ever read...
No idea if the Disney+ series would go in that directions, but... hot damn. Looks like Disney+ is going to be absolutely killing it with amazing content.
• Only in America! A politician from Texas is so pro-life that he wants the death penalty for anybody involved with getting an abortion. You cannot make this shit up. This is after his tireless crusade to "protect the sanctity of marriage" by opposing marriage equality. He's been married five times. You cannot make this shit up. At some point you'd think that people would get tired of this kind of hypocritical bullshit... but here we are.
• Aurebesh Coke! Apparently Coca-Cola is creating special packaging for Disneyland and Walt Disney World's upcoming "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" lands...
Cool. Except... no Coke Zero? I cannot fathom why people continue to drink shitty Diet Coke when Coke Zero exists.
• Evil! There are few things I'm more passionate about than Net Neutrality. As expected, The Trump Administration killed it. As expected, the Democrats created a bill to restore it. I fully expect that it will be vetoed by the president. This is reprehensible and evil. The reasons given for killing Net Neutrality are all fucking bullshit. And the reasons for restoring it are legion. Which is why it's not surprising that President Trump hates it. Anything which levels the playing field for everybody works against dumbasses who have to rely on their daddy's money to get ahead in life.
• Kerning Fail! Few things freak me out like bad typography...
You'd think that the people in charge of using type would know how. Doesn't happen as often as you'd hope though.
And... that's enough bullets on your Sunday.
Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2019
Poor Jake. He just can't catch a break.
Yesterday Jake vomited, which is rare. I thought it might have been a hairball, except there was hardly any hair in it. Last night he became inactive and lethargic, which is a symptom I recognized from the last time he had problems. Then this morning he barely ate anything (WARNING!) and an hour later when I left for work I shook the treat bag and he didn't come (WARNING!). Had to look all over the house and found him cowering under the guest bed, unwilling (unable?) to move.
The same signs he had last time there was a serious urinary blockage.
And so... I managed to grab him so I could take him to the vet immediately. You know how that goes...
Amazing how the little guy cannot meow until he's in distress. At which time he has no problem meowing at all.
Also amazing? How he manages to time his health problems to the day before I am due to fly out. Again! Last time he got sick I had to delay my trip to Hawaii, then fly immediately back home. This time I'm due to be flying out to L.A. for two days starting tomorrow morning.
Apparently I can't catch a break either.
When the doctor came out to talk with me, he said that Jake peed all over the carrier while he was in the exam room waiting to be seen. Like, a LOT of pee. He theorized that it may have been a temporary blockage, and the stress of being driven to the vet shook things loose.
So yay? I guess?
Last time this happened, I didn't understand the symptoms and waited a full two days before taking him to the vet. By that time the poor guy was so badly blocked that he ended up with an enlarged bladder with a nasty infection and had to be hospitalized. I will never make that mistake again. As soon as I see the signs, he's packed up and taken to the vet. And I honestly don't care if it turns out to be a false alarm. There's simply no way I'm risking him getting as sick as he was last time. I take absolutely no chances when it comes to my cats' health. I will pay any amount of money. I will cancel any trip. I will change any plans. I will miss work. I will do whatever I have to do. Because how could I not?
Anyway... six hours later...
Looks like I will be (once again) flying off while leaving poor Jakey-Bear in the hospital.
They are hesitant to release him and would like to keep him an additional day or two for observation... and also to keep him hydrated and medicate him for (possible) bladder problems. They don't think he's in pain, but will be medicating him for that too.
This time there are no crystals in his urine, which is good (the expensive prescription cat food I have to buy must be working!). But he does have high white and red blood cell counts showing up for reasons unknown. He also has high sugar levels in his urine, which would ordinarily be a sign for diabetes... but all his blood lab work came back perfect, so he's not diabetic. His doctor can't say for certain, but still believes he had a blockage of some kind, but managed to flush it out after I took him in. And so... even if he would have eventually passed it here at home, I am so glad I got him to the vet considering the other issues that they've found.
And then... three hours after that...
After spending the day at work, they allowed me to visit Jake after 5:30...
He's a trooper! They have him on anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relief drugs, anti-spasm drugs, and are monitoring his white blood cells and urinary sugar levels (which are still high). Surprisingly, the nurse told me that he's been highly affectionate with the whole crew. And since he's the only cat in the boarding area, he's been getting lots of attention which (apparently) he loves. I'm guessing it's the drugs...
They removed his IV, which makes me feel a little better about having to leave. Such a drastically different experience from last time with the IV and the catheter and the cone of shame! So glad I brought him in right away this time and didn't wait until he had to go through all that again.
Hang tough, little buddy! I'll see you on Thursday!
And then... back home...
I hate to say it, but this time it seems as though Jenny isn't phased one bit by Jake having gone missing. She's wandering around like she owns the place (which, let's face it, she does... I only pay the bills). Without competition from Jake, she got all my attention. First she wanted to be brushed for a while. Then she wanted a snack. Then she decided to sit and watch television with me...
I have such great cats.
Tomorrow I head to the airport at 3:30am so I can fly out to L.A. for a couple days. Where I will undoubtedly worry... but also breathe easier knowing that Jake is under constant care while he recovers from whatever he had going on. Hopefully Jenny won't get too lonely all by herself. I can always say "hello" through the security system, after all.
I don't know why I worry though. Something tells me that my cats will do better than I will.
UPDATE: Well, I spoke too soon. Just like last time, Jenny has started walking from room to room crying as she looks for her brother. Last time she got over it pretty quickly, so fingers crossed.
Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
We did not have a great night.
I went to bed at 8:30pm with the hopes that I'd be able to get a bit of sleep before having to drive over the mountains at 3:30am. I took a Benadryl to help things along and fell asleep around 9:00.
Shortly after midnight I was awakened by Jenny going up and down the stairs crying for her brother. After a few minutes I couldn't take it any more and called for her. She ran into my bedroom and hopped on the bed like her tail was on fire. After ten minutes of belly rubs, she fell asleep...
As did I.
Then, around 1:30am, Jenny apparently realized she wasn't getting belly rubs and woke me up to complain about it. My cats never bother me when I'm sleeping, yet here was Jenny... standing on my chest and meowing her head off. After I woke up, she flopped right down for more belly rubs. She looked quite cross that I had dared to stop...
Next thing I know, it's 3:30am and Alexa is blaring an alarm to wake up. I'm already packed, so the only thing to do is give Jenny a handful of treats before heading out. I felt terrible that I had to leave because she was still walking around sniffing for a trace of her brother. As I walked out the door she just sat there like she didn't know what to do with herself. The poor thing looks so small...
But there's a lot of love in that small package.
This is my first time flying out of Everett Paine Field*. I'm pretty excited about it because it's so much more convenient for me to get to than shitty SeaTac airport... 2-1/2 hours compared to 3+ hours, with far better traffic conditions.
You can still that they are still new to accommodating passengers, because things are not quite completed...
This used to be a private airfield for Boeing, so I'm not sure what kind of terminal was here previously. The new passenger terminal is pretty great...
I don't have any checked luggage, but baggage claim looks painless...
Being a small airport, security was tight, but getting through was a breeze.
The gate area is really nice. Unlike shitty SeaTac, there's enough seats for everybody to actually sit down! =gasp!= Imagine that!
Adjacent to the gate waiting area is the passenger lounge, which is stellar...
There's a nice bar...
And nifty window seating...
And even a fireplace and table orchid across from my big comfy seat!
Overall, five stars from me! I'm glad to be able to make most of my West Coast flights from here. Hopefully they start up East Coast flights soon!
Interesting to note that my iPhone XS is reporting that I'm 5G here...
Except... not really. The radio in the iPhone XS is only capable of "Fast 4G" (Cat 16 Gigabit LTE) which is not 5G at all. I'm assuming that's why there's an "E" after "5G" there? Apple is stupidly lagging behind other handset manufacturers when it comes to next-gen cellular data networks. Typical.
My seat was upgraded (nice!) and the flight from Alaska Air was excellent as always. The movie I picked to watch was Mary Poppins Returns. I'm not much for musicals at all, but was curious to see what they did with it. It's a surprisingly good film with fantastic imagery and animation... though I did fast-forwarded through some of the musical numbers that were too groan-inducing for me to manage (the exception being A Cover Is Not the Book which was excellent)...
Casting was note perfect. Emily Blunt had just enough proper British disdain to make a terrific Mary Poppins, and Lin Manuel Miranda was as fantastic as you would expect (his rap in the middle of A Cover Is Not the Book is everything you could want from him). The children were scattershot... being exceptionally well-behaved one minute, then unbearably annoying the next. The biggest surprises came from some guest-casting that I won't spoil here. Suffice to say that there were a couple actors popping up that made the movie even better.
And then... hello Los Angeles.
First thing I did upon landing was make sure that Jenny got her breakfast, which she did...
Except... oops... I didn't adjust the amount of food, so she's getting Jake's breakfast as well. She never ate from his bowl though, which was sweet. We'll see if she gets hungry enough later in the day to eat his portion as well!
My flight back isn't until tomorrow evening, but I would really like to pick up Jake tomorrow afternoon so Jenny doesn't have to spend an additional night alone. Unfortunately there is only one flight SNA->PAE per day at 5:50pm, but... I may be able to get a flight into SEA then Über back up to Paine Field in the morning? Something to look into when I'm done with work, I guess. Sometimes life on the road is a bitch, yo.
And, speaking of work, off I go...
*A few people have asked me why I no longer fly out of my small local airport. That's a bit of a long story, but suffice to say it has nothing to do with the airport itself (which is nice), the Alaska Air staff (which is exceptional), or the airport security personnel (which has always been great). No, the reason I avoid flying out of Wenatchee when at all possible is because they have partnered with the assholes at Republic to handle their parking. I fucking loathe them. They force you to pay in advance, even if you are a business traveler like me who is never quite sure when you'll be flying back home. So you have to pre-pay for the longest possible time you'll be gone. If you run past your guesstimate as to when you'll be back, you pay a fine. If things go well and you can come back early, Republic categorically refuses to refund money for the days you DIDN'T USE. And so... so long as the Port of Wenatchee chooses to use a bunch of fucking thieves for their parking contract, I'm not flying out of there so long as the mountain passes are open and I can safely drive to a better airport.
Posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
Last night I headed to South Coast Plaza to bask in all the things I will never be able to afford to buy. It always amazes me how some of these high-end stores have like... a mere fifty items for sale... yet manage to pay the obscene money that the rent must cost. Until I realize that selling just two $8000 purses a week means that a store would clear $64,000 a month. Then it all suddenly makes sense.
Easter is a big to-do at the mall. They decorated up an entire wing to be Springtime fantasy town in America...
Where you can get your kid's photo taken with a creepy robotic Easter bunny...
For the adults? Pieces by the late, great Alexander McQueen were on display...
So... fun for all ages then!
The first thing I did was buy two-and-one-quarter glorious pounds of something I could afford... California Crunch at See's...
"Would you like them wrapped?
"Please! Lord, yes! If you don't wrap them, they'll never make it home."
The second thing I did was head to The Apple Store.
I desperately need a new laptop. It's literally the only tool I need in order to work while I travel. I went to the Apple Store to once again take a look at their MacBook Pro, thinking maybe I was being too critical in my previous assessments. So I start typing on one. Again. Which I find almost impossible... it's so uncomfortable, and I'm making more spelling errors than I'm spelling words correctly. So I ask the Apple sales guy "Do you ever get used to the keyboard? Does it ever start feeling normal?" His response? "I don't know that you ever really get used to it... it's more like you adapt to it..."
And so I walked out buying nothing.
There was a time that I was such an Apple whore that I bought shit just because it had the Apple logo on it. Now I have grown to loathe the company and their shitty products so much that I don't even know what to do with my rage. The Apple Developers Conference is coming up. If they are going to announce a new MacBook Pro, that will be the time. Will it have a keyboard you can actually type on? Who knows? If not, I guess I see if I can repair my SEVEN YEAR OLD MACBOOK, which is far superior to anything Apple currently has for sale.
The third thing I did was meet up with Jordan Ninja, Atomic Bombshell, and family, for dinner at Din Tai Fung. This is an amazing dumpling restaurant that has all kinds of amazing dishes on the menu. It also has a statue of Bao in the lobby!
If you don't know Bao, it's an amazing Pixar Short cartoon...
Needless to say, I ate entirely too much.
And because I never learn my lesson, I decided to eat entirely too much at lunch today as well.
At the recommendation of Jordan Ninja and Atomic Bombshell, I decided I wanted to visit France while in Orange County because I am a fanatic over French pastries. 15 minutes walk from my hotel is a French cafe called Moulin, which has a beautiful display of pastries to drool over...
This place is pretty amazing. I am a sucker for a good cream puff, so I ordered a "St. Honoré." Apparently my pronunciation was accurate enough that the woman behind the counter assumed I spoke French. Everything tastes eerily authentic. Down to the taste of the flour and the way the cream reacts when you cut through it. And, because I am a glutton for punishment, I got a croissant as well...
And now... I'm close to exploding.
Good thing I'm on my way home before I can do any further culinary damage.
Posted on Thursday, April 18th, 2019
And so... to catch up with my cat drama...
On Monday, the day before I was due to fly out to L.A., Jake was hiding and unwilling (or unable) to move. This is exactly how he acted when he previously had a urinary blockage. Back then I didn't recognize the signs, didn't take Jake into the vet fast enough, and he ended up with a horrible infection that could have killed him. Not wanting to go through that again, I confirmed with the security cameras that he hadn't used the litter box, then immediately took Jake to the vet.
The vet found high white cell counts and high sugar counts in his urine so they started treating him for a "temporary urinary blockage" since he had peed in the kitty carrier while waiting to see the doctor. They decided it would be best to keep him while I was traveling to make sure he was okay.
And now I'm back.
This morning I went to pick Jake up from the vet. When I got home (after a traumatic drive back), the poor guy was limping so badly that he could barely walk... and he vomited twice. Did he get hurt at the vet? Did he get sick while he was in observation? Or was there a bigger problem here?
Let's go back to the security cameras even further and see if we can learn something, shall we?
WARNING: This is not easy to watch...
The fear I've had since the day I brought my cats home came to pass. Jake slid off the banister and fell down the stairwell, injuring himself pretty bad. I'm not surprised. My cats are constantly climbing up there and it's a long drop...
Jake managed to crawl his way under the guest room bed (where I found him the next morning). It took him nearly a half-hour to get there because he couldn't use his back leg. That's where I found him in the morning and freaked out because last time he couldn't move his hind-quarters it was because his bladder was enflamed. Off to the vet he went.
So... it wasn't that he couldn't pee because of a urinary blockage... it was because he couldn't get to the litter box. The reason nobody noticed his leg at the vet was because they had him on painkillers for his bladder and he wasn't limping because he couldn't feel it. The reason he started limping when he got back home was because they stopped the painkillers and the trip probably strained his leg again.
The good news? The expensive urinary care prescription food he eats is working.
The bad news? I didn't look back far enough on the security camera footage to understand what had really happened. I stopped when I saw he wasn't using the litter box. Which means I put Jake through the trauma of a trip to the vet for entirely the wrong reason.
The good news? Because he was chillin' at the vet and hopped up on painkillers, his leg had a chance to heal a bit. Also? He wasn't at home alone where he could have hurt himself much worse. So it definitely wasn't a wasted trip.
The bad news? Not only do I have the expense of a 3-day vet bill (thank heavens for insurance!) I also have the expense of building some kind of barrier to try and keep this from happening again.
And so now I know I need to make darn sure that I review all the camera footage to have a better idea what happens when one of my cats is sick.
I had to build a zero-entry litter box so poor Jake has a place he can get to. Don't know if he will actually use it, but he does know it's there...
Just look at that sad, sad face!
Jenny is not happy about Jake smelling like the vet hospital. She sneaks up to snif around him, but ends up hissing and running away. No worries there though, she did that last time for a couple days. She'll come back around when he starts smelling "normal" again...
Jenny says... STRANGER DANGER!
I was forced to leave Jake alone to go grab my stuff from the office so I could work while I watch him. During that time, he managed to claw his way up the stairs and pull a blanket off the bed onto the floor where he could rest up...
I was terrified that he would try to climb up on the bed or hurt himself trying to get back downstairs, so I decided to hang out with him until he was ready to leave. He spent most of the time sleeping...
But occasionally woke up and wanted belly rubs...
I tried to explain that he could just pee on the floor if he had to go, but I was the one who had to pee. So I accepted the fact that I might be peeing my pants before the day was over.
Eventually, through sheer force of will, Jake clawed his way up on the bed. I had to lift his butt up, but he made it...
Such a sweet kitty.
After pulling himself around the bed for a bit, he decided to lean up against me for more sleep...
After we both fell asleep for 90 minutes or so, he woke me up as he tried to climb back across the bed. I decided to carry him downstairs because I knew the dinner alarm was going to chime in a half hour. Neither Jake nor Jenny likes to be carried, but he handled it like a champ.
And though Jake is still limping quite badly, he's getting around a bit better. More "howling" that "drawing" now.
He must also be feeling better, because he ate all of Jenny's wet food after he ate his own...
As for Jenny? Jake's butt must not be smelling quite right yet, because she wants nothing to do with him...
I'm really hoping that Jake recovers at home so I don't have to take him back to the vet. Because my next trip will be to take Jenny in for her shots. That's more than enough stress for the coming month.
Posted on Friday, April 19th, 2019
I am beyond exhausted. Taking care of Jake as he recovers from his fall is a full-time job. A big chunk of my day is spent trying to make sure he doesn't have to exert himself. Whenever I see him hobble up to something and look like he's going to jump up, I go running to lift him up instead.
Day and night.
When what I really need to be doing is working.
Though today I did end up taking time to make some greasy pub fries, which are my favorite thing to eat right now. Last week I documented my efforts so I could blog about it, but then travel happened and Jake happened, so I never got around to it.
I Love fries.
Problem is that here in the USA they usually suck. Either they're undercooked and not crispy... or they've been sitting for too long... or they have no flavor... or they're entirely too salty. Way too many things go wrong, and they usually do.
My favorite fries are from the Netherlands. They really know how to cook a potato! Most places in Europe do. And they're usually cooked-to-order, so they always taste their best.
But here? Not so much. And so... last Summer I started making my own fries. Here's what I've found makes the best fries after dozens of batches and months of trial and error...
As for oil... I just use the cheapest vegetable oil I can find. I cook with it 3 or 4 times until the refuse accumulation is too high. They recommend that you dispose of the oil in a milk carton. I don't drink milk, so I let it cool completely, pour into a bowl, freeze, then scoop into the trash before I take it out.
And there you have it! Perfect fries you can make at home!
And now it's back to taking care of my poor cat.
Posted on Saturday, April 20th, 2019
I've read up on cat sprains... a lot.
Seems the absolute best thing you can do is force your cat to rest the injury. They recommend keeping your cat in a cage so they can't move around a lot and cause further injury. I think we all know what would happen if I tried to keep Jake locked up in a cage. He'd go absolutely nuts and probably sprain even more appendages.
Lucky for me, Jake is taking professional advice without me having to cage him. This is how he spends most of his time...
Unfortunately, he insists on walking around as well. He has a terrible limp, but doesn't seem to be pained by it. This is awful because the pain is what should be keeping him from using it. Friday night I was so worried that he'd try to follow me upstairs that I slept on the floor next to him all night...
Last night I just slept on the couch because my back couldn't take another night on the floor. Jake slept next to me on the cat-bed that's on the coffee table... or on top of me when he felt up to it...
As if worrying about Jake hasn't been difficult enough, I've had to worry about Jenny as well. Jake not smelling like Jake has really freaked her out. First of all she's not been eating. She spends most of her time avoiding Jake and hiding.
But today all that changed. Fake Jake was outside the catio, and suddenly both cats were rushing outside. I had to jump ahead and open the back door so Jake wouldn't hurt himself trying to get through the cat door. Both cats then hung out together while Fake Jake meowed for a while...
So... back to normal then?
But hopefully in a couple weeks everything will go back to the usual madness instead of whatever it is that I'm going through now.
Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2019
The Easter Bunny may be bringing you chocolate and boiled eggs, but something better is in store... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Cathedral. It has been exceedingly difficult to gather my thoughts on the fire at Notre Dame. I've visited it all three times I've been to Paris, and loved it more with each trip. Such architectural wonders are a testament to mankind's accomplishments, and it is filled with sublime artistic treasures...
I am relieved that so much of it survived. I am thankful that nobody perished in the flames. I am happy that it can be rebuilt. But I am more than a little disheartened that three Black churches being burned in Louisiana barely made the news while Notre Dame could not be escaped. Yes, three small churches don't have the renown nor the grandeur of one of the most well-known landmarks on the planet, but still... it supports the false narrative that "racism is over" when it's happening around us every day. When something is invisible, people don't care about it. I'm not saying that every incident of racism has to be reported (you'd need dozens 24-hour news channel just to keep up with it all) but three churches being targeted and burned because its parishioners are Black is newsworthy, and people who think "racism is over" need to be reminded that it's not.
• Turkish Delight! While I've been spending time taking care of Jake, I've been running through foreign films on Amazon Prime Streaming. One of the best I've found kinda surprised me with not just how good it was... but with the way it had a bit of an interesting twist to it. Originally titled Kardeşim Benim in its original Turkish, it's listed on Amazon as My Brother (be sure Close Captioning (the CC button) is on)...
If you're not an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can rent it for $3 or purchase it for $6 on iTunes. There's a sequel that was made a couple years ago that looks every bit as good, but I haven't seen it available here in the USA...
Hopefully it gets English subtitles and shows up here soon.
• Dickey! This song is lyrically embarrassing, but the animation and cast of guest voices are pretty great...
Interesting that Lil' Dickey was the one to spearhead something like this, but here we are.
• Oh Boy! I was a bit late to the Garth Ennis comic book The Boys, but found it an interesting and often enjoyable series. Yes, it was filled with gratuitous... well... everything... but in a very good way. When I heard that Amazon Prime was adapting it, I was worried the show would end up being a pale shadow of the source material. Turns out I worried for nothing...
Savage. Needless to say, I'll be tuning into that.
• Trash! Senator Maureen Walsh is fucking garbage from the heart of Redneckistan. She is the one who made an impassioned plea advocating for marriage equality in Washington State because she has a lesbian daughter. We quickly found out that she only cares about marginalized people when they affect her directly, because she subsequently went after trans persons by saying that trans kids invite getting bullied because they intentionally stand out. Now she says that nurses don't deserve workplace protections with guarantees of breaks and time for lunch because they spend most of their time playing cards. Uh huh. Ask any nurse how much time they get to play cards while busting their assess to save lives. Exhaustion breeds mistakes. Do we really want nurses pushed to exhaustion given the job responsibilities they have? Of course not. Which makes Maureen Walsh a fucking dumbass on top of being an asshole. There are few people I regret believing in more than this epic fail...
UPDATE: Yes, I do know the context of what she was talking about, it was still way out of line. You can prove your point about critical care hospitals in rural communities without degrading nurses like this. For me the greater context is that Walsh has consistently voted against things like paid sick leave, guaranteed minimum wage, and other laws protecting workers. So, despite her apology or any context, what other conclusion are people supposed to make when she says stuff like this?
• Mueller? Mueller? I have a lot I could say. Maybe I will one day. In the meanwhile...
Oh. And this tweet right here...
Finished a second read through the Mueller Report. I don’t say this lightly, as a life long Republican, former R Hill staffer, and someone who has worked on every R campaign and pre-transition team for the last ten years. There is enough here to begin impeachment proceedings.— J.W. Verret (@JWVerret) April 20, 2019
I laugh my ass off at the idea that the Mueller Report in any way exonerates the president. On the contrary, it positively reeks with all the things that make him an affront to the office he holds and the country which allows him to hold it.
UPDATE: Here we go...
And 'tis time at last for the bullets to be done this fine Easter Sunday.
Posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2019
People who know stuff have said that in the future most people won't own cars. Instead they'll summon one of a fleet of robot vehicles in their area that will take them where they want to go. Robot cars will be smarter, faster, safer, and cheaper.
I'm fine with it. Partly because I like the idea of not having to maintain a car or buy a new one when the old one dies. But mostly because I love the idea of being able to work or play video games or read a book while traveling somewhere. How great is that?
In the meanwhile...
The weather has been way too nice for me to have any excuses not to walk to work. Not only is the brisk seven-minute exercise good for me... but I like being more environmentally friendly by not firing up my car for such a short drive into town.
And look at all the stuff I would miss if I was driving...
First of all is a rock that's asking for help...
Then there were these damn pigeons who have no respect for authority...
And just look at these blossoms...
Who knows what tomorrow's walk will bring?
Hopefully finding money.
Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019
If you've watched the terrifying video of poor Jake falling down my stairwell, you can understand why I hope to never have that happen again. In addition to the $500 vet bill, which could have been far far worse if he had broken something, it's just awful having to watch the little guy hobble around the house as his leg heals.
From what I can tell, he was lying on the narrow banister, as he is won't to do. He might have been napping there for all I know...
Then something startled him (possibly Jenny running around) which caused him to slip and fall all the way down the stairs. About a story-and-a-half...
So I am trying to come up with an added layer of protection that will help prevent slipping and falling... but also help better keep them on the ledge. I'm not sure what the best way to do this might be. But I really want to have something in place so I can travel and not worry so much. Since I don't have much time before I leave again, I thought I'd throw something together quickly now that looks good enough I can leave it in place until I have a better idea.
My thought is to have a "ledge tray" that I can temporarily screw onto my banister.
It will add width so the cats can have more room to lay down. It will be carpeted so the cats have something to grip onto if they start to slip. And it will have a small ledge that will prevent them from accidentally falling off...
So I don't have to look at an ugly carpet edge, I found a 90° molding that will act like a lip on the front. Here I am gluing it to the bottom of the tray...
Tomorrow I'll sand off the putty... paint it white to match my banister... then install it. The carpet squares I ordered (which match my hardwood floors) won't be here until next week, but at least it will be a little safer until I get back home.
The next step will be to build a narrow staircase up to it so the cats don't have to risk jumping up, overshooting the ledge, and flying over it.
After that I'll come up with some kind of ledge under the small window that's on the exterior wall. Jenny sometimes jumps up there (horrifying!) and it would be just my luck that she'll be the next one to fall down the stairwell. Something needs to be added there, I just have to figure out how to actually do it.
I will never run out of woodworking projects so long as I have cats.
Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2019
My pricey new Milwaukee cordless M18 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw is choice. I love it. But more on that later. Let's talk about my new Milwaukee cordless M18 Random Orbital Sander. When it was released last year, I took a hard pass because A) It was $99 without battery, and B) My corded sander works perfectly fine, and there was no sense spending money to replace it.
But last night as I was attempting to sand down my latest project, the cord on the sander snagged on a bottle of glue that was sitting next to a pan of kitty litter and both went crashing to the floor of my single-car-garage woodshed. There just aren't many outlets in a garage, so I'm always running into problem like this (as well as running out of outlets).
While attempting to clean up the horrendous disaster that comes from glue mixing with kitty litter, I suddenly realize that "Boy, a cordless sander sure would have been handy." Minutes later I was digging into my savings as I cruised Home Depot's website. In-store pickup, here I come...
I have no idea... none how I survived without this. I thought the battery would make it heavy and difficult to navigate. Nope. Far, far less difficult than wrangling a cord, even with the added weight. In fact, as shown in the photo, I have my medium M18 instead of my smaller M18 battery, and it's perfectly fine. The kit comes with a dust-catcher extender, so I even have the option of using my mega-battery on it if I wanted to!
And it's not just the lack of a cord that makes it so fantastic... it has multiple speeds (my old one didn't) and the random sanding "pattern" seems to do a better job of making quick work of large areas to boot. If you've already got some Milwaukee M18 batteries knocking around, the convenience of cordless is pretty much a no-brainer.
And then there's the Milwaukee cordless M18 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw...
I had no intention of replacing my faithful old Ryobi... until it went out of alignment and I couldn't get good cuts from it (nor get the laser guide to aim straight). Maybe somebody smarter than I could have figured out how to fix it, but I was done. My first instinct was to spend the $220 to get another Ryobi. It provided years of faithful service, was relatively inexpensive, and I was familiar with it. But then I saw that Milwaukee had a kit with an extra maximum performance M18 battery on sale for $600 (down from $850) and decided I'd spend the money on quality now rather than having to replace another Ryobi in 4 years...
My worries were A) A cordless saw would have much less power than a corded version, and B) All the reviews talked about what a shitty job it did of collecting dust.
Turns out that A) It has plenty of power to cut through anything I've thrown at it... including Trex decking and hardwoods, and B) All the reviews were right... the dust collection is so bad that I don't even know why they bother putting a bag on it in the first place since hardly any dust ends up in there.
The dust collection problem is annoying, but not a dealbreaker. No miter saw catches all the dust, so what's a little more? Still, you have to wonder what in the hell Milwaukee was thinking that they couldn't have done a better job of it.
Just as with every Milwaukee cordless tool I've ever owned, the benefits of going cordless far outweigh any drawbacks in the ultimate design. I can move it anywhere in my garage shop without having to unplug/plug which is great. I also have one less cord to trip over and one less outlet occupied, which is really great.
Dust collection aside, there are a number of things that Milwaukee gets right. First of all, they've done away with a laser guide in favor of a shadow cut-line indicator. Before using it, I thought this was a detriment. Because lasers are awesome, yo. But then I used it and realize what a huge boost to accuracy it is. A shadow of the actual blade not only shows you exactly where the cut occurs and how much material the blade will be removing... but it also will never go out of alignment, something that plagued my Ryobi...
Another thing I like is the design of the slider. With most miter saws, the tool slides along rails that poke out behind the saw on the top. With Milwaukee, the rails are inside the unit and on the bottom. It's just cleaner with less obstruction on top, though I have no idea if this could be a problem after dust ends up on the rails. How would you clean that? I dunno.
As is par for the course with Milwaukee, the little details are nicely accommodated. The blade cover locks open for easy access (I loathed having to fumble with it on my Ryobi every time I changed blades). Changing angle or bevel is not only fast and easy, but seriously balls-on accurate. On my old saw when I had to meet two 45° angles for a corner, there was always a slight error that crept into the mix. But with my Milwaukee, they meet up flawlessly every time on the first try, corner after corner. No more sanding or filler! Another plus? The saw is fairly lightweight and can be carried from the top or side. I keep mine permanently mounted on my awesome Rigid mobile folding stand, but it's nice to know I could transport it easily.
Ten out of Five Stars. Would purchase again.
As mentioned yesterday, I'm building a ledge tray for my banister to (hopefully) keep my cats safe in the stairwell. After work I had time to paint a base coat. All I have now is a light sanding and two more coats and it will be good to go (the carpet for the bottom arrives next week)...
This unanticipated little project has me chomping at the bit to get started on my kitchen cabinets! Now THERE is a job that will make good use of my pricey new toys!
Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019
I don't think I've done a meme in like... forever.
65 Questions You Aren't Used To by rainbowsociety:
Posted on Friday, April 26th, 2019
Avengers: Endgame was a movie alright!
My expectations were phenomenally high for this film. Lucky for me, it was a pretty phenomenal movie and definitely lived up to all the pre-hype that Marvel has been shoveling out over the past several months. I absolutely loved it...
Needless to say I can't really talk about the film without spoiling some of the stuff that happens.
Trust me. If there's one film you do not want spoiled, it's this one. So absolutely do not proceed any further until you have seen Avengers: Endgame!
You've been warned.
Spoilers await in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Saturday, April 27th, 2019
Jake is doing so much better, so thanks to all of you who reached out with concern and kind words! He still limps... sometimes more than others, but he's showing vast improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if his limp is mostly gone in another week.
Right now my priority is keeping him safe from another fall.
When I design projects I also write out a task list and a schedule so I know how long it will take. For my new "banister cat tray" I had one evening allotted for construction. One evening to fill nail holes, sand, and prime. And one evening to smooth-sand and paint two coats. Which means I was ready to install it yesterday morning...
The carpet that goes on the bottom arrives on Wednesday. In the meanwhile, I hope things are a little safer for Jake and Jenny. At least Jake can't fall asleep... then fall off... so easily again.
From the bottom, it's not very obtrusive, which is nice...
I sent the photos to a friend who does carpentry... he replied with "DESIGN FAIL! Somebody using the hand railing for the stairs will run into your construction!"
I couldn't understand what he was talking about until I realized that the angle of the photo doesn't show the whole story. So I sent him this photo and said "YOU WERE SAYING?!?"...
Turns out I actually DO put some thought into my projects!
Eventually I want to build a narrow staircase so they can climb up to the banister instead of making a dangerous jump. Until I do that, I put a bench in front that they can use to hop up more easily. Jenny was the first to take a look...
And there you have it... a safer, conveniently cat-sized walkway!
And now to think about how I can build cat stairs... and a safety ledge for the windows above the stairwell where Jenny likes to play. A "feature" of my house that terrifies me to no end. The girl is fearless when it comes to heights. Which is fine. But only when it's reasonably safe! She likes to be totally UNSAFE, and it drives me crazy.
Until next Caturday...
Posted on Sunday, April 28th, 2019
I don't mind my allergies splitting my head apart thanks to everything in the valley blooming at the same time... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Thrones! I may be in the minority here, but I felt that the majority of the latest episode, The Battle of Winterfell, was embarrassingly bad. Everything was filmed so dark that it was almost impossible to see what was happening. Even worse, much of the action was shot way too close, so even if you could see what was happening, you couldn't tell what was going on anyway. They literally could have just skipped most of the episode, had somebody summarize what happened in two minutes, and the result would have been practically the same for me. Disappointing. Though I'll be the first to say that the ending was exactly what I wanted to see. w00t!
• Trek V2. The CGI effect upgrades they gave to old Star Trek episodes back in 2006 are pretty great. Definitely helps then to hold up for modern audiences. Recently I was watching Tomorrow is Yesterday for the hundredth time and found myself forgetting what the old effects looked like. So I looked it up on YouTube and found this...
Right off the bat I found something surprising...
ZOMG! PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY REVISED THEIR VIEW OF THE PLANET BECAUSE IN THE FUTURE THEY KNOW THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT!!!
• Vegetarianism Fail. When I first became a vegetarian back in 1986, eating out was a challenge. Pretty much all you could do was ask for a grilled cheese or try to find a salad without meat on it. Now-a-days it's so much easier. Except at my local "V.I.P." theater. Their big "thing" is wraps. They've got quit an assortment of them. Every last one of them with meat on it. Even the "Veggie Extreme" is SO EXTREME that it has chicken on it! Baller!
Since they didn't have a vegetarian option, I asked if they can substitute avocado for the chicken. Nope! But they can leave the chicken off and charge me $1.25 for avocado though! Fuckers. If you're not going to have a vegetarian-friendly option, at least allow a reasonable substitution!
And so... French fries it is. Except... it literally took them THREE TRIES to deliver my fries. They'd walk in the theater. Wander up and down the aisle. Then leave. Then come back. And then... it was only because I FLAGGED THEM DOWN that they managed to find me, even though I had to give them my row number when I ordered! Needless to say, my fries were cold... not "unwarm" BUT FUCKING COLD... by the time I got them. Pathetic. Some "V.I.P." experience.
• You Spin Me! Most of the time I scan the episodes of Fallon, Myers, Corden, and Kimmel on my DVR for the guest, then delete as many as I can. The only reason I watch is if there's a guest I want to see. Like Paul Rudd. And his appearance on Fallon did not disappoint. Paul and Jimmy remade Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round...
For comparison's sake, here's the shot-for-shot next to the original...
• Let Them Implode. Long ago, back before I started weaving Buddhist precepts into my Path of Life and gave up weapons of violence, I was proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association. This was back when they were dedicated to promoting gun safety and advocated for reasonable restrictions when it came to allowing people access to firearms ALONG WITH defending Second Amendment rights. Now that they are a corrupt organization in the pocket of gun manufacturers who prey on people with nothing but fear and lies, I fucking detest the NRA and everything they stand for. Nothing would make me happier than to have the entire organization be flushed down the toilet like the fucking pieces of shit that they are. And take NRA cheerleader Dana Loesch with you. She's fucking garbage too. Bring back the NRA whose principles were rooted in responsible, safe gun ownership. If we can't have that, then please let the whole fucking thing implode.
• Wall Chowder. Every time I have to listen to bullshit about President Trump's MASSIVELY EXPENSIVE WALL... all I can think of is how drones powerful enough and large enough TO CARRY A PERSON OVER THE WALL ARE CURRENTLY USED FOR CONSTRUCTION! And, like everything tech-related, they are just going to get cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Somebody in Mexico could buy a couple and earn a fortune FLYING PEOPLE OVER THE WALL. Make no mistake... Trump's wall is a stupid, STUPID, STUPID, FUCKING STUPID waste of money. Within 5 years it could be rendered obsolete. Or be obsolete within 10 minutes, considering tunneling under the fucking thing IS AS EASY AS DIGGING A FUCKING TUNNEL. And now I'm filled with rage. Again. Forget the horrendous damage to the environment and migrating species that will be severely impacted... WE CAN'T FUCKING AFFORD IT NOW THAT ALL OUR TAX REVENUE IS GOING TOWARDS TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY! Exactly how big of a fucking deficit do we need?
See you on the flip-side, bullet fans.
Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2019
I'm so exhausted I can barely function.
Which means it must be time to clean house, pack a suitcase, drive over the mountains, and fly off to destination unknown for work, right?
Well, it's not really unknown... it's Las Vegas... but what I'm going to be doing once I get there is mostly unknown. Right now the majority of my time will be spent sitting around waiting for the phone to ring so I can leap into action.
Or, more likely, fall out of bed into action.
I'm just that tired.
I flew out of Paine Field in Everett again, because I absolutely love having an alternative to shitty SeaTac...
Since this is actually "Boeing Field" there is a cool lineup of what I'm guessing is Boeing customers as you taxi out to the runway...
And now... time for dinner with friends.I hear everybody is doing that now-a-days.
Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
Last night I took care of work, then met up with friends on their last night in Vegas so we could go out to a late dinner. We ended up walking to Fatburger, which was fine by me because they not only have a great Veggie Burger (Boca Burger patty) they are now selling Impossible Burgers too! Can you imagine? Not one, but two vegetarian choices? At a burger chain? It's like they think vegetarians are real people or something!
Today was all work all the time, but I did manage to get away for a late lunch at my beloved Nacho Daddy (complete with a Long Island because I just can't help myself)...
I prefer the location in Old Town at the end of Fremont, but The Strip location is also pretty great.
After that it was back to work. I thought I'd grab a quick cup of fray from Pinkberry at Crystal Shops but was shocked to find that it was CLOSED! When I asked about it, I was told that all three of the Pinkberry locations in Vegas are now gone, including the one at The Tropicana...
Well that blows. I wonder if Pinkberry is in serious financial trouble or they just couldn't make a go of it in Vegas?
It was probably for the best, because I had dinner lined up with long-time blogging friend KC at Il Fornaio. Lucky me, they had the butternut squash ravioli at this location just like they do at the downtown Seattle restaurant...
The walnuts inside were chunkier than what I'm used to, but it was still a pretty fantastic dinner.
After saying goodbye to KC, I decided to walk next door to the Park MGM so I could see the $550 million worth of renovations that got sunk into the hotel and casino from when they took over The Monte Carlo. It's nice, but not overly-extravagant. The lobby has a very cool wood structure in the ceiling that is supposed to look like tree roots or something. I'm not quite sure how they managed to cut-and-paste things together so seamlessly, but it's pretty nifty to look at...
The Monte Carlo was always kinda an enigma to me. They advertised as a luxury brand, but the hotel and casino never much lived up to it. Sure there was marble on the floors, high-end fixtures, and such, but it always felt dated to me. When I stayed there a couple years ago I didn't think the rooms were very luxurious, that's for sure. Now that the Park MGM has taken over, it seems as though things are back on track. It's a nice-looking property in the public spaces anyway.
I had read somewhere that Britney Spears was setting up residence in the Park MGM, but she was nowhere to be found. Instead, Bruno Mars was playing a show in their theater. No idea what that's about. Now that I think about it, I haven't heard much of anything about Britney for a while now.
And there's my last night in Vegas. Tomorrow morning I'm back at work until 10:30am, then off to the airport so I can fly out and drive back home to my cats in the afternoon. It's always tough to watch them wandering from room to room looking for me and coming up empty. Especially since Jake still has a bit of a limp yet.
Crossing my fingers for an easy day of travel...
Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
I had to wake up fairly early this morning to check into work. Once I had some things handled, I had time for a leisurely shower and... surprise surprise... breakfast!
Beside myself with joy at the prospect of being able to actually have breakfast for once, I tried to think of what I wanted to eat. All that came into my head was the Fatburger I had when I arrived on Monday night. It was everything I could want in a meal. I thought I would look up Fatburger's hours to see if there was time to stop on my way to the airport.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only is Fatburger open 24/7... they are serving burgers all hours of the day and night!
Fatburger Veggie Burger for breakfast it was...
It was everything I dreamed it would be.
The weather has been really nice these past couple days. Warm and breezy, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable. It's almost enough to make me want to stay a couple more days. Almost.
This time around I'm staying at New York New York because it's where my friends were staying. It's also close enough to my work that I could walk instead of taking pricey taxis. It's a pretty nice hotel, even if the rooms are fairly basic. It certainly has my favorite skyline of all the Vegas Strip hotels...
My room was in that light orange tower, fourth from the right. I was actually on the North side facing The Park... something I didn't know until I finally looked out the window this morning...
1) I kept hearing "wooshing" sounds and assumed it was the wind. Turns out it's the roller coaster. The occasional sounds of people screaming were not people whooping it up on The Strip... but people riding said coaster.
2) The Park MGM hotel used to be The Monte Carlo. At the very top there is a "hotel within a hotel" with luxury suites that used to be called "Hotel32." I note that now the "hotel within a hotel" has been renamed "NoMad." I've actually been up there when it was Hotel32 and it was pretty spectacular (seriously, Google for photos of it). I can't imagine what it must look like after the remodel.
And now I'm at the airport waiting to fly home. As if that wasn't good enough news, I was upgraded to First Class for the flight home (which is pretty cool considering I was upgraded to First on the way down too...
And now it's time to head home so I can drive home!
Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
It's not like I can say my life is boring... I have been lucky enough to travel the world, meet interesting people, and do really cool stuff... but when I'm not doing that my life is as mundane as it gets. Oftentimes I question why people read this blog* when most of the time all I've got going on in my life is cats.
Take today for example.
I woke up at 5:30am, which is about average. I then check my personal email, see what's happening with my East Coast Facebook peeps, then check my work email. At 7:00am Alexa alerts the cats that it's breakfast time, so we all go downstairs where I feed them. I then do household cleaning and chores until around 8:00am when I hop in the shower and get ready for work. I am usually out the door around 8:30-ish for my 7-minute walk to the office.
I try to be out of the office at 4:00 (today I left at 4:10) and walk back home.
Today there was some excitement when I spotted an old cat with patches of fur missing walking through several yards until it decided to rest on somebody's porch (no idea if that's where home is)...
Once I got home at 4:20, I worked until Alexa chimed for the cat's dinner at 6:00pm. Since I received a notice from Home Depot that my carpet squares had arrived, I decided to run to The Big City (20 minutes away) and pick them up. Afterwards I wanted to have fries for dinner, but was too tired to make them by hand. I was going to drive to McDonalds, but Sonic was closer so I went there.
I rarely go to Sonic because they don't have vegetarian options. I only go there when they are having an ice cream promo or some kind of drink special. I've never had their fries before. AND I WILL NEVER HAVE THEM AGAIN! Holy crap! They were not very fresh, barely warm... AND THEY WERE GUMMY! As in, you had to chew through their saggy, bleak texture in a way that is usually reserved for gummy bears. And then there's my OREO Sonic Blast (AKA a McFlurry). The first third of the cup was as expected. A good distribution of OREO pieces that were large enough that they tasted like OREO. The second third was just OREO crumbs. Just a dust, really. And the final third? NOTHING! NO OREO AT ALL!
How the fuck did Sonic get to be "America's Drive-In?" Their half-assed food is a blight on the entire country!
Anyway... I head home and immediately get to work carpeting my Cat Bannister Tray when I arrive around 7:10pm. The squares were way thin, but surprisingly nice considering how cheap they were. The good news is that I have lots of spares if my cats decide to destroy the ones I installed...
And that was that.
At some point I'll build the cat-stairs up to it so it's safer for Jake and Jenny to get up there... add a shelf under the upper window so I won't go out of my mind with worry when Jenny leaps up there (nearly two full stories above the stairs below!)... and then my project will be completed. At least until I think of something else to add to it.
Around 7:40pm I threw a load of clothes in the wash then finished up a work project a little after 9:00pm.
Then it was clothes in the dryer, catching up on television, clothes out of the dryer, and I was in bed at 11:30pm so I can blog this then start it all over again tomorrow.
Thrilling, I know.
But hey, not every day can be an expedition to Antarctica.
*Yes, people actually do visit this blog. A lot. The interactivity I had from the heyday of blogging is long gone, but my wide variety of topics and daily updates means that Google sends scores of people here every day. Though it's not all search results... most days the number of people coming here directly is fairly substantial. No, I don't know why. You tell me!
Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2019
Have you heard?
The latest issue of Thrice Fiction has been released! And you can read it online (or download it as a PDF) absolutely FREE! To see a bunch cool stories and terrific art for the bargain price of free-fitty-free, just click here and enjoy!
This issue's cover features our raccoon mascot and was lovingly painted by the ever-talented Kyra Wilson!
As always, I'm going to take a minute to talk about the art that I created for the issue. This may involve spoilers, so it's probably best that you read it before proceeding!
The first piece I created is for the story Convenience by Gregory Wolos. In the story a couple loses their dog "Bark" and all they have left is his collar. Since this happens almost immediately in the story, I didn't think it would be spoiling anything to use that in the image...
This is a stock photo of a collar that I combined with a stock photo of a name tag (which I had to erase then "engrave" myself) that I then Photoshopped on a formica countertop stock photo so I could add shadows. My goal was to have something look fairly realistic so that it reflected the very real stuff going on in the story.
This next piece for the story Last Wednesday by Djanaina Salamon was not something I felt that I should take on myself. It specifically speaks to experiences of a Black woman, and I felt if needed that voice for the accompanying artwork. I tracked down an artist that was a good fit, but it fell through. I tried to get a replacement, but that fell through. And so... the night before we went to press... I pulled out my laptop to paint something myself...
I used Adobe Illustrator and the brush pallet to "finger-paint" the image, which I wanted to look a bit raw and abstract... but still capture a sense of beauty. The idea here is that she's burning with righteous fury over the microaggressions and other daily injustices that would probably drive a white person insane if we experienced even a fraction of it. I didn't want the fire to be actual fire... that just reads as "anger" to me. I wanted it to appear "holy," in a sense, so that it could be interpreted as "righteous." So I decided to make it silver. I also decided to make it be more of a "glow" than wild flames, so it didn't seem like the woman was out of control. There had to be an internal strength there. Originally, her hair was much shorter... but then I got the idea to make an afro which was a perfect circle, like a halo around her head. In the end, I'm happy with the illustration... but I still struggle as to whether it was appropriate for a white guy to try and interpret something he will never have to experience. I really wish I could have found an artist better suited. But I was my only option if we wanted to make deadline. Such is the life of an art director.
For the story Away, Away by past Thrice Fiction contributor MaryAnne Kolton, I wanted to come up with something which illustrated what I perceived to be the essence of the story. It's the story of a woman thought of as weak and inconsequential by her abusive husband... a "dead fish" as he refers to her... who has to find the strength to do the unthinkable...
MaryAnne was specific as to the firearm used in the story... a Phoenix Arms Semi-Automatic Pistol... and I wanted to be accurate in my illustration. A stock photo of a dead fish was easy to find. But I couldn't find the right pistol at the right angle which could be used. So I called my brother, who works at a gun shop in Montana to see if he could help me out. He didn't have one. But a friend of his happened to walk in that did have one, so I had him prop it up against something of fish-height and send me a photo. I then composited them in Photoshop, painted over everything (being sure that "Phoenix Arms" was visible), adjusted the colors to be almost monotone and bleak, then ran it through some filters until I had what I was looking for.
Ali Azar's story A Drifted Sorrowful Soul was dense with imagery I could pull from... but I couldn't get the idea of a young Iranian boy being inundated with images from the television out of my head. At first I was just going to illustrate it like out of a children's book. But I bristled at the idea of taking such a serious subject and reducing it to a kiddie illustration, so I took my drawing and cut out textures as shapes that I could paste over it...
Every piece of the illustration is a texture except the Iranian flag, which is the real deal (but not really, because you can't see the center identifying mark). As you can imagine, this took a long, long time to construct. But the result is what I was looking for so I guess it's worth it. Kinda childlike... but "real" in the sense that the textures are all real.
For Paul Beckmans awesome bit of flash, it was critical to not give the ending away, which is what makes it so great. So I grabbed an image from the front-end of the story of a running dog and used that. In order to throw readers off balance and make it so they couldn't possibly guess what the story was about, yet be compelled to read it so they could understand what was going on in the picture, I intentionally drew something goofy and simplistic...
I then added old-fashioned halftone dots to the image to make it look like something out of a comic book. For no other reason than I love the story and the illustration I came up with amuses me, this is my favorite work in this issue.
For the cross-spread story of Larry, Said a Voice from Inside by Frank Candeloro, I knew exactly what I wanted to draw. The thing that sets everything in motion... a dying cellphone battery...
To match the previous page, I rendered it in the exact same style. Nothing round. All angles. Despite the simplicity, I love how it turned out.
And there you have my artistic contributions to Issue No. 25 of Thrice Fiction Magazine. If you haven't already, please do check it out... it's FREE, after all.
Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2019
I'm pretty sure that Jake thinks his name is "Where is Jenny" and Jenny thinks her name is "Where is Jakey Bear." Heaven only knows why I keep asking... they never tell me where their sibling is... but I guess it makes me feel like a concerned parent to ask.
Speaking of being a concerned parent... Jake seems to have (mostly) healed from his tumble off the banister. His limp is very slight now, and sometimes disappears altogether. Hopefully the new Cat Banister Tray will prevent this from happening again.
Even if his physical state is getting back to normal, I'm afraid Jake's mental state is not being so quick to return. He is far more jumpy than he used to be. He also is far more clingy than he used to be. It used to be that my cats left after I fell asleep, but now Jake is with me most of the time I'm home... including when I'm sleeping.
He's pretty much stuck to me like glue...
The good news is that Jake is considerably more agreeable to getting Furminated now...
As for Jenny? She's doing great.
She spends most of her time out in the catio chasing bugs and watching birds parade around the back yard...
She still likes to spend time clawing at my jeans...
And she still likes to stare me down each morning until it's breakfast time...
And she still likes hiding in places... even though she's not very good at it...
She also likes to shed a metric ton of cat hair every week... but I'm sure she feels bad about it.
And, lastly this Caturday, I ran across this video and liked it so much I was compelled to share it...
See you next Caturday!
Posted on Sunday, May 5th, 2019
It's Cinco de Mayo! It's also great day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Chewy! Peter Mayhew, most famous for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies passed away this week. He sounded like a wonderful, generous man...
Rest in peace, sir. You crafted a character that captured my imagination and made me love a walking carpet.
• Mattress Wars! This is some shady shit right here...
I never trust online review sites. I rarely trust reviews on any site. Unless it's coming from somebody I know and/or trust, it's just bullshit noise. And yet... I still read them in an attempt to be informed as to my purchases. =shrugs=.
• Boca? Last year Kraft abandoned their Original Boca Burgers and Vegan Boca Burgers. They instead came out with a new "Boca Burger" which is nothing like the original despite still saying "original" on the box. It tastes like shit. The Vegan burger was discontinued entirely. Recently on their Facebook page, they unleashed this steaming pile of bullshit...
Our consumers told us that their experiences with our vegan burger were better represented by a turkey burger. With this new insight, we renovated our vegan burger to better deliver on taste, texture, and flavor under the new “Turk’y Burger” banner.
Vegans no longer want a vegan burger, they want a turkey-tasting burger? Yeah that sounds like it totally happened. Now that Kraft has completely abandoned all the things people loved about the Original and Vegan Boca Burgers, hopefully some other company will step in and make an ACTUAL Original Boca-inspired burger that people actually want to eat. Personally, I think Kraft is run by lying pieces of shit who just wanted to make a cheaper burger, didn't give a crap if it tasted nothing like a Boca Burger, then decided to sell it with outrageous levels of lying. Whatever. Not buying it. Go fuck yourself, Kraft. Why buy Boca Burger if you weren't interested in making Boca Burgers?
• Chalk! I ran across this video on chalk, of all things, and found it more interesting than I thought I could...
I haven't used a chalkboard for decades. But after watching this? I have an overwhelming desire to get me some Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk and write on one! Probably cost me $5 to buy a stick, but apparently it's an experience that needs to be had.
• Deep Sky! I've professed my love of all things GigaPan more than a couple times. But now they've got something really interesting going on. They've combined thousands of photos from a tiny area of sky about the size of the moon in the sky. The result? A Hubble Telescope GigaPan Image!
This is so cool...
Yeah, you'll want to head over to the GigaPan site to play with this yourself. It is positively astounding the number of galaxies that can be found in such a small section of our sky. Google says that the average number of stars in a galaxy is 250 billion ± 150 billion.
• Follow the Money! Veronica Mars is one of my favorite television shows of all time, which is why it's so great that it's getting revisited. First with a movie... now with a new series from Hulu...
Here's hoping that it's the first of many new seasons!
• Boo Pricing! Recently Hulu lowered their prices. Apparently they understand that with so much new streaming competition that they need to be competitive. Netflix, on the other hand, is taking the opposite tact. Recently when I visited their site I was forced to accept their new pricing before they would even let me access the content that I pay for...
Well... let's see... Netflix has canceled all the Marvel shows (the reason I signed up in the first place), so I suppose this is where I tell them to take their price increase and go fuck themselves with it. Except... they do add a comedy special I enjoy from time to time. So I guess my solution will be to drop the service, then pick it up for a month a couple times a year. Maybe if everybody does this, they'll get the fucking message. Because, sure, I love having original content (when it's good) but there's a limit as to how much I can afford to spend on it.
• Thrones! The first part of this episode was exactly what it needed to be... the calm before the storm. And then the storm began. And while the result of the initial encounter was tragic and earlier than expected, it WAS expected. There are a list of things that really must happen before the story ends. And we're almost there. So now it's all about the unknowns. There's things you'd like to happen. Things you'd hate to happen. Things that, hopefully, unexpectedly happen. And two episodes left for it all to happen in. Hopefully in way that makes sense, which the back-end of this episode really did not. Does nobody ride ahead and make sure that your way is safe any more? Insanity.
• It's Not Me It's You! Last Sunday HBO unleashed an episode of Game of Thrones that took 55 nights to film. It was a massive battle that had been building for years, and was an epic sight to behold. At least it would have been had they not filmed it so fucking dark that you couldn't see a damn thing. It was a horrific mess. Even when there was light enough to see something, they filmed it so close that you still couldn't tell what was going on. Needless to say, a lot of fans were extremely pissed off. Now the cinematographer for the episode said that It's not Me, It's Your TV Settings. Which is a load of shit, of course. I have a high-end 4K television and a fiber internet connection. I black out my entire living room when watching. This is NOT my fucking fault... or that of my internet... or that of my television... or that of my viewing environment.
The cinematographer's job was to create media which could be displayed and understood in the way that people would be consuming it. Namely, streaming over the internet with compression, limited gamut, and a normal television. Not in an idealized fantasy theater with Blu-Ray 4K Ultra HD signal and a $15,000 OLED TV. Which means he completely, utterly, and totally failed to do his job. And fuck him for saying otherwise. My hope is that HBO will listen to their customers and spend the money to re-key the lighting, then rebroadcast it so people can actually see the shit. If not? Fuck them too.
And that's all he wrote for bullets this week. Tune in next week when I'll try to find more to complain about!
Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019
This morning I put in three hours working at home before I walked to work, so I was already exhausted by the time I left the house. Apparently I'm better driving while exhausted over walking while exhausted because I kept tripping over stuff. Rocks, roots, raised seams in the sidewalk... getting my exercise in today is a dangerous business.
But then, at the half-way mark, I had a heart-stopping moment that caused me to wake right up.
As I started rounding a corner, I saw a rabbit in the middle of the road...
This is a very busy corner and, despite distracted driving laws, I regularly see people driving while texting. Driving while putting on makeup. Driving while eating a bowl of cereal. My instinct was to rush into the street and see if I could block traffic until the rabbit had a chance to get wherever it was going. But then I worried he would get scared and run away from me into oncoming traffic. So I decided to walk around it while recording video... because if some texting asshole were to run him over as I was trying to flag them down, I wanted to have footage I could use to turn them into the police.
And then a bus started barreling around the corner and I held my breath because I had no idea what their visibility might be.
But, much to my delight, the bus stopped. Cars coming from the opposite direction stopped. And the bunny ran back to the (relative) safety of the yard from whence he came...
As I walked along the sidewalk, I scoped out the bushes in the yard to see if I could see him. Sure enough...
I've lived in this town since I was five. I've seen bunnies in the wilds surrounding the town... but I've never seen a rabbit walking around civilization like this. My hope is that this is an anomaly, and he just got lost or something.
I really hope that some asshole didn't buy a rabbit for their kids at Easter then decide it was too much work so they just kicked it to the curb. I read about this happening with bunnies and chicks every year around Eastertime, and have to wonder who the fuck could be that big of an asshole. Probably the same people who want to punish poor people for being poor, which is a reoccurring theme in today's political arena. The prevailing thought seems to be that poor people want to be poor. That poor people are lazy and don't want to work. That poor people live like royalty with their free hi-def televisions and mobile phones. That poor people are to blame for high taxes. That poor people get all the breaks while honest hard-working people get none. That poor people don't deserve healthcare or places to live or food to eat... because they're poor.
Of course these same people tend to be the ones that persecute the shit out of our LGBT communities because of a couple passages in the Bible they think tells them it's okay... while completely ignoring the multitude of passages telling them that ignoring those in poverty is most definitely not okay. So I've given up on trying to apply rational thought to crap like this. But I don't blame myself here. Hypocrisy often defies rational thought.
Over the weekend I noted that G.I. Jane (a 1997 film starring Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen) was playing as I cycled through TV channels. I've always liked this film and have never understood the contempt that critics have for it. Demi Moore seemed highly dedicated to the role and did a fine job. Viggo Mortensen's contemptible, yet oddly complex Master Chief is one of the better movie characters I've seen. And Ridley Scott's thoughtful direction, hallmark scene composition, and wonderful cinematography is a beautiful thing to behold...
I ended up watching it, of course. Or, to be more accurate, I had it on while I was working. I quickly learned to regret my decision though, because the Ovation TV network is a steaming pile of shit*... but I hadn't seen the film in at least a decade, so I was happy to get to see it again.
One notable thing (for me) about the movie is that it features a poem by one of my favorite poets, D.H. Lawrence. Much like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which features a line from a Lawrence poem along similar lines (Wales Weep Not), it provides a small (yet critical) expansion of the story.
Rumor has it that Viggo Mortensen himself injected it into the film...
This is absolutely remarkable if it's true, because finding out that his speech was a poem called Self-Pity and not just badass rhetoric completely changes everything about the character at the very end of the film in the best possible way...
My guess is that rabbits, discarded and unloved, probably feel no self-pity as well.
It's our job as humans to feel pity for them and we are failing miserably.
But not on my walk to work today, thankfully.
*What a fucking shitty network Ovation TV is. I swear they air more commercials per hour than any other network I've ever seen... and that's saying something. G.I. Jane has a runtime of 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ovation is taking THREE HOURS to air it. Which means anything you watch on this laughably pathetic network is ONE THIRD COMMERCIALS! And so... Ovation is being deprogrammed from my DirecTV and I'm never watching this bullshit again. It's things like this that make me want to tell cable and satellite television providers to go fuck themselves. FIRST you have to pay a massive amount of money just to GET the channel... then you have to waste your fucking time watching an abundance of ads. Ad-free streaming direct from the source is the wave of the future... like CBS All Access. If I'm going to pay a shit-load of money to watch television, why pay DirecTV to watch ads?
Posted on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
I have two camera systems for my home. One of them is a system of hidden cameras which records locally and has a battery backup. If somebody cuts my power or cuts the internet or whatever, then I will still have then on camera. The cameras automatically disengage when anybody successfully connects to my internet. So if I'm home (or a guest uses my WiFi internet) they go offline. The other system is my NestCams, which are "cloud-based." Back when I bought them, they were the best-quality cameras I tested. They were also the easiest to set up and maintain. Eventually I came to hate Nest because their billing system is shady and shitty, but the cameras are still pretty great. There are occasional hiccups with accessing them via the pricey "Nest Aware" service, but by-and-large they are fine.
Back in 2014 Google bought out Nest.
At first I was excited because I thought maybe... just maybe... the shitty billing system that Nest has in place would be jettisoned for something that actually works, actually lets you know how much you're being billed, and actually maintains a history that bears some sense of accuracy. Nest had none of those things.
But then today the wheels came off of any excitement I might have had.
I got an email from Google saying that "Nest" is now "Google Nest" and they are making some fairly radical changes to how they run things...
Google's reasoning behind this is to make Nest products more secure.
This is complete and total fucking bullshit.
And even if it weren't, it should still be my choice as to how I connect my shit.
Google is making it so other stuff no longer works with their Nest shit because they want you to replace all your other shit with Google shit. As an example (from what I can tell) this means no more Alexa. If you want to voice control your Nest shit, you have to dump Alexa and buy Google Home Hubs instead.
So, basically, the entire reason I bought my NestCams and Nest Protect smoke detectors is gone. No more getting FireTV to display my camera feeds on my television. And no more using IFTTT so I can't interface my cameras and smoke detectors with all my other home automation devices. Which is the entire fucking point of building a SmartHome!
What scares the shit out of me is if Google decides that their WiFi Mesh Network Hubs will no longer allow integration with IFTTT. That's the backbone to my entire system. I would lose at least half of my home automation functionality if they were to do that. There would be no option for me but to replace it with something entirely different.
And it gets worse.
Google is also changing basic functionality of the products. NestCams have a light that glows when somebody is recording or observing the cameras. I've turned this off, because if there's somebody who has broken into my home, I don't want to draw attention to the cameras... the longer a burglar is unaware they are being recorded, the more footage I have for the police. But now Google is no longer going to allow you to do this. The light will be glowing whether you want it to or not... all in the name of my "privacy." Well fuck you, Google. The entire reason I bought these cameras is for HOME SECURITY. If you lessen their effectiveness at doing the one job I bought them for, then you're destroying their whole reason for them even being here.
So now I guess that I hope for a class action lawsuit so I can get my money back and buy an entirely different camera system that works the way I want it to... the way it worked when I bought it... instead of the way Google wants it to work.
Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019
One of my favorite shows over the past three years has been Lucifer, which FOX unceremoniously canceled last year. It was unfathomable that such a brilliant, funny, wonderful show didn't attract a massive audience, but that could be true for bunches of shows I love that got chopped.
And then Netflix picked it up for a fourth season and all was well in the world again...
And tonight the ten-episode season dropped and I started binging. Alas, I had to work late so I could start until 9:00pm... but I got five episodes in before 1am!
Such a great show.
Still a great show.
And I can't wait to see where they are going with it.
Thank you, Netflix!
Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019
When the show first debuted in 2017, I was mesmerized. Here, at long last, was the Star Trek I had been longing for since I first saw the original. I have never cared for any of the Next Generation /slash/ Deep Space Nine /slash/ Voyager /slash/ Enterprise shows. Sure they have their moments, but they weren't Star Trek to me. MY Star Trek has always been Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the gang. Everything that followed was a pale imitation.
But Disco changed all that.
This Star Trek was raw... it was different... it was exceptionally well-cast... it was pushing new ideas, just like The Original Series. And that crazy twist! Holy cats! It wasn't just good Star Trek, it was good television!
A lot of people loved it (obviously) but there were oh so many detractors that hated it. "IT'S NOT STAR TREK!" they cried. Except it so totally was. It's just that it wasn't a continuation of the janky NextGen Star Trek... it went back to when Star Trek was good! Both figuratively and literally! Sure I had some gripes (why reinvent the Klingons yet again?) but, for the most part it was everything I could want in a show... PLUS MICHELLE YEOH!
I was definitely ready for more of that. Then cam Season Two...
Captain Pike? The Enterprise? SPOCK?!???
JUST TAKE MY MONEY, CBS PRIME STREAMING!
While I didn't love it as much as the first season, I did thoroughly enjoy it. And the fact that it (kinda) brought back THE Star Trek was a bonus.
And now for some thoughts on Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery (SPOILERS, obviously)...
And that's Star Trek: Discovery Season Two.
I will probably re-watch it in advance of Season Three premiering, but I'm almost positive I'll be re-watching Season One long before that!
Here's to interesting times in Season Three!
AND GIVE US THE PIKE AND SPOCK ENTERPRISE SHOW WE'RE ALL DYING FOR! This is a big part of why Season 2 became the most popular streaming show in the world!
Posted on Friday, May 10th, 2019
The Laser Dome at Pacific Science Center (next to the Space Needle) is the largest and longest operating laser dome in the world. It began as the "Spacerium" theater which was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.
It's been many years since I've seen a show at the Laser Dome (I've been to Laser FLOYD, Laser BOWIE, and Laser BEATLES). But there was no way I was going to miss their latest show... Laser PRINCE!
The first thing I noticed that the show was fuller and more colorful than I remember. After a quick check, I found out that they did an upgrade to their system last January and now have nine lasers. This is "the most full color lasers permanently installed in any Laser Dome in America." It would have been nice if they upgraded the sound as well. While it's not terrible, it's far from great.
The setlist was pretty much what you'd expect. All his most popular singalong hits plus a surprise appearance by Sometimes It Snows In April. All I wanted was my favorite Prince track, Raspberry Beret, which was (fortunately) included. So far as laser shows go, this one was pretty good and we had a great time...
Naturally there was a lot of purple lasers used throughout, until the show closed with Purple Rain. Unfortunately YouTube won't let me embed the audio... but if you've got a browser that can play direct video, you might try this crappy low-quality movie that has the sound still attached...
If you have the opportunity to see Laser PRINCE, and are even a little bit of a fan of his music, I would absolutely go while it's playing. Tickets are $14 now (it was only $10 when I went last!)
After you can go up the Space Needle if you want...
As we'd been up it many, many times, we elected to skip it this time.
And that's all for Laser PRINCE.
Hoping to get Laser PET SHOP BOYS some day.
Posted on Saturday, May 11th, 2019
I'm not home with my cats this Caturday. I'm over the mountains spying on them through the security system.
Though I don't really need to spy on them to know what they are up to. Every day is pretty much the same this time of year...
The catio bug-chasing is a huge deal this time of year. Huge.
Both of them love it, but Jenny obsesses over it. Sometimes she will stay out there past midnight chasing them around...
I feel bad when the bugs aren't out yet, because Jenny is out there alone bravely waiting for them to show up...
Sometimes she'll come in to hang with me... but then five minutes later a bug will hit the window and she's on high alert...
Then she's right back at it again.
Jake goes out to the catio often, but a lot of his bug hunting is attempted through the window...
As I type this it's 4:30pm and I'm not home, which means they are asleep...
Interesting that they both brought a toy to bed. Jenny brought her Dr. Seuss Thing 2 mouse. Jake brought Mufasa (of course)... but he's too big to fit Mufasa in the bed with him (or his foot, apparently).
And I guess that's it for Caturday this week.
Posted on Sunday, May 12th, 2019
2019 has been surprisingly accommodating considering the milestones it's been racking up for me.
First year without my mom. First Valentine's Day with nobody to buy flowers for. First Birthday Weekend celebration without my friend of 33 years. And now, as advertising will not stop reminding me, first Mother's Day with no mother.
I will be the first to admit, that last one is proving to be tough.
For thirteen years my gift to my mom on Mother's Day was a new vacation. We traveled the globe, visited all kinds of amazing places, and had fun doing it. Recently I was going through all the travel books I made for her as a souvenir. Starting with our 2002 trip to Europe right up through our 2014 safari in Zimbabwe.
Initially I created books for her at Apple Books. They were nice enough, but I eventually switched to professional printing because I was unhappy with the photo reproduction. On our first trips, I didn't take many photos though. Just a few snapshots here and there. I took so few photos that I was able to combine the first four Apple Book trips into a single professional book (I used the colors of the cloth covers on the original books as borders)*...
The look of the book was nothing groundbreaking, but the graphic designer in me tried to create stylish introductions at least...
Photo presentation was pretty basic though...
As the years went on, I got a little more ambitious. I was designing nicer, more elaborate looking covers, for one thing...
And adding maps, travel routes, and such...
On later trips I was taking a lot of photos and putting considerably more thought into the the images I was capturing. With this in mind, I started buying "lay-flat" books and adjusting my layouts so photos could be as large as possible. I also tried to tell a story to make the content more interesting...
The final book is my favorite for so many reasons...
Every book was always ended with a photo of the both of us...
For 2015 we were going to take a cruise along the fjords of Norway. 2016 was going to be Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. But those trips weren't to be. I thought she might be well enough in 2015 to take a Spring trip that was less ambitious. I booked flights to South Dakota so I could finally see Mount Rushmore and check the only state I haven't been to off my list (North Dakota). But a couple months before we were to leave I realized there was no way that she would be able to travel. Her confusion was far too great and it wouldn't have been a fun time for either of us. And so that was that.
Mother's Day isn't sad to me because I don't have anybody to buy a card and flowers for... after we started traveling, she never wanted me to spend money on that stuff anyway. It's now a reminder that I've lost a friend who explored the world with me. And while the books, photos, and memories are nice, ain't nothin' going to take the place of that.
*Apple Books was a part of the original iPhoto. You could select photos that you had stored there, then have the program automatically build a book for you. For the time, it was actually pretty cool. They had durable fabric covers with a nifty label stuck on the front...
There were issues though. In addition to the print quality, which was fine but not great, the books were kinda small and the layouts had a lot of wasted space and the pages were all one-sided...
By having my books professionally printed, I paid way, way, way more money... but I got to control the layouts, get superior print quality, and print both sides of the pages.
UPDATE: Interesting to note that Hallmark's prop designer used the same stock photo design for the cover of Santa's Naughty or Nice book that I used for my mom's Italy photo book...
Posted on Monday, May 13th, 2019
My day began at 5:00am when I grabbed my laptop off the nightstand so I could start in on my work emails. Jake, hearing that I was awake, came running in to get his butt scratched, which is fine. What was not fine was when he jumped up to the window perch ten minutes later an immediately began puking up a hairball.
My bad. I apologized to Jake because I went to Seattle for Laser PRINCE instead of grabbing The Furminator and giving him his weekly brushing this week.
Jake was unfazed. He just moved to the other window, pushed Jenny over so he had a place to sit, then went about his business of watching birds fly around..
After catching up on work I got up to clean up the hairball puke only to find that... it was only water? No hairball to be found.
This scares the crap out of me because... A) My cats do not puke often at all... and B) the couple times they have puked and it wasn't a hairball, it was because something was seriously wrong. But Jake didn't seem sick at all, so I made a mental note to keep a careful eye on him for a while.
I tore apart the window perches so I could toss the covers in the wash and noticed that my window sill was filthy. So I ran down to the garage for a scrub brush and bucket only to find that a can in a twelve-pack of Coke had ruptured* while I was gone this weekend. It dripped out of the carton, down the shelf, then spilled out onto the floor.
Where it mixed with the sawdust and formed a gummy syrup that super-glued itself to the cement.
My choices were... A) Leave it and clean up the mess later... or B) Clean it up immediately so ants don't fill up my garage. I opted for the latter because I really don't want ants in my wood shop.
After moving tools and relocating boxes and pulling apart shelves and scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing, I worked up quite a sweat. This made me realize just how badly I needed a haircut... so I grabbed the clippers and went to town on my head. I have started cutting my own hair again because... A) From what I can tell I don't do a half-bad job... and B) I really don't have money to spend at Super-Cuts after getting Jake's vet bill.
By this time it was past 7am and Alexa's alarm had gone off, letting the cats know it's breakfast time.
When I went back into the house Jake and Jenny were very put out that I had dared to allow a haircut to interfere with their breakfast being delivered in a timely manner.
At least whatever was wrong with Jake this morning didn't seem to affect his appetite.
In other news... the bulbs outside my house bloomed while I was away! The ones out front look pretty good...
Whereas the bulbs on the side of the house have already collapsed from their own weight and fallen over...
Irises have to be one of the stupidest flowers. When your design doesn't allow your stem to support the weight of your flowers... how are you not extinct? Oh well. I guess they're pretty while they last.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to put the window perch covers in the dryer and get ready for work.
It's a Monday, after all.
*I couldn't even figure out where the can had ruptured. They are so darn thin any more that you can barely hold onto them without crushing the can. I'm not surprised that cans are leaking at random... any thinner and soda cans will just explode when they feel like it.
Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
So... apparently we're headed towards war with Iran.
I wonder if all the people screaming "YEAH! BOMB IRAN BACK TO THE STONE AGE! MAGA!!" understand that war doesn't work like that anymore. Superior military strength does not insure a victory because advanced technologies are so cheap and readily available. Technology has changed the face of small-scale warfare, given rise to mass-scale terrorism, and redefined what it means to "win" a war.
I have no clue what our Commander in Chief thinks winning a war looks like. My guess is he is he pictures bombing raids obliterating Iranian cities as our soldiers raise the American flag over Tehran. Or maybe his "victory scenario" is distracting Americans from all the heinous shit he's been doing, and bombing a foreign nation is incidental? That's certainly a thought that's entered his head...
But who can say? Even when he attempts to explain his "thinking," it comes out as incomprehensible gibberish, so I honestly don't think anybody can say what his end-game is.
But here's the deal. Even if we manage to obliterate the bulk of Iran's ability to make war and establish a massive military presence in the country, we haven't "won." All we will have done is galvanize terrorists around the globe and create substantially more committed enemies for generations to come. Even worse, if the war is handled badly (it will be, given who is in charge of it) and innocent civilian casualties are huge, we're certain to lose even more of our allies as well. And what happens after we leave? We put some US-approved puppet leader into power who will have no ability whatsoever to fix a broken country, there's a coup out of desperation, and somebody with an even bigger hatred of the USA can come into power... this time with nothing to lose and a philosophy that no risk is too great to do harm to America.
There is no way this ends well for the United States of America. None.
Because Iran is not a technological backwater. Because terrorism isn't centralized. Because biological warfare is easy. Because powerful drones are smaller than ever and can deliver increasingly lethal payloads. Because American citizens travel outside of America and are easy targets. Because US allies are within striking distance. Because there are US interests outside of the USA. Because there are many, many ways into this country. Because a wall will do very little to deter a terrorist or stop a drone. Because you don't even have to have a military to reign terror and destruction upon the most powerful of nations now. Because... because... BECAUSE... this is the world we live in.
Yes, Iran is most definitely a threat. This is nothing new. There are many countries who are a clear and present danger to the United States of America, and they have been for decades (hey, we're "allies" with some of them!). And while war may have been a viable solution to deal with them in the past, there's no way that's true today. Most sane people realize this. Which is why the world put so much effort into the Iran Nuclear Deal. Was it perfect? No. Did it move us away from nuclear annihilation for a little while longer? All indications pointed to yes (despite what President Trump and his propaganda organization at Fox News say). Are there ways to work with Iran so that setting the world on fire is not a desirable course of action for them to take? Well, history has shown that there probably is. But so long as we have an incompetent 2-year-old with anger issues in The White House who won't listen to the people who know how to handle these things, what difference does it make?
The reason that war is a last-ditch effort is because it has to be.
Today more than ever.
Unfortunately the decision as to whether or not we go to war rests with the same person who thinks 1970 economic practices can be applied to the global economy that exists in 2019 (which is why we're embracing socialism by spending billions that we'll borrow from China to give to farmers who can no longer sell their goods to China).
I cannot fathom how this country will ever recover from the massive damage that is being inflicted on just about every possible front by our current government. Not just the president, but the dysfunction of the entirety of our government.
Assuming we can ever recover at all.
War with Iran would just be one more nail in the coffin of the country we are now. We will have to become something entirely different if the USA is to go on existing. Given where we're at now, I can't help but think that this might be a good thing.
Posted on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Can I please just have a day off from this insanity?
Every time some heinous new political bombshell drops, my brain explodes and I have to pull my head back together so I can get through another day. Whether it's idiot politicians being idiots, ignorant people being ignorant, or the nonsensical being presented as common sense... it seems every single day is another assault on my sanity, and it's getting harder and harder to pull myself through it.
As I've said many times, I do not support abortion outside of special circumstances. But that's my personal belief. This being AMERICA and all, everybody gets to live by their beliefs and for their conscience. I fully, unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. President Clinton said that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare"... and that pretty much sums it up for me. But in order for abortion to be rare, people must be educated and have free and easy access to birth control. Until that happens, our society endorses "abortion as birth control," and the people who are strongest against abortion seem to be the people most responsible for it. Their only solution is to just make it illegal... problem solved.
Except not really. Because banning abortion isn't going to stop abortion! The collapse in logic here is mind-boggling. No way to get a safe, controlled abortion? Oh, okay... bring on the coat hangers and back-alleys. Then some 12-year-old pregnant rape victim ends up dead because her parents didn't want her childhood (and possibly her entire life) ruined, so they risked an at-home procedure that went terribly wrong. THAT's what constitutes being pro-life?!? Who in the hell are these sadist pieces of shit running Alabama?
Meanwhile, all these politicians and their wealthy backers will STILL have access to safe abortions and suffer absolutely no consequences because of it. As always, the law only applies to poor people.
How the fuck do I get off this planet?
If only I had a portal guns from Rick and Morty. Which, by the way, is finally coming back this November...
Isn't it sad when the best thing you've heard out of the news all day is that a cartoon is returning?
Welcome to life in these United States.
Or on this earth, really.
Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019
My favorite cuisine by a wide margin is Italian. So many vegetarian dishes, and almost all of them are amazing. From pasta to pizza, I could eat Italian day after day and never grow tired of it.
Until I actually eat Italian day after day and grow tired of it.
Several months ago I became obsessed with developing the perfect Cacio e Pepe recipe. Italian for "Cheese and Pepper," this is the Official Pasta Dish of The City of Rome and I've been hooked on it since I first had it there back in 2000. It's a deceptively simple dish because it has only three ingredients... pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly ground pepper. But, in reality, it's tough to get it right.
The first mistake I made was following recipes from popular cooking sites that added all kinds of extra ingredients like butter, cream, or cheeses other than Pecorino Romano. I'd try recipe after recipe and get frustrated because it tasted nothing like what I had experienced in Rome. Eventually I found out why... just like with "Americanized" Fettuccine Alfredo, we fuck it up by adding extra shit that ruins the intended taste.
The second mistake I made was using spaghetti noodles. This is actually not terrible... I've eaten it in Rome made with spaghetti noodles. But, unlike an Italian chef, I cannot get consistent results. What you want are tonnarelli noodles, which are essentially "spaghetti alla chimaera" or "square spaghetti." Since tonnarelli doesn't have the edges rounded off, the noodle has more heft and doesn't cool quite as quickly. This pasta can be difficult to find in smaller markets, which is why I almost always end up using linguine (No. 7) noodles, and they work perfectly.
The third mistake I made was not using fine enough grate on my cheese. You must use the finest grate you have... the cheese should be almost a powder, not shreds.
The fourth mistake I made was not so much a mistake as it was a lesson. I was using plain old peppercorns right from the jar. Ideally you want the larger sized peppercorns (called tellichery) that you toast fresh before grinding. The larger peppercorns are less spicy, but more aromatic, and giving them a toasting before use helps bring out the flavor.
Once all that is handled correctly, you've pretty much won the battle.
After dropping my pasta into water which has come to a full-boil (a little salt is fine, but no oil) I blend the finely grated Pecorino Romano with a little bit of ice water to form a paste.
When the pasta is almost done being cooked to al dente (7 minutes for me), you take some of the hot, hot, boiling-hot pasta water and mix it with the above paste until you get a creamy sauce. The starch from the pasta water along with the heat has weird emulsive properties and you absolutely DO NOT need to add cream.
From there I wait for the pasta to finish cooking properly (an additional 2 minutes or 9 minutes total for me), then quickly drain, toss with the cheese sauce, add freshly-ground pepper (a bit coarse is better), then top with shredded cheese (shredded on top is fine... inside you want it almost powdered).
I like a lot of cheese on my pasta. Like, a lot of cheese. Pecorino Romano has more of a punch to it than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so using a lot of it can be a bit overwhelming. In recent years I've taken to making the same recipe as above, but substituting the Parmigiano-Reggiano so I can use extra and maintain the flavor profile I'm looking for. I also like my Cacio e Pepe to be a bit on the dry-side (too wet and it doesn't stick as easily to the noodles) so I use less pasta water than what is authentic.
After finally getting the perfect recipe, I found that I had been eating so much of it that I was sick of the stuff. Then last night I was suddenly craving it again, and this was the result...
Delicious. Except... there's at least 150 fat calories and 50g of carbs right there.
This is not a healthy dish.But it is tasty. My all-time favorite pasta, as a matter of fact (a close second is Fettuccine Alfredo, which can be constructed similarly to the above, except you use thinly-shaved egg noodles instead of tonnarelli and butter instead of pasta water).
Boy... it's going to take a lot of will-power to not have this for dinner again tonight.
Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019
I am currently on my third round of decluttering my life at home. I'm trying to leave as little to deal with as I can once I'm dead, and donating or trashing a lifetime of possessions is how I'm doing it.
One area I haven't worked on cleaning out is my office at work. But I'm having to make room for some new equipment, so I've been forced to go through decades of "stuff" to see what I can live without. I'm always worried to throw things out in case I need them one day, so this has been a massive ordeal. I've got junk piled everywhere!
Back in the late 80's and early 90's I had transitioned my music to CDs (compact discs), leaving me with loads of music on cassette tape that was just sitting in a box. Eventually I bought a small cassette player for my office so I could play them when I was working late or on weekends. The player died probably 25 years ago, but this morning I found the box of tapes...
And you know what's weird?
This is pretty much the same music I'm listening to today!
Adam and the Ants, Bowie, Prince, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys... same music, different decade!
Now it's a matter of going through everything to make sure I have a copy of it digitally. If not, I'll have to see if I can convert it. But how? Do they even sell cassette players any more?
Hope that yellow Walkman I found still works!
Posted on Saturday, May 18th, 2019
I rescued Jake and Jenny to keep my mom company while I was away at work. As her dementia progressed, being alone was not easy for her. I remembered how much she liked Spanky hanging around at her old place and thought kittens would help. But they were feral rescues and spent most of their time hiding under the couch instead. Eventually, they got used to mom being around and were happy to hang out with her. It took another couple weeks before they trusted me.
On Mother's Day I talked about the books I made as souvenirs of our travels. Yesterday I found photos of my mom actually looking at those books.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom didn't seem to notice that Jake was there at first...
Once she did notice, she says "Hey..."
Then... "Don't you chew on my book!"...
And Jake's like, "Well, shit!"...
A heartbreaking, awful time made so much better because of cats. I still don't know how I would have made it through without them.
Earlier this week I was just about to fall asleep when I heard something plastic fall to the floor downstairs. Then I heard the cats batting it around. I am generally very careful about not leaving out anything dangerous, but decided to check the security cameras anyway, just in case. I couldn't tell what they had, but I was certain it was something harmless, so I figured I'd look for it in the morning.
Turns out it's a pencil sharpener.
A pencil sharpener shaped like a nose that a friend gave me along with colored pencils and a Vanderpump Rules coloring book for my birthday...
I put it back next to my pencil cup and forgot about it.
Until Thursday morning when I woke up and found it on my bedroom floor...
A quick check of my security cameras and, yep, Jake dragged it up the stairs at 2:17am...
No idea how he managed to carry it up the stairs, but he did. No idea why he thought I needed a pencil sharpener, but he did. Maybe he just likes bringing me stuff. He does that a lot.
Speaking of Jake.
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, he has not been the same since falling down the stairwell and spraining his leg. I mean, personality-wise, he's the same... but behaviorally he's changed. He's clingy now. Any time I'm home, he's on me. Literally...
For a while he was sleeping on my bed with me, but he seems to have moved on these last couple of nights, so maybe he's healing? How long is a cat's traumatic memory anyway?
Still likes to nap next to me while I work though. Yesterday I thought something was wrong with him because he was sleeping funny.
For reference, this is how Jake usually sleeps...
Awww... who can resist that fuzzy belly...
He was sleeping abnormally like this...
I was genuinely worried. But then he went back to normal...
There we go!
And don't worry about Jenny. She still gets her share of belly rubs too...
Until next Caturday...
Posted on Sunday, May 19th, 2019
Who cares who sits on The Iron Throne... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• No Spoilers! Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion. Game of Thrones was HBO's most popular show of all time. You just know that money was not an issue when it came to wrapping things up. But apparently David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were tired of their show and wanted to move on, so they just hacked together some of the most mundane and lazy storytelling they could muster, crammed it into six episodes, and called it good. You'd think if they were tired and wanted to move on they would hand the show off to somebody who gives a shit, but no. This is what we got. I'll wait a week before posting my thoughts so as not to spoil things for any latecomers, but dang. Lame.
• Keanu! I know more than a few people working in Hollywood. Not one of them has ever had anything but nice words to say about Keanu Reeves. He's a kind, generous soul and everybody loves working with him. On top of that he has a self-realized wisdom that makes me happy for his every success...
John Wick: Chapter 3 was pretty kick-ass. Can't wait for Chapter 4.
• Represent! When stars like Brie Larson say they are using their celebrity to insist on a more diverse, inclusive group of interviewers, they get attacked by people wanting to keep the status quo of the same voices. I find this absurd. Making room for more is not taking away from who's there now. It's making room for more. And here's the incomparable Halle Berry walking the walk and doing her part...
How can anybody watch this and think anybody is losing here? More people winning doesn't equate to more people are losing, and it's shitty that this attitude continues to be our default. Make room at the table... your dinner party will only get more interesting.
• Again. HEADLINE: Trump Tries to Win Over Midwest Farmers with Socialist Promises. Because socialism is bad when it comes to keeping people healthy or fed or housed... but good when it's used as pathetic compensation to keep your base happy due to your complete failure to understand how global trade works in the year 2019.
• Hypocrisy in Action! HEADLINE: Anti-abortion Rep. Tim Murphy resigns after report he asked lover to end pregnancy...
Make no mistake... NONE... that wealthy politicians will ALWAYS have access to safe abortions for their mistresses and family. For everybody else? Wire hangers and back alleys, baby. This hypocritical bullshit disgusts me to my core.
• Evolution! Ummm...
It's only a matter of time before they go all Plant of the Apes on our asses.
And, on that apocalyptic note, see you next Sunday!
Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019
There are times... not many, but enough... that I think I have my life together. Then I get smacked in the back of the head by reality and realize that I'm about as close to having my life together as I am to walking on the moon.
Not that I'm discouraged or depressed about it though. I'm most definitely not. I'm doing the best I can to keep my head above water (and mostly succeeding) so what else is there? Nothing. And I'm content with that. Perhaps one day I won't be, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Last night I had cashews and crackers for dinner. It was my fallback plan after the frozen pizza I bought was essentially inedible and I could only get through two slices.
Jake, as he does any time I have food, was curious to see what I was eating. Or, to be more accurate, curious to smell what I was eating. Very rarely does he try to actually taste any of it though...
Probably because a boring-ass cracker doesn't even smell like food to him.
Or to me.
I don't know why I continue to buy frozen pizza. It's always bad. But every time there's a new brand that pops up, I roll the dice anyway. This time it was another variation on the "Rising Crust" type pizza. The crust is okay, I guess, but the sauce is pretty weak and the cheese is rubber. I'd throw it out, but the thing cost me $5... so... bad pizza for breakfast... and bad pizza for lunch today.
I have got to save up money for pizza steels so I can work on my own recipe.
Until then? Crackers it is, I guess.
Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019
Today is my final charity trip of the Spring!
Thanks to the Trump Government Shutdown, nobody from our group was allowed to make travel plans for the first three months of the year. The concern was that we might end up trapped away from home (and our paying jobs). So instead of having seven trips over twenty weeks, I ended up having to make up for lost time and cram five trips into eight weeks. This was more difficult than I anticipated, but you do what you gotta do.
San Diego travel is almost always a "day trip" for me where I essentially fly down for a critical one hour meeting, then just fly back home. But first I actually have to get to San Diego.
I left home at 6am so I could make my way over the mountains, which are packed with deer on the roads this time of year...
It's not a big deal if you are careful with your speed and stay alert*, but there are always assholes who do neither. When I slowed to let the deer in the above photo cross, a truck behind me had to slam on the brakes to avoid smashing into my rear end. If he had trouble seeing a big blue car, a small brown deer probably would have been roadkill.
I counted nine deer on my way over, which means there were at least that many that I missed.
By far the most dangerous thing on the road this trip was not a deer, but a motorcycle.
Having been a motorcyclist, I can tell you that riding on the highway is pretty much taking your life in your own hands. You have to be on high alert every single minute, because drivers don't pay attention. With this in mind, I was a very cautious rider and still almost ended up plowed into on several occasions.
And then there are riders who decide that highways aren't nearly dangerous enough, and decide to ride stupid.
As I was approaching the left-lane exit for I-5, a rider weaving in and out of traffic cut me off twice. And here he is directly after my close call cutting in front of other drivers... one of whom was just trying to get the hell out of the maniac's way, even though they needed to be in the left lane to exit...
This is phenomenally stupid. Not only did I almost hit him, but two other cars nearly did the same. Which begs the question... what was so damn urgent and important that this rider decided to risk an accident (and possibly his life) to get to?
I probably don't want to know, because it was likely something stupid... like making it to work with enough time for a Starbucks.
Despite this guy's best efforts, I'm here at the airport awaiting my flight, so I guess I'll just count my blessings that nobody died and hope the rest of my trip goes better than this.
*As in stay seriously alert. Sometimes the deer are really difficult to spot, and can dash out onto the road at any moment...
If you are traveling in the mountains (especially this time of year), might want to drive like a deer's life depended on it.
Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019
Landed at 1:30 yesterday, was done with work by 3:30, and in my San Diego hotel room chillin' by 4:00. Usually I would just fly back the same day, but since I started bypassing the toxic waste dump that is SeaTac International Airport and flying out of Everett Paine Field, my flight back doesn't leave until tomorrow at 2:20pm (unless I wanted to fly home at 7:45am, which I did not).
With time to kill, I met up with San Diego friends for dinner. Which was awesome.
Then we went out for dessert at Extraordinary Desserts. Which was extraordinary...
I had the "Shangri-La" cake, which was described like this: "White chocolate mousse along with guava mousse and fresh strawberries are layered in between whipped cream and Kirsch infused vanilla cakes. Every girl loves this cake." And yet... I was secure enough in my masculinity to order it because I really wanted something strawberry. It's pretty enough to eat...
Delicious. And that's 24K gold leaf on the strawberry, which is great because I've always wanted my poop to be gold-plated.
As I've mentioned a few times, Jake has been really clingy after his accident, and this is the first time I've left him overnight since it happened. I checked in on him several times to make sure he's doing okay. After spending most of the morning looking for me, he took a long nap right in the middle of my messy bed...
Before I knew it, time had flown and it was time for me to be flown home...
My trip back over the mountains was much less eventful than the drive over, thankfully.
And that was the end of that.
My cats were happy to have me home... especially Jake, who wouldn't leave my side, which was kinda sweet at 10pm...
But kinda scary at 1am...
Probably not great that I decided to take his picture with the flash on. Because, damn. If looks could kill...
And on that ominous note, enough work for the day... time for bed.
Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2019
I used to watch Project Runway from time to time... not because I'm big into fashion but because I love Tim Gunn. When Gunn and Heidi Klum left after last season in favor of a yet-unknown project for Amazon, I stopped watching. Sure the creativity is fun, but not so much a draw that I want to spend my time watching without Tim.
I'm just not that into fashion.
Which would be clear to you if you've ever seen how I dress myself.
And yet... when it comes to obsessing over a fashion icon, I'm perfectly qualified. And right now the icon I'm obsessing over is Gemma Chan. I've seen her in a few things (including Humans), but it wasn't until her entrance into Crazy Rich Asians that I saw her as the epitome of class and glamor she is...
Hands down one of the best entrances in a movie ever.
But thinking that Gemma Chan can't be fashionable outside of the movies would be a mistake. She's stunning all the time everywhere and is always fashionable...
Image by Getty Images
Image by Hew Hood for Esquire Singapore
Image by David M. Benett / Getty Images
Image by Getty Images
Heck, she even looks amazing blue in her role for Captain Marvel...
Here's hoping we see a lot more of Ms. Chan before China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems start shooting back-to-back next year.
Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019
I've mentioned a couple times that I had worked on a comic book project decades ago. I made a lot of headway, but never completed it. The final page count was going to be in excess of 300 pages, and I just didn't have the time to commit to it.
Every once in a while I run across the 50-odd partial pages I drew and wonder what it would take to just finish the dang thing. The problem is that I would have to essentially start over from scratch because I created it in the 80's and it's hilariously outdated. The lead character has a car phone the size of a brick, and there's just no way I can go back and rewrite and redraw those parts. The entire story has to be revisited, because it won't work as a period piece.
But... 300+ pages of work.
Tonight I decided to draw/letter/ink a page of comic book art just to see how long it would take. Here's what I'm guessing is my pace...
I don't even want to think about how much time coloring would take. Possibly as long as 6 hours a page. So I'll put that on hold.
So... 5-1/2 to 8-1/2 hours per page.
Which means 1,760 to 2,720 hours if I can squeeze the story into 320 pages. Assuming I can work 4 hours weekdays and 16 hours on weekends... that's 36 hours a week. Or about 50 to 75 weeks to finish 320 pages.
A little over a year, I'm guessing.
Problem is that this would leave little time for anything else in my life. Like woodworking, which is my favorite thing right now.
So that's when I had an idea...
Maybe I take a character from the story, write a back-story series for them, and limit it to 100 pages or less so I can finish it in a year.
Worth a shot anyway. Maybe.
Posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2019
Jake has taken up golfing!
Well, not really. But he has taken up playing with a golf ball I found by the railroad tracks (don't worry, I ran it with at least 10 loads of clothes in the washer to make sure it's safe to play with).
When I brought it home, neither he nor Jenny wasn't the least bit interested. Then early, early this morning I heard a golf bar drop and roll across my bedroom floor (it was dark, so I couldn't see it, but there's no mistaking the sound a golf ball rolling on a wood floor makes)...
Jake jumped on my bed right after letting it drop, so I knew it was him... but how?
Turns out he can fit an entire golf ball in his mouth...
I would have never thought it was possible, but there's the proof.
Just one more thing he can bring upstairs like he does every day. Though now he's putting it behind the bed, which is nice of him. Less to step on when I wake up in the morning...
In Jenny news... she can open doors now. Only doors that slide (for now) like pocket doors and closet doors, but she's figured out how to poke-poke-poke her little paw at the crack until she can work it open. Another thing I didn't think were possible until I sat here last night and watched her do it...
At least now I know that it's not me leaving all the doors open in this place.
Until next Caturday...
Posted on Sunday, May 26th, 2019
It's a fine day in Westeros... because a special Game of Thrones edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
As I mentioned last week, I thought that the series finale of Game of Thrones was "Seven years of complex characters and world-building tossed away for a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion." And further thought on the matter hasn't changed my mind. The series showed exceptional moments of brilliance for years, then fell apart... badly... in the final act.
So let's talk about that, shall we?
BUT BEFORE YOU PROCEED, A WARNING... I am spoiling everything, so if you have any interest whatsoever in the show and may want to watch it one day, better get on that before proceeding.
Alrighty then. Final warning... because spoilers abound.
I don't know what I expected in the final season, but it sure wasn't this mess. A friend on Facebook called it "...a boring wet fart of an ending," and that kinda sums it up for me. So much time, patience, and care taken to set things up and then... poof... nuthin.
No final showdown between Cersei and Arya. No payoff to Bran's whole three-eyed-raven ordeal. A rushed, shoe-horned, sub-par conclusion to the Night King drama. Characters shoved aside, discarded, then shit on. It just goes on and on.
Right up until the very end I was hoping that something... anything would materialize to salvage this awful season. In the week before Episode 6 I remember thinking... "Say! Maybe the first five episodes didn't happen and it's just Bran looking into the future to see how things turn out? Maybe we'll come back and find that he has decided that Cersei should get the throne because her unborn child will one day bring the lasting peace and prosperity that The Seven Kingdoms so desperately needs? Yeah. Maybe that's how it will go!" But, of course, that was just too much to hope for.
Since the entire show was made powerful by its characters, I've decided to present my thoughts on Season 8 along those lines. So without further ado...
• Tyrion. The smartest character in the show had some pretty dumb moments in Season 8, but remained the smartest character on the show when it came to taking out Dany and laying out the future of Westeros at the end. But I can honestly say that the reason I was okay with how his character closed out the series was not because of how the character was written, it was entirely because of how Peter Dinklage performed the material. I was a huge fan long before Game of Thrones came along, and to see him in a role that will get him the recognition he deserves is the most satisfying thing to come out of this season (or any season, really). If he is not winning all the awards this year, it will be a horrendous injustice.
• Bran. He spent years developing amazing abilities that one assumed would all be leading to something. But they were completely ignored. At the battle with the Night King he warged into ravens and flew around surveying the fighting, but nothing was done with the information, essentially making him a VCR recording events. I kept waiting for him to warg into Drogon and stop the madness of Dany’s brutal attack on King’s Landing, but it never happened. That being said, I certainly wasn’t upset with him becoming king... not just because of all the reasons Tyrion laid out... but because he was one of the least horrible characters left.
• Arya. By far my favorite character on the show, Arya was given years of training and a mission. When she killed the Night King and saved the world, it wasn’t so she could be a hero, it was because the Night King was the way of her revenge. So what happens when she finally gets the opportunity? She is scared away by bricks falling out of a wall. This has to be the most inexcusably, lame, shitty example of lazy character abandonment that I’ve ever seen. Her decision to see what’s “West of Westeros” at the end was about the only sensible thing left for her after she was discarded from the show in such a stupid manner. And don’t even get me started on her being unfulfilled as a character until she slept with Gendry. Really? No women in the writer’s room when this was thought up?
• Sansa. Wants The North to be a separate kingdom she can rule because the Men of the North have kneeled enough and should never be made to kneel again. Then has all the Men and Women of The North kneel as she takes the throne? Sure. Okay. Whatever. I actually liked the way that Sansa’s character progressed. She endured great hardship to become smarter and stronger, ultimately going from naive window dressing to a wise and crafty ruler for her people. I wouldn’t have minded if she ended up on The Iron Throne, but never thought it felt like her destiny. Personally, I was hoping that she would make some kind of great sacrifice in the final season. She somehow gives her life so the people of Westeros could live. That kind of thing. But having the consolation prize of her own independent kingdom is okay, I guess. Seems a bit silly though. If Sansa gets her own kingdom, then why not all the other houses too? The North sacrificed the most in the war against the Night King that they get special treatment? I dunno. Sounds like a forced happy ending so the three remaining Stark kids get happy endings. Lame.
• Jon. Of all the Stark’s, I found Jon’s ending to be the most satisfying. Especially since he was reunited with Ghost at the end (though why the direwolf would want anything to do with him after being so callously discarded earlier is beyond me). Ultimately he pretty much got what he deserved. That he ignored his banishment to the Night Watch to live beyond the wall with his Wildling friends is a curious decision, as that was part of the agreement that kept Grey Worm from obliterating as much as Westeros as he could manage. Wanna bet he also ignores the mandate that he doesn’t marry or father children? Here’s hoping that Grey Worm doesn’t care about keeping up with events across the Narrow Sea, or Bran’s rule may be a short one.
• Daenerys. There are those who say that anybody who didn’t see her complete collapse into madness and violence coming wasn’t paying attention. I could not disagree more. Yes, she was ruthless TO HER ENEMIES and became a cold and calculating ruler... but she pretty much had to be to get out of the situation she was in. And I get that aspect of her character. But to brutally murder the innocent people of King’s Landing in the most gruesome way possible? Really? That goes against everything she was shown to be working towards for seven seasons. And then to twist is at the very end and make her seem like she was PMS bat-shit crazy with her ranting about how Cersei made her kill all those people... after they had clearly surrendered? How many women were in the writer’s room for that nonsense? I never wanted Dany on the Iron Throne. But to have her character be abandoned and shit on like this after giving her the strength to escape from a horrible beginning? Shameful. Not that she would have been a great leader after how stupid they made her. Seriously? No advanced scouts to see what's happening at Dragonstone before you march your entire army back? She deserved to lose yet another dragon and have her army beat to shit for that bit of dumbassery. At least she learned how to fly low then high then low then high to avoid the scorpion crossbows for the rematch, so she's not a total dumbass. But still a pretty big one.
• Drogon. So... smart enough to melt the Iron Throne in a “If mommy can’t have it, nobody can” kinda way... but not smart enough to figure out what happened and avenge her death? Did he think that the Iron Throne stabbed her? Okay then. Still pissed that Bran never got to warg into Drogon (how awesome would that have been?) but it’s implied that may yet happen... COMPLETELY OFF-SCREEN! Blergh.
• Cersei. I read somewhere that Lena Headly got paid $1 million per episode for Season 8. Then they took her character... one of the most complex, tragic, powerful, and systematically evil to ever grace a television screen... and had her stare out a fucking window. Then, as if that weren’t insult enough, they discarded her as an idiot and spineless moron who got buried by rocks. One of the most wasted opportunities of the show. I wanted my showdown between Arya and Cersei where she would have at least gotten some juicy material to go out on.
• Jaime. Why didn’t they just kill him off in Season 7? He was completely and totally wasted in Season 8.
• Brienne. Good Lord. One of the most badass women characters on the show, and yet she suffered the same pathetic fate as all the other badass women on the show... discarded. One minute she’s a brave and fearless knight who is the very definition of a character defying stereotypes... then the next minute she’s a sobbing wreck of an abandoned girlfriend who lost her virginity to a love she could never have. Seriously. Not ONE woman in the writer’s room for this garbage? I guess they thought tossing her a bone as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard would make fans happy. But could fans of her character ever be happy with how things turned out for her? Not even if they made her Queen. Pathetic.
• Tormund. An interesting character with so many possibilities ultimately relegated to background material for Jon Snow to be an idiot. Great. Just great. I know I’m not the only one who hoped that he would end up with The Large Woman. What’s so cool is that they didn’t make him an obsessive weirdo about it though. He wanted to be with Brienne, she didn’t reciprocate, he and his broken heart moved on. You know, like a sane person.
• Melisandre. One of the few women who actually got a satisfying conclusion, her exit from the show was everything you could possibly want. The job she was preparing to take on for centuries was done, what else was there? Free from the dictates of the Lord of Light at last.
• Samwell. To make him such a key background player for so long only to have him be shoved aside after revealing Jon’s lineage seemed like such an inexplicable move. That was what his entire arc was leading to this whole time? That’s it? I mean, sure, as the last remaining Tarly he gets that house, but there’s nothing to indicate he’s going to be remotely competent as a leader. On the contrary, his bumbling and misplaced compassion will probably just lead to even further ruin. Like so many other characters, Samwell was thrown (throne?) a bone that makes no sense at all.
• Gendry. The guy I ultimately wanted to sit on the Iron Throne because I always thought he was the most deserving of it. I guess giving him the lordship of Storm’s End was a nice consolation prize... but the pining after Arya was a silly-ass thing to inject into the character.
• Missandei. One could argue that Missandei was what kept Dany’s sanity in check, and losing her was the last straw leading to madness, but that’s a huge disservice to both characters. Okay, characters needed to die to illustrate that war isn’t pretty. I get that. And so far as deaths go on Game of Thrones, she got a pretty good one. But was she always nothing more than a fucking grenade pin to the writers after all these years? Once again, where were the women writers on this fucking show?
• Grey Worm. His character may have been disappointing, but at least he was consistent right to the end. But then everything changed. It’s as if the writers suddenly realized that there were all these Unsullied and Dothraki hanging around on Westeros, and didn’t know what to do with them. Packing up their shit and headed back to Essos was always in the cards, but it’s as if no real thought went into how that might happen. If you asked me what would happen to Grey Worm in Season 7, I’d tell you that after the war he returns to Essos with Missandei and becomes a great and just ruler for his people. But after Season 8 where he became a psychopath who was “just acting on orders?” I hope to God when he gets back home that there’s a better alternative than him to run things. I mean, holy shit!
• Lyanna Mormont. Of all the characters on the show, this right here is the one that really put my love for all things Game of Thrones over the top. As the ruler of Bear Island, she was wise and brave beyond her years, which was a lot of fun to watch. I actually think her death in the Battle of Winterfell was pretty good, but boy oh boy would I have loved to have her be at that final council to determine the future of Westeros!
• Davos. The best smuggler of the Seven Realms became Master of Ships. Alrighty then.
• Theon. He went out a hero buying Arya enough time to arrive and save the world, so what more could you ask? His life was pretty much at a dead-end and he knew it. That he decided to bravely be where he was most needed even though it was a suicide mission ties up his redemption arc in exactly the right way.
• Euron. Make no mistake... I wanted the asshole dead... but how about in a way that made any sense at all? One minute he’s fighting on the water out in the middle of nowhere, then he unleashes hereunto unknown Aquaman-like swimming powers to make it to shore for a lame battle with Ser Jaime. Hardly the brutal end he deserved.
• Yara. Gets to be queen of the Iron Islands after every man in the way was killed off for her. I’m not saying she didn’t earn it... on the contrary, she was clearly the best person for the job... but once again we have this inexplicable decision to take strong female characters and discard them. How fucking hard is it to let strong female characters keep being strong female characters? How much more satisfying would it have been... how fucking easy would it have been... to establish that some asshole pretender to the throne was in power, and Yara was heading back to the Iron Islands to take the throne she deserves and have that be her final scene? Not one woman writer in the room to suggest sending her off in a way that befit the character? Not one?
• The Hound & The Mountain. They went out the only way they really could have, really. About the only deaths on the show that made total sense to me.
• Podrick. At least Ser Pod got to be a knight. A knight responsible for pushing King Bran the Broken’s wheelchair, but still a knight. I guess.
• Lord Varys. Let’s face it... his death was merely regret fodder for Tyrion and nothing more. And that’s okay. Some characters are there merely to serve as building blocks for other characters. And they gave him a pretty cool “death by dragonfire” exit, so I can’t complain too much.
• Bronn. Apparently got the lordship he was promised... but was also inexplicably made Master of Coin? WTF?!? Oh well. At least we know that the brothels of King’s Landing will be operational in record time.
• Royce and Edmure. Kind of a pointless characters to keep around until the end, but I guess it’s not entirely unexpected that some would make it just because they weren’t worth killing off. Seeing Edmure make a fool of himself at the end-council was kinda satisfying, I suppose.
• Robin Arryn. It took me a minute to figure out that the young guy at the council was, in fact, that creepy kid that was still breastfeeding at 13 years old (or whatever) ages ago. Apparently momma’s milk does a body good, because he actually looked quasi-normal here.
• Beric. I loved the character with his many lives and his flaming sword. And while I was sad to see him go, I thought his end was actually pretty great. Melisandre said he had served his purpose (to save Arya so she could save the world), and that’s as good as it gets.
And that, dear Game of Bullets readers, is the end of that.
UPDATE: This video does a great job of getting into why the ending for Game of Thrones is so unsatisfying. Worth a watch...
Posted on Monday, May 27th, 2019
I am trying to not let the current state of this country taint what is supposed to be a remembrance of those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country... but it's hard not to.
I keep saying that it is impossible for me to be more disgusted by the grotesque mockery of a government we ended up with, but then a new day dawns.
I never made it out to the cemetery to make sure that my mom got a flag on her grave... really need to remember to do that for next year.
Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2019
Today was the last day to redeem coupons from Safeway's "Monopoly Shop Play Win" game. Whenever I was asked if I am playing, I always said "yes" even though I never played the actual game. I just wanted the free stuff and discounts from the coupons you get in the game piece tickets.*
And so... against my better judgement... I drove the 20 minutes to Safeway to claim my booty...
A part of me was just going to skip the trip because I did not feel like going grocery shopping after the tough day I had... but... free stuff.
And call me crazy, but the prize I was most excited about getting was not the $10 in gift cards... it was the free bagels.
When it comes to bagels, I always buy the packages of Franz bagels when they go on sale for around $2.50. They are perfectly serviceable and delicious bagels, and I buy extra so I can freeze them for times there are no sales going.
But the bagel I crave is the Ultimate Cheddar Cheese bagel from the Safeway bakery. Not as good as an Asiago Cheese bagel, but I do love them so very, very much. Problem is, they are almost as expensive as four Franz bagels on sale, so I rarely have the opportunity to buy them. And here I am getting four of them for free!
There was no way I was passing up on that!
It was close enough to payday that I could buy my monthly groceries as well. Which goes something like this... 1) Is it on sale or do I get "Just 4U" club card savings? And 2) Is it something I will eat or want to try? If the answer to both of those are "yes" then it goes in my shopping cart. These days I don't buy anything that's not on sale... unless an emergency dictates otherwise (hey, sometimes you have to buy toilet paper, even if it's not on sale).
At the bottom of the receipt Safeway always tells you how much money you saved and I average 20%-30%. Today, thanks to Monopoly coupons, I reached 38%. That's pretty great. Though I should have cashed in all my free stuff on a separate transaction so I could have reached 100% savings. Then I could have framed the receipt.
And now, if you'll excuse me, it's double Ultimate Cheddar Cheese bagels for dinner up in here...
*The grand prize is something like $250 million, so I probably should play the main game... but it's such a huge amount of work with all those little pieces, and I never even got a game board to stick them on.
Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019
And so I nearly died again.
I cross two crosswalks on my way to work. Once when my sidewalk runs out. And then I cross back after the walk resumes on the side of the street I want to be on. At the first crosswalk a woman in a giant SUV came so close to hitting me this morning that I felt the air move. I honestly thought she was stopping and barely managed to get out of the way.
THEN, as I was approaching the second crosswalk, I saw a man and his little girl waiting to cross. THREE CARS blew by without stopping. And since this is near a school, there is a signal you can press to have blinking lights flash on the "crossing sign." SO THERE WERE FLASHING LIGHTS TELLING PEOPLE TO STOP AND YET THEY STILL DID NOT! The man yelled at the last two cars. I don't blame him. Keep in mind this is near AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, yet people still don't give a fuck.
I guess everybody is in such a hurry that potential pedestrian manslaughter is a small price to pay.
Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2019
The sunsets sure have been pretty this past week...
And the cats have been out in the catio enjoying them every night.
Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2019
Every day when I am walking to work I pass a "Little Library" box. Over the years there have been a wide variety of books, toys, and pamphlets crammed inside. Titles come. Titles go. It's a microcosm of what people are reading in my town. I'm not sure why these things are needed, as we already have a very good local library, but I'm in support of anything that encourages people to read.
This is what was in there today...
The Jehovah's Witnesses are forever filling all the Little Library boxes with their Watchtower propaganda. Not the intended purpose of the box, but what can you do? I'd be 100% behind this if it meant that they would stop going door-to-door with their bullshit, but I am fairly certain that they will continue to do this as well.
And I have a serious problem with that.
When my mom was first sliding into dementia, she was perfectly fine being home on her own during the day while I was at work. But every once in a while she would have a bad day and I would have to stay home and try to work from there. On one of those days there was a knock at the door. And there they stood... two women with their kids and a stack of Jehovah's Witness crap. I was just starting to politely tell them that we weren't interested when I hear "Is Pat home?"
Turns out they had been visiting their "friend" for months and just wanted to stop in and say hello.
I was instantly consumed with rage.
At this point my mom had no memory. None. Which means every fucking time these assholes visited her, she wouldn't know who they were. But of course they remembered her, called her by name, made her believe they were her friends, then get invited in for coffee and Bible chit-chat because my mom was confused and thought she must know them since they knew her.
The Jehovah's Witnesses lied to her. They took advantage of her condition. They exploited her trust.
Up until that point I had been politely indifferent to their cult because I thought they were harmless. Turns out they are some of the shittiest assholes on the planet, and I make a point of telling people just what I think of them every time the subject is brought up. I shouldn't have had to call the fuckers at "The Kingdom Hall of Jehovahs Witnesses" and tell them to never speak to my mother again or I would call the cops, but I did.
I have loathed the Jehovah's Witnesses ever since.
Which is why I am tempted to pull out anything they put in the library boxes and set it on fire, but since they'll just replace it there doesn't seem to be much point in it.
But maybe I could make up a bunch of stickers like this to slap on The Watchtower every time I see one?
It's a URL that redirects to this painful article about one woman's horrible ordeal with the Jehovah's Witnesses cult.
Since they abandon their leaflets in a public space, I don't think it would be illegal.
Though I'm sure their cultists would stake out the library boxes so they could catch me doing it once they realized what was happening. I'd just as soon not have to confront them directly, but I must admit I'd love the opportunity to tell them to go fuck themselves, the lying shitbags.
I am 100% behind freedom of (or from) religion in this country. If you want to join a cult, worship Jehovah, lie and cheat to coerce people into joining your mania, become a homophobic bigoted asshole, and put your faith in a "church" that keeps predicting the end of the world but failing miserably, then go right ahead. That's your right. You do you.
But don't bring your shit to my doorstep and fuck with my family or I'll lash out at you with the burning fury of a thousand suns. That's my right.
Is life worth living?
So long as I'm not indoctrinated into becoming a Jehovah's Witness cultist, it just might be.
Posted on Saturday, June 1st, 2019
My cats get along very well. Sure they chase each other around the house from top to bottom... but it's all in good fun.
This is not to say that they don't irritate each other from time to time. Jake seems difficult to ruffle, and it takes quite a lot before he will lash out. With Jenny, however, you never quite know what's going to set her off. Sometimes it's the littlest thing. Like her brother sniffing her butt.
Fortunately she has mad kung-fu skills to deal with that...
Five minutes later they were side-by-side looking out the window, so these little scuffles don't last long...
Wrapping up this fine Caturday I will leave you with this...
That would totally be my cats, which is why I won't be buying them a bell any time soon.
Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2019
The summer heat has arrived, but it's cool here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Mufasa! I'm mostly indifferent to all these Disney live-action remakes, having taken a pass on Dumbo, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, and the rest. The exception being The Jungle Book, which was exceptional. And now there's another I will absolutely be tuning into... The Lion King. I mean, just look at this screen grab...
The teaser trailer sure looks great...
And, the icing on the cake? Disney wisely got James Earl Jones to reprise the role of Mufasa...
While nothing could ever replace really good animation for me, really good CGI can also be fun.
• Fake! I don't know what's more impressive. Bill Heder's incredible impersonations... or the "Deep Fake" technology that puts their faces over his...
I'm going to go with "both" on this.
• Codex! One of the highlights of my visit to Milan, Italy was a visit to Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Library of Ambrose) so I could view pages from the Codex Atlanticus, a collection of works and writings by Leonardo DaVinci. Much to my surprise, they've now put this master work online, which you can look at here. It's pretty spectacular stuff...
All too easy to lose a lot of time exploring.
• Cracker! Remember the good old days when you wanted to eat crackers in bed... AND THE FUCKING PACKAGE WOULD ACTUALLY OPEN AT THE SEAMS INSTEAD OF YOU HAVING TO RIP INTO IT LIKE AN ANIMAL?!?
So stupid. How difficult is it to go back to packaging that actually opens, PREMIUM BRAND SALTINE CRACKERS?
• Burnt! I guess the money for all those golf trips has to come from somewhere. But cutting wildland firefighting jobs ahead of fire seasons that just continue to get worse and worse is insanity. Guess this country is literally going to go down in flames.
• Once More For the People in the Back! I've posted this before. It can't be shared enough...
I keep seeing misinformation as to how tax brackets work over and over and over and over again. I can't believe that there are people who don't get it.
And that's a wrap. if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, don't overheat!
Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2019
I typed some notes during Apple's streaming presentation of the World Wide Developer's Conference keynote this morning. Since I know absolutely everybody is dying to know my thoughts on things*, this post is for you!
• Eco-Unfriendly! And here's Tim Cook to start things off. Right off the bat he's touting how Apple is a sweet ecosystem that marries hardware, software, and services to create an experience unlike any other...
Say what you like about Apple, but it's totally true. The problem is that when one part of their ecosystem sucks, you get a bad experience. This applies to hardware (I fucking hate the MacBook Pro keyboard, and will avoid buying one of their shitty laptops for as long as I can), software (when they aren't abandoning critical in-house software like Aperture, they create fucking garbage like HomeKit), and services (their media streaming is unbelievably shitty and I'm furious that they always blame my internet, when my fiber connection streams flawlessly from everybody else). I used to put up with everything because, hey, at least it was better than Windows, but is that really true anymore?
• Apple Arcade! Now Tim is talking about "Apple Arcade"... a new membership service where you get access to a lot of cool and exclusive games. Out of everything announced, I only give a crap about LEGO Brawls, so this is probably not going to be for me...
• Apple TV PLUS! Ugh. I mean, really? Yet another streaming service? I admit that the clip shown from the alternate-history space-race drama For All Mankind looks interesting, but enough for me to pay up a monthly fee? Doubtful. Disney+ is absolutely on my radar because of all the Marvel Studios and Star Wars shows in development, but it would take a heck of a lot for me to buy into Apple's random non-catalog of shows.
• Apple TV! Apple TV has one of the shittiest interfaces in tech history. It takes forever to find the stuff you want to watch. Even if you know where to get to it, you still have to scroll and scroll and scroll. Apple added Siri to AppleTV so you can just tell it what you want, but I find it to be flakey and not always accurate. Why would I buy something from iTunes when it's available streaming from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or whatever? I thought that "TV" was supposed to prioritize stuff you already have over stuff you have to pay for, but that hasn't been my experience. But I digress. They've apparently redesigned everything to be less shitty. EXCEPT THEY ARE USING CLIP PREVIEWS LIKE NETFLIX WHICH I FUCKING HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!!! Fuck this. I hope to God they allow you to turn that shit off.
Ooh! And now Apple is saying that you will be able to use controllers from Xbox One and Playstation to control games on AppleTV! Yay! Except... where is support for my Nintendo Switch Pro controller? Oh well. I don't have time to play many games anyway.
Okay... I love the new underwater 4K screen saver! Reminds me of the serene scene aquarium screen saver I had on my Mac ages ago...
• Apple Watch! Ya know? I'd sure like to have an Apple Watch, but I just know I would never wear it because it's so damn thick. Until they fix that, they can throw all the new "watch faces" at me they want... I'm not biting. Except... ZOMG! A CALCULATOR APP! Just like my old calc digital watch had back in the 80's!
The new WatchOS will be able to run apps independently of the companion iPhone app. That seems like a pretty critical feature, but I don't know how they have the memory available for such a thing? This allows you to install apps from the App Store directly on your Apple Watch which, again, seems like a critical feature to have.
I like the idea of how the Apple Watch can help you out by monitoring your health... but I know darn well I would stop using it when I see just how unhealthy my lifestyle is, so that's not a big draw for me. For the ladies there's a menstrual cycle tracker now that will help you to know when your period is coming and when you are most fertile for the baby-making.
• iOS 13! Apparently the next version of iOS will focus a lot on speed. Face ID will unlock 30% faster... apps will install faster... apps will launch faster... that kinda thing. Naturally, it's hard not to be happy about that. And I most certainly hope that it launches the camera faster so I don't miss as many time-critical shots like I do now. A more reliable camera that isn't locking up all the time would also be nice.
I'm torn on the new "Dark Mode"... I stopped using it on my Mac because it was wildly inconsistent between apps, sometimes making it impossible to use apps that weren't patched to accommodate it. Perhaps if they did a better job of it for my iPhone I will have better luck? I dunno. It costs nothing to try. And, may I just say, that Apple using Depeche Mode's Black Celebration for their demo is about the best thing I've seen from this keynote so far?
I've been using Google's keyboard for a long time now because it supported swipe typing. Problem is, my iPhone is forever reverting back to Apple's keyboard even though I've not asked it to. Now that Apple supports swipe typing, maybe it will be a better experience? I sure hope so. All the new predictive input stuff is nice, but I often find that my iPhone gets it wrong far more often than it guesses correctly. Maybe their new "machine learning engine" will improve this? One can only hope.
• Maps! And so... shots fired at Google Maps! But here's the deal. Unless Apple gets into the traffic monitoring game like Google and Google-owned Waze, I'm probably sticking with Waze. Pretty is pretty, but I'll take the better functionality every time...
Meg Frost is up in her cool future-wheelchair to demo Maps. Holy crap is it a beautiful app! I may use it a lot more, but the navigation of Waze will be hard to leave behind...
Apple is doing their OWN version of "street view" and it looks spectacular...
I'll definitely be using Apple Maps for armchair traveling, but for actual driving? The jury is out.
• Security! And here's where Apple takes an even bigger swing at Google... privacy and security. Companies like Google and Facebook track everything you do and monitor all the activity on your phone because they are selling ads. To be effective at selling ads, they need to know who you are and what you do. I don't give much of a crap about this (hey, I'm a blogger, all that stuff is online for anybody to see anyway), but I do like Apple's philosophy of erring on the side of caution. It started with ApplePay, which securely pays for stuff without tying the purchases to a credit card (which is nice), and I absolutely love the convenience of it. And now Apple is moving their privacy mandate into other areas at a system level. I approve.
Location monitoring by your phone could be a very big problem if you don't know it's happening and you're a thief or having an affair or whatever. Apple is putting the kibosh on that by being more proactive about how your location is used and how long an app gets to use it. That's totally swell.
And, as if the shots fired weren't obvious enough, here's Craig Federighi telling the whole world that they are seriously going after Facebook and Google by creating their very own "Sign in with Apple" login service! Sweet!
No personal information whatsoever handed over. I think it's pretty obviously that absolutely everybody will switch to Apple's login service the minute it becomes available on sites. I know I sure as hell will be.
Okay, THIS is huge. Apple is coming up with their own privacy email forwarding service! You can immediately establish a temporary email ID... then use or dispose of it for as long as you want! NICE.
I've used random forwarding addresses for a very long time, but having to set them up is always such a pain. Now that it's an OS-level feature, it will be so much easier. Kudos, Apple!
Interesting. Apple is adding their own security camera streaming service to their heinously shitty HomeKit home automation bullshit. The privacy features are admittedly compelling, even though I just don't care that much. So people can hack my account and watch me talking to my cats... whoop-dee-do. However... On one hand, I would love to get rid of all my Google NestCam shit and their fucking "NestAware" idiocy for something better. So maybe. Except I hate hate hate shitty HomeKit so much that I just don't think it's a viable option. Maybe one day? I just don't know.
• Memoji! While I think the idea of Apple's Animoji and Memoji are cute, they just aren't something I'm interested in using. I tried it a few times just for fun, but the idea of using it day-in and day-out makes zero sense. The novelty wears off far too quickly. Except... NOW THEY'VE ADDED MAKEUP?!? And piercings? AND HATS?!? Ooh! Maybe I will have to use Memoji now that I can add eyeshadow and lipstick!
Memoji stickers are actually pretty cool. I don't use stickers very often, but I might use something like this.
• Photos! I take far, far, far more photos on my iPhone than any camera I have ever owned. It's just too convenient and the quality is just too good (and getting better!). The fact that Apple keeps adding cool editing features just gives me even more reason to keep shooting with iPhone. I've always got it with me anyway.
And now you can apply effects to video as well as... gasp!... ROTATE VIDEO AS WELL!
The new machine-learning photo management tools are pretty great too. I really should go delete all the duplicates and junk photos I've taken. Could probably cut the number of photos I've got stored in half. Probably more.
• AirPods! I like everything about the concept of AirPods... but hate the AirPods themselves. They absolutely 100% do NOT stay in my ears. And given the number of people complaining about losing them, I'm guessing it's a serious problem for everybody. I pretty much only use them when traveling because then it's worth the time to put the silicone tips on them so they actually stay in my ears. My thinking is that this will be the first and last pair of AirPods I buy until Apple starts making them so they fit... and are more sustainable. As it is now, there's nothing you can do except throw them away when the battery fails. Wasteful. Shamefully wasteful for a company that professes to be on the cutting edge of "green sustainability."
Having messages announced through your AirPods would drive me insane and I would most definitely not have that feature turned on. One feature I do like, however, is the AirPod Audio Sharing feature. How cool is that? So long as you both have AirPods, very cool!
• HomePod! Whatever, dude. Drop the price by half and I might consider purchasing one. Until then? My SONOS system is doing just fine.
• CarPlay! I would be thrilled to have a CarPlay enabled stereo in my auto, because the integration features with my iPhone are just too good. But I am just not in my car often enough to justify the cost. Happy that Apple keeps improving the CarPlay experience though, because maybe one day...
• Speech! The new "Neural TTS" (Text To Speech) quality is insane. Once more update and they will probably have something indistinguishable from an actual human! Hell, my iPhone already speaks in a way that's more intelligible and human than our President!
• iPad! I may die of un-shock... iPads will no longer be using a forked version of iOS but instead run a custom iPadOS. Given how Apple keeps pushing iPad to encroach on what desktop computers do (and compete with Microsoft's Surface tablet), it was something that pretty much had to happen. And it just makes sense. iPad is more than just a big iPhone. Better split-view... gestures designed for a larger screen... drag and drop... this is all stuff that, frankly, Apple should have had years ago.
One thing that had to happen to make iPad more of a desktop equivalent is to have far better file handling. It looks like Apple realizes this and is working to add more and more functionality. All the features are nice... but nowhere is this new direction more easily understood than by the fact that you can plug a thumb-drive into your iPad now...
• Pencil! I love my first-generation iPad pencil and would dearly love the features of the second-gen... if only my older iPad supported it. Perhaps eventually I will use my iPad a lot more often for my artistic endeavors, so it'll be worth it to invest the money. But that's just not in the cards right now.
• Mac! "WE LOVE THE MAC!" Tim Cook exclaims! Which is hard to take seriously when they are putting shitty keyboards on their laptops that render them useless... or just make them impossible to type on. As if you couldn't tell from my numerous posts on the topic, I am fucking livid that Apple has essentially flushed their MacBook line down the toilet thanks to their "butterfly keyboards" that nobody wants.
• Cheese! Is it just me... or does Apple's new $6000 MacPro look like a cheese grater? A pretty cheese grater, yes... but a fucking cheese grater...
Would I love to own one? Of course I would. But I just can't justify the absurd cost. Yes, Apple put a lot of work into making the thing worth the price tag, but it's all stuff that's not essential to what I do. Maybe if I start composing music with thousands of instruments or editing 6K video, I'll have a need, but this is just silly. At least it's a vastly more configurable and expandable "Pro" computer than the laughably shitty "trash can" machine they released last time.
• Display! The new Apple Pro Display XDR is an absolute steal at $5,000. I sincerely doubt that there is anything out there that can touch it at any price. But, then again, FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A COMPUTER DISPLAY!
• Catalina! Keeping up with their "Places of California" motif for naming their MacOS releases, we now get Catalina. That should make for some very pretty desktop backdrop photos!
• iTunes! At least Apple is self-aware enough to realize what a bloated pile of shit iTunes has become... and can even joke about it. Except... forgive me for not finding it funny that they are only just now addressing the problem when it's been a major hassle for years. And so now iTunes is dead and being replaced with Music... Podcasts... and TV...
That's all great and stuff... but until the server farm delivering my Apple-purchased media content is made much more stable, reliable, and actually worth a shit, it all means pretty much nothing to me.
• Sidecar! Use your iPad as a second screen? Yes please! That could come in SO handy sometimes when I just need a readout that's not covering up what I'm working on!
• Voice Control! At home, I am talking to my house (through Alexa) all the time. She controls absolutely everything, and I'm so accustomed to it that I don't even think about it any more. "Turn on the television!" and "Turn off the porch light!" and "Lock the door!" and "Show my the Catio Camera!" are just... natural(?)... to me now. But, for whatever reason, I just don't think of talking to my Mac. Maybe as it becomes more and more voice aware, that will change. From what they showed at the keynote, however, this could be a huge help to disabled persons who can't use keyboards or mice.
• Find My! Being able to find your devices, even when they are offline? Fantastic. This is the same concept of my "Tile" trackers that I have on my keys, in my backpack and in my wallet. It talks to nearby devices with extremely low power consumption so that you have a much better chance of finding your iPhone, MacBook, iPad, or whatever, that's gone missing.
• Locked! You can remotely lock/wipe your iPhone so that it becomes useless if stolen. There's no doubt in my mind that this is curbing theft of these devices. Why risk jail-time if you can't do anything with it? And now that technology is coming to the Mac, which is nice.
• Developers! Developers! Developers! The new Catalyst project that allows you to compile iPhone apps for the Mac... plus new advancements with their Swift programming language... plus continuing advancements in allowing easy integration of new technologies like AR (augmented reality)... Apple has (mostly) always made sure that developing for their products is as painless as possible, and it looks like they are serious about making sure that tradition continues. Good on you, Apple!
• Reality! And speaking of AR... the new "Reality Composer" sure looks interesting! It can automatically extract people so that rendered objects and move around them! Cool! And the Minecraft demo of how that works is pretty spectacular. This is the future of technology, and it's only a matter of time before we see it around our home... in our car windshields... and on our glasses...
Right now it's pretty much a technology demo... but you can see where it's all going. Eventually.
And that's the end of that, I guess. This keynote seemed a lot more "evolution" over "revolution," but there's some real winners in there that have me more optimistic than I was yesterday as to how much I want to be in bed with Apple any more. Given how pissed off I've been with them lately, that was no easy task. Having to wait until Fall to get at any of it is a bit of a bummer, but that's the way the Apple falls.
*Okay, I know practically nobody actually cares what I think, but that's probably the case for most subjects I blog about... why should this be any different?
Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019
Every day when I walk to work I have the opportunity to do nothing with my brain except think about stuff for the precious 7 to 10 minutes it takes to get to my office. Sometimes it's surprising was pops into my head when there's nothing else going on in there.
Today it was Grit: America's Greatest Family Newspaper.
I thought about it when I walked by the place that my middle school used to stand before they tore it down. The middle school was moved into the old high school when we got a new high school.
When I was in Middle School, I had a teacher I really liked (Mr. Behler!) who would give us a copy of Grit to read in class some weeks. It was a folksy kind of publication with stories from rural America that I found quaint... even way back then.
You may remember Grit from the many, many, many ads they ran in comic books over the years...
"BOYS! EARN $1 TO $6 A WEEK!" I guess if you're a girl, you need not apply? Girls should just go play with dolls and stuff. They even ask the question "Are you a boy?" right on the application, which makes me wonder if you get rejected for being a girl.
This one has to be my favorite though... "Remember how many times you felt left out because you were BROKE! Places the gang was going and you weren't included. They all had money for movies, games, hamburgers and soft drinks... all of them except you. WELL YOU'LL NEVER BE BROKE AGAIN!"
Boy howdy! Money for movies, games, hamburgers, and soft drinks? Sign me up! Interesting to note the checkbox that asks if you're male or female... still no clue why that matters?
America's Greatest Family Newspaper has definitely changed over the years. I was surprised to see that it's no longer a newspaper, it's a magazine. But it's still trading on the kind of folksy "Rural America Know-How" it always has.
You can get a taste of what Grit is today by visiting their website.
Sadly it looks as though they don't seem to hire kids to deliver their publication anymore and you have to subscribe by mail ($17 for 6 issues a year!). So I have no idea what kids do for money to buy hamburgers and soft drinks with the gang now-a-days. They probably end up selling drugs. Thanks for ruining America, Grit!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to the article I was reading on Grit... Bats: The Unseen Ally!
Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019
Lost yet another friend today... an internet friend I had grown quite fond of. He had been in poor health for quite a while but I never thought of him dying, so it still caught me off guard. Grant was a good guy who served his country and would help people out whenever he could. He was also damn funny. He will be missed.
Nine years ago or so, I remembered drawing a Davetoon of Lil' Dave as a "Bunny" for Grant's birthday. Probably not the kind of manga he was hoping for, but you have to draw what you know...
Grant at work during his younger days...
Thank you for your service, sir! I wish the government would have taken better care of you after you risked your life for their decisions.
2019 is not shaping up to be much of an improvement over 2018, the worst year of my life. I guess that point where everybody you know starts departing this earthly plane is coming earlier for me than it does for everybody else?
Doesn't seem fair, but it does feel typical.
Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2019
D-Day... the day that the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied France during World War II in order to liberate the country and secure victory on the Western Front... is a landmark event in world history. The United States, The British Empire, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Norway, Poland, and Czechoslovakia came together to fight a great evil to escape from an unthinkable future against incredible odds. That the Allied Forces were victorious is a testament to cooperation, courage, and sacrifice. On this somber day of remembrance, it's our duty to pay respects those who risked everything, including their lives, in service of all humanity. You will not be forgotten.
According to President Trump, it's also a time to air your petty grudges by calling Robert Mueller a "fool" and Nancy Pelosi a "disaster"...
Well, if there's anybody who would know something about being both a fool and a disaster, it would be our president... the pathetic, loathsome, disgusting, moronic, vile, horror story that he is. Boy it would be nice if he could go just one damn day without embarrassing us in front of the world, but I guess that's too much to ask.
Anybody, anybody at all, with even the tiniest amount of humility and decency would have declined to discuss this kind of ugliness on this day... especially when you are sitting across from the Normandy American Cemetery Memorial which honors those US soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. All he had to say was "I'm sorry, but now is not the time or place to get into that... I'm here to pay my respects and honor the memory of some truly great American heroes and nothing else." But, of course, we all know that humility and decency are two traits that President Trump doesn't possess, and so here we are.
Can you imagine... can you even fathom... what the reaction would be at FOX "News" if President Obama had unloaded this kind of petty sniping under the same conditions? Can you?!?
If not, just Google it. Theirs was a non-stop parade of condemnation for far, far less offensives... or nothing at all... for the eight years that he was in office. As propaganda ministers for the Far Right that's their job, after all.
Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2019
I've made no bones about the fact that I am profoundly disappointed with AppleTV. The interface is utter shit, it's horribly unreliable, and all too many times I can't get my purchases to stream on the device (despite the fact that I can stream from every other media content provider with no issues).
Coming very soon is tvOS which will (hopefully) change things for the better.
Or, at the very least, have a far better interface so you're not forced to scroll through hundreds of titles to find what you want.
One of the apps that was supposed to make the AppleTV experience better was AppleTV: The App which is a hub that keeps track of where you're at in all your in-progress series and acts as a gateway to all the other apps by allowing your progress in those to be managed as well. It was a great, idea, in theory. The execution was not so great, however.
Ahead of tvOS, Apple pushed an update to The App. Functionally similar, it has a new look...
You know what else it has?
I might as well get this out of the way... IT HAS SHITTY FUCKING AUTO-PLAY TRAILERS NOW... AND THERE'S NO SETTING TO TURN IT OFF! Just like Netflix. I swear, Apple is intentionally setting out to make people hate them. Who wants to try to find something to watch when you're constantly being inundated with videos playing THAT YOU DON'T FUCKING WANT TO SEE? Remember MySpace pages with their autoplay music that everybody HATED?!? Leave it to Apple to bring it back as video autoplay that NOBODY WANTS. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave over Apple's non-stop parade of stupid shit. Apple makes me regret EVER having purchased anything from iTunes. I hope that TV shows get an equivalent of MoviesAnywhere so I can watched my purchased shows ANYWHERE ELSE. Holy shit what a waste.
An example. Let me take a look at the movies I got going on...
When all of a sudden... BAM! A fucking trailer starts playing while I'm looking at what's available...
Absolutely fucking infuriating. ILET ME FUCKING CHOOSE IF I WANT TO WATCH THE FUCKING TRAILER, YOU ASSHOLES! This is rage-inducing bullshit, and I cannot believe this is what Apple has become.
But let's move on, shall we? All screenshots are taken with my iPhone, so forgive me that they're not so great-looking.
The first thing I notice is that Apple has added a "Free Episodes" section to the main screen. No clue where the episodes are coming from though. Banshee is courtesy of Cinemax. Does that mean that Cinemax is responsible for giving us free episodes? Or is Apple paying a license? What?
In the example of Banshee, above, I already own all four seasons, so if I want to watch the show, it's not "free," it's something I paid for. But maybe Apple knows I own them and that's where they are pulling the "free" from? Oh look... they are also available from Amazon Prime Video, which I also have. Again, I pay for it, so it's not really free, but okay? Maybe they are talking about getting a free trial of Cinemax then? Absolutely no clue...
Interesting to note that they are trying to sell me Banshee when I already own it. What the heck is that about? Maybe when I click through it will refresh and show that I already bought it? Nope...
But surely when I click on a season, AppleTV will know that I bought it, right? Nope...
WTF?!? So I call up the series to verify that I do, in fact, own it. And I do. But AppleTV is fucking brain-dead and doesn't seem to understand that when I bought The Complete Collection of all four seasons, I own all four seasons. If I somehow forgot that I bought the collection, Apple was happy to take my money on individual seasons, thus charging me twice. Wow. So the Apple app which is supposed to keep track of everything for you can't even keep track of the shit you purchased direct from Apple. Sounds about right...
Anyway... back to the free stuff showing up which I have no idea where it's coming from...
Ooh! Look! Another Cinemax favorite... Strike Back! This Richard Armitage series is kinda famous for killing off Richard Armitage in the first episode of the second season. They then brought in a pair of new leads (Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton) to take over the show. And that's them right there in the poster image... FOR SERIES ONE, EPISODE ONE?!??...
They didn't even exist in the first season! The first series was all about Richard Armitage! Maybe it was a mistake on the home screen? Surely they have it correct once you click through? Except... nope... they are calling Season One, Season Two, and completely forgetting that there was actually a season that existed before this one...
And that about sums up the latest revision of AppleTV: The App... everything it's SUPPOSED to be smart about... keeping track of what you're watching... knowing what you own and what services you subscribe to so it can give you the best option for watching what you want to watch... and knowing about the shows it manages so you can do amazing things LIKE START WITH THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FIRST SEASON OF A SERIES... it fails at completely.
And so I guess I can just go on ignoring The App as I have been since it debuted then. Except... it still might be handy from time to time because finding the stuff I want to watch is inexplicably difficult using the dedicated "Movies" and "Television" apps. If only there was a way to turn off those fucking autoplay previews! Except... nope...
GOOD LORD APPLE IS SHIT AT JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING NOW-A-DAYS! I hope to God that the tvOS 13 update is better than the AppleTV: The App update. Though that's probably hoping for too much given what we've had to suffer through over the past eight years (R.I.P. Steve!).
Just so I don't have to end this on a sour note. Let me try to find something positive to say.
Something that appears new to me is that "Cast & Crew" links when you pop into details on the series. As an example, here's the awesome TV series Limitless...
Clicking on Jake McDorman's face shows me other stuff he's been in... without having to call up IMDB. Nice...
Of course God only knows whether or not clicking on any of those will encourage you to buy something you already own... so even my attempt at finding something nice to say is an attempt bound to end in failure.
I simply do not understand how Apple can continue to slide like this. Because surely they realize there's a problem, right? Surely they have people working there who takes a look at their crap during development to let them know when stuff is badly designed or not functioning correctly? RIGHT?!?
I'm beginning to seriously doubt it.
Or maybe they do and people like Jony Ivy and Tim Cook just don't fucking listen to them. That would explain a lot.
Until tvOS 13 then...
Posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2019
Today was a rare day when I didn't have to go into work. Instead I worked around the house which is, in so many ways, worse. Sitting at a desk all day doesn't strain my back, whereas painting garage doors, making bread, assembling shelving, and cleaning house definitely does!
Most of the chores I had set for myself were done by 1:30, so I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my cats...
Jake has continued being clingy and wanting attention after his accident. Poor thing. I think his new behavior might very well be permanent...
I always make time for my cats, and it's kinda nice to have Jakey Bear for company. Now that it's warmer, he doesn't snuggle up against me very often though, preferring to sleep in a way that's easier to cool off..
Jenny, on the other hand, will still snuggle up against me in any weather...
Speaking of Jenny, a while back I happened across a folder of old photos. I think this is when I first noticed that she has an adorable sour face...
She's entirely too cute. I think her coloration and narrow face camouflages the way most cats have that "smile" where their mouth turns up... so she always looks like she's frowning. Just makes me love her even more!
And now? Time to make dinner, I suppose. Happy Caturday!
Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2019
The time for revolution is now... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lander! In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the first Apollo Moon Landing, LEGO has released this amazing new set...
It's pretty dope...
It's also $99, which seems totally worth it, if you've got that kind of money to burn.
• Saga! Speaking of LEGO... they've just announced that LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will be released in 2020, combining all nine films in a single game...
I'm guessing that it will be the existing Star Wars games but with new material added at the end to close out the saga. Since it is being released for the Nintendo Switch, I don't mind that at all. I'd love to replay everything from the beginning.
• Lucifer! One of my favorite shows, Lucifer was cancelled, then picked up by Netflix. Apparently it did well enough that they are giving the show a fifth season to wrap everything up...
Time to celebrate...
It's a bit depressing that the show will finally be ending... but at least they have the opportunity to create an actually ending.
• Eighty-Four! Director Patty Jenkins released a teaser poster for Wonder Woman 84 this week. One year to go before we know whether this "Not A Sequel But a Reimagining" is going to be worth a crap...
I'd like to think it will be, especially since Jenkins is back onboard, but it's really impossible to say. Why they would toss away a continuing story for some kind of soft reboot is puzzling. Unless it's because the DC Cinematic Universe was a pile of shit and they wanted to just bury that once and for all? 360-whatever days until we find out.
• Jedi Thrones! Well, this is pretty special...
Given what a massive disappointment the final season of Game of Thrones was, I'm happy to see anything that redeems the franchise, so I'll take what I can get. In the meanwhile, there's this interesting look at how things went South.
• Chase Dreams! One of the biggest surprises of the past year's television season was The Other Two, which was hilariously funny in places, despite kinda sliding late in the season...
Still, if you're bored and want something to watch over the summer, this is worth a look. It's pretty foul and definitely not a good fit for mixed company, but you can stream it for a limited time at Comedy Central.
• Fan! A bit of a different direction for MUNA here...
Can't wait for their new album in September!
Have a great Sunday!
Posted on Monday, June 10th, 2019
Nothing like waking up and finding out that one of your heroes has been shot.
I didn't become a baseball fan until college, kinda falling into the sport by accident after reading the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella (better known as the book which inspired the movie Field of Dreams). From there I became a bit of a baseball biography junkie, finding the stories behind the sport to be as fascinating as anything in fiction. Right as I was in the middle of the Boston Red Sox Greats (Ted Williams, Cy Young, Smoky Joe Wood, and Babe Ruth) I started becoming interested in the game itself and followed The Seattle Mariners (my local team) along with the Red Sox, because their history was so rich.
Eventually I ended up dating a woman who was originally from Boston. Once she found out I was a Red Sox fan, she convinced her family to take me to a game when we went back to visit, and I've been a die-hard fan ever since.
Being a Red Sox fan in the 90's was not an easy thing.
Their last World Series Win was in 1918(!) and though they had seasons where they were able to shine, there were a lot of seasons that were bordering on tragedy. Then... as we started the new millennium, everything started to change. Players like Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia... and former Mariner David Ortiz... were driving a new era for the team, and it was a beautiful thing to see. In 2004 they won the World Series and have been back on track (for the most part) ever since.
David Ortiz (or "Big Papi," as we fans call him) was an absolute master of the game of baseball before retiring in 2016...
AP Newswire Photo
Bg Papi's record speaks for itself. He is easily one of the best designated hitters... and unarguably one of the best clutch hitters... of all time, blasting past MLB records for hits, runs batted in, and home runs. Watching him play is why people love baseball. He's a legend and hero not only to Boston Red Sox fans, but to other players and anybody with a love for the game regardless of which team they root for.
David Ortiz was shot in the back while exiting a club in the Dominican Republic last night.
No idea why anybody would want to do such a horrible thing to another human... but to shoot David Ortiz in the back? Why? What possible reason could there be for trying to kill somebody as universally loved as Big Papi? Was it because he was universally loved? There's just no making sense of these things. Current news (which I've been following all morning) has him resting and in stable condition. Television host Jhoel Lopez, who was also shot, is in stable condition as well.
I remember the season before his retirement with absolute clarity because it was so much fun.
Game after game after game or tributes and outpouring of love by fans and rival teams... some of them touching, many of them funny, all of them great. Of course I was sad that he was retiring, but I was also happy for him to be able to step back from the limelight and enjoy life... especially after all he's given to the Red Sox. He deserved a happy retirement.
And now this madness.
There's my love of David Ortiz the Boston Red Sox ball player. And there's my love of David Ortiz the person, which is completely encapsulated by his NSFW response to the Boston Marathon shooting...
Freedom in a nutshell.
I guess I end this post with sending all my warmest wishes for a speedy recovery to Ortiz and Lopez.
And a video with some great Big Papi baseball moments, of course...
Stay Boston Strong.
Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019
As I've probably mentioned numerous times, I was a massively huge comic book fan for many years. Now-a-days I purchase everything digitally and don't buy many titles, but I've got an entire storage room filled with the physical comics from my past.
Back when I first started collecting, I hated subscribing to comics from the comic book companies because they would arrive in a brown wrapper with no protection and often came damaged. Instead I'd go to the two local drug stores and hope that the comics I wanted were stocked. Popular titles like Batman could always be found. Less popular titles may not be. I'd show up on the day they arrived whenever I could so I could get a mint copy instead of one that had been mangled on the rack.
When the comics I wanted weren't available at the drug store, I'd have to beg my mom to take me to The Big City so I could visit the News Agency there. The Agency was a wholesale distributor of magazines and newspapers to businesses. But they also had a retail store. The general public had to pay full price, but they usually had a copy of everything available.
What I remember most about the News Agency was the smell when you walked in.
All that paper. Like a book store, but fresher and less musty. I loved it there.
Jack, the guy who owned the place, sold it in 1995. By that time I was actually living in The Big City and buying my comics at the local comic book shop that had opened a decade earlier. I think the News Agency maybe lasted another five years before shutting down. I have no idea where local businesses get their magazines now.
The News Agency isn't all fond memories though. Three or four years ago I read an article about an apparent unsolved murder of one of the News Agency employees back in the 70's. His car was found abandoned in a hotel parking lot and he was never seen again. The article was about his family wanting the cold case re-opened to see if anything new could be discovered.
I was thinking about all this on my walk to work this morning.
How even the things that build our happiest memories can be tainted by tragedy.
And I'm pretty sure it relates back to how David Ortiz, one of my favorite baseball players to ever play the game, was shot in the back on Sunday. I can't get it out of my head. The Boston Red Socks, something which has given me so many happy memories, has been tainted by tragedy.
The news is reporting that Big Papi is resting and in good condition after a second surgery, so here's hoping the tragedy ends with him being shot.
Leave it to The Universe to ruin comic books and baseball for me.
What's next? Ice cream?
Posted on Wednesday, June 12th, 2019
My walk to the office each morning is something I look forward to. A nice chance to clear my head before diving into work for the day. And an opportunity to see cool stuff. This morning I saw the cat that appears from time to time... which would already make me happy. Except this time the cat was with... KITTENS?!??
I'm assuming that this is mom cat, who was content to watch over her kids while they were playing...
Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there's another adult cat in the porch...
Is this where the cats live? Have they been spayed/neutered? They look well-fed, so they're obviously not suffering... I just hope that somebody is taking care of them outside of food.
This is a dangerous time of year for me. The local Humane Society shelter is overflowing with kittens, and it's all I can do to keep from running down and bringing a dozen of them home with me. But that's not really an option, and so I have to make do with seeing random kittens at times like this.
Which just makes me want more cats, of course.
Posted on Thursday, June 13th, 2019
Another trip over the mountains.
Another friend gone... the third in four months.
Another day remembering how we all seemed immortal not so long ago.
Another ending when all I'm hoping for is a fresh beginning.
Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019
I've been a massively huge fan of Dale Chihuly's glassworks for many years.
He used to be the subject a PBS specials where he would donate works to people who pledged a certain dollar amount in support of the Seattle station. Of course I was dying to own one of his glass concept paintings or an actual glasswork, but they were way out of my price range as a student in the 80's. Now that his popularity has skyrocketed, those same works are worth thousands... even tens of thousands... of dollars, so now I really can't afford it.
But I have made a point of visiting his many exhibits and installations around the world over the years, including his permanent exhibit at The Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Today one of my friends from the early blogging days, Copasetic Beth, was in town and so I got to visit again...
Well worth a visit if you're ever in Seattle!
Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019
As touristy as Pike Place Market is, it's still one of my favorite spots in the city. Along with Pioneer Square it pretty much defines what I love about Seattle.
This afternoon I had a chance to visit again, which is something I really don't do enough.
Beware of flying fish...
Good bye, Seattle.
Posted on Saturday, June 15th, 2019
I loathe the constant barrage of senseless plastic pollution which permeates modern life in this country. Absolutely everything comes packed in it or protected by it. It's a plague that's destroying the planet, and only getting worse as more and more people like me do their shopping online.
Most of the pillow packs can be deflated and recycled. I don't think they can go in my recycle bin, but they can be saved and dropped into those shopping bag recycling receptacles at grocery stores.
But not before my cats get to play in them, which is one of their favorite things. Especially Jenny, who likes hiding in them...
I like to hide toys under the pillow packs so that the cats can have fun playing in them as well...
Jenny is still sleeping on the jeans I put across the back of the couch to dry, so I've just been leaving them there. Sure I'm down two pair, but how can I say no to this?
And then there's Jake being Jake...
My cats are the best. Happy Saturday!
Posted on Sunday, June 16th, 2019
Okay, the time for revolution wasn't then after all, it's now... maybe... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Too! As a huge Miley Cyrus fan, I was very much looking forward to her episode in the new Black Mirror mini-season (just three episodes). I was not disappointed. Not only was her episode hilarious in all the right ways, it was surprisingly upbeat. Usually Black Mirror is about as dystopian bleak as it gets, but Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too? Not so much...
Miley plays "Ashley O," a huge pop star who ends up with a robotic doll that her fans can buy...
I don't know who was responsible for designing that robot, but it is the best thing ever. And it's tough to tell you exactly why that's the case without spoiling anything, so I will stay silent. Except to say that "Ashley O" has released a video for her awesome song On a Roll (a parody on Nine Inch Nails' Head Like a Hole)...
If you're a Black Mirror fan, you've probably already seen this. If not (and you have Netflix), this is the episode to watch. Especially the final third, which is genius.
• Jones! On the opposite end of the spectrum is the third (and final) season of Netflix's Jessica Jones, the last of their Marvel Studio tie-ins...
What can I say? It was 100% crap from start to finish. Instead of focusing on Jessica Jones, it got mired in endless bullshit centered around the supporting characters. NEWSFLASH: Nobody gives a shit about Hogarth, Trish, Malcolm, Zaya, Dorothy, Kith, Costa, or anybody else who isn't Jessica Jones. Especially when they are this boring. SUPPORTING CHARACTERS ARE SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT THE MAIN CHARACTER! The only supporting character who didn't irritate me because they actually had an interesting role that moved Jessica Jones' story forward was Erik Gelden. Surprisingly, they managed to retool the lame "Mind-Wave" from the comics and use him to good effect.
Originally I was sad that Netflix canceled all of their Marvel shows, but this lame-ass season (featuring a laughably absurd arc for Trish Walker) has me reconsidering. If this was what we were in for, maybe cancelation was for the best.
• Park! Welp, the new Jurassic Park LEGO sets are amazing...
Another LEGO mining for Samuel L. Jackson!
• Memorial. I had never seen this before...
Visited the grave of my friend’s father and witnessed a remarkable ceremony. The letters on the white crosses almost disappear in the brightness of the stone, so a soldier fills the indentations with sand from Omaha Beach to bring the name forward. It sent shivers down my spine. pic.twitter.com/e2G8KvvALt— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) June 6, 2019
• America by Gaslight! An essential read.
• Katzenjammers! And now I close out this Bullet Sunday with one of the weirdest things you'll see all week...
Cats don't need any help being weird, but this certainly shows it's possible to make them even weirder than they already are.
And, on that note of the utterly bizarre, I'll see you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019
I tend to ignore Taylor Swift, only becoming aware of her when one of her songs grabs me on internet radio or something.
But then Taylor performed the song ME! At the billboard music awards with Brendon Urie (from Panic! At The Disco), and she instantly became impossible to ignore. Not only was it a great pop song, but the spectacle which accompanied it was fantastic...
The actual video for ME! (on which the Billboard performance was based) was equally amazing, using CGI to excellent effect...
And then today she released the video for her follow-up single, You Need to Calm Down, featuring a star-studded cast that completely delivered...
Yes, haters, please... have several seats and just shut the fuck up. Your shade ain't going to make anybody less gay, and your homophobic bullshit is tired to people just trying to live their life...
A few things...
• And so I guess the feud between Taylor and Katy Perry is over...
• Trailer Trash Taylor is my favorite Taylor...
• I really hope that Laverne Cox finds a new show to land on post Orange is the New Black...
• Oh hey there, Hannah Hart...
• Oh hey there, Tan France...
• And there's Ellen DeGeneres getting a tattoo from Adam Lambert which says "CRUEL SUMMER," assumably the name of Taylor's next single...
• Oh hey there, Ryan Reynolds...
• And, lastly... oh hey there, RuPaul...
I'm sure that there will be those who say Taylor Swift is merely cashing in on affiliating with LGBTQ Pride Month, but I think that's a bit of a reach. Far safer for her to just keep on doing what she's been doing and not rock the boat so she doesn't endanger her revenue stream. But instead she's proclaiming herself an ally and trying to use her fame for something good. If nothing else, she's setting a good example for her legions of young fans.
So bravo, Miss Swift.
Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
My Tuesday felt more like Monday than Monday did.
Today while I was mocking the Democrats on Facebook over their laughably stupid campaign to attract young people to their ranks, I ran across that infamous 30 Rock meme where Steve Buscemi's character is playing an undercover cop in high school (ala 21 Jump Street)...
This caused me to fall down an internet rabbit hole of 30 Rock clips, including the one where the above meme came from...
I mean, come on, it's just so insanely brilliant.
The talent that went into this scene... not only in front of the camera, but behind it with the writing and wardrobe... makes me really miss 30 Rock. What Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Alec Baldwin managed to unleash week after week is about as close to television magic as it gets.
And, on that happy note, good evening to you, fellow kids.
Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
I didn't step foot in the office this past weekend. Not once. I'm thinking that's probably the first time that's happened this year. It was a good thing... a great thing, even... but I did end up going back into the office tonight and working until very late to do stuff I probably should have done over the weekend, so perhaps it wasn't my smartest move?
This morning when Alexa sounded the breakfast alarm for the cats, there were no cats to be found.
This is highly unusual. But it's also the second time this week. They did it on Monday as well.
85% of the time both cats are lounging around my bedroom waiting for the alarm to chime. 10% of the time one or both of them are not in my bedroom when the alarm chimes, but come running when they hear it. 5% of the time one of them sees something out in the catio and forgets about trying to guilt me into an early breakfast... but the other one is still in my room waiting for Alexa.
My first thought Monday morning was "Wow. What is a big enough event that both Jake and Jenny don't come running when the alarm sounds?" The only thing that entered my head was that a bird flew into the catio and they are out there playing with its corpse. AKA: my nightmare. Poor bird.
But that wasn't it at all. They were just too dang lazy to come running and were waiting for me to come to them at the bottom of the stairs...
Then again today. Well, okay. Fine.
But I draw the line at serving them breakfast in bed!
At least until they demand that I start serving them breakfast in bed, of course.
Posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019
My morning walks to work are starting to become the best part of my day. When I'm not nearly getting run down in the sidewalks, I'm discovering all kinds of things that make life interesting.
Far and away my most favorite thing each morning is looking to see if the family of cats that live on my route is out. The kittens spark joy in my cold, dead heart, so it's always a good day when I can start it out with kittens. Today they were indeed lounging in the front yard, watching me warily as I approached like they always do...
Much to my dismay, the little puffball cat was not there again. That's the third time in a row, and I'm heartbroken at the thought that he was attacked or got run over or something...
The only thing keeping me from going crazy and adopting every kitten I see is space and money. I had better never win the lottery or else I will end up buying a big house and filling it with homeless cats. I think we all know that this never ends well.
UPDATE: Well would you look at that! The kitten is back! All three accounted for...
Interesting how the puffball sibling is always alone or hanging out with mom. It's never playing with the other two (who are forever wrestling around).
In other news... inside the "Little Library Box" this morning was a new book. A children's book made famous because it was written by Madonna. This one from her The English Roses series is called A Rose by Any Other Name...
I remember when Madonna released her first English Roses book and went on MTV(?) to read it to a group of kids. She was trying to read with an English accent but it wasn't working out so well.
I thought I might grab the book because I was intrigued about the offer for a free MyEnglishRoses.net access card... but the domain is dead now, so I guess it's not quite the bonus I was lead to believe.
Guess I'll spend the rest of my day wondering where that kitten ended up. I think I might choose to believe that he was adopted and is now living happily in a new forever home.
Sometimes the best ending we can hope for is the one we make up for ourselves.
Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019
Somehow I was late hearing the news that Strike Back is getting a new and final season at Cinemax. In celebration, I started re-watching all the old episodes that I didn't have a chance to re-watch before the last season ended back in March.
Strike Back is one of those rare shows that came back from cancelation with an entirely new cast... but somehow ending up being good anyway. Sure, I've got a soft spot in my heart for the original characters, but the show was still so good that I was happy to keep watching with the new ones...
So far as smart high-octane television goes, Strike Back (along with another Cinemax series, Banshee), is one of my favorites. The stories are all wildly implausible and totally insane... but it sure makes for good entertainment!
No idea what's going to take its place. Seems like all the new shows they come up with to replace great old shows that get canceled never measure up.
Posted on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019
I always find it funny how Jake will barrel through the patio door when he spots an "enemy" cat wandering by outside and wants to quickly investigate... but when he just wants to go outside, he'll hem and haw at the door flap until he gingerly and reluctantly pushes his face through and ever-so-slowly oozes out.
A while back I was on the phone with a colleague and mentioned that my little trash panda was licking all the snack wrappers from my breakfast. She said "Why is the cat the trash panda... you're the one eating garbage for breakfast!" Touché...
He's still adorable like a panda though...
Since my cats spend most of their day sleeping and most of their night out in the patio waiting for bugs to fly in, there's not much else to say this fine Caturday...
See you next Caturday.
Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019
The weekend's almost over, but there's still reason to celebrate... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• NOKEA! When I was in Seattle last week, I finally took a minute to drop by IKEA and pick up a nightstand for my second guest room so I don't have to steal one from the main guest room whenever somebody needs it. I swear... the quality on IKEA crap worsens with each new purchase. From when I bought these three years ago, they have gotten cheaper and less solid, even though the look is pretty much the same...
But at least they gave me all the right parts so I could actually put the stupid thing together this time.
• Arturo! I thought I'd give Comedy Central's new show Alternatino a try after seeing Arturo Castro (who created and stars in it) on The Daily Show. It's nuts in the best possible way... and so good. And you can watch the entire thing on Youtube!
I have no idea if all the best ideas were put in the first episode and the rest of them are going to be crap, but I certainly hope not! Highly recommended.
• King's Man! The prequel to one of my favorite films, Kingsman (and not so-favorite film Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle), was just announced. Titled The King's Man, they released the logo for it. And the kerning (spacing between letters) is total shit. So I fixed it for them...
It's weird to me how these obvious mistakes keep happening. I mean, is it intentional? Surely they have actual designers working on this stuff... don't they? If so, then why don't they know to adjust the kerning when designing a logo? Or know how to structure it for clarity? I dunno. But it drives me more than a little nuts.
• Just in time for Pride Month! Diane Gramley (President at American Family Association of Pennsylvania) is such a peach. When she's not regularly equating homosexuality to murder, she's unleashing a whole host of bizarre bullshit. Like saying that the police officers who raided Stonewall in 1969 were trying to rescue a young transgender boy. “He was being used sexually and the police were trying to rescue him.”
She's a non-stop lying hate machine. Which begs the question... exactly what is she trying to distract people from in her own life? My guess is that it's putting pineapple on pizza, which is just one step below murder. But probably bestiality. "Everybody! Don't look at me... look over there! Persecute the gays so I can get fucked by this horse." What else makes sense when somebody is this overtly homophobic? So set your stopwatches. And when Diane Gramley gets caught in a stable being fucked by a horse, remember you heard it here first!
• No More Mr. Frosty! Does anybody know if there's a vaccine to inoculate against the bubonic plague and all the other dormant diseases that might be filling our atmosphere as I type this? No? Guess we're all fucked then.
And I guess that's a wrap. Good luck with that bubonic plague thing!
Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019
I have a vivid recollection of when Madonna first started entering public consciousness. My brother was a fan and started buying all her singles and maxi-singles (in retrospect, I think he liked her look more than her music). I didn't think much of her self-titled debut album when it dropped in 1983 and told him that she was a flash-in-the-pan who couldn't possibly last. She'd be yet another forgotten pop-star wannabe on a pile of forgotten pop-star wannabes.
Over the years Madonna has reinvented herself numerous times. Some of her iterations are ones I actually enjoy. I've seen her in concert twice. I own several of her concert films because she puts on a good show. I am one of the few who really liked her song for the Bond flick Die Another Day. I thought she was perfect in A League of Their Own.
And through it all... love her or hate her... the one thing that's been consistent when it comes to Madonna is that she never stops being Madonna.
Never has this been more clear to me than with her recent interview on Graham Norton. There she was, all arogant and detached from reality with her jeweled grills on her teeth and her eyepatch that's not actually covering her eye being all Madonna and stuff, when it occurred to me just how far gone from the rest of humanity she has become...
The first single Medellín (with Columbian artist Maluma) from her new album Madame X is pretty great (I skipped past her weird minute-long intro)...
This time around, Madonna seems to have reinvented herself as a cross between a naughty pirate and a dancing headmistress at a Catholic school. Or something.
But who am I to judge? She's the one who's Madonna.
Posted on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
And lo did Apple descend from the heavens to reveal unto The Faithful a public beta of the next version of MacOS X, Catalina (which is version v10.15, if you're keeping count). And since I know everybody in Blogography Land is just dying to know what I think of this fairly uneventful release, here you go...
It was a piece of cake. I logged in to the Public Beta program, registered my Mac, then clicked to install. I keep all my documents in Dropbox, so I didn't need to back up anything. If the install screwed up, all I'd have to do is scrub my machine and install my apps fresh. If you do keep data on your machine, be sure and back it up before installing any major OS release... beta or otherwise. Apple is better than most, but can still royally screw up from time to time (as I've found out the hard way).
Apparently services like DropBox are now "more integrated" into the Finder, but I'm not exactly understanding how. Maybe it's something the services have to update their software to support? Though DropBox has gone far beyond just storing files in the cloud, and is now trying to compete with collaboration and project management services like Slack and Basecamp, which is just stupid because that's not what I use DropBox for... so I'm probably dumping it anyway. If there are other changes, I haven't noticed them yet.
Gone. Vanished. This is shitty because I actually use Dashboard widgets several times every day. It's just so dang handy to be able to swipe over to a calculator... dictionary/thesaurus... measure conversion... and what-have-you. But no more. I cannot for the life of me understand why something so incredibly useful is being dropped. I don't even know how you can replace the widgets. I'm guessing with a menu bar app, but that's just nuts when my menu bar is already packed full.
Apple interface design is complete and total shit. And getting worse by the day. I have hundreds of movies. Do you know how insane it is to have to scroll through hundreds of movies to find what you want? Even simple fixes... like being able to press the R key to go to the movies starting with "R"... doesn't even occur to Apple's developers, which is both sad and embarrassing. But, even worse, Apple still has their idiotic and flawed security bullshit fucking up their apps. Any time I set up a new computer (or do a major OS upgrade) I end up having to retype my credentials over and over and over and over and over AND OVER AND FUCKING OVER AGAIN. This time? SIX FUCKING TIMES IN A ROW before it stopped asking...
All of Apple's "concerns" about helping people maintain better security is nothing but bullshit posturing when they have idiotic crap like this happening. Who wants to create passwords that are complex and secure when you'll have to type them so many damn times? Nobody. People are just going to keep creating the same easy-to-type-and-remember, easy-to-hack passwords they always have. So congratulations, Apple. In addition to making life with your computers increasingly more irritating and difficult, you're making them less secure.
The (main) replacement for iTunes is Music which, as the name implies, organizes and plays all your music. Except... not really well... it's mainly designed as a gateway and access point for Apple's streaming service, "Apple Music." Since I don't subscribe to Apple Music and prefer Amazon Prime's "Music Unlimited," that means the primary purpose of the app is lost on me. But... it does organize and play all my "iTunes in the cloud" music, so I guess no harm no foul. It's just a shame that Apple didn't innovate past what I already had in iTunes. The new Music is practically the same.
I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but there are a few I do enjoy from time to time. The new "Podcasts" app seems perfectly serviceable (if a little bland), which is nice. Except... when browsing the available podcasts, I found a dumbass racist pile of shit staring at me. WITH NO WAY TO HIDE HIS DISGUSTING FUCKING FACE FROM AVAILABLE PODCASTS...
Seems like hiding podcasts you don't want to see would be a good feature to have.
I use Photoshop for photo editing, so the new editing tools aren't going to be used very often (if at all). But it is nice to know that they are available. Everything looks similar to the tools on iPhone Photos, so if you are familiar with that, using the Mac Photos is the same. They added some extras for such things as retouching brush, red-eye fixing, noise reduction, and selective color adjustments (which, I'm guessing, are being added to the new iPhone version as well)...
Other than that, they just made things prettier... so to speak. Videos move in preview. The "Day" view tries to logically group and display photos... that kind of thing. Apparently they are using their "machine learning" routines to group photos into events, which is handy for those times you shoot a hundred photos all the same. Photos will now group them...
Except I don't like the way that rectangular photos are sometimes cropped as squares to do this, however, so I'll probably end up in "All Photos" mode, which preserves the original photo's aspect ratio. Another way Apple claims to be using "machine learning" is to better recognize people in your photos. I'm not seeing much of a difference from how it worked previously, however.
Cosmetic upgrades on the start page, which is no less annoying than it's always been. Can't find anything else that's new.
Looks to be mainly cosmetic (It does look a little different). But Apple says there are new features to be found. They must be subtle, because I ain't feeling it.
Seems the exact same. Which is to say it's an underwhelming app that lacks any of the tools required for professional use. If you're just keeping track of birthdays and setting reminders for lunch appointments, you're good. But if you need more functionality, you'll be looking elsewhere.
Looks prettier, has more functionality, seems smarter. I use a different system entirely, so this is not something I'll make use of.
Looks a little different because of the inclusion of a useless "Gallery View" (too small to read anything, can't be enlarged)... but operates basically the same.
Because I didn't want to buy a new MacBook with Apple's shitty, shitty keyboards... and instead paid good money to have my old 2012 MacBook Pro Retina display repaired when it broke, my Mac is too old to test this feature (which allows you to use an iPad as a second screen). It seems odd that such a simple trick would be forbidden when my MacBook is perfectly capable of driving an external second monitor, but okay. I've read that you can hack old Macs to force them to support Sidecar, but since it's unsupported, glitchy, and slow... I'll just take a pass.
Apple's new "tracking tech" is mostly applicable to devices like iPhone which are mobile, easy to leave behind, and have a GPS. The fact that Apple is delving into creating a global mesh of "lost and found" is a remarkable thing with some pretty great privacy securities baked in. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Apple releases tracking "tags" to put Tile out of business. On a Mac, Find My is just combining "Find My Friends" and "Find My iPhone" into a single app.
I already know that I spend every waking moment in front of a computer. Having Apple tell me this is not helping. Fortunately, you have the option of turning it off.
Apple has made great strides in making their devices easier to use with enhanced voice control and other cool stuff. Bravo.
And that's about it. Like I said... pretty uneventful. When the biggest change is that you broke a single app into three separate apps, well, it's hard to see the point. But I guess it serves to let people know you haven't forgotten about the computer-side of the business, so I guess it's all good. I just wish Apple was interested in finding something new and exciting to push MacOS X into new territory.
Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
...love won out and The Supreme Court decreed that marriages were equal in the eyes of the law. Washington State had already legalized same-sex marriage by then, so I was already attending weddings, designing invitations, and celebrating with friends who had wanted to get married, but couldn't because they were told they had the wrong body parts. But now Washington marriages would be recognized in all 50 states, and it was a happy day for everyone.
Except for random people who still aren't happy unless they are shitting on somebody else's happiness. Never mind that two other people getting married doesn't fucking affect them, they don't like the idea of people with matching genitalia getting hitched, so they think they (or their religion) should get to dictate how other people get to live their lives in a country which was founded on personal choice and freedom of/from religion. And now there's talk of marriage equality being overturned by The Supreme Court, which is ludicrous, but not surprising. Next up? Overturning Loving vs. Virginia, which legalized marriage between two races. And why stop there? Next up? Making it so only Christians can get married and only in a church ceremony. After that? Only people with money are allowed to marry. Then only people with money get to have children. Then only people with money get to vote and own property. And why not bring back slavery? This country was built on it, after all.
This lapse in logical thinking is bizarre and makes no sense, but bigotry never does. Oh well. Keep hating, if that's your thing. Meanwhile, everybody else will be moving on...
Or rather, I should say continue moving on, because same-sex marriage is hardly a new concept and has been around as long as history has been around. But bringing logic into the argument never seems to do any good with haters, so I'm going to go make dinner now.
Posted on Thursday, June 27th, 2019
LOL! LMFAO! ROTFL!
I know it's part of the game to exaggerate your product when it comes to advertising it. Truth in advertising is a myth, and nobody in this day and age expects 100% accuracy. We're lucky to get 50% accuracy. We know better.
Which is why Apple's latest commecial for their AirPods is so dang hilarious...
The idea that anybody could jump around... bounce around... run around... and not have their AirPods fall out almost immediately is extreme levels of funny.
I couldn't get my AirPods to stay in my ears just sitting on the couch. I ended up having to buy some silicone covers with ear hooks so I don't lose them. It's a pain in the ass to have to take the covers off every time I want to charge the things, but it sure beats losing something that costs $150.
My mistake was spending that kind of money in the first place.
Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019
I am writing this at near-midnight on Friday knowing that by the time I finish my post it will be tomorrow... and the one-year anniversary of my mom's death. Of course I still miss her. If anything I miss her more than I did a year ago. I think it's because the memories of her declining health are becoming dimmer while my happier memories are becoming brighter. Happier, but also more painful, because they are a constant reminder of what I've lost.
Mentally I still have a lot of work to do, as I can't stop bouncing between extremes.
One minute I'm jealous... even angry... that other people have moms living into their 80's and 90's who are still living active, happy lives. It's not fair. Then the next minute I'm gutted because I hear that somebody's mom died in their 40's and they didn't get the time I had. That's not fair either. Cursed because my mom started sliding into dementia at 70 years old. Blessed because somebody else's mom was just diagnosed with dementia at 52 years old. Unlucky that my mom died before we could get to all of our travel plans. So very lucky that we got to see as much of the world together as we did. Happy that we were so close. Devastated that we were so close... because would it hurt this bad if we weren't?
It goes on and on.
I think the thing that hurts the most is knowing that I would give absolutely anything for just five minutes to talk with her again. The mom she was before she got sick. Just to tell her I love her. To tell her how much she means to me. But also to ask her if the deicions I had to make were okay so she could assure me that they were and she knows I did the best I could. Because of course she would say that even if she hated what I did. She's my mother, after all.
I know it doesn't make sense that I would want to ask my mom a question when I already know how she would answer, but I can't help it. The unthinkable choices I had to make won't stop haunting me. It's pointless to second-guess something I cannot change. And probably wouldn't change. My whole heart was invested in every decision, so what would I have done differently? I honestly don't know. But probably nothing.
It's now 12:11am on Saturday, June 29th.
Since it's unlikely that I will get much sleep... or any sleep... tonight, I suppose I will look through all of the travel books I made for my mom. It will probably just make me miss her more than I already do, but what's another drop of heartache to an ocean of grief?
Nothing. And everything, I suppose.
Posted on Saturday, June 29th, 2019
The past week has been filled with wet weather. This used to be a source of great anxiety for my cats. Rain hitting the roof was confusing. But that's been changing over the years. Jake is actually able to sleep through rain, thunder, and lightning now.
Jenny? Not so much.
She meows at the ceiling. She meows at the windows. She's very interested in what's happening outside, but not interested enough to actually go outside and investigate...
Jake is interested because Jenny is interested...
The other day my dinner burned up in the oven. In an effort to help clear the smoke smell out of my house from my cremated pizza, I opened all the windows and doors (but not screen doors) here in the house. And there I was... walking to the kitchen with my dishes... when I see that SOMEHOW I FAILED TO NOTICE THAT THERE WAS NO SCREEN ON THE WINDOW NEXT TO THE CAT CLIMBING TREE! And there was Jake... leaning out the window all "Wassup?" As I start to crap my pants, I quickly made my way to the kitchen so I can shake the "bag of treats" and lure him away from escaping.
It worked, thank heavens. I honestly don't think my heart could take him escaping again. But at least this time I would actually know what happened!
Speaking of cooking disasters just waiting to happen... my old barbecue grill had to be replaced and I had time to assemble the new one this week. As with anything new, Jake and Jenny are invested...
The replacement grill is smaller than the old one, which is perfect for me. This one can fit in the catio without obstructing the door so I can leave it out instead of having to drag it back to the garage each time...
Now that the weather is turning nice again, I may actually get to use it.
Posted on Sunday, June 30th, 2019
Grey skies are going to clear up... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hard Rockin'! Life is weird. I'm flipping through channels and see Suicide Squad is on. Not a fan, but I pause when I see Batman chasing Joker and Harley Quinn because they pass by a Hard Rock Cafe. I'm pretty sure it's Toronto (which has since closed) so I Google to find out what's happened to the location. I find an article on CBC talking about it.
I AM INTERVIEWED IN THE ARTICLE...
I vaguely remember somebody calling me, but I gave them a better name to talk to, and thought that was the end of it. Turns out... nope... I'm in the article and didn't even know it.
• Angels! And so they're remaking Charlie's Angels, yet again. First there was the original TV show, then the Drew Barrymore films, then the awful TV show revival, and now yet another series of films...
Meh. Maybe. Seems like the main trio is a little low on star-power for a movie. Interesting that there are three actors for Bosley listed at IMDB: Patrick Stewart, Djimon Hounsou, and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs).
• Break! Okay... I am really liking this new show called Reef Break. I expected to like it just because Poppy Montgomery is the star of the series, but it's interesting and well-written on top of that...
I wish they would have just set it in Hawaii instead of some fictional island. But with Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. already there, maybe they were worried about Hawaii fatigue?
• Grand! I like an occasional dip into trashy television, which is why I was intrigued by Grand Hotel... the new ABC show Executive Produced by Eva Longoria...
The first two episodes are pretty decent. Full of mysteries, secrets, and intrigue. The problem is that shows like this usually blow all their best ideas early, then whither away as crappy new ideas are rotated in. I guess we'll see if this one has legs.
• Letterman! Tiffany Haddish, whom I fell in love with after seeing her hilarious role on The Last O.G., is on an episode of David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. She is absolutely fascinating. I had no idea the incredible obstacles she had to overcome to get where she is today... and she's done it all with a humor that is luminous...
Remarkable. I love shows like this.
• Design! Jony Ive, the industrial designer who helped Steve Jobs reinvigorate Apple with such gems as the iMac, is leaving the company to start his own design group. Apple claims that Ive will still have Apple as a client, so apparently he will still be a guiding force in the design of Apple's wares. And that sucks. Ive is so focused on making everything pretty and thin now-a-days that he has forgotten that computers need to be functional. The keyboard on Ive's latest MacBooks is fucking garbage. My hope was that Apple would bring in somebody who gives a shit that you can actually use their products. I guess that's not going to happen. At least not yet.
In another interesting move at Apple, they just hired ARM's lead CPU architect, Mike Filippo. The rumor is that Apple is switching from Intel to ARM as soon as next year. Given how well it's worked out when Apple started designing their own chips for iPhones, iPads, AirPods and the like, this is probably a good move.
• Green! The Oregon "Cap and Invest" bill that Republicans were hiding from this last week is a bit complex. When I was trying to understand what was happening, all the articles I read said that there would be minimal impact on Oregon businesses, because the money collected would go back into helping the same businesses who are having to buy "energy credits" reduce their energy needs or switch to greener options. So it's designed to be a win-win for everybody. There are questions as to whether that would actually be the case. It's not like the corner coffee shop is going to suddenly face insurmountable increases in energy costs... businesses have to be producing 25,000 metric tons of CO2 for it to affect them... but the smaller businesses supplied by larger businesses would have higher costs passed on to them until the energy needs/supply is balanced. That could be a problem (hopefully only in the short-run). It's not the business-destroying Armageddon-painted scenario Republicans are selling (they get loads of money from the energy lobby, remember), but it's also not the cake-walk Democrats are selling. As with most thing, the story is in-between. The only difference being that the fate of all humanity is on the line here. Green energy is the future. The sooner we embrace that, the less painful it will be.
And now... time to draw up plans for a week of fun in the sun. See you next Sunday.
Posted on Monday, July 1st, 2019
Okay... you've all seen my refrigerator.
There's nothing in it except soda, beer, salad dressings, condiments, and tons of cheese. I don't have a lot of food-stuffs in there because there's only myself and my cats in the house, and I usually end up freezing stuff instead so it doesn't go to waste. If I refrigerate something, it just sits there until it eventually spoils, because there's only so much food I can eat...
And yet... when I opened it this morning it smelled like a fish had died in it. Which is odd, because I don't eat fish. Tonight when I got home it was STILL reeking like low tide. And so I took absolutely everything out and did a smell test. Perhaps one of my cream cheeses went bad? But no. Everything smelled fine. UNTIL I GOT TO THE BAKING SODA! YOU KNOW, THE STUFF YOU PUT IN THE REFRIGERATOR TO KEEP IT FROM SMELLING?!? HOLY CRAP! Arm & Hammer are on my list now, buddy!
It's weird how this could happen because I buy baking soda in bulk (it's useful for SO many things) and my house reminds me to change the baking soda in my refrigerator every four months!
The stuff that started smelling awful was just under 3 months old!
Which begs the question... can baking soda go bad?
I changed out the Arm & Hammer in my refrigerator, so I guess we'll find out.
Posted on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
I've been consumed with work for the past week and will continue to be consumed by it until the holiday. It's just that time of year.
This is tough for a number of reasons, but mostly because I have no life outside of work for the month of June. About all I get to do is occasionally look through my Facebook feed and see how the other half live.
Today as I was waiting for a project to render so I could move on to the next project, I was scrolling through Facebook and happened across a photo of David Farrier and a cat...
Photo by David Farrier on Facebook
Somehow this awesome cat staring back at me was just what I needed after yet another very bad day. It also inspired me to revisit David Farrier's Netflix show: Dark Tourist.
I mentioned a while ago that Dark Tourist has my favorite opening credits of all time...
If you're interested in the show (and you should be!), here's a trailer...
At least now I have something to watch as I work through the night tonight.
Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019
I think I've finally taken care of all the donations from my friend Grant's estate. Medical supplies dropped at a shelter. Bandages and medical tape put in storage so I can add them into AnySoldier.com care packages. And some of Grant's stuff that was going to his friends has been shipped.
My inheritance from Grant consisted of three 2-liter bottles of Coke Zero (since drank) and a cash box (cash not included). Grant's executor was kind enough to give me the box so I could store my foreign currency collection in it... and it works great! Much nicer than the cardboard box I was keeping it in!
So thank you for the box, sir. I still miss you muchly.
Interesting to note that inside that cardboard box was something I was not expecting to find...
My very first earring!
Back in the 80's I wanted my ear pierced in the worst possible way, but my parents wouldn't endorse it... AT ALL. So I waited until I went skydiving. I figured they would be so happy that I survived that they wouldn't mind that I had an earring! Not so much. But they were pretty good about ignoring it for the seven(?) years I had it.
This replaced the stud you get when they shoot your ear with that piercing gun (something I would never use again, now that I am smarter about piercing). Little golden hoops were what the style was at the time (circa 1986 I think?) so that's what I got. This was a cheap-o hoop that came in a set of two for $5 or something. I didn't want to spend a lot of money because I didn't know how long I'd want my ear pierced.
I wore it for probably a year... maybe a year-and-a-half... until I replaced it with a better quality hoop. By then I figured that I'd have my ear pierced forever, so why not invest in something that wouldn't turn my ear green?
Eventually the tiny little hoops went out of style. Which means I probably wore it for another 3 years after that.
Then one day I woke up, decided I was done with it, and threw my earring in the trash.
I've toyed with the idea of getting my ear(s) pierced again just for the hell of it. But I think I'm good. After I started getting tattoos, it just felt like it would be redundant.
That's okay though. I'm undoubtedly too old for this kind of stuff anyway.
Posted on Thursday, July 4th, 2019
I'm finding it even harder than last year to find something to celebrate today. Lately it seems that everything I love about my country is in our past.
And just when I think The United State of America has reached rock bottom, our government finds new depths to sink to. The latest? Our dictator wannabe president and his stupid-ass military parade. Which was always pathetic and sad, but reached new depths of heinousness when it was revealed that our National Parks had to pony up $2.5 million out of the entrance fees they collect to maintain the parks. Which means we're giving up much needed maintenance of parks that everybody can enjoy to roll out our big guns and stroke the ego of one man with a tiny, wee little penis...
"Military displays like this are a favorite tactic of those who want to wrap themselves in the symbols of who we are rather than really celebrating who we are. This fits into this larger, troubling trend of identifying America itself as a military state. The Fourth of July in America should be about so much more than our military and our ability to fight off the rest of the world.” — Army Major Jason Dempsey (retired).
And you just know that this $2.5 million isn't the end of it. Millions more will be spent for something so unfathomably asinine as to be fucking laughable.
But what's really disgusting is the idea that Clownface VonFuckstick will be passing out V.I.P. tickets to big Republican Party donors...
"This looks like it’s becoming much more of a Republican Party event — a political event about the president — than a national celebration of the Fourth of July, and it’s unfortunate to have the military smack dab in the middle of that.” Army Lt. Gen. David Barno (retired).
“The president is using the armed forces in a political ploy for his reelection campaign and I think it’s absolutely obscene” — Army Maj. Gen. William Nash (retired), a veteran of Vietnam, the Gulf War and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.
And that's where we're at. The United States of America is a for-profit enterprise for the sole benefit of its insecure leader who needs a big parade to feel loved. A leader who idolizes the likes of Vladimir Putin. Kim Jong Un, and Mohammed bin Salman... a horrific collection of murderers known to commit grotesque human rights violations.
How the fuck am I supposed to be celebrating my country when those who run it are garbage? People who claim to be celebrating our military... but then dictate what our military is allowed to say on a holiday celebrating our freedoms...
From Mother Jones... Pentagon Guidance to Troops in Trump’s July 4th Event: Say I Love My Tank
Perhaps I can celebrate that 565 days from now... 13573 hours from now... 814401 minutes from now... 48864067 seconds from now... President Trump's term will be over and somebody else can fuck up the country for a while. Hopefully somebody who won't need to spend millions upon millions of dollars on a fucking parade so they can feel special.
Or, more likely, the Democrats will be fucking idiots again and we'll have four more years of Trump bankrupting the country like he's bankrupted everything else he touches.
And I won't be the least bit surprised.
Just disappointed. Again.
Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2019
I just finished a big project at work that's been consuming my every waking moment for weeks. A part of me is anxious to move on and start on something new (heaven only knows there's enough to be done), but there's a part of me that wants so badly to do nothing at all. Just for a little while.
Good thing I'm on vacation for a week...
Maybe if I wasn't so exhausted I'd be motivated to do something, but I'm really just not.
Posted on Saturday, July 6th, 2019
Apparently I had some motivation in me after all?
Today was so beautiful out that I ended up floating the river with friends instead of lounging around the house doing nothing.
Though laying on a floatie drinking booze and letting the river take you is pretty close to nothing...
At the end of our float, there was a couple with their too-cute dogs out enjoying the sun. One of the pups was tuckered out and decided to take a nap under a cap...
But this is Caturday and not Dogurday, so back to the usual feline madness that Saturday brings...
I ended up having to leave the post-float party early because I have ghosts...
Asking Jenny to go close the door had no effect.
Behind my house is a big field filled with dandelions that have gone to seed. So leaving the door open like that will guarantee that dandelion fluff will fill my living room if I don't take care of it, so off I went.
Whenever I have guests staying over, my cats cower upstairs in my storage closet until everybody goes to bed... then they come out and goof around until everybody wakes up and they hide upstairs again. This morning poor Jake was lounging in the catio and didn't make it upstairs before we were all awake. This is the look on his face when he realized he was "trapped" in the catio until we all left for the day...
He didn't have to wait long, but enjoyed staring at us from behind the safety of my massive pole...
I have tried many, many times to get my cats so they are not afraid of people. It never works. After a few days Jake might come wandering out for a minute if it's quiet and calm, but he's completely scared and on edge the entire time. Jenny won't even think about it. This makes me terrified as to how my cats will manage if I'm in some kind of horrible accident. Will anybody want to adopt them if they are this frightened? Are there kind souls who are patient and caring with a feral rescue who's terrified of people? I sure hope so.
Of course, just getting ready for guests is an adventure unto itself. I try to get everything cleaned up and organized, but this is never easy. "Oh, you just made the bed? Here, let me get on that, even though I haven't been on the bed in weeks...
And now, as I retire on this fine Caturday, I leave you with this...
Oh. And this...
Cats are the best.
Posted on Sunday, July 7th, 2019
It's a glorious day to be alive... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
Seeing as how Mississippi ranks 49th out of the 50 states in education. Perhaps it's understandable that their state government thinks the populace is TOO FUCKING STUPID TO KNOW THAT A VEGGIE BURGER ISN'T MADE FROM A COW. But are they smart enough to know that a veggie dog isn't made from a dog or do hot dogs confuse them too?
• Ski! Somehow I missed this excellent short video on Jim Niehues, the guy responsible for painting so many of those ski run posters you see at all the resorts...
• Dreaming! Any comic book series is going to have its ups and downs. A series which had less downs than usual was Neil Gaiman's Sandman. A complete reimagining of the cheesy DC Comics character...
My favorite thing to come out of the series was Sandman's sister, Death, as she appeared in the mini-series spin-offs by Gaiman Chris Bachalo...
Death: The High Cost of Living is easily one of my all-time favorite comic books.
And now comes the news that Netflix has commissioned a Sandman TV show. Despite the fact that Gaiman himself will be involved, I am more than a little nervous. The series seems all but unfilmable given the visual language of Sandman's world. And the stories are wildly tied to the medium they were created for, and I question how well they will translate to television. I hope it's good. I hope Death makes an appearance...
"A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. Fearful for his safety, the wizard kept him imprisoned in a glass bottle for decades. After his escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power."
• German! I ran across one of my favorite Trevor Noah's Between the Scenes the other day...
I mean, they're all good... but his wit is at its sharpest here.
• Mermaids! Disney has found their latest live-action princess when they cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. She's incredibly talented and I know of her from appearing in Grown-ish (the TV spin-off from Black-ish)...
Photo by Evan Agostini
Disney, being the savvy company they are, cast who they felt was best for bringing the character to life... regardless of race. She's a Grammy nominee, for heaven's sake. But of course the bigot brigade is all #NotMyAriel because the idea of a fictional half-fish girl being played by a Person of Color is just too much for their tiny brains to process. Time will tell If Bailey will make a good Ariel. Personally I am trusting Disney on this. But holy crap... give the young woman a chance! They haven't even started filming yet! I sure hope she isn't bothered by all this nonsense.
• Plus Plus! Speaking of Disney... as if the Marvel and Star Wars series in development weren't enough reason to compel me to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service when it debuts later this year, now they've got a new series called Life and Deaf in development with one of my all-time favorite actors, Marlee Matlin. Somebody at Disney is very, very serious about competing with Netflix!
Have a great Sunday!
Posted on Monday, July 8th, 2019
I have had Hinterland on my Netflix watch-list for a long time. Tonight I finally watched the first episode of the first series.
It's fantastic. Mostly due to the remarkable performance of lead Richard Harrington. You can feel the wheels turning any time he's on screen...
Granted, I'm only half-way through the first season, but I'm sure liking this show. The atmosphere they've created permeates every scene so the series feels more "real" than most.
What's interesting about this show (other than how good it's been) is that every scene is filmed twice... once in English and once in Welsh (which is called "Cymraeg" in the Welsh language). I did a YouTube search to watch some of the Cymraeg scenes and it's amazing how all these actors have to essentially perform the same show twice. And since Hinterland looks so grueling and demanding of the actors, I can't imagine how difficult that must be...
I'm sure they use all kinds of tricks to make the show affordable. In the scene above where he destroys a kitchen, for example, they were careful to make sure there was no dialogue so they only had to shoot it once. If he had said "I hate my life!" while smashing the dishes, they would have had to buy all new dishes, clean the set, then reset the scene so he could say "Rwy'n casáu fy mywyd!" for the Welsh version.
Here's the trailer in Welsh...
I first learned about Wales and the Welsh language in anticipation of my visit to the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe in Cardiff (Caerdydd). Cymraeg is a fascinating language which is estimated to be spoken by less than a million people around the globe. Most people have probably only ever heard of it on viral YouTube videos where people are pronouncing very long Welsh words...
Before wrapping up this post, I'd be remiss if I didn't post a link to one of my favorite comedy bits by Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert...
Happy Monday, everybody!
Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019
Yesterday morning I spent my vacation working.
Clearly I am doing my vacation all wrong and need to change things up.
So yesterday afternoon I spent my vacation drinking blueberry margaritas...
...then making an impulse decision to go floating down the river with friends again. It's just such a relaxing way to spend a lazy summer day...
The river is getting really low in spots, so I spent a good chunk of my time lifting my butt so I wasn't dragging on the riverbed...
It was a nice day, and ducks were out everywhere...
As the sun started falling, it got to be pretty shivery. Having your butt in cold water with cool breezes is fine when the sun is warming you... not so fine when it's not. By the time we made landfall, I was a popsicle.
And then my cold, dead heart was warmed watching a momma duck with her four babies...
The little ones move so fast they were almost impossible to photograph...
That poor mom had her wings full, I tell you. Two of her babies would go one way... two would go another way... then she'd have to run back and forth until she had them all corralled. It's a tough job. But she was up to the task.
That's pretty good vacationing, isn't it?
Which is why I didn't feel quite so bad that today I spent half the day working, then cut my hair, cleaned my house, and paid my bills.
I did go swimming in the late afternoon though, so I guess it's all good.
Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2019
I cannot seem to catch a break on this vacation thing. This morning a full city maintenance crew started working in front of my house AT SIX FORTY IN THE FUCKING A.M.! At the time I have no clue what in the hell they are doing, but it's so noisy that the cats wouldn't even come out to eat breakfast.
Why do I even bother taking a vacation if I can't sleep in and have to go to work all the time?
After me and my houseguest got up to start our day, we quickly figured out why The City was making so much noise so early in the morning.
The water was out.
Yes, please feel free to make noise at any time of the day or night to restore water service. I am perfectly okay with that!
Especially since I had a doctor's appointment today. I spent yesterday afternoon in a pool and would prefer not to smell like chlorine, sweat, and laziness while I'm being examined by a doctor who deserves much better than that.
Lucky me, the water was restored in time for me to take a shower, wash some clothes, and get on with my life.
And now? A drive over the mountains so my real vacation can start...
Happy hump-day, everybody!
Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2019
Today was the first day I've felt like I'm actually on vacation. I mean, sure I answered a few work emails and made a few work calls... but I didn't do any actual "work" the entire day. That's exceedingly rare.
One of the things I did do was accompany my grand-nephew to Everett's Imagine Interactive Children's Museum. Sometimes these things end up being pretty janky, but this one was actually very cool. Plenty of imaginative exhibits to keep kids entertained for hours. Like an air-tube exhibit where you can see how air-flow can be used to push a scarf through some clear pipes...
Young kids won't get the air pressure science that's being demonstrated... but they sure have fun chasing down those scarves! Pretty slick. Though I guess nobody at the museum has ever heard of a fart before...
It's a museum built for kids, but no worries... the adults were able to have fun as well...
I got to be a chef with plastic food...
I got to play with glow-in-the-dark puzzle pieces...
I got to milk a giant plastic cow...
I got to shoot water-guns at balls...
I got to play with wooden monkeys...
I got to build some interesting architectural structures...
And I also got to watch kids go nuts at the rooftop play-space, which is pretty great...
They even have a dinosaur dig!
Kids absolutely love this place and, if you've got young ones and are in the Snohomish County region, it's worth a visit.
An aside here... I was surprised that they allow you to take photos inside the place. I was careful not to get kids in my shots and, for those photos where kids were in them, to never photograph their faces. I'm pretty sure most people who were snapping away with their mobile phones were not so careful, and this raises some privacy concerns. Yes in this day and age you can pretty much be photographed anywhere at any time but, in a space that's exclusively meant for children, you'd think that it would be in everybody's best interest if photography was not allowed? I dunno. Perhaps I'm just overly paranoid.
Though the paranoia may not be entirely my fault.
There are statues with creepy eyes right out in front, so the museum kinda puts you in a paranoid state before you even step inside the place...
It's a nice enough artwork, but the white eyes make grandpa look like a pervy child predator or something. And is it just me, or does the little girl look like she's possessed by demons?
Probably just the paranoia again. I should probably look into that.
Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019
And so there was an earthquake near me early, early this morning. I was semi-awake at the time and thought that somebody had dropped something heavy in the kitchen above me. I didn't really think much of it until I woke up and saw the news.
The epicenter of the 4.6 magnitude quake was at Three Lakes, which is about 15 miles from where I'm staying...
Earthquake Map by the USGS
This should probably be cause for concern, given the earthquakes that have been hitting California lately. Maybe the Pacific Ring of Fire is getting ready to blow? I guess we're all doomed.
Of course I checked on my cats to see if they noticed.
I don't know if they were able to sense it, but they were definitely active. At the time of the quake, Jake went running to the stairwell and started staring up there...
A couple minutes later, Jake left and Jenny ran downstairs...
After that they just kinda wandered around until sunrise. This is fairly odd, because usually they're sleeping...
But no worries. I'm sure they will make up for it by sleeping all day.
Unfortunately the West Coast is not alone in natural disasters. I've been gutted seeing the photos of the flooding that has hit New Orleans due to Tropical Storm Barry. My favorite American city can't seem to catch a break.
And neither can I. I'm Heading back home a day early to get to an appointment I had to make yesterday. For my next vacation I'm hoping to be air-dropped into a place with no internet and no mobile phone service.
No people would be icing on the cake.
Posted on Saturday, July 13th, 2019
I was only away for two nights, but my cats seemed more bothered than usual by my absence. This has me a bit concerned for my upcoming travel. Fortunately, I have security cameras everywhere to look in while I'm gone and can call a neighbor if they need help... but since they are so afraid of strangers, that would probably just add to their anxiety.
Which is the reason I don't hire a cat-sitter any more. Jake and Jenny just run and hide, so what difference does it make? Unless I'm going to be gone long enough that the Litter-Robot will need emptying, it's probably better to just let them be.
Heaven only knows I wouldn't want to interrupt their busy day of sleeping and lounging in the catio...
Surprisingly, despite how hot it's been out, bot my cats are still spending a lot of time in the catio. During the day, it's for napping and bird-watching...
Or just watching me while I work...
As the sun sets, it becomes all about catching bugs (yuck) and eating bugs (double-yuck).
Here's Jenny observing a bug before Jake literally pushes her off the perch...
It's hard to tell from the camera angle... but I was watching it happen, and Jake absolutely put his paw around her and shoved her off while she was leaning over.
Jake seems to like poking and pushing Jenny for no reason other than his own amusement...
Fortunately, Jenny is not shy about poking back when she's had enough of Jake's crap. You can see in the above photo what she looks like juuuuuuust before she's about ready to snap.
Fortunately, my cats mostly get along, so the poking is kept to a minimum.
And so long as they're not poking me, it's all good.
Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2019
I'd rather be anywhere else today, but escape is not in the cards... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• MADness! It was announced this past week that MAD magazine will end its original-content run with the August 2019 issue. After that, it's all reprints with new covers that will only be available by subscription or in comic shops. Despite not having picked up an issue in years, this is more than a little sad to me, because MAD was a huge part of my past. I bought occasional issues in the latter-half of the 1970's, but became a MAD addict after the December 1978 issue (the Star Wars musical parody issue)...
I purchased every single issue from No. 203 through No. 250, at which time I went back to only buying issues that had material I was interested in. I also purchased every reprint book I could get my hands on, scouring the local News Agency to obtain as many as I could find by my favorite MAD contributors... like Al Jaffe, Sergio Aragonés, Don Martin, and Dave Berg... and, of course, Antonio Prohías, who was the guy behind Spy vs. Spy. It's not just my favorites that are burned into my brain... contributors like Mort Drucker, Dick DeBartolo, and Jack Davis did a huge amount of work for the magazine and were a big influence on how I saw the world.
• Mushu? A gorgeous trailer dropped for the live-action version of Mulan...