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.