Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2020
With television production shut down and the new television season pushed back for the foreseeable future, I've been turning to YouTube for entertainment while I work. There's just so much to experience. And since everybody else is probably in the same boat with running out of stuff to watch, I thought I'd go through some of my favorite YouTube channels that I watch regularly. I did this a while ago but wanted to update after I learned that Great Big Story is shutting down.
Channels I watch because I want to learn something. There are so many brilliant educational channels that it blows my mind, and I'm regularly linking to them in my Bullet Sunday posts. When I'm alerted that Veritasium has a new video available, I drop everything and watch immediately. Derek Muller breaks down science like nobody else, and his latest video is the kind of stuff I obsessess over...
Channels I watch because I just think what they do is so fascinating. Baumgartner Restoration is just video after video of Julian Baumgartner restoring fine art... mostly paintings. That alone would be amazing to me. But it's the things he develops to be able to do the work that blows my mind out of the back of my skull. He did a SIX PART SERIES on restoring a painting which was painted on wood. But before he even got to the point where he was working on the actual paiting, he had to use his engineering and fabricating skills to build a special table to do it...
Baumgartner is like some kind of renaissance guy who can do everything. And he has one of the most soothing voices and most agreeable personalities of anybody I've ever seen. There are few things I can watch which will calm my mind faster than Julian working on his latest project. Another brilliant channel for watching somebody make magic happen? My Little Bakery is filled with Nadia's incredible icing artistry and has to be seen to be believed. I mean...
Another fascinating thing to watch is Calligraphy Masters which was originally for learning calligraphy, but also features beautiful lettering art I can't get enough of. And then there's the cool stuff that Mark Rober does, which is about as fascinating as it gets.
Channels I watch because I love woodworking and home reno. My favorite hobby is working in my garage wood shop and doing my own home renovation. YouTube has been invaluable in learning how to do all this stuff. The channel I look at first is always Home RenoVision DIY where Jeff will give you all the dirt on how to get professional results from your projects and save money while doing it...
Another person doing God's work for learning renovation and home improvement is skateboarder Ben De Gros at Vancouver Carpenter. For pure woodworking, Peter Millard is another great channel. And I love Fix This Build That as well.
Channels I watch because I want to keep up on tech. My favorite tech blogger is Marques Brownlee. The guy is smart as hell, has a subtle funny streak that makes him fully relatable. He reviews the stuff you want to see, but doesn't get bogged down in too many details nobody cares about. I didn't see his Apple Watch Series 6 video before I bought mine, but I was livid when I finally got to see it because HE HAS THE WATCH I WANTED TO BUILD THAT APPLE WOULDN'T LET ME! A Project RED watch with a black band...
Marques may not want a red watch... BUT I DID! Except I couldn't get it with a black band. =sigh= If you're looking to majorly geek out to tech, Linus Tech Tips has been around forever and sometimes goes reeeeeally deep into the nuts and bolts of it all. And then there's Unbox Therapy, which is exactly what it says in the title.
Channels I watch because I want ideas for new things to cook. But many of them I watch because I just like to watch cooking channels. Especially foreign cooking channels where you can turn on auto-translated subtitles and see how masters of their craft work. Like De mi Rancho a Tu Cocina...
And if you love pasta, the artistry found on Pasta Grannies is remarkable...
Channels I watch because I want to be more informed on Current Events. All media is biased. All of it! but when you recognize their biases you can use that to expand how you see the world. I'm not saying I'm going to watch Far-Right assholes or Far-Left assholes... that's just torture. But I'll tune into channels by those on the Right or Left if I think that they have something to actually say on a subject and aren't just parroting extremist talking points and don't consider their views to be above the facts. David Pakman is highly opinionated towards the Left, but not beyond all reason. Somebody who is labeled as Right, claims to be more Left, but strives to ride down the middle and distill information wherever it lands, is Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan gets a lot of hate from both sides, some of which is justified, but he has thoughtful commentary and does a really good interview. Here he is with Pakman and some fantastic discussion that really needs to happen...
There was another interview with Pakman which was equally good and equally important from this year (and highly disturbing in hindsight). Seriously. Tune into that.
Sure, Rogan skates on the edge of conspiracy theory sometimes, but the guy got me to change my mind on Bernie Sanders, and that ain't nothin'...
I love that there are conversations which can make me look at a person or an event or an ideology in a different way... or even change my mind. Joe Rogan's show is really good at this kind of thing. Even though I definitely don't always agree with him or his guests, I keep watching.
Channels I watch because I want to challenge how I see and live. I know that Russel Brand can be problematic. The guy has some views which I consider to be naive, impractical, and just plain bonkers. And yet... he is one of the smartest, most caring, most insightful humans on this planet. And he's hilarious. And it's because of this that I tune into every one of his videos. A third of the time I have to bail because the discussion is not something I'm interested in exploring with him, but the other two-thirds? Fascinating stuff. Take this short 12-minute video where he discusses the presidential "debate" fiasco we just endured...
Yep. Yep. Yep. I mean, Russel is more "big picture /slash/ in the grand scheme of things" here than he might should be... if you believe in a woman's right to choose (to throw out one example) then there is a huge difference between President Trump and Joe Biden getting elected. But is he wrong that our political system is primarily interested in self-preservation over addressing the needs of a diverse population and that the big-picture items won't change much because it's all run by people who only care about money? Fuck yes, he's right. Or, to be more accurate, he's not wrong. And it's not just politics and the hideous crap going on in the world today. Russell has a number of videos on self-help and personal growth that can be inspiring and helpful. Another channel along these lines is Rich Roll. It's not like he's going to convince me to adopt a 100% plant-based diet or become an endurance athlete, but Rich has some very good insight on living a healthier, most enlightened life and I enjoy hearing his thoughts.
Channels I watch because I want to see people being human. It's really easy to get disassociated from humanity even when there's not a pandemic. It's not good for us. It's not healthy for us. It's not fun for us. But it happens. So there are a few channels I subscribe to simply because I like to watch and feel more connected to people. Yes Theory is a good example. The crew there do things and go places and ponder ideas that are just so very... human, and I love to see it. Take a look at this video where Thomas visits the least-visited country on earth to see what I'm talking about...
God I love videos like this. How can you not? The crew's latest video is where they paid somebody to be their friend for 12 hours. The result was wonderful...
And there you have it! Some of my favorite YouTube sites! And I didn't even get to those sites that I watch just to be entertained. I guess that's a list for another time.
Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2020
The world won't slow down even for a minute and it's so overwhelming that it's getting tough to know where to turn, what to do, where to go... and how to feel.
I didn't realize exactly how bad it had gotten until I tuned into the season finale of Ted Lasso and felt like bursting into tears two minutes in. As good and inspiring and hopeful as the show is... and it is 100% the best show of 2020... it's just ridiculous that a frickin' TV series should have that kind of effect on a person, right?
Maybe not. Because it ended up being one of the most sublimely perfect episodes to air on the silver screen in the history of television, and you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel like bursting into tears at least ten times while watching it.
A bright spot in the pile of shit that is 2020 to be sure.
As for the rest?
Well... as tempted as I am to show President Trump and his Now-Revealed-to-be-Equally-Horrendous-First-Lady the exact same lack of concern and dismissive attitude that they have afforded the 200,000+ American citizens who have died from COVID-19 or COVID-19-related complications, I'd like to think I'm a better person than that. Because all I can think about is their fourteen-year-old son who has done nothing to deserve losing a parent... or contracting the virus himself... being yet another victim here. His dad may be blaming everything on China when he was ultimately the one to address how we dealt with a global pandemic, but what does Barron have to do with that? Was he the one to say "Hey, dad... I know that countries like Italy have been completely overwhelmed with death and destruction from the coronavirus and you might think we should be acting quickly to make sure it doesn't happen here... but can you instead lie to everybody and tell them it's a hoax that will disappear without us doing anything so that your billionaire friends have their stock investments protected at the expense of American lives?"
Of course not.
So, no. I absolutely do not wish death or harm on anybody here. Instead I'll just say "Best wishes for a speedy recovery Mr. President and First Lady Melania! I'm sure the exceptional round-the-clock health care afforded you both by your wealth and position will ensure you are safe as houses... even though it's a shame that you are doing everything you can to strip even the most basic healthcare from a great many American citizens whose lives you hold in your hands during this crisis."
Well, okay... maybe I do wish that President Trump loses his sense of taste and smell so he can't enjoy all that KFC and McDonald's that he eats... the asshole deserves it after what he's done to this country... but he's a human being like the rest of us and deserves compassion and our best wishes.
Not much of a human being, admittedly, but still... we're all in this together. GO TEAM AMERICA... BREAK!
Posted on Saturday, October 3rd, 2020
I cannot win with my cats.
In order to climatize them to the absurdly stupid tradition of changing the clocks twice a year, I always move the time in small increments the month prior to the change so it's not a shock to them. As you can imagine, the Fall is far, far more difficult because I am serving their meals progressively later. They do not like this. I get stared at with evil looks because they want their breakfast when they want their breakfast...
Usually when the feeder goes off? They bolt downstairs to scarf their little mid-day meal. But now? They just lay there glaring at me like food is the worst thing in the universe... then eventually saunter downstairs to begrudgingly eat.
I apologize to them, even though I hate Daylight Saving nonsense more than they ever could.
The time change (15 minutes a week for four weeks) has had a domino effect... ramping up the disdain for even thr smallest inconveniences. Take Jenny wanting to get into the laundry room, for example. The door is tough to open and close. Which is why I leave it open just a bit while washing clothes so it's easier to slide. Sometimes I leave it open a bit too much and Jenny is able to force her way in. But this time I didn't leave it open enough and she was pissed that she couldn't get it open. Pissed...
Here she is preparing to unleash a meow of frustration like she's never done before...
There is a good thing about Fall arriving. I wake up every morning with Jake snuggled up to me. His favorite spot is behind my knees...
There are better ways to wake up.
But there are many, many worse way to wake up as well.
Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2020
Everybody's getting the COVID, but all news is not bad news... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Tiny! In addition to Ted Lasso, my favorite show of 2020 (or possibly any year ever) and The Long Way Up (another exceptional program), Apple TV+ has also released a new series called Tiny World...
Fascinating, fascinating stuff. Another homerun for Apple.
• Long! And speaking of The Long Way Up, the series just keeps getting better and better with each new episode. Ewan McGregor has absolutely zero ego in the three The Long Way... series. He never complains about the accommodations. He never complains about the food. He never complains about running into fans. He's just grateful to have a place to stay, something to eat, and people who are friendly towards him. Above all else, he's grateful for the opportunity to be able to experience the world. Contrast and compare to so many travel shows where people are relentless assholes about even the tiniest inconvenience. If you want all the comforts of home and are going to be raving assholes when you don't get it... STAY THE FUCK HOME! Needless to say, I give The Long Way Up my highest recommendation.
• Battle! How I missed this fantastic video with Lin-Manuel Miranda from 2009 is a complete mystery. I guess sometimes I am completely out of the loop with things...
How he does what he does so brilliantly is a mystery. Makes me want to watch Moana for the hundredth time.
• Subway? If you still eat at KidFuckers, you should know that they don’t build their sandwiches on bread... they build them on candy Which is probably all fast food joints, but that's why they taste so good.
• Yup! My brain in a nutshell...
I'm procrastinating cleaning my kitchen with this post!
• Vote! Okay... okay... it can't all be good news, right?
Democracy is under siege, but so long as it's happening to people you don't agree with it's okay, right? Politicians seem to think so. VOTER FRAUD IS EXCEEDINGLY RARE! But facts don't matter anymore, I guess.
And that's all I got this Sunday.
Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2020
For the longest time I believed everything you've likely heard about MSG. Causing headaches... being unhealthy... made of chemicals... blah blah blah... MSG is bad.
It's all (mostly) bullshit. MSG is none of those things. MSG is fucking great. And I've been cooking with it ever since I saw a video back in 2018 explaining how the backlash against it took hold in the USA. Turns out the bias against MSG was actually just anti-Asian xenophobic stigma. Something you might have guessed when the media dubbed it "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."
MSG is used in a bunch of foods we eat all the time... especially canned foods, snack foods, and fast foods... but since those are American foods, nobody seems to be getting "Campbell's Soup headaches" or "Doritos headaches" or "KFC headaches." MSG is also naturally occurring in foods like cheese. But you also don't hear about people getting a "mozzarella headache" either. And since it's manufactured by fermenting sugars, the process is no different than making vinegar, but somehow vinegar is okay to use and MSG is not?
Lord people are stupid. But that's racism for you.
I use MSG in everything from pizza sauce to potato salad. It just adds a little something extra to my cooking. A little more depth and body to the experience.
So if you've bought into the racist, xenophobic, and overall idiotic hype on the "dangers" of MSG as I once did... then you're missing out. Or you may be missing out. Some people (like me) think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Other people can't taste much of a difference (oh how I pity you). The most "balanced" look at MSG I could find is this...
MSG is pretty darn cheap. So there's not much to lose by giving it a try. EXCEPT PHENOMENAL FLAVOR!
And that original video which got me hooked on MSG in the first place is here...
Yara Elmjouie (from the Eat This with Yara video above) has some interesting takes on cuisine on his channel over at AJ+ (Al Jazeera Plus). If you're an open-minded foodie who can handle your cooking videos having a political slant, it's worth a look.
And, on that note, looks like it's time to start making dinner... probably with MSG added.
Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
Yesterday I was walking to work, wondering what new stuff I might get to see along the way... because there's always something.
From a distance, they just looked like little yellow bumps in a field. At first I thought it might be wild Pokémon, but as I got closer I saw that they were, in fact, pears. Dozens of rotting pears...
Not as exciting as Pokémon, but not something I see every day either.
Posted on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020
This Wednesday entry will not be posted on Wednesday.
I don't have internet. I don't have celular service. I am completely off the grid.
I remember an email being circulated at work last week which mentioned something about an outage from 10pm to 8am, but I didn't plan to be at work during those hours, so I didn't pay much attention. I received NO notification that my internet would be interrupted at home. If I had, I would have probably ignored that as well, because I can always use the data on my iPhone to reach the internet, right? Nope! Apparently AT&T's cellular tower in my small city uses the same internet as my work and home, so that's non-functional as well.
It's this last point that really pisses me off.
AT&T never told me that my mobile phone would be down tonight. I was never made aware that my phone service was internet-dependent. And it begs the question... what the fuck happens if I have an emergency and need to dial 9-1-1 for help? Well, I'll tell you exactly what happens... nothing!
How in the hell is it that a mobile carrier can be run through an internet connection? Internet connections can be flakey as hell, and phone service really can't afford to be flakey as hell. And when AT&T says that they've "built the best and fastest celular network" they really haven't... because if they had, I would still have fucking phone service!
And it gets better.
Since I have no television, no Alexa, no Amazon Music Unlimited, I thought I could just play the media on my Plex server. Nope again! For whatever reason, the server could be found by my laptop and iPhone, but Plex would not play video. After much wheel-spinning I could play music, but it took forever for the data to start streaming. My Plex clients have been told to use the local network, but they refuse to do it because they're constantly looking for an internet connection. And of course my AppleTV was useless despite being plugged directly into the same hub as my Plex Server because apparently it needs internet to even function.
This is all something I need to look into, because being able to access my media without internet access is why I bought Plex in the first place!
What a shitty night.
I suppose I'll just take sleeping pills and go to bed. What else is there?
Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2020
As I said for the ridiculous first presidential debate, I am not much caring about the debates, don't pay much attention to the debates, and find these weak-ass moderators who can't control a damn thing to be embarrassing. Seriously SCREAM THE FUCK OVER THESE ASSHOLES WHEN THEY WON'T RESPECT THE TIME LIMITS THAT THEY AGREED TO! Being a moderator is not fucking rocket science, and yet here we are.
The Vice Presidential Debate is something I try to give a shit about. But it's tough. I detest Pence, am not a fan of Harris, and am disgusted that they are my choices... but they get to sit behind the big desk if the president dies or cannot perform their duties, so I feel like I have to care.
Everything went exactly as I expected.
Kamala Harris was the kind of flip-flopping politician I despise. The only thing that I can credit her for is the extreme restraint she exhibited. She has to be calm and measured or else she'll be called an over-emotional woman. She has to be even-tempered or else she'll be called a raging bitch and labeled an "angry Black woman." There is literally no way for her to win with a great many people who feel that the office of the Vice President belongs to a white, heterosexual, straight, Christian man... but she has to do her best to at least not give them any ammunition to use against Joe Biden. So full marks there.
Mike Pence is a fucking dick, a monstrous hypocrite, and a lying asshole. Just listening to his bullshit is rage-inducing for me. He is the absolute worst, and the only reason I don't want President Trump removed is because then his disgusting ass would be in the Oval Office.
In order to keep from going into a complete meltdown over the crap coming out of their mouths... and to not rage because, once again, the moderator isn't worth a shit, I watched the debate with Jay Smooth. He had a camera on his sleeping cat while he offered commentary...
All I had to do was be all "Awwwww! Such a great cat!" and I managed to not throw a hammer at my television screen.
And then there's that fly that was all over Vice President Pence's head...
I haven't been going crazy about the fly on social media because it just seems so petty, but I will say this... Mike Pence uses his "Christian" religion as an excuse to persecute and disenfranchise people who don't align with his beliefs. He believes God is telling him to hate the LGBTQ community... to detest immigrants... to shun the poor... to do whatever he can to remove their protections and take away their rights. So when a fly lands on his head, it is tough not to apply HIS OWN THEOLOGY ON HIM. In The Bible, flies are a sign of everything evil. So it's not about what I think the fly represents... I don't care. It's what PENCE thinks the fly represents that matters. He should be taking this as a sign from God that he's an evil thing that is to be shunned. A wicked, wretched, horrible thing that should be condemned. And if the fly had landed on Kamala Harris, you can bet all the money in your pockets that this is what Pence's far-Right "Christian" base would think about her. "It's a sign from God that's she's evil!" So not hyperbole, because they do crap like that ALL THE TIME.
And what would I think if the fly had landed on Kamala Harris? NOTHING. She's not using her faith as a weapon against people like Pence is, so the fly has zero meaning there. It's just a fly, not a symbol of a terrible evil, and her base wouldn't give it another thought.
It's strange though. With all the wacky conspiracy theories that revolve around "signs" and "numerology" and "hidden messages" and crap like that... how is it that I haven't seen the most obvious? The word "Pestilence" has "Pence" right in the name! And he's apparently Lord of the Flies too. It's just so apt. Because he actually is a destructive, infectious, devastating plague on this country and always has been.
Which is not saying a lot. As politicians, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are a plague on this country too. But at least they don't seem to be weaponizing their religion against the American people. And since they are the only other option, I begrudgingly have no choice but to give them my vote.
And yet... it doesn't take a lot of effort for me to remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil. But, alas, so long as all we got left in this horrific two-party system is quantifying...
Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2020
Phenomenally gifted musician Eddie Van Halen died this past Tuesday at the age of 65.
As I seem to do any time somebody passes away at a younger age than my mom, I immediately count my blessings that I had her for as long as I did. She died at 73, which still seems awfully young, but it's eight years more than Eddie's son had. Had my mom died in 2009, there would have been no Disney cruise through the Mediterranean... no cruise through the Panama Canal... no trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos... no trip to Africa... not to mention countless other memories I have from that precious time I got with my mom that Wolfgang Van Halen did not get with his dad. And my heart is crushed for him thinking about it. Though I'm sure he probably feels lucky he got the time he did when he thinks about those who lost a parent even younger than Eddie.
All this was weighing on my mind this morning when I was getting ready for work. So I took a half hour to look through the travel books I made for my mom from our trips together. I haven't thumbed through them in over a year because it was just too painful. But now? Still painful... but not so much that I have a total melt-down just taking them off the shelf. Now they're just page after page of fantastic memories that I am overwhelmingly grateful to have had. I got to travel the world with my mom... how cool is that?
On the afore-mentioned Disney cruise through the Mediterranean in 2010, one of the ports of call was Civitavecchia, Italy. This was the stop for an hour-long drive into Rome. Since we had been to Rome three times prior, I asked if she wanted to hang out on the ship instead of heading into the city. She, of course, wanted to see Rome again. Not only was she adventurous like that, but I am fairly certain it was one of her favorite places on earth. Never one to pass up an opportunity to eat at Alfredo alla Scrofa, my favorite restaurant in the world, I made the arrangements and off we went...
On the bus-ride I asked what she wanted to do in Rome besides lunch and the only thing she said was that she wanted to go The Colosseum. For whatever reason, she loves the thing, and we ended up going every time she was in The Eternal City...
I thought it might be fun for her to toss another coin in the Trevi Fountain. It's said that if you have your back to the fountain and toss a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder, you are guaranteed another trip to Rome. She did this our first trip together and here we were on our fourth, so it must work, right? Here she is trying to figure out which hand you use over which shoulder. If there were an audio recording you'd hear me saying "Other shoulder, mom!"
Alas, we never made it back to Rome again, but I'd hardly blame it on the fountain since it worked really well that first time.
With hours left to kill we went to The Vatican. I had never been on the roof of St. Peter's Basilica, so I thought we might as well take a look rather than getting lost wandering in areas I wasn't familiar with. But before that we went inside to kill more time. The church is stunning in a way the vast majority of architectural structures are not, so you simply can't see enough of it. My favorite thing there is Michelangelo's Pietà, one of the most sublimely beautiful works of art you'll ever see. It depicts Mary holding her son Jesus after the crucifixion...
I was explaining to my mom that Michelangelo was just 23 years old when he started work on it, and the piece was considered controversial because he depicted Mary as a young woman instead of somebody far older as had been customary. This has always been fascinating to me, and I noted that her face wasn't contorted in anguish because this would add creases and folds that would age her. My mom nodded and replied "She still looks sad to me." When I told her that I thought Mary looked more serene in her grief than sad, mom said "But she does look sad. She may be the mother of God, but she's still a mother who's lost her son. How else could she look?"
And there's no debating that. I was looking with my eyes... my mom was looking with her heart. She tended to do that a lot. Probably because it was a talent she had baked-in. I, on the other hand, have to work at it.
But not when thumbing through my mom's travel photo books. Looking with my heart is all there is.
Rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen. Your music was a voice for the generations.
Posted on Saturday, October 10th, 2020
As Summer turns into Fall and bugs start trying to find a way inside to escape the cold, Jake and Jenny are going full-out bonkers. Bugs are like Pokémon to them, and they are compelled to Gotta Catch 'Em All.
The madness was on full display when Jenny started chasing a fly that found its way inside. She was happily batting it in the window... chasing it to another window... and generally having a good ol' time.
But then Jake came running in and things escalated to 11 in a real hurry. He was in Beast Mode and Jenny was having none of it. She ended up hiding from his mad dashes inside the cat scratcher lounger...
Poor thing. It was her fly first!
Speaking of Jake...
Used to be that Jenny was the one who would come up meowing when she was demanding to be petted. Now Jake is getting in on the action. He can't meow, but he can squawk. Earlier this week he hopped up on the bed, flopped on his back, then squawked until he got belly scratches...
Ahhhh... that's the stuff.
After he was done, he wandered off content.
FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES!
Then he was back to take a nap...
And, yes, this is his default sleeping position now.
If only I could lay around in bed all day like this. Must be nice.
Posted on Sunday, October 11th, 2020
Time to make time to be kind as the world crumbles around us... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Lume! If we are COVID-controlled by the time The Lume's immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibit comes to the Newfields Museum in Indianapolis, I'm so there. Van Gogh is my most favorite painter, and I suffered through an episode of the abysmal Emily in Paris (on Netflix) just to look at this exhibit from when it was in Paris...
Kinda shocked that this hasn't been to Amsterdam. That would be a much better fit for the experience given that this is where the Van Gogh Museum is located!
• Free! As a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, I've been looking forward to the movie Free Guy... and my anticipation just kicked up a notch with the latest trailer...
From what I've read, there's already a sequel in development because Ryan Reynolds loved the movie so much. No clue if movie studios are even going to be in the business of making films now that movie theaters are shuttering and attendance is plummeting where theaters are open. Heaven only knows I'd rather bypass theaters since the experience is so shity now-a-days... even without COVID-drenched audiences in tow.
• Trek! The final episode of the new Trek cartoon show, Star Trek: Lower Decks came out and I still don't know what to make of it. It's too adult for kids, but it lacks biting stories to appeal to adults. It aims to be funny, but doesn't have big laughs thanks to lazy comedy tropes. And I while I guess this can exist along-side the Star Trek shows and movies... it seems an odd fit since it is essentially a parody of Trek and doesn't really go anywhere except within it's own bubble. The finale had Riker and Troi in it, but not really...
Oh well. I did find the show entertaining enough to keep watching. I would not be made about there being a second season. I just hope they push it a little harder to make it stand out in the world of Star Trek instead of recede like it's doing now.
• Diagnosis! President Trump catching COVID is hardly surprising. He holds super-spreader events, doesn't practice social-distancing, rarely wears a mask, and regularly hangs out with people who are proudly proclaiming their ignorance when it comes to the coronavirus. It was only a matter of time. And THEN... once he got it he was given every conceivable treatment for mild symptoms... treatment that "regular" people have to be on death's door to get. Regardless of how you feel about our impeached leader, there were mistakes on all sides of the president's diagnosis and the media storm around it. This is a fairly balanced critique courtesy of Dr. Mike...
I remain dumbfounded that there are people who still don't take this shit seriously. And it starts at the top.
• Your'e! This is one of the best things I've seen all week courtesy of Captain Kate McCue's TikTok...
• DO NOT CALL OR TEXT! Despite telling The Democrats and The Republicans several times that I do not want them calling and texting me and to please remove me from their lists, I keep getting them. And when I complain I'm told that there are multiple lists and names get spread from one to the other. Which means it will never stop...
I don't think people understand how awful unsolicited contact is. When my mom was alive and had to be moved to a facility, every single phone call was dread-inducing. Are they calling to tell me she is sick again? Are they calling to tell me she broke the other hip? Are they calling to tell me she's dead? Alerts for texts like this were a complete nightmare. And now that she's gone it's not much better. Most every time I get a phone call... and at least half the time when I get a text... it's bad news. Just hearing my phone alert me that somebody is calling or texting is triggering. Is another one of my friends dead? Is somebody in my family in the hospital? What horrible even is it now? This fucking sucks when it's somebody calling that I KNOW. But when it's somebody I DON'T KNOW who is sending a text or a call that I DON'T WANT and DIDN'T ASK FOR? Fuck that. It is an invasion of my privacy and my life and it should be ILLEGAL.
• What? Holy shit. This is absolute insanity...
And it just gets worse...
I've been working my way through David Pakman's video catalog and occasionally come across stuff like this which defies belief. I would come unglued. Credit to Pakman for staying sane while addressing this guy, because it's all I can do to stay sane just watching.
• Beouf! I may detest Shia LaBeouf's "acting"... but holy crap what a great guy! This is awesome!
I sure wish I could get past his work on such travesties as Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Man Down, and the shitty Transformers movies. Apparently his last two films (Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon) don't suck but I've refused to watch them! I dunno. Maybe one day I'll have to get over it and just give them a try.
And I guess that's the end of my bullets this fine Sunday.
Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2020
I woke up in a haze and, for a quick second, didn't realize where I was. Maybe I was having a flashback to when I was globe-hopping in back-to-back-to-back trips and would forget where I was because the time changes and lack of sleep mess with your head. I've told the story of how I woke up once in a blind panic because I didn't know where I was or how I got there. Everything was unfamiliar and weird. It was the most scared I have ever been, and I didn't figure out what was happening until I turned on the television and saw a cooking show with adorable children using sharp knives and boiling water. They were speaking Japanese, at which time I remembered that I was in the small city of Fujikawa. I had been to a couple cities in Europe for vacation, flew to the East Coast USA for a meeting, flew back to Seattle so I could trade suitcases and get clean clothes, then immediately flew to Japan for work. It was exhausting stuff, but I was young and could handle it. Apparently now I'm decrepit and have trouble waking up in my own bed.
Don't get old, people, nothing good can come of it.
Tomorrow is Amazon Prime Day and another Apple Event.
I'm hoping denim goes on sale so I can afford jeans in the former and that the low-light capabilities in the new iPhone Pro make it worth the trade-up on the latter.
I'm optimistic but expecting disappointment.
Such is life when you don't know where you are and how you got here.
I'd argue that this is my new normal... but, when I really think about it, that's the way it's always been.
Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020
And here we are at the magical time of year when Apple unleashes a new series of iPhones! Can you feel the excitement? I know I can!
As with every Apple Event since I started blogging, I jotted down some notes while I watched it on my lunch hour. With any luck it's all coherent and doesn't have many errors. And if it does? Well, I guess you get what you pay for, dear reader.
The event kicks off with beautiful shots of the amazing architecture of Apple Park and the surrounding 175 acres. This is kinda what Apple does every time now, for which I cannot blame them. A) They know their HQ is fire, and if that's where I worked I'd be showing it off every chance I get too... and B) The shit cost FIVE BILLION DOLLARS and they need to get their money's worth when it comes to location shoots...
It's the Steve Jobs Theater, bro!
Can you believe that Apple's HQ is bigger than the Pentagon?
Then we zoom in on Apple CEO Tim Cook, who seems oblivious to the horrendous state of what passes for "customer care" at the company he runs...
Tim Cook... a firm believer in jazz-hands at presentations.
Tim is ever so excited to be unleashing amazing new Apple products with some HUGE announcements. Blah blah blah... easy to use. Blah blah blah... privacy. Blah blah blah... HomePod. And here we go...
Yeah, Apple can fuck right off with their HomePod crap. You can read all about my attempt to get one of these things working... and failing miserably despite hours on the phone with Apple's shitty fucking "customer support" at this link. If you're into "Smart Speakers" for your home, I'd go with SONOS or Amazon. There is zero benefit in investing in HomePod if you already have an iPhone or Apple Watch sitting around. They both have Siri which actually works. The only reason I wanted HomePod is to play my iTunes Match music... something they claim it does, but would not work no matter what "customer support" told me to do (when they weren't hanging up on me, that is).
The new speaker looks like a fabric mesh-covered orb. Far more interesting to me than the product was the brilliant special effects Apple paid for to transition to Bob Borchers talking about it...
Wait... what's behind that HomePod mini?
It's... a little miniature living room set!
When you have Apple-Money, all your videos are choice extreme!
From there it was all blah blah blah about the features and $99 price, which I couldn't give a shit about because I won't be going through any more crap with Apple's smart speakers after what happened to me when I tried last time.
I'm just going to get this out of the way right now. The new iPhones are going back to the gorgeous stylings of the iPhone 4 with a flat design finish that made it my favorite-looking iPhone of all time. The 12's are frickin' beautiful...
I love the look of this phone so much that I almost don't care about anything else! Except I really do.
The biggest selling point of the new iPhones is their ability to use 5G networks...
Is... is that Tiny Tim Cook down there on that stage?
5G offers amazing download and upload speeds for cellular, which is nice. Though I'm hardly expecting the world here. In the valley where I live, AT&T's service is a complete joke. I found out that the tower in my small city is actually connected via internet, and if internet goes down my phone goes down... plus the signal disappears completely when the phone tries to switch between towers from my town to the city next door. It's so bad that sometimes I have to reboot my damn phone so I can make a call. I hate this crap. 5G might get here in a year or two, but who knows if it will change anything for me. I guess I have the consolation that AT&T is apparently not charging an additional fee to use their 5G network, so there's that.
The deets on 5G were presented by a guy from Verizon. They are promising huge capacity at places where people assemble en-masse (and will again when we are through this pandemic)...
What about in my house, Verizon guy?
What I may do is take a look at Verizon (who always had great service, but awful customer support) if they get to me with 5G first. Who knows? It may be time to switch. Now that iPhones aren't specialized to work on specific networks, it's finally an option for me.
The entry-level iPhone 12 is pretty darn impressive. And, as previously mentioned, is gorgeous. Especially since it comes in colors which you can't get for the iPhone 12 Pro (I covet that Product RED phone)...
What's interesting here is that iPhone 12 is not that much different from the iPhone 12 Pro. You get two camera lenses instead of three and the memory configurations start at half what you get with the Pro model. The other specs are identical. But there is one very big difference... or rather, small difference. The iPhone 12 is also available as iPhone 12 mini...
Going back in time, the iPhone mini is the phone I actually wanted. I love the smaller size of older iPhones. But then I got accustomed to the larger size and don't feel the need to go back. Standard iPhone 12 starts at $799... iPhone 12 mini starts at just $699. Pretty good pricing for a brand new model phone as advanced as these guys.
And here's where things get interesting. For the last two iterations of iPhone, I went with the "Pro" models because I care about the camera on my phone more than I care about any other feature. Thanks to the Apple iPhone Upgrade program I'm enrolled in (I couldn't afford an iPhone any other way), I will be upgrading to the new Pro model again this time because the photography features are luxe...
I don't want the giant model iPhone Pro Max, so I'll be going with the "regular" iPhone Pro again.
Or will I...?
Both models feature wide-angle cameras with an f/1.6 aperture to get better photos in low-light situations. Both models have a new 7-element lens for superior optics. Both models have LiDAR for faster low-light focusing. But then... ONLY the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 47% larger image sensor with larger pixels to reduce noise and provide 87% better low-light photos. ONLY the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 5x OPTICAL zoom range thanks to the new 2.5x zoom lens over the 2x lens I have now, and that's a big deal. ONLY the iPhone 12 Pro Max has sensor-shift-based image stabilization. These are three features I want quite badly... but I can only get them if I buy the bigger phone?
Which puts me in a quandary.
I eventually managed to adjust to the bigger phones when Apple started making them bigger. But will I be able to adjust to going even bigger than that? I just don't know. I really don't know. The 1/4" width increase doesn't seem like a lot, but it will sure make one-handed typing more difficult... and make it harder to reach all my icons one-handed. And I have big hands! I would definitely have to re-think how I arrange my home screen. And then there's the whopping half-inch height increase. Again, that doesn't sound like a huge amount... but it's quite a chunk when you consider it's being added to a small phone that I use almost exclusively one-handed. What I should do... buy the iPhone 12 Pro and wait to see if the better camera stuff in the Pro Max makes it to the iPhone 13 Pro. What I will probably do... just pay the $100 extra and give the 12 Pro Max a try to see if I can get used to the massive size just to get the camera features I crave...
AND JUST LOOK AT WHAT IT CAN SHOOT!
And if I can't get used to it, I think I have 2 weeks to return it to Apple and get the 12 Pro. So... hello Pacific Blue iPhone Pro Max, I guess.
There's a lot to unpack here...
MagSafe! Apple ditched their amazing MagSafe magnetic-connector technology used for charging their laptops in favor of a standard USB-C cable connector. While more versatile, this still pissed me off because this was a great feature to have. But now it's back on the back of iPhone 12's! This allows you to align the wireless charger more precisely to charge your phone as quickly as possible... but MagSafe charger (or any charger)... NOT included. MagSafe also allows you to attach other accessories to your iPhone... like Apple's Leather Wallet Pouch ($60 and they don't even tell you how many credit cards it can hold!). This magnetic system for accessories will expand to include things like car-mounts and other cool stuff in the future.
Chargeless? As mentioned above, Apple no longer includes USB chargers with their products to "save the environment" (and save Apple a ton of money, natch). All you get is a USB-C to Lightning cable. Not a big deal since I have many chargers... but wow. What if you don't? This is nickel-and-diming at its most epic. You'd think Apple would sell these at cost to truly back up their reason for removing them... "Get a charger for $3 with each iPhone purchased if you don't already have one" kind of thing... but you think wrong. Apple charges you $19 for one. Ouch.
LIGHTNING?!? Yes, you read that right. Apple has moved to USB-C on every other device... but you're still saddled with Lightning on their phones. Utterly stupid at this point. They CLAIM it's because there are so many Lightning connector accessories out there... which there are... but that's a lame excuse. Include a frickin' DONGLE for people who want to attach a Lightning device. Sheesh.
Bumper? When I saw that Apple had gone back to the beautiful design aesthetic of the
Glass! Apple is using a new Corning Glass "Ceramic Shield" on their phones which they claim makes them much, much tougher and harder to break... with 4x better drop performance. Maybe for the first time since the first iPhone I will not buy a screen protector?
A14 Bionic! Apple's silicon chips have been best-of-class for a while. It's so good that they are building laptops and desktops around their own CPUs. With 6 CPU cores, 4 GPU cores, and 16 Neural Engine cores, Apple is not dicking around with the power you get with their hardware. Nor are they resting on their laurels. This advanced processing power promise some truly great things.
League! In a gaming coup, Apple convinced Riot to bring League of Legends to iPhone. This is kinda bizarre. An iPhone is as powerful as current dedicated gaming machines? Cool enough...
Compu-what? Thanks to the amazing power of the iPhone 12, Apple has added a lot of "Computational Photography" features to their latest cameras. NightMode, which was already amazing, makes the cameras perform even better in low-light for gorgeous flash-free photos. Smart HDR, which compiles multiple exposures to bring out details in highlights and shadows, has even more fidelity. Their "Deep-Fusion" technology which fuses multiple images into a single image with better clarity is now available on all cameras. Now more than ever iPhones are "cameras with phones" instead of "phones with cameras." I may never have to use my DSLR again. Did you see the photo samples I posted above? Holy cow.
HDR Vid! Apple is still shooting 4K video (instead of 8K like some others) but now it's shot in HDR... all processed on the fly! And not just any HDR. Dolby Vision HDR in 700 million colors. This is beyond amazing, and only possible thanks to the hardware and software Apple is playing with...
It's mindblowing to think that you can edit and photo-grade Dolby Vision HDR 4K video not in a high-end computer studio... but on your iPhone!
So RAW! In a welcome approach to image file format, Apple's new RAW files no longer smoosh all your processing and adjustments into a flat layer file. Instead the color, detail, and dynamic range of the original is preserved by writing out the actual data adjustments separately. That way, if you want to go back to the original source file, you totally can...
Super Whatever! The new display on the 12 Pro models are labeled "Super Retina XDR" and are larger than ever... while the phones themselves are surprisingly close to the same dimensions. The Pro is now 6.1" diagonal at 2532-by-1170 pixels (460 ppi) where the Pro Max is now 6.7" diagonal at 2778-by-1284 pixels (458 ppi). Apple rates them with a 2,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio which is darn spiffy. They are, of course, HDR displays for the ultimate in color depth and fidelity. It may seem like overkill, but this is what you need in order to look at the amazing photos you'll be taking in their best possible light.
LiDAR. Apple is once again going all-in on their LiDAR technology which creates a depth map of your environment. Not just for focusing in low-light, but also for VR and AR applications. I have not used it at all on my iPad, but maybe with Apple putting LiDAR on everything they will come up with more ways to use it...
Green! Just like with the Apple Watch event, Apple is touting their move towards renewable energy and their efforts to reduce their global impact. All rare earth magnets apparently now come from recycled materials, which is nice. As previously mentioned they are also telling us that they are saving the earth by not including headphones or a charger with their products. If you need one, you have to buy one.
Pricing! Apple is proud of the fact that they're cramming in more features and technology than ever... but keeping the price the same as the iPhone 11 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro starts at $999 and iPhone Pro Max starts at $1099. You lose the charger and headphones, but get double the starting memory, so I guess it's an even trade? I know I'd rather have the memory than yet another charger and yet another set of headphones I won't use.
And that was that. Overall, I'm quite happy with Apple's new iPhone lineup. If I have a complaint, it would be that I want the iPhone Pro Max camera features on the iPhone Pro, but I guess you can't have everything.
Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2020
Thanks to my volunteer work, I am accustomed to working with people who have unfathomable wealth. And while I can't speak for all of the vastly wealthy persons on earth, those I've worked with for charitable causes have also been unfathomably generous.
But just because I am accustomed to it doesn't mean that I am used to it. You never get used to being next to that kind of wealth. When you get to a certain financial level, money loses all meaning. You don't look at price tags. You don't care what something costs. You know you can afford it regardless of how much it is, so you don't have to care.
One of my many functions was to assist donors and their families before and after my meetings. Mostly in Las Vegas. Arranging for translators. Making reservations. Looking into custom experiences. Finding transportation. Researching people, places, and things. I pretty much had to do it all. Or at least be in charge of finding the people who could actually do it. Some of my friends familiar with my work assumed this made me a "Vegas Insider" but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure I could drop a name to jump a line from time to time, but unless you have millions upon millions of dollars, I really can't help you. Anything I might have an inside track for would be way above your price range.
I never minded being on-call 24/7 to assist absurdly wealthy people with their desires, questions, concerns, and problems. As somebody who loves adventure and likes to travel, it was like visiting an entirely new world. I got to see things most people probably think they know from watching TV shows and movies, but the reality is wildly different. At least most of the time it is.
I could blog for months about all of the stuff I arranged or was witness to. Mind-blowing stuff. Funny stuff. Inexplicable stuff. Obscene stuff. Crazy stuff. In the decade I spent volunteering, I saw it all. For obvious reasons, I can't talk about any of it. People entrusted me with discretion, and the last thing I would ever do was break that trust.
I can give some examples though!
On one of my last trips I had to work with a store to arrange for a jewelry purchase to be securely transported. I never found out what the purchase was (the translator /slash/ personal shopping assistant I worked with would only mouth the words "holy shit" when I enquired) but you just know that hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions of dollars?) was on the line to require that kind of fuss to be made. I was so nervous about it that I personally oversaw the loading/unloading.
On another trip I had to arrange shipment of a painting. And, no, I didn't walk it across the street to Kinkos. The gallery just needed me to provide details, gather information, contact a customs broker... that kind of stuff. And then I had to sign off on it all. The insured price was just over $6 million. I broke out into a cold sweat and asked to know what I was signing for. The agent took me to a private viewing room where the work was still set up for examination. Once I saw it, my legs turned to jelly. "Is the artist who I think it is?!?" I somehow managed get out. "Oh yes."
Many times I was asked to arrange for dining and show tickets and other mundane things. Except it is never really mundane when you do it for the people I was assisting. Restaurants and shows which are fully booked or sold out to me suddenly because no problem for them because money starts getting involved. And while I was forbidden from accepting gifts or anything (the sole exception being additional donations, of course!), I did get to experience life behind the golden curtain from time to time. I would receive permission to attend a private dinner... or an event... or otherwise indulge in a life far removed from my own. After a culinary tour I thanked my host because the vegetarian courses were some of the best food of my life. "I'm so happy you enjoyed it!" they replied. Later I found out that the chef who prepared the food and accompanied us was world-famous. I also found out that the cost per person for the event was $7,500 plus expenses. For 16 people. I was aghast... until I found out the $120,000 was all donated. Then I was aghast in a different way.
Since the pandemic shut down my volunteerism and my travel, I don't know if I will ever again get to drift through the private world of the über wealthy. Something tells me I might be done... even if the organization I work with starts up once more. That kind of travel and that kind of work takes a toll on you after a while.
Instead I get my unobtainable wealth fix like everybody else does... by watching TV shows and movies!
My obsession right now is Island Hunters...
It's like House Hunters and House Hunters International but instead of choosing from three houses to buy, these people are choosing from three islands.
Now, right off the bat I have to say... the people on this show are not what is considered "über wealthy." They have budgets, which is something truly über wealthy people just don't have.
But they might as well be über wealthy as far as I'm concerned. Because you won't see me touring million-dollar islands and being all worried as to where I can put the caretakers and servants so they don't intrude on my experience! And I certainly have never had to figure out where to build a helipad, that's for sure.
The show is kinda bonkers.
Island #1 is the right size, on-budget, and has a nice beach... but neighboring islands are too close and the existing house is not at all adequate and would have to be torn down so something more acceptable could be built!
Island #2 is under-budget with fantastic views, but is smaller and undeveloped... so it would take money and time before it was ready for construction and the house would only be 3,000 square feet.
Island #3 has gorgeous beaches, plenty of land, a great dock, and a home which would work with extensive renovation... but it's over-budget.
WHICH ISLAND WILL THEY CHOOSE?!?
I am really hoping that one day I'll be watching an episode and the buyer says "I just can't decide... so I want to buy all three!" because that's more in-line with what an über wealthy person would say.
Wealth is wasted on the wealthy. Wealth should really be given to somebody like me who knows how to spend it properly! So if any über wealthy person out there wants to make sure their money is spent right, my email address is in the sidebar of every page!
Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2020
On November 18, 1978, 907 people of the Jim Jones cult drank cyanide mixed in a grape-flavored drink to commit ritual suicide. A third of which were children. Reportedly many of them drank the poison willingly... but some of them had to be forced to drink at gun-point. However they drank it, they were dead within five minutes. This is where the phrase "Drinking the Kool-Aid" originates.
Though it wasn't actually Kool-Aid... it was the cheap-ass Kool-Aid knock-off called Flavor Aid.
But since Kool-Aid is more popular and well-known than Flavor Aid, that's the drink associated with those who blindly follow people or ideals to their own doom...
All of this was running through my head after receiving my ballot in the mail today (here in Washington State, all voting is via mail, and it's a Very Good Thing).
As usual, I am not voting for a damn thing in this election.
I really don't want to Drink the Kool-Aid, but so long as this country is stuck in this horrific two-party system that's killing us... I have no choice but to take a sip of it whenever elections roll around. Sure it will still kill me... eventually... but at least I'll be able to hang on to my soul for longer than five minutes.
Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2020
Fridays usually aren't all that special to me because I mostly work on Saturdays. Saturdays, on the other hand, are more special because I try to take Sundays off.
This morning when I woke up, the first thing I saw was a rainbow out my window...
I wasn't entirely sure what this would mean for my day, but it seemed like a good excuse to Make Friday Great Again.
I've decided to not go into the office tomorrow.
Posted on Saturday, October 17th, 2020
Each year I try to hold off turning on the heat for as long as possible. Most years I get a couple weeks to a month. This year I got a day. But I have the heat low enough that it's still a bit chilly in the mornings when walking on the floors. To combat my feet getting cold, I wear socks and put them under a heating pad while I work or watch television.
When I can, that is.
If I get up to get a load of clothes out of the washer... or go grab a snack... or any reason at all... my cats will spring into action. And most of the time they immediately fall asleep so that they're too cute to kick off of the heating pad...
In other news...
After spilling crumbs all over the floor, Jake got his head stuck in a Cheetos bag. Again. First he was shocked and just kinda sat there being all "Well. This isn't all I had hoped for"...
After taking this photo I went to take it off his head. Just as my hand touched it... BEDLAM. I then had to chase him around the living room as he crashed into everything. After the bag was finally off, he was just pissed... AT ME!
I'm having better luck with Fake Jake. I started dropping food down when he's around so as to distract him from running in my house while taking out the trash and stuff. Problem is that now he comes running every single time he hears my door open so he can extort food from me. Except when he came running this last time, he was too distracted to eat because he spotted a grey cat across the street...
This resulted in a fight. Not a real fight, but a play fight...
After which the grey cat came back to eat while Fake Jake stood guard...
When I mentioned this to a neighbor, she told me that she thought that they were related somehow. Brothers maybe.
I wouldn't know.
All I do know is that now I'll likely have two cats extorting food out of me instead of just one.
Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2020
Cooking on Sunday seems like a tough sell before facing your Monday, but sometimes life throws you an easy recipe... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• LEWKS! Dolly Parton is one of my favorite people on earth. This video of her looking back on her leaks over the year is a great indication why...
• Rona! Thinking that overcoming COVID gives you immunity is most probably a mistake.
• UnHallmark! SQUEEEs in Hallmark...
Amazing how some of the best Hallmark movies aren't actually made by Hallmark any more. This film, for example, features an interracial couple. That is so exceedingly rare at Hallmark that you could reasonably argue that it doesn't exist. But, hey, they're producing a gay Hallmark Christmas movie this year, so maybe anything is possible?
• Meow! This made my week. Do not mess with a cat's pet!
The cat is fantastic, yes... but that puppy is too adorable.
• Pete! I think it's important to revisit this moment in Pete Buttigieg's "town hall" on FOX "News" from 2019. It's where he's asked about what people are labeling "late-term abortion"... something which is not medically accurate ("late-term" is past an expected due-date for birth), but generally accepted to mean 21 weeks or later in pregnancy. I keep seeing "late-term abortion" pop up in conversation lately, and I honestly don't think people truly get what it is. As explained by Mayor Pete in the video below, for the vast majority of women who have been carrying a baby for 21 weeks, they're expecting to carry it to term. They want that baby. So if they're needing to get an abortion into the third trimester, it's not because they've changed their mind, but because of a catastrophic medical problem for either the mother or child. So to deny women a necessary medical procedure under those circumstances is both horrifying and cruel (read this, as just one example... there are thousands more). Yet this is what some very unreasonable and sadistic people are wanting to deny a woman in need at one of the worst times in their lives.
I was initially a fan of Buttigieg, but ultimately problematic in some areas. That being said, I'd sure pick him over Trump or Biden. His thoughtful, measured response to serious issues is something we are sorely lacking in government.
• Flix! I laughed far more than I should have at this...
Lord only knows what people would think when looking at my Netflix!
• T-RAV! One of the best things about visiting St. Louis is their "Toasted Ravioli" (AKA "T-Rav"). Which, most places, is actually deep-fat-fried instead of toasted. It's amazing stuff. It's not always easy to find a non-meat version, but it's always worth it. My problem is that St. Louis is 1600 miles away, so the only way I'm going to get it is to make it myself. Fortunately, it's pretty easy, and I'm giving my recipe below...
And that's a wrap on this delicious Bullet Sunday. THIS TIME!
Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2020
After seeing a rainbow out my window on Friday I decided not to go into the office over the weekend. I needed a short break so I can relax for a minute.
It didn't work out quite that way. Instead of putting in 8 hours at the office on Saturday, I put in 8 hours cleaning out my garage. Tore down my wood-shop... put away my tools... took out the trash... swept up the concrete... all because I didn't want to scrape frost off my windows in the morning.
Sunday I did a little better. Cooked up some toasted ravioli, vacuumed the stairs, used a leaf blower to clean out the catio and blow the cobwebs off my home... THEN DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR THE REST OF THE DAY! Well, not "nothing." But close to it. I ate crap food, watched crap television, and surfed crap internet. That's it.
Then I felt guilty about it.
What a waste of a day.
I fell asleep last night creating a list in my head of all the things that I could have done but didn't. I really should have cleaned the cat feeding station and scrubbed out my sink, right? Or steam-cleaned my floors. Or scrubbed my bathroom. Or washed my windows. Or vacuumed out my laundry room. Or cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer. Or any of a hundred other things that really need to be done around the house.
Instead I watched all the Police Academy movies.
I was compelled to after happening upon a story where Steve Guttenberg was talking about how they are wanting to reboot the series. Gutenberg left after #4 (Citizens on Patrol), which was pretty bad, and yet they slogged on for three more movies. By the time they got to #7 (Mission to Moscow) they had run the series so far into the ground that I’m amazed they think they can bring it back.
But you can say that about a lot of things, I suppose.
Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
I've written about how Jake crawls all over me while I sleep but, by some miracle, I don't wake up. I say "miracle" because I am a light sleeper.
But it doesn't work the other way around.
Probably because he's (relatively) small and I'm (relatively) big, so me bumping into him is quite a bit different than him bumping into me. Poor guy, I woke him up a half dozen times last night. Here he is wide awake after I rolled onto my side and ran into him...
But that wasn't bad enough. I was exceedingly restless and was pushing the poor guy around all night...
He looks like a Weeble. Just look at that face. He doesn't know what happened...
But does he go find a calmer place to sleep? Nope! Curls right back up against my legs.
I'd feel bad, but he sleeps all day long while I'm slaving away at work, so I'm sure he's all good.
Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
I've been walking to work whenever possible in order to fill in the "Activity Rings" on my Apple Watch so it won't bug me about being a potato. Few things are worse than sitting on your couch watching television and eating Cheetos when your Apple Watch buzzes and says "You can still do it!" At which point I get all mad at my watch and tell it "Stop bothering me! Can't you see I'm watching TV?
And, oh yeah, apparently it's healthy to get some exercise from time to time.
EXCEPT WHEN YOUR EXERCISE TRIES TO KILL YOU!
This morning on my way to work I tripped over some twine that had been discarded in the field behind my house. And it wasn't one of those "oopsies!" moments, I bit it pretty hard. Lucky for me, my security camera captured the whole thing. I've cropped into the footage here...
Hurt my wrist. Hurt my elbow. Really hurt my knee. And hurt my pride... because, seriously, am I so old that I'm going to have to get one of those LifeCall alerts now?
And since I'm The Olds now, I know I'm not going to heal as fast as I did in my 20's. Nope... this pain is going to be with me for a while. What's weird is that it doesn't hurt very much when I'm moving. It's when I've been sitting at my desk for a couple hours then try to move that's the killer. The pain in my knee is breathtaking. As in it literally takes my breath away.
Something else that took my breath away?
My Apple Watch, which is supposed to have "fall detection," didn't detect shit. Didn't beep and say "Holy shit, are you okay?" Didn't ask if I wanted to call for an ambulance. Didn't even have a laugh at my expense. Not sure what's going on there, but it's irritating to know that this feature will not be having my back if I need it. Or having my knee, as the case may be.
So that's my hump-day today. How're things with you?
Posted on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
I read yet another article calling me stupid because I have cloud internet security cameras. It's all BUT WHAT IF PEOPLE HACK YOUR CAMERAS AND SPY ON YOU? Well, first of all, my interior cameras automatically turn off when my iPhone detects that I'm at my house. By the time I walk in the door, all the cameras have switched off. In order for them to turn on again, I either have to leave my home or manually turn them on.
Second of all? Even if somebody hacked my cameras, what would they see? Me partying with cocaine and hookers while cockfights are being held in my living room?
In actuality, the worst thing that they might see would be me talking to my cats...
This is me telling Jake that he can't have my bread because it's my food and he just had his dinner. I then go on to explain that bread is probably not a good thing for cats to eat because it's people-food and might make his tummy hurt. When none of that works, I just tell him a story about that time I was partying with cocaine and hookers at a Vegas cockfight.
And, yes, I manually turned on my camera to get that photo. It's okay though because the hookers and cocaine is in the kitchen and the cockfight doesn't start until midnight.
And don't get all judgemental... we'll totally be masked for the cockfight.
I get enough judgement for having cloud security cameras.
Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2020
As I mentioned at the time of the Apple iPhone Event, I keep current with all the latest iPhone models for one reason and one reason only... the camera. Everything else is fine and has been for years because I am not a demanding mobile user. So long as I can make calls and texts and run a few apps, I'm good. But photography is a huge deal for me and I don't want to compromise on the camera. Thanks to Apple's relatively-economical iPhone Upgrade Program, I don't have to compromise.
As I also mentioned, the new jumbo-sized iPhone 12 Pro Max has a better camera than the
The "regular" iPhones just keeps getting bigger and bigger. My current model, the
Why oh why couldn't Apple just put the better camera in both of the
So I decided to try it out. As best I can, anyway, since it's not available until November.
I ordered a cheap $3
Then I padded the case so my
Holy crap is it big...
...it's not as bad as I thought it would be.
So long as I'm wearing my "regular" jeans and not my "skinny" jeans it fits just fine in my pocket. I have large-ish hands so I can comfortably hold it one-handed. And thanks to keyboard shifting, I will even be able to type on it one-handed...
Image from The Mirror UK
App icons may be tough to reach one-handed, but I can address that by moving rarely-used apps the furthest away.
And so... iPhone 12 Pro Max it is, I guess.
Here's hoping I can adjust to it well enough within Apple's two-week return window.
Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2020
Thanks to a combination of quarantine and cold weather, I'm spending a lot of time with my cats. They mostly sleep, which is fine. The problem is that they want to sleep on the heating pad that I use for my feet.
I'll get up to take a load of clothes out of the dryer or grab a snack, and they're all over it, which I talked about last Caturday...
In order to get my heating pad back, I bought Jake and Jenny pads of their own. I was even nice enough to spend extra for a large-sized model made specifically for pets. It took them all of two seconds to completely own them. Jenny claimed the one next to me, mostly, and Jake took the one in the loveseat...
They sleep there almost all the time now...
Except... they still want my heating pad too! Here's Jake being all irritated that my feet are in the way of my heating pad...
After he keeps nudging and pushing, I eventually give in...
So I switch to Jenny's heating pad, and... you guessed it...
My feet were trapped for nearly 3 hours.
About the only thing which gets my cats off their heating pads is when a fly that's looking for warmth manages to get inside the house. That gets their attention real quick...
Flies remain the best cat toy ever.
If it wouldn't freak me out more than it ever would my cats, I'd just leave the door open and let the flies in so my cats would be entertained.
Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2020
The first snow of the season would cause lesser blogs to crumble, but not this blog... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bridges! One of the things that boggles my mind when I travel is how old the world's architecture is. Notre Dame de Paris cathedral started construction in 1163, for example. The Colosseum in Rome was built in in the year 0070-something. And the Great Pyramid of Giza? Oh... that started in the year 2580 BC. How they were constructed is not really a mystery (despite people thinking the pyramids were built by aliens and shit) and it's no less fascinating than the structures themselves. Still, reading about how they were made is not the same as seeing it...
Makes me think of the amazing David Macaulay books, which were responsible for my escalating love of architecture as a kid. Some of them were animated by PBS, and boy wouldn't it be amazing to see more of that. In the meanwhile, we get an occasional video like this tossed our way.
• More! And so... Borders is dead. LONG LIVE BORDERS!
Thank heavens Johnny Harris is still making videos despite the rug being pulled out from under him when his series was canceled.
• Quibi-Free! It's kinda hilarious that absolutely everybody knew that crappy short-form streaming service, Quibi, would be a massive failure... except founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman. They had a shitty concept with shitty "shows" and it was inevitable that it wouldn't work (WE BELIEVE SHORT-FORM VIDEOS ARE THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT... HERE'S PART ONE OF SEVEN!). I thought it might take a year before they shut it down. It only took six months. Not a good day for the people and companies which invested ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS! Wealth is wasted on the wealthy. Holy shit... just think of the shows we could have gotten for that kind of money. Blergh.
• Hallmark? Weird that the promos from Netflix's slate of cheesy romance movies are out-Hallmarking Hallmark. As shown in the movie Falling Inn Love and the trailer for Operation Christmas Drop, Netflix is serious about quality over quantity, which is the exact opposite of Hallmark. We got another darn fine looking cheesy trailer for another cheesy Christmas romance...
Yeah, I'll be tuning into that one too.
• Normalization! I've added my pronouns to all my social media crap because I am 100% onboard with anything that encourages somebody to be who they are and live their best life at zero cost to me...
If you can remember their name, you can remember their pronouns. You don't have to agree with it. You don't even have to care. Because it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It's just common courtesy and common courtesy should be normalized. This should be our default.
• Bennu! After a little over four years, NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) finally made contact with the asteroid 101955 Bennu. It's mission is to grab a 2oz. sample of "asteroid stuff" off the asteroid...
Miraculously, OSIRIS-REx did too good a job. It ended up grabbing for more than anticipated. It sucked up so much that the sample collection door couldn't close and they are having to deal with that. But will this sample give us any insight into the origins of the universe? We won't know until OSIRIS-REx returns in three years. After that, we're not exactly done with 101955 Bennu. In its Wikipedia entry, we learn that the asteroid has a "cumulative 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2199."
• Hole! Falling down a YouTube rabbit hole is not always a bad thing. I've grown tired of trying to hunt down new podcasts to listen to while I work, so I've been playing YouTube videos that I can listen to while I work. One such YouTube channel I've been obsessed over this past week is Lindsay Ellis. She's a writer who has an interesting viewpoint on a number of topics. I accidentally came across her while researching the term "Streisand Effect" and there was no turning back. My favorite videos are when she does deep dives on Disney. They're fantastic...
But don't stop there, she's got thoughts on a myriad of topics. This one completely surprised me...
Intrigued? You can find her YouTube Channel here.
I'd go out to play in the snow, but it has long since melted.
Posted on Monday, October 26th, 2020
Not a great day to be Dave, just sayin'.
I worked a half-day on Sunday so I could be ahead of the game when I walked into the office this morning. That was absolute folly, because I was confronted by or Horrendous Monday Problem the minute I sat down and checked my email. Nothing that was my fault or the fault of anybody I work with, mind you, it was a 3rd party problem which is now my problem. In all honesty, I wouldn't be upset about it if I didn't have so much work already on my plate, but here we are. Oh well. It's not like I have anything piling up on my social calendar. Though I really, really need to clean my house.
Other than the impending cascade of work which will be falling on my head over the next several weeks, my mind has been focused on one thing and one thing only today...
Yep... next Saturday before bed we will be "Falling Back" an hour because we're fucking stupid like that. And I am already mortified at the idea of it because after the change all the daylight hours will be happening while I'm at the office. Instead of getting a small slice of sunshine at the end of my work day, I'll be getting jack-shit and total darkness. Which is buckets of fun when it starts snowing heavy.
Honest to God I don't know why people aren't in open revolt and advocating anarchy over the government forcing us to dick with the clocks twice a year. At the very least politicians should be voted out of office for refusing to do anything about it. NOBODY WANTS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME TO END, SO JUST MAKE IT PERMANENT OR WE WILL FUCKING END YOU! Is that what it's going to take?
In today's non-calling-for-the-heads-of-our-politicians news... NASA announced there's water on the sunlit surface of the moon. As in our moon. As in THE moon. It's not like a lake full of water, it's a relatively tiny amount of water... and it's apparently trapped in glass bead or some crazy shit like that... but it's still kinda a big deal. Water is heavy. Getting water off the surface of the earth is difficult, expensive, and takes a lot of energy. Being able to get it off the moon somehow would be a game-changer for space exploration and building a human colony on the lunar surface.
Given how we seem to be intent on fucking up the planet with the Supreme Court "justices" we're installing, the moon may very well be the only source of clean water we'll have left.
Until we fuck that up as well.
If there's one thing I'm confident of, it's that we will continue to burn down the planet because it's inconvenient to try and save it. If there's two things I'm confident of, it's that we will continue to burn down the planet because it's inconvenient to try and save it... AND we're going to be stuck with senselessly fucking with the clocks forever because politicians are too big of fucking assholes to give a shit about what US citizens want or need. There's lobbyist dick to suck for cash and reelection to think about, and that's all that matters to the pieces of shit.
And to us, apparently, since we keep reelecting them.
Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
The other day I was headed home from a quick run to the grocery store and, because it was just after 5:00, I decided to take "the back roads" home. This sounds more dramatic than it is. I live in a small city, so it's not like I'm avoiding a highway or anything... I'm just deviating from the "main" route that I'd normally use 99% of the time.
As I was crossing the railroad tracks, I had a flashback that hit me like a punch in the gut...
I had moved my mom to a facility on the coast in September of 2016 because she required a level of care I could no longer provide. At this point she still recognized me, so my visits every-other-week were especially painful. In my heart I felt like I was abandoning her every time I left even though my head knew that it was the only option available. After making the two-hour drive home from her birthday dinner in December, I saw that snow removal was happening on the "main route" so I turned to take "the back roads" in the hopes that I would get home quicker.
As I was crossing the railroad tracks after sundown, the right side of my car fell off the road and dropped between the tracks below. Turns out that when they plowed the street they plowed way too far to the right, so the road I was driving on was not actually the road, it was just snow pack. Snow pack that could not support the weight of my car, so down I went. It was such a sudden and unexpected jump that I remember biting my tongue.
In the photo above, it doesn't look like much of a drop, but when you look at a photo from the opposite angle, you can see it's quite a height to fall...
It was a drop I had no way of seeing because it was plowed even to the road, everything was white, and it was dark out.
At the time my financial picture was dire. I had to come up with a significant chunk of money to get my mom into her new place and I didn't have two nickels to rub together... let alone have money to pay for auto repairs. I remember sitting there behind the wheel with my car off the road feeling utterly defeated. My mom's health was declining. I was overwhelmed with work and having to travel. And my credit cards, which I had worked so hard to pay off, were likely going to build up again because there were just too many expenses piling up.
My car is front-wheel drive, so I was pretty much stuck. Trying to slowly back up just caused my tires to spin out in the snow. So I got out and took inventory of everything in my trunk. I had kitty litter, which I sprinkled under my left-front tire for traction. I also had a bundle of rope and some blankets, which I gathered up and stuck under my right-front tire. Then I
"Well that sounds expensive" I said out loud to nobody.
In the morning I backed out onto the driveway so I could try and see what was dragging. All I could tell was that it wasn't the muffler because the noise was coming from the front end.
Turns out it wasn't quite so bad as I had feared. Because cars are cheap crap now-a-days, it was a big piece of plastic which, apparently, was there to shield the underside of the motor from getting splashed by road grime. At first I tried to just rip it off the car but it was too well bolted on the back-side. My solution was to use zip-ties to pass through the holes in the plastic shield where the bolts had ripped through, and basically fasten it back to my car's frame.
It worked just fine and cost me $3.00 cash money.
A couple of years later I was driving down the highway when the zip-ties finally fell apart. So there I was all SCRAPE! SCRAPE! SCRAPE! again. This time with lots of people around. Fifteen minutes down the road I pulled off to an Auto-Zone so I could buy another bag of zip-ties to get me home. Though this time I spend $5.00 so I could get the industrial-strength version.
Those zip-ties are still holding my car together to this day...
And since it seems to be working, I guess I won't bother paying to have the plastic repaired or replaced... though I probably should at some point. Having people stare at me as I go driving by while my car is going SCRAPE! SCRAPE! SCRAPE! is enough to make me want to die from embarrassment.
And if I were to die?
Guess it only takes an 8-inch fall to kill you, as unlikely as that may seem.
Posted on Wednesday, October 28th, 2020
It was a day where so many things went wrong. Which is no surprise, because this has been the year where so many things went wrong.
12:30am — I have been trying to get more sleep, so I went to bed at half-past midnight. I fell asleep around 1:00am, which is very good for somebody who usually goes to bed around 3:30am. Any sleep I was going to get was short-lived, however.
1:10am — Remember how I paid extra for a kitchen faucet with the sensor under the neck where my cats couldn't turn it on?
My cats rarely jump up on my kitchen counters, but apparently Jake not only did that... but he accidentally found out the hard way how to turn the faucet on. It would automatically turn off after four minutes, but I didn't know what was going on, so I ran downstairs to see if anybody was hurt.
3:30am — I finally fell back asleep at 3:30am which, ironically, is my usual bedtime.
6:30am — I was awakened three hours later when the alarm went off to feed my cats breakfast (I'm easing them into the end of Daylight Saving Time).
7:00am — After taking a quick shower I plugged my shiny new 14 Terabyte backup drive into my NAS. Just try telling my 1986 self that a 14 TB drive would fit in my hand, be available to the public, and cost under $200. Incredible...
9:00am — After getting everything set up, starting my backup, and working for a bit while making sure everything was backing up, I headed off to work. The first thing I did was call up my NAS back home so I could grab the files I was working on... ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT EVERYTHING WAS DISPLAYED IN ITALIAN! And I could not find a way to change it back to English! My filenames were still as I made them, but all the commands and such are Italian now for some reason. I studied conversational Italian when I ended up going to Italy so often... but that's not at all helpful to me when trying to read technical stuff. I ended up using my memory, best guesses, and Google Translate to get my work done.
10:30am — I learned of another friend-of-a-friend who took their own life after being furloughed from their job due to the pandemic. That makes two. I did not know either of these people, but they were important to people I care about, so that makes them important to me. I honestly don't know what the final straw was which led to something so tragic. If I had to guess, it would be the end of the month being right around the corner and having no money to pay the bills. After not being able to find a job despite months of looking, their only hope was a stimulus check, but Mitch McConnell shut down Congress after shoving an inexperienced bigot into that vacant Supreme Court seat. So here we are.
11:40am — The sun started coming out, so I decided to take the rest of the day off to install some
12:35pm — Well, I didn't fall off the roof, so there's that. But, alas, the cable ended up being too short to reach the outlet, so I had to run into The Big City to get an all-weather extension cord. On my way out of town, I was reminded of the horrible news I had gotten just two hours earlier. BECAUSE HA HA HA HA! SUICIDE IS HILARIOUS!
12:45pm — And... I get pulled over by the State Patrol. I was not speeding, so I had no idea what the fuck I did to deserve that. Turns out my tabs were expired. Fortunately I had my receipt showing that I bought them online back in August... I just never got them in the mail. Weirdly enough, the officer told me that they were showing in the system as "unpaid." He said he wouldn't give me a ticket if I promised to look into it with the DOL. Nice guy. Even though he was unmasked the whole time.
1:25pm — I stopped at Petco so I could refill all my kitty litter buckets to get my cats through the winter. Alas, they only had enough to fill two of my four buckets... so I ended up having to buy two new ones. There's $6 I'll never get back.
1:40pm — I pick up the extension cable I needed. Whee.
1:55pm — Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to stop by Burger King for an Impossible Whopper. There wasn't a special going on, so I had to pay full price. Full price! Thanks, 2020! I got my order
2:30pm — Before pulling back into town, I make a detour to a licensing office to pick up my tabs. Since they too have no record of the payment going through despite my receipt, I end up having to pay the $68.00 + $2.25 credit card fee. This is turning out to be an expensive day.
2:45pm — I sit down for a minute. My plan was to figure out why my NAS is speaking Italian, but instead this happens...
3:00pm — After wrapping and taping the extension cord connection to keep water out, I zip=tied everything to the gutter struts to keep it out of the trough. Then I plugged the gutter cable and the roof cable into a "smart" outlet switch so my house can turn them on when it snows and the temperature is below freezing. Looks like I'm good to go for winter.
4:00pm — Before it gets dark, I install cameras in the cat shelters I set up last week, then change batteries on the WiFi temperature sensors. This way I can keep track of Fake Jake to make sure he's doing okay as the temperatures drop below freezing. Then I cut back my hydrangeas, loaded the dishwasher, and figured out how to get my NAS speaking English again.
5:15pm — I am tired. My back hurts. My feet are cold. So I grab a sandwich for dinner and put my feet up on my heating pad. I have it to myself for all of ten minutes. Despite having his own heating pad, Jake takes over mine every time...
9:15pm — Fake Jake calls it a night and is all comfy in his shelter. Tomorrow I'll shorten the berms so he'll be a little more sheltered from any wind...
9:30pm — Bloggity blog blog blog. Let's hope I can get to bed before 3:30am tonight.
Posted on Thursday, October 29th, 2020
Today was "Flu Shot Day" at work. I got it for years, then stopped because I so rarely get sick, then started again when my doctor said "Tens of thousands of people die each year from the flu, but you do you." Physically, the shots never bother me. I used to get three allergy shots a year for decades. It's the psychological game that does me in. It's like I can FEEL those tiny amounts of weakened flu strain viruses whooshing into my arm... along with my body going "Oh shit!" and creating antibodies to battle it out. I can't really, of course, but that's my imagination for you. Creating a horror narrative where none exist.
And speaking of a horror narrative...
As I think I've mentioned a few times, I have "themed" months for the movies I watch. October, of course, is devoted to horror films. It's not my preferred genre, to be sure, but there are gems to be had. Last night I finally got around to watching Doctor Sleep. And since HBO had the extended "Director's Cut" available, that's the one I went with...
I liked it. I liked it a lot.
It's light on genuine frights, but has some truly disturbing moments. One of the moments is so disturbing that I question how they even managed to film it. Acting is acting, but some things are just too "out-there" even when you're pretending.
Doctor Sleep is Stephen King's follow-up to The Shining. The sequel book was excellent, and very much worthy of the original novel. Even as a King fan, I find some of his books miss the mark for me, but this was definitely not one of them. It continues the story of Danny Torrance, now all grown up, after what he went through at the Overlook Hotel. Some of the beats are predictable (Danny is using drugs and alcohol to dull his "gifts") but there are still some good surprises to be had. Along the way he is contacted by Abra, a young girl with shining powers that eclipse his own. There's also a spooky group of villains in "The True Knot" who hunt people with the shining so they can torture them, kill them, and extract their power as life-extending "steam."
King infamously hated the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation of The Shining. I was disappointed in the changed that were made, but found Jack Nicholson's performance more than made up for it. This was one of those rare instances where I liked both the book and the movie... but for different reasons.
The Doctor Sleep film is kinda strange in that it's not a direct sequel to the movie, though it definitely takes its cues from there. It's also not a true adaptation of the book. It pays homage to both and I think is better because of it. Suffice to say that fans of both will find things to love and to not love so much.
The best part of the film is the casting. Ewan McGregor as Danny is flawless. He has an amazing knack for being able to draw on the haunted narrative that his character demands, and I don't know that many other actors could have done as good a job of it. They also struck gold with Kyliegh Curran as Abra, a critical role that would have ruined the movie if they cast somebody up to the task. But the real standout to me was Rebecca Ferguson as Rose The Hat. She completely nailed the role. You walk away from the film hating her. In a good way...
There wasn't a minute she was on screen where I wasn't wanting her dead.
I think the movie is approachable even if you didn't read/see The Shining. Though, of course, you'll get a little more out of it if you've seen the Kubrick film). If you're looking something to watch to get in the Halloween spirit, this is worth a look (and see the Director's Cut, if you can find it... HBO Max has it as an "extra").
And now, if you'll excuse me, the battle for flu virus supremacy continues in my bloodstream. I was told this year that they are giving out higher doses, so I guess we'll see. It's 2020, after all.
Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2020
I've always thought that this world was a strange place. Especially lately. There are times when I wake up, run through the news, then legitimately feel like I'm going insane. This morning's dose of crazy was this: The congressional candidates who have engaged with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Abbie Richards has created a "Conspiracy Chart" which maps out common conspiracy theories based on how detatched they are from reality. It's a fascinating look at things that some people actually believe which she prefaces thusly: "Shaming people who believe illogical things just pushes them further into their radicalization networks. Disinformation is everywhere. We need to teach people how to spot it early. This is my Conspiracy Chart. I think it helps."
by Abbie Richards • Click the Chart to Embiggen
It's that top category that's the most troubling... World ruled by supreme shadow "elites." Once you believe one, you usually believe most.
The level of denial required to literally believe this kind of stuff boggles the mind. Some of them, like "Bill Gates Microchipping," are just gross misrepresentations taken to illogical conclusions. Gates was worried that medical records are often difficult to find for persons in so-called "third-world countries" (if they are kept at all), and it might be beneficial if such records could be encoded on embedded chips so that people always had them always available in the case of an emergency. Somehow that evolved into him wanting to chip and track people, which is insane. Why would he? Whose stupid life is worth that kind of effort? But there are people who believe it despite it not making a lick of sense. Other conspiracy theories require willful ignorance. Simple observation will prove that the world is not flat, but it's an actual thing that people believe just the same.
So what to do? The believers appear to be so deeply mired in conspiracies that presenting them with facts seems woefully inadequate. Take flat earthers... flerfers... as an example. They seem to have excuses to explain away observable fact and simple logic, so what would do the trick? Assuming you could fly them off the surface of the earth into space and show them irrevocably that the earth is a sphere, they'd probably just think you're using NASA-funded mind-control to lie to them or something. I haven't a clue how to combat that.
Reading about conspiracy theories makes me wish I could be so detatched from reality.
At least until we have a reality that's better than this one.
Posted on Saturday, October 31st, 2020
Such as it is.
I bought Halloween candy thinking that I might devise some way of passing it out without the possibility of coming into contact with The COVID. But nope. In the nearly-five-years I've been living in my home, I've never drawn the blinds. I didn't even know if they would work...
On top of that, I had removed the blinds in the cat-tree window so the kitties wouldn't get tangled up in it, so I had to board it up. It's like living in a cave now. Doorbell disconnected. Porch lights off. My cats are not happy...
Though they would probably have been even more unhappy with the doorbell ringing and kids screaming "TRICK-OR-TREAT!, so I guess it's one of those six of one, half a dozen of the other situations.
Last week the movie version of Cats landed on HBO Max. It's just as horrific as I was lead to believe and there was just no way I could deal with it all. But then, jussssssst as I was grabbing the remote control, Jenny was suddenly invested...
Luckly, she only lasted about ten minutes, but still... that's something that will haunt my nightmares.
The good news is that I won't be having nightmares all alone. My cats are still all over my electric blanket from the minute I go to bed to the minute I wake up...
And now I suppose I'll have to deal with two rather upset cats. I explained that they could go out to the catio if they wanted to see outside, but they don't seem to be listening to me. What else is new?